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We cover a wide range of top­ics by all ages for all ages:

  • Eco issues, human rights and in-depth news (both local and global)
  • Sci­ence, his­tory, arts and poetry
  • Stor­ies, week­end live per­form­ances by Brighton musicians.

For more inform­a­tion, please see the About Us page.

Adam Hochschild and the truth about World War One‏

Adam Hoch­schild and the truth about World War One

As we approach Remem­brance Day Stop the War is co-hosting along with the No Glory in War cam­paign a day con­fer­ence on World War One and the hun­dred years of war that has fol­lowed.
Acclaimed US based author Adam Hoch­schild will be present­ing his audi­ovisual account of World War One, based on his best selling book ‘To End All Wars’. Adam is an award win­ning author of a string of books includ­ing ‘King Leopold’s Ghost and’ ‘Bury the Chains’.

                                      One Hun­dred Years of War

25 Octo­ber 12pm — 5pm
Bish­opsgate Insti­tute, London

Book online


11am — regis­tra­tion opens

12– 1pm :
Open­ing plen­ary: 1914 –1918, the winter of the world. Hor­ror and res­ist­ance
David Edgar, Priyam­vada Gopal, Neil Faulkner, Adam Hochschild

1 — 2.15pm:
A brief his­tory of World War One
Adam Hoch­schild

War and dis­ab­il­ity

Richard Reiser

2.45 — 3.45pm:
World War One, imper­i­al­ism and the colo­nial world
Priya Gopal, Boris Kagal­rit­sky and Explo Nani-Kofi

Selling to both sides, the arms trade and WW1
Mat­thew Burnett-Stuart

3.45pm — 5pm:
Clos­ing: oppos­ing war one hun­dred years on
Jeremy Corbyn, Boris Kagarl­it­sky, Lind­sey German

Our speak­ers: Adam Hoch­schild author and his­tor­ian, Cul­tural his­tor­ian Priyam­vada Gopal, writer and journ­al­ist Seu­mas Milne, his­tor­ian Neil Faulkner author of The real his­tory of World War One,Lind­sey Ger­man author of Women and War and con­venor of Stop the War Coali­tion, Mat­thew Burnett-Stuart Cam­paign Against Arms Trade Jeremy Corbyn MPplay­wright David Edgar,dis­ab­il­ity his­tory month organ­iser Richard Rieser.

The con­fer­ence will take place at the Bish­opsgate Insti­tute on Bisghopsgate near Liv­er­pool Street Sta­tion, London.

You can book your ticket online with Event­brite or by call­ing the box office on 020 7561 4830.
Friends of Stop the War are entitled to one free ticket and Stu­dent can get in for £8.

Full details of the con­fer­ence can be found on the Stop the War web site and you can also share the event with your Face­book con­tacts.

Wear a white poppy on Remem­brance Day

White PoppyEach year more and more people choose to wear the white poppy — as a respect­ful way to put peace at the heart of remem­ber­ing those who died in war. This year, 100 years on from 1914, is a fit­ting time to spread the white poppy as widely as pos­sible. Here’s what you can do:

  • Wear a white poppy your­self. It will prob­ably trig­ger con­ver­sa­tions with col­leagues and strangers — a power­ful way to get the mes­sage out there. Some may choose to wear both red and white poppies
  • Buy white pop­pies to share with others
  • Spread the word. Tell oth­ers how to find out more and buy white pop­pies for themselves.
  • Send us a Selfie of you with your white poppy for a gal­lery on the No Glory in War website
  • Buy your White Poppy at the One Hun­dred Years of War con­fer­ence this Sat­urday or buy online on the Stop the War web site.

Stop the War Coali­tion | | 020 7561 4830

Ebola: we can stop it‏

I’m Dr Louisa Bax­ter and I’ve just come back from Sierra Leone where the Ebola epi­demic is fast spiralling out of con­trol.The virus is killing up to 70% of those who catch it and the num­bers of people infec­ted is doub­ling every 20 days.Chil­dren and fam­il­ies there, and across West Africa, des­per­ately need the inter­na­tional com­munity to do more to defeat Ebola. And they need them to do it fast.

Will you join me in call­ing on world lead­ers to act?

Next month, lead­ers of the 20 most power­ful and richest coun­tries meet at the G20 Sum­mit in Australia.

It’s crit­ical they agree to make enough money, equip­ment and people avail­able to stop this killer virus.

Your voice will be join­ing with thou­sands of oth­ers across the globe as people from Sydney to San Fran­cisco, unite to demand action.

This is the largest Ebola out­break we’ve ever seen and there is only a mat­ter of weeks to con­tain it.

Please sign our peti­tion to the G20 lead­ers today.

We must stop Ebola. With your help we can.

My jour­ney back to Ebola ground zero

By Peter Piot Nearly 40 years after he was first dis­patched to invest­ig­ate a mys­ter­i­ous new virus, Peter Piot returns to a vil­lage – and a people – changed for ever by the advent of Ebola

Microbiologist and physician Peter Piot in Matonge, Kinshasa in February, at a clinic for sex workers that he co-founded©Michael Chris­topher Brown­Mi­cro­bi­o­lo­gist and phys­i­cian Peter Piot in Matonge, Kin­shasa in Feb­ru­ary, at a clinic for sex work­ers that he co-founded

Get on that plane now! You know, they are crazy here!” shouts the man­ager of Kin Avia, a rare charter air­line in the Demo­cratic Repub­lic of Congo with a decent safety track record. It is nearly 10am and for the past few hours we have been try­ing to get through all the form­al­it­ies required to travel from the dilap­id­ated domestic air­port of Ndolo in the heart of Kin­shasa to Bumba – in other words, to get through immig­ra­tion for a domestic flight. Bumba is the nearest air­port in north­west­ern Congo to our final des­tin­a­tion, Yam­buku, a vil­lage in Equateur province about 1,000km from the cap­ital. I am spend­ing two weeks in the coun­try to cel­eb­rate my 65th birth­day and to thank the people who played such an import­ant role in two defin­ing exper­i­ences of my life: invest­ig­at­ing the first known out­break of Ebola haem­or­rhagic fever in 1976 and uncov­er­ing a sig­ni­fic­ant het­ero­sexual epi­demic of HIV/Aids in 1983. I am here with an Amer­ican film crew mak­ing a doc­u­ment­ary on epi­dem­ics, along with my wife Heidi, an anthro­po­lo­gist, and my friends Jean-Jacques Muyembe, dir­ector of the DRC’s National Insti­tute for Bio­med­ical Research, Eugene Nzila, a pion­eer of Pro­jet Sida (Africa’s first big Aids research pro­ject, foun­ded in 1984) and Annie Rimoin, an epi­demi­olo­gist from UCLA.

