Category Archives: Wealth

EbolaWatch: Fears, pols, profits, and Africa


And after the jump, there’s an extensive compendium of reports from African news media covering the crisis day-to-day.

First, a warning from South China Morning Post:

Ebola outbreak will hit China, virus pioneer Peter Piot warns

  • Number of workers in Africa raises threat, says Peter Piot, who also dismisses HK screening

One of the scientists who discovered Ebola has warned that China is under threat from the deadly virus because of the huge number of Chinese workers in Africa.

Professor Peter Piot also made the grim prediction that Ebola would claim thousands more lives in the months ahead.

“It will get worse for a while, and then hopefully it will get better when people are isolated,” said Piot, who is in Hong Kong for a two-day symposium. “What we see now is every 30 days there is a doubling of new infections.” He estimated the epidemic would last another six to 12 months.

“In Africa, there are many Chinese working there. So that could be a risk for China in general, and I assume that one day [an outbreak of Ebola in China] will happen,” said Piot, director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

More from the New York Times:

As Ebola Spreads, Asia Senses Vulnerability

“What happened in the [United] States took us by surprise,” said Louis Shih, the president of the Hong Kong Medical Association. “We were sort of feeling like, ‘Oh, don’t worry’ — the medical sector is now quite alarmed.”

An analysis published online last week by The Lancet, a medical journal, reviewed International Air Transport Association data for flights from Sept. 1 to Dec. 31 this year, as well as data from 2013, out of the three countries in West Africa with the biggest outbreaks of Ebola virus: Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. It found that six of the top nine estimated destinations for travelers from these countries were elsewhere in Africa. The others were in Europe: Britain, France and Belgium.

But the 10th-largest destination was China. India was 13th. (Mali, a West African country that reported its first Ebola death on Friday, was 11th, and the United States was 12th.)

And another warning from the NewDawn in Monrovia, Liberia:

Ebola’s Next Frontier

Which countries, beyond those in West Africa, are most susceptible to the Ebola epidemic? Most epidemiologists do not fear much for the developed world, with its effective quarantine measures and tracking procedures, or even for sparsely populated developing countries. An outbreak could easily be contained in both groups of countries. But large, densely populated areas, lacking the proper containment mechanisms are highly vulnerable.

India, with its large emigrant population (the second largest in the world), high urban density, and inadequate public health-care infrastructure, potentially has the most to lose if the Ebola virus spreads. Links to West Africa are close and go back over the last century, with almost 50,000 Indians or people of Indian origin living in the region.

Indeed, scores of people fly between Accra, Lagos, Freetown, Monrovia, or Abidjan and New Delhi, Mumbai, Calcutta, or Chennai on a daily basis, transiting through the Middle East or Europe. While exit controls are in place in all of the international airports in the affected regions, the virus’s incubation period (which averages eight days in the current outbreak but can be up to 21 days) means that someone with no symptoms from a recent infection could make the trip to India without triggering alarms.

The Los Angeles Times has the domestic scare de jour:

Child is being tested for Ebola in New York; mother in quarantine

A child who had recently been in the Ebola-affected nation of Guinea took ill in New York City on Sunday night and is being isolated at a hospital, health officials said Monday.

The child was being tested for Ebola, and results were expected by the afternoon, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene said in a statement.

The patient was taken to Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan and did not have a fever when first examined there but developed one around 7 a.m., the department said.

The child’s mother is being quarantined at Bellevue and has “no symptoms whatsoever,” New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a Monday news conference.

The McClatchy Washington Bureau covers the denouement:

New York 5-year-old tested negative for Ebola

An unidentified minor who recently arrived in the United States from West Africa and was placed in isolation over concerns that he might have contracted Ebola tested negative for the virus Monday, New York City health officials said.

“Out of an abundance of caution, further negative Ebola tests are required on subsequent days to ensure that the patient is cleared,” according to a statement from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. “The patient will also be tested for common respiratory viruses. The patient will remain in isolation until all test results have returned.”

Once positive, now negative, via the Los Angeles Times:

Nurse quarantined in New Jersey tests negative for Ebola, can go home

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie announced Monday that a nurse who was quarantined in Newark after returning from treating Ebola-afflicted people in West Africa would be released and allowed to go home after she tested negative.

Christie’s move followed a barrage of criticism from civil rights groups, aid agencies and White House officials, who said the quarantine measures announced Friday would discourage much-needed medical personnel from going to fight the Ebola outbreak in Africa.

Nurse Kaci Hickox complained that she was put in an unheated tent on the grounds of Newark University Hospital after returning from Sierra Leone on Friday. She tested negative for Ebola, which has a 21-day incubation period.

In a statement Monday from New Jersey’s department of health, officials said Hickox “has thankfully been symptom free for the past 24 hours.”

Reuters coveys a plea:

Don’t let quarantine hysteria deter Ebola health workers: U.N.

Governments must not deter health workers from coming to West Africa to fight Ebola and quarantine decisions should not be based on hysteria, the head of the U.N. mission battling the virus said on Monday.

The U.S. states of New York, New Jersey and Illinois have issued new quarantine rules for people returning from West Africa in response to fears that U.S. federal guidelines do not go far enough to contain an outbreak centred in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone that has infected 10,000 people.

Some groups have challenged the rules as too extreme and a nurse who was quarantined after returning from Sierra Leone criticised her isolation on Sunday saying she posed no health threat.

“Anything that will dissuade foreign trained personnel from coming here to West Africa and joining us on the frontline to fight the fight would be very, very unfortunate,” Anthony Banbury, head of the U.N. Ebola Emergency Response Mission (UNMEER), told Reuters.

More from The Hill:

CDC wants tight restrictions on only high-risk Ebola workers

The Obama administration is pushing back against several states’ quarantine policies for Ebola health workers, unveiling new restrictions Monday that apply only to “high-risk” individuals returning from West Africa.

The guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stop far short of 21-day quarantines imposed by several states that have been heavily criticized by public health experts and the Obama administration.

Only individuals known to have direct exposure to the disease, such as a family member who cared for an Ebola patient without protective gear, are told to remain home under the new recommendations.

Surveillance from Reuters:

Virginia to boost Ebola monitoring, state health official says

Virginia will boost Ebola monitoring for travelers arriving from the countries of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, state Health Commissioner Dr. Marissa Levine said on Monday.

All travelers will be assessed for Ebola and for their health status, Levine said on a conference call. They will be required to sign an agreement to follow health care steps such as taking temperatures, she said

From Reuters, a story about one prominent political figure willing to abide by any quarantines in effect on her return to the U.S. from the hot zone:

Samantha Power will “abide” by quarantine requirements – State Dept.

Program notes:

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power is not expected to visit any Ebola treatment centers during her trip to West Africa but will abide by any relevant quarantine requirements, the State Department says

Another quarantine development from Reuters:

U.S. isolates soldiers after Ebola response mission in West Africa

The U.S. Army has started isolating soldiers returning from an Ebola response mission in West Africa, even though they showed no symptoms of infection and were not believed to have been exposed to the deadly virus, officials said on Monday.

The decision goes well beyond previously established military protocols and came just as President Barack Obama’s administration sought to discourage precautionary quarantines being imposed by some U.S. states on healthcare workers returning from countries battling Ebola.

The Army has already isolated about a dozen soldiers upon their return this weekend to their home base in Vicenza, Italy. That includes Major General Darryl Williams, the commander of U.S. Army Africa, who oversaw the military’s initial response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

Another front-line contingent from the New York Times:

For New York Crew, Fighting Ebola With Brush and Cleanser

Around the time New Yorkers started fretting over the city’s first diagnosis of Ebola last Thursday, Sal Pain began drawing up plans for four decontamination chambers, customized for a cramped Harlem hallway.

The narrow dimensions of the hallway — it was only four feet wide — outside the fifth-floor apartment Dr. Craig Spencer, the Ebola patient, shares with his fiancée was among the more difficult situations confronted by hazardous-materials workers in their efforts to contain the Ebola virus. The standard decontamination station, a bulging, inflatable unit, would not do.

So Mr. Pain, the chief safety officer for Bio-Recovery Corporation, which has cleaned Dr. Spencer’s apartment and the Gutter, a bowling alley Dr. Spencer had visited in Brooklyn, improvised. He lined the hallway walls with 6 millimeters of plastic on Friday morning, and then made a frame out of PVC pipe. About 12 hours later, after sterilizing everything from four bicycles to a cuticle cutter, the 10-member crew stood in the hallway and washed themselves with chemical and water showers.

Scapegoating from the McClatchy Washington Bureau:

Anguished and afraid, West Africans in U.S. stay clear of new arrivals

Charlotte, N.C., merchant Tonieh Ross says her heart cries for the orphaned children back home in Liberia who aren’t getting the hugs they so need, for fear of the deadly Ebola virus.

Ross, the owner of the Virtuous D Boutique, also frets about her younger sister in Monrovia, Eugenia, whose paycheck disappeared when her employer shuttered his business and left the disease-ravaged country. Now Eugenia is among some 20 desperate Liberians, mostly children, phoning Ross “over and over and over until something happens” – that is, until she or her friends send money or food, she said.

“I have given everything just to be available and help my country,” Ross said.

While Ross and other West Africans living in cities across America are traumatized by images of suddenly orphaned kids or children lying ill in the streets in their native lands, they also live in fear themselves.

They know they may be among U.S. residents facing the greatest risk of exposure to the deadly disease. Visitors and immigrants from Ebola-stricken Liberia, Sierra Leone or Guinea are likely to first visit or live among their friends and relatives, just as Thomas Eric Duncan planned to do when he flew to Dallas before taking ill with Ebola, infecting two nurses. He died Oct 8.

More from BuzzFeed:

Two Senegalese Boys Got Beat Up And Called “Ebola” In New York City

Local lawmakers called the attack a “hate crime” and warned of a “bullying crisis” stemming from misinformation about the Ebola virus. Members of New York City’s West African community complained that people are avoiding their businesses for fear of contracting the disease.

Two Senegalese-American middle school students were taken to the hospital on Friday after suffering a beating at the hands of their classmates, in an attack apparently motivated by fear of the Ebola virus that local lawmakers called a “hate crime.”

The attack took place at Intermediate School 318 in the Bronx, where the students — brothers Abdou and Amedou Drame — are enrolled in the eighth and sixth grades. The students recently arrived to the United States from Senegal. Both of the boys suffered minor injuries and were released from the hospital later on Friday.

Speaking at a Monday press conference at the Harlem headquarters of the Association of Senegalese in America, Rep. José Serrano and State Sen. Bill Perkins called the attack a “hate crime” and warned of rising discrimination and xenophobia against West Africans in the wake of the Ebola epidemic.

From the Associated Press, a very important question:

Could more have been done for Thomas Eric Duncan?

Dr. Thomas Geisbert, an Ebola expert at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, said he had trouble understanding why four days elapsed between Duncan’s confirmed test results on Sept. 30 and his first treatment. And he was surprised by the choice of experimental drug given to Duncan.

“The guys who do what I do, working in this field, find it puzzling,” said Geisbert, a professor of microbiology and immunology who has been studying Ebola since the early 1990s and was consulted on two of the U.S. cases. “It kind of came out of left field. I think the jury is still out on why this would have any activity against Ebola.”

Although treatments have varied, ZMapp and TKM-Ebola are the only drugs proven to protect nonhuman primates from Ebola, Geisbert said.

While the manufacturer of ZMapp ran out of the drug before Duncan’s diagnosis, limited doses of TKM-Ebola were available, according to Julie Rezler, a spokeswoman for the drugmaker, Tekmira.

The latter was given to Dr. Rick Sacra, an American physician who was infected with Ebola in Liberia. He was treated at a Nebraska hospital and released healthy on Sept. 25, five days before blood tests confirmed Duncan’s diagnosis.

Other survivors include American medical missionaries Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol, who received doses of ZMapp in Liberia before they were flown to the United States.

Quarantine at the Aussie border from BBC News:

Australia suspends visas for people travelling from Ebola-hit countries

Australia temporarily stops issuing visas to people from countries affected by Ebola, in a bid to stop the virus from entering the country.

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison told parliament that Australia would suspend its immigration programme for such travellers.

The restriction comes after an 18-year-old who arrived from West Africa earlier this month was admitted to hospital with a fever. She later tested negative for Ebola.

Mr Morrison said on Monday that those who have received non-permanent or temporary visas and who have not yet left for Australia will have their visas cancelled. Those with permanent visas can enter the country, but have to be quarantined for 21 days prior to arriving.

While the Guardian covers more Australian concerns:

Australia seeks hospital back-up for volunteers in Ebola-hit countries

  • As Coalition signals change in policy on relief workers, minister wants to ensure that Australians can call on western-run medical treatment

The Abbott government is considering whether western-run field hospitals in west Africa would have the capacity to cater for any Australian health volunteers who contract Ebola, and what quarantine rules should apply to workers when they return home.

