By Joaquin Bustelo | Excerpt | January 10, 2010
The attempted blowing up of Delta Flight 253 shows extremely limited operational capacity by Al-Qaeda. Compared to the earlier actions like 9/11, the sending of a lone passenger, who bought his ticket with cash and traveled without luggage, and was unable to detonate the explosive he had, is quite feeble. It also seems to indicate that what is left of Al-Qaeda has either a monomaniacal fixation on aviation or no confidence in its own people being able to operate in the United States once they get off the plane.
But perhaps more revealing was the U.S. handling of this individual: a man who paid cash for his ticket and had no luggage –two circumstances that supposedly should set off alarm bells calling for extra screening– provoked no such response. Nor did his father’s turning him in as a potential terrorist weeks before the attack trigger any effective action. The ostensible reason –the “consular” (read: CIA) official in Nigeria who took the information misspelled the man’s name only shows the pervasive culture of incompetence that has settled over the country. Complemented with the complacency that allowed the designers of the terrorist and visa matching software to not even offer what Google does to the average internet user — a list of alternative spellings if there are no or few hits.
Worse was the response after the fact — no one allowed to go to the bathroom or handle in-cabin possessions in the last 90 minutes of international flights. The U.S. government INSISTS that planes be blown up, if at all, well ahead of their scheduled arrival. It’s a sensible measure that displays the modern version of hard-headed Yankee practicality: sparing people a fruitless trip to the airport and keeping grieving relatives out of TV camera viewfinders, which is the sort of thing that can drive a president’s popularity down in a hurry.
Further measures are in the works: a billion dollar’s worth of peep show scanners. Sure, there are all kinds of substances they wouldn’t pick up but hey, at least it reminds the public to be VERY SCARED and –or so it is hoped– that the government is trying to protect them. The machines are being configured so they DON’T store a record of each scan. This because even though the software has been written to produce a photographic negative of the nude body, storing the image of minors would still run afoul of child pornography laws.
And, of course, we have the designation of more than a dozen countries for heightened harassment of its citizens. How much “thought” went into this measure is shown by the inclusion of Cuba, simply because US propaganda puts the island on the list of state sponsors of terrorism, to justify the blockade, which fools absolutely no one, judging by the well-nigh unanimous yearly condemnations of the blockade by the UN General Assembly. But they wanted some sort of “objective” criteria for the
profiling, so they highlighted that it applied to people from “state sponsors of terrorism.” Yet then tying the “countries of interest” like Afghanistan and Nigeria to the terrorist one has only intensified the hornets nest of diplomatic complications for the state department, as US pet and puppet regimes say, in essence: “we’ve spent years brown-nosing and THIS is the thanks we get?”
As for the effectiveness of the measure, it can be mathematically PROVEN that this kind of targeted screening is even less effective than merely random screening. Ditto for “no fly” lists. The reason is that, assuming a certain minimum level of resources and resourcefulness on the part of the attackers, what is ACTUALLY being done is provide a road map to accessing the less-scrutinized passenger cue. If you have been barred from flying under a certain name with an Afghani passport, choose a different name with, say, Sri Lankan documents.
This means that the chances of detection are less than if the intensive screening resources were randomly distributed among all travelers.
This is largely what is known as “security theater,” alleged precautions that in reality afford little or no additional security, like the posting of national guard troops in airports right after September 11 — with the soldiers barred from carrying live ammo for their rifles.
By Lance Selfa | January 11, 2010
AS HEALTH care reform legislation in Congress limps to what National Nurses United President Rose Ann DeMoro called an “inglorious end,” it’s remarkable how few liberals feel enthusiastic about a bill that is supposed to represent a crowning achievement for them.
Aside from a few policy wonks, many (if not most) liberals feel that the health care legislation that will emerge from Senate and House negotiations is insufficient–and, in parts, harmful to ordinary people’s health care. The most ardent supporters of reform know that the likely “compromise” modeled on the more conservative Senate version of the bill will be a huge gift to the insurance industry. At the same time, they feel that Democrats have gotten far less than they could or should have, in large part because they didn’t even try.
What happened to all the brave announcements of “lines in the sand” and “standing up for real reform?” Over the summer, the House Progressive Caucus threatened to vote as a bloc against any legislation that didn’t include a “public option”–a publicly financed insurance system to compete with private insurers. Today, it’s almost certain that the final version of the bill will not include a public option.
So will the House progressives follow through on their threat to defeat the bill? Don’t count on it. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi might give a few progressive caucus members a “free vote” to oppose the bill if there’s enough of a cushion to pass it, but if progressives stand between passage of the bill and its defeat, don’t expect them to vote to defeat it.
What about Howard Dean, the former Democratic National Committee chair who made news in December when he took a very public stand against the bill that was about to pass the Senate. In a December 17 Washington Post op-ed article, Dean wrote:
Any measure that expands private insurers’ monopoly over health care and transfers millions of taxpayer dollars to private corporations is not real health-care reform…Few Americans will see any benefit until 2014, by which time premiums are likely to have doubled. In short, the winners in this bill are insurance companies; the American taxpayer is about to be fleeced with a bailout in a situation that dwarfs even what happened at AIG.
Dean was right on target with that criticism. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs even attacked him for it during a press briefing.
Yet of late, Dean has become a lot less vocal and a lot more accepting of the legislation as it stands. As he told Meet the Press on December 20: “I would let this bill go to conference committee and see if we can fix this bill more…Let’s see what they add to this bill and make it work. If they can make it work without a public option, I’m all ears.”
According to Newsweek reporter Suzy Khimm, Dean’s somersault resulted from back-channel contact with the White House and the realization that the Senate bill was going to pass. As Khimm explained:
While he attempted last week to use the failure of the public option as a new point of leverage, Dean only succeeded in alienating himself from the key players in the debate (and the flip-flops that riddled his other criticisms of the bill didn’t help his credibility). In the end, Dean wants to be at the negotiating table–not cast outside it–and he probably decided to adjust accordingly.
Then there are the elected representatives who have been on record for years as favoring a single-payer health care system eliminating the role of private health insurers. For them, even the prospect of a “public option” represented a retreat from their longstanding public positions. Surely they would hold up the banner of genuine health care reform, right?
Not really. In fact, they proved more adept at talking about real reform than actually voting for it.
Take Rep. Anthony Weiner, the telegenic New York congress member who made the rounds of television talk shows throughout the fall, bashing the insurance industry and calling for genuine health reform. During the House debate on its bill, Weiner extracted a promise from Pelosi that his amendment supporting a single-payer system would receive an “up-or-down” vote.
