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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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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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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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As Heat Soars, New Yorkers Warned to Stay Out of Rivers

msnbc.com - July 22, 2011

A warning by the Hudson River near West 90th Street on Thursday. Millions of gallons of untreated waste spilled into the river - Monika Graff for The New York Times

New Yorkers have been warned to stay out of the Hudson and Harlem Rivers on one of the hottest weekends of the year after millions of gallons of untreated sewage discharged from Manhattan into the waterways because of a four-alarm fire that shut down one of the city’s largest sewage treatment plants.

The city's drinking water has not been impacted, officials said, but people have been cautioned not to swim or kayak on the waterways through at least Monday.

The New York City health department also declared large parts of the East River and the Kill Van Kull unfit for swimming through the weekend.

Local authorities did not expect any beaches in the area to be closed because of the spill.

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Software Uses Twitter To Track Dengue Outbreaks In Brazil

submitted by Mary Suzanne Kivlighan

Kaiser Family Foundation - July 19, 2011

The New Scientist reports on a software program that is being used "to identify a high correlation between the time and place where people tweet they have dengue and the official statistics for where the disease appears each season."

Researchers at two Brazilian National Institutes of Science and Technology worked together to create the software, which filters tweets containing the word "dengue" and user location details. "Dengue outbreaks occur every year in Brazil, but exactly where varies every season. It can take weeks for medical notifications to be centrally analyzed, creating a headache for health authorities planning where to concentrate resources," the publication notes. Using Twitter could speed up response time, according to Wagner Meira, a computer scientist at the Federal University of Minus Gerais who led the study (Corbyn, 7/18).

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Upper Midwest Braces for Dangerous and Long Heat Wave

Reuters - July 15, 2011

(Reuters) - A heat wave hovering in the central and southern states is expanding north to states not accustomed to intense and prolonged heat.

"This is going to be especially bad in the upper Midwest," said Chris Vaccaro, a spokesman for the National Weather Service.

Temperatures will be in the 90's and possibly hit 100 degrees in some places. When humidity is factored in, the heat index could reach 115 degrees.

These soaring mercury levels are unusual for states like North and South Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin, Vaccaro said, which makes this heat wave particularly dangerous in those places. In Minneapolis alone highs could reach 15 degrees above normal.

The heat was apparently to blame for the death of a 72-year-old man in South Memphis, Tennessee.

The man died Wednesday, according to the Shelby County Health Department.

The air conditioning in his home was malfunctioning and blowing hot air. And while a fan was in use, the windows were closed, the agency reported.

Traces of Radiation Found in 2 Whales Off Japan

submitted by Luis Kun

by Mari Yamaguchi, Associated Press - June 15, 2011

In this Monday, June 13, 2011 photo released by Tokyo Electric Power Co., a machine collects radioactive substances in the air for sampling at the Unit 3 of the crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Okuma, Fukushima prefecture, northeastern Japan. (AP Photo/Tokyo Electric Power Co.) EDITORIAL USE ONLY

TOKYO (AP) — Japanese whalers caught two animals along the northern coast that had traces of radiation, presumably from leaks at a damaged nuclear power plant, officials said Wednesday.

Two of 17 minke whales caught off the Pacific coast of Hokkaido showed traces of radioactive cesium, both about one-twentieth of the legal limit, fisheries officials said.

They are the first whales thought to have been affected by radiation leaked from the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant since it was hit by a March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

"The levels are far below the limit, and the meat from the catch is safe for consumption," Fisheries Agency official Kosei Takekoshi said.

The Greek Mental-Health Crisis: As Economy Implodes, Depression and Suicide Rates Soar

Time.com - June 27, 2011

by Alain Salles / Le Monde / Worldcrunch

While the rest of Europe may be tormented by the thought of having to cough up ever more money to bail out Athens, the once carefree Greeks are getting more depressed by the day. Psychiatrists say that the economic crisis has triggered a 25% to 30% increase in the number of patients seeking their help.

"There is an increase in the number of patients suffering from minor psychiatric conditions: anxiety, panic attacks and depression," says Dimitris Ploumidis, head of a mental-health center in eastern Athens. "In September 2010, people had to wait two weeks for a consultation, now it's more like two and a half months."

Before the crisis started, Greece was proud to be at the bottom of the list in Europe for the number of suicides, with a rate of 2.8 per 100,000 inhabitants. But that might be changing. Experts believe that in 2009 the rate of Greek suicides increased by 18% increase compared with 2007, with that figure expected to have climbed even higher in 2010.

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