Category Archives: Community

InSecurityWatch: War, malware, hacks, China


And a whole lot more.

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

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

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

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

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

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

From BBC News, British bombs away:

RAF jets strike first IS targets in Iraq

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reuters goes against the grain:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And next door, via the Guardian:

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

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

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

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

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

CBC News covers spooky rhetoric:

Homegrown terrorism remains biggest threat, Jeh Johnson says

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

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

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

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

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

Security could drive Pan Am costs higher, minister warns

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

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

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

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

UK government plans curbs on nonviolent extremism

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

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

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

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

The Associated Press embarrasses:

Germany unable to meet NATO readiness target

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

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

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

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

New Europe drones on:

France, Germany to offer drones to monitor ceasefire in Ukraine

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

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

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

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

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

Pentagon’s ‘Combat Cloud’ Concept Taking Shape

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

The Pentagon has been bitten by the Steve Jobs bug.

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

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

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

German victim-blaming from the Guardian:

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

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

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

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

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

Maledictions enabled, via Ars Technica:

Advertising firms struggle to kill malvertisements

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

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

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

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

A major hack counterattack from the Guardian:

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

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

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

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

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

EbolaWatch: Warnings, aid, improv, anxiety


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

BLOG Ebola

Next, an African Ebola update from CCTV Africa:

Ebola: Efforts to Contain the Virus Intensified

Program notes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

More from FrontPageAfrica:

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

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

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

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

From the Japan Times, Liberian aid arrives:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The NewDawn in Liberia covers another cash infusion:

Liberia gets US$11.4 Million from ADB

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

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

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

CBC News covers another cause for anxiety:

Ebola virus in Liberia creates body recovery dangers

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

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

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

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

Voice of America covers frustration:

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

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

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

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

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

Creative Danger: Liberians Use Artificial PPE to Aid Ebola Patients

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

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

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

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

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

Deutsche Welle covers a promise:

UN Ebola chief vows swift progress in fighting outbreak

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bill Gates warns Ebola could spread beyond West Africa

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

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

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

The Sun Nigeria covers another development:

Lagos ready to fund research on Ebola

  • … As Fashola challenges Iwu, others

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

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

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

And Punch Nigeria covers a settlement:

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

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

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

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

While IRIN focus on the media:

Ebola and the media – Nigeria’s good news story

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

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

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

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

Ebola Outbreak in Nigeria Appears to Be Over

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

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

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

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

Ebola screening for ships’ crews in Nigeria

Program notes:

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

Another screening program, via Voice of America:

Guinea Intensifies Ebola Screening at Sierra Leone Border

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

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

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

From BuzzFeed, a tragic consequence:

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

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

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

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

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

From TheLocal.se, another European non-infection:

Stockholm patient tests negative after Ebola fears

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

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

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

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

What to expect when returning from West Africa

Program notes:

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

EbolaWatch: Numbers, aid, desperate measures


We begin with a number from Bloomberg:

70: The Magic Number That Could End the Ebola Epidemic

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ebola treatment centres

Program notes:

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

The Washington Post embraces the military approach:

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

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

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

Shanghai Daily covers an opening:

UN opens Ebola headquarters in Ghana

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

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

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

From the Japan Times, on the ground:

Beds, staff scarce in Ebola-hit Monrovia

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

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

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

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

More from CBC News:

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

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

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

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

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

AllAfrica covers another facility in another country:

Sierra Leone: President Koroma Commissions Mobile Lab and Holding Centre

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

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

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

From the Guardian, a public health basic:

Media and communications: the first line of defence against Ebola

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

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

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

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

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

TheLocal.de encounters an obstacle:

Germany’s Ebola mission stranded in Gran Canaria

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

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

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

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

Star Africa News covers another aid infusion:

China grants DRC $900,000 to fight Ebola

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

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

About forty people have died of the disease there.

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

35 train in handling Ebola cases

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

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

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

Yet another alarm in Europe from TheLocal.se:

Fresh Ebola case investigated in Sweden

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

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

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

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

Science covers a lamentation:

Ebola vaccine tests needlessly delayed, researchers claim

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

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

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

And Punch Nigeria has help anticipated:

2,000 German volunteers expected in Africa over Ebola

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

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

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

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

Bassa Ebola Toll Rises -Six Survivors Rejoin Families

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

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

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

AllAfrica covers a process of elimination:

Liberia: Police Barrack Cleared

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

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

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

From the New Republic in Liberia, political concerns:

Cape Mount Ebola Death Toll Troubles Caucus — Sen. Dagoseh

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

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

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

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

The Analyst covers an epidemiological spread in Liberia:

1st Ebola Case Confirmed in Gbarpolu County

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

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

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

New Republic covers help from another quarter:

Agriculture Ministry Joins Ebola Fight

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

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

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

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

Ebola: Liberians Turn To God for Healing

Program note:

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

American drones, making children fear blue sky


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

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

From HBO’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver:

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Drones

Program notes:

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

It’s widely accepted and extremely terrifying.