When I was 27 and still in train­ing, I had one of the greatest oppor­tun­it­ies an aspir­ing micro­bi­o­lo­gist could dream of: the chance to dis­cover a new virus, invest­ig­ate its mode of trans­mis­sion and stop the out­break. It all star­ted when my labor­at­ory at the Insti­tute of Trop­ical Medi­cine in Ant­werp received a ther­mos from what was then called Zaïre. It con­tained the blood of a Flem­ish nun who had died of what was thought to be yel­low fever. From that sample, how­ever, our lab isol­ated a new virus, con­firmed by the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol in Atlanta and sub­sequently called Ebola, after a river about 100km north of Yam­buku, the centre of the epi­demic. It turned out to be one of the most deadly vir­uses known. In early Septem­ber 1976, Mabalo Lokela, the head­mas­ter of the local school, had died with a high fever, intract­able diarrhoea and bleed­ing. His death sent a shock­wave through the small mis­sion com­munity. Soon the hos­pital was full of patients with a sim­ilar ill­ness and nearly all died within a week.

This was the begin­ning of the first known out­break of Ebola, a virus that is believed to cir­cu­late in bats, which acci­dent­ally infects people through con­tact with blood or infec­ted droplets. There are four known sub­types affect­ing humans, includ­ing the “Zaïre” type, the most deadly strain, with more than 90 per cent mor­tal­ity. Trans­mis­sion between people is through con­tam­in­ated injec­tions, con­tact with blood and body flu­ids, sex, and it prob­ably passes from mother to child. Approx­im­ately one week after infec­tion, patients develop severe fever, diarrhoea and vomit­ing. They then start bleed­ing and are affected by “dis­sem­in­ated intravas­cu­lar coagu­la­tion”, whereby small blood clots develop in the body’s blood ves­sels, ulti­mately res­ult­ing in gen­er­al­ised organ fail­ure, shock and death one week after the onset of symp­toms. Close to 90 per cent of the 318 people dia­gnosed with the dis­ease would even­tu­ally die dur­ing the Yam­buku out­break. So would more than half of the hos­pital staff and 39 people from among the 60 fam­il­ies liv­ing at the mis­sion. The entire region was dev­ast­ated, with some vil­lages los­ing one in every 11 inhab­it­ants to Ebola.

Piot (second from left) on October 20 1976, the day of his arrival in Yambuku, together with fellow scientists and local health workersPiot (second from left) on Octo­ber 20 1976, the day of his arrival in Yam­buku, together with fel­low sci­ent­ists and local health workers

Get­ting on a mil­it­ary C130 to Bumba in 1976 for the three-hour flight over the world’s second-largest equat­orial forest was less com­plic­ated than catch­ing a pas­sen­ger flight in 2014, even though back then we had to load a Land Rover, med­ical equip­ment and bar­rels of fuel on to the cargo plane. We were a Zairean, an Amer­ican, a French­man and two Bel­gians in a plane – like one of those jokes. But the pilots were in a foul mood. They resen­ted hav­ing to fly to the epi­demic zone. Hadn’t fel­low pilots told them that birds were fall­ing from the sky over the forest around Yam­buku and that dead bod­ies were lin­ing the roads? When we landed, the plane came abruptly to a halt but the pilots never came out of the cabin. They didn’t even stop the engines. They wanted to take off again as soon as pos­sible and avoid any con­tact with loc­als. When I walked through the open load­ing dock at the back of the plane, I saw hun­dreds of people, star­ing at us in silence, fol­lowed by shouts of “Oyé! Oyé!” when we drove out the Land Rover. Ours was the first air­craft to break the quar­ant­ine that the whole region had been put under because of the epi­demic and expect­a­tions were high that we would stop the dis­ease, and bring food and medi­cines. As soon as the plane was unloaded, the pilots shouted “Bonne chance!” and off they went.…

Bumba, the nearest town to Yambuku©Heidi Lar­son­Bumba, the nearest town to Yambuku

This time there is a slight sense of déjà vu when we finally land on the red-earth air­strip of Bumba. The Con­golese pilot recog­nises me from his time in the Zairian air force in the 1970s. “Has Ebola star­ted again?” he asks anxiously. Only a few people are at the air­strip, apart from the unavoid­able immig­ra­tion and secur­ity officers. One man is wait­ing for us just as he was in 1976: Father Car­los Rom­mel, the Flem­ish Cath­olic par­ish priest of Notre Dame, who has been work­ing in the Congo for 51 years, mostly in Bumba. He had arranged all our logist­ics to per­fec­tion, just as he unflap­pably man­ages a hos­pital, a par­ish and four schools in a coun­try where noth­ing can be taken for gran­ted. Our con­voy of jeeps makes its way to the Bumba mis­sion, where we will stay for the next few days, just as we did nearly four dec­ades ago. Not much has changed – there is not a single paved road in this town of about 150,000 people and very few houses are made of brick or cement. This used to be a major port on the Congo River but years of war, loot­ing and cor­rup­tion have taken their toll. River boats are gradu­ally return­ing – the 1,000km jour­ney to Kin­shasa can take up to six weeks in the dry sea­son – always over­loaded with people, cars and goods. Des­pite being loc­ated on the mighty Congo, there is no run­ning water in Bumba. Girls and women fetch water from the river, except in the neigh­bour­hoods where Father Car­los has drilled wells. He seems to be the only real investor in infra­struc­ture and social ser­vices in the city, some­times using his own money. There is no elec­tri­city, besides what is pro­duced by a lonely and noisy gen­er­ator. The first thing I see when vis­it­ing the pub­lic hos­pital is a large black truck near the entrance with “Morgue” painted across it. Not encour­aging. Cattle graze between the pavil­ions. The hos­pital is largely empty as patients have to pay for everything and there are hardly any medi­cines, includ­ing anti‑HIV drugs and tests. For years, the state has not provided any support.

