Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
October 01, 2005

Open Weekend Thread

News, views, opinions ...

Posted by b on October 1, 2005 at 7:49 UTC | Permalink


To the influenza discussion from the last Open Thread

Is it a flu pandemic really a threat or is it just a scheme supported by the WHO to sell useless drugs?

World Health Agency Tones Down Alarm on Possible Flu Pandemic

The World Health Organization moved Friday to drastically revise downward what it considered alarming predictions that a possible pandemic from the avian influenza virus ravaging parts of Asia could kill as many as 150 million people.

The health organization, a United Nations agency, was deluged with inquiries after Dr. David Nabarro, who was appointed Thursday as the United Nations coordinator for avian and human influenza, cited the 150 million estimate during a news conference.
"We're not going to know how lethal the next pandemic is going to be until the pandemic begins," the Geneva spokesman, Dick Thompson, said Friday. "You could pick almost any number" until then, he said, adding that the organization "can't be dragged into further scare-mongering."

Experts agree there will be another flu pandemic - in which a new human flu strain spreads globally - but it is unknown when it might happen or how bad it might be. It is also unknown whether the flu strain circulating among Asian poultry, known as H5N1, will be the origin of the next pandemic.

Posted by: b | Oct 1 2005 8:26 utc | 1

Recreating the Spanish flu?

US scientists led by a Pentagon pathologist recently began to genetically reconstruct this specifically dangerous 1918 influenza strain. In one experiment a partially reconstructed 1918 virus killed mice, while virus constructs with genes from a contemporary flu virus had hardly any effect.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Oct 1 2005 8:38 utc | 2

Buying of News by Bush's Aides Is Ruled Illegal

Federal auditors said on Friday that the Bush administration violated the law by buying favorable news coverage of President Bush's education policies, by making payments to the conservative commentator Armstrong Williams and by hiring a public relations company to analyze media perceptions of the Republican Party.

In a blistering report, the investigators, from the Government Accountability Office, said the administration had disseminated "covert propaganda" in the United States, in violation of a statutory ban.

Now what about "covert propaganda" outside the US?

Posted by: b | Oct 1 2005 8:40 utc | 3

There is a much bigger story behind this.

During the last weekends anti-war demonstrations in DC there was also a highly classified Granite Shadow "demonstration."

Today, somewhere in the DC metropolitan area, the military is conducting a highly classified Granite Shadow "demonstration."

Granite Shadow is yet another new Top Secret and compartmented operation related to the military’s extra-legal powers regarding weapons of mass destruction. It allows for emergency military operations in the United States without civilian supervision or control.

Then today we get this: Biohazard Sensors Triggered

Biohazard sensors showed the presence of small amounts of potentially dangerous tularemia bacteria in the Mall area last weekend as huge crowds assembled there, but health officials said they believed the levels were too low to be a threat.

Health authorities in the Washington area were notified yesterday that the bacteria were found in and near the area between the U.S. Capitol and the Lincoln Memorial, where crowds gathered Saturday for an antiwar rally and a book festival.
In nature, the bacteria are found in rodents and small animals, and "the working hypothesis" is that something in the environment got stirred up, D.C. Public Health Director Gregg A. Pane said.

But he said it was puzzling that the finding was from a day when the Mall was packed with people.

"Why that day? That's what is not explained," Pane said. "It was just this 24-hour period and none since."
The germ that causes tularemia is considered a biohazard because it is highly infectious and was tested in the 1960s by the United States as a biological weapon. The disease is treatable with antibiotics but, if left untreated, can be fatal.

Hmm - any ideas?

Posted by: b | Oct 1 2005 9:15 utc | 4

Just want to apply a little Occam's Razor to the Bush Adminstration. I challenge anyone to come up with a more likely scenario for their current behavior than this:
They are looting the fucking treasury of as much money as they can and destroying as many liberal programs as they can before being booted out of office. These "reconstruction" projects, which obviously won't be reconstructing anything in Iraq and New Orleans are merely fake contracts for front companies (Halliburton, Bechtel, etc.) for the mother of all money laundering schemes. When are Americans going to catch on?

Posted by: steve expat | Oct 1 2005 11:05 utc | 5


The Portuguese word "saudade", loosely translated,denotes "longing", "melancholy", or "nostalgia." In the context of Portuguese, however, the term connotes a meaning that is irrevocably lost in translation. In his book In Portugal of 1912, A.F.G Bell makes a few disquisitional remarks on the meaning of "saudade" given its intended context:

"The famous saudade of the Portuguese is a vague and constant desire for something that does not and probably cannot exist, for something other than the present, a turning towards the past or towards the future; not an active discontent or poignant sadness but an indolent dreaming wistfulness."

Whereas a decontextualized reading of the "saudade" insinuates a rather dreary and destitute nostalgia for an impossible object, Bell's recontextualization posits saudade's meaning as a nostalgic yearning for an impossible object, only slightly tinged with the hues of melancholia.

Finally, Saudade is something you feel about somebody or a special place. Maybe it is some kind ill erotographomania I get on bourbon filled lonely nights, that pains me to watch as my ideals of this country becomes what I fear. It is sad when we lose our illusions. The bottom drops out and leaves us disenchanted. When German movie director Wim Wenders wrote of America, in that, "America" always means two things: a country, geographically, the USA, and an idea of that country which goes with it. [The] "American Dream", then, is a dream of a country in a different country that is located where the dream takes place... "I want to be in America", the Jets sing, in that famous song from West Side Story. They are in America already and yet still wanting to get there. (Wim Wenders 1989, quoted in Morley 96, p. 94)., it make me want to weep. The dark night of the soul or chapel perilous, as it's sometimes know as, shouldn't be something one gets stuck in. The great W.H. Auden said "The so-called traumatic experience is not an accident, but the opportunity for which we all have been patiently waiting - had it not occurred, it would have found another- in order that life come a serious matter." "My American" now reads a death certificate. It presents itself now as a cautionary tale, as a list of ingredients in a witches' brew, it reads as a coroner's report, or a message on a sandwich-board worn by a wild-eyed man who states, "The end of the world is at hand." It is a hoarse voice in the dark that croaks, "Beware . . . beware . . . beware."

