Wednesday, July 22, 2009

U.S. to Hog Swine Flu Vaccines?

Will U.S. follow World Health Organizations' Recommendations on Vaccine Formulation with "adjuvants," or will it hog up all the "good stuff" for itself and create a world wide shortage?

A ProMED-mail post

ProMED-mail is a program of the
International Society for Infectious Diseases

In this update:
[1] Strategy
[2] Production problems

[1] Strategy
Date: Tue 21 Jul 2009
Source: Nature, online 460, 446 (2009), 21 Jul 2009 [edited]

Imminent decisions on a strategy for H1N1 pandemic flu vaccination in
the United States could leave other countries short of vital doses if
it elects not to follow World Health Organization (WHO) advice on
vaccine formulation. The United States is the biggest buyer among a
group of rich countries whose combined orders for vaccine against the
H1N1 2009 virus could potentially tie up most of the world's pandemic
vaccine production capacity for 6 months or longer, so depriving
other countries of vaccine.

To counter this prospect, the WHO recommended on 13 Jul 2009 that
countries use shots that contain adjuvants, chemicals that boost the
immune system's response to a vaccine. This allows smaller amounts of
antigen -- the molecule that stimulates the immune response -- be
used in each dose, boosting the overall amount of vaccine available
from existing production capacity and allowing orders to be filled
more quickly.

The United States' global responsibility to consider dose-sparing
strategies is briefly alluded to in the minutes of a mid-June 2009 US
National Bio defense Science Board meeting, released on 17 Jul 2009:
"Federal decision-making will affect not only the 300 million
Americans who depend on the government to support the public health
system but also people all around the world."

The United States has certainly kept open the option of using
adjuvants. It has already allocated almost USD 2 billion for antigen
and adjuvant to provide every American with up to 2 doses of vaccine.
That sum includes orders of USD 483 million for Novartis's MF59
adjuvant, and USD 215 million for GlaxoSmithKline's AS03 adjuvant.

But although Canada and many European countries are set to use
adjuvanted pandemic flu vaccines, the United States may do so only as
a last resort. "All things being equal, an unadjuvanted vaccine is
often just fine in terms of giving protection against influenza
virus," Anne Schuchat, director of the National Center for
Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia, told a media briefing on
17 Jul 2009.

"Adjuvant use would be contingent upon showing that it was needed or
clearly beneficial," added Jesse Goodman, acting chief scientist and
deputy commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). "But
we want them on the table in case there are issues where they might
be needed to protect people in this country." If there is significant
genetic drift in the virus, for example, adjuvanted vaccines are
better able to handle such strain variations. And early attempts at
pandemic vaccine manufacture are so far producing 2 to 4 times less
antigen than seasonal flu strains, raising the threat that the
world's production capacity is actually much less than was hoped.

If each shot of pandemic flu vaccine contains 15 micrograms of
antigen -- the dose used in seasonal flu -- and no adjuvant, annual
global capacity stands at about 876 million doses, according to the
WHO. But as virtually no one is immune to the virus, most experts say
that each person will need 2 doses, immediately halving that
capacity. Moreover, higher doses of antigen may be needed to get an
adequate response, further reducing capacity. Using adjuvants would
boost annual capacity to more than 2 billion doses in some WHO

Europe is well placed to quickly authorize adjuvanted pandemic
vaccines. Since 2003, the European Medicines Agency (EMEA) has had a
fast-track approval system in which manufacturers can prepare
"mock-up dossiers," vaccine registration applications that use
non-pandemic viral strains but for which pandemic strains can
subsequently be substituted. GlaxoSmithKline and Novartis already
have mock-up dossiers in place for the H5N1 avian flu virus and plan
to file H1N1 substitutions by the end of July 2009.

Although the EMEA requires the companies to provide new clinical
testing and data as they roll out their products, the product itself
can be approved in 5 days if the agency is satisfied that the
extrapolation to the new strain is valid, says Martin Harvey-
Allchurch, a spokesman for the EMEA. In contrast, the United States
has never licensed an adjuvanted flu vaccine and has no fast-track
system in place, although the FDA can give emergency authorization
for new vaccines. The regulators are also mindful of political and
public concerns about mass vaccination of the population, given that
a vaccination programme in 1976 against a new strain of swine flu
caused neurological side effects in about one in 100 000 people and
killed 25. Modern flu vaccines, however, have a very good safety

The WHO's Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety says "no
significant safety concern or barriers" exist to using adjuvanted
pandemic H1N1 vaccines. But regulatory agencies may have to approve
pandemic vaccines -- both adjuvanted and non-adjuvanted -- without
all the data they would normally require, warns Marie-Paule Kieny,
the WHO's vaccine research director. Some preliminary clinical and
safety data may be available by September 2009, when flu cases could
surge in the Northern Hemisphere, but complete data for adults are
unlikely to be available until the end of December 2009, and not
until February 2010 for children. Regulators would accompany pandemic
vaccine rollouts with parallel clinical trials, and, as in any
mass-vaccination campaign, extensive surveillance would monitor for
any adverse side effects.

[Byline: Declan Butler]

Communicated by:
ProMED-mail Rapporteur Mary Marshall

[2] Production problems
Date: Tue 21 Jul 2009
Source: CFRB Newstalk 1010, The Canadian Press report [edited]

It may take substantially longer to make the full amounts of swine
flu vaccine countries have contracted to buy because efforts to
improve the yield of the vaccine seed strains aren't bearing fruit,
experts say. Three of the laboratories involved in the work are
sounding increasingly pessimistic that the yield problem can be fixed
in the short term. Vaccine manufacturers have reported they are
getting between 50 per cent and 75 per cent less vaccine with the new
H1N1 virus as they do when they make seasonal flu vaccine. "It's not
looking very bright at the moment," John Wood, principal scientist at
Britain's National Institute for Biological Standards and Control,
said in an interview Tuesday [21 Jul 2009]. "In effect, it means if
we continue like this, manufacturers will have to keep on producing
(pandemic) vaccine for longer to make the number of doses needed."

The flu laboratories at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control have
made 3 new seed strains and are in the process of completing the
paperwork needed to ship them to the manufacturers. The head of the
CDC's influenza division said while the new vaccine candidate viruses
are growing well in the hands of her scientists, there's no guarantee
they will produce a better yield when manufacturers start to work
with them. Dr. Nancy Cox said the issue isn't simply about growth,
but also about how well the vaccine viruses hold up during the
various steps of the manufacturing process. "I think it is possible
we won't have a better yielding virus," she admitted from Atlanta.
"(But) I think that it's still too early to say how this will impact
the amount of vaccine that's available."

Each flu virus has its own characteristics, and vaccine makers are
accustomed to working with new strains, fine-tuning processes to try
to coax maximum yield from a virus. A spokesperson for vaccine giant
Sanofi Pasteur said the company feels it hasn't yet exhausted efforts
to improve the yield of the seed strain for the pandemic vaccine.
Still, Len Lavenda suggested Sanofi doesn't expect those efforts to
fully correct the problem. "Although we think it's too soon to
project what the final yield will be, we anticipate it will remain
lower than seasonal vaccine yield," Lavenda said from Sanofi's
headquarters in Swiftwater, Pa. "Certainly if the yield doesn't
increase, it means it will take longer to produce the vaccine. (But)
I think at this point in time we remain hopeful that we'll be able to
increase the yield and think it's premature to throw in the towel, so
to speak."

The various companies making pandemic vaccine have been working with
a seed strain produced at New York Medical College in Valhalla, N.Y.
Its laboratory pioneered the process of engineering vaccine viruses
to maximize growth decades ago, and scientists there have produced
many of the vaccine seed strains used since. Its 1st swine flu seed
strain was overwhelmingly viewed as the best yielder by vaccine
manufacturers. But even at that, manufacturers said they got about
half of the yield generated with seasonal flu production. Doris
Bucher, who heads the lab, says her team is trying other options, but
they haven't seen anything promising yet. And she's heard
manufacturers' efforts aren't paying off either. "Usually, they tweak
it, and it grows better. But it hasn't responded to tweaking. ...
That's the feedback I'm getting."

Seed strains are hybrid viruses that have the surface genes of the
virus the vaccine is meant to protect against merged with the
internal genes of an old flu virus that is known to grow well in
eggs. Typically those hybrids -- called reassortants -- are made up
of 6 genes from the high-growth virus with 2 genes from the target
virus, which in this case is the new H1N1.

Seed strains can be made by 2 different processes. One, called the
classical method, involves co-infecting growth medium with the 2
types of viruses and letting them swap genes on their own. The other
involves a patented process called reverse genetics that essentially
allows scientists to piece together the desired constellation of
genes. Bucher's 1st seed strain was made using the classical method,
which means any vaccine made from it wouldn't require manufacturers
to pay royalties for the seed strain. But the new CDC-produced seed
strains were made using reverse genetics. If manufacturers switch to
use one of them, royalties for every dose of vaccine sold will be due
to the U.S. vaccine company MedImmune, which holds the patent. Bucher
said her original seed strain was made with 3 genes from the swine
flu virus and 5 from the high-growth virus. Her team is now trying to
see if a 6 and 2 constellation would work better. But she and others
admitted the yield problem may be due to something inherent in the
swine flu viruses.

"It possibly is," admitted Wood, whose lab also generated seed
strains in the 1st round of production. "This is unusual, having all
the labs who usually do this work and there still being a less than
satisfactory outcome. Usually, we get at least one virus which is
good, average to good. And this time, none of them are."

