Category Archives: Sex

EbolaWatch: Politics, cases, food, fraud, schools


And more, starting with sex, via Reuters:

Fear of Ebola’s sexual transmission drives abstinence, panic

Worries over sexual transmission risk adding to the stigmatisation Ebola survivors already face, and are protracting the emotional burden of families often struggling to overcome the deaths of relatives.

While men like Pabai have taken the WHO’s advice a step further by separating themselves from their loved ones, some traumatised communities have imposed more draconian measures.

“We’ve got people being treated horrendously,” said Margaret Harris, a spokeswoman on Ebola for the WHO. “In Sierra Leone particularly male survivors have been put in a form of concentration camp.”

Harris said men had been detained in Bombali, a district northeast of the capital Freetown, highlighting how public hysteria had become a real danger.

From SciDev.Net, a failure to engage:

Ebola struggle hit by failure to involve local people

Efforts to save lives in the West African Ebola outbreak have been undermined by a failure to involve local people more closely in communication about treatment and ethical decisions about trials, says a report published last week (17 February).

The report’s authors, who are all involved in Ebola vaccine work, made recommendations focusing on Ebola vaccine research, manufacturing and the process of getting vaccine approval in the developed world. They were convened by UK medical research funder the Wellcome Trust and the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, United States.

Considering real human and social factors is vital for stemming the Ebola outbreak, says Clement Adebamowo, the chairman of the Nigerian National Health Research Ethics Committee and one of the report’s 26 advisers.

The New Dawn in Monrovia, Liberia, covers visitors:

US Health officials Visit Liberia, Guinea

The U.S. Acting Assistant Secretary for Health, Karen DeSalvo,  Assistant Secretary for Global Affairs, Jimmy Kolker, and Deputy Chief of Staff Dawn O’Connel will visit Liberia and Guinea for three days this week to visit Ebola response sites in the region, the U.S. embassy here has disclosed.

In Liberia, they will tour the Monrovia Medical Unit (MMU), a 25-bed field hospital dedicated to providing care to health care workers who become infected with Ebola, and the Liberian Institute for Biomedical Research, one of only a few laboratories in Liberia where Ebola specimens are sent to be tested. They will also meet with key representatives from the Government of Liberia, the World Health Organization and additional U.S. agencies involved in the Ebola response.

The MMU is staffed by the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, an elite uniformed service of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. U.S. Deputy Surgeon General RADM Boris D. Lushniak is currently the commanding officer of the MMU.

From StarAfrica, the newest hot spot:

Liberia: Four new Ebola cases discovered in Margibi County

The Margibi County Health Team has disclosed that four new confirmed cases of Ebola have been discovered in the county.Margibi Community Health Services Director Joseph Korhene told the county weekly Ebola Taskforce meeting in Kakata that the new cases could be traced to a lady, who brought her sick husband from Monrovia to the county on February 4, this year.

Korhene told stakeholders at the meeting that the lady took her husband to a local clinic in Kakata upon their arrival in the county on a commercial motorbike and then to a village known as Gaygbah Town in the county where he later died.

He said in line best practice, Gaygbah Town and nearby villages have been quarantined by the County Health Team (CHT) and that the victims are currently receiving treatment at the Kakata Ebola Treatment Unit.

From FrontPageAfrica, a notable number:

509th Patient Recovered From Ebola in ELWA III in Liberia

For the 509th time an Ebola survivor has left ELWA3, the Ebola Centre managed by Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) in Monrovia. A thirteen year-old boy was driven home by a MSF vehicle on 19February to be reunited with his big sister and two younger brothers.

“He has been our only confirmed patient for a few weeks. The entire medical team was caring for him,” said Gloria Lougon, head nurse in ELWA3. “All our energy and determination was put into helping this boy fight the virus and recover.”

As the young patient is a football lover, the team organized the screening of a legendary football game (Brazil – Germany in the World Cup 2014). Three days later his blood sample finally tested Ebola-negative, meaning the kid could be brought home. Before leaving ELWA3, the last survivor left his tiny handprint on the walls to remind everyone an important message: yes, it is possible to beat Ebola.

SOS Children’s Villages Canada covers a complication:

Lack of clean water takes toll on Ebola-stricken Liberia

As schools in Liberia start reopening after nearly six months of closure due to the Ebola epidemic, one challenge still looms: access to clean water.

