Thursday, October 30, 2014

Questions, Answers About California's Ebola Policy

 (AP) — The California Department of Public Health has issued a 21-day quarantine order for people traveling from Ebola-stricken areas who have had contact with infected patients, but the restrictions will be determined by county health officers depending on the individual's level of risk exposure.
California health officials are trying to strike a balance between public safety and individual rights after New York, New Jersey and Maine received heavy criticism for imposing blanket quarantines, including a nurse who has shown no symptoms of Ebola. There are currently no reported or confirmed cases of Ebola in California.
Here's an explanation of what California's policy means for health workers traveling from affected parts of West Africa and how it compares to other states:
WHAT IS CALIFORNIA DOING TO STOP THE POTENTIAL SPREAD OF EBOLA?
Anyone who travels to California from an Ebola-affected area and had contact with a confirmed patient shall be quarantined for 21 days under an order issued Wednesday by Dr. Ron Chapman, the state's health officer. Failure to comply may result in civil detention and a misdemeanor punishment.
However, the state has defined quarantine loosely to include "observation and monitoring of the Ebola contact and/or limitations on his or her freedom of movement." Local county health officers will decide the specific requirements on a case-by-case basis.
Dr. Kristi L. Koenig, director of the Center for Disaster Medical Sciences at University of California at Irvine, said the state's broad definition of quarantine could be interpreted differently from county to county, meaning someone who arrives in San Francisco may be treated differently than a person with the same criteria who arrives in Los Angeles
"I have a concern about that because I think it will be confusing to the public and there could be unintended consequences," Koenig said. "This is a public health emergency of international concern. So we should have international standards."
IS ANYONE IN CALIFORNIA QUARANTINED?
Yes, sort of. San Mateo County health officials said Wednesday that Dr. Colin Bucks, a Stanford School of Medicine professor who recently returned from treating Ebola patients in Liberia, has been directed to stay away from work and away from close contact with others for 21 days. He is allowed limited activities outside his home, such as jogging alone.
Bucks, who has no symptoms, is taking his temperature twice a day and communicating with health officials. He is considered to have "some risk."
IS ANYONE ELSE BEING MONITORED IN CALIFORNIA?
Yes. State public health officials have been notified by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of 19 people who recently traveled to an Ebola-affected country. The state plans to update the number every Friday.
Riverside County's health department announced Tuesday that two people who recently returned from West Africa but said they did not have contact with Ebola patients were being monitored for 21 days by having them take their temperatures twice a day. They are considered low risk.
Orange County health officials are monitoring two recent travelers as well.
HOW DOES CALIFORNIA'S POLICY DIFFER FROM NEW YORK, NEW JERSEY AND MAINE?
California's quarantine order is more nuanced and flexible than the blanket quarantines in New Jersey, New York and Maine. The amount of restriction will be determined by county health officials on a case-by-case basis, based on the risk of exposure. That means some people could be isolated at home, while others deemed lower risk are free to move about while being monitored.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie announced mandatory 21-day quarantines last week for travelers who have come in close contact with Ebola patients. They issued the mandates after Dr. Craig Spencer, a Harlem resident, tested positive after returning home from treating Ebola patients in Guinea.
Those quarantines have been criticized by health experts and scientists who say health care decisions should be based on established science. They fear that the move will discourage other health care professionals from volunteering in West Africa.
WHO WON'T BE QUARANTINED IN CALIFORNIA?
A person who traveled to an Ebola-affected area as identified by the CDC but did not come into contact with a person with Ebola will not be quarantined.
---------Judy Lin

Read more here: http://www.thestate.com/2014/10/30/3779286/questions-answers-about-californias.html#storylink=cpy

Syrian Official Slams Turkey Aggression,

Bouthaina Shaaban, Syrian President Bashar Assad's political adviser, speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in Damascus, Syria, Thursday, Oct. 30, 2014.


