April 27th, 2009



What Happened to the Ban on Assault Weapons?

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Published: April 26, 2009

THE evolution in public policy concerning the manufacture, sale and possession of semiautomatic assault weapons like AK-47s, AR-15s and Uzis has been very disturbing. Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and I all supported a ban on these formidable firearms, and one was finally passed in 1994.

When the 10-year ban was set to expire, many police organizations — including 1,100 police chiefs and sheriffs from around the nation — called on Congress and President George W. Bush to renew and strengthen it. But with a wink from the White House, the gun lobby prevailed and the ban expired.

I have used weapons since I was big enough to carry one, and now own two handguns, four shotguns and three rifles, two with scopes. I use them carefully, for hunting game from our family woods and fields, and occasionally for hunting with my family and friends in other places. We cherish the right to own a gun and some of my hunting companions like to collect rare weapons. One of them is a superb craftsman who makes muzzle-loading rifles, one of which I displayed for four years in my private White House office.

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Cut added. Sry guise. I was half-dead when I made this post.

Miss CA Becomes Christian Icon

Miss Calif. gets heroine's welcome at SD church

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Miss California Carrie Prejean, who became the bombshell of the Miss USA pageant by saying gay couples should not be allowed to marry, said Sunday that her state sponsors urged her to apologize afterward but she rejected the advice.

Prejean, 21, said officials from the Miss California USA pageant were worried that her comments would cost their contest financial backing and tried to prepare her for a string of post-pageant media interviews by discouraging her from discussing her religious beliefs.

"`You need to apologize to the gay community. You need to not talk about your faith. This has everything to do with you representing California and saving the brand,'" Prejean recalled being told. "I was representing California. I was representing the majority of people in California."

She offered her version of the tense hours following the April 19 Miss USA pageant while appearing at the San Diego megachurch that has helped shape her views. The Rock Church, founded by former San Diego Chargers defensive back Miles McPherson, was active in the campaign to pass a constitutional ban on gay marriages in California last year.

Prejean, who was named first runner-up to Miss North Carolina and will remain Miss California until November, has spent the last week defending her comments, made during the pageant's final round. They came in response to celebrity blogger Perez Hilton's question about legalizing same-sex marriage.

"I think it's great that Americans are able to choose one or the other. We live in a land where you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite marriage," she said. "And you know what? I think in my country, in my family, I think that I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman. No offense to anybody out there, but that's how I was raised."


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Obama move alarms Israel supporters

Obama move alarms Israel supporters
The administration seeks changes that would permit aid to Palestinians even if officials backed by Hamas, which has been designated a terrorist group, become part of a unified Palestinian government.

Reporting from Washington -- The Obama administration, already on treacherous political ground because of its outreach to traditional adversaries such as Iran and Cuba, has opened the door a crack to engagement with the militant group Hamas.

The Palestinian group is designated by the U.S. government as a terrorist organization and under law may not receive federal aid.

But the administration has asked Congress for minor changes in U.S. law that would permit aid to continue flowing to Palestinians in the event Hamas-backed officials become part of a unified Palestinian government.

The aid measures may never come into play. Power-sharing negotiations between Hamas and its rival, the U.S.-backed Fatah faction, appear deadlocked. The two have been bitterly divided since 2007, when Hamas drove Fatah out of the Gaza Strip. Fatah controls only the West Bank.

Nevertheless, the move has alarmed congressional supporters of Israel, who are watching for signs that the new Democratic team at the White House might be more sympathetic to Palestinians than was the Bush administration.

The administration's proposal is akin to agreeing to support a government that "only has a few Nazis in it," Rep. Mark Steven Kirk (R-Ill.) told Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton at a House hearing last week.

The move underscores the quandary faced by the Obama administration in its efforts to broker Mideast peace. President Obama has repeatedly called for a separate Palestinian state. But negotiating a peace agreement, or even distributing aid, will be difficult without dealing with Hamas, which won Palestinian elections in 2006.
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Children who get ADHD drugs score higher on tests

Children who get ADHD drugs score higher on tests

Children given stimulants to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder symptoms score higher on math and reading tests than children with the condition who do not get drugs, researchers said on Monday.

A study that tracked 594 children diagnosed with ADHD from kindergarten through fifth grade found the 60 percent who were prescribed drugs such as Ritalin and Adderall performed better on standardized tests than peers with ADHD who were not given medication.

