Author Archives: richardbrenneman

InSecurityWatch: Spies, hacks, zones, drones


Today’s walk on the dark side begins with this from Nextgov:

Sen. Feinstein Pushes to Delay Release of CIA Torture Report

Sen. Dianne Feinstein wants a classified report released on Bush-era “enhanced interrogation” policies. She just doesn’t want it out quite yet.

The chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder earlier this month urging the Justice Department to delay its compliance with a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit seeking the disclosure of her panel’s so-called torture report. Feinstein argued the report is not ready for the public because negotiations are ongoing between her and the CIA over the document’s heavily redacted material.

“Not only would it be inappropriate for the department to release documents related to the committee’s study prior to the committee’s own release, but the result of the ongoing negotiations will likely positively affect the redactions in the documents being sought,” Feinstein wrote in a letter dated Aug. 12.

From the San Francisco Chronicle, gee, ya think so?:

Police often provoke protest violence, UC researchers find

The violence that turns a small-town protest into a fiery national spectacle like the one that has played out this month in Missouri is often unwittingly provoked by police, according to researchers at UC Berkeley.

The research team, which studied clashes between police and activists during the Occupy movement three years ago, found that protests tend to turn violent when officers use aggressive tactics, such as approaching demonstrators in riot gear or lining up in military-like formations.

Recent events in Ferguson, Mo., are a good example, the study’s lead researcher said. For nearly two weeks, activists angered by a white police officer’s fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager have ratcheted up their protests when confronted by heavily armed police forces.

From the Wire, eyes on:

Ferguson Police Department Implements Body Cameras

Police officers in Ferguson began wearing body cameras over the weekend, as residents continue to protest the fatal police shooting of an unarmed teenager three weeks earlier.

About 50 body cameras were donated by two security firms, Safety Vision and Digital Ally, last week, after talks with the Ferguson Police Department in response to differing stories coming out the of the shooting on Aug. 9 of Michael Brown Jr. by Ferguson officer Darren Wilson.

Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson said that officers are adjusting to working with body cameras, but that the overall response is positive now that nearly the entire department has been trained.

From Sky News, Cold War 2.0 arms up:

Nato Plans ‘Spearhead’ Force To Face Russia

  • The alliance unveils plans for a “high-readiness force” in eastern Europe amid more evidence of Russian aggression in Ukraine

Nato is set to create a “high-readiness” force and stockpile military equipment in Eastern Europe as a bulwark against potential Russian aggression, the alliance’s chief has said.

Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the proposed new force could be comprised of several thousand troops contributed to on a rotating basis by the 28 Nato countries.

Backed by air and naval assets, he said the unit would be a “spearhead” that could be deployed at very short notice to help Nato members defend themselves against any threat, including from Russia.

From the London Telegraph, waterboarding included?:

British jihadists to be forced to attend deradicalisation programmes, says Cameron

  • David Cameron announces moves to reverse Islamist brainwashing of British jihadists in new court order controls

British jihadists returning from Iraq and Syria will be forced to attend “deradicalisation” programmes to reverse their warped brainwashing, David Cameron announced.

Dangerous fanatics made subject to court controls will be ordered to engage in anti-extremism schemes as part of a raft of new measures to combat the risk of British Islamists returning to the UK.

The move comes amid growing concern over the threat posed by Britons who have joined the terror group Isil in Syria and Iraq.

More from International Business Times:

British Prime Minister David Cameron Proposes Seizing Passports Of Suspected ISIS Militants

British Prime Minister David Cameron Monday proposed expansion of police powers and a deradicalization program to head off terror plots hatched by returning militants. An estimated 500 Britons are suspected of fighting alongside Islamic State militants, the Guardian reported.

The Conservative Party’s Cameron proposed seizing the passports of suspected militants and forcing terror suspects into deradicalization programs to reverse their fanaticism. The Telegraph reported suspects also could be forced to move from their hometowns. In addition, airlines would be required to provide more information about passengers.

Addressing the House of Commons, Cameron called the idea of British citizens swearing allegiance to militant groups such as the Islamic State, formerly known as ISIS, “abhorrent.” He said he is looking for ways to keep them from returning to the U.K.

From RIA Novosti, a dissent:

Former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan Says UK Rogue State, Danger to World

The United Kingdom as a rogue state and a danger to the world, a former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray said.

