BY CHARLE MAGNE
IT BEGAN with a bleeding nose and ended with a punch in the face. Yesterday’s meeting of European Union heads of government in Brussels started inauspiciously, when the Cypriot president was taken to hospital after a series of nosebleeds; caused, said doctors, by high blood pressure. (The Greek prime minister stepped in to represent Cypriot interests.) The day ended on a yet sourer note, when it emerged that Britain would have to stump up an extra €2.1 billion ($2.7 billion) for the EU budget by December, after the European Commission revised its calculations for gross national income, on which budget contributions are partly based, over the past 20 years. Italy, the Netherlands and Greece, among others, must also pay more; deliciously, the French and the Germans will enjoy rebates of varying amounts.
Commission officials were quick to point out that they were just applying rules agreed to by all EU members, including Britain, back in 2010. But the timing of the news was dreadful. Not only did it land in the middle of a European summit supposedly devoted to the tricky matter of climate change, it arrived in Britain at an extremely delicate moment in the European debate. In recent weeks the Conservative government of David Cameron [pictured] has adopted an increasingly hostile posture towards the EU, squeeezed by the rise of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), which wants Britain to leave the club. Last night Nigel Farage, UKIP’s leader, described the EU as a “thirsty vampire feasting on taxpayers’ blood”. MPs from several parties have urged the commission to rethink its demand.
The issue resurfaced this morning as leaders reconvened to discuss, appropriately, the sorry state of Europe’s economy. Mr Cameron gave an earful to José Manuel Barroso, the outgoing head of the commission, and Britain is calling for an “urgent” meeting of EU finance ministers to discuss the issue. The Italian prime minister, Matteo Renzi, was also furious. There are rumours that different parts of the Brussels machinery may disagree over the application of the commission’s rules. But the British government was evidently caught on the hop, and it is far from clear what the legal grounds for complaint may be.
For many, though, the big news from last night will be the deal struck on climate change, under which the EU has committed to reduce its overall greenhouse-gas emissions by at least 40% from 1990 levels by 2030. Each country will be obliged to reduce its emissions by a certain amount to reach the aggregate target. Some details remain to be worked out, but officials will be immensely relieved to have found a formula to satisfy all 28 members; just days earlier they had warned that negotiations might break down. It will be of scant comfort to No 10 today, but the deal represents something of a victory for the British position.
The negotiations had been peculiarly complex, even by EU standards. Poland, which relies on coal to produce 90% of its energy, threatened to veto any deal that would lead to higher domestic energy prices, but was won around after being promised various goodies, such as the right to issue free emission permits to its power sector. The Spanish, and particularly the Portuguese, were exercised over the need to build electricity interconnectors over the Pyrenees to allow them to increase energy exports; they won a pledge to increase interconnection rates to 15% by 2030. Britain and others wanted to ensure that targets on renewable energy and energy efficiency were not made legally binding, and largely succeeded: the efficiency target of 27% was lower than originally proposed and will be “indicative” (ie, little more than hot air), and the pledge that renewable sources will make up 27% of the overall energy mix by 2030 will be “binding at EU level”, a formula that appears toothless in the absence of national targets.
Such compromises were inevitable to secure the consensus needed for a deal. Green groups growl that the 40% target is woefully unambitious, and that the renewables and energy-efficiency goals should have been made nationally binding. But the headline figure at least secures the EU the leadership position it craves ahead of a global climate-change conference in Paris in December 2015, where leaders hope to strike a global deal on climate after failing to do so in Copenhagen in 2009. (The Kyoto protocol, which directs current emission-reduction efforts, expires in 2020.)
The EU is responsible for just 11% of global carbon emissions, and that number will fall further as the European economy continues its relative decline. But officials believe the EU still wields considerable soft power in international climate negotiations: they speak of a sequencing effect in which a European commitment triggers movement in the United States, which in turn shifts the Chinese towards a more accommodating position. And the European pledge to reduce emissions by “at least” 40% leaves room to promise further cuts in Paris if other countries prove willing to make comparable commitments.
