How culture shapes perceptions of autism


Autism is one of the most fascinating of human conditions, a structuring of the human brain that nudges development toward the kind of behaviors once call monomanias to the neglect of the kind of social relationships without which the rest of us would find ourselves devastated.

We’ve long felt that being a good journalist requires just a touch of the autistic nature, a compulsion to delve deeply into something with a fixity of purpose dismaying to and, frequently, neglectful of, others.

Our formal academic training, such as it was, was in anthropology, before we were derailed into what we discovered was our true vocation, journalism. But we’ve retained a fondness for anthropology.

So we were delighted to discover an illuminating lecture by an anthropologist with a vital interest in autism in the person of his own daughter.

His search for understanding of autism through an anthropological lens is revealing. And what we find most interesting is that the autistic seem to do best in small, human scale cultures, where embeddedness combines with acceptance in allowing the autistic to find roles which make the most of the unique abilities in the context of the community.

Of particular interest are some of his observations about the power of the media in shaping public recognition and acceptance of autism in the community, especially in the cases of one South Korean feature film and a South African traditional healer’s arrival at a diagnosis.

From University of California Television:

Culture and Autism: Anthropological Perspectives on the U.S. Korea and South Africa

Program notes:

Although Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) appears to be universal, the contexts in which it occurs are distinctive. Yet little research has been conducted on ASD in diverse cultures within the U.S., or in countries outside of the U.S. or Europe, with little reliable information yet reported from developing countries. Drawing on research in the U.S., South Africa, and South Korea, Richard Grinker, an anthropologist at George Washington University and parent of a child with autism, discusses the complex relationship between culture and diagnosis in the context of changes in autism awareness, prevalence, diagnostic practices, and community outreach.

Chart of the day: Global population on the rise


But likely growth patterns are shifting, with Africa on the ascendant in terms of new numbers. From Agence France-Presse, based on new research reported Thursday:

BLOG Population

Ted Rall: California, a state of mind, and war


From the Los Angeles Times:

BLOG Rall

InSecurityWatch: Spooks, hacks, war, weapons


For the first item in today’s compendium pf the world of spies, snoops, cops, crimes, wars, geopolitics, hackery, and the like, we turn to reassurance from the Guardian:

CIA chief: ‘If I’ve done something wrong, I’ll stand up and admit it’

  • John Brennan expresses frustration with Senate and media while decrying lack of trust in agency at intelligence conference

The director of the Central Intelligence Agency expressed frustration with his Senate overseers and the media on Thursday, even as he and his fellow heads of US intelligence agencies pledged to win back the trust of a skeptical American public.

“I certainly believe having the public’s trust makes all of our jobs much easier and better,” Brennan said on a panel at an intelligence conference, where he was joined by his colleagues at the helms of the National Security Agency, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and the Defense Intelligence Agency.

But ahead of an impending clash with the Senate intelligence committee, which is due to release a public version of a report into CIA torture in the coming weeks, Brennan rejected “the narratives I see floating around the media.”

From Gigaom, someone’s takin’ a bit out of the Apple:

Apple’s “warrant canary” disappears, suggesting new Patriot Act demands

When Apple published its first Transparency Report on government activity in late 2013, the document contained an important footnote that stated: “Apple has never received an order under Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act. We would expect to challenge such an order if served on us.”

Writer and cyber-activist Cory Doctorow at the time recognized that language as a so-called “warrant canary,” which Apple was using to thwart the secrecy imposed by the Patriot Act.

Warrant canaries are a tool used by companies and publishers to signify to their users that, so far, they have not been subject to a given type of law enforcement request such as a secret subpoena. If the canary disappears, then it is likely the situation has changed — and the company has been subject to such request.

Now, Apple’s warrant canary has disappeared. A review of the company’s last two Transparency Reports, covering the second half of 2013 and the first six months of 2014, shows that the “canary” language is no longer there.

From the Register, score another one for Edward the Leaker:

Snowden’s NSA leaks have galvanised the storage world

  • Vendors raise their game after gov securo-busting revealed

In a recent CyberArk survey of 373 C-level and IT security executives across North America, Europe and the Asia-Pacific, 37 per cent of respondents said Snowden’s breach of NSA security had influenced their security strategy more than any other incident over the past year.