An aerial photograph of a typical settlement in the Yambuku area, taken on Piot’s first visit to the region©Peter PiotAn aer­ial pho­to­graph of a typ­ical set­tle­ment in the Yam­buku area, taken on Piot’s first visit to the region

Together with Muyembe and Rimoin, two of the world’s lead­ing experts on mon­keypox, I see a nine-year-old girl who has con­trac­ted the dis­ease from her brother. DRC has the world’s largest num­ber of cases of this dis­ease, which resembles the now erad­ic­ated small­pox, and is acquired from con­tact with vari­ous wild anim­als, not just mon­keys. It is another illus­tra­tion of how animal vir­uses can cause infec­tions and even epi­dem­ics in humans (both HIV and influ­enza come from anim­als). In con­trast to the pub­lic hos­pital, the mission-run Notre Dame hos­pital is clean and full of patients but even here there is a short­age of medi­cines. Muyembe and I have lengthy con­ver­sa­tions about the causes of this total neg­lect of people’s health and what we can do about it as aca­dem­ics. He repeatedly reminds us all of the motto of the Uni­ver­sity of Kin­shasa, where he had been dean of medi­cine, and which was also the slo­gan of the Cath­olic high school of Bumba: “No sci­ence without con­science”.… Look­ing across the court­yard from our bed­room at the mis­sion evokes one of the most dra­matic moments of my stay in 1976. Early one after­noon, an Allou­ette heli­copter (a gift from French pres­id­ent Valéry Gis­card d’Estaing to Zaïre’s pres­id­ent, Mobutu Sese Seko) arrived in Yam­buku to take me to meet some high-ranking US offi­cials in Bumba. As it was get­ting very dark, and I resen­ted that these men did not want to come to where the action was, I decided not to fly. It saved my life – the heli­copter crashed in the forest 15 minutes later and all three pas­sen­gers died, includ­ing a worker from the mis­sion who had taken my place in order to visit his fam­ily in Bumba. I always felt that poor man died for me.

Piot in Yambuku with nurse Sukato Mandzomba, who survived the initial Ebola outbreak©Heidi Lar­son­Piot in Yam­buku with nurse Sukato Mand­zomba, who sur­vived the ini­tial Ebola outbreak

Three days later I had to recover the bloated corpses after a hunter found them, two hours’ walk from the nearest vil­lage through almost impen­et­rable forest. As there were no coffins, I had to make them myself at the mis­sion work­shop back in Bumba, which was the only place that had wooden planks. For years I could not talk about it and even now see­ing a pile of planks at that work­shop is extremely emo­tional. Bumba, this morn­ing, offers many dis­trac­tions as well as memor­ies but I am impa­tient to see Yam­buku. Road R337 is a red soil track through the green foliage of the dense equat­orial forest. It is dry sea­son and dur­ing a four-and-a-half-hour drive of more than 100km, we see two trucks full of goods and people, four motor­cycles and many more people on or push­ing bicycles, loaded with rice, pea­nuts, dried fish and bush meat, manioc, palm oil and bana­nas. As we wend our way down the bumpy road from Bumba to Yam­buku, I’m firmly hold­ing on to a handle so as not to be ejec­ted from the front seat and my head is spin­ning with memor­ies of my first visit. The forest is a bit fur­ther away from the vil­lages now, with trees hav­ing been cut down for fuel over the years, and there are far more chil­dren than I remem­ber. There are also some new cement build­ings in sev­eral of the vil­lages we pass – often only one among the mud huts and King­dom Halls of Jehovah’s Wit­nesses. There used to be palm oil plant­a­tions here, owned by Uni­lever, but these have been aban­doned along with the paddy fields because of the wars and a deteri­or­a­tion in infra­struc­ture and trans­port. With them went the last jobs, and many people are now liv­ing in a state of aut­archy – flee­ing into the forest for weeks at a time when vari­ous armed groups have invaded the area.

Piot is reunited with Father Carlos Rommel, who has worked in the Congo for 51 years©Heidi Lar­son­Piot is reunited with Father Car­los Rom­mel, who has worked in the Congo for 51 years

As we get closer to Yam­buku the driver points to an over­grown area which was part of a vil­lage whose inhab­it­ants had fled dur­ing the Ebola epi­demic and never returned. Sud­denly, the forest opens up and the road meanders through neg­lected cof­fee plants and bam­boo before we finally see Yam­buku. We are wel­comed by sec­tor chief Chris­tophe Nzan­golo, two doc­tors and four Con­golese nuns, who have been wait­ing for us since noon on the ter­race of the mis­sion. Warm beer is served, form­al­it­ies are exchanged and we are dir­ec­ted to our rooms. They are in dire con­di­tion, as is the rest of the build­ing. The Cath­olic mis­sion in Yam­buku was foun­ded by the Order of Sch­eut in the 1930s with the sup­port of a colo­nial cot­ton com­pany in the then Bel­gian Congo. It was later joined by Sis­ters of the Sac­red Heart of Mary. For many years, the vil­lage was a flour­ish­ing centre for edu­ca­tion, health­care and agri­cul­ture, and in some ways was a picture-postcard loc­a­tion. But the 1976 Ebola epi­demic, com­bined with a sharp eco­nomic down­turn and serial wars, has led to a decline on all fronts. The mis­sion was looted first by Mobutu’s sol­diers and most recently by Bemba rebels, who were fight­ing the cur­rent gov­ern­ment of Joseph Kab­ila and stole the ambu­lance and side­band radio, the vil­la­gers’ only means of com­mu­nic­a­tion with the out­side world. (It took me a while to real­ise that the numer­ous small holes in the pil­lars of the convent’s ter­race were actu­ally bul­let holes.) Since the depar­ture of the Flem­ish nuns about 10 years ago, leav­ing some Con­golese sis­ters, there has been no money avail­able to replace or to main­tain the vast con­vent build­ings. The aus­tere guest house where we stayed was slowly implod­ing, chil­dren at the primary school were sit­ting and writ­ing on the dirt floor, and the hos­pital was without drugs and had only a few mat­tresses. The power­ful elec­tri­city gen­er­ator we had left behind in 1976 was intact but lacked some essen­tial parts, which together cost only a few hun­dred pounds. But the money was not there and, in any case, the sis­ters had no idea how to order the miss­ing parts.

