Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Louisville, Kentucky 1937

Time Magazine Preps Americans For Mandatory Vaccinations

Says public should "trust" government when it institutes draconian measures to deal with pandemic

by Paul Joseph Watson

Time magazine preps americans for mandatory vaccinations 280409topTime Magazine's coverage of the swine flu scare has a noticeable subplot - preparing Americans for draconian measures to combat a future pandemic as well as forcing them to accept the idea of mandatory vaccinations.

In an article entitled How to Deal with Swine Flu: Heeding the Mistakes of 1976, the piece discusses how dozens died and hundreds were injured from vaccines as a result of the 1976 swine flu fiasco, when the Ford administration attempted to use the infection of soldiers at Fort Dix as a pretext for a mass vaccination of the entire country.

Despite acknowledging that the 1976 farce was an example of "how not to handle a flu outbreak," the article still introduces the notion that officials "may soon have to consider whether to institute draconian measures to combat the disease."

Later we discover exactly what this will entail, namely "when to institute mass vaccination programs," according to Howard Markel, director of the Center for the History of Medicine at the University of Michigan and a historical consultant to the CDC on flu pandemics.

Markel notes that the less politically combustible situation in America today compared to the post-Watergate era of Ford would make such draconian measures more achievable.

"Even so, he says, citizens still need to trust that the government is working for the greater good," adds the article. "The American public has to be forgiving and patient and do [their] part too," according to Markel.

Americans would indeed have to be very trustworthy and ultimately forgiving in taking a vaccine by government decree manufactured by a company that was been caught red-handed contaminating their vaccines with far deadlier viruses than swine flu.

As we reported yesterday, Baxter International confirmed over the weekend that it is working with the World Health Organization on a potential vaccine to curb the deadly swine flu virus that is blamed for scores of deaths in Mexico and has emerged as a threat in the U.S., reports the Chicago Tribune.

As reported by multiple sources last month, including the Times of India, vaccines contaminated with deadly live H5N1 avian flu virus were distributed to 18 countries last December by a lab at an Austrian branch of Baxter.

Since the probability of mixing a live virus biological weapon with vaccine material by accident is virtually impossible, this leaves no other explanation than that the contamination was a deliberate attempt to weaponize the H5N1 virus to its most potent extreme and distribute it via conventional flu vaccines to the population who would then infect others to a devastating degree as the disease went airborne.


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The last great swine flu epidemic

"This virus will kill 1 million Americans," declared the U.S. in 1976. The panic then has a lot to teach us today.
An elderly woman receives a vaccination during the nationwide swine flu vaccination campaign, which began Oct. 1, 1976.

By Patrick Di Justo

There is evidence there will be a major flu epidemic this coming fall. The indication is that we will see a return of the 1918 flu virus that is the most virulent form of the flu. In 1918 a half million Americans died. The projections are that this virus will kill one million Americans in 1976.

-- F. David Matthews, secretary of health, education, and welfare (Feb., 1976)

In January 1976, 19-year old U.S. Army Private David Lewis, stationed at Fort Dix, joined his platoon on a 50-mile hike through the New Jersey snow. Lewis didn't have to go; he was suffering from flu and had been confined to his quarters by his unit's medical officer. Thirteen miles into the hike, Lewis collapsed and died a short time later of pneumonia caused by influenza. Because Lewis was young, generally healthy and should not have succumbed to the common flu, his death set off a cascade of uncertainty that confused the scientists, panicked the government and eventually embittered a public made distrustful of authority by Vietnam and Watergate.

This past Sunday, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano left open the possibility of a mass immunization program for the current outbreak of swine flu. If that happens, the Obama administration has a lot to learn from the debacle set in motion by Private Lewis' ill-fated hike.

