View 844 Thursday, October 02, 2014
“Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency.”
President Barack Obama, January 31, 2009
It was an interesting experiment, trying to follow breaking news about Ebola in Dallas, and a salutary lesson confirming that I have been well advised not to attempt that. Breaking news takes a while to become stable, and is easily subject to misinterpretation – or even to outright errors.
CNN is now reporting that Thomas Eric Duncan did not answer truthfully to airline questions about whether he had been recently exposed to persons suffering from Ebola, or corpses of those who died from Ebola. He stated that he had not, but it has been known for a day or two that he definitely was exposed to Ebola patients, at least one of whom died shortly after being rejected from a Monrovia hospital because they had no more beds. Mr. Duncan was transporting the patient in a taxi at the time, and helped carry her back into her apartment after they left the hospital; and there she subsequently died. Shortly after that he travelled to America.
The woman identified yesterday as Mr. Duncan’s sister is now said to be his fiancé, and the mother of one of his children. It is assumed that one of the five children living in the apartment Mr. Duncan returned to after being released from the Dallas ER Thursday night as not having Ebola (although he had a temperature and intestinal discomfort along with other signs consistent with Ebola, and of course knew he had been exposed to Ebola) – it is assumed that one of those children is his. All five have now been, not quarantined, but ‘restricted’ .
U.S. Pursues Contacts of Ebola Patient in Texas
Officials Look for Symptoms in at Least a Dozen People Who May Have Come Into Contact With Liberian Man
Health authorities are monitoring for symptoms of Ebola in at least a dozen people who came into contact with a Liberian man before he was hospitalized in Dallas, moving to contain the deadly disease before it can spread further in the U.S.
Among those who had contact with the sick man, Thomas Eric Duncan, are five children, ranging from elementary to high-school age, as well as a small group of adults, state and local officials said at a news conference on Wednesday.
Mr. Duncan is believed to have traveled "every so often" to the U.S. from Liberia in years past to visit family members, and this was to be his longest visit yet, according to an acquaintance of the sick man. He arrived on this latest trip Sept. 20, traveling through Brussels from Monrovia, to visit a Liberian woman who lives in Dallas, according to a friend of the woman. He started feeling unwell four days after his arrival, and was hospitalized in an isolation unit with suspected Ebola on Sunday. (Further reading: Number being screened for Ebola in Texas grows to 80).
Mr. Duncan was apparently not required to have a visa to visit the United States, and, as noted above, while he was questioned about his exposure to Ebola, and had no visible symptoms at the time of boarding the flight to Brussels (thence to Dulles, and then to Dallas), no other precautions were taken. Apparently US Immigration Officers at Dulles did not ask him about recent exposure to Ebola prior to coming from the United States; it may be that they were unaware that his flight originated in Monrovia, not Brussels.
We have no other information about the five children in the apartment of the woman now described as Mr. Duncan’s fiancé, and so far it is not claimed that he is the father of more than one of them.
The Governor of Texas has proclaimed that Dallas is a civilized city and thus Ebola will not spread there. Given Mr. Duncan’s activities it is also clear that the city enjoys diverse life styles, some of which have only recently been included in the definition of civilized.
The clean up in Dallas does have some problems.
Delay in Dallas Ebola Cleanup as Workers Balk at Task
DALLAS — More than a week after a Liberian man fell ill with Ebola and four days after he was placed in isolation at a hospital in Dallas, the apartment where he was staying with four other people had not been cleaned and the sheets and dirty towels he used while sick remained in the home, health officials acknowledged on Thursday afternoon.
Even as the authorities were reaching out to at least 80 people who may have had contact — either directly or indirectly — with the patient, Thomas E. Duncan, while he was contagious, they were scrambling to find medical workers to safely clean the apartment.
The four family members who are living there are among a handful who have been directed by the authorities to remain in isolation, following what officials said was a failure to comply with an order to stay home. Texas health officials hand-delivered orders to residents of the apartment requiring them not to leave their home and not to allow any visitors inside until their roughly three-week incubation periods have passed.
White House Says No Ebola Travel Restrictions
"The White House said Wednesday it will not impose travel restrictions or introduce new airport screenings to prevent additional cases of Ebola from entering the United States.
"Spokesman Josh Earnest said that current anti-Ebola measures, which include screenings in West African airports and observation of passengers in the United States, will be sufficient to prevent the “wide spread” of the virus."
As for further non-"wide spread" non-epidemic (so far) spot outbreaks (so far) like the one in Dallas, we peasants should understand there are Higher Considerations involved, shut up, and die if need be, serene in the knowledge that our betters in DC will be protected even if we demonstrably won’t.
They’re up to a hundred post-symptomatic contacts to trace and rising now, many occurring AFTER the Dallas hospital mistakenly turned US Patient Zero away for two days, after he’d flown here from Liberia after massive known exposure but still asymptomatic.
My confidence in our "current anti-Ebola measures" is, to say the least, limited. Good enough to prevent an outright epidemic here? Probably so, let us pray. Good enough to prevent some significant number of deaths plus once the first few are reported huge economic disruption?
That’s looking like a very poor bet indeed.
Thirty days symptom-free outside the hot zone documented before they can come here is looking pretty reasonable around now. Except, for no explained reason, to our betters in the White House.