DAMASCUS, SYRIA (AP) — Syrian President Bashar Assad's political adviser accused Turkey on Thursday of committing "aggression" against the country by allowing rebels to cross into the Syrian Kurdish border town of Kobani to battle the Islamic State group.
In an interview with The Associated Press in Damascus, Bouthaina Shaaban said the move was intended for Turkey to expand its influence in Syria by sending in anti-Assad fighters. "I see that Turkey is continuing in its role of aggression against Syria and its very dangerous role in the region," Shaaban said.
The remarks came a day after Turkey allowed 50 armed Free Syrian Army members to cross into embattled Kobani in a push to help Kurdish fighters turn the tide against militants of the Islamic State group besieging the town.
The FSA is a very loose coalition of rebels groups fighting to topple Assad. The group's political leadership is based in Turkey, where fighters often seek respite from the fighting. There are various factions within the group whose ideologies are constantly shifting, but generally range from mainstream moderates to deeply conservative Muslims.
Turkey is also allowing some 150 Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga fighters into Kobani, where they are expected by the end of the day. A first group of ten fighters entered the town Thursday. Shaaban suggested Turkey was trying to revive the influence it once enjoyed as the dominant power of the 600-year-old Ottoman Empire that collapsed early last century.
"It's very dangerous role in the region is motivated by their Ottoman ambition. (It) does not really target saving the Kurds," she said. Shaaban's comments suggested the deep bitterness between the once-friendly neighbors that they could not even see eye-to-eye on a policy for fighting militants of the Islamic State group, which both Syria and Turkey see as a problem.
Syria's government for years had characterized the rebellion against Assad as a problem of fighting terrorism, a point they made repeatedly in Geneva where two international conferences were held this year to try and resolve the crisis.
"It was the Syrian government, who in January and February 2014 called on the international (community) to fight terror inside and outside Syria, so that we reach stability and security," Shaaban said.
Critics say the issue of terrorism only emerged years after the crisis began, and that the Syrian government has refused to make any serious political reforms that might have addressed the people's demands.
The uprising began in March 2011 as largely peaceful demonstrations against Assad's rule, but plunged into armed rebellion after the government violently cracked down on protests. Since then, regional governments and the West have helped arm and train rebels. Iran and Russia have chiefly helped Assad's government.
Hard-line Islamic militants, including from al-Qaida and the extremist Islamic State group have also entered the messy, layered conflict with regional and international undertones. Shaaban described the Kurds as fighting terrorism, saying the Islamic State was "part of the terrorism that we warned against for years now."
The adviser said the Syrian government still welcomed a negotiated solution to the conflict, but said so far, there were no political initiatives being discussed.
The remarks came a day after Turkey allowed 50 armed Free Syrian Army members to cross into embattled Kobani in a push to help Kurdish fighters turn the tide against militants of the Islamic State group besieging the town.
The FSA is a very loose coalition of rebels groups fighting to topple Assad. The group's political leadership is based in Turkey, where fighters often seek respite from the fighting. There are various factions within the group whose ideologies are constantly shifting, but generally range from mainstream moderates to deeply conservative Muslims.
Turkey is also allowing some 150 Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga fighters into Kobani, where they are expected by the end of the day. A first group of ten fighters entered the town Thursday. Shaaban suggested Turkey was trying to revive the influence it once enjoyed as the dominant power of the 600-year-old Ottoman Empire that collapsed early last century.
"It's very dangerous role in the region is motivated by their Ottoman ambition. (It) does not really target saving the Kurds," she said. Shaaban's comments suggested the deep bitterness between the once-friendly neighbors that they could not even see eye-to-eye on a policy for fighting militants of the Islamic State group, which both Syria and Turkey see as a problem.
Syria's government for years had characterized the rebellion against Assad as a problem of fighting terrorism, a point they made repeatedly in Geneva where two international conferences were held this year to try and resolve the crisis.
"It was the Syrian government, who in January and February 2014 called on the international (community) to fight terror inside and outside Syria, so that we reach stability and security," Shaaban said.
Critics say the issue of terrorism only emerged years after the crisis began, and that the Syrian government has refused to make any serious political reforms that might have addressed the people's demands.
The uprising began in March 2011 as largely peaceful demonstrations against Assad's rule, but plunged into armed rebellion after the government violently cracked down on protests. Since then, regional governments and the West have helped arm and train rebels. Iran and Russia have chiefly helped Assad's government.
Hard-line Islamic militants, including from al-Qaida and the extremist Islamic State group have also entered the messy, layered conflict with regional and international undertones. Shaaban described the Kurds as fighting terrorism, saying the Islamic State was "part of the terrorism that we warned against for years now."
The adviser said the Syrian government still welcomed a negotiated solution to the conflict, but said so far, there were no political initiatives being discussed.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Funding To Tame An Ebola An Ebola Outbreak Has Fallen Short

Workers from BioRecoveryCorp carry equipment from the apartment building of Ebola patient Dr. Craig Spencer in New York. Even small clusters of Ebola cases could overwhelm parts of US medical care system, according to an Associated Press review of readiness at hospitals and other components of the emergency medical network.


