Statistics show sales of gorillas often spike sharply in the immediate aftermath of a major gorilla attack.
SAN DIEGO—Following the events of last week, in which a crazed western lowland gorilla ruthlessly murdered 21 people in a local shopping plaza after escaping from the San Diego Zoo, sources across the country confirmed Thursday that national gorilla sales have since skyrocketed.
“After seeing yet another deranged gorilla just burst into a public place and start killing people, I decided I need to make sure something like that never happens to me,” said 34-year-old Atlanta resident Nick Keller, shortly after purchasing a 350-pound mountain gorilla from his local gorilla store. “It just gives me peace of mind knowing that if I’m ever in that situation, I won’t have to just watch helplessly as my torso is ripped in half and my face is chewed off. I’ll be able to use my gorilla to defend myself.”
“Law enforcement and animal control can only get there so quickly,” Keller added. “And you never know when you’ll need to use a gorilla to save your life.”
Reports confirmed that gorilla sales have historically risen sharply in the immediate aftermath of a major gorilla attack, most notably after the 2010 tragedy in the small town of Logan, NM, where 14 people, including two 5-year-old children and a 92-year-old woman, were viciously beaten to death by a 12-year-old gorilla who spontaneously attacked patrons of a crowded grocery store.
The latest attack marked the fifth of its kind in the United States within the last six months and has reignited the explosive national debate over gorilla control, with thousands of outraged Americans reportedly demanding that their government representatives act immediately in order to prevent further bloodshed.
“We’ve had to deal with too many gorilla-related tragedies, and we’ve had to bury too many innocent, feces-covered victims,” said Nicole Simmons, president of the Mothers Against Gorillas coalition, who herself lost her 16-year-old son in the infamous Baker High School gorilla rampage of 1997. “It’s time to put an end to this. We need to get gorillas off the streets once and for all. Enough is enough.”
“The answer to this systemic problem is not more gorillas,” Simmons continued, her eyes welling with tears. “The answer is fewer gorillas.”
As evidence, Simmons pointed to a 2011 University of Maryland study, which found that 98 percent of Americans who own a gorilla have never used them for defense against a home invasion. Simmons also cited widely reported studies confirming that people who keep gorillas in the home are 12 times more likely to have their arms torn off, and children in those households are 19 times more likely to be picked up by the legs and bashed repeatedly into the ground.
Furthermore, many gorilla control advocates have reportedly called for statewide limits to the number of gorillas one can purchase and a federal ban on the ownership of silverbacks, referencing as an example the tight gorilla laws in countries such as Japan, England, and Australia, where the annual rate of gorilla crimes is virtually nonexistent.
“There is absolutely no reason—not for hunting, protection, or otherwise—that an ordinary citizen would need to possess a 600-pound silverback,” said Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), one of the most outspoken gorilla control advocates in Congress. “The general public frankly has no business owning apes of this size, and the only people who do are zookeepers who are trained to properly handle them. Otherwise, they are nothing but a threat to society and only serve to perpetuate more violence.”
Opponents to gorilla control legislation, however, appear to be fervent in their defense of their gorilla possession rights. A spokesperson for the powerful yet controversial national gorilla lobby told reporters that a ban on gorillas would not end incidents such as that in San Diego, as those who want the large primates could simply buy them from illegal dealers who smuggle them into the country from the jungles of sub-Saharan Africa.
Many gorilla owners also told sources that the creatures are primarily used for legal hunting purposes and that the overwhelming majority of gorilla enthusiasts are completely responsible with their apes.
“Listen, it’s my God-given right as an American to have the freedom to own a gorilla to protect myself and my family,” said Nashua, NH resident James Harrington, 46, adding that he personally owns 12 different gorillas of various sizes, but keeps them “safely locked away in [his] home.” “And the government has another thing coming if they think they can come into my house and take away my gorillas.”
“What happened in San Diego was horrible, but that doesn’t mean all gorillas are bad,” Harrington added. “In fact, if every person at that mall had a gorilla, then the tragedy probably never would have even happened in the first place.”
