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Ebola protection
October 10th, 2014
04:33 AM ET

Ebola Comment Gets Man Hazmat Escort From Plane

Ebola is no laughing matter, especially not at airports or on planes, where screenings have gotten tighter.

So, when a man on a flight on Wednesday may have joked that he had been to Africa and had the deadly disease, he received a special escort off the plane.

Four officials in blue plastic hazmat suits boarded U.S. Airways Flight 845 to retrieve him after it landed in Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic.

"I was just kidding," he could be heard saying in a video posted to social media. "I ain't from Africa!" he continued, as he walked with the officials down the aisle of the plane.

The Dominican officials had met the plane coming from Philadelphia on the tarmac "due to a possible health issue on board," U.S. Airways said in statement.

"We are following the direction of, and strictly adhering to, all Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines in place for airlines in response to the Ebola virus," the airline said.

Before the men came aboard in their bubble-like suits, a flight attendant prepared passengers for what they were about to see. Sit down and listen, she told them.

"It's going to look worse than it is," she said over the PA system. The glow of cell phone cameras filled the cabin and videos of what happened later hit social media.

The attendant spared the passenger who made the comment no indignity. She had seen nothing like this in 36 years of flying, she said.

"I think the man that has said this is an idiot, and I'll say that straight out, and if you hear me that's fine," she announced. Then she introduced the men wearing hazmat suits over bulky breathing apparatuses.

Passengers reacted with astonishment, anger and fear.

"You can't make this stuff up," a passenger can be heard saying in the online video.

Others covered their faces and scooted away in their seats."Don't touch this guy," someone could be heard saying.

A boo or two went through the cabin as the man walked by. Once he was off, the officials checked the plane then gave it clearance.

CNN has not been able to confirm the comment the man allegedly made, but according to local media reports in the Dominican Republic citing the airport's director of operations, it was:

"I have Ebola. You're all screwed."

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Filed under: Ebola
October 9th, 2014
05:55 AM ET

U.S. Military: Airstrikes Against ISIS Won't Save Key City of Kobani

U.S. airstrikes "are not going to save" the key Syrian city of Kobani from being overtaken by ISIS, said Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby.

"I think we all should be steeling ourselves for that eventuality," he told reporters in a daily briefing Wednesday.

"We are doing everything we can to halt" ISIS' progress against the town, but airstrikes alone cannot stop the Islamist militants, Kirby added.

"We've been very honest about the limits of air power here. The ground forces that matter the most are indigenous ground forces, and we don't have a willing, capable, effective partner on the ground inside Syria right now - it's just a fact," he said.

The greater U.S. strategy, Kirby said, is to degrade ISIS' ability to sustain itself.

Several senior U.S. administration officials said Kobani will soon fall to ISIS, which calls itself the Islamic State.

They downplayed the importance of it, saying the city is not a major U.S. concern.

But a look at the city shows why it would mark an important strategic victory for the militants. ISIS would control a complete swath of land between its self-declared capital of Raqqa, Syria, and Turkey - a stretch of more than 100 kilometers (62 miles).

As Time.com put it, "If the ISIS militants take control of Kobani, they will have a huge strategic corridor along the Turkish border, linking with the terrorist group's positions in Aleppo to the west and Raqqa to the east."

Staffan de Mistura, U.N. special envoy for Syria, warned of the horrors ISIS could carry out against the people of Kobani - horrors it has carried out elsewhere. "The international community needs to defend them," he said. "The international community cannot sustain another city falling under ISIS."

The terrorist group claimed it had downed at Iraqi army helicopter in Baiji. Photographs posted to an ISIS website show smoke and fire around an aircraft, which is then seen completely charred on the ground.

A truck bomb driven by ISIS exploded near the center of Kobani. Two civilians and a fighter inside the city described it as huge. The target was a security forces building, they said.

However, Kurdish official Idriss Nassan told CNN, the truck did not reach its intended target and detonated early.

See more on this developing story on CNN.com.

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Filed under: Kobani
October 8th, 2014
05:54 AM ET

Officials: ISIS Will Capture Key Syrian Border City

The key Syrian border city of Kobani will soon fall to ISIS, but that's not a major U.S. concern, several senior U.S. administration officials said.

