"The real issue is absenteeism, which the World Health Organization (WHO) predicts could climb above 40% and last for weeks. Boeing is trying to determine if it can operate with 30% of its 160,000 employees out. "We usually don't share specifics, because it's a security issue," says Boeing spokeswoman Kelly Donaghy. "Can you plan for everything? Absolutely not. We're going to be prepared the best we can. Shame on us if we don't at least think about it ahead of time." [Read more]
UN News: "Arriving today in Kenya, where 3.5 million people need emergency assistance, a United Nations Special Humanitarian Envoy warned that the crisis could deepen as families exhaust their remaining resources. Kjell Magne Bondevik made his comments in Nairobi as he continued his tour of drought-affected countries in the Horn of Africa. Food insecurity in Kenya remains severe in pastoral areas where the majority of those most affected are living, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). In Mandera district in the north, acute malnutrition in children has been recorded and high losses of livestock reported."
"More than 1,000 Iraqis who live south of Baghdad within the bombed and looted complex that was once the centre of Saddam Hussein's nuclear programme are at acute risk of radioactive poisoning, the UN's nuclear authority said yesterday. The Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency said it was launching a clean-up operation at the Tuwaitha plant, 14 miles south of Baghdad, and appealed for international involvement in what it said would be a long-term challenge." [Full story]
"A quarter century into the HIV/AIDS pandemic, researchers fear that a lack of preparedness for large-scale social changes, driven by factors like armed conflict and climate change, could lead to explosive new outbreaks affecting millions of people.
"Dr. David Nabarro, chief avian flu coordinator for the United Nations, has become gun-shy about making predictions - in particular about if and when the A(H5N1) virus, now devastating bird populations around the world, will do the same to humans. But Dr. Nabarro describes himself as "quite scared," especially since the disease has broken out of Asia and reached birds in Africa, Europe and India much faster than he expected it to. "That rampant, explosive spread," he said, "and the dramatic way it's killing poultry so rapidly suggests that we've got a very beastly virus in our midst." [Read more]
Bloomberg: "The United Nations World Health Organization said as much as $1.5 billion is needed during the next three years to combat the spread of avian influenza which has killed almost 80 people since December 2003."