Thursday, April 30, 2009

The 2012 Apocalypse — And How to Stop It

The 2012 Apocalypse — And How to Stop It
By Brandon Keim
April 17, 2009

For scary speculation about the end of civilization in 2012, people usually turn to followers of cryptic Mayan prophecy, not scientists. But that’s exactly what a group of NASA-assembled researchers described in a chilling report issued earlier this year on the destructive potential of solar storms.

Entitled "Severe Space Weather Events — Understanding Societal and Economic Impacts," it describes the consequences of solar flares unleashing waves of energy that could disrupt Earth’s magnetic field, overwhelming high-voltage transformers with vast electrical currents and short-circuiting energy grids. Such a catastrophe would cost the United States "$1 trillion to $2 trillion in the first year," concluded the panel, and "full recovery could take 4 to 10 years." That would, of course, be just a fraction of global damages.

Good-bye, civilization.

Worse yet, the next period of intense solar activity is expected in 2012, and coincides with the presence of an unusually large hole in Earth’s geomagnetic shield. But the report received relatively little attention, perhaps because of 2012’s supernatural connotations. Mayan astronomers supposedly predicted that 2012 would mark the calamitous "birth of a new era."

Whether the Mayans were on to something, or this is all just a chilling coincidence, won’t be known for several years. But according to Lawrence Joseph, author of "Apocalypse 2012: A Scientific Investigation into Civilization’s End," "I’ve been following this topic for almost five years, and it wasn’t until the report came out that this really began to freak me out." talked to Joseph and John Kappenman, CEO of electromagnetic damage consulting company MetaTech, about the possibility of geomagnetic apocalypse — and how to stop it. What’s the problem?

John Kappenman: We’ve got a big, interconnected grid that spans across the country. Over the years, higher and higher operating voltages have been added to it. This has escalated our vulnerability to geomagnetic storms. These are not a new thing. They’ve probably been occurring for as long as the sun has been around. It’s just that we’ve been unknowingly building an infrastructure that’s acting more and more like an antenna for geomagnetic storms. What do you mean by antenna?

Kappenman: Large currents circulate in the network, coming up from the earth through ground connections at large transformers. We need these for safety reasons, but ground connections provide entry paths for charges that could disrupt the grid. What’s your solution?

Kappenman: What we’re proposing is to add some fairly small and inexpensive resistors in the transformers’ ground onnections. The addition of that little bit of resistance would significantly reduce the amount of the geomagnetically induced currents that flow into the grid. What does it look like?

Kappenman: In its simplest form, it’s something that might be made out of cast iron or stainless steel, about the size of a washing machine. How much would it cost?

Kappenman: We’re still at the conceptual design phase, but we think it’s do-able for $40,000 or less per resistor. That’s less than what you pay for insurance for a transformer. And less than what you’d willingly pay for insurance on civilization.

Kappenman: If you’re talking about the United States, there are about 5,000 transformers to consider this for. The Electromagnetic Pulse Commission recommended it in a report they sent to Congress last year. We’re talking about $150 million or so. It’s pretty small in the grand scheme of things.

Big power lines and substations can withstand all the other known environmental challenges. The problem with geomagnetic storms is that we never really understood them as a vulnerability, and had a design code that took them into account. Can it be done in time?

Kappenman: I’m not in the camp that’s certain a big storm will occur in 2012. But given time, a big storm is certain to occur in the future. They have in the past, and they will again. They’re about one-in-400-year events. That doesn’t mean it will be 2012. It’s just as likely that it could occur next week. Do you think it’s coincidence that the Mayans predicted apocalypse on the exact date when astronomers say the sun will next reach a period of maximum turbulence?

Lawrence Joseph: I have enormous respect for Mayan astronomers. It disinclines me to dismiss this as a coincidence. But I recommend people verify that the Mayans prophesied what people say they did. I went to Guatemala and spent a week with two Mayan shamans who spent 20 years talking to other shamans about the prophecies. They confirmed that the Maya do see 2012 as a great turning point. Not the end of the world, not the great off-switch in the sky, but the birth of the fifth age. Isn’t a great off-switch in the sky exactly what’s described in the report?

Joseph: The chair of the NASA workshop was Dan Baker at the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics. Some of his comments, and the comments he approved in the report, are very strong about the potential connection between coronal mass ejections and power grids here on Earth. There’s a direct relationship between how technologically sophisticated a society is and how badly it could be hurt. That’s the meta-message of the report.

I had the good fortune last week to meet with John Kappenman at MetaTech. He took me through a meticulous two-hour presentation about just how vulnerable the power grid is, and how it becomes more vulnerable as higher voltages are sent across it. He sees it as a big antenna for space weather outbursts. Why is it so vulnerable?

Joseph: Ultra-high voltage transformers become more finicky as energy demands are greater. Around 50 percent already can’t handle the current they’re designed for. A little extra current coming in at odd times can slip them over the edge.

The ultra-high voltage transformers, the 500,000- and 700,000-kilovolt transformers, are particularly vulnerable. The United States uses more of these than anyone else. China is trying to implement some million-kilovolt transformers, but I’m not sure they’re online yet.

Kappenman also points out that when the transformers blow, they can’t be fixed in the field. They often can’t be fixed at all. Right now there’s a one- to three-year lag time between placing an order and getting a new one.

According to Kappenman, there’s an as-yet-untested plan for inserting ground resistors into the power grid. It makes the handling a little more complicated, but apparently isn’t anything the operators can’t handle. I’m not sure he’d say these could be in place by 2012, as it’s difficult to establish standards, and utilities are generally regulated on a state-by-state basis. You’d have quite a legal thicket. But it still might be possible to get some measure of protection in by the next solar climax. Why can’t we just shut down the grid when we see a storm coming, and start it up again afterwards?

Joseph: Power grid operators now rely on one satellite called ACE, which sits about a million miles out from Earth in what’s called the gravity well, the balancing point between sun and earth. It was designed to run for five years. It’s 11 years old, is losing steam, and there are no plans to replace it.

ACE provides about 15 to 45 minutes of heads-up to power plant operators if something’s coming in. They can shunt loads, or shut different parts of the grid. But to just shut the grid off and restart it is a $10 billion proposition, and there is lots of resistance to doing so. Many times these storms hit at the north pole, and don’t move south far enough to hit us. It’s a difficult call to make, and false alarms really piss people off. Lots of money is lost and damage incurred. But in Kappenman’s view, and in lots of others, this time burnt could really mean burnt. Do you live your life differently now?

Joseph: I’ve been following this topic for almost five years. It wasn’t until the report came out that it began to freak me out.

Up until this point, I firmly believed that the possibility of 2012 being catastrophic in some way was worth investigating. The report made it a little too real. That document can’t be ignored. And it was even written before the THEMIS satellite discovered a gigantic hole in Earth’s magnetic shield. Ten or twenty times more particles are coming through this crack than expected. And astronomers predict that the way the sun’s polarity will flip in 2012 will make it point exactly the way we don’t want it to in terms of evading Earth’s magnetic field. It’s an astonoshingly bad set of coincidences. If Barack Obama said, "Lets’ prepare," and there weren’t any bureaucratic hurdles, could we still be ready in time?

Joseph: I believe so. I’d ask the President to slipstream behind stimulus package funds already appropriated for smart grids, which are supposed to improve grid efficiency and help transfer high energies at peak times. There’s a framework there. Working within that, you could carve out some money for the ground resistors program, if those tests work, and have the initial momentum for cutting through the red tape. It’d be a place to start.

The Judgment on Vaccines Is In???

Robalini's Note: Though this piece by Jim Carrey preceeds the Swine Flu story by a few days, it's as timely in ever in making people stop and ask questions before jumping into a forced vaccination hysteria...

Jim Carrey, Actor
April 22, 2009
The Judgment on Vaccines Is In???

Recently, I was amazed to hear a commentary by CNN's Campbell Brown on the controversial vaccine issue. After a ruling by the 'special vaccine court' saying the Measles, Mumps, Rubella shot wasn't found to be responsible for the plaintiffs' autism, she and others in the media began making assertions that the judgment was in, and vaccines had been proven safe. No one would be more relieved than Jenny and I if that were true. But with all due respect to Ms. Brown, a ruling against causation in three cases out of more than 5000 hardly proves that other children won't be adversely affected by the MMR, let alone that all vaccines are safe. This is a huge leap of logic by anyone's standards. Not everyone gets cancer from smoking, but cigarettes do cause cancer. After 100 years and many rulings in favor of the tobacco companies, we finally figured that out.

The truth is that no one without a vested interest in the profitability of vaccines has studied all 36 of them in depth. There are more than 100 vaccines in development, and no tests for cumulative effect or vaccine interaction of all 36 vaccines in the current schedule have ever been done. If I'm mistaken, I challenge those who are making such grand pronouncements about vaccine safety to produce those studies.

If we are to believe that the ruling of the 'vaccine court' in these cases mean that all vaccines are safe, then we must also consider the rulings of that same court in the Hannah Polling and Bailey Banks cases, which ruled vaccines were the cause of autism and therefore assume that all vaccines are unsafe. Clearly both are irresponsible assumptions, and neither option is prudent.

