Thursday, April 30, 2009

Mexicans told to stay home for 5 day SHUTDOWN: Watch carefully because the same can happen here

SHOOT: Events in Mexico are obviously a precursor, a preview, to what is possible everywhere else.
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People outside hospital in Mexico City

Mexicans have been told to stay home for a five-day partial shutdown of the economy after the World Health Organisation said a swine flu pandemic is imminent.

So far, 168 people are suspected to have died from the H1N1 strain of swine flu in Mexico.

"There is no safer place than your own home to avoid being infected with the flu virus," Mr Calderon said in his first televised address since the crisis erupted last week.

Swine Flu

The new strain of flu has now spread to 12 countries, with The Netherlands the latest to join the list, confirming that a three-year-old child recently returned from Mexico had contracted the virus.

WHO chief Margaret Chan said "it really is all of humanity that is under threat in a pandemic".

"All countries should immediately activate their pandemic preparedness plans," she added.

"Countries should remain on high alert for unusual outbreaks of influenza-like illness and severe pneumonia.

Britain, there have been three new confirmed cases of swine flu, taking the total to five.
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Interview with X-Men director Gavin Hood [VIDEO]

SHOOT: I interviewed Gavin Hood on Monday the 20th of April. I'll put up the links at some stage but in the meantime, watch this. My interview with Gavin Hood was the best interview I've conducted this far; Gavin in a hoot. Great sense of humor, lots of chuckles on hand but obviously also a smart man. Not quite sure what Von Berg is talking about in the last few seconds of this interview.

Aporkalypse Now: What happens when we're at Phase 6?

"You would have to put the entire population in quarantine. And you can't do that, can you?"

It's a dilemma. You have to quarantine everyone, but you can't. You have to keep people in one place because where people go this virus is going to go. The problem is, if everyone goes home, how are ordinary things that we take for granted going to happen - news gathering, food in shops and restaurants, fuel for transport. All of that stuff freezes too. Make no mistake, if there is a lock down, everything will shutdown (everything will run out) within a period of time so short most people will be horrified at how just-in-time are lives actually are. Capacity is threadbare as it is. There will be shortages of food and fuel, so if you hear a PHASE 6 announcement you'll want to stock up (if there is anything left by the time you do this) on brown rice, bottled water, and a few hundred tins of canned beans. Fruit that takes a while to rot is also worth getting a-hold of: apples, oranges (whichever is in season) and perhaps avocados and pineapples. Buy pasta instead of bread. Stay away from refined foods and especially foods high in sugar. Get plenty or rest and enough sun (vitamin D) on your skin.

If you get sick, isolate yourself but seek medical help either by phone or on the internet. Blog or twitter about the experience.

If we can count on people to keep their cool, it is possible to defeat this virus this time around by essentially waiting it out. That means, no one goes to work or school and while we may become uncomfortable and even hungry (living on rice and water a la survivor) the virus won't really go anywhere it isn't already and will burn itself out. These type of viruses mutate very quickly and in a few weeks they disappear. The next year they come back entirely different (which may or may not be a good thing).
So it's a possible strategy, but it's not much.

I predict things will get a lot worse, whether this pandemic manifests as a shit storm nightmare or not. Here's why:

- There's a Pandemic after this one that may be much worse. It's going to come back worse and worse because the ingredients for the pandemic [unhygienic farming and environmental setups that enhance their virulence (warming temperatures)] are increasing; the trend is worsening, far from improving. So if we survive this pandemic there are certain to be successive waves that become more and more lethal. Probably we will develop a better and better capability to wipe them out, but a virus has the edge on humanity. It can change faster than we can track it, and it can render vaccines and medicines useless pretty quickly (a trend that has been happening for some time in medicine).

- Climate Change. No one believes in probably the most potent force happening out there. Climate Change on its own is going to spread and changes diseases. Thanks to Climate Change new diseases are being born and are spreading into entirely new areas. Things like malaria and West Nile Disease and Ebola. If you follow the news you hear about some killer sicknesses coming out, like Dengue Fever.

- Population Growth. The implications of our industrialised society are many. Pollution is one (impacting on Climate Change) but there are many others. Habitat destruction, genetically engineered plants and to some extent animals (it has already been theorised that experiments on human diabetics and animal tissue samples in a Mexican hospital could have stimulated this genetic recombination.

