New York Mice Host Dangerous Bacteria and Viruses Never Seen Before

On 17 Apr 2018, the New  York Times reported:

“Mice that live in the basements of New York City apartment buildings — even at the most exclusive addresses — carry disease-causing bacteria, antibiotic-resistant bugs and viruses that have never been seen before, a new study from Columbia University finds.”

For more visit:

nytimes.com/2018/04/17/science/urban-mice-viruses-bacteria.html

ANSWERS: The Next System Project

The Next System Project is an ambitious multi-year initiative aimed at thinking boldly about what is required to deal with the systemic challenges the United States faces now and in coming decades. Responding to real hunger for a new way forward, and building on innovative thinking and practical experience with new economic institutions and approaches being developed in communities across the country and around the world, the goal is to put the central idea of system change, and that there can be a “next system,” on the map.

Working with a broad group of researchers, theorists and activists, we seek to launch a national debate on the nature of “the next system” using the best research, understanding and strategic thinking, on the one hand, and on-the-ground organizing and development experience, on the other, to refine and publicize comprehensive alternative political-economic system models that are different in fundamental ways from the failed systems of the past and capable of delivering superior social, economic and ecological outcomes.

By defining issues systemically, we believe we can begin to move the political conversation beyond current limits with the aim of catalyzing a substantive debate about the need for a radically different system and how we might go about its construction. Despite the scale of the difficulties, a cautious and paradoxical optimism is warranted. There are real alternatives. Arising from the unforgiving logic of dead ends, the steadily building array of promising new proposals and alternative institutions and experiments, together with an explosion of ideas and new activism, offer a powerful basis for hope.

TheNextSystem.org

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Further Reading


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Biologists Warn: Conditions Exist for Mass Extinction Event

The world as we know it is slipping away. At the current rate of destruction, tropical rainforest could be gone within as little as 40 years. The seas are being overfished to the point of exhaustion, and coral reefs are dying from ocean acidification. Biologists say that we are currently at the start of the largest mass extinction event since the disappearance of the dinosaurs. As greenhouse gases increasingly accumulate in the atmosphere, temperatures are likely to rise faster than our current ecological and agricultural systems can adapt.

It is no secret that the Earth is in trouble and that we humans are to blame. Just knowing these grim facts, however, won’t get us very far. We have to transform this knowledge into a deep passion to change course. But passion does not come primarily from the head; it is a product of the heart. And the heart is not aroused by the bare facts alone. It needs stories that weave those facts into a moving and meaningful narrative.

Continue to full story.

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The Spread of the Caliphate: The Islamic State (Documentary Video by Vice News)

About

Part one in the video series was originally published on Jun 17, 2014. Below is the information provided on YouTube about the series.

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Part 1

Last week, the extremist militant Sunni group — Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), along with other Sunni militias and former Baathist party members, seized control of large parts of Iraq, including Mosul, the nation’s second largest city.

In many places, the Iraqi army barely put up a flight. Soldiers dropped their weapons and fled, whether because of fear, incompetence, or internal sabotage. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have become internally displaced after fleeing the fighting or the potential for potential Iraqi air strikes.

As ISIS and the other groups continued to fight their way to Baghdad, gruesome videos of brutal executions began to surface. Iraqi army units stationed near Baghdad, as well as Shiite militias, have pledged to not give up so easily.

Many say the conflict was brewing for a while, and that ISIS, along with some of the other groups, has had some semblance of control in Sunni areas for quite some time. They point to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki’s increasingly sectarian polices and crackdowns on Sunnis as having provoked the events of the last week, and fear this could be the start of a devastating civil war.

In the north, Kurdish forces known as the peshmerga have used the opportunity to seize disputed areas, territories that the Kurds long felt belonged to them but the government was hesitant relinquish. An informal border now exists between ISIS dominated areas and Kurdish territory. There has only been sporadic clashing, as neither group seems determined to break the strange detente.

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Part 2

As a coalition of ISIS fighters, Sunni militias, and former Baathists continues to push its way toward Baghdad, the Iraqi army and Shiite militias have fought to slow its progress.