As Europe’s countries squabble over economic stagnation and fiscal rules, the climate discussion offered a rare opportunity to present a unified front to the outside world. The EU’s gesture on emissions reductions should indeed help give a fillip to the talks in the run-up to Paris. But the bitter acrimony into which this summit has descended will not soon be dispelled.
Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaks during a nationally televised address on CBC in this still image taken from video in Ottawa, October 22, 2014.
BY RANDALL PALMER AND DAVID LJUNGGREN
The Canadian government determined to return to business as usual on Thursday after a reported convert to Islam shot dead a soldier at the National War Memorial and rampaged through Parliament before being killed himself.
Employees began returning to the Parliament Hill complex amid tighter security. The House of Commons was set to open on schedule at 10 a.m. (1400 GMT), with Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaking at that time.
“This sends a clear message of Canada’s resolve to maintain its free and democratic way of life,” House Speaker Andrew Scheer said in a statement.
The flag flying over Parliament’s Center Block, where the gunman had burst in on Wednesday morning, was at half mast.
Members of Parliament said they would gather at the War Memorial, near the parliament, to honor Canadian soldier Nathan Cirillo who was shot at the site.
Parliament Hill and the downtown core were under lockdown for 10 hours on Wednesday as police scoured the area for more possible suspects.
“There was only one gunman,” said a Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer who was guarding Parliament Hill on Thursday morning, checking the identity cards of workers and media going into the parliament complex.
He said in the confusion on Wednesday morning, witnesses saw things from different angles, suggesting the possibility of second shooter but videos and further interviews showed this was not the case.
The killing of the Canadian soldier was the second this week with a possible link to Islamist militants.
In a brief address to the nation on Wednesday night, Harper pledged to redouble the country’s fight against “terrorist organizations.
“Let there be no misunderstanding, we will not be intimidated. Canada will never be intimidated,” he said.
“This will lead us to strengthen our resolve and redouble our efforts and those of our national security agencies to take all necessary steps to identify and counter threats.”
A convert to Islam on Monday ran over two Canadian soldiers with his car, killing one, near Montreal.
Both attacks took place after Canada announced this month it would send six jets to take part in air strikes against Islamic State fighters who have taken over parts of Iraq and Syria.
Harper said Canada would now “redouble our efforts to work with our allies around the world and fight against the terrorist organizations who brutalize those in other countries with the hope of bringing their savagery to our shores”.
Defense Minister Rob Nicholson said Canada’s deployment to Iraq would go on unimpeded.
The two attacks in quick succession could push the Canadian government to pause and rethink before introducing a planned bill to change the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act, said Wesley Wark, a professor at the University of Ottawa, who is an expert on national security and intelligence issues.
The bill to boost the powers of Canada’s main spy agency, CSIS, was slated to be introduced in parliament this week.
“What the government is now confronting is a choice with going forward on whatever its original, probably small-scale changes might have been, or sitting back and thinking about whether there is something more that needs to be done,” he said.
Canadian police were investigating Michael Zehaf-Bibeau as a suspect in Wednesday’s attack, said a source familiar with the matter.
Court documents show he previously faced a robbery charge in Vancouver and multiple drug-related charges in Montreal.
U.S. officials said they had been advised the dead gunman in Wednesday’s shootings was also a Canadian convert to Islam.
Treasury Board Minister Tony Clement tweeted that he would convene a regularly scheduled meeting on Thursday and added “#terroristsbedamned”.
“The last thing anyone in our community wants is to cower to this outrageous … murder,” Mayor Jim Watson said on CBC radio.
Hong Kong government officials, from right, the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Undersecretary Bureau Lau Kong-wah, Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Secretary Raymond Tam, Chief Secretary for Administration Carrie Lam, Justice Secretary Rimsky.
By KELVIN CHAN and JACK CHANG
On one side of the table sat the idealistic and earnest students in jeans and black T-shirts, knapsacks by their sides. Facing them was the lineup of seasoned government officials in formal suits.
