Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Smallpox Changed the World

By Heather Whipps, LiveScience's History Columnist

Today it's a medical success story, but before it was eradicated, the smallpox virus spent more than 3,000 years decimating communities across the globe...

It is believed that smallpox first incubated 10,000 years ago in northern Africa, spreading slowly to the rest of the ancient world. Repeat epidemics of the highly contagious virus — which caused a grotesque rash, fever and often blindness — began popping up a few millennia later.

Aside from speckling the face of Ramses V, the pharaoh who succumbed to smallpox in 1156 B.C., the virus appears in contemporary texts from India and China. Approximately 30 percent of those infected with smallpox died, and the statistics were even worse for children. According to some ancient customs, newborn babies were often left unnamed until they, inevitably, contracted the disease and proved they could survive, historians say.

Smallpox continued to spread across Asia in the Middle Ages and reached Europe by A.D. 700, killing indiscriminately. Waves of epidemics wiped out large rural populations, but didn't spare royalty either: Queen Mary II of England, Holy Roman Emperor Joseph I, French King Louis XV and Tsar Peter II of Russia all died of the disease, the latter on the eve of his wedding.

Perhaps the most defenseless victims of smallpox were the Aztec and Inca Indians of the New World who, with no immunity to European diseases, were almost completely wiped out by the virus before Spanish conquistadors finished them off with weapons in the 16th and 17th centuries.

Read the rest of the article here.

Smallpox postules on patient's legs.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

U.S. Sheriffs might wish this were all they had to worry about

Thursday, 19th June 2008
Source: The Scotsman
Location: Edinburgh

'We can't assure public that they are protected' says leading sheriff

ONE of Scotland's most prominent legal figures today launched a scathing attack on a "nameless official" who freed a frequent offender less than a third of the way into his sentence.
Sheriff Robert Dickson, who is president of the Sheriffs' Association, said judges could "no longer give any assurance to the public that they are going to be protected for any particular period" if civil servants continued to overule a court's sentence.

Jason Jarvie, 20, was locked up for 15 months on March 14 last year for a string of offences including violence, dishonesty, public disorder and drugs misuse.

But he was allowed out on a home curfew order on August 3 2007 after just four and a half months behind bars – despite having a history of repeatedly breaching court orders to curb his freedom.

Within weeks, "mindless" Jarvie went on to cause £150 worth of damage to a house in Airdrie, while still on probation and subject to the order.

Sheriff Dickson today criticised the "nameless official" who freed Jarvie without knowing all the facts of the case.

He also warned he could not assure the public that they would be protected if sheriffs' decisions were overruled in such a way.

Read the rest of the story here.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Roaming Packs Of Coyotes Killing Marina Pets

POSTED: 7:01 am PDT June 17, 2008

MARINA, Calif. -- Packs of coyotes are brazenly roaming Marina neighborhoods, killing cats and attacking dogs in the Monterey County coastal community, authorities warned Tuesday.

Marina police say two dogs have been attacked by coyotes in the two weeks while out on late morning and midday walks with their owners.

Del Rey Oaks resident Brad Alexander says coyotes running through his neighborhood have killed nearly a dozen cats, including his.

"We are seeing the coyotes running down the street at night chasing cats as early as 8 p.m." said Alexander told the Monterey Peninsula Herald. "Some people are getting scared. It's getting out of control."

Marina police issued a coyote warning Friday after a coyote was seen stalking a dog and its owner in Hayes Park.

According to police, the first attack happened about noon on June 7 on a trail near Inter-Garrison Road and Schoonover Park and involved three coyotes. The other involved a pack of four and happened about 10:30 a.m. Wednesday near 3rd and 12th streets.

Read the rest of the story here.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Tree From Christ's Time Rises From the Dead

By Clara Moskowitz, LiveScience Staff Writer

posted: 2008-06-12 2:00 p.m. ET

Scientists have grown a tree from what may be the oldest seed ever germinated.

