Tuesday, May 31, 2011

WHO: Radiofrequency radiation from cell phones and other sources a possible carcinogen

From the Washington Post:
“After a weeklong meeting on the type of electromagnetic radiation found in cellphones, microwaves and radar, the expert panel said there was limited evidence cellphone use was linked to two types of brain tumors and inadequate evidence to draw conclusions for other cancers.”
This whole issue is totally gummed up by conflicts of interest.  The telecoms industry has sponsored much of the research. But several weeks a go a paper out of China provided powerful epidemiologic evidence for cell phone use and parotid gland tumors.  (This salivary gland is located just below and in front of the ear.)  Other tumors that have been linked to cell phone use include acoustic neuroma (a common, benign tumor of the cranial nerve to the inner ear), glioblastoma multiforme (a very malignant brain tumor seen most often in older ages) and meningioma (usually benign tumors of the brain and spinal cord lining).  Although benign, these tumors still require very delicate brain surgery, and may still kill the patient.

The Interphone study, a multicountry many year study of the effects of cellphones has suffered from hidden data and other issues.  Louis Slesin's well-regarded Microwave News has detailed the backstory of this very expensive project.

Another important, recently published piece of this puzzle is an NIH paper that showed exposure to radiofrequency radiation similar to that from a phone antenna significantly increased brain glucose metabolism in areas experiencing highest signal strength.

It appears the tide has turned on this contentious issue.

On May 27 the Council of Europe adopted Resolution 1815 (2011):
The potential dangers of electromagnetic fields and their effect on the environment
-- whose text can be read here.

What to do?  Luckily, there are easy fixes.  Keep the phone away from your body, with an earpiece/headset or bluetooth device, since exposure is inversely proportional to the square of the distance from your tissues.  (Even the package inserts tell you to keep the phone away; do you still have the information that came with your cell phone?)  Use landlines (even better if they are not wireless).  Or texting.  Or email.

A peculiarity of US law:  citizens are not allowed to reject the siting of cell phone towers on the basis of health risk for anything other than thermal effects.*  Let me restate that.  The law is a pre-emptive strike against the kinds of scientific research that now point to adverse effects of radiofrequency radiation (including microwaves) in addition to, and different from, the effect of heating up tissue.  The law basically assumes such effects cannot exist, and prevents citizens from using such effects to fight cell tower installations.

With this law in mind, the local school superintendent recently announced that a cell tower would be placed at our high school, currently a dead zone for cell phones.  If it doesn't cook you, the US Government has made it safe, by decree.

Unlimited service may give us new freedoms, but it has its own price.

UPDATE:  The August 18, 2011 NY Times carried an article from San Francisco on the paradoxical warnings required by federal regulation in areas where radiofrequency antennae are installed as cell towers, while federal law prohibits any consideration of health effects in local decisions about siting of the towers. 

*  1. Federal law prohibits state and local agencies, including zoning boards, from basing tower/antenna
siting and construction permits on the harmful environmental effects of radiofrequency (RF) radiation
emissions “to the extent that facilities comply with” the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC)
regulations.  [47 USC Sec. 332( c)(7)(iv)].  Courts and the FCC have interpreted this law to apply to
“human health.”
     2. FCC RF safety standards are based on protection of humans against thermal effects from high
power levels of RF radiation.  The FCC radiation limits do not protect people from adverse
biological effects of long term RF exposure or take into account the impact on children
or other especially vulnerable citizens.   
     3. Legal advocates argue that FCC RF safety standards do not extend to harmful effects on animals or
wildlife. Test cases to determine this are pending in the courts.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Germany: Nuclear power plants to close by 2022/ BBC

From the BBC:
Germany's coalition government has announced a reversal of policy that will see all the country's nuclear power plants phased out by 2022.
The decision makes Germany the biggest industrial power to announce plans to give up nuclear energy.
Environment Minister Norbert Rottgen made the announcement following late-night talks.
Chancellor Angela Merkel set up a panel to review nuclear power following the crisis at Fukushima in Japan.
There have been mass anti-nuclear protests across Germany in the wake of March's Fukushima crisis, triggered by an earthquake and tsunami.
Mr Rottgen said the seven oldest reactors - which were taken offline for a safety review immediately after the Japanese crisis - would never be used again. An eighth plant - the Kruemmel facility in northern Germany, which was already offline and has been plagued by technical problems, would also be shut down for good.
Six others would go offline by 2021 at the latest and the three newest by 2022, he said...

However, last September Chancellor Angela Merkel's coalition scrapped those plans - announcing it would extend the life of the country's nuclear reactors by an average of 12 years...

Saturday, May 28, 2011

The anthrax killings: A troubled mind/ LA Times

In a lead-up to the release of his book in June, David Willman writes about Bruce Ivins' eccentricities and threats of violence.  The problem is, the story fails to make clear who Willman's sources are.  How does Willman know Ivins carried a gun on campus?  How does Willman know Psychiatrist David Irwin said Ivins was the scariest patient he'd ever treated?  
A psychiatrist who treated him in the late 1990s, Dr. David Irwin, confided to a therapist that Ivins was the "scariest" patient he had ever known...

On July 18, 2000, Ivins told a mental health counselor that he had recently planned to poison his former assistant, Mara Linscott. In addition to having cyanide, he said that he had once obtained ammonium nitrate, to make a bomb.

He saw himself, Ivins said, as an "avenging angel of death."
Did these comments originate with the alcohol counselor, who was herself under house arrest at the time for DUI and had a long list of old police charges, including assault and possession of drug paraphernalia?

This piece does appear to shed additional light on Ivins' history and odd habits, but much better sourcing is needed for Willman's work to add significantly to the anthrax letters narrative.

Narcolepsy cases rising after swine flu vaccine/ THE LOCAL

From Sweden's English language online paper, The Local:
Ninety-three people in Sweden, most of them children, have been diagnosed with narcolepsy since taking the swine flu vaccine Pandemrix last winter, according to figures from the Swedish Medical Products Agency (Läkemedelsverket).
In 88 of the 93 cases, the agency has identified a direct correlation between the vaccine and the onset of narcolepsy, a sleep disorder causing extreme drowsiness and daytime sleep attacks.

According to the Swedish Association of Persons with Neurological Disabilities (Neurologiskt handikappades riksförbund - NHR), the agency is examining a further 135 cases involving children and will present its full findings later this summer.

NHR announced on Friday the launch of a 250,000 kronor ($40,000) research grant to facilitate studies of the relationship between Pandemrix, a drug manufactured by pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline, and narcolepsy.

“We are deeply concerned and have decided that things need to happen, and quickly,” said NHR chair Kathleen Bengtsson-Hayward in a statement.

