Monday, January 31, 2005

Vietnam bird flu deaths increase

BBC NEWS story :

"A 10-year-old girl has died of bird flu in Vietnam, the country's 12th confirmed victim in a month. "

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Investing in Development: A Practical Plan to Achieving the Millennium Development Goals

The Millennium Project

This is te new report of the Milllennium Development Project, on how the world can efficiently mobilize to attain the Millennium Development Goals.

Monday, January 10, 2005

How do tsunamis differ from other water waves?

How do tsunamis differ from other water waves?:

"Tsunamis are unlike wind-generated waves, which many of us may have observed on a local lake or at a coastal beach, in that they are characterized as shallow-water waves, with long periods and wave lengths. The wind-generated swell one sees at a California beach, for example, spawned by a storm out in the Pacific and rhythmically rolling in, one wave after another, might have a period of about 10 seconds and a wave length of 150 m. A tsunami, on the other hand, can have a wavelength in excess of 100 km and period on the order of one hour."

I had not realized that tsunami's have so long a wave length. The article emphasizes the speed and conservation of energy of such a wave crossing the ocean. But think also that a tsunami with a wave length of 100 km, would have higher than average magnitude for 50 km. If you think of a ten-meter high wave, say a thousand km long, that is a lot of water.

700 km per hour, and 50 km long swell means that water would keep piling up on the land for several munutes, then fall away for several minutes, with another several minutes of a second tidal wave following.

Looking at the wind-driven waves at the beach is in no way preparatory for thinking of a tidal wave!

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Vaccine against deadly rotavirus launched in Mexico

Boston Globe article

"A new vaccine against the rotavirus, which can cause fatal illness in children, is being launched this week in Mexico rather than in the developed world, marking a sea change in how major companies market drugs worldwide.....

"This is the first time a drug company has sidestepped US and European regulators, allowing it to get out the drug in time for the peak infection season in one region where the disease is deadliest, and to beat competitors working on similar vaccines.

"Heralded as a public health breakthrough that could significantly dent child mortality, the vaccine's global launch in Mexico sets a new model for bringing such remedies first to poorer populations often ravaged by preventable diseases."

Thursday, January 06, 2005

New Scientist - Tsunami warning system is not simply sensors

New Scientist article:

"A sensor network capable of detecting an oceanic earthquake and an impending tsunami in the Indian Ocean is feasible, say experts, but will be useless unless backed by improved communications infrastructure in the countries in greatest peril."

Innovation: Applying Knowledge in Development

Advanced copy of the report

This is an advanced copy of the final version of a report of the Task Force on Science, Technology and Development of the Millennium Project. It should be influential in the next few years.

The shifting politics of global giving | article

Interesting article, noting that India is not accepting foreign assistance for tsunami relief, and Thailand has turned down debt relief at this time to assure its strong credit rating in the future. India and China have joined the ranks of donors.

While the U.S. is 4th on the list of donors of official tsunami relief, it is not in the top ten in per capita donation.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Avoiding a Catastrophe Of Human Error article:

"We live on a planet of extremes and cataclysm. A year to the day before the Dec. 26 tsunami, whose death toll has surpassed 150,000, the Bam earthquake in Iran killed 46,000 people, injured 20,000 and left 60,000 homeless. In India the Gujarat earthquake of 2001 resulted in more than 20,000 deaths and 167,000 injuries. In 1998 Central America lost 10,000 lives to Hurricane Mitch. The 1976 Tangshan earthquake in China killed 250,000."

William Hooke chairs the Disaster Roundtable of the National Academies of Science-National Research Council. His prescription:

• Monitor,
• Warn,
• Prepare the public,
• Adopt less risky behavior, and
• Focus on social equity

5th Global Forum on Bioethics in Research

Global Forum website

"The Global Forum on Bioethics in Research was established in 1999 to bring together individuals, public and private organizations involved in medical research from "North" and "South" to share views on bioethics issues in research. The objective of Global Forum meetings is to bring together stakeholders from both developing and developed countries to debate the ethical, social and legal issues related to biomedical research in international settings. This process is invaluable for researchers, funding organizations and collaborators in research in diverse settings. Many issues identified are the target of future work and collaborative solutions among developing and developed country representatives. Approximately two-thirds of the participants are from the developing world, representing 30 to 40 countries."

