Category Archives: Resources

EbolaWatch: Alarms, shortages, communities


We open with the apocryphal via the London Daily Mail:

U.S. scientists say Ebola epidemic will rage for another 12 to 18 months

  • U.S. scientists say the Ebola crisis is worsening
  • They predict the virus will rage for another 12 to 18 months
  • As of September 7, there had been 4,366 Ebola cases including 2,218 deaths, more than half of them in Liberia
  • The most recent figures from Liberia reported 400 new cases as of September 7 – almost double the number reported the previous week

Epidemiologists have been creating computer models of the Ebola epidemic for the National Institutes of Health and the Defense Department.

The model they have created is a far less optimistic estimate than that of the World Health Organization (WHO), which last month said it hoped to contain the outbreak within nine months and 20,000 total cases.

The McClatchy Foreign Staff covers tragic contribution:

UN: Doctors, nurses play role in both treating, spreading Ebola

Margaret Chan, director-general of the World Health Organization, told reporters Friday at the agency’s headquarters in Geneva that “the number of new patients is moving faster than the capacity to manage them.” She said the world health community needs three to four times as many resources at it has committed “to catch up with the outbreaks.”

As of Friday, 4,784 people have fallen ill with Ebola, of whom more than 2,400 have died, she said. The most affected countries are Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia, where, Chan said, “there is not a single bed available for an Ebola patient in the entire country.”

Sarah Crowe, an official of the U.N. Children’s Fund, better known as UNICEF, said there were 370 beds occupied by Ebola victims in Liberia. “There’s a real sense this virus is taking over the whole country,” she said via a teleconference hookup from Monrovia, the Liberian capital.

Chan said the WHO still is seeking 500 to 600 doctors from abroad and at least 1,000 more nurses to dispatch to Africa to counter the epidemic. But with 301 health workers known to be infected with the virus _ almost half of whom have died _ finding volunteers has been difficult.

StarAfrica covers the military front:

ECOWAS defence chiefs join anti-Ebola crusade

Regional security chiefs in West Africa have made a joint declaration, registering their unequivocal backing for the ongoing crusade against the Ebola epidemic which has ravaged the region since February.In a statement on Sunday, the ECOWAS Committee of Chiefs of Defence Staff (CCDS) described the outbreak as a threat to regional security which requires an emergency response.

The CCDS said every material and human resource must be deployed in the campaign to banish the disease from West Africa where some 2, 400 people have died as the epidemic goes on the rampage in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria.

“The military is ever ready and always the first to respond to any emergency such as this outbreak, which is a threat to regional security,” the CCDS declared.

The Guardian covers another casualty:

Ebola outbreak: fourth doctor dies in Sierra Leone

  • Country, which has a shortage of healthcare workers, asked for Dr Olivet Buck to be treated abroad but was turned down

Sierra Leone has lost a fourth doctor to Ebola after efforts to transfer her abroad for treatment failed, a government official said Sunday.

The death is a huge setback to the impoverished country, which is battling the virulent disease amid a shortage of healthcare workers.

Dr Olivet Buck died late Saturday, hours after the World Health Organisation (WHO) said it could not help medically evacuate her to Germany, Sierra Leone’s chief medical officer Dr Brima Kargbo confirmed to the Associated Press.

Sierra Leone had requested funds from WHO to transport Buck to Europe, saying the country could not afford to lose another doctor. WHO said it could not meet the request but instead would work to give Buck “the best care possible” in Sierra Leone, including possible access to experimental drugs.

From the Washington Post, the sad reality:

As Ebola cases accelerate, Liberia’s sick must fend for themselves.

With each day, the small group of caregivers trying to cope with the worst outbreak of Ebola on record falls further and further behind as the pace of the virus’s transmission rapidly accelerates. Health facilities are full, and an increasing number of infected people are being turned away, left to fend for themselves.

The epidemic has killed more than 2,200 people in five African countries and now poses a threat to Liberia’s “national existence,” according to its defense minister. The World Health Organization says the epidemic’s growth has been “exponential” in recent weeks, especially in Liberia.

The Doctors Without Borders center in Paynesville, on the outskirts of Monrovia, has 160 beds and is scheduled to add 25 on Monday. It needs 1,200 — and a corresponding increase in staff — to cope with the epidemic, said Sophie-Jane Madden, a spokeswoman for the organization. As Ebola begins to race through this city, that number is certain to increase.

“We’re just running behind the virus, aren’t we?” Madden said. “And taking the sickest people because we don’t have the capacity” for more. On Friday, 23 people were admitted, 25 were turned away, nine died and seven were released after recovering, she said.

From the Liberian Observer, local initiative:

Alfalit, LGM Ebola Staff Storm Johnsonville Community

  • Promises Solid Structures for Ebola Burial Site Hand washing Reservoir

Phase 2 of Alfalit-Liberia and Liberia/Ghana Missions Ebola virus outreach drive support kicked off last week, leading staff and officials of the entities to storm the Johnsonville community with sensitization and awareness messages.

In an emotional encounter with the weary Ebola news residents and officials last Thursday, the group donated 300 bags of safe drinking water and awareness T-shirts as initial assistance.

The LGM and Alfalit-Liberia’s officials were quick to disclose that following intensive discussions among members of the leadership, the entities decided to construct a solid structure to memorialize the Ebola virus dead bodies.

Besides, the officials also promised to make available 1000 bags of pure drinking water to residents and citizens of Johnsonville Community up to December 31, 2014 due to the bad nature of well water in the area.

BBC News punishes deserters:

Ebola outbreak: Liberia ‘sacks absentee officials’

Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has sacked 10 government officials who have been “out of the country without an excuse,” amid a national Ebola crisis.

She said the officials had shown “insensitivity to our national tragedy and disregard for authority”.

The 10 were given a one-week ultimatum more than a month ago to return home. The 10 officials include two commissioners, six assistant ministers and two deputy ministers at the justice ministry, Wheatonia Dixon-Barns and Victoria Sherman-Lang.

From the Liberian Observer, more local initiative:

Bomi Ebola Taskforce Receives Anti-Ebola Materials

A local-based non-governmental organization under the auspices of Bomi Citizens against Ebola (BCAE) has donated anti-Ebola materials to the county’s Ebola Taskforce and Health Team in Tubmanburg.

BCAE donation comes against the backdrop of the ongoing fight against the deadly Ebola virus that has spread across the country.

The donated items included chlorine, Clorox, faucets bucket, mattresses and fuel.

Presenting the items, BCAE’s steering committee chair, Mr. Kederick F. Johnson, informed the County Superintendent Samuel Brown and Acting County Health Officer, Dr. Gabriel Logan, that the materials valued US$1,000 and is the organization’s initial contribution toward the county’s taskforce efforts to eliminate the disease.

The Liberian Observer again, with more local initiative:

FTP Identifies With LBS, JFK in Ebola Fight

The Flomo Theater Production, a local dramatic group, last Friday donated an amount of L$10,000 to the Liberia Broadcasting System (LBS) and several bottles of mineral water to the Ebola Treatment Unit within the compound of the John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital.

The donation according to the authority of FTP is meant to intensify the fight against Ebola as the media and hospital have cardinal roles to play.

Presenting the items on behalf of the group, Siafa Ballah, Executive Director of FTP, said the donation is their own way of identifying with the station as well as people who had been infected with the virus and currently undergoing treatment at the Ebola Treatment unit at JFK.

From CBC News, a Canadian’s fears:

Ebola crisis: Nursing student returns from ‘terrifying’ aid trip

  • Ian MacKay, 23, spent a month in quarantine after 2 aid workers at his clinic contracted Ebola

A 23-year-old nursing student’s trip to Liberia to try and help contain the spread of Ebola has left him haunted by the memories and compelled to return.

“It was absolutely terrifying,” Ian MacKay told CBC’s Chris Brown. “I’ve never feared for my life as much as I did in Liberia.”

“Knowing that I had been exposed to the virus … and it was a bloody, painful death was the scariest part of it all,” he said.