The new sapling was sprouted from a 2,000-year-old date palm excavated in Masada, the site of a cliff-side fortress in Israel where ancient Jews are said to have killed themselves to avoid capture by Roman invaders
Dubbed the "Methuselah Tree" after the oldest person in the Bible, the new plant has been growing steadily, and after 26 months, the tree was nearly four-feet (1.2 meters) tall.
The species of tree, called the Judean date, (Phoenix dactylifera L.), is now extinct in Israel, but researchers are hoping that by reviving the plant they may be able to study its medicinal uses.
The medicinal plants from this region are very important because they are historically mentioned in the Bible and the Koran," said Sarah Sallon, director of the Louis L. Borick Natural Medicine Research Center at the Hadassah Medical Organization in Jerusalem, which initiated the experiment to grow the tree as part of its Middle East Medicinal Plant Project.

"The Judean date was very valuable and very famous, not just as a source of food but as a source of medicine," Sallon said. "When I heard there were ancient seeds found in the archeological dig, I thought it would be interesting to see if we could try to grow them."

Carbon dating of the seeds found at Masada revealed that they date from roughly the time of the ancient fortress' siege, in A.D. 73. The seeds were found in storage rooms, and appear to have been stockpiled for the Jews hiding out against the invading Romans.

"They were buried under mounds of debris on the top of the archaeological site of Masada," Sallon told LiveScience. "The Jews all committed suicide rather than give in to the Romans, and the Romans pretty much destroyed the site after that. It was more or less left for the next 2,000 years."

The seeds were excavated about 40 years ago, along with skeletons of those who died during the siege. Since then, the seeds had been languishing in a drawer until Sallon and her team decided to attempt to grow them anew.

They turned the project over to plant specialist Elaine Solowey at the Arava Institute of the Environment in Kibbutz Ketura, Israel. She pretreated the seeds in fertilizers and hormone-rich solution, and then planted them. So far, Methuselah is the only one to sprout.

Though a few trees have been planted from seeds that are rumored to be older than the Masada ones, the Methuselah tree holds the record for the oldest directly-dated seed to be germinated. Scientists determined its age from control seeds taken from the same batch, and from shell fragments from the sprouted seed itself.

Rest of the article here.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Times: Tick bite causes boy's paralysis

01:11 PM PDT on Sunday, June 8, 2008
By TAN VINH / The Seattle Times

On Tuesday morning, after his father came to his bedroom and told him to get ready for school, 13-year-old Daniel Smith couldn't move his body to get down from his bunk bed. He couldn't lift his legs or even swallow.

Daniel, who had been shooting hoops near his Normandy Park home a few days earlier, was temporarily paralyzed, his doctor later determined.

The cause: a tick found along his hairline at the nape of his neck.

Tick paralysis, though relatively rare, occurs most often in the Western states, the Rocky Mountains and Western Canada, said Rebecca Baer, epidemiologist for the Washington State Department of Health.

Paralysis of the sort Daniel experienced is likely caused by a toxin secreted in the tick's saliva; the paralysis goes away fairly quickly once the tick is removed, typically within 24 hours. But if the tick is not removed in time, about 10 percent of victims die from respiratory paralysis, health officials said. Other symptoms of tick-borne illness include flulike symptoms — muscle aches, nausea, joint pains, fatigue.

Liz Dykstra, entomologist for the Washington State Department of Health, said the Rocky Mountain wood tick and American dog tick — the two species often associated with tick paralysis, are found here. In Western Washington, people aren't accustomed to finding ticks, and they and their health-care providers may not suspect ticks when symptoms start, Dykstra said.

"If you live in the Southeast, you're trained to check yourself over," she said. "People here don't expect to find ticks. But they are more common than you'd think."

In Daniel's case, the tick came from the Teanaway River area, near Cle Elum, where the Smith family was camping with friends during Memorial Day weekend. Another father on the trip found a tick on his son's head and called the Smiths to suggest they check for ticks.

Stu Smith said he checked his son throughly the day after they camped but saw no ticks.

The first noticeable symptom came a week later, on Monday morning, when Daniel felt his back go slightly numb. After school, his left leg was so weak, a neighbor had to help him get into his house.

Because Daniel had started wearing a back brace for a medical condition, his parents consulted with their doctor's office; they suspected his body was adjusting to the brace.

But the next morning, Daniel could barely squeeze his mother's hand, and he had no feeling in his lower body.

