Category Archives: Community

MexicoWatch: Shootings, parents, rage, pols

We begin with another shooting, first from teleSUR:

Mexican Students Shot by Police

  • One student was shot in the leg and another grazed by a bullet, according to early reports.

At least two people were shot Saturday as an individual alleged to be a police officer fired on students at the Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) who were meeting to discuss their participation in the upcoming national strike.

One student was shot in the leg while another was grazed by a bullet, although both of them are in stable condition, according to early reports.

The incident occurred around 13:00 pm (local time), when a group of soldiers and federal police officers occupied the entrance of the iconic university as students held a meeting on the national strike called for November 20 in protest of the disappearance of 43 students of the Ayotzinapa teachers’ training college.

According to eyewitnesses, a car of the Office of the General Prosecutor (PGR) parked outside of the auditorium where the meeting took place, with four armed men getting out of the car. A number of the students asked them to leave the grounds before one of men from the car opened fire on the group.

The four individuals managed to escape in a taxi and left the car in the parking lot.

Photos of an injured student from the Pugrider Tumblr:

BLOG Mexico student

The accompanying text:

Around noon, members of the PGJ (Procuraduría General de Justicia. Like, special cops) entered the UNAM, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, which, as it’s name says, is autonomous, so the police has no right to go in and, well, do their job. It’s out of their jurisdiction.

The problem started when these agents were seen taking pictures of some students, (who may have been pacifical anarchists, but were doing nothing at the moment) when these students asked them what were the photos for, they started running. A group of people, including more students, followed them, either to stop them or make them leave, but one of the agents took out a gun and started shooting. Several times. Hitting a student in the leg, and even a dog. Luckily, no one else. Now outside of the University, a couple of these ‘cops’ fled in a cab, while a third one, the one who shot, was arrested by the regular Police Department itself.

Later, members of this Police Department (Public Safety Secretary) went to University grounds (once again, they can’t do this) and, in an attempt of getting students out of where the morning shooting happened, a violent conflict started. The Police retreated but is still in the outside of the University.

Please share this, what we want is to make some noise about our situation. We won’t remain silent about how we’ve constantly been opressed for no reason. Not anymore.

Mexico City, November 15, 2014.

More from teleSUR:

Mexico University Rector Allegedly Aiding Student Repression

  • The case of the 43 missing students has mobilized university students in numbers not seen in many years and the state is responding with repression

Alberto Bravo, a professor at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) told teleSUR in an exclusive interview that the President of UNAM, Jose Narro is, “complicit not only in the repression that occurred this past Saturday but also in other incidents where police have entered the campus.”

Bravo also told teleSUR that Narro, “maintains close ties with the [governing] Institutional Revolutionary Party,” and that as a result he works to preserve the image of the government. He also stated that, “inside the university there are many complaints regarding police harassment and there are many infiltrators.” He added that these complaints have not been pursued and those who speak out against the authorities face intimidation tactics.

On Saturday, police from the office of the Attorney General of the Federal District shot and injured two students. The shooter arrived alongside 3 other officers and university police at the Che Guevara auditorium and began photographing the students at which point they were told to leave, the shooter then took out a gun and fired.

But it’s not just students who have been protesting. Teachers are taking to the streets as well, as CNN reports:

Teachers of missing students riot

Program notes:

With little developments in the mystery of 43 missing students in Guerrero, Mexico, the community is outraged.

From Reuters, more blowback for the abduction of the 43:

Main Mexico leftist party on verge of dissolution, leader says

The elder statesman of Mexico’s main leftist party said on Sunday the group was on the verge of falling apart after a series of mistakes and the disappearance of 43 students in a state it runs in the southwest of the country.

Three-times presidential candidate Cuauhtemoc Cardenas said the opposition Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), which finished runner-up in Mexico’s last two presidential elections, had lost its moral authority and needed urgent reform.

The PRD, which Cardenas helped found in 1989, rules Guerrero state and the city of Iguala, where the government said 43 trainee teachers were abducted by police on the night of Sept. 26 and apparently handed over to a drug gang and killed.

A president besieged, via the Guardian:

Mexico’s president faces wave of fury across country over fate of missing student teachers

The brutal killing of 43 students has become a national cause, and the government’s inaction and perceived disdain risk a social explosion and political instability

The pent-up fury of the parents reflected the intensity of the violent protests that marked a dramatic week in Mexico, which has deepened the political crisis facing President Enrique Peña Nieto as he returns from a week-long trip to China and Australia, seen by many as a sign of disdain for the suffering and anger at home.

The most significant thing the president said during his trip was on an outward stopover in Alaska, when he condemned an arson attack on the door of the ceremonial presidential palace in Mexico City. “Mexican society says no to violence,” he said, referring to the burning door. “We say yes to justice, order, harmony, tranquillity, and we say yes to the application of justice.”

The president made no mention of the fact that, immediately before the door was set on fire, the streets of the capital were filled with thousands of peaceful demonstrators. Many had carried banners proclaiming “ya me cansé”, which means “I’m tired” or “I’ve had enough”. The phrase was used by the attorney general, Jesús Murillo Karam, to cut short questions at the end of a press conference two days earlier, in which he had revealed the government’s new claim that the students were probably massacred in a rubbish tip not far from Iguala, hours after they had been arrested by municipal police and handed over to a local drug gang called Guerreros Unidos on 26 September.

And an inconvenient complication, via Reuters:

Mexican president promises answers on tainted luxury home

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto said late on Saturday the government would next week give answers about a luxury house acquired by his wife that has raised questions about the ethical standards of his administration.

Days after the government canceled a $3.75 billion rail contract won in an uncontested bid by a Chinese-led consortium, local media reports identified the property as linking one of the Mexican partners in the group to Pena Nieto.

Reports about the house have swelled a recent tide of public anger about the government, which has been under heavy fire for its management of the disappearance of 43 students in the southwest of the country in late September.

And from teleSUR, presidential thuggery:

Mexican President Warns of Further Force Against Protestors

  • At a press conference, Enrique Peña Nieto said he will address corruption allegations this week and issued a warning over protests demanding justice in the case of the 43 missing the Ayotzinapa protesters

Mexican President Peña Nieto has said that while he will try to establish a dialogue with protesters demanding justice over the 43 missing students but warned that the state will use force “when all other mechanisms to restore order have been exhausted.”

His remarks, during a Saturday night press conference, came just hours after the police in the capital shot and injured two students at a meeting planning solidarity events for the 43. Later 500 heavily-armed police forcefully entered the campus of the university, provoking clashes with students.

Peña Nieto condemned the violent acts of some protesters during recent weeks, although, he said that the government understands the pain and concern of the Mexican population for the atrocities carried out in Ayotzinapa.

While the Latin American Herald Tribune voices neoliberal anxiety:

Mexico’s Central Bank: “Social Developments” Could Hurt Investor Confidence

Recent “social developments” in Mexico could have an adverse impact on investor confidence, the central bank said, according to the minutes of its most recent policy meeting.

Although the Bank of Mexico did not mention any event in particular, all indications are the monetary authority was referring to the case of 43 missing teacher trainees in the southern state of Guerrero – which has made headlines worldwide – and nationwide protests demanding their safe return.

That perception stems from statements Thursday by Finance Secretary Luis Videgaray, who pointed to the potential negative repercussions of the missing students’ case on the national economy.

And CNN turns the focus on those most impacted by the crimes of Iguala:

Crying for justice, clinging to hope: The parents of Mexico’s missing 43

In parental torment over what became of his son and 42 other missing Mexican students, Isrrael Galindo rejects official accounts they apparently were massacred. He hopes that somehow his son and the others are still alive.

“I think they have him arrested or locked up. I don’t know where he is, but if I knew, I would go get him,” Galindo said of Israel, 19, his namesake son with a different spelling.

“I want him to know that I love him,” he added, beginning to weep. “I want him alive.”

Anguish overwhelms Galindo and grows daily, ever since the aspiring primary school teachers disappeared September 26 in a violent clash with police during a political protest that also left six people dead, including three other students.

More on the parents, from Reuters:

Parents of Mexico missing students lead rally

Program notes:

Parents of 43 students who have gone missing in Mexico lead rallies demanding the government bring back their children alive. Yiming Woo reports.

And to close, via the Associated Press, a judicial story:

Mexico begins court proceeding in other crimes for mayor investigated in missing students case

A federal judge has opened a court proceeding against the former mayor of a southern Mexico city in crimes that preceded the case of 43 missing students from a teachers’ college.

The Federal Judiciary Council said in a statement late Saturday that Jose Luis Abarca has been charged with organized crime, the kidnapping of seven people and the killing of another in crimes that occurred before the students disappeared. Abarca was mayor of Iguala, in Guerrero state, when the students went missing.

Abarca has been behind bars since he and his wife, Maria de los Angeles Pineda, were arrested Nov. 4 in a crowded Mexico City neighborhood.

InSecurityWatch: War, spooks, cops, hacks, more

A lot more.

First, from Al Jazeera English:

UN: ISIL committing war crimes in Syria

Massacres, beheadings, torture, sexual enslavement and forced pregnancy being carried out by group, investigators say.

Fighters from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) are committing war crimes and crimes against humanity on a large scale in areas under the group’s control in Syria, UN investigators say.

In its first report focused squarely on acts by ISIL, the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria presented on Friday a horrifying picture of what life is like in areas controlled by the group, including massacres, beheadings, torture, sexual enslavement and forced pregnancy.

“The commanders of ISIS have acted wilfully, perpetrating these war crimes and crimes against humanity with clear intent of attacking persons with awareness of their civilian or ‘hors de combat’ (non-combat) status,” the report said, using an alternate acronym for ISIL.

“They are individually criminally responsible for these crimes.”

The view from Canada, via CBC News:

Inside ISIS: Calgary man’s picture found in documents revealing underbelly of extremist group

  • CBC is first North American broadcaster to view secret files obtained by German TV from Iraqi forces

The face of a Calgary man who drove a bomb-laden car into an Iraqi military base outside Baghdad last November, killing 46 people, appears amid a treasure trove of documents and videos that lay bare the bureaucratic underbelly of ISIS.

The documents and videos provide a new weapon for coalition forces fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Coalition forces obtained the documents, videos and 160 USB keys after Iraqi special forces hunted and killed the group’s top commander, Abu Abdul-Rahman al-Bilawi, in early June.

Collateral damage from the New York Times:

Strikes by U.S. Blunt ISIS but Anger Civilians

American airstrikes on the Syrian city of Raqqa, the vaunted capital of the Islamic State’s self-proclaimed caliphate, have scattered its fighters and disrupted the harsh system they had imposed, residents and visitors there say. But they see no gratitude toward the United States.

