Author: BooMan

When Religion and Paranoia Interfere With Medicine…

KANO, Nigeria — Accusations by Islamic preachers that vaccines are part of an American anti-Islamic plot are threatening efforts to combat a measles epidemic that has killed hundreds of Nigerian children, health workers say.

Government officials play down the anti-vaccine sentiment, but all the measles deaths have been in Nigeria’s north, where authorities had to suspend polio immunizations last year after hard-line clerics fanned similar fears of that vaccine.

Nigeria, whose 130 million people make it Africa’s most populous nation, has recorded 20,859 measles cases so far this year. At least 589 victims have died, most of them children younger than 5 and all in the north, the Nigerian Red Cross and the U.N. World Health Organization say.

Southern Nigeria, which is mainly Christian, had only 253 measles cases, and no deaths.
Chicago Sun-Times

It appears that the United States has no monopoly on anti-science zealots.

Major Quake Hits Off Sumatra

BANDA ACEH, Indonesia (AP)– A major earthquake struck off the west coast of Indonesia’s Sumatra Island late Monday, and officials warned that a tsunami could strike the area. Residents of Banda Aceh fled their homes in panic.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the temblor, described by one of the agency’s geologists as an aftershock of the devastating Dec. 26 quake, measured a magnitude of 8.2.

In Banda Aceh, the Sumatran city that was hit hardest by December’s tsunami, the quake cut electricity and thousands poured into the streets, most getting into vehicles to flee low-lying areas.

The quake lasted for about two minutes — far longer than most of the daily aftershocks that have rocked Aceh since Dec. 26.

Post links, info, pictures…as you get them.

This is terrible news.

My Trip to the White House

In the waning days of the Clinton administration, my brother arranged a special behind-the-scenes tour of the White House for my wife and me.

We showed up at a security checkpoint on the southeast corner around midday. I was curious about what precautions and levels of scrutiny I would be subjected to.

As I slipped my driver’s license into a retractable metal tray, I wondered whether I had some outstanding parking tickets somewhere…would they would be placing me under arrest?

I never found out what kind of information their computer systems brought up…did they know about that ‘buying alcohol underage’ arrest from 1987?

The process did not take too long, and soon we were greeted by Clinton speechwriter, Paul Glastris. Mr. Glastris is now the editor in chief of The Washington Monthly and a senior fellow at the Western Policy Center. But at the time he was special assistant to the President of United States. It was pretty heady stuff.

We made small talk as Paul walked us up the long driveway between the Old Executive Office Building and the White House. My memories of that day are somewhat scatter-shot.

I remember walking into the basement where the White House caterers work. We looked at a wall still smoke-stained from the War of 1812.

We visited Paul’s office in the OEOB, and he showed us the office Nixon used there. Apparently Nixon hated the Oval Office, and liked to escape across the street. We were stunned to learn that most of the Nixon tapes had been recorded there.

I was most anxious when we entered the West Wing. Somehow I felt that a terrible mistake was being made. Surely they had better sense than to let someone like me walk around the inner sanctum of American power during working hours.

There was a brightly painted lobby area, with several distinguished foreign-looking gentlemen sitting patiently, waiting to meet some bigwig or another. It almost felt like a dentist’s office.

I got my first sense of Mr. Glastris’s clout when he calmly marched us right past the secretary’s desk into the Roosevelt Room. It had an enormous mahogany desk and, over the mantle, a huge painting of a rough-riding T.R..

And then we were standing in a hallway peering into the Oval Office itself. There was a guard posted, and a movie-theatre style barrier. Paul asked the guard if we could take a peek inside. The guard gave us a wary look, shrugged, and unlinked the rope.

:::There’s More:::


[title changed at Galiel’s request]

I banned Galiel.

He was specifically banned for breach of trust.  But I hope it’s obvious that I made a serious effort to allow him to discuss his disagreement with my policies, and to accommodate his personality.

I have received 14 separate emails urging me to ban him.  I have received two emails where the sender claimed to have banned him personally from their site in the past.

I understand Galiel has his supporters, and he always raised legitimate arguments.  So, if anyone wants to talk about the points he raised or register their dissatisfaction with his banishment, do it here.

I did not want to ban him.  But I felt he left me no choice.

