Browsing articles from "July, 2014"

Peace Corps Evacuates Hundreds Of Volunteers Amid Ebola Outbreak

Jul 31, 2014   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on Peace Corps Evacuates Hundreds Of Volunteers Amid Ebola Outbreak

Before the Ebola outbreak, Dr. Sheik Umar Khan focused on helping patients with other types of hemorrhagic fevers.

The largest recorded Ebola outbreak in history has led the U.S. Peace Corps to evacuate hundreds of volunteers from three affected West African countries, and a State Department official on Wednesday said two volunteers were under isolation after having contact with a person who later died of the virus.

Meanwhile, Liberia’s president ordered the nation’s schools to shut down and most civil servants to stay home as fears deepened over the virus that already has killed more than 670 people in West Africa.

The Peace Corps said it was evacuating 340 volunteers from Liberia as well as neighboring Guinea and Sierra Leone.

The State Department official said the two volunteers were not symptomatic and were under observation. The official was not authorized to discuss the cases for attribution, and declined to say where the volunteers were serving or when they were exposed.
Ebola has no vaccine and no specific treatment, with a fatality rate of at least 60 percent.

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who is skipping a summit of African leaders in Washington this week amid the crisis, also called for the closure of markets in an area near the borders with infected countries Guinea and Sierra Leone.

“My fellow Liberians, Ebola is real, Ebola is contagious, and Ebola kills,” she warned. “Denying that the disease exists is not doing your part, so keep yourselves and your loved ones safe.”

Fear and panic over the mounting death toll has prompted some rural communities to accuse foreign aid workers of bringing the deadly virus. Others have kept people with Ebola symptoms at home instead of bringing them to quarantine centers. In anger, one man recently set fire to part of the health ministry building in the Liberian capital, Monrovia, after his teenage brother reportedly died of Ebola.

Sirleaf said that security forces would enforce the new precautions taken a week after an American man of Liberian descent boarded a plane in Monrovia and flew to Nigeria, where authorities said he died of Ebola. The fact that he was able to board a plane and traveled through a major airport transit hub in Togo has heightened fears about Ebola’s possible spread in the region.

The airline involved, ASKY, has suspended its flights to both the capitals of Liberia and Sierra Leone, and said passengers departing from Guinea would be carefully screened.
Experts say the risk of travelers contracting Ebola is considered low because it requires direct contact with bodily fluids or secretions such as urine, blood, sweat or saliva. The virus can’t be spread like flu through casual contact or breathing in the same air.

Patients are contagious only once the disease has progressed to the point they show symptoms, according to the World Health Organization. The most vulnerable are health care workers and relatives who come in much closer contact with the sick.

Still, Liberia is among the poorest countries in the world, and the outbreak already has taxed the capacity of local health clinics and doctors, prompting concern for those who remain in the country.

Two U.S.-based missionary groups have ordered the evacuation of their non-essential personnel from Liberia after a doctor and a missionary both contracted Ebola.

SIM USA President Bruce Johnson announced Tuesday that his group and Samaritan’s Purse decided on the evacuation following an upsurge in the number of Ebola cases in Liberia. A Texas-trained doctor and a missionary from North Carolina have contracted the disease and are in isolation in Liberia.

Recommended Dose: The Best Dance Tracks Of July

Jul 31, 2014   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on Recommended Dose: The Best Dance Tracks Of July

Berlin DJ Cassy provided one of our favorite tracks this month.i i

hide captionBerlin DJ Cassy provided one of our favorite tracks this month.


Courtesy of the artist

Berlin DJ Cassy provided one of our favorite tracks this month.

Berlin DJ Cassy provided one of our favorite tracks this month.

Courtesy of the artist

Each month, we listen to hundreds of new electronic music tracks, test the standouts on loud speakers and highlight the best of the best in a 30-minute mix. And we’re particularly excited about what we heard during July — it was tough to narrow this list down to six songs.

You can stream this month’s mix here or through NPR Music’s SoundCloud account. If you’d rather just hear each song individually, check out the playlist below.

You can keep up with our favorite discoveries on Twitter by following @Sami_Yenigun and @spotieotis.

Episode 557: Doing Business Like A Refugee

Jul 31, 2014   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on Episode 557: Doing Business Like A Refugee

Mohammed Osman Ali, a refugee in Uganda, sorts through spare parts for his video game arcade business.i i

hide captionMohammed Osman Ali, a refugee in Uganda, sorts through spare parts for his video game arcade business.