As the October deadline for the vote drew near, Pelosi–reportedly with White House encouragement–began wiggling out of the deal. Single-payer advocates mobilized to hold Pelosi to her promise, but Weiner withdrew his amendment. Single-payer advocates Reps. John Conyers (D-Mich.) and Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) issued a letter supporting the climbdown. It read, in part:
Many progressives in Congress, ourselves included, feel that calling for a vote tomorrow for single-payer would be tantamount to driving the movement over a cliff…We are now asking you to join us in suggesting to congressional leaders that this is not the right time to call the roll on a stand-alone single-payer bill. That time will come.
Pelosi’s cover story was that allowing Weiner’s amendment would open the floodgates to other amendments, like those banning abortion. So what happened? Weiner withdrew his amendment, and Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) introduced his, banning coverage for abortion. The bill, with the Stupak amendment included, passed the House.
Of all the House progressives, only Kucinich and Rep. Eric Massa of New York voted against it. Though Kucinich did the right thing in voting against the House bill, his and Conyers’ letter had already given other progressives justification in voting for it.
Another articulate critic of pro-corporate health insurance reform–and a regular on liberal shows like MSNBC’s Countdown with Keith Olbermann and The Rachel Maddow Show–Vermont’s independent Sen. Bernie Sanders, got further than Weiner. He actually introduced his single-payer amendment to the Senate and, under Republican pressure, spent six hours on the Senate floor, reading it line-by-line.
Senate leaders, worried that Sanders’ amendment was delaying the vote they needed to move the bill forward, pressured him to stand down. He did, after receiving a pledge that $10 billion would be invested in community health centers. Sanders’ office later issued a press release saying the provision will “revolutionize” health care. Sanders’ was one of the 60 votes that moved the Senate bill along.
So as Congress, in closed-door negotiations, moves toward a final vote on health care reform, liberals are preparing themselves to accept a pro-corporate health care bill that is unlikely to fix more than a few of the problems associated with the current dysfunctional system.
The chorus of liberal opinion selling this rotten compromise to the most committed supporters of health care reform will grow louder. We will hear all of the claptrap that always gets hauled out in these situations: “We can’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good,” “We can improve the bill in the future,” “If the Republicans hate this bill, there must be something good about it,” and “If this bill goes down to defeat, it will embolden the right, and chances for any other reforms will be finished.”
As always, the liberals will play the loyal soldiers for an administration that has shown it is much more interested in winning the support of industry “stakeholders” and conservatives like Sens. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) than in fighting for any genuine health reform.
Even the prospect of the oft-cited positive effects of the bill–30 million uninsured Americans covered, a ban on the insurance industry policy of “rescission” (dropping coverage for sick people on technicalities) and denial of insurance to those with “pre-existing conditions”–may turn out to be mirages.
The liberals who are now convincing themselves that these are reasons to vote for the bill may find out that most Americans won’t consider forcing people to buy private insurance as “universal coverage.” And they may also find out that loopholes in the bill allowing insurers to jack up prices to unaffordable levels will neuter the other tough-sounding insurance reforms. If the Senate plan to tax “Cadillac” health care plans remains in the bill–as Obama prefers that it does–substantial numbers of Americans are going to see a cut in their current health care benefits.
Unfortunately, that may be where we end up because of liberalism’s hard-wired propensity always to accept “half a loaf” without even trying to fight for the whole loaf. In an insightful commentary focused predominantly on liberalism’s putative leader, President Obama, Huffington Post contributor Drew Westen put his finger on this point:
I don’t honestly know what this president believes. But I believe if he doesn’t figure it out soon, start enunciating it, and start fighting for it, he’s not only going to give American families hungry for security a series of half-loaves where they could have had full ones, but he’s going to set back the Democratic Party and the progressive movement by decades, because the average American is coming to believe that what they’re seeing right now is “liberalism,” and they don’t like what they see.
Thanks to Helen Redmond for information on the role of Reps. Kucinich, Conyers and Weiner.
Waxman abandons America in his blind support for Israeli racism
By Linda Milazzo | LA Progressive | January 11, 2010
At the behest of his congressional ally, Jane Harman (CA-36), Democratic Congressman Henry Waxman (CA-30) has launched a mean-spirited ideological assault on Harman’s Democratic primary challenger, Marcy Winograd, that is garnering disfavor for Waxman and Harman amongst Democratic voters.
In a move characterized by one Harman constituent as desperate, Waxman sent the following letter to Harman’s Jewish supporters, attacking and misquoting Winograd’s position on the issue of Israel/Palestine. Here is the text of Waxman’s letter, distributed on his letterhead:
FROM THE DESK OF CONGRESSMAN HENRY A. WAXMAN
Recently, I came across an astounding speech by Marcy Winograd, who is running against our friend Jane Harman in her primary re-election to Congress. Ms. Winograd’s views on Israel I find repugnant in the extreme. And that is why I wanted to write you.
What has prompted my urgent concern is a speech Ms. Winograd gave, entitled, “Call For One State,” at the All Saints Church in Pasadena last year. The complete text is attached, but in it she says:
– “I think it is too late for a two-state solution. Israel has made it all but impossible for two states to exist.”
– “Not only do I think a two-state solution is unrealistic, but also fundamentally wrong…”
– “As a citizen of the United States, I do not want my tax dollars to support institutionalized racism. As a Jew, I do not want my name associated with occupation or extermination.”
– “Let us declare a one-state solution.”
To me, the notion that a Member of Congress could hold these views is alarming. Ms. Winograd is far, far outside the bipartisan mainstream of views that has long insisted that US policy be based upon rock-solid support for our only democratic ally in the Middle East.
In Marcy Winograd’s foreign policy, Israel would cease to exist. In Marcy Winograd’s vision, Jews would be at the mercy of those who do not respect democracy or human rights. These are not trivial issues; they cannot be ignored or overlooked. Jane’s victory will represent a clear repudiation of these views.
In addition to Jane Harman’s expertise and leadership on national security, intelligence and foreign policy, she is my ally on the Energy and Commerce Committee and our fights for health care reform, energy independence and curbing global warming. Jane’s staunch leadership and commitment to Israel are internationally recognized.
I ask you to join me in showing maximum political support for Jane. I have already done so through my federal campaign and PAC.
