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Who Should Take the Advanced Solutions of Microsoft Exchange Server 2013 Certification Exam

The 70-342 Advanced Solutions of Microsoft Exchange Server 2013 exam is designed for senior administrators with experience in leading other administrators. Successfully passing the exam earns a candidate a credit towards the Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE): Messaging certification. The proctored 70-342 exam acknowledges candidates who serve as a third level of support, between professionals who work as Exchange Recipient Administrators and Exchange Server Administrators.

Five scariest biological weapons

Biological warfare (BW), also known as germ warfare, is the deliberate use of disease-causing biological agents such as protozoa, fungi, bacteria, protists, or viruses, to kill or incapacitate humans, other animals or plants. Biological weapons (often referred to as bioweapons) are living organisms or replicating entities (virus) that reproduce or replicate within their host victims.

With an abundance of potential biological weapons to chose from, what are the top choices and why? This is a difficult question to answer because of the extreme secrecy surrounding biological warfare. Based on what is known, combined with some reasonable assumptions, the following are prime suspects in this rogue’s gallery of biological horrors:

Smallpox

Recently a number of stories have surfaced suggesting that many countries retain viable stocks of the smallpox virus and that some may even have large stores of this virus ready for delivery as a biological weapon.

Smallpox is an infectious disease unique to humans, caused by either of two virus variants, Variola major and Variola minor. The term “smallpox” was first used in Europe in the 15th century to distinguish variola from the “great pox” (syphilis).

Smallpox localizes in small blood vessels of the skin and in the mouth and throat. In the skin, this results in a characteristic maculopapular rash, and later, raised fluid-filled blisters. V. major produces a more serious disease and has an overall mortality rate of 30–35%. V. minor causes a milder form of disease (also known as alastrim, cottonpox, milkpox, whitepox, and Cuban itch) which kills about 1% of its victims. Long-term complications of V. major infection include characteristic scars, commonly on the face, which occur in 65–85% of survivors. Blindness resulting from corneal ulceration and scarring, and limb deformities due to arthritis and osteomyelitis are less common complications, seen in about 2–5% of cases.

Smallpox Five scariest biological weaponsSmallpox 1 Five scariest biological weapons

Smallpox is believed to have emerged in human populations about 10,000 BC. The earliest physical evidence of smallpox is likely the pustular rash on the mummified body of Pharaoh Ramses V of Egypt. The disease killed an estimated 400,000 Europeans per year during the closing years of the 18th century (including five reigning monarchs), and was responsible for a third of all blindness. Of all those infected, 20–60%—and over 80% of infected children—died from the disease. Smallpox was responsible for an estimated 300–500 million deaths during the 20th century. As recently as 1967, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that 15 million people contracted the disease and that two million died in that year.

After vaccination campaigns throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, the WHO certified the eradication of smallpox in 1979. Smallpox is one of the two infectious diseases to have been eradicated, the other being rinderpest, which was unofficially declared eradicated in 2010.

Anthrax

Anthrax is an acute disease caused by the bacteria Bacillus anthracis. Most forms of the disease are lethal, and it affects both humans and other animals. There are effective vaccines against anthrax, and some forms of the disease respond well to antibiotic treatment.

Like many other members of the genus Bacillus, Bacillus anthracis can form dormant endospores that are able to survive in harsh conditions for decades or even centuries. Such spores can be found on all continents, even Antarctica. When spores are inhaled, ingested, or come into contact with a skin lesion on a host they may reactivate and multiply rapidly.

Anthrax Five scariest biological weapons

Anthrax commonly infects wild and domesticated herbivorous mammals which ingest or inhale the spores while grazing. Ingestion is thought to be the most common route by which herbivores contract anthrax. Carnivores living in the same environment may become infected by consuming infected animals. Diseased animals can spread anthrax to humans, either by direct contact or consumption of a diseased animal’s flesh.

Anthrax color enhanced micrograph Five scariest biological weapons
Anthrax spores can be produced in vitro and used as a biological weapon. Anthrax does not spread directly from one infected animal or person to another; it is spread by spores. These spores can be transported by clothing or shoes. The dead body of an animal that died of anthrax can also be a source of anthrax spores.

