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Coverage of Ebola has uncomfortable side effects

RARELY is casual, intrinsic racism so obvious as it was in this week's coverage of the outbreak of the Ebola virus in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.

For months people have been dying awful deaths from the hemorrhagic fever.

Yet this week, many media outlets led with the fact that two Americans contracted the disease.

Does the fact they are American make them any more likely to die?

No, if anything, thanks to consular support and access to medicines, it makes them less likely to.

And does their status as American citizens bring the disease any closer to us here in Ireland?

No, infection spreads the same way from a Liberian national as it does a US national.

There is no good reason why we should have regarded the infection of two Americans as any more newsworthy than the deaths of nearly 900 Africans due to the virus.

Now in fairness, a lot of the media caught on quick.

When it was revealed that the Americans had been treated with experimental drugs not available in Africa, much of the reporting turned to analysing the global two-tier medical system.

But nonetheless, for a brief moment, the choice to give more attention to potential risks to a couple of Americans than the real deaths of Africans, proved an underlying racism that we probably would rather believe wasn't there.

JobBridge just isn't fair

The Minister for Job Activation (what a title huh?) Kevin Humphreys has said that the JobBridge scheme is "absolutely not" simply a way for employers to get cheap labour.

Am I missing something. Surely the whole point of the JobBridge scheme is that it encourages employers to hire people in internships for very little cost, who those employers and companies would not otherwise hire?

Isn't that why the scheme was set up - to create employment and internships which would not have been created if the employers had to pay full salaries?

Now it's true that we all hope those interns then get hired full-time by the companies, which we are told often happens.

But the whole system is predicated on the creation of opportunity for individuals, incentivised through offering cheap labour to companies here.

It may be tough for a fresh Labour Junior Minister to accept, but the success of the scheme he's now responsible for hinges on reducing costs on profit-making entities.

In other words, for JobBridge to work, employers have to make money on it.

It may not be fair, it may not be pretty, but capitalism rarely is.

Fighter jets send message

The man allegedly at the centre of the Qatar airlines bomb hoax (below) was reported to have handed a flight attendant a note saying there was a bomb on board the plane.

Then minutes later, fellow passengers said his mood changed as he looked out the window.

The reason for the sudden change of mood was the arrival of an RAF Typhoon fighter jet off the left wing.

The fighter escorted the airliner to Manchester airport, where the man was detained and the threat was shown to be a hoax.

But the whole debacle does show that attitudes to threats and hijackings have changed since 9/11. Fighter jets exist to do only one thing - shoot planes down. Obviously this suggests one thing: that if a commercial aircraft ever does get into the wrong hands over the UK, it won't be left flying for long.