Showing posts sorted by relevance for query anthrax. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query anthrax. Sort by date Show all posts

Thursday, September 11, 2014

american anthrax: why secrets, public service, and governance don't mix


ICH |  September 11, 2001, shook the United States to the core, a country that had been nearly untouchable since its democratic inception. However, immediately following this horrific tragedy, another equally as impactful 'terrorist attack' occurred when weaponized anthrax was sent to multiple Congressman and journalists through the U.S. Postal Service.

The attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were both one-time events that happened in two prominent cities. Unlike 9/11, the Anthrax Attacks localized terrorism and spread fear to every corner of American life, where the simple act of getting your mail could prove to be fatal. Five people died as a result of breathing in the deadly anthrax spores, including postal workers and one NY Post reporter. Countless others were infected.

The Bush administration initially tried to link this 'second wave of terrorism' to al-Qaeda with zero proof. Once that talking point out-lived its usefulness, the official narrative began leaning towards Saddam Hussein and his mythological biological weapons program.

Establishment propagandists like John Mccaine and ABC news reporters intentionally spread disinformation to plant the seed in the public mind that the anthrax came from Iraq, which eventually lead to Colin Powell's infamous 2003 WMD speech at the UN. All the while, the U.S. government was fully aware that the anthrax did not come from an external source, because the strain showed tell-tale signs of being a specific anthrax strain that was weaponized and manufactured by the U.S. military.

Regardless, the idea of the Anthrax Attacks being executed by an external terrorist organization remained conventional wisdom the public was conditioned into believing in the aftermath of 9/11. Eventually, two men were accused of being the perpetrators behind the attacks, yet no charges were ever brought to either of them. The first accused individual, Steven Hatfill, ended up being rewarded a multimillion dollar settlement from the government for being wrongly accused before any evidence was presented against him. The subsequent accused individual, Bruce Ivins, allegedly committed suicide while the FBI was trying to break him into confessing.

Ultimately, the FBI asked the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to verify its evidence pointing to Ivins as the main suspect. Instead, the NAS concluded that the DNA in the anthrax sent in the mail was in fact not a match to the anthrax Ivins worked with. Before the National Academy of Sciences finished their independent investigation, the FBI rushed its preestablished conclusions about Ivins's guilt to the press, and the case was closed. To this day, the FBI has never commented on the many glaring contradictions in the official government narrative about the Anthrax Attacks.

Monday, April 20, 2015

the anthrax coverup exposed


PCR |  Update: Both Senator Leahy and Senator Daschle were in positions capable of blocking
the neo-Nazi PATRIOT Act. Both senators had negotiated with the Bush regime changes in the act that made it less tyrannical. However, the changes were not in the final draft of the act sent to Congress. Consequently, Leahy and Daschle were resisting the rush to passage. I have often wondered if Leahy and Daschle understood the anthrax letters to be Washington’s warning: “Get out of the way of Tyranny or we will kill you.”

Graeme MacQueen’s 2014 book, The 2001 Anthrax Deception: The Case for a Domestic Conspiracy, has been vindicated by the head of the FBI’s Anthrax Investigation. 

Four and one-half months ago I posted a review of MacQueen’s book. http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2014/12/02/2001-anthrax-deception-case-domestic-conspiracy/ The hired government apologists, the despicable presstitute media, and the usual gullible patriots greeted the book with screams of “conspiracy theory.” In fact, MacQueen’s book was a carefully researched project that established that there indeed was a conspiracy–a conspiracy inside the government.
MacQueen’s conclusion stands vindicated by Richard Lambert, the agent in charge of the FBI anthrax investigation who has turned whistleblower. http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2015/04/head-fbis-anthrax-investigation-calls-b-s.html

It was obvious to any person familiar with the techniques that governments use to erode liberty by destroying the protection given to citizens by law that the purpose of the anthrax letters, especially the letters to senators Patrick Leahy and Tom Daschle, was to raise the fear level in order to guarantee the passage of the tyrannical PATRIOT Act. 

The PATRIOT Act was a decisive blow against American liberty. The act has served to negate the US Constitution in the 21st century and to endow the federal government with unaccountable and tyrannical powers.

Monday, August 01, 2016

thawing siberian reindeer precipitates anthrax outbreak...,


WaPo |  First a heatwave hit Siberia. Then came the anthrax.

Temperatures have soared in western Russia’s Yamal tundra this summer. Across Siberia, some provinces warmed an additional 10 degrees Fahrenheit beyond normal. In the fields, large bubbles of vegetation appeared above the melting permafrost — strange pockets of methane or, more likely, water. Record fires blazed through dry Russian grassland.

In one of the more unusual symptoms of unseasonable warmth, long-dormant bacteria appear to be active. For the first time since 1941, anthrax struck western Siberia. Thirteen Yamal nomads were hospitalized, including four children, the Siberian Times reported. The bacteria took an even worse toll on wildlife, claiming some 1,500 reindeer since Sunday.

According to NBC News, the outbreak is thought to stem from a reindeer carcass that died in the plague 75 years ago. As the old flesh thawed, the bacteria once again became active. The disease tore through the reindeer herds, prompting the relocation of dozens of the indigenous Nenet community. Herders face a quarantine that may last until September.

The governor, Dmitry Kobylkin, declared a state of emergency. On Tuesday, Kobylkin said “all measures” had been taken to isolate the area, according to AP. “Now the most important thing is the safety and health of our fellow countrymen — the reindeer herders and specialists involved in the quarantine.”

Anthrax has broken out in Russia several times, including one outbreak stemming from a 1979 accident at a military facility. To the south of Yamal, anthrax may rarely appear when infection spreads from cattle; a man died from such exposure in 2012, the Siberian Times reported.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

there are no sith lords?

Progstone | Some thoughts on the evidence recently posted that appalling conspiracies are currently in play, including powerful circumstantial evidence that (elements of) the current US administration at least colluded in the 9/11 atrocity, and are currently planning Mad Max megadeath horror.

I don't deny that these things are happening. They've always been happening. Thomas Jefferson said, "When men of the same profession gather together, they do so to conspire against the general public." After all, we have the open statement from before the 2000 election by the so-called American Century group of which Dubya & Co are members, that a "major incident" would be very beneficial for their agenda. What I do argue is that these things do not require us to suppose that persons of special knowledge or abilities are involved. It's just what normal sub-human consciousness does, given the opportunity. That's frightening enough on it's own (Gurdjieff wrote of "The Terror of the Situation") - but it's a monster we have already met. The goings on in any firm or local council writ large. There are no worse monsters. I've certainly seen nothing in the behaviour of Dubya, Blair, etc. indicating that any more than normal scheming, reality denying self-aggrandizers are involved, or that their objectives are any more than power crazed, personal material enrichment for their cronies, or the willingness to kill vast numbers in the pursuit of wasting even more resources for a brief while longer. I'm even willing to acknowledge that Dubya is a screwed up mapper (a macker). After all, he is an alcoholic. So despite his manifest cowardice ("I do not have anthrax. I do not have anthrax. I do not have anthrax."), low thinking centre intelligence and ignorance, he might be a quite inventive little toad, and hence all the more dangerous. I've never suggested that an active inductive mind *automatically* ensures goodness or wisdom if the person is emotionally damaged, as often occurs in current social conditions.

