Category Archives: Community

Quote of the day: Need help? Ask the poor


Or such our late and wonderful Grandma Brenneman used to say.

And there’s proof of that, thanks to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, which notes that at precisely the moment when the rich have cornered a larger share of the nation’s wealth, their giving to charities has declined relative to those who have been looted by their greed:

As the recession lifted, poor and middle class Americans dug deeper into their wallets to give to charity, even though they were earning less. At the same time, according to a new Chronicle analysis of tax data, wealthy Americans earned more, but the portion of the income they gave to charity declined.

Using the IRS data, The Chronicle was able to track gifts to charity at the state, county, metropolitan-area, and ZIP code levels. The data were for gifts to charity among taxpayers who itemize deductions on their tax forms. It captured $180-billion that was given to charity in 2012, or about 80 percent of the total amount given to charity as tabulated by “Giving USA.”

The Chronicle study found that Americans give, on average, about 3 percent of their income to charity, a figure that has not budged significantly for decades. However, that figure belies big differences in giving patterns between the rich and the poor.

The wealthiest Americans—those who earned $200,000 or more—reduced the share of income they gave to charity by 4.6 percent from 2006 to 2012. Meanwhile, Americans who earned less than $100,000 chipped in 4.5 percent more of their income during the same time period. Middle- and lower-income Americans increased the share of income they donated to charity, even as they earned less, on average, than they did six years earlier.

And if you dought the rapid growth of the wealth share held by elites, consider this from the Economic Policy Institute:

BLOG Wealth shares

EbolaWatch: Alarms, American angst, Africa


We begin with another illness, and just as scary via Reuters:

Outbreak of Ebola-like Marburg fever kills man in Uganda

A man has died in Uganda’s capital after an outbreak of Marburg, a highly infectious hemorrhagic fever similar to Ebola, authorities said on Sunday, adding that a total of 80 people who came into contact with him were quarantined.

Marburg starts with a severe headache followed by haemorrhaging and leads to death in 80 percent or more of cases in about nine days. It is from the same family of viruses as Ebola, which has killed thousands in West Africa in recent months.

There is no vaccine or specific treatment for the Marburg virus, which is transmitted through bodily fluids such as saliva and blood or by handling infected wild animals such as monkeys.

The health ministry said in a statement that the 30-year old radiographer died on Sept. 28 while working at a hospital in Kampala. He had started feeling unwell about 10 days earlier, and his condition kept deteriorating. He complained of headache, abdominal pain, vomiting blood and diarrhoea.

From the Observer, alarming words:

‘In 1976 I discovered Ebola, now I fear an unimaginable tragedy’

  • Peter Piot was a researcher at a lab in Antwerp when a pilot brought him a blood sample from a Belgian nun who had fallen mysteriously ill in Zaire

Why did WHO react so late?

On the one hand, it was because their African regional office isn’t staffed with the most capable people but with political appointees. And the headquarters in Geneva suffered large budget cuts that had been agreed to by member states. The department for haemorrhagic fever and the one responsible for the management of epidemic emergencies were hit hard. But since August WHO has regained a leadership role.

There is actually a well-established procedure for curtailing Ebola outbreaks: isolating those infected and closely monitoring those who had contact with them. How could a catastrophe such as the one we are now seeing even happen?

I think it is what people call a perfect storm: when every individual circumstance is a bit worse than normal and they then combine to create a disaster. And with this epidemic there were many factors that were disadvantageous from the very beginning. Some of the countries involved were just emerging from terrible civil wars, many of their doctors had fled and their healthcare systems had collapsed. In all of Liberia, for example, there were only 51 doctors in 2010, and many of them have since died of Ebola.

China Daily sounds another alarm:

Ebola could reach France and UK by end-Oct

Scientists have used Ebola disease spread patterns and airline traffic data to predict a 75 percent chance the virus could be imported to France by October 24, and a 50 percent chance it could hit Britain by that date.

Those numbers are based on air traffic remaining at full capacity. Assuming an 80 percent reduction in travel to reflect that many airlines are halting flights to affected regions, France’s risk is still 25 percent, and Britain’s is 15 percent.

“It’s really a lottery,” said Derek Gatherer of Britain’s Lancaster University, an expert in viruses who has been tracking the epidemic – the worst Ebola outbreak in history.

From the Los Angeles Times, expectation:

U.S. official ‘would not be surprised’ if new Ebola case emerges in Texas

The federal government’s top infectious disease expert said Sunday he wouldn’t be surprised if one of the people who had close contact with the Ebola patient in Dallas contracts the deadly virus.

But the official, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci of the National Institutes of Health, along with Dr. Tom Frieden, head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, appeared on four Sunday TV talk shows to stress that U.S. health authorities are taking aggressive steps to prevent an outbreak here even if another case appears.

The mixed message came as Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian who was the first person in the U.S. to be diagnosed with the virus that is suspected of killing more than 3,400 people in West Africa, remained in critical condition at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital.

“It’s really understandable that people are scared. It’s a deadly virus,” Frieden said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

From the New York Times, an update:

Ebola Patient in Dallas ‘Fighting for His Life,’ C.D.C. Director Says

The Ebola patient in Dallas is “fighting for his life,” but he remains the only confirmed victim of the disease in the United States, and public health officials remain confident about their ability to contain the disease, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Sunday.

While expressing such confidence about the American effort, the director, Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, said on the CNN program “State of the Union” that in Africa, “the virus is spreading so fast that it’s hard to keep up.”

As top public health officials worked to educate the American public about the highly deadly disease without fueling a sense of panic, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci of the National Institutes of Health said on Sunday that there was nothing to support fears that the disease is more readily transmissible than previously believed, or that American troops setting up medical facilities in West Africa could spread Ebola upon their return. Both possibilities had been raised by Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky.

CBC News sounds an alarm:

Dallas Ebola case: Officials seek ‘low risk’ homeless man linked to Ebola case

  • 50 people being monitored for signs of the deadly disease who may have had contact with patient

Officials in Texas are looking for a homeless man who may have had contact with an Ebola patient hospitalized in Dallas. The man, who walked away from a health facility Saturday after having his temperature tested, is considered at low risk.

“We have a great place for him to stay and we can attend to his every need. We just need him to be a hero to his community and to come forward,” Clay Lewis Jenkins, Dallas County judge, said at a news conference Sunday.

Jenkins added that police and other public officials are looking for the man, who is part of a larger group of 38 people who may have been around Duncan when he was showing symptoms of the disease.

And the Associated Press damps it down:

Officials locate possible Ebola patient contact

Authorities say they’ve located a homeless man who needs to be monitored because he may have had contact with the lone Ebola patient in the United States.

Dallas city spokeswoman Sana Syed said the man was located Sunday, a few hours after officials first said he was missing.

The person is not considered to be one of the 10 people who definitely had contact with Thomas Eric Duncan, who is in critical condition at a Dallas hospital.

Reassurance from the Christian Science Monitor:

CDC official: ‘We know how to stop Ebola’

Authorities around the country are investigating reports of Ebola-like symptoms among patients. But so far, there is just one confirmed case of the disease in the US, and the head of the CDC says, “We can stop it in its tracks.”

As concern mounts over Ebola, US officials in charge of dealing with the infectious disease have one basic message meant to address public fears:

“The bottom line here is we know how to stop it,” says Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Speaking on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday, Dr. Frieden explained his confidence: “It’s not going to spread widely in the US, for two basic reasons. We can do infection control in hospitals, and we can do public health interventions that can stop it in its tracks. We do that by identifying every possible contact, monitoring them for 21 days and if they get any symptoms, isolating and monitoring them as well.”

While the Washington Post looks at the bigger picture:

Out of control

How the world’s health organizations failed to stop the Ebola disaster

The virus easily outran the plodding response. The WHO, an arm of the United Nations, is responsible for coordinating international action in a crisis like this, but it has suffered budget cuts, has lost many of its brightest minds and was slow to sound a global alarm on Ebola. Not until Aug. 8, 4-1/2 months into the epidemic, did the organization declare a global emergency. Its Africa office, which oversees the region, initially did not welcome a robust role by the CDC in the response to the outbreak.

Previous Ebola outbreaks had been quickly throttled, but that experience proved misleading and officials did not grasp the potential scale of the disaster. Their imaginations were unequal to the virulence of the pathogen.

“In retrospect, we could have responded faster. Some of the criticism is appropriate,” acknowledged Richard Brennan, director of the WHO’s Department of Emergency Risk Management and Humanitarian Response. But he added, “While some of the criticism we accept, I think we also have to get things in perspective that this outbreak has a dynamic that’s unlike everything we’ve ever seen before and, I think, has caught everyone unawares.”

The epidemic has exposed a disconnect between the aspirations of global health officials and the reality of infectious disease control. Officials hold faraway strategy sessions about fighting emerging diseases and bioterrorism even as front-line doctors and nurses don’t have enough latex gloves, protective gowns, rehydrating fluid or workers to carry bodies to the morgue.

More from Reuters:

Aid workers ask where was WHO in Ebola outbreak?

In the first days of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, as aid workers and health authorities battled to contain the deadly virus, Mariano Lugli asked himself a simple question: where was the World Health Organization?

Lugli, an Italian nurse, was among the first responders from medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) to reach the remote forests of Guinea in March where the hemorrhagic fever – one of the most lethal diseases known to man – was detected.

