Tuesday Map: Google Earth does bird flu

Google Earth is fast becoming a tool of choice for looking at big problems like genocide in Darfur. The latest innovative use of the 3-D mapping software? Tracking bird flu.

Researchers led by Daniel Janies, an assistant professor of biomedical informatics at Ohio State University, used Google Earth to create a color-coded "evolutionary tree" of the avian flu virus (H5N1) over a 10-year time period. They published their findings in the latest issue of Systemic Biology, a bimonthly journal. By showing the data in new ways, the mapping tool could help other researchers and public health officials develop better strategies to fight the virus. (If you've seen the latest episodes of the television show Heroes, it looks somewhat like Hiro Nakamura's map of the past. But in this case, the map's colors refer to different types of hosts for the H5N1 virus.)

If you've got Google Earth, you can check out their data for yourself here. If not, check out the video tour here.


Post-Wolfowitz scenarios


Not everyone at the World Bank is certain that the scenario painted in today's New York Times article, in which European governments would graciously allow the United States to continue to select the president of the World Bank in exchange for dumping Wolfowitz, is really what's going to happen. From what we're hearing, many Bank staffers fear that Bush and Cheney will dig in their heels in order to protect their friend on the grounds that any transgressions aren't serious enough to mandate his resignation. They may also care more about not letting "the opposition" take down their loyal allies than they do about letting an institution (for which they have never cared much in the first place) to deteriorate as a result of lack of funding, low morale, and gridlock at the top.

So what happens next? A senior world bank executive who wishes to remain anonymous outlined the following two scenarios to Passport and agreed to let us publish them. (read the rest after the jump)

Scenario A: Ouster and Reform. The Bank board is extremely reticent to put the matter to a vote that would likely alienate the institution's largest individual shareholder. If, however, the board is forced to decide Wolfowitz's fate, he will assuredly go down. What's more, the United States will lose the privilege of selecting the Bank president unilaterally, which has been the procedure since the Bank's founding (the Europeans traditionally selected the head of the IMF).  The new process would look like that used to select Kemal Dervis as head of UNDP. During the search for Wolfowitz's replacement, the "calm and accomplished" Lars Thunell of the Bank's International Finance Corporation would step in as interim president to cheers from the European camp. James W. Adams, an American who is currently vice president for Operations Policy and Country Services, would become acting managing director to provide "balance." The World Bank then must learn to "raise money from US Congress by hiring a lobbyist (former US Congressperson) just like everyone does, and by campaigning for issues that people care about, not by having a mediocre American be president," says the source.

But what if the New York Times is right, and Bush relents or Wolfowitz quits on his own? 

Robert Zoellick

Robert Kimmitt

Scenario B: Wolfowitz Resigns. In this scenario, the Board's report on Wolfowitz is so "devastating" that the Europeans, working with U.S. Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, convince Wolfowitz that he must resign. The White House retains the prerogative of appointing his successor, but "with intense scrutiny" from other Bank shareholders this time around. According to our source, likely candidates include former U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick and current Deputy Treasury Secretary Robert Kimmitt. Our source believes that Zoellick is extremely talented, accomplished, and downright visionary, but is "knocked out by lack of management experience" and a "one-man-show" style, while Kimmitt "doesn't have the leadership/management ability." The winning candidate needs to be "a good manager, an internationalist and multilateralist, and someone who can calm the Europeans and get them to put money into [the International Development Association] not to mention our $20 billion in trust funds," the source writes.

A tall order. Know anyone who fits the bill?