Powerful storm system blasts US West; 8 killed

Western Storms

This image provided by the San Bernardino County Fire Department shows a traffic accident in the San Bernardino Mountains in California. The rain throughout the West led to flooding in San Bernardino County, where five homeless people were trapped by water and had to be rescued from the Santa Ana River, fire officials told the San Bernardino County Sun. (AP Photo/San Bernardino County Fire Department)

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Lightning strikes killed 32 people, including nine children, during weekend storms in India

(SOURCE)  Lightning strikes killed 32 people, including nine children, during storms at the weekend in India.

It is not rare for lightning to strike someone when it is monsoon season, but that the sheer number of the death toll is extremely rare. 

The strikes killed people in the eastern Indian states of Bihar and Jharkhand.

Lightning strikes killed 32 people, including nine children, during storms at the weekend in India.

Fatal: Lightning strikes killed 32 people, including nine children, during storms at the weekend in India (file)

 ‘About 24 people including seven children were killed Saturday and Sunday by bolts of lightning across Bihar,’ State Disaster Management Minister Renu Kumari Kushwaha said.

In neighbouring Jharkhand, eight people including two children died, Puran Mahto, an official in the state’s Dhanbad district said.

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Thirteen die in Mexico prison fight in San Luis Potosi


Relatives of inmates wait for information of their loved ones after inmates clashed at La Pila prison in San Luis Potosi on Saturday
Worried relatives have gathered at the jail to wait for news of their loved ones




At least 13 people are dead after a battle broke out between prisoners at a jail in the central Mexican state of San Luis Potosi.


A group of inmates used homemade knives and picks to attack rivals at the La Pila prison, the state attorney general’s office was quoted as saying.


Authorities took several hours to bring the fighting under control.


Deadly outbreaks of violence are common in Mexico’s overcrowded jails, which house inmates from rival drug gangs.


Dozens of people were injured – some seriously – in the fighting that broke out at La Pila, situated in the state capital, early on Saturday morning, officials said.


The authorities in the northern state of San Luis Potosi have begun to name the dead and warned concerned families waiting for news that the number of fatalities may rise.




Violence began when a group of prisoners took action after being harassed by other inmates, news agency AP quoted the state attorney general’s office as saying.


Rivalries between criminal gangs frequently spills over into Mexico’s antiquated and dangerous prisons, correspondents say. Studies say some prisons are effectively run by gangs.


Human rights groups say the penal system suffers from chronic overcrowding and is in urgent need of an overhaul.


Despite assertions that the prison system would be reformed after the last major incident, in which 44 inmates were killed, there have been no tangible improvements, neither during the final year of the previous administration nor in the first six months of President Enrique Pena Nieto’s government, says the BBC’s Will Grant in Mexico City.


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China’s bird flu outbreak no cause for panic: WHO

(Reuters) – A strain of bird flu that has been found in humans for the first time in eastern China is no cause for panic, the World Health Organization said on Monday, as the number of people infected rose to 24, with seven deaths.

A boy looks at pigeons at a public park in People Square, downtown Shanghai April 6, 2013. REUTERS-Aly Song

BEIJING | Mon Apr 8, 2013 7:54am EDT

WHO praised China for mobilising resources nationwide to combat the H7N9 flu strain by culling tens of thousands of birds and monitoring hundreds of people close to those infected.

“So far, we really only have sporadic cases of a rare disease, and perhaps it will remain that way. So this is not a time for over-reaction or panic,” said WHO representative Michael O’Leary.

The head of China’s National Health and Family Planning Commission, Li Bin, said on Sunday she was confident authorities could contain the virus. [ID:nL3N0CU0AF]

“These are a relatively small number of serious cases with personal health, medical implications, but not at this stage known public health implications,” O’Leary told reporters.

But he warned that information on the virus was still incomplete.

“We really can’t rely on information from other viruses. H7N9 is a new virus in humans and the pattern that it follows cannot be predicted by the patterns that we have from other influenza viruses,” O’Leary said.

No cases have yet been reported outside of China, he said.

The Shanghai government said on its official microblog on Monday that a 64-year-old man had become the latest victim as the number of infected has risen daily.

In total, 621 close contacts of the people known to have been infected were being monitored and had yet to show symptoms of infection, the director of China’s H7N9 prevention and control office, Liang Wannian, said.

Authorities have said there is no evidence of transmission between humans.

The bird flu outbreak has caused global concern and some Chinese internet users and newspapers have questioned why it took so long for the government to announce the new cases, especially as two of the victims fell ill in February.

Airline shares have fallen in Europe and in Hong Kong over fears that the new virus could be lead to an epidemic like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which emerged in China in 2002 and killed about 10 percent of the 8,000 people it infected worldwide.

Chinese authorities initially tried to cover up the SARS outbreak.

