Category Archives: Resources

EnviroWatch: Fires, ills, eruption, nukes


A shorter than usual compendium today, and we begin with Golden State woes from the Christian Science Monitor:

California wildfires: 2014 budget spent, as typical high-fire season begins

Facing historic drought conditions, California firefighters are tapping into a state backup fund. As a result, firefighting crews can still be deployed and water tankers flown, despite spending beyond annual firefighting budget.

As California heads into peak fire season – in the worst drought in state history – firefighters are already tapping into reserve funds.

That means that in just the first three months of the fiscal year, the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (known as Cal Fire) has already spent all of the $209 million budgeted this year for wildfires. Once lasting about three months, the California wildfire season now runs pretty much year round.

If that’s the bad news, here’s the good: The massive King fire, which has destroyed 97,000 acres just northwest of Yosemite National Park, is 92 percent contained. And the first snow of the season dumped up to three inches along the Lake Tahoe Basin.

Reuters covers another outbreak:

Rhode Island child with Enterovirus dies after infection: officials

A Rhode Island child hospitalized with Enterovirus D68 has died of a bacterial infection, in what state public health officials described on Wednesday as an unusual and dangerous combination.

The child, a 10-year-old girl who was not named, died last week as a result of a staphylococcus aureus sepsis alongside the respiratory virus, the Rhode Island Department of Health said in a statement, calling it a “very rare combination that can cause very severe illness in children and adults.”

An outbreak of Enterovirus D68 has swept the country, with 500 confirmed cases, mostly children, in 42 states plus the District of Columbia, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

From the Japan Times, updated numbers for a deadly eruption:

Mount Ontake death toll rises to 47, making it Japan’s worst volcanic disaster in almost 90 years

Rescuers combing the peak of Mount Ontake have found more bodies, officials said Wednesday, bringing the death toll in Saturday’s unexpected eruption to 47. The figure makes it Japan’s worst volcanic disaster in almost 90 years.

Precarious conditions at the summit have made the search an on-off effort, and other bodies may still be undiscovered.

Japanese media reports have said up to 20 people remain unaccounted for, although local emergency services say a greater number have been reported missing.

And on to Fukushimapocalypse Now!, first with NHK WORLD:

Evacuation order lifted in Fukushima village

The Japanese government has lifted an evacuation order for part of Kawauchi Village near the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

The measure — for the eastern part of the village in Fukushima Prefecture — took effect on Wednesday at midnight. It affects 274 residents in 139 households.

The government says decontamination has been completed in the area. The roads and other infrastructure have been rebuilt, and utility services are up and running.

NHK WORLD again, with a word of caution:

Nuclear risk center chief urges change in mindset

The head of Japan’s newly established Nuclear Risk Research Center has urged everyone involved with nuclear energy to change their mindset.

The center opened on Wednesday as part of the Central Research Institute of Electric Power Industry, which is run jointly by Japanese power companies. Center chief George Apostolakis served on the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission until June. He specializes in analyzing risks at nuclear plants.

The center’s aim is to pinpoint such risks, including those at plants that have met government requirements to restart, and to help power companies fix the problems.

Apostolakis said Japan has been slow to introduce risk analysis, perhaps because most people think everything that meets government requirements is safe. He added that such attitudes must change, to ensure safety.

And closer to home, nuclear littering from Nextgov:

Watchdog: Don’t Rule Out Organic Kitty Litter as Culprit in Nuclear Waste Radiation Leak

Kitty litter may yet turn out to be the culprit behind a radiation leak at a nuclear waste site earlier this year.

An Energy Department inspector general report released yesterday raised once again the possibility that the addition of organic kitty litter to nuclear waste drums may well have led to a rupture of one drum at an underground storage facility and a subsequent radiation leak Feb. 14.

The report raises concerns about the safety of hundreds of other waste drums.

The New Mexico Environment Department’s Hazardous Waste Bureau theorized this May that a combination of organic cat litter and nitrate salt waste in nuclear waste drums at Los Alamos National Laboratory prior to shipment to the underground Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad, New Mexico, may have led to the drum rupture and the eventual radiation leak.

And for our final item, the Guardian covers carbonaceous claims:

Canada switches on world’s first carbon capture power plant

  • Boundary Dam held up as first commercial-scale CCS plant and proof that coal-burning is compatible with cutting emissions

Canada has switched on the first large-scale coal-fired power plant fitted with a technology that proponents say enables the burning of fossil fuels without tipping the world into a climate catastrophe.

The project, the first commercial-scale plant equipped with carbon capture and storage technology, was held up by the coal industry as a real life example that it is possible to go on burning the dirtiest of fossil fuels while avoiding dangerous global warming.

Saskatchewan’s state-owned electricity provider is due to cut the ribbon on the $1.3 billion Canadian project on Thursday. But officials from SaskPower International Inc told guests invited to the ceremony the 110 megawatt plant went live on Tuesday night.

EbolaWatch: Fears in Texas, latest from Africa


For Americans, the major Ebola news — and hopefully a story that will kindle their compassion for the plight of West Africa — is the arrival of the disease in the form of a walk-pin patient from Liberia and turned away from a Dallas hospital.

But before we get to the story of the day, two other headlines, first from RT:

Ebola worse than HIV, SARS – UN official

The man leading the UN response to the Ebola epidemic, Dr. David Nabaro, says Ebola poses a worse threat to humanity than HIV or SARS and the global effort to combat it is woefully inefficient and that he needs $30 million now.

Nabaro was speaking after various presentations on how to combat the disease, including at the UN Security Council and General Assembly, before he returns to Europe and West Africa, reports the Sydney Morning Herald.

Ebola has so-far been centered on the West African countries of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, and has infected 6,553 people and killed 3,083. So far the outbreak looks like it’s been arrested in neighboring Senegal and Nigeria, but the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) believes that if it is not contained Ebola may infect 1.4 million by January.

And second, via Reuters:

World Bank chief says Ebola outbreak shows harm of inequality

Fighting the Ebola epidemic means confronting the issue of inequality, as people in poor countries have less access to knowledge and infrastructure for treating the sick and containing the deadly virus, the head of the World Bank said.

Three poor countries in West Africa – Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone – have seen their health systems overwhelmed by the worst outbreak of the disease on record. The epidemic has killed at least 3,000 people in the region.

“Now, thousands of people in these (three) countries are dying because, in the lottery of birth, they were born in the wrong place,” World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said in prepared remarks at Howard University in Washington.

“This … shows the deadly cost of unequal access to basic services and the consequences of our failure to fix this problem.”

Now to Texas, first with KDFW Fox 4 in Dallas:

Dallas patient in serious condition with Ebola

A Dallas hospital patient has tested positive for Ebola, the first case ever diagnosed in the United States.

The patient, currently in serious condition, is at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital. Officials at the hospital admitted on Wednesday the patient told a nurse on his initial visit he had been in West Africa, but due to a communication breakdown he was sent home. He returned to the hospital two days later in an ambulance.

CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D. said that the patient did not show any symptoms when leaving Liberia on Sept. 19 or entering the U.S. on Sept. 20.

United Airlines said Wednesday it believes the patient spent part of his flights out of Africa to the U.S. on United flights. United believes he was on a Brussels to Washington Dulles Flight 951 and Dulles to Dallas-Fort Worth Flight 822 on Sept. 20. Officials said there is no risk to anyone on those flights.

The patient, identified by relatives as Thomas Eric Duncan, was staying at the Ivy Apartments on Fair Oaks Avenue in Dallas. The complex is just southeast of the hospital where he’s being treated.

More from the Guardian:

Man diagnosed with Ebola virus in US was sent home for two days

  • Dallas hospital says patient’s symptoms were not definitive when he was first seen, as officials urge people not to panic

The first patient to be diagnosed with Ebola outside Africa during the latest outbreak was sent home with a course of antibiotics for two days after seeking medical care at a Dallas hospital last week, a hospital official said.

The patient, believed to be male, was admitted to an isolation unit at Texas Health Presbyterian hospital on Sunday, after coming to the same hospital two days before.

Edward Goodman, the infectious disease specialist at Texas Health Presbyterian hospital, told National Public Radio that the patient’s symptoms were not definitive when he was first seen. Goodman said: “He was evaluated for his illness, which was very nondescript. He had some laboratory tests, which were not very impressive, and he was dismissed with some antibiotics.”

Medical officials in the US announced on Tuesday that tests confirmed the man, who had travelled from Liberia, had Ebola.

Still more from CNBC:

US Ebola patient said he was from Liberia: Sister

The sister of the first Ebola patient diagnosed in the United States says he told relatives he notified officials the first time he went to the hospital that he was visiting from Liberia.

