American Elephants


Everything You Need To Know About Obama’s Response to Ebola: by The Elephant's Child

Judicial Watch, the public watchdog group, says that the president is “actively formulating plans” to admit Ebola-infected non-citizens to the United States just to be treated. “Specifically, the goal of the administration is to bring Ebola patients into the U.S. for treatment within the first days of diagnosis.

President Obama issued an executive order to call up National Guard and Reserve troops to aid in halting the spread of Ebola in west Africa for Operation United Assistance.

About 500 military personnel in Liberia have erected a 25-bed hospital, and are living in local hotels as they build accommodations for  the 4,000 troops on the way.

Deployed troops have received about four hours of training in protocols for protection from Ebola. They will not be expected to come into contact with any Ebola patients, so haz-mat suits are not considered necessary. A team of two from the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRID)can train as many as 50 personnel over that four-hour time frame. All training is tiered to the level of risk each person may encounter.

If any American soldiers in Liberia contract the deadly Ebola virus, they will be quarantined, stabilized and evacuated to a medical facility for treatment, according to the commander of Operation United Assistance, Major General Darryl Williams, commander of U.S. Army Africa.

“The risk of infection is relatively low,” he said.”As long as you exercise basic sanitation and cleanliness sort of protocols using the chlorine wash on your hands and your feet, get your temperature taken, limiting the exposure — no handshaking, those short of protocols , I think the risk is relatively low,” explained the general.

Seems to me there’s a remarkable lot of  “but what if” hanging around in those bits of information. But there you are.



Staying Off the Golf Course Would Be Good Public Relations. by The Elephant's Child

President Obama’s weekly address was meant to be a calming message about the threat of Ebola. Didn’t work. Mr. Obama seems to think we are in a state of panic about Ebola, and think we are in the midst of an epidemic. We’re not. We are worried because our elected officials, including our president, and appointed officials can’t seem to talk straight about the disease. Reminding us that “our public health experts point out, every year thousands of Americans die from the flu,” is not particularly helpful. Thousands of Africans die from Malaria because they are not allowed to spray their huts with DDT. That’s not helpful either. It has no bearing on this particular disease.

“Ebola is actually a difficult disease to catch. It’s not transmitted through the air like the flu. You cannot get it from just riding on a plane or a bus.” Well, no, it’s not difficult to catch. We have two nurses who have contracted it while they believed they were following the proper protocols. The hospital just hadn’t figured them out. It is transmitted through the air. Sneezing or coughing transmit bodily fluids in very tiny droplets that can remain in the air.  It can be transmitted through sweat left on airplane armrests, lavatory faucets or bus seats.

That was Obama’s second point. “Third,” he said, “we know how to fight this disease. We know the protocols.”Well, no. We’re learning all the time. 21 days may not be a long enough isolation period. Temperature checks at the airport are probably useless. Teaching people about the protocols may not be enough to overcome natural human carelessness. U.S standards for protecting healthcare workers from Ebola are weaker than those widely used in West Africa, according to the vice president of the aid group Samaritan’s Purse.

When Samaritan’s Purse health workers treat patients in Liberia, they wear two pairs of gloves and spray themselves with disinfectant twice before leaving the isolation ward. They have a three-foot “no touch” policy and hold safety meetings every day.

In U.S. hospitals — such as Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas, which has had three cases of Ebola — workers don’t have to hose down their gear and are told it’s OK for gloves to expose their wrists.

“If you slip, and you touch your skin on the wrist, you’re going to get Ebola,” said Isaacs, who has worked on-the-ground disaster relief in countries like Haiti, the Philippines and Bosnia. “Can we trust CDC? They said they were going to stop it in its tracks, but I don’t know.”

Does that sound like Ebola is “actually a difficult disease to catch?” Dr. Tom Frieden, the director of the CDC, has said “any hospital with an intensive care unit” can stop the disease from spreading. The CDC still does not know how the two nurses became infected. Frieden seems torn between trying to pacify politicians and pacifying the people. He must be the source for Obama’s confusion.

The Nurses union, National Nurses United, has been fiercely critical of the hospital this week, saying that the disease spread because of poor training and incompetent management. One nurse said she watched people at her hospital violate basic principles of nursing and medical care. Potentially exposed nurses would go into other patients rooms without disinfectants. All nurses should have been constantly monitored for 21 days because of exposure to Duncan.