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Oct 1 2005 13:08 utc | 6

I have been wondering about Dr. Nabarro and his motives for making such a shocking statement concerning the avian flu pandemic. So I fired up Google and found a few things. Looking at the bio of Dr. Nabarro I see no links to big business, rather a career spent in public service.

He seems to have been focused on reducing disease in third world countries as evidenced in his discussion at a conference in Amsterdam

The only time I could find any ties with fear mongering was in a statement he made shortly after Sept 11, 2001 in a warning of bio weapons

He also describes his experience in Iraq when he was in the UN building that was bombed taking the life of many people including Sergio Vieira de Mello the U.N. special representative in Iraq.

I am as cynical as the next guy but just don't see Nabarro as anything other than honest..... and that scares me a just a little bit.

Posted by: dan of steele | Oct 1 2005 13:19 utc | 7

Shadow-World: The Coup is Nearing Completion

Republicans on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence want to strip from the CIA its primary role as manager of overseas collection of human intelligence, suggesting that Director of National Intelligence John D. Negroponte take over that responsibility.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Oct 1 2005 14:27 utc | 8

The germ that causes tularemia is considered a biohazard because it is highly infectious and was tested in the 1960s by the United States as a biological weapon. The disease is treatable with antibiotics but, if left untreated, can be fatal.

Hmm - any ideas?

Ah, Just a few lowly bad apples at the bottom of the barrel, doing some unauthorized germ warfare testing?

Posted by: | Oct 1 2005 15:02 utc | 9

any ideas?

triggering">">triggering state of emergency???

Pentagon bulk buy of Sterne strain anthrax bacteria. It is not particularly lethal strain and is even used to immunize animals but it would take a lot of time to distinguish from a virulent strain. In the meantime state of emergency would be declared.

Posted by: eftsoons | Oct 1 2005 15:19 utc | 10

to clarify the above --

If some of that strain should manage to get loose: many detectors don't distinguish between anthrax bacillus other Bacillus species much less between STRAINS of B. anthracis. It would create major panic, probably a few people would die as a result of the stress, a few others as a result to lowered susceptibility .... etc., etc. ... Granite Shadow ... etc., etc.

Posted by: eftsoons | Oct 1 2005 15:29 utc | 11



Posted by: eftsoons | Oct 1 2005 15:35 utc | 12

This (see below) interesting post sure fell of the board quit over at CIA, uh, er, I mean kos.

FEMA in WI: If you weren't pissed off enough

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Oct 1 2005 15:47 utc | 13

A CI agent/interrogator's story:

How I Learned to Hate the War


are not fighting for freedom,
ours or the Iraqis. We are not
protecting America. We are not
avenging September 11th. I don’t
really know what we are
doing. . . . Whatever we are doing,
we are doing it so clumsily and
stupidly and unprofessionally
that it has no possibility of success.
The elections, yes, they
were beautiful to see and feel,
but that was one day in two years
of small scale atrocities.”


The sacrifices made by his and
other soldiers’ families are too
great, Jake believes, because they
were ultimately pointless. He’s
decided to sever his ties with the
army when his national guard
contract expires on October 31.
“I feel really betrayed by the military,”
he says. “I don’t want to be
part of this organization anymore.”

Posted by: Pat | Oct 1 2005 16:11 utc | 14

good to see you again Pat

Posted by: dan of steele | Oct 1 2005 16:19 utc | 15

Their goal is to destroy the National Guard.

Posted by: eftsoons | Oct 1 2005 16:21 utc | 16

OK B? ANYONE? This (see below)spooked the shit out of me this AM , paranoid? You bet. Nixon was paranoid, not anti-Semitic as they say, but kissinger said if your not paranoid after spending time in Washington the your a fool. After posting
some of the links here w/regards to the Biohazard Sensors Triggered story as well as pointing to some other info I have on my website I got the following:

Domain Name ? (Military)
IP Address 140.139.35.# (HQ US Army Medical Research and Development Comman)
ISP HQ US Army Medical Research and Development Comman
Continent : North America
Country : United States (Facts)
State : Maryland
City : Frederick
Lat/Long : 39.4926, -77.4612 (Map)
Language English (United States)
Operating System Microsoft Win2000
Browser Internet Explorer 6.0
Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.0)
Javascript version 1.3
Resolution : 1024 x 768
Color Depth : 16 bits
Time of Visit Sep 30 2005 10:46:18 am
Last Page View Sep 30 2005 10:46:18 am
Visit Length 0 seconds
Page Views 1
Referring URL
Visit Entry Page
Visit Exit Page
Time Zone UTC-5:00
EST - Eastern Standard
EDT - Eastern Daylight Saving Time
Visitor's Time Sep 30 2005 10:46:18 am
Visit Number 10,889

on my site meter do you also have a visit in your server records b? Can we compare and contrast?

Posted by: Uncle $can | Oct 1 2005 16:36 utc | 17

Col. Pat Lang has made public his paper on the way to the Iraq war. He describes the responsible people, the organizing of the stovepiping of false intelligence and the web inbetween. It's a 31 page PDF paper and a good history lesson for us and our children.

Drinking the Kool-Aid (PDF)

Posted by: b | Oct 1 2005 16:45 utc | 18

April 11, 2005
Al Qaeda Preparing for Another Attack in U.S., WMD Use Probable
Defense Officials Cite New Intelligence, New WMD-detecting Technologies Revealed

"Our greatest concern is that these groups might acquire biological agents or less likely, a nuclear device, either of which could cause mass casualties.”

Biological agents? You mean like 'mislabeled' anthrax/tularemia/flu/ virus?