Australia has previously resisted calls to send medical experts to the region on the basis that it has been unable to secure iron-clad guarantees from other countries to help transfer volunteers in the event they contracted the virus.

The health minister, Peter Dutton, signalled on Monday that the government would “have further comments to make in relation to these matters” and was considering whether health workers would have access to “appropriate medical assistance on the ground”.

And the Italians act on theirs, via TheLocal.it:

US troops isolated in Italy over Ebola fears

US troops returning from West Africa are being placed under isolation at a base in Italy as a precaution to prevent the potential spread of the Ebola virus, the Pentagon said on Monday.

“Out of an abundance of caution, the army directed a small number of personnel, about a dozen, that recently returned to Italy, to be monitored in a separate location at their home station of Vicenza,” spokesman Colonel Steven Warren told reporters.

But he added: “None of these individuals have shown any symptoms of exposure.”

Major General Darryl Williams, who stepped down Saturday as head of the military mission in Liberia helping to fight the Ebola outbreak, and 11 members of his staff, were assigned to a separate location at the base in Italy and were being monitored by a medical team, Warren said.

From El País, a quarantine ends:

Ebola victim’s husband released from hospital after 21 days in isolation

  • Javier Limón will speak to the media on Monday afternoon to discuss plans for legal action

The husband of Teresa Romero, the Spanish nursing assistant who became the first known Ebola transmission case outside of Africa, has been discharged from hospital.

Javier Limón left Carlos III Hospital in Madrid after spending 21 days in isolation because of his close contact with the infected patient. He did not develop any Ebola symptoms, health officials said.

Limón, who has been acting as a buffer between his wife and the outside world, where media interest in the couple remains huge, left in the company of his lawyer at 9.45am. He used a different entrance from the one where journalists and camera crews were waiting for him, around 400 meters away.

And fury ensues. Via TheLocal.es:

They treated us as scum: husband of Ebola nurse

The husband of Spanish nursing assistant Teresa Romero who beat the Ebola virus has slammed the handling of the country’s Ebola crisis as a “complete disaster”, saying he now plans to take Madrid’s health boss to court over comments made about him and his wife.

“They laughed at us, they treated us like scum,” said Romero’s huband Javier Limón in an interview with Spain’s El Mundo newspaper.

“They destroyed our life, they killed our dog, and they nearly killed my wife,” said an angry Limón who left Madrid’s Carlos III hospital on Monday morning after three weeks in isolation.

“On top of all that, this guy comes out and says that my wife — who volunteered (to treat two Ebola-infected Spanish missionaries who were repatriated to Spain) — is a liar, that she lied about her fever,” said Limón, referring to controversial comments by Madrid’s regional health chief, Javier Rodríguez.

A Tokyo tempest from the Japan Times:

Man arriving at Tokyo’s Haneda airport tested for Ebola

A man in his 40s who arrived at Tokyo’s Haneda airport Monday after spending two months in Liberia was found to have a fever, and officials decided to check him for Ebola, the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry said.

The result of the blood test at a Tokyo research facility will be known early Tuesday, the officials said.

The man, reportedly a 45-year-old journalist whose name was not released, was transported to the National Center for Global Health and Medicine in Shinjuku Ward. The blood test was conducted at the National Institute of Infectious Diseases in Tokyo.

And the result, from Nikkei Asian Review:

Tests find no Ebola for suspected case in Japan

A viral summit from the Japan Times:

Cabinet preparing to hold Ebola prevention meeting

A select group of Cabinet ministers will meet soon to discuss countermeasures for the deadly Ebola virus, Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Yasuhisa Shiozaki said Monday.

Shiozaki told reporters about the plan after meeting with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe earlier in the day. Abe instructed him to hold the ministerial meeting as soon as possible, according to Shiozaki.

He also told Shiozaki to formulate thorough measures against Ebola and strengthen cooperation among the ministries and agencies, with relevant developments to be reported to the National Security Council.

After the jump, insurance companies play the Ebola policy game, a Big Pharma wager, belated approval of crucial equipment on to Africa and a regional assessment, a plea for help from afflicted nations and a European call for thousands of helpers for African work, the depleted ranks on the ground, on to Sierra Leone and new anti-Ebola measures that inflict their own hardships and high praise for burial measures, then on to Liberia and cremations aplenty spelling bad news for coffin-makers, pairing survivors with orphans, another sad impact on a devastated healthcare system, an American mission underway, movie night in an Ebola ward, aid from China and Norwegian girls, an American pledge to Guinea and Guinean survivors head back to the hot zone to help, don’t stigmatize our people pleads the Nigerian president, and preparedness in Zimbabwe. . . Continue reading

EnviroWatch: Health, climate, carbon, water


And Fukushimapocalypse Now!

First, from New Zimbabwe, health infrastructural weakness consequences:

Shortage of eye doctors hampers cataracts fight

A CRITICAL shortage of eye doctors is hampering efforts by the Ministry of Health to deal effectively with the problem of eye cataracts in Zimbabwe, according to statistics released last week.

At least 60 000 people have eye cataracts across the country.

Statistics released in the National Eye Health Strategy (NEHS) survey by the Ministry of Health shows that a lot of people are remaining untreated due to the non-availability of eye specialists in hospitals near them.

From Reuters, another country, another weakness:

Amid Afghanistan’s escalating war, a battle to beat polio

Tens of thousands of volunteers fanned out across Afghanistan this week, braving deteriorating security and distrusting parents to administer two chilled drops of the oral polio vaccine each to millions of children.

Keeping the highly infectious polio disease in check in any country is a daunting task. But in a nation where Taliban militants are fast gaining ground against government forces, it’s also a dangerous one.

Afghanistan is one of only three nations where the polio virus is still endemic, along with Pakistan and Nigeria. For a nation at war, its anti-polio campaign has had remarkable success, bringing the number of cases down from 63 in 1999 to just 14 in 2013. Only eight new cases have been confirmed so far this year, compared to 108 in Pakistan.

But as fighting between Afghan forces and militants intensifies ahead of the withdrawal of most foreign troops this year, health workers risk losing precious access to the places – and children – they need to keep tabs on.

From the Contributor, frack-tious politics:

Santa Barbara: Beautiful Enough to Frack, Says Big Oil Companies Spending Millions on Ballot Measure

There are few in the mainstream media who challenge the political establishment’s false claim that California is a “green” leader, yet here is more indisputable financial data showing how Big Oil in fact is the largest corporate lobby in the state and owns both the Democratic and Republican parties.

The battle over Yes on Measure P, the initiative to ban fracking and other extreme oil extraction techniques in Santa Barbara County, is a David vs. Goliath battle that parallels the No on Proposition 1 campaign. Big oil companies are dumping millions into the coastal county to defeat the measure, just like corporate agribusiness, billionaires and oil companies are spending millions to pass Governor Jerry Brown’s water bond.

The Yes on Measure P campaign had a war chest of about $284,000 as of October 16, 2014, largely from hundreds of individuals and county resident, according to the Santa Barbara Independent. This amount notably comes to only a small fraction of the anti-Measure P funds.

The same article reported that Measure P opponents have raised $7.6 million. “Californians for Energy Independence” has funneled over $5 million of its $7.6 million war chest to the ‘No’ side.

“The two single-biggest donors to the committee have been Chevron ($2.5 million) and Aera Energy ($2.1 million), the latter of which is rumored to be contemplating applying for 300 cyclic steam injection wells here,” according to the Independent. “Other Santa Barbara County interests that have contributed to that state group include Santa Maria Energy and Pacific Coast Energy Company, both of whose future plans could be thwarted if the initiative passes. The regional fundraising team for ‘No’ has seen additional donations from Santa Maria Energy ($88,134) and Pacific Coast Energy Company ($157,035), as well as Venoco ($80,000) and ERG Operating Company ($90,893), which recently applied for 233 cyclic steam injection wells.”

From the Los Angeles Times, business as usual:

Despite California climate law, carbon emissions may be a shell game

California’s pioneering climate-change law has a long reach, but that doesn’t mean all its mandates will help stave off global warming.

To meet the requirement that it cut carbon emissions, for example, Southern California Edison recently sold its stake in one of the West’s largest coal-fired power plants, located hundreds of miles out of state.

But the Four Corners Generating Station in New Mexico still burns coal — only the power that Edison once delivered to California now goes to a different utility’s customers in Arizona.

Similar swaps are taking place at coal plants throughout the West, and they underscore the limitations California faces as it tries to confront climate change in the absence of a coherent federal plan.

More carbon cash from the Japan Times:

U.N. climate chief urges Japan to slash emissions, and to shell out $1 billion

Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, has urged Japan to set an ambitious goal of emission cuts from 2020 and contribute over $1 billion to a new fund for combating global warming.

“My expectation of Japanese contributions is the same as my expectation from every other country,” Figueres said in an interview on Saturday.

Parties to the convention are required to announce their reduction targets by the end of March. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government on Friday began discussions on the matter.

Figueres also urged Japan to play an active role in the Green Climate Fund, which will be one of the major topics at the 20th session of the Conference of the Parties to the U.N. framework convention (COP20), to be held in December in Peru. The fund is designed to facilitate the fight against global warming in developing countries.

From the Guardian, the complexities of nature:

Global warming has doubled risk of harsh winters in Eurasia, research finds

  • Severe winters are more likely over the next few decades due to climate change melting Arctic ice and sending freezing air south, according to new research

The risk of severe winters in Europe and northern Asia has been doubled by global warming, according to new research. The counter-intuitive finding is the result of climate change melting the Arctic ice cap and causing new wind patterns that push freezing air and snow southwards.

Severe winters over the last decade have been associated with those years in which the melting of Arctic sea ice was greatest. But the new work is the most comprehensive computer modelling study to date and indicates the frozen winters are being caused by climate change, not simply by natural variations in weather.

“The origin of frequent Eurasian severe winters is global warming,” said Prof Masato Mori, at the University of Tokyo, who led the new research. Climate change is heating the Arctic much faster than lower latitudes and the discovery that the chances of severe winters has already doubled shows that the impacts of global warming are not only a future threat. Melting Arctic ice has also been implicated in recent wet summers in the UK.

Power over nature [in both senses] via Al Jazeera America:

Dam-building boom could be electricity boon, environmental blight

  • Hydropower supply slated to double in next 10 years, helping developing world but posing risks to watersheds, climate

A dam-building boom across the developing world will bring electricity to growing, power-hungry cities across Asia, Africa and Latin America. But it can also put the world’s climate and people at risk, according to a new study by researchers aiming to reduce the host of environmental problems that can come with dam construction.

Researchers at Tübingen University in Germany have have compiled a database of the 3,700 different dam projects planned or underway worldwide. They predict that global hydropower capacity will double in the next 10 years — an increase set to reduce by 20 percent the number of free-flowing rivers left on Earth.

The building boom also poses a hazard to the rich biodiversity of major river watersheds, including those of the Mekong, Amazon and Congo, on which millions depend.

And from Agence France-Presse, water woes in a troubled nation:

Pakistan’s water supply facing an uncertain future

Program notes:

In northern Pakistan melting glaciers are raising concern that water reserves are under threat like never before with scientists warning that the country’s future food security is at stake.

Water watcher woes from the Observer:

After 42 years of charting the health of our seas, scientist’s studies now face the axe

  • Guillemot survey has provided wealth of data on climate – but funding could be cut

Tim Birkhead has been monitoring guillemots for 42 years – with intriguing results. His surveys, carried out on Skomer island in Wales, have provided key information about the wellbeing of the sea birds’ population around the British Isles and has also produced important insights into the health of our seas.

However, the zoologist’s four-decade-long project is now threatened with closure. The newly formed quango Natural Resources Wales has said it will not continue to fund the £12,000-a-year survey, as part of a cost-cutting exercise. Unless cash can be raised as a matter of urgency, this year’s survey will be the last.

The news has dismayed the 64-year-old professor of zoology at Sheffield University. “This is an incredibly short-sighted decision,” Birkhead said. “We have built an extremely important database of guillemot population parameters and breeding rates, which tells a great deal about variations in numbers of these birds, about the health of their populations and about the health of our seas in general. But that entire database is now under threat merely to save a modest amount of money.”

A lethal alien invader from the Independent:

Conservationists call for ban on ‘Tree of hell’ that threatens to damage native plants

Dubbed the “tree of heaven” for its eagerness to reach up to the sky, Ailanthus altissima has become a favourite in many UK parks and gardens.

But conservationists are now calling for the “tree of hell” – as some have renamed this import from China – to be banned because of the threat it poses to native plants.

For, despite the angelic common name, it has a distinctly sinister side. The tree emits a poison to stop other species growing nearby, has a smell like rancid cashew nuts and sends out a mass of suckers that smother other plants.

