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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Kaci Hickox - Maine must produce evidence for why she should be forced to isolation

Dear Governor LePage and DHHS Commissioner Mary Mahew- please don't waste tax payer money trying to legally isolate one nurse who has no symptoms of Ebola and tested negative for the virus. With all due respect about the concern for public safety and risk of Ebola, you would both better spend your time walking in Maine's neighborhoods where dangerous drug trafficking is overt and epidemic.

Kaci Hickox

Incredulous to have a disease prevention tug of war created over one nurse who has no symptoms of Ebola and has tested negative for the virus. This power struggle between Kaci Hickox with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and with the state of Maine, is absolutely ridiculous. Nurse Kaci Hickox is a professional, she knows how to self monitor and how to advocate for her civil rights. Instead of treating her like she's criminal, let's give her a heroine's welcome home.  In fact, Ms. Hickox has been where the fight to end Ebola needs to happen. She went to the battlegrounds in Western Africa where people are dying from Ebola.  If the world doesn't stop the Ebola outbreak where it has killed thousands of African people, then the fight here in the US will be a wasted effort. Thank you Ms. Hickox for your heroism in caring for Ebola victims and for standing up to senseless isolation rules imposed without any evidence of their effectiveness.

There's no evidence about how mandatory isolation can prevent the spread of Ebola. Nevertheless, the fact is, creating undue stress on professional care givers, like nurses, treating them like criminals, will exacerbate problems involved in trying to control the virus

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Ebola and public health 101 - disease outcomes follows socio economic status

Professional medical personal were asked how it is the Americans treated for the Ebola infection in the US were being cured? The response was: "The honest answer is, we're not exactly sure."

Yet, what public health officials know, because of decades of disease tracking, is that a person's socio-economic status is correlated with health outcomes.  

In other words, Americans are much higher on the socio-economic scale than most Africans. Therefore, an American's chance of recovering from the Ebola virus, when treated in the US, is greater than a person who is an African, regardless of where they are treated.  Consequently, "the honest answer is".. the right answer. Indeed, public health 101 doesn't know precisely why socio-economic status helps determine health outcome, but evidence supports the correlation.

For a disease that kills more than half of its victims abroad, Ebola in the United States is getting snuffed out at a remarkably fast rate.

When Dr. Kent Brantly became the first U.S. patient with Ebola in August, he was hospitalized for 19 days.

On Tuesday, when nurse Amber Vinson became the most recent American patient discharged, she was hospitalized for just 14 days.

Her colleague, Nina Pham, also went home after just 14 days.

"So the question is, why did our patient recover so quickly?" said Dr. Bruce Ribner of Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, where Vinson was treated."
The honest answer is we're not exactly sure."

But he and other health experts have several hypotheses.

Younger patients recover faster

Vinson, 29, and Pham, 26, were among the youngest patients treated in the developed world.

"We know from a lot of data coming out Africa that younger patients do much better than patients who are older," Ribner said.

But unlike West Africa, where Ebola has killed close to 5,000 people, Americans have the advantage of better nutrition. If an infected patient getting proper care normally has a strong immune system -- and younger patients generally do -- the chance of survival goes up.

The virus was aggressively attacked

"The general dogma in our industry in July was that if patients got so ill that they required dialysis or ventilator support there was no purpose in doing those interventions because they would invariably die," Ribner said.

"I think we have changed the algorithm for how aggressive we can be in caring for patients with Ebola virus."

Of the nine Ebola patients treated at U.S. hospitals, eight have survived. And all of those released have something in common -- they were treated at one of the country's four hospitals that have been preparing for years to treat a highly infectious disease like Ebola.

The sole fatality in the United States -- Thomas Eric Duncan -- was not treated at one of those facilities. (Julie's note: What's worse, the basic rules about infectious disease triage weren't implemented at Texas Health Presbyterian, in Dallas Texas, when Mr. Duncan first presented, ie, identify, isolate and inform - others.)

Speed matters

This may seem obvious. But sometimes it's the basics -- namely, the ability to pump ample fluids through patients with severe diarrhea and vomiting -- that can mean the difference between life and death.

"The most important care of patients with Ebola is to manage their fluids and electrolytes, to make sure that they don't get dehydrated," said Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "And that requires some meticulous attention to detail and aggressive rehydration in many cases."

When he first arrived at Texas Health Presbyterian Dallas Hospital, Duncan was sent home with antibiotics. He wasn't admitted for another three days.

Brantly, Nancy Writebol and Dr. Rick Sacra became symptomatic while they were still in Liberia -- and they had to be flown here, spurring a slight delay in treatment.

Most others were quickly tested and quarantined as soon as a low-grade fever was detected.

Transfusions may have helped

Most of the American patients received blood or plasma transfusions from other survivors. The plasma contains antibodies that could fight the virus in others.

Brantly donated plasma to at least three patients -- Pham, Sacra and NBC freelance cameraman Ashoka Mukpo. All three survived.

"It's very fortunate that the three patients I've been able to donate to, they and I share the same blood type," Brantly told CNN's Anderson Cooper.

There was some controversy about why Brantly didn't give plasma to Duncan, who eventually died. But health officials said the two did not have the same blood type.

Dr. Craig Spencer, the only Ebola patient still being treated at a U.S. hospital, recently received a transfusion from Writebol, one of the first American survivors.

Experimental drugs may have helped, too (Julie's note - this is probably the least of the reasons for the improved outcomes of US patients because the drugs used were truly experimental.)

Duncan received experimental medicine six days after admission to the hospital. It was a far longer wait than four other Ebola patients treated in the United States. Those patients got experimental medicine immediately.

Experts, however, say the jury's out on the effectiveness of these drugs.

Protective wear reduces exposure

The relatively swift recoveries of Vinson and Pham might also be attributed to their personal protective equipment (PPE) they were wearing when they treated Duncan.

While some nurses at the Texas hospital reportedly complained about PPE that left their necks exposed, at least Vinson was suited up.

"She was wearing personal protective equipment during the care of her patient in Dallas, and therefore it is quite likely that the amount of virus she was exposed to was substantially less than what we see in patients who get infected in less developed countries," Ribner said.

"And we also know that the higher the viral load that you get infected with, the more severe your disease is likely to be."

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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

American fixed wing air transport of Ebola patients using advanced isolation technologies

Republicans, especially New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, too quickly point fingers at the Center for Disease Control (CDC) response to the Ebola outbreak in Dallas Texas. Yet, the fact is the CDC has been involved in developing important transportation isolation technologies to provide quick treatment for infected individuals who need access to urgent care.

