AP News in Brief at 5:58 a.m. EDT

10/30/2014 3:15 AM
By Associated Press

Ebola spurs debate on quarantines; experts say they are used rarely, question their efficacy

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Spanish flu pandemic a century ago prompted the last large-scale quarantines in this country. Now the Ebola outbreak is raising new questions about whether ordering quarantines is an effective way to fight deadly disease in the U.S.

Health experts say putting people into quarantine can be appropriate on a case-by-case basis. In a high-profile case in 2007, an Atlanta man believed to have a rare, extremely drug-resistant form of tuberculosis was ordered into federal quarantine after returning to the country from his wedding overseas. Later tests found a less dangerous form of TB.

Experts have criticized Govs. Andrew Cuomo of New York and Chris Christie of New Jersey for announcing quarantines for health workers returning from West Africa, where the Ebola virus is raging. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has announced less restrictive guidelines with different recommendations aimed at different groups.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon announced plans to go further than the CDC guidelines and put troops returning from Ebola response missions in West Africa in quarantine for 21 days — the incubation period for Ebola.



Showdown is imminent in Maine as nurse who treated Ebola patients vows to defy quarantine

FORT KENT, Maine (AP) — State police plan to monitor the movements and interactions of a nurse who vowed to defy the state's quarantine for health care workers who treat Ebola patients, but troopers cannot take her into custody without a judge's permission.

State officials were seeking a court order to detain Kaci Hickox for the remainder of the 21-day incubation period for Ebola that ends on Nov. 10.

Hickox contends there's no need for quarantine because she's showing no symptoms, and she made her point by stepping outside her home briefly Wednesday night to talk to reporters, even shaking one reporter's hand. Police watched from across the street.

"There's a lot of misinformation about how Ebola is transmitted, and I can understand why people are frightened. But their fear is not based on medical facts," Norman Siegel, one of her attorneys, said Wednesday as a showdown appeared imminent.

Hickox, who volunteered in Sierra Leone with Doctors Without Borders, was the first person forced into New Jersey's mandatory quarantine for people arriving at the Newark airport from three West African countries. Hickox spent the weekend in a tent in New Jersey before traveling to the home she shares with her boyfriend, a nursing student at the University of Maine at Fort Kent.


Maine, Kansas independents could swing Senate control to either party under some scenarios

WASHINGTON (AP) — After millions of Americans vote next week, it's possible that one or two men will decide which party controls the Senate.

One is Sen. Angus King, a Maine independent who generally "caucuses" — or cooperates — with Democrats but says he might switch to the Republicans. The other is Greg Orman of Kansas, an independent candidate trying to oust Republican Sen. Pat Roberts.

If he wins, Orman says, he would caucus with whichever party holds the majority when the new Congress convenes in January. He has not said, however, what he would do if he could decide, by himself, which party that will be.

That could happen if Republicans win 50 seats and Democrats control 49 seats (including King's and that of another independent, Vermont's Bernie Sanders, who also caucuses with Democrats). If Orman sided with the Democrats, they would control a 50-50 Senate, thanks to Vice President Joe Biden's ability to break tie votes.

But if Orman sided with the Republicans, they would hold a 51-49 majority.


A giant: Bumgarner comes out of 'pen, San Francisco beats Royals 3-2 for 3rd title in 5 years

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A giant, indeed.

Madison Bumgarner punctuated his World Series performance for the ages by pitching the San Francisco Giants to their third championship in five years with a 3-2 win over the Kansas City Royals on Wednesday night.

The big left-hander came out of the bullpen to throw five scoreless innings on two days' rest, saving a Series pushed to the limit. And by winning Game 7 on the road, Bumgarner and the Giants succeeded where no team had in 3 1/2 decades.

"I wasn't thinking about innings or pitch count. I was just thinking about getting outs, getting outs, until I couldn't get them anymore and we needed someone else," Bumgarner said in a monotone that made it sound as though he was talking about batting practice.

A two-out misplay in the ninth almost wrecked it for him.


With mosh pit, marijuana and World Series memories, San Francisco fans revel in Giants

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — They cheered every strike and pop fly together. They booed every pitch called as a ball in unison. Then, when victory was theirs, an orange and black sea standing shoulder-to shoulder roared as one.

Giants fans gathered in the streets of San Francisco uncorked the champagne, lit bonfires, danced in a mosh pit and hugged strangers on Wednesday as their team scored its third World Series win in as many championship appearances, a triumph as comfortable as the warm October air and made all the more gratifying by its arrival at the end of a seventh, winner-takes-all 3-2 game.

"I knew they were going to win. It's the Giants. They do this all the time," San Francisco native Barbra Norris, 54, said of the team's odds-defying win in an away game played the night after a crushing shutout in Kansas City.

In some areas, the atmosphere grew rowdier as the night wore on.

Three people were injured in separate incidents, two by gunshots and one in a stabbing, police spokesman officer Gordon Shyy said. The gunshot victims' wounds were nonlife-threatening, but he didn't have information on the stabbing.