Rather, they suggested in interviews, many people are angry at the Americans. Food and fuel prices in Raqqa have soared, power blackouts have prevailed, and order is now threatened by a vacuum of any authority.

For all their violence and intolerance toward disbelievers, the fighters of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, at least functioned as a government, providing basic services and some semblance of stability.

And about that ISIS social infrastructure. . .from Deutsche Welle:

Documents reveal extensive bureaucratic structures in Islamic State

IS has set up a complex bureaucratic infrastructure that includes health care and social benefits in territories it has seized. Secret documents obtained by German media outlets shed light on the group’s inner workings.

Documents obtained by German public radio and television broadcasters NDR and WDR along with German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung detail the complex bureaucratic system set up by the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS) terrorist group.

The documents, which the reporters were allowed to peruse and copy in some cases, give extensive insight into the bureaucratic infrastructure IS has implemented in areas captured in Iraq and Syria. Among other things, they detail a complex health care and pension system, marriage benefits along with financial benefits to widows or wives of IS fighters captured in combat.

The report released on Friday points to IS’ seeing itself as more than just a militia: the jihad group fighting to install a caliphate in much of the Middle East sees itself as an actual state. Not only does the group have enough income – believed to be mostly from oil sales and ransom money – but it also has the bureaucratic infrastructure needed to run a caliphate.

More from Süddeutsche Zeitung itself:

‘Islamic State’: A Bureaucracy of Terror

  • Süddeutsche Zeitung, NDR and WDR examine confidential documents of the ‘Islamic State’

The terrorist organization ‘Islamic State’ (IS) has already begun building an extensive government structure. Internal IS documents examined by German public radio and television broadcasters NDR and WDR, and Germany’s leading broadsheet newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung detail IS’s extensive bureaucratic system. The documents (which the reporters were shown and in some cases able to copy) shed light on IS’s framework for health insurance, marriage benefits and support for the families of IS fighters who are killed or taken as prisoners.

The documents also contain extensive lists of names of fighters, detailed weapons purchases and the personnel records of suicide bombers. In a sort of index, IS leaders list “martyrs” who have been reassigned to suicide bomb missions. Most names on the list are accompanied by a phone number of a family member or friend who can be notified later. The documents show that many IS volunteers were assigned to suicide missions within just a week of their arrival in Iraq.

The documents provide an unprecedented insight into the radical Islamist organization that has seized territory in Syria and Iraq. The material analyzed dates from 2013 through early 2014 and relates almost exclusively to IS activity in Iraq. According to the Iraqi government, the documents were saved to memory sticks and hard drives which were obtained in a raid at high-ranking IS leader Abdul Rahman al-Bilawi’s hideout on June 5, 2014. At the time, al-Bilawi was second in command within IS and operated as ‘minister of war’, according to Iraqi sources. The UK’s Guardian newspaper reported on the documents in June. Since then the Iraqi government has made some of the documents available to NDR, WDR and Süddeutsche Zeitung.

Still more from the Guardian:

Isis to mint own Islamic dinar coins in gold, silver and copper

  • Islamic State to produce own currency for use in self-declared caliphate – as soon as it can locate a mint and enough metal

It has gathered its fortune through the tools of modern finance, but now Islamic State (Isis) aims to mint its own coins.

The move is reportedly the brain child of the Isis leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who has personally overseen the design of gold, silver and copper coins of the Islamic dinar to be used in his self-declared caliphate – as soon as the terror group can locate a mint and enough precious metals.

Isis has released designs of the coins and a breakdown of denominations. It claims the currency will free Muslims from a financial order that has “enslaved and impoverished” them. But it isn’t totally eschewing the mainstream economy, acknowledging that each coin’s worth will reflect the metal’s value on commodities markets.

Seeking a disconnect with the McClatchy Washington Bureau:

In Australia, Obama looks for help cutting cash flow to Islamic State

President Barack Obama arrived in Australia on Saturday looking for help on one of the most difficult tasks in the fight against the Islamic State: cutting off the millions of dollars flowing to one of the world’s best-funded terrorist organizations.

Obama made some progress in previous stops this week in China and Myanmar (formerly Burma).

In China, Obama and his counterpart, President Xi Jinping, agreed to work together on “cracking down on terrorist funding networks.” In Myanmar, the 18 leaders of the East Asia Summit reaffirmed in a statement their support to help combat the Islamic State, including its financing.

From the Associated Press, troubles:

West-backed Syria rebels shaken on multiple fronts

During a key battle in the rugged mountains of a northern province earlier this month, U.S.-backed Syrian rebels collapsed before an assault by al-Qaida fighters. Some surrendered their weapons. Others outright defected to the militants.

A detailed account of the battle in Idlib, from a series of interviews with opposition activists by The Associated Press, underscores how the moderate rebels that Washington is trying to boost to fight the Islamic State group are instead hemorrhaging on multiple fronts.

They face an escalated assault by Islamic extremists, which activists say are increasingly working together to eliminate them. At the same time, a string of assassinations has targeted some of their most powerful commanders.

“This is the end of the Free Syrian Army,” said Alaa al-Deen, an opposition activist in Idlib, referring to Western-backed rebel groups. “It’s the beginning of an Islamic emirate.”

From Reuters, cockeyed optimist?:

U.S. military chief says battle with IS starting to turn

The United States’ top military officer told American troops on a surprise visit to Baghdad on Saturday that the momentum in the battle with Islamic State was “starting to turn”, but predicted a drawn-out campaign lasting several years.

General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was visiting Iraq for the first time since President Barack Obama responded to Islamic State advances this summer by ordering troops back into a country they left in 2011.

Hours earlier, an Iraqi army colonel said security forces appeared close to retaking the country’s biggest refinery at Baiji, which has been under siege for months by Islamic State militants.

From the Washington Post, well, gollleeee:

U.S. weighs expanded CIA training, arming of Syrian allies struggling against Assad

The Obama administration has been weighing plans to escalate the CIA’s role in arming and training fighters in Syria, a move aimed at accelerating covert U.S. support to moderate rebel factions while the Pentagon is preparing to establish its own training bases, U.S. officials said.

The proposed CIA buildup would expand a clandestine mission that has grown substantially over the past year, U.S. officials said. The agency now vets and trains about 400 fighters each month — as many as are expected to be trained by the Pentagon when its program reaches full strength late next year.

The prospect of expanding the CIA program was on the agenda of a meeting of senior national security officials at the White House last week. A White House spokesman declined to comment on the meeting or to address whether officials had reached a decision on the matter.

Meanwhile. . .from Xinhua, the Spring has sprung:

Death toll in Libya’s Benghazi clashes rises to 356

Another 16 people were killed in violent clashes between Libyan army and Islamic militants in the eastern city of Benghazi on Sunday, adding the total death toll to 356, sources said.

“The center has received 16 dead bodies killed in clashes and random shooting on Sunday,” a medical source in Benghazi medical center said.

The Libyan army, reinforced by gunmen loyal to retired Major- General Khalifa Haftar, has been waging a street war against Islamic militants in Libya’s second city Benghazi since mid- October, in an attempt to regain control of the city, which fell into the hands of Islamists last July.

Rebooting the big bang, from the Los Angeles Times:

Major overhaul of nuclear force planned to improve security and morale

Stung by a series of scandals in the nation’s nuclear force, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced plans Friday to overhaul its management, calling for billions of dollars to upgrade equipment, improve training, increase oversight and address security lapses and poor morale.

Speaking at the Pentagon and later in this snow-dusted base that is home to a fleet of B-52 bombers and missiles with nuclear warheads, Hagel said that sweeping changes were needed to address problems that could undermine the safety, security and effectiveness of the nation’s nuclear arsenal.

Disclosures of cheating on tests, drug use, violations of security rules and lax supervision have rocked the Pentagon’s nuclear force over the last two years. The Air Force has fired at least two nuclear commanders and disciplined others.

More from the Guardian:

US nuclear force reviews find security flaws and poor leadership

  • Defence secretary, Chuck Hagel, to order major changes and billions in extra funding to improve management of arsenal

The reviews – one by Pentagon officials and the other by outside experts – concluded that the structure of US nuclear forces was so incoherent that it could not be properly managed in its current form, and that this explained why top-level officials were often unaware of problems below them.

The officials said the reviews found a “disconnect” between what nuclear force leaders said and what they delivered to lower-level troops who executed the missions in the field.

To illustrate the extent of decay in the intercontinental ballistic missile force, the reviews found that maintenance crews used to have access to only one set of tools required to tighten bolts on the warhead end of the Minuteman III missile, and that this toolset was being used by crews at all three ICBM bases, in North Dakota, Wyoming and Montana. They had to share it via Federal Express delivery, the officials said. The crews now had one tool set at each base.

The reviews also found that a combination of problems amounted to fundamental flaws rather than random or periodic slip-ups, the officials said. The nuclear forces were currently meeting the demands of the mission but were finding it increasingly difficult to cope.

From the New York Times shrinks, self-shrinking:

Psychologists to Review Role in Detainee Interrogations

The nation’s largest organization of psychologists will conduct an independent review into whether it colluded with or supported the government’s use of torture in the interrogation of prisoners during the Bush administration.

The American Psychological Association said in a statement released late Wednesday that its board had named David H. Hoffman, a Chicago lawyer, to conduct the review.

For years, questions about the role of American psychologists and behavioral scientists in the development and implementation of the Bush-era interrogation program have been raised by human rights advocates as well as by critics within the psychological profession itself. Psychologists were involved in developing the enhanced interrogation techniques used on terrorism suspects by the Central Intelligence Agency. Later, a number of psychologists, in the military and in the intelligence community, were involved in carrying out and monitoring interrogations.

Intrusive neighbors, from VICE News:

More Drones on US Borders Create Privacy Concerns for Its Neighbors

The US will soon launch widespread drone surveillance on its border with Canada, after blanketing half its border with Mexico with the unmanned aerial vehicles in place of border patrol agents.

But the drones — which officials told VICE News cost $10 million each and take high-resolution videos while soaring over remote areas — violate people’s right to privacy and will further “militarize” the line between the US and Canada, analysts told VICE News.

“This creates a virtual wall between the countries,” Don Alper, the director of Western Washington University’s Center for Canadian-American Relations and Border Policy Research Institute, told VICE News. “It doesn’t make sense to me. There are other ways of security, like close cooperation between Canadian and American enforcement — and they already do cooperate really well.”

Ditto, via Reuters:

Sweden says has proof of foreign submarine intrusion in October

Sweden has proof that a small foreign submarine was operating illegally in its waters last month, its top military officer said on Friday after a mysterious episode that triggered the country’s biggest military mobilization since the Cold War.

