Saturday, October 08, 2005

Bush's Supreme Folly

Courting Disaster: Bush's Supreme Folly

Empire Burlesque - Chris Floyd - Last week, George W. Bush filled the final vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court – and right on cue, all the knee-jerk Bush-bashers were up in arms, sputtering the usual objections: Unqualified crony! Right-wing apparatchik! Fawning, groveling Bush Family factotum! Wheel-greasing goon in high-priced threads!

Supreme Court Justice Roberts

Moot Court: Harriet,
Jughead and Judicial Jokery
Chris Floyd

Empire Burlesque
Friday, 07 October 2005

This is an expanded version of the column published in the Oct. 7 edition of The Moscow Times. For annotations and sources, see the Times version here.

Poor little dissident lambkins. They must be the only people left in the United States who still take the country's governance seriously. For it's obvious that the nation's political elite – whatever party label they happen to wear – do not. No ruling class that was actually serious about governing would ever countenance the pair of jokers whom Bush has foisted on what is supposed to be the ultimate guarantor of law in the land. Yet the first bad joke sailed through with bipartisan support and the second is bound to follow. Clearly this is an Establishment in the throes of nervous breakdown, collapsing in a fit of hysteria-induced giggles while a pack of ruthless thugs loot the store and burn down the house.

For its sheer brazen mockery of the judicial system, Bush's nomination of his personal lawyer Harriet Miers to the high court outdoes the installation of hard-right knee-capper John "Jughead" Roberts as Chief Justice. Jughead spent most of his early career trying to screw the poor and the dark-skinned out of whatever meagre rights and protections they had won after hundreds of years of slavery, exclusion and savage repression. He really made his bones, however, with his stalwart service in the Busha Nostra's shutdown of the Florida recount in 2000. For this, Jug was elevated to the federal appeals court, where – while he was negotiating for the Supreme slot – he upheld Bush's imperial right to "disappear" anyone on earth into his own rigged system of military tribunals.

Nominated Bush Personal Council, Miers

Miers, who has zero judicial experience, is cut from the same cloth. Bush first hired Miers to dig into his own past and bury the skeletons she found there as he limbered up for his presidential run in the 1990s, AP reports. Miers delivered the goods, brokering a convoluted $23 million payoff to former Texas lieutenant governor Ben Barnes and his business partner. Barnes said he'd used political pull to get young war-coward Georgie into the National Guard back in the Vietnam day, the Washington Post reports. With payoff in hand, the whistleblower's memory suddenly became all fuzzy. Miers was also instrumental in wangling Bush out of a jury duty assignment: the standard jury questionnaire would have revealed the drunk driving conviction that Bush had hidden for more than 20 years, the Philadelphia Daily News reports. (Yes, Bush is the first convicted criminal ever elected – or in this case, selected – as president.)

Miers – an ex-Catholic turned hardcore Protestant evangelical – has broader experience, of course. She was the managing partner of a high-powered Texas law firm that, under her gentle Christian guidance, paid out more than $30 million in two separate cases of helping corporate clients defraud their investors, The Huffington Post reports. At the firm, Miers also walked in Our Saviour's footsteps by specializing in union-busting and gutting worker safety protections. As the firm's prospectus proudly noted: "We defend [safety and injury] claims of any type, including multiple death cases." If you accidentally fed a few of your coolies into the company wood-chipper, no worries: Holy Harriet and her crew would have your back.

After defrauding investors and backing corporate killers, Miers moved to the White House, where, as the Los Angeles Times reports, she became Bush's chief gatekeeper for his most important briefings, including the August 6, 2001 number entitled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S." – you know, the explicit, hair-raising report that somehow lulled the entire Bush team into a warm, comfy sleep until September 11. According to Republican Party chairman Ken Mehlman, Miers then became "heavily involved in the War on Terror" that followed those fortuitous attacks. ("Through my tears, I see opportunity," as Bush declared repeatedly in those palmy days of 90 percent approval ratings).