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Oct 1 2005 16:47 utc | 19

@Uncle - 12:36 - I don´t have access to the weblogs through typepad. But through sitemeter I see some regular access from mil-sites which is fine with me.

I am sure folks "interested" in specific discussion will spider around the web for such stuff. I just don´t care about them.

Posted by: b | Oct 1 2005 17:02 utc | 20

Thanks for that link Pat. A really sad story.

Posted by: b | Oct 1 2005 17:40 utc | 21

Even more to read. From The Guardian

an edited extract from Iraq Confidential: The Untold Story of America's Intelligence Conspiracy, by Scott Ritter, with foreword by Seymour Hersh, published by IB Tauris

The coup that wasn't

While Unscom 150 was parked out front of the Special Republican Guard facilities, the CIA station in Amman was desperately trying to contact the ringleaders of the coup in Baghdad. But their entire network was silent. It was as if they had disappeared off the face of the earth. In reality, Saddam's intelligence service had so thoroughly infiltrated the plot that there wasn't a single CIA-controlled asset left in Iraq who had not been arrested by the Mukhabarat.
The ramifications of the collapsed coup had yet to sink in. Any remaining hopes within the CIA were quashed when, on June 26, the Agency's Amman station allegedly received a transmission from one of their secure satellite phones. On the line was the Mukhabarat, who told astonished CIA agents that the game was up. Within days the CIA team in Amman vanished. The US had witnessed a covert action fiasco of a kind not seen since the Bay of Pigs in 1961. Saddam's security services had rounded up more than 800 suspected plotters, most of whom were tortured and executed.
Inside the folder I was handed was a lengthy report, classified top secret, and containing several US codewords I was familiar with. The subject line read: "UN COMMUNICATIONS INTERCEPT OPERATION UP AND RUNNING IN BAGHDAD." I glanced down at the list of addressees. This document had been sent around the world, to every embassy and military headquarters the US maintained. This was more than just giving people a heads-up about our SCE operation. This was blowing its cover to smithereens.

"The Yanks seemed to have sent it everywhere except Tariq Aziz's own office," remarked a Ministry of Defence official.

Very few people in London knew about the operation. And now all the details, including the real names of the personnel involved, had been broadcast around the world. "We would like your opinion on this matter," said the director.
Whether done on purpose or accident, the American publication of the sensitive details of a covert British intelligence operation, operating under Unscom cover, was an incomprehensible act. The US had killed the SCE, so now we had nothing specific to go on. We needed high-quality intelligence, without which weapons inspections were going nowhere. I had tried my best to develop sources of information, but had been sabotaged by the CIA.

The failed June 1996 coup attempt had largely been determined by domestic American political considerations. Like President George HW Bush before him, Clinton and his political handlers were sensitive to public perception in a presidential election year. This shaped both the coup's mission (get Saddam) and its timing (early summer, before the Republicans had nailed down their candidate). Not only was the 1996 plot chiefly a "wag the dog" scenario, but once again, any chance of Iraq disarming under UN supervision had been cynically undermined by the larger US objective of regime change

Posted by: b | Oct 1 2005 18:05 utc | 22

Their goal is to destroy the National Guard.

Posted by: eftsoons | Oct 1, 2005 12:21:55 PM | #

If only that were all.

Posted by: Pat | Oct 1 2005 19:27 utc | 23

Pat, would you treat us to an elaboration of the above?

Posted by: jj | Oct 1 2005 19:30 utc | 24

Re Dr. Nabarro's shocking statement that a worldwide flu pandemic might kill as many as 150 million people -

He got that number by using an estimate of the number of people worldwide killed by the 1918 flu pandemic (50 million - other sources estimate 60 to perhaps 100 million) and multiplying it by three, to reflect the population growth since then

Other changes since then that might affect what happens: worldwide air travel will spread the disease quicker, and a much higher percentage of the world's population lives in urban areas. The countervailing advance of medical technology might not be so useful since the hospitals would probably be full pretty quickly if a flu pandemic happens

As to why he said it - presumably to get across the idea that this is a situation that needs to be taken seriously

The H5N1 virus goes from bird to bird very easily - from bird to person with difficulty - from person to person with even more difficulty - but because viruses are always mutating this could change, in a potentially disastrous way, sooner or later - that's what the fuss is about

Posted by: mistah charley | Oct 1 2005 20:58 utc | 25

Rare good news - looks like Prez. Cheney's getting tied in w/Plame it depends on how much Scooter lies to protect him.

In today’s New York Times an anonymous source reveals that Cheney was directly involved in the strategy to discredit former ambassador Joe Wilson:

Not that this is even a down-payment of his endless treasonous acts against the Republic...

Posted by: jj | Oct 1 2005 21:01 utc | 26

"Pat, would you treat us to an elaboration of the above?"

Do I need to?

Posted by: Patf | Oct 1 2005 21:17 utc | 27

"I preach not contentedness, but more power; not peace, but war; not virtue, but efficiency. The weak and defective shall perish, and they shall be given assistance: that is the first principle of the dionysian charity."

Posted by: Pat | Oct 1 2005 21:28 utc | 28

A NYT anonymous source ... ?

It wasn't a highly placed White House official, was it?

Posted by: eftsoons | Oct 1 2005 21:38 utc | 29

@eftsoons, say w/initials KR?

Perhaps, but I think elite across the spectrum want to see Pres. Cheney replaced w/Prez. McCain, so candidates are prob. numerous.

We know that Cheney's "body" is now producing plenty of blood clots; that Huffington's ragsheet reported that Cheney'd had enough of Diaper Changing for The Pathetic One; followed by Pathetic One's trip to Az. to meet w/McReactionary. Then Hurricane Toto delayed, but only strengthened case for putsch/swap to regenerate credibility.

As far as across the board elite consensus in favor of McReactionary - a Very Liberal VIP Dem. in Ca. publicly stated, after theft of '04 election, that he'd like JackAss Party to run McReactionary in '08. This from a guy who sounded like re-incarnation of FDR.