Saturday Night Open Thread

“It’s important for us to explain to our nation that life is important. It’s not only life of babies, but it’s life of children living in, you know, the dark dungeons of the Internet.”

-Bush in Arlington Heights, Ill., Oct. 24, 2000

HOTLIST ENABLED and some other changes

I never used HOTLIST at dKos. Let me know if it is working right.

Also, on the top menu there is a new box called ‘Recent Comments’. It will show you the last 10 comments made on the site. That way you know who’s posting and where.

It replaces the box to look at your own comments. That can be done by clicking on the hyperlink in your userbox.

And I don’t think you can recommend your own diaries anymore.

An Officer in Iraq

I would like to welcome Lieutenant C to the site.

He is stationed in Iraq. He has self-identified himself as a Republican, and has offered to answer questions, either here, or by email:

Please remember he is an officer, and treat him with the utmost respect.

Ask him a question and he’ll try to respond when he has the chance. Bookmark this thread to make sure you get his responses.

Latest Outrage: Smearing a Journalist

William Arkin is a former Army intelligence analyst and consultant, who has written extensively about military affairs, including columns in the Washington Post, and has recently published the book: Code Names: Deciphering U.S. Military Plans, Programs and Operations in the 9/11 World.

Someone is out to get him.

A purported Defense Intelligence Agency cable, leaked to the Washington Times, states: “preliminary reporting . . . indicates possible US citizen William Arkin received monthly stipend for period 1994-1998 to report on quote United Nations Special Commission activities unquote. Entry in SSO [special security organization] ledger captured in Baghdad, no additional information.”

In other words, the cable accuses Arkin of having been an intelligence asset in Saddam Hussein’s employ.

Howard Kurtz reports:

Arkin said he did look into the U.N. operation known as UNSCOM, but as a consultant to U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan. “Someone who put this together obviously tried to make it plausible enough to do harm and endanger me,” he said. Arkin found, and U.S. officials later confirmed, that the Clinton administration had eavesdropped on Iraqi communications through equipment carried by UNSCOM weapons inspectors.

The purported cable also says that “CIA exploitation of Source 8230 from Office of President SH confirms Arkin traveled to Baghdad February 1998 and November 1998 to provide information about UNSCOM plans and to discuss Desert Fox targeting,” a reference to the 1998 U.S. bombing of Iraq. Arkin said he did not visit Iraq in 1998.

At the Defense Department, spokesman Bryan Whitman said: “The Pentagon has looked into this and does not believe the document to be authentic.” Larry DiRita, the department’s chief spokesman, added that “we certainly appreciated the fact that the journalist who had it in his possession took the time to seek a better understanding of it before filing a story on it.”

Arkin cited several technical reasons why the cable is fake, mainly having to do with military addresses and abbreviations, and a reference to “proctor canular procedures.” Canular, he discovered through a Google translation service, means hoax in French.

In a letter to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Arkin said: “I am extremely concerned that someone familiar with Defense Department classified reporting has forged this document and given it to the press in the hope that it would be reported as genuine. Such an action raises deeply troubling questions about the integrity of the department’s processes and raises the possibility of an organized effort to intimidate me as a journalist.”
Washington Post

Despite the fact that the Pentagon has someone using its resources to intimidate an American journalist, the Pentagon is remarkably unconcerned:

The prospects of an internal investigation to find the culprit are “not likely”, DeRita said, “it is probably not possible to determine the source of such a matter, and I am unaware of any involvement in it by someone inside the department that would warrant a further look.”

I encourage everyone to raise hell about this. This is an even more brazen stonewall than the administration’s ostensible approach to the Valerie Plame affair. At least Bush pretended to want answers to who leaked Plame’s name:

BUSH: Listen, I know of nobody — I don’t know of anybody in my administration who leaked classified information. If somebody did leak classified information, I’d like to know it, and we’ll take the appropriate action. And this investigation is a good thing.

And again I repeat, you know, Washington is a town where there’s all kinds of allegations. You’ve heard much of the allegations. And if people have got solid information, please come forward with it. And that would be people inside the information who are the so-called anonymous sources, or people outside the information — outside the administration. And we can clarify this thing very quickly if people who have got solid evidence would come forward and speak out. And I would hope they would.

Now they are not even pretending.