Gregory Warner/NPR

Mohammed Osman Ali, a refugee in Uganda, sorts through spare parts for his video game arcade business.

Mohammed Osman Ali, a refugee in Uganda, sorts through spare parts for his video game arcade business.

Gregory Warner/NPR

In most parts of the world, refugees are not allowed to work. But Mohammed Osman Ali is a refugee in Uganda, and there, he legally runs a video game arcade and a variety store.

Today on the show, why most countries won’t let refugees work. And why Uganda is trying something different.

Music: K’naan’s “The Wall” and “Waiting Is A Drug.” Find us: Twitter/ Facebook/ Spotify. Download the PlanetMoney iPhone App.

Bankrupt California City May Turn To Taxing Pot

Jul 31, 2014   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on Bankrupt California City May Turn To Taxing Pot

Robert Calkin, the president of the Cannabis Career Institute, spoke at an exhibition called Hempcon held in San Bernardino, Calif., last yeari i

hide captionRobert Calkin, the president of the Cannabis Career Institute, spoke at an exhibition called Hempcon held in San Bernardino, Calif., last year


Courtesy of Robert Calkin/AP

Robert Calkin, the president of the Cannabis Career Institute, spoke at an exhibition called Hempcon held in San Bernardino, Calif., last year

Robert Calkin, the president of the Cannabis Career Institute, spoke at an exhibition called Hempcon held in San Bernardino, Calif., last year

Courtesy of Robert Calkin/AP

A U.N. report says the use and potency of cannabis is on the rise in the U.S.

Lots of people are making money off marijuana sales. Officials in San Bernardino, a Southern California city that filed for bankruptcy in 2012, are suggesting that it might as well profit too.

Officials are considering a proposal floated by City Attorney Gary Saenz to regulate and tax medical marijuana dispensaries.

Saenz — who was talking about stepping up efforts to close 18 illegal dispensaries in the city just last week — now calls eradication both “futile” and expensive.

Acceding to California policy allowing medical marijuana, he says, will move distribution off the black market. He notes that Palm Springs the only city in California’s Inland Empire that allows dispensaries, expects to collect $500,000 annually in taxes from marijuana sellers. With more than 200,000 residents, or four times Palm Springs’ population, San Bernadino might bring in more.

“The California Board of Equalization, which oversees the state’s sales tax, says once a city approves medical marijuana outlets, it can use the tax revenue any way it wants,” Reuters reports.

The city council is expected to hold a hearing on the matter next month.

“A year ago, I think perceptions were very different on this issue, but I think we’re starting to see the formation of at least some sort of consensus that we need to have some sort of regulation,” Councilman Henry Nickel told the San Bernardino Sun. “I think we’re reaching the tipping point.”

Israeli Bombing Ruins Gaza’s Only Power Plant

Jul 30, 2014   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on Israeli Bombing Ruins Gaza’s Only Power Plant

Smoke and fire rise from the explosion of an Israeli strike over Gaza City on Tuesdayi i

hide captionSmoke and fire rise from the explosion of an Israeli strike over Gaza City on Tuesday


Hatem Moussa/AP

Smoke and fire rise from the explosion of an Israeli strike over Gaza City on Tuesday

Smoke and fire rise from the explosion of an Israeli strike over Gaza City on Tuesday

Hatem Moussa/AP

Israel broadened its assault on Gaza on Tuesday, wrecking the region’s only power plant and killing more than 125 Palestinians.

Barrages “destroyed Hamas’s media offices, the home of a top leader and what Palestinians said was a devastating hit on the only electricity plant,” The New York Times reports.

The bombings came on a day when hope briefly arose about a new cease-fire. Both Israeli and Palestinian officials in the West Bank discussed the possibility.

But Hamas, which runs the Gaza Strip, rejected the idea.

“We don’t accept any condition of cease-fire,” Hamas military commander Mohammed Deif said on Hamas broadcast outlets. “There is no cease-fire without the stop of the aggression and the end of the siege.”

With Tuesday’s bombings, which the Guardian described as “the most relentless and widespread” of the three-week-old conflict, the Palestinian death toll has exceeded 1,200.

The shelling of the power plant, which Palestinian officials described as taking a devastating hit, will bring additional hardship. The lack of electricity will make existing problems with water and sewage far worse.

