TIME ebola

Military Prepares 30-Person Ebola Team For U.S.

Ebola-California-Preparedness
Doctors and staff participate in a preparadness exercise on diagnosing and treating patients with Ebola virus symptoms, at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles. Reed Hutchinson—AP

"They will not be sent to West Africa or elsewhere overseas and will be called upon domestically only if deemed prudent by our public health professionals"

The U.S. military is forming a 30-person medical team to prepare to respond to additional cases of Ebola in the United States, the Pentagon announced Sunday.

The “expeditionary medical support team” will consist of 20 critical care nurses, five doctors trained in infectious disease, and five trainers in infectious disease protocols, Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby said in a statement.

“In response to a request from the Department of Health and Human Services—and as an added prudent measure to ensure our nation is ready to respond quickly, effectively, and safely in the event of additional Ebola cases in the United States—Secretary Hagel today ordered his Northern Command Commander, Gen. Chuck Jacoby, to prepare and train a 30-person expeditionary medical support team that could, if required, provide short-notice assistance to civilian medical professionals in the United States,” Kirby said.

The team will begin specialized training in infection control and the use of personal protective equipment within the next week, at Fort Sam Houston.

“Upon conclusion of training, team members will remain in a ‘prepare to deploy’ status for 30 days, available to be sent to other [contiguous United States] locations as required,” Kirby said. “They will not be sent to West Africa or elsewhere overseas and will be called upon domestically only if deemed prudent by our public health professionals.”

Up to 4,000 American troops are being deployed to assist in responding to the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, but they are not involved in direct patient care.

The Pentagon team formation follows last week’s Ebola diagnosis of a second health care professional in Dallas, the third confirmed case of the virus in the United States, causing public concern about the spread of the disease to reach new heights.

The virus is only spread through direct contact with the bodily fluids of those who are symptomatic with the disease.

U.S. officials say they are confident they can stop the spread of the disease in the U.S. In an appearance on Fox News Sunday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health reiterated that the risk of an outbreak in the U.S. is minimal.

“There aren’t absolutes. Nothing is completely risk-free,” he said. “But the relative risk of things, people need to understand, is very, very small.”

TIME Crime

Police May Have Found Body of Missing UVA Student

"Thousands of hours have been spent by law enforcement and volunteers … we think they have proved their worth"

Police may have found the body of Hannah Graham, the University of Virginia student who has been missing for several weeks.

Charlottesville Police Chief Timothy Longo announced Saturday evening that a body had been discovered at an abandoned property, though he said an official identification was pending, USA Today reports.

“Countless hours, thousands of hours have been spent by law enforcement and volunteers in an effort to find Hannah,” said Longo, who added that he made a “difficult” phone call to Graham’s parents to tell them about the “preliminary discovery.” “We think they have proved their worth.”

Graham, a straight-A student and college sophomore, went missing in the early hours of Sept. 13 after attending a party.

Last month, police arrested Jesse Leroy Matthew Jr. and charged him with abducting the 18-year-old with intent to defile. Police say the capture of this suspect was also a “significant break” in the unsolved case of another murdered college student.

[USA Today]

TIME Crime

Annual Pumpkin Festival Goes Horribly Wrong

Dozens were injured and arrested

At least 30 people were injured and 20 taken to the hospital as police used riot gear and tear gas to break up an annual pumpkin festival that went awry near Keene State College in New Hampshire early Sunday morning.

“People were just throwing everything they could find — rocks, skateboards, buckets, pumpkins,” student Ellery Murray told the Boston Globe about a party Saturday night that got out of control. “People just got too drunk.”

At the annual Keene Pumpkin Festival, locals usually try and set a world record for the greatest number of jack-o-lanterns in a single spot, USA Today reports. This year, people overturned cars, ripped down street signs and ran from tear gas clouds as riot-gear-clad police tried to halt the disturbances. At least 12 arrests had been made.

“We deplore the actions of those whose only purpose was to cause mayhem,” Anne Huot, the college president, said in a statement. According to the college officials, both out-of-town guests and students were involved in the incident.

[USA Today]

TIME ebola

Here’s How Suspected Ebola Patients Can Be Restricted

Ebola precautions in the Netherlands
A man tries on special Ebola gear in Berkel en Rodenrijs, The Netherlands, on Oct. 17, 2014. Remko De Waal—EPA

And other Ebola quarantine questions answered

About 100 Dallas healthcare workers who treated Thomas Eric Duncan, who died of Ebola Oct. 8, have been asked by the Texas state health agency not to go to public places or travel by plane or bus. The voluntary requirements are designed to halt the disease’s spread, which continue to concern Americans this weekend as a cruise ship quarantined a health worker and an airline attempts to contact passengers who flew with an infected Dallas nurse.