Der Spiegel covers a German’s fears:

‘His Father Had Lied to Us’: German Doctor Shares Harrowing Ebola Encounter

After the discovery of Ebola at the only children’s hospital in Sierra Leone, nurses and doctors alike fled. German physician Werner Strahl of the aid organzation Cap Anamur, who stayed behind to provide care amidst the chaos, shares his story.

Werner Strahl, 70, is chairman of the Cologne, Germany-based medical aid organization Cap Anamur. The organization has operated Sierra Leone’s only children’s hospital in the capital city of Freetown for the past five years. Strahl, a pediatrician who has worked for Cap Anumur for three decades, visited the Ola During Children’s Hospital in August just as its staff unwittingly admitted its first Ebola-infected child. In the following account, compiled from an interview Strahl conducted with SPIEGEL reporter Katrin Elger, the doctor describes the chaos that ensued. Strahl says he has never returned from a trip feeling as “glum” as he did his harrowing visit to Freetown.

We were sitting in the morning meeting when it dawned on us that something must have gone terribly wrong. A few days earlier, a four-year-old boy with a high fever had been brought to us at the hospital. As a matter of course, a nurse responsible for admissions asked the father if he had been in contact with anyone who had suddenly fallen ill. Had anyone in the family been buried recently? Any suspected cases of Ebola?

The father answered “no” to every single question and a blood test also confirmed that Melvin-Vincent, his gravely ill son, was suffering from Malaria.

StarAfrica demands oversight:

S/Leone: MP wants NGOs Ebola funds monitored

The Majority Leader in Sierra Leone’s parliament Sunday urged fellow citizens to be vigilant in monitoring NGOs over funds they received on behalf of the nation to deal with the Ebola pandemic, rather than focusing all their attention on Mps.

Ibrahim Bundu, member of parliament for the governing All Peoples Congress (APC), said some $26M has been received by NGOs from international donors and that these funds were solicited in the name of Sierra Leoneans.

He said citizens must ensure that such funds were spent accordingly.

He however expressed frustration that despite the huge amount of money pouring into the hands of the NGOs, people keep complaining of the unavailability of gloves and personal protective gears, among others, for health workers.

From the Daily Monitor in Kampala, Uganda, the plight of those who help:

Health staff live in classrooms

This was revealed by the Kalangala District chairman, Mr Willy Lugoloobi, after Daily Monitor had asked him to comment on the state of the health sector in the district.

Kalangala- Lack of housing facilities in Kalangala District has forced a number of health workers in the area to sleep in school classrooms, health centre kitchens and dilapidated houses.

Those most affected include nurses and clinical officers in the district.

This was revealed by the Kalangala District chairman, Mr Willy Lugoloobi, after Daily Monitor had asked him to comment on the state of the health sector in the district.

Mr Lugoloobi told Daily Monitor that even the few which house staff such as Bukasa Health Centre IV, can only take a few of their staff. But can only sufficiently accommodate nine staff out of 29 health workers.

Punch Nigeria urges caution:

‘Don’t subject yourself to victimisation’

Nigerian pilgrims travelling for the 2014 Hajj have been warned not to display unnecessary panic about the Ebola Virus Disease at Saudi Arabia airports.

The Operations Manager of Hajj Mabrur Ventures Limited, Alhaji Zulkifli Adewunmi, gave the warning during a seminar organised by the HMVL for intending pilgrims.

Adewunmi explained that showing fear would result to stigmatisation of the pilgrims.

He noted that the use of sanitisers had become more pronounced in Nigeria because of the positive cases recorded in the country.

StarAfrica covers a call:

S/Leone: Minority leader urges ban on religious gatherings

The leader of the minority party in Sierra Leone’s parliament has called for the banning of all large religious gathering until the end of the prevailing state of emergency.The MP, Dr Bernadette Lahai, is concerned that despite the prohibition of all public gatherings across the country due to the state of emergency prompted by the Ebola epidemic, Christian and Muslim worshippers were still assembling.

The opposition Sierra Leone Peoples Party parliamentary lawmaker said Sunday that this poses high risk of spreading the Ebola virus. She was speaking on national TV, SLBC, during a live talk show aimed at defending the government’s decision to declare a state of emergency.

The government is preparing for a nationwide shutdown which it plans to use to sensitize the general public on the disease and seek to identify sick people for treatment.

For our final item, from the London Daily Mail, hailing money from the North:

Microsoft to the rescue: Co-founders Paul Allen and Bill Gates donate nearly $62 MILLION to fight Ebola in West Africa and stop the spread of the deadly disease

  • Co-founder Paul Allen has pledged a donation of $9 million just a month after donating $2.8 million to fight Ebola
  • Allen’s donation joins that of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which has pledged $50 million to support the cause

The good people from Microsoft Corp are at it again.

The tech giant’s co-founder, Paul Allen, says his charitable foundation is donating $9 million to support the fight against the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, just a month after donating $2.8 million to the American Red Cross for its work on the outbreak.

The gift to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention comes at a time when international groups, including Doctors Without Borders and the World Health Organization, have said resources to contain the epidemic and treat those affected are falling tragically short.

EnviroWatch: Dengue, water woes, toxics


We open with the latest on that other outbreak on another continent, via Jiji Press:

Dengue Fever Outbreak in Japan Shows No Signs of Ending

Despite Japanese authorities’ efforts for containment, dengue fever has not yet shown clear signs of subsiding in the country, with the number of domestic infections topping 100.

The health ministry calls for calm, saying there is no need to panic because the spread of the tropical disease, which is transmitted only by tiger mosquitoes, will not last long, daily reports of new infections are stirring up fears.

The first locally transmitted case of dengue fever in nearly 70 years was reported in late August.

From NBC News, water woes in the Golden State:

Not One Drop: How Long Will California Survive Life Without Water?

The old man knew of the $500-a-day fine for people caught wasting water. He heard the plea for conservation from Governor Jerry Brown. But the water police can’t scare a person whose water isn’t running in the first place.

“Look,” said Carlos Chavez, a retired farm hand in the small town of Seville. He turned the wheel on a big outdoor faucet, the kind of high pressure spigot that’s illegal to operate in California without at least a hose attached to it. Nothing came out except air. It was the same story inside his home, where his plates piled up beneath a kitchen faucet as dry as the shop model.

As the California drought approaches its fourth year, Seville’s well is one of hundreds of private water holes coughing up sand and spitting air in the Central Valley, according to Tulare County officials. As many as 100,000 more wells are at risk around the state if the rains don’t come by October.

From NASA Goddard, another water woe:

Phytoplankton Levels Dropping

Program notes:

New research led by NASA researchers has found populations of the microscopic marine plants, phytoplankton, have decreased in the Northern Hemisphere. An analysis using a NASA model in combination with ocean satellite data between 1998 and 2012, showed a 1% decrease of phytoplankton per year.

From the Guardian, all hat, no cattle in Old Blighty:

Richard Branson failed to deliver on $3bn climate change pledge

  • New book by Naomi Klein claims that Virgin founder gave less than a tenth of cash promised to develop low carbon fuel

Richard Branson has failed to deliver on his much-vaunted pledge to spend $3bn (£1.8bn) over a decade to develop a low carbon fuel.

Seven years into the pledge, Branson has paid out only a small fraction of the promised money – “well under $300m” – according to a new book by the writer and activist, Naomi Klein.

The British entrepreneur famously promised to divert a share of the profits from his Virgin airlines empire to find a cleaner fuel, after a 2006 private meeting with Al Gore.

From Chemical & Engineering News, chemical intransigence:

Syngenta Stands Firm On Neonicotinoids

  • Pesticides: Manufacturer seeks to expand uses of thiamethoxam as pressure against chemical mounts

Amid growing concerns and lawsuits linking neonicotinoid pesticides with bee declines, Syngenta is asking the Environmental Protection Agency to increase the allowable levels of the company’s controversial neonicotinoid product thiamethoxam on certain crops.

Syngenta is seeking the change so thiamethoxam can be used as a spray on the foliage of alfalfa, corn, barley, and wheat. Currently, the pesticide is approved for use only as a seed treatment on those crops. In explaining its request, the company says, “Mid- to late-season insect pests are not controlled by seed treatment.”