“We need at least one year to repair the power plant, the turbines, the fuel tanks and the control room,” Fathi Sheik Khalil of the Gaza energy authority told the Guardian. “Everything was burned.”

On All Things Considered, NPR’s Emily Harris described how one family in Gaza spent the Muslim holiday of Eid, which marks the end of Ramadan.

Some family members have been killed, others injured and nearly all displaced. “There are 53 people staying in this three-bedroom apartment,” Harris reported, “including, the mothers say, at least eight infants.”

On the diplomatic front, there was disagreement between the U.S. and Israel about what had been said in private conversations among top officials.

The White House dismissed as “totally false” a report on Israel’s Channel 1 that President Obama told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a telephone call Sunday that Israel must immediately end its military offensive in Gaza and was not in a position to choose which countries could mediate a cease-fire.

“We have seen reports of an alleged POTUS-Netanyahu transcript; neither reports nor alleged transcript bear any resemblance to reality,” tweeted the National Security Council’s press account.

For their part, Netanyahu’s aides denied Secretary of State John Kerry’s characterization of one of his many conversations with the Israeli prime minister. Kerry suggested Tuesday that Netanyahu had asked him to “try to get a humanitarian cease-fire,” but the prime minister’s staff said that the cease-fire idea was actually Kerry’s.

Jenny Lewis On World Cafe

Jul 30, 2014   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on Jenny Lewis On World Cafe

Jenny Lewis' new album, The Voyager, arrived on July 29.i i

hide captionJenny Lewis’ new album, The Voyager, arrived on July 29.


Autumn de Wilde/Courtesy of the artist

Jenny Lewis' new album, The Voyager, arrived on July 29.

Jenny Lewis’ new album, The Voyager, arrived on July 29.

Autumn de Wilde/Courtesy of the artist

Jenny Lewis’s new album, The Voyager, comes out today and we are lucky to have her as our guest playing live with her band.

From child actor to co-head of Rilo Kiley and thru some spectacular solo albums (Rabbit Fur Coat and Acid Tongue) plus working with Ben Gibbard in The Postal Service, we already know Jenny is a trooper. This weekend her story was chronicled in a profile in The New York Times Magazine.

As we will hear today, this album took her a while, as insomnia and the death of her father threw her for a loop. She started working with Beck on the song “Just One Of The Guys,” but it was Ryan Adams who brought forth the performances on The Voyager as producer.

The Hidden Costs Of Fighting Polio In Pakistan

Jul 30, 2014   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on The Hidden Costs Of Fighting Polio In Pakistan

During nationwide polio campaigns, hundreds of thousands of health workers go door to door, giving children two drops of the polio vaccine.i i

hide captionDuring nationwide polio campaigns, hundreds of thousands of health workers go door to door, giving children two drops of the polio vaccine.


Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

During nationwide polio campaigns, hundreds of thousands of health workers go door to door, giving children two drops of the polio vaccine.

During nationwide polio campaigns, hundreds of thousands of health workers go door to door, giving children two drops of the polio vaccine.

Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Pakistan is currently at the center of the global effort to eradicate polio. Although the country has reported only about a hundred cases this year, that’s more cases than in all other nations combined.

Eliminating the paralyzing disease is a major logistical operation in Pakistan. More than 200,000 vaccinators fan out across the country, several times a year, to inoculate millions of children. The government also deploys tens of thousands of armed security forces to guard the workers.

Security officials attend the funeral of police officials killed by bombs in Jamrud, Pakistan, March 1. The men were escorting a team of polio vaccinators when their vehicles were targeted.i i

hide captionSecurity officials attend the funeral of police officials killed by bombs in Jamrud, Pakistan, March 1. The men were escorting a team of polio vaccinators when their vehicles were targeted.


BIilawal Arbab/EPA/Landov

Security officials attend the funeral of police officials killed by bombs in Jamrud, Pakistan, March 1. The men were escorting a team of polio vaccinators when their vehicles were targeted.

Security officials attend the funeral of police officials killed by bombs in Jamrud, Pakistan, March 1. The men were escorting a team of polio vaccinators when their vehicles were targeted.

BIilawal Arbab/EPA/Landov

All this is happening while Pakistan is fighting against the Taliban — and that militant group continues to threaten polio vaccinators and parents who immunize their children.

The polio campaign is costing Pakistani lives, national pride and precious health resources. Some health leaders are starting to question whether the focus on polio is worth it.