Excellent article in the Washington Post about how people infected with Ebola are transported via fixed wing transport back to their homelands for treatment.  Article by Josh Hicks.

When it comes to transporting Ebola victims by air, the world relies on just one small U.S. company.

Phoenix Air, a jet-charter service based in Cartersville, Ga., has flown 15 infected patients, including Europeans who worked in West Africa and five individuals who were treated in the United States — doctor Kent Brantly, photojournalist Ashoka Mukpo, missionary Nancy Writebol, and nurses Nina Pham and Amber Vinson.

Now the Defense Department is stepping up. The Pentagon this week said it is developing portable isolation units for use on its military aircraft, as thousands of U.S. troops head to West Africa to help combat the outbreak. The modules are expected to be tested next month and deployed in C-17 and C-130 transport planes by January.

“This system is being developed out of an abundance of caution, to reassure our service members working in Ebola-affected areas,” said Pentagon spokeswoman Jennifer Elzea. “There are no plans for DOD personnel to provide direct patient care, and therefore the exposure risk remains low” for troops, Elzea said.

The Obama administration has not decided whether it will use the isolation systems to transport non-military patients.

“This particular capability remains under development, so it would be premature to speak to its potential use,” said White House spokesman Ned Price.

One thing is for sure: The military transports would have greater capacity. Phoenix Air can fly only one infected individual at a time, whereas the military’s isolation units will hold up to 12 patients.

The Pentagon declined to share information about the development costs for the transport modules, saying the contract has not been finalized.

The tent-like isolation chambers mainly consist of a metal frame, a plastic liner and an air-filtration system. For the Phoenix Air flights, one doctor and two nurses attend to each patient.

After each patient is transported, the company sprays toxic disinfectant inside the module for 24 hours and sends the contents — including the plastic, the stretchers and even the walkie talkies — off for incineration by a federally licensed hazardous-materials disposal team.

Phoenix Air created three isolation units in 2011 with help from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Defense Department. Those agencies provided scientific expertise and advice on how to manufacture special materials, respectively.

At the time, the CDC wanted a way to return infected medical workers to the United States instead of treating them in the field, because of growing concern about international conflicts, said Dent Thompson, the company’s vice president of operations.

The transport systems were finished in late-2011, but the outbreaks had long since died down. The units were placed in storage.

“We would periodically make various federal agencies aware that it existed and said, ‘If you ever need it, we can use it,’” Thompson said.

A call finally came from the State Department’s chief of emergency medicine in late-July, amid growing concerns about the West African Ebola outbreak. Phoenix Air quickly assembled a volunteer flight and medical crew after government officials inspected the system and gave it a thumbs-up.

“Within 48 hours, we were on our way to get the first patient,” Thompson said, speaking of the flight to transport Brantly on Aug. 2. The plane took Brantly to Atlanta and turned around almost immediately to fetch Writebol.

Both trips, which cost about $200,000 each, including the decontamination process, were paid for by Samaritan’s Purse, a Christian humanitarian organization that the patients worked with in Liberia.

After those missions, Phoenix Air decided that the U.S. government should manage future transport efforts, because of the “real-world complexities of what it takes to make a mission like this work,” Thompson said. The challenges include dealing with U.S. customs officials, gaining permission to use foreign airspace and deciding which medical centers should treat the Ebola victims.

The State Department has since coordinated all flights, including those for foreigners returning to their countries. U.S. taxpayers pick up the tab for American patients, but the government requires reimbursement for the others.

“To me, this is no different from a soldier being shot in Afghanistan,” Thompson said. “The U.S. government is going to get that soldier and bring him home and put him in a medical facility.”

The federal government has been a longtime customer of Phoenix Air. In addition to flying executive charters and providing air-ambulance services, the business of about 225 employees also runs cargo for the military, provides flights for the U.S. Marshals Service and carried the White House’s presidential delegation to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

The company now keeps one plane on standby for transporting Ebola victims.

“We’re like a firetruck in a fire station,” Thompson said. “We’re ready to go.”

Josh Hicks covers the federal government and anchors the Federal Eye blog. He reported for newspapers in the Detroit and Seattle suburbs before joining the Post as a contributor to Glenn Kessler’s Fact Checker blog in 2011.

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Poem by the last nurse - Heroic nurses at Texas Health Presbyterian caring for Ebola Mr. Duncan

Thank you to the nurses who care for all patients especially those who respond to the most vulnerable and lonely like Mr. Duncan, the patient who died of the Ebola virus.

I was certainly inspired by this poem referenced by spokespersons on an American Nurses Association (ANA) webinar about Ebola preparedness.  

The last nurse to leave the hospital room where Thomas Eric Duncan died has written a poem about the Ebola patient, penned during the sleepless days after Duncan's death, a source told ABC News.

The source provided the poem to ABC News, noting that the nurse who wrote it asked to remain anonymous. Duncan, the first person in the United States to be diagnosed with Ebola, died at the Dallas hospital on Oct. 8. Two of the nurses who cared for Duncan -- Nina Pham, 26, and Amber Vinson, 29, have been diagnosed with Ebola.

(Editor's note: THR refers to Texas Health Resources, the company that owns Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital.)

A message to you

Inspired by the THR Family

You came to us sick, frightened, confused,

What happened next became international news.

We saw you so ill, with everything to lose

Our goal was to help you because that’s what we do.

Alone in a dark ICU room

We fought for your life, our team and you.

We cared for you kindly

No matter our fear

You thanked us each time that we came near.

As each day pressed on, you fought so hard

To beat the virus that dealt every card.

No matter how sick or contagious you were

We held your hand, wiped your tears, and continued our care.

Your family was close, but only in spirit

They couldn't come in; we just couldn't risk it.

Then the day came we saw you in there

We wiped tears from your eyes, knowing the end was drawing near.

Then it was time, but we never gave up

Until the good lord told us he had taken you up.

Our dear Mr. Duncan, the man that we knew

Though you lost the fight, we never gave up on you.

All of us here; at Presby and beyond

Lift our hats off to you, now that you’re gone.

You touched us in ways that no one will know

We thank you kind sir for this chance to grow.

May you find peace in heaven above

And know that we cared with nothing but love.

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American voters are not getting news about Russian ruble free fall

Americans who listen to Brian Williams on NBC reporting on his Making a Difference Report and Fox News just making stuff up, should give the Moscow Times a try. Theirs is real news, reporting on the free fall of the Russian ruble. Listen up American voters! A Russian ruble is now hovering at less than $0.25 on the dollar.

