This person does science, reads a lot, and is content.
Last January Salma Jaffar was shot while she was going door-to-door in Karachi, giving children drops of the polio vaccine.
"Even when they took out the pistol, I couldn’t understand why he was taking out the gun," Jaffar says of the two men who pulled up on a motorcycle and started shooting at the vaccination team.
"But when he opened fire, that is when I thought it was the end of the life," she says. "My first thought was that I won’t be able to see my children again."
Jaffar was shot four times: twice in her arm and twice in her chest. She spent the next three weeks in an intensive care unit.
Three of her colleagues weren’t as fortunate and died in the attack. They are among the more than 60 polio workers who have been killed since the Pakistani Taliban banned polio immunization in 2012.
Today the militant group continues to threaten to kill not only vaccinators, but also parents who get their children immunized. That threat has had a chilling effect on anti-polio efforts nationwide. And it completely halted vaccination drives in some Taliban-controlled areas. It’s in these places that the crippling virus has come roaring back — and threatened to stymie global efforts to wipe out polio.
The worldwide campaign to eradicate polio has been going on for more than two decades. It has cost more than $10 billion. Now the success of the campaign hinges on whether Pakistan can control the virus.
At its peak in the 1950s, polio paralyzed about 350,000 people a year around the world. This year, so far, there have been only 128 cases recorded. Ninety-nine of them have been in Pakistan. And the South Asian nation is the only country in the world where the number of polio cases is rising significantly.
Photo: A health worker gives a child the polio vaccine in Bannu, Pakistan, June 25. More than a quarter million children in Taliban-controlled areas are likely to miss their immunizations. (A Majeed/AFP/Getty Images)
Gaza ceasefire reveals full extent of Israeli destruction
July 26, 2014
Thousands of people in Gaza have ventured out from homes and shelters during a 12-hour ceasefire to find that whole streets and neighbourhoods have been destroyed in the last week.
Israel and Hamas both agreed to a UN request to stop fighting from 8am until 8pm on Saturday. Shortly before the ceasefire took effect, at least 18 members of the al-Najar family, including many children, were killed in an air strike on Khan Younis, in the south of the Gaza Strip. The family had recently gone there to escape fighting in a nearby village, a Palestinian health official said.
As the Palestinian death toll in the 19-day-long conflict topped 1,000, diplomatic efforts to forge a longer ceasefire continued in Paris. Foreign ministers from seven nations – the US, France, Britain, Italy, Germany, Turkey and Qatar – called for an extension of Saturday’s 12-hour humanitarian truce.
The group had convened, along with a senior EU representative, at the request of the US secretary of state, John Kerry, who failed to win Israeli or Hamas backing for a week-long truce on Friday. There were no envoys from Israel, Egypt or the Palestinian Authority.
"All of us call on the parties to extend the humanitarian ceasefire that is currently under way," the French foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, said.
n Gaza, scenes of devastation were discovered by those who returned to areas which had been the centre of particularly intense fighting, such as Shujai’iya, Beit Hanoun and around Khan Younis. Scores of homes were pulverised, roads were blocked with wreckage, and power cables dangled in the streets.
Many of those attempting to check the condition of their homes, retrieve possessions and, in some cases, search for the bodies of relatives seemed dazed by what they found. Some who had not seen each other for days embraced as they surveyed the wreckage around them. Ambulances with wailing sirens and donkey carts loaded with mattresses and pots clogged the streets.
In other areas, Palestinians rushed to stock up with food and essentials, and get cash from banks and ATMs, ahead of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr, which starts on Monday.
In Beit Hanoun, close to the border, Israeli tanks stood by as people searched through the debris for their belongings, packing whatever they could – blankets, furniture and clothes – into taxis, trucks, rickshaws and carts before fleeing the town.
Siham Kafarneh, 37, sat weeping on the steps of a small grocery store. The mother of eight said the home she had spent 10 years saving up for and moved into two months earlier had been destroyed. “Nothing is left. Everything I have is gone,” she said.
Some people were defiant. One woman pulled a black-and-white Palestinian scarf from the rubble, shouting: “They won’t take away our pride. We’ll wear this to Jerusalem and the day of victory is close.”