This week Mehlman has been on the horn to Bush's hard-right "base" (although we prefer the more eloquent Arabic term for this loyal band: "al Qaeda"), assuring them that Miers "will not interfere with the administration's management of the War on Terrorism," The Hill reports. He said Miers believes that neither the courts nor Congress should "micromanage" the Terror War, i.e., put fetters on the unrestrained powers of the Commander-in-Chief to kill, incarcerate and torture whom he sees fit. This is particularly important now, as the revelations of blood-soaked atrocity in Bush's prisons have grown so mountainous and foul that even the rubber-stamps in the Senate were forced this week to approve a cosmetic and meaningless measure to set guidelines for interrogating captives. (The bill leaves a gaping black hole for unregulated CIA interrogations, however, and will in any case be killed or watered down to even thinner gruel by the more zealous Bushist cadres in the House.)

In fact, as White House counsel, Miers "provided the president with guidance on the legal parameters" for the Terror War, Mehlman told the faithful. In other words, Miers helped draw up the "justifications" for torture, rendition and aggressive war which she will now be ruling upon at the Supreme Court. Oh, there'll be a hot time in the old gulag when Harriet joins Jughead on the bench!

But who cares? Most of the wiggly, giggly Democratic "opposition" – which sent Jughead over the top with a big bipartisan cushion – is already rolling over and playing dead for Miers; in fact, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid actually recommended that Bush appoint this torture-enabling, worker-whipping political fixer to the nation's highest court. The whole American leadership class has given up democratic government for the brutal absurdities of junta rule: cronyism, conquest, corruption and moral collapse.


New Supreme Court nominee's
ties to Bush's National Guard scandal
Philadelphia Daily News, Oct. 3, 2005

Miers-Led Law Firm Repeatedly Forced
to Pay Damages for Defrauding Investors
The Huffington Post, Oct. 3, 2005

Texas Speaker Reportedly Helped Bush
Get Into Guard
Washington Post, Sept. 21, 1999

Harriet Miers, Pro and Anti
WorldViews, Oct. 3, 2005

Miers Briefed Bush on Famous Bin Laden
Editor & Publisher, Oct. 4, 2005

Harriet Miers "Worships the President
WorldViews, Oct. 3, 2005

Miers Backs Wide Executive Role;
Helped Develop Patriot Act
Boston Globe, Oct. 5, 2005

Harriet Miers Headed Law Firm
Engaged in Union Busting
Confined Space, Oct. 3, 2005

Soothing the Seething Right Wing
The Hill, Oct. 4, 2005

Threading the Needle: Republican
Talking Points on Miers
National Journal Hotline, Oct. 3, 2005

The President's Pit Bull
Los Angeles Times, Oct. 4, 2005

In Mid-Career, A Turn to Faith to
Fill a Void
New York Times, Oct. 4, 2005

The Unification of Church and State
Molly Ivins/Creators Syndicate, Oct. 4, 2005

High Court Nominee Has Never
Been a Judge
Associated Press, Oct. 3, 2005

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Planet Disaster

Planet Disaster: Your Daily Cataclysm Chronicle

PEJ News - C. L. Cook - Hurricanes, earthquakes, mudslides, and war: Just another day on Planet Disaster!

Planet Disaster:
Your Daily Cataclysm Chronicle
C. L. Cook

PEJ News
October 8, 2005

Killer Quake Hits Pakistan

World-wide news is reporting today thousands dead following a massive earthquake in the Near East. The 7.6 Richter Scale temblor struck early this morning local time near the confluence of Pakistan, Aghanistan and India. Hundreds of children were reported killed in Pakistan when their school was buried in a mudslide triggered by the quake. The region has been experiencing heavy rainfall for weeks.

Northern Pakistan was most seriously effected, with government sources there saying the earthquake is the worst seen in living memory. Witness, Mansehra village shopkeeper, Haji Fazal Ilahi describes the disaster that took the lives of his wife, two daughters and his brother:

"I could see rocks and homes tumbling down the mountains," said Ilahi, who was driving to his village of Garlat when the quake struck. "When I reached my village, there was nothing left of my home."

Heavy Rains Triggers Volcano Mudslide

Hurricane Stan is lashing Central America, bringing with it heavy rains. The worst hit was the small town of Santiago Attitlan, located in central Guatamala. Santiago, sitting on the world renown tourist mecca, Lake Attitlan was buried in mud sent down the side of one of the three volcanoes ringing the lake, burying an undetermined number of villagers. So far, more than 200 bodies have been recovered. Another 300 in Guatamala have perished in storm.