In Mosul, however, ISIS and other Sunni forces now exert total control. Confusion remains about what exactly happened there, and why Iraqi soldiers abandoned their posts so quickly. There is much speculation about the role high-ranking officers in the Iraqi army might have played, and whether or not they were involved in internal sabotage or had advance knowledge of the assault. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has already fired a number of high-ranking officers, and ordered one to be court-martialed for desertion.
After fighting broke out, hundreds of thousands of civilians fled Mosul for territory controlled by the Kurdish Regional Government, many Iraqi army deserters among them. A seven-year veteran of the Iraqi army who sought refuge in Erbil agreed to talk to VICE News about what happened on the condition that we withhold his identity.

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Part 3

Up until a week ago, the city of Kirkuk in northern Iraq was one of the most hotly contested areas in the country, with a mishmash of Kurds, Arabs, and Turkomans, who all had strong claims to the land. Now that the Iraqi army has fled and ISIS has been repelled, the Kurds are fully in control, and hope to integrate the city into the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG).

Despite a large Kurdish presence in Kirkuk, this still might not be so easy. The Arab and Turkoman populations have long resisted Kurdish rule, and the large amount of oil nearby — which all of these groups want a fair share of — will only complicate matters further.

The Kurds, however, insist that control over the city is more a matter of dignity. Beginning in the 1960s and continuing throughout Saddam Hussein’s rule, many Kurds in the area were forced off the land during an Arabization process, which sought to change the demographics of the city. Poor Arabs were offered land, houses, and money to move to the city and take over formerly Kurdish lands.

During the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, Kurdish forces and American soldiers took the city from the Baathist party. But the Kurdish forces mostly withdrew, and the city was not annexed to the KRG.

Since then Kirkuk has been under a sort of coalition rule, though it is still considered a disputed territory. Kurds have sought to implement Article 140 of the Iraqi constitution, which would allow the people of Kirkuk to vote on whether or not the city should join the KRG or remain part of Iraq. But this vote has been delayed numerous times.

As recently as 2012, the Iraqi army and the Kurdish fighters, know as Peshmerga, engaged in a standoff that at times seemed like it could break out into conflict. For now though, the Kurds are firmly in control — though south of the city, sporadic attacks continue.

VICE News spoke with Falah Mustafa Bakir, the head of foreign relations for the KRG, who said that the Kurds have no intention of giving up their control of Kirkuk.

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Part 4

As the Kurds move further into Iraq’s disputed territories, not everyone is thrilled. In towns closer to Baghdad with higher Arab populations, like Jalawla and Sadiya, they have encountered fierce resistance from militant Sunni groups. While Kurdish peshmerga forces have been welcomed in many areas, they’ve needed to fight to enter others.

In our fourth dispatch amid the escalating crisis in Iraq, VICE News embedded with the peshmerga as they struggle to maintain control over their land, as tension in Iraq heightens between its main ethnic and religious factions.

We also spoke with a Sunni tribal leader in Kirkuk about the recent Kurdish takeover and the strategic importance of the city, and with Kurdish soldiers about why they volunteered to fight — and how they are successfully fending off advances from ISIS and the Iraqi Shiite military nearby.

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Part 5

Here’s Who Is Fighting in Iraq and Why: http://bit.ly/1yFN1ET

Crisis in Iraq: Kurdish Peshmerga Clash With Advancing ISIS: http://bit.ly/1ye4TGF

Check out the VICE News beta for more: http://vicenews.com

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Sierra Leone’s top Ebola doctor gets virus

(Source: “Sierra Leone’s top Ebola doctor gets virus,” 24 July 2014, Aljazeera)

The Ebola outbreak started in Guinea’s remote southeast in February and has since spread across the region.

Symptoms of the highly infectious disease are diarrhoea, vomiting and internal and external bleeding.

Three days ago, three nurses working in the same Ebola treatment centre alongside Khan died from the disease.

The head doctor fighting the deadly tropical virus Ebola in Sierra Leone has himself caught the disease, the president’s office said, as the West African outbreak claimed more victims.

It was not immediately clear how Khan had caught the virus.

His colleagues told Reuters that he was always meticulous with protection, wearing overalls, mask, gloves and special footwear.

There is no cure or vaccine for Ebola, which can kill up to 90 percent of those infected, although the mortality rate of the current outbreak is lower at around 60 percent.