In an unprecedented two-hour televised meeting Tuesday, the students passionately explained why they had taken to the streets for more than three weeks to fight for greater democracy in the specially-run Chinese region. The officials responded that the students’ demands were not legally feasible.
The discussion yielded scant progress, and protesters remained camped in the streets of three busy districts of the Asian financial hub on Wednesday.
The meeting also highlights the vast generational and political divide that needs to be bridged to end Hong Kong’s biggest political crisis since China took control of the city 17 years ago.
The student-led protests are rooted in growing discontent among young people about poor economic prospects in the territory with one of the world’s biggest wealth gaps. The protesters want Hong Kong’s government to abandon a requirement by China’s legislature for a committee to screen candidates for inaugural 2017 elections for the top leader. The students say it gives the city’s pro-Beijing elite too much say.
President Xi Jinping, who has taken a hard-line approach to dissent in other Chinese regions, is unlikely to give any ground.
As student leaders considered whether to meet officials again, protesters vowed to keep occupying the protest zones despite three court injunctions granted this week to taxi and minibus operators and the owner of an office tower ordering them to leave.
Cheung Kuen, a retired 55-year-old stock trader who watched the entire meeting, said there were no winners.
“The students have their rights, and the government has its problems,” Cheung said. “Nothing has changed. The government side already gave some proposals, which were not very deep. The students and society already know them. Hong Kong is only a region and can’t do any more so now it’s about who has more patience.”
He said he agreed with the students’ reform proposals calling for open nominations for the election candidates, but he didn’t see any chance of them becoming a reality.
By ALAN COWELL
With a judge seeking to strike a balance between mercy and retribution, Oscar Pistorius, the South African track star, was sentenced Tuesday to five years in prison for killing his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.
The athlete’s defense team said the law under which he was punished calls for him to serve only one-sixth of the prison term — 10 months — before he can be placed on house arrest. He was also given a suspended three-year term on separate firearms charges.
But some South African legal experts said the conversion of prison time to house arrest was not automatic and required negotiations with the correctional authorities. After serving half the sentence, Mr. Pistorius can also apply for parole.
Ms. Steenkamp’s family said it was “satisfied” with the ruling, although the National Prosecuting Authority said it had not yet decided whether to appeal.
“I’m just glad it’s over,” June Steenkamp, the victim’s mother, told reporters outside the courtroom.
Mr. Pistorius’s family said it was not planning to appeal. “We accept the judgment,” Arnold Pistorius, the athlete’s uncle, said in a statement, appealing to the news media to “let us move forward” and “give us some degree of dignity and privacy as we do so.”
“Oscar will embrace this opportunity to pay back to society,” the uncle said.
After a trial that opened in March and that was initially set to run three weeks, Mr. Pistorius seemed impassive as Judge Thokozile Matilda Masipa ordered him to rise to hear his sentence.
Just before he descended the courtroom steps to the holding cells at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, the South African capital, he clasped the hands of relatives but showed little emotion. Earlier in the trial, there were times when he wailed, wept and vomited.
The often-delayed hearings have been broadcast around the world, captivating people in Mr. Pistorius’s own country and abroad. Every word has been broadcast — some of it restricted to audio coverage at the request of witnesses — and journalists have chronicled the trial’s every twist and turn in a barrage of Twitter feeds, dispatches, and televised interviews and commentary.
Virtually since the moment of the shooting, Mr. Pistorius has been free on bail, living in his uncle’s luxurious mansion. But for now, Martin Hood, a South African lawyer, told Sky News, Mr. Pistorius is a sentenced prisoner and will spend the night in a cell at Pretoria’s main prison.
“It’s going to be a cold, harsh reality for him tonight,” Mr. Hood said.
Live television images showed Mr. Pistorius being driven away from the courtroom in an armored police van. Blue-uniformed officers sat with him, while others, in bulletproof vests, were hanging from the rear.
In September, Judge Masipa found Mr. Pistorius, 27, guilty of culpable homicide but she acquitted him on more serious murder charges.
