Category Archives: Governance

EbolaWatch: Numbers, aid, desperate measures


We begin with a number from Bloomberg:

70: The Magic Number That Could End the Ebola Epidemic

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ebola treatment centres

Program notes:

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

The Washington Post embraces the military approach:

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

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

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

Shanghai Daily covers an opening:

UN opens Ebola headquarters in Ghana

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

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

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

From the Japan Times, on the ground:

Beds, staff scarce in Ebola-hit Monrovia

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

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

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

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

More from CBC News:

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

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

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

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

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

AllAfrica covers another facility in another country:

Sierra Leone: President Koroma Commissions Mobile Lab and Holding Centre

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

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

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

From the Guardian, a public health basic:

Media and communications: the first line of defence against Ebola

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

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

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

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

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

TheLocal.de encounters an obstacle:

Germany’s Ebola mission stranded in Gran Canaria

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

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

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

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

Star Africa News covers another aid infusion:

China grants DRC $900,000 to fight Ebola

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

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

About forty people have died of the disease there.

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

35 train in handling Ebola cases

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

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

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

Yet another alarm in Europe from TheLocal.se:

Fresh Ebola case investigated in Sweden

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

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

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

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

Science covers a lamentation:

Ebola vaccine tests needlessly delayed, researchers claim

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

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

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

And Punch Nigeria has help anticipated:

2,000 German volunteers expected in Africa over Ebola

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

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

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

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

Bassa Ebola Toll Rises -Six Survivors Rejoin Families

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

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

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

AllAfrica covers a process of elimination:

Liberia: Police Barrack Cleared

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

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

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

From the New Republic in Liberia, political concerns:

Cape Mount Ebola Death Toll Troubles Caucus — Sen. Dagoseh

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

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

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

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

The Analyst covers an epidemiological spread in Liberia:

1st Ebola Case Confirmed in Gbarpolu County

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

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

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

New Republic covers help from another quarter:

Agriculture Ministry Joins Ebola Fight

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

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

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

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

Ebola: Liberians Turn To God for Healing

Program note:

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

American drones, making children fear blue sky


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

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

From HBO’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver:

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Drones

Program notes:

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

It’s widely accepted and extremely terrifying.

InsecurityWatch: War, spooks, hacks, drones


We begin with beating war drums from  the Guardian:

Top Republican calls for US ground war amid fresh strikes on Isis

  • New US-led wave of bombing raids target Islamic State oil supplies as John Boehner ramps up military rhetoric

The Republican speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner, on Sunday ramped up the political rhetoric over Syria and Iraq by saying American forces will need to be put on the ground in the battle against the Islamic State (Isis).

Boehner’s comment that at some point “boots have to be on the ground” marks a significant inflation in the terms of the debate over how to deal with Isis. President Barack Obama has repeatedly said US ground forces will not be used in the conflict, which on Sunday saw US-led strikes in Syria and the first British strikes in Iraq, though the Pentagon has ordered the dispatch of 1,600 US troops to Iraq for what it insists will be training and other support functions.

Speaking to ABC News, Boehner criticised Obama’s plan to degrade and ultimately destroy Isis. “If the goal is to destroy Isil as the president says it is,” he said, “I don’t believe the strategy he outlines will accomplish it. At the end of the day I think it’s going to take more than airstrikes to drive them out – at some point somebody’s boots have to be on the ground, that’s the point.”

McClatchy Washington Bureau steps up the tempo:

U.S. combat role in Iraq not off table, Gen. Dempsey says

The nation’s top military commander refused Friday to back off his controversial stance in Senate testimony that he would recommend committing U.S. troops to combat in Iraq if he believed they were needed to help defeat Islamic State militants.

The steadfastness of Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, revealed a potential gap between President Barack Obama’s senior military and political advisers over whether there might once more be American “boots on the ground” in Iraq three years after the last American combat troops left.

