Category Archives: Community

Another Bay Area earthquake strikes


Well, just south of the San Francisco Bay area.

There were two shakers, with the much stronger striking a half hour ago whilst we were compiling items.

Here’s a screencap [click to enlarge] of the U.S. Geological Survey incident web page for the temblor, where all the links do work:

BLOG Quake

MexicoWatch: Protests, hubris, anger, & threats


We start with an infuriating story from teleSUR, infuriating because uniformed armed thugs hauling students off a bus with threats is exactly what led to the disappearance of those 43 students:

Mexican Soldiers Intimidate, Threaten Students Outside Iguala

The army troops stopped a bus and threatened students from the Vicente Guerrero Teacher Training School.

At a checkpoint south of Iguala in the southern violent state of Guerrero, members of the 27th Infantry Battalion of the Mexican Army on Tuesday ordered the bus driver to stop and told the Teloloapan students to get off.

The soldiers lined the students up facing the bus, where they searched them and made insulting, humiliating remarks, especially to the young girls. They threatened the entire group, around 30 students in all, for more than an hour.

The troops specifically  warned the students that they’d better stop making trouble about the disappeared Ayotzinapa students, and then took pictures of each person. Afterward, they ordered them to go back to their school without causing any problems in Iguala.

And the accompanying video report:

Mexican Students intimidated and photographed by army yesterday

Program notes:

Yesterday in the Mexican state of Guerrero, a busload of students returning from a protest in solidarity with the Ayotinapa 43 (teaching college students who were kidnapped in late September by corrupt authorities in Iguala) was stopped by the army, who forced the students out of the bus, intimidated them, and told them to stop protesting, before photographing them and sending then back on their way. Also yesterday, parents of the 43 missing Ayotzinapa students recurred to the Organization of American States’ Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, with whom they signed a contract. The OAS has pledged to help protect the families from danger, and to help continue the search for their children.

And then there’s strange silence of the media and public temper north of the border via the Chicago Tribune:

Americans ignore the mass murder of students that is roiling Mexico

The violent disappearance of 43 students from a rural teachers college in Guerrero state has caused a political earthquake the likes of which Mexico has not seen in generations — perhaps even since the revolution of 1910.

That makes it all the more baffling how little attention most people in the U.S. have paid to the unfolding tragedy. To understand the historical significance — and the moral and political gravity — of what is occurring, think of 9/11, of Sandy Hook, of the day JFK was assassinated. Mexico is a nation in shock — horrified, pained, bewildered.

These emotions have been swelling since late September, but have become overpowering since Nov. 10. That’s when Mexican Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam held a news conference to detail the federal government’s investigation into the students’ disappearance, a probe that relies heavily on witness testimony from men who allegedly participated in their murders.

Next, via teleSUR, a notable cancellation:

Protests for Ayotzinapa Cancel Mexico’s Official Revolution Parade

Mexico’s Interior Minister announced the cancellation of Thursday’s parade celebrating Mexico’s 1910 revolution, as a mass strike for the 43 missing students from Ayotzinapa will occur on the same day

The traditional official celebrations and military parade organized to commemorate Mexico’s 1910 revolution will be moved from the Zocalo square to a military installation in the Polanco neighborhood of the Mexican Capital this Thursday, announced Mexico’s Interior Minister, Miguel Angel Osorio Chong on Wednesday evening.

“November 20 is a date that we Mexicans celebrate the beginning of our revolution. This time, it was decided that the celebration will not be accompanied by the traditional festivities and parade,” said the minister.

“The Interior Ministry reports that the commemoration of November 20 will consist of a decorations ceremony and promotions of active military personnel from the Defense Ministry and Navy, which will be held in the Base Marte,” he added.

Bringing it home, via the Latin American Herald Tribune:

Teachers Take Over Judicial Branch HQ in Mexico Protest Over Disappeared

Teachers in the southern Mexican state of Guerrero on Tuesday took over the state judicial branch headquarters and held workers there for four hours as part of protests associated with the disappearance of 43 teaching students.

About 500 members of Guerrero’s state education workers coordinator, or CETEG, took over the Judicial Complex, which houses the offices of the state supreme court in Chilpancingo, the state capital.