Posted by: jj | Oct 1 2005 21:53 utc | 30

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Oct 1 2005 23:00 utc | 31

Also, w/regards to your reply to my seemingly feverish post, I get millitary hits all the time, on my site, only never one so swift and w/ the moniker of (HQ US Army Medical Research and Development Comman)

Ok, Uncle, 'fess up. What's your site?

Posted by: jj | Oct 1 2005 23:08 utc | 32

It's Sunday morning here and I'm just deciding whether it is possible to choose between feeling depressed or angry. Since they're two sides of the same coin and are negative emotions I really should choose neither but we don't want to keep those emotions bottled up to hop out at a more inappropriate time now do we.

Last night some organisation or another exploded 3 bombs on Bali. I'm not in a conspiracy sort of a mood so I'm going to assume that the motive was some sort of jihadist thing.

Normally when these atrocities happen I am appalled at the mutilation and loss of life but a part of me recognises the role that the victims' societies had in fertilizing the soil that the violence sprouted from.

I can't comprehend why people would choose to live a decadent lifestyle, albeit on a vacation, when in the midst of an ascetic community.

The hotel bombings in Egypt were a classic example of this. Why would anyone go to an Islam country to lounge semi-naked by a pool sipping cocktails?

Even when the first Bali bombings occured although I found the deaths of the nightclub staff unconsionable I also considered that even when I was at the young age of many of these Aussie ,Kiwi, US and European kids I wouldn't have understood why anyone would fly thousands of kilometres to somewhere and then want to spend time in a place that the people in the community you were visiting were barred from.

I gave up staying in Western hotels in Bali many, many years ago because although I used to get full of righteous indignation when 'security' would try and prevent my friends from visiting me, my friends (Balinese locals) were hugely embarrassed for their impotence in their own country to be so grossly displayed to a foreigner.

It looks as though these bombs which were planted in areas frequented by Balinese as well as tourists have claimed as many if not more Balinese lives than tourists.

Somehow this strikes me as the ultimate imperialism. As bad as anything the US/UK is doing in Iraq or the French in Polynesia.

The Hindu culture of Bali has existed for centuries even millenia before the first Arab spice traders turned up in the Indonesian archipeligo bringing Islam with them.

Their innate hospitality and ethos of everyday is a cause for celebration, combined with a breathtaking landscape, made the island desirable for tourists since Hollywood stars first began visiting in the '30s. However they have received little direct benefit from that tourism.

The island's economy has been controlled by the Dutch, the Japanese, then after WW2 the Chinese merchant class until the Javanese under Suharto inspired and resourced a pogrom against the Chinese.

Once they had been driven out in the most foul manner possible, the island was split up amongst the ruling families of Java rather like Las Vegas was split amongst mob families in the 60's.

All the really great bits of land were seized by the Javanese in a technique not dissimilar to the Israeli 'settlement' building on the West Bank. That is Bali is meant to be an 'independent' province but although the civil police are administered from Balinese capital Denpassar. the real authority is in the hands of the military the head of which is rotated through from Jakarta (the Javanese/Indonesian capital).

The Transmigration programs whereby Javanese deemed 'anti-social' by the Jakarta authorities are offered one last chance and a piece of land on a minority island if they join the island's militia has populated Bali with some murderous scum just as it with Timor.

Few if any of the soldiers are native Balinese. No doubt if Balinese are in the military they are sent to Flores or West Irian to repress those islands' populations.

So not only have the Balinese had to suffer the worst effects of tourism: destruction of their landscape, pollution, drug addiction and prostitution. They have received no real material benefit and now some Javanese have decided that westerners are the 'enemy' the Balinese are being punished for having westerners on their island when the whole deal was put forward by other Javanese who wanted the rewards of tourism without having their own way of life destroyed!

The arrogance of the Javanese doing these bombings in Bali is beyond belief.

Within Indonesia Muslim Fundamentalism was usually just an expression of nationalism by a subjugated people who had previously turned to marxism to provide an ideological basis for their resistance. The end of the Soviet Union and the corruption of R.O.C. has put paid to the Marxist philosophy so many of the islands that had been converted from animism to Islam used Islam to express themselves.

Generally fighting took place on the island concerned and was between the locals and the Javanese army. When central government was pushing secularism, the Army completely massacred villages and used more Israeli techniques to identify, isolate, and assassinate the resistance leadership.

Now Muslim fundamentalism has been co-opted by the Javanese colonists and is being used by them to repress non-Muslim populations.

Translated this means that in the past a 'Muslim Fundamentalist' could look forward to a long and painful death. Now it means a light prison sentence and hero status within the Javanese community.

Of course the Javanese people who occupy the most densely populated piece of real estate on this planet of ours are just serving as pawns in the ruling families enterprises, much like the Russian refuseniks who tried to leave the USSR for the US were co-opted by the Israeli imperialists.

Posted by: Debs is dead | Oct 1 2005 23:42 utc | 33>Richard Perle now also running from Fitzgeralds flashlight of enlightenment, according to firedoglake blog. Will have to rethink the proposition of building more prisons.

Posted by: anna missed | Oct 2 2005 1:44 utc | 34

just over half way down the scroll

Posted by: anna missed | Oct 2 2005 1:45 utc | 35

Margaret Atwood Meets (S.) Dali on a Flatbed Scanner

Posted by: jj | Oct 2 2005 4:39 utc | 36

jj- on the cheney news - maybe there's something to wayne madsen's friday speculation that libby might have been flipped too, like his deputy

Posted by: b real | Oct 2 2005 4:42 utc | 37

After posting
some of the links here w/regards to the Biohazard Sensors Triggered story as well as pointing to some other info I have on my website I got the following . . . on my site meter.

That's why I don't have a site meter on my blog: I don't even want to know who's keeping tabs.