The environmental group Beyond Pesticides says the move would be a “step backward for pollinator health.” Syngenta’s request “comes at a time when researchers are discovering that even ‘near-infinitesimal’ exposure to this class of pesticides can result in harm to honeybees and other wild pollinators,” the group says.

From the Yomiuri Shimbun, global warming sets the stage for conflicts ahead:

U.N. to set new rules for N. Sea Route

The U.N. International Maritime Organization will create the first-ever mandatory safety and environmental regulations for the Northern Sea Route by revising relevant conventions, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned.

The London-based organization decided to formulate international rules for maritime traffic because the number of ships using the route has surged, as global warming has been causing ice in the Arctic Ocean to melt. The new regulations are expected to take effect in 2016.

Currently, no international laws have been established for the Arctic Ocean like those in the Antarctic Treaty, which dictates that nations not make territorial sovereignty or other claims. There have also been concerns that coastal nations such as Russia may implement their own regulations.

The paper also illustrates the routes of the new Northwest Passage:

BLOG Seas

From the Contra Costa Times, hints of oily woes ahead:

Crude-by-rail: One federal inspector oversees all California’s railroad bridges, no state oversight

As concerns grow over aging rail infrastructure, earthquake readiness and a dramatic increase in crude oil shipments by train, state railroad regulators are scrambling to hire their first-ever railroad bridge inspectors — two of them.

Once they are hired, the California Public Utilities Commission plans to create a state railroad bridge inventory to determine which are most at risk. That’s right — neither the state nor federal government has a list of railroad bridges for California or the rest of the country. Until that happens, the safety of California’s thousands of railroad bridges — key conduits that carry people and hazardous materials over environmentally sensitive ecosystems and near urban areas — is left up to rail line owners and a single federal inspector who splits his time among 11 states.

“Two more inspectors is better than none, but it’s really a Band-Aid,” said Suma Peesapati, attorney with Earthjustice, an environmental group fighting the oil rail influx. “I think there should be no crude by rail over those bridges until there’s a comprehensive look at all of them.”

And from Global Times oil and water don’t mix:

Kunlun river polluted by oil pipe leaks

A river at the foot of Kunlun Mountain in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau has become seriously polluted due to leaks from a diesel oil pipeline, which was broken by criminals who planned to steal oil, media reported Friday.

An unnamed government agency stated that broken valves on the oil pipeline in Qinghai Province, severed by prospective oil thieves, are the cause of the leaks, the Qinghai branch of China National Radio (CNR) reported on its Sina Weibo account Friday.

A total of 6 tons of oil had leaked, and 3 tons have been cleaned up, CNR reported, adding that the broken pipeline has also been repaired.

For our final item, China Daily hints of massive fracking ahead:

Experts: Potential of shale gas huge in China

China is one of the world’s largest markets for energy consumption, but some experts believe China can make significant headway in the natural gas sector by exploiting technology to tap its potentially huge reserves of shale gas.

China Energy 2020, an event that probed China’s place in the global energy market, was held Thursday at the Columbia Club of New York. The event was co-hosted by the China Energy Fund Committee, Columbia’s Center on Global Energy Policy and the National Committee on US-China Relations.

A report published by Columbia’s new energy policy center, titled Meeting China’s Shale Gas Goals, states that though China has “a huge shale gas resource,” production of shale gas in China is “just starting” to take shape and “will not be substantial” in the next few years.

EbolaWatch: Fears, help, hope, despair


We open today’s news from Africa and elsewhere with an assessment from the New York Times:

U.S. Scientists See Long Fight Against Ebola

The deadly Ebola outbreak sweeping across three countries in West Africa is likely to last 12 to 18 months more, much longer than anticipated, and could infect hundreds of thousands of people before it is brought under control, say scientists mapping its spread for the federal government.

“We hope we’re wrong,” said Bryan Lewis, an epidemiologist at the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute at Virginia Tech.

Both the time the model says it will take to control the epidemic and the number of cases it forecasts far exceed estimates by the World Health Organization, which said last month that it hoped to control the outbreak within nine months and predicted 20,000 total cases by that time. The organization is sticking by its estimates, a W.H.O. spokesman said Friday.

But researchers at various universities say that at the virus’s present rate of growth, there could easily be close to 20,000 cases in one month, not in nine. Some of the United States’ leading epidemiologists, with long experience in tracking diseases such as influenza, have been creating computer models of the Ebola epidemic at the request of the National Institutes of Health and the Defense Department.

Another alarm, via the Daily Climate:

Ehrlich: Ebola, population and evolution whip up a wicked recipe for disaster

  • The 1918 influenza pandemic infected one-fifth of the world’s population. On an increasingly hot, overcrowded planet, could Ebola be our next global scourge?
  • Stanford University Professor Paul Ehrlich calls for a holistic defense.

We have a problem with “emergent” diseases, ones that are becoming potentially serious to a larger and more vulnerable human population. Ebola and Marburg viruses, because of their high death rates, could become this generation’s version of the flu pandemic that swept the globe at the end of World War I.

If it does, we have only to blame ourselves: Our degraded environment, our unchecked population growth, our nonchalance at global poverty, hunger and disease and our jet-setting ways.

The filoviruses are native to Africa and commonly infect non-human primates (don’t eat chimpanzee meat) and some bats, which may be the main natural reservoir. The favorable conditions for transfer are directly related to human population size. The more people who come into contact with animal reservoirs and the more people who need “bushmeat,” the higher the odds of a virus transferring into people.

NBC News poses a question:

Just Who Is Leading the Fight Against Ebola?

The Ebola toll is fast approaching 5,000, with 2,400 people dead in the space of a few months, the World Health Organization said Friday. It’s getting worse and not better. Yet aid is not pouring into West Africa.

It mystifies Sophie Delaunay, executive director of the U.S. office of Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF or Doctors Without Borders). “We know what needs to be done but we don’t know why it’s not being done. It’s incomprehensible to us,” she told NBC News.

Dr. Oliver Johnson of the King’s Sierra Leone Partnership at Connaught Hospital in Freetown echoes the sentiment. “The international response to the outbreak remains virtually non-existent, in terms of actual impact on the ground,” Johnson wrote in a plea to international infectious disease specialists. “At Connaught … our isolation unit is full with adult and pediatric cases and we have suspected cases in the waiting area and emergency room that we can’t isolate — I don’t know how much longer the hospital will be able to stay open in these circumstances.”

CBC News carries a plea:

Ebola outbreak: Sierra Leone asks for outside help for sick doctor

  • 4th doctor from African country to be infected with deadly virus

Sierra Leone has requested funds from the World Health Organization to evacuate a doctor sick with the deadly Ebola disease.

Dr. Olivet Buck is the fourth doctor from Sierra Leone to come down with Ebola, which has been blamed for 2,400 deaths in West Africa, according to the World Health Organization. Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea have recorded the vast majority of cases.

Buck, a citizen of Sierra Leone, would be the first doctor from one of the countries hit hardest by Ebola to receive treatment abroad. The other three doctors from Sierra Leone died in the country.

A letter from President Ernest Bai Koroma’s office said he had approved Buck’s evacuation to a hospital in Hamburg, Germany, “where they are in readiness to receive her.”

From the New York Times on the ground in Monrovia, Liberia:

Back to the Slums of His Youth, to Defuse the Ebola Time Bomb

The girl in the pink shirt lay motionless on a sidewalk, flat on her stomach, an orange drink next to her, unfinished. People gathered on the other side of the street, careful to keep their distance.

Dr. Mosoka Fallah waded in. Details about the girl spilled out of the crowd in a dizzying torrent, gaining urgency with the siren of an approaching ambulance. The girl’s mother had died, almost certainly of Ebola. So had three other relatives. The girl herself was sick. The girl’s aunt, unable to get help, had left her on the sidewalk in despair. Other family members may have been infected. Still others had fled across this city.

