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Google Launches Sidewalk Labs; Aims to Help Fix Cities

               

Google co-founder and CEO Larry Page speaks during the keynote presentation at Google I/O 2013 in San Francisco.(Photo: Jeff Chiu, AP)

Google (GOOG) is starting a new, independent urban innovation company called Sidewalk Labs that aims to improve cities, according to a post on Google+ by CEO Larry Page. The Street

usatoday.com - by Jessica Guynn - June 11, 2015

SAN FRANCISCO — Google, famous for its ambitious projects to build self-driving cars and high-altitude balloons that beam the Internet to earth, is now taking aim at fixing another major problem: city life.

The new initiative, called Sidewalk Labs, will use technology and innovation in an effort to improve urban life at a time when the U.S. population is gravitating to cities, according to Google CEO Larry Page.

Based in New York, it will be run by Dan Doctoroff, a former deputy mayor of New York City who will combine his experience in managing cities with funding from Google.

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California Gov. Jerry Brown Orders Aggressive Greenhouse Gas Cuts By 2030

Governer Jerry Brown.

Image: Governer Jerry Brown.

huffingtonpost.com - April 29th 2015 - Kate Sheppard

California Gov. Jerry Brown issued an executive order Wednesday directing the state to cut is greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030, the toughest proposed cuts of any state in the nation.

The 2030 target will ensure that California can meet its emissions target for the middle of this century, which calls for an 80 percent cut by 2050, Brown said. The state is already on pace to meet its goal of bringing heat-trapping emissions down to 1990 levels by 2020, a target set under a 2006 state law.

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Three in every four extremely hot days linked to climate change

Three out of four hot days could be due to climate change (Image: Guy Corbishley/Getty)Image: Three out of four hot days could be due to climate change (Image: Guy Corbishley/Getty)

newscientist.com - April 28th 2015 - Aviva Rutkin

If climate change was a game, we'd have racked up quite a score. A fresh study suggests that humans are responsible for a hefty number of today's extreme hot days and rainstorms.

Weather extremes, such as a Russian heatwave in 2010 and a drought in Texas in 2011, have been blamed on climate change before – but the attribution of individual events to it is still hotly debated.

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What Did the U.S. Learn from Ebola? How to Prepare for Bioterrorist Attacks

FOREIGN POLICY  by Siobhán O'Grady                        April 13, 2015
When the Ebola virus spread from Guinea to Sierra Leone and Liberia last spring, the initial international response was labeled a failure. By the time President Barack Obama ordered troops to the affected countries in September, more than 2,400 people were dead.

But in the United States, where major hospitals prepared for an outbreak, there were only four in-country diagnoses, one of which resulted in a death. And some see the urgency of that response as a lesson in how the government can prepare for another public health hazard: a bioterrorist attack.

Arizona Rep. Martha McSally chairs a House subcommittee that will examine over the next few months the threat of bioterrorist attacks and U.S. preparedness to respond to them. She told Foreign Policy that even if a disease outbreak and the use of a biological agent in a coordinated attack are not completely analogous, the response strains similar systems.

“We can learn lessons from other outbreaks that are naturally occurring,” she said. “We can identify weaknesses in our response and even if it wasn’t terrorism, it presses the system at the same level....”

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CDC - MMWR - Ebola Virus Disease in a Humanitarian Aid Worker — New York City, October 2014

cdc.gov - April 3, 2015

In late October 2014, Ebola virus disease (Ebola) was diagnosed in a humanitarian aid worker who recently returned from West Africa to New York City (NYC). . . .

. . . In NYC, the public health response to one Ebola case was resource intensive for a local health department, with participation of more than 500 DOHMH staff members and expenditures of more than $4,300,000 in DOHMH funds. These figures include not only the direct costs of the local public health response (e.g., contact tracing, environmental issues, and health care worker monitoring) but also the indirect costs of increasing citywide preparedness after identifying the one case (e.g., enhancing hospital preparedness, active monitoring of returning travelers, and community outreach).