One of the most basic is that a huge population requires huge resources of energy. Food and fuel. Both of these are under tremendous strain at present. Food stocks (in terms of staple crops) are at very low levels. Oil is depleting at an alarming rate - especially in Mexico and Iraq which are supposed to have some of the world's super giant fields. But in terms of H1N1, large human populations have led to huge industrialised death camps for chickens, pigs and cows. These animals are kept in unnatural conditions, warehouses, heavily overcrowded to the extent that the animals go mad and get sick. They are kept alive on growth hormones and anti-biotics until they have grown big enough to be slaughtered. This Clockwork system artificial feeding - turning cows essentially into fish pellet eating carnivores, chickens into cannibals and pigs into bottom feeders.

Both of the above - population growth and climate change - aren't likely to even slow down any time soon. So the trends we're seeing (killer diseases that smart bomb the human immune system) are going to get better at wiping us out. This is the planet's safety defence mechanism. Because the real pandemic is us.

WHO mulls Phase 6, watches Spain for sustained trnsmission pattern

SHOOT: Although this is very toubling, at least we've not seen deaths outside of Mexico so far. Of course there is no reason to believe that this could change at any time.
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A passenger wears a face mask Thursday at Gatwick Airport in England on arrival from Mexico.

GENEVA, Switzerland (CNN) -- The number of confirmed swine flu cases worldwide has risen to 154, with six additional cases reported in Spain, the World Health Organization said Thursday.

The WHO is troubled because in one of the 10 cases in Spain the virus was transmitted from person-to-person within the community.

The other nine infected people had returned from Mexico, where the crisis is most severe, according to WHO spokesman Dick Thompson.

If Spain sees more such cases of community transmission, the world body may have to elevate its pandemic alert to its highest level. Phase 6 is the pandemic phase and is characterized by a community-level outbreak in another country in a different WHO region.

"The significance is that it's another phase," Thompson said. "The virus is becoming established in another area, another country."

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Swine Flu: Now in the Netherlands

SHOOT: Another toddler infected.
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  • BNO NewsBreakingNewsNetherlands confirm first case of swine flu in todler; 19 million flu medication ordered.
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    Swine Flu: Organised Bioterrorism shouldn't be ruled out [ "When we give government the power to make medical decisions for us, we, in essence, accept that the state owns our bodies."}

    Before he was voted out of office in 2006, then-senator Bill Frist (R-TN), a physician, drove through a bill that gave drug companies more immunity than any bill ever passed by Congress. The legislation, referred to as "Division-E" was tacked on to a Defense appropriations bill in the final minutes of the Congressional sessions before the Christmas recess. This bill provides at least four sweeping provisions:

    1. Immunity from liability for all drugs, vaccines, or biological products deemed as a covered countermeasure against bioterrorism in the event of an outbreak of any kind. The proposal is not only limited to new drugs or vaccines developed under the umbrella of "bioterrorism" or "pandemic" protection. The proposal is so broad that it could include drugs like Tylenol, Advil…and would have applied to Vioxx.

    SHOOT: Stranger than fiction.
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    Staying Healthy
    Certainly, keeping yourself healthy and protected from all types of flu strains is a priority, now more than ever. Here are some suggestions:
    Good hydration with alkaline water
    If you don’t have access to an alkaline water machine, be sure to eat large amounts of alkalinizing, fresh vegetables and fruits such as broccoli, carrots, sprouts, avocados and berries. Here is a site with a great list:


    Get at least 8.5 hours per night, every night. Sleep is often overlooked at the key to health. This is simple to do and best of all, it is free.

    Vitamin D

    Much has been written on the importance of adequate vitamin D for resisting viral infections.

    A quote by U.S. Representative Ron Paul (R-TX) says it all: "When we give government the power to make medical decisions for us, we, in essence, accept that the state owns our bodies."
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    Swine Flu: Symptoms 'unbearably painful' [Vaccine 1/3rd ready + Advice on Kissing]

    "We're about a third of the way" to that goal [a vaccine], said Dr. Ruben Donis of the CDC.
    WHO's Thompson was noncommittal on the "don't kiss" advice, saying only: "There are different national circumstances that health officials are going to know far better than we will. It's up to them to make that call."
    At a news conference announcing the elevated pandemic level, WHO chief Margaret Chan went further, suggesting it was time to rethink the traditional three kisses on the cheek popular in Switzerland and elsewhere in Europe. "Perhaps instead of having the traditional three hugs to say hello and welcome your friends, maybe you don't do that anymore," she said. "Don't hold each other and hug their face three times."
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    "I could barely even catch my breath. I've never felt a pain like that before," Mele said. "My throat, it was burning, like, it was the worst burning sensation I ever got before. I couldn't even swallow. I couldn't even let up air. I could barely breathe through my mouth."

