Category Archives: Public service

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

Chris Hedges: Only civil disobedience offers hope


Massive civil disobedience and acts of personal sacrifice are essential if we are to prevent a global collapse of the environment and, with it, the human institutions upon which those who come after us will depend for their very survival.

That’s the bottom line for veteran journalist and civilly disobedient activist Chris Hedges, who left the New York Times after he was reprimanded for protesting the invasion of Iraq.

In a wide-ranging conversation with Abby Martin on Breaking the Set Hedges offers some very trenchant criticism of the efficacy of protests like this weekend’s massive and civilly obedient march in New York, contrasting it with a smaller and much more vocal and civilly disobedient protest on Wall Street in which he participated.

And his insights into the current warfare underway in the Mideast are especially relevant.

There’s much food for thought, and we agree with most of what he has to say.

From Breaking the Set:

Chris Hedges on Willful Blindness, Climate Corporatism & the Underground Revolt

Program notes:

Abby Martin speaks with journalist and author, Chris Hedges, going over where the recent mass climate change demonstrations in New York fall short, as well as why he believes revolt is the only solution to restoring a functioning American democracy.

Chart of the day II: Ebola’s economic impacts


From a new report [PDF] from the World Bank. Click on the image to enlarge:

World Bank Document

EbolaWatch: Anguish, limited responses, fear


The nightmare continues to unfold, with fears of social and political breakdown, plus a few modest offers of help from the developed world, too little and too late to have any significant short-term impacts.

Once again we a relying heavily on African media in an effort to counter the heavily North-centered approach of of media in the U.S. and Europe.

First up, via the Guardian, eloquent anxiety:

Ebola threatening Liberia’s existence, minister warns

  • Virus spreading like wildfire, defence minister tells UN security council, as WHO warns far more beds are needed

Ebola is threatening the very existence of Liberia as the virus spreads like “wildfire”, the country’s defence minister, Brownie Samukai, has warned, following a World Health Organisation assessment that the worst is yet to come.

After predicting an “exponential increase” in infections across west Africa, the WHO warned that Liberia, which has accounted for half of all deaths, could initially only hope to slow the contagion, not stop it.

“Liberia is facing a serious threat to its national existence,” Samukai told a meeting of the UN security council on Tuesday. The disease is “now spreading like wildfire, devouring everything in its path”, he said.

More from the Liberian Observer:

‘Ebola Is A Threat to Int’l. Peace and Security’

  • Dr. D. Elwood Dunn; Wants Security Council Resolution to that Effect

Dr. D. Elwood Dunn, a retired African academic and former Minister of State for Presidential Affairs in Liberia, has declared that the Ebola crisis is “a threat to international peace and security.”

For this reason, he has called for a United Nations Security Council Resolution declaring the Ebola situation a threat to international peace and security and calling forth the requisite measures to containing the threat.”

The world at this time, he declared, needs a critical international collaborative crisis leadership to arrest this horrific epidemic.

And from the Liberian Observer again, another impact:

‘President Needs to Suspend Article 83a’

  • To Postpone October 14, 2014 Special Senatorial Election

Senate Pro Tempore Gbehzohngar Findley has stated that although members of the Senate have overwhelming agreed with the National Elections Commission (NEC) that it is not feasible to conduct free and fair elections on October 14, 2014, the final decision to postpone the election lies with President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.

The Senate last Thursday unanimously endorsed an NEC communication to that body, warning that under the prevailing circumstances, elections must be postponed, noting that it was not with the Senate to make the final decision.

Pro Tempore Findley, one of 15 Senators whose seats are up for grabs, made a passionate argument last Thursday before his colleagues that it was not practical, prudent or logical to call for elections in October when those who should be voting are dying in their numbers because of the Ebola epidemic.

And from FrontPageAfrica, an interview with a man on the front line:

FPA WEB TV: Fighting Ebola without Fear

Program note:

Emergency Response Worker discusses challenges of picking Ebola dead in Liberia.

From RT, another shrieking alarm:

15 more countries at risk of Ebola contamination – Oxford University

The deadly Ebola virus could spread to 15 new countries, according to calculations made by Oxford University. This is because there are species of fruit bat that are suspected of carrying the disease without displaying symptoms.

The new study is published in the eLife journal, and examines how the disease could spread through the animal kingdom and to human beings.

Fruit bats can carry the disease without showing any signs of it, and are able to migrate and transfer it to other animals, for example monkeys and rodents.

“A total of 51 surveyed locations reporting infections in animals were identified in the literature since the discovery of the disease. These comprised 17 infections in gorillas (Gorilla gorilla), nine infections in chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes), 18 in OWFB (old world fruit bat) and two in duikers,” the study says.