In another sign of the expanding American mission in the region, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the first U.S. military personnel had arrived in Saudi Arabia to lay the groundwork for training 5,000 “moderate” Syrian rebels to fight the Islamic State.

Misunderstimation from the Washington Post:

Obama: United States underestimated rise of Islamic State

The United States has underestimated the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, President Obama said during an interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes” in which he also acknowledged the Iraqi army’s inability to successfully tackle the threat.

According to excerpts, “60 Minutes” presenter Steve Kroft referred to comments by James Clapper, the director of National Intelligence, in which he said, “We overestimated the ability and the will of our allies, the Iraqi Army, to fight.”

“That’s true. That’s absolutely true,” Obama said. “Jim Clapper has acknowledged that I think they underestimated what had been taking place in Syria.”

USA Today itemizes the bill:

ISIL fight already near $1 billion as strategy shifts

The air war in Syria and Iraq has already cost nearly $1 billion and ultimately could cost as much as $22 billion per year if a large ground force is deployed to the region, according to an analysis by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.

The study, due to be released Monday, shows a range of costs based on sustained but low-intensity combat up to a force of 25,000 U.S. troops on the ground.

President Obama and the Pentagon have ruled out the the use of American boots on the ground, making the most expensive option the least likely. Yet as Todd Harrison, the lead author points out, war is “an unpredictable enterprise” and the ability to forecast its costs is limited.

And the Guardian covers the media war:

Isis’s online propaganda outpacing US counter-efforts, ex-officials warn

  • Batch of US initiatives seeking to undermine Isis’s sophisticated online image is unlikely to work on internet-affluent youths

Former US public diplomacy officials fear the sophisticated, social media borne propaganda of the Islamic State militant group (Isis) is outmatching American efforts at countering it.

Aimed less at Isis itself than at potential supporters, a bevy of US diplomatic and communications initiatives seek to undermine Isis’s portrayal of itself as an authentic, successful Islamic resistance. But even some who helped push the State Department into confronting extremists online fear that US counter-propaganda is amorphous, slipshod and unlikely to persuade internet-fluent youths to whom Isis attempts to appeal.

“I honestly don’t think the government should be in the position of directly engaging jihadis on Twitter. It’s a silly game,” said Shahed Amanullah, who last year left the State Department after helping establish programs to promote anti-extremist Muslim voices abroad.

The Independent covers spin:

Isis in Syria: Militant group al-Nusra claims US air strikes are a ‘war against Islam’

The Syrian terror group Jabhat al-Nusra has denounced US air strikes against Isis as “a war against Islam” and vowed to take revenge against the coalition of countries supporting military action in the region.

In an online statement on Saturday, al-Nusra spokesman Abu Firas al-Suri called on jihadists around the world to strike against the global alliance opposing the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.

He said: “These states have committed a horrible act that is going to put them on the list of jihadist targets throughout the world”

Deutsche Welle covers a possible casualty:

Khorasan leader believed dead after airstrikes

US-led airstrikes are believed to have killed a leader of an al Qaeda splinter group. The Khorasan group was believed to have been plotting imminent attacks against the West, according to defense officials.

The leader of the al Qaeda splinter group Khorasan, which US officials say was plotting imminent attacks against the West, is believed to have been killed, the SITE (Search for International Terrorist Entities) monitoring service announced on Sunday.

A twitter account managed by an al Qaeda member said that the Kuwait-born Muhsin al-Fadhli, a high-level al Qaeda operative and former close associate of Osama bin Laden, had been killed in coalition airstrikes conducted on September 23 in Syia.

SITE said a series of tweets expressed condolences for the deaths of Fadhli and Abu Youssef al-Turki, another Khorasan leader. The monitoring group said the tweets also bemoaned conditions in Syria, where the US-led coalition has been conducting airstrikes against “Islamic State” militants.