At press time, following the increase in national gorilla sales, four isolated gorilla attacks had just been reported across the country, with the overall civilian death toll currently estimated at 37.
Superbug strain of E. coli endangers the lives of millions
A single strain of Escherichia coli, or E. coli, is responsible for millions of bacterial infections in women and the elderly, according to new research released today.
The strain, H30-Rx, has the unprecedented ability to spread from the urinary tract into the blood, giving rise to sepsis, the most lethal form of infection.
The new report suggests that H30-Rx may be responsible for 1.5 million urinary tract infections (UTIs) and tens of thousands of deaths annually in the U.S. alone. Researchers say the strain poses a threat to more than 10 million Americans who suffer from UTIs.
The research, published in the American Society for Microbiology's journal mBio, shows how this bacteria has evolved from a single strain, allowing it to get around the most potent antibiotics available.
Tracing the E. coli Family Tree The research was led by Lance B. Price, a professor of environmental and occupational health at the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services. He's also an associate professor in the Pathogen Genomics Division of the Translational Genomics Research Institute in Phoenix, Ariz.
He and fellow researchers James R. Johnson of the Veterans Affairs Medical Center and the University of Minnesota, and Evgeni V. Sokurenko of the University of Washington School of Medicine, focused on the ST131 group of E. coli.
ST131 strains are a common cause of bacterial infections, but they have become untreatable with standard antibiotics.
The team used advancing genomic techniques to discover that bacteria in the ST131 strains are genetic clones that have all evolved from a single strain of E. coli. Using whole-genome sequencing—which spells out each molecule in a bacteria’s DNA—researchers analyzed samples of E. coli from patients and animals in five countries gathered between 1967 and 2011. They then created a family tree to trace how the antibiotic-resistant clones evolved.
“Astoundingly, we found that all of the resistance could be traced back to a single ancestor,” Price said in a statement. “Our research shows this superbug then took off, and now causes lots of drug-resistant infections.”
For example, researchers said that a strain known as H30 cloned itself into H30-R. This evolved to become fully resistant to the second-generation antibiotic ciprofloxacin, which was considered a wonder-drug when it was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1987. From there, the clones evolved into H30-Rx, which is resistant to even third-generation antibiotics like cephalosporins.
“This strain of E. coli spreads from person to person and seems to be particularly virulent,” Johnson said in a release. “This study might help us develop better tools to identify, stop or prevent its spread by finding better ways to block the transmission of the superbug, or by finding a diagnostic test that would help doctors identify such an infection early on—before it might have the chance to turn lethal.”
Dr. William Schaffner, immediate past-president of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases and a professor of preventative medicine at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, said the new research will change the way problematic strains of E. coli are handled.
“It’s fascinating that they’ve identified a dominant strain of resistant E. coli. We previously thought these strains became resistant independently,” Schaffner, who was not involved in the study, told Healthline. “Resistant E. coli are slowly yet surely becoming a problem for those of us who treat infections.”
A Vaccine in the Near Future? With the discovery of a single strain at the root of antibiotic resistance, researchers say that a vaccine for the E. coli superbug could be developed to keep people from ever getting sick in the first place.
“We now know that we are dealing with a single enemy, and that by focusing on this strain we can have a substantial impact on this worldwide epidemic,” Sokurenko said.
Schaffner welcomed the possibility of a vaccine against E. coli infections.
“We thought bacteria was so various that if you got a vaccine it wouldn’t help against other strains." Schaffner said. "Because this is clonal, because there is one dominant strain, there might be a role for a vaccine down the road.”
'Superbug' bacteria widespread in US chicken, consumer group finds
About half of the raw chicken breasts in a nationwide sampling carried antibiotic-resistant "superbug" bacteria, a U.S. consumer group said on Thursday, calling for stricter limits on use of the medicines on livestock.
It could be more difficult to treat people if they became ill after eating chicken with the antibiotic-resistant bacteria, said Consumer Reports, which describes itself as the world's largest independent product-testing organization.
The group said it tested for six types of bacteria in 316 raw chicken breasts purchased from retailers nationwide during July. Almost all of the samples contained potentially harmful bacteria, it said.
