Category Archives: Ethnicity

Chart of the day: America’s growing wealth divide


From the Urban Institute via the Washington Post:

BLOG Racial divide

EbolaWatch: Alarms shriek, British worries, Africa


And much, much more as events accelerate ominously. . .

First, from the Guardian:

Ebola outbreak a threat to world peace, says UN security council

  • Group unanimously backs emergency resolution as UN secretary general calls for $1bn aid effort to tackle virus

The UN security council has called the Ebola outbreak “a threat to international peace and security” and urged the world to provide health experts, field hospitals and medical supplies.

A resolution adopted unanimously by the UN’s most powerful body at an emergency meeting with an unprecedented 130 countries as co-sponsors reflected the rising global concern at the outbreak.

It was only the second time that the security council has addressed a public health emergency, the first being the HIV/Aids pandemic.

The UN health chief, Dr Margaret Chan, said the “deadly and dreaded Ebola virus got ahead of us” and it was time to urgently catch up. “This is likely the greatest peacetime challenge that the United Nations and its agencies have ever faced,” she said.

The Guardian again, with context:

Ebola: government cuts to the WHO aided delays in dealing with outbreak

  • Health organisation suffered from global austerity, needs urgent overhaul and sounded the alarm too late, experts say

Cuts in government funding to the World Health Organisation contributed to critical delays in responding to the Ebola outbreak in west Africa, which allowed the epidemic to spin out of control, disease experts say.

The UK, US and other European governments reduced contributions to the organisation because of global austerity, and also failed to implement much-needed structural reforms, they said. The WHO needs urgent reform, if future global health crises are to be avoided.

The first cases of Ebola occurred in December last year in Guinea, but it was not until late March that the ministry of health notified the WHO of what the Africa regional office described as “a rapidly evolving outbreak of Ebola virus disease in forested areas of south eastern Guinea”. By that time, there had been just 49 cases and 29 deaths.

It took three months to confirm the outbreak because Guinea, having never had a case before, was totally unprepared. “First of all, nobody expected Ebola to pop up in west Africa – you only find what you are looking for,” said Prof Peter Piot, head of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. “Then, health information systems in Guinea are extremely poor, as they are in Liberia and Sierra Leone.”

And another alarm from BBC News:

Ebola is ‘entrenched and accelerating’ in West Africa

  • US public health director Thomas Frieden: “This is controllable and this was preventable”

The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that Ebola is now entrenched in the capital cities of all three worst-affected countries and is accelerating in almost all settings.

WHO deputy head Bruce Aylward warned that the world’s response was not keeping up with the disease in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. The three countries have appealed for more aid to help fight the disease.

The outbreak has killed more than 3,860 people, mainly in West Africa. More than 200 health workers are among the victims.

The Hill sounds another warning for the U.S.:

HHS: There may be more Ebola cases

More cases of the Ebola virus could be found in the United States, Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Sylvia Burwell warned Thursday.

“We had one case and I think there may be other cases, and I think we have to recognize that as a nation,” Burwell said at a news conference sponsored by the journal Health Affairs and the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Burwell said her agency supports the new airport procedures, but called exit screenings that are already happening in West African airports more crucial.

“The most important place with regard to taking care of screening is actually at the point of departure,” Burwell said. Those screenings have stopped at least 80 people from boarding flights, she said.

More from Reuters:

Fears grow in United States over Ebola’s spread outside West Africa

Fears are growing in the United States about Ebola with about 200 airline cabin cleaners walking off the job in New York and some lawmakers demanding the government ban travelers from the West African countries hit hardest by the virus.

“The nation is frightened, and people are frightened of this disease,” the U.S. cabinet secretary for health, Sylvia Burwell, said on Thursday, a day after the death in Texas of the first person to be diagnosed with Ebola in the United States.

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Burwell told a news conference that people were frightened because Ebola “has a very high mortality rate. They’re frightened because they need to learn and understand what the facts are about that disease.”

From the Associated Press a Latin American alarm sounds:

Hagel to discuss Ebola with South America leaders

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says that he will discuss the growing threat from the Ebola virus with Central and South American leaders when they meet in the coming days.

Hagel’s comments Thursday came amid concerns expressed by the top U.S. commander for Central and South America about the potential for the Ebola virus to spread into countries there.

U.S. Marine Gen. John Kelly earlier this week said some countries in the Western Hemisphere don’t have the capabilities to deal with Ebola. If there is an outbreak, he said people may try to flee into the United States.

Hagel says the world is getting more interconnected, and the virus can travel quickly, so military leaders must plan and prepare for any possibilities.

And from Want China Times, another shrieking alarm:

Ebola could hit China within three weeks without action: US experts

American experts warn that the lethal Ebola virus could reach China in three weeks and from there spread to Hong Kong and Macau, reports our Chinese-language sister paper Want Daily.

Taiwan’s Center for Disease Control said there have been no confirmed cases in China and Taiwan and it has been exchanging information with its foreign counterparts to contain the spread of the virus, the paper said.

The experts with the Northeast University in Boston made the report after cross referencing data between airline routes around the world and Ebola’s route of transmission. The virus could spread to Hong Kong and Macau quickly from China and the thousands of airliners entering and exiting the areas, which are major international transit terminals, if the two did not adopt any preventative measures.

And now, the first serious indication that the virus may have reached Britain, via the Guardian:

Briton dies in Macedonia of suspected Ebola – reports

  • If confirmed it would be the first death of a UK national from disease

Foreign Office officials are investigating reports that a British national has died in Macedonia of suspected Ebola.

If confirmed it would be the first death of a UK national from Ebola, although British nurse Will Pooley was cured of the virus last month.

The news came as Downing Street said enhanced screening for Ebola will be introduced at Heathrow and Gatwick airports and Eurostar terminals following advice from the chief medical officer.

The London Telegraph takes another approach:

Ebola crisis: disease may already be in Britain as man dies on business trip

  • The death of a businessman in Macedonia from suspected Ebola has led to fears that the disease may already be in Britain

Ebola may already be in Britain, it was feared on Thursday night, after a businessman who had travelled to Macedonia became the first Briton to die from the disease.

Macedonian officials confirmed that the 57-year-old, who has not been named, had been suffering from fever, vomiting and internal bleeding and that his condition had deteriorated rapidly.

“These are all symptoms of Ebola, which raises suspicions with this patient,” said Dr. Jovanka Kostovska of the health ministry’s commission for infectious diseases.

And the Independent:

Ebola: ‘British man dies of deadly virus in Macedonia and one other taken ill’

Officials are urgently investigating reports that a British man has died of Ebola in Macedonia and another has contracted the disease.

The Britons, who are believed to be friends, had travelled to the country from the London on 2 October, according to a spokesman for the Macedonian Foreign Ministry who confirmed the death.

The Macedonian authorities said the dead man was 57 and his friend is 72.

The patients had been staying at a hotel in the capital, Skopje, when they fell ill. The now-deceased man was admitted to the city’s Clinic for Infectious Diseases at around 3pm local, according to a Macedonian government official. He died around two hours later.

Finally, the London Daily Mail offers a comparatively subdued take:

Briton dies of suspected Ebola in Macedonia – despite NOT having been to Africa: Armed guards outside hotel after virus ‘claims first British victim’

  • The unnamed man is the first UK victim of Ebola, if disease is confirmed
  • The epidemic has killed 3,800 and infected at least 8,000 so far
  • Macedonian authorities confirmed the dead man’s nationality this evening
  • Health officials have also quarantined his friend, who has symptoms
  • The friend said the two travelled to Skopje directly from Britain
  • This raises the terrifying prospect that they contracted it in the UK
  • Paramedics and staff at Skopje hotel where men stayed also in quarantine

From thinkSPain, a report on the first European to catch the illness on the continent:

Ebola update: Teresa ‘critical’ as her organs start to fail

MADRID nurse Teresa Romero’s organs are failing and she is on an artificial breathing machine due to lung problems, reveals her brother.

José Ramón Romero Ramos says there is little hope and that her life is in ‘grave danger’.

“Is there a chance? It’s possible, but the doctor says there’s not much hope, it’s very complicated at the moment,” he told a Galicia TV station mid-afternoon today.

More from the Los Angeles Times:

More people quarantined after Ebola fears in Spain, officials say

Four more people have been placed under quarantine at a Madrid hospital as officials there try to stop the spread of Ebola beyond one confirmed case.

That case, a nursing assistant who was infected after helping care for 69-year-old Manuel Garcia Viejo, was the first known transmission of the disease outside of West Africa in the current outbreak.

The nursing assistant, identified in news reports as Teresa Romero Ramos, was diagnosed Monday and is being treated at the Carlos III Hospital in Madrid. Her husband has also been quarantined there.

In addition to Romero and her husband, one man and one woman, both nurses, were hospitalized Wednesday and are exhibiting “mild symptoms,” officials say. The nurses were part of the team that helped treat Viejo.

A video report from euronews:

Health of Spanish Ebola patient deteriorates

Program notes:

The health of the Spanish nurse being treated for Ebola has deteriorated, according to the Madrid hospital where she is being treated.

Another person, the doctor who first tended to her, has been placed in isolation bringing to seven the number of people in quarantine.

The patient, Teresa Romero, is the only one to have tested positive for the virus.

Authorities insist that the contamination was a result of human error.

From El País, isolation and outrage:

ER doctor who treated Ebola victim taken into isolation for monitoring

  • In his official report, Juan Manuel Parra complains that protective clothing was too small

When Spanish Ebola patient Teresa Romero was taken to her local hospital in Alcorcón on Monday, Doctor Juan Manuel Parra was in charge of her care. Before she was diagnosed with the virus and taken to the Carlos III Hospital, the 41-year-old was the sole person responsible for saving the life of the nursing assistant, who is the first person to be infected with the virus outside of West Africa.

rom 8am on Monday until after midnight the same day, the emergency room doctor took on the risk of dealing with a patient whose status got progressively worse, with symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting and chesty coughing.

