BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — The Ebola scare has subsided in the United States, at least temporarily, but an Alabama manufacturer is still trying to catch up with a glut of orders for gear to protect against the disease.
Located in north Alabama, the family-owned Kappler Inc. of Guntersville typically gets only a few orders annually for the type of suit needed by health workers who are in contact with Ebola patients.
That changed once the disease showed up in Texas, Kappler vice president of marketing Dennis Sanders said. Quickly, orders were flooding in for thousands of the company's Provent 10,000 coverall.
"It happened, literally, overnight," he said. "We took orders in a couple of days that exceeded the orders we've had on that particular product in two or three years."
While the company has about 75,000 of the suits on back order, Sanders said, it has yet to need to add to its workforce of 150 employees or extend working hours.
"We'll probably be filling orders through April 2015," he said.
Other U.S. manufacturers also have reported seeing spikes in orders for protective gear, including surgical face mask manufacturer Kimberly-Clark. In China, Weifang Lakeland Safety Products has said it is doubling capacity to meet the demand for coveralls.
Kappler is the only company making protective suit entirely in the United States, Sanders said. Its product works because of a special method for sealing seams and APTRA, a plastic film that protects against blood and body fluids that could carry the Ebola virus, he said.
Kappler sells its suits to distributors that, in turn, sell to hospitals and health agencies. The Provent 10,000 suit costs about $25 retail.
While the company is now working through old orders, Sanders said he expects another round of new orders if Ebola again becomes a lead topic for news in the United States.
"Anytime there is an event in the world we get the inquiries about things like, 'How long would it take for a 1 million orders?" he said. "This time those calls turned in to orders."
The World Health Organization says more than 5,400 people have died in the current outbreak, mostly in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone in western Africa.
Ten people have been treated for Ebola in the United States, and one has died.
PHOENIX (AP) — If Christian Avila lived a few hundred miles to the west, he would have a driver's license and qualify for in-state college tuition and a host of other opportunities available to young people granted legal status by President Barack Obama two years ago.
But Avila lives in Phoenix, and the 24-year-old immigrant who was brought here from Mexico by his parents at age 9 still has to navigate the sprawling city in fear as he drives to school or work.
"You get nervous, your legs start to tingle a little bit when there's a cop behind you, when you're doing nothing wrong by driving to work,' said Avila, a community college student and immigration activist. "You're not breaking any rules, you're following the law. But unfortunately it's where we live."
With last week's action by Obama that expanded the deferred action program and added millions of other immigrants, Avila's plight highlights a harsh reality about the president's changes. The president may be allowing them to remain in the U.S., but it doesn't mean their state will let them drive a car, get an education at an affordable rate or obtain health insurance.
A patchwork of rules began to form in states — largely along political lines — after the president allowed some young immigrants to stay in the country. Conservative states like Nebraska and Arizona kept them from getting driver's licenses while liberal locations were much more welcoming in terms of state services and benefits.
Now, states must make new decisions on how to respond to the president's action that allows millions more immigrants to remain in the U.S.
In California, Democrats, immigration groups and health care advocates are pushing for the immigrants to receive health care under the state's version of the Medicaid program. The California Department of Health Care Services is deciding how to proceed. The president's action excludes immigrants who came to the country illegally from qualifying for federal health benefits.
In Nevada, officials are drawing up a bill for the Legislature making clear that unauthorized immigrants can become teachers in the state. Current rules specify that a prospective teacher must be a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident before they can receive a teaching license in Nevada.
A new gubernatorial administration in Arizona will have to decide whether to continue a hard-line approach toward state benefits that outgoing Gov. Jan Brewer took.
After Obama took action in 2012 granting legal status to 1.8 million young people brought to the U.S. as children, Brewer issued an executive order denying them driver's licenses or other state benefits, including in-state tuition at the state's public universities. A federal appeals court ruled the license ban was unconstitutional, and Brewer is considering an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
"Our position is unilateral action by the president does nothing to change the fact that an illegal alien's presence is the United States is not authorized under federal law," Brewer spokesman Andrew Wilder said.