    "I fully expect we will see deaths from this infection," said Richard Besser, acting director of the CDC.

    A doctor wearing full body protective gear stand in the Naval hospital as

    That was echoed by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

    "It is very likely that we will see more serious presentations of illness and some deaths as we go through this flu cycle," she said.

    Twelve teachers reported flu-like symptoms as well, said the principal, Brother Leonard Conway.

    "It is here and it is spreading," Frieden said.

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    Swine Flu: South African government clueless, already falling behind

    Fidel Hadebe [a government spokesman] says "the most recent case [of swine flu] was reported in Kenya in the 1950's." Really? That's odd because I had my feet sprayed in Transkei and the Free State, and all our bags checked for pork as recently as November 26, 2005. I even published pictures on my blog:
    With this description:
    I had to have the undersides of my shoes sprayed as there is a serious outbreak of some kind of swine disease in the Transkei at the moment.
    SHOOT: At the same time [November 25] H5N1 was circling in Vietnam, Cambodia and Indonesia. As a result of this worrying news I conducted the following interview with a microbial expert at UFS:
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    "The most recent case was reported in Kenya in the 1950s," he said.

    Hadebe did not respond to The Star's query on Wednesday about whether the second woman was in hospital.

    According to Hadebe, the Department of Agriculture had said there were no cases of swine flu in pigs in SA or the region.

    Health authorities have been aware since Monday that swine flu may have reached South Africa, but they failed to mention this for two days.

    This comes as the outgoing cabinet on Wednesday reassured South Africans that there was no need to panic over swine flu.

    On Wednesday, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) and the national Department of Health confirmed two suspected cases in SA.

    But department spokesperson Fidel Hadebe did not respond to The Star's query about why the department had taken two days to mention the first case.
    Blumberg earlier said the woman had travelled extensively - on buses and trains - in Mexico this month.
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    Swine Flu: No one would have believed...

    Narrator: No-one would have believed in the early years of the twenty-first century that our world was being watched by intelligences greater than our own; that as men busied themselves about their various concerns, they observed and studied, the way a man with a microscope might scrutinize the creatures that swarm and multiple in a drop of water. With infinite complacency, men went to and fro about the globe, confident of our empire over this world. Yet across the gulf of space, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic regarded our planet with envious eyes and slowly, and surely, drew their plans against us.

    And yet, within the gulfs of our own oceans, within our mists and clouds, a miasma rose with the water birds, carried in their crops and claws and beaks and the sheaths of their wings. And they dusted all the lands they overflew, as the creatures far below, trafficked to their destinations, or watched sublime flickerings on screens large and small. Slowly, and surely, the dust drifted down all around us... written by NVDL in November 2005
    I had to have the undersides of my shoes sprayed as there is a serious outbreak of some kind of swine disease in the Transkei at the moment.
    We can't imagine a better life, and we also can't imagine the life we are living, unravelling. It is not an exagerration to say that in only the H5N1 scenario, you can have a world with 65 victims one day, and 24 hours later, it can basically go everywhere. Am I saying that in a single day, the world can change. No. In a moment.
    Imagining it before hand may help you deal with the actuality of it.
    Many people feel it is a pointless exercise because, the usual refrain, 'there's nothing you can do'.

    But there is quite a lot you can do.
    For a start, you can start listening.
    You can show an awareness in the world beyond what is fun and entertaining, beyond your job and earning money.
    Begin to develop an interest in significant events around you.
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    Ice melt chronic now in Antarctica

    SHOOT: This is what happens when sentient beings ignore the obvious for long enough. It starts to catch up with you. Reality, in the form of a killer virus, economic collapse, energy depletion (yes, it's still happening) and climate collapse are manifesting all around us whether we believe it or not. Like the force of gravity, some things happen in spite of our beliefs. Truth takes time to manifest between all the myths, but sooner or later it always does.
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    An Envisat Advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar (ASAR) image dated April 28, 2009

    BERLIN – Massive ice chunks are crumbling away from a shelf in the western Antarctic Peninsula, researchers said Wednesday, warning that 1,300 square miles of ice — an area larger than Rhode Island — was in danger of breaking off in coming weeks.

    The Wilkins Ice Shelf had been stable for most of the last century, but began retreating in the 1990s. Researchers believe it was held in place by an ice bridge linking Charcot Island to the Antarctic mainland.