More than 200 troops, stealth ships and helicopters scoured Baltic waters off the capital Stockholm in October after reports of foreign “underwater activity”, but without finding or bringing to the surface any submarine.

“The military can confirm that a small U-boat breached Sweden’s territorial waters. We can exclude all alternative explanations,” the head of Sweden’s armed forces, General Sverker Goransson, told a news conference.

After the jump, Washington deploys its naval ray guns, Germany’s costly deployment, a post-Snowden Humint preference, spy versus spy in Israel, apprehension in Ferguson, a Border Patrol backshooter named, a polygraphic cheating teacher busted, Marvel’s warriors recruited by Spanish cops, British cyberbullying soars, malware targets Europe’s governments, China busts malware makers, Spain moving on Palestinian recognition, Israeli issues lifetime ban on humanitarian surgeon, cultural hubris from the Turkish president, a Pakistani denial of a Washington allegation, kiss-ins challenge Indian moral police, the unspeakable spoken in Myanmar, on to Hong Kong and Occupy leaders rebuffed, Obama voices a challenge to China, China complains of U.S. spy flights, China announces streaming media bans, China shows off drones and rockets, Xi wants tighter Aussie ties and a maritime code of conduct, Japan sides with Washington as it continues retooling remilitarization, adopting a new anti-terror law, Okinawa’s likely next governor opposes U.S. base relocation, plus enhancing enhancement for enhancements. . . Continue reading

EbolaWatch: Hope, fear, aid, drugs, & more

Lots of ground to cover as we’ve been under the weather, so we begin on the lighter side with a report from AJ+:

An Anti-Love Song To Ebola

Program notes:

A collective of all-star African singers, including Amadou and Mariam, wrote an awareness song about Ebola. Many artists come from counties with the virus like Guinea, Senegal and now Mali, which just confirmed its second Ebola death. The song encourages listeners to take Ebola seriously and to trust doctors: an important message for communities that are skeptical of western medicine and don’t believe in the disease. The crew includes Tiken Jah Fakoly, Amadou & Mariam, Salif Keita, Oumou Sangare, Kandia Kora, Mory Kante, Sia Tolno, Barbara Kanam and rappers Didier Awadi, Marcus and Mokobe.

Next, via the Guardian, America’s newest Ebola case is faring badly:

Ebola doctor at Nebraska hospital, ‘critically ill’ and sicker than other US patients

  • Martin Salia, from Sierra Leone, is a permanent US resident
  • Hospital spokesman: doctor may receive experimental therapy

A surgeon who contracted Ebola while working in Sierra Leone is in critical condition and possibly sicker than any patient to arrive in the US from the disease-ravaged region of west Africa, a spokesman from the Nebraska hospital where he is being treated said on Saturday.

Dr Martin Salia, a permanent US resident, arrived in Omaha on Saturday afternoon, having left Freetown on Friday by air ambulance. He was immediately transported to Nebraska medical center, where he will undergo treatment. An update on his condition was expected later on Saturday evening, spokesman Taylor Wilson told the Guardian.

“He is critically ill, a good deal sicker than our previous patients, and perhaps sicker than any patient that has been transported from west Africa,” Wilson said earlier.

The Hill confronts an enigma:

CDC still mystified by Ebola infections in Dallas

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is still unsure how two nurses in Dallas contracted Ebola from their patient, according to early findings from the agency’s investigation.

CDC officials interviewed nearly 150 healthcare workers in Dallas while trying to learn how the disease spread from the first patient, Thomas Eric Duncan.

The investigation was ordered by President Obama about one month ago after CDC said it did not know how two of Duncan’s nurses became infected while wearing government-approved protective gear. Both nurses had no “reported exposures” in their gear.

The report, which was released Friday, provides little new information about the cases.

From Reuters, a mixed report:

Mali rushes to contain Ebola outbreak, Liberia signals progress

Mali is rushing to impose tougher measures to contain the spread of Ebola after recording a new case of the disease in the West African nation’s capital, health officials said on Thursday.

The world’s worst epidemic of the haemorrhagic fever on record has killed at least 5,160 people since it erupted in March in West Africa, a region dogged by poverty and poor healthcare. It has ravaged Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea and spurred a global watch for its spread.

Liberia, the country hardest hit by the outbreak, announced it would not renew a state of emergency, highlighting at least some recent progress in neutralising the virus there.

Numbers from StarAfrica:

Mali: At least 5 dead, 256 quarantined in second Ebola wave

At least five people have died from Ebola in Mali with one health professional currently being treated and 356 people under observation, according to the latest assessment report of the situation issued Friday by the Malian Health and Public Hygiene minister. Three of deaths are related to contact with 66-year-old Guinean Ebola-affected who succumbed to the deadly virus late October in Bamako-based clinic Pasteur where he had been admitted for kidney insufficiency.

Prior to that a two-year-old girl, the first Ebola confirmed case in Mali died in the Kayes region, where she had been taken from Guinea by her grandmother for treatment.

Those currently isolated include 22 United Nations peacekeepers suspected of getting in touch with the Guinean patient at the Clinic Pasteur.

The latest numbers, via the World Health Organization:

BLOG Ebola cases

From AllAfrica, about damn time:

U.S. Proposes Major Debt Relief for Ebola-Hit Countries

The United States proposed Tuesday that the international community write off 100 million dollars in debt owed by West African countries hit hardest by the current Ebola outbreak. The money would be re-invested in health and other public programming.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew will be detailing the proposal later this week to a summit of finance ministers from the Group of 20 (G20) industrialised countries. If the idea gains traction among G20 states, that support should be enough to approve the measure through the International Monetary Fund (IMF), where the United States is the largest voting member.

“The plan is for that money to be re-invested in social infrastructure, including hospitals and schools … to deal with the short-term problem of Ebola but also the long-term failure of the health systems that allowed for this outbreak.” — Jubilee USA’s executive director Eric LeCompte.

From StarAfrica, a plea to high places:

G20 leaders petitioned over Ebola crisis

Several international NGOs and charity organizations have issued a joint petition calling on world leaders at the G20 summit in Australia to act immediately to mobilize a robust intervention and roll back the spread of the Ebola epidemic.Friday’s petition from Amnesty International, Oxfam International, Plan International, Save the Children and WaterAid said the G20 must ensure that all the personnel, equipment and funding required to halt the outbreak are made available without any discrimination.

The five organizations have been active in efforts to rein in the epidemic in the three worst affected countries of Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia where the outbreak has killed over 5000 people since March.

The petition has been signed by 165,490 people around the world to demonstrate solidarity with communities affected by the Ebola outbreak while warning G20 leaders that the window to stop the outbreak from spiralling out of control is closing fast.

Jiji Press covers subsequent lip service:

G-20 Leaders Resolved to Contain Ebola Crisis

The Group of 20 world leaders issued a joint statement on Saturday expressing their determination to contain the Ebola crisis in West Africa as they began a two-day gathering here the same day.

The G-20 members, including Japan and the United States, are “committed to do what is necessary to ensure the international effort can extinguish the outbreak and address its medium-term economic and humanitarian costs,” the leaders said in the statement.

Noting that they are “deeply concerned” about the outbreak in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, the leaders applauded the contributions from nations worldwide and such organizations as the United Nations and the World Health Organization.

A pledge, via the Guardian:

IMF to provide $300m in extra funding to help fight Ebola

  • G20 summit reaffirms commitment to fighting crisis in west Africa as IMF says Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia will receive help in form of loans, debt relief and grants

The G20 has welcomed a commitment from the IMF to provide $300m (£190m) in extra funding to help fight Ebola in the three worst-affected west African countries.

The IMF money for Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia will come through “a combination of concessional loans, debt relief, and grants”, according to a statement issued by the world leaders’ summit, being held in Brisbane.

The G20 also claimed to be “committed to do what is necessary to ensure the international effort can extinguish the outbreak”, while pointedly urging “governments that have yet to do so to join in providing financial contributions, appropriately qualified and trained medical teams and personnel, medical and protective equipment, and medicines and treatments”.

Another pledge, via the Liberia News Agency:

West Africa: EU Commits Support to Eradicating Ebola in the Region – Pledges 600 M

  • Monrovia — Euros To Ebola Fight in West Africa

The European Union has pledged an initial €600 million to scale-up to about €1 billion by the end of this year its assistance to contain the Ebola outbreak in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

This was disclosed Thursday by the EU Director of Humanitarian and Civil Protection Operations (DG ECHO), Jean-Louis DE Brower who is heading a delegation dispatched to Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone to get from the governments and partners an update on the Ebola outbreak. The EU delegation also informed governments of the affected countries and the global community on building upon the interventions already in place.

The delegation made the disclosure Thursday during discussions held with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf at her Foreign Ministry office in Monrovia.

From the McClatchy Washington Bureau, not-so-innocent bystanders:

As Ebola fight grows, some countries are noticeably absent

One international aid group, Oxfam, this week launched a name-and-shame campaign that calls out powerful nations that haven’t contributed to the efforts.

Shannon Scribner, Oxfam America’s humanitarian policy manager, named Argentina, Indonesia, Mexico, Saudi Arabia and Turkey as nations that hadn’t contributed. Other countries that have donated but “could do more,” Scribner said, include France, Italy, India, Japan, Russia and Brazil.

“It’s really unacceptable,” Scribner said Wednesday on a media conference call arranged by InterAction, an umbrella group for humanitarian nonprofits. “A lot of pledges, but that doesn’t help people on the ground unless it turns into commitments.”

“We cannot afford to let up, and we cannot afford to do this alone,” Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., said Thursday at a congressional hearing on the Ebola response. “Containment will fail in the absence of a robust international effort. Other donors and the U.N. need to step up, just as we’re stepping up.”

From the Guardian, self-criticism:

Ebola: Médecins Sans Frontières critical of its own delays

  • Aid group’s vaccine appeal came too late and its reliance on past strategies was inadequate, says internal thinktank

The emergency aid group’s response to the epidemic, which has so far killed more than 5,000 people, has been praised by governments and the World Health Organisation. While western donors dithered and other aid groups pulled out, MSF deployed hundreds to the Ebola “hot zones” and treated more than 3,000 patients.

But the group relied too much on strategies it developed during smaller previous Ebola outbreaks, leading it to make mistakes as this year’s epidemic pushed it to its limits, said Jean-Hervé Bradol, a member of MSF’s internal thinktank.

“Our response was too orientated toward the management of previous outbreaks,” Bradol, of the Paris-based Centre For Reflection on Humanitarian Action, told Reuters, adding that MSF’s public appeal for vaccine development in September came months too late.

