10/15/2014 archive

Ebola: A Challenge for US Healthcare System

Up Date: The second Dallas nurse infected with ebola will be transferred to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, GA. The  Infectious Disease Unit is where the first two U.S. Ebola patients, both health missionary workers stationed in Liberia, were treated and released in August.

The Texas Department of State Health Services confirmed that a second health care worker has tested positive for ebola. The hospital, although it claims it is “equipped to care for patients in isolation,” it has become fairly apparent that there is a flaw in its protocols. The hospital has admitted it doesn’t know how the two hospital workers contracted the virus. That’s huge problem that continues to put the staff at great risk.

Dallas nurses have now come forward citing the flawed conditions in Ebola care

Deborah Burger of National Nurses United, who convened a conference call with reporters to relay what she said were concerns of nurses at the hospital, said they were forced to use medical tape to secure openings in their flimsy garments and worried that their necks and heads were exposed as they cared for Duncan. [..]

The nurses allege that his lab samples were allowed to travel through the hospital’s pneumatic tubes, possibly risking contaminating of the specimen-delivery system. They also said that hazardous waste was allowed to pile up to the ceiling. [..]

The nurses’ statement said they had to “interact with Mr. Duncan with whatever protective equipment was available,” even as he produced “a lot of contagious fluids.” Duncan’s medical records underscore that concern. They also say nurses treating Duncan were also caring for other patients in the hospital and that, in the face of constantly shifting guidelines, they were allowed to follow whichever ones they chose.

When Ebola was suspected but unconfirmed, a doctor wrote that use of disposable shoe covers should also be considered. At that point, by all protocols, shoe covers should have been mandatory to prevent anyone from tracking contagious body fluids around the hospital. [..]

The CDC said 76 staff members at the hospital could have been exposed to Duncan after his second ER visit. Another 48 people who may have had contact with him before he was isolated are being monitored.

This is unacceptable.

The CDC is now sending a team to oversee isolation procedures, especially the personal protection equipment (PPE) used by the staff, as well as, putting it on and removing it. It is the last part, removing the PPE, that is critical and, the most likely how these two nurses were infected. The PPE should be impervious to fluids. There should be no skin exposed and, as most news reporters have observed, it takes longer to take it off than don it. That’s the hard part and is done carefully, methodically and in multiple stages with decontamination at each stage.

The international medical aid organization, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), or Doctors Without Borders, has been in the lead with taking care of ebola patients in Africa and has written the book on safety procedures.

Doctors without Borders training, Belgium photo DWB-Belgium_zps547e3b30.jpg

The New York City Department of Health has designated Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan as the center for treatment of the Ebola virus in the city. But if this picture is an example of the PPE the staff will be wearing, they are need to make so improvements and fast.

Bellview Hospital, New York photo Bellview-NY_zps5d6ccc75.jpg

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow examined the challenges for U.S. medical facilities of meeting the exacting protocols for handling Ebola, She pointed out how something as simple as a checklist can help as the rate of Ebola’s spread is forecast to increase rapidly.

In the day of i-pads and tablets, the use of a checklist in donning and removing PPE would help eliminate errors, make it easier to find flaws (human or mechanical) and lessen the possibility of a contagious disease like ebola from spreading to care givers and beyond.  

Your Privacy Matters

The NSA, FBI and DOJ are upset with the new Apple and Google encryption apps that they can’t hack. The poor Director of the FBI, James Comey is “concerned” so he plays the “fear card”

“I am a huge believer in the rule of law, but I also believe that no one in this country is beyond the law,” Comey told reporters at FBI headquarters in Washington. “What concerns me about this is companies marketing something expressly to allow people to place themselves beyond the law.”

Apple said last week that it would no longer be technically feasible to unlock encrypted iPhones and iPads for law enforcement because the devices would no longer allow user passcodes to be bypassed. The move comes as tech companies struggle to manage public concerns in the aftermath of last year’s leak of classified National Security Agency documents about government access to private user data. [..]

