World View: Measles Outbreak Being Blamed on the ‘Anti-Vaccine’ Movement

Measles spread at California Disney theme parks

This morning’s key headlines from

  • Measles outbreak being blamed on the ‘anti-vaccine movement’
  • Russians re-invade Ukraine, targeting Mariupol port city
  • Yemen appears to be further destabilizing after president Hadi’s resignation
  • U.S. policy in Yemen affected by Houthi takeover

Measles outbreak being blamed on the ‘anti-vaccine movement’

Visitors ride Dumbo the Flying Elephant at Disneyland in Anaheim on Thursday (AP)
Visitors ride Dumbo the Flying Elephant at Disneyland in Anaheim on Thursday (AP)

Measles was eliminated in the United States in 2000, but 71 new cases of measles have been reported in the last month. The number is expected to climb. Almost all of the measles patients had not received measles vaccinations, or had had only one of the two required vaccine shots.

62 of the cases were in California, with the rest in Utah, Washington, Colorado, Oregon, Arizona and Mexico. Almost all the patients had visited Disney theme parks in Anaheim around Christmas, or had contact with someone who had visited Disneyland.

The resurgence of measles is being blamed on the anti-vaccine movement — people who are refusing to allow their children to be vaccinated. Many of them have refused vaccinations because they still believe now-discredited research linking the measles vaccine to autism.

In California, most of the measles cases are occurring in certain pockets, in places where there is a community reluctance to vaccinate.

The measles vaccine first became available in 1963, and had eliminated measles in the United States by 2000. But that announcement caused many parents to decide that it was no longer necessary to vaccinate their children, and now measles is reappearing. However, starting last year, the number of parents refusing to vaccinate their children declined slightly, and is expected to decline further this year. Mercury News (San Jose) and SF Gate (San Francisco) and LA Times

Russians re-invade Ukraine, targeting Mariupol port city

In a significant escalation of the conflict in Ukraine, ethnic Russians in east Ukraine, backed by heavy weapons and possibly thousands of soldiers from Russia, are apparently launching an attack on the port city of Mariupol. Mariupol is a strategic objective that would give the Russians access to the Sea of Azov, and would provide much of what’s needed to secure a land bridge between Russia and Crimea. Russia invaded, occupied and annexed Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula a year ago, and has had to bear enormous expenses supplying troops and civilians in Crimea by sea. Conquest of additional Ukrainian territory to provide a land connection between Russia and Crimea would result in considerable cost reductions. The attack comes just one day after the east Ukrainian Russians rejected a ceasefire agreement reached last September, when an east Ukrainian leader, Alexander Zakharchenko, announced, “We have started an offensive on Mariupol.” On Saturday, Zakharchenko said that the Mariupol offensive would be “the best possible monument to all our dead.”

Russia’s government claims that it had nothing to do with the new offensive, but an AP reporter saw convoys of pristine heavy weapons arriving last week, apparently in preparation for this attack.

Apparently we are now going to have to deal with another period of Russian government statements in clear contradiction to reported facts, and so it is a good idea to recall what happened last year. Russia claimed they were not invading Crimea, just as Russian troops were invading Crimea. Russia claimed that they would not annex Crimea, just before they annexed Crimea, a clear violation of international law. Russia claimed that there were no Russian troops in east Ukraine at a time when Russian troops were entering east Ukraine. On September 5, Russia signed an international peace agreement (the “Minsk protocols”) in which they committed to a political compromise in east Ukraine, and then repeatedly violated their own agreement. Basically, anything that comes from Russian state media or Russia’s government should be considered to be a lie. Washington Post and BBC and AP

Yemen appears to be further destabilizing after president Hadi’s resignation

The coup by the Iran-backed Shia al-Houthi militias– taking control of the ministerial government functions in Sanaa, the capital city of Yemen, followed by the resignation Yemen’s Sunni president Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi– appears to have sparked several groups into action on Saturday, further destabilizing the country:

  • 10,000-20,000 people marched from Sanaa University, through the streets of Sanaa, to Hadi’s home and back, chanting, “Down, down with the Houthis’ rule,” and demanding that Hadi’s resignation be rejected. Women and children joined young men on the streets, waving signs that called for “a real government” and burning portraits of the Houthi leader Abdel-Malek al-Houthi.
  • At least nine people were killed and dozens wounded in clashes between Houthi fighters and Sunni tribesmen in Dar Al-Najd, a village in central Yemen, after Houthi militias were accused of abducting a journalist. History has shown that even if the Houthis can hold on to the central government in Sanaa, they will be unable to use force to control the tribes in the harsh mountain regions.
  • Secessionist militias from Yemen’s Southern Movement blocked roads in South Yemen and continued to declare independence from North Yemen.

The Yemeni parliament is scheduled to meet on Sunday to discuss Hadi’s resignation, which has not yet been accepted, or to appoint a successor. Al Jazeera and World Bulletin (Turkey) and Gulf News and AFP

U.S. policy in Yemen affected by Houthi takeover

For years, the U.S. has been conducting counter-terrorism operations, including drone strikes, targeting Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), with the cooperation of Hadi, who just resigned, and his predecessor, the former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, who was ousted by Hadi in 2011.

On Friday, the Washington Post reported that the U.S. has been forced to suspend counter-terrorism operations in Yemen, because of the government takeover by the virulently anti-American Houthis. However, administration officials are saying that the drone strokes and other operations are continuing, but without the aid of information from Yemeni intelligence agencies, which are now controlled by the Houthis. Washington Post and Guardian (London)

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, measles, Disneyland, anti-vaccine movement, Russia, Ukraine, Mariupol, Crimea, Sea of Azov, Alexander Zakharchenko, Yemen, Houthis, Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi, Abdel-Malek al-Houthi, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, AQAP, Ali Abdullah Saleh
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