Some 49.7 percent carried a bacterium resistant to three or more antibiotics, according to the group, and 11 percent had two types of bacteria resistant to multiple drugs. Resistance was most common for the antibiotics used for growth promotion and disease treatment of poultry.
Consumer Reports urged passage of a law to restrict eight classes of antibiotics for use only to treat humans and sick animals. The law would be more effective, it said, than the Food and Drug Administration's plan, announced last week, to phase down the non-medical use of antibiotics in livestock over three years.
In addition, it said the Agriculture Department should set levels for allowable salmonella and campylobacter bacteria in poultry and give its inspectors the power to prevent sale of poultry meat that contains salmonella bacteria that is resistant to multiple antibiotics.
Chicken is the most widely consumed meat in the United States. Americans are forecast to consume nearly 84 pounds per person in 2014, compared to 53 lbs of pounds of beef and 48 pounds of pork.
The broiler industry said it will cooperate with the FDA's planned phase-down of antibiotics although it says there is negligible risk from current use of the drugs.
Consumers should cook poultry to 165 degrees F (73.8C) to kill bacteria and take steps, such as using a separate cutting board for raw meat, to avoid cross-contamination of other foods, Consumer Reports said.
Paul Johnston and Josh Freeman, CP24.com Published Sunday, December 22, 2013 6:36AM EST Last Updated Monday, December 23, 2013 2:26AM EST
Significant challenges are expected for those planning on commuting around the GTA Monday as crews struggle to restore power and transit to hundreds of thousands of customers across the region in the wake of a massive weekend ice storm.
GO Transit announced Sunday night that it will be running on an ‘adjusted winter schedule’ with fewer trains running. GO also said commuters should expect significant delays Monday and advised people to check its website to see the adjusted schedule before departing.
“All of our lines will be operating, but all seven lines will have reduced or adjusted service, so (commuters) really need to go to our website before they head out,” Go Transit Spokesperson Anne Marie Aikins told CP24 Sunday night.
Pedestrians clear the sidewalks on a closed off Soudan Ave. in Toronto after an ice storm caused havoc knocking down trees and power lines in much of the city on Sunday, December 22, 2013. (Aaron Vincent Elkaim/The Canadian Press)
Pedestrians navigate a closed off Soudan Avenue in Toronto after an ice storm caused havoc knocking down trees and power lines in much of the city on Sunday, Dec. 22, 2013. (Aaron Vincent Elkaim / The Canadian Press)
A man walks his dog along a street lined with downed tree branches in Brampton on Sunday, Dec. 22, 2013. (Twitter/kat_koop)
Ice-covered tree branches are seen following a freezing rain storm in Toronto overnight on Sunday, Dec. 22, 2013. (Twitter/@corezay)
A damaged tree is seen at a house in Brampton following an overnight ice storm. (Twitter/@Yaw2010)
Aikins said customers should expect delays on their commute and advised people to use extra caution around Go stations that may still be slippery from the ice.
The TTC also said it is doing its best to restore service on all its lines and routes.
Late Sunday the TTC said service had resumed on all streetcar routes after being suspended most of the day.
However subway service is still suspended on both the Scarborough RT and the Sheppard lines.
Delays remain on the Yonge-University-Spadina line as well, with no service at Yorkdale and North York Centre stations.
Service is also suspended on the Bloor-Danforth line between Woodbine and Kennedy stations.
Those who do venture to work may have to make alternate arrangements for their children.
A number of school boards throughout the GTA said child care services that normally run out of school facilities would not be running Monday.
York University also announced Sunday night that it is suspending its operations until Jan. 2 because of the ongoing weather situation. The university said exams scheduled for Dec. 23 would be rescheduled on Jan. 11.
Thousands without power a second night
In the meantime hundreds of thousands of residents across the GTA are doing their best to deal with no electricity and reduced mobility for a second night.
In Toronto, approximately 265,000 customers are currently without power, the highest concentration along the Highway 401 corridor from Etobicoke to Scarborough, Toronto Hydro said Sunday night.
