Category Archives: Labor

EnviroWatch: Struggles, species, and fuels


We begin today’s report on the relationship between people and world with two  videos on struggles to save some of the world’s truly wonderful places from the ravages of development.

First, via Mother Jones:

Fight for Areng Valley

Background from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting:

Fight for Areng Valley

A revolution is awakening in Cambodia—with protests led by a monk who is speaking out against the environmental destruction of his country.

The Cambodian government intends to build a network of 17 dams across Cambodia, hoping this will generate enough electricity to meet domestic demand, reduce energy costs, and export surplus energy abroad. While the goal of transforming Cambodia into the power plant of Southeast Asia may promise economic gain, it also entails significant costs.

For this project, filmmaker Kalyanee Mam travels to Areng Valley, a remote area in southwest Cambodia at the foot of the Central Cardamom Protected Forests. She follows a group of young dissident monks who traveled over 150 miles from Phnom Penh, the capital, to join the Chong people in their fight to protect their forests, livelihood, and heritage from the looming construction of a hydroelectric dam.

Mam looks at how the Chong people of Areng Valley and the monks of Cambodia are striving to protect not only the forests, but also the very essence of the Cambodian people’s livelihood and spiritual well-being, rooted and grounded in nature.

Born in Cambodia, Mam fled her home country in 1979, after the fall of the Khmer Rouge regime, which claimed nearly two million lives. When she returned to Cambodia for the first time in 1998, Cambodia was rebuilding from the rubble of civil war. Now, 16 years later, the country must balance its need to feed the energy demands of a burgeoning society with the necessity of conserving and protecting its natural resources.

Next, via Yale Environment 360:

Indonesia – Dayaks and Drones- How technology can promote sustainable forests and communities

Program notes:

The villagers of Setulang in Indonesian Borneo have enlisted a new ally in their fight against the illegal clearing of their forests for oil palm plantations: aerial drones.

Setulang lies within a forest conservation area managed by the indigenous Dayak people, who have fostered a thriving tourism industry based on the rainforest’s rich biodiversity and their own cultural heritage. After successfully ousting an oil palm company operating illegally in their territory, the Dayaks are now hoping the drones can help them protect their land.

“Dayaks and Drones,” a video produced by Handcrafted Films, chronicles how the villagers teamed up with an Indonesian nonprofit to learn how to program and operate drones. Equipped with GPS technology, the small drones photograph the forest and monitor the area for illegal activities, especially plantations and mines. The villagers will use information gathered by the drones to create a detailed map of their land, which will help in future conservation efforts.

“The international community must help Indonesia accelerate the recognition and protection of the rights of indigenous peoples,” Abdon Nababan, an Indonesian indigenous rights leader, tells the filmmakers.

From the Observer, a magnificent species draws closer to extinction:

Death of white rhino in Kenya leaves only six animals alive in the world

  • Fears grow for future of northern white rhino species after loss of 34-year-old Suni, one of last two breeding males in the world

An endangered northern white rhino has died in Kenya, a wildlife conservancy has said, meaning only six of the animals are left alive in the world.

Suni, a 34-year-old northern white, and the first of his species to be born in captivity, was found dead on Friday by rangers at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy near Nairobi. While there are thousands of southern white rhinos in the plains of sub-Saharan Africa, decades of rampant poaching has meant the northern white rhino is close to extinction.

Suni was one of the last two breeding males in the world as no northern white rhinos are believed to have survived in the wild. Though the conservancy said Suni was not poached, the cause of his death is currently unclear.

More species in decline via the Hindu:

Over one-fifth of India’s frogs under threat

More than 20 per cent of frogs and toads — 78 of the 340 species — found in India are under threat, according recent findings of the Zoological Survey of India.

In a publication titled ‘Threatened Amphibians of India’, which catalogues these species, the ZSI pointed out that of the species under threat, 17 are ‘critically endangered; 32 are ‘endangered’, 22 are ‘vulnerable’, and the remaining seven are ‘near threatened species’.

According to ZSI scientist Kaushik Deuti, frogs and toads are very sensitive to habitat and climate change and are referred as “bio indicators.” “Their presence or absence denotes whether a habitat is in good condition or is undergoing change and is under threat,” he said. One of the main reasons behind the diminishing numbers of the amphibians, ZSI director K. Venkataraman said, was climate change, widespread deforestation and destruction of the frogs’ natural habitat. Frogs are also captured to be sold off in the global market.

According to the ZSI, of the 17 critically-endangered species — whose total population is less than 250 — one particular species of frog, known as Resplendent Bush Frog (Raorchestes resplendens), can only be found in a 3 sq km area atop the Anamudi Peak in Kerala’s Idukki district.

Still more species in decline from the Ecologist:

African habitat loss driving migrating birds’ decline

A new report reveals huge declines in the UK’s migratory birds that winter deep in Africa’s rainforests. Shorter distance migrants are performing much better, with some recording big population increases.

The latest in the annual series of State of the UK’s Birds report, published today, shows alarming declines among 29 migrant species which nest in the UK in summer and spend the winter around the Mediterranean, or in Africa south of the Sahara Desert.

The most dramatic declines are among species which winter in the humid zone of Africa – stretching across the continent from southern Senegal to Nigeria and beyond.

Of this group of species, which includes whinchat, nightingale, tree pipit and spotted flycatcher, 73% have declined since the late 1980s, 45% by more than half.

One of the most dramatic declines is that of the turtle dove with a decline of 88% since 1995. Heavy declines have also been recorded over the same period for wood warbler, down 66%; pied flycatcher, 53%; spotted flycatcher, 49%; cuckoo, 49%; nightingale, 43%; and yellow wagtail, 43%.

On to fuelishness with In These Times:

Building Trades Chief Lauds Fracking Boom, Shrugs Off Environmental Concerns

On Tuesday, the Oil and Natural Gas Industry Labor-Management Committee released a report by Dr. Robert Bruno and Michael Cornfield of the University of Illinois which found that from 2008 to 2014, oil and gas development created 45,000 new jobs in the Marcellus Shale region—an area that includes parts of Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. The data came from the BCTD; the National Maintenance Agreements Policy Committee, a joint labor-management committee that oversees collective bargaining agreements in the construction industry; and Industrial Info Resources, a third party specializing in “global market intelligence.”

Two days later, BCTD president Sean McGarvey, who also serves as chair of the Oil and Natural Gas Industry Labor-Management Committee and whose union is a member of the committee, praised the report and defended the thriving industry.

“Oil and gas industry spending in the Marcellus Shale region has led to significant increases in construction and maintenance jobs,” McGarvey told reporters on a conference call. “At a time when the U.S. construction industry was in the midst of what was arguably a depression, … one of the few, if not only, bright spots, were the jobs that were created by virtue of domestic oil and gas development.”

And one side effect from Yale Environment 360:

With the Boom in Oil and Gas, Pipelines Proliferate in the U.S.

The rise of U.S. oil and gas production has spurred a dramatic expansion of the nation’s pipeline infrastructure. As the lines reach into new communities and affect more property owners, concerns over the environmental impacts are growing.