The school room where Piot and his colleagues slept in 1976©Heidi Lar­sonThe school room where Piot and his col­leagues slept in 1976

The jungle had invaded the once flour­ish­ing cof­fee plant­a­tions, which used to employ a sig­ni­fic­ant part of the pop­u­la­tion. People now sur­vive on what the fer­tile land, veget­a­tion and wild­life can offer. In con­trast to Kin­shasa, there is no obesity in Yam­buku and, accord­ing to the local doc­tors and as far as we can see, not much ser­i­ous mal­nu­tri­tion either, in spite of a mono­ton­ous diet based on manioc, fried plantain and bana­nas, with occa­sional fish or bush meat. Des­pite all the dif­fi­culties and lack of reg­u­lar work, how­ever, it is inter­est­ing to note how impec­cably dressed the chil­dren and adults are. When we go for an early morn­ing walk to enjoy some cool air before the steam­ing heat envel­opes the vil­lage, we can see women sweep­ing the court­yards in front of their thatched-roofed mud huts, going to col­lect water and wash­ing their chil­dren. These are among the world’s bot­tom bil­lion, strug­gling to sur­vive with what nature has to offer. They have just enough, but no spare capa­city for an emer­gency.… When we arrived in Yam­buku on Octo­ber 20 1976, we went straight to the guest house, which sat between the nuns’ and fath­ers’ con­vents. Three European sis­ters and a priest were stand­ing out­side, with a cord between them and us. They had read that in case of an epi­demic it was neces­sary to estab­lish a cor­don sanitaire, which they had inter­preted lit­er­ally. A mes­sage hung from a tree, say­ing in the Lin­gala lan­guage that people should stay away as any­body com­ing any closer would die, and to leave mes­sages on a piece of paper. When the sis­ters shouted in French, “Don’t come any nearer! Stay out­side the bar­rier or you will die!” I imme­di­ately under­stood from their accent that they were from near my part of Flanders. I jumped over the bar­rier, say­ing in Dutch, “We are here to help you and to stop the epi­demic. You’ll be all right.” They broke down, hold­ing each other and cling­ing to my arms, cry­ing. We could see the ter­ror in their faces as they were con­vinced they too would soon die, just like four of their col­leagues and a priest who had all suc­cumbed to the Ebola virus in the course of a few weeks. Once we had all settled down, the sis­ters pre­pared a solid din­ner of Flem­ish beef stew and star­ted to tell the story of the epi­demic. They explained in great detail how their col­leagues had died, who the first vic­tims were at the mis­sion and then in other vil­lages, and that noth­ing seemed to work as treat­ment. One sis­ter had kept care­ful notes on each patient. They decided that we should sleep on the floor in the school classroom as we did not know whether the bed­rooms in the con­vent were con­tam­in­ated. But I didn’t sleep much that first night in Yam­buku, with a thou­sand ques­tions going through my head and the sounds of the rain­forest outside.

Bikes left as pledges in Yambuku’s pharmacy©Heidi Lar­son­Bikes left as pledges in Yambuku’s pharmacy

It quickly became clear that some­thing was wrong at the hos­pital. Epi­demi­olo­gical detect­ive work by our team con­firmed the sus­pi­cions: people were being infec­ted at the hos­pital through injec­tions made using con­tam­in­ated needles and syr­inges (only five syr­inges and needles were issued to the nurses each morn­ing), and hos­pital staff and attendees at funer­als were fall­ing vic­tim through expos­ure to body flu­ids infec­ted with the virus. In addi­tion there seemed to be trans­mis­sion from moth­ers to babies. Clos­ing the hos­pital (which, in any case, had been aban­doned by frightened patients) was the decis­ive action that stopped the Ebola epi­demic, and the last vic­tim died on Novem­ber 5. In simple terms, poor med­ical prac­tice had killed hun­dreds of people. The mis­sion­ar­ies were undoubtedly doing highly valu­able work in edu­ca­tion and com­munity devel­op­ment but man­aging a hos­pital (without a phys­i­cian, since they could not find one who would work in such a remote place) was bey­ond their expert­ise. On Decem­ber 16 1976, the quar­ant­ine was offi­cially lif­ted after four long months. The mil­it­ary trans­port plane that came to pick us up with our pre­cious samples, lab equip­ment and Land Rover was the first con­tact with the out­side world since we had arrived three months earlier. It was nearly stormed by people who wanted to leave the area.

The village graveyard©Heidi Lar­sonThe vil­lage graveyard

I had a heated argu­ment with the pilots, who were filling the plane with rat­tan fur­niture that belonged to Gen­eral Bumba, their big boss, and allow­ing other people who had bribed them on to the plane. There was hardly any space left for us and our goods. Noth­ing could be taken for gran­ted in Zaïre! I argued and swore and joked, and in the end we all got on the air­craft. I sud­denly real­ised I had become assert­ive. That was not the end of the story. The Buf­falo plane was over­loaded, as well as badly loaded, and the pilots took off straight into a for­mid­able trop­ical storm. We touched the top of some trees and before reach­ing cruis­ing alti­tude the plane dived for what felt like a few hun­dred metres. There were no seat belts and we were hit by heavy fly­ing boxes. Even­tu­ally we made it safely to Kin­shasa but my legs were trem­bling when we got out of the plane. For me, fly­ing had been more dan­ger­ous than caring for patients or hand­ling virus samples.… Dec­ades later, it is a great joy to see Sukato Mand­zomba slowly walk­ing towards me. “How are you?” he asks simply. “How is the fam­ily? My wife and I are so happy you came back.” He is smil­ing shyly and as if we had seen each other just a few days ago. Sukato is one of the few sur­viv­ors from the 1976 Ebola epi­demic. As a 24-year-old nurse, he was infec­ted while caring for dying patients with haem­or­rhagic fever but never developed the severe, fatal form of the infec­tion which causes massive bleed­ing and shock. Sukato was among the first people we saw on our arrival in Yam­buku in 1976, and after he had recovered from his ill­ness he volun­teered to look after patients and helped us with our clin­ical and epi­demi­olo­gical work.