Dr. Fallah, 44, calmly instructed leaders of the neighborhood — known as Capitol Hill, previously untouched by Ebola — how to deal with the family and protect their community. He promised to return later that day, and send more help in the morning. His words quelled the crowd, for the moment.

Another report from Monrovia, this time from the Washington Post:

As Ebola cases accelerate, Liberia’s sick must fend for themselves

Steps from a chance at salvation, or at least a less excruciating death, Comfort Zeyemoh walked slowly from the Ebola treatment center on Saturday. It was one of only three in a city devastated by the lethal virus. And it was nearly full.

Zeyemoh, 22, was not sick enough to gain entry, though she had started vomiting the night before and was feeling weak. Those are telltale signs of Ebola.

“They sent us here for a checkup,” her boyfriend, Moses Sackie, said outside the facility run by the aid group Doctors Without Borders. “Now they are telling us to wait for three days.”

With each day, the small group of caregivers trying to cope with the worst outbreak of Ebola on record falls further and further behind as the pace of the virus’s transmission rapidly accelerates. Health facilities are full, and an increasing number of infected people are being turned away, left to fend for themselves.

From Punch Nigeria, an act of despair:

Ebola hospital workers down tools over pay in Sierra Leone

Local workers have gone on strike in an overcrowded Ebola ward at a major district hospital in Sierra Leone’s disease-stricken east over claims the government is failing to pay them.

Up to 80 workers crowded the entrance compound to the hospital on Friday, deserting their posts and bringing operations at the Ebola treatment ward to a standstill. The workers were peaceful but frustrated.

The workers were recruited nationally to boost staff numbers at Kenema Government Hospital where they operate inside a tented ‘high-risk’ zone as nurses and support staff tasked with treating the sick, disinfecting contaminated equipment, cleaning faeces, vomit and blood and removing and burying dead bodies.

“I started working here one month ago and we have been paid nothing for the last two weeks,” Umaru, a hygienist, told Al Jazeera. “We have stopped everybody from working until we receive our risk incentive.”

The New York Times conveys a plea:

Liberian President Pleads With Obama for Assistance in Combating Ebola

The president of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, has implored President Obama for help in managing her country’s rapidly expanding Ebola crisis and has warned that without American assistance the disease could send Liberia into the civil chaos that enveloped the country for two decades.

In a letter on Tuesday to Mr. Obama, Ms. Johnson Sirleaf wrote that “I am being honest with you when I say that at this rate, we will never break the transmission chain and the virus will overwhelm us.” She urgently requested 1,500 additional beds in new hospitals across the country and urged that the United States military set up and run a 100-bed Ebola hospital in the besieged capital, Monrovia.

Infectious disease experts have sharply criticized as inadequate the Obama administration’s response to the Ebola crisis, particularly in Liberia, a country founded by freed American slaves. Global agencies like the World Health Organization and the United Nations have also come under criticism for responding too slowly to the Ebola outbreak.

From Reuters, military assistance:

U.S. to train Liberian armed forces to help tackle Ebola crisis

The United States said on Friday it would train Liberia’s security forces to assist in isolation operations to tackle an Ebola epidemic ravaging the West African nation, after a boy was killed when soldiers opened fire on a protest last month.

The worst Ebola outbreak on record has killed more than 2,400 people in West Africa – more than half of them in Liberia. Liberian officials have called the outbreak the greatest threat to national stability since a 1989-2003 civil war.

Many in the country, founded by descendants of freed American slaves, have looked to Washington for support, as they did during the civil war, which killed nearly 250,000 people.

The New York Times covers another cost:

Rampant Ebola Fear Takes Toll on Africa Tourism

Ebola is thousands of miles away from Kenya’s pristine Indian Ocean beaches, but the deadly disease appears to be discouraging tourism there and elsewhere in this vast continent.

Harald Kampa, a hotelier near Mombasa, says the Ebola outbreak in West Africa is hurting his business.

For two weeks in August he had no international arrivals at his Diani Sea Resort, leading him to suspect that Ebola had frightened away his clients. He noticed an improvement only after Kenya Airways canceled flights to the Ebola-hit West African nations of Sierra Leone and Liberia, action that the local tourism fraternity said was necessary to assure tourists of Kenya’s determination to keep Ebola out.

Kampa is not alone. Tour operators across Africa say they face difficulties as the Ebola outbreak, which has killed more than 2,200 people in four countries, continues to defy international efforts to control it. Tourism, a major source of revenue for many African countries — especially Kenya and South Africa — is increasingly being hurt as some potential visitors hesitate over visiting the continent which is home to the disease.

And from Reuters, a helping hand:

Cuba answers WHO’s call for more Ebola help

Program notes:

The communist island nation of Cuba is sending 165 healthcare workers to West Africa to help fight Ebola, said to be the biggest commitment of personnel from any one country against the current outbreak. Mana Rabiee reports.

TheLocal.fr mixes in the politics:

French minister ‘first’ in Africa Ebola zone

The French development secretary said Friday she was the first minister in a European government to visit any of west Africa’s Ebola-hit nations as she prepared to fly to Guinea.

The French development secretary said Friday she was the first minister in a European government to visit any of west Africa’s Ebola-hit nations as she prepared to fly to Guinea.

Annick Girardin will visit Ebola units and healthcare workers in the Guinean capital Conakry on Saturday to discuss France’s contribution to the battle to halt an epidemic which has taken 2,400 lives in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

A video report Deutsche Welle covers another effort, potentially profitable:

German researchers help in fight against Ebola

Program notes:

In Eastern Germany’s Halle, a team of scientists is producing antibodies from tobacco plants. They will be used in the manufacture of a new drug that researchers hope can be used to treat ebola.

Punch Nigeria reports other assistance:

FIFA to set up Ebola treatment centres in Liberia, others

President of the International Federation of Football Associations, Sepp Blater, on Saturday said the organization would give full support to three West African countries heavily hit by the Ebola Virus Disease.

According to “Inside Games,” an online news provider, Blater made the pledge at FIFA headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland.

The publication stated that the world football’s governing body said that the issue would be discussed and agreed upon at its next Finance Committee meeting which would hold in France on Sept. 25.

And for our final item, another Westerner saved, via the Associated Press:

Ebola patient in Omaha eating ice cream

Officials at the Nebraska Medical Center where an American aid worker infected with Ebola is being treated say the patient is getting his appetite back.

Dr. Rick Sacra was flown to the Omaha, Nebraska, hospital on Sept. 5 for treatment in the hospital’s specialized 10-bed isolation unit.

Sacra’s doctors and his wife, Debbie, have said the 51-year-old doctor’s condition has steadily improved since he arrived.

Quote of the day: Naomi Klein on climate change


From an essay she wrote for the Guardian:

If we continue on our current path of allowing emissions to rise year after year, major cities will drown, ancient cultures will be swallowed by the seas; our children will spend much of their lives fleeing and recovering from vicious storms and extreme droughts. Yet we continue all the same.

What is wrong with us? I think the answer is far more simple than many have led us to believe: we have not done the things needed to cut emissions because those things fundamentally conflict with deregulated capitalism, the reigning ideology for the entire period we have struggled to find a way out of this crisis. We are stuck, because the actions that would give us the best chance of averting catastrophe – and benefit the vast majority – are threatening to an elite minority with a stranglehold over our economy, political process and media.

That problem might not have been insurmountable had it presented itself at another point in our history. But it is our collective misfortune that governments and scientists began talking seriously about radical cuts to greenhouse gas emissions in 1988 – the exact year that marked the dawning of “globalisation”. The numbers are striking: in the 1990s, as the market integration project ramped up, global emissions were going up an average of 1% a year; by the 2000s, with “emerging markets” such as China fully integrated into the world economy, emissions growth had sped up disastrously, reaching 3.4% a year.

That rapid growth rate has continued, interrupted only briefly, in 2009, by the world financial crisis. What the climate needs now is a contraction in humanity’s use of resources; what our economic model demands is unfettered expansion. Only one of these sets of rules can be changed, and it’s not the laws of nature.

Read the rest.

