ENEWSPF News http://www.enewspf.com/ Sat, 25 Oct 2014 06:59:36 GMT FeedCreator 1.8.0-dev (info@mypapit.net) Ebola: Doctors Without Borders Urges Immediate Action on Vaccines and Treatments for Frontline Workers http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/56320-ebola-doctors-without-borders-urges-immediate-action-on-vaccines-and-treatments-for-frontline-workers.html
An MSF staff member examines a young patient at the Guéckédou Ebola case management center in Guinea. Julien Rey/MSF

Geneva—(ENEWSPF)--October 24, 2014.  Following a high-level meeting on access and funding for Ebola vaccines convened yesterday by World Health Organization (WHO), Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has urged that plans to get forthcoming Ebola vaccines and treatments to frontline workers must be rapidly implemented. Significant investment and incentives are needed now to accelerate these steps.

“The message we heard from WHO that the people fighting the epidemic will be among the first to test Ebola vaccines and treatments is exactly the one we needed to hear,” said Dr. Bertrand Draguez, medical director for MSF. “Now urgent action is needed to get those promises delivered in West Africa as soon as possible. This needs to be followed by massive roll out of vaccines to the general population once their efficacy is proven.”

“It crucial that people from Ministries of Health, aid agencies, and communities who are holding the response to the epidemic together, and ensuring access to essential health care, are protected,” Dr. Draguez added. “Resources everywhere are stretched to almost breaking point; everyone is at capacity, but it is extremely hard for the people treating and sustaining the response to do it with absolutely no safety net. Safe and effective treatments and vaccines could offer just that.”

"This outbreak is so unpredictable; we don’t know when it will end, we don’t know if new areas could be affected, we don’t know if there will be new outbreaks..."

Staff who should be prioritized to test the vaccines include health care workers, community workers, and people who support the Ebola response such as hygiene personnel, ambulance drivers, health promoters, contact tracers, and people in charge of funerals. Medical staff providing care for other diseases than Ebola should also be prioritized to receive test vaccines.

While the focus of the WHO meeting was on Ebola vaccines, new treatments and diagnostics for the disease are also urgently needed to allow people treating the epidemic to do their jobs effectively and efficiently.

“The rapid development and deployment of safe and effective experimental treatments is also critical,” said Dr. Draguez. “Today, doctors and nurses involved in the struggle against Ebola are getting more and more frustrated as they have no treatment for patients with a disease that kills up to 80 percent of them.”

The increased survival rate that treatments could bring could reduce the number of new infections as more people seek help. Meanwhile, safer and faster diagnostic tools will enable the rapid screening of patients for better and safer management of patients who need urgent, sometimes lifesaving, care for other diseases.

The meeting at WHO in Geneva, which was chaired by WHO director general Dr. Margaret Chan, brought together high-level representatives from government, industry, donors and medical responders and researchers. Topics covered included trial design and implementation, regulatory pathways, and financing and incentives for new vaccines. MSF, which was present at the meeting, has this week discharged its 1,000th patient to have survived the disease since it was the first to respond to the outbreak affecting West Africa in March 2014. MSF representatives deplored the lack of concrete decisions that were made during the meeting and warned delegates they would not be let off the hook from their responsibilities. While past promises of resources on the ground are slow to be fulfilled—and are urgently needed to be delivered—the need for vaccines and treatments that could prove the tipping point in this outbreak, and prevent future ones, is now critical.

"...vaccines and treatments then are crucial for curbing this epidemic and ensuring that future outbreaks are prevented or controlled."

“This outbreak is so unpredictable; we don’t know when it will end, we don’t know if new areas could be affected, we don’t know if there will be new outbreaks—vaccines and treatments then are crucial for curbing this epidemic and ensuring that future outbreaks are prevented or controlled,” said Dr. Manica Balasegaram, executive director of MSF’s Access Campaign. “We need governments and industry to play a key role; industry needs to take risks, but governments need to help incentivise and minimise these.”

Large-scale investment in all front-running vaccines, drugs, and diagnostics is vital and sufficient resources for clinical trials and post-trial access need to be mobilised by donors now. The scientific data generated for each product under clinical trials should be published in real time, and a pooled bank of samples should be established to facilitate open research. But the lack of approved Ebola products to this point highlights a key issue that must be urgently addressed; the lack of sufficient investment and incentives to develop them.

“Appropriate incentives that give industry a reason to develop these vital tools for Ebola are needed now—government and donors must line up to help here,” Dr. Balasegaram said. “We need researchers and developers to conduct clinical trials in parallel with scaling up production supply, which we know has its inherent risks. Governments and donors must help incentivise this risk, and the path to regulation in getting approved, safe and effective vaccines and treatments on the ground in West Africa needs to be a smooth one.”

Source: http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org

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shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Fri, 24 Oct 2014 23:11:26 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/56320-ebola-doctors-without-borders-urges-immediate-action-on-vaccines-and-treatments-for-frontline-workers.html
Study: Cannabis Use Not Associated With Deficits In Intelligence Quotient http://www.enewspf.com/opinion/analysis/56319-study-cannabis-use-not-associated-with-deficits-in-intelligence-quotient.html Washington, DC—(ENEWSPF)—October 24, 2014.

By: Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director

Moderate cannabis consumption by young people is not positively associated with changes in intelligence quotient (IQ), according to data presented this week at the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology annual congress in Berlin, Germany.

Investigators at the University College of London analyzed data from 2,612 subjects who had their IQ tested at the age of eight and again at age 15. They reported no relationship between cannabis use and lower IQ at age 15 when confounding factors such as subjects’ history of alcohol use and cigarette use were taken into account.

“In particular alcohol use was found to be strongly associated with IQ decline,” the authors wrote in a press release cited by The Washington Post. “No other factors were found to be predictive of IQ change.”

Quoted in the Independent Business Times, the study’s lead author said: “Our findings suggest cannabis may not have a detrimental effect on cognition, once we account for other related factors particularly cigarette and alcohol use. This may suggest that previous research findings showing poorer cognitive performance in cannabis users may have resulted from the lifestyle, behavior and personal history typically associated with cannabis use, rather than cannabis use itself.”

The investigators acknowledged that more chronic marijuana use, defined in the study as a subject’s admission of having consumed cannabis 50 times or more by age 15, was correlated with slightly poorer exam results at the age of 16 — even after controlling for other variables. However, investigators admitted: “It’s hard to know what causes what. Do kids do badly at school because they are smoking weed, or do they smoke weed because they’re doing badly?”

Commenting on the newly presented data, the meeting’s Chair, Guy Goodwin, from the University of Oxford, told BBC News: “This is a potentially important study because it suggests that the current focus on the alleged harms of cannabis may be obscuring the fact that its use is often correlated with that of other even more freely available drugs and possibly lifestyle factors.”

In a recent review published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the NIDA Director Nora Volkow alleged that cannabis use, particularly by adolescents, is associated with brain alterations and lower IQ. However, the IQ study cited by Ms. Volkow as the basis of her claim was later questioned in a separate analysis published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. That paper suggested that socioeconomics, not subjects’ cannabis use, was responsible for differences in IQ and that the plant’s “true effect [on intelligence quotient] could be zero.”

A previous assessment of cannabis use and its potential impact on intelligence quotient in a cohort of young people tracked since birth reported, “[M]arijuana does not have a long-term negative impact on global intelligence.”

Source: www.norml.org

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shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Fri, 24 Oct 2014 23:08:16 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/opinion/analysis/56319-study-cannabis-use-not-associated-with-deficits-in-intelligence-quotient.html
Ebola: Industry Leaders Meet to Discuss Vaccine Trials, as UN Agencies Continue Aid Push http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/56318-ebola-industry-leaders-meet-to-discuss-vaccine-trials-as-un-agencies-continue-aid-push.html
Clinical trials of this candidate Ebola vaccine will take place in the US, Germany, Gabon and Kenya. Photo: WHO/M. Missioneiro

GENEVA--(ENEWSPF)--24 October 2014 – The United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) has convened a meeting with top Government officials from Ebola-affected countries, regulatory agencies, vaccine manufacturers and funding agencies to discuss and agree how best to best fast-track testing and the deployment of vaccines in sufficient numbers to halt the spread of the deadly virus.