The teachers demanded the release of “political prisoners” and the annulment of arrest warrants that, CETEG said, have been issued for their members for recent violent acts that were part of the protests over the students’ disappearance.

And from teleSUR English, national strike coming:

Mexico: national student strike planned in solidarity with Ayotzinapa

Program notes:

In Mexico, public universities and teacher training colleges across the country are organizing for a 24-hour strike to take place on Thursday November 20 to demand the safe return of the 43 missing students from the Ayotzinapa teacher training college who were kidnapped on September 26.

From Reuters, presidential arrogance at its worst:

Mexico president sees anti-government motive in massacre protests

Grappling with outrage over violence and impunity after the apparent massacre of 43 trainee teachers, Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto on Tuesday accused unspecified groups of seeking to destabilize his government.

Protest marches over the crime, which the government has blamed on corrupt police in league with a drug gang and city officials, have overshadowed Pena Nieto’s efforts to boost years of sub-par economic growth via a raft of economic reforms.

“Structural reforms and big changes have … without doubt affected interests of those who have much and of others who oppose our nation-building project,” Pena Nieto said.

“We have seen violent movements which hide behind the grief (over the missing students) to stage protests, the aim of which at times is unclear,” he added. “They seem to obey interests to generate instability, to foment social unrest.”

Solidarity in Southern California from the Los Angeles Times:

Missing Mexico students: ‘We want them alive,’ L.A. activists chant

Standing in front of photos of 43 missing students in the Mexican state of Guerrero, activists and community members gathered across the street from the Consulate General of Mexico in Los Angeles on Wednesday chanting: “Vivos se los llevaron, vivos los queremos.”

“They were taken alive, we want them alive.”

Immigrant and human rights groups called on people to stand in solidarity with Mexico and the students who went missing in Iguala, Guerrero, on Sept. 26, and are presumed to likely be dead.

And a reminder, via Vice News:

There Are More than 43 Missing People in Guerrero and Mexico’s Military May Have a Role

There are more than 43 families looking for their missing sons and daughters in Guerrero, Mexico. The Pita family is one of them.

Felix and Guadalupe Pita’s son, Lenin Vladimir Pita, was 17 when he disappeared on March 1, 2010. He went missing in Iguala, the same city where 43 students from the Ayotzinapa Normal School vanished eight weeks ago.

“Talking about my son breaks my heart,” Felix Pita, a weather-worn man with greying hair and a gravelly voice, told VICE News. “If they could take my son, they can take more. I have been told that they kidnap them and make them work or they sell them to hitmen.”

On a related note, via teleSUR:

Dozen Mexican Mayors under Investigation for Drug Links

The Iguala mayor who was arrested for allegedly masterminding the forced disappearances of 43 students in September is among a dozen Mexican mayors currently under investigation for corruption

Twelve mayors have been investigated between January and July of this year for alleged links to criminal groups, Mexican federal intelligence sources told the Milenio newspaper Monday.

The investigation describes the mayors as “objects of special attention,” and their daily activities are being monitored.

The 12 mayors include four from the ruling center-right Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and eight from the center-left Democratic Revolution Party (PRD), including the mayor of Iguala Jose Luis Abarca.

And a video report from Deutsche Welle:

Mexico – The state and the drug cartels

Program notes:

The disappearance of 43 students in Mexico is symptomatic of much larger problems in the country: widespread corruption and drug-related violence. Many people feel their government can’t protect them.

From Reuters, oh, the poor baby:

Mexico’s first lady says will sell house at center of scandal

Mexico’s first lady said on Tuesday she would give up a house at the center of a scandal that created a potential conflict of interest between President Enrique Pena Nieto and a company bidding for a lucrative rail contract.

The Mexican government this month abruptly cancelled a $3.75-billion high speed rail contract awarded to a consortium led by China Railway Construction Corp Ltd that featured a Mexican company known as Grupo Higa.

It then emerged that a subsidiary of Grupo Higa owned a luxury house that Pena Nieto’s wife Angelica Rivera was in the process of acquiring, raising questions about the tender.