StarAfrica issues another call for action:

Ghana’s defence minister urges collective efforts to tackle Ebola menace

Ghana’s Minister of Defence, Dr. Benjamin Kubuor, has described the Ebola menace in West Africa as “a very worrying situation that requires the collective efforts of all.”

Speaking at the opening of the 34th Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Committee of Chiefs of Defence Staff (CCDS), which opened in Accra, Ghana on Tuesday, Kubuor said: “It is for the this reason that the Chair of ECOWAS and Ghanaian President Mr. John Dramani Mahama, has made Accra, Ghana the distribution point for the supply of Ebola support in the sub-region.”

“It is for you service chiefs to also use this forum to discuss how you can assist the civilian population to strategize towards stemming the spread of this virus,” a statement by the ECOWAS Commission on Wednesday in Abuja quoted the minister as saying.

The minister expressed profound appreciation to the World Health Organization and other partners for their support in the handling of the Ebola epidemic.

And from TheLocal.fr, panic in the North:

Air France pilots won’t fly to Ebola-hit countries

Panicked pilots at Air France are refusing to fly to Ebola-hit countries, just weeks after flight attendants at France’s flagship carrier objected to flying to West African countries battling the deadly virus.

The pilots’ protest comes just weeks after a trade union representing Air France cabin crew launched a petition to persuade company chiefs to stop flying to Ebola-hit countries Guinea and Sierra Leone until the crisis is under control.

But according to Julien Duboz, a spokesperson for a union representing Air France’s pilots (SPAF), the number of pilots who will actually choose not to fly is very small.

Pilots who choose to fly to these destinations “come back convinced of the necessity of being able to fly in safety when they see what measures have been put in place,” Duboz said, according to Le Monde.

From the Guardian, a call for Down Under action:

Ebola: Australia must provide more support to tackle crisis, AMA says

  • Professor says government should be as quick to help the WHO stop the outbreak as it was to join efforts against Isis in Iraq

Australia must provide greater support to tackle the ongoing Ebola crisis in west Africa, the head of the Australian Medical Association has said.

With the death toll from the virus close to 2,300, Professor Brian Owler said the government needed to outline how it would help the World Health Organisation (WHO) in tackling the worst Ebola outbreak in history.

“What we are witnessing is an evolving humanitarian crisis in west Africa and the international community needs to step up its support,” Owler said on Wednesday.

“If we don’t, the human cost will be enormous, there will be an increased spread to other areas and I’m sure the call will come from WHO in the next few days for Australia to lend its support so we need to be ready.”

From BBC News, another tepid response:

New money added to emergency response to Ebola outbreak

More money has been announced to help the emergency response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

The Gates Foundation is committing $50m to help step up efforts to tackle the deadly virus in the affected countries.

This comes on top of other funds announced by the UK and US governments, as well as the European Union. But some aid charities say that the most urgent need in Africa is for expert teams in bio-hazard containment.

And another, via the Associated Press:

US gives ambulances to Sierra Leone to fight Ebola

The United States donated five ambulances Wednesday to help Sierra Leone’s fight against Ebola as the West African government acknowledged it can take up to 24 hours to pick up bodies in the spiraling crisis.

More than 2,200 deaths throughout West Africa have been attributed to Ebola amid the worst outbreak of the disease in history. The sick have been using motorcycle taxis and other public transport to get to hospitals, further increasing the risk of transmitting the disease that kills about half its victims.

Kathleen FitzGibbon of the U.S. Embassy in Sierra Leone handed President Ernest Bai Koroma the keys to five ambulances Wednesday. The U.S. has spent more than $100 million responding to the outbreak.

Punch Nigeria covers another consequence:

Ebola survivors lose accommodation, jobs ? Lagos

Lagos State Government on Tuesday says it will not hesitate to prosecute any resident that stigmatises survivors of the deadly Ebola Virus Disease.

It was learnt that the government took the decision after a complaint of stigmatisation was made by two of the nine survivors, who were also certified free from EVD.

The Commissioner for Health, Dr. Jide Idris, said on Tuesday during a press briefing in Alausa, Ikeja, that the government was determined to ensure that Ebola survivors were reintegrated into the society.

While Deutsche Welle warns of dangers ahead:

Unstoppable: is Ebola mutating with unknown consequences before our eyes?

US President Barack Obama says the Ebola virus, currently attacking western Africa, could mutate – making it even more dangerous. The virus has already changed its genome, with unknown consequences.

“Even a single change in the genome can have huge consequences,” says Jonas Schmidt-Chanasit, a virologist at the Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine in Hamburg.

He confirms that mutations can increase the contagiousness of a virus.

Mutations could also make the illness break out sooner, or alternate the course of the disease – increasing the potential of a patient’s developing encephalitis. The disease could also become airborne. And that would be disastrous: the infection rate would increase exponentially.