“Unlike our competitors, Apple cannot bypass your passcode and therefore cannot access this data,” the company said. “So it’s not technically feasible for us to respond to government warrants for the extraction of this data from devices in their possession running iOS 8.”

Comey said that while he understood the need for privacy, government access to mobile devices may be needed in extreme circumstances, such as in the event of a terror attack.

“I like and believe very much that we should have to obtain a warrant from an independent judge to be able to take the content of anyone’s closet or their smart phone,” he said. “The notion that someone would market a closet that could never be opened — even if it involves a case involving a child kidnapper and a court order — to me does not make any sense.”

Comey said FBI officials have had conversations with both Apple and Google about the marketing of their devices.

“Google is marketing their Android the same way: Buy our phone and law-enforcement, even with legal process, can never get access to it,” he said.

Why anyone would think that the guy who approved torture believes in the rule of law is beyond me. Trevor Timm at The Guardian dissects what Comey said:

Comey began:

  I am a huge believer in the rule of law, but I also believe that no one in this country is beyond the law. … What concerns me about this is companies marketing something expressly to allow people to place themselves beyond the law.

First of all, despite the FBI director’s implication, what Apple and Google have done is perfectly legal, and they are under no obligation under the “the rule of law” to decrypt users’ data if the company itself cannot access your stuff. From 47 U.S. Code § 1002 (emphasis mine):

   A telecommunications carrier shall not be responsible for decrypting, or ensuring the government’s ability to decrypt, any communication encrypted by a subscriber or customer, unless the encryption was provided by the carrier and the carrier possesses the information necessary to decrypt the communication.

Comey continued:

   I like and believe very much that we should have to obtain a warrant from an independent judge to be able to take the content of anyone’s closet or their smart phone.

That’s funny, because literally four months ago, the United States government was saying the exact opposite (pdf) before the US supreme court, arguing that, in fact, the feds shouldn’t need to get a warrant to get inside anyone’s smartphone after you’re arrested. In its landmark June ruling in the case, Riley v California, the court disagreed. So it’s great to see that Jim Comey, too, has come around to the common sense conclusion that cops need a warrant to search your cellphone data, but it would’ve been nice for him to express those sentiments when they actually mattered.

Comey doubled down in another statement with the absurd fear that criminals, like child kidnappers would be able to evade the law. On its face that’s insanely ridiculous since law enforcement has numerous ways tools to access your data. The Intercept‘s Micah Lee points out that Apple still has access to plenty of your data to feed to the Feds. He went on how bemoan the NSA leaks by Edward Snowden has caused the need to protect a person’s private information may have gone too far. How so, Mr. Comey? As Timm notes in his article

Congress has not changed surveillance law at all in the the nearly 16 months since Edward Snowden’s disclosures began, mostly because of the vociferous opposition from intelligence agencies and cops. The pendulum is still permanently lodged squarely on law enforcement’s side. If it has swung at all, it’s because of the aforementioned ruling by the supreme court of the United States, along with tech companies implementing more privacy protections unilaterally because US tech companies are losing billions of dollars because of the government’s spying scandals.

A week ago, The Intercept‘s Glenn Greenwald gave a Ted Talk in Rio de Janeiro on why your privacy matters

Crypto wars redux: why the FBI’s desire to unlock your private life must be resisted

In 1995, the US government tried – and failed – to categorise encryption as a weapon. Today, the same lines are being drawn and the same tactics repeated as the FBI wants to do the same. Here’s why they are wrong, and why they must fail again

Eric Holder, the outgoing US attorney general, has joined the FBI and other law enforcement agencies in calling for the security of all computer systems to be fatally weakened. This isn’t a new project – the idea has been around since the early 1990s, when the NSA classed all strong cryptography as a “munition” and regulated civilian use of it to ensure that they had the keys to unlock any technological countermeasures you put around your data.

In 1995, the Electronic Frontier Foundation won a landmark case establishing that code was a form of protected expression under the First Amendment to the US constitution, and since then, the whole world has enjoyed relatively unfettered access to strong crypto. [..]