Posted by: Billmon | Oct 2 2005 4:56 utc | 38

The Flu Thing

The Christchurch Press (largest circulation daily on the South Island down here in NZ) devoted the fourth section in its weekend edition to Avian Flu. The front page of the section was a tall white on black headline "FACING THE FLU" and half page closeup of a very evil looking chicken. They seem to be taking it very seriously, although one article surveys the various arguments why fears may be overblown (and suggests hitting Google for "flu hysteria".

Some tidbits (sorry no online link):

The director of public health, Mark Jacobs, describes it as "potentially the country's most serious crisis". Minimising the spread of the virus will be critical. It is likely that all but the most seriously ill will be asked to stay at home. Public events will be cancelled and childcare facilities, schools, and tertiary institutions closed. The public will be advised against unnecessary travel.

The Health Ministry has already committed $26 million to buy 835,000 doses of Tamiflu, enough for one in five New Zealanders. Health workers and other essential staff are likely to be first in line.

Authorities say that households should have a survival kit, similar to those for other civil disasters, including measures to cope if essential services are affected. "We need to think about a pandemic the same way we think about earthquakes and floods. We need to be ready," Jacobs says. The kit should contain: At least two weeks supply of water. Two weeks supply of canned or dry food (and a can opener). A battery-powered radio with spare batteries. A first-aid kit. Protective clothing including gloves and face masks. Paracetamol to reduce fevers. Warm clothing and sleeping bags.

Depending on the severity, a pandemic could hit in as many as three waves of up to six weeks each over the course of almost a year.

Under a model developed in the US, an H5N1 outbreak among New Zealand's 4.1 million population would result in: Between 1600 and 3700 deaths. Between 6900 and 15,200 people requiring hospitalisation. Between 325,000 and 759,000 requiring a doctor's consultation. During the peak week of an eight-week pandemic wave, 35% of the population would be infected... "The truth is it could be worse, it could be better, we just don't know."

Compared to the 1918 pandemic which killed 8250 New Zealanders (745 per 100,000), the model shows a worst-case scenario H5N1 pandemic in New Zealand would kill 91 people per 100,000, or about 3700 in total. New Zealand's normal death rate is about 28,000 Kiwis dying each year, of all causes [with leading causes being] cancer (7810 deaths a year), heart disease (7618 deaths), road toll (435 deaths), diabetes (782 deaths).

The whole thing still sort of reminds me of the Y2K crisis. Just in case, I've tested Malooga's celery and grapefruit thing, and things will have to be pretty dire before I go that route again.

Posted by: PeeDee | Oct 2 2005 5:41 utc | 39

Posted by: | Oct 2 2005 6:10 utc | 40

Speaking of bombs...Campaign to reinstate the draft/bomb Iran underway?

Apparent suicide bomb kills one outside OU stadium

Posted by: jj | Oct 2 2005 6:16 utc | 41

Reading Mr. Bennet's modest proposal about aborting black babies to reduce drime, I am reminded of the growing problem of white-collar corporate crime and tax evasion. Seems the best way to combat this drain on America's resources would be to abort all upper middle-class fetuses.

Posted by: ralphieboy | Oct 2 2005 6:18 utc | 42

A sad society:

To More Inmates, Life Term Means Dying Behind Bars

Indeed, in just the last 30 years, the United States has created something never before seen in its history and unheard of around the globe: a booming population of prisoners whose only way out of prison is likely to be inside a coffin.

A survey by The New York Times found that about 132,000 of the nation's prisoners, or almost 1 in 10, are serving life sentences. The number of lifers has almost doubled in the last decade, far outpacing the overall growth in the prison population.

Posted by: b | Oct 2 2005 8:17 utc | 43

Role of Rove, Libby in CIA Leak Case ClearerBut a new theory about Fitzgerald's aim has emerged in recent weeks from two lawyers who have had extensive conversations with the prosecutor while representing witnesses in the case. They surmise that Fitzgerald is considering whether he can bring charges of a criminal conspiracy perpetrated by a group of senior Bush administration officials. Under this legal tactic, Fitzgerald would attempt to establish that at least two or more officials agreed to take affirmative steps to discredit and retaliate against Wilson and leak sensitive government information about his wife. To prove a criminal conspiracy, the actions need not have been criminal, but conspirators must have had a criminal purpose.

Posted by: b | Oct 2 2005 8:22 utc | 44

music to my ears

Posted by: annie | Oct 2 2005 8:43 utc | 45

A survey by The New York Times found that about 132,000 of the nation's prisoners, or almost 1 in 10, are serving life sentences. The number of lifers has almost doubled in the last decade, far outpacing the overall growth in the prison population.

Well, at least this will help to keep the unemployment numbers down!

Posted by: Fran | Oct 2 2005 9:49 utc | 46

"They surmise that Fitzgerald is considering whether he can bring charges of a criminal conspiracy perpetrated by a group of senior Bush administration officials."

The thing that concerns me about this line of reasoning is that we may be making the same old error again.

That is Rove & Libby = BAD :. Fitzgerald = GOOD

Call me cynical but I find it difficult to believe that anyone much less a self confessed republican lawyer such as Fitzgerald could rise to his level of prosecutor in the US Justice department and still have a white charger stabled out back.

I can see where the attraction in thinking that is. It would make the W demise follow the Nixon fall from grace more closely, as in:

Vietnam = Iraq

Tricky = W

Jaworski = Fitzgerald

Not only does history not usually follow this sort of parallel, this whole rationale is much the same as trying to end the Iraq war by marching down the street carrying placards. That is we are using the techniques that were successful in the last war to fight a new war and that is rarely successful.

The reason is simple. People including those we despise as 'enemies' do learn. In most cases attempts to turn out a anti-Vietnam like mobilisation against the Iraqi war have been countered by BushCo talking directly to the population through a co-opted media. BushCo knew what was coming and countered it.

BushCo will have defensive strategies set to roll out even if most of the Whitehouse crew end up indicted for criminal conspiracy.

And I don't mean good defence lawyers. If the indictments end up being proven they will do what they always do and ignore the law and use the media to sell that unconstitutional behaviour to enough of the public to prevent much happening.