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9 Month Old Baby Arrested and Put on Trial

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(Source: “Nine-month-old boy charged with attempted murder in Pakistan granted bail by judge,” The Independent, 4 April 2014)

The accused Muhammad Mosa Khan, released released on bail, due back in court on 12 April 2014…

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A nine-month-old boy charged with planning a murder, threatening police and interfering with state affairs in Pakistan has been granted bail after appearing in court this week.

Toddler Muhammad Mosa Khan was booked in February along with 30 other people, including a number of members of his family, after stones were allegedly thrown at police and energy officials during raids on homes in Lahore. Residents had been accused of not paying for electricity.

Apparently deciding that the nine month old was capable of – and had – taken part in the alleged stone throwing, Sub-Inspector Kashif Ahmed decided to arrest the child.

What followed were farcical scenes in which the toddler was fingerprinted and made to sit on his grandfather’s lap in court, drinking his bottle.

The judge quickly granted bail for the child, along with the other people accused in the case.  Baby Muhammad is however currently expected back in court on 12 April – although the judge apparently noted the absurd nature of the charge, he does not have the powers to dismiss the case against him.

The toddlers grandfather, Mohammad Yaseen told Reuters: “He was booked under Section 326 and was presented before a court. He doesn’t even know how to pick up his milk bottle properly. How can he stone the police?”

Sub-Inspector Ahmed has reportedly been since suspended as a result of making the arrest and Punjab Chief Minister Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif said stern action will be taken against the police officials who registered the case.

The age of criminal responsibility in Pakistan is supposed to be 12-years-old.

Aborted babies incinerated to heat UK hospitals

(Source: “Aborted babies incinerated to heat UK hospitals,” The Telegraph, 24 March 2014)

The bodies of thousands of aborted and miscarried babies were incinerated as clinical waste, with some even used to heat hospitals, an investigation has found.

Ten NHS trusts have admitted burning foetal remains alongside other rubbish while two others used the bodies in ‘waste-to-energy’ plants which generate power for heat.

Last night the Department of Health issued an instant ban on the practice which health minister Dr Dan Poulter branded ‘totally unacceptable.’

At least 15,500 foetal remains were incinerated by 27 NHS trusts over the last two years alone, Channel 4’s Dispatches discovered.

The programme, which will air tonight, found that parents who lose children in early pregnancy were often treated without compassion and were not consulted about what they wanted to happen to the remains.

One of the country’s leading hospitals, Addenbrooke’s in Cambridge, incinerated 797 babies below 13 weeks gestation at their own ‘waste to energy’ plant. The mothers were told the remains had been ‘cremated.’

Another ‘waste to energy’ facility at Ipswich Hospital, operated by a private contractor, incinerated 1,101 foetal remains between 2011 and 2013.

They were brought in from another hospital before being burned, generating energy for the hospital site. Ipswich Hospital itself disposes of remains by cremation.

“This practice is totally unacceptable,” said Dr Poulter.

“While the vast majority of hospitals are acting in the appropriate way, that must be the case for all hospitals and the Human Tissue Authority has now been asked to ensure that it acts on this issue without delay.”

Sir Bruce Keogh, NHS Medical Director, has written to all NHS trusts to tell them the practice must stop.

The Chief Medical Officer, Dame Sally Davies, has also written to the Human Tissue Authority to ask them make sure that guidance is clear.

And the Care Quality Commission said it would investigate the programme’s findings.

Prof Sir Mike Richards, Chief Inspector of Hospitals, said: “I am disappointed trusts may not be informing or consulting women and their families.

“This breaches our standard on respecting and involving people who use services and I’m keen for Dispatches to share their evidence with us.

“We scrutinise information of concern and can inspect unannounced, if required.”

A total of one in seven pregnancies ends in a miscarriage, while NHS figures show there are around 4,000 stillbirths each year in the UK, or 11 each day.

Ipswich Hospital Trust said it was concerned to discover that foetal remains from another hospital had been incinerated on its site.

A spokeswoman said: “The Ipswich Hospital NHS Trust does not incinerate foetal remains.”

She added that the trust “takes great care over foetal remains”

A spokesman for the Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said that trained health professionals discuss the options with parents ‘both verbally and in writing.’

“The parents are given exactly the same choice on the disposal of foetal remains as for a stillborn child and their personal wishes are respected,” they added.