[Byline: Helen Branswell]

Communicated by:
ProMED-mail Rapporteur Mary Marshall

[The logistics of production and delivery of an effective influenza
pandemic (H1N1) 2009 virus vaccine are complex and will take time to
resolve. As suggested by previous correspondents, dose sparing
measures (such as intradermal vaccination) may have to be brought
into play in the short term at least to conserve materials. - Mod.CP]

[see also:
Influenza pandemic (H1N1) 2009 (10): vaccine 20090720.2577
Influenza pandemic (H1N1) 2009 (09): UK, pig stockman 20090718.2560
Influenza pandemic (H1N1) 2009 (08): pandemic origins 20090718.2559
Influenza pandemic (H1N1) 2009 (07): Argentina, swine, alert 20090718.2557
Influenza pandemic (H1N1) 2009 (06): case reporting 20090717.2553
Influenza pandemic (H1N1) 2009 (05): vaccine 20090716.2540
Influenza pandemic (H1N1) 2009 (04): pandemic origins 20090715.2527
Influenza pandemic (H1N1) 2009 (03): vaccine 20090713.2505
Influenza pandemic (H1N1) 2009 (02): obesity risk factor 20090711.2482
Influenza pandemic (H1N1) 2009 - Viet Nam: patient data 20090708.2450
Influenza A (H1N1) - worldwide (86): official nomenclature 20090706.2430]

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Monday, July 20, 2009

Obomba: The War President

The Note: July 20, 2009 8:34 AM


We’ll get to health care in a moment, but first a reminder that for all the bold domestic initiatives, President Barack Obama is a war president. Unwelcome and uncontrollable developments on the war front have a way of overshadowing everything else. Just ask Lyndon Johnson.

We are not there yet, but consider today’s headlines:

• U.S. soldier taken hostage. The Taliban released a 28-minute video of Pfc Bowe Bergdahl. It’s a typical propaganda video, featuring Private Bergdahl, clearly under duress, speaking about his family and against the war. The vigil in his tiny Idaho hometown dominated the network morning shows and will likely continue to do so.

• Another coalition soldier was killed late yesterday, bringing the death toll so-far this month (52) to the highest since the war started in September 2001.

• The death toll in Iraq and Afghanistan is on the verge of 5,000. A reminder of that toll will come later this week when, the LA Times reports, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is scheduled to visit Arlington Cemetery.

• A civilian helicopter working with NATO crashed, killing 16 aid workers. British and American fighter jets also crashed over the weekend.

• The Drug Enforcement Administration, belatedly perhaps, is surging its own agents into Afghanistan in an effort to target. The LA Times calls this “a new kind of ‘surge,’ targeting trafficking networks that officials say are increasingly fueling the Taliban insurgency and corrupting the Afghan government.”

• The Wall Street Journal reports that the White House is going to miss a Congressionally mandated deadline to submit its plan for closing Gitmo. Does anybody outside of the administration think the gitmo prison will be closed by January?

• The NYT reports the even bigger detainee problem: the 15,000 held in nightmarish prisons inside Afghanistan. Under consideration: a new, U.S.-built Afghan prison “for the hard-core extremists who are now using the poorly run Afghan corrections system as a camp to train petty thieves and other common criminals to be deadly militants.” Could this Gitmo with a different address?

For now, President Obama seems to have the confidence of the public, most Congressional leaders and even Republicans for his Afghan policy. In today’s ABC News/Washington Post poll, 62 percent give him high marks on Afghanistan.

But President Obama’s political and national security teams know support may be fleeting. Privately, senior White House officials will tell you they have at most a year to start turning things around before losing Congressional Democrats who, if a Republican were in the White House, would already be demanding tangible progress, firm benchmarks, and a timetable for withdrawal.

The War at Home: Obama approval slides, especially on health care

Support for the domestic agenda, however, is beginning to crumble. The latest ABC News/ Washington Post poll has lots of troubling numbers for the White House, but none more than this: For the first time, less than 50 percent approve of his handling of health care.

In just the last month – a time when the White House has put health reform plans front-and-center in Congress – the president’s approval rating on the issue has slid from 57 percent to 49, with disapproval rising from 29 to 44.

The sliver lining for the White House: the public trusts Republicans even less. But, that may not matter much, the Republicans aren’t trying to pass the biggest, most expensive piece of health care reform in the history of the Republic.

The erosion of support has been most pronounced among independents, more of whom now disapprove of Obama’s handling of health care (49 percent) than approve (44 percent).

The poll also shows declining support for the president’s handling of the deficit, unemployment and of the economy overall. As usual, the president is more popular than his positions on the issues, but his personally approval rating (59 percent) has dropped below 60 percent for the first time in the ABC News/Washington Post poll.

“Until the economy heads up, his popularity is likely to continue down,” writes ABC News’ polling guru Gary Langer.

More Troubles

The New York Times finds some really bad news for the Obama Administration at the National Governor’s Association meeting in Biloxi, Mississippi.

The White House wants help from the governors to sell its health plan, instead it is finding they are terrified the states will be stuck paying for it.

“The sentiment among those who were could not have been more consistent, regardless of political party,” report Kevin Sack and Robert Pear. “The governors said in interviews and public sessions that the bills being drafted in Congress would not do enough to curb the growth in health spending. And they said they were convinced that a major expansion of Medicaid would leave them with heavy costs.”

More: “Although many governors said significant change in how the nation handles health care was needed, they said their deep-seated fiscal troubles made it a terrible time to shift costs to the states.

“Each of several health care bills coursing through Congress relies on a large increase in eligibility for Medicaid, the state and federal insurance program for the poor, as one means of moving toward universal coverage.

“Because the states and the federal government share the cost, any increase in eligibility levels, benefits or payments to doctors would impose new burdens on the states unless Washington absorbs them. In at least one of several bills circulating in Congress, the states would eventually pick up a share of the new costs, and the governors fear they cannot count on provisions in other bills that they will not bear costs.”

Does this make it any easier? The health bill may include taxpayer money for abortions.

Here’s a man-bites-dog story in the bailout era:

The CIT Group, which was denied another federal bailout last week, is on the verge of securing private funding to keep it afloat.

“The development appeared to vindicate U.S. regulators, who balked at appeals to help CIT. And it suggested that, unlike in recent months, private capital is available to plaster over cracks in the financial system.”

Tapper has been all over this one

The fired Inspector General of the Corporation for National and Community Service is suing to get his job back.

The Kicker:

“It’s not health care reform to dump more money into Medicaid.” - Gov. Phil Bredesen (D-TN)

“As a governor, my concern is that if we try to cost-shift to the states we’re not going to be in a position to pick up the tab,” - Gov. Christine Gregoire (D-WA)

“I’m personally very concerned about the cost issue, particularly the $1 trillion figures being batted around,” - Gov. Bill Richardson (D-NM)

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Obomba Notion to Make Vets Pay for HealthCare an ObombaNation!

Crossposting for Concerned Vets;

Obama's response to his proposal that vets pay for their own health-care insurance

Click on title above to see why;

Below is the "false" post that is going around;


Bad press, including major mockery of the plan by comedian Jon
Stewart, led to President Obama abandoning his proposal to require
veterans carry private health insurance to cover the estimated $540
million annual cost to the federal government of treatment for
injuries to military personnel received during their tours on
active duty.

The President admitted that he was puzzled by the magnitude of
the opposition to his proposal.
"Look, it's an all volunteer force," Obama complained. "Nobody
made these guys go to war. They had to have known and accepted
the risks.. Now they whine about bearing the costs of their choice? It
doesn't compute..."I thought these were people who were proud to sacrifice for
their country," Obama continued. "I wasn't asking for blood, just
money. With the country facing the worst financial crisis in its
history, I'd have thought that the patriotic thing to do would be
to try to help reduce the nation's deficit. I
guess I underestimated the selfishness of some of my fellow

pass this on to every vet and their families whom you
Make the vets pay for
their own medical conditions, while giving free insurance to those who
aren't citizens or those who never contribute one cent of taxes..
It's an obama-nation.


The "War on Truth" Exposed

Click on title above to go to a series of new videos exposing the TRUTH about the war on truth our govt launched waay back in the 1970s.....


which is still in effect, more than ever, today.

Hurry before they get "poofed." !!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

CIA Admits Used "Fire Ants" for Torture

By Aram Roston / Huffington Post
July 15, 2009

A recently released legal memo describing interrogation techniques showed that Bush Administration lawyers had approved the use of "insects" in interrogations. "You would like to place [Abu] Zubaydeh in a cramped confinement box with an insect," Jay Bybee, then a Justice Department lawyer and now a federal judge, wrote in 2002. He opined that as long as the bug wasn't actually harmful, it would not violate the law to use one to scare a terrorist detainee.

That was the first mention of insects to become public. But the memo's release may make it worth looking back to a brouhaha that occurred in secret at the agency in 2005. A CIA supervisor involved in the "enhanced interrogation" program bragged to other CIA employees about using fire ants while during questioning of a top terror suspect, according to several sources formerly with the Agency. The official claimed to other Agency employees, the sources say, to have put the stinging ants on a detainee's head to help break him.

The CIA insists, however, that no matter what the man said, it never took place. In fact, even though the Bush administration lawyers condoned the use of non-harmful insects, as the memo revealed, the technique wasn't employed, the agency says. "The CIA did not use insects as part of its terrorist interrogation program," said CIA Spokesman Paul Gimigliano. "That didn't happen, period."

The CIA supervisor who purportedly bragged of using insects was, and still is, a high-level official, working at the Senior Executive Service level. Because he is still in the CIA covert side, his name cannot be published. But he was in the field and helped oversee, according to sources, the way "enhanced" interrogation techniques were used.

In fact, he was so close to the program that sources say he was caught on the CIA interrogation tapes made in Thailand inside the secret facility where Zubaydah and other terrorists were questioned. The tapes were later destroyed in circumstances currently under investigation.

"He was on the tapes," a former CIA source said. No one can know if that is true, since they were destroyed. But several sources say that although he may have been on the tapes, he actually had no direct role in interrogating anyone, but that he was present as a high-ranking supervisor. (And there were no reported insects or fire ants on the videotape.)

The official is a storied veteran of covert operations who had just returned from Bagdhad. "He's a bullshitter," said one former officer, explaining that the man had a reputation for telling tall tales and embellishing.