In response, SOS Children’s Villages is constructing a hand pump for Managbokai Elementary School. The school offers formal education to 200 children from marginalized families in a rural region of the country.

“This is the only school for children in Bomi County,” said the vice principal of the school, Kona Goll. “We appreciate the contribution of SOS Children’s Villages Liberia. The installation of a hand pump at the school is vital for the health and academic achievement of everyone here.”

Even before the Ebola crisis, access to safe water was a challenge. Managbokai Elementary School only had four teachers and the problem of water added to this difficulty and the progress of the students. Teachers would have to leave their classrooms and walk with student for 10 minutes to get drinking water. Students were also becoming ill from drinking the unsafe creek water that runs through the village. Fortunately, access to clean water will soon improve for children living in Bomi County, Liberia.

And FrontPageAfrica covers education in education:

Liberia’s MCSS Schools Get Ebola Prevention Training

In continuation of the fight against the deadly Ebola virus, especially with the resumption of schools, the Monrovia Consolidated School System, a conglomerate of public schools in collaboration with Lone Star cell MTN Foundation is currently conducting a three day workshop in Monrovia on Ebola prevention.

Speaking during the start of the workshop, the Superintendent of the MCSS School system, Benjamin Jacob said the workshop is aimed at providing training for employees and staffs of the MCSS to enable them deal with any possible Ebola related cases.

“We are trying to run safe schools in the midst of Ebola by enlightening teachers, principals and other administrators. Doctors will be talking about the preventative methods, to all those people who are in the MCSS schools” Jacob said.

While the News covers an ongoing weakness:

Our Laboratories Had Challenges Before Ebola

… Coordinator

The National Laboratory Coordinator of the National Incident Management Team, Henry Kohar has highlighted the challenges laboratories in Liberia faced prior to the Ebola outbreak.

Mr. Kohar told the Ministry of Information regular press briefing Tuesday that operational funding was a serious problem for laboratories in the country.

According to him, prior to the outbreak, laboratory technicians had problem with the maintenance of equipment, noting “you will find out that most of our microscopes and other machines were non-functional due to the lack of maintenance.”

He disclosed that most of the laboratories machines were broken down due to the lack of electricity.

The National Coordinator also cited the lack of water supply as one of the problems technicians were faced with prior to the Ebola outbreak.

StarAfrica covers another:

W/Bank wary of Liberia food shortage

The World Bank has warned that food shortages will persist in Liberia where nearly three-quarters of households are worried over enough harvest to eat.The Bank issued a statement Tuesday noting that despite improvement in the outlook over the Ebola epidemic, agriculture remains a concern as nearly 65 percent of agricultural households surveyed in December believed that their harvests would be smaller than it had been in the previous year.

The fear is based on 80 percent labour shortages and the inability to work in groups due to Ebola infection which continues to pose a problem for agricultural households.

The bank also recalled the lack of money by households for food as a cardinal problem in buying enough to feed their families.

On to Sierra Leone and a call for vigilance from the Sierra Leone Concord Times:

In Kono: VP Sumana admonishes more vigilance as Ebola ebbs

Addressing hundreds of stakeholders at Kaiyima in Sandor Chiefdom, and Kangama in Gorama Kono Chiefdom while on his social mobilization tour of Kono district, Vice President Chief Alhaji Samuel Sam-Sumana thanked the Chiefdom Ebola Task Force, nurses, contact tracers and Paramount Chief Sheku A.T. Fasuluku Sonsiama III, and chiefdom authorities for their tremendous role in the fight against Ebola.

The vice president informed the large crowd that the Ebola virus may be gradually declining in size, strength and power across the country, yet the battle against the invisible enemy was still raging as “the virus still exists with us and we are in the most dangerous period of the fight”.

He thanked His Excellency President Ernest Bai Koroma “for his fabulous work in leading the fight against Ebola”, thus admonishing the people of Sandor, Nimikoro and Gorama Kono chiefdoms to be more vigilant “during this causal period in the fight against the Ebola virus”.

StarAfrica covers a crisis of corruption:

S/Leone parliament to discuss Ebola funds report

Sierra Leone’s parliament is set to begin looking at a controversial report on how funds meant to fight the Ebola epidemic were used. Deputy Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) in parliament, Komba Koydeyoma, was quoted in local media Tuesday saying that they would start hearings on the Ebola audit report on Wednesday.

