By Misha Hussain DAKAR, Mar 20 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - The latest spike in Guinea's Ebola cases could be a sign that aid teams are at last gaining access to hidden patients, rather than a surge of new cases, a senior World Health Organization (WHO) official said. The number of suspected cases in the West African country has more than doubled from last month, according to the health ministry, prompting fears the epidemic could mushroom as it did in Liberia and Sierra Leone in September. However, Jean-Marie Dangou, the WHO's Guinea country representative, said the uptick in cases was explained by previously hostile communities opening up to Ebola teams, mainly lead by the Red Cross. "Unfortunately this has led to the discovery, not unexpected, of a large number of hidden cases and community deaths," Dangou told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in an email. "It also explains why most new cases are not linked to contacts under follow-up." The worst Ebola outbreak in history, which has killed more than 10,000 people in West Africa, appears to be on the wane, especially in Liberia where there are no current cases. But there is still resistance to the anti-Ebola effort in Guinea, which is struggling to control the outbreak and has overtaken Sierra Leone as the main hub for transmission. The Red Cross intensified its campaign to win over suspicious locals in Guinea last month after the Thomson Reuters Foundation reported their Ebola teams were coming under increasingly violent attacks on a regular basis. Hostility toward Ebola aid workers has declined from 30 known areas of resistance in January to a handful of areas in the capital Conakry and the surrounding districts in March, according to incident mapping by the health ministry. However, some health workers involved in the Ebola response pin the rise in cases to a lack of resources and poor training. Earlier this year, labs in Guinea botched more than 20 Ebola blood tests which led to the release of at least four positive patients, two of whom later died, health officials told Reuters. Stemming the spread of the virus in and around the crowded city of Conakry presents the biggest challenge, especially in the districts of Coyah and Forecariah that are the source of most chains of transmission, said Dangou. David Heymann, of Public Health England, who dealt with the Ebola outbreak in what was then Zaire in 1976 as well as subsequent epidemics in Africa, said the proven way to stop Ebola transmission is through isolation and knowledge. "It doesn't surprise me that in Liberia where there has been a much more intense Ebola information campaign, quarantine and a military intervention that the disease has been brought under control faster than in Guinea," Heymann said by phone from London. In an election year, Guinea President Alpha Conde has pledged to reach zero Ebola cases by mid-April, but has so far avoided quarantine measures or the foreign-backed military interventions used in Liberia and Sierra Leone. (Additional reporting by Emma Farge; Editing by Ros Russell)
- Yahoo News
Black National Guardsman describes being deployed to protect Biden’s inauguration: 'I just felt this huge sense of pride'
As most of the 25,000 National Guardsmen who were called upon to protect Washington, D.C., during the presidential inauguration began heading home this week, one Black service member agreed to speak to Yahoo News about the experience of protecting the nation’s capital in the wake of a pro-Trump riot on Capitol Hill.
- Yahoo News
Former President Donald Trump’s “big lie” about a stolen election may have been discredited over and over in the courts, and disgraced by the attack on the U.S. Capitol, but the corrosive effect of his dishonesty will linger on, complicating efforts to strengthen American elections.
- The Telegraph
A doctor with terminal cancer killed a female pediatrician and then himself after taking hostages at a children's clinic in Austin, Texas. Dr Bharat Narumanchi held hostages in a five-hour siege before killing Dr Katherine Lindley Dodson. Narumanchi had applied for a volunteer position at the clinic a week ago and was declined. He later came back carrying a pistol, a shotgun and two duffel bags. Police spokesman Jeff Greenwalt said Narumanchi had recently been given "weeks to live" after a cancer diagnosis. He said: "The case as far as who did this is closed. We know who did it. And we know that there's no longer a threat to the public. But we really, really want to answer the question of why." Dr Lindley Dodson, 43, was beloved by patients and their families. Karen Vladeck, whose two children were among her patients, told the Austin American-Statesman: "You saw her at your worst when your kid was sick, and she just always had a smile on her face. "She made you feel like you were the only parent there, even though there was a line of kids waiting." During the siege a SWAT team used a megaphone to communicate with the armed doctor. A hostage negotiator shouted: "Your life is very important to me. And I know life is very important to you. "You don't deserve to go through this. For all you have done for others. That is why I want to help you work through this. You have saved a lot of lives." Police first sent in a robot and then officers went into the medical office where they found two bodies. They did not comment on how the two doctors died. A police spokesman said: "The SWAT situation has ended. Two subjects have been located and were pronounced deceased."