Could this news just be too close to the truth for the American network anchors to deal with?  

I submit, President Putin can't pay his military to maintain an assault on the Ukraine, keep a stabilizing presence in the Crimea and prop up evil President Assad in Syria with a ruble that's rotting.

Perhaps President Obama's lead on imposing economic sanctions against Russia is taking a toll on that nation's economy.  Ya think?

Our American news media should tell viewers the truth. Obama deserves credit. Rather than bomb Russia to smithereens over its unlawful invasion of the Ukraine, takeover of the Crimea, support for the evil Assad regime in Syria and the horrendous attack on an innocent Malaysian airliner, blowing it out of the sky, killing everyone on board....instead, President Obama's cautious approach tightened economic sanctions against Russia.  Now, the ruble is worth slightly less or only 1 cent more than 2 bits $US.

The Moscow Times reports on the ruble's free fall:

"Modest gains for Russia's beleaguered currency were rapidly reversed Monday as the ruble dropped to new record lows amid speculation that the Central Bank might abandon its policy of spending foreign reserves to slow the currency's decline."

Russia Eyes Shrinking Cash Reserves as Fight for Ruble Escalates by Harold Amos

The ruble sank to record lows against both the euro and the dollar Tuesday amid growing concerns over the Central Bank's policy of drawing down its foreign reserves to defend the country's beleaguered currency.

The Russian currency fell to 40.9 against the dollar in early evening trading, its lowest level since a traumatic 1998 restructuring, and dropped to 51.7 against the euro, a second historic low in two consecutive days. (note- today ruble = $0.24 cents)

  • LONDON (MarketWatch) -- The ruble continued to slide on Tuesday, hitting another record ...

  • Consistently butting at the upper end of the regulator-set trading corridor, the ruble's trajectory has caused the Central Bank to sell over $6 billion on currency markets since Oct. 6. While interventions have slowed the ruble's tumble, they have also generated questions about monetary policy.

    In a bid to decelerate the ruble's devaluation, the Central Bank has burned through $54.9 billion worth of foreign currency since the start of the year, leaving its reserves at a four-year low.

    Dear Republicans, especially those who are in rapture by Fox News rhetoric, it's time to wake up and deal with the truth.  President Obama has led America out of a near depression; and now his lead on economic sanctions towards Russia appear to be working.
    Moreover, Democrats need to be running toward these achievements and taking credit for supporting them.

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    Monday, October 27, 2014

    A progressive political opportunity for First Lady Michelle Robinson Obama

    Mrs. Michelle Obama is certainly too young and intelligent to fade quitely into the landscape after her husband's 2nd term as President ends her reign as First Lady, in 2016. 

    Following in the bold footsteps of Mrs. Hillary Clinton, there are hints of Mrs. Obama possibly seeking a senatorial run to fill the seat of retiring Senator Dianne Feinstein.

    Senator Michelle Obama? Is the first lady eyeing a Senate seat?

    Let's hope  it's not a rumor. Perhaps Michelle Obama has her eye on the seat of California Senator Dianne Feinstein, who is expected to retire in 2018. 

    That's the rumor, according to Orb Magazine, a new gossip site out of the Bronx. In an article published last Thursday, the magazine speculated that the first family has its sights set on California post-White House, and the first lady on a possible Senate seat.

    "Michelle Obama is being urged to move to California and pursue the Senate seat that will almost certainly be vacated by Dianne Feinstein in 2018 when she will be 85 years old," Orb reports. 

    It later continues, "To lure her to the Senate race, supporters have been reminding Michelle that California is solidly Democratic and there is no apparent frontrunner to succeed Feinstein – certainly no one with the stature, broad appeal and fundraising connections Michelle has."

    While few in the mainstream media paid much attention to the gossip when it was reported by the startup online publication quoting an anonymous source, ears perked when CNN's Candy Crowley gave the rumor a national platform by asking Sen. Feinsten about it in an interview on CNN's "State of the Union."

    When Crowley asked Feinstein for her reaction to the speculation, the long-time senator from California punted.

    "Well, I have no idea what I’m going to be doing in 2018. That’s four years from now, and that’s one of the nice things of a six-year term. I’ve served two years of my term and you know, I’ll make a decision in due time."

    How likely is it that the rumor is true?

    The Orb article suggested the Obamas are looking to relocate to Los Angeles – about as far removed from Washington as one can get – after the president finishes his term in 2016, which would allow Michelle Obama to fulfill the residency condition to run for Senate.

    "Hawaii is too remote; Illinois is a cesspool of political corruption...and New too dense with Clintons and Clinton acolytes," the magazine opines. California, however, is perfect.

    To back it up, the Wall Street Journal recently reported that real estate brokers in the Golden State have claimed that Obama-appointed representatives have inspected houses in Palm Springs on the first family's behalf.

    Of course, a Senate run would give the first lady – an Ivy League-educated attorney with a strong career that she reportedly set aside to support her husband's ambitions – an opportunity to pursue her own dreams.

    “Barack could golf year-round and Michelle could emerge from his shadow after 20 years and retake control of her own life,” an anonymous source told Orb. “Remember, Michelle is a Harvard-educated lawyer whose career was more robust than Barack’s was when they met.”

    And let's not forget that few can match Michelle Obama's name recognition, fundraising potential, and flat out popularity – at least in true-blue California. In fact, the first lady is a lot more popular than Barack Obama these days.

    Thanks to her much-higher approval ratings and star power (who else can make a viral video dancing with a turnip to DJ Snake and Lil John's "Turn down for what?" and link it all back to a campaign for healthy eating?), it's Michelle Obama who's often hit the campaign trail to help Democratic contenders ahead of the midterms - not her husband, with whom some candidates don't want to be associated.

    Still, we're inclined to think the rumor is just that: a rumor.

    For starters, the source is as tenuous as they get – Orb is a relatively unknown publication that appears to publish mostly gossip, and, at least in the Michelle Obama article, quote only anonymous sources.

    Even Sen. Feinstein – whose seat Michelle Obama is reportedly eyeing – doubts the story.

    "I’m flattered, if that should be true," she told Crowley on CNN's "State of the Union." "Somehow I do not believe it is true, but I would be flattered if it were."

    And of course, should she choose to run, Michelle the partisan candidate will suddenly become far more divisive than Michelle the 'above-the-fray' First Lady.