How do we tell the difference between incompetence and outright hostility to our national well-being? That’s rapidly becoming the wrong question, with the right one being, since we can’t tell the difference, what do we do about it?
CNN is claiming that the latest Ebola scare is a mixed blessing, with a positive upside.
The upside of Ebola in Dallas
By John D. Sutter, CNN
(CNN) — There’s one possible upside to the saddening news that an Ebola case has been discovered in Dallas: It might catalyze the world to help stop this crisis.
U.S. troops head to Africa for Ebola mission
Andrew Tilghman, Patricia Kime and Michelle Tan, Military Times
About 1,400 soldiers will head to Liberia this month to help support the fight against the Ebola virus that is spreading across West Africa, a Pentagon official said Tuesday.
The Army’s 101st Airborne Division, based at Fort Campbell, Ky., will provide about 700 of those soldiers, while the other 700 will be mostly combat engineers culled from Army units across the force, Defense Department spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said.
The soldiers will be among the total 3,000 U.S. troops whom the Pentagon plans to send into West Africa this fall.
About 300 of the troops from the 101st Airborne will come from the division headquarters, and they will serve as the Joint Force Command for the mission. They are expected to arrive by the end of October.
Last night’s news reported that their first mission will be to figure out what it is they can do in Liberia, including studying the feasibility of constructing a 100 bed Ebola hospital; it was not clear who would actually man the hospital and do the treatments.
Doubtless someone will remind the White House of the Principle of the Objective. On the other hand I doubt many of those Airborne! soldiers expected to be sent without mission to equatorial Africa without any definite objective when they volunteered for military service. Undoubtedly there are people willing to so volunteer, but I would not think they are the same as those we need for our elite military striking forces. But it has been a long time since I was in the military, and perhaps I no longer understand what is the purpose of a professional soldier.
Porkypine asks an interesting question: what do you do when incompetence becomes indistinguishable from malicious intent? To professional soldiers the answer is clear. Shut up and soldier. Semper fi. It is not so clear to the people of the United States.
Toxic Assets and Recession
We are currently recurring, or trying to recover, from a recession brought about by a 10% default on mortgage payments. Nine hundred billion dollars were pumped into saving the economy.
The total student loan indebtedness is about a Trillion Dollars, and is expected to top $2 Trillion in 2020. The current default rate on payments is about 44% — that is only 56% of those owing the money are current in their payments.
Student debt is growing. The money goes to the schools, whose tuition rates continue to rise. In general, as long as the rise is met by increases in the amount of money pumped into the system by loans, they will continue to rise. This is very good for the unionized employees of the educational system.
The Trillions owed by students are carried on the US books as assets, and thus deducted from the national debt. The chance that all of them will be repaid is approximately zero.
Student-Loan Debt: A Federal Toxic Asset
Only about 56% of borrowers are making payments. At the peak of the mortgage crisis, 10% fell behind on payments.
Joel Best And
One note of good news: expect a sharp rise in American and Canadian real estate as wealthy Hong Kong citizens flee China. The last big upset in China brought an enormous rise in real estate prices as wealthy Chinese fled. There are more wealthy Chinese in Hong Kong than there were in China in those times.
Some principles of a Middle East Strategy…
Really liked this piece of yours – kudos. It’s kind of astonishing that our government can go running around like a lunatic, arming jihadists and then when they turn on us we drop bombs at random with no obvious plan or objective and seemingly no understanding of the history in that region… And the public so-called debate is, at best, somewhat removed from reality as we know it. Are there any adults left in our government? (Jerry Pournelle for Secretary of State!)
I would however like to point out another factor at work in that part of the world, one that you yourself have written powerfully on. I am referring to the ‘cycles’ of the Moties in your Mote in God’s Eye books. The middle east has a very high sustained fertility rate. Forget post-1970’s propaganda that population growth is always good: the reality is that (at least without an open frontier) societies with sustained high fertility rates are always wracked with poverty. When people are starving, when young men can’t earn a living and support a family, there cannot be anything stable, there is only chaos. You can’t govern chaos, you can’t manage it, you can only wipe it out or (my choice) wall it off. Anything else you try in a place like that will inevitably be worn down under the pressure of constant misery and corruption.
The low daily high record for Mount Rushmore was broken by 25 degrees Fahrenheit!
Subj: 1695 Low Max Records Broken or Tied
"It is error alone which needs the support of government. Truth can stand by itself."
‘Neoconservatism’s founding fathers abandoned the radical left, but many of them (though not all) retained radical characteristics when looking abroad, such as a faith that longstanding constraints can be transcended by reason and action, a belief in the universality of rationally constructed rights and the ultimate desirability of democracy in all societies, and, when they’re in a good mood, a belief that “an end to evil” is possible.’
Subj: The Moral Imagination of Russell Kirk
>>It was a brave or foolhardy man who would so thoroughly expose and harshly criticize academic nominalism and neophilia — the tendency “to know more and more about less and less,” to prefer exceptions to rules, to eschew all general views for specialized knowledge only, and to reject the great heritage of “metaphysical realism,” including hallowed “self-evident truths,” for nominalist and neoterist detail. <<
Did Marco Polo discover America?
And of course there is Longfellow’s Skeleton in Armor. (included in the California Sixth Grade Reader, http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00LZ7PB7E/ref=as_li_tf_til?tag=chaosmanor-20&camp=14573&creative=327641
Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.