U.S. Attempts to Fight Ebola, Ukraine Ratifies Landmark Deal Amid Russian Sanctions and U.S. Steps Up Plans to Fight ISIS as al-Qaeda Expands

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The ravages of the Ebola virus can easily be seen in West Africa six months on, but the outbreak has become more dire in recent weeks as death tolls rise and health officials warn of a potential global disaster. In an effort to contain the virus, the United States will send thousands of military personnel to aid the region’s crippled health care system which marks a major milestone in the effort to fight the disease. Nick Robins Early reports, 14 Numbers That Show The Magnitude Of The World’s Worst Ebola Outbreak, how devastating the medical crisis has become in West Africa through a collection of revealing stats on the fight against Ebola. The numbers are as follows:

2,400 – The number of estimated Ebola deaths as of Sept. 12, 2014.

4,784 – The total number of Ebola cases reported as of Sept. 12, 2014. Due to many unreported cases, this figure is thought to be less than the actual number of people infected with the virus.

2 – The age of the Guinean boy who some researchers think may have been “patient zero” in the Ebola outbreak. Scientists believe humans originally caught the virus from a sick animal.

5 – The number of West African nations that have reported cases of Ebola. A sixth nation, the Democratic Republic of Congo, has also suffered from an Ebola outbreak, although it is a different strain from the one that originated in Guinea.

12-18 – The number of months that U.S. scientists predict the outbreak will last under current conditions.

20,000 – The number of Ebola cases that the World Health Organization estimates could occur by the time the virus is contained. It should be noted, however, that these type of long-term projections are prone to uncertainties and can vary. A recent New York Times report says that researchers at various universities predict the number could be more like 20,000 in a single month.

12,750 – The total number of health workers that the World Health Organization has called for in order to stem the outbreak and treat people infected with the virus.

3,000 – The number of U.S. military personnel that the United States is expected to send to West Africa to assist in medical training, distribution of aid and the building of health care facilities.

$1,000,000,000 – The estimated global resources needed for the next six months in the fight against Ebola, according to U.N. officials. This is a 10-fold increase from just a month ago, and is what the U.N. says is needed just to keep the outbreak contained to tens of thousands of people.

400,000 – The number of home protective kits that the United States reportedly plans to distribute to the four West African nations most affected by the outbreak.

178 – The number of days since the outbreak was first reported to the World Health Organization by Guinea’s health officials.

52 percent – The approximate fatality rate of the current Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Given access to proper medical treatment, especially adequate fluid replacement, the fatality rate of the Ebola outbreak can be significantly lowered.

1,700 – The number of beds that the new U.S. aid effort will reportedly aim to set up in Liberia, one of the hardest hit nations.

0 – The number of beds currently available to treat Ebola patients in Liberia, according to World Health Organization director general Margaret Chan.

The Obama administration is preparing to send 3,000 U.S. military personnel to West Africa to aid in the Ebola crisis and supply logistical and medical support to local health care systems and boost the number of beds needed to isolate and treat patients, according to Jim Kuhnhenn, US to assign 3,000 from US military to fight Ebola. President Obama announced the effort Tuesday during a visit to the federal Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta as the outbreak could spread and mutate into more easily transmitted disease. The announcement comes amid regional and aid organization appeals for the U.S. to increase their role in com batting the outbreak that has claimed 2,200 people. Administration officials said Monday that the new initiatives aim to:

– Train as many as 500 health care workers a week.

– Erect 17 heath care facilities in the region of 100 beds each.

– Set up a joint command headquartered in Monrovia, Liberia, to coordinate between U.S. and international relief efforts.

– Provide home health care kits to hundreds of thousands of households, including 50,000 that the U.S. Agency for International Development will deliver to Liberia this week.

– Carry out a home- and community-based campaign to train local populations on how to handle exposed patients.