    After all, the last first lady who ran for a Senate seat won – and went on to become Secretary of State, and may very well make a run for the Oval Office herself. Not bad for a former first lady better known for her headbands than her healthcare initiative back when the American public first met her.

    Mrs. Obama is a Harvard-educated lawyer, former university administrator, and self-declared "mom-in-chief" who makes headlines with both her policy platforms and her fashion choices.

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    Father Zenon Decary an All Saints Day blog includes three Maine Franco-American biographies

    All Saints Day – three Maine Franco-American biographies

    Although three Franco-Americans are summarized in my blog link above, the article posted below gives more information about Father Decary posted after speaking with Pat Frechette email is

    A more in depth article about Father Zenon Decary was published in the on line publication Keep Me Current by Kate Irish Collins.

    Another try for Biddeford priest’s sainthood

    Posted: Wednesday, February 26, 2014 5:17 pm | Updated: 5:24 pm, Wed Feb 26, 2014.
    Pat Frechette with photograph of Father Zenon Decary in Saco. Father Decary was born in Canada ordained in 1894 and died in Biddeford ME in 1940. Photo credit Kate Irish Collins

    By Kate Irish Collins

    BIDDEFORD - There are many people locally who fervently believe that the Rev. Zenon Decary, born in 1870 and ordained as a priest in 1894, is still working miracles.

    They also believe he should be granted the status of saint by the Roman Catholic Church, and they are dedicated to make that happen.

    The first step in that long process is to get the new bishop from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland to agree to open an investigation into whether Decary was a “holy man,” who manifested the virtues of faith, hope and charity, along with those of prudence, justice, temperance and fortitude, during his life.
    This is not the first time that an effort has been made to get Decary canonized by the pope, according to the diocese. In 1992, then-Bishop Joseph Gerry was approached about opening a case for beatification, which is the first step toward sainthood.
    However, at that time Gerry said there was not enough evidence to support Decary’s reputation for holiness and there was also the absence of an authenticated miracle, which is required for someone to be beatified. In order for someone to be canonized, a second, separate miracle must also be authenticated.

    Despite this backdrop, a dedicated group calling itself the Friends of Father Zenon Decary is once again attempting to get the priest, who served at the now-closed St. Andre Church in Biddeford, named a saint. Decary also served at churches in Westbrook and Augusta, as well as in Canada, where he was born.

    Pat Frechette and her husband Gerry, who live in Saco, are the primary people attempting to get Decary declared a saint, although they are also supported by a core group of about a dozen members of the Good Shepherd Parish, which covers Biddeford, Saco, Old Orchard Beach and Lyman.

    According to Dave Guthro, spokesman for the Diocese of Portland, Decary is the only Maine-based priest that’s ever been put up for sainthood.

    He said that Bishop Robert Deeley, who was recently invested as the leader of the diocese, has not yet had an opportunity to review the request by the Friends of Father Zenon Decary to open an investigation and does not know when the bishop would make a ruling on the issue.

    Pat Frechette said this week that the friends group formed about three years ago and has been hard at work since then gathering evidence of Decary’s holiness and his working of miracles both before and after his death in 1940.

    In addition, the group has new efforts under way to prove that Decary was a holy man who is prayed to daily by many people seeking his intercession for healing and other favors. In fact Frechette believes she’s been blessed several times by Decary.

    As part of the effort to gather proof that Decary did work miracles, Frechette has collected more than 400 letters written by parishioners who received favors from Decary both before and after his death.

    Most of the letters were written soon after Decary died, and some were included in the book “The Good Father Zenon,” which was published in French in 1948 by the Congregation of the Sisters of the Presentation of Mary. It was recently re-issued in English by the friends group.

    The letters Frechette has collected speak of Decary healing the sick, particularly children. One of those is the Rev. Ron Labarre, a retired priest who is also an active member of the Friends of Father Zenon Decary.

    According to materials provided by the diocese, Labarre has often spoken about the times he was healed by Decary as a youngster. The first time occurred when Labarre was 15 months old and fell into a tub of boiling water.

    He was badly burned and the doctor at the hospital, fearing that Labarre would die, urged his mother to call a priest. Decary responded to the request and laid his hands on Labarre praying.

    He then told Labarre’s mother, “Have no fear, God has designs on this little boy.” In thanksgiving for that healing, Decary asked the Labarre family to make an annual pilgrimage to St. Anne de Beaupre in Quebec, which they did.

    The second time Labarre said Decary healed him when he was suffering from convulsions. His mother again called on the priest, and Decary told her to have Labarre’s godfather make a metal cross, which Decary blessed and placed around Labarre’s neck.

    Labarre said his convulsions ceased following that day and he kept the little cross with him always, until the time he was in seminary and the string on the cross broke, causing Labarre to lose it.

    Another member of the friends group, Armand Janelle, tells the story of how, when he was a child, he was not able to walk. Decary, seeing his mother carrying him around one day, ordered her to place Janelle under a nearby tree. The boy was running in less than a week.

    Decary also came to Janelle’s aid when he was 5 years old and had been struck by a car. One of his legs was so badly damaged that the doctors thought they would have to amputate, especially since gangrene had already set in.

    Janelle’s mother prayed to Decary, who had died by then, and not long after the infection cleared up and Janelle kept his leg. Both Labarre and Janelle say to this day they pray to Decary daily seeking his help.

    Other proofs of Decary’s holiness can be seen all along Pool Road, according to Frechette. She said when Decary’s brother, Arthur, who was also a priest, was assigned to St. Andre’s, as well, the two brothers would often walk from downtown Biddeford out to Hills Beach.

    Along the way, she said, they would toss pennies on the ground and pray over them. Frechette then talked about the various institutions for good that sprang up on Pool Road, including the now-defunct Notre Dame Hospital, the current St. Andre Health Care Facility, the convent for both the Presentation of Mary and Good Shepherd sisters and St. Francis College, which is now the University of New England.

    In addition, Frechette said that when Zenon Decary’s body was disinterred a few years after his death, in order for his grave to be moved, his casket was opened and his body showed no signs of decomposition, which she said is a sure sign of holiness.

    Frechette acknowledges that it can take many years and lots of money to get someone canonized, but those facts are not a deterrent for her or the other members of the friends group.

    She said their most immediate goal is to ensure that Decary’s spirit remains alive. To that end the friends are planning to create an interactive website, where people can learn about Decary, share stories of receiving favors from him and ask that prayers be said for them in Decary’s name.