(ASSOCIATED PRESS) -- The nation's preparedness effort to fight outbreaks of Ebola and other infectious diseases has been under-funded and lacking in political will and commitment.
"We don't really have a pharmaceutical response for Ebola," said retired Air Force Col. Randall Larsen, the former executive director of the Congressional Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction. "But could you imagine if there were 20,000 sick people in 10 cities and we did not have a pharmaceutical response? We would be completely overwhelmed."
Emergency preparedness programs ramped up significantly in the U.S. after the Sept. 11 attacks and the 2001 anthrax scare, said Dr. Gerald Parker, a former principal deputy assistant secretary in the U.S. Health and Human Services preparedness office. Those efforts included research and development of vaccines and anti-viral drugs.
"It was recognized that there would be a dual benefit from research on vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics to counter bioterror threats and emerging infectious diseases," said Parker, now a vice president at Texas A&M Health Science Center.
But a combination of budgetary constraints and politics has delayed many of those plans. Larsen said the setbacks are partly the result of an inefficient, fragmented federal system, which leaves no single agency in charge.
Both the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations had a senior position in the White House to lead response efforts to biological attacks and natural pandemics. The Obama administration eliminated the position.
President Barack Obama appointed Democratic operative Ron Klain as Ebola response coordinator on Oct. 17. But there are currently about two dozen presidentially appointed officials who have some emergency response responsibility for infectious disease outbreaks, Larsen said.
Budget cuts also have slowed progress at the local level. Since 2002, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has given states and territories more than $10 billion to help public health care systems ramp up when faced with a major disease outbreak. The CDC program has been cut more than 30 percent since reaching $897 million in fiscal year 2007, which led to thousands of layoffs by state and local health departments, according to the National Association of County and City Health Officials.
All 50 states and several major cities receive additional annual money through HHS's Hospital Preparedness Program, which helps private hospitals develop plans to better handle surging emergency room volume. The program has handed out a total of $5 billion since 2002, but annual funding has fallen by about 50 percent since it peaked in 2003 at $515 million as Congress lost enthusiasm for funding biodefense.
Over that same period, state-level budget cuts and the congressional sequester have forced many states to eliminate emergency preparedness positions. "I do believe we are lot more prepared than we were a decade ago, but we still have work to do," Parker said.
In an interview Wednesday with the Associated Press, Dr. Nicole Lurie, the HHS assistant secretary for preparedness and response, acknowledged that funding limitations had contributed to some of the delay in vaccine development.
In the meantime, a flurry of Ebola-related work is further straining resources, even when such efforts turn out to be false alarms — or worse, based on rumor. Members of West Virginia's Kanawha-Charleston Health Department were recently called to Yeager Airport to investigate four passengers on a plane from Atlanta — three who started their journey in Dallas, one who started out in Houston. "Someone on the plane overheard a conversation that a passenger or passengers were coming from a Dallas hospital. No one in the meeting had any idea if these people were ill," according to a summary report.
The four passengers were isolated, interviewed and subjected to a complete screening evaluation by staff equipped with gloves, respirator and protective gowns. Other staffers collected contact information from all other passengers.
It was determined that none of the four from Texas met any CDC Ebola travel criteria, and were not symptomatic. All passengers and crew were cleared to depart the airport. The incident cost taxpayers more than $2,350 in staff time — 60 man-hours, according to records.
"That's a real drain on the system every time these things happen," said Dr. Rahul Gupta, the health department's executive director. "If you have to spend that kind of money three or four times a week, it builds up."
AP national investigative reporters Garance Burke, Jeff Donn and David B. Caruso also contributed to this story.
The AP National Investigative Team can be reached at investigate@ap.org

Hancock Shares Life Lessons In New Memoir

"Possibilites," a memoir of Herbie Hancock. In the book, written with Lisa Dickey, he describes his constantly evolving career: as a child prodigy playing classical musical, a sideman in Davis' legendary mid-1960s quintet, and as a bandleader who went from far-out jazz-fusion with his Mwandishi band, to funk with the Headhunters, to hip-hop on the album “Future Shock” and beyond.


NEW YORK (AP) — Herbie Hancock doesn't begin or end his newly published memoir "Possibilities" by recalling any of the many highlights in his 50-plus-year career such as receiving the 2008 Album of the Year Grammy Award for "River: The Joni Letters."
Instead, the 74-year-old pianist bookends his life story by recalling a concert with Miles Davis' quintet nearly 50 years ago in Stockholm, Sweden, when he played what he thought was a wrong chord. The trumpeter quickly played some notes that made the chord sound right and unleashed a solo that took the song in a new direction.
That night the young pianist learned an important lesson. "We all have a natural human tendency to take the safe route — to do the thing we know will work — rather than taking a chance," Hancock wrote. "But that's the antithesis of jazz, which is all about being in the present ... It's about trusting yourself to respond on the fly. If you can allow yourself to do that, you never stop exploring, you never stop learning, in music or life."
In "Possibilities," written with Lisa Dickey, Hancock describes his constantly evolving career: as a child prodigy playing classical musical, a sideman in Davis' legendary mid-1960s quintet, and as a bandleader who went from far-out jazz-fusion with his Mwandishi band, to funk with the Headhunters, to hip-hop on the album "Future Shock" and beyond.
Hancock reveals for the first time in the book his crack cocaine addiction in the late '90s. He credits his family and his Buddhist faith with helping him overcome "the biggest obstacle I ever faced."
Hancock spoke recently to The Associated Press by telephone from his Los Angeles home. Associated Press: What message are you trying to convey in "Possibilities"? Hancock: The outlook toward having a life that's open to possibilities has worked for me even during my darkest hours. The reason that I write about my drug addiction is because I realized that I could possibly turn those dark days into something positive for others — to show that if I was able to overcome that, you can do it too. ... You have the power to create a life that is constantly moving forward and develop the courage to fight the daily battles against the negative part of yourself.
AP: In the book you describe Miles Davis as your "musical mentor." How did he inspire you? Hancock: What I loved was that Miles told us that he paid us to work on things — not to just perfect something in our hotel room and play that just to get applause from the audience. He wanted us to constantly work on new things. He stimulated creativity. He could sense when we had gotten to some point where we had to break the rules in order to go outside the box.
AP: Another major influence cited in the book is Buddhism, which you began practicing in 1972. How has Buddhism influenced your approach to music and life? Hancock: One of the most important realizations I had through practicing Buddhism is that the core of my life is not being a musician, it's being a human being. Being a musician is one of the aspects of my life. I'm also a father, husband and a citizen. ... Coming from the perspective of me being a human being first is what opened up for me an exciting perspective of using music to show the great value of the diversity of cultures that exist in the world and how to incorporate different styles of music, combining forces to create something none of us could create alone.
AP: When you formed the Headhunters band in 1973, jazz purists accused you of selling out. What motivated you to create Headhunters? Hancock: When Sly Stone did "Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)" that became one of my favorites. Even though I had this avant-garde band, Mwandishi, I was listening to James Brown and Sly Stone. I was brought up on the South Side of Chicago, which is a blues town. I heard Muddy Waters when I was a kid. For me to do a record like "Headhunters" is going back to my roots. I was tired of doing music that was untethered. I had this inner need at that point to do something that was earthier. I was taking a risk because I might not get a new audience and might alienate the one I already had, but I knew I had to be true to myself.
Online:
www.herbiehancock.com

Viral Video Documents New York Street Harassment

The pervasiveness of street harassment, Roberts had dozens of catcalls launched at her by men she passed on the street during the course of a single day in New York City. Their verbal attacks were clandestinely recorded by the project’s editor as he walked in front of her.