Botox

Botulinum toxin is a protein produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum, and is known to be extremely neurotoxic. When introduced intravenously in monkeys, type A of the toxin exhibits an LD50 of 40-56 ng, type C1 around 32 ng, type D 3200 ng, and type E 88 ng, rendering the above types some of the most powerful neurotoxins known. Popularly known by one of its trade names, Botox or Dysport, it is used for various cosmetic and medical procedures.

Botox is relatively stable and can be stored in crystalline form, but the weapon-ready forms are classified. It can be absorbed through the mucous membranes so aerosol dispersal, addition to a municipal water or food supplies are likely ways of introducing botox into a population. It is tasteless and odorless and, depending on the dosage, and may take from 2 to 14 days before the symptoms appear. The symptoms include double vision, difficulty in swallowing and speaking, muscle weakness, vomiting and eventually respiratory failure. The protein is a neurotoxin and once the symptoms appear the damage is irreversible (after ~48 hours).

botox Five scariest biological weapons

The known disadvantages are that botox is unstable in the air if exposed to sunlight and dry conditions and is destroyed by brief boiling, thus effective exposure is limited by a small window of lighting and humidity conditions. Even though botox is highly toxic it would still take a large quantity to reach a lethal concentration in a large city’s water supply. Further, contaminating a food supply would be difficult, although individual food processing plants are a likely target for terrorists. The centralization of huge food-processing plants that provide food for outlets around the country offers terrorists a tempting opportunity to commit mass murder.

botox 1 Five scariest biological weapons

A realistic view of the botox situation is that many of the problems of dispersal were likely solved by the >3,000 US scientists that reportedly worked on biological warfare during W.W. II & the cold war. It is also reasonable to assume that the botox can be fused by common molecular biology technology with other proteins that stabilize it for dispersal without decreasing its lethality or it can be mixed with other protective agents (e.g. trehalose, viral-glass) or that it can be encapsulated in protective material (timed release) that dissolves once it is in the digestive system. It should also be possible to clone the botox gene into common bacteria that inhabit the human gut (e.g. E. coli), which would establish themselves there long enough to produce a quantity of botox sufficient to disable the victim before their immune system responded; a natural condition seen in young babies who ingest the spores in foods like honey.

Aflatoxins

Aflatoxins are naturally occurring mycotoxins that are produced by many species of Aspergillus, a fungus, most notably Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus. Aflatoxins are toxic and among the most carcinogenic substances known. After entering the body, aflatoxins may be metabolized by the liver to a reactive epoxide intermediate or be hydroxylated and become the less harmful aflatoxin M1.

This is a class of biological carcinogens, product by certain molds, that induce liver cancer. Man and many other animals are susceptible to this material. The molds that produces this material grows well on grain, peanuts and other rich nutrients. Aflatoxins are readily extracted with ethanol and easily concentrated. They are stable on storage, but their stability after dispersal has not been reported. The onset of the cancer is uncertain and clearly dose dependent. As there are no known human tests on the toxicity of this material, it is impossible to assign a minimal lethal dose.

Alfatoxins Five scariest biological weaponsAflatoxins 1 Five scariest biological weapons

Since there is a delay between exposure and the development of the clinical disease, as well as difficulty in differentiating cancer origins between accidental and intentional exposure, even recognizing that a target population had been “attacked” would be laborious; this would be a case of a “stealth BW attack”. The Iraqis reportedly produced ~600 gallons of concentrated aflatoxin which was loaded in bombs and missiles.

Clostridium perfringens: The Iraqis produced 90 gallons of this microbe. C. perfringens is an anaerobic gram positive spore former that grows well in the absence of oxygen and produces spores resistant to adverse conditions. It enters the body through wounds, particularly the jagged, deep, and dirty type produced in war, where it cause gas gangrene. Gas gangrene is an especially nasty disease that eats away the body while producing a stench that would gag a maggot. It is one disease that physicians can diagnose a block away from the patient. Since C. perfringens is a natural inhabitant of the human intestine as well as most other animals it is not hard to obtain. It also is one of the most common agents of food poisonings, frequently spoiling foods like turkey and other fowl as well as any rich food it contaminates.