His father checked his head again and found a dark-tan tick the size of a raisin.

Ticks can be hard to detect at first, but within days, they can ingest enough blood to grow to the size of an M&M.

Read the rest of the story here

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Bee die-off threatening Oregon crops

01:47 PM PDT on Sunday, June 8, 2008

Associated Press

CORVALLIS, Ore. - Oregon State University is seeking $250,000 in emergency state funding to find a reason and a solution for the unprecedented die-off of honey bees, a problem that threatens Oregon food crops worth more than $457 million.

Scientists at OSU say that if there aren't enough bees to pollinate crops such as blueberries, cherries, pears and speciality seeds, yields can drop by 25 to 100 percent in a single season.

Oregon beekeepers say there's no question there are fewer bees throughout the state and nation but that specifics and effects are hard to pin down.

Many, including agricultural experts at OSU, say the increased honey bee losses, lumped under the heading of Colony Collapse Disorder, began in 2006.

But Mark Johnson, vice president of the Oregon State Beekeepers Association, said, Its been a problem for eight or nine years.

"... Eight years ago, I lost 90 percent of my hives in a six-week period. Since then, I might lose 40 percent one year, 20 percent another. Winter is the worst time, every beekeeper holds his breath," the Portland area beekeeper said.

"Is it going to be a 10- to 20-percent die-off or a 70- to 80-percent die-off? And there's no way of telling who will be hit," he said.

"It rotates around, a lot like the flu. The result is farmers who need bees for pollination are having a tougher time finding them," he said.

Costs are rising for everyone starting with the beekeeper, who must pay $17.50 for a queen bee that used to cost $5.

Johnson said many researchers think low dosages of pesticides are weakening bees' immune systems.

Morris Ostrofsky, past president of the Lane County Beekeepers' Association, said the situation isn't as bad locally as it is nationally but it's getting worse nationwide.

The scariest thing, he said, is not knowing where its going to hit next, but what it is.

While bees are fewer, demand is up, Fall Creek beekeeper LeRoy Culley said.

Culley said large beekeepers who transport hives around the country have suffered the worst losses. The stresses involved with such moves may be a factor in bee losses, he said.

And cheap imported honey has result in fewer domestic bees, he said, as American beekeepers are driven out of business.

Oregon State Lane County Extension Agent Ross Penhallegon offers a low-tech remedy.

People who plant small wild areas on their property that offer food for bees during the winter report seeing increases in bees, he said.

"If 75 people a year plant a little area of lavender, or borage, something that provides the food (bees) need, the population will explode," he said.

See KING5 NEWS original article and: Drinking from water bottles can lead to 'water lips'

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Creationism versus evolutionism? How about both?

Foreward by the blogger: When the members of the scientific establishment strike out at any and all who might entertain belief, faith or simply curiosity concerning the creation of the universe by "supernatural agency" i.e. God, they are almost always using the attack as a defense of Darwin's theory of evolution. They maintain almost to a person that somehow the reality of evolution - which is their religion - precludes the existence of a "sentient primal mover", i.e. God.

They also protect their dogma by lashing out at almost anyone - even members of their own establishment - who is so rash as to question the timeline which they have developed over the last century or so for settlement of the Americas, construction of Egyptian monuments and pretty much anything else which calls into question the over-all accuracy of the currently accepted archaeological and paleontological paradigms.

One of the charges frequently leveled against those who discover and seek to publish anomalous evidence is that they are playing into the hands of the creationists... or, gasp: might themselves be closet creationists.

Here is offered, for your consideration, an apparently documented article about the reality of rapid evolutionary adaptation in an animal population. Does this mean that both creation by a supernatural being and evolution can coexist?

According to Richard Dawkins in his book "The God Delusion" scientists "believe in evolution because the evidence supports it , and we would abandon it overnight if new evidence arose to disprove it."

What if the evidence supports evolution as a biological mechanism but throws into question the concept that vast eons of time are required for it to function? Will the scientists then accept, as a possibility, shorter duration of the existence of the human race?

