Category Archives: Cuba

InSecurityWatch: Pols, cops, hacks, terror, zones


And so much more, starting with the inevitable from BBC News:

US-Cuba shift: Opponents threaten to block changes

Opponents of President Barack Obama’s new Cuba policy have threatened to block his efforts to restore diplomatic relations after 50 years of hostility.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio promised on CNN to block the nomination of any US ambassador to Cuba. Other anti-Castro legislators suggested Congress would removing funding for any normalised ties with the country.

US-Cuban ties have been frozen since the early 1960s – a policy of isolation Mr Obama condemned as a failure. On Wednesday, the US president said it was time for a new approach.

Part of the deal with the New York Times:

C.I.A. Mole, Now Out of Prison, Helped U.S. Identify Cuban Spies

He was, in many ways, a perfect spy — a man so important to Cuba’s intelligence apparatus that the information he gave to the Central Intelligence Agency paid dividends long after Cuban authorities arrested him and threw him in prison for nearly two decades.

Rolando Sarraff Trujillo has now been released from prison and flown out of Cuba as part of a swap for three Cuban spies imprisoned in the United States that President Obama announced Wednesday in a televised speech. Mr. Obama did not give Mr. Sarraff’s name, but several current American officials identified him and a former official discussed some of the information he gave to the C.I.A. while burrowed deep inside Cuba’s Directorate of Intelligence.

Mr. Sarraff’s story is a chapter in a spy vs. spy drama between the United States and Cuba that played on long after the end of the Cold War, decades after Cuba ceased to be a serious threat to the United States. The story — at this point — remains just a sketchy outline, with Mr. Sarraff hidden from public view and his work for the C.I.A. still classified.

Another frightening case of transnational corporate exceptionalism from the Guardian:

US tries to strike deal with EU for immunity over online security breaches

  • Critics fear Tisa talks could be used to further interests of large corporations and undermine right to privacy

The US is attempting to secure immunity from investigation for online security breaches by major US companies under negotiations between Washington and Brussels, according to leaked documents seen by the Guardian.

Such a deal would prevent US companies that were operating inside the EU from being prosecuted by regulators or law officers for data breaches or claims of negligence in the host country, forcing European governments to pursue cases in the US courts.

Public service unions said the Trade in Services Agreement (Tisa) talks in Geneva revealed how the US planned to protect homegrown businesses from regulations that might hinder their expansion into sensitive areas such as government data handling and healthcare.

Rosa Pavanelli, general secretary of Public Services International (PSI), which represents 650 unions in 150 countries, said the leaked documents, obtained by the Associated Whistleblowing Press, confirmed her fears that “Tisa is being used to further the interests of some of the largest corporations on earth”.

Another major law enforcement failure, from the Los Angeles Times:

Feds sue N.Y.C. citing ‘deeply disturbing’ conditions at Rikers Island

Federal prosecutors sued New York City on Thursday over its handling of violence against young inmates held on Rikers Island, calling the jail complex a place where adolescents are “subjected to unconstitutional conditions and confinement.”

Preet Bharara, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in a filing Thursday that his office wanted to speed reforms at the facility following a Justice Department report in August that found “Rikers is a dangerous place” where a “pervasive climate of fear exists.”

At a news conference announcing the suit, Bharara said, “Today we have taken a legal step that we believe is necessary …. Much, much more needs to be done,” to safeguard inmates at Rikers.

Before federal officials filed the court documents, they notified New York Mayor Bill de Blasio of their intention. Bharara said the mayor supported the move.

The Los Angeles Times again, with the politics of race in Ferguson:

Ferguson-area school district strips power from black voters, ACLU says

The American Civil Liberties Union on Thursday filed a federal lawsuit against a school district that serves Ferguson, Mo., alleging that the district disenfranchises black voters.

The lawsuit, filed in conjunction with the Missouri NAACP, comes after months of scrutiny by government agencies and civil rights groups into the area’s local governments and predominantly white political leadership following the Aug. 9 police shooting of an unarmed black man. That incident has triggered a protest movement that has yet to fully subside.

The Ferguson-Florissant School District has seven board members, and only one is black. The district serves 11,000 students in northern St. Louis County, 79% of whom are black, according to the ACLU.

The school board members are selected in at-large elections. The lawsuit charges that because black voters are a minority inside the district’s boundaries, their relative voting strength is unfairly weakened in at-large elections.

From RT America, another troublesome Ferguson failure:

Ferguson grand jury witness wants to “stop calling blacks n*****s”

Program notes:

One of the witnesses in the grand jury that reviewed the actions of Ferguson, Mo. police officer Darren Wilson is under scrutiny by journalists who believe she may have not even been at the scene of the shooting. Adding to their speculation is a journal entry from “Witness 40,” in which she writes that she wanted to “drive to Florisant… Need to understand the Black race better so I stop calling Blacks n*****s.” Andrew Goldberg, managing editor of The Smoking Gun, gives more details to RT’s Ben Swann.

Cold War 2.0, with added repartee, via the Japan Times:

Danger in the skies as Russia, NATO play cat-and-mouse

Recent close shaves between Russian fighters and civilian aircraft highlight the dangers of the cat-and-mouse game being played out between Moscow and the West in European skies amid the crisis in Ukraine, analysts say.

In the latest incident, Sweden said Dec. 12 that a Russian military jet nearly collided with a passenger plane south of Malmo shortly after take-off from Copenhagen International Airport.

Both countries called in their Russian ambassadors to protest, only to be told that a huge increase in Russian military activity in recent months was “a response to NATO’s activities and escalation in the region.”

Russia later accused Swedish authorities of being under the influence after smoking too much cannabis.

World War 2.0, via Al Jazeera America:

Dutch right-wing politician charged with inciting hatred against Moroccans

  • Geert Wilders’ political party tops opinion polls in the Netherlands

Anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders will be prosecuted in the Netherlands for alleged discrimination and inciting hatred against Moroccans during election campaigning in March, prosecutors said on Thursday.

The charges stem from an incident in The Hague, when Wilders led an anti-Moroccan chant in a cafe, which was broadcast nationally and prompted 6,400 complaints to the police.

Wilders asked supporters if they wanted more or fewer Moroccans in their city, triggering the chant: “Fewer! Fewer! Fewer!” A smiling Wilders responded, “We’ll take care of that.”

In a later TV interview, he referred to “Moroccan scum.”

Torture lessons from Cold War 1.0, from Newsweek:

When Torture Backfires: What the Vietcong Learned and the CIA Didn’t

The CIA is hardly the only spy service to grapple with blowback from making prisoners scream. Even leaders of Communist Vietnam’s wartime intelligence agency, notorious for torturing American POWs, privately knew that “enhanced interrogation techniques,” as the CIA calls them, could create more problems than solutions, according to internal Vietnamese documents reviewed by Newsweek.

In many cases, torturing people wrongly suspected of being enemy spies caused “extremely regrettable losses and damage,” says one of the documents, released to little notice in 1993 by Hanoi’s all-powerful Public Security Service (PSS). But unlike the CIA, Vietnam’s security service constantly engaged in Marxist-style “self-criticism” to review its mistakes, particularly those caused by relying on confessions extracted by torture, the recently translated Communist documents show.

The documents were obtained and translated by Christopher E. Goscha, a history professor at the University of Montreal and one of the leading international scholars on Indochina during the French colonial period. He included them in his book, Historical Dictionary of the Indochina War (1945-1954): An International and Interdisciplinary Approach, which was published to little notice in Denmark in 2011. “Torture and intelligence gathering in a time of war are a tricky combination,” he told Newsweek, “and the [Communists’] policing and military intelligence services were no exception to the rule.”

On to the battlefield, via BBC News:

IS leaders killed by US air strikes, Pentagon chief says

US air strikes have killed several high-ranking military leaders of Islamic State (IS) in Iraq, the Pentagon’s top officer says. Gen Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the strikes aimed to hamper the Islamist group’s ability to conduct attacks, supply fighters and finance operations.

IS controls a swathe of Iraq and Syria, where it has declared a caliphate.

Meanwhile, Kurdish forces say they have broken the IS siege of Mount Sinjar.

Gen Dempsey told the Wall Street Journal that the loss of IS leaders was “disruptive to their planning and command and control”. He added: “These are high-value targets, senior leadership.”

Cyberconvolutions from CBC News:

Hackers posing as Syrian-Canadians may be tied to ISIS

  • Malware aims to expose location of attacker’s target

Hackers suspected of ties to ISIS posed as Syrian-Canadians to try to implant malicious software on a computer of a Syrian citizen media group, an internet watchdog says.

A Citizen Lab report released today says there’s strong evidence that the Islamic jihadist group sent the phishing email in late November, but it’s not conclusive.

“This bears little resemblance to anything we’ve seen from the usual suspects,” said report co-author John Scott-Railton. “That, combined with who they are targeting … gives us pause and makes us think that maybe we’re looking at ISIS malware.”

If ISIS is responsible for the attempted attack on the citizen media group, it could mark an early warning sign that the group is embracing a new tactic in its fight to establish a caliphate.

Another ironic hack, via Nextgov:

48,000 Federal Employees Potentially Affected by Second Background Check Hack

The Office of Personnel Management is alerting more than 48,000 federal employees their personal information may have been exposed following a breach at KeyPoint Government Solutions, which conducts background investigations of federal employees seeking security clearances.

The total number of employees affected is 48,439, according to an email from OPM Chief Information Officer Donna Seymour obtained by Nextgov.

