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US Would Close Schools, Restrict Travel In Case of Worldwide Flu Outbreak Among its suggested preparations to limit the spread of infection and care for the ill, the plan stresses major federal research to create "seed strains" of worrisome flu types as potential vaccine candidates. Such work might shave a few months off the typical six to eight months it now takes to brew a new flu vaccine, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the National Institutes of Health's infectious disease chief. (Associated Press)
Sen. Kennedy Flagged by No-Fly List U.S. Sen. Edward M. "Ted" Kennedy said yesterday that he was stopped and questioned at airports on the East Coast five times in March because his name appeared on the government's secret "no-fly" list.
Federal air security officials said the initial error that led to scrutiny of the Massachusetts Democrat should not have happened even though they recognize that the no-fly list is imperfect. But privately they acknowledged being embarrassed that it took the senator and his staff more than three weeks to get his name removed. (Washington Post)
Letter to Thomas Kean from Sibel Edmonds Your report has omitted any reference to this most serious issue, has forgone any accountability whatsoever, and your recommendations have refrained from addressing this issue, which when left unaddressed will have even more serious consequences. This issue is systemic and departmental. Why did your report choose to exclude this information and this serious issue despite the evidence and briefings you received? How can budget increases address and resolve this misconduct by mid-level bureaucratic management? How can the addition of a new bureaucratic layer, "intelligence czar", in its cocoon removed from the action lines, address and resolve this problem? (Asia Times)
Failures of the Sept. 11 Commission For all its somber-faced seriousness, the report of the Sept. 11 commission turns out to be a childlike explanation of what went so tragically wrong nearly three years ago. - "The whole name of the game is to exculpate anyone in the establishment," says McGovern, a 27-year veteran of the CIA and a member of a group of former agents called Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity. " 'Mistakes were made,' but no one is to blame. Why is it that after all this evidence and months and months of testimony, the commission found itself unable even to say if the attacks could have been prevented?" McGovern has no doubt they could have been. (Washington Post)
9/11 report: Key findings The US 9/11 commission's report has urged sweeping changes to how the intelligence services operate after finding that the government had "failed to protect American people" from the 11 September 2001 attacks.
Here are the key findings of the 576-page report: - Failure to confront -- The report charts how al-Qaeda was allowed to develop into a real danger to the US, concluding that while the attacks "were a shock... they should not have come as a surprise" (BBC)
Extract: 'We have some planes' The report from the bipartisan commission set up to investigate the 11 September 2001 terror attacks describes in detail how the hijackings unfolded, and what is known of the final moments on board the four flights - AMERICAN AIRLINES FLIGHT 11 FROM BOSTON TO LOS ANGELES
Among the travellers were Mohamed Atta and Abdul Aziz al-Omari, who arrived at the airport in Portland, Maine.
Atta and Omari boarded a 0600 flight from Portland to Boston's Logan International Airport.
When he checked in for his flight to Boston, Atta was selected by a computerised pre-screening system known as Capps (Computer Assisted Passenger Pre-screening System), created to identify passengers who should be subject to special security measures.
Under security rules in place at the time, the only consequence of Atta's selection by Capps was that his checked bags were held off the plane until it was confirmed that he had boarded the aircraft... (BBC)
In-flight cell phones 'worked great' in test The race is on to enable airline passengers to make and receive cell phone calls in flight.
Cell phone company Qualcomm (QCOM) has teamed with American Airlines (AMR) to develop satellite-based air-to-ground cellular service. Several smaller companies are working on rival systems. In-flight cell service could be introduced within two years and become commonplace within four, developers believe.
