Trump Taps Vax Alarmist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to Launch Review of Vaccines

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Vaccination skeptic alarmist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. said he will oversee a presidential panel to review vaccine safety and science at the request of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, in a move likely to reignite debate over now-debunked research that tied childhood immunizations to autism.

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“President-elect Trump has some doubts about the current vaccine policy, and he has questions about it,” Kennedy, who has raised questions about the safety of vaccines, told reporters following a meeting with Trump in New York on Tuesday. “He asked me to chair a commission on vaccine safety and scientific integrity. I said I would.”

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Vaccine experts decried the appointment of a vocal vaccine skeptic to explore the safety of vaccines and their purported link with autism, an association raised by a paper published in The Lancet in 1998 that vaxxclaimed to find a connection between the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism.

That paper has been debunked, and The Lancet withdrew the study. Since then, numerous studies have affirmed the safety of the vaccine, most recently including a study of 100,000 children considered at high risk of developing autism.

“The concerns of public health officials and pediatricians and family doctors regarding the Trump administration and its attitude toward vaccines have just been reinforced,” said Dr. William Schaffner an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, who advises the federal panel that sets U.S. vaccine policy.

Schaffner said Kennedy has “raised issues that have been settled securely and completely by good science, and 80,0000 pediatricians, many family doctors and the World Health Organization all reinforce the current recommended childhood immunization schedule. They are safe and they are effective.” Read the rest of this entry »


Heidi Vogt: Boko Haram’s Abduction of Girls Still Grips Nigeria

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Boko Haram has abducted at least 2,000 women and girls since the start of 2014. Many have been forced into sexual slavery or trained to fight, says Amnesty International

YOLA, Nigeria— Heidi Vogt reports: In the year since Boko Haram militants kidnapped hundreds of schoolgirls from their dormitories in northeastern Nigeria, the missing girls have come to symbolize an insurgency that doesn’t need a large footprint to terrorize a population.

Protests continue in the capital Abuja to urge the government to do more to free the more-than-200 girls. Each time a town has been retaken, local newspapers and radio stations ask the government if the girls were found there.

“This is about Chibok but it is also about what’s happening in northeast. It is about Boko Haram. It’s something that people can organize around.”

— Liz Donnelly, a London-based Nigeria analyst with the Chatham House policy institute

After the recapture of the key town of Gwoza in late March, the headline of the Nigerian website Pulse headlined its story: “No sign of Chibok girls as soldiers recover Gwoza from terrorists.”

In the past two months, Boko Haram has lost much of the territory it had seized. But what may be a more persistent threat remains—that of a hit-and-run organization that instills terror through mass abductions.

[Also see – Photos: Drawings by Child Victims of Boko Haram Attacks]

Boko Haram has abducted at least 2,000 women and girls since the start of 2014, Amnesty International said in a new report. Many have been forced into sexual slavery or trained to fight, the rights group said.

But the girls seized in the town of Chibok and publicized in the #bringbackourgirls Twitter campaignhave been the ones that caught the world’s attention and galvanized Nigerians.

[Read the full text here, at WSJ]

“This is about Chibok but it is also about what’s happening in northeast. It is about Boko Haram. It’s something that people can organize around,” said Liz Donnelly, a London-based Nigeria analyst with the Chatham House policy institute.

There have been rumors in recent weeks both that the girls have been killed and that they were spotted in Gwoza, but neither has been substantiated.

And there may be more kidnappings to come. Read the rest of this entry »


BREAKING: Active Shooter at TX VA Clinic

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EL PASO, Texas – Police confirmed with KFOX14 they are assisting Fort Bliss on reports Tuesday of an active shooting at the VA clinic next to the William Beaumont Army Medical Center.

Viewers say they’ve seen heavy police activity in the area of Fred Wilson Avenue and Alabama Street, and all traffic has come to a stop.

A spokesperson for WBAMC said the commander instructed officials to place the medical center on lockdown because of an active shooter at the VA clinic.

The gates have been closed in that area. Read the rest of this entry »


Post-Election News Dump: U.S. CDC Boosts National Stockpile of Ebola Protective Gear

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The CDC has ordered $2.7 million in personal protective equipment that is being configured into 50 kits for rapid deployment to hospitals, it said in a statement.

“We are making certain to not disrupt the orders submitted by states and hospitals, but we are building our stocks so that we can assist when needed.”

— Greg Burel, director of CDC’s Division of Strategic National Stockpile

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Some U.S. orders of protective equipment have been backlogged amid growing domestic demand, as manufacturers prioritize a flood of requests from aid agencies trying to curb the outbreak in West Africa. Read the rest of this entry »


New York Doctor Tests Positive for Ebola

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A physician with Doctors Without Borders who returned to New York City after treating Ebola victims in West Africa has tested positive for the virus

Dr. Craig Spencer, 33, developed a fever and gastrointestinal symptoms after working for the humanitarian organization in Guinea, one of three West African nations hardest hit by Ebola.

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“De Blasio said earlier on Thursday that Spencer had been in direct contact with ‘very few’ people. However, the Times said Spencer traveled by subway to a bowling alley in the city’s Brooklyn borough on Wednesday night and took a taxi home.”

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A specially trained team wearing protective gear transported Spencer to Bellevue Hospital from his Manhattan apartment, the city said in a statement.