On to the pharmaceutical front, first with the Associated Press:

WHO sees few promising Ebola drugs in pipeline

A top official with the U.N. health agency says few experimental therapies are currently under development that could effectively treat Ebola.

Dr. Martin Friede, who is in charge of the World Health Organization’s work toward finding an Ebola drug, says scientists have proposed lots of experimental interventions but none has been thoroughly evaluated yet.

“We don’t have a lot of drugs in our pipeline that look promising,” said Friede, program leader for WHO’s technology transfer initiative. His comments follow a WHO-sponsored meeting of medical experts this week on how to test potential Ebola drugs in Africa.

Friede told reporters Friday in Geneva that “people are using all kinds of therapies” for the deadly virus without evidence they’re effective or safe.

From Nikkei Asian Review, thar’s gold in them thar ills:

Fujifilm has a lot riding on a flu drug it says is effective against Ebola

A Fujifilm Holdings influenza drug appears to be effective in fighting Ebola, the virus that has been wreaking havoc in West Africa and freaking out people all over the world.

The Japanese company best known for its photographic film diversified into the medical business six years ago.

Toyama Chemical, now a Fujifilm group company, is rushing to deliver additional shipments of Avigan, also known as favipiravir. It has a stockpile of the drug for 20,000 Ebola patients and aims to produce an amount sufficient for 300,000 people within this month.

Digital cameras began disrupting the photographic film business, and Fujifilm realized it had to diversify into new fields. It set its sights on the drug business even though it knew it could not compete with major pharmaceuticals by copying their business models. Fujifilm decided to focus on three illnesses — cancer, dementia and infectious diseases — and began searching for novel treatments.

Testing profitably, via CBC News:

Ebola vaccine clinical trial in Halifax overwhelmed with volunteers

Study looking for healthy people between the ages of 18 and 65 and will pay over $1,100

A clinical trial for Canada’s Ebola vaccine will take place in Halifax and there is no shortage of people wanting to participate.

The federal government announced Friday the experimental vaccine will be tested on a small group of people to assess its safety, determine the appropriate dosage and identify side effects.

The IWK Health Centre in Halifax was looking for 40 generally healthy people between the ages of 18 and 65, the hospital told CBC News.

And from the London Daily Mail, snake oil venom salesmen:

EXCLUSIVE: Homeopaths sent to deadly Ebola hotspot to treat victims with ARSENIC and SNAKE VENOM

  • Team spent days in remote Liberian hospital to prove that remedies work
  • They planned to treat victims with ‘rattlesnake venom’ and ‘Spanish Fly’
  • Boasted of the ‘unique opportunity’ presented by deadly Ebola outbreak
  • Claimed they would treat all European victims after proving success

Ebola victims in one of the hardest-hit parts of Liberia have been treated by homeopaths who are determined to prove that arsenic, rattlesnake venom and the aphrodisiac Spanish Fly can cure Ebola.

The homeopaths arrived in Liberia to use the deadly outbreak to prove their controversial theories and have already spent two weeks in the country with patients in a hospital in Ganta, in the north of the country near to the epicentre of the outbreak.

In letters and messages seen by Mail Online they revealed that the aim of their mission was to prove that homeopathy could treat Ebola.

Asian preparations from NHK WORLD:

Nurses participate in Ebola training workshop

Nurses in Japan have learned what to do if a patient suspected of being affected with Ebola visits a hospital.

No Ebola case has been confirmed in Japan, but there have been people who received health checks upon their arrival at Japanese airports from West Africa.

A training workshop was held in Tokyo on Friday. About 50 nurses and other medical workers took part. An infectious disease specialist explained what should be done if the hospital received a patient who has visited West Africa.

After the jump, on to Africa with the downside of survival and a border reopening, Liberia next and a warning from the UN, two new disease epicenters, negative economic consequences of the state of emergency and a official plea to continue emergency measures despite their official end, Chinese helpers arrive, a politician proposes a Liberian version of FEMA, and a European Union promise to rebuild the country’s shattered healthcare system thence to Sierra Leone and schools on the air, two superb video reports from a British journalist, and a local journalist is freed after he was jailed for criticizing the government’s handling of the crisis, an official end declared to the Democratic Republic of the Congo outbreak, and the curious case of con man hired to clean up after New York’s only Ebola case. . . Continue reading

EbolaWatch: Mali, medicine, pleas, and food

CNN covers the latest American imported case:

Nebraska hospital prepares for new Ebola patient

A surgeon who’s a Sierra Leone national and a legal permanent resident of the United States will be transported from Sierra Leone to the Nebraska Medical Center for treatment for Ebola, a government official familiar with the situation said.

The doctor is expected to arrive this weekend, most likely Saturday, the official said.

The official said it’s not known whether the doctor was working in an Ebola treatment unit or some other type of hospital. The surgeon is married to a U.S. citizen and has children, the official said.

From the Guardian, a legacy of sorts:

Texas Ebola victim’s fiancee to write memoir after signing book deal

  • Louise Troh will have book set for release in April about her relationship with Thomas Eric Duncan, who flew to Dallas from Liberia to marry her

The fiancee of the Liberian man who died of Ebola in Dallas last month has landed a book deal to write her memoir for a publishing company affiliated with movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, the company said on Thursday.

Louise Troh, 54, will have a book planned for release in April by Weinstein Books about her relationship with Thomas Eric Duncan, who flew from Liberia to Dallas in September to marry her.

Duncan became ill shortly after arriving and died on 8 October. He is the only person to have died from Ebola in the US.

On to Mali, where the toll has reached four, via Reuters:

Ebola death toll in Mali growing

Program notes:

World Health Organization officials say there are now four confirmed and probable Ebola deaths in Mali. Julie Noce reports.

More from StarAfrica:

Ebola: 22 UN peacekeepers in isolation at a clinic in Bamako

Twenty-two peacekeepers who may have had contact with two people who recently died of the Ebola virus, remained held in quarantine at a clinic in Bamako on Wednesday, according to several sources and the UN Mission in Mali (MINUSMA).

About 20 peacekeepers had been admitted over injuries at Pasteur clinic in Bamako where they were staying, at the same time with a 66 year old Guinean man who died of Ebola disease in October.

The Guinean, Sekou Goita, went to the clinic for kidney problems and during his treatment, he was tested positive of the Ebola virus but the officials at the clinic did not notify the Malian authorities.

The body of the dead man passed through a mosque in the capital before being repatriated to Guinea by ambulance. The nurse who took care of him died last Tuesday bringing to three the number of Ebola victims who have so far died in Mali.

Measures in Mali, via Reuters:

Mali toughens anti-Ebola checks at borders, Liberia signals progress

Mali announced tougher health checks at border crossings after registering its second Ebola outbreak, while Liberia on Thursday signalled progress in neutralising the virus by saying it would not renew a state of emergency.

The world’s worst ever epidemic of the haemorrhagic fever has infected more than 14,000 people and killed at least 5,160 since it erupted in March in West Africa, a region dogged by poverty and poor health care. It has ravaged Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea and spurred a global watch for its spread.

In Mali, which shares an 800-km (500-mile) border with Guinea, a nurse died of Ebola on Tuesday, and on Thursday a doctor at the same clinic was also revealed to be infected. More than 90 people had already been quarantined in the capital Bamako after the nurse’s death, just as a group exposed to Mali’s first case completed their required 21 days of isolation.

Returnees quarantined, via United Press International:

90 U.S. troops returning from Liberia monitored for Ebola

Ninety U.S. troops will undergo 21 days of Ebola monitoring when they arrive Thursday in Virginia from a deployment to Liberia, U.S. officials said

Ninety U.S. troops will undergo 21 days of Ebola monitoring when they arrive Thursday in Virginia from a deployment to Liberia, U.S. officials said.

The troops were scheduled to arrive at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, and though they are showing no signs of the deadly virus, they’ll be in quarantine for three weeks, Read Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, said.

A secluded area of the base called the Langley Transit Center was set up to house troops under quarantine.

Another hoax, via the Japan News:

Saitama man arrested over Ebola claim

Police in Saitama Prefecture arrested a man on Thursday for allegedly obstructing the work of a health care center after he claimed he was sick and may have recently visited Liberia, the center of an Ebola epidemic in West Africa.

The man, a 24-year-old resident in Moriyama in the prefecture, denied the charges, saying a friend used his mobile phone to make the claim.

From Voice of America, a media campaign:

Ebola Online Training

Program notes:

Since the beginning of the West Africa Ebola outbreak, health officials worldwide have sought to inform the general public about the virus that has killed some 5,000 people. Digital technology and the internet, when available, make this effort much easier. Doctors without Borders on Tuesday launched an online training program for its staff and others interested in fighting Ebola. VOA’s Zlatica Hoke has more.

IRIN reports a deficiency:

Ebola: Diagnostic capabilities need boosting

Critical gaps in “behind-the-scenes” infrastructure are hampering Ebola response times and containment efforts in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, aid agencies and health workers say.

In addition to the obvious need for more beds, medical equipment, and qualified doctors, nurses and lab technicians, they say the ability to quickly and accurately confirm or deny suspected Ebola cases is vital to getting this outbreak under control.

“The country really needs to ramp up its access to diagnostic capabilities,” said Alan Kemp, head of South Africa’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases, which is running a mobile laboratory at the Lakka Ebola Treatment Centre in Freetown. “And that’s not just for Sierra Leone, but for the whole West Africa region.”

From the Guardian, finally:

Ebola: experimental drug trials to go ahead in west Africa

  • Médecins Sans Frontières to start three trials in treatment centres run by volunteers in west Africa

Three trials of experimental Ebola drugs will start next month at treatment centres run by the volunteer doctors of Médecins Sans Frontières in west Africa.

The trials are unprecedented because they are being run during an epidemic and the drugs have not been through the conventional process of clinical trials in animals and healthy humans before being given to people who are sick. Also, drugs will not be withheld from a control group.

The trials have been set up with extraordinary speed in the hope that the drugs will cut the 70% death rate from the disease in west Africa. More than 5,000 people have died since the outbreak began in December.

More from the Japan Times:

Ebola treatment trial to use Japanese drug favipiravir

International medical aid organization Doctors Without Borders said Thursday that one of three clinical trials it will host in West Africa next month for treating Ebola patients will use an antiflu drug developed by a Japanese company.

Avigan, developed by a Fujifilm Holdings Corp. unit and known for its generic name favipiravir, will be used in a trial to be held in Gueckedou, southern Guinea, by the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research. The trial will cover some 200 patients.