UPDATE: The latest from Tom Toles, editorial cartoonist for the Washington Post:

BLOG Toles

InSecurityWatch: Spies, lies, protests, and more


We turn to The Hill for our first headline from the world of spies, cops, cybercrooks, and suchlike:

Spy court renews NSA metadata program

With a surveillance reform bill stuck in the Senate, the federal court overseeing spy agencies on Friday reauthorized the National Security Agency’s controversial bulk collection of Americans’ phone records.

Reauthorization from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) allows the NSA to continue to warrantlessly collect “metadata” in bulk about people’s phone calls. The records contain information about which numbers people called, when and how long they talked, but not the actual content of their conversations.

“Given that legislation has not yet been enacted, and given the importance of maintaining the capabilities of the Section 215 telephony metadata program, the government has sought a 90-day reauthorization of the existing program,” the Justice Department and Office of the Director of National Intelligence said in a joint statement, referring to the section of the Patriot Act that authorizes the program.

From the Guardian, a challenge:

Julian Assange lawyers lodge appeal against Swedish ruling

  • Prosecutors accused of gross breach of law by not travelling to UK to interview WikiLeaks founder in Ecuadorian embassy

Swedish lawyers for Julian Assange have argued that prosecutors are in “gross breach of Swedish law”, as they lodged an appeal in a fresh attempt to break the deadlock that has seen the WikiLeaks founder begin his third year living in the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

“Julian Assange has been kept under house arrest for two years with no medical treatment, no sunshine, no family, no nothing, and this harm should be taken into account when applying Swedish law,” Per Samuelsson, a lawyer for Assange in Stockholm, told the Guardian.

In July, a Stockholm judge ruled that Sweden’s prosecutor had sufficient cause to continue to pursue the arrest of Assange in order to question him about the crimes of which he is suspected. On Friday, his lawyers lodged their anticipated appeal against this ruling.

From the McClatchy Washington Bureau, umbrage is taken:

New sparks fly between CIA, Senate Intelligence Committee

Tensions between the CIA and its congressional overseers erupted anew this week when CIA Director John Brennan refused to tell lawmakers who authorized intrusions into computers used by the Senate Intelligence Committee to compile a damning report on the spy agency’s interrogation program.

The confrontation, which took place during a closed-door meeting on Tuesday, came as the sides continue to spar over the report’s public release, providing further proof of the unprecedented deterioration in relations between the CIA and Capitol Hill.

After the meeting, several senators were so incensed at Brennan that they confirmed the row and all but accused the nation’s top spy of defying Congress.

From United Press International, the perfect selfie venue:

Berlin’s newest tourist spot: abandoned spy station

  • The empty buildings at Teufelsberg, and their tour guides, are drawing crowds.

A Cold War listening post in the former West Berlin, used by Allied forces and now an abandoned ruin, has become a tourist attraction since the NSA spy scandal.

Admissions by the U.S. National Security Agency that it listened in on telephone conversations of German government leaders was the impetus for German citizens to reexamine Berlin’s days as a spy center. That means a climb up Teufelsberg hill to examine what is left of a collection of buildings erected by the NSA in the late 1950s to listen in on military radio traffic of the Soviet Union, East Germany and other Communist nations.

The facility closed in the early 1990s. After years of neglect, vandalism and trespassing, the property was bought in 2012 by Shalmon Abraham, and visitors can now wander the corridors of the vacant spy center legally after paying a 15-euro ($19.42) entry fee. With its many walls between offices, graffiti is encouraged.

BuzzFeed gets it right:

The U.S. Adds Another Enemy In A War Without End

  • After vowing to repeal post-9/11 war authority, Obama has now vastly expanded it by invoking it in the war against ISIS.

Last night President Obama said he already had the “authority” to carry out strikes on ISIS in Iraq and Syria. In a background briefing with reporters a senior government official explained exactly what authority the president was referring to: the 2001 AUMF.

Lawyers on both the right and the left, including some who used to work in the Obama administration, were shocked. Robert Chesney, a professor of national security law at the University of Texas, wrote in a quick reaction post that the decision was “just stunning from a legal perspective.” In a post titled “Democracy’s Failure,” Jennifer Daskal, a lawyer who once worked for the Obama administration, called the interpretation “implausible” and a case of “politics over law.” Writing for Time, Jack Goldsmith, a former attorney for the Bush administration, called it “presidential unilateralism masquerading as implausible statutory interpretation.”

Rarely in today’s deeply divided world of bipartisan politics do so many lawyers speak so forcefully and with such unison. The reasons we are seeing this sort of legal unanimity is because of what David Cole, writing in the New York Review of Books called “a presidential sleight of hand.”

BBC News ups the estimate:

Islamic State fighter estimate triples – CIA

The CIA says the Islamic State (IS) militant group may have up to 31,000 fighters in Iraq and Syria – three times as many as previously feared.

A spokesman said the new estimate was based on a review of intelligence reports from May to August.

IS has seized vast swathes of Iraq and beheaded several hostages in recent months, leading to US airstrikes.

US Secretary of State John Kerry is visiting Turkey, seeking more support for action against IS.

From BuzzFeed a spooky pitch:

GOP Congressman: Spy On U.S. Mosques To Stop ISIS Recruitment

“Undocumented Democrats are more important to [President Obama] than national security,” Iowa Republican Rep. Steve King says.

Iowa Republican Rep. Steve King is calling for the U.S. government to begin spying on American mosques to stop ISIS’ recruitment efforts, charging the militant organization is actively operating in mosques across the country.

Although there is no evidence that ISIS is running a nationwide recruitment effort or using mosques as centers to target would be jihadis, King insisted the Obama administration must target mosques for domestic surveillance activities.

“Here’s a thought that occurred to me,” King said speaking to the Deace Show Thursday. “I didn’t look at the population of Germany at the beginning of the Third Reich but it’s probably in the area of 70-80 million is my guess. And out of that Hitler in a few years build something that cost the lives of roughly 60 million people. The radical islamists have 1.3 or more billion muslims to work with. Now they aren’t all supporters. Daniel (inaudible) says 10-15% of them, but that is a huge population to draw from.”

And from TheLocal.fr, the odd couple:

France offers military help to Iraq against ISIS

During a state visit to Iraq on Friday France’s president pledged additional military support to the country as it struggles to combat the ISIS extremists who seized large swathes of its territory.

Eleven years after refusing to follow Britain and the United States into Iraq, France is now trying to take centre stage in a country overrun by jihadists with a leading diplomatic — and possibly military — role.

Just days before an international conference in Paris on peace and security in Iraq, French President Francois Hollande on Friday visited Baghdad, pledging “support and solidarity” for the country’s embattled government.

From BBC News, when spies draw the line:

Israeli intelligence veterans refuse to spy on Palestinians

Dozens of veterans of an elite Israeli military signals intelligence unit have said they will no longer serve in operations against Palestinians.

Forty-three past and present reservists signed a letter about Unit 8200, which carries out electronic surveillance. They said the intelligence it gathered – much of it concerning innocent people – was used to “deepen military rule” in the Occupied Territories.

Israel’s military said it held the unit to ethical standards “without rival”.

And a video report from the Guardian:

The Israeli military intelligence refusing to serve in Palestinian territory

Program notes:

Forty-three veterans of one of Israel’s most secretive military intelligence units – many of them still active reservists – have signed a public letter refusing to serve in operations involving the occupied Palestinian territories because of the widespread surveillance of innocent residents.

The signatories include officers, former instructors and senior NCOs from the country’s equivalent of America’s NSA or Britain’s GCHQ, known as Unit 8200 – or in Hebrew as Yehida Shmoneh-Matayim.

From the Guardian again, militarizing the campus:

Tanks at the school gates? San Diego school police acquires its own MRAP

  • Police captain plays down fears of militarisation and says ‘When we have an emergency at school, we’ve got to get in and save kids’

The nation gaped at the sight of a military-grade Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle trundling through Ferguson, but it turns out that was relatively restrained policing.

Relative, that is, to San Diego, where police will use a similar steel behemoth for the city’s schools. The San Diego Unified School District Police Department has acquired its own vehicle, known as a MRAP, and expect it to be operational by October.