Difficult decisions are having to be made across industries. Where and how to store data tops the list of priorities. Who to trust has also become a pertinent question when it comes to access management and procurement processes. Storage and security have become sexy again.

Indeed, one of the material outcomes of Snowden’s leaks has already been realised: inspired by renewed consumer and business interest in privacy, technology is becoming more secure.

From the New York Times, oversharing reported by James Bamford:

Israel’s N.S.A. Scandal

In Moscow this summer, while reporting a story for Wired magazine, I had the rare opportunity to hang out for three days with Edward J. Snowden. It gave me a chance to get a deeper understanding of who he is and why, as a National Security Agency contractor, he took the momentous step of leaking hundreds of thousands of classified documents.

Among his most shocking discoveries, he told me, was the fact that the N.S.A. was routinely passing along the private communications of Americans to a large and very secretive Israeli military organization known as Unit 8200. This transfer of intercepts, he said, included the contents of the communications as well as metadata such as who was calling whom.

Typically, when such sensitive information is transferred to another country, it would first be “minimized,” meaning that names and other personally identifiable information would be removed. But when sharing with Israel, the N.S.A. evidently did not ensure that the data was modified in this way.

Mr. Snowden stressed that the transfer of intercepts to Israel contained the communications — email as well as phone calls — of countless Arab- and Palestinian-Americans whose relatives in Israel and the Palestinian territories could become targets based on the communications. “I think that’s amazing,” he told me. “It’s one of the biggest abuses we’ve seen.”

From RT, bloody irony:

GTA-ISIS: Militants hooking youngsters with ‘Jihad video game’ trailer

Islamic State (IS) militants have released a jihadist video game trailer in which the aim is to destroy Iraqi and US forces, Arabic media report. The game, styling itself as a Grand Theft Auto adaptation, appears specifically aimed at young people.

The recruitment propaganda video trailer aimed to “raise the morale of the mujahedin and to train children and youth how to battle the West and to strike terror into the hearts of those who oppose the Islamic State,” according to the media wing of the IS (formerly known as ISIS), cited in Arabic media.

“The content includes all of the organization’s military tactics against its opponents,” the Islamic state said.

Homeland Security News Wire covers an intelligence failure:

U.S. intelligence, leaders unclear on exact danger posed by ISIS

Considerable discrepancies in the reporting from U.S. intelligence services regarding the strength of the Islamic State (IS) have led critics to the conclusion that the U.S. intelligence community knows little about the terrorists’ actual strength as the United States is in the process of developing a military strategy to defeat the Islamist organization.

Considerable discrepancies in the reporting from U.S. intelligence services regarding the strength ofthe Islamic State (IS) have led critics to the conclusion that the U.S. intelligence community knows little about the terrorists’ actual strength as the United States is in the process of developing a military strategy to defeat the Islamist organization.

From the Associated Press, The Most Transparent Administration in History™ flunks the test, again:

Journalists view Obama administration’s transparency as much worse than Bush’s

Editors and reporters meeting in Chicago raised concerns Wednesday about what they described as a lack of access and transparency undermining journalists’ work, several blaming the current White House for setting standards for secrecy that are spreading nationwide.

Criticism of President Barack Obama’s administration on the issue of openness in government came on the last day of a three-day joint convention of the American Society of News Editors, the Associated Press Media Editors and the Associated Press Photo Managers.

“The White House push to limit access and reduce transparency has essentially served as the secrecy road map for all kinds of organizations — from local and state governments to universities and even sporting events,” Brian Carovillano, AP managing editor for U.S. news, said during a panel discussion.

James Risen, a New York Times reporter who is facing potential jail time as he battles government efforts to force him to testify at the trial of a former CIA officer accused of leaking classified information, also spoke at the conference. Risen said intense pressure on reporters and their sources is having a chilling effect on newsgathering.

He spoke of scaring one source just by going to his home and knocking on the front door. “He opened the door and he turned white,” Risen said. “He marches me back through the kitchen [to a back exit] and said, “‘Go out that way.’”