However, despite such traits, the call for the tree to be added to the Government’s official list of banned, invasive species is likely to be fought vigorously by the garden-centre industry.

A GM ploy from the Observer:

‘Silent revolution’ in biotech farming is overtaking GM, says Greenpeace

  • Pressure group accused of hypocrisy by geneticists who say the same science is behind genetic modification and Greenpeace-approved Marker Assisted Selection

The row over genetically modified crops should be a thing of the past because they have failed to live up to their promise, according to Greenpeace, which will publish a report this week highlighting the successes of biotechnology projects it claims are outstripping GM in improving food production around the world.

The environmental campaign group – which has long been against GM foods – claims that a “silent revolution” in agriculture is showing a stronger track record than the GM process, which it labels as having shown disappointing results.

“Whilst the debate between GM and non-GM has used up most of the political oxygen, this report shows it is not the only – or indeed, the best – show in town. There is a growing range of non-GM biotechnologies which show how a growing world population can be fed at a time when natural environments are increasingly stressed,” said Greenpeace chief scientist Dr Doug Parr.

And on to Fukushimapoicalypse Now!, first with yet another radiation spike from NHK WORLD:

High levels of radiation found at Fukushima plant

The operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant says it has found high levels of radioactive cesium in groundwater in the compound.

Officials of Tokyo Electric Power Company say water taken on Wednesday from a monitoring well contained 460,000 becquerels of cesium per liter. Water from another well contained 424,000 becquerels.

The wells are several meters west of the No. 2 reactor building. There are about 40 around the reactor buildings.

Officials say the levels are 800 to 900 times the previous peak level of 500 becquerels per liter.

And our final item, and certain to inspire your confidence in Abe’s nuclear dreams, via NHK WORLD:

Panel likely to drop plan to check nuclear workers

A panel to Japan’s nuclear regulator will likely shelve proposals for a system of criminal record checks and other screenings of workers at nuclear facilities designed to prevent terrorism. Facility operators will likely run background checks instead.

The panel of the Nuclear Regulation Authority has been studying the logistics of checking the personal information of workers, including criminal records held by the government and financial debt.
Similar systems are in use in other countries. A system was proposed for Japan as a way of preventing terrorists and collaborators from entering nuclear facilities.

Panel members agreed that the operators of facilities, such as utilities, should run background checks on workers based on worker statements.
Some members pointed out the limitations of a system based on voluntary declarations.

EbolaWatch: Angst, profiteering, and Africa


Always Africa, first with a report from CCTV Africa:

Guinea Village Believed to be ‘source’ of Ebola outbreak

Program notes:

Guinea’s Melliandou village is believed to be the place where the current Ebola outbreak started. Researchers from The New England Journal of Medicine have traced the origin of the virus to a family in which a two-year-old boy from the village was the first victim to have died of Ebola in December 2013. CCTV’s Carol Oyola reports

And from StarAfrica, fears of spread to yet another country:

Ebola fears in Sudan’s oilfields spread

Fears have spread in the oil-rich Sudanese state of West Kordofan after four suspected cases of Ebola were alleged among oil workers in the area, medical sources disclosed on Saturday. The sources confirmed that two civilians died from an infection in El Muglad city , and two other infected remain in the hospital of El Fula, West Kordofan.

They claimed that the cases were all showed symptoms of Ebola may qualify for the deadly virus.

Medical source from El Fula hospital said that the hospital treated the two patients the same as patients with hemorrhagic fever.

“The two cases are now isolated and receiving treatment as hemorrhagic fever till further blood investigation diagnosis about the type of the hemorrhagic fever,” he added.

On to the U.S., first with a case of Ebola politics from BuzzFeed:

Democratic Senator Slams NRA, Republicans Over Ebola Response

  • Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown blamed the NRA for a lack of a U.S. surgeon general, and Congressional Republicans for cuts to public services

A Democratic senator puts the blame for the Centers for Disease Control’s slow response to Ebola directly on the National Rifle Association and Senate and House Republicans.

Speaking in a local radio interview on Thursday, Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown blamed the NRA for a lack of a U.S. surgeon general, and Congressional Republicans for cuts to public services.

“We don’t have a surgeon general to, to run this, to oversee this, because of the opposition to him brought on by opposition from the National Rifle Association,” Brown said.

“So we’re not – we have cut spending on public health in this country, um, because some members of Congress, unfortunately a majority in the House, would prefer to do tax cuts for the wealthiest people and cut public services like CDC, like National Institutes of Health, like early childhood education – this wasn’t foreseen but some of it could have been prevented if we had people in Washington that really looked out more for the public interest than for their special interests.”

Quarantine affirmations from the New York Times:

Governors of New York and New Jersey Defend Ebola Quarantine Amid Concerns

Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey stood by his decision to require medical workers who had contact with Ebola patients in West Africa into quarantine, even as the first health worker to be isolated under the new policy spoke publicly for the first time Sunday, calling her treatment “inhumane” and accusing Mr. Christie of making misleading statements about her health.

Kaci Hickox, who was ordered into quarantine after landing at Newark Liberty International Airport on Friday even though she had no symptoms associated with Ebola, said during an interview with CNN that officials still have not told her what they plan to do next or why they are isolating her since she poses not public health risk as long as she remains asymptomatic.

In that interview, she also blasted Mr. Christie for saying that she was sick, when it was clear that she was not running a fever and had tested negative for Ebola.

“The first thing I would say to Governor Christie is that I wish he would be more careful about his statements about my medical condition,” she told CNN. “If he knew anything about Ebola he would know that asymptomatic people are not infectious.”

While another state joins the list, via the Associated Press:

Florida orders 21-day monitoring for Ebola

Florida Gov. Rick Scott is ordering twice daily monitoring for anyone returning from places the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention designates as affected by Ebola.

Scott signed the order Saturday, giving the Florida Health Department authority to monitor individuals for 21 days. Scott said in a press release that his administration had asked the CDC to identify risk levels of returning individuals from specific parts of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, requesting information specifically about the risk level for four people who had already returned. His office said that the CDC had identified the four individuals who faced some risk but had not provided the levels of risk.

“Therefore, we are moving quickly to require the four individuals who have returned to Florida already – and anyone in the future who will return to Florida from an Ebola area – to take part in twice daily 21-day health evaluations with DOH personnel,” he said.

Florida joins New Jersey, New York and Illinois in ordering the 21-day monitoring program.

And the counterargument, via the Associated Press:

US disease expert argues against Ebola quarantine

The gulf between politicians and scientists over Ebola widened on Sunday as the nation’s top infectious-disease expert warned that the mandatory, 21-day quarantining of medical workers returning from West Africa is unnecessary and could discourage volunteers from traveling to the danger zone.

“The best way to protect us is to stop the epidemic in Africa, and we need those health care workers, so we do not want to put them in a position where it makes it very, very uncomfortable for them to even volunteer to go,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Meanwhile, Kaci Hickox, the first nurse forcibly quarantined in New Jersey under the state’s new policy, said in a telephone interview with CNN that her isolation at a hospital was “inhumane,” adding: “We have to be very careful about letting politicians make health decisions.”

Golden State preparations from the Los Angeles Times:

UCLA, 4 other UC hospitals ready to treat California Ebola patients

Officials announced Friday that all five University of California medical centers are positioned to provide care for Californians with confirmed Ebola — should any such cases arise.

As of the announcement, there were no confirmed or suspected patients with Ebola in the state, the University of California Office of the President and the California Department of Public Health emphasized, in a press release announcing the hospitals’ readiness. But the UC facilities — in Davis, Irvine, Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco — all said they would be ready to leap into action if that changed.

“We appreciate [the UC Medical Centers’] leadership role in willingness to treat Ebola patients,” said state health department director Dr. Ron Chapman, in the statement.

“In the past weeks we have been actively readying ourselves for any health eventuality related to Ebola,” added Dr. John Stobo, UC senior vice president for health sciences and services.

From the Independent, the anti-testimonial:

Ebola nurse Kaci Hickox says she was ‘made to feel like a criminal’ after return home to US

A nurse has criticised the process for treating aid workers when they return home saying she was met with a “frenzy of fear” when she landed in America.

Kaci Hickox said that when she arrived back in the US on Friday after working with Doctors without Borders in Sierra Leone she was met with “a frenzy of disorganisation, fear and most frightening, quarantine”.

The nurse, who tested negative for Ebola, wrote in the Dallas Morning News: “This is a situation that I would not wish on anyone. I am scared for those who will follow me” and suggested that other health workers could be put off doing aid work.

Ms Hickox said that after she arrived at Newark Liberty International Airport following a two-day journey from West Africa, she was taken to a quarantine office and questioned.

“One man who must have been an immigration officer because he was wearing a weapon belt that I could see protruding from his white coveralls barked questions at me as if I was a criminal,” she said.

And with litigation to come, via the London Telegraph:

US nurse sues after being forced into quarantine as she returned from treating Ebola patients in Sierra Leone

  • Kaci Hickox accused New York and New Jersey officials of criminalising those risking their lives to fight virus in Africa

A US nurse who says she was treated like a “criminal” after returning from caring for Ebola victims in West Africa has hired a top human rights lawyer to challenge her enforced quarantine.

Kaci Hickox, the first person to be placed under a new mandatory quarantine for health workers who arrive back in the US via airports in New York, New Jersey and Chicago, was ordered into a 21 day period of isolation despite testing negative for the disease.

She has now hired Norman Siegel, a high profile civil rights attorney, to challenge the order.

And she finds an ally, via the Los Angeles Times:

New York mayor criticizes New Jersey’s ‘disrespect’ of Ebola nurse

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio condemned the treatment of a symptom-free nurse quarantined in New Jersey after she returned from caring for Ebola patients in West Africa, saying, “What happened to her was inappropriate.”

De Blasio’s remarks came during a  news conference at New York City’s Bellevue Hospital, where a doctor infected with the deadly virus remained in serious but stable condition Sunday, showing slight improvement. Dr. Craig Spencer had recently returned from a stint with Doctors Without Borders in West Africa, where he treated Ebola patients. Spencer tested positive for Ebola on Thursday.

The mayor spoke during a time of heightened anxiety both in the nation’s largest city and in the governor’s offices of New York, New Jersey and Illinois, with the states ordering medical personnel returning from West Africa to be preemptively quarantined for 21 days — the longest incubation period known for Ebola.

More politics, via The Hill:

Issa: Ebola quarantines stem from lack of trust in federal government

House Government Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said Sunday that a lack of trust in the federal government is forcing governors to mandate quarantines for those returning from West Africans nations battling Ebola.

“Governors of both parties are reacting to an absence of leadership,” he said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Issa said if it is true that people who have become infected with Ebola are not contagious until they are showing symptoms, “immediate isolation of people for 21 days is not the answer.”

Issa said he supported continuous monitoring, but added that there was no trust in the federal government to ensure it is done correctly.

And a pullback from Channel NewsAsia Singapore:

New York state backtracks on Ebola rules after White House weighs in

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said there would no longer be a blanket quarantine procedure for all people entering the state from affected countries in West Africa.

New York state on Sunday (Oct 26) eased its rules for how those arriving from Ebola-stricken West Africa must be treated, ending a mandatory isolation period for people who had no contact with an infected patient.

New York, New Jersey and Illinois have drafted in measures that see health care workers returning from West Africa – epicentre of the most deadly Ebola outbreak on record – quarantined for three weeks, while a fourth US state, Florida, has ordered twice-daily monitoring during that period.

But under pressure from the White House, where officials believe these rules could deter health workers from helping fight the epidemic in West Africa, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo rushed to ease his state’s Ebola-clearance procedures.

And a broadside in Africa from BBC News:

Ebola: Visiting envoy Samantha Power condemns response

The US ambassador to the UN has begun a visit to the three nations worst hit by the Ebola outbreak, criticising the level of international support so far. Samantha Power has landed in Guinea and will visit Sierra Leone and Liberia.

She told NBC some nations who offered backing “haven’t taken responsibility yet” in supplying aid and doctors.

Ms Power told NBC as she boarded her plane: “The international response to Ebola needs to be taken to a wholly different scale than it is right now.”

She said: “You have countries at the UN where I work every day who are signing on to resolutions and praising the good work that the US and the UK and others are doing, but they themselves haven’t taken the responsibility yet to send docs, to send beds, to send the reasonable amount of money.”