Doctor Parra had to put on and remove his protective clothing as many as 13 times during the day, but it was not until 5pm that he donned the highest-level protective suit available in the hospital – a suit that, what’s more, was not his size, leaving his bare skin exposed.

“At all times the sleeves were too short,” the doctor wrote in a report. The document, to which EL PAÍS has had access, covers all of the events of those 16 hours and was sent to his superiors.

More from El País:

Nursing staff resign from their posts to avoid treating Ebola cases

  • Workers at Carlos III Hospital in Madrid argue safety measures are not adequate

Carlos III Hospital in Madrid, the health center where Ebola victim Teresa Romero is being treated, is having to draft in extra staff given that nurses are refusing to work with cases – or suspected cases – of the virus, claiming that safety conditions are not adequate.

A number of other patients are being monitored in the hospital after having come into contact with Romero, although none so far has been confirmed as having contracted the virus.

“There are members of staff who are canceling their contracts so that they don’t have to enter [rooms with Ebola cases],” explains Elvira González, provincial vice-secretary of the SAE nurses’ union.

Still more from the New York Times:

Spain Quarantines 3 More in Bid to Contain Ebola

The Spanish health authorities said Thursday that the condition of an auxiliary nurse infected by Ebola had worsened, three days after she became the first person to test positive for the disease in Europe.

The deterioration in the nurse’s condition came as the authorities announced that one more medical staff member had been quarantined, in addition to three others who were isolated overnight at the same hospital.

Altogether about 80 people are being monitored to see if they develop symptoms of Ebola as Spain seeks to prevent the virus from spreading. Seven people are now quarantined at the hospital, Carlos III, that Spain has designated to handle Ebola cases.

And from TheLocal.at, another virus, this one mental:

‘Increase in racism’ due to Ebola fear

The Austrian Red Cross is warning that black people are being unnecessarily stigmatised in Austria because of fears of an Ebola outbreak.

It points to anecdotal evidence such as black children being sent home from school if they have a cough, or neighbours panicking if a black person in their apartment block complains of a fever, according to Die Presse newspaper.

Gerry Foitik, an Austrian Red Cross rescue commander, said their fears are completely unfounded as the virus is transmitted by direct contact with infected blood, bodily fluids or organs, and people are only at risk of catching it if they have been in West Africa or had contact with someone who had Ebola. The incubation period can last from two days to three weeks.

More on the lack of urgency in the initial global response from Al Jazeera English:

Ebola-hit states say world response is slow

  • World Bank chief says “perhaps even Africa” is at risk, as more cases of infection are diagnosed worldwide

Leaders of West African nations plagued by Ebola said the deadly virus is outpacing the world’s response to it, jeapordising the future of “perhaps Africa.”

“Ladies and gentleman, unless we quickly contain and stop the Ebola epidemic, nothing less than the future of not only West Africa – but perhaps even Africa is at stake,” Jim Yong Kim, President of World Bank, said on Thursday at a meeting on the Ebola response.

“Our people are dying,’‘ Sierra Leone President Ernest Bai Koroma said on Thursday by videoconference at the meeting. Koroma said the world is not responding fast enough as doctors and nurses continue to die.

A Uganda-born doctor, John Taban Dada, died early on Thursday of Ebola at a treatment centre on the outskirts of Liberian capital, Monrovia. He is the fourth doctor to die in the West African country since the outbreak. Over ninety health workers, including nurses and physician’s assistants, were killed by the virus.

And from Associated Press, stating the need:

UN chief: 20 times more Ebola aid needed

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for a 20-fold surge in international aid to fight the outbreak. “For those who have yet to pledge, I say please do so soon,” Ban said. “This is an unforgiving disease.”

At the meeting here, President Alpha Conde of Guinea asked for money, supplies, medicine, equipment and training of health care workers.

“Our countries are in a very fragile situation,” Conde said through a translator. President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia also appeared by videoconference to seek a rapid increase in aid.

World Bank President Jim Yong Kim praised pledges from the United States and the European Commission to evacuate health care workers who become infected while responding to the crisis in West Africa, to encourage doctors and nurses to risk their lives to help.

Here in the U.S., Congress finally loosens the purse strings, via the Associated Press:

Lawmakers approve $700 million to fight Ebola

The Republican chairmen of House panels that oversee the Pentagon signed off Thursday on an additional $700 million to pay for the military mission to help fight Africa’s deadly Ebola outbreak.

Thursday’s action by Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard “Buck” McKeon and Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers would permit a total of $750 million in funds leftover for fighting in Afghanistan to be used to provide logistical help for health care workers in West Africa. The first $50 million was released last month.

The administration originally requested $1 billion to send up to 4,000 troops to Africa. In briefings this week, McKeon said Pentagon officials estimate $750 million would cover a six-month mission that would include airlifting personnel, medical supplies, protective suits and equipment such as tents to house Ebola victims and isolate people exposed to the virus.

And another comparison, via BBC News:

Ebola challenge ‘biggest since Aids’

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa is unlike anything since the emergence of HIV/Aids, top US medical official Thomas Frieden has said.

A fast global response could ensure that it did not become “the next Aids,” the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said.

Dr Frieden described Ebola as one of the biggest crises he had seen in his career. “I would say that in the 30 years I’ve been working in public health, the only thing like this has been Aids,” he said.

CBC News covers an advocate:

Ebola virus co-discoverer says ‘we have to push through’ on vaccine

  • Canada has been Ebola research ‘pioneer’ but could do more on the ground, says Dr. Peter Piot

The co-discoverer of the Ebola virus says researchers must “push through” with the full development of drugs and vaccines even after the last patient in the current outbreak “has survived or died” and attention has faded.

Dr. Peter Piot tells CBC’s Jeff Semple he initially thought the current outbreak would remain in a small town or rural area and come under control after a couple of months. He says he knew he was wrong in June, when three countries were affected and the disease was appearing in capital cities.

“You can contain small Ebola outbreaks by isolating the patients, giving them care, quarantining all the contacts,” he says. “You can do that in a small town or so. But at the scale of a whole country, that’s far more difficult.”

A companion video report from CBC News:

Dr. Peter Piot, Ebola co-discoverer

Program notes:

CBC’s Jeff Semple talks to the microbiologist about the Ebola epidemic.

The New York Times covers action in Europe:

European Leaders Scramble to Upgrade Response to Ebola Crisis

When the Ebola virus was first identified in March as the cause of a series of mysterious deaths in the remote forests of Guinea, Europe moved quickly to battle a disease that has now infected more than 7,000 Africans and already killed around half of those. It mobilized more money and health workers than the United States, China or anyone else for West Africa.

But, proud of its long record as the world’s biggest donor of humanitarian aid, Europe has since suffered a blow to its self-image of can-do generosity. Its own efforts to contain the lethal virus have been overshadowed  by President Obama’s announcement last month that he was sending  3,000 troops to West Africa to build hospitals and otherwise help in the fight against Ebola.

While a few left-wingers sneered at the American deployment as yet another example of Washington’s taste for military intervention — and praised Cuba for sending more than 100 doctors to West Africa — many European officials and politicians welcomed the move and wondered why what had been a European-led international effort to contain the virus had clearly not worked.

From the Guardian, following up on the nation’s most prominent fatality:

Quarantined family of Texas Ebola victim left to mourn in isolation

  • Vigil for Eric Duncan at Dallas church turns to memorial after news of his death, but family members forced to stay at home

It had been planned as a vigil, but the service quickly turned into a memorial once the news broke that Ebola had killed Eric Duncan, the virus’s first victim in the US.

Before his condition worsened and he died in a Dallas hospital at 7.51am local time on Wednesday, eight days after his diagnosis was confirmed, Duncan’s last words were spoken to a nurse from the bed in his isolation room: a request to see Karsiah, the son he last saw 16 years ago when the boy was three.

That final hope went unfulfilled. A student in San Angelo, 250 miles away, Karsiah was staying in Dallas and preparing to head to Texas Health Presbyterian hospital in the hope of seeing Duncan at about 9am when his mother called him to tell him his father had died.

The sense of disconnection and distance, even from relatives in the same city, was replicated at Wilshere Baptist church on Wednesday evening at a service that was mainly for Duncan’s close friends and family, but necessarily took place without them.

And they have questions, reports the London Telegraph:

Ebola victim in US’s family: why did white patients live while black patient died?

  • Dallas hospital denies allegations of racial discrimination in the treatment of Thomas Eric Duncan, the first first to die from the disease on US soil

The Dallas hospital that treated the Ebola patient who died this week tried to fend off accusations that it initially turned him away because he was a poor African immigrant without insurance.

An experimental drug called ZMapp, a cocktail of three antibodies that has been used on American patients infected with Ebola while in West Africa, was not used on Duncan because it was not available, the hospital said.

A serum transfusion used on an Ebola patient airlifted from West Africa to a hospital in Nebraska was not used on Duncan either because his blood type did not match the treatment.

From USA Today, costly containment:

Bill for cleanup of Ebola-tainted apartment: over $100K

Hazardous-cleanup companies get a lot of odd requests, but nothing prepared the crew at CG Environmental for this past week.

A 15-person team spent the weekend decontaminating the Dallas apartment where Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan, 42, had stayed since coming Sept. 20 to the United States from Liberia. Duncan was hospitalized Sept. 28 but started showing Ebola symptoms four days earlier; he died Wednesday.

“We were the first in, and we really had no clue what we were getting into,” employee Dan Lee said.

Texas anxiety allayed, via Sky News:

Ebola Scare: Tests Negative For Texas Deputy

  • Doctors say a deputy who entered the US ebola victim’s apartment is in good condition after being put in isolation out of caution

A sheriff’s deputy who entered the apartment where the US ebola victim was living does not have the deadly virus, health officials have said.