Seymour said OPM worked closely with the Department of Homeland Security to investigate the incident, “and while we found no conclusive evidence that [personally identifiable information] was taken by the intruder, OPM has elected to conduct these notifications out of an abundance of caution.”

And yet another embarrassing hack, via the Los Angeles Times:

Internet authority ICANN says it was hacked

The Internet authority responsible the Web’s address system has been hacked, compromising employee emails and personal information.

The Internet Corp. for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN, said Tuesday that it fell victim to a “spear phishing” attack in November. The hack involved emails crafted to look as though they came from the organization’s own domain.

Earlier this month, ICANN learned that the stolen employee credentials were used to access other systems aside from email, including the Centralized Zone Data System that grants access to private employee information. Hackers accessed employees’ names, addresses, email addresses, phone numbers and usernames. The digital thieves also found employee passwords, though that information was encrypted instead of saved as plain text, ICANN said.

And a transition our first after-the-jump, hack-of-the-year stories, via the Associated Press:

Sony hacking fallout puts all companies on alert

Companies across the globe are on high alert to tighten up network security to avoid being the next company brought to its knees by hackers like those that executed the dramatic cyberattack against Sony Pictures Entertainment.

The hack, which a U.S. official has said investigators believe is linked to North Korea, culminated in the cancellation of a Sony film and ultimately could cost the movie studio hundreds of millions of dollars. That the hack included terrorist threats and was focused on causing major corporate damage, rather than on stealing customer information for fraud like in the breaches at Home Depot and Target, indicates a whole new frontier has emerged in cybersecurity. Suddenly every major company could be the target of cyberextortion.

“The Sony breach is a real wake-up call even after the year of mega-breaches we’ve seen,” says Lee Weiner, Boston security firm Rapid7’s senior vice president of products and engineering. “This is a completely different type of data stolen with the aim to harm the company.”

“Movie studios have, by and large, behaved as high-security intellectual property purveyors; prints have been tightly controlled, screeners are watermarked, and bootleggers are prosecuted wherever possible,” says Seth Shapiro, a professor at the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts. He said that’s what makes it so surprising that email leaks showed that Sony executives apparently gave out passwords in unencrypted emails and made other security blunders.

After the jump, on to the hack of the year, starting with another film pulled by another studio, a White House declaration, possible responses, a media war victor, potential impacts on the studio system, Sony emails force apologetics, an author enters the game, a plot twist about plot twists, revelations about studio battles with Google, plus curious legal ties, major router hackability revealed, Japanese ransomware debuts, a rebel ceasefire in Colombian and a violent protest in Brazil, complaints of wasted aid in Pakistan, thousands may be headed for Pakistani gallows, while Pakistan asks for help for Washington, and a court bails a major terrorism suspect, Christian fear in Indian as Hindu violence rises, a U.N. call for punitive action against North Korea and a North Korean nuclear count, a South Korean rift complicates air force plans, China clamps down on foreign television, Japan redefines scope of future military actions, and allegations of a curious cabal of upper crust British killer pedophiles. . .   Continue reading

EbolaWatch: Worries, vaccines, campaigns, fire


From IRIN, the malady lingers on:

Mystery over Ebola survivors’ ailments

For some Ebola survivors, overcoming the lethal viral assault has not heralded a full return to good health. An array of ailments including headache, joint pains, vision and hearing problems have afflicted convalescents; experts are still uncertain of the exact cause.

Not all survivors of the virus, which has been rampant in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone since earlier this year and killed some 70 percent of patients, suffer the symptoms, the extremes of which include amenorrhea (the absence of menstruation) and erectile dysfunction. It is also not yet known why only some are affected.

Margaret Nanyonga, World Health Organization (WHO) consultant clinician, who has assessed 85 Ebola survivors with various symptoms in Sierra Leone’s eastern town of Kenema, told IRIN that some of the ailments were treated, but others such as vision and hearing problems tended to persist.

“The ladies complained of menstrual failure, but these resumed after three months. They also complained about hair loss. Men complained of testicular pains. We don’t know whether it can lead to impotence or not. That is a worry. Some men have reported erectile dysfunction. There are also psychosocial disorders, loss of sleep, anxiety and depression,” she said.
Focus on survivors

Nanyonga explained that the clinic she operated in Kenema is still the only one of its kind in the country dealing with post-Ebola conditions. Responding to Ebola outbreaks in the past, she said, has often ended when the virus is brought under control.

“No one had taken interest in the survivors. After fighting the epidemic, that was the end. But before, there were fewer people surviving Ebola,” she said.

More on a story we posted Wednesday, via the Guardian:

World Health Organisation and DfID slow to react on Ebola, say UK MPs

  1. Parliamentary committee censures WHO and Department for International Development and warns of dangerous inadequacy of global health systems

The House of Commons international development committee has criticised the WHO and also the Department for International Development (DfID) for not reacting quickly enough when the virus took hold earlier this year.

But it commended DfID for the “vigorous efforts” now being made in Sierra Leone, where Britain has taken the lead in international aid, mirroring the US role in neighbouring Liberia and France’s role in Guinea.

The international development committee warned that the global health system “remains dangerously inadequate for responding to health emergencies” and said “DfID should not wait for its 2015 multilateral aid review” to do something about this, adding: “The urgency of the situation warrants immediate action.”

It pressed the international development secretary Justine Greening to move quickly and decisively to guard against a repeat of the disaster, which has claimed the lives of almost 7,000 people in west Africa.

Newsweek covers the Cuban contribution:

To Fight Ebola, Cuba Is Sending Its Biggest Export – Doctors

Cuba’s export of medical professionals has gained the Communist country much praise, including most recently from the island’s neighbor and nemesis, the United States, where top officials have praised Cuba’s response to the Ebola crisis in West Africa. The Cuban contingent of medical professionals sent to the epidemic’s hot zone was larger than any other country’s.

Cuba has trained many more medical professionals per capita than any other developing or developed country. In 2010 it had 6.7 doctors for every 1,000 citizens, according to the World Bank. In the United States in the same year, there were 2.4 doctors for every 1,000 Americans. Unlike America, however, in Cuba the government alone finances medical studies, and it then controls the careers of medical professionals.

When Cuba sent 256 health workers to combat Ebola in West Africa in October, Havana was universally applauded. The World Health Organization (WHO) is “extremely grateful for the generosity of the Cuban government and these health professionals for doing their part to help us contain the worst Ebola outbreak ever known,” said Margaret Chan, the WHO’s director general.

Another vaccine heads to trials, via Reuters:

China approves experimental Ebola vaccine for clinical trials

China has approved a domestically developed experimental Ebola vaccine for clinical trials, the official Xinhua news agency said on Thursday, citing the People’s Liberation Army logistics unit.

Scientists around the world are racing to develop Ebola vaccines after the world’s worst outbreak of the virus, which has killed more than 6,000 people in West Africa this year.

The Chinese vaccine is being developed by the Academy of Military Medical Sciences, Xinhua said, a military research unit which is also involved in developing a drug to treat the disease.

Another trial, via StarAfrica:

Kenya begins Ebola Vaccine trials

Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) researchers in Kilifi County in the country’s coastal region have started the human testing of a vaccine designed to protect against Ebola.

The first dose of the VSV Ebola vaccine was administered to a health worker on Wednesday evening at the Kilifi County Hospital. The Phase 1 trials are part of a wider World Health Organization (WHO) led consortium (VEBCON) funded by the Wellcome Trust.

The Kenyan trials, and other trials that are taking place in the USA, Germany, Switzerland and Gabon, will test the vaccine’s safety and its ability to generate an immune system response in healthy adults.

The vaccine is administered as a single dose after which the participants will be monitored closely. Early trial results will be provided in February 2015.

From Sierra Leone, a double tragedy via the Associated Press:

Ebola: 11th Sierra Leone doctor dies; fire destroys supplies

One of Sierra Leone’s most senior physicians died Thursday from Ebola, the 11th doctor in the country to succumb to the disease, a health official said.

In neighboring Guinea, a fire destroyed medicine crucial to fighting Ebola. The fire engulfed a warehouse at the Conakry airport and burned everything inside, said Dr. Moussa Konate, head of logistics for Guinea’s Ebola response. He could not immediately say how much had been lost.

The death of Dr. Victor Willoughby, who tested positive for Ebola on Saturday, was a major loss for Sierra Leone, said Dr. Brima Kargbo, the country’s chief medical officer.

“Dr. Victor Willoughby was a mentor to us physicians and a big loss to the medical profession,” said Kargbo. “He has always been available to help junior colleagues.”

The 67-year-old died Thursday morning, just hours after an experimental drug arrived in the country for him. The arrival of ZMAb, developed in Canada, had raised hopes for Willoughby’s survival. But he died before a dose could be administered, said Kargbo. ZMAb is related to ZMapp, another experimental drug that has been used to treat some Ebola patients. The drugs’ efficacy in treating Ebola has not yet been proven.

More on the fire from the U.N. News Center:

Ebola: ‘Regrettable loss’ caused by warehouse fire in Guinea

A fire engulfed a United Nations warehouse in Guinea today that contained medicines and laboratory materials used for the fight against Ebola, causing no casualties but “a regrettable loss” in supplies, which the UN mission there vowed to quickly replace. An investigation into the fire was underway.

“This is a regrettable loss, but no one was hurt and we will move quickly together with our partners to replace the lost supplies”, said Anthony Banbury, Head of the UN Mission for Emergency Ebola Response (UNMEER).