- Associated Press
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday criticized Iran's hard-liner dominated judiciary over last week's prosecution of the countrys telecommunications minister. Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi was released on bail after he was summoned for prosecution. Judiciary officials cited his refusal to block Instagram and impose limitations on the bandwidth of other foreign social media and messaging systems.
- The Week
House Democrats will introduce a budget resolution Monday that starts the process for the Senate to use a legislative tool called budget reconciliation to pass President Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package with 51 votes, meaning no Republicans would need to support it if the Democratic caucus stuck together. But Democratic leaders also made sure to underscore Tuesday that they would prefer to pass the COVID-19 package with Republican support, through the regular legislative process. "The work must move forward, preferably with our Republican colleagues but without them if we must," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a news conference. "Time is of the essence to address this crisis." Biden's package includes $1,400 direct payments, a hike in the child tax credit, an extension of emergency jobless benefits set to expire March 14, billions for vaccine distribution and schools, and a $15 national minimum wage, among other provisions. Ending the legislative filibuster is off the table for now, and using the reconciliation process comes with limitations. Many Democrats, skeptical that any Republicans would support even a smaller stimulus package, see it as the only viable option. But a handful of moderates from both parties are urging Biden to make a deal. One Senate Democrat could thwart the legislation. "I'll guarantee you I can sit down with my Republican friends and find a pathway forward," said Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), who organized a meeting between bipartisan Senate moderates and Biden's team on Sunday. "Let me try first." Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) disagreed. "People can talk to whoever they want to talk to, but this country faces enormous crises," he said. "Elections have consequences. We're in the majority, and we've got to act." Starting the ball rolling for budget reconciliation leaves plenty of time for bipartisan talks. "If we're going to use reconciliation, we have to go forward with it pretty soon, but that doesn't prevent a negotiated package as well," said House Budget Chairman John Yarmuth (D-Ky.). "At worst, it's Plan A and at best it's Plan B." More stories from theweek.comMitch McConnell is the GOATWho is the Cinderella in the GameStop fairy tale?The left's fake Senate majority
- Architectural Digest
Let’s get loudOriginally Appeared on Architectural Digest
A man in Portland, Oregon has been charged with bias crimes after allegedly kicking and racially attacking an Asian American woman last week. The incident, which left the victim with “some trouble walking,” occurred on a TriMet bus in the area of Southeast 52nd Avenue and Foster Road at 5:45 p.m. on Jan. 22. Eschright also allegedly used racial slurs during the encounter, mentioning the coronavirus in regards to the victim’s race and skin color.
- The Independent
Jill Biden spent her first week as First Lady reshaping the role. Melania Trump spent hers isolated in a tower
New first lady signals she will be an active and constant presence in the White House - drawing stark contrasts to her predecessor
- The Telegraph
Russian authorities target Navalny's associates and wife in series of police raids ahead of protests
Russian authorities raided the homes of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny and his associates on Wednesday, piling pressure on opposition figures ahead of a major rally planned for this weekend. Masked police on Wednesday afternoon broke down the door of Mr Navalny’s rented flat despite the pleas from his wife who was inside, asking for her lawyer, Veronika Polyakova. Ms Polyakova arrived at her house but was not allowed in to witness the search, a clear violation of the Russian law,she told the Dozhd TV channel. In the biggest wave of police action against the opposition in months, law enforcement agents raided at least seven homes on Wednesday, including a Moscow property owned by Mr Navalny but where he has not lived for years, and the office of his associates who run his YouTube channel. A video posted online by Lyubov Sobol, a close ally of Mr Navalny, showed black-clad masked men break down the door and walk into the office.
Armed and ready to go, Taiwan air force jets screamed into the sky on Tuesday in a drill to simulate a war scenario, showing its fleet's battle readiness after dozens of Chinese warplanes flew into the island's air defence zone over the weekend. Taiwan, claimed by China as its territory, has been on edge since the large-scale incursion by Chinese fighters and nuclear-capable bombers into the southwestern part of its air defence identification zone on Saturday and Sunday, which coincided with a U.S. carrier group entering the South China Sea. The base in the southern city of Tainan, home to F-CK-1 Ching-kuo Indigenous Defence Fighters (IDF), frequently scrambles jets to intercept China's air force.
- NBC News
Analysis: Biden had nothing to gain and everything to lose from fighting a quixotic war over the filibuster just days into his presidency.