A study presented in March by the Medical Products Agency showed that children and adolescents under 20 vaccinated with Pandemrix could be up to four times as likely to develop narcolepsy as those not inoculated.

Since August 2010, at least 12 countries have reported cases of narcolepsy, particularly among children and adolescents, after receiving a swine flu, or H1N1, vaccine.

Figures from Sweden's National Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen), show that 31 million people have been vaccinated with Pandemrix in Europe.

According to the WHO, the rates of narcolepsy reported in Sweden, Finland and Iceland were higher than those in other countries.

Emergent expects large anthrax vaccine order/ Business Week

The US government, according to the anthrax vaccine maker, has promised to spend a billion more bucks on a vaccine that makes 1-2% of recipients seriously ill, and that expires after 3-4 years.  44 million new doses are being ordered.  Every American is kicking in about 6 dollars for this scary product that probably no civilians will use, and military servicemembers only take under threat of court martial.  (There have been hundreds to thousands of refusals anyway.  I testified at a number of them.)

The U.S. government has informed Emergent BioSolutions Inc. said that it plans to order 44.8 million doses of its BioThrax anthrax vaccine, the company said Thursday.
Emergent said it expected to finalize the contract during the third quarter, and deliver the doses of BioThrax to the Strategic National Stockpile over the next five years. The company has delivered about 42 million doses of BioThrax to the government over the past 12 years.

Is a repeat flu shot needed? This fall, maybe not/AP

Most Americans who got flu vaccine last year don't need it again.  But CDC and manufacturers are confident of their maarketing prowess, and manufacturers are making 170 million doses for the US market.  Go figure.  From the Associated Press:
ATLANTA (AP) — Vaccine makers said this month they plan to make a record amount of flu vaccine for this fall and winter — enough for more than half the population. It's just not clear all those people will need it.
This year's flu shot will be a duplicate of last year's because the same flu strains are still circulating. So some experts say young, healthy people may have enough protection from last season's vaccine to skip getting it again this fall.
"For healthy people, it can't be said to be necessary," said Dr. Robert Couch, a flu vaccine expert at the Baylor College of Medicine.
Still, government health officials are urging nearly everyone to get this fall's flu shot. They say a vaccine's protection can fade significantly after several months — especially for those who are frail and elderly. [Many frail elderly do not get protection from the shot at all--Nass]
Two weeks ago, five vaccine manufacturers announced plans to make between 166 million and 173 million doses for the coming season. That's at least 6 million more than the maximum ever produced.
It's quite a bet, considering the flu season that just ended was somewhat mild. But vaccine makers think it's a good one.
"We are confident in our 2011 projections for the U.S. market. They are based on ordering patterns as well as what's known about the epidemiology of the flu," said Liz Power, spokeswoman for Novartis Vaccines, one of the main manufacturers of flu shots for the United States.
Demand for vaccine has been growing in the U.S. More than 40 percent of the population was vaccinated against the flu in the last 10 months, the second year in a row vaccinations were at so high a level. Previously, only about a third of Americans were getting vaccinated, according to government figures.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had something to do with that. Last year, the CDC began recommending an annual flu vaccination for everyone except babies younger than 6 months and those with egg allergies or other unusual conditions. That probably helped boost vaccination rates, along with the appearance in 2009 of swine flu, which was more dangerous than other strains to young people.
The CDC also is buying about 18 million of the 2011-2012 doses, primarily for government vaccine programs for children.
Other countries, even in Europe, do not promote flu shots as aggressively as the United States. Seasonal flu can be deadly, especially for the elderly and people with weak immune systems.
The biggest selling point for an annual shot, usually, is that flu strains are usually different each year. But this year, that argument goes out the window. The last time flu strains didn't change was during the winters of 2002-2004.
But there are other arguments for getting a flu shot. For one thing, the vaccine is only about 70 percent effective to begin with — and that's in a good year, when the vaccine is well-calibrated to circulating strains. That's not good enough to protect the U.S. population for one year, let alone two, CDC officials say.
But the main argument now is one of waning immunity. CDC officials believe that a year after someone gets the flu shot, antibody levels — an indicator of immunity — can fall by two-thirds or more. Some key studies indicate the resulting levels are not strong enough to be protective, said Nancy Cox, head of the CDC's chief of the CDC's flu division.
However, other studies are less clear. Some have suggested that a flu vaccination can provide sufficient protection for more than a year in adults, and perhaps two or three years in children.
Cox said some of those conflicting studies are outdated and flawed, and noted more recent U.S. studies that found large drops in children's immunity in just one year.
Other researchers sound less decided about which studies were right and which were wrong on this question.
"Nobody really, really knows," said Dr. John Treanor, a flu vaccine researcher at the University of Rochester School of Medicine.
But even if the question is unsettled, Treanor and other experts said the CDC's position is probably the wisest course.
"The bottom line is, with our current knowledge, we believe it is better to be re-vaccinated. And getting another shot is certainly not going to harm you," said Dr. Arnold Monto, an esteemed University of Michigan flu expert.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Rep. Nadler presses FBI for anthrax information/ McClatchy

Another story by Greg Gordon explores the false/misleading answer the FBI provided Rep. Nadler, a House Judiciary subcommittee chairman, when he asked about the silicon content of the anthrax letters in September 2008.  It took 7 months to get the wrong answer.

Nadler was told the Leahy letter contained 1.4% silicon (felt to be "naturally" present), and the Post letter was unable to be tested accurately.  But in fact, the FBI got a result of over 10% silicon in the Post letter:
A senior member of the House of Representatives is pressing the FBI to explain why he apparently was sent "incomplete and misleading" information that concealed a lab test showing a soaring level of silicon in one of the anthrax-laden letters that killed five people in 2001.
Democratic Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York, a senior Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, demanded an explanation in a letter Wednesday to FBI Director Robert Mueller after a McClatchy story disclosed that the Justice Department gave a sketchy reply to Nadler's 2008 inquiry.
McClatchy also reported in its May 19 story that FBI lab data suggests that a silicon-based chemical may have been added to the anthrax powder to heighten its potency. Some scientists say that concocting such a chemical formula would have been beyond the expertise of the late Bruce Ivins, a longtime Army anthrax researcher whom the FBI blames for the attacks.

Ivins committed suicide in July 2008 after learning that prosecutors planned to accuse him of capital murder. Nadler is among the congressional skeptics of the FBI's decision last year, based solely on circumstantial evidence, to close the investigation and blame Ivins.

