Sunday, December 16, 2012

Is Martial Law About To Be Declared in Paragould Arkansas?

File photo (subject to license)
It certainly seems like a form of martial law is about to be imposed in Arkansas with the new street crimes unit task force set to go online in early 2013. The officers will be armed to the teeth with SWAT gear and AR-15s to patrol "high crime areas" on foot. Some of the proposed actions seem to be unconstitutional.

"[Police are] going to be in SWAT gear and have AR-15s around their neck," Stovall said. "If you're out walking, we're going to stop you, ask why you're out walking, check for your ID...

...They may not be doing anything but walking their dog," he said. "But they're going to have to prove it."

It is scary to think that a police chief and mayor believe they have this type of power.  Show your papers, please!


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

California Attorney General Notifies Mobile App Developers of Non-Compliance with Privacy Law

I happened to miss this press release from the Attorney General's Office a couple of weeks back regarding mobile app privacy policies, but I heard people discussing it as a recent IP conference. Therefore, I wanted to make sure that I added the press release to the blog library!

###

Tuesday, October 30, 2012
Contact: (415) 703-5837
 
SAN FRANCISCO -- Attorney General Kamala D. Harris this week began formally notifying scores of mobile application developers and companies that they are not in compliance with California privacy law.
The companies were given 30 days to conspicuously post a privacy policy within their app that informs users of what personally identifiable information about them is being collected and what will be done with that private information. Letters will be sent out to up to 100 non-compliant apps at this time, starting with those who have the most popular apps available on mobile platforms.

"Protecting the privacy of online consumers is a serious law enforcement matter," said Attorney General Kamala D. Harris. "We have worked hard to ensure that app developers are aware of their legal obligations to respect the privacy of Californians, but it is critical that we take all necessary steps to enforce California’s privacy laws."

The letters are the first step in taking legal action to enforce the California Online Privacy Protection Act (Simitian), which requires commercial operators of online services, including mobile and social apps, which collect personally identifiable information from Californians to conspicuously post a privacy policy. Privacy policies are an important safeguard for consumers. Privacy policies promote transparency in how companies collect, use, and share personal information. Companies can face fines of up to $2,500 each time a non-compliant app is downloaded.

This action by Attorney General Harris follows an agreement she forged among the seven leading mobile and social app platforms to improve privacy protections for millions of users around the globe who use apps on their smartphones, tablets, and other electronic devices. Those platforms – Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, and Research in Motion – agreed to privacy principles designed to bring the industry in line with California law requiring mobile apps that collect personal information to have a privacy policy. The agreement allows consumers the opportunity to review an app’s privacy policy before they download the app rather than after, and offers consumers a consistent location for an app’s privacy policy on the application-download screen in the platform store.

The California Online Privacy Protection Act is one of the privacy laws that the Privacy Enforcement and Protection Unit is charged with enforcing. Created in 2012, the Privacy Unit’s mission is to enforce federal and state privacy laws regulating the collection, retention, disclosure, and destruction of private or sensitive information by individuals, organizations, and the government. This includes laws relating to cyber privacy, health privacy, financial privacy, identity theft, government records and data breaches.

The February 2012 press release announcing the apps agreement can be found here. The June 2012 press release announcing that Facebook joined the apps agreement can be found here.

A sample non-compliance letter is attached.

# # #

Copyright Alert System (CAS): ISPs to Send Notices to Alleged Infringers

For anyone who may be infringing upon copyrighted works over the world wide web and networks, you may soon be receiving a notice from your Internet Service Provider (ISP) as a part of the recently implemented Copyright Alert System (CAS). The Center for Copyright Information says that notices will start in the next couple of months. 

...[E]ach participating ISP expects to begin rolling out its version of the CAS – a system through which ISPs will pass on to their subscribers notices sent by content owners alleging copyright infringement over peer-to-peer networks. Educational alerts will come first, followed by acknowledgement alerts that require the recipients to let their ISP know they have received the notices. For accounts where alleged infringing activity continues, enhanced alerts that contain “mitigation measures” will follow. These mitigation measures will vary by ISP and range from requiring the subscriber to review educational materials, to a temporary slow-down of Internet access speed. However, termination of a consumer’s Internet service is not a part of any ISP’s Copyright Alert System program. Contrary to many erroneous reports, this is not a “six-strikes-and-you’re-out” system that would result in termination. There's no "strikeout" in this program.