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Interaction of Atlantic and Pacific Oscillations Caused 'False Pause' in Warming

Ocean and sky (stock image) / Iakov Kalinin / Fotolia

CLICK HERE - RESEARCH - Atlantic and Pacific multidecadal oscillations and Northern Hemisphere temperatures

sciencedaily.com - February 26, 2015

The recent slowdown in climate warming is due, at least in part, to natural oscillations in the climate, according to a team of climate scientists, who add that these oscillations represent variability internal to the climate system. They do not signal any slowdown in human-caused global warming.

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Ebola Doctor: Media, politicians fueled the public's fears

ASSOCIATED PRESS   by Tom McElroy                                                             Feb. 25, 2015

NEW YORK — A doctor who contracted the deadly Ebola virus and rode the subway system and dined out before he developed symptoms said the media and politicians could have done a better job by educating people on the science of it instead of focusing on their fears.

 "When we look back on this epidemic, I hope we'll recognize that fear caused our initial hesitance to respond — and caused us to respond poorly when we finally did," Dr. Craig Spencer wrote in an article published Wednesday in The New England Journal of Medicine. (See link below.)

Spencer, an emergency room physician, was diagnosed with Ebola on Oct. 23, days after returning from treating patients in Guinea with Doctors Without Borders. His was the first Ebola case in the nation's largest city, spurring an effort to contain anxieties along with the virus. He was treated at a hospital, recovered and was released on Nov. 11.

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Report Slams U.S. Ebola Response and Readiness

NBC NEWS  by Maggie Fox                                                                               Feb. 26, 2015

The United States fumbled its response to the Ebola epidemic before it even began, neglecting experiments to make vaccines and drugs against the virus, and cutting funding to key public health agencies, a presidential commission said Thursday.

Americans focused on their own almost nonexistent risk of catching Ebola from travelers instead of pressing to help the truly affected nations, the scathing report from the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues says.

They've been acting against their own best interest, the commission said in its report.

"Both justice and prudence demand that we do our part in combating such devastating outbreaks. Once we recognize our humanitarian obligations and the ability of infectious diseases to travel in our interconnected world, we cannot choose between the ethical and the prudential," it reads.

"Ethics and enlightened interest converge in calling for our country to address epidemics at their source."

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Geographic information helps provide public health intelligence at mass gatherings

MEDICALNEWS TODAY                                                            Jan. 6, 2015

Infectious diseases are one of the many health issues that worry the organizers of mass gatherings, such as the Hajj and the World Cup. Geographers' tools of the trade can help event organizers to better plan, monitor and respond timely to such eventualities. The ways in which geographers gather, analyze, and visualize information provide health officials with clearer pictures of the transport routes and environmental factors that may further the spread of viruses to and from the attendees' home countries.

In Chapter 3 of the new book Health, Science and Place: A New Model, geographer and biologist Dr. Amy Blatt explains how geographic information is used for disease surveillance at mass gatherings.
Read complete article

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/287577.php?tw

Read excerpt from the book,chapter 3.

by Dr. Amy Blatt
http://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007%2F978-3-319-12003-4_3

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COMMENTARY: When the next shoe drops — Ebola crisis communication lessons from October

CENTER FOR INFECTIOUS DISEASE AND POLICY                                                                   Dec. 9, 2014          
By  Peter M. Sandman, PhD, and Jody Lanard, MD  

In contrast to the Ebola crisis in West Africa, which started in late 2013 and will last well into 2015 or longer, the US "Ebola crisis" was encapsulated in a single month, October 2014. But there may well be US Ebola cases to come, brought here by travelers or returning volunteers. And other emerging infectious diseases will surely reach the United States in the months and years ahead.

So now is a propitious time to harvest some crisis communication lessons from the brief US Ebola "crisis."

We're putting "crisis" in quotation marks because there was never an Ebola public health crisis in the United States, nor was there a significant threat of one. But there was a crisis of confidence, a period of several weeks during which many Americans came to see the official response to domestic Ebola as insufficiently cautious, competent, and candid—and therefore felt compelled to implement or demand additional responses of their own devising....

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