Not likely for, as Mr. Dawkins would hasten to point out, the accepted (by science) timelines are buttressed by a wealth of other evidence of an objective nature such as C14 dating,
Potassium-Argon Dating, ceramic industries, tool making complexes, dendrochronology and, in humans and other animals, DNA

The other factor, and this is the real key, is that scientists deal in logic and evidence (at least that is the claim) and creationism is based upon faith in writings (scripture, holy books and such writings) passed down through the generations and held by believers to be unquestionable divine revelation. Which means that any evidence which would throw into question the correctness of the writings must, perforce, be false. Not only false, either, but planted by the evil adversary (or even by God himself) to mislead those of weak faith.

This is a classical "Catch 22" situation: if I am a believer and I find evidence to support my belief, then, that is obviously correct information because it is in agreement with that which I KNOW to be true. Conversely evidence found which indicates that my beliefs might be in error MUST be false as my beliefs are divinely revealed truths.

Mr. Dawkins has taken issue with that mindset on the part of the faithful without regard to which religion they espouse, at least that is how I interpret his position based upon reading his book. He also has issue with many many of the things done by people who have claimed to be doing them in "The Name of God."

He has condemned the Muslim uproar and threats over the Copenhagen Cartoon Caper as well as the craven reaction by some governments and publishers. He has correctly labeled religiously motivated murder in Northern Ireland, Iraq and Israel as what it is: religious intolerance to the point of mass murder...

Anyway... Here is the lead in to the article, follow the link at the end of the excerpt for the finish and supporting documents... You might find it interesting to see how the thoughts are flowing on both sides of the doctrinal fence...

MalteseFrog 0-7-2008

When God first created animals, he created them according to their kinds, with the ability to reproduce, and with instructions to increase in number and fill the earth (and seas; Genesis 1:20–22, 24–28). After the Flood, land animals and birds that had been preserved on the Ark again reproduced to fill the earth (Genesis 8:15–19).

Baraminologists (creation scientists who work to identify created kinds) have determined that many animals represented by a single breeding pair on the Ark have diversified so that today they are typically represented by a whole family. For example, the family Canidae is believed to be made up of animals from one baramin, a single created kind.1 This family includes dogs, wolves, coyotes, foxes, and jackals. It consists of 34 species from 14 genera that are widely distributed on every continent except Antarctica, confirming that they have indeed increased in number and multiplied on the earth (cf. Genesis 8:17).2 The Bible mentions dogs,3 foxes,4 wolves,5 and possibly jackals.6,7 Both dogs and wolves are first mentioned less than a millennium after the Flood, indicating that diversification occurred very rapidly.8

Historically, evolutionists have told us that changes in living things occur at a slow, deliberate pace.9 Yet the creation model clearly requires that significant changes be able to occur quite rapidly, if necessary, as animals multiply and fill the earth. Today we see animals that have adapted to a variety of different environments and niches. Is there any scientific evidence that animals can adapt so quickly? Indeed there is! One example in lizards appeared in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences earlier this year.10

A Change in Home

Off the coast of Croatia, in the Adriatic Sea, there are a number of islands. Near the island of Lastovo are several smaller islets. One islet, Pod Kopište, has long been home to a particular species of lizard, Podarcis sicula. In 1971, researchers moved five adult pairs of this species to a second islet, Pod Mrčaru. After some 36 years, researchers conducted a detailed study that indicated this introduced species had not only thrived, but had also undergone significant adaptive changes.

A Change in Diet and Head Shape

The lizards on the second islet, Pod Mrčaru, had longer, wider, and taller heads. In addition to the increase in size, there were also distinct changes in head shape. An increase in bite force was associated with these changes, which appear necessary to allow the lizard to adapt to a diet that is significantly higher in plant matter. While the parent population on the first islet has a low level of plant consumption (7% of diet in spring; 4% summer), the lizards on Pod Mrčaru have a much higher level (34% and 61%). Roughly half of the plant matter consumed on Pod Mrčaru is of high cellulose content, such as leaves and stems.