So what is one to make of his bizarre claim to have used fire ants to get a terrorist suspect to talk? When he made the boast, according to officials familiar with the events, he was at the CIA's bar at "The Farm," where the CIA trains case officer cadets, down at Camp Peary in Virginia. It's an old U-shaped bar, as officers decribe it, topped with cheap linoleum, and a couple of little booths like those found in an old cafeteria. The room opens up to a large lounge with a big open fireplace. Back in the old days, the area was decorated with photographs from Southeast Asia and other regions of CIA derring-do, but now it is a dreary place.

According to those who were told about the incident, the official was putting down drink after drink at the bar. "He was running his mouth," said one ex-officer, "carrying on." Sources say the supervisor bragged loudly that he had used fire ants to torment an al Qaeda suspect to get him to talk. As one version of the evening has it, he bragged of putting the stinging bugs in a helmet and then putting the helmet on the detainee.

Some officials say it should not be taken seriously. First, he was talking while people were drinking in a bar so his account was hardly reliable. Second, he'd just returned from one of the toughest war zones of recent memory: perhaps a bit of bizarre story-telling is to be expected in the privacy of the intelligence service's own bar. But it was all strange enough that complaints started quickly from CIA people who over heard the conversation.

The CIA launched its own review, the intelligence sources say. The agency concluded that there was no such torture and that the supervisor was simply making it up.

Still, that was before the release of the Bybee memo authorizing the use of insects. With new speculation that the U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder might launch an investigation into the "enhanced interrogation," perhaps it is, at least worth recalling the in-house insect buzz at the CIA.

Meanwhile, there is already an open inquiry into the question of the destroyed tapes.

Click on title above for original article in the Huffington Post w/ place to comment;

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Back Door Way to Ignore the Bill of Rights

by Jacob G. Hornberger

Among the most shocking aspects of Barack Obama’s presidency so far has been his embrace of the power that George W. Bush assumed to incarcerate people suspected of terrorism for the rest of their lives, without a jury trial to determine whether they are in fact guilty of the offense. There is absolutely no reason why Obama and any future president cannot expand that power to other federal criminal offenses, including drug crimes and gun crimes.

Let’s keep in mind, after all, that terrorism is a federal criminal offense. It was a federal criminal offense before 9/11 and it continued to be one after 9/11.

Under America’s system of justice, people suspected of having committed a criminal offense are indicted by federal grand juries and tried in federal district court. Examples of criminal defendants who have been indicted and convicted of terrorism in federal court include Ramzi Yousef, Zacharias Moussaoui, and Jose Padilla.

One of the fundamental principles of a criminal trial is the presumption of innocence. In order to get a conviction, the government must overcome that presumption with sufficient competent evidence that convinces a jury beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is, in fact, guilty of the offense.

What was so revolutionary about what George W. Bush did was that he took a federal criminal offense and simply converted it into an illegal act of war, which he said gave the government the power, at its option, to incarcerate a suspected violator of the terrorism statutes for life, without the benefit of trial by jury to determine whether he really committed the offense.

Now, consider the war on drugs. Since the president has been permitted the power to declare terrorism an illegal act of war, thereby enabling him to treat suspected terrorists as illegal enemy combatants (or criminal defendants, at his option), there is absolutely no reason why he cannot do the same in the war on drugs or the war on guns (or any other federal criminal offense), especially given that many of the terrorists are using the drug trade to finance their terrorist operations and given that drug lords are using guns to commit their murders.

Each year, the drug lords kill far more people than the number of people that the terrorists are killing in the United States. The many thousands of people being killed every year in Mexico include Mexican law-enforcement agents, judges, and other government officials.

Most of the drug-war violence is along the U.S.-Mexico border. The possibility that the drug-war violence will spill over into the United States is causing U.S. officials to consider dispatching U.S. troops to the border to help civilian law enforcement fight the war on drugs. In fact, some state and local officials are now actively requesting the president to send U.S. troops to the border.

At the same time, law-enforcement officials are claiming that the one of the principal causes of drug-war violence is the ease by which people are able to purchase guns along the border. Already there are signs of a government crackdown on gun dealers as part of the war on guns.

Now, imagine that the drug lords begin wreaking violence on the U.S. side of the border, including killing sprees in which U.S. law-enforcement agents, judges, and other public officials are the predominate victims, as they are in Mexico.

With the power the president now wields to convert federal criminal offenses into illegal acts of war, there is now nothing to prevent Barack Obama from expanding such power to the war on drugs and the war on guns. That means, of course, that the U.S. government would then have the option of treating suspected drug-law violators and gun-law violators in the same was as suspected terrorists, subject to being incarcerated for life, without the benefit of a jury trial to determine whether they truly are guilty.

Thus, those who enthusiastically supported Bush’s assumption of this omnipotent power — the power to convert a federal criminal offense into an illegal act of war — might come to rue the day they did so, especially if Obama expands the principle to drug crimes and gun crimes.

Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation, publisher of Your Money or Your Life: Why We Must Abolish the Income Tax by Sheldon Richman.


Globally mandated toxic Swine Flu vaccinations are coming.

From: Freedoms Phoenix; http://www.freedomsphoenix.com/Feature-Article.htm?Info=0062561&From=News

Stephen Lendman
Date: July 15, 2009
Subject: Health and Physical Fitness

Mandatory Swine Flu Vaccination Alert - by Stephen Lendman

On July 13, a World Health Organization (WHO) Global Alert headlined, "WHO recommendations on pandemic (H1N1) 2009 vaccinations" suggest that universally mandated ones are coming. It stated that on July 7, the pharmaceutical industry-dominated Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) on Immunization held an "extraordinary meeting in Geneva to discuss issues and make recommendations related to vaccine for the pandemic (H1N1) 2009."

There's no pandemic nor until recently a single death anywhere attributable to Swine Flu. Yet WHO said the virus "is considered unstoppable," while admitting little evidence of spread so far, most cases are mild, and many people recover unaided. Nonetheless, all countries will need vaccines and should follow these priorities as initial supplies will be limited:

-- immunize health care workers "to protect the essential health care infrastructure;" then

-- pregnant women; children over six months of age "with one of several chronic medical conditions;" healthy young adults aged 15 - 49; healthy children; healthy adults aged 50 - 64; and finally healthy adults aged 65 or older.

WTO suggested the risks in stating "new technologies are involved in the production of some pandemic vaccines, which have not yet been extensively evaluated for their safety in certain population groups..." As a result, "post-marketing surveillance" and "post-marketing safety and effectiveness studies" are essential so that countries can adjust their vaccination policies.

WHO "recommendations" are binding on all 194 member countries in case a pandemic emergency is declared under the 2005 International Health Regulations Act and April 2009 WHO pandemic plan.

It's crucial to understand that these vaccines are experimental, untested, toxic and extremely dangerous to the human immune system. They contain squalene-based adjuvants that cause a host of annoying to life-threatening autoimmune diseases. They must be avoided, even if mandated. It's also known that vaccines don't protect against diseases they're designed to prevent and often cause them. They should be banned but proliferate anyway because they're so profitable, and if globally mandated to the greatest extent ever.

Get ready because that's precisely what's coming - universal orders to risk toxic vaccine hazards. In the coming weeks, the dominant media globally will get into high gear fear-mongering mode to convince people voluntarily to submit to jeopardizing their health and well-being. It's essential to refuse and be safe and international law absolutely allows it.

Stephen Lendman is a Research Associate of the Center for Research on Globalization. He lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to The Global Research News Hour on RepublicBroadcasting.org Monday - Friday at 10AM US Central time for cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on world and national issues. All programs are archived for easy listening.
SEE ALSO: "Studies Show & Drs Agree "Ignore Swine Flu - DO Not Vaccinate"
Click on title above to see this important ProMed article;


ALSO PLEASE NOTE another Important ProMed Alert:


This article will show you that THERE IS NO Swine Flu Vaccine! Anything they DO come up with will be EXPERIMENTAL and the guinea-pigs R' US!

A ProMED-mail post

ProMED-mail is a program of the
International Society for Infectious Diseases

In this update:
[1] WHO update
[2] Canada Press report

[1] WHO update
Date: Mon 13 Jul 2009
Source: World Health Organisation (WHO), Global Alert and Response,
EPR [edited]

Pandemic (H1N1) 2009 briefing note 2: WHO recommendations on pandemic
(H1N1) 2009 vaccines
On Tue 7 Jul 2009, the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) on
Immunization held an extraordinary meeting in Geneva to discuss issues
and make recommendations related to vaccine for the pandemic (H1N1)
2009. SAGE reviewed the current pandemic situation, the current status
of seasonal vaccine production and potential A(H1N1) vaccine
production capacity, and considered potential options for vaccine use.

The experts identified 3 different objectives that countries could
adopt as part of their pandemic vaccination strategy:
- protect the integrity of the health-care system and the country's
critical infrastructure;

- reduce morbidity and mortality; and
- reduce transmission of the pandemic virus within communities.

Countries could use a variety of vaccine deployment strategies to
reach these objectives, but any strategy should reflect the country's
epidemiological situation, resources and ability to access vaccine, to
implement vaccination campaigns in the targeted groups, and to use
other non-vaccine mitigation measures.

Although the severity of the pandemic is currently considered to be
moderate, with most patients experiencing uncomplicated, self-limited
illness, some groups such as pregnant women and persons with asthma
and other chronic conditions such as morbid obesity [body mass index
(weight/square of height) = 40 plus. - Mod.JW] appear to be at
increased risk for severe disease and death from infection.

Since the spread of the pandemic virus is considered unstoppable,
vaccine will be needed in all countries. SAGE emphasized the
importance of striving to achieve equity among countries to access
vaccines developed in response to the pandemic (H1N1) 2009.

The following recommendations were provided to the WHO Director-General:

- All countries should immunize their health-care workers as a 1st
priority to protect the essential health infrastructure. As vaccines
available initially will not be sufficient, a step-wise approach to
vaccinate particular groups may be considered. SAGE suggested the
following groups for consideration, noting that countries need to
determine their order of priority based on country-specific
conditions: pregnant women; those aged above 6 months with one of
several chronic medical conditions; healthy young adults of 15 to 49
years of age; healthy children; healthy adults of 50 to 64 years of
age; and healthy adults of 65 years of age and above.

