AMERICA’S GREAT EBOLA SCARE

Posted October 22, 2014 on 11:32 am | In the category Ebola, Election, Healthcare, Politics, Press | by Jeff

Arriving in Boston from Tanzania last Friday I was welcomed into a country caught in deep fright over a disease that had killed just one person in America – a visitor from Liberia who went to the emergency room of a Dallas hospital when he developed ebola symptoms. For whatever reason, the hospital staff misdiagnosed him, sent him home and a few days later he was back with a full blown case of a disease that killed him. It is apparent that an earlier correct diagnosis would have increased his chances, but of course, mistakes do happen.

We had spent nearly three weeks in Africa and ebola had come up in conversation exactly once. People understood that Tanzania, located in East Africa, was some 4-5000 miles from the epicenter of the ebola outbreak and also understood that it was almost impossible to become infected without coming into contact with an infected patient’s bodily fluids. So Tanzanians were informed, behaving responsibly and showed no sign of panic. So just why is America in a frenzy over a disease that has been successfully treated in several American hospitals, has to date killed one person in the country and which has led medical authorities to take very aggressive quarantine steps for any person (or dog) that came into even casual contact with the patient or with the two hospital staff who unwittingly became infected while treating him.

I suppose there are many possible causes of the panic, but three factors seem especially relevant. First is basic ignorance and an unwillingness to learn about the disease by simply reading responsible press reports or listening to the many medical experts who have addressed the issue on radio and tv. Second is the predictably poor performance of much of the press in reporting on the disease, all too frequently emphasizing the dramatic nature of the many deaths in West African countries that have extremely poor medical systems. A third reason – and the one that is almost scandalous in its self-serving irresponsibility – is the use of the issue in the political campaigns for next month’s midterm elections.

Republicans and America’s courtier press have managed to blame President Obama for everything from the civil war in Syria to the failed democracy in Libya, to the corruption in Ukraine, to the failed democracy in Egypt, ad infinitum. Too much of the press carries these rants with a straight face and enough of the people buy it to give it legs. So, we now have Americans hiding under their beds to escape a disease that is largely restricted to the African continent while our Republican leaders (sic) blame Obama for not stopping a disease that basically does not exist in America. Meanwhile a teacher in Maine is put on leave because he flew on a plane that previously had carried a woman that once upon a time had come into contact with the Liberian patient. Three Oklahoma students returned from a trip to Ethiopia, where there are no reported cases of ebola, and have been refused entry into school. Syracuse University barred a Washington Post reporter from a conference because he had done some reporting from Liberia; he had been cleared of any signs of ebola. A Mississippi school had been closed because its principle had been to Zambia, an African country thousands of miles from the West Africa ebola outbreak. A Southwest Airlines flight captain in Orlando called in authorities to remove a person from the plane because he had been in West Africa in late August (the incubation rate is 21 days and he proved to be healthy).

Last night Massachusetts has-been Scott Brown, who has moved to New Hampshire to run against Senator Jeanne Shaheen, joined a Republican national chorus and devoted a large part of a debate appearance to criticizing President Obama (and by implication Senator Shaheen) for not closing our borders to anyone coming from West Africa. The fact that that is a policy that no responsible health professional supports and that it is functionally not possible to accomplish did not deter Brown from trying to scare the bejesus out of the good folk in New Hampshire. Let’s hope the “live free or die” New Hampsherites come out from under their beds and send Brown home to Massachusetts.

2 Comments

Canada joins up

Posted October 12, 2014 on 5:52 pm | In the category Canada, Iraq, Taxes | by Mackenzie Brothers

No doubt it was no big story out in the big world when Canada’s ruling conservative government – with both main opposition parties opposing – announced last week that they would seven jets to the Middle East, as well as small number of elite troops as advisors,  to join the US-led t multi-national attempt to stop ISIS from taking control of a large swath of the Middle East, murdering many thousands of civilians on their way. After all a number of other NATO countries had already done so, some middleweights – Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, along with Australia, and a number of smaller Middle East countries,- along with supposed NATO heavyweights like Germany, the UK and France, even Turkey, although its motives seem very complicated and unclear.

A number of these countries, including Canada, refused to join the US campaign in Iraq 15 years ago, and it seems certain that none of them regret that decision. So what has changed , since it’s also clear that, at least in Canada, a majority of the pubic support the decision to send in jets against ISIS in 2014?   It seems certain that the main difference is that, while  for many back then there was wide-spread skepticism (as it turned out completely justified) about US claims that the Iraqui government had devastating weapons that it was ready to employ, while there is no question at all about whether ISIS has tremendous military and monetary resources – much of it stolen from deserting opposition armies – and is capable of using it in the most brutal fashion. There is also a religious element this time – ISIS threatens and kills the remaining Christians and other minority religious and ethnic groups.  This time is also a domestic one – ISIS ha successfully recruited its killers in all the western countries involved in the coalition and has threatened violence against these same countries. Canada is in this one, whether it like it or not.

5 Comments

Powered by WordPress with Pool theme design by Borja Fernandez.
Entries and comments feeds. Valid XHTML and CSS. ^Top^