Just hours after New York health authorities confirmed the fourth diagnosis of Ebola in the United States, members of Congress grilled medical and military officials on the country’s preparedness, warning, “We cannot assume it will be the last.”
Those ominous words from Ranking Member Elijah Cummings, D-Md., echoed the warning he and others gave Friday at a hearing of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. They cited the new case of Ebola in New York as evidence that the U.S. must deal with this crisis at its roots – in West Africa.
“We can no longer ignore the crisis in West Africa,” Cummings said. “We have a fundamental moral and ethical obligation to address the crisis in Africa.”
“We are the richest nation in the world and we have the resources and the expertise to make a difference,” he said. “It’s also in our self interest as a nation.”
Michael Lumpkin, assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low-intensity conflict, said the Defense Department is taking the threat very seriously.
“It is not only a global threat, but a national security priority for the United States,” he said. “Neither the U.S. nor the international community can build a moat around this issue in West Africa, and DOD’s efforts in the region are an essential component to contain and reduce the epidemic.”
Ebola, a disease without a known cure, has claimed nearly 5,000 lives in Africa, almost entirely in West Africa, according to the World Health Organization. But WHO officials said Wednesday the true number of fatalities could be as many as three times higher — based on reports of a 70 percent death rate, that’s roughly 15,000 deaths. On Thursday, a sixth country, Mali, confirmed its first case. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the Defense Department estimate there could be as many as 1.4 million cases by January, according to Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Mass.
Only one Ebola death has been confirmed in the U.S., the first case diagnosed in the Western Hemisphere since Ebola appeared in 1976. On Thursday, officials reported the fourth case of Ebola in the country, Dr. Craig Spencer, who returned to New York City after treating Ebola patients in Guinea, the origin of the outbreak. In both cases, the disease was transported to the U.S. after being contracted in West Africa.
Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., accused members of the administration, particularly CDCDirector Thomas Frieden, of misleading the American people about U.S. preparedness for an outbreak.
“Recognize that what we don’t know, could kill us,” Issa said.
Several lawmakers focused on the most recent case in New York – where the patient rode the subway, went out to eat and even went bowling — as evidence of continued shortfalls in the U.S. system of response.
“I am very concerned about the protocols for protecting the American public,” said Rep. Mike Turner, R-Ohio, speaking of procedures established by both the CDC and Defense Department. He cited concerns about the “multiplier effect.”
“Certainly there were some breaks in the links of the chain,” said Dr. Nicole Lurie, assistant secretary for preparedness and response at the Department of Health and Human Services. But she noted later, “Ebola has never been in this Hemisphere before, and as we are learning those things, we are tightening up our procedures as quickly as possible.”
Other lawmakers repeated calls for a travel ban, which the Obama administration has resisted. Witnesses at the hearing Friday agreed that a travel ban would be unproductive.
As the hearing progressed, a congressman shared some good news: the National Institutes of Health had just reported that one of the infected nurses, Nina Pham, had been declared Ebola-free. President Barack Obama met with Pham at the White House shortly after, giving her a large embrace.
Rather than politicize the issue, Cummings said the most effective response to the disease is preventing its spread by focusing resources on West Africa.
“We are in a political season, and you’ve got elections only a few days away,” Cummings told reporters after the hearing, “but as I said from the very beginning, this issue is so crucial, that we must not move only to common ground, we must move to higher ground.”
Found at Defense One.
SILVER SPRING, MD—Saying that he didn’t “give two shits” if they had to knock on the door of every trailer and halfway house in the country, TLC producer and programming director Mark Livingston reportedly told his staffers Friday that he expects to see a list of at least 100 fucked-up families on his desk by the end of the workday. “We’re up shit creek right now, so I need each one of you assholes rooting through every gutter in the goddamn Ozarks to find me a household of inbreds, addicts, or fat-as-fuck morons that we can put in primetime,” a visibly aggravated Livingston said to his staff following the cancellation of the network’s popular Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, stressing that the new families had better be “borderline brain-dead” and “messed up as all fuck.” “If they have 20 dipshit kids, that’s great. If they only have one greasy dimwit kid who can barely string a sentence together, that’ll work too. Hell, you get me some snarl-toothed family of backwoods idiots who all call their dad Papa Pig or some shit like that, and I’ll sign them immediately. Just find me some family of sewer people I can throw in front of the goddamn camera, got it?” At press time, Livingston was angrily telling his staffers that they could all find a new job wiping asses at the Disney Channel if they brought him one more suggestion for a morbidly obese teen mother.