When the epidemic spread to the capital Conakry, Lugli set up a second Ebola clinic there. He encountered a foreign medic and a logistician sent by the U.N. health agency but saw no sign of a WHO official in charge of handling the escalating outbreak.

“In all the meetings I attended, even in Conakry, I never saw a representative of the WHO,” said Lugli, deputy director of operations for MSF Switzerland. “The coordination role that WHO should be playing, we just didn’t see it. I didn’t see it the first three weeks and we didn’t see it afterwards.”

More reality — and its lack — on the ground via the South African Government News Agency:

Fight against Ebola hampered by gaps in data, hidden cases

Ebola’s rapid spread through West Africa has been quickened by the difficulty of keeping track of the deadly disease, and filling in the huge gaps in knowledge about the epidemic is key to eventually containing it, health experts say.

UN and World Health Organization data show the number of cases across the region had reached 7 423 by September 29, including 3 355 deaths. That is widely agreed to be an underestimate.

Many patients are not counted because they never get medical help, perhaps hidden by fearful families or turned away by overwhelmed clinics. Some villages have turned into “shadow zones” where villagers’ resistance or the remote location makes investigating numerous deaths impossible.

In Liberia, a surge of previously unknown patients who appear whenever a medical facility opens “suggests the existence of an invisible caseload of patients”, the WHO said in August.

Last week, the U.S. Centres for Disease Control estimated there would be 8 000 cases reported in Liberia and Sierra Leone by September 30, but said the true figure would likely be 21 000 after correcting for under-reporting.

CCTV Africa covers another side of the ongoing public health disaster:

UN estimates there are almost 4000 young children orphaned by Ebola

Program notes:

Ebola outbreak is having a huge impact on children in the West African region. The UN estimates ebola has orphaned almost 4,000 youngsters already – and says the number could double in coming weeks. Many of the orphans are shunned – but for some, there is help.

And another frightening number from Reuters:

Sierra Leone records 121 Ebola deaths in a single day

Sierra Leone recorded 121 deaths from Ebola and scores of new infections in one of the single deadliest days since the disease appeared in the West African country more than four months ago, government health statistics showed on Sunday.

The figures, which covered the period through Saturday, put the total number of deaths at 678, up from 557 the day before. The daily statistics compiled by Sierra Leone’s Emergency Operations Centre also showed 81 new cases of the hemorrhagic fever.

The overall death toll from the epidemic reached 3,439 out of a total of 7,492 cases in West Africa and the United States as of Oct. 1, the World Health Organization said last week. The U.N. agency’s statistics varied from those compiled by Sierra Leone.

TheLocal.se lends a hand:

Sweden boosts Ebola fight funds

Sweden has announced that it is boosting funds to be used in the fight against the spread of Ebola with most of the aid channelled through the UN and NGOs.

“If we don’t stop the spread of the disease we are heading for a catastrophe,” said Ewa Nunes Sörensson, Sweden’s ambassador to Liberia to the Dagens Nyheter daily.

Sweden has decided to boost its provision of aid funds from 35 million kronor to above 100 million kronor with most of the money to various NGOs such as Save the Children and Doctors Without Borders.

United Nations organisations such as WHO, Unicef and Unhas will also benefit from the funds.

The Los Angeles Times traces etiology:

From Guinea to Dallas: Tracing the Ebola threat

It began in a village deep in the forests of southeastern Guinea, when a 2-year-old boy named Emile developed a mysterious illness.

Nothing, it seemed, could stem the child’s fever and vomiting, and he died within days. A week later, the illness killed his 3-year-old sister, then his mother, grandmother and a house guest.

The grandmother consulted a nurse before she died. Friends and family gathered for her funeral, and soon the illness was spreading down rutted dirt tracks to other villages and towns.

Local health officials were alarmed, but it would take nearly three months from the boy’s death in December to identify the culprit: the dreaded Ebola virus. By then, the lethal virus had reached Guinea’s bustling capital, Conakry, and there were suspected cases across the border in Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Via New Zimbabwe, concerns in a country a long way from the West African hot zone :

Stop Ebola Scare Tactics, Parirenyatwa

HEALTH Minister David Parirenyatwa has urged health workers to partner the government in spreading information about the deadly Ebola virus but warned them not to scare the people.

Parirenyatwa told a gathering of pharmacists in Victoria Falls on Saturday that people had been misinformed on the symptoms of the epidemic sweeping across West African countries where 3 300 people have been confirmed dead so far since its outbreak in March this year.

“There is no Ebola in Zimbabwe contrary to reports going around and we hope we will remain free from it,” he said. “All you have to do is help spread the correct information to the citizenry that coughing and sneezing which people always associate with symptoms are not signs of the disease. “There must be contact first for one to contract the disease as it spreads through contact,” he said. Parirenyatwa, who is also chairman of Sadc Health Ministers, allayed fears of any outbreak in Zimbabwe saying the country was Ebola-free although it will remain on high alert.

Punch Nigeria covers a familiar process, the politcalization of peril:

APC frustrated by Nigeria’s success on Ebola containment -PDP

The leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party has lambasted the All Progressives Congress for what it described as its yet another failed attempt to discredit the PDP-led Federal Government and relegate its efforts in the containment of the Ebola Virus Disease in Nigeria.

PDP National Publicity Secretary, Olisa Metuh, in a statement in a Abuja on Sunday, said the APC was frustrated and unhappy because Nigerians are happy with the PDP-led Federal Government for “the speed and energy with which it tackled the scourge and brought it under control.”

“We know that the APC prefers that the Ebola scourge continued unabated in Nigeria so as to have what to blame the PDP-led government for. Now that it has been contained, the APC is frustrated because the people are happy with President Goodluck Jonathan and the PDP-led Federal Government for the proactive manner with which the disease was confronted and overcame,” the party said.

And from Punch Nigeria again, metaphor become reality:

Akon performs in giant bubble to avoid Ebola

In an effort to guard against contracting the Ebola Virus Disease, a United States-based R&B star, Akon, last Sunday climbed inside an airtight blow-up during a performance in Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo.

The singer rolled over the crowd, pushed along by the outstretched hands of 60,000 screaming concert-goers while performing at a concert.

The performance was part of a larger free concert held by charity, ‘Peace One Day,’ to help promote and support the United Nations’ International Day Of Peace.

Akon was, however, accused of going to extreme lengths to avoid catching Ebola during a concert in Africa by crowd-surfing inside a giant plastic bubble.

CCTV Africa covers voluntary confrontation with peril:

Liberia’s ex- police chief joins Ebola fight

Program notes:

The raging Ebola outbreak has taken more than two thousand lives in Liberia. This has prompted some people to divert their careers from the usual path, as part of joint efforts to contain the spread of the deadly disease. Former Police Commissioner Samuel Nimley is usually in charge of police work involving Interpol matters.

From TheLocal.fr, another Northerner saved:

French nurse cured of Ebola

A French nurse who contracted Ebola while volunteering for Doctors Without Borders (MSF) in Liberia has been cured of the deadly virus, the French health minister said Saturday.

The nurse, who has not been identified, “is now cured and has left hospital,” Marisol Touraine said in a statement.

The first French national to be infected with the virus was airlifted back to France on September 19 and received experimental treatment at a military hospital on the outskirts of Paris.

From Raw Story, the merger of Ebola and GOP extremism focused on black people:

Former SC GOP director: Execute anyone who comes into contact with Ebola — ‘it’s just math’

The former general counsel and executive director of the South Carolina Republican Party is coming under fire for the novel solutions to the Ebola epidemic he is posting on Twitter.

The vehemently pro-life Todd Kincannon began by arguing that anyone who contracts Ebola should be summarily executed.

EbolaWatch: Warnings, U.S. case, African woes


A long compendium today, so straight to it, first with the London Telegraph:

Ebola ‘could become airborne’: United Nations warns of ‘nightmare scenario’ as virus spreads to the US

  • Exclusive: Anthony Banbury, chief of the UN’s Ebola mission, says there is a chance the deadly virus could mutate to become infectious through the air

There is a ‘nightmare’ chance that the Ebola virus could become airborne if the epidemic is not brought under control fast enough, the chief of the UN’s Ebola mission has warned.

Anthony Banbury, the Secretary General’s Special Representative, said that aid workers are racing against time to bring the epidemic under control, in case the Ebola virus mutates and becomes even harder to deal with.

“The longer it moves around in human hosts in the virulent melting pot that is West Africa, the more chances increase that it could mutate,” he told the Telegraph. “It is a nightmare scenario [that it could become airborne], and unlikely, but it can’t be ruled out.”

He admitted that the international community had been “a bit late” to respond to the epidemic, but that it was “not too late” and that aid workers needed to “hit [Ebola] hard” to rein in the deadly disease.

And another alarm from RT:

1 month to stop Ebola before it’s ‘totally out of control’ – global aid NGO

The International Rescue Committee (IRC), on behalf of 34 NGOs battling Ebola in West Africa, has warned that the number of cases is doubling roughly every three weeks and the globe has only four weeks to stop the crisis from spiraling out of control.

Sanjayan Srikanthan from the IRC, speaking on behalf of aid organizations and NGOs such as Christian Aid and Oxfam, told delegates that the world has a small “window of opportunity” left to stop the disease spreading further.