After the jump, a Korean border closure, questions as the American military deploys in the hot zone, Big Pharma’s profit dreams, fast-tracking a test, an Ebola scare Down Under and a much-anticipated test, African infrastructure woes, Chinese capabilities questioned, Nigeria dispatches medics to the hot zone but neglect lessons learned at home, on to Sierra Leone and a presidential plea against isolation, a video report on stark conditions in Freetown, and economic side effect, plus so me catastrophe profiteering in the good ol’ U.S.A. . . . Continue reading

EnviroWatch: Ills, climate, critters, & nukes


With begin with an enigma, via the Atlantic Monthly:

The Mysterious Polio-Like Disease Affecting American Kids

  • Doctors are stumped about the condition’s origins—and its treatment

More than 100 cases of a polio-like syndrome causing full or partial paralysis of the arms or legs have been seen in children across the United States in recent months, according to doctors attending the annual meeting of the Child Neurology Society.

Symptoms have ranged from mild weakness in a single arm to complete paralysis of arms, legs, and even the muscles controlling the lungs, leading in some cases to a need for surgery to insert a breathing tube, doctors said.

The outbreak, which appears to be larger and more widespread than what has largely been previously reported by medical and news organizations, has neurologists and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention scrambling to find out what is causing these cases and how best to treat it.

“We don’t know how to treat it, and we don’t know how to prevent it,” said Keith Van Haren, a child neurologist at Stanford University School of Medicine. “It actually looks just like polio, but that term really freaks out the public-health people.”

And another outbreak spreads, via MercoPress:

France reports four cases of chikungunya locally acquired infections

On 21 October 2014, WHO was notified by the National IHR Focal Point for France of 4 cases of chikungunya locally-acquired infection in Montpellier, France. The cases were confirmed by tests conducted by the French National Reference Laboratory for arboviruses on 20 October 2014. This is the first time that locally-acquired transmission of chikungunya has been detected in France since 2010.

The 4 cases of chikungunya infection occurred within the same family, with symptoms onset between 20 September and 12 October. The cases live in Montpellier in the vicinity of a chikungunya case imported from Cameroon. The cases have no history of travel out of their district of residence in the 15 days prior to the onset of symptoms.

Big Agra, deep pockets, via the Guardian:

Pro-GM labelling campaign hugely outspent in Colorado and Oregon ballot

  • Industry giants are spending more than $25m to defeat campaigns for mandatory GM food labelling in the two states, in the runup to next month’s vote

Biotech and supermarket giants are spending more than $25m (£15.6m) to defeat ballot initiatives in two western states that would require labelling of foods containing genetically modified organisms.

In Colorado, Dupont and Monsanto food companies are outspending supporters of mandatory labelling by 22-1 ahead of the 4 November vote, according to state campaign finance records.

In Oregon, meanwhile, industry is outspending supporters of the ballot measure by about 2-1.

The heavy industry spending resembles the last-minute infusions of cash for television ads, direct mail, and campaign staff that helped defeat earlier campaigns for mandatory GM labelling in California and Washington state.

From the Los Angeles Times, the first of two California Scorched headlines:

A parched farm town is sinking, and so are its residents’ hearts

Beneath this small farm town at the end of what’s left of the Kings River, the ground is sinking.

Going into the fourth year of drought, farmers have pumped so much water that the water table below Stratford fell 100 feet in two years. Land in some spots in the Central Valley has dropped a foot a year.

In July, the town well cracked in three places. Household pipes spit black mud, then pale yellow water. After that, taps were dry for two weeks while the water district patched the steel well casing.

In September, the children of migrant farmworkers who usually come back to Stratford School a few weeks late, after the grape harvest, never came back at all. By October, there were new faces in the drought relief line in front of the school, picking up boxes of applesauce, canned tomatoes, peanut butter, rice.

And the second, via the Los Angeles Times:

For Sierra resident, the well runs dry — along with her options

Things were bad enough for Rochelle Landers before her well went dry. No job. No money for eye glasses or dentures. And now, for the last month and a half, no water.

Landers, a onetime school secretary, does not live in the parched heart of the state: the San Joaquin Valley, where some people get sand when they turn on the faucet.

She has an acre in the Sierra foothills, in a sparsely populated town an hour northeast of Sacramento with a seemingly abundant water supply despite the drought. Except for one thing: Her water comes from a well. And her well, which is shallow, has gone dry.

Last month, when her faucet stopped working, Landers thought her water pump was broken. What did she know? She’d purchased her dilapidated home 18 months earlier, moving back to California after a stint in Virginia. Four men from the drilling company slid the heavy concrete cover off her well and peered inside.

“Can you believe it?” she said. “They charged me $150 to tell me it was dry.”

Going, going, and how soon gone? From the Washington Post:

Collapse of Antarctic ice sheet is underway and unstoppable but will take centuries

The collapse of the giant West Antarctica ice sheet is underway, two groups of scientists said Monday. They described the melting as an unstoppable event that will cause global sea levels to rise higher than projected earlier.

Scientists said the rise in sea level, up to 12 feet, will take centuries to reach its peak and cannot be reversed. But they said a decrease in greenhouse gas emissions could slow the melt, while an increase could speed it slightly.

Warm, naturally occurring ocean water flowing under the glaciers is causing the melt. “We feel it is at the point that it is . . . a chain reaction that’s unstoppable,” regardless of any future cooling or warming of the global climate, said Eric Rignot, a professor of Earth science at the University of California at Irvine. He was the lead author of a NASA-funded study that was one of the two studies released Monday.

The only thing that might have stopped the ice from escaping into the ocean and filling it with more water “is a large hill or mountains,” Rignot said. But “there are no such hills that can slow down this retreat,” he added.

And on a parallel note, via the Ecologist:

Experts ‘stunned’ at how fast oceans are warming

Southern hemisphere oceans are warming at double the expected rate, a new study has found. This may explain why surface warming has slowed over the last decade – the oceans have absorbed the ‘missing’ heat.

Southern Hemisphere ocean temperatures have been rising much more quickly than previously thought, so much so that global ocean warming may have been underestimated by as much as 24 – 55%, according to a new study.

Published by the journal Nature Climate Change and carried out by researchers at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, the study sought to determine just how much we’ve underestimated long-term upper-ocean warming given the scarcity of data collected on Southern Hemisphere ocean temperature increases.

“It’s likely that due to the poor observational coverage, we just haven’t been able to say definitively what the long-term rate of Southern Hemisphere ocean warming has been”, said the study’s lead author, Dr. Paul Durack.

Likewise, via VICE News:

Here’s How San Francisco is Bracing for Sea Level Rise Estimated to Impact $48 Billion in Assets

San Francisco’s Capital Planning Committee (CPC) has adopted what is being called the most comprehensive guidelines in the nation for preparing for the impacts of sea level rise on a city’s infrastructure.

“This is the first time that I’ve seen a city really actively assessing the risks to new public investments,” Jessica Grannis of Georgetown’s Climate Center told VICE News.

The guidelines assume sea level rise of 11 inches, plus or minus 4 inches, by 2050 and as much as 66 inches by 2100.

San Francisco’s Pacific coastline, the Embarcadero, a roadway and pedestrian promenade along the city’s eastern and northern coastline, the Port of San Francisco, and the San Francisco International Airport already experience periodic flooding.

From CCTV America, a battle for the land:

Indigenous groups fight Illegal logging in Peru

Program notes:

In Peru, officials estimate that nearly 80 percent of the country’s timber exports are harvested illegally. Often this takes place on the lands of local populations where indigenous residents are not only intimidated, but sometimes killed.

Invaders digging in Down Under, via the Guardian:

Biosecurity gaps led to 36 invasive species entering Australia since 2000

  • Invasive Species Council says Australia has not heeded lessons from decision to introduce cane toad in Queensland in 1935

Large gaps in Australia’s biosecurity regime have led to 36 invasive species entering the country since 2000, with potentially ruinous consequences for the environment, documents lodged with the Senate have warned.

Creatures such as the yellow crazy ant, the red-eared slider turtle and the smooth newt have either established themselves in Australia or threaten to do so, while Mexican feathergrass and Myrtle rust pose a threat to Australia’s plant life.

The Invasive Species Council has warned that Australia has not heeded the lessons from the decision to introduce the cane toad in Queensland in 1935, a move that has proved disastrous for native mammals and snakes in northern Australia.

On the wrong track, from the McClatchy Washington Bureau:

Facing lawsuit, California oil train terminal to shut down

A legal victory in California this week over crude oil operations could have a spillover effect, emboldening critics of crude-by-rail shipments to press their concerns in other jurisdictions.

EarthJustice, a San Francisco-based environmental group, won its battle to halt crude oil train operations in the state as InterState Oil Co., a Sacramento fuel distributor, agreed to stop unloading train shipments of crude oil next month at the former McClellan Air Force Base.

Sacramento County’s top air quality official said his agency mistakenly skirted the state’s environmental rules by issuing a permit for the operation.

EcoWatch covers the inevitable:

Outrage Continues at Susan G. Komen’s ‘Frack for the Cure’ Pinkwashing Campaign

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and in what seems to be getting to be a regular occurrence, it’s bringing unwanted awareness to the activities of Susan G. Komen for the Cure (SGK), the behemoth of breast cancer charities, founded in 1982.

Charges of “pinkwashing”—slapping their pink-ribbon logo on hundreds of items manufactured in their signature hot pink—reached a whole new level earlier this month when a story came out that the foundation had made a deal with Houston-based oilfield services company Baker Hughes to launch a “Doing Our Bit for the Cure” campaign. The centerpiece of the campaign is painting 1,000 fracking drill bits hot pink and packing them with information about breast cancer which presumably the mostly male oilfield workers will devour eagerly. “Baker Hughes supports Susan G. Komen’s Mission to End Breast Cancer Forever,” the campaign website proclaimed.

“For the second consecutive year, Baker Hughes is donating $100,000 to support Susan G. Komen, the world’s leading breast cancer organization,” said Baker Hughes. “The year-long partnership with Komen is an extension of the company’s participation each year in the Komen Houston Race for the Cure, where Baker Hughes sponsors the Survivor Pin Celebration. This year, the company will paint and distribute a total of 1,000 pink drill bits worldwide. The pink bits serve as a reminder of the importance of supporting research, treatment, screening and education to help find the cures for this disease, which claims a life every 60 seconds.”

From RT, the perfect transition to Fukushimapocalypse Now!:

Insulated undies: Radiation-proof, sperm-friendly boxers launched

While harm from cell-phone rays has so far been lacking sufficient scientific proof, a US firm wants men to take no chances with radiation – at least when it comes to the most precious of male body parts.

Boxer shorts made with the use of thin silver textile “absorb radiation” will help “protect men’s reproductive organs and maintain fertility health,” according to their producer, Manhattan-based Belly Armor company.

It only launched its male underwear sales this week, but among the company’s earlier products are radiation-proof blankets, belly bands and tops for pregnant women and nursing mothers.

From Reuters, yeah, what could be wrong with that?:

Japan’s Suga: See no problem with trade minister holding Tepco shares

Japan’s top government spokesman said on Friday he does not see any problem with the trade minister holding shares of Tokyo Electric Power, the operator of the tsunami-wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference that newly appointed trade minister Yoichi Miyazawa is following the appropriate procedures for holding the shares during his tenure based on rules for ministers.

Miyazawa said on Thursday that his political support group spent funds at a sado-masochism-themed bar in his home district and that he owned shares in the power company, known as Tepco.

Miyazawa said earlier on Friday that there is no change in his stance towards Tepco despite his owning shares in the firm.

Protesting with Jiji Press:

Radioactive Waste Facility Surveys Put Off Again in Miyagi

The Environment Ministry, again on Saturday, failed to begin drilling surveys in three candidate sites in Miyagi Prefecture for a final facility to store radioactive waste produced by the March 2011 nuclear accident.

As was on Friday, a survey team in the town of Kami, where one of the candidate sites is located, was blocked from entering the site by some 60 protesters.

Also in the city of Kurihara and the town of Taiwa, the ministry refrained from taking soil samples to study geographic conditions.

In the northeastern prefecture, the ministry selected government-owned land tracts in the three municipalities as candidate sites to dump waste tainted with fallout from the triple meltdown at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s <9501> Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

Reuters foreshadows:

Japan warns of increased activity at volcano near nuclear plant

Japan warned on Friday that a volcano in southern Japan located roughly 64 km (40 miles) from a nuclear plant was showing signs of increased activity that could possibly lead to a small-scale eruption and warned people to stay away from the summit.

The warning comes nearly a month after another volcano, Mt Ontake, erupted suddenly when crowded with hikers, killing 57 people in Japan’s worst volcanic disaster in nearly 90 years.

Ioyama, a mountain on the southwestern island of Kyushu, has been shaken by small tremors and other signs of rising volcanic activity recently, including a tremor lasting as long as seven minutes, an official at the Japan Meteorological Agency’s volcano division said.

For our final item, NHK WORLD hedges its bets:

Japan to ratify nuclear compensation treaty

The Japanese government decided at a cabinet meeting on Friday to seek Diet approval for a treaty to share liability with other countries in compensation for nuclear accidents.

The government will ask the Diet to approve the Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage during the current session.

