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Tag Archive: US News and World Report


 

Eric Blair
Activist Post

After the initial surge of web traffic to alternative news websites following The Guardian breaking the NSA spying story, traffic has slowed considerably despite the continued interest in the NSA story as well as other alternative headlines.

This dramatic drop in traffic may be due to broad censorship by the Department of Defense on “millions of computers”.

What began as a rumor that the military brass was ordering soldiers not to view news about the whistleblower revelations that the NSA is spying on all Americans has swelled into a confirmed military-wide censorship campaign using a high-tech computer filtering system.

The US News and World Report is reporting that the DoD is blocking access to all articles related to the NSA scandal from all DoD computers. The filter reportedly effects millions of computers and potentially thousands of alternative news and civil liberties websites.

According to U.S. News:

The Department of Defense is blocking online access to news reports about classified National Security Agency documents made public by Edward Snowden. The blackout affects all of the department’s computers and is part of a department-wide directive.

“Any website that runs information that the Department of Defense still considers classified” is affected, Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Damien Pickart told U.S. News in a phone interview.

According to Pickart, news websites that re-report information first published by The Guardian or other primary sources are also affected.

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Officials Fear That H7N9 Bird Flu Is Spreading From Person To Person

Jennifer Welsh | Apr. 19, 2013, 3:34 PM
beijing hospital bird flu

REUTERS/Jason Lee

A nurse opens a door of a room screening people for fever at Ditan Hospital, where a child with a new strain of bird flu is undergoing treatment, in Beijing April 13, 2013.

As new cases of the bird flu H7N9 continue to pop up all over China, officials are getting more and more worried that the virus can spread between humans, or that it will soon develop the ability to spread between humans.

If it develops the ability to transfer easily from one human to another it could easily become a pandemic.

While the virus has been circulating in the bird population, and many types of birds have tested positive for it. According to the World Health Organization, researchers in China haven’t found definite evidence of how it’s transmitted to humans.

What’s the source?

There’s mounting concern about the virus’s actual origins: A number of the confirmed human cases of the new bird flu, H7N9, say they hadn’t interacted with live birds before they got sick. A Chinese official said only about 40% of the patients had tenuous connections to live birds.

Of almost 50,000 samples from poultry markets, only 39 have tested positive for the virus — a very low number according to The New York Times. They also noted that no pigs have tested positive for the virus.

It could come from birds, or from other animals, or some other environmental source, Time reports.

Will it spread between people?

There are even hints that the virus could spread from person to person, but it doesn’t seem to do it all that well yet. According to the New York Times, there are four possible instances of H7N9 spreading between people: Three families in Shanghai and one spread between two boys in Beijing.

It’s difficult to tell if family members were infected from the same original source, or if the virus passed from one to the other, WHO spokesperson Gregory Hartl told The Times.

The latest study, detailed by Reuters indicates that the virus was widespread in the animal populations (not sure which) before it made the leap to humans. The genetic diversity (small changes between individual viruses) looks like a much larger outbreak, the researchers said.

“The diversity we see in these first few samples from China is as great as the diversity we have seen with a large outbreak in the Netherlands several years ago and one in Italy,” study researcher Marion Koopmans, of the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, told Reuters. “This means it (the H7N9 strain in China) has been spreading quite a bit and it’s important to understand where exactly that is going on.”

That’s a bad sign not just because the virus is widespread, but the greater genetic diversity gives the virus more raw materials to work with when mutating. This could make it easier for the virus to gain the ability to pass easily between humans.

A pandemic in the making?

If it can pass between people, it makes a pandemic much more likely, especially if the virus adapts to be transmitted easier. If it becomes more virulent, multiple people could be infected at once in a populated area.

They aren’t the only ones worried about human-to-human transmission of the virus. Jason Koebler of the US News and World Report talked to WHO about the possibility:

Glenn Thomas, a spokesperson for WHO, tells U.S. News that “it’s still too early to say” whether there have been human-to-human transmission, but that the team they’ve sent there will be investigating the possibility.

“There’s no evidence yet of sustained human-to-human transmission, but the team will be looking into this,” he says.

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Gene data show China bird flu mutated “under the radar”

By Kate Kelland

LONDON (Reuters) – The new strain of bird flu that has killed 17 people in China has been circulating widely “under the radar” and has acquired significant genetic diversity that makes it more of a threat, scientists said on Friday.

Dutch and Chinese researchers who analyzed genetic data from seven samples of the new H7N9 strain say it has already acquired similar levels of genetic diversity as much larger outbreaks of other H7 strains of flu seen previously in birds.

“The diversity we see in these first few samples from China is as great as the diversity we have seen with a large outbreak in the Netherlands several years ago and one in Italy,” said Marion Koopmans, head of virology at the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, who worked on the study as part of a nine-member team.

“This means it (the H7N9 strain in China) has been spreading quite a bit and it’s important to understand where exactly that is going on.”

Its genetic diversity shows the virus has an ability to mutate repeatedly and is likely to continue doing so, raising the risk that it may become transmissible among humans.

Koopmans, whose research was published in the online journal Eurosurveillance, said the circulation would probably have taken place in either birds or mammals, but said exactly which animals were involved was not yet clear.

“Simply the fact that this virus is spreading under the radar – because that is what this data confirms – is of concern,” she told Reuters in a telephone interview.

The H7N9 virus is so far known to have infected 87 people in China, killing 17 of them. Health officials raised further questions on Friday about the source of the new strain after data indicated that more than half of patients had had no contact with poultry.

 

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U.S. Hospitals Told to Be on Lookout for H7N9 Bird Flu

Hospitals in U.S. Told by CDC to Be on Lookout for H7N9 Bird Flu

Hospitals in U.S. Told by CDC to Be on Lookout for H7N9 Bird Flu

ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images

Doctors wearing protective clothing work at the First Affiliated Hospital of College of Medicine of Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China. China has recorded 92 human infections of the H7N9 strain of bird flu, with 17 of the cases fatal, according to data compiled by Bloomberg from national and provincial governments and the World Health Organization.

U.S. hospitals are being urged to head off a spread of the new H7N9 avian influenza by looking out for people exhibiting flu-like symptoms who have traveled to China or had contact with someone who has the illness.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention held a conference call with health-care professionals yesterday to review procedures for treating bird-flu patients and controlling infections, Erin Burns, an agency spokeswoman, said in an e- mail. The Atlanta-based agency today issued interim guidance on the use of antiviral agents to treat H7N9 infections.

Issuing the guidance and holding the clinician calls “would be considered routine preparedness measures for an outbreak with pandemic potential,” Burns said.

China has recorded 92 human infections of the H7N9 strain of bird flu, with 17 of the cases fatal, according to data compiled by Bloomberg from national and provincial governments and the World Health Organization. The source of the infection hasn’t been identified and there is no evidence of person-to- person transmission, with many of the cases involving human contact with poultry, according to the CDC’s website.

There haven’t been any cases reported in the U.S. and sustained person-to-person spread is needed for a pandemic to occur. The H7N9 virus is novel and has the potential to cause a pandemic if it were to change and spread through human-to-human contact, CDC said.

 

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