Last week, American and Qualcomm officials circled over West Texas in a jetliner making calls from their cell phones. The Federal Aviation Administration and the Federal Communications Commission authorized the flight to test the technology's safety and transmission quality. (USA Today)
The Gleam Team "Edwards had wowed the business and political elite at last month's Bilderberg conference in Italy, a secretive annual session where international business and political leaders discuss the state of the world" (Time Magazine)
A Deal for the Ozo 3 It was face-saving time last week when three members of the band Ozomatli agreed to plead no contest to class C misdemeanor charges in a deferred adjudication agreement with Travis Co. prosecutors (The Austin Chronicle)
The Truth About the Drug Companies Every day Americans are subjected to a barrage of advertising by the pharmaceutical industry. Mixed in with the pitches for a particular drug—usually featuring beautiful people enjoying themselves in the great outdoors—is a more general message. Boiled down to its essentials, it is this: “Yes, prescription drugs are expensive, but that shows how valuable they are. Besides, our research and development costs are enormous, and we need to cover them somehow. As ‘research-based’ companies, we turn out a steady stream of innovative medicines that lengthen life, enhance its quality, and avert more expensive medical care. You are the beneficiaries of this ongoing achievement of the American free enterprise system, so be grateful, quit whining, and pay up.” More prosaically, what the industry is saying is that you get what you pay for.
Is any of this true? Well, the first part certainly is. Prescription drug costs are indeed high—and rising fast. Americans now spend a staggering $200 billion a year on prescription drugs, and that figure is growing at a rate of about 12 percent a year (down from a high of 18 percent in 1999).1 Drugs are the fastest-growing part of the health care bill—which itself is rising at an alarming rate. The increase in drug spending reflects, in almost equal parts, the facts that people are taking a lot more drugs than they used to, that those drugs are more likely to be expensive new ones instead of older, cheaper ones, and that the prices of the most heavily prescribed drugs are routinely jacked up, sometimes several times a year.
Before its patent ran out, for example, the price of Schering-Plough’s top-selling allergy pill, Claritin, was raised thirteen times over five years, for a cumulative increase of more than 50 percent—over four times the rate of general inflation.2 As a spokeswoman for one company explained, “Price increases are not uncommon in the industry and this allows us to be able to invest in R&D.”3 In 2002, the average price of the fifty drugs most used by senior citizens was nearly $1,500 for a year’s supply. (Pricing varies greatly, but this refers to what the companies call the average wholesale price, which is usually pretty close to what an individual without insurance pays at the pharmacy.) - This is an industry that in some ways is like the Wizard of Oz—still full of bluster but now being exposed as something far different from its image. Instead of being an engine of innovation, it is a vast marketing machine. Instead of being a free market success story, it lives off government-funded research and monopoly rights. Yet this industry occupies an essential role in the American health care system, and it performs a valuable function, if not in discovering important new drugs at least in developing them and bringing them to market. But big pharma is extravagantly rewarded for its relatively modest functions. We get nowhere near our money’s worth. The United States can no longer afford it in its present form. (The New York Review of Books)
Microchips implanted in Mexican officials Attorney general, prosecutors carry security pass under their skin - Attorney General Rafael Macedo de la Concha and 160 of his employees were implanted at a cost to taxpayers of $150 for each rice grain-sized chip. More are scheduled to get "tagged" in coming months, and key members of the Mexican military, the police and the office of President Vicente Fox might follow suit, Aceves said. Fox's office did not immediately return a call seeking comment. (Associated Press)
Bilderberg 'performance' key to Edwards VP pick 'He reported back directly to Kerry' said participant in super-secret conference - Among the attendees from the U.S., according to a list obtained by WND, were Senators John Edwards, D-N.C. and Jon Corzine, D-N.J., Henry Kissinger, Richard Perle, Melinda Gates (wife of Bill Gates), David Rockefeller, Timothy F. Geithner, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Donald Graham, chairman and CEO of the Washington Post Company, and even Ralph Reed, former head of the Christian Coalition. (World Net Daily)
'We Never Got to a Short List', John Kerry VP pick Several people pointed to the secretive and exclusive Bilderberg conference of some 120 people that this year drew the likes of Henry A. Kissinger, Melinda Gates and Richard A. Perle to Stresa, Italy, in early June, as helping win Mr. Kerry's heart. Mr. Edwards spoke so well in a debate on American politics with the Republican Ralph Reed that participants broke Bilderberg rules to clap before the end of the session. Beforehand, Mr. Edwards traveled to Brussels to meet with NATO officials, brandishing his foreign-policy credentials. "His performance at Bilderberg was important," said a friend of Mr. Kerry who was there. "He reported back directly to Kerry. There were other reports on his performance. Whether they reported directly or indirectly, I have no doubt the word got back to Mr. Kerry about how well he did." (New York Times)
Kerry picks Gephardt Mo. rep to get Dem veep nod - Richard Gephardt, 63, a 28-year veteran of the House of Representatives, could be named by the presumptive Democratic nominee as the party's vice-presidential candidate as soon as today. (New York Post)
The Ties That Blind: How Reagan Armed Saddam with Chemical Weapons On August 18, 2002, the New York Times carried a front-page story headlined, "Officers say U.S. aided Iraq despite the use of gas". Quoting anonymous US "senior military officers", the NYT "revealed" that in the 1980s, the administration of US President Ronald Reagan covertly provided "critical battle planning assistance at a time when American intelligence knew that Iraqi commanders would employ chemical weapons in waging the decisive battles of the Iran-Iraq war". The story made a brief splash in the international media, then died.
