H7N9 cases detected in Beijing and ShanghaiThe H7N9 avian influenza virus has sickened two more people in China. The infections were detected in two of the country’s biggest cities: Beijing and Shanghai.A report today from Hong Kong’s Center for Health Protection (CHP), citing mainland health officials, said Beijing’s case involves a 68-year-old man whose illness is classified as an imported infection from Hebei province in the northern part of the country. The man has a history of exposure to live poultry and is hospitalized in critical condition. The case is the first to be detected in Beijing during the latest wave of H7N9 illnesses.Shanghai’s patient is a 58-year-old man who is being treated. No other details were available. His H7N9 illnesses is the fifth from city to be reported in the current wave of activity, though some of the earlier patients had connections to other provinces.Last week China topped the number of infections reported during the second H7N9 wave, which took place during the winter of 2013-2014 only a few months after the first infections were detected in humans. The country now has at least 347 cases for the current wave of activity.Feb 13 CHP statement Feb 10 CIDRAP News story “China now in its worst H7N9 avian flu season on record” New study describes role of Ebola super-spreadersA new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) says that super-spreaders likely transmit up to 61% of Ebola virus cases.Though the “super-spreader” phenomenon, where certain patients disproportionately transmit the disease to others, is well-known in viruses such as SARS or MERS-CoV, it has not been studied in Ebola virus. To do so, researchers used outbreak data from Sierra Leone to build a model that showed the effect super-spreaders had on Ebola transmission.The authors looked at data collected from Ebola treatment centers from October of 2014 through March of 2015. They found the basic reproductive number, or the number of cases one patient infected in a naive population, was 2.39. The average incubation period was 6.74 days.A key driver in super-spreading was age. Patients younger than 15 and older than 45 years were more likely to spread the disease. The authors suggested that these patients were more likely to have increased contact in households and with caregivers, and were particularly dangerous in the early days of incubation. “A substantial proportion of secondary cases were either direct or indirect descendants of a small number of super-spreaders, underscoring the importance of super-spreading in driving the epidemic − that is, had the super-spreaders been identified and quarantined promptly,” the authors write.Feb 13 PNAS study Unique stewardship strategy increases ID consultations, study findsThe implementation of a “handshake stewardship” program at a children’s hospital led to a significant increase in infectious disease (ID) consultations, according to a new study in Clinical Infectious Diseases.In the quasi-experimental retrospective cohort study conducted at Children’s Hospital Colorado in Denver, researchers compared rates of initial ID consultations before and after implementing a unique type of antibiotic stewardship program (ASP)—called “handshake stewardship”—that expands on the prospective audit and feedback approach. Handshake stewardship involves daily review of prescribed antimicrobials at 24 and 72 hours, real-time decision support for rapid diagnostic test reporting, and in-person communication between the stewardship team and attending physicians, regardless of whether there are ASP interventions.A comparison of the pre-implementation phase (October 2010-September 2011) to the post-implementation period (October 2013-September 2015) showed that mean monthly ID consultations rose from 31 per 1,000 admissions to 42, an increase of 35%.The authors of the study note the findings run contrary to the concern—expressed by ID providers in a recent survey—that ASPs would lead to a decrease on ID consultations and a loss of income. In addition, they note that ASP-recommended ID consultations only accounted for just over half of the additional ID consultations per month observed after implementation of the program. They argue that this could be an indirect benefit of the handshake stewardship approach.”Daily in-person rounds leads to visibility and familiarity among the inpatient medical teams, breaking down barriers to units that may previously have little interaction with infectious disease providers,” the authors write. “The ‘Handshake Stewardship’ approach provides a unique opportunity for a bi-directional exchange of information and education, often resulting in consultation.” Feb 10 Clin Infect Dis abstract Oral cholera vaccine safety in pregnancyThe killed oral cholera vaccine poses no increased risk for pregnancy loss or adverse birth outcomes when administered to pregnant women, according to a new study published in Vaccine.Cholera vaccines are not currently recommended for use in pregnant women because of unknown safety risks, but infection with cholera in pregnancy