The arguments then are the arguments now. Governments invoke the Four Horsemen of the Infocalypse (software pirates, organised crime, child pornographers, and terrorists) and say that unless they can decrypt bad guys’ hard drives and listen in on their conversations, law and order is a dead letter.

On the other side, virtually every security and cryptography expert tries patiently to explain that there’s no such thing as “a back door that only the good guys can walk through” (hat tip to Bruce Schneier). Designing a computer that bad guys can’t break into is impossible to reconcile with designing a computer that good guys can break into.

If you give the cops a secret key that opens the locks on your computerised storage and on your conversations, then one day, people who aren’t cops will get hold of that key, too. The same forces that led to bent cops selling out the public’s personal information to Glen Mulcaire and the tabloid press will cause those cops’ successors to sell out access to the world’s computer systems, too, only the numbers of people who are interested in these keys to the (United) Kingdom will be much larger, and they’ll have more money, and they’ll be able to do more damage.

Long live The Republic.

Dispatches From Hellpeckersville- Weather Woes

The dampness is killing me! No kidding, I am achy all over. I knew I was having a moderate flare at the beginning of the week, but I just took some pills and went about my business. I have a pretty good support system here at chez triv, no heavy lifting required, so I figured all would be well, but last night I made a horrible blunder without even realizing it.

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Joan Walsh: Tea Party’s Ebola paranoia: Why GOP’s fear-mongering is just a cynical turnout strategy

Most Americans think the U.S. can handle the disease, but not Tea Party and rural voters. So the GOP whips up fear

There’s good news in the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released Tuesday night: Most Americans believe the government is ready to handle a possible Ebola outbreak, even as a second Dallas health worker has contracted the disease.  But if you want to understand why the GOP is fear-mongering on the issue, you’ve got to analyze the poll results more closely. [..]

The poll had more good news than bad for the forces of calm and reason: 49 percent of Americans thought the CDC is doing a good job, compared to 22 percent who said it wasn’t. Other polls have given us a little more to worry about: Last week’s Rutgers-Eagleton survey of New Jersey voters found that 69 percent were at least somewhat concerned about the disease spreading here – and that people who were paying the most attention to TV actually knew the least about the disease, and were the most frightened.

Lindy West: We need to stop talking about Ebola like it’s just another Dustin Hoffman germ-thriller

Americans are both taking the outbreak too seriously and not seriously enough – some rage about closing borders while the rest are gripped by a gory scenario that’s unlikely to touch us

I must confess: I was initially concerned that I am perhaps not sufficiently qualified to weigh in on our planet’s current Ebola panic, seeing as I am neither a doctor nor a nurse nor a scientist of any kind nor an African fruit bat nor Dustin Hoffman. [..]

And anyway, there is one area in which I am eminently, objectively pedigreed to comment – relative to famous idiots or not – and that is in my capacity as a human being living in a culture where panic is marketed as both disposable entertainment and a way of life. [..]

Somehow, in America at least, we seem to be taking Ebola both too seriously and not seriously enough. Rightwing xenophobes rage about closing the borders and impeaching #OBOLA (heads up, white Americans: if anyone has a track record of deliberately introducing devastating diseases to the North American continent in order to wipe out the population, it’s not half-Kenyan lawyers), while the rest of us titter proprietarily over the gory doom that we know will almost certainly never touch us; meanwhile, we’ve skimped on funding infectious disease research ever since the 90s Ebola scare lost its lurid lustre, and healthcare workers are paying the price. As Wired reported on Monday: “If there were more infection-prevention research, the nurse in Dallas (and probably the one in Spain, who may have contaminated herself doffing her gear) might not have become infected.” Not only that, but Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, says that, if it wasn’t for funding cuts, we would probably have an Ebola vaccine by now.

Zoë Carpenter: How the ‘War on Women’ Is Deepening Racial Inequality

In 1983, when the Department of Health and Human Services assembled the first task force to examine women’s health issues, the appointed experts made it clear that the defining challenges weren’t only related to differences between men and women but also to inequality between some women and others. One fact the panel noted in its final report was that Hispanic women died in childbirth three times as often as white women; black women died four times more frequently. “If a woman is a member of an ethnic or a cultural minority,” the report (pdf [..]