In the H7N9 case, it had said it needed time to identify the virus, with cases spread between eastern Zhejiang, Jiangsu, and Anhui provinces.

Chinese authorities have countered speculation that the H7N9 outbreak is related to more than 16,000 pig carcasses found dumped in rivers around Shanghai and the WHO has said some dead pigs from the rivers tested negative for influenza infection.

Other strains of bird flu, such as H5N1, have been circulating for many years and can be transmitted from bird to bird, and bird to human, but not generally from human to human.

Bangladesh on Monday reported its first H5N1 death, that of a baby, in February. It had taken that long to identify the strain.

(Editing by Nick Macfie)


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hpv vaccine

hpv vaccine (Photo credit: VCU CNS)

Other reported injuries include seizures, paralysis, blindness, memory loss



WASHINGTON – A widely popular HPV vaccine the federal government has recommended for girls and boys as young as 11 has caused thousands of adverse reactions, including seizures, paralysis, blindness, pancreatitis, speech problems, short-term memory loss, Guillain-Barré syndrome and even death.

Now a government watchdog is suing the federal government, demanding it release records related to the vaccine for the sexually transmitted disease human papillomavirus, or HPV.

Judicial Watch announced that it filed a Feb. 14, 2013, Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the Department of Health and Human Services to obtain those records. The group is seeking records related to the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, or VICP, a program that compensates patients who have been adversely affected by vaccines.

The HHS website describes the program as a “no-fault alternative to the traditional tort system.”

Judicial Watch wants all records relating to the VICP, any documented injuries or deaths associated with HPV vaccines and all records of compensation paid to the claimants following injury or death allegedly associated with the HPV vaccines.

HHS originally received the FOIA request on Nov. 2, 2012. The department was required by law to respond by Dec. 4. However, as of the date of Judicial Watch’s lawsuit, the agency has failed to provide the documents, indicate when a response is forthcoming or explain why the records should be exempted from disclosure.

The number of successful claims made under the VICP to victims of HPV will provide further information about any dangers of the vaccine, including the number of well-substantiated cases of adverse reactions.

According to the Annals of Medicine: “At present there are no significant data showing that either Gardasil or Cervarix (GlaxoSmithKline) can prevent any type of cervical cancer since the testing period employed was too short to evaluate long-term benefits of HPV vaccination.”

“From the very beginning the federal government has attempted to shield the public from the truth about Gardasil,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in a statement. “Despite safety concerns, the vaccine continues to be pushed for both girls and boys.

“For the supposed most transparent administration in history to stonewall on an urgent matter of public health is particularly galling.”

In addition to obtaining records from the FDA through the agency’s Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, which has documented thousands of adverse reactions to Gardasil, Judicial Watch also published a special report in 2008 detailing Gardasil’s approval process, side effects, safety concerns and marketing practices.

As WND has reported:

• There are more than 100 strains of HPV; Gardasil and Cervarix, the most commonly prescribed vaccines, offer protection against two of them.

• Even then, the staying power of the vaccine is only five years.

• Cervical cancer is preventable without the vaccine. Because it takes so long for HPV to develop into cancer, there’s time to head it off it with regular Pap tests.

• There are serious side effects including, occasionally, sudden death. Many Gardasil recipients experience normal vaccine aftermath like redness, soreness and fainting. But thousands of women have also reported crippling fatigue, paralysis, blindness, or autoimmune complications. Some have even died, according to CDC and FDA data.

Dr. Joseph Mercola has noted that the pharmaceutical companies making billions from the vaccines have spent a substantial portion of those revenues on promoting the drugs to doctors, universities, health journals, the Food and Drug Administration and CDC.

Mercola cited other side effects, including:

• Bell’s Palsy and Guillan-Barre syndrome;
• seizures;
• cervical dysplasia and cervical cancer;
• blood clotting and heart problems, including cardiac arrest;
• miscarriages and fetal abnormalities amongst pregnant women;
• vaccinated women show an increased number of precancerous lesions caused by strains of HPV other than HPV-16 and HPV-18.

“It’s clear to me that this is another case where the precautionary principle needs to be applied, as currently no one knows exactly whether or not the vaccine will have any measurable effect as far as lowering cervical cancer rates,” Mercola said.

“The results will not be fully apparent until a few decades from now, and in the meantime, countless young girls are being harmed, and we still do not know how Gardasil will affect their long-term health, even if they do not experience any acute side effects.”


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Infectious Diseases….A Persistent Threat

The Challenge | The Response  | Opportunities for U.S. Engagement


The Challenge

Worldwide, infectious diseases are the leading cause of death of children and adolescents, and one of the leading causes in adults.