- Since new technologies are involved in the production of some
pandemic vaccines, which have not yet been extensively evaluated for
their safety in certain population groups, it is very important to
implement post-marketing surveillance of the highest possible quality.
In addition, rapid sharing of the results of immunogenicity and
post-marketing safety and effectiveness studies among the
international community will be essential for allowing countries to
make necessary adjustments to their vaccination policies.

- In view of the anticipated limited vaccine availability at global
level and the potential need to protect against "drifted" strains of
virus, SAGE recommended that promoting production and use of vaccines
such as those that are formulated with oil-in-water adjuvants and live
attenuated influenza vaccines is important.

- As most of the production of the seasonal vaccine for the
2009-2010 influenza season in the northern hemisphere is almost
complete and is therefore unlikely to affect production of pandemic
vaccine, SAGE did not consider that there was a need to recommend a
"switch" from seasonal to pandemic vaccine production.

WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan endorsed the above
recommendations on 11 Jul 2009, recognizing that they were well
adapted to the current pandemic situation. She also noted that the
recommendations will need to be changed if and when new evidence
becomes available.

SAGE was established by the WHO Director-General in 1999 as the
principal advisory group to WHO for vaccines and immunization. It
comprises 15 members who serve in their personal capacity and
represent a broad range of disciplines from around the world in fields
such as epidemiology, public health, vaccinology, paediatrics,
internal medicine, infectious diseases, immunology, drug regulation,
programme management, immunization delivery, and health-care

Additional participants in the SAGE meeting included members of the ad
hoc policy advisory working group on influenza A(H1N1) vaccine, chairs
of the regional technical advisory groups and external experts.
Observers included industry representatives and regulators who did not
take part in the recommendation process in order to avoid conflicts of

Communicated by:

[2] Canada Press report
Date: Sun 12 Jul 2009
Source: The Canadian Press [edited]

Swine flu vaccine production has hit a snag, with manufacturers
reporting a disappointingly low yield when vaccines viruses are grown
in eggs. The World Health Organization [WHO] says so far the yield for
egg-based production is half or less than what manufacturers get when
they make vaccine to protect against seasonal H1N1 viruses. The lion's
share of influenza vaccine is made by companies that grow the viruses
in eggs.

New seed strains are being made in the hopes of increasing the vaccine
yield, a report by the WHO's vaccine chief, Dr. Marie-Paule Kieny,
says. But if the yield cannot be increased, it will slow the rate at
which pandemic vaccine comes out of the production pipeline, adding to
the time it takes to protect populations in countries like Canada that
have purchased vaccine. And countries that haven't pre-ordered
pandemic vaccine would face substantial delays before manufacturers
have product to sell to them.

"There's nothing to suggest it will take longer to make vaccine, if in
fact everything goes as planned. The question is: How much?" says Dr.
Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Diseases
Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. "There is nothing
magical about making this virus. The questions will be: How much?
When? and Where will it be available?"

The yield problem is revealed in presentations WHO staff made to last
week's special meeting of the expert panel that advises the
Geneva-based global health agency on vaccine issues. The body --
called the strategic advisory group of experts on immunization, or
SAGE -- was convened to give WHO counsel on a variety of questions
about pandemic vaccine use. Those include which groups should be given
priority when vaccine becomes available and whether the WHO should
recommend companies use adjuvants, which are boosting compounds that
could help stretch limited supplies.

Kieny, head of the WHO's initiative for vaccine research, was not
available for interview Sunday [12 Jul 2009]. The WHO is expected to
reveal details of the SAGE's deliberations and recommendations on
Monday [13 Jul 2009 [but not included in the preceding WHO press
release - Mod.CP]. But a report to the meeting by Dr. Wenqing Zhang of
the WHO's global influenza program says that vaccine manufacturers who
use so-called wild-type viruses (unmodified viruses like those now
circulating around the globe) are reporting yield rates similar to
what they get when they grow seasonal H1N1 viruses in Vero cells, a
cell culture medium. However, few manufacturers produce flu vaccine
this way.

Most make vaccine in eggs, using a reassortant or hybrid seed strain
designed to improve the chances of a good yield. These seed strains
can be made by a couple of methods, but the end result is a hybrid
with the external genes of the virus that vaccine is to protect
against and the internal genes of a virus with a proven track record
for growing well. Zhang's presentation says that of the various
reassortant vaccine viruses that have been made, the one with the
highest output still only generates about half of the yield seen with
seasonal H1N1 vaccine production.

Kieny's presentation calls the yield "less than optimal" and says
laboratories in the WHO's lab network are generating new sets of
vaccine viruses as quickly as possible. Her presentation illustrates
the impact low yield would have on availability of vaccine. Somewhere
between 850-900 million and 1.8 billion doses of pandemic vaccine are
already spoken for, she reports. The low end of the scale represents
what would be needed by countries with contracts if it is shown that
one shot will be enough to protect a person; the high end represents
what those countries would need if 2 shots per person are required. If
all manufacturers used the lowest possible effective dose, if yields
are on a par with seasonal H1N1 production and if countries only used
one dose per person, manufacturers could fill all their [advance]
purchase orders by mid-November 2009, Kieny's presentation suggests.

That best-case scenario also requires that all manufacturing capacity
remains devoted to pandemic vaccine and no portion shifts back to the
production of seasonal vaccine for next year's [2010] Southern
Hemisphere flu season. If companies don't use low doses and countries
that have pre-purchased vaccine demand 2 shots for all their citizens,
it could be mid-April [2010] before the vaccine manufacturers in
high-income countries have free capacity to devote to making vaccine
for middle and low income countries, Kieny's presentation estimates.
90 per cent of the world's flu vaccine production capacity is in the
high-income countries that use seasonal flu vaccine. A lower yielding
vaccine "would considerably push back the time lines," the
presentation warns. Assuming the yield is half that of seasonal flu
vaccine production, it would be mid-January 2010 before producers
could fill all contracts if they use a single-shot, low-dose regime,
Kieny estimates.

She suggests even with low-dose shots, a low-yield scenario would mean
manufacturers would not be able to fill all their existing contracts
until next June [2010] if the countries opt for 2 shots per person for
all their citizens.

[Byline: Helen Branswell]

Communicated by:
ProMED-mail Rapporteur Mary Marshall

[see also:
Influenza pandemic (H1N1) 2009 (03): official nomenclature -- to be archived
Influenza pandemic (H1N1) 2009 (02): obesity risk factor 20090711.2482
Influenza pandemic (H1N1) 2009 - Viet Nam: patient data 20090708.2450
Influenza A (H1N1) - worldwide (86): official nomenclature 20090706.2430]
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Monday, July 13, 2009

Update on Diabolical Dick

Will we ever know the extent of what Dick Cheney was up to?

Over the weekend, news surfaced that the former vice president ordered the CIA to withhold information from Congress about a secret spying program. This came in the wake of a report Friday that showed the Bush Administration ran an "unprecedented" surveillance system that went far beyond warrantless wiretapping.

These are just more examples of the Bush Administration's disrespect for the checks and balances established by our Constitution and for the rule of law. We cannot and will not turn a blind eye to these transgressions.

Urge Attorney General Eric Holder to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Bush Administration abuses of power!

The special prosecutor must be given a wide mandate, given the extraordinary number of allegations that have surfaced over the past few years. In addition to these most recent claims of secret CIA dealings, the prosecutor must have authority to look into questions around

* Torture and "enhanced interrogation" tactics
* Warrantless wiretapping and additional surveillance systems
* The politicization of the Bush Justice Department
* Abuse of executive privilege and signing statements
* Any other abuses of power that come to light in the course of the investigation

The Attorney General has indicated that he's willing to appoint a prosecutor to investigate a narrow set of issues related to torture.

That's not good enough.

It is critical that this prosecutor have a wide berth to investigate the totality of alleged abuses of power by the past Administration. Continued secrecy and indifference to prior misconduct will do lasting damage to the very fabric of our democracy.

Now is the time. We cannot wait for another news story about another transgression by Cheney or other former officials.

Urge Attorney General Holder to appoint a special prosecutor on Bush Administration abuses of power immediately.

Thanks for all you do.


Bob Edgar
and the rest of the team at Common Cause

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Chavez denounces Costa Rica mediation as trap set by Obama, Clinton

Sat Jul 11, 2009 9:52 am (PDT)

Chavez denounces Costa Rica mediation as trap set by Obama, Clinton

Thursday, June 9. After initially taking the bait of a "mediation" by Costa
Rican President Oscar Arias, a long time Washington ally, Zelaya and his
foreign minister Patricia Rodas left Costa Rica.

President Hugo Chavez denounced the mediation and said that "Zelaya quickly
got out of the trap."

>From Radio Mundial:

During a press conference with national and international media, the
Venezuelan president said that it was a "crass error" on the part of the
United States to propose a dialogue. "A dialogue with whom? With these
usurpers? The same ones who at this time are persecuting Hondurans? Who have
killed several people?" Chavez stressed that that would be an outrage. "I
hope that President Arias realizes the responsibility that he has taken on."

Chavez said that the United States should correct its mistakes before it's
too late, and added that "a whole world of contradictions is flourishing"
within the U.S. government. He said that the United States should
demonstrate now its condemnation of the coup in Honduras with actions, since
there have only been timid measures.

"We are giving the benefit of the doubt, and we are believing that it was a
mistake, and we don't want to think that it was a plan by Obama and Clinton.
That would constitute a trap for democracy, a danger and a serious mistake,
not only for Honduras but for the whole American continent, what happened in
San Jose, Costa Rica," he said.

He stressed that fortunately, President Manuel Zelaya got out of that trap
quickly, and regretted that Oscar Arias wanted Zelaya and "Goriletti" to sit
down at the same table. He said that "Goriletti" should be arrested as an
international criminal.