But as health officials try to contain the spread of the disease, the restrictions by federal and state agencies as well as private businesses like cruise lines are increasingly bumping up against civil liberties, raising a number of questions about who can officially order a quarantine and whether someone can be kicked off a plane for having Ebola-like symptoms.

Who can order a quarantine?

State, local and federal authorities can all issue quarantines, which separate and restrict the movement of people who were exposed to a communicable disease. But it’s often state authorities that order them. Those health agencies often have significant powers to issue a quarantine if they suspect someone has come into contact with a disease like Ebola, says Wendy Parmet, a Northeastern University law professor. Texas, for instance, has strong policing powers in the case of a public health emergency to quarantine those the state believes to have come in contact with the disease. For example, the state can destroy property it believes may have come into contact with a contagious disease.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also issues quarantines, with its powers deriving from the Public Health Service Act and the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution. But the CDC is generally focused on issues at the border: flights and passenger ships coming into the U.S., for example. But it has jurisdiction over interstate flights as well.

Who can order someone to be isolated?

Local, state and federal agencies can issue an isolation order, which separates people with a contagious disease from those who are not infected.

What do those agencies have to prove to order a quarantine or an isolation?

Health agencies have an epidemiological checklist that helps them determine if someone showing symptoms of a disease is actually carrying it, says Indiana University law professor David Fidler. Those health agencies are generally required to be as unrestrictive as possible when issuing those orders. For example, the CDC can’t order a quarantine for longer than the general incubation period for Ebola, which is normally 21 days. If it does, an individual could theoretically take the health agency to court over the matter.

What happens if someone suspected of Ebola resists a state or federal order?

Because of the substantial powers given to the CDC and state and local health agencies, someone resisting a quarantine or isolation could be made to comply involuntarily. In Texas, it’s a criminal offense to resist a quarantine order.

“Most health agencies would certainly have the authority to send police in moon [hazmat] suits to physically put them somewhere in isolation or back in their house,” says Robert Field, a Drexel University professor of law and health policy.

What if you resist voluntary compliance, like the kind being asked of Dallas’s healthcare workers?

If healthcare workers resist signing the voluntary quarantine or defy its recommendations after agreeing to it, Emory University law professor Polly Price says that it’s likely an official quarantine would be ordered. “They could go and get a court order to formalize it, possibly even after the fact,” Price says. “But they would likely seek a formal quarantine.”

Can the CDC force a state health agency to quarantine someone?

The CDC does not have enforcement over state agencies, but Drexel’s Field says federal authority in those instances is rarely used. “It would be an unusual situation in which the federal government wanted to quarantine someone and a state did not,” he says.

Can you be kicked off a plane for being suspected of having Ebola?

Planes kick people off for all sorts of reasons, including joking about Ebola. So it doesn’t seem terribly far off that airlines could also kick someone off for having Ebola, considering they’re a private business and it wouldn’t be considered a discriminatory practice.

“The Americans With Disabilities Act says you can’t discriminate because of a disability,” says Drexel University’s Field. “But there are exceptions for someone who presents direct threats involving something like an infectious disease. An airline could use that exception to deny someone access to a plane.”

But it’s more likely that the CDC would get involved. Indiana University’s Fidler says that airlines are required to notify the CDC if there’s a sick passenger aboard who may have a contagious disease.

How about a cruise ship?

Cruise ships also appear to be able to temporarily quarantine or isolate a sick passenger or even remove them from a ship, but they would be required to immediately notify the CDC of such an event. Indiana University’s Fidler says it’s likely that a cruise ship would call the CDC for guidance on what to do.

But Peter Jacobson, a University of Michigan professor of health law and policy, says it’s likely that cruise ship passengers sign a contract that gives the captain wide discretion to take action to avoid harm to others on board.

TIME ebola

Obama on Ebola: ‘We Can’t Give in to Hysteria’

"This is a serious disease, but we can't give in to hysteria or fear," Obama said

President Barack Obama on Saturday urged Americans to remain calm about the Ebola virus that has thus far been diagnosed in three people in the United States and killed one, emphasizing that cautious practices on the part of health authorities as well as aid for the West African countries hardest hit by the disease are the best approaches to preventing it from spreading.

“What we’re seeing now is not an ‘outbreak’ or an ‘epidemic’ of Ebola in America,” Obama said in his weekly video address. “This is a serious disease, but we can’t give in to hysteria or fear.”