Henry A. Waxman
Not printed at taxpayer expense
Paid for by Friends of Jane Harman
I contacted Waxman’s office to ask who the intended recipients of the letters were, who supplied the recipient list, and why the letter wasn’t dated. The Congressman’s representative, David Sadkin, responded with the following:
Rep. Waxman has endorsed Jane Harman for her re-election, and wrote the letter of support for use in her campaign. The letter was prompted by a speech given by Ms. Winograd entitled “A Call for One State.” A copy of that speech is attached.
The letter was originally distributed in November 2009, though Mr. Waxman chose to leave it undated so that the Harman campaign would have the option to use it again at a later date.
The letter was sent both electronically and by mail, and was sent primarily to friends and supporters in the Jewish community. The recipient list was developed by the Harman campaign.
Unlike the substantial Jewish population in Waxman’s affluent 30th Congressional District whom he relies on for financial support, the Jewish population in Harman’s 36th Congressional District is significantly smaller. Issues concerning Israel don’t regularly affect the day to day lives of the majority of its residents who care mostly about jobs, healthcare and housing. 18.3% of the under 65 population of the 36th CD have no health insurance. Over 7,500 home foreclosures took place in 2009 and another 25,000 foreclosures are anticipated over the next four years.
Though Harman stresses Israel as more relevant to her reelection, Winograd bases her election on a platform of policies on issues most relevant to her constituents, which she outlines on her website.
That Waxman and Harman stress Harman’s devotion to Israel as the primary catalyst for Harman’s reelection is illuminating, and underscores to what extent their legislative focus is defined more by the welfare of Israel and Israelis and less by the welfare of America and Americans.
One Jewish resident of the 36th, Frances W. Wells, was so incensed by Waxman’s Israel-based assault on Winograd, that she confronted him in person at his recent Women’s Club speaking engagement in Pacific Palisades.
In that exchange, Wells, who is in her 90s, and who vividly recalls the era of World War II and the pivotal events in the formation of Israel, asked Waxman, a self-described progressive, why he supported blue-dog conservative Harman over Winograd with whom he should share more common ground. Here’s their exchange summed up by Wells:
Wells: You’re supporting Jane Harman instead of Marcy Winograd?
Waxman: Jane’s on important committees.
Wells: Yes, but she never votes the way I want her to.
Waxman: Marcy’s for a one-state solution for Israel.
Waxman then walked away, leaving Wells even further incensed.
Another resident of the 36th, Lillian Laskin, an affiliated Jew [belonging to a synagogue] who lives in the community of Mar Vista, was similarly angered by the Waxman/Harman letter. In an interview Laskin told me, “Harman had Waxman send this letter because she’s desperate Winograd will give her a strong challenge.” Laskin went on to say, “I’m a constituent in the 36th and Israel is a separate issue that shouldn’t be the driving factor in determining our leadership in the district. We need leadership that focuses on the needs of the people – like jobs.”
With his hyperbolic letter, Henry Waxman has stepped into a firestorm of controversy that includes criticism from Harman’s constituents, his own constituents, the blogosphere, and prominent members of the Jewish community. Although Waxman doesn’t face a strong challenge this November, many of his constituents believe this ideologically based letter goes way too far; dwelling too much on Israel and too little on America.
By Adam Horowitz | January 12, 2010
Protest against Olmert speech in Chicago, October, 2009. (Photo:Tom Tian)
A few months ago we followed a series of protests that followed Ehud Olmert across the country as he tried to rehabilitate his image on a US speaking tour. He is still at it, and the protests continue to follow. This Thursday, Olmert will speak at Union College in Schenectady, NY and a coalition of local organizations are planning a protest.
In addition, Union faculty have opposed the decision to host Olmert and are circulating the following statement:
A Position Statement from Members of the Union College Community:
Whereas, Union’s Strategic Plan calls for graduating students who are “engaged, innovative, and ethical contributors to an increasingly diverse, global, and technologically complex society;” and
Whereas, former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has been indicted on serious corruption charges in his own country, has been officially implicated by the United Nations in war crimes and crimes against humanity in Gaza, and has also been implicated in the suppression of dissent:
We, the undersigned, hold that the administration’s decision to allow the Speaker’s Forum to invite Mr. Olmert was mistaken and contradicts the values and ethics of Union College. We reject the argument that Mr. Olmert’s visit is simply that of a “controversial” individual. We reject the logic that validates such a position, and hold it to be irrational and inconsistent with the intellectual climate we hope to create. Mr. Olmert’s appearance at Union does not contribute to the free exchange of ideas. On the contrary, closed to the general public, under the pall of heavy security, and with questions vetted by moderators, this event seems to limit and stifle opposing viewpoints a set of conditions inconsistent with our tradition of academic freedom. Furthermore, we deplore the significant negative impact this event will have on Union’s academic reputation on the local, national, and international levels. We go on record strongly against this decision to invite Mr. Olmert to speak at Union College, and urge that the event be cancelled.
Anyone wishing to sign this statement is invited to contact any of us listed below to be added to the list of supporters. We are compelled by our consciences to circulate this position statement within the Union College community and beyond.
Inquiry into the Role of Big Pharma and WHO by Council of Europe
Bruno Odent| Global Research | January 12, 2010
New Development: The German President of the Health Committee of the Council of Europe, Wolfgang Wodarg, is issuing accusations against the pharmaceutical lobbies and the governments. He has intitiated the start of an investigation by that body concerning the role played by the pharmaceutical in the campaign of panic about the virus.
Ex-member of the SPD, Wolfgang Wodarg is a doctor and epidemiologist. His request for a commission of inquiry into the role of pharmaceutical companies in the management of swine flu outbreak by WHO and the nation states was granted unanimously by the members of the Health Committee of the Council of Europe…
What made you suspicious about the influence of pharmaceutical companies had on the decisions being taken in respect of swine flu?
Wolfgang Wodarg. We are facing a major failure of national institutions responsible for warning about risks and responding in case a pandemic occurs. In April when the first alarm came from Mexico I was very surprised at the figures furnished by the World Health Organization (WHO) to justify the declaration of a pandemic. I was immediately suspicious: the numbers were very low and the alarm level very high. They were not even into a thousand patients when there was already talk of the pandemic of the century. And the alert was decreed extreme based on the fact that the virus was new. But the characteristic of influenza disease is to develop very quickly with viruses which take on new forms each time, by dwelling in new hosts, animal, human etc.