In this growing crisis, we cannot afford to blindly trumpet the agenda of the CDC, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) or vaccine makers. Now more than ever, we must resist the urge to close this book before it's been written. The anecdotal evidence of millions of parents who've seen their totally normal kids regress into sickness and mental isolation after a trip to the pediatrician's office must be seriously considered. The legitimate concern they and many in the scientific community have that environmental toxins, including those found in vaccines, may be causing autism and other disorders (Aspergers, ADD, ADHD), cannot be dissuaded by a show of sympathy and a friendly invitation to look for the 'real' cause of autism anywhere but within the lucrative vaccine program.

With vaccines being the fastest growing division of the pharmaceutical industry, isn't it possible that profits may play a part in the decision-making? That the vaccine program is becoming more of a profit engine than a means of prevention? In a world left reeling from the catastrophic effects of greed, mismanagement and corporate insensitivity, is it so absurd for us to wonder why American children are being given twice as many vaccines on average, compared to the top 30 first world countries?

Paul Offit, the vaccine advocate and profiteer, who helped invent a Rotavirus vaccine is said to have paved the way for his own multi-million dollar windfall while serving on the very council that eventually voted his Rotavirus vaccine onto our children's schedule. On August 21, 2000 a congressional investigation's report titled, "Conflicts in Vaccine Policy," stated:

It has become clear over the course of this investigation that the VRBPAC and the ACIP [the two main advisory boards that determine the vaccine schedule] are dominated by individuals with close working relationships with the vaccine producers. This was never the intent of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, which requires that a diversity of views be represented on advisory committees.

Isn't that enough to raise questions about the process of choosing the vaccine schedule?

With many states like Minnesota now reporting the number at 1 in 80 children affected with autism, can we afford to trust those who serve two masters or their logic that tells us "one size fits all" when it comes to vaccines? Can we afford to ignore vaccines as a possible cause of these rising numbers when they are one of the fastest growing elements in our children's environment? With all the doubt that's left hanging on this topic, how can anyone in the media or medical profession, boldly demand that all parents march out and give their kids 36 of these shots, six at a time in dosage levels equal to that given a 200 pound man? This is a bias of the most dangerous kind.

I've also heard it said that no evidence of a link between vaccines and autism has ever been found. That statement is only true for the CDC, the AAP and the vaccine makers who've been ignoring mountains of scientific information and testimony. There's no evidence of the Lincoln Memorial if you look the other way and refuse to turn around. But if you care to look, it's really quite impressive. For a sample of vaccine injury evidence go to

We have never argued that people shouldn't be immunized for the most serious threats including measles and polio, but surely there's a limit as to how many viruses and toxins can be introduced into the body of a small child. Veterinarians found out years ago that in many cases they were over-immunizing our pets, a syndrome they call Vaccinosis. It overwhelmed the immune system of the animals, causing myriad physical and neurological disorders. Sound familiar? If you can over-immunize a dog, is it so far out to assume that you can over-immunize a child? These forward thinking vets also decided to remove thimerosal from animal vaccines in 1992, and yet this substance, which is 49% mercury, is still in human vaccines. Don't our children deserve as much consideration as our pets?

I think I'd rather listen to the more sensible voice of Dr. Bernadine Healy, former head of the National Institute of Health, who says:

Listen to the patients and the patients will teach...I think there is an inexcusable issue, and that's the lack of research that's been done here...A parent can legitimately question giving a one-day old baby, or a two-day old baby [the] Hepatitis B vaccine that has no risk for it [and] the mother has no risk for it. That's a heavy-duty vaccine given on day two [of life]. I think those are legitimate questions.

Dr. Healy is also calling for a long overdue study of vaccinated vs. unvaccinated. Dr. Frank Engly, a researcher and microbiologist who served on the boards of the CDC, FDA and EPA during the 70s and 80s, warned:

The CDC cannot afford to admit thimerosal is toxic because they have been promoting it for several years...If they would have followed through with our 1982 report, vaccines would have been freed of thimerosal and all this autism as they tell me would not have occurred. But as it is, it all occurred.

In all likelihood the truth about vaccines is that they are both good and bad. While ingredients like aluminum, mercury, ether, formaldehyde and anti-freeze may help preserve and enhance vaccines, they can be toxic as well. The assortment of viruses delivered by multiple immunizations may also be a hazard. I agree with the growing number of voices within the medical and scientific community who believe that vaccines, like every other drug, have risks as well as benefits and that for the sake of profit, American children are being given too many, too soon. One thing is certain. We don't know enough to announce that all vaccines are safe!

If the CDC, the AAP and Ms. Brown insist that our children take twice as many shots as the rest of the western world, we need more independent vaccine research not done by the drug companies selling the vaccines or by organizations under their influence. Studies that cannot be internally suppressed. Answers parents can trust. Perhaps this is what Campbell Brown should be demanding and how the power of the press could better serve the public in the future.

WHO: Swine Flu Could Trigger Global Pandemic

WHO: Swine Flu Could Trigger Global Pandemic
Unheard of new strain is hybrid resulting from a combination of four different viruses
Steve Watson
Friday, April 24, 2009

The World Health Organization has warned that a new form of influenza that may have spread from Mexico into the U.S. could develop into a pandemic-type virus.

Hundreds of people in Mexico have been infected and 60 have died from suspected swine flu, while seven human cases have been confirmed in the United States, a World Health Organisation spokeswoman has said.

U.S. labs are still running tests on the Mexican strain of the virus, results of which will be released by the will be released later today by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

At this point it is not yet clear whether the two strains are the same. Some media reports have failed to make this clear, while the Drudge report has jumped in head first declaring an “OUTBREAK” with a giant frothing red headline.

Five of the U.S. cases were recorded in California with a further two in Texas. The first two cases in Southern California appeared almost simultaneously, 100 miles apart, indicating that the virus can silently spread. Neither case was due to contact with swine, and family members had symptoms before and after the confirmed cases, indicating that the H1N1 swine flu is being efficiently transmitted human to human.

Most of the Mexican cases were found in healthy young adults with no known record of prior illness, according to reports.

Schools in Mexico City and the surrounding areas have been temporarily closed and people with flu symptoms have been advised to stay home from work. The Mexican government has launched a huge vaccination campaign.

The WHO has also pointed out that pigs have been implicated in the emergence of new influenza viruses responsible for two of the previous century’s influenza pandemics, including the 1918 pandemic strain which spread to nearly every part of the world killing an estimated 2.5 to 5% of the human population - somewhere in the region of 50 million to 100 million people.

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control has reiterated the WHO comments, writing on it’s website:

“The infection of humans with a novel influenza A virus infection of animal origins as has happened here is of concern because of the risk, albeit small, that this could represent the appearance of viruses with pandemic potential.”

According to scientists at the CDC, genetic analysis indicates that the virus is “highly unusual”:

“It is a hybrid that resulted from a combination of four different viruses — one that typically infects people, one that originated in North American birds and two from pigs in Europe and Asia,” Anne Schuchat, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, told the Washington Post.

“The good news is all seven of these patients have recovered,” she said. The virus appears to be resistant to two drugs normally used to treat the flu, but two others appear to be effective against it.

“This combination has not been recognized before in the U.S. or elsewhere,” Schuchat said.

Other scientists have warned that if a pig is simultaneously infected with a human and an avian influenza virus, it can serve as a “mixing vessel” for the two viruses that could combine to create a new more virulent strain.

Though this story has broken in the mainstream media today, authorities have been tracking it for some time. One week ago, the Public Health Agency of Canada contacted health and quarantine services to inform them that Mexican health authorities had advised Canada to be on alert for possible infections.

Flu Is Deadly Mix Of Never-Before-Seen Viruses

Swine Flu Is Deadly Mix Of Never-Before-Seen Viruses
Alarm spreads as human to human infection confirmed, bug is an intercontinental mix of never-before-seen human, avian and pig viruses, top globalists stand to benefit from Tamiflu stockpiling
Paul Joseph Watson
Saturday, April 25, 2009

Swine flu panic is spreading in Mexico and soldiers are patrolling the streets after it was confirmed that human to human transmission is occurring and that the virus is a brand new strain which is seemingly affecting young, healthy people the worst, and that the bug is a never-before-seen intercontinental mixture of human, avian and pig viruses from America, Europe and Asia.

Clues that the virus may be a synthetic creation are already manifesting.

According to reports, the virus is a “never-before-seen form of the flu that combines pig, bird and human viruses” which consists of an intercontinental mix of viruses from North America, Europe and Asia.

“CDC officials detected a virus with a unique combination of gene segments that have not been seen in people or pigs before,” according to an Associated Press report.

“This strain of swine influenza that’s been cultured in a laboratory is something that’s not been seen anywhere actually in the United States and the world, so this is actually a new strain of influenza that’s been identified,” said Dr. John Carlo, Dallas Co. Medical Director (video clip here).

Alarming reports are now filtering in about people catching the illness who have had no contact with pigs whatsoever. These include a man and his daughter in San Diego County, a 41-year-old woman in Imperial County and two teenagers in San Antonio, Texas. In fact, in all U.S. cases, the victims had no contact with any pigs.

Dr. Wilma Wooten, San Diego County’s public health officer, told KPBS “We have had person-to-person spread with the father and the daughter,” says Wooten, “And also with the two teenagers in Texas, they were in the same school. So that also indicates person-to-person transfer.”

“Dr. Wooten says it’s unclear how people were exposed to swine flu. She says none of the patients have had any contact with pigs,” according to the report.

Although the situation in the U.S. looks under control, panic is spreading in Mexico, where 800 cases of pneumonia in the capital alone are suspected to be related to the swine flu and the virus has hit young and healthy people, which is very rare with an flu outbreak. Despite the danger of a pandemic, the U.S. border with Mexico remains open.

