What Is Organic?

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Many times this summer while plucking tomatoes from the vine or pulling weeds from my garden I find myself asking the question: what is organic? Is eating organic food a more healthy way of living or did we "Americanize" it? Are the foods we buy labeled "organic" better for us or just some meaningless security blanket to throw over our families. True organic crops may be in their last throes as a report from the Union of Concerned Scientists entitled: Gone to Seed elaborates.

Huge Pharmaceutical corporations such as Monsanto have sold their genetically modified seeds to farming nations across the world. Brazil lifted a ban on Monsanto's "roundup ready" soybean 2 years ago, and South Africa has followed suit. Of course here at home we are more than happy to support Monsanto with well over 50% of our nation's soybean crop "roundup ready". Monsanto, for those who are unfamiliar is ...no, let me just paste their self-title here for you: "Monsanto is an agricultural company. We apply innovation and technology to help farmers around the world be successful, produce healthier foods, better animal feeds and more fiber, while also reducing agriculture's impact on our environment." Oh by the way you may also recognize Monsanto as the makers of such household friendly products as Agent Orange and Roundup weedkiller.

Please, take time to read the report: Gone to Seed, check out a few organizations like Organic Consumers Association. Do some research on Monsanto yourself because believe me, genetically modified soybeans are the least of our worries. I'll leave corn and wheat seed for another article. However all is not lost yet, there are some people making large strides in Biodiversity such as Dr. Vandana Shiva and her Navdanya movement based in India.

Once again, nothing is as it seems. We must dig deeper and take nothing for face value. Just because it says "organic" doesn't mean it is! Chew on this, I didn't even mention the whole cross contamination/pollination from farms in the vicinity of "organic" farms. You can bet Monsanto is on it.

Defense Spending: The War Against Americans

Sunday, April 29, 2007

America Speaks Out
Is the United States spending too much on defense?

by Carl Conetta
Project on Defense Alternatives Briefing Memo #41
26 March 2007

On 1-4 February 2007, the Gallup polling organization asked a representative sample of US citizens if they thought the United States was spending too little, too much, or just the right amount on defense and the military.1 For the first time since the mid-1990s, a plurality of Americans said that the country was spending too much. The surprising result of the survey shows current public attitudes to approximate those that prevailed in March 1993, shortly after former President Bill Clinton took office. Today, 43 percent of Americans say that the country is spending "too much" on the military, while 20 percent say "too little". In 1993, the balance of opinion was 42 percent saying "too much" and 17 percent saying "too little."

What makes this result especially surprising is that few leaders in Congress and no one in the administration today argues that the United States can or should reduce military spending. Quite the contrary: leaders of both parties seem eager to add to the Pentagon's coffers, even as public anti-war sentiment builds. And Congress is not the only institution that appears insensitive to the shift in public opinion. The Gallup survey also drew little attention from the news media. Indeed, a Lexis-Nexis database search shows almost no coverage of the poll, which was released on 02 March 2007.

US military spending in comparative perspective

For FY 2008, the Bush administration has requested $647.3 billion to cover the costs of national defense and war. This includes the Defense Department budget ($483 billion), some smaller defense-related accounts ($22.6 billion), and the projected FY 2008 cost of Iraq, Afghanistan, and counter-terror operations ($141.7 billion). However, it does not include non-DOD expenditures for homeland security ($36.4 billion) or the Veterans' Affairs budget ($84.4 billion). Nor does it include the request for supplemental funds for outstanding FY 2007 war costs ($93.4 billion).

The $647.3 billion request represents a 75 percent real increase over the post-Cold War low-point in national defense spending, which occurred in 1996. Today's expenditures are higher in inflation-adjusted terms than peak spending during the Vietnam and Korean wars -- as well as higher than during the Reagan buildup.2

One way of appreciating the significance of this change is to view it in terms of world military spending. Whereas the United States accounted for 28 percent of world defense expenditures in 1986 and 34 percent in 1994, it today accounts for approximately 50 percent.