    "As a consequence of the collapse, the rifts, which had already featured along the northern ice front, widened and new cracks formed as the ice adjusted," the European Space Agency said in a statement Wednesday on its Web site, citing new satellite images.

    "There is little doubt that these changes are the result of atmospheric warming," said David Vaughan of the British Antarctic Survey.

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    WHO confirms pandemic threat raised to 5 out of 6, says: prepare for the worst

    SHOOT: They've done the right thing, but this is tremendously scary.
    "It is really all of humanity that is under threat during a pandemic."

    I've found the level of complacency shocking around me. I made a comment today urging that our attention be on this important, evolving danger and the response I got was a sneer and a snide remark. It's an interesting response when you look at Chan's remark, that this is essentially something serious that calls into question the entire human condition (for each and every one of us).

    "No matter what the situation is, the international community should treat this as a window of opportunity to ramp up ... response," Chan said.

    When the response is scathing sarcasm and petty criticism it makes you wonder whether your concern for fellow human beings is justified. Maybe some of us are not worth caring about, maybe swathes of people aren't worth saving. Maybe what you sow is what you reap.

    The world is at imminent risk of a pandemic from H1N1 swine flu.Chan said she hoped to reassure governments but urged them to prepare for the worst.

    "The world is better prepared for an influenza pandemic than at any time in history," Chan said. "For the first time in history we can track the pandemic in real time."

    The H1N1 swine flu virus has spread around the world, killing an estimated 159 people in Mexico, claiming the life of a Mexican toddler in the United States, and infecting people in at least eight other countries.

    It is a never-before-seen mix of swine, avian and human viruses and it is not clear how deadly it is or how easily it transmits from one person to another.

    "No matter what the situation is, the international community should treat this as a window of opportunity to ramp up ... response," Chan said.

    "It is really all of humanity that is under threat during a pandemic."

    Pharmaceutical companies should ramp up manufacturing she said. Two antiviral drugs -- Relenza, made by GlaxoSmithKline and Tamiflu, made by Roche AG -- have been shown to work against the H1N1 swine flu strain.
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    GENEVA (Reuters) - World Health Organization director-general Dr. Margaret Chan raised the pandemic threat awareness level to 5 out of 6 on Wednesday, meaning the world is at imminent risk of a pandemic from H1N1 swine flu.

    "I have decided to raise the level of influenza pandemic alert from phase 4 to phase 5," Chan told a news briefing.


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    WHO says flu is not slowing down - widespread human transmissions reported

    SHOOT: Phase 5 now immiment.
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    GENEVA (AP) — The World Health Organization says the swine flu outbreak is moving closer to becoming a pandemic.

    WHO flu chief Dr. Keiji Fukuda told reporters on Wednesday that developments in the disease are moving the agency closer to raising its pandemic alert to phase 5, indicating widespread human-to-human transmission.

    He said the health body was monitoring the situation but was not yet ready to move the pandemic alert level up from its current level of 4, which means it is being passed among people.

    Phase 6 is the highest in the scale and is for a full-scale pandemic.

    Fukuda said there was no evidence the virus was slowing down.

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    Swine flu: 179 people in isolation in New Zealand

    SHOOT:New Zealand is the sixth country in the world to have confirmed cases of the virus.
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        WELLINGTON, April 29 (Xinhua) -- A total of 179 people were in isolation around New Zealand as the number of cases of suspected swine flu continued to climb, said Health Ministry officials on Wednesday.
        The officials said on Tuesday night there are at least three confirmed cases of swine flu in New Zealand: all from a Rangitoto College group who returned from Mexico early on Saturday.

        They said results from three of the 11 samples of the students who tested positive to Influenza A on Sunday, have also tested positive for Swine Flu H1N1.

        Meanwhile, a further two people showing flu-like symptoms were intercepted by officials at Auckland International Airport on Wednesday morning.
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    Swine Flu in Gauteng - but details are sketchy

    SHOOT: Typical South Africa. Ja we think it could be Swine Flu, but we're not sure so...we're just gonna wait and see...and if anything else comes up we'll wait some more just to make sure...and after that we'll hope for the best. Good strategy.
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    Two suspected cases of swine flu have been reported in South Africa, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases said on Wednesday.

    The second suspected case which the institute became aware of on Wednesday concerned a woman in Gauteng.

    Not much details were known about the woman, although she was known to have returned from Mexico with a flu-like illness.

    "She is not particularly ill," said Blumberg.
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    Swine Flu will burn and rage through South Africa - but wait, South Africa says no sweat, they can handle it

    SHOOT: It is shocking to see the level of calm denial from South Africa's government and media, where a large proportion of the country's inhabitants have severely compromised immuno-response.