Instead I'd like to look at two other situations which at first look like sith might be involved, and demonstrate that we do not need to assume the existence of sith. The first situation has more than one thread to it, so please bear with me. I shall not pretend objectivity, since the whole business still annoys me.

In the late 1970s an artist called John Berger became concerned with what he saw as a growing retreat into delusional meeting room reality, and a consequent loss of all values. He believed that a return to basic physical reality was needed to reacquire our grounding. He moved to a village in rural France, and set forth his views in a novel called "Pig Earth". Berger is an able artist. First a photographer, his TV series "Ways of Seeing" was a landmark in making the arts accessible to a wider audience, and 30 years on his book which accompanied the series is still in print. On page one of the novel he wanted to engage the reader's attention before presenting his thesis, and did this by presenting a graphical visual image of a pair of elderly peasants making a complete mess of attempting to slaughter a cow. Berger can produce a strong visual image even when his medium is prose, and his description of the layers of bone, muscle and blood vessels revealed in the cow's shoulder as the peasants attempt to kill it is certainly strong. But it's just an attention getter. The point - which is all about the base reality revealed in the first page - comes in the rest of the book. "Pig Earth" was first published in New York in 1980, but didn't do well. It was republished in London in 1984 and did much better because it was marketed very aggressively by a close friend, which is why I know all the details of this aspect of the tale. My friend made sure "Pig Earth" was in some chains and every independent and arts bookshop in the land.

At the same time a Turkish embezzler called Asil Nadir was exploiting the growing retreat into self-delusion, enriching himself with a junk bond scam called Polly Peck. Nadir currently resides in the largely unrecognised state of Turkish Cyprus, where he is free from extradition and arrest. As an embezzler, Nadir would benefit from a more relaxed financial regulatory environment, and culturally impoverishing the population, since both would make them easier to swindle. Accordingly, he supplied a great deal of money to the then opposition Conservative
Party (elected to power in 1979), via it's bagman Jeffrey Archer, later Lord Archer, who later went to prison for perjury. The Conservatives received so much money from Nadir that their finances have never recovered from it's loss, after it was revealed that they were
bankrolled by a foriegn criminal. Much of the money then went to the advertising firm of Saatchi and Saatchi, which ran their propaganda campaign. One Charles Saatchi , now Lord Saatchi, who has never been to prison, is the candidate for a neuroarchaic sith lord in this story.

Now in every land, in every era, there is always found hanging around real artists a group of elderly degenerates who call themselves "the art world". Although they are utterly talentless, they find they can conceal their natures more easily in the vicinity of people who behave in more varied ways than is usual in society. Colleges of art therefore end up serving two functions. Talented students attend to learn the technical skills they need to express their inspirations, talentless students attend because they wish to meet the "art world". They are the sort of people who are willing to do absolutely anything, for small material rewards, so long as it does not take effort on their part. As these students age, they turn into the next generation of elderly degenerates, and so the cycle of corruption continues. To maintain the fiction that they are artists, each of them must as Gurdjieff put it, "manifest themselves absurdly" at least once. One of the least talented - but loudly self-advertising - students at the Royal College of Art in 1985 was one Damien Hirst. When it was time for him to manifest himself absurdly, he was completely stuck for ideas. Fortunately, there were plenty of copies of "Pig Earth" around, and he set out to re-create Berger's page one prose image, without the content of the book, in a literal, physical fashion. At least he had the grace to change the animal. The result was a shark, cut in half with a chainsaw and pickled. (When Marcel Duchamps did this kind of thing it was novel and challenging. Now it is purely formulaic.) Needless to say, this blatant act of empty plagerism caused considerable mirth amongst everyone who was even slightly aware of real contemporary arts at the time.

And there it would have ended, were it not for Saatchi, who very publicly handed Hirst a huge amount of Nadir's dirty money, and loudly announced, "He is a genius!" Of course, the ignorant, the gullible, the greedy and the easily led became hypnotised by the sight of the money, wished to follow fashion, and repeated the cry, "He is a genius!" In this way the talentless er... friend... of the "art world" Damien Hirst became the centrepiece of a group of similar creatures, entirely created by Saatchi, called BritArt. It was an evil scheme. A subtle tactic which removed all the value of real arts by replacing it with rubbish, and so impoverishing the population - although to be fair, the British working class never fell for it. Just the people with more money than sense, whom Saatchi wished to impoverish on behalf of his master, Nadir. Indeed, it was sufficiently subtle that people who didn't appreciate the importance of the cultural context doubted that Saatchi had done anything malign at all when it was pointed out to them. It is this that makes Saatchi a candidate for the honourific "Darth".

Except he is not so entitled! He's even less original than Hirst, and no special knowledge was required. The entire strategy, and the thinking behind it, was laid out in detail by Ayn Rand, in the 1943 novel, "The Fountainhead", which loudly proclaims on the cover of the 1983 printing I have before me, that 5,000,000 copies have been sold. I quote:

"Kill man's sense of values. Kill his capacity to recognize greatness or to achieve it. Great men can't be ruled. We don't want any great men. Don't deny the conception of greatness. Destroy it from within. The great is the rare, the difficult, the exceptional. Set up standards of
achievement open to all, to the least, to the most inept - and you stop the impetus to effort in all men, great or small. You stop all incentive to improvement, to excellence, to perfection. Laugh at Roark and hold Peter Keating as a great architect. You've destroyed architecture. Build up Lois Cook and you've destroyed literature. Hail Ike and you've destroyed the theatre. Glorify Lancelot Clokey and you've destroyed the press. Don't set out to raze all shrines - you'll frighten men. Enshrine mediocrity - and the shrines are razed. Then there's another way. Kill by laughter. Laughter is an instrument of human joy. Learn to use it as a weapon of destruction. Turn it into a sneer. It's simple. Tell them to laugh at everything. Tell them that a sense of humour is an unlimited virtue. Don't let anything remain sacred in a man's soul - and his soul won't be sacred to him. Kill reverence and you've killed the hero in man. One doesn't reverence with a giggle. He'll obey and he'll set no limits to his obedience - anything goes - nothing is too serious.... Nature allows no vacuum. Empty man's soul and the space is yours to fill."