WHO said today that these vaccines are expected to have a major impact on further evolution of the epidemic, with trials already underway in the United States and soon to begin in Africa, Germany and Switzerland to determine safety, dosing and efficacy.

Participants at yesterday’s meeting agreed that the results from phase 1 clinical trials of most advanced vaccines are expected to be available in December 2014. Efficacy trials in accepted countries also will begin in this timeframe.

“As a group, we are accelerating in a matter of weeks a process that typically takes years, ensuring that safety and effectiveness remain the top priorities with production speed and capacity a close third,” says Marie-Paule Kieny, WHO assistant director general of health systems and innovation.

Meanwhile, pharmaceutical companies developing the vaccines committed to ramp up production capacity for millions of doses to be available in 2015, with 100,000 ready in the first half of the year. Regulatory authorities in countries where the vaccines are manufactured and in Africa are under extremely short deadlines to have vaccines approved.

Community engagement is also vital and work should be scaled up urgently in partnership between local communities, national governments, nongovernmental organizations and international organizations, WHO said.

Speaking to journalists in Geneva this morning, Mr. Fadéla Chaib, also for the WHO, confirmed the first Ebola case in Mali.

A two-year old girl fell sick on 20 October in Kayes, 600 km away from Bamako. Mr. Chaib said the little girl has since been transferred to a hospital after her treatment in a paediatric centre on 21 October. She had been had been travelling with her grandmother to Guinea.

Local authorities have identified 43 persons who had been in contact with the little girl and her grandmother, including 10 health care personnel who had taken care of the girl in the paediatric centre before her transfer to the hospital. Those contacts were under control and the paediatric centre had been disinfected.

On 19 October, WHO deployed a team to Mali and Côte d’Ivoire in order to prevent the spread of Ebola in the neighbouring countries. In the next 24 hours, WHO will send reinforcements to its team on the ground to help strengthen the local health care system.

Several other UN agencies and partners continue to deliver much-need assistance to the affected countries, including United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) who with its flights scheduled to arrive in Monrovia today and on 27 October, is delivering 5,976 Ebola protection kits - buckets, soap, gloves and garbage bags, as well as pharmaceuticals items.

UNICEF also increased its stock of body bags, bringing the number to 20,000 for adults and nearly 5,000 for children.

Also speaking to reporters in Geneva, a UN World Food Programme (WFP) spokesperson noted that if the Ebola epidemic lasts another 4-5 months, the 2015 harvest in the affected countries will be affected.

Elisabeth Byrs said that in October, WFP in Guinea distributed supplies to 186,000 people in areas of widespread and intense transmission across the country. The previous week in Liberia, WFP had distributed 2,430 metric tons of food to about 144,600 people in eight counties. WFP had also increased its October distribution target in the country by 35 percent and aimed to reach 270,000 people this month.

In Sierra Leone, WFP had started constructing Forward Logistics Bases in Port Loko, Makeni and Kenema. The required equipment for the establishment of the bases had arrived in the country.

More funds are urgently needed, however, to keep the assistance coming. Ms. Byrs specified that the WFP’s current Emergency Operation had a total requirement of almost $93 million with a funding shortfall of 48 per cent.

For its Special Logistics Operation, WFP still required 87 percent of the $87 million. Jens Laerke, for the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), specified that out of the total requested $988 million needed for the overall Ebola response, $488 million had been provided thus far.

Meanwhile at Headquarters in New York, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon hosted a global Town Hall this morning to brief staff members on measures being taken to protect them from Ebola.

The UN chief stressed that the UN has an obligation to the affected countries to end the epidemic and, at the same time, an obligation to protect its personnel.

The UN message must be based on facts and evidence conveying a sense of urgency without inciting panic, Mr. Ban stressed.

In other news, the head of the United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER) today wrapped up his visits to the three West African countries battling the Ebola outbreak as part of the Organization’s ongoing efforts to drum up international support in tackling the deadly crisis.

Speaking to the press in the Liberian capital, Monrovia, Anthony Banbury said it was clear that the governments had plans in place in each of the countries and that much good work had been done by those Governments and their partners, “but as a ‘crisis manager’, it’s always necessary to have a clear understanding of what needs to be done, what are the resources to do it, and are the resources coming online.”

So, following what he called a “gap analysis” in Accra over the weekend, he had immediately begun another round of consultations with the Governments of hard hit Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia on how UNMEER could be most helpful. “I also wanted to have a sense of how things were going in a country…It is important we are always in a learning mode so that we can adjust our operations where appropriate.”

In Liberia – his second visit to the country since being named UNMEER chief – he had visited Tubmangerg, a town north-west of Monrovia to see the Ebola treatment unit being built by the Armed Forces of Libera (AFL) with the support of United States military. Praising the dedicated and speedy work of the AFL, Mr. Banbury said Facility was nearly complete and medical staff was shortly expected to arrive to begin testing at the facility.

Nevertheless, he said, there are “very, very serious challenges ahead of us we need to work very hard to get them under control although we are seeing some areas where the level of crisis is lessoning, which is incredibly encouraging.”

Indeed, he said that as he walked around the town, he saw that “normal life is continuing in Monrovia for a lot of people.” Yet for others, “it is a terrible crisis and we have to work really hard to get that crisis under control and to allow all Liberians and all the people of this region and indeed the world to live their lives without fear that Ebola will cause any member of their family to fall ill.”

Addressing the press alongside Peter Jan Graaff as Ebola Crisis Manager for Liberia, and Richard Ragan, Mr. Banbury explained that UNMEER had one priority: to support Government effort to stop Ebola as quickly as possible. “We are working on this very, very hard together with others and …working together we are going to get this job done, hopefully sooner rather than later. The crisis will end and Liberia will continue to be able to build the society it wants to build.”

Source: un.org

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shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Fri, 24 Oct 2014 23:03:47 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/56318-ebola-industry-leaders-meet-to-discuss-vaccine-trials-as-un-agencies-continue-aid-push.html
After Congressional Hearing on Ebola Prep. National Nurses Say Mandate for Hospitals Still Needed http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/56317-after-congressional-hearing-on-ebola-prep-national-nurses-say-mandate-for-hospitals-still-needed.html NNU co-president Deborah Burger, RN testifies before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform

Silver Spring, Maryland--(ENEWSPF)--October 24, 2014.  Following a Congressional hearing Friday morning in Washington on Ebola and the latest confirmed Ebola patient in New York Thursday, National Nurses United said a major gap remains in U.S. preparedness – the failure of the federal government, both Congress and the White House, to mandate all hospitals to implement the highest standards and protocols to protect nurses, other health workers and the public.

NNU, represented in the hearing by co-president Deborah Burger, RN, expressed thanks to committee chair Rep. Darrell Issa of California and Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland for convening the hearing, and especially Cummings for pressing NNU's call for a mandate. Afterwards, NNU stressed here must be no more delays.

“We are not interest in more communication between various agencies. We are solely interested in a mandate directing every hospital, every U.S. health facility, to immediately implement the optimal precautions, in both personal protective equipment and proper training,” said NNU Executive Director RoseAnn DeMoro.

“An ‘abundance of caution,’ which we heard advocated in the hearing, has little meaning in the absence of the clout of an enforcement mechanism. It is unconscionable that the hospitals do not have the optimal standards and protocols already in place to protect our caregivers – and that our top representatives in both branches of government are not directing them to do so,” DeMoro said.

“We know these hospitals. Their priority is not optimal Ebola preparedness, it is protecting their budgetary goals and profit margins. Unless there is an Act of Congress or an executive order from the White House, they will opt for the cheapest standard, not the best. The legislators, the White House, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention need to stop enabling them by failing to act,” DeMoro said.

In testimony today, NNU Co-President Deborah Burger, RN also emphasized the critical importance of a formal mandate on the hospitals.

After the hearing, Burger noted, “the CDC guidelines are a pull down menu, the hospitals can choose among them, they will invariably choose the cheapest.  But even if the CDC had a single, optimal standard, they do not have the authority to mandate it, which is why we’re calling on the President and Congress to act.”