The individual claiming to be the patient’s sister said he went to a Dallas emergency room on Friday and they sent him home with antibiotics. She says he said hospital officials asked for his Social Security number and he said that he didn’t have one because he was visiting from Liberia.

The patient arrived in the U.S. on Sept. 20 to be with relatives in Dallas. He began to develop symptoms last Wednesday and sought care two days later. He was released and returned to the hospital and was admitted Sunday.

A video report from RT America:

Dallas hospital sent Ebola patient home despite exhibiting symptoms

Program notes:

Doctors confirmed on Tuesday the first case of Ebola inside the US. Thomas Eric Duncan is in serious but stable condition after being admitted to Texas Health Presbyterian hospital in Dallas. He first exhibited symptoms of the virus on September 26 and went to the same hospital where he is now being treated, but was sent home without being tested despite his recent arrival from Liberia. RT’s Manila Chan has more details on the response to the diagnosis and the seeming lapse in protocol.

Reuters poses necessary questions:

Experts question two-day delay in admitting Texas Ebola patient

For months, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been warning American hospitals that Ebola was just a plane ride away. The CDC has urged hospital emergency department staff to ask patients whether they have recently traveled to Liberia, Sierra Leone or Guinea, the three countries hardest hit by the worst Ebola outbreak on record.

At least 3,091 people have died from Ebola since the West African outbreak was first reported in a remote forest region of Guinea in March.

It was only on that second visit on Sunday, however, that the hospital learned that the patient had recently arrived in the United States from Liberia and admitted him to an isolation unit.

Dr. Goodman said the hospital is reviewing what they might have missed on the patient’s initial visit. “Our staff is thoroughly trained on infectious disease protocols. We have been meeting literally for weeks in anticipation of such an event,” he said.

While the New York Times looks at practical epidemiology:

After Ebola Case in Dallas, Health Officials Seek Those Who Had Contact With Patient

Although the man flew into the country about 10 days ago on a commercial airliner, officials said that he had shown no symptoms of the disease while on the flight and that he had posed no threat to other passengers.

Officials are focused on finding people who came into contact with the man after he began showing symptoms, on Sept. 24. As a patient becomes sicker and the virus replicates in the body, the likelihood of the disease spreading grows.

Dallas County officials said Wednesday they believed the man had come into contact with 12 to 18 people when he was experiencing symptoms. So far, none has been confirmed infected.

More from BBC News:

Ebola crisis: Texas children ‘monitored for symptoms’

Schoolchildren have come into contact with the first patient to be diagnosed with Ebola on US soil, the governor of Texas has said.

At a news conference at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, Rick Perry said the children were being monitored “at home” for symptoms.

The patient is thought to have contracted the virus in Liberia before coming to the US nearly two weeks ago. He is in a serious condition, a spokeswoman for the hospital said.

“Today we learned that some school-age children had been identified as having had contact with the patient and are now being monitored at home for any signs of the disease,” Mr Perry said.

And the New York Times tracks down the exposure route:

U.S. Patient Aided Pregnant Liberian, Then Took Ill

  • Liberian Officials Identify Ebola Victim in Texas as Thomas Eric Duncan

A man who flew to Dallas and was later found to have the Ebola virus was identified by senior Liberian government officials on Wednesday as Thomas Eric Duncan, a resident of Monrovia in his mid-40s.

Mr. Duncan, the first person to develop symptoms outside Africa during the current epidemic, had direct contact with a woman stricken by Ebola on Sept. 15, just four days before he left Liberia for the United States, the woman’s parents and Mr. Duncan’s neighbors said.

In a pattern often seen here in Monrovia, the Liberian capital, the family of the woman, Marthalene Williams, 19, took her by taxi to a hospital with Mr. Duncan’s help on Sept. 15 after failing to get an ambulance, said her parents, Emmanuel and Amie Williams. She was convulsing and seven months pregnant, they said.

From International Business Times, contagion?:

Possible Second US Ebola Patient Being Monitored In Dallas

Health officials in Dallas are monitoring a possible second Ebola patient who had close contact with the first person in the U.S. diagnosed with the deadly virus, the director of Dallas County’s health department said Wednesday. Everyone who had close contact with the man officially diagnosed is being monitored as a precaution, Zachary Thompson told WFAA-TV Dallas-Fort Worth.

“Let me be real frank to the Dallas County residents: The fact that we have one confirmed case, there may be another case that is a close associate with this particular patient,” he said. “So this is real. There should be a concern, but it’s contained to the specific family members and close friends at this moment.”

International Business Times again, with another impact:

Ebola In The US: Liberian-Americans On Edge After First Virus Diagnosis In America

The Liberian-American community is on edge following the diagnosis of the first case of the Ebola virus in the U.S., both out of fear of discrimination and concerns that it will be more difficult to visit family back home in West Africa. A man in Texas was confirmed as the first U.S. Ebola case Tuesday and there’s a possibility that he also may have infected more than a dozen other people.

“We were shocked when we first heard about the case,” said Nathaniel Kerkulah, chairman of the Oregon Association for Liberia, a nonprofit in Portland composed of Liberian immigrants. “This is something that our community has been on the watchout for. We as a community have to watch out for friends who are moving back and forth.”

He said a Liberian-American woman who had been in the United States for 10 years recently brought her sick American-born child to a hospital and was greeted with panic. “Everybody kind of separated themselves from her, running away from her,” Kerkulah said. “When you say, ‘I’m from Liberia,’ people have that fear.”

From Voice of America, high-flying anxiety:

Concerned, US Airlines Contact Government About Ebola

U.S. airlines and their trade group Airlines for America are in close contact with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on actions the U.S. government is taking to address Ebola health concerns, according to a spokesperson for JetBlue.

The statement comes a day after the first case of the deadly virus was diagnosed in Dallas, Texas, prompting concerns that others may have been exposed to Ebola before the victim sought hospital treatment. According to U.S. health officials, the man sought treatment six days after arriving in Texas on Sept. 20.

The first patient diagnosed in the U.S. with an Ebola infection traveled from Liberia to Texas via Brussels, Canadian chief public health officer Greg Taylor said on Wednesday.

USA Today reassures:

Health officials see low risk of Ebola on flights

Health officials say the risk of spreading Ebola through airline travel is low, even though a man who traveled from Liberia to the United States was diagnosed with the disease, because travelers from affected countries are screened before boarding and the often fatal disease is not transmitted when an infected person has no symptoms.

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa, which has infected 6,500 people and killed 3,000, has prompted screening of travelers for fever at airports across Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, and in Lagos, Nigeria.

The patient diagnosed Tuesday in Dallas had flown Sept. 19 from Liberia and arrived in the USA on Sept. 20. He had passed the fever screening and developed symptoms only on Sept. 24. He sought treatment Sept. 26.

As does the Los Angeles Times:

Could an Africa-sized Ebola outbreak happen in U.S.? Officials say no

More than 3,000 people are believed to have died in West Africa during the worst outbreak ever of Ebola. But public health officials are confident that the United States will not confront a similar crisis and point to the nation’s modern medical and public health system, past experience and the nature of the disease for their optimism.

“I have no doubt that we’ll stop this in its tracks in the U.S.,” Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said at a news conference Tuesday, announcing the first diagnosed case of Ebola in the United States. “The bottom line here is that I have no doubt that we will control this importation, or this case, of Ebola so that it does not spread widely in this country.”

Frieden’s words were designed to reassure a public whose movie, television and reading fare for generations has included a killer disease – usually coming out of Africa – that spreads seemingly without end until heroic doctors fight a difficult battle that is narrowly won at the end, saving humanity.

And from the CDC, preparations in hand:

CDC and Texas Health Department Confirm First Ebola Case Diagnosed in the U.S.

  • Hospitalized patient had recently returned from West Africa; active contact tracing underway

CDC recognizes that even a single case of Ebola diagnosed in the United States raises concerns. Knowing the possibility exists, medical and public health professionals across the country have been preparing to respond. CDC and public health officials in Texas are taking precautions to identify people who have had close personal contact with the ill person, and health care professionals have been reminded to use meticulous infection control at all times.

We do know how to stop Ebola’s further spread: thorough case finding, isolation of ill people, contacting people exposed to the ill person, and further isolation of contacts if they develop symptoms. The U.S. public health and medical systems have had prior experience with sporadic cases of diseases such as Ebola. In the past decade, the United States had 5 imported cases of viral hemorrhagic fever (VHF) diseases similar to Ebola (1 Marburg, 4 Lassa). None resulted in any transmission in the United States.