Two visions of the 1960s, seen from the Bay


The San Francisco Bay Area was a cultural stew in ferment in the 1960s, with the early years of the decade consumed in political unrest, most notably on the Berkeley campus of the University of California where the Free Speech Movement was to galvanize the nation, and neatly dressed and conventionally barbered students rose up over suppression of tables where student groups leafleted and cajoled students about causes and campaigns of all persuasions.

Our first video is a talk by the biographer of the movement’s seminal figure, Mario Savio, which we’ll preface with a clip of Savio himself, delivering the lines for which he is best-remembered. Via Anything that defies my sense of reason…..:

Mario Savio: Sproul Hall Steps, December 2, 1964

Excerpt:

“There is a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can’t take part; you can’t even passively take part, and you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop. And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you’re free, the machine will be prevented from working at all!”

“Savio’s moral clarity, his eloquence, and his democratic style of leadership inspired thousands of fellow Berkeley students to protest university regulations which severely limited political speech and activity on campus. The non-violent campaign culminated in the largest mass arrest in American history, drew widespread faculty support, and resulted in a revision of university rules to permit political speech and organising. This significant advance for student freedom rapidly spread to countless other colleges and universities across the country.” Via stonecast, see here:

More here: http://tinyurl.com/3b46o2

Savio’s passion sparked an ongoing interest by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, resulting in a large collection of files now posted online.

Robert Cohen, social studies and history professor at New York University, is the author of the 2009 biography Freedom’s Orator: Mario Savio and the Radical Legacy of the 1960s, and he spoke at Berkeley 23 September at the university’s On the Page forum for new students. He was the logical choice given the Free Speech’s Movement’s 50th anniversary now underway.

From UC Berkeley Events:

Can Students Change the World? Mario Savio and the Radical Legacy of the 1960s

Program notes:

Author Robert Cohen delivers the keynote address for the 2014 On the Same Page program. This year’s theme is the 50th anniversary of the Free Speech Movement, and the selected book is Cohen’s biography of Mario Savio, Freedom’s Orator.

The Human Be-In, 14 January 1967

Our second video is historic, captured two years on the other side of the Bay Bridge, at the San Francisco Polo Grounds.

It lacks the fervor of Savio’s speech, with some speakers notably unfocused and others endeavoring to gain an entirely new focus. Many of the musical groups skyrocketed to stardom, and some of the speakers would be reviled in mainstream media.

But the event would prove transformational, gathering the attention of the world’s press and triggering an obsession with all things Hippie [a neologism by San Francisco Chronicle columnist Herb Caen]. The media feeding frenzy would reach orgasmic levels later that year in San Francisco’s famous Summer of Love.

The Allen Ginsburg Project recounts the Human Be-In through the perspective of Michael Bowen, key organized an event that electrified the rapidly emerging psychedelic movement in the counterculture and showcased legendary musicians, including a trumpet solo from Dizzy Gillespie:

“There were some old rugs and inexpensive Indian cloth prints laid out on (a) flatbed truck along with some pillows. The well-known spiritual, intellectual, and writer friends that Michael Bowen had talked into coming to the event from all over America, sat on those pillows and on those rugs in a human-tableau designed as a piece of living art. They included Allen Ginsberg, Timothy Leary, Gary Snyder, Jack Weinberg, Michael McClure, Richard Alpert, Lenore Kandel, Suzuki Roshi from the local Zen Center, and Jerry Rubin, along with Bowen’s good friends, the drummers with their drums from the mountains of Big Sur, California. The people who were arriving could see that those “famous” individuals, whose work they had read directly, or read about in the media, had also journeyed to the Be-In to simply sit and be with them as equals.”

Cohen – “The Gathering of the Tribes” in a “union of love and activism” was an overwhelming success, Over twenty thousand people came to the Polo Fields in Golden Gate Park. The psychedelic bands played – Jefferson Airplane, The Grateful Dead and Quicksilver Messenger Service. Poets Allen Ginsberg, Gary Snyder, Michael McClure, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Lew Welch, and Lenore Kandel, read, chanted and sang. Tim(othy) Leary told everyone to “Turn on, Tune in and Drop out”, the Diggers gave out free food. The Hells Angels guarded the generator cables that someone had cut, Owsley Stanley gave out free acid; a parachutist dropped like an angel from the sky and the whole world watched on the evening news.