Piot with Sukato Mandzomba in the latter’s makeshift laboratory in Yambuku©Heidi Lar­son­Piot with Sukato Mand­zomba in the latter’s make­shift labor­at­ory in Yambuku

He now runs the rudi­ment­ary hos­pital labor­at­ory, with a micro­scope and a hand cent­ri­fuge as his only equip­ment. Typ­ic­ally for Sukato, the labor­at­ory log­book has impec­cable records, and he shows me the char­ac­ter­istic bacilli in the spu­tum smears of numer­ous tuber­cu­losis patients. The hos­pital looks the same as I remem­ber it but with far fewer patients, even if there is now a com­pet­ent doc­tor. The main reas­ons for people stay­ing away are the lack of afford­able drugs (the gov­ern­ment has not sent any for more than two years) and extreme poverty pre­vents them from pay­ing the vari­ous fees that are charged in the absence of any health insur­ance scheme. Medi­cines are bought at the weekly mar­ket in nearby Yan­dongi and then sold at a profit to sub­sid­ise the hos­pital. In the tiny hos­pital phar­macy we see six bicycles, palm oil and a few bags of rice, left as secur­ity by patients who could not pay for their drugs. The Yam­buku “health zone” cov­ers 14,000 sq km and 260,000 inhab­it­ants but has no ambu­lance, no means of com­mu­nic­a­tion, hardly any medi­cines and just one fridge for vac­cines. The two doc­tors and the nurses are try­ing to find solu­tions without any sup­port from their gov­ern­ment or the inter­na­tional com­munity. Many would have given up but they are beacons of pro­fes­sional com­mit­ment and dig­nity amid abject poverty, the state hav­ing abdic­ated all responsibility.

Piot with Mandzomba on a return visit in 1986Piot with Mand­zomba on a return visit in 1986

Since that first visit, there have been more than 20 out­breaks of human Ebola haem­or­rhagic fever, all in Africa, except for a few laboratory-acquired cases. This year, and for the first time, Ebola virus caused a multi-country epi­demic in west Africa that ori­gin­ated in Guinea-Conakry. Humans are an acci­dental host, as a virus that kills its host in a couple of weeks could not sur­vive in nature. It is not clear how the virus reached this part of the con­tin­ent though its gen­ome has been found in a fruit-eating bat in Gabon. In gen­eral, Ebola is a dis­ease of close con­tact with wild­life, of poverty and par­tic­u­larly of dys­func­tional hos­pit­als, which can become deadly centres of viral spread through unsafe injec­tions and lack of basic hygiene. Health­care work­ers are usu­ally the first and most affected pop­u­la­tion. In prin­ciple it is very easy to con­tain an Ebola out­break: with gloves, hand-washing, safe injec­tion prac­tices, isol­a­tion of patients, safe and rapid dis­card­ing of the corpses of those killed by Ebola, and tra­cing of con­tacts and sub­sequent obser­va­tion for a few weeks. In real­ity, the health infra­struc­ture where Ebola strikes is usu­ally very poor and panic often leads to dis­sem­in­a­tion of the infec­tion, with people flee­ing affected areas, as is the case now in west Africa. As long as health ser­vices are inad­equate, there will be occa­sional out­breaks of Ebola in parts of Africa where the virus is hid­ing in some animal. In the­ory, there is no need to send in numer­ous out­side experts as con­trol meas­ures are very simple and inex­pens­ive and can be imple­men­ted by local pro­fes­sion­als and volun­teers. How­ever, the real­ity is that because of their high mor­tal­ity rate and con­ta­gious char­ac­ter, as well as today’s mobil­ity of people across bor­ders, out­breaks due to Ebola and other dan­ger­ous vir­uses must always be con­sidered as a global threat, amply jus­ti­fy­ing inter­na­tional sup­port and research. The cost of pub­lic panic and soci­etal dis­rup­tion can be enorm­ous, with health­care work­ers dis­pro­por­tion­ately affected – going far bey­ond the actual impact in terms of deaths due to Ebola.… My last visit to Yam­buku had been in 1986, 10 years after the first Ebola epi­demic. Along with col­leagues from the US Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol, we tested the blood samples we had col­lec­ted in 1976 for HIV anti­bod­ies and found that 0.8 per cent were infec­ted – five years before the first reports on Aids were pub­lished in the US. I had gone back to find out what had happened to the indi­vidu­als who were HIV pos­it­ive and also to explore whether that other virus in my life had spread fur­ther in the region. We found that three had died but also that two men and women had been liv­ing with HIV for at least a dec­ade and appeared fairly healthy. The level of HIV infec­tion in the pop­u­la­tion at large was still 0.8 per cent though it was as high as 11 per cent among pros­ti­tutes in the region. Around the same time, HIV pre­val­ence among adults in Kin­shasa was as high as 6 per cent (today HIV pre­val­ence in the cap­ital has declined to 3 per cent).

The four nuns killed in the initial oubreakThe four nuns killed in the ini­tial oubreak

Our research showed not only that people can live for at least 10 years with HIV but also that the virus had exis­ted at low levels for many years in cent­ral Africa. Together with later genetic stud­ies of HIV isol­ates from all over the world, and the dis­cov­ery that chim­pan­zees can be infec­ted with a virus very closely related to the human immun­ode­fi­ciency virus, these find­ings helped elu­cid­ate the ori­gins of HIV.… On our last day in Yam­buku, the film crew wants to inter­view me on the front porch of the con­vent. It is now bar­ri­caded for secur­ity reas­ons but when I was here dur­ing the out­break, this was my favour­ite place to work and reflect while I watched people strolling by. It is with mixed feel­ings that I have to leave this beau­ti­ful place and people. A dream I wrote about in my mem­oir has come true: I have come back to Yam­buku, to “Ebola ground zero”, a place and exper­i­ence which changed my life. But I am left with many unanswered ques­tions: how do people live, sur­vive and die here? And what are their aspir­a­tions for their chil­dren? It is upset­ting to see the deteri­or­a­tion in liv­ing con­di­tions and infra­struc­ture, redu­cing people to their most basic con­di­tion humaine.