BritArt is to the Council of American Artists in Rand's novel, as Hirst's pickled animal parts are to the cow in Berger's novel. And in case there's any doubt, the final artistic wonder in Hirst's repititions of his plagerism, each heralded as a greater work of genius than the last, was indeed a cow cut in half. Here's Rand's 1943 description of Saatchi's wretched, sneering, 1980s assembly:

"The Council of American Artists had as chairman a cadaverous youth who painted what he saw in his nightly dreams. There was a boy who used no canvas, but did something with bird-cages and metronomes, and another who discovered a new technique of painting: he blackened a sheet of paper and then painted with a rubber eraser. There was a stout middle-aged lady who drew sub-consciously, claiming that she never looked at her hand and had no idea of what the hand was doing; her hand, she said, was guided by the spirit of the departed lover whom she had never met on earth. Here they did not talk so much about the proletariat, but merely rebelled against the tyranny of reality and of the objective."

So while Charles Saatchi did something malevolent and destructive, we might almost say clever, a Sith Lord he is not. He simply implemented an exploit documented in Rand's 1943 advisory. The only thing that was not in Rand's book was the smell. Rand never mentioned personal hygene problems amongst the members of the Council of American Artists. Thus was Berger's artistic cry for values stolen and perverted by Saatchi into destruction of values. Afterword: Nadir himself had part of his ill-gotten gains squirreled away in a huge collection of exquisite watercolours. I know this because the curator he engaged was an artist and restorer of considerable talent and technical ability. He was fascinated by the concept of computer networking, and filled his house with CP/M machines connected by twisted pairs. As a young hacker I helped set up some of his curious network.

The second situation I'd like to mention, corny though it may be, is that of Adolf Hitler. There's no doubt he was a macker, and a master manipulator of a group of humans close to a marching point. Few today appreciate the significance of his funny little mustache, for example. What's interesting about him is the rallies. He stands there, making his curious, foppish little hand gestures, and shrieking things like, "You must give in to the compulsion to obey!" Now every generation thinks itself so much more worldly that it's predecessors, but if that we're true, we'd all be very wise now - and we're not. So why didn't the grandparents of today's Germans burst out laughing? I think we may be looking at an example of the use of microsynch, the study and perfomance of body language regimented by mass boredom addiction. The effect which (in reverse) can make people like bank clerks go mad wirth demented rage if an immune so much as walks up to them. The effect demonstrated by Gurdjieff, documented by Ouspensky and quoted in V2.0 chapter 2. I have twice heard a person describe another as "godlike". One was a minor civil servant who had reported to me that another civil servant had once more buggered up the paperwork, and prevented us receiving the supplies we needed. "Christ!", I exclaimed. "Who does that guy think he's working
for? Slobodan?" The reporter's response was extraordinary. His demented rant of defence of his imcompetent and feckless colleauge included the word "godlike". Both, as I would currently express it, were very boredom addicted, with the screecher less boredom addicted because of his occasional contact with teams I was keeping productive. The other case was an eldery man (a doctor, not a rabid fascist, not a member of the SS, just a regular German who after WWII moved to the UK), who described meeting Hitler. Over 40 years later his knuckles were white as he grasped the arms of his chair, and he used the same word, "godlike". Something very odd was going on here. Also add the determination to wipe out all members of groups who I conjecture have an unusually large minority immune to boredom addiction.

The thing about Hitler, if he did learn this stuff from members of an authentic school, is that he only got *partial* truths. Not all immunes are Jews and Poles, and not all Jews and Poles are natural immunes. Exterminating all Jews and Poles does not leave a population entirely
vulnerable to mass hypnotism in this way. Indeed, the only effect of his evil work in these terms, was to *enrich* the proportion of immunes in those populations. According to all understanding of military history, what happened in Israel in 1973, where Moshe Dyan had to completely reconstruct his entire national defence plan with the enemy in country and moving fast, and all his armour gone, simply can't happen. The mostly mapper Linux community could do it though, with the power of distributed, creative problem solving loosely structured by the overall guidance of one person. If someone told me that Hitler was wound up and set on his way by an authentic school, for the purpose of accellerating change (which he certainly did), then I would have no trouble believing it. But his effectiveness was constrained by partial truths. I find the idea uncomfortable that authentic schools would be willing to resort to such methods, but an implication of V2.0 chapter 6 is that people with advanced consciousness *are* willing to break eggs to make omlettes. A 2000+ year strategy to break boredom addiction, with little things like the Spanish Inquisition along the way.

But Hitler would not count as a sith, just a wind-up toy. Neither would the informants who limited his effectiveness so that he achieved the reverse of what he wanted. If the informants are serving a long term self-org objective of bringing the local planetary mind to awareness,
then their objectives, however dubious their methods might seem to us, would be good. They are not nihilists.

And this brings me to my final point. There's really only one thing going on - the reconstruction of the universe and growth of consciousness. I suppose a person might attend an authentic school, such as the Sarmoung described by Gurdjieff or the mysterious teachers of
Steiner, which we have intimations of existing, and somehow fail in their development. Then we might have a person with an exterior perspective, who could see M0 for what it was, and manipulate it. He or she might have astonishing powers of precognition, the ability to
translocate, and the ability to "kill a yak by the power of thought at a distance of several miles" (Gurdjieff). Yet for all this, the person of distorted development might be interested in serving only their own material greed, like a crack SAS soldier equipped with night vision
goggles, flashbangs and so on, who breaks into the nursery and steals all the toys. But why would the authentic schools, who are populated by people of full development, permit such an individual to do harm? They'd take him or her out of commission rather than let them damage the programme. Indeed, I see no evidence that any such persons are active in the world. As William of Occam said, let us not multiply hypotheses without necessity.

None of this removes the terrible danger posed by the zombie packers and screwed up mappers. It seems like a miracle will be needed to solve the problem, either in some "fail safe" predicted by the authentic schools that I believe engineered the present situation in order to take M0 out of it's stable envelope and break it, or something... else. Since my integrated deductive and inductive mind is convinced of the self-org imperative of our making it, with our deductive mind culture intact including the Internet, I am therefore anticipating a miracle.

Film at 11... :-)

Alan

Friday, April 23, 2010

colleague disputes case against anthrax suspect

NYTimes | A former Army microbiologist who worked for years with Bruce E. Ivins, whom the F.B.I. has blamed for the anthrax letter attacks that killed five people in 2001, told a National Academy of Sciences panel on Thursday that he believed it was impossible that the deadly spores had been produced undetected in Dr. Ivins’s laboratory, as the F.B.I. asserts.