Defense One looks at munitions:

How American Precision Weapons Opened the Door to an Arab Coalition

President Obama’s insistence that Arab states join in on U.S.-led air strikes against Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq serves a political purpose for Washington and the region. But that Arab states were able to play a key role in the strikes at all is owed to years of purchases of made-in-America, high-tech, precision-guided bombs.

The U.S. military has gone to great lengths to detail the precision of the air strikes conducted against Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq.

But outside the Middle East, NATO leaders long have expressed concern that the alliance lacked sufficient stockpiles of these types of guided weapons and could limit a countries’ participation in long-term air strike campaign. “We do not have enough precision-strike munitions to carry on a concentrated campaign, at length, helping all of our allies to be there with us,” said Gen. Philip Breedlove, NATO supreme allied commander Europe and head of US European Command, last week. “We need to think through where we are on precision munitions.”

Bloomberg mulls blowback:

Asians Chase Apocalypse in Syria, to Tick Like Time Bombs Back Home

As nations around the world grapple with the threat of Islamic State, the Southeast Asians fighting in the Middle East pose a risk in several ways, security analysts say. They could return and breathe new life into militant groups in a region with a history of extremism and occasional large-scale terror attacks, and they could radicalize friends and family at home via social media, aided by slick Islamic State promotional videos.

“It is not IS per se that might pose a danger to the region but rather its extreme militant ideology as well as the skills, battleground experience and international networks that Southeast Asian jihadists got from Syria and Iraq,” said Navhat Nuraniyah, an associate research fellow at Singapore’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies who looks at terrorism and radicalization.

“If even a small minority of them do return, they will be highly respected by existing local groups,” she said. “If they do intend to continue their mission they will have no problem finding recruits and support.”

Yet another drone strike from the Guardian:

US drone strike kills four suspected militants in Pakistan

  • Two Arab militants and two local allies killed in tribal region along border with Afghanistan, officials say

A US drone strike killed four suspected militants on Sunday in a north-western tribal region in Pakistan along the Afghan border, intelligence officials and Taliban fighters said.

Those killed included two Arab militants and two of their local allies in a compound in the town of Wana in South Waziristan, the two officials and three Taliban fighters said.

All of them spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to talk to journalists. Authorities don’t allow journalists into Pakistan’s tribal areas, which have long been a safe haven for local and al-Qaida linked foreign militants.

German journalist Udo Ulfkotte has some startling allegations, via RT:

‘Bought Journalism’: German bestseller reveals CIA pay Western media for spin & bias

Program note:

The media is a key tool in the battle for hearts and minds. But a new bestseller by a German author reveals some details on journalism that would be considered too outlandish, even in a spy novel. RT’s Peter Oliver reports.

South China Morning Post covers old school spooking:

Arms-smuggling Taiwanese duo snared in FBI sting plead guilty

  • Pair claimed to be acting on behalf of Beijing official when they tried to send hi-tech military gear to mainland; HK ‘mastermind’ awaits trial

Two Taiwanese accomplices of an alleged Hong Kong smuggling mastermind face decades in US prisons after being caught trying to export high-grade military technology to mainland China.

The pair claimed to be acting on behalf of a senior Beijing official when they were snared in an FBI sting, FBI reports and legal documents seen by the Sunday Morning Post show.

Charlie Shen Hui-sheng, 47, and Alice Chang Huan-ling, 43, pleaded guilty in a New Jersey court on Monday to both the arms charge and their involvement in a drug-smuggling operation led by Hongkonger Kow Soon-ah. Kow was extradited to the United States from the Philippines in 2012 and faces 14 drug and contraband charges that could see him jailed for life.

From the Canadian Press, reasonable grounds for suspicion:

Spy watchdog’s past oil ties spark concerns in civil liberties complaint case

A civil liberties group is objecting to Canada’s spy watchdog assigning Yves Fortier to investigate alleged spying on environmental activists, citing a conflict due to his former petroleum industry ties.

The British Columbia Civil Liberties Association’s lawyer has written to the Security Intelligence Review Committee asking that Fortier “recuse himself from any participation” in the matter since he once sat on the board of TransCanada Pipelines — the company behind the Keystone XL project.

