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(2001 Thread) Plane just crashed into the world trade center - Page 9

post #241 of 331
Dear Mr. Cat. I knew most of that analysis, living, as I do, in the midst of an Arab sea. I have tried very often to explain to Americans about what I call "Arab" or -- to be more true to the meaning -- Middle Eastern mentality. Blood feuds and honor -- boy, do I know about those. Here, women have a LITTLE more respect, and there are women fighters among the Palestinian terrorists, for example. Bu this is a recent thing and still makes many men uncomfortable -- and I am including now most of the Jews -- about 60 percent of our population -- who originated in Muslim or Arab countries. Their interpretion of Judaism is reminiscent of all the things that fundamentalist Muslims espouse. Jewish far-right religious fundamentalists are every bit as fanatic as Muslim ones are, which is why, perhaps, that I don't hate the terrorists. We have a small percentage of people just like them. One such assassinated Rabin, and others take part in drive-by shootings to randomly kill Arabs. It is no consolation to me that there are fewer of them than there are terrorists in Arab countries. Terrorism has only one face.

I think the advice of Richard Kidd is really excellent. I hope he has at least the contacts to offer his advice to policy makers. NO one in the West understands the thinking of the Arabs.

And I don't mean that is a totally negative way -- that is, the thinking the "mentality" of Arabs. There are so many things about their culture which are admirable, that I am able to honestly admire them, for all we are often at cross-purposes because of our alien-ness to each other. I can never manage the courtesies with such grace. I forget anniversaries, I am uncomfortable when people load me down with gifts every time they see me - in their homes or mine -, I am doubly uncomfortable about the more traditional aspects of their treatment of women. But this, at least, is changing very rapidly here in Israel. When I first came, there had been only one girl who attended university here in the southern half of the country (that was 16 years ago). Then there was a second, and a few northern Arab (as opposed to Beduin) girls started to come down here to university. Now there are probably more Beduin and Arab girls than boys going to Ben-Gurion University -- and things are in such flux that they dress in a variety of levels of conservatism -- all the way from slightly long mini skits or shorts and shirts to full veils (here only the older women cover their faces, and even then it is nothing like the Taliban or Iranian bourkas). No one on campus takes any frustration out on them, and they are equally polite and mannerly. We could be moving about a university in western Europe, with all the troubles far, far away from us while we are on the campus. Strange.

Men are actually changing more slowly than women. But even the most conservative of our university students is a raving social radical compared to the rules Taliban women must follow.

Like our own fundamentalists, the Taliban and their ilk are somewhere back in pre-Dark Ages. God help us all if they should prevail in this world.

I think the things that stood out most from Mr. Kidd's letter was the advice to start ambitious projects in non-Taliban areas that would demonstrate the desire to give people employment and, by example, show them that Americans and other westerners are not Devils, but are truly concerned with everyone's welfare. And the other to just let Afghani wether be the policeman until next summer -- everybody take a time out rather than trying to pursue a real war through the winter. There is also he fact that from mid November to mid December, the country will be shut down anyway because of the snows. So, Mr. Kidd says, use that time to establish good relations, humanitarian projects, building projects -- maybe houses, schools, some hydro electric power or some other thing that might benefit people. And finally, his excllent idea to sow the seeds and the money to entice a Taliban supporter to kill off some of the worst of the Taliban leadership. One of Israel's best efforts in this direction was the assassination of a big terrorist leader living in Gaza. One of his own cousins gave him a get new portable telephone (which then blew up). If you must fight a covert war against people engaged in covert activities, then this last piece of advice from Mr. Kidd is very sensible.

In fact, I hate war and I hate hatred, and I hate seeing anyone die, including terrorists. But like during the second World War, sometimes there are only 2 answers to the problem of an enemy -- either you must let him take over your world and become your oppressor, or you must go at you enemy with everything you have in your arsenal -- including your moral and mental strength and your willingness to be in the struggle until it is finished.

It is almost 6 am and I have been working all night. So now I will lie down and then get up at 8 am and get back to work. I really have to finish this darned book index... I think it is going to be something like 30 pages of 9 point, 2 column, single-space type. At the moment I am on 20 pages...

post #242 of 331
Thank you for expounding upon that lengthy article by Richard Kidd. It all makes sense to me; and I'm glad to learn it strikes you in much the same way.

I'm of the belief that Colin Powell's influence in the present U.S.A. administration is a lighthouse of rationality in a sea of knee-jerk ultra-conservative Republicans. The "hawks" are critical of him, thankfully keeping their remarks out of the journalistic media, but they forget two things: (1) He's a military man, having been in combat in the Viet Nam War and having later risen to the ultimate U.S.A. military position of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and (2), he's the only member of the executive branch who knows what goes on in the world — and why. As long as Bush relies upon Powell, I think the anti-terrorism campaign will continue to a logical conclusion. If, however, Bush and his fellow oil millionaires decide to lock Powell out of the inner circle — well, let's just say we'd better head for the hills!

Now, here's something I've been meaning to ask you about. I've heard/read/seen a lot about the recent murder of an Israeli government official. What I found shocking was the man's total hatred of Palestinians. The present prime minister seems middle-of-the-road when compared to the fellow who was recently killed. Obviously, though, the same philosophy of hatred is present to some degree in the prime minister; and, as we're told via public-opinion polls that the majority of citizens there wish for peace, one wonders how such hate mongers end up in public office. What's the deal?

post #243 of 331
Hard questions. I can only answer them from my radical liberal base, but I will try to subdue a few knee-jerk reactions of my own!

Israel has been fighting terrorists, often funded by outside governments, since the turn of the last century. In the early days during World War I, both the Turks and the Germans AND the British and French used mutual suspicions and hatreds to keep area fomenting sufficiently to make it difficult for each other. There was, in addition to a natural Arab inclination to have strong love-hated emotions about their Turkish overlords -- (as well as a ready belief that better the "brother" Muslim you know than the western Christian infidel world you considered as totally alien and untouchable) -- than all the British gold and foreign promises that were then flooding the Middle East. Surprisingly, they were helped in their dislike of the Jewish enclaves in the Palestine area by a group of arabophile, anti-Semitic British army officers, who had their own method of trying to wean the Arabs away from the Ottomans. While the British government was trying to help Jews to develop a viable community in Palestine (remember your biblical maps -- this extended deep into what is now Jordan and up into central Lebanon -- ) , certain army officers were undermining their stated polcies. Hence the very erroneous concept that the British played both Jews and Arabs against each other, promising Palestine to both after WWI was over. In fact, it was primarily a question of some elements of the British army in the field saying that their own government REALLY believed something other than the policy statements, private and official letters, and and repeated orders to various British officers in the field to respond to official inquiries about their conduct. This has been recently documented in a book by a Prof. Isaiah Friedman, who has spent a lifetime searching out archival material down to memos and government and personal telegrams of the times, so I feel safe in stating uncategorically that the British supported a Jewish community in "greater" Palestine, as did the German goverments (under the Kaiser) and the Porte (the Ottoman gov.) prior to the propaganda necessities of WWI.

With me so far? What happened during the war was a growing awareness of an "Arab" ethnicity, but it could not, at that time, be called an real nationalist movement. Rather it was an effort by various tribal groups to become the supreme Arab power over the other groups. Sherif Hussein in the Hedjaz (now spread around part of Saudi and Jordan (and founding house of the present King Abdullah of Jordan), the al-Idrissi (their sworn enemies, now the Saudi royal family), the Damascan and Baghdadi sophisticates (rich families and the emerging "student" organizations), and all the various smaller tribes and extended wealthier families as far away as modern Iraq and the edges of Iran -- all had their own interest to fan hatred for the westerners -- political (their own ambitions about becoming supreme as the Ottomans looked more and more like losing the war, their intertribal hatreds handed down from literally centuries of blood-feuds, a strict, fundamentalist Muslim view of all non-Muslims as infidels and therefore sort of non-human...) came to become focused on the Jewish community -- in addition to their own traditional throat-cutting of tribal enemies -- since most Jews in Palestine of the time had come from the outside, western world. Ancient tolerance between Arabs and Jews became overriden by both religious and political reaction to western intervention.

So a long way to say that the occasion murders and violence against all westerners began quite some time ago, gaining momentum as the Middle East began to define itself as synomymous with "anti-western ." During the British and French occupation after WWI, westerners drew indelible lines in the sand -- here was Lebanon, here was Syria, here was Iraq, there the Arabian Peninsula -- Yeman held onto its tribal area, as did the several Emirates of the Gulf -- all tiny emirates or kingdoms held by very large tribal families. Smaller families were chunked together within the new "national" boundaries. The Beduin floated between them all, being primarily nomadic, several large tribes diding with the Jews in the war for independence, as they had been the mainstay of Jewish/Arab cooperation during the long period before Israel's independence. The Druze got divided between the new British Palestinian Mandate area (later to become Israel and Jordan), Syria, and the Lebanon (which was administered by France), and they are traditionally loyal to the government of whatever country they find themselves in -- historically they were a mercenary people who were known for their intense and absolutely trustworthy loyalty to their employers. In modern times this means that the Druze of Syria and more Syrian than the Syrians, the the Druze of Israel are totally Israeli. EVEN THOUGH they maintain ore private communication and inter-family loyalties with other Druze communities in other parts of the Arab world, keeping such ties open through intermarriages and other means. You may just their straigh-arrow loyalties, however, by the fact that Israeli security services -- the most suspicious in the world, perhaps -- never waste their time doubting them.