In the spring of 2012, about nine years after Melissa Owen and her husband purchased 640 acres of remote Arizona desert that they hoped to turn into a wildlife refuge, a representative from the energy giant Kinder Morgan knocked on their front door. The man said his company planned to

They didn’t give it, and the Kinder Morgan visit set off what Owen calls some of the most trying years of her life. Petitions to the pipeline company, local county officials, the U.S. government, and a variety of environmental groups failed to stop the pipeline from earning the necessary permits and gaining access to Owen’s land.

“I’d get up at three in the morning, write letters to the government and Kinder Morgan, and research what I could do, then do my ranch work,” she said. “Then I’d start all over again the next day.”

Next, via the Ecologist, a real gas:

NASA confirms US’s 2,500-square-mile methane cloud

When NASA researchers first saw data indicating a massive cloud of methane floating over the American Southwest, they found it so incredible that they dismissed it as an instrument error.

But as they continued analyzing data from the European Space Agency’s Scanning Imaging Absorption Spectrometer for Atmospheric Chartography instrument from 2002 to 2012, the ‘atmospheric hot spot’ kept appearing.

The team at NASA was finally able to take a closer look, and have now concluded that there is in fact a 2,500-square-mile cloud of methane – roughly the size of Delaware – floating over the Four Corners region, where the borders of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah all intersect.

This discovery follows the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s new estimates of methane’s ‘global warming potential’ (GWP): 34 over 100 years, and 86 over 20 years. That number reflects how much more powerful methane is than CO2.

On to Fukushimapocalypse Now!, first with the Japan Times:

Record cesium level detected in Fukushima No. 1 groundwater; Tepco blames heavy rainfall

A record 264,000 becquerels of radioactive cesium per liter has been detected in groundwater at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power station, Tokyo Electric Power Co. disclosed Saturday.

The sample was taken Thursday from an observation well near reactor 2 reactor of the plant, which was destroyed by the March 2011 quake and tsunami.

According to Tepco, recent heavy rains pushed up the levels of groundwater, causing it to reach soil containing highly radioactive water leaked earlier from the plant’s crippled reactors.

The per liter level of cesium-137 rose to 200,000 becquerels from 190,000 becquerels in groundwater sampled from the same well on Wednesday. The cesium-134 level was unchanged at 64,000 becquerels.

Finally, from Corriere della Sera, another nuclear woe:

Italy’s Radiation-porous Ports

  • About € 25 million spent on protecting coastline against contaminated materials but ports remain exposed

Italy spend about L.45 billion in 1999 on scanners that could detect radioactivity in cargo arriving from abroad. But even though another €1 million was paid out for acceptance inspections in 2003, the special portals installed at harbour border crossings have remained out of service.

Italy is a major importer of metals, which means that the issue is exceptionally important, not least because in the past the Bel Paese has featured in the illegal trafficking of radioactive waste. The risk of discovering that items in your home are radioactive is far from hypothetical. Here are one or two examples. At Genoa in 2011, checks carried out by a privately owned company led to the blocking of a container carrying several tonnes of cobalt 60-contaminated metal. The cargo had arrived from the United Arab Emirates and was for use at a factory in the province of Alessandria. Before reaching Liguria, the metal, which was accompanied by a waybill, had passed through the port of Gioia Tauro. No one noticed that the container was releasing radiation. Cobalt 60 has turned up in several places up and down Italy. In 2013, it was detected in kitchen utensils on sale in a number of shops. The goods had passed through the port of Taranto without the slightest difficulty. At Turin in 2012, a batch of household trays was found to be radioactive. It’s easy to imagine how many at-risk items could have crossed Italy’s borders and entered the country undetected in recent years.

Commodified labor: The Internet ate your job


A deft deconstruction from the Guardian:

The internet is after your job

Program notes:

New technology can destroy jobs. In the past, this has mainly affected unskilled jobs, but now it’s hitting the middle classes – cutting a swathe across the creative industries and ‘professions’.

Within a generation we may find that there are no such things as a ‘career’ or ‘job security’. What’s driving this disruption to our working lives – and what can you do about it?

EbolaWatch: Warnings, pols, patients, Africa


We begin today’s collection of reports from around the world [with special emphasis on African media] with a fascinating video from USA Today:

Watch CDC Director’s language change on Ebola crisis

Program notes:

CDC Director, Dr. Thomas Frieden shifts his statements as the Ebola crisis deepens.

Another video, from Texas Health Resources, focusing on America’s first endogenous Ebola patient:

Nina Pham Speaks from Her Room at Texas Health Dallas

Program notes:

Before Nina Pham departed Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas for the National Institute of Health’s Clinical Center earlier today, she was visited by her treating physician, Dr. Gary Weinstein, who recorded his conversation with her before she was discharged. Ms. Pham asked that we share the video.

The latest from Dallas CBS affiliate KXAS:

Pham Transported to NIH in Maryland

Dallas nurse Nina Pham, the first person to contract the potentially deadly Ebola virus in the United States, appeared to be in good spirits in a rare, emotional video shot in her Dallas hospital room Thursday, just before she was flown to Maryland en route to the National Institutes of Health.

“Come to Maryland, everybody!” patient Nina Pham told Dr. Gary Weinstein and another health care worker treating her in the video, both of them wearing full protective suits, as the three of them became emotional. “I love you guys,” she said.

Pham, 26, was transported by ambulance Thursday afternoon from Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital to Love Field Airport, where she was able to walk up the stairs into a private jet for the flight to Frederick Municipal Airport in Maryland.

She landed in Maryland just before 10 p.m. CDT for the ambulance ride to the National Institutes of Health.

And then there’s this from the McClatchy Washington Bureau:

Infected nurse’s quarantined dog may inspire Ebola pet protocols

Bentley, the dog owned by Ebola-stricken Texas nurse Nina Pham, is apparently thriving under quarantine – being fed, cared for and played with by Dallas workers in full protective gear.

In the process, the cute King Charles Spaniel has become a media phenomenon, with Twitter followers monitoring his progress through the city of Dallas feed @100Marilla.

His owner, who cared for the first U.S. Ebola victim at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas, was transferred Thursday to the National Institutes of Health in Maryland.

But medical experts still are considering how to treat pets, as public concern about the Ebola virus explodes and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Veterinary Medical Association and the U.S. Department of Agriculture prepare pet protocols.

The latest on the course of the epidemic from the Associated Press:

UN: Ebola death toll rising to 4,500 this week

The death toll from Ebola will rise this week to more than 4,500 people from the 9,000 infected and the outbreak is still out of control in three West African nations, a top official with the U.N. health agency said Thursday.

Dr. Isabelle Nuttall, director of the World Health Organization’s global capacities, alert and response, said new numbers show the outbreak is still hitting health workers hard despite precautions — with 427 medical workers infected and 236 dead — mainly because Ebola victims are most contagious around the time they die.

Nuttall said the focus of the world’s efforts should remain on the countries where the outbreak has been spreading out of control: Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

The Independent covers a parallel development:

Ebola outbreak: Famine approaches to add to West Africa’s torment

Sierra Leone’s fields are without farmers. Its crops go un-reaped. In the quarantine areas, feeding is patchy – some get food, others don’t. People then leave the enforced isolation in search of a meal, so Ebola spreads. In three West African countries where many already live a hand-to-mouth existence, the act of eating is increasingly rare.