Five countries, including the United States, have signed the treaty. The pact will take effect once it is ratified by Japan.

The treaty obliges each signatory to set aside at least 430 million dollars in the event of a nuclear accident.

If the cost of paying compensation for an accident in Japan exceeds that reserve, the other signatories would provide an additional 65 million dollars.

EbolaWatch: Numbers, quarantines, & Africa


Again, always Africa, and we hope you read today’s compendium of reports from African news media [along with much, much more] after the jump.

We begin today’s compendium with grim numbers from United Press International:

Yale study predicts huge increase in Ebola cases in Liberia

  • It projected over 170,000 new cases in the country that includes the city of Monrovia by Dec. 15.

A study by the Yale University School of Public Health suggests a massive increase in Ebola virus cases will affect Liberia within weeks.

A mathematical model of the disease by a group from Yale, working with the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare in Liberia, was applied to Liberia’s most populous county, Montserrado, which includes the capital city of Monrovia. As many as 170,996 cases of the disease, with 90,122 deaths in Montserrado alone, were projected by Dec. 15. Those figures reported and unreported cases. Of those figures, researchers expect that only 42,669 cases and 27,175 deaths will be officially reported by Dec. 15.

The report, published in the scholarly magazine The Lancet Infectious Disease, said the international response to the Ebola virus thus far is “grossly inadequate,” that the window of opportunity for “timely control of the outbreak” has closed and that the “risk for catastrophic devastation both in West Africa and beyond might have only just begun.”

And via Voice of America, the staggering casualties anticipated in just one city:

Yale Researchers Project 90,000 Ebola Deaths In Monrovia Alone

Program notes:

The latest figures from the World Health Organization show that Ebola epidemic has claimed nearly 5,000 lives, mostly in West Africa. But as we hear from VOA’s Carol Pearson, that number could be 18 times greater in just one county in Liberia within two months.

Next, Ebola invades yet another African nation, via he Los Angeles Times:

Mali monitors 43 people as it tackles its first case of Ebola

Health authorities in Mali are monitoring 43 people known to have been in contact with a 2-year-old girl, the West African nation’s first Ebola case.

As Malian officials scrambled to head off the threat, authorities in neighboring Ivory Coast were hunting for a Guinean health worker believed to have fled his country, possibly carrying the disease.

The 2-year-old girl, who was not identified, was brought by her grandmother to relatives in the Mali town of Kayes after the child’s mother died of Ebola in Guinea. On the way, she spent 10 days in the neighborhood of Bagadadji. Ten health workers who treated the child are among the 43

And a sober assessment from the Associated Press:

WHO: Mali case may have infected many people

The World Health Organization says a toddler who brought Ebola to Mali was bleeding from her nose during her journey on public transport and may have infected many people.

WHO said it is treating the situation in Mali as an emergency.

This is the first Ebola case in Mali and may expand to many more. The case highlights how quickly the virus can hop borders and even oceans, just as questions are being asked about what precautions health care workers who treat Ebola patients should take when they return home from the hot zone. Doctors Without Borders insisted Friday, after one of its doctors who worked in Guinea came down with Ebola in New York, that quarantines of returning health workers are not necessary when they do not show symptoms of the disease.

In the Mali case, however, the girl was visibly sick, WHO said, and an initial investigation has identified 43 people, including 10 health workers, she came into close contact with who are being monitored for symptoms and held in isolation. The child was confirmed to have Ebola on Thursday.

“The child’s symptomatic state during the bus journey is especially concerning, as it presented multiple opportunities for exposures — including high-risk exposures — involving many people,” the agency said in a statement.

More from Reuters:

Mali isolates nurses amid alarm after first Ebola case

Nurses and other people who have come into contact with the first Ebola patient in Mali were isolated on Friday as concerns mounted that an epidemic that has killed 4,900 people in neighbouring West African states could take hold in the country.

Mali confirmed its first case of Ebola on Thursday and said the two-year-old girl was being treated in the western town of Kayes. She was brought by relatives from neighbouring Guinea, where the epidemic was detected in March, after her mother died of the disease.

On the dusty streets of the capital Bamako, residents voiced alarm after health officials said the girl had spent 10 days in the city’s Bagadadji district before travelling on Sunday to Kayes, some 400 km to the northwest near the Senegalese border.

“I am afraid because, with my job, I am in permanent contact with people but I can’t afford to just stop,” said taxi driver Hamidou Bamba, 46, in Bamako. “Today is Friday so let us pray to Allah that this disease will not spread in Mali.”

And the sad fate of the patient from the Independent:

Ebola outbreak: Two-year-old dies of virus in Mali

A two-year-old girl who was Mali’s first confirmed case of Ebola has died, according to a health official.

The official, who asked not to be named, told Reuters that the toddler died in the western Malian town of Kayes at around 4pm (GMT), where she was being treated in isolation.

Next, a classic example of what we call “eugenics by capitalism” from the New York Times:

Without Lucrative Market, Potential Ebola Vaccine Was Shelved for Years

Almost a decade ago, scientists from Canada and the United States reported that they had created a vaccine that was 100 percent effective in protecting monkeys against the Ebola virus. The results were published in a respected journal, and health officials called them exciting. The researchers said tests in people might start within two years, and a product could potentially be ready for licensing by 2010 or 2011.

It never happened. The vaccine sat on a shelf. Only now, with nearly 5,000 people dead from Ebola and an epidemic raging out of control in West Africa, is the vaccine undergoing the most basic safety tests in humans.

Its development stalled in part because Ebola was rare, and until now outbreaks had infected only a few hundred people at a time. But experts also acknowledge that the lack of follow-up on such a promising candidate reflects a broader failure to produce medicines and vaccines for diseases that afflict poor countries. Most drug companies have resisted spending the enormous sums needed to to develop products useful mostly to poor countries with little ability to pay for them.

Next, now that the North is threatened by an invisible invasion from the South, mobilization is amazing fast, via the Associated Press:

Millions of Ebola vaccine doses ready in 2015

The World Health Organization says millions of doses of two experimental Ebola vaccines could be ready for use in 2015 and five more experimental vaccines will start being tested in March.

Still, the agency warned it’s not clear whether any of these will work against the deadly virus that has already killed at least 4,877 people this year in West Africa.

Dr. Marie-Paule Kieny from the U.N. health agency told reporters that those doses could be available in 2015 if early tests proved that the two leading experimental vaccines are safe and provoke enough of an immune response to protect people from being infected with Ebola.

Trials of those two most advanced vaccines —one developed by GlaxoSmithKline in cooperation with the U.S. National Institutes of Health, the other developed by the Canadian Public Health Agency and licensed to the U.S. company NewLink Genetics — have already begun in the U.S., U.K. and Mali.

And follow with a headline from the Associated Press of the sort you’ll never see in a paper in, say, Sierra Leone:

Dallas nurse’s dog tests negative for Ebola

The first Ebola test for the quarantined King Charles Spaniel belonging to a Dallas nurse hospitalized with the virus has come back negative.

The city of Dallas said Wednesday that one-year-old Bentley will be tested again before his 21-day quarantine period ends Nov. 1.

Bentley was quarantined after his owner, Nina Pham, was diagnosed with Ebola. She was the first of two Texas nurses infected after treating an Ebola patient at a Dallas hospital. She’s being treated at the National Institutes of Health, where her condition was upgraded to good.

And the scare-of-the-moment on this side of the Atlantic, albeit one with more grounds for suspicion than most, via the Washington Post:

New York physician who worked in Guinea tests positive for Ebola

A New York physician who recently returned from the front lines of the Ebola epidemic in West Africa tested positive Thursday for the deadly virus after falling ill, days after his arriving back in the United States.

Craig Spencer, 33, remained in isolation late Thursday at Bellevue Hospital, officials said. He was taken to the hospital earlier in the day after reporting a fever and gastrointestinal symptoms. Spencer, who had been treating Ebola patients in Guinea, becomes the fourth person diagnosed with Ebola in the United States — and the first diagnosed outside Texas.

“We were hoping that it didn’t happen, but we were also realistic,” New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) said in a news conference Thursday night. “This is New York. People come through New York. People come through New York’s airports, so we can’t say this is an unexpected circumstance. We are as ready as one could be for this circumstance.”

City health commissioner Mary Bassett said that Spencer had completed his work in Guinea on Oct. 12 and departed the country on Oct. 14. He arrived at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport on Oct. 17, after a stop in Brussels.

More from the Guardian:

Ebola: New York officials urge calm as cleanup begins at patient’s home

  • Hazardous materials team clean Craig Spencer’s apartment
  • Officials monitor four people who may have had contact
  • New York governor: ‘Ebola is not an airborne illness’

Specialist medical teams were on Friday decontaminating the New York apartment of a doctor confirmed to have Ebola, as the city’s top officials urged a calm response to the diagnosis.

A privately contracted crew of environmental and hazardous material cleaners arrived at the apartment that Craig Spencer, 33, shared with his fiancee Morgan Dixon.

Spencer, who had worked for Doctors Without Borders in Guinea, was being treated in an isolation unit at Bellevue hospital in the city, where he was taken after displaying symptoms consistent with those caused by Ebola, including a fever of 100.3F (38C).

Officials are monitoring four people with whom Spencer had contact. His fiancee and two friends have been quarantined, while the fourth person, a taxi driver, was not considered to be at risk.

And from the McClatchy Washington Bureau, plaudits:

World Bank head calls New York doctor a ‘hero,’ says only more volunteers can stop Ebola

The president of the World Bank on Friday praised a New York doctor who became that city’s first Ebola victim, saying the doctor’s decision to volunteer in West Africa was “exactly what is needed to stop this epidemic.”

“Dr. Spencer is a hero,” Dr. Jim Kim, who’s headed the World Bank for the past two years, said, referring to Craig Spencer, a 33-year-old physician who returned to the United States last week from Guinea, where he’d been treating Ebola victims on behalf of the global medical charity Doctors Without Borders.

Praise for a medical volunteer from the president of a global financial institution may seem like an odd way to begin a breakfast with a group of reporters in Washington. But Kim is an unusual World Bank president, the only leader of that institution not to be a career banker or financier. Instead, Kim is an epidemiologist by trade, a noted researcher of infectious diseases who earned renown for developing ways of treating multidrug resistant tuberculosis in the slums of Peru, and who once worked for the World Health Organization, the U.N.’s global health agency. Better health care, he argues, is the path to economic growth. In low to middle income countries, he says, 25 percent of economic growth can be attributed to better health outcomes.

The London Daily Mail covers emetophobia:

Angry lawmaker tells HHS ‘preparedness’ chief to quit over Ebola as he frets about flying home in case someone ‘barfed on the plane’

  • A rambling Florida Rep. John Mica ripped into HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Nicole Lurie during an Ebola hearing

‘Are you in charge of being prepared?’ Mica demanded, dropping references to a 1950s parody song about ‘the Boy Scout’s marching song’

He insisted on knowing if the US has a plan in place to sterilize airplanes like it had during the global bird flu panic

Ebola sufferers ‘might have barfed on the plane, there might be excrement, there may be vomit, there may be body fluids,’ he said

After a breathless torrent of questions, Mica got up to go while the hearing continued, saying ‘I have a plane to catch’

And another Republican voice is heard, via United Press International:

Rep. Darrell Issa knocks Ebola czar and Obama’s response to the epidemic

  • “When the head of the C.D.C. says you can’t get it with somebody on the bus next to you, that’s just not true,” claims Issa

And from the New York Times, another Obama retreat:

U.S. to Monitor Travelers From Ebola-Hit Nations for 21 Days

Federal health officials on Wednesday placed new restrictions on travelers from West African countries with Ebola outbreaks, requiring that they report their temperatures daily for three weeks, along with any other potential symptoms of the disease.

Beginning next Monday, under new rules issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, all travelers who have visited Guinea, Sierra Leone or Liberia — and, presumably, any other country in which outbreaks might occur — will be required to provide home and email addresses, telephone numbers and other contact details for themselves and for at least one friend or relative.

Once a day for the next 21 days, they will have to check in with their state or local health department and report their morning and evening temperatures and list any other symptoms, such as nausea or diarrhea.

The Associated Press runs the numbers:

AP-GfK Poll: Public wants tighter Ebola screening

The AP-GfK poll found 9 out of 10 people — unusually high agreement on any issue — think it’s necessary to tighten screening procedures for people entering the U.S. from the outbreak zone in West Africa, including 69 percent who say it’s definitely needed.

Some would go even further: Almost half say it’s definitely necessary to prevent everyone traveling from places affected by Ebola from entering the U.S. Another 29 percent say it’s probably necessary to do so.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has warned since summer that an infected traveler eventually would arrive in the U.S., and it finally happened last month when Thomas Eric Duncan developed symptoms of Ebola a few days after arriving from Liberia. He died on Oct. 8.

