Friday, September 19, 2014

Israel Fortifying Northern Border, Sierra Leone Braces For 3-Day Lockdown

Fear And Hope As Sierra Leone Braces For Lockdown

Sierra Leone's government says extreme measures are needed to try to contain the world's worst outbreak of Ebola on record but many fear it will bring more hardship to a nation that is already one of the poorest on earth.
But for three days, starting at midnight on Thursday, her stand will be abandoned during a nationwide lockdown aimed at helping Sierra Leone fight an outbreak of Ebola ravaging the country and the region.

Over 2,600 people have been killed across West Africa, around half the number of people infected. The World Health Organisation says the world must act fast to keep the number of cases in the tens of thousands.

Initially a plan to locate the ill, Sierra Leone's lockdown will now seek to make people aware of the risks of Ebola and what to do if a family member falls sick, the government says.

As about 30,000 volunteers train for their dawn-to-dusk information campaign, residents flocked to high-end supermarkets and, between downpours, street stalls to buy food and medicine.

Queues formed along streets as people stocked up on fuel. Banks, already operating at reduced hours to limit infections, overflowed as clients withdrew cash.

Some say a few days hardship is a price worth paying if it contributes to halting the march of Ebola across a nation only a decade into its recovery from an 11-year civil war that killed 50,000 people.

"It's better to stay at home for three days, even 21 days, than to lose thousands of people in a single day," said Freetown resident Mahawa Allieu. "It's very important, necessary and called for."

However, critics argue a public information campaign is not what is needed now, months into a battle against Ebola that most in Sierra Leone are by now aware of.

Barry Andrews, chief executive of Irish aid agency Goal, called the move "an ill-conceived exercise in futility".

A real-life horror story is playing out in Africa as Ebola spreads, and President Obama’s decision to send 3,000 troops to Liberia to combat the virus could very well put Americans at risk of contracting the deadly illness at home, some health experts say.
According to the World Health Organization, at least 4,985 people have contracted Ebola and at least 2,461 have died. Several doctors have fallen ill with Ebola, and two of them have died. New reports indicate a Doctors Without Borders staff member has contracted the virus in Liberia and will be evacuated to France for treatment.
“You can see that these doctors, who are highly trained people, got themselves infected,” said Dr. Lee Hieb, former president of theAssociation of American Physicians and Surgeons. “So sending troops into an area, if they’re dealing one-on-one with a patient, they’re not going to be able to protect themselves very well. It’s not easy to [prevent transmission], because you get tired and you get careless and you make some simple mistakes. All it takes is one virus particle.”
Dr. Hieb said quarantine measures should be taken to control the outbreak and prevent Ebola from coming to America.
“You don’t get Ebola from Europe,” she told WND. “You get Ebola from Africa. And it’s a really simple formula: Don’t let people fly to America if they’ve been to areas where there’s an outbreak. When there’s an outbreak, stop air [traffic] flow.”
“What African troops are doing is shooting people who cross borders or violate quarantine,” Orient told WND, reacting to news of the U.S. troop deployment. “Is that what we plan to support?”
Orient called the planned U.S. deployment a “dubious mission,” warning that the nightmarish scenario could bring Ebola to America.
“There is definitely a risk,” she said. “It seems irresponsible to send more people there when the ones already there are having trouble leaving. Probably anyone who has been exposed should be quarantined for 25 days since the last exposure.”
Orient echoed the concerns of Elaine Donelly, president of the Center for Military Readiness, who told WND, “I’m just appalled. Judging from this, the United States seems to have a very confused vision of what ‘national security’ means.”
“But whether 3,000 American troops should be sent into that area of the world to deal with that problem, I do not see the justification,” Donelly said. “Surely there are alternatives in the international health-care networks.”
Donnelly explained to WND her concern that the U.S. military is not designed to fight health wars.
“Our military people will show compassion in Liberia, as they always do, and they will do everything asked of them,” she said.
“Still, health wars are unhealthy for soldiers and all living things. Like oxymoronic ‘peace wars,’ such as the incursion into Bosnia, deployments such as this put our troops in causes having little impact on America’s national security,” she said.
American military families will be put at greater risk, Donnelly warned.
“Here we have a ‘health war’ that could cost our troops’ health.”