There was nothing new in itself to that. Each year a new virus of this “flu” type appears. In reality there was no reason to sound the alarm at this level. This was only possible because in early May the WHO changed its definition of a pandemic. Before that date there had to be not only a disease which had broke out in several countries at once but also one that had very serious consequences with the number of deaths above the usual average. This aspect was removed from the new definition, to retain the rate of spread of disease as the only criteria. And they claimed that the virus was dangerous because people had not been able to develop immunity against it. Which was false for this virus. Because it was observed that people aged over 60 years already had antibodies. That is to say they had already been in contact with similar viruses. That is why also there are virtually no people aged over 60 who have developed the disease. Yet those were the people who were recommended to be vaccinated quickly.
Among the things that aroused my suspicions there was therefore on one side this determination to sound the alarm. And on the other side, some curious facts. Such as, for example, the recommendation by WHO to carry out two injections for vaccines. That had never been done before. There was no scientific justification for this. There was also the recommendation to use only special patented vaccines. There was however no reason for not adding, as it is done every year, specific antiviral particles of this new H1N1 virus, “completing” the vaccine used for seasonal influenza. This was not done because they preferred to use patented vaccine materials that major laboratories had designed and manufactured to be ready in case of a pandemic developing. And by proceeding in this way they did not hesitate to endanger the persons vaccinated.
Wolfgang Wodarg. To provide products rapidly, adjuvants were used in some vaccines, whose effects have not been adequately tested. In other words, they wanted absolutely to use these new patented products instead of developing vaccines according to traditional methods of production which are much simpler, more reliable and less costly. There was no medical reason for this. It was only for marketing purposes.
How could anyone justify that?
Wolfgang Wodarg. To understand we must return to the episode of avian influenza from 2005 to 2006. It was then that new international plans were defined for dealing with a pandemic alarm. These plans were officially developed to ensure rapid manufacturing of vaccines in case of an alert. This led to negotiations between pharmaceutical companies and governments. On the one hand the labs committed themselves to keep ready to develop the preparations, on the other hand, states assured them they would buy them all. After this strange deal the pharmaceutical industry took no economic risk by engaging in new fabrications. And it was sure to touch the jack pot in the case of a pandemic outbreak.
Do you disagree with the diagnoses and even the potential severity of influenza A?
Wolfgang Wodarg. Yes, it’s just a normal kind of flu. It does not cause a tenth of deaths caused by the classic seasonal flu. All that mattered and that led to the great campaign of panic which we have seen was that it was a golden opportunity for representatives from labs who knew they would hit the jackpot in the case of a pandemic being declared.
Those are very serious accusations you’re making. How was such a process made possible within the WHO?
Wolfgang Wodarg. A group of people in the WHO is associated very closely with the pharmaceutical industry.
Will the investigation by the Council of Europe also work in this direction?
Wolfgang Wodarg. We want to clarify everything that brought about this massive operation of disinformation. We want to know who made decisions, on the basis of what evidence and precisely how the influence of the pharmaceutical industry came to bear on the decision-making. And the time has come at last for us to make demands on governments. The purpose of the inquiry is so that there are no more false alarms of this type in the future. So that the people may rely on the analysis and the expertise of national and international public institutions. The latter are now discredited, because millions of people have been vaccinated with products with inherent possible health risks. This was not necessary. It has also led to a considerable mismanagement of public money.
Do you have any concrete figures on the extent of this mismanagement?
Wolfgang Wodarg. In Germany it comes to 700 million euros. But it is very difficult to know the exact figures because we are talking on one side about vaccines resold to foreign countries and most firms do not communicate due to the principle of respect for “business secret” regarding the amounts in contracts concluded with States and any indemnification clauses contained therein.
Will the work of “lobbying” by pharma companies on the National Institutes of Health also be dealt with by the investigation of the Council of Europe?
Wolfgang Wodarg. Yes we will examine the attitude of institutions like the Robert Koch Institute in Germany or Pasteur in France who should in fact have advised their governments from a critical standpoint. In some countries certain institutions have done so. In Finland and Poland, for example, critical voices were raised to say: “we do not need that.
Has the tremendous global operation of disinformation also been possible because the pharmaceutical industry had “representatives” even within the governments of the most powerful countries?
Wolfgang Wodarg. As regards the ministries, that seems to me to be obvious. I can not explain how specialists, very smart people who know the problems of the influenza disease by heart, did not notice what was happening.
So what happened?
Wolfgang Wodarg. Without going as far as saying direct corruption, which I am certain does exist, there were many ways for labs to exercise their influence over decisions. A very concrete example, is how Klaus Stöhr, who was the head of the epidemiological department of the WHO at the time of bird flu, and who therefore prepared the plans to cope with a pandemic that I mentioned above, in the meantime had become a top executive of the company Novartis. And similar links between Glaxo and Baxter, etc. and influential members of the WHO. These large firms have “their people” in the cogs and then they pull strings so that the right policy decisions are taken. That is to say, the ones that will allow them to pump as much money from taxpayers.
But if your survey succeeds, will it not be a support for citizens to insist their governments demand accountability from these large groups?
Wolfgang Wodarg. Yes, you’re right, this is one of the major issues related to this investigation. States could indeed take advantage of this to contest contracts drawn up in, let us say, improper conditions. If it can be shown that it was under the influence of firms that the process was initiated then they will have to be push to ask for reimbursement. But that’s just the financial side, there is also the human side, persons who were vaccinated with products that were inadequately tested.
So what kind of risk have these healthy people unknowingly taken by getting vaccinated?
Wolfgang Wodarg. Again, the vaccines were developed too quickly, some adjuvants were insufficiently tested. But there is worse to come. The vaccine developed by Novartis was produced in a bioreactor from cancerous cells. A technique that had never been used until now.
Why, I’m obviously not an expert, but how can one claim to make a vaccine from diseased cells?
Wolfgang Wodarg. Normally one uses chicken eggs on which viruses are grown. We need in fact to work on living cells. Because viruses can only multiply in this way and so do, by definition, the virus preparations that go with it. But this process has a big flaw, it is slow and it takes a lot of eggs. And it is long and complex technically. Another potentially excellent technique is to grow the virus in living cells in bioreactors. This requires cells which grow and divide very quickly. It’s a bit like the method used to culture yogurt, which is also produced in a bio-reactor. but in this context the cell was so upset in its environment and its growth that it grows like a cancer cell. And it is on these rapidly multiplying cells that they grow the virus. But to manufacture the vaccine the virus must be re-extracted from these cells on which they were implanted. And it can therefore happen that during the manufacturing process of the vaccine, residue of cancerous cells remain in the preparation. In the same way as it happens in conventional manufacturing with eggs. Thus we know that in the case of a classic influenza vaccination, side effects can occur in people who are allergic to egg albumin found in egg white. It can not be excluded that proteins, remains of a cancer cell present in a vaccine produced by bio-reactor, may generate a tumour on the person vaccinated. According to a true principle of precaution, before such a product is allowed on the market, there should therefore be 100% certainty that such effects are actually excluded.