President Obama’s Weekly Address is here. What is clear is that he takes as gospel the information he is given, and does not do any further inquiry on his own. Dr. Frieden  is not keeping up with the toilers in the fields of Ebola Central. The next post that pops up after the one about Samaritan’s Purse is from the CDC: “Airborne Ebola possible but unlikely.” Perhaps I misunderstand the meaning of airborne contagion. If it is not sneezes and coughs — what is airborne?

President Obama is so concerned that he spent only five hours on the golf course today, and held a nighttime Ebola meeting, the second in the last few days. His new appointee as Ebola Response Coordinator, Ron Klain, didn’t attend either meeting. Neither did the Ebola Czar, Dr. Nicole Lurie, who remains invisible.

The meeting included members of his national security and public health teams to update him on the response to the domestic Ebola cases. Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Kent Sepkowitz called the selection of Ron Klain as “stagecraft and politics.” He said it was disappointing that this was becoming, not a public health issue, but an optics “how are we going to look?’ issue, and ‘what’s it going to mean to the Senate races? issue.” Dr. Sepkowitz is, at least, clear on the priorities.



Here’s Some Good News For a Change! by The Elephant's Child

The price of crude oil is tumbling downward towards $80 per barrel. The Brent crude price of $82.60 is the cheapest since 2010.”On October 1, Saudi Arabia’s  national oil company announced that it had abandoned a policy of price protection and would start to focus on protecting its market share. Combined with falling global demand and rising supplies elsewhere, oil prices have fallen accordingly.

Natural gas supplies are plentiful and warm weather so far means weak demand, which means lower costs for natural gas.

For our fracking, the break-even price is around $50-$70 bbl. Supply is bulging. Gasoline prices will come down, transportation prices will come down, which means that costs at the grocery store will ease.

States like Iran, Venezuela, and Iraq can only balance their budgets at oil prices ranging from $110 to $135 per barrel. This is good. If oil prices stay below $90 per barrel for any length of time, there will be real financial squeezes, and even regime change in Iran, Bahrain, Ecuador, Venezuela, Algeria, Nigeria, Iraq or Libya and would give Vladimir Putin some real trouble. Couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch.

It’s not clear what Saudi Arabia is up to, but they are definitely not approving of Iran’s nuclear ambitions, nor of ISIS’ ambitions either. They may be just protecting their market share, as we are close to surpassing them in production.

If we start exporting natural gas to Europe, that would relax the strangle hold Russia holds over their energy supplies.

It’s good news, just when we need some.



The Friday Night News Dump. Terrifying Incompetence. by The Elephant's Child

Late on Fridays, when everyone is on the way home, getting ready for the weekend and not paying attention to the news is the time that the powers that be in our nation’s capitol choose to allow unpleasant news to emerge.

—Friday night news: President is sending the National Guard to Ebola Central, apparently because the Military isn’t stopping Ebola fast enough. The Military sent so far, have had 4 hours of training in preparation for possible exposure. The expedition to Ebola Central has a name now—”Operation United Assistance.”

—DHS announced that it will be extending Temporary Protected Status to nationals from Honduras and Nicaragua for an additional 18 months and is instituting a new program to bring up to 100,000 Haitians to this country. The program will allow the new immigrants to apply for work permits. The “legal authority” is “family unification” for Haitians and on a case by case basis for “urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit.”

—Judicial Watch says that Obama plans to transfer Ebola-Infected foreigners to U.S. for treatment. This is one of those they have information from insiders, but no confirmation, and certainly no official confirmation.

—The World Health Organization reported a rash of cases of Ebola in Guinea on March 25th, the first ever seen in west Africa. At that time there were 86 suspected cases and reports of suspected cases in Sierra Leone and Liberia. The death toll was 60. Today it has claimed more victims than all previous outbreaks. The current death toll is 4,493, and the WHO fears that it could see 5,000 to 10,000 new cases a week.

—A seventh child has died from Enterovirus D68. So far we have only one death from Ebola. Unlike Ebola, CDC is not publicly addressing the spread of EV-D68. According to the latest update at least 796 people in 46 states have been sickened with the respiratory illness that can cause paralysis in the period from mid-August through October 16. It is simply not known if  the disease is being spread by the presence of tens of thousands of illegal alien children, but the virus has been found in sick people in eight Latin American countries.

—The Pentagon has released a wide-ranging plan to ensure the U.S. military can adapt to and operate in a warmer world caused by climate change, which top Defense officials say exacerbates conflicts around the world and is an immediate threat to U.S. national security. This was last week, but it is so goofy, I’m adding it to the list. There has been no warming for the last 18 full years. Over the past century it warmed about one degree, and we handled it just fine. We are now looking at the possibility of a colder world for which we are drastically unprepared as this administration keeps attempting to destroy our major power source, coal-fired power plants which provide around 40% of our electricity with nothing to replace the power.

