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Need to Know, May 20, 2011: Climate change and tropical disease, Upper Big Branch mine disaster, Stuxnet

This week, we explore the threats that climate change may already be posing to human health. We report on a rare but deadly fungal disease, previously known to occur only in tropical and subtropical regions, that has recently led to several deaths in the Pacific Northwest. Scientists believe climate change may have already affected the spread of other diseases like West Nile virus and dengue fever.

Also: We revisit the Upper Big Branch coal mining disaster, one year later, to find out the results of the investigation into the cause of the explosion. We also take a look at the sophisticated and alarming Stuxnet worm, the first major manifestation of a physical cyber attack that targeted an Iranian uranium enrichment facility last year.

And: We speak with John Esposito of Georgetown University on President Obama’s attempt to redefine the U.S.’s relationship with the Middle East in light of the Arab Spring, and Jon Meacham returns with another “In Perspective” essay.

Tune in this Friday, May 20, to watch the full episode. Check your local listings for details.

Watch the individual segments:

Defending against the superweapons of cyberwar

With the Pentagon expected to declare cyberspace a battlefield equal in importance to land, sea and air, Need to Know delves into the story of Stuxnet – a sophisticated and devastating computer virus that may be the first salvo in a new global arms race. PLUS: Try our interactive to see if you can hack your way to nuclear sabotage.

From allergies to deadly disease:, feeling the effects of climate change

A rare but deadly fungal disease once known only in tropical climates is infecting people in the Pacific Northwest — and researchers say climate change may be why it’s now making people sick there.  Dr. Emily Senay examines how a warming climate is already affecting our health — making allergies worse, affecting the spread of infectious diseases, and pushing the extremes of killer weather.

Obama and the Arab Spring

Alison Stewart talks with Georgetown University’s John Esposito about President Obama’s efforts to redefine U.S. policy toward the Middle East and North Africa in the wake of the Arab Spring.

A preventable event: The West Virginia coal mine disaster

Need to Know’s John Larson updates investigative findings about last year’s deadly West Virginia coal mine explosion.

In Perspective: Why the world won’t end tomorrow

Jon Meacham’s take on the latest purported coming of Judgment Day, May 21.

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  • Chuck Denk

     Given that it’s been verified that the Upper Big Branch mine blast was preventable it would be great if Don Blankenship were to be convicted of 29 counts of voluntary manslaughter and fined for the $12 million payout at least. Unfortunately, it appears the most he can be hit with would be a civil lawsuit. Unfortunately, the victim’s families won’t get justice for their losses.

  • Trtippetts

    Great idea Chuck. Throw in some charges for having the security guards warn him mshaw was comin. Thats a federal crime.