New York City has reported its first case of Ebola. Dr. Craig Spencer tested positive after returning last week from Guinea where he was treating Ebola patients with Doctors Without Borders. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Spencer is in isolation at Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan.
Bill de Blasio: “The patient in question is a doctor who has worked with Ebola patients in West Africa, and when his symptoms emerged, he was taken to Bellevue by specially trained emergency medical service workers who followed all transport protocols. The patient is now in isolation. The Health Department has a team of disease detectives who have been at work tracing all of the patient’s contacts, and we are prepared to quarantine contacts as necessary.”
The West African country of Mali also reported its first case of Ebola on Thursday. The patient is a two-year-old girl who was brought from neighboring Guinea. Her father died of Ebola.
African countries are pledging to ramp up their response to the Ebola outbreak, which has officially killed nearly 5,000 people in West Africa, although the toll is likely much higher. The African Union said member states have promised to deploy more than 1,600 health workers.
Canada is vowing to fast-track the expansion of surveillance and detention powers for authorities after a shooting in the capital Ottawa. Prime Minister Stephen Harper spoke before the House of Commons one day after a gunman killed a soldier and opened fire inside Parliament.
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper: “Last week our government proposed amendments to the legislation under which the Canadian intelligence — the Canadian Security Intelligence Service operates. And as you know, Mr. Speaker, in recent weeks I have been saying that our laws and police powers need to be strengthened in the area of surveillance, detention and arrest. They need to be much strengthened. And I assure you. Mr. Speaker, that work, which is already underway, will be expedited.”
The shooting suspect, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, was shot dead inside Parliament by the sergeant-at-arms. Police say he was not on a watchlist of 90 high-risk travelers. He had applied for a passport and was being subjected to an “enhanced investigation” over his application, which police say may have “figured prominently” in his motive. Police are also investigating how he obtained a gun despite his criminal record. They say they have found no connection between Wednesday’s attack and a second one two days earlier where a man drove his car into two soldiers, killing one.
On Thursday, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said the Obama administration is working closely with Canada in the wake of the attacks.
Josh Earnest: “President Obama yesterday offered Canada any assistance that’s necessary in responding to these attacks, and our respective national security teams are coordinating very closely, including again today. As the president said yesterday, when it comes to dealing with terrorist activity, it is clear that Canada and the United States have to be entirely in sync. We have been in the past, and we will continue to be in the future.”
The shooting in Canada came one day after six Canadian fighter jets departed to join the U.S.-led war against the Islamic State in Iraq.
Islamic State militants have seized a village in the western Iraqi province of Anbar after overcoming resistance from members of the Albu Nimr tribe. The militant group has also strengthened its assault on Yazidi minorities in northern Iraq, reportedly killing a Yazidi commander. U.S. officials say it could be months before Iraqi forces are able to launch a sustained offensive against the militants on the ground.
A federal judge has ordered the Obama administration to outline in detail its reasons for concealing as many as 2,100 photographs showing the torture of prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2009, Obama agreed to release the photos, but later changed his mind, saying they would “inflame anti-American opinion and put our troops in danger.” As part of a decade-long transparency case brought by the American Civil Liberties Union, the judge ordered the government to delineate, for each photograph, its reasons for keeping the images from the public. The photographs are reportedly more disturbing than the famous images of torture by U.S. forces at Abu Ghraib in Iraq.
In Mexico, the governor of the southern state of Guerrero, where 43 students disappeared following a police ambush, has resigned. Governor Ángel Aguirre Rivero is from the same political party as the mayor of Iguala, who is accused of ordering the attack on the students. Aguirre has been a target of ongoing protests for allowing corruption to go unchecked.
An attorney for Haitians impacted by a deadly outbreak of cholera has asked a U.S. judge to let their lawsuit against the United Nations move forward. The outbreak in Haiti, which killed more than 8,500 people, has been traced to U.N. peacekeepers who responded to the 2010 earthquake. At Thursday’s hearing, an attorney from the Justice Department appeared in court to argue the United Nations is immune from such legal action. But Beatrice Lindstrom, attorney for the plaintiffs, said the United Nations should be held accountable.
Beatrice Lindstrom: “We argued today that the United Nations cannot enjoy immunity in this suit when the United Nations is responsible for the death of over 8,500 people and over 700,000 people who have been injured. And the United Nations has clear legal obligations under their own treaties to provide remedies for people who have been harmed by the United Nations, and that is uncontested by the U.N. itself.”