Sunday, October 28, 2012

FLASHBACK: Mister Rogers Defends PBS before the United States Senate (1969)


Recently, Presidential candidate Mitt Romney said that he would kill Big Bird and PBS funding. It was quite the news story for a few days, but it is not a recent type of event. Politicians have targeted PBS in the past as evidenced by the above video of Mr. Rogers speaking before a Senate subcommittee on budget cuts. This is a blast from the past.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Possible Norovirus Outbreak Hits Thousands of Children in Germany


Image: CDC

I am not too familiar with the norovirus, so I should do some additional research. Apparently, it (or something similar) has hit thousands of children in Germany. The cause has not been definitively determined, but some of these cases have been confirmed as norovirus from food poisoning. 


...the number of children that have fallen ill with vomiting and diarrhea after eating food from school cafeterias and daycare centers has risen from about 4,500 to 8,400. 

Source: USA Today
 

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Chinese General Tells Troops to Prepare for Any Military Combat

The world appears to be igniting in flames be it in the Middle East, Central Asia and now the Asian-Pacific region with China and Japan. There is currently a territorial dispute over three (3) privately held islands in the Senkakus chain. The Japanese government recently agreed to purchase the islands from private individuals, but China is claiming the islands as its sovereign territory. In light of the dispute, Gen. Xu Caihou, vice chairman of the Central Military Commission, considered the most senior military political commissar, told his troops to be prepared for "any possible military conflict."

Xu made the remarks Thursday during a recent inspection to certain military units in north China's Shanxi Province.

Source: Xinhua

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Happy 225th Birthday to the United States Constitution

Happy birthday to the Constitution!

 

Today marks the 225th anniversary of the Constitution of the United States, publicly unveiled in Philadelphia amid considerable fanfare.

 

Source: Slate

Monday, August 27, 2012

Flu Vaccine Ingredients & Package Inserts for FDA-Approved Vaccines in the United States of America (2012-2013)

File photo

I am receiving hits about H1N1 and other flu vaccines again. It seems like the traffic spikes around every August or so in connection with this topic. Therefore, I will post the 2012-2013 flu vaccine information! Please see below for the six (6) flu vaccines that are approved for use in the United States of America.

Please note that this 2012-2013 flu vaccine will contain a vaccine for the H1N1 "swine flu" as well. You can read my 2009 and 2010 analysis on the H1N1 vaccine by clicking here.

###

1. AFLURIA (FDA link)

The FDA Approval Letter for AFLURIA by CSL Biotherapies.

Here is the package insert information from one such 2012 flu vaccine called AFLURIA by CSL Limited.

AFLURIA, Influenza Virus Vaccine for intramuscular injection, is a sterile, clear, colorless to slightly opalescent suspension with some sediment that resuspends upon shaking to form a homogeneous suspension. AFLURIA is prepared from influenza virus propagated in the allantoic fluid of embryonated chicken eggs. Following harvest, the virus is purified in a sucrose density gradient using continuous flow zonal centrifugation. The purified virus is inactivated with beta-propiolactone, and the virus particles are disrupted using sodium taurodeoxycholate to produce a “split virion”. The disrupted virus is further purified and suspended in a phosphate buffered isotonic solution.

AFLURIA is standardized according to USPHS requirements for the 2012-2013 influenza season and is formulated to contain 45 mcg hemagglutinin (HA) per 0.5 mL dose in the recommended ratio of 15 mcg HA for each of the three influenza strains recommended for the 2012-2013 Northern Hemisphere influenza season: A/California/7/2009 (H1N1), NYMC X-181, A/Victoria/361/2011 (H3N2), IVR-165, and B/Hubei-Wujiagang/158/2009, NYMC BX-39 (a B/Wisconsin/1/2010-like strain).

Thimerosal, a mercury derivative, is not used in the manufacturing process for the single dose presentations; therefore these products contain no preservative. The multi-dose presentation contains thimerosal, added as a preservative; each 0.5 mL dose contains 24.5 mcg of mercury.

A single 0.5 mL dose of AFLURIA contains sodium chloride (4.1 mg), monobasic sodium phosphate (80 mcg), dibasic sodium phosphate (300 mcg), monobasic potassium phosphate (20 mcg), potassium chloride (20 mcg), and calcium chloride (1.5 mcg). From the manufacturing process, each 0.5 mL dose may also contain residual amounts of sodium taurodeoxycholate (≤ 10 ppm), ovalbumin (≤ 1 mcg), neomycin sulfate ( ≤ 3 nanograms [ng]), polymyxin B (≤ 0.5 ng), and beta-propiolactone (≤ 2 ng).

The rubber tip cap and plunger used for the preservative-free, single-dose syringes and the rubber stoppers used for the multi-dose vial contain no latex.

2. FLUARIX (FDA link)

The FDA Approval Letter for Fluarix by GlaxoSmithKline.

Here is the package insert and the ingredients information for the Fluarix vaccine are below.

