Submitted by: Veronica Coffin
New York City police officers working around the Harlem apartment of Craig Spencer, the doctor who tested positive for the Ebola virus on Thursday, were caught discarding their protective gloves and masks in a street-corner trash bin.
According to the New York Post, the NYPD cordoned off the entire block in front of Spencer’s building on W. 147th Street. Authorities inside the apartment were reportedly wearing hazmat suits, so its possible that the gear-discarding officers were only on patrol outside the building.
Nevertheless, the video clip first posted by the Daily Mail caused a stir on Twitter.
I'm as anti Ebola hysteria as anyone, but really NYPD? Dumping protective gear in public?http://t.co/Zeo8SJCB2M
— B. Morgan (@bm87x) October 24, 2014
Sending NYPD to an Ebola infected home is not smart! Where is the NYC Health Dept or other health trained personnel?
— Denyse Naylor (@DenyseNaylor) October 24, 2014
Some took the opportunity to criticize the NYPD for various reasons, while others thought it was more important to point out the man who attacked two NYPD officers with a hatchet on Thursday.
Meanwhile, the Brooklyn bowling alley Dr. Spencer reportedly attended on Wednesday evening was closed down due to Ebola worries on Thursday. Owners of The Gutter said in a statement a show scheduled for Friday night is cancelled for now.“We are working with the NYC Health Department to have the bar cleaned and sanitized under their supervision and expect to be open sometime today after that is completed. Doctors advising the Health Department have told us that our staff and customers were at no risk.”
Spencer, who this month had worked for Doctors Without Borders in the Ebola-ravaged West African nation of Guinea, fell ill with a fever on Thursday and was rushed to a Manhattan hospital where he was put in isolation. A preliminary test showed Spencer was positive for the virus, which has killed around 4,000 people in West Africa and one person, Thomas Eric Duncan, in the US.
Dr. Spencer was reportedly screened for the virus at John F. Kennedy International Airport upon his return to the US from Guinea, as all travelers from West Africa have been checked in recent weeks. He “did not have a fever or other symptoms of illness” at the time, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In Washington, a new report released Thursday depicted a federal government that might struggle with an Ebola outbreak should it happen in the nation’s capital.
A new audit by the US Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general found that 84 percent of thousands of stockpiled bottles of hand sanitizer, saved in case of emergencies like an Ebola outbreak in Washington, has expired.
John Roth, the department’s inspector general, reported that the federal government had failed to “adequately conduct a needs assessment,” and now much of the safety equipment, including 16 million surgical masks, are either out of date or worthless.
“DHS did not adequately conduct a needs assessment prior to purchasing pandemic preparedness supplies and then did not effectively manage its stockpile of pandemic personal protective equipment and antiviral medical countermeasures,” Roth’s 50-page report stated.
The report found that 4,184 of the 4,982 bottles of hand sanitizer in stockpile for a possible virus outbreak or pathogen attack had expired, some as many as four years ago.
The Department of Homeland Security said in a response to Bloomberg that the inspector general “has not appropriately characterized [sic] a number of issues discussed in the report, resulting in a misrepresentation of the information and evidence that DHS program officials and subject matter experts provided to the auditors.”
Submitted by: Veronica Coffin
The battle over internet freedom is about to begin.
Shortly after being elected secretary-general of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) at a high-level meeting in South Korea Thursday, Zhao Houlin told Seoul’s official news agency that while everyone supports the idea of freedom of speech, what constitutes censorship is open to differing interpretations.
“We [at the ITU] don’t have a common interpretation of what censorship means,” the Yonhap agency quoted Zhao as saying. “A country can ask people not to watch pornography, and some consider this as also kind of censorship. We have not got a common definition.”
Asked about China’s rigidly-enforced censorship of politically sensitive material, Zhao replied, “Some kind of censorship may not be strange to other countries.”
China is infamous for curbing access to online material it deems subversive, using sophisticated technology both to block it and to track down and ultimately punish cyber dissidents.
Zhao, the ITU’s deputy secretary-general since 2006, was the only candidate nominated for the top post, and received 152 votes from the 156 countries present and voting at the conference. In his acceptance speech, he thanked “all Chinese friends who have worked hard to promote my candidature over the last two years.”
For the next four years, Zhao will head an agency which repressive regimes like China, Russia, Cuba and Iran have sought to use to promote international – that is, U.N. – control over the Internet, an effort opposed by liberal democracies.
The battle played out at an ITU-organized information summit in Tunisia in 2005, and again at the ITU-convened World Conference of International Telecommunications (WCIT) in Dubai in 2012.
The Dubai event ended with countries deeply divided over a raft of proposals to revise a longstanding binding global telecommunications treaty, some of which critics said would stifle Internet innovation and growth, and open the door to repressive measures by governments opposed to online free speech.
In the end the U.S., Europeans and other mostly Western democracies refused to sign the new treaty agreement.