The prosecution had sought a 10-year jail term, while the defense had requested that he be placed under house arrest for three years and perform community service. Judge Masipa had wide discretion on possible sentences ranging from a fine to 15 years in prison.
The disabled athlete has admitted killing Ms. Steenkamp, 29, on Feb. 14, 2013, but he said he did so by mistake, firing four rounds from a handgun through a locked toilet cubicle door in the belief that an intruder had entered his home.
Judge Masipa spent 65 minutes summing up her decision before telling the athlete, “Mr. Pistorius, please rise.”
Quoting at length from legal precedents, Judge Masipa said her sentence was “about achieving the right balance — proportionality.”
She was critical of the testimony of two defense witnesses, who had recommended a sentence of house arrest with community service. But she praised the testimony of Zach Modise, a senior prison services officer who said that South African prisons were equipped to deal with a disabled inmate’s needs.
Judge Masipa said a long sentence would lack “mercy,” while a more lenient sentence would “send the wrong message to the community.”
At the same time, she said, “the courts do not exist to win popularity contests.”
“It would be a sad day for this country if an impression was created that there is one law for the poor and disadvantaged and another for the rich and famous,” she said.
“Righteous anger,” she said, “should not cloud judgment.”
Judge Masipa focused closely on the moment when, in the early hours of Feb. 14, Mr. Pistorius rose from his bed, grabbed a handgun loaded with so-called Black Talon ammunition and fired four rounds.
Unlike similar cases involving negligence, she said, Mr. Pistorius knew “someone was behind the door” and his “aim was to shoot the intruder.” He was trained in the use of firearms, which imposed a “high degree of responsibility” on him.
“The toilet was a small cubicle,” she said. “An intruder would have had no room to maneuver or escape.” Such was the degree of negligence that a noncustodial sentence, the judge said, “would not be appropriate.”
As the trial neared its close, the defense made much of Mr. Pistorius’s anguish and of his steep fall from being a celebrated athlete to what it depicted as living in penury. He was stripped of lucrative sponsorships and forced to sell property and automobiles to pay legal bills.
Months before the shooting, Mr. Pistorius, nicknamed the Blade Runner for the scythe-like curved prostheses he used while competing, became the first disabled athlete to compete against able-bodied contenders at the London Olympic Games in 2012. He also competed in the Paralympic Games.
Shortly after the sentence was handed down in Pretoria on Tuesday, the International Paralympic Committee said Mr. Pistorius would not be permitted to compete in its tournaments for the full five years of the term.
There were some indications that the sentence was seen by some South Africans at least as too lenient. People cramming the street outside the courtroom told reporters that Mr. Pistorius should have been jailed for 10, or even 20, years.
“They are only scaring him with this sentence,” Reuters quoted Johannes Mbatha, a 38-year-old minibus taxi driver in Johannesburg, as saying. “It shows our society hasn’t transformed.”
“If it was a black man, he would have never received such a light sentence,” Mr. Mbatha said. “But that’s how things are in South Africa.”
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are expecting their second child in April next year, Kensington Palace has said.
The pregnancy had already been announced but the due date had not been released.
In a statement, the palace said the duchess continued to suffer from extreme morning sickness but her condition was “steadily improving”.
The duchess will make her first public appearance on Tuesday since her pregnancy was announced in September.
She will join Prince William to officially welcome Singapore’s President Tony Tan as he begins a four-day visit to the UK.
The duchess will also attend the Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2014 awards ceremony at the Natural History Museum in London.
The duke and duchess’s second baby will become fourth in line to the throne, behind older brother Prince George, who was born in July last year.
For the second time, the duke and duchess have been forced to announce a pregnancy before the duchess passed the significant 12-week milestone.
The duchess is again suffering from acute morning sickness – called hyperemesis gravidarum, a condition that may require supplementary hydration, medication and nutrients.
It affects 3.5 per 1,000 pregnancies, causes severe vomiting and can lead to dehydration, weight loss and a build-up of toxins in the blood or urine, called ketosis.