Ricin

Ricin is a protein that is extracted from the castor bean. Ricin may cause allergic reactions, and is toxic, though the severity depends on the route of exposure. Ricin is poisonous if inhaled, injected, or ingested, acting as a toxin by the inhibition of protein synthesis. It works as a slow poison, eventually causing a total body collapse as necessary proteins are not replaced. The structure and mechanism of action of ricin is well understood, thus making it an excellent candidate for genetic manipulation. That is, because of this knowledge, it should be possible to genetically modify ricin so as to make it a more effective BW. Ricin is already being investigated for its “magic bullet” properties as an agent that might selectively destroy cancer cells. This same technology could easily be applied to improving its BW-capacity. For example, if ricin is chemically bound to antibodies that only bind to a certain type of cancer cell, the attached ricin should only kill the targeted cancer cells and no other cells. The same principle could be used to specifically target an enemy; in theory one could be specific enough to use this procedure to target a single individual for assassination.

An antidote and a vaccine have been manufactured by military organizations. Symptomatic and supportive treatment is available. Long term organ damage is likely in survivors. Ricin causes severe diarrhea and victims can die of shock.

 Five scariest biological weapons

Fusarium oxysporum: The potential use of genetic engineering in the production of biological weapons is illustrated by the on-going studies on the possible of the use of the mold Fusarium oxysporum as a candidate for drug plant eradication. This fungus, which has devastated commercial crops (e.g. bananas & muskmelon), is being investigated for its potential to destroy coca and cannabis plants, from which cocaine and marijuana are derived.

ricin 1 Five scariest biological weapons

Obviously, the same technology could be applied by terrorists to assail the commercial crops of perceived enemy states. Natural outbreaks of plant epidemics have repeatedly demonstrated, that the potato, corn, wheat and soybean mono-culturing techniques used to cultivate these crops offer optimal conditions for the spread of plant pathogens. Not only could rogue nations do this, it is possible that a criminal organization, such as a drug cartel, with its vast cash and organizational resources, could engage in such activities as retaliation for its economic loses. It is even possible that terrorists/criminals might hold a nation up for ransom with the threat of using such a weapon.

Scientists carry out 3.7m experiments on animals in 12 months as UK figures climb to 20-year high

Scientists carried out 3.7million experiments on live animals last year in the UK – the highest level for at least 20 years. The number of ‘procedures’ on laboratory animals rose by 14 per cent in 2008 – an increase of 454,000 on the year before, according to Home Office figures published yesterday. It is the seventh year in a row that the figure has gone up and follows pledges from scientists and the Government that they want to reduce animal suffering. Scientists said the increase was caused by a ‘boom’ in medical research for conditions such as cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease. But animal welfare campaigners said the figures were ‘shocking’ and called for more efforts to reduce suffering of animals. The Home Office said the number of animal experiments is higher than it has been for at least 20 years.

The Government changed the way it counted experiments in 1987, making comparisons before then difficult. ‘But it is possible that the last time there were as many procedures was 1982 when it was over four million,’ a spokesman said.

The figures show that the number of procedures on animals has risen by 35 per cent since 2000. The definition of a ‘procedure’ varies from simple blood tests on mice to fatal toxicology tests on monkeys. The figures also include the births of mice and fish to genetically engineered parents.

In 2008, 77 per cent of experiments involved mice, rats and other rodents, 17 per cent were on fish and 3 per cent used birds. Less than 1 per cent of experiments involved monkeys, cats, dogs, horses and pigs. There were 4,598 experiments on monkeys – a rise of 16 per cent on the previous year – along with 6,074 experiments on beagles, 9,365 experiments on horses and donkeys, and 360 on cats.

Around 1.3million experiments involved genetically engineered animals, mostly mice and fish. GM experiments are used to research the function of DNA and cells in living organisms, or to mimic human diseases. Most experiments were for medical and scientific research and drug development. Some were to test veterinary drugs or surgery. None were for testing cosmetics. Simon Festing, executive director of Understanding Animal Research, a pro-animal research lobby group, said: ‘We are doing more and better research to find solutions to serious diseases.

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Meat-eating ‘dragon’ terrorised Romania 80 million years ago

A dragon-like dinosaur with vast claws terrorised Europe 80 million years ago, a study has found.