FLUARIX, Influenza Virus Vaccine, for intramuscular injection, is a sterile colorless and slightly opalescent suspension. FLUARIX is a vaccine prepared from influenza viruses propagated in embryonated chicken eggs. Each of the influenza viruses is produced and purified separately. After harvesting the virus-containing fluids, each influenza virus is concentrated and purified by zonal centrifugation using a linear sucrose density gradient solution containing detergent to disrupt the viruses. Following dilution, the vaccine is further purified by diafiltration. Each influenza virus solution is inactivated by the consecutive effects of sodium deoxycholate and formaldehyde leading to the production of a “split virus.” Each split inactivated virus is then suspended in sodium phosphate-buffered isotonic sodium chloride solution. The vaccine is formulated from the 3 split inactivated virus solutions.

FLUARIX has been standardized according to USPHS requirements for the 2012-2013 influenza season and is formulated to contain 45 micrograms (mcg) hemagglutinin (HA) per 0.5-mL dose, in the recommended ratio of 15 mcg HA of each of the following 3 strains: A/Christchurch/16/2010 NIB-74XP (H1N1) (an A/California/7/2009-like virus), A/Victoria/361/2011 IVR-165 (H3N2), and B/Hubei-Wujiagang/158/2009 NYMC BX-39 (a B/Wisconsin/1/2010-like virus).

FLUARIX is formulated without preservatives. FLUARIX does not contain thimerosal. Each 0.5-mL dose also contains octoxynol-10 (TRITON® X-100) 0.085 mg, α-tocopheryl hydrogen succinate0.1 mg, and polysorbate 80 (Tween 80) 0.415 mg. Each dose may also contain residual amounts of hydrocortisone 0.0016 mcg, gentamicin sulfate 0.15 mcg, ovalbumin 0.05 mcg, formaldehyde 5 mcg, and sodium deoxycholate 50 mcg from the manufacturing process.

The tip caps of the prefilled syringes may contain natural rubber latex. The rubber plungers do not contain latex.

3. FLULAVAL (FDA link)

The FDA Approval Letter for FluLaval by ID Biomedical Corporation.


FLULAVAL, Influenza Virus Vaccine, for intramuscular injection, is a trivalent, split-virion, inactivated influenza virus vaccine prepared from virus propagated in the allantoic cavity of embryonated hens’ eggs. Each of the influenza virus strains is produced and purified separately. The virus is inactivated with ultraviolet light treatment followed by formaldehyde treatment, purified by centrifugation, and disrupted with sodium deoxycholate.

FLULAVAL is a sterile, translucent to whitish opalescent suspension in a phosphate-buffered saline solution that may sediment slightly. The sediment resuspends upon shaking to form a homogeneous suspension. FLULAVAL has been standardized according to USPHS requirements for the 2012-2013 influenza season and is formulated to contain 45 mcg hemagglutinin (HA) per 0.5-mL dose in the recommended ratio of 15 mcg HA of each of the following 3 strains: A/California/7/2009 NYMC X-179A (H1N1), A/Victoria/361/2011 IVR-165 (H3N2), and B/Hubei-Wujiagang/158/2009 NYMC BX-39 (a B/Wisconsin/1/2010-like virus).

Thimerosal, a mercury derivative, is added as a preservative. Each 0.5-mL dose contains 50 mcg thimerosal (<25 mcg mercury). Each 0.5-mL dose may also contain residual amounts of ovalbumin (0.3 mcg), formaldehyde (25 mcg), and sodium deoxycholate (50 mcg) from the manufacturing process. Antibiotics are not used in the manufacture of this vaccine. The vial stopper does not contain latex.

4. FluMist (FDA link)

The FDA Approval Letter for FluMist by MedImmune Vaccines, Inc.

FluMist (Influenza Vaccine Live, Intranasal) is a live trivalent vaccine for administration by intranasal spray. FluMist contains three vaccine virus strains: an A/H1N1 strain, an A/H3N2 strain and one B strain...

Each pre-filled refrigerated FluMist sprayer contains a single 0.2 mL dose. Each 0.2 mL dose contains 106.5-7.5 FFU (fluorescent focus units) of live attenuated influenza virus reassortants of each of the three strains: A/California/7/2009 (H1N1), A/Victoria/361/2011 (H3N2), and B/Wisconsin/1/2010. Each 0.2 mL dose also contains 0.188 mg/dose monosodium glutamate, 2.00 mg/dose hydrolyzed porcine gelatin, 2.42 mg/dose arginine, 13.68 mg/dose sucrose, 2.26 mg/dose dibasic potassium phosphate, and 0.96 mg/dose monobasic potassium phosphate. Each dose contains residual amounts of ovalbumin (< 0.24 mcg/dose), and may also contain residual amounts of gentamicin sulfate (< 0.015 mcg/mL), and ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) (< 0.37 mcg/dose). FluMist contains no preservatives.

