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Archive for July, 2014

FILE - This March 11, 2014 file photo shows CIA Director John O. Brennan speaking in Washington. The CIA's insistence that it did not spy on its Senate overseers collapsed July 31 with the release of a stark report by the agency's internal watchdog documenting improper computer surveillance and obstructionist behavior by CIA officers. Those internal conclusions prompted Brennan to abandon months of defiance and defense of the agency and apologize to Senate intelligence committee leaders. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

FILE – This March 11, 2014 file photo shows CIA Director John O. Brennan speaking in Washington. The CIA’s insistence that it did not spy on its Senate overseers collapsed July 31 with the release of a stark report by the agency’s internal watchdog documenting improper computer surveillance and obstructionist behavior by CIA officers. Those internal conclusions prompted Brennan to abandon months of defiance and defense of the agency and apologize to Senate intelligence committee leaders. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

(Washington) (AP) – The CIA’s insistence that it did not spy on its Senate overseers collapsed Thursday with the release of a stark report by the agency’s internal watchdog documenting improper computer surveillance and obstructionist behavior by CIA officers.

Five agency employees – two lawyers and three computer specialists- improperly accessed Senate intelligence committee computers earlier this year in a dispute over interrogation documents, according to a summary of a CIA inspector general report describing the results of an internal investigation. Then, despite CIA Director John Brennan ordering a halt to that operation, the CIA’s office of security began an unauthorized investigation that led it to review the emails of Senate staffers and search them for key words.

After Senate leaders learned about the intrusion in January and objected, the CIA made a criminal referral to the Justice Department, alleging improper behavior by Senate staffers when they took the internal CIA review documents. That referral, CIA watchdog David Buckley found, was based on inaccurate information and was not justified.

Brennan also asked his agency’s inspector general to examine whether the CIA committed wrongdoing. When internal investigators interviewed the three CIA computer specialists who helped access the Senate machines, they exhibited “a lack of candor,” the IG report said, suggesting an attempt to cover up their actions.

Those internal conclusions prompted CIA Director Brennan to abandon months of defiance and defense of the agency and apologize to Senate Intelligence Committee leaders.

“The director said that wherever the investigation led, he would accept the findings and own up to them,” said his spokesman, Dean Boyd.

Brennan has convened an internal accountability board chaired by former Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., to examine whether any CIA officers should be disciplined. Furious Democrats demanded further investigation and a public accounting from Brennan. Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., called for the director’s resignation, citing “a tremendous failure of leadership.”

At issue is a search by agency officers for information gathered in the course of a Senate investigation into the CIA’s interrogation techniques. The search involved a penetration of the Senate portion of a shared, classified computer network at a Northern Virginia facility that was being used to provide Senate aides access to millions of CIA documents.

The fruits of the Senate’s yearslong inquiry – an unclassified summary of a lengthy and classified report on post 9/11 detentions and interrogations that accuses the CIA of misconduct – is expected to be made public soon. It is expected to renew criticism contending that the U.S. engaged in torture as it questioned terrorism suspects after the 2001 attacks.

Thursday’s CIA revelations came a day after The Associated Press reported on talking points generated by the State Department that embrace the report’s conclusions that the interrogations were a dark chapter in American history.

As for the CIA’s actions in regard to the Senate committee, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the California Democrat who chairs the panel, said in a statement: “The investigation confirmed what I said on the Senate floor in March – CIA personnel inappropriately searched Senate intelligence committee computers in violation of an agreement we had reached, and I believe in violation of the constitutional separation of powers.”

Said Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., a committee member: “What’s needed now is a public apology from Director Brennan to staff and the committee, a full accounting of how this occurred and a commitment there will be no further attempts to undermine congressional oversight of CIA activities.”

The CIA conducted its search after it began to suspect that Senate aides had obtained a draft internal review that the CIA believed the Senate was not entitled to see. The review included comments from CIA officers describing misgivings about the treatment of al-Qaida detainees.

As it turned out, the Senate staffers got the review thanks to a glitch in the CIA’s firewall, several officials said.

