Avian Flu back in the U.S. poultry industry – Ground Zero in Indiana

The U.S. government confirmed the presence of a highly pathogenic strain of avian influenza in a commercial turkey flock in Indiana, the country’s first case since the end of last year’s outbreak that led to the destruction of 50 million animals.

The H7N8 strain discovered at a 60,000-bird flock in Dubois County is different from those that caused last year’s outbreak, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service said…Federal and state authorities are monitoring and testing the nearby area, it said, without naming the exact site…

U.S. poultry producers have been on edge after recent cases in France. The 2015 U.S. outbreak, which ended in June, led to record-high egg prices and caused some shortages of turkey deli meat used in subs and sandwiches. It cost the industry $3.3 billion.

Producers have been discussing the new outbreak in a series of conference calls since they first became aware of the Indiana case late Thursday, said John Brunnquell, president of Egg Innovations LLC, which produces free-range eggs in farms across the Midwest. The response has been rapid, with the killing of birds going on throughout the night…

Preliminary tests indicate the H7N8 strain found in Indiana was of North American origin, according to the USDA’s T.J.Myers. The USDA will conduct diagnostics to seek a cause for the mutation of the virus, he said.

Determined to avoid a repeat of the nation’s worst-ever avian-influenza outbreak, the USDA stockpiled millions of doses of a new vaccine designed to fight the 2015 strain, which is different than the one in Indiana…so, the vaccine is useless.

Avian influenza doesn’t present a food safety risk. All shipments of poultry and eggs are tested to ensure the absence of avian influenza before moving into the food supply. The Centers for Disease Control considers the risk of illness to humans to be very low.

OTOH, the destruction of millions of birds means the price of turkey skyrockets. Spreading to other species, further flock destruction means eggs and poultry in general may be affected.

Tim Cook’s message to Obama – Defend encryption!

tim-cook-encryption

Apple CEO Tim Cook lashed out at the high-level delegation of Obama administration officials who came calling on tech leaders in San Jose last week, criticizing the White House for a lack of leadership and asking the administration to issue a strong public statement defending the use of unbreakable encryption.

The White House should come out and say “no backdoors,” Cook said. That would mean overruling repeated requests from FBI Director James Comey and other administration officials that tech companies build some sort of special access for law enforcement into otherwise unbreakable encryption. Technologists agree that any such measure could be exploited by others.

But Attorney General Loretta Lynch responded to Cook by speaking of the “balance” – blah, blah, blah.

The exchange was described to The Intercept by two people who were briefed on the meeting, which the White House called to discuss a variety of counterterrorism issues with representatives from Apple, Facebook, Twitter, Cloudflare, Google, Drop Box, Microsoft, and LinkedIn…

Despite the growing pressure tech companies are feeling from governments worldwide to stop letting terrorists take advantage of their services, Cook has continued to defend the importance of encryption in protecting all digital transactions — from text messages and emails to bank information and medical records.

Cook has been outspoken in his opposition to the idea that we need to sacrifice privacy and digital security for the sake of public safety…

…Technologists and cryptographers have been insisting for decades almost unanimously that trying to pierce impenetrable end-to-end encryption to provide the government with access would be more dangerous than beneficial. And you can’t put the genie back in the bottle.

Bravo! It’s not any easier to defend individual privacy to governments than it is to defend free speech to today’s Republicans.