Category Archives: Class

Chart of the day: Global inequality concerns


From a new report [PDF] from the Pew Research Center:

BLOG Inequality

Male incomes in U.S. flat for a half-century


From a new report from the Census Bureau, Income and Poverty in the United States: 2013 [PDF], stunning evidence that for the average American male, there has been no real gain in income for nearly the last half-century, though women have made relative gains:

Income and Poverty in the United States: 2013

Compare those gains with the ravenous enrichment of the elite, as indicated in this graphic from a seminal report [PDF] by UC Berkeley’s Emanuel Saez:

saez-UStopincomes-2012

Protests: They’re not just for Hong Kong


While the world’s media have been focused on the Occupy Central protests in Hong Kong, they’re not the only demonstrations happening around the world today, first as witnessed in two clips from RT.

First up, protests in Rome again the European Central Bank, a financial engine of the austerity machine now gobbling up the last of the commons across South Europe:

Police clash with anti-ECB protesters in Italy

Program notes:

Thousands of protesters marched against austerity policies as the European Central Bank held a meeting at the Palace of Capodimonte in Naples, Thursday. Police deployed tear gas and water cannon against a group of protesters who attempted to climb the wall and enter the palace complex.

Next, from Argentina, a protest by indigenous people long troubled by land grabs and illegal forest-clearing mobilized to action by a death:

RAW: Cops clash with indigenous Mapuche in Chile

Program notes:

Chilean national police officers clashed with protesters from the indigenous Mapuche community, who gathered outside of the presidential palace in the capital, Santiago, on Wednesday. Mapuche demonstrated to bring attention to the death of a fellow Mapuche who was reportedly run over by a tractor trailer after entering a private plot of land in the Araucania region.

And in Paraguay, thousands of teachers and students have hit the streets to protest cuts in the national education budget.

From TeleSUR English:

Paraguay: Teachers protest budget cuts in public education

Program notes:

Teachers from all over Paraguay took to the streets in the capital city of Asuncion, in defense of public education in the country.

Finally, from Iran’s Press TV, a look at seniors in Paris who have hit the streets to protest cuts in social security benefits by the austerian “socialist” [sic] government of François Hollande:

Protesters in France held a rally against the economic policies of government

Program notes:

Protesters in France have held a rally against the economic policies of the government. The protest came after Paris cut social security payments for nearly half a million citizens. Ramin Mazaheri reports.

EbolaWatch: Fears in Texas, latest from Africa


For Americans, the major Ebola news — and hopefully a story that will kindle their compassion for the plight of West Africa — is the arrival of the disease in the form of a walk-pin patient from Liberia and turned away from a Dallas hospital.

But before we get to the story of the day, two other headlines, first from RT:

Ebola worse than HIV, SARS – UN official

The man leading the UN response to the Ebola epidemic, Dr. David Nabaro, says Ebola poses a worse threat to humanity than HIV or SARS and the global effort to combat it is woefully inefficient and that he needs $30 million now.

Nabaro was speaking after various presentations on how to combat the disease, including at the UN Security Council and General Assembly, before he returns to Europe and West Africa, reports the Sydney Morning Herald.

Ebola has so-far been centered on the West African countries of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, and has infected 6,553 people and killed 3,083. So far the outbreak looks like it’s been arrested in neighboring Senegal and Nigeria, but the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) believes that if it is not contained Ebola may infect 1.4 million by January.

And second, via Reuters:

World Bank chief says Ebola outbreak shows harm of inequality

Fighting the Ebola epidemic means confronting the issue of inequality, as people in poor countries have less access to knowledge and infrastructure for treating the sick and containing the deadly virus, the head of the World Bank said.

Three poor countries in West Africa – Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone – have seen their health systems overwhelmed by the worst outbreak of the disease on record. The epidemic has killed at least 3,000 people in the region.

“Now, thousands of people in these (three) countries are dying because, in the lottery of birth, they were born in the wrong place,” World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said in prepared remarks at Howard University in Washington.

“This … shows the deadly cost of unequal access to basic services and the consequences of our failure to fix this problem.”