The findings of the investigation by the CIA’s inspector general were shared with the Justice Department, which has so far declined to pursue criminal charges, officials said.

The inspector general concluded “that some CIA employees acted in a manner inconsistent with the common understanding” about the shared computer network, Boyd said.

The CIA is generally forbidden from conducting operations on U.S. soil. One reason no criminal charges have been filed, said a Senate aide who was not authorized to be quoted, is that the Senate computers were on a CIA network subject to agency monitoring. But the CIA violated its agreement not to scrutinize the Senate side of the network.

A one-page summary of the inspector general’s report, released by the CIA Thursday, does not say who ordered the search of Senate computers or who conducted it. It says that after an initial search, Brennan ordered the review to stop, but the CIA’s office of security, unaware of his order, began searching Senate emails anyway. The Senate staff used the system to communicate about their investigation into what some call torture by CIA officers.

Part of the CIA’s computer surveillance, officials on both sides said, involved creating a fake Senate account to review what documents Senate staffers had access to.

On Tuesday, Brennan informed Feinstein and Sen. Saxby Chambliss, the senior Republican on the committee, “and apologized to them for such actions by CIA officers as described in the (inspector general’s) report,” Boyd said.

Until this week, the CIA director had dismissed the notion that the CIA had done anything wrong.

After Feinstein complained in March about the CIA’s penetration of committee computers, Brennan said, “When the facts come out on this, I think a lot of people who are claiming that there has been this tremendous sort of spying and monitoring and hacking will be proved wrong.” He added, “We wouldn’t do that.”

By all accounts, the spying flap and the larger dispute over decade-old CIA practices have poisoned relations between Senate Democrats and the CIA.

At the White House, spokesman Josh Earnest defended Brennan, pointing out that the CIA director “is the one who suggested that the inspector general investigate in the first place,” and saying Brennan continued to have the president’s confidence.

As for the talking-points document obtained by the AP, U.S. officials said Thursday they were unable to discuss it because the underlying Senate report that it discussed was still classified. But they did not explain how the talking points, which were explicitly marked “unclassified,” could describe in such detail some parts of the still-classified report.

Under the government’s “derivative classification” rules, information from a classified document remains classified whenever it is extracted, paraphrased or restated in a new form.

Social Commentator Alfred Sirleaf,  gives comment on current events in Liberia including the deadly Ebola virus by speaking and writhing them down on a blackboard in Monrovia, Liberia, Thursday, July 31, 2014. The worst recorded Ebola outbreak in history surpassed 700 deaths in West Africa as the World Health Organization on Thursday announced dozens of new fatalities. (AP Photo/Jonathan Paye-Layleh)

Social Commentator Alfred Sirleaf, gives comment on current events in Liberia including the deadly Ebola virus by speaking and writhing them down on a blackboard in Monrovia, Liberia, Thursday, July 31, 2014. The worst recorded Ebola outbreak in history surpassed 700 deaths in West Africa as the World Health Organization on Thursday announced dozens of new fatalities. (AP Photo/Jonathan Paye-Layleh)

(Sierra Leone) (AP) – The death toll from the worst recorded Ebola outbreak in history surpassed 700 in West Africa as security forces went house-to-house in Sierra Leone’s capital Thursday looking for patients and others exposed to the disease.

Fears grew as the United States warned against travel to the three infected countries – Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia – and Sierra Leone’s soccer team was blocked from boarding a plane in Nairobi, Kenya, that was to take them to the Seychelles for a game on Saturday. Airport authorities in Kenya said Seychelles immigration told them to prevent the team from traveling.

Almost half of the 57 new deaths reported by the World Health Organization occurred in Liberia, where two Americans, Dr. Kent Brantly of Texas and Nancy Writebol, a North Carolina-based missionary, are also sick with Ebola.

At the White House, press secretary Josh Earnest said the U.S. is looking into options to bring them back to the U.S. Officials at Atlanta’s Emory University Hospital said they expected one of the Americans to be transferred there “within the next several days.” The hospital declined to identify which aid worker, citing privacy laws.

