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Author: Leslie Eastman

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Leslie Eastman

I am an Environmental Health and Safety Professional, as well as a science/technical writer for a variety of news and professional publications. I have been a citizen activist since 2009, and am one of the co-founders of the San Diego-based group, Southern California Tax Revolt Coalition.

One of the most troubling tendencies of the Obama Administration and their minions in the media is to relabel a problem, giving the appearance that solutions are on their way. Exhibit 1: An act of terror becomes a "man-caused disaster". Exhibit 2: The prohibition on the term "illegal alien". Now, the illness associated with a terrible pathogen is now being reclassified from "Ebola Virus Hemorrhagic Fever" to "Ebola Virus Disease". LI #08 Ebola VD This seems to be an attempt to lull people into a false sense of security, lumping it with other "Virus Diseases" like the flu and the common cold. I have taught bloodborne pathoghen safety from the early 1990's, when healthcare, security, and first-aid providers were worried about contracting AIDS. Ebola is rated as a class 4 pathogen because of its fatality rates in humans and the fact that there is no cure or treatment. It is, and remains, a "hemorrhagic fever". It did not stop being a Class 4 pathogen once it hit the Dallas hospital. The mechanism of attack, which includes destruction of the endothelial cells that weaken the blood vessels and cause excessive bleeding, has not changed. Once the blood vessels are weakened, a suite of devastating symptoms occurs, as noted in a Business Insider article published in July of this year.

I recently pondered: Is Hong Kong on brink of its own version of Tiananmen Square? Now, I think the answer is no. It appears the recent student-lead uprising is being handled by Hong Kong leaders the way many of our municipalities handled their "Occupy" events -- Wait until the residents tire of the disruptions, then sweep the activists away.
Crowds of pro-democracy protesters thinned noticeably by Thursday morning after the Hong Kong government adopted a more conciliatory stance of trying to wait out the demonstrators. Downtown streets that had been fairly crowded on previous nights began to empty late Wednesday, as many went home after days outdoors in heat that had been sweltering even by Hong Kong’s tropical standards. But many predicted that crowds would build again later on Thursday, as demonstrators returned after showers, sleep and hot meals. “Compared to yesterday morning, I think there is a smaller crowd,” Venus Wong, a 22-year-old office worker, said as she sat in front of the local government headquarters with two friends, eating a McDonald’s breakfast at midmorning. “But I think more people will come back later in the day.”
These demonstrations---collectively known as the "Umbrella Revolution", a nod to the umbrella's use in protecting people from the effects of tear gas---decry Beijing's control over the slate of Hong Kong chief executive candidates for 2017, and have been bolstered by outside contributions from Anonymous:
The "hacktivist" group Anonymous sent this video to News2share early Wednesday morning, apparently declaring a cyber-war against Hong Kong for the treatment of protestors there. The group has already defaced several Hong Kong-based websites, and promised that dozens more would be affected over the next few days.

A man traveling from Liberia in West Africa to Dallas, Texas has been diagnosed with Ebola, becoming the first patient to present with the disease on US soil. CDC and local Texas health officials emphasized in a news conference today that they anticipate that the disease will be readily contained.
The first Ebola case has been diagnosed in the United States, but a top health official said today there is "no doubt... we will stop it here." Dr. Tom Frieden, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the patient left Liberia on Sept 10 and arrived in the U.S. on Sept. 20. The patient sought medical help on Sept. 27 and was put in isolation on Sept. 28, Frieden said. Tests confirming the Ebola diagnosis came back today. The White House said President Obama was briefed about the patient by Frieden. Frieden stressed that the patient was not sick on departure from Liberia or upon arrival in the U.S. and the disease can only be contracted by someone exhibiting symptoms of the disease. Frieden said he was confident there would not be an Ebola outbreak in the U.S. "There is no doubt in my mind we will stop it here," he said.

My stepdaughter, a graduate of UCLA with a degree in Chinese, works in Beijing. Today, she has been regularly protesting updates via Facebook on the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, and confirms that tear gas is being used to disperse the massive crowds.
Tens of thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators are surging through the streets of Hong Kong to protest against Beijing’s influence over how the semi-autonomous territory elects its top officials. Police used several rounds of tear gas to scatter the mostly peaceful crowds that had blocked one of Hong Kong’s main thoroughfares in the early evening. But protestors did not disperse entirely. Earlier today, pro-democracy group Occupy Central announced the beginning of a civil disobedience campaign intended to disrupt Asia’s largest financial center until its demands for free elections are met. The campaign, originally planned for October, is riding a wave of momentum following a sit-in over the weekend where televised clashes between police and students, some of whom were pepper sprayed, prompted city residents to rally in support of the students. Organizers say that around 60,000 demonstrators were on the streets today, media reports put that number at 30,000, and police have not given an estimate.

