Bit under the weather and posting late, so we’ll start right in with the ongoing story of the year, first with CBC News:
Ebola outbreak: ‘We need action now,’ says CDC director Tom Frieden
- Ebola treatment reduced to places where people go to die: international president of Doctors Without Borders
Despite tremendous efforts to fight the Ebola outbreak on the part of governments in West Africa, cases continue to increase rapidly, the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns.
Dr. Tom Frieden gave an update on the outbreak to reporters on Tuesday, one day after his return from the West African countries most affected by the outbreak: Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
“The number of cases continues to increase and is now increasing rapidly. I’m afraid that over the next few weeks those numbers are likely to increase further and significantly. There is a window of opportunity to tamp this down, but that window is closing. We need action now to scale up the response. We know how to stop Ebola. The challenge is to scale it up to the massive levels needed to stop this outbreak,” Frieden said.
The CDC director said it was upsetting during his visit to see the shortage of hospital beds and the lack of a rapid response needed to prevent a single cluster of Ebola from becoming a large outbreak.
Another alarm via the Japan Times:
U.N. issues dire warning about food shortages in Ebola-hit nations
Labor shortages and disrupted cross-border trade caused by the deadly Ebola outbreak have sparked “grave food security concerns” in the worst-hit countries, the United Nations said Tuesday.
Restrictions on movement in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone has led to panic buying, food shortages and severe price hikes, especially in towns and cities, the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization said.
“Access to food has become a pressing concern for many people in the three affected countries and their neighbors,” said Bukar Tijani, FAO regional representative for Africa.
“With the main harvest now at risk and trade and movements of goods severely restricted, food insecurity is poised to intensify in the weeks and months to come. The situation will have long-lasting impacts on farmers’ livelihoods and rural economies.”
From the Washington Post, the latest First World victim:
Another U.S. doctor in Liberia tests positive for Ebola
A U.S. physician working in Liberia has tested positive for Ebola, the missionary organization SIM USA announced Tuesday.
The unnamed missionary doctor was treating obstetrics patients at the organization’s ELWA hospital in Monrovia, Liberia, and was not working with Ebola patients in the facility’s isolation unit, which is separate from the main hospital, according to a news release from the organization. He isolated himself immediately upon developing symptoms and has been transferred to the Ebola isolation unit.
The doctor is the fourth American to be diagnosed with the hemorrhagic disease that has killed more than half the people who have become infected during the current outbreak in West Africa. Another physician, Kent Brantly, and a missionary volunteer, Nancy Writebol, who also were working at ELWA hospital, were treated with an experimental medication and brought back to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, where both recovered.
From Reuters, chaos on the ground:
Liberian doctors strike, food prices spike as West Africa struggles to contain Ebola outbreak
Doctors in Liberia were out on strike on Tuesday as they struggled to cope with the outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus, while the United Nations warned the spread of the disease in West Africa was causing food shortages in one of the world’s poorest regions.
Governments and aid organizations are scrambling to contain the disease, which has killed more than 1,500 since March. Medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said 800 more beds for Ebola patients were urgently needed in the Liberian capital Monrovia alone, while in Sierra Leone highly infectious bodies were rotting in the streets.
Putting further pressure on the ability of the region’s governments to spend money on healthcare, the epidemic has also put harvests at risk and sent food prices soaring in West Africa, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said.
The FAO issued a special alert over food security for Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, the three countries most affected by the outbreak, which was detected in the forests of southeastern Guinea in March.
Another alarm via the Guardian:
Ebola outbreak: call to send in military to west Africa to help curb epidemic
- Head of Médecins sans Frontières urges UN to dispatch disaster response teams as cases and deaths continue to surge
Military teams should be sent to west Africa immediately if there is to be any hope of controlling the Ebola epidemic, doctors on the frontline told the United Nations on Tuesday, painting a stark picture of health workers dying, patients left without care and infectious bodies lying in the streets.
The international president of Médecins sans Frontières (MSF), Dr Joanne Liu, told member states that although alarm bells had been ringing for six months, the response had been too little, too late and no amount of vaccinations and new drugs would be able to prevent the escalating disaster.
“In west Africa, cases and deaths continue to surge,” she said. “Riots are breaking out. Isolation centres are overwhelmed. Health workers on the frontline are becoming infected and are dying in shocking numbers.
“Others have fled in fear, leaving people without care for even the most common illnesses. Entire health systems have crumbled.”
From BBC News, yet another alarm:
Ebola outbreak: West Africa food harvests ‘at risk’
The Ebola outbreak is putting food harvests in West Africa “at serious risk”, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warns.
It has raised a special alert for Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, the three countries worst affected.
Rice and maize production will be particularly affected during the coming harvest season, says the FAO.
The food shortages are expected to worsen in the coming months.
