Archive for April 17, 2008

Flu Viruses Take 1-way Ticket Out of Asia

Seasonal influenza strains constantly evolve in overlapping epidemics in Asia and sweep the rest of the world each year, according to an international research team publishing in the 18 April issue of the journal Science.

The findings suggest that by focusing surveillance efforts on East and Southeast Asia, researchers may be able to extend their forecast of the flu strains most likely to cause epidemics, which may in turn help experts decide which strains should go in the flu vaccine each year.

“The flu virus is constantly mutating, so it’s a major challenge for public health as well as a fascinating example of evolution in action. This study advances our knowledge of how new flu strains spread across the globe and how epidemics arise,” said Katrina Kelner, Science’s deputy managing editor, life sciences.

Read the rest here:

Well, we’ve long suspected that Asia is the breeding ground for flu virus mutations. Now we know for sure.


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Female Corrections Officer Beaten and Raped by Inmate at Duval County Jail

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A female corrections officer was beaten and raped Thursday morning by an inmate in the law library on the fifth floor of the Duval County jail, Sheriff John Rutherford announced.

The veteran officer was beaten, threatened and “viciously sexually assaulted” by Jonathan Tave, who was in jail awaiting trial for a 2005 homicide, according to the sheriff’s office.

“He armed himself with some type of shank and used that to overcome the officer and then sexually batter her,” Rutherford said. “She was punched and beaten, as well as (the prisoner) using the shank.

Although the inmate had a shank — a makeshift knife — Rutherford said she was not stabbed.

Tave, 26, is described as 6 feet 3 inches tall and weighing 230 pounds. He was taken into custody without resistance after the incident.

The victim, a 29-year veteran of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, was transported to a local hospital for treatment. Authorities said her injuries were serious, but not life-threatening.

Rutherford said the victim worked in the library and regularly assisted prisoners with legal research. She carried standard correctional officer equipment — pepper spray, handcuffs and a radio.

“I think this is an indication of the type of people we house in our pre-trial detention facility, and the kind of danger our corrections officers, men and women, face every day,” Rutherford said.

Tave was awaiting trial on charges of murder, premeditated murder, arson, armed robbery, possession of a firearm by convicted felon, and battery on detention officer. He will now face additional charges.

Rutherford said they were shocked by the violence of the attack and would examine policy, but his first impression was that no procedures were violated.

Source: News4Jax

At this point, details are rather vague. What we know is that the perp was a very, VERY bad young man, as well as a very large and strong young man. When he gets to court, nothing he could do to the corrections officer would make his eventual sentence more severe as he is already facing life in prison or the death penalty, so he has little to lose from an assault/rape charge.

From the news reports, there appears to be very little hands on escorting of the prisoner(s), relying on remote monitoring, electronic door locks, etc. However, the law library where the corrections paralegal/officer worked was (per news report) not monitored.

I’d be as outraged if a grandfather had been severely beaten and raped as a grandmother under these circumstances; I believe that somebody with a past that bad and with such serious charges against him should not have been allowed free access to the law library in an unmonitored situation where only one unarmed paralegal/guard was on duty that had been a corrections officer longer than the perp had been alive and was presumably much weaker than the perp.

Additional information here:

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University of Miami Goal: Use Autologous Stem Cells to Mend Damaged Heart

Doctors at the University of Miami Medical School are experimenting with a radical new way of treating congestive heart failure that they hope can eventually replace heart transplants.

UM doctors have operated on the initial patient in a first-of-its kind study to determine whether adult stem cells taken from one’s own bone marrow and injected directly into the heart can grow into healthy tissue and repair the damaged organ.

If the experiment works, it could bring a new course of treatment for the five million Americans affected by heart failure, which happens when the heart can’t pump enough blood to the rest of the body.

”We’re very optimistic,” said Dr. Joshua Hare, the study’s principal investigator and chief of the cardiovascular division at the medical school. The procedure worked well in earlier FDA-mandated animal trials, he said. “We had a very clear demonstration that it grows new heart tissue.”