NEW YORK (AP) — A video recording the comments a woman hears as she walks around the nation's biggest city is a testament to the pervasiveness of street harassment women face, its creators said Wednesday.
The comments come continuously as the woman walks through the streets of Manhattan — "What's up, Beautiful?" and "Smile!" — and there's even a stretch when a man just silently walks right next to her for several minutes.
The video, shot over 10 hours one day in neighborhoods all over the borough and edited down to a 2-minute final product, has set off a storm of outrage on its way to more than 10 million views since it was released online Tuesday.
"This is having a very serious impact on the way we live our lives," said Emily May, executive director of Hollaback!, the anti-street harassment organization that put out the video. The footage, which was shot and edited by Rob Bliss, was captured by a camera Bliss had in his backpack as he walked several feet of front of actress Shoshana Roberts, who was dressed in jeans and a T-shirt and walked silently along.
At no point did Roberts make eye contact with any of the men she passed or talk to any of them. That didn't stop the comments from coming. When she didn't respond, one man told her, "Somebody's acknowledging you for being beautiful. You should say thank you more!"
Roberts said the number of comments the day the video was shot was nothing out of the ordinary for her. "The frequency is something alarming," she said. Martha Sauder, walking on a Manhattan street on Wednesday, agreed that street harassment is a problem and said it happens to her frequently.
"It's inappropriate. It's like an invasion of your space," she said. "I'd like it to stop." But the video also has faced some online criticisms, among them that the men shown all seem to be minorities. Bliss and Roberts emphasized that the comments came from all racial groups, and Bliss said some interactions that were filmed couldn't be used for reasons like the audio was disrupted by passing sirens.
"My experience, what we documented, it was from everybody," Roberts said. Another criticism was that some men's comments seemed innocuous: "Good morning," ''Have a nice day." Some men could have been "genuinely being nice," said Gerard Burke, a Brooklyn resident who readily acknowledged street harassment exists and has seen it happen to women in his family. He said he thought the video shed light on a bigger problem, "but some people just genuinely want to say hello."
That's the problem with street harassment, May said, because when there's a fear that a simple good morning could escalate into sexual comments or actions, there's a reluctance to engage at all.
Follow Deepti Hajela at http://www.twitter.com/dhajela

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Calif AG: 18.5 Million Residents' Info Exposed

California Attorney General Kamala Harris speaks during a general session at the California Democrats State Convention in Los Angeles. The number of Californians whose personal data was hacked last year jumped sixfold to 18.5 million accounts and as many as one-third of those people will become victims of fraud, Harris says in a new report released Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2014, on data breaches in the nation's biggest state.


LAGUNA BEACH, CALIF. (AP) — Personal information about more than 18.5 million Californians was hacked, stolen or otherwise exposed last year and as many as one-third of those people will become victims of fraud, California Attorney General Kamala Harris said Tuesday in a new report on data breaches in the nation's biggest state.

Retailers, banks, health care providers and other organizations reported 167 different breaches in the state during 2013. That's six times more than the 2.5 million accounts hacked in 131 breaches in 2012, and represents nearly half of the state's 38 million residents. The alarming increase in malicious hacking and accidental leaks due to poor information security was mainly due to breaches at Target stores and Living Social, an online marketplace. Even without those two incidents, the number of customer accounts exposed by hacking, lost and stolen hard drives and accidental data leaks, jumped 35 percent last year.

As many as one third of people whose information is exposed in a data breach will subsequently suffer some kind of fraud, Harris adds in the report, citing estimates by Javelin Strategy and Research, a California firm that tracks financial industry trends.

More than half of the breaches reported in California involved malicious attempts by hackers or cyber-criminals who were determined to steal customer data, according to the report, which said "trans-national criminal organizations" appear to be responsible in many cases.

"Increasingly, highly sophisticated criminal organizations and state-sponsored entities — located as far away as Russia, China and Eastern Europe — are responsible for breaches," Harris said. The report cites one federal prosecution of an overseas hacker group. It doesn't provide any new details on a multi-state investigation, announced earlier this year, in which officials from California and elsewhere said they were looking into Target Corp.'s response to its breach.

State law requires businesses to notify consumers when their data is exposed in a breach affecting more than 500 accounts. They also must file a report with Harris's office. While there is no similar requirement at the federal level, the figures from California may provide insight into broader trends nationwide.

Retailers were the largest category of businesses that were hacked, followed by financial institutions and then health care providers. Health care organizations were more likely to report the loss or theft of laptop computers or other electronic storage devices containing patient files. What was taken? Social security numbers were exposed in nearly half of the breaches; 38 percent of breaches involved account information for credit or debit cards.