I have been following the outbreak of Enterovirus 68 closely. An awful trait of pathogens is that the more rapidly they spread, the nastier their health effects can become. It appears Enterovirus 68 may be following this pattern. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is checking into reports that limb weakness and paralysis in nine children may be related to the far-reaching outbreak of the respiratory disease.
The CDC released a statement today saying nine children in Denver had reported a neurologic illness that led to some limb weakness or paralyzation. All of the children had reported having a kind of respiratory virus before showing symptoms of limb weakness. Six of the eight children tested were found to be positive for a rhinovirus or enterovirus and four of those cases were found to be the Enterovirus 68. The other two cases were still pending. Dr. Larry Wolk, the chief medical officer and executive director for Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, said that the children affected range in age from 1 to 18, with an average age of 10. "It is a spectrum of arm or leg weakness that can be as mild weakness or as severe as paralysis," Wolk said. "What ties them all together though are findings of spots or lesions in the grey matter of the spinal cord on MRI scans."

Remember when the worst infection Americans had to worry about was a bad flu? As I reported last week, Enterovirus 68 with its potentially devastating respiratory symptoms is still spreading among American children. An outbreak has now been reported in San Diego county:
California’s first cases of a virus that has been spreading across the country were confirmed Thursday by the state’s chief health official. Four cases of enterovirus D68 have been confirmed, all in Southern California. One was in Ventura County; three others were in San Diego County. The patients ages ranged from 2 to 13 years old. More instances of the disease were expected as results from lab tests come back, the California Department of Public Health said in announcing the cases.
So far, 175 cases have been formally reported, with newly documented occurrences in West Virgina. Meanwhile, there has been a troubling infectious disease development in a Texas hospital involving newborns:

Last week, there were dozens of stories about American children flooding emergency rooms in 10 states; they were infected with a cold-like virus that devastated their respiratory systems. This week, the list of states reporting cases of the virus, now classified as Enterovirus D68, has risen to 12:
Since mid-August, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed more than 100 cases of Enterovirus D68 in 12 states: Alabama, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, New York and Oklahoma.

Yet the real number of severe respiratory illnesses caused by this virus is probably even higher, the CDC says.

Enterovirus D68 is related to the common cold virus. However, children who have asthma face potentially life-threatening symptoms without the proper treatment. Additionally, there are indications that the virus is already impacting other states beyond the 12 formally recorded.
The respiratory virus that’s been sweeping the nation and sending asthmatic children to the hospital may have only been officially reported in 97 children, but experts say that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Dr. Claudia Hoyen said the virus, called enterovirus D68, probably affected thousands of children -- and that’s just in Cleveland, where she works. The virus has been reported in 21 states, according to state health departments. At UH Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital in Cleveland, about 20 children normally go to the intensive care unit each month with respiratory symptoms, said Hoyen, who heads the hospital’s pediatric infection control program. But for the last two months, the hospital’s intensive care unit has treated 80 children per month, she said. The rare enterovirus starts out like the common cold but can quickly turn more serious -- especially in children with asthma. Enteroviruses often appear in the summer and fall, but an outbreak like this hasn’t occurred since the 1960s, Hoyen said.

We have been chronicling the journey of California's vaunted "high speed train" construction project, which has been anything but speedy. When we last checked, Sacramento judge Michael Kenney had wisely ruled that state officials cannot pursue a plan to tap billions of dollars in voter-approved bond funding for construction---a decision that could cause indefinite delays in the massive $68 billion project. It looked like the project was poised to be derailed. In July of this year, however, the Third Appellate District Court ruled that the "voters clearly intended to place the Authority in a financial straitjacket by establishing a mandatory multistep process to ensure the financial viability of the project." But then the panel decided to allow the plan to move forward. The Wall Street Journal editorial board took exception to this seemingly questionable ruling:
The court could require the authority to redo its plan, but the judges say that would be unnecessary since the Director of Finance must still approve a rigorous final plan before the authority can spend the bond revenue. In other words, the law's procedural requirements don't matter. Yet the bond referendum had ordered a preliminary plan for legislative review precisely so lawmakers could force the rail authority to address their concerns before appropriating the bonds. This added a modicum of political accountability. So here we have the spectacle of legislators ignoring the very taxpayer protections that they had used to gull voters into approving a ballot measure that might never have passed without those protections. The lesson is that politicians will grab any new power or spending authority voters give them. They'll blow through the caveats and dare voters to sue to stop them.