Under the current, so-called “multi-stakeholder model,” a not-for-profit body called the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has since the late 1990s been responsible for overseeing Web domains and assigning protocol addresses. The Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) has oversight of ICANN.
Supporters say the system has worked, and has been largely free of U.S. government interference. But the likes of China and Russia are opposed to what they view as unacceptable U.S. control.
Last March, the Obama administration announced that when NTIA’s contract expires in Sept. 2015 it plans to relinquish its oversight of ICANN, opening the way for proposals for a new stewardship mechanism which the administration stipulated must “maintain the openness of the Internet.”
The Commerce Department sought to allay concerns that this would lead to U.N. control, with assistant secretary Lawrence Strickling telling reporters, “I want to make it clear that we will not accept a proposal that replaces the NTIA’s role with a government-led or intergovernmental solution.”
‘Under the auspices of U.N. institutions’
Autocratic governments are continuing to push back, and the current three-week ITU policy-making conference in the South Korean city of Busan is the latest arena.
In a policy statement delivered there (translation provided by the Heritage Foundation), Russian delegate Nikolay Nikiforov said Moscow believes rules governing information and communication technologies “should be developed under the auspices of U.N. institutions.”
“They should be based on adherence to the principles of non-interference in the internal affairs of states and their equal rights in the management of the Internet, the sovereign right of states to control the Internet in the national information space …”
In the U.S. policy statement in Busan, coordinator for international communications and information policy Daniel Sepulveda, voiced hope that the conference would move ahead in a spirit of consensus, but also cautioned against any efforts to stifle free expression or innovation online.
“This specialized agency of the United Nations exists to encourage and enable the deployment of telecommunications over air and wire and to ensure that those networks are interoperable and secure,” he said.
“We are not here to dictate or control how people use that connectivity to express themselves, organize, or create and operate the services that are enriching the lives of the 2.7 billion people connected to the Internet today.”
In an article last month Sepulveda and two other State Department officials involved in cyber and human rights policy predicted that Internet governance would arise in Busan.
“There are some actors who want to radically change the existing multi-stakeholder approach to Internet governance by centralizing control over the Internet under an intergovernmental organization, effectively giving governments sole authority over the choices that affect the Internet’s design and operation,” wrote Sepulveda, Christopher Painter and Scott Busby.
They gave three reasons to oppose this:
–The Internet’s dynamism would be diminished, due to slow decision-making processes in intergovernmental institutions;
–Stakeholders in civil society, academia and industry would be left out of Internet policymaking; and
–“Intergovernmental controls would inevitably encourage repressive regimes to attempt to introduce censorship or content controls.”
Submitted by: Veronica Coffin
President Obama’s trusted senior advisor, Valerie Jarrett, was a key player in the effort to cover up that Attorney General Eric Holder lied to Congress about the Fast and Furious scandal, according to public records obtained by Judicial Watch.
The information is part of a Department of Justice (DOJ) “Vaughn index” detailing records about the gun-running operation known as Fast and Furious. JW had to sue the agency for the records after the Obama administration failed to provide them under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). A federal court ordered the DOJ to provide the records over the agency’s objections. Yesterday JW reported on the broad information in the records, including that Obama asserted executive privilege for Holder’s wife as part of the administration’s efforts to cover up the scandal.
Practically lost in the 1,000-plus pages of records is an index that shows Jarrett was brought in to manage the fact that Holder lied to Congress after the story about the disastrous gun-running operation broke in the media. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms and Explosives (ATF) ran the once-secret program that allowed guns from the U.S. to be smuggled into Mexico so they could eventually be traced to drug cartels. Instead, federal law enforcement officers lost track of hundreds of weapons which have been used in an unknown number of crimes, including the murder of a U.S. Border Patrol agent in Arizona.
The files received by JW include three electronic mails between Holder and Jarrett and one from former U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke to Jarrett. The e-mails with Holder are all from October 4, 2011, a significant date because, on the evening of October 3rd, Sheryl Attkisson (then at CBS news) released documents showing that Holder had been sent a briefing paper on Operation Fast and Furious on June 5, 2010. The paper was from the director of the National Drug Intelligence Center, Michael Walther.
This directly contradicted Holder’s May 3, 2011 testimony to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, during which he stated that he, “probably heard about Fast and Furious for the first time over the last few weeks.” The October 4, 2011 date may also be significant because it came shortly after the August 30, 2011 resignation of U.S. Attorney for Arizona Dennis Burke and reassignment of acting ATF director Kenneth Melson to the position of “senior forensics advisor” at DOJ.
The description of one of the e-mails, written from Jarrett to Holder, reads, “re: personnel issues.” Another, also from Jarrett, reads, “outlining and discussing preferred course of action for future responses in light of recent development in congressional investigation.” Unfortunately, the index is vague and that’s all the information we have about them. Nevertheless, given the timing and subject of these e-mails, it seems clear that Jarrett quickly became a key player in the Fast and Furious cover-up in the immediate aftermath of the revelation that Holder had lied to Congress.