We begin with the measles, via Medical Daily:
California Has 3 New Measles Cases, Arizona Says Outbreak Winding Down
California public health officials have confirmed three more cases of measles in an outbreak that began in late December, bringing to 113 the total number of people believed to have been infected in the state.
Health officials in Arizona, where seven cases of measles have been documented, said the outbreak would likely be considered over in that state if no further infections were reported over the weekend.
Across the United States, more than 150 people have been diagnosed with measles, many of them linked to an outbreak that authorities believe began when an infected person from out of the country visited Disneyland in late December.
rom Outbreak News Today, another continent, another outbreak:
Dengue fever in Malaysia: 18,000 cases and 44 deaths
The dengue fever outbreak in Malaysia last year reached approximately 100,000 cases, about a three-fold increase from 2013.
It would seem that 2015 will be another harsh dengue fever season in the southeast Asian country based on numbers reported by the Malaysia Ministry of Health Friday (computer translated).
The total cumulative dengue cases reported from Jan. 4 to Feb. 13, 2015 is 17,918. This included the 450 cases reported on Friday alone. Of this total, health authorities are reporting 44 dengue-related fatalities.
And another, via Medical Daily:
India Sees Rapid Increase In Swine Flu Deaths
India has seen a sharp rise in the number of swine flu deaths and reported cases this year, prompting officials to investigate the cause and step up efforts to combat the virus.
The H1N1 virus caused 485 deaths in India between Jan. 1 and Feb. 12, additional health secretary Arun Kumar Panda told reporters on Friday.
He said more than 6,000 people had tested positive for the virus during that time.
IPS-Inter Press Service covers another continent and another plague:
Cancer Locks a Deadly Grip on Africa, Yet It’s Barely Noticed
Hidden by the struggles to defeat Ebola, malaria and drug-resistant tuberculosis, a silent killer has been moving across the African continent, superseding infections of HIV and AIDS.
World Cancer Day commemorated on Feb. 4 may have come and gone, but the spread of cancer in Africa has been worrying global health organisations and experts year round. The continent, they fear, is ill-prepared for another health crisis of enormous proportions.
By 2020, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), approximately 16 million new cases of cancer are anticipated worldwide, with 70 percent of them in developing countries. Africa and Asia are not spared.
Medical Daily covers another health threat:
Unemployed People Undergo Changes In Personality, Making Them Less Agreeable, Conscientious
It’s well known that being unemployed for a significant amount of time can have a negative effect on your physical and emotional wellbeing. It’s likely to raise your risk of depression and suicide. But according to a new study, being unemployed can actually alter your personality too, making you less agreeable and influencing your levels of conscientiousness, extraversion, neuroticism, and openness.
The study, published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, examined 6,769 Germans and asked them to self-evaluate the few core personality traits stated above over the course of a couple years. When the participants first began the survey they all had jobs, but a chunk of them slowly lost jobs over the course of a few years. Some remained unemployed, while others found new jobs.
“Unemployment has a strongly negative influence on wellbeing,” the authors wrote, but they wanted to find out if it could also change a person’s basic personality traits. “Whether personality changes arise through natural maturation processes or contextual/environment factors is still a matter of debate. Unemployment, a relatively unexpected and commonly occurring life event, may shed light on the relevance of context for personality change.”
From Reuters, a small but notable comeback accelerates:
U.S. wildlife managers mark population rise for rare wolf
The number of imperiled wolves found only in the American Southwest climbed to 109 in 2014, marking the fourth consecutive year that the population of Mexican gray wolves has risen by at least 10 percent, federal wildlife managers said Friday.
Wild Mexican wolves were believed to be all but extinct in the United States in 1998 when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service began reintroducing the animal to its native range.
At that point there had been no sightings of the wolves, which are native to western Mexico’s Sierra Madre mountains, in the wild in the United States since the 1970s, said Benjamin Tuggle, the Service’s southwest regional director.
Fox News Latino covers significant environmental preservation proposed:
Colombia proposes world’s largest eco-corridor with Brazil, Venezuela
Colombia’s government will draw up plans to join with Brazil and Venezuela in creating the world’s largest ecological corridor, a project aimed at mitigating the effects of climate change and preserving biodiversity, President Juan Manuel Santos announced.
