HHS and DHS Working to Save Us All with Project Bioshield

We’re all gonna die: GovExec.com reported yesterday that the Health and Human Services Department has awarded a Project Bioshield contract for two radiological countermeasures. Remember Project Bioshield? Herr Prez mentioned it in his 2003 State of the Union speech and Congress passed the bill in 2004. The PB supposedly “provides new tools to improve medical countermeasures protecting Americans against a chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear attack.”

Specifically, HHS is spending $21.9 million on a five-year contract awarded to Akorn Inc., which is expected to deliver 390,000 doses of Ca-DTPA (Pentetate Calcium Trisodium Injection Sterile Solution) and 60,000 doses of its Zn-DTPA (Pentetate Zinc Trisodium Injection Sterile Solution). Hameln Pharmaceuticals GmbH of Hameln, Germany, developed the drugs.

The Federal Drug Administration approved the drugs for treatment of acute radiation exposure in 2004. According to the FDA, they are appropriate for very specific contamination situations:

Until today, there had been no approved drug products for the treatment of internal contamination with plutonium, americium, or curium.

Remember the old days of duck and cover? I do, along with the recurring nightmares of nuclear annihilation that were my childhood companions.

Internal contamination with plutonium, americium, or curium can occur through a variety of routes including ingestion, inhalation, or direct contact through wounds. The goal of treatment with Ca-DTPA and Zn-DTPA is to enhance the removal of these radioactive contaminants and therefore the risk of possible future biological effects including the development of certain cancers, which may occur years after exposure.

Release of plutonium, americium and curium could occur from laboratory or industrial accidents; or through terrorist attacks using a radiation dispersal device (RDD), commonly known as a “dirty bomb.”

This is just a small part of Project Bioshield, which also calls for stockpiling the following:

  • 75 million doses of a second generation anthrax vaccine that was supposed to become available for stockpiling beginning in 2005.
  • New medical treatments for anthrax directed at neutralizing the effects of anthrax toxin.
  • Polyvalent botulinum antitoxin.
  • A safer second generation smallpox vaccine.


Jeb Jabs Dick Over Shooting

Gettin’ his funny on: According to this afternoon’s edition of the Miami Herald, Gov. Jeb Bush made a joke at Vice President Dick Cheney’s expense over his allegedly accidental shooting of a hunting companion. Well, it was kind of a joke, I suppose:

Bush, younger brother of President Bush, spoke to about 1,000 people Monday at the Florida State Fair Governor’s Day Luncheon. All guests, including the governor, were given stickers from the Florida Farm Bureau that read, “No Farmers, No Food.”

Bush placed the bright orange sticker, the same color as a hunting jacket, on his chest.

”I’m a little concerned that Dick Cheney is going to walk in,” he said.

Hoowee, that one had them rolling in the aisles over at the Farm Bureau.

Eerie Parallels Between Cheney, Oswald

Keeping the “ass” in assassin: The cold-blooded shooting of prominent Austin attorney Harry Whittington by Vice President of Torture Dick Cheney while “hunting” on Saturday bears some chilling parallels with the assassination of John F. Kennedy by Lee Harvey Oswald in November 1963:

  • Both incidents involved a lone gunman.
  • Both incidents occurred in Texas.
  • Neither Cheney nor Oswald had a valid Texas hunting license.
  • In both incidents, the administration initially tried to conceal the facts from the media.

Coincidence? I don’t think so. Conspiracy? Probably. Cover-up? Undoubtedly.

Poll: Americans Pessimistic About Middle East Peace Prospects

Conflict fatigue: A recent Gallup poll found that few Americans believe there will be peace in the Middle East anytime soon, if ever. Nearly two-thirds of respondents said they didn’t think there will “come a time when Israel and the Arab nations will be able to settle their differences and live in peace.”

  • Just 32 percent predicted more harmonious times.
  • Six in 10 said their sympathies were with the Israelis.
  • 15 percent said they felt more for the Palestinians.
  • 13 percent sympathized with neither group.
  • A 44-percent plurality of one half-sample said the U.S. should conduct diplomatic relations with Hamas only if it recognizes Israel as a country.
  • 57 percent of the other half-sample said the U.S. shouldn’t offer financial aid to the Palestinian Authority while Hamas is in power, regardless of its stance toward Israel.

    Heckuva job, Georgie!
    Nearly four in 10 respondents said they approved of President Bush’s work on foreign affairs, and 55 percent said they disapproved. His overall approval rating came in at 42/55, only slightly off from January’s 43/53.

