Once again, we open with Ebola news, first with a perhaps needless tragedy via CBC News:
Dying Sierra Leone Dr. Sheik Umar Khan never told Ebola drug was available
- Just days later, same experimental drug given to U.S. doctor, missionary
The story of Sierra Leone’s “hero doctor” does not have a happy ending.
Even though Dr. Sheik Umar Khan was an experienced virus warrior, and hemorrhagic fevers were his specialty, he tested positive for Ebola on July 22 and died in seven terrible days.
His friends and colleagues from around the world are sick with grief, and a haunting question hangs in the air. Did doctors make the right decision in refusing to treat him with an experimental drug?
From Reuters, border-crossing carriers:
Guinea reopens Ebola clinic as sick spill over border
Guinea said on Saturday it will reopen an Ebola clinic in its remote southeast as sick nationals living in Liberia and Sierra Leone spill over the borders in search of better treatment.
West Africa’s Guinea, the first country in the region to be affected by the deadly virus which has killed more than 1,100 people, says it has brought the outbreak under control. But it is worried that a poor response to the epidemic from its neighbors will reverse its progress.
“We are concerned about the length of the border with Sierra Leone and Liberia, specifically in Macenta and Pamelap,” said Sakoba Keita from Guinea’s Health Ministry, referring to border towns.
The Associated Press covers another aspect:
Ebola health workers battle death, heat, rumors
Doctors and nurses fighting Ebola in West Africa are working 14-hour days, seven days a week, wearing head-to-toe gear in the heat of muddy clinics. Agonizing death is the norm. The hellish conditions aren’t the only problem: Health workers struggle to convince patients they’re trying to help them, not hurt them.
Rumors are rife that Western aid workers are importing Ebola, stealing bodies or even deliberately infecting patients. Winning trust is made harder by a full suit of hood, goggles, mask and gown that hides their faces.
“You want to say so much … because they’re in so much pain,” said nurse Monia Sayah, of Doctors Without Borders. “They suffer so much, but they can only see your eyes.”
The outbreak has hit three of the world’s poorest countries, where health systems there were already woefully understaffed and ill-equipped. In Liberia, there is only one doctor for every 100,000 people, while in Sierra Leone there are two, according to the World Health Organization; there were no statistics available for Guinea. The figure is 245 for the United States.
The Associated Press covers a call:
UN urges exit screening for Ebola at some airports
Ebola-affected countries should immediately begin exit screening all passengers leaving international airports, sea ports and major ground crossings, the U.N. health agency said on Monday.
The agency didn’t spell out which countries should start screening passengers, but noted that the Ebola outbreak involves transmission in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leona and a “small number of people in Nigeria.”
All countries, even those unaffected by the outbreak in West Africa, need to strengthen their ability to detect and immediately contain new cases without doing anything that unnecessarily interferes with international travel or trade, the agency said. But countries don’t need to impose travel restrictions and active screening of passengers if they do not share borders with Ebola-affected countries, it said.
More from Channel NewsAsia Singapore:
WHO sets up Ebola task force with global airline and travel sector
The World Health Organisation said on Monday (Aug 18) that it had set up a task force with the global airline and tourism industry in an effort to contain the spread of Ebola.
The UN agency said it was working hand in hand with the International Civil Aviation Organisation, the World Tourism Organization, Airports Council International (ACI), the International Air Transport Association and the World Travel and Tourism Council.
The goal, it said in a statement, was to “support the global efforts to contain the spread of the disease and provide a coordinated international response for the travel and tourism sector”. It added that the task force would “monitor the situation and provide timely information to the travel and tourism sector as well as to travellers”.
Still more, via Businessweek:
Airlines Urged to Keep Flying in West Africa Amid Ebola Outbreak
The Ebola outbreak in West Africa has reached crisis proportions but poses no particular risk to air travelers, according to health officials and airlines—and air service should continue to serve affected areas to help combat the disease. That’s the message the International Air Transport Association, a trade group for global airlines, is pressing, bolstered by the World Health Organization, which says there’s no need for travel bans over the virus.