In Pennsylvania, Republican Gov. Tom Corbett has signed into law a bill critics say will trample the free speech rights of prisoners. Dubbed the “Mumia bill,” the measure was introduced after imprisoned journalist and former Black Panther Mumia Abu-Jamal gave a pretaped commencement address at Vermont’s Goddard College. His speech was opposed by Pennsylvania officials and the widow of Daniel Faulkner, the police officer whom Abu-Jamal was convicted of killing. The law authorizes the censoring of public addresses of prisoners or former offenders if judges agree that allowing them to speak would cause “mental anguish” to the victim. Speaking to Democracy Now! from prison this week, Mumia Abu Jamal said that by signing the law, Governor Corbett had violated the Constitution.
Mumia Abu-Jamal: “As a governor and as an attorney and a member of the bar, he had to take a sworn oath for both offices, and that oath was to protect and defend the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the Constitution of the United States of America. By signing that bill into law, he has violated both of his oaths as governor and as an attorney.”
In news from Missouri, a private autopsy shows an 18-year-old killed by a police officer in St. Louis was shot eight times, six of them from behind. Attorneys for the family of Vonderrit Myers say the results suggest Myers was running away. Police say ballistic evidence shows Myers opened fire first. The officer, who has not been named, was off-duty and working for a private security company at the time of the shooting. His attorney said the bullet wounds in Myers’ legs occurred because Myers wound up lying on his side, with both his gun and his legs pointed at the officer. The death of Vonderrit Myers has fueled ongoing protests over the shooting of Michael Brown by Officer Darren Wilson in nearby Ferguson.
In upstate New York, residents formed a human blockade at a natural gas facility Thursday to protest a planned expansion of natural gas storage in the Finger Lakes region. The Texas-based company Crestwood Midstream is due to begin construction today as part of a plan to expand storage of natural gas in underground salt caverns on the shores of Seneca Lake. The lake provides drinking water to 100,000 people. Protesters, including the biologist, author and cancer survivor Sandra Steingraber, say the plan poses major health and safety risks.
Sandra Steingraber: “Even though outstanding questions have been raised by scientists and the public alike about the inherent instability of these caverns and the possible fault lines and accidents that can happen here, a lot of that data are hidden away from us. And yet we are being compelled to assume the risks without being able to offer our informed consent.”
Residents plan to rally again today. Earlier this month, an investigation revealed the administration of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo edited and delayed a federal study that revealed risks associated with fracking — a method of extracting natural gas. According to Capital New York, the edited version of the report removed a reference to the risks of storing gas underground.
In southwestern Germany, an exposed gas pipe at a construction site caused a massive explosion that killed a worker and injured 11 people. The explosion shattered nearby windows and sent flames shooting 650 feet into the air, while the heat melted license plates on nearby vehicles.
A small city in Florida has voted for the state’s southern counties to secede due to inaction by state leaders on climate change. Citing the risks posed by rising sea levels, city commissioners in South Miami passed a measure approving the creation of a new state called South Florida, saying it was “a necessity for the very survival of the entire southern region of the current state of Florida.” Florida Gov. Rick Scott has refused to acknowledge climate change is manmade. He is running against former governor Charlie Crist in a tight race for re-election.
Another prominent woman is facing online harassment after speaking out about sexism in the video game community. Actress and self-described gamer Felicia Day, known for her roles in the TV shows “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Supernatural,” posted an online statement saying she had previously been afraid to address the issue of harassment by members of the so-called Gamergate community. She said she was “terrified” that her personal information would be posted online if she spoke out. Just minutes later, an anonymous commenter posted her address and email. Earlier this month, feminist and video game critic Anita Sarkeesian was forced to cancel a talk in Utah over threats of a shooting massacre at the event. To see our interview with her, click here.
Frank Mankiewicz, who served as press secretary for Sen. Robert Kennedy and directed the 1972 presidential campaign of antiwar candidate Sen. George McGovern, has died at the age of 90. McGovern ran on an anti-Vietnam War platform against Richard Nixon in 1972. Mankiewicz reflected on McGovern’s candidacy in the documentary, “One Bright and Shining Moment: The Forgotten Summer of George McGovern.”
Frank Mankiewicz: “All this talk about him as a softy, it was just preposterous. I mean, the man is an authentic American hero. … We just lost an election. None of us went to jail. Most of the other guys went to jail.”
Mankiewicz also served as president of National Public Radio for six years. He died Thursday of heart failure in Washington, D.C.