The officials, under the condition of anonymity, said the plan would cost $500 million in overseas contingency operations, such as the war in Afghanistan, that the Pentagon already has asked Congress to redirect to carry out humanitarian efforts in Iraq and in West Africa. In addition, they said it would take two weeks to get U.S. forces on the ground. Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations African affairs subcommittee, said, “This humanitarian intervention should serve as a firewall against a global security crisis that has the potential to reach American soil.” The countries hardest hit include Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, while the virus has reached Nigeria and Senegal. The U.S. will provide medics and corpsmen for treatment and training, engineers to help erect the treatment facilities and specialists in logistics to assist in patient transportation. The visit to the CDC by Obama came a day after the U.S. demanded international aid response to step up. U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, called Monday for an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council on Thursday, warning that the potential risk of the virus could “set the countries of West Africa back a generation.” The meeting Thursday with the Security Council marks a rare occasion when a public health crisis is addressed rather than threats to peace and security, according to Power. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was expected to brief the council with World Health Organization chief Dr. Margaret Chan and Dr. David Nabarro, the recently named U.N. coordinator to tackle the disease, as well as representatives from the affected countries. The Senate also weighed in Tuesday with a hearing to examine the U.S. response and an American missionary doctor who survived the disease set to testify. Four Americans have been treated for Ebola in the U.S. after evacuation. The U.S. has already spent $100 million responding to the outbreak and offered to operate treatment centers for patients. Additionally, Obama will be briefed on cases of respiratory illness being reported in the Midwest where public health officials are monitoring a high number of reported illness associated with human enterovirus 68 in Iowa, Kansas, Ohio and elsewhere. Lauran Neergaard reports, Ebola survivor: No time to waste as Obama ups aid, on Tuesday, Dr. Kent Brantly told senators: “We can’t afford to wait months, or even weeks, to take action, to put people on the ground.” Under the plan, the government could end up spending $1 billion to contain the disease. Obama after his briefing with doctors from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and from Emory University, he said: “If the outbreak is not stopped now, we could be looking at hundreds of thousands of people affected, with profound economic, political and security implications for all of us.” World Health Organization Director-General Margaret Chan said, “This massive ramp-up of support from the United States is precisely the kind of transformational change we need to get a grip on the outbreak and begin to turn it around.” Brice de le Vingne, director of operations for Doctors without Borders, said, “The response to Ebola continues to fall dangerously behind and too many lives are being lost. We need more countries to stand up, we need greater concrete action on the ground, and we need it now.” U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed Obama’s plan, his spokesman said in a statement, and called on the international community “to be as bold and courageous in its response as those who are on the front lines fighting this disease.” Congress still needs to vote on Obama’s request for $88 million more to help fight the disease including funding CDC work in West Africa through December and speeding development of experimental treatments and vaccines. Late Tuesday, the Obama administration submitted a request to reprogram $500 million in Pentagon money for the Ebola effort. Meanwhile in Britain, the Associated Press reports, 1st UK volunteer gets experimental Ebola vaccine, a former nurse has become the first person in the country to receive an experimental Ebola vaccine in an early trial to test its safety. Ruth Atkins, 48, received the shot Wednesday in Oxford, the first of 60 healthy volunteers in the U.K. who will receive the vaccine developed by the U.S. National Institutes of Health and GlaxoSmithKline and targets the Zaire strain of Ebola that caused the ongoing outbreak in West Africa. A trial of the same vaccine has already begun in the U.S. The vaccine is meant to spark the immune system’s production of Ebola antibodies and does not contain infectious material. In a statement, trial leader Adrian Hill of Oxford University, said, “Witnessing the events in Africa makes it clear that developing new drugs and vaccines against Ebola should now be an urgent priority.” Hill and colleagues hope the trial will finish at the end of 2014 and could be used to vaccinate health workers in West African if proven safe and effective. Faith Karimi reports, Ebola patients buying survivors’ blood from black market, WHO warns, desperate patients are buying blood from survivors of the virus on the black market, the World Health Organization warns. The WHO reports, “Studies suggest blood transfusions from survivors might prevent or treat Ebola virus infection in others, but the results of the studies are still difficult to interpret. It is not known whether antibodies in the plasma of survivors are sufficient to treat or prevent the disease. More research is needed.” Convalescent serum used to treat patients such as American aid worker Rick Sacra who received blood from Kent Brantly who survived Ebola has been effective. However, patients in affected nations are getting blood through improper channels which could lead to the spread of other infections such as HIV and other blood related ailments. Margaret Chan, the WHO’s director general, said this week: “We need to work very closely with the affected countries to stem out black market trading of convalescent serum for two reasons. Because it is in the interest of individuals not to just get convalescent serum without … going through the proper standard and the proper testing because it is important that there may be other infectious vectors that we need to look at.” Meanwhile, a French volunteer with Doctors Without Borders contracted Ebola in Liberia and will be taken for treatment in France by a private American plan, according to the organization.

