First Ebola boy likely infected by playing in bat tree

Bat being captured to be tested for EbolaOther researchers have been testing bats in West Africa for Ebola virus

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The Ebola victim who is believed to have triggered the current outbreak – a two-year-old boy called Emile Ouamouno from Guinea – may have been infected by playing in a hollow tree housing a colony of bats, say scientists.

They made the connection on an expedition to the boy’s village, Meliandou.

They took samples and chatted to locals to find out more about Ebola’s source.

The team’s findings are published in EMBO Molecular Medicine.

Ebola trail

MeliandouMeliandou is a small village surrounded by farmland and large trees

Meliandou is a small village of 31 houses.

It sits deep within the Guinean forest region, surrounded by towering reeds and oil palm cultivations – these are believed to have attracted the fruit bats carrying the virus passed on to Emile.

During their four-week field trip in April 2014, Dr Fabian Leendertz and colleagues found a large tree stump situated about 50m from Emile’s home.

Villagers reported that children used to play frequently in the hollow tree.

Emile – who died of Ebola in December 2013 – used to play there, according to his friends.

The villagers said that the tree burned on March 24, 2014 and that once the tree caught fire, there issued a “rain of bats”.

the treeChildren from the village used to play in and around the tree

A large number of these insectivorous free-tailed bats – Mops condylurus in Latin – were collected by the villagers for food, but disposed of the next day after a government-led ban on bushmeat consumption was announced.

While bushmeat is thought to be a possible source of Ebola, the scientists believe it didn’t trigger the outbreak.

Instead, it was Emile’s exposure to the bats and their droppings as he played with his friends in the hollowed tree.

Pest control

The scientists took and tested ash samples from the tree and found DNA traces that were a match for the animals.

While they were unable to test any of the bushmeat that the villagers had disposed of, they captured and tested any living bats they could find in and around Meliandou.

No Ebola could be detected in any of these hundred or so animals, however.

But previous tests show this species of bat can carry Ebola.

Dr Leendertz, from the Robert Koch Institute in Germany, and his colleagues say this must be a pretty rare occurrence though.

The expedition team

Dr Leendertz said: “That is also obvious when you think about how many tonnes of bat meat is consumed every year.

“If more bats carried the virus, we would see outbreaks all the time.”

He says it is vital to find out more about the bats.

“They have moved into human settlements. They do not just live in the trees but also under the roofs of houses in the villages.

“The Ebola virus must jump through colonies from bat to bat, so we need to know more.”

But culling the animals is not the answer.

“We need to find ways to live together with the wildlife. These bats catch insects and pests, such as mosquitoes. They can eat about a quarter of their body weight in insects a day.

“Killing them would not be a solution. You would have more malaria.”

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Search For Disappeared Air Asia Flight Suspended: Summary Of The Facts So Far

About 12 hours after AirAsia flight QZ8501 with 162 people on board disappeared and lost all contact with Jakarta air traffic control at 6:17 am local time (11:17 pm GMT Saturday), the aircraft searching for any clue of what may happened to the second unexplained disappearance of an airplane flying in the region, have been called off due to nightfall even as ships will continue their search through the night. As Sky News reported, “Rescuers scouring the Java Sea have halted their search because it is getting dark, Indonesia’s transport ministry said.  Hadi Mustofa said: “We ended at 5:30 pm (1030 GMT) because it was getting dark. The weather was also not too good as it was getting really cloudy. “Tomorrow we will begin at 7 am, or even earlier than that if the weather is good.”

For those who missed the coverage last night, here is what is known so far, via Reuters:

Indonesia AirAsia Flight QZ8501, an Airbus 320-200 carrying 155 passengers and seven crew, lost contact with Jakarta air traffic control at 6:17 a.m. (2317 GMT on Saturday). No distress signal had been sent, said Joko Muryo Atmodjo, an Indonesian transport ministry official.

 

On board were 155 Indonesians, three South Koreans and one each from Singapore, Malaysia and Britain, plus a French pilot, the airline said in a statement, correcting earlier information. Tatang Kurniadi, head of Indonesia’s National Committee of Safety Transportation, expressed hope of locating the aircraft quickly and said it was too early to detect any of the so-called electronic pings from its black box recorder.

 

“We are using our capacity to search on sea and land. Hopefully we can find the location of the plane as soon as possible,” he told a news conference.”What I need to emphasize is until now, we have not found out how the plane fell or what kind of emergency it was.”