“Mexico has shut schools and museums and canceled hundreds of public events in its sprawling, overcrowded capital of 20 million people to try to prevent further infections,” reports Reuters.

“My level of concern is significant,” said Dr. Martin Fenstersheib, the health officer for Santa Clara County. “We have a novel virus, a brand-new strain that’s spreading human to human, and we are also seeing a virulent strain in Mexico that seems to be related. We certainly have concerns for this escalating.”

The WHO insists that the outbreak has “pandemic potential” and has been stockpiling supplies of Tamiflu, known generically as oseltamivir, a pill that can both treat flu and prevent infection, according to officials.

As we previously highlighted, those that have a stake in the Tamiflu vaccine include top globalists and BIlderberg members like George Shultz, Lodewijk J.R. de Vink and former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

Indeed, Rumsfeld himself played a key role in hyping an outbreak of swine flu back in the 1976 when he urged the entire country to get vaccinated. Many batches of the vaccine were contaminated, resulting in hundreds of sick people and 52 fatalities.

The fact that the properties of the strain are completely new, that the virus is spreading from people to people, and that the young and healthy are being hit worst, has disturbing parallels to the deadly 1918 pandemic that killed millions.

It is unclear as to why, if the virus is a brand new strain, that public health officials are so confident programs of mass vaccination, which are already being prepared, would necessarily be effective.

It certainly wouldn’t be the first time that deadly flu viruses have been concocted in labs and then dispatched with the intention of creating a pandemic.

When the story first broke last month, Czech newspapers questioned if the shocking discovery of vaccines contaminated with the deadly avian flu virus which were distributed to 18 countries by the American company Baxter were part of a conspiracy to provoke a pandemic.

Since the probability of mixing a live virus biological weapon with vaccine material by accident is virtually impossible, this leaves no other explanation than that the contamination was a deliberate attempt to weaponize the H5N1 virus to its most potent extreme and distribute it via conventional flu vaccines to the population who would then infect others to a devastating degree as the disease went airborne.

However, this is not the first time that vaccine companies have been caught distributing vaccines contaminated with deadly viruses.

In 2006 it was revealed that Bayer Corporation had discovered that their injection drug, which was used by hemophiliacs, was contaminated with the HIV virus. Internal documents prove that after they positively knew that the drug was contaminated, they took it off the U.S. market only to dump it on the European, Asian and Latin American markets, knowingly exposing thousands, most of them children, to the live HIV virus. Government officials in France went to prison for allowing the drug to be distributed. The documents show that the FDA colluded with Bayer to cover-up the scandal and allowed the deadly drug to be distributed globally. No Bayer executives ever faced arrest or prosecution in the United States.

In the UK, a 2007 outbreak of foot and mouth disease that put Britain on high alert has been originated from a government laboratory which is shared with an American pharmaceutical company, mirroring the deadly outbreak of 2001, which was also deliberately released.

As we reported yesterday, last time there was a significant outbreak of a new form of swine flu in the U.S. it originated at the army base at Fort Dix, New Jersey.

Previous Swine Flu Outbreak Originated At Fort Dix

Previous Swine Flu Outbreak Originated At Fort Dix
Mass vaccination program was halted after hundreds contracted debilitating nerve disease
Steve Watson
Friday, April 24, 2009

Given the reports of the possibility of a swine flu epidemic, is interesting to note that last time there was a significant outbreak of a new form of swine flu in the U.S. it originated at the army base at Fort Dix, New Jersey.

Hundreds of soldiers on the base, mostly recruits, were infected without becoming ill in 1976.

President Gerald Ford immediately ordered a nationwide vaccination program.

More than 40 million people were vaccinated. However, the program was stopped short after over 500 cases of Guillain-Barre syndrome, a severe paralyzing nerve disease, were reported. 30 people died as a direct result of the vaccinations.

Unanswered questions regarding the outbreak remain to this day. According to a CDC investigation, It is not known why the virus did not extend beyond basic trainees or beyond the military base. The source of the virus, the exact time of its introduction into Fort Dix, and factors limiting its spread and duration remain unknown.

Previous reports of attempts to use influenza as a bio weapon, should also have us asking concerned questions.

Swine flu fears prompt quarantine plans, pork bans

Swine flu fears prompt quarantine plans, pork bans
Frank Jordans, Associated Press WriterApr 26, 2009

GENEVA – Countries planned quarantines, tightened rules on pork imports and tested airline passengers for fevers as global health officials tried Sunday to come up with uniform ways to battle a deadly strain of swine flu. Nations from New Zealand to France reported new suspected cases and some warned citizens against travel to North America.

World Health Organization Director-General Margaret Chan held teleconferences with staff and flu experts around the world but stopped short of recommending specific measures to halt the disease beyond urging governments to step up their surveillance of suspicious outbreaks.

Governments including China, Russia and Taiwan began planning to put anyone with symptoms of the deadly virus under quarantine.

Others were increasing their screening of pigs and pork imports from the Americas or banning them outright despite health officials' reassurances that it was safe to eat thoroughly cooked pork.

Some nations issued travel warnings for Mexico and the United States.

Chan called the outbreak a public health emergency of "pandemic potential" because the virus can pass from human to human.

Her agency was considering whether to issue nonbinding recommendations on travel and trade restrictions, and even border closures. It is up to governments to decide whether to follow the advice.

"Countries are encouraged to do anything that they feel would be a precautionary measure," WHO spokeswoman Aphaluck Bhatiasevi said. "All countries need to enhance their monitoring."

New Zealand said that 10 students who took a school trip to Mexico "likely" had swine flu. Israel said a man who had recently visited Mexico had been hospitalized while authorities try to determine whether he had the disease. French Health Ministry officials said four possible cases of swine flu are currently under investigation, including a family of three in the northern Nord region and a woman in the Paris region. The four recently returned from Mexico. Tests on two separate cases of suspected swine flu proved negative, they said.

Spain's Health Ministry said three people who just returned from Mexico were under observation in hospitals in the northern Basque region, in southeastern Albacete and the Mediterranean port city of Valencia.

Mexico closed schools, museums, libraries and theaters in a bid to contain the outbreak after hundreds were sickened there. In the U.S., there have been at least 11 confirmed cases of swine flu in California, Texas and Kansas. Patients have ranged in age from 9 to over 50. At least two were hospitalized. All recovered or are recovering.

New York health officials said more than 100 students at the St. Francis Preparatory School, in Queens, recently began suffering a fever, sore throat and aches and pains. Some of their relatives also have been ill.

Some St. Francis students had recently traveled to Mexico, The New York Times and New York Post reported Sunday.

Preliminary tests of samples taken from sick students' noses and throats confirmed that at least eight had a non-human strain of influenza type A, indicating probable cases of swine flu, city health officials said. The exact subtypes were still unknown, and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was conducting further tests.

Hong Kong and Taiwan said visitors who came back from flu-affected areas with fevers would be quarantined. China said anyone experiencing flu-like symptoms within two weeks of arrival an affected area had to report to authorities. A Russian health agency said any passenger from North America running a fever would be quarantined until cause of the fever is determined.

Tokyo's Narita airport installed a device to test the temperatures of passengers arriving from Mexico.

Indonesia increased surveillance at all entry points for travelers with flu-like symptoms — using devices at airports that were put in place years ago to monitor for severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, and bird flu. It said it was ready to quarantine suspected victims if necessary.

Hong Kong and South Korea warned against travel to the Mexican capital and three affected provinces. Italy, Poland and Venezuela also advised their citizens to postpone travel to affected areas of Mexico and the United States.

Symptoms of the flu-like illness include a fever of more than 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37.8 degrees Celsius), body aches, coughing, a sore throat, respiratory congestion and, in some cases, vomiting and diarrhea.

At least 81 people have died from severe pneumonia caused by the disease in Mexico, according to the WHO.

The virus is usually contracted through direct contact with pigs, but Joseph Domenech, chief of animal health service at U.N. Food and Agriculture Agency in Rome, said all indications were that the virus is being spread through human-to-human transmission.

No vaccine specifically protects against swine flu, and it is unclear how much protection current human flu vaccines might offer.

Russia banned the import of meat products from Mexico, California, Texans and Kansas. South Korea said it would increase the number of its influenza virus checks on pork products from Mexico and the U.S.

Serbia on Saturday banned all imports of pork from North America, despite reassurances from the FAO that pigs appear not to be the immediate source of infection.

Italy's agriculture lobby, Coldiretti, warned against panic reaction, noting that farmers lost hundreds of millions of euros (dollars) because of consumers boycotts during the 2001 mad cow scare and the 2005 bird flu outbreak.

Japanese Agriculture Minister Shigeru Ishiba appeared on TV to calm consumers, saying it was safe to eat pork.

In Egypt, health authorities were examining about 350,000 pigs being raised in Cairo and other provinces for swine flu.

The WHO's pandemic alert level is currently at to phase 3. The organization said the level could be raised to phase 4 if the virus shows sustained ability to pass from human to human.

Phase 5 would be reached if the virus is found in at least two countries in the same region.

"The declaration of phase 5 is a strong signal that a pandemic is imminent and that the time to finalize the organization, communication, and implementation of the planned mitigation measures is short," WHO said.

Phase 6 would indicate a full-scale global pandemic.
Associated Press writers around the world contributed to this report.
On the Net:

WHO swine flu page:

Administration declares 'emergency'

Administration declares 'emergency'

In an unusual Sunday briefing at the White House, administration officials said a “public health emergency” is being declared in the United States in order to mobilize maximum resources to combat fears of a global swine-flu pandemic.