Ebola, the virus that has ravaged Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea at an unprecedented rate, continues its devastating spread. The number of dead doubles with each passing month; the bodies unburied. More lives are devastated with each passing day.

And in the absence of a mass-produced vaccine, its treatment – enforced isolation, mass quarantines – now threatens to bring a new crisis: starvation.

Reassurance for some from BBC News:

Ebola crisis: WHO says major outbreak in West ‘unlikely’

Christopher Dye, WHO director of strategy, said the introduction of Ebola into the US or other countries in Western Europe was a matter “for very serious concern”

“The possibility that once an infection has been introduced that it spreads elsewhere, is something that everybody is going to be concerned about,” he said.

But he added: “We’re confident that in North America and Western Europe where health systems are very strong, that we’re unlikely to see a major outbreak in any of those places.”

And the Washington Post covers another side effect:

An epidemic of fear and anxiety hits Americans amid Ebola outbreak

Though Ebola’s dangers are real and terrifying, epidemiologists and other authorities say that, for now, its greatest mark could be on the psyche of the country where other health threats are more perilous.

President Obama late Wednesday sought to quell any risk of panic, telling the American people, “The dangers of your contracting Ebola, the dangers of a serious outbreak, are extraordinarily low.”

[A]ll over the country, Americans expressed deep anxiety about the threat of Ebola. According to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, two-thirds of Americans are worried about an Ebola epidemic in the United States, and more than 4 in 10 are “very” or “somewhat worried” that they or a close family member might catch the virus.

And the perspective of Tom Toles, the Post’s editorial cartoonist:

BLOG Toles

More from Al Jazeera America:

In battling Ebola, fighting panic is as critical as containing virus

  • Allaying fears while urging vigilance is a unique challenge for public health officials

As U.S. public health officials and hospital workers race to help contain the global Ebola epidemic, they are confronting an equally pressing challenge at home: tamping down public hysteria.

Although the virus has wreaked havoc on West Africa, claiming more than 4,400 lives, according to the latest estimates by the World Health Organization, only three cases have been diagnosed in the United States. The disease is not airborne and can be spread only through contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person who is exhibiting symptoms. Still, the news that a second health care worker was infected in Dallas after caring for an Ebola patient and allegations by nurses that the hospital where he was treated had sloppy protocols have added to unease across the United States.

“Ebola is serious. People are understandably afraid of what it means and what the implications are for them,” said Peter Jacobson, a professor of health law and policy at the University of Michigan. “At the same time, we have really excellent public health professionals who are able to communicate the extent of the threat, what we know and what we don’t know.”

Ebolaphobia rampant, via the New York Times:

As Ebola Fears Spread, Ohio and Texas Close Some Schools

An Ebola-infected nurse’s air travel between Dallas and Cleveland has sent ripples of concern through at least two states, leading to school closings and voluntary isolations.

Schools in Texas and Ohio were closed on Thursday after officials learned that students and an adult had either been on the flight with the nurse, Amber Joy Vinson, or had contact with her while she was visiting the Akron area.

Both Ms. Vinson and another nurse who contracted Ebola, Nina Pham, were part of the medical team that treated an Ebola patient, Thomas Eric Duncan, at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas. Ms. Vinson traveled from Cleveland to Dallas the day before she showed symptoms of the disease.

In Akron, Ohio, officials dismissed students at the Resnik Community Learning Center at midday and said it would remain closed until Monday. In a letter to parents, the schools superintendent in Akron, David W. James, said that “a parent at the school had spent time with Ebola patient Amber Vinson when she visited the area this past weekend.”

Another manifestation from the Los Angeles Times:

‘No Ebola here,’ college says after evacuation spurs rumors, fears

The student whose flu-related comments led to a classroom building at Southwestern College in Chula Vista being evacuated Thursday does not have Ebola, a college spokeswoman said.

The student has a sister in the hospital with flu-like symptoms. The sister was not near any Ebola patient or on any airline flight that such a patient may have taken, said college spokeswoman Lillian Leopold.

Concern about a possible Ebola connection spread through rumor and social media faster than officials could confirm whether the student or a family member had been exposed to the deadly virus, Leopold said. Within minutes, local media were reporting a possible Ebola connection.

Southwestern College said in a statement that it had evacuated and cordoned off Building 470 as a precaution. Emergency personnel from the city of Chula Vista were at the scene, but San Diego County public health officials did not send a team.

And from CNN:

How worried is the Pentagon about Ebola? Creating special Ebola boot camp and updating pandemic plans

And then there’s this, via BuzzFeed:

GOP Senator: ISIS Using Ebola Is A “Real And Present Danger”

  • Asked whether the U.S. should be concerned about ISIS militants bringing Ebola into the country, Sen. Ron Johnson said we should do everything possible to prevent such a thing

A Republican senator says he sees the threat of ISIS militants intentionally infecting themselves with the Ebola virus and then traveling to America as a “real and present danger.”

“Well, it’s certainly something I’ve been thinking about ever since this Ebola outbreak started,” Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin said Wednesday of ISIS using Ebola on America’s Forum on NewsmaxTV.

NewsMaxTV cited Al Shimkus, a professor of national security affairs at the U.S. Naval War College, who said last week that that ISIS fighters could infect themselves with the Ebola virus and then travel to U.S. as a form of biological warfare.

From The Hill, Obama concedes an issue to the Republicans:

Obama may appoint Ebola czar

President Obama on Thursday said it “may make sense” to appoint an Ebola czar to oversee the federal government’s response to the deadly virus.

Obama’s remarks represent a significant shift for the White House, which has rejected the czar idea repeatedly.

“It may make sense for us to have one person in part just so that after this initial surge of activity we can have a more regular process to make sure we’re crossing all the t’s and dotting all the i’s,” Obama said after meeting with top health officials in the Oval Office.

“If I appoint somebody, I’ll let you know,” he added.

And the latest American Ebola scare, via China Daily:

Patient with ‘Ebola-like symptoms’ admitted to Connecticut hospital

Yale-New Haven Hospital in Connecticut was evaluating a patient with “Ebola-like symptoms” on Thursday and will likely know within 24 hours whether the person has the deadly disease, a hospital official said.

The patient is one of two Yale University graduate epidemiology students who traveled to Liberia last month to advise the health ministry on using computers to track Ebola, according to Laurence Grotheer, a spokesman for New Haven Mayor Toni Harp.

“Yale-New Haven Hospital admitted a patient late Wednesday night for evaluation of Ebola-like symptoms. We have not confirmed or ruled out any diagnosis at this point,” the hospital said in the statement on its website.

Dr. Thomas Balcezak, the hospital’s chief medical officer, said at a press conference that fever was among the patient’s symptoms and they were placed in isolation. Balcezak said the patient was in stable condition.

On to the politics and logistics from the Los Angeles Times:

‘We made mistakes,’ Dallas hospital chief says of Ebola crisis

Dr. Tom Frieden, head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, on Thursday defended his agency’s handling of the Ebola crisis while conceding the agency may have allowed a Texas nurse to fly on a commercial airline even though she was among a group of healthcare workers involved in treating the first case of Ebola diagnosed in the nation.