“Every day we delay in disbursing resources to affected countries, the more impossible it becomes to contain the disease. The international community has a window of opportunity over the next four weeks to stop the crisis from spreading completely out of control. To do so we must break transmission rates and halt the exponential increase in cases,” he says in a statement prepared for the summit.

And on to the case that’s consuming American media and getting lots of play in Africa as well, first with the Washington Post:

Texas Ebola patient, Thomas Eric Duncan, may have had contact with up to 100 people

Texas health officials said Thursday that there are “about 100″ people who may have had contact with Thomas Eric Duncan, the man being treated in a Dallas-area hospital for Ebola.

“We are working from a list of about 100 potential or possible contacts and will soon have an official contact tracing number that will be lower,” Texas Department of State Health Services spokeswoman Carrie Williams said in a statement.

“Out of an abundance of caution, we’re starting with this very wide net, including people who have had even brief encounters with the patient or the patient’s home. The number will drop as we focus in on those whose contact may represent a potential risk of infection.”

The Associated Press quarantines:

4 relatives of Ebola patient ordered to stay home

Texas health officials have ordered four close family members of the Ebola patient in Dallas to stay in their home, and they’ve posted law enforcement outside to be sure.

Federal and Texas health officials are reaching out to about 100 people to determine if they have had contact with the Ebola patient hospitalized in Dallas.

But Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Tom Frieden said Thursday they’ve only identified a handful of individuals so far who may really have been exposed and therefore will be monitored.

Texas state health commissioner David Lakey said the unusual quarantine step with the four relatives was so health officials could do the necessary monitoring, including checking them for fevers over the next 21 days.

The New York Times focus on the travel vector:

Man in U.S. With Ebola Had Been Screened to Fly, but System Is Spotty

Since the deadly Ebola virus began spreading rapidly through West Africa, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been pushing the authorities in the worst-hit countries, including Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, to implement just that type of screening for departing passengers.

In early August, the C.D.C. sent medical workers to the region to train local government officials and airport workers in Ebola screening, according to Dr. Nicole Cohen, an infectious disease specialist with the agency’s Division of Migration and Quarantine. As part of that process, the agency advises that airport workers ask travelers if they have been exposed to Ebola in the last 21 days, have had a fever, and have had any symptoms including severe headache, muscle ache, abdominal pain, unusual bruising or bleeding, vomiting and diarrhea. The screener is expected to use a hand-held non-contact temperature monitor, a few inches from the travelers’ forehead, to check for fever.

But the system has its limits, relying on the traveler to reveal whether he or she has been exposed. And it leaves it to local officials to conduct the screening as they see fit, Dr. Cohen said. It is unclear how consistently or effectively those screenings are conducted across West Africa, and Dr. Cohen said she did not know how many potential travelers had been caught by screeners — if any.

More from the Associated Press:

Man with Ebola virus flew roundabout trip to US

Details of the man’s 28-hour trip from western Africa emerged Wednesday. He flew on two airlines, took three flights, and had lengthy airport layovers before reaching Texas on Sept. 20.

Still, federal officials say other passengers on the flights are at no risk of infection because the man had no symptoms at the time of his trip.

Thomas Eric Duncan left Monrovia, Liberia, on Sept. 19 aboard a Brussels Airlines jet to the Belgian capital, according to a Belgian official. After layover of nearly seven hours, he boarded United Airlines Flight 951 to Dulles International Airport near Washington, D.C. After another layover of nearly three hours, he then flew Flight 822 from Dulles to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, the airline confirmed.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Duncan sought medical care Sept. 25 in Dallas after falling ill the day before.

The Associated Press again:

United contacting those who flew with Ebola victim

United Airlines said Thursday it is notifying passengers who were on flights with a man later diagnosed with Ebola and telling them how to contact federal health officials.

United said it is also telling passengers that officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention believe the man could not have spread the disease during the flights because he was not showing symptoms and was not yet contagious.

United said it believes that Duncan flew the next day on United Flight 951 from Brussels to Dulles International Airport near Washington and connected to Flight 822 from Dulles to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.

In a statement, the airline said Thursday that the two planes underwent their routine overnight “thorough cleaning” after the flights, “including cleaning of lavatories and galleys with heavy-duty all-purpose cleaners and wiping tray tables and armrests with disinfectant.” It added that “we continue to clean and route the planes throughout our network as usual.”

From the Los Angeles Times, raising more questions:

Nephew of Dallas Ebola patient says he called CDC to get him admitted to a hospital

Joseph Weeks says he was deeply disturbed when he learned last week that his uncle, Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan, had been sent home from an emergency room at a Dallas hospital last Friday.

“I was terrified. Worried. Scared. All of the above,” Weeks, 43, said Thursday outside his tan frame home in this former textile town in North Carolina’s rolling Piedmont.

“They sent him home with those signs and symptoms,” Weeks said. “And I was afraid he might not survive. So I called the CDC.

“I didn’t believe that they were moving fast enough at that time,’‘ he said.

After he contacted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Weeks said, Duncan was admitted Sunday to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, where he was tested and treated for Ebola.

The New York Times covers classroom anxiety:

In Dallas Schools, Fear of Possible Ebola Exposure

There is Ebola, and then there is fear of Ebola.

For the thousands of parents and schoolchildren in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, it is a concern that they wrestled with on Thursday morning after learning that five school-age children had had contact with a man who is ill with the disease.

“My mom, she recommended that I not touch a lot of kids at school,” said Royale Hollis, 15, a freshman at Emmett J. Conrad High School, which at least one of the children attended. “I haven’t been shaking hands, just bumping elbows. People just keep their distance. Girls don’t give boys hugs. We’re all cool with each other but we just don’t want to catch anything.”

From the London Telegraph, a focus on delayed clean-up:

Quarantined girlfriend of US Ebola victim says sheets are still on bed

  • The girlfriend of Thomas Eric Duncan, quarantined in an apartment with her daughter and two nephews, tells CNN the sheets and towels he used have still not been removed

The girlfriend of America’s first Ebola patient has been quarantined in their home with three other people where the sheets and towels he used have still not been removed.

The woman, who gave her name as Louise, spoke to CNN journalist Anderson Cooper by phone from inside the apartment she shared with Thomas Eric Duncan.

She told Mr Cooper the sheets that Mr Duncan had slept on were still on the bed they had shared. She was avoiding the bed and sleeping in the living room instead. She told CNN: “I don’t know what to do.”

A complication from the New York Times:

Delay in Dallas Ebola Cleanup as Workers Balk at Task

More than six months after an outbreak of Ebola began its rampage through West Africa, local and federal health officials have displayed an uneven and flawed response to the first case diagnosed in the United States.

In the latest indication, state and local authorities confirmed Thursday that a week after a Liberian man fell ill with Ebola in Dallas, and four days after he was placed in isolation at a hospital here, the apartment where he was staying with four other people had not been sanitized and the sheets and dirty towels he used while sick remained in the home. County officials visited the apartment without protection Wednesday night.

The officials said it had been difficult to find a contractor willing to enter the apartment to clean it and remove bedding and clothes, which they said had been bagged in plastic. They said they now had hired a firm that would do the work soon. The Texas health commissioner, Dr. David Lakey, told reporters during an afternoon news conference that officials had encountered “a little bit of hesitancy” in seeking a firm to clean the apartment.

The Hill covers the hush-hush:

Health officials clam up about effort to contain Ebola in Texas

Health officials are refusing to answer growing questions about their response to the first Ebola case in the United States.

Under intense questioning from reporters, officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Texas health department and the City of Dallas repeatedly declined Thursday to provide details about the steps being taken to prevent an outbreak.

Texas Health Commissioner David Lakey, who participated in one press call Thursday, would not identify or describe the four individuals who have been quarantined due to possible exposure to Ebola. They were later referred to as “family members” at a separate press conference.

From the Associated Press, a legal complication:

Liberia to prosecute man who brought Ebola to US

Liberia plans to prosecute the airline passenger who brought Ebola into the U.S., alleging that he lied on an airport questionnaire about not having any contact with an infected person, authorities said Thursday.

Thomas Eric Duncan filled out a series of questions about his health and activities before leaving on his journey to Dallas. On a Sept. 19 form obtained by The Associated Press, he answered no to all of them.

Among other questions, the form asked whether Duncan had cared for an Ebola patient or touched the body of anyone who had died in an area affected by Ebola.

CBC News interviews the Liberian president about the case:

Liberia President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf exclusive interview with CBC News

Program notes:

Liberia Presidenors of the Liberia Airport Authority in Monrovia. The agency took the case to the Ministry of Justice, which will formally prosecute it.

Another U.S. alarm? Via the London Daily Mail:

Now a patient in Hawaii is in isolation with suspected Ebola… but has not yet been tested for the virus and doctors refuse to reveal if they traveled from Africa

  • Even though Ebola is a possibility, the patient has not yet been specifically tested for that virus as it is too soon to tell
  • The Hawaii Nurses Association said the person is being treated at The Queen’s Medical Center in Honolulu
  • Two suspicious factors would be if the patient had a fever and if he traveled to West Africa in the last 21 days but the hospital is not releasing that information

A patient in Honolulu, Hawaii, has been placed in isolation with suspected Ebola, the Department of Health confirmed on Wednesday.

Even though the disease is a possibility, the patient has not yet been specifically tested for it, but is displaying some symptoms.