- Associated Press
A group of U.N experts has criticized Sri Lanka's requirement that those who die of COVID-19 be cremated, even it goes against a family's religious beliefs, and warned that decisions based on “discrimination and aggressive nationalism” could incite hatred and violence. The experts, who are part of the Special Procedures of the U.N Human Rights Council, said in a statement Monday that rule amounts to a human rights violation. “We deplore the implementation of such public health decisions based on discrimination, aggressive nationalism and ethnocentrism amounting to persecution of Muslims and other minorities in the country,” the experts said.
"Our veterans, families and caregivers will benefit from the return of Joining Forces, and our nation will as well."
COVID-19 vaccination programmes in China and India will stretch until late 2022 due to the sheer size of their population, and more than 85 poor countries will not have widespread access to vaccines before 2023, a study showed on Wednesday. While rapid development of vaccines has raised hopes for an end to the year-long pandemic, concerns over unequal distribution have also mounted due to production problems and large bilateral deals between wealthy countries and drug makers. U.S. President Joe Biden said on Tuesday that the United States aims to secure an additional 200 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer and its partner BioNTech and Moderna Inc by summer.
- The Independent
Biden’s new sign language interpreter runs a right-wing Facebook group and has been pictured in a MAGA hat
One video featuring Heather Mewshaw is titled ‘Joe Biden is literally and legally not the President elect’
- The Telegraph
Mitch McConnell, the US Senate Republican leader, said on Monday he would agree to a power-sharing agreement with Democrats, dropping demands that had held up the basic organisation and daily work of the 50-50 chamber for days. Democrat Chuck Schumer, now the majority leader thanks to Vice President Kamala Harris' tie-breaking vote, and Mr McConnell had been at odds over the Republican's request that Democrats promise to protect the filibuster, which requires a 60-vote supermajority to advance most legislation. Mr Schumer has refused to guarantee the filibuster would stay. But in a statement, Mr McConnell cited comments from moderate Democratic Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, who said they would not favour eliminating the filibuster. "The legislative filibuster was a key part of the foundation beneath the Senate's last 50-50 power-sharing agreement in 2001," Mr McConnell said. "With these assurances, I look forward to moving ahead with a power-sharing agreement modeled on that precedent." A spokesman for Mr Schumer, Justin Goodman, said in a statement, "We're glad Senator McConnell threw in the towel and gave up on his ridiculous demand. We look forward to organising the Senate under Democratic control and start getting big, bold things done for the American people." Some liberal Democrats have suggested killing the filibuster to help advance President Joe Biden's agenda, though Mr Biden has not signaled support for such a move. In recent years, the 60-vote threshold has brought the Senate nearly to a halt on major legislation. With Ms Harris unable to attend every Senate session, the two party leaders have been discussing an arrangement to govern day-to-day operations, similar to one struck the last time the Senate was equally split two decades ago. Senate committees have still not been reorganised under Democratic control. Democrats could unilaterally change the rules to require only a simple majority to approve bills, a move sometimes called the "nuclear option", if all 50 members voted together and Ms Harris provided the tie-breaking vote. By declining to guarantee as part of the deal that the filibuster will be protected, Mr Schumer preserves the threat as leverage in negotiations over Mr Biden's priorities, such as a new round of coronavirus relief.
- FOX News Videos
Biden administration has system in place where reporters will not ask president tough questions: Media critic
Steve Krakauer, editor at Fourth Watch, says 'it shouldn't be contingent' on one reporter to ask Biden tough questions.
- Associated Press
Authorities in Singapore said Wednesday that they had detained without trial a 16-year-old student who made detailed plans and preparations to launch “terrorist attacks” on two mosques with a machete. The Internal Security Department said the Singaporean teen was inspired by an Australian gunman who killed 51 worshippers at two mosques in New Zealand in 2019. The teen was detained in December, and was the youngest terror suspect to be held under the country's Internal Security Act, it added.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Wednesday, his first full day in the job, that he favored cooperation with China on climate change and other issues of shared concern, even as he reiterated that genocide had been committed against Uighur Muslims in its Xinjiang region. "I think, and hope, that we'll be able to pursue that, but that fits within the larger context of, of our foreign policy, and of many issues of concern that we have with China; issues that we need to need to work through." Blinken was asked how it would be possible to cooperate with China after his predecessor, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, said last week that China had committed genocide against Muslims in Xinjiang.
- The Independent
Grandmother ‘overjoyed’ to be outside after receiving Covid-19 vaccine killed in Portland vehicle attack
Police have not released a motive in the attack