“Ebola is a terrible disease, but it is not easy to contract,” IATA’s vice president for Africa, Raphael Kuuchi, said today at an aviation conference in Johannesburg. “It can only be caught through contact with bodily fluids. It is almost impossible to be infected by someone on a flight.”
Researchers believe the virus cannot be transmitted through the air. “Because the risk of Ebola transmission on airplanes is so low, WHO does not consider air transport hubs at high risk for further spread of Ebola,” Dr. Isabelle Nuttall, director of WHO Global Capacity Alert and Response, said in an Aug. 14 news release.
On to climate change and future woes for the Napa Vally via Want China Times:
Climate change may mean China could be top wine producer by 2050
Warmer temperatures caused by climate change may mean that the south of France will no longer be able to produce high-quality wine in the future, which may present new wine-producing opportunities for northern Europe and China in the future, reports Shanghai-based China Business News.
A report published in 2005 by Professor Gregory Jones and his coworkers compared the temperatures at 27 wine-producing regions during grape-growing seasons over 50 years and concluded that the south of France will likely be unsuitable for producing wine by 2050. Li Yangang, one of ten Chinese nationals who has received a Level 4 certificate from the world renowned wine education institute WSET, said the region may still be able to produce wine but it would be of a lower quality
The future of major wine producers in Spain, Italy, the United States and Australia has been threatened by climate change. Jones’ research team predicted that between 2000 and 2049, the average temperature during grape’s growing system will increase 2.04°C, which would be devastating for wine producers who will have a hard time finding enough water for their vineyards.
Sky News covers ecocrisis:
Trains Carrying Toxic Chemicals Crash Head-On
Hundreds of people are evacuated after the trains smashed into each other and exploded into flames in northeast Arkansas.
Two freight trains carrying toxic chemicals have crashed head-on in the US, killing two people and injuring two others. Firefighters spent seven hours extinguishing the fire as diesel and chemicals on board burst into flames.
Around 500 people were evacuated from the crash scene in Hoxie, a small town in northeast Arkansas.
From Shanghai Daily, we’ll have the unleaded, please:
Lead found in baby cereal from Heinz
Heinz baby products are at the center of a health scare after food safety authorities in east China’s Zhejiang Province sealed 614 boxes of cereal made by the US food giant.
Excessive levels of lead were found in 400-gram boxes of “AD Calcium Hi-Protein Cereal” with batch number 20140413 during a regular food inspection, the Zhejiang Provincial Food and Drug Administration said yesterday.
Food safety staff launched a special inspection of 303 food vendors in the province. The sealed products were 483 boxes from two trade companies in Hangzhou, the provincial capital, and 131 from retailers.
On to Fukushimapocalypse Now!, starting with a homecoming invitation from the Asahi Shimbun:
Second group of Fukushima residents given OK to return home in evacuation zone
Some residents of this village who lived within the 20-kilometer restricted zone surrounding the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant were told on Aug. 17 that they can soon return home, only the second time the right of return has been granted.
The lifting of the evacuation order will allow the return of 275 residents living in 139 households in the eastern area of the village of Kawauchi.
The government made the announcement during a meeting with residents of the village on Aug. 17.
The Mainichi adds a critical element:
Gov’t decides to lift evacuation order on Fukushima village despite residents’ protests
An evacuation order for the eastern part of this village that has been in place since the Fukushima nuclear disaster will be lifted on Oct. 1, government officials agreed on Aug. 17, despite residents protesting that it is too early to lift the order.
The order covers an area with 139 households where 275 people live within 20 kilometers from the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant. Also on Oct. 1, a stricter evacuation order covering 18 households where 54 people live will be lowered in severity to allow more access.
The agreement was reached by Senior Vice Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Kazuyoshi Akaba and Kawauchi Mayor Yuko Endo. Akaba is also head of the national government’s local nuclear disaster-response headquarters.