The other two trials will involve convalescent whole blood and plasma therapy in Guinea and an antiviral drug developed by a U.S. company in another location.

From the Associated Press, allocation:

USAID urges emergency funds for Ebola hot spots

A U.S. official estimates there are 3,000 active cases of Ebola in West Africa, many in small clusters dotted throughout the countryside that require a more rapid and flexible response.

“This is a fast-moving and adaptable viral epidemic. We need to be fast-moving and adaptable,” Rajiv Shah, administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, told the House Foreign Affairs Committee Thursday.

Shah spoke as Congress considers the Obama administration’s request for $6.2 billion in emergency aid to fight Ebola in West Africa and shore up U.S. preparedness.

On to Sierra Leone, first with Britain’s Channel 4 News:

How British aid is helping Sierra Leone’s Ebola struggle

Program notes:

The number of Ebola cases is still rising – up by 200 since Friday – and it’s spreading fastest in Sierra Leone. Alex Thomson looks at the British aid efforts in Freetown.

The latest on an ongoing source of infection from StarAfrica:

Sierra Leone’s Ebola response officials promise safer burial methods

Officials at the National Ebola Response Center (NERC) in Sierra Leone have promised to ensure safe and dignified burial for victims as the country seeks yet to revise its strategy on the fight against the epidemic.

According to a recent UN report, while new cases were reducing in neighboring Liberia; until now the hardest hit by the West African Ebola epidemic, cases were increasing in Sierra Leone and Guinea.

For Sierra Leone, the situation has been blamed particularly on unsafe burials. People are reported to be defying advice by health officials against attending to dead bodies of their loved ones. But this has also been blamed for the attitude towards burial teams who have been accused of not only failing to respond on time, but also often do not dispose off bodies in manners acceptable to the public.

From the Washington Post, compounding tragedy:

As Ebola takes lives in Liberia, it leaves hunger in its wake

The Ebola virus, which has killed more than 2,830 Liberians and collapsed the country’s health-care system, is also attacking Liberia’s food supply, bringing intermittent hunger to a wide swath of this country even as its 4.1 million people try to survive the epidemic.

The typical family income, already among the lowest in the world, has declined as the epidemic raged in recent months, shutting workplaces and killing breadwinners. Closed borders with Sierra Leone, Guinea and Ivory Coast have sharply reduced trade. Markets in villages and towns across the country have been shut down to limit large gatherings, which can abet transmission of the virus.

The planting and harvesting seasons were disrupted when Ebola hit the farm belt in June.

“We need assistance. We need food here in Foya,” said Joseph Gbellie, commissioner for this rural, largely agricultural district in Liberia’s northwest. “If we don’t get help, it’ll be serious, I tell you.”

On to Liberia with BBC News:

Ebola outbreak: Liberia president lifts state of emergency

Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has lifted the state of emergency imposed to control an Ebola outbreak that has ravaged the country.

She said the move did not mean “the fight is over”, although numbers of new infections were no longer increasing.

In nationwide address, President Johnson Sirleaf said that night curfews would be reduced and weekly markets could take place across Liberia. She added that preparations were being made for the re-opening of schools.

StarAfrica adds a qualification:

Liberian leader relaxes curfew hours to midnight

Liberia President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has relaxed the curfew which previously ran from 9pm to 6am, to now run from 12 midnight to 6am.

In a nationwide address on radio and television Thursday, the Liberian leader however made it clear that residents living in what is considered “Ebola hotspots” will still have to abide by the 9pm to 6am curfew.

The Chief Executive said the adjustment in the curfew has been prompted by progress being made in the fight against Ebola, with recent reports of reduction in cases.

President Sirleaf however cautioned Liberians to note that the adjustment in the curfew does not mean that the fight against the virus has ended.

Finally, from the New York Times, changing tactics:

Health Officials Reassess Strategy to Combat Ebola in Liberia

As the rate of new Ebola infections in Liberia has slowed, American and Liberian officials are debating whether to build all 17 planned Ebola treatment centers in the country or to shift money from the Obama administration that was planned for the centers into other programs to combat future outbreaks.

The United States announced Monday that it had completed the first of the 100-bed centers, some 40 miles outside Monrovia, in Tubmanburg, and turned over its operation to the International Organization for Migration, which will staff and run the center.

Two other treatment units, in Sinje, to the north of Monrovia, and Buchanan, to the south, will be completed by the end of November, American military officials said. Seven additional treatment units across the country are in various stages of construction.

A 25-bed hospital recently opened outside Monrovia, and American and Liberian military officials are clearing the land for two more units. If all of them go ahead as planned, that would bring the total units built by the American and Liberian militaries working together on the project to 13, or four short of the units promised by President Obama on Sept. 16.

MexicoWatch: Anger, politics, findings, crimes

Lots to cover and little time to write, so we will begin with video reports, first in the form of two segments from Democracy Now!:

Mexico Burns as Outrage over Student Disappearances Sparks Protests Against State-Backed Violence

Program notes:

Protesters in the Mexican state of Guerrero have set fire to the local legislature as outrage spreads over the disappearance of 43 students. The students from Ayotzinapa teacher’s college have been missing for nearly seven weeks after they were ambushed by police. Unrest has intensified since Mexican Attorney General Jesús Murillo Karam announced Friday that suspects in the case have admitted to killing the students and incinerating their bodies at a trash dump. More than 70 people have been arrested in the case, including the mayor of Iguala, who is accused of ordering the police attack. Across Mexico, tens of thousands of people have taken to the streets in peaceful protests, while groups of demonstrators have laid siege to government buildings, burned cars and blocked highways. The parents of the missing students, meanwhile, have announced they will be traveling across parts of Mexico in three caravans to demand their loved ones’ return. We are joined from Chilpancingo, the capital of Guerrero state, by John Gibler, an author and independent journalist. “I don’t think it’s possible anymore to talk about corruption,” Gibler says. “What we have is two sectors of an industry that have fully merged — the police and the organized crime gangs themselves.”

And the second part:

Are Mexico’s Missing Students the Victims of U.S.-Backed Drug War?

Program notes:

Amidst outrage in Mexico over the disappearance of 43 students, we look at the U.S. role in the country’s violence. According to the Center for International Policy, the United States has spent approximately $3 billion to fund the so-called war on drugs in Mexico. Since the war on drugs began under President Felipe Calderón in 2006, more than 100,000 people have been killed in drug-related violence. That includes $2.4 billion in taxpayer funds through the Merida Initiative, launched as a three-year aid program for Mexican security forces under the administration of George W. Bush. The Obama administration has extended the Merida Initiative “indefinitely.” We are joined by Laura Carlsen, director of the Mexico City-based Americas Policy Program of the Center for International Policy, and journalist John Gibler.

And from France 24, an exercise in posterior protection in the form of an interview with Juan Manuel Gómez-Robledo Verduzco, Mexican Deputy Foreign Minister for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights:

Mexico ‘still trying to locate’ missing students

Program notes:

Protests are spreading across Mexico over the case of 43 university students who went missing in September, a mass disappearance believed to be linked to powerful drug cartels with the complicity of corrupt police forces and local politicians in Guerrero state.

And from France 24 again, a talking heads segment on the political implications with a Mexican diplomat and an assortment of academic and journalistic political analysts:

Outrage in Mexico: Fury Over Student Massacre Boils Over

Program notes:

Six weeks on, the outrage in Mexico is only growing. Anger over the presumed massacre of 43 apprentice teachers in the southern state of Guerrero is being fuelled by the government’s apparent reluctance to act. Meanwhile, Mexico’s young president Pena Nieto, who ran for office as a reformer, is feeling the pressure. How is he going to restore faith in his reforms? And can the mass killing of those students prove a turning point in the uphill battle against impunity?

From BBC News, parents mobilize outrage:

Mexico missing students: Parents begin protest bus tour

The parents of 43 Mexican students who disappeared seven weeks ago have started a nationwide bus tour in protest at the government’s handling of the case.

Hundreds of supporters joined the convoy of demonstrators in south-western Guerrero state.

It came after violent protests this week as anger over the issue mounts.

The students vanished after clashing with police on 26 September in the town of Iguala.

And from Al Jazeera America, burning anger:

Mexico missing student protesters burn state buildings

Protest movement has hit Guerrero’s tourism industry with vacationers canceling trips during busiest time of year

Demonstrators set fire to the local legislature building on Wednesday in the capital of the southwestern state of Guerrero in protests over the apparent massacre of 43 students by corrupt police and thugs from drug gangs.

Violent demonstrations rocked several other states, where protesters blocked an airport and damaged the local office of President Enrique Pena Nieto’s ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI).

In Guerrero’s capital of Chilpancingo, members of a teachers union set fire to the session hall in the state assembly building while also torching several cars outside.

Firefighters extinguished the blaze and no injuries were reported. Protesters also set a fire at administrative offices of the state’s education department.

Next, from AJ+, a celebrated actor/director speaks out:

Gael García Bernal On Ayotzinapa Killings At Rosewater Premiere

Program notes:

AJ+ caught up with Gael Garcia Bernal on the red carpet at the premiere of Rosewater in NYC. But rather than dish about the film, he had more sombre thoughts on his mind.

From Frontera NorteSur, two cities wracked by violence:

Ciudad Juarez and Ayotzinapa

In a border city that became synonymous with the so-called narco war, Ayotzinapa is but among the latest histories stitched into the dozens of paradoxically pretty handkerchiefs that were draped from the fence surrounding the city’s Benito Juarez Monument last weekend.

In a comparison of the 1968 Olympics massacre of pro-democracy students in Mexico City, one handkerchief proclaimed: “October 2, 1968 Tlatelolco and September 26, 2014  Ayotzinapa.” Another handkerchief listed the names of the 43 students forcibly disappeared in Iguala.

With tears welling in her eyes, Magda Rojero voiced a common reaction to Ayotzinapa and the events which have turned a nation upside down.

“We are completely indignant. All these people could have been our children. I consider them my children,” Rojero said. An activist with Stitching for Peace, the international network that produces the hand-stitched, color-lettered handkerchiefs with anti-violence messages,

A helping hand, via the Latin American Herald Tribune:

Regional Human Rights Group to Aid in Mexican Missing Case

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has agreed to assist the Mexican government in clearing up the case of 43 students who went missing after being detained by police.

Meanwhile, protests about the case continued in the country.

Mexican authorities on Wednesday agreed to IAHCR’s terms of assistance and those of the parents of the students who disappeared on Sept. 26 in the southern town of Iguala after being handed over by the local police to a criminal gang.

The accord, signed in Mexico City, calls for the IACHR to oversee the creation of a group of experts who will provide assistance and technical verification concerning the actions of the government which has faced criticism from the families and many Mexicans.

