Boko Haram Falls Victim to a Food Crisis It Created

A village hosting internally displaced people in Mora, Cameroon, where Boko Haram fighters have conducted raids on livestock. The hunt for food appears to be pushing the militants deeper into Cameroon. Credit Tyler Hicks/The New York Times

Image: A village hosting internally displaced people in Mora, Cameroon, where Boko Haram fighters have conducted raids on livestock. The hunt for food appears to be pushing the militants deeper into Cameroon. Credit Tyler Hicks/The New York Times

nytimes.com - March 4th 2016 - Dionne Searcey

At first, the attack had all the hallmarks of a typical Boko Haram assault. Armed fighters stormed a town on the border with Nigeria, shooting every man they saw.

But this time, instead of burning homes and abducting hostages, the fighters gathered cows, goats and any kind of food they could round up, then fled with it all.

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Syria conflict: Massive power blackout across country

Government forces recently retook a power plant in Aleppo province from Islamic State militants.

Image: Government forces recently retook a power plant in Aleppo province from Islamic State militants.

BBC.com - March 3rd 2016

Syria has suffered a massive power blackout across the country due to "unknown reasons", state media said.

Officials were cited as saying power had been cut in all provinces and teams were trying to determine the cause.

The electricity ministry said power was being restored and service would resume by midnight (22:00 GMT), TV reported.

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House Committee Hearing on Zika Virus - Examining the U.S. Public Health Response to the Zika Virus

energycommerce.house.gov - March 2, 2016

The House Committee hearing on Zika virus - Examining the U.S. Public Health Response to the Zika Virus

The Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations held a hearing on Wednesday, March 2, 2016, at 10:15 a.m. in 2322 Rayburn House Office Building, entitled “Examining the U.S. Public Health Response to the Zika Virus.” The Subcommittee heard testimony on the spread of the Zika virus across the Americas, the potential link between Zika and other illnesses, including microcephaly and Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS), and the public health plan to respond to the virus both in the United States and internationally.

https://energycommerce.house.gov/hearings-and-votes/hearings/examining-us-public-health-response-zika-virus

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jtdWumDEx0U

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How People Learn to Become Resilient

Perception is key to resilience: Do you conceptualize an event as traumatic, or as a chance to learn and grow? CREDIT ILLUSTRATION BY GIZEM VURAL

Image: Perception is key to resilience: Do you conceptualize an event as traumatic, or as a chance to learn and grow? CREDIT ILLUSTRATION BY GIZEM VURAL

newyorker.com - February 11th 2016 - Maria Konnikova

Norman Garmezy, a developmental psychologist and clinician at the University of Minnesota, met thousands of children in his four decades of research. But one boy in particular stuck with him. He was nine years old, with an alcoholic mother and an absent father. 

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Scientists Find Zika Increases Risk of Rare Neurological Illness

           

Group Leader, Dr Masafumi Inoue of Agency for Science Technology and Research's (A*STAR) Experimental Therapeutics Centre shows a sample to be tested with the Zika virus diagnostic test kit at their laboratory in Singapore, February 10, 2016. REUTERS/EDGAR SU

CLICK HERE - STUDY - The Lancet - Guillain-Barré Syndrome outbreak associated with Zika virus infection in French Polynesia: a case-control study

reuters.com - by Kate Kelland - February 29, 2016

French scientists say they have proved a link between the Zika virus and a nerve syndrome called Guillain-Barre, suggesting countries hit by the Zika epidemic will see a rise in cases of the serious neurological condition.

Guillain-Barre (GBS) is a rare syndrome in which the body's immune system attacks part of the nervous system. . . .

. . . "The regions which are affected by the Zika virus epidemic are likely to see a significant increase in the number of patients with serious neurological complications, and when possible, should increase the capacity of health-care facilities to receive patients needing intensive care."