In his letter, Nadler noted that a National Academy of Sciences panel that reviewed the FBI's handling of scientific issues declined in February to rule out the possibility that silicon was added to the powder mailed to the New York Post in a failed attempt to enhance its dispersion.
"Were additional samples tested to determine the extent to which the ones examined were representative of the New York Post letter material?" Nadler wrote. An anthrax-laced letter was sent to the newspaper in 2001.
If not, he asked, how would the FBI respond to the academy panel's conclusion? Nadler requested that if additional tests were done, that the results be provided to the FBI and the academy.
At a Judiciary Committee hearing weeks after Ivins' death, Nadler asked Mueller how much silicon was found in the anthrax-filled letters sent to Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont and the New York Post.
Mueller demurred, asking whether he could respond later in writing. Seven months later, the Justice Department replied that the letter to Leahy contained 1.4 percent silicon by mass, but that "a reliable quantitative assessment" of the silicon content in the Post letter wasn't possible because of the "limited quantity of material."
However, a second sample from the Leahy powder contained 1.8 percent silicon, and the bureau advised the academy panel and others that an FBI lab test found 10.8 percent silicon by mass in the Post letter.
Nadler wrote Mueller that the response in April 2009 from M. Faith Burton, an acting chief of the Justice Department's Office of Legislative Affairs "appears to have been incomplete and misleading."
The FBI said the bureau had received the letter and would respond directly to Nadler.
Allan Lengel also wrote about this story here, including a transcript of Rep. Nadler's letter.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

David Kelly: Stolen Dental Records???

David Kelly's dental records went missing for several days, then reappeared, according to his dentist.  It now turns out there were several sets of unidentified fingerprints on Kelly's dental file.

This is not what the Hutton Inquiry was told years ago, when it was assured there were no extraneous prints on the file.

Although borrowed dental records make no obvious sense, they perhaps hint that various methods for elimination of Dr. Kelly were considered, and the issue of identifying his body later, using dental records, may have entered into the discussions.  Enough so a review of the dental records was considered worthwhile.  After all, one wouldn't expect that a dental file, borrowed briefly, would be discovered, let alone be reported to police.

I am done being polite about this case.  Kelly would not have wiped his knife (and 4 other items) clean of fingerprints after cutting himself; he did not die from the pills he took since there was only a low (therapeutic) blood level, and it remains unclear exactly how he died, whether much blood was lost, and even where he died.

Kelly was murdered as punishment for spilling the beans about Tony Blair's falsified case for war.  His murder was a terrorist act, its motive to frighten anyone else who might dare to speak the truth about Bliar's "sexed-up" grounds for invading Iraq.  And perhaps to frighten whistleblowers of all stripes, who might challenge the UK government status quo.  Today the UK is #1 among nations at creating a "1984"-style police state, undergirded by an infinity of surveillance cameras.  What a legacy, Tony!

Qui bono?  Who benefited?  Who gave the order?  Which units perform (or hire out) such acts?  Look for ex-soldiers with experience performing the dirtiest deeds in Ireland, Rhodesia, South Africa, imho.  There you will find people who know how the Kellys of this world are "taken care of".

Male Congressmembers' Favorite Target: Intelligent, Competent Women

Who is the person in the Obama administration who has been most firmly pro-consumer and staunchly in favor of strict banking regulations?  Elizabeth Warren, a Harvard Law School professor/consumer economist. Professor Warren is trying to clean up the marketplace so consumers will understand what it is they are buying.  She has acknowledged that when reading credit card disclosure forms, for example, even she, who teaches contract law at Harvard, is unable to perform a comparison because the verbiage is so confusing (and is designed to be).

Some would say her plan would help markets run more perfectly, like markets are supposed to according to economic models.  You'd think free market proponents would like that.  Alas, not.

Giving all comers to the marketplace an equal playing field is frightening to Congressional Republicans.  So they tried to tar and feather her.  They played games with the timing of her testimony.  They claimed she misled Congress (after she submitted requested documents to the committee in March and was never questioned subsequently) because her agency had advised the Iowa Attorney General in addition to advising federal agencies.  She was called a liar.  They did their best--unsuccessfully-- to make her "lose it" at the hearing.  In fact, Congressional bravery and brilliance almost attained the trough (pun intended) reached in the Anita Hill hearings on Clarence Thomas.

In March, Nobelist and NYT columnist Paul Krugman commented on this same phenomenon:
The fact that she’s so well qualified is, of course, the reason she’s being attacked so fiercely. Nothing could be worse, from the point of view of bankers and the politicians who serve them, than to have consumers protected by someone who knows what she’s doing and has the personal credibility to stand up to pressure.
We are at WAR, after all, and the rules of engagement say Take No Prisoners.  This is a war on the middle and lower classes of the USA, and no Elizabeth Warren cum Jeanne D'Arc is getting out alive.

I figured this out yesterday, when the May 23 headline of Investors Business Daily (not available free online) shouted "1,000 Small Banks May be Shut Down Due to Dodd-Frank."  Subtitles:  A Flood of Costly New Rules" and "Banker Scourge Warren vows aggressive efforts by her consumer agency."  The article goes on to quote Warren:
'We will build a strong enforcement arm.  More than half our budget will be committed to establishing supervision and meaningful enforcement.'  That has bankers petrified...

The powerful credit cop also will enforce "fair-lending" rules outlawing credit discrimination...
Sounds pretty scary to me.  Enforce banking regulations?  Outlaw discrimination?  Terrifying.  Course it just might save us from the major depression that's looming, if banks are actually called to account, and prevented from bamboozling their clients, mortgagees and insurers.  What a brave new world that would be. Better take down the interim head (Professor Warren) of what Investors Business Daily termed "the only agency dedicated solely to consumer protection" before the agency even launches in July.  Can't let the plebeians win even one battle in this war.  Wouldn't want them getting any ideas.

UPDATE:  I got an email signed by Sen. Al Franken just now asking me to sign a petition asking Obama to make a recess appointment of Elizabeth Warren to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.  This because Repubs have said they will block all appointments to lead this agency unless the scope of the agency is changed (read: agency is disempowered).  So I signed.  We plebes have to do something to defend ourselves.  Consider signing.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