Writebol is in stable but serious condition and is receiving an experimental treatment that doctors hope will better address her condition, according to a statement released by SIM, a Christian missions organization. Her husband, David, is close by but can only visit his wife through a window or dressed in a haz-mat suit, the statement said.

“There was only enough (of the experimental serum) for one person. Dr. Brantly asked that it be given to Nancy Writebol,” said Franklin Graham, president of Samaritan’s Purse, another aid organization that has been working in Liberia during the Ebola crisis.

Brantly, who works for the aid group, did receive a unit of blood from a 14-year-old boy who had survived Ebola because of the doctor’s care, Graham said in a statement.

“The young boy and his family wanted to be able to help the doctor who saved his life,” he said.

Giving a survivor’s blood to a patient might be aimed at seeing whether any antibodies the survivor made to the virus could help someone else fight off the infection. This approach has been tried in previous Ebola outbreaks with mixed results.

No further details were provided on the experimental treatment. There is currently no licensed drug or vaccine for Ebola, and patients can only be given supportive care to keep them hydrated. There are a handful of experimental drug and vaccine candidates for Ebola and while some have had promising results in animals including monkeys, none has been rigorously tested in humans.

The disease has continued to spread through bodily fluids as sick people remain out in the community and cared for by relatives without protective gear. People have become ill from touching sick family members and in some cases from soiled linens.

In Sierra Leone, which borders Liberia to the northwest, authorities are vowing to quarantine all those at home who have refused to go to isolation centers. Many families have kept relatives at home to pray for their survival instead of bringing them to clinics that have had a 60 percent fatality rate. Those in the throngs of death can bleed from their eyes, mouth and ears.

Rosa Crestani, Ebola emergency coordinator for Doctors Without Borders, also known as Medecins Sans Frontieres, said it is “crucial” at this point to gain the trust of communities that have been afraid to let health workers in and to deploy more medical staff.

“The declaration of a state of emergency in Sierra Leone shows a recognition of the gravity of the situation, but we do not yet know what this will mean on the ground. What we can say is that it will be difficult to implement due to the fact that the cases are dispersed over such a large area, and that we currently do not have a clear picture of where all the hotspots are,” she said.

Liberia’s president on Wednesday also instituted new measures aimed at halting the spread of Ebola, including shutting down schools and ordering most public servants to stay home from work.

“It could be helpful for the government to have powers to isolate and quarantine people and it’s certainly better than what’s been done so far,” said Dr. Heinz Feldmann, chief of virology at U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “Whether it works, we will have to wait and see.”

Dr. Unni Krishnan, head of disaster preparedness and response for the aid group Plan International, said closing schools could help as they bring large numbers of children together, which can amplify infection rates.

“Door-to-door searches are not going to be easy,” he said. “What will help is encouraging people to come forward when they see symptoms and seek medical help.”

The U.S. Peace Corps also was evacuating hundreds of its volunteers in the affected countries. Two Peace Corps workers are under isolation outside the U.S. after having contact with a person who later died from the Ebola virus, a State Department official said.

In Moberly, Missouri, Liz Sosniecki said she got a call from her 25-year-old son, Dane, a Peace Corps volunteer in Liberia. He had not been exposed to Ebola and expressed disappointment about leaving just six weeks after he arrived.

“He said, `I’m coming home.’ Sorry,” she said, beginning to cry. “I’m a little emotional. It’s a relief.”

The last time the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued such a travel warning during a disease outbreak was in 2003 because of SARS in Asia.

Ebola now has been blamed for 729 deaths in four West African countries this year: 339 in Guinea, 233 in Sierra Leone, 156 in Liberia and one in Nigeria.

The World Health Organization is launching a $100 million response plan calling for the deployment of several hundred additional health workers to help the strained resources in deeply impoverished West Africa, where hospital and clinics are ill-equipped to cope with routine health threats let alone the outbreak of a virulent disease like Ebola.

Among the deaths announced this week was that of the chief doctor treating Ebola in Sierra Leone, who was buried Thursday. The government said Dr. Sheik Humarr Khan’s death was “an irreparable loss of this son of the soil.” The 39-year-old was a leading doctor on hemorrhagic fevers in a nation with very few medical resources.