VA Nurse Accused of Sedition for Criticizing Gubmint

Exhuming McCarthy: Little did Veterans Administration nurse Laura Berg suspect that when she dashed off a letter to the editor of the Albuquerque weekly Alibi it would lead to her work computer being seized by her bosses, who also accused her of “sedition.” Let’s be clear here. Dr. Webster defines sedition as “the stirring up of discontent, resistance or rebellion against the government.” Judge for yourself if what Berg wrote, as reported in The Progressive, constitutes sedition:

“I am furious with the tragically misplaced priorities and criminal negligence of this government,” it began. “The Katrina tragedy in the U.S. shows that the emperor has no clothes!” She mentioned that she was “a VA nurse” working with returning vets. “The public has no sense of the additional devastating human and financial costs of post-traumatic stress disorder,” she wrote, and she worried about the hundreds of thousands of additional cases that might result from Katrina and the Iraq War.

“Bush, Cheney, Chertoff, Brown, and Rice should be tried for criminal negligence,” she wrote. “This country needs to get out of Iraq now and return to our original vision and priorities of caring for land and people and resources rather than killing for oil. . . . We need to wake up and get real here, and act forcefully to remove a government administration playing games of smoke and mirrors and vicious deceit.

Seditious? — “Bush, Cheney, Chertoff, Brown, and Rice should be tried for criminal negligence.”

Otherwise, many more of us will be facing living hell in these times.”

Thinking she wrote the letter on her work computer, her bosses at the VA seized her computer and, in a memo, accused her of sedition:

Mel Hooker, chief of the human resources management service at the Albuquerque VA, wrote Berg back on November 9 and acknowledged that “your personal computer files did not contain the editorial letter written to the editor of the weekly Alibi.”

But rather than apologize, he leveled the sedition charge: “The Agency is bound by law to investigate and pursue any act which potentially represents sedition,” he said. “In your letter . . . you declared yourself ‘as a VA nurse’ and publicly declared the Government which employs you to have ‘tragically misplaced priorities and criminal negligence’ and advocated, ‘act forcefully to remove a government administration playing games of smoke and mirrors and vicious deceit.’ ”

Berg has worked as a VA nurse for 15 years and is concerned for her job. The New Mexico office of the American Civil Liberties Union is working with her to clear her name, but so far, the VA has not admitted wrongdoing nor has it apologized.

What’s Wrong With Rap Music?

Rapping rap: In a guest commentary on The Black Commentator, Akweli Parker cuts loose on the current icons of rap music for their musical messages that glorify guns and drugs, and denigrate middle class values of hard work and achievement. Here are a couple of excerpts, but it’s worth reading the whole entertaining, insightful essay.

…. as we reflect on African Americans’ achievements this February during Black History Month, I find myself wondering just a bit more than usual, and a little more angrily than usual, What in the hell is going on with our music? It’s been hijacked by one-dimensional caricatures who stand to significantly retard, if not outright roll back, the progress African Americans have made in the past half-century.


Yeah, I realize many of our brothers are born into poverty and despair, with seemingly few options besides “the trade” or other underground economy activities. But how do you explain immigrants of color who come to this country with less than nothing, and parlay it into the American Dream?

I have a theory: it’s that black peoples’ most visible role models are entertainers and athletes, admirable folks, but not the true bedrock of the upper middle class – that would be engineers, doctors, businesspeople and intellectuals.

Call me naive, but whatever happened to the quaint notion of conveying some type of pedagogic message in urban storytelling?


Call me naive, but whatever happened to the quaint notion of conveying some type of pedagogic message in urban storytelling? MC’s like Grandmaster Flash, KRS-One, Public Enemy and Eric B. had it down. Somehow, they collectively managed to portray the gritty misery and violence of the streets, the sensuousness of black sexuality and that indispensable rap staple, shameless self-promotion, without promoting self-genocide.


And so I make this simple plea: White people, since you are purportedly the largest purchasers of rap music – stop worshipping 50 and the nihilistic narcism of his music; same goes for other artistically devoid rap cartoons. Otherwise you’re encouraging them and setting back hard-working blacks. There are better rap acts more deserving of your money.

Poll: Bush Inspires Voters — To Vote Against Him

Voting for regime change: Tired of George W. Bush’s lies, hubris, bullying, nonreading and the sound of his voice, Americans are ready to cast their votes to get rid of him and his corrupt cronies and toadies in Congress.

The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press finds:

Nine months before the midterm elections, the Democrats hold a sizable lead in the congressional horse race and an advantage on most major issues. Democrats lead by 50 percent-41 percent among registered voters in the test ballot, which is little changed from last September (52 percent-40 percent).

While retaining a huge advantage on traditional party strengths like the environment and health care, Democrats also are seen as better able to handle the economy (by 46 percent-36 percent) and reform the federal government (42 percent-29 percent). Terrorism, and to a lesser extent crime, remain the GOP’s only strong issues among 12 tested in the survey.