The authoritative reference work on military comparisons, The Military Balance 2007, estimates world military expenditure in 2005 to have been approximately $1.2 trillion. A plausible estimate for current world spending is $1.35 trillion. By contrast, the armaments and disarmament yearbook of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute estimates 2005 world expenditure to have been slightly more than $1 trillion. The estimates differ in large part because the two data books rely on different standards of comparison: The Military Balance relies more heavily on "purchasing power parity" (or PPP) when comparing nations' expenditures, while the SIPRI volume uses exchange rates.3

The change in America's proportion of world military expenditure is due partly to the resurgence in US spending that began after 1998, and partly to reduced spending by other nations. Significantly, the greatest average decline in spending has occurred in that group of nations that the United States might consider "adversaries" or "potential adversaries". China, for one, is spending much more than it did prior to 1990 -- but "adversary spending" as a whole has receded substantially.

Spending versus strength

The turn in US public attitudes may reflect disenchantment with the Iraq war or a general sense that increased military spending is not bringing increased security. Clearly, the flood of defense dollars has not purchased stability in either Iraq or Afghanistan, nor has it led to a general decrease in terrorist activity. Indeed, the rate of terrorist incidents and fatalities has increased significantly since the onset of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars -- even if one discounts terrorist activity occurring in these two countries.4

Relevant to threat perception: the February 2007 Gallup poll shows that the proportion of Americans thinking that the country is "not strong enough" remains high: 46 percent. Only eight percent think the country is stronger then it needs to be. Comparable figures for 1993 are not available, but in 1990 public sentiments about spending and strength correlated much more closely. At that time 9 percent thought that the United States was spending too little and 16 percent thought it was spending too much. Regarding "strength": 16 percent in 1990 thought the country was stronger than necessary, while 17 percent thought it was not as strong as it needed to be. In the recent poll, by contrast, the public leans toward seeing spending as too high and strength as too little.

Clearly (and understandably) the American public continues to perceive a high-level of threat, even as it has begun questioning the current level of military expenditure. The unusual disjuncture between sentiments about "defense spending" and "strength" may reflect doubts about how the Pentagon is spending its funds or doubts about whether military dollars can purchase the requisite type of strength. Certainly, the Iraq and Afghanistan imbroglios suggest that the utility of America's military investments has distinct limits. This may create a basis of public support for political leaders attempting a more thorough security policy reform than they have been willing to contemplate so far.

Economic concerns

Economic concerns may also play a role in the public's thinking about defense spending. Although consumer confidence is higher in 2007 than it was in 2006, it still remains lower than during the mid- and late-1990s. In real terms, US median family income stagnated between 2000 and 2007, while personal debt rose. Now, rising interest rates are pinching the credit flow. Against this backdrop, the public may be taking a second look at the steep climb in military spending – up 45 percent in real terms between 2002 and 2008. Or perhaps the effect is more impressionistic: No matter how softly it is said, $647 billion sounds like a vast sum.

Currently the Pentagon plans to spend more than $2.75 trillion during the next five years -- not counting the incremental cost of future combat operations. This is not easily reconciled with bringing the national debt under control, while also meeting pending demands on social security and medicare. There also may be detrimental macro-economic effects associated with the scale of federal deficits and debt -- unless remedial action is taken. Concerns such as these recently led the World Economic Forum to lower America's competitiveness rating, dropping it from first place to sixth.5 Similar concerns have prompted the US Comptroller General and head of the Government Accountability Office, David M. Walker, to launch a public information campaign about the long-term threat to the nation's fiscal health.6 Such concerns may not yet figure substantially in the public's thinking about defense expenditures -- but they are bound to play a bigger role as the "baby-boomer" generation begins to retire en masse.


1. Joseph Carroll, "Perceptions of "Too Much" Military Spending at 15-Year High," Gallup News Service, 02 March 2007

2. Steven M. Kosiak, Both DOD Base and War Budgets Receive Big Boosts; Total Funding at Highest Level since the End of World War II (Washington DC: Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, 5 February 2007)

3. The Military Balance 2007 (London: International Institute for Strategic Studies, 2007); and, Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, SIPRI Yearbook 2006: Armaments, Disarmament, and International Security (Oxford UK: Oxford University Press, 2006).