The tip attached to the sprayer is equipped with a nozzle that produces a fine mist that is primarily deposited in the nose and nasopharynx. FluMist is a colorless to pale yellow suspension and is clear to slightly cloudy.

I never had heard about porcine gelatin until I started writing these vaccine ingredients articles a few years back. Porcine gelatin is essentially processed pigskins. I'll quote some of the process here in case you don't have time to click the link. Also if anyone's religion or background prohibits any consumption or ingestion of pig or pork products, then please check to see if this porcine (a/k/a pig or pork) gelatin ingredient in the vaccine is permitted.

Acid Pretreatment Process or Porcine Gelatin (Type A Gelatin)

Acid pretreatment is invariably used for porcine gelatin. Pigskins are first dehaired, usually by a combination of steam, rubber paddles, and flame (Farmer, et al., 1982). The pigskins may then be degreased by various methods, such as centrifuged in a rotating drum heated with steam to temperatures between 60° and 65° C. or approximately 150°-160°F. (Hinterwaldner, 1977a). Petroleum-based solvents such as tetrachloroethylene (TCE) may also be used to degrease animals, but this is less common than steam and mechanical methods because of safety and environmental issues (Norris, 1982). Hydrogen peroxide may be used to remove grease passed through a chopper or macerator to cut the skin into uniform sizes (Keenan, 1994). The skins are then soaked at a pH of 1 to 4 with a food-grade mineral acid such as hydrochloric (HCl), phosphoric (H3PO4), or sulfuric (H2SO4) acid for 8 to 30 hours (Hinterwaldner, 1977b; Keenan, 1994; Cole, 2000; Ledward, 2000). This treatment causes the material to swell to two to three times its pre-treatment volume (Ledward, 2000). The acid-treated pigskins are then washed with water to remove impurities. The skins are then extracted with hot water and the extract is filtered through an anion-cation exchange column to reduce ash or mineral levels. The gelatin extract is vacuum concentrated or ultra filtered to a concentration of between 15 and 35%, filtered, pH adjusted to between 3.5 and 6, evaporated to 50% solids, sterilized at temperatures between 248-303°F. for up to 13 seconds, chilled and extruded into noodles approximately 1/8 inch diameter, dried through a multi zone oven at 158°F., and milled to the specified particle size and packaged (Hinterwaldner, 1977a). Acid pretreatment is sometimes used for beef ossein, but this is relatively uncommon (Rose, 1990).

5. Fluvirin (FDA link)

The FDA Approval Letter for Fluvirin by Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics Limited

FLUVIRIN® is a trivalent, sub-unit (purified surface antigen) influenza virus vaccine prepared from virus propagated in the allantoic cavity of embryonated hens’ eggs inoculated with a specific type of influenza virus suspension containing neomycin and polymyxin. Each of the influenza virus strains is harvested and clarified separately by centrifugation and filtration prior to inactivation with betapropiolactone. The inactivated virus is concentrated and purified by zonal centrifugation. The surface antigens, hemagglutinin and neuraminidase, are obtained from the influenza virus particle by further centrifugation in the presence of nonylphenol ethoxylate, a process which removes most of the internal proteins. The nonylphenol ethoxylate is removed from the surface antigen preparation.

FLUVIRIN® is a homogenized, sterile, slightly opalescent suspension in a phosphate buffered saline. FLUVIRIN® has been standardized according to USPHS requirements for the 2012-2013 influenza season and is formulated to contain 45 mcg hemagglutinin (HA) per 0.5-mL dose in the recommended ratio of 15 mcg HA of each of the following 3 viruses:

A/Christchurch/16/2010, NIB-74 (H1N1) (an A/California/7/2009-like virus); A/Victoria/361/2011, IVR-165 (H3N2); and B/ Hubei-Wujiagang/158/2009, NYMC BX-39 (a B/Wisconsin/1/2010-like virus).

The 0.5-mL prefilled syringe presentation is formulated without preservative. However, thimerosal, a mercury derivative used during manufacturing, is removed by subsequent purification steps to a trace amount (≤ 1 mcg mercury per 0.5-mL dose).

The 5-mL multidose vial formulation contains thimerosal, a mercury derivative, added as a preservative. Each 0.5-mL dose from the multidose vial contains 25 mcg mercury.

Each dose from the multidose vial or from the prefilled syringe may also contain residual amounts of egg proteins (≤ 1 mcg ovalbumin), polymyxin (≤ 3.75 mcg), neomycin (≤ 2.5 mcg), betapropiolactone (not more than 0.5 mcg) and nonylphenol ethoxylate (not more than 0.015% w/v).

