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Updated 1 Oct 2014 - 4 stories|
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Alaska Is Rattled By 6.2 Magnitude
by Eyder Peralta
A 6.2 magnitude earthquake rattled Alaska on Thursday. Luckily,
while very strong, it was a very deep quake, so no major damage was
Alaska Public Media reports:
"The shaking caught the attention of residents across a large swath
of the state, from Fairbanks down to Homer. In Anchorage, residents
posted pictures on Facebook and Twitter of messy aisles in Fred
Meyer, with shampoo bottles scattered across the floor, and tiles
missing from ceilings in midtown buildings.
"[Michael West, who directs the Alaska Earthquake Center in
Fairbanks], says events like this one are a reminder of what
earthquakes are capable of in Alaska. He says a strong earthquake
like this one that was more shallow and centered closer to a city
would be capable of causing widespread damage and even death. A 6.3
magnitude earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand in 2011 killed 185
people. West says he worries Alaskans have been lulled into thinking
that big earthquakes are no big deal."
Still, the Anchorage Daily News reports there were some dramatic
moments during the temblor:
"On the fifth floor of a downtown Anchorage law office, lawyer Allen
Clendaniel felt the shaking start slow and build in intensity.
"Out of the corner of his eye, Clendaniel saw bookcases come
crashing down in his partner John Wendlandt's office across the
hall. Legal volumes, case briefs and files tumbled onto a pair of
sofas and spilled over the floor.
"Clendaniel said he ran into the office to see if Wendlandt had been
pinned under the shelves."
"Luckily, he hadn't come in yet," said Clendaniel, whose office was
mostly spared from falling objects.
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Wars and Rumors of Wars
Armed conflict continues to put
Colombia’s indigenous communities at risk: Report
Armed conflict and forced displacement persist as threats for
Colombia’s indigenous peoples, according to a report by indigenous
rights organization ONIC.
The communities are victims of human rights violations and breaches
of international humanitarian law, according to ONIC.
Threats, attacks, killings, forced recruitment, sexual violence and
torture remain common scourges in indigenous territories, the NGO
One of the most disturbing figures in the report is that between May
and June this year 2,819 members of the Dobida Embera community in
the western state of Choco were displaced due to clashes between the
ELN and the Urabeños. The UN had previously said that at least 300
locals were forced to flee due to the violence.
MORE: 300 displaced in west Colombia over violence between ELN and ‘Urabeños':
“Despite the orders given by the Constitutional Court of Colombia
regarding the protection of at least 64 indigenous people they
continue to be at high risk for physical and cultural extermination.
This is due to the armed conflict and forced displacement. The
nature of the violations reaffirms the ineffective protective
measures of the national and international bodies involved,” reads
Between January and September ten people died “as a result of
selective murder by the actions of armed forces.” Among the victims
were three members of the Nasa people, two of the Awa, two from the
Embera-Chami, two of the Embera-Dobida and the Embera-Eyabida
According to ONIC, these people were killed for refusing to
collaborate with armed groups, denounce human rights violations or
due to false accusations. Among the perpetrators of these murders
are neo-paramilitary group Aguilas Negras, Marxist rebel group FARC
and the National Army.
Furthermore, 36 indigenous leaders have been threatened and “despite
the urgent actions that have been issued to the units responsible
for the protection of our leaders today, nothing has been done to
secure their lives. If anything, less is being done. ”
The presence of illegal groups and the Armed Forces on indigenous
land is still causing the confinement of these communities. They are
denied the right to travel freely on roads and rivers. The main
perpetrator of these actions is the Army, said the ONIC.
“We require all armed actors in the conflict to not involve
indigenous communities in the war. We also demand full respect for
the rules of international humanitarian law to protect us as
autonomous governments and unarmed civilians. Therefore, we demand
that the ELN not bind our communities in war and conflict nor
intimidate us with threats. For the indigenous people of Colombia
peace is not just a word it is a practice that every day we live and
practice in the territories, in our cycles of life and all those we
interact with,” said the indigenous rights group.
The ONIC report was published just days after the first World
Conference on Indigenous Peoples in New York, where the Economic
Commission for Latin America presented its report “Indigenous
Peoples in Latin America”. Governments are required to ensure the
well-being of these communities in a world more focused on the
extraction of natural resources from these regions than their
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As U.S. sees its first Ebola case,
learn how the virus spreads
by Michael Martinez, CNN
(CNN) -- As the worst Ebola outbreak in history touches the United
States with the diagnosis of the first case within America,
questions arise about how the infectious virus is spread.
Ebola is spread by someone who is ill and showing symptoms of the
virus. As people with the virus become sicker, they become more
infectious, experts say.
"Remember, Ebola doesn't spread before someone gets sick," Dr.
Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention, said Tuesday. "Ebola does not spread from someone who's
not infectious. It does not spread from someone who doesn't have
fever and other symptoms.
"So, it's only someone who's sick with Ebola who can spread the
disease," Frieden said.
The transmission of the virus occurs through contact with bodily
fluids -- such as blood, sweat and feces -- from infected humans or
According to the CDC's website, "Health care providers caring for
Ebola patients and the family and friends in close contact with
Ebola patients are at the highest risk of getting sick because they
may come in contact with infected blood or body fluids of sick
The virus cannot travel through the air, like a cold or flu virus.
"This is not an airborne transmission," said Dr. Marty Cetron,
director of CDC's Division of Global Migration and Quarantine.