The state-by-state examination of women’s health disparities suggests that they aren’t just historical holdovers but are exacerbated by a recent political decision: the refusal to expand Medicaid. Most of the states receiving low grades for women’s health in the Alliance report were among the twenty-one that have refused to accept federal money through the Affordable Care Act to expand their Medicaid programs. That decision stranded many people in a coverage gap-too poor to qualify for subsidies on the insurance exchanges and too wealthy to meet their state’s Medicaid eligibility criteria. As The New York Times noted last year, black Americans are disproportionately affected.

Jessica Valenti: Abortion isn’t about the right to privacy. It’s about women’s right to equality

Katha Pollitt is right: we should redefine why we are pro-choice and why the pro-life movement is anti-woman

There are certain polite terms that even the most well intentioned, prudent pro-choice people use when they talk about abortion. The most difficult decision. Tragic. Safe, legal and rare. But as state after state makes abortion effectively illegal in the United States – and as the anti-choice movement prepares for a US supreme court fight to end the right entirely – it’s time for the pro-choice movement to lose the protective talking points and stop dancing around the bigger truth: Abortion is good for women.

In Katha Pollitt’s new book, Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights, she argues that, as much as abortion is a private medical decision, it’s also a necessary public good. “We should accept that it’s good for everyone if women only have the children they want and can raise well,” she writes. The Nation columnist and long-time abortion rights supporter continues:


Society benefits when women can commit to education and work and dreams without having at the back of their mind that maybe it’s all provisional, because at any moment an accidental pregnancy could derail them for life.


Thus, as Pollitt and others have argued, the right to an abortion is fundamental to women’s equality, not just our privacy. Pollitt even notes that feminist legal experts – Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg among them – believe the supreme court should have made abortion legal on those grounds. After all, reproductive rights don’t end at our bodies.

Michele Goldberg: There Is No Constitutional Right to Harass Women Online

This week, Kathy Sierra published a long, raw and incisive blog post marking the ten years since receiving her first online threat.

If you’ve been following the sordid story of escalating misogynist harassment on the Internet, you know that Sierra was one of the first high-profile women to have her life turned upside down by a sadistic cyber mob. In her case, the mob was enraged less by anything she actually said than by her audacity at daring to build a public profile for herself. She initially came under attack for her popular tech blog, Creating Passionate Users, which had made her a sought-after speaker. The person who first threatened her “wasn’t outraged about my work,” she writes. “His rage was because, in his mind, my work didn’t deserve attention. Spoiler alert: ‘deserve’ and ‘attention’ are at the heart.” [..]

As I wrote recently, laws meant to address the abuse of women online can, at times, run afoul of the First Amendment, as in some state-level revenge porn laws. But there’s no constitutional right to post someone’s Social Security number, bombard their families and friends with naked pictures, libel them or threaten them with murder. The problem is that our laws and policies have lagged behind technology, allowing forms of abuse to proliferate online that we would never tolerate in the real world.

Blueprint For The Bomb

We spend the hour with veteran New York Times investigative reporter James Risen, the journalist at the center of one of the most significant press freedom cases in decades. In 2006, Risen won a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting about warrantless wiretapping of Americans by the National Security Agency. He has since been pursued by both the Bush and Obama administrations in a six-year leak investigation into that book, “State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration.” Risen now faces years in prison if he refuses to testify at the trial of a former CIA officer, Jeffrey Sterling, who is accused of giving him classified information about the agency’s role in disrupting Iran’s nuclear program, which he argues effectively gave Iran a blueprint for designing a bomb. The Obama administration must now decide if it will try to force Risen’s testimony, despite new guidelines issued earlier this year that make it harder to subpoena journalists for their records. Risen’s answer to this saga has been to write another book, released today, titled “Pay Any Price: Greed, Power, and Endless War.” “You cannot have aggressive investigative reporting in America without confidential sources – and without aggressive investigative reporting, we can’t really have a democracy,” Risen says. “I think that is what the government really fears more than anything else.” Risen also details revelations he makes in his new book about what he calls the “homeland security-industrial complex.”