—Pilots from Saddam Hussein’s air force are training Islamic State jihadists to fly warplanes captured from the Iraqi army. Eyewitnesses accounts have seen warplanes taking off from the al Jarrah airbase and Syrian regime airbases in Aleppo and Al Raqqa province. The planes are believed to be MiG-21 and MiG-23 models and have been seen taking off and landing.

Other than that, Saturday is not all that promising either. Take two aspirin and relax with one of our Halloween movies.



Ron Klain Is Not “The Ebola Czar,” He’s “The Ebola Response Coordinator.” by The Elephant's Child

Correction: According to the White House, Ron Klain is not to be “the Ebola Czar.” He’s something else, and will report to Susan Rice. I do not find that encouraging. My impression is that Obama thinks Ebola is a political problem, probably created by Republicans, and he needs someone who is good at putting out political fires. If Susan Rice is an effective National Security adviser, It has not been evident in her public commentary nor in the Obama administration foreign policy.

President Obama is selling the new position as an “Ebola Response Coordinator” to restore order and manage operations across government. This would seem to require some familiarity with epidemiology and federal assets like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Mr. Klain’s resume does not extend much beyond his stints as chief of staff to Vice Presidents Al Gore and Joe Biden , unless you count his job quarterbacking the Solyndra fiasco as no big deal. …

Then again, anonymous White House aides are telling the press corps that Mr. Klain’s partisan skills as a fixer are a credential. This may be the best indication to date of how Mr. Obama regards the dangers of the Ebola crisis, with risks to his own approval ratings near the top. Maybe three-star commander Valerie Jarrett can next prosecute the air war against Islamic State, if she isn’t already.

Mr. Klain’s resume is not encouraging.. He is said to be bright, but deeply involved in the backroom politics of the Democrat Party. He has no medical or health care background, but is closely associated with the Democracy Alliance and the Center for American Progress Action Fund.

The statement of purpose for the appointment says he is “to restore order and manage operations” across government. I don’t know what “order” he is to restore, but operations seem not to need managing, but learning. American hospitals are unprepared to deal with just one patient, and the results of not understanding the protocols is a multiplication of patients. Obama just doesn’t get it at all.



Obama Misidentifies the Problem. Offers the Wrong Solution. by The Elephant's Child

The White House has appointed an Ebola Czar, apparently unaware that they already have an Ebola Czar — which is understandable since she, Nicole Lurie MD, MSPH did appear briefly on September 11 to tell the Washington Post that her office was diligently working with other federal agencies “to ensure that U.S. health care providers, hospitals, health clinics, emergency medical services…have the information they need to be prepared to identify and treat Ebola infections, in case anyone in the United States becomes sick after traveling from affected countries or from contact with infected individuals,”  but has otherwise been invisible.

White House petitions are exploding with people demanding a ban on travel to and from Ebola Central in West Africa. Obama’s nature is to assume this is a political problem and appoint a savvy political activist to manage affairs.

I don’t think the administration gets it. Most people are not alarmed about the possibility of catching Ebola. We are alarmed that the people who have been placed in charge of national preparation for a possible outbreak have not prepared. Hospitals may have received instructions, but they didn’t do anything. People in the know say that none of our hospitals are prepared for Ebola patients, which would seem to be confirmed that the two nurses who contracted Ebola have been transferred to Bethesda and Emory hospitals respectively, where they have the right kind of isolation for very small numbers of patients.

Most countries slapped on a travel ban in August, and their airlines don’t travel there. A ban is a ban on all travel. People have to have a passport to travel, so how do they “go underground?” The president’s objection makes no sense.

We have had one Ebola victim from west Africa, who lied to get here, knew he’d been exposed. We’ve had one Ebola death. From that one man, we have learned that the agencies in charge have squandered their funding on questionable grants, and though preparing America for just such an exigency is their one job — it didn’t get done. Yet they are attempting to blame Republicans for a non-existent lack of funding. Now we have two nurses with the virus, unknown numbers of people exposed, one exposed person isolated on a cruise ship — causing Mexico to refuse to allow the ship to dock there.