Now to Texas, first with KDFW Fox 4 in Dallas:

Dallas patient in serious condition with Ebola

A Dallas hospital patient has tested positive for Ebola, the first case ever diagnosed in the United States.

The patient, currently in serious condition, is at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital. Officials at the hospital admitted on Wednesday the patient told a nurse on his initial visit he had been in West Africa, but due to a communication breakdown he was sent home. He returned to the hospital two days later in an ambulance.

CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D. said that the patient did not show any symptoms when leaving Liberia on Sept. 19 or entering the U.S. on Sept. 20.

United Airlines said Wednesday it believes the patient spent part of his flights out of Africa to the U.S. on United flights. United believes he was on a Brussels to Washington Dulles Flight 951 and Dulles to Dallas-Fort Worth Flight 822 on Sept. 20. Officials said there is no risk to anyone on those flights.

The patient, identified by relatives as Thomas Eric Duncan, was staying at the Ivy Apartments on Fair Oaks Avenue in Dallas. The complex is just southeast of the hospital where he’s being treated.

More from the Guardian:

Man diagnosed with Ebola virus in US was sent home for two days

  • Dallas hospital says patient’s symptoms were not definitive when he was first seen, as officials urge people not to panic

The first patient to be diagnosed with Ebola outside Africa during the latest outbreak was sent home with a course of antibiotics for two days after seeking medical care at a Dallas hospital last week, a hospital official said.

The patient, believed to be male, was admitted to an isolation unit at Texas Health Presbyterian hospital on Sunday, after coming to the same hospital two days before.

Edward Goodman, the infectious disease specialist at Texas Health Presbyterian hospital, told National Public Radio that the patient’s symptoms were not definitive when he was first seen. Goodman said: “He was evaluated for his illness, which was very nondescript. He had some laboratory tests, which were not very impressive, and he was dismissed with some antibiotics.”

Medical officials in the US announced on Tuesday that tests confirmed the man, who had travelled from Liberia, had Ebola.

Still more from CNBC:

US Ebola patient said he was from Liberia: Sister

The sister of the first Ebola patient diagnosed in the United States says he told relatives he notified officials the first time he went to the hospital that he was visiting from Liberia.

The individual claiming to be the patient’s sister said he went to a Dallas emergency room on Friday and they sent him home with antibiotics. She says he said hospital officials asked for his Social Security number and he said that he didn’t have one because he was visiting from Liberia.

The patient arrived in the U.S. on Sept. 20 to be with relatives in Dallas. He began to develop symptoms last Wednesday and sought care two days later. He was released and returned to the hospital and was admitted Sunday.

A video report from RT America:

Dallas hospital sent Ebola patient home despite exhibiting symptoms

Program notes:

Doctors confirmed on Tuesday the first case of Ebola inside the US. Thomas Eric Duncan is in serious but stable condition after being admitted to Texas Health Presbyterian hospital in Dallas. He first exhibited symptoms of the virus on September 26 and went to the same hospital where he is now being treated, but was sent home without being tested despite his recent arrival from Liberia. RT’s Manila Chan has more details on the response to the diagnosis and the seeming lapse in protocol.

Reuters poses necessary questions:

Experts question two-day delay in admitting Texas Ebola patient

For months, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been warning American hospitals that Ebola was just a plane ride away. The CDC has urged hospital emergency department staff to ask patients whether they have recently traveled to Liberia, Sierra Leone or Guinea, the three countries hardest hit by the worst Ebola outbreak on record.

At least 3,091 people have died from Ebola since the West African outbreak was first reported in a remote forest region of Guinea in March.

It was only on that second visit on Sunday, however, that the hospital learned that the patient had recently arrived in the United States from Liberia and admitted him to an isolation unit.

Dr. Goodman said the hospital is reviewing what they might have missed on the patient’s initial visit. “Our staff is thoroughly trained on infectious disease protocols. We have been meeting literally for weeks in anticipation of such an event,” he said.

While the New York Times looks at practical epidemiology:

After Ebola Case in Dallas, Health Officials Seek Those Who Had Contact With Patient

Although the man flew into the country about 10 days ago on a commercial airliner, officials said that he had shown no symptoms of the disease while on the flight and that he had posed no threat to other passengers.

