A Mutated Strain of ‘Super Malaria’ Is Spreading at an Alarming Rate:

A Mutated Strain of ‘Super Malaria’ Is Spreading at an Alarming Rate:

In a disturbing development, a newly-mutated strain of drug-resistant malaria has spread into Vietnam, complicating efforts to contain the the mosquito-borne virus in Southeast Asia, and potentially posing a global threat.

Like bacteria, malaria is adapting to our medicines. Drug resistance is a growing problem for malaria treatment, with fears that the disease could one day no longer be treatable with the current crop of pharmaceuticals.

A particularly problematic strain of malaria, known as PfPailin, is now spreading in Southeast Asia. This so-called “superbug” cannot be treated with first-line anti-malarial drugs. The strain emerged a few years ago in Cambodia, and has since spread to Thailand and Laos.

Now, as a team of experts point out in a letter to The Lancet, the drug-resistant strain has spread from Cambodia into the Mekong sub-region of Vietnam, where infected patients are experiencing “alarming rates of failure.”

In southeast Asia, drug treatment failure rates (failure meaning that drugs are ineffective at curbing the effects of malaria, such as fever, mild jaundice, organ problems, anemia, seizures, coma, and in the most severe cases death) are now approaching 60 percent. The World Health Organization claims that 1.5 million people are infected with malaria in southeast Asia annually, resulting in over 600 deaths.

It’s a heavy blow to the region, and a setback to efforts to control the disease. The first choice treatment of malaria involves a combination of two powerful anti-malarial drugs, artemisinin and piperaquine. This emerging strain has already developed a resistance to artemisinin, but in a “sinister development,” the disease has mutated yet again, acquiring resistance to piperaquine. The frightening potential now exists for malaria to be completely untreatable with current medicines.

“The spread of artemisinin resistance in Plasmodium falciparum [the parasite that causes malaria] and the subsequent loss of partner antimalarial drugs in the Greater Mekong subregion presents one of the greatest threats to the control and elimination of malaria,” write the authors of The Lancet letter. “The evolution and subsequent transnational spread of this single fit multidrug-resistant malaria parasite lineage is of international concern.”

The prospect of this drug-resistant strain spreading into Africa is particularly scary. It’s the continent from which malaria emerged, and where Anopheles mosquitoes, the insect responsible for spreading the disease, are plentiful. Currently, 92 percent of all malaria cases are in Africa.

The World Health Organization estimates that 212 million people are infected with malaria each year around the world, and that close to 430,000 people died from the disease in 2015. The majority of cases involve children under the age of 15.

Drug resistance, whether it be to malaria, bacteria, or fungi, is an emerging theme in the first two decades of the 21st century. Though much of the world’s attention is centered around problems such as climate change and our increasingly destabilized geopolitical world, it’s clear that we should be paying equal attention to microscopic organisms with the potential to do just as much harm.

[The LancetBBCAP]

BY: George Dvorsky

9/22/2017

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Sen. Ron Wyden places hold on Treasury nominee for Russia financial documents:

Sen. Ron Wyden places hold on Treasury nominee for Russia financial documents:

Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, talks with reporters about the passage of the USA FREEDOM Act at the Capitol in June 2015 in Washington.

Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, talks with reporters about the passage of the USA FREEDOM Act at the Capitol in June 2015 in Washington.

(CNN)Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden has placed a hold on a senior Treasury Department nominee in a bid to pry loose financial documents tied to Russia.