“We certainly won’t be deterred in our fight against Ebola,” he said.

UNMEER reported that the fire in the warehouse, mainly containing medicines and laboratory materials, was discovered around 8:00 a.m. local time when workers arrived at facility in the main humanitarian logistics base of the airport and of the city of Conakry, the capital of Guinea – one of the three most affected countries by Ebola in West Africa.

No casualties had been reported, the mission said, and added that the personal protective equipment stored in tents next to the warehouse had not been touched by the fire.

The exact amount of property and material damaged as a result of the fire is not yet known, and an investigation into the fire was underway, according to UNMEER.

The UNMEER warehouse is used by Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), the World Health Organization (WHO), UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Red Cross, the World Food Programme (WFP), and Pharmacie Centrale de Guinée to store supplies for their Ebola Emergency Response.

Preparations, via Sky News:

Sierra Leone Braced For More Ebola Cases

  • Fears of a sharp increase in cases mean even those who have not died from the disease are being buried in Ebola graveyards

Sierra Leone, caught in the grip of the Ebola crisis, is bracing itself for a sharp increase in cases of the killer disease over the Christmas period.

The Government is so worried about the situation it has outlawed any seasonal public celebrations and soldiers are being put on the streets to make sure no one disobeys the directive.

The outbreak of the virus, which began a year ago in neighbouring Guinea and quickly spread to Liberia, is now dominating the lives of everyone in Sierra Leone.

The western part of the country, including the capital Freetown where around a third of the population of more than six million lives, is bearing the brunt of the current upturn in cases.

And the response, via Reuters:

Health teams scour Sierra Leone capital in Ebola drive

Health workers in Sierra Leone began combing the streets of the capital Freetown for Ebola patients on Wednesday, moving house-to-house as the government launched a major operation to contain infection in West Africa’s worst-hit country.

President Ernest Bai Koroma said on national television that, as part of “Operation Western Area Surge”, travel between all parts of the country would be restricted and public gatherings would be restrained in the run-up to Christmas.

An encounter in the Devil’s Hole neighbourhood just outside Freetown showed why the programme was vital. Ibrahim Kamara sat in a discarded vehicle tyre, his eyes glassy and his breath coming in gasps, as he tried to answer questions from Ebola surveillance officers.

“Is the body weak?” a surveillance officer shouted. Kamara, 31, nodded despondently while onlookers gathered round.

“Vomiting,” the officer asked. Kamara nodded again.

And a video report from CCTV Africa:

Sierra Leone Launches Teams & Ambulances Dispatched to Prevent Spread of Ebola

Program notes:

Sierra Leone launched Western Area Surge in the capital Freetown on Wednesday, in an effort to contain an alarming rise in Ebola cases. The emphasis will be on safe burials, ambulance dispatching and quarantine activities. CCTV’s Clementine Logan reports.

While the Sierra Leone Concord Times covers qualified reassurance:

‘It’ll take hard work to end Ebola’

…CDC chief warns

Director of the United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has said that only hard work, resilience and collaborative efforts will help put a final halt to the deadly Ebola disease that continues the ravage the lives of Sierra Leoneans since the outbreak hit the country some seven months ago.

Dr. Tom Frieden, however, said he was encouraged by the response of the government of Sierra Leone and its partners in putting mechanisms in place to contain the epidemic.

The CDC boss was speaking yesterday at a press conference held at the Radisson Blu Hotel, Aberdeen in Freetown where he noted that “time is of essence for sick people to quickly go for medical examination” if they notice signs and symptoms of the Ebola disease.

On to Liberia and Ebola labor politics from the Liberian Observer:

Liberian Truckers Take WFP to Task

  • Complain to Four Gov’t Ministries, Agencies

The Port Truckers Association (PTA) of Liberia has taken serious exception to a recent contractual agreement signed between the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) Conakry and United Mining, a Guinean trucking company, to provide transport services in Liberia on behalf of WFP Monrovia’s Ebola response.

The Liberian truckers have rejected the agreement, describing it as an attempt to undermine the Liberianization policy and hurt the viability of the country’s transport industry.

In a statement issued on Thursday, December 10 the PTA announced that it has filed formal complaints with several regulatory institutions in the country, including the National Port Authority (NPA), the Ministry of Labor, Ministry of Commerce and the Ministry of Transportation, respectively, seeking their immediate intervention in investigating the contract entered into between the WFP Conakry Office and the private Guinean company.

From Heritage, recognition:

Internal Affairs Minister wants Burial Team remembered

Internal Affairs Minister Morris Dukuly has called on the Government of Liberia (GoL) to remember the Ebola burial team across the country. Minister Dukuly said the burial team needs to be remembered, because according to him, the team has sacrificially served the country.

He said the job of the burial team had been at very high risk in contracting the virus, and as such, there is a need for prayers and support to the team.

The MIA boss was speaking Monday, December 15 at the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism (MICAT) regular Ebola Hour.

“The burial team also needs to be remembered by national government, because they are sacrificing their lives to have our people buried in a decent and dignify manner” he stated.

And from the Monrovia Inquirer, taking the campaign to the street vendors:

Marketers Committed To Ebola Fight

The Liberia Marketing Association through its president Madam Lusu Slong has committed itself to the “Ebola Must Go” Campaign which was recently launched by President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.

The campaign is aimed at achieving zero Ebola infection comes December 31 of this year.

The head of the Liberia Marketing Association has called on all marketers to join the fight against the Ebola virus by observing all the necessary preventive measures given by the Ministry of Health and its local and international partners.

Madam Slong stressed that since the outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus, market women have been finding it difficult to carry out their daily activities something she described as troubling for them noting that most women have to sell in order to sustain their families.

InSecurityWatch: Cops, torture, hacks, & Asia


And so much more. . .

To open, there’s an ap for that via the Associated Press:

‘Driving while black’ apps give tips for police stops

A “Driving While Black” smartphone application is set for release this month, but its developers say motorists should be careful when they use it.

“Do not reach for your phone when you are talking to police,” stressed attorney Melvin Oden-Orr, who created the app with another Portland lawyer and a software developer.

Avoiding any move that could make officers think you’re reaching for a gun is just one of the tips “Driving While Black” offers. And despite its attention-grabbing name, the common-sense advice it offers applies to motorists of all races.

The app describes how people can assert their civil rights with officers, enables drivers to alert friends and family with a push of a button that they’ve been pulled over, and includes a recording function to document the interaction.

Empirical policing from MIT Technology Review:

Researchers Will Study Police Confrontations Via Body Cameras

  • UCLA scholars will analyze raw video and audio feeds to glean insights into effective policing

As more police are equipped with cameras on their bodies to capture footage of interactions with the public, a group of researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, has been given permission to study video and audio streams from one police department to learn how best to prevent confrontations from escalating.

Police body-cams have been proposed as ways to resolve allegations of needless use of force following the police shooting of an unarmed teenager in Ferguson, Missouri, and the death of a New York City man during his arrest for selling cigarettes illegally.

The White House last week pledged $75 million that police departments could use to buy 50,000 body cameras as a way to help “build and sustain trust” among civilians. But whether or not cameras will resolve disputes or improve trust, they could at least provide a wider window into how policing works.

From Channel 4 News, solidarity in London:

76 arrests at Eric Garner protests in London

Program notes:

Police have arrested 76 people who were part of a mass demonstration at Westfield shopping centre in London.

On to that torture thing, first with a “what if?” from the New York Times:

C.I.A. First Planned Jails Abiding by U.S. Standards

Just six days after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, President Bush signed a secret order that gave the Central Intelligence Agency the power to capture and imprison terrorists with Al Qaeda. But the order said nothing about where they should be held or how the agency should go about the business of questioning them.

For the next few weeks, as the rubble at ground zero smoldered and the United States launched a military operation in Afghanistan, C.I.A. officials scrambled to fill in the blanks left by the president’s order. Initially, agency officials considered a path very different from the one they ultimately followed, according to the newly released Senate Intelligence Committee report on the C.I.A.’s harsh interrogation program.

They envisioned a system in which detainees would be offered the same rights and protections as inmates held in federal or American military prisons. Conditions at these new overseas prisons would be comparable to those at maximum-security facilities in the United States. Interrogations were to be conducted in accordance with the United States Army Field Manual, which prohibits coerced, painful questioning. Everything at the prisons would “be tailored to meet the requirements of U.S. law and the federal rules of criminal procedure,” C.I.A. lawyers wrote in November 2001.

The Los Angeles Times covers the tortured semantics of somatic torture:

CIA struggled to keep rationalizing brutal interrogations, report shows

When CIA interrogators waterboarded their first prisoner, Al Qaeda operative Abu Zubaydah, on Aug. 4, 2002, they justified the simulated drowning as a vital tool to extract secrets about future attacks against the United States.

But after 20 days of round-the-clock interrogation at a secret prison in Thailand, during which Zubaydah was repeatedly waterboarded in long sessions, slammed against walls, slapped, confined in a coffin-size box for 266 hours and chained in “stress positions,” the interrogators concluded the Saudi-born operative knew nothing about new plots.

At that point, the justification changed: Officials said the brutal treatment was necessary not to extract information, but to reassure themselves that Zubaydah already had told them everything he knew.

“Our goal was to reach the stage where we have broken any will or ability of subject to resist,” the interrogators said in an email to CIA headquarters. The goal was to get to “the point that we could confidently assess” that Zubaydah did “not possess undisclosed threat information,” they said.