Terror Bombings in Bali

Indonesian authorities, after initially blaming members of Jemaah Islamiyah, the terrorist group believed behind a nightclub bombing on the island of Bali in 2002, are now saying a new group may be responsible for this week's attack against another nightspot. Twenty-three patrons and staff were killed in the bombings in Kuta Beach, the same site of the previous blast that killed more than two humdred, mostly Australian tourists.

American Fatalities in Afghanistan

Today, the U.S. military counted it's 200th military death in Afghanistan. A soldier was killed when he trod on a landmine during a patrol. Authorities there say they are unsure whether the landmine was freshly planted, or is one of thousands remaining throughout the decades-long, war torn country. This has been the deadliest year for American soldiers in Afghanistan, which has seen a dramatic upsurge in resistance attacks against the multi-national occupation. NATO is currently preparing to expand its role there.

Gotham Commuters Warily Board the Underground

After seeing the New York City subway system all but shut down after warnings of a "credible" terror attack similar to that that struck London in July, commuters are again taking to the rails. The warnings were publicized this week, triggering a massive security operation that saw hundreds of heavily armed police converge on the city's mass transit system. No evidence of a terrorist attack were produced, though police have made a number of arrests. The warnings were issued by New York City mayor, Michael Bloomsberg hours before U.S. President George W. Bush was to deliver an address to the nation defending the ongoing "War on Terror." The alleged plot was revealed by Iraqi prisoners after interrogation.

Officials Warn Against Global Flu Pandemic

The U.S. president has slated meetings with health officials and has issued warnings to the population of a possible outbreak of "Bird Flu." For weeks there have been dire warnings of the disease, said eminating from Asian poultry farms, is spreading fast and has already claimed scores of lives.

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Plague Plane Down?

Plague Plane Down? FedEx Cargo Included Lab Viruses

PEJ News
- C. L. Cook - While the world press rings dire warnings against the next Big One, a pandemic potentially as deadly as the infamous 'Spanish Flu' outbreak almost a century ago, the circumstances of the fatal crash of a FedEx plane today in Winnipeg raises disturbing questions about the transport of deadly pathogens and the threat it represents.

Plague Plane Down?
FedEx Cargo Included Lab Viruses
C. L. Cook

PEJ News
October 6, 2005

Getting Winnipeg's Level 4 bio-containment laboratory wasn't easy. Locals were concerned at the prospect of sharing the neighbourhood with the world's deadliest germs. Experts assured the labs were impenetrable; no virus would escape their custody. But accidents happen.

Of course, it doesn't matter how safe the laboratories are when viruses are sent out the door. The Winnipeg facility was embarassed earlier this year when a FedEx courier truck involved in a downtown accident was later revealed to be carrying ebola, tuberculosis, and hepatitis bacilli from their facility. Now, a second incident involving the transport through population centres is again raising questions.

Local Federal Member of Parliament, Pat Martin expressed concern with current procedures, saying: "There are weak links here, and we won't tolerate it in our community." Adding, "We want an inquiry and we want better security measures." Viruses and other hazardous materials are routinely transported this way in Canada.

In a lightning fast threat assessment of the crash site, Transportation Safety Board investigator Ross Peden declared the public safe: "There is no threat to the public, or workers." Peden claims the frozen vials containing a variety of viruses, including Herpes and Flu strains, were destroyed in the fire following the crash.

The Cessna came down, while attempting to land at Winnipeg's airport when it experienced trouble shortly after take-off. The pilot, Nancy Chase-Allen was killed in the crash, but managed to put the plane down on traintracks, avoiding buildings and the morning rush hour traffic. The cause is still unknown, but weather may be a factor, as Winnipeg has suffered heavy rains and snow squalls this week.

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Thursday, October 06, 2005

Democracy is For the Birds

Martial Law: It’s for the Birds

Kurt Nimmo
Another Day in the Empire
October 5th, 2005

It’s like a scene out of Alfred Hitchcock’s movie, the Birds—or maybe a scene left on the cutting room floor. Birds are going to get us—not by attacking us directly, as in the Hitchcock movie, but through the H5N1 bird flu virus, also known as Avian influenza. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), H5N1 is of the “influenza pandemic” sort, that is to say it is different from seasonal outbreaks or “epidemics” of influenza. “Seasonal outbreaks are caused by subtypes of influenza viruses that are already in existence among people, whereas pandemic outbreaks are caused by new subtypes or by subtypes that have never circulated among people or that have not circulated among people for a long time. Past influenza pandemics have led to high levels of illness, death, social disruption, and economic loss,” the CDC assures us. In other words, it is the perfect disease for our autocratic rulers, forever angling to get rid of the barriers (the Constitution and the Bill of Rights) preventing them from further militarizing our society.