The creature was a powerfully-built meat-eating dinosaur with scythe-like claws for ripping its prey apart. It used its lower limbs to disembowel its victims.

Experts have named the seven-foot long dinosaur, which was discovered in Romania, Balaur bondoc, which means ”stocky dragon”.

Other fossils found in the same region include cow-sized relatives of giant sauropod dinosaurs, and tiny duck-billed dinosaurs.

‘Balaur might be one of the largest predators in this ecosystem because not even a big tooth has been found in Romania after over 100 years of research,” said dinosaur expert Dr Zoltan Csiki, from the University of Bucharest, one of the authors of the research published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Towards the end of the dinosaurs’ reign, in the Late Cretaceous period, much of present-day Europe was an archipelago of islands.

A partial skeleton of Balaur including leg, hip, vertebrae, arms, rib and tail bones, was unearthed from a former floodplain near the city of Sebes in central Romania.

The dinosaur is related to the Velociraptor.

However, it had a stockier build, with short legs and powerful muscles, suggesting it was built for strength rather than speed, Its most unusual feature was two oversized toe claws instead of Velociraptor’s one.

Co-researcher Stephen Brusatte, from Columbia University in New York, said: ”Balaur is a new breed of predatory dinosaur, very different from anything we have ever known.

”Its anatomy shows that it probably hunted in a different way than its less stocky relatives. Compared to Velociraptor, Balaur was probably more of a kickboxer than a sprinter, and it might have been able to take down larger animals than itself, as many carnivores do today.”

Balaur had unusually small hands containing fused bones, which would have made grasping difficult.

Scientists believe the lower limbs rather than the hands were used to grasp and disembowel prey.

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A fifth of the world’s animals face oblivion: Scientists fear ‘sixth mass extinction’ has begun

One in five of the world’s mammals, birds, fish, reptiles and amphibians are under threat of extinction, according to a major new stock take of life on Earth.The shocking study found that the number of endangered vertebrates, or animals with backbones, is still rising and that humans are largely to blame.

Many scientists believe the world is going through a ‘sixth mass extinction’ and that more wildlife is going extinct now than at any time since the dinosaurs vanished 65 million years ago.

The report comes as governments are taking part in UN talks in Nagoya, Japan to tackle the global threat to wildlife.

It looked at the status of more than 25,000 species on the Red List – a database of threatened animals created by the respected International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

Around 20 per cent of the world’s vertebrates are threatened, including 25 per cent of all mammals, 13 per cent of birds, 22 per cent of reptiles and 41 per cent of amphibians.

The scientists also found that 33 per cent of ‘cartilaginous’ fish – species such as shark, rays and skates whose skeletons are made from cartilage, were threatened, along with 15 per cent of bony fish.

Species at risk include the iconic polar bear, panda and Iberian lynx. Others include the Tasmanian devil – which has been badly hit by an infectious form of cancer, the Caspian seal and the Asian fishing cat.

British species on the list include the European eel whose numbers have plummeted by 99 per cent because of pollution and overfishing, the schelly – one of Britain’s rarest freshwater fish which is found in only four lakes in the Lake District, and the aquatic warbler – a yellow brown visitor to southern Britain in the late summer.

The report, published in the journal Science and written by 174 scientists, found that an average of 52 species of mammals, birds and amphibians slide a step closer to extinction every year – moving into a more threatened category on the list.

One of the world’s leading ecologists, Professor Edward O. Wilson, from Harvard University, warned: ‘The ‘backbone’ of biodiversity is being eroded.

‘One small step up the Red List is one giant leap forward towards extinction. This is just a small window on the global losses taking place.’

Southeast Asia is losing most wildlife thanks to the expansion of agriculture, the logging and burning of forests and over-hunting. Species are also threatened by the invasion of alien species from other countries.

The report showed that extinction rates had exceeded the normal background rates by two or three orders of magnitude over the last 40 years.

However, without action from conservationists, the situation would have been far worse – with 20 per cent more species moving into a more threatened category.

Sixty four species had seen an improvement in their status as a result of work to help protect them and their habitat.