From BuzzFeed, another question:

Who’s Actually Leading The U.S. Response To The Ebola Epidemic

USAID is currently in charge of the international effort. A key senator says that’s not enough — the White House should appoint a single, high-level official to lead the fight against Ebola.

America’s Ebola effort lacks a leader, a key senator told BuzzFeed News.

With Ebola cases doubling every 24 days in Liberia and showing no sign of slowing, Kansas Republican Sen. Jerry Moran said President Obama needs to appoint an Ebola czar to coordinate the government’s sprawling, multi-agency effort. Moran, the ranking member on the Appropriations Committee’s health subcommittee, said it has been difficult for even lawmakers to find the right person to talk to.

“We’re trying to figure out about the funding,” Moran said. But “there is no person to go to, to tell us how all this is going to be funded,” he said, and “what resources will be needed.”

Some reassurance from the Christian Science Monitor:

Despite new Ebola case, US has good track record stopping pandemics

While the response to the first diagnosed case of Ebola in America has not been perfect, the US and the world have effectively contained several outbreaks of other diseases in recent years, from SARS to H1N1

CDC Director Tom Frieden’s assurances that the US will stop Ebola “in its tracks” is based on a strong track record by public health systems in the US and beyond. Not only have similar viruses to Ebola arrived in the US before and been successfully contained, but four US health care workers diagnosed with Ebola all survived after receiving treatment in the US.

Meanwhile, past predictions of massive casualties from viruses like avian flu, SARS, and H1N1 in the past decade diminished dramatically as world health groups, often spearheaded by the Atlanta-based CDC, responded aggressively.

None of which is to say the world’s reaction to the current Ebola outbreak has been ideal. The political will to send troops and humanitarian aid to West Africa didn’t come until two American health workers were infected and subsequently successfully treated back home. The WHO didn’t declare a humanitarian crisis until August, when thousands had already been diagnosed.

From the New York Times, medical ethics alert:

U.S. Will Increase Production of the Ebola Drug ZMapp, but May Not Meet Demand

Federal officials are planning to sharply increase production of ZMapp, which is viewed by many experts as the most promising experimental drug for treating people infected with Ebola in West Africa.

The Department of Health and Human Services is in advanced discussions to enlist Caliber Biotherapeutics, a Texas company that can produce the drug in millions of tobacco plants, according to federal officials and pharmaceutical industry executives.

Federal officials, along with two of the world’s biggest charities — the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Wellcome Trust — are also looking at arranging for production of ZMapp in animal cells, the more conventional method used by the biotechnology industry. Although that would take longer, it would allow for greater output by tapping into the biotechnology industry’s huge production capacity.

From The Hill, the inevitable shame game:

Ebola becomes political fight

Ebola is becoming an issue for the midterm election campaign, with several Republicans using the spread of the virus to the United States to criticize President Obama’s leadership.

Republican lawmakers are accusing Obama of underplaying the threat. They say the national response to the discovery of an infected patient in Dallas has been woefully inadequate.

“I am concerned about it, and it’s a big mistake to downplay it and act as if it’s not a big deal,” Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) told conservative radio host Laura Ingraham. He said Obama officials are putting “political correctness” ahead of public health.

Conservatives, meanwhile, are hammering Obama for saying two weeks ago it was “unlikely” that Ebola could ever reach America.

While Breitbart.com conveys a partisan assault using language once reserved for WASP critiques of Jews:

Ingraham: ‘Core Ties’ to ‘African Continent’ Why Obama Hasn’t Declared Travel Ban to Ebola Countries

Wednesday conservative radio host Laura Ingraham said a possible motive behind President Barack Obama not yet calling for travel ban to countries suffering with Ebola epidemic is his close ties to Africa.

“I believe with this failure to stop these planes from coming in from Sierra Leone I think there could be politics involved in that to Obama familial connection with Africa he has an enormous amount of, I think, core ties to the African continent. He’s mindful of his own family history there.”

“Come on its doesn’t make any sense to not stop those flights from coming here,” she added.

An interesting bit of news fro Thailand, via the Bangkok Post:

Siriraj claims breakthrough antibody treatment could cure Ebola

  • Mass production of drug more than year away

Researchers at Siriraj Hospital, part of Mahidol University, claim they have developed the world’s first “antibody treatment” that could cure Ebola virus infections.

At least a year away from practical application, the antibody was called a significant step toward finding a cure for the disease, which has killed more than 3,000 people in West Africa this year. Currently there is no cure, although several experimental drugs have been deployed in the battle against the epidemic.

Siriraj’s antibody – developed with the use of human genes, not the Ebola virus itself – is small enough to enter infected cells and access virus proteins within them, doctors said. The antibody is five times smaller than what is being tested in the United States, said Dr Udom Kachinthorn, dean of the medical science faculty at Siriraj.

After the jump, preparations in China, Idris Elba weighs in, Aussie halfway aid measures, Mecca monitors millions of Hajj pilgrims, another patient headed for a German hospital, as British survivor gives blood in the U.S., and of to Liberia, with army Ebola deaths, an optimistic Liberian president, attitudinal obstacles to healing help, criminalizing concealment of infection, and a plea for help from chiefs, and on to Sierra Leone and grim numbers and a frightening outlook, assistance delayed, opening the Sierra Leone air corridor, and a warning to traditional healers, Nigerian healthcare staff demand their paychecks, a call to realism from the Guinean president, and a word from the tech front, and one set of numbers that could spur Washington to action. . . Continue reading

InSecurityWatch: War, malware, hacks, China


And a whole lot more.

First up, hyperbolic ramp-up; from the London Telegraph:

Theresa May: Isil will become nuclear threat if we don’t stop them

  • Home Secretary Theresa May warns Isil could acquire “chemical, biological or even nuclear weapons” in the “world’s first truly terrorist state”

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant could acquire nuclear weapons if they are allowed to consolidate their hold in Iraq and Syria, Theresa May has warned.

Isil could get hold of “chemical, biological or even nuclear weapons” in the “world’s first truly terrorist state,” the Home Secretary said, in a wide-ranging speech to the Conservative party conference.

The Home Secretary dramatically highlighted the threat to Britain from the terrorist group, which is operating “within a few hours flying time of our country”.

From BBC News, British bombs away:

RAF jets strike first IS targets in Iraq

RAF jets have attacked a “heavy weapon position” and an armed pick-up truck in Iraq, the Ministry of Defence has said.

In the first attacks since Parliament approved military action on Friday, two “precision strikes” were launched and both were “successful”, the MoD said.

The attacks, by two Tornado jets, were part of an international effort against militant group Islamic State (IS).

From the Toronto Globe and Mail, bloviation north of the border:

Canadian military intervention in Iraq is ‘noble,’ Harper says

Stephen Harper is calling Canadian military intervention in Iraq a “noble” cause as his government prepares for an expected air combat mission in the region, saying this country must respond to a direct threat from the Islamic State extremists.

“These are necessary actions, they are noble actions,” Mr. Harper said during Question Period on Tuesday. “When we think that something is necessary and noble, we don’t sit back and say that only other people should do it. The Canadian way is that you do your part.”

He promised a decision on whether and how to extend the mission in the coming days.

Reuters goes against the grain:

Special Report: Islamic State uses grain to tighten grip in Iraq

The group now controls a large chunk of Iraq’s wheat supplies. The United Nations estimates land under IS control accounts for as much as 40 percent of Iraq’s annual production of wheat, one of the country’s most important food staples alongside barley and rice. The militants seem intent not just on grabbing more land but also on managing resources and governing in their self-proclaimed caliphate.

Wheat is one tool at their disposal. The group has begun using the grain to fill its pockets, to deprive opponents – especially members of the Christian and Yazidi minorities – of vital food supplies, and to win over fellow Sunni Muslims as it tightens its grip on captured territory. In Iraq’s northern breadbasket, much as it did in neighboring Syria, IS has kept state employees and wheat silo operators in place to help run its empire.

Such tactics are one reason IS poses a more complex threat than al Qaeda, the Islamist group from which it grew. For most of its existence, al Qaeda has focused on hit-and-run attacks and suicide bombings. But Islamic State sees itself as both army and government.

From the McClatchy Washington Bureau, a drone’s-eye view:

Once targeted, Global Hawk drone now hidden weapon in U.S. airstrikes

The squabbling between the Pentagon and Capitol Hill over whether to kill the biggest of the military’s drones – the Global Hawk – is finished for the moment, with the remotely piloted surveillance aircraft and its builder emerging as the victors.

Now there’s every indication that the rise of the Islamic State has offered the pilotless wonder a chance to show its stuff.

If only its intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance activities, conducted from as high as 11 miles off the ground and on flights of up to 32 hours, weren’t classified. Pentagon officials are tight-lipped about the drone’s role in recent U.S. airstrikes in Iraq and Syria.

And next door, via the Guardian:

New Afghanistan pact means America’s longest war will last until at least 2024

  • Bilateral security deal ensures that President Obama will pass off the Afghanistan war and his new war in Iraq and Syria to his successor

The longest war in American history will last at least another decade, according to the terms of a garrisoning deal for US forces signed by the new Afghanistan government on Tuesday.

Long awaited and much desired by an anxious US military, the deal guarantees that US and Nato troops will not have to withdraw by year’s end, and permits their stay “until the end of 2024 and beyond.”