Michael Monnig remains in good condition a day after he was rushed by ambulance to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas out of an “abundance of caution”.

The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) confirmed on Thursday that Mr Monnig’s blood samples came back negative for ebola.

Preparations from the Guardian:

US hospitals sending actors with mock Ebola symptoms into emergency rooms

In wake of Dallas patient death, health providers across US are reinforcing and testing infection control procedures

Public hospitals in New York City are so concerned about Ebola, they’ve secretly been sending actors with mock symptoms into emergency rooms to test how well the triage staffs identify and isolate possible cases.

A small Ohio hospital has hung up signs imploring patients to let nurses know immediately if they have traveled recently to west Africa.

And across the US, one of the nation’s largest ambulance companies has put together step-by-step instructions for wrapping the interior of a rig with plastic sheeting.

More of the same across the pond, via the Guardian:

Ebola outbreak simulations to be tested in UK hospitals

  • Department of Health confirms weekend real-time response tests in unnamed hospitals in the north and south of England

War game-style simulations to test Britain’s ability to cope with an outbreak of Ebola will be staged this weekend in hospitals in the north and south of England.

Officials at the Department of Health are drawing up details of at least two simulations which will involve people posing as victims of the deadly virus to assess the real-time response of hospitals, the ambulance service and local authorities. The exercise will take place on either Saturday or Sunday and details of which hospitals will be chosen to handle the mock cases are being kept confidential to minimise disruption to the exercise, an official said.

They may include the Royal Free hospital in north London which has an isolation unit and a dedicated team of nurses, doctors and laboratory staff specialising in dealing with infectious diseases. The Royal Liverpool, Royal Hallamshire hospital in Sheffield and the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle upon Tyne also have infectious disease units that are expected to receive cases. Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has acknowledged that it was “entirely possible” Ebola could reach Britain.

And from Reuters, a plane old job action:

Airline cleanup crews walk off job in New York over Ebola concerns

About 200 airline cabin cleaners walked off the job at New York’s LaGuardia Airport on Thursday to protest what they say is insufficient protection from exposure to Ebola for workers whose jobs include cleaning up vomit and bathrooms.

Picket lines were set up overnight by non-unionized Air Serv cleaners outside Terminal D at LaGuardia for a one-day strike prompted by fears about the deadly virus, forcing airline crews to clean the planes themselves. Some signs read “Air Serv exposes us to vomit, blood and feces without protection” and “Air Serv puts worker safety at risk.”

The workers, who are trying to join Service Employees International Union, the largest service workers union in the United States, briefly left the strike line to attend an infectious disease training session organized by the union.

The Canadian Press watches the aerial borders:

Ebola screenings to take place at airports in 6 Canadian cities

  • Screenings, more staff for Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, Halifax, Ottawa, Calgary

Canada will step up border screening to try to prevent an Ebola importation to this country, federal Health Minister Rona Ambrose says.

“Our government will be taking the additional step of taking targeted temperature screens,” she told the House of Commons on Wednesday, though she offered no detail about what that would mean or whether it would be only at airports or all border crossings.

The Canadian Press requested an interview with an official of the Public Health Agency of Canada to get clarification on Canada’s plans, but one was not granted. However, several hours after Ambrose made her remark in the Commons, the agency issued a press release providing some detail of what increased screening will look like.

The same, but closer to home from the Christian Science Monitor:

Ebola: Are US airport screenings more about controlling fear than disease?

A new poll found that more than half of Americans are worried about the possibility of an Ebola outbreak. On Thursday, cabin cleaners at LaGuardia Airport walked off the job, citing Ebola fears and concerns about not having proper equipment.

New Ebola screening procedures being put in place at US airports may be designed primarily to calm a jittery public, health officials say, given the low risk of an epidemic.

Health officials have emphasized that the risk of Americans’ contracting Ebola is extremely low – more difficult than catching the flu, experts say. The virus is not airborne and is passed on only through contact with the bodily fluids of those showing symptoms of the disease, making the risk of an epidemic breaking out in the US minuscule.

But a new poll found that more than half of Americans are worried about the possibility of an outbreak. And on Thursday, cabin cleaners at LaGuardia Airport in New York walked off the job, citing Ebola fears and concerns about unsanitary conditions on airplanes.

BBC News covers Britain’s efforts:

UK Ebola screening for arrivals from affected countries

The UK is to introduce “enhanced screening” for Ebola for arrivals from affected countries.

Downing Street said passengers arriving at Gatwick, Heathrow and on Eurostar would face questions and potentially a medical assessment.

Earlier ministers had ruled out screening, saying the UK was following World Health Organisation advice.

And from the London Telegraph:

How the UK will prepare Ebola screening

Program notes:

Defence secretary Michael Fallon and Ebola medical experts shed light on the UK’s strategy for keeping the virus out of the country

From The Hill, congressional panic as the Midterm election nears::

Dems call for Ebola flight ban

A growing number of Democrats are pressuring President Obama to ban flights to Ebola-ravaged countries despite repeated warnings from global health leaders that closing borders could accelerate the crisis.

A group of 27 lawmakers, including three Democrats, signed a letter Wednesday urging Obama to ignore health officials and immediately halt flights from the West African countries worst-affected by Ebola.

The lawmakers accused Obama of attempting to “pass the buck” onto organizations like the World Health Organization (WHO), which have advised against travel bans. Obama has said he would not ban travel unless the WHO reversed its position.

But as National Journal notes, some legislators are taking even more extreme stances:

These Politicians Want to Close the U.S.-Mexico Border Because of Ebola

Some lawmakers fear that the virus could enter through the country’s southern border

In a WIRC talk radio interview in August, Rep. Todd Rokita, R-Ind., referenced a conversation he had with Rep. Larry Buschon, R-Ind., in which the pair discussed their concerns that migrant children from South America could bring Ebola to the U.S. In a Tuesday debate with North Carolina Senate hopeful Kay Hagan, Rep. Thom Tillis attacked his opponent for her weak stance on undocumented immigrants. Tillis claimed that “we’ve got an Ebola outbreak, we have bad actors that can come across the border; we need to seal the border and secure it.”

Some lawmakers, like Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, have called for a ban on all travel from West African countries, where the Ebola outbreak is concentrated.

The CDC has repeatedly warned that closing off the U.S. borders won’t help. “I wish we could get to zero risk by sealing off the border,” CDC Director Tom Frieden told Fox News earlier this week. “But we can’t.”

From TheLocal.fr, a false alarm:

Suspected Ebola case near Paris a false alarm

UPDATED: A building belonging to French health authorities was cordoned off on the outskirts of Paris on Thursday after a suspected case of Ebola was reported. Around sixty people were effectively quarantined but authorities later confirmed it was a false alarm.

Ditto in Italy from TheLocal.it:

Suspected Ebola victim tests negative for virus

Italy’s health minister Beatrice Lorenzin on Thursday said that a 53-year-old doctor, who is currently being treated in Rome after coming into contact with a colleague infected with Ebola in Sierra Leone in September, has tested negative for the virus.

After the jump, the crisis accelerates in Africa, UN orders food aid for hard-hit countries, a suspected case in another African country, an African country steps up, tracing the course of infection, a continent on the tipping point, Guinea under stress, on to Liberia with American planes arriving, concern over a presidential big to suspend constitutional rights, elections suspended, orphans abandoned, a battle over bodies, and the Fourth Estate marks its fallen, then on to Sierra Leone and Swedish medics promised, the world’s leaders in public health emergencies are on the scene, a DJ wages his own war on the air as teachers closed school turn to the radio to conduct classes, the UN designates its Sierra Leone point man, the diaspora pitches in, and another form of trauma care pledged, Angola calls for vigilance, Another musician cops out, a soccer player heeds his team’s fears, Silicon Valley joins the fray, and good newqs for a Japanese drug maker. . . Continue reading

EbolaWatch: Alarms, U.S., Spain, African woes


First up, the reality, via Al Jazeera English:

WHO: no control over spread of Ebola

  • UN health authority says almost half of Ebola patients have died, and warns disease will spread to other countries

The Ebola outbreak shows no signs of abating, has killed 3,879 people and threatens more Western African nations poorly equipped to deal with the disease, the World Health Organisation has said in a grim update.

The UN’s health authority said on Wednesday that a total of 8,033 people had caught the infection up to October 5, and 3,879 of those had died. Liberia and Sierra Leone, the two worst-hit nations, had less than a quarter of the beds needed.

“The situation in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone continues to deteriorate, with widespread and persistent transmission of Ebola,” it said. “There is no evidence that the EVD epidemic in West Africa is being brought under control.”

It said a reported fall in the number of new cases in Liberia was “unlikely to be genuine” and rather reflected how responders were being overwhelmed by data.

From CNN, a remarkable look at the African frontline reality by way of a forehead-mounted camera:

Ebola battle through nurse’s eyes

Program notes:

CNN’s Nima Elbagir reports on the desperate effort to save Ebola patients from the viewpoint of those taking care of them.

And a parallel alarm from the Guardian:

Ebola outbreak could cost West African economy $32.6bn, World Bank warns

  • Bank says failure to adequately contain the virus would have potentially catastrophic consequences for the economy

The outbreak of Ebola could cost the West African economy $32.6bn (£20.3bn) by the end of 2015 unless the epidemic is quickly contained,the World Bank has warned.

The Bank said the future path of Ebola was highly uncertain and failure to adequately contain the virus would have potentially catastrophic consequences for the economy.

More than 3,400 people have died after contracting Ebola in the three most greatly affected countries: Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.

Jim Yong Kim, the president of the World Bank, said the virus posed a global threat and urged the international community to respond decisively.