“The British Government is deeply, deeply immoral. They don’t care how many people they kill abroad if it advances them. Anybody who votes No [to Scottish independence] is voting to support a pathological state which is a danger in the world, a rogue state and a state prepared to go to war to make a few people wealthy,” Murray said in a speech made ahead of an historic vote on Scottish independence to be held in just three weeks.

He told an open public meeting in St Andrews that the actions he witnesses as a senior diplomat had changed his “world view” and said it was now “impossible to be proud of the United Kingdom.”

From the Intercept, today’s allies, yesterday’s enemy:

How the NSA Helped Turkey Kill Kurdish Rebels

Documents from the archive of U.S. whistleblower Edward Snowden that Der Spiegel and The Intercept have seen show just how deeply involved America has become in Turkey’s fight against the Kurds. For a time, the NSA even delivered its Turkish partners with the mobile phone location data of PKK leaders on an hourly basis. The U.S. government also provided the Turks with information about PKK money flows, and the whereabouts of some of its leaders living in exile abroad.

At the same time, the Snowden documents also show that Turkey is one of the United States’ leading targets for spying. Documents show that the political leadership in Washington, D.C., has tasked the NSA with divining Turkey’s “leadership intention,” as well as monitoring its operations in 18 other key areas. This means that Germany’s foreign intelligence service, which drew criticism in recent weeks after it was revealed it had been spying on Turkey, isn’t the only secret service interested in keeping tabs on the government in Ankara.

Turkey’s strategic location at the junction of Europe, the Soviet Union, and the Middle East made the future NATO member state an important partner to Western intelligence agencies going back to the very beginning of the Cold War. The Snowden documents show that Turkey is the NSA’s oldest partner in Asia. Even before the NSA’s founding in 1952, the CIA had established a “Sigint,” or signals intelligence, partnership with Turkey dating back to the 1940s.

From the Associated Press, blowback:

Turkey summons US diplomat over spying report

The Turkish foreign ministry has summoned the most senior U.S. diplomat in the country for clarification of a report about American and British spying in Turkey.

Deputy Prime Minister Bulent said the U.S. charge d’affaires and Turkish officials had discussed the report Monday. German magazine Der Spiegel and the online magazine The Intercept said that documents provided by former U.S. National Security Agency analyst Edward Snowden show that Turkey was a high priority intelligence target for U.S. and British intelligence services.

According to Turkish news wires, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan downplayed the importance of the report, saying that all major countries spied on each other. An earlier report that Germany’s main intelligence agency had also targeted Ankara drew a more angry response from the Turkish government.

From TechWeekEurope, another front:

NATO Set To Ratify Cyber-Defence Declaration

  • NATO is set to add cyber-threats to its fundamental treaty – but reportedly has little idea about the computer arsenals of its member countries

NATO has confirmed that it plans to add cyber-attacks to the list of threats that would trigger a collective response when leaders of the organisation meet in Newport, Wales, later this week.

However, exactly what would constitute such an attack remains ambiguous, and NATO reportedly has little in the way of cyber-response capacity. The organisation, the headquarters of which is in Brussels, also lacks clear information on the cyber-weaponry of member states such as the US and the UK, which would be needed to form a detailed cyber-strategy, according to reports.

More from PCWorld , with a techie twist:

Europol launches international cybercrime task force

Europol launched a cybercrime task force Monday to fight online crime in the EU and other countries.

The Joint Cybercrime Action Taskforce (J-CAT) will be piloted for six months and hosted at Europol’s European CyberCrime Center (EC3), the organization said in a news release.

The J-CAT will coordinate international investigations to take action against key online threats and top targets, such as underground forums and malware, including banking Trojans, Botnets and online fraud, Europol said.

EC3, the EU Cybercrime Taskforce, the FBI and the U.K. National Crime Agency (NCA) are part of the initiative. Andy Archibald, deputy director of the National Cyber Crime Unit from the NCA will lead the task force.

From SecurityWeek, Tweet that!:

US Cyber-Warriors Battling Islamic State on Twitter

The United States has launched a social media offensive against the Islamic State and Al-Qaeda, setting out to win the war of ideas by ridiculing the militants with a mixture of blunt language and sarcasm.

