Even as reports from throughout Liberia, including some of the epi-centers of the deadly Ebola virus, say it is rapidly receding, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control are still making alarming and apocalyptic ‘predictions’ that Ebola will continue to spread by massive proportions well into January 2015.The question that readily comes to mind is, What are these two global organizations up to? After taking a full six months to respond to this deadly emergency in three West African countries where people were dropping dead in their thousands, WHO is still insisting that Ebola deaths could exceed 20,000.Pessimistically worse yet, the Atlanta-based United States government’s CDC says that between 500,000 and 1.4 million people may be infected by January. And now the British medical journal, The Lancet Infectious Diseases have just come out with another dreadful prediction, that “unless accelerated efforts to control the disease are made, the virus, by mid-December, will infect 171,000 and kill 90,000 people in Liberia alone.Are these grim predictions real? Are they a ploy to attract more world response against the epidemic, or are they designed for something else?When last week President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf visited Foya in Lofa County, where Ebola first broke out in Liberia from across the border in Guinea, there had been in the past three weeks NO new cases reported in Lofa. In addition, the Ebola Treatment Center in Foya was practically empty. In Ganta, Nimba County, which lost over a hundred people, reports are saying that there are no new cases there either, and that the death toll has diminished.Even in Monrovia, reports coming in to this newspaper say the cases are going down, and that most ETUs have limited occupancy. Our Senior Reporter Omari Jackson visited several communities around Monrovia, many of them badly affected slums, and reported that the people were in a thanksgiving mood because the number of infections and deaths were way down.Reporter Jackson said people were very upset that WHO and others were saying the reason the numbers in ETUs were down was that ‘infected’ people were staying away for fear of Ebola stigma and cremation. He said he found no one in the several communities visited who held that view. Many were upset with the WHO and CDC for giving these alarming predictions. The people interviewed by Reporter Jackson said that just as they were beginning to feel a welcome sense of relief, given the visible decline in the viral infections and deaths, these WHO and CDC predictions were causing them great discomfort and anxiety.Reporter Jackson discovered another highly positive development: people are religiously following all measures of prevention, including washing their hands, not touching one another or dead bodies and insisting that anyone suspected of any kind of infection is immediately sent away from the neighborhood and led to a center where that person can be tested. In other words, the people are no longer hiding their sick, but doing what they know they must do to fight the virus. So we expect corresponding encouragement from all the partners, including the international bodies.With the virus receding, it will be interesting to see what will happen in the 17 ETUs nearing completion by the American military contingent and by the Chinese and other partners. Reporter Jackson visited the latest one at the new Defense Ministry premises and found that there were so far no patients there.It is an historical fact that Liberia has never before faced a health crisis like this one. The WHO and CDC predictions, even as our people are responding robustly to the established preventive measures, have presented us with another very serious challenge: just as President Ellen Johnson said a week ago, we must REJECT these predictions by fighting with all our might to resist this virus and expel it from ourcountry and the Mano River basin.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
THE Los Angeles Police Department’s counterterrorism capabilities have grown exponentially in the past six years. We are constantly training and building our capacity – both in terms of personnel and equipment – all in an attempt to prevent terrorism from taking root in the city of Los Angeles. Despite this, we are often criticized for our decisions by people who are either uninformed or rush to judgment based on inaccurate information. The latest evolution of this is Charles Peña’s Oct. 6 opinion piece, “LAPD chief doesn’t understand the terrorist threat.” Peña contends that the department’s acquisition of devices that detect radiological weapons and materials was essentially unwarranted and that Chief William Bratton does not grasp the “larger terrorist threat.” He is wrong on both counts, and I think it is important to illustrate why. In the last three Urban Area Security Initiative grant cycles, the LAPD has received more than $40 million of federal money for projects and equipment aimed at keeping Angelenos safe from terrorism and other threats. The $275,000 used to equip a helicopter and officers on the ground with devices capable of detecting radiological signatures consistent with “dirty bombs” constitutes only 0.7 percent of the total grant funds allocated to the LAPD. The other important issue to consider is the impact that a dirty-bomb explosion would have on the city of Los Angeles. While the explosion itself would harm a handful of people, the social, economic and psychological impact of such an act would ripple through the larger community. In the last four years, Chief Bratton has expanded the counterterrorism command from fewer than 30 officers to nearly 300. Bratton understands the larger threat and knows that local police can be leveraged in the War on Terror to protect the homeland. The cops are the eyes and ears of the community, the first preventers creating a hostile environment for terrorists. These efforts to enhance our ability to detect dirty bombs are but one of many strategies and initiatives that the counterterrorism command has developed. I hope that the public’s support is with the experts, whose job it is to protect communities, understand the risk, and prepare for the inevitable. Michael P. Downing is deputy chief commanding officer in the Counter-Terrorism/Criminal Intelligence Bureau of the Los Angeles Police Department.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREGame Center: Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, 10 a.m.This equipment is only one element of a broader intelligence-driven strategy. In the case of a potential threat, these tools, coupled with an intelligence-led policing strategy, can quickly determine whether a radiological signature is a legitimate concern – saving time and freeing up other national assets. These are not intended to be the only technological resources in the region to detect radiological signatures. In the event of a legitimate threat, resources from the Fire Department, the Sheriff’s Department, other county entities and the FBI would immediately be brought to bear on the problem. To address Peña’s concern about “countless false alarms,” it is important to note that these are not mindless tools that direct operations. In fact, the antithesis is true. Trained and experienced police professionals employ these tools and they know how to distinguish between kitty litter and Polonium 210. Peña correctly observes that there have only been two cases where dirty bombs have been used. But this does not negate the fact that terrorists have planned and will continue to plan to use these bombs to attack the social, economic and psychological fabric of America. Unfortunately, it would not be very difficult to collect the necessary radiological source materials. Instructions for putting these elements together in a deadly cocktail are only a mouse click away.