Arizona's Republican Governor-elect, Doug Ducey, has said he intends to continue Brewer's current ban, if it survives court challenges.
Maryland's Democratic governor, Martin O'Malley, has taken a decidedly different tack. He's a supporter of state laws granting in-state tuition to people without legal status and grants them driver's licenses. He has even been willing to get into a policy fight with Obama on the stream of unaccompanied immigrant children from Central America over the Mexican border, criticizing the White House proposal earlier this year that could have expedited the deportation of the children.
Arizona remains an outlier in its treatment of immigrants granted work permits and is among the most harsh when it comes to those who remain in the U.S. without legal authorization.
States surrounding Arizona provide in-state tuition to all residents, regardless of immigration status. And in January, California joins nine other states in allowing immigrants who can't prove they're in the U.S legally to get a driver's license.
Utah provides leniency when it comes to driving privileges and education, despite passing a law in 2011 that mirrored Arizona's landmark immigration crackdown, SB1070. The state issues driving-privilege cards that must be renewed annually for those who cannot prove they're in the country legally.
Nearly 36,300 were issued last year, said Nannette Rolfe, the director of Utah's Driver License Division. Utah also offers in-state tuition at public universities and colleges to residents not in the U.S. legally.
To be eligible, students must have attended a Utah high school for at least three years and earned a diploma or GED. They can't hold a non-immigrant visa and must file an application to legalize their immigration status when eligible to do so. In the 2012-2013 academic students, 929 students took advantage of the program.
Despite the fact that life would be easier if he left the state, Avila said he's staying put.
"This is where we got dirty as kids, this is where we learn how to speak English, this is where we learn how to do a lot of stuff," he said. "Here in Arizona is where my friends, my family, live and I don't see it as an option to run away, but rather stand up and change the conditions that we live under."
AP reporters Judy Lin in Sacramento, California, Michelle Price in Salt Lake City, Michelle Rindels in Las Vegas and Brian Witte in Annapolis, Maryland contributed to this report.
Follow Bob Christie at http://twitter.com/APChristie.
NEW YORK (AP) — For some Americans on opposite sides of a national debate, Michael Brown has become a symbol, epitomizing their polarized views on who bears the blame for the toll of young black men killed by police officers. Brown was a gentle giant, in one version. A defiant troublemaker, in another.
Yet as more details of the 18-year-old's life and death emerge, his legacy in the eyes of many is more nuanced, reflecting the ups and downs and challenges faced by many young Americans.
"He was someone trying to come into his own, trying to grow up in a world that's not that friendly to young people," civil rights lawyer Barbara Arnwine said.
"Other young people see themselves in him. They're not looking for someone who's perfect. It's his vulnerabilities that appeal to them," said Arnwine, president of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.
In the days after Brown's Aug. 9 shooting death at the hands of a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, a warm, upbeat portrait emerged.
After academic struggles in high school, he had buckled down to get his diploma last summer and was soon to enter a technical college. Friends and family recalled a sizable young man — 6-foot-5, nearly 300 pounds — with a gentle, joking manner, a fan of computer games, an aspiring rap musician.
"His biggest goal was to be part of something," said Charlie Kennedy, a health and physical education teacher at Ferguson's Normandy High School. "He was kindhearted, a little kid in a big body."
Subsequently, some less flattering details surfaced. A toxicology report showed that Brown had marijuana in his system on the day he died. Ferguson police released a video showing Brown snatching some cigars in a convenience store shortly before he was killed.
Then came the release of evidence and testimony presented to the grand jury that decided not to indict Darren Wilson, the police officer who shot and killed Brown. Wilson testified that Brown scuffled with him while he was in his patrol car, trying to grab his pistol, and moments later — after stepping away from the car — started to charge back at him.
"The only way I can describe it, it looks like a demon, that's how angry he looked," Wilson testified.
Some grand jury witnesses disputed Wilson's testimony, saying Brown did not make a charge. But to Brown's detractors, the officer's account reinforced negative feelings about the young man and further fueled their efforts to make him a symbol for their pro-police arguments.