More angst from the London Daily Mail:

‘Doctors Without Borders nurse’ is quarantined at Newark airport despite having no virus symptoms amid stricter screening for West Africa travelers

  • New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said the woman arrived at the airport on a flight on Friday from West Africa
  • He said that the New Jersey Department of Health determined that a legal quarantine order should be issued due to tightened protocols
  • Dr Seema Yasmin, a doctor in Dallas who is also a CDC ‘disease detective’, tweeted on Friday afternoon, that her friend, a nurse with Doctors Without Borders, was being quarantined at Newark
  • A woman has been quarantined at Newark Airport due to stricter screening protocols on Friday after reporting contact with Ebola victims.
  • New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said the woman arrived at the airport on a flight on Friday from West Africa. He earlier announced that additional screening protocols were being implemented at JFK and Newark International Airports.
  • At a joint press conference with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, Christie said a health care worker already has been quarantined even though she has no symptoms.

And a riposte, via the New York Times:

After Negative Ebola Test, Quarantined Nurse Criticizes Treatment at Newark Airport

A nurse who tested negative for the Ebola virus but remained under a 21-day quarantine in a Newark hospital on Saturday is angry and frustrated with how she was treated when she returned to the United States from West Africa.

A first-person account by the nurse, Kaci Hickox, of what happened when she landed at Newark Liberty International Airport about 1 p.m. Friday was published on Saturday on the website of The Dallas Morning News.

Ms. Hickox said that four hours after she landed at the airport, her fever registered 101 degrees when it was taken with a forehead scanner by a “smug”-looking female officer in a quarantine section. The above-normal reading, she said, was because she was upset and her face was flush with anxiety over being detained with no reason given. When her temperature was taken later with an oral thermometer at University Hospital in Newark, it registered a normal 98.6 degrees, Ms. Hickox said on the website.

And from the Associated Press, lockdown:

NY, NJ order Ebola quarantine for doctors, others

Alarmed by the case of an Ebola-infected New York doctor, the governors of New Jersey and New York on Friday ordered a mandatory, 21-day quarantine of all medical workers and other arriving airline passengers who have had contact with victims of the deadly disease in West Africa.

The move came after a physician who returned to New York City a week ago from treating Ebola patients in Guinea fell ill with the virus. Many New Yorkers were dismayed to learn that in the days after he came home, Dr. Craig Spencer rode the subway, took a cab, went bowling, visited a coffee shop and ate at a restaurant in the city of 8 million.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the case led them to conclude that the two states need precautions more rigorous than those of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which recommends monitoring of exposed people for 21 days but doesn’t require quarantine, in which they are kept away from others.

And the newest addition, via the Washington Post:

N.Y., N.J., Illinois to impose new Ebola quarantine rules

While the Los Angeles Times ponders an alternative:

With Ebola, it’s better to screen outbound flights, study suggests

The deceased Liberian Thomas Eric Duncan is unlikely to be the last person to carry the Ebola virus out of one of three West African countries, a new study suggests. Given current infection rates in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, a team of Canadian infectious disease specialists estimates that as many as three passengers a month are likely to board international flights from one of the three countries.

But the research concludes that screening air travelers in a bid to block the virus’ export would be far more effective if conducted in airports inside the three stricken countries than screening done in arrival destinations such as the United States.

The analysis, published online in the Lancet on Monday, suggests that on average every 10.5 days, a single person sick with Ebola is likely to carry the virus by air from Liberia, Sierra Leone or Guinea to another country.

From the Guardian, symbolic embrace:

Obama hugs Dallas nurse hours after she is declared free of Ebola

  • White House spokesman says president is seeking to reassure public about medical protocols in place to combat disease

Barack Obama sought to reassure Americans over the risks of Ebola transmission on Friday by way of a hug in the Oval Office with Nina Pham, the Dallas nurse who had been declared free of the virus only hours earlier.

White House officials said their invitation to Pham had been made to celebrate her full recovery from the illness at a National Institutes of Health facility in nearby Bethesda.

“This an opportunity for the president to thank her for her service,” said spokesman Josh Earnest. “This is someone who displayed the kind of selfless service to her fellow man that is worthy of some praise.”

But he acknowledged the photo opportunity – just hours after fourth US case was confirmed in New York – was also a way to demonstrate the president’s confidence in medical protocols amid growing political criticism of the administration’s handling of the crisis.

The McClatchy Washington Bureau covers the domestic front line response:

Feds consider tiered hospital system for Ebola patients

Hoping to avoid mistakes made in the treatment of Ebola patients in Texas, federal health officials are considering a plan to designate top-tier hospitals as referral centers for the treatment of potential Ebola cases.

That would limit the number of health care workers who must become expert at taking care of patients with the highly contagious and often deadly disease. Other hospitals still would need to be prepared to identify potential Ebola patients for transfer to the appropriate hospitals for treatment.

The push comes in the wake of mistakes at the Dallas hospital that treated Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan – and where two nurses subsequently became infected with the virus – and as several nurses’ unions across the country worry about the preparedness level of local medical centers.

While the Los Angeles Times revisits the initial domestic venue:

Texas hospitals prepare in case Ebola strikes again

With two Texas nurses diagnosed with Ebola still hospitalized, a newly formed state task force on infectious diseases met Thursday for the first time to review the state’s medical and public health preparedness to cope with the deadly virus.

The country’s first Ebola diagnosis in Dallas on Sept. 30 led Gov. Rick Perry to form the task force and two “bio containment” treatment centers near the state’s largest metro areas, Dallas and Houston.

Professor James LeDuc, director of the Galveston National Laboratory at the University of Texas Medical Branch, said the facility there can treat up to three Ebola patients at a time. Thirty staffers who work there recently met voluntarily with experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

From the Washington Post, a troublesome undercurrent:

Ebola will make Americans more likely to give up civil liberties

The emerging reaction to America’s newest case of Ebola shows that many Americans are scared by serious contagious diseases.

Recent polling of Americans shows that public concern over Ebola has grown since the first cases arrived in the United States and since the death of the first Ebola patient — with 4 in 10 Americans saying that they are worried about family members contracting Ebola. The symptoms associated with Ebola, such as bleeding and weakness, are frightening, and the death rate in this current outbreak is very high, reaching 70 percent in certain places. Ebola anxiety, while potentially misplaced and harmful, is likely to have an affect on whom Americans trust to handle the disease and what kinds of policies they will support to fight it.

Based on work that we have done on other public health anxieties, such as smallpox and the H1N1 flu, we expect that Ebola anxiety will lead people to seek protection from diseases that may cause harm to them or their family. In seeking protection, we expect that Americans will, at least initially, put their trust in medical experts like the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to tell them how to stay safe and will support state powers that may lead to quarantine or other civil liberties restrictions for those suspected of exposure.

After the jump, universities get restrictive, volunteer discouragement angst, France throws up screens, Japan amps up its screening while Rwanda drops one controversial portion of its screening mandate, Ebolaphobia leads to a mule’s demise, North Korea close the borders, quackery flourishes, Ebola lends its name to viruses of another sort and a software mogul coughs up more cash for the fight, China pledges more aid while Europe pledges more euros to the fight, WHO vaccine talks and a Japanese drug, crowdfunding research, dissent over Aussie aid, one nation leads assistance efforts [and it’s not the U.S.], on to Africa, first with help for the newest nation to join the Ebola list and a neighbor closes the border, more devastating regional consequences, a major commitment from other African nations, illegal immigrants targeted, next to Sierra Leone and victory for a few, and on to Liberia and a call for a regional strategy, cremation fears fuel an epidemic of hidden patients and secret burials while a politician blames the fears for spreading the disease [while Nigeria orders corpse confiscation], hunger in quarantine prompts escape fears, one county nears a victory while another suffers from a surge, and, finally, robots to the rescue. . . Continue reading

EnviroWrap: Ills, climate, water, & nukes


Plus a whole lot more.

We open with another deadly disease with a global rich, first with a graphic from disease which preys on the poor, via Agence France-Presse:

BLOG TB

More from BBC News:

WHO revises global tuberculosis estimate up by 500,000

The World Health Organization has revised up its estimate of how many people have tuberculosis by almost 500,000.

In 2013 nine million people had developed TB around the world, up from 8.6 million in 2012, the WHO said. However, the number of people dying from TB continued to decline, it added.

TB campaigners said that one of the biggest problems in tackling the deadly disease was gauging how many people were affected.

About 1.5 million people had died in 2013 from TB, including 360,000 people who had been HIV positive, the WHO said in its Global Tuberculosis Report 2014. And in 2012, there had been 1.3 million tuberculosis deaths.

Next, the latest move in a fight against a growing outbreak in the Caribbean from Public Radio International:

Jamaica declares a state of emergency to try to stop the spread of painful chikungunya virus

Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller announced on Monday that her country is in a “national emergency” this week after the outbreak of the chikungunya virus.

Chikungunya is a mosquito-borne virus transmitted by Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes. “It’s very rarely lethal,” says Dr. Babatunde Olowokure of the Caribbean Public Health Agency — but it’s very painful.

The diesase shares many of the same symptoms as dengue: high fever, headaches, muscle and joint pains, nausea and rashes. The symptoms can last up to 10 months, and have lasted years in some cases.

“This [disease] tends to occur in people who have, maybe, an underlying disease, such as hyper-tension or a cardiovascular issue, and our elderly,” Olowokure says.

The disease has spread throughout the region since surfacing on the island of St. Martin in 2013. Now there are almost 800,000 suspected cases in the Caribbean.

The epidemic’s reach from the Centers for Disease Control:

BLOG Chimi

Antidepressants depressing avian populations?, via the Guardian:

Prozac may be harming bird populations, study suggests

  • Starlings who were fed same levels of antidepressant drug found in sewage earthworms suffered loss of libido and appetite

Increasing consumption of antidepressant drugs may be helping humans but damaging the health of the bird population, according to a new study.

An expert who has looked at the effects of passive Prozac-taking on starlings says it has changed not only their feeding habits but also their interest in mating.

Dr Kathryn Arnold, an ecologist from the University of York, said: “Females who’d been on it were not interested in the male birds we introduced them to. They sat in the middle of the cage, not interested at all.”

Big Agra bites back, from BBC News:

EU pesticide bans ‘could hit UK crops’

The EU’s decision to ban the use of some pesticides could threaten UK crops, increase food prices and hit farmers’ profits, a report has claimed.

The report commissioned by three farming bodies said the EU was on course to “ban” use of 40 chemicals by 2020 to reduce environmental damage.

It said this could lead to a surge in pests, affecting production of apples, carrots and peas, among other crops.

Conservation groups said reducing pesticides would help the environment.

From the Guardian, and now for a word from their sponsor?:

Former Environment Agency head to lead industry-funded fracking task force

  • Lord Chris Smith will lead a new ‘independent’ task force, funded by shale gas companies, to look into the risks and benefits of fracking in the UK

The risks and benefits of fracking for the UK are to be examined by a “independent” task force, led by the former head of the Environment Agency, Lord Chris Smith, and funded by shale gas companies.

“We will assess the existing evidence, ask for new contributions and lead a national conversation around this vitally important issue,” said Smith, who as chair of the Environment Agency oversaw key fracking regulation. “The Task Force on Shale Gas will provide impartial opinions on the impacts, good and bad, that the exploitation of shale gas will have on the UK.”

The government is “going all out” for the rapid development of shale gas in the UK, according to David Cameron. Conservatives say it can increase energy security, help reduce carbon emissions if gas replaces coal and be a boon to poor parts of the UK.

Fracktacular questions from Al Jazeera America:

Green groups say EPA underestimates methane leaks from fracking

  • The EPA touted decreased methane leaks during fracking, but environmentalists say the numbers are skewed

The EPA uses relatively low estimates of how much methane leaks during the natural gas production process. The agency’s estimates are based on a bottom-up approach to monitoring, in which data from individual sources is collected largely through voluntary reporting from the industry and analyzed to paint a broad picture of U.S. methane emissions. Through this method, the EPA has estimated that about 1.2 percent of the gas produced by fracking leaks into the atmosphere during the process.

But a growing list of studies — most of them using top-down approaches, in which monitoring equipment measures emissions over a wide area — throw the EPA’s estimates into question.

“Consistently, studies show [methane leaks] are between 4 and 17 percent,” said Seth B.C. Shonkoff, a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley and the executive director at science policy think tank PSE Healthy Energy. “The most authoritative say the EPA underestimates methane emissions by about 50 percent. It seems the EPA is forgetting this big field of independent science.”

A scientific review led by Adam Brandt, an assistant professor of energy resources engineering at Stanford University, also found that most studies on the topic estimate natural gas methane leakage to be significantly higher than the EPA’s estimates.

