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AssessmentsFeb 11, 2017 | 14:13 GMT
Stopping Mosquito-Borne Disease at the Source
Stopping Mosquito-Borne Diseases at the Source
Mosquito-borne diseases have plagued civilizations for millennia. Even today, malaria, dengue and yellow fever continue to constrain economic development in areas of Africa, Southeast Asia and South America where they are endemic. But compared with these enduring threats, acute outbreaks of illnesses such as Zika and chikungunya have gotten far more attention recently. Though the diseases themselves were first identified decades ago, the magnitude of their spread -- facilitated by factors including higher population density, greater urbanization, globalization and the increased range of mosquitoes that carry them -- is unprecedented. Acute disease outbreaks have occurred with greater frequency worldwide since 1980. At the same time, new incidences of vector-borne illnesses -- those carried by one organism and transmitted to another -- have cropped up as methods for detecting and tracking disease have improved. A recent bulletin from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), for example, reported a new
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AssessmentsOct 4, 2016 | 09:15 GMT
The Insidious Threat of Drug-Resistant Disease
The Insidious Threat of Drug-Resistant Disease
When Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin in 1928, he ushered in a new era of medicine: the age of antibiotics. Infections that had once been fatal could now be treated with relatively simple cures. In the decades that followed, penicillin became just one of many antimicrobial drugs that enabled humans and animals to live longer, more productive lives. The proliferation of those drugs seemed to have few, if any, downsides.
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AssessmentsSep 18, 2016 | 14:06 GMT
Order and Progress at the Rio Olympics
Order and Progress at the Rio Olympics
I had never traveled south of the equator before. As an American of Pakistani descent, most of my voyages have been easterly, flying high above a fragmenting Europe whose empires once ruled the world, over the cauldron of nations to which the prophets traced the birth of their enduring dogmas, to the dusty, teeming chaos of my ancestral hometown of Peshawar. Those trips to Pakistan were formative. They exposed me to the full spectrum of the human condition, offering lessons in the limits of politics and the realities of geopolitics. Pakistan, after all, had been a front-line state in the United States' war against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, a war whose implications rippled outward to Peshawar in particular. But this voyage was different. My friend Hamza and I were flying to Brazil to see the Olympics. We were largely going as tourists, but as an analyst of geopolitics I
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AssessmentsAug 15, 2016 | 09:15 GMT
Mosquito control efforts have been focused on the neighborhood in Miami, Florida, where several cases of Zika were reported. The chances of an outbreak stemming from additional travel due to the Olympics in Brazil are slim. Control efforts in North America will keep the outbreak localized, all while scientists learn how the disease works.
Swatting Down the Zika Risk
With the competition underway in Rio de Janeiro, the media's attention has turned more toward medal counts and discolored swimming pools than mosquito-borne illnesses, and perhaps that's how it always should have been. The effects of the Zika virus are a low-grade risk, not only for the Summer Olympics but also in general, even as cases of local transmission have been confirmed in the southern United States. Control efforts in North America will keep the outbreak localized, and while scientists are still learning how the disease works and what its potential side effects are, its impact on the general population has been minimal. Though the outbreak will continue to grab headlines, the disease is waning in parts of South America, and even with funding in the United States in question, control measures have been moving forward there. Consequently, the danger Zika poses to global economic or political activities continues to
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AssessmentsJul 27, 2016 | 09:00 GMT
In Kinshasa, a man receives a vaccination against yellow fever, which has spread to the Democratic Republic of the Congo from Angola, where an outbreak began in late 2015. Though it has attracted far less attention than the Zika virus, an outbreak of yellow fever could turn into a global concern if it spreads along economic lines from Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to China.
Yellow Fever: An Overlooked Outbreak in Africa
For much of the past year, the Zika virus has dominated the news cycle and commanded international attention. With the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro less than two weeks away, and two cases of the virus that could be unrelated to travel reported in Florida, that is unlikely to change any time soon. But another mosquito-borne disease, yellow fever, is working its way (albeit more quietly) through the African nations of Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Though it has attracted far less attention than the Zika virus, yellow fever nevertheless could disrupt economic activities in and beyond those countries, a key consideration in assessing the geopolitical risk of a disease outbreak. What's more, a large number of foreign workers in Angola and the Congo as well as a vaccine shortage worldwide could conspire to turn the latest outbreak of yellow fever -- a disease that has
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Contributor PerspectivesJul 13, 2016 | 07:59 GMT
Collapse of civilization?