can cause severe complications, including death. In this study, 48,414 Bangladeshi women were questioned about cholera immunization status during a 2011 vaccine campaign. Of the 286 women who received the killed oral cholera vaccine (Shanchol) while unknowingly pregnant, 69 were available for follow-up surveillance.Sixteen percent of pregnant women who received Shanchol experienced pregnancy loss, compared to 12% in the control group. Researchers said there was no increased risk in pregnancy loss after using models that controlled for adjusted baseline characteristics.”While more studies are needed, this study supports a recommendation that killed OCVs may be given to pregnant women, for whom a judgment is made that the benefit outweighs the risk, taking account of the epidemiological context of cholera vaccination,” the authors write.Feb 11 Vaccine study Seroprevalence study finds immune system clues in WNV infectionSeroprevalence testing for West Nile virus (WNV) among adults in Connecticut, where the disease is endemic, shows higher seroconversion levels in immunocompromised people, though age didn’t seem to be a significant seroconversion factor. A team from Yale University and Columbia University published their findings in a Feb 10 early online edition of Emerging Infectious Diseases.They looked at blood test results and demographic information from 1,063 adults—890 nonimmunocompromised and 173 immunosuppressed—who were enrolled in a study on immunity and aging. They compared the results with symptomatic WNV patients reported to the Connecticut Department of Health from 2000 to 2014. Previous exposure to WNV was measured by immunoblot testing for the WNV envelope protein. For the positive samples, they screened for cross-reactivity to other flaviviruses.Evidence of WNV exposure was seen in 76 (8.5%) of the nonimmunosuppressed group, none of whom had reported symptoms or were diagnosed with infection. Of 173 immunosuppressed participants, 29 (16.8%) showed evidence of infection. The rates of seroconversion for the two groups did not vary significantly by age or sex, but levels were higher among Hispanic groups, possibly because of different exposure histories. Researchers said the mean age for symptomatic cases reported by the health department was higher than that of the asymptomatic cases, suggesting that age remains a factor for disease susceptibility. They also noted that higher seroconversion rates in the immunosuppressed group might reflect underlying medical conditions or medication regimens.Though environmental conditions affect mosquito vectors, individual factors such as immune status might play a key role in susceptibility to infection and severe disease, the group wrote.Feb 10 Emerg Infect Dis report
COVID-19 in Rio Arriba County. Shown are the number of diagnoses by town in Rio Arriba County. Towns with zero diagnoses are not shown. Created by Eli Ben-Naim
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The two carbon capture-focused companies today signed a Memorandum of Understanding to collaborate on the development of facilities, which they hope will remove millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere annually.One location the partnership is considering for the for UK-based DAC plant is in North East Scotland, close to the Acorn CCS project. The proposed facility will deliver permanent CO2 removal by capture CO2 from the air and then permanently storing it below the seabed in an offshore geological storage site.Read more: Acorn CCS project progressesAlan James, Managing Director at PBDE, said, “We are delighted to be partnering with Carbon Engineering to explore the opportunities for DAC in the UK. Whilst most businesses have growing aspirations to decarbonise to make their contribution to meeting the UK’s Net Zero target, some face huge challenges due to the nature of their emissions, or the uncertain business environment for their operations during the energy transition.”“For some, installing decarbonisation technology may simply never be commercially or logistically practical. DAC will provide a mechanism for those businesses to reduce their climate impact effectively and allow others to remove from the atmosphere the emissions that they were responsible for in the past.”From its pilot facility in British Columbia, Canada, Carbon Engineering has been capturing CO2 from the atmosphere since 2015 and is now engineering its first large-scale commercial plant in the US that will capture one million tonnes of atmosphere CO2 annually – equivalent to the work of 40 million trees.Read more: Carbon Engineering expands capacity at commercial DAC plantSteve Oldham, CEO of Carbon Engineering, said, “We’ve been developing and optimising our DAC technology for more than a decade and are thrilled to now be working with Pale Blue Dot to bring this solution to the UK. This partnership with Pale Blue Dot enables the deployment of DAC projects in the UK and will help establish a UK DAC industry that will deliver significant emission reductions and help address climate change.”