“It truly is a catastrophic ice storm that we have had here, probably one of the worst we’ve ever had,” Toronto Hydro CEO Anthony Haines said earlier Sunday. “We’ve got lines down everywhere and we’ve got some of our major feeders through the city serving things like hospitals that are without power right now.”
City streets are strewn with fallen trees that have crumpled under the weight of 20 to 30 mm of freezing rain, blocking off road access to many homes and bringing down power lines.
“If people are seeing lines down, you need to call the police, call fire, or call Toronto Hydro and we’re getting out, first of all, to make sure everybody is safe.”
Power restoration for major customers and essential services – such as hospitals and water systems – will be the priority, Haines said. Cleanup and restoration in residential neighbourhoods will follow.
Haines said that while all available resources have been deployed to try and restore power to affected customers, full restoration will not happen in a matter of hours.
“It’s going to take a number of days for sure,” he said. “Right now it’s very difficult to estimate whether in fact we will have everything back up for Christmas, but what I can tell you is we will not rest – our crews will continue to work around the clock until all the power is on for all the customers.”
Reports of any downed wires can be made at 416-542-8000.
Officials are also reminding people not to touch or attempt to remove trees that have fallen on power lines.
North of the city, about 57,000 customers are still impacted by the storm in Vaughan, Richmond Hill, Thornhill, Markham, Aurora and other parts of York Region according to PowerStream.
In Mississauga, roughly 1,700 customers remained without power Sunday night, down from 20,000 earlier in the day, Enersource said on its Twitter page.
Hydro One said approximately 102,362 customers throughout southern Ontario remained without power as of Sunday night, with some areas not expected to see restoration until as late as Tuesday evening.
A freezing rain warning issued for Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area was ended shortly before 1:30 p.m. by Environment Canada.
However Environment Canada advised that light to moderate winds were possible for the rest of Sunday, sparking fears that yet more ice-laden branches could come crashing down around the city.
Police urge caution on the roads
With many roads frosted over with ice, police continue to urge people to stay off the roads unless they absolutely have to drive.
Those who do venture out are advised to slow down on the roads and leave more time to reach their destinations.
“Only travel if you have to, but if you are on the roadways be very, very aware that you are dealing with ice you may not be able to see and it’s going to decrease your stopping distance greatly,” OPP Const. Graham Williamson told CP24.
Police are also reminding drivers to treat intersections as four-way stops where traffic lights are out.
City not declaring an emergency yet
While city officials say the situation is bad, they held off declaring a state of emergency Sunday.
“If it gets really bad in the next 24 hours, we could have a state of emergency but I don't want to say that just yet,” Mayor Rob Ford said at a news conference Sunday afternoon.
He called the ice storm “one of the worst storms in Toronto history” and said reception centres would be open for those seeking food and heat.
If Ford were to declare an emergency, he would be forced to hand control of the situation to Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly, to whom council transferred some of Ford’s powers – including responsibility for managing the city in an emergency situation – in a special council meeting last month.
However, Ford remains the only city official with the power to declare a state of emergency in the city.
Speaking at a separate news conference Sunday, Premier Kathleen Wynne said she had been in contact with the mayors of a slew of municipalities affected by the storm. She also said she had been in touch with Kelly.
“I want to assure everyone living in these areas that all available resources are working to keep you and your families safe and to restore power as quickly as possible,” Wynne said.
She also reiterated the need for people to check in on seniors and others who may need assistance during the mass power outages.
Mayor Rob Ford and Deputy Mayor Keely are expected to provide an update on the state of the city’s recovery efforts at a news conference at 8 a.m. Monday morning. CP24 will have LIVE coverage of the press conference.
Power outage tips
Keep your fridge and freezer doors shut as much as possible. Generally, food will keep for 24 to 48 hours, as long you keep the door closed.
Unplug or turn off all appliances to avoid possible damage when power resumes.
Turn off water to the clothes washer and dishwasher if they are in use when the power goes out.
Do not go near electrical equipment around areas of standing water, like a flooded basement.
Never use barbecues, propane or kerosene heaters or portable generators indoors.
Secure windows and doors as well as outdoor furniture and equipment.
Park vehicles in protected areas, if available.
