We begin with the latest Ebola news, first from the Jakarta Globe:
Last Ebola-Free Region of Liberia Falls to Virus
Every region of Liberia has now been hit by Ebola, officials said Friday, as the World Health Organization warned the fight against the worst-ever outbreak of the killer disease would take months.
After seeing people fall to the deadly virus in area after area, Liberia said two people had succumbed to the virus in Sinoe province, the last Ebola-free bastion in a country that has seen the biggest toll with 624 deaths.
The virus has spread relentlessly through Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, and Nigeria has also been affected despite showing some progress in fighting the epidemic, which has killed 1,427 people since March.
From the Guardian, a British patient:
Ebola outbreak: British national living in Sierra Leone tests positive for virus
- Overall risk to UK public ‘very low’ says chief medical officer as west African nations impose stringent new measures
A British national living in Sierra Leone has tested positive for the Ebola virus – the first Briton confirmed to have contracted the disease.
The Department of Health said medical experts were assessing the situation “to ensure that appropriate care is delivered”. Consular assistance is being provided.
Professor John Watson, deputy chief medical officer, said: “The overall risk to the public in the UK continues to be very low. Medical experts are currently assessing the situation in Sierra Leone to ensure that appropriate care is provided.
The Associated Press covers a crackdown:
Sierra Leone makes hiding Ebola patients illegal
Sierra Leone voted to pass a new amendment to its health act, imposing possible jail time for anyone caught hiding an Ebola patient, a practice the World Health Organization believes has contributed to a major underestimation of the current outbreak.
The new law, an update to the country’s 1960 Public Health Act, was passed on Friday and imposes prison terms of up to two years for violators, said lawmaker Ansumana Jaiah Kaikai.
The measure was necessary to compel residents to cooperate with government officials, Kaikai said, noting that some residents had resisted steps to combat Ebola including the construction of isolation centers in their communities.
CBC News covers another crackdown:
Ebola outbreak: Ivory Coast closes western borders
- Filipino peacekeepers leave Liberia due to outbreak
Ivory Coast has closed its land borders with Ebola-affected West African neighbours Guinea and Liberia in an attempt to prevent the world’s deadliest outbreak of the virus from spreading onto its territory, the government announced.
A number of African nations have defied advice from the World Health Organization (WHO) and put in place restrictions on travel to and from the countries where Ebola has appeared, which also include Sierra Leone and Nigeria.
More on the Philippine pullout from Deutsche Welle:
Philippines withdraw UN troops over Ebola concerns
The Philippines will repatriate over 100 UN troops serving in Liberia “as soon as possible.” The decision comes after Liberia confirmed all regions have now been hit by the Ebola virus.
The Philippines defense department confirmed on Saturday that it will pull out more than 100 troops from a UN peace-keeping mission Liberia amid concerns over the Ebola virus. It will also bring home over 300 Filipino UN troops from the Golan Heights amid deteriorating security in the region.
In a statement, the department said the 115-member contingent in Liberia will be “repatriated as soon as possible” due to the increasing health risk from the outbreak of the Ebola virus in West Africa.
“The Philippines prioritizes the safety and security of its troops, but remains committed to the peacekeeping missions of the United Nations,” the statement added.
South China Morning Post covers a return:
Hong Kong Red Cross volunteers return from Ebola-stricken Liberia, free of disease
Two local volunteers who worked to fight Ebola in Liberia arrived back in Hong Kong yesterday disease-free, as lawmakers gathered to discuss measures to prevent the deadly virus from entering the city.
Clinical psychologist Eliza Cheung Yee-lai and Dr May Yeung Pui-shan, both from Hong Kong Red Cross, showed no symptoms when they were stopped by health officers at the airport for preliminary assessments. They were allowed to leave without being quarantined.
“Eliza and I have finished our mission. Our health is good, and we are in good spirits,” said Yeung, a public health expert.
The Guardian names a culprit:
Ebola: research team says migrating fruit bats responsible for outbreak
- A toddler’s chance encounter with one infected bat in Guinea led to west Africa’s present epidemic
The largest-ever outbreak of Ebola was triggered by a toddler’s chance contact with a single infected bat, a team of international researchers will reveal, after a major investigation of the origins of the deadly disease now ravaging Guinea, Liberia, Ivory Coast and Nigeria.
A group of 17 European and African tropical disease researchers, ecologists and anthropologists spent three weeks talking to people and capturing bats and other animals near the village of Meliandoua in remote eastern Guinea, where the present epidemic appeared in December 2013. They have concluded that the disease was spread by colonies of migratory fruit bats. Their research is expected to be published in a major journal in the next few weeks.
Early studies suggested that a new strain of Ebola had emerged in west Africa but, according to epidemiologist Fabian Leendertz, a disease ecologist at the Robert Koch Institute in Berlin, who led the large team of scientists to Guinea, it is likely the virus in Guinea is closely related to the one known as Zaire ebolavirus, identified more than 10 years ago in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Leendertz said the virus had probably arrived in west Africa via an infected straw-coloured fruit bat. These bats migrate across long distances and are commonly found in giant colonies near cities and in forests.
A coming visit via the Associated Press:
CDC director to visit Ebola outbreak countries
A top U.S. health official plans to travel to West Africa to see firsthand how the Ebola outbreak is unfolding.
Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is scheduled to visit Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea next week.