The term "sounds more severe than it really is," said Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who called the measure "standard operating procedure," adding, “I wish we could call it a declaration of emergency preparedness.” The same measures, she said, were taken for the inauguration and in cases of flood and hurricane.

Acting CDC Director Richard Besser said that health officials have reported 20 U.S. cases across five states – California, Kansas, New York, Ohio, and Texas – and expect the numbers to rise as doctors perform more tests to detect the illness, and warned that "more severe" cases are likely to surface here.

While the disease, which appears to have originated in Mexico, has killed more than 80 there and infected over 1,300, there have been no fatal American infections so far.

The government said it will release 25 percent of its stockpiles of the flu-fighting drugs Tamiflu and Relenza. Texas governor Rick Perry had previously requested 37,430 doses of Tamiflu be sent to his state from the Strategic National Stockpile.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs dismissed any suggestion that administration's response would be hampered by the lack of confirmed appointees at the Department of Health and Human Services, the last Cabinet post to receive a secretary, or the yet to be filled post of surgeon general.

Gesturing to Napolitano, Brennan, and acting CDC Director Richard Besser, he said “There is a team in place, the team is standing behind me.”

Gibbs said "the president's health was never in any danger," when asked about reports that Obama's host on a museum tour in Mexico City died the next day, and had flu-like symptoms. The flu has a 24-48 hour incubation period, he said and Obama left Mexico nine days ago and has not shown symptoms of the flu nor has he been seen by a doctor or received preventative treatment.

Asked if the president’s decision to golf Sunday at Andrews Air Force Base was part of a White House strategy to reassure people, Gibbs chuckled and replied: “I'm not sure I'd draw a DIRECT conclusion.”

John Brennan, White House homeland-security adviser, said there is “no evidence whatsoever” of bioterrorism.

Napalitano said briefings will continue daily for awhile. The CDC is to brief reporters by teleconference at 3 p.m. ET.

“We’re preparing in an environment where we really don’t know," she said, "ultimately what the size or seriousness of this outbreak is going to be.”

Swine flu death toll in Mexico rises to 103

Swine flu death toll in Mexico rises to 103

MEXICO CITY, April 26 (Reuters) - The death toll in Mexico from an outbreak of a new type of swine flu has risen to 103 people, Health Minister Jose Angel Cordova said on Sunday.

Cordova told Mexican television that around 400 people were in hospital out of a total of around 1,600 suspected cases.

The outbreak of a new strain of flu in Mexico in the last few days has stoked fears of a global epidemic as new cases cropped up in the United States and Canada. Possible infections are also being checked in Europe, Israel and New Zealand.

"The most recent reports we have are of 1,614 cases, with 103 deaths, and we still have around 400 patients in hospital," Cordova told the Televisa network, explaining that around two-thirds of the sick patients had recovered.

Millions of Mexicans stayed indoors at the weekend or ventured out wearing surgical masks, especially in Mexico City where the government stopped public events and shut museums, bars and stadiums closed to try and contain the virus.

(Reporting by Miguel Angel Gutierrez)

U.S. Declares Public Health Emergency

U.S. Declares Public Health Emergency Over Swine Flu
April 26, 2009

Responding to what some health officials feared could be the leading edge of a global pandemic emerging from Mexico, American health officials declared a public health emergency on Sunday as 20 cases of swine flu were confirmed in this country, including eight in New York City.

Other nations imposed travel bans or made plans to quarantine air travelers as confirmed cases also appeared in Mexico and Canada and suspect cases emerged elsewhere.

Top global flu experts struggled to predict how dangerous the new A (H1N1) swine flu strain would be as it became clear that they had too little information about Mexico’s outbreak — in particular how many cases had occurred in what is thought to be a month before the outbreak was detected, and whether the virus was mutating to be more lethal, or less.

“We’re in a period in which the picture is evolving,” said Dr. Keiji Fukuda, deputy director general of the World Health Organization. “We need to know the extent to which it causes mild and serious infections.”

Without that knowledge — which is unlikely to emerge soon because only two laboratories, in Atlanta and Winnipeg, Canada, can confirm a case — his agency’s panel of experts was unwilling to raise the global pandemic alert level, even though it officially saw the outbreak as a public health emergency and opened its emergency response center.

As a news conference in Washington, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano called the emergency declaration “standard operating procedure,” and said she would rather call it a “declaration of emergency preparedness.”

“It’s like declaring one for a hurricane,” she said. “It means we can release funds and take other measures. The hurricane may not actually hit.”

American investigators said they expected more cases here, but noted that virtually all so far had been mild and urged Americans not to panic.

The speed and the scope of the world’s response showed the value of preparations made because of the avian flu and SARS scares, public health experts said.

The emergency declaration in the United States lets the government free more money for antiviral drugs and give some previously unapproved tests and drugs to children. One-quarter of the national stockpile of 50 million courses of antiflu drugs will be released.

Border patrols and airport security officers are to begin asking travelers if they have had the flu or a fever; those who appear ill will be stopped, taken aside and given masks while they arrange for medical care.

“This is moving fast and we expect to see more cases,” Dr. Richard Besser, acting director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said at the news conference with Ms. Napolitano. “But we view this as a marathon.”

He advised Americans to wash their hands frequently, to cover coughs and sneezes and to stay home if they felt ill; but he stopped short of advice now given in Mexico to wear masks and not kiss or touch anyone. He praised decisions to close individual schools in New York and Texas but did not call for more widespread closings.

Besides the eight New York cases, officials said they had confirmed seven in California, two in Kansas, two in Texas and one in Ohio. The virus looked identical to the one in Mexico believed to have killed 103 people — including 22 people whose deaths were confirmed to be from swine flu — and sickened about 1,600. As of Sunday night, there were no swine flu deaths in the United States, and one hospitalization.

Other governments tried to contain the infection amid reports of potential new cases including in New Zealand, Hong Kong and Spain.

Dr. Fukuda of the W.H.O. said his agency would decide Tuesday whether to raise the pandemic alert level to 4. Such a move would prompt more travel bans, and the agency has been reluctant historically to take actions that hurt member nations.

Canada confirmed six cases, at opposite ends of the country: four in Nova Scotia and two in British Columbia. Canadian health officials said the victims had only mild symptoms and had either recently traveled to Mexico or been in contact with someone who had.

Other governments issued advisories urging citizens not to visit Mexico. China, Japan, Hong Kong and others set up quarantines for anyone possibly infected. Russia and other countries banned pork imports from Mexico, though people cannot get the flu from eating pork.

In the United States, the C.D.C. confirmed that eight students at St. Francis Preparatory School in Fresh Meadows, Queens, had been infected with the new swine flu. At a news conference on Sunday, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said that all those cases had been mild and that city hospitals had not seen a surge in severe lung infections.

On the streets of New York, people seemed relatively unconcerned, in sharp contrast to Mexico City, where soldiers handed out masks.

Hong Kong, shaped by lasting scars as an epicenter of the SARS outbreak, announced very tough measures. Officials there urged travelers to avoid Mexico and ordered the immediate detention of anyone arriving with a fever higher than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit after traveling through any city with a confirmed case, which would include New York.

Everyone stopped will be sent to a hospital for a flu test and held until it is negative. Since Hong Kong has Asia’s busiest airport hub, the policy could severely disrupt international travel.

The central question is how many mild cases Mexico has had, Dr. Martin S. Cetron, director of global migration and quarantine for the Centers for Disease Control, said in an interview.

“We may just be looking at the tip of the iceberg, which would give you a skewed initial estimate of the case fatality rate,” he said, meaning that there might have been tens of thousands of mild infections around the 1,300 cases of serious disease and 80 or more deaths. If that is true, as the flu spreads, it would not be surprising if most cases were mild.

Even in 1918, according to the C.D.C., the virus infected at least 500 million of the world’s 1.5 billion people to kill 50 million. Many would have been saved if antiflu drugs, antibiotics and mechanical ventilators had existed.

Another hypothesis, Dr. Cetron said, is that some other factor in Mexico increased lethality, like co-infection with another microbe or an unwittingly dangerous treatment.

Flu experts would also like to know whether current flu shots give any protection because it will be months before a new vaccine can be made.

There is an H1N1 human strain in this year’s shot, and all H1N1 flus are descendants of the 1918 pandemic strain. But flus pick up many mutations, and there will be no proof of protection until the C.D.C. can test stored blood serum containing flu shot antibodies against the new virus. Those tests are under way, said an expert who sent the C.D.C. his blood samples.

Reporting was contributed by Sheryl Gay Stolberg from Washington, Jack Healy from New York, Keith Bradsher from Hong Kong and Ian Austen from Ottawa.

A version of this article appeared in print on April 27, 2009, on page A1 of the New York edition.

Mexico City becomes 'strange zombie city'

Swine flu: Mexico City becomes 'strange zombie city' as residents hide behind doors
The normally bustling streets of Mexico City were virtually empty yesterday, with millions preferring to stay in their houses rather than risk contagion from the killer swine flu.
By Ioan Grillo in Mexico City
26 Apr 2009

A mixture of fear, suspicion and frustration set in across the country as the death toll from swine flu rose and the government took an increasingly tough position to stop it spreading.

Many of those who did venture out wore the blue face masks that were being handed out by soldiers at check points along the main avenues.