Guns beat butter again, via the Guardian:

UN to cut food aid to Syria

Without more money, World Food Programme warns food rations will be reduced and voucher schemes slashed

The UN warned on Thursday that it will be forced to cut food rations for more than 6 million Syrians from next month unless it received more funding.

The World Food Programme said that while it still expects to reach almost 6 million Syrians inside the country and in neighbouring states in October and November, there will be significant cuts to the amount of food delivered. The WFP said it had no money for programmes in December.

A WFP official told Reuters that the food basket for Syrians could shrink to 825 calories, well under half the daily recommended intake.

From the Associated Press, bordering on sanity:

Border Patrol to test wearing cameras

The U.S. Border Patrol will begin testing body-worn cameras on agents next month, the head of its parent agency said Thursday, a step toward seeing if the technology should be used in the field as the government seeks to blunt criticism about agents’ use of force.

R. Gil Kerlikowske, Customs and Border Protection commissioner since March, said a variety of cameras will be tested beginning Oct. 1 at the Border Patrol’s training academy in Artesia, New Mexico.

He didn’t say when or even if cameras will be introduced to the roughly 21,000 agents in the field.

From Sky News, making a good point:

Assange: ‘Google Like A Privatised NSA’

  • Julian Assange tells Sky News the search engine gathers and files information just like America’s National Security Agency.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has accused Google of behaving like a “privatised version of the NSA” in the way it collects and stores information about people.

He told Sky News the internet giant was not doing anything illegal but its behaviour was highly questionable. “It is not doing things which are illegal, what it is doing is legal,” he said. “It is collecting as much information about people as possible, storing it, indexing it, and using it to create profiles of people and then selling that to advertisers and others.

“Those are the same procedures that security agencies go through. That is why the NSA has latched on top of what Google is doing. Since 2009 the NSA had been engaged in the Prism system where information collected online is available to it.”

The accompanying video from Sky News:

Julian Assange ‘Will Leave Embassy With Asylum Intact’

Program note:

Sky’s Sarah Hewson talks to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

From BuzzFeed, and reminding us of the a high school joke about the cat, who crept in, crapped, and crept out:

U.S. Company Distances Itself From Egyptian Surveillance System

  • And the website of its Egyptian affiliate is taken down.

The U.S.-based Blue Coat company has issued a statement distancing itself from a project to monitor Twitter, Facebook, and Skype in Egypt, following a BuzzFeed News report.

Egyptian officials had told BuzzFeed News that a company called See Egypt had won a tender to begin providing the government with a surveillance system that would allow them to comb through data from Skype, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, among others. In interviews, the Egypt-based SeeEgypt called itself a “sister company” to Blue Coat, and listed the company as one of their affiliates.

Now, Blue Coat has issued a response saying that their products are not being resold to the Egyptian government.

From the Dissenter, gee, are we surprised:

Email Suggests Manufacturer of Stingray Surveillance Equipment May Have Lied to FCC

The American Civil Liberties Union has accused the manufacturer of StingRay surveillance products of providing inaccurate information and possibly even lying to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which is the agency that is supposed to regulate communications over cable, radio, satellite, television and wire.

Harris Corporation is one of the leading manufacturers of StingRay technology. The technology was “initially designed for the military and intelligence community” and “operates by mimicking cellular service providers’ base stations and forcing all cellular phones in range to register their electronic serial numbers and other identifying information,” according to the ACLU.

The ACLU of Northern California chapter managed to obtain a series of emails from 2010 between the FCC’s Office of Engineering and Technology (OET) and Harris Corporation employees, where the “equipment authorization application for law enforcement use of Harris’ StingRay line of products” is being discussed.

After the jump, a death sentence for an Iranian blogger, beating the messenger in Russia, Plasticopalypse Now!, a horrifying traffic scenario suggested, China bases more claims in troubled waters, and a top cop’s curious pal. . . Continue reading

Still the United Kingdom, but a close call


And almost twice the share of the vote as the last times Scot tried to make a break for it. Via the Guardian:

BLOG Scotland

EnviroWatch: Illness, fires, toxins, Fukushima


First, via Al Jazeera America, a biological bubble enlarging:

World population growing, not slowing

  • New methodology reverses earlier predictions, projects Africa population will quadruple this century

The possibility that the world’s population will climb to 11 billion by the end of the century is gaining traction now that demographers are using probability methods for their projections.