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Google Unveils Neural Network with “Superhuman” Ability to Determine the Location of Almost Any Image

           

Guessing the location of a randomly chosen Street View image is hard, even for well-traveled humans. But Google’s latest artificial-intelligence machine manages it with relative ease.

CLICK HERE - PlaNet - Photo Geolocation with Convolutional Neural Networks

CLICK HERE - GeoGuessr

technologyreview.com - by Emerging Technology from the arXiv - February 24, 2016

Here’s a tricky task. Pick a photograph from the Web at random. Now try to work out where it was taken using only the image itself. . . .

. . . Tobias Weyand, a computer vision specialist at Google, and a couple of pals . . . have trained a deep-learning machine to work out the location of almost any photo using only the pixels it contains.

Their new machine significantly outperforms humans and can even use a clever trick to determine the location of indoor images and pictures of specific things such as pets, food, and so on that have no location cues.

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Global Response to the Zika Virus - Dr. Gavin Macgregor-Skinner

c-span.org - host - Steve Scully - February 28, 2016

Dr. Gavin Macgregor-Skinner talked about the global response to the Zika virus outbreak and the public health risk posed by the virus.

http://www.c-span.org/video/?404988-5/washington-journal-dr-gavin-macgregorskinner-zika-virus-outbreak

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China's Mobile Payment Revolution Is Going to Africa

          

BLOOMBERG VIA GETTY IMAGES

huffingtonpost.com - by Claire van den Heever - February 26, 2016

CAPE TOWN, South Africa -- With the launch of Apple Pay in mainland China on Feb. 18, Apple has become the first foreign player to secure a place at the table for China's enormous mobile payment market. . . .

. . . Africa's largest lender by assets, Standard Bank, has opted for a more direct route: joining forces with WeChat to secure a piece of Africa's growing mobile payment market. The Standard Bank-backed WeChat Wallet was launched in November 2015 in the continent's most industrialized nation, South Africa, and gives users access to a variety of the Chinese version's most popular offerings, including peer-to-peer money transfers and in-app payments for taxis and other services.

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Building A More Resilient West Africa - How Open Innovation Can Help

         

Improving local health workers’ access to real-time health information will enable a faster and better response to global health threats. / Neil Brandvold, USAID

medium.com/usaid-2030 - by Ann Mei Chang - February 11, 2016

. . . The next generation of health information systems have to not only quickly and accurately deliver the necessary information to healthcare workers, but they need to be able to communicate with each other. The wide range of people involved in combating epidemics such as Ebola need to be able to efficiently and seamlessly share information to ensure coordinated responses and better resource distribution. . . .

. . . To get the conversation started, USAID put out a call for innovative concepts for improving interoperability within health information systems in the developing world. We gathered over 40 organizations for a three-day co-creation workshop in Washington, D.C. in November. Almost 100 experts — including donors, engineers, software developers and implementers in the field — arrived to co-design a solution. . . .

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Ebola Survivors Suffer Long-Term Consequences: Studies

          

Most people who survive an Ebola infection will have long-lasting health problems, say doctors from the US National Institutes of Health.

CLICK HERE - Press Release - American Academy of Neurology (AAN) - Most Ebola Survivors Examined in Study Experienced Brain Symptoms Six Months After Infection

CLICK HERE - Abstract - Survivors of Ebola Virus Disease Have Persistent Neurologic Deficits

nbcnews.com - by Maggie Fox - February 24, 2016

From headaches and memory loss to vision problems and infected semen, Ebola survivors are suffering serious, long-term effects from their battles with the deadly virus, new studies show.

The most high-profile patient may be Scottish nurse Pauline Cafferkey, who is back in a London hospital for the second time after her recovery from infection. But thousands of people in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone are also suffering, researchers say.

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The Link Between Zika and Climate Change

           

Miriam Araujo holds her son Lucas, who was born with microcephaly, in Sao Jose dos Cordeiros, Brazil.