The Ebola virus photographed in 1976The Ebola virus pho­to­graphed in 1976

As I sit next to Father Car­los on the return trip to Bumba, I ask what drives him. He says his real reli­gion is fight­ing poverty and injustice. Then sud­denly he turns to me and says: “You chal­lenged me in 1976: why did I not do more for the daily life of the people of Bumba, besides all the reli­gious activ­it­ies? That is when I decided to start a hos­pital. You really turned around my life.” It is stun­ning that I had had any influ­ence on a priest but it is also a pro­foundly happy moment. Two days later, back in Kin­shasa, we take our first real shower in a week before going to a con­cert by super­star Papa Wemba, together with more than 20 former col­leagues with whom I had worked on Aids in the 1980s and 1990s in Pro­jet Sida. As always, I find the rumba and soukous lib­er­at­ing. The vital­ity expressed in Con­golese music reflects the cre­ativ­ity and love for life of the Con­golese people. They deserve bet­ter than their daily struggle for sur­vival. New vir­uses will unavoid­ably con­tinue to emerge, par­tic­u­larly where people and anim­als live in prox­im­ity but war, greed and cor­rupt gov­ernance are man-made dis­asters, and they can be pre­ven­ted. Peter Piot is a micro­bi­o­lo­gist and phys­i­cian, and dir­ector of the Lon­don School of Hygiene & Trop­ical Medi­cine. His book, ‘No Time to Lose: A Life in Pur­suit of Deadly Vir­uses’, is pub­lished by Norton. To com­ment on this art­icle please post below, or email


The Italian Job — Buy this track to help cancer victim go to Italy; Interview Walk for Charlie Fundraiser Mary

Down­load and donate here 

LISTEN HERE to Mary Gib­son, a friend of 15yr old can­cer vic­tim Charlie Hilton, describe Charlie’s cour­age whilst under­go­ing treat­ment which has now ended and the cam­paign to raise £10,000 to ful­fill his greatest wish — to see the Colos­seum and the Lean­ing Tower of Pisa with his own eyes. Mary is inter­viewed by pupils from Brighton Col­lege who were vis­it­ing Radio Free Brighton on their com­munity involve­ment ses­sion of ‘Make a Dif­fer­ence Day’. The pupils also recor­ded a song to sell at their school as part of the fun­drais­ing campaign.

Please come and join us and make Charlie’s wish come true!

 Sat­urday 11th Octo­ber 2014

 Hove Lagoon—Brighton Pier

 Ideally £10.00 per Family

How­ever any dona­tion great or small will be much appreciated

 Please Arrive at 10:00am

 10:30am start Tak­ing part in the walk:

Pep­per Pig—George Pig—Darlek

 There will also be a raffle!

Charlie was dia­gnosed in August 2012, aged 13 years, with a rare and aggress­ive can­cer called a Desmo Plastic Small Round Cell Tumour. He has endured 2 years of treat­ment, with ter­rible side effects. The can­cer has returned for the third time and is now con­sidered ter­minal. Charlie wants to enjoy the remainder of his life and he has expressed a wish to see the ‘Lean­ing Tower of Pisa’ and ‘The Coli­seum in Rome’.  

For more inform­a­tion please con­tact Sylvia Whelan:

If you would like to donate to help Charlie’s wish come true, please donate to:



The LOOming Eco Crisis

Centre for Altern­at­ive Tech­no­logy media officer Kim Bryan explores the impacts of the loom band craze

Its a ques­tion that has been both­er­ing me for a while as I watch my son Neru glee­fully pro­duce another brace­let for his already covered arm. Surely these things must have an envir­on­mental impact. I stuck my head in the sand and got on with enjoy­ing my son’s abund­ant cre­ativ­ity. The thing is, I work at CAT and even­tu­ally the nig­gly voice took over; this is what I found out.

Every­where you go these days you see them – on trains and buses, at play parks, lib­rar­ies and schools: tiny col­our­ful elastic bands being trans­formed into a myriad of dif­fer­ent things. The loom band craze has taken of at a phe­nom­enal rate; kids every­where are get­ting cre­at­ive and mak­ing  jew­ellery with these easy to use and appeal­ing elastic bands.


Yet the envir­on­mental con­sequences of loom bands are becom­ing increas­ingly appar­ent. A surge in demand has led to the devel­op­ment of new plant­a­tions in East Asia, with act­iv­ists point­ing toair and water pol­lu­tion from the pro­duc­tion pro­cess. Animal wel­fare groups have soun­ded the alarm of the threat to animal and mar­ine life. In addi­tion, the loom bands are not recyclable.

Loom uses non-latex rub­ber, which means the bands are a syn­thetic product made largely from sil­ic­one. Syn­thetic mater­i­als require less land to pro­duce, but they aren’t renew­able, as nat­ural rub­ber is. Recyc­ling con­sult­ants WasteCon­nect said loom bands are a grow­ing problem;

They can’t be recycled and when a child does even­tu­ally get bored with them and the craze dies out, they will just be tak­ing up space. I really don’t know what can be done with them that would solve the grow­ing problem.”

In the Phil­ip­pines animal wel­fare organ­isa­tion PAWS has warned pet own­ers to keep their pets away from loom bands due to the risk of intest­inal obstruc­tion. In the US some veter­in­ari­ans have treated dogs and cats with severe vomit­ing or diarrhea caused by ingest­ing one or more loom bands. If the animal swal­lows sev­eral bands, an intest­inal block­age can form, a prob­lem that can become fatal without sur­gery. Cats, which have smal­ler digest­ive pas­sages, are par­tic­u­larly vul­ner­able. The bands are also dif­fi­cult to spot on an X-ray, mak­ing dia­gnosis a challenge.