A paper published online on Thursday in the journal Science details new methodology that shows that most of the world’s anticipated growth is in Africa, where population is projected to quadruple from about 1 billion today to 4 billion by 2100.

“For the last 20 years, prevailing opinion was that world population would go up to 9 billion and level off in the middle of the century and maybe decline,” said Adrian Raftery, one of the paper’s lead authors and a professor of statistics and sociology at the University of Washington. “Population is going to keep growing. We can say that with confidence.”

From the London Daily Mail, another outbreak closer to home:

Cases of rare and severe infant respiratory illness enterovirus 68 confirmed in 14 states as it spreads quickly among children across America

  • As of Wednesday both Minnesota and New Jersey have confirmed cases of the severe virus enterovirus 68
  • Officials say Alabama, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, New York, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania together have 130 lab-confirmed cases
  • There are also suspected cases in Georgia, Michigan, Ohio and Utah
  • A child in Minnesota told Children’s chief nursing officer Roxanne Fernandes it felt like he had ‘an elephant sitting on his chest’
  • The virus has caused no deaths but has put some children in intensive care and on life support

And from Science, malpractice certain to feed the ISIS media mill:

Sixteen children in Syria die in measles immunization campaign

Sixteen children, all or most under age 2, have died after receiving an injection in a measles immunization campaign in an opposition-held area of northern Syria. Up to 50 more children were sickened.

Details are hazy, says a World Health Organization (WHO) representative in Geneva, Switzerland, but at this point the cause looks like a “very bad human error,” in which a strong muscle relaxant was administered instead of the measles vaccine. The tragic deaths threaten to undermine all vaccination efforts across Syria, where childhood immunization rates have dropped precipitously after years of civil war.

WHO and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) have dispatched an investigation team but for now are dependent on secondhand information from nongovernmental organizations and other partners in northern Syria, says WHO’s Christian Lindmeier. (For security reasons, neither organization has staff on the ground in Idlib, where the deaths occurred.) Until the cause is confirmed, rumors will continue to circulate, he warns; various press accounts are alleging a plot by the government of embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad or perhaps the terrorist group ISIS.

According to Lindmeier, the children died almost immediately on Tuesday after receiving the shot, part of a measles immunization campaign under way in Idlib and Deir al Zour, two governorates of Syria.

Reuters covers a burning issue:

New evacuations ordered as California wildfire doubles in size

More residents of Northern California mountain communities were told to leave their homes on Thursday after an out-of-control wildfire doubled in size overnight, scorching more than 100 square miles of drought-parched timber and brush.

Nearly 3,700 firefighters struggled to stop the forward march of the King Fire, the largest and most dangerous of 11 major wildfires raging across California, but had managed to cut containment lines around just 5 percent of the flames as of Thursday morning, officials said.

The blaze raced across some 43,000 acres of forest land late on Wednesday and early on Thursday and has now burned more than 70,000 acres of state land in the El Dorado National Forest northeast of Sacramento.

The Associated Press covers a culprit:

Man arrested in fast-growing California wildfire

A man with a lengthy criminal history has been charged with deliberately starting a Northern California wildfire that has shown explosive growth and driven nearly 2,800 people from their homes, authorities said Thursday.

Wayne Allen Huntsman, 37, was arrested late Wednesday in Placerville and booked into El Dorado County Jail, where he was being held on $10 million bail.

Huntsman faces a forest-land arson charge, along with a special allegation of arson with aggravating factors because the blaze east of Sacramento put a dozen firefighters in serious danger, forcing them to deploy their fire shields. They all escaped unharmed.

From Environmental Health News, another menace:

Kids exposed in the womb to plasticizers more likely to have asthma

New York City children exposed in the womb to moderate levels of two plasticizers had a 72 to 78 percent higher chance of developing asthma, according to a new study published today.

The study is the first to link childhood asthma, which has been increasing in recent decades, to prenatal exposure to phthalates.

“These results suggest that phthalates may be one of the factors associated with that increase,” said Robin Whyatt, a Columbia University environmental health scientist who led the study. She added, however, that more studies are needed to understand how important a risk factor these chemicals may be.