Asked by reporters after his testimony whether he believed that there was any chance that Dr. Ivins, who committed suicide in 2008, had carried out the attacks, the microbiologist, Henry S. Heine, replied, “Absolutely not.” At the Army’s biodefense laboratory in Maryland, where Dr. Ivins and Dr. Heine worked, he said, “among the senior scientists, no one believes it.”

Dr. Heine told the 16-member panel, which is reviewing the F.B.I.’s scientific work on the investigation, that producing the quantity of spores in the letters would have taken at least a year of intensive work using the equipment at the army lab. Such an effort would not have escaped colleagues’ notice, he added later, and lab technicians who worked closely with Dr. Ivins have told him they saw no such work.

He told the panel that biological containment measures where Dr. Ivins worked were inadequate to prevent the spores from floating out of the laboratory into animal cages and offices. “You’d have had dead animals or dead people,” he said.

The public remarks from Dr. Heine, two months after the Justice Department officially closed the case, represent a major public challenge to its conclusion in one of the largest, most politically delicate and scientifically complex cases in F.B.I. history.

Asked why he was speaking out now, Dr. Heine noted that Army officials had prohibited comment on the case, silencing him until he left the government laboratory in late February. He now works for Ordway Research Institute in Albany.

Dr. Heine said he did not dispute that there was a genetic link between the spores in the letters and the anthrax in Dr. Ivins’s flask — a link that led the F.B.I. to conclude that Dr. Ivins had grown the spores from a sample taken from the flask. But samples from the flask were widely shared, Dr. Heine said. Accusing Dr. Ivins of the attacks, he said, was like tracing a murder to the clerk at the sporting goods shop who sold the bullets.

“Whoever did this is still running around out there,” Dr. Heine said. “I truly believe that.”

Saturday, February 20, 2010

NYTimes | More than eight years after anthrax-laced letters killed five people and terrorized the country, the F.B.I. on Friday closed its investigation, adding eerie new details to its case that the 2001 attacks were carried out by Bruce E. Ivins, an Army biodefense expert who killed himself in 2008.

A 92-page report, which concludes what by many measures is the largest investigation in F.B.I. history, laid out the evidence against Dr. Ivins, including his equivocal answers when asked by a friend in a recorded conversation about whether he was the anthrax mailer.

“If I found out I was involved in some way...” Dr. Ivins said, not finishing the sentence. “I do not have any recollection of ever doing anything like that,” he said, adding, “I can tell you, I am not a killer at heart.” But in a 2008 e-mail message to a former colleague, one of many that reflected distress, Dr. Ivins wrote, “I can hurt, kill, and terrorize.” He added: “Go down low, low, low as you can go, then dig forever, and you’ll find me, my psyche.”

The report disclosed for the first time the F.B.I.’s theory that Dr. Ivins embedded in the notes mailed with the anthrax a complex coded message, based on DNA biochemistry, alluding to two female former colleagues with whom he was obsessed.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

"select agent" inventory control problems

Propublica | The U.S. Army has suspended research with deadly agents and toxins at the military's top germ warfare lab, which came under intense scrutiny after the FBI identified it as the source of the anthrax used in the 2001 "Amerithrax" attacks that killed five, injured 17 and kept the nation on knife-edge for weeks.

The suspension, announced internally last week at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID), was attributed to concerns about whether the facility had an accurate inventory of all the deadly "select agents [1]" in its freezers and refrigerators. Select agents are the most dangerous and tightly regulated biological substances used in research, including anthrax, Yersinia pestis (plague) and the Ebola and Marburg viruses.

The FBI last year contended that Bruce Ivins, who worked on anthrax vaccines at USAMRIID's labs in Ft. Detrick, Md., engineered the 2001 attacks. Ivins, who had become emotionally troubled, committed suicide before the government could try to prove its theory in court.

As we reported in a three-part series in December [2], many WMD experts are worried that the $20 billion the federal government has spent on bio-defense research in the past seven years might actually have put the nation at even greater risk of a bioterrorism attack because the spending has spawned a proliferation of labs and scientists working with "select agents." [1]

Last week's suspension of much of the germ-warfare research at the military's top bio-defense laboratory is just the latest in safety problems at bio-defense facilities [3] around the country attributed to lax security.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Move Along Now, Nothing to See Over Here....,

POSNER: I'm certainly not sold on the theory of the lone mad scientist. I'm not even sold right now on the fact he was involved. I'll tell you why. All we are hearing is one side of the evidence. We're getting it leaked out, as it always is by the government, bit by bit about what happened. And as you said, it's absolutely at best a circumstantial case.

The big thing they're hanging their hat on right now is the fact that they have a new DNA type of evidence for bacteria that can isolate this form of anthrax back to a flask that was in the laboratory that he handled, as did at least ten other people and possibly dozens. They have them in New Jersey, supposedly, a time when mail was sent out with anthrax spores from places in Princeton. And they have him holding a P.O. Box at a postal office inside of Frederick, Maryland, where some of the envelopes were bought they think they can trace back to this.

It's a case where any good defense attorney, a Mark Geragos, an F. Lee Bailey in his heyday a Roy Black, they would relish this type of case. They could knock it out of the ballpark. I have to say one thing, we cannot allow—I really believe this, on a case this important on the anthrax investigation, for a rush to judgment in a matter in which the prime suspect is dead of an apparent suicide.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

BioTerror "Efforts" Increased U.S. Risk

So here's the fearful bioterror narrative;
“Across the spectrum of biothreats we have expanded our capacity significantly,” said Craig Vanderwagen, an assistant secretary at the Department of Health and Human Services who oversees the biodefense effort. Systems to detect an attack, investigate it and respond with drugs, vaccines and cleanup are all hugely improved, Dr. Vanderwagen said. “We can get pills in the mouth,” he said.

Supporters of the spending increase cite studies that project apocalyptic tolls from a large-scale biological attack. One 2003 study led by a Stanford scholar, for instance, found that just two pounds of anthrax spores dropped over an American city could kill more than 100,000 people, even if antibiotic distribution began quickly.
and here are the relevant bioterror facts;
Until the anthrax attacks of 2001, Bruce E. Ivins was one of just a few dozen American bioterrorism researchers working with the most lethal biological pathogens, almost all at high-security military laboratories.

Today, there are hundreds of such researchers in scores of laboratories at universities and other institutions around the United States, preparing for the next bioattack.

But the revelation that F.B.I. investigators believe that the anthrax attacks were carried out by Dr. Ivins, an Army biodefense scientist who committed suicide last week after he learned that he was about to be indicted for murder, has already re-ignited a debate: Has the unprecedented boom in biodefense research made the country less secure by multiplying the places and people with access to dangerous germs?
In today's NYTimes. And so it goes. Only those folks prepared to opportunistically and exploitatively jump on the homegrown, paranoid delusional bandwagon managed to profit from the fear that was instigated by Ivins (the Bush administration) with his here-to-now *unsolvable* involvement with this murderous elite hustle.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Some Saw Dark Side

Ivins, 62, committed suicide this week as federal prosecutors zeroed in on him as a suspect in the 2001 attacks. They were planning to indict him and seek the death penalty.