It followed heated debate after the report was released earlier this month revealing how millions of US Dollars went unaccounted for after been used without proper documentation.

The report has set the government, particularly MPs, against the public, after the House of Representatives attempted to prevent public discussion of its details. The MPs argued that the PAC must first look at it and makes its own findings before it could be public document.

And some praise, via the Sierra Leone Concord Times:

Defence Secretary praises UK troops for efforts in Salone

UK Defence Secretary, Michael Fallon, has said that UK personnel have made a vital contribution to tackle Ebola, during a visit to Sierra Leone.

Arriving in Freetown, Mr. Fallon met with President Ernest Bai Koromo at State House. Their meeting began with an ‘Ebola handshake’, a greeting now widespread in Sierra Leone where elbows are offered to avoid any potential transmission of the disease through body contact.

Mr. Fallon then visited sites where the British military has provided key support, including the Kerry Town Treatment Unit (KTTU) where regular and reserve military medics are treating healthcare workers with Ebola; the Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) Argus which deployed in September and has been providing reassurance and aviation support to the people of Sierra Leone; and the District Ebola Response Centre (DERC) in the northern town of Port Loko.

And on to Guinea with the Thomson Reuters Foundation:

First Ebola survivors talk of hope and despair in Guinea

Lying in an Ebola treatment centre in southeast Guinea, hidden behind thick plastic sheets and surrounded by nurses in yellow protective suits, Rose Komano feared she would not survive the virus that had robbed her of so many loved ones.

“Everyone before me had died, I was terrified,” Komano recalled.

But the 18-year-old became the first person to beat Ebola in the region of Gueckedou, where the latest outbreak of the disease was initially detected in March 2014.

Almost a year after she was released from a treatment centre run by medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), Komano, who contracted the virus while caring for her sick grandmother, still mourns the deaths of her relatives.

Map of the day: Where America’s singles are


From CityLab and compiled by the University of Toronto’s Martin Prosperity Institute, a look at how relative gender imbalances stack the dating game across the country. At the link, you’ll find more maps charting the differences by age group, with all circles. save for one tiny blue dot in California’s Central Valley,  glowing pink for would-be senior daters:

BLOG Single

Chart of the day: Sex in the executive suite


One of many fascinating charts from a very interesting new report [PDF] from the Pew Research Center focusing on perceived essential differences between men and women and how folks believe they affect the abilities of men and women to hold positions of high responsibility in politics and business:

BLOG A role

EbolaWatch: Blame, hope, vaccine, impacts


We begin with a report from RT:

IMF policies blamed for aggravating spread of Ebola

Program notes:

A year since the Ebola epidemic took hold in West Africa, the number of fatalities has reached 7,500, and the toll is still piling up. But according to a new report – International Monetary Fund policies have only made matters worse.

In other words, it’s the austerity that played a leading role in the severity.

Next, a cautiously optimistic look ahead from the Los Angeles Times:

Efforts to stop Ebola are gaining ground, but the fight isn’t won

As 2015 approaches, there is reason to hope that what at first was a plodding international response is finally catching up with the virus. In Liberia, where just a few months ago bodies were left in the streets for days and patients were turned away from treatment facilities because there weren’t enough beds or personnel, the number of cases has been dropping rapidly. There are also signs that the disease may be slowing in Sierra Leone, which has overtaken Liberia as the country with the biggest caseload.

Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told reporters Monday that he was hopeful about stopping the epidemic but cautioned, “This is going to be a long, hard fight.”

In the hardest-hit countries, the effects of the outbreak could be felt for years. Healthcare systems have collapsed, schools closed, fields left untended and commerce curtailed. The virus has ripped through families, leaving thousands of orphans, many of whom are stigmatized.

Want China Times covers the latest vaccine news, in this case a genetically engineered creation:

PLA to test Ebola vaccine this month

The Chinese military has developed and will test an Ebola vaccine on human subjects this month, a defense ministry spokesperson said Thursday.

Spokesperson Yang Yujun said at a regular press briefing that the vaccine had been developed by a research team at the Academy of Military Medical Sciences.

“The vaccine has recently passed appraisal by state and military authorities and will begin clinical tests in December,” Yang said.

