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Amid bird flu vaccine debate, scientists aren't sure of protective dose Concerns about the developing world's access to affordable pandemic vaccines took centre stage Monday at the World Health Organization's annual general meeting, the World Health Assembly.
But as global health leaders struggle to ensure pandemic vaccines won't just be a tool for wealthy countries, influenza scientists admit they face an enormous conundrum, one that could stand in the way of efforts to transform vaccines for the few into vaccines for the many.
Simply put, scientists can't be certain how much vaccine is needed to protect people against novel influenza viruses such as H5N1 avian flu, because they don't know what the immune system of a person protected against a new flu strain would look like.
Sure, they can observe whether immunization with H5N1 vaccine produces certain antibodies and to what levels the antibodies rise, but they have no way of gauging how much protection those antibodies will provide if the person is exposed to the virus. (CBC)
Court fines OxyContin maker $634M US The maker of the narcotic painkiller OxyContin and three executives pleaded guilty Thursday to making false claims about the drug's risk of addiction, a U.S. federal prosecutor and the company said.
Purdue Pharma LP pleaded guilty in a Virginia court to felony misbranding of OxyContin with the intent to defraud. The company's president, chief lawyer and former chief medical officer also pleaded guilty to charges of misbranding — a crime of mislabelling, fraudulently promoting or marketing a drug for an unapproved use.
"With its OxyContin, Purdue unleashed a highly abusable, addictive and potentially dangerous drug on an unsuspecting and unknowing public," U.S. Attorney John Brownlee said in a release.
"For these misrepresentations and crimes, Purdue and its executives have been brought to justice."
The Stamford, Conn.-based company and executives agreed to pay $634,515,475 US in fines.
The company promoted OxyContin as being less addictive and less likely to cause withdrawal symptoms than short-acting opioid painkillers because of OxyContin's time-release formulation. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration did not approve the claims. (CBC)
Presidents of U.S., Mexico to attend Ottawa summit U.S. President George W. Bush hopes to debunk a few negative misconceptions about post-9/11 North America when he arrives in Canada for a two-day summit this August.
He and Mexican President Felipe Calderon will arrive at a rural hotel resort near Ottawa for a summit with Prime Minister Stephen Harper that begins Aug. 21, sources in two countries told The Canadian Press.
The meeting has not yet been announced and the official agenda is still being finalized but U.S. officials are already fine-tuning the hopeful message they want to convey.
They plan to combat impressions that the U.S. and its continental neighbours have been -- or should be -- locking down their borders after 9/11 to the detriment of trade and human relationships.
"This is a region that works and that's a story that needs to be told,'' said one U.S. official. (CTV)
6 Men Arrested in a Terror Plot Against Fort Dix The arrests came after a 15-month investigation during which the F.B.I. and two informers who had infiltrated the group taped them training with automatic weapons in rural Pennsylvania, conducting surveillance of military bases in the Northeast, watching videos of Osama bin Laden and the 9/11 hijackers and trying to buy AK-47 assault rifles (New York Times)
The Crime Behind the Criminal Wars! If your first guess is the attacks of September 11, 2001, on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, guess again.
It is a different crime, just as hideous by any legal standard and in any jurisdiction, but this crime, due to its very serious implications, is preferred by many to remain a secret.
It is a crime whose victims are not just the innocent civilians in Afghanistan and Iraq, but also every unsuspecting military personnel who put his or her life on the line in this synthetic war on terror, and you, the reader.
All preventable wars are illegal and criminal. According to the UN charter, “All Members shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security, and justice, are not endangered.”
Bush and Blair had the evidence that Bin Laden was responsible for the 9/11 attacks as early as September 26, 2001, but that evidence was only shared with those who were important for the execution of their war, such as NATO and Pakistan (Bush, Blair, and the Terrorism Shell Game), and kept away from those sane entities who were looking for a just and peaceful outcome. (MyDemocracy.net)
Children 'bad for planet' HAVING large families should be frowned upon as an environmental misdemeanour in the same way as frequent long-haul flights, driving a big car and failing to reuse plastic bags, says a report to be published today by a green think tank.