Ivins' brother Tom, who stressed that had not spoken to Bruce since 1985, was not shocked to hear that his brother was accused of making death threats, and he conceded the possibility that Bruce may have been the anthrax mailer.

"It makes sense, what the social worker said," Tom Ivins said. "He considered himself like a god."

Some who knew Ivins said the scrutiny of the investigation was too much for him to bear. But they also asserted his innocence.

"The relentless pressure of accusation and innuendo takes its toll in different ways," his attorney, Paul F. Kemp, said in a statement. "In Dr. Ivins' case, it led to his untimely death."

Ivins had worked for the past 18 years at the government's biodefense labs at Fort Detrick. For more than a decade, he worked to develop an anthrax vaccine that worked even when different strains of anthrax were mixed, which made vaccines ineffective.

Dr. W. Russell Byrne, a colleague who worked in the bacteriology division of the Fort Detrick research facility, said Ivins was "hounded" by FBI agents who raided his home twice, and he was hospitalized for depression earlier this month.

According to Byrne and local police, Ivins was removed from his workplace out of fears that he might harm himself or others.

"I think he was just psychologically exhausted by the whole process," Byrne said. Ivins could frequently be seen walking around his neighborhood for exercise. He volunteered with the American Red Cross of Frederick County, and he played keyboard and helped clean up after Masses at St. John's the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church, where a dozen parishioners gathered Friday after morning Mass to pray for him.

The Rev. Richard Murphy called Ivins "a quiet man ... always very helpful and pleasant."

An avid juggler, Ivins gave juggling demonstrations around Frederick in the 1980s.

"One time, he demonstrated his juggling skills by lying on his back in the department and juggling with his hands," said Byrne, who described Ivins as "eccentric."

Whenever a colleague would leave the bacteriology division, Ivins would write a song or poem for that person and perform it, accompanying himself on keyboard, Byrne said.

Ivins had several letters to the editor published in The Frederick News-Post over the last decade. He denounced taxpayer funding for assisted suicide, pointed readers to a study that suggested a genetic component for homosexuality and said he had stopped listening to local radio station WFMD because he was offended by the language and racially charged commentary of its hosts.

He also commented on the growing political influence of conservative Christians, and he was willing to criticize his church.

Ivins had mild persona, but some saw dark side

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

charles ellison putting in yoeman's work..., ebola-race-class


theroot | It’s a question that’s left people scratching their heads: How does a fully equipped hospital send an Ebola-infected man home—right after he arrived from West Africa and complained about being sick?

Some observers and public health experts are beginning to wonder if there’s an elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about: race and the politics of health insurance. Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas, the private medical campus where Thomas Eric Duncan is currently under care and isolation, still can’t explain exactly how medical staff let the 42-year-old Liberian national go home with useless antibiotics. Hospital officials have only said that Duncan’s travel history wasn’t “communicated,” and now mainstream media reports are stuck on everything from malfunctions in Presbyterian Hospital’s electronic record system to Duncan being dishonest about the level of his Ebola exposure when he left Liberia.

But few want to touch the pointy eggshells of race and class in the frantic discussion over Ebola as it enters the United States. Did Duncan get initially turned away because he is black and, possibly, uninsured?

Would it have been different if Duncan had been white and insured?

We may never know for sure, and it’s unclear if Duncan had insurance (it’s unlikely, considering that he’s a Liberian national on a U.S. visa).

What we do know is that Ebola response in the U.S. is under enormous scrutiny as experts wonder if an already challenged health system—currently undergoing an Affordable Care Act renovation—is really all that prepared for something that is scaring us like a Contagion script. And the specter of race is lurking not too far behind: When white American aid doctors in West Africa showed signs of the virus, they were rushed back to the U.S. ... stat. The same happened when a white freelance cameraman for NBC News in Liberia was immediately flagged for treatment.

But it’s been rough going for black Ebola sufferers—even when one manages to sneak into the U.S. and access one of the most advanced health care systems in the world.

Former District of Columbia Chief Medical Officer Dr. Ivan Walks, who led the response against Washington, D.C.’s first bioterrorism attack, believes it’s a question we need to start asking. “I was stunned,” Walks tells The Root. “You could put [Duncan’s] picture in the dictionary under what you look for when responding to Ebola. How do you miss that guy?”

That’s where factors such as Duncan’s race and level of insurance could have influenced the hospital’s first decision in either subtle or not-so-subtle ways. “There is a lot of research showing that different people get turned away in different places,” argues Walks. “So if they turned him away at first because he’s an African with no insurance, that would not be inconsistent with what we’ve seen over the years.”

Walks draws on lessons from a similar event in October 2001 when the D.C. area was struck by multiple anthrax attacks that hit postal facilities particularly hard. When two black Brentwood-facility postal workers—Thomas Morris Jr. and Joseph Curseen—dropped by Maryland hospitals complaining of anthrax-triggered symptoms, at the same time that news of the attack and Brentwood as a focus of investigation was plastered on every cable channel, they were sent home and died soon after.
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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

biosecurity laws hobble research


Video - Director K-State National Agricultural Biosecurity Center.

The Scientist | Ever since the U.S. government has taken steps to protect and encourage research involving pathogens that could be used as biological weapons, that research has become much less efficient, according to a new analysis.

Though funding for research on so-called "select agents," or pathogens that can be used as weapons, has shot through the roof, and the number of papers using those organisms has risen in recent years, the work has become up to five times less efficient -- meaning, the same amount of funding produces fewer papers than it did before.

"The price of the research was multiplied by maybe a factor of 5 for anthrax and maybe a factor of 2 for Ebola," said Carnegie Mellon University associate professor Elizabeth Casman, who led an analysis of the select agent literature that is published in this week's issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Casman told The Scientist that her group found, for example, that prior to 2002, an average of 17 papers on anthrax were published for every $1 million of funding, whereas after 2002, that average dropped to 3.

At issue, according to the analysis, are two laws designed to regulate select agent research: the PATRIOT Act and the Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act, enacted in 2001 and 2002, respectively.

The laws' new regulations govern the exhaustive documentation of the transportation, guarding, and use of select agents. As a result, they are burying researchers studying select agents with administrative duties, Casman noted. Researchers to whom Casman spoke "all complained of the paperwork," she said. "A lot of it, they just find overwhelming."