Phthalates, used in the manufacture of vinyl and some cosmetics, have been connected to a number of health effects in lab animal and human studies, including airway inflammation, altered male genitalia, attention and learning problems and premature births.

Environmental Health News again, with another menace:

Mass murder by botulism: Surge in Great Lakes bird deaths driven by invaders

The nonnative creatures have been driving a deadly surge in avian botulism in the Great Lakes over the past 15 years, killing an estimated 80,000 birds, including loons, ducks, gulls, cormorants and endangered piping plovers. Now scientists are searching for what has triggered this change in intensity of the disease: If they can unravel where and why the lethal toxin is building up in food webs, they can predict which shorelines are death traps for birds.

The botulism bacterium “is the most toxic natural substance on Earth. Just one gram could kill off like 2 million people,” said Stephen Riley, a fisheries biologist with the U.S. Geological Survey. “And for these birds it’s essentially just widespread food poisoning.”

Outbreaks were first documented in the Great Lakes in the 1960s, but they ebbed and flowed until 1999, when they intensified on Lakes Erie, Huron, Ontario and Michigan.

Common Dreams covers another controversy:

USDA’s Greenlighting of ‘Agent Orange’ Crops Sparks Condemnation

  • Following widespread outcry, Dow’s new genetically engineered corn and soybeans get approval.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s decision this week to approve two new genetically engineered crops is being denounced by watchdog groups as a false solution to herbicide-resistant weeds and a move that threatens human and environment safety alike.

The crops are Dow AgroSciences’ Enlist corn and soybeans, engineered to be resistant to its Duo herbicide, which contains 2,4-D, a component of the notorious Agent Orange. 2,4-D has been linked to Parkinson’s, birth defects, reproductive problems, and endocrine disruption. Dow states that the new system will address the problem of weeds that have become resistant to glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s widely-used Roundup.

Food and environmental safety groups, however, say that it speaks to the failure of the genetically engineered crops strategy that fosters herbicide expansion—profitable for the chemical companies—and ignores the paradigm shifted needed in the industrial agriculture system.

From Al Jazeera America, on the rise:

Canary in a coal mine: Extreme weather, rising seas plague atoll nation

  • Marshall Islands president issues a call to action ahead of international climate summit next week hosted by the UN

As global leaders gear up to meet at next week’s United Nations Climate Summit in New York, the president of a small Pacific island nation vulnerable to rising seas caused by global warming said the future of his people depends on creating a carbon-free world by 2050.

“Out here in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, climate change has arrived,” Marshall Islands President Christopher Loeak said in a video address to his fellow heads of state. “Our atoll nation stands at the front line in the battle against climate change.”

In the video, Loeak stands in front of a sea wall he built to protect his home and family from rising seas which have already engulfed several of the nation’s atolls — making them disappear forever.

After the jump, the latest chapter of Fukushimapocalypse Now!, including a decontamination claim, skeptical fishermen, a radioactive waste disposal plan, uncovering a hidden agenda, a major loss of seismic expertise, and rising chances for yet more reactors worldwide. . . Continue reading

EbolaWatch: Drugs, warnings, murders, more


The news remains grim, and we’ll start with a critical factor, via Jiji Press:

Profit motive big hurdle for Ebola drugs — experts

Until this west African epidemic, Ebola was not a public health problem and (was) a really rare disease, says Professor Peter Piot, director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, who co-discovered the Ebola virus in 1976.

There was very little interest in all quarters, not just pharma, Piot said in an email to AFP. Things have changed now, and two major companies are investing in a vaccine — GSK (GlaxoSmithKline) and (Johnson & Johnson subsidiary) Janssen.

Sylvain Baize, in charge of the Viral Haemorrhagic Fevers Reference Centre at France’s Pasteur Institute, said Ebola had claimed fewer than 2,000 lives in almost 40 years, a minute toll compared with other diseases.

If these 2,000 deaths had occurred in industrialised countries, things may have been different, but it was 2,000 dead in the middle of Africa, so nobody cared very much, Baize said sardonically. Ebola’s extraordinary lethality was another reason why it never became a top target for research, he said.

