Permanent flu vaccines, accidental LSD trips, and an internet blackout-my top 5 news stories of the week

Welcome to this weeks edition of my top 5 news stories of the week. As ever, these are the stories  that have either hit me as really interesting, important, or just funny. I try to stay away from the bigger stories, as these have usually been covered by much better writers than I.

First, a bit of housekeeping. I said in some previous posts I’ll be keeping tabs on a couple of stories, so here’s some updates:

  • Kevin Clash, the voice of Elmo, faces two more lawsuits. All plaintiffs will be represented by the same lawyer. Also, the original accuser has come out and repeated his earlier allegations. This just gets sadder and sadder.
  • Sgt Danny Nightengale, the SAS soldier arrested for possession of a firearm, is now free. After an appeal, three court judges concluded that the 18 month sentence was too harsh, and have reduced it to a 12 month suspended sentence. The sergeant is now home with his family.

Again, with the Elmo case, updates will be made in future posts. And now for the main bit.

New vaccine could possibly give permanent protection to flu

I’ll try to keep this as jargon free as possible, but for much more detailed version, please go to the source.

Scientists have now created a vaccine that can only be stored more efficiently, but is made differently out of mRNA (messenger RNA) and should enable to the immune system to permanently fight off the flu. More importantly, it opens up doors to possible universal flu vaccines.

This important for obvious and more subtle reasons. A permanent, catch-all flu vaccine could be given the infants and give true, lifelong protection. More subtle though, is the cost. Because the seasonal flu strain mutates each year, the WHO has to predict the possible strains and the manufacture enough vaccines. The manufacturing process itself takes around six months. The cost benefits, then, are astronomical.

Just another show of Science being awesome. (Source: New Scientist)

Two young boys accidentally take LSD from a mint drops bottle

This week the story came out that two young brother accidentally ingested LSD from a mint drops bottle they found on their porch.

Having left for school, one of the boys hadn’t brushed his teeth so the other produced the mints. When they got on the school bus, however, both were vomiting and were then rushed to hospital, both hallucinating and foaming at the mouth.

Unfortunately investigators are unable to find out who the bottle originally belonged to, but more to the point, neither child seems likely to develop any long-term negative effects, other than a bit more suspicion of random mint drops maybe. (Source: Daily Mail)

Foster Parents have three foster children removed from their care for being members of the UKIP party

In a move of baffling political stupidity, a couple in Rotherham, UK, have had three Eastern European children removed from their care as they belong to the UKIP party.

UKIP, of the UK Independence Party, seek to remove the UK from the EU and have tighter immigration controls. Rotherham council, a Labour held council, decided this meant they were racist, hence the parents were racist,and could not look after the Eastern Europeans.

At time of writing, the children have not been returned, an apology has not be given, and the children have actually been split up. Another win for the care system. (Source: BBC)

Palestine have obtained new ‘observer state’ status in the U.N.

In a move that has really pissed off the USA and Israel, the U.N. voted on Thursday to allow Palestine the ‘non-member observer state’ status, leaning heavily on the two state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict.

While Hamas have taken it as further proof that Israel should never have gained any Palestinian land, the diplomatic community, in particular for Israeli PM Ehud Olmert and  U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon see it as a very positive move, and productive towards finding peace in the Middle East. (Source-CNN)

Syria disconnected from the internet and telecommunications for two days 

Another big story, the Syrian government shut down all telecommunications and internet access nationwide for two days for the first time, citing terrorists as the reason.

The move is seen by outsiders such as the USA as intended to shut down communications between rebels of the Syrian regime. The rebels, or the Free Syrian Army, have been making important headway recently and are currently launching an offensive against the capital, Damascus. However, there are those who believe this to signal a counter offensive from Assad’s forces. Either way, the death toll continues. (Source: The Guardian)

And that’s that for another week. As always, if you have any favourite stories or discussion on any of the above stories, please feel free to leave them in comments. All are welcome.

Also, following on from last weeks ideas, some of the stories that didn’t quite make it will be posted in my twitter feed, found at the side of the page, or at @sociocuttlefish. Follow and find out which ones they are.

Have a great evening

Nicky

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