“All the immunization workers have been redirected into the polio campaign, which has resulted in another disaster: Our routine immunization has gone down to as low as 30 percent or less,” says Dr. Raza Jamal, of the National Institute of Child Health in Karachi. “So that has resulted in epidemics of measles, diphtheria, cases of pertussis — which we had stopped seeing for a long time.”

Jamal supports the polio eradication effort. But, he says, it has become a national obsession and has taken a huge toll on Pakistan’s already overstretched health system.

Dr. Raza Jamal, of the National Institute of Child Health in Karachi, supports polio eradication. But, he says, the vaccination campaigns have taken away precious health resources.i i

hide captionDr. Raza Jamal, of the National Institute of Child Health in Karachi, supports polio eradication. But, he says, the vaccination campaigns have taken away precious health resources.


Jason Beaubien/NPR

Dr. Raza Jamal, of the National Institute of Child Health in Karachi, supports polio eradication. But, he says, the vaccination campaigns have taken away precious health resources.

Dr. Raza Jamal, of the National Institute of Child Health in Karachi, supports polio eradication. But, he says, the vaccination campaigns have taken away precious health resources.

Jason Beaubien/NPR

Polio is only one of many challenges facing the poor country. People lack access to jobs, sanitation, decent housing, clean water and electricity. Criminal gangs terrorize the slums of Karachi. Pakistan has a major terrorism problem.

Last month, militants in suicide vests fought a five-hour gunbattle with security forces at the Karachi airport, which left 38 people dead. On the same day, 22 Shiite pilgrims were attacked and killed near the Iranian border.

Amid all this, Western health officials have pushed polio to the front of the country’s national agenda.

Mazhar Nisar coordinates anti-polio campaigns for the Pakistani Ministry of Health, but even he thinks the constant drumbeat on polio can be a problem. “There is a serious fatigue factor in the parents,” he says. “There is a serious fatigue factor among the providers.”

A health worker gives a child the polio vaccine in Bannu, Pakistan, June 25. More than a quarter-million children in Taliban-controlled areas are likely to miss their immunizations.

Ado Ibrahim carries his son Aminu through a village in northern Nigeria. Aminu was paralyzed by polio in August.

Coordinating the mass immunization drives all across the country is a major logistical operation for the health department. And parents have started to question why the government is directing so much attention to this one disease, Nisar says.

“They [parents] said, ‘When we go to the hospital, we don’t get the medicines. We don’t get the proper treatment. My child is dying of diarrhea. My child has measles. And yet every four or six weeks, you come with the polio vaccine,’ ” he says.

But being one of the last nations on Earth with polio — even if it’s just a hundred cases — is an embarrassment for the government.

“There are people at the highest level [of the government] who’ve told me they start their day with polio, they end their day with polio, as if this is the only priority,” says Zulfiqar Bhutta, a professor of pediatrics at the Aga Khan University in Karachi. Bhutta has worked on polio for decades.

Polio eradication is very important, he says. But it’s unclear how long Pakistan can stay focused on mass immunization drives. “What we need to go and try to do is something a bit more holistic,” he says, “rather than trying to focus on a single intervention and a single program that bears very little relevance to the lives and livelihoods of people.”

Pakistan should work to improve its basic health services, Bhutta says, so kids get immunized for polio along with everything else; and sanitation should be upgraded so the polio virus can’t contaminate drinking water.

But projects like those take even more time — and more resources — than the current barrage of polio immunization campaigns.

Senate Approves $8 Billion Transportation Package

Jul 30, 2014   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on Senate Approves $8 Billion Transportation Package

Traffic passes a construction zone at the interchange of U.S. Highway 65 and Interstate 80, in Altoona, Iowai i

hide captionTraffic passes a construction zone at the interchange of U.S. Highway 65 and Interstate 80, in Altoona, Iowa


Charlie Neibergall/AP

Traffic passes a construction zone at the interchange of U.S. Highway 65 and Interstate 80, in Altoona, Iowa

Traffic passes a construction zone at the interchange of U.S. Highway 65 and Interstate 80, in Altoona, Iowa

Charlie Neibergall/AP

The Senate approved a bill Tuesday that would keep transportation dollars flowing until December. But it has not yet solved the problem of how to avoid any disruption in highway spending.