From Reuters, the latest death total:

U.N. to deploy Ebola mission as death toll reaches 2,630

The United Nations unveiled plans on Thursday for a special mission to combat the worst Ebola epidemic on record in West Africa, as the death toll hit 2,630 and France became the latest Western nation to step up its support.

French President Francois Hollande announced the deployment of a military hospital to remote Forest Region of southeastern Guinea, where the outbreak was first detected in March.

Since then the virus has infected at least 5,357 people, according to World Health Organization (WHO), mostly in Guinea, neighboring Sierra Leone and Liberia. It has also spread to Senegal and Nigeria.

More from Al Jazeera America:

WHO: 700 Ebola cases emerge in one week

  • Sierra Leone shuts down as number of West Africans believed to have died from the virus tops 2,600

In a sign that West Africa’s Ebola crisis is worsening, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday that more than 700 new cases of the deadly virus were confirmed in the last week for which data is available.

The news was announced as citizens of Sierra Leone prepared for a three-day nationwide shutdown, during which the country’s 6 million people will be confined to their homes while volunteers search house-to-house for Ebola victims in hiding and hand out soap in a desperate bid to slow the accelerating outbreak.

The number of people killed by the Ebola virus is now more than 2,600, an increase of roughly 200 from the last estimate, WHO said. Most of the deaths have been in Liberia, the hardest-hit of West African nations plagued by the virus.

And Channel NewsAsia Singapore sounds the alarm:

Ebola threatens world peace, says UN Security Council

The UN Security Council on Thursday (Sep 18) adopted a resolution declaring the Ebola outbreak a threat to world peace and security, and calling on countries to provide urgent aid.

The resolution was adopted unanimously after UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon warned that the number of Ebola infections was doubling every three weeks, in particular in Liberia.

The council heard a desperate appeal from Liberian medical aid worker Jackson Naimah for assistance to beat back the epidemic that has left about 2,600 dead and over 5,000 others severely ill in West Africa.

“Please send your helicopters, your centres, your beds and your expert personnel,” said Naimah, speaking on video link from Monrovia. “We do not have the capacity to respond to this crisis. If the international community does not stand up, we will be wiped out.”

More from the Los Angeles Times:

Senior U.N. System Coordinator for Ebola Dr. David Nabarro, said the outbreak is doubling in size every three weeks, and urged a “massively scaled up” response.

Speaking from Monrovia, Liberia, Dr. Jackson Naimah of Medicins San Frontieres, an organization that has been an outspoken critic of the U.N. and other organizations it feels have been too slow to mobilize against Ebola, painted a grim picture on the ground.

Patients are dying at the front gates of the hospital where he works, Naimah said, begging to be let in to the overflowing treatment center.

One boy, whose father had died of Ebola, approached the gate, his mouth bloodied, but there was no space to take him in, Naimah said.

“I thought to myself, that this boy is going to take a taxi, and he is going to go home to his family … infect his family, and also other people,” Naimah told the assembly via a live video feed, and added that the future of his country “is hanging in the balance.”

USA Today covers the first concrete result:

U.N. announces medical corps to fight Ebola

Six months into the West African Ebola epidemic, the United Nations Security Council voted unanimously Thursday to create a special medical mission to respond to the disaster. The force should be on the ground in West Africa by the end of the month.

“Ebola matters to us all,” said Ban Ki Moon, U.N. secretary-general, who oversaw the U.N. Security Council’s first meeting on the Ebola outbreak, the largest epidemic in the disease’s history. “We cannot afford delays. The penalty for inaction is high. We need to race ahead of the outbreak and then turn and face it with all of our energy and strength.”

The United Nation Mission for Ebola Emergency Response would be on the ground in West Africa by the end of the month. The world has been racing against an outbreak growing at an exponential rate, but always falling behind. To get ahead of the epidemic, the world will have to scale up its response by about 20-fold, Ban said. That will require about $1 billion.

The Monrovia [Liberia] Inquirer despairs:

“Ebola Is Winning”…CSO Expresses Great Frustration

The Chairperson of the Liberian Civil Society Taskforce on Ebola, Mr. Oscar Bloh says the deadly Ebola virus is winning and International response to Ebola outbreak has been slowed.