“I am just suggesting that we better be thinking about [H5N1],” Bush said yesterday. “And we are. And we’re more than thinking about it; we’re trying to put plans in place.” And what exactly are these plans? “The US military might have to quarantine areas of the United States if there was a serious outbreak of the deadly avian flu,” reports the Sydney Morning Herald. “Regional quarantine would raise difficult policy decisions and legal issues, but the possibility had to be discussed.” Naturally, the “possibility” is so great only the military would be able to address it. “It’s one thing to shut down your airplanes, it’s another thing to prevent people from coming in to get exposed to the avian flu,” said Bush. “To do this, we might have to use the military, which is able to plan and move.” In other words, the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 stands in the way of saving American lives.

Bush failed to mention the fact H5N1 is at best a minor threat. “As of July 21, 2005, one hundred and nine cases of human infection have been confirmed resulting in fifty five deaths outside of China,” explains Wikipedia. “Thirteen countries across Asia and Europe have been affected. Additionally more than one hundred and twenty million birds have died from infection or been culled.” In other words, H5N1 is a pandemic among birds, not humans. Maybe Bush should call out the military and have them quarantine sparrows and finches and such, not entire U.S. cities or geographic regions. Even so, Bush tells us “that we better be thinking about” H5N1 and other pathogenic threats because we need to be sensitive to the possibility the military (or military contractors such as Blackwater) will be on our streets, going house to house, confiscating guns and forcibly evacuating people to “evacuee” camps.

Irwin Redlener, associate dean of Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and director of its National Center for Disaster Preparedness, knows something about disaster and government response. “The translation of this is martial law in the United States,” Redlener told CNN. Gene Healy, of the Cato Institute, made mention of “traditional distrust of using standing armies to enforce order at home, a distrust that’s well-justified.”

Bush’s mention of H5N1 is part of a “robust discussion” underway to break down the legal barriers preventing the government from imposing martial law “in certain extreme circumstances.” Last month, White House spokesman Scott McClellan said Bush “wants to make sure that we learn the lessons from Hurricane Katrina,” including the use of the military in “a severe, catastrophic-type event…. The Department of Defense would assume the responsibility for the situation, and come in with an overwhelming amount of resources and assets, to help stabilize the situation,” McClellan said.

As for the “lessons from Hurricane Katrina,” if the situation in New Orleans is any indication, the government will allow a hypothetical (and unlikely) bird flu pandemic to kill off large numbers of people (as it allowed flood waters to kill an as of yet undetermined—or never to be reported—number of people in New Orleans before it responded) and then send in Bush cronies and favored corporations, operating under no-bid and cost-plus contracts, to figure out how to chisel the government out of billions. Imagine M16-toting Blackwater mercenaries in biohazard suits patrolling the streets of your town with shoot-to-kill orders for all of those who violate imposed curfews or are caught “looting” food and water. If Bush gets his way, the 1866 Supreme Court ruling in Ex Parte Milligan limiting martial law will become a quaint historical oddity.

H5N1 is but another excuse to chip away at our constitutional liberties. Bush and crew want to send in the military because they are at war with the American people—or their constitutionally guaranteed liberties, anyway. The Army and Marines are trained to kill people and break things, not engage in mundane every-day law enforcement. Katrina, Rita, and the promised bird flu pandemic are stepping stones in an effort to erect a police state and militarily-imposed dictatorship in this country. After the Posse Comitatus is dismantled, Bush will be able to send the troops wherever he wants and for whatever reason, no matter how fallacious or exaggerated.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Canadians Target of Afghani Suicide Bombing

PEJ News - C. L. Cook - Three Canadian soldiers were injured today, none seriously, when their convoy was rammed by a suicide car-bomber. At least one bystander, a young child, was killed, as was the bomber.

