Bird Flu Redux

Saturday, 16 May 2009

I can’t resist writing about this: Human noses too cold for bird flu.

All of that panic in 2005, 2006, and 2007, and it turns out that we can’t even incubate the virus properly because human noses are generally not the same temperature as bird guts.  Or something like that.

Long-time readers (if there are still any around) may remember that this Max never bought into the panic.

My first bird flu post in November 2005 decried the $7.1 billion that then “President” Bush had pledged to fight bird flu.  It also pointed out that War Secretary Rumsfeld had declined to sell his shares in Gilead Sciences, owners of the patent for the antiviral drug Tamiflu.  Instead Rumsfeld announced that he would not participate in government when it was dealing with bird flu related issues.  What a guy.

My post in December 2005 shared information from MedPage Today of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, which basically told people not to panic and not to take Tamiflu unless they actually had a normal human flu.  That page is still there, with the title Avian Flu Deaths Linked to Tamiflu Resistance.

I then left bird flu alone until February 2007 when the H5N1 virus hit a turkey farm in England.  The authorities there announced that they were going to kill 159,000 turkeys to prevent the spread of the virus.  And I wrote that by February 2007, only 165 people worldwide had died of avian influenza and the virus had not mutated to pass from human to human.

And now we know why.

Of course we also now have a new flu to instil panic, which may or may not turn out to be worthy of that panic.  Here are my 2 favourite things about that virus:

“They said we would have a black president when pigs fly.  One hundred days in… swine flu.”

and today this:

Swine flu fears could delay Hajj.  Oh, the delicious irony.


President Gas 2008

Saturday, 26 April 2008

a contemporary twist on a classic by the Psychedelic Furs;

I found it on Crooks and Liars

Lives and Treasure

Thursday, 20 March 2008
pirate game

“No one would argue that this war has not come at a high cost in lives and treasure…”

PЯesident George W Bush, speaking yesterday about Iraq

Sorry – “treasure”?

I don’t know about everyone else, but I find that use of the word ‘treasure’ offensive. The war in Iraq is not a children’s game of pirates, and the taxpayers’ hard-earned money is not ‘treasure’.

But W is an asshole and John McCain is going to be even worse.

Pakistan today, The Amerika tomorrow

Monday, 5 November 2007

police state


I am not saying that it is imminent, or indeed that it is going to happen at all. I am saying, however, that we need to be aware that it is possible. And, most importantly, that the legislation that would make martial law legal in The Amerika is already in place.

I wrote about Aaron Russo’s film, America: Freedom to Fascism, in August 2006. In that post, I included the film’s sample list of executive orders. As I trust no one, I had checked to make sure Russo wasn’t full of shit. I found that his list was correct – all of the executive orders are real.

President Bush has signed executive orders giving him sole authority to impose martial law and suspend habeas corpus. This gives him dictatorial power over the people…with no checks and balances.

All of the following orders were in place long before Bush took office.

Executive Order #11921 – provides that the President can declare a state of emergency that is not defined, and Congress cannot review the action for six months – signed by Gerald R. Ford, 11 June 1976.

Executive Order #10990 – allows the government to take over all modes of transportation – signed by John F. Kennedy, 2 February 1962.

Executive Order #10995 – allows the government to seize and control the communications media – signed by John F. Kennedy, 16 February 1962.

Executive Order #10997 – allows the government to take over all electrical power, gas, petroleum, fuels and minerals – signed by John F. Kennedy, 16 February 1962.

Executive Order #10998 – allows the government to take over all food resources and farms – signed by John F. Kennedy, 16 February 1962.

Executive Order #11002 – Postmaster General to operate a national registration of all persons – signed by John F. Kennedy, 16 February 1962.

Executive Order #11000 – allows the government to mobilize civilians into work brigades under government supervision – signed by John F. Kennedy, 16 February 1962.

The Huffington Post yesterday published a list of some of the rights that have been suspended in Pakistan:


  • Protection of life and liberty.
  • The right to free movement.
  • The right of detainees to be informed of their offence and given access to lawyers.
  • Protection of property rights.
  • The right to assemble in public.
  • The right to free speech.
  • Equal rights for all citizens before law and equal legal protection.
  • Media coverage of suicide bombings and militant activity is curtailed by new rules. Broadcasters also face a three-year jail term if they “ridicule” members of the government or armed forces.






I would like to review all of Bush’s executive orders to see exactly what powers he has already claimed, but he has signed literally hundreds and I already have a full-time job.


And in addition to the executive branch usurping powers, the legislative branch has happily handed additional powers to the president. As an example, Public Law 109-364, the “John Warner Defense Authorization Act of 2007” (HR 5122), which was signed into law on 17 October 2006. The Act gives the president the power to declare a public emergency and station troops anywhere in the Amerika and take control of state-based National Guard units without the consent of the governor or local authorities. Does anyone remember the Posse Comitatus Act?