From the New York Times, the inevitable:

Chinese Coverage of C.I.A. Torture Report Says It Highlights U.S. Hypocrisy

The report on the C.I.A.’s interrogations of terrorism suspects, released by the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, has received extensive coverage in China, which has long accused the United States of hypocrisy on human rights issues.

At a regular news briefing in Beijing on Wednesday, a spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Hong Lei, said that China “consistently opposes torture.”

“We believe that the U.S. side should reflect upon and rectify its relevant behavior, earnestly obey and implement the provisions of international conventions,” he said.

Another Asia voice from the Guardian:

Afghan president condemns ‘shocking’ and ‘inhumane’ torture described in CIA report

  • Ashraf Ghani vows to defends the dignity of those who had been jailed in reminder of how impact of CIA interrogation programme still fuels anger

The Afghan president, Ashraf Ghani, has described detailed revelations of US torture as “shocking” and “inhumane”, and demanded to know how many Afghans had been debased in grim facilities inside their own country.

The recently elected leader promised to defend the dignity of those who had been jailed, and gave notice that from the start of next year no foreign organisation would have the right to detain or torture Afghans.

“This is a vicious cycle. When a person is tortured in an inhumane way, the reaction will be inhumane,” Ghani told a specially convened news conference in Kabul. “There can be no justification for these kinds of actions and inhumane torture in today’s world.”

More tortuous spookspeak from the Washington Post:

CIA chief: ‘Unknowable’ whether ordinary interrogation would bring same intel gains

CIA Director John Brennan said Thursday that valuable information was obtained from detainees subjected to harsh interrogation techniques, but it remains “unknowable” whether conventional questioning alone could have led to the same intelligence gains.

In his first public comments since Tuesday’s release of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on the CIA detention program, Brennan also defended the use of so-called “enhanced” techniques as the “right” response at a time when the agency believed al-Qaeda was possibly preparing another wave of terrorism in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks.

Brennan also directly challenged some of the reports main conclusions.

Where have we heard this before?:

Rummy’s more cadaverous other half weighs in via Techdirt:

Dick Cheney Says CIA Torture Report Is ‘Full Of Crap’ — Then Admits He Hasn’t Read It

  • from the judging-a-book-by-its-cover dept

It’s no secret that those most closely responsible for the CIA’s torture program are pulling out all the stops to attack the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on the program, trying out a variety of defenses from “it actually saved lives” to “it’s just a partisan hack job.” So it should come as no surprise that former Vice President Dick Cheney has been making the cable TV news appearances to help attack the report. After all, many have argued that the real person behind the torture program was Cheney and his staff — and to date, Cheney has insisted that everything that was done was perfectly reasonable and he’d do it again. Thus there’s no surprise when Cheney appears on Fox News (because, of course), to claim that the report is “a bunch of hooey” and “full of crap” and “deeply flawed” only to then admit “ I haven’t read the report.”

Wait, what?

Even the Fox News interviewer was taken aback — and Cheney must have realized how stupid he looked, because he then tried to backtrack, arguing that he hadn’t read “all 6,000 pages,” but then saying he’d read “parts of it” and “summaries.” Yes, we’ve all read “summaries.” But some of us have sat down to read the whole 500 pages (minus the redacted bits, of course). You would hope that if Cheney was going on TV to respond to questions about the report that he might have done so as well, rather than just repeating the talking points handed out to folks associated with the program. Apparently not.

More inevitability from the New York Times:

U.S. Tells Court That Documents From Torture Investigation Should Remain Secret

The Obama administration has urged a court to reject a request to disclose thousands of pages of documents from a Justice Department investigation into the torture of detainees by the Central Intelligence Agency, including summaries of interviews with about 100 witnesses and documents explaining why in the end no charges were filed.

The administration made the filing late Tuesday in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit brought by The New York Times, hours after the Senate Intelligence Committee made public a 524-page executive summary of its own investigation into C.I.A. torture. The committee based its report on a review of C.I.A. documents but did not conduct any interviews.

The Justice Department materials, the court filing revealed, include 10 reports and memorandums totaling 1,719 pages — more than three times the number of pages in the Senate report released Tuesday — as well as “numerous” pages of reports on interviews with current and former C.I.A. officials.

The London Telegraph covers acts of omission by commission:

Downing Street admits: CIA torture report redacted at request of British spies

  • No 10 confirms British intelligence officials discussed redactions to torture report ‘on grounds of national security’

Key passages of report into the CIA’s torture programme were censored at the request of British spies, Downing Street has admitted, raising fears that the UK’s hand in the post-9/11 interrogation programme was covered up.

David Cameron’s spokesman admitted the Security Services asked their American counterparts to censor a US Senate report into the brutal interrogation of terror suspects at secret foreign prisons. It is understood the requests were granted.

John Brennan, the head of the CIA, tonight defended the “abhorrent” interrogation programme, saying the information helped locate Osama Bin Laden.

Mr Brennan said there was “strong concern” among foreign spy chiefs that the report was about to be made public. “Covert was something that they hoped was going to remain such,” he said.

And Channel NewsAsia Singapore covers an Asian denial:

Thailand denies existence of CIA black site

Thailand has long been accused by human rights groups of being one of a number of countries which hosted secret prisons run by the CIA to interrogate Al-Qaeda suspects in the years after the 9/11 attacks on New York

A senior Thai official on Thursday (Dec 11) flatly rejected longstanding claims the kingdom hosted a secret CIA prison after the publication of a US Senate report this week reignited controversy over Washington’s “black site” network.

Thailand has long been accused by human rights groups of being one of a number of countries which hosted secret prisons run by the CIA to interrogate Al-Qaeda suspects in the years after the 9/11 attacks on New York.

But Suwaphan Tanyuvardhan, a minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, rejected any suggestions that the Thai government had been complicit in running any “black sites”. “There has been no such thing as a secret prison or torture facilities in Thailand. Thai officials do not do these kind of actions,” he told reporters.

More semantic persiflage from the Washington Post:

‘Learned helplessness’: The chilling psychological concept behind the CIA’s interrogation methods

Of all the harrowing accounts and chilling examples in the U.S. Senate report on CIA interrogation practices, among the most striking was that of Abu Zubaydah. One of the first detainees in the war on terror, he was also one of the most vital. Lying in a bed in Thailand, he told FBI interrogators all about Khalid Sheik Mohammed — the mastermind of the Sept. 11th attacks.

But then the CIA showed up. Its team was accompanied by a psychologist. And he wanted to conduct a test that would get “Zubaydah to reveal everything by severing his sense of personality and scaring him almost to death,” reported Vanity Fair in 2007 in a groundbreaking story. So interrogators built a coffin and stuffed him inside it, the Senate report said, for 300 hours. He was waterboarded 83 times in 17 days. He was absolutely broken by the procedures — but not one significant plot was foiled as a result of his confessions.

Despite the failure of the interrogation methods, the psychological concept guiding them — called “learned helplessness” — lived on. With the guidance of two psychologists on contract to the CIA for $1,800 per day, the technique of stripping someone of their will would be applied to numerous additional prisoners in the coming years. Media reports have named the two psychologists: Jim Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, who in all earned $81 million in payment. They derived their approach from a well-known 1967 research paper by University of Pennsylvania psychologists.

And from the London Telegraph, more inevitability:

Russia calls for prosecutions over ‘inquisition-style’ CIA interrogation methods

Foreign ministry says “shocking” Senate report was “latest confirmation of gross, systemic human rights violations” by US authorities

Russia has called on the United States to punish those responsible for the use of “inquisition-style” interrogation methods in the “global war on terror”, as revealed in the US Senate report on torture this week.

Konstantin Dolgov, the human rights ombudsman of Russia’s foreign ministry, said the results of the “shocking” report were “the latest confirmation of gross, systemic human rights violations by the American authorities”.

The long-awaited torture report, published in 500-page summary form on Tuesday by the Senate’s intelligence committee, detailed brutal interrogation methods used by the CIA against al-Qaeda suspects

The Guardian covers the objects of the machine, free at last:

Guantánamo prisoners released to Uruguay: ‘We are so happy to be here’

Six former US detainees who were never charged with a crime, were flown to Uruguay on Sunday to begin new lives as refugees

Over the past 12 years, Ali al-Shaaban has experienced precious little human kindness. Detained in Pakistan as a suspected al-Qaida member in the months after the 9/11 terror attacks, he was transferred to the US military prison at Guantánamo Bay, where he was held for more than a decade.

This week, however, the 32-year old Syrian has been the subject of a wave of affection in a country half a world away from his homeland: government officials offer him warm embraces; total strangers wave to him and offer words of encouragement.

Shaaban is one of six Guantánamo prisoners who were flown to Uruguay on Sunday to begin new lives as refugees. The six – four Syrians, a Palestinian and a Tunisian – were never charged, and were cleared for release in 2009, but the US struggled to find countries willing to receive them until the Uruguayan president, José Mujica agreed to accept them.

The Associated Press covers culture war:

US co-opted Cuba’s hip-hop scene to spark change

In early 2009, a U.S. government contractor sent a Serbian music promoter to Cuba with these covert marching orders: Recruit one of Havana’s most notorious rappers to spark a youth movement against the government.