Others were resigned. Zaki al-Masri noted quietly that both his house and that of his son had been destroyed. “The Israelis will withdraw, tomorrow or the day after, and we’ll be left in this awful situation as usual.”
At the nearby hospital, six patients and 33 medical staff had spent the night huddled in the X-ray department as the neighbourhood was shelled, said the director, Bassam Abu Warda. A tank shell had hit the second floor of the building, leaving a gaping hole, and the facade was peppered with holes from large-calibre bullets.
Two Red Crescent ambulances were hit in Beit Hanoun overnight, killing a medic and wounding three, one critically, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross. On Saturday, rescue workers pulled the scorched body of the medic from the wrecked vehicle, which had been hit about 200 metres from the hospital.
"Targeting ambulances, hospitals and medical workers is a serious violation of the law of war," said Jacques de Maio, head of the ICRC delegation for Israel and the occupied territories.
In areas that had seen intense fighting, 85 bodies were pulled from the rubble, many of them partially decomposed, said Palestinian health official Ashraf al-Kidra. Fighters were also among the dead, said the Gaza Civil Defence spokesman Said al-Saoudi.
Speaking in Cairo on Friday, Kerry said he was confident there was a framework for a ceasefire agreement that would ultimately succeed and that “serious progress” had been made, although there was more work to do.
Kerry, who, along with UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon, has been leading international efforts to reach a truce, has been in regular contact with the foreign ministers of Turkey and Qatar as both countries wield influence on Hamas.
Israel’s defence minister, Moshe Ya’alon, said on Friday that the military offensive could expand in the coming days. “At the end of the operation, Hamas will have to think very hard if it is worth it to taunt us in the future.”
Israeli troops have so far uncovered 31 tunnels in Gaza and destroyed half of them. Israel considers the tunnels to be a strategic threat because militants have used them to launch surprise attacks inside the country.
The Israeli government has also begun suggesting that Gaza be demilitarised as a condition for a permanent ceasefire so that Hamas cannot rearm itself. The current war is the third in Gaza in just over five years.
Hamas says it will not halt its rocket until it receives international assurances that Gaza’s seven-year-old border blockade will be lifted. Israel and Egypt tightened the blockade after Hamas seized Gaza in 2007.
The violence spread to the West Bank and East Jerusalem late this week. Nine Palestinians have been killed as protests over the bloodshed in Gaza have erupted into clashes with Israeli security forces. Hundreds more have been wounded, many with gunshot injuries.
On Thursday night, 10,000 demonstrators marched in solidarity with Gaza near the Palestinian administrative capital of Ramallah. Protesters surged against an Israeli army checkpoint, throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails.
The Palestine Liberation Organisation called for more demonstrations in the West Bank but said it was helping to try to secure a ceasefire deal.
As well as more than 1,000 dead in Gaza, at least 6,000 people have been injured. The UN said more than 160,000 people had sought shelter in its buildings, and thousands more had fled their homes to stay with relatives and friends in what are thought to be safer areas.
The Israel Defence Forces said 40 soldiers had been killed in the conflict. Three Israeli civilians have also died in rocket attacks.
Who Were the Ancient Bog Mummies? Surprising New Clues
Ongoing research suggests at least two 2,000-year-old corpses had traveled before their deaths.
PUBLISHED JULY 18, 2014
Cast into northern European wetlands, bog bodies have long appeared as opaque to archaeologists as their dark and watery graves. But new clues are coming in the centuries-old mystery of their origins.
Over 500 Iron Age bog bodies and skeletons dating to between 800 B.C. and A.D. 200 have been discovered in Denmark alone, with more unearthed in Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and Ireland. (Read “Tales From the Bog” in National Geographic magazine.)
Much of the bodies’ skin, hair, clothes, and stomach contents have been remarkably well preserved, thanks to the acidic, oxygen-poor conditions of peat bogs, which are made up of accumulated layers of dead moss.
Tollund Man, for example, found in 1950 on Denmark’s Jutland Peninsula and perhaps the most famous bog body in the world, still “has this three-day beard—you feel he will open his eyes and talk to you. It’s something that not even Tutankhamun could make you feel,” said Karin Margarita Frei, a research scientist who studies bog bodies at the National Museum of Denmark.
