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08.15 RIDE FOR THE OVERRIDE

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12.08 How Do American Students Compare to Their International Peers?

12.07 What America Can Learn About Smart Schools in Other Countries

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12.08 Portland's Answer to Climate Denial? Local Action

12.08 Meet the High-Tech Buses of Tomorrow [perhaps smaller, non-polluting buses can come twice as often, too]

12.08 Mapping the Inundation of New York City

12.08 Leonardo DiCaprio meets Trump as climate sceptic appointed

12.08 Trump picks climate change sceptic Scott Pruitt to lead EPA

12.07 Trump’s Infrastructure Plan Is a Full-on Privatization Assault

12.07 Trump advisors aim to privatize oil-rich Indian reservations [drill, pump, burn, breathe, die]

12.07 Thousands of snow geese die in Montana after landing on contaminated water

12.07 Five west African countries ban 'dirty diesel' from Europe

12.07 London mayor to double funding to tackle air pollution

12.07 Donald Trump supports 'clean coal' – but does it really have a future?

12.07 Google, Apple, Facebook race towards 100% renewable energy target

12.07 Google Says It Will Run Entirely on Renewable Energy in 2017

12.05 Trump's pick for key health post known for punitive Medicaid plan

12.05 Asleep at the Wheel: German Leaders at Odds with Industry over Electric Cars

12.05 Dakota Access Pipeline Permit Denied

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12.07 Democrats Need to Embrace Progressivism or Else Move Out of the Way

12.07 Forget Air Force One, Pentagon Wastes Billions and Billions Every Month

12.06 Why Does Donald Trump Lie About Voter Fraud?

12.06 FIGHTING FOR THE POOR UNDER TRUMP

12.06 Want to Bring Back Jobs, Mr. President-Elect? Call Elon Musk [dare to be smart]

12.06 Jamie Raskin Has a Fierce, Funny Message for Dispirited Democrats

12.06 Career of Trump's Top Ethics Lawyer Marred by Questionable Ethics

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12.07 President Obama’s Last Chance to Show Mercy

12.06 Did Trump’s Son-In-Law Finance Israeli Extremists and Illegal Settlements?

High Crimes?

12.05 Sea Shepherd activists set sail for Antarctic to battle Japanese whalers

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12.08 Who Won the 'Make the Most Meaningless Thomas Friedman Graph' Contest? [humor with graphs, because we need some!]

12.08 In the UK, Pfizer and a partner hiked anti-epilepsy drug price 2600% overnight [bring out the guillotine]

12.08 “We’ll Look at Everything”: More Thoughts on Trump’s $1 Trillion Infrastructure Plan

12.04 TRUMP SETS PRIVATE PRISONS FREE

12.04 WHY TRUMP SHOULD SPEND OTHER PEOPLE’S MONEY

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12.08 After Choi-gate

12.08 France's honest tax system crusader convicted for hiding millions of euros

12.06 FAIR’s big play: Onetime fringe group hopes to drive Donald Trump’s immigration policy

12.06 Brazil's Senate president ousted over embezzlement charges

12.06 Brazil grapples with lynch mob epidemic: 'A good criminal is a dead criminal'

12.06 Before the article 50 court battle, there was May v Merkel

12.06 Austrians celebrate far right defeat: 'the first good election result this year'

12.05 Euro falls to 20-month low after Italy government's referendum defeat

12.05 'A storm is gathering on the horizon': Chinese scholars fret about Trump

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  Obama Team Sets the Stage for Science
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REPORT:

Obama Team Sets the Stage for Science

Offers first glimpse of federal flu plan

by Jim Dawson
Inside Science News Service

Scientists say that so far there is no indication that the H1N1 virus will become more dangerous.

August 13, 2009 • Washington (ISNS)The 21 members of the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) crowded into a small conference center across the street from the White House last week to review the science that will be on the agenda of President Barack Obama's administration for the next several months.

The group covered a wide array of topics ranging from the federal government's response to the anticipated return of the swine flu virus this fall to changes in agricultural practices that might be required to deal with the effects of climate change.

The group covered a wide array of topics ranging from the federal government's response to the anticipated return of the swine flu virus this fall to changes in agricultural practices that might be required to deal with the effects of climate change.

First on the agenda was a summary of a quick two-week study done in late June to assess how prepared the country is for the expected return of the H1N1 virus.

The study will be released in the next few days and will provide "an integrated set of recommendations to aid in our response [to the flu's return]," said Eric Lander, a co-chair of PCAST. He said the report contains "strong suggestions for concrete scenario planning, a review of the current surveillance system [to detect outbreaks], and a look at what barriers to a rapid response might exist."

Harold Varmus, another PCAST co-chair and the former head of the National Institutes of Health, said studies of the H1N1 virus have found that only nine varieties out of hundreds are resistant to the vaccine under development. Varmus said that while there is concern that the H1N1 virus is following a pattern similar to the devastating 1918 Spanish flu virus—mild in the spring and deadly upon its return in the fall—so far there is no indication that the H1N1 virus will become more dangerous.

Langer said the scenarios used to forecast the flu's spread include the most likely events. The extreme possibilities have been discussed, but not developed in detail. Agencies across the federal government are working together, he said, "and lines of communication have been clarified. We want to engage the entire country." The goal, he said, is for federal, state, and local governments to "think this through and make sure we're all on the same page."

Next on the agenda was plant evolutionary biologist and PCAST member Barbara Schaal, who said her council subcommittee is focusing on agriculture in relation to global warming, obesity, and safety. As the climate changes, she said, researchers need to find a way to sustain agricultural output. To combat obesity, she said, the question that needs to be asked is, "can agriculture produce foods that are helpful?" She also discussed food safety issues such as reducing the amount of E. coli and other bacterial contamination in food.

University of Maryland physicist S. James Gates Jr. said his group is working on improving K-12 science and technology education, an area the U.S. has been neglecting for more than a decade. "But we don't want to replicate activities that have been done before," Gates said. "We're looking for unique opportunities." They are examining innovative schools that have good science programs in the hopes of modeling their success on a broader scale.

Other reports focused on energy and security, using robotics and nanotechnology to improve manufacturing, the impact of rapidly changing technology on the U.S. economy, and the role of science and technology in international security.


This article is provided courtesy of Inside Science News Service, which is supported by the American Institute of Physics, a not-for-profit publisher of scientific journals. Contact: Martha Heil, editor, 301-209-3086, mheil@aip.org.



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This story was published on August 13, 2009.
 

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