More registered voters see their congressional choice as a vote ‘against’ Bush
  • More registered voters see their congressional choice as a vote “against” Bush. Currently, 31 percent say they view their ballot as a vote against the president, compared with 18 percent who say they see it as a vote for the president. In February 2002, just 9 percent of voters said they were voting ‘against’ Bush, while 34 percent said they were voting “for” the president.
  • Democrats have advantage on issues, but not leadership. Slightly more Americans say the GOP has better political leaders (by 41 percent-37 percent).
  • Majority says congressional corruption is nothing new. Six-in-ten say these problems are no different than in the past, compared with 36 percent who believe that corruption is more common today. By 31 percent to 14 percent, more people say the Republican Party has greater involvement than the Democratic Party in congressional corruption. But fully a third (34 percent) volunteer that both parties are equally involved in corruption.
  • A growing number says health care system needs repair. About a third (32 percent) think the health care system should be completely rebuilt, up from 21 percent a year ago; another 46 percent say the health care system needs major changes.
  • Public satisfaction with the news media has rebounded. Currently 59 percent express a favorable opinion of the news media, up from 43 percent in December 2004. In addition, a solid majority (56 percent) says it is more important for the news media to report stories they feel are in the national interest, while just 34 percent believe it is more important for the government to censor news stories on national security grounds. In February 2003, somewhat fewer (50 percent) backed the media’s right to report.

Pensito Review: Off the Wires

New Tomb Found in Valley of Kings
CAIRO, Egypt – American archaeologists have uncovered a pharaonic-era tomb in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings, the first uncovered there since King Tutankhamun’s in 1922, Egypt’s antiquities chief announced Wednesday. Zahi Hawass, head of the Supreme Council of Antiquities said, “Curse? what cur-aaaaiiiieeeee!!!”

Yer Out! No Baseball, Softball for 2012
TURIN, Italy – They’re out! Baseball and softball won’t be played at the 2012 London Olympics. Baseball and women’s softball remain on the program for the 2008 Beijing Games, and will be eligible to reapply for readmission to the 2016 games. The American sports have been replaced by cricket and pub darts for the London Games.

Chavez Calls Blair ‘Pawn of Imperialism’
CARACAS, Venezuela – Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on Wednesday called British Prime Minister Tony Blair “a pawn of imperialism,” accusing him of siding with President Bush in a confrontation with Venezuela. Blair, known for his rapier-like wit when trading barbs with Parliament, replied, “I know I am, but what are you?”

Hezbollah Leader to Bush: ‘Shut Up’
BEIRUT, Lebanon – The leader of Hezbollah, heading a march by hundreds of thousands of Shiite Muslims Thursday, said President Bush and his secretary of state should “shut up” after they accused Syria and Iran of fueling protests over cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. In the latest AP/IPSOS poll, six out of 10 Americans agree with Hezbollah that Bush and Rice both should just shut the hell up.

A Poem for Our Times

But it doesn’t rhyme: This is a poem made up entirely of actual things uttered by George W. Bush. They allegedly have been arranged for “aesthetic” purposes by Washington Post writer Richard Thompson. Though it is not actually haiku, it does read like a kind of blank verse.


I think we all agree, the past is over.
This is still a dangerous world.
It’s a world of madmen and uncertainty
And potential mental losses.

Rarely is the question asked
Is our children learning?
Will the highways of the Internet
Become more few?

How many hands have I shaked?
They misunderestimate me.
I am a pitbull on the pant leg of opportunity.

I know that the human being
And the fish can coexist.
Families is where our nation finds hope,
Where our wings take dream.

Put food on your family!
Knock down the tollbooth!
Vulcanize society!
Make the pie higher!

Make the pie higher!

Thanks to Lili.

McCain Rebukes Pentagon ‘Emergency’ Spending

Footing the bill: At a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing yesterday, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) gave Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld an earful of criticism over the Bush administration’s policy of using supplemental appropriations to pay for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. McCain said that reliance on emergency spending provided an “end run” around Congress.

Democrats were howling too, arguing that wartime costs should be predictable more than four years after the onset of the Iraq war.

“I don’t know how you can call it an emergency anymore,” McCain told Rumsfeld.

Supplemental spending requests are not held to the same authorization standards as traditional budget submissions.

McCain also argued that supplemental spending was contrary to congressional efforts to improve the appropriations process. Supplemental spending requests are handled solely by the Appropriations committees, and are not held to the same authorization standards as traditional budget submissions.

“To continue to come up here with a, quote, emergency spending request is something that’s become unacceptable and it’s got to stop,” said McCain, long a watchdog of wasteful government spending.

In response, Rummie seemingly contradicted himself:

Rumsfeld responded by saying he could submit the wartime costs in the regular budget, but had been advised by Congress several years ago not to do so because wartime costs were unpredictable. His remarks diverged from his testimony last year that supplemental appropriations were prepared much closer to the time funds are needed, allowing more accurate cost estimates and quicker access to funds.

In two weeks the Pentagon will request $70 billion more for Iraq and Afghanistan for the remainder of fiscal 2006, bringing the year’s total wartime emergency appropriations to $120 billion. Appropriators attached a $50 billion bridge fund to the 2006 Defense spending bill, even though it was not requested by the administration.