Category Archives: Noteworthy

Fighting the Ebola Virus Outbreak Street by Street

A very important video, one that looks at the outbreak of the Ebola virus in Liberia’s capital from the perspective of a healthcare worker on the very spear point of the effort to fight the disease, an ambulance driver — the very first to see cases bvefore they arrive at one of the horrendously overcrowded treatment facilities.

To really grasp the stark reality conveyed in the video report, we suggest you play it at full 1080p resolution [click on the little cogwheel and set 1080p with the Quality arrow].

From Ben C. Solomon of the New York Times:

Fighting the 2014 Ebola Virus Outbreak Street by Street

Program notes:

Some ambulance workers in Monrovia have been infected with Ebola, while others have been attacked for not getting to patients in time. A week on the road as Liberia’s capital dips deeper into crisis.

An excerpt from the accompanying story:

Racing along cracked and bumpy roads here, Gordon Kamara shouted into his cellphone over the shrieking sirens of his ambulance. The phone had been ringing nonstop since 5 a.m.

“Not today! Not today!” Mr. Kamara, an ambulance nurse, yelled later in the day. “We are on the opposite side of town!”

The calls have all been the same in recent weeks: from friends, friends of friends, extended family, complete strangers. All of them have loved ones sick with Ebola and beg him to come quickly. Seven days a week, Mr. Kamara and his crew span Monrovia, Liberia’s capital, in a donated, old American ambulance — with California license plates still attached.

“It never stops,” said Mr. Kamara, getting another call the moment he hangs up.

The 15 or so ambulance teams bolting around the city have had many days of hard choices like this. Hundreds of new Ebola cases are reported each week in Monrovia, with many more never accounted for. And over the course of the epidemic, only a small percentage of them have ever made it to a hospital.

John Oliver, at it again: Civil asset forfeiture

Yep, the ongoing assault on malicious hypocrisy that is HBO’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver is at it again, this time with a takedown of rapacious looters acting under the color of authority provided by those Bill of Rights destroying provision of the PATRIOT ACT and its subsequent enabling acts:

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Civil Forfeiture

Program notes:

Did you know police can just take your stuff if they suspect it’s involved in a crime? They can!

It’s a shady process called “civil asset forfeiture,” and it would make for a weird episode of Law and Order.


And some outtakes with Jeff Goldblum:

Oliver’s singular skill in employment of the reductio ad absurdum is particularly devastating in exposing the single-minded arrogant greed and entitlement assumed by too many cops in the wake of 9/11 and their ennoblement by the mainstream media because of the unquestionably heroic actions of so many police officers [and firefighters, lest we forget] on that dreaded day.

We seem to have forgotten that abuses by armed officers of the state fueled the American Revolution itself and gave rise to the Bill of Rights, with its checks on precisely such abuse.

But the carefully stoked fear of terrorism blinded too many to the inevitable consequences of empowering poorly educated men and women [mostly men] with powers seize loot for their own enrichment and for the enhancement of their own sense of power.

The one question is, will it take another revolution to end it?And, gee, wouldn’t a nice chilly margarita be nice right about now?

Neoliberal destruction of Canadian science

One of the great tragedies of neoliberalism in the developed North is its use as a bludgeon to smash views of science and history that don’t reflect the profit first, people second imperative that lies at the rotten heart of neoliberalism.

In part, the agenda demands a kind of revisionism celebrating imperial and corporate acquisition and industrialism at the expense of a nuanced view of history and science.

So we have to salute CBC news for going against the grain of Stephen Harper’s neoliberal government in Ottawa and creating a powerful documentary exploring the depths of cultural and scientific depravity demanded by Harper and his minions, and their relentless destruction of anything and anyone standing in their way.

From CBC News:

The Silence of the Labs

Program notes:

In the past few years, the federal government has cut funding to hundreds of renowned research institutes and programs. Ottawa has dismissed more than 2,000 federal scientists and researchers and has drastically cut or ended programs that monitored smoke stack emissions, food inspections, oil spills, water quality and climate change. Now some scientists have become unlikely radicals, denouncing what they call is a politically-driven war on knowledge. In Silence of the Labs, Linden MacIntyre tells the story of scientists – and what is at stake for Canadians – from Nova Scotia to the B.C. Pacific Coast to the far Arctic Circle.