From the London Daily Mail, the unspeakable:

‘I will f**king kill you. Do you know who I am?’ George Zimmerman is accused of threatening to shoot driver in road rage incident

  • Matthew Apperson, 35, reported Zimmerman pulled up next to him and the passenger asked, ‘Why are you pointing a finger at me?’
  • ‘Do you know who I am?’ Zimmerman followed up, and allegedly threatened the life of the other motorist
  • In 911 call, Apperson says Zimmerman, threatened to ‘kick my ass and shoot me’ and said ‘he was gonna shoot me dead’
  • The driver also reported seeing Zimmerman in his truck parked outside his work two days later
  • Zimmerman was acquitted last year of second-degree murder charge in the shooting of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teen

Reuters covers borderline discontent:

Mexico President slams Texas governor over border crackdown

Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s deployment of National Guard troops on the U.S.-Mexican border is “reprehensible” and puts neighborly relations at risk, Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto said in an interview published on Friday.

Perry, considered a possible contender for the 2016 U.S. Republican presidential nomination, in July ordered up to 1,000 Texas National Guard troops to the border, citing an influx of child migrants from Central America and drug cartel criminality.

“Not only is it displeasing, but I think it’s reprehensible,” Pena Nieto told Mexican daily El Universal in an interview published on Friday. “It is an attack on good relations and neighborliness.”

Off to Old Blighty and good intentions run amok with the Worcester News:

Dan Roach in EU right-to-be-forgotten plea to Google over old picture

CONTROVERSIAL internet regulations have struck the Worcester News for the first time.

Google has removed a five-year-old article from its searches, as part of the disputed EU ‘right to be forgotten’ law.

A ruling by the European Court of Justice earlier this year means stories deemed irrelevant or outdated can be removed from search engine results. The story in question was about artist Dan Roach, who received a scholarship from the University of Worcester in 2009.

In a statement to your Worcester News, Mr Roach said: “Since 2009, when the story and photograph originally appeared in the Worcester News, my paintings have developed; the work depicted in the 2009 article bears little resemblance to the paintings I’m now making.”

Reuters conveys a request:

Iran wants U.N. atomic agency to condemn Israeli drone ‘aggression’

Iran has called on the U.N. atomic agency to condemn an “act of aggression” by Israel for sending, Tehran says, a drone last month to spy on a site which is at the center of its decade-old nuclear dispute with the West.

The Iranian move comes ahead of a meeting next week of the 35-nation board of the International Atomic Energy Agency where Tehran likely faces Israeli and Western criticism for failing to address IAEA concerns about its suspected atomic bomb research.

In late August, Iran said it had shot down an Israeli drone that was heading for its main uranium enrichment site near the central town of Natanz.

BBC News covers blowback from that other 9/11:

Chilean MP charged over Pinochet-era killings

  • Rosauro Martinez (Biblioteca del Congreso Nacional) Rosauro Martinez is member of the conservative National Renewal party

A member of Chile’s parliament has been charged with the killing of three left-wing militants during the dictatorship of Gen Augusto Pinochet.

Rosauro Martinez was an army captain at the time of the incident in 1981.

He led a patrol in southern Chile in search of members of the Revolutionary Left Movement (MIR), which sought to overthrow the Pinochet regime.

A gun battle followed in which at least 11 people died, but the exact details of what happened remain a mystery.

And a video report from CCTV America on events in Chile Thursday marking the anniversary of that other lethal 9/11, a catastrophe back by Washington:

Memorials and violence mark 41st anniversary of Chilean coup

Program notes:

On Thursday, Chilean President Michelle Bachelet marked the 41st anniversary of the 1973 military coup that toppled Marxist President Salvador Allende by calling for more information for the victims of crimes during the country’s dictatorship. CCTV America’s Joel Richards reports from Santiago.

BBC News covers the curious:

India probes identity card for monkey god Hanuman

Authorities in India are investigating how Hanuman, the monkey god, has been issued a biometric identity card. The card photo features the character from the Hindu epic Ramayana wearing gold and pearl jewellery and a crown.

It emerged when a postman attempted to deliver the card, but could not find a Hanuman at the address.

When he looked at the photograph he realised it was probably a prank. It is not clear who the iris scan and fingerprints on the card belong to.

And from Al Jazeera America, preparing for blowback:

Australia raises terrorism threat level

  • Government says the move is in response to domestic threat posed by Islamic State movement supporters

The Australian government on Friday elevated its terrorism threat level to the second-highest warning in response to the domestic threat posed by Islamic State movement supporters.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced the increase from “medium” to “high” on a four-tier scale on the advice of the Australian Security Intelligence Organization.

The domestic spy agency’s Director-General David Irvine said the terrorist threat level had been rising in Australia over the past year, particularly in recent months, mainly due to Australians joining Islamic State to fight in Syria and Iraq.

From Channel NewsAsia Singapore, a lèse majesté warning:

Thai coup leader warns against insulting the monarchy

Thai junta leader Prayuth Chan-ocha on Friday (Sep 12) said his regime would use legal, psychological and technological measures to protect the monarchy against defamation in his first official policy speech as premier.

The warning came as Amnesty International said an “unprecedented” number of people have been charged with insulting the royals since the coup, with 14 Thais indicted under the controversial lese majeste law in less than four months.

Revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej, 86, is already protected by one of the world’s toughest royal defamation laws – anyone convicted of insulting the king, queen, heir or regent faces up to 15 years in prison on each count. “We will use appropriate legal measures, psychological measures and communication technology against ill-intentioned people,” Prayuth said in a televised speech to members of the National Legislative Assembly, without elaborating on the exact methods of scrutiny.

And for our final item, the Independent entertains suspicions:

‘Tiger’ Zhou Yongkang: Did China’s former security chief murder his first wife?

Little is known about the exact circumstances in which Wang Shuhua was killed. What has been reported, in the Chinese media, is that she died in a road accident some time in 2000, shortly after she was divorced from her husband. And that at least one vehicle with a military licence plate may have been involved in the crash.

Fourteen years later, investigators are now looking into her death. Their sudden interest has nothing to do with Ms Wang herself, it has to do with the identity of her ex-husband – once one of China’s most powerful men and now the prime target in President Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign.

Investigators are probing the death of the first wife of Zhou Yongkang, China’s retired security czar, a source said. They are looking for evidence of foul play by Mr Zhou in the crash, the source added.

EbolaWatch: Grim predictions, official fears


We begin today’s coverage with a harsh question from the Washington Post:

Ebola is ‘devouring everything in its path.’ Could it lead to Liberia’s collapse?

At a news conference Thursday, finance minister Amara Konneh said Liberia is at “war with an enemy we don’t see.” Two days earlier, the Ebola-ravaged country’s defense minister, Brownie Samukai, delivered a harrowing warning of his own.

“Liberia is facing a serious threat to its national existence,” Samukai told the U.N. Security Council. “The deadly Ebola virus has caused a disruption of the normal functioning of our state.”

The U.N. special envoy to Liberia, Karin Landgren, seems to agree with Samukai, at least to an extent. Landgren told the U.N. Security Council this week that “Liberians are facing their gravest threat since war,” referring to two civil wars between 1989 and 2003 that left more than 250,000 dead. Those bloody conflicts completely destabilized the country, and Liberia was still recovering when the current Ebola outbreak began.

Landgren warned the Security Council “that the Ebola crisis has become complex, with political, security, economic and social implications that will continue to affect the country well beyond the current medical emergency,” according to Global Post.

On Thursday, the International Monetary Fund said Ebola has crippled the mining, agriculture and services sectors Liberia and neighboring Sierra Leone, Reuters reported.

More from Deutsche Welle:

Ebola drags Liberia’s economy into recession

Liberia’s finance ministry has acknowledged that the ongoing Ebola outbreak has led to a decline of the country’s economic growth. This has forced the government to slash public expenditure.

The Ebola epidemic is not just devastating the Liberian population but is also severely crippling all sectors of the country’s economy: notably health, trade and education. Liberia is currently experiencing its worst ever crisis since the end of the country’s brutal civil war in 2003.

