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President Obama says he’s “optimistic” about the coming pandemic of swine flu. We look at what is and is not being done and what history reveals about the dangers of over-reaction. Also, President Obama will nominate a new Supreme Court Justice to replace David Souter, who has decided to leave Washington. On Reporters Notebook, why are Africans and African-Americans susceptible to certain disases?  A new genetic study may help find some answers.

Banner image: A man wearing a face mask to prevent contagion by the Influenza H1N1 (Swine Flu) virus, buys a newspaper in Mexico City. Photo: Eitan Abramovich/AFP/Getty Images

Making News Supreme Court's Souter Has Had Enough of DC 7 MIN, 47 SEC

david_souter.jpgPresident Obama's about to get his first change to nominate a candidate for the US Supreme Court as Justice David Souter is said to be planning to step down. David Savage, who covers the Court for the Los Angeles Times, says Souter prefers his home in New Hampshire to "the best job in the worst city.”

David Savage, Los Angeles Times (@davidgsavage)

Betrayal of Trust

Laurie Garrett

Main Topic Can We Have a 'Pandemic' without the Panic? 35 MIN, 57 SEC

obama.jpgThe World Health Organization says all of humanity is now under threat from a swine flu pandemic, but nobody knows how severe it might turn out to be. Compared to the flu epidemics that occur every year, not that many people have died, and the WHO's warning is designed to keep things from getting worse. Mexico City, near where the outbreak began, is virtually shut down. But experts are warning about the dangers of over-reaction. Today President Obama called a cabinet meeting to talk the H1N1 virus, which officials are calling by its scientific name because it's now transmitted from human to human and not just from pigs. He cautioned against “alarm,” but acknowledged the need to prepare for the long term “since we know that these kinds of threats can emerge at any moment.“ The virus cannot be stopped by shutting down borders, so what can be done?  Are public health systems prepared? If it gets worse, can a vaccine be ready in time?

Chris Hawley, Latin America Correspondent, USA Today
Laurie Garrett, Council on Foreign Relations (@Laurie_Garrett)
John M. Barry, Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority East
Philip Alcabes, Professor of Urban Public Health, City University of New York


Philip Alcabes

Reporter's Notebook Scientists Unveil Study of African Genes 7 MIN, 14 SEC

tishkoff_image.jpgGenetic study shows that the human species originated in Africa and spread to the rest of the world. Now a ten-year study of the genes of Africans and African Americans has revealed new insights about their ancestry and, possibly, their susceptibility to different diseases. What's described as the most comprehensive study ever made of African genes has been published in the US journal, Science. The team leader is Sarah Tishkoff, associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania.

Sarah Tishkoff, Associate Professor of Genetics and Biology, University of Pennsylvania

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