The tip caps of the FLUVIRIN® prefilled syringes may contain natural rubber latex. The multidose vial stopper and the syringe stopper/plunger do not contain latex.

6. Fluzone, Fluzone High-Dose and Fluzone Intradermal (FDA link)

The FDA Approval Letter for Fluzone, Fluzone High Dose and Fluzone Intradermal by Sanofi Pasteur

Fluzone High-Dose

Fluzone Intradermal

Fluzone


Table 6: Fluzone Ingredients Ingredient

Quantity (per dose)

Fluzone 0.25 mL Dose

Fluzone 0.5 mL Dose


Active Substance: Split influenza virus, inactivated strainsa:

22.5 mcg HA total

45 mcg HA total

A (H1N1)

7.5 mcg HA

15 mcg HA

A (H3N2)

7.5 mcg HA

15 mcg HA

B

7.5 mcg HA

15 mcg HA

Other:

Sodium phosphate-buffered isotonic sodium chloride solution

QSb to appropriate volume

QSb to appropriate volume

Formaldehyde

≤50 mcg

≤100 mcg

Octylphenol Ethoxylate

≤75 mcg

≤150 mcg

Gelatin

0.05%

0.05%

Preservative

Single-Dose Presentations

None

None

Multi-Dose Presentation (Thimerosal)

N/A

25 mcg mercury






...
Source: FDA

U.S. Weapons Sales Hit Historic Record Level of $66.3 Billion in 2011 (78% of Global Market)

R42121

The United States of America no longer produces the vast majority of the world's televisions, computers and other manufactured products. Those industries and products were outsourced years ago to other countries around the globe. However, there is one industry that has not been outsourced and that is the weapons and arms industry. In 2011, a record number of weapons were sold abroad!

Overseas weapons sales by the US totalled $US66.3 billion ($63.78 billion) last year, or nearly 78 per cent of the global arms market, valued at $85.3 billion in 2011. Russia was a distant second, with $4.8 billion in deals.

I have attached a Congressional Research report on U.S. arms sales from 2003-2010 for additional reference.

Source: Sydney Morning Herald


Sunday, August 19, 2012

FDA Approves Influenza Vaccine Formulations for 2012-2013 Season

I will write a more detailed post in the coming days that will provide links to the specific vaccines and the ingredients of each of these 2012-2013 approved vaccines as I have done in previous years.

###

FDA NEWS RELEASE

For Immediate Release: Aug. 13, 2012
Media Inquiries: Heidi Rebello, 301-796-4566, heidi.rebello@fda.hhs.gov
Consumer Inquiries: 888-INFO-FDA, OCOD@fda.hhs.gov

FDA approves vaccines for the 2012-2013 influenza season

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced today that it has approved the 2012-2013 influenza (flu) vaccine formulation for all six manufacturers licensed to produce and distribute the vaccines in the United States.

Each year experts from the FDA, the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and other public health experts study influenza virus samples and global disease patterns to identify virus strains likely to cause the most illness during the upcoming flu season.

Based on that information and the recommendations of the FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee, the strains selected for inclusion in the 2012-2013 flu vaccines are:
  • A/California/7/2009 (H1N1)-like virus
  • A/Victoria/361/2011 (H3N2)-like virus
  • B/Wisconsin/1/2010-like virus.
While the H1N1 virus is the same as what was included in the 2011-2012 influenza vaccines, this year’s influenza H3N2 and B viruses differ from those in the 2011-2012 influenza vaccines.
Vaccination remains the cornerstone of preventing influenza, a contagious respiratory disease caused by different influenza viruses infecting the nose, throat and lungs. This year’s seasonal vaccines will provide protection against the three influenza virus strains that global surveillance indicates are likely to be the most common strains circulating during the upcoming season.

There is always a possibility of a less than optimal match between the virus strains predicted to circulate and the virus strains that end up causing the most illness. However, even if the vaccine and the circulating strains are not an exact match, the vaccine may reduce the severity of the illness or may help prevent influenza-related complications.

“The best way to prevent influenza is by getting vaccinated each year,” said Karen Midthun, M.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research. “It is especially important to get vaccinated this year because two of the three virus strains used in this season’s influenza vaccines differ from the strains included in last year’s vaccines.”
According to the CDC, between 5 percent and 20 percent of the U.S. population develops influenza each year. This leads to more than 200,000 hospitalizations from related complications. Influenza seasons are unpredictable and can be severe, with annual influenza-related deaths ranging from a low of about 3,000 to a high of 49,000 people in the U.S. The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, recommends that everyone six months of age and older receive an annual influenza vaccine.