Some researchers told Casman that their work took twice as long to carry out because of all the paperwork related to select agents, and that money was being diverted from research expenses to pay for things like security cameras, hiring guards, and building walls. "It's expensive to comply with the regulations," Casman said.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Case Closed?

A top U.S. biodefense researcher apparently committed suicide just as the Justice Department was about to file criminal charges against him in the anthrax mailings that traumatized the nation in the weeks following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, according to a published report.

The scientist, Bruce E. Ivins, 62, who worked for the past 18 years at the government's biodefense labs at Fort Detrick, Md., had been told about the impending prosecution, the Los Angeles Times reported for Friday editions. The laboratory has been at the center of the FBI's investigation of the anthrax attacks, which killed five people.

Ivins died Tuesday at Frederick Memorial Hospital in Maryland. The Times, quoting an unidentified colleague, said the scientist had taken a massive dose of a prescription Tylenol mixed with codeine.

Top U.S. biological weapons researcher commits suicide as FBI closes in...,

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Fin d'Siecle Governance Issues

The US Senate yesterday introduced a biosafety bill that takes small steps towards resolving some controversial aspects of the system regulating research with agents that could be used for bioterrorism.

The regulations, called the Select Agent Program, have been controversial since they were established in 2002. The new bill, introduced by Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) on behalf of himself and Senator Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), extends funding for the program, which expired last September, for five years. It calls for the federal government to update its agents list and clarify its definition of the smallpox virus to exclude less dangerous viruses, and demands that the government conduct a study on how well the Select Agent Program is functioning. It also mandates biosafety training for researchers working in biosafety level 3 and level 4 labs, and a reporting system for safety breaches -- suggestions made at a Congressional hearing on biosafety held last October. Finally, it gives state governments access to select agent registration information.

Gigi Gronvall of the Center for Biosecurity at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center noted that some researchers believed that the Select Agent Program should be scrapped entirely -- a sentiment she disagrees with. "I don't hold any illusion that this would stop anyone from stealing [a listed pathogen] and potentially working on it as a weapon," she said, but it was still important "to know who is working on what." During the 2001 anthrax attack, she noted, the government's response was, "'We have no idea who works with anthrax.'" But, she said, "that's the wrong answer."

Senate tweeks bioterror regs - The Scientist NewsBlog.

Sunday, May 30, 2021

When Your Job's On The Line Will You Submit To The Jab?

WaPo  |  At stake in this latest contest is whether hospitals, law enforcement agencies and others can require employees to take a vaccine that was made available in an expedited process permitted during a public health emergency — and, likewise, whether schools may require the shots for students, faculty and staff members in the same way many require familiar vaccines for measles and chickenpox. There is little case law on the matter, with only one vaccine, for anthrax exposure, previously cleared in a similar way.

Employers are expected to cite the expansive evidence supporting the safety and efficacy of the coronavirus vaccines, as well as the extraordinary health risks created by the current emergency, said Kerry A. Scanlon, a former Department of Justice official who oversees labor and employment litigation at Chicago-based law firm McDermott Will & Emery.

Scanlon believes employers are in a strong position to defend compulsory vaccination, but he said many might shy away from it simply to avoid costly litigation.

ICAN is already claiming victory, thanks to the work of a legal team led by Siri & Glimstad’s managing partner, Aaron Siri. “Employers and schools that previously required the covid-19 vaccine have dropped those requirements,” the group declares in its ad on the Children’s Health Defense blog. “This includes an employer that did so on the heels of ICAN’s legal team challenging its mandate in court.”

Neither Siri nor his co-counsel in the North Carolina case, Elizabeth A. Brehm, responded to emailed questions. Bigtree did not respond to telephone messages. Kennedy said his organization is “working with firms all over the country” to challenge vaccine mandates and estimated that he receives “many hundreds” of inquiries each week about potential litigation.

In legal filings and letters to employers and universities, attorneys from Siri & Glimstad focus on the expedited process known as an emergency use authorization used to clear the shots during a public health emergency. Mandating a vaccine cleared that way, they argue in a complaint filed against the Durham County Sheriff’s Department, is “illegal and unenforceable.”

Their arguments go further. Pointing to the principle of informed consent, a tenet of medical ethics addressing human experimentation enshrined in the Nuremberg Code after World War II, their letter to the president of Rutgers University contends a mandate under these circumstances violates not just federal law, but also “international laws, civil and individual rights, and public policy.” Failure to rescind a requirement in Rock County, Wis., the firm informed officials there, “will result in legal action being filed against you.”

“Govern yourself accordingly,” the Feb. 2 letter advised.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Controlavirus: Timelines And Narratives And Set-Ups - Oh My!!!


strategic-culture |  There may have been subtle hints of slightly increased activity at clinics in Wuhan in late November and early December. But at the time nobody – Chinese doctors, the government, not to mention U.S. intel – could have possibly known what was really happening.

China could not be “covering up” what was only identified as a new disease on December 30, duly communicated to the WHO. Then, on January 3, the head of the American CDC, Robert Redfield, called the top Chinese CDC official. Chinese doctors sequenced the virus. And only on January 8 it was determined this was Sars-Cov-2 – which provokes Covid-19.

This chain of events reopens, once again, a mighty Pandora’s box. We have the quite timely Event 201; the cozy relationship between the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the WHO, as well as the Word Economic Forum and the Johns Hopkins galaxy in Baltimore, including the Bloomberg School of Public Health; the ID2020 digital ID/vaccine combo; Dark Winter – which simulated a smallpox bio-attack on the U.S., before the 2001 anthrax attack being blamed on Iraq; U.S. Senators dumping stocks after a CDC briefing; more than 1,300 CEOs abandoning their cushy perches in 2019, “forecasting” total market collapse; the Fed pouring helicopter money already in September 2019 – as part of QE4.

And then, validating the ABC News report, Israel steps in. Israeli intel confirms U.S. intel did in fact warn them in November about a potentially catastrophic pandemic in Wuhan (once again: how could they possibly know that on the second week of November, so early in the game?) And NATO allies were warned – in November – as well.

The bottom line is explosive: the Trump administration as well as the CDC had an advance warning of no less than four months – from November to March – to be properly prepared for Covid-19 hitting the U.S. And they did nothing. The whole “China is a witch!” case is debunked.

Moreover, the Israeli disclosure supports what’s nothing less than extraordinary: U.S. intel already knew about Sars-Cov-2 roughly one month before the first confirmed cases detected by doctors in a Wuhan hospital. Talk about divine intervention.

That could only have happened if U.S. intel knew, for sure, about a previous chain of events that would necessarily lead to the “mysterious outbreak” in Wuhan. And not only that: they knew exactly where to look. Not in Inner Mongolia, not in Beijing, not in Guangdong province.

