News From Around The Blogosphere 2.7.11

February 8, 2011

1. FBI investigating Scientology for human trafficking – A recent profile on ex-Scientologist and Oscar-winner Paul Haggis in the New Yorker also discussed an ongoing FBI investigation into the allegations of abuse by Scientology’s leader David Miscavige, and the enslavement of members of  the Sea Org:

The laws regarding trafficking were built largely around forced prostitution, but they also pertain to slave labor. Under federal law, slavery is defined, in part, by the use of coercion, torture, starvation, imprisonment, threats, and psychological abuse. The California penal code lists several indicators that someone may be a victim of human trafficking: signs of trauma or fatigue; being afraid or unable to talk, because of censorship by others or security measures that prevent communication with others; working in one place without the freedom to move about; owing a debt to one’s employer; and not having control over identification documents. Those conditions echo the testimony of many former Sea Org members…

And speaking of Scientology…

Tom Cruise

2. Is fictional Unitology in ‘Dead Space 2’ related to Scientology? – The videogame’s creative director says the similarities are just a coincidence, saying the inspiration came from Carl Sagan’s “The Demon-Haunted World”, but his dismissal seems less than convincing given the similarities.

3. One flu vaccine to rule them all? – Researchers may have found a universal flu vaccine to end all flu vaccines. Though it’s worth noting that the trial had only 22 subjects, but bigger studies are in progress.

4. That time of year again for another ‘invisibility cloak’ story – Every year there’s another story about an invisibility cloak on the way with the requisite reference to Harry Potter. Here’s the latest one about a cloak that hides objects, rather than people, and without the use of metamaterials.

5. 1 in 8 U.S. biology teachers are creationists– This is a shocking statistic. Roger Ebert had an appropriate response to this on Twitter, analogizing this to the hypothetical statistic of 1 in 8 math teachers believing 2+2=5.

6. Florida court sides against anti-vax mom in custody battle – This is great news to hear a court rule so decisively against a parent specifically because their anti-vaccine beliefs directly endanger that child’s life. Hopefully, this will help set a precedent in all U.S. courts.

Enhanced by Zemanta

News From Around The Blogosphere 1.23.11

January 23, 2011
Polio vaccination started 1957 in Sweden. The ...
Image via Wikipedia

1. Flu deaths in UK rise dramatically – Anti-vaxxers love to mock health concerns about flu, which they seem to think is no more dangerous than an hang nail. But I’d love to hear them tell the families of the 254 UK flu victims this flu season alone. The number came after the number of UK flu deaths more than doubled in just a one-week period. 195 of those deaths were confirmed to have been from the H1N1 strain and seven of the deaths were of children under the age of five.

We have incomplete information on vaccination status, but based on what is known so far, among 71 cases in which vaccination status was known, 83 percent had not received a flu shot this season.

Thanks Jenny McCarthy.

2. Should anti-vaxxers pay higher premiums? – I thought this was a particularly good idea from one physician. While it certainly won’t change the minds of the hardcore anti-vax fanatics who will likely just view it as part of the evil conspiracy, I do suspect that some people would be more inclined to get the vaccines to avoid paying more insurance premiums:

Refusing to vaccinate a child is dangerous not just for that child but for entire communities. It’s precisely this point a colleague of mine was considering when he had the idea that parents who refuse to vaccinate their kids should pay substantially higher health insurance premiums.

It makes sense. Insurance, after all, is just a pool of money into which we all pay. In determining how much we or our employers pay, risk is taken into account.

The perfect analogy is smoking. If you smoke — and want to turn your lungs black and spend a greater portion of that pot of money on your possible chronic lung disease or any cancers you’ll get — then you may have to pay more.

Why shouldn’t we impose the same logic on parents who refuse to vaccinate their children?

3. Georgia homeless shelter refuses service to gays – The horribly misnamed “House of Mercy” actually states flat-out that they will not provide services to gays because it goes against what the Bible says.

… Elder Bobby Harris, who directs House of Mercy… says that his organization simply cannot tolerate homosexuality in any capacity.

“That act is not tolerated here at all. Let me tell you one reason why: because of the bible, of course. And then we have little children,” Harris says. He then added that if a gay person wants to change their sexual orientation and turn their life over to religion, he would consider serving them.

… Harris told the local press that he would welcome “non-practicing gay people,” but even if the residents were to engage in sexual behavior on their own time off the premises, they would be rejected.

No word on whether they also deny service to the divorced, shellfish-eaters, those who work on Saturdays, or those who refuse to stone their own disobedient children  to death. This is why you don’t rely on religious organizations for charity work. They often tend to care more about Jesus than about actually providing the services they promise. This is just disgraceful.

4. Westboro Baptist Church to picket Kevin Smith’s latest film – According to Silent Bob himself, the WBC is coming to Sundance:

Those movie-crazy cine-nerds at the Westboro Baptist Church are coming to the Sundance Film Festival to protest Red State… presumably for being gay…

I wonder if they realize this will give the film much more attention and will dramatically increase people’s interest in seeing it.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Medical science vs. viruses

November 4, 2010

Well, the flu vaccine, like every other vaccine, has still not been linked to autism, but one thing it has been linked to is decreased risk of heart attacks.

Middle-aged and older adults who get the flu vaccine may be less likely to suffer a first-time heart attack in the following year than those who skip the shot, according to a study published Monday.

So yes, yet another great reason to get your flu shot. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Vaccines save lives. Deal with it.

Of course vaccines aren’t the only weapon against viruses. A new virus-killing technique is hitting the market in a few days, and researchers believe it can even defeat the common cold.

Any immunology textbook will tell you that once a virus enters a cell, the only way to knock that virus out is to kill the entire cell. But a new study from the Laboratory of Molecular Biology at Cambridge has shown a way to kill a virus from within the cell, leaving the virus defeated and the cell victorious and intact. This could be huge–not just a cure for the common cold, but for all kinds of other viruses as well.