Lewis was a victim of swine flu, a form of influenza endemic to pig populations. Influenza is caused by a virus, a microorganism that is mostly dead and partially alive. The virus' genetic code, held inside a protein sheath, consists of several helices of RNA. The virus injects its RNA into a healthy cell, which causes the cell to stop its usual work and make more copies of the virus. RNA genes mutate easily; for this reason, each new flu season brings a slightly different form of the disease into the population. Most year-to-year mutations bring little change to the virus, but for some still unknown reason, influenza seems to undergo a significant genetic change every ten years or so.

This major mutation results in a radically new strain of flu, one that races through a population because few people are immune to it. The dangerous influenza epidemics of 1938, 1947, 1957 (60,000 dead in the U.S.) and 1968 (the dreaded Hong Kong flu) fit this pattern. It was believed that swine flu, a particularly deadly form of the virus, had a 60-year mutation cycle that brought on worldwide pandemics, killing millions of people. Both the 10- and 60-year cycles were due to converge in the mid 1970s; Lewis' death in 1976 was thought to be the first instance of a new, incredibly lethal type of flu.

Doctors from the Centers for Disease Control tested Private Lewis' blood, and determined that his immune system had developed antibodies to a strain of flu similar to the Spanish influenza of 1918. That particular strain of swine flu produced the worst human pandemic of the 20th century: 1 billion sick in every country of the world, at least 22 million dead in the space of a few months. If Lewis had been exposed to something like the 1918 flu virus, the world could be in for an extensive and lethal outbreak. CDC doctors, charged with protecting the U.S. from epidemics, began to worry.

By the end of January, 155 soldiers at Fort Dix reported positive for swine flu antibodies. None of the soldiers' families or co-workers, however, had been exposed to the virus; all of the reported swine flu cases had been limited to the soldiers in Private Lewis' camp. The virus wasn't spreading. For some reason this information did not mollify the doctors, and on Feb. 14, 1976, the CDC issued a notice to all U.S. hospitals to be on the lookout for any cases of swine flu.

By March, the normal end of flu season, worldwide cases of all types of flu had diminished, and not one case of swine flu had been reported outside of Fort Dix.


Flu history lesson from hell

Defense Secretary Rumsfeld sees growth in Gilead stake - Oct. 31, 2005

NEW YORK (Fortune) - The prospect of a bird flu outbreak may be panicking people around the globe, but it's proving to be very good news for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other politically connected investors in Gilead Sciences, the California biotech company that owns the rights to Tamiflu, the influenza remedy that's now the most-sought after drug in the world.

Rumsfeld served as Gilead (Research)'s chairman from 1997 until he joined the Bush administration in 2001, and he still holds a Gilead stake valued at between $5 million and $25 million, according to federal financial disclosures filed by Rumsfeld.

The forms don't reveal the exact number of shares Rumsfeld owns, but in the past six months fears of a pandemic and the ensuing scramble for Tamiflu have sent Gilead's stock from $35 to $47. That's made the Pentagon chief, already one of the wealthiest members of the Bush cabinet, at least $1 million richer.


'Dying' coral reef shows signs of spectacular regrowth

by Rich Bowden
Photo: great barrier reef, australia. credit: leonard low/flickr

Photo: Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Credit: Leonard Low/Flickr

Australian scientists studying the effects climate change is having on the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland have cause for celebration today after discovering that parts of the damaged corals have staged a remarkable comeback.

Southern parts of the massive reef, which is a popular tourists attraction, have been badly damaged in recent years from global warming and subsequent warming sea temperatures. The change has caused what is known as "coral bleaching," a dieback of the corals that leaves the reef white.

Researchers are so concerned about the effects of climate change on the reef that they predict the entire Great Barrier Reef will suffer from bleaching in 50 years.

However, a combination of occurrences has seemingly regenerated a damaged part of the reef near the Great Keppel Islands, with researchers saying the recovery has been at a rate 10 times faster than usual.

Marine scientist Laurence McCook told the ABC's AM program that the corals have grabbed their chance to recover.

"Although the reef was covered in this massive bloom of a particular seaweed, that seaweed experienced a quite spectacular, unusual die-back," said McCook.