Diplomats and experts are the first to admit that the digital blitz being waged on Twitter, Facebook and Youtube will never be a panacea to combat the jihadists.

But US officials see social media as an increasingly crucial battlefield as they aim to turn young minds in the Muslim world against groups like IS and Al-Qaeda.

From the London Daily Mail, searching for a cause:

Did iCloud’s ‘Find My iPhone’ function help hacker steal ‘nude’ photos of Jennifer Lawrence and 100 other celebrities? Flaw may have allowed 4chan hacker to break into their accounts

  • Nude photographs that purportedly show multiple celebrities leaked online
  • The photos were obtained through Apple’s iCloud and published on 4chan
  • When activated, iCloud automatically stores users’ photos and data online
  • Flaw in its ‘Find My iPhone’ function reportedly undermined its security
  • Twitter is apparently shutting down accounts disseminating the pictures
  • Lawrence’s spokesman confirmed the nude photographs were published
  • Kate Upton’s attorney called leaked pictures ‘an outrageous violation’
  • Actress Mary Elizabeth Winstead confirmed the photos of her are real
  • But not all ‘nude’ photographs that have been published are genuine
  • Hacker claims to have images of other stars, which have not been posted

From SecurityWeek, post-equine escape barn door repair:

Apple Patches Vulnerability Possibly Linked to Celebrity Picture Leaks

Apple has patched a flaw that may be linked to the leak of salacious celebrity photos on the Web.

The flaw existed in the ‘Find My iPhone’ service. In order to use it, hackers would need to know the username of the account they are targeting. The vulnerability allowed attackers to guess passwords repeatedly without being locked out and without notifying the account owner. If the password was successfully guessed, the attacker could then access the iCloud account.

A tool for brute forcing the accounts was posted on GitHub. News of the patch followed reports that nude photos of celebrities such as ‘Hunger Games’ actress Jennifer Lawrence and model Kate Upton had been leaked on the Internet, and Anonymous and 4chan users claimed to have taken images from roughly 100 different celebrity accounts.

“There have been claims that iCloud may be involved, but it’s tricky to confirm even if all of the celebrities affected use Apple devices,” blogged security researcher Graham Cluley. “Many folks are blissfully unaware about iPhone photos being automatically sent to an Apple iCloud internet server after it is taken. That’s great in some ways – it means it’s easily accessible on our other Apple devices – but might be bad in others.”

BBC News clouds the issue:

‘Cloud’ concerns after celebrity picture leaks

  • Jennifer Lawrence Jennifer Lawrence was one of the celebrities who had images leaked

Experts have raised concerns over the security of “cloud” storage sites following the leak of intimate pictures of celebrities.

It is understood some of the images were obtained from services such as Apple iCloud that back up content from devices on to the internet. Apple is understood to be looking into the issue.

One expert said that private data “becomes much more difficult to control” when using cloud services.

“It is important for celebrities and the general public to remember that images and data no longer just reside on the device that captured it,” said Ken Westin, security analyst at Tripwire.

“Although many cloud providers may encrypt the data communications between the device and the cloud, it does not mean that the image and data is encrypted when the data is at rest. If you can view the image in the cloud service, so can a hacker.”

PandoDaily gets scathing:

The celebrity photo leak is yet another example of Apple’s irresponsible approach to security

Apple might face the ire of several celebrities whose personal photographs were stolen and published over the weekend. In the latest example of the company’s irresponsible security practices, the images — at least those that haven’t been called forgeries by several celebrities and their spokespersons — are thought to have been taken from their subjects’ iCloud accounts.

Now, it’s clear that most of the blame should fall on the person who decided to violate the only shred of privacy that these celebrities had left, and on those who shared the images afterwards. This would never have been an issue if this person didn’t believe that personal photographs of people who happen to be famous should be stolen, skimmed through, and released to the Web.

But it seems that Apple will share in the blame, as the leak was followed by the revelation that before Sunday the company didn’t prevent brute force attacks, which gain access to accounts by submitting random passwords until the right one is found, from working on the iCloud website.

From TheLocal.se, Yar, matey:

Pirate Bay Swede’s trial set for final stage

The mother of Swedish Pirate Bay co-founder Gottfrid Svartholm Warg has told The Local about her son’s “suffering” in jail ahead of the final stages of his trial.