Three cheers for CBC News, whose executives had to realize their straightforward journalism was raising a lightning rod certain to draw the electrified rage of the political hacks whose dastardly deeds they expose.

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.

Two UCLA rallies against the War in Vietnam

Both star-studded, as only Los Angeles rallies can be.

Both are represented in remarkable audio recordings from the 1960s and early 1970s in the wonderful online archives of the University of California, Los Angeles, Department of Communications Studies [and do browse, there's everything from Bucky Fuller and Timothy Leary to Robert Oppenheimer and Richard Harris].

The first recording is from the 15 October 1969 Vietnam Moratorium Day rally, one of scores held on campuses and in cities throughout the country.

Among the speakers are Los Angeles Urban coalition chair Martin Stone, actors Burt Lancaster and Candice Bergin, several students [including the daughter of a South Vietnamese politician jailed for advocating peace], U.S. Rep. George Brown Jr. [D-CA], Harry Bellafonte, and comedian Stanley Myron Handelman, plus some brilliant performances by esnl’s favorite radical folkie Phil Ochs [previously].

From UCLA’s Department of Communications Studies:

Moratorium Day Rally at UCLA 10/15/1969

The second event is the Vietnam Day rally of 15 May 1972, and features an impassioned speech by Jane Fonda, the actress who became a lightning rod of the American right and was used to discredit John Kerry during his presidential run, a story we covered at the time for the Berkeley Daily Planet.

Fonda’s remarks are prefaced by those of Dong Hong Cai [phonetic], a Vietnamese native awarded a Harvard scholarship, followed by an architectural scholarship to MIT, who delivers an impassioned plea on behalf of his country, and an illuminating perspective on American ignorance of the culture they professed to protect.

His is a remarkable speech, and we still haven’t learned as a nation the lessons he imparted so eloquently.

On with the event:

Jane Fonda speaking at a rally against the war in Vietnam 5/15/1972

How culture shapes perceptions of autism

Autism is one of the most fascinating of human conditions, a structuring of the human brain that nudges development toward the kind of behaviors once call monomanias to the neglect of the kind of social relationships without which the rest of us would find ourselves devastated.

We’ve long felt that being a good journalist requires just a touch of the autistic nature, a compulsion to delve deeply into something with a fixity of purpose dismaying to and, frequently, neglectful of, others.

Our formal academic training, such as it was, was in anthropology, before we were derailed into what we discovered was our true vocation, journalism. But we’ve retained a fondness for anthropology.

So we were delighted to discover an illuminating lecture by an anthropologist with a vital interest in autism in the person of his own daughter.

His search for understanding of autism through an anthropological lens is revealing. And what we find most interesting is that the autistic seem to do best in small, human scale cultures, where embeddedness combines with acceptance in allowing the autistic to find roles which make the most of the unique abilities in the context of the community.

Of particular interest are some of his observations about the power of the media in shaping public recognition and acceptance of autism in the community, especially in the cases of one South Korean feature film and a South African traditional healer’s arrival at a diagnosis.

From University of California Television:

Culture and Autism: Anthropological Perspectives on the U.S. Korea and South Africa

Program notes:

Although Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) appears to be universal, the contexts in which it occurs are distinctive. Yet little research has been conducted on ASD in diverse cultures within the U.S., or in countries outside of the U.S. or Europe, with little reliable information yet reported from developing countries. Drawing on research in the U.S., South Africa, and South Korea, Richard Grinker, an anthropologist at George Washington University and parent of a child with autism, discusses the complex relationship between culture and diagnosis in the context of changes in autism awareness, prevalence, diagnostic practices, and community outreach.

Charts of the day II: Deaths by cop in the U.S.A.

From Fatal Encounters, a new online project to monitor deaths at the hands of law enforcement, created by University of Nevada journalism teacher and editor/publisher of the Reno News & Review D. Brian Burghart. And the reasons for his interest are evident in the map::

BLOG Deaths 1

BLOG Deaths 2