The entry into force of the deal ensures that Barack Obama, elected president in 2008 on a wave of anti-war sentiment, will pass off both the Afghanistan war and his new war in Iraq and Syria to his successor. In 2010, his vice-president, Joe Biden, publicly vowed the US would be “totally out” of Afghanistan “come hell or high water, by 2014.”

CBC News covers spooky rhetoric:

Homegrown terrorism remains biggest threat, Jeh Johnson says

  • U.S. Homeland Security secretary arrived Monday for 2-day visit, keynote speech

U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson says homegrown terrorism by previously unknown individuals is the threat that worries him the most.

Johnson, in remarks to a business audience in Ottawa today, pointed to last year’s Boston Marathon bombings as an example of terrorist threats that are difficult to predict.

In his midday speech to the Canadian American Business Council, he also spoke about measures by the U.S. government to improve the flow of good across the border while maintaining security.

Canada counts security state costs, via the Toronto Globe and Mail:

Security could drive Pan Am costs higher, minister warns

The rising cost of next year’s Pan American Games may balloon even more because of security costs, the Ontario cabinet minister in charge of the file said Tuesday.

“How can I guarantee the cost of the Games when I don’t know what the threat level is going to be?” Culture Minister Michael Coteau told a legislative committee. “I will not put a price tag on the safety of Ontarians.”

The current total for the event is $2.57-billion, of which $239-million is set aside for security. The cost of security has already grown twice from its initial estimate of $113-million. The Games will be held next summer in Toronto, Hamilton and several surrounding suburbs.

Old Blighty takes an Orwellian turn, via the Associated Press:

UK government plans curbs on nonviolent extremism

Britain’s interior minister has proposed new powers to bar people with extremist views from appearing on television or publishing on social media even if they are not breaking any laws.

Home Secretary Theresa May told a conference of the governing Conservatives that if re-elected next year the party will introduce powers to disrupt people who “spread poisonous hatred” even within the law.

May said Tuesday that only a minority of extremists are violent, but there is “a thread that binds” nonviolent extremism to terrorism.

May says tougher powers are needed to stop young people becoming radicalized. She says at least 500 Britons have traveled to Syria and Iraq, mainly to fight with militant groups.

The Associated Press embarrasses:

Germany unable to meet NATO readiness target

Germany’s military is unable to meet its medium-term readiness target should NATO call on its members to mobilize against an attack, officials said Monday.

The revelation follows days of embarrassing reports about equipment failures that included German army instructors being stranded in Bulgaria en route to Iraq when their plane broke down, and delays in sending weapons to arm Kurdish fighters because of another transport problem.

In the latest incident, the military said one of two aging C-160 aircraft flying German aid to Ebola-affected West Africa has also been grounded on the island of Gran Canaria since the weekend, awaiting repairs.

Asked about a Der Spiegel report that Germany at this juncture wouldn’t be able to offer the appropriate number of military aircraft within 180 days of an attack on the NATO alliance, Defense Ministry spokesman Jens Flosdorff confirmed that was the case.

New Europe drones on:

France, Germany to offer drones to monitor ceasefire in Ukraine

France and Germany offered to deploy drones as part of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)’s efforts to monitor Ukraine’s ceasefire, a government official said on Monday.

At a daily news briefing, Foreign Ministry’s spokesperson Romain Nadal announced “France and Germany have proposed to provide drones aimed at monitoring the ceasefire’s implementation as requested by the OSCE.”

The drone deployment proposal was being discussed, he added without elaborating.

“The cease-fire is an important opportunity to find a lasting political solution to the conflict and which respects Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Nadal noted.

A cumulus, not the fog of war, via Aviation Week & Space Technology:

Pentagon’s ‘Combat Cloud’ Concept Taking Shape

  • Pentagon envisions “combat cloud” as force multiplier for shrinking fleet

The Pentagon has been bitten by the Steve Jobs bug.

The latest vision for data-sharing across ships, aircraft and satellites—a perpetually chased but unrealized plan—is now being dubbed the “combat cloud.” And a retired U.S. Air Force officer is leading a first-of-a-kind charge to bring stakeholders from each of the services, industry and academia together to shape the cloud and attain buy-in, despite the Pentagon’s spotty track record of gaining traction on similar efforts.

Today the Air Force’s very expensive, stealthy aircraft cannot talk to its -legacy systems, and without that crosstalk the effectiveness of those investments will be marginalized. While officers are scrambling to solve the so-called “fifth-to-fourth” problem, a larger dialogue has blossomed about the objective beyond simply connecting F-22s, B-2s and F-35s to the fleet. But will this dialogue produce an executable program to buy the technology that can make the vision—eventually, the cloud—real?

The goal, likely to take a decade or more to realize, is to form an overarching network of data, each platform a node contributing information to the cloud and downloading from it, even in the heat of battle. It would include fighters, intelligence aircraft, satellites, ships and helicopters.

German victim-blaming from the Guardian:

EU’s new digital commissioner calls celebrities in nude picture leak ‘stupid’

  • Germany’s Günther Oettinger says stars who put naked photos of themselves online could not count on his protection

Former EU energy commissioner Günther Oettinger, 61, is used to accusations that he is more digitally naïve than digitally native by now. But at a hearing in front of the European parliament, the EU’s next commissioner designate for digital economy and society raised some serious questions about his suitability.

During a three-hour grilling by MEPs in Brussels, Oettinger said it would not be his job to protect stars “stupid enough to take a nude photo of themselves and put it online” – seemingly unaware that the recent leak of celebrities’ nude photographs had come about as a result of a targeted hacking attack.

Oettinger said: “We can mitigate or even eliminate some risks. But like with any technology, you can’t exclude all risks.

Maledictions enabled, via Ars Technica:

Advertising firms struggle to kill malvertisements

  • One provider finds a vulnerable advertising tool that allowed attackers access

In late September, advertisements appearing on a host of popular news and entertainment sites began serving up malicious code, infecting some visitors’ computers with a backdoor program designed to gather information on their systems and install additional malicious code.

The attack affected visitors to The Jerusalem Post, The Times of Israel, The Hindustan Times, Internet music service Last.fm, and India-focused movie portal Bollywood Hungama, among other popular sites. At the center of the malware campaign: the compromise of San Francisco-based Internet advertising network Zedo, an advertising provider for the sites, whose network was then used to distribute malicious ads.

For ten days, the company investigated multiple malware reports, retracing the attacker’s digital footsteps to identify the malicious files and shut the backdoor to its systems.

A major hack counterattack from the Guardian:

Four hackers charged with stealing $100m in US army and Xbox technology

  • Indictment unsealed on Tuesday reveals Department of Justice charged four people in international computer hacking ring

Four men have been charged with breaking into the computer systems of Microsoft, the US army and leading games manufacturers on Tuesday, as part of an alleged international hacking ring that netted more than $100m in intellectual property, the US Department of Justice said on Tuesday.

The four are alleged to have stolen Xbox technology, Apache helicopter training software and pre-release copies of games such as Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, according to an unsealed indictment. Two of the hackers pleaded guilty earlier on Tuesday, the DoJ said.

After the jump, protesting the educational memory hole, a cartel photobomb in Mexico and a protest for the disappeared, More Pakistani religious murders, forging Indo/American military alliance, FBI-initiated anti-terror raids Down Under, a large collection of items for the ongoing Occupy protests in Hong Kong [international reactions, censorship and other Beijing reactions, specultation, and more], an unofficial peace feeler from Tokyo to Beijing, China’s search for an Indian Ocean base, a major Chinese stealthy air expansion, a hate speech rebuke in Tokyo, and sniffing for bombs in sewers. . . Continue reading

EbolaWatch: Warnings, aid, improv, anxiety


First the latest estimate [PDF] of cases in the hardest hit countries from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control:

BLOG Ebola

Next, an African Ebola update from CCTV Africa:

Ebola: Efforts to Contain the Virus Intensified

Program notes:

There have been several developments when it comes to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa – including fresh warnings and more international assistance. Susan Mwongeli reports

From Monrovia, Liberia, the Inquirer seeks to allay anxieties:

U.S. Troops Not Here To Unseat Gov’t…Ambassador Refutes Rumor

United States Ambassador, Deborah R. Malac, has clarified that the United States Army is in Liberia to help the Government of Liberia fight the deadly Ebola virus and not to unseat the present government.

Addressing a news conference held at the United States Embassy in Monrovia yesterday, Ambassador Malac disclosed that the U.S. Army has come with additional capacity to join with other international partners to fight the disease.

Also speaking, Major General Darryl Williams, Commanding General/Joint Forces Command, United Assistance said the numbers of US soldiers are in Liberia to fill the gap and accomplish the mission that they came for.

More from FrontPageAfrica:

‘A Deadly Foe’, Man Leading U.S. Liberia Ebola Mission Declares

Monrovia – The man leading the United States of America military wing in the fight against the deadly Ebola Joint Task Force Command, United Assistance, Maj. General Darryl A. Williams said his men have been working with members of the Armed Forces of Liberia to accelerate Liberia’s response to the deadly Ebola virus. JTFC Maj. Gen. Williams speaking at a news conference at the U.S. Embassy in Monrovia said the U.S. military in West Africa is working in a support role, bringing its unique ability to organizations that have been in Liberia fighting the Ebola virus disease for months.

He said the lead US federal agency in this response is the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). “As our military forces continue to flow in, we will continue to work together, so that we compliment each other’s abilities and efforts to support the government of Liberia,” he said.