Officials are focused on finding people who came into contact with the man after he began showing symptoms, on Sept. 24. As a patient becomes sicker and the virus replicates in the body, the likelihood of the disease spreading grows.

Dallas County officials said Wednesday they believed the man had come into contact with 12 to 18 people when he was experiencing symptoms. So far, none has been confirmed infected.

More from BBC News:

Ebola crisis: Texas children ‘monitored for symptoms’

Schoolchildren have come into contact with the first patient to be diagnosed with Ebola on US soil, the governor of Texas has said.

At a news conference at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, Rick Perry said the children were being monitored “at home” for symptoms.

The patient is thought to have contracted the virus in Liberia before coming to the US nearly two weeks ago. He is in a serious condition, a spokeswoman for the hospital said.

“Today we learned that some school-age children had been identified as having had contact with the patient and are now being monitored at home for any signs of the disease,” Mr Perry said.

And the New York Times tracks down the exposure route:

U.S. Patient Aided Pregnant Liberian, Then Took Ill

  • Liberian Officials Identify Ebola Victim in Texas as Thomas Eric Duncan

A man who flew to Dallas and was later found to have the Ebola virus was identified by senior Liberian government officials on Wednesday as Thomas Eric Duncan, a resident of Monrovia in his mid-40s.

Mr. Duncan, the first person to develop symptoms outside Africa during the current epidemic, had direct contact with a woman stricken by Ebola on Sept. 15, just four days before he left Liberia for the United States, the woman’s parents and Mr. Duncan’s neighbors said.

In a pattern often seen here in Monrovia, the Liberian capital, the family of the woman, Marthalene Williams, 19, took her by taxi to a hospital with Mr. Duncan’s help on Sept. 15 after failing to get an ambulance, said her parents, Emmanuel and Amie Williams. She was convulsing and seven months pregnant, they said.

From International Business Times, contagion?:

Possible Second US Ebola Patient Being Monitored In Dallas

Health officials in Dallas are monitoring a possible second Ebola patient who had close contact with the first person in the U.S. diagnosed with the deadly virus, the director of Dallas County’s health department said Wednesday. Everyone who had close contact with the man officially diagnosed is being monitored as a precaution, Zachary Thompson told WFAA-TV Dallas-Fort Worth.

“Let me be real frank to the Dallas County residents: The fact that we have one confirmed case, there may be another case that is a close associate with this particular patient,” he said. “So this is real. There should be a concern, but it’s contained to the specific family members and close friends at this moment.”

International Business Times again, with another impact:

Ebola In The US: Liberian-Americans On Edge After First Virus Diagnosis In America

The Liberian-American community is on edge following the diagnosis of the first case of the Ebola virus in the U.S., both out of fear of discrimination and concerns that it will be more difficult to visit family back home in West Africa. A man in Texas was confirmed as the first U.S. Ebola case Tuesday and there’s a possibility that he also may have infected more than a dozen other people.

“We were shocked when we first heard about the case,” said Nathaniel Kerkulah, chairman of the Oregon Association for Liberia, a nonprofit in Portland composed of Liberian immigrants. “This is something that our community has been on the watchout for. We as a community have to watch out for friends who are moving back and forth.”

He said a Liberian-American woman who had been in the United States for 10 years recently brought her sick American-born child to a hospital and was greeted with panic. “Everybody kind of separated themselves from her, running away from her,” Kerkulah said. “When you say, ‘I’m from Liberia,’ people have that fear.”

From Voice of America, high-flying anxiety:

Concerned, US Airlines Contact Government About Ebola

U.S. airlines and their trade group Airlines for America are in close contact with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on actions the U.S. government is taking to address Ebola health concerns, according to a spokesperson for JetBlue.

The statement comes a day after the first case of the deadly virus was diagnosed in Dallas, Texas, prompting concerns that others may have been exposed to Ebola before the victim sought hospital treatment. According to U.S. health officials, the man sought treatment six days after arriving in Texas on Sept. 20.

The first patient diagnosed in the U.S. with an Ebola infection traveled from Liberia to Texas via Brussels, Canadian chief public health officer Greg Taylor said on Wednesday.