Durante una rueda de prensa con medios nacionales e internacionales, el
mandatario venezolano afirmó que fue un "craso error" de Estados Unidos
proponer un diálogo. "¿Un diálogo con quién? ¿Con estos usurpadores? ¿Los
mismos que a estas horas están persiguiendo hondureños? ¿Los que ya han
matado a varias personas?", se preguntó Chávez, y destacó que eso sería
indigno. "Espero que el presidente Arias tome conciencia de la
responsabilidad que ha asumido".

Indicó que Estados Unidos debería rectificar a tiempo, y señaló que en el
gobierno norteamericano "esta aflorando un mundo de contradicciones". Chávez
señaló que EE.UU. ahora debe demostrar con acciones su condena al golpe de
estado en Honduras, ya que ha habido solo tímidas medidas.< br>
"Estamos dando el beneficio de la buena fe y estamos creyendo que fue un
error, más no queremos pensar que se trate de un plan de Obama con Clinton.
Esto constituiría una trampa para la democracia, un peligro y grave error no
sólo para Honduras, sino para todo el continente Americano, esto que ocurrió
en San José de Costa Rica", sostuvo.
Destacó que afortunadamente el presidente Manuel Zelaya salió rápido de esa
trampa, y lamentó que Oscar Arias pretendiera que Zelaya y Goriletti (al que
ahora también bautizó este viernes como "Carmonetti") se sentaran en la
misma mesa. Opinó que Goriletti debería ser detenido como delincuente


Published: Friday, July 10, 2009
Bylined to: Wire Services

Venezuelan President Chavez attacks USA's plan to solve Honduras coup d'etat

* Wire
Services:*Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez denounced a US-backed
effort to ease
Honduras' coup crisis on Friday even as mediators tried *-- so far
unsuccessfully --* to find a compromise by rival contenders for the

Chavez objected to the very idea of giving those who ousted President
Manuel Zelaya the same treatment as the leader himself.-

The talks mediated by Costa Rica's President Oscar Arias "became a trap that
set a very grave precedent," Chavez told a news conference in Caracas. "How
horrible to see a legitimate president receiving a usurper and giving him
the same treatment," Chavez said, referring to Arias' Thursday night meeting
with Roberto Micheletti, the Honduran congressional leader who was sworn in
as president when the military threw Zelaya out of the country on June 28.

*Chavez said Micheletti should have been arrested in Costa Rica.*


US officials have promoted the talks in Costa Rica's capital, hoping to ease
Zelaya back into the presidency without violence while resolving the
concerns of Honduras' Supreme Court, Congress and military, which say they
legally removed the president for violating the constitution by maneuvering
to extend his time in power. That mediation at least briefly overshadowed
Chavez' more belligerent crusade to have his ally Zelaya returned to power.

The United Nations and Organization of American States *-- including the Obama administration, --*have demanded that Zelaya be returned to power so he can serve out
a term that ends in January. No foreign government has recognized Micheletti.

Arias met both Honduran leaders on Thursday, but failed to convince them to
talk together. Each continues to insist that the other give up claims to
lead the country. "We have no illusions. This may take longer than we
imagined," said Arias, who won the 1987 Nobel Peace Prize for helping
resolve Central America's civil wars.

A new CID-Gallup poll indicated that Hondurans were split on the coup, with
a slight majority appearing to oppose it. 46% said they disagreed with
Zelaya's ouster and 41% said they approved of it, according to the
face-to-face survey of 1,204 Hondurans in the days following the ouster.
Another 13% declined to answer. They were about evenly divided on Zelaya
himself, with 31% saying they had a positive image of him and 32% negative.
That was close to findings of a similar poll four months ago in which
positive views outpaced negative by percentage points. The pollsters said
the survey, conducted in 16 of Honduras' 18 provinces from June 30 to July
4, had a margin of error of 2.8 percentage points.

*Both Zelaya and Micheletti left Costa Rica after their meetings with Arias.
* While the two leaders left, delegates continued meetings with Arias' team
on Friday, but OAS Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza said "there is lack
of willingness to discuss things."

Back in Honduras,

Micheletti said he was ready to see Zelaya come back -- "but to be sent
directly to the courts," referring to criminal charges including treason and
usurping public functions.

Zelaya, meanwhile, flew to the Dominican Republic, where President Leonel
Fernandez received him with full military honors and promised to speak for
Zelaya at the upcoming summit of the Nonaligned Movement in Egypt.

Thousands of Zelaya blocked a road and burned tires in the Honduran capital
of Tegucigalpa on Friday, but there were no reported clashes with troops or
police. One of the protesters, union member Jose Luis Vaquedano, 55,
dismissed the talks in Costa Rica as "a delaying tactic by the US government
meant to give the coup leaders time to consolidate power."


Saturday, July 11, 2009

Suicides in US Army Rise in First Half of 2009

Friday 10 July 2009

by: Agence France-Presse | Visit article original @ Agence France-Presse

Washington - Suicides in the US Army are on the rise with 88 suspected cases in the first six months of the year, compared to 67 in the same period in 2008, according to Pentagon figures issued.

The latest figures confirmed warnings from top US military officers that the number of suicides among active-duty soldiers this year was on track to surpass a record level set in 2008.

Last year 128 soldiers took their lives, up from 115 in 2007, amid increasing strain on Army troops serving repeated combat tours.

The 2008 suicide rate among active duty soldiers rose to 20.2 per 100,000, surpassing a demographically adjusted national suicide rate of 19.5 per 100,000 in 2005, the latest year on record.

Of the 88 reported suicides this year, 54 have been confirmed and 34 are pending investigation, the Defense Department said in a statement.

In about 90 percent of previous cases, suspected suicides have been confirmed, officials say.

"Every soldier suicide is different and tragic in its own way," said Brigadier General Colleen McGuire, director of the Army's suicide prevention task force.

"Although suicide can impact anyone, we're finding that male soldiers, in combat-arms occupational specialties, between ages 18 and 27 are more vulnerable," McGuire said.

The army has responded to the growing problem with more suicide prevention programs, efforts to screen soldiers for mental health problems and campaigns to reduce the stigma that prevents soldiers from seeking treatment.

The trauma of combat combined with the effect of repeated tours has led to a record rise in suicides across the armed services and particularly the US Army -- which has carried the heaviest burden in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.


Stop Insider Trading on Capitol Hill!! Support the S.T.O.C.K. Act!

We need you to take action today to close an absurd legal loophole that allows "insider trading" by government officials.

"Stop Trading On Congressional Knowledge"

Believe it or not, members of Congress, high-ranking appointees in the executive branch, and other federal employees who have access to non-public information about publicly traded companies can use that information to buy or sell securities or commodities for personal gain.

Lobbyists--and "political intelligence consultants" paid specifically to haunt the halls of Congress for insider tips--can also get away with this crooked and potentially corrupt practice.

This kind of insider trading is already illegal for corporate executives, Wall Street brokers, and ordinary citizens. This kind of insider trading should be illegal for people who work in and around the government, too.

The Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act, introduced by Representatives Brian Baird (D-Wash.), Louise McIntosh Slaughter (D-N.Y.), and Tim Walz (D-Minn.), would close this loophole and prohibit insider trading by federal employees and others who try to cash in on non-public knowledge gleaned from public officials.

This is a no-brainer. The people entrusted to monitor the financial services industry on our behalf must not be tempted to exploit their privileged status for personal gain.

An important hearing on this bill is taking place next week. Click on title above to use our simple online form and urge your representative to support the STOCK Act today!

Thank you for all you do!

Angela, Eric, Glenn & Maureen
Your Action Team at Public Citizen's Congress Watch Division

To learn more about real financial accountability and security, visit http://www.citizen.org/pressroom/release.cfm?ID=2834.

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General of US Intelligence says No Plane Hit The Pentagon

It would appear that the truth is not only "out there", it's beginning
to leak out of the dam!

Click on title above to see video;

Major General Albert "Bert" N. Stubblebine III, head of all intelligence

Pentagon was NOT hit by a plane, WTC 7 brought down by explosives, Media
in America is controlled.

A terrible pilot hits pentagon accounting office holding records of
missing 3 trillion in oil for money scheme & missing 2.3 trillion in DOD
expenses, Pentagon debris a single 3 foot engine Proven not related to
757,FBI took all recordings & refuses to show, The FCC had all records
on criminals like Paulson, Geithner, Ruben, Summers & others engaging in
that illegal activity. But all the records of those illegal trades were
destroyed when WTC 7 was brought down by thermite on 9/11!

911 was used to the public and enact the end of the Bill of Rights &
invasion of oil bearing countries, & make money for private companies
like Halliburton, (stock from 10 to 50 a share)!By destroying the WTC,
they were able to cover up theft of gold bullion & destroy illegal
financial transaction records performed just prior to the attacks,
Silverstein spends 140 million to make 7 billion almost over night;
Silverstein said it was demolished by explosives, (pull it)
Mon Jul 6, 2009 12:46 pm

More Truth about 9/11 Leaks Out

NSA Security running amok to plug leaks about 9/11 ------------

Thu Jul 9, 2009 10:08 pm (PDT)

NSA Security running amok to plug leaks about 9/11
By Wayne Madsen
Online Journal Contributing Writer
Jul 7, 2009, 00:17

(WMR) -- WMR has learned that the National Security
Group, responsible for security, has grown to an immense security and
counter-intelligence force, with an estimated one thousand government
employees, contractors, and paid informants. NSAs Security
force is reportedly primarily tasked with plugging any leaks of
classified or other information that points to U.S. governments
involvement with the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.
NSA Security has doggedly pursued a number of NSA employees, some in
sting operations, others in frequent polygraphs and
repeated security interviews where threats are made by thuggish NSA
security agents with and without the presence of FBI agents, and others
in constant surveillance operations at their homes, churches, and
other locations away from the Fort Meade, Maryland, headquarters of the

The most egregious NSA Security operation against an NSA employee was
the 2004 arrest of NSA analyst Ken Ford, Jr. Ford became a target of
opportunity for NSA Security and the FBI after Vice President Dick
Cheney noted his name on an NSA signals intelligence report on Saddam
Husseins government that stated that there was no proof from
interceptions of Iraqi communications that Saddam Hussein possessed
weapons of mass destruction.

