March 8, 2002

A team of researchers at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRID) announced the discovery of how the Ebola virus attacks human cells. In "Lipid Raft Microdomains" (Journal of Experimental Medicine), the group explains that Ebola virus "targets tiny fat platforms called 'lipid rafts' that float atop the membrane of human cells. These cholesterol-rich rafts are the viruses' gateway into cells, the assembly platform for making new virus particles, and the exit point where new virus particles bud" (Marilyn Chase - WSJ.com). Identifying these rafts as the gateway for viruses may assist in the development of treatment/vaccines against Ebola and other filoviruses.


March 3, 2002

According to Simon Montlake in "Indonesia battles illegal timber trade" (The Christian Science Monitor), illegal logging in Indonesia has rapidly expanded since the fall of President Suharto in 1998:

    Forestry officials in Jakarta say they recognize the scale of the problem and want to act, but are frequently blocked by provincial officials who collude with illegal loggers and profit from the trade.
    Since the fall of President Suharto in 1998, his centralized, military-backed regime has given way to looser political ties between Jakarta and the provinces, sparking a feeding frenzy in resource-rich areas.
    "Instead of one Suharto, you now have 300 Suhartos, and all they know is how to rape and pillage the forests," says Timothy Nolan, director of a European Union-funded bureau that supports sustainable forestry in Indonesia.
Recently Jakarta has moved to take matters into its own hands by enlisting the Indonesia Navy. The Navy intercepted the Chinese ships suspected of carrying illegal timber and "impounded the vessels in Jakarta along with their illegal logs, far from the timber bosses . . . [who] want the case to be handled locally, where their grip is solid, instead of in Jakarta.



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