This is How We Got to Zero Ebola Cases in West Africa:

whitehouse.gov - by Amy Pope - December 30, 2015

Summary: The world has now gone over 40 consecutive days without a single reported Ebola case. Here's how we helped make that possible.

For the first time since this outbreak was detected in West Africa in early 2014, the world has now gone over 40 consecutive days without a single reported Ebola case.

The World Health Organization (WHO) announced that Guinea has successfully halted Ebola transmission and now joins Sierra Leone and Liberia in recovering from this devastating disease. This represents a significant milestone for Guinea, West Africa, and the international community.

Today we reflect on what is possible when partners around the world come together to solve a common problem. Through the undaunted courage of local communities and heroes from around the world, West Africa was able to halt Ebola. The United States was proud to offer help along with partners around the world.

Today we remember Ebola’s victims, and embrace the communities, families, healthcare workers, and survivors.

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Cancer is not just 'bad luck' but down to environment, study suggests

bbc.com - December 17th, 2015 - James Gallagher

Cancer is overwhelmingly a result of environmental factors and not largely down to bad luck, a study suggests.

Earlier this year, researchers sparked a debate after suggesting two-thirds of cancer types were down to luck rather than factors such as smoking.

The new study, in the journal Nature, used four approaches to conclude only 10-30% of cancers were down to the way the body naturally functions or "luck".

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UN: Freak Weather a Warning to Step Up Climate Defences

             

Houses inundated in York, England after torrential rain caused rivers to burst banks. Damages are set to run into the billions of pounds (Flickr/ Alh1)

CLICK HERE - The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) - Facing the new abnormal

After severe flooding and shock tornadoes, now is time get serious about precautionary steps to counter climate impacts says UN disaster chief

climatechangenews.com - by Alex Pashley - December 30, 2015

Governments have been told to face a “new abnormal” of extreme weather after a wave of natural disasters wrought death and economic damage around the world in recent days.

Heavy flooding in Britain and South America, and devastating tornadoes in the US has laid bare the lack of official preventative measures, Margareta Wahlstrom, head of the UN’s disaster risk reduction agency said on Tuesday.

They highlighted how climate change-linked events were becoming harder to predict as the planet overheats, she said.

Implementing an UN-backed framework to protect people against climate impacts agreed by 187 states earlier this year was “critical”, the official at the Geneva-based agency said.

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Quantifying Poverty as a Driver of Ebola Transmission

                                                  

journals.plos.org - Fallah MP, Skrip LA, Gertler S, Yamin D, Galvani AP (2015) Quantifying Poverty as a Driver of Ebola Transmission.
December 31, 2015 - PLoS Negl Trop Dis 9(12): e0004260. doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0004260

Abstract

Background

Poverty has been implicated as a challenge in the control of the current Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Although disparities between affected countries have been appreciated, disparities within West African countries have not been investigated as drivers of Ebola transmission. To quantify the role that poverty plays in the transmission of Ebola, we analyzed heterogeneity of Ebola incidence and transmission factors among over 300 communities, categorized by socioeconomic status (SES), within Montserrado County, Liberia.

CLICK HERE - Quantifying Poverty as a Driver of Ebola Transmission

 

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NGOs Speak: Their Most Pressing Humanitarian Priorities for 2016

             

South Sudan tops many aid agencies' humanitarian priority lists. as a three-year civil war exacts a heavy toll on the citizens of the country.  (Nichole Sobecki, AFP)

Following a call from the UN for a record $20.1 billion, 15 of the world's leading aid agencies were polled on their top humanitarian concerns.

mg.co.za - by Tom Esslemont - December 28, 2015

There’s one prediction for 2016 that most aid workers can make with confidence – that the new year will usher in rising humanitarian needs.

Besides displacement caused by long-term conflicts in places like Syria and South Sudan, there is also the threat of more violence in Central African Republic and hunger caused by El Nino, which is expected to bring more drought to already-parched southern regions in Africa and potential flooding in the east. . . .

. . . A Thomson Reuters Foundation poll asked 15 of the world’s leading aid agencies to name their top three humanitarian priorities for 2016. Not surprisingly, Syria topped the list of concerns. But what were the others?

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UN: Over 60 Million People Displaced Worldwide This Year

CLICK HERE - UNHCR - Mid-Year Trends 2015

CLICK HERE - UNHCR - Press Release, 18 December 2015 - UNHCR report confirms worldwide rise in forced displacement in first half 2015

UN refugee agency says 1 in 122 people on the planet has been forced to flee home

america.aljazeera.com - December 18, 2015

The number of people forcibly displaced worldwide is likely to have "far surpassed" a record 60 million by the end of this year, mainly driven by the Syrian war and other protracted conflicts, the United Nations said on Friday.

The estimated figure includes 20.2 million refugees fleeing wars and persecution, the most since 1992, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said in a report.

Nearly 2.5 million asylum seekers have requests pending, with Germany, Russia and the United States receiving the most of the nearly 1 million new claims lodged in the first half of the year, it said.

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Freak Heatwave Pushes Temperatures at North Pole Above Freezing

A polar bear walks across the ice in the Arctic near the North Pole

submitted by Albert Gomez

phys.org - by Clément Sabourin - December 31, 2015

Temperatures at the North Pole rose above freezing point Wednesday, 20 degrees Celsius above the mid-winter norm and the latest abnormality in a season of extreme weather events.

Canadian weather authorities blamed the temperature spike on the freak depression which has already brought record Christmas temperatures to North America and lashed Britain with winds and floods.

The deep low pressure area is currently looming over Iceland and churning up hurricane force 75-knot winds and 30-foot waves in the north Atlantic while dragging warm air northwards.