Then the second WW started, and Hitler found the still tentative objection to the small Jewish community a wonderful opportunity to endear the Arabs (whom he hated as non-Arian primitives) to his war effort by filling them with his own brand of anti-Jewish beliefs. This was the real rise of anti-Jewish terrorism in the area. It stimulated the formation of Jewish defense groups like the Hagana (later the Israel Defense Forces of today), and also of Jewish terrorist groups, the Stern and Irgun groups). Rabin and others still living and in politics today represent the Hagana traditions, while it should be said that Begin and Shamir were both relicts of the Stern and Irgun groups. These represent two diametrically opposite world views -- one more oriented to humanist and western ideologies, and the other more steeped in early Russian revolutionary approaches -- both overlaid with the heavy influence of the realities of living in the Middle East. In between, there was a tiny group of ultra-orthodox Jews -- some of whom had been in Palestine-Israel for more than 3 or 4 centuries, mostly in enclaves in Jerusalem and up in Safat near the Lebanon border. When Israel became independent, many of these communities refused to recognize the state, since it had been established by man instead of by the coming of the Messiah. Only in very recent years have they begun to teach themselves and their children Hebrew -- they have always spoken the Hebrew/European derived Yiddish, and in the "deeper" ghettos of their groups they still do. Most of the fundamentalists do not serve in the army and, like the Muslim fundamentalists, reject modern views of religion and "secular" hearesies. About 15 years ago, when I came here, they still formed a strong, anti-Israeli block, using Yiddish as their primary language, sequestering their private lives from the profanation of modern Jewish life and thinking, refusing for their sons (and most certainly, their daughters) to serve in the defense of the country -- and yet demanding to have primacy over religious and moral matters in the government. Ben-Gurion, in a fit of confused reverence, saw to it that they were designated the virtual owners of the Ministry of Religion, and often of education.

So, our two right-wing, anti-democratic strains come pretty directly from the minority old Jewish terrorist groups and the fundamentalist religious groups, as well as a strong element of agnostic Russian revolutionaries that pre-dated the communists (since they morphed here in the Middle East, and so tactics and ideologies got mixed with the middle-eastern mentality). The liberal, strongly democratic strains come mostly from western European, the Americas (north and south), and the British commonwealth areas. This is icture is a VERY simplistic one, but may tend to show something of the background for the two very different ways of approaching the continuing conflict with the Arabs.

There is, from our side, very little or even no religious prejudice against Muslims, even where some people are prejudiced about Arabs as such as terrorism from Arab groups increase. One of the first acts of the Israeli government was to ensure the Arabs their own school system and religious authority over their own people. Equally, two other school systems were set up -- one for the ultra-religious, and the other for the more secular Jews (a fourth is run by the Kibbutz movements). These persist to these days, and Arab religious law is recognized in all matters pertaining to strictly Muslim matters, except where it abrogates Israeli laws against stoning, burning, or murdering and so on. The lines get blurred here, since the police will not enter an Arab community and arrest pracftitioners of female circumcision (which, here is more of the Egyptian type and is horrible mutilating and painful) unless the girl comes to them with a complaint -- but such an intrusion would be carried out only with the cooperation of the Arab or Beduin police bureaus -- because it is what is termed a "family" matter and lies in the region of religious practice and ethnic custom.

But marriage, child custody, and divorce (as well as burial certification and burial areas) are all administered by the religious groups themselves -- which includes atonomy in these matters for the Christian and Druze communities.

So. our late Minister of Tourism. I do not know his roots, but I do know his kind. I did not vote for the present Prime Minister, but for the left-wing Meretz party (part of the liberal and center coalition of parties that was in power under Rabin and Peres and which endorsed Barak, only to see him sort of go off the rails...). Zee'evi's views were so like the rhetoric of the KKK and fascist and nazi eras, that it was a disgrace. But Israel does not have a single dominant party. Like post-war Italy, it is composed of many small parties -- some as small as a single leader and small community of followers. Membership in our single parliament (the Knesset) rests on the percentages -- a person becomes a member on less than 3% (I think it is still 1.2 percent, but it is supposed to eventually rise to a ceiling of 3 percent. Big deal!!) of the national vote, which gives very small parties the right to participate in national politics. Zee'evi was one of a minority party that won two seats based on the percentage of the national vote. With so many parties, every government is faced with creating a coalition, and sometimes it becomes bizarre. Instead of a predominantly liberal or right-wing government, you have curious alliances in order for small parties to obtain much greater power (in the form of Ministries) that they could ever hope to gain in direct votes. Zee'evi, when he wasn't suggesting that all Arabs should be shoved out of the country (he was not an advocate of concentration camps or gasing, which, I suppose, must be a blessing), was, like the nazis, a rational, intelligent, organized, and respected person, and an excellent army officer during the war for independence and later. He was not anyone I would have wanted to call friend, but he was understandable as part of the founding generations and the terrible things it went through both in Europe and here. As Ministry of Tourism, he could be isolated, to some extent, from the more serious decision-making of the more mainstream thinking. It is a small country, and families tolerate the rantings of their members, often with more tolerance than they would any outsider.

Me, personally, I hated his views, was shocked when he was given a portfolio (the liberal wings would never have done it), and I am only sorry about his passing because it has created an opportunity for Sharon to settle a number of scores.

But some of those scores are quite rational -- the elimination of our own terrorist threats by systematically taking out those people we know for a fact have been involved in the bus and disco and market-place bombings and the training and sending of the young and stupid suicide bombers who just walk up to a bus stop and push the button. What I abhor about the right-wing is what I always have abhorred about them elsewhere -- the distance from my own lines where they are willing to risk killing non-involved civilians as acceptable "collateral" damage.

As to the support of peace, up to 70 percent of the population are for a peace treaty with the Palestinians. The Palestinians are always the ones to refuse to draft and sign a real peace treaty on this ground or that. So, technically, we are still, as a country, engaged in a legal war with them, since it was the Arabs who attacked Israel in the 1967 war. We have since made our peace with Jordan and Egypt in this matter, and have quite reasonable borders between us.

Jordan wouldn't take the Palestinians back when we signed a peace treaty with King Hussen (in Israel, we still call him "our" king), and Egypt didn't want Gaza back when we signed the peace with them. Most Arab countries literally hate the Palestinians, and treat them abominably when they are residing outside Palestine. The Palestinians, as one astute Arab scholar said, are the new Jews of the world -- reviled, distrusted, hated, and killed when possible -- by almost every group. As a Jew, I feel a creature sympathy for them, and I strongly support their obtaining their own state. But terrorism is another matter, and there I believe in extreme measures, whether it is a Jewish terrorist or Arab, or any other (the "Real" IRA, and so many other similar groups around the world). They are a plague that has only one simplistic and direct cure. If it were my own son or daughter involved, I would still believe that. mad dogs have to be put down, or normal people cannot survive.

But this odd portrait of Jews that people abroad have -- that because we have suffered for so any centuries from racial and religious persecution we must somehow be more tolerant and of careful of other people -- is just crap. There are, as in all countries, a very small percentage of truly disgusting and medievil people who are nazis and terrorists. They make noise far outweighing their numbers. For example, among the Palestinians, all polls (run by Arab academics -- not Israeli propaganda) show that a large percentage desire and support peace talks and an eventual peace. The numbers vary, as do those in Israel, with what is happening on the ground, but the basic instincts of both peoples is for peace. But the terrorists in their midst -- a very small active nucleus, supported materially by another small minority, and by a larger group who support their general pan-Arab sentiments -- are the tail that wags the Palestinian dog -- and also the Israeli dog, when you consider that a single suicide bombing seems to make certain Israelis to rush out with helicopters bristling with missiles. As if our government's policy is somehow dictated by actions taken by Hamas and Hizbollah and their ilk.

That's enough, right? Now, any questions on top of that, at least we have gotten the first 120 years of historical influences out of the way.

You pushed all my disgust buttons. so I am not immune to knee-jerk reactions. I get so angry at times with the stupidities and short-sightedness... But perhaps a perfect and benign world would just bore us all to death...

I pray for peace...and I pray for the Afghani people as they enter the winter months. They are the downtrodden in all this...
post #244 of 331
Thank you for your excellent summary of Middle East history! It seems, from reading your post, that terrorists rather than the majority of the citizenry determine government policy. Much the same phenomenon apparently obtains in Northern Ireland; and obviously the same holds true in the Arab and Persian states. One wonders if the U.S.A. will eventually develop a similarly-official vulnerability to terrorists.

I'm still wondering why there's no reported hue and cry in Israel and the Palestinian territories against those who foster the continuance of hatred, since obviously the majority of citizens in the Middle East wish for peace. All those religious nuts (and we've got some here in the form of the so-called "religious right") seem quite successful in establishing de facto theocracies in nominally-democratic states — exempli gratia, Israel and Northern Ireland.