Yang said the Chinese-developed Ebola vaccine was the third one to have been put into clinical tests in the world. It is also the world’s first 2014-genetic mutation Ebola vaccine.

CCTV America covers another impact of the outbreak:

Ebola weakens West African mining industry

Program notes:

A year ago, West Africa’s mining industry was seen as a potential boost to the region’s economy. But with the ebola outbreak, the industry has seen setbacks and even pullouts by investors.CCTV’s Stephanie Fried reports from a hard hit diamond mine on the Guinea-Sierre Leon Border

Next to Sierra Leone and another complication from Al Jazeera America:

In Sierra Leone, loving in the time of Ebola

  • Ebola, spread through direct contact with bodily fluids, sparks concern over intimacy and sex

The deadly virus ravaging Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea is transmitted through direct contact with bodily fluids, including semen, saliva, sweat, diarrhea and vomit. Fear over contracting or spreading the virus has transformed romantic relationships and affected how people interact in general.Men who survive Ebola also have to take precautions in the months after having the virus. According to the World Health Organization, Ebola can be present in the semen of survivors for up to three months after they have recovered. The organization advises Ebola survivors to abstain from sex for three months to protect their partners from infection.

Lansana Conteh, the program manager in the health education division for the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, said it is raising public awareness about the practices of safe sex through radio announcements and by having counselors talk to survivors.

“We want people to know the risk involved, and we tell them with condoms, there are still risks involved, so it’s better to abstain altogether for the three months, if possible,” he said.

He added that the ministry is starting programs to provide therapy for couples dealing with Ebola.

On to Liberia with the World Health Organization and front line fighters drawn from the classroom:

Liberia – local students become active Ebola case finders

Program notes:

Ever since the closure of the university due to the Ebola outbreak, Robbin George, criminology student at the University of Liberia, has been trying to help stop the spread of the Ebola virus in his country. He joined the team of active case finders to go from house to house to find out if sick people are being treated.

From the Liberia News Agency, when soaring hospital admissions are a sign of recovery:

Grand Gedeh Records Increase In Number Of Patients At Health Facilities

The Grand Gedeh office of the  Ministry of Health (MOH)  has reported a dramatic increase in the intake of patients at health facilities across the county.

Making the disclosure to the Liberia News Agency recently in Zwedru, Grand Gedeh County  MOH Chief Administrator Mrs. Eugenia Huntington, attributed the increase in the number of patients at medical facilities to the rapid decline in the number of new Ebola cases.

Huntington pointed out that during the peak of the Ebola outbreak, people from across the county including health workers, abandoned all the nineteen public health facilities in Grand Gedeh that provided delivery, emergency and out-patient services to patients in the county.

She told LINA that the increase in the number of patients at public health care facilities demonstrates renewed confidence in the county’s health delivery system. She stressed the need to respond to this renewed confidence by providing the necessary services from diagnosis to the dispensing of drugs for treatment.

And the Monrovia Inquirer covers a contribution:

Chinese Medical Team Pledges To Help Build Liberia’s Health Sector

The head of the Chinese Medical Team has pledged that his team will help the Liberian Government rebuild its public health sector.

Mr. Wang Yungui observed that the Liberian public health sector is in dire need of resuscitation, and that as a very good partner to the Liberian government and people, they will help rebuild it to enable it provide adequate healthcare for citizens.

According to the Liberia News Agency, Mr. Yungui made the pledge Monday at the Bong Mines Hospital during a one-day workshop on the deadly Ebola Virus Disease, EVD. He said in the absence of a good public health system, disease outbreaks can be very devastating.

Finally, on to Christmas fears in a land only lightly touched by the hand of death, via CCTV Africa:

Ebola: Low Turnout Over Ebola Fears in Mali

Program notes:

In Mali’s capital city Bamako, the festivities have however been overshadowed by the threat of Ebola which has killed thousands across West Africa.

InSecurityWatch: Cops, hacks, and religious wars


And more. . .

From, the Guardian, the right tool for the job?:

Federal officials may use little-known civil rights statute in police shooting cases

  • Department of Justice and FBI have for weeks been examining the deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, John Crawford III and now Dontre Hamilton

The families of at least four unarmed black men killed this year by police are pinning their hopes on possible federal prosecutions under a little-known civil rights statute that has only occasionally been used to indict officers in such cases.