Canadians Target of Afghan
Suicide Bombing
C. L. Cook

PEJ News
October 5, 2005

If there were any hope Canadian troops would be received in their new home away from the comforts of Kabul congenially by the inhabitants of Kandahar, they were quickly dispelled today with the attack against a three vehicle convoy of Canadian soldiers. The Canadians were lucky, escaping with reported "burns and minor injuries," and were also reported to have returned to duty within hours. The fate less fortunate for the hapless Afghani motorists and pedestrians travelling the same road; at least one is dead, and several others injured.

In the Spring, Canada's Minister of Defense, Bill Graham announced a restructuring of the country's military and its traditional, world famous role as 'peacekeepers.' The redefinition of Canadian military parameters of operationability coincides with the redeployment of troops that have spent the last four years trying to keep the capital city quiet.

By most accounts, they've accomplished this without incurring local resentment common to American missions. The Canadians have been pulling up stakes in the north, and are headed to the heart of Taliban country in the south.

Graham has since been touring Canada, telling eveyone who'll listen to get ready for body bags. That is to say; Canadians not used to Maple Leaf flag and coffin parades of their fellow citizens on their final journey, brought to that pitiful demise through yet another adventure in the service of empire, should get used to the idea.

It's as though no-one remembers what the poppy means.

Today's Canadian Liberal government is setting a century's agenda. Most are clueless about what's going on, let alone the intricacy of the design, or what it will mean for their future and that of the nation. The news has been remarkably yawned over by the renowned pinky pacifist citizenry. That may be attributed to the summer season, where the House of Parliament is turned over to the echoes of its history.

But, the wheels of government grind on, even if unobserved by the House. And, while the Loyal Opposition lolled in sultry hammocks and media Fat Cats vacated Ottawa, Prime Minister Paul Martin and his chief lieutenant, Bill Graham perverted Canada's recognized mission on the World stage as one dedicated to peace and justice.

No longer; Canada is now officially an apposite of Them. That is to say, we are Us. With you, George!

This isn't a necessarily new stance, only one kept on the cuff for the duration of this disaster movie of an administration south of the border. In large part, this is thanks to the masterful policy hypocrisy practiced by erstwhile P.M., Jean Chretien. The Little Guy from Shawinigan's place in the pantheon of fallen Canadian heroes is unrivalled, save for Brian Mulroney. Both served the long-simmering ambition within certain quarters for a North American 'Continentalism.'

Now, with Paul Martin, the millionaire son of a millionaire elite familiar, the final spike is struck to the heart of Canadian sovereignty and values we so treasured for, if nothing else, differentiating ourselves from the behemoth next door.

Mr. Graham's "warnings" are less that than a promise; a promise to bear the bitter fruit of war to this land; a promise to prove the besmirching of Canada's name for years to come.

Whether the minister's profile will rise or fall on that inevitable occasion, remains to be seen.

Chris Cook hosts Gorilla Radio, a weekly public affairs program, broad/webcast fromt the University of Victoria, Canada. He also serves as Senior Editor to PEJ News. You can see the GR Blog here.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Biological Weapon Used Against Anti-War Demonstrators?

PEJ News - C. L. Cook - More than a week after massive protests against the Iraq war and occupation in Washington, public health officials informed the media of their detection of an unusually high occurrence of the biological pathogen, francisella tularensis, a bacteria also known as tularemia. Revelations of the discovery of tularemia was passed from the Department of Homeland Security, who operate biological agent sensors in the Capitol.

Biological Weapon Used Against
Anti-War Demonstrators?

C. L. Cook

PEJ News
October 4, 2005

Waiting a week before raising the alarm of the possible infection of possibly thousands of the hundreds of thousands of Anti-War demonstrators and D.C. citizens exposed over the September 23-24 weekend, many of whom by that time having long departed, dispersed far and wide to their various home states across the nation, is not the strangest thing about the story, run in the Washington Post's Saturday, Oct 1 edition, and since broadly picked up.

The source informing the story, The Department of Homeland Security, lay it out roughly this way: Sensors placed around Washington, specifically designed to detect trace amounts of considered biological weapons agents, were examined and determined to contain unnaturally large amounts of tularemia. The samples where then, apparently, rigorously tested, and retested, the results kept underwraps for almost a week. Only then was the Center for Disease Control alerted, and in turn, D. C. health officials. Those officials were upbeat, saying that the normal gestation period, the time before doctors can expect to see the symptoms of an epidemic manifest, had passed without producing evidence of a significant nature.