James Risen Prepared to “Pay Any Price” to Report on War on Terror Amid Crackdown on Whistleblowers


James Risen on NSA Whistleblower Edward Snowden: He Sparked a New National Debate on Surveillance


The American Government Tried to Kill James Risen’s Last Book

By Murtaza Hussain, The Intercept


Not only did U.S. government officials object to the publication of the book on national security grounds, it turns out they pressured Les Moonves, the CEO of CBS, to have it killed.

The campaign to stifle Risen’s national security reporting at the Times is already well-documented, but a 60 Minutes story last night provided a glimpse into how deeply these efforts extended into the publishing world, as well. After being blocked from reporting on the NSA’s warrantless surveillance program for the paper of record, Risen looked into getting these revelations out through a book he was already under contract to write for Simon & Schuster, a book that would look at a wide range of intelligence missteps in the war on terror.

In response, it seems, the government once again went straight to the top in order to thwart him.

When Risen’s “State of War” was released against the White House’s wishes in January 2006, it came to represent a watershed moment in the campaign to bring transparency to America’s post-9/11 national security state.

Despite the failure of government suppression efforts, it is nonetheless disturbing that White House officials would intervene not just to muzzle the Times’s reporting, but also to pressure the publishing industry to kill the story as well. In its zeal to stifle critical journalism in the name of protecting national secrets, the campaign against Risen’s work appeared to border dangerously close to outright censorship.

Risen is now facing potential jail time for refusing to divulge his sources for classified information.  Nonetheless, he is standing firm.

TBC: Morning Musing 10.15.14

I have 3 articles for your perusal today.

The first, just lovely:

California Aquifers Poisoned by Fracking While State’s Water Shortage Becomes Grim

In the midst of the worst drought in California’s history comes news that hydrofracking operations are polluting the state’s dwindling water supplies.

In July, during the height of the drought, state regulators halted operations at 11 injection wells used to dispose of wastewater used in hydraulic fracturing. The state found that the wastewater might have contaminated aquifers used for drinking water and farm irrigation. The Environmental Protection agency had ordered the state to send them a report regarding the situation within 60 days.


On This Day In History October 15

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

October 15 is the 288th day of the year (289th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 77 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1815, Napoleon Bonaparte begins his final exile on the Island of St. Helene.

Napoleon Bonaparte (15 August 1769 – 5 May 1821) was a military and political leader of France and Emperor of the French as Napoleon I, whose actions shaped European politics in the early 19th century.

Napoleon was born in Corsica to parents of minor noble Italian ancestry and trained as an artillery officer in mainland France. Bonaparte rose to prominence under the French First Republic and led successful campaigns against the First and Second Coalitions arrayed against France. In 1799, he staged a coup d’etat and installed himself as First Consul; five years later the French Senate proclaimed him emperor. In the first decade of the 19th century, the French Empire under Napoleon engaged in a series of conflicts-the Napoleonic Wars-involving every major European power. After a streak of victories, France secured a dominant position in continental Europe, and Napoleon maintained the French sphere of influence through the formation of extensive alliances and the appointment of friends and family members to rule other European countries as French client states.

The French invasion of Russia in 1812 marked a turning point in Napoleon’s fortunes. His Grande Armee was badly damaged in the campaign and never fully recovered. In 1813, the Sixth Coalition defeated his forces at Leipzig; the following year the Coalition invaded France, forced Napoleon to abdicate and exiled him to the island of Elba. Less than a year later, he escaped Elba and returned to power, but was defeated at the Battle of Waterloo in June 1815. Napoleon spent the last six years of his life in confinement by the British on the island of Saint Helena. An autopsy concluded he died of stomach cancer, though Sten Forshufvud and other scientists have since conjectured he was poisoned with arsenic.