"Here's the lessons from Ferguson America," wrote rocker and conservative activist Ted Nugent on his Facebook page. "Don't let your kids grow up to be thugs who think they can steal, assault & attack cops as a way of life & badge of black (dis)honor."
The Rev. E.W. Jackson, a conservative black pastor based in Virginia, depicted Brown as "in many ways a typical kid growing up the in black community."
"He imbibed a lot of negative attitudes about what manhood is all about," Jackson said. "I wish this kid could have been redeemed to go on to live a wonderful life."
"But something is wrong when you start wrestling with a police officer over his gun," Jackson added. "I have nothing but sympathy for his parents, but you can't absolve Michael Brown of responsibility for this situation."
Arnwine, the civil rights lawyer, was infuriated that Wilson's negative testimony had been made available to the grand jurors and to the public.
"It was meant to portray Michael Brown in the worst possible way, as a foul-mouthed, violent, rude, aggressive person," she said. "It was meant to give people the impression of this scary black man who deserved to die."
She said the turnout of throngs of young people of all races at rallies and protests nationwide gave a truer picture of Brown's legacy.
"When you see their passion, hear the pain in their voices, you can see they honestly relate to this young man," Arnwine said. "They feel that he absolutely embodied the struggles that they are going through."
"He was someone struggling to create his identity, make his music, hang with his friends," she said. "You're caught betwixt and between, trying to be an adult but still in your teens."
The president of the NAACP, Cornell William Brooks, said he met Brown's parents and some of his young friends in the aftermath of the shooting.
"Michael Brown contained all the virtues and all the flaws of a great many young people, irrespective of race or class," Brooks said. "There was something about him, and what happened to him, that inspired young people to transform a local social-justice challenge into a global civil rights issue, something that spoke to their sense of conscience."
The intense scrutiny of Brown's life and the accompanying moral judgments have angered some of those following the case.
"It's not for us to say if he was angel or if he would have become a billionaire after he got his college degree," said James Peterson, director of Africana Studies and an associate professor of English at Lehigh University.
"I hate the narrative that it's more sad that he was two days away from starting college. What if he wasn't?" Peterson asked. "It doesn't matter what we think his legacy was. He was a human being who didn't deserve to have his life snuffed out."
Follow David Crary on Twitter at http://twitter.com/CraryAP
ATHENS, Ga. (AP) — Georgia coach Andy Landers will return to his alma mater on Saturday for a shot at a milestone win.
Landers, in his 36th season at Georgia, will try to become only the seventh Division 1 coach to reach 850 wins at one school when the No. 22 Lady Bulldogs play at Tennessee Tech.
Landers can join a list of some of the biggest names in coaching. The list includes legendary women's coaches Pat Summitt, who won 1,098 games at Tennessee, and Geno Auriemma, who is still adding to his 881 wins at Connecticut.
Jim Boeheim of Syracuse (952), Duke's Mike Krzyzewski (916), North Carolina's Dean Smith (879) and Kentucky's Adolph Rupp (876) reached the milestone with men's programs. Boeheim and Krzyzewski remain active.
"I think there are only a handful of us who have dared to stay at the same place for a long time, and we have many of the same things in common," Landers said. "We are all in special places. We all want to be successful. We've been blessed with assistants and administrators and support that could make that success possible. And we've been doubly-blessed with the fact that we've all had more than our fair share of great players."
Georgia (6-0) is coming off wins over Georgia Tech, Georgia Southern and Colgate in a span of four days.
Landers earned bachelor's and master's degrees in physical education from Tennessee Tech in 1973 and 1974, respectively.
After leaving Tennessee Tech in 1974, Landers coached at Roane State (junior) College, in Harriman, Tennessee, for four seasons. He was 26 when he took the Georgia job in 1979.
SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — A live-feed video project at The Landings that was planned to feature a pair of bald eagles raising their young has new stars vying for the spotlight. Recent footage from the eagle camera captured eagle visits to the nest, but it's also shown unexpected squatters.