More here and here.

We can remember avidly reading accounts of the event as they poured out of the noisy teletypes at the Las Vegas Review-Journal, where we were 20 years old and less than a year into our first job at a daily newspaper. We had dropped our first hit of acid at a college prof’s Christmas party.

With that, from Docs&Interviews on MV:

Human Be-In – Full Program – 1/14/1967 – Polo Fields, Golden Gate Park

H/T to Open Culture.

One key difference between the audience at Sproul Hall was the LSD mentioned by the Allen Ginsburg Project.

It their marvelous 1985 history Acid Dreams, the Complete Social History of LSD: The CIA, the Sixties, and Beyond [out of print but online here], Martin A. Lee and Bruce Shlain note that Be-In organizer Bowen was a member of “a small but dedicated band of acid evangelists known as the Psychedelic Rangers,” evangelists for LSD who baptized recruits with large doses.

But many other seminal figures, including Ginsburg himself and novelist Ken Kesey, got their first hits of acid as subjects in research funded by the Central Intelligence Agency [which once ran an operation dosing prostitutes’ clients in San Francisco and secretly filming the results]. In the words of John Lennon, “We must always remember to thank the CIA and the Army for LSD, by the way.”

LSD was cool, the Free Speech Movement had been hot.

Both movements would recede in subsequent years, though their legacies would linger. While Savio spoke of active resistance, Timothy Leary preached a gospel of Turn On, Tune In, and Drop Out [a perfect strategy, one might note, for blunting the edge of those who might otherwise Turn On, Tune In, and Stay In.

Surviving Ebola: The grim reality in Sierra Leone


From Channel 4 in Britain, a stunning documentary conveying the stark realities on the ground as the deadly epidemic wreaks havoc in West Africa.

From 4oD Documentaries:

Surviving Ebola

Here’s the Guardian’s review by Sam Wollaston:

Unreported World: Surviving Ebola review – nightmare hospital where ambulances double as hearses

  • ‘I’m feeling cold, sir’ said the little girl … This brave documentary reminds us the Ebola crisis is vividly real and heartbreakingly sad

A makeshift jungle hospital – tents, corrugated iron roofs and bright orange barriers – looks more like some kind of sinister detention centre. The people here are even more sinister-looking, in orange plastic suits, white boots, green gloves, headdresses, masks, ski goggles, and not an inch of actual person visible; they could be aliens. But these are the staff, the doctors. They’re like this because we’re in Sierra Leone and this is Unreported World: Surviving Ebola (Channel 4).

It looks like a nightmare. It is a nightmare – if anything, the title is misleadingly optimistic. The death ledger book is filling up. There have been 73 deaths in the past month alone. The body of the latest, a nine-year-old boy, still highly infectious, is carried to the morgue, a small bundle in a white plastic sheet. He will be buried round the back in a clearing that is rapidly running out of space.

Victims have been hiding at home and infecting their families. More patients arrive, six members of one family, staggering out of an ambulance, very sick and very scared. The ambulances double up as hearses.

Some people come in a van that is sprayed with chlorine after every journey. Like this mother and her daughter. But she, the mother is already dead. As her body is carried to the morgue, the seven-year-old child cries out: “I’m feeling cold, sir, I’m feeling cold.” A tiny utterance, but one of the saddest things I’ve ever heard. She dies later, too. The van is sprayed.

And as if that wasn’t hell enough, there’s a rumour in the nearby town that Ebola is just a hoax, devised by doctors so that they can steal blood from people. They’re rioting. Civil unrest to add to the terror, vomit, blood, diarrhoea and death, while Médecins Sans Frontières doctors fight a battle it appears they cannot win.

Shaunagh Connaire and Wael Dabbous’s short film is a chilling and bleak one. It is also brave – there must have been some risk involved. And it is important. Of course you knew the Ebola story, but perhaps, like for me, it was just that – a news story, distant, and a name. This was a rude, visceral wake-up to the terrible reality.

EbolaWatch: Crisis, shortages, help, & more


First up, a notable quarantine from the Associated Press:

Liberia Health Chief Is Under Quarantine

Liberia’s chief medical officer is placing herself under quarantine for 21 days after her office assistant died of Ebola.

Bernice Dahn, a deputy health minister who has represented Liberia at regional conferences intended to combat the ongoing epidemic, said Saturday that she did not have any Ebola symptoms but wanted to make sure that she was not infected.