"There needs to be direct contact frequently with body fluids or
Although a transmission could occur when someone shakes the sweaty
hand of an infectious person -- the uninfected person would have to
have a break in the skin of their hand that would allow entry of the
virus, said CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
"Keep in mind, this is something that's spread through bodily
fluids," Gupta said. "Once somebody starts to get sick, it means the
virus is being excreted in their bodily fluids. Shake hands with
somebody ... and you think I don't have breaks in my skin, (but) we
all have minor breaks in our skin. And there is a possibility that
some of the virus can be transmitted that way."
Medecins Sans Frontieres says that while the virus is believed to be
able to survive for some days in liquid outside an infected
organism, agents such as chlorine, heat, direct sunlight, soaps and
detergents can kill it.
What about planes? Can fellow passengers become infected if someone
on the flight has the virus? Could Ebola spread around the world via
While the CDC acknowledges it is possible a person infected with
Ebola in West Africa could get on a plane and arrive in another
country -- which is apparently what happened in the U.S. case -- the
chances of the virus spreading during the journey are low.
"It's very unlikely that they would be able to spread the disease to
fellow passengers," said Stephan Monroe, deputy director of CDC's
National Center for Emerging Zoonotic and Infectious Diseases.
"The Ebola virus spreads through direct contact with the blood,
secretions or other body fluids of ill people, and indirect contact
-- for example with needles and other things that may be
contaminated with these fluids."
Travelers should take precautions by avoiding areas experiencing
outbreaks and avoiding contact with Ebola patients.
"It is highly unlikely that someone suffering such symptoms would
feel well enough to travel," the International Air Transport
Ebola virus: Nine things to know about the killer disease
CNN's Susannah Cullinane and Madison Park contributed to this
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to stave off starvation in South Sudan’s civil war sanctuaries
Andrew Green in Jonglei state
Remote villages like Pathai have been engulfed by refugees and
agencies have been flying in rapid response teams to provide food
and medical aid
Kwene Biel has moved as far away from Bor as she can, but she has
still not managed to escape the conflict in South Sudan.
The capital of Jonglei state was one of the early frontlines when
the fighting started in mid-December and for two mornings in a row
the 30-year-old awakened to the sound of gunfire. Finally, she and
her husband decided to flee. He was shot and killed a few metres
from their house, but she kept running with their six children in
It took them 10 days to reach Pathai, a scrubby village in remote
central Jonglei. Though still within the war zone, she decided to
stay because it is far from rivers and roads that could bring
fighters. “If I had not come, I would have been killed,” she says.
Biel is one of nearly 14,000 people who have spilled into Pathai and
the surrounding areas in Uror county since the fighting started,
according to local leaders. It has brought the recent incomers
relative security, but the war has choked off their access to food.
Traders refuse to make the trip to Pathai and for months the market
has been empty of salt, oil and sugar. Stocks of sorghum from last
year’s harvest are nearly exhausted. This year’s crop failed because
there was not enough rain. Biel, who brought nothing with her and
has no land to plant, is feeding her children boiled leaves.
“Hunger is here in this county,” says Peter Gai Dual, a local
representative of the country’s relief and rehabilitation agency.
“Death is even here.” But aid workers are scarce, because they
cannot safely sustain relief efforts.
The conflict has left South Sudan riddled with these pockets of
hunger, especially in the north-east, where most of the fighting has
been concentrated. Officials have warned for months that the country
is teetering on the brink of a man-made famine. Jean-Louis de
Brouwer, a senior European commission official, says that while the
worst appears to have been averted for the time being, 3.5 million
people still face severe food shortages.
“Whether there is a famine or not, when you look at the number of
people who are estimated to be in emergency or crisis food
situations, all the conditions for a major humanitarian catastrophe
and disaster are already met,” he says.
And officials readily admit they do not know just how severe the
situation really is because of the difficulty of reaching places
In the best of circumstances, delivering aid in South Sudan is
fraught with logistical challenges. Even more so during the rainy
season between April and November, when frequent downpours turn the
country’s few roads to glue. Relief must come from the air, which
multiplies the cost. And then there is the added complication of
gaining permission for access from the warring sides.
Over the past six months, the World Food Programme and UN Children’s
Fund (Unicef) has turned to a rapid response mechanism (RRM). When
the combatants allow, the agencies fly teams of experts by
helicopter into remote areas to gauge food and health needs. Local
leaders rally communities to come and register. While people sign up
for food rations, health workers are on standby to put measuring
tapes around children’s arms and quickly assess whether they are
At the end of the registration, after health workers have started
underweight children on a course of treatment and injected vaccines,
there is a massive distribution of sorghum, lentils, salt and oil.
Children who are under five years old also receive a heavily
There have been 23 completed RRMs so far, reaching more than 460,000
people, according to Unicef.
Pathai is one of the newest missions. Kibrom Tesfaselassie, Unicef’s
team leader, arrived late last week. He says at the start of each
visit they are unsure what to expect. From Pathai, all they knew was
that “community leaders had communicated there is a need.”
Tesfaselassie’s initial impression was that the “biggest problem is
that there is no health system,” but was delighted there was no
evidence of widespread malnutrition. The first few hours of
registration had turned up only two severely and two moderately
malnourished children. But he cautions that without the
intervention, the situation in Pathai could become dire. Depending
on how long the registration takes, the food drop should happen this
week. They are scheduled to recur each month, though any fighting in
the area could disrupt those plans.
Like Biel, Nyagik Duok Riang, a 60-year-old blind woman, was one of
the first of nearly 2,700 people to turn up for registration on the
first day, arriving at sunrise with several of her grandchildren.
She has lived in the area all of her life, even through the
decades-long civil war between southern rebels and Khartoum, and
says she had never experienced anything like the current food
shortages. “During that time, the traders came. This,” she says, “is
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