"Will 2005 be the year of 'science for development'?"

SciDev.Net editorial

"There have recently been encouraging signs that science and technology are climbing back on to the international development agenda. The tsunami disaster in the Indian Ocean has only underlined the urgency."

"US allows publication of 'banned' scientific papers"

SciDev.Net article

"The United States has agreed to permit publishers to print scientific papers and other academic material from countries - such as Cuba, Iran and Sudan - on which it has imposed trade sanctions."

GM boom 'could spell economic growth for poor nations'

SciDev.Net article

"Developing countries are playing an important role in the expansion of genetically modified (GM) crops, and are set to play an increasingly important role both in growing and researching the plants in the next ten years, says a report from the Council for Biotechnology Information." Books / Tech Bestsellers Tech Bestsellers Boutique

"The Tech Bestsellers Boutique sells books on networking and security, digital photography, certification, and installing Linux, XP, or both. Save up to 40% on selected titles."

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Can Africa solve African problems? story:

"From conflicts in Sudan, Congo, and Ivory Coast to a boom in Internet use, smooth elections in several countries, and a fresh focus on women and AIDS, the headlines in 2004 gave cause for celebration - and concern. For 2005, one theme stands out: Africa tackling its problems without much outside help. "

Wolfensohn Confirms Plan to Leave World Bank article:

The Bush Administration has effective control over the naming of Wolfensohn's successor because the United States, as the bank's largest shareholder nation, traditionally chooses an American for the post, while Europeans get to pick one of their own for the head of the International Monetary Fund.

But Rob Nichols, the U.S. assistant treasury secretary for public affairs, confirmed that the administration intends to conduct an "open, candid and transparent" selection process, suggesting that Washington will consult with other member nations and at least try to avoid the appearance of forcing its choice on them.

Wolfensohn, while a U.S. citizen, was born and educated in Australia, and worked in Austalia and the U.K. at times during his career.

Reform urged for World Bank

The Globe and Mail Article:

"The likelihood of an imminent leadership change at the World Bank has sparked renewed calls for reform at the controversial global lender, but some of the institution's supporters fear a dramatic overhaul could paralyze its assistance programs and undermine the fight against poverty."

Monday, January 03, 2005

Technological Opportunities for LDC Acroprocessing

FAO article:

Summary: "Bioprocessing technologies (food fermentations and the use of enzymes) offer tremendous opportunity for stimulating agro-industrial development in developing countries. These technologies are scaleable, economical, generally environmentally friendly, and are applicable in preserving and enhancing the nutritional quality and safety of foods. Optimisation of bioreactor processes and improvement of the quality of biological inoculants applied in bioprocessing, pose major challenges to the development of bioprocessing technologies in developing countries. "

"The Road Traffic Injury Epidemic in the Developing World"

The Bone-Joint Decade article:

"Annually, 800,000 people die and 10-15 million are injured or permanently disabled from accidents on the world's roads. Under- reporting of injuries is common in the developing world and these estimates may represent only half the true number. Seventy five percent of the fatalities and injuries occur in the developing world and the problem is growing......

"The World Bank estimates that the annual cost of traffic accidents in the developing countries is 100 billion US dollars. As the combination of all forms of foreign loans and aid totals 60 billion US dollars, it is clear that road traffic accidents are seriously undermining economic and social development in these countries." | Tony Blair | Tony Blair (Subscription required.)

The British Prime Minister cites Africa and Climate Change as the two greatest international challenges, as the UK assumes the presidency of the G8.

Emergency disaster summit to discuss Indian Ocean tsunami warning system

Yahoo! News story 2005 - 01 - 02:

"An emergency summit of world leaders in Jakarta to rally aid for disaster-hit countries will also discuss setting up an Indian Ocean tsunami warning system to prevent further tragedy, Indonesia said. "

Sunday, January 02, 2005

The New York Times - Gauging Disaster: How Scientists and Victims Watched Helplessly

The New York Times article, January 2, 2005 (Registration required.)

While the infrastructure for tsunami prediction existed, and could relatively easily have been adapted to the Indian Ocean, it had not been so adapted, and tens of thousands died. This New York Times article traces what happened in the scientific labs, and the frustrations of knowing a disaster was unfolding without the ability to warn those to be affected.