- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Second Texas nurse tests positive for Ebola; woman flew home from Cleveland before falling ill

DALLAS (AP) - The Ebola crisis in the U.S. took another alarming turn Wednesday with word that a second Dallas nurse caught the disease from a patient and flew across the Midwest aboard an airliner the day before she fell ill, even though government guidelines should have kept her off the plane.

Amid growing concern, President Barack Obama canceled a campaign trip to address the outbreak and vowed that his administration would respond in a “much more aggressive way” to Ebola cases in the United States.

Though it was not clear how the nurse contracted the virus, the case represented just the latest instance in which the disease that has ravaged one of the poorest corners of the earth - West Africa - also managed to find weak spots in one of the world’s most advanced medical systems.

The second nurse was identified as 29-year-old Amber Joy Vinson. Medical records provided to The Associated Press by Thomas Eric Duncan’s family showed she inserted catheters, drew blood and dealt with Duncan’s body fluids.

Duncan, who was diagnosed with Ebola after coming to the U.S. from Liberia, died Oct. 8.


Are rights at risk? World looks to quarantines, movement curbs to try to stop Ebola spread

JOHANNESBURG (AP) - Some doctors in countries hit hardest by the deadly Ebola disease decline to operate on pregnant women for fear the virus could spread. Governments face calls from frightened citizens to bar travel to and from afflicted nations. Meanwhile, the stakes get higher as more people get sick, highlighting a tricky balance between protecting people and preserving their rights in a global crisis.

The world could impose more restrictions to ward off a disease that has overwhelmed several West African countries, and exposed shortcomings in medical procedures in Texas and also Spain, where Ebola cases have been diagnosed. Such measures can be legal, lawyers say, but the challenge is to ensure that quarantines, curbs on movement and other steps do not intrude too heavily on civil liberties.

“People would rather do more than less, and the problem is that it becomes a slippery slope in terms of rights,” said Paul Millus, a New York lawyer who handles civil rights and employment issues.

Already, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia, where the Ebola outbreak has killed thousands, are trying to implement severe controls.

Authorities have imposed curfews, lockdowns and roadblocks. They have ordered a stop to traditional funeral rites that involve touching relatives’ bodies. An entire battalion of troops in Sierra Leone is in quarantine, waiting to deploy on a regional mission to conflict-torn Somalia.


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A police motorcade escorted an ambulance as it traveled to Emory University Hospital, which has a specialized isolation unit and already treated three Americans diagnosed with the virus.


Stocks swing wildly as fears of a global downturn hit markets; Dow drops as much as 460 points

NEW YORK (AP) - Fear drove Wall Street to one of its most dramatic, dizzying days in years on Wednesday.

Investors fled stocks and poured into bonds as worries about a global economic slowdown intensified. The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 460 points in afternoon trading, all three U.S. stock indexes were in negative territory for the year, and the so-called fear index spiked.

A late recovery limited the damage and left stocks mostly lower. But investors were shaken after the heaviest day of trading in more than three years.

“I think it’s fair to call it a global growth scare right now,” said Bill Stone, chief investment strategist at PNC Asset Management.

Investor concerns of a worldwide economic slowdown turned into outright fear after weeks of turbulence. Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, is struggling. China’s economy appears to be slowing. A batch of worrisome economic news in the U.S. also fueled the selling.


HBO going after 80 million US homes with no HBO with stand-alone streaming service next year

NEW YORK (AP) - Next year HBO is cutting the cord and selling its popular streaming video service HBO Go as a stand-alone product, as more Americans choose to watch the Web, not the TV. Viewers longing to see “Game of Thrones”, “True Detective” and “Veep” will no longer have to pay big bucks for cable and satellite contracts. So, is this the end of pay-TV as we know it?

“HBO and ESPN are the two main reasons why people have cable and satellite TV,” says Forrester analyst James McQuivey. “The whole industry has eyed them for years nervous that one day they would decide to do exactly what (HBO) said they’ll do in 2015. We don’t know until we see pricing and packaging how rapidly this will force a change in the way pay TV operators work, but it will definitely force a change.”

Millions already have cancelled pay-TV subscriptions - up to 10 million U.S. households are currently broadband-only. And about 45 percent of Americans stream television shows at least once a month, according to research firm eMarketer. That number is expected to increase to 53 percent or 175 million people by 2018, it says.

Video streamers aren’t falling behind on entertainment - so-called “cord-cutters” watched about 100 hours of video per month during the first half of this year, estimates the Internet research firm Sandvine. The trend accelerated as Netflix Inc.’s Internet video service expanded into original programming and bought the rights to show popular cable network shows such as “Breaking Bad” and “American Horror Story.” Netflix’s 36 million U.S. subscribers now watch about 100 minutes of Internet video each day, calculates BTIG Research analyst Rich Greenfield, based on Netflix disclosures about its customers’ overall viewership patterns. Netflix-watching accounts for about one-third of U.S. Internet traffic in the evening, according to Sandvine.