Cheney and other neocons in the Bush White House arranged for a
“sting” operation to be mounted as retribution against
Ford. Ford was charged with taking classified papers home from NSA
headquarters, something that is quite impossible considering the
stringent security in place at one of the most-secured complexes in the

Ford was convicted by a tainted jury and sentenced to seven years in
federal prison. Ford, who is African-American, originally had an
African-American federal trial judge. However, the judge was replaced by
a pro-Iraq war Jewish U.S. judge, Peter Messitte, who set out to
ensure a guilty conviction of Ford in cahoots with Jewish U.S.
Attorney for Maryland Rod Rosenstein, and Jewish Assistant U.S.
Attorney for Southern Maryland David Salem, both Bush appointees.
Nothing was done by the judge or prosecutors to dismiss from the jury
a contractor whose company had major contracts with NSA. The trio of
Messitte, Rosenstein, and Salem have also
rocket-docketed a number of cases, resulting in
slam-dunk convictions, against Arab- and Iranian-Americans in the
southern district of Maryland.

NSAs Security chief is Kemp Ensor III. Ensor has built up what
amounts to a massive law enforcement and intelligence agency in Maryland
that operates as a virtual independent operation that answers to no one.
Marylands congressional delegation has shown little interest in
oversight over the security operation.

In fact, WMR has learned that many NSA employees, aware of the political
and other misuse of their agency by the Bush-Cheney administration,
avidly backed Barack Obama for president hoping that the past era when
NSA complied with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and
the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution would be restored. However,
many NSA employees are bitterly disappointed that Obama has done nothing
to curtail not only the widespread surveillance of the communications of
law-abiding Americans but the constant Stasi-like
harassment and surveillance conducted by Ensors team of agents
and confidential informants.

WMR has also learned that NSA Security has been authorized to work
directly with Washington area local police department intelligence
divisions to carry out its surveillance of not only NSA employees and
contractors, but journalists who report on the activities of NSA. Two
police departments mentioned in this respect are the Alexandria,
Virginia, and Anne Arundel County, Maryland, sheriff departments.
One senior level NSA official recently found himself sitting in front of
NSA Security questioners asking why he gave his NSA business cards to
some students at a university. It turns out the official was trying to
recruit students for NSA employment. When the official asked why there
was a problem in his handing out his business cards, the answer by NSA
Security was that some of them, all American citizens, had
Russian last names.

Even former NSA employees and contractors are being subjected to
continual NSA Security surveillance and harassment at their work places
and other locations, according to WMRs sources. Some have lost
their jobs as a result of pressure from NSA Security.
WMR has in the past reported on NSA surveillance of journalists. On
December 28, 2005, we reported: WMR has learned that the
National Security Agency (NSA), on the orders of the Bush
administration, eavesdropped on the private conversations and e-mail of
its own employees, employees of other U.S. intelligence agencies --
including the CIA and DIA -- and their contacts in the media, Congress,
and oversight agencies and offices. The journalist surveillance program,
code named ˜FIRSTFRUITS, was part of a Director of
Central Intelligence (DCI) program that was maintained at least until
October 2004 and was authorized by then-DCI Porter Goss. FIRSTFRUITS was
authorized as part of a DCI Countering Denial and
Deception program responsible to an entity known as the Foreign
Denial and Deception Committee (FDDC). Since the intelligence
communitys reorganization, the DCI has been replaced by the
Director of National Intelligence headed by John Negroponte and his
deputy, former NSA director Gen. Michael Hayden.

Since the revelation of the NSA journalist monitoring database, which
later added communications intercepts of journalists phone
calls, emails, and faxes to its database, NSA Security has, according to
information received by WMR, conducted physical surveillance of
journalists it deems to be threats to the operations of the agency. The
top targeted journalists, who make up a virtual rogues
gallery at NSA Security, complete with photographs and other
personal information, are: former Baltimore Sun and current Wall Street
Journal reporter Siobhan Gorman, Washington Times reporter Bill Gertz,
former Baltimore Sun and current New York Times reporter Scott Shane,
Baltimore Sun reporter Phil McGowan, author James Bamford, New York
Times reporters James Risen and Eric Lichtblau, and this editor, Wayne

In addition to the aforementioned, FIRSTFRUITS also contained the
names of former Washington Post reporter Vernon Loeb, New Yorker
journalist Seymour Hersh, and UPIs John C.. K. Daly.

Ironically, NSA Security allegedly has its own connections in the news
media. A Washington Times source revealed that the papers
writer of the Inside the Beltway column, John
McCaslin, has a relative inside NSA Security -- Robert McCaslin, the
chief of NSA Security counter-intelligence and the chief
sting agent against Ford. Robert McCaslin, according
to the Times source, is the brother of the papers columnist.

NSA Security is also able to utilize the agencys most
sophisticated electronic surveillance systems to monitor the activities
of journalists. The cell phones of journalists are routinely used as
listening devices, even when turned off. And what was considered a
sure-fire method of avoiding having a cell phone used as a transmitter,
removing the batteries in what has become known as batteries
out conversations, is no longer safe. Even when the batteries
are removed, the global positioning system (GPS) chip in cell phones
continues to have enough residual power that two to three pings from
satellites can give away a persons location and what other
uniquely identifiable cell phones are at the same location.

The bottom line is that a number of NSA personnel who were on duty in
the months leading up to 9/11, the day of the attacks, and subsequent
weeks and months, are aware of undeniable facts that point to a massive
cover-up by the Bush-Cheney administration of the circumstances
surrounding 9/11, including what actually befell United Airlines flight
93 and who was issuing direct military orders from the White House.
The Obama administration, rather than lessen the pressure on the NSA
personnel, has turned up the heat and is resorting to even more
draconian methods to ensure silence. The word from inside NSA is that a
state of fear exists and the mission of the agency, to conduct
surveillance of foreign communications to provide threat indications and
warnings to U..S. troops and policy makers and protect sensitive U.S.
government communications from unauthorized eavesdropping is suffering
as a result.

Previously published in the Wayne Madsen Report.
Copyright © 2009 WayneMadenReport.comWayne Madsen is a Washington,
DC-based investigative journalist and nationally-distributed columnist.
He is the editor and publisher of the Wayne Madsen Report (subscription

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Ex-Monsanto VP hired as FDA adviser

This is exactly the type of "Revolving Door" Special Interests / Croniesm Politics that Obomba promiced he would not allow in his administration! So much for RealChange.Com


Bizjournals - A former lawyer with Monsanto Co. has been hired as an adviser at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Michael Taylor, who worked as Monsanto’s former vice president for public policy for two years until 2000, will advise Commissioner of Food and Drugs Margaret Hamburg, the FDA said Tuesday.

Full article w/ comments;


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Dems Block Efforts to Audit the Fed

July 6, 2009

Dear Friend of Liberty,

Earlier today, the first shot in our battle to pass Audit the Fed through the U.S. Senate was fired on the Senate floor by Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina.

Senator DeMint, who has a well-deserved reputation for taking the battle to the other side in the Senate, once again proved why he is such a valuable ally in our fight to bring transparency and accountability to the Federal Reserve.

A little while ago, the Senate voted to pass HR 2918, the Legislative Branch Appropriations Act. This $3 billion bill contains, among many other things, provisions for GAO audits on certain agencies.

Seizing on a chance to take quick action to bring Audit the Fed up for a vote, and with the GAO provisions in mind, Senator DeMint attached the full text of S 604, the Senate version of Ron Paul's Audit the Fed bill, to HR 2918 as Senate Amendment 1367 before it was considered for final passage.

However, Senate Democrats refused to even allow a vote on the amendment! That's right. The internationalist, Fed-loving elite in the Senate used a parliamentary tactic to shut down DeMint's amendment.

After Senator DeMint brought Audit the Fed to the floor, Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska raised a "point of order" to prevent a vote, claiming that the amendment violated Senate Rule 16 by "legislating" on an appropriations bill. The Senate president agreed, and the amendment was shot down.

Senator DeMint did not back down, though, and directly challenged Senate leadership by pointing out the other GAO audits contained in the bill. As Senator DeMint listed them off, the Senate president was forced to agree with Senator DeMint that each one he described, all of which would be left in for final passage, also violated Senate Rule 16.

Which tells us at least one thing: the problem wasn't with "legislating" on the bill or violating Senate Rules (which is commonly done). Shooting down the amendment was about preventing a thorough audit of the Federal Reserve for the first time in its history!

Senate leadership is hoping this issue will just fade away so they can get on to what they deem to be more "important" business, like dictating what kind of healthcare plan you and I can carry or passing destructive Cap-and-Tax legislation.

But the American people deserve answers on what the Fed has done with trillions of our tax dollars and what they are committing us and future generations to as part of their secret deals with foreign central banks and governments.

The leadership decided today to turn their backs on transparency, but our fight is just beginning.

As Senator DeMint made clear on the floor, the Audit the Fed bill has wide bipartisan support. He rightly warned the Senate that even if they delay today, they WILL have to deal with the issue on the floor.

It is up to you and me to back up Senator DeMint's words by making sure the momentum continues to build and the bill comes up for a final vote.

The rejection of the Audit amendment is just the first battle in our war. Now is the time to really put the pressure on the U.S. Senate to Audit the Fed!

Senator DeMint fired the opening salvo and showcased the hypocrisy of the Senate for allowing other GAO audits to be included in the bill while refusing to even allow a vote on Fed transparency.

Again, we're just getting started. Senator DeMint will keep fighting to pass Audit the Fed on its own or as an amendment, and we need to continue putting pressure on our senators to do everything in their power to achieve a floor vote!

Click on title above to sign our online petition;


And visit our Audit the Fed action page for contact information to call, write, and fax your senators and urge them to support S 604 and to push for a final vote;


Together, we will finish this fight to Audit the Fed!

