Feb 15, 2015

Ragbag Headliners

Turkish Court Orders Facebook To Block Pages Insulting Mohammad

A Turkish court has ordered Facebook to block a number of pages deemed insulting to the Prophet Mohammad, threatening to stop access to the whole social networking site if it does not comply, local media reported.

The order made by the court on Sunday followed a request by a prosecutor, state broadcaster TRT reported. No one from Facebook was immediately available for comment.

It was the latest move to crack down on material seen as offending religious sensibilities in the largely Muslim nation, where the government of President Tayyip Erdogan is seen pursuing an Islamist-leaning agenda.

Earlier this month, prosecutors launched an inquiry into a newspaper which reprinted parts of the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo in the wake of an attack by Islamic militants on its offices in Paris. –Source: JPost

California Declares Electronic Cigarettes A Health Threat

California health officials say electronic cigarettes are a health threat, especially to children, and should be strictly regulated like tobacco products.

A report released Wednesday by the California Department of Public Health says e-cigarettes emit cancer-causing chemicals and get users hooked on nicotine. California Health Officer Ron Chapman says new generations of young people will become nicotine addicts if the products remain largely unregulated.

E-cigarettes heat liquid nicotine from cartridges into inhalable vapor without tar and other chemicals found in traditional cigarettes. E-cigarette makers say their products are far safer than tobacco.

Other states including Oklahoma and Arkansas already have issued advisories cautioning the use of e-cigarettes. California's advisory comes after a state lawmaker introduced legislation this week to ban e-cigarettes in public places. –Source: Gayly

Immune Cells Can Be Manipulated to Kill HIV-Infected Reservoir Cells

It is possible to “boost” certain immune cells to enable them to kill HIV-infected reservoir cells that have been awakened from their dormant state, at least in a laboratory setting and in mice. Publishing their findings in the journal Nature, researchers drew immune cells and HIV-infected reservoir CD4 cells from 25 HIV-positive people and then studied those cells in the laboratory and in mice altered to have human immune systems.

Ten of the HIV-positive people stared antiretroviral therapy within three months of infection (“early”), and the other 15 started after three months of infection (“late”). When studying the cells taken from those who were treated early, the researchers found that the participants’ “killer” CD8 cells were capable of seeking out and destroying the HIV-infected reservoir cells that had been brought out of latency. This was not the case for those who were treated late: Almost all of the virus in their reservoir cells had mutated to the point that it could evade detection by the particular CD8 cells that are usually the dominant force in the pathogen-killing army.

There were, however, other CD8 cells in the late testers’ immune systems that could detect the HIV-infected reservoir cells, if not actually kill them. To jump this hurdle, the scientists boosted the capacity of these CD8 cells by stimulating them with synthetic peptides representing various regions on HIV proteins, including unmutated regions. The boosted cells then successfully killed the HIV-infected reservoir cells in both the laboratory and the mice.

The researchers concluded that such boosting could be a component of a therapeutic vaccine that would be an element of an HIV-cure strategy. –Source: Poz

To read the study abstract, click here.

Sky Announces Automatic Online Porn Block

Sky broadband is to automatically block online pornography, the company has announced.

In a blog post, brand director Lyssa McGowan said they are ensuring the default position of Sky’s Broadband Shield is the “safest one for all – that’s ‘on’”.

All customers will have the choice to opt out of the system, which is designed to block content deemed unsuitable for children under the age of 13.

Online safety

McGowan said, “when it comes to online safety for all, we take our responsibility very seriously”.

She explained that Sky, one of the UK’s largest Internet Service Providers (ISPs) will be emailing customers, giving them the opportunity to opt in or out.

They can “activate Sky Broadband Shield, adjust or decline it at any time. Or they can simply wait for us to turn it on”, she said.

Unsuitable material

In 2013, Prime Minister David Cameron urged ISPs to adopt automatic filters in order to protect children.

Most of the UK’s ISPs now offer systems to block unsuitable material, but they are not switched on by default.

Andrew Ferguson, of broadband news site ThinkBroadband, warned that parents should not depend only on filters to protect their children online.

“As ever the filters don’t block all unsavoury material so are not a replacement for parenting”, he commented.

Last year, the industry watchdog Ofcom found that new broadband customers in the UK were overwhelmingly rejecting porn filters when prompted to install them by internet service providers.

Ofcom found that fewer than one in seven households use the filters, which are offered automatically to new subscribers at the point of registration. –Source: Christian.org UK

Rare Ocular Syphilis Strikes Six, Blinding Two, In Washington State

Washington State health officials have reported a sudden cluster of rare syphilis infections of the eyes—detected in six people, two of whom have gone blind, The Seattle Times reports. Ocular syphilis typically strikes fewer than one in 1 million Americans in an entire year; these cases have all been reported since mid-December. Just 10 percent of all syphilis cases involve ocular disease.

Four of those infected live in King County, where Seattle is located. Three of them are men who have sex with men (MSM), and three are HIV-positive.

All six of those who contracted the infection reported vision problems, including vision loss, blurriness, developing a blue tinge in their vision, and seeing “floaters” and flashing lights.

The cause of the cluster of infections is unclear. –Source: Poz

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