Leave a light or radio on so you will know when power is restored.
Open the curtains and blinds to help warm your home if it’s sunny
Close curtains or blinds to prevent heat from escaping if it’s cloudy
When possible, keep your windows and doors closed to prevent heat from escaping
When power has been restored, check all fuses to ensure that none have been blown, before calling Toronto Hydro.
The Chinese government's crackdown on Bloomberg and the "paper of record" reaches a head.
- See more at: http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2013/12/10/bloomberg_new_york_times_china_bureau#sthash.rWN9Q31y.4D5f6yHu.dpuf
Before the death of Mao Zedong in 1976, journalists covering China had to do make do with peering in from afar. "I would look longingly across the border, and say, ‘Why can't I be there?'" recalled veteran foreign correspondent Jim Laurie,about his early days reporting from Hong Kong. Today, of course, China is a universe away from the chaotic and autarkic 1970s. As China moved away from the periphery and towards the center of world and economic affairs over the past few decades, interest in the country has skyrocketed: there are now hundreds of journalists reporting in China for Western publications, while countless thousands other foreigners have written about the place. But now, history may be repeating itself: Beijing has threatened to de facto expel roughly two dozen foreign correspondents working for Bloomberg and the New York Times,arguablythe two publications who have most successfully covered China over the last few years.
Two New YorkTimes journalists working in China, speaking on background, described how Beijing is withholding visa renewals for their 12 journalists working in China. Foreign journalists working legally in China need to renew their visa every year, a procedure which usually happens in December. But as of Dec. 10, the Foreign Ministry had not yet begun to process the applications. "Officials said they could not process those visas," one of the New YorkTimes reporters told Foreign Policy. In early December, Jill Abramson, the executive editor of the newspaper, said that what was once "an annual nonevent" has become "a very big worry."
In 1979, after the restoration of U.S.-China diplomatic ties, Beijing opened up to American media organizations, and several newspapers and magazines, including the New YorkTimes, established bureaus there. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, these operations were generally quite small. But by the late 2000s, even as the financial crisis decimated hollowed-out international bureaus in other parts of the world, China-based newsrooms kept growing. In Sept. 2011, Bloomberg announced the "opening of expanded offices in Shanghai to accommodate expanded news, customer support and regional-specific services to meet growing demand in China." In 2011, the New YorkTimes also decided to enlarge its bureau, and in June 2012 launched a Chinese-language edition. In an interview then, the paper's foreign editor, Joseph Kahn, said, "We hope and expect that Chinese officials will welcome what we're doing."
This turned out to be overly optimistic. While operating a bureau in China had always been complicated, serious problems started for the New YorkTimes after they published an October 2012 story about the shocking wealth amassed by then Premier Wen Jiabao's family. (Wen's family claimed the story, which won a Pulitzer Prize, was untrue.) "The authorities took certain punitive measures," one of the journalists told Foreign Policy: the website was blocked and Chris Buckley, a seasoned foreign correspondent, was forced to leave the country after Beijing refused to give him a visa in December 2012. (China's Foreign Ministry later claimed Buckley hadn't been expelled -- only that he incorrectly filled out his visa application.)
The current round of difficulties began, the reporters said, after the Nov. 13 publication of a story about J.P. Morgan Chase's alleged link to Wen's daughter. "My guess is they concluded in recent weeks that they needed to take another step because they thought we hadn't gotten the message," one of the journalists said. The other concurred: "Everything was going fine" until the second Wen story came out.
Things have become complicated for Bloomberg as well, but there's more dirty laundry. Bloomberg had roiled the waters in China for a series of groundbreaking 2012 stories, written by several journalists but headed by veteran Bloomberg correspondent Mike Forsythe, that disclosed the family wealth of two top Chinese officials: disgraced party boss Bo Xilai and Chinese President Xi Jinping. Following these prize-winning investigations, China ordered local financial institutions to refrain from purchasing Bloomberg terminals -- the main profit-generating engine of the media empire -- and blocked its website. Things got worse in early November, when the New York Timesreported that Bloomberg journalists had accused editor-in-chief Matthew Winkler of suppressing an investigation into the wealth of a Chinese tycoon and his links with the Chinese government, for fear it would offend officials in Beijing. (Bloomberg denied this allegation.) Winkler allegedly compared reporting there to reporting inside Nazi-era Germany.
