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Dr. Broderick’s Ebola Theory under the Microscope: No Germ of Truth

first_imgDr. Cyril Broderick’s conspiracy theory about the origin of the Ebola Virus Disease cannot be substantiated.  His sources failed to corroborate his sweeping conclusion that “Ebola is a genetically modified organism” (GMO) invented by Western powers.  Yet, Dr. Broderick’s hypothesis is alluring mainly because it evokes the specter of past unethical uses of science, such as the notorious 1932-1972 Tuskegee syphilis experiment.  In that experiment, the United States government deliberately withheld syphilis treatment from unsuspecting African Americans.  Dr. Broderick’s Ebola conspiracy may stir memories of Tuskegee, especially, since President Bill Clinton’s public apology of 1997 acknowledged that “what the United States government did was shameful.”  Still, Dr. Broderick’s conspiracy theory must be evaluated solely on the evidence he presents.  I have analyzed each of the five points he put forward in support of his argument.    First Point: “Ebola is a Genetically Modified Organism (GMO).”  His source is “Emerging Viruses” by Leonard Horowitz.  The following is essentially all that Dr. Broderick presents from the 100-plus page book in defense of his highly controversial claim: “In Chapter 7 . . . the discussion made it obvious that the war was between countries that hosted the KGB and the CIA, and the manufacture of AIDS-like viruses was clearly directed at the other.  In passing during the interview, mention was made of Fort Detrick, the Ebola Building, and a lot of problems of strange illnesses in Fredrick [Maryland].  By Chapter 12 . . . he had confirmed the existence of an American Military-Medical-Industry that conducts biological weapons tests under the guise . . . to . . . improve the health of black Africans overseas.” After reading the 1995 # 1 New York Times Bestseller, The Hot Zone (cited next by Dr. Broderick) it became clear that the places Dr. Broderick mentions above were connected to a 1990 near biological disaster in the United States.  That event made national headlines, and involved research in deadly diseases and apparently bioweapons at the United States Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick in Frederick, Maryland; this must be Dr. Broderick’s so-called “Ebola Building.”  Virologists at USAMRIID discovered a “strange illness” and raised alarm when they realized that the unidentified illness had infected several persons.  Investigations further revealed that the infected people had contact with monkeys imported from the Philippines by a private company in Reston, Virginia.  It was later determined that the infection was a new strain of the Ebola virus and was subsequently named Ebola Reston.  Though Ebola Reston was fatal in the monkeys, it proved to be non-lethal in the infected people.  The other Ebola strains are Ebola Sudan and Ebola Zaire.  It is the latter, the deadliest, that is currently killing Liberians (as well as Guineans and Sierra Leoneans).  Dr. Broderick clearly failed to prove his provocative point that Ebola is a GMO. Second Point: “Ebola has a terrible history and testing has been secretly taking place in Africa.” Here, Dr. Broderick’s only source is the above-mentioned The Hot Zone.  But amazingly, he gives no citation from the 422-page book to back his argument.  Instead, Dr. Broderick writes the following:  “A terrifying true story . . . what was found in animals killed by the Ebola virus is what the virus has been doing to citizens of . . . Liberia in its most recent outbreak . . .. The 1976 Ebola incident in Zaire, during President Mobutu Sese Seko, was the introduction of the GMO Ebola to Africa.”There is no clear indication in The Hot Zone of clandestine Ebola experiments in Africa, the crux of Dr. Broderick’s second point.  What is rather straightforward is that following a number of outbreaks of new diseases in Africa (Ebola Zaire in 1976, for example) specimens were gathered and sent overseas.  Take as an example, Marburg virus.  This disease, though not as deadly as Ebola (Marburg kills 25% of its victim compared to 50%-90% for Ebola Zaire), also rapidly reduces body tissues to liquid, a process known as liquefaction.  When an unknown disease struck in Kenya in 1980, specimens from a victim were sent abroad.  Experiments later proved that the unknown infection was Marburg.  Earlier in the 1960s, this disease had been diagnosed in Marburg, Germany, in monkeys imported from Africa.Third Point: “Sites around Africa, and West Africa, have over the years been set up for testing emerging diseases, especially Ebola.”  Here too, Dr. Broderick’s presentation is dubious.  For instance, he cites one quotation in The Guardian: “The US government funding of Ebola trials on healthy humans comes amid warnings by top scientists in Harvard and Yale. . . .”  But so far, I have been unable to locate this source.  A well-known US-based conservative blog that has been similarly critical of Dr. Broderick’s article noted this about that quotation: “A routine Internet search finds no evidence that such a sentence was ever written in the pages of The Guardian.  A second reference by Dr. Broderick is likewise questionable.  Indeed, the latter source raises important questions about biological research by Western nations inside West Africa.  But it leaves these queries open, i.e., it provides no answers or evidence: e.g., “Is this purely defensive research? Or as we have seen in the past, is this research being covertly used to develop offensive bioweapons?” Dr. Broderick simply repeats the author’s insinuations.   Fourth and Final Point: Dr. Broderick’s last two points sound essentially like manifestos.  He calls for political and judicial actions against the perpetrators of “the detestable and devilish deeds” by repeating his allegations. The Ebola epidemic is giving rise to hysteria in the United States.  This in turn contributes to the negative image of Liberians and Africans.  Dr. Broderick’s unsubstantiated conspiracy theory feeds into this negative stereotype.  Hopefully, more fact-based exchanges will present a balanced and nuanced image of Liberia, and Africa at large.  Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

