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Sandstorm hits north China


Sandstorm expected to hit Taiwan today

The Environmental Protection Administration announced yesterday that another sand storm will envelope the island for the next two days. The administration urged the public, especially those with respiratory problems, to stay indoors.
According to EPA, due to the slow speed of the wind in the area, central and southern Taiwan would be hit the hardest.
The EPA said the sandstorm formed three days ago in Mongolia. Before hitting Taiwan today, the storm swept eastward where it affected Korea and Japan.
The EPA warned that persons with respiratory problems, the elderly and children with weak constitutions should avoid going outside and also advised against outdoor exercise during the storm.

The day the cyclone's bow wave hit Sydney

March 29, 2006
ONLY the most intrepid surfers were in the water yesterday as huge waves pounded beaches around Sydney.
Waves reached heights of up to eight metres, according to weather experts - or a mere four metres, according to the less-macho reckoning of surfers.
Several beaches were closed, including Bronte, Maroubra, Newport and Palm Beach, while Bondi lifeguards stopped swimmers from going beyond shallow water. Water police and rescue helicopters were called to Manly about 6.30pm after two men on surf skis were hit by a giant wave.
One of the men washed onto Shelly Beach, south of Manly.
Water police found the other surfer about an hour later a kilometre off Queenscliff to the north.
Former pro-surfer Matt Grainger, who owns Manly Surf School, spent the day surfing off Long Reef and Queenscliff, but warned that only advanced surfers should brave the treacherous conditions. At Bronte, even the baths were closed as huge waves lashed the southern end of the beach.
High winds from the weather system formerly known as Tropical Cyclone Wati started the huge swell 1000 kilometres offshore in the Tasman Sea.


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Breaking Earth News: Avian(Bird) Flu Virus

Scientists study revived 1918 flu virus
March 26, 2006
Terrence Tumpey stepped into the laboratory and glanced at the dead mice. Suddenly it hit him -- the significance of what scientists were attempting.
A few days earlier, Tumpey had infected the mice with genes from the 1918 influenza virus. The virus killed 40 million to 50 million people in the worst infectious disease outbreak in recorded history, then vanished.
For years, scientists had attempted to decipher the virus' genetic code from snippets of lung tissue preserved from flu victims.
At this point in 2001, they had identified two of the virus' eight gene segments and wanted to test the effect on mice. There was no mistaking the result.
"It brought a chill down my spine because I knew that I had this deadly virus," said

How Serious Is the Risk?
March 27, 2006
Over the last year, it has been impossible to watch TV or read a newspaper without encountering dire reports about bird flu and the possibility of a pandemic, a worldwide epidemic. First Asia, then Europe, now Africa: like enemy troops moving into place for an attack, the bird flu virus known as A(H5N1) has been steadily advancing. The latest country to report human cases is Azerbaijan, where five of seven people have died. The virus has not reached the Americas, but it seems only a matter of time before it turns up in birds here

At the U.N.: This Virus Has an Expert 'Quite Scared'
Photo: Dr. David Nabarro. The chief avian flu coordinator for the United Nations, Dr. Nabarro admits that he has been accused in the past of being an alarmist

But Dr. Nabarro describes himself as "quite scared," especially since the disease has broken out of Asia and reached birds in Africa, Europe and India much faster than he expected it to.
"That rampant, explosive spread," he said, "and the dramatic way it's killing poultry so rapidly suggests that we've got a very beastly virus in our midst."

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Tropical Cyclones
The most powerful
cyclone to strike Australia
in 30 years unleashed
widespread damage to
structures and crops across the northeastern
state of Queensland. Cyclone
Larry roared into the community of
Innisfail, a popular jumping-off point
for the Great Barrier Reef. Marine
biologists said the Category 5
cyclone’s powerful waves inflicted
severe damage to the reef, which
could take decades to heal.
• Cyclone Wati formed quickly
off the coast of Queensland as Larry
lost force inland. But the storm
gained only Category 1 strength and
passed well offshore.
• Cyclone Floyd churned the
Indian Ocean off Australia’s northwestern

Prairie Drought
Parts of the Canadian
Prairie grain belt have
been left so parched by a
dry winter they will need
regular rains during the next month
to allow for spring planting. Surveys
show soil moisture is below average
across much of Alberta and parts of
Saskatchewan, where winter precipitation
was spotty. Aston Chipanshi,
climate specialist for the federal
Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration,
cautioned that farm water
supplies for livestock could also be
threatened in the western Prairies.

Dust Storm
Fierce winds across
Mongolia and interior
parts of China created a
huge cloud of dust that
blew as far away as the island of Taiwan.
Health officials on the island
warned the elderly, children and
those with respiratory problems to
stay indoors to avoid inhaling fine
dust particles in the air.

Serbian Slide Disaster
More than a thousand
people in central and
western Serbia were
evacuated from their
homes after heavy rain and melting
snow caused over a hundred landslides.
The country’s RTS television
network reported that dozens of
houses were destroyed or damaged
by the slides. The disaster has left
many villages without water or electricity,
and destroyed or damaged
houses and roads.

Mount Bulusan, the
Philippines’ most active
volcano produced an
explosion that sent a cloud
of ash soaring almost a mile into the
sky above Sorsogon province, 280
miles southeast of Manila. Officials
ordered all people living at the foot
of the volcano to stay out of a 2.5-
mile danger zone due to the threat of
additional explosions. Bulusan’s last
explosion was recorded in early 1995.
• A violent eruption of a volcano
in New Zealand’s remote Kermadec
island group left one researcher
feared dead and sent the remaining
five members of the team fleeing the
island. It was the first time the volcano
on Raoul Island had erupted
since 1964.