The first confirmed case in America’s largest city set off renewed fears about the spread of the virus, which has killed nearly 4,900 people, largely in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

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The first person diagnosed with Ebola on U.S. soil flew from Liberia to Texas and later died in a Dallas hospital. Two nurses who treated him became infected with the virus and one took a commercial flight with a fever, prompting officials in several states to take steps to become better prepared to contain the virus. Read the rest of this entry »


Reality Check: Is an Ebola Flight Ban a Good Idea? Nate Silver Doesn’t Think So

editor-commen-deskIt’s exceedingly rare that I agree with an Obama administration decision (though the decision is infirm, and could be weaseled any way the wind blows over the next several weeks) but the increasing calls to impose an Africa travel ban strike me as reflexive, not founded on proven disease strategy. Unlike a lot of bellyaching conservatives, and a handful of election-panicked Democrats, I’m not convinced that declining to respond to pressure to impose a travel ban is a bad thing. And I don’t think it’s motivated purely by narrow political or economic interests. That said, I don’t claim to be informed enough to have a clear opinion either way. So this morning I saw this, and thought it might be useful reading.

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Nate Silver writes:

On Sept. 19, Thomas Eric Duncan boarded a flight in Monrovia, Liberia, possibly after having lied on a screening questionnaire about his contact with persons carrying the Ebola virus. The next day, Duncan arrived in Dallas to visit his fiancée and son. Initially complaining of a fever, Duncan would soon become the first person in the United States diagnosed with Ebola. Before dying of the disease on Oct. 8, Duncan would transmit it to two nurses, Nina Pham and Amber Vinson, who treated him at Dallas Presbyterian Hospital.

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Duncan’s case has sparked calls to ban flights to the United States from the countries hardest hit by the recent Ebola outbreak — Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone — possibly along with others in West Africa. While some of these APPROVED-non-stop-panicarguments have been measured, others seem to convey the impression there are thousands of passengers arriving in cities like Dallas each day from flights originating in these countries.

There aren’t. We searched on Kayak.comExpertFlyer.com and airline websites for direct flights from West African nations (as the United Nations defines the region) to destinations outside the African continent. Specifically, we looked for flights available for the week from Jan. 2 to Jan. 8, 2015, a time period far enough in advance that such flights are unlikely to have sold out.

There are no regularly scheduled direct flights to the U.S. from Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone — and very few from other countries in West Africa. There are far more flights from West Africa to Western Europe instead. Duncan’s case was typical. Before arriving in the United States, he connected through Brussels.

Here are all the routes we identified:

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Our search may be missing a few flights here and there, but it ought to be reasonably comprehensive, especially for travel to and from the United States. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] White House Forward Backward Forward: Travel Ban On/Off Table?

“It’s an option that will continue to be on the table, but it’s one that is not being considered right now.”

Two days after expressly ruling out a travel ban to and from Ebola-stricken countries, White House press secretary Josh Earnest admitted such a ban is now “on the table.” Read the rest of this entry »


Ebola Cases May Reach 10,000 Weekly, Virus Killing 70% of People Who Contract Disease

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U.N. Health Body Aims to Have Majority of Cases Isolated Within Two Months to Reverse Outbreak

WHO: Virus is Killing 70% of People Who Contract Disease

ZURICH— WSJ – Andrew Morse reports: The Ebola virus is killing 70% of the people who contract the disease, the World Health Organization said Tuesday, and as many as 10,000 new cases a week could be reported by early December.
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“Every time you isolate another patient, every time you have a safe burial, you’re taking some of the heat out of this outbreak.”

— WHO assistant director-general Dr. Bruce Aylward

Dr. Bruce Aylward, the WHO assistant director-general in charge of the organization’s response to the epidemic, said the Ebola virus is “still moving geographically, still escalating” in some bigger cities. He expressed concern the disease could spread to countries that share borders with Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia, the epicenters of the current outbreak, singling out Côte d’Ivoire as particularly vulnerable. Read the rest of this entry »


(UPDATED) BREAKING: Sick Passenger Removed from United Flight by Medical Personnel in Hazmat Suits

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DEVELOPING: Medical personnel in hazmat suits at New Jersey’s Newark Liberty International Airport removed a sick passenger Saturday from a United Airlines flight that arrived from Brussels, Belgium…

FoxNews

UPDATE: Robert Wilde has this:

On Saturday at Newark Airport, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials rushed to meet with a United Airlines flight from Brussels and removed a passenger, believed to be from Liberia, suspected of having Ebola. 

The CDC crew responded to flight 998 in full hazmat gear and took the man and his daughter to University Hospital in Newark for further evaluation. According to a senior federal official, the passenger was manifesting “flu-like symptoms.” The passenger was reportedly vomiting in the plane but did not exhibit other Ebola-like symptoms.

“He’s now being treated with protocols as if he has it, but no clear indication at this point that he does,” the official said. Read the rest of this entry »


Horror on high seas: Deadly tale told at China trial

Mutineers turned on each other, split into regional gangs on fishing vessel far from home

(Photo: Calum MacLeod, USA TODAY)

(Photo: Calum MacLeod, USA TODAY)

SHIDAO, China – Frightened for their lives, four Chinese fishermen caught on a boat gone mad with mutiny dropped a home-made raft in the Pacific 1,000 miles from Japan. Read the rest of this entry »