It would seem the non-democratic states (every place in the Middle East apart from Israel) respond only to money, those having it being in control. The U.S.A. is, of course, run by money as well; and democracy is mere window-dressing to make us feel better! (One need look no farther than the last presidential election for an example of how things "work" here.)

The theocrats and the capitalists alike apparently count on apathy and perceived comfort-zones to keep the citizenry quiet, all over the world. Perhaps that has always been so and will continue to be so until the end of time.

post #245 of 331
Dear Mr. Cat, You wrote (among other things)--

---------------I'm still wondering why there's no reported hue and cry in Israel and the Palestinian territories against those who foster the continuance of hatred, since obviously the majority of citizens in the Middle East wish for peace. All those religious nuts (and we've got some here in the form of the so-called "religious right") seem quite successful in establishing de facto theocracies in nominally-democratic states — exempli gratia, Israel and Northern Ireland.---------------------

When you are in the middle of constant war jitters and heavy expenditure for weaponry and security, and everyone you know is in the army, it is rather difficult to get people to work up the energy to try to force the government to deal with all the social and diplomatic problems. For instance, since Israel has been at war since before it gained independence, we never stopped long enough to agree on a constitution. so we don't have one. Just a lot of customs and traditions of government inherited from the Ottoman Empire (pre-WWI) and the British Mandate (taking us up to 1949) with a series of "Basic Laws" that the supreme court persuades the Knesset to pass from time to time defining certain problem areas. These Basic Laws essentially take the place of an organized, well-thought out constitution. I find this appalling.

We also keep changing our election laws, since everyone here is an immigrant except the local Arabs and Beduin, and they never had a democracy or a constitution, so they don't have strong opinions on the matter. But imagine Russian politics, Bulgarian and Romanian politics, Italian, Spanish, Swiss, Danish, British, American, all the South American countries, most of the Arab and Muslim countries... It is surprising that anything at all is ever agreed upon.

The worst, to my mind, are the holdeovers from the Ottomans that form the basis of a legal system that still barely nods to British law (absorbed through the Mandate period) and German and American law (an indication of who the early immigrants were in terms of education and political drive) -- and some of the newer immigrants -- the Jews from Arabic countries, with their traditions (political -- otherwise they are a people with a rich and varied cultural contribution to make) who were born in countries that had (and still have, in most cases) totally invasive governments -- hence their general difficulty in understanding what a democracy entails.

Of course I speak of the older generations, since after two generations, the grandchildren begin to strike out in all directions and defy generalities, thank goodness. And of course the newest -- numbering almost a million within a 15 year span -- the immigrants from the old Soviet block -- in particular the USSR itself. To survive, people had to engage in all kinds of fiddling (their taxes, their secrecy, their suspicion of all things governmental or involving police or the law, and a terror of being shoved onto a kibbutz -- which they equate with the collective farms of the early Stalin in the Ukraine era). And time spent in the gulags or forced "exile" to Siberia or other remote areas brought them into friendships and cooperative relationships with another element similarly treated -- the infamous Russian "mafia." They brought a lot of trauma with them from the Soviet system, and it takes them some years before they overcome it and begin to flower.

But most of the Russians avoid politics in any form, or declaring their opinions, and they tend to vote in a big block in whatever way they are told by one of the earlier emigrants who heads the major ethnic russian political party. Perfectly reasonable and intelligent Russians have voted for both Netanyahu and Sharon in masses because the man running the Russian party told them it was the right thing to do. And this is the major reason that we have ended up with Sharon. Together with the settlers movement -- the ones who insist, for religious reasons, on living on Arab land in the West Bank and Gaza -- and the ultra- and fundamentalist religious factions (the very hard core of which is only about 13 per cent of the population at the moment), they can swing the vote. The first few years immigrants are here, they almost always hate Arabs. then they sort of unwind a little, but they still are too afraid of Arabs and of the constant terrorism to think rationally about the situation. Slowly, slowly this is changing, but meanwhile we have a sort of mess. Not that it is all the fault of the Russians, since we already had a full measure of the politically inept...

And on the subject of the Russians, they have also filled our hospitals with often excellent doctors and nurses, the universities with first-rate scientists and engineers, the schools with both superior teachers and with their bright, highly motivated, aggressive children, who are already seeing things from a light different both from their parents and what home-grown Israelis are willing to put up with. The real hope of the future will be when they begin to take hold as adults. Very shortly after they arrived, they established Russian language newspapers, humor magazines, ballet schools, and made massive contributions in both performing and teaching music. From a sort of hick middle-eastern third world musical attitude, the country has been galvanized by the Russians' dogged insistance on culture for their children, and on their determination to create institutions to teach the kinds of things they learned to value under the Soviets -- one of the really good and lasting legacies of the Soviets for whatever reasons.

I teach English to several russian teenagers (and one pre-teen), as well as help doctors get their certifications in English (required for their MD license and for raising status bydoing advanced studies in the States or traveling abroad to conferences and the like) -- my contribution to helping them get used to this new world and all its culture shocks. Every student I have had so far has been snapped up for a special technical high school program that prepars students for future studies and careers in a range of practical sciences -- an army program that will send the most promising all the way to their higher University degrees before their army service (whereas most Israeli kids go into the army from high school and only go to university -- if they are inclined -- after their service). The difference is not in native intelligence, but cultural emphasis on literature, excellence, university as a major educational goal, and on music training -- most of the kids are like the middle and upper classes in the States (or were in my day) -- instrumental lessons when they are young, special tutors for English and math, etc. The parents will work two or even three jobs between them just to make sure their kids are top of their class.

So all in all, if we survive these war years and are permitted by God and man to advance to the next level of political and social sophistication, the russian migration will prove to be an historical milestone.

Meanwhile, most of the government's funds go to keeping the army on high alert, supplying the entire civilian population with gas mask kits, and keeping the highways in first-rate condition (the deep road beds are necessary for the constant movement of tanks and other army vehicles on the roads). All energy, money, and emotion goes down this black hole -- and not just for us, but for the Palestinians as well, although a great deal of the actual money tends to make its way into the pockets of some elements of the Palestinian civil servants -- which is why the large number of investors )lined up by King Hussein and Clinton in the days when everyone thought there would be peace) simply stopped throwing money into the Palestinian Authority. Unfortunately, Arafat has never been able to control the graft and corruption or much else. Indeed, if he really tried, he might well end up dead, and he knows it. Hamas is one of the major players, and they have bloody hands.

So, a long answer to a short question. Let's move on to other subjects. Like does Afghanistan have any cats? If so, what kind? How do they treat them...? Or other exciting topics.

post #246 of 331
Once again, thank you for your insights into what's going on in Israel (and environs)! I feel like I'm enrolled in a correspondence course, with you as the teacher — and for this I am grateful.

<---- Mind, I'm sure this isn't a very good likeness!

post #247 of 331
my cats are my life... and so are my horses. - By Jack the Cat 2001
post #248 of 331
my dad was killed in these attacks... please let nothing like this happen again.....
Jack the cat
post #249 of 331
I'm very sorry to learn your father has passed away. Please accept my condolences. I hope you're finding the strength to cope with that awful tragedy. Best wishes to you and yours!

post #250 of 331
We are all part of the universe, and the universe is eternal and infinite. Be comforted. The whole world wept with you and yours.

post #251 of 331
New York Times

On Many Fronts, Experts Plan for the Unthinkable: Biowarfare

October 23, 2001


Protection against biological and chemical attack was never very high on lists of national priorities - until the days after Sept. 11, when it collectively occurred to Americans how vulnerable they were.

An envelope that might (or might not) be filled with ominous powder, the possibility that someone might slip across a border with a jar of viruses, the impossibility of guarding every subway entrance and roof ventilator against a terrorist with a spray can: "In these times," said Dr. Frank Bia, an expert on infectious diseases and microbiology at Yale, "the unthinkable has become thinkable."

Here are assessments of the nation's ability to defend itself against germ warfare from a variety of perspectives, covering what has been done, what is being done, where gaps remain, what might be done to fill them - and how quickly.

Knowing the Enemy

The current warning system for a bio warfare attack consists of Americans themselves - people who might show up at the doctor's office with a skin lesion or flulike sniffles and fever.

By then, it may be too late in two ways. The deadly infection or toxin may have already spread through the body. And, it is too late to protect others; the exposure would have happened hours to days earlier.

The ideal would be something like a smoke detector, continually sampling air and sounding an alarm when something dangerous is found.

But biological agents are far more difficult to identify than chemical ones like nerve gas. "There are only a few kinds of chemicals," said Calvin Chue, a scientist at the Center for Civilian Biodefense Studies at Johns Hopkins. "With the biologicals, it's a different and complex story."

Even seemingly clean air contains billions of germs, and deadly bacteria often have harmless relatives. A detector would test thousands, if not millions, of samples. Not only would it need to avoid false alarms but also report the cases where a pathogen was indeed floating in the air.

"Some organizations we've talked to said, `We'd rather not have your system here even if it had a 1 in 10,000 chance of a false alarm,' " said Dr. Richard Wheeler, an adviser to the Energy Department's Chemical and Biological National Security Program.