CDC has been anticipating and preparing for a case of Ebola in the United States. We have been:

  • Enhancing surveillance and laboratory testing capacity in states to detect cases
  • Developing guidance and tools for health departments to conduct public health investigations
  • Providing recommendations for  healthcare infection control and other measures to prevent disease spread
  • Providing guidance for flight crews, Emergency Medical Services units at airports, and Customs and Border Protection officers about reporting ill travelers to CDC
  • Disseminating up-to-date information to the general public, international travelers, and public health partners

From CNBC, inquiring minds want to know:

What preppers are doing about Ebola

“I think that a lot of people who are involved in the preparedness community already have the supplies to handle a wide variety of crises,” said Daisy Luther, who runs The Organic Prepper blog.

“Many of us do keep pandemic supplies on hand: things like nitrile gloves, N95 and N100 masks and sanitation supplies. Others who have been aware of the need but who have not yet made the purchases will very likely be on Amazon, ordering the necessary supplies, just in case this does turn into a pandemic.”

People with closer ties to the survivalist retail world, though say they do expect to see some kind of sales bump. (Early figures from Amazon bear this out; as of Wednesday sales of a type of full-body protective suits were up 131,000 percent and sales for one type of mask had risen 18,000 percent in 24 hours. Amazon does not give actual sales figures.)

And from Taiwan, an unusual declaration via the China Post:

US Ebola report does not warrant travel alert: gov’t

There is no need to issue a health advisory against travel to the United States in the wake of the country’s first reported case of Ebola, Taiwan’s Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said Wednesday.

The public does not need to overreact as the U.S. has a well-established public health and medical care system, said CDC Deputy Director Chou Jih-haw.

Although Taiwan is not planning to issue a travel alert for the U.S., the CDC has been watching the international outbreak closely and is carrying out clinical drills nationwide, he said.

While CBC News mulls north-of-the-border anxieties:

Ebola risk low, but some infections expected, says B.C. medical officer

  • System in place to screen people arriving with symptoms from Africa

B.C.’s provincial health officer says it would not be surprising to see cases of the Ebola virus appear, but that there is no reason for alarm.

“We likely think over the next six months [we’ll] probably import a case or two, or maybe even three,” Dr. Perry Kendall told CBC News.

“But the chances of them — once they’re in hospital and isolated — infecting anybody else is slim.” The province is prepared to deal with such cases, should they arise, he said.

And the London Daily Mail highlights fear in Old Blighty:

Did US Ebola victim change flights at Heathrow? Patient flew from Liberia to Brussels but route to Dallas could have taken him through London

  • It is feared that as many as 12 Americans may have become infected through contact with the patient
  • A second male patient, who came in close contact with several children, is being watched today as his condition was upgraded to serious
  • First male patient who traveled to Dallas, Texas from Liberia is quarantined at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital
  • He is first person diagnosed with Ebola in U.S. as CDC ‘disease detectives’ arrived in Texas today to track down anyone he came in contact with
  • Patient arrived in U.S. on September 20 – after flying from Liberia via Brussels in Belgium – but did not develop symptoms until September 24
  • He attended Texas Health Presbyterian on September 26 – but was dismissed with antibiotics
  • He was rushed to hospital vomiting two days later by EMTs

Now on to the continent where the real tragedy is unfolding, first with Punch Nigeria:

Experts develop harmonised message on Ebola

Regional and international communication experts have developed a harmonised message to address the information gap in national and regional responses to the Ebola Virus Disease which has claimed more than 3,000 lives from the more than 6,000 cases reported in the West African region.

A statement by the Economic Community of West African States Commission on Wednesday in Abuja, stated that in addition to the strategic and key behaviour change messages designed to sensitise and elicit appropriate actions from targeted audiences in the Ebola affected and non-affected countries, the experts also identified appropriate channels for the transmission of the messages.

It said that the message, the outcome of a workshop in Accra held between September 29 and 30,2014, was crafted in simple, direct and action-oriented language to elicit maximum impact and responses from the target audiences for the effective prevention, containment, management and control of the deadly Ebola disease.

The statement identified the target audiences for the messages to include the public, communities, traditional and religious leaders, infected persons, their families, survivors, health workers, and border communities.

Others are educational institutions, armed and security forces, the private sector, hunters and bush meat sellers, traditional healers and birth attendants, nursing mothers, mortuary attendants and the media.

From the Thomson Reuters Foundation, collateral damage in West Africa:

W. Africa Ebola crisis hits tourism, compounds hunger in Gambia

Pestilence, cyclical droughts and floods, and the West Africa Ebola crisis have pushed hunger to record levels in Gambia, where 200,000 people need urgent food assistance, the United Nations says.

Tourism is a significant source of income for the country, and even though Gambia has not seen cases of Ebola, the outbreak in the region has caused visitor numbers to plummet by 60 percent compared to last year, said Ade Mamonyane Lekoetje, the U.N. representative for Gambia.

“In 2011-12 we had the floods and droughts, then in 2013 we had the birds eating all the crops, and now we have Ebola threatening the tourist industry, a lifeline to farmers who need to top up their household income,” Lekoetje told the Thomson Reuters Foundation at a donor gathering in Dakar.

“The government is keen to emphasise Gambia is Ebola-free,” she added, noting that the true impact of the outbreak will not be known until after the tourist high season from October to April.

After the jump, the body count in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, American boots on the ground in Liberia and a major general’s vow, Ebola hits Liberia’s army, a government near-shutdown, a pay increase and death benefit promised for public health staff, buoying hope and help in a hard-hit community, malaria and other deaths rise because of overtaxed healthcare workers — and a legislator’s daughter dies, schools remain closed, UN extends its mission to Liberia, Ebola crisis aid eases Monrovia’s deficit, then off to Sierra Leone and a hospital from hell as Ebola continues to rage, with cultural outrage over burial practices, more British financial help, and educational takes to the airwaves, then to Nigeria and an epidemic vanquished [though there’s some editorial umbrage], plus a win on the media front, a call for blood, rules for reporting, and why America’s first Ebola case sparked major rallies for two stocks. . . Continue reading

InSecurityWatch: War, malware, hacks, China


And a whole lot more.

First up, hyperbolic ramp-up; from the London Telegraph:

Theresa May: Isil will become nuclear threat if we don’t stop them

  • Home Secretary Theresa May warns Isil could acquire “chemical, biological or even nuclear weapons” in the “world’s first truly terrorist state”

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant could acquire nuclear weapons if they are allowed to consolidate their hold in Iraq and Syria, Theresa May has warned.

Isil could get hold of “chemical, biological or even nuclear weapons” in the “world’s first truly terrorist state,” the Home Secretary said, in a wide-ranging speech to the Conservative party conference.

The Home Secretary dramatically highlighted the threat to Britain from the terrorist group, which is operating “within a few hours flying time of our country”.

From BBC News, British bombs away:

RAF jets strike first IS targets in Iraq

RAF jets have attacked a “heavy weapon position” and an armed pick-up truck in Iraq, the Ministry of Defence has said.

In the first attacks since Parliament approved military action on Friday, two “precision strikes” were launched and both were “successful”, the MoD said.

The attacks, by two Tornado jets, were part of an international effort against militant group Islamic State (IS).

From the Toronto Globe and Mail, bloviation north of the border:

Canadian military intervention in Iraq is ‘noble,’ Harper says

Stephen Harper is calling Canadian military intervention in Iraq a “noble” cause as his government prepares for an expected air combat mission in the region, saying this country must respond to a direct threat from the Islamic State extremists.

“These are necessary actions, they are noble actions,” Mr. Harper said during Question Period on Tuesday. “When we think that something is necessary and noble, we don’t sit back and say that only other people should do it. The Canadian way is that you do your part.”

He promised a decision on whether and how to extend the mission in the coming days.

Reuters goes against the grain:

Special Report: Islamic State uses grain to tighten grip in Iraq

The group now controls a large chunk of Iraq’s wheat supplies. The United Nations estimates land under IS control accounts for as much as 40 percent of Iraq’s annual production of wheat, one of the country’s most important food staples alongside barley and rice. The militants seem intent not just on grabbing more land but also on managing resources and governing in their self-proclaimed caliphate.

Wheat is one tool at their disposal. The group has begun using the grain to fill its pockets, to deprive opponents – especially members of the Christian and Yazidi minorities – of vital food supplies, and to win over fellow Sunni Muslims as it tightens its grip on captured territory. In Iraq’s northern breadbasket, much as it did in neighboring Syria, IS has kept state employees and wheat silo operators in place to help run its empire.

Such tactics are one reason IS poses a more complex threat than al Qaeda, the Islamist group from which it grew. For most of its existence, al Qaeda has focused on hit-and-run attacks and suicide bombings. But Islamic State sees itself as both army and government.

From the McClatchy Washington Bureau, a drone’s-eye view:

Once targeted, Global Hawk drone now hidden weapon in U.S. airstrikes

The squabbling between the Pentagon and Capitol Hill over whether to kill the biggest of the military’s drones – the Global Hawk – is finished for the moment, with the remotely piloted surveillance aircraft and its builder emerging as the victors.