In her formal testimony to the committee, Burger noted, “The Ebola pandemic and the exposure of health care workers to the virus in Texas and the real threat that it could occur elsewhere in the US, represent a clear and present danger to public health… The risk of exposure to the population at large merely starts with frontline caregivers like registered nurses, physicians and other healthcare workers – it does not end there. If we cannot protect our nurses and other healthcare workers, we cannot protect anyone.”

NNU is continuing inviting the public to join with nurses in signing an online petition demanding such a mandate from the President and Congress.

It calls for providing all nurses and other healthcare workers with the protection of full-body HazMat suits that are body fluid, blood, and virus impermeable that:

Meet American Society for Testing Materials (ASTM) F1670 standard for blood penetration

Meet ASTM F1671 standard for viral penetration

Include powered air purifying respirators with an assigned protection factor of at least 50, with full hood.

Leave no skin exposed or unprotected.

And that this protective equipment must be implemented in all hospitals with rigorous, continuous hands-on training for all RNs and other frontline caregivers with practice, in teams, of the proper means for putting and, especially, removing the equipment after use (donning and doffing).

The petition may be signed at http://www.nationalnursesunited.org/page/s/national-nurses-united-urges-you-to-take-action-now

Source: http://www.nationalnursesunited.org

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shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Fri, 24 Oct 2014 23:00:33 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/56317-after-congressional-hearing-on-ebola-prep-national-nurses-say-mandate-for-hospitals-still-needed.html
Climate Needs 'Radical Shock Treatment'; EU Pledges Only 'Smelling Salts' http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/56312-climate-needs-radical-shock-treatment-eu-pledges-only-smelling-salts.html

Challenging EU narrative, Green campaigners say only place European pledges are "leading" is towards climate disaster

Washington, DC--(ENEWSPF)--October 24, 2014.
Dressed as corporate lobbyists, Friends of the Earth Europe and Oxfam constructed a huge blockade of leaky oil barrels and bags of coal, to symbolise the dirty energy companies blocking action on climate change. These polluting companies are spending millions every year to prevent the transition to a clean, community-controlled energy future. (Photo: FOE Europe/cc/flickr)

If the non-binding pledges announced by European governments in Brussels on Friday morning are an indication of the global response to climate change, say green campaigners, the world and its inhabitants are in big, big trouble.

Members of the European Commission and European Council championed the commitments for emission reductions, energy conservation, and the increase of renewable power sources that were contained in the agreement, but expert critics say the targets simply are not strong enough to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at the rate demanded by the science of climate change.

Designed to set out Europe's collective position ahead of next year's global climate summit in Paris, negotiators agreed to a formula that would include a 40 percent reduction in greenhouse gases and a 27 percent increase in both energy efficiency and renewable energy creation, all by the year 2030.

European Commission president, Portugal's Jose Manuel Barroso, said, "This package is very good news for our fight against climate change. No player in the world is as ambitious as the EU."

That opinion was not shared, however, by experts at Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and Oxfam International.

"To describe 40 percent emissions cuts as adequate or ambitious, as EU leaders are doing, is dangerously irresponsible," said Brook Riley, climate justice and energy campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe.  "40 percent is off the radar of climate science. This deal does nothing to end Europe's dependency on fossil fuels or to speed up our transition to a clean energy future. It's a deal that puts dirty industry interests ahead of citizens and the planet."

Oxfam International's Natalia Alonso welcomed the 40 percent goal but said the EU details of the agreement fall "far too short of what the EU needs to do to pull its weight in the fight against climate change." She added, "Insufficient action like this from the world's richest countries places yet more burden on the poorest people most affected by climate change, but least responsible for causing this crisis."

And Mahi Sideridou, managing director of Greenpeace Europe, highlighted the idea how the vague and non-binding commitments don't nearly match the extreme urgency of the crisis.

"The global fight against climate change needs radical shock treatment, but what the EU is offering is at best a whiff of smelling salts," declared Sideridou. "People across Europe want cleaner energy, but EU leaders are knocking the wind out of Europe’s booming renewables sector. Europe can and should do more to stop the most devastating impacts of climate change.”

Molly Walsh, also of Friends of the Earth Europe described the commitments by Europe's leaders as "barely more than business-as-usual" and said that rather than showing true leadership, the stated goals actually "send a dangerous signal" to other world governments that the EU's relatively strong policies are now being abandoned.

As the Guardian reports, several countries--including the U.K. and Poland--continually roadblocked more aggressive action by threatening to use their veto power to torpedo the entire agreement:

Poland, heavily dependent on coal-fired energy production, threatened to block the deal unless the costs to its economy and industry were discounted by €15bn-€20bn (£12bn-£16bn) between 2020 and 2030, under a complicated system of concessions from the EU’s carbon trading system.

Concessions granted to Poland will allow it to continue reaping hundreds of millions of euros in free allowances to modernise coal-fired power plants. Of eight EU nations eligible for the free allocations, Poland claimed 60% of the total up until 2019.

A poll by TNS and YouGov for the online activist group Avaaz late last week found that 56% of Poles thought that EU financial support for energy should back clean energy rather than fossil fuels.

“It’s scandalous,” Julia Michalak, a spokeswoman for Climate Action Network Europe, told the Guardian. “A continuation of free emission permits for Poland’s coal-reliant energy system would be a grave mistake. Leaders who came to Brussels to agree new historic climate goals, are actually discussing whether to hand out money to Europe’s dirtiest power plants.”

According to Greenpeace's assessment of the EU agreement:

Leaders agreed three climate and energy targets for 2030: an “at least” 40 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions within the EU (without the use of offset credits), based on 1990 levels; a binding share of at least 27 per cent renewable energy in the EU’s energy mix; and an indicative target of at least 27 per cent energy savings, which could be increased to 30 per cent after a review in 2020.

For lower income EU countries, such as Poland, the agreement includes mechanisms to support investments in “energy modernisation and energy efficiency”. Under current policies, these funds have been misused to support coal plants.

Several industries will continue to receive free carbon emission allowances, but details on the workings of the EU carbon market won’t be known until legislation is tabled next year.

Leaders also adopted a target to increase interconnections between Europe’s power markets to 15% in 2030.

As a counter, Friends of the Earth said targets must be "binding" and enforceable (as oppose to voluntary) and much more ambitious. According to the group, "Emissions must be reduced by at least 60% by 2030 to deliver the EU's fair share of action and be in line with the latest science, and there must be binding targets to reduce energy use by 50% and increase the share of energy produced by renewables to 45%."

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

Source: http://www.commondreams.org

 

 

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shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Fri, 24 Oct 2014 22:44:46 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/56312-climate-needs-radical-shock-treatment-eu-pledges-only-smelling-salts.html
Bruce Rauner Continues to Advocate Rigged Tax System http://www.enewspf.com/opinion/commentary/56301-bruce-rauner-continues-to-advocate-rigged-tax-system.html Rauner opposes tax surcharge on millionaires, wants $1 million tax break for himself

Chicago, IL –(ENEWSPF)—October 24, 2014. Billionaire gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner continued to push for new sales taxes in a meeting today with the editorial board of the State Journal Register, but he was silent on his opposition to the “millionaires surcharge,” an advisory ballot question asking voters whether the state’s richest residents—like Rauner himself—should be asked to pay their fair share to support public schools.

Rauner’s plan is in direct conflict with what Illinois resident think is fair. Despite his lip service on education funding, Rauner strongly opposes the millionaires surcharge that would boost school funding by a billion dollars annually, while the tax plan Rauner has been campaigning on would slash his own taxes by $1 million a year, and cut education funding by $4 billion.

Illinois voters support an income tax system based on the ability to pay, according to a recent poll.  By a 20-point margin, Illinois voters support the millionaires surcharge, with upper-income voters supporting the measure by an even larger margin, 61% to 33%.  A system based on ability to pay would put Illinois in line with the vast majority of states.

“Illinoisans want an income tax system in which middle class families and minimum wage workers pay a lower rate than millionaires and billionaires like Bruce Rauner,” said Waltmire.