BBC royal correspondent Peter Hunt said there had been concerns that the duchess’s symptoms would persist, and there would be “relief” that her condition was improving.
He said the royal statement referred to “a baby” – apparently ruling out the possibility of twins.
With the new baby behind Prince George in line to the throne, our correspondent added that Prince William might have “a hope – it could be a deluded one – that there won’t be same same intense focus” from the media and public.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Oct. 18, 2014.
Elena Becatoros and Suzan Fraser,
SURUC, Turkey — Turkey wouldn’t agree to any U.S. arms transfers to Kurdish fighters who are battling Islamic militants in Syria, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was quoted as saying Sunday, as the extremist group fired more mortar rounds near the Syrian-Turkish border.
Turkey views the main Syrian Kurdish group, the PYD — and its military wing which is fighting IS militants — as an extension of the PKK, which has waged a 30-year insurgency in Turkey and is designated a terror group by the U.S. and NATO.
Washington has said recently that it has engaged in intelligence sharing with Kurdish fighters and officials have not ruled out future arms transfers to the Kurdish fighters.
“The PYD is for us, equal to the PKK. It is a terror organization,” Erdogan told a group of reporters on his return from a visit to Afghanistan.
“It would be wrong for the United States — with whom we are friends and allies in NATO — to talk openly and to expect us to say ‘yes’ to such a support to a terrorist organization,” Erdogan said. His comments were reported by the state-run Anadolu agency on Sunday.
Turkey’s opposition to arms transfers to the Kurdish forces is hampering the U.S.-led coalitions’ efforts to fight the extremists and further complicating relations between Turkey and Washington. The countries are involved in negotiations about Ankara’s role with the U.S. and NATO allies fighting the Islamic State group, which is attempting to capture the strategic town Kobani on the Syrian-Turkish border.
Turkey has demanded that the coalition widen its campaign against the militants by providing greater aid to Syrian rebels, who are battling both the IS and President Bashar Assad’s forces. Turkey has so far provided sanctuary to an estimated 200,000 Syrians fleeing Kobani, and recently agreed to train and equip moderate Syrian rebel fighters trying to remove Assad from power.
The White House said President Barack Obama spoke with Erdogan on Saturday about the situation in Kobani and steps that could be taken to counter IS advances.
“The two leaders pledged to continue to work closely together to strengthen co-operation against ISIL,” a statement said, using another name for IS militants.
Fighting between the militants and the Kurdish fighters defending Kobani continued on Sunday. Mortar strikes hit the town, sending plumes of smoke into the air. Three mortars also fell on the Turkish side of the border, landing in an open field where they caused no injuries. On Saturday and Sunday, IS appeared to be targeting the border crossing area, potentially in a bid to hamper Kobani’s last link to the outside world.
In an attempt to stave off the advance, a U.S.-led coalition has been carrying out airstrikes on IS positions in and near the town, as well as in other parts of Syria, particularly in the oil-rich eastern province of Deir el-Zour, as well as in Iraq. Several airstrikes hit Kobani on Saturday evening.
The flow of migrants into Turkey has intensified since IS’ push to take Kobani and cut access for Kurdish fighters to other areas of Syria they control.
On Saturday, IS fighters also weighed in on their attempts to take Kobani, arguing it wasn’t a fight against the Kurds.
“We came to establish the laws of God — not to fight the Kurds,” a fighter in army fatigues said on a video uploaded to YouTube. The video was uploaded by a user who appears to be embedded with the militants in Kobani. It appeared genuine and reflected Associated Press reporting.
But another fighter who appeared to be from a European country, judging from his accent in Arabic, described their aim “to liberate the land from the fifth of the apostates, the PKK and others,” referring to Kurdish secular fighters — who are overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim — as apostates.
The fighter said the U.S.-led coalition to fight the militant group was a sure sign of the justness of their cause.
“As for the planes that shell us 24 hours, day and night, by God we say: they increase our faith, assuredness and steadfastness. We know we are on the right path because all the (non-believers) of the world have gathered against us.”
UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos, visited one of the refugee camps set up in a school in the Turkish border town of Suruc.
While 900,000 people have been registered as refugees in Turkey since the Syrian crisis began four years ago, “the reality is that the numbers are nearer to 1.6 million,” Amos said.
“Of course countries have concerns about security, and about the impact on their economies and on essential services like health and education. But it’s also a crisis with a huge human impact,” she said. “The international community has to continue to do all it can to find a political solution to this crisis.”
This 2010 photo provided by tcu360.com, the yearbook of Texas Christian University, shows Nina Pham, 26, who became the first person to contract the disease within the United States.
A Dallas nurse who contracted Ebola while caring for a Liberian national with the virus will be transferred to a Maryland facility Thursday.
Officials confirm Nina Pham, who cared for Thomas Eric Duncan before his death on October 8, will be treated at the National Institutes of Health’s biocontainment facility in Bethesda, Maryland.
At Wednesday’s House subcommittee hearing on the Ebola response in the U.S., Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of NIH’s National Institute of Allergy & Infectious Diseases said that Pham is being moved because the NIH facility is state-of-the-art and that Pham’s condition is stable and had not deteriorated.
The NIH facility has one of four biocontainment units in the United States.
“The nurse is being admitted to the Special Clinical Studies Unit of the NIH Clinical Center at the request of Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital. She will receive state-of-the-art care in this high-level containment facility, which is one of a small number of such facilities in the United States,” NIH said in a statement.
“The NIH Clinical Center’s Special Clinical Studies Unit is specifically designed to provide high-level isolation capabilities and is staffed by infectious diseases and critical care specialists. The unit staff is trained in strict infection control practices optimized to prevent spread of potentially transmissible agents such as Ebola. No additional details about the patient are being shared at this time,” the statement said.
The 26-year-old was one of 77 hospital staff at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital who cared for Duncan. A second nurse, Amber Vinson, who also tested positive for the virus, was transferred to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta Wednesday.
On Tuesday, the Dallas hospital released a statement on behalf of Pham.
“I’m doing well and want to thank everyone for their kind wishes and prayers. I am blessed by the support of family and friends and am blessed to be cared for by the best team of doctors and nurses in the world here at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas,” she said.
On Monday, members of the church that Pham’s family attends held a special Mass for her in Fort Worth. Rev. Jim Khoi, of the Our Lady of Fatima Church, said Pham’s mother told him the nurse had received a transfusion that could save her life.
“Her mom says that she got the blood from the gentleman, a very good guy. I don’t know his name but he’s very devoted and a very good guy from somewhere,” Khoi said.
Jeremy Blume, a spokesman for the nonprofit medical mission group Samaritan’s Purse, confirmed that the plasma donation came from Dr. Kent Brantly, the first American to return to the U.S. from Liberia to be treated for Ebola. Brantly received an experimental treatment and fought off the virus, and has donated blood for transfusions for three others, including Pham.
“He’s a doctor. That’s what he’s there to do. That’s his heart,” Blume said.
Pham’s dog, a King Charles Cavalier Spaniel, is also in isolation.
By LESLEY MESSER and AARON KATERSKY
Joan Rivers died in a New York City hospital Sept. 4 at the age of 81. Now, there are some answers for what happened.
Rivers was sedated with propofol before she died of low blood oxygen during a procedure to treat voice changes and acid reflux, according to the New York City medical examiner.
Rivers lacked sufficient oxygen to her brain for a prolonged period of time, which caused brain damage, the medical examiner said. Her heart had stopped after she was sedated with propofol and undergoing procedures to examine her condition.
Joan Rivers Dies at 81
Joan Rivers’ Doctor’s Office, Yorkville Endoscopy, Under Investigation – But Wrongdoing Not Suspected
The medical examiner’s office said it found no obvious medical error and that the manner of death was “therapeutic complication,” indicating that death is an accepted possibility of the procedure she was undergoing.
