“All we did was put four tires on it, and it went to junk,” Busch said. “I hate it for our guys. They’ve deserved all year much better finishes than what we’ve been able to produce, and here’s another one today. Just a frustrating season so far, but we give it everything we got. We do all we can with what we’re given at the particular time and try to execute and do a good job. Yes, that’s right, a Ford. The car maker found Victory Lane at the .526-mile short track for the first time since Oct. 20, 2002, when Kurt Busch won at NASCAR’s oldest and smallest premier series track in a Roush Fenway Racing Ford. Keselowski and runner-up Kyle Busch swapped the lead during the final 64-lap green-flag run, with Busch taking the point on Lap 444 of 500, and Keselowski powering back past Busch’s No. 18 Toyota on Lap 458. From that point, Keselowski pulled away to win by 1.806 seconds, as Busch lost the long-run speed he had demonstrated for most of the afternoon. Fourteen cautions for 95 laps punctuated an action-filled afternoon that featured remarkable comebacks, perfect weather, Ford board member and namesake Edsel Ford II in the pace car and a tire combination that started to open up the outside lane and facilitate passing on the high side. “I don’t like to keep trophies at my house, but this one’s going to my house. That’s how special it is.” RELATED: Keselowski brings home a clock | Keselowski celebrates with fansThe victory was Keselowski’s 23rd in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, and it vaulted him into the playoff points lead with 10. In the series standings, Keselowski leaves Martinsville in fourth place, 34 points behind leader Kyle Larson and 30 behind second-place Chase Elliott, who parlayed a front-row starting position into a third-place finish. Coming to the green/checkers on Lap 260, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who had just been lapped, gave race leader Kyle Busch a couple of sharp taps with his bumper, sending Busch toward the top of the track. Elliott powered to the inside off Turn 4, edging Busch for the stage win at the stripe.RELATED: See the contact at the end of Stage 2 | Updated stage points Austin Dillon ran fifth, posting his first top-five finish since a fourth-place run at Bristol last August. “My pit crew did great today. (Crew chief) Adam (Stevens) and the guys did an awesome job on this car this weekend to get it to where it was. We were lights out faster than those guys after 20 laps or so. There on that run it was at minimum at least three tenths slower the entire time, and that’s why Brad just was able to drive away there at the end. We were really really, really struggling. I’m surprised I held off the 24 (Elliott), but you know, overall, just not quite getting the finishes we need.” RELATED: Busch frustrated with second-place finishMartin Truex Jr. won the first stage to bring his playoff point total to nine, second only to Keselowski. By the end of Stage 2, which featured a 119-lap green-flag run, the intensity had ratcheted up considerably. “This is awesome,” said Keselowski, the season’s first two-time winner. “We’ve ran so good here with the Miller Lite Ford, but something always happens and we haven’t been able to bring it home. Martinsville is just one of those champions’ tracks. The guys that run well everywhere run well here, and it’s really just an honor to win here and get to compete here. RELATED: Race results | Standings | Detailed breakdown SHOP: Keselowski gearMARTINSVILLE, Va. – In Sunday’s STP 500 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Martinsville Speedway, everything worked – but nothing more than Brad Keselowski’s race-winning No. 2 Ford. Keselowski had to overcome his own challenges. A speeding penalty under caution on lap 72 sent him to the rear of the field, but pit strategy – staying out under yellow on Lap 109 – got him back to the front. Joey Logano, Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate, overcame both a pit road penalty and a cut tire that put him two laps down to finish fourth. Busch, who led a race-high 274 laps to Keselowski’s 116, was disappointed that the performance of his Camry fell off after his final pit stop. “This track is 70 years old and a lot of legends have won here. It feels great to be able to join them and bring home a (grandfather) clock (trophy). A lot of people don’t know this, but those clocks are built in my hometown in Rochester Hills, Michigan, so it’s cool to get one of them from back home. I have one as a truck owner, but not as a driver, so I’m glad to bring one back as a driver… But Keselowski and Busch dominated the proceedings from then on, with Keselowski winning the clock and Ford finding the winner’s circle after a 28-race drought at the vaunted short track.