Researchers are beginning to tease out the environmental factors that play a role in helping the virus to spread.

theatlantic.com - by Greg Mercer - February 24, 2016

Last year, a team of researchers made a surprising discovery: Aedis aegypti mosquitoes—the species that spreads West Nile Virus, dengue, chickungunya and, most recently, Zika—were living year-round in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Washington, D.C. In a paper published in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, the researchers wrote that the mosquitoes had been living in the area since at least 2011, biting and reproducing in the summer months and likely riding out the winter underground. Previously, scientists had believed that the mosquitoes couldn’t survive year-round anyplace north of South Carolina.

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Stillbirth offers another clue to possible damage from Zika

A 2-month old baby, born with microcephaly, is examined by a neurologist at the Pedro I hospital in Campina Grande, Brazil. Felipe Dana/AP

Image: A 2-month old baby, born with microcephaly, is examined by a neurologist at the Pedro I hospital in Campina Grande, Brazil. Felipe Dana/AP

statnews.com - February 25, 2016

A stillbirth in Brazil is offering another clue to possible health effects of the Zika virus, this time beyond the developing brain.

In addition to a devastating loss of brain tissue, this fetus also had another abnormality — severe swelling and fluid build-up in other parts of the body — that by itself can be life-threatening, researchers reported Thursday.

Researchers found the Zika virus in the fetus even though the mother didn’t report any symptoms of infection, according to the case report published in the journal PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases.

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Zika Virus Linked to Paralysis Disorder in U.S., CDC Says

          

Aedes mosquitoes can transmit Zika virus as well as dengue and other diseases. Now, the CDC says it may be connected to Guillain-Barré, a rare condition that can cause paralysis.  ISTOCKPHOTO

There are two cases of Guillain-Barré syndrome linked to Zika in the U.S., the CDC says

time.com - by Alexandra Sifferlin - February 18, 2016

Two confirmed cases of Guillain-Barré syndrome linked to the Zika virus have been reported in the U.S., health authorities told TIME on Thursday.

The link between Zika and the birth defect microcephaly has received much attention. But health experts are also concerned about the link between the virus and Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS), a condition where the immune system starts attacking the body’s nerves, which leads to weakness that can eventually result in temporary paralysis. In some cases, the disorder can interfere with breathing.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed to TIME that there have been two cases of GBS in the U.S. in people who also tested positive for Zika virus.

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Social Progress Index 2015

socialprogressimperative.org

CLICK HERE - Social Progress Index 2015 (158 page .PDF report)

MEASURING NATIONAL PROGRESS – To truly advance social progress, we must learn to measure it, comprehensively and rigorously. The Social Progress Index offers a rich framework for measuring the multiple dimensions of social progress, benchmarking success, and catalyzing greater human wellbeing. The 2015 version of the Social Progress Index has improved upon the 2014 version through generous feedback from many observers and covers an expanded number of countries with 52 indicators.

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CLICK HERE - Publications

http://www.socialprogressimperative.org

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Brazil’s Pre-Zika Microcephaly Cases

          

WIKIMEDIA, NASA

A review of four years’ worth of medical records finds far greater numbers of microcephaly cases from before the ongoing Zika virus epidemic than had been officially reported.

the-scientist.com - by Kerry Grens - February 10, 2016

In the past year, clinicians in Brazil have reported around 4,700 babies with suspected microcephaly, and reviews of 400 of the infants have confirmed the birth defect (another 700 suspected instances of microcephaly have been ruled out). The numbers are alarming to many clinicians in the South American nation. Some have questioned whether the cause of this increase in microcephaly is due to Zika virus—a hypothesis favored by many doctors and public health officials—other infections, or simply a catch-up in reporting.

To get a grasp on just how much the prevalence of microcephaly has changed recently, Sandra da Silva Mattos of the Círculo do Coração de Pernambuco and colleagues combed through the medical records of more than 16,000 babies. The infants were born between 2012 and 2015 at one of 21 medical centers in the state of Paraíba, which has been hard hit by Zika.

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