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Is 'Contagion' Fact or Fiction?

by Kim Carollo - ABC News - September 7, 2011

      

Jennifer Ehle stars as Dr. Ally Hextall in the film "Contagion." (Courtesy Warner Bros.)

There may not be any zombies, vampires or mutant monsters wreaking bloody havoc on innocent people, but the fact that "Contagion" has a premise that experts say is all too possible may make it the scariest movie of the season.

In the film, a star-studded cast battles a lethal species-jumping virus rapidly spreading sickness and death around the world. Director Steven Soderbergh said in interviews that he aimed for scientific and medical realism in the film. Producers and writers consulted with a number of leading virologists and shot some scenes at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta.

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Texas Firefighters Face Stiff Challenge

by Rick Jervis - USA Today - September 7, 2011

      

A residential street is lined with homes destroyed by a wildfire in Bastrop.

BASTROP, Texas – Todd Jamison, a division chief for the Little Elm Fire Department near Dallas, has fought house fires and wildfires.

But when wildfires — such as the ones in this area 25 miles east of Austin — engulf homes and neighborhoods, his job becomes far more complex, he says.

On Wednesday, Jamison, one of hundreds of Texas firefighters helping fight a nasty blaze here, revisited one of the homes he and his team spent nearly two hours trying to save the day before. Now, it was a pile of smoldering cinderblocks. The only signs of what was once a home: a few charred lawn chairs and a melted toilet.

"This is a different beast for us," Jamison says of the ongoing firefight. "We're fighting to protect homes."

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Controversial Study Shows Higher Cancer Risk in 9/11 Firefighters

CBS News - September 2, 2011

      

A firefighter breaks down after the World Trade Center buildings collapsed September 11, 2001 after two hijacked airplanes slammed into the twin towers in a terrorist attack.  (Credit: Mario Tama/Getty Images)

(CBS) The 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York City killed almost 3,000 people, but what about New Yorkers who were in the area at the time but survived? New studies show they face heightened risk for asthma, post-traumatic stress disorder, and cancer - but not all health experts agree the attacks are to blame for survivors' health problems.

For one study - published in the September 1 issue of The Lancet - Mount Sinai researchers evaluated more than 27,000 police officers, firefighters, construction workers, and office workers who were in or around ground zero over the nine years following 9/11. The researchers found more than one in five responders had multiple physical or mental health illnesses.

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Video - Mobile Phones Without Towers Coming Soon

The Sydney Morning Herald - September 1, 2011

A mobile phone communications system that doesn't need towers is being developed at Adelaide's Flinders University.

The Serval Project was inspired by the 2010 Haiti earthquake in which the phone network crashed as infrastructure went down.

Creator Paul Gardner-Stephen said the earthquake showed the lack of resilience in a communications system that relied on infrastructure.

"If the towers are knocked out, mobile phone handsets become useless lumps of plastic in our hands," he said.

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Improved Response to Disasters and Outbreaks by Tracking Population Movements with Mobile Phone Network Data: A Post-Earthquake Geospatial Study in Haiti

                      

Abstract

Background

Population movements following disasters can cause important increases in morbidity and mortality. Without knowledge of the locations of affected people, relief assistance is compromised. No rapid and accurate method exists to track population movements after disasters. We used position data of subscriber identity module (SIM) cards from the largest mobile phone company in Haiti (Digicel) to estimate the magnitude and trends of population movements following the Haiti 2010 earthquake and cholera outbreak.

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Cellphones Could Help Doctors Stay Ahead Of An Epidemic

submitted by Michael Kraft

by Christopher Joyce - npr.org - August 31, 2011

      

Two women check their cellphones as they hawk their wares on a bridge over the Artibonite River, whose waters are believed to be the source of Haiti's 2010 cholera outbreak.  Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

The year 2010 was a very bad one for Haiti. It started with an earthquake that killed over 300,000 people, mostly in the crowded capital of Port-au-Prince. After that, cholera originating in a U.N. camp broke out in a northern province and eventually spread to the city.

But public health researchers learned something useful from the tragedy: Cellphones can help stem an unfolding epidemic and funnel aid to the needy.

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The Economics of Rapidly Emerging Cities

As the human populations of our small planet exceeds 7 billion on its way potentially to 9 million or 10 billion by the mid-21st Century, migrations of millions are becoming common place -- some out of desperation, others out of seeking opportunity and a better life.  According to a large percentage of climatologists and other scientists that are studying global change, the social ecologies of many large cities will become non-viable for their human populations and many other species due to climate change, the drying up of water supplies, the lose of food sources, natural disasters, wars, and other factors.  In other cases, new cities of opportunity or attractive culture will draws those seeking a better life and way of being.  

Tens of millions, and perhaps hundreds of millions will be forced to leave their homes in search of more viable communities.  Millions more will create new communities with intentionality, exploring new economic, social, and political models that improve health, human security, resilience and sustainability for the new citizens.  In some cases, simple shared principles will shape new, fast growing economies, and, in other cases, rules and conditions will be imposed on inhabitants of new communities and cities.

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H5N1 - Possible Bird Flu Resurgence

crofsblogs.typepad.com - August 29, 2011

More on the mutant H5N1 strain

Thanks to Sari Setiogi for tweeting the link to this article in Kompas.com: Indonesia Facing Biggest Problems of Possible Bird Flu Resurgence. First an excerpt, then a comment:

The United Nations warned of a possible major resurgence of bird flu and said a mutant strain of the H5N1 virus was spreading in Asia and elsewhere. 

When Capitalism Converges With Resilience

It is hard to argue against that fact that the U.S. and even "Communist" China, for that matter, have great influence in global markets and on health and human security -- for their own people as well as human populations world-wide. The power of capital within global, regional, national, and local markets has been transforming the world since the growth of the industrial revolution, which has only accelerated since the broad introduction of global communication and computing in the 20th century. That said, there has been growing criticism of the destructive nature of market fundamentalism and laissez faire economics in the face of a growing awareness of ecosystem carrying capacities, and the problems inherent in growth economies in decline.  So what happens when capitalists become aware of the destructive nature of growth economies, where populations are exceeding the carrying capacities of ecosystems and mass consumption economies begin to collapse?

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