And the shrieking alarm from [where else?] the London Daily Mail:

‘It’s literally, “Katie bar the door”’: Marine Corps four-star general warns of ‘mass migration into the US’ if Ebola epidemic hits Central America

  • Gen. John Kelly said Ebola in countries like Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras would bring a new human flood to the US-Mexico border
  • ‘Katie bar the door’ refers to a frantic effort to stop a threat from reaching its target
  • Kelly recalled seeing a line of people waiting to cross a Central American border, all of whom said they were from Liberia
  • Illegal immigrants have poured into the US from those countries this year, including tens of thousands of unaccompanied children
  • Kelly predicted that the deadly disease can’t be prevented from spreading: ‘There is no way we can keep Ebola in West Africa’

The Marine Corps general who leads America’s Southern Command warned Tuesday that the U.S. could face an unprecedented flood of immigrants from the south if the Ebola virus epidemic hits Central America.

‘If it breaks out, it’s literally, “Katie bar the door”,’ Gen John Kelly told said during a public discussion at the National Defense University. ‘And there will be mass migration into the United States.’

And a situation report, via CCTV Africa:

Ebola: Fresh concerns as the virus outpaces mitigation efforts

Program notes:

Health experts in the United States say the Ebola outbreak is unlikely to be eradicated unless a vaccine or other drug treatment is successfully developed. Up until now, the emphasis has been on halting the spread of Ebola by rapidly scaling up public health care facilities. But, experts now say those efforts are unlikely to keep pace with the disease. Daniel Ryntjes reports.

From the New York Times, in case you hadn’t read it before:

Dallas Ebola Patient, Thomas Eric Duncan, Dies

Thomas Eric Duncan, 42, the patient with the first case of Ebola diagnosed in the United States and the Liberian man at the center of a widening public health scare, died in isolation at a hospital here on Wednesday, hospital authorities said.

Mr. Duncan died at 7:51 a.m. at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, more than a week after the virus was detected in him on Sept. 30. His condition had worsened in recent days to critical from serious as medical personnel worked to support his fluid and electrolyte levels, crucial to recovery in a disease that causes bleeding, vomiting and diarrhea. Mr. Duncan was also treated with an experimental antiviral drug, brincidofovir, after the Food and Drug Administration approved its use on an emergency basis.

“The past week has been an enormous test of our health system, but for one family it has been far more personal,” Dr. David Lakey, the commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services, said in a statement. “Today they lost a dear member of their family. They have our sincere condolences, and we are keeping them in our thoughts.”

CNBC posits the inevitable:

Could Dallas hospital be liable for Ebola death?

Thomas Eric Duncan, the Ebola patient in Dallas who died Wednesday, may have been sent home while ill with the disease, and the doctors and nurses treating him may have failed to act on his report of coming from West Africa.

But will those health-care providers or their hospital be legally liable? Not likely, Texas legal experts say.

Tort reform and other legal changes in Texas since 2003 have made it one of the most difficult states in which to bring a medical malpractice suit, said Charles Silver, a law professor at the University of Texas at Austin.

“I doubt that you could find a plaintiff’s attorney to even take this case unless it was solely for the publicity value,” Silver said. “I can’t see why somebody would take this case for just strictly a contingent fee.

Meanwhile in California, this from the Los Angeles Times:

8th person tested for Ebola in L.A. County, 8th negative result

A man who was admitted to Centinela Hospital Medical Center in Inglewood with Ebola-like symptoms has tested negative for the deadly virus, hospital officials confirmed Wednesday.

The unidentified man, who officials said was admitted to the hospital Tuesday night, is the latest such case in the U.S. amid heightened screening and other measures put in place to prevent the virus from spreading.

Since the Ebola outbreak began in West Africa in December, there have been seven other instances in Los Angeles County in which patients were initially deemed to potentially have Ebola. Patients are quarantined until tests are completed.

Reuters covers belated preparations:

Dallas hospitals set up Ebola wards as city watches for spread

Hospitals in Dallas have set up Ebola isolation wards and revamped procedures to deal with new patients, as the sprawling Texas city waits to see if the deadly virus spreads following the first case diagnosed on U.S. soil.

Some 48 people are being monitored by health officials in Dallas after Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian visiting family in Dallas, came down with the disease in late September. He died early on Wednesday, hospital officials said.

Ebola’s incubation period can last as long as three weeks, but victims typically start showing symptoms within 10-14 days, making this week crucial, according to state officials.

From the Guardian, help in vein:

Ebola survivor gives blood for transfusion with Nebraska patient

  • Journalist Ashoka Mukpo, the most recent patient to arrive in the US for treatment, will receive blood of Dr Kent Brantley

The first American flown back to the US for treatment of Ebola this summer has donated blood to the most recent one to return from west Africa with the disease.

The Nebraska Medical Center said Wednesday that it called Dr Kent Brantly on Tuesday to tell him his blood type matches that of Ashoka Mukpo, a freelance video journalist who arrived at the medical center Monday.

The hospital says Brantly was driving through Kansas City, Missouri, and was able to give blood locally that was flown to Omaha. It says Mukpo will receive the transfusion Wednesday.

The Los Angeles Times watches the airports:

Ebola screening of travelers to U.S. may begin this weekend at 5 airports

Officials hope to begin screening air passengers entering the United States for Ebola as soon as this weekend, the White House confirmed Wednesday.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest confirmed at a press briefing Wednesday that the stepped-up screening is planned for John F. Kennedy International Airport, Newark Liberty, Dulles International, Chicago O’Hare, and Hartsfield International Airport in Atlanta.

Earnest said 94% of air travelers from the three affected West African countries — Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone — pass through those five ports of entry, which he said amounts to about 150 passengers at all five airports daily.

More from the Associated Press:

Obama: New Ebola measures add layer of protection

President Barack Obama describes says new screening measures at key international airports are “just belt-and-suspenders” to add a layer of protection to measures already employed.

He says the new measures will include more screening questions for passengers arriving from the countries worst hit by the outbreak — Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. He says the procedures will allow United States officials to isolate, evaluate and monitor travelers and collect any information about their contacts.

He says the case of Ebola in the U.S. — a patient who died Wednesday in Dallas — illustrates that “we don’t have a lot of margin for error.” But he said chance of an Ebola outbreak in the U.S. “remains extremely low.

A white Southerner says old school white Southerner, via The Hill:

Vitter: Block Ebola funds until Obama details plan

Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) is urging his colleagues to block any additional funding to combat Ebola until the Obama administration more clearly details its plans to stop the deadly outbreak.

In a letter Wednesday to the leaders of two congressional panels, Vitter questioned the administration’s request to shift $1 billion in funds toward Ebola prevention.

“I strongly support addressing this crisis with the full force of the government to help bring the epidemic under control,” he wrote. “However, I ask you to oppose fully allowing the additional $1 billion in reprogramming requests until previously requested additional information is available for members of Congress to be fully briefed.”

But Vitter said more should be done, suggesting the administration should bar foreign nationals from countries dealing with Ebola from entering the U.S.

“Instead of using powers given to him, the President is requesting $1 billion for a plan that has not been presented to members of Congress, focuses on Africa, and largely ignores our own borders,” he wrote.

The Verge makes a point familiar for esnl readers:

Ebola panic is getting pretty racist

  • The real culprit in Ebola’s spread has been cuts to public health budgets

The first time a reporter asked a CDC representative whether Thomas Duncan — the first patient to receive an Ebola diagnosis in the US — was an American citizen, the question seemed pretty tame. One could excuse it as a general inquiry about the Duncan’s nationality during the first press conference announcing his diagnosis. But after the CDC declined to answer, the question kept coming. “Is he a citizen?” reporters repeatedly asked. “Is he one of us?” they meant.

The current Ebola crisis has been tinged with racism and xenophobia. The disease rages in West Africa, and has therefore largely infected people of color. But somehow Americans were among the first to get a dose of Zmapp — the experimental anti-Ebola drug — this summer, despite the fact that Africans have been dying from the current Ebola epidemic since its emergence in Guinea in December. There are a lot of reasons for that, of course. The drug is potentially dangerous and only exists in short supply. It’s also extremely costly. And it originated in Canada, so it’s unsurprising that North America controls its use.

And now that Ebola has “reached” the US, American privilege — white privilege, especially — is floating to the surface, in even less subtle ways.

On a related note, from Public Radio International:

Why doubling down on aid to West Africa will do more to halt Ebola than increased airport screening

Although many treatment centers in Liberia are at capacity, local and international staff at most facilities are soldiering on, according to physician Sheri Fink, who is reporting on the outbreak for the New York Times. Fink is now in Suakoko, Liberia, at an Ebola clinic run by the International Medical Corps.

She says Liberians in that rural outpost fear that [Dalla fatality Tomas] Duncan’s death, along with increased screenings at airports worldwide, might mean fewer international volunteers will step forward to work in Ebola wards.

“They’re really worried that this will have a dampening effect on getting volunteers to come over here, where you really need to fight this disease at its source, and help the people out which is going to contribute to the US protection as well,” Fink says. “The fear is that if volunteers think that they might not be able to get back to their countries of origin, or have difficulty with that, that could be a problem.”

Another shrieker from the London Daily Mail:

BREAKING: Texas sheriff’s deputy rushed to hospital with Ebola symptoms after attending apartment of ‘patient zero’ who died today

  • Dallas County Sheriff Deputy Michael Monning went to an urgent care clinic in Frisco, Texas with his wife on Wednesday
  • A witness at the clinic described him as ‘hunched over and flushed’
  • The deputy was inside the apartment where Ebola patient Thomas Duncan fell ill – the officer wasn’t wearing protective clothing
  • The CDC said the person is not one of the 48 contacts being monitored
  • The CareNow clinic was placed in lock-down
  • Liberian national Mr Duncan, 42, died from Ebola on Wednesday morning
  • Sgt Monning’s family said today the CDC had told them that their loved one was not at risk and they were just taking precautions

United Press International sounds a softer note:

Officials: Dallas sheriff’s deputy unlikely to have Ebola

The son of Texas Sheriff’s Deputy Michael Monnig said there is “almost no chance” his father is infected with the Ebola virus.