"Now that gave the corals a kind of a second chance if you like," he added. "And the second factor was that the corals really took that chance, showing spectacular regrowth and in particular regrowth from surviving fragments of coral tissue."

David Wachenfeld, chief scientist at the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, told the program he was heartened to see damaged corals respond.


The Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2009

by Joe Kennelly
Texas Republican Ron Paul, along with ten co-sponsors, is once again seeking to allow for the commercial farming of industrial hemp.
House Bill 1866, The Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2009, would exclude low potency varieties of marijuana from federal prohibition. If approved, this measure will grant state legislatures the authority to license and regulate the commercial production of hemp as an industrial and agricultural commodity.
Several states -- including North Dakota, Montana, and Vermont -- have enacted regulations to allow for the cultivation of hemp under state law. However, none of these laws can be implemented without federal approval. Passage of HR 1866 would remove existing federal barriers and allow states that wish to regulate commercial hemp production the authority to do so.
Upon introducing the bill in Congress, Rep. Paul said: "It is unfortunate that the federal government has stood in the way of American farmers, including many who are struggling to make ends meet, from competing in the global industrial hemp market. Indeed, the founders of our nation, some of whom grew hemp, would surely find that federal restrictions on farmers growing a safe and profitable crop on their own land are inconsistent with the constitutional guarantee of a limited, restrained federal government. Therefore, I urge my colleagues to stand up for American farmers and cosponsor the Industrial Hemp Farming Act."
According to a 2005 Congressional Resource Service report, the United States is the only developed nation that fails to cultivate industrial hemp as an economic crop. As a result, U.S. companies that specialize in hempen goods -- such as Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps, Patagonia, Nature's Path, and Nutiva -- have no choice but to import hemp material. These added production costs are then passed on to the consumer who must pay artificially high retail prices for hemp products.

Why We Must Prosecute

Torture Is a Breach Of International Law

By Mark J. McKeon

On Sept. 11, 2001, when the twin towers were hit, I was sitting in a meeting in The Hague discussing what should be included in an indictment against Slobodan Milosevic for war crimes in Bosnia. I was an American lawyer serving as a prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, and there was no doubt that Milosevic should be indicted for his responsibility for the torture and cruel treatment of prisoners. As the head of state at the time those crimes were committed, Milosevic bore ultimate responsibility for what happened under his watch.

While at The Hague, I felt myself standing in a long line of American prosecutors working for a world where international standards restricted what one nation could do to another during war, stretching back to at least Justice Robert Jackson at the Nuremberg trials. Those standards protected our own soldiers and citizens. They were also moral and right. So I didn't understand why, a few months after the attacks in 2001, the Bush administration withdrew its consent to joining the International Criminal Court. Wasn't accountability for war crimes one of the things America stood for? Although staying with the court did mean that the United States would be subject to being charged in that court, how likely was that to happen? Surely we would never do these things. And, in any event, the court could only assume jurisdiction over a person whose own government refused to prosecute him; surely, that would never happen in the United States.

And yet, seven years later, here we are debating whether we should hold senior Bush administration officials accountable for things they have done in the "war on terror."

In 2001 and the following few years, we at the international tribunal built a strong court case against Milosevic. We presented evidence that he had effective control over soldiers and paramilitaries who tortured prisoners, and did worse. We brought into court reports of atrocities that had been delivered to Milosevic by international organizations to show his knowledge of what was happening under his command. And we watched as other heads of state were indicted for similar crimes, including Charles Taylor in Liberia and, of course, Saddam Hussein in Iraq.

At the same time, I watched with horror the changes that were happening back home. The events are now well known: Abu Ghraib; Guantanamo; secret "renditions" of prisoners to countries where interrogators were not afraid to get rough; secret CIA prisons where there appeared to be no rules. I tried to answer, as best I could, the questions from my international colleagues at The Hague about what was happening in and to my country. But as each revelation topped the last, I soon found myself without words.