In Ukraine, on Tuesday, lawmakers strengthened their ties to Europe and loosened control over the country’s rebellious east region where fighting between government forces and pro-Russian rebels has left 3,000 people dead and returned Western and Russian relations back to the Cold War era, the Associate Press reports, Ukraine lawmakers ratify landmark deal with Europe. The deal lowers trade tariffs between Europe and Ukraine. requires Ukrainian goods to meet European regulatory standards and forces Kiev to undertake major political and economic reforms. President Petro Poroshenko called the vote a “first but very decisive step” toward bringing Ukraine fully into the European Union. In a live broadcast after the deal was made, Poroshenko said the protesters who died in clashes with riot police in Kiev and government troops who died fighting the rebels “have died not only for their motherland. They gave up their lives for us to take a dignified place among the European family.” He continued, “After World War II, not a single nation has paid such a high price for their right to be European. Can you tell me, who now after this will be brave enough to shut the doors to Europe in front of Ukraine?” Earlier Tuesday, parliament also approved laws granting temporary self rule to pro-Russian region in the east as well as amnesty for those involved in the fighting. One law calls for three years of self rule in parts of eastern Ukraine and for local elections in November. A separate bill calls for amnesty for those involved in the fighting in the east, but not those suspected or charged with crimes including murder, sabotage, rape, kidnapping and terrorism. The law could exclude those who tried to kill Ukrainian law enforcement officials and servicemen meaning many of the separatists who waged war for five months. Although Poroshenko did not mention the bills in his speech, he later said according to Interfax-Ukraine that he felt “we are obliged to take a step to ensure that the other side takes corresponding steps” toward peace. Alexander Zakharchenko, the leader of the rebels in the Donetsk region, told Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency that the separatist leadership would study the measures, an unusually conciliatory statement compared to the rebels’ previous assertions that they aim for complete independence. The U.S. state Department and Vicd President Joe Biden congratulated Ukrainian lawmakers and leaders. Marie Harf, deputy spokeswoman at the State Department, said, “By forging ahead with this agreement in the face of great challenges, Ukraine’s leaders have carried out the will of the Ukrainian people, who demonstrated their overwhelming support for further integration with Europe last winter and with their votes in the May 25 presidential elections.” The passage of the measures came as Poroshenko begins his first state visit to Canada and the U.S., where he will address a joint session of Congress on Thursday and is also scheduled to speak to the U.N. General Assembly next week. Martin Schulz, the president of the EU Parliament, said, “The message this sends could not be clearer: the European Parliament supports Ukraine in its European vocation. The European Parliament will continue defending a united and sovereign Ukraine.” Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu on Tuesday said the military will increase its forces in Crimea due to the “exacerbation of situation in Ukraine and increased foreign military presence near our borders.” Also on Tuesday, Nataliya Vasilyeva reports, Russian ruble drops to historic low amid sanctions, Russian currency dropped to all time low against the dollars as investors worry bout the fallout of economic sanctions. The United States and the European Union last week imposed a new round of sanctions against Russia for its action in Ukraine such as blocking off Western financial markets to key Russian companies and limiting imports of some technologies. Economist Alexei Kudrin, who served as finance minister under President Vladimir Putin for 11 years until 2011, said Tuesday that the sanctions could send Russia’s economy into recession for one or two years. Interfax quoted him as saying, “The sanctions that have been imposed are going to have an effect (on the economy) for the next one or two years because they have limited opportunities for investment in this uncertain environment.” Vasilyeva reports: “Among the most recent sanctions, the United States on Friday tightened the maximum credit duration for a number state-owned Russian companies and banks to 30 days, effectively shutting off Russia from long-term loans. The U.S. and the EU indicated, however, they may reverse some of the sanctions if they see that Moscow is supporting peace process in Ukraine, where more than 3,000 died since mid-April.” Jitters over the impact of the US. EU sanctions were fueled by reports that the Russian government is preparing more import bans that could hurt Russian consumer spending. Russian in August imposed an import ban on dairy products, meat and vegetables from the European Union and the United States, causing prices to shoot up for selected foods.