Mr. Bloh disclosed that the many hospitals in the country are over-run and under- staffed with fear and panic sparking serious violence while borders have also been closed and ships prevented from coming to the country. He said Liberia is running out of food and other essential things.

According to Mr. Bloh, after months of inaction in recent days, donor pledges had been made ,but Liberians still have the fear that it will take too long for government promises to translate into hands to help.

Another measure from the Liberian Observer:

AU to Deploys 200 Health Workers in Ebola Affeted Countries

The African Union (AU) is expected to deployed 200 health workers and other professionals,including nurses and doctors to Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone to help combat the deadly Ebola virus in the sub-region.

Africa Union’s Special Representative to Liberia, Amb. Toyin Solaja,said the deployment is a part of a joint AU-led military and civilian humanitarian mission code named African Union Support to Ebola Outbreak in West Africa (ASEOWA).

He puts the cost of the operation to more than 25 million United States Dollars. The Ambassador said a total of two hundred (200) professionals are expected to be deployed in the three countries.

According to Amb.Solaja, additional professionals from across the continent are undergoing training in the Ugandan Capital, Kampala, to form part of the operation which aim is to ensure that Ebola is put under control.

Reuters covers one tragic consequence of mounting fear:

Eight bodies found after attack on Guinea Ebola education team

Eight bodies, including those of three journalists, were found after an attack on a team trying to educate locals on the risks of the Ebola virus in a remote area of southeastern Guinea, a government spokesman said on Thursday.

“The eight bodies were found in the village latrine. Three of them had their throats slit,” Damantang Albert Camara told Reuters by telephone in Conakry.

However, Guinea’s Prime Minister Mohamed Saïd Fofana, speaking in a television message that had been recorded earlier, said 7 bodies of 9 missing people had been found.

He said six people have been arrested following the incident, which took place on Tuesday in Wome, a village close to the town of Nzerekore, in Guinea’s southeast, where Ebola was first identified in March.

Meanwhile, via RFI, another patient from the North wins favored status:

First French Ebola patient to be airlifted home

A French volunteer for the Doctor Withouth Borders (MSF) NGO, infected by the Ebola virus in Liberia, was to be airlifted to Paris on Thursday. The woman is the first French national working in affected areas, to contract the virus .

“She will be repatriated to France in conditions of maximum security in a specially dedicated air ambulance,” said the French health ministry without giving further details about when exactly the patient would be airlifted.

French authorities have readied several hospitals in Paris and the rest of the country to take charge of any potential patients.

While a non-European patient is rebuffed, via BBC News:

Ebola outbreak: Malta rejects ship carrying suspected case

Maltese authorities have turned away a ship travelling from Guinea to Ukraine over fears one person on board may be infected with the Ebola virus.

Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said the captain of the ship had made a request for assistance for a sick Filipino passenger on board.

The decision to turn the ship away was “morally and legally correct”, Mr Muscat said.

From the Independent, fearful anticipation:

The powerhouse of West Africa waits for Ebola to strike

If Ebola reaches Ivory Coast, the powerhouse of French-speaking West Africa, the economic consequences could be huge. The country exports 40 per cent of the world’s cocoa – the raw material for chocolate – and supplies its landlocked neighbours with everything from rice to fuel. The country is therefore taking the kind of aggressive anti-infection measures which its poorer, smaller western neighbours were slow to adopt. Handwashing stations have appeared at government buildings and office towers in Abidjan. People have also abandoned the traditional three-kiss greeting.

The government has sent mass text messages to the public and children, exposed to warnings on radio and television, quarantine their classmates in a playground game they call “Ebola”. “It’s without precedent,” said Daouda Coulibaly, who is leading the effort. “We started back in March to explain to people that this is a real disease. It must be taken seriously.”

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has already warned that several neighbouring countries are at risk. With the outbreak gathering pace, the WHO has said a $1bn international response will be needed to keep the number of those infected within the “tens of thousands”.

After the jump, screening pilgrims to Mecca, a Liberia presidential plea, a shutdown delayed in Sierra Leone and a video report on the shopping rush in anticipation, tragedy in one Liberian town and more healthcare workers dead, food aid for liberal, educational programs in Liberia and Nigeria [including an educational video], and an emerging black market. . .
Continue reading