A Dallas sheriff’s deputy who visited the apartment occupied by Ebola patient Thomas Duncan is unlikely to have been infected with the deadly disease, officials said.

Michael Monnig’s son said Wednesday his father decided to visit a clinic because he had stomach pains and felt tired. Monnig had been monitoring his temperature since a visit to Duncan’s apartment last week, but Logan Monnig said his father spent very little time there and did not come into direct contact with Duncan.

“We don’t want to cause a panic,” Logan Monnig told the Dallas Morning News. “There is almost no chance my dad would have Ebola.” Mark Piland, the fire chief in Frisco, where Monnig lives, concurred. He described Monnig’s illness as a “low-risk event.”

Another false alarm, this one in the Big Apple, via the New York Post:

NYC man cleared after being hospitalized for symptoms of Ebola

A Harlem man showing Ebola-like symptoms was taken to Bellevue Hospital on Wednesday, sources told The Post.

The 31-year-old, who had recently visited Nigeria, was later cleared by doctors after a battery of tests, sources said.

The FDNY confirmed that an ambulance responded to a call for a patient who was feeling sick at the Center for Urban Community Services and took the person to the city hospital around 12:42 p.m. His symptoms included fever, vomiting and diarrhea, the sources said.

On to Spain and the latest alarm from El País:

Second nursing assistant admitted to hospital with a fever

  • The woman formed part of the team that cared for the Spanish missionaries with Ebola

A second nursing assistant was admitted to hospital in Madrid on Tuesday night showing symptoms that could correspond to infection with the Ebola virus. The woman formed part of the medical team that treated two Spanish missionaries with Ebola, who were repatriated from Africa and later died in care. Another nursing assistant from the same team, Teresa Romero, was confirmed to have contracted Ebola on Monday and is being treated in Madrid’s Carlos III hospital, where this second woman has also been admitted.

According to a spokesperson from the La Paz and Carlos III hospitals, the suspected victim is running a fever, and is under observation. No further information was given, and it is not known whether the nursing assistant advised the medical authorities of her temperature, or whether she is one of the 50 or so people being monitored by doctors. Most of these formed part of the team who took care of the missionaries, and the remainder are medical staff who came into contact with Romero on Monday before she was placed in isolation.

The second potential victim was “very frightened” given that she is “a friend” of Romero, said hospital sources. The woman worked the morning shift on the team that cared for missionaries Miguel Pajares and Manuel García Viejo, who both died several days after being brought back to Spain. “They have told us that she is fine, but they have admitted her just in case,” the same sources added.

From the Guardian, the first of a barrage of allegations:

Spanish nurse reported Ebola symptoms many times before being quarantined

  • Teresa Romero Ramos says when she first told health authorities of her symptoms she was given only paracetamol

Her first contact with health authorities was on 30 September when she complained of a slight fever and fatigue. Romero Ramos called a specialised service dedicated to occupational risk at the Carlos III hospital where she worked and had treated an Ebola patient, said Antonio Alemany from the regional government of Madrid. But as the nurse’s fever had not reached 38.6C, she was advised to visit her local clinic where she was reportedly prescribed paracetamol.

Days later, according to El País newspaper, Romero Ramos called the hospital again to complain about her fever. No action was taken.

On Monday, she called the Carlos III hospital again, this time saying she felt terrible. Rather than transport her to the hospital that had treated the two missionaries who had been repatriated with Ebola, Romero Ramos was instructed to call emergency services and head to the hospital closest to her home. She was transported to the Alcorcón hospital by paramedics who were not wearing protective gear, El País reported.

On arrival at the hospital, Romero Ramos warned staff that she feared she had contracted Ebola. Despite the warning, she remained in a bed in the emergency room while she waited for her test results. She was separated from other patients only by curtains, hospital staff said on Tuesday.

More from the Guardian:

Ebola crisis: Spanish health workers attack poor training for combating virus

  • Doctor treating Spanish nurse says she might have become accidentally infected with Ebola when taking off her protective equipment

Spanish health professionals have taken aim at the scant amount of training offered to those on the frontline fighting the Ebola virus as the investigation continues into how a Spanish nurse became the first known person to contract the disease outside of west Africa.

On Wednesday, the doctor treating Ebola patient Teresa Romero Ramos said the infection might have been caused by “an accident” when the 44-year-old was taking off her protective equipment.

Germán Ramírez said he had spoken to the nurse three times in an effort to home in how she got infected. Romero Ramos, he said, believes she might have touched her face with her gloves while she was taking off her protective equipment.

In an interview from her hospital bed, Romero Ramos told Spanish broadcaster Cuatro that while she had been given training on how to put on and take off the protective equipment, it was “little training”. She refused to give more details.

Still more from RT:

Spain’s Ebola-infected nurse not immediately isolated, treated in cuts-hit hospital

Healthcare activists report that Madrid’s authorities decided to “dismantle” the infectious diseases center at the Carlos III hospital just months before the Ebola patients were brought there.

The “dismantling” has led to Ebola being “treated in a place that did not meet adequate security conditions,” according to a spokesman for the Public Health Service Defense Federation, Dr Marciano Sánchez Bayle.

“The whole section devoted to infectious illnesses has been closed,” he explained in an interview with Euronews. “The professionals who worked there have been moved to other positions. The laboratory was closed, and so was the intensive care unit. It’s just to say that, one way or another, its capacity to take care of illnesses with these characteristics has been most remarkably reduced.”

Sky News adds insult to injury:

Spanish Nurse Found Out She Had Ebola Online

  1. The 40-year-old says doctors failed to tell her she had the deadly disease and she only realised after reading it on her phone

And some other notable headlines from El País:

Madrid health chief accuses Ebola victim of lying to doctors

  • Francisco José Rodríguez denies any failures regarding training of medical teams

Health workers demand resignations over Ebola infection

  • “We did not have the infrastructure to deal with a virus of this importance,” says labor union

Neighbors of woman with Ebola left in dark by authorities

  • No attempt made on Tuesday to seal off building or apartment of Teresa Romero

From the New York Times, a canine excess:

Spain, Amid Protests, Kills Dog of Ebola-Infected Nurse

A dog named Excalibur who belonged to an Ebola-infected nurse was put down on Wednesday, even as protesters and animal rights activists surrounded the Madrid home of the nurse and her husband. A online petition calling for the dog’s life to be spared had drawn hundreds of thousands of signatures.

The furor came amid questions about whether dogs can get and transmit the disease.

In the United States, a spokesman for the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Thomas Skinner, said Wednesday that studies had shown that dogs can have an immune response to Ebola, meaning that they can become infected. But he said there have been no reports of dogs or cats developing Ebola symptoms or passing the disease to other animals or to people.

And from the Associated Press, a sobering pronouncement:

WHO: Spain’s Ebola case won’t be last in Europe

“What happened in Spain is unfortunate, but given the size of the outbreak in West Africa, we can expect to see more cases in different countries, including in Europe,” said Dr. Isabelle Nuttall, a director at the World Health Organization tasked with helping countries prepare for Ebola. West Africa is currently battling the biggest-ever outbreak of Ebola, which doubles in size roughly every three weeks.

WHO earlier issued guidelines for all countries on how to prepare for the arrival of suspected and confirmed cases, and the agency doesn’t see any reason to change that advice in the aftermath of the Spanish infection, Nuttall said.

“At the top of the priority list is good training and infection-control practices before any Ebola cases arrive,” Nuttall said. She said the agency’s efforts were focused on helping countries in Africa. “We’re not too worried about preparations in Europe,” she said.

And from News Corp Australia:

Sydney Airport health scare sparks panic

A HEALTH scare has thrown Sydney Airport into chaos with a sick passenger who was vomiting blood causing a flight to be grounded and quarantine officials called to the scene.

The Sydney to Darwin flight JQ 672 was turned around overnight when the man in his 50s fell seriously ill while on board a Jetstar flight. Fears his condition is highly contagious were evident as he was treated by paramedics wearing protective hazmat suits.

A Jetstar spokesman told news.com.au the man had been vomiting and the crew were advised the best course of action was to turn the fight around so the man could be treated in Sydney.

Hospital sources have also confirmed the man was not suffering from a contagious disease, Today has reported.

After the jump, on to the real front lines in Africa, starting with that American military presence and a hands-on retraction, Marines added to the mix, and British troops on the way, an EU-organized airlift, a U.N. medic stricken in Liberia, the heavy price paid by health workers, another tragic consequence for mothers and children, a walkout by burial squads and its rapid end in Sierra Leone, angry Liberians take vehicular retribution, the president takes aim at more civil liberties while another politician fires back, survivors rejected on coming home, tangible good news in Nigeria and an African countries outreach to still-stricken countries, while the country remains on alert in the schools and alarm spreads at airports over possible contagion from passengers arriving from the U.S. and Europe, a computing-for-Ebola computer challenge, and Big Pharma prepares to gamble. . . Continue reading

Two authors on American Black radical voices


Two authors have just penned books on on African Americans who challenged a racist and imperialistic status quo to call for broader vision of humanity incorporating the aspirations of the nation’s poorest and least powerful.

Here are two interviews, the first from Democracy Now! and the second from RT America’s Breaking the Set.