Announcing the fall in projected economic growth rate, Liberia’s Finance and Development Planning Minister Amara Konneh said Liberia is now in a difficult moment amid the Ebola epidemic. “In all of this, our economy is taking a hit – serious hit,” the minister told reporters.

“This year we were projected to grow at 5.9 percent. Last year we grew 8.7 percent. The year before last year (2012), we grew 8.9 percent. Now, working with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the government has revised its growth projection to 2.5 percent.”

And still more from the World Health Organization:

The Ebola outbreak that is ravaging parts of west Africa is the largest, most severe, and most complex in the nearly four-decade history of this disease.

This is Ebola Zaire, the most deadly in the Ebola family of viruses. This is a dreaded virus that is highly contagious, but under only two very specific settings.

First, during care of patients at home by family members or in hospital settings without proper protection against infection. Second, during certain traditional burial practices that involve close contact with a highly infectious corpse.

In the 3 hardest-hit countries, Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, the number of new cases is moving far faster than the capacity to manage them in Ebola-specific treatment centres.

In Liberia, for example, an Ebola treatment facility, set up jointly by WHO and the Ministry of Health, was recently established to manage 30 patients. It had more than 70 patients the day it opened.

Today, Liberia has not one single bed available for the treatment of an Ebola patient anywhere in the entire country.

Our response is running short on nearly everything, from personal protective equipment, to body bags, to mobile laboratories, to isolation wards.

BuzzFeed examines failure [and the medium is finally devoting some good coverage to the story and deserves kudos]:

How Global Health Failed Liberia As The Ebola Outbreak Took Hold

  • Liberians have been sounding the alarm for weeks. Why has real action on Ebola been so slow?

This is a catastrophe Liberia saw coming. Earlier this summer, when hundreds of foreign medical personnel were working to battle Ebola in Sierra Leone, Monrovia watched its caseload swell. Tolbert Nyenswah, Liberia’s assistant health minister, warned in late July that the capital didn’t have enough beds in its only Ebola treatment ward to admit all the patients who had come in with symptoms.

That wasn’t just inconvenient; it was a public health disaster. Patients aren’t contagious until they show symptoms, but once they do, they easily infect anyone who comes into contact with their bodily fluids. With no beds at the hospital, the sick returned home, and families without knowledge of the disease or its transmission cleaned up from the havoc it wreaked on their dying loved ones — and caught the disease themselves.

There weren’t more beds because there weren’t more resources — financial, logistical or human. “After the Philippine typhoon, there were 150 foreign medical teams” offering care, Dr. Ian Norton, who coordinates foreign medical teams for the World Health Organization (WHO) in Liberia, told BuzzFeed News by telephone from Monrovia on Tuesday. “We’ve seen four here.”

From the Guardian, a sad truth:

Ebola outbreak an avoidable tragedy, say UK MPs

  • Commons committee report says hesitancy and lack of coordination over crisis suggests that emergency plans failed

In a blunt report published on Friday, the Commons International Development Committee urged Britain’s Department for International Development (DfID) to place greater emphasis on building up weak health systems and to draw on the medical and managerial expertise of the NHS in doing so.

“The devastating ongoing Ebola epidemic in west Africa has served to emphasise the importance of establishing strong health systems,” it said. “The apparent hesitancy and lack of coordination in the international response suggest that the global health system and emergency plans have failed.”

While the committee described DfID as a “world-leader” in strengthening health systems, it said it feared the department’s “target-driven mentality”. It added that work with large international partnerships whose focus is on getting rapid results by concentrating on specific, high-profile diseases had come at the expense of shoreing up health infrastructures in poorer countries.

While the New York Times offers an epidemiologist’s chilling prognosis:

What We’re Afraid to Say About Ebola

There are two possible future chapters to this story that should keep us up at night.

The first possibility is that the Ebola virus spreads from West Africa to megacities in other regions of the developing world. This outbreak is very different from the 19 that have occurred in Africa over the past 40 years. It is much easier to control Ebola infections in isolated villages. But there has been a 300 percent increase in Africa’s population over the last four decades, much of it in large city slums. What happens when an infected person yet to become ill travels by plane to Lagos, Nairobi, Kinshasa or Mogadishu — or even Karachi, Jakarta, Mexico City or Dhaka?

The second possibility is one that virologists are loath to discuss openly but are definitely considering in private: that an Ebola virus could mutate to become transmissible through the air. You can now get Ebola only through direct contact with bodily fluids. But viruses like Ebola are notoriously sloppy in replicating, meaning the virus entering one person may be genetically different from the virus entering the next. The current Ebola virus’s hyper-evolution is unprecedented; there has been more human-to-human transmission in the past four months than most likely occurred in the last 500 to 1,000 years. Each new infection represents trillions of throws of the genetic dice.

From TheLocal.ch, another case of delayed assistance:

Switzerland steps up aid to Ebola-hit countries

Switzerland has pledged an additional two million francs in aid to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa which has killed over 2,400 people since the outbreak began in March.

The extra funding provided by Swiss Humanitarian Aid will be used to support Médecins sans Frontières Switzerland (MSF) and the World Food Programme (WFP), according to a government statement released on Friday.

One million francs will go to a MSF emergency programme for north Liberia, while the other million will be used by WFP for a regional emergency operation to fend off the hunger crisis triggered by the epidemic in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.

From People’s Daily, ditto:

China offers new aid for combating Ebola

China on Friday announced a further 200 million yuan (32.54 million U.S. dollars) package of humanitarian aid to African countries and international organizations to help control Ebola.

The aid will include food, supplies for disease control, emergency treatment facilities, and capital support, the Ministry of Commerce said in a statement.

China will also promote long-term medical cooperation with African countries, to help them raise their disease control and response abilities and improve public health systems.

The Associated Press prepares for a pep talk:

Obama to visit Atlanta health center to talk Ebola

President Barack Obama will travel next week to Atlanta to address the Ebola crisis during a visit to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the White House said Friday.

During his visit on Tuesday, Obama will be briefed about the outbreak and discuss the U.S. response with officials, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said. Obama will also thank the doctors, scientists and health care workers responding to the crisis.

Four Americans have been or are being treated for Ebola in the U.S. after evacuation from Africa. The Ebola outbreak is the worst in history and has been blamed for more than 2,200 deaths in West Africa. So far, the death rate is about 50 percent, with doctors and nurses at a high risk of contracting the virus.

Punch Nigeria covers a significant decision:

Uniport Alumni backs Sept 22 schools resumption

The University of Port Harcourt Alumni has thrown it’s weight behind the decision of the Federal government to shift backwards the resumption date for primary and secondary schools in the country to September 22.

In a statement issued on Friday and signed by it’s National President, Mr. Sampson Ngerebara and the National Secretary, Mr.  Chris Adokeme, the association explained that it was satisfied with the presentation of the Minister of Health, Dr. Onyebuchi Chukwu on the basis for the rethink.

The Minister had told Nigerians that the shift in the resumption date was necessitated by the fact that the spread of the Ebola virus has been contained in the country.

From StarAfrica, a bullet dodged:

Nigeria: Quarantined S/African tests negative for Ebola

A South African woman, who was under quarantine in Nigeria as a suspected Ebola case, has tested negative for the disease.The woman will be allowed to return home, a U.S. disease expert, Dr. Aileen Marty, who is assisting Nigerian health authorities said in Lagos on Friday.

The traveller, who had flown into Lagos via Morocco on Thursday, was held overnight in an Ebola treatment centre for tests after she acknowledged suffering Ebola-like symptoms after working in Guinea and Sierra Leone since April.

The two countries and Liberia have been the epicenters of the epidemic since February.

The Liberian Inquirer intercepts:

BIN Officer Suspected Of Ebola Intercepted

An officer of the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization (BIN) whose wife died of Ebola in Monrovia was intercepted en route to Boniken while returning to the Southeast.

He entered onboard a truck marked ‘TT 2085?. Winston Isaac arrived in Maryland at 9:00 a.m. on Monday and was discovered in the ‘Cassava Farm Community’ in Pleebo.