The Ocean Cleanup, the Dutch foundation developing advanced technologies to rid the oceans of plastic, informed it has raised USD 21.7 million in donations since last November to start cleanup trials in the Pacific Ocean. “This new contribution allows The Ocean Cleanup to initiate large-scale trials of its cleanup technology in the Pacific Ocean later this year,” the foundation said.Details on this project and the start of the cleanup will be shared at an event at the Werkspoorkathedraal in Utrecht, the Netherlands, on May 11, according to The Ocean Cleanup.The latest funding round is said to bring The Ocean Cleanup’s total funding since 2013 to USD 31.5 million.Over the past four years, the foundation has been developing a passive plastic capturing technology which uses the ocean currents to catch and concentrate the plastic, reducing the theoretical cleanup time of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch from millennia to years.“Our mission is to rid the world’s oceans of plastic, and this support is a major leap forward towards achieving this goal. Thanks to the generous support of … funders, the day we’ll be returning that first batch of plastic to shore is now in sight,” Boyan Slat, Founder and CEO of The Ocean Cleanup, pointed out.Last year, the Ocean Cleanup deployed a 100-meter-long barrier segment in the North Sea, 23 kilometers off the coast of the Netherlands, putting the design to the test in open waters for the first time.The prototype is expected to show the foundation how the floating barrier fares in extreme weather at sea. The data gathered would enable engineers to develop a system fully resistant to severe conditions during the cleanup of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in 2020.
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ISS’ support services will include the preparation of STV Finesse for the arrival and load-out operation of the pipelayer vessel Stingray and multi-cat boat Atlas at Guanabara Bay.Additional services will include managing formalities with the port and maritime authorities, arrangement of permits, pilots, stowage planning and notices to airmen and mariners, as well as further husbandry services required during the three-month pipelaying project.”ISS has demonstrated its global capacity as a strategic partner to the offshore industry and has a number of key contracts running simultaneously throughout the major oil production and exploration regions of the world,” said Luciano Oliveira, senior general manager of ISS Marine Solutions in South and Central America.www.iss-shipping.com
Maverick InsiderJohnny CopelynPicador AfricaReview: Brian JossFrom ardent trade unionist to the billionaire boss of Hosken Consolidated Investments: that’s the story of Johnny Copelyn, who in Maverick Insider, sub-titled, A Struggle for Union Independence in a time of National Liberation, has written a personal memoir of the workers’ struggle and the role he (and others) played in reshaping the labour movement in South Africa, starting in 1973, after the famous strike in Durban. Although Copelyn was served with a banning order for five years by the National Party government, it did not stop him from getting a law degree or merging the clothing and textile workers into a formidable union – the Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers’ Union (SACTWU), which is now part of Cosatu which also sent Copelyn to Parliament in 1994 until he quit as an MP in 1997 to lead HCI, the newly established union investment company. Copelyn devotes a chapter about HCI, which he started 20 years ago. But he doesn’t give away too many details of his rise to riches or his fallout with Marcelle Golding. Perhaps that’s for a sequel. Copelyn attributes his left wing ideals to Habonim, similar to Scouts except it is a socialist movement for Jewish youth. He also absorbed some left wing ideas when he was a student at the University of the Witwatersrand.Copelyn has an easy style of writing, as if he is talking directly to you. The pages are peopled with well-known figures: Jay Naidoo; Halton Cheadle; Alec Erwin; Cyril Ramaphosa; Ebrahim Patel, who wrote the foreword, the Shaiks: Yunus, Moe and Chippy; and Virginia Engel, who started the Cape branch of Sactwu and later headed the foundation and was responsible for giving out bursaries. “Ginny” worked as a PA to Nelson Mandela, while he was president. Copelyn visited Ginny at her request when she was dying . The next day on May 18 he got a call to say she had passed away. The chapter makes poignant reading. During his time as trade unionist, Copelyn and his colleagues had to do battle with textile tycoon Philip Frame, and the picture he draws of the textile colossus is a perfect description of the man I interviewed many years ago. Incidentally, Frame, who was close to the government of the day, taught the unionists a “lesson in negotiating“.Soon after his run-in with Frame, Copelyn was instrumental in starting Zenzeleni, the first union-owned clothing factory and where he honed his business skills.There are lots of humorous anecdotes, not least about the dreaded security police who were very involved in Copelyn’s life. Another story that will have you smiling, is one about Obed Zuma and organiser Junerose Nala, who through some subterfuge on Nala’s part, arranged to have a conversation with Copelyn while she was in Rossburgh police station, under the watchful eyes of the ever present security police. On a more serious note, he tells how ANC members, among them Jay Naidoo and Yunus Shaik, infiltrated the union.Maverick Insider is one man’s story about the transformation of the workers’ sector told by a maverick, who also gives credit to many of the people who travelled with him on the long road to the Rainbow Nation. It’s also a tribute to them. It is a valuable addition to the country’s struggle history and is a must for anyone who wants to know what happened in the labour movement, such as it was, before 1994.