“We have to keep this in perspective,” Obama continued. “Every year, thousands of Americans die from the flu.” The President also pointed out that five people who contracted Ebola in West Africa had been brought back to the U.S. and treated successfully without infecting others.

The Ebola outbreak has so far killed 4,500 people in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. Liberian national Thomas Eric Duncan, who was diagnosed with the disease in Dallas after traveling from his home country to the U.S., died of the illness Oct. 8. A pair of American health workers have been diagnosed after coming in contact with Duncan and are being treated for the illness. More than 100 people who have been in contact with Duncan and the two sick nurses are being monitored for symptoms. Ebola has an incubation period of up to 21 days and is only transmitted by direct contact with the bodily fluids of a person who is already showing symptoms of the disease.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, under fire for not adequately instructing medical staff in how to deal with Ebola patients, took steps this week to address those criticisms. Several lawmakers have also criticized Obama’s handling of the crisis directly, with the President announcing Friday the appointment of a so-called “Ebola czar” to manage the country’s response to the virus.

Obama, however, warned against calls by some politicians to halt travel between the U.S. and West Africa. CDC officials and other experts have said cutting off the border would be ineffective because sick passengers can still take connecting flights through third countries, and it would make it harder to know who was entering the country and perform contact tracing if travelers later showed symptoms of the virus.

Obama also argued that stopping travel would halt the flow of health workers to West Africa, where they could help contain the disease. “We can’t just cut ourselves off from West Africa,” Obama said. “Trying to seal off an entire region of the world — if that were even possible — could actually make the situation worse.”

TIME ebola

Memorial Service Held for First U.S. Ebola Victim

Thomas Eric Duncan
Thomas Eric Duncan, the first Ebola patient diagnosed in the U.S., at a wedding in Ghana in 2011. Wilmot Chayee—AP

Family and friends of Thomas Eric Duncan, the first and so far only person to die of Ebola in the U.S., gathered Saturday for an emotional memorial service in North Carolina. Mourners celebrated the 42-year-old’s life at Rowan International Church in Salisbury, where his sister, mother and nephew worship, according to NBC affiliate WCNC.

Duncan died in Dallas on Oct. 8, and had started showing symptoms of the virus on Sept. 24 after travelling to Texas from Liberia. He wasn’t admitted to a Dallas hospital until Sept. 28 — two days after he first visited the hospital…

Read the rest of the story on NBC News.

TIME Ferguson

Ferguson Cop Said Michael Brown Reached for the Officer’s Gun

Officer Darren Wilson told investigators that Michael Brown reached for Wilson's gun

The police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown in Ferguson two months ago told investigators that he was pinned in his vehicle and that Brown reached for his gun, The New York Times reported late Friday. The story marks the first time the officer’s account of the shooting that sparked weeks of protests and sometimes violent clashes between outraged citizens and police has become publicly known.

Citing unnamed government officials briefed on the federal civil rights investigation, the Times reported that the police officer, Darren Wilson, told investigators he was in fear for his life as he and Brown struggled for the officer’s gun. Wilson also said that Brown punched and scratched him repeatedly, leaving swelling on his face and cuts on his neck.

FBI forensics tests confirm the gun was fired twice in the car, with the first bullet hitting Brown in the arm and the second bullet missing its target. Forensics tests also show Brown’s blood on the gun, on the inside of Wilson’s car door panel and on Wilson’s uniform.

Wilson’s testimony to investigators, however, contradicts some witnesses’ accounts, and does not fully answer still-looming questions raised by the shooting. Benjamin L. Crump, a lawyer for the Brown family, said Wilson’s story doesn’t explain why the officer fired at Brown multiple times after leaving the vehicle, for example.

“What the police say is not to be taken as gospel,” said Crump. “The officer’s going to say whatever he’s going to say to justify killing an unarmed kid. Right now, they have this secret proceeding where nobody knows what’s happening and nobody knows what’s going on. No matter what happened in the car, Michael Brown ran away from him.”

[New York Times]

TIME justice

Supreme Court Allows Texas Voter ID Law to Stand Ahead of Midterms

Voter ID Test
A voter shows his photo identification to an election official at an early voting polling site, in Austin, Texas on Feb. 26, 2014. Eric Gay—AP

Three justices issued a dissent calling the law "purposefully discriminatory"

The Supreme Court decided Saturday that Texas can enforce its controversial voter identification law in November’s midterm elections, despite recently blocking several similar laws in other states.