More from the Yucatan Times:

Forced Disappearances, a serious issue in Mexico: Inter-American Commission on Human Rights

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights will appoint a group of experts to investigate forced disappearances in Mexico.

Emilio Álvarez Icaza, executive secretary of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), said that the group of experts that will work with Mexico’s government to investigate forced disappearances in the country, including the 43 teachers in training of Ayotzinapa, will be appointed in the next weeks.

“In the next few weeks it will be announced who will be part of the group and when will it begin to work,” Álvarez Icaza said in an interview with Televisa’s Primero Noticias.

The agreement signed yesterday between the IACHR and Mexico’s government includes the development of plans to search for missing persons, a technical analysis of the investigations to determine the indictments to be filed and a technical analysis of the attention plan for the victims of the events occurred between September 26 and 27, 2014, in the city of Iguala, Guerrero, Mexico.

Solidarity, via La Agencia de Noticias del Ecuador y Sudamérica:

Ecuador organizes event for the disappearance of 43 young people in Ayotzinapa, Mexico

Social networks have become a platform for expressing solidarity and social unrest on the disappearance of 43 young students in Ayotzinapa, Mexico, and Ecuadorian citizens are also showing their concern about the case.

With the hashtag #EcuadorConAyotzinapa (Ecuador with Ayotzinapa), Ecuadorians on social networks joined the demand for a response regarding the disappearance of the students on September 26 after they had been repressed in protests by the Municipal police of Iguala, in southern Mexico.

‘#EcuadorconAyotzinapa’ went beyond the networks. Through Twitter, a call was made for a vigil to express solidarity messages. The event is programmed for Thursday, November 13 at 18:00 at the exterior of the Mexican Embassy in Quito, located on 6 de Diciembre Avenue and Naciones Unidas in the north of the city.

In another massacre, selective prosecution, via the McClatchy Foreign Staff:

Mexican soldiers face charges, but not officials who tried to hide massacre

More than four months have passed since members of a Mexican army patrol killed 22 suspected criminals, most of them after they’d surrendered, in a rural area southwest of Mexico City. Three soldiers now await trial on charges of first-degree murder.

But the mass killing June 30 wasn’t the only crime committed.

Once the bodies fell to the ground in an empty warehouse in the town of Tlatlaya, a daisy chain of politicians, prosecutors and other officials glossed over the massacre by altering the crime scene, torturing witnesses and denying evidence.

While the soldiers will face their day in court, none of the more powerful officials or judiciary workers who attempted to hide the atrocity or balked at a serious investigation has been disciplined or charged with a crime.

And a new development in an older massacre via the Latin American Herald Tribune:

Mexico Supreme Court Frees 3 Convicted for 1997 Massacre

Mexico’s Supreme Court ordered the immediate release of three people serving prison terms for a 1997 massacre in which both the accused and the 45 victims were indigenous people.

The justices voted unanimously to overturn the convictions of Lorenzo Ruiz Vazquez, Jose Guzman Ruiz and Alfredo Agustin Hernandez Ruiz, citing irregularities in the original trial.

The court did not address the question of the guilt or innocence of the defendants, Justice Jose Ramon Cossio said, stressing that the decision to three men was based on violations of their rights to due process.

EbolaWatch: Mali, patients, fear, and Africa

And lots of news from Africa, much of it not so good.

We begin with dashed hopes from France 24:

Mali confirms new case of Ebola, locks down Bamako clinic

The government of Mali confirmed the country’s second case of Ebola late on Tuesday and police deployed outside a clinic in the capital, Bamako, that authorities said had been quarantined.

In a statement via Twitter, Mali’s Information Minister Mahamadou Camara said “prevention measures” were being taken, but gave no details on the case. Local officials and diplomats said the new case was unrelated to the first one last month.

Mali became the sixth West African country to record a case of Ebola when a two-year-old girl from Guinea died in October. It has not recorded any confirmed cases since then and 108 people linked to the girl were due to complete their 21-day quarantine period on Tuesday.

Mali shares an 800 km (500 mile) border with Guinea, which alongside Liberia and Sierra Leone, has been worst affected by an Ebola outbreak that has killed nearly 5,000 people this year.

Earlier the New York Times had offered a more optimistic video report:

Ebola Virus Outbreak 2014: Limiting Its Spread in Mali

Program notes:

Mali’s Ebola scare is not yet over. But with a quick diagnosis, extensive communication, and no shortage of luck, authorities and partners may be able to limit the number of cases to one.

Produced by: Nicholas Loomis

Another grim assessment from the U.N. News Center:

West Africa ‘on brink’ of major food crisis in wake of Ebola outbreak – UN expert

As Ebola continues to ravage West Africa, leaving more than 4,000 people dead, the region is now on the brink of a major food crisis, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to food has warned today.

“While the countries hardest hit by the Ebola crisis struggle to contain the devastating virus, they now face a new challenge with experts predicting that over a million people in the region need food aid to allay shortages,” Ms. Hilal Elver said in a statement.

Agriculture, the main economic activity in West Africa with two thirds of the population dependent on farming, has taken a severe toll since the Ebola outbreak hit earlier this year.

The closure of border and sea crossings, a reduction in regional trade, along with a decline in foreign investment has left regional countries in a precarious food situation and farmers in disarray.

“Farmers in West Africa have been severely affected by this crisis, with fear and panic resulting in many having abandoned their farms, this in turn has led to a disruption in food production and a soaring rise in food prices,” Ms. Elver noted.

Staple crops such as rice and maize will reportedly be scaled back due to shortages in farm labour with potential “catastrophic” effect on food security, she added.

Meanwhile, good news in the U.S. from USA Today:

Doctor leaves NYC hospital Ebola-free

Program notes:

Craig Spencer, the last Ebola patient in the U.S., left New York’s Bellevue Hospital Ebola-free Tuesday. Spencer was diagnosed with Ebola three weeks ago after returning from West Africa, where he was treating patients with the disease.

From The Hill, a cautionary note:

White House: NY Ebola case won’t be last

The doctor discharged Tuesday from a New York City hospital after recovering from Ebola won’t be the last U.S. case of the deadly virus, the White House warned Tuesday.

“Today is a milestone, but let’s be clear … we’re going to see occasional additional cases of Ebola in our country,” White House Ebola czar Ron Klain told MSNBC. “This is not the last one.”

Craig Spencer, a 33-year-old physician who contracted the virus while treating patients in West Africa, was released from Bellevue Hospital on Tuesday after weeks of isolation and treatment. Spencer was the last known case of Ebola in the United States.

Klain hailed Spencer’s discharge as “a milestone in showing our strategy of identifying, isolating, and treating Ebola patients can be successful,” and he noted that all eight U.S. citizens who had contracted the disease survived. A Liberian man who traveled to Dallas and infected two nurses treating him died from the disease.

The Associated Press covers a walkout:

California nurses strike over patient care, Ebola

As many as 18,000 nurses went on strike Tuesday and picketed in front of Kaiser Permanente facilities in Northern California to express their concerns about patient-care standards and Ebola.

The nurses, who are in the midst of contract negotiations, held red and yellow “strike for health and safety” picket signs. The two-day strike was expected to affect at least 21 Kaiser hospitals and 35 clinics and last until 7 a.m. Thursday.

Union officials said nurses are striking over claims there has been an erosion of patient-care standards in Kaiser facilities for months and that the company has failed to adopt optimal safeguards for Ebola.

“The nurses are telling story upon story of the lack of safety for patients, the lack of concern for patients,” RoseAnn DeMoro, executive director of the California Nurses Association, the union representing the striking nurses, said. “This isn’t about money. This is about something far deeper.”

And has the latest European Ebola scare:

Dane admitted to hospital for Ebola testing

A patient who has recently been in west Africa was being tested for Ebola on Tuesday evening, with test results first expected during the course of the day on Wednesday.

A Dane who recently returned from west Africa was admitted to Hvidore Hospital on Tuesday afternoon on the suspicion of carrying the Ebola virus, the hospital has announced.

“We determined that there were grounds to admit the patient and we have sent a test to the State Serum Institute,” hospital spokesman Toben Mogensen said in a statement.

The patient was put in isolation late on Tuesday and will remain there until the test results return. An initial result was expected to arrive overnight on Tuesday and a secondary sample will be sent for testing on Wednesday morning.

While Jiji Press covers preparations in Japan:

Tokyo Govt Conducts Ebola Response Drill

The Tokyo metropolitan government carried out a drill on Tuesday to deal with a suspected Ebola case.

The drill was carried out under the assumption that a doctor who returned to Japan a week before after working in West Africa, where there is an Ebola epidemic, contacted a public health center, complaining of a fever.

Placed in a capsule-type stretcher, which prevents the Ebola virus from spreading, a man in the doctor’s role was put into an ambulance and taken to a designated hospital in Tokyo’s Sumida Ward.

And RT covers another sort of scare:

Ebola-labeled vial prompts NZ parliament lockdown

What was called a sample of the Ebola virus in an attatched letter has been sent to the New Zealand Parliament’s mailroom, prompting a lockdown of the room. Just hours before, the Auckland office of the New Zealand Herald received a similar package.

Mailroom staff at the Parliament building in Wellington called the police after discovering the unaddressed package. It contained a small liquid-filled vial and documents claiming that the vial contains a sample of the deadly Ebola virus.

“Wellington Police have secured a package delivered to the Parliament mailroom today with the assistance of the Army’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal team,” New Zealand police said.

More from The Hill:

Ebola packages likely a hoax, says US czar

The U.S. is monitoring reports that New Zealand’s parliament and top newspaper received packages purportedly containing vials of the Ebola virus, but believes the incident was most likely a hoax, the White House said Tuesday.

Ebola czar Ron Klain told CNN he was briefed on the incident earlier in the day, but based on the best available intelligence information, “odds are high that this turns out to be a hoax.”

The New Zealand Herald reported that its Aukland headquarters received a small bottle of liquid with an accompanying message suggesting it contained Ebola. Hours later, the mailroom at the parliament building in Wellington was also closed after reception of a similarly suspicious package. Both packages have been forwarded for forensic testing.

On to Africa, starting with an urgent assessment from the UN News Center:

Stopping Ebola as fast as possible is ‘number one priority’ – UN envoy

The number one priority is to stop Ebola as fast as possible and “get ahead of the virus,” the chief of the United Nations emergency response mission said as the UN health agency today reported that efforts to contain the outbreak in West Africa are being hampered by cumbersome diagnostic tests.

The UN World Health Organization (WHO) said that standard tests used in mobile and other laboratories need 2 to 6 hours to test for Ebola and cost around $100, but these requirements are difficult to meet in resource-constrained West African settings, thus severely limiting testing capacity.