FORT MYERS, Fla. For the past six years, the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving has been used to spread awareness to donate to charitable organizations around the world.‘Giving Tuesday’, as it’s known, is a way to encourage spending during the holidays on something other than our own families.But as it rolls around each year, so do the warnings for consumers.“The biggest risk that the Better Business Bureau hears about is not giving to the correct charity. There’s a lot of similar charity names, as donors we want to make sure we are giving to the actual charity that we intend,” said Bryan Oglesby with the West Florida BBB.MORE: How ‘Giving Tuesday’ ushers in the holidays’ charitable spiritOglesby says to not fall into pressure to give on the spot and make sure you research a charity before you give.A reputable charity will have no problem being transparent about how their money is used, spent and providing documentation, he said.Here are five websites to help you do your homework before giving:Check-A-Charity – The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services requires all charities that solicit in the state to register. Any non-profit organization that calls and asks for money to residents in the state of Florida should be on this website. You can search by name or license/registration number. The listings provide information on revenues, expenses and what percentage of money is used for the charity’s mission versus salaries, administrative costs and fundraising.BBB Wise Giving Alliance – The better business bureau rates charities on 20 different standards. It rates them on whether standards are met, not met or not able to verify. BBB accredited charities must spend at least 65% or more of revenue on program expenses.Charity Watch – The American Institute of Philanthropy does a very thorough analysis to rate charities, diving deep to let people know how efficiently money is spent. The organization does not rate all charities, and only looks at national groups. A grade scale is developed based on the percent of money used on program expenses and the amount it spends to raise $100. A charity does not get an A rating unless it spends 80% or more on program expenses.Charity Navigator – The site includes a listing for more than 1.5 million non-profits in the United States, however on a subset of them is rated. Total revenue and fundraising practices are used to determine if a charity gets a rating. Charities are rating on a four-star scale based on financial health as well as transparency and accountability.GuideStar – Join for free to view thousands of 990 tax forms from non-profits around the nation. The 990 form is the financial information the IRS turns into the IRS every year. The site also allows you to access information provided directly from the no Do you see a typo or an error? Let us know. Do your homework before you give on ‘Giving Tuesday’ Published: November 28, 2017 4:23 PM EST Updated: November 28, 2017 6:03 PM EST SHARE Reporter:Lauren Sweeney
GERMAN Railway was taken by surprise on July 24 when the Federal Railway Office (EBA) suddenly ordered the withdrawal of the 20-strong fleet of Class 605 ICE tilting diesel sets, citing a report suggesting there were problems with fatigue resistance of the axles. Class 605 was intended to bring ICE standards to important non-electrified routes such as Nürnberg – Dresden and the international service between München and Zürich, but this development does nothing to cheer up the trains’ unhappy history.Launch of the fleet in commercial service was twice delayed before the trains eventually began running between Nürnberg, Bayreuth, Hof and Dresden in June 2001. Even so, software problems plagued the trains for their first few months in traffic. But worse was to come. Last December one unit derailed as a result of a broken axle, and the trains were only permitted to return to service with the tilt locked out of use pending further investigations. With tilting no longer possible, DB was forced to rewrite its ambitious timetables.This time DB quickly pressed into service replacement loco-hauled trains, but there was no need to change the timetables as the Class 605 timings were no faster than conventional services. DB said that it was still expecting to have the trains ready for service again by the forthcoming timetable change in December, fulfilling a promise made by the train’s builders, Siemens and Bombardier.