Fortier, one of three review committee members, was recently appointed to lead an investigation into the association’s complaint that the Canadian Security Intelligence Service gathered and shared information about activists opposed to Canada’s energy policies.

After the jump, Internet founder sounds the alarm, a Snowden-inspired push, a Down Under online sting nets a biggie, a rare win for U.S. reporters, Hong Kong turmoil continues [with injuries], Beijing’s opposition, Beijing sends a verbal blast at Tokyo, North Korea sends at verbal blast at Washington, and the vanishing Kim. . . Continue reading

Two visions of the 1960s, seen from the Bay


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

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

Mario Savio: Sproul Hall Steps, December 2, 1964

Excerpt:

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

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

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

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

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

From UC Berkeley Events:

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

Program notes:

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

The Human Be-In, 14 January 1967

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

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

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

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

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

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

More here and here.

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

With that, from Docs&Interviews on MV:

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

H/T to Open Culture.

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

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

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

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

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

EnviroWatch: Climate, water, eruption, fuels


First up, a fait accompli from the Guardian:

Floods, forest fires, expanding deserts: the future has arrived

  • Evidence from around the world supports scientists’ assertion that global warming is already happening

Climate change is no longer viewed by mainstream scientists as a future threat to our planet and our species. It is a palpable phenomenon that already affects the world, they insist. And a brief look round the globe certainly provides no lack of evidence to support this gloomy assertion.

In Bangladesh, increasingly severe floods – triggered, in part, by increasing temperatures and rising sea levels – are wiping out crops and destroying homes on a regular basis. In Sudan, the heat is causing the Sahara to expand and to eat into farmland, while in Siberia, the planet’s warming is causing the permafrost to melt and houses to subside.

Or consider the Marshall Islands, the Pacific archipelago that is now struggling to cope with rising seas that are lapping over its streets and gardens. Even the home of the country’s president Christopher Loeak is feeling the effects. “He has had to build a wall around his house to prevent the salt water from inundating,” Tony de Brum, the islands’ foreign minister, revealed recently.

From the Associated Press, water woes in parched California:

California’s water agencies look to budget water

As California’s severe drought continues, state and local agencies are looking at budgeting water use by creating a daily water allocation for each household.

The San Gabriel Valley Tribune reports (http://bit.ly/1xsETsi ) that under such a scheme, a household would be allotted a certain number of gallons for indoor water use and another for outdoor water use.

The amount allocated is calculated using census data, aerial photography and satellite imagery to determine a property’s efficient water usage amount. Those using above their designated amount would pay extra.

Such a system is already in use or being considered by several municipalities statewide.

A similar crisis half a world away from the Los Angeles Times:

Iran prays for rain amid acute water shortage

Concern is mounting about dwindling water supplies across Iran, from the densely populated, smog-ridden capital and its parched suburbs to provincial towns and cities to far-flung corners of the nation, much of which is desert. Lakes and rivers have been drying up, reservoirs are at historic lows and water supplies have been cut in some areas. The annual snowmelt from the mountains is on the decline.

On the streets here, people grumble about cuts in water service. Many buildings have tanks on the roofs to collect rainwater. Unfortunately, it hasn’t rained in months. Bottled water is available, but many Iranians have little excess income for purchasing it. Most Iranians rely on tap water for both drinking and washing.

“On some days of the week, our tap water is cut for seven or eight hours,” said Akbar Aziz, 40, a printing-house employee who lives in the capital’s working-class Khorasan district. “We are consuming as little as possible,” said Aziz, a father with young daughters. “We shower only two times a week. So we are not responsible for the water shortages.”

Environmental Health News covers another water woe:

Fish still contaminated with phased-out Scotchgard chemical

A persistent chemical formerly used in Scotchgard still contaminates most fish in U.S. rivers and the Great Lakes despite a phase-out a dozen years ago, a new federal study shows.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency researchers found perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) in all of the 157 fish sampled from nearshore waters in the five Great Lakes and in 73 percent from 162 rivers.