In a televised statement, Rivera, who was one of Mexico’s most popular soap actresses before marrying Pena Nieto in 2010, said she had paid off about 14.3 million pesos ($1.05 million) of the value of the house and would sell her stake to settle any outstanding questions about the matter.

Next, via teleSUR, filling in the memory hole:

Mexican Museum to House Ayotzinapa Exhibition

The Museum of Memory’s objective is to highlight crimes against humanity perpetrated by authoritarian groups and governments

The Mexican Museum of Memory and Tolerance will hold a 2015 exhibition about the murders, executions, disappearances and the impunity afflicting Mexico. It will feature the tragic events of the 43 missing students in Ayotzinapa.

The museum, which opened in 2010, seeks to preserve the historical memory of the most shocking crimes against humanity. It houses exhibitions about the Nazi holocaust, the genocides in Bosnia-Herzegovina, and massacres in Guatemala, among others.

According to its director, Shanon Zaga, 2015 will be the year the museum will focus on the crimes against humanity undertaken in Mexico itself.

Exhibitions will range from the 1968 Tlatelolco student massacre, to the the mass murder of hundreds of women in Ciudad Juarez in past decades. Most pressingly, one of the exhibits will focus on the recent events of the disappearance of 43 students in Ayotzinapa.

And to close, via CCTV America, corporate angst:

Protests over missing students affect private investment in Mexico

Program notes:

Mexico’s sputtering economy is facing more challenges following recent demonstrations over to the fate of 43 college students missing and presumed killed in a September mass abduction in Guerreo state, in the southern part of the country. CCTV America’s Franc Contreras reported this story from Mexico City.

EbolaWatch: Dancing, death, angst, and hope


And the latest from the African media. . .

We’ll begin with the latest poll of American healthcare concerns from Gallup, with Ebola now ranking number three, above cancer and heart disease:

BLOG Ebola

Next, and on the lighter side, a video report from Agence France-Presse:

Health workers in Sierra Leone dance to cheer up Ebola patients

Program note:

Staff tackling the Ebola virus at a treatment centre in Sierra Leone face death every day but that doesn’t mean they can’t look on the brighter side. They’ve taken to dancing to cheer up their patients.

What’s next? Dancing with the SARS?

And on the very serious side, this from the Associated Press:

Red Cross officials: Ebola flaring anew in Africa

Red Cross officials helping to lead the fight against Ebola in West Africa said Monday the virus is still spreading, and they’re having trouble recruiting health care workers to combat it.

Antoine Petitbon of the French Red Cross said that it’s easier for him to recruit people to go to Iraq, despite the security hazards there. He said the French Red Cross is facing an unprecedented problem: Sixty percent of people it signs up to work in the Ebola zone subsequently back out due to pressure from families and friends.

Birte Hald, head of emergency operations for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, said that after a recent surge of optimism that the virus was coming under control, especially in Liberia, it “is flaring up in new villages, in new locations.” On Monday, Hald said, a team of international experts was being set to Mali to assist that nation’s health authorities in stemming an outbreak of Ebola there.

From the Los Angeles Times, Californians prepare to head to the hot zone:

California National Guard prepares for Ebola mission in West Africa

A unit of the California Army National Guard has been ordered to mobilize for possible deployment to West Africa to support U.S. and international efforts to stem the spread of the deadly Ebola virus.

The linguist detachment of the 223rd Military Intelligence Battalion is among six National Guard battalions nationwide ordered for involuntary mobilization under an order signed by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. The others are in Minnesota, Ohio, Texas, Iowa and Kansas.

None of the approximately 1,200 soldiers from the battalions will provide direct medical care to Ebola patients, the Army National Guard said in its announcement Sunday. Another 900 Army reservists are also being mobilized for what the Pentagon calls Operation United Assistance.

The Guard soldiers and reservists will provide training on Ebola and malaria prevention and also medical readiness, the Army said.

A reminder from the National Journal:

Why It’s Too Early to Forget About Ebola

The Ebola outbreak is far from over in West Africa. Pay attention, America.

Americans are googling Taylor Swift more than they’re googling Ebola.

The panic that gripped the country following four diagnoses of the virus in the United States seems to have faded into a collective amnesia following a three-week period with no new Ebola cases.