Rauner and his companies have a history of avoiding taxes. Rauner famously contributed nothing to Social Security and Medicare for two straight years and a company he directed failed to pay $81,000 in Illinois taxes.

“Rauner is seeking to rig the game for the rich, while shafting everyday families,” said Waltmire.  “Illinois cannot afford billionaire Bruce Rauner.”

Source: Illinois Freedom PAC

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shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Fri, 24 Oct 2014 22:13:52 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/opinion/commentary/56301-bruce-rauner-continues-to-advocate-rigged-tax-system.html
Update: New York City and CDC Report Positive Tests for Ebola in Volunteer International Aid Worker, Oct. 24, 2014 http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/56298-update-new-york-city-and-cdc-report-positive-tests-for-ebola-in-volunteer-international-aid-worker-oct-24-2014.html Atlanta, GA--(ENEWSPF)--October 24, 2014.  A hospitalized medical aid worker who volunteered in Guinea, one of the three West African nations experiencing an Ebola epidemic, and since returned to the United States has tested positive for Ebola according to the New York City Health Department laboratory, which is part of the Laboratory Response Network overseen by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC has confirmed the test results in its Atlanta laboratory.

The patient has been notified of the confirmation test results and remains in isolation.

The healthcare worker had returned through JFK Airport on Oct. 17 and participated in the enhanced screening for all returning travelers from these countries. He went through multiple layers of screening and did not have a fever or other symptoms of illness. The patient reported a low-grade fever to local health officials for the first time yesterday. Yesterday, the patient was transported by a specially trained HAZ TAC unit wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to Bellevue. The New York City Health Department has interviewed the patient regarding close contacts and activities.

CDC is in close communications with the New York City Health Department and Bellevue Hospital, and is providing technical assistance and resources. Three members of CDC’s Ebola Response Team arrived in New York City last night.  Additional team members will be arriving today to New York City. This team is deployed when an Ebola case is identified in the United States, or when health officials have a very strong suspicion that a patient has Ebola pending lab results.

Ebola is spread through direct contact with bodily fluids of a sick person or exposure to objects such as needles that have been contaminated. The illness has an average 8-10 day incubation period (although it could be from 2 to 21 days). CDC recommends monitoring exposed people for symptoms a complete 21 days. 

For more information on ebola, visit http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola.

Source: cdc.gov

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shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Fri, 24 Oct 2014 21:59:16 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/56298-update-new-york-city-and-cdc-report-positive-tests-for-ebola-in-volunteer-international-aid-worker-oct-24-2014.html
Federal District Court Judge To Hear Testimony Questioning Marijuana's Schedule I Status http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/56295-federal-district-court-judge-to-hear-testimony-questioning-marijuana-s-schedule-i-status.html  Federal District Court Judge To Hear Testimony Questioning Marijuana's Schedule I Status

Sacramento, CA--(ENEWSPF)--October 24, 2014.  Testimony regarding the constitutionality of the federal statute designating marijuana as a Schedule I Controlled Substance will be taken on Monday, October 27 in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California in the case of United States v. Pickard, et. al., No.2:11-CR-0449-KJM.

Members of Congress initially categorized cannabis as a Schedule I substance, the most restrictive classification available, in 1970. Under this categorization, the plant is defined as possessing "a high potential for abuse, ... no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, ... [and lacking] accepted safety for ... use ... under medical supervision."

Expert witnesses for the defense - including Drs. Carl Hart, Associate Professor of Psychology in the Department of Psychiatry and Psychology at Columbia University in New York City, retired physician Phillip Denny, and Greg Carter, Medical Director of St. Luke's Rehabilitation Institute in Spokane, Washington - will testify that the accepted science is inconsistent with the notion that cannabis meets these Schedule I criteria.

"[I]t is my considered opinion that including marijuana in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act is counter to all the scientific evidence in a society that uses and values empirical evidence," Dr. Hart declared. "After two decades of intense scientific inquiry in this area, it has become apparent the current scheduling of cannabis has no footing in the realities of science and neurobiology."

The government intends to call Bertha Madras, Ph.D., Professor of Psychobiology at Harvard Medical School and the former Deputy Director for Demand Reduction for the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy under President George W. Bush.

Additional evidence has been presented by way of declarations by Marine Sgt. Ryan Begin, a veteran of the Iraq War; Jennie Stormes, the mother of a child suffering from Dravet Syndrome - a pediatric form of epilepsy that has been shown in preliminary trials to respond to specific compounds in the cannabis plant; James Nolan, Ph.D. an associate professor of sociology and anthropology at West Virginia University and a former crime analyst for the US Federal Bureau of Investigation; and Christopher Conrad, noted cannabis author, archivist, and cultivation expert.

This is the first time in recent memory that a federal judge has granted an evidentiary hearing on a motion challenging the statute that classifies cannabis as one of the most dangerous illicit substances in the nation. Attorneys Zenia Gilg and Heather Burke, both members of the NORML Legal Committee, contend that the federal government's present policies facilitating the regulated distribution of cannabis in states such as Colorado and Washington can not be reconciled with the insistence that the plant is deserving of its Schedule I status under federal law.

They write: "In effect, the action taken by the Department of Justice is either irrational, or more likely proves the assertions made in Part I (B) of this Brief: marijuana does not fit the criteria of a Schedule I Controlled Substance."

Speaking recently in a taped interview with journalist Katie Couric, United States Attorney General Eric Holder expressed the need to revisit cannabis' Schedule I placement under federal law. Holder said, "[T]he question of whether or not they should be in the same category is something that I think we need to ask ourselves, and use science as the basis for making that determination."

The testimonial part of the evidentiary hearing in United States v. Pickard, et. al., is expected to last three days.

Source: http://norml.org

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shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Fri, 24 Oct 2014 17:39:51 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/56295-federal-district-court-judge-to-hear-testimony-questioning-marijuana-s-schedule-i-status.html
FDA Approves New Treatment for Rare Form of Hemophilia http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/56289-fda-approves-new-treatment-for-rare-form-of-hemophilia.html Silver Spring, Maryland--(ENEWSPF)--October 24, 2014.  The U.S. Food and Drug Administration yesterday approved Obizur [Antihemophilic Factor (Recombinant), Porcine Sequence] for the treatment of bleeding episodes in adults with acquired hemophilia A (acquired Factor VIII [FVII] deficiency).

Acquired hemophilia A is a rare, but potentially life threatening, bleeding disorder caused by the development of antibodies (immune system proteins) directed against the body’s own FVIII, a protein important for blood clotting. When FVIII is inactivated by these autoantibodies, a person’s blood doesn’t clot normally, resulting in excessive bleeding that can occur spontaneously or following an event such as injury or surgery.

Unlike inherited hemophilia, acquired hemophilia A is not a genetic disorder and affects both males and females. The development of acquired hemophilia A has been related to other medical conditions or health states, such as pregnancy, cancer, or the use of certain medications. However, in about half of the cases, no underlying cause can be found. Diagnosis of this condition can be difficult and the severity of the bleeding can make treatment challenging.

“The approval of this product provides an important therapeutic option for use in the care of patients with this rare disease,” said Karen Midthun, MD, director of FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research.

Obizur contains a recombinant analogue of porcine (pig) FVIII. Porcine FVIII is used because it is similar enough to human FVIII to be effective in blood clotting, but is less likely to be affected by the antibodies against human FVIII that are present in people with acquired hemophilia A.

The safety and efficacy of Obizur was evaluated in a clinical trial of 29 adults with acquired hemophilia A who received Obizur to treat a serious bleeding episode. The trial demonstrated the effectiveness of Obizur in the treatment of bleeding episodes. No safety concerns were identified in the trial.

Obizur received orphan drug designation by the FDA because the drug is intended for use in treatment of a rare disease or condition. 

Obizur is manufactured by Baxter Healthcare Corporation, Westlake Village, California.

The FDA, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, protects the public health by assuring the safety, effectiveness, and security of human and veterinary drugs, vaccines and other biological products for human use, and medical devices. The agency also is responsible for the safety and security of our nation’s food supply, cosmetics, dietary supplements, products that give off electronic radiation, and for regulating tobacco products.