Channel 4 Dispatches, Amanda Holden: Exposing Hospital Heartache, airs tonight (Monday March 24) at 8pm

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“FUTURE – EARTH” (2015) Documentary

Humanity is at a crossroads! on this 2015 documentary we will try to predict what will happened in the future: Nearly half of the Amazon rainforest has been deforested, Hi-tech, intelligent buildings are revolutionizing the urban landscape, Smaller, safer, hi-tech automobiles, Major advances in air travel comfort etc..

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Family calls Ankeny police raid excessive

(Source: “Family calls Ankeny police raid excessive,” Des Moines Register, 4 February 2014, by Grant Rodgers and Jens Manuel Krogstad)

Justin Ross was in the bathroom next to his bedroom when a squad of Ankeny police officers rammed through a side door of his home.

It was just before 10:20 a.m. Thursday, and the officers — wearing body armor and carrying rifles — used a battering ram to enter the house on the east side of Des Moines. According to a search warrant, they were looking for cellphones, a television, other electronics and clothes they say might have been purchased with stolen credit cards.

“I want to know why they didn’t just knock, why they didn’t communicate with anybody outside of taking a battering ram to the door,” Ross, 24, said. “I’ve never been anything but cooperative so they had no reason to believe anybody was going to resist … If they’d have just knocked and said, ‘Hey, can I search,’ we would have let them.”

Critics say the search, which is gaining national attention, was an excessive, military-style raid for a credit card theft case. Ankeny police are defending the raid, saying they needed to use that approach to protect officers’ safety.

Ankeny police Capt. Makai Echer said officers knew at least one person in the house had a permit to carry a firearm. She said the department isn’t currently investigating how officers handled the search, nor does the department have a written policy for executing warrants.

“Every warrant that we do is based on information we have about the subjects in the residence we’re entering,” she said.

No one had been charged by Tuesday with crimes stemming from the credit card theft, but Echer said police have requested arrest warrants after finding items purchased illegally. She would not say how many warrants were requested, for what specific charges or what items police believe were purchased with the cards.

Radley Balko, a journalist who blogged about the incident on WashingtonPost.com, said the type of force used by Ankeny police is on the rise nationally.

“I think there is cause for great concern when it comes to the idea of state and local governments using more and more force for increasingly petty crimes,” said Balko, the author of “Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America’s Police Forces.”

At least two doors kicked open by police were damaged, as well as a side door that police used a battering ram to open, said Ross, who lives at the east Des Moines house.

He and three others were in the house in the 2100 block of East 41st Street, where he lives with his mother, when the officers arrived. Ross said he originally thought people were in the house fighting.

Ross said he had his 9mm handgun with him and took it out, but quickly holstered it when he heard someone call out “police.”

Ross said he handed the weapon to an officer who entered the bathroom and was handcuffed as police began their search.

Experts question if tactic was necessary

The search has sparked debate over whether the show of force was necessary or violated civil liberties.

A search warrant given to Ross indicates officers were looking for a variety of electronic devices and clothes. It does not detail what led officers to the east-side home or its occupants; such information is regularly provided when warrants are filed in Polk County District Court.

Drake University law professor Mark Kende, who watched video of the incident, questioned whether a group of armed officers was necessary and “professional” for a simple credit card theft case. Bringing so many firearms into the house could have caused more danger unless officers believed the people inside would be combative, he said.

“As a matter of common sense, it’s really bad policy, even though we expect police officers to take extra precautions to protect themselves,“ Kende said. “To come in with that much firepower and in that particular way is just an invitation to a terrible, tragic accident, which fortunately didn’t occur in what appears to be a credit card case.”

Credit card fraud cases typically involve a detective or two knocking on the door, said police consultant and former Des Moines Police Chief William Moulder.

However, the number of officers involved in last week’s incident and a quick entry with a battering ram suggests Ankeny police believed the team was searching a dangerous home, he said.

“What I observed is a high-risk entry plan that’s usually associated with knowing there are armed and dangerous people on the inside,” Moulder said. “None of us know — outside of the Ankeny police — what information they had going in.”

Two arrested on unrelated warrants

Two of the people in the house, Richard Forstier Adair, 35, and Miranda Nikol Scigliano, 27, were arrested on unrelated warrants, Ross said.