Swedish Pirate Bay co-founder Gottfrid Svartholm Warg and his 21-year-old Danish co-defendant are set to appear in Frederiksberg Court in Copenhagen in the latest development in the largest hacking case in Danish history.

The two men are accused of stealing social security numbers from Denmark’s national driving licence database, illegally accessing information in a Schengen Region database and hacking into police email accounts.

From Reuters, dronal executions:

Al Qaeda in Yemen executes three ‘spies’ for guiding drone strikes

Al Qaeda militants in Yemen executed three local men in the easterly Hadramout province on Monday whom they suspected of assisting U.S. drone strikes, security sources told Reuters.

In a statement posted online, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) acknowledged the threat it faced from air attacks by unmanned U.S. drones, which require on-the-ground intelligence to guide them in.

AQAP said it had captured a group of spies, adding: “The greatest help they give to the crusaders against the holy warriors is the placing of trackers for American spy planes.”

The Los Angeles Times covers more blowback:

Gunmen seize government ministries as Libya spirals further into chaos

Armed militiamen have seized control of most Libyan government ministries in the capital, Tripoli, the transitional government acknowledged early Monday, in the latest sign of a dramatic deterioration of Libya’s trappings of statehood.

Energy-rich Libya has slipped ever deeper into chaos since the toppling of longtime dictator Moammar Kadafi in 2011. The armed groups that were allies in the fight to depose him have turned on one another, fighting for oil wealth and political control.

The government and the elected parliament last month decamped to the eastern city of Tobruk, near the Egyptian border, and Islamist-linked militias from the western city of Misrata hold sway in the capital, having driven out rival armed groups. Libya now has two competing parliaments, with each declaring the other illegitimate.

And from UCLA, a sobering question:

In our digital world, are young people losing the ability to read emotions?

Children’s social skills may be declining as they have less time for face-to-face interaction due to their increased use of digital media, according to a UCLA psychology study.

UCLA scientists found that sixth-graders who went five days without even glancing at a smartphone, television or other digital screen did substantially better at reading human emotions than sixth-graders from the same school who continued to spend hours each day looking at their electronic devices.

“Many people are looking at the benefits of digital media in education, and not many are looking at the costs,” said Patricia Greenfield, a distinguished professor of psychology in the UCLA College and senior author of the study. “Decreased sensitivity to emotional cues — losing the ability to understand the emotions of other people — is one of the costs. The displacement of in-person social interaction by screen interaction seems to be reducing social skills.”

After the jump, off to Asia and political arfrest and the Game of Zones, including more tensions in Pakistan and an Anonymous attack, signs of a deal for Japanese boats for Aussie sailors, hints of Hong Kong turmoil, a drone exposition in China, an assimilation push driven by Beijing, an ideological crackdown on Chinese campuses, more evocation of the “Anti-Japanese War,” Indo/Japanese security deals, and the emerging Sino/Russian partnership. . . Continue reading

Chart of the day II: Italian wages continue fall


From Istat, the Italian Statistical Authority:

BLOG Italian wages

Two reports on the ongoing Pakistani crises


Two video reports on the political crises in Pakistani from ABC Australian via Journeyman Pictures.

First up, former prime minister returns home to face a criminal indictment:

Pakistan’s Ex-PM Nawaz Sharif’s Flight Home as a Political Martyr

Program notes:

Nawaz Sharif: Behind the reinvention of a political exile, from corruption to a new democratic plea in 2007.

In office, former President Nawaz Sharif was labeled a corrupt autocrat and dogged by allegations of misrule. Now, as he explains on the flight to Pakistan, he’s ready to risk all to champion democracy.

“He doesn’t believe in the rule of law”, complains Nawaz Sharif of President Musharraf. “He doesn’t have any respect for the constitution”. In exile, Sharif has re-invented himself as Pakistan’s saviour. “I have no personal ambition. My motive is only Pakistan democracy, rule of law”. On board the plane back to Pakistan, he admits; “I don’t know what will happen to me when I land in Islamabad”. But he claims he is prepared to sacrifice his own liberty to bring down Musharraf. “If he wants to send me to jail and – in return – my country gets liberated, that is not a big price”. However commentators like Zhaid Hussain have long memories of Sharif’s own administration. “He was more authoritarian than even the military government”.