Wild­life can exper­i­ence the same effects from elastic bands,  ducks are among the most vul­ner­able creatures, with the bands get­ting wrapped around their beaks or necks . The anim­als some­times ingest the bands, which can cause prob­lems as they pass through the digest­ive tract. Paul, dir­ector of con­ser­va­tion at the National Mar­ine Aquar­ium in Ply­mouth, said: “’Loom bands, like any plastic item, are cap­able of per­sist­ing in the envir­on­ment for many, many years and there is abund­ant evid­ence of small plastic items mak­ing their way into the diets of mar­ine anim­als and seabirds with tra­gic con­sequences. I’d be par­tic­u­larly wor­ried about loom bands being taken to the beach, due to the like­li­hood of them get­ting into the sea.”

In the US, an online peti­tion has been set up call­ing for a ban on the bands until they can be ‘pro­duced and recycled in an environmentally-sustainable way’. The peti­tion says:

Sur­ging demand for Rain­bow Looms has led to the devel­op­ment of new rub­ber plant­a­tions in East Asia. Not only does rub­ber pro­duc­tion task the regional envir­on­ment, but it also con­trib­utes to air and water pol­lu­tion. The syn­thetic mater­i­als used to pro­duce the looms are not renew­able or recyclable.”

The Centre for Altern­at­ive Tech­no­logy runs kids’ activ­it­ies through­out the sum­mer that make recycled green jew­ellery. There are some really easy to ideas on line that use nat­ural mater­i­als such as clay, stones, shells, yarn, etc. Friend­ships bands used to be a huge phe­nomenon and involve plait­ing col­oured pieces of thread together, res­ult­ing in a mini work of art that is bio­de­grad­able, easy to do and much more envir­on­ment­ally sus­tain­able.  Bet­ter get the yarn out then!


Media Depart­ment
Machynlleth, POW SY20 9AZ
United Kingdom



TTIP Films on line now from 6 billion ways

Thanks a lot to every­one who made it to TTIP: Cap­it­al­ism on Ster­oids at Rich Mix last week.All the films are now up our site - feel free to use or adapt them for your own events, or sug­gest oth­ers we’ve missed in the comments.

Next steps

We also prom­ised some next steps on TTIP organ­ising. Here are three for starters:
  1. Make sure you’ve signed and shared the European Cit­izens Ini­ti­at­ive on TTIP to help get it to 1 mil­lion sig­na­tures: Over 700,000 have signed so far.
  2. Get some cop­ies of the TTIP Times to give our in your area — email the World Devel­op­ment Move­mentWar on Want or Friends of the Earth for cop­ies or view online.
  3. Organ­ise a TTIP event loc­ally — you can sub­mit it to be lis­ted on the #noT­TIP web­site here:

Politics Show: Davy Jones discusses UKIP with Anthony Leaker of Brighton University


Davy Jones and Anthony Leaker of Brighton Uni­ver­sity dis­cuss the rise of UKIP and how to com­bat them.


International Recital of WW1 Poetry, 30th October, @ Friends Meeting House, S

Have you ever thought of the poetry written to reflect the stories of the other countries involved in 
World War 1?  Come and hear some exciting and rarely heard poets at Poetry Across the Lines,
a recital of international WW1 poems.

With the help of embassies from all over the world and international poetry societies a 
remarkable selection of poems has been brought together, which will be recited by local 
and international actors. 

Poems will be recited in the original language and translation bringing a whole new perspective 
to World War 1 poetry – poems which inspired the surrealists of the 1920's. 

The recital will also feature the lost voices of English WW1 poetry, including women poets 
and voices of conscience. There will also be some music performances from the period. 
It promises to be a unique and memorable evening.

Come and join us at the Meeting House Ship Street Brighton BN1 1AF 30 OCT 
8.00 - 10.00 Doors open 7.30 Free Entry
Media Contact for further information:
David Agnew Tel 01273 423512     
Attach PDF Poster + Press release

Greenpeace Petition: Stop Cameron’s New Fracking Law!

Ask your friends to sign the peti­tion to MPs here:

We already knew that frack­ing was a bad idea, but this is astonishing.

Last night, David Cameron’s plan to allow frack­ing firms to drill under our homes was rubber-stamped by the House of Lords.

But here’s where it gets even worse: At the very last moment, the draft of the law was updated to allow frack­ing firms to pump “any sub­stance” under people’s homes and prop­erty — and leave it there! [1]

This makes a mock­ery of the prime minister’s claim that UK frack­ing reg­u­la­tions are some of the most strin­gent in the world. And it absolves frack­ing firms of any respons­ib­il­ity for clear­ing up the mess they create.

Our MPs are now the last defence before the laws are approved by Par­lia­ment. As you’ve already signed the peti­tion ask­ing all MPs to strike down Cameron’s new frack­ing law, can you for­ward it to your friends and encour­age them to sign?

Ask your friends to sign by send­ing them this link:

The frack­ing industry has already been mired in acci­dents and mis­takes. In April 2009, cattle were dis­covered dead near a drill site in Louisi­ana. An invest­ig­a­tion later found frack­ing fluid had leaked from the well pad and run into an adja­cent pas­ture. And in July 2013, US frack­ing firm XTO Energy was forced to shell out $100,000 in com­pens­a­tion after a spill of con­tam­in­ated wastewa­ter in Pennsylvania. [2]

Des­pite claim­ing that the UK has tough reg­u­la­tions to pre­vent dis­asters like this, the gov­ern­ment is now rush­ing to remove obstacles, mud­dling through laws that will put the interests of shale drillers before the safety of our envir­on­ment and our climate.

We don’t have long before MPs will get their final say on Cameron’s plan to allow drilling under our homes. If we can show them how unpop­u­lar his idea is, they’ll think twice before vot­ing it through.


Celtique Ener­gie appeal at Wins­bor­ough Green, West Sus­sex — Friends of the Earth

React­ing to news that Celtique Ener­gie will now appeal the decision by West Sus­sex County Coun­cil to turn down their applic­a­tion to drill near Wis­bor­ough Green,

Friends of the Earth South East cam­paigner Brenda Pol­lack said:

This appeal will cast a dark shadow over the lives of local res­id­ents who have made it clear that they don’t want frack­ing to take place in their backyard.

There were clear and sound reas­ons to refuse this applic­a­tion, lss than 500 metres from the South Downs National Park — not least the impacts of extra traffic on a con­ser­va­tion area.

The Plan­ning Inspect­or­ate must uphold the council’s decision and reject Celtique Energie’s appeal.”