“We will also be partnering with the Armed Forces of Liberia and they’re eager to help their fellow countrymen. Our soldiers, sailors, airmen, marine, are working side by side with our Liberian Host and build on our already special relationship.”

From the Japan Times, Liberian aid arrives:

U.S. Ebola labs, parts for clinic arrive in Liberia

U.S. mobile Ebola labs should be up and running in Liberia this week and American troops have broken ground for a field hospital as the international community races to increase the ability to care for the spiraling number of people infected with the dreaded disease.

Liberia is the hardest-hit country in the largest-ever Ebola outbreak, which has touched four other West African countries. More than 3,000 deaths have been linked to the disease across the region, according to the World Health Organization, in the largest outbreak ever.

But even that toll is likely an underestimate, partially because there aren’t enough labs to test people for Ebola. WHO has warned that numbers for Liberia, in particular, have lagged behind reality because it takes so long to get test results back.

From the Inquirer in Monrovia, more aid, domemtically supplied:

Gov’t Brings In 12 Ambulances…As Ebola Now Reaches The 15 Counties

The Ebola Case Management head and Assistant Health Minister for Preventive Service, Mr. Tolbert Nyenswah, has disclosed that 12 Ambulances recently procured by the Government of Liberia (GOL) are promptly responding to the Ebola outbreak in the country.

Minister Nyenswah said the response effort is ongoing well and it is sure that Ebola will be eradicated now that patients are being transported safely to the various Ebola Treatment Units (ETUs).

Nyenswah who was addressing the daily Ebola Press Conference at the Ministry of Information yesterday said government will soon trace and identify Ebola patients as part of the ongoing fight against the menace.

Minister Nyenswah said currently the testing of Ebola patients has increased to 300 daily as a means of speeding up treatment and response.

The NewDawn in Liberia covers another cash infusion:

Liberia gets US$11.4 Million from ADB

The African Development Bank has provided a grant of US$11.4 Million to the Government of Liberia in support of its current fight against the deadly Ebola virus.

Deputy Health Minister for Preventive Services, Tolbert Nyenswah, has described the bank’s gesture as timely. Minister Nyenswah said portion of the money will be used to construct community care centers in Ebola hit communities around the country.

He noted that there have been some improvements in combating the virus since international partners like the African Development Bank, World Bank, and IMF begun providing financial aid to Liberia. Signing for the grant on behalf of the Liberian government, Finance Minister Amara Konneh, thanked the bank for the money.

CBC News covers another cause for anxiety:

Ebola virus in Liberia creates body recovery dangers

  • Workers struggle to gather and dispose of corpses as outbreak spreads

It’s a sad fact of life in Monrovia, Liberia, these days.

The wail of an ambulance siren doesn’t mean help is on the way. More often than not, it signals that a convoy carrying the “dead body management team” is about to arrive.

On Monday, CBC News rode along in one of those convoys. The weather was miserable. The task at hand was even more so.

Voice of America covers frustration:

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

In order to avoid human-to-human transmission of the deadly Ebola virus, the Liberian government temporarily closed schools, universities and other major public gathering points some months ago. Without the prospect of going back to school any time soon, hundreds of students took to the streets of Monrovia  Monday to express their frustration.

For any employer, it’s good times in Liberia. Thousands of young educated but idle people abound since schools and universities have been closed for months. So it was no problem for Department of Children and Family director, Victor Fayah, to do recruiting for a non-paying job.

“We received the first 2,000 people and now we’re above 4,200 people,” Fayah said. “There is more people still coming in with their CV [resume] willing to go to all the counties, to go to the rural villages, to walk even, eight hours walk to get to some villages, to talk to our people in their language that they can understand, the best way that they can understand the issue of Ebola.”

And FrontPageAfrica covers improvisation [and do see the pictures at the link]:

Creative Danger: Liberians Use Artificial PPE to Aid Ebola Patients

With four ambulances lineup at the Medicine San Frontier-MSF run Ebola Treatment Unit (ETU) also known as ELWA-3, Lawrence Paye and four others arrived with their sick relative, wearing artificial Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) made of plastic bags.

They had come from the Fendell Community, few kilometers from Monrovia, taking mater in their hands after efforts to get an ambulance to pick up their sick relative failed for two days, as Paye, the husband to the sick Comfort Togbah explained.

With the ETU workers yet to admit patients from the four parked ambulances, into the center on a rainy afternoon, a yellow bus showed up with Comfort who was bleeding from the mouth, one of the symptoms of the acute stage of the Ebola virus, unable to walk as her brother fed her with water.

Since the outbreak of the deadly virus in Liberia, donations from local and international organizations including individuals have been forthcoming. China has so far donated thousands of Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) and other countries have made donations in materials in an attempt to equip health workers to fight the virus but without PPEs in homes, Liberians are finding a way out to help sick relatives.

With health facilities overwhelmed by the number of patients ambulances have not been able to collect sick people from various communities as in many instances, calls are made for up to three days or even more before an ambulance shows up to pick a sick. Paye along with two other men and a lady created a scene to watch for many onlookers when they disembarked the bus wearing the artificial PPEs which they used to cover their hands, feet and heads.

Deutsche Welle covers a promise:

UN Ebola chief vows swift progress in fighting outbreak

The UN’s Ebola response chief has vowed to achieve significant progress within 60 days. UNICEF, meanwhile, has warned thousands of children who have lost parents to the epidemic are at risk of being shunned by relatives.

The UN Ebola mission head, Tony Banbury, told reporters on Tuesday that swift action would be taken in combating the Ebola crisis.

“We don’t know how long it will take. We hope to do it as fast as possible and to close the UNMEER (UN Mission on Ebla Emergency Response) as quickly as possible,” Banbury said, speaking at the headquarters of the United Nations mission in Accra, Ghana.

“Seventy percent of infected people need to be under treatment, 70 percent of burials need to be done in a safe way in order to turn this around and we need to do it in 60 days,” Banbury said.

“It’s an extremely … ambitious target and the only way it will be achieved is through this international effort,” he added.

While the Thomson Reuters Foundation sounds a warning from a familiar name:

Bill Gates warns Ebola could spread beyond West Africa

It is impossible to guess whether world leaders have done enough to bring the Ebola epidemic under control, given the risks that it will spread to countries beyond West Africa, the technology billionaire and philanthropist Bill Gates said on Monday.

Countries should get ready to handle a possible outbreak of the deadly hemorrhagic fever in case it spreads further as people from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea move across borders, Gates said at a breakfast meeting sponsored by the newspaper Politico and Bank of America.

“Because of that uncertainty, I am not going to hazard a guess,” Gates said when asked whether he thinks the massive ramping up of international aid over the past few weeks is enough.

The Sun Nigeria covers another development:

Lagos ready to fund research on Ebola

  • … As Fashola challenges Iwu, others

Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola, yesterday, said the state government is prepared to provide funds required to carry out research that can lead to finding cure for the deadly Ebola virus disease (EVD).Speaking during the disbursement of grants to 31 beneficiaries whose research proposals had been approved by the Lagos State Research and Development Council, the governor specifically challenged Prof. Maurice Iwu to come up with a lucid proposal on his Bitter Kola theory, saying the state government would be willing to sponsor it.

Fashola also challenged scholars and researchers in the country to move beyond title earning to contributing meaningfully to the development of the country through their researches.

He said professors, Phd holders and other scholars were respected not because of the finery of their titles but because of their intelligence and what they have to offer the society.

And Punch Nigeria covers a settlement:

Bayelsa, NUT face-off ends, teachers begin Ebola training

The face-off between the National Union of Teachers, Bayelsa State chapter, and the state government over resumption date appears to have been resolved.

The teachers’ umbrella body in the state had vowed not to resume schools until the teachers were equipped and trained about measures to tackle the dreaded Ebola virus.

On Tuesday, teachers resumed schools after the government commenced training of no fewer than 484 teachers on preventive measures against the dreaded EVD.

While IRIN focus on the media:

Ebola and the media – Nigeria’s good news story

At 67 million users, Nigeria reportedly has the eighth largest Internet population in the world. It also had close to 166 million mobile subscribers as of June. (The country’s population is 175 million.)

With so many Nigerians online, portals like ebolalert.org set up by volunteer doctors, and the public/private ebolafacts.com initiative, have become important channels to provide accurate information to help people stay safe. They complement telephone hotlines and more traditional public health approaches.

The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has also taken a role in the communications work on Ebola, using the SMS portal UReport. UReport Nigeria is a free SMS platform designed as a community-based two-way information exchange mechanism. According to UNICEF Communications Specialist Geoffrey Njoku, over 57,000 people received more than 3.6 million SMS containing key messages about Ebola and how to stay protected over a six-week period.

The bottom line: Good news from the New York Times:

Ebola Outbreak in Nigeria Appears to Be Over

With quick and coordinated action by some of its top doctors, Africa’s most populous country seems to have beaten its first Ebola outbreak, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday.

Since the first patient — a dying Liberian-American — flew into Lagos, Nigeria, on July 20, the disease spread to 20 other people in two cities, who had contact with nearly 900 others. But every known case has now died or recovered, and the cure rate was unusually high for an African outbreak. Virtually all the contacts have passed the incubation period without falling ill.

The success was in part due to the existence of an emergency command center paid for by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to fight polio. As soon as the outbreak began, it was turned into the Ebola Emergency Operations Center.