The military has spent hundreds of millions trying to develop such detectors, with some success. But they remain expensive, bulky and not 100 percent accurate.

Similar technology for civilian settings is even further off. A Washington subway station has been outfitted with a prototype detection system designed to sound an alarm, identify a pathogen and tell response teams where the pathogens are.

But the system can detect only chemical toxins, not biological weapons like anthrax and smallpox. The eventual goal is to add those capabilities. Scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory have begun testing a system that is about the size of a lectern and collects air samples and runs them through a chemical analysis that would hook antibodies onto the pathogens and cause them to glow. That work is still at least a year from fruition.


Training and Talking

The response to confirmed anthrax cases in Florida, New Jersey, New York and Washington, is being viewed as a painful drill that has exposed gaping deficiencies in the country's ability to cope with bioterrorism. Experts on infectious diseases cited a number of areas that needed to be improved, including these:

• Training for doctors, nurses, police, firefighters and others in how to respond to bioterrorism emergencies.

• Expanding laboratory capacities to meet the surge in demand when thousands of specimens are sent for tests.

• Communicating crucial information to doctors better and faster so they can quickly treat infected patients and assure people who are worried but well.

• Finding ways for hospitals, which have cut costs by greatly reducing their number of beds, to open beds in an emergency.

"Our imaginations have not been broad enough," said Dr. Frank Bia, an expert in infectious diseases and microbiology at Yale. "When someone comes to the emergency room with something unusual, doctors must trust their instincts and sixth sense to make the pieces fit together."

Solving puzzling cases requires knowledge about exotic infections. But because anthrax and similar infections have occurred so rarely in this country, most doctors and nurses have, at best, only textbook knowledge about them.

Dr. Bia said the health system should tap the expertise of the many foreign doctors practicing in the United States who have treated anthrax in their native countries. "They are a resource right now," he said.

Health officials acknowledge that a major weakness in the response to anthrax has been the lack of effective communication.

Doctors often learn about new medical advances and refresh their memories about rare conditions in the conferences called grand rounds. But few hospitals have sponsored grand rounds on bioterrorism.

Dr. Stephen Baum, president of the Infectious Disease Society of New York, said he planned to hold such conferences at Beth Israel Hospital in New York City, where he is chief of medicine.

Last Thursday, an estimated 50,000 doctors, nurses and health workers viewed a teleconference on anthrax sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Those who saw the program applauded its quality. But others did not have the required computer connections.

The capacity of laboratories needs to be expanded to deal with bioterrorism, said Dr. Baum, a member of the committee.

He said there must be "a unified way" for firefighters, police officers and emergency medical workers to respond to ill patients and potentially infectious material.

Then there is the nitty gritty. At least twice in the anthrax outbreak, generators have failed at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, delaying the laboratory work needed to determine who was infected.


Seeking a Better Vaccine

While drugs are useful in treating infections by some potential germ agents like anthrax, vaccines are prized by medical experts because they can prevent infections altogether or, in the case of anthrax, work with antibiotics to combat an infection.

The present anthrax vaccine is not ideal - it requires six separate injections with an annual booster - and is in any case reserved for military use.

Only one company, BioPort of Lansing, Mich., is licensed to make anthrax vaccine. But BioPort inherited an antiquated plant that has had trouble meeting Food and Drug Administration standards. Because of these problems, BioPort has been unable to make any vaccine since 1998.

A new anthrax vaccine is being developed by the DynPort Vaccine Company under contract to the Department of Defense.

Last week the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention applied for permission from the F.D.A. to use the stockpiled military vaccine for anyone allergic to antibiotics or who failed to respond to them in the event of anthrax exposure.

"Not only would some people be given just the vaccine but it might be something used in combination with antibiotics," said a spokesman for the C.D.C.

Military doctors who have considered the threat of deliberately spread anthrax concluded several years ago that people who may have been exposed to the spores should both take antibiotics and be vaccinated.

In a 1999 article, two military medical experts at the Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, Dr. Theodore J. Cieslak and Col. Edward M. Eitzen, recommended that everyone exposed to anthrax in a bioterrorism attack should be given the antibiotics ciprofloxacin or doxycycline and that in addition, "exposed persons should be immunized." At least three doses of vaccine should be given, they wrote, before stopping the antibiotics.

But the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, a group of outside experts that advises the C.D.C. on vaccine use, concluded in December that a sustained course of antibiotics was the best protection for people who might have inhaled spores, and that vaccination was not necessary.

"You can do pretty darn well with antibiotics alone," said Dr. Charles M. Helms of the University of Iowa, a panel member. "Particularly if you have limited doses of vaccine to offer, there is no reason to get hung up on the issue of using both."

But Dr. Helms said there was always the risk that bioterrorists "would recognize the usual antibiotic and may create an antibiotic-resistant strain." He added, "I think we should clearly have more vaccine available.â€

Health experts also worry that large- scale use of antibiotics will hasten the rise of antibiotic-resistant diseases.

Another advantage of a vaccine is that it would allow people to quit the 60-day course of antibiotics much sooner than otherwise.


Antibiotics and Antitoxins

Even as government and industry are working to increase production of known treatments for potential biological weapons like smallpox and anthrax, scientists are trying to develop additional weapons.

For anthrax in particular, scientists say they have promising ideas. But, they say, the work is in its earliest stages and is far from producing a new drug that could be tested in humans.

One idea is to find an antitoxin, a molecule that neutralizes the toxins produced by anthrax bacteria. Since it is the toxins, not the bacteria themselves, that kill, antitoxins could block the germs' effects.

Dr. R. John Collier, a professor of microbiology and molecular genetics at Harvard Medical School, and his colleagues started on this path several years ago, and now have two possible compounds that might work. They are nowhere near ready to give the compound to people and, as with all new drugs, there is a good possibility that they will either be too toxic or too ineffective for human use.

One antitoxin acts like a decoy, attaching itself to sites on cells where active anthrax toxin binds and then combining with normal active forms of the toxin and inactivating them. The investigators began by testing the decoy toxin in rats, which die in 90 minutes if they are injected with the lethal anthrax toxin. But when Dr. Collier and his colleagues inject the rats with a mixture of one part decoy toxin to four parts active toxin, the rats "survive with no symptoms," Dr. Collier said.

The group also has a compound that blocks the last step in the assembly of the anthrax toxin - a seven-sided structure that assembles on the surface of a cell and then delivers the toxins into the cell. This antitoxin sticks to the heptagonal anthrax toxin and prevents it from delving into the cell. The researchers tested it with the same sort of rat tests, with the same results, Dr. Collier said.

Another line of research involves a new type of antibiotic against anthrax bacteria. It was discovered by Dr. Lucy Shapiro, a Stanford microbiologist, and Dr. Stephen J. Benkovic, a chemist at Penn State, and their colleagues, who initially had no intention of going after anthrax. Instead, Dr. Shapiro said, they were designing a drug to inactivate a crucial enzyme used by so-called gram negative bacteria, a class that does not include anthrax. The made six new drugs, and all worked against gram negative bacteria in laboratory experiments, wiping out gram-negative bacteria that cause the diseases brucellosis and tularemia. Both bacteria are considered potential germ warfare weapons.

Then, Dr. Shapiro said, the group tried their antibiotic on gram positive bacteria, which do not have the enzyme the drugs were made to attack. They expected that the bacteria would be impervious. But, she said, "to our astonishment, it hit anthrax and multidrug resistant strep and staph." She said she had no idea why the drugs worked against these microbes.

Dr. Shapiro stressed that the work was just beginning. "If I were to give odds, I would say we have a 10 percent chance of getting all the way to an antibiotic," she said. "We are just now making enough to treat a rat. We are three years from availability if everything worked."


Messages, and Missteps

It is an axiom of public health that sound science and good medical care are essential to controlling outbreaks of disease. But anthrax has demonstrated that other things are equally important: strong leadership, and a clear public relations strategy.

As Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in a recent interview, the anthrax scare, in which relatively few Americans have actually become sick, has been "high on terror, but low on biomedical impact."

Curtailing that terror is essential. In any outbreak, public health officials need people to follow their directions on such issues as, for example, taking antibiotics, being vaccinated or remaining where they are rather than fleeing, possibly spreading deadly germs as they go. The way to obtain the public's cooperation, experts say, is simple: by delivering accurate information, even if it might be scary.

"Leaders may feel that they are under a lot of pressure to deliver the message, `Don't worry,' " said Dr. Monica Schoch- Spana, a medical anthropologist at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Civilian Biodefense Studies. "Quite frankly, we would all love to have the message, don't worry, if we felt it really was grounded in honest to goodness truth. But because we can't have that ideal state, the next best thing is honesty."

In a bioterrorist attack, of course, government leaders must chart a delicate course.

"The main message in bioterrorism is that the government is putting the right programs in place," said Dr. Margaret A. Hamburg, a former New York City health commissioner. "But that is not a message that is very satisfying."

With anthrax, there have been missteps. On the day the public learned that a Florida man had been diagnosed with inhalation anthrax, for instance, Tommy G. Thompson, the secretary of health and human services, suggested that the man may have contracted the disease by drinking water from a stream.