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CLICK HERE - CNN - It was warm at the North Pole

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El Niño Strengthens Amid Warning Millions Could Face Hunger and Disease

             

Sea surface temperatures in October -- orange-red colors are above normal.

cnn.com - by Brandon Miller and Nick Thompson - December 30, 2015

If you're wondering why your white Christmas didn't arrive as scheduled this year, meteorologists have a two-word answer: El Niño.

This year's El Niño weather event -- characterized by warming waters in the eastern Pacific Ocean -- is already one of the three strongest ever recorded. NASA says El Niño conditions are still strengthening, and it could even rival the intensity of the record 1997 event that wreaked worldwide weather havoc.

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Psychological Resilience: State of Knowledge and Future Research Agendas

                               

odi.org - by Rebecca Graber, Florence Pichon, Elizabeth Carabine - October 2015

This report investigates new insights in contemporary psychological resilience research. 

The paper draws on peer reviewed studies and articles examining how psychological resilience is built through protective mechanisms, evolves as a dynamic psychosocial process, and can be facilitated through positive adaptation. 

It aims to summarise the extent of the evidence, framed around the following questions:

CLICK HERE - Psychological Resilience: State of Knowledge and Future Research Agendas

 

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Preparing for the Next Ebola - The Year In Review

submitted by George Hurlburt

             

Caught off guard in 2014, health care regrouped and reorganized in 2015.  (Photo: Romeo Ranoco/Reuters)

takepart.com - by Hannah Hoag - December 14, 2015

As horrific images of bodies piling up in West Africa and stories of children orphaned by Ebola filled American media over the summer and early fall of 2014, many feared someone with the virus would arrive undetected in the U.S. and spur a major outbreak. But experts considered the risk of that happening to be very low, says Kamran Khan, an infectious disease physician at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto and the founder of BlueDot, a social enterprise that uses big data to mitigate the impacts of global infectious disease. . . .

. . . Yet in October 2014, Thomas Eric Duncan was admitted to a Dallas hospital with Ebola shortly after arriving in the U.S. from Liberia.

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Guinea’s Ebola Outbreak is Declared Officially Over

submitted by George Hurlburt / Mike Kraft

An MSF health worker holds baby Nubia Souma, the last known Ebola patient in Guinea.  Image: Samuel Aranda/MSF

CLICK HERE - WHO - STATEMENT - End of Ebola transmission in Guinea

(ALSO SEE SITUATION REPORTS AND RELATED ARTICLE BELOW)

Forty-two days have passed since the last person with Ebola tested negative for the virus.

thejournal.ie - by Sinead O'Carroll - December 29, 2015

THE WORLD HEALTH Organisation has declared the Ebola outbreak in Guinea officially over.

In a statement this morning, the global body confirmed that 42 days had passed since the last person with Ebola in the country tested negative for the virus for a second time.

Guinea will now enter a 90-day period of “heightened surveillance” to ensure any new cases are identified before being passed on to other people.

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From the Ground Up: Building Our Energy Future, One Turbine at a Time

MidAmerican Energy Company

This video explains how a wind farm is built.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=84BeVq2Jm88

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NOAA: Salt Marshes Combat Climate Change

             

Shorebirds feed in the shallows of Estero Bay State Preserve.  In the background are black mangroves, which are part of a salt marsh, which absorbs large amounts of carbon dioxide.  (Photo: File photo by Andrew West)

CLICK HERE - RESEARCH - PLOS One - Living Shorelines: Coastal Resilience with a Blue Carbon Benefit

news-press.com - by Chad Gillis - December 24, 2015

Natural, living shorelines in areas like the Gulf of Mexico absorb a lot of carbon dioxide and will help blunt the effects of climate change.

And coastal wetlands store several times the amount that can be absorbed by mature tropical forests, the research shows.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration studied wetlands in North Carolina and reports that plants, sand and rocks are better for the environment than man-made features like concrete sea walls and high-rise condominiums.

The report, published earlier this month in the journal PLOS One, shows that natural features in coastal areas help keep atmospheric carbon dioxide levels lower.

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A New Weapon in Fight Against Ebola

The team has achieved an unprecedented goal: connecting 12 fullerenes, each one endowed with 10 sugar moieties, to other central fullerene, thus mimicking the presentation of carbohydrates surrounding the Ebola virus.  Credit: N. Martín & B. Illescas / UCM

CLICK HERE - A giant fullerene system inhibits the infection by an artificial Ebola virus

CLICK HERE - STUDY - Synthesis of giant globular multivalent glycofullerenes as potent inhibitors in a model of Ebola virus infection

scitechconnect.elsevier.com - by SPLICE - November 19, 2015

A discovery which may lead to the elimination of Ebola infections was published in Nature Chemistry a few days ago. The investigators reported that giant fullerene system inhibits the cell infection by an artificial Ebola virus.

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Over 1 Million Children Out Of School Due To Boko Haram Attacks: UN

            

Members of the Bring Back Our Girls group campaigning for the release of the Chibok schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram Islamists march to meet with the Nigerian president in Abuja, on July 8, 2015. Members of the BringBackOurGirls campaign group marched on July 8 to meet President Mohammadu Buhari to pressure him to end the deadly Boko Haram insurgency and free 219 schoolgirls held by the group since April 2014.  PHILIP OJISUA VIA GETTY IMAGES

UNICEF has been able to reach 67,000 students by setting up temporary learning spaces and renovating and expanding schools.

huffingtonpost.com - by Eleanor Goldberg - December 22, 2015

As Boko Haram continues to wage targeted attacks against civilians in northeastern Nigeria and its neighboring countries, more than 1 million children have been forced out of school -- a consequence that leaves them more susceptible to violence, poverty and child marriage. 

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