Looks like the U.S. Senate must get ready to
rumble. Bush's previous Supreme Court nominee, a personal assistant named
Harriet Miers, intrigued many liberals and dismayed many conservatives who saw
her as a born-again lightweight. The Moderate Voice (not "conservative") in an extensive round-up points out how under-qualified she was.
Some wondered if Bush would "wimp out," under
seige by low poll ratings, not to mention a pit-bull prosecutor in the Plame
case, a case which may or may not be part of a CIA anti-Bush set-up, Would his next
nominee, after the Miers withdrawal, put another smile on the face of Democrat
Senate leader Harry Reid?
The answer is in: a resounding no, Reid already
says that Bush's new pick, veteran judge Samuel A. Alito, Jr., may be "too
radical." (This is the same "radical" Alito who was voted to the 3rd Circuit
Court of Appeals by unanimous consent of a Democrat-controled Senate. That
NY Dem Senator Schumer, yet
again finding a camera and a microphone, believes Alito may be "out of the
mainstream." (The ACLU's seat on the Supreme Court, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who
favors legalized prostitution and lowering age of consent to 12, is presumably
an American Idol.)
Shaping up: a national battle between "left
extremists" and "right extremists"?
Liberal objections are mounting. Talking points are
jumping. Alito is a male, not a female (a white male, at that!). "Extremist."
"Radical." "Out of the mainstream." Bush has dared to ignore the Democrats and
listen instead to the conservative base that put him in the White House. NARAL
and Planned Parenhood and other fund-raisers call Alito an enemy of "woman's
right to choose." (There are still a majority of SC votes for Roe vs. Wade, but
even if it were overturned, any State can legislate for abortion if this
"mainstream" wants it, like NY and NJ and CA certainly would, becoming Foetal
Graveyards of choice. States' rights, you know. A bedrock of the Constitution.)
It could get nasty. Left ideologues and right
ideologues are calling each other "ideologues."
Might it also get---wonder of
wonders---enlightening? A national debate on--would you believe
it?--principles, instead of just the usual name calling, personal attack,
obfuscation, dumbed-down sound-bites and "gotcha" journalism.
Can the Republic stand it? Battle lines are being
Dem Senator Harry Reid doesn't rule out a
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South
Carolina, warns that "the filibuster will not stand."
Liberal Republican Senator Arlen Specter, Chairman
of the Judiciary Committee, admits "There's a lot of anxiety."
One thing seems clear. Conservatives are suddenly
rallying behind Bush and see backbones sprouting in certain spines. Liberals
have cause for concern. This time here is no backing down in
Dr. Russell Blaylock agrees with gringoman, who has walked in countries from Guatemala to Laos to India to France (occasionally un-blistered.) Who needs to jog? Exactly. Good for the waistline? Dr. Blaylock, a Mississipi man of medicine,tells why it's even good for the heart.
Study: Walking As Healthy As Jogging
There's no need to run. Just going for a brisk walk - in the park, around the
block or on a treadmill - is enough to help keep your heart healthy, a small
The research indicates that just two to three hours of mild exercise a week
can significantly cut the risk of cardiovascular disease.
The findings should encourage people who are reluctant to exercise, said
Brian Duscha, the lead author of the research published in the October issue of
the journal Chest.
"The classic question always is: What's the minimum amount I need to do to
enjoy the benefits of it," Duscha said.
"If you just walk 12 miles a week at a brisk pace, it's scientifically proven
now that you will get some benefits."
The conclusions are based on a study at Duke University Medical Center of 133
middle-aged overweight sedentary men and women who were at risk for heart
Dr. Robert Eckel, president of the American Heart Association,
said the study supports what already is known: Moderate activity is certainly
better than no activity.
"But being more fit would have an even better outcome long-term," he
True, this new flu is getting PR, all right.. You
can hardly tune in anywhere, boot up, flip a dial, surf channels or glance
at hard print and escape the word 'pandemic.' It's everywhere.
Time to give up chicken
soup? Should the liberal "enlightened," like non-liberal "wingnuts," go into
right-wing mode and stock up with provisions for survival? What drugs to buy? (Will they really work?). Practice washing hands more? (Experts reccommend
it.) Write your Representative, demand action? (Will new vaccine, still months
or years away, really work?) Special surgical-type face masks? (On order for
U.S. military and care providers.) Stop putting your fingers in your mouth?
(Helps keep viruses out.) Is Bush doing enough to save us? (???) Should Bush
listen to Mother Sheehan, cut and run from Iraq, bring the troops home now and
fight birds instead? (????) Will Hillary Clinton and the ACLU save us from
trans-species contagion and a quarantine of civil liberties (???).