9 Amazing 3D Pavement Paintings

Pavement art has grown in popularity over the years and there are few major cities left untouched by the paintbrush of these eccentric artists. Like buskers, many may be fortunate to earn a few pennies by passing pedestrian traffic and yet remain anonymous and receive few accolades for their incredible talent. However some street artists are more fortunate and gain international respect and commissions from towns across the globe.

Aside from the traditionalist type pavement paintings where the artist replicates famous works of art, there are also those who very cleverly create optical illusions with their paintbrush. Take a look at some of these mind boggling three dimensional pavement paintings scattered across the globe.

1. Feeding The Fish

Feeding the fish

Julian Beever is an established pavement painting artist. He has been creating 3D masterpieces for over 10 years and his work is going from strength to strength. In this amazing drawing, Julian has managed to fool the passerby's eye into believing that the pond is truly three dimensional. It looks like the child is really sitting in the middle of a sunken pond, ready to feed the fish that are near the surface.

Even though the drawing is only two dimensional, looking at it from this angle, there is no way you can convince your mind that it isn't real.

2. Surfing In London

Surfing in london

A dynamic duo, Joe Hill and Max Lowry have made the impossible possible, with their pavement painting of a surfer riding the waves in what looks to be a building site.

It is difficult to distinguish what is real and what isn't when it comes to looking at edges of the painting but be assured that this is a true optical illusion. The painting is on a flat surface and even though your mind interprets the painting as real, you will not get splashed from the leaping wave, nor will you fall into the depths of the ocean as the water pool suggests.

3. Flash Flood In Canada

Flash flood in canada

Said to be the largest three dimensional street painting ever created, this amazing optical illusion was the brainchild of Edgar Mueller. Over 280 square meter of pavement was painted by Edgar and a few local artists, and the result is truly spectacular.

Standing at the edge of the enormous waterfall at the end of the painting is sure to make vertigo sufferers feel queasy, whilst those people daring to sit on painted makeshift raft look like they are going to be swept downstream any minute.


Iranian leader: We'd support an Israeli-Palestianian peace agreement

by Muriel Kane
Israel's new hardline prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, insists that he will not consider peace talks with the Palestinians until the US has taken action to curb Iran's nuclear and regional ambitions. This has been seen as a serious stumbling block to President Obama's belief that progress on Israeli-Palestinian talks must come first and will provide him with increased leverage over Iran.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, however, may have thrown a wild card into the stalemate on Sunday when he told ABC's George Stephanopoulos that he would be fine with supporting any peace agreement the Palestinians might reach with Israel.

"If the Palestinian people negotiate an agreement with Israel and the Palestinian people vote and support that agreement, a two state solution, will Iran support it? " Stephanopoulos asked?

"Nobody should interfere," Ahmadinejad replied. "Allow the Palestinian people to decide for themselves, whatever they decide. It is the right of all human beings."

"But if they choose a two state solution, if they choose to recognize Israel's existence, Iran will as well? " Stephanopoulos pursued.

To that, Ahmadinejad replied, "Let me approach this from another perspective. If the Palestinians decide that the Zionist regime needs to leave all Palestinian lands, would the American administration accept their decision? Will they accept this Palestinian point of view?

"Whatever decision they take is fine with us," he emphasized. "We are not going to determine anything. Whatever decision they take, we will support that."


Marijuana Is Option to Unpleasant Meds, Teens Say

FRIDAY, April 24 -- Some teens are smoking marijuana not just for recreation but to self-medicate emotional problems, sleep difficulties and pain, a new study shows.

Researchers conducted in-depth interviews with 63 adolescents who smoked marijuana regularly. About a third of the teens said they used the drug as a medication rather than as a means of getting high.

The findings appear in the April 22 issue of Substance Abuse, Treatment, Prevention and Policy.

The most common complaints were emotional problems, including depression, anxiety and stress, sleep difficulties, and problems with concentration and pain.