Criminals can use both to commit financial fraud: The average amount of fraud linked to a stolen social security number is $2,330 and the average for a credit card is $1,251, according to estimates that the attorney general attributes to Javelin.

A new state law that goes into effect next year will require companies to offer at least one year of free theft-prevention assistance, such as credit monitoring, to consumers affected by data breaches. While many companies already do this, the report says tha

Harris is recommending additional changes, including legislation that sets stricter notification requirements and provides financial aid to help small businesses adopt data safeguards. She also urges companies to use stronger encryption and other protective methods, although she noted that a recent legislative effort to require encryption was unsuccessful.

Harris also is urging companies to notify consumers about data breaches more promptly and to make their notices easier to understand, with less legal jargon. She notes that the purpose of such notices "is undercut if the recipients cannot understand them."

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Brazil Votes For Next Leader After Bitter Campaign

Aecio Neves, presidential candidate of the Brazilian Social Democracy Party and his wife Leticia Weber, are surrounded by supporters and journalists as they leave a polling station after voting in the presidential runoff election, in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, Sunday, Oct. 26, 2014. Brazilian voters decide Sunday who will next lead the world's fifth-largest country, the left-leaning incumbent Dilma Rousseff or center-right rival Neves.


RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL (AP) — President Dilma Rousseff is counting on Brazilians' gratefulness for a decade of progress to overcome concerns about a sluggish economy as the leftist leader seeks re-election on Sunday after a bitter, unpredictable campaign.

Rousseff held a slight lead in one major poll over her center-right opponent, Aecio Neves, but the two were deadlocked in another. The choice between Rousseff and Neves has split Brazilians into two camps — those who think only the president will continue to protect the poor and advance social inclusion versus those who are certain that only the contender's market-friendly economic policies can see Brazil return to solid growth.

The Workers' Party's 12 years in power have seen a profound transformation in Brazil, as it expanded social welfare programs to help lift millions of people from poverty and into the middle class. But four straight years of weak economic growth under Rousseff, with an economy that's now in a technical recession, has some worried those gains are under threat.

"Brazilians want it all. They are worried about the economy being sluggish and stagnant but they want to preserve social gains that have been made," said Michael Shifter, president of the Washington-based Inter-American Dialogue. "The question is which candidate is best equipped to deliver both of those."

Rousseff and Neves have fought bitterly to convince voters that they can deliver on both growth and social advances. This year's campaign is widely considered the most acrimonious since Brazil's return to democracy in 1985, a battle between the only two parties to have held the presidency since 1995.

Neves has hammered at Rousseff over a widening kickback scandal at state-run oil company Petrobras, with an informant telling investigators that the Workers' Party directly benefited from the scheme. Rousseff has rejected those allegations and told Brazilians that a vote for Neves would be support for returning Brazil to times of intense economic turbulence, hyperinflation and high unemployment, which the nation encountered when the Social Democrats last held power.

"We've worked so hard to better the lives of the people, and we won't let anything in this world, not even in this crisis nor all the pessimism, take away what they've conquered," Rousseff said before voting in southern Brazil.

After he voted in his hometown in Minas Gerais state, Neves exuded confidence and said he's ready to lead all Brazilians, rich or poor. "I'm in a much better position than her," he said of his opponent. "We'll show that we'll maintain the social programs, that we'll make good on all our promises. If I win the election, my first big mission will be to unify the country."

In Rio de Janeiro, 43-year-old lifeguard Marcelo Barbosa dos Santos voted in the Botafogo neighborhood and said he's been a Rousseff backer from the beginning. "Many things changed for the better during Dilma's administration," he said. "The poor have seen our lives improved and we want that to continue."

But Paula Canongia, a 34-year-old hotel owner, said she voted for Neves because of "the current state of our country." "He's not an ideal candidate, far from it ... but we desperately need change and hopefully he can provide that," she said.

Polls opened at 8 a.m. local (6 a.m. EDT; 10 a.m. GMT). Voting stations in far western Brazil close at 8 p.m. local time (6 p.m. EDT; 10 p.m. GMT), and with the nation's all-electronic voting system, a final result was expected within a few hours.

Officials from Brazil's top electoral court said voting went smoothly through late afternoon. However, there was a shooting at a polling location in the northeastern state of Rio Grande do Norte, when a man was shot and killed inside a school where ballots were cast. Police said it appeared to be gang-related.

Associated Press writers Jenny Barchfield in Rio de Janeiro and Adriana Gomez in Sao Paulo contributed to this report.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Troy Surrenders To Mormon Country Youths

Oh what a game
You like the Trojans?
Yes, I live down the street
Trojans got to win
Yes, they have regained the lead
Against the Mormon Country Youths
Touchdown with 17 seconds
On the clock;
Mormon Country Youths now leads 23-21
Against the Trojans
Call reversed
Trojans 21-Mormon Country Youths 17
10 seconds on the clock;
Touchdown
Mormon Country on fire
Jubilation all over
Another one bites the dust
A Troy fall

Tunisians Skeptical On Eve Of Historic Election

Tunisian soldiers celebrate at the end of a successful raid against gunmen in the Oued Ellil suburb of Tunis, Tunisia, Friday, Oct. 24, 2014