First, from Democracy Now!, Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez interview Princeton University Professor Cornel West about his latest book, Black Prophetic Fire:

Black Prophetic Fire: Cornel West on the Revolutionary Legacy of Leading African-American Voices 

Program notes:

The renowned scholar, author and activist Dr. Cornel West, joins us to discuss his latest book, “Black Prophetic Fire.” West engages in conversation with the German scholar and thinker Christa Buschendorf about six revolutionary African-American leaders: Frederick Douglass, W. E. B. Du Bois, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Ella Baker, Malcolm X and Ida B. Wells. Even as the United States is led by its first black president, West says he is fearful that we may be “witnessing the death of black prophetic fire in our time.”

Next, from Breaking the Set, an episode in which Abby Martin interviews journalist and broadcaster Tavis Smiley, author of Death of a King: The Real Story of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Final Year. Also featured is an interview with Arun Gandhi, grandson of Mohandas K. [Mahatma] Gandhi, about his new book, Legacy of Love: My Education in the Path of Nonviolence, about the impact of the Indian freedom activist’s legacy on his own life:

MLK & Gandhi: The Uncomfortable Truths History Books Won’t Touch

Program notes:

EPISODE BREAKDOWN: On this episode of Breaking the Set, Abby Martin speaks with television host Tavis Smiley, discussing his book ‘Death of a King: The Real Story of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.s’ Final Year’ which explores aspects of Dr. King’s life that have been whitewashed and back-paged in US history books. Abby then highlights the need to reflect on the message of Mahatma Gandhi to apply non-violence in current world conflicts, and speaks with the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, Arun Gandhi, about how his book ‘Legacy of Love’ which outlines the most important lessons learned from his grandfather’s mission of peace.

InSecurityWatch: Bombs, hacks, drones, zones


From The Intercept, making the connections:

Syria Becomes the 7th Predominantly Muslim Country Bombed by 2009 Nobel Peace Laureate

The U.S. today began bombing targets inside Syria, in concert with its lovely and inspiring group of five allied regimes: Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Jordan.

That means that Syria becomes the 7th predominantly Muslim country bombed by 2009 Nobel Peace Laureate Barack Obama—after Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Libya and Iraq.

The utter lack of interest in what possible legal authority Obama has to bomb Syria is telling indeed: Empires bomb who they want, when they want, for whatever reason (indeed, recall that Obama bombed Libya even after Congress explicitly voted against authorization to use force, and very few people seemed to mind that abject act of lawlessness; constitutional constraints are not for warriors and emperors).

A headline from Bloomberg makes a similar point:

Who Still Thinks Obama’s a Pacifist Hippie?

The Los Angeles Times with pals:

5 Arab nations support U.S. in strikes inside Syria

The White House ordered air attacks on Islamic State militants in eastern Syria within 72 hours after five Arab allies agreed to participate in the attacks, the Pentagon’s top officer said Tuesday.

Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, said the Arab governments only gave assurances they would join the operation over the last three days, prompting President Obama to give the order to commence the operation.

“The coalition came together quickly,” Dempsey told reporters traveling with him in Europe. “Once the coalition came together, that was the condition the president was most interested in.”

The White House withheld approval for strikes in Syria until Arab allies joined the attacks in hopes of showing that major Sunni regimes in the region were uniting against the Sunni extremist group after months of indecision, officials said.

The Independent notes an irony:

Syria air strikes: America’s attacks on Isis may help Bashar al-Assad keep his regime alive

  • But the Syrian leader will be watching with concern as the US’s use of air power spreads to include more targets outside its original stated aim

The moment America expanded its anti-Isis war into Syria, President Bashar al-Assad gained more military and political support than any other Arab leader can boast. With US bombs and missiles exploding across eastern and northern Syria, Assad can now count on America, Russia, China, Iran, the Hezbollah militia, Jordan and a host of wealthy Gulf countries to keep his regime alive. If ever that creaking old Arab proverb – that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” – contained any wisdom, Assad has proved it true.

In his Damascus home, the Syrian leader can reflect that the most powerful nation on earth – which only last year wished to bomb him into oblivion – is now trying to bomb his most ferocious enemies into the very same oblivion. Sunni Saudis whose “charity” donations have funded the equally Sunni “Islamic State” now find their government supposedly helping the US to destroy it. As Shia Iran and its Hezbollah protégés battle the Sunni executioners and throat-slashers on the ground, US bom

More from the Associated Press:

Assad backs efforts to fight terrorism

Syrian President Bashar Assad said Tuesday he supports any international effort against terrorism, apparently trying to position his government on the side of the U.S.-led coalition conducting airstrikes against the Islamic State group. Damascus said the U.S. informed it beforehand that the strikes were coming.

Assad’s remarks came hours after the opening salvo in what the United States has warned will be a lengthy campaign aiming to defeat the extremists who have seized control of a huge swath of territory spanning the Syria-Iraq border.

One Syrian activist group reported that dozens of Islamic State group fighters were killed in the pre-dawn strikes, but the numbers could not be independently confirmed. Several activists also reported at least 10 civilians killed as well.

Still more from RT:

Airstrikes alone won’t help US to fight ISIS – Syrian FM to RT Arabic

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moualem says he is “confident” that those airstrikes will not be “effective, if there is no coordination of actions on the ground and if no ground military operations are carried out.”

“The US is mocking the whole world when they say that they are going to coordinate their actions not with the Syrian government, but with the moderate Syrian opposition. This is funny. What moderate opposition are you talking about?” Moualem told RT Arabic. “This moderate opposition is killing Syrians just like al-Nusra or ISIS.”

If the US wants to have positive results in their “fight with terrorism” they should “immediately” change their approach, he said.

TheLocal.at piles on:

Austria joins US-led coalition against Isis

Austria’s Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz has announced that Austria is now part of the US-led coalition against Islamic State (Isis) militants.

Kurz said that Austria’s participation will be political, but not military and that as a neutral country it will provide mainly humanitarian assistance to persecuted religious minorities such as Christians and Yazidis in Iraq and Syria.

As does Nikkei Asian Review:

Japan, US affirm cooperation in fight against Islamic militants

Japan’s foreign minister on Tuesday expressed support for U.S.-led airstrikes against the Islamic State in Syria, offering humanitarian aid to refugees fleeing the Sunni militants who have terrorized the region.

In a meeting here with Fumio Kishida, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry explained the airstrikes conducted jointly with European and Arab nations and plans going forward.

In response, the Japanese foreign minister pledged Japan’s cooperation, noting that he understands that the action was taken to prevent the situation from worsening. Kishida said he hopes “the latest action will lead to a weakening and the eventual defeat of the Islamic State, which poses a serious threat.”

While News Corp Australia sounds the latest alarm:

Terror threat from al-Qaeda veterans in Khorasan eclipses that of the Islamic State, US intelligence officials say

As the world reacts with horror to the Islamic State, the United States raised an alert over an “unholy mix” of militants specifically targeting the West.

As al-Qaeda fragments after the death of its leader Osama bin Laden, one of its many offshoots in the Middle East has named itself Khorasan. It asserts the sole reason for its existence is to attack the United States and Europe.

The White House believes them. The US military launched air strikes in Syria on Tuesday, targeting the Khorasan group.

From United Press International, if they told you what it was for they’d have to. . .:

Invertix wins place on Army intelligence services contract

  • Army taps Invertix for global intelligence support.

U.S. Army has selected Invertix Corporation to provide it with global intelligence support services.

Invertix, a subsidiary of Altamira Technologies Corporation, said it is one of a number of large businesses on the indefinite-delivery/indefinite quantity contract, which is for the Army Intelligence and Security Command.

The contract’s estimated period of performance is through September of 2019. Its ceiling value for all recipients is more than $5 billion.

The Wire takes one small step for mankind:

U.S. Will Ban Deadly Landmines (Outside of Korea)

The U.S. announced on Tuesday that it will halt its use of anti-personnel landmines with one major exception – their ongoing deployment on the Korean peninsula.

Officials had said in June that in accordance with the 1999 Ottawa Convention, the U.S. would stop producing or acquiring “anti-personnel munitions,” and they characterized Tuesday’s announcement as another step in that process.

As part of the change, the U.S. also will not assist or encourage other nations in the deployment of deadly landmines and would destroy all landmines “not required for the defense of the Republic of Korea.”

Xinhua catches the bug:

Suspected NSA listening post discovered in Vienna

A series of photos of what is believed to be an NSA-operated listening post on top of a skyscraper in the Austrian capital of Vienna have been circulated by Austrian media Tuesday.

The IZD Tower building is situated next to the Vienna International Centre that hosts the United Nations Office at Vienna (UNOV), with media reports speculating the suspected listening hut atop the building, which at first glance appears to be a maintenance hut, is used to receive signals from bugs installed at the UN premises.

Erich Moechel from radio station FM4 reported that the hut has an air conditioning unit, suspicious in that this is unusual for a maintenance hut, and may indicate that either the hut is manned, or there are electronics situated inside that need protection from excessive heat during the summer months.

Details from TheLocal.at:

ORF journalist Erich Möchel believes he has identified the listening station – located on top of the 140 metre high IZD tower in Vienna’s 22nd district – not far from the UN headquarters.

A series of photos that were leaked to the journalist show a hut on the roof that is enclosed by solid steel bars and monitored by ten cameras. It cannot be seen from the street.

Möchel writes that it looks like “a maintenance building” but speculates that there may be equipment in the hut that can monitor mobile networks.

He adds that together with the US Embassy in Vienna’s 9th district and the ‘NSA villa’ in Pötzleinsdorf which is also assumed to be a listening post, the NSA could be spying on the whole city – as far as Schwechat.

The US embassy declined to comment on the allegations, as did the Interior Ministry.

While Assange was played on the big screen by Benedict Cumberbatch, a star of a different type has been picked to play NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. From the Guardian:

Joseph Gordon-Levitt to play Edward Snowden in Oliver Stone’s NSA whistleblower movie

  • Dark Knight Rises star to take central role in one of two duelling versions of account of National Security Agency files leak, adapted from Guardian journalist’s book

Joseph Gordon-Levitt has agreed to take the lead role in Oliver Stone’s forthcoming biopic of the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, reports Variety.