In Liberty,

John Tate


Friday, July 3, 2009

Top CIA Officials Appear Before Jury Over Destruction of al-Qaida Tapes

Friday 03 July 2009

by: Chris McGreal | Visit article original @ The Guardian UK

Former Attorney General Michael Mukasey, at a news conference in December 2007, was asked about the CIA's destruction of videotapes that recorded harsh interrogation techniques. (Photo: Reuters)

92 video tapes may have been illegally destroyed. London station chief included in inquiry.

Senior Central Intelligence Agency officials, including the London station chief, have been brought before a grand jury in Virginia investigating the potentially illegal destruction of 92 video tapes recording the torture and interrogation of al-Qaida detainees.

A special prosecutor, John Durham, has called the CIA officials as part of an 18-month-long criminal probe in to the destruction of evidence of the agency's interrogators using waterboarding and other forms of torture against Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al Nashiri who are described by the Americans as "high value" detainees now held at Guantanamo Bay.

Those ordered to testify include the former CIA chief, Porter J Gross. Another is a woman who is not publicly named who heads the agency's London station. She previously worked as the chief of staff for the head of the CIA's clandestine branch, Jose Rodriguez, who is the focus of the investigation.

The New York Times reports that former CIA officers have identified the woman as having helped carry out Rodriguez's order to destroy the tapes which had been kept in a safe in at the agency's station in Thailand where the torture and interrogations were carried out.

Rodriquez is reported to have been concerned that agents might have been identified and endangered if the tapes leaked.

But the CIA will also have been concerned that some of its agents may have been open to prosecution under domestic and international laws against torture besides the enormous damage to its already battered reputation if video were made public of the extended torture and brutal techniques used against the captives. The impact is likely to have been much greater than the outcry caused by the pictures of abuse by US soldiers at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison.

President Obama has since pledged not to prosecute individual agents for their part in torture and interrogations because they were assured by the Bush administration that their actions were legal.

The investigation was launched because the destruction of the tapes may amount to a criminal offense because it was evidence that could have been used in any prosecutions for torture. Robriquez has told colleagues that he received legal guidance from CIA lawyers who told him he had the authority to order the destruction of the tapes.

However it remains open to question whether anyone will be brought to trial for that or other alleged offenses given the Obama administration's desire to reassure CIA agents that they will not be pursued over past crimes.

The existence of the tapes was only made public after they were destroyed.
On Thursday, the Obama administration said it will delay until the end of next month the release of a 2004 CIA report detailing the torture and other abuse of prisoners held in clandestine prisons oversees.



Washington Post Cancels Lobbying Event Due to Uproar over Spa

Washington Post Publisher and Chief Executive Officer Katharine Weymouth said today she was cancelling plans for an exclusive "salon" at her home where, for as much as $250,000, the Post offered lobbyists and association executives off-the-record, nonconfrontational access to "those powerful few":

Click on title above for full story;

Thursday, July 2, 2009

U.S. Freedom Lover Fights Back

June 29, 2009

Dear Friend of Liberty,

Every day, Campaign for Liberty fights government tyranny in defense of freedom.

But right now one C4L staffer is taking his own brave stand for his liberties.

You may remember Steve Bierfeldt's story. A few months ago he went through a harrowing ordeal at the St. Louis Airport.

He was unconstitutionally searched, held against his rights, verbally harassed -- and he recorded the whole thing on his cellular phone.

Steve’s bravery in defense of his rights made him a cult celebrity in liberty circles.

And now his heroism is going mainstream.

You see, Steve has filed a lawsuit against the TSA, and CNN recently picked up the story.

Steve is an inspiration to every freedom-loving patriot, and a reminder that there are victories to be won every day in the fight for liberty.

And don’t forget, Steve is not just doing this for himself; his brave stand protects the rights of each and every one of us.

Click on title above to go to Steve’s C4L blog post where he posted the video. Please take a moment to leave a comment or word of encouragement;

Let him know that in his fight for freedom, he doesn’t stand alone.

In Liberty,

John Tate

>This Way to the Revolution<

Fw: You're Not the Boss of Me!
June 30, 2009 10:59 pm (PDT)


As you probably are aware, this Saturday is July 4th, Independence
Day. As you may also know, on the afternoon of this July 4th, I'll
be one of four speakers at Independence Mall, in downtown
Philadelphia, at the "Tea Party" event there. My topic will be
"You're Not the Boss of Me!" and this article is a sort of
introduction to that rant.

The Declaration of Independence basically amounted to a bunch of
guys telling their king, "You're not the boss of us anymore." The
Declaration was an act of treason, written by a bunch of tax cheats
and lawbreakers. It wasn't merely some people whining or
petitioning the government to do something different. In fact, the
Declaration describes how they had already tried that, and it
hadn't worked. So they resorted to open disobedience. And it wasn't
just one protest or demonstration, to make a point or try to
convince their masters to change; it was a declaration that they
were completely and permanently denying the right of the standing
regime to rule them at all, ever again. And that's a pretty darn
radical thing to do.

For all the parades, fireworks, picnics, and other events which
will happen on July 4th to celebrate "Independence Day," how many
Americans today do you think are capable of even contemplating the
possibility of engaging in "illegal" resistance against
"authority"? Not many.

What would the equivalent of the Declaration of Independence look
like today? Well, we would have a lot MORE to complain about than
the colonists did, with far higher taxes, far more intrusive
regulation, and a much higher level of oppression all around. But
what would the conclusion be? It wouldn't be, "So you better change
those laws!" It would be more like this:

"Dear Federal Government, you're fired! We're not paying your taxes
anymore, not obeying your laws ever again, and from now on we will
resist your thugs when you try to enforce your will on us."

How many Americans would dare to even THINK such a thing, much less
say it out loud, or write it down and send it to the feds? Very
few, indeed. The truth is, the spirit of resistance is all but dead
in this country. Even among those in the pro-freedom movement, the
vast majority of efforts revolve around begging the masters to be
nice, petitioning for or against this or that legislation, arguing
over WHICH politician should run our lives and take our money.

"Write your congressman and tell him to oppose ... "
"Promise to vote against any candidate who doesn't support ... "
"Sign this petition, to push legislation which will ... "

I have a better idea. How about if a few million of us send one
message--and only one message--to those pretending to be our
"representatives," those who claim to have the right to rule us.
That message should be this: "Legislate whatever you want; I will
not obey. And when you send your thugs to punish me, I will
resist." THAT is the message of the Declaration of Independence.
But on this July 4th, how many Americans do you think would even
dare to THINK such a thing--even quietly and to themselves?

What this country needs is not a change in legislation, or a change
of parties or candidates. It doesn't need another election, or
another protest or demonstration, or another group lobbying the
government for this or that. What it needs is a people with a
fundamentally different mindset. What it needs is a population
capable of saying, "You're not the boss of us!" But NOTHING the
people ever hear from the mainstream media, or from those in
government, or from the talking heads and political pundits, will
ever endorse such an attitude. On the contrary, the only message
you'll ever hear in the papers, on the radio or on the TV, from
academia or from the government, will boil down to this: "You can
whine and complain about what the government is doing to you, and
you can beg your masters to change, but you must never disobey!"

As long as obedience to authority is taught as the highest
principle--and it absolutely is almost everywhere in the country--
this will be a nation of pathetic slaves perpetually yet
fruitlessly whining at their sadistic, power-happy masters. Maybe
this country should be something better than that.

If you're one of the few who would like to hear a drastically
different message--one that is NOT premised on the assumption that
we all have an obligation to bow to those who claim to be our
masters--then be at Fifth and Market in downtown Philadelphia on
the afternoon of July 4th. (The talks start at 3:00, and my rant
might be first, so make sure you're there before that.) And while
you're at it, bring along some obedient, unthinking flag-wavers, to
see if they can handle some REAL advocacy of freedom. Let's see how
they respond when their indoctrination as obedient subjects
collides with the concept of true liberty.

Or, if you can't make it to Philly on the Fourth (or even if you
can), order a few copies of "The Iron Web," and start "corrupting"
the people you know by exposing them to the radical idea that they
own themselves, and that they don't NEED the permission of tyrants
in order to be free. Yes, understanding freedom requires a dramatic
shift in mindset from the statist conformism that now plagues this
country. On the other hand, it's getting downright embarrassing
watching all the robbed, regulated and restricted American slaves
wildly cheering about how free they are.>

Larken Rose
Click on title above to go to:

(P.S. The event in Philly will be videotaped, and I'm sure it will
be posted online fairly quickly. I'll at least be posting my rant
on my YouTube channel very soon after.)

Job One -- Pressure on Obama to Show Stimulus Results

The Note: Job One -- Pressure on Obama to Show Stimulus Results
July 02, 2009 8:06 AM

Of the very many things President Obama took on when he assumed office, the one that matters Thursday is the hard bigotry of high expectations.

That’s because this is a job-number day -- time for that monthly glimpse of economic activity that doubles as a political barometer in the age of the stimulus.

The numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, out at 8:30 am ET, will be bad -- those always-smart economists expect in the range of another 370,000 lost jobs in June, as we lurch toward double-digit unemployment rates -- though probably not as bad as they’ve been.

And, if you listen to the Obama administration economists who will fan out to make the case as soon as the numbers drop, not nearly as bad as it would have been without the stimulus.

But this is the political peril of spending three-quarters of a trillion dollars before you even get comfortable in Washington: You’re expected to know where it’s all going, and then you’re expected to prove that it’s doing what it’s supposed to be doing.

Skepticism is growing on that front. (Old charts and predictions don’t go away, and who believes jobs and being “saved or created” when the numbers say they’re being lost?)

Think this isn’t something they’re thinking about at high levels inside the West Wing?

Said Vice President Joe Biden, on a conference call with local officials: “My rear end is on the line, just like yours,” Biden said, per Time’s Michael Scherer. “I’m the guy in charge of this deal. So if it doesn’t work, it’s me.”