But the out-of-sight, out-of-mind approach ignores the crisis that continues to plague West Africa. Funding for the international response has lagged, and positive developments in Liberia have resulted in premature optimism about a situation that we still don’t fully have a grasp on. Health experts have said all along that the only way to eliminate the risk of infection in the U.S. is to end the outbreak there—and we’re still far, far away from the finish line.

“The Ebola focus we had over the past month really has been largely on that in the U.S.; many of us kept saying, ‘Don’t take the eye off the ball in West Africa,’ “ said Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. “[But] the interest and concern has focused on a few cases in the U.S. This is not surprising—people think, ‘Am I going to contract Ebola? If it’s over there, it’s not my problem.’”

The Guardian registers a protest:

Kaci Hickox accuses governors of exploiting Ebola fears for political gain

  • Nurse says Chris Christie disregarded science and constitution
  • ‘Politicians who tell lies … will hopefully never make it to the White House’

Kaci Hickox, the nurse who found herself in the middle of a political storm when she was quarantined on her return from west Africa despite testing negative for Ebola, has launched a blistering attack on two “overzealous” state governors, Chris Christie of New Jersey and Paul LePage of Maine, whom she accused of seeking to advance their careers at her expense.

Of the former, who is widely seen as a possible Republican nomination for president in 2016, she said: “Politicians who tell lies … will hopefully never make it to the White House.”

Writing for the Guardian, Hickox said: “I was quarantined against my will by overzealous politicians.”

“My liberty, my interests and consequently my civil rights were ignored because some ambitious governors saw an opportunity to use an age-old political tactic: fear. Christie and my governor in Maine, Paul LePage, decided to disregard medical science and the constitution in hopes of advancing their careers.”

From the Washington Post, lending a hand:

In Ebola fight, private foundations provide critical financial aid

The U.S. emergency response team working on Ebola in Kemena, Sierra Leone, was stuck. The vehicle they had been using to transport patients, deliver oral rehydration packets and do other critical work had two flat tires. It was early October, a time when things seemed to be spiraling out of control in the epicenter of the crisis, and there wasn’t a moment to waste.

The stranded Centers for Disease Control and Prevention workers knew just where to call for help: a little-known nonprofit — the CDC Foundation — that received millions of dollars in donations in recent months from Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, Microsoft founders Bill Gates and Paul Allen, and other philanthropists.

Within the hour, the organization authorized enough money for the staff to make the repairs. And within the week, it had ordered, paid for and shipped to the region about 200 additional pickup trucks and four-wheel-drive cars — $5 million worth.

And from New York Times, the latest press-attracting casualty:

Doctor Being Treated for Ebola in Omaha Dies

A surgeon who contracted Ebola while working in Sierra Leone, Dr. Martin Salia, died Monday while being treated in a biocontainment center in Omaha.

“We used the maximum amount of supportive care and every advanced technique available in an effort to save his life,” said Dr. Jeffrey P. Gold, chancellor of the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

“We are reminded today that even though this was the best possible place for a patient with this virus to be, that in the very advanced stages, even the most modern techniques that we have at our disposal are not enough to help these patients once they reach the critical threshold,” Dr. Gold said.

More from the Washington Post:

A doctor’s mistaken Ebola test: ‘We were celebrating. . . . Then everything fell apart’

When Martin Salia’s Ebola test came back negative, his friends and colleagues threw their arms around him. They shook his hand. They patted him on the back. They removed their protective gear and cried.

But when his symptoms remained nearly a week later, Salia took another test, on Nov. 10. This one came back positive, sending the Sierra Leonean doctor with ties to Maryland on a desperate, belated quest for treatment and forcing the colleagues who had embraced him into quarantine.

“We were celebrating. If the test says you are Ebola-free, we assume you are Ebola-free,” said Komba Songu M’Briwa, who cared for Salia at the Hastings Ebola Treatment Center in Freetown. “Then everything fell apart.”

Salia is now in critical condition at the Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, his family left to wonder what would have happened if he had received earlier treatment.