In communist Cuba, it was a project that could have landed Rajko Bozic in jail. So when he made his pitch to team up with hip-hop artist Aldo Rodriguez, Bozic left out the part about his true intentions — or that he was working for the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Dreadlocked, muscled and tattooed, Aldo, as he was known, was a hero in the hip-hop underground for lyrics protesting the Castro government’s grip on everyday life in songs like “El Rap Es Guerra,” or “Rap Is War,” words he tattooed on his forearm.

He and his group, Los Aldeanos, were about to unknowingly get sucked into a tug-of-war between Havana and Washington, as thousands of pages of documents obtained by The Associated Press and dozens of interviews show.

A video report from the Guardian:

USAid uses Cuban hip-hop to spark youth unrest

Program notes:

Hip-hop is latest covert weapon in the US government’s attempts to unseat Cuba’s communist government.

For more than two years, the American development aid organisation USAid has been secretly trying to infiltrate Cuba’s underground hip-hop movement. Like its previous efforts, including exploding cigars, poisoned milkshakes and the botched Bay of Pigs invasion, the attempt to co-opt rappers ended in ignominious failure, new documents have shown.

Grounded, via the Los Angeles Times:

European Union bans all Libyan airlines, citing safety risk

The European Union on Thursday banned all seven Libyan airlines from operating in the airspace of the 28-nation bloc, citing threats to flight operations while the country is plagued by violent militias battling for dominance.

“Recent events in Libya have led to a situation whereby the Civil Aviation Authority is no longer able to fulfill its international obligations with regard to the safety of the Libyan aviation sector,” European Union Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc said in a statement issued in Brussels.

“My priority in aviation is passenger safety, which is nonnegotiable, and we stand ready to help the Libyan aviation sector as soon as the situation on the ground will allow for this,” Bulc said.

After the jump, Spanish law formalizes immigrant expulsions and implements anti-protest fines, ISIS tries hostage corpse ransom, Cold War 2.0 on the Baltic, using the deplorable to justify the unspeakable in Old Blighty, the hack of the year yields Tinseltown tawdriness and other revelations, fighting POODLE attacks on your browser, Spanish law triggers a Google News departure, prosecution urged for Brazilian military dictatorship crimes, a legal victory for journalists in Sierra Leone, forced conversions alleged in India, freedom of information oversight defunding Down Under, a virginity test for Indonesian policewomen, North Korean kidnap leaks alleged, China memorial brings Japanese war crimes into the present, Hong Kong Occupy evicted with 247 arrests as some vow to return, China rejects a Vietnamese island claim, Washington pushes for a Japanese/South Korean rapprochement, a Hollywood film inspires a revisionist censorship cry in Japan, and Tojo nostalgia in Tokyo as Japan ups its military budget again. . . Continue reading

EbolaWatch: Patients, vaccine woes, aid, more


We begin with the latest potential case to cross the Atlantic, via the Los Angeles Times:

Nurse exposed to Ebola going to National Institutes of Health

A female nurse who was exposed to Ebola while in West Africa is expected to be admitted to the National Institutes of Health on Thursday, becoming the latest person to be admitted to a U.S. hospital after being exposed to the disease.

Officials with the NIH, based in Bethesda, Md., said the patient was doing volunteer work in an Ebola treatment unit in Sierra Leone. The patient, who will be admitted to the special clinical studies unit for observation, was not identified by name.

Since the current Ebola outbreak began a year ago in West Africa — where the World Health Organization estimates the virus has killed more than 6,000 people — 10 patients have been treated in the United States. Of those 10, eight have recovered and two have died.

The Associated Press offers a new prognosis:

UN says several months needed to control Ebola

The U.N. Ebola chief said Thursday it will take several more months before the outbreak in West Africa is under control, an assessment that makes clear the World Health Organization’s goal of isolating 100 percent of Ebola cases by Jan. 1 won’t be met.

Dr. David Nabarro said there has been “a massive shift” over the last four months in the way affected governments have taken the lead in responding to the epidemic, communities are taking action and the international community has pitched in.

But he said greater efforts are needed to combat Ebola in western Sierra Leone and northern Mali, to reduce the number of new cases in Liberia and to limit transmission to Mali.

WHO conceded that it didn’t meet an interim Dec. 1 target of isolating 70 percent of Ebola patients and safely burying 70 percent of victims in hardest-hit Sierra Leone. But it hasn’t made clear what that means for its Jan. 1 goal, which it set in September. It has acknowledged that its patchy data could compromise the goal, since the agency does not know how many Ebola patients there actually are and is unable to track all of their contacts.

And BuzzFeed News covers the latest disappointment:

Ebola Vaccine Tests Suspended At Geneva Hospital

The trial was put on hold after four patients complained about joint pain in their hands and feet.

Geneva University Hospital has halted clinical trials of the Ebola vaccine after several recipients complained of pain, hospital officials told Reuters.

The vaccine, developed by Merck and NewLink, was suspended “as a measure of precaution” in 59 patients after four of the volunteers complained of joint pain in their hands and feet.

“They are all fine and being monitored regularly by the medical team leading the study,” the hospital said in a statement.

The trials are set to resume on January 5 in up to 15 volunteers after tests are run to confirm the pain is “benign and temporary” the hospital said.

The latest donor, via the Associated Press:

Saudi pledges $35 million for fight against Ebola

The Islamic Development Bank says the Saudi king has pledged $35 million to help fight Ebola in hard-hit West African countries.

More than 6,000 people have died from Ebola in West Africa over the last year, including more than 1,500 in Sierra Leone since June.

The bank says the grant will be used to provide West African schools, bus stations and railway and airport stations with thermal sensors and medical examination equipment designed to diagnose the virus and keep public spaces safer.

From Jiji Press, cooperation:

G-7, Partners Confirm Cooperation in Fight against Ebola

The Group of Seven major countries, Mexico and the European Union reiterated their support Thursday for countries affected by the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

“We express our strong determination to remain vigilant in our response and to support all necessary efforts to stop the virus from spreading further,” they said in a joint statement following the 15th ministerial meeting in Tokyo of the Global Health Security Initiative forum.

The statement underscored the importance of sharing information in efforts to develop drugs to combat the lethal disease. “We remain committed to the open and transparent sharing of the results of clinical trials to expedite any efforts to protect human lives,” it noted.

The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa examines:

ECA to launch report on the economic impact of Ebola Virus Disease

While the Ebola outbreaks in both Nigeria and Senegal officially ended in October 2014 and both countries declared free of Ebola, a new United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) report looks at the impact of the 13,241 cases identified and 4,950 deaths reported in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone so far.

The report raises the alarm on the risk of a rise in mortality of diseases not related to Ebola and also points out the wider impacts of the virus on the livelihoods of those affected. Educational systems, rising social stigma, unemployment, and decreased food security are some of the big issues that Ebola-affected countries must deal with, according to the report.

Despite the alarm, Carlos Lopes calls for a careful and cautious approach to the response. The Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa notes that while the social and economic situation in the three most affected countries is dramatic, the crisis for Africa as a Continent is exaggerated.

According to the report, West Africa has been the fastest growing region in Africa in recent years. Based on 2013’s estimates, the three Ebola countries taken together only represent 2.42 percent of West Africa’s GDP and 0.68 percent of Africa’s GDP, so West Africa’s overall growth should remain robust.

And from Agence France-Presse, the art of Ebola:

Art exhibition about the Ebola outbreak opens in Conakry

Program notes:

Art exhibition on the theme of the Ebola outbreak goes on show in the Guinean capital.

On to Mali with a declaration of victory — for now — from Reuters:

Mali says has no remaining Ebola cases as last patient recovers

Mali has no remaining cases of the Ebola virus as the last patient in the country has recovered and left hospital, the Ministry of Health said on Thursday.

Six people have died of Ebola in Mali, while two others have recovered. The country is the sixth West African state to be hit by the worst outbreak on record of the hemorrhagic fever.

Ebola first entered Mali through an infant girl who died of the disease in October after arriving from neighboring Guinea. Later that month, an imam who also arrived from Guinea with the disease died in Mali. He infected other people.

“The only remaining case in treatment has recovered and has been released today so there are no more people sick with Ebola in Mali,” said Ministry of Health spokesman Markatié Daou.

And on to Sierra Leone with BBC News and a gruesome discovery:

Ebola crisis: Sierra Leone bodies found piled up in Kono

Health officials in Sierra Leone have discovered scores of bodies in a remote diamond-mining area, raising fears that the scale of the Ebola outbreak may have been underreported.

The World Health Organization said they uncovered a “grim scene” in the eastern district of Kono. A WHO response team had been sent to Kono to investigate a sharp rise in Ebola cases.

The WHO said in a statement on Wednesday that over 11 days in Kono, “two teams buried 87 bodies, including a nurse, an ambulance driver, and a janitor drafted into removing bodies as they piled up”.

More from Reuters:

Twenty-five people had died in a hastily cordoned off section of the local hospital in the five days before the team arrived. They found that villages scattered across eight of the area’s 15 chiefdoms had been hit by Ebola.

Officially the district of over 350,000 inhabitants had reported 119 cases up to Dec. 9.

“We are only seeing the ears of the hippo,” said Dr. Amara Jambai, Sierra Leone’s Director of Disease Prevention and Control, expressing concern that the official figures underrepresented the size of the outbreak in Kono.

A barb aimed at Freetown, via the Sierra Leone Concord Times:

Devil Hole chief chides gov’t for Ebola response

  • Headman of the Devil Hole community has chided government for its failure to support them in the fight against the Ebola outbreak.