And wasn’t this done?
Wolfgang Wodarg. It was not. The EMEA (European Medicines Agency), an institution under the responsibility of the European Commissioner for Economic Affairs, based in London, which gives permission to release vaccines on the market in Europe, gave the green light for commercializing this product arguing, namely, that this mode of manufacture was not a “significant” risk. This was very differently appreciated by many experts here in Germany and by an independent drug institution, which instead sounded the alert and voiced their objections. I took these warnings seriously. I studied the case and intervened in the context of the Bundestag health committee of which I was a member so that the vaccine would not be used in Germany. I made it known that I was certainly not opposed to the development of vaccines with this technique. But first it had to have a total guarantee of innocuousness. The product has therefore not been used in Germany where the government terminated the contract with Novartis.
What is the name of this vaccine?
Wolfgang Wodarg. Obta flu.
But that means that in other European countries like France the product can be marketed without any problem?
Wolfgang Wodarg. Yes, it obtained permission from EMEA and can be used anywhere in the EU.
What alternative do you intend to propose so that further scandals of this type are avoided?
Wolfgang Wodarg. The WHO should be more transparent, so we know clearly who decides and what type of relationship exists between participants in the organization. It should also be flanked by at least one elected chamber, which should be able to react very critically and where everyone can express themselves. This enhanced public scrutiny is essential.
Isn’t the question of another system capable of handling a matter which is in fact a common good for citizens across the planet coming to the surface?
Wolfgang Wodarg. Can we go on allowing the production of vaccines and the conduct of these productions to organizations whose goal is to win as much money as possible? Or is the production of vaccines not something that States must absolutely monitor and implement themselves? That’s why I think we should abandon the system of patents on vaccines. That is to say, the possibility of monopolization of vaccine production by a large group. For this option requires that we sacrifice thousands of lives, simply in the name of respect for these monopoly rights. You’re right, that particular claim has become evident for me.
Interview by Bruno Odent translated into English by Carolyn Dunning.
To read the original article in French click here
Council of Europe’s motion for a recommendation: Faked Pandemics — a threat for health
Why Biomass Wood Energy is Not the Answer
By George Wuerthner | January 12, 2010
After the Smurfit-Stone Container Corp.’s linerboard plant in Missoula Montana announced that it was closing permanently, there have been many people including Montana Governor Switzer, Missoula mayor and Senator Jon Tester, among others who advocate turning the mill into a biomass energy plant. Northwestern Energy, a company which has expressed interest in using the plant for energy production has already indicated that it would expect more wood from national forests to make the plant economically viable.
The Smurfit Stone conversion to biomass is not alone. There have been a spate of new proposals for new wood burning biomass energy plants sprouting across the country like mushrooms after a rain. Currently there are plans and/or proposals for new biomass power plants in Maine, Vermont, Pennsylvania, Florida, California, Idaho, Oregon and elsewhere. In every instance, these plants are being promoted as “green” technology.
Part of the reason for this “boom” is that taxpayers are providing substantial financial incentives, including tax breaks, government grants, and loan guarantees. The rationale for these taxpayer subsidies is the presumption that biomass is “green” energy. But like other “quick fixes” there has been very little serious scrutiny of real costs and environmental impacts of biomass. Whether commercial biomass is a viable alternative to traditional fossil fuels can be questioned.
Before I get into this discussion, I want to state right up front, that coal and other fossil fuels that now provide much of our electrical energy need to be reduced and effectively replaced. But biomass energy is not the way to accomplish this end goal.
BIOMASS BURNING IS POLLUTION
First and foremost, biomass burning isn’t green. Burning wood produces huge amounts of pollution. Especially in valleys like Missoula where temperature inversions are common, pollution from a biomass burner will be the source of numerous health ailments. Because of the air pollution and human health concerns, the Oregon Chapter of the American Lung Association, the Massachusetts Medical Society and the Florida Medical Association, have all established policies opposing large-scale biomass plants.
The reason for this medical concern is that even with the best pollution control devises, biomass energy is extremely dirty. For instance, one of the biggest biomass burners now in operation, the McNeil biomass plant in Burlington, Vermont is the number one pollution source in the state, emitting 79 classified pollutants. Biomass releases dioxins, and as much particulates as coal burning, plus carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide, and contributes to ozone formation. […]
BIOMASS ENERGY IS INEFFICIENT
Wood is not nearly as concentrated a heat source as coal, gas, oil, or any other fossil fuel. Most biomass energy operations are only able to capture 20-25% of the latent energy by burning wood. That means one needs to gather and burn more wood to get the same energy value as a more concentrated fuel like coal. That is not to suggest that coal is a good alternative, rather wood is a worse alternative. Especially when you consider the energy used to gather the rather dispersed source of wood and the energy costs of trucking it to a central energy plant. If the entire carbon footprint of wood is considered, biomass creates far more CO2 with far less energy output than other energy sources.
The McNeil Biomass Plant in Burlington Vermont seldom runs full time because wood, even with all the subsidies (and Vermonters made huge and repeated subsidies to the plant—not counting the “hidden subsidies” like air pollution) wood energy can’t compete with other energy sources, even in the Northeast where energy costs are among the highest in the nation. Even though the plant was also retrofitted so it could burn natural gas to increase its competitiveness with other energy sources, the plant still does not operate competitively. It generally is only used to off- set peak energy loads.
One could argue, of course, that other energy sources like coal are greatly subsidized as well, especially if all environmental costs were considered. But at the very least, all energy sources must be “standardized” so that consumers can make informed decisions about energy—and biomass energy appears to be no more green than other energy sources.
The dispersed nature of wood as a fuel source combined with its low energy value means any sizable energy plant must burn a lot of wood. For instance, the McNeil 50 megawatt biomass plant in Burlington, Vermont would require roughly 32,500 acres of forest each year if running at near full capacity and entirely on wood. Wood for the McNeil Plant is trucked and even shipped on trains from as far away as Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Quebec and Maine.