Liberia’s government has asked people to keep themselves isolated for 21 days if they think they have been exposed. The unprecedented scale of the outbreak, however, has made it difficult to trace the contacts of victims and quarantine those who might be at risk.

“Of course we made the rule, so I am home for 21 days,” Ms. Dahn said. “I did it on my own. I told my office staff to stay at home for the 21 days. That’s what we need to do.”

She’s clearly better off than most of her fellow citizens, as the Toronto Globe and Mail reveals:

Newest Liberian Ebola treatment centre overwhelmed with cases

Less than a week after opening, the 150-bed unit is already overwhelmed with 206 patients, and more are arriving each day. Some lie huddled on the dusty ground outside the gates until they are carried in, while a steady stream of ambulances, sirens blaring, bring more patients.

“We’re trying to squeeze in as many as possible,” said Atai Omoruto, the overworked Ugandan doctor in charge of the centre. “We’re still getting so many patients, every day. We’re using the corridors. Whatever space is available, we’re putting camp beds there.”

As she spoke, trucks arrived with piles of donated mattresses from a local microfinance organization and a load of wooden bed frames from a Liberian carpenters’ union. But the new treatment unit, on Bushrod Island near the city’s seaport, is making barely a dent in an ever-growing disaster that has already killed more than 3,000 people in five West African countries. Monrovia has roughly 500 treatment beds, but Liberia as a whole needs thousands and they have been slow to arrive.

It’s not just Liberia, as this clip from the Voice of America makes clear:

Sierra Leone Struggles to Care For Ebola Patients

Program notes:

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It’s a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.

Al Jazeera English covers backlash:

Guinea residents ‘refusing’ Ebola treatment

  • Residents say people frightened to go to clinics because of conspiracy theories that they will be killed by doctors

Residents of the Guinean capital Conakry, hit hard by Ebola, say they are afraid to seek treatment at hospitals for fear of being poisoned by doctors, as the death toll across West Africa passed the 3,000 mark.

Local resident Tairu Diallo said on Friday that people living in his neighbourhood refused to seek medical help and instead stayed at home, trying to alleviate their symptoms with drugs bought at a pharmacy.

Diallo said people think doctors at hospitals inject patients with a deadly poison. “If we have a stomach ache we don’t go to hospital because doctors there will inject you and you will die,” he said.

While Reuters covers the pale rider’s companions:

Ebola’s spread brings host of other diseases in its wake

Last week, fear of Ebola caused locals to kill eight members of an Ebola education team, sick people are avoiding clinics, and the World Health Organization says that 208 of the 373 infected healthcare workers in the region have died from the virus.

As a result, “the health services of West Africa have to a very large degree broken down,” according to Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust international health charity.

Experts predict a quadrupling in deaths caused by diarrhea, pneumonia, and particularly malaria, next year, and the collapse of immunization programs means that children are at a higher risk of diphtheria, polio and tuberculosis. Not to mention the impact to things like childbirth, diabetes and mental health.

So it’s a race against time. According to WHO director of strategy Dr. Christopher Dye, “If control efforts are only partly successful, Ebola viral disease in the human population could become ‘a permanent feature of life in West Africa.’”

From Star Africa News, a call from the Economic Community Of West African States:

ECOWAS calls for regional response to Ebola

ECOWAS has called for urgent mobilization of the Armed and Security Forces of Member States to strengthen the regional response and interventions against Ebola, according to a statement issued on Saturday.The body’s Coordinating Ministerial Group for the implementation of the Regional Operational Plan on the fight against the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) issued the statement on Saturday in Abuja after on Friday meeting with a Ministerial Group Chaired by Ghana’s Health Minister, Dr. Kwaku Agyeman.

It recommended that the armed and security forces should provide, among others, medical personnel and logistics as well as mobilize the support of military engineers regiments in setting up Ebola treatment centers in Ebola-hit countries.

It added that the Ministerial Group, which considered the report of the just-ended two-day meeting of the ECOWAS Technical Monitoring Surveillance and Group on Ebola response, equally called for the provision of adequate financial incentives to National Health personnel already on ground in Member States.

Another call, this one from China, via Xinhua:

Chinese FM calls for more global assistance as Ebola epidemic rages

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Saturday called for more global assistance to African countries as the Ebola epidemic is raging in some countries in the region.

Wang made the appeal while speaking at the ongoing annual high- level debate of the UN General Assembly, which opened here Wednesday. “The Ebola epidemic, which is raging in some African countries, has once again sounded the alarm bell for global health security,” he said.