The Ebola cases first emerged in Guinea back in March, and later spread across the borders to Liberia and Sierra Leone. Outbreaks of the virus in previous years had occurred in other parts of Africa.

The current outbreak is now the largest recorded in world history, and has infected three African capitals with international airports. Officials are trying to step up screening of passengers, though an American man was able to fly from Liberia to Nigeria, where authorities say he died days later from Ebola.

Experts say the risk of travelers contracting it is considered low because it requires direct contact with bodily fluids or secretions such as urine, blood, sweat or saliva. Ebola can’t be spread like flu through casual contact or breathing in the same air.

Patients are contagious only once the disease has progressed to the point they show symptoms, according to the World Health Organization. The most vulnerable are health care workers and relatives who come in much closer contact with the sick.

In Liberia, authorities say 28 out of the 45 health workers who have contracted the disease so far have died.

(New York) (AP) – For stock investors, the red flags were everywhere on Thursday.

There were weak corporate results, the looming end of stimulus from the Federal Reserve and tensions between the West and Russia. On top of that, some investors feared that stocks have become too pricey after three years without a significant downturn.

The confluence of worries sent the Dow Jones industrial average tumbling more than 300 points, its worst one-day drop since February. The plunge snapped a string of five straight monthly gains, and pushed the blue-chip index to a slight loss for the year.

But it wasn’t just stocks that suffered. Oil fell to its lowest level since March, gold dropped and even Treasurys edged lower.

The stock market fell in early trading after a dose of bad earnings news, and the losses accelerated throughout the day. Whole Foods Market and Exxon Mobil sparked the selling after their quarterly results late Wednesday disappointed investors. Yum Brands, the owner of KFC and Pizza Hut, slumped after it said that its earnings would be crimped by a food safety scandal in China that involved repacked meat.

Also driving the downturn were concerns that the Fed could raise short-term interests faster than expected because of a rebound in U.S. growth during the spring.

The stock market has climbed nearly 200 percent since March 2009, with the most recent leg of that surge pushing the Standard & Poor’s 500 index to an all-time high a week ago. The S&P 500 hasn’t suffered a sell-off severe enough to qualify as a correction, Wall Street parlance for a fall of 10 percent or more from a peak, since October 2011.

“We’ve been on a strong run,” said Jerry Braakman, chief investment officer at First American Trust. “There’s just more concern that stock valuations are rich compared to historical norms.”

The S&P 500 dropped 39.40 points, or 2 percent, to 1,930.67, its biggest loss since April 10. The drop pushed the index to its first monthly loss since January.

The Dow Jones industrial average plunged 317.06 points, or 1.9 percent, to 16,563.30. The drop was the biggest since Feb. 3 and the index is now 13.36 points lower for the year. The Nasdaq composite fell 93.13 points, or 2.1 percent, to 4,369.77.

Exxon Mobil stock fell $4.31, or 4.2 percent, to $98.94 after the energy company said that oil and gas production slipped 6 percent in the second quarter, disappointing analysts. The decline was driven by the expiration of rights to a field in Abu Dhabi and natural field declines. Whole Foods Market fell 88 cents, or 2.3 percent, to $38.23 after reporting quarterly sales that fell shy of expectations. The upscale grocer also lowered its sales forecast for the year.

Stock market valuations have climbed steadily for almost three years. Investors have become more optimistic about the outlook for earnings as economic growth has improved. The price-earnings ratio for S&P 500 stocks rose as high 15.9 earlier this month from 10.5 in September 2011.

Investors are also concerned about a range of geopolitical issues that could ultimately harm global growth.

In Europe, tensions are escalating between the European Union and Russia after the downing of a passenger plane over Ukraine. The European Union on Thursday revealed the details of broad economic sanctions against Russia. Argentina’s debt default Wednesday was also added to investors’ list of concerns.

Paul Zemsky, chief investment officer of Multi-Asset Strategies and Solutions at Voya Investment Management, said the main driver behind Thursday’s sell-off was a reassessment of the outlook for interest rates in the U.S.