With all the crises we report on daily, it is easy to lose track of one....so, I thought it would be wise to review the situation related to Ebola, which was the American press panic flavor-of-the-month in August. It looks like another American is heading toward the Emory University medical facilities for treatment:
A fourth American who contracted Ebola in West Africa was expected to arrive in the U.S. for care Tuesday and will be treated at an Atlanta hospital where two other aid workers successfully recovered from the disease, the hospital said Monday.
The other three patients appear to be recovering from their infections at this point. I suspect the quality of medical care here is still higher than in in West Africa (even in the wake of Obamacare). Koby Sebastian Spio-Garbrah, Global Managing Director at DaMina Advisors, indicates that the doctor-patient ratios may be key in predicting the spread of the disease:
An analysis of a basic global healthcare metric - doctor-patient-ratios - may be the key in helping identify the next most vulnerable West African states to the ongoing Ebola outbreak. Unsurprisingly, Liberia and Sierra Leone, which have remained the epicenters of the pandemic, have the worst doctor-patient ratios in West Africa, at over 86,000 patients-per-1-doctor in Liberia, and 45,000 patients-per-1-doctor in Sierra Leone. Nigeria, which has lately received a lot of media attention ironically has the best doctor-patient ration of any West African state and is probably the least vulnerable during this outbreak. Due to climatic factors connected to the epidemiology of Ebola, the northern arid West African states of Mali, Burkina Faso, Chad or Mauritania are unlikely to see any major outbreaks. However the tropical coastal states, whose porous land borders adjoin Liberia and Sierra Leone, remain very vulnerable.
A good video review of the situation comes from Paper News TV:

The police of the California city of Richmond are waging a social media war against prostitution...one that fans of "pet shaming" pictures on Facebook will recognize.
When a man is caught soliciting a prostitute, the punishment police hand out is usually far less than what they will find at home when their wife or girlfriend find out. So police in California are using the tactic of shaming Johns by posting their pictures online, in hopes the embarrassment being shared with the public will be enough to curb prostitution.
It appears that the tactic is meeting with initial success. In a video report from KTVU Channel 10 News, Jim Sciarroni, who owns an auto body shop near a hot-spot for prostitution, says that since the department started posting the pictures on their Facebook page: "Traffic has slowed down, there's very few that come by here during the day. The traffic on Ohio has quieted down." Local news has this video report:

As I noted in my June election report, Governor Jerry Brown will be facing Republican challenger Neel Kashkari in California's gubernatorial race. There one and only debate between them was held Thursday. Prior to the event, conservatives in California were wondering if, given the fact Brown holds a tremendous lead in the polls, Kashkari would decide to throw caution to the win and aggressively attack Brown's recent record in office. After a slow start, it appears that the answer was yes:
Gov. Jerry Brown's long-shot Republican challenger blasted him for failing to do enough to land a Tesla battery plant Thursday during the only scheduled debate of this year's governor's race, a testy, hour-long exchange.
It appears that was a winning approach, as word of Kashkari's excellent performance spread through the world of social media on Friday.

Professor Jacobson just noted that voter intensity is likely to be a critical factor in the 2014 elections this November. However, I assert that a petition drive being held in San Diego, focused on revoking the City Council's minimum wage mandate, shows that voters are quite intense right now.   Given the complete collapse of effective national policy on either foreign or domestic matters, I believe the drama that is occurring shows that citizens are desperate for some control over the increasing chaos in their lives. Following the questionable lead of progressive cities like Los Angeles, earlier this summer the City Council voted to increase the minimum wage to $9.75 in January, $10.50 in January 2016 and $11.50 in January 2017.  Our newly elected mayor, Kevin Faulconer, vetoed it; however, this veto was over-ridden on August 18. At that point, fresh from the success of the petition drives organized to remove our previous mayor, Bob Filner (facing numerous sexual harassment charges), members of the San Diego community organized.

Watching the press conference that President Obama gave yesterday in which he revealed that his foreign policy has devolved from "don't do stupid stuff" to "no strategy," I was perplexed that the media was complaining more about the color of the suit instead of its emptiness. Mulling over the subsequent coverage, I couldn't help but wonder what the upcoming September 11th would bring for our country, because our enemies are clearly inspired by weakness. Now Judicial Watch has revealed that Islamic terrorist groups are operating Mexico and plan to attack the United States along our southern border.
Specifically, Judicial Watch sources reveal that the militant group Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) is confirmed to now be operating in Juarez, a famously crime-infested narcotics hotbed situated across from El Paso, Texas. Violent crimes are so rampant in Juarez that the U.S. State Department has issued a number of travel warnings for anyone planning to go there. The last one was issued just a few days ago.