Adair faces charges of narcotics possession with intent to deliver, while Scigliano was charged with a probation violation. The couple has lived at the house for about a month.

Ross said he and his mother took the couple in but did not know about the outstanding warrants.

As police entered the house, one officer tore out one of the security cameras Ross installed to monitor the property. He said they had cameras because he and his mother had trouble with car burglaries.

In the basement, Ross said, an officer tried to cover another camera with blankets.

He questioned why police didn’t want to be taped.

Covering or disabling cameras is standard procedure for officers executing a search warrant or raid to ensure people inside can’t monitor approaching officers, Moulder said.

Ross, who has a clean criminal record except for traffic violations, said that he feels lucky that he realized the commotion was coming from police officers and put down his gun before the door was opened.

He said he also gets nervous when he hears the doorbell ring or a knock now.

“Every time somebody knocks on the door, every time somebody’s here, I have to wonder, ‘Are they coming back?’” he said. “Have they found a reason they want to arrest me?”

Troubling new details about the violent police raid in Iowa

(Source: “Troubling new details about the violent police raid in Iowa,” Washington Post, 5 February 2014, by Radley Balko)

The Des Moines Register has the latest on that volatile police raid that I wrote about yesterday. The raid was apparently for suspected credit card fraud. Ankeny Police Department officials are now speaking out. But I’m not sure they’re helping their cause:

Ankeny police are defending the raid, saying they needed to use that approach to protect officers’ safety.

Ankeny police Capt. Makai Echer said officers knew at least one person in the house had a permit to carry a firearm. She said the department isn’t currently investigating how officers handled the search, nor does the department have a written policy for executing warrants.

So they see nothing wrong with how the raid was handled, and the department has no stated policy for executing warrants. All of that is troubling enough. (The lack of a written policy also suggests a lack of training.) As is the “officer safety” justification, as if that in itself trumps the rights of the people inside the house.

But citing the fact that one of the occupants in the house — Justin Ross — had applied and was approved for a gun permit  is probably most disturbing of all. First, hardened criminals who are a threat to kill cops tend not to be the sort of people who bother with permits, or to register their firearms with the government. I don’t think that point needs more elaboration.

Second, Ross was not one of the suspects for whom the police were looking. It seems highly, highly unlikely that had the police knocked on the door, announced themselves and waited for someone to answer it, a law-abiding citizen like Justin Ross would be a threat to suddenly decide to kill some cops. But it’s much more likely that Justin Ross might feel the need to defend himself upon hearing unidentified parties break down two doors, followed by the sight of several armed men in his home. Indeed, that’s very nearly what happened.

Finally, think of the implications if this were the policy everywhere. It would mean that if you’re a gun owner, the police could cite that fact in and of itself as justification for them to violently tear down your door, rush your house with guns and point those guns at your family — even if their warrant is for a nonviolent crime, even if it’s for a white collar crime, even if you’ve dutifully registered your gun with the government. In fact, given that Ross’s permit is how the police knew he was armed in the first place, especially if you’ve dutifully registered your guns with the government. If I were a gun owner in Des Moines, I’d be asking some questions.

Aside from the gun issue, the paper also asked William Moulder, Ankeny’s police chief, about how the officers dealt with the family’s security cameras:

Covering or disabling cameras is standard procedure for officers executing a search warrant or raid to ensure people inside can’t monitor approaching officers, Moulder said.

I don’t know that this is true. It might be reasonable to cover an outside camera as they approach if they had a no-knock warrant. But this wasn’t a no-knock raid. They had a knock-and-announce warrant. The entire point of a knock-and-announce warrant, at least in theory, is to give the occupants of the home the opportunity to answer the door peacefully, thus avoiding damage to their property and violence to their persons. (As I pointed out in the previous post, in many jurisdictions the knock and announcement have become perfunctory, but at least we’re supposed to have that protection.)

Even conceding the point, I’m not sure how it justifies ripping a camera from the wall, or covering a camera once they’ve already broken into the house. That suggests more that they didn’t want an independent account of how the raid was conducted. And with good reason.

CORRECTION: The police cited Ross’ permit to carry a gun, not to won one. So the language in my post about him registering his gun with the government is technically incorrect. But the general point still stands. It was Ross’s decision to get a government-issue permit that the police say justified the raid.

Monitoring Global Threats to Society

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