From the Guardian, toxic swap syndrome?:

UN climate debt swap is ‘fundamentally unjust’, say development agencies

  • A UN offer of debt relief for small island states to pay for climate change adaptation merges legitimate and illegitimate debt

A UN proposal that would see small island states offered debt relief to pay for climate change contains a “fundamentally unjust” blind spot, according to development groups.

The UN Development Programme (UNDP) is working on an initiative that would see rich countries write off debt owed to them by Small Island Developing States (Sids) in exchange for the money being spent on climate change adaptation.

But development agencies are concerned the proposal conflates legitimate and illegitimate debt. So-called “dictator debt” – money lent by rich countries to poor countries ruled by strongmen, who commonly used it to finance military ventures or vast follies – is estimated at US$735bn, almost one fifth of the total debt owed by the developing world. Many concerned with development believe this debt to be unjust and that it is impossible to enter into any kind of equitable debt swap until these “dictator debts” are unreservedly cancelled.

The ol’ political grip-and-green from the New York Times:

Environmental Issues Become a Force in Political Advertising

In Michigan, an ad attacking Terri Lynn Land, the Republican candidate for the United States Senate, opens with a shot of rising brown floodwaters as a woman says: “We see it every day in Michigan. Climate change. So why is Terri Lynn Land ignoring the science?”

In Colorado, an ad for Cory Gardner, another Republican candidate for Senate, shows him in a checked shirt and hiking boots, standing in front of a field of wind turbines as he discusses his support for green energy.

And in Kentucky, a spot for the Republican incumbent Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader, depicts him flanked by coal miners as a woman intones, “The person fighting for our coal jobs is Mitch McConnell.”

The Los Angeles Times brings us Golden State water woes:

Amid California’s drought, a bruising battle for cheap water

The signs appear about 200 miles north of Los Angeles, tacked onto old farm wagons parked along quiet two-lane roads and bustling Interstate 5.

“Congress Created Dust Bowl.” “Stop the Politicians’ Water Crisis.” “No Water No Jobs.”

They dot the Westlands Water District like angry salutations, marking the territory of California’s most formidable water warrior. Their message is clear: Politicians and environmental laws are more to blame for Westlands’ dusty brown fields than the drought that has parched California for the last three years.

From the Guardian, the gondolier blues:

Death in Venice: long-admired gondola feature threatened by rising waters

  1. Gondoliers increasingly forced to remove iron ornament from stern to get their boats under bridges during high waters

Gliding through Venice, its brocaded velvet seats occupied by a sullen pair of tourists, the boat is almost everything a gondola should be: black, sleek and gleaming, with a genial man in stripes rowing it expertly to the canal-bank.

Just one thing is missing from this quintessentially Venetian scene, and while it is passes unnoticed by most visitors it is an absence that aficionados see as a cruel blow to the city’s heritage.

On the stern, where there should be a curved piece of iron recalling the skilled movement of the gondolier’s oar – or, say some romantics, the shape of a lion’s mane – there is nothing. “Shall I put it back on?” asks Stefano, the gondolier, bending down to pick the iron stern ornament up from where it is lying, discarded, beside the seats. “This morning there was acqua alta [high water] and I had to take it off,” he says. “It’s a necessity.”

Dammed if they do, via the Guardian:

India’s largest dam given clearance but still faces flood of opposition

  • The 3000MW Dibang dam, rejected twice as it would submerge vast tracts of biologically rich forests, is to get environmental clearance – but huge local opposition could stall the project

Dibang dam will not only generate power but supposedly control floods in the plains of neighbouring Assam state. The dam’s reservoir was estimated to submerge 5,000 hectares (12,000 acres) of dense forests along the Dibang river valley. The forest advisory committee (FAC), which examines the impact of infrastructure projects on wilderness areas, was appalled and rejected it.

For a project so large, the environmental impact assessment (EIA) failed to assess critical components of the project and was widely criticised for inadequately predicting the dam’s effects on the environment. Its evaluation of impacts on wildlife is a farce. The authors of the document list creatures not found in that area, such as Himalayan tahr, and concocted species not known to exist anywhere in the world, such as brown pied hornbill. Of the ones they could have got right, they mangled the names, referring to flycatchers as ‘flying catchers’ and fantail as ‘fanter’.

In his scathing critique, Anwaruddin Choudhury, an expert on the wildlife of north-east India, sarcastically concluded the EIA makes a case for the project to be shelved, as Dibang was the only place in the world “with these specialities!” Despite listing these amazing creatures, the EIA goes on to say “no major wildlife is observed”.

The Asahi Shimbun covers a seismic shift:

Nautical charts to be revised to reflect unprecedented changes caused by tsunami

Tsunami breakwaters were destroyed in the ports of Ofunato and Kamaishi in Iwate Prefecture, where water depths lost a maximum of 10 meters. But in a July 2011 survey, the water was 15 meters deeper than indicated in the nautical chart at one location in Hachinohe Port, Aomori Prefecture. It is believed that the tsunami induced a big eddy that scooped out part of the seafloor.

Coast Guard officials said local governments that administer ports are in charge of surveying any small changes, such as those resulting from wharf construction. The Coast Guard uses those survey results to modify its nautical charts.

But the 2011 disaster created so many changes that the Coast Guard took the unusual step of conducting comprehensive surveys and republishing nautical charts for all 24 ports affected.

Antarctic conservation from the Antarctic Ocean Alliance via MercoPress:

AOA calls on CCAMLR to agree on marine protection of the Ross Sea and East Antarctica

  • As representatives of the 25 Members of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) meet this week in Hobart, where they will decide the fate of two key protection proposals in the Ross Sea and East Antarctica, the Antarctic Ocean Alliance (AOA) called on the member countries to honor their conservation commitments and finally agree to lasting and significant Southern Ocean protection.

A joint US-NZ proposal to designate a Ross Sea marine protected area (MPA) of 1.32 million km2 (with 1.25 million km2 area proposed as “no take”) is under consideration. The Ross Sea, is often referred to as “The Last Ocean” due to its status as one of the most pristine oceans remaining on earth.

Australia, France and the EU are once again proposing an MPA to protect 1.2 million km2 of East Antarctic waters. Their proposal would allow for exploratory and research activities within the MPA if they are consistent with the maintenance of the MPA’s objectives.

More marine peril from Yale Environment 360:

Drive to Mine the Deep Sea Raises Concerns Over Impacts

Armed with new high-tech equipment, mining companies are targeting vast areas of the deep ocean for mineral extraction. But with few regulations in place, critics fear such development could threaten seabed ecosystems that scientists say are only now being fully understood.

For years, the idea of prospecting for potentially rich deposits of minerals on the ocean floor was little more than a pipe dream. Extractive equipment
was not sophisticated or cost-effective enough for harsh environments thousands of feet beneath the ocean’s surface, and mining companies were busy exploring mineral deposits on land. But the emergence of advanced technologies specifically designed to plumb the remote seabed— along with declining mineral quality at many existing terrestrial mines — is nudging the industry closer to a new and, for some environmentalists and ocean scientists, worrying frontier.

More than two-dozen permits have been issued for mineral prospecting in international waters. And in April, after years of false starts, a Canadian mining company signed an agreement with the government of Papua New Guinea to mine for copper and gold in its territorial waters. That company, Nautilus Minerals, plans to begin testing its equipment next year in European waters, according to the International Seabed Authority (ISA), a regulatory agency established in 1994 under the auspices of the United Nations. A Nautilus spokesman, John Elias, said the plan is to award a construction contract in November for a specialized mining vessel. “All other equipment has been manufactured and is in final assembly,” he wrote in an email.

Chief among critics’ concerns is that seabed mining will begin without comprehensive regulatory oversight and environmental review. They say
dredging or drilling the seafloor could potentially obliterate deep-sea ecosystems and kick up immense sediment plumes, which could temporarily choke off the oxygen supply over large areas. And powerful international companies, they add, could take advantage of the lax or non-existent review and enforcement capabilities in many small island nations of the Pacific Ocean — precisely where seabed mineral deposits are thought to be highly concentrated.

After the jump, Japanese super-eruption odds, the dope on Afghan dope, battlin’ bees Down Under, on to Fukushimapocalypse Now!, starting with possible criminal charges, worker woes at the reactor complex, new radioactive particle scrubbers, demolition starts with the end point four decades away [if that soon], still no relief for evacuees and a plea for relief, the cruious semantics of Abve’s restart plans, controversy in Sendai, and Chinese coal-lessing. . .   Continue reading

EbolaWatch: Panic, pols, Africa, fear & drugs


And much, much more.

We begin on the lighter side, given what follows.

From Reuters Plus:

Cuddly Ebola toy almost wiped out

Program note:

It’s probably the only time you’ll find Ebola associated with “Add to Wishlist”. Giantmicrobes.com’s fluffy rendition of the deadly virus is completely sold out.

A more serious note — much more serious — from Agência Angola Press:

World must stop Ebola in West Africa or face ‘pandemic’ – Cuba’s Castro

The world must confront Ebola in West Africa to prevent what could become one of the worst pandemics in human history, Cuban President Raul Castro said on Monday.

“I am convinced that if this threat is not stopped in West Africa with an immediate international response … it could become one of the gravest pandemics in human history,” Castro told a summit of the leftist ALBA bloc of Latin American and Caribbean countries in Havana.

Cuba is sending 461 doctors and nurses to West Africa, the largest medical contingent of any single country to fight the worst Ebola outbreak on record.

Another warning from the Independent:

Ebola outbreak: Nowhere is safe until virus is contained in Africa, claims the top doctor who beat it in Nigeria

Dr Faisal Shuaib, the incident manager for Nigeria’s Ebola response, told The Independent that Nigeria was still under threat, and that no state could afford to be complacent.

“Yes we have contained an outbreak, but there’s always a threat that we could be infected again by individuals travelling from affected states,” he said. “The outbreak in West Africa is two different stories, a success story in Nigeria, and a story of human tragedy [in the worst-affected states].

“There are still lot of resources required in Sierra Leone and Liberia to contain the outbreak. We need international clarity that as long as the outbreak continues in West Africa, then no country, no individual in the world is safe from contracting the disease. We need to mobilise resources – human, material and financial – to these countries to contain the outbreak there,” he said.

“Then and only then can we say we have dealt with this as a global community as one human race.”

From Shanghai Daily, a key reason for the win:

Nigeria declared Ebola-free thanks to doctor who died from the virus

The first case in Nigeria was imported from Liberia when Liberian-American diplomat Patrick Sawyer collapsed at the main international airport in Lagos on July 20.

Authorities were caught unawares, airport staff were not prepared and no hospitals had an isolation unit, so he was able to infect several people, including health workers at the hospital where he was taken.

But they acted fast after the doctor on duty, who later herself died of the disease, quarantined him against his will and contacted officials.

Ameyo Adadevoh, the doctor at the First Consultants hospital in Lagos, kept him in the hospital despite his protests and those of the Liberian government, preventing the dying man spreading it further, said Benjamin Ohiaeri, a doctor there who survived the disease.

“We agreed that the thing to do was not to let him out of the hospital,” Ohiaeri said, even after he became aggressive and demanded to be set free. “If we had let him out, within 24 hours of being here, he would have contacted and infected a lot more people … The lesson there is: stand your ground.”

From South China Morning Post, a promise:

WHO chief pledges ‘transparent’ review of its handling of Ebola crisis

  • WHO chief Margaret Chan says agency will be upfront about how it handled disease, after damning internal report details its initial failings

The head of the World Health Organisation said the agency would be upfront about its handling of the Ebola outbreak after an internal report detailed failures in containing the virus – while a senior WHO official praised the precautions China has taken.

In a draft document, the WHO says “nearly everyone” involved in the Ebola response failed to notice factors that turned the outbreak into the biggest on record.

It blames incompetent staff, bureaucracy and a lack of reliable information.

WHO director general and former Hong Kong director of health Margaret Chan Fung Fu-chun said on Monday that the report was a “work in progress”. Chan, who was attending a conference in Tunisia, said: “I have promised WHO will be fully transparent and accountable.”

The Wire covers the political:

Democrats Defy Obama in Favor of an Ebola Travel Ban

  • The question of restricting flights to insulate the U.S. has become a classic campaign litmus test

Worried about the political fallout from the Ebola outbreak, vulnerable Senate Democrats are declaring their support for a U.S. travel ban from the afflicted countries in west Africa.

In multiple cases, the Democrats are shifting from their earlier positions on the question, despite arguments from senior U.S. medical officials and the White House that stiff restrictions would only make it harder to prevent an infected person from entering the country. Senator Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire joined the crowd on Monday night, saying through a spokesman that she “strongly supports any and all effective measures to keep Americans safe including travel bans if they would work.” Shaheen said last week she didn’t think a travel ban makes sense, but she is facing heavy criticism from her Republican opponent, former Senator Scott Brown, on the issue. Under pressure from Republicans, Senator Kay Hagan came out in support of a ban late last week, and Senators Mark Pryor and Mark Udall have also called for travel restrictions.

