Fighting Ebola Again

first_imgThe unknown, menacing monster is upon us again. The only thing we know about it is that it kills and disrupts the lives of people and society.Our Health Correspondent, Alaskai Moore Johnson, has written about the new Ebola attack on Cowfield, Du Port Road. Several members of the Gbotee family have been afflicted, beginning with their son, Nathan, who has now died, followed by Nathan, Sr., and most probably the mother. Young Nathan succumbed to the disease on Monday, November 23rd after being diagnosed EVD positive on November 19th.The Ministry of Health (MOH), led by the Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Francis Kateh, acted swiftly by transferring the father, son and other close family members to the ELWA Ebola Treatment Unit to undergo treatment and observation. A key point our readers missed in Alaskai’s story is how did young Nathan catch the virus? It most certainly was not through sex, because he was only 10. So what happened? Did he come in contact with an infected person? Who was that, and where did the person come from? Where did he or she go? If it was from a person, it is imperative to find that person, otherwise he or she would go on spreading the virus to unsuspecting others, and soon, the disease would be full blown in Liberia again. That would be a dangerous set back for a country still reeling from the economic and psychosocial impact of Ebola, which was devastating.We think the MOH should, while dealing urgently with the cases at hand, attach equal urgency to finding the source of this new outbreak and bring it quickly under control before it spreads further.In addition, MOH should make immediate contact with all the other survivors to ensure that they are experiencing no after effects or recurrence of the disease; in which case, they should be called in immediately and served the countermeasures that will immediately contain the disease and prevent it from spreading further.In addition, MOH and the Incident Management Unit should resume, as a matter of urgency, the reinstitution of all preventive measures—hand-washing, observing strict hygiene in homes, neighborhoods and around the country. Now that MOH no longer has “social welfare” under its umbrella, whichever agency of government responsible for sanitation—most likely Public Works and Water and Sewer—should get busy and start cleaning up every nook and cranny of the country and, of course, getting all the county, city and town administrators and leaders involved in this urgent exercise, so as to prevent the disease from spreading throughout the country again.We have seen banks in Monrovia maintaining the practice of hand-washing before admitting customers to their premises; but we do not see the same thing in government offices and schools, nor do we see homes continuing strictly to observe the hand-washing practice. A few homes are still doing it, yes, but so many have stopped, and this may be the reason people are being continually exposed to the virus.It is certainly easy for us to resettle into our old habits of avoiding strict hygiene; but given the terrible experiences we have had with this menacing epidemic, it is advisable for every citizen and resident to behave as though the virus is still with us—indeed it is, as we have seen with the Cowfield family—and observe every measure to satisfy ourselves that we are doing our part to repel (drive back, fend off) this deadly virus.What else can we say? Perhaps there is one more thing that the Ministry of Health and the entire government and people of Liberia may do to keep our country safe. We need to put up our guard, our searchlight, whatever, to detect the source—any source—of this Ebola virus. Where is it coming from, who, if anyone, is visiting us with this deadly virus and how, and do everything possible to drive it from our country and people.Otherwise, if there is anyone that is involved, that person or group of persons or nation or group of nations will always strike us with it – just when we seem to be recovering and trying to regain our stability and make progress in Liberia.Our scientists, our security apparatus and every individual Liberian—all of us— should keep our eyes wide open and take nothing for granted, if we must keep this lethal menace at bay and drive it far from our shores. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Minnie’s Summertime Dine Starts Soon at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

first_imgShare This!©Rikki NiblettHollywood & Vine‘s evening character meal will be changing again to another fun theme beginning June 6! Each night throughout the summer at the Disney’s Hollywood Studios table service restaurant, Guests will be able to experience Minnie’s Summertime Dine! Minnie Mouse and her friends will be dressed for summer excitement, as they host a summertime beach party!The Hollywood & Vine dinner buffet will include treats including fried shrimp and chips and refreshing salads like a spinach and arugula strawberry salad. Desserts will include salted caramel chocolate-dipped strawberries and blueberry lemon cupcakes.Reservations are now open, and can be made by calling (407)WDW-DINE.Minnie’s Summertime Dine will take place through September 11 and costs $46.99 per adult and $27.99 per child, plus tax and gratuity. Some dining plans are accepted.Reservations are now open, and can be made by calling 407-WDW-DINE.last_img read more

