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WHO Members Back U.S., Russia Efforts to Keep Smallpox Cache - WSJ.com

  " Members of the World Health Organization on Thursday backed efforts by the U.S. and Russia to keep the last known stocks of the smallpox virus for research to combat terrorism, in an initial debate over the fate over what's left of one of the world's most lethal pathogens. " http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703921504576094231966272152.html  

Green City that has a Brain

An eco-city in Portugal that its makers are aiming to build by 2015 takes its cues from the nervous system IF TODAY'S cities were living things, they would be monsters, guilty of guzzling 75 per cent of the world's natural resources consumed each year. Now a more benign urban creature is set to emerge. The planned city of PlanIT Valley, on the outskirts of Paredes in northern Portugal (see map), is aiming to be an environmentally sustainable city. And, just like an organism, it will have a brain: a central computer that regulates everything from its water use to energy consumption. The central computer of the city will act like a brain, regulating water use and energy consumption Various eco-cities are in the pipeline, but this could be the first to be fully built - by 2015 - and could open its doors as early as next year. While Masdar City in Abu Dhabi welcomed its first inhabitants this month, it will not be completed until at least 2020. And the development of Dongtan near Shanghai in China has not even got off the ground yet, following financial and political difficulties. Like other sustainable cities, PlanIT Valley will treat its own water and tap renewable energy. Buildings will also have plant-covered roofs, which will reduce local temperature through evapotranspiration, as well as absorbing rainwater and pollutants.

U.S. lifts moratorium on deep-water drilling in Gulf of Mexico

Reporting from Washington — The Obama administration on Tuesday lifted its moratorium on oil and gas drilling in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico, potentially blunting a serious political issue in the weeks before the midterm congressional election and signaling its confidence in newly tightened regulation. "There has been significant progress over the last few months in enhancing the safety of future drilling operations, and in addressing some of the weaknesses in spill containment and oil spill response," Michael Bromwich, director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, said in announcing the moratorium's end. "More needs to be done," he said, "but we believe the risks of deepwater drilling have been reduced sufficiently to allow drilling under existing and new regulations." But the moratorium's end satisfied few players involved in offshore oil drilling issues. Some environmentalists criticized ending the drilling suspension while investigations and cleanup continued into the April 20 explosion of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, which killed 11 people and unleashed the biggest offshore oil spill in U.S. history. Get breaking news alerts delivered to your mobile phone. Text BREAKING to 52669.

Oil Spill Panel: White House Blocked Federal Scientists From Releasing Worst-Case Scenario For Gulf Disaster

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration blocked efforts by government scientists to tell the public just how bad the Gulf oil spill could become and committed other missteps that raised questions about its competence and candor during the crisis, according to a commission appointed by the president to investigate the disaster. In documents released Wednesday, the national oil spill commission's staff describes "not an incidental public relations problem" by the White House in the wake of the April 20 accident. Among other things, the report says, the administration made erroneous early estimates of the spill's size, and President Barack Obama's senior energy adviser went on national TV and mischaracterized a government analysis by saying it showed most of the oil was "gone." The analysis actually said it could still be there. "By initially underestimating the amount of oil flow and then, at the end of the summer, appearing to underestimate the amount of oil remaining in the Gulf, the federal government created the impression that it was either not fully competent to handle the spill or not fully candid with the American people about the scope of the problem," the report says.

U.S. Institute of Peace: Briefing on Crime and Governance in Haiti

Dear colleagues, Haiti remains in a desperate state on essentially all measures of health and human security. The governance and crime issues are now moving to the forefront in the post-earthquake mission again, as the elections draw near. The health and human security issues will need to be addressed within any credible approach to the governance and management of the crime issues. If you are interested in how the U.S. Department of State and Rand are looking at Haiti's resilience, the upcoming U.S. Institute of Peace briefing on October 13 may of interest.

Taxonomy upgrade extras: 

BBC: Water map shows billions at risk of 'water insecurity'

About 80% of the world's population lives in areas where the fresh water supply is not secure, according to a new global analysis. Researchers compiled a composite index of "water threats" that includes issues such as scarcity and pollution. The most severe threat category encompasses 3.4 billion people. Writing in the journal Nature, they say that in western countries, conserving water for people through reservoirs and dams works for people, but not nature. They urge developing countries not to follow the same path. What we're able to outline is a planet-wide pattern of threat” Charles Vorosmarty City College of New York Instead, they say governments should invest in water management strategies that combine infrastructure with "natural" options such as safeguarding watersheds, wetlands and flood plains. The analysis is a global snapshot, and the research team suggests more people are likely to encounter more severe stress on their water supply in the coming decades, as the climate changes and the human population continues to grow. They have taken data on a variety of different threats, used models of threats where data is scarce, and used expert assessment to combine the various individual threats into a composite index.

Where is the Evidence-base for Health Policy and Health System Management?

There is a need for a One Health Knowledge Management System that addresses the need for evidence in health policy and health system management in the U.S. as well as overseas. The article below rightly claims that evidence-based medicine is growing and is positively impacting clinical practice. That said, there needs to be a One Health Knowledge Management System that can inform policy makers, planners, and health systems managers about the cascading health issues and impacts within their domains and jurisdictions. See below.

Taxonomy upgrade extras: 

Nosocomial Infections: Drug-resistant "Superbugs"

September 17, USA TODAY – (International) Drug-resistant ‘superbugs’ hit 35 states, spread worldwide. Bacteria that are able to survive every modern antibiotic are cropping up in many U.S. hospitals and are spreading outside the country, public health officials said. The bugs, reported by hospitals in more than 35 states, typically strike the critically ill and are fatal in 30 percent to 60 percent of cases. Israeli doctors are battling an outbreak in Tel Aviv that has been traced to a patient from northern New Jersey, said the director of infection control and epidemiology at the University of Pennsylvania and president of the Society of Healthcare Epidemiologists. The bacteria are equipped with a gene that enables them to produce an enzyme that disables antibiotics. The enzyme is called Klebsiella pneumoniae carbapenamase. It disables carbapenam antibiotics, last-ditch treatments for infections that don’t respond to other drugs. “We’ve lost our drug of last resort,” he said. Source: http://www.usatoday.com/yourlife/health/medical/2010-09-17-1Asuperbug17_ST_N.htm

Poverty Rate In U.S. Saw Record Increase In 2009: 1 In 7 Americans Are Poor

Why is it that Americans are discovering that the U.S. now has the largest increase in poverty in more than a half a century under the administration of a U.S. president that may be one of the most sympathetic to the needs of the middle class and the poor of all presidents during this period? One answer might be that it reflects a long tail of a previous president due to the engagement of elective wars with poor outcomes and disastrous tax and social policies. This will most likely be at the heart of the political rhetoric of the Democratic party during the the 2010 mid-term and 2012 presidential election. However, there may be a deeper truth, which our national leadership and the American public is missing, or is unwilling to speak about. American society has deep structural problems from long-standing policies and socio-poliical behaviors stemming back to the early 1980s and before, that have aggregated into disastrous unsustainable, yet well entrenched, societal patterns. The key question is "When will the sociopolitical climate be ripe for political leadership to emerge that can speak honestly with the American public about the federal debt?

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