USA Today reassures:

Health officials see low risk of Ebola on flights

Health officials say the risk of spreading Ebola through airline travel is low, even though a man who traveled from Liberia to the United States was diagnosed with the disease, because travelers from affected countries are screened before boarding and the often fatal disease is not transmitted when an infected person has no symptoms.

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa, which has infected 6,500 people and killed 3,000, has prompted screening of travelers for fever at airports across Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, and in Lagos, Nigeria.

The patient diagnosed Tuesday in Dallas had flown Sept. 19 from Liberia and arrived in the USA on Sept. 20. He had passed the fever screening and developed symptoms only on Sept. 24. He sought treatment Sept. 26.

As does the Los Angeles Times:

Could an Africa-sized Ebola outbreak happen in U.S.? Officials say no

More than 3,000 people are believed to have died in West Africa during the worst outbreak ever of Ebola. But public health officials are confident that the United States will not confront a similar crisis and point to the nation’s modern medical and public health system, past experience and the nature of the disease for their optimism.

“I have no doubt that we’ll stop this in its tracks in the U.S.,” Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said at a news conference Tuesday, announcing the first diagnosed case of Ebola in the United States. “The bottom line here is that I have no doubt that we will control this importation, or this case, of Ebola so that it does not spread widely in this country.”

Frieden’s words were designed to reassure a public whose movie, television and reading fare for generations has included a killer disease – usually coming out of Africa – that spreads seemingly without end until heroic doctors fight a difficult battle that is narrowly won at the end, saving humanity.

And from the CDC, preparations in hand:

CDC and Texas Health Department Confirm First Ebola Case Diagnosed in the U.S.

  • Hospitalized patient had recently returned from West Africa; active contact tracing underway

CDC recognizes that even a single case of Ebola diagnosed in the United States raises concerns. Knowing the possibility exists, medical and public health professionals across the country have been preparing to respond. CDC and public health officials in Texas are taking precautions to identify people who have had close personal contact with the ill person, and health care professionals have been reminded to use meticulous infection control at all times.

We do know how to stop Ebola’s further spread: thorough case finding, isolation of ill people, contacting people exposed to the ill person, and further isolation of contacts if they develop symptoms. The U.S. public health and medical systems have had prior experience with sporadic cases of diseases such as Ebola. In the past decade, the United States had 5 imported cases of viral hemorrhagic fever (VHF) diseases similar to Ebola (1 Marburg, 4 Lassa). None resulted in any transmission in the United States.

CDC has been anticipating and preparing for a case of Ebola in the United States. We have been:

  • Enhancing surveillance and laboratory testing capacity in states to detect cases
  • Developing guidance and tools for health departments to conduct public health investigations
  • Providing recommendations for  healthcare infection control and other measures to prevent disease spread
  • Providing guidance for flight crews, Emergency Medical Services units at airports, and Customs and Border Protection officers about reporting ill travelers to CDC
  • Disseminating up-to-date information to the general public, international travelers, and public health partners

From CNBC, inquiring minds want to know:

What preppers are doing about Ebola

“I think that a lot of people who are involved in the preparedness community already have the supplies to handle a wide variety of crises,” said Daisy Luther, who runs The Organic Prepper blog.

“Many of us do keep pandemic supplies on hand: things like nitrile gloves, N95 and N100 masks and sanitation supplies. Others who have been aware of the need but who have not yet made the purchases will very likely be on Amazon, ordering the necessary supplies, just in case this does turn into a pandemic.”

People with closer ties to the survivalist retail world, though say they do expect to see some kind of sales bump. (Early figures from Amazon bear this out; as of Wednesday sales of a type of full-body protective suits were up 131,000 percent and sales for one type of mask had risen 18,000 percent in 24 hours. Amazon does not give actual sales figures.)

And from Taiwan, an unusual declaration via the China Post:

US Ebola report does not warrant travel alert: gov’t

There is no need to issue a health advisory against travel to the United States in the wake of the country’s first reported case of Ebola, Taiwan’s Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said Wednesday.

The public does not need to overreact as the U.S. has a well-established public health and medical care system, said CDC Deputy Director Chou Jih-haw.