When It Comes to Prescriptions, the More Information the Better

first_imgI’m a big fan of the US Food and Drug AdministrationOpens in a new window (FDA) and the vital mission it’s been performing since 1962: ensuring that all medications sold in the United States are both safe and effective.  Everyone should want the FDA to succeed — now and in the future — because, without a strong FDA, being sick would be massively more horrible than it already is.But, although a fan, I think the FDA should change course.  Specifically, the FDA should adjudicate new drug applications with a Consumer Reports approach, not its current approach, which copies Roman emperors who signaled a gladiator’s fate with either a thumbs-up or thumbs-down, and no other choice.In other words, the FDA would continue to review new drug submissions in its careful and scientifically demanding way, just as it does now, but instead of making an approve/don’t approve decision, it would issue a rating of the drug’s safety, efficacy, and the degree of evidence supporting safety and efficacy.  Physicians and patients would use these ratings as a starting point — and only as a starting point — in deciding which medication to use.So, for example, an experimental chemotherapy drug might rate a B+ for efficacy against stage IV-A squamous cell lung cancer, an A for safety, and a 2 out of 10 for degree of evidence (more on that later). After additional study results are submitted to the FDA, the degree of evidence might rise to 4 out of 10, perhaps with changes in the safety and efficacy scores.  The FDA’s expert panels would define the efficacy scale for each disease. The safety and degree-of-efficacy scales would hopefully be more universal.This graded approach would have multiple major benefits.First, it would allow drugs to reach the market faster, that is, before all the normally required clinical trials for a drug are completed. For patients with life-threatening diseases and no other options, drugs having low degree-of-evidence scores — lower than normally needed to gain FDA approval — would be a welcome option. And pharmaceutical companies would welcome the chance to monetize their research investment at an earlier stage, although they would have to commit to continued manufacture of the drug.Second, and probably more importantly, it would drive drug makers to compete on the degree of evidence supporting their drugs, not just their safety and efficacy.  Thus, a pharmaceutical company could advance at least one component of a drug rating by performing more studies on the drug.  This solves the huge problem of scant post-marketing drug studies, that is, studies performed after the FDA approves the drug. Generic drug-makers would feel this pressure, too.  Anything that helps physicians better understand which drug is right for which patient will pay large dividends in clinical outcomes and cost.Third, this graded approach is well-suited to the revolution in drug development that has already begun. Certainly in oncology, we can expect that future drugs will be targeted to precisely-defined small groups of patients, not to large patient groups. This mirrors the evolution of the software market from the past’s three big “blockbuster” programs — Word, Excel, and Powerpoint — to today’s multiplicity of very specialized programs in the app store, where ratings are a key element of an app’s market success.Fourth, it will help physicians make better decisions. If the FDA used a standard vocabulary to define the patients for whom a given rating applied, electronic medical records could automatically match a given patient to the corresponding FDA ratings and display the latest ratings, allowing the physician to stay current with much less effort.Finally, patients will better understand their physician’s prescribing decisions, and be able to better participate in shared decision-making. In the many cases where ratings do not ultimately drive which drug to prescribe, patients will appreciate hearing their physician’s evidence-based reasons for choosing differently.Re-working drug regulation to this graded approach will require significant effort, especially defining robust and informative rating scales. The degree-of-evidence scale, for example, must not only incorporate the number of patients tested, but also the study design, so a multi-dimensional scale will likely work best (unlike the uni-dimensional scale in the earlier example). Because there will be enormous pressure to exploit holes in the scales to gain unfair advantage, the scales will have to be “unhackable.”Although the FDA would seemingly change from a regulatory agency to an information referee, all of its power to keep drugs off the market should be preserved, to be used in exceptional circumstances. Confidence in the new approach would be increased if it went live before phasing out the thumbs up/down approach.Information sharing today is utterly different from that in 1962. The FDA is in an enviable and trusted position to share much more data for each drug than it has in the past, cement the role of evidence in drug prescribing, and increase medication choices.  All of which will not only create new fans, but keep them alive longer.last_img read more