New Zealand students 'highly likely' to have swine flu "It's like we're in a strange zombie movie or something," said Gerardo Garcia, a 23 year old student, hurriedly stocking up with groceries.

"You don't know who could be carrying this plague so it is best to just keep behind closed doors as much as possible."

A shutdown of all schools, universities, museums and theatres was extended to bars and discos, which the government decreed they could forcibly close if they did not shutter their doors voluntarily.

Sunday Masses normally celebrated by millions in this strongly Roman Catholic country were also cancelled - the first such closure since Mexico's religious wars of the 1920s.

Health workers on the ground were overwhelmed with people reporting the key symptoms of the epidemic such as coughs, aching muscles and diarrhoea - although many may have had traditional forms of flu.

In total, 1,300 people were fighting the virus in hospital beds across Mexico with as many as 81 people dying of the disease.

Feelings of anxiety also swept through the 1,000 strong British expatriate community in the city.

Bar owner Umair Khan, 35, of Wembley, London, said he was getting increasingly worried seeing how events were developing.

"Originally, I wasn't in a major panic. But now that everything is shutting down it shows how serious it is," Khan said. "I have been here for 11 years and I have never seen anything like this."

Mr Khan said he shut his business - A British-style pub called the Black Horse - on Saturday after the government decree.

"It's a loss of money but you can't be angry about it," he said. "The last thing I would want is for someone to die after getting sick in my bar."

School teacher Gavin Judd, 38, from Birmingham has also been given a holiday from work.

"My plans are to avoid to going out as much as possible," he said. "If this is serious enough for the government to shut my school then I think it is a very real threat."

Mr Judd said he had no immediate plans to leave Mexico City, but said he will go if the government continues the school shut down until the end of the summer.

However, some others were taking the threat less seriously.

Hugh Carroll, a 56 year old investment broker from Glasgow, said he was unconcerned about the virus.

"I'm not worried in the slightest. It's probably been over exaggerated," he said. "Most people here don't trust what the Mexican government say and I don't believe them either."

Mr Carroll said he had not heard the declarations from the World Health Organization. He planned to go out and meet friends as usual.

Some Mexicans shared this disbelief, alleging it could be some kind of government conspiracy.

"It's probably all just made up to keep our minds off the global recession," said Roberto Santino, a 60-year-old building site foremen.

"Our government has been using these tactics for years."

Mr Santino claimed new government powers to fight the virus - including the power to search suspects and houses - were just an excuse to trample on people's rights.

Another conspiracy theory was that warring drug cartels, who killed eight civilians in a grenade attack in September, could be behind the misery.

"Who knows what is going on. Are the narco cartels using a secret weapon?" asked Lionel Trujillo, a 42-year old salesman, nervously fingering a surgical mask covering his mouth and nose.

Those at health centres showed more frantic worry.

At the Santiago Acahualtepec public clinic in Mexico City's working class Iztapalapa neighbourhood, a queue of patients, mostly clad in face masks, packed out the waiting room and stretched into the street.

"My daughter started showing signs of the sickness overnight - her temperature has shot up and she has been in a lot of pain," said Maria Angeles Garcia, a 33-year old teacher, waiting anxiously to be seen. "I am just praying that she does not have this plague."

New U.S. swine flu cases spread pandemic fears

New U.S. swine flu cases spread pandemic fears
2 cases found in Kansas and 8 more likely in NYC
April 25, 2009

At least two cases of the human swine influenza have been confirmed in Kansas and one more in California, bringing the U.S. total to 11 and stoking fears that the virus could trigger a pandemic.

At least eight students at a New York City high school probably have swine flu, but health officials said Saturday they don’t know whether they have the same strain of the virus that has killed scores of people in Mexico.

A strain of the flu has killed as many as 81 people and sickened more than 1,300 across Mexico. The World Health Organization chief said Saturday the strain has “pandemic potential” and it may be too late to contain a sudden outbreak.

Kansas health officials said Saturday they had confirmed swine flu in a married couple living in the central part of the state after the husband visited Mexico. The couple, who live in Dickinson County, were not hospitalized, and the state described their illnesses as mild.

Dr. Jason Eberhart-Phillips, the state health officer, said, “Fortunately, the man and woman understand the gravity of the situation and are very willing to isolate themselves.”

The man traveled to Mexico last week for a professional conference and became ill after he returned home. His wife became ill later. Their doctor suspected swine flu, but it wasn’t confirmed until flu specimens were flown to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

NBC News has also learned there are suspected cases in Minnesota.

Puzzling differences across border

Swine flu is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A flu viruses. Human cases of swine flu are uncommon but can happen in people who are around pigs and can be spread from person to person. Symptoms of the flu include a fever of more than 100 degrees, body aches, coughing, a sore throat, respiratory congestion and, in some cases, vomiting and diarrhea.

Health officials are puzzled over why the swine flu engulfing Mexico been deadly there, but not in the United States?

Nearly all those who died in Mexico were between 20 and 40 years old, and they died of severe pneumonia from a flu-like illness believed caused by a unique swine flu virus.

The 11 U.S. victims cover a wider age range, as young as 9 to over 50. All those people either recovered or are recovering; at least two were hospitalized.

"So far we have been quite fortunate," said Dr. Anne Schuchat of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Saturday, just hours before three new U.S. cases were confirmed.

Still, it may be too late to contain the sudden outbreak, warned the CDC, which has stepped up surveillance across the United States. "We are worried," Schuchat said.

“We don’t think we can contain the spread of this virus,” said Schuchat, interim deputy director for the Science and Public Health Program. “We are likely to find it in many other places.”

Health experts worry about a flu that kills healthy young adults — a hallmark of the worst global flu epidemics. Deaths from most ordinary flu outbreaks occur among the very young and very old.

They are also concerned because people appear to have no immunity to the virus, a combination of bird, swine and human influenzas. Also, the virus presents itself like other swine flus, but none of the U.S. cases appears to involve direct contact with pigs, said Eberhart-Phillips, who called the strain “a completely novel virus.”

“It appears to be able to transmit easily between humans,” Eberhart-Phillips said. “It’s something that could potentially become very big, and we’re only seeing, potentially, the very beginning of a widespread outbreak.”

Specialty drug maker Baxter International Inc. is working with the World Health Organization to develop a vaccine.

New York health officials said more than 100 students at the private St. Francis Preparatory School, in Queens, had come down with a fever, sore throat and other aches and pains in the past few days. Some of their relatives also have been ill.

New York City Health Commissioner Thomas Frieden said nose and throat swabs had confirmed that eight students had a non-human strain of influenza type A, indicating probable cases of swine flu, but the exact subtypes were still unknown.

Samples had been sent to the CDC for more testing. Results were expected Sunday.

Parent Elaine Caporaso’s 18-year-old son Eddie, a senior at the school, had a fever and cough and went to a hospital where a screening center had been set up.

“I don’t know if there is an incubation period, if I am contaminated,” Caporaso told the Daily News. “I don’t want my family to get sick, and I don’t want to get anybody else sick.”

The symptoms in the New York cases have all been mild, Frieden said, but the illnesses have caused concern because of the deadly outbreak in Mexico.

Frieden said that if the CDC confirms that the students have swine flu, he will likely recommend that St. Francis Preparatory remain closed on Monday “out of an abundance of caution.”

“You could say, 'All you’ve got is a lot of kids with mild illness. Why close a school?”’ Frieden said.

One factor, he said, is that the illness appears to be moving efficiently from person to person, affecting as many as 100 to 200 people in a student body of 2,700.

“We’re very concerned about what may happen,” he said, although he noted that the pattern of illness appeared different from in Mexico, where much larger groups of people have become much sicker. Overall, flu cases have been declining in the city in recent weeks, he said.

“If we were to see, as they have in Mexico City, a large number of people becoming seriously ill with flu, that would be a very different situation from what we have now,” he said.

New York Gov. David Paterson on Saturday directed the state Department of Health to mobilize its infectious-diseases, epidemiology and disaster preparedness workers to monitor and respond to possible cases of the flu. He said 1,500 treatment courses of the antiviral drug Tamiflu had been sent to New York City.

The city health department has asked doctors to be extra vigilant in the coming days and test any patients who have flu-like symptoms and have traveled recently to California, Texas or Mexico.

Investigators also were testing children who fell ill at a day care center in the Bronx, Frieden said. And two families in Manhattan had contacted the city, saying they had recently returned ill from Mexico with flu-like symptoms.

Frieden said New Yorkers having trouble breathing due to an undiagnosed respiratory illness should seek treatment but shouldn’t become overly alarmed. Medical facilities in the part of Queens near St. Francis Prep, he said, had already been flooded with people overreacting to the outbreak.

Texas school closing

The Texas health department announced Saturday that Byron Steele High School in Cibolo, near San Antonio, will temporarily close as local health and school officials work to keep the virus from spreading.

Swine flu was confirmed earlier this month in two students from the school, and a third student is listed as a probable case with confirmatory lab test results pending. The original two have recovered, and the third is recovering.

"The purpose is to reduce the risk to students, staff and the community," said Sandra Guerra, M.D., the public health authority for Guadalupe County, Texas.

Past flu pandemics


The Spanish flu pandemic that started in 1918 was possibly the deadliest outbreak of all time. It was first identified in the U.S., but became known as the Spanish flu because it received more media attention in Spain than in other countries, which were censoring the press during World War I. The 1918 flu was an H1N1 strain — different from the one currently affecting Mexico and the U.S. — and struck mostly healthy young adults. Experts estimate it killed about 40 to 50 million people worldwide.