More from BuzzFeed:

Democratic Congressional Candidate: Ebola Is Coming To Nevada, Ban Travel From Africa

  • “I wasn’t sure why they didn’t stop tourists visas a week ago from Africa. I wasn’t sure about that, why that hasn’t happened?”

A Democratic congressional candidate says Ebola is coming to southern Nevada and wants to ban travel from Africa.

In a video from last Thursday, Erin Bilbray, the Democrat challenging Republican Rep. Joe Heck in Nevada’s 3rd District

Bilbray said hospitals need to be equipped to handle Ebola saying, “I think it is gonna happen here in southern Nevada, god forbid.”

Next, from Gallup, the trend line revealing declining confidence in the ability of America’s government to handle an Ebola outbreak on this side of the Atlantic:

BLOG Ebola

Now that white folks are getting sick. . .from Homeland Security News Wire:

Congress ready to allocate additional funds to agencies working on Ebola

Some members of Congress are preparing to offer additional funding to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health, and other federal agencies, but according to White House press secretary Josh Earnest, the Obama administration has not decided how much additional funding it will request from Congress to combat the epidemic.

Efforts to contain and eliminate Ebola in affected countries need more U.S. government funding, according to aid organizations and public health agencies involved in the matter. Some members of Congress are preparing to offer additional funding to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health, and other federal agencies, but according to White House press secretary Josh Earnest, the Obama administration has not decided how much additional funding it will request from Congress to combat the epidemic.

Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), who heads the Labor and Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee, has asked his staff to work with the administration to figure out what resources will be needed to fight Ebola in the United States and West Africa. “Areas of focus in these discussions on funding for the U.S. Ebola response include the need for resources to expand quarantine stations, train and equip health workers, test potential treatments and vaccines, and expand our response in West Africa,” an aide to Harkin said.

From the Associated Press, and why aren’t we surprised?:

Insurer considers Ebola exclusion in some policies

Global property and casualty insurer Ace Ltd. says it may exclude Ebola coverage from some of its general liability policies.

The Swiss company said Tuesday that it is making the decision on a “case by case” basis for new and renewal policies under its global casualty unit, which offers coverage for U.S.-based companies and organizations that travel or have operations outside the U.S.

Ace said in a statement that it is evaluating the risk for clients that might travel to or operate in select African countries with higher exposure to the Ebola virus. It did not specify how many policies this might affect and declined to say if it has put an exclusions of this sort in place yet.

The company appears to be one of the first insurers to disclose that it is making modifications specific to Ebola, but that doesn’t mean it is the only one.

Laying down the rules with the Guardian:

Ebola health workers must be covered head to toe, say new US guidelines

  • Nurses’ groups and others had called for revised advice
  • Stricter CDC guidance provides ‘extra margin of safety

Federal health officials issued new guidelines to promote head-to-toe protection for health workers treating Ebola patients.

Officials have been scrambling to come up with new advice since two Dallas nurses became infected while caring for the first person diagnosed with the virus in the United States.

The new guidelines issued on Monday set a firmer standard, calling for full-body garb and hoods that protect workers’ necks; setting rigorous rules for removal of equipment and disinfection of gloved hands; and calling for a “site manager” to supervise the putting on and taking off of equipment.

Nurses’ groups and other hospital workers had pressed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for the new guidance, saying the old advice was confusing and inadequate, and workers felt unprepared.

From the New York Times, preparations:

New York Health Care Workers Gather for Ebola Training

Thousands of health care workers, including janitors and security guards, doctors and nurses, gathered at the Javits Convention Center in Manhattan on Tuesday for a combination training session and pep rally to prepare them in the event that the Ebola virus is found in New York.

The workers are being taught how to recognize Ebola and prevent it from spreading. Though many said they had already received training at their hospitals, the session was intended to address concerns that existing practices were inadequate, after two nurses in Dallas contracted the virus after caring for Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian man who died on Oct. 8. The session’s organizers planned to communicate the latest protocols from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which had been updated as recently as Monday.

Though several New York hospitals have taken in patients with symptoms signaling Ebola, like high fever, none have tested positive for the virus. To date the only three people to be diagnosed with it in the United States are the three in Dallas.

From CCTV America, another impact of the Ebola crisis in the U.S.:

Liberians in the US facing stigma of the virus

Program notes:

Liberians in the United States say they are facing social isolation as a result of fears that they will pass on the Ebola virus. CCTV America’s Daniel Ryntjes reports.

From TheLocal.de, a call form Germany:

Steinmeier wants epidemic task force

At the World Health Summit in Berlin, the Ebola crisis took centre stage at talks meant to create plans for how to handle future outbreaks.

Germany’s Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier opened the conference on Sunday with his own ideas.

“One could possibly conceive of something like the White Helmets. Not an organisation that is always there, but a pool of experts, of doctors, of nursing staff, that one can call upon in these kind of crisis situations,” he said at his key note speech.

At a press conference, Steinmeier added that a coordinated effort is most important to stem the spread of the Ebola outbreak.

Consultation from Agência Angola Press:

WHO’s emergency committee on Ebola to meet Wednesday

The World Health Organization’s emergency committee on Ebola will meet on Wednesday to review the scope of the outbreak and whether additional measures are needed, a WHO spokeswoman said on Tuesday.

“This is the third time this committee will meet since August to evaluate the situation. Much has happened, there have been cases in Spain and the United States, while Senegal and Nigeria have been removed from the list of countries affected by Ebola,” WHO spokeswoman Fadela Chaib told a news briefing.

The 20 independent experts, who declared that the outbreak in West Africa constituted an international public health emergency on Aug. 8, can recommend travel and trade restrictions. The committee has already recommended exit screening of passengers from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

From The Hill, case closed:

American journalist declared free of Ebola

An American freelance journalist has been cleared of the Ebola virus after he fell ill while working as a cameraman for NBC News and Vice News in Liberia, according to reports.

Ashoka Mukpo tweeted Tuesday night that he’s had three consecutive days of negative Ebola tests and called the discovery “a profound relief.”

Another Northerner cured, from TheLocal.no:

Norwegian Ebola victim free of virus

A Norwegian woman who contracted the Ebola virus while working for Doctors Without Borders in Sierra Leoneis now free of the virus and was released from an isolation unit on Monday.

“Today I am in good health and am no longer contagious,” Silje Lehne Michalsen told reporters just minutes after Oslo University Hospital announced she had recovered.

Profits aplenty, via the Associated Press:

Ebola causing spike in demand for hospital gear

Manufacturers and distributors of impermeable gowns and full-body suits meant to protect medical workers from Ebola are scrambling to keep up with a surge of new orders from U.S. hospitals, with at least one doubling its staff and still facing a weekslong backlog. Many hospitals say they already have the proper equipment in place but are ordering more supplies to prepare for a possible new case of Ebola.

This gear is made of material that does not absorb fluids and is crucial to preventing the spread of the virus, which has infected thousands across West Africa, many of whom caught the disease while caring for those infected. Ebola is transmitted through direct contact, through cuts or mucous membranes, with bodily fluids such as blood, vomit and feces, and proper protective equipment helps prevent doctors and nurses from accidentally getting any fluids in their eyes, nose or mouth.

Hospitals are paying close attention to the type of protective gear they stock after two nurses contracted Ebola earlier this month while caring for a Liberian man dying of the disease at a Dallas hospital. The nurses were exposed to the disease during what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has called a “breach in protocol” at the hospital. But some medical professionals criticized the CDC for distributing guidelines that do not require medical staff caring for infected patients to don full-body suits or wear multiple layers of gloves.

Likewise, from Deutsche Welle:

Disinfection a growing market

  • Demand for disinfection and disease protection gear is booming amidst concern about the Ebola epidemic

The McClatchy Washington Bureau covers amelioration:

Ebola panic may be subsiding in Dallas

Panic over Ebola appears to be waning across much of the Dallas-Fort Worth region as residents drop off the quarantine list and more is learned about how the virus spreads.

Numbers of note from the Washington Post:

U.S. influx of travelers from Ebola-stricken nations slows

During the first five days of screening, there were an average of about 80 travelers a day from the three countries, down from the average of 150 that had been expected.

Enhanced screening at JFK — where about 43 percent of the passengers enter — began on Oct. 11, and was implemented five days later at Dulles and airports in Atlanta, Chicago and Newark.

The number of West Africans arriving in the United States has been closely held by the White House and the Department of Homeland Security.

More from the Los Angeles Times:

Passengers from Ebola-stricken countries to use five U.S. airports

Passengers flying to the U.S. from three Ebola-stricken countries will have to fly into one of five designated American airports for additional screening, including having their temperature taken, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson announced Tuesday.

The restriction was immediately criticized by House Republicans who want a complete ban on travelers coming from West African countries with high Ebola infection rates.

Starting Wednesday, airline passengers coming from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea must fly into New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey, Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, Washington Dulles International Airport or Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Johnson said.

More screening from the Japan Times:

India to step up travel surveillance to stop any Ebola outbreak

India stepped up its efforts on Tuesday to prevent an outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus, conducting mock drills at its airports and installing surveillance systems.

Global health authorities are struggling to contain the world’s worst Ebola epidemic since the disease was identified in 1976. The virus has killed more than 4,500 people across the three most-affected countries, Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.

All international airports and seaports in India will soon be equipped with thermal scanners — similar to Nigeria, which has been declared Ebola-free — and other detection equipment, the Health Ministry said in a statement.

Japan screens, and more from Jiji Press:

Fears Grows over Possible Ebola Outbreak in Japan

Japan has become concerned about a possible Ebola outbreak in the country, prompting the health ministry to take precautions such as training doctors and implementing preventive measures at airports.

Fears have grown since medical workers in the United States and Spain suffered secondary infections from sufferers who entered the countries from Africa.

In Japan, Ebola hemorrhagic fever is in the Type 1 category of most dangerous infectious diseases. Only 45 designated medical institutions nationwide are allowed to accept those believed to have the virus.    Each institution can admit between one and four patients.

More from the Japan Times:

Japan orders travelers from Ebola nations to report twice daily

Health minister Yasuhisa Shiozaki said Tuesday travelers arriving from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone are now required to report their health condition to officials twice daily for three weeks, regardless of whether they have had known contact with Ebola patients.

The move comes amid growing fears of a global Ebola pandemic. Japan’s response so far includes the introduction of a bill in the Diet that would give local governments greater power to require patients with an infectious disease to submit samples for testing for Ebola.

Shiozaki said the quarantine requirement for travelers will last 21 days.

Still more from Nikkei Asian Review:

Japan getting the lowdown on Ebola from US military

Japan sent five officials, including members of the Self-Defense Forces, to the headquarters of the United States Africa Command in Germany on Tuesday to collect information about the Ebola outbreak and help prevent the spread of the disease.

One of the five, an Air Self-Defense Force major, will remain at the facility in Stuttgart to gather information on the status of regions affected by Ebola and related activities by the armed forces of other countries. The officer is also expected to support the American military in coordinating transportation of personnel and supplies in affected areas.

Some in the U.S. government reportedly want the SDF to participate in activities in affected areas, including constructing medical facilities and transporting supplies. But Japan intends to stay put for now.

And tuurnabout’s fair play, from the Washington Post:

Now an African country is screening incoming Americans and Spaniards for Ebola

According to the U.S. Embassy in Rwanda, the tiny land-locked East African nation has begun screening passengers from the United States and Spain for the deadly virus.

From a note on the embassy’s Web site:

Visitors who have been in the United States or Spain during the last 22 days are now required to report their medical condition — regardless of whether they are experiencing symptoms of Ebola — by telephone by dialing 114 between 7:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. for the duration of their visit to Rwanda (if less than 21 days), or for the first 21 days of their visit to Rwanda. Rwandan authorities continue to deny entry to visitors who traveled to Guinea, Liberia, Senegal, or Sierra Leone within the past 22 days.

The screening measures have been in place for two days, and images apparently showing the screening forms have been posted on Twitter.

After the jump, another Carribean travel ban, sparse preparations in Pakistan, British Columbia gets ready, scares and readiness in China, Europe boosts its donations, a new high-speed diagnostic tests as new treatments are rushed into production and vaccine trials commence, Cuba sends more medical teams with thousands of volunteers waiting in the wings, food woes intensify and care gaps wide, the Sierra Leone death tool continues to rise and dubious treatments flourish, retired soldiers are pressed into service, and recovered patients faces growing stigmatization, on to Liberia and a call for border monitors and Kenyans in Monrovia hankering for home, a call for blood, lost survivors, memories of civil war, and tightened controls on the press, Kenya orders border scanners, and the safari business in decline. . .    Continue reading