The facts later proved Mr. Thompson wrong, causing some public health experts to fear that the public would lose faith in him and the federal government.

Another problem has been a lack of centralized information; because local public health officials typically control their own outbreak investigations, information - and misinformation - has come from various corners of the country. Self-proclaimed experts have dominated the airwaves, confusing reporters and, hence, the public.

"One of the lessons drawn from Florida is that the first thing Americans need to hear is a voice that speaks from knowledge, not hyperbole," said Amy Smithson, a bioterrorism expert at the Henry L. Stimson Center, a nonprofit research organization in Washington.

"Because so many Americans have now heard conflicting things, they are confused and they are frightened. And that is understandable."


Air Pressure and Fine Filters

Buildings are usually regarded as places of refuge, but under many circumstances, a germ attack indoors is likely to be far more dangerous than one outdoors.

Fortunately, say experts on building design and bioterrorism, many measures are available to make buildings much less susceptible to such attacks. They largely involve ventilation and filtering systems, but also include recommendations on surveillance and emergency planning. Further protections are being intensively studied.

"A terrorist would need far less to have the same effect" in a building than outdoors, said Dr. Anthony Policastro, a mechanical engineer at Argonne National Laboratory with expertise in bioterror. But indoors, he emphasized, the degree of danger can be greatly reduced.

Experts distinguish between attacks that originate outside a building and migrate inside and those that start inside.

When the attack begins outside the building, the experts say, among the most important measures is "positive pressure." That means adjusting the ventilation system so that the interior pressure is slightly higher than in the surroundings.

"This requires only a modest-size blower at the normal air intake to the building that makes sure that any leakage of air in the building is out rather than in," said Dr. Richard Garwin, a physicist and bioterror expert at the Council on Foreign Relations.

But the intake must be monitored so a terrorist does not introduce a biological or chemical agent into it directly. The intake should also be filtered with what are called high-efficiency air, or HEPA, filters, he said.

Related measures are available against an interior attack, although "a release inside the building is more difficult to respond to," said Jan Walker, a spokeswoman for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency at the Pentagon.

The research agency, which is in the middle of a three-year project called the immune building program to make military buildings resistant to germ and chemical attacks, is working on technologies to sense and destroy those agents before people in the building are even aware they are present.

But experts also know how to prepare buildings and respond to attacks inside them to reduce their lethality. HEPA filters are available commercially.

If installing those filters is not possible, said James E. Woods, founding director of the HP-Woods Research Institute in Herndon, Va., then filters should at least meet the standards of the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers. Mr. Woods said such filters remove even very small particles, like those that carry anthrax, with up to 90 percent efficiency.


Calling on Germ-Busters

One way to cut the risk of contamination from anthrax or other biological material arriving in a letter is to sterilize it.

This would never be practical for the entire annual flow of hundreds of billions of letters in the United States, postal officials said. But it could easily be done for a company or institution with some basis for concern - say, a television network or the White House.

Last week, government health officials began contacting companies that routinely sterilize everything from bandages to the tops on whipped-cream spray cans to see if the equipment could be used to kill bacteria or spores in mail flowing to vulnerable government offices.

One senior health official, speaking only on the condition of anonymity, said the inquiries began at the request of White House officials. The White House itself refused to comment. "We don't discuss any specific security measures," Ann Womack, a spokeswoman, said.

Experts said an iron or microwave oven would not have enough energy to kill the durable spores of anthrax, which can stay dormant for a century or more in the soil.

But various devices can easily do the job, almost all of which use high-energy electrons or cobalt, cesium and other sources of radiation to penetrate material and destroy the DNA of any organisms. Experts noted that electronics or floppy discs could be ruined by the high-energy beams.

Also, most of these systems have not been tested to ensure they can destroy the anthrax bacterium. They do routinely kill other bacteria and spores that are just as hardy, including those that cause botulism, said Dr. James S. Dickson, the chairman of the microbiology department at Iowa State University.

Some manufacturers incorporate the systems on assembly lines making sterile products. Johnson & Johnson, for example, keeps Band-Aids germ-free this way.

There are also dozens of free-standing sterilization centers, including several large ones a short drive from Manhattan in New Jersey, that can handle shipments of mail, company officials said.

Last week, officials at a variety of companies that provide sterilization services or machines said they were assessing whether there might be a new, if unwanted, market.

"I wish I lived in a world where this doesn't happen, but if it does, there is equipment to deal with it," said Yves Jongen, the founder and chief research officer of Ion Beam Applications, based in Belgium with American headquarters in Chicago.


Defending the Travelers

A central challenge facing emergency planners is reducing the risk of a biological attack exploiting the country's web of transportation links.

Airports and subway, train or bus stations - with crowds of travelers bound for many destinations - provide ready-made dispersal systems for biological agents, terrorism experts say.

Ways to prevent that from happening are keeping the air clean, devising detectors to pick up promptly any hints of a release and having the ability to shut down the system at the first sign of a problem.

On planes, at least, the air is far cleaner than it used to be. Since the early 1980's all commercial aircraft have used extremely fine filters to clean recirculating air - with filter pores small enough to capture almost everything 0.3 microns or larger. Individual anthrax spores measure one to three microns across.

Most illnesses caught on planes are caught from an adjacent passenger, not from floating pathogens circulating in the cabin, said Dr. Jolanda N. Janczewski, the president of Consolidated Safety Services, which advises airlines and other businesses on ways to prevent disease transmission.

Strategies for cutting terrorism risks in subways are being tested.

Cheryl Johnson, a spokeswoman for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, said officials planned to use some of the new technologies, including chemical sensors and computerized alert systems, in a simulated subway attack later this year.

The last line of defense is to make sure that a transportation system can be quickly shut down to prevent dispersal once a release has been identified. The Sept. 11 attacks showed that the Federal Aviation Administration could rapidly stop air travel, and most subway systems, including the New York City system, can be stopped almost immediately from a central control room.



Copyright 2001 The New York Times Company

post #252 of 331
There are some more useful links from CNN, Mr. Cat....
(BTW,G'day...I am a 'Newbie' here !)

For an Emergency Safety Kit :


Preparing for Terrorist Attacks :


I hope the above are useful.Oh,Mr. Cat, I do also read the NYT as well as heaps more.You'll see me post more 'opinions',as well as 'relevant' links as I get up to speed !
I am honored to be in this forum,with INFORMED folks.Heh (why I use the term 'slaying dragons' in another thread referring to another forum where there is a certain mentality...nuf said.)

post #253 of 331
Welcome and thank you for the very informative and useful links! I'm glad you find this thread helpful, vis-a-vis the posting of sober articles written by professionals and intelligent reflections upon the situation by board members who have something of value to contribute. I know I'm constantly violating nettiquette by posting entire articles rather than links (you do it properly), but that's just me!


post #254 of 331
Originally posted by Mr. Cat
Welcome and thank you for the very informative and useful links! I'm glad you find this thread helpful, vis-a-vis the posting of sober articles written by professionals and intelligent reflections upon the situation by board members who have something of value to contribute. I know I'm constantly violating nettiquette by posting entire articles rather than links (you do it properly), but that's just me!


You are welcome.
...nothing like slaughtering bandwidth,eh?

Seriously,you give credit where credit is due.It saves some time posting the article as opposed to the link.I just give links mostly so people can decide if they want to actually read it ,or not.No worries,it is a personal pref sort of thing.

Glad to be here.
post #255 of 331
Dear Graybeard & Mr. Cat -- I don't know how much these long informational articles or even our continued interest in the continuing saga of the bin Laden hunting exercises is to the rest of the folk on this site, who, after all, are here because of cats. (Does bin Laden like cats? Perhas boiled....) Now, that was unfair. Surely he has SOME redeeming virtues.

Anyway, I would like to continue keeping tabs on the breaking news, but perhaps most folk on TheCatSite would prefer it done elsewhere? Or perhaps the moderators would set up a special niche for serious world affairs stuff? Or somewhere to just blow off steam about the war?

We can always start a private discussion on the e-mail...

I personally find the background information and technical stuff on the bio-chemical stuff extremely interesting. But of course that is probably why (in addition to my native curiosity about everything) I like to keep tabs on the latest information on what we might get thrown at us here. I don't know why I am so interested in self-survival, but there it is.

--(in the Middle East, we say: "Name the Devil, and up he pops...")-- On the other hand, I know it makes a lot of people nervous to even "name the devil." Much of the world is still trying to absorb the initial, appalling attacks on New York and Washington DC, let alone cope with the realities of suddenly finding ourselves in the middle of a B- or C-level science fiction horror movie.

Graybeard -- checked out your website. Lots of great pictures, and the humor pages -- well. Some were a bit raw, but the rest were very apt. The camel-missle launcher, by the way, is actually one that came out during the Gulf War (with different titles). It related specifically to Saddam Hussein's inept attempts to hit something valuable with his scuds. By the way, breath doesn't have an "e" on the end (I breathe good air, your breath is bad... similar to the problems with cloth and clothe, or bath and bathe), and there should be a comma between it and the following word... My sister wrote me about the bomb school cartoon -- very, very good and yet sadly probably true. ---let me guess...ex-marine?