And a second report focusing on of the key instigators of the current domestic unrest:

Imran Khan’s Journey from Cricketing Playboy to Politician

Program notes:

Imran Khan: The story of the Pakistani cricket legend’s new political test in 2006.

He shot to fame as a playboy cricketer but now, Imran Khan is a politician on a mission. He explains his frustration with the Musharraf government.

“There’s a fear America is about to destroy our way of life”, Khan states. “There is a radicalism going on in reaction to what is happening.” He blames Musharraf for being a “poodle of George Bush” and condemns levels of government corruption. But so far, Khan has struggled to transform the people’s adoration into votes.

EnviroWatch: Ebola, water, and nuclear woes


Long compendium today, so we open right up with this from the Associated Press:

Senegal monitors contacts of 1st Ebola patient

Senegalese authorities on Monday were monitoring everyone who was in contact with a student infected with Ebola who crossed into the country, and who has lost three family members to the disease.

An Ebola outbreak in West Africa has killed more than 1,500 people in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria. The university student is Senegal’s first case of the dreaded disease.

The 21-year-old left Guinea on Aug. 15, just days after his brother died of the disease, according to Guinea’s Health Ministry. It said that the brother apparently caught Ebola in Sierra Leone.

We thought we’d look at local papers for a better sense of what the epidemic feels like to journalists there. First this from Punch in Lagos, Nigeria:

Ebola: Three new suspected cases in Port Harcourt

Three people have been taken to the Ebola Virus Disease   quarantine centre at Oduoha, Emohua Local Government Area of Rivers State.

The State Commissioner for Health, Sampson Parker, made this known on Sunday just as the Federal Government said another emergency meeting of the National Council of Health over the EVD would hold in Abuja today. The last meeting took place on August 11, 2014.

Parker, who addressed journalists,   said those quarantined were   a doctor, a pharmacist and a woman who came into contact with Dr. Iyke Enemuo, who died of the virus in Port Harcourt on August 22.

A related story from Leadership, another Nigerian paper:

Rivers Doctor: 60 Ebola Contacts Yet To Be Found

The Rivers State government has said about 60 people, out of close to 200 that had primary and secondary contacts with the late Dr Ikechukwu Sam Enemuo, who died of Ebola virus disease (EVD) in Port Harcourt, the state capital, are yet to be found.

Also, the state government has placed a ban on the movement of corpses within and outside the state without death certificates and explanations on the cause of such deaths, and has directed the police to demand such documents from ambulances conveying such corpses in the state.

This is as the state governor, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, will today meet with leaders of churches in the state, while a meeting with the traditional rulers will hold tomorrow, Tuesday, over the spread of the Ebola virus in the state.

The Associated Press covers another side-effect:

9 African wrestlers barred from worlds championships

The governing body of wrestling says nine athletes cannot compete at the upcoming world championships because of travel restrictions imposed since the Ebola virus outbreak in west Africa.

FILA says the ruling by the Uzbekistan health ministry affects seven wrestlers from Nigeria and two from Sierra Leone.

The decision follows similar travel bans imposed by China and Russia ahead of the recent Youth Olympic Games and judo worlds.

From International Business Times, another border closes:

Saudi Arabia Stops Issuing Visas To Workers From Ebola-Stricken Nations

Saudi Arabia announced Monday it has temporarily stopped granting visas to workers from the countries most ravaged by the Ebola outbreak. The decision follows repeated incidents in the past month that raised fears the hemorrhagic fever could spread to the Middle Eastern nation.

Saudi Arabia’s labor ministry has temporarily stopped issuing visas to laborers from the West African nations of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, Agence France-Presse reported. The three nations have seen the highest death tolls in the current Ebola outbreak, which was first detected in Guinea in March.

The visa ban was described as a “preventative measure,” the official Saudi Press Agency reported. Saudi Arabia had already instituted a ban in April on Muslim pilgrims visiting from the three nations because of concern the disease could spread as thousands of people descend on Mecca for early October’s hajj.

From StarAfrica, a blackout imposed:

Sudan bans reporting on Ebola

The Sudanese authorities have prohibited local media from covering any news related to the Ebola virus.Press sources who asked not to be mentioned for security reasons confirmed to APA on Saturday that the security authorities have circulated warning to all media outlets not to publish any news or articles related to the transmission of the Ebola virus in Sudan.

