Senegalese authorities confirmed Monday they are monitoring everyone who was in contact with a student infected with Ebola who crossed into the country and who has lost three family members to the disease, according to Babacar Dione, Senegal monitors contacts of first Ebola patient. So far, more than 1,500 people have died from the latest Ebola outbreak that hit Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria. The university student is Senegal’s first case of the dreaded disease. Dione reports: “The 21-year-old left Guinea on Aug. 15, just days after his brother died of the disease, according to Guinea’s Health Ministry. It said that the brother apparently caught Ebola in Sierra Leone. The student traveled by road, crossing into Senegal despite a border closure. He arrived in Dakar, the Senegalese capital, on Aug. 20, according to the World Health Organization, and was staying with relatives on the outskirts of the city. The agency said that on Aug. 23, he went to a medical facility seeking treatment for fever, diarrhea and vomiting – all symptoms of Ebola but also many other diseases. But he concealed from doctors that he had had contact with infected people. He was treated instead for malaria and continued to stay with his relatives before turning up at a Dakar hospital on Aug. 26.” Senegal’s Health Ministry said Sunday that they are examining every person who came into contact with the student twice a day. Since the man left home, the Health Ministry in Guinea reports his mother and a sister have died from the disease, while two other brothers area being treated. The arrival of the disease in Senegal has raised fears that the disease will spread even farther, but public health experts said that shutting borders and banning flights is not the answer. During a visit to the airport in Conakry, Guinea on Monday, Tom Frieden, the director of the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said: “Countries might try to restrict travel in order to protect themselves, and it will do the opposite. If we cut off these countries, we will interfere with our ability to support them and stop the outbreak and that will actually increase the risk to the rest of the world.” On Monday, Liberia’s President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf ordered civil servants to stay home to prevent the disease from spreading for another month and schools have been closed. Caleb Hellerman reports, Human trial of experimental Ebola vaccine begins this week, the National Institutes of Health will begin this week testing an experimental Ebola vaccine as anxiety and fears increase about the spread of the disease in West Africa. After an expedited reveiw by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, researchers will begin human safety trials, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, confirmed. The process for testing Hellerman describes as follows: “The experimental vaccine, developed by the pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline and the NIAID, will first be given to three healthy human volunteers to see if they suffer any adverse effects. If deemed safe, it will then be given to another small group of volunteers, aged 18 to 50, to see if it produces a strong immune response to the virus. All will be monitored closely for side effects. The vaccine will be administered to volunteers by an injection in the deltoid muscle of their arm, first in a lower dose, then later in a higher dose after the safety of the vaccine has been determined.” Fauci said preclinical studies normally done were waived by the FDA during reviews, so “we want to take extra special care that we go slowly with the dosing.” In addition, the vaccine tested on chimpanzees worked well noting that the method being used to prompt an immune response to Ebola cannot cause a healthy person to become infected with the virus. According to NIH, the vaccine will then be tested on healthy volunteers in the United Kingdom, Gambia and Mali after details are finalized in those countries. Fauci remarked the reason trials cannot be done in the countries currently affected is due to a health care infrastructure that cannot not support it, while Gambia and Mali were chosen due to a “long-standing collaborative relationships” with researchers in those countries. However, according to the NIH, officials from the CDC are in talks with health officials from Nigeria to conduct part of the safety trial there. Funding from an international consortium will allow GlaxoSmithKline to begin manufacturing 10,000 additional doses of vaccine while clinical trials are ongoing, according to a statement from the pharmaceutical company. These doses will made available to the WHO if they decide to do emergency immunizations in high risk communities. Another vaccine, developed by the Public Health Agency of Canada and licensed this month to NewLink Genetics, a company based in Iowa. According to the NIH, safety trials of that vaccine will start this fall. A third vaccine given in combination with Depovax developed by the NIH was tested on primates and found to protect them from infection. While vaccine will help to prevent the disease among health workers and other people high risk, development has also sped up for drugs to treat patients with the disease already. ZMapp, the most publicized in recent months, was formally tested on humans with five of the seven treated in the current outbreak still alive. However, experts say there is too little data to say whether it played a role in recovery of these patients including two American missionary medical workers, Nancy Writebol and Dr. Kent Brantly.