Biomass proponents often suggest that wood [gathered] as a consequence of forest thinning to improve “forest health” (logging a forest to improve health of a forest ecosystem is an oxymoron) will provide the fuel for plant operations. For instance, one of the assumptions of Senator Tester’s Montana Forest Jobs bill is that thinned forests will provide a ready source of biomass for energy production. But in many cases, there are limits on the economic viability of trucking wood any distance to a central energy plant. Again without huge subsidies, this simply does not make economic sense. Biomass forest harvesting is even worse for forest ecosystems than clear-cutting. Biomass energy tends to utilize the entire tree, including the bole, crown, and branches. This robs a forest of nutrients, and disrupts energy cycles.
Worse yet, such biomass removal ignores the important role of dead trees to sustain the forest ecosystems. Dead trees are not a “wasted” resource. They provide home and food for thousands of species, including 45% of all bird species in the Nation. Dead trees that fall to the ground are used by insects, small mammals, amphibians and reptiles for shelter and even potentially food. Dead trees that fall into streams are important physical components of aquatic ecosystems and provide critical habitat for many fish and other aquatic species. Removal of dead wood is mining the forest. Keep in mind that logging activities are not benign. Logging typically requires some kind of access, often roads which are a major source of sedimentation in streams, and disrupt natural subsurface water flow. Logging can disturb sensitive wildlife like grizzly bear and even elk are known to abandon locations with active logging. Logging can spread weeds. And finally since large amounts of forest carbon are actually tied up in the soils, soil disturbance from logging is especially damaging, often releasing substantial additional amounts of carbon over and above what is released up a smoke stack.
BIOMASS ENERGY USES LARGE AMOUNTS OF WATER
A large-scale biomass plant (50 MW) uses close to a million gallons of water a day for cooling. Most of that water is lost from the watershed since approximately 85% is lost as steam. Water channeled back into a river or stream typically has a pollution cost as well, including higher water temperatures that negatively impact fisheries, especially trout. Since cooling need is greatest in warm weather, removal of water from rivers occurs just when flows are lowest, and fish are most susceptible to temperature stress.
BIOMASS ENERGY SAPS FUNDS FROM OTHER TRULY GREEN ENERGY SOURCES LIKE SOLAR
Since biomass energy is eligible for state renewable portfolio standards (RPS), it has captured the bulk of funding intended to move the country away from fossil fuels. For example, in Vermont, 90% of the RPS is from “smokestack” sources—mostly biomass incineration. This pattern holds throughout many other parts of the country. Biomass energy is thus burning up funds that could and should be going into other energy programs like energy conservation, solar and insulation of buildings.
PUBLIC FORESTS WILL BE LOGGED FOR BIOMASS ENERGY
Many of the climate bills now circulating in Congress, as well as Montana Senator Jon Tester’s Montana Jobs and Wilderness bill target public forests. Some of these proposals even include roadless lands and proposed wilderness as a source for wood biomass. One federal study suggests that 368 million tons of wood could be removed from our national forests every year—of course this study did not include the ecological costs that physical removal of this much would have on forest ecosystems.
The Biomass Crop Assistance Program, or BCAP, which was quietly put into the 2008 farm bill has so far given away more than a half billion dollars in a matching payment program for businesses that cut and collect biomass from national forests and Bureau of Land Management lands. And according to a recent Washington Post story, the Obama administration has already sent $23 million to biomass energy companies, and is poised to send another half billion.
And it is not only federal forests that are in jeopardy. Many states are eying their own state forests for biomass energy. For instance, Maine recently unveiled a new plan known as the Great Maine Forest Initiative which will pay timber companies to grow trees for biomass energy.
Ironically one of the main justifications for biomass energy is the creation of jobs, yet the wood biomass rush is having unintended consequences for other forest products industries. Companies that rely upon surplus wood chips to produce fiberboard, cabinet makers, and furniture are scrambling to find wood fiber for their products. Considering that these industries are secondary producers of products, the biomass rush could threaten more jobs than it may create.
Large scale wood biomass energy is neither green, nor truly economical. It is also not ecologically sustainable and jeopardizes our forest ecosystems. It is a distraction that funnels funds and attention away from other more truly worthwhile energy options, in particular, the need for a massive energy conservation program, and changes in our lifestyles that will in the end provide truly green alternatives to coal and other fossil fuels.
George Wuerthner is a wildlife biologist and a former Montana hunting guide. His latest book is Plundering Appalachia.
- Massachusetts Restricts Dirty Biopower (switchboard.nrdc.org)
- Forest Owners Tell EPA to Avoid Pitfalls in Biomass Review (prweb.com)
- Greens warn biomass plan could reduce food supplies (morningstaronline.co.uk)
- Biggest English Polluter Spends $1 Billion to Burn Wood (bloomberg.com)
- California Proposes Forest Thinning for Biomass Energy, But is it a Good Idea? (kcet.org)
January 11, 2010 22:34 | By Saed Bannoura | IMEMC News
The Israeli Army invaded on Monday at night the center of the West Bank city of Ramallah, and kidnapped a Czech citizen, identified as Eva Nováková, who started her activities as the media coordinator of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) three weeks ago.
The ISM reported that Israeli forces broke into the home of Nováková in Al Manara Square and kidnapped her. The raid was carried out by the Israeli army and members of the OZ Immigration Police.
Soldiers occupied rooftops of nearby buildings and kidnapped Nováková before taking her to the Givon detention center in preparation to deport her to the Czech Republic.
Her attorney, Omar Shatz, said that the Israeli attack was carried out in a city that is under Palestinian control, and added that Israel and its army have no jurisdiction in Ramallah.
He said that the Israeli immigration police are acting illegally by arresting activists for political purposes.
The ISM reported that this invasion follows an extensive arrest wave targeting grassroots activists and oragnizers throughout the West Bank.
Such raids have been conducted in the villages of Bil’in – where 32 residents have been arrested in the past six month, Ni’ilin – where 94 residents have been arrested in the past 18 months, the cities of Nablus and Ramallah and East Jerusalem. The past three weeks have seen raids on ex-ISM bases in both Bil’in and Ni’lin, near Ramallah.
Among those arrested in this recent campaign are five members of the Bil’in Popular Committee have been arrested in suspicion of incitement, including Adeeb Abu Rahmah, who has already been held in detention for almost six months and Bil’in’s Popular Committee coordinator, Abdallah Abu Rahmah, the ISM added.
Israel continues to hold captive dozens of grassroots activists from several Palestinian areas, especially in Ramallah, Nablus and Jayyous. Some of the prominent activists held by Israel are Wael Al Faqeeh from Nablus, Jamal Juma’ from East Jerusalem, Mohammad Othman from Jayyous and member of the Stop The Wall NGO which is involved in nonviolent resistance against the Wall and divestment from Israel.