By the way, I just saw a documentary on cats as pets -- that people who own cats have lower blood pressure. Hmmm. If my blood pressure was any higher, I would be useful to someone as a missle launcher myself. And I have anywhere from 11 to 16 cats at any one time. Maybe it only works with ONE cat...

post #256 of 331
Quote by catspride:
Dear Graybeard & Mr. Cat -- I don't know how much these long informational articles or even our continued interest in the continuing saga of the bin Laden hunting exercises is to the rest of the folk on this site, who, after all, are here because of cats. (Does bin Laden like cats? Perhas boiled....) Now, that was unfair. Surely he has SOME redeeming virtues.

Anyway, I would like to continue keeping tabs on the breaking news, but perhaps most folk on TheCatSite would prefer it done elsewhere? Or perhaps the moderators would set up a special niche for serious world affairs stuff? Or somewhere to just blow off steam about the war?

We can always start a private discussion on the e-mail...

Ms. catspride...

I am a newbie here,but have been and are in quite a few forums.Generally,the forum involved delineates topics they allow members to post.I would imagine if a topic is inappropriate,taboo,or otherwise not acceptable that they would remove it.I came here for the PEOPLE,because I think they are of good cheer,intelligent,and articulate with their thoughts and views.The main focus here is of course,cats.However,this part of the forum is a 'Lounge',where many topic's and interests are pursued.I think if one is not interested in a particular topic,one need not participate or 'view' it.That is just my opinion.As for myself,this topic is very important and extremely relevant and pertinent to what is on my mind.Also the expression of free speech and the right to express myself is important.

I think it is important to remember that this is in the 'Lounge',where almost anything might come up !

I am glad for it.And thank you for the kind words for what the wife and I are putting together in our websites !As well as the Site for "Courage and Humour",there is a new site devoted entirely to kitty's...see my wife's (Lady Hawk) signature for the link.

(PS-just think what your blood pressure would be WITHOUT your companions !

post #257 of 331
Since this thread is a "sticky," meaning it automatically stays at the top of the forum, it's probably considered to be a vital topic by the webmaster (Anne). And, since its title announces its purpose, this thread can probably safely contain any and all articles/reflections upon all things generated by the 11 September 2001 acts of terrorism.

Your point, however, is well taken insofar as a recent thread of mine dealing with the U.S.A. government's errors in judgment regarding the announcing and/or witholding of "bad news" was met with criticism. Hence, I plan on confining my input about 11th September and related matters to this thread alone — unless somebody opens the door via a relevant thread or post elsewhere.

post #258 of 331
Well folks,I don't know about anybody else but I have found both comfort and education in this thread.

I have a far better understanding of both the USA and Israel and their peoples. I guess it's true that you never really know folks until you see them down. I'm proud to know such courageous folks from both countries.

I think this is one of the best uses for the internet..getting to understand others and respect them. Where else could an ol'truck driver take part in such discussions and be taken seriously?

Thanks Anne..for keeping this thread here.
post #259 of 331
Well, that's great. I am also learning a lot. Kittyfoot has touched on a truism that should make us all even more grateful for the e-mail and the internet and the initial anonymity.

In normal society, we probably wouldn't cross paths even if we lived in the same medium-sized town, unless we had happened to go to the same high school... Also, in normal society, people of different age groups don't mix, either. But here we are, fired by our mutual love of cats, and now by our mutual interest in the unfolding aftermath of the Sept 11 atrocity, and no one says that I'm too old to participate, or Kittyfoot, being a truck driver, can't be assumed to be as intelligent and interesting as he is, and that a former anti-war demonstrator and an ex-Vietnam vet, and whatever Greybeard and family are not able to enter dialogues and discussions with grace and good manners. -- civilized, I think one of our list called it.

Maybe that's the road to world peace! Maybe we should have a forum that is dedicated to facilitating peaceful solutions between countries and ethnic or religious groups, always with the proviso that if people aren't polite and civilized, the moderator will throw them off the forum. Maybe Israel and the Palestinian Authority, the Taliban and the Americans, the Indians and the Pakistanis, the Republican Army (so called) and the Real IRA (also so called), etc. could find a way to relate to diplomatic moves as one would to individuals met at a cocktail party, hidden by the anonymity of the electronic net as the Catholics are hidden from sight in the confessional.

Just an idea.

Now, I will NOT be participating so much for a few days or even a week or two, because I have had a miserable accident with my cats -- two anonymous cats, one who was sleeping on my bed, and the other who was coming in the window for snacks in the dark of the night. My face has been severely gashed -- two very deep cuts from my top eyelid down to the bottom of my upper lip, and one eye is presently bleeding (superficially, right now, so perhaps it will not be so serious), and I am having trouble focusing on the monitor. A good thing my profession makes me an expert touch-typist. So I may or may not feel well enough for a little while to sit up and use my eyes. Do you think God has decided that my face is abhorrent? Or perhaps he only wants me to count my blessings (which I sometimes forget to do)... Or perhaps one of my neighbors has cast the Evil Eye... In any case, what with the spider who bit me on the face at night just before Sept 11, a cat who dug a claw into (fortunately) the edge of my ear a week ago (just was startled and was trying to launch toward the top of the dresser), and now this incredible and impossible event (one of the cats slashed at the other and missed, and I was sleeping in the middle and woke up amost literally drowning in blood), I am beginning to get paranoid. I shall definitely move my bed to a more auspicious alighnment, or perhaps even move it to my computer room. I will have to meditate on it, and speak to the cats, and generally take stock.

I think I will get a neighbor (not one of the malevolent ones) to take my picture. This is really a sight to behold. I look like a movie dummy of someone who was supposed to be mauled by a tiger. On the other hand, cat scratches, even very deep ones, are so very narrow (more like razor cuts), that they tend to heal very nicely without scarring. And I will forget the junk the doctor gave me and put green olive oil and mashed up aloe vera pulp on the gashes, which should heal things more quickly.

Peace to everyone.
post #260 of 331
Catherine, I'm very sorry to learn of the accident involving you and the cats! I hope everybody and everything heals nicely. Of course, we shall miss you; but you must place health before, um, before whatever this is we do here.

post #261 of 331
New York Times

Government Clamps Down on Agency Web Sites

October 28, 2001


WASHINGTON, Oct. 27 - In the weeks since the terrorist attacks, government officials have been removing information from their agencies' Web sites on the Internet: the location and operating status of nuclear power plants, maps of the nation's transportation infrastructure and an array of other data suddenly deemed too sensitive for general consumption.

Their actions have touched off a difficult and growing debate about the balance between the public's right to know and the nation's heightened security needs in an era of terrorism.

Critics say the government is overreacting, restricting information needlessly and even removing information that would improve, not jeopardize, the public's safety, like details on environmental hazards that might be useful to local citizens.

"It's a balancing act," said Gary Bass, executive director of OMB Watch, a watchdog group that tries to increase the accessibility of government information, particularly on the environment. "I don't want to pretend that there's some bright line you can draw and say, `ah-ha, this is something that needs to be taken down, or kept up.' But in a democracy, you always need to err on the side of public information and the right to know."

Yet government officials say they are reacting to a different and more dangerous world. "Agencies are trying to do the right thing," said Rosetta Virgilio, a spokeswoman at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

The commission closed its Web site on Oct. 12 and has since returned a bare-bones version of it to the Internet. Like other agencies, the commission has formed an internal working group to review its public information for "anything that might be sensitive or might be helpful to adversaries," Ms. Virgilio said.

The Bureau of Transportation Statistics restricted access to its "National Transportation Atlas Data Base" as a "precaution" shortly after Sept. 11, said a spokesman, David Smallen. Mr. Smallen said of the map gallery, "We've not totally refused access to it, but we're judging requests on a case-by-case basis."

The Environmental Protection Agency, meanwhile, has removed from its Web site a database with information on chemicals used at 15,000 industrial sites around the country, reflecting the "risk management plans" the industry must file with the federal government under the Clean Air Act. Tina Kreisher, a spokeswoman for the agency, noted that these databases reflected the fears of an earlier era, "when Bhopal hit India, and people said, `Do I have a chemical plant near me that stores something dangerous I should know about?'"

This information is still available in government-run "reading rooms" around the country, officials said. But withdrawing it from the Internet has its critics. Mr. Bass argued that "the benefits outweigh the risks" in maintaining easy access to such data, saying that families have a right to know if their school or day care center is adjacent to a potentially dangerous chemical site. Moreover, he added, such information can be pieced together from many other sources, including the telephone book.

His group, OMB Watch, has continued to post "executive summaries" of those risk management plans on its Web site, part of what it calls RTK-Net, for "right to know."

"This is not an easy decision," Mr. Bass said. "We get hate mail. We get hate phone calls. It's amazing to say that, because for 12 years we've gotten accolades from presidents of both parties saying RTK-Net is wonderful."

Indeed, many people say they feel conflicted on this issue, regardless of their position. The Federation of American Scientists, whose Project on Government Secrecy was created 10 years ago to force more government information into the open, decided after Sept. 11 to remove data from its Web site on United States intelligence sites, nuclear weapon facilities and similar matters.