Source: fda.gov

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shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Fri, 24 Oct 2014 17:07:58 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/56289-fda-approves-new-treatment-for-rare-form-of-hemophilia.html
Letter From 155 State Reps Sent to EPA Ahead of Deadline to Finalize Coal Ash, Toxic Water Standards http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/56288-letter-from-155-state-reps-sent-to-epa-ahead-of-deadline-to-finalize-coal-ash-toxic-water-standards.html

Washington, D.C.—(ENEWSPF)--October 24, 2014.   State representatives from the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators this week submitted a sign-on letter calling on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) to swiftly finalize strong coal ash and toxic water pollution standards for coal-burning power plants. The letter comes just eight weeks before the agency’s December 19 deadline to finalize a rule on coal ash standards.

Delivered to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, the letter signed by 155 state representatives notes that dangerous waste from burning leaches into drinking water and pollutes the air of communities near toxic dump sites because there are no federal safeguards for disposal. The letter also notes that EPA itself has determined that coal-fired power plants are responsible for at least 50 to 60 percent of the toxic water pollutants discharged into U.S. waters. Yet, at present, four out of five coal plants in the U.S. have no limits on the amount of toxics they are allowed to dump into our water. Many of these toxic pollutants pose serious health and environmental damage even in very low concentrations, which is why, the signatories argue, strong standards are essential to protect our communities, drinking water, and wildlife.

“We urge the EPA to protect our waterways from toxic coal pollution by adopting strong, federally enforceable safeguards for coal ash disposal and reuse under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and for water pollution discharges from coal plants under the Clean Water Act quickly,” stated the letter. “Without strong federal standards to safeguard our waterways, coal-burning power plants will keep sending toxic sludge into rivers and streams, which provide recreation, habitat to fish and wildlife, and drinking water sources.”

“Right now, the EPA has the opportunity to meet its responsibility to the American people and put into place actual, strong measures that will prevent coal ash disasters that have been plaguing American communities for far too long,” said Dalal Aboulhosn, Senior Washington Representative with the Sierra Club.

Signatories include many distinguished elected officials across the country, including several from North Carolina who have dealt with the lack of federal safeguards firsthand when a burst stormwater pipe underneath an unlined coal ash pit dumped 140,000 tons of coal ash and toxic wastewater into the Dan River earlier this year.

“Our experience in the Southeast, including the Dan River disaster, has shown that communities cannot count on state agencies and state law alone to protect their clean water nationwide.  Our communities and our rivers need strong national safeguards to protect them from coal ash pollution and coal ash catastrophes,” said Frank Holleman, Senior Attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center.

“Representatives are asking for strong regulations because they know these rules will protect the health and economic wellbeing of their constituents,” said Lisa Evans, senior administrative counsel at Earthjustice. “Coal ash pollution places a heavy burden on local communities across the nation, but help is on the way.”

“EPA needs to end the “free pass to pollute” that power plants have gotten for the past thirty years.  Power plants have gotten special treatment that allows them to dump billions of pounds of toxic chemicals into our nation’s waters, including rivers and streams that are sources of drinking water.  This special treatment has come at a huge cost to our nation’s waters and to our health,” said Jennifer Peters, Clean Water’s National Water Campaigns Coordinator.

To read the full letter, please click here

About the Sierra Club

The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 2.4 million members and supporters nationwide. In addition to creating opportunities for people of all ages, levels and locations to have meaningful outdoor experiences, the Sierra Club works to safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and litigation. For more information, visit http://www.sierraclub.org.

Source: sierraclub.org

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shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Fri, 24 Oct 2014 17:05:22 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/56288-letter-from-155-state-reps-sent-to-epa-ahead-of-deadline-to-finalize-coal-ash-toxic-water-standards.html
Gulf Restoration Group Sue Feds Over Misuse of BP Disaster Restoration Funds http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/56287-gulf-restoration-group-sue-feds-over-misuse-of-bp-disaster-restoration-funds.html Alabama and Feds approve millions for beachfront convention center
Dark clouds of smoke and fire emerge as oil burns during a controlled fire in the Gulf of Mexico following the April 20, 2010 explosion on the Deepwater Horizon.
Dark clouds of smoke and fire emerge as oil burns during a controlled fire in the Gulf of Mexico following the April 20, 2010 explosion on the Deepwater Horizon.  Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Justin Stumberg / U.S. Navy

Washington, D.C. —(ENEWSPF)--October 24, 2014.  On Thursday, Gulf Restoration Network (GRN) filed suit in Washington, D.C. challenging the decision of the U.S. Department of the Interior and other federal agencies to allow money intended to repair damage to the Gulf of Mexico from the 2010 BP disaster to instead be used to subsidize a beachfront convention center in Alabama.

On October 2, the Department of the Interior, along with the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Commerce and the Department of Agriculture, issued a decision approving a final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) and Phase III Early Restoration Plan (ERP) which allocated $58.5 million dollars of Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) funds to subsidize a hotel and convention center in Alabama’s Gulf State Park.

“By approving this project, the Trustees have violated the public trust and the law,” said Cyn Sarthou, Executive Director of the Gulf Restoration Network. “The Alabama convention center is a shocking misuse of restoration dollars that could provide much needed resources to the Gulf’s damaged ecosystem. Our coastal communities depend on a clean and healthy Gulf, and these precious restoration dollars cannot be spent on pet projects that don’t do anything to replace the natural resources we lost.”

In the Early NRDA restoration process, BP agreed to put up $1 billion to begin repairing the damage to wetlands, water bottoms and wildlife caused by the BP disaster. The Alabama convention center is one of 44 projects selected for implementation in the third phase of NRDA Early Restoration. The Department of the Interior and other federal agencies are designated as Natural Resource Damage Trustees, and are required to ensure that NRDA funds are actually used to repair or replace natural resources.

“The business of restoring the Gulf in the wake of the BP disaster is an urgent matter, and we need to start moving forward on the other quality restoration projects proposed by the Trustees,” noted Sarthou. “Nobody seriously thinks building a convention center makes up for damage to the Gulf. The Trustees didn’t take a sincere look at how to really use this $58 million to fix real damage, and it’s clear they had already decided to fund this project long before the public had an opportunity to weigh in.”

Since Alabama announced its plan to subsidize a convention center with BP disaster restoration money in 2012, GRN, as well as thousands of citizens across the Gulf, have weighed in to indicate that this is an inappropriate project on which to spend limited restoration funds. Despite this significant outcry, the NRDA Trustees are allowing Alabama to squander $58.5 out its $100 million share of the funds to ‘restore’ the public’s ability to look at the beach through the window of a conference room.

“After the largest oil spill in U.S. history, it’s mindboggling that the agencies tasked with overseeing the restoration of the Gulf Coast would allow money set aside for repairing damage to be spent on a project that has nothing to do with that damage,” said Earthjustice attorney Steve Roady. “This not only violates the law, it makes no sense.”

“A Natural Resource Damage Trustee is supposed to look out for the public, and make sure that the public resources taken by an oil spill are replaced.” said Robert Wiygul, one of the lead attorneys for the Gulf Restoration Network. “There weren’t any convention centers damaged by the BP disaster. If the Trustees had really looked at the alternative ways to spend this $58 million, it would have been clear that this money should go to real restoration like building habitat and protecting land.”

Attorneys who filed the lawsuit are seeking to have the court declare that the federal agencies violated the National Environmental Policy Act and the Oil Pollution Act by approving the project. They are also seeking a court order that would prevent the agencies from authorizing the use of the restoration funds for the convention center project.

About Earthjustice

Earthjustice is the premier nonprofit environmental law organization. We wield the power of law and the strength of partnership to protect people’s health, to preserve magnificent places and wildlife, to advance clean energy, and to combat climate change. We are here because the earth needs a good lawyer.