The paper by the Optimum Population Trust will say that if couples had two children instead of three they could cut their family's carbon dioxide output by the equivalent of 620 return flights a year between London and New York. (The Australian)
Report: Saudis, US sponsoring covert action against Iran The governments of Saudi Arabia and the United States are working with other states in the Middle East to sponsor covert action against Iran, according to a report in this month's edition of The Atlantic. The report also suggests that covert attacks may occur against Iran's oil sector.
David Samuels, in a lengthy article on Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's diplomatic initiatives in the Middle East, reports that the US is promoting a campaign against Iran that includes covert action.
Last fall, he writes, "Rice and her colleagues in the administration decided to embark on a daring and risky third course: a coordinated campaign, directed with the help of the intelligence services of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Israel, and the United Arab Emirates....The bill for the covert part of this activity, which has involved funding sectarian political movements and paramilitary groups in Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, and the Palestinian territories, is said to amount to more than $300 million. It is being paid by Saudi Arabia and other concerned Gulf states, for whom the combination of a hasty American withdrawal from Iraq and a nuclear-armed Iran means trouble." (The Raw Story)
Network refuses to name clients of 'DC madam' There was an almost audible sigh of relief in parts of America's capital this weekend after a TV network said it would not reveal the identities of scores of clients of the alleged "DC madam" because they were not well enough known to be "newsworthy".
ABC News said that, having ploughed through 46lbs of phone records, it had discovered that among the clients of Deborah Palfrey's alleged prostitution ring were senior business executives, Nasa officials and at least five military officers. And among the women working for Ms Palfrey - who ran the network in Washington DC from her home in California - were an instructor at the US Naval Academy and a legal secretary at a prominent law firm
. The secretary was suspended after telling her bosses she worked for Ms Palfrey "for spa money".
Ms Palfrey, 51, faces federal charges of racketeering and money-laundering associated with prostitution. She claims she offered only "fantasy sex" and she was not breaking the law. (The Independent)
Gore sees 'spiritual crisis' in warming Playing equal parts visionary, cheerleader and comedian, Al Gore brought his message of how to fight global warming to a capacity crowd of receptive architects Saturday in San Antonio.
The former vice president referred continually to a "new way of thinking" that is emerging in the country and offered hope in the battle to control the effects global warming will have on the planet.
"It's in part a spiritual crisis," Gore told the crowd in the Convention Center at the American Institute of Architects national convention. "It's a crisis of our own self-definition — who we are. Are we creatures destined to destroy our own species? Clearly not."
Global warming is the heating of the Earth caused in large part by man-made emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. Most scientists agree such warming and the changing climate that comes with it will likely cause a number of problems and crises this century, particularly in developing countries that have few resources to combat the effects. (San Antonio Express-News)
Blair rejects 7/7 inquiry calls: Tony Blair has again rejected calls for a fresh inquiry into the 7/7 attacks, saying it would undermine the security services. The prime minister repeatedly dismissed Tory leader David Cameron's demands for a "proper independent inquiry".
He also told MPs at Commons question time that it would divert resources from the fight against terrorism.
Survivors of the 2005 attack renewed their calls for an inquiry on Monday after the fertiliser bomb plot trial.
It emerged at the end of the year-long court case that MI5 had watched and followed two of the 7 July bombers, Mohammad Sidique Khan and Shehzad Tanweer, a year before the attacks as part of their surveillance of the fertiliser bomb plotters.
Calls for a fresh inquiry into the 7/7 attacks grew after it emerged that MPs and peers on the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) were not shown photographs linking Khan to known militants.
Security sources say MI5 said it did not reveal the images to the parliamentary committee because they were taken by police officers not MI5 operatives. (BBC)
Carbon credits market triples The market in carbon credits grew faster than expected last year, tripling to $30bn from $10bn in 2005, the World Bank said on Wednesday.
