Category Archives: Public service

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.

Ralph Nader on wealth, power, and politics


This is the first of three segments from The Real News Network featuring an extended Paul Jay interview of Ralph Nader:

McCarthyism Made Us Veer Away From a Systemic Doctrine for Change – Ralph Nader

From the transcript:

JAY: But now, you know, as we see capitalism in its–the ’08 financial crisis and the sort of recovery of Asia, you start to see–and let me add another big thing is there’s no longer this–even if it’s hypothetical–or was it theoretical?–but there wasn’t this supposed socialist Soviet Union that was going to guarantee jobs and insurance, health insurance, and this and that. I mean, the message of European capitalism and America to Europe, not so much to Americans: well, you don’t need socialism to get all this; capitalism can do it for you.

NADER: Yeah, social democratic politics they called it.

JAY: But now Europe is now turning on itself, and they’re doing everything they can to get rid of all this stuff. And now they want to be like the American model, to be more competitive.

But I guess where I’m going with this is: have we entered a kind of new stage of history of capitalist development?

NADER: Well, basically it was globalization that did it to Western Europe. Once they took in the model of the World Trade Organization, once they in effect financialized more of their economy–derivatives, speculation, stock market, all that–that’s when they started going down. I warned them: do not accept the U.S. multinational model, ’cause it’s going to happen to you. And the effect of the multinational model was exacerbated by the European common market. So if they got in one country, they’d get in a lot of the other countries.

However, they still have a safety net. And it’s frayed badly in England. For example, they’re charging students now as high as $12,000 a year for tuition. But by comparison with us, nobody dies in Western Europe–nobody dies in Western Europe because they don’t have health insurance. They’re insured from the cradle to the grave. In this country, 800 Americans die every week, every week, ’cause they can’t afford health insurance to get diagnosed and treated in time.

And that’s–figure comes from a Harvard Medical School peer-reviewed study in the December 2009 Journal of American Public Health. This is not some wild figure. Eight hundred a week, and not a single major politician is talking about it in the election year last year.

Quote of the day: Whistleblower call to action


From an appeal by renowned whistleblowers T, , , , , , and , published in today’s issue of The Guardian:

Hidden away in offices of various government departments, intelligence agencies, police forces and armed forces are dozens and dozens of people who are very much upset by what our societies are turning into: at the very least, turnkey tyrannies.

One of them is you.

You’re thinking:

● Undermining democracy and eroding civil liberties isn’t put explicitly in your job contract.
● You grew up in a democratic society and want to keep it that way
● You were taught to respect ordinary people’s right to live a life in privacy
● You don’t really want a system of institutionalized strategic surveillance that would make the dreaded Stasi green with envy – do you?

Still, why bother? What can one person do? Well, Edward Snowden just showed you what one person can do. He stands out as a whistleblower both because of the severity of the crimes and misconduct that he is divulging to the public – and the sheer amount of evidence he has presented us with so far – more is coming. But Snowden shouldn’t have to stand alone, and his revelations shouldn’t be the only ones.

You can be part of the solution; provide trustworthy journalists – either from old media (like this newspaper) or from new media (such as WikiLeaks) with documents that prove what illegal, immoral, wasteful activites are going on where you work.

There IS strength in numbers. You won’t be the first – nor the last – to follow your conscience and let us know what’s being done in our names. Truth is coming – it can’t be stopped. Crooked politicians will be held accountable. It’s in your hands to be on the right side of history and accelerate the process.

Courage is contagious.