In Denmark, about 30 of these naturally mummified corpses are housed in museums, where scientists have worked for decades to figure out who these people were and why they died.
Because some bear horrific wounds, such as slashed throats, and were buried instead of cremated like most others in their communities, scientists have suggested the bodies had been sacrificed as criminals, slaves, or simply commoners. The Roman historian Tacitus started this idea in the first century A.D. by suggesting they were deserters and criminals. (See National Geographic’s pictures of bog bodies.)
But ongoing research is uncovering an entirely new dimension: When alive, these people of the bog may have instead been special members of their villages, which in the early Iron Age were loosely scattered across Denmark.
New chemical analyses applied to two of the Danish bog bodies,Huldremose Woman and Haraldskær Woman, show that they had traveled long distances before their deaths. What’s more, some of their clothing had been made in foreign lands and was more elaborate than previously thought.
"You sacrifice something that is meaningful and has a lot of value. So maybe people who [had] traveled had a lot of value," Frei told National Geographic at the Euroscience Open Forum in Copenhagen in June.
For Europeans dating as far back as the Neolithic period 6,000 years ago, bogs were both resources and possibly ominous supernatural portals, according to Ulla Mannering, an expert in ancient textiles at the National Museum of Denmark.
The bogs’ peat, which could be burned for heating homes, was valuable in tree-scarce Denmark, and an ore called bog iron was made into tools and weapons.
Among prehistoric people, “when you take things, you also offer things,” said Mannering.
This may be why the Danish villagers would deposit “gifts” of clothes, old shoes, slaughtered animals, battered weapons, and, for a period of 500 years, people into the black abyss of the bogs. (Related:"Medieval Christian Book Discovered in Ireland Bog.")
Danish Iron Age cultures left no written records, so their religious beliefs are unknown, Mannering noted.
"Very Fine Lady"
When peat harvesters began accidentally unearthing bog bodies in the mid to late 1800s, many were discovered without clothing, solidifying the view that they had been simple people, Frei said. (Watch a National Geographic Channel video about bog mummies.)
Tollund Man, for instance, was found with a belt but no clothes. “It doesn’t make sense to be naked and have a belt,” Frei pointed out.
Frei wondered, then, if some of the bog bodies’ clothing had dissolved in the bogs over the centuries. So she decided to examine Huldremose Woman, a mummy discovered in 1879 wearing a checkered skirt and scarf, both made of sheep’s wool, and two leather capes.
Using microscopes, she discovered that tiny plant fibers were stuck to the 2,300-year-old woman’s skin—remnants of ancient underwear, which later analyses revealed were likely made of flax.
Next, Frei performed a first-of-its-kind analysis of the strontium isotope contained in the flax and in the wool from the skirt and scarf.
Researchers analyzed the isotopes, or different varieties, of atoms in the strontium preserved in the flax and wool fibers. These atoms provide a chemical insight into the geology of the region where the plant and sheep lived.
The results show that the plant fibers taken from threads of the underwear grew on terrains geologically older than those of Denmark—those typical of northern Scandinavia, such as Norway or Sweden—suggesting that Huldremose Woman may have come from somewhere else, according to research published in 2009 in the Journal of Archaeological Science.
Frei also did an analysis of strontium isotopes in Huldremose Woman’s skin. Humans absorb strontium through food and water, and it’s especially prevalent in our teeth and bones—though many bog bodies are found without teeth and bones because of the acidic conditions.
read more from Nat Geo
Apollo 11 carried a number of cameras for collecting data and recording various aspects of the mission, including a 35-mm surface close-up stereoscopic camera. It was designed for the highest possible resolution of a 3-inch square area with a flash illumination and fixed distance. Photography was accomplished by holding the camera on a walking stick against the object to be photographed. The camera was powered by four nickel-cadmium batteries that operated the motor-drive mechanism and an electronic flash strobe light.
There are many details seen in these pictures that were not known previously or that could not be seen with similar definition by astronauts Armstrong and Aldrin in their careful inspection of the lunar surface. The photographs taken on the mission with the close-up stereoscopic camera are of outstanding quality and show in detail the nature of the lunar surface material. From the photographs, information can be derived about the small-scale lunar surface geologic features and about processes occurring on the surface.
