state of emergency

California declares state of emergency over deadly hepatitis A outbreak

California Gov. Brown declared a state of emergency Friday because of a hepatitisA outbreak that has killed at least 18 people in the state.

The declaration allows state health officials to buy additional doses of the hepatitis A vaccine to try to halt the outbreak, which is already the nation’s second largest in more than two decades.

“We have the capacity to use as much vaccine as we can get our hands on,” said Dr. Gil Chavez, state epidemiologist with the California Department of Public Health.

The outbreak began in San Diego’s homeless community late last year, but has since spread outside the region. Los Angeles and Santa Cruz counties are also now experiencing outbreaks.

So far, 581 people in California have been sickened with the liver virus, more than half of whom have ended up in the hospital. The virus is particularly dangerous, and can be fatal, for people who already have other liver diseases, such as hepatitis B or C.

Federal health officials said last week that, even with the ongoing efforts to slow the spread of the disease, California’s outbreak could last years.

“Vaccinating people at risk of exposure is the most effective tool we have to prevent the spread of hepatitis A,” said California Department of Public Health Director Dr. Karen Smith.

The hepatitis A shot is already required for children, but now health officials are recommending it for people who are homeless and drug users.

“The general population does not have an increased risk of infection at this time,” Chavez said.

Hepatitis A is commonly transmitted through contaminated food. The only U.S. outbreak in the last 20 years bigger than California’s occurred in Pennsylvania in 2003, when more than 900 people were infected after eating contaminated green onions at a restaurant.

California’s outbreak, however, is spreading from person to person, mostly among the homeless community. Unsanitary conditions make the virus more likely to infect more people because it’s also transmitted through contact with feces.

State health officials said they had already distributed 81,000 doses of the vaccine this year and some counties had purchased their own additional vaccines separately. But Brown’s emergency declaration allows them to be able to buy more directly from manufacturers to up their supply, Chavez said.

Hepatitis A is particularly hard to control because people can spread the disease before they have symptoms and even know that they have the virus. The virus itself is also highly contagious and can survive in the environment for a long time once it’s introduced.

Hepatitis A in California

  • 490 cases in San Diego County
  • 71 cases in Santa Cruz County
  • 13 cases in Los Angeles County
  • 7 cases elsewhere in the state

State of Emergency Declared in Charlottesville After Protests Turn Violent

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — The governor of Virginia declared a state of emergency in Charlottesville on Saturday as a protest of a plan to remove a statue of a Confederate general turned violent, leaving several people injured and threatening to plunge the area into chaos.

Protesters clashed in the historic college town, home to the University of Virginia, as white nationalists — some waving Confederate flags, chanting Nazi-era slogans, wearing helmets and carrying shields — converged on the statue of Robert E. Lee in the city’s Emancipation Park and the surrounding streets. The protest was the apparent culmination of more than a year of debate and division over the fate of the statue.

Saturday’s rally was supposed to start at noon, but the scene at the park had grown chaotic by late morning, with white nationalists and neo-Nazis facing off with Black Lives Matter demonstrators and other counterprotesters. Inside the park, which was encircled with metal barricades and the police, hundreds of white nationalists gathered around the Lee statue, chanting phrases like “You will not replace us,” and “Jew will not replace us.”

Outside the park, a huge mass of counterprotesters grew, shouting phrases like “Nazi scum.” By 11:35 a.m., the police had retreated, the barricades had come down and fights had broken out. People were seen clubbing one another in the streets. Pepper spray filled the air as the police attempted to contain the situation.

By 11 a.m., when the city declared the state of emergency, several people had been injured, including a University of Virginia police officer. It was unclear if the injuries were serious. The governor, Terry McAuliffe, followed with his own declaration an hour later.

“The acts and rhetoric in #Charlottesville over past 24 hours are unacceptable & must stop,” Governor McAuliffe said on Twitter. “A right to speech is not a right to violence.”

Charlottesville has been bracing for what feels like an invasion of alt-right demonstrators, here for what they are calling a “Unite the Right” rally. On Friday night, hundreds of them, carrying lit torches, marched on the picturesque grounds of the university, founded in 1819 by Thomas Jefferson.

University officials said one person was arrested and charged Friday night with assault and disorderly conduct, and several others were injured. Among those hurt was a university police officer injured while making the arrest, the school said in a statement.

Theresa A. Sullivan, the president of the university, strongly condemned the Friday demonstration in a statement, calling it “disturbing and unacceptable.”