 

Indonesia AirAsia is 49 percent owned by Malaysia-based budget carrier AirAsia (AIRA.KL), which has had a clean safety record since it began operating 13 years ago. The AirAsia group also has affiliates in Thailand, the Philippines and India. The aircraft had accumulated approximately 23,000 flight hours in some 13,600 flights, according to Airbus (AIR.PA).

 

The pilots of QZ8501 “was requesting deviation due to en-route weather before communication with the aircraft was lost,” the airline said in a statement. Singapore, Malaysia, Britain, South Korea and Australia offered to help in the search and any investigation. Malaysia said it was sending vessels and a C130 aircraft while Singapore had also sent a C130. Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said a P3 Orion aircraft was on standby if needed.

The suggested location of the disappearance is shown in the map below: Flight QZ8501 was between Tanjung Pandan on Indonesia’s Belitung island and Pontianak, in West Kalimantan province on Borneo – almost halfway between Surabaya and Singapore – when it went missing. There was bad weather over Belitung at the time and the aircraft had been flying at 32,000 feet before asking to fly at 38,000 feet to avoid clouds.

 

While AirAsia chief Tony Fernandes said it is too early to say what happened to flight QZ8501 and every assistance must be given to the search and rescue effort some are thanking their lucky stars they avoided it in the last moment:

A man named Purnomo told TVOne in Surabaya of a lucky escape. “I should have been on the flight,” he said. “We, seven people, had planned to go to Singapore for vacation but this morning I had an emergency. I had my passport in hand.”

 

Tony Fernandes, chief of Malaysia’s AirAsia, said he was heading to Surabaya. “My only thoughts are with the passengers and my crew. We put our hope in the SAR (search and rescue) operation and thank the Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysian governments,” he said on Twitter.

Others were not so lucky:

Louise Sidharta was at Singapore’s Changi Airport waiting for her fiancée to return from a family holiday. “It was supposed to be their last vacation before we got married,” she said.

Some other known facts: the pilot of the missing plane had 20,000 hours of flying experience – 7,000 of which were with AirAsia. It has yet to be revealed if like the pilot of missing flight MH-370 he too had a flight simulator at home on which he was training landing at unexpected venues. As a reminder, 9 months later there is still no trace of the missing MH-370, which as we reported recently, a former airline CEO shocking claimed it was shot down by the US.

Below is the plane’s full Flight Dispatch Release courtesy of Aviation Safety.

And the flight’s Load and Trim Sheet:

 

That largely covers the facts. And now the unconfirmed speculation begins. According to a report in the Malaysian Insider, a family member claims receiving text message missing plane safe citing Indonesian news portal Detik.com

It reported from Surabaya that a family of a missing passenger received a glimmer of hope via a Blackberry Messenger (BBM) text. The portal quoted Intan, the sister of passenger Martinus Djomy as saying: “Kabarnya mendarat darurat di Belitung Timur, semua selamat. Tapi kita tetap butuh kepastian.”

 

(We got word that that the plane made an emergency landing in Belitung Timur, everyone is safe. But we still need to be sure.)

 

Intan said she learned about this from a friend who sent her the text message via BBM. Her brother Martinus was travelling to Singapore with his wife, child and babysitter.

 

Detik.com reported that the piece of information was passed on to the authorities at the crisis centre in Juanda. The news portal added that unfortunately, there remains no confirmation from relevant authorities whether the information was accurate or otherwise.

 

In a separate story, Detik.com also quoted Nasional Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas) Jakarta chief Sutrisno as saying that the agency’s radar did not detect the flight’s Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT).

 

He said the ELT would go off if there was impact or if the plane had gone under water.

 

“If the plane landed smoothly on water, it wouldn’t have gone off, unless the device was not working. It didn’t go off so Basarnas doesn’t know its position now,” Detik quoted him as saying.

According to a separate and largely contradictory report from IBT, a loud bang was reportedly heard by fishermen over Belitung Island at around 07:00 to 08:00 in the morning, Indonesian news website Bangka Tribun News reported.

“There are fishermen who heard the explosion, but not yet certain. Its location is near the island of Jackfruit,” a member of Tagana Beltm told the website.

 

The flight was reportedly over the Java Sea between Kalimantan and Java islands when it lost contact.

 

However, the fishermen could not ascertain the source of the explosion and assumed that the bang came from within a five-mile radius between Coconut Island and Bird Bath Beach, Damar. Belitung is an island on the east coast of Sumatra, Indonesia, in the Java Sea.

 

The fishermen who were at sea engaged in their regular fishing activities near Coconut Island also claim that the explosion was quite powerful.