Her daughter, Melissa Rivers, told ABC News, “We continue to be saddened by our tragic loss and grateful for the enormous outpouring of love and support from around the world. We have no further comment at this time.”
A person briefed on the Rivers investigation said an autopsy was not performed on Joan Rivers at the instruction of the family and in accordance with Jewish law. Instead, the report was based on a noninvasive physical examination and a thorough review of her charts from Yorkville Endoscopy, where she was undergoing her procedure, as well as her medical history.
As a result, the report from the medical examiner’s office does not explain what caused the sudden lack of oxygen. No additional information will be released by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, citing New York state law.
Rivers was being treated at Yorkville Endoscopy in Manhattan Aug. 28 when she suffered cardiac arrest. She was taken to a nearby hospital, where she arrived unconscious and was kept sedated by her doctors.
Her daughter confirmed a few days later that her mother was on life support.
The comic legend died “surrounded by family and close friends,” Melissa Rivers said.
“My mother’s greatest joy in life was to make people laugh,” she said in a statement. “Although that is difficult to do right now, I know her final wish would be that we return to laughing soon.”
Meanwhile, the New York State Health Department recently completed its “full investigation” of the clinic where Rivers was being treated, according to a DOH representative, and results will be released soon. A source said initially there was no suspicion of wrongdoing and the investigation was routine.
US low-cost carrier Frontier Airlines says it has placed six crew members on paid leave for 21 days “out of an abundance of caution,” after learning a nurse who had treated an Ebola victim may have been symptomatic when she flew on the airline earlier this week.
The leave affects two pilots and four flight attendants aboard flight 1143 from Cleveland to Dallas/Fort Worth on October 13, which carried a Texas nurse who later tested positive for the deadly virus, Frontier said in statement.
The Centers for Disease Control informed the airline earlier in the day the nurse “may have been symptomatic earlier than initially suspected, including the possibility of possessing symptoms while on board the flight,” the statement said.
The nurse, Amber Vinson, 29, was isolated immediately after reporting a fever earlier this week, Texas Department of State Health Services officials said.
Along with 26-year-old Nina Pham, her co-worker at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital who was diagnosed with the virus over the weekend, Ms Vinson had treated Liberian patient Thomas Eric Duncan.
Mr Duncan died of Ebola on October 8 and was the first patient diagnosed with the disease in the United States.
So far, Ebola has killed nearly 4,500 people, the vast majority of them in West Africa, where the outbreak began early this year.
In the worst hit country, Liberia, the transport minister announced she had gone into quarantine voluntarily.
Angela Cassell-Bush said she had quarantined herself after her personal driver became sick.
“I did not have any direct contact with him but I am doing it by precaution,” she said in a statement, adding that she would stay away from work for 21 days under agreed protocols.
It was not immediately known when her driver died.
Liberia’s chief medical officer has returned to work after being placed in quarantine for 21 days following the death of her deputy last month.
The Danish branch of medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), meanwhile, said in a statement a test was being carried out on one of its employees who had returned from West Africa and felt a “slight rise” in temperature.
A spokesperson for Hvidovre Hospital on the outskirts of Copenhagen said a test was being carried out but could not give further details.
European Union health ministers have agreed to launch an immediate review of screening of passengers departing Ebola-hit countries in West Africa.
The European Commission “will immediately undertake an audit of exit screening systems in place in the affected countries… to check their effectiveness and reinforce them as necessary,” health commissioner Tonio Borg said.
US seeks use of Spanish air bases
The United States has asked the Madrid government for permission to use the US air bases in Spain in its operation to combat the Ebola crisis in Africa, a Defence Ministry source said.
“The US authorities have indeed asked Spain to use their bases in the country as a transit point for logistics and engineers building up field hospitals in Liberia and Sierra Leone,” the source told Reuters news agency.
Madrid was set to agree to the request, he said.
“None of the planes will transport patients or people suspected to have contracted Ebola, or who have been in contact with infected people,” he said. “Spain will have a right to inspect the planes and passengers.”