Three of the top ten causes of death, or sixteen percent of all deaths each year, are from infectious diseases . Most of these deaths are in low- and middle-income countries and are attributable to preventable or treatable diseases such as diarrhea, lower respiratory infections, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria. While significant advances have been made in interventions to prevent and treat most of these diseases, those interventions are often unavailable to the populations most in need.


The Response

Over the past century, the public health community has enjoyed periodic major successes in the control and elimination of infectious diseases.

Annual Deaths (in millions)

Disease Deaths
Respiratory Infections 3.9
Malaria 1.3 – 3.0
Diarrheal Diseases 1.8
Tuberculosis 1.7
Neglected Tropical Diseases 0.5

In one of public health’s greatest victories, smallpox was eradicated in 1977. The smallpox effort was aided by committed medical and political leadership, an inexpensive vaccine that was relatively simple to administer, and a strong surveillance system that allowed rapid detection and containment of outbreaks.

Between 2000 and 2006, global measles incidence decreased by 91%, and incidence of Chagas Disease in Latin America decreased by over 70% from 1983 to 2000. More recently, the effort to eradicate Guinea worm (dracunculiasis) has accelerated and is now close to completion.

However, the global polio eradication program, intended for completion by 2000, has fallen victim to political and civil unrest in Nigeria, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.

Vaccine Preventable Diseases

Vaccines play a critical role in reducing childhood mortality with an estimated 7.5 million lives saved over the last ten years.

Increased routine vaccination for measles, bacterial meningitis, tetanus, diphtheria, polio, pertussis, yellow fever and rotavirus greatly improved with better coordination, discrete budget sources and additional outside funding from groups like the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI). For newly introduced vaccines and old, efforts must focus on further increasing routine coverage of immunization through the broad array of strategies that have proved themselves successful, including targeted community campaigns, child health days and immunization weeks.

Diarrhea and respiratory infections are the two most common causes of pediatric deaths. Infectious diseases can also impair physical and mental development among survivors. Malaria during pregnancy can result in low-birthweight babies and cognitive defects. Parasitic infections can lead to malnutrition, stunted growth and chronic pain.

World Health Organization, The Global Burden of Disease 2004 Update, Geneva: 2009    Read More…..


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Bombing in India Kills 15

Indian police search for evidence in dual bomb attack that killed 15 people in southern city



An Indian investigative official takes photographs of the debris at one of the two bomb blast sites, in Hyderabad, India, early Friday, Feb. 22, 2013. A pair of bombs exploded Thursday evening in a crowded shopping area in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad, killing at least 12 people and wounding scores of others in the worst bombing in the country in more than a year, officials said. (AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi) (The Associated Press)


An official of India’s National Investigation Agency collects evidence from the debris at one of the two bomb blast sites, in Hyderabad, India, early Friday, Feb. 22, 2013. A pair of bombs exploded Thursday evening in a crowded shopping area in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad, killing at least 12 people and wounding scores of others in the worst bombing in the country in more than a year, officials said. (AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi)(The Associated Press)


An Indian woman Sujatha, wails after seeing her husband Venkateshwarulu’s body, unseen, killed in bomb blast, at a mortuary at Government hospital in Hyderabad, India, Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013. A pair of bombs exploded Thursday evening in a crowded shopping area in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad, killing several people and wounding many in the worst bombing in the country in more than a year, officials said. (AP Photo/Mahesh Kumar A.) (The Associated Press)


Damaged two wheelers lie near the site of a bomb blast in Hyderabad, India, Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013. A pair of bombs exploded Thursday evening in a crowded shopping area in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad, killing several people and wounding many in the worst bombing in the country in more than a year, officials said. (AP Photo/Mahesh Kumar A.) (The Associated Press)


People and police officers stand at the spot after a bomb blast in Hyderabad, India, Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013. A pair of bombs exploded Thursday evening in a crowded shopping area in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad, killing several people and wounding many in the worst bombing in the country in more than a year, officials said. (AP Photo/Mahesh Kumar A.) (The Associated Press)

HYDERABAD, India –  Indian police investigating a dual bomb attack that killed 15 people outside a movie theater and a bus station in the southern city of Hyderabad were searching for links to a shadowy Islamic militant group with reported ties to Pakistan, an official said Friday.

Officials were examining whether the Indian Mujahideen, which is thought to have a link with militants in neighboring Pakistan, might have carried out the attack, an investigator told The Associated Press, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to reveal details of the probe. India’s recent execution of an Islamic militant is being examined as a possible motive for the bombings, he said.

Police have not yet detained anyone in connection with the Thursday evening attack, the first major terror bombing in India since 2011.

Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said there was a general alert about the possibility of an attack somewhere in India for the past three days. “But there was no specific intelligence about a particular place,” he said as he toured the site Friday morning.

