International

8.29.14  Israel identifies body as missing American student

 

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli police say a recently found body has been identified after a forensic investigation as that of a U.S. religious student who disappeared while hiking in Jerusalem last week.

 

Police spokeswoman Luba Samri says the body was confirmed early on Friday morning to be that of seminary student Aharon Sofer. She says “there is no suspicion of foul play,” meaning Sofer’s death was not a militant attack or a criminal attack.

 

Samri had no further details on how Sofer died.

 

The body was found on Thursday night in the same area where Sofer disappeared last week. The 23-year-old Sofer, of Lakewood, New Jersey, had been hiking with a friend in a hilly, forested area on the outskirts of Jerusalem.

 

Sofer’s parents had flown to Israel to assist with the search.


8.29.14  WHO: More Ebola cases in past week than any other

 

DAKAR, Senegal (AP) — The World Health Organization says the past week has seen the highest increase of Ebola cases since the outbreak began, more evidence that the crisis is worsening.

 

In an update Friday, the U.N. health agency said more than 500 cases were recorded over the past week, by far the worst toll of any week so far. The vast majority of the cases were in Liberia, but the agency said it was also the highest number of cases in one week for Guinea and Sierra Leone.

 

WHO warned Thursday that the outbreak in West Africa is accelerating and could eventually infect 20,000 people.

 

So far, it has killed more than 1,500 of the 3,000 people it has sickened. Nigeria has also recorded a small number of cases.


8.28.14:   Ebola cases could eventually reach 20,000

 

GENEVA (AP) — The World Health Organization says the Ebola outbreak in West Africa could exceed 20,000 cases.

 

That’s more than six times as many as right now. A new study by the U.N. health agency also assumes that in many hard-hit areas, the actual number of cases may be two to four times higher than is currently reported.

 

New figures show that 1,552 people have now died from the Ebola virus from among the 3,069 cases reported so far.

 


8.27.14:   3rd doctor dies from Ebola in Sierra Leone

 

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone (AP) — A senior adviser to Sierra Leone’s president says a third doctor has died from Ebola, marking a setback in the country’s fight against the virulent disease.

 

Presidential adviser Ibrahim Ben Kargbo said Wednesday that Dr. Sahr Rogers had been working in a clinic in the eastern town of Kenema when he contracted the virus.

 

News of his death came as a Senegalese epidemiologist working in Sierra Leone was evacuated to Germany for medical treatment. He had been doing surveillance work for the World Health Organization.

 

Ebola is spread by direct contact with the bodily fluids of people sick with the virus. Health workers have been the most vulnerable because of their proximity to patients. The WHO says more than 120 health workers have died in the four affected countries.


8.27.14:  Journalist held captive in Syria back home in US

 

BOSTON (AP) — American journalist Peter Curtis says he’s “so touched and moved, beyond all words” by the people who’ve welcomed him home after he was held hostage in Syria for 22 months.

 

Curtis was freed over the weekend by the Syrian extremist group al-Nusra Front, and he returned to the U.S. yesterday.

 

He flew on to Boston last night, where he was reunited with his mother.


8.26.14:  UN health agency: E-cigarettes must be regulated

 

GENEVA (AP) — The U.N. health agency says electronic cigarettes should be regulated and banned from use indoors until the exhaled vapor is proven not to harm bystanders.

 

The World Health Organization also calls for a ban on sales to minors of the popular nicotine-vapor products, and to either forbid or keep to a minimum any advertising, promotion or sponsorship.

 

In a report Tuesday, the Geneva-based agency said the “apparently booming” $3 billion global market for more than 400 brands of e-cigarettes is increasingly becoming a competition between independent companies and transnational tobacco companies aggressively muscling for market share.

 

The report is to be discussed at a WHO conference on controlling tobacco in October.

 

The American Heart Association backs the battery-powered devices that vaporize nicotine as a last resort to help smokers quit.


8.26.14:  US makes surveillance flights over Syria

 

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Martin Dempsey isn’t commenting on the U.S. beginning surveillance flights over Syria, but he says the U.S. does want a clearer picture of militants from the group Islamic State operating in the country. The information gathered could pave the way for airstrikes on militants in Syria. The U.S. began launching strikes against the Islamic State inside Iraq earlier this month.


8.25.14:  American journalist freed in Syria

 

WASHINGTON (AP) — The release of an American journalist in Syria is likely to renew questions about the intentions of different militant groups in Syria and Iraq and how the U.S. should deal with hostage takers.

 

Journalist Peter Theo Curtis was freed Sunday, days after another U.S. journalist kidnapped in Syria was beheaded by Islamic militants.

 

Secretary of State John Kerry says Curtis was held by an al-Qaida-linked militant group.

 

Journalist James Foley was executed by the group Islamic State, which al-Qaida disavowed earlier this year after deeming it too brutal.


8.22.14:  American missionaries released from hospital

 

ATLANTA (AP) — An American missionary infected with Ebola while serving in Liberia has left his isolation unit at an Atlanta hospital and says his recovery is “miraculous.”

 

Officials at Emory University Hospital say Dr. Kent Brantly poses no public health threat. Fellow medical missionary Nancy Writebol was quietly discharged two days ago.

 

Brantly used his discharge to thank the medical staff, those who prayed for him and to express the role of his faith in his recovery. Ebola is often fatal.

 

Brantly says he didn’t realize that so many people had prayed for him while he was in isolation. He said he started praying after he was first diagnosed a month ago that God would give him the strength to maintain his faith.

 

Brantly and Writebol were infected while working with Ebola victims in Liberia. Their charity organizations, Samaritan’s Purse and SIM, reached out to top infectious disease experts for help. They were given the experimental drug known as Zmapp.

 

The son of American medical missionary Nancy Writebol says his mother’s condition is getting “better and better.” Writebol was quietly released on Tuesday from Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, where she was treated after contracting Ebola while working in Liberia.

 

Jeremy Writebol says his mother is recuperating at an “undisclosed location” and wants time to gain strength and to be with her husband.

 

Writebol says the medical staff, medicine and science contributed to what God is doing in his mother’s body.

 

He says it’s too early for her to make plans but that she remains open to what God wants.


8.21.14:   Hospital to discuss discharge of Ebola patients

 

ATLANTA (AP) — The charity an American doctor infected with Ebola works for says he’s now recovered from the virus and will be released today from an Atlanta hospital.

 

Dr. Kent Brantly and colleague Nancy Writebol were flown out of the West African nation of Liberia earlier this month and have been getting treatment at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta.

 

The hospital will hold a news conference later this morning to discuss the release of both health care workers.

 

Dr.  Brantly works for Samaritan’s Purse. The president of their group says, “Today I join all of our Samaritan’s Purse team around the world in giving thanks to God as we celebrate Dr. Kent Brantly’s recovery from Ebola and release from the hospital.”