‘This paper is proof that conservation is working. Now we have to scale-up our efforts to match the unprecedented threats faced by the natural world,’ said Prof Jonathan Baillie, Director of Conservation Programmes at the Zoological Society of London.

A separate report by the Zoological Society of London warned that common animals were also declining.

The Evolution Lost report said populations of mammal, bird, reptile, amphibian and fish species had declined on average by 30 per cent in the past 40 years.

Over the past decades, land mammal populations are estimated to have declined by a quarter, marine fish by a fifth and freshwater fish by up to 65 per cent.


The report also warned that entire ‘lineages’ of species such as marine turtles and pandas are on the brink of being lost – with no similar species able to fill the ecological niches or functions they inhabit.

Scientists may be forced to report exactly how much animals suffer in laboratory experiments

Scientists may for the first time be legally required to describe the level of suffering endured by animals in their laboratories under new proposals unveiled today.

Currently institutions have to say in advance whether planned procedures are likely to inflict “mild, moderate or substantial” suffering on animals.

However the degree of suffering animals actually experience is not reported.

The new system would additionally make it necessary to grade animal suffering as “mild, moderate or substantial” after an experiment is over.

Out of a group of 10 mice, for example, seven may have experienced “mild” suffering, two “moderate” and one “substantial”.

Under the new proposals this information would have to be reported to the Home Office.

It would be used to provide national figures on the actual experience of animals in Britain’s laboratories.

But there would be no “league table” of distress caused to animals. The figures would be pooled together to provide an overall picture without individual institutions being named.

The retrospective reporting system, modelled on one that has already existed for 10 years in Switzerland, was drawn up by experts on the Animal Procedures Committee, which advises the Home Office.

Government officials will now consider the proposals before deciding whether they should be adopted.

As the recommendations stand, they would not require new legislation.

At present, scientists tend to over-estimate suffering bands when making licence applications to conduct experiments. This minimises the danger of accidentally breaking the law by inflicting more pain on an animal than the licence allows.

Many animals selected for “moderate” or “substantial” procedures are actually thought to experience mild suffering. This is not reflected in figures published by the Home Office.

Dr David Smith, chief executive of the Laboratory Animals Science Association (Lasa), who chaired the APC working group which set out the proposals, described the change as a “milestone”.

He added: “At the moment the information available in the public domain is very limited.

“We hope that this is going to be a way forward. Transparency is going to be increased, and animal research scientists themselves are extremely pleased. It enables them to be a lot more open in their work.”

Colleague Professor Dominic Wells, a scientist from Imperial College London, said: “We record all the animals that enter into a particular procedure but don’t recall what happens to the animals during the procedure.

“Now we will make available to the public a clear record of what happens to every single animal that undergoes a procedure.

“That will enable the public to have a better understanding of animal suffering and enable us to be really transparent.”

Speaking at the Science Media Centre in London, he defended the decision not to let the public know how animals fare at particular institutions.

“There has unfortunately historically been persistent threats and physical violence and damage to institutions,” he said.

“It’s currently felt that until that essentially terrorist threat is removed there is a need for security.”

Consideration was given to a more complex system with more categories of suffering. But keeping the existing broad brackets meant the proposals could be easily introduced without bringing in new legislation.

The Committee also recommended that a glossary be made available with the published figures explaining what the suffering bands mean.

“Mild” procedures are classified as those which may give rise to “slight or transitory minor adverse effects”. Examples included the taking of small blood samples and minor surgery under anaesthesia.

“Moderate” procedures include non-lethal toxicity tests and surgery followed by post-operative pain reduction and care.

“Substantial” procedures can result in a “major departure” from an animal’s usual state of health or well being. They might include poison tests leading to significant illness or death, major surgery, or genetic engineering to model diseases that seriously compromise an animal’s welfare.

Scientists would provide their own assessments, but laboratories could be visited at any time by Home Office inspectors, the experts said.

Dr Smith said even though no individual institutions would be named or shamed, the scientific community as a whole would be motivated to improve the lot of laboratory animals.

“I’m quite certain we will refine our methods so we don’t get so many animals undergoing substantial procedures,” he said.

Animal welfare in laboratories may yet require new laws as a result of a new European Union directive that could be introduced as early as this year.

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