BushCo won't resign. Current polls show that this administration is held in about the same esteem as Nixon's was when he pulled the pin. These guys have always made it plain they aren't in the business for the kudos. Sure they're nice if you can get 'em but they will live without kudos if it means they can keep their paws in the drawer, snouts in the trough.

I'm not trying to sound defeatist here. These guys can be beaten like an old persian rug but it will require the sort of original thinking that has been so lacking in the last 5 years.

Even in the unlikely circumstance Fitzgerald is a 'stand up guy' can we really trust any of the corpulent hacks on the other side of the house to follow through enough to cause any real problems for BushCo? Not forgetting any real move will also require number of GOP legislators to go against their president.

This is a mob who know where every body is buried around a corrupt institution with more skeletons in the closet than the Medicis.

I just can't see this mob going that easily. As in with a whimper, as one of their own stitches them up while the rest of us sit on the sidelines narrating every nuance.

Posted by: Debs is dead | Oct 2 2005 9:56 utc | 47

A survey by The New York Times found that about 132,000 of the nation's prisoners, or almost 1 in 10, are serving life sentences. The number of lifers has almost doubled in the last decade, far outpacing the overall growth in the prison population.
Well, at least this will help to keep the unemployment numbers down!
Posted by: Fran | Oct 2, 2005 5:49:31 AM | #

Doesn't the US treat it's prison population as slave labour for for profit companies?

Posted by: edwin | Oct 2 2005 12:38 utc | 48

Predicting Pandemic Flu Fatalities

PeeDee quotes from the Christchurch Press:

Under a model developed in the US, an H5N1 outbreak among New Zealand's 4.1 million population would result in: Between 1600 and 3700 deaths. Between 6900 and 15,200 people requiring hospitalisation. Between 325,000 and 759,000 requiring a doctor's consultation. During the peak week of an eight-week pandemic wave, 35% of the population would be infected... "The truth is it could be worse, it could be better, we just don't know."

Compared to the 1918 pandemic which killed 8250 New Zealanders (745 per 100,000), the model shows a worst-case scenario H5N1 pandemic in New Zealand would kill 91 people per 100,000, or about 3700 in total. New Zealand's normal death rate is about 28,000 Kiwis dying each year, of all causes [with leading causes being] cancer (7810 deaths a year), heart disease (7618 deaths), road toll (435 deaths), diabetes (782 deaths).

A couple points

a)nobody really knows what kind of fatalities will result from a flu pandemic - it could be relatively mild, like two of the three pandemics of the twentieth century, or it could worse, but not as bad as the 1918 episode - or it might even be worse

b)to then make a model which describes a "worst case scenario" as resulting in fatalities at a rate of one-eighth of those observed in 1918 is irresponsible, to put it mildly - this model comes from the U.S., not from the New Zealand authorities, and I hope someone will call the attention of the latter to the fact that it is not always prudent to take the word of the U.S. government about what is likely to happen

Posted by: mistah charley | Oct 2 2005 14:45 utc | 49

I don't watch tv, but someone on non-comm. radio just said that Geo. Step...(however you spell it) hinted on tv this am that Wittle Prick & Prez. Cheney were party to THE conversations re Plame etc. (Was JM protecting the latter? That's really treason.) ....Could we be so lucky...Have another drink Georgie...

Posted by: jj | Oct 2 2005 18:23 utc | 50

@edwin - Doesn't the US treat it's prison population as slave labour for for profit companies?

That's one point but not even the worst on. Prisions are run as enterprises, not as state facilities. With this there is a vested interests to keep them filled and to expand the business by filling more of them.

Just like mercenary business always tends to create more war and thereby more need for mercenaries the US prison system creates (through business political power) more prisoners.

When states hand up their central functions to business rules, that is what you get.

Posted by: b | Oct 2 2005 18:43 utc | 51

@jj - ABC "This Week" had this

Definitely a political problem but I wonder, George Will, do you think it’s a manageable one for the White House especially if we don’t know whether Fitzgerald is going to write a report or have indictments but if he is able to show as a source close to this told me this week, that President Bush and Vice President Cheney were actually involved in some of these discussions.
If, and thats a big one, Fitzgerald really wants to screw the White House he will file conspiracy charges up and including the president and the VP. But that is a big strech. He may end up doing nothing at all but to close and seal the case.

Posted by: b | Oct 2 2005 18:46 utc | 52

Has it begun?

Mystery respiratory outbreak in Toronto: 73 sick, 4 dead.

Yesterday the media quickly snapped up assurances
[video] that ruled out influenza or SARS. Said officials, "We can certainly reassure people that this is not SARS, um, there is no SARS in the world ... Can I give you a guarantee that it's not influenza, at this time not, in a few hours, probably ... as the day goes on the public health lab has more and more results." A day has passed with no word on these tests. Affected areas are reportedly quarantined, and some Internet communities are growing alarmed over the contradictions at yesterday's press conference.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Oct 2 2005 18:48 utc | 53

We've said all along THEY will Do Anything to hold onto power...Scary Times...except Cheney seems burned out in every possible way...It's worth noting that they've already rounded up Repugs top Extortionist, & Top Pigs (dogs are evolution's high point) DeLay & Frist in Congress...

Could be some Elite Co-ordination going on across the seas:

Lack of political leadership from Tony Blair is putting British troops at risk in Iraq, according to a former commander of the British invasion force. Britain could lose the war against Iraqi insurgents and risks being driven into neighbouring Iran.


"We didn't have a plan to remove the Baathist regime. We created a vacuum in which the insurgency thrived. We are now living with the consequences of that mistake. And we are compounding the mistake by not giving any direction. We could pay a price for this [with] the Army being chased over the border into Iran," he warned.