Considering the numerous unconfirmed reports that sprung up in the aftermath of the MH-370 disappearance, this is only the beginning.

More on the missing flight as we see it.

Average:

China To Launch Yuan Swap Trading With Russian Rubles On Monday

The world was slow to wake up to the new reality in which China is now the de facto IMF sovereign backstop, as Zero Hedge described two weeks ago in “China Prepares To Bailout Russia” when we noted that a PBOC swap-line was meant to reduce the role of the US dollar if China and Russia need to help each other overcome a liquidity squeeze, something we first noted over two months ago in “China, Russia Sign CNY150 Billion Local-Currency Swap As Plunging Oil Prices Sting Putin.”

In fact, it was only this week that Bloomberg reported that “China Offers Russia Help With Currency Swap Suggestion.” But in order to fully backstop Russia away from a SWIFT-world in which the dollar reigns supreme, one extra step was necessary: the launching of direct FX trade involving the Russian and Chinese currencies, either spot or forward – a move away from purely theoretical bilateral FX trade agreements – which would not only enable and make direct currency trading more efficient by sidestepping the dollar entirely, but also allow Russian companies to budget in Chinese Yuan terms. It is no surprise then that this is precisely the missing step that was announced overnight, and will be implemented starting Monday.

From Bloomberg:

China will allow trading in forwards and swaps between the yuan and three more currencies in a bid to reduce foreign-exchange risks amid increased volatility in emerging markets.

 

The China Foreign Exchange Trade System will begin such contracts with Malaysia’s ringgit, Russia’s ruble, and the New Zealand dollar from Dec. 29, it said in a statement on its website today. That will extend the yuan’s swaps trading to 11 currencies on the interbank foreign-exchange market.

 

A plunge in Russia’s ruble this month to a record low sparked a selloff in developing nations’ assets, leading to a surge in currency volatility. The new contracts come amid efforts by China to increase the international use of the yuan, as the world’s second-largest economy promotes it as an alternative to the U.S. dollar for global trade and finance. Malaysia and Russia are China’s eighth and ninth biggest trading partners, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

 

This will provide companies with better hedging tools, and at the same time, make currency trading more efficient,” said Ju Wang, a senior currency strategist at HSBC Holdings Plc in Hong Kong. “China won’t stop yuan globalization or capital-account opening because of the volatility in emerging market currencies.”

 

The CFETS is an agency under the People’s Bank of China.

So while the US continues to parade with “destroying” the Russian economy, even if it means crushing the shale industry, aka the only bright spot, and high-paying job-creating industry in the US economy over the past 5 years, Russia and China continue to be nudged by the west ever closer monetarily and strategically, until one day, as we have long predicted, China and Russia will announce a joint currency, one backed by both China’s “surprising” gold reserves and Russia’s commodity hoard. Then things will get interesting.

Facebook: Colonialism 2.0

Putting the entire planet online… then controlling everything they see or read.

December 24, 2014 (Tony Cartalucci – NEO) – The Western media has attempted to portray Mark Zuckerberg’s ambitious plan to get every human being online as altruistic at first, but later revealed as simply what could be called “profitable empathy.” In reality however, the truth is much more sinister, with Facebook already revealed to be much more than a mere corporation run by Zuckerberg and his “ideas”
Facebook is the pinnacle of social engineering, an online operant conditioning chamber – also known as a Skinner box – that is being used to track, trace, document, and manipulate half of the entire online population. Despite users attempting to utilize Facebook to connect and communicate with individuals and organizations of interest, Facebook has turned its features against users, insidiously manipulating their timelines to show selected posts and updates while “soft censoring” others to manage public perception.

“Studies” have even been published proving the effectiveness of Facebook’s unethical social engineering. In one study, the emotions of users were successfully manipulated by selectively posting only negative or only positive posts from individuals or organizations on users’ contact lists.

A report published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) titled, “Experimental evidence of massive-scale emotional contagion through social networks,” stated in its abstract that (emphasis added):

We show, via a massive (N = 689,003) experiment on Facebook, that emotional states can be transferred to others via emotional contagion, leading people to experience the same emotions without their awareness. We provide experimental evidence that emotional contagion occurs without direct interaction between people (exposure to a friend expressing an emotion is sufficient), and in the complete absence of nonverbal cues. Not only are the findings troubling – illustrating that Facebook possesses the ability to influence the emotions of its users unwittingly through careful manipulation of their news feeds – but the invasive, unethical methods by which Facebook conducted the experiment are troubling as well.