Source: http://earthjustice.org

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shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Fri, 24 Oct 2014 17:02:24 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/56287-gulf-restoration-group-sue-feds-over-misuse-of-bp-disaster-restoration-funds.html
EPA Seeks to Block a Worldwide Ban of a Highly Toxic Wood Preservative http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/56286-epa-seeks-to-block-a-worldwide-ban-of-a-highly-toxic-wood-preservative.html Washington, DC--(ENEWSPF)--October 24, 2014.  The U.S. government is opposing international efforts  under the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, supported by countries worldwide, to halt the global use of the toxic chemical wood preservative, pentachlorophenol (PCP), which is widely used in the U.S. to treat wood utility poles. U.S. government officials are out of step with countries around the world and domestically with a bipartisan group of New York state lawmakers seeking a state ban. Meanwhile, a group of Long Island residents is charging in a lawsuit that hundreds of new PCP-treated utility poles are causing serious injury to health and property values. This month, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services added PCP to its carcinogen list, saying that PCP is “reasonably anticipated to cause cancer.” The U.S. is the largest producer and user of PCP in the world.

A meeting of a Stockholm Convention committee in Rome this week is recommending a global ban on PCP. The Convention is an international treaty established to control highly hazardous chemicals. While most imagecountries engaged in the process approve of the ban, the U.S. has consistently opposed it.

“Cancer-causing chemicals should not be leaking from utility poles into communities, playgrounds, and schools” said Pam Miller, Alaska Community Action on Toxics and IPEN. “It’s time for the U.S. to join the rest of the world in moving forward with a ban. PCP is ubiquitous in the breast milk of women throughout the world and in Indigenous peoples of the Arctic. The evidence more than justifies an international ban.

Approximately one million utility poles are treated with PCP each year. Soil samples taken near utility poles on Long Island show concentrations of PCP more than 300 times New York’s permissible limits for poisonous substances. In the lawsuit filed earlier this year, residents charge that PCP is leaching from the poles into the surrounding soil. State lawmakers are now proposing a state law to ban PCP use on utility poles.

“The EPA has determined that contact with soil contaminated with PCP, as well as contact with treated wood products like utility poles poses an unacceptable cancer risk to children. It is irresponsible for the U.S. government to oppose this ban,” said Jay Feldman, Beyond Pesticides.

Since the mid-1980s, Beyond Pesticides has done extensive work to address the risks of exposure to PCP and the other two heavy-duty wood preservatives, inorganic arsenicals (such as chromated copper arsenate, or CCA) and creosote. In addition to Pole Pollution, Beyond Pesticides also published Poison Poles, which examines the toxic trail left by the manufacture, use, storage and disposal of the heavy-duty wood preservatives from cradle to grave. On December 10, 2002, a lawsuit led by Beyond Pesticides was filed in federal court to stop the use of arsenic and dioxin-laden wood preservatives. The complaint asserted that the chemicals, known carcinogenic agents, hurt utility workers exposed to treated poles, children playing near treated structures, and the surrounding environments where products containing the substance were utilized. Most importantly, the lawsuit argued that viable alternatives existed and did not support EPA claims that societal “benefits” and necessity required continued registration. Unfortunately, the lawsuit was dismissed on procedural grounds.

The fight, however, continues. Join Beyond Pesticides and visit our Wood Preservatives webpage to learn more about the issue and what you can do to take this cancer-causing chemical out of the environmental and our lives for good!

All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.

Source: http://www.beyondpesticides.org

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shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Fri, 24 Oct 2014 16:58:00 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/56286-epa-seeks-to-block-a-worldwide-ban-of-a-highly-toxic-wood-preservative.html
Two Prairie Butterflies Gain Endangered Species Act Protection in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and Dakotas http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/56285-two-prairie-butterflies-gain-endangered-species-act-protection-in-minnesota-wisconsin-michigan-and-dakotas.html MINNEAPOLIS—(ENEWSPF)--October 23, 2014.   The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today protected two rare prairie butterflies under the Endangered Species Act. Protection for the Dakota skipper results from a landmark 2011 settlement with the Center for Biological Diversity to speed protection decisions for 757 imperiled plants and animals across the country. The Service added the Poweshiek skipperling to the listing rule because it is highly endangered and shares habitat with the skipper. Both of the inch-long, brown-and-orange butterflies were once found in eight states in the Midwest and Great Lakes region but declined due to loss of native prairie habitat.

Dakota skipper
Dakota skipper photo by Robert Dana, USFWS.

“It’s great news that these remarkable little butterflies now have the Endangered Species Act protection that will save them and their beautiful prairie homes,” said Tierra Curry, a senior scientist at the Center.

Both butterflies are threatened by loss of native prairie vegetation to agriculture, development, altered fire patterns and groundwater depletion. They are also threatened by pesticides, drought and climate change.

Last year the Service proposed to protect 39,035 acres of habitat for the butterflies, and that designation is expected to be finalized soon. The proposed habitat protection includes 27,782 acres of habitat for the Dakota skipper in 10 counties in Minnesota, six counties in North Dakota and six counties in South Dakota. For the Poweshiek skipperling, the proposal includes 26,184 acres of habitat in 14 counties in Minnesota, seven counties in Iowa, seven counties in South Dakota, six counties in Michigan, three counties in North Dakota and two counties in Wisconsin.

“Protecting the last high-quality prairie habitats for the butterflies will keep these special places safe, along with all the other plants and animals that need them to survive,” said Curry.

The Dakota skipper is a small butterfly with hooked antennae and a thick, muscular body that enables a faster, more powerful flight than other butterflies. Males are tawny-orange to brown on the back of their wings and dusty yellow-orange on the underside; females are darker with diffused orange and white spots. It once occurred in tall grass and mixed grass prairies of Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, the Dakotas, Manitoba and Saskatchewan. It has been lost from Illinois and Iowa and in the United States is currently found only in western Minnesota, northeastern South Dakota and the eastern half of North Dakota. The butterfly was last seen in Illinois in 1888 and in Iowa in 1992. It persists at 35 percent of its historically known sites.

Poweshiek skipperlings are small and slender-bodied. Their wings are dark brown with an orange band on top and whitish underneath. Skipperlings were once common and abundant throughout native prairies in eight states and Manitoba, but they are now known to survive at only 5 percent of historically known sites. The skipperling has been lost from Illinois and Indiana. It was last seen in North Dakota in 2001, in Minnesota in 2007 and in Iowa and South Dakota in 2008. Small numbers survive in Michigan, Wisconsin and Manitoba.

The Dakota skipper was first identified as being in need of protection in 1978. The Service placed the Poweshiek skipperling on the candidate list in 2011. 

In 2011 the Center and Service reached a settlement to speed protections for all the species on the candidate waiting list as of 2010, as well as a host of other species previously petitioned for protection. To date 139 plants and animals have received protection as a result of the agreement, and another 14 have been proposed for protection.

“The Fish and Wildlife Service is making excellent progress in addressing the backlog of unprotected plants and animals that are facing extinction,” said Curry. “Now Congress needs to designate sufficient funding for recovery to make sure these endangered species get what they need to thrive.”

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 800,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

Source: http://www.biologicaldiversity.org

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shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Fri, 24 Oct 2014 16:54:56 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/56285-two-prairie-butterflies-gain-endangered-species-act-protection-in-minnesota-wisconsin-michigan-and-dakotas.html
Amnesty International: US Human Rights Abuses on Display in Ferguson http://www.enewspf.com/opinion/analysis/56284-amnesty-international-us-human-rights-abuses-on-display-in-ferguson.html

New report demands 'accountability and systemic change' following excessive force against people who rose up to challenge police violence

Washington, DC--(ENEWSPF)--Octobr 24, 2014.

In a report released on Friday, Amnesty International roundly condemns the excessive force used by local law enforcement agencies in Ferguson, Missouri earlier this year and called for 'accountability and systemic change' in order to curb the kinds of human rights abuses increasingly seen in U.S. communities when it comes to regulating street protests and use of force by police.

The report—entitled On the Streets of America: Human Rights Abuses in Ferguson (pdf)—documents the human rights concerns witnessed first-hand by Amnesty investigators dispatched to Ferguson following initial protests in the city spurred by the shooting death of an unarmed African American teenager, Michael Brown, by a police officer Darren Wilson on August 9. The Amnesty team arrived and documented public protest and the behavior of local law enforcement from  August 14 to August 22.

Amnesty's report makes takes no position or determination on the killing of Brown, but says the shooting and his death "highlighted on a national level the persistent and widespread pattern of racially discriminatory treatment by law enforcement officers across the United States, including unjustified stops and searches, ill treatment and excessive, and sometimes lethal, use of force."