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Arsenal team news: Defensive woes continue ahead of Newcastle trip

first_img Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker 1 Arsenal’s defensive woes are unlikely to improve before this weekend’s trip to Newcastle.Laurent Koscielny will have a fitness test on his back today (Thursday), but Per Mertesacker is all but ruled out with illness.Manager Arsene Wenger said: “Mertesacker is still sick and Koscielny will have a test today on his back. Mert is less likely to be fit.”There is some good news for Gunners fans, with Danny Welbeck doing well on his road to recovery from a knee injury and and Jack Wilshere close behind him following his ankle problem.“Welbeck is progressing well and if all goes well he should be back after the international break,” Wenger said.“Wilshere will be back training a week after Welbeck.”last_img read more

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Man Utd draw ‘as bad as it gets’ – Moyes

first_imgManchester United boss David Moyes was bitterly disappointed after Fulham denied his side victory at Old Trafford.Two late goals in as many minutes appeared to give United all three points but Darren Bent scored deep into injury time to snatch a draw for the Whites.It continued United’s woes under Moyes, who admitted: “Today was as bad as it gets. How we didn’t win I have no idea.“We dominated the game and being one down was bad enough. The amount of attempts, chances and play we had was unbelievable.“We should have scored more. You’ve got to try and keep making it work.”More reaction to follow later. Follow West London Sport on TwitterFind us on Facebooklast_img read more