The Fed has kept short-term interest rate at close to zero for more than five years, and bought bonds to hold down long-term interest rates. The goal is to encourage borrowing and spending.

Policy makers are now becoming more optimistic about the outlook for the U.S. economy after growth expanded by a better-than-expected 4 percent in the second quarter. Although the Fed hasn’t said when it will start raising rates, investors may be starting to assume that the timing will happen sooner, if the economy continues to improve and inflation picks up.

Friday’s monthly jobs report is the next piece of data that investors will examine for a sense of where the economy and rates could be headed.

“We’re closer to the first move higher in interest rates,” Zemsky said. “And there’s definitely a camp that believes that the only reason that we’re at these levels is because the Fed has kept the rates at zero.”

Despite Thursday’s weak corporate results, investors should remember that the overall outlook for profits is strong, said Zemsky.

Earnings are still at record levels, and expected to grow by 9 percent in the second quarter, according to data from S&P Capital IQ. That compares to growth of 4.9 percent in the same period a year earlier and 3.4 percent growth in the first three months of this year.

In other markets, gold fell $13.60, or 1.1 percent, to $1,281.30 an ounce. Silver slipped 19 cents, or 0.9 percent, to $20.41 an ounce.

Benchmark U.S. crude fell $2.10 to close at $98.17 a barrel in New York, its lowest level since March 17. Oil’s high for the year was $107.26, on June 20; its low was $91.66, set on January 9.

Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils used by many U.S. refineries, fell 49 cents Thursday to close at $106.02 in London.

Prices for U.S. government bonds were little changed. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note edged up to 2.57 percent from 2.56 percent on Wednesday.

(Jefferson City) (AP) – Missouri’s chief banking regulator is stepping down from the job effective Friday.

Gov. Jay Nixon’s administration says Finance Commissioner Rich Weaver is retiring after a three-decade career that began by working in the division’s mail room in 1985.

The Finance Division regulates state-chartered banks, savings and loan institutions and mortgage brokers, among other things.

Weaver had spent five years as the division’s deputy commissioner before Nixon appointed him to the top spot in April 2009.

The current deputy commissioner, Debra Hardman, will serve as acting commissioner during the search for Weaver’s replacement.

(Jefferson City) (AP) – A Missouri proposal to create one of the most expansive early voting periods in the nation appears to have fallen short of reaching the November ballot, according to an Associated Press analysis of initiative petition signatures.

The AP review of signature counts conducted by Missouri’s local election authorities found that the proposed constitutional amendment on early voting lacks enough valid signatures of registered voters in all but two of the state’s eight congressional districts.

To qualify for the ballot, initiatives must get signatures equal 8 percent of the votes cast in the last gubernatorial election in at least six of the congressional districts.

Missouri currently allows absentee voting only in limited circumstances when people attest that they won’t be able to vote in person on Election Day. The initiative proposed a 42-day, no-excuse-needed early voting period that would have been one of the longest in the nation and also would have allowed votes to be cast on weekends.

If the early voting measure misses the ballot, it would mark a significant setback for Democratic-aligned groups that had spent about $700,000 on the initiative petition drive in hopes that the early voting period would win approval this year and be in place for the 2016 presidential and gubernatorial elections.

“That would be disappointing, because I think Missourians showed that they support the right and the ability for people to be able to participate in the democratic process,” said Richard von Glahn, an organizer for Missouri Jobs with Justice, which helped coordinate about 800 volunteer petition circulators.

The AP analysis shows that a separate proposed constitutional amendment did appear to get enough valid signatures. That measure would limit teacher tenure protections and require public schools to make personnel decisions based largely on student performance data.

Secretary of State Jason Kander has until next Tuesday to officially certify – or reject – initiatives to appear on the Nov. 4 ballot.

After the initiative petitions were submitted to Kander’s office in May, he sent them to local election officials to verify whether the signers are registered voters and whether their addresses and signatures on the petitions match those in the official voter files. The AP obtained copies from Kander’s office of the forms submitted by local election authorities detailing how many signatures were checked, how many were determined to be valid and the reasons others were rejected.