Focused on both the community response to Brown's death and the subsequent police reaction to protests, the report's authors present what they witnessed first-hand in Ferguson in order to highlight some of the national trends of human rights abuses that often, though with less attention, take place in U.S. communities.

"What Amnesty International witnessed in Missouri on the ground this summer underscored that human rights abuses do not just happen across borders and oceans," said Steven W. Hawkins, executive director of Amnesty International USA. "No matter where you live in the world, everyone is entitled to the same basic rights as a human being – and one of those rights is the freedom to peacefully protest. Standing on W. Florissant Avenue with my colleagues, I saw a police force, armed to the teeth, with military-grade weapons. I saw a crowd that included the elderly and young children fighting the effects of tear gas. There must be accountability and systemic change that follows this excessive force."

According to the report:

The rights of peaceful assembly, freedom of association and freedom of expression are basic human rights. These rights are also guaranteed under the Constitution of the United States and the laws of the state of Missouri. The vast majority of those participating in the demonstrations in Ferguson that spontaneously grew in the days and weeks following the shooting Michael Brown have been peaceful - as noted by government officials such as the President of the United States, the Governor of Missouri and Attorney General along with the Missouri Highway Patrol. However, the responses by state officials and law enforcement to the violent actions of a limited number of protestors have impacted the rights of all participating in peaceful protests.

Overall, said Hawkins, "This is about accountability."

"The events in Ferguson sparked a much-needed and long-overdue conversation on race and policing in America," he said. "That conversation cannot stop. In order to restore justice to Ferguson, and every community afflicted by police brutality, we must both document the injustices committed and fight to prevent them from happening again. There is a path forward, but it requires substantive actions on the local, state and federal levels."

In addition to documenting the abuses witnessed in Ferguson, the Amnesty report also puts forth a series of recommendations for local, state, and national agencies that include: better policies on use of force: calling for a thorough and transparent investigation into Brown's death; improved policing standards of public protests; and a plea to end the unnecessay militarization of local police departments.

###

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

Source: www.commondreams.org

 

 

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shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Fri, 24 Oct 2014 16:50:36 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/opinion/analysis/56284-amnesty-international-us-human-rights-abuses-on-display-in-ferguson.html
U.S. State Department: Potential Implications for Travel Because of Ebola in Parts of West Africa http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/56281-u-s-state-department-potential-implications-for-travel-because-of-ebola-in-parts-of-west-africa.html Washington, DC—(ENEWSPF)—October 24, 2014. The Department of State alerts U.S. citizens to screening procedures, travel restrictions, and reduced aviation transportation options in response to the outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea.  This Travel Alert will expire on April 22, 2015.

As of October 22, the Department of Homeland Security requires that all persons traveling to the United States from the West African countries of Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea enter the U.S. through either New York's Kennedy, Newark’s Liberty, Washington's Dulles, Chicago's O'Hare, or Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson airports and undergo EVD screening.

Passengers traveling from Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea who are not scheduled to pass through one of these airports must rebook their flights to make entry through one of these designated airports.

Due to an outbreak of EVD in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued Level 3 Travel Warnings for those three countries advising against non-essential travel and provided guidance to reduce the potential for spread of EVD. The CDC Level 2 Travel Alert for Nigeria was removed because Nigeria has been declared Ebola free. The Bureau of Consular Affairs’ website prominently features an Ebola Fact Sheet and links to the CDC Health Travel Warnings, Travel Alert, and general guidance about Ebola.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and CDC have also published and provided interim guidance to public health authorities, airlines, and other partners in West Africa for evaluating risk of exposure of persons coming from countries affected by EVD. Measures can include screening, medical evaluation, movement restrictions up to 21 days, and infection control precautions. Travelers who exhibit symptoms indicative of possible Ebola infection may be prevented from boarding and restricted from traveling for the 21-day period. Please note neither the Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs nor the U.S. Embassy have authority over quarantine issues and cannot prevent a U.S. citizen from being quarantined should local health authorities require it. For questions about quarantine, please visit the CDC website that addresses quarantine and isolation issues.

The cost for a medical evacuation is very expensive. We encourage U.S. citizens travelling to Ebola-affected countries to purchase travel insurance that includes medical evacuation for EVD. Policy holders should confirm the availability of medical care and evacuation services at their travel destinations prior to travel. 

Some local, regional, and international air carriers have curtailed or temporarily suspended service to or from Ebola-affected countries. U.S. citizens planning travel to or from these countries, in accordance with the CDC Health Travel Warnings and Health Travel Alert, should contact their airline to verify seat availability, confirm departure schedules, inquire about screening procedures, and be aware of other airline options. 

The Department is aware that some countries have put in place procedures relating to the travel of individuals from the affected countries, including complete travel bans. Changes to existing procedures may occur with little or no notice. Please consult your airline or the embassy of your destination country for additional information. 

We strongly recommend that U.S. citizens traveling or residing abroad enroll in the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). STEP enrollment allows you to receive the Department’s safety and security updates, and makes it easier for the nearest U.S. embassy or U.S. consulate to contact you in an emergency. If you do not have Internet access, enroll directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.

Regularly monitor the State Department’s website where you can find current Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and the Worldwide Caution, and read the Country Specific Information for your destination countries. For additional information, refer to the "Traveler's Checklist" on the State Department's website. Current information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free from within the United States and Canada, or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). Follow us on Twitter and on Facebook.

Source: state.gov

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shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Fri, 24 Oct 2014 16:41:43 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/56281-u-s-state-department-potential-implications-for-travel-because-of-ebola-in-parts-of-west-africa.html
10 Percent of Grandparents Live With a Grandchild, Census Bureau Reports http://www.enewspf.com/opinion/analysis/56277-10-percent-of-grandparents-live-with-a-grandchild-census-bureau-reports.html cq5dam.thumbnail.319.319Download 65 Million Grandparents in the United States [JPG - 1.6 MB]

Washington, DC--(ENEWSPF)--October 23, 2014.  Of the 65 million grandparents in the United States in 2012, 7 million, or 10 percent, lived with at least one grandchild, according to Coresident Grandparents and Their Grandchildren: 2012, a new report released yesterday by the U.S. Census Bureau. The percentage of children who lived with a grandparent in 2012 was also 10 percent, rising from 7 percent in 1992.

About 4.2 million households, or 3 percent of all households, contained both grandchildren under 18 and their grandparents in 2012. More than 60 percent of these households were maintained by a grandparent and about one in three had no parent present.

In 2012, 2.7 million grandparents in the U.S. were raising their grandchildren. About 39 percent of these grandparent caregivers have cared for their grandchildren for five years or more.

“Recent trends in increased life expectancy, single-parent families and female employment increase the potential for grandparents to play an important role in the lives of their grandchildren,” said Renee Ellis, a demographer in the Census Bureau’s Fertility and Family Statistics Branch.Increases in grandparents living with grandchildren are one way that the grandparent role has changed.”

Coresident Grandparents and Their Grandchildren: 2012 uses data from the 2010 Census, the American Community Survey, the Current Population Survey, and the Survey of Income and Program Participation To examine historical changes in coresidence of grandparents and characteristics of grandparents and grandchildren who live together. The report, for the first time, compares coresident grandparents with grandparents who do not live with their grandchildren.

Other findings:

Grandparents who lived with a grandchild in 2012 were younger, had lower levels of education and were more likely to be in poverty than those who did not live with a grandchild.

Two percent of grandparents who lived with a grandchild were age 30 to 39, while the highest percentage was for those age 50 to 59 (34 percent). Those age 80 and over made up only 4 percent.

Women comprised 64.2 percent of grandparents who lived with their grandchildren.

Forty-nine percent of children in grandparent-maintained households lived with both grandparents compared with only 19 percent of children in parent-maintained households.

Since 2007, about one-third of children who lived with a grandparent also had two parents present.

Percentages of children who were uninsured were not statistically different when looking at whether or not the child lived with a grandparent. However, those who did live with a grandparent were more likely to have public insurance.