Our government has sent off 4,000 troops to deal with the epidemic in west Africa, with nobody knows what preparation, and now says they will send National Guard troops as well. The military usually takes good care of their people, but recent evidence of an inability to call terrorism by its name, inability to conduct air strikes in a significant manner, insistence that global warming is an urgent national security measure, and excessive evidence  that political correctness has become a guiding principle concerning the role of women in combat and questions of gender assignment leave us questioning the effectiveness of the Pentagon.

More and more people are being quarantined, the protocols that were “guaranteed” to protect Americans  are now being revised. Americans are not afraid of catching Ebola, or not yet. They are afraid that their government is lying to them and that their government is incompetent to deal with this kind of problem.

We have unaccompanied illegal alien children dispersed to every state in the Union, with evidence of Enterovirus D68 raging in the country. TB, which was no longer a problem in this country is back, and we don’t know what other diseases if any.

Ron-Klain-APRon Klain, President Obama’s new “Ebola Czar” is a skilled political operator. He has no background in medicine. We can assume his job is to assure the American people that the government is really, in spite of all evidence, competent. He’s there to put out the fires. We’ll see.



Ebola: What to Do, What Not to Do. Understanding the Problems. by The Elephant's Child

International agencies like the World Health Organization (WHO) run by the United Nations have become an international irrelevance. The failures of the Centers for Disease Control are disturbing, though they are supposed to be run by the government’s finest. Protocols supposedly put in place months ago were not observed, those exposed were “self monitoring” for symptoms. They weren’t supposed to be traveling on public transportation, and yet did. And it’s fairly clear that people possibly exposed were simply not taking quarantine seriously. Maybe seriously up until it was inconvenient, but then ignored.

There is a clear desire on the part of our government to prevent panic, but apparently little knowledge of how that is accomplished. Evidence that the agency has done their homework, and know what they are talking about is central. If people believe that you don’t know what you are talking about, your usefulness is over. Protocols that simply ask where people are coming from and take their temperature are, according to knowledgeable people, useless, since elevated temperatures are common and not diagnostic. The Wall Street Journal reports:

Since the 1990s, the WHO has gradually transformed itself from a disease fighter to what Dr. Chan calls “a normative agency” that makes international public health rules and promotes political goals like universal coverage. “That represented a very significant change over prior WHO policies,” says Laurie Garrett of the Council on Foreign Relations, who calls the WHO’s response to the epidemic “just shameful.”

Doctors without borders (Médicins Sans Frontiéres), the international aid agency, is recommended as having set the gold standard for Ebola safety, yet 16 of their staff members who have risked their lives in West Africa are infected, and nine have died. The U.S is providing $142 million in aid to the organization.

Paul Sperry reports at Investors that Muslim burial rituals may be to blame for much of the spread of Ebola. The body of an Ebola victim can be more dangerous in death than in life. 73% of Sierra Leone’s and 85% of Guinea’s people are Muslim. Islam is practiced by more than 13% of Liberians.

When a Muslim dies, family members do not turn to a funeral home or crematorium to take care of the body. Relatives personally wash the corpses of loved ones from head to toe. Several family members may participate in this posthumous bathing ritual, known as Ghusl.

Before scrubbing the skin with soap and water, family members press down on the abdomen to excrete fluids still in the body. A mixture of camphor and water is used for a final washing. Then, family members dry off the body and shroud it in white linens.

Again, washing the bodies of the dead in this way is considered a collective duty for Muslims, especially in Muslim nations. Failure to do so is believed to leave the deceased “impure” and jeopardizes the faithful’s ascension into Paradise (unless he died in jihad; then no Ghusl is required). Before the body is buried, Muslims attending the funeral typically pass a common bowl for use in ablution or washing of the face, feet and hands, compounding the risk of infection.

Though these customs are prescribed by Sharia law, they’re extremely dangerous and should be suspended. Mosque leaders must step in to educate village Muslims about the dangers of interacting with corpses.

The practice has led to the spread of the disease. Families must be helped to understand why some practices cannot be done because they place others at risk.

Last month, Red Cross workers in Guinea were attacked by family members while trying to bury Ebola dead safely. In Sierra Leone, moreover, a family took Ebola-ridden bodies secured in body bags from the Red Cross, opened them up and exposed all members of the family to Ebola. They all contracted the disease.

The UN warns that the spread must be contained within 60 days or the infection rate can jump from 1,000 a week to 10,000 a week. Saudi Arabia, the center of Islam,  has banned pilgrims from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

President Obama argues that  ban on travel would do more harm than good, because travelers “might go underground.” Now he’s talking about sending National Guard troops in addition to the 4.000 U.S. Military already there. The military had better take very great care of our troops, and see that none get infected.

 




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