Those documents show that the early voting measure got well more than the needed signatures in Missouri’s two Democratic-leaning regions, the 1st District in St. Louis and the 5th District that extends eastward from Kansas City.

But the AP analysis shows that the initiative appears to be more than 1,300 signatures short in the 4th District, which includes Columbia and parts of west-central Missouri; more than 2,200 short in the 2nd District in suburban St. Louis; more than 2,600 short in southwest Missouri’s 7th District; and more than 5,800 short in northern Missouri’s 6th District. The petition drive did not aggressively target the state’s 3rd and 8th Congressional Districts.

The secretary of state’s office relies on local authorities to determine valid signatures. But the state office is now reviewing whether the petition pages were submitted by registered circulators. If not, Missouri law disqualifies any signatures on those pages.

That means the number of signatures deemed valid by local election authorities could decline further but is unlikely to rise when the secretary of state makes his official certification decision, said Kander spokesman Kevin Flannery.

Proponents of initiatives that don’t make the ballot can challenge the secretary of state’s decision in court, most commonly by contesting rejected signatures on a case-by-case basis.

If that happens, Republican political consultant Jeff Roe said he would try to intervene in the court battle to keep the early voting initiative off the ballot. Roe has set up a political committee opposing the measure.

Roe said the apparent signature shortage “is a stunning example of Democrat incompetence” in the initiative petition campaign.

Democrats and Republicans have been battling nationally over state early voting laws based on an assumption that more generous early voting periods benefit Democrats more than Republicans. New research suggests those partisan assumptions about early voting may not be true. Yet the perception is deeply grounded because of President Barack Obama’s pioneering use of early voting to drive a greater number of Democrats to the polls in his victories in 2008 and 2012.

(Provided)

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(West Plains) – The city of West Plains is saying goodbye to one of their own.

Civic Center Director Carl Johnson is retiring from the City of West Plains after 13 years of service. He has been Civic Center Director since 2001.

Johnson was honored with a retirement reception on July 30, where Mayor Jack Pahlmann, councilman Royce Fugate and members of the civic center board presented him a plaque.

The City of West Plains wishes Johnson well in his retirement.

(Jefferson City) – Rural hospitals and lawmakers in Missouri are at odds over the legislature’s decision not to expand Medicaid in Missouri, and both sides are urging people to get involved in the discussion.

Wes Murray, CEO of Texas County Memorial Hospital in Houston, told Ozark Radio News that their number of uncompensated care cases, which are written off as losses by the hospital due to the patient’s inability to pay, have recently skyrocketed:

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Murray says that this has been causing financial issues for Texas County Memorial Hospital this year:

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Kim Thompson, Chief Financial Officer with Ozarks Medical Center in West Plains, says that Medicaid expansion would help the working poor in their service area:

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Thompson added that when people don’t have insurance coverage, it raises the amount of time and care given when they finally check in to the hospital:

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She also shared how much of a bill is covered by Medicaid, adding that last year, Ozarks Medical Center wrote off some $26 million worth of care:

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Thompson also added that the state is missing out on funding that could have helped Missouri residents, but went elsewhere:

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LOCAL SENATOR SPEAKS OUT

Senator Mike Cunningham

Senator Mike Cunningham

33rd District Senator Mike Cunningham (R-Rogersville), whose district includes Texas County Memorial Hospital and Ozarks Medical Center, also spoke with Ozark Radio News, saying that he’s in favor of Medicaid expansion, but only if the system is reformed:

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Cunningham also explained why Medicaid expansion wasn’t considered this past year, and why prospects for this year don’t look great either:

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He added that a main problem is that emergency rooms across the state see cases where emergency help may not be needed:

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Cunningham hopes that in the future, the Missouri Hospital Association will work with the legislature in finding a common ground for Medicaid expansion:

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Wes Murray added his sentiments on the Missouri Legislature’s inability to act:

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Both Murray and Thompson urge citizens to contact their local legislators and voice their opinion on Medicaid expansion.