The Department of Justice (DOJ), the FBI and local US attorneys’ offices have for weeks been examining the deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner and John Crawford III – all of whom were killed by police officers who grand juries later decided not to indict on state criminal charges.

Late on Monday, the DOJ announced it would review a fourth death: that of Dontre Hamilton, who was shot 14 times by a police officer following a confrontation in a park in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in April.

The review was launched after the Milwaukee district attorney announced that Christopher Manney – the police officer who shot Hamilton, and who has since been fired – will not face charges.

In all four cases, federal officials are considering whether there is sufficient evidence to bring charges under a section of the US code that prohibits public officials from depriving an individual of constitutional rights under “color of law”.

The Los Angeles Times covers pols behaving badly:

Britain investigates alleged VIP pedophile ring from ‘70s and ‘80s

The allegations about so-called VIP pedophiles involve prestigious London addresses, some of the highest-ranking members of Britain’s establishment and the suspected abuse of young boys in the 1970s and 1980s, including three who were slain.

Six members of Parliament have been implicated in the scandal, which threatens to expose a powerful political elite who may have raped and exploited juveniles for more than a decade and put their self-interests ahead of the protection of children.

John Mann, a member of Parliament, has presented Scotland Yard with a dossier that he said names 22 high-profile figures, including three serving in the House of Commons and three members of the House of Lords, who are believed to have been involved in a pedophile ring. There are no allegations that the six members of Parliament were involved in incidents in which children died.

On to the hacker front with Al Jazeera America:

Massive Sony breach sheds light on murky hacker universe

  • Amid disagreement about whether North Korea is responsible for breach, evidence points to security flaws

Who is really behind the cyber attack on Sony Pictures? The FBI has placed the blame for the attack, which caused the entertainment giant to temporarily halt its Dec. 25 release of its film “The Interview,” squarely on North Korea, but some security experts are not convinced.

After its investigation, based on undisclosed “sensitive sources and methods,” the FBI concluded that “the North Korean government is responsible for these actions.” But some experts argue that the FBI’s evidence against North Korea, linking it to the Guardians of Peace (GOP) — the hacker group taking credit for the attack — is flimsy.

They suggest several other possibilities, not all of them involving North Korea. Based on available evidence, they say that the Sony data breach could have been accomplished by North Koreans inside North Korea; expatriates in China loyal to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un; international hackers abroad sponsored by Pyongyang; or simply bored hackers from another continent doing it for the lulz.

From the Japan Times, a Game of Zones gambit forestalled:

Government convinces city to call off Senkakus aerial survey

Following a request by the central government, the city of Ishigaki, Okinawa Prefecture, has agreed to call off an aerial survey of the Senkaku Islands, which fall under its jurisdiction, according to sources.

The government has been trying to improve relations with China, which claims the islets and calls them Diaoyu.

Ishigaki authorities had planned to carry out the environmental survey before the end of this month using chartered civilian aircraft.

Previously, the central government refused to grant permission to Ishigaki authorities to go ashore on the islets for an environmental survey in 2010, when the Democratic Party of Japan was in power.

And on to religious conflict, first with BBC News:

Nigeria’s Borno and Yobe states impose travel bans

All vehicle movement in Nigeria’s north-eastern Borno state has been banned from Christmas eve to Sunday morning to prevent attacks by militant Islamists, the army has said.

The decision has led to thousands of people rushing to get to their destinations, correspondents say.

Neighbouring Yobe has barred vehicles from entering or leaving the state.

Boko Haram militants have targeted churches during previous festive seasons.

Another continent, another crisis via the New York Times:

‘Reconversion’ of Religious Minorities Roils India’s Politics

Hindu nationalists here claim that Muslims and Christians have been forcing Hindus to convert to their religions for centuries. So there is deep sensitivity to proselytizing by non-Hindus, particularly foreigners. Visas for religious professionals are strictly limited, some missionaries are instructed not to proselytize openly and, now that a Hindu nationalist has become India’s prime minister, hard-line Hindu groups have begun a long-dreamed campaign to claw back some of those conversion losses.

This month in Agra, nearly 200 Muslims were reported to have been converted en masse to Hinduism by an offshoot of the powerful Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, a Hindu nationalist group that is the ideological wing of the governing Bharatiya Janata Party and that once employed the prime minister, Narendra Modi.

