– Advertisement – And it will lead to domestic terrorism, yet again. As it has before. As it has repeatedly. This will not be Rush Limbaugh’s first time being singled out as a figure whose conspiracy theories have sown the seeds of far-right violence, or the first time the “Breitbart” den of white nationalism parroted the same insanities of the nation’s most violent militia movements, and Fox News hosts between them have notched both millions of dollars and a body count, as they endlessly choose new Americans to demonize.When it comes to the Hannitys, the Carlsons, the Levins, and the Limbaughs, it has long been apparent that they do not care. They are fully aware that their singled-out targets are often immediately barraged with death threats. It is part of the game, when speculating on the murder of Seth Rich or warning their audiences of the threats posed by the latest non-white non-conservative political leader.There are only two possibilities. They know their words fan the flames of violence, but are indifferent to those risks so long as their audiences stay engaged and profitable. Or they believe the violence itself may be useful, or redemptive.- Advertisement – The base isn’t in on the joke. And that means the arch-conservatives pumping up conspiracy hoaxes are doing so knowing full well that their words will, with near-certainty, lead to a wave of domestic terrorism.What Media Matters correctly described as a “feedback loop” is already spiraling out of control. Far-right hosts like Mark Levin are hosting prominent Republicans to shout outrageous conspiracy nonsense, which Donald Trump then promotes via Twitter to his army of gullibles, steadily building a base of Americans who see from television, the internet, and their public leaders claims of election fraud that they cannot be dissuaded from, no matter how many times they are discredited or how humiliated Trump’s legal architects become in the eyes of the rest of the country. The conservative base has been carefully cultivated by Fox News and a host of far-right charlatans for decades, honing into a movement of ever-terrified money-spending rubes; there is no way they would not fall for such pleasing claims as “it was the Black cities that sabotaged Trump, because reasons, because otherwise Dear Leader would obviously have won.”- Advertisement – So they will sit back, say nothing, and watch it happen.As with the punditry, it is an open question as to whether individual Republican lawmakers intend to stoke “useful” terrorism or merely calculate they can distance themselves enough from it to avoid responsibility. And as with the far-right pundits they are following, their histories do not exactly suggest a devotion to nonviolent, democratic rule. America has through most of its history prevented the “wrong” kind of people from voting by making laws against them, through targeted harassment, and by simply killing them outright. All of these were conservative efforts. All of them were embraced by political leaders and public opinion-setters both.Anyone thinking the same could not happen again has not been paying attention to the words these conservatives are using, and the legacy they are attempting to uphold. Whether or not Dear Leader is saved from oblivion may not even be the most important issue, in their minds; the real question is whether the non-conservative majority of America will be allowed to defy conservatism without consequences. And when those “consequences” begin to happen, the same Republican lawmakers will declare that it was the fault of the liberals and city-dwellers to begin with—for being uppity. For being so very uppity, with their votes, that domestic terrorists felt violence was the only remaining way to contain them. The longer it has gone on, the more each host’s rhetoric tends to lean from the first to the second. You cannot possibly keep an audience transfixed with tales of secret terror unless you elevate the stakes, from each year to the next. And you cannot elevate the stakes without eventually coming to the obvious crescendo: Democracy itself is a conspiracy against conservatism, and it is time to finally do something about that.And, again, it’s a feedback loop. Any conservative unwilling to adopt the most conspiratorial stance is finding themselves replaced by new shouters willing to go that far and farther. OAN is now replacing Fox News because Fox News has insulted its conspiracy-peddling audience with too many facts, while OAN freely revels in even the most ridiculous asininities. It’s working.Republican leaders may claim they are merely giving Trump space to express his malignant grief, but they most obviously are not. They are legitimizing false claims that run the incontestable risk of stoking terrorism by their own supporters. They may think they can pull back on the reins just before things get truly out of hand; they cannot. Once legitimized, those hoaxes will be acted upon by would-be patriots, just as they have time and time again. Republican lawmakers will not, once violence erupts, suddenly eat their words and admit they were spreading politically useful hoaxes, because to do so would end their careers.- Advertisement –
Police are investigating the murder of the wife of a police officer, who was shot on Monday night just outside of the capital – Castries.They said Kimberly de Leon, an accountant employed in the public service, was shot several times.The authorities have given no motive for the killing, but media reports said that one person is assisting in the investigations.Meanwhile, police are continuing their investigations into the shooting death of 26 year-old Owen Francois, who was shot as he sat in a vehicle with another person on Monday night by unknown gunmen.The police said that while both men were brought to a medical facility for treatment, Francois was pronounced dead by a medical practitioner.“The second victim is currently in stable condition,” the police said in the statement.Opposition Leader Phillip J. Pierre said he personally knew Francois, who lived in his Castries East constituency.“He just got a job and was trying to reorganise his life,” Pierre said, describing Francois as a very ambitious youth.“It is very sad. I don’t want to cast any judgement. All I am saying is that we have to find a better way to resolve our conflicts.“There are no victors- all victims. The deceased and the person who committed that crime. It is horrendous. I hope people understand that is not the best way to solve our problems,” Pierre added.
