Wednesday, November 18, 2015

World is on cusp on 'post-antibiotic era'; Fed rate rise likely in December; Boko Haram seen as deadliest terror group

1 World is on cusp of ‘post-antibiotic era’ (James Gallagher on BBC) The world is on the cusp of a "post-antibiotic era", scientists have warned after finding bacteria resistant to drugs used when all other treatments have failed. Their report identifies bacteria able to shrug off colistin in patients and livestock in China.

They said that resistance would spread around the world and raised the spectre of untreatable infections. Experts said the worrying development needed to act as a global wake-up call. Bacteria becoming completely resistant to treatment - also known as the antibiotic apocalypse - could plunge medicine back into the dark ages.

Common infections would kill once again, while surgery and cancer therapies, which are reliant on antibiotics, would be under threat. Chinese scientists identified a new mutation, dubbed the MCR-1 gene, that prevented colistin from killing bacteria. It was found in a fifth of animals tested, 15% of raw meat samples and in 16 patients.

Prof Timothy Walsh, who collaborated on the study, from the University of Cardiff, said: "All the key players are now in place to make the post-antibiotic world a reality. If MRC-1 becomes global, which is a case of when not if, and the gene aligns itself with other antibiotic resistance genes, which is inevitable, then we will have very likely reached the start of the post-antibiotic era.

“At that point if a patient is seriously ill, say with E. coli, then there is virtually nothing you can do." Resistance to colistin has emerged before. However, the crucial difference this time is the mutation has arisen in a way that is very easily shared between bacteria.

2 Fed rate rise likely in December (Rupert Neate in The Guardian) Interest rate hikes are coming. Most members of the Federal Reserve now believe the US economy could sustain a historic rise in interest rates as soon as December.

Minutes of Fed policymakers latest meeting showed that “most” participants felt that economic conditions to allow a rate rise “could well be met by the time of the next meeting”. The next Fed meeting is on 16 December.

At the last meeting, policymakers voted to leave rates at 0-0.25% – where they have been for the seven years since the financial crisis – but pointed towards the possibility of raising rates in December. Since the October meeting, a number of Fed officials have publicly said that a December rate hike is on the table.

Janet Yellen, the chair of the Federal Reserve, told Congress earlier this month increasing rates in December was a “live possibility” if there are no shocks to the economy. Bill Dudley, the president of the New York Federal Reserve and the second most important US central banker after Yellen, agreed with her. Loretta Mester, president of the Fed’s bank in Cleveland, last week said the time to hike rates was “quickly approaching”.

3 Boko Haram seen as deadliest terror group (San Francisco Chronicle) A new report says Nigeria's Boko Haram Islamic insurgents have become the world's deadliest extremist group, edging out the Islamic State group to which it is affiliated.

The Global Terrorism Index says deaths attributed to Boko Haram increased by 317 percent in 2014 to 6,644 compared to 6,073 blamed on Islamic State. Boko Haram pledged allegiance to IS in March and calls itself that group's West Africa Province.

The two are responsible for 51 percent of deaths by terror worldwide, according to the report published by the New York City-based Institute for Economics and Peace. Amnesty International has blamed Nigeria's military for the deaths in detention of another 8,000 civilians.

The new report says nearly all terrorist attacks have occurred in countries where political violence by governments is widespread.

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