Negotiations on the deal have not yet begun, but both men are keen on making it happen. Production on The Snowden Files, titled after the book by Guardian journalist Luke Harding, is due to begin late this year or in the early part of 2015.

The film, which Stone is writing and directing, now looks likely to be based on two books, Harding’s account – full title The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World’s Most Wanted Man – and Time of the Octopus by Snowden’s lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena. Stone recently picked up the screen rights to the latter tome after optioning Harding’s book in June.

And whilst on that personage portrayed by Cumerbatch, News Corp Australia assuages Assange:

Swedish prosecutors say it is ‘far-fetched’ to think WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will be extradited to the US

SWEDISH prosecutors say it is “far-fetched” to think that fugitive Wikileaks founder Julian Assange could be extradited to the United States if he returned to Sweden.

It was the first time that Swedish prosecutors, who want to question the 43-year-old Australian on allegations of rape and sexual molestation, commented on the likelihood that he could be sent to the US.

Assange refuses to return to Sweden and has been holed up since 2012 in London in the embassy of Ecuador, which granted him political asylum the same year.

More from TheLocal.se:

Swedish prosecutors made their statement in a written reply to arguments made by Assange’s lawyers, who have appealed a decision by a Swedish court in July this year to uphold the arrest warrant against him.

The Court of Appeal in Stockholm is expected to announce its decision within the next week.

If it scraps the European arrest warrant against Assange, it could mean that he would be able to leave the Ecuadoran embassy.

The arrest warrant was issued to enable Swedish prosecutors to question Assange about charges brought against him by two women in their 30s. Assange denies the accusations.

And to complete the circle, uniting the interests of both, via RT:

A state within a state at an alarming rate: Assange says NSA just keeps on growing

In his book ‘Cypherpunks: Freedom and the Future of the Internet,’ Assange says that opponents of WikiLeaks aim to try to distract attention from actual revelations, rather than trying to provide answers to the questions posed.

“If we go back and look at what the US military is: Robert Gates and General McMullan said our publications were hypothetical and maybe they would cause harm. Our publications documented their involvement at a case-by-case level in the deaths of more than 20,000 people in Afghanistan and more than 108,000 people in Iraq. Those are the mistakes that we are talking about. Not only is this the dissolution of two societies, but also the deaths of over 100,000 people. So when you want to distract from this, you just make the same accusation to the person that is making the accusation against you. In 2013, in the trial of Chelsea Manning – who was subsequently sentenced to 35 years for giving information to the media and only for giving information to the media – the US government said that under the oath they could not find a single person who had been harmed, not a single person.”

Despite Snowden’s revelations about the NSA’s widespread spying, both domestically and abroad, the Australian does not think things will get better in the near future. Instead, he says things are getting worse – with the creation of a state within a state.

“There now six million people in the United States with security clearances. That is more than the population of Norway, New Zealand, or Scotland. That is in effect a state within a state. Why is it a state within a state? Because people that have security clearances have extra laws that they are meant to obey. That is extremely alarming [at the] moment, if we go back to 2010, just back to when it was 2.5 million. So there has been more than a doubling in the size of the National Security State within the US in just 4-5 years.”

After the jump, freakout over Google and Apple encyption, do your Like corporate datapervs? [and with drones?], hacks at Stanford, hacking away in Europe, the latest iHack, Google kicks the Koch habit, another moronic celebrity hacking threat and an overreaching legal effort to stem such things, an Argentine security threat, an expanded Pakistani nuclear arsenal, super-secrecy Down Under, the latest player in the Game of Zones and moves by another player, and more. . . Continue reading

EbolaWatch: Money, misery, fight, flight, woes


First up, a belated move from Washington via BBC News:

Obama says Ebola outbreak a ‘global security threat’

President Barack Obama has called the West Africa Ebola outbreak “a threat to global security” as he announced a larger US role in fighting the virus.

“The world is looking to the United States,” Mr Obama said, but added the outbreak required a “global response”. The measures announced included ordering 3,000 US troops to the region and building new healthcare facilities.

Ebola has killed 2,461 people this year, about half of those infected, the World Health Organization said.

More from the New York Times:

Obama Urges World Powers to Bolster Ebola Response

President Obama on Tuesday challenged world powers to ramp up the global response to the Ebola outbreak that is ravaging three West African countries, warning that unless health care workers, medical equipment and treatment centers are deployed quickly, the disease could take hundreds of thousands of lives.

“This epidemic is going to get worse before it gets better,” Mr. Obama said at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, where he met with doctors who had just returned from West Africa. But “right now, the world still has the opportunity to save lives.”

He said “the world is looking” to the United States to lead the fight against Ebola. “This is a responsibility that we embrace,” he said. But he called on other nations to respond as well.

Still more from the Washington Post:

U.S. military will lead $750 million fight against Ebola in West Africa

President Obama will announce Tuesday that the U.S. military will take the lead in overseeing what has been a chaotic and widely criticized response to the worst Ebola outbreak in history, dispatching up to 3,000 military personnel to West Africa in an effort that could cost up to $750 million over the next six months, according to senior administration officials.

By the end of the week, a general sent by U.S. Africa Command will be in place in Monrovia, Liberia — the country where transmission rates are increasing exponentially — to lead the effort called Operation United Assistance. The general will head a regional command based in Liberia that will help oversee and coordinate U.S. and international relief efforts while a new, separate regional staging base will help accelerate transportation of urgently needed equipment, supplies and personnel.

In addition, the Pentagon will send engineers to set up 17 treatment centers in Liberia — each with a 100-bed capacity — as well as medical personnel to train up to 500 health-care workers a week in the region.

Here’s Obama’s statement, via PBS NewsHour:

President Obama announces plan to combat Ebola in Africa

Program notes:

President Obama spoke from the Centers for Disease Control today after a debriefing from doctors there. The President pledged support in the form of personnel, setting up an “air bridge” into regions difficult to reach, and the establishment of a mobilization center in Senegal.

From The Hill, gettin’ the word:

Obama, Ebola survivor meet in Oval Office

President Obama met in the Oval Office Tuesday with a U.S. doctor who contracted Ebola while treating patients in Liberia, a spokesman said.

Obama met with Kent Brantly, the Ebola survivor, and his wife, Amber, White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters traveling with the president aboard Air Force One.

The meeting occurred shortly before Obama left Washington to announce an escalated U.S. response to the virus at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta.

Brantly and another American medical worker, Nancy Writebol, were successfully treated for Ebola at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta. Both were given an experimental therapy called ZMapp and fully recovered from the virus, which kills roughly half of those who contract it.

The Christian Science Monitor asks a question:

Why is US deploying the military to fight Ebola?

On Tuesday, White House officials outlined a new plan to assign 3,000 members of the American armed forces to supply medical and logistical support to help treat Ebola epidemic victims.

Why is the Defense Department fighting the war on Ebola? The short answer is because it is the largest and most capable US organization available for emergency action, and has money to pay for the effort.

The military’s extensive airlift and health-care infrastructure can quickly plug holes in the current international fight to try and contain the Ebola outbreak. US personnel should be flowing into the area in force in about two weeks, according to the White House.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon plans to move some $500 million of unspent funds within its budget into an account to fund Ebola action. The US has already spent some $175 million and moved 100 civilian experts from the Centers for Disease Control into West Africa.

And what are those soldiers learning about the invisible enemy they’re being dispatched to fight? Here’s the answer in the from of a video just posted [we were viewer 116] by the U.S. Army Public Health Command:

EVD: Ebola Virus Disease Outbreak

Program note:

Information for service members deploying in response to the West African Ebola virus disease outbreak.

It’s concise and hits most of the key points, though we’d be a little more comfortable if they hadn’t used that gunsight graphic a bit too often. . .

From the New York Times, a price tag:

U.N. Sees Need for $1 Billion to Fight Ebola

The Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa risks ballooning into a humanitarian catastrophe without a major surge in international efforts to contain it, senior United Nations officials said Tuesday, estimating the cost of this effort at $1 billion.

The number of people affected by the disease is still rising at an “almost exponential” rate, Bruce Aylward, an assistant director general of the World Health Organization, said at a news conference in Geneva. He said the number of reported cases had climbed to 4,985, including 2,461 deaths. Half of the infections and deaths occurred in the past 21 days, he said, underscoring the acceleration of the outbreak. “We don’t really know where the numbers are going with this,” Mr. Aylward said.

A road map he announced nearly three weeks ago to guide the international response had called for the capacity to manage 20,000 cases, but “that does not seem like a lot today,” he said.

“The numbers can be kept in the tens of thousands,” he said, “but that is going to require a much faster escalation of the response if we are to beat the escalation of the virus.”

Deutsche Welle admonishes:

WHO warns Ebola cases could double every three weeks

The World Health Organization has warned that the number of Ebola cases could double every three weeks, with medics stressing it could soon become too late to contain the disease

The number of Ebola cases in West Africa could begin to double every three weeks, according the UN’s official health agency, with doctors warning that the likelihood of limiting the spread of the outbreak is becoming progressively smaller.

In a report released on Tuesday, the WHO claimed $987.8 million (770 million euros) was needed to cover expenses already incurred, including the payment of health workers and the cost of supplies.

At a meeting of the UN in Geneva, the medical charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF) urged governments to act to halt the spread of the disease.

“The response to Ebola continues to fall dangerously behind,” said MSF President Joanne Liu. “The window of opportunity to contain this outbreak is closing. We need more countries to stand up, we need greater deployment, and we need it now.”