While Ukraine tries to rebuild a fragile and devastated government, the U.S. continues to implement its plan for ISIS. U.S. officials on Monday said the United States took its first step in its plan to expand the fight against the extremist group, going to the aid of Iraqi security forces near Baghdad who were under attack, the Associated Press reports, First U.S. airstrikes in expanded Iraq fight. The U.S. Central Command said on Sunday two airstrikes were conducted in support of Iraqi forces near Sinjar and southwest Baghdad. The strikes authorized by President Barack Obama represent a new offensive against the group to protect not only U.S. interest and personnel, but directly support Iraqi forces fighting militants. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced plans to stop American extremist from joining terrorist groups like ISIS during a presentation Monday, but details are a little fuzzy, according to the AOL article, Holder announces plan to stop Americans from joining ISIS. HOLDER VIA U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE: “Ultimately the pilot programs will enable us to develop more effective and inclusive ways to build a more just, secure and free society that all Americans deserve.” He said his plan will bring together community representatives, public safety officials, religious leaders and U.S. attorneys in hopes of building a broad network to keep the nation safe. Other nations have taken steps involving local officials such as British Prime Minister David Cameron who asked his government to pass legislation that allows law enforcement to seize the passport of anyone suspected of traveling to support ISIS, while Germany banned its citizens from any activities supporting the group. The International Centre for Radicalization estimates more than 11,000 Western Europeans have traveled to fight with Syrian rebels. Maria Golovnna reports, New al Qaeda wing in South Asia claims major attack, Al Qaeda’s South Asia wing has claimed responsibility for hijacking a Pakistani naval ship and trying to use it to fire rockets at U.S. vessels in the Arabian Sea, in the first major assault by the newly created group. The SITE monitoring service quoted its spokesman, Usama Mahmoud, said: “These mujahideen had taken control of the Pakistani ship, and they were advancing towards the American fleet when the Pakistani army stopped them. As a result, the mujahideen, the lions of Allah and benefactors of the Ummah, sacrificed their lives for Allah, and the Pakistani soldiers spoiled their hereafter by giving up their lives in defense of the enemies of the Ummah the Americans.” The naval yard on Pakistan’s Arabian Sea coast is a strategic facility at the cent of the U.S. Pakistani security, anti-terrorism and anti-trafficking cooperation. The Pakistani Taliban, allied with al-Qaeda, said the Sept.6 attack was carried out with the help of insiders leading to the arrest of a number of navy personnel on suspicion of collaborating with attackers. Back in the U.S., Republican controlled House voted to give U.S. military authority to train and arm Syrian rebels Wednesday, David Espo and Donna Cassata report, House grudgingly approves arms for Syrian rebels. The provision will be added to spending legislation to assure the federal government runs normally after Sept.30 end of the budget year and final approval in the Senate may come as earl as Thursday. It grants Obama authority until Dec.11 and gives Congress plenty of time to return to the issue in a post-election session set to begin mid-November. The Senate will vote only once on the legislation combining approval for arming and training rebels with the no shutdown federal spending provisions. Testifying before a Senate Committee, Secretary of State John Kerry said the forces seeking to create an Islamic state ” must be defeated. Period. End of story.” The legislation also includes $88 million to combat the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa. In France, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said Wednesday that his country was ready to take part int he airstrikes in Iraq if needed, the Associated Press reports, France ready to participate in Iraq airstrikes. He spoke in Paris before President Barack Obama was expected to outline Washington’s plans for fighting the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq. France has said it will join a U.S. led coalition in Iraq and send arms to Kurdish authorities to fight militants. The French president and foreign minister are going to Iraq Friday and hosting an international conference Monday on how to stop the group and help Iraq. Fabius said that “we will participate, if necessary, in military air action” in Iraq, according to a text provided by the French Foreign Ministry. Earlier, Fabius said people should not refer to the group as the Islamic State since they do not represent Islam or a state and started to refer to the group Wednesday as Daesh, the acronym in Arabic for its full former name, Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. Speaking to lawmakers, Fabius said “the determination of the Daesh butchers is strong. Ours must be even stronger.” Egypt’s top Islamic authority also said the group should not be called the Islamic State.