In another experiment Facebook manipulated the news feed of some 2 million Americans in 2012 in order to increase public participation during that year’s US presidential election.

Image: US State Department’s “Movement.org” helped
train hundreds of operatives years ahead of US-backed
subversion across the Arab World in 2011. Among the
many sponsors of this program is Facebook and Google. 

Facebook was also an official sponsor of the US State Department’s training program preparing political subversion across North Africa and the Middle East years before the so-called “Arab Spring” unfolded. The very activists audiences around the world were told “spontaneously” sprung up across North Africa and the Middle East were in fact trained, funded, and equipped by the US State Department and various corporations including tech giants Google and Facebook years beforehand.

Turning a Network of Information into a One-Way Propaganda Pipeline 
The implications of an Internet commandeered by a conglomerate of Wall Street and Washington special interests is the mitigation of user-driven content and the retrenchment of information consumerism.

Television “programming” could be perceived as both the process of programming what will appear on TV, but also could be perceived as programming the minds of those consuming television. TV, being a one-way process, effectively eliminates competing ideas and limits the scope of information down to only what those who control television networks want audiences to see and hear. It is clear that Facebook is part of a process to turn the Internet into a similar one-way experience.

As a result of Facebook’s successful experiments in social engineering, including the very successful political subversion carried out across the Arab World – subversion still ravaging the region to this day –  Facebook and the corporate-financier interests behind it seek to put the entire planet within this increasingly insidious, pervasive, and one-way network.

The Bait and Switch 

Time Magazine’s article, “The Man Who Wired the World,” claims Facebook’s “crusade” to get the entire human population online is merely business. What is described however is a global campaign to produce content offline users will care enough about to get online, where Facebook believes it will be only inevitable that they end up on Facebook as well to share that content. Time’s article would state specifically (emphasis added):

Here’s the idea. First, you look at a particular geographical region that’s underserved, Internet-wise, and figure out what content might be compelling enough to lure its inhabitants online. Then you gather that content up, make sure it’s in the right language and wrap it up in a slick app. Then you go to the local cell-phone providers and convince as many of them as possible that they should offer the content in your app for free, with no data charges. There you go: anybody who has a data-capable phone has Internet access—or at least access to a curated, walled sliver of the Internet—for free. 

This isn’t hypothetical: Internet.org released this app in Zambia in July. It launched in Tanzania in October. In Zambia, the app’s content offerings include AccuWeather, Wikipedia, Google Search, the Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action—there’s a special emphasis on women’s rights and women’s health—and a few job-listing sites. And Facebook. A company called Airtel (the local subsidiary of an Indian telco) agreed to offer access for nothing. “I think about it like 911 in the U.S.,” Zuckerberg says. “You don’t have to have a phone plan, but if there’s an emergency, if there’s a fire or you’re getting robbed, you can always call and get access to those kinds of basic services. And I kind of think there should be that for the Internet too.”

Already, these free applications include Western-driven agendas and of course access to Facebook which is now confirmed to be insidiously manipulating user perception.

Indeed, while “free Internet access” through such apps seems “liberating” and “empowering,” Facebook does not let users freely share content. Under the guise of managing cluttered timelines for users, Facebook has already begun involuntarily filtering what posts users will see from accounts they are following, indicating that their manipulative experiments have now become a permanent matter of policy. Facebook’s own explanation of this policy is as follows:

Rather than showing people all possible content, News Feed is designed to show each person on Facebook the content that’s most relevant to them. Of the 1,500+ stories a person might see whenever they log onto Facebook, News Feed displays approximately 300. To choose which stories to show, News Feed ranks each possible story (from more to less important) by looking at thousands of factors relative to each person.

Facebook’s “world plan” then, seeks to plug the entire human population into a highly manipulative Skinner box through a bait and switch campaign to lure people online to seek what interests them before Facebook takes over and displays information Facebook itself determines “interests them.”

Far from a college kid with an overgrown corporation, what Facebook is doing is the manifestation of every tyranny’s dream scenario since the beginning of human history – a means by which to completely and insidiously manipulate and control the minds of its subjects.

Don’t Protest Facebook, Displace It 

To counteract what is clearly the next step in Facebook’s unethical and unchecked plague-like spread across the Internet, nations individually should produce their own alternatives to Facebook and work to get their populations online on their own terms before Facebook and the interests driving it do. Likewise, locally, communities must begin devising their own information networks including mesh networks and local Internets with local and open source alternatives to Facebook, Google, and other corporations exercising the same unwarranted power and influence online that bankers and industrialist exercise over traditional society.