A sharp tremor near
Algeria’s northeastern
coast killed four people
and injured 68 others
near the town of Laalam. Officials
said 38 homes collapsed during the
• A moderate aftershock of last
October’s South Asia temblor spread
panic among residents in Indian-controlled
Kashmir. The latest shaking
jolted people out of their beds just
before midnight.
• Earth movements were also felt
in southwest Pakistan, eastern
Turkey, Serbia, northwest Sumatra,
northeast Japan, northwest Montana,
far northern Quebec and interior parts
of the San Francisco Bay Area.

Drought-Breaking Rains
A winter of regular rainfall
in Spain has
prompted the country’s
meteorological office to
say a second year of severe drought
is becoming less likely. “Broadly
speaking, it’s rained about twice as
much as last year,” said meteorologist
Antonio Mestre. The amount of
water held in the country’s lakes and
rivers is now only about 19 percent
below the average for the same time
during the last 10 years. Severe
drought and heat waves last summer
sparked a record number of wildfires
across the Iberian Peninsula and
caused widespread water shortages.

Deadly Feast
Brief periods of heavy
rain broke the scorching
drought in parts of Kenya,
but scores of starving wild
animals died after gorging on too
much vegetation, which had sprung
up due to the rain. Wildlife officials
in Hell’s Gate National Park in the
Rift Valley province said at least 100
animals — mostly gazelles, zebra and
buffaloes — had died due to overgrazing.
At least 40 people have perished
in northern Kenya during the
recent drought, and livestock are also
dying at an alarming rate. The U.N.
warns that at least 11 million people
across East Africa are in danger of
starvation due to the failure of seasonal

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Distributed by: Universal Press Syndicate
Earth News: A Journal of the Planet
©2006 Earth Frenzy Radio.Com-All Rights Reserved

Will We Be Warned When Next Tsunami Comes


Berlin (AFP) Mar 27, 2006
Experts from 140 nations meet in Germany from Monday to see how far the world has come with early warning systems in the 15 months since the devastating Asian tsunami.
The UN's Third International Conference on Early Warning will look at how countries in the Indian Ocean rim have prepared to raise the alarm to warn residents and tourists if killer waves again approach their coastlines.
Former US president Bill Clinton, the UN's special envoy for tsunami recovery, will address delegates and also meet with donors from some 50 states in a bid to shore up reconstruction and prevention efforts.
Some 217,000 people died, more than half of them in Indonesia which had no alert system at all, when a massive earthquake set in motion the tsunami in December 2004.
"Tens of thousands of people need not have died if the Indian Ocean had had an early warning system," German foreign ministry official Hans-Joachim Daerr told a press briefing ahead of the three-day meeting in Bonn, in western Germany.
Some 1,300 delegates attending the conference are also due to discuss 100 project proposals for alert systems on anything from floods in Romania, sand and dust storms in Asia and droughts and locust plagues in Africa.
The aim is to cover areas that are not yet on the warning map and to improve existing systems to help people reach safe ground when natural disasters strike, said Brigitte Leoni, a spokeswoman for the UN's International Strategy for Disaster Reduction.
The projects will serve to illustrate gaps in the International Early Warning Programme (IEWP) that was adopted in Japan in January 2005 against the backdrop of the Asian tsunami.
The meeting will also focus on the particular problems in trying to create warning systems to limit loss of lives and destruction from earthquakes like the one that devastated Pakistan last October, killing 73,000 people.
A German geographic researcher who will attend the conference, Jochen Zschau, said a warning system can give people only a few seconds or at most a minute to react before the first weak tremors are followed by the full shock of an earthquake.
But in this time authorities could bring public transport systems to a halt and lower the pressure in gas pipes to prevent the explosions and fires that often follow earthquakes.
"These few seconds of warning can save lives and serve to implement emergency safety measures. One cannot prevent the disaster but one can mitigate the fallout," he said, adding that earthquake alert systems remain very rare despite the relief they can bring.
"We have knowledge that we need to put into practice."
The chairwoman of the German Committee for Disaster Reduction, Irmgrand Schwaetzer, said the number of natural disasters was increasing along with the number of people at risk as cities become ever more populous.
"We have to develop warning systems and preventative measures to deal with events which we have not contemplated before," she said, adding that in the end it all came down to communication and cooperation.
"Early warning can only work when the warnings reach the affected people, when they are well informed and react in the correct manner."
The first two international conferences on early warning were held in Germany in 1998 and 2003.

Source: Agence France-Presse
Related LinksUN Third International Conference on Early Warning

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Pandemic-part 3, final segment

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Earth Frenzy Radio.Com
Your Portal For Disaster News

March 25, 2006

The Classic OOPS

In January 1976, 18-year-old Private David Lewis staggered his way through a forced march during basic training in a brutal New Jersey winter. By the time his unit returned to base at Fort Dix, Lewis was dying. He collapsed and did not respond to his sergeant's attempts at mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

In subsequent weeks, U.S. Army and CDC scientists discovered that the virus that had killed Lewis was swine flu. Although no other soldiers at Fort Dix died, health officials panicked. F. David Matthews, then secretary of health, education, and welfare, promptly declared, "There is evidence there will be a major flu epidemic this coming fall. The indication is that we will see a return of the 1918 flu virus that is the most virulent form of flu. In 1918, a half million people died [in the United States]. The projections are that this virus will kill one million Americans in 1976."