Pandemic? One is here already: the pandemic of
chatter. It's escalated far beyond a year ago
when your gringo blogman posted a Russian doctor's assertion that bird flu may
kill one billion people (alarmist enough?) (www.gringoman.us /10/28/04 ). The chatter
pandemic has affected a billion of us already. It's much more evolved than it
was even on February 02 this year when we posted The Specter of Bird Flu(www.gringoman.us )
Is this chatter pandemic un-founded, or
Facts seem to shout: "It is very well
A few of so many examples:
The 1918 flu which in three waves killed 20-100
million people (depending on which stats you believe), was recently identified
as an "avian flu," like the current flu in question.
"We now think that the best interpretation of the data available to us is
that the 1918 virus was an entirely avian-like virus that adapted to humans,"
Taubenberger told reporters in a telephone briefing.
Culling birds in Asia Over the last few years
hundreds of thousands of chickens and ducks have been destroyed in China, Korea,
Vietnam, Thailand etc in an attempt to eliminate this avian virus. Despite these
efforts, reports continue of new (though not necessarily widespread)
Go West, Young Virus. Recent reports establish
its arrival in Europe, at least Greece, Romania, Bulgaria (Turkey too.) Oh, yes,
and now the UK. Indication: It's getting around.
The West Now Exporting The Virus? Australia
is now banning live bird imports from Canada. A shipment of racing pigeons were
found to contain bird flu antibodies. (This would indicate MBE ( Migratory Bird
Effect: birds from Asia and Siberia infecting species in Canada which in turn
can infect elsewhere.)http://edition.cnn.com/2005/HEALTH/conditions/10/21/birdflu.australia.canada.reut Yes,
it is getting around. (No reports yet of the viral infection in USA. How long
do you think that will last?)
Contingencies Reports of London expanding
morgue facilities and capabilities, just in case
Quarantine Dilemnas How to enforce quarantines
in today's highly-populated very "global" world where everybody is going
everywhere at unprecedented speeds? (The 1918 disaster spread globally before
the era of air travel made spreading so much easier.) New Zealand considers a
plan for quarantining all air and sea arrivals---but would it even be
logistically possible? And if not for an island country that size, what about
On the other hand (if you think there is another
The surprise factor. Has there ever been a great
calamity or catastrophe with so much advanced 'promotion'? Normally you don't
see it coming. It hits more like an earthquake than a post-graduate course in
epidemiology. This is true for man-made disasters(like Pearl Harbor, 9.11 ) or
natural ones like the 1918 flu and smallpox epidemics (during the Revolutionary War
125,000 died of smallpox, approximately five times more fatalities than among
Washington's war casualties). The Black Death (from infected rats in Genoese
ships returning from Asia ) wiped out over 1/3 of 14th Century Europe). Who saw
it coming? The nightmarish 5th Century B.C. Plague in Athens during the
Peloponnesian War (the infection was believed, said Thucydides, to originate in
Egypt or Ethiopia). Who saw any of these coming?
Today, of course, the great concern is whether the
H5N1 virus will mutate to a trans-species form, jumping from birds to humans who
will then infect other humans. To date, there is no indisputable proof that this
can happen, or is likely to happen or will happen. So far, well under 100 humans
have died from avian flu (if you trust the stats) and all in Asia. All, or most,
died from contact with the wrong chickens.
Besides Vietnam and Thailand, the experts are paying
close attention to Indonesia (while hoping that China reports honestly about
itself.) UN bureaucrats sound more optimistic, others less so. Troubling signs
of "clustering" in Indonesia, where more than one member of a family shows
symptoms in a few reported cases (so far.) A population of 100 million, many of
them living with chickens, scattered on hundreds of islands, could be quite
an "incubator." But you don't know. I don't know. And nobody else really knows.
The variables are still endless, and can make for endless reading, sometimes
As for the oft-cited pandemic of 1918, evolutionary biologist Paul E. Ewald says that such a threat today is "essentially non-existent." That is because the high virulence and high transmissibility were spawned by the unique conditions of war-weary millions on the Western Front in WWII.
Why panic? There'll be a wave of it when the first
confirmed case of bird flu in the USA is reported and the networks can ride the
"this could be bigger than Hurrican Katrina" effect. Poultry sales will plummet.
Cries of "Where's my Tamiflu?" or liberals shouting "Why doesn't Bush have a
vaccine for us?" will rock the land. This will subside as the next news cycle
returns to Karl Rove or Tom DeLay or Bush's Supreme Court debacle, or the fact
that 2000 Americans who volunteered for the military have died in
Iraq while over 50,000 non-volunteer Americans died in traffic accidents.
Meanwhile, the thing to watch for: Are people
catching this virus from other people?
So far, the signs are more or less negligible. As
long as they remain neglible, there is not going to be a global pandemic, only
Of course, if they don't remain negligible, you might
want to reconsider your travel plans and what to shop for before the
rush to survival mode.