A Change in the Digestive Tract

Animals don’t have the ability to digest cellulose by themselves. Herbivores rely on microorganisms in their digestive tract to digest cellulose and provide them with usable nutrients. In some animals the microorganisms ferment the food in the foregut (i.e., the beginning portion of the stomach, as in ruminants, kangaroos, wallabies, and leaf-eating monkeys), while many others are hindgut fermenters. The lizards on Pod Mrčaru have a cecal valve which slows down food passage allowing the microorganisms time to ferment it in the hindgut. This structure is not present in the parent population from Pod Kopište or in a closely related species, P. melisellensis, which had previously inhabited Pod Mrčaru but has since become extinct there. The cecal valve is present in other herbivorous lizards in this family (Lacertidae). This suggests that certain structures important to the survival of an animal in one environment may not be retained in the population if they move to a different environment and the structure is no longer useful. However, the structure may reappear if conditions change and it then becomes important to survival.

Nematodes were also found in the hindgut of the lizards on Pod Mrčaru, but not in the parent population from Pod Kopište. Nematodes are a fairly common find in herbivorous lizards.11 While normally they are recognized as parasites, there has been at least one case, in bullfrog tadpoles, where a mutualistic relationship with a nematode was identified.12 In this case, the presence of the nematode was associated with greater fermentation yields and accelerated development of the tadpoles. It remains to be seen if the nematodes in the lizards have a net positive, negative, or neutral effect.

A Change in Population Density and Behavior

The population density on Pod Mrčaru appears to be much greater, likely due to the larger, more predictable food base. The social structure also seems to have changed as the lizards no longer appear to defend territories. The changes in mode of food acquisition (i.e., browsing rather than pursuing prey) and social structure may have contributed to the shorter hind limbs and lower maximal sprint speed previously observed in these lizards compared to the parent population.13

Pondering the Source of the Changes

Since the large heads and cecal valves were present in hatchlings and juveniles, the authors suspect genetic changes may underlie these differences.14 However, only mitochondrial DNA was sequenced, which was identical in both populations of P. sicula. One wonders what the source of such a genetic change might be; 36 years is hardly enough time to suspect that a beneficial random mutation might have occurred. Natural selection can only be invoked after a genetic change has occurred; it doesn’t explain the appearance of a genetic change, but can explain why it becomes more or less common in the population. The authors suggest that further studies should address other possible factors (i.e., phenotypic plasticity and maternal effects), which may account for this divergence between the two populations. Regardless of the final findings, this study clearly shows that animals can adapt rapidly, just as creationists would expect, given that God provides for His creation and intends the earth to be inhabited (Psalm 147:8, 9; Matthew 6:25–34; Isaiah 45:18).

Has Evolution Occurred?

One of the most confusing aspects of the creation/evolution controversy is that there are several distinct definitions for the word evolution that evolutionists constantly blur together.15 One definition involves change (presumably with a genetic basis) in a population over time. Given this definition, evolution has certainly taken place. Ironically, it is the creationist model that requires such changes to be able to occur relatively rapidly. There are a number of examples in the READ MORE HERE.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

'Little people' e-mail zips through rural Alaska


Published: May 31st, 2008 11:11 PM
Last Modified: May 31st, 2008 03:04 AM

An intriguing e-mail hit Bush Alaska in May. In it, a hunter from Marshall recounted how he found a boy alleged to have been abducted by the ircenrraat.
Ircenrraat (singular: ircenrraq; say "irr-chin-hhak" with a harsh hh and you're getting close) are a recurring theme in traditional Yup'ik teachings and legends, "little people" who dwell in the tundra, usually underground. They disorient, discomfort and trap unwary humans.

City folk usually dismiss ircenrraat as superstition. Those who have lived in Yup'ik country for any period of time tend to be a little more inclined to listen. For one thing, the stories are persistent and often come from respectable observers. For another, when you're by yourself in the middle of nowhere, things happen that are hard to explain.

For instance, a few years back, on a very remote solo kayak trip in the lower Yukon region, I swear I heard rocks tossed in my direction by unseen hands or whatever. Big rocks. Whoosh. Plunk. Weird. A little scary -- and not particularly on target, assuming they were trying to hit me. A close inspection of the presumed point of origin showed no evidence of anything. There was nowhere for anything bigger than a squirrel to hide. I can't say it was an ircenrraaq, but neither can I absolutely refute those who suggest it was.

