Brink of an antibiotic apocalypse?

Since the discovery of penicillin in 1928 the prevention and treatment of infections has been revolutionised, and many millions of lives have been saved.

Many different antibiotics were since developed and used. Unfortunately they have also been misused and overused, not just by humans but also with stock to improve production of meat.

The ability for new medical treatments to keep ahead of evolving bacteria is under serious threat.

Resistance of bacteria to antibiotics has become a major problem. Since 2009 only two new antibiotics have been approved in the US.

NZ Herald: The Big Read: Is the world on the brink of an antibiotic apocalypse?

Scientists are becoming increasingly worried about the threat of an antibiotic Armageddon but are Kiwis in the dark? As a week-long awareness campaign InfectedNZ kicks off, science reporter Jamie Morton talks to two leading Kiwi microbiologists.

Across the world, scientists and clinicians are becoming increasingly worried about bacteria and other pathogens, which are evolving to resist drugs at a rate outpacing the development of new medicines.

In a world without antibiotics, previously treatable infections will once again become deadly, or may require amputation to stop them in their tracks.

Because antibiotics are also used to prevent infection in vulnerable people, it will also become life-threateningly risky to perform routine operations such as caesarean sections and joint replacements, and treatments like chemotherapy for cancer.

In a series of recent reports commissioned by former British Prime Minister David Cameron, economist Sir Jim O’Neill estimated that without urgent action, antimicrobial resistance would kill 10 million people a year by 2050, more than will die from cancer.

Already, an estimated 700,000-plus people worldwide die each year due to drug-resistant infections.

But the effect could be much more devastating when even today’s easily-treatable diseases are found harder to combat.

As described it’s a big read, but an important one. It’s associated with a campaign this week.

New campaign launches

The new online campaign InfectedNZ, running this week, aims to boost awareness about the health, social and economic impacts of infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance across New Zealand.

The campaign will feature a series of research-driven blog posts and social media conversation.

It’s being hosted by Auckland University-based centre of research excellence Te Panaha Matatini, while data used in the discussions is collated and provided by Figure.NZ, a charity devoted to getting people to use data about New Zealand.

“We decided it was time we started a national conversation about infectious diseases and what we’re going to do about the looming antimicrobial Armageddon,” said Wiles, who has helped organise the campaign.

“That’s why we’ve asked leading health, social and economic researchers, and people with personal stories, to write for us this week at tepunhahamatatini.ac.nz and on social media with #infectedNZ.”

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More at InfectedNZ.

 

 

 

Apocalypse imminent?

Tobias Stone, described as a leading British academic who specialises in archeology and anthropology, has written an article suggesting that another great war is looming. And the warning of impending apocalypse is apparently gaining traction.

Predictions of apocalypses are common so I’m not sure why this one is getting so much attention.

The Doomsday clock was left at 3 minutes to midnight in January this year by the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists…

…recent progress in the Iran nuclear agreement and the Paris climate accord “constitute only small bright spots in a darker world situation full of potential for catastrophe.”

But that was before the rise of Donald Trump in the US and the Brexit vote in the UK.

NZH: Trump, Putin and Brexit all signs another world war is coming

Tobias Stone, who specialises in archeology and anthropology, has invoked the apocalypse in an article published this week that is rapidly gaining traction.

Stone argues that there are chilling similarities between the terrifying dictators who led us into WWI and WWII and modern politicians such as Vladimir Putin, Robert Mugabe and US Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

“Trump says he will Make America great again, when in fact America is currently great, according to pretty well any statistics,” he writes – an observation echoed by US President Barack Obama in his speech to the Democratic National Convention on Thursday.

“He is using passion, anger, and rhetoric in the same way all his predecessors did – a charismatic narcissist who feeds on the crowd to become ever stronger, creating a cult around himself.

“You can blame society, politicians, the media, for America getting to the point that it’s ready for Trump, but the bigger historical picture is that history generally plays out the same way each time someone like him becomes the boss.”

Stone says it’s a scenario that’s playing out across the world.

“Russia is a dictatorship with a charismatic leader using fear and passion to establish a cult around himself,” he writes.

“Turkey is now there too. Hungary, Poland, Slovakia are heading that way, and across Europe more Trumps and Putins are waiting in the wings, in fact funded by Putin, waiting for the popular tide to turn their way.”

Throw in Brexit and you have the perfect storm – conditions that are ripe for a Third World War, and a nuclear one at that. Stone paints a terrifying picture of how it could all play out.

“An example of how Brexit could lead to a nuclear war could be this: Brexit in the UK causes Italy or France to have a similar referendum,” he writes.

“Le Pen wins an election in France. Europe now has a fractured EU. The EU, for all its many awful faults, has prevented a war in Europe for longer than ever before. The EU is also a major force in suppressing Putin’s military ambitions.

“European sanctions on Russia really hit the economy, and helped temper Russia’s attacks on Ukraine (there is a reason bad guys always want a weaker European Union). Trump wins in the US. Trump becomes isolationist, which weakens Nato. He has already said he would not automatically honour Nato commitments in the face of a Russian attack on the Baltics.

“With a fractured EU, and weakened Nato, Putin, facing an ongoing economic and social crisis in Russia, needs another foreign distraction around which to rally his people. He funds far-right anti-EU activists in Latvia, who then create a reason for an uprising of the Russian Latvians in the east of the country (the EU border with Russia).

