Obama appoints “Ebola czar” to manage U.S. outbreaks
President Obama has appointed Ron Klain to manage the response to Ebola incidents in the United States on a federal level, making sure that all national agencies responsible for part of the response are coordinated and making timely decisions. According to CNN, Klain is a well-respected crisis-response manager in D.C. who supervised the allocation of stimulus funds after the 2008 financial crisis. However, some Republican lawmakers criticize the decision, noting that Klain has no health background. Meanwhile, the administration has also rolled out a new set of protocols for health workers, requiring special training and protective gear that covers all the workers’ skin and hair. So far, only three patients in the United States have been infected with Ebola. The 43 people who were exposed to the first patient in Dallas have been declared risk-free.
Pentagon declares climate change a national security threat
A new report released last week indicates that the Pentagon has begun to treat climate change as an immediate threat to national security, requiring immediate action from the U.S. military. Climate change may require the military to lead more humanitarian interventions in countries stricken by natural disasters. Natural disasters, damaged infrastructure, more limited access to food and water, the spread of disease, large numbers of displaced people and restricted availability of electricity all result from rapid climate change and may prove a destabilizing force in already fragile regions. The inability of unstable governments to respond to climate-related threats could further frustrate its citizens, feeding extremist ideologies and allowing terrorism to spread. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel called for the military to put politics and ideology aside in the name of sound planning for climate-related threats.
Experimental Ebola vaccine to begin trials
The World Health Organization (WHO) announced that experimental Ebola vaccine testing will begin in the next few weeks and trials could be administered in West Africa as early as January. About 1,000 people per week are being infected with Ebola, and that number could rise to 5,000 or even 10,000, according to WHO estimates. The organization warned that the vaccine might not be able to control the worsening epidemic in the most affected countries, but it could be used to protect health workers. Epidemiologists fear that the disease could spread from relatively small West African countries – Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone – to larger neighboring countries. However, the wealthier governments of Nigeria and Senegal have been able to successfully prevent the spread of Ebola sucessfully through quick quarantine measures and efficient coordination.
Turkey allows Iraqi Kurds to fight Islamic State in Kobani
Just hours after the United States air-dropped arms to the Kurdish forces in Syria, Turkey announced on Monday that it would help Iraqi Kurdish fighters cross its border to fight the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or Islamic State, for control of the Syrian town Kobani. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan previously compared Kurdish militants to Islamic State terrorists. Turkey refused to arm Syrian Kurds because of their links with the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK), an armed separatist group in Turkey that has been declared a terrorist organization by Turkey and its allies, including the United States and NATO. About 20 percent of Turkey’s population is made up of ethnic Kurds, many of whom took to the streets to pressure the Turkish government to open its border to Iraqi Kurdish fighters.