TUNIS, TUNISIA (AP) — In a raucous cafe in a Tunis slum, men talked in loud voices and paid little attention to the politicians debating on the television mounted on the wall. Qais Jebali swiftly made espressos behind the bar and explained why no one in the gritty neighborhood of Tadamon cared about the upcoming elections.
"We've had five governments since 2011 and nothing has changed on the ground," he said, arranging the cups of strong black coffee on a tray with a bowl of sugar. "The poor people don't trust the government because they are marginalized, harassed by police and don't have money to pay bribes."
Outside, members of the National Guard in bullet-proof vests and carrying assault rifles waved cars through a dilapidated traffic circle. Security was heightened because a standoff with suspected militants was taking place just a few kilometers away.
On Sunday, Tunisians will vote for their first five-year parliament since they overthrew dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, marking the end of the democratic transition that they alone among the pro-democracy Arab Spring uprisings have managed to achieve. Now, many Tunisians are expressing disillusionment over democracy.
They say it has not brought prosperity and seems largely to involve squabbling politicians and attacks by Islamic militants, raising fears that many may not turn out to vote in a country that has been described as the best chance for democracy in the Arab world.
"There is a depression after these three years of seeing rulers lying, not keeping their word, not doing or not even trying to do what they promised to do, and especially, in the midst of a dire economic situation," said Chawki Gaddes, a political analyst at Tunis University.
In 2011, the moderate Islamist Ennahda Party dominated elections and formed a coalition government with two secular parties. Over the next two years, the country was buffeted by punishing inflation, attacks by radical Islamists, assassinations and the daily spectacle of squabbling politicians in a country accustomed to a half century of one-party rule.
As the government and opposition deadlocked amid the rising political acrimony — and against the backdrop of a military coup against the Islamist government in nearby Egypt — the Islamist-led government stepped down at the end of 2013 in favor of new cabinet of technocrats.
Polling from the Pew Research center in Tunisia has seen support for democracy as the best form of government drop from 63 percent in 2012 to 48 percent, while the demand for a strong leader rose from 37 percent to 59 percent.
The disaffection is particularly strong among young people, the group that so spectacularly took to the streets to fight Ben Ali's riot police and force him out of power three years ago. In the neighborhoods like Tadamon, it's difficult to find any young people registered to vote. According to Mouheb Garoui of the election monitoring group I Watch, some 60 percent are undecided just days before the election.
"There were so many promises in 2011 and now the same promises are being made in 2014," he said. "There is discontent and apathy among youth." The Islamist-led government managed to lay down many of building blocks of a new political system and, together with the opposition, write a constitution described as one of the most progressive in the region. Yet the turmoil and deadlock kept away foreign aid, tourism and investment.
"The question of the economy was neglected in the three years of the revolution — it was years of political wrangling and political transition," Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa, the interim prime minister that succeeded the Islamist government, told The Associated Press. He says his administration, which succeeded the Islamist government, has begun the necessary economic reforms to stabilize the country. Under his watch, foreign aid has flowed back to the country.
In the past year, security forces have also carried out a string of attacks to dismantle suspected militant cells, most recently on Friday when a counterterrorism operation in the suburbs resulted in the deaths of six alleged militants — five of them gun-toting women, according to police.
The party most hoping to capitalize on voters' disaffection is Nida Tunis (Tunisia's Call) run by charismatic — albeit 87-year-old — politician Beji Caid Essebsi, who is clearly trying to evoke the good old days of an educated, modern Tunisia without the dictatorship.
Formed after the revolution, the party brings together trade unionists, businessmen and more than a few politicians from Ben Ali's time that are united by little more than opposition to the Islamists. The main message of their campaign has been that their party represents progress in the face of what they call the reactionary policies of Ennahda.
"We needed a party to bring back the middle class that was pushed to the side by the aggression of the Islamists and their beliefs," said Mustapha Ben Ahmed, a member of the party's executive bureau. "This historical bloc can restore the prestige of the state."
The party is probably the only one that can compete with Ennahda's impressive organization around the country and is running equal in polls. Wwith the anti-Islamist vote divided among many parties all promising jobs and stability, Ennahda likely will have to be part of any future coalition — a possibility Ben Ahmed fervently condemned as an "unnatural alliance."
The leader of Ennahda, however, has said his party is ready to make a coalition with whomever else the voters choose, though Nida Tunis would not be his first choice. Rachid Ghannouchi told AP that the lesson he has learned from the party's first experience in power was the need for an even broader-based coalition to carry out the difficult reforms need to get the country on track.
"Before when we came to power we were just activists and not statesmen but today we have both activists and statesmen," he said. "We have gained experience and become more realistic with a better understanding of the problems of the people."
At a massive Ennahda rally in the heart of downtown on the iconic Bourguiba Avenue on the eve of the election, thousands cheered and waved flags, showing none of the flagging enthusiasm for politics found elsewhere.
For supporters of the party, any past missteps are made up for by the belief that the Islamists have their best interests at heart. "They were learning," said Kamal Ali as he drove his car through downtown. "Do children on the first day of school already know how to read and write?"
He gestured at the still damaged husk of the old ruling party headquarters nearby. "The others they knew how to do politics, but they also knew how to steal — morals is the most important thing."
Associated Press writers Bouazza ben Bouazza and Sam Kimball contributed to this report.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Newly Released Dallas Nurse To Meet With Obama

Patient Nina Pham is hugged by Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases outside of National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Md., Friday, Oct. 24, 2014.