Dr. Doris Taylor, director of the Center for Cardiovascular Repair at the University of Minnesota, who pioneered work in stem cell heart repair when she was at Duke University, praised the UM study’s aims and methods.

”Fifty percent of patients with heart failure die within five years,” she said. “We need new tools. This is an idea whose time has come.”

The procedure might be adapted for kidneys, pancreases, spinal cords, brain tissue and other organs, said Dr. Pascal Goldschmidt, dean of the UM Medical School. It could ease the number of cases in which patients die because there are too few transplantable organs to go around. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says 18 people die each day under these circumstances.

Experts outside UM say the idea is valid, but perfecting it will be a major challenge.

”We know the cells will survive in a Petri dish,” said Edward Morrisey, scientific director of the Institute for Regenerative Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. “The real key is, when you inject them into the heart, is the environment there conducive to creating new heart cells. They have a lot of things to try.”

Read the rest of the story here.

I’ve always been opposed to embryonic stem cell transplantation which I think could cause problems in the future. Fifty years into the future, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if we were able to grow new organs to replace those that are diseased or worn, making organ donors a curiosity of the past.

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Home is where again?

My mom and I saw my youngest brother off at the airport this morning. It had been a long time between visits (where does the time go?) and mom was very affected by her baby leaving.

“I told Steve that when Bob (stepdad, who has end-stage COPD) dies, I’m going to move up there near him.”

I looked over at her in surprise. “Uh, you HATE the cold and ice. You have Raynaud’s, and your hands and feet get all purply in the cold.”

“But I can’t stand the heat, either, anymore, and we have 9 months of it!”

“You can turn the A/C on and drive to the store in your car. You have more like 9 months of winter there. You really want to drive around in the ice and snow?”

“Well, I just can’t keep the place up. I might only have a couple of years left before it gets to be too much for me.”

“What’s to keep up? A coat of paint every couple of years? I can do that!” (If she would mention to me that she wanted it done, which she hasn’t.)

“There’s your middle brother, too. I don’t think he’ll ever have a place of his own. I can go up there, buy a place, and we’ll live together. It will give him a home.”

I was glad I wasn’t drinking anything so I didn’t snort it out my nose. My mom is a super Baptist. She prays loud and long at every meal. She has bible readings (aloud). The brother that she is concerned about, the one we (she and I) haven’t seen in years, is a genuinely nice and gentle guy. He’s a carpenter and (very accomplished) tattoo artist. He has friends in (very) low places. He is no stranger to illicit substances and is a practicing alcoholic. I love him to death, but……I just don’t see it happening. Oh, mercy. I’d kinda like to be there, though, when she prayed for the souls of him and all of his buddies. Road trip?

I suggested to her that maybe, just maybe, before she went and put the (paid for) house on the market, she might want to fly up in the winter and give it a trial run for a month or so. Just in case.

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Romney’s Top 10 Reasons He Dropped Out of Presidential Race

No. 10: There weren’t as many Osmonds as he thought.

No. 9: Got tired of the corkscrew landings of his campaign plane while under fire.

No. 8: As a lifelong hunter, I didn’t want to miss the start of varmint season.

No. 7: There wasn’t room for two Christian leaders in the presidential race.

No. 6: I was upset that no one bothered to search my passport files.

No. 5: I’d rather get fat, grow a beard and try for the Nobel prize.

No. 4: When my wife realized I couldn’t win the GOP nomination, my fundraising dried up.

No. 3: Got tired of wearing a dark suit and tie, and I wanted to kick back in a light colored suit and tie.

No. 2: I took a bad fall at a campaign rally and broke my hair.

And the No. 1 reason Romney dropped out: His campaign relied on a flawed campaign strategy that as Utah goes, so goes the nation.