Adikali Mansaray said they only survive by the grace of God, and that ten residents had died of Ebola in the community in the past four months, noting that they have been using local methods to prevent new infections.

Mansaray further explained that a community taskforce has been set up to monitor movements within the community, especially at night, as people from Port Loko and Makeni sneak in to the area at night.

“It is disheartening that we are very close to the capital city despite little government intervention in our community towards the fight against Ebola. We give little support from our earnings to the taskforce group to patrol at night,” he said.

The Associated Press covers a plea from Freetown:

Sierra Leone president makes Ebola plea to chiefs

Sierra Leone’s president implored the country’s traditional leaders on Thursday to stop cultural practices that have been blamed for spreading Ebola, like burials that involve touching corpses.

Officials have said up to 70 percent of new infections in Sierra Leone are linked to unsafe burials. The bodies of people who have died from Ebola are highly contagious and must be handled carefully.

“We should stop all traditional practices for now so that we will live to continue to practice them later,” President Ernest Bai Koroma said in a speech to launch the “Ebola Resistant Behavior Change Initiative.”

For months, Koroma has been urging traditional leaders to use their clout to stop burial and other cultural practices that contribute to the spread of Ebola. But the outbreak has only intensified in Sierra Leone in recent weeks.

teleSUR English covers an unusual collaboration:

African, Cuban and US doctors fighting Ebola together in Sierra Leone

Program notes:

African, Cuban, and US doctors are fighting Ebola together at the Maforki Treatment Center in Port Loko, Sierra Leone, and they are building strong links and achieving important results.

After the jump, on to Liberia and a peer-to-peer accolade, a regional victory — at least for now, a new medical facility in Monrovia, communities confront the aftermath, when Ebola goes postal, and journalists take the pledge. . . Continue reading

EbolaWatch: Job change, casualties, side effects


We begin a revolving door notice from The Hill:

Ebola czar to step down by March

Ebola czar Ron Klain will leave the White House and return to the private sector by March 1, Fortune magazine reported.

Klain, formerly chief of staff to Vice President Joe Biden, was hired in October to coordinate the federal government’s response to the Ebola outbreak.
He will leave by March 1, returning to his job as president of Case Holdings, the holding company for former AOL chief Steve Case’s business and philanthropic interests.

Klain held that job before becoming Ebola czar, as well as being general counsel for Revolution, Case’s venture firm. He’ll return to that position as well, Fortune said, citing Case and a White House official.

People’s Daily covers an Asian Ebola alarm:

Taiwan reports suspected Ebola infection

Taiwan’s disease control authorities said on Saturday that a 19-year-old man is suspected of being infected with the Ebola virus.

The man has developed symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea since he returned from Nigeria, where he had contact with animals, the authorities said.

He is now isolated in a hospital in Kaohsiung City, southern Taiwan. Samples have been sent to Taipei for examination, and authorities will announce the result this afternoon.

But the alarm was doubly false,m as Shanghai Daily would soon report:

Man feigns Ebola

A SUSPECTED Ebola case in Taiwan turned out to be a hoax when tests on the man, 19, proved negative, officials said yesterday. The man said he’d been vomiting and had had diarrhea since returning from Nigeria.

After a period of isolation, doctors found he did not have a fever, and authorities said there is no evidence he has ever left Taiwan.

A recovery celebrated in Havana, from the Associated Press:

Cuban doctor back home after being cured of Ebola

A Cuban doctor successfully treated for Ebola at a Swiss hospital returned home Saturday and was greeted by his family.

Felix Baez Sarria contracted Ebola while working with a Cuban government medical team in Sierra Leone and was flown to Geneva for treatment Nov. 20.

In a brief meeting with journalists at Havana’s international airport, Baez said that he and his colleagues in Africa are committed to fighting the Ebola outbreak.

“I will return there to finish what I started,” said the doctor, who was welcomed home by his wife and two sons.

BBC News covers a critical care failure:

Ebola: basic fluid and nutrition care ‘being missed’

Ebola patients are missing out on basic care that could improve their chances of survival, according to a report in the Lancet medical journal.

Researchers say organisations are being misled by an “inaccurate view” that there is no proven treatment for Ebola. They add that patients, who could be treated with fluids and electrolytes, are dying of dehydration.

The virus causes severe vomiting, diarrhoea and bleeding – all of which can lead to the profound loss of fluids and electrolytes, such as sodium and potassium. When patients are too sick to drink they can be given fluids intravenously – using a drip through a vein.

But Prof Ian Roberts, of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and Prof Anders Perner, at the University of Copenhagen, say these rehydration therapies are being neglected while people focus on potential drugs and vaccines.

On to Sierra Leone and more front line casualties from StarAfrica:

10th Sierra Leone Ebola doctor dies

The 10th Sierra Leonean doctor to contract the Ebola virus has died, report said on Saturday. At 33, Dr Dawda Koroma was one of the youngest Sierra Leoneans doctors to succumb to the deadly epidemic which continues to ravage the
country.

He was a junior doctor. He became the second doctor to die from the disease in just one day. Like Dr Thomas Rogers, who died early Friday Morning, Dr Koroma was working at the Connaught Hospital.

In all, eleven local doctors have contracted the virus . One is receiving treatment while one has been declared negative after going treatment.

More from the Guardian:

Doctor treated at British-run Ebola military clinic in Sierra Leone dies

  • Sierra Leonean medic is the eighth doctor to die of Ebola in the country

A doctor who was being treated at an Ebola clinic run by British military medical staff in Sierra Leone has died.

The death of Thomas Rogers at the clinic in Kerry Town on Friday brings the number of doctors in Sierra Leone who have been killed by the deadly virus to eight. He had worked at Connaught hospital in Freetown, the capital of the country where Ebola is spreading fastest.

Ebola has now infected more than 17,500 people, mostly in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, and killed about 6,200. He was the 11th doctor in Sierra Leone to have been infected with the virus.

An adviser arrives, from StarAfrica:

S/Leone: US expert shares Liberian experience on Ebola

The United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Country Director in Liberia is visiting Sierra Leone to share Liberia’s experience in the fight against Ebola.Dr Kevin Dekock’s visit to Freetown was facilitated by the US embassy in the country, which said it would want Sierra Leone to learn from the Liberian experience.

Liberia recorded its first case of the epidemic long before Sierra Leone, and for a long time Liberia battled the virus as the worst hit country.

But World Health Organization has said both Liberia and Guinea, the origin of the epidemic, has been able to stabilize the spread with less cases recorded.

That success story cannot be divorced from the US which sent into Liberia thousands of military troops and deployed health institutions like the CDC.

From teleSUR English, another troubling consequence of the outbreak:

Sierra Leone’s sprawling slums under threat of eviction

Program notes:

In Sierra Leone’s capital, Freetown, there are many provisional neighborhoods built by poor people where tens of thousands live. Impoverished people have organized and built their neighborhoods on empty lots, where they live under tough conditions; but at least they have a place where to live. Due to the lack of sanitary conditions in the slums which does little to keep the dangerous Ebola virus contained, the government has threatened to destroy the shanty-towns the dwellers of whom have no other place to go.

On to Liberia and another consequence of the epidemic from FrontPageAfrica:

Amid Ebola: Liberian Kids Yearn for Reopening of Schools

Since the outbreak of Ebola in March this year, several activities have slowed down including the closure of all schools. That the children should be in school are now looming the city of Monrovia either selling for their parents or doing nothing at all.

Days after Nigerian Billionaire Aliko Dangote called for the reopening of schools in Ebola affected countries, Liberian children are also appealing for schools to reopen to enable them get back to the classroom. Several children are calling for the resuming of schools at least by January.

Sylvester Zayzay, 9 and Amos Johnson, 10, were reluctantly moved around to sell juices and tomato pastes, but they are appealing for the reopening of schools because they are tired of hawking in the streets. Johnson says he is a second grader at the James E. Green Elementary School in Logan Town and since schools were ordered closed due to the Ebola outbreak, he has been forced to help his mother to provide food for the household by selling in the streets.

And from FrontPageAfrica, another Liberian school demand:

FPA WEB TV: TEACHERS PROTEST IN MONROVIA

Program notes:

Teachers Take Ministry of Education to task for failing to pay their “just benefits”

EbolaWatch: Politics, protest, pleas, & patients


We begin with a a meeting, via NHK WORLD:

Health ministers from 8 countries to discuss Ebola

Health ministers from 8 countries, including Japan and the United States, will meet in Tokyo next week to discuss responses to the Ebola epidemic.

The meeting of the Global Health Security Initiative, which consists of the Group of 7 nations and Mexico, is scheduled for next Thursday.

Representatives of the World Health Organization will deliver a report with the latest information on the Ebola epidemic in West Africa. The ministers will then share their countries’ responses and explore how they can cooperate.

A case of far more smoke than fire, via the Associated Press:

CDC report: Ebola reports rarely panned out

A new government report counts hundreds of times U.S. doctors and hospitals raised false alarms about possible Ebola cases, finding that fewer than one in five warranted even additional investigation.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report — released Friday — looked at Ebola-related calls the federal agency received this year from doctors, hospitals, and state and local health departments.

In most calls, it turned out the patient had neither traveled to an Ebola-affected country nor had contact with an Ebola patient. Of 650 patients flagged to federal officials, four ended up testing positive.

But health officials say there was a national learning curve for Ebola — even for doctors and nurses — and they had no complaint about all the nervous phone calls.