The study, the largest of its kind in freshwater fish, suggests that eating bass, trout, walleye and catfish could be a major source of exposure for anglers and their families. The chemical remains widespread in wildlife, people and water around the world.

From BBC News, a body count:

Japan volcano: Mt Ontake rescue teams find 31 bodies

The bodies of 31 hikers have been found near the top of Japan’s Mount Ontake a day after a sudden volcanic eruption.

The hikers were not breathing and their hearts had stopped. The search for a total of 45 missing climbers has now been called off for the night.

The volcano, about 200km (125 miles) west of Tokyo, erupted without warning on Saturday, spewing ash and rocks. About 250 people were trapped on the slopes of the popular beauty spot, but most got down safely.

Deutsche Welle covers the story:

Hikers killed in Japan earthquake

Program notes:

More than 30 people have been killed after a volcano in Japan erupted unexpectedly. Mount Ontake continues to spew ash and smoke into the air, creating difficulties for rescue teams attempting to reach hikers still stranded on the slopes. Experts were taken by surprise by the eruption; they say there were no warning signs in the preceding hours.

From BBC News, Big Oil taps an arctic vein:

Rosneft and Exxon discover Arctic oil

Russian energy giant Rosneft says it has discovered oil with its US project partner Exxon Mobil at a controversial well in the Arctic. Drilling was completed in record time, it said, but questions remain about how quickly the well can be developed.

Exxon has said it will “wind down” the project following US sanctions against Russia over its actions in Ukraine. Environmentalists have campaigned hard against drilling for oil in the pristine region.

“Rosneft successfully completed the drilling of the northernmost well in the world – the Universitetskaya-1 well in the Arctic,” the company said in a statement.

Big Oil fracks your British basement, via the Guardian:

Fracking trespass law changes move forward despite huge public opposition

  • Ministers reject 40,000 objections to allow fracking below homes without owners’ permission

Fracking will take place below Britons’ homes without their permission after ministers rejected 40,000 objections to controversial changes to trespass laws.

The UK government argued that the current ability for people to block shale gas development under their property would lead to significant delays and that the legal process by which companies can force fracking plans through was costly, time-consuming and disproportionate.

There were a total of 40,647 responses to a consultation on the move to give oil and gas companies underground access without needing to seek landowners’ permission, with 99% opposing the legal changes. Setting aside the 28,821 responses submitted via two NGO campaigns, 92% of the remaining responses objected to the proposals.

Channel NewsAsia Singapore signals a major nuclear [power] proliferation:

India turns to nuclear as energy crisis deepens

  • Energy-starved India relies on coal to produce two thirds of its electricity, and it is now looking at nuclear options to ease a power crisis

India’s new prime minister is turning to nuclear energy to ease a power crisis made worse by the cancellation of hundreds of coal mining permits, but he faces scepticism both at home and abroad.

Energy-starved India relies on coal to produce two thirds of its electricity, but power blackouts are common and demand is rising quickly as the economy and middle class expand.

On Wednesday (Sep 24), the Supreme Court cancelled over 200 coal mining permits because the licensing process was deemed illegal, making the need for alternative energy sources yet more pressing. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made nuclear a priority as he seeks to fulfil his campaign pledge to kickstart the country’s flagging economy.

Want China Times takes seaborne nuclear power in a whole new direction:

China ready to construct floating nuclear power plant

The 719th Research Institute of the China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation was appointed to establish China’s first R&D center for floating nuclear power plants in central China’s Hubei province, reports our Chinese-language sister newspaper Want Daily.

President Vladimir Putin of Russia signed a contract with president Xi Jinping of China during his visit to Shanghai in May for the two nations to collaborate in constructing such a plant. As China Shipbuilding Industry Corp’s website writes, the floating plant will be used to provide electricity to Chinese facilities in the disputed South China Sea.