If Kobani falls, ISIS would control a complete swath of land between its self-declared capital of Raqqa, Syria, and Turkey - a stretch of more than 100 kilometers (62 miles).

The U.S. officials said the primary goals are not to save Syrian cities and towns, but to go after ISIS' senior leadership, oil refineries and other infrastructure that would curb the terror group's ability to operate - particularly in Iraq.

Saving Iraq is a more strategic goal for several reasons, the officials said. First, the United States has a relationship with the Iraqi government. By contrast, the Obama administration wants Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down.

Another reason: The United States has partners on the ground in Iraq, including Iraqi forces and Kurdish fighters known as Peshmerga.

But on Tuesday, a top U.N. official implored world leaders to take action as Syrian Kurdish fighters defending Kobani are dangerously outmatched.

"They have been defending themselves with great courage. But they are now very close to not being able to do so," said Staffan de Mistura, the U.N. special envoy for Syria.

"They are fighting with normal weapons, whereas the ISIS has got tanks and mortars," he said. "The international community needs to defend them. The international community cannot sustain another city falling under ISIS."

See more on this developing story on CNN.com

Posted by ,
Filed under: ISIS • Kobani • Syria
October 7th, 2014
04:39 AM ET

Spain Has Outbreak's 1st Known Case of Contracting Ebola Outside of Africa

A nurse's assistant in Spain is the first person known to have contracted Ebola outside of Africa in the current outbreak.

Spanish Health Minister Ana Mato announced Monday that a test confirmed the assistant has the virus.

The woman helped treat a Spanish missionary and a Spanish priest, both of whom had contracted Ebola in West Africa. Both died after returning to Spain.

Health officials said she developed symptoms on September 30. She was not hospitalized until this week. Her only symptom was a fever.

See more on this developing story on CNN.com

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Filed under: Ebola
October 6th, 2014
05:25 AM ET

Vatican Synod on the Family Begins

More than 200 Catholic bishops, priests and laypeople from around the world gathered in Rome this weekend to begin discussing Catholic teachings on a range of hot-button topics, from contraception and same-sex unions to polygamy and communion for divorced and remarried Catholics.

The issues, which the Vatican places under the heading of “pastoral challenges of the family,” were chosen based on the results of a worldwide survey of Catholics in 2013.

Pope Francis called the meeting, known as a synod, to address modern issues facing families today a topic that he has made a priority since the beginning of his pontificate.

The Catholic Church, the Pope has said, must make sure “it really is in contact with the homes and the lives of its people and does not become a useless structure out of touch with people.”

In his short time as Pope, Francis has reached out to those who previously might have felt shunned by the church because of their family circumstances.

He has married couples who were already living together, baptized children of unmarried couples and reportedly called a woman in Argentina who is married to a divorced man and told her she could receive communion.

On this last point, communion for divorced and remarried Catholics, a debate has been raging since February when Francis asked a progressive German cardinal, Walter Kasper, to address fellow cardinals on the topic.

The current teaching is that Catholics who are divorced may receive communion, while Catholics who are divorced and civilly remarried may not, because the church considers them to be committing adultery with their second partner.

See more on CNN.com

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Filed under: Pope Francis • Vatican
October 3rd, 2014
05:56 AM ET

Sanitizing Crew Turned Away at Ebola Patient's Residence in Dallas

Four days after a man was diagnosed with Ebola in Dallas, the apartment where he stayed has not been sanitized, a cleaning crew contracted to do the job said. Four other people are still living there.

Thomas Eric Duncan became the first person diagnosed with Ebola on American soil when he was hospitalized this week after arrival from Liberia.

His partner and her family are in isolation at the apartment, which still has the sheets and towels Duncan used.

Before leaving his homeland, Duncan answered no to questions on whether he was exposed to the deadly virus, said Binyah Kesselly, board chairman of the Liberia Airport Authority.

Duncan had been helping Ebola patients, including caring for one at a residence outside the capital of Monrovia, Liberian community leader Tugbeh Chieh Tugbeh said.

See more on this developing story on CNN.com

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Filed under: Ebola
October 2nd, 2014
05:54 AM ET

U.S. Ebola Case: Fear, Frustration Grow

America's first diagnosed Ebola victim is contained, but three things are still spreading: fear, frustration and the search for his contacts.