"It's pointless having armies deployed overseas unless there's prudent counsel at home. There appears to be no prudent counsel. The only thing on the political agenda here in the UK seems to be the spat between Tony Blair and Gordon Brown."
Colonel blames Blair over Iraq 'catastrophe'

Posted by: jj | Oct 2 2005 19:39 utc | 54

The British Army seeking safe haven in Iran? Now that would require some explaning, would'nt it. Oh.... man.

Posted by: anna missed | Oct 2 2005 20:00 utc | 55

The Neocon Empire Wants You

At TPM Cafe (

"Bill Kristol, Robert Kagan, Gary Schmitt and other members of PNAC (the Project for a New American Century) are creating a new club called 'Committee for a Strong Europe.' They just began inviting politicians and pundits from both side of the Atlantic to join. The honorary chairmen will be the former Spanish prime minister José Maria Aznar and Senator John McCain..."

From the link provided at TPM Cafe:

We, Europeans and Americans committed to the defense and promotion of freedom in a dangerous world, have come together to create The Committee for a Strong Europe. Our belief is that a Europe whose foreign policy is strategically sound and morally grounded, and whose nations are strong economically and militarily, can be a responsible and important actor on the world stage. The United States has a deep and abiding interest in a strong, capable, and independent Europe able to wield significant influence around the globe. Our conviction is that a strong Europe can act effectively in concert with the United States to deal with the threats we face, and to take advantage of the opportunities we share to expand freedom around the globe and to shape a world in which liberal and democratic principles flourish.

Guiding Principles of The Committee For A Strong Europe

- We believe that the desire for freedom is universal--unbounded by culture, religion or geography.

- We believe that a strong partnership between the United States and Europe is crucial to the defense and promotion of freedom for all nations.

- We believe both Europe and the United States must have strong and free economies that encourage entrepreneurship and individual initiative and responsibility.

- We believe both the United States and Europe should invest adequately in their armed forces so as to have strong militaries capable of serving in a wide variety of missions around the world.

- We believe that all free nations must fight terrorism and adopt policies that challenge states that harbor or support terrorists.

- We believe that all free nations have an obligation to aid those living in tyranny, and that regimes that subjugate their own people at home will not be reliable friends and allies.

Europe’s strength today risks being undermined by a lack of strategic clarity, by the threat of economic stagnation, and by declining military strength. This is not in Europe’s interest, nor that of the United States. Our goal is a United States that works with Europe, and a Europe that works with the United States.

There is no doubt that the United States and Europe face major challenges today and in the years to come. But with a Europe animated by a clear sense of resolve, and a United States committed to working in genuine partnership with its European allies, the cause of liberty can prevail. We intend to work together to help it do so.

Posted by: Pat | Oct 2 2005 20:29 utc | 56

Well, anna missed, the retreat is the prefered action right now.

As NOT reported in the US: British hand over control of Basra

British forces have handed over their main base in the city of Basra to the Iraqi military to allow it to take over the main security duties there.
British troops moved to a base 18 miles outside Basra to be able to intervene in a crisis.

It was the third southern city to be handed over to Iraqi forces in the space of a month following the US transfer of security control in the cities of Karbala and Najaf.

From a strategic point of view the British gave up the control over one of the few logistic routes into Iraq. I am sure soem US generals are sweeting over this.

Posted by: b | Oct 2 2005 20:30 utc | 57

@Pat - I did read that too, but I didn´t find any confirming source. That TPM Cafe post links to a french blog which links to itself.

That could be real, but could be satire too.

Posted by: b | Oct 2 2005 20:32 utc | 58

I am reminded of the growing problem of white-collar corporate crime and tax evasion. Seems the best way to combat this drain on America's resources would be to abort all upper middle-class fetuses.

That would be an impossible, ridiculous, and morally reprehensible thing to do, but yes, our white collar crime rate probably would go down.

Posted by: Billmon | Oct 2 2005 20:41 utc | 59

@Uncle $cam, re: Toronto Outbreak:

Until they figure out what is actually happening, there’s nothing that can be done. It sounds like they have eliminated both avian flu and regular flu as possibilities, so if this is a pandemic starting it’s a different one from the one everyone is ready for... which could make it all that much worse.

On the other hand, given that all the cases seem to come from a nursing home, it might be an iatrogenic disease, in which case it’s not a threat to anyone who isn’t in a nursing home. It could potentially even be a chemical contamination, rather than a virus, since they haven’t isolated the virus yet. (There’s an interesting writeup of one in Harold Klawans’ Trials of an Expert Witness, chapter seven. The problem caused brain damage and death in newborn children at a hospital, and at first they were given antibiotics until it became evident that the cause had to be something toxic in the nursery; it turned out that the hospital was using a detergent in the laundry which was known to be great for sterilization, but extremely dangerous to children.) We can only wait and see.

One thing to note: if this were flu of any type, that would have been admitted by now. Influenza is a disease for which there are ameliorating drugs and general courses of treatment. Trying to deny its presence would be like, say, denying that you just broke your leg—the only effect is to prevent you from getting the help you need.

Posted by: The Truth Gets Vicious When You Corner It | Oct 2 2005 20:46 utc | 60

b, it could be a fabrication, one completely faithful to PNAC language and goals. The idea of promoting an enduring neocon opposition/alliance in Europe makes sense from a PNAC point of view, and is reminiscent of, though more ominous than, AEI's New Atlantic Initiative (of which Anzar, for instance, is also a charter member). Looking at the 'Stronger Europe' statement of principles, it falls in line nicely with unabashed American imperial grandiosity:

'Universal Democracy' Is the Goal As Congress Eyes New Legislation

By ELI LAKE - Staff Reporter of the Sun
July 27, 2005

WASHINGTON - When senators return to Washington this September, they will be set to consider new legislation that would commit America to ending tyranny the world over.

Tucked inside the House version of a bill that authorizes spending on foreign aid is the language of what is known as the ADVANCE Democracy Act. The act instructs American ambassadors and embassy staffs to draw up democracy transition plans for unfree regimes, with input from nonviolent opposition movements in the various countries. While Congress has passed laws that require America to work with democratic opposition groups for specific countries - such as the 1998 Iraq Liberation Act - never before has it considered a law that would, as ADVANCE proposes, "commit United States foreign policy to the challenge of achieving universal democracy."