&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Michael Ball, the Olivier-winning star who originated the role of Marius in the 1985 West End premiere of Les Misérables, will step back into the hit musical, this time as Javert, for a sixteen-week fully staged concert run at the Gielgud Theatre from August 10 through November 30. Ball will be joined by longtime friend Alfie Boe, reprising his celebrated Broadway and West End turn as Jean Valjean.This cheered concert staging, previously seen in London at the Royal Albert Hall and the O2 Arena, will run at the Gielgud while the musical’s longtime home, the Queen’s Theatre, undergoes a refurbishment. The cast will be accompanied by an orchestra of over 65 musicians.The cast will also include Carrie Hope Fletcher, a prior Eponine, appearing as Fantine, with Katy Secombe and Matt Lucas reprising their former turns as Thénardier and Madame Thénardier. For three performances per week, the role of Jean Valjean will be played by Broadway and West End alum John Owen-Jones.Additional casting for the concert run at the Gielgud will be announced soon. Michael Ball(Photo provided by Target Live UK) View Comments
Consolidated Communications,Vermont Business Magazine FairPoint Communications, Inc (Nasdaq:FRP), Vermont’s largest telecom based in North Carolina, and Illinois’ Consolidated Communications Holdings, Inc (Nasdaq:CNSL) have moved a step closer to Consolidated’s acquisition of FairPoint later this year. FairPoint shareholders on Tuesday voted to adopt the merger agreement between FairPoint and Consolidated Communications Holdings, Inc during a special meeting. Approximately 96 percent of FairPoint shareholders who voted on the proposal cast their vote in favor of the merger, representing 74 percent of the Company’s outstanding stock as of the record date. Consolidated Communications also held a special meeting Tuesday at which approximately 98 percent of Consolidated shareholders who voted on the proposal voted in favor of the merger, representing 71 percent of Consolidated’s outstanding shares as of the record date.Under the terms of the agreement, FairPoint shareholders will receive a fixed exchange ratio of 0.7300 shares of Consolidated Communications common stock for each share of FairPoint common stock. After closing, Consolidated’s shareholders will own approximately 71.3 percent of the pro forma combined company and FairPoint’s shareholders will own 28.7 percent.Consolidated has received Hart-Scott-Rodino Act clearance and secured the financing to fund the acquisition at favorable rates. Consolidated and FairPoint are in the process of securing the necessary state and federal regulatory approvals to complete the merger and expect the transaction to close by mid-2017.RELATED STORIES:FairPoint appoints Michael Reed Vermont presidentBeth Fastiggi named Human Resources CommissionerAbout FairPoint Communications, Inc.FairPoint Communications, Inc. (Nasdaq:FRP(link is external)) provides advanced data, voice and video technologies to single and multi-site businesses, public and private institutions, consumers, wireless companies and wholesale re-sellers in 17 states. Leveraging an owned, fiber-based Ethernet network – with more than 22,000 route miles of fiber, including approximately 18,000 route miles of fiber in northern New England – FairPoint has the network coverage, scalable bandwidth and transport capacity to support enhanced applications, including the next generation of mobile and cloud-based communications, such as small cell wireless backhaul technology, voice over IP, data center colocation services, managed services and disaster recovery. For more information, visit www.FairPoint.com(link is external).Source: CHARLOTTE, N.C., March 28, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — FairPoint Communications, Inc
With the debut of its latest brand initiative, Nuun notes that it ‘continues to push the needle forward in highlighting and celebrating women in sport’. Named Nuuness, a new program will seek to create awareness for continued and future opportunities for female athletes.As part of the launch, Nuun has brought Emma Coburn on board as its leading advocate for both clean sport and women’s representation in athletics.The 2-time Olympian and World Champion will work with Nuun to provide a public platform for female athletes to speak up for equal opportunities in pursuit of their athletic endeavours. This June, Emma Coburn joined the team as spokeswoman for the newly formed ‘Nuuness: the female embodiment of the Nuun brand’.This year nutrition specialist Nuun adds that it has ‘doubled down on a commitment to women athletes through a record number of female sponsorships and industry-leading contract reform for pregnant athletes.’Emma Coburn is one of the most decorated American middle distance runners of all-time as a seven-time National Champion, Olympic Games bronze medallist and the first American female World Champion gold medallist in the steeplechase. She was one of the first professional athletes to sign the Clean Sport Pledge, and with her husband and coach Joe Bosshard, has developed a world-class training group of women track and field athletes.