The Associated Press avers:

Ban: UN ‘taking lead’ on global fight of Ebola

The head of the United Nations said Tuesday that the world body is “taking the lead now” on international efforts to fight the Ebola outbreak in West Africa that has killed some 2,400 people and could spread further.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said at a press briefing that the U.N. General Assembly next week will follow-up with a high-level meeting — the disease, he said, taking on “a special focus” at an event that will welcome more than 140 heads of state and government. Before that, an emergency meeting will be held Thursday in which Ban and World Health Organization director general Margaret Chan plan to “outline the international action plan to contain this threat.”

The U.N.’s response so far has drawn criticism, with the president of France-based humanitarian group Doctors Without Borders on Tuesday calling it “dangerously behind.”

The World Health Organization gives thanks:

WHO welcomes Chinese contribution of mobile laboratory and health experts for Ebola response in west Africa

WHO welcomes the commitment from the Government of the People’s Republic of China to dispatch a mobile laboratory team to Sierra Leone to enhance the laboratory testing capacity for Ebola virus disease (EVD) in the country.

The contribution comes in response to WHO’s appeal for further assistance to Ebola response efforts in Africa and requests by the government of Sierra Leone. In addition to laboratory experts, the 59-person team from the Chinese Centre for Disease Control will include epidemiologists, clinicians and nurses. They will support Ebola response efforts at the China-Sierra Leone Friendship Hospital, which was built in 2012 with assistance from the Chinese Government.

“The most urgent immediate need in the Ebola response is for more medical staff,” says Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization. “The newly announced team will join 115 Chinese medical staff on the ground in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone virtually since the beginning. This is a huge boost, morally and operationally.”

Liberian Observer offers optimism:

“We can Win This fight”, UNICEF Deputy

In support of the fight against the deadly Ebola virus in Liberia, United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) has opened a five-day Training of Trainers (TOT) of social workers and mental Health clinicians across Liberia.

At the opening of the workshop yesterday at the Corinna Hotel in Sinkor, the Deputy Representative, Dr. Fazlul Haque, said the training is intended to provide the relevant skills and ability to roll out the needed psychosocial services to meet the needs of the Ebola-affected  communities.

“We are fully delighted to provide support to the government of Liberia to train these social workers and mental health clinicians of various counties to ensure that we meet the necessary needs of affected communities,” Dr. Haque stated.

StarAfrica decries:

Kenya lashes out at West over slow Ebola response

Kenya president Uhuru Kenyatta on Tuesday called for concerted efforts against Ebola, saying the global reaction to the deadly disease would not have been the same if it had happened in Europe or America.Speaking during a round table discussion panel of high level delegates comprising of Heads of States and leaders of Government in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, Kenyatta said time has come for African leaders to look for homegrown solutions to the continent’s problem.

He said the global response to Ebola outbreak is a wakeup call to African leaders to partner and set aside resources to tackle health challenges facing the continent.

He urged African leaders to work in solidarity in tackling various challenges facing the continent, including health and security problems.

StarAfrica again, with another number:

Kenya: $7m sets aside to ward off Ebola

Kenya’s Director of medical services, Dr. Nicholas Muraguri said on Tuesday the country has set aside $7 million as part of its contingency plan to prevent the entry of Ebola into the country, local media reported.This was revealed at the ongoing regional health minister’s conference in Nairobi seeking to address the challenges in tackling the spread of the Ebola virus in the continent.

He was quoted saying by the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation Television that the country remains on high alert to ensure the disease is kept at bay.

At the same the government has maintained that the ban on travelers from Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, the epicenters of the epidemic remains in force.

From Punch Nigeria, partial border closure continues:

Kenya maintains flight ban to Ebola-hit nations

The Kenyan government will not lift a travel ban to West African countries affected by an outbreak of Ebola virus until the risk reduce to a manageable level, state officials said on Tuesday

Director of Medical Services, Nicholas Muraguri, told journalists that Kenya remains vulnerable to Ebola transmission, and hence needs to intensify surveillance at ports of entry.

“The travel ban to Ebola-hit countries is temporal and since we are not convinced the risk levels are low, the ban will stay. However, we are closely monitoring the situation,” Muraguri said in Nairobi during the regional ministerial meeting on preparedness and response to Ebola.

From the Liberian Observer, a call from Ghana:

In Order to Eradicate Ebola, Ghanaian Prexy Wants Supports Expedited

The Chairman of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), President John Dramani Mahama of Ghana, has called on international partners and friendly countries that have pledged to assist Liberia with human, financial and material resources in the fight against the dreadful Ebola virus to expedite the process.

President Mahama said though several promised donations would adequately help in combating the virus in the Mano River sub-regions, the problem is that those resources are very slow in coming and as such, there is the need for the process to be fast-tracked in order to augment the government efforts in the fight.

The ECOWAS’s Chair spoke Monday, September 15, when he paid “a solidarity visit” with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. He was addressing a joint press briefing along with President Sirleaf in the Foyer of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Ghanaian leader revealed at the briefing that he had held talks with United Nations (UN) Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, on the issue of expediting support to the governments of Ebola affected countries if the virus is to be fought effectively and contained. President Mahama revealed that his visit is to show solidarity from the people of Ghana to Liberia as the country goes through this difficult period.

More from the Monrovia Inquirer:

Ghanaian Leader Braves Ebola Storm…Pays One-Day Visit To Liberia

In spite of fear amongst citizens of non-affected countries in the wake of the deadly Ebola outbreak in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, Ghanaian President, John D. Mahama has ended a one day visit to Liberia.   President Mahama is the first President to visit the West African country that now has the highest number of Ebola cases since the outbreak of the epidemic in Liberia in early March. The Ghanaian leader briefly met his counterpart, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs before addressing a joint press conference yesterday.

President Mahama, who spent less than two hours in the country, expressed optimism that with determination, awareness, the Liberian people will be able to reciprocate. President Mahama said his visit is mainly about the observation of the guidelines by the Ministers of Health of the Economic Community of West African State (ECOWAS).

He added, “From the onset of the outbreak of this disease, actions and measures were taken out of panic. Now that we have a clearer understanding of the disease and how it spreads and all of the ramifications; we should not panic or take measures that will isolate countries that are affected by this outbreak because by doing that will make it more difficult for the disease to be brought under control.”

A video report from FrontPageAfrica:

FPA WEB TV: Standing in Solidarity with Liberia

Program note:

Ghanaian President John Mahama, also the current ECOWAS Chairman, on a stop in Monrovia, Monday, outlines a number of measures and review mechanisms underway to end the isolation of countries hit by the deadly Ebola outbreak.

The Liberian Observer hears the shout of fire in a crowded political theater:

Ebola Fear Grips Lawmakers

The fear of the deadly Ebola virus has forced the House of Representatives to suspend its Extra Ordinary Sitting for Tuesday, September 16, 2014.

According to a statement issued from the House’s Press Bureau, leadership of the House took the decision based “on medical advice.” “The House Chambers and surrounding offices are expected to be disinfected due to a probable case of Ebola,” the statement said.

“Members and chamber staff have been asked to stay away for 48 hours after the fumigation.  “The Chief Clerk of the House, Madam Mildred Siryon, has been instructed to communicate the House’s decision to the Liberian Senate. The House took the decision after one of the Chamber’s doorkeepers, Captain James Morlu suddenly died.

From the Liberian Observer again, a call for action:

Health Advocacy Group Wants GOL Improves Its Ebola Response

The National Health Advocacy Network of Liberia (NHANL) has called on the Liberian Government to focus on improving responses on the removal and burial of bodies.

The group also urged the GOL to trace people who have made contacts with infected persons. The National Coordinator of the NHANL, Mark Marvey, spoke to newsmen Monday at his Sinkor offices.

Marvey said his organization has encouraged the government to prioritize the re-opening of health facilities in order to avoid preventable deaths and maternal mortality.

Punch Nigeria pleads:

Ebola: Jonathan begs NUT to shelve strike

President Goodluck Jonathan has appealed to the Nigerian Union of Teachers to shelve its plan to embark on strike in protest against government’s directive that schools should resume on September 22.

The NUT had maintained that it would be unsafe for schools to resume on September 22 until the country was completely rid of the Ebola Virus Disease.
But President Jonathan, who spoke with state house correspondents in Abuja on Tuesday, said instead of going on strike, the NUT should commend government on its handling of the outbreak of the Ebola disease.

He said, “I will plead with NUT and other unions that this does not require industrial action. They should commend government. They worked with us, they are Nigerians; all Nigerians must work together to make sure that we contain Ebola. Why do we want to create problems while it is not necessary? It is uncalled for.”

Punch Nigeria again, covering the deplorable:

NAFDAC impounds expired hand sanitisers, Ebola kits

The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, has impounded 104 brands of expired hand sanitisers and fake Ebola testing kits at various borders in the country.

The NAFDAC Director-General, Dr. Paul Orhii, who spoke at a press briefing in Lagos, where importers of the fake products were paraded on Tuesday, warned that counterfeiters have flooded the Nigerian market with expired hand sanitisers and  fake Ebola testing kits

Orhii said,”So far, we have quarantined 104 brands that were illegally imported into the country without certification by NAFDAC. It is worrisome to observe that some unscrupulous businessmen have turned the country into a dumping ground by bringing in all sorts of products including expired hand sanitisers.

And for our final item, via the Liberian Observer, market mobilization:

ABIC Takes Ebola Awareness to Markets

The Angie Brooks International Center (ABIC) with support from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Liberia office yesterday launched a massive Ebola Awareness campaign at the Rally Time Market on UN Drive in Monrovia.

Yesterday’s activities were in collaboration with the youths and marketers, and are expected to include all markets in Monrovia as well as in the counties.

The ABIC Ebola awareness campaign was launched under the theme “Spread the Word, not the Virus.”

The center is run on the basis to unite women to lift the world with the latest intention to stop the Ebola’s denial and to join the fight against the EVD together.

Chart of the day: Race in the incarceration nation


From the Christian Science Monitor:

BLOG Jail