Sri Lanka says no hope finding mudslide survivors; death toll estimates range from 100-200

KOSLANDA, Sri Lanka (AP) — There was no hope of finding survivors after a mudslide tore through a tea plantation, a Sri Lankan disaster official said Thursday, amid widely conflicting reports about how many people had been buried alive under the mud.

Disaster Management Minister Mahinda Amaraweera estimated the number of dead in Wednesday's disaster at the Koslanda tea plantation would be fewer than 100, although villagers said the figure could easily exceed 200.

"I have visited the scene and from what I saw I don't think there will be any survivors," Amaraweera told The Associated Press on Thursday. "But that number is less than 100."

Initial reports from Sri Lanka's Disaster Management Center said some 250 people were missing. But Amaraweera has cut that figure significantly, saying some people believed to have been buried were actually at work or school when the mudslide struck at 7:30 a.m. in the island nation's central hills.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa visited the disaster site Thursday and spoke to residents who have been kept in schools and temples.


US economy is expected to reach steady speed and remain at a solid pace through 2015

WASHINGTON (AP) — It's taken years, but the U.S. economy may finally be reaching a sustainable cruising speed.

Many economists predict that overall growth, as measured by the gross domestic product, reached a healthy 3 percent annual rate in the July-September quarter, according to a survey by data firm FactSet.

The Commerce Department will release its first estimate of GDP growth in the third quarter at 8:30 a.m. EDT Thursday.

If the expectations prove accurate, it would be the fourth quarter in the past five in which the economy has reached at least a 3 percent growth rate.

For the April-June period, growth reached a sizzling 4.6 percent rate. But that marked a sharp bounce back from the first quarter, when the economy shrank at an annual rate of 2.1 percent — a contraction normally associated with recessions. The stumble reflected largely a harsh winter that closed shopping malls and disrupted much economic activity.


For S. Korea parents of teen on doomed ferry, wait for the body ends on her 17th birthday

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Hwang In-yeol and his wife waited seven years to have a child, and then she was born on Oct. 29, 1997. After a ferry disaster in April that killed her and 303 others, the couple waited again for nearly seven months to see Ji-hyeon's body. The vigil ended Wednesday when divers retrieved their only child's body on her 17th birthday.

"The saddest birthday party on the earth," read a headline in the Hankyoreh newspaper Thursday alongside a picture showing a sobbing Hwang standing with his wife on Wednesday before a whipped-cream cake with glowing candles on it.

"Please, wait peacefully for me in heaven. Daddy will follow you soon," the 51-year-old Hwang was quoted as saying.

Divers found Ji-hyeon's body on Tuesday around a toilet in the sunken ship Sewol, but it took one day to pull it up to the surface because of strong currents and its decaying condition. The results of DNA tests released Thursday confirmed the body belongs to Ji-hyeon.

Her body is the first recovered since July 18, raising the official death toll from the April 16 sinking to 295, mostly high school students who were travelling to a southern island for a school trip. Nine others are still missing.


AP PHOTOS: At an Israeli prison, professional models prowl the catwalk in inmates' creations

RAMLE, Israel (AP) — Alert the fashion police: prisoners in an Israeli jail have presented their debut collections, bringing the do's and don'ts of design straight to the halls of a penitentiary.

Neve Tirza prison, Israel's only women's prison, hosted its first fashion show on Monday where models on towering heels strutted on a red catwalk, showcasing clothes designed and made by inmates.

The prisoners were all part of a rehabilitative project meant to grant them skills they might use upon their release, as well as restore self-confidence following an extended period in jail.

"The intention was to give real tools and create something that is new and through fashion to create a better society," said Yaniv Schwartz, who manages business development for Studio 6B, the Israeli design school behind the fashion show.

The prisoners, working alongside students from Studio 6B, created collections inspired by anything from British military wear to Indian religious symbols. The clothes were embellished with neon flowers, animal prints and geometric shapes. One grey sleeveless dress bore a prison serial number.


Activists, US say Myanmar clings to junta-era political prisoners, despite government denials

YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — Myanmar has freed more than a thousand political prisoners since former military rulers handed over power three years ago, a move that has smoothed the former pariah state's international rehabilitation. Now the government says the job is done. Human-rights activists and the U.S. say, not so fast.

President Thein Sein is preparing to disband a committee that determined which inmates were eligible for pardons and amnesties, even though its most outspoken member says more than two dozen prisoners still deserve to be released, including a monk who angered many fellow Buddhists and an air force pilot who complained about mistreatment.

As Myanmar prepares to host the Nov. 12-13 East Asian Summit, to be attended by President Barack Obama, the fate of the remaining prisoners is one of the nagging international concerns over what's proving a bumpy change to democracy, also troubled by sectarian violence against minority Muslims and the military's continuing grip on politics.

Meanwhile, jails are again filling up with hundreds of dissenters, including writers, peaceful protesters and farmers who stood up against land grabs by the rich and powerful.

One of them was in court Thursday: Htin Kyaw, who led a protest march criticizing the government earlier this year in Yangon, Myanmar's biggest city. With the two-year sentence he received Thursday, he has now been convicted in each of the 12 townships he marched through; his lawyer said he will serve a total of 13 years and four months for disturbing public order.

Do farmers have the tools they need to cut costs in the face of low crop prices?

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