Equipped with a smaller nuclear reactor, some vessels can also be used to exploit the natural resources beneath the sea floor. When natural disasters and accidents strike, emergency assistance can be deployed from the floating station. If China gathers experience in operating such plants, they will be able to construct nuclear reactors for nuclear-powered aircraft carriers in the future.

And for our final item, a nuclear reminder from the Mainichi:

Ex-mayor raps gov’t before 15th anniv. of Japan’s 1st criticality accident

The Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011 was brought about as the government neglected to learn lessons from Japan’s first criticality accident that occurred 15 years ago, the former mayor of the affected village said Sunday.

Speaking before an audience of some 350 people who gathered for a public meeting ahead of the accident’s 15th anniversary, Tatsuya Murakami, who served as mayor of Tokaimura in Ibaraki Prefecture until last year, said despite the accident Japan has persisted to maintain a “safety myth.”

“Japan was caught up in a ‘safety myth’ that a serious nuclear accident would not happen in this country when the criticality accident occurred at a nuclear fuel processor in this village” on Sept. 30, 1999, he said.

The myth and the failure to firmly clarify the cause of the accident eventually led to the Fukushima meltdown, he said.

EbolaWatch: Arts, shortages, suffering, more


We begin today’s coverage with two videos from CCTV Africa focusing on the Ebola crisis and the performing arts.

Our first offering focuses on Ugandan playwright Phillip Luswata’s Get Away from Me, a dramatization of the Ebola crisis and its impact on everyday life:

Ebola Crisis: Fighting Ebola Through Theatre

Program notes:

Until this outbreak, Uganda had suffered the greatest number of ebola flare-ups. But this time, it’s managed to avoid any cases. Officials attribute that to good awareness among the population. The virus has even inspired a stage-play in Kampala. CCTV’s Leon Ssenyange reports.

Next, a report on the use of music to educate an anxious and often-misinformed public:

Ebola Crisis : Songs of Awareness on The Virus

Program notes:

Authorities have been resorting to drastic measures to try and curb the spread of Ebola. In Sierra Leone, a full two million people are to be sealed off – and quarantined. Yet some are convinced there are more effective ways to save lives. CCTV’s Jane Kiyo has more

From CBC News, tragic failure:

Ebola outbreak: Clinics still short on doctors, supplies 6 months later

  • Bulk of promised global aid has yet to materialize on the ground

Doctors are in short supply. So are beds for patients. Six months after the Ebola outbreak emerged for the first time in an unprepared West Africa and eventually became the worst-ever outbreak, the gap between what has been sent by other countries and private groups and what is needed is huge.

Even as countries try to marshal more resources, those needs threaten to become much greater, and possibly even insurmountable.

Statistics reviewed by The Associated Press and interviews with experts and those on the scene of one of the worst health disasters in modern history show how great the needs are and how little the world has done in response. Some foreign medical workers have bravely fought on, a few even contracting Ebola themselves as they cared for patients.

IPS Inter Press Service News Agency raises more aid questions:

Militarising the Ebola Crisis

It’s unclear whether any U.S. healthcare personnel will actually treat patients, but according to the White House, “the U.S. Government will help recruit and organise medical personnel to staff” the centres and “establish a site to train up to 500 health care providers per week.”

The latter begs the question of practicality: where would these would-be health workers be recruited from?

According to the Obama administration, the package was requested directly by Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. (Notably, Liberia was the only African nation to offer to host AFRICOM’s headquarters in 2008, an offer AFRICOM declined and decided to set up in Germany instead).

Punch Nigeria makes a plea:

Ebola: Lab scientists want more protection for members

Chairman of the Association of Medical Laboratories Scientist in Nigeria, Oyo State Chapter, Akinbola Idowu, has called on the federal and state governments protect the interest of health workers especially laboratory scientists in their efforts to end the spread of Ebola Virus Disease in the country.