The bacterium, francisella tularensis, also called 'rabbit fever' is naturally occurring, but has a long history of manipulation for the purpose of weaponization. Imperial Japan is noted for its groundbreaking experiments on tularemia's effects on human physiology. They are estimated to have sacrificed more than 10,000 prisoners to science during their occupation of China.

The results of Japanese efforts were not lost on the American government, and by the late 1960's Biological Weapon (BW) tularemia was a component of both the vast U.S. arsenal of chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction, and that of their arch Cold War nemesis.

Officially, the sensor readings have been deemed normal levels of background bacteria, possibly amplified by the many thousands of feet stirring the earth enough to create particulate clouds, that in turn set off alarms. Weaponized, biological agents are generally aerosolized for deployment; so, defensive measures are directed toward air-borne particles.

Could be. But, if that's the nuts of it, why release this report?

Contrite perhaps, there have been mumblings from the administration of attempts to now track, and presumably contact people identifying themselves as having attended the anti-administration rallies to see if they're okay.


The implications of this are, in themselves furtile ground enough for plantations of conspiracy speculation. But, there's a still more worrisome aspect to all this.

The only informtion so far released to back up Homeland Security's claims is their word. Considering the past record of the agency, and its rainbow hued terror alerts, many conspicuously convenient to the Commmander-in-Chief's political aims, determining whether this event is real, or another invention of the myriad black and psy-op disinformation campaigns, the ones Donald Rumsfeld announced as initiated, then cancelled, is an open question. Which is of course the exact mandate of those extant but non-existent programs designed to confound with info-noise.

And the squawk levels seem to be increasing.

Bird flu has been on the lips of various news disseminators for weeks. So far, the flu has proven a hard sell - hardly on par with SARS - but the season's changing, and once the sniffles and annual ague begins, it's signifigance should grow in the public mind, raising too its stock on the "Disaster Index Market" (DIM). That the dread pandemic promised has killed an approximated 100 persons throughout all of Asia, it's reputed home, is overshadowed by dire media reports that it has proven to be a fatal illness in 50% of those so far afflicted; hardly the kind of numbers to qualify an expert statistical survey.

Ever ahead of the curve, G.W. Bush pitched Bird flu today, outlining the kind of powers he thinks his office should be granted, extra-constitutional to be sure, to handle the plague to come. Being DIM-minded and thinking the timing right, George now suggests the army be mobilized in such a scenario, rather than State agencies, etc., much as they were in the aftermath of Katrina and the "draining of the New Orleans swamp," to "handle" the forced quarantine of potentially thousands.

Oddly enough, the symptoms of 'rabbit fever' ape those of the common flu: muscle aches, repiratory difficulty, fever, etc. It's beginning to seem as though the Bush administration is moving away from the well-worn "War on Terror' to ever more mundane "threats" to the American people to justify his grab for total power and the further militarization of that society.

Imagine; all of us just a sneeze away from the Q-Camp.

Chris Cook
is the recently elevated Senior editor of PEJ News. He also hosts Gorilla Radio, broad/webcast from the University of Victoria, Canada. You can check out the GR Blog here.

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Monday, October 03, 2005

Sensors Detect Bio-weapon in Washington, D.C.

Health Officials Vigilant for Illness After Sensors Detect Bacteria on Mall

Agent Found as Protests Drew Thousands of Visitors
By Petula Dvorak
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, October 2, 2005; Page C13

A week after six bioterrorism sensors detected the presence of a dangerous bacterium on the Mall, health officials said there are no reports that any of the thousands of people in the nation's capital Sept. 24 have tularemia, the illness that results from exposure to the bacteria.

Federal health officials are still testing the samples from air sensors on the Mall and in downtown Washington that collected a small amount of the tularemia agent, which can cause flulike symptoms and is usually treated with antibiotics.

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The bacteria probably was not the result of nefarious activity, according to federal investigators. "There is no known nexus to terror or criminal behavior. We believe this to be environmental," said Russ Knocke, spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security.

The mission for health officials now is to figure out how the bacteria got there, why they were detected that day and whether they are from a strain that doesn't affect humans.