The law, which requires Texas voters to show photo identification like a driver’s or gun license, a military ID or a passport, is championed by some who argue that it reduces voter fraud. However, critics say it’s a means of disenfranchising voters, particularly minority groups and the poor, who can be less likely to have the government-issued identification required by the law.

While the Court left its decision over the law unexplained, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg issued a dissent criticizing the voter ID rules, calling them “a purposefully discriminatory law” that undermines “public confidence in elections.” Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan joined Ginsburg’s dissent, the New York Times reports.

A report released this month by the non-partisan Government Accountability Office showed that voter ID laws similar to those in Texas contributed to lower voter turnouts in two states in 2012—between about 2.2 and 3.2 percentage points in Tennessee and 2 percentage points in Kansas. Those declines were greater among younger and black voters.

Critics of the Texas law say it would disenfranchise 600,000 registered voters in Texas, disproportionately affecting blacks and Hispanic or Latino voters. Texas officials have countered by saying that estimates of the number of people who could be deterred from voting by the law are unfounded.

After many months of legal wrangling, the Texas law, first passed in 2011, was blocked earlier this month by Texas Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos of the Federal District Court in Corpus Christi. The Supreme Court’s decision overturns Gonzales’ injunction against the law, allowing it to be applied.

In the absence of an official explanation of the Court’s decision, some observers are speculating the justices allowed the law to stand to prevent confusion so close to the November’s elections. Those observers feel that reluctance to disturb the status quo as voting looms near has been the single common thread tying together several of the Court’s seemingly discordant decisions regarding voter ID laws in recent weeks.

[New York Times]

TIME stocks

Stocks End Volatile Week With a Big Rebound, Dow Jumps 263 Points

Traders are seen reflected on an electronic display as they work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on October 17, 2014 in New York.
Traders are seen reflected on an electronic display as they work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on October 17, 2014 in New York. JEWEL SAMAD—AFP/Getty Images

Investors got a much-needed break from a week of upheaval as markets climbed on good economic reports and strong earnings

After all the upheavals in the stocks this week, the markets closed Friday up sharply to recover some of their recent losses.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average broke a six-day losing streak by finishing up more than 263 points, or 1.6%, to 16,380. The Nasdaq composite was up 41 points, or 1%, to 4,258 while the S&P 500 was up 24 points, or 1.3%, to 1,887. However, even with Friday’s gains, the S&P 500 was down more than 1% for the week, handing the index its fourth straight week of losses, it’s longest such streak since 2011.

A handful of reports showing U.S. economic growth helped to fuel the rebound. A Commerce Department report showed that U.S. home construction grew by 8.6% from August to September while another report showed that U.S. consumer had hit its highest point since July 2007.

Investors were also reassured by positive earnings on Friday from bellwether companies like General Electric and Morgan Stanley. GE’s shares were up 2.8% on strong quarterly results while Morgan Stanley gained 2.4%.

Every company in the Dow 30 was up for the day, led by a 3.3% bump for UnitedHealth Group.

European stocks also showed improvement to end the week with London’s FTSE 100 rising by 1.9% and Germany’s DAX getting a 3.1% boost.

However, despite Friday’s gains, the three major indices all remain down for the week after several days of losses. October has been a rough month for the U.S. markets, which have been hit hard by continuing concerns about economic growth slowing down in Europe and Asia along with fears of the growing global Ebola epidemic. Investors in the U.S. have also shown ongoing concern over the Federal Reserve’s plans to eventually raise interest rates sometime next year.

On Wednesday, for example, the market underwent multiple wild swings throughout trading – during which the Dow fell almost 460 points in one point before recovering somewhat to finish down by just over 170 points.

So far this month, the Dow Jones has dropped by nearly 4% while the S&P 500 has fallen 4.3% and the Nasdaq is down more than 5%.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com

TIME Crime

Police Say MMA Fighter Who Beat Porn Star Girlfriend Tried to Kill Himself

Jonathan Koppenhaver
Johathan Koppenhaver who appeared in UFC's Ultimate Fighter TV show in 2007. Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department/AP

"War Machine" is accused of beating Christy Mac

A mixed martial arts fighter accused of brutally beating his porn star ex-girlfriend attempted suicide this week in his Las Vegas jail cell, authorities said.

A jail official found Jonathan Koppenhaver, 32, unresponsive on the floor of his cell Tuesday with linen around his neck and a suicide note in the room, News 3 reports. Koppenhaver, also known as War Machine, is accused of beating Christy Mack in August. He was reportedly in talks for a potential plea deal.

Prior to the suicide attempt, Koppehaver defended himself in a series of tweets.

[News 3]

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