4. Carl Conetta, War & consequences: Global terrorism has increased since 9/11 attacks, Project on Defense Alternatives Briefing Memo #38 (Cambridge MA: Commonwealth Institute, 25 September 2006)

5. Philip Thornton, "US slides down competition league; Concern over America's growing twin deficits," The Independent (London), 27 September 2006

6. Matt Crenson, "GAO Chief Warns Economic Disaster Looms," The Associated Press, 28 October 2006

Citation: Carl Conetta, "America Speaks Out: Is the United States spending too much on defense?," Cambridge, MA: Commonwealth Institute Project on Defense Alternatives Briefing Memo #41, 26 March 2007. http://www.comw.org/pda/0703bm41.html

War On Iraq Oil: Mission Accomplished

Thursday, March 01, 2007

If you didn't fall into the Anna Nicole abyss, don't care about American Idol and actually don't want to hand your kids "a bag of shit" then maybe you didn't fall for: ties to 9/11, yellowcake, and WMD's. Nor did the fact that Sadam was an asshole, make you want to load up your American Freedom cannon and blast some idealism Iraq's way while raping and pillaging the cradle of civiliztion. As a person with half a brain you understood the reason we went to war with Iraq was OIL. Yesterday, the new Iraq Oil Law passed and mission was indeed accomplished.

I won't go into great detail however what the law does is open up Iraq oil to major oil companies who will also sit on the Federal Oil and Gas Counsil which will oversee all Iraq oil contracts. With Iraq oil costing around $1 a barrel and selling for over $60 you can bet Exxon will log record profits again next year. How do you expect Iraq to oversee the world's largest oil reserves with so much inner chaos?

This war is unjust and needs to end period. While Exxon and other government contractors continue to record supernatural returns in the market, this government still can't provide for the citizens struck by our forgotten disaster: Katrina. The same government that sends these Americans to murder in the name of capitalism can't even follow the code of ethics for a common gang: take care of your own. Even the mighty empires' soldiers are rising up against insanity and corruption.

Among the countless other lies remember "Iraq oil will pay for the war" well America, it's almost 4 years later, oil prices are up and guess who is paying for the war.

I have asked this question before but it begs asking again, what is the price of our greed?
Is it their lives or ours that matter? What about the people trying to provide for their families?

Iran On The Horizon

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

My gut tells me that Iran will be the next victim of the Bush administration, here is a link to some great "REAL" information regarding Iran and our relations with them, thanks to the people at Project on Defense Alternatives. Don't believe the hype!

Looking for Info?

Thursday, February 02, 2006

If your an information junkie like myself then here is an e-mail I recieved from the Project on Defense Alternatives today. The link is filled with tons of great info, have fun.

Dear Jason McMaster: Excerpts and commentary on the new US defense review (QDR) are available on our Defense Strategy Review library site. We’ve also just completed an update of all our special topic libraries – China, military transformation, terrorism, etc – adding more than 300 recent links to full-text documents. And we’ve created a single gateway to all of the sites: http://www.comw.org/infogate/ Please have a look and pass the link along. I know it’s a great deal of material, but it’s pretty easy to peruse. And we do our best to keep the links current – all 7,000 of them.

Regarding the US defense review: As new information and commentary becomes available during the next week, we’ll update the Defense Strategy Review page. If you come across relevant material for this site or the others, we’d greatly appreciate your letting us know.

Carl Conetta, Project on Defense Alternatives, Cambridge & Washington DC, USA pda@comw.org

Zawahiri Video: The Real Message

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

On Monday Ayman Zawahiri released a recently made video tape threatening the United States and exposing the fact that he was not killed in the United States bombing of Pakistan on January 13th. The administration had initially claimed Zawahiri was the target of the illegal bombing and had been killed. Six days later the administration claimed Al Qaeda's chemical weapons expert had been in the "vicinity" of the bombing; it turned out to be yet another bogus justification for the bombing of a village.