(West Plains) – The Howell County Health Department has partnered with the Missouri Bureau of Immunization Assessment and Assurance to offer a rare opportunity for area residents to receive, at no charge, Tdap (Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis), Meningococcal (MVC4) and Gardasil HPV vaccines.

The vaccination clinic has been scheduled for August 11, from 9AM-6PM at the Howell County Health Department, 180 Kentucky in West Plains. The clinic is offered to any and all area children ages 11 to 18 and all area college students’ ages 19 through 26 years of age, and is free of charge to all those who participate. Donations will be accepted to offset costs for holding the clinic.

Agency Administrator, Chris Gilliam, stated that the participant ages identified for the free clinic are based on the age recommendations of the vaccines being provided.

If you would like to inquire further about the upcoming clinic please call the Howell County Health Department at 417-256-7078.

DISEASES

Tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis can be very serious diseases, even for adolescents and adults. The Tdap vaccine can protect individuals from these diseases. Tetanus (lockjaw) causes painful muscle tightening and stiffness, usually all over the body. It kills about 1 in 5 who are infected.

Diphtheria can cause a thick coating to form in the back of the throat. It can lead to breathing problems, paralysis, heart failure and death. Pertussis (whooping cough) causes severe coughing spells. It can also lead to weight loss, incontinence and rib fractures. Up to 2 in 100 adolescents and 5 in 100 adults with pertussis are hospitalized or have complications, which could include pneumonia or death. Tdap is especially important for anyone having close contact with a baby younger than 12 months. According to the CDC, pregnant women should get a dose of Tdap during every pregnancy to protect the newborn from pertussis.

Meningoccocus bacteria can pose significant risk to those who become infected, and can claim a child’s life in the matter of hours. Although infants, less than a year of age, are at the highest risk of getting the disease, adolescents and teens are the most likely to die from it. Meningococcal vaccine is recommended for all adolescents and teens. Meningococcal disease is a life-threatening illness. It is caused by a bacterium that infects the blood, brain, and spinal cord. It is one of the most serious causes of meningitis. The disease is easily spread from person to person. Even with proper treatment, 10% to 15% of people with meningococcal disease die. Of those who survive, as many as 20% suffer some serious complications. This can include brain damage and hearing loss, to name just a couple. The disease most often strikes older teens and young adults. Vaccinations are known to be the best way to prevent meningitis.

HPV is a common virus that is easily spread by skin-to-skin contact during sexual activity.  It is possible to have HPV without knowing it, so it is possible to unknowingly spread HPV to another person. HPV is the main cause of cervical cancer in women.  There are approximately 12,000 new cervical cancer cases each year in the U.S., accounting for approximately 4,000 deaths. Certain types of HPV also cause most cases of genital warts in men and women.

(Mountain Home) – A Baxter County Quorum Court member is pushing for new inmate uniforms.

Gary Tennison is planning on bringing the issue up at the quorum court’s August 5 meeting. Tennison says the black-and-white-striped uniforms with sandals are “dehumanizing” for inmates. The drafted ordinance states the change would “alleviate possible psychological damage to inmates” by putting them in new outfits, like green scrubs.

Sheriff John Montgomery, who instituted the outfit when he was elected 10 years ago, says that the inmates wear the noticable outfits for security purposes, adding that prisoners are treated humanely, but that the sheriff’s office isn’t “running a camp”.

(Little Rock) (AP) – Arkansas officials are asking a federal judge to reject an effort to strike down the state’s gay marriage ban, arguing the prohibition is constitutional and serves a legitimate state interest.

The attorney general’s office on Wednesday asked U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker to deny the motion for summary judgment filed by two same-sex couples challenging the ban. The couples earlier this month asked Baker to find a 2004 constitutional amendment and any related laws barring gay marriage unconstitutional. The couples sued the state over the ban last year.

The state argued the motion is premature since Baker has not ruled on a motion it filed asking her to dismiss the lawsuit.

The state Supreme Court is also considering whether to uphold a county judge’s ruling against the ban.