But the fledgling carbon credit industry is struggling to keep up with demand, the Financial Times has found, as there is now a shortage of skilled technicians to monitor carbon reduction projects and verify the claimed emissions cuts are taking place. (Financial Times)
High-Traffic Colluding Tor Routers in Washington, D.C., and the Ugly Truth About Online Anonymity With the U.S. Government trying to shut down websites and stealing gold, I feel the need to discuss communications security, surveillance and anonymity as the U.S. collapses further into overt fascism.
I need to get this off my chest, once and for all, because people, who don’t know much about computers, are being bombarded with nonsense, and they’re bombarding me with nonsense as a result. I want a single post that goes all the way, and this is it.
“Have you heard about Tor?” I am routinely asked via clear text email.
Yes, I know about Tor, but we need to take a much closer look at what remaining anonymous online really requires.
First of all, since this is a long post, I don’t want to waste your time. If you’re a computer expert or network engineer, etc. you will already know this stuff. If, however, you’re a casual computer user who doesn’t know much about the underlying principles of information systems, this will be way over your head. If you’re a casual computer user who is thinking about anonymity online, this article might be useful for letting you know some more about what you don’t know. (Cyptogon)
National Security and Homeland Security Presidential Directive 51 This directive establishes a comprehensive national policy on the continuity of Federal Government structures and operations and a single National Continuity Coordinator responsible for coordinating the development of Federal continuity policies. This policy establishes "National Essential Functions," prescribes continuity requirements for all executive departments and agencies, and provides guidance for State, local, territorial, and tribal governments, and private sector organizations in order to ensure a comprehensive and integrated national continuity program that will enhance the credibility of our national security posture and enable a more rapid and effective response to and recovery from a national emergency. (Wikipedia)
Fertiliser bomb trial: Bugged talk The trial of seven men accused of planning to build a homemade fertiliser bomb to use against targets in the UK relied partly on hours of surveillance evidence and recordings of bugged conversations.
Omar Khyam, the ringleader, was followed by MI5 and counter-terrorism officers who had been on the trail of al-Qaeda sympathisers in the UK.
In February 2004, counter-terrorism officers began round-the-clock surveillance of the key suspects, including recording bugged conversations.
The complete operation included:
* 24,000 hours of video
* 3,000 hours of audio
* 33,000 man hours of surveillance
* 80 computers examined after arrest
Two of the accused, Nabeel Hussain and Shujah Mahmood, were found not guilty. (BBC)
In Depth: Air India; Evidence Part 1: Plotted in plain sight? - In 1987, Canada's solicitor-general James Kelleher declared: "I should point out to the House that there was no indication that there was a specific threat to Flight 182."
Sixteen years later, then federal solicitor-general Wayne Easter repeated the assertion: "They were not in a position to know that there would be a terrorist attack on an Air India aircraft."
Were they right? Was there really no warning — or was the Air India bombing plotted in plain sight?
In 1982, Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi complained to prime minister Pierre Trudeau that Sikh extremists in Canada were financing and organizing terrorist attacks against Indian targets.
Three years later, on June 22, 1985, two bombs placed by Sikh militants in Vancouver killed 331 people. Air India Flight 182 blew up as it approached the coast of Ireland, killing 329 people. Two baggage handlers died earlier during a blast at a Tokyo airport.
Ever since, successive Canadian governments have insisted that Canada's security agencies could not have prevented the bombing because there was no warning. (CBC)
'I Abhor Injustice,' Alleged Madam Says "Miz Julia" doled out a steady stream of advice, both practical and philosophical.
From her California home, she e-mailed tips to the 132 women who worked across the Washington area for the firm Pamela Martin & Associates. Her newsletters, now excerpted in court records, were a virtual how-to manual for avoiding all kinds of trouble in a business said to specialize in erotic fantasies.