Cheers and Prayers Erupt Nationwide As the Boston Manhunt Ends Friday

Friday night ended with the capture of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev wanted in connection with the Boston Marathon bombing Monday according to Boston Police Department. According to the Associated Press, authorities say the suspect, along with his slain 26 year old brother, killed an MIT police officer, severely wounded another lawman and hurled explosives at police in a car chase and gun battle. Law enforcement responded to gunfire around 7 p.m. in Watertown, Mass. an hour after lifting the lockdown on the area where Tsarnaev, 19, was hiding in a small boat. Police cornered the suspect not so far from the shootout the previous night that killed his brother and accomplice, Tamerlan Tsarnaev. The AP reports the suspects were identified as ethnic ChenChen brothers living in Dagestan neighboring Chechnya in Southern Russia, but had moved to the U.S. a decade ago living in Cambridge, Mass.

David Henneberry was not trying to be a hero when he spotted the 19 year old suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, near his boat following a shootout earlier on Friday. Henneberry tipped off police leading to the capture of the suspect Friday night. Speaking to the “Today” show, family spokesman Robert Duffy described how his stepfather came across the wanted suspect in his 20 foot boat in the backyard. Duffy explained that his mother and David stepped into the backyard to get some air after the ban was lifted and noticed the tarp over the boat was flapping in the wind. He decided to take a closer look at saw the retention strips were cut not worn, so he decided to take a closer look inside the boat noticing a small amount of blood. He knew something was wrong, backing off, and calling the police. The family was moved to a safe location while the police investigated the tip  leaving the family with no way to communicate with their family that they were safe.

Soon after the suspect was taken by ambulance to be treated for his wounds, the streets of Watertown erupted with cheers as the manhunt ended with the suspect alive. According to Huff Post, residents were relieved to see the heavily armed ambulance headed east on Mount Auburn Street even though it was unclear who was inside, but the sense of danger was over. A Justice Department Official, according to Huff Post, says the Boston Marathon suspect will not be read his Miranda rights as the government was invoking a public safety exception. Two officials came forward saying the 19 year old will be questioned by a special interrogation team for high value suspects. The public safety rule allows law enforcement to engage in a limited and focused interrogation of a suspect and allows the government to introduce the statement into evidence in court. The rule may be used when police officers find objectively reasonable need to protect the police or public from immediate danger.

Within the few minutes of the news reaching stadiums, televisions and radios around the country, people began to cheer and shout in elation as the bombing suspect was captured alive. When the news finally sunk in about the second bomber being captured in Watertown, the town and crowds around the country cheered with excitement as police radios echoed the words “suspect in custody.” Sports fans rejoiced after learning Friday night of the capture at stadiums around the country. New York’s Citi Field, home of the Mets, saw fans jump to their feet and cheer at the news during the game with the Washington Nationals chanting “USA!USA!” and similar reactions in Houston, Cincinnati and at the St. Louis Blues’ home game against the Dallas Stars. In Watertown, church bells rang as crowds lined the streets with teenagers waving flags, cars honking, and loud cheers as emergency vehicles went by. Hundreds of people marched down Commonwealth Avenue, chanting “USA” and singing the Red Sox Anthem “Sweet Caroline” heading toward Boston Common as the police blocked off traffic to accommodate the impromptu parade. Fans in Arlington, Texas, Anaheim, California, and San Fransisco Giants sang along with the Rangers, Angels and Giants  to the tune also between innings breaks. In Boston’s Dorchester neighborhood, where an 8 year old boy killed in the bombing lived, people set off fireworks in celebration on Friday night.