Now there’s every indication that the rise of the Islamic State has offered the pilotless wonder a chance to show its stuff.

If only its intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance activities, conducted from as high as 11 miles off the ground and on flights of up to 32 hours, weren’t classified. Pentagon officials are tight-lipped about the drone’s role in recent U.S. airstrikes in Iraq and Syria.

And next door, via the Guardian:

New Afghanistan pact means America’s longest war will last until at least 2024

  • Bilateral security deal ensures that President Obama will pass off the Afghanistan war and his new war in Iraq and Syria to his successor

The longest war in American history will last at least another decade, according to the terms of a garrisoning deal for US forces signed by the new Afghanistan government on Tuesday.

Long awaited and much desired by an anxious US military, the deal guarantees that US and Nato troops will not have to withdraw by year’s end, and permits their stay “until the end of 2024 and beyond.”

The entry into force of the deal ensures that Barack Obama, elected president in 2008 on a wave of anti-war sentiment, will pass off both the Afghanistan war and his new war in Iraq and Syria to his successor. In 2010, his vice-president, Joe Biden, publicly vowed the US would be “totally out” of Afghanistan “come hell or high water, by 2014.”

CBC News covers spooky rhetoric:

Homegrown terrorism remains biggest threat, Jeh Johnson says

  • U.S. Homeland Security secretary arrived Monday for 2-day visit, keynote speech

U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson says homegrown terrorism by previously unknown individuals is the threat that worries him the most.

Johnson, in remarks to a business audience in Ottawa today, pointed to last year’s Boston Marathon bombings as an example of terrorist threats that are difficult to predict.

In his midday speech to the Canadian American Business Council, he also spoke about measures by the U.S. government to improve the flow of good across the border while maintaining security.

Canada counts security state costs, via the Toronto Globe and Mail:

Security could drive Pan Am costs higher, minister warns

The rising cost of next year’s Pan American Games may balloon even more because of security costs, the Ontario cabinet minister in charge of the file said Tuesday.

“How can I guarantee the cost of the Games when I don’t know what the threat level is going to be?” Culture Minister Michael Coteau told a legislative committee. “I will not put a price tag on the safety of Ontarians.”

The current total for the event is $2.57-billion, of which $239-million is set aside for security. The cost of security has already grown twice from its initial estimate of $113-million. The Games will be held next summer in Toronto, Hamilton and several surrounding suburbs.

Old Blighty takes an Orwellian turn, via the Associated Press:

UK government plans curbs on nonviolent extremism

Britain’s interior minister has proposed new powers to bar people with extremist views from appearing on television or publishing on social media even if they are not breaking any laws.

Home Secretary Theresa May told a conference of the governing Conservatives that if re-elected next year the party will introduce powers to disrupt people who “spread poisonous hatred” even within the law.

May said Tuesday that only a minority of extremists are violent, but there is “a thread that binds” nonviolent extremism to terrorism.

May says tougher powers are needed to stop young people becoming radicalized. She says at least 500 Britons have traveled to Syria and Iraq, mainly to fight with militant groups.

The Associated Press embarrasses:

Germany unable to meet NATO readiness target

Germany’s military is unable to meet its medium-term readiness target should NATO call on its members to mobilize against an attack, officials said Monday.

The revelation follows days of embarrassing reports about equipment failures that included German army instructors being stranded in Bulgaria en route to Iraq when their plane broke down, and delays in sending weapons to arm Kurdish fighters because of another transport problem.

In the latest incident, the military said one of two aging C-160 aircraft flying German aid to Ebola-affected West Africa has also been grounded on the island of Gran Canaria since the weekend, awaiting repairs.

Asked about a Der Spiegel report that Germany at this juncture wouldn’t be able to offer the appropriate number of military aircraft within 180 days of an attack on the NATO alliance, Defense Ministry spokesman Jens Flosdorff confirmed that was the case.

New Europe drones on:

France, Germany to offer drones to monitor ceasefire in Ukraine

France and Germany offered to deploy drones as part of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)’s efforts to monitor Ukraine’s ceasefire, a government official said on Monday.

At a daily news briefing, Foreign Ministry’s spokesperson Romain Nadal announced “France and Germany have proposed to provide drones aimed at monitoring the ceasefire’s implementation as requested by the OSCE.”

The drone deployment proposal was being discussed, he added without elaborating.

“The cease-fire is an important opportunity to find a lasting political solution to the conflict and which respects Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Nadal noted.

A cumulus, not the fog of war, via Aviation Week & Space Technology:

Pentagon’s ‘Combat Cloud’ Concept Taking Shape

  • Pentagon envisions “combat cloud” as force multiplier for shrinking fleet

The Pentagon has been bitten by the Steve Jobs bug.

The latest vision for data-sharing across ships, aircraft and satellites—a perpetually chased but unrealized plan—is now being dubbed the “combat cloud.” And a retired U.S. Air Force officer is leading a first-of-a-kind charge to bring stakeholders from each of the services, industry and academia together to shape the cloud and attain buy-in, despite the Pentagon’s spotty track record of gaining traction on similar efforts.

Today the Air Force’s very expensive, stealthy aircraft cannot talk to its -legacy systems, and without that crosstalk the effectiveness of those investments will be marginalized. While officers are scrambling to solve the so-called “fifth-to-fourth” problem, a larger dialogue has blossomed about the objective beyond simply connecting F-22s, B-2s and F-35s to the fleet. But will this dialogue produce an executable program to buy the technology that can make the vision—eventually, the cloud—real?

The goal, likely to take a decade or more to realize, is to form an overarching network of data, each platform a node contributing information to the cloud and downloading from it, even in the heat of battle. It would include fighters, intelligence aircraft, satellites, ships and helicopters.

German victim-blaming from the Guardian:

EU’s new digital commissioner calls celebrities in nude picture leak ‘stupid’

  • Germany’s Günther Oettinger says stars who put naked photos of themselves online could not count on his protection

Former EU energy commissioner Günther Oettinger, 61, is used to accusations that he is more digitally naïve than digitally native by now. But at a hearing in front of the European parliament, the EU’s next commissioner designate for digital economy and society raised some serious questions about his suitability.

During a three-hour grilling by MEPs in Brussels, Oettinger said it would not be his job to protect stars “stupid enough to take a nude photo of themselves and put it online” – seemingly unaware that the recent leak of celebrities’ nude photographs had come about as a result of a targeted hacking attack.

Oettinger said: “We can mitigate or even eliminate some risks. But like with any technology, you can’t exclude all risks.

Maledictions enabled, via Ars Technica:

Advertising firms struggle to kill malvertisements

  • One provider finds a vulnerable advertising tool that allowed attackers access

In late September, advertisements appearing on a host of popular news and entertainment sites began serving up malicious code, infecting some visitors’ computers with a backdoor program designed to gather information on their systems and install additional malicious code.

The attack affected visitors to The Jerusalem Post, The Times of Israel, The Hindustan Times, Internet music service Last.fm, and India-focused movie portal Bollywood Hungama, among other popular sites. At the center of the malware campaign: the compromise of San Francisco-based Internet advertising network Zedo, an advertising provider for the sites, whose network was then used to distribute malicious ads.

For ten days, the company investigated multiple malware reports, retracing the attacker’s digital footsteps to identify the malicious files and shut the backdoor to its systems.

A major hack counterattack from the Guardian:

Four hackers charged with stealing $100m in US army and Xbox technology

  • Indictment unsealed on Tuesday reveals Department of Justice charged four people in international computer hacking ring

Four men have been charged with breaking into the computer systems of Microsoft, the US army and leading games manufacturers on Tuesday, as part of an alleged international hacking ring that netted more than $100m in intellectual property, the US Department of Justice said on Tuesday.

The four are alleged to have stolen Xbox technology, Apache helicopter training software and pre-release copies of games such as Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, according to an unsealed indictment. Two of the hackers pleaded guilty earlier on Tuesday, the DoJ said.

After the jump, protesting the educational memory hole, a cartel photobomb in Mexico and a protest for the disappeared, More Pakistani religious murders, forging Indo/American military alliance, FBI-initiated anti-terror raids Down Under, a large collection of items for the ongoing Occupy protests in Hong Kong [international reactions, censorship and other Beijing reactions, specultation, and more], an unofficial peace feeler from Tokyo to Beijing, China’s search for an Indian Ocean base, a major Chinese stealthy air expansion, a hate speech rebuke in Tokyo, and sniffing for bombs in sewers. . . Continue reading

EnviroWatch: Eruptions, water, nukes, losses


We begin with images, closed circuit footage of a spectacular eruption from Agence France-Presse:

CCTV footage shows Japan volcano eruption

Note:

CCTV footage captured the whole eruption of Mount Otake last Saturday, which left at least 36 people lifeless.