Source: census.gov

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shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Thu, 23 Oct 2014 22:51:31 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/opinion/analysis/56277-10-percent-of-grandparents-live-with-a-grandchild-census-bureau-reports.html
UN: Primary Focus Must be to Halt Spread of Ebola Virus in Hard-hit West Africa http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/56276-un-primary-focus-must-be-to-halt-spread-of-ebola-virus-in-hard-hit-west-africa.html
Source: UNICEF, WHO
GENEVA--(ENEWSPF)--23 October 2014 – As the international community mobilizes on all fronts to combat the unfolding Ebola outbreak, the primary emphasis must continue to be on stopping the transmission of the virus within Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, the three hardest-hit countries, United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) experts said today.

Reporting on the outcome of the third meeting of the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee on the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, which wrapped up yesterday in Geneva, the experts stressed that focusing on the countries at the epicentre of the outbreak, including through reinforcing high-quality exit screening procedures at airports, “is the most important step for preventing international spread.”

In a news release summing up the meeting, which included States Parties’ presentations and subsequent Committee discussions, the experts noted that specific attention, including through appropriate monitoring and follow-up of their health, should be paid to the needs of health care workers. This would also encourage more health care staff to assist in this outbreak, they added.

The WHO expert Committee also stressed that all countries should strengthen education and communication efforts to combat stigma, disproportionate fear, and inappropriate measures and reactions associated with Ebola. “Such efforts may also encourage self-reporting and early presentation for diagnosis and care,” it adds.

As for most up-to-the-minute statistics on the outbreak, WHO reported that as of 22 October, the number of total cases stands at 9,936 total cases, with 4,877 deaths. Cases continue to increase exponentially in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone and the situation in these countries remains of great concern, warned the agency.

Earlier today at WHO’s headquarters in Geneva, Dr. Keiji Fukuda, the agency’s Assistant Director-General for Health, Security and Environment, and Isabelle Nuttall, WHO Director of Global Capacities, Alert and Response, briefed the press on the Committee’s discussions.

Dr. Fukuda said the key lessons learned to control the outbreak include the importance of leadership, community engagement, bringing in more partners, paying staff on time, and accountability, and stressed that WHO, UN partners and the international community have scaled up their support in these three countries.

Answering a question about when international efforts might catch up to the unfolding outbreak, he said there is an intense effort under way to step-up the response, within and outside the United Nations, including with the establishment of the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER) and implementation of the so-called “70-70-60 plan” which aims to try to get 70 per cent of the cases isolated and 70 per cent of the deceased safely buried within 60 days (from the beginning of October to 1 December), “by which time we hope to see a bend in the curve.”

“So it’s clear that it remains quite a challenge. We see the numbers still going up. We still see an extensive effort trying to catch up to and get beyond that curve,” Dr. Fukuda said, adding however that reaching the targets by the earliest possible time remains the goal.

As for the outbreak spreading outside the three countries, he said: “We are reasonably confident right now we are not seeing widespread transmission into neighbouring countries. It remains a concern...but right now I think we are not seeing it.”

Among the Committee’s recommendations for hard-hit Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, the Committee noted that exit screening in those countries remains critical for reducing the exportation of Ebola cases. “States should maintain and reinforce high-quality exit screening of all persons at international airports, seaport, and major land crossings, for unexplained febrile illness consistent with potential Ebola infection.”

The exit screening should consist of, at a minimum, a questionnaire, a temperature measurement and, if fever is discovered, an assessment of the risk that the fever is caused by Ebola virus disease. States should collect data from their exit screening processes, monitor their results, and regularly share these with WHO in a timely fashion. This will increase public confidence and provide important information to other States, said the experts.

As for the wider international community, the Committee reiterated its recommendation that there should be no general ban on international travel or trade. “A general travel ban is likely to cause economic hardship, and could consequently increase the uncontrolled migration of people from affected countries, raising the risk of international spread of Ebola,” said the experts.

Noting that a number of States have recently introduced entry screening measures, WHO encouraged countries implementing such measures to share their experiences and lessons learned. “Entry screening may have a limited effect in reducing international spread when added to exit screening, and its advantages and disadvantages should be carefully considered.”

As for the fact that a number of States without Ebola transmission have decided to or are considering cancelling international meetings and mass gatherings, the experts underscored that although they do not recommend such cancellations, they “recognize that these are complex decisions that must be decided on a case-by-case basis.”

“The Committee encourages States to use a risk-based approach to make these decisions. WHO has issued advice for countries hosting international meetings or mass gatherings, and will continue to provide guidance and support on this issue,” said the news release.

Source: un.org

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shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Thu, 23 Oct 2014 22:48:44 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/56276-un-primary-focus-must-be-to-halt-spread-of-ebola-virus-in-hard-hit-west-africa.html
Statement on Patient at Bellevue Hospital Who Returned from One of the Countries With EBOLA Outbreak http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/56275-statement-on-patient-at-bellevue-hospital-who-returned-from-one-of-the-countries-with-ebola-outbreak.html NEW YORK—(ENEWSPF)—October 23, 2014. Today, EMS HAZ TAC Units transferred to Bellevue Hospital a patient who presented a fever and gastrointestinal symptoms.   

The patient is a health care worker who returned to the U.S. within the past 21 days from one of the three countries currently facing the outbreak of this virus.

The patient was transported by a specially trained HAZ TAC unit wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).  After consulting with the hospital and the CDC, DOHMH has decided to conduct a test for the Ebola virus because of this patient's recent travel history, pattern of symptoms, and past work. DOHMH and HHC are also evaluating the patient for other causes of illness, as these symptoms can also be consistent with salmonella, malaria, or the stomach flu.

Preliminary test results are expected in the next 12 hours.

Bellevue Hospital is designated for the isolation, identification and treatment of potential Ebola patients by the City and State.  New York City is taking all necessary precautions to ensure the health and safety of all New Yorkers.

As a further precaution, beginning today, the Health Department's team of disease detectives immediately began to actively trace all of the patient's contacts to identify anyone who may be at potential risk. The Health Department staff has established protocols to identify, notify, and, if necessary, quarantine any contacts of Ebola cases.

The Health Department is also working closely with HHC leadership, Bellevue's clinical team and the New York State Department of Health to ensure that all staff caring for the patient do so while following the utmost safety guidelines and protocols.

The chances of the average New Yorker contracting Ebola are extremely slim. Ebola is spread by directly touching the bodily fluids of an infected person. You cannot be infected simply by being near someone who has Ebola.

Source: http://www.nyc.gov

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shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Thu, 23 Oct 2014 22:44:41 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/56275-statement-on-patient-at-bellevue-hospital-who-returned-from-one-of-the-countries-with-ebola-outbreak.html
Statement by Doctors Without Borders on Returned Field Worker http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/56274-statement-by-doctors-without-borders-on-returned-field-worker.html NEW YORK—(ENEWSPF)--October 23, 2014. Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) statement:

A person in New York City, who recently worked with Doctors Without Borders in one of the Ebola affected countries in West Africa, notified our office this morning to report having developed a fever.  As per the specific guidelines that Doctors Without Borders provides its staff on their return from Ebola assignments, the individual engaged in regular health monitoring and reported this development immediately.  While at this stage there is no confirmation that the individual has contracted Ebola, Doctors Without Borders, in the interest of public safety and in accordance with its protocols, immediately notified the New York City Department of Health & Mental Hygiene, which is directly managing the individual’s care.  

At this stage Doctors Without Borders will not be providing any further details about its colleague.

Source: http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org

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shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Thu, 23 Oct 2014 22:41:18 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/56274-statement-by-doctors-without-borders-on-returned-field-worker.html
Tests Find Monsanto’s Soy, Genetically Engineered for Heavy Pesticide Spraying, in Portland-Bought Infant Formula http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/56269-tests-find-monsanto-s-soy-genetically-engineered-for-heavy-pesticide-spraying-in-portland-bought-infant-formula.html

Source:  http://www.commondreams.org

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shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Thu, 23 Oct 2014 22:21:23 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/56269-tests-find-monsanto-s-soy-genetically-engineered-for-heavy-pesticide-spraying-in-portland-bought-infant-formula.html