The corridor will span 135 million hectares (521,240 sq. miles) of rainforest, Santos said Friday after a Cabinet meeting in Leticia, capital of Colombia’s southeastern jungle province of Amazonas.
The Colombian head of state said he expects the three countries will present the so-called Triple A initiative at the United Nations Climate Change Conference, or COP21, late this year in Paris.
“This would become the world’s largest ecological (corridor) and would be a great contribution to that fight of all humanity to preserve our environment, and in Colombia’s case to preserve our biodiversity,” Santos added.
Corporateers and banksters aim to recolonize Africa, via the Ecologist:
Land and seed laws under attack as Africa is groomed for corporate recolonization
- Across Africa, laws are being rewritten to open farming up to an agribusiness invasion – displacing the millions of small cultivators that now feed the continent, and replacing them with a new model of profit-oriented agriculture using patented seeds and varieties. The agencies effecting the transformation are legion – but they are all marching to a single drum.
A battle is raging for control of resources in Africa – land, water, seeds, minerals, ores, forests, oil, renewable energy sources.
Agriculture is one of the most important theatres of this battle. Governments, corporations, foundations and development agencies are pushing hard to commercialise and industrialise African farming.
Many of the key players are well known. They include the World Bank, the African Development Bank, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the G8, the African Union, the Bill Gates-funded ‘Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa’ (AGRA), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), and the International Fertiliser Development Centre (IFDC).
Together they are committed to helping agribusiness become the continent’s primary food commodity producer. To do this, they are not only pouring money into projects to transform farming operations on the ground – they are also changing African laws to accommodate the agribusiness agenda.
From the McClatchy Foreign Staff, water wonder or water woe?:
Beijing now drinking from vast water project environmentalists decry
Drinking water is flowing to Beijing from China’s controversial south-north water project – enough to fill 20,000 Olympic-size swimming pools in the first six weeks, the city reported Friday.
But concerns continue to swirl about the project’s environmental and human costs even as Beijing taps into a new water source nearly 800 miles away.
The central route of the south-north water project is China’s largest public works undertaking since the Three Gorges Dam, and it’s similarly contentious. It consists of a 400-foot-wide canal, aqueducts and other water works that stretch 798 miles to Beijing, starting at the Danjiangkou Reservoir in Henan province.
Environmentalists say the water diversions are sure to damage the ecology of the Han and lower Yangtze rivers. Construction of the canal also prompted the forced relocation of 100,000 people.
From the Guardian, can you say Frackenstein?:
Germany moves to legalise fracking
- Four-year moratorium on shale drills set to be overturned as country initiates process to allow regulated hydraulic fracturing for shale gas
Germany has proposed a draft law that would allow commercial shale gas fracking at depths of over 3,000 metres, overturning a de facto moratorium that has been in place since the start of the decade.
A new six-person expert panel would also be empowered to allow fracks at shallower levels
Shale gas industry groups welcomed the proposal for its potential to crack open the German shale gas market, but it has sparked outrage among environmentalists who view it as the thin edge of a fossil fuel wedge.
Senior German officials say that the proposal, first mooted in July, is an environmental protection measure, wholly unrelated to energy security concerns which have been intensified by the conflict in Ukraine.
And our lone entry in the Fukushimapocalypse Now ! category, via EcoWatch:
Will Ohioans Be Forced to Pay the Bill to Keep the Crumbling Davis-Besse Nuke Plant Alive?
As the world’s nuke reactors begin to crumble and fall, the danger of a major disaster is escalating at the decrepit Davis-Besse plant near Toledo, Ohio.
Now the plant’s owners are asking the Ohio Public Utilities Commission to force the public to pay billions of dollars over the next 15 years to subsidize reactor operations.
But Davis-Besse’s astonishing history of near-miss disasters defies belief. Its shoddy construction, continual operator error and relentless owner incompetence would not be believed as fiction, let alone as the stark realities of a large commercial reactor operating in a heavily populated area.
Time and again Davis-Besse has come within a fraction of an inch and an hour of crisis management time. Today its critical shield wall is literally crumbing, with new cracks opening up every time the northern Ohio weather freezes (like this week).