The hearing followed partisan lines, with Republicans pushing their agenda for closing the border with a ban on travel from West African countries where the Ebola virus has broken out. Democrats opposed such a ban and called for greater efforts to fight Ebola at the source in Africa. Some Democrats questioned the effect of GOP-backed budget cuts in curbing efforts to fight Ebola at home.

“People are scared,” said Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee. “People’s lives are at stake, and the response so far has been unacceptable.”

More from the Washington Post:

CDC director’s challenge: Deadly Ebola virus and outbreak of criticism

“I am not protecting West Africa,” Tom Frieden, pacing in his office, tells an unhappy U.S. senator on the other end of a call from Washington. “My number one responsibility is to protect Americans from threats.”

Then: “Respectfully, sir, I don’t agree with you.”

A moment later: “I hope to regain your confidence.”

When he hangs up, Frieden doesn’t identify the senator, other than to say he was a Republican who wants an absolute travel ban on people from West Africa because of the Ebola epidemic. Frieden thinks that’s a misguided idea that will backfire, but the senator would not be persuaded.

“It was pingpong ball against iron safe,” he says.

From BBC News, a mixed report from the UN:

Ebola crisis: WHO signals help for Africa to stop spread

The World Health Organization is to “ramp up” efforts to prevent Ebola spreading beyond the three countries most affected by the deadly virus.

Fifteen African countries are being prioritised, top WHO official Isabelle Nuttall told a Geneva news conference.

They will receive more help in areas including prevention and protection.

But former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has said he is “bitterly disappointed” with the international community’s response.

More from the New York Times:

New U.N. Ebola Trust Fund Falls Far Short of Goal

The United Nations trust fund for Ebola has received barely one percent of the $1 billion that the world body says it needs to tackle the outbreak — and that too from only one country, Colombia, United Nations officials said Thursday.

It has received pledges of about $20 million from various governments, but only $100,000 in actual cash deposits.

Ban Ki-moon, the secretary general, had earlier told reporters that the trust fund, announced in mid-September, had received $20 million in cash. His aides later clarified that the $20 million amount referred to pledges, not cash.

From the Guardian, a caution:

Ebola epidemic may not end without developing vaccine, scientist warns

  • Professor Peter Piot, one of the scientists who discovered Ebola, claims scale of outbreak has got ‘completely out of hand’

The Ebola epidemic, which is out of control in three countries and directly threatening 15 others, may not end until the world has a vaccine against the disease, according to one of the scientists who discovered the virus.

Professor Peter Piot, director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said it would not have been difficult to contain the outbreak if those on the ground and the UN had acted promptly earlier this year. “Something that is easy to control got completely out of hand,” said Piot, who was part of a team that identified the causes of the first outbreak of Ebola in Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of Congo, in 1976 and helped bring it to an end.

The scale of the epidemic in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea means that isolation, care and tracing and monitoring contacts, which have worked before, will not halt the spread. “It may be that we have to wait for a vaccine to stop the epidemic,” he said.

A de facto quarantine in Dallas from the Guardian:

Texas healthcare workers at risk of Ebola asked to stay out of public

  • Seventy-five staff members of Dallas hospital asked to sign ‘binding legal order’ that states they will avoid public spaces

Healthcare workers deemed to be at risk of contracting Ebola after dealing with a patient who died from the virus in Texas are being asked to sign voluntary agreements to stay away from the public, after Dallas authorities decided against declaring a state of emergency.

Seventy-five staff members from Texas Health Presbyterian hospital are being given a “binding legal document and order” that states they will avoid public transport, not go to areas where large numbers of people congregate, and continue to be monitored twice a day for symptoms, county judge Clay Jenkins said on Thursday.

Any of those involved in the care of Thomas Eric Duncan who refuse to sign the agreement would be subject to a legal control order, Jenkins told reporters after a meeting of the county commissioners court in downtown Dallas. “All the remedies of the law are available,” he said. However he said he believed this would not be necessary. “These are hometown healthcare heroes,” he said. “They’re not going to jail.”

One complication, via the Associated Press:

US monitors health care worker aboard cruise ship

Obama administration officials say a Dallas health care worker who handled a lab specimen from an Ebola-infected man from Liberia who died of the disease is on a Caribbean cruise ship where she has self-quarantined and is is being monitored for any signs of infection.

The officials say the woman has shown no signs of the disease and has been asymptomatic for 17 days.

The government is working to return the woman and her husband to the U.S. before the ship completes its cruise. The officials say the State Department is working with a country they won’t identify to secure their transportation home.

Labaor relations complicated, via Al Jazeera America:

Dallas hospital refutes nurses’ allegation of haphazard Ebola protocols

  • Nurses’ union said hospital didn’t properly handle patient who died after becoming first Ebola case diagnosed in US

Officials at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas have countered allegations from a nurses’ union that sloppy protocols were used in dealing with Ebola at the facility, where Thomas Eric Duncan — the first person to be diagnosed with Ebola in the United States — died last week. The hospital said Thursday the union’s assertions “do not reflect actual facts.”

The development comes as the U.S. government seeks to ramp up its response to the Ebola crisis after two Dallas nurses also became ill, the second of whom had been cleared to travel on a commercial flight a day before her diagnosis, it has been disclosed.

While Ebola patients are not considered contagious until they have symptoms and only two people are known to have contracted the disease in the U.S., the latest revelations about the handling of the situation have raised alarms about whether hospitals and the public health system are equipped to handle the deadly disease.

Reuters lays blame:

Experts fault changing U.S. guidelines on Ebola protective gear

When Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), visited Ebola-stricken sites in West Africa last August, he was dressed in a full protective bodysuit and ventilator.

That level of protection was far greater than the basic gear the CDC initially recommended for U.S. hospital workers, which at minimum included a gown, a single pair of gloves, a mask and face shield.

After a second nurse at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas fell ill with Ebola after caring for a dying Liberian patient, the CDC this week beefed up its recommendations for personal protective equipment to include hooded full-body suits that cover the neck, more frequent hand washing and a supervisor who oversees the removal of infected gear, steps experts said should have been done long ago.

From the Guardian, the clamor intensifies:

Ebola crisis: Republicans ramp up calls for west Africa travel bans

  • FAA assessing question ‘on a day-to-day’ basis
  • White House says measure would be counter-productive

Republicans are stepping up pressure for travel bans on passengers arriving from Ebola-stricken countries in west Africa, calling for a vote on quarantine measures in the House of Representatives as the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) acknowledged it was assessing the question “on a day-to-day” basis.

The White House and senior US health officials continue to insist such measures would be counter-productive because they would hamper efforts to control the Ebola epidemic at its source, but the growing clamour from critics in Congress means the issue is becoming a major political battleground in Washington.

During the first hearing into the administration’s handling of the crisis in Washington on Thursday, a succession of Republican congressmen joined the House speaker, John Boehner, in calling on the administration to urgently review its opposition to tighter travel restrictions.

The inevitable, via BuzzFeed:

Boehner Won’t Say If Texas Should Have An Ebola Travel Ban, Too

The nation’s top elected Republican said Wednesday that travel should be halted from West African nations suffering from the Ebola outbreak.

House Speaker John Boehner Wednesday called for a “temporary” ban on flights from countries with Ebola outbreaks, but stopped short of calling for a travel ban for Texas, despite the fact that an Ebola-infected nurse flew to his home state of Ohio from Dallas earlier this month.