BETHESDA, Md. (AP) — A nurse who caught Ebola while caring for the patient diagnosed in Dallas was released from a hospital Friday, free of the virus, and was to meet later in the day with President Barack Obama at the White House.
Nurse Nina Pham said she felt "fortunate and blessed to be standing here today," as she left the National Institutes of Health's hospital outside Washington. She thanked her health care team in Dallas and at the NIH and singled out fellow Ebola survivor Dr. Kent Brantly, who recovered after becoming infected in Liberia, for donating plasma containing Ebola-fighting antibodies as part of her care.
"Although I no longer have Ebola, I know it may be a while before I have my strength back," Pham, 26, said at a news conference. Doctors have cleared her to return home to Texas. After that, the White House announced Obama would meet with Pham in the Oval Office.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, infectious disease chief at the NIH, gave Pham a hug and told reporters that five consecutive tests showed no virus left in her blood. Five tests is way beyond the norm, he stressed, but his team did extra testing because the NIH is a research hospital.
"She is cured of Ebola, let's get that clear," Fauci said. Pham arrived last week at the NIH Clinical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. She had been flown there from Texas Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas.
Pham is one of two nurses in Dallas who became infected with Ebola while treating Thomas Eric Duncan, who died of the virus Oct. 8. The second nurse, Amber Vinson, is being treated at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, which on Friday issued a statement saying she "is making good progress" and that tests no longer detect virus in her blood. But Emory said it had no discharge date for Vinson yet, as she continues to receive supportive care.

After 1st Ebola Case In NY, 3 Others Quarantined

Media gather outside the home of Craig Spencer, a Doctors Without Borders physician who recently returned to the city after treating Ebola patients in West Africa, Thursday, Oct. 23, 2014, in New York.


NEW YORK (AP) — A doctor who became New York City's first Ebola patient was praised for getting treatment immediately upon showing symptoms, and health officials stressed that the nation's most populous city need not fear his wide-ranging travel in the days before his illness began.
Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo urged residents not to be alarmed by the doctor's diagnosis Thursday, even as they described him riding the subway, taking a cab and bowling since returning to New York from Guinea a week ago. De Blasio said all city officials followed "clear and strong" protocols in their handling and treatment of him.
"We want to state at the outset that New Yorkers have no reason to be alarmed," de Blasio said. "New Yorkers who have not been exposed are not at all at risk." The doctor, Craig Spencer, a member of Doctors Without Borders, reported Thursday morning coming down with a 103-degree fever and diarrhea. He was being treated in an isolation ward at Manhattan's Bellevue Hospital, a designated Ebola center.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which will do a further test to confirm the initial results, has dispatched an Ebola response team to New York. President Barack Obama spoke to Cuomo and de Blasio Thursday night and offered the federal government's support. He asked them to stay in close touch with Ron Klain, his "Ebola czar," and public health officials in Washington.
Health officials have been tracing Spencer's contacts to identify anyone who may be at risk. The city's health commissioner, Mary Bassett, said Spencer's fiancee and two friends had been quarantined but showed no symptoms.
Health officials say the chances of the average New Yorker contracting Ebola, which is spread through direct contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person, are slim. Someone can't be infected just by being near someone who is sick with Ebola. Someone isn't contagious unless he is sick.
Bassett said the probability was "close to nil" that Spencer's subway rides would pose a risk. Still, the bowling alley was closed as a precaution, and Spencer's Harlem apartment was cordoned off. The Department of Health was on site across the street from the apartment building Thursday night, giving out information to area residents.
Still, the news rankled some New Yorkers. "Oh my gosh!" said Charles Kerr, 60, as his friends gathered on a Harlem sidewalk murmured. "This changes the situation. The guy must be coughing, sitting against people. Now you've got to think."
Kerr said he wasn't afraid, but he wants a stricter approach to anyone coming from the Ebola-affected countries. "Stay in their apartment," he said. "Especially now, when it's so rampant. Especially if they know they've been in contact."
The epidemic in West Africa has killed about 4,800 people. In the United States, the first person diagnosed with the disease was a Liberian man, who fell ill days after arriving in Dallas and later died, becoming the only fatality. None of his relatives who had contact with him got sick. Two nurses who treated him were infected and are hospitalized. The family of one nurse said doctors no longer could detect Ebola in her as of Tuesday evening.
According to a rough timeline provided by city officials, in the days before Spencer fell ill, he went on a 3-mile jog, went to the High Line park, rode the subway and, on Wednesday night, got a taxi to a Brooklyn bowling alley. He felt tired starting Tuesday, and felt worse on Thursday when he and his fiancee made a joint call to authorities to detail his symptoms and his travels. EMTs in full Ebola gear arrived and took him to Bellevue in an ambulance surrounded by police squad cars.
Doctors Without Borders, an international humanitarian organization, said per the guidelines it provides its staff members on their return from Ebola assignments, "the individual engaged in regular health monitoring and reported this development immediately." Travelers from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone must report in with health officials daily and take their temperature twice a day, as Spencer did. He also limited his direct contact with people, health officials said.
Spencer, 33, works at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center. He had not seen any patients or been to the hospital since his return, the hospital said in a statement, calling him a "dedicated humanitarian" who "went to an area of medical crisis to help a desperately underserved population."
Four American aid workers, including three doctors, were infected with Ebola while working in Africa and were transferred to the U.S. for treatment in recent months. All recovered. Health care workers are vulnerable because of close contact with patients when they are their sickest and most contagious.
In West Africa this year, more than 440 health workers have contracted Ebola and about half have died. But the Ebola virus is not very hardy. The CDC says bleach and other hospital disinfectants kill it. Dried virus on surfaces survives only for several hours.
Spencer is from Michigan and attended Wayne State University School of Medicine and Columbia's University Mailman School of Public Health. According to his Facebook page, he left for West Africa via Brussels last month. A photo shows him in full protective gear. He returned to Brussels Oct. 16.
"Off to Guinea with Doctors Without Borders," he wrote. "Please support organizations that are sending support or personnel to West Africa, and help combat one of the worst public health and humanitarian disasters in recent history."
Associated Press writers Frank Eltman, Cara Anna, Cameron Young, Jake Pearson, Deepti Hajela and Tom Hays and researcher Susan James contributed to this report.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Canada Gunman Wanted A Passport To Go To Mideast