A complication from MercoPress:
Ebola outbreak in Congo is the indigenous ‘Zaire strain’ and not connected to West Africa
Results from virus sequencing of samples from the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have been analyzed and they belong to the so called Zaire strain, in a lineage most closely related to a virus from the 1995 Ebola outbreak in Kikwit, DRC.
The Zaire strain of the virus is indigenous in the country. Ebola first emerged in 1976 in almost simultaneous outbreaks in the Democratic Republic of Congo (then Zaire) and South Sudan (then Sudan).
Confirmatory testing was done at Gabon’s Centre International de Recherches Médicales in Franceville, a WHO collaborating centre. Earlier, testing in DRC confirmed Ebola in 6 of 8 samples.
The outbreak is located in the remote Boende district, Equateur province in the north-western part of the country.
And from the continent via Punch Nigeria:
Kaduna records first suspected Ebola case
KADUNA has recorded its first suspected case of the Ebola Virus Disease with 19 years old student from Zaria being put under monitor at the isolation centre at the Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital, Zaria.
The suspect, an undergraduate of the Ahmadu Bello University, has been said to be exhibiting symptoms of the deadly EVD.
Kaduna State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Thot Dogo, confirmed this to one our correspondents in Kaduna on Tuesday.
From BBC News, underway:
Ebola vaccine human trial begins in the US
The first of several Ebola vaccine trials has begun in the US with researchers studying how human immune systems respond to it.
Twenty healthy adult volunteers are being tested at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Maryland.
The trial has been brought forward amid an outbreak of the disease in West Africa that has killed at least 1,500.
No volunteers will be infected with the Ebola virus but the vaccine has performed well in primate trials.
Next, a short video of the virus and the way it works from Agence France-Presse:
More than 1,500 people have already died as a serious Ebola epidemic sweeps parts of west Africa.
United Press International prescribes:
Ebola outbreak in West Africa can be stopped with 3 steps, says CDC
According to Dr. Tom Frieden, the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are “Three keys to stop Ebola: more resources, technical experts and global, coordinated approach.”In the hardest hit countries, like Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, more resources are essential.
Frieden described a recent visit to an Ebola clinic where “I went to a new ward that opened with 35 beds — and in less than a week they had 63 patients, many lying on the floor.”
Such resource shortages, he said, points to “a need for data to better trace where Ebola is beginning to spread. And there is a basic need for infrastructure like trucks, jeeps and motorcycles. Perhaps most importantly, there is need for a functional emergency operations center at either the national or the district levels directing an efficient response.”
JapanToday tests positive:
Japanese researchers develop 30-minute Ebola test
Japanese researchers said Tuesday they had developed a new method to detect the presence of the Ebola virus in 30 minutes, with technology that could allow doctors to quickly diagnose infection.
Professor Jiro Yasuda and his team at Nagasaki University say their process is also cheaper than the system currently in use in west Africa where the virus has already killed more than 1,500 people.
“The new method is simpler than the current one and can be used in countries where expensive testing equipment is not available,” Yasuda told AFP by telephone.
From the Associated Press, no comment needed:
Obama addresses West Africans on facts about Ebola
President Barack Obama is telling the people of West Africa that stopping the spread of Ebola won’t be easy, but “we know how to do it.”
In a video message the White House has released, Obama says the first step is to know the facts.
He goes on to say that Ebola is not spread through the air, like the flu, or from such casual contact as sitting next to someone on a bus. Obama says the most common method of infection is touching the sweat, saliva or blood of someone who is sick or who has died from the disease, or coming into contact with a contaminated item.
On to another continent and another outbreak via the Asahi Shimbun:
Dengue fever cases jump to 34 as outbreak spreads around Japan
Health ministry officials announced on Sept. 2 that 12 more cases of dengue fever have been confirmed from mosquitoes at Tokyo’s Yoyogi Park, with the outbreak spreading farther across the country.
The latest patients reside in Tokyo, Osaka, Aomori and Yamanashi prefectures. Like the 22 other cases already confirmed, the 12 individuals have not gone abroad recently, but have visited Yoyogi Park in Shibuya Ward and its vicinity.
All 12 of the latest patients are in stable condition. There is no vaccine or medicine, but proper treatment can lower the mortality rate to under 1 percent.
Next up, water woes, starting with this from Bloomberg:
Halliburton to Pay $1.1 Billion to Settle Spill Lawsuits
Halliburton Co. agreed to pay $1.1 billion to settle a majority of lawsuits brought over its role in the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history.
The agreement is subject to court approval and includes legal fees, the Houston-based company said in a statement today. Halliburton was accused by spill victims and BP Plc of doing defective cementing work on the Macondo well before the April 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Halliburton blamed the incident on decisions by BP, which owned the well.
The settlement comes as the judge overseeing oil-spill cases weighs fault for the disaster. An agreement now averts the company’s risk of a more costly judgment for some spill victims and removes much of the uncertainty that has plagued Halliburton for the past four years as investors waited to see the payout tally. With its biggest piece of liability resolved, Halliburton can refocus its attention on developing new oilfield technology that will help it boost profits worldwide.