"Our purpose now is to reach into the medical community just to make sure nobody out there has any symptoms," said Von Roebuck, spokesman for the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "There is an incubation window of one to six days, but we still want to get this information into clinicians' hands."

Health officials in the Washington area were notified Friday that the filters on biohazard sensors that make up the BioWatch network detected the bacteria Sept. 24, when tens of thousands of people were on the Mall for antiwar demonstrations and the National Book Festival.

The samples were collected between 10 a.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. Sunday. The naturally-occurring biological agent -- which is on the "A list" of the Department of Homeland Security's biohazards, along with anthrax, plague and smallpox -- was detected in small amounts, said Gregg A. Pane of the D.C. Department of Health.

Detection of the bacteria turned into an incident with nationwide implications, because thousands of protesters had come from throughout the country. The infection is not spread from person to person, but tracking potential patients became a coast-to-coast undertaking. Police said that more than 100,000 people attended the rally; organizers put the figure at 300,000.

After the filters were tested in Washington, further tests were done by CDC laboratories in Atlanta, Knocke said.

Meanwhile, the CDC was using its nationwide tracking system to look for unusual occurrences of pneumonia-like symptoms in every state, Roebuck said.

After seeing no cases and finding that the levels of tularemia in their samples were low, health officials at the CDC decided Friday night to release their findings in the event that there were cases, on the sunset of the incubation period, that weren't being detected, Roebuck said.

Pane said he learned of the biohazard alert that night, when CDC officials told him that sensors at the Lincoln Memorial, Judiciary Square and Fort McNair tested positive for the bacterium.

He immediately put out an alert to hospitals, clinics, doctors and pharmacies in the area to be on the lookout for symptoms, which can resemble pneumonia. "The linchpin is that we're still in the incubation window, so we really don't know that there were no cases," he said.

Pane said one theory is that tularemia bacteria, which occur naturally in soil, might have been kicked up by the thousands of feet stomping on the Mall grounds that day.

Homeland Security and the CDC work together to operate the BioWatch sensors. The $60 million-plus system was created in 2001 to monitor air in more than 30 U.S. cities.

The system recently was criticized in a June report by the Government Accountability Office. It highlighted communication problems within the network and questioned the nation's capabilities in environmental surveillance, an emerging technical field.

A similar incident occurred in Houston in October 2003, when two air sensors detected fragments of tularemia bacteria. There were no human cases of tularemia reported after the incident, and some experts in the bioterror field said they believe the incident was actually spurred by a strain of the bacteria that does not affect humans.

"It's probably something that just lives in the environment," said Tara O'Toole, who is director of the Center for Biosecurity, sponsored by the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. "We forget that microorganisms rule the world. Now we're looking and finding things we didn't know were there."

Tularemia, often called "rabbit fever" because small animals are often carriers in rural areas, was amassed by the U.S. military as a biological weapon in the 1960s.

Peace Bug: CDC Reports Bacterial Exposure Threat During D. C. Anti-War Demo

[A fishy tale]

The World War II Memorial (front) as viewed from the top of the Washington Monument along with the Reflecting Pool leading to the Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall May 27, 2004. Small amounts of bacteria that cause "rabbit fever" were found on the Mall last weekend as thousands of protesters marched against the Iraq War, U.S. health authorities said on Saturday. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Oct 3, 2005 — WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Small amounts of bacteria that cause "rabbit fever" were found on Washington's National Mall last weekend as thousands of protesters marched against the Iraq War, U.S. health authorities said on Saturday.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said several government environmental air monitors in the Mall area detected low levels of Francisella tularensis bacteria that cause tularemia, commonly known as rabbit fever, on September 24-25.

Public health agencies had no reports of any related human or animal illnesses caused by the bacteria.

The CDC said it issued an alert on Friday night as a precaution so medical personnel were aware of the situation and could report any suspected cases.

Rabbit fever cannot be passed from person to person and can be effectively treated with readily available medicines, the CDC said. Symptoms usually appear 3 to 5 days after exposure, but in rare cases can take up to 2 weeks.

Symptoms of the disease, which an infected person would have begun experiencing no earlier than on Monday, include: sudden fever, chills, headaches, conjunctivitis, diarrhea, muscle aches, joint pain, dry cough and progressive weakness.