“As a good brother and good partner of Africa sharing weal and woe with it, China will continue to stand firmly with the African people, and support and assist them to the best of its ability,” Wang said, pledging China’s active part in the international assistance efforts.

The Los Angeles Times covers those left behind:

Ebola outbreak often leaves children alone and terrified

As the Ebola virus sweeps through Liberian villages, through its towns and cities, whole families are being cut down by the disease. Parents who die leave behind children no one wants to care for, rejected by neighbors and relatives, who order them to stay away. With an acute shortage of beds, the lucky ones are picked up by ambulance and taken to treatment units. Many of the rest die on the streets.

In Monrovia, the capital, all the Ebola treatment unit beds are full, vacancies opening only as patients die or survivors are discharged. The IMC center, which opened just last week, is one of two in Liberia with available beds. It has admitted 26 patients, seven of whom have died. Two of the dead were children.

The main priority in the treatment units is to keep the workers safe. Next is to isolate infectious patients to prevent spread of the disease. Providing decent care has to come third.

And from the London Telegraph, a short clip about those children:

The abandoned children of the Liberia Ebola outbreak

Program notes:

Children whose families have been killed by outbreak of Ebola in West Africa have found themselves shunned through fear of the deadly disease.

On to Liberia, with new numbers from The Analyst:

Bong County: 21 New Suspected Ebola Deaths Reported

Reports coming from the Central Province of Bong County say there were 36 new suspected Ebola cases in the County last week. This was disclosed by the head of the Bong County Ebola Response task force Superintendent Selena Polson Mappy last Thursday. Out the number, 21 died, she said.

Superintendent Mappy also disclosed that four persons out of the number of confirmed cases that were treated at the Ebola Testing Unit have also died. Appearing on a live radio talk show, Info Box on Radio Gbarnga, Superintendent Mappy said, although the task force and other stakeholders continue to make progress in the fight against the killer disease in the County, more needs to be done to contain the spread of the virus.

The Bong County task force chairperson called on citizens of the County to desist from denial and take preventive measures to avoid further spread of the virus. Superintendent Mappy said Liberia can only succeed in combating the killer disease when citizens accept the existence of the virus and join the fight, adding that plans are underway for the construction of another Ebola testing unit in the County. The Bong superintendent said the facility is expected to be constructed by the US Army at the former UNMIL base in Maimu Salala district

The Analyst again, with evidence of spreading contagion:

Grand Gedeh Records First Ebola Case

A 35-year-old man in Zwedru, Grand Gedeh County, has tested Ebola positive, making it the first case in the county since the outbreak of the disease in the country in March. The man, whose name is being withheld by the Liberia News Agency, was showing signs and symptoms of the disease when the Grand Gedeh County Health Team (CHT) picked him up from the Zwedru Central Market last Friday.

In a brief interview with the Liberia News Agency Wednesday, the Coordinator of the CHT, Netus Nowena, said the man migrated from Ganta, Nimba County to Grand Gedeh County following the death of nine of his family members from the disease early this month.

According to Nowena, the health team was taking the man to Gbarnga, Bong County for treatment when they observed that he was showing signs and symptoms of the virus, adding that he later tested positive for the disease. According to Nowena, the 36 people who were at the holding center for 21 days of observation have been released without any signs or symptoms of Ebola.

The Liberian Observer covers another threat:

Ebola Weakens Liberia Food Security

Liberia has been the hardest hit country in West Africa’s Ebola outbreak of the Ebola virus disease (EVD) with more than 3000 cases, Voice of America (VOA) reports.

With this latest development, it is reported that 14 of Liberia’s 15 counties have been affected. Some of the first cases in Liberia were reported in northern Lofa County. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (ANFAO) said, the outbreak has had a big effect on food security in the country.

The FAO has just completed a four-day assessment of Lofa County, where a three-man team visited the towns of Foya and Barkedu. The far northern area is close to the border with Guinea. That’s where the World Health Organization (WHO) reports the Ebola outbreak probably began early this year with the case of a two year old boy.

FAO representative, Alexis Bonte is quoted as telling the VOA’s Joe DeCapua that Lofa County residents are “terrified at how fast the disease is spreading.” He says that “neighbors, friends and family members are dying within just a few days of exhibiting shocking symptoms.”

After the jump, calls for mobilization in Sierra Leone,  Guinea, and Gambia, Sierra Leone’s Patient Zero heads home, Ivory Coast ends airline restrictions, an HIV drug cures Ebola in Liberia, World Bank warns Nigeria over Ebola complacency, another American comes home for treatment, Cuba medical teams arrive, more cash is promised by Europe, Asia, and the IMF. . . Continue reading