It’s never enough to repeat the question in full: how could U.S. intel have known about a contagion one month before Chinese doctors detected an unknown virus?

Mike “We Lie, We Cheat, We Steal” Pompeo may have given away the game when he said, on the record, that Covid-19 was a “live exercise”. Adding to the ABC News and Israeli reports, the only possible, logical conclusion is that the Pentagon – and the CIA – knew ahead of time a pandemic would be inevitable.

That’s the smokin’ gun. And now the full weight of the United States government is covering all bases by proactively, and retroactively, blaming China.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Hot Zone In The Heartland


thebulletin | Before 1990, there had been only two BSL-4 labs in the United States: one at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in Atlanta, and another at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (U.S.A.M.R.I.I.D.), in Fort Detrick, Maryland. In the nineteen-nineties, three were added. In the first seven years after 9/11, the United States opened ten more. In a 2007 report, Keith Rhodes, then the chief technologist in the Government Accountability Office (G.A.O.)—the independent watchdog that conducts research for Congress—observed that there was “a major proliferation of high-containment BSL-3 and BSL-4 labs is taking place in the United States.” Rhodes counted fifteen known American BSL-4 labs (including N.B.A.F.) but suggested that there could be others; the number of BSL-3 labs appeared to have increased even more. “No single federal agency knows how many such labs there are in the United States,” Rhodes wrote, and “no one is responsible for determining the aggregate risks associated with the expansion of these high-containment labs.” In theory, the Federal Select Agent Program keeps tabs, since any lab in possession of a substance on its list has to register; a 2017 report from the G.A.O. counted two hundred and seventy-six high-containment select-agent labs in the United States. But the actual number is almost certainly higher, because not every dangerous pathogen is on the federal list.

In the summer of 2008, at the same time that D.H.S. was choosing a site for N.B.A.F., the F.B.I. announced that it had found the sender of the anthrax letters: Bruce Ivins, a mentally unstable biodefense researcher with high-level security clearances at U.S.A.M.R.I.I.D. Ivins died of an apparent suicide before he could be officially charged; subsequently, journalists have raised questions about some of the evidence against him. All the same, the possibility of Ivins’s involvement raised disturbing questions for those who work in biodefense. “A more ominous threat than terrorists taking up biology,” the epidemiologist Ali Khan wrote, in his 2016 book “The Next Pandemic,” could be “biologists taking up terrorism.”

Manhattan is surrounded by a rolling sea of golden grass—the Flint Hills, North America’s last remaining tallgrass prairie. “No grass anywhere can put weight on cattle more quickly or more economically,” Jim Joy, a historian of ranching, wrote. In the nineteenth century, cattlemen from Texas and elsewhere began driving their herds overland to graze in the Flint Hills. Today, Kansas is at the geographical center of the American beef industry. It is the third-largest cattle-producing state in the country, and its immediate neighbors—Nebraska, Oklahoma, Missouri, and Colorado—are all in the top ten.

During and after the N.B.A.F. site-selection process, many scientists found it baffling that anyone would consider installing a high-containment animal-disease laboratory in the middle of livestock country. “It doesn’t make sense—it’s just insane,” Laura H. Kahn, a physician and research scholar at Princeton University’s Program on Science and Global Security, told me. Abigail Conrad, who was a developmental biologist at K-State when D.H.S. was making its choice, said that the decision “defies reason”; her husband, Gary, also a biologist, called it “beyond ludicrous,” “almost criminal,” and “genuinely stupid.”

Once infected with foot-and-mouth, animals with cloven hooves—cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, deer, bison—come down with fevers and painful blisters. A cow’s milk production can decline. Adult animals can lose weight, and young ones can die. An animal that recovers can still transmit the disease to others. According to the authors of a 2013 paper in the journal Preventive Veterinary Medicine, in countries that are officially foot-and-mouth-free but experience occasional outbreaks, “the costs involved in regaining free status have been enormous.” During the 2001 foot-and-mouth outbreak in England, exclusion zones made travel difficult; tourism from overseas declined by ten per cent. The ultimate cost of containing the outbreak was nearly five billion in today’s dollars. Its source remains undetermined.

In 2007, Britain experienced another, smaller foot-and-mouth outbreak, with only eight confirmed cases. In that instance, investigators were able to trace the infection to the Pirbright Institute, a world-renowned high-containment animal-disease research facility in Surrey. A building at Pirbright had an aging, faulty drainpipe; heavy rains probably washed the live virus from the defective drain out into the open, where truck tires picked it up. According to the G.A.O., one reason to confine foot-and-mouth study to an island is that “there is always some risk of a release from any biocontainment facility.” In fact, for just this reason, foot-and-mouth disease cannot be brought onto the U.S. mainland without the explicit permission of the Secretary of Agriculture.

Thursday, March 05, 2020

Who Or What Started It: The Everlasting Gobstopper Account of SARS-CoV2 Outbreak


AHTribune |  The Novel Coronavirus, COVID-19, is cutting a broad and deep swath though epidemiological history with uncertain impact on the viability of many families, communities, institutions, economies, and even countries starting with the most heavily populated nation on earth. Many fates are hanging in the balance, not the least of which is that of the communist government that has ruled China since the Maoist Revolution brought it to power in 1949.

The new strain of Coronavirus has added novel genetic features to the same family of pathogens that brought the world the SARS crisis in 2002-3 and, a decade later, the less lethal MERS outbreak. This Novel Coronavirus strain, COVID-19, is showing itself to be much more contagious and lethal than was SARS and MERS.

Some have anticipated that, if not dramatically countered, the Wuhan Coronavirus epidemic could be headed in the direction of the Spanish flu outbreak of 1918. This prediction flows from the assessment of, for instance, Prof. Gabriel Leung, Chair of Public Health Medicine at Hong King University. Looking at the very fast rate of COVID-19’s spread from human to human through the air, Dr. Leung challenged any residual sense of complacency. He anticipated a possible 60 per cent infection rate of the world’s entire population with deaths numbering in the many tens of millions.
The so-called Spanish flu has set the bar for how severe and widespread a contagious plague can become. The pandemic of 1918 took more lives in one year than all deaths due to World War II. The Spanish flu of 1918 engendered more mortality in one year than the four peak years of the notorious Black Death Bubonic Plague that decimated Europe in the middle years of the fourteenth century. The worldwide pandemic of 1918 infected over a quarter of all people on earth. About 65 million people died from the illness.

News reports from the ground zero area of the Wuhan Coronavirus epidemic demonstrate that the effects of the viral infection cut far and wide. Every facet of Chinese society is being challenged to the limit by a fast-spreading plague disseminating germs of destruction disrupting many biological, political, economic, and knowledge systems simultaneously.