“Efforts to contain the Ebola outbreaks in West Africa are currently hampered by cumbersome, slow, and complex diagnostic tests that imposed a number of additional logistical challenges, including requirements for a high level of laboratory biosafety and staff expertise in using sophisticated machines,” WHO spokeswoman Fadela Chaib told reporters in Geneva.

Anthony Banbury, the head of the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER) in New York to brief Member States this week, told the UN News Centre that he is “deeply concerned that the true numbers of people affected by the virus, dying of it, are higher than the numbers being reported.”

From Associated Press, the cost of Ebolaphobia:

Morocco thrown out of African Cup, dumped as host

Morocco was thrown out of the 2015 African Cup of Nations and dumped as the host Tuesday after refusing to commit to the scheduled dates early next year because of fears over Ebola.

The decisions by CAF were taken at a meeting that was forced by Morocco’s refusal to hold the tournament on the planned dates of Jan. 17-Feb. 8 because of the threat of the spread of Ebola. The disease has killed about 5,000 people in West Africa, and Morocco wanted the 16-team soccer event postponed until 2016 because of fears the deadly virus would arrive with supporters and other travelers.

CAF repeatedly refused Morocco’s request to postpone the African Cup, the body’s main money-earning tournament, and gave the country until Saturday to commit to the planned dates. Morocco declined again.

“The Royal Moroccan Football Federation reiterated its refusal to hold the competition on the dates indicated,” CAF said Tuesday. “Therefore having firmly and unanimously notified … its decision to keep the competition on the dates indicated, the executive committee confirmed that the Africa Cup of Nations 2015 will not take place in Morocco.”

From VOA video, old message, new medium:

Ebola Training Available Online

Program notes:

Since an Ebola outbreak began its deadly course through West Africa earlier this year, health officials worldwide have sought to inform the general public about the virus that has killed some 5,000 people. Doctors Without Borders (MSF) on Tuesday launched an online training program for its staff and others interested in fighting Ebola. Zlatica Hoke has more.

Voice of America covers complexity:

Ebola is More Than Medical Challenge, Experts Say

South Africa knows all too well how it feels to watch a disease rampage through once-healthy communities, to watch the illness divide society and trigger shame, fear and panic, and to be shunned by the rest of the world.

And so as three West African nations battle with the often-deadly Ebola virus, South African experts say the hard lessons they learned in their nation’s HIV epidemic are as important as ever.

Fighting Ebola, they say, will require many of the same tools needed to fight AIDS, an epidemic that fundamentally transformed the way the world looks at diseases — not just through the microscope of science, but through the wider lens of society and development.

From the Sun in Lagos, Nigeria, stunning allegations about the patient who triggered the first U.S. Ebolas outbreak:

How Liberian-American, Patrick Sawyer, deliberately infected our staff with Ebola — First Consultant Hospital

Patrick Sawyer, the Liberian-American who brought Ebola into the country, was a bio-terrorist, bent on a mission to deliberately infect as many Nigerians as possible with the deadly virus, the Chief Medical Director of First Consultant Hospital, Benjamin Ohiaeri, has said.

In a detailed interview with ThisDay newspaper, Mr. Ohiaeri spoke of how Mr. Sawyer lied to his hospital that he had no contact with any Ebola case and how he plotted to be allowed to storm the streets of Nigeria to spread the virus.
He also revealed shocking details of how Mr Sawyer deliberately and systematically infected hospital personnel with the virus.

He said the Liberian- American was not interested in receiving treatment or discussing the option available to him. Rather he demonstrated a deliberate intent to be discharged from the hospital into the public where he would have posed dire public health risk.

After the jump, one to Sierra Leone and good news for the most exposed, hospitals blasted by patient families, another doctor stricken, help from the nuclear realm, and one bright spot, then on to Liberia and another tragedy in another county, a suspected carrier captured, more help from within Africa, a plea for help from Liberian news media, care for kids in quarantine, and help from cells phones, then on to Ghana and a question of awareness. . . Continue reading

EbolaWatch: Numbers, quarantine, outbreaks

We begin with a grim assessment and stunning images from Britain’s Channel 4 News:

Ebola tightens its grip on Sierra Leone

Program notes:

The warnings could not be clearer: Ebola is running rampant throughout Sierra Leone. There were 111 new cases on Sunday, the highest daily rate since August. The actual number of victims is probably far higher.

National Journal covers another landmark:

America Is Free of Ebola Cases

New York patient Craig Spencer is reportedly being released tomorrow

The only Ebola patient currently in the United States will be released from the hospital Tuesday morning, according to The New York Times.

Craig Spencer, 33, became the first person to be diagnosed with Ebola in New York City, when he was admitted to Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan on Oct. 23. Spencer contracted the virus while treating patients in Guinea with Doctors Without Borders.

Spencer’s diagnosis set off alarms on the East Coast after it was reported that he went bowling and rode the subway prior to his diagnosis.

His fiance remains under quarantine, and her 21-day incubation period ends this week. No other individuals in New York have been diagnosed with the virus.

Some U.S. news from the Daily Observer in Monrovia, Liberia:

After Spending over U$1million, Dallas Ends Ebola Monitoring

After spending nearly US$1 million, not including money spent by the city of Dallas, the state of Texas, and the federal government have ended monitoring people who may have had contact with America’s first Ebola victim, Liberian Thomas Eric Duncan.

According to information reaching the Daily Observer, last Friday ended the monitoring period in Dallas, as well as the State of Texas.

Former American President George W. Bush, who lives in Dallas, visited Presbyterian hospital and greeted nurses and doctors.

President Barack Obama spoke via a conference call Friday afternoon, along with Judge Jenkins, Gov. Rick Perry, Mayor Mike Rawlings and the state health commissioner, Dr. David Lakey, praising their leadership.

CBC News covers quarantines to the north:

Ebola crisis: Canada imposes quarantine, self-monitoring measures

  • New guidelines could mean quarantine for returning health-care workers

The Canadian government says it is strengthening restrictions on travellers from Ebola-affected areas in West Africa.

“High-risk” travellers who have been in any of the three worst-affected countries — Guinea, Sierra Leone or Liberia — during the previous three weeks will be ordered to self-isolate at home or at “a facility,” preferably near a provincially designated treatment centre, for 21 days, the incubation period of the disease.

The Public Health Agency of Canada statement released Monday says high-risk travellers are those who have had direct contact with Ebola patients, such as funeral attendants and family members. It does not specify whether the designation would apply to returning health-care workers.

If travellers to the Ebola-affected countries have had no known exposure to the virus they will be expected to self-monitor for 21 days, including two temperature checks a day.

From El País, quarantine litigation:

Ebola survivor Teresa Romero to seek €300,000 in damages

  • Nursing assistant suing Madrid health chief for attacking her honor

Teresa Romero, the nursing assistant who contracted Ebola after caring for an infected patient in Madrid and spent a month battling the disease in hospital, is to seek €300,000 in damages, said her lawyer.

Romero, 44, who was discharged from Carlos III on November 5, will sue Madrid health commissioner Javier Rodríguez for attacking her honor and the regional government for putting down her dog Excalibur as a precautionary measure.

José María Garzón said his client would seek €150,000 in each case.

Romero and her husband Javier Limón, who was also kept in isolation at Carlos III for a prolonged period, will also join a criminal complaint filed by health workers against regional health authorities “over failures in the implementation of safety protocols in Ebola transmission,” according to the lawyer.

Borderline Ebolaphobia, via Kyodo News:

S. Korea to set up Ebola thermal scanners at N. Korea industrial park

Acting on North Korea’s request, South Korea has decided to install body temperature measuring equipment at a joint industrial park in the North to detect possible Ebola virus infections, South Korean government officials said Tuesday.

South Korea’s Unification Ministry said three thermal scanners will be set up at the immigration check point in the Kaesong industrial park, located just north of the North-South border.

Three to four hundred South Koreans and workers from other countries commute to the industrial zone from the South.

The Associated Press covers another quarantine:

CBS’ Logan quarantined after Ebola report

Lara Logan of CBS News is being quarantined in a South Africa hotel for three weeks as a precaution after visiting an American-run hospital treating Ebola patients in Liberia for a “60 Minutes” report that aired Sunday.

CBS said Monday that Logan’s 21-day self-quarantine will end this Friday. Neither Logan nor the four other CBS employees in South Africa have shown any sign that they are infected with the virus.

Logan, speaking in a “60 Minutes Overtime” web interview from the room where the CBS crew put its report together, admitted to some cabin fever as she waits out her stay. She said the South African government had given the crew permission to work at the hotel.

From Deutsche Welle, a look inside an Ebola research lab at the university that gave its name to another deadly hemorrhagic fever virus:

Ebola – Research in a high-security laboratory | Tomorrow Today

Program notes:

At the University of Marburg Institute of Virology, researchers are studying how to stop the spread of the Ebola virus in Africa. They’re also developing protocols for preventing infection in health care workers.

And on to Africa, first with a plea from StarAfrica:

Group Condemns stigmatization against Ebola-hit countries

A group of prominent and eminent Africans under the banner “Concerned African Citizens” have spoken against the rising trend of stigmatization against nationals of Ebola-hit countries, according to reports in the Liberian capital Monrovia.

A Liberian Foreign Ministry press statement issued Monday quotes a dispatch from the African Union (AU) headquarters as saying that the nearly 100 Africans, cut across various professions including former Heads of State, are urging the respective African governments to avoid full embargo against Ebola-affected states.

“While we understand the legitimate concerns for the protection of their populations, we remind African leaders of their obligation to pan-African solidarity and the global community of their humanitarian obligations in emergencies”, the group of African citizens stated in a recent communiqué.

The group includes Olusegun Obasanjo, former President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Benjamin Mkapa, former President of Tanzania and Mrs. Graca Machel, widow of Nelson Mandela.

Others are Senegalese singer and Grammy Award Winner, Akon, and Hassan Arouni, Senior Producer and Presenter BBC Focus on Africa, among others.

A similar concern, via the U.N. News Center:

Ebola: reported denial of medical care on ships from West Africa draws UN concern

United Nations and other leading international transport, trade and tourism organizations today expressed concern about the report denial of medical care for ill seafarers on board ships that had previously called at ports in Ebola-affected countries.

In a statement, the Travel and Transport Task Force called for international cooperation of governments and the transport sector in following the recommendations of the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee on Ebola, convened by the UN World Health Organization (WHO).

Meanwhile, WHO released the results of an investigation that have clarified the early exposure history of Mali’s first Ebola case a 2-year-old girl from Guinea who died of the disease after crossing into neighbouring Mali.