    In addition, the group has started a monthly healing service, which is held at 10 a.m. on the first Monday of the month in St. Ann’s Chapel at St. Joseph’s Church on Elm Street in Biddeford. And the group is also filming Masses around the Good Shepherd Parish, which are then shared with those who are homebound or living in nursing homes or assisted living facilities.

    The friends are also in the process of creating a leaflet explaining the effort to get Decary proclaimed a saint.

    “What we want most of all,” Frechette said, “is for people to cry out in favor of Fr. Zenon.”

    Sunday, October 26, 2014

    Excellent 60 Minutes Segment on Ebola from the nurses who cared

    "And we held his hand and talked to him and comforted him because his family couldn't be there."

    (I was particularly  appreciative of how these nurses revealed the intensity  of the personal care they provided to the deceased Ebola patient Mr. Duncan.)

    Thank you to the heroic nurses who did all they could to save the life of Ebola patient Mr. Duncan, at Texas Presbyterian in Dallas Texas.  This 60 Minutes segment, with interview led by Scott Pelley, demonstrates the unlimited compassion and competence of the heroic nurses who valiantly tried to save Mr. Duncan's life but, sadly, the virus was already too advanced for him to recover.  

    Nurses who cared for Ebola patient Mr. Duncan at Texas Presbyterian in Dallas Texas

    Treating Ebola: Inside the first U.S. diagnosis

    The medical staff who treated Thomas Eric Duncan, the first Ebola patient diagnosed in the U.S., tell the inside story to Scott Pelley.

    The following is a script of "Treating Ebola" which aired on Oct. 26, 2014. Scott Pelley is the correspondent. Patricia Shevlin and Gabrielle Schonder, producers.

    You've heard a lot about the Dallas hospital that treated Thomas Eric Duncan, the first Ebola patient diagnosed in America. But you've never heard what actually happened from the people who fought for his life at the risk of their own. You're about to meet four nurses who treated Duncan from the time he came into the emergency room, to the moment that he died. The staff had been blindsided by a biomedical emergency that burst into their ER like a wildfire. Contrary to reports that the hospital bungled the response, the story the nurses tell sounds more like a heroic effort to stop an outbreak. 

    On September 28, Duncan was rushed by ambulance to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital. He was isolated in a separate section of the ER and nurse Sidia Rose, starting the night shift, was briefed on the special precautions required for what they now suspected was a case of Ebola.

    Sidia Rose: I went over and met with a nurse who gave me a report. She also went over the protective gear that we would be wearing that night. She gave, you know, finished briefing me on what was going to happen, and I literally burst out in tears.

    Scott Pelley: Why?

    Sidia Rose: It's very scary. I know about Ebola, and the only reason I do, it's because I've been just researching it on my own. Since January, I kept hearing the word popping up in the news. And I just wanted to find out about it.

    Richard Townsend: When our supervisor said that we had a potential Ebola case, I don't want to call it calamitous but there was a lot of concern, people became very vocal, understandably it's the boogie man virus.

    Emergency room nurses Richard Townsend and Krista Schaefer made sure that Rose was suited up properly. As per the hospital's protocol, she worked with Duncan alone, with Townsend watching over her.
    "I got myself together. I'd done what I needed to get myself prepared mentally, emotionally, and physically, and went in there and did what I was supposed to."

    Scott Pelley: When you went to approach Mr. Duncan for the first time, what did you do? How did you prepare for that?

    Sidia Rose: I gathered myself together. I put on my protective wear and I went in and introduced myself to him and you know just let him know that I would be the nurse helping him tonight.

    Scott Pelley: What were you telling yourself?

    Sidia Rose: I was very frightened. I was. But and I just dried my tears, rolled down my sleeves, so to speak, and went on about my night.

    Scott Pelley: But why do you go in there? Why don't you say, "You know, this one's not for me"?

    Sidia Rose: As a nurse, I understand the risk that I take every day I come to work and he's no different than any other patient that I've provided care for. So, I wasn't going to say, "No, I'm not going to care for him."

    Scott Pelley: But you were risking your life to take care of this patient.

    Sidia Rose: Oh, I know that. And that's why I, as frightened as I was, I didn't allow fear to paralyze me. I got myself together. I'd done what I needed to get myself prepared mentally, emotionally, and physically, and went in there and did what I was supposed to.

    Though Duncan's test results wouldn't be known for two days, she was certain she was witnessing Ebola.

    Nurse Sidia Rose: The first time when I went in and he vomited, I was standing in front of him, he was sitting on the commode, and there was just so much it went over the bag, it was on the walls, on the floors. I had two pairs of gloves on and shoe covers. And I had my face shield on. I didn't have two masks on at the time, I had just one. No, we didn't have any head covers. But I wiped down the walls, wiped down the floor with some bleach wipes.

    Nurse Richard Townsend: He was having so much diarrhea and vomiting that he, you know, she was constantly having to give him the little bags that we have for people to vomit into.

    Nurse Richard Townsend: All of that was hazardous waste and it had to be bagged and then double bagged and then put into a separate container that could then be disposed of later. Because anything that has any of his bodily fluids on it has the potential to be lethal to somebody else.
    "And that's when he said to me his family had suffered a loss. That he had buried his daughter who had died in childbirth."

    Eric Duncan was 42 years old, from Liberia, which is ground zero for this outbreak. Half of all the cases in the world are in Liberia. He flew to Dallas to visit family, became sick a few days later, and then made his first visit to the Dallas hospital.

    It was the night of September 25 when Duncan first came into this emergency room. According to the hospital records, he had a temperature of 100.1. Over the course of the four hours or so that he was here, his temperature spiked to 103, but then it dropped back down. Again, according to the hospital records, he told the staff that he had come from Africa, but did not specify West Africa or Liberia. About three o'clock in the morning, with his symptoms not very severe, the staff decided to send him home with antibiotics.

    But three days later he was back in the ER gravely ill and about as contagious as he would ever be. The virus is not transmitted though the air but physical contact with a single viral particle can cause infection. The hospital notified state health authorities immediately. And they wanted Nurse Sidia Rose to ask several urgent questions of Duncan.

    Nurse Sidia Rose: I explained to him, "We are under the impression that you may have been exposed to Ebola. And I said, "Where are you from?" And he told me Liberia.

    Nurse Sidia Rose: And I asked, "Have you been in contact with anyone who's been sick?

    Scott Pelley: He said?

    Nurse Sidia Rose: No. He said no.

    State and federal health officials wanted to know if Duncan had been with anyone who had died in Liberia.