The same group has announced plans to convert thousands of Christians to Hinduism on Christmas Day.

Some recent converts reported being tricked into the ceremonies with promises of economic benefits. But the leader of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, Mohan Bhagwat, has promised to press ahead with the conversions, which his group has called “homecomings.”

From International Business Times, fanning the flames:

Anti-Islamic Protesters Sing Christmas Carols & Rally In Germany

Eastern Germany saw a record number of protesters holding an anti-Islamic rally on Monday. Around 17,000 people celebrated a far-right populist movement by singing Christmas carols.

The “Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the Occident” has emerged within a few weeks, even though there were only a few hundreds in the city of Dresden supporting it in October. PEGIDA followers braved hostile weather, wet and cold, to hold the rally. The followers, who insisted that they did not promote Nazi ideals, said that they were patriots who were insecure about the existence of the Christian-rooted traditions and culture in the country. They often accuse the media of false reporting and mainstream politicians of betraying them. PEGIDA followers gathered outside the Semperoper concert hall. The Telegraph reported that the number of demonstrators, according to police, was 15,000 last week and around 17,500 on Monday.

Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said that the people of Germany should initiate a “rebellion of the decent” against such rallies. He said that such public reaction was required against the PEGIDA rallies. Jochen Bohl, the Protestant bishop of Saxony state, said that the anti-Islamic protesters were exploiting a Christian tradition and a Christian symbol for their political purposes. Meanwhile, the management of the opera house showed its distaste for the rally by switching off the lights of the building. It also had flying flags outside reading the first line of the national constitution of Germany: “Open your eyes”, “Open your hearts”, “Open doors” and “Human dignity is sacrosanct.”

And back to Africa with the U.N. News Center:

Muslim group trapped by Central African Republic violence face dire situation, warns UN

The United Nations refugee agency voiced concern today over the “deteriorating situation” facing more than 400 members of a Muslim minority group trapped by the ongoing violence fracturing the Central African Republic (CAR).

Adrian Edwards, spokesperson for the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), told reporters in Geneva that 474 members of the Peuhl ethnic group had been trapped for several months in the town of Yaloke, 200 kilometres northwest of the capital city of Bangui, where they were now facing dire humanitarian conditions.

Adults and children had become severely malnourished and more than 30 per cent were suffering from malaria, he noted, adding that there were also six known cases of tuberculosis. In addition, he warned, since their arrival in Yaloke in April, 42 people among the group had died, while others were becoming weaker by the day.

“Despite the presence of international forces, the group at Yaloke is still subject to recurrent threats, verbal and physical aggression, and looting by anti-Balaka militias,” said Mr. Edwards. “Urgent humanitarian assistance is needed along with help in relocating them to safer places, either inside the Central African Republic or to neighbouring countries.”

He added that today, the displaced Peuhl are the only Muslims still in Yaloke, and they are confined to an overcrowded site for the internally displaced.

“They cannot go beyond a 500 metre perimeter because of the dangers. This means that they cannot seek safety elsewhere but it also impedes them from securing a livelihood or seeking other help.”

And we close with another security threat from BBC News:

Japan charges Tokyo ‘vagina artist’ with obscenity

A Japanese woman who makes art based on her vagina has been charged with obscenity, in a case that has sparked discussion on censorship.

Megumi Igarashi, 42, had allegedly displayed an “obscene” work at a Tokyo sex shop and sent 3D data of her genitals to other people.

She was arrested in early December and has been held in detention since then.

Ms Igarashi was previously arrested in July, but was later released following a legal appeal and public pressure.

On Wednesday Ms Igarashi was charged with obscenity for displaying a work modelled on her vagina and for distributing data that could be used to print out a 3D copy of her genitals, reported the Asahi Shimbun newspaper.

Hitler’s Furies: The women who enabled genocide


A fascinating look at a rarely seen side of the Third Reich: The Nazi woman as enabler of and sometimes participant in the killing fields of the Eastern Front and the death camps.

While many are familiar with the story of Ilse Koch — wife of concentration camp commandant Karl-Otto Koch and collector of tattooed inmate skins — thousands of other German women accompanied troops to the Eastern Front and did their part in the lethal ethnic cleansing commands that followed close on the heels of advancing and retreating troops.