With the number of Ebola cases doubling every three weeks, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday proposed the Security Council to establish an emergency health mission to address the lethal threat.
"I have decided to establish a UN emergency health mission, combining the World Health Organization's strategic perspective with a very strong logistics and operational capability," theUN Secretary General announced.
Ban said that this international mission will be called the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response or UNMEER, and "will have five priorities: stopping the outbreak, treating the infected, ensuring essential services, preserving stability and preventing further outbreaks."

Ban said, "the outbreak is the largest the world has ever seen. The number of cases is doubling every three weeks. There will soon be more cases in Liberia alone than in the four-decade history of the disease."
The impact is more than medical, Ban said, adding that "inflation and food prices are rising. Transport and social services are being disrupted."
Ban on Thursday said "I welcome the resolution to be adopted today by the Security Council. Tomorrow, I will speak with the General Assembly."
Looking forward to next week's UN General Debate, Ban said "one week from today we will gather at the highest level to mobilize political will to meet this extraordinary challenge."

The Israel Defense Forces is fortifying positions along the border with Lebanon, according to a Lebanese news report.

It “cemented and fortified the military posts along the border with Lebanon facing the Adaisseh-Kfarkila road,” the Lebanese National News Agency reported, according to a translation by Lebanese news site Naharnet. “A crane placed cement blocks and walls on the makeshift military road separating the electronic fence and the groves of the Metulla settlement.”

The NNA asserted that the IDF was erecting the fortifications in order to conceal troop movements. It also reported that Israel had stationed tanks and armored personnel carriers along Shebaa Farms and the Golan Heights overlooking the road leading from Syria and Lebanon.

In July and August, a dozen rockets were fired from southern Lebanon into Israel in what Lebanese officials said was an act of solidarity with Gazans. In a coordinated effort to stop the sporadic rocket attacks, the Lebanese army, together with UNIFIL peacekeepers, increased border patrols and arrested several terrorists in connection with the attacks.
Israel regularly monitors movements between Syria and Lebanon and in February reportedly carried out a strike on a weapons shipment from Syria said to be headed to Hezbollah’s arsenals in southern Lebanon.

France announced Friday it had conducted its first airstrike in Iraq and had destroyed a logistics depot held by the Islamic State group.

The office of President Francois Hollande said Rafale fighter jets struck the depot in northeastern Iraq on Friday morning and the target was “entirely destroyed.”
“Other operations will follow in the coming days,” said Hollande’s office in a statement. It did not elaborate on the type of material at the depot or its exact location.

At a news conference a day earlier, Hollande said France had agreed to “soon” conduct airstrikes requested by Iraq to bolster its fight against IS fighters who have captured swaths of the country.

When you get past the details of the Scottish independence referendum Thursday, there is a broader story underway, one that is also playing out in other advanced nations.

The details of Scotland’s grievances are almost the diametrical opposite of those of, say, the Tea Party or Swedish right-wingers. They want more social welfare spending rather than less, and have a strongly pro-green, antinuclear environmental streak. (Scotland’s threatened secession is less the equivalent of Texas pulling out of the United States, in that sense, than of Massachusetts or Oregon doing the same.) But there are always people who have disagreements with the direction of policy in their nation; the whole point of a state is to have an apparatus that channels disparate preferences into one sound set of policy choices.

What distinguishes the current moment is that discontent with the way things have been going is so high as to test many people's tolerance for the governing institutions as they currently exist.

The details of the policy mistakes are different, as are the political movements that have arisen in protest. But together they are a reminder that no matter how entrenched our government institutions may seem, they rest on a bedrock assumption: that the leaders entrusted with power will deliver the goods.

Power is not a right; it is a responsibility. The choice that the Scots are making on Thursday is about whether the men and women who rule Britain messed things up so badly that they would rather go it alone. And so the results will ripple through world capitals from Athens to Washington: People don’t think the way things are going is good enough, and voters are getting angry enough to want to do something about it.

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