    Nurse Sidia Rose: And that's when he said to me his family had suffered a loss. That he had buried his daughter who had died in childbirth.

    But nurse Rose says Duncan told her it wasn't Ebola that killed his daughter. Rose told us that she reported this to the Texas Department of Health, but then Duncan denied his own story when he spoke to those officials.

    Scott Pelley: What information was it that he denied to the health officials?

    Sidia Rose: About his travels, about him burying his pregnant daughter who had died in childbirth. He denied that. He said that's not true.

    Scott Pelley: So he wasn't honest with them.

    Nurse Sidia Rose: Yeah.

    "And we held his hand and talked to him and comforted him because his family couldn't be there."

    This is nurse Richard Townsend, who dressed in the protective gear that was recommended by the CDC at the time, just as Sidia Rose did.

    Scott Pelley: Was any of your skin exposed?

    Sidia Rose: At that time it was just a gown that I was wearing, so yeah. Not my hands, not my legs, my face, I had my face shield on, the mask with the face shield.

    Scott Pelley: So your neck was exposed?

    Sidia Rose: Yes.

    Scott Pelley: So the CDC protocols that you would've looked up the day he came into the emergency department was in your estimation deficient?

    All: Yes.

    On September 29, Duncan was carried from the emergency department to intensive care. Nurse Nina Pham, who was involved in the transfer, would become the first person to catch the virus in the United States.

    It took 48 hours to get Duncan's positive test results. And by then the hospital, on its own, had equipped the staff with suits that allowed no skin to be exposed. It would be another three weeks before the CDC made this its new standard. Then the hospital moved out all of the patients in medical intensive care and reconfigured the 24-bed unit for just one patient. It was a strange scene for ICU nurse John Mulligan.

    Nurse John Mulligan: By the time I came in, they had already received the Tyveks, the pappers. So we had the full hazmat gear that people are used to seeing.

    Scott Pelley: Is this the full suit?

    Nurse John Mulligan: This is the full suit, yes. There were always two of us in the room at all times. And we were designated two people to be in there. I've been in health care for nearly 20 years and I've never emptied as much trash as just from the waste of his constant diarrhea that he was having was remarkable. And we had these longer surgical type gloves on. They were taped to the Tyvek suit, full headgear with a circulator with a HEPA filter that would plug into the back. And the first time I got out of that suit, it literally looked like someone had pushed me into a swimming pool. I was drenched.

    They were working 16 to 18 hour days, spending two hours at a time in Duncan's room.

    Nurse John Mulligan: And we held his hand and talked to him and comforted him because his family couldn't be there.

    Scott Pelley: You held his hand through the spacesuit?

    Nurse John Mulligan: I did. He was glad someone wasn't afraid to take care of him. And we weren't.
    "We asked for volunteers. Everyone volunteered."

    Nurse Richard Townsend: I have nothing but respect and admiration for everyone that was involved in his care you know everyone has someone in their lives that they love and they care about. I have a five-year-old and a three-year-old and my wife is pregnant. And the mortality rate for pregnant women with Ebola is, it's essentially 100 percent.

    Scott Pelley: But Richard, why don't you go to the administration and say, "You know, I'm sorry. But my wife is pregnant."

    Nurse Richard Townsend: People were allowed to request not to be tasked with his care.

    Nurse Krista Schaefer: We asked for volunteers. Everyone volunteered.

    Scott Pelley: Everyone was a volunteer, everyone that was there wanted to be there?

    Krista Schaefer: Every person, housekeeping, respiratory, physicians, nurses.

    But despite all the volunteers Duncan grew worse. An experimental drug wasn't helping.

    John Mulligan: Early Saturday morning he had become very critically ill and was placed on a respirator.

    Scott Pelley: He was intubated.

    Nurse John Mulligan: He was intubated.

    Scott Pelley: Tube down his throat?

    Nurse Mulligan: Tube down his throat. He had a dialysis catheter placed because he was not making any urine, but he needed to. He was heavily sedated and he had tears running down his eyes, rolling down his face, not just normal watering from a sedated person. This was in the form of tears. And I grabbed a tissue and I wiped his eyes and I said, "You're going to be okay. You just get the rest that you need. Let us do the rest for you." And it wasn't 15 minutes later I couldn't find a pulse. And I lost him. And it was the worst day of my life. This man that we cared for, that fought just as hard with us, lost his fight. And his family couldn't be there. And we were the last three people to see him alive. And I was the last one to leave the room. And I held him in my arms. He was alone.
    "I would have nightmares, and still do, of my co-workers being infected and not being able to get to a hospital and treatment and dying."

    Scott Pelley: Sidia, you spent perhaps the most time talking with Mr. Duncan and I wonder what you think people should know about him.

    Nurse Sidia Rose: He was very kind and very appreciative. Even something as simple as me just giving him cold washcloth to cool his face down because his fever wasn't breaking, even that he was grateful for. He told me thanks.

    Within days of Duncan's death, nurse Nina Pham was admitted to the hospital with Ebola.

    Scott Pelley: When Nina became sick, that must've sent a lightning bolt through the staff because now it's one of you.

    John Mulligan: I thought someone was playing a cruel joke until I finally looked at my phone and saw the missed text messages and the voicemails and turned the news on and went, "Oh my goodness."

    Then four days later, nurse Amber Vinson fell ill. Both nurses have since recovered; this is Nina Pham leaving a hospital on Friday. But many on the staff still wonder whether they could be next.

    Scott Pelley: Are any of you, all of you, still self-monitoring for signs of infection?

    Nurse Sidia Rose: I am.

    Scott Pelley: You are? You're still within the 21-day window?

    Nurse Sidia Rose: For Mr. Duncan I'm passed my 21-day period. But for Nina Pham I'm still being monitored. I've been asymptomatic. My temperature has been rock solid.

    Those who contract the virus are not infectious until they actually become sick. Members of the medical staff must take their temperature now twice a day and show the reading to a state health official. But, in at least one other way, the effect of fighting this virus could linger.

    Nurse John Mulligan: I would have nightmares, and still do, of my co-workers being infected and not being able to get to a hospital and treatment and dying. And so it's like any traumatic event, this too shall pass. It's just going to take a little time.

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    Ebola fear cannot marginalize nurses, or physicians and health workers

    Ebola fear has clearly grown out of proportion to the imminent danger of an epidemic. Currently, certain states are over reacting by requiring health care workers to be isolated upon their return from West African nations like Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, where Ebola is an out of control epidemic.  