At the time, it was widely believed that influenza appeared in cycles, with especially lethal forms surfacing at relatively predictable intervals and in 1976, scientists believed the world was overdue for a more lethal cycle, and the apparent emergence of swine flu at Fort Dix seemed to signal that another wave had come. The leaders of the CDC and the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW) warned the White House that there was a reasonably high probability that a catastrophic flu pandemic was about to hit. But opinion was hardly unanimous, and many European and Australian health authorities scoffed at the Americans' concern. Unsure of how to gauge the threat, President Gerald Ford summoned the polio-fighting heroes Jonas Salk and Albert Sabin to Washington and found the long-time adversaries in remarkable accord: a flu pandemic might truly be on the way.

On March 24, 1976, Ford went on national television. "I have just concluded a meeting on a subject of vast importance to all Americans," he announced. "I have been advised that there is a very real possibility that unless we take effective counteractions, there could be an epidemic of this dangerous disease next fall and winter here in the United States. ... I am asking Congress to appropriate $135 million, prior to the April recess, for the production of sufficient vaccine to inoculate every man, woman, and child in the United States."

Vaccine producers immediately complained that they could not manufacture sufficient doses of vaccine in such haste without special liability protection. Congress responded, passing a law in April that made the government responsible for the companies' liability. When the campaign to vaccinate the U.S. population started four months later, there were almost immediate claims of side effects, including the neurologically debilitating Guillain Barré Syndrome. Most of the lawsuits -- with claims totaling $3.2 billion -- were settled or dismissed, but the U.S. government still ended up paying claimants around $90 million.

Swine flu, however, never appeared. The head of the CDC was asked to resign, and Congress never again considered assuming the liability of pharmaceutical companies during a potential epidemic. The experience weakened U.S. credibility in public health and helped undermine the stature of President Ford. Subsequently, an official assessment of what went wrong was performed for HEW by Dr. Harvey Fineberg, a Harvard professor who is currently president of the Institute of Medicine.

Fineberg concluded:"In this case the consequences of being wrong about an epidemic were so devastating in people's minds that it wasn't possible to focus properly on the issue of likelihood. Nobody could really estimate likelihood then, or now." In 1976, some policymakers were simply overwhelmed by the consequences of being wrong. And at a higher level [in the White House] the two -- likelihood and consequence -- got meshed."

Fineberg's warnings are well worth remembering today, as scientists nervously consider H5N1 avian influenza in Asia. The consequences of a form of this virus that is transmittable from human to human, particularly if it retains its unprecedented virulence, would be disastrous. But what is the likelihood that such a virus will appear?

Hard to Kill

Over the course of this brief but rapid evolution, the H5N1 virus developed in ways unprecedented in influenza research. It is not only incredibly deadly but also incredibly difficult to contain. Garrett says that "The virus apparently now has the ability to survive in chicken feces and the meat of dead animals, despite the lack of blood flow and living cells; raw chicken meat fed to tigers in Thailand zoos resulted in the deaths of 147 out of a total of 418. The virus has also found ways to vastly increase the range of species it can infect and kill.

If proximity to infected animals is the key, why have there been no deaths among chicken handlers, poultry workers, or live-chicken dealers? The majority of the infected have been young adults and children. And there has been one documented case of human-to-human transmission of the Z+ strain of the H5N1 virus -- in late 2004, in Thailand. Several more such cases are suspected but cannot be confirmed. According to the WHO, there is "no scientific explanation for the unusual disease pattern."

Assessing and understanding H5N1's virulence in humans has also proved elusive. "The Z strain of the disease, which emerged in early 2003, killed 68 percent of those known to have been infected. In H5N1 cases since December 2004, however, the mortality has been 36 percent. How can the fluctuation over time be explained? One disturbing possibility is that H5N1 has begun adapting to its human hosts, becoming less deadly but easier to spread. In the spring of 2005, in fact, H5N1 infected 17 people throughout Vietnam, resulting in only three deaths. Leading flu experts argue that this sort of phenomenon has in the past been a prelude to human influenza epidemics."

Garrett also says that "the medical histories of those who have died from H5N1 influenza are disturbingly similar to accounts of sufferers of the Spanish flu in 1918-19. Otherwise healthy people are completely overcome by the virus, developing all of the classic flu symptoms: coughing, headache, muscle pain, nausea, dizziness, diarrhea, high fever, depression, and loss of appetite. But these are just some of the effects. Victims also suffer from pneumonia, encephalitis, meningitis, acute respiratory distress, and internal bleeding and hemorrhaging." An autopsy of a child who died of the disease in Thailand last year revealed that the youth's lungs had been torn apart in the all-out war between disease-fighting cells and the virus.

Bad Medicine
According to test-tube studies, Z+ ought to be vulnerable to the antiflu drug oseltamivir, which the Roche pharmaceuticals company markets in the United States under the brand name Tamiflu. Yet Tamiflu was given to many of those who ultimately succumbed to the virus; it is believed that medical complications induced by the virus, including acute respiratory distress syndrome, may have prevented the drug from helping. Garrett adds, "It is also difficult to tell whether the drug contributed to the survival of those who took it and lived, although higher doses and more prolonged treatment may have a greater impact in fighting the disease.

A team of Thai clinicians recently concluded that "the optimal treatment for case-patients with suspected H5 infection is not known." Lacking any better options, the WHO has recommended that countries stockpile Tamiflu to the best of their ability. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is doing so, but supplies of the drug are limited and it is hard to manufacture."

What about developing a Z+ vaccine? Garrett says, "Unfortunately, there is only more gloom in the forecast. The total number of companies willing to produce influenza vaccines has plummeted in recent years, from more than two dozen in 1980 to just a handful in 2004.