Health care providers play an important role in advising their patients to get vaccinated each year and should also protect themselves, their patients, their family, and the community from influenza by getting vaccinated.

The manufacturers licensed to produce the nation’s 2012-2013 flu vaccines and the brand names of the vaccines for the upcoming flu season are:
  • Afluria, manufactured by CSL Limited;
  • Fluarix, manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals;
  • FluLaval, manufactured by ID Biomedical Corporation;
  • FluMist, manufactured by MedImmune Vaccines Inc.;
  • Fluvirin, manufactured by Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics Limited; and
  • Fluzone, Fluzone High-Dose and Fluzone Intradermal, manufactured by Sanofi Pasteur.
For more information:
The FDA, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, protects the public health by assuring the safety, effectiveness, and security of human and veterinary drugs, vaccines and other biological products for human use, and medical devices. The agency also is responsible for the safety and security of our nation’s food supply, cosmetics, dietary supplements, products that give off electronic radiation, and for regulating tobacco products.

# # #

Thursday, August 16, 2012

FLASHBACK: DARPA to Develop Humanoid Robot Systems (2012)


Another day. Another DARPA. Another DARPA story that is. This time the story is about DARPA's plan to develop humanoid robots to help with disaster relief.

The Department of Defense’s strategic plan calls for the Joint Force to conduct humanitarian, disaster relief and related operations. The plan identifies requirements to extend aid to victims of natural or man-made disasters and conduct evacuation operations. Some disasters, however, due to grave risks to the health and wellbeing of rescue and aid workers, prove too great in scale or scope for timely and effective human response. The DARPA Robotics Challenge (DRC) will attempt to address this capability gap by promoting innovation in robotic technology for disaster-response operations.

I remember this part of the Animatrix movie (click the link above to watch that movie). I believe it was in The Second Renaissance Part I when the humans decided to build humanoid robots to do its work. If a movie can be any guide to real life, then we know what will ultimately happen once these DARPA-bots are operational. They will fight humanity to the death!

The initial solicitation is outdated, but the DARPA Robotics Challenge (DRC) webpage has updated information and it says the program is set to launch in October, 2012.

###

Solicitation Number:
DARPA-SN-12-35
Notice Type:
Special Notice
Synopsis:
Added: Apr 12, 2012 8:47 pm

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Tactical Technology Office (TTO), intends to award a sole source contract to Boston Dynamics Inc. (BDI), of Waltham, Mass. For the contract, BDI will develop and build a set of humanoid robot systems for use by performers in both phases of the DARPA Robotics Challenge program. This effort will develop approximately 8 identical platforms consisting of two legs, torso, on board computing, two arms with hands, and a sensor head. BDI will deliver these robots to DARPA so they can be provided to the top software development teams based on the results of the Virtual Disaster Challenge. Boston Dynamics will also provide in the field support and as required maintenance to the delivered systems.

The U.S. Army under its Protection Ensemble Test Mannequin (PETMAN) program developed, with Boston Dynamics, a humanoid robot with advanced range of motion and strength. This effort was then the basis of work done by BDI under the DARPA DSO M3 program on a platform named Atlas to increase its mobility. These two efforts have combined to develop a one of a kind humanoid robot with state of the art capability. DARPA has been a lead researcher in ground robotics over the last few decades. In addition it has tracked developments in this area outside the agency. Of the few existing humanoid robots, BDI was deemed to be the sole viable supplier for providing the necessary robotic platform capability within the specified timeframe.

The proposed contract action is for supplies or services for which the Government intends to solicit and negotiate with only one source under authority of FAR 6.302-1 "Only one responsible source and no other supplies or services will satisfy agency requirements." As the legged robot leader, Boston Dynamics Inc. possesses unique knowledge and capabilities required to carry out the required research effort. No other source would be capable of satisfying the requirements for an affordable end-to-end solution necessary to meet the Government's needs.

This notice of intent is not a request for competitive proposals and no solicitation is currently available. However, interested parties may identify their interest and capability to respond to the requirement. Responses received within forty-five (45) days after date of publication of this notice will be considered by the Government. Information received will be considered solely for the purpose of determining whether to conduct a competitive procurement. A determination by the Government not to compete this proposed effort on a full and open basis is solely within the discretion of the Government. Interested parties may identify their interest and capability to meet the requirements by submitting a white paper and past performance data by no later than 28 May 2012 to The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Attn: Mr. Christopher Glista, Contracts Management Office (CMO), 3701 North Fairfax Drive, Arlington, VA 22203-1714 or via email to christopher.glista@darpa.mil. Questions shall be submitted to the above email address.