The United States is deploying up to 4,000 troops to West Africa.
A decision is due to be announced late Friday when Spanish defence minister Pedro Morenes meets US defence secretary Chuck Hagel in Washington.
The United Nations has warned the world must get the Ebola crisis under control within the next 60 days or face an unprecedented situation for which there is no plan.
Dr Matthias Borchert is part of the Ebola International Rescue Committee in Liberia and told The World the situation for places hit by the outbreak is similar to a war zone.
“The disruption to the society is similar: firstly, all public services including health services, schools, universities, courts are shut down, so if you need medical treatment urgently, and it’s not Ebola, then there’s no where to go,” he said.
Stock markets, political campaigns affected by virus
Concerns about the potential spread of the deadly virus and its possible impact on the travel industry have played a part in the US stock markets S&P 500 and Nasdaq briefly falling into negative territory for the year.
The S&P tumbled more than 3 per cent to a session low, before rallying late.
US president Barack Obama held a crisis meeting with top aides at the White House after the latest Ebola diagnosis in Texas.
He pledged a “much more aggressive” response at home to the disease but insisted the risk of a serious outbreak on US soil was low.
Rising public anxiety over the virus forced the White House to shift into crisis mode and cancel two days of political events with just three weeks to go before critical midterm elections.
Since the announcement last month that the United States would send troops to West Africa, Mr Obama has repeatedly criticised the international response to the health crisis as insufficient.
July 12, 2013: An anti-abortion protester holds a placard as protesters line the railing on the second floor of the rotunda of the State Capitol as the state Senate meets to consider legislation restricting abortion rights in Austin, Texas.
WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court on Tuesday blocked key parts of a 2013 law in Texas that had closed all but eight facilities providing abortions in America’s second most-populous state.
In an unsigned order, the justices sided with abortion rights advocates and health care providers in suspending an Oct. 2 ruling by a panel of the New Orleans-based U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals that Texas could immediately apply a rule making abortion clinics statewide spend millions of dollars on hospital-level upgrades.
The court also put on hold a separate provision of the law only as it applies to clinics in McAllen and El Paso that requires doctors at the facilities to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. The admitting privileges remains in effect elsewhere in Texas.
Justices Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas said they would have ruled against the clinics in all respects.
The 5th Circuit is still considering the overall constitutionality of the sweeping measure overwhelmingly passed by the GOP-controlled Texas Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Rick Perry last year.
But even as it weighs the merits of the law, the appeals court said that it can be enforced in the meantime — opening the door for the emergency appeal to the Supreme Court.
The 5th Circuit decision had blocked an August ruling by Austin-based U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel, who had found that requiring hospital-style upgrades was less about safety than making access to abortion difficult. Yeakel’s ruling temporarily suspended the upgrade rules before they could go into effect Sept. 1 — and the order from the Supreme Court means they are on hold again.
Allowing the rules on hospital-level upgrades to be enforced — including mandatory operating rooms and air filtration systems — shuttered more than a dozen clinics across Texas.
Until the nation’s highest court intervened, only abortion facilities in the Houston, Austin, San Antonio and the Dallas-Fort Worth areas remained open. And none was left along the Texas-Mexico border or outside any of the state’s largest urban areas.
Some other clinics, meanwhile, had closed even earlier amid enforcement of the rule on admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. That portion has already been upheld twice by the appeals court.
The fight over the Texas law is the latest over tough new abortion restrictions that have been enacted across the country. The office of Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, a Republican who is the favorite in next month’s governor’s race, is leading the defense of the law.
Critics call the measure a backdoor effort to outlaw abortions.
Attorneys for the state have denied that Texas women would be burdened by fewer abortion facilities, saying nearly 9 in 10 would still live within 150 miles of a provider. The law’s opponents, however, note that still leaves nearly a million Texas women embarking on drives longer than three hours to get an abortion.
Democrat Wendy Davis launched her campaign for governor behind the celebrity she achieved through a nearly 13-hour filibuster last summer that temporarily blocked the law in the state Senate.