No charges were brought against the detained activists as they are being held captive under a so-called ‘secret file’. Israel does not show this ‘secret file’ even to the lawyers of the detainees.
by Free Gaza Team | 11 January 2010
This spring, the Free Gaza Movement is sending at least six boats to Gaza to break Israel’s illegal blockade on 1.5 million Palestinians. This blockade constitutes an act of collective punishment, a crime prohibited under international humanitarian law. Gaza’s man-made and internationally perpetuated crisis is set to deepen as Egypt builds an Iron wall 30 meters deep on the southern Rafah border, closing off the final route for Palestinians to get basic supplies.
The urgency of breaking the blockade grows by the day, as Palestinians living in this prison are denied their most basic rights.
Our mission will include two boats committed by a Turkish NGO plus a cargo ship purchased with donations from the Malaysian people. This ship will be loaded with cement, water filtration systems and paper – all essential reconstruction materials denied entry to Gaza by Israel.
Free Gaza’s missions were the first to challenge Israel’s hermetic closing of Gaza when we sailed two small boats into Gaza in August 2008. We did not ask permission of Israel or Egypt to travel to Gaza and sailed directly from international waters into the waters of Gaza. Since then, we have been the catalyst for a growing international movement of civilian advocates, including the Gaza Freedom March and Viva Palestina.
Of course we will face Israel’s illegal naval blockade. But we have broken through it before and we will do it again. We are writing to ask you to make sure the mission is funded and publicized.
We sailed four more successful missions to Gaza since August 2008, and we intend to come back this year with a small flotilla, so you still have time to get boats and come with us. We are calling on all NGOs, human rights organizations and communities around the world to join us. If you already have funding for boats, we can provide the logistical and technical advice on how get them ready to join the flotilla. If you want to help in other ways, we have listed five below.
- Fundraise for this trip. Consider organizing a big or small fundraiser in your community. We already have people available to speak at your events. http://www.freegaza.org/speakers. Friends returning from the Gaza Freedom March, or the Viva Palestina convoy can be especially helpful by turning report backs into fundraisers.
- Get your community involved and turn this flotilla into a global effort. Our boats will carry building supplies and school supplies, both banned by Israeli authorities. Contribute by donating paper, ink or books for our Right to Read campaign: http://www.freegaza.org/right-to-read. If you can donate reconstruction supplies, please contact us. Get your children and their schools involved by having them write letters to children in Gaza that we will carry on our boats and deliver.
- Publicize the trip. Once we have announced the date, help us get the message out to the media and to your elected officials to assure the passengers and boats will sail safely.
- Ask your Member of Parliament/Congress to come with us. We already have MPs from South America, South Africa, Malaysia, Turkey and Europe who are going. If you have contacts with other high profile people, please let us know.
- Volunteer as land crew, media or support crew in your countries.
To help, organize a fundraiser, suggest passengers and offer support, please email us at email@example.com, and we will follow up immediately. We have only two to three months to finish organizing, raise the additional funds, and to set sail.
Join us as we sail together to Gaza this spring!
January 12, 2010 | By Nathan Stokes – IMEMC News & Agencies
A Palestinian man was subjected to a strip search today at the military checkpoint of Reikhan Barta’a, near Jenin in the North of the West Bank, before having his vehicle detonated by border police.
Ma’an News Agency have reported that the car lurched toward the checkpoint, arousing suspicions, and that after being stopped the driver, Mohammed Abu Jazar, was strip searched in front of a crowd of onlookers before being arrested. Following the arrest, his car was detonated.
Witnesses working close to the checkpoint stated that the vehicle was fired upon by Israeli military before coming to a halt.
Live from Palestine, 11 January 2010
The Electronic Intifada contributor Jody McIntyre recently interviewed Palestinian activist Rani Bornat about his life after being shot by the Israeli army.
Rani Bornat: My name is Rani Abdelfatah Ibrahim Bornat, and I’m 29 years old. I’m from the village of Bilin, west of Ramallah. I was shot in the throat on the first day of the second intifada.
Jody McIntyre: How was your life before you were injured?
RB: Before it happened, my life was like any other young person. I used to study, go horse riding, herd my goats, ride donkeys … do all the things farmers do. My dream was to finish school, but I was deprived of it. I was to become an electronic engineer, and I was also deprived of that. God willing, I will be able to help my children study to become engineers instead.
It was while I was waiting to hear back from universities about continuing my studies, when the al-Aqsa intifada broke out in Palestine …
JM: Tell me about how you were injured.
RB: It was Saturday, 30 September 2000, the first day of the uprising. We marched to one of the checkpoints near Ramallah to protest against Sharon’s entering of the al-Aqsa mosque. It was a nonviolent demonstration, like the ones here in Bilin, with people chanting and holding up posters. But the soldiers didn’t respond with tear gas or rubber bullets, only live ammunition, because it was their aim to kill as many Palestinians as possible.
I wasn’t shot with a normal bullet, but a special “butterfly” bullet, so-called because of the way it spins as it flies through the air. It entered my throat and cut the artery that connects and nourishes my body and brain. Now I have an artificial artery. Because the artery was cut, and I had a blood clot in my brain, they had to tie two ends of the artery together. I had a stroke on my left side, and my right arm was left paralyzed.
It was a very dangerous situation — I was taken to a hospital in Amman, where I stayed for seven months. For the first two months I was in a coma. I was operated on many times … life-threatening operations. Everyday, people were just waiting for the moment I would die. At first, on the news they said I was a martyr; my father heard on the radio that his son had died. Later, they changed the report, and said that I was a “living martyr.”
When I recovered from the coma, I was struggling to speak, I had lost my memory and I couldn’t move my arms or legs.
JM: How did your family and other people from the village react to what had happened?
RB: When the people from the village saw me come home, still alive, they were so happy, because everyone thought that I would die from my injuries. Some of the family were crying with joy! All my friends were coming to visit me and stay with me … sometimes I had to tell them to leave because I was tired and wanted to sleep! I told them to act like before, so that I could continue with my life as normal.
JM: Do you participate in the demonstrations at the wall here in Bilin, or are you too scared after your past experiences?
RB: Firstly, I would like to tell you that I have been shot many times in the demonstrations in Bilin. Secondly, I would like to tell you that the best person to ask is Jody; he will tell you if I’m scared or not!
JM: So you’re a little bit scared?
RB: I’m not scared.