“Russia sends ‘peace keeping forces’ and ‘aid lorries’ into Latvia, as it did in Georgia, and in Ukraine. (Putin) annexes Eastern Latvia as he did Eastern Ukraine (Crimea has the same population as Latvia, by the way).

“A divided Europe, with the leaders of France, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, and others now pro-Russia, anti-EU, and funded by Putin, overrule calls for sanctions or a military response. Nato is slow to respond: Trump does not want America to be involved, and a large part of Europe is indifferent or blocking any action.

“Russia, seeing no real resistance to their actions, move further into Latvia, and then into eastern Estonia and Lithuania. The Baltic States declare war on Russia and start to retaliate, as they have now been invaded so have no choice. Half of Europe sides with them, a few countries remain neutral, and a few side with Russia. Where does Turkey stand on this? How does [Isis] respond to a new war in Europe? Who uses a nuclear weapon first?”

Stone believes we ignore the warning signs, the unnerving feelings of déjà vu and allow history to repeat itself because most peoples’ perspective is limited to the experience communicated by their parents and their grandparents.

“My point is that this is a cycle,” he writes.

All sorts of things could and will happen. And have happened – the Highlanders didn’t make the Super final.

But is a World War more likely than usual?

Is the apocalypse really imminent? Just in case:

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ISIS – apostles of the Apocalypse

A caliphate established by radical Muslims that supports genocide and appears intent on precipitating World War 3 with an aim of engineering the Apocalypse – “that it considers itself a harbinger of—and headline player in—the imminent end of the world.”

A chilling explanation of what is driving the Islamic State, by Graeme Wood at The Atlantic, and the deadly destination they are intent of reaching.

What ISIS Really Wants

The Islamic State is no mere collection of psychopaths. It is a religious group with carefully considered beliefs, among them that it is a key agent of the coming apocalypse. Here’s what that means for its strategy—and for how to stop it.

Short version – they want to revert to practising Islam word for word as written 1500 years ago. This means reliigious law, genocide and precipitating the end of the world.

In conversation, they insist that they will not—cannot—waver from governing precepts that were embedded in Islam by the Prophet Muhammad and his earliest followers.

The reality is that the Islamic State is Islamic. Very Islamic. Yes, it has attracted psychopaths and adventure seekers, drawn largely from the disaffected populations of the Middle East and Europe. But the religion preached by its most ardent followers derives from coherent and even learned interpretations of Islam.

Virtually every major decision and law promulgated by the Islamic State adheres to what it calls, in its press and pronouncements, and on its billboards, license plates, stationery, and coins, “the Prophetic methodology,” which means following the prophecy and example of Muhammad, in punctilious detail.

And being fanalical religion based they are not the sort of people to be persuaded that they might be wrong.

Our ignorance of the Islamic State is in some ways understandable: It is a hermit kingdom; few have gone there and returned. Baghdadi has spoken on camera only once. But his address, and the Islamic State’s countless other propaganda videos and encyclicals, are online, and the caliphate’s supporters have toiled mightily to make their project knowable.

We can gather that their state rejects peace as a matter of principle; that it hungers for genocide; that its religious views make it constitutionally incapable of certain types of change, even if that change might ensure its survival; and that it considers itself a harbinger of—and headline player in—the imminent end of the world.

The Islamic State, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), follows a distinctive variety of Islam whose beliefs about the path to the Day of Judgment matter to its strategy, and can help the West know its enemy and predict its behavior.

Its rise to power is less like the triumph of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt (a group whose leaders the Islamic State considers apostates) than like the realization of a dystopian alternate reality in which David Koresh or Jim Jones survived to wield absolute power over not just a few hundred people, but some 8 million.

And holding territory is an important part of their plans – an essential part.

Control of territory is an essential precondition for the Islamic State’s authority in the eyes of its supporters. This map, adapted from the work of the Institute for the Study of War, shows the territory under the caliphate’s control as of January 15, along with areas it has attacked. Where it holds power, the state collects taxes, regulates prices, operates courts, and administers services ranging from health care and education to telecommunications.

So doing nothing and allowing them to capture and control more territory doesn’t seem a wise option.

But combatting their influence and their spread won’t be easy and it won’t be without paying potentially a heavy price.

They are provoking more and more countries. That must be deliberate.

They want to precipitate World War Three and want it to be the war that ends all wars, the end of human civilisation.

They only represent a small minority of Muslims. But they are growing in numbers and influence.

We should be worried.

All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent – Edmund Burke

It’s a long article but worth wading through – What ISIS Really Wants

Caliphate (Wikipedia):

A caliphate (Arabic: خِلافة‎ khilāfa) is a form of Islamic government led by a caliph (Arabic: خَليفة‎khalīfah   pronunciation (help·info))—a person considered a political and religious successor to the prophet Muhammad and a leader of the entire Muslim community.

The Rashidun caliphs, who directly succeeded Muhammad as leaders of the Muslim community, were chosen through shura, a process of community consultation which some consider an early form of Islamic democracy.

During the history of Islam after the Rashidun period, many Muslim states, almost all of them hereditary monarchies, have claimed to be caliphates.

The Sunni branch of Islam stipulates that, as a head of state, a Caliph should be elected by Muslims or their representatives. Followers of Shia Islam, however, believe a Caliph should be an Imam chosen by God from the Ahl al-Bayt (the “Family of the House”, Muhammad’s direct descendants).

In 2014, the extremist group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levantdeclared itself a Caliphate; nonetheless, its authority remains unrecognised by any country.