In a statement released by his office Wednesday evening, Boehner joined a growing chorus of Republicans insisting the Obama administration impose a travel ban on West African countries suffering from the Ebola conference.

Boehner invoked the Texas Ebola patient in calling for a ban on other parts of the world, saying, “Today we learned that one individual who has contracted the virus flew to Ohio through the Cleveland airport in the last few days. A temporary ban on travel to the United States from countries afflicted with the virus is something that the president should absolutely consider.”

Asked if Boehner also believes flights from Texas to other parts of the country should be halted, Boehner spokesman Kevin Smith said by email Boehner “said [Obama] should consider a temporary ban on travel to the United States from countries afflicted with the virus along with any other appropriate actions. That’s where we are right now. Don’t have anything more.”

Meanwhile other countries are jumping on the travel banswagon. From the Associated Press:

Jamaica, Guyana, Trinidad impose Ebola travel bans

Jamaica, Guyana and Trinidad & Tobago on Thursday became the latest countries in the Western Hemisphere to restrict travelers from West African nations struggling with an epidemic of the Ebola virus.

The announcements came a day after Colombia and St. Lucia ordered similar prohibitions.

Authorities in Jamaica imposed an immediate entry ban on anyone who has been in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone within four weeks.

The ban was announced shortly after a U.S. couple was quarantined at Sangster International Airport in the northern tourist town of Montego Bay. Airport screeners found one of the Americans had been in Liberia two weeks ago. Officials said the couple was kept in quarantine, found to be healthy, and then sent back to an unspecified city in the U.S.

Guyana’s government said that country’s diplomatic missions had been directed not to issue visas to people from West African nations affected by the virus.

Trinidad & Tobago said it would deny entry any resident of Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo or Sierra Leone. Other travelers who have visited any of those nations within six weeks will be quarantined for 21 days upon their arrival.

From Al Jazeera America, heightening intensity:

Obama authorizes National Guard call-up amid criticism over Ebola response

  • President signs executive order permitting Pentagon to use reservists, but resists calls for West Africa travel ban

President Barack Obama has authorized the Pentagon to call up reserve and National Guard troops if they are needed to assist in the U.S. response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

The United States has already committed to sending up to 4,000 military personnel to Ebola-stricken countries to provide logistics and help build treatment units to confront the rapidly spreading and deadly virus.

But amid rising criticism over the handling of the patients in the U.S., the White House resisted calls from Republican lawmakers that a travel ban be imposed on those wishing to fly to America from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea — the countries that have been worst hit by the outbreak.

And some exceptional praise from BBC News:

Ebola crisis: US says Cuban medical support ‘welcome’

Cuba is a “welcome” addition to the fight against Ebola, a senior US official has said.

A state department spokesman said the Cuban government was doing more than many others to contain the disease. “We welcome their support,” she said. The US has maintained an embargo on Cuba for more than five decades.

Last month, Havana announced it would send about 450 medical and support staff to the region. The BBC’s Will Grant in Havana said that Cuba already had a tradition of sending its doctors and nurses to Africa before the recent Ebola outbreak.

Cuban officials are hosting a regional summit on the virus next week involving left-wing Latin American governments. Health ministers from Venezuela, Nicaragua, Bolivia and Ecuador are expected to attend to discuss how to bolster the region’s response to the Ebola crisis.

On to Canada with CBC News:

Ebola outbreak: Harper tells Obama more help on the way

  • Republican lawmaker questions whether U.S.-Canada border needs to be better secured

Canada is about to announce new measures in the fight against Ebola, Prime Minister Stephen Harper told U.S. President Barack Obama Thursday amid increased fear over the spreading virus.

The prime minister made the promise in a phone chat with Obama, according to a summary of the call released by Harper’s office.

CBC News learned Wednesday that Canada was contributing an additional $30 million to the fight against Ebola. The new measures will add to Canada’s current contribution of $5 million, as the United Nations pleads for more international help and warns that the virus must be contained within 60 days.

The growing sense of panic was also reflected in a congressional hearing Thursday in Washington.

One lawmaker even briefly questioned whether the northern border might need to be better secured. That improbable reference to the 49th parallel came from a Tennessee Republican, who during a House hearing asked whether America’s land borders were safe from the deadly virus.

After the jump, Canadian alarms, intensified screenings in Europe, good news for Europe’s first endogenous Ebola patient but joined by four new suspect patients, a Danish false alarm and increased aid, still more aid from Germany and Sweden, Latin leaders huddle for preparations plans while Asian and Euopean leader do the same, China and Japan assess strengths and weaknesses and Australia wages an internal political battle, on to Africa and a warning from the African Union, an Ebolaphobia-driven soccer tournament cancellation, from Sierra Leone, a harsh warning for the nation’s capital and a doctor’s despairing prognosis as the nation’s last Ebola-free district falls victim and the biggest corporate benefactor of the Ebola fight goes bankrupt, thence to Liberia where there’s a shortage of body bags, survivors find themselves isolated, healthcare workers go unpaid, children teach each other, a projected civil service purge draws fire, and questionable ‘cures’ flourish, plus economic despir in Zimbabwe and the Gambia. . . Continue reading

Joel Pett: Now that’s really creative


From the editorial cartoonist of the Lexington Herald-Leader:

BLOG Creative

EbolaWatch: Crisis, Pols, Scares, & Africa


And please do read the African coverage after the jump, featuring stories from newspapers in the Hot Zone. . .

First up, from BuzzFeed, alarms shrieking:

WHO Says Ebola Is The Worst Modern Health Emergency

The World Health Organization calls Ebola “unquestionably the most severe acute public health emergency in modern times” and says “the world is ill-prepared to respond to any severe, sustained, and threatening public health emergency.”

In a statement emailed to reporters on Monday, the World Health Organization (WHO) deemed Ebola “unquestionably the most severe acute public health emergency in modern times,” saying that most countries where Ebola has spread have failed “to put basic public health infrastructures in place.”

Encouraging people and health officials to get informed about how to prevent Ebola, WHO Director-General Margaret Chan explained that 90% of economic losses during the outbreak of any disease comes from “the uncoordinated and irrational efforts of the public to avoid infection.”

“We are seeing, right now, how this virus can disrupt economies and societies around the world,” she said.

More from the New York Times:

W.H.O. Chief Calls Ebola Outbreak a ‘Crisis for International Peace’

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa is “unquestionably the most severe acute public health emergency in modern times,” Dr. Margaret Chan, the director general of the World Health Organization, said Monday.

Dr. Chan, who dealt with the 2009 avian flu pandemic and the SARS outbreaks of 2002-3, said the Ebola outbreak had progressed from a public health crisis to “a crisis for international peace and security.”

“I have never seen a health event threaten the very survival of societies and governments in already very poor countries,” she said in a statement delivered on her behalf to a conference in Manila and released by her office in Geneva. “I have never seen an infectious disease contribute so strongly to potential state failure.”

More from BBC News:

Ebola epidemic ‘could lead to failed states’, warns WHO

The Ebola epidemic threatens the “very survival” of societies and could lead to failed states, the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned.