10 months agoWatford prepared to sell Doucoure – but not at PSG price

first_imgWatford prepared to sell Doucoure – but not at PSG priceby Paul Vegas10 months agoSend to a friendShare the loveWatford are prepared to sell Abdoulaye Doucoure this month.That’s according to ESPN, which report Watford will listen to offers for Doucoure starting at €50m.PSG are keen, but will not consider going higher than €30m for the midfielder.Doucoure is considered at PSG as a replacement for wantaway midfielder Adrien Rabiot.Just last week, Watford boss Javi Gracia said: “It’s important for the club and the owner to know how important he is to us. But after that, they will choose what is best for the club. Sometimes, some players, like last season with Richarlison, decide themselves. It could happen again. We do not want him to leave, but it’s football.” TagsTransfersAbout the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your saylast_img read more

10 months agoDONE DEAL: Barcelona sign Toulouse defender Jean-Clair Todibo

first_imgTagsTransfersAbout the authorCarlos VolcanoShare the loveHave your say DONE DEAL: Barcelona sign Toulouse defender Jean-Clair Todiboby Carlos Volcano10 months agoSend to a friendShare the loveBarcelona have completed the signing of Toulouse defender Jean-Clair Todibo.Todibo will arrive at the Camp Nou in the summer and will see out the remainder of the campaign with his current club.Depending on his performances and the impression that he gives during pre-season, it will be assessed by Barcelona in the summer whether he stays or departs on loan next year.Agreement with Jean-Clair Todibo (@jctodibo) for him to join the Club next season. https://t.co/L1Ejgvhg1f— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) January 8, 2019 last_img read more

ESPN Says These Are The 5 Most Overrated College Football Playoff Contenders In 2016

first_imgCollege Football National Championship in Tampa Bay logo.There’s no shortage of predictions with the 2016 college football season now just months away. Whether it’s Heisman Trophy-watch lists or national title contenders, sports news outlets all over the country have taken the opportunity to let their voices be heard. On Tuesday, ESPN decided to flip the script and pick the five teams that will enter the season as the most overrated title contenders – one from each conference. College football roundtable: Overrated playoff contenders https://t.co/nemKu2xbhf— ESPN ACC (@ESPN_ACC) May 17, 2016A panel made up of Jared Shanker, Brandon Chatman, Austin Ward, Edward Aschoff and Ted Miller ended up with the following schools. ACC – Florida StateBig 12 – OklahomaBig Ten – MichiganSEC – LSUPac-12 – StanfordThey go on to explain their reasoning behind these selections, all making pretty solid arguments. You can find that here.What do you think, college football fans? Did they get it right?last_img read more

Delhi Police saves boy from drowning

first_imgNEW DELHI: A six-year-old boy was saved by two Delhi policemen from drowning in a drain in the Narela area on Wednesday, the police said.Gaurav Sharma, Delhi Commissioner of Police (DCP) of Outer North District, told the two head constables — Narender and Yogender — heard a child crying in the drain. The constables swiftly got into action. While the one constable entered the drain, the other held him from outside. They pulled the child out of the drain and saved his life. Their act was praised by the locals who had gathered there to witness the rescue operation. “The child”s parents are poor. Father is a truck driver,” Sharma said.last_img read more