“It is truly a dream to be partnered with Nuun and to continue to strengthen the voice of the collective female athletic community,” said Emma Coburn. “I have been drinking Nuun for years, and I love their products, brand and values. I am looking forward to the impact we are able to achieve together, and am really appreciative of their support of my road to Tokyo.”Beginning this summer, Nuun will debut its Nuuness podcast series hosted by Emma Coburn. The series will showcase inspiring Nuun athletes on topics surrounding the female sports environment. In addition to the web series, Nuun plans to expand its community and support of female athletes.Later this summer, Nuun will open its first application period for its quarterly Nuuness Scholarship program. Nuun will provide financial, product and community assistance to enable each quarterly recipient’s personal athletic pursuits.“Supporting an athlete of Emma’s calibre is extremely humbling,” said Kevin Rutherford, Nuun President and CEO. “She is an extraordinary human being and an incredible role model to lead Nuuness and our Women in Sport initiatives. The Nuun family is beyond thrilled to be there for Emma as she works to earn a spot on her third Olympic team.”www.nuunlife.com Related
A few of the first responders involved in the rescue of a family from a burning building two years ago. From left, Kyle Segraves, Andrew Freisner, Dustin Moore, Lynn Wedel and Maria Moreno.The 911 calls just kept coming in. An apartment in Lenexa was engulfed in flames.Maria Moreno, a dispatcher for the Johnson County Emergency Communications Center, was fresh out of training. She had already fielded multiple calls that day in April 2017 when the woman called. She was trapped inside a second-story apartment unit with two small children she was looking after.“My main concern was just to keep her calm and reassure her that help was on the way and that my firefighters were doing everything they could to gain access to her,” Moreno said. “It was all kind of a spur-of-the-moment thing. I was shocked myself. But I knew I had to remain calm for her.”Meanwhile, the Lenexa Fire Department and mutual aid first responders raced to the apartment at 85th Street and Pflumm Road. As they were pulling up, they saw the whole building was engulfed. They saw the family banging on the windows and Moreno, the dispatcher, had told them exactly where they were trapped.Lenexa Fire Captain Dustin Moore and Firefighter Paramedic Andrew Freisner climbed the ladder, grabbed the children — a 2- or 3-year-old toddler and an 18-month-old — and helped them down the ladder.Once they climbed the ladder, there was near-zero visibility but, luckily, no direct fire yet. Moore and Freisner entered from the balcony and then forced entry into the bedroom. The kids were lethargic from the smoke and heat. Their aunt could still walk, so she waited until they came back for her and her pets.“It was a situation where we knew what to do and it sounds kinda counterintuitive, but the less you think about stuff in that situation, the better you are,” Freisner said. “You really want to work off instinct.”The family went to the hospital for emergency care, but they turned out fine. Moore estimated the chain of events that afternoon occurred in about 12 minutes.“At the time, it hit me so quick I don’t know that it really hit me what had just happened,” Moore said.A collaboration of first respondersPresident Donald Trump awards Freisner and Moore with the Medal of Valor. Photo courtesy of city of LenexaMoore and Freisner got the assignment to rescue, but the two heavily credit the collaboration of their fire department and mutual aid first responders — the Overland Park and Shawnee fire departments, Johnson County Med-Act and Lenexa Police Department — for the successful rescue. They kept the flames at bay during the rescue and ensured the family had what they needed once they got out.Kyle Segraves, Kevin Sellers and Danny Clark with the Lenexa Fire Department also gave support on the ladder. Segraves and rescued the black labrador dog after the family was rescued.“This specific incident had a culmination of all of those agencies working together, and working together really well, and that’s when you get positive outcomes,” said Lynn Wedel, Lenexa fire battalion chief, adding that he was “tremendously” proud of his firefighters.Last week, Moore and Freisner received the Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor, the highest national award for valor presented to a public safety officer. President Donald Trump presented them with the medal during a White House ceremony on May 22.The Medal of Valor is awarded to public safety officers who have exhibited exceptional courage, regardless of personal safety, in the attempt to save or protect others from harm.“It’s one of my proudest moments, but I think what it represents is more important,” Freisner said. “It was a countywide effort. I actually felt pretty bad having just us two there seeing the effort. Everybody worked together; it really represents how well we do work with each other.”Moreno stayed on the call with the woman until Lenexa firefighters reached her and the kids. Helping them made her feel accomplished.“They’re more than likely having the worst day of their life when they’re calling 911,” Moreno said. “They know that you’re there to help them and at the end of the day, that’s what matters to me, is that I’m able to help somebody.”