The new video will no doubt be analyzed and debated in constant rotation in the days to come with the real story being overlooked. Despite the Bush administration claims of who may have been in the area and who may have been killed the facts are the facts. We do know who was killed that day in Pakistan. 18 people were murdered by cowards high above in the skies wearing American flags. 10 of the 18 confirmed killed were women and children, a far cry from Al Qaeda's number two man and a supposed weapons expert. Once again we get a behind the scenes look at the real American military...murderers of women and children.

Not only did the United States (without any approval from Pakistan) launch an airstrike on a village, but the only people they killed were innocent women and children. The supposed target is now making new videos. A new corner of the world was exposed to the American Way and a new generation has valid reason to hate the West. Once again the only thing Bush has accomplished here is to strengthen the core and help recruitment for the group they claim we are at war with.

Here are some parting thoughts: what if Zawahiri was in the area of the bombing? What if he had been killed in the airstrike over Pakistan? Would the death of Al Queda's second in command be an acceptable tradeoff for the lives of 10 women and children? If the answer is yes, than what does that say about our country? It begs the question: Who are the real terrorists?

Record Year for Oil Companies

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

If you live here in the Northeast, then I don't have to tell you about rising home heating costs and gasoline prices. You may find it comforting that not everyone is feeling the squeeze however. On Monday Exxon Mobil set new United States records for annual and quarterly profits. The company reported a net income for the fourth quarter of $10.7 billion and a yearly net income of $36.1 billion. Nice to know that when Americans families are struggling across the country Exxon and the other top oil companies are recording record years.

Of course some of this is simple supply and demand. There is less and less oil in the ground so the price of the available oil is going to go up. That much does make sense. One would be a fool however not to see that the Bush administration has also played a huge role in the record profits of oil companies. Tax breaks and lax energy laws have allowed these companies to wield unlimited power.

The situation will get much worse. Within the next 5-10 years we will be on the downslide. This is to say that there will no longer be as much oil in underground reserves. You cannot completely drain an oil well. There becomes a point in the life of a well when it starts to cost more money for the company to extract the oil from the earth than the company makes on the sale of a barrel.

Iraq is and always has been about one thing and one thing only....oil. This trend will also continue in the years to come as the United States fans out over the globe in an effort to control the remaining reserves. If this is not the case then explain Iraq? Explain what we are doing building new military bases across the oil rich regions of Africa. Why do you think President Chavez and Venezuela are public enemy #1.

Despite the smoke and mirrors, this administration constantly distracts us with. We are entering a new era. No longer will we fight wars for political or ideological differences. We have now started and will continue to fight wars based on control of the last strongholds of natural resources.

Kidnapping wifes: The American Way

Saturday, January 28, 2006

The Associated Press released a story today about the United States practice of detaining/abducting the wifes of suspected insurgents/citizens in Iraq. Recent documents released by the Pentagon under and ACLU freedom of information court order describe this disgusting and illegal practice.

One memo dated May 9, 2004 from a civilian Pentagon intelligence officer tells a tale that should make you sick to your stomach and ashamed of the United States government and our armed services. In the memo, the civilian writes that on a raid for insurgents the army detained a 28-year old women the wife of a suspected insurgent as "leverage". If this is not sick enough for you yet, hold on. The women was the mother of three young children who were also in the house, one as young as six months old and still nursing. The women was held for two days. Now close your eyes and picture that army or marine commercial you see on tv in your head: be an army of one, the few the proud. Now open your eyes and envision a mother being ripped from her three screaming children, this is the real United States war machine.

Not only is this practice barbaric and illegal, another problem is the carefree way this information is released to the American public. The story breaks on a Saturday which will avoid the news frenzy of normal weekdays and it's not even news. Anyone out there who actually pays attention to world events and gets their news from somewhere other than Fox, or CNN would know that practices like this and others are carried out by our forces all the time in Iraq, people like Dahr Jamail have been opening our eyes to things like this unfortunatly, for years now. Even if you read this blog, you would have heard of detaining innocent family members of suspected insurgents when I wrote about it in part2 of a series of posts last July titled: Is Iraq Better?