But the good news hasn’t stopped preventative efforts, and screening at ports has just been implemented, reports Agence France-Presse:

Ebola screening for ships’ crews in Nigeria

Program notes:

Health officials have begun the screening of cargo ship crews transiting through Nigeria to prevent cross border transmission of Ebola through sea and cargo ports.

Another screening program, via Voice of America:

Guinea Intensifies Ebola Screening at Sierra Leone Border

Guinean security forces are intensifying their Ebola screening efforts at the border with Sierra Leone.

At the Madina Oula town crossing, people are subjected to rigorous health checks.  Guinean security forces check for fever and instruct all travelers to wash their hands with soap before entering Guinea.

Kindia, the district capital, is a short distance away – just 150 kilometers from the Guinean capital of Conakry.

From BuzzFeed, a tragic consequence:

Thousands Of Children Orphaned By Ebola Have Been Rejected By Their Relatives And Communities

  • At least 3,700 children in West Africa have lost one or both parents to Ebola, according to UNICEF

More than 3,000 people have died in the deadly Ebola outbreak plaguing West Africa, according to the World Health Organization. The crisis is worsening in Sierra Leone, with over 2 million people under quarantine.

UNICEF said it is working with authorities in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea to help train medical and mental health workers to provide care and support to children who have been rejected by their communities as well as to quarantined children.

The organization said it was also working to reunite separated children with their families. UNICEF will also provide about 60,000 vulnerable children and families in Guinea with psychosocial support.

From TheLocal.se, another European non-infection:

Stockholm patient tests negative after Ebola fears

A patient in a Stockholm hospital who was suspected of having contracted the Ebola virus was given the all clear on Tuesday morning.

“We’ve analysed the tests and we can announce that the person has not contracted Ebola,” Åke Örtqvist, spokesperson for doctors dealing with infectious diseases in the Stockholm region, said in a statement.

The case marked the fifth suspected case in Sweden since the virus started spreading rapidly in Africa earlier this year, all of which has been proven negative.

And to close whilst on the subject of fears, what about those anxieties certain to afflict those who have volunteered to fight the disease? From the National:

What to expect when returning from West Africa

Program notes:

Dr. Tim Jagatic, from Doctors Without Borders, shares his advice for coming home after working in an Ebola outbreak zone.

EbolaWatch: Numbers, aid, desperate measures


We begin with a number from Bloomberg:

70: The Magic Number That Could End the Ebola Epidemic

There are a lot of scary numbers floating around about Ebola. Take 1.4 million: the CDC’s worst-case scenario for Ebola cases in Western Africa by the end of January. Or two: the approximate number of healthy people infected by each new Ebola patient.

But perhaps the most important Ebola number right now is 70 percent. That’s the proportion of patients who need to be isolated — in treatment centers or at least in their homes — in order to put a quick end to the Ebola outbreak, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Once 70 percent of patients are effectively isolated, the outbreak decreases at a rate nearly equal to the initial rate of increase,” researchers wrote today in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. If 70 percent of the current outbreak was achieved by late December, the epidemic “would be almost ended by January 20.”

From AllAfrica, just what’s needed, another czar:

West Africa: Obama to Announce Ebola Czar As Businesses, Senators Press for More

President Obama will announce the appointment of a high-level coordinator to manage the U.S. response to the Ebola outbreak when he visits Atlanta on Tuesday, administration sources have told AllAfrica.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Friday that the president is visiting the Atlanta, Georgia-based U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to receive a briefing from officials at the organization, whose director, Dr. Thomas Frieden, visited the region last month.

Obama will also discuss U.S. assistance to fight the Ebola virus and will thank the doctors, scientists and health care workers who have been engaged in the effort to stop its escalating spread. A stepped-up administration plan, which has been discussed by officials from across the executive branch for more than a month, received higher level attention this past week as the scope of the outbreak became more widely acknowledged – at least partly in response to pressure from private sector companies engaged in the most-affected countries and from members of Congress.

From Agence France-Presse, a videographic of a prototypical Ebola treatment center:

Ebola treatment centres

Program notes:

An American doctor who was exposed to the Ebola virus in Sierra Leone has been admitted Sunday to a clinic outside Washington as a precautionary measure. He had been volunteering as a physician in a unit treating those suffering from the tropical fever that has already killed more than 3,000 people in west Africa since the end of last year. Despite being trained in strict infection control practices, medical staff in the region are at constant risk of infection

The Washington Post embraces the military approach:

Will AFRICOM’s Ebola response be watershed moment for international action on human security?

On Sept. 18, the U.N. Security Council (UNSC) held an unprecedented emergency meeting on a public health crisis and officially declared the Ebola epidemic that has killed an estimated 2,803 people in West Africa a threat to international peace and security. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced the creation of the U.N. Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER), which he tasked with treating the infected, containing the disease and preserving stability. Last week, President Obama announced the deployment of the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), which will set up a joint force command in Liberia to coordinate the activity of 3,000 U.S. forces; expedite the transportation of equipment and supplies; and train an estimated 500 health-care workers per week.

Although Kim Yi Dionne, Laura Seay and Erin McDaniel raised concerns in The Washington Post last week about U.S. military forces engaging in a large-scale humanitarian operation, the deployment of AFRICOM and the creation of UNMEER are different from previous militarized humanitarian missions. The emphasis on human security, supported by the recent UNSC proclamation, shifts the policy conversation. This is a potential watershed moment for future humanitarian interventions if key actors recognize the core comparative advantages of both non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and militaries and work together in a partnership.

Shanghai Daily covers an opening:

UN opens Ebola headquarters in Ghana

THE UN mission to combat Ebola opened its headquarters yesterday in Ghana, where it will coordinate aid for the accelerating West African crisis.

The spread of Ebola has spiraled into the worst ever outbreak, and the World Health Organization says it has linked more than 3,000 deaths to the disease, although that is likely an underestimate of the true toll. Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea have been hit hardest. Senegal and Nigeria have also been touched, but have not reported a new case in weeks.

Some have criticized the response to the outbreak as too slow and haphazard. Ebola was first identified in March in Guinea. But more recently promises of aid have poured in, with many countries committing to sending health care workers, building hospitals or providing much-needed supplies, like protective suits for doctors and nurses.

From the Japan Times, on the ground:

Beds, staff scarce in Ebola-hit Monrovia

The Island Clinic recently opened. By the next day, its 120 beds were full.

“As of Friday, we had 206 patients,” a spokesman for the U.N World Health Organization, which runs the center, said.

Like all the NGO-run Ebola centers in Liberia, the Island Clinic is under-resourced and overrun by demand, forced to fill in for a public health infrastructure that has been decimated by 14 years of civil war and grinding poverty.

“There is supposed to be a system to allow the patients to talk to their families while keeping a distance of several meters (yards) — but apparently it’s not up and running yet,” a clearly embarrassed WHO official there says.

More from CBC News:

Ebola outbreak: Liberia’s newest, largest treatment clinic already at capacity

  • CBC News was granted access to the Island Clinic in Monrovia

Liberia’s newest and largest Ebola treatment centre was desperately needed to combat the spread of the fatal virus, yet the facility has barely helped to stop the worst outbreak in recorded history.

The centre, known as Island Clinic, was exactly seven days old when CBC News toured the “green zone,” or safe zone, of the facility on Sunday. It has almost doubled the Ebola treatment capacity in Liberia’s capital city of Monrovia, a major urban centre overwhelmed by an exponentially increasing number of cases of the deadly virus.

When it opened, there were 120 beds available. Within hours, the clinic was already stretched — every space available filled with the city’s most frightened and seriously ill. Somehow, room was made for more patients and currently, by adding beds and sofas where possible, staff estimate the total number is likely closer to 200.

AllAfrica covers another facility in another country:

Sierra Leone: President Koroma Commissions Mobile Lab and Holding Centre

As Government continues to intensify its efforts in the fight against the Ebola virus disease (EVD), President Ernest Bai Koroma on Friday 26th September 2014, commissioned the BSL-3 mobile laboratory at the Sierra Leone-China Friendship Hospital at Jui.

The occasion also saw in attendance officials from the Ministries of Health and Sanitation and Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and experts from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Medical team from China.

President Koroma noted that the facility will increase the response time in sample throughput, especially during this trying moment of the Ebola outbreak and also create opportunities for capacity development of health workers in the country. With this, President Koroma urged Sierra Leoneans working at the Hospital to exploit the opportunities and develop their various capacities.

From the Guardian, a public health basic:

Media and communications: the first line of defence against Ebola

  • As well as healthworkers, journalists are on the frontline of the Ebola outbreak and have vital role in stopping the epidemic

Misinformation is hampering efforts to tackle the Ebola outbreak in west Africa as rumours and speculation exacerbate the epidemic. In such a climate, local media can help to save lives.

In recent weeks, fear and misunderstanding have claimed new kinds of victims, including the three journalists killed in Womme, Guinea, along with five health workers, after they were attacked by villagers so terrified of the disease that they feared any outsider could infect their village.

In Womme, a local policeman said villagers believe that Ebola is nothing more than an invention of white people, to kill black people.

On Monday, a Liberian official said misinformation is hampering efforts to tackle the outbreak there, citing rumours that an educational film shown to villagers is intended merely to distract people while officials literally poison the wells.