Egypt Declares State of Emergency, as Attacks Undercut Promise of Security

TANTA, Egypt — Rattling a country already wrestling with a faltering economy and deepening political malaise, two suicide bombings that killed 44 people at Coptic churches in Egypt on Palm Sunday raised the specter of increased sectarian bloodshed led by Islamic State militants.

The attacks constituted one of the deadliest days of violence against Christians in Egypt in decades and presented a challenge to the authority of the country’s leader, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who promptly declared a three-month state of emergency.

Security is the central promise of Mr. Sisi, a strongman leader who returned on Friday from a triumphant visit to the United States, where President Trump hailed him as a bulwark against Islamist violence. Mr. Trump made it clear that he was willing to overlook the record of mass detention, torture and extrajudicial killings during Mr. Sisi’s rule in favor of his ability to combat the Islamic State and defend minority Christians.

On Sunday, Mr. Sisi found himself back on the defensive, deploying troops to protect churches across the country weeks before a planned visit by Pope Francis. Mr. Sisi rushed to assure Christians, who have traditionally been among his most vocal supporters and now fear that he cannot protect them against extremists.

After the bombing inside St. George’s church in Tanta, about 50 miles north of Cairo. The explosion occurred after the authorities had sealed the main door to prevent attacks. CreditKhaled Elfiqi/European Pressphoto Agency

“I won’t say those who fell are Christian or Muslim,” Mr. Sisi said in a speech shown on state television on Sunday night. “I will say that they’re Egyptian.”

One attack on Sunday struck at St. Mark’s Cathedral, the seat of the Coptic Church in Alexandria, where the bomber blew himself up at the church gates as the Coptic patriarch, Pope Tawadros II, led a Palm Sunday service inside.

The other struck in the Nile Delta city of Tanta, where the attacker slipped past security to the front pews of the church and blew himself up, turning a religious celebration of joy into a ghastly scene of bloodshed and death.

The Islamic State, which claimed responsibility for the attacks through its Aamaq news agency, signaled in December its intention to step up attacks on Christians when a suicide bombing at a major Cairo church killed at least 28 people. In February, hundreds of Christians fled their homes in north Sinai after a concerted campaign of assassination and intimidation in the area.

Although Mr. Sisi had already stepped up security at churches, Sunday’s bloodshed underscores the difficulty of stopping suicide attacks. More starkly, it highlighted the failure of Egypt’s powerful intelligence agencies to anticipate a coordinated wave of devastating attacks.

The explosion in Tanta, about 50 miles north of Cairo, occurred at St. George’s church, where the authorities had already sealed the main door to prevent attacks. The bomber managed to slip past security measures, including a metal detector, at one of the side doors, and blew himself up near the altar. At least 27 people were killed and 78 others injured, officials said.

Children, their parents and deacons — lay Christians who help with the service — accounted for many of the dead.

Hours later, victims’ relatives stood silently outside the city morgue, waiting to identify and collect the remains of their loved ones. The Rev. Daniel Maher, a priest who had been leading the Mass, was still wearing his bloodstained white vestments. The priest said he had not been harmed in the attack, but he lost his son, Bishoy, who was to get married later this year.

“What can I say? Thank God,” he said in a cracking voice.

Next to the priest, a young woman sat on the sidewalk, sobbing as a group of women tried to comfort her. “God, what did he do to deserve this?” she asked, bemoaning the loss of her own loved one.

The second attack occurred just over two hours later in the coastal city of Alexandria, where a suicide bomber tried to enter St. Mark’s Cathedral.

Blood-covered pews inside St. George’s. The bomber slipped past security measures and blew himself up near the altar. CreditAgence France-Presse — Getty Images

Surveillance footage, later aired on a private Egyptian television channel, showed a man wearing a bulky jacket being directed into a metal detector at the church gates, where he paused to be searched by a police officer. A moment later, a giant blast rang out. At least 17 people were killed, including a district police chief and a police officer, and an additional 48 were wounded, according to the Health Ministry.

Pope Tawadros, who is due to meet with Pope Francis during his visit to Egypt at the end of this month, was not injured in the blast. He later issued a statement saying that “these acts will not harm the unity and cohesion of the people.”