From Jiji Press, the unspeakable:
Japan to Resume Research Whaling in Antarctic Ocean
Japan’s Fisheries Agency said Tuesday that it will resume research whaling next fiscal year in the Antarctic Ocean but will only catch Antarctic minke whales, which are relatively abundant.
The new policy of excluding fin and humpback whales, which Japan has been allowed to catch certain numbers of, comes after the International Court of Justice last March ordered the country to end its research whaling in the Antarctic Ocean.
In the ruling, the ICJ said that Japan’s whaling in the Antarctic Ocean does not fall under the category of scientific research, which is allowed.
While the Guardian has some good news:
Abbot Point port developers to ditch Great Barrier Reef seabed dumping plan
- Developers are set to submit a new proposal in which dredged sediment is disposed of on land rather than at sea
A plan to dump 5m tonnes of seabed sediment into the Great Barrier Reef marine park is set to be ditched following an outcry from environmentalists and some scientists.
The developers of the Abbot Point port, near the Queensland town of Bowen, are about to submit a new proposal which will mean the dredged seabed is disposed of on land rather than at sea, according to the Australian Financial Review.
It’s understood that the proponents, North Queensland Bulk Ports, GVK Hancock and Adani Group, will forward the plan within the next two weeks to Greg Hunt, the federal environment minister. Hunt’s office said the minister hadn’t yet seen the alternate proposal.
Hunt has already approved a plan to dredge 3m cubic metres, equivalent to 5m tonnes, of seabed in order to expand Abbot Point for an increase in coal exports.
The Guardian again, with another kind of water woe:
Bushfire centre forecasts increased threats in southern Australia
- Rain patterns raise risk of forest fires on eastern seaboard and grass fires further south
Successive seasons of high rainfall in some areas and a long, dry spell in others have delivered a mixed bag of increased bushfire threats for southern Australia this year.
A two-year rain deficit and a predicted warm, dry spring will increase fire risk in forested areas along the eastern seaboard and south-west Western Australia over the warmer months, the Bushfire and Natural Hazards Co-operative Research Centre has predicted.
But higher-than-average rainfall has increased the risk of grass fires on the Nullarbor Plain, in the mid-west and desert regions of WA and much of South Australia’s Eyre peninsula and mid-north.
On to Fukushimapocalypse Now!, starting with this from the Asahi Shimbun:
4 workers hired to decommission Fukushima plant plan 90 million yen suit on unpaid hazard pay
Four workers involved in the decommissioning process at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant plan to sue the operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., and the general contractors who hired them for skimming off their danger allowances.
According to their lawyers, the workers say that TEPCO and their employers failed to ensure that they received the hazard pay to which they are entitled.
They are demanding a total of 90 million yen ($865,385) in damages.
The lawsuit, expected to be filed at the Fukushima District Court on Sept. 3, would be the first such suit to be brought by workers at the plant, the lawyers said.
The Japan Times recalls:
Fukushima workers tried to save reactor 1 through venting
Less than 12 hours after the quake-triggered tsunami hit the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear complex on March 11, 2011, Tokyo Electric Power Co. sought government approval for the unprecedented step of releasing radioactive steam from troubled reactors to reduce the dangerous buildup of pressure.
Prime Minister Naoto Kan, however, would soon become distrustful of Tepco because of delays in starting the venting operations, which were aimed at preventing damage to the reactor containment vessels.
“Tepco said it wanted to do venting. So I told Tepco to do it, but it didn’t,” Kan recalled. “I asked why, but there wasn’t a reply. I thought things would go wrong if they kept going on like this.”
From the Asahi Shimbun, the stipulations:
Fukushima governor sets 5 conditions for storing radioactive waste
The Fukushima governor issued five conditions for accepting radioactive debris at a planned interim storage facility, including a law stipulating that the waste will be moved outside the prefecture within 30 years.
Governor Yuhei Sato’s demand for the legislation came at a meeting with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo on Sept. 1. During the talks, Sato conveyed the decision of the prefecture and the towns of Okuma and Futaba, which co-host the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, to accept construction of the storage facility.
“(Giving consent to the construction) will force the localities to bear an enormous burden, but we had to make a heart-wrenching decision to accept it in order to expedite rebuilding and the recovery of the environment,” Sato said.
And for our final item, combinatorial diasterism from NHK WORLD:
NRA to study possible volcano eruptions
Japan’s nuclear regulator is set to work on criteria for determining levels of volcanic eruptions that would affect nuclear power operations.
The Nuclear Regulatory Authority, or NRA, requires nuclear power plant operators to take specific measures if volcanic activity could affect operations. The measures include removing nuclear fuel from the facilities.
The NRA held a meeting on Tuesday with volcanologists to discuss how to deal with what might be seen as signs of massive volcanic eruptions.