According to our correspondent, the truck was en route to Grand Kru County with goods on board while another report coming from the county on a community radio in Pleebo disclosed that the goods were rejected by residents in Grand Kru County on ground that a man whose wife died of Ebola was onboard even though he stopped in Pleebo but intercepted in Boniken.

The Liberian Inquirer again, with outrage:

18 Dead, 47 Suspected Ebola Cases On The By-Pass…Residents Stone Rep. Gray’s House For “Abandoned” Body

In the wake of the wide spread of the deadly Ebola virus in the city, residents of the By-pass community have reported the death of 18 persons in the community with at least 47 suspected cases of Ebola.   Yesterday, hundreds of angry residents and community dwellers set up roadblock in protest to a suspected Ebola body which they said have been locked indoor for the past three days in the Rock Spring Community.

The residents through their Chairman, Joseph S. Kannah and Madam Ernestine King said since the death of a boy identified as Alvin Nyanti commonly known as Chineseboy in the community they have made several calls to the   Ebola Response Center but to no avail.

Mr. Kannah said about 16 persons were suspected of having the virus in the Rock Spring Community who have been continuously denied by the various treatment centers due to limited capacity to host them.

And from the Liberian Inquirer once more, admonition:

Gov’t Renews Warning To Would-Be “Ebola Rogues”…Releases Report On The Expenditure Of U. S. $5m

The acting Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Amara Konneh, says any individual or entity found to have abused the public trust in the management and operations of fund allotted for the fight against the deadly Ebola virus will be prosecuted in accordance with the law.   Acting Minister Konneh said the total estimated financial requirement to address the national response was initially quoted at US$2O million dollars, but rose to US$34.8 million when all implementing agencies submitted their three-month budget.

Minister Konneh said support to all health related interventions in this plan amounts to US$20 million, constituting 84 percent of the entire budget.

He said the Government of Liberia began the process with an initial injection of US$5 Million, made possible through a short term loan from the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL).

The Associated Press covers treatment:

American gets blood from fellow Ebola survivor

An American aid worker infected with Ebola has been given blood from a fellow doctor who battled the disease, and Nebraska doctors say the man has responded well to aggressive treatment in the past week.

Dr. Rick Sacra received two blood transfusions from Dr. Kent Brantly last weekend after arriving at the Nebraska Medical Center, Dr. Phil Smith said Thursday. Sacra also has been given an experimental drug that doctors refuse to identify, and he has received supportive care including IV fluids.

Sacra is close friends with Brantly, one of the first two Americans treated for Ebola in Atlanta last month, from their missionary work.

Bloomberg covers another sad consequence of the crisis:

Black Market in Blood Serum Emerging Amid Ebola Outbreak

A black market for an Ebola treatment derived from the blood of survivors is emerging in the West African countries experiencing the worst outbreak of the virus on record, the World Health Organization said.

The United Nations health agency will work with governments to stamp out the illicit trade in convalescent serum, WHO Director-General Margaret Chan told reporters today in Geneva, where the organization is based. There is a danger that such serums could contain other infections and wouldn’t be administered properly, Chan said.

The WHO is encouraging the use of properly obtained serum to treat current patients and said last week it should be a priority. A third U.S. missionary worker who was infected with Ebola in Liberia and flown to the U.S. for medical care was treated with blood transfusions from another American who recovered from the virus last month. Doctors hope the virus-fighting antibodies in the blood help the 51-year-old physician, Rick Sacra.

BBC News covers substantial help:

Cuba to send doctors to Ebola areas

Cuba is sending 165 health workers to help tackle the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, officials say. Doctors, nurses and infection control specialists will travel to Sierra Leone in October and stay for six months.

The announcement comes as the World Health Organization says new cases in West Africa are increasing faster than the capacity to manage them.

Dr Margaret Chan, director of the WHO, said: “If we are going to go to war with Ebola we need the resources to fight. “I am extremely grateful for the generosity of the Cuban government and these health professionals for doing their part to help us contain the worst Ebola outbreak ever known.”

BBC News again, with a symbolic gesture:

Recovered Ebola patient William Pooley to return to Africa ‘in a few weeks’

The first British person to contract Ebola in the current outbreak in Africa is to return to the country where he was infected in order to help others fight the disease.

William Pooley was treated in London after being flown out of Sierra Leone.

He has made a full recovery and, having been discharged from hospital, said he is to travel back within “a few weeks”.

Reuters covers withdrawal:

Netherlands to evacuate two doctors who had contact with Ebola victims

Authorities in the Netherlands are preparing to evacuate two Dutch doctors who had unprotected contact in Sierra Leone with patients who later died of Ebola, a Dutch public health official said on Friday.

The two doctors have shown no symptoms of the virus but authorities believe there is cause for concern because they were not wearing full protective clothing when they came into contact with the patients, who had not yet been diagnosed with Ebola.

“The two doctors’ personal protection should be considered inadequate. They could potentially have been exposed,” said Jaap van Dissel, director of the Dutch Center for Infectious Disease Control.

From BuzzFeed, the demographics of death:

Ebola Is Killing Women In Far Greater Numbers Than Men

  • A Liberian health official estimates 75% of Ebola deaths are women. That’s because they are the nation’s caregivers.

The Ministry of Health says fully 75% of the Ebola deaths it has counted are women, but it doesn’t release disaggregated mortality statistics. But Tolbert Nyenswah, the assistant minister of health who provided the estimate, agrees that whatever the number, women bear the biggest mortality burden of this disease. Culturally, they are expected to do the caretaking. “In this country,” he said, “men are bullshit.”

Slowly, health care workers are getting the equipment they need to touch patients, a head-to-toe uniform called PPE, or personal protective equipment. But there are no plans to issue PPE to mothers and wives and daughters.

It’s hard to imagine a mother tolerating PPE. The goggles and masks obscure the face; the head-to-toe white suit engulfs familiar body language or movement. People in PPE are white plastic strangers.

From TheLocal.es, more European fear:

Two new possible Ebola cases hit Spain

A 13-year-old boy and a 24-year-old man, both from Nigeria, have been admitted to hospital on the island of Majorca and the southern Spanish region of Murcia over fears they’re infected with the highly contagious Ebola virus.

Both suspected Ebola carriers flew to Spain in the past three weeks from the Nigerian capital of Lagos, Spanish national daily ABC reported.

Displaying Ebola symptoms such as muscle pain and high temperatures on admission to hospital, they are being kept in isolation in secure units equipped with the necessary means to deal with infectious diseases.

And for our final item, via the Guardian, the despicable Down Under:

Queensland Ebola scare: tourism chief says media damaged Gold Coast brand

  • Tourists reportedly cancelled holidays after a man had been admitted to a Gold Coast hospital with ‘Ebola-like’ symptoms

The head of Gold Coast Tourism says sensational media reporting of the recent Ebola scare damaged the region’s brand as a holiday destination.

Tourists reportedly cancelled holidays and changed flights amid reports that a 27-year-old man had been admitted to the Gold Coast University hospital with “Ebola-like” symptoms.

Michael Walsh, 27, a fly-in, fly-out miner from Western Australia, was cleared on Thursday of having the deadly virus after two blood tests returned negative results.

Greg Palast offers acidic take on the BP verdict


BP, the half-billion-dollar corporate sponsor of the University of California here in Berkeley, was the target this week of a scathing 150-page compendium of findings that help BP liable for billions in damages for the Gulf oil disaster.

In dialog with Abby Martin from Breaking the Set, journalist Greg “The Hat” Palast offers his sardonic take on the verdict, in which the disaster unfolds like a The Stooges script, but with results far more tragic and widespread.

And would you believe there was another oil spill in another part of the globe, currently inflamed?

From Breaking the Set:

What?! Another Massive BP Oil Spill Cover-Up? | Interview with Greg Palast

Program notes:

Abby Martin speaks with investigative journalist, Greg Palast discussing the most recent penalties against BP, and aspects of the company’s criminality that have been largely overlooked by the rest of the media including a massive oil spill cover-up in the Caspian Sea.