Although Taiwan is not planning to issue a travel alert for the U.S., the CDC has been watching the international outbreak closely and is carrying out clinical drills nationwide, he said.

While CBC News mulls north-of-the-border anxieties:

Ebola risk low, but some infections expected, says B.C. medical officer

  • System in place to screen people arriving with symptoms from Africa

B.C.’s provincial health officer says it would not be surprising to see cases of the Ebola virus appear, but that there is no reason for alarm.

“We likely think over the next six months [we’ll] probably import a case or two, or maybe even three,” Dr. Perry Kendall told CBC News.

“But the chances of them — once they’re in hospital and isolated — infecting anybody else is slim.” The province is prepared to deal with such cases, should they arise, he said.

And the London Daily Mail highlights fear in Old Blighty:

Did US Ebola victim change flights at Heathrow? Patient flew from Liberia to Brussels but route to Dallas could have taken him through London

  • It is feared that as many as 12 Americans may have become infected through contact with the patient
  • A second male patient, who came in close contact with several children, is being watched today as his condition was upgraded to serious
  • First male patient who traveled to Dallas, Texas from Liberia is quarantined at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital
  • He is first person diagnosed with Ebola in U.S. as CDC ‘disease detectives’ arrived in Texas today to track down anyone he came in contact with
  • Patient arrived in U.S. on September 20 – after flying from Liberia via Brussels in Belgium – but did not develop symptoms until September 24
  • He attended Texas Health Presbyterian on September 26 – but was dismissed with antibiotics
  • He was rushed to hospital vomiting two days later by EMTs

Now on to the continent where the real tragedy is unfolding, first with Punch Nigeria:

Experts develop harmonised message on Ebola

Regional and international communication experts have developed a harmonised message to address the information gap in national and regional responses to the Ebola Virus Disease which has claimed more than 3,000 lives from the more than 6,000 cases reported in the West African region.

A statement by the Economic Community of West African States Commission on Wednesday in Abuja, stated that in addition to the strategic and key behaviour change messages designed to sensitise and elicit appropriate actions from targeted audiences in the Ebola affected and non-affected countries, the experts also identified appropriate channels for the transmission of the messages.

It said that the message, the outcome of a workshop in Accra held between September 29 and 30,2014, was crafted in simple, direct and action-oriented language to elicit maximum impact and responses from the target audiences for the effective prevention, containment, management and control of the deadly Ebola disease.

The statement identified the target audiences for the messages to include the public, communities, traditional and religious leaders, infected persons, their families, survivors, health workers, and border communities.

Others are educational institutions, armed and security forces, the private sector, hunters and bush meat sellers, traditional healers and birth attendants, nursing mothers, mortuary attendants and the media.

From the Thomson Reuters Foundation, collateral damage in West Africa:

W. Africa Ebola crisis hits tourism, compounds hunger in Gambia

Pestilence, cyclical droughts and floods, and the West Africa Ebola crisis have pushed hunger to record levels in Gambia, where 200,000 people need urgent food assistance, the United Nations says.

Tourism is a significant source of income for the country, and even though Gambia has not seen cases of Ebola, the outbreak in the region has caused visitor numbers to plummet by 60 percent compared to last year, said Ade Mamonyane Lekoetje, the U.N. representative for Gambia.

“In 2011-12 we had the floods and droughts, then in 2013 we had the birds eating all the crops, and now we have Ebola threatening the tourist industry, a lifeline to farmers who need to top up their household income,” Lekoetje told the Thomson Reuters Foundation at a donor gathering in Dakar.

“The government is keen to emphasise Gambia is Ebola-free,” she added, noting that the true impact of the outbreak will not be known until after the tourist high season from October to April.

