Sunday, June 24, 2012

Sunday's News: Violence Escalates In Israel. Pestilence

The two big stories today are two of the signs that we track with interest.

What is next for Israel in the face of continuing rocket fire into the country?

Gaza terrorists continued to fire on Israel over the Sabbath. The Iron Dome rocket defense system successfully shot down 5 rockets, but more than 20 hit southern communities.

One rocket hit a factory in the Sha’ar Hanegev region. A worker was moderately wounded.

Another rocket hit a school in Sderot, causing damage to the building. School was not in session, and noinjuries were reported.

Israeli warplanes fired on a terrorist as he prepared to launch a rocket. Pilots reported a hit. Sources in Gaza confirmed that the man was killed.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu met with Defense Minister Ehud Barak, IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz, and other senior defense officials to discuss the situation. He ordered them to take strong action to restore security to the south.

The residents of southern Israel continued life under siege over the weekend as Gaza-based Palestinian terrorists launched an additional 20 rockets and medium-range missiles in their direction. The weekend attacks came after southern Israel was pounded by more than 120 rockets and mortars last week.

In one weekend attack, a school in the southern town of Sderot suffered a direct hit from a Palestinian rocket. Fortunately, the school was empty and no one was hurt. Two more rockets landed near a public beach in the coastal town of Ashkelon, again causing no injuries.

A 50-year-old resident of the southern town of Netivot was not so fortunate, and suffered shrapnel wounds to the neck when a Palestinian rocket hit a local factory.

Israel's Iron Dome anti-missile system managed to intercept five missiles fired at Ashkelon.

Israel responded to the ongoing attacks by hitting Hamas bases throughout Gaza. At least one terrorist was reportedly killed in the reprisals.

Gaza-based terrorists fired 25 rockets into southern Israel on Saturday, causing damage to a school and factory. The latest attacks bring the total number of rockets and other projectiles fired from the Strip to approximately 150 over the past six days.

The majority of the rockets launched Saturday were aimed at the southern city of Sderot, but several landed in other parts of the Eshkol, Hof Ashkelon and Shaar Hanegev Regional Councils, which border the Strip.

One of the rockets exploded in Sderot’s industrial zone, causing moderate-to-severe injuries to one man and damaging a factory.

Hamas’s Izz al-Din al-Kassam Brigades released a statement following the airstrikes promising to escalate the violence in response to the IDF attacks.

“If the Zionist occupation didn’t understand the message of the resistance in the last week, we are ready to smash its arrogance and repress its criminality,” the statement said.

Israeli Air Force jets bombed three Hamas military bases in the Strip early Saturday morning. Palestinian sources reported that at least 20 people were injured in the airstrikes.

The IDF Spokesperson said the strikes against targets in northern and central Gaza came in response to the ongoing firing of rockets at Israel over the past several days.

There is always talk about the potential of an outbreak of bird flu in humans, but a new study in the journal Science says the risk of a pandemic is a "serious threat."

The research team lead by Derek Smith of the University of Cambridge analyzed 15 different strains of H1N5 bird flu and discovered that only five mutations would have to occur for the virus to be able to transmit from human-to-human reported Reuters' Kate Kelland.

Currently humans can contract the virus from birds, but the virus cannot move from human-to-human. Around 600 cases of humans contracting the virus have been reported historically, when this does happen the virus is usually fatal.

If the current H1N5 virus developed these five mutations, it would be able to be transmitted just like the flu, a very scary thought considering the fatality rate for H1N5 in humans was recorded as 60 percent in 2010.

Smith also noted that two of the mutations are already found in birds and that all of the mutations would only need one mammal host to occur in. That means it would only take one mammal to mutate the disease and create a bird flu pandemic for humans alike.

...the remaining mutations could evolve within a single mammalian host, making the possibility of a respiratory droplet–transmissible A/H5N1 virus evolving in nature a potentially serious threat.

On Thursday the journal Science published a controversial study on the H1N5 bird flu, which revealed that the virus could mutate to spread easily among humans. Initially, the U.S. National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity tried to block study details from being released for fear that it could be used by terrorists to make a bioweapon.

The reports suggest that there is a large risk of a human version of bird flu erupting in the near future, and show how this could be done in a laboratory.

Ron A. M. Fouchier from the Erasmus Medical Center in the Netherlands created a virus strain that could spread through the air among ferrets.

The results of the experiment would suggest that bird flu could potentially mutate to become transmittable between humans like the flu, a scary thought considering the human fatality rate from bird flu when contracted from birds wasrecorded as 60 percent in 2010.

The board was afraid that the study could potentially be used as a roadmap for biochemical terrorists seeking to create a deadly bird flu weapon.

NSABB chair Dr. Paul Keim was so anxious, because he claimed it was the most potentially dangerous pathogen in existence. "I don't think anthrax is scary at all compared to this," Keim told Science Insider back in November 2011.

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