Global Reach Can Push Healthcare to the Edge

The potential for a pandemic comes at a time when the world's public health systems are severely taxed and have long been in decline. This is true in both rich and poor countries. The Bush administration recognized this weakness following the anthrax scare of 2001, which underscored the poor ability of federal and local health agencies to respond to bio-terrorism or epidemic threats. Since that year, Congress has approved $3.7 billion to strengthen the nation's public health infrastructure.

But despite all this, a recent event underscored the United States' tremendous vulnerability. Garrett explains, "In October 2004, the American College of Pathologists mailed a collection of mystery microbes prepared by a private lab to almost 5,000 labs in 18 countries for them to test as part their re-certification. The mailing should have been routine procedure; instead, in March 2005 a Canadian lab discovered that the test kits included a sample of H2N2 flu -- a strain that had killed four million people worldwide in 1957. H2N2 has not been in circulation since 1968, meaning that hundreds of millions of people lack immunity to it. Had any of the samples leaked or been exposed to the environment, the results could have been devastating. On learning of the error, the WHO called for the immediate destruction of all the test kits. Miraculously, none of the virus managed to escape any of the labs."

But the snafu raises serious questions: If billions have been spent to improve laboratory capabilities since 2001, why did nobody notice the H2N2 flu until about six months after the kits had been shipped?

Adds Garrett, "Even with all of these gaps, probably the greatest weakness that each nation must individually address is the inability of their hospitals to cope with a sudden surge of new patients. Medical cost cutting has resulted in a tremendous reduction in the numbers of staffed hospital beds in the wealthy world, especially in the United States. Even during a normal flu season, hospitals located in popular retirement areas have great difficulty meeting the demand. In a pandemic, it is doubtful that any nation would have adequate medical facilities and personnel to meet the extra need."

"National policymakers would be wise," she says, "to plan now for worst-case scenarios involving quarantines, weakened armed services, and dwindling hospital space and vaccine supplies."

In 1971, the great American public health leader Alexander Langmuir likened flu forecasting to trying to predict the weather, arguing that "as with hurricanes, pandemics can be identified and their probable course projected so that warnings can be issued. Epidemics, however, are more variable [than hurricanes], and the best that can be done is to estimate probabilities."

Since Langmuir's time a quarter of a century ago, weather forecasting has gained a stunning level of precision. Garrett puts it this way, "...although scientists cannot tell political leaders when an influenza pandemic will occur, researchers today are able to guide policymakers with information and analysis exponentially richer than that which informed the decisions of President Ford and the 1976 Congress. Whether or not this particular H5N1 influenza mutates into a human-to-human pandemic form, the scientific evidence points to the potential that such an event will take place, perhaps soon.

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Apocalyptic Times

March 23, 2006
by Maureen Farrell
"We are living in dangerously weird times now. Smart people just shrug and admit they're dazed and confused. The only ones left with any confidence at all are the New Dumb. It is the beginning of the end of our world as we knew it. Doom is the operative ethic." -- Hunter S. Thompson, Nov. 20, 2000
A few years ago, a Time/CNN poll found that that more than a third of Americans search the news for signs of the Apocalypse. Since Sept. 11, they've not had to look very hard. In the immediate aftermath of World Trade Center attacks, for example, the Associated Press reported on Satan's visage in the smoke clouds, an incident Peggy Noonan wrote about in the Wall Street Journal. "If you are of a certain cast of mind, it is of course meaningful that the face of the Evil One seemed to emerge with a roar from the furnace that was Tower One," she wrote, before reminding readers that a cross emerged unharmed amid the falling concrete and wreckage.
Of course Jesus made his fair share of appearances, too. A "winking Jesus" from Hoboken, N.J. was featured in the New York Daily News while a Jesus-in-a-window got considerable airtime on a Texas NBC affiliate. One North Carolina TV station was prophetically prolific, reporting on the Messiah's apparitions on everything from tail pipes to dental x-rays to fish bones.
Yes, since Sept. 11, the news has gotten more surreal, with divine sightings and apocalyptic musings becoming more commonplace. Such talk has always been with us, of course, but it's no longer tied to David Koresh or Marshall Applewhite or Jim Jones-type cultists. "One of the biggest changes in politics in my lifetime is that the delusional is no longer marginal. It has come in from the fringe, to sit in the seat of power in the Oval Office and in Congress," Bill Moyers wrote, regarding the shifting political realities fueling this mindset.
From the political to the personal, people are reporting on, and preparing for, the end of the world. And though apocalyptic reports have ranged from the superstitious and silly to the sensational and scary, few can argue that they're not on the rise. How weird have things become? Consider the following:

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Pandemic (part2)

The Economic Impact

Ian Welsh is a Lecturer in the School of Social Sciences at Cardiff University. He has a BA Hons. in Social Science at Middlesex Polytechnic and completed his PhD at Lancaster University. He comments on the World-wide impact of a Flu Pandemic.

"First let’s lay out the basic scenario. I am assuming a serious pandemic, with all non essential travel shut down for the duration (kiss your vacation goodbye), with both infected individuals and any individuals who have come into contact with them instructed to quarantine themselves, or being forcibly quarantined themselves.

Welch likened the situation to that in wartime. "Government will concentrate on keeping key infrastructure operating. Power, sewage, water, emergency services and food distribution. Distribution of most goods through the system will be discontinued, since people can be asymptomatic and still carriers, it will be decided to keep any cross-country travel to a minimum. Most retail outlets will close, either voluntarily or by government fiat. Food will be trucked either into distribution centers or into supermarkets which agree to stay open and will be rationed out exactly as in wartime. As such a black market will certainly appear."