Leawood middle schooler’s Bar Mitzvah project raises $10,000 for local food pantryJonah Stein, a seventh-grader at Leawood Middle School, has raised $10,000 for a service project for his upcoming Bar Mitzvah that will help feed hundreds facing food insecurity in the Kansas City area.Stein created MASKerAIDs, a beaded necklace that connects to a person’s mask for easier wear. The funds from his project support Jewish Family Services and its Kesher KC Care Bag program, which contain food for walk-in clients of the program.“I saw a similar product and the wheels started turning about what I could do,” Stein said. “Creating MASKerAIDs allows me to not only solve a modern-day challenge, but also to use the funds I earn from the sales to support JFS and its Kesher KC Care Bag program.”Catholic Cemeteries cancels Veterans Day observance at Resurrection CemeteryCatholic Cemeteries of Northeast Kansas has canceled the Veterans Day observance and ceremony that would normally take place at Resurrection Cemetery in Lenexa on Wednesday, Nov. 11. The organization canceled the event due to uncertainties related to the COVID-19 pandemic and the health risks for individuals and families to gather.Lenexa to conduct CID public hearing for Ten Ridge project at Ridgeview and K-10The Lenexa City Council on Oct. 6 unanimously approved a resolution called for a public hearing to consider approving a Community Improvement District, a public financing incentives package, for a portion of the Ten Ridge project located at the northeast corner of K-10 Highway and Ridgeview Road.The public hearing is set for Nov. 3, when the city council will consider adoption of the Community Improvement District. The petition includes the levying of a 1% CID sales tax on all sales within the project area of roughly 15 acres. The public financing package is intended to help pay for construction, public improvements and other related costs for the project. The estimated total cost of the project is about $43 million.The developer, Ten Ridge LLC, is constructing a mixed-use development that is anticipated to include 80,000 square feet of retail, restaurant and commercial uses in eight buildings and also include a 90-room hotel. If approved, the CID sales tax will commence Oct. 1, 2022.
Today:If you’re worried about catching a cold, there’s a simple act that may protect you against the virus and help you feel better right away: hug someone.Hugging can help prevent a cold virus or lessen symptoms in people who are already sick, according to a recent study published in Psychological Science.We’re told to avoid sweaty, germy handshakes during cold and flu season, but the warm embrace of a close friend or loved one may actually improve immune system functioning, says Sheldon Cohen, a professor of psychology at Carnegie Mellon University and lead author of the study.Stress lowers the body’s defenses against viruses and other pathogens, research has shown.For the new study, Cohen and his colleagues rounded up 404 healthy adult volunteers, who were asked to fill out questionnaires to determine, among other things, whether and how often they’d been hugged during a two-week period and whether they’d experienced conflict or tension. Then the participants were deliberately exposed to the cold virus and immediately moved to quarantine for a week, while researchers monitored them for signs of infection and illness.Read the whole story: Today More of our Members in the Media >
When leaving Zadar for the ceremony of declaring the best European destination, the director of the Belgian “European Best Destinations” (EBD) portal Maximilien Lejenue, who designed and organized the selection, told all Zadar tourism workers: “Use the EBD logo freely and as much as possible. That is why the reward exists”.Transferring the experiences of the previous winners – Porto and Bordeaux – Lejenue aimed at a significant increase in total tourist traffic and the ubiquity of EBD visuals in the Portuguese and French destinations. So, at airports, billboards, city streets, restaurants, coffee bars, hotels, campsites, apartment accommodation, chocolate shops, patisseries, boutiques, in fact, wherever possible. The activities of the Zadar Tourist Board, which led the campaign for the selection of the best European destination, and then offered the most beautiful Zadar tourist story to the world public, speak about the same thing. The first estimates of the direct effect of winning the EBD election are more than obvious: world media announced about Zadar, it is visited by television crews, journalists from all over the world and, especially importantly, domestic and foreign tour operators.”I think this is a true indicator of what is yet to be written or watched about Zadar during this year in the foreign media, and what has largely come about for this award. Such a media presence and interest of travel agencies and tour operators, our Office could not afford or provide”, Says the director of the Zadar