Napoleon’s campaigns are studied at military academies the world over. While considered a tyrant by his opponents, he is also remembered for the establishment of the Napoleonic code, which laid the administrative and judicial foundations for much of Western Europe.

Jock (a derogatory term)

1:  athletic supporter.

2:  an enthusiast or participant in a specified activity.

This week in Sports-

NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars apologize for Ebola prank by mascot

(Reuters) – The National Football League’s Jacksonville Jaguars apologized on Monday after their mascot used the Ebola epidemic to taunt fans of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The mascot, Jaxson DeVille, held up a handwritten sign to the crowd that read “TOWELS CARRY EBOLA” while carrying a yellow “Terrible Towel” in his right hand.

HS soccer players allegedly hurl Ebola taunts at West African opponent

NAZARETH, Pa. – A West African player on a Pennsylvania high school soccer team was allegedly taunted by opposing players with chants of “Ebola!” during a game last week.

The Allentown Morning Call newspaper reports it received two letters from fans who attended the game last Thursday and alleged that racist remarks were hurled by Northampton High School players at a black player for Nazareth High School.

Sierra Leone’s Soccer Team Struggles With Stigma Over Ebola Outbreak

YAOUNDÉ, Cameroon – Fans taunt them with chants of “Ebola.” Some opponents have hesitated to shake their hands or engage in the traditional swapping of jerseys. Humiliating medical screenings have become routine.

And in Cameroon, when the players on Sierra Leone’s exiled national soccer team checked into their hotel to prepare for an important match Saturday, some guests grew alarmed, and the police were called, a team spokesman said.

In Yaoundé, Sierra Leone’s players continue to face constant reminders of the virus: the daily temperature screenings, an isolated team hotel, hand sanitizer dispensers in the lobby and police officers stationed outside to shield the team from harassment.

Drone, banner force end to Euro soccer qualifier

BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — A small drone dangling an Albanian banner and circling the soccer field touched off fighting between Serbian and Albanian players and fans Tuesday, forcing a European Championship qualifier to be called off.

English referee Martin Atkinson halted the match in the 41st minute when a Serbian player grabbed the banner and Albanian players tried to protect it. Several Serbian fans ran onto the field and clashed with Albanian players. The score was 0-0 at the time.

The Union of European Football Associations said the match was later abandoned because of a ”disturbance” on the field.

New Jersey High School Football Team Loses Season Following Hazing, Sexual Assault Accusations

A disturbing report concerning Sayreville War Memorial High School of Sayreville, NJ surfaced today courtesy of NJ.com, uncovering details about hazing and sexual assault allegations against the school’s football team. In the wake of these accusations, the area superintendent announced this week that the remainder of the team’s season would be canceled, effective immediately.

The punishment seems fair given the weight of the allegations. NJ.com’s full report on these accusations offers a clearer picture of the alleged incidents. Initiated by older players on the team, the story details daily incidents of scare tactics and sexual assault bordering on rape.

In the darkness, a freshman football player would be pinned to the locker-room floor, his arms and feet held down by multiple upperclassmen. Then, the victim would be lifted to his feet while a finger was forced into his rectum. Sometimes, the same finger was then shoved into the freshman player’s mouth.

According to the parent, whose identity is being protected because the parent feared retribution against the family and the player, the routine was initiated when an upperclassman would enter the locker room and make a wolf call or howling noise.

“[For] 10 seconds, the lights would go off and they would grab a freshman and they would go on,” the parent said. “Right on the floor. … It was happening every day. They would get the freshmen.”

He added: “Kids would just sit around and witness [stuff] like this.”

In related news: DC NFL team considers name change to “Washington Jocks”

Stay tuned for further developments via Deadspin.

TDS/TCR (Ohio)


The Power of Christ compels you!

What an excellent day for an exorcism.

You would like that?


The Party’s Over

As I said when this broke, what I intend to do is live blog Larry Wilmore and list Colbert’s Late Show line up.  You don’t need to despair that the Sausage Grinder of Snark, a little segment of sanity, is going away.

The real news and next week’s guests below (fortunately Jon didn’t do an web exclusive extended segment with Bai).