While Thomas Eric Duncan remains in critical condition at a Dallas hospital, some parents are scared to take their kids to the school that his girlfriend's children attended.

Others are upset at the hospital where Duncan first sought care, which sent him home and raised the possibility he could infect others for at least two additional days.

As the search continues for those Duncan had contact with, here's the latest on how the case is affecting others:

'I just got scared'

Duncan was in Dallas visiting his girlfriend, Liberian community leader Stanley Gaye said.

Among the people he came in contact with, Gaye said: his girlfriend's five children.

Dallas Independent School District Superintendent Mike Miles said the patient came in contact with five students who attended four different schools in the area.

Sam Tasby Middle School is one of those schools.

"I just got scared because I thought that that kid came to that school and probably got contact with him," said Nellie Catalan, whose child attends the school.

"I know it doesn't get (spread) by the air, but you never know."

More than 3,500 students attend the four schools. Each is getting cleaned and sanitized over the next few days.

Student Denise Trujillo said she's still worried.

"I don't feel like going to school tomorrow," she said.

While the five students who were near Duncan are staying home and being monitored, their schools will remain open.

See more on this developing story on CNN.com

Posted by ,
Filed under: Ebola
Hong Kong unrest
October 1st, 2014
05:13 AM ET

Hong Kong Protests Swell on China's National Day

Hong Kongers marked China's National Day in unprecedented fashion Wednesday, as huge crowds of pro-democracy protesters thronged the streets of the Asian financial hub for what is shaping up as a critical day in the territory's "Umbrella Revolution."

Huge crowds are anticipated to take to the streets throughout the annual public holiday marking the anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. Since 1997, when the sovereignty of Hong Kong was handed back to China, the holiday has been marked by a massive fireworks display, which was canceled this year due to the political unrest.

As crowds built in downtown Hong Kong, with fresh faces joining those who had braved heavy storms to remain on the streets overnight, there appeared no indication that the protesters' determination was waning.

According to a CNN team on the ground, crowds at the main protest site in Hong Kong's financial district yesterday afternoon appeared significantly larger than at the same time Tuesday.

Nor was there any sign that the government, which considers the demonstrations illegal, is prepared to budge.

Some protesters were joining the protests for the first time. Nic Lam, a 35-year-old IT worker, said his job and family had kept him away previously, but the public holiday had allowed him to attend and express his "long-term dissatisfaction" with the Hong Kong government.

Many families were in attendance at the main protest site, which had taken on a festive atmosphere, including band performances.

See more on this developing story on CNN.com

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Filed under: Hong Kong
September 30th, 2014
05:18 AM ET

New ISIS Hostage Video Released

British photojournalist John Cantlie reads a statement in a new ISIS hostage video that mocks airstrikes.

CNN's Atika Shubert reports.

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Filed under: airstrikes • ISIS
September 29th, 2014
05:53 AM ET

President Obama: We Misjudged ISIS

A week after U.S.-led airstrikes in Syria began, lawmakers continued to question President Barack Obama's strategy for defeating the militant group ISIS, which he admitted in a televised interview Sunday was more powerful than the U.S. initially believed.

Echoing sentiments also expressed by James Clapper, the head of U.S. intelligence services, Obama said the government "underestimated what had been taking place in Syria" during its civil war, allowing Syria to become "ground zero for jihadists around the world."

Speaking in a taped interview with CBS' "60 Minutes," Obama said the terrorists were remnants of al Qaeda in Iraq, which after being diminished by U.S. forces "went back underground."

"Over the past couple of years, during the chaos of the Syrian civil war, where essentially you have huge swaths of the country that are completely ungoverned, they were able to reconstitute themselves and take advantage of that chaos," Obama said, adding later the U.S. also overrated Iraq's security forces, which were quickly overrun by ISIS when it took over the northern city of Mosul this summer.

The President stressed that the issue in Iraq is not simply a military problem; it's a political one.

"This is America leading the international community to assist a country with whom we have a security partnership with, to make sure that they are able to take care of their business," he told "60 Minutes."

The President added: "If we do our job right and the Iraqis fight, then over time our role can slow down and taper off."

See the latest on this developing story on CNN.com

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Filed under: ISIS • President Obama
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