Al Jazeera America covers blowback to celebrity tragedy traipsing:

‘We got this, Bob Geldof, so back off’

  • As Western stars re-release 1980s charity hit, many Africans say it’s a demeaning relic that can do more harm than good

The original campaign, and similar well-meaning Western efforts, have led to an image of an Africa full of countries, and people, unable to help themselves and constantly looking to foreigners for help.

When it was announced last week that, in response to Ebola, Geldof was planning to record a song he thinks is terrible for the fourth time, there was an eruption of criticism from Africans on Twitter and elsewhere.

Though the original song was recorded to raise money for Ethiopia, African critics say the stigma its simplistic message left behind affected not only that country, but a continent of 54 hugely-varied nations.

Detractors say an unintended legacy hinders investment, hurts tourism and inspires the sort of aid that has a negative impact.

NHK WORLD covers more Japanese preparations:

Govt., city to discuss safety steps for Ebola lab

The government and a city within Tokyo Metropolis will start drafting safety measures for an advanced laboratory of infectious diseases to handle possible Ebola cases.

Health minister Yasuhisa Shiozaki on Monday visited a branch of the National Institute of Infectious Diseases in Musashimurayama City.

The facility’s laboratory is capable of analyzing the Ebola virus and other highly dangerous pathogens as well as developing vaccines for them.

From BBC News, more help on the way:

New Zealand to send Ebola medics to W Africa

New Zealand’s government has approved the deployment of 24 medical workers to West Africa to help fight Ebola.

The volunteers, backed by an investment of NZ$2m (£1m; $1.6m), will be based at the new 100-bed clinic being set up by Australia in Sierra Leone.

New Zealand also committed NZ$1m to a WHO fund to help Pacific nations prepare for a potential outbreak there.

On to the pharma front, first with Voice of America:

Researchers Turn to Deadly Tobacco for Ebola Cure

Notorious for its cancer-causing properties, the nicotine-rich product could soon prove to be effective in treating Ebola. A biopharmaceutical company in Guelph, Canada, called PlantForm, is currently testing a trial drug with the hopes of having it on the market in three to four years.

The company’s president and CEO, Don Stewart, said these are exciting times for the tobacco industry, long seen as a threat to good health.

“The possibility of creating, at very low cost, drugs for Ebola, is an exciting opportunity for us all.”

Next, via Reuters:

No safety concerns yet in trials of GSK’s Ebola vaccine

Almost 200 people have received GlaxoSmithKline’s experimental Ebola vaccine in trials in the United States, Britain, Mali and Switzerland, and the safety data so far are “very satisfactory”, scientists said on Monday.

The trials, which began just over two months ago, have been using healthy volunteers, rather than patients with Ebola, to test whether the vaccine is safe for humans.

The experimental shot uses a single Ebola virus gene from a chimpanzee virus to generate an immune response. Because it doesn’t contain any infectious virus material, it can’t infect those being vaccinated.

A plea, via the Liberian Observer:

“Ebola Must be Isolated, not the people”

European Union Ebola Coordinator and Commissioner for Humanitarian and Crisis Management, Christos Stylianides has urged countries unaffected by the Ebola Virus Disease not to discriminate against or isolate people of Ebola affected countries, but isolate the disease itself.

Commissioner Stylianides’ statement comes in the wake of isolation and discriminatory measures by many countries including Morocco, Australia and Canada to prevent people of Ebola affected countries from entering their countries.

Speaking at a brief press conference on November 14 at the EU’s Mamba Point office, Mr. Stylianides reiterated that “we want to isolate the disease, not the people.  We must not allow fear to dictate our actions.  This is the foundation of our commitment and solidarity.”

Commenting further on strategies to curb the disease and take precautionary measures to prevent future outbreaks, the EU Commissioner said now is the time to begin thinking about a plan to build infrastructures, especially the healthcare delivery system on a long-term basis, noting that success cannot be assured without a long-term plan.

And from the Associated Press, an upbeat assessment:

Hagel credits US military with Ebola progress

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Monday there are encouraging signs of progress against the Ebola virus in West Africa, and he said the U.S. military can take some credit for containing it.

Hagel told a group of 101st Airborne Division soldiers Monday that it is too early to say when the U.S. military’s Ebola mission in Liberia and Senegal will be finished.