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Youth month marked in SA

first_imgSam Nzima’s famous June 16 1976photograph of Mbuyisa Makhubo carryingHector Pieterson, with Hector’s sisterAntoinette running alongside.(Image courtesy of www.soweto.co.za)Khanyi MagubaneIn South Africa June is known as “youth month” in commemoration of the June 16 1976 youth uprisings in Soweto, Johannesburg. This year marks the 32nd anniversary of the event and various activities will take place under the theme “entrenching our democracy: all youth to the polls”.“June is a time when we focus our attention on taking stock of the progress we have made and rededicate our energies to tackling the complex and challenging issue of promoting the development of young people,” said Barbara Creecy of the Gauteng province’s arts and culture office at the launch of youth month.“It is also a time when we remember and pay tribute to the important role young people have played in the struggle for our democracy.”On that fateful day in June 1976 thousands of schoolchildren took to the streets to protest against Afrikaans being used as the medium of instruction in schools. The peaceful march turned violent when apartheid police attacked the students, firing teargas and live ammunition.The first fatal victim of that march was the young Hector Pieterson. Photographer Sam Nzima’s famous image of his blood-soaked body being carried by Mbuyisa Makhubo, while Hector’s sister Antoinette Sithole ran alongside, caught the attention of the world.According to the June 16 1976 Foundation, about 23 students were killed that day. News of the senseless killing of the students sparked retaliatory action from residents in the township, and the foundation quotes a figure of about 200 people who died that day.The brave action of the students, which sparked the countrywide protests that marked the beginning of the end of apartheid, prompted the democratic government to etch the date in the country’s history in the most significant way. What was once known as “June 16 day”, was later renamed “youth day”.Month-long activitiesAnd the “day” has been spread over a month with various activities aimed at the youth planned, including a three-day National Youth Festival in Cape Town from 14-16 June. Hosted by the National Youth Commission (NYC), the festival will consist of a number of development-based activities.The NYC, in partnership with the Flemish government, will launch the “Batsha/Jeugd Project” aimed at increasing the capacity of four community centres around the Cape Town area. The resources of the community centres will be beefed up to facilitate youth development.The University of the Western Cape has also been roped in to help provide information hubs. Each hub will host about 1 000 learners and youth from surrounding communities. Activities include career guidance workshops and exhibitions.The different hubs hosting the young people will include a youth and economic participation hosted by the department of trade and industry, youth and education hosted by the department of education, and the youth lifestyle corner hosted by the health department. This will all culminate on June 16 when the main festival event takes place. This will include speeches from officials as well as entertainment.Youth in miningThis year, government programmes aimed at the youth have included setting up structures to incorporate the youth into the country’s mining sector.Mining is one of South Africa’s most lucrative industries, contributing 5.8 % of the country’s gross domestic product for 2007. South Africa mines several minerals and precious metals including coal, gold and platinum.An Australian mining company, Coal for Africa, which has acquired rights from a local clan to mine coal in the area, is to invest R10 million (US$1.27 million) in scholarships annually for pupils in the Limpopo province.“Our main concern so far is the lack of skills among local people when it comes to the mining industry,” said Coal for Africa chairperson Sam Farrell. “South Africa has serious skills shortages in the fields of engineering and we are forced to import skills from other countries. This has to change.” The scholarships will be available to high school seniors who are interested in mining.The two collieries are expected to begin operating by June next year and Farrell said the company hoped to expand to other parts of South Africa and Zimbabwe.Mining magnate Patrice Motsepe is also in the process of putting together a new project that is set to benefit young people who are interested in the country’s mining sector. Motsepe is planning on partnering with US hip-hop star and business entrepreneur Curtis James Jackson, popularly known in the entertainment industry as “50 cent”.Motsepe is eager to set up a deal involving the rap star, who has spoken of his interest in getting involved in the mining industry. In May, Jackson was in South Africa to perform at a number of concerts and Motsepe took the opportunity to wine and dine the musician.The two men visited several mines in Mpumalanga, where they had talks with chiefs from the local villages, who hold an interest in some of the company’s operations. The US rapper also had the rare chance to go down a mineshaft at the Two Rivers Platinum mine in Mpumalanga.A youth mining indaba conference was held in Limpopo province, north of South Africa, in March 2008. Limpopo has a rich mining industry, with the world’s largest reserves of platinum group metals found in that province. These include rich deposits of chrome, vanadium, nickel and titanium.Addressing delegates at the indaba, Seaparo Sekoati, the province’s parliamentary representative, said it is important for a path to be created to facilitate the participation of young people in the mining industry’s value chain. “This may not necessarily mean that you own the mines yourselves, but that you find ways of adding value to the industry as either partners or suppliers of goods and services to the mines,” he said. “Learnerships and internship … are also a critical area in which young people can derive benefit from their strategic relations with the mines.”In Mpumalanga province, the youth have been encouraged to seize the opportunities available to them. Fish Mahlalela, from the province’s health and social services office, urged the youth to take up opportunities within the department. Referring to the many opportunities provided by government, Mahlalela announced, his department had intentions to award 320 bursaries to youth in the province to study in the areas of community development and social work.Thirty youths from the province are also currently in Cuba studying medicine as part of an agreement between the governments of Cuba and South Africa. Another 625 students have also been subsidised to study health-related courses at various universities in the country.Useful linksNational Youth CommissionJune 16 1976 FoundationSouth African History OnlineGovernment Communication and Information SystemMpumalanga Limpopo Do you have any queries or comments about this article? Email Khanyi Magubane at [email protected]last_img read more

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PPC in R2.7bn empowerment deal