“The Guinea history reveals many difficult challenges faced by ministries of health, local health officials, WHO and other partners in the Ebola response,” said the agency.

For example, WHO noted that its data strongly suggest that Ebola care in private health facilities carries a higher risk of infection. In Kenema, Sierra Leone, for example, 87 per cent of new infections among health care workers have been acquired in privately-run non-Ebola clinics.

The report also noted a pattern of returning home to a native village to die and that “such frequent travels by symptomatic Ebola patients, often via public transportation and over long distances, unquestionably create multiple opportunities for high-risk exposures – en route and also when the patient reaches his home and is greeted by family and friends.”

The New York Times covers an ounce of prevention:

Quick Response and Old-Fashioned Detective Work Thwart Ebola in Mali

Mali’s harrowing brush with Ebola began last month with a woman’s selfless act: trying to rescue her two young granddaughters from the disease. She fetched them from their ailing family in Guinea, the cradle of the epidemic, then took them on a 700-mile ride aboard buses and taxis, back to her home in Kayes, a small city in northwest Mali.

Along the way, the littlest — 2-year-old Fanta Condé — developed a 104-degree fever and an unstoppable nosebleed. She later died of Ebola. Health officials feared she had seeded the virus all along the route, potentially turning Mali into the fourth nation engulfed by the disease.

But using old-fashioned detective work, Malian Health Ministry workers, with help from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the World Health Organization, tracked and quarantined 108 people in two cities and a few roadside towns.

There was even a car chase: The last bus the family traveled on was stopped on a rural highway, emptied out and disinfected.

The 21-day quarantine period since Fanta’s death on Oct. 24 is almost over, and 41 of the 108 Malians in quarantine are due to be released Tuesday, and the remainder by Friday. Since none are showing symptoms, health officials are allowing themselves to hope that their quick response has kept Mali’s first outbreak to a single case.

The latest African alarm comes from Malawi, via from Malawi24:

Patients panic at QECH over Ebola scare

There was intense fear among guardians and other medical personnel at the Queens Elizabeth Central Hospital (QECH) in Blantyre today after reports indicated there was an Ebola suspected patient quarantined at the hospital.

Some guardians at the referral hospital told Malawi24 that they had noted that a patient highly protected was ferried in the hospital with the scare of Ebola making rounds in the wards.

It is said the patient had been referred from Mwanza Hospital where the doctors said they were not trained on how to treat the disease.

The Washington Post covers aspirations:

Governments, groups striving to become as agile as Ebola virus

The first Ebola Treatment Unit built in Liberia by the U.S. military is expected to open in the coming days, nearly two months after President Obama announced that he would send troops to supplement the civilian effort against the disease. But even before that first ETU has become operational, Liberia has seen a sharp drop in new infections and has empty beds in Ebola wards. The new ETUs, which are temporary structures that can’t easily be used for anything else, may not treat many patients.

Up the coast of West Africa, Sierra Leone has had far less progress in the fight against Ebola. The country had three times as many new infections as Liberia in the most recent three-week monitoring period, according to the World Health Organization. The United States has sent troops to Liberia but not to Sierra Leone.

Guinea, the third West African country hit hard by the virus, is another landscape entirely. It is bigger than Liberia and Sierra Leone combined. There was a drop in cases in the capital, Conakry, over the summer, but the virus has recently surfaced again in some neighborhoods. In addition, hot spots continue to pop up in remote places, and health workers still encounter community resistance.

Another ominous number, via the Guardian:

One in seven pregnant women could die in Ebola-hit countries, say charities

  • Fears that maternal death rates in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea could increase 20-fold as health facilities collapse

One in seven women in countries hit by the Ebola epidemic could die in pregnancy or childbirth because hospital services are overwhelmed, say charities.

Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea were among the countries with the highest maternal mortality rates in the world before Ebola broke out, but they were improving – women were more likely to go to a health facility to give birth and be delivered by a skilled health worker or midwife and their care was free of charge.

But hospitals and clinics have collapsed under the pressure of the outbreak – many have become exclusively Ebola treatment centres. Pregnant women are also afraid to visit hospital because of the fear and stigma around the disease, which means they are also unlikely to get the antenatal checks that could pick up potential problems.

According to charities that are part of the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC), the death rates will soar unless the situation is turned around. The UN Population Fund estimates that 800,000 women across the three countries will be due to give birth within the next 12 months and 120,000 of those are likely to face complications, such as obstructed labour or infection which could kill them if they do not get specialised medical help.

On to Liberia with BBC News:

Ebola outbreak: MSF says new Liberia tactics needed

New rapid response tactics are needed to defeat the Ebola virus in Liberia, according to the charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF).

More than 6,600 people have been infected in the country, but figures suggest the number of new infections has started to fall.

MSF says it now has more hospital capacity than patients and called for a shift in tactics.

It wants rapid response teams to tackle Ebola hotspots when they flare up.

A politician’s alarm from the NewDawn:

Lawmaker wants Liberia quarantined

A Liberian lawmaker is calling for a two- day nationwide quarantine here, at a time local and international health authorities are reporting decline in Ebola infection.

Montserrado County electoral district 12 Representative Richmond Anderson, told a community policing meeting on Sunday that people were now dressing “half-naked, robbing on each other and playing football in the communities” in total disregard to health tips.

“For me I think when those things continue, it will not really cure Ebola in Liberia, because you don’t know who is who, Representative Anderson warned on Sunday, 9 November at the Barnersville Town Hall in Gardnersville.

Immediately after the meeting on Sunday, Deputy Police Director for Operations, Abraham Kromah, raided several community football fields along the Gardnesrville road, including a football field near the Freeport Police Depot where footballers were practicing.

StarAfrica offers hope:

Liberia: Number of Ebola cases declining-MSF

The international charity, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), has disclosed on Monday that the number of new Ebola cases reported in Liberia has declined in recent weeks.However, MSF warned that the Ebola outbreak which, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) has claimed more than 4500 lives in West Africa, is far from over and new hotspots continue to emerge across Liberia

“The international aid response must rapidly adapt to this new phase of the epidemic in Liberia, or it risks undermining the progress made against Ebola,” MSF which is also known as Doctors Without Borders said in a statement.

According to the statement, MSF observed that unlike in neighboring Guinea and Sierra Leone where cases are on the rise, MSF teams in Liberia are witnessing a decline in the number of Ebola patients admitted to Ebola Treatment Units (ETUs) for the first time since the beginning of the Ebola epidemic in March.

But the Associated Press brings a caution:

Ebola finds new hotspots outside Liberian capital

A schoolteacher brought his sick daughter from Liberia’s capital to this small town of 300 people. Soon he and his entire family were dead and buried in the forest nearby, along with an increasing number of residents.

The community of Jenewonde has become a new hotspot for the Ebola outbreak in Liberia. With cases on the decline in the capital, officials must now turn their attention to hard-to-reach places where the disease is flaring.

Jenewonde, in Grand Cape Mount County near the border with Sierra Leone, has reportedly lost about 10 percent of its population to Ebola since late September. Markets and farms nearby have been abandoned.

More from FrontPageAfrica:

New Ebola Epicenter in Liberia: Virus Tearing Cape Mount Town

Despite reports of a drastic reduction in the number of reported Ebola cases in Liberia, the people of a small town in Grand Cape Mount County say life is a true horror story for them.

The deadly Ebola virus seems to have found a new epicenter 47 miles away from Monrovia, in a small town called Jene-wonde. On Saturday, JumaMansaray watched as the burial team took away her mother and aged Grandmother for burial in the forest. Jebbeh Mansaray and her aged mother Miatta Mansaray are among almost thirty other persons from the small town who have been buried in unmarked graves on a once agricultural farmland.

Juma wails with the rest of the other women, as the men look on without hope, without anyone to turn to. She said the community has been ostracized from the rest of its neighbors. Left to fend for her five children, Juma said the community is devastated.

And another regional alarm comes from StarAfrica:

Liberia: New Ebola Outbreak in Southeastern River Cess County

A Fresh outbreak of Ebola has hit River Cess County in southeastern Liberia, with 15 deaths reported.According to the Liberia News Agency, the disclosure was made Monday by Cestos City Mayor Sarah Zeo.

Zeo said five other persons are under critical condition, while 16 people have been tested positive with the virus.

She expressed fear that the virus would further spread to other towns, villages and chiefdoms if nothing is done urgently to contain it.

She attributed the recent Ebola outbreak in Kaeyah Town to a lady who returned to the town from Monrovia with severe fever and was treated by sorcerers who claimed that the sickness was a result of witchcraft.

From the NewDawn, another alarm:

Ebola suspect on the run

A man suspected to be infected with the deadly Ebola virus is reported to be at large in Bong County. According to the County Health Officer of Bong County, Dr. Sampson Zuo-acquoi, the man (name withheld) escaped from the Ebola Treatment Unit or ETU in Suakoko upon being taken there for treatment on Sunday.

Dr. Zuo-acquoi told a local radio in Gbarnga, Bong County via mobile phone that the man- of the Vai Tribe had been taken to be ETU from the town Gbndoi. He said while health workers at the unit were preparing for his admission,, the suspected Ebola patient escaped into the bush and was on the run.

The Bong County Health Officer captioned citizens and residents of the Phebe Community, SKT, as well as Suakoko and other towns in Suakoko District against harboring any strange individual as such person may be the escapee.

He described the man as very dangerous, as anyone coming in contact with him may definitely be infected. He urged citizens of the various towns and villages in Suakoko District to report to the county health team, police or community upon identifying any stranger. He assured that amid this alert, the County Health Team was doing everything possible to the suspected Ebola patient tracked down.

Finally, from FrontPageAfrica, another factor in contagion:

Lack of Trust in Gov’t, Escalated Ebola, Says Finance Minister

Liberia’s Finance Minister Amara Konneh says the lack of trust in Government by citizens is a key reason why the deadly Ebola outbreak escalated, something he blamed on widespread corruption of public funds by some officials trusted with the responsibility to perform.

Minister Konneh said, because officials of government have created a gap between them and the ordinary people, evidence by the flashy cars with tinted windshields they ride while people go to bed hungry. The Minister said citizens express anger and refuse to trust the government even if it is about saving their lives.

Speaking at the end of a weeklong training workshop for directors of the Ministry of Finance and development planning (MFDP) who have been recruited and vetted to work in the new Ministry, Minister Konneh said, Ebola though deadly disease, has taught Liberians a lesson and provided an opportunity for them to be bold and frank and fundamentally change certain thing about the way things are done in Liberia especially in government.