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Whatever Happened To...

Whatever Happened To... Bird Flu?\rYou couldn't find a hotter health story in 2006 than bird flu–specifically, the H5N1 variety, which killed 60 percent of the people it infected and was predicted to kill between 5 million and 150 million more if a full-on outbreak were to occur. So why are we all still..\n

Whatever Happened To... Bird Flu?

You couldn't find a hotter health story in 2006 than bird flu–specifically, the H5N1 variety, which killed 60 percent of the people it infected and was predicted to kill between 5 million and 150 million more if a full-on outbreak were to occur. So why are we all still here? Mostly because the virus never mutated into a form that could transmit easily from birds to humans, and its spread in farmed birds has been largely contained through vaccination. Wild birds still contract and spread the disease, but outbreaks in 2008 were a fifth of what they were the year before, and the human death count last year was 59. The potential for a pandemic persists, but our lack of preparation has not, as yet, come home to roost.Photo Murdo Macleod / Polaris

\nWhatever Happened To... Killer Robots in Iraq?\n


Lots, actually. Last year saw the first-ever deployment of fearless and bloodless armed robots on the ground in Iraq (three of them), and iRobot, one of the U.S. military's main suppliers of robots, just shipped the Army its 2,000th PackBot, a recon robot. The Pentagon has made a commitment of $2 billion over the next five years, so Iraqi insurgents should expect to see even more of them. Next up: A.I. that can think for itself (but hopefully won't turn on its masters)

\nWhatever Happened To… The Axis of Evil?

We took care of one point pretty handily (for now). While it's hard to say what will happen once our troops leave Iraq, that county's current incarnation has no place on the Axis. Meanwhile, after many heartfelt promises by Kim Jong Il to abandon North Korea's nuclear program, the Bush administration lifted trade sanctions on the country, and, in October, North Korea was removed from the terror watch list. So, while there is no official "Axis of Evil" list to speak of, we can assume North Korea wouldn't be on it anymore if there were, since the media took both of these actions as signs that Kim and his cronies had turned over a new, non-evil leaf. That leaves Iran-still incredibly, aggressively unfriendly, and potentially up to a lot of no good-which leaves us with a small, solitary Dot of Evil.

Whatever Happened To… The Rainforest?\n

Remember back in the early 1990s when everyone was freaking out about the rain forests? So much so, in fact, that activists were chaining themselves to trees and Ben & Jerry's launched an ice cream to raise awareness? Guess what? It's still a problem. And according to a recent study by the World Wildlife Federation, we may be just 15 years away from the point of no return. An area the size of a football field is lost to deforestation every 10 seconds, and when that happens, the destroyed rain forests belch massive amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, setting off a domino effect of global warming, disrupted ocean currents, and drought. Logging, urbanization, hunting, and tourism have also contributed to the extinction of thousands of animal species a year. Time for a new ice-cream flavor.

NOW WHAT For an interactive guide to making your own home rainforest-friendly, visit archive.greenpeace.org/foresthouseMORE INFO rainforestalliance.orgPHOTO Flickr user andresfib

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NHM Vienna/Hans Reschreiter

Wealth inequality has been a hot topic of discussion as of late, but it's something that's occurred all throughout history. Class structure is a complicated issue, especially when you consider that haves and have nots have been in existence for over 4,000 years.

A study published in Science took a look at over 100 late Neolithic and early Bronze Age skeletons found in a burial site in southern Germany. The study "shed light on the complexity of social status, inheritance rules, and mobility during the Bronze Age." Partly by looking at their teeth and the artifacts they were buried with, researchers were able to discover that wealth inequality existed almost 4,000 years ago. "Our results reveal that individual households lasting several generations consisted of a high-status core family and unrelated low-status individuals, a social organization accompanied by patrilocality and female exogamy, and the stability of this system over 700 years," the study said.

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Culture

Climate change means our future is uncertain, but in the meantime, it's telling us a lot about our past. The Earth's glaciers are melting at an alarming rate, but as the ice dwindles, ancient artifacts are being uncovered. The Secrets of the Ice project has been surveying the glaciers on Norway's highest mountains in Oppland since 2011. They have found a slew of treasures, frozen in time and ice, making glacier archeologists, as Lars Pilø, co-director of Secrets of the Ice, put it when talking to CNN, the "unlikely beneficiaries of global warming."

Instead of digging, glacier archeologists survey the areas of melting ice, seeing which artifacts have been revealed by the thaw. "It's a very different world from regular archaeological sites," Pilø told National Geographic. "It's really rewarding work.

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When former Pittsburgh Steelers' center Mike Webster committed suicide in 2002, his death began to raise awareness of the brain damage experienced by NFL football players. A 2017 study found that 99% of deceased NFL players had a degenerative brain disease known as CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy). Only one out of 111 former football players had no sign of CTE. It turns out, some of the risks of traumatic brain injury experienced by heavily padded adults playing at a professional level also exist for kids with developing brains playing at a recreational level. The dangers might not be as intense as what the adults go through, but it can have some major life-long consequences.

A new PSA put out by the Concussion Legacy Foundation raises awareness of the dangers of tackle football on developing brains, comparing it to smoking. "Tackle football is like smoking. The younger I start, the longer I am exposed to danger. You wouldn't let me smoke. When should I start tackling?" a child's voice can be heard saying in the PSA as a mother lights up a cigarette for her young son.

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via Gage Skidmore / Flickr

On Tuesday morning, President Trump tweeted about some favorable economic numbers, claiming that annual household income is up, unemployment is low, and housing prices are high.

Now, just imagine how much better those numbers would be if the country wasn't mired in an economy-killing trade war with China, bleeding out trillion-dollar-a-year debts, and didn't suffer from chaotic leadership in the Oval Office?

At the end of tweet, came an odd sentence, "Impeach the Pres."

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Politics

October is domestic violence awareness month and when most people think of domestic violence, they imagine mostly female victims. However, abuse of men happens as well – in both heterosexual and homosexual relationships. But some are taking it upon themselves to change all that.

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Culture