Maine Judge Rejects Ebola Quarantine for Nurse Kaci Hickox (Source nbcnews.com) A judge in Maine ruled Friday that Kaci Hickox, the nurse who treated Ebola patients and is defying a state-imposed quarantine, can come and go as she pleases, as long as she is monitored for symptoms and lets health officials know where she’s going. The same judge issued a temporary order on Thursday night ordering Hickox to stay at least three feet away from other people and to stay away from crowds and public transportation. But the judge, Charles C. LaVerdiere of state court, lifted those parts of the order on Friday. He found that authorities in Maine had not proved that further restricting Hickox’s movement was necessary to protect the public from infection. The judge said Hickox must submit to what health officials call direct active monitoring — having her temperature taken and being checked for symptoms at least once a day. But he stresses that she has no symptoms and is therefore not infectious. Hickox, who returned from West Africa a week ago, has maintained that authorities in Maine violated her rights by demanding that she stay at home for 21 days. She took a defiant bike ride on Thursday, and Gov. Paul LePage said she was testing his patience. The nurse spent last weekend in an isolation tent near the airport in Newark, New Jersey. She objected to the conditions and had a public spat with Gov. Chris Christie, who dared her to sue him. The judge in Maine gave her a gentle rebuke in his ruling. “The court is fully aware that people are acting out of fear and that this fear is not entirely rational,” he wrote. “However, whether that fear is rational or not, it is present and it is real. “Respondent’s actions at this point, as a health care professional, need to demonstrate her full understanding of human nature and the real fear that exist. She should guide herself accordingly.”
Muslims Pray in Rain After Israel Closes Al-Aqsa Mosque(Source nbcnews) Muslims prayed on a rainy street in the Old City Friday as Israeli authorities continued to restrict access to the Al Aqsa mosque following violence in east Jerusalem. Border police increased their presence in the cobblestone alleyways and around the Muslim access points or gates into the Al Aqsa compound, checking identification papers closely. Worshippers over the age of 50 were allowed inside, a day after the entire site was closed off in a security lockdown. “Yesterday it was painful for me not to pray in Al Aqsa,” said Nahil Salayme, 42, from east Jerusalem. “I go every day. They want to take this place from us. I will never let it happen, I will sacrifice everything, even my children. This is a red line for us.” Nabih Al Basty, 49, a businessman, said: “I prayed today in the street because the Israelis aren’t allowing us to go inside. We walked all the way from Wadi Joz, it’s a long way and it’s raining. My father is 70, he’s been going to the mosque every day since he was seven. Yesterday was the first day he missed going.” Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas described Thursday’s closure as “tantamount to a declaration of war” by Israel and called for a “day of rage” in Jerusalem in protest. However the rainfall – the first in Jerusalem for weeks – seemed likely to dampen any protests.
Ukraine, Russia, EU agree to natural gas supply deal (Source Reuters) Ukraine, Russia and the European Union signed a deal on Thursday that will see Moscow resume vital supplies of gas to its ex-Soviet neighbor over the winter in return for payments funded in part by Kiev’s Western creditors. After several failed rounds of talks in recent weeks as conflict rumbles on despite a ceasefire with pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine, the accord also eases concerns that a new “gas war” could disrupt winter supplies if energy to EU states, notably through pipelines shut down across Ukraine since June. With overnight temperatures already nudging below freezing in Ukraine, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso hailed an accord clinched in Brussels barely 24 hours before he and the rest of his team make way for a new EU executive. “There is now no reason for people in Europe to stay cold this winter,” he told a news conference after witnessing the signing of documents by the Russian and Ukrainian energy ministers and EU energy commissioner Guenther Oettinger. Worth $4.6 billion in total, the package calls for Ukraine to pay $3.1 billion in two tranches by the end of the year to cover debts for previous supplies from Russia’s Gazprom , and Kiev will have $1.5 billion, some from existing accords with the EU and IMF, to pay for about 4 billion cubic meters of new gas until March, for which Russia is insisting on cash up front.
Back to Cold War as Russia probes NATO defences (Source AFP) Nuclear-capable Russian bombers in European airspace, NATO intercepts, a foreign submarine in Swedish waters — the fall-out from the Ukraine crisis feels like a return to Cold War days. NATO has intercepted Russian aircraft on more than 100 occasions so far this year, three times more than all 2013, its new head Jens Stoltenberg said on Thursday. “We have seen a substantial increase but we are doing what we are supposed to do. We intercept, we are ready and we react,” Stoltenberg said, repeating that NATO must deal with Russia from a position of strength. Earlier this week, NATO tracked and intercepted four groups of Russian warplanes, including long-range TU-95 strategic bombers and sophisticated fighters “conducting significant military manoeuvres” over the Baltic Sea, North Sea/Atlantic Ocean and the Black Sea. “These sizeable Russian flights represent an unusual level of air activity,” NATO said. A few days earlier, a Russian Ilyushin IL-20 spy plane which took off from the Russian Baltic coast enclave of Kaliningrad briefly crossed into Estonian airspace, all part of a pattern of increased testing of NATO’s eastern flank. Viewed from Moscow, there is no cause for concern — Russia is simply asserting its position after long years of decline and NATO and the West had better get used to it. “Before, our aircraft did not fly. Now they do,” said Igor Korotchenko, a member of the Russian defence ministry’s advisory group. “This is nothing but a return to the military practices of a country which thinks about its defence and the readiness of its military,” Korotchenko told AFP.