    South Africa has one of the world's largest HIV-AIDS infected populations - about 5 million. This is a tinderbox for this disease, but as usual, South Africa thinks it's business as usual. Cabinet today confidently proclaimed: SA can handle swine flu. Sure they can. Look how well they've mis-managed AIDS, crime, Zimbabwe, electricity, land re-distribution, housing, xenophobia (in short, everything).
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    According to WHO estimates, there are 33 million people
    infected with immune-weakening HIV worldwide, and another 9
    million people are diagnosed with tuberculosis every year, a
    disease that only rears its head when immunity levels are low.
    If swine flu infiltrates those communities, and takes hold
    in impoverished and densely-populated areas such as urban slums,
    where tropical and other diseases are rife, health experts
    expect the outbreak could quickly become more severe.
    "Many of the world's poorest people are particularly
    vulnerable to lethal airborne diseases," said Glenn Thomas, a
    spokesman for the Stop TB Partnership.
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    Eating so much meat is killing America [1.5 million deaths blamed]

    The increase in mortality risk tied to the higher levels of meat consumption was described as “modest,” ranging from about 20 percent to nearly 40 percent. But the number of excess deaths that could be attributed to high meat consumption is quite large given the size of the American population.

    Extrapolated to all Americans in the age group studied, the new findings suggest that over the course of a decade, the deaths of one million men and perhaps half a million women could be prevented just by eating less red and processed meats, according to estimates prepared by Dr. Barry Popkin, who wrote an editorial accompanying the report.

    SHOOT: There you have it in black and white.
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    There was a time when red meat was a luxury for ordinary Americans, or was at least something special: cooking a roast for Sunday dinner, ordering a steak at a restaurant. Not anymore. Meat consumption has more than doubled in the United States in the last 50 years.

    Now a new study of more than 500,000 Americans has provided the best evidence yet that our affinity for red meat has exacted a hefty price on our health and limited our longevity.

    The study found that, other things being equal, the men and women who consumed the most red and processed meat were likely to die sooner, especially from one of our two leading killers, heart disease and cancer, than people who consumed much smaller amounts of these foods.

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    Australia: Swine flu suspected in every state

    SHOOT: As I've said before, it's everywhere. Now it's time to respond other than by going, "Oh, will this affect me?" Clearly it will, it has, it is.
    SUSPECTED cases of swine flu have spread to every state and territory in the country, with 91 people across Australia now in isolation, awaiting test results for the deadly A/H1N1 virus.

    The latest federal health department figures, issued at 11am, reports the largest number of suspected infections in Queensland, at 31 cases, followed by 19 in Victoria, 14 in South Australia, 10 in New South Wales, eight in Western Australia, six in the Australian Capital Territory, two in Tasmania and one in the Northern Territory.
    None of the cases has yet returned a positive swab for the disease, which is now confirmed in eight countries, including near neighbour New Zealand.
    The search for 22 Australians on a flight from Los Angeles carrying up to 10 infected New Zealanders continues, as the nation enters its first full day on heightened pandemic alert status.
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    The 5 Worst Tweets Ever (SLIDESHOW)

    SHOOT: Hear no evil, twitter no evil. Click on the link below to view the slideshow.
    Twitter can also damage reputations, cost users their jobs, lose them clients, create legal trouble, and change the course of a state's political history by a hair.
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    Wednesday, April 29, 2009

    X-Men Origins: Wolverine 8.5/10

    SHOOT: What I enjoyed about this flick was its sheer masculinity. The proponents of this film are all intensely masculine, and charming, themselves. Schreiber, Jackman and even Gavin Hood himself, a man I interviewed a few days ago. The Wolverine mythos delves into all those things that young boys and men fixate upon - a man on his own finding his own way, wars, blood, physical work, fighting, strength, sweating in nature, rivalry and loyalty, love and betrayal. Perhaps more than anything else, Wolverine taps into the raw nerve of rage - something men and women alike may feel more sympathetic to in Wolverine than they expected.
    All you need to know is that I've seen it twice and it works. It has a lot of mutants in it - something I somehow didn't suspect since the title suggests that it's really the story of Wolverine. Well, it is and it isn't. The heart of this flick is about a bond that exists between two brothers, two almost indestructible warriors. Liev Schreiber steals the show, some have suggested. Yes, he puts in a great performance.
    Jackman's mission for Origins was simply this: Exceed Expectations.
    There's no redemption where I am going...
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