District of Columbia health officials told local radio station WTOP on Saturday the detected bacteria were not harmful and probably occurred naturally.

The CDC waited a week to notify city officials of the detected bacteria because it took that long to test the samples at labs and confirm its presence, the radio station reported.

According to the CDC's Web site, people can get rabbit fever by being bitten by a infected tick, deerfly or other insect; handling infected animal carcasses; eating or drinking contaminated food or water; or, breathing in the bacteria.

The CDC also said the bacteria can be used as a weapon if made into an aerosol that could be inhaled.

"The bacteria that cause tularemia occur widely in nature and could be isolated and grown in quantity in a laboratory, although manufacturing an effective aerosol weapon would require considerable sophistication," the CDC said.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Gorilla Radio for October 3rd, 2005

Gorilla Radio for Monday, Oct. 3, 2005

PEJ News
- C. L. Cook - This week: Bernie Dwyer, Irish film maker and journalist living in Cuba on her latest documentary, 'Mission Against Terror,' and the on-going struggle to free "The Cuba Five."

And Jon Elmer reporting from Palestine's Gaza Strip.

And, Janine Bandcroft bringing us up to speed on all that's good to do in and around Victoria this week.

Chris Cook
hosts Gorilla Radio, airing live every Monday, 5-6pm Pacific Time. In Victoria at 101.9FM, 104.3 cable, and on the internet at: He also serves as a contributing editor at the progressive web news site:

You can check out the GR blog at:

Gorilla Radio for 3/10/05
C. L. Cook

PEJ News
October 2, 2005

America’s antipathy towards Cuba is nothing new. In fact, an active counter-revolution campaign including sabotage, assassination, and acts that have no definition but terrorism has been conducted from U. S. soil, all condoned and directed often by every administration since Kennedy. To this day, admitted terrorists live in seaside comfort in Miami.

Bernie Dwyer is a film maker and radio journalist working with Radio Cuba. She’s currently touring Canada and the world screening the award-winning documentary, ‘Mission Against Terror’ with co-writer and director, Roberto Ruiz Rebo. The film relates the fate of “The Cuba Five,” five men sent to Florida to infiltrate Miami’s Cuban community, seeking organizations behind terrorist attacks against the island nation. Bernie Dwyer in the first half.

And; the Israeli Defence Force, true to Ariel Sharon’s word, evicted Israeli settlers and military posts in Palestine’s Gaza Strip. But, what had been initially greeted with cautious optimism in Gaza has quickly transformed by the dread of random destruction at the hands of IDF artillery and air-strikes occurring there.

Jon Elmer is a Halifax-based journalist and edits the news site, From Occupied Jon has been in Palestine for the last couple months, and joins us from Gaza in the second half.

And; Janine Bandcroft will be here at the bottom of the hour to bring us up to speed with all that’s good to do in and around Victoria this week. But first, Bernie Dwyer and freeing the Cuba Five.

G-Radio is dedicated to social justice, the environment, community, and providing a forum for people and issues not covered in the mainstream media.

Some past guests include: M. Junaid Alam, Joel Bakan, Maude Barlow, David Barsamian, William Blum, Luciana Bohne, Vincent Bugliosi, Helen Caldicott, Noam Chomsky, Michel Chossudovsky, Diane Christian, Juan Cole, David Cromwell, Jon Elmer, Reese Erlich, Jim Fetzer, Laura Flanders, Chris Floyd, Susan George, Stan Goff, Robert Greenwald, Denis Halliday, Chris Hedges, Sander Hicks, Julia Butterfly Hill, Robert Jensen, Dahr Jamail, Diana Johnstone, Kathy Kelly, Naomi Klein, Anthony Lappe, Frances Moore Lappe, Dave Lindorff, Jim Lobe, Jennifer Loewenstein, Wayne Madsen, Stephen Marshall, Linda McQuaig, George Monbiot, Loretta Napoleoni, John Nichols, Kurt Nimmo, Greg Palast, Michael Parenti, William Rivers Pitt, Sheldon Rampton, Paul Craig Roberts, Paul de Rooij, John Ross, Danny Schechter, Vandana Shiva, Norman Solomon, Starhawk, Grant Wakefield, Paul Watson, Bernard Weiner, Mickey Z., Dave Zirin, and many others.