Boston is set this week to debate whether to ban a new, downtown biodefense laboratory from studying some of the world’s deadliest disease agents.
A Wednesday city council hearing is expected to consider a proposed citywide prohibition on so-called “Biosafety Level 4” research, which can involve diseases for which there are no known cures. The initiative marks the latest local pushback against Boston University’s effort to pursue the sensitive pathogen studies at its recently completed National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratories.
In his draft ordinance, Councilor Charles Yancey said conducting such research at the site could enable an agent such as Ebola or Marburg to escape into the city, either by accident or deliberate action.
“I am not convinced we really need to invite that possibility to the city of Boston,” Yancey told the Boston Globe in remarks published in a Sunday editorial.
Boston University has criticized the rationale behind the council measure, arguing that the laboratory’s security is stringent and any sensitive research justified by the need to prepare against lethal disease agents.
A four-year risk study “considered hundreds of possible scenarios that could potentially result in an exposure of a worker to a pathogen, or the release of a biological agent [and] demonstrated conclusively that BSL-4 laboratories — built with multiple backup redundancies for its operations systems — are extremely safe,” the university said in a statement last month.
Sunday’s Globe editorial sides with the school, and argues that the site’s location would facilitate collaboration with experts throughout the region.
“It’s understandable why critics of the biolab might prefer that the research take place in an isolated facility … [but that] would impede scientists’ ability to learn from one another,” the newspaper said.
What We're Following See More »
Even though they dislike both of them, the American people want to know that its presidential candidates are healthy. "Nearly two-thirds of registered voters think presidential candidates should release details about their medical histories, according to a new Morning Consult poll." In the new poll, 64 percent of Americans say the candidates should release their medical reports, up nine percent from May.
In a speech Friday at the Federal Reserve's Jackson Hole summit, Fed chair Janet Yellen sounded an optimistic tone about the state of the American economy, before implying that a hike in interest rates is on the horizon. The Fed "continues to anticipate that gradual increases in the federal funds rate will be appropriate over time to achieve and sustain employment and inflation near our statutory objectives," Yellen said in her address.
While politicians argue over whether or not to be worried about potential voter fraud come November, a study tells us it is not a legitimate concern. "A News21 analysis four years ago of 2,068 alleged election-fraud cases in 50 states found that while some fraud had occurred since 2000, the rate was infinitesimal compared with the 146 million registered voters in that 12-year span. The analysis found only 10 cases of voter impersonation, the only kind of fraud that could be prevented by voter ID at the polls."
The Democratic National Committee's "influx of money" in July "owes in part to an unprecedented workaround of political spending limits that lets the party tap into millions of dollars more" from Hillary Clinton’s biggest donors. "At least $7.3 million of the DNC’s July total originated with payments from hundreds of major donors who had already contributed the maximum $33,400 to the national committee." Those payments were "first bundled by the Hillary Victory Fund and then transferred to the state Democratic parties, which effectively stripped the donors’ names and sent the money to the DNC as a lump sum."
President Obama this morning "created the largest protected area on the planet Friday, by expanding a national marine monument off the coast of his native Hawaii to encompass 582,578 square miles of land and sea."