As people continue to celebrate the capture of the second bomber, many in Boston and around the country are praying not only for the victims of the bombing but for the suspects as well even echoing this sentiment in social media. Prayers for the victims can be seen on twitter, but prayers of another kind are being posted, according to Huff Post, for Tsarnaev. Reverend Manny Alvarez, a preist for the Archdiocese of Miami, tweeted shortly after the arrest that, “A wise young lady just reminded me that as we pray for everyone in Boston, we must pray for this 19 year old too…because we’re Catholic.” CatholicOmnia tweeted from their twitter account: “We also need to remember to pray for the suspect, because we are Catholic. He is also a child of God, after all.” @OpenlyCatholic wrote,”While you’re praying for the suspect, also keep the petitions to heaven going for all the victims of the #BostonBombers , alive and dead.” Besides the clear religiously connected prayers, many other people offered up their elation over the capture even offering up prayers for the suspect as well. In a sleepy town in Kyrgyzstan, where the two brothers lived previously, former neighbors were greeted with shock and disbelief as they recall a quiet family that was never in trouble and two decent, obedient boys.

To Infinity and Beyond…

Stephen Hawking Space

Not just a line of Buzz Lightyear, but a dream for the United States since the beginning of the Space Race. With a changing climate, species becoming extinct and the melting of the ice caps, I think it is about time for a back up plan. Have we not learned anything from movies? They are not all pointless drivel as some of the aspects of our favorite sci-fi movies have come to fruition. Stephen Hawking, a man who spent his career decoding the universe has spoken out and urged the continuation of space exploration for humanity’s sake, while others have taken it upon themselves to continue the mission such as the Inspiration Mars Foundation.

The 71 year old British cosmologist said Tuesday, he believes that humans could not survive another 1,000 years “without escaping beyond our fragile planet” the Associated Press reports. He was speaking to an audience of doctors, nurses, and employees at Cedars Sinai Medical Center where he toured a stem cell lab focused on Lou Gehrig’s disease. Diagnosed with the neurological disorder 50 years ago, Hawking commented, “if you understand how the universe operates, you control it in a way.” His Tuesday hour long talk entitled “A Brief History of Mine” was full of nuggets of advice such as look up at the stars not at your feet and be curious. Hawking even said, “However difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at.”Hawking has survived with Lou Gehrig’s disease or ALS which attacks nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord that control muscles longer than most receiving around the clock care, communicating through twitches and relying on a computer mounted to his wheelchair to convey his thoughts. Hawking has remained active in 2007 he experienced weightlessness by making parabolic dives in an aircraft. Dr. Robert Baloh, director of Cedars Sinai’s ALS programs who invited the cosmologist has no explanation how the physicist has survived for 50 years with the disease where few survive past ten years.

Speaking at the National Space Symposium, members of the Inspiration Mars Foundation described the challenges in launching two people on a 501 day flyby journey to the Red Planet and back in January of 2018 yet remain optimistic. The plan  for the luck two will consist of living in an RV sized space for more than a year, breathe recycled air, eat dehydrated food, drink purified urine and if they die they will be freeze dried in body bags. Even with all of this, application have been rolling in according to Huff Post yet according to Jane Poynter, president of the Paragon Space Development Corp., no show stopping applications yet.

The project is the brain child of Dennis Tito, the first space tourist in 2001, unveiling the plan called “Mission for American” in February. The hope is to send a man and a women possibly a married couple on the journey in January 2018 the ideal time as Earth and Mars  are positioned for a quick trip  and the next opportunity not until 2031. The date also falls on the 11 year solar minimum where the crew will deal with less solar radiation than other launch windows according to officials.  Tito will bank roll the project for the first two years with private donations covering the rest. The ultimate goal of the mission is to inspire Congress to recommit to long distance space travel Tito explained at the National Space Symposium.

The 501 day mission will not touch down on Mars as that requires addition propulsion equipment and science experiments will be kept to a minimum on board, but will prove that humans can explore deep space. The crew on board will collect biological samples from their own bodies so researchers can study the effects of long term space travel and cosmic radiation exposure. Keeping the crew alive is a whole other challenges according to Taber MacCallum, Inspiration Mars’ chief technology officer, as the two voyagers must be mechanically inclined to fix problems that arise during the mission but will require no spacewalks as everything is fixable from the inside. Psychology of the couple will be important as well as Poynter points out that they must be stable as possible in order to avoid the pitfalls of long term space travel like depression, mood swings and hallucinations.