"Youth who reported they had been prescribed drugs such as Ritalin, Prozac or sleeping pills stopped using them because they did not like how these drugs made them feel or found them ineffective," the authors said in a news release from the journal publisher. "For these kids, the purpose of smoking marijuana was not specifically about getting high or stoned."

The teens' experiences with the medical system were uniformly negative, according to the study.

"Marijuana is perceived by some teens to be the only available alternative for those experiencing difficult health problems when legitimate medical treatments have failed or when they lack access to appropriate health care," said Joan Bortoff, who worked on the study with a team of researchers from the University of British Columbia.

In contrast to the unpleasant side effects of prescribed medications and long and ineffective but legal therapies, marijuana provided the adolescents with immediate relief for a variety of health concerns, according to the study.


Webb Puts Marijuana Legalization 'On the Table'

Speaking to CNN on Thursday morning in an effort to whip up political support for his prison reform proposals, Senator Jim Webb (D-VA) insisted that marijuana legalization should be "on the table." His bill, introduced late March, aims to establish a presidential commission to study prison reforms and drug criminalization and make recommendations to Congress after 18 months. Senator Webb's bill is backed by Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) and has reportedly received "quiet encouragement from President Barack Obama."

With so many of our citizens in prison compared with the rest of the world, there are only two possibilities: Either we are home to the most evil people on earth or we are doing something different--and vastly counterproductive," wrote Sen. Webb in a March 29 editorial in Parade. "Obviously, the answer is the latter."


First Look: Ang Lee's Taking Woodstock

By Corey Scholibo

Advocate.com's exclusive first look at Ang Lee's new film Taking Woodstock includes this photo of Liev Schreiber, who plays Vilma, a drag queen who serves as a bodyguard during the Woodstock festival. The film is based on the memoir by Elliot Tiber, the gay man who made one call and a few weeks later managed to stage one of the most defining cultural events in American history.

In this scene, which takes place about halfway through the film, Vilma is showing Elliot -- played by Demetri Martin -- a photo of himself and his lover when he was a marine in Korea.

TAKINGWOODSTOCKX450(Focus features)

James Schamus, the screenwriter of Taking Woodstock and CEO of Focus Features, which is releasing the film, says Lee, whose previous credits include Brokeback Mountain, describes Vilma as a sort of angel for Elliot, "someone who's going to be watching over him and helping become who he needs to be."

Schamus phoned from a sound-mixing session to tell Advocate.com a little bit about the new film and why the studio that brought us Brokeback Mountain and Milk is going to impress us once again.

Advocate.com: So Mr. Schamus, tell us a little bit about the film.

James Schamus: Demetri Martin plays our hero Elliot Tiber, and he's a gay interior designer who's living in Greenwich village, but he's gotten flat-broke and he's at that horrible moment where you have to move back in with your parents for the summer. And his parents are the most nightmarish Jewish parents imaginable who run a crappy little motel in the Catskills in the middle of nowhere. It's just a shit hole, and the bank is about to take it over. They're behind on the mortgage, and he goes out there to help them out. And he's trying to come up with schemes to figure out how to make money and save the hotel for them, and they always fail. And up in this Catskills town he's actually the president of the chamber of commerce because there is no real commerce; it's just a bunch of old folks sitting around. But every summer he gives himself a permit to hold a music festival on the front lawn of the motel.

And one day he hears that a neighboring town has thrown out some hippie music festival. So he picks up the phone, he calls Woodstock ventures, and goes, "Well, I've got a permit." And half an hour later they land in a helicopter, look at the dump of a motel and the swamp behind it, forget it. So then Elliot is like, "Three miles up the road is our friend who's got a farm, let's check it out." And three weeks later, half a million people are there. It's this crazy story of this guy who's kind of a bit of a schmuck, but a lovable one who happens to pick up the phone and make one call, and one of the greatest moments in the history of human culture ever happens. And in the midst of all this, he's also finding himself, and really coming to accept who he is as a gay man, and as somebody who can finally come out from the under shadow of his parents. And he literally, the last day of the concert, gets in his car and drives to San Francisco. And that's the end of the story.