In one nighttime sequence from late October, a great horned owl arrives in the nest 75-feet above a golf course tee box and shares a love offering — a small songbird it's hunted — with its presumed mate, who gulps it down whole.
In another set of videos an eagle shows up only 15 minutes after the owl vacated the premises. On Thursday morning, a red-tailed hawk was poking around the place.
"We don't know what we've got," said Meredith Welch, Skidaway Audubon's project manager for the Eagle Cam project. Both owls and eagles have repeatedly visited.
Skidaway Audubon, in collaboration with local and national partners, installed two video cameras high up in the loblolly pine in July. One is a regular video for daytime viewing and the other an infrared system for night.
It was no simple task, requiring the assistance of a bucket truck from the Southside Fire Department and the expertise of California-based IP Video Systems, which has installed animal-watching cameras around the world.
The plan was to keep tabs on nest activity, taking video only when a motion detection system perceived a bird had arrived. They'd go live with a public video feed to the Internet as soon as the eagles moved back in.
This established eagle nest was a good bet for that. Eagles, which mate for life, have been documented elsewhere returning to the same nest year after year for a decade or more. And bald eagles had just built this nest in 2012, making it a relatively new home. The pair had proven themselves as parents, raising at least three chicks since then, including at least one last season.
All that is clear because of the work of Jim Ozier, a Georgia Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologist who crisscrosses the state in a helicopter each year cataloging the bald eagle population. As the cameras went up, Ozier gave this nest a better than 90 percent chance of being occupied again by the same eagle pair.
But the eagles didn't get the memo.
"They don't usually abandon their territory," Ozier said, adding that he didn't think the cameras had anything to do with the birds not yet returning.
Something may have happened to one of the pair. Or they could be building a new nest nearby. Or they could still return to this nest. Eagles usually lay eggs in December in Coastal Georgia.
Great horned owls, which like eagles are raptors equipped with strong beaks and razor-sharp talons, don't typically build their own nests. They prefer to have other birds do that work. In fact, Ozier's 2012 eagle survey in Chatham County turned up a great horned owl and chicks in what had been an eagle's nest on Long Island in the Savannah River.
But if it comes down to an eagle versus owl struggle for the nest, Ozier has his money on the eagle.
"There are some conflicts once in a while," he said. "I expect most times the eagles win those."
Such an encounter could make for "the best YouTube video ever," Welch said.
Volunteer Jim Siler routinely checks the cameras for activity. Midmorning on Friday he found an eagle sitting in the nest.
"He or she was undoing all the work the great horned owl did the previous evening," he said.
The nonprofit Skidaway Audubon is the primary funder of the nest camera project. Others that contributed money or in-kind services include Southside Fire Department; the Georgia Golf Course Superintendents Association; the Georgia Golf Environmental Foundation; Ogeechee Audubon; the Coastal Conservation Association, Skidaway Chapter; The Landings Club; and The Landings Association.
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is partnering with Skidaway Audubon to broaden the impact of the cameras by linking to live chats with bird experts and providing technical assistance such as operators for the main camera, which can pan, tilt and zoom. Cornell has committed to livestreaming whichever birds species, owl or eagle, decides to nest.
The project already has faced unexpected setbacks, including a beetle infestation that's killing the tree, a lightning strike that damaged equipment and a glitch with the infrared system.
Funds to fix the latter came from the local Wild Birds Unlimited store whose owners Craig and Nancy McEwan live at The Landings. It's a good thing it was fixed, Welch said, because without the infrared it would be impossible to know that the owls have been frequent nighttime visitors.
Eagle cameras have been wildly popular, with one at Berry College in Rome racking up more than 18 million hits. Great horned owls may not have the glamor of the national bird, but they do have fuzzy, big-eyed babies that could draw a crowd.
Welch has her fingers crossed that one pair — either owls or eagles — decides to settle in and raise a family.
