Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Evening Update

Its beginning to get the feel of another birth pain as pertinent news stories are starting to pick up again:


Britain's most senior medical adviser has warned MPs that the rise in drug-resistant diseases could trigger a national emergency comparable to a catastrophic terrorist attack, pandemic flu or major coastal flooding.
Dame Sally Davies, the chief medical officer, said the threat from infections that are resistant to frontline antibiotics was so serious that the issue should be added to the government's national risk register of civil emergencies.
She described what she called an "apocalyptic scenario" where people going for simple operations in 20 years' time die of routine infections "because we have run out of antibiotics".

The issue of drug resistance is as old as antibiotics themselves, and arises when drugs knock out susceptible infections, leaving hardier, resilient strains behind. The survivors then multiply, and over time can become unstoppable with frontline medicines. Some of the best known are so-called hospital superbugs such as MRSA that are at the root of outbreaks among patients.
"In the past, most people haven't worried because we've always had new antibiotics to turn to," said Alan Johnson, consultant clinical scientist at the Health Protection Agency. "What has changed is that the development pipeline is running dry. We don't have new antibiotics that we can rely on in the immediate future or in the longer term."

Drug resistance is emerging in diseases across the board. Davies said 80% of gonorrhea was now resistant to the frontline antibiotic tetracycline, and infections were rising in young and middle-aged people. Multi-drug resistant TB was also a major threat, she said.
Another worrying trend is the rise in infections that are resistant to powerful antibiotics called carbapenems, which doctors rely on to tackle the most serious infections. Resistant bugs carry a gene variant that allows them to destroy the drug. What concerns some scientists is that the gene variant can spread freely between different kinds of bacteria, said Johnson.

Middle East:

The top commander of Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard insists his force controls shipping in the Strait of Hormuz, gateway for one fifth of the world’s oil.
Sanctions over Iran’s nuclear program have battered its economy and collapsed its currency. The West believes Iran might move to make nuclear weapons. Iran denies that.
Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari said the Guard protects ships in the Gulf and the strait. His comments were posted on the Guard’s website Wednesday.
Guard commanders in the past have threatened to block the waterway over Western sanctions.
Jafari’s remarks were apparently aimed at highlighting the Guard’s control of the strategic waterway.
Military officials say Iran has a plan to shut the strait but insist that Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei would make the final decision.

Yesh Atid head Yair Lapid quashed any talk of forming a blocking majority to keep Benjamin Netanyahu from staying on as prime minister Wednesday night, expressing hope that he would work together with Netanyahu in the future.
Lapid, speaking to the press outside his Tel Aviv home Wednesday night, seemed to indicate that he would be open to joining a Netanyahu ruling coalition as a senior member.
“I want to remove this talk of a blocking majority,” Lapid said, adding that he would not join up with Balad MK Hanin Zoabi. “I want to take it off the table.”

Lapid’s new Yesh Atid faction won 19 seats in Tusday voting, becoming the second largest party and making it something of a linchpin for a future coalition. His statement Wednesday night, seemingly endorsing Netanyahu, essentially gives Netanyahu the green light to form the next government.

The Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET, which is Hebrew for “truth), held a series of discussions on Capitol Hill Thursday, to a standing room only crowd of over 80 Congressional staffers, foreign diplomats and citizen activists, focused on the geopolitical and ideological threats facing the nation of Israel.

The talks were part of EMET’s Miriam and Sheldon G. Adelson Seminar Series, a monthly briefing series held on Capitol Hill, intended to inform members of Congress and their staff on Middle East national security matters.

Speaking first was Mark Langfan, who specializes in producing 3d topographical maps of Israel and the surrounding area in order to education U.S. policy makers regarding the role played by geography in the Arab-Israeli conflict. These maps enable policymakers to view the location of strategically important high ground, major population centers, and vital water supplies.

Sarah Stern, Found and President of EMET said, “The wonderful thing about Mark [Langfan]’s presentation is the ability to allow legislators to visualize the reality of the land. It’s one thing to read about Hamas rocket ranges in the New York Times, but another to visually see the whole of Israel placed under threat.”


The leaders of Germany and France encouraged young people to be "utopian" and dream of a European federal state with common taxation, on the eve of festivities on Tuesday (22 January) marking the 50th anniversary of the Elysee peace treaty.

When asked if it is "utopian" to think that one day there would be a federal EU state, Hollande said that the EU as it is today seemed "utopian" 50 years ago.
"I accepted that we need to converge towards common budgetary policies. We need to have a similar discussions about taxes, for instance a common CO2 tax. It's true there are political risks, but we need to embrace our common destiny," he said.

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