The outbreak, which has killed some 4,000 people in West Africa, has led to a “crisis for international peace and security”, WHO head Margaret Chan said.

She also warned of the cost of panic “spreading faster than the virus”.

The Nation goes for context:

How the World Let the Ebola Epidemic Spiral Out of Control

  • A swift international response could have contained the outbreak

Despite its frightening virulence, Ebola can be contained through robust public health efforts. It thrives in chaotic and impoverished environments where public health systems are frayed and international assistance weak. Though experts will debate the roots of this current crisis for years, one point on which many agree is that local poverty and global indifference played starring roles. “This isn’t a natural disaster,” international health crusader Paul Farmer told The Washington Post. “This is the terrorism of poverty.”

Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea are among the poorest countries on the planet, with health systems that have been shattered by years of neglect and conflict. As many as 90 percent of Liberia’s healthcare workers fled the country during its long civil war, and some 80 percent of its health facilities were closed. By the time the Ebola outbreak was declared an international emergency, Liberia had less than 250 doctors. Scientists could not have devised a more nurturing environment for a deadly virus if they had designed it in a laboratory.

But if local conditions created the opening for the epidemic, it was global inaction that helped it to flourish. For months, organizations like Doctors Without Borders begged the World Health Organization to begin marshaling resources to fight the crisis. But after years of budget cuts and the gutting of its epidemic-response unit, WHO failed to act with anything approaching the necessary speed and competence. Nor was it alone: governments around the world have stalled, unwilling to recognize this outbreak as the global humanitarian crisis it is. Even now, far too few have stepped up to provide the medical resources and technical expertise that are so desperately needed.

And the perspective on the handling of the outbreak from a German specialist on tropical diseases from Deutsche Welle:

The Global Fight against Ebola

Program notes:

Dr. Peter Tinnemann, head of the global health sciences unit at the Institute for Social Medicine, Epidemiology and Health Economics at the Charité University Medical Center in Berlin, offers insights into the global fight against Ebola and explains what the World Health Summit can do to help solve global health problems.

The New York Times raises questions:

New Questions of Risk and Vigilance After Dallas Nurse Contracts Ebola

Dr. Joseph McCormick, regional dean of the University of Texas School of Public Health in Brownsville, said he was shocked that none of those monitored by officials were hospital workers caring for Mr. Duncan after he was put in isolation. Dr. McCormick worked for the C.D.C. in 1976, when he helped investigate the first epidemic of Ebola in central Africa.

“You know that once this guy is really ill and he’s hospitalized, there’s going to be a lot of contact, manipulation of blood specimens, cleaning up if he’s vomiting or if he’s got diarrhea,” Dr. McCormick said. “You certainly can’t assume that because he’s hospitalized and in this unit that everything is fine and everything that goes on will be without any risk. I mean that’s just ludicrous to think that.”

State and federal health officials seemed to be, in a sense, starting over, two weeks after Mr. Duncan’s diagnosis of Ebola on Sept. 30. They spoke of stepping up precautions and of conducting a new investigation, in order to evaluate and learn more about a group of health-care workers they had initially failed to regard as potentially at risk.

“So in light of this case, we’re looking at the ongoing monitoring of all health care workers and looking at going forward having an epidemiologist see them and more active surveillance for these individuals,” Dr. David L. Lakey, the commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services, told reporters Sunday.

The Washington Post assesses:

U.S. hospitals not prepared for Ebola threat

With reports that a nurse who treated Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan in Dallas has been infected, one thing urgently needs to be made clear: Our hospitals are not prepared to confront the deadly virus.

It is long past time to stop relying on a business-as-usual approach to a virus that has killed thousands in West Africa and has such a frighteningly high mortality rate. There is no margin for error. That means there can be no standard short of optimal in the protective equipment, such as hazmat suits, given to nurses and other personnel who are the first to engage patients with Ebola-like symptoms. All nurses must have access to the same state-of-the-art equipment used by Emory University Hospital personnel when they transported Ebola patients from Africa, but too many hospitals are trying to get by on the cheap.

In addition, hospitals and other front-line providers should immediately conduct hands-on training and drills so that personnel can practice, in teams, such vital safety procedures as the proper way to put on and remove protective equipment. Hospitals must also maintain properly equipped isolation rooms to ensure the safety of patients, visitors and staff and harden their procedures for disposal of medical waste and linens.

The Associated Press sets the healthcare frame:

CDC urges all US hospitals to ‘think Ebola’

The government is telling the nation’s hospitals to “think Ebola.”

Every hospital must know how to diagnose Ebola in people who have been in West Africa and be ready to isolate a suspected case, Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Monday.

He said the CDC is working to improve protections for hospital workers after a nurse caring for an Ebola patient in Dallas became the first person to become infected with the disease inside the U.S.

“We have to rethink the way we address Ebola infection control,” Frieden said, “because even a single infection is unacceptable.”

Fears from the Los Angeles Times:

Louisiana A.G. opposes burial of burned items linked to Ebola victim

Burned items associated with a Liberian man who died from Ebola in a Dallas hospital last week could be barred from a Louisiana landfill if the state’s attorney general gets his way.

Atty. Gen. Buddy Caldwell said he plans to ask for a temporary restraining order to keep the incinerated items out of Louisiana. The request could be filed as early as Monday, said a spokesman for Caldwell.

In a statement late Sunday, Caldwell cited reports that “six truckloads” of items from the Texas apartment where Thomas Eric Duncan was staying are set to be dumped at a Louisiana landfill after being burned at a Veolia Environmental Services plant in Port Arthur, Texas. Duncan fell ill with Ebola in Texas and died Wednesday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said that incinerated Ebola-associated waste is no longer infectious.

More of the same from the Associated Press:

Company won’t take ash from Ebola victim apartment

A Louisiana waste disposal facility says it will not accept the ashes generated when a Texas Ebola victim’s belongings were incinerated, at least not until state officials agree that it would pose no threat to the public.

Chemical Waste Management Inc.-Lake Charles said in news release Monday that it is permitted to accept such material and that it poses no threat to the environment or human health.

But, the company says, “we do not want to make an already complicated situation, more complicated.”

The Hill covers troops dispatched:

‘Surge’ of Ebola personnel sent to Dallas

A “surge” of personnel and other resources has been sent to Dallas to help discover how a nurse was infected with Ebola, top health officials told President Obama during an Oval Office meeting on Monday.

The president stressed that the investigation into the second U.S. infection “should proceed as expeditiously as possible and that lessons learned should be integrated into future response plans and disseminated to hospitals and healthcare workers nationwide.” He said officials should move “as expeditiously as possible,” according to the White House.

Obama was briefed on the Ebola case by Sylvia Mathews Burwell, the secretary of the Health and Human Services Department; Susan Rice, Obama’s national security adviser, and Lisa Monaco, the assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism. Tom Frieden, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, participated via telephone.

From The Hill, but of course:

GOP amplifies calls for Ebola czar

At least six lawmakers, including one Democrat, are now calling for a single Ebola authority to oversee the government’s efforts at home and abroad. The U.S. plan to combat Ebola costs at least $1 billion and crosses multiple layers of government, from the Department of Defense to airport security staff to local health departments.

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, who has worked closely with federal officials on the city’s Ebola cases, told reporters last week that the response had been “at best, disorganized.”