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Forbes: Florida Cities Cleanest

The Sunshine State outshone all others in Forbes’ 2008 list of America’s Cleanest Cities, with the Tampa-St. Petersburg area coming in at No. 8 out of 49 U.S. metro areas with populations of more than 1 million. Miami took the top spot, with Orlando and Jacksonville not far behind.

So how did Florida get so many breaths of fresh air? Forbes’ report notes several factors:

The state Department of Environmental Protection has been taking steps to help power plants reduce harmful emissions. Tampa Electric Co., in particular, has been recognized for its efforts to reduce emissions.

The DEP also has focused on fighting direct and indirect pollution of public waters.

Then there’s Mother Nature, whose sea breezes have been known to blow away smog.

Corrie Benfield


Forbes based its rankings on a combination of these factors:

Air pollution and ozone levels for the metropolitan statistical area, provided by the American Lung Association.

The cities’ per-capita spending on Superfund site cleanup and solid-waste management.

Water cleanliness statistics compiled by the University of Cincinnati from local reports of EPA violations. The rankings were based on reports of bacteria, chlorine byproducts and chemicals, or metals in the drinking water.


1. Miami

2. Seattle

3. Jacksonville

4. Orlando

5. Portland, Ore.

6. San Francisco

7. Oklahoma City

8. Tampa-St. Petersburg

9. Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn.

10. San Jose-Sunnyvale, Calif.

Source: Tampa Bay Online

When I flew in and out of Jacksonville several years ago, we had to descend through a yellowish cloud of pollution. That pollution is no longer there. I suspect the paper mills closing had a lot to do with it. Former mayor Tommy Hazouri championed closing down the toll booths on the bridges, cutting idling engine time.

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Gorbachev Lectured at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino

The concert hall at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino this month features a boxing match with welterweight David Estrada, country singer Reba McEntire and rock star Carlos Santana.

But the 77-year-old Russian taking center stage Wednesday night doesn’t fight, sing, or play power chords.

He’s Mikhail Gorbachev. And he’s here to talk about “Peace in the 21st Century.”

So what would bring the former Soviet Union leader here for a speech only steps away from the casino’s strip of nightclubs and taverns?

Money, certainly. Gorbachev is a professional lecturer, whose speeches 10 years ago reportedly commanded $125,000 an hour. The cheapest seats at Hard Rock Live! go for $55.

Notoriety, no doubt. Gorbachev was the architect behind perestroika and glasnost, the landmark economic and political and reform policies that broke up the communist superpower in 1991.

One thing is certain: Gorbachev is popular among top Seminole tribal leaders.

”As the former leader of the Soviet Union, he’s been an enormous figure in the world. Mikhail Gorbachev is living history. Hosting him at the Seminole Hard Rock is quite an honor for us,” said Seminole Tribal Council representative Max Osceola in an e-mail response to The Miami Herald.

Gorbachev’s one-hour lecture will be held Wednesday night at Hard Rock Live! at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino near Hollywood, beginning at 7:30.

Ryan Rogers, spokesman for the Seminole Hard Rock, said the Seminole Tribe, owners of the casino, invited Gorbachev because his message of political reform, peace and environmentalism is popular among Seminole leaders. He wouldn’t disclose his speaking fee.

Since the former Soviet head of state isn’t an entertainer, Seminole officials looked beyond the traditional gambling populace for an audience by targeting chambers of commerce, professional associations and universities.

Rogers admits that the public’s response to Gorbachev’s appearance “has not been overwhelming.”

Robert Walker, CEO of the speaker’s bureau American Program Bureau, said the tribe has given 400 complimentary tickets to students at the University of Miami.

This isn’t the first time Gorbachev has lectured in a gambling locale, said Walker, who noted that Gorbachev once lectured (at) the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, where he was the featured speaker for a food retailers’ convention.

Source: Miami Herald

Well, more money to him. Personally, I don’t believe that there are many prospects for peace in the 21st century.

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