From the Associated Press, cannabis vs Cohoe:

Biologists identify pot gardens as salmon threat

Water use and other actions by the marijuana industry in the Emerald Triangle of Northern California and Southern Oregon are threatening salmon already in danger of extinction, federal biologists said Tuesday.

Concerns about the impact of pot farming were raised by the NOAA Fisheries Service in its final recovery plan for coho salmon in the region. The full plan was to be posted on the agency’s website.

A copy obtained in advance calls for determining then decreasing the amount of water that pot growers illegally withdraw from creeks where young fish struggle to survive.

From Want China Times, a land grab in the North:

Norway up in arms over Chinese tycoon’s Arctic ambitions

A Chinese billionaire entrepreneur who once worked for the Communist Party’s propaganda department has sparked controversy in Norway after being named as a potential buyer for a large tract of Arctic land near Longyearbyen, the capital of Norway’s northernmost territory.

Based to a report from the New York Times, Huang Nubo, a property developer and entrepreneur who heads the Beijing Zhongkun Investment Group, could end up being the new owner of the uninhabited land unless the Norwegian government can scrap together a competing bid in time to ensure that the property does not fall into foreign hands, as it had promised to do in May amid a public outcry over the mere mention of Huang’s name given a fiasco over a previous attempt to buy land to develop a resort in Iceland and knowledge of Beijing’s ambitions in the Arctic region.

Huang, 58, is currently ranked the 90th richest person in China with estimated assets of US$2.3 billion according to the Hurun Report, the “China rich list” published by Rupert Hoogewerf. He is believed to have strong ties to the Communist Party after having worked in its publicity department from 1981 to 1990.

On to the illness beat, starting with a Chinese outbreak from Global Times:

South China province sees 1, 152 new dengue fever cases

South China’s Guangdong Province reported 1,152 new cases of Dengue on Sunday, boding ill for the week-long National Day holiday that begins on Oct. 1, local health authorities announced on Monday.

The number continues rising with the total number of cases reaching 11,867, according to the provincial health and family planning commission.

A fatality was reported on Sunday in the provincial capital Guangzhou, bringing the death toll to four in the province, three in Guangzhou where 9,987 cases have been reported. The other was in adjacent Foshan city, where 1,254 cases were confirmed, according to the commission.

BBC News covers causation:

Antibiotics ‘linked to childhood obesity’

Young children who are given repeated courses of antibiotics are at greater risk than those who use fewer drugs of becoming obese, US researchers say.

The JAMA Pediatrics report found children who had had four or more courses by the age of two were at a 10% higher risk of being obese.

But scientists warn this does not show antibiotics cause obesity directly and recommend children continue using them. Many more studies are needed to explain the reasons behind the link, they say.

From TheLocal.ch, taxing all for corporate contamination:

National tax planned to cut water micropollutants

Starting in 2016, an annual tax of up to nine francs ($9.43) per resident will help finance equipment in around 100 sewage treatment plants across Switzerland to remove microscopic pollutants from lakes and rivers, the federal government announced on Tuesday.

Revenues from the tax will finance 75 percent of the cost of the measures called for in new national legislation to protect water from pollution, the government said.

The new facilities will be installed at existing purification plants to remove micropollutants originating from products such as drugs, hormones, cosmetics or insecticides that even in small quantities can have an adverse impact on fish and other aquatic life.

Existing plants are unable to screen out the microscopic pollutants.

Another contaminant, another affliction form Environmental Health News:

Water contaminant linked to children’s low IQs

Babies born to mothers with high levels of perchlorate during their first trimester are more likely to have lower IQs later in life, according to a new study.

The research is the first to link pregnant women’s perchlorate levels to their babies’ brain development. It adds to evidence that the drinking water contaminant may disrupt thyroid hormones, which are crucial for proper brain growth.

Perchlorate, which is both naturally occurring and manmade, is used in rocket fuel, fireworks and fertilizers. It has been found in 4 percent of U.S. public water systems serving an estimated 5 to 17 million people, largely near military bases and defense contractors in the U.S. West, particularly around Las Vegas and in Southern California.

On to the endangered Latin American environment, first with the Guardian:

Nicaragua canal will wreak havoc on forests and displace people, NGO warns

  • Forests of the World says shipping firms must pressure Nicaragua and Chinese backer to limit canal’s impact

Shipping firms should pressure the Nicaraguan government and the Chinese backer of a proposed canal to ensure that the project does not force indigenous people off their land and inflict massive environmental damage on the country’s ecosystem, an environmental advocacy group has urged.

The proposed 178-mile waterway seeks to rival the Panama canal by offering an alternative Atlantic-Pacific passage which cuts voyage times. Construction is scheduled to begin in December with $50bn (£31bn) funding from the Hong Kong Nicaragua Canal Development Investment Company (HKND), which is owned by Chinese lawyer Wang Jing.

But Danish NGO Forests of the World has accused the Nicaraguan government and HKND of failing to involve indigenous people in the planning process, saying the canal will wreak havoc on forests and force people to move.

“The canal is to be built straight through the Rama and Kriol territory, fragmenting it into two parts,” said Claus Kjaerby, Central America representative at Forests of the World. “It’s just like if someone wanted to build a bicycle trail through your garden and they do not consult with you.”

And the second, from Al Jazeera America:

Oil in the Amazon: Who stands to win and lose?

  • In eastern Ecuador, unemployment is high despite the area’s oil boom, which could also endanger rainforest biodiversity

Yasuni National Park is unique. It’s regarded as one of the world’s most biodiverse places. A refuge to more than 20 types of endangered mammals, just 2 ½ acres of its Amazonian forest contains more than 100,000 species of insects, and is home to nearly as many kinds of trees and shrubs as there are in the United States and Canada, combined.

In 2007, Ecuador’s government announced it wouldn’t drill for oil in an untouched section of Yasuni, what’s known as the ITT block. In exchange for leaving the oil in the ground, President Rafael Correa demanded $3.6 billion from developed countries. But Ecuador received just $13 million. Last year, Correa announced oil extraction would go ahead.

Since then, oil companies have been busy surveying Yasuni’s ITT block, with plans to start drilling in 2016. Correa says the project will help alleviate poverty, but members of the Waorani tribe, which has lived in the Amazon for centuries, say the drilling will disrupt their way of life. Scientists, meanwhile, say they’re concerned about the park’s fragile ecosystem.

The Independent covers another water tragedy, a sea starved for decades by irrigation for a Soviet-era industrial cotton scheme:

The Aral Sea: Nasa pictures show how what was once the fourth largest lake in the world has become almost completely dry

It was once the fourth largest lake in the world, but what used to be an expanse of water in the basin of the Kyzylkum Desert now lies almost completely dry.

The Aral Sea has been retreating over the last half-century since a massive Soviet irrigation project diverted water from the rivers that fed it into farmland.

Images taken from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer on Nasa’s Terra satellite have now depicted how since the turn of the century the lake has increasingly shrunk until this year saw its eastern lobe dry up completely.

After the jump, the vanishing Mexican maize gene pool, a Chinese pro-GMO propaganda push, preparing Los Angeles for the Big One, Fukushimapocalypse Now! — first with exclusion reduced, hot waste plans revealed and other plans delayed, volcanic nuclear anxiety, a longer wait for a long-awaited restart, Anglo/Japanese decommissioning alliance, firing up alternatives, and payment for a bitter Navajo uranium mining legacy. . . Continue reading

EbolaWatch: Warnings, aid, improv, anxiety


First the latest estimate [PDF] of cases in the hardest hit countries from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control:

BLOG Ebola

Next, an African Ebola update from CCTV Africa:

Ebola: Efforts to Contain the Virus Intensified

Program notes:

There have been several developments when it comes to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa – including fresh warnings and more international assistance. Susan Mwongeli reports

From Monrovia, Liberia, the Inquirer seeks to allay anxieties:

U.S. Troops Not Here To Unseat Gov’t…Ambassador Refutes Rumor

United States Ambassador, Deborah R. Malac, has clarified that the United States Army is in Liberia to help the Government of Liberia fight the deadly Ebola virus and not to unseat the present government.

Addressing a news conference held at the United States Embassy in Monrovia yesterday, Ambassador Malac disclosed that the U.S. Army has come with additional capacity to join with other international partners to fight the disease.

Also speaking, Major General Darryl Williams, Commanding General/Joint Forces Command, United Assistance said the numbers of US soldiers are in Liberia to fill the gap and accomplish the mission that they came for.