"One never quite knows where evil, i.e., the vice squad is lurking in this business," read one arch entry from 1995. "The misogynists get a real kick out of surprising (shocking) you girls, when you give them the opportunity!!! . . . Therefore, you are to lock, double lock, triple lock all doors!!! . . . Figure it out, before they 'get cha'!!!"
Miz Julia was the pseudonym for Deborah Jeane Palfrey, the woman at the center of a sex scandal that has caused a deputy secretary of state to resign and has lawyers calling around town trying to keep their clients' names out of public view. A one-time law student, Palfrey ran for 13 years what she insists was a legal escort service. Federal prosecutors allege she was providing $300-an-hour prostitutes, and a grand jury indicted her in February on federal racketeering charges. (Washington Post)
Climate change hits Mars Scientists from Nasa say that Mars has warmed by about 0.5C since the 1970s. This is similar to the warming experienced on Earth over approximately the same period. (London Times)
Heroin is "Good for Your Health": Occupation Forces support Afghan Narcotics Trade Multibillion dollar earnings for organized crime and Western financial Institutions - The UN estimates that for 2006, the contribution of the drug trade to the Afghan economy is of the order of 2.7 billion. What it fails to mention is the fact that more than 95 percent of the revenues generated by this lucrative contraband accrues to business syndicates, organized crime and banking and financial institutions. A very small percentage accrues to farmers and traders in the producing country. (New York Times)
British military sanctions Afghan poppy cultivation Angry Afghan officials have reprimanded British diplomats over a campaign by UK troops in Helmand telling farmers that growing poppy was understandable and acceptable. A radio message broadcast across the province assured local farmers that the Nato-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) would not interfere with poppy fields currently being harvested. - "It's ridiculous. The British embassy is sponsoring a 'don't grow poppy campaign' while the military pays for one that tells people they should," said a western official in Kabul. "Insecurity and poppy are the same issue - one creates the conditions for the other. This won't be over until the poppy is gone." (London Guardian)
NDP: stop bulk water exports -- SPP integration deal risks Canadian sovereignty and vital fresh water resources Canada stands to lose millions of litres of fresh water as a result of bulk water exports if the Conservatives enact proposals being discussed later this week in a closed-door meeting in Calgary. Today NDP MPs stood on the steps of Parliament Hill and called for a full parliamentary debate on the issue of the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (SPP) - before the government implements this deep integration with the U.S. any further.
“We are calling on the Canadian government to pull out of these talks. It is beyond all reason that our government would be looking for ways to ship our fresh water resources in bulk to the United States,” said NDP International Trade Critic Peter Julian.
Last week, the Council of Canadians revealed a leaked memo that showed high level secret-talks would begin this week in Calgary between government and business leaders to discuss “water consumption, water transfers and artificial diversions of bulk water” with the aim of achieving “joint optimum utilization of the available water.” (New Democratic Party of Canada)
‘Ardent Sentry’ Tests U.S., Canadian Crisis Response Capabilities Thousands of active-duty and National Guard servicemembers will take part in a two-week, Defense Department-sponsored nationwide emergency preparedness and response exercise that kicks off April 30, a senior department official said here yesterday.
A major focus of Operation Ardent Sentry - Northern Edge 2007 will be to test crisis-response coordination between federally controlled military forces and National Guard units that come under the command of state governors, Peter F. Verga, acting assistant secretary of defense for homeland defense, told the Pentagon Channel and American Forces Press Service at the Pentagon.
The exercise, directed by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is slated to end May 18. It is co-sponsored by U.S. Northern Command and also includes participation by the U.S. North American Aerospace Defense Command, the Department of Homeland Security and the Canadian armed forces, according to NORTHCOM documents. (US Department of Defense)
Nudity has become an option Air travellers everywhere may soon be able to choose between the traditional pat-down and a new X-ray machine that leaves little to the imagination - the ACLU has taken no legal action against the use of backscatter technology while X-ray screening remains voluntary. (The Globe And Mail)
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