Tourist Board Ante Rados.Such interest of domestic and foreign guests, business partners and the tourist profession as a free marketing candy and as an additional tool of self-promotion, was first recognized by the most serious Zadar tourist players. In “Arsenal”, for example, everyday business communication or so-called newsletters are decorated with the logo “Zadar, European Best Destination 2016.”, while every conference, festival, congress or any significant event in the historic ambience of the multifunctional center is organized with the EBD logo . Arsenal conducts the same type of promotion on the Internet and on social networks with the aim of advertising the destination and, indirectly, its own content within the destination offer.”The EBD award is really welcome in Zadar, because without a strong destination there is no successful work. First of all, people choose a destination according to some criteria, and then the content that exists in it. “, says Anamarija Portada from Arsenal, stating that this fact was immediately recognized as a unique opportunity: “When we advertise the organization of business groups or congresses, which we also deal with, we invite everyone first to Zadar as the best European destination, and then with us.”.The EBD logo and the marketing advantages that result from its use, however, are not only present in the city, but also in the entire Zadar region. Hotel “Pinija” in Petrčane immediately after the proclamation of Zadar as the best European destination on its new tourist brochures printed the EBD logo and – went to Berlin. After visiting the largest European tourist fair, Pinija’s brochure visited some other fairs, introducing future guests to the fact that they will come to the best European destination. “I think this is an extremely good thing for Zadar. The reactions of people at the fairs are positive and contribute to a better perception of the entire region”, Points out the director of Pinija, Hrvoje Anić.Apartments Victoria: occupancy higher by 20 percent!The direct benefit of advertising with the EBD logo and sticker was quickly felt by Jasna Barančić, the owner of the “Victoria” apartment in the city center. Compared to last year, Barančić tells us, there is a significantly higher occupancy rate. “This year I have 20 percent more guests than last year! I knew immediately after the proclamation of Zadar as the best tourist destination that we will have an even better season than last year“. She picked up the sticker at the Tourist Information Center, and she followed the selection for the best destination from day one. “S I gladly followed the choice and rejoiced in the success of Zadar. I think this is an important thing for all of us in the tourism business”, Said Barančić.Zadar as a brand drives the whole countyWhen a group of Portuguese travel agents and journalists arrives in Zadar at the end of May – organized by the Croatian Embassy in Portugal – it will be thanks to the fact that Zadar has been chosen as the best European destination. Although Zadar was not included in their original itinerary, the Portuguese had the winner of the EBD election two years ago, so the best destinations are extremely appreciated. And not just them.In the last three weeks alone, Zadar has hosted several study groups, namely German, Polish and Dutch travel agents, then a journalist-agency group from Luxembourg, and two Belgian groups, thanks primarily to the popularity that the EBD portal enjoys in the Benelux countries. That’s not all: Zadar was still visited by Russian travel agents through the domestic “Atlantis Travel”, and just these days through the Split “Gulliver” the beauties of Zadar are admired by a group of Japanese agents, while a group of Canadian agents will soon be brought by “Uniline”. Agents and journalists are not only interested in the city, say the Zadar Tourist Board, but the entire region with an offer of active tourism, cultural tourism, then beaches, wellness, yachting and the increasingly popular birdwatching, or bird watching.”This means that the city as a brand and engine in terms of tourism drives the entire Zadar County. The interest is really great, because we are the focus of media study groups through the system of the Croatian Tourist Board. In March, April and early May alone, we had almost 50 studio visits by television crews, journalists from around the world and well-known bloggers”, Points out the director of the Zadar Tourist Board Rados. How to get EBD labels and logos? Indoor and outdoor stickers “Zadar, the best European destination 2016.” It is possible to get it free of charge at the Tourist Information Center on Narodni trg, while the EBD logo for free use for marketing purposes can be downloaded from the website Tourist boards of the City of Zadar or Facebook “Like Zadar”. “It doesn’t matter what you do, it is important to greet the guest or customer with a smile and offer him the best of yourself”- they say in the Zadar Tourist Board.