More from FrontPageAfrica:

‘A Deadly Foe’, Man Leading U.S. Liberia Ebola Mission Declares

Monrovia – The man leading the United States of America military wing in the fight against the deadly Ebola Joint Task Force Command, United Assistance, Maj. General Darryl A. Williams said his men have been working with members of the Armed Forces of Liberia to accelerate Liberia’s response to the deadly Ebola virus. JTFC Maj. Gen. Williams speaking at a news conference at the U.S. Embassy in Monrovia said the U.S. military in West Africa is working in a support role, bringing its unique ability to organizations that have been in Liberia fighting the Ebola virus disease for months.

He said the lead US federal agency in this response is the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). “As our military forces continue to flow in, we will continue to work together, so that we compliment each other’s abilities and efforts to support the government of Liberia,” he said.

“We will also be partnering with the Armed Forces of Liberia and they’re eager to help their fellow countrymen. Our soldiers, sailors, airmen, marine, are working side by side with our Liberian Host and build on our already special relationship.”

From the Japan Times, Liberian aid arrives:

U.S. Ebola labs, parts for clinic arrive in Liberia

U.S. mobile Ebola labs should be up and running in Liberia this week and American troops have broken ground for a field hospital as the international community races to increase the ability to care for the spiraling number of people infected with the dreaded disease.

Liberia is the hardest-hit country in the largest-ever Ebola outbreak, which has touched four other West African countries. More than 3,000 deaths have been linked to the disease across the region, according to the World Health Organization, in the largest outbreak ever.

But even that toll is likely an underestimate, partially because there aren’t enough labs to test people for Ebola. WHO has warned that numbers for Liberia, in particular, have lagged behind reality because it takes so long to get test results back.

From the Inquirer in Monrovia, more aid, domemtically supplied:

Gov’t Brings In 12 Ambulances…As Ebola Now Reaches The 15 Counties

The Ebola Case Management head and Assistant Health Minister for Preventive Service, Mr. Tolbert Nyenswah, has disclosed that 12 Ambulances recently procured by the Government of Liberia (GOL) are promptly responding to the Ebola outbreak in the country.

Minister Nyenswah said the response effort is ongoing well and it is sure that Ebola will be eradicated now that patients are being transported safely to the various Ebola Treatment Units (ETUs).

Nyenswah who was addressing the daily Ebola Press Conference at the Ministry of Information yesterday said government will soon trace and identify Ebola patients as part of the ongoing fight against the menace.

Minister Nyenswah said currently the testing of Ebola patients has increased to 300 daily as a means of speeding up treatment and response.

The NewDawn in Liberia covers another cash infusion:

Liberia gets US$11.4 Million from ADB

The African Development Bank has provided a grant of US$11.4 Million to the Government of Liberia in support of its current fight against the deadly Ebola virus.

Deputy Health Minister for Preventive Services, Tolbert Nyenswah, has described the bank’s gesture as timely. Minister Nyenswah said portion of the money will be used to construct community care centers in Ebola hit communities around the country.

He noted that there have been some improvements in combating the virus since international partners like the African Development Bank, World Bank, and IMF begun providing financial aid to Liberia. Signing for the grant on behalf of the Liberian government, Finance Minister Amara Konneh, thanked the bank for the money.

CBC News covers another cause for anxiety:

Ebola virus in Liberia creates body recovery dangers

  • Workers struggle to gather and dispose of corpses as outbreak spreads

It’s a sad fact of life in Monrovia, Liberia, these days.

The wail of an ambulance siren doesn’t mean help is on the way. More often than not, it signals that a convoy carrying the “dead body management team” is about to arrive.

On Monday, CBC News rode along in one of those convoys. The weather was miserable. The task at hand was even more so.

Voice of America covers frustration:

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

In order to avoid human-to-human transmission of the deadly Ebola virus, the Liberian government temporarily closed schools, universities and other major public gathering points some months ago. Without the prospect of going back to school any time soon, hundreds of students took to the streets of Monrovia  Monday to express their frustration.

For any employer, it’s good times in Liberia. Thousands of young educated but idle people abound since schools and universities have been closed for months. So it was no problem for Department of Children and Family director, Victor Fayah, to do recruiting for a non-paying job.

“We received the first 2,000 people and now we’re above 4,200 people,” Fayah said. “There is more people still coming in with their CV [resume] willing to go to all the counties, to go to the rural villages, to walk even, eight hours walk to get to some villages, to talk to our people in their language that they can understand, the best way that they can understand the issue of Ebola.”

And FrontPageAfrica covers improvisation [and do see the pictures at the link]:

Creative Danger: Liberians Use Artificial PPE to Aid Ebola Patients

With four ambulances lineup at the Medicine San Frontier-MSF run Ebola Treatment Unit (ETU) also known as ELWA-3, Lawrence Paye and four others arrived with their sick relative, wearing artificial Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) made of plastic bags.

They had come from the Fendell Community, few kilometers from Monrovia, taking mater in their hands after efforts to get an ambulance to pick up their sick relative failed for two days, as Paye, the husband to the sick Comfort Togbah explained.

With the ETU workers yet to admit patients from the four parked ambulances, into the center on a rainy afternoon, a yellow bus showed up with Comfort who was bleeding from the mouth, one of the symptoms of the acute stage of the Ebola virus, unable to walk as her brother fed her with water.

Since the outbreak of the deadly virus in Liberia, donations from local and international organizations including individuals have been forthcoming. China has so far donated thousands of Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) and other countries have made donations in materials in an attempt to equip health workers to fight the virus but without PPEs in homes, Liberians are finding a way out to help sick relatives.

With health facilities overwhelmed by the number of patients ambulances have not been able to collect sick people from various communities as in many instances, calls are made for up to three days or even more before an ambulance shows up to pick a sick. Paye along with two other men and a lady created a scene to watch for many onlookers when they disembarked the bus wearing the artificial PPEs which they used to cover their hands, feet and heads.

Deutsche Welle covers a promise:

UN Ebola chief vows swift progress in fighting outbreak

The UN’s Ebola response chief has vowed to achieve significant progress within 60 days. UNICEF, meanwhile, has warned thousands of children who have lost parents to the epidemic are at risk of being shunned by relatives.

The UN Ebola mission head, Tony Banbury, told reporters on Tuesday that swift action would be taken in combating the Ebola crisis.

“We don’t know how long it will take. We hope to do it as fast as possible and to close the UNMEER (UN Mission on Ebla Emergency Response) as quickly as possible,” Banbury said, speaking at the headquarters of the United Nations mission in Accra, Ghana.

“Seventy percent of infected people need to be under treatment, 70 percent of burials need to be done in a safe way in order to turn this around and we need to do it in 60 days,” Banbury said.

“It’s an extremely … ambitious target and the only way it will be achieved is through this international effort,” he added.

While the Thomson Reuters Foundation sounds a warning from a familiar name:

Bill Gates warns Ebola could spread beyond West Africa

It is impossible to guess whether world leaders have done enough to bring the Ebola epidemic under control, given the risks that it will spread to countries beyond West Africa, the technology billionaire and philanthropist Bill Gates said on Monday.

Countries should get ready to handle a possible outbreak of the deadly hemorrhagic fever in case it spreads further as people from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea move across borders, Gates said at a breakfast meeting sponsored by the newspaper Politico and Bank of America.

“Because of that uncertainty, I am not going to hazard a guess,” Gates said when asked whether he thinks the massive ramping up of international aid over the past few weeks is enough.

The Sun Nigeria covers another development:

Lagos ready to fund research on Ebola

  • … As Fashola challenges Iwu, others

Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola, yesterday, said the state government is prepared to provide funds required to carry out research that can lead to finding cure for the deadly Ebola virus disease (EVD).Speaking during the disbursement of grants to 31 beneficiaries whose research proposals had been approved by the Lagos State Research and Development Council, the governor specifically challenged Prof. Maurice Iwu to come up with a lucid proposal on his Bitter Kola theory, saying the state government would be willing to sponsor it.

Fashola also challenged scholars and researchers in the country to move beyond title earning to contributing meaningfully to the development of the country through their researches.

He said professors, Phd holders and other scholars were respected not because of the finery of their titles but because of their intelligence and what they have to offer the society.

And Punch Nigeria covers a settlement:

Bayelsa, NUT face-off ends, teachers begin Ebola training

The face-off between the National Union of Teachers, Bayelsa State chapter, and the state government over resumption date appears to have been resolved.

The teachers’ umbrella body in the state had vowed not to resume schools until the teachers were equipped and trained about measures to tackle the dreaded Ebola virus.

On Tuesday, teachers resumed schools after the government commenced training of no fewer than 484 teachers on preventive measures against the dreaded EVD.

While IRIN focus on the media:

Ebola and the media – Nigeria’s good news story

At 67 million users, Nigeria reportedly has the eighth largest Internet population in the world. It also had close to 166 million mobile subscribers as of June. (The country’s population is 175 million.)