NAFTA drama earns Chrystia Freeland CPs Business Newsmaker of 2018

first_imgOTTAWA — There will be drama.Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland took pains to predict that in a lengthy August 2017 speech that spelled out Canada’s goals at the start of the North American Free Trade Agreement talks with Mexico and the volatile Trump administration.“I chose my words really carefully because you didn’t have to be a rocket scientist to anticipate that there would be moments of drama,” Freeland recalled in an interview.“We knew there would be moments where we had to fasten our seatbelts, and I think what was important was to be mentally prepared for those moments, and not to be knocked off course by them.”Ultimately, Canada’s foreign minister led the country’s efforts to salvage a new North American free trade deal. That white-knuckle ride earned Freeland the title of Canada’s Business Newsmaker of the Year for 2018.She was the runaway choice of 81 per cent of editors surveyed by The Canadian Press. Alberta Premier Rachel Notley was second with nearly 10 per cent.Jeff Labow, an editor with the Globe and Mail’s Report on Business, said Freeland “undoubtedly kept her cool amid all the Trump tweeting, lying, changing his direction and ended up with a deal that can be lived with.”Hugo Fontaine, business editor of La Presse, said Freeland was the “face and the voice” of the Canadian negotiating team.Freeland led a spasmodic negotiation that was coloured by the personal insults U.S. President Donald Trump hurled at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and, ultimately, at her. But Freeland said she was never shaken from her “core conviction” — “what I truly felt from the minute that the president was elected” — that a deal on NAFTA was possible.“One of our colleagues said to me that somehow I seemed always to be a little bit serene. I wouldn’t say I was serene, but I was always confident.”Freeland was blindsided when Mexico and the U.S. reached a side deal in August, threatening to sideline Canada unless it joined by the end of September. Freeland cut short a three-country European trip and diverted to Washington where she would spend the better part of the next month on the turf of her American counterpart, United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.Trump had already injected an unprecedented level of drama into the talks. There was his ever-present threat to rip up NAFTA, his post-G7 insults calling Trudeau “very dishonest and weak,” his frequent broadsides against Canadian farmers and supply management. He imposed punishing tariffs on Canadian and Mexican steel and aluminum and swung a Sword of Damocles threatening to add a 25 per cent tax on all Canadian autos entering the U.S.In late September, days before the U.S.-imposed deadline, Trump told a freewheeling news conference that he was “very unhappy with the negotiations and the negotiating style of Canada. We don’t like their representative very much.”Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he wasn’t surprised to hear complaints about Canada’s negotiating team, led by Freeland.“When you’re in a tough negotiation and the other guy complains about the quality of your negotiators, or how tough your negotiators are, that’s not a reason you should be changing your negotiator,” the prime minister said in an interview.“That’s a reason to buy your negotiator a beer at the end of the day.”At the time, Freeland held her powder.Looking back, Freeland said she laid down some markers for herself, and for Canada, early on. She began making preparations for NAFTA as soon as Trump was elected — two months before her promotion from the trade minister’s job to a retooled foreign affairs portfolio that put her in charge of Canada-U.S. trade.Trump may have had the Art of the Deal, but Freeland had Steve Verheul, Canada’s chief negotiator. Freeland and Verheul played hardball together to nail down the final version of the Canada-EU trade deal in late 2016, travelling to the nether regions of Belgium to stare down a restive constituency known as the Walloons, who were threatening to veto seven years of negotiations with a Byzantine set of constitutional powers.Heading into NAFTA, Verheul told Freeland they had to remember an important lesson they had learned. “The worst thing in a trade negotiation is to have a weak or uncertain counterparty because then you can’t get a deal,” the minister recalled. “What you actually really want at the other side of the table is someone who is really smart. Because then, at the end of the day, they will be able, together with you, to identify that win-win landing zone.”Freeland calls herself an “economic determinist.” That boils down to: “if something makes economic sense, it tends to happen.”So Freeland kept her focus on Lighthizer. The strapping septuagenarian may share Trump’s protectionist ideology, but he was divorced from the drama of his president’s bluster.“Bob, at the end of the day if you made a logical case to him, a logical case about why something was in his interest to agree to, he would understand that.”To this day, Freeland said there are things that she and Lighthizer still disagree on.“But he is a real pro and it became clear to me, I would say pretty early on, that notwithstanding the very great, great differences in our starting positions that he was a guy we would ultimately be able to do a deal with.”Late in the evening of Sept. 30, as Freeland was with the team assembled in Trudeau’s office across from Parliament Hill, Canada and the United States ended the suspense and announced their 11th hour deal.Exactly two months later, Freeland was at the G20 summit in Argentina. She and Lighthizer, along with their Mexican counterpart, Ildefonso Guajardo, stood behind the three North American leaders as the new trade pact was formally signed.Trump reached out to shake Freeland’s hand.“He made a point of that, after the signing. I was always very clear that there would be moments of drama,” Freeland recalled.That was all well and good, but she reminded herself of yet another cold, hard fact.“I am paid in Canadian dollars. I work for the people of Canada. And the people whose interests I try, heart and soul to earn, are Canadians’, and it is their judgement to which I answer,” she said.“That’s the judgement that matters to me.” Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Presslast_img read more