Christians make up about 10 percent of Egypt’s 90 million people, who are mostly Sunni Muslim, and have long complained of discrimination and sporadic violence at the hands of extremists. Christian leaders were vocal supporters of Mr. Sisi after he came to power in 2013 when the military ousted the elected president, Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Many Christians see Mr. Sisi as their defender, but Sunday’s events underscored how difficult it is for him to deliver on that promise, and raised pressing questions about security arrangements for Pope Francis’ visit on April 28 and 29.

As forensics specialists combed through bloodstained wreckage at the site of the two church bombings, security officials found and defused explosive devices at other locations in Alexandria and Tanta, the state news media reported. Two devices were found at the Sidi Abdel Rahim Mosque in Tanta, home to one of the most famous Sufi Muslim shrines in the city, and another was found at the Collège St. Marc, an all-boys school in downtown Alexandria.

Hany Georgie Salamah, who was injured in the bombing at St. George’s, at a hospital in Tanta. The attacks constituted one of the deadliest days of violence against Christians in Egypt in decades.CreditNariman El-Mofty/Associated Press

Hours later, Mr. Sisi convened a meeting of the National Defense Council, which includes the prime minister and commanders of the Egyptian armed forces, in response to the bombings. He then declared a three-month state of emergency, though it was not immediately clear what extra powers he required, given that his government enjoys largely unfettered powers, has already imprisoned or exiled thousands of political opponents, and oversees a Parliament that is dominated by his supporters.

In his televised speech, Mr. Sisi indicated that news media coverage of attacks that embarrass his authority could be restricted. “The media discourse has to be responsible,” he said. “It’s not acceptable to have the incident aired repeatedly on television stations all day.”

Egyptians are used to such moves. The country was officially under a state of emergency for all of Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year rule, and again for three months in 2013.

When Pope Francis arrives in Egypt, he will find a country where the Islamic State is intent on driving a wedge between Islam and Christianity.

The pontiff offered his condolences to the Copts and all Egyptians, and in his statement from Rome he referred to the Coptic patriarch as his “brother.” Francis’ scheduled visit to Egypt has been billed as the latest step in a long-running effort to forge stronger ties between the Roman Catholic Church and Muslim leaders.

Mourners at St. George’s. Christians make up about 10 percent of Egypt’s 90 million people and have long complained of discrimination and sporadic violence at the hands of extremists. CreditMohamed Abd El Ghany/Reuters

Relations became strained in 2011 when Francis’s predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, denounced what he called “a strategy of violence that has Christians as a target” after a bombing at a church in Alexandria killed at least 23 people.

Francis has sought to rebuild ties with Muslim clerics since becoming pope in 2013. And last year he welcomed to the Vatican Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, the grand imam of Al Azhar, a 1,000-year-old mosque and university that is revered by Sunni Muslims

In Egypt, the pontiff is to visit with Mr. Sisi; the leadership of the Coptic Orthodox Church; and the grand imam.

The grand imam condemned Sunday’s attacks as a “despicable terrorist bombing that targeted the lives of innocents.”

For many Christians, though, the attacks at the start of the Holy Week before Easter are a harbinger of worse to come.

“I think people will not only be too scared to be inside a church, they will be too scared to pass by one now,” said Mina Mansy, a prominent Christian rights activist. “This will continue to happen because the state is not interested in protecting Christians, or anyone else for that matter. The police’s only job is to crush political opponents. They don’t care about the real terrorists.”

Turkey extends state of emergency by 90 days

ISTANBUL, Turkey — Turkey will maintain the state of emergency imposed in the wake of July’s failed coup for another three months starting from October 19, Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said Monday.

“The state of emergency will be extended for another 90 days starting October 19,” Kurtulmus told a news conference after a weekly cabinet meeting.
The government has launched a vast crackdown to hunt down suspects in the failed putsch, blamed by authorities on US-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen.

Gulen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since 1999, has denied he was involved in the coup bid.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan last week said it may be necessary to keep the state of emergency for at least a year.

Erdogan defended Turkey’s actions by pointing to how France has extended its emergency declaration since the Islamic State-claimed attacks on Paris in November.

The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) has accused the government of seeking to capitalize on the coup to stifle dissent, with the party leader, Kemal Kilicdaroglu lashing out at a “counter coup” targeting democracy.

Some 32,000 suspects had been remanded in custody so far for alleged links to Gulen, according to the justice ministry.

French president to ask parliament for 3-month state of emergency

French President Francois Hollande says he wants the state of emergency declared after the Paris attacks to last three months, parliamentary sources tell AFP, a move that would cover the upcoming UN climate conference.