Osterholm, adds; "If an influenza pandemic struck today, borders would close, the global economy would shut down, international vaccine supplies and health-care systems would be overwhelmed, and panic would reign."

Preparing for the Unthinkable

So how can we prepare? Osterholm says "One key step is to rapidly ramp up research related to the production of an effective vaccine, as the Department of Health and Human Services is doing. In addition to clinical research on the immunogenicity of influenza vaccines, urgent needs include basic research on the ecology and biology of influenza viruses, studies of the epidemiologic role of various animal and bird species, and work on early interventions and risk assessment."

In November of 2005, Ambassador Sichan Siv appeared before the United Nation’s Economic and Social Council, on Avian Influenza. At that meeting, Siv said that "The United States is determined to deal with public health threats such as this one, in close collaboration with other countries and relevant international organizations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and private sector partners.

If unchallenged, a human influenza pandemic arising from H5N1 avian flu would become a clear and present danger across health, economic, social, and political sectors. On November 1, President Bush released the United States National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza. (Ed note: It can be found at This strategy will guide my government in finalizing its pandemic preparedness. We urge all countries to put national plans in place immediately and to coordinate closely with their neighbors." In short the "National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza" outlines a three-pillar approach to preventing a major disaster.

Pillar One – Preparedness and Communication: In this stage the focus is on educating the public about the risk of a pandemic flu and producing and stockpiling vaccines and antiviral medications so that people will be prepared if a pandemic breaks out.
Pillar Two – Surveillance and Detection: The best offense is a good defense. This pillar focuses on monitoring the incidence of the virus overseas, an early warning system to prevent the virus from entering the country, and initiating vaccinations.
Pillar Three – Response and Containment: In the event that a pandemic flu enters the U.S. and outbreaks begin, the focus will shift to slowing and preventing the spread of the flu to lessen health, social, and economic impacts. Authorities will have the power to limit nonessential movement of people, goods, and services to and from outbreak areas, limit social gatherings, and even call for quarantines.

But Osterholm says while this "Strategy" is a start and he emphasizes only a start, "Equally urgent is the development of cell-culture technology for production of vaccine that can replace our egg-based manufacturing process. Today, making the 300 million doses of influenza vaccine needed annually worldwide requires more than 350 million chicken eggs and six or more months; a cell-culture approach may produce much higher antigen yields and be faster.

After such a process was developed, we would also need assured industrial capacity to produce sufficient vaccine for the world's population during the earliest days of an emerging pandemic.

Beyond research and development, we need a public health approach that includes far more than drafting of general plans, as several countries and states have done. We need a detailed operational blueprint of the best way to get through 12 to 24 months of a pandemic."

But what if the next pandemic were to start tonight? "If it were determined that several cities in Vietnam had major outbreaks of H5N1 infection associated with high mortality, there would be a scramble to stop the virus from entering other countries by greatly reducing or even prohibiting foreign travel and trade. The global economy would come to a halt, and since we could not expect appropriate vaccines to be available for many months and we have very limited stockpiles of antiviral drugs, we would be facing a 1918-like scenario."

Welsh adds, "If you think that such a pandemic is likely to occur then the steps you should take are much the same you would take for any natural disaster. Because the banking system will likely be shut down during the crisis (and bank machines will likely not be restocked even if they do not go down due to loss of system personnel) you should have a stock of money at home to allow you to buy whatever you need which is available. If you can arrange to have independent power generation, you should do so. You should have a good supply of canned food and water.
Make your estimate of how much you need and double or triple it. Others will not have planned and you do not want to find yourself not being able to help friends, family and neighbors. In addition you will want to have tradeables available for the black market. Money will be a poor second to having goods people want. In this regard stocking up on some medical items such as surgical masks and OTC medicines will be especially wise. I’m not encouraging profiteering, but you will need something you can trade which people want. Badly."

Too Little Too Late?

Michael Osterholm paints a very grim picture if we experience another pandemic, "... owing to our global "just-in-time delivery" economy, we would have no surge capacity for health care, food supplies, and many other products and services. For example, in the United States today, we have only 105,000 mechanical ventilators, 75,000 to 80,000 of which are in use at any given time for everyday medical care; during a garden-variety influenza season, more than 100,000 are required. In a pandemic, most patients with influenza who needed ventilation would not have access to it.

We have no detailed plans for staffing the temporary hospitals that would have to be set up in high-school gymnasiums and community centers — and that might need to remain in operation for one or two years. Health care workers would become ill and die at rates similar to, or even higher than, those in the general public. Judging by our experience with the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), some health care workers would not show up for duty. How would communities train and use volunteers?"

If the pandemic wave were spreading slowly enough, could immune survivors of an early wave, particularly health care workers, become the primary response corps? Osterholm has is doubts,

"Health care delivery systems and managed-care organizations have done little planning for such a scenario.

Who, for instance, would receive the extremely limited antiviral agents that will be available? We need to develop a national, and even an international, consensus on the priorities for the use of antiviral drugs well before the pandemic begins. In addition, we have no way of urgently increasing production of critical items such as antiviral drugs, masks for respiratory protection, or antibiotics for the treatment of secondary bacterial infections. Even under today's relatively stable operating conditions, eight different anti-infective agents are in short supply because of manufacturing problems. Nor do we have detailed plans for handling the massive number of dead bodies that would soon exceed our ability to cope with them."

"The real economic fallout" says Ian Walsh, " will be determined by politics, not economics per se. The political decisions made will determine the fate of entire industries, of trade and travel for some time to come."

The Sky is Falling, The Sky is Falling

Since it first emerged in 1997, avian influenza has become deadlier and more resilient. It has infected 109 people and killed 59 of them. If the virus becomes capable of human-to-human transmission and retains its extraordinary potency, humanity could face a pandemic unlike any ever witnessed.