A contact of Nigeria’s first Ebola patient fled quarantine in August and passed the disease to a doctor, who subsequently infected at least two other people, offering a textbook example of how not to deal with the disease, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported today.The episode extended Ebola’s reach in Nigeria from Lagos, the capital, to Port Harcourt, the country’s oil hub on the southeastern coast. Because of the number of people exposed to the doctor, the outbreak in Port Harcourt could grow bigger than the original outbreak in Lagos, the WHO said.Meanwhile, a trio of United Nations (UN) and WHO officials today again stressed the urgent need to expand the international response to West Africa’s Ebola epidemic, but insisted that the governments of the affected countries must remain in charge of efforts within their borders. The officials estimated that the international effort will cost at least $600 million.Port Harcourt casesA sick airline passenger, Patrick Sawyer, spread Ebola virus to Nigeria when he flew from Liberia to Lagos on Jul 20; he died on Jul 25. One of Sawyer’s close contacts in Lagos fled the city, where he was under quarantine, to seek treatment in Port Harcourt, the WHO said in today’s statement.The contact was treated from Aug 1 to 3 by a male physician at a Port Harcourt hotel. The physician fell ill on Aug 11, but for 2 days afterward he continued treating patients at his private clinic, operating on at least two of them, the WHO said.On Aug 13 his symptoms worsened, and he then stayed home until he was hospitalized on Aug 16, the WHO said. He died on Aug 22, and his Ebola virus disease (EVD) was confirmed on Aug 27 by a lab at Lagos University Teaching Hospital.After he got sick, the doctor had numerous contacts with others, both before and after his hospitalization, the WHO said. In the hospital, members of his church visited him and performed a healing ritual said to involve the laying on of hands, and he was attended by most of the hospital staff.The two people who caught the virus from the physician are his wife, also a doctor, and another patient at the hospital where he was treated, according to the WHO, which did not describe their conditions. Other hospital staff members are being tested.”Given these multiple high-risk exposure opportunities, the outbreak of Ebola virus disease in Port Harcourt has the potential to grow larger and spread faster than the one in Lagos,” the agency said.It said Nigerian health workers and WHO epidemiologists are monitoring more than 200 contacts, including about 60 believed to have had high-risk or very high-risk exposures.The Port Harcourt cases apparently raise Nigeria’s Ebola count to at least 20 cases and 7 deaths. The latest WHO general update on Ebola in West Africa, on Aug 28, put Nigeria’s tally at 17 cases and 6 deaths.Nigeria respondsThe WHO said the Nigerian government has taken a number of emergency steps in response to the new cases, with support from the WHO, the UN Children’s Fund, and Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF).The government has activated an Ebola emergency operations center, set up a 26-bed isolation facility, and put 21 teams to work on contact tracing. The emergency center is supported by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).In addition, the WHO and local officials are assessing public measures at airport gates and other ports of entry in Port Harcourt.But the agency warned that security problems and public fear of Ebola “create serious problems that could hamper response operations,” with military escorts needed when moving patients into the Ebola treatment center.WHO, UN officials underline urgencyAt a press briefing in Washington, DC, today, WHO and UN officials again stressed the need to accelerate the response to West Africa’s Ebola crisis.”We’re not in a position where we can afford to lose a day, because the outbreak is currently moving ahead of efforts to control it,” said David Nabarro, MD, senior UN system coordinator for Ebola disease.Nabarro, who just returned from a needs assessment trip to West Africa with the WHO’s Keiji Fukuda, MD, said, “We need on the order of three to four times what is currently in place” in the way of resources to battle the epidemic.He estimated that it will cost “at least $600 million and maybe a lot more to get the necessary support to the countries to get this under control.”Today’s briefing followed a meeting in New York yesterday at which UN and other officials addressed UN member states to emphasize the seriousness of the Ebola situation in West Africa and urged them to send aid to the region.Fukuda, the WHO’s assistant director-general for health security and environment, said he and Nabarro met with a wide range of officials and people at all levels during their visit to Monrovia, Liberia, and Freetown, Sierra Leone.The main message they heard was about the lack of capacity to respond to the epidemic, including the lack of treatment centers, vehicles, protective equipment, and funds, he