In mid-November, Bloomberg suspended Forsythe. But things took a turn for the bizarre on Dec. 7 when Leta Hong Fitcher, Forsythe's wife and an expert on gender in China, tweeted "Can anyone recommend a feminist lawyer in Hong Kong?" That tweet was followed by another: "Has anyone heard of a spouse being sued for breaching a company's confidentiality agreement when the spouse never worked for that company." She later deleted the tweets, but confirmed to Foreign Policy on Dec. 9 that "she is seeing a lawyer"; she declined to elaborate further. Ty Trippet, a Bloomberg spokesman, declined to comment for this story.
While Bloomberg has been quiet about its strategy in dealing with official troubles in Mainland China, the New York Times appears to have made it clear to Beijing that its inability to operate in China would not be taken lightly by the U.S. government. On his trip to Beijing in early December, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden raised the issue with Chinese President Xi Jinping, and publicly chided Beijing, saying the United States has "profound disagreements" with the "treatment of U.S. journalists" in China.
"I think Biden's mention helped," said one of the New York Times reporters. "It put it at the top of the agenda, and let the Chinese know that there would probably be repercussions."
If Beijing actually does plan to expel both bureaus it would constitute the government's biggest move against foreign reporters at least since the upheaval following the Tiananmen Massacre in 1989. Evan Osnos, a staff writer for the New Yorker and a long-time China correspondent, called this recent move "the Chinese government's most dramatic attempt to insulate itself from scrutiny in the thirty-five years since China began opening to the world." Paul Mooney, a longtime China-based chronicler of that country's human rights abuses, had his visa rejected in early November, in another sign of tightening for foreign correspondents in China. Reuters, Bloomberg, and the New York Times "don't have the ability to influence the Chinese government," said Mooney. "I think we really need to have some kind of action. Maybe against media executives in China, or officials -- to give the message that this is not acceptable."
One of the New York Times reporters interviewed for this article suggested that Washington could slow down the approval process for U.S.-based executives for Chinese state media companies, like Xinhua and CCTV. "I would advocate this reciprocal kind of delay, and then if that didn't work, tit-for-tat visa denial, targeting executives," this reporter said. "After all these years in China, this is what I see as the only thing that works, with the Chinese government. They don't play nice."
It's not too late for Beijing to pull back and allow the bureaus to continue to operate. "Perhaps they won't pursue the nuclear option," said one of the New York Times journalists, adding that "it would be a public relations debacle" if the bureau was expelled. "There is talk about contingency plans, but it's not our priority right now," said the other reporter. "We have until Dec. 17 or 18 before the first of our residency visas expires." If they are expelled, the plan is to continue reporting, but from Hong Kong and Taiwan. "It's not ideal, but we're going to have smart and trenchant coverage of China either way," said one of the journalists. An executive at the New York Times familiar with the plans, who asked to speak on background, said reporting on China "is best done from China, but it can be done from elsewhere as well." Hong Kong, where the newspaperhas a large presence, is an "obvious" choice.
The experience of Chris Buckley, the New York Times reporter who settled in Hong Kong after his visa wasn't renewed last year, has shown that it's not impossible to cover China internationally. He has continued doggedly reporting from Hong Kong, though his wife and daughter remain in China. "The personal toll on Chris has been immense," said one of the New York Times journalists. A few weeks ago, I tweeted that Buckley may be the future of China journalism. "I sincerely hope not," he responded. Sadly, that's looking more and more likely. As for Buckley himself, it doesn't appear likely he will be allowed to move back to China anytime soon. Just like Laurie and his peers in the 1970s, he is consigned to sitting in Hong Kong and gazing longingly at the Mainland. And if things get worse, he'll soon have company.
Guang Niu/Getty Images
- See more at: http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2013/12/10/bloomberg_new_york_times_china_bureau#sthash.rWN9Q31y.4D5f6yHu.dpuf