“We’re not at the end yet,” he said.

Hagel toured the pre-deployment training that is given to soldiers before they go to West Africa. The soldiers are providing logistics and other support there but are not in direct contact with people infected with the virus. Nevertheless, soldiers are required to undergo 21 days of quarantine upon their return.

After the jump, its on to Africa and an Ebola blackout in the Sudanese press, Ebola fears in the Cote d’Ivoire, on to Mali and a critical time ahead, hundreds monitored for symptoms, and a presidential visit to the border, next to Guinea and villages reluctantly opened and a French clinic readied, then on to Liberia, with accommodations for survivors, a plea to reform responsiveness, a legislator’s call for permanent hospitals rather than mobile emergency treatment units, and Chinese help arrives, plus the woes of the pregnant in Sierra Leone. . . Continue reading

EbolaWatch: Warnings, food, and more politics


A shorter edition today, and not for lack of seeking.

We begin with the only Ebola patient in the U.S., via the Los Angeles Times:

Nebraska hospital officials: Ebola doctor still ‘extremely critical’

A surgeon who was transported to the U.S. for treatment after contracting Ebola in Sierra Leone was still in “extremely critical” condition Sunday, according to a Nebraska Medical Center spokesman.

No further details were immediately available on the patient, identified by the Church of the United Brethren in Christ as Dr. Martin Salia, 44.

Salia is a member of the church and was working as a surgeon at Kissy United Methodist Hospital in Freetown. He is a citizen of Sierra Leone and has family in the U.S., according to a church spokesman.

A presidential plea from the McClatchy Washington Bureau:

Obama to world on Ebola: We can’t build a moat around our countries

President Barack Obama and leaders of the world’s largest economies urged governments across the globe Saturday to swiftly send money, healthcare workers and equipment to combat the deadly Ebola outbreak in the West Africa.

“We invite those 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,” the G-20 countries urged in a statement issued Saturday.

Some nations have contributed. But international health experts have warned that the response remains dangerously inadequate to meet the needs in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.

And from CCTV America, an emerging critical complication:

Food price increases in Ebola affected countries

Program notes:

Food prices are soaring in countries affected by the Ebola outbreak. The U.N. has warned of food shortages. CCTV America’s Nina deVries reports from Sierra Leone on how people are coping.

The Associated Press covers the latest outbreak:

Mali on high alert with new Ebola cluster

For nearly a year, Mali had been spared the virus now blamed for killing more than 5,000 people across West Africa despite the fact the country shared a porous land border with Guinea, the country where the epidemic first erupted.

Now there are least three confirmed Ebola deaths, and two others suspected deaths in Mali’s capital, Bamako. Residents here who have seen the horrific death tolls from Ebola in neighboring Guinea now fear the worst.

“I feel uneasy because I have the impression that our authorities are not giving us the whole truth,” said Ibrahim Traore, who works at a supermarket in the capital. “There are a lot of things not being said about how the Ebola virus came to Bamako.”

Health officials now must try to track down not only family and friends who visited the 70-year-old man at his hospital bed, but also the scores of people who prepared his body for burial and attended his funeral. Teams of investigators are also headed to the border community where authorities believe the Patient Zero in the Bamako cluster — the 70-year-old man — first fell ill.

From the Associated Press, a consequence:

US to screen travelers from Mali for Ebola

Travelers from Mali will be subject to the same screening and monitoring that was ordered for people arriving from three other Ebola-affected countries, U.S. health officials said Sunday.

Mali is not suffering widespread Ebola illnesses. But federal officials are growing increasingly worried about a new cluster of seven illnesses in Mali that have left health public health workers scrambling to track and monitor at least 450 other people who may have had contact with the seven people and may be at risk.

“At this point we can’t be confident that every exposed person has been identified, or that every identified person is being monitored daily,” said Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A parallel action from AllAfrica:

Mali: France to Screen Arrivals for Ebola

France has extended its Ebola airport screening procedures to cover passengers flying into Paris from Mali after the west African country confirmed its second case of the deadly virus.

“As part of the fight against Ebola and because of the evolution of the epidemiological situation, the control and monitoring will be extended to cover passenger flights from Bamako [Mali] from Saturday 15 November 2014,” a health ministry statement said.