Meanwhile, at the start of Monday’s negotiations in Minsk, the Belarusian capital, pro-Russian rebels said they would respect Ukraine’s sovereignty in exchange for autonomy reflecting Moscow’s desire to strike a deal at this new round of peace talks, the Associate Press reports, Pro-Russian rebels lower demands in peace talks. The same day, brutal fighting continued in eastern Ukraine with rebels pushing government forces from an airport near Luhansk adding to their military gains. The peace talks follow last week’s meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. The negotiations involve former Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, Russia’s ambassador to Ukraine, an envoy from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and representatives of the rebels. This round of negotiations are quite different as rebels in a statement carried by Russia’s state run RIA Novosti news agency said they are willing to discuss “the preservation of the united economic, cultural and political space of Ukraine.” However, they demand amnesty and broad local power including being able to appoint their own local law enforcement officials in eastern Ukraine as Crimea is not part of this negotiation. According to RIA Novosti, rebel negotiator Andrei Purgin said the talks lasted for several hours Monday and will continue Friday as parties will discuss a ceasefire and an exchange of prisoners. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told students at at Moscow State Institute of International Relations on Monday: “There will be no military intervention. We call for an exclusively peaceful settlement of this severe crisis, this tragedy.” Ukrainian National Security Council spokesman Col. Andriy Lysenko said on Monday that “not less than four battalions and tactical groups of the Russian armed forces are active in Ukraine.” Fighting in eastern Ukraine between rebels and government forces began a month after the annexation of Crimea in mid-April killing 2,600 people so far and forced 340,000 to flee their homes, the U.N. reports. NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Monday regarding a planned summit in Wales to discuss how to protect member nations against Russian aggression: “(This) ensures that we have the right forces and the right equipment in the right place at the right time. Not because NATO wants to attack anyone. But because the dangers and the threats are more present and more visible. And we will do what it takes to defend our allies.”
While Ukraine deals with its own insurgency problems, Iraq and other world leaders address the issue of the Islamic State Militants that has overran large parts of Syria and Iraq. Nour al-Maliki, Iraq’s outgoing prim minister, Monday announced during an unannounced visit to Amirli that he would turn his country into “a big grave” for Sunni militants from the Islamic State group and praised security forces for their victory that ended the siege of a the Shiite town, according to Sameer N. Yacoub, Iraqi prime minister pledges to root out militants. In footage on state TV, al-Maliki ordered promotions and awards fro those who fought the battle. He vowed to root out Sunni militants from areas they control in the country. The U.S. airstrikes helped to liberate Amirli and were the first to hit areas where Iranian backed militias were fighting Sunni militants making an unlikely alliance between the U.S. and Shiite militiamen who fought American soldiers in Iraq. Since Aug. 8, the U.S. has conducted 120 airstrikes with aircraft and unmanned drones against the militants focusing on areas bordering self ruled northern Kurdish region where Kurdish forces are fighting militants. Monday, the United Nations reported 1,420 Iraqis have been killed in the violence in August which is down from the previous month. According to Yacoub: “The U.N. mission to Iraq, known as UNAMI, said in its monthly statement that the death toll includes 1,265 civilians and 155 members of Iraq’s security forces. Another 1,370 were wounded, including 1,198 civilians. July’s death toll stood at 1,737 people. In June, 2,400 were killed as Sunni militants swept across the country, the highest figure since at least April 2005.” In Berlin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel defended the decision to send arms to Kurds fighting the Islamic State in Iraq by telling parliament Monday that the group poses a major security threat to Germany and Europe, Noah Barkin reports, Merkel: ISIS Poses Major Risk To Europe. In a speech to the Bundestag lower house, Merkel said, “The far-reaching destabilization of an entire region affects Germany and Europe. Ladies and gentlemen, when terrorists take control of a vast territory to give themselves and other fanatics a base for their acts of terror, then the danger rises for us, then our security interests are affected.” Recent polls show that two out of three Germans think the government should not send arms to Kurdish fighters for fears the arms could end up in the hands of jihadists or could put a target on Germany’s back. However, Merkel in her speech notes over 400 German and hundreds of Europeans have taken up arms to fight alongside Islamic State militants and could return home at any time presenting a threat to Germany. Merkel said, “We faced a choice: not to take any risks, not