Here’s a fascinating talk by a woman who looked at their role in infamy, Via University of California Television:

Hitler’s Furies: Women of the Third Reich Holocaust Living History — The Library Channel

Program notes:

Award-winning historian Wendy Lower discusses the lives and experience of German women in the Nazi killing fields. Her study chillingly debunks the age-old myth of the German woman as mother and breeder, removed from the big world of politics and war. The women Lower labels “furies” humiliated their victims, plundered their goods, and often killed them, and like many of their male counterparts, they got away with murder. Lower is the John K. Roth professor of history at Claremont McKenna College and has published widely on the Shoah in Eastern Europe. She is presented here as part of the Holocaust Living History Workshop at UC San Diego. Recorded on 11/13/2014.

EnviroWatch: Climate, mines, water, fracking


And more. . .

We begin with the best climatic climactic ad yet, via RT:

‘Turn off the lights during sex’: German govt on web crusade to save climate

Out with boring public information leaflets and in with flashy TV ads. The German Ministry of Environment has come up with a series of commercials on the problems of climate change, featuring sex and zombies in the message.

The scene: A young girl arrives home late one night and is confronted with the awkward situation of finding her parents engaged in the act inside a brightly lit room. After uttering a meek, “Hi,” the teenager proceeds to switch off the lights in the room.

The lesson learned, as the female narrator says: “The world says thanks. 5 percent less energy consumption in German households makes one coal power plant redundant. Together it’s climate protection.”

And the video in question, with the text via Google tanslation:

Spotted: My parents

Program notes:

Some things do not want to see the “Light”

In such moments the ideal solution also happens to be the one reducing electricity consumption and costs. If every German household uses only five percent less electricity, seven terawatt hours ( TWh ) could be saved each year — as much current generated by a large coal-fired power plant, which consists of five power units .

From United Press International, the cuase itself:

2014 could be hottest year on record, says NOAA

  • Record high temperatures in October were recorded on land and sea

This October was the hottest October ever recorded globally, according to new data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

That month continued a trend, with 2014 on pace to become the hottest year ever on record, according to the federal agency. October marked the third consecutive month and fifth of the past six with a record high global temperature for its respective month. July was fourth highest.

NOAA said the ocean temperatures were also the warmest on record in October, up 1.12 degrees Fahrenheit over the 20th century average of 60.6 degrees. NOAA breaks down global temperatures into two categories — land and ocean — and averages both. The record high temperatures in October were recorded on land and sea.

From Homeland Security News Wire, climate in court:

Court: San Diego infrastructure, mass transportation plans fail to meet climate goals

Two lawsuits by environmental groups including the Sierra Club, the Cleveland National Forest Foundation, and the Center for Biological Diversity, against the San Diego County government and the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) could force the region to rethink how it plans to spend billions of dollars in the next few decades on infrastructure and mass transportation projects. On 29 October, an appellate court supported a Superior Court’s ruling that San Diego County’s climate action plan fails to set deadlines, quantifiable standards, and enforcement measures needed to lower emissions of greenhouse gases. The action plan, which addresses the issues of growth and climate change within the unincorporated areas of San Diego County, fails to meet requirements set by the California Environmental Quality Act. “It’s a big wake-up call for the San Diego region, which has continually ignored the science, ignored the policy and the laws,” said Jana Clark, a board member of the Cleveland National Forest Foundation.

Last week, the same appellate court supported a lower court’s rejection of SANDAG’s 2050 Regional Transportation Plan, which seeks to spend $214 billion on transportation projects over the next forty years. According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, California has issued directives for local agencies to reduce greenhouse emissions by 2050- when climate pollutants are expected to increase sharply- and to inform the public how it plans to do so. SANDAG’s plan violated state law by failing to fully account for, and take steps to decrease, greenhouse gases and harmful air pollution in its environmental review of the area’s long-range transportation plan. “We are upholding the right of the public and our public officials to be well-informed about the potential environmental consequences of their planning decisions,” the ruling said.

The Independent covers an ongoing outbreak:

Bird flu: 28,000 birds culled after another outbreak at a Dutch farm

  • Animals are set to be culled en masse at another Dutch farm after tests revealed birds there had been infected with avian flu.

28,000 poultry are being killed in the latest case of the infectious disease to hit the country.

The Dutch government ordered a cull at a farm near the town of Hekendorp in mid-November after the discovery of the disease there, with another case of infection discovered 15 miles away near the village Ter Aar last week.