Suck it, cold!

Enhanced by Zemanta

More bad news for anti-vaxxers

May 25, 2010

Anti-vaxxers beware! A universal flu vaccine is coming.

Researchers at Mount Sinai School of Medicine have developed a new influenza vaccine that brings science one step closer to a universal influenza vaccine that would eliminate the need for seasonal flu shots. The new findings can be found in the inaugural issue of mBio®, the first online, open-access journal published by the American Society for Microbiology.

I imagine the anti-vaxxers will have to pull an all-nighter to find a reason to oppose this. It’ll mean less vaccines for people and therefore Big Pharma producing a product that would mean people buying fewer vaccines–two things that squarely violate their narrative. Then again, they’ll probably insist that this is the vaccine that will ultimately kill us all.

And in other vaccine news, a new vaccine-scheduling study puts yet another nail in the coffin of the “too much too soon” claim anti-vaxxers are so fond of. Of course, they’ll deny this study just like they deny every other study.


News From Around The Blogosphere 3.10.10

March 11, 2010

1. I’ll have water on the rocks – Turns out we didn’t need to blow up the moon to find water because there was water in the rock samples we got decades ago the whole time:

The water levels detected in Apollo moon rocks and volcanic glasses are in the thousands of parts per million, at most—which explains why analyses of the samples in the late 1960s and early 1970s concluded that the moon was absolutely arid.

Oops!

2. Debunking creationists? Yeah, there’s an App for that – I blogged before about the The Counter-Creationism Handbook App but this one, Creationist Claims, is specifically for the iPhone.

3. Song For James Randi – Randi has now been immortalized in song, thanks to Tense Kids.

4. Human culture may have a powerful effect on evolution

Although it does shield people from other forces, culture itself seems to be a powerful force of natural selection. People adapt genetically to sustained cultural changes, like new diets. And this interaction works more quickly than other selective forces, “leading some practitioners to argue that gene-culture co-evolution could be the dominant mode of human evolution,” Kevin N. Laland and colleagues wrote in the February issue of Nature Reviews Genetics. Dr. Laland is an evolutionary biologist at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland.

5. New study furthers evidence of flu shot benefits

An unusual study done in 49 remote Hutterite farming colonies in western Canada has provided the surest proof yet that giving flu shots to schoolchildren protects a whole community from the disease.

Although previous studies have demonstrated what scientists call “herd immunity,” none have been so incontrovertible, because they were done in less isolated places with more sources of flu passing through. Also, only one other study, done 42 years ago, immunized over 80 percent of a community’s children, as this one did. Success repeated in many separate communities with very high vaccination rates implies that the shots themselves — rather than luck, viral mutations, hand-washing or any other factor — were the crucial protective element.

So will the anti-vaxxers come around? Of course not. They’ll be throwing every excuse possible to reject this study and slander those who conducted it, the journalist who wrote the article, and the NY Times itself.

And speaking of the flu. . .

6. Stephen Novella gives an update on the H1N1 flu – Just because the media stopped talking about it, it doesn’t mean H1N1 didn’t have serious consequences. Fortunately, despite the massive anti-vaccine campaign against the vaccine, many Americans actually did get the vaccine and the seasonal flu vaccine, leading to a solid victory for medicine. While the numbers of those infected and who died of H1N1 were a bit high, the seasonal flu ended up doing far less damage than usual. Of course once again the success of vaccines will be exploited by the deniers who regarded the hype surrounding H1N1 as nothing but fear-mongering to get people to get the poisonous vaccines. But at least they can’t point to many cases of vaccine injury either, so it kinda evens out in the end anyway with fewer deaths than we feared, making it a cause to celebrate.

7. Another pharmacist refuses to do her job for her religion

Janine Deeley, 38, thought the woman was joking when she took her on one side and said : “I don’t give out contraceptive pills because of my religion.”

The mother of two teenage daughters, from Wybourn , Sheffield, said : “I couldn’t believe the arrogance of the woman . Who is she to refuse to give me properly prescribed legal drugs?

“The irony is that one reason why I am prescribed the pill is because I suffer from endometriosis which causes painful periods.

I don’t know if that counts as irony but misappropriates of words aside, this is ridiculous. If your religion prevents you from doing your job, get another job. It’s that fucking simple!


News From Around The Blogosphere 10.30.09

October 30, 2009

Fuck you!

1. Samali officials arrest and publicly whip woman for wearing a bra

They announced clearly that wearing these bras was unIslamic because it is a form of fraud and deception.

2. The Fourth Kind:  based on a true story? – At least that’s what filmmakers would have us believe. It seems as though the “true story” the film is allegedly based on is probably not even based on a real account but more likely was just extra content created for an internet viral marketing campaign.

3. Maine voters, on Tuesday Vote NO on 1 – This is Maine’s version of Prop 8 to stop marriage equality.

4. Antioxidants may be the key to defeating all strains of flu – Suck it, Mercola!

5. Iraqi man who ran down daugher is caught – I blogged about this story last week. Glad to hear this douchebag, Faleh Hassan Almaleki, was caught.

6. Pat Robertson’s warning us about the demons in our Holloween candy – No, seriously. He really is and he’s not kidding.


Science versus The Flu

February 28, 2009

I’m putting my money on Science:

The discovery of the molecule, an antibody known as CR6261, is good news for researchers who hope to design a flu vaccine that would give humans lifelong protection against a majority of influenza viruses. The antibody also has the potential to treat those who are unvaccinated and become infected with the flu.

Of course we can expect the conspiracy nuts to insist this is part of an evil plot by the New World Order to wipe out 90% of all life on earth or some crap like that.