The decision was made to err on the side of caution, said Steve Aftergood, who founded the Project on Government Secrecy. "I have had to come to terms with the fact that government secrecy is not the worst thing in the world," Mr. Aftergood said. "There are worse things."

Still, many advocates of openness in government argue that officials are removing information indiscriminately from the Internet.

"The dismantling of these Web sites seems to have been done without much deliberation, and in more of a panic than a considered judgment as to whether or not the American public should be deprived of this information," said Paul K. McMasters, the First Amendment ombudsman at the Freedom Forum, a nonprofit foundation that promotes freedom of the press.

"It is precisely at such times that citizens have not just a right to know but a need to know," he added.

Senator Patrick J. Leahy, a Vermont Democrat who is chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and a longtime advocate of the Freedom of Information Act, said through a spokesman, "As agencies use the discretion they have on what information they put on line for the public, there also needs to be Congressional oversight to make sure that discretion is not abused."

Still, there will be pressure from Congress in the other direction, too - to ensure that agencies are exercising enough caution in what they make available on the Internet

All this is based on an assumption that may be faulty, many engaged in this struggle say: that information once available can later be restricted, that the toothpaste, in other words, can be put back in the tube, in the age of the Internet. "The answer is how in the world could we?" Mr. McMasters said. "And if we could, would we want to?"


Copyright 2001 The New York Times Company

post #262 of 331
Catherine, although you probably won't get to read this soon, I hope you heal quickly. Perhaps you should look into feng shui for your bedroom. Improper positioning the bed in relation to the door can cause your chi to drain out, or be less effective. Or so they say. I'm not sure I completely believe it myself.

To everyone else, I think this forum should stay the way it is. I am learning a lot, and it is a great way for us to air our feelings and opinions. Kittyfoot pointed out that it is the only way some of us would exchange opinions. At least in cyberspace we don't let our prejudices and misconceptions get in the way of clear communication. Not as much as in the real world anyway.
post #263 of 331
[We had a "sick" building here in Portland, Oregon (U.S.A.). It took a huge effort by many people to get the building's owners to fix the problem. Obviously, none of the owners worked in the building.]

New York Times

Design of Newer Buildings Reduces Bioterrorism Risk

October 29, 2001


The idea of protecting people in public and commercial buildings against a bioterror attack may conjure up 1950's-era pictures of students crouching under desks. But engineers and terrorism experts say advances in building design over the last 5 to 10 years have left the nation surprisingly well prepared to reduce the danger from insidious threats like airborne anthrax spores.

Those advances, many involving indoor air quality and energy efficiency, have grown out of mundane needs like filtering small particles from the air to prevent "sick-building syndrome" or reducing the amount of outdoor air that leaks inside and raises utility costs. Much more powerful technology is just beginning to reach the marketplace from military research programs that have focused on countering biological and chemical attacks.

"The way we design our buildings now, they're well built; they're tight," said Barney Burroughs, chairman of the committee that sets standards for ventilation filters at the American Society for Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, or Ashrae. "Commercial buildings have fine protection devices in them, because we are tempering the air."

Mr. Burroughs and others said, however, that the terror attacks could push building owners who have lagged behind those trends to meet or exceed recommended standards that do not generally have the force of law.

Though none of these changes can eliminate the threat entirely, more advanced and expensive technologies can push the level of protection much higher.

"We have a lot of information available that can assist any firms that would like to do this," said William Blewett, a mechanical engineer working on protection against chemical and biological agents at the Army's Edgewood Chemical Biological Center at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland.

Discussing the close connection between controlling indoor air quality and defending against bioterror "is something of a moral Catch-22 for us," said Jon Shaw, a spokesman in the Syracuse office of Carrier, the heating and cooling systems manufacturer.

"While there are ways that you can filter and catch small particles, to discuss how to do so publicly also creates an environment where you teach people how they can get around it," Mr. Shaw said.

But he said Carrier already marketed ventilation systems that maintained "positive pressure," or a slightly higher air pressure inside buildings than outside. Positive pressure can keep polluted air, or a cloud of a biological agent released outside, from entering a building without passing through its intake filters.

The company also markets things like high-efficiency particulate air, or HEPA, filters, that are continually irradiated by ultraviolet light. HEPA filters capture more than 99.97 percent of particles larger than half a micron, and ultraviolet light kills common bacteria, molds and fungi, as well as anthrax spores. A human hair is about 100 microns across.

Mr. Burroughs, who is also president of Building Wellness Consultancy Inc., said that even less expensive filters that met the latest Ashrae standards captured up to 95 percent of particles of five microns. He said many buildings still had older systems that captured less than 20 percent of those particles, adding that in the last decade "there has been a general upgrade across the board."

Efficient filters cannot prevent all exposure to a biological attack from within a building, as when people opened envelopes filled with fine powder contaminated with anthrax. But filters can stop the powder from spreading through the rest of the building through the ventilation system.

Measures that focus on thwarting biological and chemical attacks range from common-sensical and cheap to advanced and astronomically expensive, said Mr. Blewett of the Edgewood Chemical Biological Center.

He said, for example, that merely placing air intakes in new buildings high above the ground, in a protected area, went a long way toward protecting against one of the most feared types of attack, in which an agent is poured directly into the ventilation system.

The center's biological and chemical defense program has also outfitted about 200 buildings in the United States and overseas with elaborate ventilation and filtering systems to give nearly absolute protection against accidents or attacks.

Some of those buildings are schools, hospitals and jails near chemical depots, where accidental releases are a concern, and many are military installations that could be the target of attacks, Mr. Blewett said. Even so, he added, the users of those sophisticated systems faced some familiar problems. In some overseas military installations, he said, "they don't even do the routine maintenance, changing the dust filters."

Though many of those systems are very expensive, they are beginning to drop in cost and make their way into the commercial world, said Arthur Soma, product manager at Barnebey Sutcliffe, a company in Columbus, Ohio, that builds equipment for the program.

But Mr. Soma said the specialized nature of many of his projects, like a system at a county jail next to a chemical depot in Newport, Ind., made it hard to estimate costs in the marketplace.

The jail project, he said, not only required special filters but also bars over the ventilation ducts.


Copyright 2001 The New York Times Company

post #264 of 331
I had a strange thought today...I wonder how the terrorist idiots felt when they awoke in hell with Satan laughing his ass off???
post #265 of 331
I think they looked at one another, shrugged and said, "Well, at least it's dry heat."

post #266 of 331
I thought you might all enjoy seeing the following web-page...http://www.ishaah.com/Flag2.htm
post #267 of 331
I work in a federal gov't building in Canada. As America's closest allies there are times I fear retribution at my location as we are the regional headquarter building. They have enhanced security where anyone coming into the building has to go thru a security check point. This is a time of uncertainty. The only thing I am sure of is that freedom is worth any price. Men & women should have equal opportunities of education and work. To me freedom is equality.
post #268 of 331
That's the spirit AdyMarie, Just keep your eyes open and take all the good advice about opening letters. Not that that is the only way to spread anthrax spores... But I am in unreconstructed optimist in spite of all I have seen and experiences on the way to my gray hairs. And we do have to fight this strange war against the shadow play of terrorists. If we don't, they will gain and swell in numbers until they blot out our freedoms and the future of our children.

To my dear friends on this thread -- I see yet another specialist tomorrow about my eye, and I am, as usual, keeping my thoughts positive. By the way, not to endorse everything he says, I would like to send you a NYTimes article by Salman Rushie, if you haven't seen it. I will do it tomorrow, depending on how my eye interacts with my monitor.

Keep safe and responsible in these troubled times.

post #269 of 331
New York Times

When Bioterror First Struck the U.S. Capital

November 6, 2001


PHILADELPHIA, Nov. 1 - The nation's capital was struck by a plague so terrible that 10 percent of the population died in a matter of months. People panicked. Everyone who could fled the city. Politicians seized the moment to try to gain advantages over their opponents.

An instant book appeared and became an international best seller, snapped up by some who wanted to read the gruesome details of the disease and its accompanying social disruption, and by others who wanted to pore over its list of the dead.

The city was Philadelphia in 1793, and the disease was yellow fever.

No one knew where the illness came from or how it was spreading. No one knew the best treatment or how to clean up the city. It was a hemorrhagic fever, Ebola-like in many symptoms. And it was, in a way, a natural form of bioterrorism.

Now, researchers at the College of Physicians of Philadelphia have found a cache of letters and documents from that terrible time, written by historic figures like Alexander Hamilton and Dr. Benjamin Rush, a signer of the Declaration of Independence and a professor at what is now the University of Pennsylvania.

While the letters do not change the general picture of the epidemic, they offer new details and give the events immediacy.

Reading the letters, said Charles Greifenstein, the college's curator of archives, he felt "the vicarious archival thrill," adding "you can really feel like you're there, like you are part of the community."

In an odd twist, one of the letters - from June 1790 - describes a case of anthrax in a farmer, Nathaniel Browner. His doctor, Benjamin Say, writes that Mr. Browner had '`severe Chills" that were "followed by a violent pain in his head." He had a blister on his back, apparently caused by an anthrax infection of his skin, that was as big as a "garden sized pea" but grew until it was "about the size of a large hen's egg."