A spokesperson for the country’s Ministry of Economic Affairs said in a statement that it had not yet determined whether the H5 virus that had been detected was the highly contagious H5N1 version or not.

From Al Jazeera America, Big Agra in court:

In GMO labeling fight, all eyes on Vermont

  • Industry groups sued Vermont over a GMO labeling law; case could set precedent for states mulling similar legislation

Food activists and the industry are looking to a court case between Vermont and a major food distribution association as a bellwether for the future of genetically modified foods.

In May, the state legislature voted to require food containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) to be labeled as such. If the law goes into effect in 2016, Vermont will become the first state to require such labeling. But first it will have to stand up in federal court: the Grocery Manufacturers Association, which is funded by a coalition of companies including Coca-Cola, Unilever, Starbucks and Monsanto, along with three other industry groups, sued the state shortly after the law passed.

Now, several other states with pending ballot initiatives and legislation that would similarly require GMO labeling are awaiting the district court’s decision. Arguments are tentatively scheduled for mid-December, according to Vermont’s attorney general.

Cameron’s fracking mania continues unabated, via the Independent:

Fracking firm’s plans to look for gas in North Yorkshire criticised by environmental groups

As one of Britain’s leading independent gas companies applies to frack in North Yorkshire, concerns have also been raised about what campaigners claim are flawed proposals to drill for gas in the nearby North York Moors National Park.

Gas firm Third Energy last week drew intense criticism from local campaigners as well as the local Conservative MP after announcing plans to hydraulically fracture – or “frack” – an existing well at Kirby Misperton in North Yorkshire.

Rasik Valand, Third Energy’s chief executive, believes there could be what he called “a significant new gas reservoir” in the region. His company is offering the local community £100,000 if it is permitted to frack the well, plus a percentage of royalties if commercial fracking goes ahead.

The company’s plans drew criticism from local MP Anne McIntosh, chair of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, who said she was given assurances last year that Third Energy “neither had the technology nor any intention of hydraulically fracking at depth anywhere in Ryedale”.

From the Ecologist, water woes in the North:

‘Acutely toxic’ mine waste threatens the death of Norway’s fjords

Two huge open pit mines in northern Norway are on the verge of approval, writes Tina Andersen Vågenes – even though they would dump hundreds of millions of tonnes of tailings in fjords where wild salmon spawn. Scientists are voicing serious concerns, and protests are growing, but government and mining companies appear determined to push the projects forward regardless.

In Scandinavia, the mining industry is looking for ways to expand business further north. Higher mineral prices have led to a surge in planned projects, many causing concern among environmentalists and locals.

Currently two large projects are under way in Norway, both using the controversial waste disposal method called submarine tailings disposal (STD).

The method is simple – mining tailings are finely ground, chemicals added, and the whole dumped under water. In most cases, this means at the bottom of a fjord or a lake.

STD is not commonly used in most countries. In fact, Norway is one of only five countries in the world that deploy it. The others are Turkey, Papua New-Guinea, Chile and Indonesia, nations with mostly poor environmental standards.

Many are now wondering why Norway is planning new projects using STD, when the country prides itself on its environmental standards and nature preservation.

And from the Guardian, water woes farther south:

Suez canal scheme ‘threatens ecosystem and human activity in Mediterranean’

  • Scientists say new channel will herald arrival of more invasive species, with potentially harmful impact on region as a whole

The continuing expansion of the Suez canal risks causing serious harm to marine lifeforms and economic activity in the Mediterranean sea, scientists are warning.

Egypt is building a second “lane” to the Suez canal, as well as widening the existing channel, in an “ominous” scheme scientists fear could allow greater numbers of non-indigenous species to enter the Mediterranean and endanger the native ecosystem.

“The enlargement of the canal will increase the number of invasions from the Red Sea resulting in a diverse range of harmful effects on the ecosystem structure and functioning of the whole Mediterranean sea, with implications to services it provides for humans,” Bella Galil, a marine biologist at Israel’s National Institute of Oceanography, told the Guardian.

Writing in the Biological Invasions academic journal, Galil and 17 colleagues accept that the expansion will go ahead despite their concerns, and acknowledge that the revenues from an enlarged canal are likely to bring Egypt a much needed economic boost.