The prohibition came after local media reported on some suspected cases of Ebola in the west of Sudan.

The Minister of Health Affairs for the Darfur Regional Authority, Firdos Abdel Rahman Yousif denied reports of the deadly Ebola virus disease in El Geneina, capital of West Darfur State.

From New Dawn in Monrovia, another lack:

Ebola Survivors Lack Clothes

Health authorities at the Eternal Love Wins Africa or (ELWA) Hospital have disclosed that Ebola survivors leaving the treatment center do not have clothes to wear. Medical Director Dr. Jerry Brown, said nurses usually dress survivors in veils as they leave the hospital compound due to lack of clothes. Dr. Brown made the disclosure when the Citizens Organized for Transparency and Accountability (COPTA) presented items valued over US$5,000 to the ELWA Isolation Unit 2.

He appealed to well-meaning Liberians and NGOs to assist the unit with clothes for survivors to wear when leaving the hospital. But a non-governmental organization, Smile Liberia International, has promised to provide clothes for survivals returning home. An executive of the group, Ms. Fasiah Harris, said Smile Liberia in collaboration with COPTA will continue to provide needed services for Liberians.

COPTA is a local partner to Smile Liberia International and some Liberians working with the UN peacekeeping mission in the DRC. The project coordinator Christine Brooks-Jarrett said COPTA is an organization working to ensure a better Liberia in which leaders can be held accountable to the people in the discharge of their services.

National Geographic offers a reminder:

Doctors and Nurses Risk Everything to Fight Ebola in West Africa

  • Foreign and local caregivers are essential to stopping the virus’s deadly spread

In two Land Rovers, one fitted out as an ambulance, a small team of humanitarian workers last week headed deep into Sierra Leone’s jungle. After hours on deeply rutted paths that could barely be called roads, they stopped at a village that had seen ten reported cases of Ebola.

With the consent of the village chief, the team fanned out across the community, asking at each hut if anyone was feeling ill or had made contact with the earlier patients. At one, they found a mother nursing a seven-month-old, even though she had experienced bouts of bloody diarrhea and a fever of 102°F—possible signs of Ebola. A quick conversation revealed that the mother had recently attended the same funeral as the ten patients.

The aid workers knew right away they had to get the woman away from her village. It would improve her chances of recovery, even though those chances hovered at only about 30 percent. And it would protect her baby and husband, and the entire community, because Ebola is easily passed through bodily fluids such as diarrhea, vomit, and blood.

BBC News updates:

British Ebola patient ‘pretty well’

The parents of the first British person to contract Ebola during the outbreak in West Africa say he is recovering well.

William Pooley, 29, has spent the last week in a special isolation unit at Royal Free Hospital in London.

His parents, Robin and Jackie, say they knew he was improving when he ordered a “bacon butty” and praised the “world class” care at the hospital.

More than 1,500 people have died since the outbreak started in Guinea.

From the Wall Street Journal, a clearance:

Stockholm Patient Does Not Have Ebola

But Test Results Awaited on Another Suspected Case in Spain

Tests results have shown that a man who was hospitalized in Sweden on Sunday as a suspected Ebola case isn’t carrying the potentially deadly virus, Stockholm County Council health officials said in a news release on Monday.

An unidentified young man sought treatment for high fever and stomach pains at a local health clinic in Stockholm on Sunday evening.

After medical staff learned that he had recently visited a West African country affected by the Ebola virus, he was transferred to medical isolation at Stockholm’s Karolinska University Hospital.

ABC News initiates:

Human Trial for Ebola Vaccine to Begin This Week

The first human trial for an investigational Ebola vaccine is set to begin this week.

The ongoing Ebola outbreak in West Africa prompted the National Institutes of Health to expedite safety testing for several vaccines already in the works. Since March, the deadly virus has killed 1,552 people, according to the World Health Organization, which predicted last week that the virus could infect 20,000 people in the next six months.

An Ebola vaccine is different from the experimental Ebola drug ZMapp, which two Americans received last month and is designed to treat an existing Ebola infection rather than prevent one.