“What really haunts the White House is the fear that much of the money might be spent less efficiently than it could have been,” Scherer writes. “Hanging over all these concerns is the prospect that a second stimulus bill may be needed to bail out states in late 2010 or 2011. . . . In June, White House counselor David Axelrod left open the possibility that a second stimulus may be needed. The White House is confronted with the prospect of having to ask for more money early next year — even as a group of voters is ready to dump the first stimulus right now.”

What should also haunt the White House: “Even as the nation's economy begins clawing its way out of the worst recession in 60 years, there are growing signs that this recovery could come with an unsettling twist: The wheels of commerce may begin to turn again without any substantial boost in jobs,” Don Lee writes in the Los Angeles Times.

“Not only is the national unemployment rate, now 9.4%, likely to climb into double digits later this year, but it is also expected to remain there well into 2010, economists say. That would prolong the misery of the unemployed, squeeze retailers and other businesses, and add millions of dollars in government costs and lost productivity. It could even threaten the recovery itself.”

Paul Krugman sees a “prolonged jobless” economic recovery, unless there’s more stimulus spending. “The fact of the matter is that the unemployment rate is much worse than the administration contemplated or that most people expected,” Krugman tells ABC’s Jennifer Parker.

A new character joins the debate. Coming Thursday from the GOP: House Republican Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio,unveils a Web video with “Ellie Mae” the bloodhound (and featuring the voice of Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, R-Ga.), sniffing the country in search of jobs.

“The fact is the stimulus isn’t working,” Westmoreland says. “Washington keeps spending your money, but jobs keep disappearing.”

Hang in there honey,” Boehner tells Ellie Mae, “we’ll find ’em.”

The numbers don’t catch anyone at the White House off-guard: The president meets with business leaders at 1:45 pm ET, and delivers remarks on “innovation and jobs” about 2:20 pm ET, before heading to Camp David for the holiday.

One of the problems in spending stimulus cash . . . Biden Wednesday touted broadband access, and yet, “the first dollars for broadband expansion won't be spent until the end of the year at the earliest,” The Washington Post’s Cecilia Kang reports. “Some analysts and telecommunications industry insiders have said that orders for telecommunications network equipment and services have been delayed as potential applicants for broadband funds wait for the government to push forward with the grants and loans.”

As for that newfound Democratic optimism: “We have 60 votes on paper,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., tells The New York Times’ Carl Hulse. “But we cannot bulldoze anybody; it doesn’t work that way. My caucus doesn’t allow it. And we have a very diverse group of senators philosophically. I am not this morning suddenly flexing my muscles.”

Hulse reports: “Indeed, becoming the first party in 30 years to reach the fabled plateau of 60 could create as many political problems as it solves, raising expectations sky high and potentially causing a backlash should Democrats falter on energy or health care.”

New Quinnipiac numbers: “Approval among independent voters is 52-37 percent, compared to 57-30 percent in a June 4 survey. . . . The survey of more than 3,000 voters also finds that voters feel 32-30 percent that things in the nation have gotten better since President Obama was inaugurated. Independent voters say 32-27 percent that things are worse, with 40 percent saying things are the same”

Costs, coloring the health care push: At his town hall Wednesday, the president “cast his proposal as a cost-saver, rather than a giant expenditure, saying the economy was not likely to rally without reversing ‘the crushing cost of health care,’ ” Jeff Zeleny writes in The New York Times.

Obama “is signaling flexibility on many of his previous stances as he tries to put a health-care deal together,” The Wall Street Journal’s Laura Meckler reports. “Asked about the shift in positions, White House spokesman Reid Cherlin said the president would prefer that Congress adopt his health-care plan. But ‘there is recognition across the board that we can't wait another year to get this done,’ he said.”

And yes, that was a presidential hug: “President Obama played the comforter-in-chief Wednesday when a woman with kidney cancer, no insurance and little hope went looking for help at his health care summit,” Michael McAuliff writes in the New York Daily News.

Regarding Debby Smith, the recipient of the hug: “Smith said after the town hall meeting that she had been invited to attend the session by the White House. But while the former accountant said she was working for Organizing for America -- a pro-Obama group pushing healthcare overhaul -- she had been advised she would probably not have the chance to ask a question,” The Boston Globe’s Susan Milligan reports. “The exchange with Smith was vividly reminiscent of many encounters then-candidate Bill Clinton had in 1992 on the campaign trail, when scores of patients told sad stories of being denied coverage or treatment for illnesses, despite having been once employed and insured.”

“The questions posed from social media networks were selected by White House staffers, and the three people he called on from the audience all were affiliated with advocacy groups that support Obama,” USA Today’s Susan Page reports.

“White House officials said that was a coincidence,” per The Washington Post’s Michael D. Shear and Jose Antonio Vargas.

(As for those outside the hall -- Dana Milbank has some of the enlightened commentary from the White House Facebook discussion page, with such gems as: “WHO LIKES POTATOES!!!!!!!”)

How does this bode for health care’s political prospects -- and Obama’s political coattails? Virginia gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds passed on an opportunity to be alongside the president in Northern Virginia Wednesday.

“I've got this thing I'm working on -- I'm trying to be elected governor of Virginia,” Deeds told Rosalind Helderman of The Washington Post. “As much as I would have liked to be in Annandale with the president and the governor, I needed to be in Hampton Roads today.”

Slashing prices: Democratic lawmakers say the revised plan from Senators Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., and Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., “would cost dramatically less than an earlier, incomplete proposal, and help show the way toward coverage for 97 percent of all Americans,” per the AP’s David Espo. “The two senators said the Congressional Budget Office put the cost of the proposal at $611.4 billion over 10 years, down from $1 trillion two weeks ago. The revising also ‘virtually eliminates’ an earlier forecast that the proposal would cause many companies to drop coverage for their workers, they said.”

Fireworks this weekend: “U.S. missile defenses are prepared to try to knock down the last stage of a Taepodong-2 missile that North Korea is expected soon to launch if sensors detect the weapon threatens U.S. territory, the commander of the U.S. Northern Command told The Washington Times,” per the Times’ Bill Gertz.

Fireworks next week: “The Obama White House on Wednesday adopted a hard line against negotiating away missile-defense sites in Eastern Europe and limiting NATO expansion in the former Soviet Union, just days ahead of a summit meeting in Moscow,” The Wall Street Journal’s Jonathan Weisman, Gregory L. White, and Alan Cullison report. “The hardened posture made it clear the Kremlin wouldn't make headway on two of its top priorities for the summit.”

The big word on a big crisis: Mark Leibovich has his take on California, and the gubernatorial race: “Who Can Possibly Govern California?” is the headline on his New York Times Magazine piece. (Answer: Maybe Gavin Newsom?)

As for Gov. Mark Sanford, R-S.C.: “On Wednesday afternoon, Senate President Pro Tempore Glenn McConnell became the latest -- and one of the most significant -- members of the S.C. legislature to say the governor should consider stepping down after admitting to an affair,” The State reports.

And how far is Sanford’s closest ally, state Sen. Tom Davis, from following him?

“Before any important decision I make comes due diligence, and I owe it to my constituents to perform that due diligence before taking a public position on an issue as important as whether to call for the resignation of a duly-elected statewide official,” Davis said in a statement. “Accordingly, I have met today with the governor and members of his staff; I have had telephone conversations with my friend, Jenny Sanford; I have talked with the governor’s legislative supporters and opponents; and I have talked with key reform leaders.”

Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C.: “A lot of us are talking to him behind the scenes in hopes that he'll make the right decision about what needs to be done.”

Plus: “Gov. Mark Sanford left the Governor’s Mansion without a security escort, 38 times in 2008. In the first six months of this year, he left the mansion without security, 39 times,” The State’s Clif LeBlanc reports.

Think he can make it? This is one column’s worth of headlines from The State’s Website: “Sanford has no plans to budge . . . Governor's mental state questioned . . . Many talking to Sanford as calls for resignation grow . . . DeMint not pushing resignation . . . Jenny Sanford staying with parents in Fla. . . . Saga a hot revenue stream for ETV . . . Sanford adds to trip reimbursement . . . Sanford 'crossed lines' with others.”

“Gov. Mark Sanford’s long and emotional interview with The Associated Press Tuesday appears to have been the final straw for South Carolina’s Republican establishment, much of which is now actively seeking his resignation,” Politico’s Andy Barr and Jonathan Martin report.

“Republican lawmakers in South Carolina who had supported the governor since he acknowledged the extramarital affair last week suddenly turned against him, saying the disclosures amounted to a distraction that would prevent him from effectively doing the state's business,” The Washington Post’s Philip Rucker reports.

What it means that arguments over Gov. Sarah Palin, R-Alaska, rage still: “Palin is an irresistible personality around whom the arguments about the Republican future continue to swirl. But the events of this week reflect deeper arguments inside a party that cannot yet be sure if it has hit bottom -- as [Norm] Coleman's departure from the Senate reminds all Republicans,” The Washington Post’s Dan Balz and Perry Bacon Jr. report.

Always good for congressional approval ratings: “Spending by lawmakers on taxpayer-financed trips abroad has risen sharply in recent years, a Wall Street Journal analysis of travel records shows, involving everything from war-zone visits to trips to exotic spots such as the Galápagos Islands,” The Wall Street Journal’s Brody Mullins and T.W. Farnam report. “The spending on overseas travel is up almost tenfold since 1995, and has nearly tripled since 2001, according to the Journal analysis of 60,000 travel records. Hundreds of lawmakers traveled overseas in 2008 at a cost of about $13 million. That's a 50% jump since Democrats took control of Congress two years ago.”

And who makes what at the White House? “Twenty-eight-year-old speechwriter Jon Favreau, for example, rakes in the top salary, $172,000: just as much as Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, Senior Advisor’s David Axelrod and Valerie Jarrett and National Security Advisor Gen. Jim Jones,” per ABC’s Sunlen Miller.

The Kicker:

“Rational people don't do that.” -- State Sen. Larry A. Martin, R-S.C., on Gov. Sanford’s confessional tour.