What would you do if while you were out armed men burst into your house and kidnapped your wife, ripping her from the arms of a nursing child while your other two children look on (future terrorists)? Is this the American Way?

Chemical Weapons: Not So New News

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

In yet another example of top-notch journalism the BBC yesterday ran an article about the United States use of phosphorus weapons during the siege of Fallujah exactly one year ago. For all those who have had their heads in the sand for the past year this is a breaking story. Unfortunatly, while the story is true it is not new news. I myself wrote about this war crime in a post dated March 24, 2005, and anyone who reads Dahr Jamail's reporting from Iraq would have been aware of this atrocity last year. Certainly people and the administration will deny this practice but all one has to do is read the reports from doctors in Fallujah and look at the photos of the dead people and animals from that city and one can see the fingerprint of chemical use.

Maybe someone could correct me here but didn't we invade Iraq to remove weapons of mass destruction? Once again America here is our government carrying out practices that we would sanction and or invade other countries for. Is this how we liberate the oppressed peoples of the world? Fallujah is not the only city in Iraq that this type of warfare is being instituted, there are more cities. There is a major offensive going on right now, operation steel curtain. I ask you to do some research and examine the way in which we are carrying out this war in the cities of Iraq. The United States is using a system of collective punishment on the people of Iraq, we are destroying the cities and peoples of this once beautiful country. How can you be proud to be a citizen of a country who commits this type of outright war crime?

Spitting In Our Face

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Don't get me wrong, I am not surprised by any lie that President Bush spews no matter how obvious, but yesterday's episode of "liars are us" was just too much to believe. President Bush had this to say yesterday: "Our country is at war and our government has the obligation to protect the American people, (from those scary Iraqis) any activity we conduct is within the law. We do not torture."

How stupid does George Bush believe you and I are? Does he think that none of us have heard of Abu Gharib? What about GITMO? Do any of you honestly believe that the United States government does not torture people? After you answer that question chew on this for a minute: the torture being committed by the United States government under the direction of Bush and Rumsfield is your responsibility. It is our fault! It is the age-old rule that if you are in the presence of a crime and do nothing you are just as guilty. True, we are not present at the time of the abuse, however we are allowing this practice to continue by our complacency and reluctance to act. The United States government, for good or bad, is a reflection of it's citizens.

Just to give you an example of how completely obvious and ridiculous these lies are, all you had to do was click on CNN.com yesterday and read the article about President Bush's statement. Two lines underneath that article link was another link to an article regarding five Marines from the 75th Ranger Regiment that have been accused of beating detainees in Iraq. No torture abuse to see here, keep it moving.

Plain Simple Truth

Q.* /Are the American people obligated to help the Iraqi people? And what could be done?

The American people are completely obliged to help the Iraqi people because it is the fault of the American people that the Bush cabal was allowed to invade Iraq. Any US citizen who is not doing everything in their power to end this illegal and immoral occupation as quickly aspossible is complicit with the war crimes being committed in Iraq on a daily basis.

This was the last question asked to Dahr Jamail in a recent interview. How guilty are you?

Are You Insulted America?

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Last week, President Bush give a brief statement regarding Scooter Libby being indicted on 5 charges. Bush urged all Americans to remember that Mr. Libby is innocent untill proven guilty, that is our system of justice, was his message to Americans.

I was amazed once again with the absolute "vanilla" style with which this administration uses it's propaganda and spin. They do not fabricate intricate stories and illusions, no they simply state their view/reality and America devours it without hesitation. How could this man stand there in the Rose Garden looking directly into the camera and state with a straight face that all men are innocent untill proven guilty. Of course here in the U.S. "according to the Constitution" we are all innocent untill proven guilty, but for that so-called leader to make this statement is an insult to every man and women here in America. It is an insult to your intelligence not to mention completly disrepectful to this country. I would like Bush to make that statement to Edgar Padilla! I would welcome Mr. Bush to make that same statement to the people illegally captured and held/tortured in GITMO!