Sussex Defend The NHS: ‘Who’s Got Their Finger In The Healthcare Pie?’ Talk, 23rd October @ Brighthelm Centre 7pm

Sus­sex Defend The NHS: ‘Who’s Got Their Fin­ger In The Health­care Pie?’ Talk, 23rd Octo­ber @ Brighthelm Centre 7pm

From MPs and min­is­ters’ advisers to con­tract­ing con­sult­ants and GPs, try out our quiz ques­tions and help turn our Roll of Dis­hon­our into a tool against the cor­por­ate take-over of the NHS. Let us know if you’re coming.


CUPP Sem­inar: ‘The NHS Cit­izen’ with Simon Bur­all and Anthony Zacharzewski

Radio Free Brighton recently recor­ded the CUPP sem­inar: ‘The NHS Cit­izen’ with Simon Bur­all and Anthony Zachar­zewski, held on 10th October.


Simon and Anthony are part of a lar­ger part­ner­ship devel­op­ing NHS Cit­izen. A national sys­tem of pub­lic and patient engage­ment being developed to hold the Board of NHS Eng­land to account. While the sys­tem is national, most patients and cit­izens exper­i­ence the health ser­vice at a local level. This sem­inar will explore how the sys­tem is being designed to work and will invite par­ti­cipants to draw on their exper­i­ence, expert­ise and know­ledge to help answer ques­tions about whether and how such sys­tems can plug into local spaces where cit­izens are already debat­ing health and social care. Simon is the Dir­ector of Involve and Anthony is Dir­ector of Dem­soc and both are involved in numer­ous innov­a­tions to enhance civic participation.


Future Focus on Economics with Tegan

LISTEN HERE to Tegan Tallullah’s latest show this time focus­ing on economics


Public Money for Nuclear? — Write to the EU and say NO

The UK is push­ing for huge state sub­sidies for new nuc­lear, Hinkley C in Somer­set is the test case. What hap­pens at Hinkley will have a knock on effect for Moorside.

Please help Stop Moor­side by writ­ing to the EU Com­mis­sion urging them to turn down the UK’s plan for huge state sub­sidy for new nuclear.

There is a draft let­ter below.  Please feel free to rewrite this in your own words or send it as it is.

Write to:


Sug­ges­ted let­ter you could send sent to us by the ‘STOP MOORSIDE: “Biggest Nuc­lear Devel­op­ment in Europe“‘ campaigns

Dear Com­mis­sion­er­Mi­crosoft Word — Dear Commissioner.docJoaquín Almunia,


I am hor­ri­fied to read reports that the European Com­mis­sion is to do a U turn on its ori­ginal view that aid would be incom­pat­ible under EU state aid rules.

Nuc­lear power star­ted in the UK with Magnox react­ors. The so-called leg­acy waste from these react­ors is held at Sel­lafield in dis­grace­ful conditions.

The stated reason for the UKs pro­mo­tion of nuc­lear power is that it is car­bon free. This car­bon free status does not how­ever include the full life car­bon audit from uranium min­ing to pro­posed geo­lo­gical dis­posal and the car­bon foot­print of acci­dents such as Wind­scale, Three Mile Island and Fukushima.

If the full car­bon audit life cycle was included nuc­lear power may even be in energy defi­cit, espe­cially as the fossil fuel energy needed for waste stor­age and acci­dent is unquan­ti­fi­able. Sel­lafield stopped pro­du­cing elec­tri­city in 2003 but uses over £30M of gas every year.

Nuc­lear power is a mature tech­no­logy in that it has been around for dec­ades.  It should by now be com­mer­cially viable without state aid.  The UK in con­trast plans to scrap sup­port for the younger and more eco­nom­ic­ally robust industry of solar install­a­tions over 5MW.

The argu­ment that new nuc­lear will provide secur­ity of elec­tri­city sup­ply is unten­able given that the earli­est new build pro­posed would not take place until 2023 for Hinkley C in Somer­set and 2024 for Moor­side (next to the world’s largest stock­pile of plutonium). Uranium for the new build react­ors would come from for example Peru, Aus­tralia, Canada, Russia.

The waste from the new build react­ors would be hot­ter, requir­ing unquan­ti­fi­able fresh water resources for dec­ades of cooling.

Please ensure that your ini­tial resolve is upheld, that aid would be incom­pat­ible under EU state aid rules.

Yours sin­cerely,





Free Public Lectures: Institute of Physics Talks, 2014/15

Tues­days, 7-8pm
Chichester 1 Lec­ture Theatre, Uni­ver­sity of Sus­sex
• 14th Octo­ber 2014 — Mak­ing Use of Uncer­tainty: From Quantum
Phys­ics to Quantum Tech­no­lo­gies by Dr Jacob Dun­ning­ham
• 11th Novem­ber 2014 – Smash­ing Phys­ics: Inside the World’s
Biggest Exper­i­ment by Prof. Jon But­ter­worth
• 9th Decem­ber 2014 – Rise of a Giant: The European Extremely
Large Tele­scope by Dr Aprajita Verma
• 10th Feb­ru­ary 2015 – Map­ping the Uni­verse
by Dr Karen Mas­ters
• 10th March 2015 – Jewel of the Solar Sys­tem:
Cel­eb­rat­ing 10 years of Cas­sini at Sat­urn
by Dr Caitríona Jackman



LISTEN HERE: Murder Clinic — The Scrap of Lace (Radio Play)

Listen here to The Scrap of Lace — a murder mys­tery radio play read by Radio Free Brighton volun­teers and work exper­i­ence stu­dents from Down­lands School.



Interview: Hong Kong Demonstrations


Inter­view with Jessie Kwok„ a res­id­ent of Hong Kong and pre­vi­ously, an RFB volun­teer. She gives us first hand exper­i­ence of the demon­stra­tions and the reac­tion of Hong Kong cit­izens to cur­rent events


Howard Johns: Power To The People!

Howard Johns is the founder of South­ern Solar Ltd, and has been installing solar hot water sys­tems and other small scale renew­able energy sys­tems for over ten years. Dur­ing this Power To The People speech, he talks about renew­able energy, spe­cific­ally Solar Power.


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