The White House maintains that it has a clear chain of command about how to confront Ebola, and it starts with Obama’s top homeland security adviser, Lisa Monaco. But Republicans believe the lack of a prominent point person who can focus solely on Ebola has slowed the nation’s response to the epidemic.

Salon lays some blame:

The right’s scary Ebola lesson: How anti-government mania is harming America

  • It’s time to admit the truth: People who cut health funding and don’t like government have not helped this crisis

If not for serial budget cuts to the National Institutes of Health, we would probably have an Ebola vaccine and we would certainly have better treatment, NIH director Dr. Francis Collins tells the Huffington Post’s Sam Stein. This comes on the heels of reporting that the Centers for Disease Control’s prevention budget has been cut by half since 2006, and new revelations about how botched protocols at the Dallas hospital that turned away Thomas Eric Duncan and then failed to treat him effectively also led to the infection of one of Duncan’s caregivers.

Yet most of the media coverage of the politics of Ebola to date has centered on whether President Obama has adequately and/or honestly dealt with the disease. “I remain concerned that we don’t see sufficient seriousness on the part of the federal government about protecting the American public,” Texas Sen. Ted Cruz told reporters. Cruz is probably the wrong guy to talk about seriousness: his government shutdown forced the NIH to delay clinical trials and made the CDC cut back on disease outbreak detection programs this time last year.

I find myself wondering: When, if ever, will the political debate over Ebola center on the way the right-wing libertarian approach to government has made us less safe?

A Dallas patient update from Sky News:

Ebola Infected Dallas Nurse Nina Pham ‘Stable’

  • Barack Obama urges health officials to quickly investigate how Dallas nurse Nina Pham became infected despite precautions

An American nurse who contracted ebola while treating a dying patient is in “clinically stable” condition, US health officials have said.

The healthcare worker, identified as 26-year-old Nina Pham, has been in isolation at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas since Friday.

Ms Pham was one of several caregivers who treated Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian national who succumbed to ebola on 8 October.

The White House said that the president wants an update on steps under way to ensure the national health system is prepared to deal with the disease, which has killed more than 4,000 people in West Africa.

A video report from Reuters:

CDC: Infected nurse “clinically stable,” others possibly at risk

Program note:

Dr. Thomas Frieden says CDC doesn’t know how nurse became infected with Ebola, and says staff are assessing care protocols, and materials used for protective suits and equipment.

Reconsideration from the New York Times:

C.D.C. Reviewing Procedures After New Case of Ebola in Dallas

Health authorities have expanded the number of health care workers who were part of a group that may have had contact with Mr. Duncan to at least 50 people, which doubles the number of those being monitored to more than 100.

The action comes as questions were being raised about why the hospital workers who had been caring for Mr. Duncan from Sept. 28 until his death last Wednesday had not been on the initial list.

Officials had previously never made it clear that the 48 people being evaluated did not include those treating him after his admission to the hospital.

On Monday, health authorities said they were conducting interviews with employees at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital to try to determine who might have come into contact with Mr. Duncan and were monitoring their health to ensure that they had not contracted the virus.

Unlike Spain, where the dog of a nurse who contracted from a patient was put down, via Reuters:

Dog of Ebola-infected Dallas nurse to be cared for, officials say

The dog of the Dallas nurse who contracted Ebola when treating a patient infected with the virus is still in the woman’s apartment and will be kept safe while its owner is in isolation at a local hospital, officials said on Monday.

The 1-year-old King Charles Spaniel will be moved to an undisclosed location where its health can be checked, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins’ office said in a statement.

“We are working to remove the dog from the apartment this afternoon,” the office said. Jenkins, the chief executive for Dallas County, is working to share photos of the patient’s dog with her family, it added.

American network talking head goes AWOL, gets whole crew confined, via News Corp Australia:

NBC News crew under quarantine after correspondent Dr Nancy Snyderman snuck out for soup

AN NBC News crew was ordered under mandatory quarantine for possible Ebola infection after the network’s chief medical correspondent was allegedly spotted on a food run to a New Jersey restaurant, according to a report.

Dr. Nancy Snyderman and her crew had agreed to a voluntary quarantine when they returned to the United States from West Africa last week following their exposure to a cameraman who contracted the deadly virus, The New York Post reports.

But Snyderman, who lives in Princeton, New Jersey, was spotted outside the Peasant Grill in nearby Hopewell on Thursday afternoon, according to Planet Princeton.

A screening update from The Hill:

CDC: 91 passengers at JFK airport flagged for Ebola screenings

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Tom Frieden said Monday that 91 passengers had been flagged for additional Ebola screening at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport.

“Ninety-one such individuals were identified, none of them had fever,” Frieden said during a press briefing. “Five of them were referred for additional evaluation for CDC. None were deemed to have exposure to Ebola.”

Kennedy airport is one of five in the U.S. where passengers arriving from West African countries battling the deadly disease receive extra checks for symptoms. The Obama administration has also implemented the additional screenings at Newark Liberty, Washington Dulles, O’Hare in Chicago and Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

From RT, vaccine hopes:

70-90% efficiency: Russia to send Ebola vaccine to W. Africa in 2 months

In two months, Russia is planning to send a new experimental vaccine against Ebola to Africa, according to the country’s health minister. The efficiency of the drug, which is to be tested on the ground, is about 70-90 percent.

“Today we are discussing that we will have enough of Triazoverin vaccine in two months so that we can send them to our personnel in Guinea and test its efficiency in clinical conditions,” Health Minister Veronika Skvortsova said.

The vaccine has so far proved efficient against various hemorrhagic fevers, including the Marburg virus which is very similar to Ebola. “The efficiency ranges between 70 and 90 percent and this is a very good indicator,” Skvortsova said.

Russia’ Virology Institute is preparing a whole group of drugs.”They are basically genetically engineered drugs which can work both for disease treatment and prevention,” Skvortsova said.

Another vaccine, via the Guardian:

Canadian-made Ebola vaccine begins human trials in US

  • Experimental vaccine has shown to be ‘100% effective’ in preventing spread of Ebola when tested on animals

An experimental Canadian-made Ebola vaccine that has shown promise in tests on primates is beginning clinical trials on humans in the US.

The vaccine will be tested on healthy individuals Monday to see how well it works, whether there are side effects and what the proper dosage is, Health Minister Rona Ambrose said.

“The Canadian vaccine provides great hope and promise because it has shown to be 100% effective in preventing the spread of the Ebola virus when tested on animals,” she said.

From the Guardian again, a defense:

Spain defends Ebola repatriations

  • We did what we had to do, says foreign minister, despite nurse becoming first person to contract virus outside of west Africa

Spain’s foreign affairs minister has defended the government’s decision to repatriate two Spanish nationals with Ebola, despite a nurse who treated them becoming the first person to contract the virus outside of west Africa.

“The government did what it had to do,” José Manuel García-Margallo told El País newspaper. “The duty of a state is to protect its citizens – and even more so when they are in difficult circumstances far from Spain. All the developed countries who have had this problem have done the same.”

The two missionaries, Miguel Pajares, 75, and Manuel García Viejo, 69, died in August and September, days after being evacuated to Madrid for treatment. Spanish nurse Teresa Romero Ramos tested positive for the Ebola virus shortly after. She remains in a stable but serious condition.

