In brief | Nation & World | 8-9-14


World Health Organization: Spread of Ebola in West Africa is an international health emergency

LONDON — The World Health Organization urged nations worldwide to donate money and resources to stop the spread of Ebola as it declared the outbreak in West Africa to be an international public health emergency.

The latest Ebola outbreak is the largest and longest ever recorded for the disease, which has a death rate of about 50 percent and has so far killed at least 961 people, according to the U.N. health agency. It emerged in Guinea in March and has since spread to Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria.

“Countries affected to date simply do not have the capacity to manage an outbreak of this size and complexity on their own,” WHO chief Dr. Margaret Chan told a news conference Friday in Geneva. “I urge the international community to provide this support on the most urgent basis possible.”

She added that the world’s “collective health security” depends on curbing the spread of the killer virus in West Africa, even as she acknowledged that many countries would probably not have any Ebola cases.

The Nigerian government declared containing the Ebola virus in Africa’s most populous country a national emergency Friday, after two Ebola patients died and the health ministry said seven other cases were confirmed. President Goodluck Jonathan approved spending $11.7 million to fight the disease and urged schools to extend a current holiday to give experts more time to assess the Ebola threat.

Murder trial of Oscar Pistorius approaches an end; judge schedules verdict for Sept. 11

PRETORIA, South Africa — As Oscar Pistorius’ lawyer put it Friday, the murder trial of the double-amputee athlete comes down to a sliver of time — the seconds before he fired four gunshots through a closed toilet door and killed his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.

The world will have to wait another month to hear a verdict in a globally televised five-month trial whose blend of shock and celebrity, framed by the rise and fall of a role model-turned-murder suspect, has transfixed people far beyond South Africa’s borders.

Judge Thokozile Masipa said at the end of two days of final arguments that she will give a verdict on Sept. 11, signaling the approaching end of a trial that has had several delays, including one break for an evaluation of Pistorius’ state of mind. Earlier, in monologues that lasted for hours, chief lawyers for both sides gave their clashing versions of what happened at the Olympic runner’s Pretoria home in the early hours of Valentine’s Day last year.

Pistorius has said he mistakenly shot Steenkamp through the closed door of a toilet cubicle, thinking there was an intruder in his home. The prosecution alleges the athlete intentionally killed her after an argument.

New Ukraine rebel leader gives Moscow distance from mutiny but reinforces feelings of betrayal

DONETSK, Ukraine — A Ukrainian has replaced a Russian at the helm of the insurgency in eastern Ukraine and declared that he wants “only moral support” from Moscow, as the Kremlin apparently tries to rebut Western claims that it is calling the shots among the rebels.

Many in the rebel ranks decry what they call Russia’s betrayal of their cause, but most vow to keep on fighting even as Ukrainian government troops close in on the main rebel stronghold, the eastern city of Donetsk.

In an ominous sign that the fighting may escalate further, the new leader of the insurgency has boasted of hundreds of new recruits and says a lot of rocket launchers and tanks have been seized from a Ukrainian unit.

Alexander Zakharchenko, a native of mostly Russian-speaking eastern Ukraine, took over late Thursday as prime minister of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, which has declared independence from the central government in Kiev.

He succeeded Alexander Borodai, a Moscow political consultant who reportedly played a role in Russia’s annexation of Crimea in March before moving into eastern Ukraine. Borodai has worked for a nationalist tycoon with alleged connections to the Kremlin.

By wire sources