And don’t forget another consequence of Pakistan’s state of emergency – the elections that were planned for January 2008 will be postponed until there is no longer a state of emergency. General Musharraf will therefore remain in power until further notice.


George W Bush – president for life. Has an interesting ring to it, doesn’t it?

On the war in Iraq

Friday, 24 August 2007

iraq wounded child


Today whilst reading Strike the Root, I realised why I had not written anything about the war in Iraq for a long time. In fact, I think my last mention was in reference to the Democrats’ appalling performance in passing the Iraq spending bill back in May. And since I have signed up to the One Million Blogs for Peace project, I am supposed to at least once in a while write something in opposition to the war.

Just to make it clear – I am opposed to the war in Iraq and I think the United States and all of its partners, whether coalition of the willing or coalition of the coerced, should pack up and leave immediately.

So the reason I have not written about Iraq is that there is too much material. Which actually means too many lies, too much corruption, and too much evidence of exploitation and overwhelming unconcern for the human condition. “Pяesident” Bush and Darth Cheney and their satanic cohorts don’t give a shit about freedom, democracy or the Iraqi people. In fact, they don’t even give a shit about the American people.

Earlier this week I wanted to write about Bush’s asinine Vietnam comparison. Bush’s knowledge of history is disgraceful. But I never got round to it because it would have involved too much research, I don’t remember Vietnam, and I have a day job. It seems there was a good analysis in the New York Times, which makes me happy because the New York Times has a significantly larger readership than I do.

In the past I have written about the use of depleted uranium, the use of white phosphorus and the abhorrent actions of Americans in Abu Ghraib. I have written about the impending draft and about Sam, a young Marine I knew who died in Iraq.

Today on the radio I heard about a little girl who was collateral damage in a bombing raid and is now paralysed from the neck down and can’t breathe without a ventilator. She is 5 years old. Her mother, brother and grandmother died in the same attack. The little girl, Maria, was actually from Gaza, not Iraq, but the details don’t matter. The consequences are exactly the same.

To most of us, war is merely an unimaginable horror. But today try to imagine your life in a war zone. You have no running water or electricity, you often don’t have enough to eat or clean water to drink. Imagine being afraid of going out into the street, you are living in fear of the military, the insurgents and the counter-insurgents. You fear for your children’s lives. This existence is difficult, even humiliating, but you are surviving. And then one day your house gets blown up, your children are killed or maimed, their young lives destroyed in an instant, and you yourself will now have to live the rest of your life blind, paralysed or limbless.

When will they learn?

Monday, 6 August 2007

liberty bell
Proclaim liberty throughout all the land…


A society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both. — Benjamin Franklin

“President” Bush yesterday signed legislation that broadens the government’s capacity to spy on American citizens.

Those of us that live overseas have been aware for quite a while that our phone calls with family and friends in The New Amerika, as well as the emails we send, are being monitored. We were also aware that it was illegal. The National Security Agency was conducting secret surveillance outside the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and without obtaining warrants from the FISA court.

But all of that changed yesterday. The covert NSA surveillance, that is the government spying on American citizens, was made legal. Which is not to say that it’s okay and which is not to say that it’s constitutional. In fact I would say that both the pяez and Congress have operated outside the law on this one. I once again laugh at those who thought the Democrats were going to save us.

Under the new law, the government can eavesdrop on a conversation without a warrant on the condition that the person who is their surveillance target is “reasonably believed” to be overseas. Don’t forget that if you are American and you travel or live overseas, the government will not be happy with you. They would like you to stay inside The New Amerika where they can keep a closer eye on you.

But don’t worry. The White House has assured us that the objective is to focus on foreign suspects who are overseas and that Americans will not be targeted. And don’t worry because oversight for this special international spying has been taken away from the FISA court and handed over to the attorney general and the national intelligence director. Both of whom can now force telecommunications companies to cooperate. And at least one of whom sponsors torture, but I guess that is beside the point.

And for those who repeat the foolish mantra, “Why should I care? I’ve got nothing to hide,” here is my answer. You can’t know that you’ve got nothing to hide when you don’t know what they are looking for. And what they are looking for next month may be different from what they were looking for last month. An innocent remark today may be the reason for your arrest tomorrow. And you can no longer count on the protection of habeas corpus.


On today’s injustice

Tuesday, 3 July 2007

get out of jail free card


Early Christmas for Scooter – the pяez gives him a get out of jail free card.

Bush’s decision is beyond disgraceful. It reeks of cronyism – once again the old boys protecting each other without a thought for justice or political responsibility. But it is in no way surprising – anyone could have predicted that Bush would not allow one of his own to go to jail. And he obviously could not care less what the rest of us think about it.