During a workshop held in Ibadan on Ebola for health laboratory workers and other categories of health workers who are considered vulnerable to the disease, because of the hazard involved in treating a suspected case and handling test samples, Idowu called on participants to be on the alert and take necessary precaution against possible infection.

He said, “It is highly important to appreciate the timing of this program because of the collective fight against EVD in our country.”

While the Guardian raises questions:

Liberian Senate calls for more transparency over Ebola funds

  • Full disclosure demanded over how $5m of government funding allocated for fighting outbreak has vanished so quickly

Stately and unassuming, Liberia’s national Ebola taskforce coordinator James Dorbor Jallah announced at a press conference in late August that the government’s initial $5m (£3m) contribution to contain the disease had been spent.

As he fumbled with the numbers in his expenditures report, the blogosphere exploded with queries about how all that money could vanish so quickly. Now, the Liberian Senate is demanding full disclosure of the Ebola funds’ whereabouts. To his credit, however, Jallah was attempting something that donors have yet to do: answer to the people in whose name “the war on Ebola” is being fought in west Africa. As we have seen all too often in international emergency response operations, the stakes are too high to forgo systems of accountability.

Médecins Sans Frontières, the leading health relief organisation in Liberia, has complained for weeks that resources committed to the Ebola crisis have been “entirely insufficient”. The latest projections from the UN indicate that almost $1bn will be needed to contain the Ebola outbreak in west Africa. Significant amounts of money have now started pouring in, with the fanfare we have come to expect in such situations. But commitments have not been matched with relevant tools and reports to track the flows of promised aid disbursals.

RFI covers those already marginalized:

Most vulnerable in Sierra Leone suffer under Ebola quarantine

As ordinary Sierra Leoneans navigate government-imposed curfews and quarantined areas in a new reality shaped by the deadly Ebola virus, the country’s most vulnerable are getting left behind.

Health ministries in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea have made an effort to educate the public, calling on them to wash their hands and avoid physical contact. But this has caused problems for the most vulnerable.

Voice of America covers crisis compounded:

Life Harder for Liberians Post-Ebola Quarantine

In West Point, one the Liberian capital Monrovia’s poorest neighborhoods, the situation is calm a month after the government forced quarantine on its inhabitants. But residents complain that businesses, social life and entertainment have suffered and other Monrovians treat them like outcasts.

On a cloudy day in the coastal city, fishermen can be seen offshore. Fishing is one of the city’s main livelihoods.

West Point made global news last month, when the government forced a quarantine on the entire community, following a high number of diagnosed Ebola cases.  The community rebelled with violent protests.

And a didactic headline from Angola Press News Agency:

Angola: Passengers At Airports Learn About Ebola Danger

The Angolan health authorities are is conducting awareness raising campaigns with passengers and workers at airports around the country about the danger posed by the Ebola epidemic hitting several West African nations.

The measure that includes the floating of banners in strategic locations near airports migration, check-in counters, embarking and disembarking lounges, is intended to inform the citizens and avoid the entry of the epidemic into the country.

With the outbreak of the disease in various African countries, the Angolan Health Ministry adopted strict surveillance measures at ports, airports and transports from regions with Ebola prevalence.

For our final item, another impact from New Zimbabwe:

Daring Sex Workers Introduce ‘Ebola Risk Allowance’

Commercial sex workers at Nyamapanda Border Post have started charging “Ebola risk insurance” in a bid to use the deadly outbreak to shake down truck drivers from outside Zimbabwe for extra cash.

Nyamapanda, on the border with Mozambique, is one of the access points used by truckers from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) which has been affected by the Ebola outbreak that has now killed more than 3,000 in West Africa.

The sex workers said they decided to use Ebola to make more money because business was down with local clients who have decided to zip it because of the country’s economic challenges.

Surviving Ebola: The grim reality in Sierra Leone


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

From 4oD Documentaries:

Surviving Ebola

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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