StarAfrica calls out the troops:

ECOWAS rallies military support against Ebola scourge

The ECOWAS Commission has called on the defence forces of its member states to lend their professional support towards defeating the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) which has claimed more than 2,000 lives from almost 4,000 cases reported in the region from March 2014.

The Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Mrs. Salamatu Hussaini Suleiman, told the 34th Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Committee of Chiefs of Defence Staff (CCDS), which opened in Accra, Ghana that the disease “if not adequately addressed would have far reaching devastating consequences for the development of the region”.

A statement issued by the ECOWAS Commission on Wednesday in Abuja said that the commissioner called for “collective efforts in assisting and supporting member states whose populations are facing the menace of this dangerous disease,” and the contribution of the CCDS in battling the heath crisis.

Science covers diminished expectations from another military response:

In Liberia, disappointment at U.S. military’s planned Ebola response

When President Barack Obama spoke about the U.S. military helping combat the Ebola epidemic on NBC News’s Meet the Press this past Sunday, Tim Flanigan, an American clinician working in Monrovia, says he was “ecstatic.” It was exactly what many of the people leading the Ebola effort in Liberia, the hardest hit country, had been hoping for. But that joy turned to dismay the next day, when Flanigan learned the details of the Pentagon’s plans.

Obama pledged “to get U.S. military assets just to set up, for example, isolation units and equipment there to provide security for public health workers surging from around the world.” On Monday, a Pentagon representative said the military planned to send only a $22 million, 25-bed field hospital to Monrovia, Liberia’s capital. “It’s not going to make any dent in Ebola treatment for the people of Liberia,” Flanigan warns. “It’s such a small number of beds and they may well be directed toward non-Liberians.”

From Punch Nigeria, when contagion trumps tradition:

Ondo assembly passes bill on cremation

As a step towards stemming the spread of the Ebola Virus Disease, the Ondo State House of Assembly has passed the law for the disposal of bodies by cremation and for other matters connected.

The bill was presented to the House by the state governor,   Olusegun Mimiko, last week, and the third reading was done on Tuesday following an accelerated consideration.

Presenting the report, Chairman of the House Committee on Health, Bamidele Oleyelogun, said the committee had on Monday organised a public hearing to enable all stakeholders make their input before the passage of the bill.

And from the Washington Post, looking at a single vector:

A single doorknob can contaminate up to 60 percent of people in a building in 4 hours

Viruses can spread from a single doorknob to 40 to 60 percent of surfaces and people in a building in just a few hours, according to a new study.

Researchers put a tracer virus on one or two surfaces in a building (for example a doorknob or push plate) at the beginning of the day. And after two to four hours, the virus could be detected on a majority of commonly touched surfaces such as light switches, coffee pot handles, phones and computers.

“We actually put a virus on a push plate in an office building of 80 people, had three entrances, and within four hours it ended up on over half the people’s hands, and it ended up on over half the surfaces that people touched in that building,” said University of Arizona researcher Charles Gerba, who presented the study at the 54th Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy on Monday.

“What we really learned was the hand is quicker than the sneeze in the spread of disease,” Gerba said during his presentation.

Punch Nigeria covers a preventative measure:

Ebola: Private schools demand children’s medical clearance

The National Association of Private School Proprietors, Kano State branch, has directed parents to bring medical clearance of their children to school authorities on resumption.

The President of the association, Dr Jibril Muhammad, gave the directive while briefing newsmen in Kano on Wednesday.

He said the decision was taken at the executive meeting of the association as part of measures to curtail the spread of the Ebola virus among school children.

From Punch Nigeria again, another school, another call:

Ebola: Parents call on OAU students to take caution

Following reports that a student of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife was suspected to have the Ebola Virus Disease, parents on Wednesday made calls to their wards to be cautious.

It would be recalled that a female student of OAU was on Tuesday quarantined after she allegedly confessed that she had a contact with the late Port Harcourt doctor, Iyke Enemuo.

Enemuo died of the EVD after he secretly treated an infected ECOWAS diplomat, Olu-Ibukun Koye, in a hotel in the Rivers State capital.

StarAfrica covers cases cleared:

Malawi screens 155 travellers from Ebola nations

Data from Kamuzu International Airport (KIA) in the capital Lilongwe has shown that in August only 155 travellers from Ebola affected countries had been screened, according to the Minister of Health Dr Jean Kalirani.She told journalists in the capital Lilongwe on Wednesday that 43 percent of the travellers were put on surveillance for a period of 21 days to check if they develop signs and symptoms of the disease.

“None of these people had shown any signs and symptoms of Ebola. We will continue with this surveillance so that we remain an Ebola free country,” she said.

Out of the total number of screened people, 67 percent were Malawians who travelled to the affected countries to attend workshops and conferences, she added.