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Apr 14, 2009 (CIDRAP News) – H5N1 influenza viruses found in chickens seized at Vietnam’s border with China in 2008 show a surprising level of genetic diversity, suggesting that the viruses are evolving rapidly and raising questions about disease surveillance and the effectiveness of prepandemic H5N1 vaccines, according to a team of Vietnamese and US scientists.The findings suggest that the subgroup of viruses identified in the study has been circulating in the region either undetected or unreported for a “considerable amount of time,” the report says. The viruses are in clade 7, a group that has not been found in an outbreak since one in China’s Shanxi province in 2006.Also, given the degree of difference between these clade 7 viruses and those used to make human H5N1 vaccines, “it is unclear whether or not humoral antibodies elicited by current vaccine candidates will have cross-neutralization activity against the new viruses,” says the report, published recently in Virology.The study was conducted by scientists from Vietnam’s National Center for Veterinary Diagnostics in Hanoi and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), with the CDC’s Ruben O. Donis as the senior author.Vietnam bans the importation of poultry from H5N1-infected countries. The viruses analyzed in the study came from imported illegal chickens seized at border control stations in Vietnam’s Lang Son province, on the Chinese border. Authorities confiscated 495 chickens at the border stations in the first 5 months of 2008 and tested them for avian flu. Fifteen birds were found infected with H5N1 virus, and two others had an H9N2 virus.The authors extracted RNA from the 15 H5N1 isolates, amplified it, and analyzed the sequence of the hemagglutinin (HA) genes. They found that all 15 HA genes fit within a subgroup of previously identified clade 7 viruses. They determined that 13 of the 15 HA genes fell into two further subgroups, which they labeled A and B.The isolates within groups A and B were very closely related, but the groups differed considerably from each other, with an average divergence of 4.05% in HA nucleotide sequences and 5.69% in amino acid sequences, the report says. The authors also determined that the isolates differed by an average of 3.67% and 5.81% from the most closely related previous clade 7 isolate, which came from a chicken in China’s Shanxi province in 2006.In comparing the viruses with representatives of other H5N1 clades, the investigators found they were most closely related a clade 4 virus (a 2006 isolate from Guiyang province of China) and most distantly related to a clade 1 virus, a 2004 isolate from Vietnam. The respective differences in amino acid sequences were 8.20% and 9.07%.The genetic distance between the HAs of these clade 7 viruses and the isolates used to make prepandemic vaccines raises doubt as to whether antibodies generated by the vaccines would react with the clade 7 viruses, the authors write. They say the viruses used in the vaccines represent clade 1 (from Vietnam, 2004), clade 2.1.3 (Indonesia, 2005), clade 2.2 (Qinghai province, China, 2005), and clade 2.3.4 (Anhui province, China, 2005).The authors used ferret serum samples to test whether antibodies generated against five of the clade 7 viruses would cross-react with viruses from other clades and vice versa. Using hemagglutination inhibition assays, they found that samples (antisera) with antibodies against clades 1 and 2.3.4 did not cross-react with a clade 7 virus, and antisera against that same clade 7 virus did not react with clade 1 and clade 2.3.4 viruses. Also, antisera to the clade 7 virus showed limited cross-reactivity with each of four other clade 7 isolates, suggesting “some, albeit minimal” antigenic similarity among the viruses.The authors write that the identification of two distinct subgroups (groups A and B) of clade 7 viruses “may suggest that these viruses originated from two distinct regions or host populations isolated from each other.”They say the isolates they analyzed were remarkably diverse, given that other studies of H5N1 viruses in a single clade have shown a nucleotide divergence of no more than 1.5%. They also observe, “The high degree of genetic divergence from previously identified clade 7 viruses also indicates that this subgroup of viruses has likely been circulating undetected or unreported for a considerable amount of time as poultry outbreaks caused by clade 7 H5N1 viruses were last reported in Shanxi province, China in 2006.”The findings point up the need for border controls and strong virologic surveillance to detect and prevent the spread of “exotic” H5N1 viruses from country to country, the authors conclude.Dr. Les Sims of Australia’s Asia-Pacific Veterinary Information Services called the study “an important piece of work” that offers another sign of gaps in avian flu surveillance systems in Asia.”Unexplained gaps in the evolution of H5N1 virus HA genes suggest that surveillance systems have not been able to detect all cases of infection,” Sims, who is a consultant to the United National Food and Agriculture Organization, told CIDRAP News by e-mail.Other signs of holes in surveillance efforts include the detection of H5N1 virus in humans before finding it in nearby poultry, finding the virus in intermittent testing in poultry markets, and infected dead poultry washing up on Hong Kong’s beaches, Sims said.Clade 7 viruses have been found in various places in China, including Shanxi, Yunnan, and Hebei provinces, he reported, adding, “One of the recent human cases in Jiangsu was apparently due to a clade 7 virus, based on newspaper reports.””The antigenic variation is not surprising given that clade 7 viruses have been shown to be antigenic variants previously,” Sims said. But the findings from the ferret sera should be tested further with challenge trials in poultry vaccinated with existing vaccines, he added.The difference between a 2006 clade 7 virus found in China—cited in the study as the closest previously identified relative of the viruses the authors analyzed—and existing vaccine antigens “led to the incorporation of a new antigen into some Chinese poultry vaccines,” he said. “These vaccines containing a clade 7 antigen have been used extensively in China.” He added that there have been no reports of vaccine failures in Vietnam resulting from antigenic variants.Sims said the antigenic changes in the clade 7 virus might potentially have been spurred by poultry vaccination efforts. “We need to balance measures to reduce the amount of circulating virus, which vaccination of poultry can do, against the potential ‘harm’ that might occur if antigenic variants emerge,” he stated. “We should expect antigenic variants to emerge and ensure that appropriate measures are in place to detect these at an early stage.”Nguyen T, Davis CT, Stembridge W, et al. Characterization of a highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N1 virus sublineage in poultry seized at ports of entry into Vietnam. Virology 2009 (early online publication) [Abstract]