 

Wyden, the top Democrat on the Senate finance committee, said Friday he was placing a hold on Isabel Patelunas, President Donald Trump’s nominee to be Treasury’s assistant secretary for intelligence and analysis, until Treasury hands over the documents he’s seeking.
“I have placed a hold on the nominee because of the Treasury Department’s refusal to provide the Senate Finance Committee with Treasury documents related to Russia,” Wyden said in a statement. “The provision of these documents to the committee is not only part of the oversight process, but is necessary if the relevant congressional expertise is to be brought to bear on the effort to follow the money.”
Wyden wants documents from Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), a unit that monitors global financing and frequently investigates money laundering.
The Treasury Department said that it had already responded to the request of a separate committee, the Senate intelligence committee, for FinCEN documents.
“Treasury has fully cooperated with the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. As a member of that committee, Senator Wyden has full access to these documents,” a Treasury spokesperson said. “We see no reason why he is holding up a qualified expert in a key intelligence role.”
FinCEN did not return a CNN call seeking comment.
Patelunas, who was nominated in June for the Treasury post, has been an official at the CIA for nearly three decades.
Her nomination was taken up by the Senate intelligence committee, which is the committee investigating possible connections between Trump’s team and Russian officials. The intelligence panel held a confirmation hearing for Petalunas and moved her nomination to the floor in July.
Wyden’s hold on Patelunas isn’t the first time the Oregon Democrat has used the nominations process to try to pry loose financial documents.
The Treasury statement referenced documents provided to the Senate intelligence panel earlier this year, after Wyden had placed a hold on Sigal Mandelker when he was nominated to oversee FinCEN.
The Senate intelligence committee was seeking FinCEN data related to Trump and his top officials and campaign aides as it looked for connections to Russian banks and oligarchs.
Wyden lifted his hold after Treasury pledged to turn over those documents to the intelligence panel. Mandelker was confirmed in June as Treasury undersecretary for terrorism and financial crimes.

Updated 2:58 PM ET, Fri September 22, 2017

Sebastian Gorka Welcomed To Halfway House For Fired Trump Administration Members:

Sebastian Gorka Welcomed To Halfway House For Fired Trump Administration Members:

The halfway house offers Sebastian Gorka and other former Trump staffers the chance to unlearn some of the destructive behavior patterns acquired in the administration and gradually transition back into the community.

WASHINGTON—Saying it was the first step in gaining the confidence and stability he would need to reintegrate back into society, residents and staff on Thursday welcomed former White House strategist Sebastian Gorka to New Beginnings, a halfway house for fired Trump administration members.

The 20-bed residential treatment center, which opened earlier this year in the capital’s quiet Woodland Park neighborhood, reportedly offers round-the-clock care to traumatized former West Wing insiders, providing life skills training, wellness workshops, and psychotherapy under the guidance of licensed social workers.

“At New Beginnings, Mr. Gorka will have the chance to make a fresh start—a chance to reflect on his past actions and hopefully emerge a more responsible citizen,” said director Ross Woodley, who noted that besides housing, the facility offered counseling on issues from anger management to speaking with special prosecutors. “No doubt he’s been through a lot, but he’ll be joining a community of other ex-Trump strategists, senior advisors, and communications personnel who are all going through the same process.”

“It’s very lucky we were able to accommodate him, though, as we’ve been completely full since February,” he added.

According to Woodley, once accepted to the program, a jittery, confused Gorka was driven from the White House directly to the facility to begin treatment. During the intake process, Gorka’s personal belongings were reportedly confiscated and he was asked to sign forms promising not to visit the Oval Office or have any contact with his enabling friends still within the administration.

Sources said that Gorka, 46, has responded well to the facility’s regimented schedule, rising before dawn to brew coffee and make breakfast for the group with former communications director Michael Dubke. Additionally, sources noted that Gorka had bonded with long-term resident Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who showed him how to do his own laundry and helped him buy a bus pass so he could apply for dishwashing jobs around town.

“It’s a good sign that he’s interacting with people—that’s more than we could say for Spicer or Priebus when they got here,” said Woodley, pointing to the two men quietly completing a 1,000-piece winter landscape jigsaw puzzle. “Sean was just a mess. One moment he’d be manically scrawling press releases on the backs of napkins, and the next he’d be screaming in your face, saying that CNN was out to destroy his reputation. Reince has been in and out of a catatonic stupor since he arrived.”