Engineering the World’s Lightest Material

The implications and applications of the material can be world altering as Chinese scientist have created a material so light that when perched on a flower will not crush it. A cubic centimeter of the substance called carbon aerogel has the mass of o.16 milligrams according to a new study by scientists at Zhejang University which makes the material 12 percent lighter than previous record holders at the same volume such as aerographite. According to Huff Post, if the average human body were made entirely of the material instead of flesh and bones then it would weight 1/40th of a pound. Carbon aerogel can absorb up to 900 times its weight in liquid which means it could clean up events such as oil spills and as a durable as well as elastic material could be rather useful material for advanced electronics reports Huff Post according to Dr. Chao Gao a professor of polymer science and engineering. According to Gao the material is quite easy to make as his team started with semi-solid gel of carbon nanotubes and graphene then used a freeze drying process to convert it to a solid. The study was published online in February in Advanced Materials.

Changing the World: Amazing Billboard Produces Water Out of Air (VIDEO)

Billboard In Lima, Peru Creates Drinking Water Out Of Thin Air (VIDEO).

Changing the world one billboard at a time or at least that is the hope for one group of imaginative engineers and I don’t mean Disney. It is no secret that water is in short supply especially in some areas around the world with only three percent of the water in the world potable. At a rapid rate, the world has used  much of the water leading us all eventually into a world water crisis if nothing is done to curb our appetite. What makes it worse is the fact that many of our fresh water canal and underground springs are polluted everyday by large corporations and carelessness killing species that thrive in these areas. The hope here is to take inspiration away from the video and find ways to lessen your footprint on the world by making positive choices and taking responsibility for what man has done. The engineers came up with the idea because of a necessity and scarcity of water available in some parts of the world.

 The University of Engineering and Technology of Peru partnered with the ad agency Mayo DraftFCBand to the first ever billboard to capture   humidity and turn it into potable drinking water in Lima in order to address the area’s water insecurity issues as well as bring a message of hope in the second largest desert capital in the world. The structure was created in order to address the issue of residents being forced to drink polluted water from wells. As one resident of the Bujama District explains, ” They could put this in different places if possible in each village, in each town…the water that gives us life.” Peru gets less than two inches of rain, but has an atmospheric humidity of 98 percent according to the video so the billboard uses reverse osmosis, a water purifying process, in order to produce the water and stores the water in tanks up to 20 liters each providing 9,450 liters in three months.

The implementation of the billboard coincides with a study, published in the Cryosphere journal, showing the Andean glaciers which provides fresh water for the residents of Peru and other countries has shrunk 30 to 50 percent since the 1970s. Antoine Rabatel, one author of the study, explains: “Glacier retreat in the tropical Andes over the last three decades is unprecedented.” With water supplies dwindling due to climate change and a growing population facing food insecurity issues, the billboard provides one innovative solution in a sea of many possibilities. NanoGanesh, for example, allows farmers to use mobile phones to turn off irrigation systems remotely decreasing the use of water and electricity. According to the Associated Press, the UN and other global agencies are calling for greater solutions to the water crisis as 60 percent of the world’s population will be living in cities in the next eight years putting more strain on resources and sanitation. UN Deputy Chief Jan Eliasson had this to say, “If we do water and sanitation right, we can have a great improvement on others goals.” The impact of such technology is vast and the potential to save lives is enormous as the access to potable clean water will reduce maternal health issues, child mortality and overall poverty.

Asteroid Early-Warning System ATLAS Could Warn Against Space Rock Threats

Asteroid Early-Warning System ATLAS Could Warn Against Space Rock Threats.