The Dawn of a New Dark Age
"The end of a world," ABC News called Britain's vote to leave the European Union on June 24. As if in agreement, the pound immediately racked up its biggest-ever one-day loss against the dollar. Over the next three days, the Dow Jones index fell 4.8 percent, London's FTSE 100 lost 5.6 percent, and some $2 trillion in assets evaporated. This is bad, and worse may yet follow. But is it the beginning of the end? There have been plenty of crises worse than this one in the past 100 years, but none of them ended the world. The Great Recession that erupted in 2008, the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the 1997-98 Asian and Russian financial meltdowns, the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989-91, the oil spikes of 1973 and 1979 -- the list goes on, but civilization always survived. Even the material destruction of the World Wars, which claimed
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AssessmentsMay 6, 2016 | 08:00 GMT
Genetically modified plants are shown in an Argentinian biotechnology lab northwest of Buenos Aires.
Gene Editing: Tailoring the Future of Biotech
Just over a year ago, Chinese laboratories published the results of a controversial experiment, one that enabled the selective editing of genomes belonging to human embryos. A flurry of ethical debates and research on the relatively new technique known as CRISPR took place in the aftermath. Scientists and policymakers alike were quick to explore the potential applications -- and implications -- of gene editing. Given the recent anniversary of clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR) and a related intellectual property battle dragging on in U.S. courts, it is appropriate to evaluate the progress gene-editing technology has made, and determine how valid our previous assessment of the technology's potential impact was.
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Contributor PerspectivesMay 4, 2016 | 08:00 GMT
The U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.
Giving Congress Its Due
Although the presidency is the focal point for media coverage of the U.S. government, Congress is by far the most important and most powerful of our constitutional institutions. All taxing and spending bills must originate in the House of Representatives; only Congress can raise armies; and it is Congress that creates the Federal Reserve, which governs U.S. monetary policy. Besides its trivial function as a trial court, the Supreme Court would have little function and would hear no appeals from the state supreme courts, nor would there be any federal lower courts, except for congressional legislation. For all the glamour of the White House, it's Capitol Hill that creates and sustains the federal government.
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On SecurityApr 28, 2016 | 08:01 GMT
Security threats at the Rio Olympics
The Risks at Play at the Summer Olympics
As athletes and spectators gear up for the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, security experts and professionals are also preparing. On April 13, the Brazilian Intelligence Agency (ABIN) issued a report assessing the threat to the upcoming Olympic Torch Relay. Among other items, ABIN's report contained confirmation that a French Islamic State member named Maxime Hauchard was responsible for a November 2015 tweet threatening attacks in Brazil. Of the many risks discussed in ABIN's report, the revelation surrounding Hauchard's tweet garnered the most buzz and made international headlines discussing the Islamic State's threat to the Summer Games. Yet despite the heavy media coverage that this potential threat has attracted, several unrelated and more likely dangers to athletes and spectators lurk behind the upcoming Olympics.
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Contributor PerspectivesFeb 17, 2016 | 08:02 GMT
Aedes Aegypti mosquito larvae at a laboratory of the Ministry of Health of El Salvador in San Salvador.
Keeping the Zika Outbreak in Perspective
If you read the latest news reports on the Zika epidemic, you might notice they bear a striking resemblance to weather reports during hurricane season. Authorities from local, national and international organizations are gearing up for a public health emergency. Damage assessments from areas that have already been hit have yet to be finalized, and forecasters are uncertain where it will make landfall next. Governments are beginning to issue travel advisories and implement protective measures, and the entire world is tuned in to see what happens next. The latest biological hurricane comes on the heels of the 2015 Ebola crisis, but as epidemics go, Zika and Ebola couldn't be more different. The Zika virus is primarily mosquito borne and usually causes only vague, flu-like symptoms, while Ebola is transmitted through bodily fluids and kills one of every two people infected. Given the two diseases' completely distinctive natures, a simple review of
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