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Google Launches Sidewalk Labs; Aims to Help Fix Cities


Google co-founder and CEO Larry Page speaks during the keynote presentation at Google I/O 2013 in San Francisco.(Photo: Jeff Chiu, AP)

Google (GOOG) is starting a new, independent urban innovation company called Sidewalk Labs that aims to improve cities, according to a post on Google+ by CEO Larry Page. The Street - by Jessica Guynn - June 11, 2015

SAN FRANCISCO — Google, famous for its ambitious projects to build self-driving cars and high-altitude balloons that beam the Internet to earth, is now taking aim at fixing another major problem: city life.

The new initiative, called Sidewalk Labs, will use technology and innovation in an effort to improve urban life at a time when the U.S. population is gravitating to cities, according to Google CEO Larry Page.

Based in New York, it will be run by Dan Doctoroff, a former deputy mayor of New York City who will combine his experience in managing cities with funding from Google.


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The Case for Improved Diagnostic Tools to Control Ebola Virus Disease in West Africa and How to Get There

PLOS by Arlene C. Chua,Jane Cunningham,Francis Moussy, Mark D. Perkins,and Pierre Formenty      June 11 2015

 ...Since the identification of Ebola in Guinea in March 2013, rapid deployment of international mobile laboratories through WHO networks—Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network (GOARN) [2] and Emerging and Dangerous Pathogens Laboratory Network (EDPLN) [3]—has been vital to outbreak control operations. Deployable laboratories from multiple international organizations have been established near Ebola treatment centers (ETC) in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone....

However, several technical and social factors conspire to delay diagnosis, starting with weak surveillance systems and slow patient access to centralized ETCs. While the mean processing time is 5 hours (time difference from when samples are received in the laboratory to when they are tested), there is a marked difference in the time from when the samples are collected from suspected patients to the time they are received by the laboratory

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Bethlehem's Orasure gets government contract to develop quick Ebola test

LEIGH VALLEYLIVE  by Tony Rodin                             June 12, 2015

BETHLAHEM, PENNSYLVANIA  --OraSure Technologies Inc., a Bethlehem company that pioneered a quick test for determining HIV infection, has received a more than $10 million multiphase government contract to do the same for Ebola diagnosis, the company said Friday morning.

The company has developed a prototype device "that appears to deliver analytical performance similar to laboratory PCR tests when evaluated on stored samples from infected patients," the company said.

The three-year contract begins with a $1.8 million commitment and can add $8.6 million for clinical and regulatory activities, the company said.

The Ebola test will utilize the same OraQuick technology used in the company's rapid HIV and hepatitis C test kits, the company said.

Read complete story.

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International Ebola Recovery Conference Ending Ebola: “Get to Zero, Stay at Zero and Rebuild”

Congo Town, Freetown, Sierra Leone. Photo: Dylan Lowthian/UNDP

Image: Congo Town, Freetown, Sierra Leone. Photo: Dylan Lowthian/UNDP - May 9th, 2015

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will host an International Ebola Recovery Conference in July to ensure that the affected countries receive the resources and support they need to overcome the wider socio-economic consequences of the ongoing Ebola outbreak.

The conference at United Nations Headquarters in New York on 10 July 2015 will take place in cooperation with the Governments of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, together with other partners. 

With numbers of Ebola cases have dropped, the affected countries still need the support of the international community to get to zero cases, stay there, and to move forward on the road to recovery.


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Five G7 Nations Increased Their Coal Use Over a Five-Year Period, Research Shows


Exhaust rises from cooling towers at the new Neurath lignit coal-fired power station at Grevenbroich near Aachen, western Germany. Photograph: Patrik Stollarz/AFP/Getty Images

CLICK HERE - RESEARCH - Let Them Eat Coal: Why the G7 must stop burning coal to tackle climate change and fight hunger - by John Vidal - June 8, 2015

Five of the world’s seven richest countries have increased their coal use in the last five years despite demanding that poor countries slash their carbon emissions to avoid catastrophic climate change, new research shows.