Yup'ik descriptions of the "little people" resemble those in widespread stories shared by many cultures around the world. A conference on such creatures is held every year in Twisp, Wash.

Though accounts of sightings or of inexplicable events attributed to ircenrraat are common in Western Alaska, they seldom receive wide circulation outside the area.

The Internet age changed that.

I called Nick Andrew Jr. in Marshall, whose e-mail started the latest excitement. He intended it as a private message to a family member, he said, and was a little disconcerted that it got forwarded far and wide.

He confirmed the details, however, and gave me permission to use his name, requesting that I keep other names out of print.

Andrew was on a snowmachine hunting birds the evening of May 7, some distance out of town -- three hours away if you had to walk it, he estimated. Preparing to return home, he decided to check a different location on a hunch.

"Stopping to look, I saw a small boy all alone in middle of the marsh," he said.

He recognized the child as a boy from the village. "I asked him where's his dad or hunting partners? I grilled him with questions of who he was with and if he was alone. He was scared and had been crying. All his answers were 'I don't know.' "

He described the boy as "disoriented, dazed, confused and scared" with "no concept of time. He did not appear tired, nor was he hungry or thirsty."

But the lad was lucky, it seems. He was found in a spot frequented by large tundra brown bears.

Andrew took the boy home, noting that there were no footprints in the spring snow to indicate anyone had walked into the area. He found that puzzling. He counted at least 10 other snowmachiners in the neighborhood, none of whom had spotted the boy.

After getting the boy back to the village, he left his VHS radio on overnight, in case some other hunter reported a missing child. No one did.

"It wasn't until the next day that the story started emerging that he'd had what you'd call an out-of-the-ordinary experience," he told me. "He'd had some missing time, just like people who report being abducted by UFOs."

The boy said he was "brought into" Pilcher Mountain, a site often associated with ircenrraat encounters. There, he was questioned and saw other "little beings."

"He said he made contact with a little girl abducted over 40 years ago," Andrew said. "She told him who she was and she wanted help."

After that the ircenrraat decided to release the boy. "And that's when he came to, I guess, a few minutes before I found him."

Andrew maintained calm perspective about the experience. "Is this kid telling the truth?" he said, leaving the answer open-ended.

Responses to the e-mail, by the time it was forwarded to me, treated the news with gravity. "Ladies, please share with your husband/partners," read one forwarder. "Please tell your children about Ircinraqs (sic) and their deceptiveness," said another. "Thank God (he) found this little boy alive."

Original article here.

Boise girl, 14, believed to have run away with older man

Boise Police believe that Saddie Julian, 14, left town with Morgan Jones, 27, on May 28th. A felony kidnapping warrant has been issued for Jones' arrest.

06:59 PM PDT on Saturday, May 31, 2008


BOISE -- Boise Police are asking for the public's help in finding a Boise teenager who may have runaway with an Alabama man she met on the Internet.

Saddie "Elaine" Julian of Boise was last seen early Wednesday morning.

She is believed to be traveling with Morgan Douglas Jones, 27, of Birmingham, Alabama. Investigators say their last known location was Eastern Washington.

Police say the two met and developed a relationship while playing an Internet game. Officers believe Jones drove to Boise from Alabama and picked the teen around 7 a.m. on May 28th.

Boise Police have issued a law enforcement alert to all surrounding states and Alabama. Detectives are working closely with other local, state, and federal law enforcement to locate them.

"Our priority is finding Saddie and making sure she's safe," said Boise Police Lt. Alan Cavener. "Her family is understandably very concerned. We hope to find her soon and be able to tell her family she's okay."

Saddie is described as 5-feet tall, 90 pounds, light/pale skin, long red hair, and a thin build.

2008 Chey Aveo

Ada County Prosecutors have issued a felony kidnapping warrant for Jones.

Jones is described a 5-foot-9, 160 pounds, shoulder length red hair, with light/pale skin. He was last seen clean shaven.

He is believed to be driving a bright yellow 2008 Chevy Aveo, with Alabama license plates OMGROFL.

Anyone who may know their whereabouts is urged to contact their local law enforcement.
Original Story here