Scientists have long forecast the appearance of an influenza virus capable of infecting 40 percent of the world's human population and killing unimaginable numbers. Recently, a new strain, H5N1 avian influenza, has shown all the earmarks of becoming that disease. Until now, it has largely been confined to certain bird species, but as we can see, that may be changing.

Laurie Garrett, Senior Fellow for Global Health at the Council on Foreign Relations and author of The Coming Plague and Betrayal of Trust, says that, "The havoc such a disease could wreak is commonly compared to the devastation of the 1918-19 Spanish flu, which killed at least 50 million people in 18 months. But avian flu is far more dangerous. It kills 100 percent of the domesticated chickens it infects, and among humans the disease is every bit as lethal.

Since it first appeared in southern China in 1997, the virus has mutated, becoming heartier and deadlier and killing a wider range of species. According to the March 2005 National Academy of Science's Institute of Medicine flu report, the "current ongoing epidemic of H5N1 avian influenza in Asia is unprecedented in its scale, in its spread, and in the economic losses it has caused."

In short, doom may loom. But note the "may." If the relentlessly evolving virus becomes capable of human-to-human transmission, develops a power of contagion typical of human influenzas, and maintains its extraordinary virulence, humanity could well face a pandemic unlike any ever witnessed. Or nothing at all could happen."

She says that scientists cannot predict with certainty what this H5N1 influenza will do. "Evolution does not function on a knowable timetable, and influenza is one of the sloppiest, most mutation-prone pathogens in nature's storehouse."

Such absolute uncertainty, coupled with the profound potential danger, is disturbing for those whose job it is to ensure the health of their community, their nation, and broader humanity. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in a normal flu season about 200,000 Americans are hospitalized, 38,000 of whom die from the disease, with an overall mortality rate of .008 percent for those infected. Most of those deaths occur among people older than 65; on average, 98 of every 100,000 seniors with the flu die. Influenza costs the U.S. economy about $12 billion annually in direct medical costs and loss of productivity.

Yet this level of damage hardly approaches the catastrophe that the United States would face in a severe flu pandemic. The CDC predicts that a "medium-level epidemic" could kill up to 207,000 Americans, hospitalize 734,000, and sicken about a third of the U.S. population. Direct medical costs would top $166 billion, not including the costs of vaccination. An H5N1 avian influenza that is transmittable from human to human could be even more devastating: assuming a mortality rate of 20 percent and 80 million illnesses, the United States could be looking at 16 million deaths and unimaginable economic costs. This extreme outcome is a worst-case scenario; it assumes failure to produce an effective vaccine rapidly enough to make a difference and a virus that remains impervious to some antiflu drugs. But the 207,000 reckoning is clearly a conservative guess.

Garrett says that, "The entire world would experience similar levels of viral carnage, and those areas ravaged by HIV and home to millions of immuno-compromised individuals might witness even greater death tolls. In response, some countries might impose useless but highly disruptive quarantines or close borders and airports, perhaps for months. Such closures would disrupt trade, travel, and productivity. No doubt the world's stock markets would teeter and perhaps fall precipitously. Aside from economics, the disease would likely directly affect global security, reducing troop strength and capacity for all armed forces, UN peacekeeping operations, and police worldwide."

The majority of the world's governments not only lack sufficient funds to respond to a superflu; they also have no health infrastructure to handle the burdens of disease, social disruption, and panic. The international community would look to the United States, Canada, Japan, and Europe for answers, vaccines, cures, cash, and hope. How these wealthy governments responded, and how radically the death rates differed along worldwide fault lines of poverty, would resonate for years thereafter.


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Are We Ready for an Avian Flu Pandemic In America?

PANDEMIC (part 1 of 3 part series)

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March 22, 2006
Different influenza strains spread around the world annually. Every so often a strain tough enough to kill millions emerges, and experts believe the world is overdue for another pandemic and it could happen soon than later. Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute, the Centers for Disease Control, and the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology have now identified what many had feared. The researchers have found what they described as a possible pathway for a particularly virulent strain of the avian flu virus H5N1to gain a foothold in the human population.

According to the study, published on March 16, 2006 by ScienceXpress, the advance online version of the journal Science; Of the H5N1 strains isolated to date, the Viet04 virus was found to be closely related to the 1918 virus HA, which caused some 50 to 100 million deaths worldwide.

Michael T. Osterholm is Director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, Associate Director of the Department of Homeland Security's National Center for Food Protection and Defense, and Professor at the University of Minnesota's School of Public Health.

Annual influenza epidemics are like Minnesota winters — all are challenges, but some are worse than others. No matter how well we prepare, some blizzards take quite a toll.
If an influenza pandemic struck today, borders would close, the global economy would shut down, international vaccine supplies and health-care systems would be overwhelmed, and panic would reign.
— Michael Osterholm Ph.D., M.P.H.

Osterholm says that, "A number of recent events and factors have significantly heightened concern that a specific near-term pandemic may be imminent. It could be caused by H5N1, the avian influenza strain currently circulating in Asia.

The Sum of All Fears

At this juncture scientists cannot be certain. Nor can they know exactly when a pandemic will hit, or whether it will rival the experience of 1918-19 or be more muted like 1957-58 and 1968-69. The reality of a coming pandemic, however, cannot be avoided. Only its impact can be lessened. Some important preparatory efforts are under way, but much more needs to be done by institutions at many levels of society."