And from the report [pdf] a map of where the alarms were sounded:

BLOG Ebola alarms

An African patient heads for the Netherlands, via DutchNews.nl:

Nigerian UN soldier with ebola due in the Netherlands this weekend

Doctors at Utrecht’s main hospital UMC are preparing to receive the country’s first ebola patient, broadcaster Nos says on Friday.

The cabinet has allocated four beds at a special unit in the hospital for international aid workers who have become infected with ebola and need treatment.

The patient is a Nigerian man who is being brought to the Netherlands at the request of the World Health Organisation, the Dutch health ministry is quoted as saying. He is said to be a soldier who was serving with the UN peace-keeping forces in Liberia.

He will be brought to the Netherlands on a special flight but it is not yet known when he is due to arrive.

And a Cuban doctor beats the illness in a Swiss hospital, from the Associated Press:

Cuba says infected doctor overcomes Ebola

Cuba’s Health Ministry says a doctor who contracted Ebola during an aid mission in Africa has overcome the disease and will be brought home soon.

The ministry says tests at a hospital in Geneva, Switzerland, confirm that 43-year-old Felix Baez Sarria is now clear of the Ebola virus. The report was carried by Cuban state news media.

Baez is among 165 Cuban medical personnel sent to Sierra Leone to fight the disease. He showed symptoms of the disease on Nov. 16 and was brought to Switzerland for treatment with the experimental drug ZMapp.

More British helpers on the way, via the Guardian:

More NHS volunteers to tackle Ebola

  • Healthcare workers from across the UK will join volunteers who flew to Sierra Leone in November

A second group of NHS volunteers will arrive in Sierra Leone tomorrow to help tackle the Ebola outbreak that has claimed thousands of lives in west Africa.

The 25 doctors, nurses and other medical staff from across the UK will join NHS volunteers who flew to Sierra Leone last month.

International development secretary, Justine Greening, said: “These NHS heroes will play a vital role in our efforts to take this disease on at source.”

The volunteers have had five days intensive training in Worcestershire before travelling to Sierra Leone’s capital Freetown. They will then complete further in-country training and acclimatisation, including at the British-built treatment centres where they will be working.

The Secretary General makes a plea, via the U.N. News Center:

World must do ‘whatever it takes’ to ensure recovery of Ebola-affected countries – Ban

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appealed today to members of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) “to do whatever it takes” to help the West African countries hardest hit by Ebola grow back stronger and more resilient, while the head of the UN health agency noted that the “fear of Ebola is moving faster than the virus” itself.

“The international response to date has been unprecedented in its speed and generosity, but much more will be asked before this emergency is over,” the Secretary-General told a special ECOSOC meeting at UN headquarters on “Ebola: A threat to sustainable development.”

“Today, let us resolve to do whatever it takes to assist the Governments of the affected countries to recover stronger and more resilient from the Ebola crisis,” Mr. Ban said.

ECOSOC President, Martin Sajdik, who convened the meeting, said Council members stand ready to help mobilize all partners, including a network of non-governmental organizations, to ensure that economic and social recovery efforts help stabilize the worst-affected countries and strengthen their preparedness to prevent future outbreaks.

From Voice of America, impacts on women:

Is Ebola Taking a Heavier Toll on Women?

“Ebola is not only a public health catastrophe, it is also unleashing devastating secondary effects on economic and social development, all of which have harmful implications for women and girls,” Janet Fleischman, a senior associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, recently wrote for the Washington think tank’s Smart Global Health blog.

From birth to death, Ebola is wreaking havoc – primarily in the three hardest-hit countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Fear of infection deters women from seeking medical care during pregnancy and childbirth, likely driving up already-abysmal maternal mortality rates, health experts say [see chart below]. But the threat of contamination is greatest at death, when an Ebola patient’s viral load is highest. Cultural norms require that corpses are prepared for burial by people of the same sex – a serious problem when few women serve on official burial teams outfitted with personal protective equipment.

Between those milestones lurk a host of other risks to females.

On to Sierra Leone and another casualty from StarAfrica:

9th S/Leone doctor succumbs to Ebola

The ninth Sierra Leonean doctor to contract the Ebola virus has died of the disease, reports Friday said.Dr Thomas Rogers died early on Friday morning, sources said.

He was working at Sierra Leone`s main referral hospital, Connaught Hospital, and tested positive for virus earlier in the week.

A total of eleven local doctors have so far been infected by the disease. One has been declared cleared of the virus, while two are currently receiving treatment.

BBC News covers the arrival of critical help from a neighbor:

Ebola crisis: Nigerian medics deploying to Sierra Leone

About 100 Nigerian medical workers are expected to arrive in Sierra Leone to help with the response to the outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus.

The workers, who include doctors, scientists and hygienists, have been trained by the medical aid agency, MSF.

It came a day after residents in the Guinean capital, Conakry, protested about the construction of an Ebola treatment clinic in their district.

Reuters has more:

Help arrives in Sierra Leone

Program notes:

More than 175 Nigerian medics arrived in Sierra Leone on Friday (December 5) to join the fight against Ebola. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.

From the Associated Press, the terrible toll continues:

Sierra Leone seeing 80-100 new Ebola cases daily

Sierra Leone said Friday that between 80 and 100 new cases of Ebola are being reported every day and the country now hardest-hit by the deadly virus desperately needs over 1,000 beds to treat victims.

Sierra Leone’s Finance Minister Kaifalah Marah painted a grim picture to the U.N. Economic and Social Council Friday of the challenges facing his West African nation which failed to meet a World Health Organization interim goal of isolating 70 percent of Ebola patients and safely burying 70 percent of victims by Dec. 1.

The two other hard-hit countries, Liberia and Guinea, did meet the deadline, and the U.N.’s Ebola chief Dr. David Nabarro said the number of new cases in Liberia has dropped from 60 per day in September to 10 per day now.

Agence France-Presse has more on hardships endured by medical volunteers in Sierra Leone:

Ebola tests the limits of even the most hardened aid workers

Program notes:

Ebola is an invisible and deadly enemy that imposes drastic security measures on health workers. It has tested the limits of even the most hardened humanitarian workers with 20 years of experience working in extreme conditions.

Al Jazeera America covers a desperate threat:

Sierra Leone threatens to jail families in Ebola crackdown

  • Families caught participating in burial washing rituals of Ebola victims, which could spread virus, to be imprisoned

Sierra Leone warned on Friday it would jail entire families if Ebola victims who appeared to have been washed after death were discovered in their homes.

The tradition of cleansing the dead before burials remains a major factor in the spread of the highly infectious virus, the government said, despite numerous appeals for Sierra Leoneans to refrain from the practice.

“When the family calls [the burial hotline] and it is proved that the corpse has been tampered with, we are going to quarantine the entire family or take them to holding centers for 21 days,” said Palo Conteh, head of the government’s National Ebola Response Centre.

“If they are negative, they will be taken to prison for a certain period under the state of emergency. If they are positive, we will send them for treatment,” Conteh said. “If they die, that will be their fate. But if they survive, again they will be sent to prison.”

After the jump, it’s on to Liberia and a controversial election rally ban, the opposition makes its voice heard, counseling finally offered to survivors, agriculture stricken in a hard-hit county, and an American State Department representative asks Liberians for more. . . Continue reading

EbolaWatch: Numbers, pleas, and questions


First the optimistic from BBC News:

Ebola crisis: WHO upbeat on targets

The World Health Organization (WHO) says the 60-day goals it set itself for tackling the Ebola outbreak in West Africa have largely been met.

The WHO set a target of isolating and treating 70% of patients and of safely burying 70% of victims in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea by 1 December.

The WHO’s Dr Bruce Aylward said only the treatment figure in Sierra Leone had fallen below the mark. He warned much work was still needed to get to “zero cases”.

The less than optimistic from the Guardian:

Ebola cases surge in Sierra Leone

  • WHO targets on isolating patients and medical burials missed as NGO warns virus has reduced country to ‘a nation of mere beggars’

Ebola continues to surge in Sierra Leone, with the number of cases quintupling in Freetown alone in the past two months, according to new figures.

The latest health ministry figures come as the World Health Organisation (WHO) admits it has not met a goal set in early October to get the disease under control by isolating 70% of cases by 1 December. Only Guinea is on track to meet the goal, according to an update from WHO.

In Liberia, only 23% of cases are isolated and 26% of the needed burial teams are in place. In Sierra Leone, about 40% of cases are isolated. Figures for Sierra Leone published over the weekend show that the number of confirmed cases in Freetown now stands at 2,052, almost 200 of those over the past weekend.

There are also concerns about the escalation in infection rates in Port Loko, a district contiguous to the capital that has recorded 860 cases, up from 295 on 1 October. Bombali, home of Makeni, the third biggest town in Sierra Leone, has 807 cases to date.

The steeply rising trajectories for the nation and its capital from Wednesday’s World Health Organization Situation Report [click on the image to enlarge]:

BLOG Sierra Leone

More angst from the New York Times:

New Concerns Over Response to Ebola Crisis

Doctors Without Borders, the medical charity that was among the first to react early and aggressively to the Ebola crisis in West Africa, expressed new concern on Tuesday about what it called a slow and uneven international response that portends further setbacks.

The tone of the warning, by Dr. Joanne Liu, the group’s international president, was pessimistic compared with an appraisal made on Monday by the World Health Organization, which said significant progress had been made in reversing the upward trajectory of the disease.

