Last Shangri-La

Collection of nerd-gasms.

I geek out over: books and libraries, Harry Potter, race and gender issues, microbiology, engineering, biotechnology, and photography.
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nprglobalhealth:

Taliban In Pakistan Derails World Polio Eradication

Last January Salma Jaffar was shot while she was going door-to-door in Karachi, giving children drops of the polio vaccine.

"Even when they took out the pistol, I couldn’t understand why he was taking out the gun," Jaffar says of the two men who pulled up on a motorcycle and started shooting at the vaccination team.

"But when he opened fire, that is when I thought it was the end of the life," she says. "My first thought was that I won’t be able to see my children again."

Jaffar was shot four times: twice in her arm and twice in her chest. She spent the next three weeks in an intensive care unit.

Three of her colleagues weren’t as fortunate and died in the attack. They are among the more than 60 polio workers who have been killed since the Pakistani Taliban banned polio immunization in 2012.

Today the militant group continues to threaten to kill not only vaccinators, but also parents who get their children immunized. That threat has had a chilling effect on anti-polio efforts nationwide. And it completely halted vaccination drives in some Taliban-controlled areas. It’s in these places that the crippling virus has come roaring back — and threatened to stymie global efforts to wipe out polio.

The worldwide campaign to eradicate polio has been going on for more than two decades. It has cost more than $10 billion. Now the success of the campaign hinges on whether Pakistan can control the virus.

At its peak in the 1950s, polio paralyzed about 350,000 people a year around the world. This year, so far, there have been only 128 cases recorded. Ninety-nine of them have been in Pakistan. And the South Asian nation is the only country in the world where the number of polio cases is rising significantly.

Continue reading.

Photo: A health worker gives a child the polio vaccine in Bannu, Pakistan, June 25. More than a quarter million children in Taliban-controlled areas are likely to miss their immunizations. (A Majeed/AFP/Getty Images)

Strangely, this bit was not included in the preview.

The edict by the Islamic militants to ban immunization was in response to the CIA’s setting up a fake hepatitis vaccination campaign in Pakistan. The covert operation was part of an attempt by the U.S. spy agency to verify whether Osama bin Laden was holed up in the city of Abbottabad.

The problem is that white people see racism as conscious hate, when racism is bigger than that. Racism is a complex system of social and political levers and pulleys set up generations ago to continue working on the behalf of whites at other people’s expense, whether whites know/like it or not. Racism is an insidious cultural disease. It is so insidious that it doesn’t care if you are a white person who likes black people; it’s still going to find a way to infect how you deal with people who don’t look like you. Yes, racism looks like hate, but hate is just one manifestation. Privilege is another. Access is another. Ignorance is another. Apathy is another. And so on. So while I agree with people who say no one is born racist, it remains a powerful system that we’re immediately born into. It’s like being born into air: you take it in as soon as you breathe. It’s not a cold that you can get over. There is no anti-racist certification class. It’s a set of socioeconomic traps and cultural values that are fired up every time we interact with the world. It is a thing you have to keep scooping out of the boat of your life to keep from drowning in it. I know it’s hard work, but it’s the price you pay for owning everything.

Scott Woods (X)

he motherfucking dropped the truth.

(via mesmerisme)

(via aflyingcontradiction)

fotojournalismus:

Airstrikes in Gaza | July 2014

1. An Israeli activist carries a placard during a protest against the war on the Gaza strip, in the Israeli city of Tel Aviv on July 9, 2014. (Ahmad Gharabli/AFP/Getty Images)

2. Smoke and flames are seen following an Israeli air strike in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on July 9, 2014. (Reuters)

3. Palestinian relatives mourn during the funeral of members of Hamad family in the town of Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip on July 9, 2014. (Mohammed Salem/Reuters)

4. Palestinians inspect the remains of a car which was hit in an Israeli air strike in Gaza City on July 9, 2014. (Ashraf Amrah/Reuters)

5. Relatives of eight Palestinian members from al-Haj family, who medics said were killed in an early morning air strike that destroyed at least two homes, mourn during their funeral in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip on July 10, 2014. (Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters)

6. A picture taken in Gaza City on July 10, 2014 shows a damaged building after it was hit by an Israeli air strike. (Mohammed Abed/AFP/Getty Images)

7. A Palestinian woman runs carrying a girl following an Israeli air strike on a house in Gaza city on July 9, 2014. (Majdi Fathi/Reuters)

8. Two boys stand near damage caused by Israeli warplanes in Gaza on July 10, 2014. (Yasser Qudih/NurPhoto/Corbis)

9. Israelis watch as smoke rises after air strikes across the border in northern Gaza on July 8, 2014. (Amir Cohen/Reuters)

10. A Palestinian boy plays in the rubble of a destroyed house the day after an Israeli strike in the town of Beit Hanoun, northern Gaza Strip on July 9, 2014. (Khalil Hamra/AP)

(Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9)

(via badass-bharat-deafmuslim-artista)

jtotheizzoe:

Here’s some patriotic prokaryotes to wish you a happy 4th of July full of luminescent liberty!

These light-producing bacteria, known as Photobacterium leiognathi, are ocean-dwelling symbionts, bacteria that live on or within animals, getting protection from their hosts and giving them light-producing tissues in return. 

The anglerfish's glowing bait? That's bioluminescent bacteria. Same with the lanternfish, and certain glowing jellies. 

Thanks for the fireworks, nature!

(via Microbes Rule and Beatrice the Biologist)

(via scientificthought)

elusivelyshani:

I, too, sing America.