The 1957 pandemic was known as the Asian flu. It was sparked by an H2N2 strain and was first identified in China. There were two waves of illness during this pandemic; the first wave mostly hit children while the second mostly affected the elderly. It caused about 2 million deaths globally.


The most recent pandemic, known as the Hong Kong flu, was the mildest of the three pandemics this century. It was first spotted in Hong Kong in 1968 and it spread globally over the next two years. The people most susceptible to the virus were the elderly. About 1 million people are estimated to have been killed by this pandemic, an H3N2 flu strain.

Health Officials Say 8 NYC Students Had Swine Flu

Health Officials Say 8 NYC Students Had Swine Flu
By Rob Stein
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, April 25, 2009

New York City Health officials reported today that at least eight students at a private high school had "probable" swine flu.

About 200 of the 2,700 students attending St. Francis Preparatory High School in the Queens borough of the city missed school earlier in the week due to fever, sore throats and other flu-like symptoms, prompting school officials to notify the health department.

Investigators interviewed more than 100 students and their family members. All had mild symptoms and none were hospitalized, but some family members had developed similar symptoms, indicating their illness had spread in the family, according to Health Commissioner Thomas Frieden.

A preliminary analysis of viral samples obtained from nose and throat swabs from nine affected students found that eight tested positive for influenza A. Because none matched the known H1 and H3 subtypes of human flu, they were considered "probable cases of swine flu," Frieden said. The samples have been sent to the CDC for further analysis. Those results were expected on Sunday. If the tests come back positive, officials plan to ask that the school remain closed on Monday, Frieden said.

"We're concerned," Frieden said. "When we see the serious cases in Mexico, and we see it spreading fairly rapid in one school. It's a situation that has to be monitored very carefully."

The health department had sent out an alert to all doctors and hospitals throughout the city to be on the look-out for more cases, and were monitoring a citywide surveillance system for any alarming increase in respiratory illnesses, Frieden said. So far no increase had occurred, but officials were continuing to monitor the situation. Officials were also investigating a cluster of illness at a daycare center in the Bronx, he said.

"We're just going to have to take this hour by hour and day by day and see what develops as we go forward," he said.

The St. Francis students had just returned from spring break, during which time some may have traveled to Mexico, he said.

Health officials advised anyone who developed similar symptoms to stay home and seek treatment, and residents to take precautions such as washing their hands and avoiding close contact with sick people.

Texas family quarantined

Sat April 25, 2009
Texas family quarantined after son contracts swine flu

Story Highlights
Texas teen is one of eight in U.S. diagnosed with swine flu
Teen's family ordered to stay away from public
Dozens in Mexico have died from same strain of swine flu found in U.S.
Officials say new strain has resisted some antiviral drugs

(CNN) -- As Hayden Henshaw was being rushed to the doctor's office after becoming ill, his father heard that his son's classmates had been struck with the deadly swine flu virus like the one sweeping through Mexico.

Swine flu commonly affects pigs and occasionally infects people in contact with pigs.

Patrick Henshaw called his wife immediately to have Hayden checked for it. Later, they received the bad news.

Hayden had become the third confirmed case of swine flu at his Texas high school. It is a virus that has killed 68 people in Mexico and infected at least eight people in the United States.

Health officials arrived at the Henshaws' house Friday and drew blood from the whole family, then told them to stay inside and away from the public, Henshaw told CNN.

The whole family is quarantined indefinitely, according to CNN-affiliate KABB. Henshaw said his family was shocked when they got the news about their son.

"Stunned. My wife was having a panic attack," Henshaw told the affiliate.

U.S. health officials have expressed concern about U.S. cases of a swine flu virus that has similar characteristics to the fatal virus in Mexico.

More than 1,000 people have fallen ill in Mexico City in a short period of time, U.S. health experts said.

"This situation has been developing quickly," Richard Besser, acting director of the Atlanta, Georgia-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said Friday. "This is something we are worried about."

Besser said all of the eight U.S. patients have recovered. Watch for more on the U.S. cases »

New York health officials said Friday they were testing about 75 students at a school in New York City for swine flu after the students exhibited flu-like symptoms this week.

A team of state health department doctors and staff went to the St. Francis Preparatory School in the borough of Queens on Thursday after the students reported cough, fever, sore throat, aches and pains.

Test results are expected as early as Saturday.

The new virus has genes from North American swine influenza, avian influenza, human influenza and a form of swine influenza normally found in Asia and Europe, said Nancy Cox, chief of the CDC's Influenza Division.

Swine flu is caused by a virus similar to a type of flu virus that infects people every year but is a strain typically found only in pigs -- or in people who have direct contact with pigs.

There have, however, been cases of person-to-person transmission of swine flu, the CDC said.

CNN's David Alsup contributed to this report.

Swine Flu Outbreak Caused By Old Bug

Swine Flu Outbreak Caused By New Variant of Old Bug
By John Lauerman and Jason Gale

April 26 (Bloomberg) -- International health officials are wrestling with how to respond to a swine flu from Mexico that’s infecting people, causing a range of illnesses, and even death.

The World Health Organization called the outbreak a “public health emergency of international concern” yesterday, and as many as 81 deaths in Mexico were linked to the virus, normally transmitted among pigs. Eleven cases in California, Kansas and Texas, all of them mild, have been connected as well. At least eight students in New York are being tested for whether they match the Mexico strain, while 10 students in New Zealand are “highly likely” to have swine flu, officials said.

Fears of a lethal pandemic lie in the nature of flu germs, which mutate readily and can become virulent by exchanging genes with related influenza viruses. While the H5N1 bird virus that spread across Asia in the last few years, killing millions of fowl and several hundred people, never gained genes to spread easily among humans, the Mexican swine flu already has, said Malik Peiris, a microbiologist from the University of Hong Kong.

“The concern is that this virus has the ability to transmit from humans to humans because a number of the cases who got infection have had no direct exposure to swine,” said Peiris, who has studied the SARS and avian flu viruses. “That is certainly a cause for concern.”

Health officials said they are trying to determine how the virus gained its ability to infect and spread among humans.

Swine-Flu Emergency

Mexican President Felipe Calderon declared a swine-flu emergency, giving him powers to order quarantines and suspend public events in the nation, where 1,324 patients are hospitalized with flu-like symptoms.

Authorities closed schools until May 6 in Mexico City and the states of Mexico and San Luis Potosi, where infections have been concentrated, and canceled most public and official activities.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an Atlanta-based agency, is leading the search for more cases than the 11 it has confirmed as of yesterday.

The latest U.S. tally includes two adults residing at the same address in Dickinson County, Kansas. Neither of the patients was hospitalized, the state’s health department said in a statement on its Web site yesterday. One is still ill and being treated, and one is recovering, it said. One of the patients had recently traveled to Mexico, flying in and out of Wichita, according to the statement.

New Zealand Students

Ten New Zealand high school students who returned from Mexico are “highly likely” to have swine flu, Health Minister Tony Ryall said today in a phone interview.

The students don’t have “severe” symptoms and most already appear to be recovering, Ryall said. The students and their families are being isolated in their homes, and the families are being treated with Roche Holding AG’s Tamiflu, Ryall said.

Japan began screening for fever in travelers returning from Mexico fevers, the country’s health ministry said in a statement yesterday. A British Airways Plc crewmember was hospitalized in north London with suspected swine flu after arriving yesterday on a flight from Mexico City. Tests showed he doesn’t have the bug, Agence France-Presse said, citing a hospital spokesman.

France is investigating two suspected cases of swine flu in travelers recently returned from Mexico, AFP said, citing a senior health official. A spokeswoman for the Health Ministry declined to comment when contacted by Bloomberg News.

Pandemic Threat

Outbreaks in Mexico and the U.S. warrant an urgent assessment of its potential to spark the first influenza pandemic in 41 years, the WHO said yesterday. The Geneva-based United Nations agency held an emergency meeting and found that more evidence is needed to determine whether the level of pandemic alert should be increased, it said.

The WHO’s pandemic threat level, a six-stage measure, is currently at 3. Evidence of increased human-to-human spread of a new virus would move it to level 4, according to the WHO Web site.

Health officials in the U.S. are asking both doctors and patients to be on the lookout for suspicious cases of flu. The lung virus normally causes symptoms such as coughing and sneezing, and can also bring on muscle and joint aches, headaches, and even diarrhea and vomiting, according to the CDC.

At a time when scientists can tailor drugs to match a patient’s genetic profile and people live longer than ever, the flu, first described by Hippocrates 2,400 years ago, still has the power to make millions bed-bound for a week and kill the very young, the elderly and those weakened by chronic disease.

The CDC estimates the germ is linked to more than 30,000 U.S. deaths annually.

New Viruses

In most cases, adults can resist succumbing to flu viruses that are identical or very similar to those they’ve been exposed to before. “New” viruses that the human immune system hasn’t seen earlier are the most dangerous, because they can overwhelm the body’s defenses.

Flu germs are classified by two proteins, one known by the letter H, for hemagglutinin, and the other N, for neuraminidase. The Mexican swine flu is an H1N1 flu, the same subtype that caused the pandemic of 1918. Many less-dangerous descendants of that virus are seasonal H1N1 viruses circulating worldwide today, scientists said.