to deliver (arms) and to accept the spread of terror; or to support those who are desperately but courageously fighting the barbarous terror of ISIS with limited resources. We are aware of the risks of this support, of course we considered them. But we also asked ourselves about the acute risks from ISIS if we do not deliver arms.” In the United Kingdom, Prime Minister David Cameron has laid out his plan to fight the threat posed by the group as returning citizens come home after fighting with the militants, but many doubt if Parliament will go for it, according to Karl Penhaul, Susannah Cullinane and Laura Smith-Spark, Cameron lays out plans to counter UK jihadi threat. Announcing his plan on Monday, Cameron said, “Dealing with this terrorist threat is not just about new powers, it is also about how we combat extremism in all its forms…Passports are not an automatic right. We will introduce specific and targeted legislation to fill this gap by providing the police with a temporary power to seize a passport at the border, during which time they will be able to investigate the individual concerned. This power will include appropriate safeguards and oversight arrangements.” While it will help to stop would be jihadists, Cameron said Britain need measures to prevent foreign fighters from returning. UK authorities estimate 500 Britons have gone to fight in Iraq and Syria with Islamist militants. However, oppositions lawmakers question whether it is legal to do so. The White House spokesman Josh Earnest said, “The most detailed intelligence assessment that I can offer from here is that there is no evidence or indication right now that ISIL is actively plotting to attack the United States homeland.” U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson believes while ISIS is not a threat at home, they prove to be a threat to Americans overseas notably the execution of American journalist James Foley and the threats of more killings to follow. Paul Cruickshank, a CNN terrorism analyst, said, “The threat is much greater in the UK, and that’s why you are seeing a raft of new measures in the UK to try and tackle this problem. They are very, very worried that ISIS may try and retaliate in some form or way.” Meanwhile, a U.S. drone strike against senior leaders of Al-Shabaab in southern Somalia Monday highlights continuing concern about extremists around the world. Will Geddes, a security analyst and managing director of International Corporate Protection, told CNN: “You will have various groups working together, sharing resources, sharing capability, and in this particular region, it’s important to try to dismantle it where possible” adding that Somalia’s porous borders mean it presents a particular risk. Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, a senior fellow at the Washington-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said it would be “a mistake to take our eye off the ball when it comes it al Qaeda” and warned that the rise of ISIS could aid the terror network. He added: “With ISIS’s rise, it gives al Qaeda a prime opportunity to rebrand itself as being a more rational, more moderate voice of jihadism, and as a result I think there’s a lot of risks of more money channeling into the al Qaeda network.”
While Europe becomes increasingly concerned over the Islamic State, Pakistan and China face problems within their own government. Jack Chang and Kelvin Chan report, China: No Open Nominations For Hong Kong Leader, China’s legislature on Sunday will not allow open nominations in the inaugural vote for Hong Kong’s leader stating it would create chaos, while democracy activists in the Asian financial hub said that a long threatened mass occupation of the heart of the city will happen. The guidelines laid out by China’s communist leaders could pit Beijing against Hong Kong democracy supporters representing a large swath of society, including students, religious leaders and financial workers. Benny Tai, a leader of the Occupy Central with Love and Peace protest movement, said: “At this very moment, the path of dialogue has been exhausted.” Tai told reporters the group will launch “wave after wave of protest action” in the coming weeks “until we get to a point when we launch the all-out Occupy Central action.” Li Fei, deputy secretary general of the National People’s Congress’ Standing Committee, told a news conference in Beijing: “These rights come from laws, they don’t come from the sky. Many Hong Kong people have wasted a lot of time discussing things that are not appropriate and aren’t discussing things that are appropriate. He has to be responsible to Hong Kong and to the central government. If Hong Kong’s chief executive doesn’t love the country and love the party, then that can’t work in one country.” Occupy Central said the plan to block the Central financial district was “the last resort, an action to be taken only if all chances of dialogue have been exhausted and there is no other choice.” It said that “the occupation of Central will definitely happen,” without specifying a date. Meanwhile Sunday, the incumbent leader of the nearby Chinese-controlled casino capital of Macau, Fernando Chui, was elected to a second five-year term by a Beijing-friendly committee even though 95 percent of 8,688 votes cast in a similar referendum were in favor of universal