Contracting Office Address:
3701 North Fairfax Drive
Arlington, Virginia 22203-1714
Primary Point of Contact.:
Chris Glista
christopher.glista@darpa.mil


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Dallas Requests State of Emergency Aerial Spraying to Combat West Nile Virus Outbreak

I have never been a fan of aerial chemical spraying. I remember when I was a kid in Memphis, the mosquito-spraying trucks would drive through our neighborhoods wantonly spraying chemicals to kill the mosquitoes. The neighborhood would always smell nasty for many hours after the spraying. I have no idea what chemicals I was inhaling nor the effects. Perhaps it was harmless, but perhaps it has caused side effects that I may never know. I do not trust my government to make the correct decisions when it comes to my well-being, so I am always suspicious when the government introduces chemicals into the environment for some alleged beneficial purpose.

Nevertheless, for anyone living in Dallas, Texas, you may soon be bombarded (if not already) with aerial spray as the Mayor has declared a state of emergency. The virus has already killed 10 people...

Many of those who died were in frail health and had underlying medical conditions.

“I think this is the right thing to do. I cannot have any more deaths on my conscience because we didn’t take action,” [Mayor] Rawlings said.

The city has seen 111 reported infections that caused 65 hospitalizations.

As part of this site's public service to any visitors from the Dallas-Fort Worth area, I will post the information links from the Mayor's page as they are posted there.

West Nile Aerial Spraying

STAY TUNED for specific days and times aerial spraying will occur.

The Texas Department of State Health Services is working closely with Dallas-area public health and emergency management officials and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention concerning the extremely high number of human cases of the disease in Dallas County.

“The disease poses an immediate public health threat to Dallas County. We need to use all possible tools, including aerial spraying, to fight this outbreak,” said Dr. David Lakey, DSHS commissioner. “We will support the decisions made by local officials as we work together to confront this situation.”

Aerial spraying is a very effective and safe way to kill adult mosquitoes in large, densely populated areas. For people concerned about exposure during aerial spraying, health officials suggest the following precautions:

  • Minimize exposure. Avoid being outside, close windows and consider keeping pets inside while spraying occurs.
  • If skin or clothes are exposed, wash them with soap and water.
  • Rinse homegrown fruits and vegetables with water as a general precautionary measure.
  • Cover small ornamental fish ponds.
  • Because the chemical breaks down quickly in sunlight and water, no special precautions are suggested for outdoor swimming areas.

DSHS contracts with Clarke, a private environmental products and services company, for aerial application of mosquito control products. The product is called Duet, which is labeled and approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for use in outdoor and residential areas. The active ingredients are in the same chemical family as products currently being used for ground spraying in the Dallas area. The product would be applied at very low dosages – less than an ounce per acre – by small, twin-engine aircrafts flying at approximately 300 feet above ground overnight.

Texas has more than 380 state-confirmed cases of West Nile illness for 2012, including 16 related deaths. Texas is on track to have the most cases of West Nile illness since the disease first emerged in the state in 2002. Humans can contract West Nile virus from a mosquito bite. The virus can cause serious illness or death.

LINKS:

OTHER RESOURCES:

Warm Seawater in Long Island Sound Forces Shutdown of Connecticut Nuclear Plant

Image subject to license

I will keep my eyes on this story to see when Unit 2 of the Millstone Power Station reopens. A power station being offline during the summer is never a good thing. However, the power station was closed last Sunday, because the water used to cool the reactors comes from Long Island Sound and the current water temperature is too hot. Unit 2 provides 840 megawatts of electricity at the 2,100 megawatt power station, so some serious energy capacity is offline!

Water from Long Island Sound is used to cool key components of the plant and is discharged back into the sound. The water cannot be warmer than 75 degrees and following the hottest July on record has been averaging 1.7 degrees above the limit, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said.

The federal agency issued an ‘‘emergency license amendment’’ last week, allowing Millstone, a subsidiary of Dominion Resources Inc., to use an average temperature of several readings.


Source: Boston.com


Friday, July 27, 2012

Oregon Man Sentenced to Thirty (30) Days in Jail for Catching Rainwater on His Property


If you're a criminal banker or killer, you can usually escape justice in our world these days and in many cases even avoid jail time. However, if you catch rainwater, you might get a jail sentence just like this man in Eagle Point, Oregon.

A rural Eagle Point man was sentenced to 30 days in jail Wednesday for filling what state water managers have called three illegal reservoirs on his property.

Gary Harrington was also fined more than $1,500 for nine misdemeanor convictions for filling his reservoirs with rain and snow runoff that the state says is owned by the Medford Water Commission. He was given two weeks to report to the Jackson County Jail to begin serving his sentence.