Dating back to antiquity, influenza pandemics have posed the greatest threat of a worldwide calamity caused by infectious disease. Over the past 300 years, ten influenza pandemics have occurred among humans. The most recent came in 1957-58 and 1968-69, and although several tens of thousands of Americans died in each one, these were considered mild compared to others. The 1918-19 pandemic was not. According to recent analysis, it killed 50 to 100 million people globally. Today, with a population of 6.5 billion, more than three times that of 1918, even a "mild" pandemic could kill many millions of people.

An influenza pandemic has always been a great global infectious-disease threat. There have been 10 pandemics of influenza A in the past 300 years. A recent analysis showed that the pandemic of 1918 and 1919 killed 50 million to 100 million people, and although its severity is often considered anomalous, the pandemic of 1830 through 1832 was similarly severe — it simply occurred when the world's population was smaller. Today, with a world population of 6.5 billion — more than three times that in 1918 — even a relatively "mild" pandemic could kill many millions of people.

The Killer Within

Professor Robert G. Webster, is a virologist and is Chair of the Rose Marie Thomas Center, St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, Memphis, Tenn., he is also one of the few bird flu experts confident enough to answer the key question: Will the avian flu switch from posing a terrible hazard to birds to becoming a real threat to humans? Webster says, "This humble flu virus is the threatening one. If I wake up any morning worrying about any virus it is that one. We don’t know when it is coming, we know it will come, we don’t know how severe it will be, We know it could be very severe, in fact it could be catastrophic."

"Pandemic Influenza hits mankind, perhaps three times a century," says Webster, "certainly that was our experience in the 20th century. We had those three times, in 1968 it was moderate, in 1957 it was somewhat more severe, and in 1918 it was extremely severe killing more people worldwide than were killed in the World War I."

In the 1918 pandemic, it is now believed that somewhere between 50 and 100 million people were killed worldwide. Given the size of the world population at that time, that is between 2 ½% and 5% of the world’s population was killed within that period. Webster says that if we had a pandemic of that scale today, "...given the world’s population, we would have somewhere 175 and 300 million people who would die in a period of one to two years. Now, that’s more people than were actually killed by all of the wars and all of the murderous governments in the world combined, throughout the entire 20th century, and those people would die, not in 100 years, but in one to two."

Neurological problems were seen then, and the workshop noted that there has been little change in preparedness today. The failure to test out conditions for avian influenza has been a concern.

H5N1 Is Stalking Humankind

According to Dr, Henry Niman, president of Recombinomics, one of the nation’s leading vaccine manufactures says, "Although modern lab techniques allow for very specific sub-type testing of clinical samples and isolation of the etiological agent, the lack of surveillance remains scandalous."

Dr. John Wood is director of England’s National Institute for Biological Standards and Control (NIBSC) puts it bluntly ".....We have to understand the H5N1 Virus, no doubt about it, we have no immunity. We know it has a very bad track record, it kills birds, it kills tigers, we’ve heard, it kills other animal species, it kills man."

The question is, what adaptation or mutation would the H5N1 virus need to make to enable it to jump from human to human? Virologist Dr David Fetson, U.S. Department of Public Health says that, "The influenza virus always has the capacity to change its spots. The eight genes that comprise the influenza virus particle are changing all the time. They are changing because this is the way the virus manages to escape immunity in a population that would otherwise suppress its existence. So, in order to continue to thrive, to continue to spread, to go from year to year, the virus has to change. It is always seeking ways to escape the defenses of whatever the host might be. Whether it’s a bird ... or a human. So, according to Fetson the real danger and potential nightmare for humans is that part of that mutation process includes a combing with another type virus, one that is already "human friendly".

Dr. Klaus Steuir - Director, World Health Organization’s Global Influenza Group-Global Surveillance Network, adds "A very peculiar feature of this virus, actually of every virus, is that the genetic material does not exist in one "bowl" ... one piece. It’s segmented in eight segments. These eight segments are important for the virus to create its progeny in the host. What is feared now is that these eight segments from this avian flu virus would merge with the eight segments of a human influenza virus. So the progeny virus would then have a few pieces from here and a few pieces from there and if it all fits very nicely together, the progeny virus would have the transmit ability of a normal influenza virus which is very high and the pathogenicity avian virus and that is the scenario that we are very concerned about." This may have or at very best is beginning to have happen already.


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La Nina weather phenomenon is coming
The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said it saw unprecedented signs pointing to a looming La Nina, a phenomenon that originates off the western coast of South America but can disrupt weather patterns in many parts of the globe.

A new computer model suggests that the next solar cycle will be more active than the previous one, potentially spawning magnetic storms that will be more severe and disruptive to communication systems.The next sunspot cycle will be between 30% to 50% more intense than the last one, scientists said on Monday.The cycle will also begin a year later than expected, in late 2007 or early 2008, and peak around 2012, said Mausumi Dikpati of the National Centre for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado.

KENAI, Alaska — Recent changes with the Augustine Volcano indicate that the activity the volcano is exhibiting now is less explosive than what occurred in January.
Scientists, however, are continuing to keep an eye on the Cook Inlet volcano. Activity at the volcano climbed to a new level last week.
Measurements and observations made on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday show the nature of the activity is less hazardous than the explosive activity the volcano exhibited in mid-January.
Increased levels of carbon dioxide measured in emissions and overflight observations indicate recent seismicity is tied to dome building rather than explosions.

Officials said on Monday that a limited-range tsunami could potentially have been caused by a magnitude-6,2 earthquake that the United States Geological Survey said struck near the Pacific island nation of Vanuatu.No casualties or damage were reported, and there was no immediate word of any tsunami in the sparsely populated area.The quake hit at 6.02am GMT about 70km north-west of the capital, Port Vila, near the island of Efate, 1 890km east of Australia.The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre in Hawaii's Ewa Beach said the quake could potentially have triggered a localised tsunami.