Posted by: | Oct 2 2005 21:17 utc | 61

The above is mine.

Posted by: Pat | Oct 2 2005 21:18 utc | 62

And speaking of AEI, from Michael Rubin's article "The Future of Iraq: Democracy, Civil War, or Chaos":

"Democracy need not be forever a foreign concept in the Arab (and Kurdish) world. Culturally, Arabs are as capable of democracy as were Germans, Japanese, and Koreans. If Bush holds true to democracy as a goal in Iraq, though, his administration should accept that Iraqis may pursue some policies which contradict the desires of the U.S. foreign policy elite. Washington should not seek to impose re-Ba'thification or interfere in internal Iraqi purges of insurgents and their sympathizers. The complaints of outside parties like King Abdullah II are irrelevant; he is not Iraqi. Defeating the insurgency can be tough; it may require a decade. But if U.S. policymakers listen to the Iraqis, the future can be bright."

"...internal Iraqi purges of insurgents and their sympathizers"

That's pretty straightforward.

Posted by: Pat | Oct 2 2005 22:48 utc | 63

sometimes i feel as if we are living in the inside of a painting by goya or some illustration by wm blake

how clearly they saw what tyranny was & remains. their work possesses more truth today than it did at the time it was done.

reading wm blake this week - the eerieness of reading a poet who they claim was mad saw so clearly where we are & what we are about to be

one of the ironies of the 'heart of darkness' thread is that it is we who are the savages, we who have almost a clinical incapacity to determine the difference between right & wrong, between good & evil, between decency & pornography, between humanism & barbarism

i have hoped that since alabam posted almost a year ago about the possibilities of the plame affair - that it would be their undoing - another act of an absence of moderation - & that this undoing would lead to the downfall of the gang of criminal creeps ho inhabit american politics

but there are no reasons for optimism - the hints that fitgerald might do nothing at all, a jurisprudence locked down by the biggest band of smalltime bozos in its history, the ability for the bennett of this world to say what they like - with their hate filled speeches which are underpinned by the truly terrible resonances out of new orleans

& that is what astounds me yesterday, today & tommorrow - that in the past - these tyrants beleived all these things but they hid their most vulgar & cruel enunciation - but today they speak of it - so openly - so brazenly - certainly the culture of stupidity which males it appear that an o'reilly or an ismuth or limbaugh are thinkers allows this ccruelty to be called by its real name

i have quoted martin buber here before when he sd that to have power over the nightmare you must call it by its real name - its real name - is u s imperialism & all its evil projects

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Oct 2 2005 23:14 utc | 64

b, when reading that British forces have "handed over" Basra to the Iraqi military, and other, similar reports, it's important to keep in mind that nowhere in Iraq do Iraqi forces have their own command and control. The same is true in Afghanistan. It's a matter of Coalition policy and applies to all indigenous units regardless of assessments of reliablility and competence.

Posted by: Pat | Oct 3 2005 5:52 utc | 65

nowhere in Iraq do Iraqi forces have their own command and control

When was that Shia resistance period? A year and a half ago? When suddenly all bridges in the South were under Iraqi control and the US logstics nearly broke down.

The Iraki forces in the South are Badr Brigade and as such do have their own command & control. The Iraqi state may not have one, but if the Shia would want to stand up, I am quite sure that there would an effective c&c mechanism.

Posted by: b | Oct 3 2005 6:35 utc | 66

Locked Away Forever After Crimes as Teenagers

About 9,700 American prisoners are serving life sentences for crimes they committed before they could vote, serve on a jury or gamble in a casino - in short, before they turned 18. More than a fifth have no chance for parole.
a report to be issued on Oct. 12 by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International found juveniles serving such sentences in only three others. Israel has seven, South Africa has four and Tanzania has one.

By contrast, the report counted some 2,200 people in the United States serving life without parole for crimes they committed before turning 18. More than 350 of them were 15 or younger, according to the report.

Posted by: b | Oct 3 2005 7:12 utc | 67

b, my point is simply that the Coalition has formal control - through the MoD - of all Iraqi forces - not that those forces will or can do what is desired by us.

Posted by: Pat | Oct 3 2005 7:32 utc | 68

Yea, b, but it's so verrryyy cool being The Leader of the Free World...(and, hell, we can't be Perfect, after all!!)

Although hydrokinetic power -- energy generated from the tides, currents and waves -- has a great deal of potential as a primary source of power generation around much of the world, it doesn't have the visibility of technologies such as solar and wind power.


Many of the existing examples are test-beds, small-scale efforts to demonstrate that the concept is viable. But the demonstration efforts have been well-received, and Portugal will be opening the first commercial wave farm next year, and South Korea will be opening a tidal power project in 2009.

But Scotland is also near the forefront of adoption of this potentially transformative technology. Last year, the first wave farm connected to the grid opened off Orkney, a demonstration system generating about 750kw. Ultimately, Scotland could get 10% of its energy production from ocean power -- and intends to do so, according to Renewable Energy Access.

Renewable Energy Access cites comments from the Scottish Executive office and a 2004 report from the official Marine Energy Group (PDF). The report claims that Scotland could generate about a gigawatt of power from marine sources, roughly 10% of its overall capacity; this would be enough to replace one full-size coal power plant.

This would count towards the Scottish Executive's goal of 18% renewable energy by 2010, and 40% by 2020.


Meanwhile, back here on the home front..oh yea, back to the Operation Wreck Iraq II for more news on America's Energy Policy...

Posted by: jj | Oct 3 2005 7:48 utc | 69

Alabama isn't here, but I did finally read Frances Fitzgeralds's Fire in the Lake.

Posted by: Pat | Oct 3 2005 8:14 utc | 70

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