Amazon.com Inc., Yahoo Inc. and Google’s YouTube also offer Internet-only series as alternatives to pay TV.


Aided by US strikes, Kurds prove remarkably resilient in fight against militants in Syria town

MURSITPINAR, Turkey (AP) - Intensified U.S.-led airstrikes and a determined Kurdish military force on the ground appear to have had some success in halting advances by Islamic State fighters on a strategic Kurdish town near Syria’s border with Turkey - at least for now.

On Wednesday, the Kurdish militiamen were fighting ferocious street battles with the Sunni extremists in Kobani and making advances on some fronts, hours after the U.S.-led coalition stepped up its aerial campaign.

In a surprising display of resilience, the Kurdish fighters have held out against the more experienced jihadists a month into the militants’ offensive on the frontier town, hanging on to their territory against all expectations.

“People underestimate the power of determination,” said Farhad Shami, a Kurdish activist in Kobani. “The Kurds have a cause and are prepared to die fighting for it.”

They also have the advantage of fighting on familiar ground.


‘Inherent Resolve’ - US military operation in Syria and Iraq gets an official name

WASHINGTON (AP) - It’s less punchy than previous nicknames for U.S. conflicts in the Middle East — remember Operation Desert Storm and its thunderous attacks against Saddam Hussein? — but the Pentagon has finally named its fight against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria: Operation Inherent Resolve.

The naming, which took weeks of deliberation behind closed doors at U.S. Central Command and at the Pentagon, is part of an effort to organize a long-term military campaign.

But that name, Inherent Resolve.

Inherently bland.

It’s less awe-inspiring than other names chosen for U.S. military operations in Iraq over the past two decades - Desert Shield, Desert Storm and Desert Fox, for example. It appears to convey the no-drama approach that marks President Barack Obama’s style.


Getting out the vote: Registration is up, but how many will then turn out for Election Day

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Democrats claimed a big success after former President Bill Clinton campaigned across several college campuses in Arkansas recently, saying they signed up enough partisans to fill more than 4,000 volunteer shifts in their drive to re-elect Sen. Mark Pryor.

Now the concern is the “flake rate” - the people who fail to show up.

Welcome to the final stages of a costly voter turnout operation in Arkansas and other states that have competitive Senate races. These efforts loom as the Democrats’ possible last line of defense in a year when President Barack Obama is a political drag and turnout already would be far lower than in a presidential election year.

“We have to expand the electorate,” said Robert McLarty, in charge of the party’s effort to increase Arkansas’ turnout. Democrats say they have had dozens of offices across the state for months, a staff of about 100 and many more volunteers in a drive largely focused on African-Americans, young voters and women, particularly those who are unmarried.

There are a lot of potential voters to reach out to. Official figures show an overall increase of more than 8 percent in the state’s electorate this year.


2 men, 1 of them dead, cleared in 1985 killing after NY prosecutors say confessions were false

NEW YORK (AP) - Cleared of the murder that had put him behind bars for almost 30 years, David McCallum sobbed and thought of the man who wasn’t there with him.

Co-defendant Willie Stuckey’s conviction also had just been thrown out after Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson concluded the two confessed falsely as teenagers to kidnapping and killing a stranger and taking a joyride in his car. But Stuckey wasn’t in court Wednesday to be freed. He died in prison in 2001.

“After 29 years, it’s a bittersweet moment because I’m walking out alone,” McCallum, 45, said as he left court to hugs from relatives and applause from supporters.

But, he said, “freedom feels great.”

It came after a review by a DA who made wrongful convictions a campaign issue last year, and after McCallum’s cause was championed by former boxer Rubin “Hurricane” Carter. Carter became an international symbol of injustice when his triple murder conviction was vacated in 1985.


Police action against Hong Kong protesters sparks outrage as Beijing’s patience thins

HONG KONG (AP) - Riot police moving against activists sparked outrage after officers were seen kicking a handcuffed protester and dragging dozens of others away Wednesday in the worst violence against the pro-democracy demonstrations in Hong Kong since they began more than two weeks ago.

Clashes that erupted before dawn Wednesday continued early Thursday, as police used pepper spray to push back crowds of protesters trying to occupy a road outside the government’s headquarters.

Tensions were high but the scenes were not as chaotic as on Wednesday, when protesters were knocked to the ground by hundreds of police, some with batons, pepper spray and shields.

The clashes have worsened an already bitter standoff between authorities and activists who have taken over key roads and streets in the city to press for democratic reforms.

“Hong Kong police have gone insane today, carrying out their own punishment in private,” said pro-democracy lawmaker Lee Cheuk-yan. “Hong Kong’s values and its rule of law really have been completely destroyed by police chiefs.”

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