The dominant form of flu circulating in the U.S. in the most recent flu season was an H1N1, said Frederick Hayden, professor of clinical virology at the University of Virginia Health Sciences Center in Charlottesville. That suggests that people who got this year’s flu vaccine, which gave protection against the H1N1 virus, might also have some protection against the swine flu, he said.

1976 Swine Flu

“We need to take the (blood) of individuals who got last season’s vaccine and see whether there’s any evidence of cross- reactivity for this new strain,” he said in a telephone interview. “We need to do the same thing with patients who have had recent infection with the human H1N1 strain.”

The CDC is conducting studies now that might show whether seasonal vaccination might protect people against swine flu. It’s also possible that people who were vaccinated in the 1976 swine flu outbreak, which many flu experts believed was the beginning of a pandemic at the time, are protected, he said.

Vaccine makers are taking the initial steps toward making shots against swine flu. Baxter International Inc., a maker of both seasonal and pandemic vaccines, has requested samples of the swine virus for laboratory testing, said Christopher Bona, a spokesman for Deerfield, Illinois-based Baxter. GlaxoSmithKline Plc, based in London, has had conversations with WHO’s flu division that’s responsible for distributing flu virus samples to drugmakers, said Deborah Alspach, a spokeswoman.

Other companies that make flu vaccine include Novartis AG, of Basel, Switzerland, and Sanofi-Aventis SA, of Paris.

Roche’s Tamiflu

Roche Holding AG, of Basel, has an ample supply of Tamiflu, which can reduce the symptoms of swine flu. Roche has donated a “Rapid Response Stockpile” of 5 million treatment courses to the WHO that’s on 24-hour stand-by to be sent around the world, said Terence Hurley, a spokesman for the company. No request has been made to deploy the stockpile, he said in an email.

Glaxo also has ample supplies of its inhaled Relenza antiviral, which also appears to be effective against the swine flu in CDC tests, Alspach said.

The virus has already evaded the first line of defense that health officials had hoped to use against a pandemic. International flu experts preparing for a pandemic had planned to contain the initial outbreak of a new, lethal strain of flu. The swine flu virus has already spread so far in Mexico and the U.S. that the containment strategy is out of the question, said Anne Schuchat, interim deputy director for science and public health programs at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Atlanta-based U.S. agency.

“We don’t think we can contain the spread of this virus,” she said yesterday in a conference call with reporters.

To contact the reporter on this story: John Lauerman in Boston at; Jason Gale in Singapore at

As watchdog warns of bailout fraud

As watchdog warns of bailout fraud
Obama meets with bank, credit card executives
By Barry Grey
24 April 2009

President Barack Obama met Thursday at the White House with executives of major banks and credit card companies amidst growing public anger over sudden increases in interest rates and fees, in many cases by companies that have received billions of dollars in taxpayer bailout money.

Obama, who pledged during his presidential campaign to curb abuses by credit card firms, was silent on the issue until last week, when media reports emerged detailing how firms were doubling and tripling their charges to customers, including those with good credit who had remained current on their payments.

These reports coincide with others showing that banks that have received cash, cheap loans and debt guarantees from the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) and other government programs are ramping up home foreclosures while continuing to reduce lending. First the Bush and now the Obama administration have defended the transfer of public funds to Wall Street as the only means of ending the credit crunch and resulting recession.

Trillions have been pumped into the banks, but the recession has deepened, unemployment has soared and millions of people have been thrown into poverty and homelessness. The banks have used the bailout money to bolster their balance sheets and generate profits by speculating on turbulent financial markets and by finding ways to cash in on the collapse in home prices. They have intensified their assault on the working class, slashing hundreds of thousands of jobs, driving people out of their homes and raising the cost of credit upon which most Americans depend to pay their bills.

They adamantly oppose even the most modest restrictions on their activities, including certain limits on executive compensation, enhanced power of bankruptcy courts to alter mortgage terms for distressed homeowners, and laws that would restrict their ability to arbitrarily increase charges on credit card holders.

Obama’s White House meeting was typical of his public relations efforts to placate public opposition while taking no serious measures to rein in the banks. Participants, besides Obama and his top economic aides, included executives from Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, US Bancorp, Visa, Mastercard, Capitol One Financial, American Express, Discover Financial Services and several other firms. Also present was the president of the American Bankers Association, which is lobbying against congressional bills that would curb abuses by credit card issuers.

Following the closed-door meeting, Obama told reporters, “We’re confident we can arrive at something that is commonsensical.” Seeking to reassure the bankers, he added, “We want to preserve the credit card market but we also want to do so in a way that eliminates some of the abuses and some of the problems that a lot of people are familiar with.” He did not say which abuses would be allowed to continue.

One indication of the seriousness of the administration’s effort was provided by Lawrence Summers, the director of the White House’s National Economic Council. According to reporters, he dozed off during Obama’s brief remarks to the press.

Executives leaving the meeting said it was “constructive.” They are confident that they will succeed in blocking passage of a bill, dubbed the “Credit Cardholders’ Bill of Rights,” that is moving through Congress. On Wednesday the bill was approved by the House Financial Services Committee, but a Senate version is opposed by Republicans on a party-line basis and by some Democrats, all but insuring its defeat.

The banks and credit card companies maintain that legislation is not necessary since the Federal Reserve has already announced restrictions on interest charges and fees. However, those regulations are not slated to take effect until July of 2010, giving the banks ample time to ramp up charges in advance of the new rules.

Earlier on Thursday, the special inspector general appointed to monitor the TARP program testified before the Joint Economic Committee of Congress and indicated that the bailout program is rife with conflicts of interest and fraud.

Neil Barofsky, a former prosecutor, told the panel that he had already initiated 20 criminal investigations into securities fraud, insider trading, collusion, price-fixing, money laundering and other illegal activities in relation to the government bailout. He suggested that there would be many more probes.

On Monday, Barofsky released a 250-page report to Congress on the TARP program in which he decried the refusal of the Treasury Department, despite his repeated urgings, to require firms that receive taxpayer handouts to report on how they are using the government money. He noted that the Obama administration has signed off on another $30 billion for the insurance giant American International Group (AIG), which had already received some $150 billion, without any requirement that the company explain what it has done with its bailout money.

The TARP program, he wrote, which began as a $700 billion plan to purchase toxic assets from the banks, has morphed into twelve separate programs involving more than $3 trillion in government cash, loans and loan guarantees—an amount roughly equal to the annual federal budget.

In his report and in his congressional testimony, Barofsky focused on the new bailout program detailed on March 24 by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. He warned that the “Public-Private Investment Program” (PPIP), under which Wall Street investment firms will be given low-cost government loans and guarantees against losses to purchase toxic assets from the banks at inflated prices, was “inherently vulnerable to fraud, waste and abuse.”

He said that the program, which is to be run by the private firms, with between two-thirds and 92.5 percent of the funding provided by the government, had “significant issues relating to conflicts of interest facing fund managers, collusion between participants, and vulnerabilities to money laundering.” He urged that the program not go forward without the addition of serious safeguards against fraud.

In his testimony before the Joint Economic Committee, Barofsky said that the program was designed so as to allow the private fund managers to set the price for the securities purchased from the banks. “This is a lot of economic power given to a small number of fund managers,” he said. He pointed out that fund managers would likely be buying the same mortgage-backed securities they had in other accounts, giving them an incentive to pay inflated prices and thereby increase the value of their previous investments, which they could subsequently unload at a huge profit.

“The banks will also make a huge profit,” he said. “And when the securities go back to their real market price, the taxpayer will pay the loss.”

He also warned that the incorporation of the Federal Reserve’s Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility (TALF) into the Public-Private Investment Program added another level of potential fraud. Investment firms running Public-Private funds would be able to borrow additional money under the TALF program.

That program, using $80 billion in TARP funds to leverage $1 trillion in Fed loans, was initially designed to subsidize the issuing of new securities backed by consumer loans. Now it is to be used to subsidize the purchase of existing toxic asset-backed securities on the banks’ books.

He decried the fact that the Federal Reserve was relying on credit rating agencies to rate the toxic assets to be purchased under TALF and the PPIP, noting that the same agencies had contributed to the financial collapse by giving dubious mortgage-backed securities their highest rating.

In effect, he suggested, the program would enable the banks to offload the worst of their bad debts, generating massive profits for Wall Street and huge taxpayer losses.

Asked at the hearing whether there were any provisions in the TARP bill passed last October that required banks to report on their use of bailout money, he said, “No.” Without fundamental changes in the structure and management of the bailout programs, he said, there would be “potentially catastrophic taxpayer losses.”

Barofsky was asked about a report published that morning by the Wall Street Journal citing testimony by Bank of America CEO Kenneth Lewis that Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and then-Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson pressured him to conceal the dire financial position of Merrill Lynch last September, when the Bush administration engineered the takeover of the investment bank by Bank of America. Merrill Lynch lost more than $15 billion in the fourth quarter of 2008, liabilities that led to a government bailout of Bank of America last December.

Barofsky said that his office was investigating the Bank of America takeover of Merrill. He listed six audits he was conducting, including, besides the Bank of America deal, the use of bailout funds, compliance with executive compensation limits, external influences, AIG executive bonuses, and AIG counterparty payments.

The latter concerns the fact that AIG has used its government bailout funds to pay off banks and other firms that had entered into credit default swaps with the insurance giant at 100 percent of the face value of the deals, rather than forcing its counterparties to accept reduced payments.