Questions about how to interpret the epidemic and how to explain to the public what is known or not known are quickly coming into focus. Who should be believed? Who is credible and who is not credible as the epidemic unfolds. What should be the role of social media and of whistle blowers in the process of deciding how to respond? What happens when genuine whistle blowers like Dr. Li are too quickly dismissed and reprimanded by ruling authorities as “conspiracy theorists”?
An essential task that must be faced in this initial phase of this crisis is to develop an accurate explanation of where contagion came from and how the first victims of the Novel Coronavirus came to be infected. The need for some degree of certainty about the origins of the virus and its subsequent genesis is absolutely essential to the development of sound and appropriate responses. It would be highly irresponsible to rush ahead with the development of an overall strategy for dealing with the plague without making an honest attempt to get at the truth of how the contagion first came into existence.

The importance of getting to the factual roots of what happened to put humanity on this epidemiological trajectory should be especially clear after the debacle of September 11, 2001. Without any sustained investigation of the 9/11 crimes, Americans were rushed into cycles of seemingly perpetual warfare abroad, police state and surveillance state interventions at home. This cycle of fast responses began within a month of 9/11 with a full-fledge military invasion of Afghanistan, an invasion that continues yet.

When two US Senators, Patrick Leahy and Tom Daschle, sought to slow the rush of the US executive into emergency measures and war, they and the US Congress they served were hit hard by a military grade bioweapon, anthrax. The violent tactic of the saboteurs proved effective in easing aside close scrutiny that might have slowed down the fast approval by the end of October of Congress’s massive Patriot Act. 

Since then a seemingly endless cycle of military invasions has been pushed forward in the Middle East and Eurasia. The emergency measure powers claimed by the executive branch of the US government extended to widespread illegal torture, domestic spying, media censorship and a meteoric rise in extrajudicial murders especially by drones. This list is far from complete.

All of these crimes against humanity were justified on the basis of an unproven official explanation of 9/11.  Subsequent scholarly investigations have demonstrated unequivocally for the attentive that officialdom’s explanations of what transpired on the fateful day in September were wrong, severely wrong. The initial interpretations are strongly at variance with the evidentiary record available on the public record.

We must not allow ourselves to be hoodwinked in the same manner once again. The stakes are too large, maybe even larger than was the case in 2001. The misinterpreted and misrepresented events of 9/11 were exploited in conformity with the “Shock Doctrine,” a strategy for instituting litanies of invasive state actions that the public would not otherwise have accepted.

The conscientious portion of humanity, many of whose members have done independent homework of their own on the events of 9/11, will well understand the importance of identifying the actual originating source of the Wuhan Coronavirus epidemic.

Friday, October 05, 2018

Directed Evolution Via Phage Display


thescientist |  Caltech’s Frances Arnold, who advanced a technique called directed evolution to shape the function of enzymes, has received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry today (October 3). She shares the honor with George Smith, now emeritus professor of the University of Missouri, and Gregory Winter, emeritus group leader at the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology (LMB) in Cambridge, UK. Smith and Winter are both recognized for their work on a lab technique known as phage display in the directed evolution of new proteins—in particular, for the production of antibody therapeutics.

“I’d like to congratulate this year’s laureates for their tremendous breakthrough work in using chemistry to speed nature's own processes,” Peter Dourhout, president of the American Chemical Society, says in a statement. “The breakthroughs from these researchers enable that to occur thousands of times faster than nature to improve medicines, fuels and other products. This is truly directed evolution using chemistry.”

First reported by Smith in 1985, phage display involves the introduction of foreign DNA coding for a protein, such as an antibody, into a bacteriophage—a virus that infects bacteria. That protein is then displayed on the surface of the phage. Researchers can use these protein-displaying phages to screen for interactions with other proteins, DNA sequences, and small molecules. 

Speaking to the Associated Press this morning, Smith emphasized the role of others’ work in his achievement. “Very few research breakthroughs are novel,” he says. “Virtually all of them build on what went before. . . . That was certainly the case with my work.”

Winter, who cofounded the biotech company Cambridge Antibody Technology in 1989, developed the technique for the purpose of finding novel therapeutics. In 1993, his research group used phage display to successfully isolate fragments of human antibodies that could bind specific antigens. The genes for these fragments could be expressed in bacteria, the team reported, and could offer a “promising alternative” to mouse-based methods for the “production of antibodies against cell surface molecules.”

In 2002, adalimumab (Humira), a therapeutic produced by this approach, was approved by European and US regulators for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. Speaking in 2006, Winter called the approval “the sort of thing I’m most proud of.” The technique has since been used to isolate molecules against autoimmune diseases, multiple cancers, and bacteria such as Bacillus anthracis—the cause of anthrax.

Friday, June 09, 2017

Comey and Mueller: Pretty Much Just Head Snowflakes in Charge


Counterpunch |  Mainstream commentators display amnesia when they describe former FBI Directors Robert Mueller and James Comey as stellar and credible law enforcement figures. Perhaps if they included J. Edgar Hoover, such fulsome praise could be put into proper perspective.

Although these Hoover successors, now occupying center stage in the investigation of President Trump, have been hailed for their impeccable character by much of Official Washington, the truth is, as top law enforcement officials of the George W. Bush Administration (Mueller as FBI Director and James Comey as Deputy Attorney General), both presided over post-9/11 cover-ups and secret abuses of the Constitution, enabled Bush-Cheney fabrications used to launch wrongful wars, and exhibited plain vanilla incompetence.

Long before he became FBI Director, serious questions existed about Mueller’s role as Acting U.S. Attorney in Boston in effectively enabling decades of corruption and covering up of the FBI’s illicit deals with mobster Whitey Bulger and other “top echelon” informants who committed numerous murders and crimes. When the truth was finally uncovered through intrepid investigative reporting and persistent, honest judges, U.S. taxpayers footed a $100 million court award to the four men framed for murders committed by (the FBI-operated) Bulger gang.

Current media applause omits the fact that former FBI Director Mueller was the top official in charge of the Anthrax terror fiasco investigation into those 2001 murders, which targeted an innocent man (Steven Hatfill) whose lawsuit eventually forced the FBI to pay $5 million in compensation. Mueller’s FBI was also severely criticized by Department of Justice Inspector Generals finding the FBI overstepped the law improperly serving hundreds of thousands of “national security letters” to obtain private (and irrelevant) metadata on citizens, and for infiltrating nonviolent anti-war groups under the guise of investigating “terrorism.”

For his part, Deputy Attorney General James Comey, too, went along with the abuses of Bush and Cheney after 9/11 and signed off on a number of highly illegal programs including warrantless surveillance of Americans and torture of captives. Comey also defended the Bush Administration’s three-year-long detention of an American citizen without charges or right to counsel.