first_img28 August 2008South African cement manufacturer PPC has unveiled a broad-based black economic empowerment transaction that will see a 15% stake in the company, presently valued at R2.7-billion, being transferred to a broad range of black shareholders.Those who stand to benefit from the transaction include company employees, an educational trust, a construction industry association trust, two community service groups, and strategic black partners.“Today heralds a significant achievement by the company as it reaches a key empowerment objective at the equity level,” PPC chief executive John Gomersall said in a statement this week.“We set out to ensure that the structure of the deal was as broad-based as possible, benefiting mainly black South African stakeholders.”Education and trainingA Construction Industry Associations Trust has been established to benefit existing and new black construction industry and related associations. The income of the trust will be allocated to specific projects which benefit previously disadvantaged individuals who are members of these associations.Furthermore, an external trust has been established to develop skills and provide benefits to primarily black individuals with educational and skills needs in the cement, lime and aggregates manufacturing, mining, construction and related industries.PPC internal trusts for employees, black managers and a small allocation to non-executive directors will be created to reward them for their years of creating value for the shareholders. Another internal trust will be established to provide benefits to the families of PPC employees.“At least 85% of the benefits from both external and internal trusts will be allocated to black people,” the statement read.Community serviceThe two community services groups taking part in the transaction are the Shalamuka Foundation and the Disability Empowerment Concerns Trust, who have together contributed R5.4-million of their own equity.The Shalamuka Foundation was formed in 2006 to raise long-term sustainable funding for the highly regarded Penreach programme, which provides teacher skills workshops to about 2 200 school teachers in 900 schools.The Disability Empowerment Concerns Trust was established in 1996 by organisations representing people with disabilities. Their activities touch over 2-million people of whom more than 85% are black.Adding valueThe four strategic black partners taking part in the transaction are Nozala, Peu, the iLima Portland Consortium and the Capital Edge Cement Consortium.“The strategic black partners were chosen because of their experience and involvement in the wider construction and mining arena and their ability to add value to PPC,” the statement read. “Most of them have broad-based black components such as ‘black women’ and ‘youth’ among their stakeholders.”According to the statement, PPC’s objective in pursuing the transaction is to ensure that its South African businesses achieve a Level 4 empowerment rating in terms of the BBBEE Codes of Best Practice by 2009.“Empowerment and transformation is at the heart of PPC and this is a significant stride towards broad-based equity ownership,” said Gomersall. “Today is not the end of a process but the dawn of a new chapter in PPC’s 116 year history.”This transaction is subject to the approval of shareholders at a general and a scheme meeting anticipated to be held on 11 November, while the effective date of the BEE transaction is expected to be on or about 15 December.SAinfo reporter Would you like to use this article in your publicationor on your website?See: Using SAinfo materiallast_img read more

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Neutral report from USDA

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest By Doug Tenney, Leist MercantileToday’s USDA report in typical fashion has been a pretty typical report for the month of December. It is being called a neutral report with very small changes in ending stocks. Corn ending stocks went up 45 million bushels, soybean ending stocks unchanged at 955 million bushels, and wheat ending stocks were up 25 million bushels.Production and yields do not change with the December report. The market continues to glean for further details on how and when China comes back to the U.S. with their buying shoes on. Prior to the report, corn, soybeans, and wheat were each down one cent. Just following the report corn was unchanged, soybeans up one cent, and wheat was down 2 cents.The January report will detail final yields and production for corn and soybeans. It will also have U.S. grain stocks as of Dec. 1, 2018.last_img read more

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We Need Green People to Make Green Buildings Work

first_imgA recent New York Times article about the US Department of Energy (DOE) underscores a major problem we have in reducing energy usage. An audit of DOE buildings determined that the agency could save over $11.5 million annually by properly using setback controls on evenings and weekends. Out of 55 buildings surveyed, 35 either did not have or did not properly use setback thermostats.Based on my personal observation, wasted energy is common in commercial buildings, most often when air conditioning is set at frigid levels, requiring workers to wear jackets and even use electric heaters to stay comfortable. It seems to me that a modest amount of thoughtful building management could save enormous amounts of energy, if we only had the will to do it.Homes are a problem, tooResidentially, we see much of the same wasteful behavior. Many homeowners do not know how to or simply don’t bother to program setback thermostats. On top of this, they leave lights and computers on when not in use, and, my personal favorite, ceiling fans activated when no one is in the room to be cooled by them. Most people don’t realize that ceiling fans provide convective cooling–they make you feel cooler when air blows directly on the skin. If you aren’t sitting underneath it, it serves no purpose. Fan motors also generate heat, warming the room slightly when they’re running. It makes me crazy to see fans running on front porches all day long with no one anywhere near them.We have become a lazy and wasteful society. We get our power from wall outlets, and regardless of what we pay for it, the supply is endless, so we neither worry about it nor make conserve it. I know people who keep their heat and air conditioning on with their windows and doors open!What will it take to make us change?I have written before about energy monitoring devices, both simple and complex, cheap and expensive, that provide usage feedback, and the fact that they can help change behavior. While useful, such products just scratch the surface of behavior modification. Not only do we need to teach people how to properly manage and maintain their homes for maximum performance, we need to change their behavior enough so that they actually do the things they need to do to conserve more. Simple things, like opening and closing windows and doors to keep heat in or out, or even opening and closing blinds to control the sun’s heat, seem to be beyond the will of most homeowners. Most of us turn on heat in the winter and air conditioning in the summer without giving any thought to the cost and environmental impact of our actions.I would really like to know what keeps us from taking simple actions that can have a big impact. Is it laziness, ignorance, or a combination? As industry professionals, we must take the time to educate our clients about how to manage their homes. But what will motivate people to change their behavior enough to make a real difference? I wish I knew.last_img read more

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