    It's plainly wrong to stigmatize health workers who are needed to provide education and quality care to people when they return home from their voluntary humanitarian missions to Africa. 

    Nevertheless, health workers returning from these missions should take responsibility for protecting the public from unnecessary exposure by self monitoring their body temperatures.  Health workers must report any low grade fever and immediately isolate themselves, until tests clear the risk of an Ebola infection.  This is a reasonable response to the Ebola health workers.  Otherwise, by creating more isolation rules than are necessary, the fear about the virus will continue to grow out of proportion to the risk.  It's a fact that risk of death  by gun violence is greater than contracting Ebola from a health worker returning from West Africa.

    New York (CNN) -- A nurse under mandatory quarantine in New Jersey after caring for Ebola patients in Sierra Leone has blasted more stringent state policies for dealing with health care workers returning from West Africa, saying the change could lead to medical professionals being treated like "criminals and prisoners."

    In a first-person account in The Dallas Morning News, Kaci Hickox wrote that she was ordered placed in quarantine at a hospital, where she has now tested negative in two tests for Ebola. Still, hospital officials told her she must remain under quarantine for 21 days.

    "This is not a situation I would wish on anyone, and I am scared for those who will follow me," she wrote.

    A mandatory quarantine imposed by New York, New Jersey and Illinois on health care workers who just returned to the United States from treating Ebola patients in West Africa has prompted a debate on how to prevent the spread of the disease without discouraging medical aid workers from fighting the it.

    The isolation policy was (in my opinion, too) abruptly implemented Friday by the governors of New York and New Jersey, Andrew Cuomo and Chris Christie. The announcement came one day after a New York doctor who treated patients in Guinea became the first Ebola case diagnosed in New York City. (One physician?)

    (Dear blog readers, this is a cynical response from a nurse blogger, but believe me, physicians can often do more harm to patients without being an Ebola risk. Don't panic because one humanitarian who returned from West Africa happened to have contracted the disease.)

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    Saturday, October 25, 2014

    International Humanitarian Peace and Justice in Rotarian "Bridge the Gap"

    Developing world peace and understanding is essential, especially because of the damaging effects of ideological extremism and political polarization.

    Reading the news these days is like living in a gated community. People only let the news into their homes if they happen to agree with the reporting. It's like having a gate keeper on televisions.

    It's impossible to determine where the political segregation of society will eventually lead our human condition.  

    Certainly, there's no way our human intellectual growth and development can continue while humans continue to denigrate each other, rather than rise above petty divisions to build a better world.

    Yet, Rotary International is working to build World Peace and Understanding. Through the organizational efforts of the Rotary Foundation, made possible by thousands of Paul Harris fellows, the world's Rotarians are able to transcend political turmoil, by doing good work.  
    "Bridge the Gap" to end Polio on the historic Memorial Bridge between Portsmouth NH and Kittery Maine October 25, 2014 with Richard and Juliana L'Heureux

    Rotary's influence implements an international "people to people" approach to help solve human problems. Rotarians work with people, avoiding bureaucracies, to provide communities in developing countries with access to potable water, hearing aids for those who are deaf, books to improve reading comprehension and oral Polio vaccine. 

    In other words, Rotarians work side by  side with our colleagues throughout the world to improve the human condition.

    Eradicating Polio is one example of how Rotary International is bridging the gap toward eradicating this preventable and debilitating virus. Only  three countries are reporting Polio. They are Afghanistan, Pakistan and Liberia in Africa. It's unfortunate to know how these three countries could probably eradicate Polio, if the governments would allow humanitarian workers, including volunteer Rotarians, to provide children with the effective oral vaccine.  Neverhteless, medieval superstitions have prevented Polio vaccine access to children in these backward countries. Some Islamist radicals in these countries wrongly believe the Rotarian humanitarians have a motive beyond eliminating Polio.

    Although the world is now consumed with the potential for a world Ebola virus pandemic, the fact is, the Polio virus is just as capable of causing death and disability, especially among children. 

    There's an effective oral vaccine to help prevent Polio. Therefore, it makes no sense to deny children access to the simple and relatively inexpensive oral prevention against the Polio virus. It's especially concerning when the barrier to the oral vaccine is based on unfounded and wrong minded superstitions.

    On a beautiful Saturday October 25, 2014, the Rotarians in the US Northeast District 7780 helped to bridge the gap by walking across the historic Memorial Bridge spanning the Piscataqua River between Portsmouth New Hampshire and Kittery Maine.  

    Each  dollar raised by the District 7780 Rotarians were matched by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, $3 to $1. Therefore, every $100 raised = $300 to help eradicate Polio.  

    My husband and I are proud to have supported today's "bridge the gap" effort by walking and contributing.  
    Rotarians walking toward the Memorial Bridge in Portsmouth New Hampshire

    Although we're unable to join the humanitarian Rotarians who deliver the vaccine to children who live primitive villages in developing countries, we can at least contribute to help those who are delivering world peace and understanding, by helping to eradicate Polio in the world.

    Thank you to all who supported our "bridge the gap" program today on the Memorial Bridge, in beautiful Maine and New Hampshire.  

    Leadership by the Hampton New Hampshire Rotary Club and support by District Governor Lawrence Furbish were essential to the success we enjoyed, helping to raise money and awareness for eliminating Polio in the world.

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    Friday, October 24, 2014

    Preventable school gun violence in Washington state USA

    Americans are justifiably concerned about the potential for the infectious Ebola virus to spread. Yet, the same people who are harboring fear about this disease appear unscathed about preventing the growing epidemic of gun violence, as it's infecting our nation at a much higher rate and with at least as much mortality as Ebola.

    Now, even more preventable gun violence has occured in still another school shooting. This time, the preventable tragedy occurred in Washington State, at Marysville-Pilchuck High School, where a young gunman killed himself and one other person, while terrorizing the entire campus.  

    CNN reports:  The shooter who opened fire Friday morning at Washington state's Marysville-Pilchuck High School played football and was recently named to the homecoming court.

    Additionally, CNN provided data about the number of school shootings since the Newtown innocents massacre in Connecticut. 
    In the horrifying report, the headline asks if school shootings are becoming the norm?

    There have been 74 school shootings in the past 18 months, during
    the time period since the December 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, where 20 children and six adults were shot to death. The statistic came from a group called Everytown for Gun Safety, an umbrella group started by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a passionate and public advocate of gun control.