Never before has an administration gone to such lenghts to strip Americans and other people of the world from this fundamental birth right. Neither Mr. Padilla (see previous post) nor any persons held in GITMO have been formally charged with a crime yet all these people are detained behind bars for in some cases over 3 years now. I ask you, are these people considered innocent untill proven guilty? There has been an inditment and there is evidence against Mr. Libby. Why has he not been afforded the same treatment?

I know this is not the first time the administration and the Republicans have double-talked us if not straight out lied to our faces but for some reason this instance has my blood boiling. What I don't understand: why are the majority of Americans not as outraged as I? Are there other people who want to grab Bush by the throat and choke some sense into him? There should be, America you should be outraged! When Bush makes these comments he is insulting your intelligence, they believe that you are stupid or scared.

I can gaurantee you this America, no matter how non-violent you may you would not allow someone to insult you and mock you on a daily basis. You would not allow someone to look you in the face and lie to you. You would not allow a person to distort matters when you know the concrete facts. No America I venture to say that you would not allow this you would stand up for yourself, you would correct this person. Maybe you would just give them a good old fashioned ass-whooping. Why then do we allow the person who represents each and every one of us and our country to act in this manner?

When we stop citizens from boarding the subway in New York are we considering all men and women innocent untill proven guilty? Has Mr. Padilla, confined to a naval brig for more than 3 years ever been considered innocent untill proven guilty? Are the men of GITMO, being held in cages for more than 3 years considered innocent untill proven guilty?

Brief History of Avian Influenza

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

I am stealing this entire article on the history of avian flu from ringsurf.com since it explains the avian flu better than I can. I believe my last post might not have driven the point home quite enough and maybe people are still not taking this issue seriously enough. In order to understand the avian flu, we must understand the influenza virus itself and this may shed some light on how the virus will affect humans. It will mutate into a strain that is deadly to us. It has in the past and will continue to develop in this way. Our government is not prepared to protect it's people from this coming pandemic. Just think for one minute if you doubt the seriousness of this. When you go to the doctor for a virus infection and the doctor prescribes you antibiotic, they also give you specific instructions on the use; he tells you how many pills to take and for how many days. You need that type of information. The doctor does this because if people use the antibiotics too long or when they don't need them, then the virus or flu will become resistant to the particular antibiotic.

Avian influenza spreading to humans is not something to be taken lightly, it has happened in the past with deadly results. Wikipedia has some great information on the Spanish avian flu of 1918 which killed 25-50 million people worldwide. They also have a good backround on the avian influenza, please don't push this issue onto the back burner.

History of Avian Flu
The Avian Flu disease has captured considerable international attention over the past year with serious epidemics of this disease affecting Japan, South Korea, and areas of South-east Asia earlier this year. Now considered a pandemic, serious outbreaks of avian influenza had also affected the Netherlands, Belgium, and Germany in 2003. Avian flu had also been reported in Australia, Pakistan, Italy, Chile, and Mexico. The impact of this serious disease has been disruptive to the poultry industries as millions of chickens, geese, and turkeys were slaughtered to prevent further transmission of this highly contagious disease.
Besides its devastating effect on domestic poultry, Avian Flu has received unprecedented publicity because of what occurred in Hong Kong in 1997. Before this time, Avian flu was thought to infect birds only, however, a different strain of Avian Flu virus was detected in humans, marking the first time that Avian Flu was transmitted to humans. During this outbreak, 18 people were hospitalized and 6 of them died. To control the outbreak, authorities killed about 1.5 million chickens to remove the source of the virus.
Earlier this year in January, a major outbreak of Avian influenza surfaced again in Vietnam’s and Thailand's poultry industry. Within a few short weeks, the disease had spread to ten countries and regions in Asia, including Indonesia, South Korea, Japan and China. Over 50 million chickens, ducks, geese, and turkey were slaughtered in an intensive effort to stop the disease from spreading any further. The outbreak was then contained in March. Unfortunately, this outbreak took a considerable toll on human lives. There were 34 people infected with the Avian Flu in Vietnam and Thailand, of which 23 of them tragically died.
Though scientists determined that the spread of the Avian flu virus from birds to humans are rare occurrences, they were also quick to express grave caution that this problem could become significantly worse if the virus mutated into a more lethal form, or a form that could pass easily from humans to humans. The World Health Organization (WHO) is particularly concerned about the Avian virus' potential to swap genes with a common flu virus, creating a lethal form of the virus that could spread around the globe within months.
Avian Flu was first recorded in Italy more than 100 years ago in 1878. As the cause of massive poultry epidemics, this disease was then known as “Fowl Plague”. This disease reared its ugly head in the United States in 1924-25, and then again in 1929. In 1955, it was determined that the virus causing Fowl Plague was one of the influenza viruses. All influenza viruses affecting domestic animals (equine, swine, avian) belong to Type A, and Type A influenza virus is the most common type producing serious epidemics in humans. Types B and C do not affect domestic animals.
There are two forms of Influenza A viruses occurring worldwide – (i) highly pathogenic and (ii) mildly pathogenic. The outbreaks in Hong Kong, and those that were found reported recently are caused by the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza A virus (HPAI – subtypes H5 and H7). It is a form of this virus that has the ability to be transmitted to humans. Although our understanding of Avian Flu is relatively limited, the recent outbreaks have stimulated research all around the world to further our knowledge of this important disease and virus.