Passengers flying into Paris’s Charles de Gaulle and Orly international airports will have their temperatures taken and will be given information on what to do in the case of a fever running higher than 38°C within 21 days.

Punch Nigeria raises the anxiety level in a stricken country just freed of its own outbreak:

Health minister raises fear over Ebola resurgence

The Health Minister, Dr. Haliru Alhassan, has raised the fear over resurgence of Ebola Virus Disease in Nigeria.

Expressing worry over the nationwide strike embarked upon by the Joint Health Staff Union, the minister said Nigeria was not free from Ebola as long as there were reported cases of the deadly virus in any part of the world.

Alhassan, who appealed to all concerned to support the leadership role of President Goodluck Jonathan in tackling the deadly disease, said the indefinite strike embarked upon by JOHESU, at a time when many Nigerians would return home from abroad to celebrate Christmas and New Year, could threaten the success achieved.

And a move that might seem contradictory, via StarAfrica:

Nigeria’s Rivers State donates Ebola protective equipment to ECOWAS

Nigeria’s Rivers State Government in south-eastern Nigeria has announced the donation of 5,000 complete set of Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) to ECOWAS in support of Member States affected by the outbreak that has claimed more than 5,000 lives from the more than 13,000 reported cases, mainly in the region.Rivers and Lagos States reported Ebola cases in July to September but along with support from the Federal Government and development partners successfully fought the scourge, resulting in Nigeria being declared free of the disease by the World Health Organization (WHO) on 20th October 2014.

A statement by the ECOWAS Commission on Sunday in Abuja said that the Rivers State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Sampson Parker, who announced the PPEs donation on behalf of State Governor Chibuike Amaechi, to ECOWAS delegation in Port Harcourt on Friday, disclosed that the state was contributing 100 volunteer health workers to the pool of 500 pledged by Nigeria to assist ECOWAS countries affected by Ebola.

Lagos State is also contributing more than 200 of the Nigerian volunteers due to travel to their respective countries of assignment.

On to Liberia and a political move from the Associated Press:

Liberia health minister ousted in Cabinet shuffle

Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf on Sunday replaced her health minister as part of a broader Cabinet reshuffle amid widespread criticism of her government’s response to the country’s Ebola outbreak.

In a statement read on state radio, Sirleaf said Health Minister Walter Gwenigale would be replaced by George Warner, formerly head of the civil service.

“Dr. Gwenigale, who continues to have my full confidence, will continue to serve as adviser in the Ministry of Health and will continue to work with me on the presidential advisory Ebola committee until his planned retirement in February,” Sirleaf said.

A deadline set, via Reuters:

Liberia sets national target of no new Ebola cases by Dec. 25

Liberia has set a national goal of having no new cases of Ebola by Dec. 25, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said in a radio address on Sunday, in a further sign that authorities believe they are getting on top of the virus.

Liberia is the nation hardest hit by the epidemic. At least 2,812 people have died in the West African country, out of a total of 5,165 victims in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, according to World Health Organization (WHO) data on Friday.

“We continue to combat the Ebola virus and strive to achieve our national objective of zero new cases by Christmas,” Sirleaf said in an address that also announced a cabinet reshuffle.

And from the the NewDawn, allegations of a missing $12,000 [U.S. dollars, with the Liberian dollar worth slightly more than a penny]:

11 Million Ebola money missing

Several health workers in Nimba County have threatened to take the county’s health team to court over an 11 Million Liberian Dollars saga. The aggrieved health workers told The NewDawn correspondent in Nimba that their position is based on the lack of transparency by the county health team in handling the money reportedly sent to the county by the Government of Liberia.

The head for the Nimba County health workers association, Tilekpeh Weh-Johnson, said out of the amount in question, officers-in-charge or senior officers of health facilities in the county are to receive 40,000 Liberian Dollars each, but this has not been done.

Mr. Weh-Johnson said the situation has created a bad working relationship between health workers in Nimba and the county health team.  When contracted, the head for the Nimba County health team, Dr. Collins Bowah, said that the money saga is being discussed on community radio stations in the county, but refused to confirm the actual amount involved.

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