With so many Nigerians online, portals like ebolalert.org set up by volunteer doctors, and the public/private ebolafacts.com initiative, have become important channels to provide accurate information to help people stay safe. They complement telephone hotlines and more traditional public health approaches.

The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has also taken a role in the communications work on Ebola, using the SMS portal UReport. UReport Nigeria is a free SMS platform designed as a community-based two-way information exchange mechanism. According to UNICEF Communications Specialist Geoffrey Njoku, over 57,000 people received more than 3.6 million SMS containing key messages about Ebola and how to stay protected over a six-week period.

The bottom line: Good news from the New York Times:

Ebola Outbreak in Nigeria Appears to Be Over

With quick and coordinated action by some of its top doctors, Africa’s most populous country seems to have beaten its first Ebola outbreak, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday.

Since the first patient — a dying Liberian-American — flew into Lagos, Nigeria, on July 20, the disease spread to 20 other people in two cities, who had contact with nearly 900 others. But every known case has now died or recovered, and the cure rate was unusually high for an African outbreak. Virtually all the contacts have passed the incubation period without falling ill.

The success was in part due to the existence of an emergency command center paid for by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to fight polio. As soon as the outbreak began, it was turned into the Ebola Emergency Operations Center.

But the good news hasn’t stopped preventative efforts, and screening at ports has just been implemented, reports Agence France-Presse:

Ebola screening for ships’ crews in Nigeria

Program notes:

Health officials have begun the screening of cargo ship crews transiting through Nigeria to prevent cross border transmission of Ebola through sea and cargo ports.

Another screening program, via Voice of America:

Guinea Intensifies Ebola Screening at Sierra Leone Border

Guinean security forces are intensifying their Ebola screening efforts at the border with Sierra Leone.

At the Madina Oula town crossing, people are subjected to rigorous health checks.  Guinean security forces check for fever and instruct all travelers to wash their hands with soap before entering Guinea.

Kindia, the district capital, is a short distance away – just 150 kilometers from the Guinean capital of Conakry.

From BuzzFeed, a tragic consequence:

Thousands Of Children Orphaned By Ebola Have Been Rejected By Their Relatives And Communities

  • At least 3,700 children in West Africa have lost one or both parents to Ebola, according to UNICEF

More than 3,000 people have died in the deadly Ebola outbreak plaguing West Africa, according to the World Health Organization. The crisis is worsening in Sierra Leone, with over 2 million people under quarantine.

UNICEF said it is working with authorities in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea to help train medical and mental health workers to provide care and support to children who have been rejected by their communities as well as to quarantined children.

The organization said it was also working to reunite separated children with their families. UNICEF will also provide about 60,000 vulnerable children and families in Guinea with psychosocial support.

From TheLocal.se, another European non-infection:

Stockholm patient tests negative after Ebola fears

A patient in a Stockholm hospital who was suspected of having contracted the Ebola virus was given the all clear on Tuesday morning.

“We’ve analysed the tests and we can announce that the person has not contracted Ebola,” Åke Örtqvist, spokesperson for doctors dealing with infectious diseases in the Stockholm region, said in a statement.

The case marked the fifth suspected case in Sweden since the virus started spreading rapidly in Africa earlier this year, all of which has been proven negative.

And to close whilst on the subject of fears, what about those anxieties certain to afflict those who have volunteered to fight the disease? From the National:

What to expect when returning from West Africa

Program notes:

Dr. Tim Jagatic, from Doctors Without Borders, shares his advice for coming home after working in an Ebola outbreak zone.

Profiteering banksters and European separatism


From the Real News Network, a Mike McGuire interview Benedictine nun and theologist Sister Teresa Forcades, a physician with a doctorate in public health who is a prominent activist in the movement to detach Catalonia from Spain.

The focus is on the role banksters and the austerian neoliberal Eurocrats who have enabled their rampage of looting in Southern Europe.

From The Real News Network:

Spanish Independence Movements and the Recolonization of Southern Europe

From the transcript:

MCGUIRE: And it’s not just in Catalonia. It’s all over Spain. The context where this exchange of money is happening is also one of devastatingly high unemployment, especially among youth, correct?

FORCADES: Right. I can give you the numbers. It’s–like, general unemployment rate is greater than 25 percent–that’s one-fourth, one of every four people. But among young people it’s 50 percent, so one out of every two. And this is also in the context, as I said, of a situation that makes this social precariousness, right, go worse because of the political decisions that are being made. Yes, that’s right.

And also I wanted to add something, which is, when we speak of this crisis, right, we have to remember that in Spain the total debt at the beginning of the crisis, 2007, was–public debt was only 19 percent. That’s less than the U.S. debt, much less than that, and, actually, one of the lowest in the whole Europe. So this idea that Spain had not done the things right and that’s why the state itself had such a big debt, that’s not true. It had a 19 percent debt. The 81 percent was private debt, and that is, of course, not only banks–also private families, small businesses.. But that’s a very minor part of the private debt. So the greatest, more than 90 percent of the private debt, which is 81 percent of the total debt, that was big institutions, big corporations, and particularly banking institutions.

So the decision was made: like in the States, also here the banks were rescued, at a greater cost, or really great cost. So in Spain, the same thing, right? We cannot let these big institutions fall, because everybody would fall after them. So now we’re going to do this operation of giving money to them. We don’t have the money; we have to lend the money from the European bank. And then [in comes (?)] this mechanism that I explained. So that is what has happened, and many people, as I said, think this should be reversed.

And so we, in our movement, but also many other movements, are calling for something similar to what has happened in Ecuador with President Correa, which is they also were under the debt that actually precluded the evolution or the growth of the country, because such a great percentage of their total gain were needed to pay the interests of the debt, right? That’s a perverse mechanism. Actually, I think in truth we can call that a slavery mechanism. And that is what we now have agreed to, right, as a country.

EnviroWatch: Illness, climate, nukes, & fuels


And so much more.

We begin with a mysterious outbreak here in the U.S. via the Washington Post:

CDC probing reports of paralysis in 9 Colorado children, including some with Enterovirus 68

Several children in Colorado, including some that have tested positive for the Enterovirus 68 respiratory illness, also reported neurological symptoms including muscle weakness and paralysis.

Colorado health officials say nine children were identified between Aug. 8 and Sept. 17 after they developed neurological symptoms that are not commonly associated with Enterovirus 68, which causes severe breathing problems particularly in children with pre-existing asthma or respiratory problems.

That virus has been confirmed in the District of Columbia and all but 10 states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and it has sickened more than 277 people, mostly children.

A video report from WTHR television:

Mystery illness gives Colorado kids polio-like symptoms

The Japan Times covers the ongoing outbreak in Japan:

Another type of dengue virus found in Japan

The government said Monday that a man in Shizuoka Prefecture is infected with a dengue virus that has a different genetic sequence than the virus first detected in Japan in August.

The finding indicates that the new-type virus arrived in Japan via someone other than the person carrying the virus that infected several people through mosquitoes, mainly at Yoyogi Park in central Tokyo.

The man in his 20s was identified Sept. 18 as having developed a dengue symptom on Sept. 10. But the site of his infection has not been fixed as he said he visited Tokyo in early September and was bitten by a mosquito Sept. 9 or 10 in the eastern part of Shizuoka Prefecture.

The Latin American Herald Tribune covers a lethal outbreak on another island:

Chikungunya Kills 3 in Puerto Rico

Three people in Puerto Rico have died after being infected with the Chikungunya virus, Health Department chief epidemiologist Brenda Rivera Garcia said.

Two of the dead were residents of greater San Juan, while the third lived in the northeastern coastal town of Fajardo. Health authorities are investigating two other fatalities to determine if the Chikungunya virus was the cause.

There have been more than 2,000 confirmed cases of Chikungunya in Puerto Rico, though health officials suspect the actual number is higher, pointing out that the symptoms are similar to those of dengue fever.

From the Express Tribune, rising numbers in a Pakistani outbreak:

10 more cases of polio reported as national total rises to 184

Even as vaccination drives kicked off in various parts of the country on Monday, a government official confirmed that ten more polio cases have been reported from different parts of the country.

An official from the health ministry said the polio cases were tested at the polio virology laboratory at National Institute of Health (NIH) and then confirmed.

The official added with these 10 cases, the year’s total has risen to 184. Of these, 127 cases were reported from Fata, 33 from K-P, 17 from Sindh, two from Punjab and five from Balochistan.

And the threat of contagion in Uganda from the Daily Monitor in Kampala:

Government has only 3,000 TB vaccines

Children in Uganda are likely to miss the Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine which protects them against TB – at least until the production issues at the global level are sorted.

According to the Uganda National Expanded Programme for Immunisation (UNEPI) manager, Dr Robert Mayanja, the country has been experiencing a shortage since the beginning of 2014.