One such deal that is ripe for criminal investigation involves Goldman Sachs, former Treasury Secretary Paulson and the current CEO of AIG, Edward Liddy. It has emerged that Paulson, who was CEO of Goldman before becoming treasury secretary under Bush, designed the AIG rescue so as to allow AIG to funnel $13 billion in bailout money to his former bank. He picked Liddy, a former board member of Goldman, to become the new CEO of AIG. Liddy, meanwhile, retains an investment of more than $3 million in Goldman Sachs.

Obama’s treasury secretary, Geithner, was president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York at the time and played a critical role in designing and implementing the TARP program and the bailout of AIG. That neither he, nor Obama, nor the Democratic-controlled Congress has any intention of implementing the changes proposed by Barofsky was underscored by Geithner’s testimony Tuesday before the Congressional Oversight Committee for TARP.

Although Geithner’s appearance occurred the day after Barofsky released his report to Congress and the day it was released to the public, none of the committee members raised it. Geithner, for his part, announced that the “vast majority” of banks were more than adequately capitalized, stressed that banks shown to need more capital by government “stress tests” would have many options for raising money, in addition to government purchases of their stock, and warned Congress against placing new requirements on bailed out firms.

His testimony was taken as a pledge that the Obama administration would continue to run interference for Wall Street and shield the wealth of the financial elite. It sparked a 127.8 point rise in the Dow, with bank stocks recording double-digit gains for the day.

From 'Wrestler' to 'Warrior'

Apr 27, 2009
From 'Wrestler' to 'Warrior': Bethesda lands Mickey Rourke for 'Rogue Warrior'

Oscar-nominated actor Mickey Rourke will lend his vocal talents to Bethesda Softworks as the lead character in upcoming first-person shooter Rogue Warrior, says the publisher in a statement.

The game -- based on a series of books by former Navy SEAL Richard "Demo Dick" Marcinko -- is slated for release this fall.

Rourke will voice the role of Marcinko, the leader of an elite Navy SEAL unit who must disrupt a suspected ballistic missile program in North Korea.

On the game's official Web page, Bethesda says Rogue Warrior will differentiate itself in the crowded FPS arena by introducing a freeform battlefield, where players can freely complete missions any way they choose, " rather than heavily scripted events and tightly contained spaces traditionally used in this genre." Bethesda also says the game will include a Brutal Kill system with 25 fatal attacks.

The game will be available on PC, PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360.

Top Democrats Complicit In Torture Cover-Up

Top Democrats Complicit In Torture Cover-Up
The Obama administration is resisting an independent inquiry into the Bush torture program because top Democrats like Pelosi were complicit in approving illegal methods
Paul Joseph Watson
Friday, April 24, 2009

We now know why top Democrats are protecting Bush administration officials from facing an inquiry into the illegal torture program - because several of them were actually complicit in giving their approval for such methods to be used.

The White House stressed again yesterday that it would not be pursuing an investigation of key Bush administration officials, despite the manifestly provable fact that the order to torture came from the very top, which was re-affirmed with the recent release of the Senate Armed Services Committee report.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs stated yesterday, “I think the last few days might well be evidence of why something like this would likely just become a political back and forth.”

“By (definition), an independent commission would probably not be something that I would weigh in on if Congress were to create one of those,” he told reporters, according to AFP.

Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid also said he opposed an independent torture probe, stating, “I think it would be very unwise, from my perspective, to start having commissions, boards, tribunals, until we find out what the facts are.”

In addition, upon the recent release of the torture memos, Obama’s right-hand man, chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, told ABC News that top Bush administration officials “should not be prosecuted either and that’s not the place that we go.” Obama’s statement that accompanied the release of the torture memos stated, “In releasing these memos, it is our intention to assure those who carried out their duties relying in good faith upon legal advice from the Department of Justice that they will not be subject to prosecution.”

Why are top Democrats so vehemently opposed to an independent inquiry into the blatantly illegal Bush torture program? This goes further than the crony self-interests of the two party monopoly - it turns out that top Democrats had foreknowledge of the torture and actually provided their unmitigated approval for the methods when presented with them by the CIA.

Despite Nancy Pelosi’s denial that Congress was informed that the CIA was illegally waterboarding detainees, the Senate committee report discovered that in 2002 Pelosi and three other members of Congress (one other Democrat and two Republicans) were given a virtual tour by the CIA of overseas detention sites and the torture tactics employed to try and make detainees talk. This was reported by the Washington Post in December 2007.

Democrats Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) and Sens. Bob Graham (D-Fla.) and John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.), all held oversight roles during this period. The Post reports that the lawmakers raised “no objections” to the interrogation methods demonstrated by the CIA and that in fact, “at least two lawmakers in the room asked the CIA to push harder.”

So in summary, at least four top Democrats were aware as far back as 2002 that the CIA was using torture tactics which were illegal under the Geneva Conventions on detainees. They gave their approval for such measures and, along with Republicans, advised that even harsher torture methods be employed.

Any independent investigation into the torture scandal will most probably uncover the fact that top Democrats like Pelosi, Harman, Graham and Rockefeller were complicit in approving the torture methods used by the CIA, which would also likely make them culpable to charges on the basis of knowingly covering up the fact that illegal actions which violate both the Geneva Conventions and the U.S. Constitution were taking place.

This is why Obama, Pelosi and the rest of the Democratic elite are so resistant to prosecuting Bush officials for devising the torture program - and have made every effort to protect them - because they were in on the fun and any truly independent inquiry would expose the fact that this whole debacle was a bipartisan cover-up from the very beginning.

Food Freedom is under Assault

Food Freedom is under Assault, H.R. 759 Worse than H.R. 875
Friday, April 24, 2009
Ethan Huff, citizen journalist
Key concepts: Food, Food safety and Freedom

(NaturalNews) Salmonella outbreaks, food contamination, and other regulatory deficiencies over the nation's food supply during the past several years have led to a barrage of proposed legislation aimed at improving food safety. H.R. 875, H.R. 759, and H.R. 1332, are three major bills that have been proposed in recent months to address food safety issues, all of which have been tailored to benefit large, industrial food processors at the expense of small, family farms. Watchdog groups, including the Cornucopia Institute, are warning that H.R. 759, expected to be voted upon before Memorial Day, is the bill most likely to make it out of committee to Congress for a vote. Various portions of H.R. 875 and H.R. 1332 are expected to be implemented within the final version of H.R. 759.

Authored and introduced by Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) on January 28, 2009, H.R. 759, The FDA Globalization Act, would do the very thing its name implies; it would grant full authority to the FDA to set minimum, "science-based" standards for what it deems the safe production and harvesting of produce in the "global market".

According to the Cornucopia Institute, all "food processing facilities", or farms, would be required to register with the FDA and pay annual registration fees for program compliance, as well as other requirements including hazard evaluation, preventive hazard control, and copious record-keeping stipulations, regardless of the farm's size, organic certification, or already-existing safety guidelines.

Similar to H.R. 875, H.R 759 makes no differentiation between "food processing facilities", lumping everything from a small, certified-organic family produce farm to a large, conventional factory farm in its "one-size-fits-all" classification system. In other words, the same regulations placed on large agribusiness would be placed on farmers providing fresh vegetables at the local farmers market. There is also no differentiation in the bill between organic farms, which are already highly regulated and have extremely high standards, and their pesticide-ridden conventional counterparts.

Rather than logically evaluating the root causes of food contamination, which are almost always caused by filthy food processors not maintaining proper standards, these "food safety" bills seem to economically disparage family farms in favor of factory farms and transfer ever-more control over food to the FDA, an odious federal bureaucracy that is unable to enforce the food safety guidelines that are already established.

With the exception of H.R. 875, the food safety bills that have been proposed fail to identify and examine the real causes of food contamination and, instead, tack excessive burdens onto farmers, thus putting many small farms out of business. Even H.R. 875, while mentioning the importance of "identifying and evaluating the sources of potentially hazardous contamination," represents an enormous shift in power from the individual to the state, representing ominous implications for food freedom.

Since foods such as spinach, peppers, almonds, peanuts, and others for which there have been recent contamination outbreaks are not inherently dangerous, it is vital for any food safety legislation to seek to identify the root causes of contamination and deal with them accordingly. Whether it is the filthy animal feedlot up the road that has contaminated with salmonella the water used by the nearby spinach farm, or the improper cleaning of peanut-processing equipment by the industrial peanut processor, the contamination source is virtually never the farm itself, but some other link in the food processing chain. Yet H.R. 759 targets farms with more regulation, particularly disadvantaging small farms. Thus it is important to make Congress aware of the facts and to urge a redirection of food safety efforts towards the real culprits rather than the farmers.

Since H.R. 759 has been referred to, and remains in, the House Energy and Commerce committee, it is important to act now and en masse to oppose it and any food safety legislation that would harm organic and family farms, increase FDA power over the nation's food supply, and bolster Big Agribusiness by squelching competition with one-size-fits-all regulations aimed at putting out of business small farms.

Additionally, any true food safety legislation should require independent analysis into the root causes of food contamination rather than penalize the "food processors" (farms) with overbearing regulatory burdens while allowing the real perpetrators to continue their unacceptable practices.

Henry Waxman (D-CA), Chairman of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, can be contacted at (202) 225-2927. Congress can also be contacted by calling the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121.

The Cornucopia Institute also provides a sample letter that can be downloaded, modified, and sent to one's elected officials.

Now is the time to speak out against illegitimate "food safety" bills in order to protect access to clean, healthy, local food, not to mention the freedom to grow it, sell it, and buy it.