Britain, Germany, Italy, Japan and France together burned 16% more coal in 2013 than 2009 and are planning to further increase construction of coal-fired power stations. Only the US and Canada of the G7 countries meeting on Monday in Berlin have reduced coal consumption since the Copenhagen climate summit in 2009.

The US has reduced its coal consumption by 8% largely because of fracking for shale gas.


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Akon Launches Solar Academy That Will Supply Electricity to 600,000,000 People in Africa

Photo: Denis Van Tine/AP Photo

The musician is giving back to people in a major way. - by Yesha Callahan - June 2, 2015

When he’s not singing or producing music, Akon is busy providing sustainable living options to people in African countries. The Senegalese-American singer’s initiative, appropriately called Akon Lighting Africa, aims to supply electricity to 600 million people in Africa who lack it with the launch of the Solar Academy.



CLICK HERE - Akon Lighting Africa

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How Mobile Technology Is Bringing Trauma Relief After Ebola

SINGULARITY HUB   by Nathan and Elie Calhoun                                                   June , 2015

....the promise of mobile technology is that we can connect the farthest, most remote corners of the globe to the Internet—where a treasure trove of information and applications can be had nearly for free.

 For aid workers, this technology is proving a powerful, even revolutionary tool.

We hope our new community mental health app will demonstrate a new depth of potential impact.

When we started designing our psychosocial services app for Liberian communities recently ravaged by Ebola, we thought we’d first need to justify the very idea of focusing on mental health in a country facing so many pressing concerns.

The health system in Liberia confronts massive challenges. When hospitals are non-existent or seriously under-staffed, when malaria is endemic and young mothers die during childbirth—it can be tempting to ask people suffering from trauma to simply “toughen up.”

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Stopping the next pandemic today


By Ron Klain, the  White House Ebola response coordinator from October 2014 to February.

....To the extent there is discussion of improving the international response to epidemics, the focus has been on the need to reform the World Health Organization. Such reforms are badly needed, but even a fully effective WHO will not close the most gaping holes in the world’s epidemic response system. Even if the WHO did a better job of recognizing outbreaks that pose a risk of epidemic and alerting the world that action is needed, it does not have the substantial response function needed to combat such an epidemic. Recent discussions about creating a WHO response function — assuming that the agency could be trusted to manage it — rely largely on overburdened and underfunded nongovernmental organizations to staff a response. Thus, any new WHO response capacity will lack military-style mobile hospitals ready to be deployed; battalions of medical personnel with accompanying security support to isolate and treat the infectious and the ill; or a medical airlift capacity to move patients to places where they can get help...

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Ebola Response Reveals the Need for New Models for Collaboration Between the Private and Public Sectors

A Report by the World Economic Forum and BCG Analyzes the Private Sector's Response to the Ebola Outbreak and Distills Lessons for Public-Private Partnerships in Future Health Crises

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CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA-- The private sector played an important role in the global response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa not only by providing financial and in-kind donations but also by acting as a partner to support response activities.

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Global health leaders ask G7 for post-Ebola rapid response unit

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REUTERS by Kate Kelland                                                           June 5, 2015
LONDON -- Global health leaders will ask G7 leaders this weekend to back the creation of a specialist rapid response unit to tackle outbreaks of infectious killer diseases.

The corpse of a patient who passed away is given back to the family for funerals after being decontaminated by the MSF teams. It was washed with chlorine solution and put it in a hermetic bag also disinfected to leave the high risk area.

The move reflects how the World Health Organization in particular was caught unprepared last year by Ebola, which spread through three West African countries, has killed 11,000 people, and will not be stamped out before the end of this year.

Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust global health charity, said the unit should come under the WHO, but be free of bureaucracy and able to act independently "in days" when a potentially fatal epidemic begins...

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