Senators rejected the financing approach favored by the House, which makes heavy use of an accounting practice known as pension smoothing. The House bill would allow companies to reduce payments to their retirement plans, which would temporarily increase their taxable income and thus federal revenues.

In order to reduce the reliance pension smoothing, the Senate shrank the total package to $8.1 billion. The House version, passed last week, approved nearly $11 billion in spending.

The federal highway trust fund has been running short for years. If Congress does not approve new legislation this week, the feds will have to reduce promised payments to states by Aug. 1.

“States have been warned to expect an average reduction of 28 percent in aid payments,” The Associated Press reports. “Without action from Congress, the balance in the fund is expected to drop to zero by late August or early September.”

House Speaker John Boehner had warned that the Senate shouldn’t mess with the House bill’s financing mechanisms. “I just want to make clear, if the Senate sends a highway bill over here with those provisions, we’re going to strip it out and put the House-passed provisions back in and send it back to the Senate,” he said.

But a bipartisan group of senators decided it would be better policy to come up with just enough money to keep the transportation programs on track until the week before Christmas.

That way, they reasoned, Congress will be forced after the fall elections to come up with a longer-term plan.

The House and Senate will now have to reconcile their versions — or hope that they can make the other chamber blink just ahead of a planned five-week recess.

“As I have said before, we won’t let the clock run out on transportation funding,” Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat and the Senate Finance Committee chair, said in a statement.

Judge Rules Against Sterling, Allows LA Clippers Sale To Proceed

Jul 29, 2014   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on Judge Rules Against Sterling, Allows LA Clippers Sale To Proceed

Shelly Sterling sits with her husband, Donald, during a 2010 Los Angeles Clippers game against the Detroit Pistons.i i

hide captionShelly Sterling sits with her husband, Donald, during a 2010 Los Angeles Clippers game against the Detroit Pistons.


Mark Terrill/AP

Shelly Sterling sits with her husband, Donald, during a 2010 Los Angeles Clippers game against the Detroit Pistons.

Shelly Sterling sits with her husband, Donald, during a 2010 Los Angeles Clippers game against the Detroit Pistons.

Mark Terrill/AP

A probate judge has ruled that Donald Sterling cannot block the sale of the Los Angeles Clippers.

Shelly Sterling, his estranged wife, had arranged in May to sell the NBA franchise to former Microsoft executive Steve Ballmer for a record $2 billion.

Donald Sterling sued to block the deal. Shelly Sterling wanted him removed as a trustee of the Sterling Family Trust, which owns the Clippers, on grounds of mental incapacitation.

“The doctors certified Donald as incapacitated,” argued Pierce O’Donnell, Shelly Sterling’s attorney. “That’s the end of the matter.”

Superior Court Judge Michael Levanas ruled in her favor on Monday.

The judge “said he found Rochelle Sterling to be a more credible witness than her husband, who acted erratically during several days of testimony, raising his voice at lawyers from both sides, and referring to his wife as ‘a pig,’ ” according to The New York Times.

Levanas said the sale can now proceed. Donald Sterling may not have much recourse at this point.

“The ruling included the extraordinary step of granting Shelly Sterling’s request for an order that allows the sale to be completed regardless of an appellate court’s intervention,” the Los Angeles Times reports.

Donald Sterling touched off a media firestorm in April when a recording surfaced of him making racist remarks. Last week at the trial, the Clippers interim CEO testified that Doc Rivers, the team coach and president, had said repeatedly he will most likely quit if Sterling retains ownership.

U.S. Accuses Russia Of Violating Nuclear Treaty

Jul 29, 2014   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on U.S. Accuses Russia Of Violating Nuclear Treaty

The Obama administration says Russia has violated a 1987 nuclear pact by testing a ground-launched cruise missile.

An administration official called the matter “very serious” and says the U.S. is “prepared to discuss this in a senior-level bilateral dialogue immediately.” The New York Times reports that President Obama notified Russian President Vladimir Putin of the finding in a letter Monday.

The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty bans the possession, production or flight-test of a ground-launched cruise missile with a range capability of 500 to 5,500 kilometers. Russia has reportedly been testing the missiles for years, beginning in 2008, but the matter has only recently been taken up by top U.S. officials. It comes as the relationship between the two nations has strained over the crisis in Ukraine.

The Times notes that the INF Treaty, signed by Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987, “helped seal the end of the Cold War and has been regarded as a cornerstone of American-Russian arms control efforts.”

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