The bombs were attached to two bicycles about 150 meters (500 feet) apart in Hyderabad’s Dilsukh Nagar district, Shinde said. He said in addition to the dead, 119 others were injured.

The bombs exploded minutes apart in a crowded shopping area. The blasts shattered storefronts, scattered food and plates from roadside restaurants and left tangles of dead bodies. Passersby rushed the wounded to hospitals.

“This is a dastardly attack; the guilty will not go unpunished,” Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said. He appealed to the public to remain calm.

Top state police officer V. Dinesh Reddy said improvised explosive devices with nitrogen compound were used in the blasts, which he blamed on a “terrorist network.”

On Friday morning, police with cameras, gloves and plastic evidence bags used pointers to gingerly look through the debris. Officials from the National Investigation Agency and commandos of the National Security Guards arrived from New Delhi to help with the investigation.

India has been under a heightened state of alert over the hanging of Mohammed Afzal Guru, a Kashmiri militant nearly two weeks ago. He was executed for his involvement in a 2001 attack on India’s Parliament that killed 14 people, including five of the gunmen.

Since the execution, near-daily protests have rocked Indian-ruled Kashmir, where many people believe Guru did not receive a fair trial. Anger in a region where anti-India sentiment runs deep was further fueled by the secrecy with which the execution was carried out.

Mahesh Kumar, a 21-year-old student, was heading home from a tutoring class when one of the bombs went off.

“I heard a huge sound and something hit me, I fell down, and somebody brought me to the hospital,” said Kumar, who suffered shrapnel wounds.

Hyderabad, a city of 10 million in the state of Andhra Pradesh, is a hub of India’s information technology industry and has a mixed population of Muslims and Hindus.

“This (attack) is to disturb the peaceful living of all communities in Andhra Pradesh,” said Kiran Kumar Reddy, the state’s chief minister.

The explosions were the first major terror attack in since a September 2011 blast outside the High Court in New Delhi killed 13 people. The government has been heavily criticized for its failure to arrest the masterminds behind previous bombings.

The attack was the second bombing in the Hindu-dominated area, following a 2000 blast outside a Hindu temple that killed two people. In 2007, a twin bombing killed 40 people in two other Hyderabad districts.

The United States, whose Secretary of State John Kerry was meeting Thursday in Washington with Indian Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai, condemned the attack.

“The United States stands with India in combating the scourge of terrorism and we also prepared to offer any and all assistance Indian authorities may need,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told a news briefing.

Rana Banerji, a former security official, said India remains vulnerable to such attacks because there is poor coordination between the national government and the states. Police reforms are also moving very slowly and the quality of intelligence gathering is poor, he said.

“The concept of homeland security should be made effective, on a war footing,” he said.


Associated Press writers Ashok Sharma in New Delhi and Matthew Pennington in Washington contributed to this report.


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Hepatitis E taking toll on South Sudan refugee camps, UN agency reports

An older Sudanese refugee receives medical treatment at a camp in Southern Sudan. UNHCR/B. Sokol

15 February 2013 – The United Nations refugee agency said today that it is seeing a large number of Hepatitis E cases in refugee camps in South Sudan, with over 6,000 cases – and 111 deaths – since July.

The largest number of cases and suspected cases, almost 70 per cent, is in the Yusuf Batil camp in Upper Nile state which holds 37,229 refugees, according to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Other camps in Upper Nile state – Jamam, Gendrassa and Doro – have recorded nearly 2,000 cases and 30 deaths. Further west, in Unity state, 125 cases or suspected cases and four deaths have been recorded at the Yida site, which, with a population of 65,541 people, holds the largest number of refugees in South Sudan.

“The majority of refugees in camps where the disease is most widespread are from Blue Nile state, an isolated rural area in Sudan where there are few established toilet facilities and uncontaminated water is not readily available,” said UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards.

“UNHCR believes the growth in the population due to the refugee influx from Blue Nile could be one of the factors in the rapid spread of the disease,” he told reporters in Geneva.

The risk of being infected with Hepatitis E – for which there is no treatment or vaccine approved by the World Health Organization (WHO) – can be dramatically reduced by washing hands with soap, especially after using the toilet, drinking clean water, using latrines, and avoiding eating uncooked fruits and vegetables. Hepatitis E is a virus that damages the liver, and is transmitted by consuming contaminated food or water.

UNHCR said emergency measures are being taken to curb the increase, with about 70 per cent of the 701 latrines under construction in Yusuf Batil completed and the remainder expected to be operating by this weekend. In the Doro Camp region, 65 per cent of the 323 latrines being built in the most affected areas around the Jumjum and Ingasana villages have been completed so far. Soap distributions are also being carried out, in addition to enhanced disease surveillance and water chlorination.

There are currently 112,981 Sudanese refugees in South Sudan’s Upper Nile and Unity states, according to UNHCR.


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