FBI lab reports on anthrax attacks suggest another miscue/ McClatchy

McClatchy's Greg Gordon has written another excellent piece on the anthrax letters. The focus this time is on the silicon and tin added to the spore prep, and how the FBI resolutely failed to investigate them as a means of solving the case:
The existence of the silicon-tin chemical signature offered investigators the possibility of tracing purchases of the more than 100 such chemical products available before the attacks, which might have produced hard evidence against Ivins or led the agency to the real culprit.
But the FBI lab reports released in late February give no hint that bureau agents tried to find the buyers of additives such as tin-catalyzed silicone polymers.
The apparent failure of the FBI to pursue this avenue of investigation raises the ominous possibility that the killer is still on the loose.
A McClatchy analysis of the records also shows that other key scientific questions were left unresolved and conflicting data wasn't sorted out when the FBI declared Ivins the killer shortly after his July 29, 2008, suicide.
And here is a classic example of how the FBI promulgates BS it knows is total BS:  by failing to allow the purveyor of crap to be identified, everyone at the Bureau saves face, and the media will print the excrement FBI provided:
A senior federal law enforcement official, who was made available only on the condition of anonymity, said the FBI had ordered exhaustive tests on the possible sources of silicon in the anthrax and concluded that it wasn't added. Instead, the lab found that it's common for anthrax spores to incorporate environmental silicon and oxygen into their coatings as a "natural phenomenon" that doesn't affect the spores' behavior, the official said.
Gordon printed the unsourced comments, yes--but then he made clear their total lack of veracity:
To arrive at that position, however, the FBI had to discount its own bulk testing results showing that silicon composed an extraordinary 10.8 percent of a sample from a mailing to the New York Post and as much as 1.8 percent of the anthrax from a letter sent to Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, far more than the occasional trace contamination. Tin — not usually seen in anthrax powder at all — was measured at 0.65 percent and 0.2 percent, respectively, in those letters.
An FBI spokesman declined to comment on the presence of tin or to answer other questions about the silicon-tin connection.
...The silicon-tin connection wasn't the only lead left open in one of the biggest investigations in FBI history, an inquiry that took the bureau to the cutting edge of laboratory science. In April, McClatchy reported that after locking in on Ivins in 2007, the bureau stopped searching for a match to a unique genetic bacterial strain scientists had found in the anthrax that was mailed to the Post and to NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw, although a senior bureau official had characterized it as the hottest clue to date.

FBI officials say it's all a moot point, because they're positive they got the right man in Ivins. 
... the FBI never found hard evidence that Ivins produced the anthrax or that he scrawled threatening letters seemingly meant to resemble those of Islamic terrorists. Or that he secretly took late-night drives to Princeton, N.J., to mail them.
In a chapter in a recently updated book, "Microbial Forensics," Velsko wrote that the anthrax "must have indeed been produced under an unusual set of conditions" to create such high silicon counts. That scenario, he cautioned, might not be "consistent with the prosecution narrative in this case."
...As a result of Ivins' death and the unanswered scientific issues, Congress' investigative arm, the Government Accountability Office, is investigating the FBI's handling of the anthrax inquiry.
UPDATE:  Further stirring the pot, Maureen Stevens has amended her lawsuit against the federal government with testimony from 2 of Ivins' supervisors, who say Ivins could not have been a sole perpetrator of the anthrax letters.
... After obtaining these statements, Stevens' lawyers successfully argued to a federal judge that she should be allowed to withdraw from her previous agreement with lawyers for the U.S. that Ivins was solely to blame so her attorneys could use the new evidence at trial. Attorneys for the federal government didn't object and her motion was granted April 14.
The change means Stevens' attorneys are now free to take additional statements and search for other evidence that might conflict with the FBI's conclusion...
Trial is currently scheduled for Dec. 5 before Senior U.S. District Judge Daniel T.K. Hurley in West Palm Beach...
Hurley has refused U.S. government attempts to get the case dismissed, and his rulings were upheld by an appeals court.

Victory for Veterans/ NY Times Editorial

From the NY Times' editorial page:
The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ordered an overhaul of mental health care for veterans, who are killing themselves by the thousands each year because of what the court called the “unchecked incompetence” of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

... delays in treating post-traumatic stress disorder and other combat-related mental injuries violated veterans’ constitutional rights. The delays are getting worse as more troops return from Afghanistan and Iraq, the judges said. About 18 veterans commit suicide on an average day.

... The judges said the system for screening suicidal patients was ineffective, and cited a 2007 inspector general’s conclusion that suicide-prevention measures were mostly absent. The same report found that the veterans department’s regional medical centers have suicide-prevention experts, but its 800 community-based outpatient clinics — which veterans most often use — do not. This crisis plagues active-duty soldiers, too, and the Pentagon has lagged in responding effectively. The government has long known what it was up against with P.T.S.D. and brain injuries — the signature afflictions of current wars...

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Dominique Strauss-Kahn was pushing for increased bank regulations and more even income distribution worldwide/ Washington Post

UPDATE:  Dominique Strauss-Kahn is "not in a position to run" the International Monetary Fund after his arrest over an alleged sexual assault, US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has said.  May we remind Mr. Geithner that he was guilty of tax evasion, yet he runs the US Treasury, responsible for collecting taxes.  What was good for the goose is not good for the gander.  But some have no shame.

Meanwhile, IMF deputy director John Lipsky will run the IMF.  Lipsky is formerly of the US Treasury and of JP Morgan.  No doubt more predictable, especially after viewing the lesson provided to DSK.

Let me make clear, I do not condone rape.  This case interests me simply because it was handled so differently from the usual case of diplomats gone wrong, such as in a vehicular homicide, or the aforementioned incident in Pakistan.  Who denied Strauss-Kahn the niceties that normally accompany his position, and why?  That is the interesting question here, and media have failed to ask it.

The April 11, 2011 Washington Post had an interesting piece about new directions at the IMF, led by DSK.  One has to wonder if this helped lead to the crisis in which DSK now finds himself, entirely stripped of dignity, being tortured (a la Bradley Manning, who was put on suicide watch as a way to enhance his psychological torture--with clothes and personal items removed, lights on 24/7) and pilloried around the world.  Read the following and see the threat he posed to the banks that now own and run our little planet.
Since the Wall Street bank Lehman Brothers failed more than two years ago, bringing the global economy to the brink of collapse, countries have spent hundreds of billions of dollars to prop up their markets, intensified regulation of financial companies and deepened government involvement in the economy.
For International Monetary Fund managing director Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the job is only half done, as he has been leading the fund through a fundamental rethinking of its economic theory. In recent remarks, he has provided a broad summary of the conclusions: State regulation of markets needs to be more extensive; global policies need to create a more even distribution of income; central banks need to do more to prevent lending and asset prices from expanding too fast.
“The pendulum will swing from the market to the state,” Strauss-Kahn said in an address at George Washington University last week. “Globalization has delivered a lot . . . but it also has a dark side, a large and growing chasm between the rich and the poor. Clearly we need a new form of globalization” to prevent the “invisible hand” of loosely regulated markets from becoming “an invisible fist.
The effort to recast global economics will be a focus of IMF meetings this week...

The growing income gap between the rich and poor is no longer seen by many inside the IMF as a by-product of economic boom times but a cause of crisis, as poor and middle-income families turn to borrowed money to make up for stagnant incomes.

Strauss-Kahn continues to push for major new financial sector taxes, although that issue has never gained broad support. He has been frustrated as well in advocating an international program to ensure that the most globally connected financial firms can be put out of business if needed without costing taxpayers. That would require a deeper level of cooperation among nations than exists...