NFL Week 2 Elo Ratings And Playoff Odds

It’s a cliche: Every game counts in a league that plays just 16 of them. But Benjamin Morris’s findings in his debut Skeptical Football column were nevertheless striking: A Week 1 or Week 2 game can affect an NFL team’s chances of making the playoffs by as much as 20 or 30 percent.We also see that reflected in FiveThirtyEight’s NFL Elo ratings playoff odds, a feature we debuted last week.What are Elo ratings? The short version: Elo ratings are a simple mathematical system originally designed to rate chess players. They’ve since been adapted to a number of sports such as soccer, and we’ve adapted them to the NFL. The Elo ratings only account for fairly basic information like wins and losses, strength of schedule and margin of victory. There are more advanced systems out there, but Elo ratings are transparent, easy to calculate and we can do a lot of fun stuff with them, like simulating the rest of the season and calculating playoff odds. For more on the methodology, see here.In our Week 1 ratings — which were based on a team’s Elo rating at the end of last season — the New England Patriots had a 73 percent chance of making the playoffs and the Miami Dolphins had just a 32 percent chance. But the Dolphins upset the Patriots, and now it’s almost even: New England is at 54 percent to make the playoffs and Miami at 50 percent.Why such a big shift? Well, every game counts (especially a divisional game; our simulation accounts for playoff tiebreakers). But also, the Patriots now look slightly worse than Elo originally pegged them, and the Dolphins look slightly better. Before Week 1, Miami had projected to win 7.7 games; it now projects to win 9.1. In other words, one NFL win for the Dolphins was worth more than one win in the Elo standings because Miami’s Elo rating improved.Here are the latest Elo ratings and playoff odds for all 32 teams:A few other comments:The teams with the largest gains on the week, in addition to the Dolphins, were the Minnesota Vikings, who gained 46 Elo points after demolishing the St. Louis Rams, and the Tennessee Titans, who added 38 Elo points after beating the Kansas City Chiefs. Both Minnesota and Tennessee are now better than even money to make the playoffs; the Titans are helped by playing in the league’s weakest division (although the NFC East might have something to say about that).It’s early, but perhaps we’re seeing the emergence of a Big Three. The Seattle Seahawks are the most likely team to win the Super Bowl, at 16 percent, followed by the San Francisco 49ers at 13 percent and the Denver Broncos at 11 percent. Then there’s a fairly big drop to the Carolina Panthers at 7 percent.Meanwhile, in the it’s-already-time-to-panic department, the Chiefs project to just a 6-10 record and have only a 13 percent chance of making the playoffs.Elo ratings can also be used to derive point spreads. We strongly advise that you don’t bet on these, at least not without considering a lot of other information — Vegas betting lines are too sophisticated to be beaten by a simple system like Elo. Still, it’s fun to track their progress. Last week, they went 8-8 against point spreads as listed at Pro-Football-Reference.com.There are some funky matchups this week. Elo has the Vikings at almost even money at home against New England, while Vegas has the Patriots as 3-point favorites. Another point of disagreement is Seattle at San Diego; Vegas has the Seahawks as 6-point favorites — a lot on the road against a playoff team. Elo thinks they should be favored over the Chargers by a field goal instead. read more