“He told us he wanted the state of emergency to last three months,” one of the sources says.

Any extension to a state of emergency beyond 12 days requires parliamentary approval.

The 12-day UN conference, which will be attended by dozens of heads of state, begins on November 30.

Ferguson, Under State of Emergency, Falls Into an Uneasy Calm

FERGUSON, Mo. — With scores of police officers in the streets and a portion of the region under a state of emergency, an edgy calm prevailed in this St. Louis suburb early Tuesday, one night after bursts of gunfire led to fears of renewed unrest.

Although nightfall brought intermittent clashes between protesters and the police — the St. Louis County police said the authorities had made 23 arrests along West Florissant Avenue — there were few signs of widening turmoil that might draw a sterner response by local officials or Gov. Jay Nixon, who last year deployed the National Guard here.

“During the protest events, there were no shootings, shots fired, burglaries, lootings or property damages,” the St. Louis County police said in a statement early Tuesday, not long after many officers and state troopers left West Florissant Avenue, the street that has seen dozens of tense standoffs since a white police officer killed Michael Brown, a black teenager, on Aug. 9, 2014.

The police approach a man lying in a parking lot with what appear to be gunshot wounds after a barrage of gunshots erupted near the main protest area in Ferguson, Mo.Photos and Video Show Protests in Ferguson Turning ViolentAUG. 10, 2015
Earlier Monday night, bottles and rocks had occasionally flown through the humid summer air as hundreds of people gathered, but the police said they knew of no injuries to demonstrators or officers. Although law enforcement officials were reported to have sometimes used pepper spray to control the crowd, they said that no tear gas was used.

Demonstrators occasionally blocked the road, and officials often responded with threats of arrest.

“This is the St. Louis County Police Department,” one officer said through a loudspeaker as other officers, many wearing riot gear, formed a skirmish line. “Get out of the roadway.”

The calm, uneasy as it sometimes seemed, stood in sharp contrast with the Ferguson of roughly 24 hours earlier, when gunfire echoed through the streets and police detectives wounded an 18-year-old man they said had shot at them. St. Louis County prosecutors on Monday filed charges against the man, Tyrone Harris Jr. of St. Louis, and said he remained hospitalized in critical condition.

The authorities said they had recovered a 9-millimeter Sig Sauer next to Mr. Harris that was reported stolen last year.

But Mr. Harris’s grandmother said that his girlfriend, who was with him, told her that Mr. Harris had been running across West Florissant Avenue to escape gunfire. The grandmother, Gwen Drisdel, said that she did not know whether Mr. Harris had been armed. It would not have been unreasonable for him to carry a firearm given how violent the streets are, she said, but she added, “I don’t believe that he would disrespect police like that.”

The troubles of Sunday night prompted Steve Stenger, the St. Louis County executive, to declare a state of emergency and to place Jon Belmar, the county’s police chief, in control of police operations related to protests in Ferguson. Mr. Stenger stopped short of imposing a curfew, however, as the governor did last summer, and the relative calm of Monday night raised hopes that the city had averted another enduring crisis.
But the question that has followed Ferguson for about a year — and that is poised to shadow the city into Tuesday — is whether the calm will last. Even though the authorities mostly maintained order on Monday, an occasional feeling of lawlessness pulsed through Ferguson, where cars and motorcycles sometimes appeared to drag race just yards away from officers who did nothing to stop them.

There was also some concern about the presence of a national group, the Oath Keepers, which is sometimes described as a citizen militia and whose members walked West Florissant Avenue and openly carried rifles. Law enforcement officials have been wary of the group in the past, particularly after it took up positions in Ferguson during the unrest there in November.

“We’re just Americans trying to keep our fellow man safe,” said John, an Oath Keeper who did not provide his last name but said he was from Missouri.

Others said they were deeply skeptical.

“We don’t trust them,” said Leah Humphrey, a 24-year-old demonstrator from Indianapolis who stood nearby. “We don’t trust the white people with assault rifles. They didn’t bring one black person with them, and they walked up on us like they’re asserting their white privilege.”

She added, “They don’t care about the actual struggle, Mike Brown, the Black Lives Matter movement.”

Before dusk on Monday, protests around Ferguson led to scores of arrests, including more than 60 after a brief shutdown of Interstate 70. The United States attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri, Richard G. Callahan, also said that 57 people were arrested outside the federal courthouse in St. Louis.