Dr. Say gave Mr. Browner poultices, complained that he was not called in early enough and asked two other doctors to consult. Then, said Mr. Greifenstein, the letter "just sort of ends." Dr. Say never tells whether Mr. Browner recovered.

The cache of letters had lain unnoticed in a locked drawer of a battered wooden box that looks like the slanted top of a lectern. It had been tucked into a corner of a vault on the second floor of the old brick building that houses the college. In June, needing storage space, Mr. Greifenstein decided it was time to throw the box away. He asked Leroy Green, the facilities foreman, to remove it.

"I was about to put it in the Dumpster, but I heard items moving around inside," Mr. Green said. He decided to break the lock on the drawer and investigate. To his astonishment, he saw a packet of yellowed papers tied with a string.

The 85 documents, dated from 1787 to 1889, included medical case studies, articles, meteorological data and letters. They are originals, Mr. Greifenstein concluded, after examining them and consulting other experts in the months since they were found. And the ones discussing the yellow fever epidemic seem eerily timely now, when the nation is reeling from anthrax attacks.

"The message to really consider when you look at the yellow fever in 1793 and anthrax today is that panic results from a lack of knowledge," said Dr. Allen R. Myers, president of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia and professor of medicine at Temple University.

"In the 1790's, we had useless treatment and we certainly had no understanding of the epidemiology of the disease," Dr. Myers said. "In the case of anthrax, we know a great deal about the organism but we're really trying to understand more about the transmission."

Of course, the anthrax attacks, while terrifying, have had nothing like the death toll of that yellow fever epidemic, which killed about 55,000 people in Philadelphia.

To put it in perspective, said Dr. Marc Micozzi, the executive director of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, it would be as if a disease were to sweep through Washington and its suburbs today killing about 400,000 people between late August and November.

In a paper for a 1996 symposium on the Philadelphia epidemic, Dr. J. Worth Estes, an emeritus professor of pharmacology at the Boston University medical school, described the symptoms of yellow fever. Patients would complain of headaches and abdominal pain, but the disease, he wrote, was easy to spot by its colors: "yellow eyes and skin, purple hemorrhages into the skin, red blood pouring from the nose and mouth, black vomit."

A Philadelphia printer and bookseller, Mathew Carey, chronicled the epidemic in a self-published book. The first edition, which sold out in days, was dated Nov. 14, 1793, and by Jan. 26, 1794, it was in its fourth "improved" edition.

Mr. Carey wrote that patients would get sicker and sicker for four or five days. "If these symptoms were not soon relieved, a vomiting of matter, resembling coffee grounds in color and consistency, commonly called the black vomit, sometimes accompanied with or succeeded by hemorrhages from the nose, fauces [the oral pharyngeal passage], gums, and other parts of the body - a yellowish purple color and putrescent appearance of the whole body, hiccup, agitations, deep and distressed sighing, comatose, delerium, and finally death."

Doctors bitterly debated how to treat patients. One group, explained Gretchen Worden, director of the Mütter Museum at the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, argued that if a treatment did not cure a patient or prolong life, it was worthless.

Dr. Rush was of this school, she said. He advocated treating yellow fever with bleedings and violent purges, including large doses of mercury and jalap, the root of a plant that grows in Mexico and is related to the morning glory. He himself got yellow fever during the epidemic but took his own treatment and recovered.

In one of the newly discovered letters, dated Oct. 2, 1793, Dr. Rush told Dr. Samuel Powel Griffitts, a founder of the College of Physicians: "I continue to use mercury in large doses, with great success. I have found 40 grains necessary in the course of the day to open the bowels. I rely upon no evacuations until they are large & bilious." He added, "I have only lost one patient who took mercury on the first day in the manner I have mentioned, & I think I have saved two in a very advanced stage of the disorder by it."

Other doctors believed in a gentler approach, reasoning that the body should be allowed to heal itself. They treated patients with rest and a mild diet, a bit of quinine and a cold bath every morning.

In one of the newly discovered letters, Alexander Hamilton, who also contracted yellow fever in the epidemic, credits the treatment with saving his life. But while the College of Physicians letter is the original, its text was well known because Hamilton sent it to Philadelphia's only newspaper at the time, The Federal Gazette and Philadelphia Advertiser, to attack Dr. Rush, who was a close friend of Hamilton's rival Thomas Jefferson, Mr. Greifenstein said.

While there is still no treatment for yellow fever, it is now known that the disease is spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which picks up the virus while feeding on an infected person and transmits it to healthy people. There is a yellow fever vaccine, but the disease was eliminated in this country by wiping out the mosquito that carries it.

In 1793, however, doctors were baffled by the illness. Dr. Rush argued that it was infectious and arose when people lived in poor sanitary conditions. In his book on the epidemic, published in 1794, he wrote: "This discovery of the malignity - extent - and origin of a fever which I knew to be highly contagious as well as mortal gave me great pain. I did not hesitate to name it, the Bilious remitting Yellow Fever."

Others who thought the disease contagious said it came to the city with 2,000 French colonists who were fleeing from Haiti, noting that they had arrived just when the outbreak began. In his book, Mr. Carey advanced the refugee hypothesis:

"In July arrived the unfortunate fugitives from Cape Franconia. And on this occasion, the liberality of Philadelphia was displayed in a most respectable point of light. Nearly 12,000 dollars were in a few days collected for their relief. Little, alas! Did many of the contributors, then in early circumstances, imagine that a few weeks would leave their wives and children dependent on public charity, as has since unfortunately happened."

But, as the newly discovered letters illustrate, there was an active epidemiological investigation. A letter dated Nov. 9, 1793, from a Maj. Samuel Hodgson to the College of Physicians, explores evidence for a hypothesis that the disease came from a load of rotting coffee:

"The Sloop Amelia came to the Wharf the 23rd July and immediately began to discharge her Cargo - this Vessel was wholly loaded with Coffee in Bags the lower tier of which from the leaky condition of the Vessel were under water & found to be wholly rotten, and when thrown on the Wharf occasioned a most intolerable stench for several days. Two of her passengers or Crew I am informed died on board her while she lay at the Wharf."

Major Hodgson also considered the refugee hypothesis, telling of a ship that arrived on Aug. 7, "loaded with Passengers from the Cape all of which with their baggage were landed on the Wharf - from this Vessel I saw a woman taken, who appear'd to be extremely ill & with her child put on a Dray provided for her."

Without knowing how the disease was spreading, doctors were at a loss to prevent it, and as many as 20,000 people fled the city. Some found their way barred.

Hamilton left Philadelphia and traveled to Albany, attempting to visit his father-in-law. But, Mr. Greifenstein said, Hamilton was not allowed into the city for fear he would bring yellow fever with him.

In the meantime, social and business life in Philadelphia was fast disintegrating. In one of the newly discovered letters, dated Sept. 12, 1793, Hamilton told of the "undue panic which is fast depopulating the city and suspending business, public and private."

"Dismay and affright were visible in almost every person's countenance," Mr. Carey wrote in a chapter that he titled: "General despondency. Deplorable scenes. Frightful views of human nature. A noble and exhilarating contrast."

Afraid of contagion, people shunned their friends and acquaintances, Mr. Carey wrote. "The old custom of shaking hands fell into such general disuse, that many shrank back with affright at even the offer of a hand." And, he added, "many valued themselves highly on the skill and address with which they got to windward of every person whom they met."

Dr. Rush, believing that blacks were immune to yellow fever, asked two prominent black men, Absolom Jones and Richard Allen, to help.

The two persuaded the mayor to release black prisoners to help in the relief effort, which consisted of bleeding and purging patients and carrying away the bodies of the dead. Blacks turned out to be just as susceptible as whites, however, and many died of the fever.

The epidemic ended abruptly in November, with the first frost that killed the mosquitoes. On Nov. 14, the city's mayor announced that those who had fled could safely return.

And the newly discovered letters were stored away at the College of Physicians of Philadelphia.

The mystery, however, is, How did they end up in that wooden box, which apparently dates from around 1900?

Ms. Worden, the museum director, said the papers probably were put there in 1901 by someone who was packing up the college's papers during its move to its present building. And, she added, it is possible that the box with its valuable papers had simply been kept in the locked closet ever since. It was found now, she added, because the college was renovating.

Dr. Micozzi agreed. "It was in the context of this huge renovation project," he said. "Things get turned over and brought to the surface. It's a little like plowing a field."


Copyright 2001 The New York Times Company

post #270 of 331
While I was driving along today listening to the news coverage of the NYC crash I was struck by the tone of those being interviewed. not the pros,the "common folks". No big panic,no emotional collapse.

It got me thinking...

For the past 40+ years we have been living with a threat that makes bin Laden and his bunch look like kids with firecrackers. The threat of Global Nuclear War. The 2 superpowers could have wiped mankind from the face of the earth many times over. That thought would have destroyed the will to survive of a weak people. But we all stood up to that. We built our lives in spite of it. We looked death in the eye and laughed. We are NOT a weak people!!

Bin Laden and his freaks think they're going to scare us into submission?? HA!! I DON'T THINK SO!!!
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