said.”But of all things that are low in capacity, the most important is that we don’t have enough people on the ground,” including nurses, doctors, drivers, contact investigators, Fukuda said.Aside from Nabarro’s cost estimate, he, Fukuda, and WHO Director-General Margaret Chan, MD, MPH, declined to estimate just how many health workers or other types of resources are needed. They noted previously announced goals of reversing the trend in cases within 3 months and stopping transmission in 6 to 9 months.They also stressed the obstacles caused by the Ebola-inspired cancellations of airline flights to Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea. Chan said she has talked with experts from around the world who are willing to go to the region to provide infection control and clinical care, but because of flight cancellations, “We are unable to deploy them.”Reporters asked the three officials why, given the magnitude or the problem, they weren’t calling for more of a military-style, “command and control” response, like the “massive mobilization” coordinated by the US Navy in response to the 2004 tsunami in Aceh, Indonesia.Nabarro replied that he believes it is possible to cope with the situation “with the institutions and resources we have,” but added that scaling up the response sufficiently and fast enough is very difficult. “Over the next few days we are changing the way the WHO and UN works on this issue, and talking to governments to get them fully invested,” he said. “We are talking to all other groups that could provide support.”He commented further, “The governments of the affected countries are in charge; our role is to help them do the job they need to do.” He added that the UN aims to do all it can to ensure that responders are protected from infection.Chan echoed the point about national sovereignty saying, “I don’t think any government in this world will accept a takeover by others. So whatever we are doing, we are supporting national authorities to take the leadership.”UK patient releasedIn other developments, Royal Free Hospital in London today announced the release of William Pooley, a British nurse who contracted EVD in Sierra Leone and was treated at the hospital for 10 days. His treatment included the experimental drug ZMapp, which has been given to several other patients, including two Americans.In addition, Nancy Writebol, an American missionary and medical worker who was flown back to the United States after contracting EVD in Liberia, talked about her illness and recovery at a press conference today. She was hospitalized at Emory University in Atlanta and was released Aug 19.Writebol, who worked for the SIM (Service in Mission), said she initially thought she had malaria and was tested and treated for that disease. She said there were many times when she thought she wouldn’t survive.She said she didn’t know if the ZMapp she received was what cured her, but suggested it was more the overall combination of treatment, prayers, and support from others that saw her through the illness.Meanwhile, Bruce Johnson, president of SIM, identified the SIM worker who was recently infected with Ebola in Liberia as Rick Sacra, MD, a Boston doctor, according to a WSOC-TV news report on Writebol’s press conference. Johnson said Sacra is in good spirits and communicating with his family by phone and the Internet, the story said.Also today, the WHO released a list of 197 experts and officials who will take part in a WHO meeting in Geneva the next 2 days to discuss how experimental treatments and vaccines should be used in the Ebola epidemic.In addition, the biopharmaceutical company Chimerix announced today that its investigational antiviral drug brincidofovir has shown in vitro activity against Ebola virus. The findings came in testing by the CDC and the US National Institutes of Health, the company said in a press release.Chimerix said phase 3 trials of brincidofovir as a treatment for cytomegalovirus and adenovirus are currently under way. The company noted it will have representatives at the WHO meeting on Ebola treatments this week.See also: Sep 3 WHO statement on situation in NigeriaAudio recording of Sep 3 UN press briefingSep 3 press release on release of William Pooley from Royal Free Hospital, LondonSep 3 WSOC-TV story on Nancy Writebol comments (with video link)WHO’s list of participants in Sep 4-5 meeting on Ebola interventionsSep 3 Chimerix press release
Fears are mounting for Syrian human rights lawyer Khalil Matouk, who has been held incommunicado at an unknown location since his arrest last October, an independent human rights organisation has told the Gazette.A spokesman for the Gulf Center for Human Rights said armed men in civilian clothing detained the lawyer while he was en route to his office in Damascus.Matouk is a prominent human rights lawyer within Syria, where he is known for his work at the Syrian Centre for Legal Studies and Research.Over the past two years, at least 60,000 people have been killed in the conflict in Syria, with some 2.5 million displaced.