    It's certainly incongruous for Americans to be obsessed with a few incidents of infectious Ebola while gun violence is unchecked. There's been a national call out for infectious diseases resources to be diverted to preventive efforts, including travel bans from Ebola infected areas of Africa. All the while, our nation's children are dying from the most preventable epidemic of all time. Gun violence is preventable if people insisted on regulating the use of personal weapons made for the purpose of murdering human beings and tax ammunition at a rate higher than legalized marijuana.

    Obviously, the world wants to find a cure or effective preventative vaccine to end the Ebola epidemic in Africa. This deadly virus is obviously spreading at a exponentially fast rate, with high associated mortality.  

    Gun violence is also spreading.  

    Of course, we know the causes of gun violence are uncontrolled access to weapons and ammunition.  We also know the effect of gun violence - it's premature deaths, as well as emotional and physical disabilities related to the wounds of the survivors. Likewise, we also know how to cure the epidemic of gun violence.    
    Nevertheless, Americans are obsessed with preventing Ebola from spreading after three Americans, two nurses and a physician, have become infected in recent weeks.  

    It's simply unexplained. How is it Americans can ignore a cure for gun violence but demand for extraordinary resources to be showered on the prevention of a few incidents of Ebola? 

    Hopefully, our nation will eventually come up with a cure for both.

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    Dr. Greg Spencer is another victim of the Ebola virus - another tragic consequence for the caregivers

    Those calling for a travel ban on people arriving in the US from Ebola stricken areas of Africa can't be living in the real world. NewYork City physician Dr. Greg Spencer is now a victim of the Ebola virus, another care giver infected by the disease. Nothing would have prevented Dr. Spencer from returning to New York City and his home in Harlem. Travel bans simply aren't possible in the 21st century.

    It's at least helpful for the public to read how New York City is quickly responding to this latest Ebola virus patient, with the state's Governor Cuomo making a leadership statement quoted in this article from The New York Post.

    Ebola strikes NYC: Doctor tests positive for deadly virus
    The New York Post reports:

    New York has its first case of Ebola.

    A Harlem doctor who recently treated patients in Africa tested positive for the deadly disease ­after he was rushed to Bellevue Hospital on Thursday morning with fatigue, nausea and a 103-degree fever. (This information was later modified, the temperature was really 100.3 F not 103 degrees.)

    Dr. Craig Spencer, a 33-year-old Doctors Without Borders volunteer, and his live-in fiancée, Morgan Dixon, 30, were quarantined at Bellevue as investigators ­retraced the couple’s steps from the six days since the doctor returned from Guinea last Friday, the sources said. The Associated Press reported two of Spencer’s friends were also quarantined but had shown no symptoms of the virus.

    Spencer’s West 147th Street apartment has been sealed, and two of Spencer’s friends have also self-quarantined in their homes, officials said.

    And an Uber car-service driver who recently transported Spencer has self-quarantined as well, officials said.

    At a press conference Thursday night, officials claimed that Spencer had mostly “stayed at home” since his return.

    “We don’t want to give the impression he self-quarantined, but he did limit his contact,” claimed Dr. Mary Travis Bassett, head of the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

    “He did attempt to self-isolate,” she told reporters.

    Still, officials conceded that Spencer had also made numerous excursions around the city in the days before he was diagnosed.

    That included riding the subway, walking the High Line, taking the Uber car and, on Wednesday night — even as he was already feeling fatigued, according to officials — taking a three-mile run and spending the evening bowling.

    Spencer went to The Gutter, a popular Williamsburg bowling and music venue, sources said.  In fact, the bowling alley was shuttered Thursday night, and issued a statement saying: “We’ve been in constant contact with the Health Department and they have determined that there was no risk to our customers.”

    Spencer rode the subway in the past five days, traveling on the A, L and 1 lines, a law-enforcement source told The Post.

    Spencer's along the High Line also involved a meal at a nearby restaurant, sources said.

    Spencer also visited Herald Square in his travels around town, sources added.

    Spencer did not show up at his job at Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital, where he is a fellow in international emergency medicine, officials there assured.

    But investigators weren’t taking any chances, and were at the hospital Thursday night to double check that he had no contact with patients or staff, sources said.

    The NYPD’s Missing Persons Squad is pitching in, looking at Spencer’s Metro­Card, credit cards and bank statements to track all his travels and determine if any other locations need to be monitored, sources said.

    Meanwhile, the federal Center s for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was rushing a special response team to Bellevue.

    “We are as ready as one can be for this circumstance,” Gov. Cuomo assured New Yorkers Thursday night at the press conference.

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    Thursday, October 23, 2014

    Pope Francis speaks out about removing suspected terrorists to torture centers

    Although former Vice President Dick Cheney is not Roman Catholic, I'm sure he's feeling the brunt of a statement by Pope Francis about "renditions".

    Certainly, no one wants to presume to put words in the mouth of a Pope. Nevertheless, when the subject a Pope speaks about is clearly directed to the actions of the George W. Bush administration, and VP Cheney and torture....well.....seems like the Pope was pretty clear who he was talking about.  

    In my opinion, the Pope's comments specifically had Vice-President Dick Cheney in his salient message. It's a bad day for Cheney, regardless of his personal religious beliefs.

    Although Pope Francis is frank in his opinion against "renditions", the fact is, the tactics of bringing Al Qaeda fighters to camps where they were exposed to torture has not improved US national security. Regardless of how people may feel or respond to the use of torture to obtain intelligence information, the fact is, the cruel tactics have never been proven to work. Now, Pope Francis is singling out the practice as cruel, in remarks reported in Newsmax.

    Pope Condemns Extraordinary Renditions in Law Talk

    Rendition: The legal procedure or process of sending a suspected criminal to another country to be interrogated or detained, usually for law-enforcement purposes.

    Pope Francis has condemned the practice of extraordinary renditions used by the CIA after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

    In a speech to the International Association of Penal Law on Thursday, Francis also called life prison terms "hidden death sentences" and denounced the use of preventive detention as a "hidden, illegal punishment."

    He urged all people of good will to fight against the death penalty and to work to improve prison conditions overall so that inmates' dignity is respected.

    Francis urged the international community to stop renditions, saying it was an "abuse" for countries to allow suspects to be kidnapped from their territory and transferred to torture centers. He said the principle of the dignity of each human being must prevail over everything.

    Dear Vice President Dick Cheney - I can't justify your support for torture under any circumstances, but now the Pope is speaking out about renditions.  Finally.......Pope Francis, a man who clearly has a higher calling than anything political, is calling you out. Amen.

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