Agonising over the loss of liberal ideals 

Very sad development

Ed Rybicki's Blog

I am conflicted. Seriously conflicted. I have been at the University of Cape Town since 1974, as a student, postgraduate and academic; I have been here through the unrest periods of 1976, the 1980s, the 1990s, and now the 20teens.

And never before have I felt as alienated or depressed about being here as I do now.

Seriously: even though I demonstrated in 1976, 1985 and in the 1990s, and agonised about leaving in 1990 (saved by Mandela being released), it was not my institution that was the target of protest – and now it is.

To describe why, I must describe the context: this is of an institution that is the oldest western-style university in Africa, one of the oldest in the southern hemisphere, and which leads Africa as a teaching and research facility. It is also run by well-meaning liberals, albeit largely white, and male, some of whom were revolutionaries…

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Thabo Mbeki rides again. Let’s knock him off his horse, then!

ViroBlogy

Sixteen years ago, two colleagues and I wrote a letter to Nature expressing our concern about our then-President Thabo Mbeki’s denialist views on HIV and AIDS – views he then tried to push into national policy, and which almost certainly were highly influential in delaying the rollout of ARVs in South Africa.  I was also active for several years in the media and in public lectures in trying to negate some of the damage he was causing – and I was very relieved when he took a back seat eventually, and then effectively vanished from the public stage.

However, in an unwelcome development as of this week, it appears that Mr Mbeki has finally, in his ongoing quest to rewrite history, addressed the elephant in the room: his views on HIV/AIDS.

To say this “letter” is self-serving would be to pay it a compliment.  Indeed, he himself has this to…

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How Mbeki’s character and his AIDS denialism are intimately linked

I would like to see such a tribunal set, if not in SA at least some ICC of some sort. Mbeki on different from Bashir and the war lords who kill their people

ViroBlogy

Critics say that Thabo Mbeki’s character matters less than his AIDS denialism. But these things are actually intimately linked.

Sourced through Scoop.it from: theconversation.com

So Thabo Mbeki is attempting to rewrite history, or at least his place in it, and he may or may not get to writing about his beliefs on HIV/AIDS.
As someone who was actively involved in telling him how wrong he was, I cannot say I am looking forward to seeing him attempt to explain himself.
Because he was wrong in so many ways: wrong in his disbelief; wrong in his actively courting the loony dissidents; wrong in buying into the “ARVs are just poisons” belief; wrong in buying into the conspiracy theories around Big Pharma.
And wrong not to believe scientists in his own country, who did their very best to convince him, using the best evidence on hand, that HIV causes AIDS, and ARVs…

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Your next DNA vaccine might come from tobacco

ViroBlogy

We don’t have much practice at this sort of thing, but seeing as we just got something REALLY cool published, and the man who largely made it possible is now a science writer, we decided to ask him to write a press release.  So he did.  Thanks, Paul Kennedy – take a bow, twice!


“In a pioneering step towards using plants to produce vaccines against cervical cancer and other viruses, University of Cape Town (UCT) researchers have generated synthetic human papillomavirus- derived viral particles called pseudovirions in tobacco plants.

“We’ve succeeded in making a completely mammalian viral particle in a plant – proteins, DNA, everything. That’s enormously exciting,” says Dr Inga Hitzeroth of the Biopharming Research Unit (BRU) at UCT.Dr_Inga_Hitzeroth

In an Open Access study just published in Nature Scientific Reports, BRU researchers report using tobacco plants to create a synthetic viral particle known as a pseudovirion.

A pseudovirion looks…

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Why Africa can’t afford to have an outbreak of the Zika virus

Well said

ViroBlogy

With limited laboratory capacity and a lack of experts and funding, an outbreak of the Zika virus in Africa could be problematic.

Sourced through Scoop.it from: theconversation.com

Yeah…sure. It could be Bad.

BUT: as South African epidemiologists have pointed out, it’ll only be a problem IF the mosquito that transmits it elsewhere, comes here – because our local A aegypti doesn’t have the same behaviour, and will vastly outnumber and possibly outcompete any import variety.

And it’s endemic in tropical Africa – meaning many people are immune already.

So scaremongering about Zika in Africa is possibly a little irresponsible – unless it’s being used as a stalking horse for an agenda for setting up continent-wide arbovirus surveillance, or spurring on efforts to set up an African CDC. Which I would heartily endorse.

The stuff about lack of reagents is spot-on: which is why we have a proposal in the works…

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A community for those who like to be alone, grown out of a blockbuster TED Talk

TED Blog

Melissa Ng makes 3D printed masks. She found inspiration on how to run a company, despite her quiet nature, from Susan Cain's TED Talk and new website. Photo: Courtesy of Melissa Ng Melissa Ng makes 3D-printed masks. She found inspiration on how to run a company, despite her quiet nature, from Susan Cain’s TED Talk and new website, Quiet Revolution. Photo: Courtesy of Melissa Ng

Scott Drummond had been in the Air Force for eight years. It was 1994, and he was eligible to become a commissioned officer, the Air Force’s version of a manager. The average person gets the job after three interviews. Drummond interviewed 16 times over the next ten years before he got the job.

Looking back at his career, Drummond — now a director of inspections with the Indiana Air National Guard — can see that he lagged about ten years behind his peers as he rose through the ranks. At the time, he couldn’t figure out why. But today, at age 47, he attributes the gap to “starting slow and finishing strong,” thanks to his introverted nature…

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Virology Africa 2015: Update and Registration

#AfricanResearch

ViroBlogy

REGISTRATION IS NOW OPEN – VIROLOGY AFRICA 2015

On behalf of the Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine of the University of Cape Town and the Poliomyelitis Research Foundation, we are pleased to invite you to Virology Africa 2015 at the Cape Town Waterfront.

VENUE AND DATES:

The conference will run from Tuesday 1st – Thursday 3rd December 2015. The conference venue is the Radisson Blu Hotel with a magnificent view of the ocean. The hotel school next door will host the cocktail party on the Monday night 30th November and in keeping with Virology Africa tradition, the dinner venue is the Two Oceans Aquarium.

IMPORTANT DATES

Early Bird Registration closes – 30 September 2015
Abstract Submissions deadline – 30 September 2015

The ACADEMIC PROGRAMME will include plenary-type presentations from internationally recognised speakers. We wish to emphasise that this is intended as a general virology conference – which means…

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