Image Credit: John Lloyd/NASA
This picture shows human epithelial cell infected with Chlamydia trachomatis (green) and it was taken with ZEISS FE-SEM.
Chlamydia trachomatis is an obligate intracellular human pathogen (the bacterium lives within human cells), a gram-negative bacterium, and it can appear as either coccoid or rod shape.
C. trachomatis can cause numerous disease states in both men and women. Both sexes can display urethritis, proctitis (rectal disease and bleeding), trachoma, and infertility. The bacterium can cause prostatitis and epididymitis in men. In women, cervicitis, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), ectopic pregnancy, and acute or chronic pelvic pain are frequent complications. It is the single most important infectious agent associated with blindness.
Those seething with so much rage and xenophobia that they’d hurl ugly epithets in the faces of children fleeing bloody violence in Central America bring shame to the whole nation. But the response of mainstream America hasn’t been much better. The media’s characterization of what’s going on at our southern border as a “crisis,” politicians pointing fingers at one another and Washington’s refusal to provide the resources necessary to care for a small wave of refugees — not to mention the bipartisan push to send them back home — is just as shameful when one considers the context.In June, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported that in 2013, the global population of refugees from war and persecution hit 51.2 million — exceeding 50 million for the first time since World War II.Half of them were children.The vast majority were “internally displaced persons,” homeless people within their home countries. Many live in fetid refugee camps run by underfunded NGOs, where they face continuing privation and abuse.
It would be great if my fellow Americans could see the humanity in these children who are trying to find safety and refuge in a country that, until recently, was a reliable beacon of hope for the world.
Anyone who thinks you can just walk into a convenience store and get the affordable birth control you need clearly has no understanding about the reality of women’s lives — and no business making decisions about them.
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Today on ‘just vaccinate your fucking children already’ news:
Childhood vaccines are safe. Seriously.
The federal agency that sets criminal sentencing policies for judges voted on Friday to allow tens of thousands of inmates serving time for drug crimes to apply for reduced sentences, the largest such sentencing reduction in modern U.S. history.
The unanimous vote by the seven members of the U.S. Sentencing Commission will apply to most drug offenders in federal prisons, according to the commission.
Their decision came after the commission studied the results of a similar 2007 vote that affected only those serving time for crack cocaine offenses and found that inmates released early posed no greater risk of committing another crime than those who served their full terms…
Congress has until November 1 to disapprove of the commission’s decision. If lawmakers let the new rules stand, judges across the country can begin considering individual petitions from inmates for sentence reductions, but no prisoners can be released until Nov. 1, 2015, according to a special rule added by the commissioners.
End-Permian extinction happened in 60,000 years—much faster than earlier estimates, MIT study says
The largest mass extinction in the history of animal life occurred some 252 million years ago, wiping out more than 96 percent of marine species and 70 percent of life on land—including the largest insects known to have inhabited the Earth. Multiple theories have aimed to explain the cause of what’s now known as the end-Permian extinction, including an asteroid impact, massive volcanic eruptions, or a cataclysmic cascade of environmental events. But pinpointing the cause of the extinction requires better measurements of how long the extinction period lasted.
Now researchers at MIT have determined that the end-Permian extinction occurred over 60,000 years, give or take 48,000 years—practically instantaneous, from a geologic perspective. The new timescale is based on more precise dating techniques, and indicates that the most severe extinction in history may have happened more than 10 times faster than scientists had previously thought…
(read more: PhysOrg)
(Image: © John Sibbick / Natural History Museum)
(I left out a couple parts for clarity, where towards the end they add wax and fillers, though please watch the video. It’s beautifully shot and goes into more detail,..)
(plus it has epic orchestral music in the background which makes any learning experience more badass).
Pumzi - dir. Wanuri Kahiu // Kenya
In a dystopian future 35 years after an ecological WWIII has torn the world apart, East African survivors of the devastation remain locked away in contained communities, but a young woman in possession of a germinating seed struggles against the governing council to bring the plant to Earth’s ruined surface.
The main character is a museum curator in the future and also yes I would like see this now please
THERE IS NOTHING ABOUT THIS I DON’T LIKE
GET INTO THIS