But the shortage is expected to escalate in the coming months after receiving only 300,000 out of 1.8 million doses of the vaccine they had ordered for the last quarter of 2014.

TheLocal.dk covers an outbreak concealed:

Officials kept yet another food scandal secret

Up to 130 people, including a three-year-old boy, may have gotten ill from salmonella in ground beef in an outbreak that was kept hidden from the public until now.

Metroxpress obtained access to documents that reveal that ground beef infected with multi resistant salmonella was sold by the Vejen-based food company Skare in June.

Skare delivered the beef to stores on June 13th but did not recall it as required by law when an analysis the following day found the presence of salmonella.

The latest numbers from another disaster in Japan via the Associated Press:

5 more bodies found at Japan volcano; toll now 36

Toxic gases and ash from still-erupting Mount Ontake forced Japanese rescue workers to call off the search for more victims Monday as dozens of relatives awaited news of their family members.

Rescuers found five more bodies near the summit of the volcano, bringing the death toll to 36. They have managed to airlift only 12 bodies off the mountain since the start of the eruption on Saturday because of dangerous conditions.

How the victims died remains unclear, though experts say it was probably from suffocating ash, falling rocks, toxic gases or some combination of them. Some of the bodies had severe contusions.

More from the Asahi Shimbun:

Experts warn of second eruption on Mt. Ontakesan

Volcanologists warned that Mount Ontakesan could erupt again, based on the continuing fumes rising from the crater and the volcanic earthquakes that keep jolting the area.

The Japan Meteorological Agency’s committee of volcanologists said Sept. 28 that the eruption the previous day was a phreatic one that released a column of smoke as high as 7,000 meters from the 3,067-meter peak and sent a pyroclastic flow of relatively low temperature down the mountain slope. At least four climbers were killed on the mountain, which straddles Nagano and Gifu prefectures.

The Coordinating Committee for Prediction of Volcanic Eruption said an eruption of a similar scale could take place on Mount Ontakesan, although it would probably not be a major magmatic eruption, which releases magma from the mountain surface. The committee said there are no signs of crustal deformities caused by magma rising through a volcanic vent.

From the Associated Press, climate change symptoms:

Global warming linked to several extreme weather events

  • Better computer models help determine odds of events increasing because of climate change

Scientists looking at 16 cases of wild weather around the world last year see the fingerprints of man-made global warming on more than half of them.

Researchers found that climate change increased the odds of nine extremes: Heat waves in Australia, Europe, China, Japan and Korea, intense rain in parts of the United States and India, and severe droughts in California and New Zealand. The California drought, though, comes with an asterisk.

Organized by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, researchers on Monday published 22 studies on 2013 climate extremes in a special edition of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.

More from the Oakland Tribune:

Drought linked to greenhouse gases, climate change

Stanford study concludes California’s extraordinary drought is linked to the abundance of greenhouse gases created by burning fossil fuels. It is one of the most comprehensive studies to investigate the connection between climate change and California’s ongoing drought.

California’s extraordinary drought is linked to the abundance of greenhouse gases created by burning fossil fuels and clearing forests, according to a major new paper Stanford scientists released Monday morning.

The new study used a combination of computer simulations and statistical techniques to show that the high pressure system parked over the Pacific Ocean — diverting storms away from California — is much more likely to form in the presence of concentrations of greenhouse gases.

“Our research finds that extreme atmospheric high pressure in this region — which is strongly linked to unusually low precipitation in California — is much more likely to occur today than prior to the human emission of greenhouse gases that began during the Industrial Revolution in the 1800s,” said Stanford climate scientist Noah Diffenbaugh, associate professor of Environmental Earth System Science at Stanford, in a prepared statement.

The Sacramento Bee covers one consequence:

California harvest much smaller than normal across crops

It’s harvest time in much of California, and the signs of drought are almost as abundant as the fruits and nuts and vegetables.

One commodity after another is feeling the impact of the state’s epic water shortage. The great Sacramento Valley rice crop, served in sushi restaurants nationwide and exported to Asia, will be smaller than usual. Fewer grapes will be available to produce California’s world-class wines, and the citrus groves of the San Joaquin Valley are producing fewer oranges. There is less hay and corn for the state’s dairy cows, and the pistachio harvest is expected to shrink.

Even the state’s mighty almond business, which has become a powerhouse in recent years, is coming in smaller than expected. That’s particularly troubling to the thousands of farmers who sacrificed other crops in order to keep their almond orchards watered.

Global Times covers other water woes:

Police investigate into polluters in East China

Three chemical factories found illegally dumping wastewater into city sewage systems and the sea have had their cases turned over to police.

After being investigated and fined by the local environment authorities,the three factories in Lianyungang city in East China’s Jiangsu Province will now be probed for possible criminal charges. In one case, a company built its own pipelines to dump toxic wastewater into the sea.

The three cases are very serious and have left a large environmental impact, said a statement by the Ministry of Environmental Protection released in Beijing on Monday.

While the Guardian has some rare good news on the endangered species front:

‘Extinct’ cat-sized chinchilla found alive in shadows of Machu Picchu

  • Living arboreal chinchilla rat thought to have been extinct is tracked down in Peruvian cloud forests, reports Mongabay

Below one of the most famous archaeological sites in the world, scientists have made a remarkable discovery: a living, cat-sized mammal that until now was only known from fossils.

The Machu Picchu arboreal chinchilla rat (Cuscomys oblativa) was first described from two enigmatic skulls discovered in Incan pottery sculpted 400 years ago.

Dug up by Hiram Bingham in 1912, the skulls were believed to belong to a species that went extinct even before Francisco Pizarro showed up in Peru with his motley army. Then in 2009, park ranger Roberto Quispe found what was believed to be a living Machu Picchu arboreal chinchilla rat near the original archaeological site.

But BBC News immediately dampens any exuberance:

World wildlife populations halved in 40 years – report

The global loss of species is even worse than previously thought, the London Zoological Society (ZSL) says in its new Living Planet Index.

The report suggests populations have halved in 40 years, as new methodology gives more alarming results than in a report two years ago.

The report says populations of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish have declined by an average of 52%.

Populations of freshwater species have suffered an even worse fall of 76%.

More endangerment from the New York Times:

UN Experts Say World’s Mangrove Forests at Risk

U.N. experts are warning that the world’s mangrove forests are being destroyed at a more rapid rate than other forest ecosystems because of land conversion, development and pollution.

A U.N. Environment Program report presented Monday said mangroves are disappearing three to five times faster than other forests. It said by 2050, southeast Asia could potentially lose 35 percent of the mangroves it had in 2000.

Described in the report as one of the world’s most threatened ecosystems, mangrove forests mitigate global warming by trapping vast quantities of carbon that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere.

Still more grim news from the Guardian:

World Bank accuses itself of failing to protect Kenya forest dwellers

  • Leaked document says World Bank violated its own safeguards in dealings with Sengwer people evicted from their lands

A leaked copy of a World Bank investigation seen by the Guardian has accused the bank of failing to protect the rights of one of Kenya’s last groups of forest people, who are being evicted from their ancestral lands in the name of climate change and conservation.

Thousands of homes belonging to hunter-gatherer Sengwer people living in the Embobut forest in the Cherangani hills were burned down earlier this year by Kenya forest service guards who had been ordered to clear the forest as part of a carbon offset project that aimed to reduce emissions from deforestation.

The result has been that more than 1,000 people living near the town of Eldoret have been classed as squatters and forced to flee what they say has been government harassment, intimidation and arrest.

CIP Americas Program covers another grab of the commons:

Yaqui Tribal Authority’s Jailing in Water Conflict Signals Need to Implement Environmental Justice

Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico — The Sept. 11 jailing of Yoeme (Yaqui) Traditional Tribal Secretary Mario Luna Romero was a wake-up call for environmental and human rights defenders globally.

Symptomatic of escalating repression against indigenous community members who refuse to conform with free trade’s increasing demand for resources, Luna’s arrest on allegedly false charges sparked widespread grassroots response and highlighted the imperative of forging a united front against further abuses of environmental activists.

The most visible leader of the Yoeme resistance to Sonora Gov. Guillermo Padrés Elías illegal aqueduct construction project to divert Yaqui River water from its rightfully entitled users in the tribe’s eight villages, Luna immediately declared himself a political prisoner.

After the jump, the latest chapter of Fukushimapocalypse Now!, including another breakdown of water containment systems, enduring radiation hazards, a major increase of laborers on the scene, a major anti-nuclear protest coupled by a major push to reopen other nuclear plants, a fuel recycling plant closure to come, a drive for nuclear power in emerging economies, another fuel, another problem in North Dakota, tar sands pipeline pushback in Nebraska, looming disappointment for Chinese fracking, and predictions of a solar boom. . . Continue reading