These are peaceful protests; if we don’t fight for our land, then who can? If we don’t fight for the truth, then who can? If we don’t stand side by side and resist this occupation together, then who can? Peaceful demonstrations don’t hurt or kill anybody; they are only there to serve the oppressed. We must tear down this wall, so that we can live with peace … and freedom.
JM: Has your wheelchair ever been broken during a demonstration?
RB: Once, we had a demonstration in Bilin for disabled people, which I organized. Normally, we would protest right up at the wall, but on this occasion, the soldiers started shooting tear gas before we were even within sight. They started to shout that “after today, there will be no more demonstrations in Bilin” … it was because the week before, they had shot an Israeli lawyer who was participating with us. So they wanted to stop the demonstrations because they were afraid of killing Israelis, not Palestinians! But that was a few years ago, so they haven’t done a very good job on the “no more demos” promise …
It was a very powerful symbol of the occupation, to see the Israeli army shooting at the blind and people in wheelchairs. They shot three tear gas canisters at my wheelchair and broke it completely.
JM: Do you think that the Israeli army deal with you differently because you are in a wheelchair?
RB: They treat me exactly the same. They don’t care if I am in a wheelchair or if I’m walking — according to them, I am a threat to the State of Israel, as ridiculous as that may sound.
Maybe they think I want to take revenge for what has happened to me, but I want to tell them that I am a man who wants peace. Even if they destroy my whole life, I only want to make peace.
JM: How do you envision the future?
RB: I am married now, and we have just welcomed three beautiful children, triplets, into the world. I want to start a new life.
Everybody living under the occupation is pessimistic, but I have hope that we can end it. I want to be able to live in freedom, to be able to travel without seeing walls or checkpoints — those are the real things that restrict my movement!
JM: Are you happy to see someone in a wheelchair from London going to demos with you?
RB: When I first saw you, I loved you, because you’re in a wheelchair like me. But it’s not important if you’re in a wheelchair or not … what’s important are the ideas, the resistance, that’s in your mind.
Jody McIntyre is a journalist from the United Kingdom, currently living in the occupied West Bank village of Bilin. Jody has cerebral palsy, and travels in a wheelchair. He writes a blog for Ctrl.Alt.Shift, entitled “Life on Wheels,” which can be found at www.ctrlaltshift.co.uk, where a version of this article was originally published. He can be reached at jody.mcintyre AT gmail DOT com.
By Justin Elliott | TPM | January 11, 2010
In a remarkable example of how bad information can travel far and wide, dozens of media outlets around the world have said Umar Abdulmutallab was traveling on a one-way ticket to Detroit when he allegedly tried to blow up Flight 253, even though that has never been substantiated and appears to be flat wrong.
Abdulmutallab’s “one-way ticket” has been cited in recent days by the AP, the Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post, even though the Nigerian government said Dec. 28 that Abdulmutallab had a round-trip ticket, and provided details to back it up.
The “one-way ticket” meme was originally sourced to anonymous U.S. officials and has since been recited as an undisputed fact.
It has been referenced repeatedly by commentators attacking the U.S. government for missing red flags about Abdulmutallab. See for example this Michael Gerson column in the Jan. 6 Post (“Airline attack shows Obama’s listless approach to terrorism”) and this Michael Mukasey Wall Street Journal effort (“The president’s job is not detecting bombs at the airport but neutralizing terrorists before they get there.”)
In a typical case on Dec. 28 — when the accurate information was already available — CNN anchor Erica Hill asked: “So, just how did a guy on a terror watch list with a one-way ticket paid for in cash, with no luggage … manage to board a U.S. airliner and allegedly try to blow it to pieces? Simply put tonight, who screwed up?”
And here’s Rush Limbaugh on Friday: “When a 20-something Muslim male buys a one-way ticket with cash and has no luggage, that’s not a dot. That’s a fire alarm! He may as well have “I’m a terrorist” taped on his T-shirt.”
But published reports on Dec. 28 cited the conclusion of the Nigerian government that Abdulmutallab had a round-trip ticket to Detroit. It had been purchased in Ghana on Dec. 16 for $2,831, according to the AP, citing Civil Aviation Authority director Harold Demuren. His return date was found by the Nigerians to be Jan. 8. (A Dutch government report described by the International Herald Tribune on Dec. 31 also said Abdulmutallab had a round-trip ticket, but it’s not clear whether the Dutch were simply relying on the Nigerians’ conclusion.) A full account of Demuren’s comments can be found in the Nigerian newspaper The Nation here.
While the New York Times published a correction on Dec. 30 saying it had erroneously reported Abdulmutallab’s ticket was one-way, many outlets that have mentioned the one-way ticket haven’t run corrections.
So where did the false meme come from? Anonymous U.S. government sources. And unless there’s classified information suggesting otherwise, those sources were clearly mistaken.
The first citation of a “one-way ticket” we could find is a report on Christmas day by MSNBC (cached version here): “Federal officials identified the man as Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, 23, of Nigeria, who was traveling one way, without a return ticket.”
Another early reference is in the Dec. 26 edition of the New York Daily News: “Officials said Abdulmutallab was traveling one way, without a return ticket.”
MSNBC’s Pete Williams tells TPMmuckraker: “Though there were federal officials who initially said it was one-way, we’ve [been] saying since that it was round trip, which it clearly was.”
But there are a whole lot of media consumers out there who believe Abdulmutallab came to Detroit on a one-way ticket.
The “one-way ticket” has been cited by CNN, Fox, Time, Newsweek, the AP, the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Boston Globe, Gannett News Service, the Pittsburgh Tribune Review, the Sacramento Bee, the Globe and Mail, the Washington Times, Congressional Quarterly and many other outlets, according to a review by TPMmuckraker.
The Today Show’s Matt Lauer even asked about the one-way ticket in a question to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano (who did not address the matter in her answer).
The only substantiated reference to a one-way ticket we could find is the statement by a Ghanaian official last week that Abdulmutallab purchased a one-way ticket in cash from Accra, Ghana, to Lagos, Nigeria. That was in addition to the purchase of the ticket from Lagos to Detroit via Amsterdam, according to Deputy Information Minister Samuel Okudzeto-Ablakwa, quoted in the Wall Street Journal. The Journal says Abdulmutallab took Virgin Nigeria flight 804 from Accra to Lagos on Dec. 24, before getting on a plane en route to Amsterdam.
There are few signs that the “one-way” meme will die any time soon.
The AP, which two weeks ago reported the correct information from Nigeria, ran a story Friday (“Experts say terror watch lists have limited uses”) stating that Abdulmutallab purchased a one-way fare.