I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,…
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.

Tomorrow,
I’ll be at the table
When company comes.
Nobody’ll dare
Say to me,
“Eat in the kitchen,”
Then.

Besides,
They’ll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed—

I, too, am America

(via racialicious)

blackaudacity:

Gynecology Invented Through The Torture of Black Women

In the 19th century, the father of modern gynecology, J. Marion Sims, conducted his research experiments on enslaved Black women. Sims performed the invasive and torturous procedures without anesthesia. J. Marion Sims’ justification for choosing not to anesthetize his test subjects was that he did not believe Black women felt pain at all. In an 1857 lecture, he stated that it was “not painful enough to justify the trouble”.

The Tuskegee Experiment

The Tuskegee Institute and the Public Health Service began a study of the natural progression of syphilis involving 600 Black men (399 with syphilis, 201 uninfected) in 1932. The infected men involved in the study were never made aware of their condition upon diagnosis and believed they were being treated for “bad blood”. In exchange for their participation, the men received free medical examinations and burial insurance. They were never treated for the disease. These trials went on until 1972 when the study was exposed by The Associated Press. The remaining victims and their family members won a $10,000,000 reparations settlement which guaranteed them lifetime health coverage and burial insurance.

The Pellagra Incident
Pellagra is an ailment commonly caused by a lack of niacin (vitamin B-13) in the human diet. The symptoms include skin lesions, sunlight sensitivity, dementia and ends in death. At the turn of the twentieth century, millions of people in the United States died from this disease. Scientists claimed that the cause of the disease was a toxin found in corn. In 1915, the U.S. Surgeon General ordered government funded experiments on Black prisoners afflicted with pellagra. Poor diet and niacin deficiency was found to be the cause. However, these life-saving findings were not released to the public until 1935 because the majority of Pellagra-induced deaths affected Black communities.

The Ebb Cade Experiment

In 1945, African-American Ebb Cade, a 53-year-old truck driver, was secretly injected with plutonium, the substance used to make nuclear bombs. After breaking several of his bones in automotible accident, he was rushed to the emergency room. Unbeknownst to Ebb Cade, he was in the care of doctors that were also U.S. Atomic Agency employees. For six months, he was held in the hospital under the belief that they were treating his injuries. During that time, he was injected with more than 40 times the amount of plutonium an average person is exposed to in a lifetime. The doctors and researchers collected bone samples and extracted 15 teeth to monitor the effects of his exposure. Ebb Cade grew suspicious of his broken-bone treatments and escaped from the hospital. Unfortunately, Cade suffered from the brutal effects of intense radiation until he died from heart failure eight years later at the age of 61.

Weaponized Mosquito Experiment

In the early 1950′s, the United States government conducted an experiment to see if mosquitoes could be weaponized. The CIA and the U.S. military released nearly a half million mosquitoes carrying  yellow fever and dengue fever viruses into several Black communities in Florida. In the predominantly Black community of Avon Park, dozens of Black people became ill, eight dying as a result of this government-issued mosquito attack.

Infants Injected With Test Drugs In Los Angeles

In June 1990, more than 1500 six-month old Black and Hispanic babies in Los Angeles were given what seemed to be a standard measles vaccination. The parents were not told that this particular vaccine, Edmonston Zagreb measles vaccine (EZ), was still in its research phase and not approved by the FDA. The EZ vaccine already had a reputation in Senegal, Guinea Bissau and Haiti, triggering an increased death rate among infant girls, most not living past the age of two. The Center for Disease Control would later confess that the infants were injected with an experimental vaccination without their parent’s knowledge. Presently, it is believed that many of these families are still unaware that their babies were used as guinea pigs.

The Toxic Sludge Experiment of Baltimore and St. Louis

In the year 2000, Federally funded researchers from John Hopkins University, the EPA, HUD, The Kennedy Krieger Institute and Department of Agriculture spread sludge from a sewage treatment plant on the lawns of nine low-income families, and a vacant lot in Baltimore and East St. Louis.  The families and residents were told the sludge was safe and not informed about the toxic mixture of human and industrial waste the sludge contained. The research was conducted to see if the toxic waste absorbed into the water supply could effectively reduce lead levels in children.

Children Forcibly Vaccinated in Chad

In December 2012, at least 500 children in Gouro, Chad were forcibly given the MenAfriVac during school resulting in dangerous side effects including convulsions, and paralysis. Parents were not notified of any plans to vaccination their children at school and parental consent was never requested. The forced vaccinations were part of an aggressive healthcare initiative sponsored by several internationally revered organizations including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the World Health Organization and UNICEF.

always reblog

(via broadlybrazen)

Sunset over the Charles River
Boston, June 6, 2014

Boston Public Library
June 5, 2014

amolecularmatter:

T cells are amazing white blood cells that play a crucial role in cell-mediated immunity. They can be divided into several categories - notably helper, cytotoxic, memory, regulatory, and natural killer (NK) - and their primary role within the immune system is to search out and destroy both invading pathogens and abnormal cells. Helper T cells also help to regulate the immune response.

The image above features a cytotoxic T cell, which destroy abnormal cells (most notably virally infected cells and tumour cells) and are also implicated in organ transplant rejection. Dendritic cells, pictured cyan blue in the photo, constitutively express high levels of both class I and class II MCH molecules - the type of receptor that cytotoxic T cells recognise - making them extraordinary potent activators capable of stimulating even “naive” T cells that have never encountered an antigen.

(via alscientist)