Tropical Cyclone Diwa developed in the south Indian Ocean east of Madagascar on the 4th, passing approximately 230 km (140 miles) to the west of Reunion Island (France) on the 5th. Heavy rainfall and winds gusting as high as 120 km/hr (65 knots or 75 mph) occurred on the island, producing power outages to 10,000 homes and water utilities interruptions to 20,000 (AFP).

A tornado ripping across southern Bangladesh, killed 5 people as it flattened hundreds of houses, trees and utility poles in Bagerhat District

A cat found dead in northern Germany was tested positive for H5N1, becoming the first infected mammal in continental Europe, as scientists confirmed fresh cases of bird flu from Russia to Slovenia, officials said on Tuesday.


Scientists found the small, blind crustacean last March during a deep-sea expedition some 900 miles (1,500 kilometers) south of Easter Island, which lies off the coast of Chile (map).
Divers using submersible vehicles were about a mile and a half (more than two and a quarter kilometers) below the surface when they spotted the animal near hydrothermal vents.
The creature, dubbed the "yeti crab," is so unusual that a whole new family of animal had to be created to classify it. Its official name is Kiwa hirsuta, and even after a year of study scientists say there's still much about it they don't understand.

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Earth News: A Journal of the Planet
©2006 Earth Frenzy Radio.Com-All Rights Reserved


A Non-Nuclear Test
The United States and
Britain conducted a “subcritical”
nuclear experiment
at the U.S. underground
test site in Nevada. It was the
22nd such blast since 1997, according
to the Energy Department. The
explosion occurred in an underground
laboratory of horizontal tunnels
about 950 feet beneath the desert
surface and was not powerful enough
to trigger a nuclear chain reaction.
Antinuclear groups have criticized
the explosions, saying they undermine
the Comprehensive Test Ban
Treaty on nuclear weapons. But U.S.
officials maintain that the tests provide
crucial information to maintain
the safety and reliability of the country’s
nuclear weapons without having
to conduct actual underground
nuclear explosions.

Thousands of people on
Papua New Guinea’s
Manam Island were
ordered to evacuate as the
island’s volcano erupted violently.
Manam last erupted in October 2004,
prompting an evacuation of more
than 9,000 people after falling ash
contaminated water supplies and
destroyed houses and crops. Islanders
were placed in camps on the mainland,
but many had returned before
the latest eruption.

African Snowstorm
A bitter winter snowstorm
blew southward
from Western Europe,
blanketing a wide area of
North Africa with frozen precipitation.
Heavy snow cut off villages and
clogged key roads leading away from
the Algerian capital, Algiers, for several
days. Many rural communities
were only accessible by mules and
donkeys, according to press reports.

Enduring Bird Flu
Concerns that Europe
could be in for a long
battle with the H5N1
strain of avian influenza
grew as the virus was detected in
more EU birds and caused the death
of a domestic cat in Germany. That
country immediately ordered that all
pet cats be kept indoors, and dog owners
were instructed to keep their animals
on a leash. Some frantic pet
owners considered giving up their
animals altogether. But the World
Health Organization assured them
that there has never been a human
case of bird flu linked with exposure
to cats. Britain’s chief scientific
adviser, Sir David King, told BBC
that he expects the avian influenza
outbreak will persist in Europe for at
least five years.

Wild Bird Tragedy
A sudden freeze last
autumn in the forests of
Russia’s Arkhangelsk
region caused the deaths
of vast numbers of birds, according
to wildlife experts. Usually, birds
escape wintry conditions there by
burrowing into snow or other dens.
But a rapid deep freeze that followed
heavy rain during the fall left the birds
nowhere to shelter, said researcher
Vladimir Korepanov. The thick ice
also kept the birds from their usual
food sources. Korepanov says only
10 percent of the region’s birds survived,
and it could take two to three
years for their numbers to recover.

Tropical Cyclones
Australia’s northwest corner
received heavy rainfall
and storm-force winds
when Cyclone Emma
moved ashore. Local flash flooding
blocked some roads, but there were
no reports of significant damage from
the storm.
• Weak Cyclone Kate formed
briefly over the open waters of the
northern Coral Sea.
• Cyclone Carina churned the central
Indian Ocean, posing a threat
only to shipping lanes.

More than 1,000 homes in
a remote region of southern
Iran were seriously
damaged when a magnitude
6.0 temblor hit the region. The
shaking was felt as far away as the
United Arab Emirates.
• Earth movements were also felt
in the western Mozambique aftershock
zone, southeastern Spain,
northern Tibet, the central Philippines,
the island of Hawaii, southern
Illinois and across a wide area of
upstate New York, eastern Ontario
and western Quebec.

Not Junk to Bears
An abundance of junk
food around new housing
developments in the
United States is responsible
for a population boom of bears,
according to wildlife experts. Leftover
food, full of protein and fat-rich
ingredients, is actually increasing the
bears’ fertility as well as attracting
them to newly populated areas. Kevin
Brennan, a wildlife biologist for the
California Department of Fish and
Game, says the number of bears in the
state had risen eightfold in the past 20
years, making them more numerous
near cities than in many places in the
wild. He adds that a high-fat diet of
human scraps creates fatter female
bears, who then have litters of two or
three cubs, compared to only one or
two cubs when they feed on their
usual diet of acorns and berries.

Distributed by: Universal Press Syndicate
Earth News: A Journal of the Planet
© Earth Frenzy Radio-All Rights Reserved

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