The Coming Police State: Will the Bird Flu Trigger Martial Law?

I have been reading some interesting information regarding the avian flu and the eventual spreading of it here in America. Recently the bird flu reached Eastern Europe, and scientists warn that if and when the virus jumps to humans it could cause results similar to the 1918 Spanish avian flu in which 40-50 million people worldwide died. Remember last year when the United States (the global super-power) ran out of regular flu vaccinations?

Currently only one drug, Tamiflu, has proven to reduce symptoms of avian flu. How many doses of Tamiflu does the world's richest country own? Current stockpiles in the United States would be able to treat roughly 2% of the population. Which 2% do you think would receive the treatment? Have no fear, America, the Bush administration has just placed a desperate last-minute order for Tamiflu with the Roche company for 81 million doses. The problem with this is if the avian flu hits this winter (which scientists predict it will) the doses will not be available in time. Roche has stated that the 81 million dose order will not be produced in time for winter.

It is no surprise that other nations have prepared ahead of time for the coming pandemic threat by stocking up on Tamiflu; countries like Canada, France, Britain and Japan are prepared to protect their citizens.

What did you expect, America? We are spending hundreds of billions of dollars on war in Iraq. Why would the Bush administration try to protect it's people against a real threat? In light of this recent discovery of the shortage of Tamiflu doses, it is no surprise to me that the Bush administration has recently introduced legislation that would hand over all powers to the Pentagon in case of emergency here in America. Surely an outbreak of the avian flu with shortages of the drug needed to treat it could result in mass rioting and chaos. That is where the armed forces step in and lock us down. I believe in my heart of hearts that the response to Katrina in New Orleans was a test run for just this type of situation.

You can't argue this one. While Bush claims he is fighting the war in Iraq to make us more safe here, he is actually making us less safe and it has nothing to do with terrorism. It is your money, America! Instead of it being used to buy drugs needed to treat your children and loved ones, it is being used to murder and conquer. It is time to take back our money and maybe a little of our self respect too.

Who Is Watching Your Money?

A recent article by Knight Ridder has exposed the lack of contract oversight in Iraq. The inspector general for the Department of Defense withdrew all auditors from Iraq in the fall of 2004, according to Lt. Col. Rose-Ann Lynch, spokeswoman for the Defense Department's inspector generals office. What does this mean for you and I? Currently there is $142 billion in taxpayer money allocated for the reconstruction of Iraq with no auditors from the Defense Department reviewing how the money is being spent. According to the article, between October of 2004 and this month only 1 of the 107 audits listed on the Defense Department IG's website involved Iraq. Lt. Col. Lynch told Knight Ridder that the Defense Department Inspector General "currently has no specific audits being conducted in Iraq."

This is our money America. It is taxpayer money that we worked hard for. Would you sit by and allow someone to rip you and your family off? Do you look at receipts to check if your being "swindled". I will end this asking just one question: If you were running a business, is this how you would handle your contracting and spending?

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