Dr. Liu acknowledged an outpouring of financial and construction help from abroad in the past few months. The United States has led the outpouring, and President Obama exhorted Congress on Tuesday to approve a $6.18 billion funding request.

But Dr. Liu said most of the work of tracking, isolating and treating patients, burying the dead and raising awareness to minimize contagion had fallen to the three poor countries at the heart of the outbreak: Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

More from the Guardian:

World’s Ebola response slow, patchy and inadequate, Médecins sans Frontières says

  • Medical NGO MSF says response by foreign countries is ill-adapted to tackling the spread of Ebola in west Africa, warning the outbreak is far from over

Three months after MSF called for international intervention, its international president, Dr Joanne Liu, said it was “extremely disappointing that states with biological-disaster response capacities have chosen not to deploy them”. She said people “are still dying horrible deaths in an outbreak that has already killed thousands” and urged the world not to be complacent. “We can’t let our guard down and allow this to become a ‘double failure’: a response that is slow to begin with, and then is ill-adapted in the end.”

MSF compiled its briefing three months after calling for countries to get involved in the Ebola response. Liu criticised the concentration of international efforts on the construction of Ebola treatment centres without also providing staff and training, transport and laboratories.

In rural areas of Liberia, where hopes had been raised that the Ebola infection rate had plateaued, there were still “active chains of transmission” and no transport facilities to test the patients. In Sierra Leone, the national Ebola response team was struggling, with callers to the emergency 117 helpline being told to isolate themselves at home.

Another critique via Punch Nigeria:

WHO messed up Ebola response – Belgian expert

A Belgian scientist who helped discover Ebola in 1976 has accused the World Health Organisation of mismanaging the current outbreak response.

Peter Piot, an award-winning microbiologist, told Al Jazeera that “we wasted too much precious time”.

“It took three months for the WHO to find out there was an Ebola outbreak. That I understand. Guinea had a poor laboratory infrastructure,” said Piot in an interview due to be aired on Saturday.

“I have much more of a problem with the fact that it took five months for WHO, for the international health regulations committee, for that’s what it is, to declare this a state of emergency.

Another American evacuated via the Los Angeles Times:

Possible Ebola patient admitted to Boston hospital for evaluation

A person who was being monitored for symptoms of Ebola by the Boston Public Health Commission was hospitalized for evaluation Tuesday, officials said.

The individual was taken to Boston’s Massachusetts General Hospital about 2 p.m., hospital spokesman Noah Brown told the Los Angeles Times. The patient has a fever, Brown said, but has not been confirmed to have Ebola.

Brown said he had no other information about the patient or where he or she had traveled. Most Ebola cases in the current outbreak have been in West Africa, primarily Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.

From the Associated Press, a journalistic apologia:

NBC’s Snyderman returns with apology

NBC News medical reporter Nancy Snyderman apologized on the “Today” show Wednesday for violating her quarantine for Ebola exposure, saying she failed to appreciate how frightened Americans were of the disease.

It was Snyderman’s first on-air appearance in a month and a half, and she followed her talk with Matt Lauer by reporting a story on women and depression. NBC had kept her off the air following an angry public reaction to her broken promise: After saying she’d stay in her New Jersey home until the danger for symptoms of the disease had passed, she was spotted in a car getting takeout food.

“I’m very sorry for not only scaring my community and the country, but adding to the confusion of terms that came as fast and furious as the news about Ebola,” said Synderman, a surgeon who has worked for NBC News since 2006 after a long stint at ABC.

The Los Angeles Times covers dritical designations:

35 U.S. hospitals, 4 in California, designated Ebola treatment centers

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Tuesday that 35 hospitals around the country were now staffed and equipped to treat patients with Ebola.

The treatment centers, including four in Northern California, have 53 beds available for patients and have been assessed by the CDC’s Rapid Ebola Preparedness team, according to the CDC.

The four hospitals in California are Kaiser Oakland Medical Center, Kaiser South Sacramento Medical Center, UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento and the UC San Francisco Medical Center.

The New York Times covers the conversion of President Alpha Condé:

Ebola Now Preoccupies Once-Skeptical Leader in Guinea

Upset by the group’s dire warnings, Mr. Condé publicly criticized Doctors Without Borders, despite its lonely efforts to blunt the disease on the front line. But as Mr. Condé played down the outbreak, Ebola was steadily entrenching itself in the Guinean forest villages where it surfaced nearly a year ago.

Now, after more than a thousand deaths in Guinea, Mr. Condé has reversed course. Disturbed by the threat to his country’s people and economy, he is grappling with Ebola nearly every waking moment. Having initially overlooked the crisis, he is now micromanaging it, some international officials say.

“While shaving I think of Ebola, while eating I think of Ebola, while sleeping I think of Ebola,” Mr. Condé, 76, said at the drab, concrete, Chinese-built presidential palace named for Ahmed Sékou Touré, the nation’s first president and strongman, who forced Mr. Condé into exile in 1970 and condemned him to death in absentia.

An economic assessment from BBC News:

Ebola: World Bank lowers 2014 growth for worst-hit nations

The World Bank has revised downwards its 2014 GDP growth projections for the three nations worst hit by the current Ebola outbreak – Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. “The Ebola epidemic continues to cripple the economies,” it said.

Its report comes as bank President Jim Yong Kim begins a two-day visit to West Africa to assess the impact. The latest World Bank report still shows positive projected growth there for 2014, but at much lower rates.

It said that “all three countries had been growing rapidly in recent years and into the first half of 2014″. The bank is now also projecting negative growth for two of the nations in 2015 – Guinea and Sierra Leone.

More from the World Bank itself:

Ebola: New World Bank Group Report Shows Growth Shrinking, Economic Impact Worsening in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone

The Ebola epidemic continues to cripple the economies of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, and is projected to result in negative or contracting growth in these countries next year as they work to eradicate the virus, according to an Ebola Economic Impact Update released today by the World Bank Group. The report comes as World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim begins a two-day visit to West Africa to assess the epidemic’s impact and discuss with governments and international agencies what steps need to be taken to reach the goal of zero cases as soon as possible.

This report updates the World Bank Group’s October 8 analysis of the economic effects of the Ebola crisis on the three hardest-hit countries. GDP growth estimates for 2014 have been revised sharply downward since pre-crisis estimates to 2.2 percent for Liberia (versus 5.9 percent pre-crisis and 2.5 percent in October); and 4.0 percent for Sierra Leone (versus 11.3 percent pre-crisis and 8.0 percent in October); and 0.5 percent for Guinea (versus 4.5 percent pre-crisis and 2.4 percent in October). All three countries had been growing rapidly in recent years and into the first half of 2014.

In addition, the World Bank Group is now projecting negative growth for 2015 of -0.2% in Guinea (down from pre-crisis estimates of 4.3 percent and 2.0 percent in October) and -2.0% in Sierra Leone (down from 8.9 percent and 7.7 percent in October). In Liberia, where there are signs of progress in containing the epidemic and some increasing economic activity, the updated 2015 growth estimate is 3.0 percent, an  increase from 1.0 percent in October but still less than half the pre-crisis estimate of 6.8 percent. These latest projections imply forgone income across the three countries in 2014–15 totaling more than $2 billion.

Obama keeps pressure on Congress, via the New York Times:

At N.I.H., Obama Stresses Need to Keep Funding Fight Against Ebola

President Obama on Tuesday praised researchers for their progress in developing a potential vaccine for Ebola and called on Congress to pass $6.2 billion in emergency funds to fight the virus, warning, “We cannot beat Ebola without more funding.”

With no new cases recently diagnosed in the United States, Mr. Obama used a visit to the National Institutes of Health to keep a spotlight on the crisis. Scientists there recently published promising results from early clinical trials of an experimental vaccine.

Lawmakers from both parties have supported financing to upgrade treatment centers in the United States and in West Africa, where the outbreak spread through Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.

But with the House and Senate still not able to agree on how to fund the federal government past December, some experts worry that lawmakers could try to cut back the money.

And from the Guardian, a reminder:

Cuba’s extraordinary global medical record shames the US blockade

Four months into the internationally declared Ebola emergency that has devastated west Africa, Cuba leads the world in direct medical support to fight the epidemic. The US and Britain have sent thousands of troops and, along with other countries, promised aid – most of which has yet to materialise.

But, as the World Health Organisation has insisted, what’s most urgently needed are health workers. The Caribbean island, with a population of just 11m and official per capita income of $6,000 (£3,824), answered that call before it was made. It was first on the Ebola frontline and has sent the largest contingent of doctors and nurses – 256 are already in the field, with another 200 volunteers on their way.

While western media interest has faded with the receding threat of global infection, hundreds of British health service workers have volunteered to join them. The first 30 arrived in Sierra Leone last week, while troops have been building clinics. But the Cuban doctors have been on the ground in force since October and are there for the long haul.

After the jump, a call to reopen West African schools and the numbers involved, on to Sierra Leone and another doctor infected, another district under lockdown, ongoing burial troubles, the World Bank coughs up more cash, the persistence of Ebola behind bars, infected fugitives from Koinadugu, and self-preservation in the nation’s capital, on to Liberia and more healthcare workers stricken, an urgent call for more medical volunteers and an equally urgent call for long-overdue payments to overburdened Liberian healthcare and other outbreak responders, one county’s youth conduct a door-to-door awareness campaign, a stricken family abandoned without food, and Washington pays a visit. . . Continue reading