suffrage in 2019. In Pakistan, anti-government protesters stomred the building and took the state television channel off the air requiring Pakisrani soldiers and paramilitary forces to secure the headquarters Monday, Syed Raza Hassa and Maria Golovnina reports, Pakistani Protesters Clash With Police. The article reports: “Protesters led by opposition leaders Imran Khan, a hero cricket player turned politician, and firebrand Muslim cleric Tahir ul-Qadri have been on the streets for weeks trying to bring down the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Protests descended into deadly chaos over the weekend, with demonstrators clashing with police in a central area near many government buildings and embassies. Three people were killed.” Sharif, who was toppled by the army in 1999 coup came back with a big election win in May last year and refused to quite amid protest leaders rejecting his offers of talks creating deadly clashes. Army chief General Raheel Sharif met Prime Minister Sharif on Monday, but it was unclear what they discussed. Defense Minister Khawaja Asif told Reuters that later on Monday another crackdown on protesters could occur warming protestors against storming government buildings : “The writ of the state must be enforced. We hope to make a decisive move sometimes later today, not in the evening but even before that. I personally feel that the next few hours will determine the course of coming events.” If the protests get out of hand, the military could step in to impose a curfew or martial law. However, if the army sides with the protestors and put pressure on Sharif to resign, then an interim government would be put into place and early parliamentary elections would be held to elect an new government. U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said: “Violence and destruction of private property and government buildings are not acceptable means of resolving political differences, however, and we strongly oppose any efforts to impose extra-constitutional change to the political system.” Some ruling party officials accuse the military of orchestrating the protests to weaken the government, while disagreements on how to handle Islamist militants and relations with India have also caused turmoil.
In North Korea, three detained Americans told the foreign media on Monday that they were allowed to contact their families and called for Washington to negotiate their freedom, the Associated Press reports, Americans detained in North Korea call for U.S. help. Jeffrey Fowle and Mathew Miller said they expect to face trial within a month, but do not know what they will be charged with or what the punishment is, while Kenneth Bae, serving a 15 year term, said his heath has deteriorated at the labor camp where he works eight hours a day. Talking to the Associate Press in Pyongyang, they said the only solution to their situation is for a U.S. representative to come to North Korea to make a direct appeal. No date has been announced for a trial, but North Korea says Fowle and Miller committed Hostile acts that violate their status as tourists. In Washington, National Security Council spokesman Patrick Ventrell said, “We have seen the reports of interviews with the three American citizens detained in North Korea. Securing the release of U.S. citizens is a top priority and we have followed these cases closely in the White House. We continue to do all we can to secure their earliest possible release.” Ventrell noted that the State Department has issued a travel warning recommending not to travel to North Korea. According to the Associated Press: “Fowle arrived in North Korea on April 29. He is suspected of leaving a Bible in a nightclub in the northern port city of Chongjin. Christian proselytizing is considered a crime in North Korea. Fowle, 56, lives in Miamisburg, Ohio, where he works in a city streets department. He has a wife and three children aged 9, 10, and 12. North Korea says Miller, 24, entered the country on April 10 with a tourist visa, but tore it up at the airport and shouted that he wanted to seek asylum. Miller refused to comment on whether he was seeking asylum. Bae, a 46-year-old Korean-American missionary, has been held since November 2012. He was moved from a work camp to a hospital because of failing health and weight loss but last month was sent back to the work camp outside of Pyongyang, where he said he does farm-related labor. He said he has lost 15 pounds (6.8 kilograms) and has severe back pain, along with a sleep disorder. His family has said his health problems include diabetes, an enlarged heart, liver problems and back pain.” The U.S. has repeatedly offered to send an envoy for North Korean human rights issues, Robert King, to Pyongyang to seek a pardon for Bae and other U.S. detainees, but will no success as Washington has no diplomatic ties with North Korea and no embassy in Pyongyang. Instead, the Swedish Embassy has taken responsibility for U.S. consular affairs and met with Fowle and Miller. North Korea has been pushing tourism lately to bring in foreign cash, but remains highly sensitive to any action it deems political particular anything deemed to be Christian proselytizing. In March, North Korea deported an Australian missionary who was spreading Christianity after he apologized and requested forgiveness.