After the jump, the body count in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, American boots on the ground in Liberia and a major general’s vow, Ebola hits Liberia’s army, a government near-shutdown, a pay increase and death benefit promised for public health staff, buoying hope and help in a hard-hit community, malaria and other deaths rise because of overtaxed healthcare workers — and a legislator’s daughter dies, schools remain closed, UN extends its mission to Liberia, Ebola crisis aid eases Monrovia’s deficit, then off to Sierra Leone and a hospital from hell as Ebola continues to rage, with cultural outrage over burial practices, more British financial help, and educational takes to the airwaves, then to Nigeria and an epidemic vanquished [though there’s some editorial umbrage], plus a win on the media front, a call for blood, rules for reporting, and why America’s first Ebola case sparked major rallies for two stocks. . . Continue reading

Profiteering banksters and European separatism


From the Real News Network, a Mike McGuire interview Benedictine nun and theologist Sister Teresa Forcades, a physician with a doctorate in public health who is a prominent activist in the movement to detach Catalonia from Spain.

The focus is on the role banksters and the austerian neoliberal Eurocrats who have enabled their rampage of looting in Southern Europe.

From The Real News Network:

Spanish Independence Movements and the Recolonization of Southern Europe

From the transcript:

MCGUIRE: And it’s not just in Catalonia. It’s all over Spain. The context where this exchange of money is happening is also one of devastatingly high unemployment, especially among youth, correct?

FORCADES: Right. I can give you the numbers. It’s–like, general unemployment rate is greater than 25 percent–that’s one-fourth, one of every four people. But among young people it’s 50 percent, so one out of every two. And this is also in the context, as I said, of a situation that makes this social precariousness, right, go worse because of the political decisions that are being made. Yes, that’s right.

And also I wanted to add something, which is, when we speak of this crisis, right, we have to remember that in Spain the total debt at the beginning of the crisis, 2007, was–public debt was only 19 percent. That’s less than the U.S. debt, much less than that, and, actually, one of the lowest in the whole Europe. So this idea that Spain had not done the things right and that’s why the state itself had such a big debt, that’s not true. It had a 19 percent debt. The 81 percent was private debt, and that is, of course, not only banks–also private families, small businesses.. But that’s a very minor part of the private debt. So the greatest, more than 90 percent of the private debt, which is 81 percent of the total debt, that was big institutions, big corporations, and particularly banking institutions.

So the decision was made: like in the States, also here the banks were rescued, at a greater cost, or really great cost. So in Spain, the same thing, right? We cannot let these big institutions fall, because everybody would fall after them. So now we’re going to do this operation of giving money to them. We don’t have the money; we have to lend the money from the European bank. And then [in comes (?)] this mechanism that I explained. So that is what has happened, and many people, as I said, think this should be reversed.

And so we, in our movement, but also many other movements, are calling for something similar to what has happened in Ecuador with President Correa, which is they also were under the debt that actually precluded the evolution or the growth of the country, because such a great percentage of their total gain were needed to pay the interests of the debt, right? That’s a perverse mechanism. Actually, I think in truth we can call that a slavery mechanism. And that is what we now have agreed to, right, as a country.

Chart of the day II: Can you spot the pattern?


We suspect so.

From Bard College economist Pavlina R. Tcherneva, who posts on Twitter that “The WAY we grow in the US brings more . Distribution of income during expansions (trough-to-peak)”:

BLOG Econ

HB/T to Sociological Images.

Chris Hedges: Only civil disobedience offers hope


Massive civil disobedience and acts of personal sacrifice are essential if we are to prevent a global collapse of the environment and, with it, the human institutions upon which those who come after us will depend for their very survival.

That’s the bottom line for veteran journalist and civilly disobedient activist Chris Hedges, who left the New York Times after he was reprimanded for protesting the invasion of Iraq.

In a wide-ranging conversation with Abby Martin on Breaking the Set Hedges offers some very trenchant criticism of the efficacy of protests like this weekend’s massive and civilly obedient march in New York, contrasting it with a smaller and much more vocal and civilly disobedient protest on Wall Street in which he participated.

And his insights into the current warfare underway in the Mideast are especially relevant.

There’s much food for thought, and we agree with most of what he has to say.

From Breaking the Set:

Chris Hedges on Willful Blindness, Climate Corporatism & the Underground Revolt

Program notes:

Abby Martin speaks with journalist and author, Chris Hedges, going over where the recent mass climate change demonstrations in New York fall short, as well as why he believes revolt is the only solution to restoring a functioning American democracy.