Found at the Onion.
“I like them on women… I do not like them on myself.”
This is a clip from Stormy Weather (1943) featuring Cab Calloway and his orchestra performing “Jumpin Jive”. At the 1:30 mark The Nicholas Brothers steal the scene which only gets better as it goes on.
My life is 50% wondering if it’s too late to drink coffee and 50% wondering if it’s too early to drink alcohol.
Keith Sapsford, 14, Australian, hid in the wheel housing of a Japan Air Lines Tokyo-bound jet in Sydney. John Gilspin, an amateur photographer, was testing his new camera lens as the plane took off and unwittingly caught Keith Sapsford’s 200-foot plunge to death in 1970.
The Case for Trailer Parks
Houses made in a factory are a cheap and energy-efficient way for poorer Americans to become homeowners—plus, these days, the mass-produced units can be pretty spiffy.
You’ve seen it before: a house, on a truck, on a highway, slowing down traffic with its yellow “OVERSIZED LOAD” sign, its tan vinyl siding nearly screaming “Trailer Park!”
The snobs among us may judge these pre-fab homes as shoddily built, cheap eyesores in a country that’s increasingly eschewing the suburbs for walkable urban areas.
But pre-fabricated homes just might be part of the solution to America’s affordable housing crisis.
Home prices are continuing to rise, even as incomes on the lower-end of the scale remain flat, putting home ownership out of reach for many Americans. In some cities, that’s led to renters flooding the markets, which in turns drives rental prices up. Homeownership in the U.S. was 65 percent in the fourth quarter of last year, down from 69 percent in 2005, according to the Census Bureau (PDF).
Families who can’t afford homes often find that the apartments available to them are tiny, expensive, and old. Manufactured homes, affordable-housing advocates say, are spacious in comparison.
“The manufactured home is probably the most cost-effective way to provide quality affordable housing,” said Donna M. Blaze, the CEO of the Affordable Housing Alliance, which helped provide manufactured homes for Sandy refugees. “Most of our new units are light years ahead of the apartments for rent in today’s market.”
The average sales price for a manufactured home in 2013 was $64,000, according to the Census Bureau, while the average sales price for a single-family home was $324,000. The single-family site-built home includes the land, though,while owners of manufactured homes often have to still grapple with landlords and leasing issues. But the structure itself is nevertheless significantly cheaper: New manufactured homes cost around $43 per square foot; site-built homes cost $93 per square foot.
“In many areas, working class families are priced out of the market to buy homes,” said said Stacey Epperson, the president and CEO of NextStep, which connects the manufactured home industry with affordable housing groups. “But for us, homeownership is still part of the American dream.”
New Hampshire residents Wanita Ordway and her husband Kevin are once such working-class family: Kevin is a carpenter, Wanita is retired. They were looking at rentals, and then stumbled across a manufactured house last year that cost just $87,500 for the structure and the two acres of land it’s on.
It’s spacious, Ordway said, with three bedrooms, two baths, a fireplace, a family room, and a breakfast nook with an island in the kitchen. The kitchen is cheerily wallpapered with images of fruits, and the bathroom has ivy wallpaper. When Wanita asked the utility company to audit the house to see how much energy it used over the cold winter, she discovered it was too energy efficient to even qualify for an audit.
“It’s just a wonderful option for people who cannot get a conventional home,” she said. “If you get past the stereotype of a mobile home, these are just as well-constructed as a stick home.”
There are currently about 18 million Americans living in manufactured homes, and the houses make up the largest stock of unsubsidized housing in the country, according to the Manufactured Housing Institute. That is becoming more important as government budgets shrink and Americans prioritize other policy areas over public spending on subsidized housing.
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