It's really lovely to have a movie which, you know again, we always say this, after Brokeback, you know, the floodgates of gay cinema in Hollywood were supposed to open. And you know, it's like, "OK, let's do it again with Milk." I think what's great about this is that you have a gay hero, and it's just not really a problem. There was something tragic in Brokeback, and you have the issue in Milk, but it is great to work on a movie in which it's like, "What's the big problem?" He's going to be himself. It's very sweet. His gay identity is part of the story, but at the same time, so what!


Does Miss California Carrie Prejean deserve the flak she got over Perez Hilton gay-marriage question?

Miss Arizona Alicia Monique-Blanco was even worse on universal health care

In the YouTube era, if you say something embarrassing on television, guess what? The world gets to see it forever. Fun!

There was a time when a pageant contestant would give a nonsensical answer ending with "world peace," and the studio audience would applaud and the judge would say, "Thank you very much," and the home viewer would say, "What did she just say?" and that would be that. On to the talent portion of the evening.

Now, these rambling monologues become viral sensations that last until the end of the time, or at least end of the Internet, whichever comes first.

More than 34 million viewers have watched the YouTube clip of that poor girl who was Miss Teen South Carolina 2007, struggling to answer a question about geography. ("I believe that our education, like such as South Africa and Iraq, everywhere like, such as, our education . . . should help the U.S. or should help South Africa and or should help Iraq and the Asian countries so we will be able to build up our future . . . ") If that many people went to a movie, it would gross nearly $300 million.

On Monday morning, radio DJs and morning TV hosts were playing a couple of clips from the 2009 Miss USA pageant.

The biggest controversy occurred when blogger Perez Hilton asked Miss California, Carrie Prejean, if every state should legalize same-sex marriage.

Her answer: "I think it's great Americans are able to choose one or the other. We live in a land that you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite marriage. And you know what, in my country, in my family I think that I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman. No offense to anybody there, but that's how I was raised and that's how I think it should be, between a man and a woman."

Perezito seemed taken aback. In a video blog, he called Miss Prejean "a dumb bitch," though he later apologized.

Granted, it's a little odd Prejean would think we "live in a land that you can choose same-sex marriage" given that Perez just pointed out to her that Vermont was just the fourth state to legalize same-sex marriage. But at least we understood what she was trying to say: she believes marriage should be between a man and a woman, but she's not exactly intending to run through the village with a torch, smoking out the gays who want to get married. It's basically what a lot of politicians believe. (Barack Obama, on WBBM-AM's "At Issue" in 2004: "[A]lthough I try not to have my religious beliefs dominate or determine my political views on [gay marriage], I do believe that . . . marriage is something sanctified between a man and a woman.")

Yet we saw headlines on Monday such as, "Miss California Sparks Furor With Gay Marriage Comments on Miss USA Telecast," and, "Miss California Sparks Outrage over Gay Marriage Remarks."

Really? We're getting worked up over this? Because that hot blond woman in the white bikini didn't issue an articulate, passionate defense of gay marriage? (Not that hot blond girls in white bikinis aren't issuing passionate statements on all the major issues of the day even as we speak.)

It's great fun and column fodder to dissect these videos, but not for a moment should anyone seriously give a flying tiara about what a pageant contestant believes about the pressing issues of the day.

As far as wacky answers go, the winner for the night wasn't Miss California. Hands down, it was Miss Arizona.

Say again?

Judge Kenan Thompson from "Saturday Night Live" asked, ""Do you think the U.S. should have universal health care as a right of citizenship? Why or why not?"

Miss Arizona's response: "I think this is an issue of integrity regardless of which end of the political spectrum that I stand on. I've been raised in a family to know right from wrong, and politics, whether or not you fall in the middle, the left or the right, it's an issue of integrity, whatever your opinion is and I say that with the upmost conviction."

Now THAT'S a classic. It's an answer that has absolutely nothing to do with the question. Zippo!


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