BEIRUT (AP) — Syrian rebels backed by the United States are making their biggest gains yet south of the capital Damascus, capturing a string of towns from government forces and aiming to carve out a swath of territory leading to the doorstep of President Bashar Assad's seat of power.
The advances appear to be a rare visible success story from efforts by the U.S. and its allies to train and arm moderate rebel fighters.
The rebel forces are believed to include fighters who graduated from a nearly 2-year-old CIA training program based in Syria's southern neighbor Jordan. The group known as the Friends of Syria, including Jordan, France the U.S. and Saudi Arabia, are backing the rebels with money and weapons, said Gen. Ibrahim Jbawi, the spokesman for the Free Syrian Army's southern front.
The gains are a contrast to northern Syria, where U.S.-backed rebels are collapsing in the face of an assault by Islamic militants. Notably, in the south, the rebels are working together with fighters from al-Qaida's Syria branch, whose battle-hardened militants have helped them gain the momentum against government forces. The cooperation points to the difficulty in American efforts to build up "moderate" factions while isolating extremists.
"The goal is to reach the capital ... because there is no way to bring down the regime without reaching Damascus," said Ahmad al-Masalmeh, an opposition activist in Daraa.
But few are under the illusion that the offensive in the south can loosen Assad's grip on power in the near future. The Syrian leader has benefited from the U.S.-led coalition's war against the Islamic State group, which has had the side effect of freeing up Assad's forces to focus on more moderate rebels elsewhere in the country. Government forces have seized several key areas around the capital.
Jbawi said the international support for the assault "is not enough to let the rebels win the battle militarily. They are backing (us) to pressure Bashar Assad's regime to bring him to the negotiating table."
The Islamic State group's onslaught in Syria and Iraq has given greater urgency to international efforts to find some sort of solution for Syria's conflict, which has killed more than 200,000 people and displaced millions. Previous attempts and two rounds of peace talks in Switzerland earlier this year failed to make any progress as each side remained convinced it could win the war militarily.
The U.N. envoy to Syria, Staffan de Mistura, has now proposed local cease-fires starting with the northern city of Aleppo as a building block for a wider solution — an idea that Assad has said is "worth studying."
Speaking by telephone, Jbawi said 54 rebel factions consisting of 30,000 fighters are taking part in the battles in southern Syria. Activists say that Jordan is also facilitating the rebels' push by arming some rebels and allowing them to cross freely to and from the country.
The rebel offensive gained momentum two months ago, leading to the capture of much of the Quneitra region bordering Syria's Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, as well as large areas in the southern province of Daraa on the border with Jordan.
These included the town of Nawa and the Harra hill, a strategic hill where Syrian troops had stationed monitoring equipment because of its proximity to Israeli army positions in the Golan. The hill, one of the highest in Daraa province, also overlooks a main road that rebels use.
More recently, the fighting has been concentrated in and around the contested village of Sheikh Maskeen and the nearby Brigade 82 base, one of the main government units in the province. If the rebels capture the village and the base they will be then able to threaten the Damascus-Daraa highway, a main lifeline for government forces.
On Friday, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the government carried out some 60 air raids on areas in Daraa province, many of them on Sheikh Maskeen and nearby areas. The group, which relies on a network of activists inside Syria, said the air raids killed at least nine people and wounded others.
The rebel offensive could eventually link opposition fighters' positions in Daraa and Quneitra with Damascus' rebel-held Ghouta suburbs.
"The military objective is to secure lines of communication and to put pressure on the capital," said Faysal Itani, a resident fellow at the Atlantic Council.
However, despite the rebel advance, Assad's forces remain strong in the area, holding bases in critical locations that the rebels will find difficult to capture, he said.
Daraa-based activist Ibrahim Hariri said that while government forces collapsed in some parts of the province, they still hold much of the city of Daraa and control the Daraa-Damascus highway, "the spine of the province."
"The regime always has a very big force in Daraa because it is close to the front with Israel," Hariri said. "Any attempt to reach Damascus will not be an easy mission."
Follow Bassem Mroue on Twitter at http://twitter.com/bmroue