• Nation and World Briefs
     | August 06,2014


    2nd American Ebola victim arrives

    An American aid worker infected with Ebola arrived Tuesday in Atlanta, joining a second patient being given an experimental treatment that has never before been tested on humans.

    Nancy Writebol, 59, traveled from Monrovia, Liberia, to Emory University Hospital, just downhill from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She arrived two days after Kent Brantly, a doctor with whom she had worked in Liberia and who also contracted Ebola, showed up for treatment.

    The differences were stark in how they went from the ambulance to Emory, which has a highly specialized isolation unit. While Brantly, 33, was able to walk with assistance into the hospital, Writebol — covered from head to toe in a protective suit — was wheeled in on a stretcher.

    Still, the 59-year-old Writebol was described as weak but showing signs of improvement.

    “A week ago we were thinking about making funeral arrangements for Nancy,” her husband, David Writebol, said in a statement read by the president of SIM USA, the aid group with which she was working in Liberia. “Now we have a real reason to be hopeful.”

    KENTWOOD, Mich.

    Boy fatally stabbed at playground

    A 9-year-old boy was repeatedly stabbed in the back by a 12-year-old boy at a playground, then ran screaming to his western Michigan home and collapsed bleeding on his porch, witnesses and police said Tuesday.

    Michael Conner Verkerke died at a hospital shortly after the Monday evening attack in Kentwood, outside Grand Rapids. Witnesses said the 12-year-old boy went to a nearby home after the stabbing, called 911 and calmly turned himself in, then tried to flag down officers when they arrived.

    The 12-year-old pleaded not guilty to a murder charge in juvenile court on Tuesday, according to his attorney. He was ordered held in a juvenile detention center.

    Barb Poelman told The Associated Press she was sitting on her deck in the Pinebrook Village mobile home park when “we heard the kids run across the front ... screaming. He (Michael) ran with the kids that were with him.”

    She said the boy’s mother was distraught, pleading for help as she lay on the grass outside the family’s home.


    Cuba to US: Halt ‘covert’ program

    The Cuban government on Tuesday called on Washington to halt hostile “covert” operations against it in the wake of the recent disclosure that an Obama administration program secretly sent young Latin Americans to Cuba on politically motivated missions.

    A top Cuban diplomatic official, Josefina Vidal, said an Associated Press investigation this week reveals that the U.S. government “has not desisted in its hostile and interventionist plans against Cuba, which seek to create destabilizing situations to provoke changes in our political order.”

    Vidal demanded the U.S. “cease, once and for all, all its subversive, illegal and covert actions against Cuba” in a statement emailed to The Associated Press. She noted the U.S. government has “shamelessly acknowledged” running the program.

    The project, funded and overseen by the U.S. Agency for International Development, deployed nearly a dozen young people from Latin America to Cuba to recruit political activists under the guise of health and civic projects. AP’s investigation found the operation put the foreigners in danger not long after an American contractor was arrested in the communist island nation for doing secretive work.

    The Obama administration this week defended its use of an HIV-prevention workshop for its Cuban democracy-promotion efforts, but disputed that the project was a front for political purposes. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the program “enabled support for Cuban civil society, while providing a secondary benefit of addressing the desires Cubans express for information and training about HIV prevention.”

    DONETSK, Ukraine

    Residents fill shelter as fighting nears

    For the people huddled in a dank and chilly bomb shelter Tuesday, the question of who was responsible was less important than the fact of their misery.

    Two journalists from The Associated Press joined Donetsk residents who spent the night in the shelter as fighting between government forces and separatist insurgents closed in on the outskirts of the largest rebel-held city.

    The rebels accuse Ukrainian forces of conducting a brutal bombing campaign against Donetsk; the government denies using artillery against residential neighborhoods. Either way, many Donetsk residents have been spending their nights underground in the hopes that they’ll be safer.

    The people wrapping themselves in blankets Tuesday said it mattered little who was responsible for the bombing. Some glumly read newspapers to pass the time, and one read a poem she wrote about her neighborhood’s ordeal.

    “Bombs and rockets; how much more can we take?” Galina Dudkina recited. “Empty streets, the cries of dogs, the meowing of cats that were left behind.”

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