While the August 18 NYT article added new details about the extent of US military collaboration with Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein during Iraq's 1980-88 war with Iran, it omitted the most outrageous aspect of the scandal: not only did Ronald Reagan's Washington turn a blind-eye to the Hussein regime's repeated use of chemical weapons against Iranian soldiers and Iraq's Kurdish minority, but the US helped Iraq develop its chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs.
Nor did the NYT dwell on the extreme cynicism and hypocrisy of President George Bush II's administration's citing of those same terrible atrocities--which were disregarded at the time by Washington--and those same weapons programs--which no longer exist, having been dismantled and destroyed in the decade following the 1991 Gulf War--to justify a massive new war against the people of Iraq.
A reader of the NYT article (or the tens of thousands of other articles written after the war drive against Iraq began in earnest soon after September 11, 2001) would have looked in vain for the fact that many of the US politicians and ruling class pundits who demanded war against Hussein--in particular, the one of the most bellicose of the Bush administration's "hawks", defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld--were up to their ears in Washington's efforts to cultivate, promote and excuse Hussein in the past. - "The US spent virtually an entire decade making sure that Saddam Hussein had almost whatever he wanted... US export control policy was directed by US foreign policy as formulated by the State Department, and it was US foreign policy to assist the regime of Saddam Hussein." -William Blum (Counter Punch)
GM Salmon Muscle In on Wild Fish When Food Is Scarce The advance of genetically modified crops and farm animals has opened up fears of ecological disaster if the engineered, or transgenic, organisms were to escape the confines of the farm. Assessing the environmental risk posed by transgenic populations requires an understanding of how they would compete with their wild counterparts under such circumstances. To that end, new laboratory research has found that wild salmon tend to experience reduced growth in the company of salmon engineered to attain a large body size. The presence of transgenic fish also increases the likelihood of population collapse when food is in short supply.
The study, published online today by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, involved growth hormone (GH) transgenic coho salmon, which have greater appetites and can grow up to seven times bigger than wild cohos. (Scientific American)
Where Big Brother Snoops on Americans 24/7 Customers of the Bank of America branch at 3625 Fairfax Drive in Arlington, Virginia, often wonder about the Arlington police car that is always parked in front of the building in the next block.
They also can’t help but notice the two armed guards from the private Cantwell Security Service who patrol the street in front of the building and eye each passerby warily.
“What’s going on across the street?” one woman asked while waiting in line to deposit her paycheck last Friday.
“Not sure,” said the man ahead of her in line. “Something to do with the government. The police cars and guards have been there since shortly after 9-11.”
“Oh,” she said. “No matter.”
Actually, if the woman knew what was happening inside the nondescript office building at 3701 Fairfax Drive, she might think it really does matter because the building houses the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Project Agency’s Total Information Awareness Program, the “big brother” program Congress thought it killed. (Capitol Hill Blue)
TRIPOD II and FEMA Lack of NORAD Response on 9/11 Explained - Since the Tripod II biowarfare exercise was a joint New York-Department of Justice exercise we now must ask: Prior to 9/11, under US government Executive Branch procedure, what part of the government or official was responsible for and had the authority to coordinate and act as liaison between the military, federal agencies and state and local agencies and private corporations so that they did not overlap or interfere with each other, or occupy enough essential assets at one time to jeopardize operational readiness or impair the national security of the United States? (From the Wilderness)
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