A CDC spokesman Friday said Frieden wants to meet the African and international health leaders trying to control the outbreak, and to hear what help they need. He also plans to visit hospitals treating Ebola patients.
And from Global Times, preparations:
China raises precaution against Ebola
China’s health authorities have stepped up control measures against Ebola in the past week, in wake of continuous epidemic in West Africa.
The National Health and Family Planning Commission distributed a protocol for diagnosis, treatment and fast response of Ebola cases to 31 provincial health departments on Thursday.
The document elaborates the symptoms of the disease and instructs medical workers how to put possible cases under medical observation, to handle suspected cases, to treat confirmed cases and under what circumstances to release a person under observation.
From CBC News, another environmental alert:
Iceland volcano: Bardarbunga eruption begins
- Volcanic ash could affect air traffic
Iceland’s Bardarbunga volcano began erupting Saturday under the country’s largest glacier after a week of seismic activity rattled the area with thousands of earthquakes, the country’s Meteorological Office said.
The eruption prompted Iceland to raise its aviation alert level to red — the highest level on a five-point scale — indicating the threat of “significant emission of ash into the atmosphere.”
Seismic data indicates that magma from the volcano is melting ice beneath the Dyngjujokull icecap on the Vatnajokull glacier, Met Office vulcanologist Melissa Pfeffer said.
MintPress News covers another one:
Environmentalists Rally Against New Herbicide For GE Crops
Citing the inevitability of “superweeds” and calling the product a “life preserver” for fatally flawed technology, environmentalists urge the EPA not to register a new Dow AgroSciences herbicide for GE corn and soybeans
Environmentalists warn that an herbicide designed to work with new varieties of genetically engineered (GE) corn and soybeans should not be registered by the Environmental Protection Agency because, like other widely-used herbicides for GE crops, it will gradually promote the emergence of “superweeds” resistant to the new herbicide.
The herbicide at issue is Dow AgroSciences’ Enlist Duo, whose active ingredients are two “old” chemicals: glyphosate (best known by the trade name “Roundup”) and 2,4-D. The herbicide would be applied in fields planted with Enlist Corn and Enlist Soybeans – which Dow has engineered to tolerate the product.
The first commercial applications of 2,4-D date back to the mid-1940s, but the chemical gained notoriety due to its use in a Vietnam War-era defoliant: Agent Orange. Although 2,4-D was not the only herbicide in Agent Orange, the product was contaminated with dioxin — a potent carcinogen — as a byproduct of the production process.
From Deutsche Welle, a video report on the destructive role played by free trade pacts on local agriculture in one Latin American nation:
Business Brief: Columbia’s Struggling Farmers
Free trade pacts are supposed to be a win-win situation for the nations who enter in to them.
And from Al Jazeera America, a sovereign victory to the north:
Canada’s First Nations people seek to ‘evict’ energy companies from land
- Indigenous people of British Columbia are emboldened by a court decision siding with tribe in land rights dispute
The Gitxsan and First Nations peoples across the country have been emboldened by a June Supreme Court of Canada decision they describe as a “game changer.” In that case, the court sided with the Tsilhqot’in First Nation, a band of roughly 3,000 people residing in British Columbia’s interior, in a dispute over commercial logging. The court ruled that because the Tsilhqot’in were found to hold “aboriginal title” over the territory in question, their permission was required before logging could proceed.
“Canada is witnessing something that I call the rise of native empowerment,” said Bill Gallagher, a lawyer and author who specializes in First Nations legal challenges. “The Supreme Court of Canada has declared, verbatim, that the doctrine of terra nullius — that nobody was here when flags were planted by colonizers — that that doctrine does not apply in Canada.”
On to Fukushimapocalypse Now!, first with the Japan Times:
Late Fukushima nuclear plant chief’s testimony may be made public
The government plans to disclose testimony by Fukushima No. 1 chief Masao Yoshida that could shed light on whether he ordered staff at the stricken power plant to stay at their posts during the triple meltdown crisis, sources revealed Friday.
The decision could be made by mid-September, governmental and other sources said, noting Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga might comment on the leaking testimony on Monday.
Yoshida, who died of cancer in July last year, gave testimony to a government panel that was formed to probe the March 2011 disaster. It interviewed Yoshida for more than 20 hours between July and November 2011.
And from the Asahi Shimbun, a compromise:
Fukushima Prefecture to accept intermediate storage facility for radioactive waste
Fukushima Prefecture is set to accept the construction of an interim facility to store radioactive waste from cleanup work due to the nuclear disaster, advancing the stalled process of decontaminating the affected areas.
The prefectural government has decided to shoulder the difference between the appraised value of land in Okuma and Futaba, where the structure will be built, and the price it would have fetched before the 2011 accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
The decision came after landowners insisted that the land should be bought at a fair market value because the current appraisals are much lower than pre-disaster estimates.
For our final item, Big Oil tries to buy a city, via the San Francisco Chronicle:
Chevron pouring money into Richmond election
The biggest political campaign war chest in Richmond doesn’t belong to a candidate, it belongs to a corporation that hopes to steer the city’s November municipal election in its favor.
Chevron, the city’s main employer and taxpayer, is also the biggest spender on political campaigns – it set aside $1.6 million in a political action committee called Moving Forward that supports the oil giant’s favorite City Council and mayoral candidates.
Let me repeat: $1.6 million. For local elections in a city of a little over 106,000 residents.