In this frame grab taken from video, Canada Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaks during a televised address to the nation in Ottawa, Ontario, Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014.


OTTAWA, ONTARIO (AP) — He was a recent convert to Islam and a petty criminal with a long rap sheet, including a string of drug offenses. In recent weeks, he had been staying in a homeless shelter, where he talked about wanting to go to Libya to get away from drugs but griped that he couldn't get a passport.
A picture began to emerge Thursday of Michael Zehaf-Bibeau a day after the 32-year-old Canadian launched a deadly attack on Canada's seat of government that forced the country — again — to confront the danger of radicalized citizens in its midst.
In what the prime minister called a terrorist attack, Bibeau shot a soldier to death at Canada's tomb of the unknown Wednesday, then stormed the Parliament building, where he was gunned down by the sergeant-at-arms.
Abubakir Abdelkareem, 29, who often visited the Ottawa Mission, a homeless shelter downtown, said he met Zehaf-Bibeau there. He said Zehaf-Bibeau told him he had a drug problem in Vancouver but had been clean for three months.
Abdelkareem told The Associated Press that Zehaf-Bibeau wanted his passport to fly to Libya because he thought he could avoid drugs there. "As soon as I get it, I'm going to fly. ... Then there's no temptation," Abdelkareem quoted him as saying.
But in the past three days, "his personality changed completely," Abdelkareem said. "He was not talkative; he was not social" anymore and slept during the day, said Abdelkareem, who concluded the man was back on drugs.
Lloyd Maxwell, another shelter resident, said that Zehaf-Bibeau had lived for some time in Vancouver, then Calgary, then came to Ottawa specifically to try to get a passport, believing that would be more easily accomplished in the nation's capital.
"He didn't get it, and that made him very agitated," Maxwell said. Maxwell said that he suggested to the man that he might be on a no-fly list, and "he kind of looked at me funny, and he walked away."
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police confirmed on Thursday that Zehaf-Bibeau had applied recently for a passport, but said it believes he intended to go to Syria. Earlier this week, the Mounties said that there are about 90 people in the country who are suspected of intending to join the extremist fighting abroad or who have returned from such activity overseas. But RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson said Thursday that Zehaf-Bibeau was not among them.
In an email to the AP expressing horror and sadness at what happened, Zehaf-Bibeau's mother, Susan Bideau, said that her son seemed lost and "did not fit in," and that she hadn't seen him for more than five years until having lunch with him last week.
"So I have very little insight to offer," she said. In a brief and tear-filled telephone interview with the AP, Bibeau said that she is crying for the victims of the shooting rampage, not her son. "Can you ever explain something like this?" said Bibeau, who has homes in Montreal and Ottawa. "We are sorry."
After initially reporting that two or three assailants may have taken part in the shooting rampage, Canadian police conceded Thursday that Zehaf-Bibeau was the lone gunman. The bloodshed raised fears that Canada is suffering reprisals — perhaps so-called lone-wolf attacks — for joining the U.S.-led air campaign against Islamic State extremists in Iraq and Syria.
On Monday, a man described as an "ISIL-inspired terrorist" ran over two soldiers in a parking lot in Quebec, killing one and injuring the other before being shot to death by police. Before the attack, Canadian authorities feared he had had jihadist ambitions and seized his passport when he tried to travel to Turkey.
Preime Minister Stephen Harper noted that both attacks were carried out by citizens born in Canada. "The fact of the matter is there are serious security threats in this country and in many cases those serious security threats continue to be at large and not subject to detention or arrest," he said.
Elizabeth May, the leader of the Green Party, said in Parliament that this week's attacks were probably "the acts of isolated, disturbed and deeply troubled men who were drawn to something crazy." "I do not believe that it was a vast network, or that the country is more at risk today than it was last week," May said.
Court records that appear to be Zehaf-Bibeau's show that he had a long criminal record, with convictions for assault, robbery, drug and weapons offenses, and other crimes. Meanwhile, Kevin Vickers, the 58-year-old Parliament sergeant-at-arms credited with shooting and killing Zehaf-Bibeau, got a rousing standing ovation in the House of Commons for saving lawmakers' lives. Vickers, dressed in his ceremonial robe and carrying his heavy mace, acknowledged the applause by nodding solemnly.
The former Mountie said in a statement that he was "very touched" by the attention but that he has the close support of a remarkable security team.
Satter reported from London. Gillies contributed from Toronto.