An Aussie nurse returns to Africa after a false alarm, via the Guardian:

Cairns nurse in Ebola scare urges volunteers to fight virus in West Africa

  • Sue Ellen Kovack says medical professionals thinking of travelling to West Africa to help in public health crisis should not be deterred

The nurse at the centre of the Australian Ebola scare has urged other health professionals to travel to West Africa to help fight the virus.

Sue Ellen Kovack, 57, was released from Cairns hospital on Monday after returning a second negative result for the virus. Kovack returned from treating Ebola patients in Sierra Leone last Tuesday and was taken to hospital on Thursday after developing a low-grade fever, sparking fears she could have brought the virus to Australia.

In her first public statement since being admitted to hospital Kovack urged Australians to donate to the Red Cross to send more help to West Africa.

“It has been so inspiring and it has really kept me going in the past few days to know there’s growing public support for action to help people affected by Ebola in West Africa,” she said.

The British numbers, via the Independent:

Jeremy Hunt: UK Ebola victims won’t exceed ‘a handful’

The Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt defended Britain’s response to the Ebola crisis which was described by the head of the World Health Organisation (WHO) as the biggest danger posed by a disease in modern times.

Unveiling new measures designed to halt the spread of the deadly virus from arriving in the UK and to identify those in the early stages of infection, Mr Hunt told MPs that he did not expect the number of victims to exceed a “handful of cases” – fewer than 10.

He was challenged by Labour to describe the “worst-case scenario” and sought to reassure the public that the risk posed by the disease was low. However he said it was possible that the number of infections could rise and the situation was likely to get worse before it improves.

Screens up, via BBC News:

Heathrow Ebola screening from Tuesday

Ebola screening will begin at London’s Heathrow Airport on Tuesday, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt says.

Passengers from at-risk countries will have their temperature taken, complete a risk questionnaire and have contact details recorded.

Mr Hunt said screening at Gatwick and Eurostar terminals would start in the coming week.

The Chief Medical Officer says the risk to the UK is low, but expects a “handful” of cases.

Aerial Ebolaphobia, via the Guardian:

Ebola: UK cancels resumption of direct flights to Sierra Leone

  • Department of Transport cites deteriorating public health for revoking Gambia Bird’s licence to fly to Ebola-hit country

The first direct flights to resume from the UK to Sierra Leone have been cancelled after the British government revoked Gambia Bird’s recently granted permit because of fears over Ebola.

The Department of Transport cited the deteriorating public health situation for the revocation when it notified the German-owned airline on Friday evening.

The airline said it would appeal against the decision, especially as its licence was only granted on 26 September.

Spanish reassurance from El País:

Ebola outbreak is under control, says government spokesman

  • Scientific committee confirms that only nursing assistant can now transmit virus in Spain

“The patient is still in a very serious condition.” That was the latest news from the authorities on the health of Teresa Romero, the Spanish nursing assistant who was diagnosed with Ebola last week and has been receiving treatment in Carlos III Hospital in Madrid ever since.

The person delivering the message was Fernando Rodríguez Artalejo, a member of the scientific committee put in place by the government late last week, during a press conference at midday on Monday at La Moncloa prime ministerial palace.

Rodríguez went on to confirm that none of the people with whom Romero had come into contact, and who have been voluntarily put into isolation at Carlos III for monitoring, are showing any symptoms of the virus.

“Right now there is no other person in Spain who is capable of transmitting the virus other than the patient,” he said in reference to Romero, who contracted Ebola while caring for a Spanish missionary who had been repatriated from west Africa after becoming infected. “We are in a situation of total calm,” Rodríguez added.

TheLocal.es gives the date:

‘Spain Ebola-free in two weeks if no new cases’

Spain will be free from the threat of further contagion from Ebola on October 27th if all those who had close contact with an infected nurse remain without symptoms by then, a hospital director said on Monday.

Concerns that Ebola could spread in Spain have been high since the nurse, Teresa Romero, on October 6th became the first person diagnosed as having caught the deadly haemorrhagic fever outside of Africa.

A Czech Ebola alarm from RT:

Suspected Ebola carrier wrapped in plastic after Czech police seal off rail station

Czech police and hazmat suit-wearing doctors have seized a traveler from Ghana at Prague’s main railway station. The man, suspected of suffering from the Ebola virus, was wrapped in black plastic by the authorities and taken away.

The police dispatched some 15 officers from the capital’s rapid response squad to cordon off the station’s lobby, iDNES.cz news website reported. The operation didn’t interrupt the normal operation of the railway station, but probably scared passengers who were in the vicinity.

Footage from the scene showed a man wearing biohazard suit pushing a luggage cart with a person sitting on it almost completely covered by black plastic.

The target of the police operation was a student from Ghana, who arrived in Prague earlier Saturday evening. He managed to get through medical screening at the airport and was caught later at the railway station.

Here’s the raw footage, via Media News:

After the jump, on to Africa with a bankster’s alarm and a regional economic alert, on to Sierra Leone and football affected, Liberia next, with journalistic accusations, a strike averted — or was it?, an account from one facility, a protest over dismissals, clinic expansions, a new outbreak reported, an innovative clinic covered, justices pledge salaries to the Ebola fight, And a warning against healthcare worker abuse, then on to Nigeria and anti-Ebola measures in schools, and an Ebola drugs medical trial, plus high praise in Gambia. . . 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

Protests: They’re not just for Hong Kong


While the world’s media have been focused on the Occupy Central protests in Hong Kong, they’re not the only demonstrations happening around the world today, first as witnessed in two clips from RT.

First up, protests in Rome again the European Central Bank, a financial engine of the austerity machine now gobbling up the last of the commons across South Europe:

Police clash with anti-ECB protesters in Italy

Program notes:

Thousands of protesters marched against austerity policies as the European Central Bank held a meeting at the Palace of Capodimonte in Naples, Thursday. Police deployed tear gas and water cannon against a group of protesters who attempted to climb the wall and enter the palace complex.

Next, from Argentina, a protest by indigenous people long troubled by land grabs and illegal forest-clearing mobilized to action by a death:

RAW: Cops clash with indigenous Mapuche in Chile

Program notes:

Chilean national police officers clashed with protesters from the indigenous Mapuche community, who gathered outside of the presidential palace in the capital, Santiago, on Wednesday. Mapuche demonstrated to bring attention to the death of a fellow Mapuche who was reportedly run over by a tractor trailer after entering a private plot of land in the Araucania region.

And in Paraguay, thousands of teachers and students have hit the streets to protest cuts in the national education budget.

From TeleSUR English:

Paraguay: Teachers protest budget cuts in public education

Program notes:

Teachers from all over Paraguay took to the streets in the capital city of Asuncion, in defense of public education in the country.

Finally, from Iran’s Press TV, a look at seniors in Paris who have hit the streets to protest cuts in social security benefits by the austerian “socialist” [sic] government of François Hollande:

Protesters in France held a rally against the economic policies of government

Program notes:

Protesters in France have held a rally against the economic policies of the government. The protest came after Paris cut social security payments for nearly half a million citizens. Ramin Mazaheri reports.