Source: Mail Tribune

Saturday, July 07, 2012

U.S. Copyright Office Says That Yoga Sequences Are Not Copyrightable

Source: Judith (subject to license)

This one is for all the yoga heads out there in the world. I know you're out there, because I see you carrying around your yoga mats like a baguette in a grocery bag. If you create your own yoga sequences, you cannot copyright the sequences!

The U.S. Copyright Office issued this ruling on June 22, 2012 (see
Federal Register /Vol. 77, No. 121 / Friday, June 22, 2012 / page 37605). The Copyright Office's statement clarifies the Office's examination practices with respect to claims in ‘‘compilation authorship,’’ or the selection, coordination, or arrangement of material that is otherwise separately uncopyrightable. Yoga sequences were included in these materials that are uncopyrightable.

An example that has occupied the attention of the Copyright Office for quite some time involves the copyrightability of the selection and arrangement of preexisting exercises, such as yoga poses. Interpreting the statutory definition of ‘‘compilation’’ in isolation could lead to the conclusion that a sufficiently creative selection, coordination or arrangement of public domain yoga poses is copyrightable as a compilation of such poses or exercises. However, under the policy stated herein, a claim in a compilation of exercises or the selection and arrangement of yoga poses will be refused registration. Exercise is not a category of authorship in section 102 and thus a compilation of exercises would not be copyrightable subject matter. The Copyright Office would entertain a claim in the selection, coordination or arrangement of, for instance, photographs or drawings of exercises, but such compilation authorship would not extend to the selection, coordination or arrangement of the exercises themselves that are depicted in the photographs or drawings. Rather such a claim would be limited to selection, coordination, or arrangement of the photographs or drawings that fall within the congressionally-recognized category of authorship of pictorial, graphic and sculptural works.

Source: The Copyright Office


Monday, June 18, 2012

Utah Public Health Officials Confirm Two (2) Deaths from Hantavirus!


I have not been focusing on the pandemic issues like I used to do in the past. Here's a current story about hantavirus (dated as of June 5, 2012) that is something like I would have posted without delay 2-3 years ago. Please note that the Utah Department of Health is using Blogspot to post its official news releases.

Click the link for more information on the hantavirus.

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Two Hantavirus-related Deaths in Utah

(Salt Lake City, UT) – Utah public health officials have confirmed two deaths as a result of hantavirus exposure. The deaths occurred in Millard County and in Salt Lake County as a result of Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS), a rare, but deadly, lung disease.

HPS is spread by breathing in dust around rodent-infested areas that contain hantavirus, and is not spread from person-to-person. This can happen when rodent urine and droppings that contain hantavirus become airborne. The average age of known cases is 35 years with an age range of 11 to 69 years. No ethnic group appears to be more at risk than another.

Activities that can put people at risk include:
• Improperly cleaning up mouse and rat urine, droppings and nests.
• Cleaning a shed or cabin that has been closed for some time.
• Working in areas where mice and rats may live (such as barns).

Although HPS is rare, infection can be prevented by avoiding contact with rodents and their droppings. Try to avoid any activities that might stir up dust around rodent-infested areas.

To safely clean up rodent urine and droppings, wear a mask, glasses, and rubber or plastic gloves. Get the urine and droppings very wet with disinfectant or a mixture of bleach and water. Allow to soak for five minutes. Use a paper towel to wipe up urine or droppings and throw the towel into the garbage. Mop the area with disinfectant or a bleach solution.

When finished, wash gloved hands with soap and water or spray a disinfectant or bleach solution on the gloves before taking them off. Wash hands with soap and warm water after removing the gloves.
The recommended cleaning solution is a mixture of 1½ cups household bleach and 1 gallon of water. A smaller amount can be made with one part bleach and 10 parts water.

Hantavirus symptoms generally begin with a fever greater than 100.5° F, muscle aches, and chills. Other common symptoms include coughing, shortness of breath, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, and headache. Less common symptoms are dizziness or a light-headed feeling, sweating, and joint, back, chest, or abdominal pain. If you experience symptoms, contact your medical provider immediately.

Media Contact:
Rebecca Ward
Media Coordinator
(801) 538-6822 (o)
(801) 647-5421 (m)

Source: Utah Department of Health


Monday, June 11, 2012

U.S. Navy RQ-4A Global Hawk Drone Crashes in Marsh Near Salisbury, Maryland


If the military does indeed put 30,000 drones in American skies, I bet that we will see more crashes of these drones like this one in Maryland. In fact, I predicted that we would see more crashes of these things once there were more of them in the sky. 

The RQ-4A Global Hawk drone crashed during a routine training flight from Naval Air Station Patuxent River, according to Jamie Cosgrove, a spokeswoman for the Unmanned Aviation and Strike Weapons Program at the base. 

Source: CNN