As I was enjoying the history and the beauty of Virginia on the last day of our family vacation, a significant earthquake struck Northern California. The aftershocks are continuing from the magnitude 6.0 shaker that caused over 200 injuries, mainly lacerations and bruises from falling debris. Most tragically, because of where the epicenter was located, a lot of fine wine was destroyed. You would think Californians recognize that our state has had a long history of major earthquakes, including the famous 1906 catastrophe and the destructive Loma Prieta quake in 1989, and that this is a reasonably anticipated hazard associated with life in the tectonically active Pacific Rim. And you would be wrong. It seems that global warming is at the center of every natural disaster. Here is the current theory being offered: Global warming has caused the drought (ignoring California's long history of drought cycles). The evaporation of water as a result of higher temperatures has made the crust lighter. So our state's surface rose, which caused the earthquake. Sadly, some California citizens believe this inanity.

While many Legal Insurrection fans may disagree with my assessment of the limited risk that the two American Ebola patients are to our country, my basic point is sound:  The uncontrolled entry of people infected with much easier to transmit and more common pathogens should be the main focus of concern. As my compatriot Bruce Carroll brilliantly noted, the "CDC’s selective information dumps mirrors how the rest of the Obama Administration has been less than transparent." Furthermore, the only consistent policy approach of the White House is: ""You never let a serious crisis go to waste." With this in mind, what better way to create fear in order to hide policy disasters and to distract people from the news of worldwide chaos then to focus on a devastating disease that is nearly 100% fatal? Cue Tom Frieden, the head of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Ebola's spread to the United States is "inevitable" due to the nature of global airline travel, but any outbreak is not likely to be large, US health authorities said Thursday. Already one man with dual US-Liberian citizenship has died from Ebola, after becoming sick on a plane from Monrovia to Lagos and exposing as many as seven other people in Nigeria.

Stoking racial tension against Israel has been a foundation of the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions movement in the U.S. One pro-Israel student is having none of it. Chloé Simone Valdary is an outspoken pro-Israel student, who is a shining star in the fight against BDS on campus. She is so effective that, during a recent pro-Israel rally in Boston, Chloé was physically assaulted by a woman carrying a pro-BDS poster, who insisted that Jerusalem would be cleansed of Jews: It seems the example of leftist "tolerance" has not dampened Chloé's pro-Israel activism in the slightest. Chloé has  a brilliant and devastating piece in Tablet, which decries the misuse and distortions of the real, historical racism experienced by blacks in this country by pro-Palestinian student groups (via Tammy Bruce).
To the Students for Justice in Palestine, a Letter From an Angry Black Woman The student organization Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) is prominent on many college campuses, preaching a mantra of “Freeing Palestine.” It masquerades as though it were a civil rights group when it is not. Indeed, as an African-American, I am highly insulted that my people’s legacy is being pilfered for such a repugnant agenda. It is thus high time to expose its agenda and lay bare some of the fallacies they peddle.

As an environmental health and safety professional who has written a book about "bloodborne pathogens," such as the Ebola virus, I read with both interest and alarm Bruce Carrol's post, No concerns here: Ebola patients headed to Georgia. Shortly after writing that book, I was hired by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta to present a safety training program. While I was there, I was privileged to tour their containment facilities, which were highly impressive. The personnel in charge of running those facilities were also (and remain), highly trained, very professional, and have well placed pride in their innovative and protective measures. I would like to give you an idea of what goes into a BioSafety Level 4 Containment Facility, to which the Ebola-infected Americans are being sent:
  • The use of a positive pressure personnel suit, with a segregated air supply, is mandated.
  • Entrances and exits  contain multiple showers, a vacuum room, an ultraviolet light room, and other safety precautions designed to destroy all traces of the biohazard.
  • Multiple airlocks are employed and are electronically secured to prevent both doors from opening at the same time.
  • Members of the laboratory staff have extremely thorough training in handling extremely hazardous infectious agents, and have already had much experience in handling lower hazard biological agents.
  • The containment facility is either in a separate building or in a controlled area within a building, which is completely isolated from all other areas of the building.
For the very interested Legal Insurrection fan, more information is given here. In other words, if I were an American infected with Ebola, this is where I would want to be sent. The most knowledgeable medical experts on exotic infectious diseases are there and this facility is best equipped to stop the spread of the pathogen to anyone else.
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