FDA Gives Swine Flu Pandemic The Bird

6a00d8341bf7f753ef011571289260970c-320wiDespite the fact that the swine flue has reached global pandemic levels, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration today announced that it has approved a vaccine for the 2009-2010 flu season that will not protect against H1N1 swine flu – the pandemic strain now most prevalent around the world. In the past week in Great Britain alone, there have been 55,000 new cases of swine flu.

According to its press release, “The FDA continues to work with manufacturers, international partners and other government agencies to facilitate the availability of a safe and effective vaccine against the 2009 H1N1 influenza virus.”

The release continues:

“Although this year’s seasonal vaccine is directed against other strains of influenza expected to be circulating and will not provide protection against the 2009 H1N1 influenza virus, it is still important for those Americans for whom it is recommended to receive the seasonal influenza vaccine. No vaccine is 100 percent effective against preventing disease, but vaccination is the best protection against influenza and can prevent many illnesses and deaths.

And, notes the FDA’s press office, “According to the CDC, between 5 percent and 20 percent of the U.S. population develops influenza each year. More than 200,000 are hospitalized from its complications and about 36,000 people die.”

Speaking of the CDC, that agency last week put at 40,617 the number or “probable and confirmed” H1N1 cases in the U.S.

“Since the WHO declaration of a pandemic, the new H1N1 virus has continued to spread, with the number of countries reporting cases of novel H1N1 nearly doubling. The Southern Hemisphere’s regular influenza season has begun and countries there are reporting that the new H1N1 virus is spreading and causing illness along with regular seasonal influenza viruses. In the United States, significant novel H1N1 illness has continued into the summer, with localized and in some cases intense outbreaks occurring. The United States continues to report the largest number of novel H1N1 cases of any country worldwide, however, most people who have become ill have recovered without requiring medical treatment.

“Given ongoing novel H1N1 activity to date, CDC anticipates that there will be more cases, more hospitalizations and more deaths associated with this pandemic in the United States over the summer and into the fall and winter. The novel H1N1 virus, in conjunction with regular seasonal influenza viruses, poses the potential to cause significant illness with associated hospitalizations and deaths during the U.S. influenza season.”




Military Shuts Out Scientists from Infra-Red Signatures on All Meteors Which Hit the Planet

6a00d8341bf7f753ef01157073ee13970c-320wiThe military has just decided to deny scientists data on incoming meteors in order to protect military secrets.  Anyone who can’t see any problems with this arrangement, well done on never having seen a movie -ever.  Oh, and get Michael Bay on the phone – we’ve got his next plot ready.

The Air Force’s Defense Support Program satellite network scans the globes for infra-red signatures (indicative of missile blasts and nuclear explosions) and incidentally picks up incredibly detailed information on all meteors which hit the planet.  Something the military didn’t think was particularly interesting.  They did at least send the occasional update to the Earth-watching scientific community, scraps of data they didn’t need, but a recent announcement makes it clear that there will be no more.

The most likely reason is an upgrade to the satellite defense network, with the top brass believing that any risk of revealing the capabilities of the new system is unacceptable.  The worst thing is that it isn’t really secrecy that’s stopping the data transfer, but miserliness.  It’s the work of moments to boil out any unwanted information revealed by records of meteor strikes, but with their hundred-billion dollar budget the USAF just doesn’t see the point in hiring someone to do it.  That would be money with absolutely no ability to kill people, after all, and paltry little things like “using the most advanced satellite network in existence to further our understanding of the universe” isn’t going to blow anybody up either.

They’re literally throwing out incredible data because they can’t be bothered to keep it.  This is everything that’s wrong with human ambition right here.


First lady’s organic garden concerns chemical firms

(Personally, I think this is weak, growing a garden without (or as few) chemicals as possible is good in so many ways)

Michelle Obama planted an organic garden to promote fruits and vegetables as part of a healthy diet, but some chemical companies are worried it may plant a seed of doubt in consumers’ minds about conventionally grown crops.

“Fresh foods grown conventionally are wholesome and flavorful yet more economical,” the Mid America CropLife Association (MACA) wrote the first lady last month a few days after she and fifth-graders from a local elementary school planted the White House Kitchen Garden.


Crazy Idea: Obama Global Warming Plan Involves Cooling Air

WASHINGTON — The president’s new science adviser said Wednesday that global warming is so dire, the Obama administration is discussing radical technologies to cool Earth’s air. John Holdren told The Associated Press in his first interview since being confirmed last month that the idea of geoengineering the climate is being discussed.

One such extreme option includes shooting pollution particles into the upper atmosphere to reflect the sun’s rays. Holdren said such an experimental measure would only be used as a last resort.

“It’s got to be looked at,” he said. “We don’t have the luxury of taking any approach off the table.”

Holdren outlined several “tipping points” involving global warming that could be fast approaching. Once such milestones are reached, such as complete loss of summer sea ice in the Arctic, it increases chances of “really intolerable consequences,” he said.

Twice in a half-hour interview, Holdren compared global warming to being “in a car with bad brakes driving toward a cliff in the fog.”

At first, Holdren characterized the potential need to technologically tinker with the climate as just his personal view. However, he went on to say he has raised it in administration discussions.


Danes Get Ready to Tax Cow Farts

denmark-reveres-cows-not-cow-fartswow,  just wow.

Denmark’s Tax Commission is considering putting a tax on farmers’ greenhouse gas emissions, which they reckon to be approximately 4 tons per cow per year (that’s more than an average passenger car, which they say emits approximately 2.7 tons). What’s a poor farmer to do?

Arla Foods, a huge dairy products company in Denmark and Sweden, has reckoned that a farmer with 120 cows would be looking at approximately 100,000 Danish crowns (US$17,000) in taxes from greenhouse gas emissions each year if the tax, which is part of a new tax package the government is working on, becomes reality. Farmers are said to suffer 16 times more than other industries from the new tax ideas, which also include taxing nitrogen emissions.