The IMF has also revised its long-standing opposition to “capital controls“ and researching ways that nations could control risky behavior by financial firms.
Strauss-Kahn — who is in the fourth year of a five-year term at the IMF and is being mentioned as a possible Socialist Party candidate in upcoming French presidential elections — said any suggestion that the fund is pushing for too much government is off the mark. The financial crisis is evidence, he said.
“There is a long way to go before all that has been badly done by the lack of supervision of the market will be overcome,” he said. “The whole public sphere has to do more.”

Monday, May 16, 2011

Cores Damaged at 3 Reactors/ WSJ

Partial meltdowns of three reactors and breaches of the containment vehicles are finally acknowledged by TEPCO on May 15.  From the WSJ:
Substantial damage to the fuel cores at two additional reactors of Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex has taken place, operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Sunday, further complicating the already daunting task of bringing them to a safe shutdown while avoiding the release of high levels of radioactivity. The revelation followed an acknowledgment on Thursday that a similar meltdown of the core took place at unit No. 1...

Ban mobile phones and wireless networks in schools, say European leaders/ The Telegraph

I attended the European Bioelectromagnetics meeting in Helsinki in September 2001, and discovered then that there were dueling bodies of evidence regarding whether electromagnetic fields from cell phones or other sources caused adverse health effects.  Things have not changed a lot since then, although the body of research has considerably expanded.  Because the research paid for by industry found EMFs to be safe, and independent research frequently found them harmful, attempts to regulate EMFs have gone nowhere in the US.  In fact, no one at EPA is charged with investigating or regulating EMFs.

Things appear to be different in the EU.  There, a report dated May 6, 2011, titled The potential dangers of electromagnetic fields and their effect on the environment has made recommendations to reduce exposure to certain fields, such as those from cell phones, especially in children.  It is a breath of fresh air to have an official body acknowledge the utility of the precautionary principle.

From the Telegraph:
A Council of Europe committee examined evidence that the technologies have "potentially harmful" effects on humans, and concluded that immediate action was required to protect children.
In a report, the committee said it was crucial to avoid repeating the mistakes made when public health officials were slow to recognise the dangers of asbestos, tobacco smoking and lead in petrol...

The committee concluded that member states should:

• Set thresholds for levels of long-term exposure to microwaves of the type emitted by mobile phones;
• Introduce clear labelling on products indicating the presence of electromagnetic fields and any health risks associated with use;
• Ban all mobile phones and wireless networks in classrooms and schools;
• Run information campaigns aimed at children and young adults about the risks to human health;
• Step up research on less-dangerous types of antennae and mobile phones.
The conclusions contradict advice from the World Health Organisation and the Department of Health, which says exposure to electromagnetic fields poses little or no risk to human health.
The Council of Europe, which has 47 member states and is based in Strasbourg, cannot impose its will on governments, but is highly influential in policy-making and has often seen its decisions enacted through conventions and treaties.
A draft resolution – calling on governments to "take all reasonable measures to reduce exposure to electromagnetic fields" from mobile phones and similar devices, including the ban in schools – was adopted unanimously by the organisation's Committee on the Environment, Agriculture and Local and Regional Affairs.
The committee is composed of 84 MPs and politicians from member states, and its vice-chairman is Lord Prescott, the former Deputy Prime Minister. Its members reviewed the latest research on the effects of electromagnetic fields and took fresh evidence from experts before reaching its conclusions...

Sunday, May 15, 2011

I.M.F. Chief’s Arrest Throws French Politics Into Disarray/ NYT

UPDATE:  I was reminded that a fellow named Raymond Davis, a CIA contractor (formerly of Blackwater/Xe) shot two Pakistanis on motorcyces to death in February.  President Obama claimed he was "our diplomat"and insisted Pakistan grant him immunity under the Vienna Convention on diplomatic immunity of 1961.  Davis had a car full of weapons, disguises and other questionable material when arrested in Pakistan.

But the French head of the IMF, a UN agency, has been granted no immunity while over here.  Wasn't even given bail.  Is sitting in a cell at Riker's Island's notorious jail.  Hello?

From the NY Times and every other major world outlet:
For months, France has been buzzing with speculation that Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the popular chief of the International Monetary Fund, would quit his job in Washington to take on President Nicolas Sarkozy in next year’s presidential elections. But on Sunday, French politicians and media met news of his arrest in New York for alleged sexual aggression with stunned disbelief and expressions of national humiliation.  The incident threw Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s political party, the Socialists...
The head of France’s Christian Democratic party, Christine Boutin, went further, suggesting that amid the atmosphere of France’s presidential campaign, Mr. Strauss-Kahn may have been set up.   “I really believe that somebody set a trap for Dominique Strauss-Kahn to fall into,” she told French television. “That he could be taken in like that seems astounding, so he must have been trapped.” 
Of great interest, IMF staff have diplomatic immunity.  There is discussion of how much immunity they receive:  for only official acts or for everything?  From the OpinioJuris site:
... the Secretary General and Assistant Secretaries General of the UN, senior OAS officials get the same privileges and immunities as diplomats, meaning that they are absolutely immune in almost all cases from criminal arrest or civil suit.  And, at least some members of the IMF get this treatment as well.  The IMF is a specialized agency of the United Nations and the United Nations and the United States have a long-standing “Headquarters Agreement” that governs U.S. treatment of UN representatives and personnel. Article 15 of that agreement provides that:
“principal resident representatives of members of a specialized agency and such resident members of the staffs of representatives of a specialized agency as may be agreed upon between the principal executive officer of the specialized agency, the Government of the United States and the Government of the Member concerned, shall whether residing inside or outside the headquarters district, be entitled in the territory of the United States to the same privileges and immunities, subject to corresponding conditions and obligations, as it accords to diplomatic envoys accredited to it.”
Thus, if DSK were a “principal resident representative” (PRR) of the IMF, he might actually be immune from arrest entirely...
The fact that Strauss-Kahn was arrested so quickly, despite tricky legal matters of diplomatic immunity and a potential international incident, in NYC, home to the United Nations, where police are used to handling such delicate matters delicately, suggests that police may have received their marching orders from a higher authority, possibly even before the incident occurred.  The fact that the story made the headlines within hours also suggests the incident was handled outside usual diplomatic protocols.  

UPDATE:  From a later NY Times piece:
Well before Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s arrest there had been reports that Mr. Sarkozy was gathering information to discredit Mr. Strauss-Kahn should he run for president. In a famous incident, reported by the news magazine Le Point, Mr. Strauss-Kahn confronted Mr. Sarkozy in the men’s room at the Group of 20 summit meeting in Pittsburgh in September 2009, saying: “I’ve had more than enough of this continued gossip about my private life and about supposed dossiers and photos that could come out against me. I know that this is coming from the Élysée. Tell your guys to stop or I’ll go to the courts.”
UPDATE:  DSK placed on suicide watch, under 24/7 surveillance. 