And from the Asahi Shimbun, a nuclear payoff proposal:
TEPCO, Tohoku Electric to ‘donate’ 200 million yen more to village hosting nuclear reprocessing complex
Embattled Tokyo Electric Power Co. and Tohoku Electric Power Co. will make a final combined 200 million yen ($1.95 million) “donation” to a village hosting the nuclear fuel reprocessing plant, despite industry ministry criticism, The Asahi Shimbun has found.
The payment, which the two utilities have made annually since fiscal 2010, will go to assist the local fisheries industry in the village of Rokkasho in Aomori Prefecture.
An Asahi Shimbun investigation into the village’s financial data and interviews with local officials showed that the Rokkasho government sent a document requesting financial assistance to TEPCO and Tohoku Electric on July 14.
And the cold shoulder, from NHK WORLD:
Town rejects plans to build radioactive waste site
The mayor of Shioya, in Tochigi Prefecture north of Tokyo, has demanded that the government retract its plan to build a permanent radioactive waste storage site in his town.
The Environment Ministry is seeking to construct facilities in 5 prefectures within the Tokyo metropolitan area and northern Japan. The facilities will permanently hold sewage sludge, incinerated ash, and other debris contaminated with more than 8,000 becquerels per kilogram of radioactive materials. The highly radioactive waste was incurred by the nuclear accident in Fukushima in March 2011.
Last month, the ministry decided to use state-owned land in Shioya to build one of the facilities. The ministry wants the town’s cooperation in field surveys in the area. But the town is opposed to the construction. Town Mayor Kazuhisa Mikata and the speaker of the local assembly visited the ministry on Monday.
Kyodo News exports:
Japan resumes exporting Fukushima rice after 2011 nuclear crisis
Exporting of rice grown in Fukushima Prefecture has resumed after it was halted in the wake of the nuclear crisis in 2011 and concerns about radiation contamination, a national agricultural cooperative said Monday.
Three hundred kilograms of the Koshihikari brand of rice produced in Sukagawa City, Fukushima, has arrived in Singapore, and will be sold at a supermarket from Friday after clearing customs, according to the National Federation of Agricultural Cooperative Associations.
Fukushima Prefecture, a major producer of rice, had exported some 100 tons of rice in the year to March 2011 to such regions as Hong Kong, before the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami that triggered the nuclear accident in the prefecture.
Meanwhile, another troublesome fuel gets a legal thumbs up, via the McClatchy Washington Bureau:
Court rejects challenge to big tar sands oil pipeline
A federal judge on Monday rejected environmentalists’ challenge to a nearly 600-mile pipeline designed to carry tar sands crude oil between Illinois and Oklahoma.
In a 48-page decision, U.S. District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson concluded the Flanagan South Pipeline could proceed without further federal study.
“This much is clear,” Jackson wrote. “A private company is constructing the FS Pipeline project largely on privately-owned land; the federal agencies that have been consulted about aspects of the pipeline project have control over only a small portion of the land and waterways that the pipeline traverses; and no statute authorizes the federal government to regulate or oversee the construction of a domestic oil pipeline.”
And for our final item, via the Associated Press, green maybe, but also medium rare:
BrightSource solar plant sets birds on fire as they fly overhead
- Death estimates range from 1,000 to 28,000 per year
Workers at a state-of-the-art solar plant in the Mojave Desert have a name for birds that fly through the concentrated beams of solar energy focused upward by the plant’s 300,000 mirrors — “streamers,” for the smoke plume that comes from birds that ignite in midair.
Federal wildlife investigators who visited BrightSource Energy’s Ivanpah plant last year and watched as birds burned and fell, reporting an average of one “streamer” every two minutes, are urging California officials to halt the operator’s application to build a still-bigger version.
The investigators want the halt until the full extent of the deaths can be assessed. Estimates per year now range from a low of about a thousand by BrightSource to 28,000 by an expert for the Center for Biological Diversity environmental group.