“There is an urgent need for a protective Ebola vaccine, and it is important to establish that a vaccine is safe and spurs the immune system to react in a way necessary to protect against infection,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, said in a statement.

From StarAfrica, getting ready:

Malawi MPs to table Ebola preparedness

Members of the Malawi Parliament are expected to discuss and look at the country’s preparedness for containing the Ebola disease which is rampaging across West Africa.Parliament’s Health Committee Chairperson Juliana Lunguzi said on Monday in Lilongwe that the parliamentarians need to look at measures which government through the Ministry of Health have put in place to prepare for any eventuality.

“We need to know what has been put in place as a country in terms of preventive measures in entry points, border districts and capacity-building for caregivers” she declared.

She said that Malawi needs to be alert because the disease is gradually spreading across the borders of the region.

Reuters notes the obvious but often uncommented upon:

Poor response to Ebola causing needless deaths: World Bank head

The world’s “disastrously inadequate response” to West Africa’s Ebola outbreak means many people are dying needlessly, the head of the World Bank said on Monday, as Nigeria confirmed another case of the virus.

In a newspaper editorial, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said Western healthcare facilities would easily be able to contain the disease, and urged wealthy nations to share the knowledge and resources to help African countries tackle it.

“The crisis we are watching unfold derives less from the virus itself and more from deadly and misinformed biases that have led to a disastrously inadequate response to the outbreak,” Kim wrote in the Washington Post.

Off to another continue and the update on another outbreak via the Asahi Shimbun:

19 new cases of dengue fever reported

Health ministry officials on Sept. 1 confirmed 19 new cases of dengue fever, bringing the total to 22 in a country that had not seen domestic infections of the disease for about 70 years.

The disease was found in individuals living in Saitama, Tokyo, Chiba, Ibaraki, Kanagawa and Niigata prefectures. None of the patients has ever been abroad, but all had recently visited Yoyogi Park in Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward.

Officials said the outbreak was likely caused by mosquitoes carrying the virus in the vicinity of the park.

We begin today’s water woes with the South China Morning Post:

Toxic waste mountains threaten Southeast Asia’s booming megacities

From Jakarta’s Bantar Gebang dump to Manila’s “smoky mountain”, open landfills blight Southeast Asia’s booming megacities, as urban planners labour to keep pace with rapid urbanisation and industrial growth.

Experts warn those dumps are an environmental and health time bomb.

Open dumping “offers a quick and easy solution in the short run”, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and Pacific says in a study, warning of severe environmental problems and long-term health issues caused by contaminated water and land.

Of Thailand’s 2,500 open rubbish pits, just a fifth are properly managed, according to its Pollution Control Department. The rest are at the mercy of illegal dumping – including of hazardous waste – fires and seepage into nearby land and water systems.

TheLocal.de covers a warm water invader up north:

Vacationer killed by Baltic Sea bacteria

  • Six people were infected with a bacteria from the Caribbean which has made itself at home in the popular German vacation destination. One of them is now in a coma.

The bacterium, Vibrio vulnificus, is found in parts of the Baltic Sea and other regions of the world, though most-concentrated in the Gulf of Mexico. It spreads best in brackish waters with temperatures above 20 degrees Celsius.

“This could be found anywhere as long as the conditions are right,” Dr. Heiko Will, the first director of State Office of Health and Welfare (LAGuS) of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, told The Local. “It is just as prevalent in Denmark, Poland, and all along the German coast.”

The victim had been holidaying on the island of Usedom at the end of July, according (LAGuS). He passed away at the beginning of August.  Another pensioner has been in a coma for three weeks and there is a possibility he will lose a leg. He went swimming near Ahrenshoop with a small open wound on his leg. He went to the hospital after noticing on the drive home that his leg had turned blue. Doctors diagnosed blood poisoning caused by Vibrio vulnificus.

From Al Jazeera America, another invader off the Golden State:

On Calif. coast, biotoxins cause deadly sea lion seizures, seafood scare

  • An outbreak of algae-produced biotoxins that attack animals’?? brains also poses a grave risk to humans

The culprit? Domoic acid, a deadly neurotoxin produced by algae, that appeared at record high levels along California’s Central Coast this spring and summer, closing fisheries and taking the lives of many marine mammals. But toxic algae isn’t just limited to California– this summer various toxic blooms have poisoned coastlines across America, including Lake Erie and the Gulf of Mexico.