Helicopter at death scene: Can the David Kelly suicide get any more bizarre?/ Daily Mail

While the world waits for UK Attorney General Dominic Grieve to decide whether to hold an inquest into Dr. Kelly's death, accruing information makes the suicide theory less and less tenable.  A helicopter, hired by Thames Valley police, landed at the scene 90 minutes after Kelly's body was discovered, stayed 5 minutes, then left.  Another scoop from the Daily Mail:
Details from its flight log, released under the Freedom of Information Act, show that the helicopter – hired by Thames Valley police – landed at Harrowdown Hill in Oxfordshire at 10.55am on July 18, 2003, 90 minutes after the body was discovered by volunteer search teams.
Significantly, the flight log has been heavily redacted, making it impossible to know who was on board or what its exact purpose was.
The flight was not mentioned in oral evidence at the Hutton Inquiry, set up by Tony Blair to investigate Dr Kelly’s death...
The riddle joins the growing list of unanswered questions about the circumstances of the government weapons inspector’s final moments.  
It emerges in the same week that Tony Blair and Alastair Campbell were accused of lying to the Chilcot Inquiry into the lead-up to the Iraq war.
The Mail reported yesterday how declassified documents from the inquiry revealed a spy chief disputed Campbell’s claim that the dossier was ‘not the case for war’.  
According to Major-General Michael Lurie, ‘We knew at the time that the purpose of the Dossier was precisely to make a case for war, rather than setting out the available intelligence. I and those involved in its production saw it exactly as that, and that was the direction we were given... ‘During the drafting of the final Dossier, every fact was managed to make it as strong as possible, the final statements reaching beyond the conclusions intelligence assessments would normally draw from such facts.
Called to give evidence behind closed doors, General Laurie was asked if the dossier gave the public ‘a false picture’ of the intelligence. He replied: ‘Yes, yes, yes.’
See the Daily Mail piece for "Ten Unanswered Questions."

Evidence not previously mentioned in this blog includes the fact Dr. Kelly booked a return flight to Iraq (for work) the morning he died, and had an appointment to meet one of his daughters later that day.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

$15,000 first prize for flu vaccine app/ CDC

Take the Flu App Challenge!

"Applications and technology make it easier to communicate critical information about the flu and its impact. We’re looking for an innovative use of technology to raise awareness of influenza and/or educate consumers on ways to prevent and treat the flu."
Software innovators, you have until May 27 to submit your app.  Good luck!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Flu: What are the Stats?/ CDC data

The 2010-11 flu season is now over.  Where do we stand in terms of vaccination and deaths from flu?

The influenza vaccine is said to have been a good match to the majority of strains that circulated during this flu season.

One hundred two (102) pediatric deaths were reported to CDC from the entire US for the flu season just finished.  This compares to 88 deaths for 2007-8, 133 deaths for 2008-9, 282 deaths for 2009-10 (when swine flu caused a prolonged season of influenza infection from May 2009 through spring 2010), and the aforementioned 102 deaths for the 2010-11 season just ended.  CDC reports that 51% of children hospitalized for influenza had no underlying chronic illnesses, while 49% had a preexisting chronic disease.

How many people died from influenza?  CDC reported deaths from flu in the US totalled 311.  [I am not sure if this includes pediatric deaths.]  Yet CDC claims that between 3,000 and 49,000 people die from flu in the US yearly.  Where does this number come from?  Good question.  The crystal ball is in an undisclosed location.  CDC has developed mathematical models that yield projected deaths.  But the models are never compared with real numbers (deaths associated with positive flu lab tests, for example) to see how accurate they are.

On February 24, 2010 vaccine experts voted that everyone 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine each year starting with the 2010-2011 influenza season. While everyone should get a flu vaccine each flu season, it’s especially important that certain people get vaccinated either because they are at high risk of having serious flu-related complications or because they live with or care for people at high risk for developing flu-related complications.
How many people actually received flu vaccine in the US last season?  I have had a hard time finding out the number.  More than one hundred nineteen million (119,000,000) doses of flu vaccine were distributed by CDC last year, and up to 165 million doses were made.
During the swine flu pandemic in 2009-10, I estimated (due to lack of reliable data) that between 60 and 80 million Americans received vaccine, or between 20 and 25% of the population.  It seems fewer Americans have been vaccinated since, based on media reports.  
I can't tell you how many Americans were vaccinated last season.  I cannot calculate a number needed to treat to prevent one death, but it could be one million or more.  Four hundred thirteen (413) flu deaths (pedi plus total, which may be an over count) have been documented.  We don't know the completeness of the reporting.  We don't know how many of those who died were vaccinated.  We don't know what the number of people is who have had adverse reactions to the shots, nor do we have information on the types and rates of adverse reactions.  We don't know the cost of the vaccination program, but it probably costs at least a billion dollars to cover vaccine manufacture, shipping, syringes, administration, and disposal of both syringes and mercury-containing excess vaccine, which must be treated as hazardous waste.
By the way, telephone surveys are the method used by CDC and RAND to determine how many people got vaccinated.  But flu survey responses are not accurate.  For example, 39% of adults reported getting vaccinated to RAND, but less than 25% nationally actually did.  In a survey of 400 doctors, conducted by the National Foundation for Infectious Disease, 90% reported getting vaccinated.  But other data reveal that under 50% actually do.

This year, CDC says an estimated 42.3% of Americans over 6 months were vaccinated, or about 130 million Americans.  Do you think about twice as many Americans were vaccinated for flu last year, during a mild flu season, as were vaccinated in 2009-10 for swine flu, when vaccine was hyped daily?  I think not.

It would be nice for our taxpayer-funded public health system to give American citizens (not to mention health care providers) accurate numbers so we could make an educated decision about the risks, benefits and costs of the recommended yearly flu vaccination.  But then we could perform an independent cost-benefit assessment of flu vaccine policy.  And (considering Cochrane found no clear benefit) it may turn out that this expensive program has little in the way of data to recommend it.  After all, if the benefits were demonstrable, why wouldn't the CDC tell us?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Strengthen Restrictions On Health-Threatening Chemicals, Says Study

From the journal Health Affairs, the entire May issue focuses on the health effects of exposures to toxic chemicals in the environment.  From the Health Affairs blog:
With growing evidence of the link between exposure to toxic chemicals and chronic diseases, especially in children, the United States needs to step up its efforts to protect the public from hazardous chemicals, say researchers writing in the May issue of Health Affairs. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), stymied by the outdated Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), must seek partners in academia to help evaluate the risks of industrial chemicals on the market today, write Sarah Vogel of the Johnson Family Foundation and Jody Roberts of the Center for Contemporary History and Policy at the Chemical Heritage Foundation.