TheLocal.de encounters an obstacle:

Germany’s Ebola mission stranded in Gran Canaria

Germany’s military transport planes are causing embarrassment for yet another Bundeswehr mission. The military’s much-heralded delivery to help Ebola-stricken countries in western Africa has stalled in Gran Canaria.

The poor state of the Bundeswehr’s Transall planes led to delays last week to Germany’s delivery of arms and soldiers to northern Iraq. Two of the 50-year-old planes broke down.

And on Monday it emerged that a flight delivering medicine and field tents to Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone has been stuck in Gran Canaria since Friday.

The Transall C-160 plane has a defect and technicians and a replacement plane are being flown to the Spanish island.

Star Africa News covers another aid infusion:

China grants DRC $900,000 to fight Ebola

The Chinese government has disbursed $900,000 to help the Democratic Republic of Congo’s fight the Ebola epidemic, which has ravaged the north-east of the country, an official source informs APA on Sunday.A funding agreement was signed on Friday in Kinshasa between Congo’s International and Regional Cooperation vice-minister, Dismas Mangbengu and China’s ambassador to the DR Congo, Wang Ying Wu.

President Joseph Kabila, on Thursday claimed in an address at the 69th United Nations General Assembly that the Ebola epidemic has been contained in its area of origin, located in Djera sector, about 1,200 km from Kinshasa, in Equateur Province.

About forty people have died of the disease there.

From the Daily Monitor in Kampala, Uganda, aid from closer to hand:

35 train in handling Ebola cases

A team of health workers from East Africa have completed training in prevention and control of diseases, especially epidemics such as Ebola. Majority of them will be sent to West African countries to help to manage Ebola that has killed thousands of people.

The team of 35 personnel from Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Gambia, Ethiopia, South Sudan, as well as other participants from the US and UK were trained on infection prevention and control measures.

Twenty three of the participants said they were ready to be deployed in West Africa where they will be expected to train another 300 health workers.

Yet another alarm in Europe from TheLocal.se:

Fresh Ebola case investigated in Sweden

Doctors in Stockholm are checking a patient suspected of having contracted the Ebola virus.

The patient is understood to be at least the fifth case investigated in Sweden since the virus started spreading rapidly in Africa earlier this year.

They have been been transferred to the infectious diseases clinic at Karolinska University Hospital in Huddinge, according to news agency TT.

“Despite the fact that there were very low suspicions, we decided to take the test. We will get the answer within a day,” Åke Örtqvist, spokesperson for doctors dealing with infectious diseases in the Stockholm region.

Science covers a lamentation:

Ebola vaccine tests needlessly delayed, researchers claim

Stephan Becker is tired of waiting. The virologist at the University of Marburg in Germany is part of a consortium of scientists that is ready to do a safety trial of one of the candidate vaccines for Ebola. But the vaccine doses he’s supposed to test on 20 German volunteers are still in Canada. Negotiations with the U.S. company that holds the license for commercialization of the vaccine—which contains a gene for the Ebola surface protein stitched into a livestock pathogen known as vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV)—have needlessly delayed the start of the trial, Becker and several other scientists tell Science. “It’s making me mad, that we are sitting here and could be doing something, but things are not moving forward,” Becker says.

Today and tomorrow, Ebola scientists and representatives from companies and regulatory bodies are meeting at the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, to discuss how to speed up clinical development of vaccines, a process that normally takes years. More and more public health specialists believe that vaccines will have an important role to play in stopping the catastrophic outbreak in West Africa, which has so far caused at least 6553 cases and more than 3000 deaths in Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia. (Those are the reported numbers; the real toll is known to be much higher.)

Given the urgency, it’s inexplicable that one of the candidate vaccines, developed at the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) in Winnipeg, has yet to go in the first volunteer’s arm, says virologist Heinz Feldmann, who helped develop the vaccine while at PHAC. “It’s a farce; these doses are lying around there while people are dying in Africa,” says Feldmann, who now works at the Rocky Mountain Laboratories of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) in Hamilton, Montana.

And Punch Nigeria has help anticipated:

2,000 German volunteers expected in Africa over Ebola

Over 2,000 Germans have heeded the German government’s call to register as volunteers, indicating their readiness and availability for deployment to fight against Ebola outbreak in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, said AU in a statement on Monday.

German Foreign Minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, has informed AU Commission Chairperson, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, after the Chairperson briefed him on AU’s ongoing efforts to fight the disease.

The two officials met on the sidelines of the 69th UN General Assembly in New York, said the statement.

On to coverage of day to day life via the African media, starting with this from The Analyst in Liberia:

Bassa Ebola Toll Rises -Six Survivors Rejoin Families

Six persons who survived the Ebola virus in Grand Bassa County have been reunited with their families and communities, a county health official has disclosed. Speaking during the Ebola Task Force briefing held in Buchanan at the weekend, Joyce Garblah, a member of the County Health Team, said the six survivors who earlier tested positive with Ebola, were transferred to the Ebola Treatment Unit in Monrovia.

She said after undergoing treatment and observation, they were pronounced free of the virus and allowed to rejoin their families. Madam Garblah has disclosed that 26 confirmed Ebola deaths occurred in Grand Bassa County from July to September 26, 2014. She said out of the 26 confirmed Ebola deaths, 15 were males and 11 females, while 44 Ebola probable and suspected cases were recorded in the six districts of the county.

According to statistics, Buchanan District recorded 20, Owensgrove District six, District #One, seven; District #Two, six; District #Three, four and District #Four, one. Meanwhile, Garblah has disclosed that five samples taken to the National Diagnostic Lab in Marshall are awaiting results.

AllAfrica covers a process of elimination:

Liberia: Police Barrack Cleared

Some officers of the Liberia National Police (LNP) and their relatives, who were quarantined for 21 days at the Police Barracks on Camp Johnson Road as a result of the deadly Ebola virus, were last week Friday, September 26, 2014, declared free of the virus after intensive medical treatment and thorough observation by the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare in Monrovia.

Those police officers were quarantined along with their relatives at the Police Barracks on Camp Johnson Road after one of their colleagues’ wife died there as a result of the deadly Ebola virus.

The Director of the Liberia National Police, Clarence Massaquoi, disclosed that those officers along with their relatives, who were quarantined for 21 days in the Police Barracks did not complain, but were taking the preventive measures as prescribed by the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare in collaboration with the WHO.

From the New Republic in Liberia, political concerns:

Cape Mount Ebola Death Toll Troubles Caucus — Sen. Dagoseh

Grand Cape Mount County Senator Edward Dagoseh says the County Legislative Caucus is concerned about the Ebola death rate in the county.

He disclosed that the caucus is formulating strategies to proffer to the County Task Force that will help avoid the further spread of Ebola and destruction of lives.

“The County Legislative Caucus is doing everything possible to seek financial and medical supplies, including PPEs and drugs, for health facilities in the county,” Senator Dagoseh told reporters in Garwular District at the weekend.

Senator Dagoseh is, meanwhile, appealing to health workers in the county to return to work so that health facilities that have been shut down as a result of the Ebola outbreak will re-open to provide services to the people.

The Analyst covers an epidemiological spread in Liberia:

1st Ebola Case Confirmed in Gbarpolu County

Gbarpolu County has registered its first case of the Ebola disease with a 14-year-old boy confirmed positive with the virus. Medical authorities in the county told the Liberia news Agency that the boy contracted the virus from his father who reportedly died of the disease in Parker Farm in Gbarma District.

The authorities said several family members of the boy, including his mother, have been quarantined in the same area by the County Ebola Task Force to avoid the spread of the disease to other parts of the county.

According to the Task Force, the boy was confirmed Ebola positive when the result from his blood specimen test was received by medical authorities working with the Task Force recently. The authorities said modalities are being worked out by the Task Force to have the boy transferred to the new Ebola Center at the old Island Clinic on the Bushrod Island for treatment.

New Republic covers help from another quarter:

Agriculture Ministry Joins Ebola Fight

The Ministry of Agriculture (MOA), has disclosed that it has embarked on a nationwide Ebola awareness campaign aimed at helping to eradicate the virus.

In a statement, the Assistant Director of Communications, Ken Kumeh said the outbreak is a national disaster that requires the collective efforts of each and every Liberian regardless of status, religion or political affiliation, indicating that, “the disease does not discriminate.”

Mr. Kumeh said as part of the ministry’s campaign, it last month donated two heavy duty trucks and several food items to the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare.

And for our final item, CCTV Africa has the not-unexpected:

Ebola: Liberians Turn To God for Healing

Program note:

A Plague from God. More Liberians have been expressing their fear of Ebola. They say it is affecting the fabric of society and despite warnings to stay away from public gatherings, Liberians are turning to religion for comfort.

American drones, making children fear blue sky


Yes, John Oliver’s done it again, creating a superb piece of journalistic comedy, this time with a focus on the impact of American drone strikes — yet another domain in which the President of Hope™ and Change™ has managed to surpass the bloody-mindedness of his predecessor.

And his hook, the image that coalesces all the graphics, words, and Strangelovian humor, comes in the words of children in lands where drones reap their capricious body counts, children who fear blue skies and Predators roam freely and embrace clouds and fog, when the airborne killers are blinded.

From HBO’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver:

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Drones

Program notes:

The United States has launched a huge number of drone strikes under President Obama.

It’s widely accepted and extremely terrifying.