While the algae in Monterey, produced by the Pseudo-nitzschia genus of phytoplankton, are a common occurrence along the Atlantic and Pacific coastlines and around the world, its production of domoic acid is not.

First discovered in 1987 when 107 people on Prince Edward Island fell ill after eating mussels harboring domoic acid, the algae occasionally produce this deadly toxin, which scientists believe is triggered by changing ocean conditions and surges of nitrogen into bodies of water.

Another California water woe from the University of California Newsroom:

Drying Sierra meadows could worsen California drought

Carpeting the high valleys of Yosemite and other parts of the Sierra Nevada, mountain meadows are more than an iconic part of the California landscape. The roughly 17,000 high altitude meadows help regulate the release of Sierra snow melt into rivers and streams.

But climate change and California’s severe drought threaten to permanently alter these fragile and important ecosystems, according to research by Chelsea Arnold, who was awarded a doctorate in environmental systems from UC Merced in May. Her findings reveal that soil changes already are taking place that could have long-term implications for California’s water supply.
Impact of extreme weather

Arnold’s research found that meadows in the Central Sierra near Yosemite are drying out as a result of several years of unusual variation in climate and snowfall.

“What we’re seeing is that all kinds of extreme weather, including one dry winter like the one we just had, can totally change the structure of the soil,” Arnold said. “Part of that is an irreversible change.”

Under normal conditions, a mountain meadow acts like a sponge. Organic material in the soil allows the meadow to hold water, which is filtered and slowly released to mountain streams. Samples collected by Arnold and her colleagues found that the larger pores which trap and hold moisture are disappearing, to be replaced with smaller, more compact pores through which water doesn’t easily flow.

As meadows dry out, flooding in wet years is likely to increase. And in drought years, parched meadows could result in less snowmelt reaching streams, exacerbating the state’s already precarious water situation.

And another from the New York Times:

Desperately Dry California Tries to Curb Private Drilling for Water

California’s vicious, prolonged drought, which has radically curtailed most natural surface water supplies, is making farmers look deeper and deeper underground to slake their thirst. This means the drought is a short-term bonanza for firms like Arthur & Orum, which expects to gross as much as $3 million this year.

But in a drought as long and severe as the current one, over-reliance on groundwater means that land sinks, old wells go dry, and saltwater invades coastal aquifers. Aquifers are natural savings accounts, a place to go when the streams run dry. Exhaust them, and the $45 billion annual agricultural economy will take a severe hit, while small towns run dry.

Yet for a century, farmers believed that the law put control of groundwater in the hands of landowners, who could drill as many wells as deeply as they wanted, and court challenges were few.

That just changed. The California Legislature, in its closing hours on Friday, passed new and sweeping groundwater controls. The measures do not eliminate private ownership, but they do establish a framework for managing withdrawals through local agencies.

After jump, water woes in Mexico, ice caps on both poles in epic retreat, a decade-long drought looms in the American Southwest, Mediterranean tsunami dangers, Japanese dolphin slaughter, branding environmentalists as terrorists, volcanic eruptions in both hemisphere, a species extinction commemorated, and the latest chapter of Fukushimapocalypse Now! Continue reading

Ebola: Music for a ravaged continent


People will sing about anything. Really. So it should come as no surprise that the Ebola virus has drawn the attention of African songsmiths.

We discovered two such creations whilst wandering through the ojuter reachers of the WW and decided to share them with you.

First up, a performance of his own Ebola song by an unnamed African street musician, via vlogger Neeraj Lalwani:

Ebola Song

Next for the artist De Cloud, with his own graphic additions:

De Cloud — Ebola Song

Next, via vlogger Darlington Tweh:

EBOLA SONG BY D12 2014

And finally, via Libdiamond, a song from noted Liberian musician:

Black Diamond – Ebola

Program note:

The track Ebola is an awareness track by Liberia’s international reggae artist Black Diamond. Produced by Theo Allen

Chart of the day: Union approval rates falling


A sad commentary, via Gallup:

BLOG Labor

Mr. Fish: Happy Fucking Labor Day


From his blog, Clowncrack, a font of fatiferous fecundity:

BLOG Fish