“Yes, it’s true these guys got wrapped up with the wrong people, but I firmly believe everyone has value no matter badly they’ve screwed up their lives, or their family’s lives, or the lives of 314 million Americans,” he continued.

According to Woodley, some of the biggest breakthroughs are made during group therapy where twice a day, former officials gather in the facility’s activity room to discuss tense moments working for the administration and how they might have handled them differently. He noted that while some residents reportedly take weeks to admit the things they’ve done, most eventually build up the courage to share their stories, often breaking down into sobs.

Woodley also explained that all residents are required to follow a strict code of conduct: no drugs or alcohol, no guest appearances on cable news, and a tidy bunk at all times. According to staff, however, abiding by the rules has been especially tough for Steve Bannon, whose attempts to conduct Breitbart editorial meetings via a smuggled cell phone have led to his loss of commissary privileges.

“Bannon is incredibly volatile, so we’ve had to put him on a 24/7 watch to ensure he doesn’t injure himself or others,” said Woodley, adding that the president’s former chief strategist had recently thrown an ashtray at a TV after watching a Fox News segment he considered “bullshit establishment propaganda.” “We thought maybe he’d turned a corner when he found a job as a busboy at a nearby pub, but then he lost it by referring to several waitresses as ‘dykes.’”

While rehabilitation has been easier for some residents than others, Woodley said former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci was his biggest success story to date, noting that, after several weeks of intense rage counseling, he had fully accepted responsibility for his chaotic 10-day tenure and would soon be starting a new job at an Arlington landscaping company.

“Though we wish for everyone to have the same level of success as Anthony, we accept it’s not always possible,” said Woodley. “There are only so many resources, and more and more people show up at our doorstep every day.”

“Unfortunately, without our guidance, there’s really no future for these folks,” he continued. “People just don’t want Trump staffers living in their neighborhoods.”

GOP Funds Donald Trump’s Defense in Russia Probe With Help From a Handful of Wealthy People – WSJ

GOP Funds Donald Trump’s Defense in Russia Probe With Help From a Handful of Wealthy People – WSJ

Donald Trump’s attorneys in the probe of Russian election interference are being funded in part through a Republican Party account with a handful of wealthy donors—including a billionaire investor, a property developer seeking U.S. government visas and a Ukrainian-born American who has made billions of dollars doing business with Russian oligarchs.

Source: GOP Funds Donald Trump’s Defense in Russia Probe With Help From a Handful of Wealthy People – WSJ

Ann Coulter suggests ‘death squads for the people who ruined America’ with immigration:

Ann Coulter suggests ‘death squads for the people who ruined America’ with immigration:

Ann Coulter speaks to Fox News (screen grab)

Ann Coulter suggested vigilante violence in response to President Donald Trump’s apparent flip-flop on immigration.

The right-wing provocateur appeared last week on the Fox Radio program hosted by Todd Starnes, where she called for the president’s removal from office one way or another, reported Right Wing Watch.

“We have made as clear as you can possibly make it, we want less immigration,” Coulter said. “Stop dumping the third world on the country.”

She said the president had been elected because of his harsh anti-immigration policies, which she helped shape, and she called for action by “Second Amendment people,” as Trump termed gun advocates during the campaign.

“If he continues down this path, well I guess there are three options,” Coulter said. “There’s the organizing the death squads for the people who ruined America, because there will be no more hope.”

She paused a moment before offering two other possible options.

“I guess the other possibility is to, well, I don’t think anyone would mind him being impeached,” Coulter added. “What’s the faction opposing that? And then at least we’ll get Mike Pence. But in terms of saving America, maybe a third party.”

Coulter made strikingly similar remarks at the Conservative Political Action Conference in 2014, where she warned Republicans not to support immigration reform.

“If you pass amnesty that’s it, it’s over, and then we organize the death squads for the people that wrecked America,” Coulter said three years ago.

BY: 
21 SEP 2017 AT 09:59 ET