YOUR DAILY WEEKLY READER: AIDS crash, reef acids and Republican rape-mongers


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BECAUSE A HORRIFYING PLANE CRASH WASN’T ENOUGH BAD NEWS: “The Malaysian passenger plane that was shot down over Ukraine on Thursday was carrying more than 100 public health experts on their way to a prominent international meeting on AIDS, according to several news reports. Their deaths have prompted an outpouring of grief from the scientific community. Those passengers were on their way to the 20th International AIDS Conference, which begins on Sunday in Melbourne, Australia. The group hosting the event expressed its “sincere sadness” at receiving the news in a statement released on the afternoon of Malaysia Airlines MH17?s fatal crash. According to the Associated Press, the exact number of individuals who were killed on their way to the conference is unconfirmed. However, Australian officials have noted that “there is no doubt it’s a substantial number” that includes “medical scientists, doctors, people who’ve been to the forefront of dealing with AIDS across the world.” “The cure for AIDS may have been on that plane, we just don’t know,” Trevor Stratton, an HIV/AIDS consultant who in Sydney for a pre-conference event, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. The plane’s passengers included Joep Lange, the former president of the International AIDS Society and a tireless advocate for expanding access to affordable HIV treatment in impoverished countries. Lange had studied HIV/AIDS for more than three decades, and the Dutch researcher was considered to be a giant in the field. “He’s one of the icons of the whole area of research. His loss is massive,” Richard Boyd, a professor of immunology in Melbourne, told Reuters. Another passenger was Glenn Thomas, a media relations coordinator at the World Health Organization (WHO) who had been with the group for more than a decade. Several other WHO staffers were also en route to the conference, and the organization is waiting for confirmation about whether they were also on board the MH17 flight.” (via Think Progress)


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WHO REALLY CARES ABOUT THE CORAL REEFS? IT’S ONLY A BIT OF ACID: “This weekend, thousands of people will enjoy Florida’s beaches, but many may not realize the saltwater they're swimming in is becoming increasingly acidic. Another unpleasant side effect of global warming, ocean acidification is a steady decrease in the pH levels of ocean water, and scientists say it's caused by an increase of carbon dioxide. While greater acidity has minimal direct impact on human health, Derek Manzello, research oceanographer for the Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory in Miami, says the state's coral reefs are suffering the most. "We're concerned that as we move forward into a high-CO2 world, we're going to see coral reefs becoming erosional features and basically, degrading over time," he says. Weakened reefs affect the organisms that depend on them. And Manzello and other scientists also point out that with less healthy growth, coral reefs off the Florida coast and around the world will offer less protection to coastlines in the event of severe weather. Manzello says the increased acidity has potential to weaken the state's fishing economy, with many types of high-value marine life found in and around the state's coral reefs. "Reef structures are home to a lot of economically important species, like spiny lobsters, stone crabs, many fishes," he points out.” (via Public News Service)


CHIKUNGUNYA GET YA: “Health officials say a mosquito-borne illness that had afflicted Floridians who traveled to the Caribbean has now been transmitted within the state. The Florida Department of Health on Thursday reported the first locally acquired cases of Chikungunya. A 41-year-old woman in Miami-Dade County and a 50-year-old man in Palm Beach County are out of the hospital and recovering from the illness, which is serious but rarely fatal. This year, 81 cases of Chikungunya have been identified in Florida, including 15 diagnosed this week. Until Thursday’s announcement, all the cases had been contracted by people who had been traveling in the Caribbean. These two cases are the first locally acquired infections in the continental United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As of Tuesday, the case count in the U.S. and its territories was 357.  Of those, 123 were locally-transmitted, all in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, the CDC said. There’s only one way to get infected, said Celeste Philip, DOH assistant director of public health. That is to be bitten by a mosquito that previously bit someone carrying the Chikungunya virus. “What is important to remember is that Chikungunya is not contagious from person to person. It is not typically life threatening and will likely resolve on its own,” she said. Chikungunya is rarely fatal, but can leave long-lasting symptoms. Fever and joint pain are usually the first symptoms of infection, and they appear between three and seven days of being bitten.” (via Health News Florida)


THE PART WHERE REPUBLICAN EXTREMISTS COMPLETELY LOSE THEIR MINDS AND START CALLING KIDS ‘RAPISTS.’ WORST PEOPLE IN THE WORLD ALERT: “It's estimated that 60,000 to 80,000 unaccompanied and undocumented minors will cross the border seeking sanctuary from violence and adversity, a number only exceeded by the number of tales told by right wing politicians and pundits of the unspeakable horrors that these children supposedly bring with them. Along with disease and general sadness, apparently migrant children are also going to bring rape.  "Our continued existence is at risk with what’s going on at the southern border," exclaimed Rep. Louie Gohmert, a Republican from Texas, during a House speech on Tuesday where he accused the Obama administration of causing the influx of new immigrants, many of whom are children, by being too lax with border security. "And they’ve committed at least 7,695 sexual assaults. You want to talk about a war on women? This administration will not defend the women of America from criminal aliens! By the thousands, and hundreds of thousands!" In a CNN segment on the immigration crisis Tuesday, Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota exclaimed, “My heart is broken for a female college student in Minnesota who was raped, murdered and mutilated by a foreign national who came into our country.” Florida Republican Rep. Rich Nugent also shared these statements on WOCA radio on Monday, saying, “Listen, if you’re 14, 15, 16, 17 years old, and you’re coming from a country that’s gang-infested — particularly with MS-13 types, that is the most aggressive of all the street gangs — when you have those types coming across the border, they’re not children at that point.” He added, “These kids have been brought up in a culture of thievery. A culture of murder, of rape. And now we are going to infuse them into the American culture. It’s just ludicrous.” None of these politicians had any actual evidence to suggest that migrants are coming into this country to rape us. In fact, migrants trying to get into the country are often victims of sexual violence themselves, with many of them enduring sexual assault at the hands of “coyotes” who are paid to smuggle them into the country. Many of the young girls are trying to escape being repeatedly raped and forced to be non-consenting girlfriends to members of gangs. If any of these politicians were actually concerned about rape, or the culture of rape that Nugent points to, they’d be demanding political amnesty for people running away from gang violence.” (via Slate)


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