The May issue of Health Affairs is the journal’s first-ever thematic volume on environmental health. You can listen to a Washington D.C. briefing featuring many of the authors from the issue (video available soon). An earlier blog post discussed four of the other articles that focus on the impact of environmental factors on children’s health. The issue and briefing were supported by a grant from the Kresge Foundation.

Some 83,000 chemicals are on the market, and under TSCA, enacted in 1976, companies do not have to prove their chemicals are safe. Instead, the federal government must prove whether a chemical is dangerous. This provision keeps potentially harmful chemicals on the market, increasing the risk to human health. Furthermore, the process required by the law to identify and control hazardous chemicals requires an extensive process of collecting, analyzing and evaluating data. This process consumes considerable government time and resources and acts as a roadblock to efforts to manage chemical risks and protect the public’s health, according to the Vogel and Roberts.

Since the Toxic Substances Control Act was enacted, we’ve learned a great deal about everyday chemical exposure and its contribution to a growing number of chronic diseases such as reproductive disorders, learning and behavioral disabilities, and diabetes, the authors observe. Yet the EPA has had a nearly impossible time regulating the use of hazardous chemicals, such as asbestos, because it is hindered by the very high burden of proof that falls on the agency.

With reforms to the Toxic Substances Control Act uncertain, given the current political and budgetary climate, the EPA must look beyond Washington to strengthen its oversight of chemicals and accelerate efforts to reduce exposures to those chemicals that might contribute to poor health, Vogel and Roberts write. They propose that the EPA partner with academic institutions and professional societies to test and evaluate the risks of high-priority chemicals — including those that are produced in the greatest quantities, are commonly found in the human body, and that pose a potential risk to children’s health and development.

These partners could generate independent analyses by using clearly defined and transparent evaluative standards and controlling for conflicts of interest, the authors say. Building such partnerships would also strengthen the EPA’s existing programs and better position it for any transitions that may come with changes to the Toxic Substances Control Act. In April, a bill was introduced in the US Senate that would reform the country’s chemical policy and align the United States more closely with changes in Europe. The bill would require chemical producers to submit safety data for all chemicals, new and existing, and prioritize substances of concern for review and risk management. Many states have already taken steps to limit the market for hazardous chemicals, such as restricting lead in toys and bisphenol A (BPA) in baby bottles.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Did Vaccines Cause Autism? The US Government has paid for 83 children who became autistic after vaccination

Today a press conference was held to announce publication of a study of Vaccine Injury Compensation Program decisions-- 83 were made in favor of children who developed autism after vaccination.  The peer-reviewed study by Mary Holland, Research Scholar and Director of the Graduate Legal Skills Program, NYU School of Law; Louis Conte, Robert Krakow, and Lisa Colin, was published in the Pace Environmental Law Review

However, the DHHS has claimed, "HHS has never concluded in any case that autism was caused by vaccination.” Really?

In an article by Vera Sharav of the Alliance for Human Research Protection, Sharav notes: 
The catalyst for this Pace law review of VICP published compensated cases, was the case of Hannah Poling.  In a 2008 report submitted to the VICP (which was leaked to the press) the Health and Human Services administration "conceded"  that vaccines had triggered Hannah Poling’s encephalopathy and subsequent developmental regression. HHS’s description of the child’s condition implied a distinction between “autism-­like symptoms” and “autism,” although there was no ambiguity that Hannah Poling in fact had autism.
In 2010, the VICP court award Poling $1.5 million, while denying other similarly injured children compensation. Nevertheless, in March 3, 2011, HHS baldly disclaimed its own 2008 "concession" document, stating in its Statistics Report: “HHS has never concluded in any case that autism was caused by vaccination.”
Of note, a key similarity among the 83 successful claims, including the Poling case, claims which produced more than $96.7 million in settlements and awards, is semantics not evidence of injuries: the families who were successful in their claims did not assert that autism was their child’s primary injury.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

White powder letters spook Washington as anthrax attack recalled/ Int'l Business Times

Curious timing of anthrax letters arriving at DC schools.  Might they have been sent in support of the child vaccine trial?  From IBT:
Nearly 30 schools in Washington DC have received envelopes containing a mysterious white powder and with ‘AL AQEDA-FBI’ written on them, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said on Thursday. Preliminary testing has proved that the powder was not harmful, the FBI has said.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Let's Test Anthrax Vaccine in Children/ Bio Prep Watch

Yesterday it was announced that the government would be purchasing 3.42 million doses of anthrax vaccine to add to the civilian anthrax vaccine stockpile.  This is on top of the military stockpile, and comes out of DHHS funds.  The purchase adds up to $101 million to the total contract for DHHS' anthrax stockpile, now worth about $500 million.  Stockpile cost could climb to over $2 billion if the government purchases the 75 million doses it said it needed

Emergent Biosolutions, the vaccine's manufacturer, also secured a $186.6 million contract for a recombinant protein antigen to combat anthrax and a $28.7 million contract for a third-generation vaccine.  Not too shabby for a 12 year old company purchased for about $20 million from the state of Michigan, selling one product, a vaccine developed by the US Army. According to the Wall Street Journal, between 2000 and 2010 Emergent received government contracts valued at about $1.4 billion.  Emergent's Board (2007 and 2011) is made up of national political operatives with little anthrax experience but impressive connections.

Vaccine vials expire after 3-4 years, requiring continuous replenishment.  What a marvelous business model!  And what a way to throw taxpayer money into a black hole, according to the Center for American Progress.

But the gaping yaw of Emergent Biosolutions wasn't satisfied.   Emergent's courtiers in Washington decided only one thing would appease it:  the sacrifice of virgins on the anthrax vaccine altar.

Children would have to become test subjects to "prove" the vaccine's "safety".  Later, children everywhere would be able to receive anthrax vaccine, were the government to declare an anthrax emergency. At present, the vaccine has never been tested in children, and it is not FDA-approved for their use.