And from TheLocal.it, Europe breathes more freely yet again:

‘Ebola’ patient in Italy has malaria

Doctors in the central Italian region of Marche have said that the Nigerian resident in Italy who was hospitalized on Tuesday with suspected Ebola is suffering from malaria.

The woman, who had recently returned from a visit to Nigeria, was hospitalized in Ancona and was undergoing tests in a specialist unit to establish whether she has contracted a virus which has killed more than 2,000 people since the start of the year.

The 42-year-old Nigerian resident in Italy had a fever above 38 degrees, muscle pain, nausea and vomiting.

“She is presenting with symptoms that could be those of Ebola,” a spokesman for the local authorities in the central Le Marche region was quoted as saying on Tuesday.

From the Monrovia Inquirer, Liberian survivors:

Five Suspected Ebola Patients Cleared

The Firestone Medical Center yesterday reintegrated five Ebola survivors into society declaring them free of the deadly disease.

Speaking at the reintegration program held in Camp One, Harbel, Margibi County, the Medical Director of Firestone Health Services, Dr. Lyndon Mabande, said health workers are going beyond their borders to save lives.

He stressed that residents in various communities across Liberia must stop discouraging and frightening health workers but to support and encourage them to continue saving lives. Dr. Mabande is encouraging Liberians to restrict their movements and take the necessary preventive measures as prescribed by the Ministry of Health.

For our final item, another survivor and another country, via StarAfrica:

Ebola-hit Guinean treated in Dakar has been cured – official

The results of the two last tests on the Ebola-hit Guinean national admitted into Fann hospital in Dakar since late August have proved negative, according to Dr Pape Abdoulaye Diack, the Director of Health at the ministry of Health and Social Action.

“Senegal has been successful in treating the case, which shows evidence about the efficacy of our health system. Twice the tests on the young Guinean have proved negative,” Dr Diack said.

He reassured that there is no more Ebola case presently in Senegal while calling for further efforts to reinforce the prevention system.

Guerrilla ad disruption on the Parisian street


Vlogger FAREWELL has tackled the obnoxious intrusion of advertising on the boulevards of Paris with a new strategy. We have to confess our admiration for their development of a simple device which so effectively turns the mechanically driven parade of ads into something that becomes almost a work of art in itself.

Très Bien!

Via FAREWELL:

BANDES DE PUB / STRIP BOX

Con artists in the aisles: Gendered Marketing


A deft takedown of a clever way to charge more for less [the antithesis of Buckminster Fuller's notion of synergy]  by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Kirsten Drysdale and Zoe Norton Lodge will give you a good idea of why the publicly funded network is under attack by the neoliberal government of Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

From ABC1’s The Checkout:

GENDERED MARKETING | The Checkout | ABC1

Program note:

Kirsten Drysdale and Zoe Norton Lodge examine the issue of market segmentation by gender and find we’ve all got an equal opportunity to pay more.

H/T to The Sociological Cinema.

A melodious voice, provocative insights


John Henry Faulk was a remarkable character, an academic fokloristic who became a humorist, and who waged and won a seminal battle against the Hollywood blacklist, a secret database used by the entertainment and electronic media industries to bar people whose beliefs were deemed threats to national security to be barred from public screens and airwaves.

He’d have turned 100 last August if cancer had finally stilled his rich, melodious voice, conveying sophisticated thoughts cloaked in idiom and Texas dialect.

Here’s Faulk in a wonderful 1985 conversation with Frank Morrow for the legendary public access series Alternative Views:

FAULK AT HIS FINEST: Meet Uncensored Humorist John Henry Faulk

Proogram notes from AlternativeViewTV:

Austin’s beloved folk humorist tells tales from his new book The Uncensored John Henry Faulk. The stories, which range from childhood recollections of life on a South Austin farm to commentary on political figures, embody a populist, egalitarian spirit. Some of these stories are from Faulk’s well-known one-man show Pear Orchard USA. Through the use of these folk characters, Faulk is able to make political commentary which is palatable even to people who might disagree with the message, such as the anti-Nixon stories which he has used before audiences of businessmen. The last section of the program is a Faulk mini-retrospective, featuring clips of the humorist’s past appearances on Alternative Views.

One of esnl’s favorite folksingers, Phil Ochs, paid him tribute in this 1962 song:

Phil Ochs: The Ballad of John Henry Faulk [1962]

From the lyrics:

And you men who point your fingers and spread your lies around,
You men who left your souls behind and drag us to the ground,
You can put my name right down there, I will not try to hide —
For if there’s one man on the blacklist, I’ll be right there by his side.

For I’d rather go hungry to beg upon the streets
Than earn my bread on dead men’s souls and crawl beneath your feet.
And I will not play your hater’s game and hate you in return,
For it’s only through the love of man the blacklist can be burned.