It’s a bird…it’s a plane…it’s it’s a UFO???? Like their are not enough problems in the world, now space has to give everyone an attitude. Last week was a of spectacular spacial events with a meteor smashing and crashing into Russia, a light show over San Francisco, and astronomers in Australia witnessing an asteroid pass Earth. A week full of coincidences is what scientist are calling it, but it does raise the question why didn’t anyone see it coming? There is no early warning system right now, but many countries believe after last week that a system needs to be in place especially because things could of gone very differently last week. As the meteor smashed into pieces over Russia, one piece manage to crash into a frozen lake instead of a nuclear disposal facility that would of caused greater damage and loss of life. Luckily, the Chelyabinsk, Russia 55 foot asteroid  sent out a shock wave from  its mid air explosion that managed to shatter windows across the area leaving 1,200 people injured and thousands of buildings damaged. What shall we do?

Have no fear, Hawaii has come up with a solution to prevent other close calls like the asteroid 2012 DA14 last week and the unexpected meteor blast over Russia. One team of astronomers at the University of Hawaii is developing a warning system to help safe guard the planet from surprise attacks. The new Asteroid Terrestrial Impact Last Alert System (ATLAS) scheduled to be ready in 2015 will have 8 small telescopes equipped with cameras that are a 100 megapixels in resolution and fixed mounted at one or two locations in the Hawaiian Islands. The system will offer one week warming for a 50 yard asteroid that could wipe out a whole city and three weeks for a 150 yard space rock that could wipe out a whole country. John Tonry, a University of Hawaii astronomer, says that the time allotted will allow time to evacuate the area, take measures to protect the infrastructure, and alert of tsunami dangers generated by ocean impacts. Had the larger asteroid 2012 DA14 hit the Earth, the 130 foot asteroid would of obliterated the city of Chelyabinsk according to scientist and NASA observations. The asteroid on Friday came as close as 17,200 miles of Earth well inside Earth’s communication satellites however it never posed a threat. The ATLAS telescope will scan the skies twice a night in search of objects that may be asteroids. The ATLAS project will receive $5 million in funding over five years from NASA’s Near Earth Observation Program. Besides asteroids, ATLAS will also search for dwarf planets, supernova explosions and other cosmic objects.

 

China Suspected Of Hacking Attacks Against The U.S.

China Suspected Of Hacking Attacks Against The U.S..

Week or so after the cyber attack on Facebook employee’s computers, Apple has reported a breach in their security system as well but after thorough investigation no data had been taken and will release an app to protect against this sort of attack again. According to a U.S. computer security company believes the hacking attacks were perpetrated by a secretive Chinese military unit prompting China to deny these allegations and accuse the U.S. of hacking them. The company, Mandiant, identified the People’s Liberation Army’s Shanghai based Unit 61398 as the group who likely carried out the attack and other attacks on a wide range of industries. On Monday Mandiant reported that “The nature of ‘Unit 61398’s’ work is considered by China to be a state secret; however, we believe it engages in harmful ‘Computer Network Operations’…It is time to acknowledge the threat is originating in China, and we wanted to do our part to arm and prepare security professionals to combat that threat effectively.”

The Chinese Foreign Ministry doubts the evidence in the report and continues to deny the hacking. Spokesman Hong Lei during a daily news briefing said the attacks are extremely hard to trace to their origins since hacking attacks are transnational and anonymous. He continued,”arbitrary criticism based on rudimentary data is irresponsible, unprofessional and not helpful in resolving the issue.” Furthermore, Hong points out that the U.S. is behind hacking in China: “Of the above mentioned Internet hacking attacks, attacks originating from the United States rank first.”

Mandiant reports that Unit 61398 is located in China’s financial and banking hub and staffed by thousands fluent in English as well as computer programming and network operations. According to Mandiant, “hundreds of terabytes of data from at least 141 organisations across a diverse set of industries beginning as early as 2006.” Most of the victims were in the U.S. with smaller numbers in Canada and Britain with data ranging from mergers and acquisitions to senior employees emails. U.S. officials in the past have complained about sanctioned trade secret theft, but limited public record have existed. The company traced Unit 61398’s presence to the internet and name it as a major contributor to operations against the U.S. companies. In November 2011, the U.S. National Counterintelligence Executive publicly decried China as the biggest known thief of U.S. trade secrets according to the Huff Post.