Yet this vaccine is neither safe nor effective.   After the anthrax attacks, CNN reported that Bill Frist, M.D., bioterrorism expert and Senate Majority Leader pointed out:
"The vaccine is a dated vaccine, it's an old vaccine. There are very real and potentially serious side effects from the vaccine and anyone who elects to receive the vaccine needs to be made aware of that.  I do not recommend widespread inoculation for people with the vaccine in the Hart Building.  There are too many side effects and if there is limited chance of exposure the side effects would far outweigh any potential advantage."
According to a 2007 report by the Congressional watchdog agency, the Government Accountability Office (GAO):
"Officials from the VHC [DoD's Vaccine Healthcare Centers] Network and CDC estimate that between 1 and 2 percent of immunized individuals may experience severe adverse events, which could result in disability or death."
Yet these facts are being ignored, according to BioPrepWatch:

"Nicole Lurie, the assistant secretary for preparedness and response at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, last week asked the National Biodefense Science Board to investigate the safety concerns of collecting data on the effects of anthrax vaccine in children.
 Dr. Nicole Lurie
There is currently no safety, immunogenicity or efficacy data in pediatric and special populations that would allow the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to evaluate the drug for its utilization under an Emergency Use Authorization.  In the case of an emergency, adults could receive the countermeasures under the less stringent EUA status, while an investigational protocol would still need to be developed for its use in children and special populations. This would present an array of logistical, clinical and communication challenges during a public health crisis." (emphasis added)
There are several ways to read this.  The first is, YES: giving anthrax vaccine to children would present an array of challenges, since an anthrax vaccine trial fails to meet the normal legal standard with respect to clinical trials in children.  These must entail no more than minimal risk if a child does not have a condition that would benefit from the intervention being studied (45 CFR 46, subpart D).  There is one rarely used exception for "not otherwise approvable" research in children, and it requires assent of an advisory panel, "sound ethical principles" and consent of both children and parents.  DHHS will probably try to squeeze the proposed research through under this exception, 45 CFR 46.407.

Another way to interpret these challenges is that the federal government cannot justify using the vaccine in children, let alone adults, in an emergency, given the following facts.   But then how would it explain the large vaccine stockpile?  On the other hand, if DHHS could generate scientific evidence to support vaccine use, it might circumvent those challenges:

a)   LOGISTICAL:  The vaccine takes 5+ weeks and 2 doses before it provides significant immunity.

b)   CLINICAL:  Antibiotics (and monoclonal antibodies) are effective immediately, so there is probably no meaningful role for a vaccine whose benefit only starts 5-6 weeks after exposure.
  • Remember, antibiotics were 100% effective at preventing anthrax after the letters attack, while at best, this vaccine is no more than 90% effective, and may be much less effective.  
  • Remember, we are talking about preventing and treating a fatal disease.  No matter what the government says, doctors cannot in good conscience switch from a highly effective drug treatment to a less effective vaccine, sacrificing some patients to a theory of vaccine benefit.  
  • Be aware there exist no human efficacy data to support the use of the current anthrax vaccine after exposure to inhaled anthrax.
c)   COMMUNICATION:  Government spokespersons would look like morons trying to justify use of the vaccine in children, when the media present both sides of the story... as they already have.  In 2001, 32,000 people who were possibly exposed to anthrax took antibiotics and were offered additional vaccine; only 198 (less than 1%) accepted anthrax vaccinations, the rest having watched the news.
Current law does allow FDA to issue an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for drugs that have not been tested for safety in humans, during emergencies. (So the proposed child research is not, strictly speaking, necessary.)

FDA issued an EUA in 2005 for use of anthrax vaccine in military servicemembers.  The EUA  allowed the military to continue to use the vaccine, after a federal judge revoked its license due to lack of proof of efficacy.  FDA knows about the vaccine's dangers; it has collected thousands of reports of illnesses related to anthrax vaccine.  Perhaps FDA did not want to sign off on an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for children, given the known facts about the vaccine.

Or perhaps DHHS decided the Department would be in a stronger legal position if  evidence of anthrax vaccine "safety" in children were generated before widespread use.  This is because DHHS, not the manufacturer, is on the hook for damages if the vaccine causes injuries, as a result of the 2005 Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act.

Did Nicole Lurie, M.D. want an honest, independent review of anthrax vaccine research in children?  If so, she took her concerns to the wrong place.  Who are the members of the National Biodefense Science Board, an entity created by Dr. Lurie, in part, to provide support for controversial decisions?

One member is retired Colonel John Grabenstein, Ph.D., who led the military anthrax vaccine program from 1999 through 2006, supervised multiple poorly conducted studies of anthrax vaccine safety, then moved to Merck Vaccine as a VP.  (I have critiqued the research projects here, here, here and elsewhere.  FDA noted serious methodological issues with the studies in its 2002 package insert.)

A second member is retired Major General John Parker, M.D., a former Commander at Fort Detrick, where anthrax vaccine was developed and has been researched for over 60 years.  He has been a strong anthrax vaccine proponent, and is currently a vice president of SAIC, which happens to be in the military vaccines business.  No one else in Lurie's advisory group is an anthrax vaccine expert.  Since only the military has used the vaccine, the other members will likely defer to the two experts on the panel, whose reputations rely on the vaccine being safe and effective.

The panel will issue its recommendation in the fall.  Whose children will then be used in the name of Biodefense Preparedness?  Will they belong to Emergent's officers or Board?  To DHHS officials?  To retired military officers?  Or will they be recruited from an inner city medical center with a high minority population?  What exactly will the consent form disclose about the vaccine's risks?

UPDATE:   Eight years ago, a similar trial of smallpox vaccine in children was proposed.  Professors Paul Offit and Robert M. Nelson of the University of Pennsylvania wrote a detailed analysis of why the proposed trial would not be conducted ethically (or legally) under federal regulations that still guide the conduct of human subject research. 

It was pointed out by Professor William Bicknell of Boston University that "THE CONSENT FORM (of the smallpox trial) NEVER STATES THE CHILD IS AT RISK OF DEATH OR SERIOUS DISABILITY FOR WHICH THERE IS NO KNOWN TREATMENT."  Presumably the same would be true of the consent form for anthrax vaccine, as there is no known way to reverse anthrax vaccine-related illnesses, and were the 1-2% risk of potential disability or death to be disclosed, there would be no willing subjects.

UPDATE:  Here is the letter Dr. Lurie sent to her National Defense Science Board asking for their help in getting the pediatric anthrax vaccine trial going (despite the fact it violates federal regulations, which she failed to mention).

UPDATE:  According to the May 26, 2011 Wall Street Journal:
"Emergent BioSolutions Inc.'s (EBS, $25.33, +$3.89, +18.14%) shares hit their highest point since 2009, as the company is expected to receive a five-year contract potentially worth more than $1 billion from the U.S. government for its anthrax vaccine BioThrax. The U.S. government surprised observers by sending a request for proposal seeking more anthrax vaccine. Because Emergent is the only registered Anthrax vaccine maker, it's essentially guaranteed the contract, Wedbush said. The firm, which values the pact at more than $1 billion based on the vaccine's price, said "five-year visibility into sales is exceptional in any business." Emergent said any contract will likely be finalized during the third quarter."
Apparently the contract is a done deal, as Bioport's rep in Congress, Mike Rogers (who authored the legislation creating BARDA in 2006) praised the decision to award Emergent the contract.http://bioprepwatch.com/news/248321-rep-mike-rogers-praises-biothrax-contract