But the scores of children treated with drugs for ADHD still lagged children not diagnosed with the condition.
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SEIU swipes at GOP on swine flu

SEIU swipes at GOP on swine flu

The Service Employees International Union has launched an online petition criticizing Republicans for delaying the confirmation of a Health and Human Services secretary in the face of a swine flu outbreak.

The union accuses Senate Republicans of delaying the confirmation of nominee Kathleen Sebelius to “curry favor with extremist outside groups” and depriving the department of leadership as the nation confronts a potential flu pandemic.

“This is simply unacceptable,” the union says on its website. “This disease is spreading as we speak, but right now, a Bush-appointed accountant is running the department. We need an HHS secretary NOW. Sign the petition telling the Senate to vote immediately to confirm Gov. Kathleen Sebelius. If we don't act, the swine flu might just turn into another Hurricane Katrina.”

Senate Democrats attempted to fast-track Sebelius during the first week of April, but Republicans raised objections, saying her nomination needed to follow regular order. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) attempted to schedule a vote Wednesday but was again thwarted.
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Swine Flu - Republicans STILL Creating Catastrophe

We face a potential swine flu pandemic, and we do not have the people in place in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that we need. Why not? The Republicans are blocking confirmation of Obama's nominee, Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius.

Why are they blocking this nomination? Because Gov. Sebelius won't approve Kansas Republican bills to block abortion even if the abortion will save the mother's life. They say she is "an enemy of the unborn," because she thinks doctors should be able to save the mother's life.
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Rep. Ellison arrested during Darfur protest

U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., was one of eight activists protesting the expulsion of aid groups in Darfur arrested today in front of the Sudanese Embassy in Washington, D.C.

Before being led away in handcuffs, Ellison said it's wrong to deprive aid to what he called "the most vulnerable people on our planet."

Ellison, Rep. Donna Edwards, D-Md., and six humanitarian leaders were arrested at the embassy after crossing a police line.

The activists are urging world leaders to take a stand against Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir's decision to expel 16 aid agencies from Darfur.

The United Nations says up to 300,000 people have died in Darfur, where ethnic African rebel groups have been fighting the Arab-dominated national government for six years.

Since 2007, early in his congressional tenure, Ellison has tried to make conditions in Darfur a major legislative priority. He is a member of Amnesty International USA's, Save Darfur Coalition


Are you kidding me?

Jesus Christ.

Oops, It Was Air Force One

Several buildings in lower Manhattan were evacuated this morning after a jumbo airliner tailed by fighter jets flew frighteningly close to the skyline. Turns out, it was a photo op for Air Force One. Via the Staten Island Advance:
A plane, that appears to be a commercial jet tailed by fighter jets, is a "pre-planned" military flight taking photos of the Statue of Liberty, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. Reports from some eyewitnesses indicate it may be Air Force One.

"It is pre-planned, pre-coordinated with everyone involved," said FAA spokesman Jim Peters. "It's a military flight over New York to take photos."

Several lower Manhattan buildings were evacuated as a precaution. Peters, who stressed it is not an emergency, said the flight is circling the Statue of Liberty and New York City to take photos. Peters said city officials as well as state government agencies in New York and New Jersey were briefed on the flight in advance.

Numerous people have called the Advance newsroom worried after seeing the low-flying plane on the North Shore.

So if all these government agencies knew the fly-over was coming, why couldn't they let the folks downtown know about it instead of sending them fleeing from their offices? Incredibly cruel.


(no subject)

 Jim McGreevey Outraged Over Gay Politico Doc


If there are two things former New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey definitely is, it's "drama queen" and "publicity whore." The Gay American who left office amid a gay sex scandal, with his wife by his side, has profited nicely from his story of sexual identity secrecy. But when it was all aired out in Outrage, the new doc about anti-gay gay politicos, he stormed out of the premiere.

Screened to the public for the first time at the Tribeca Film Festival, Outrage (fromThis Film Is Not Yet Rated director Kirby Dick) is the wet dream of activists like Mike Rogers, who thrive on outing and publicizing homophobic hypocrites.

But apparently, not for McGreevey, who was pissed ex-wife Dina was interviewed for the film. Uh, ya think? Giggles the Washington Blade:

McGreevey is reportedly upset that his ex-wife Dina was interviewed for the project. She’s still playing the wounded, naïve victim – supposedly unaware her husband was having sex with men at rest stops and cheating on her with male staffers. Dina, like her ex-husband, is a talented actor. In the film, she laments being duped and claims her life and that of her daughter were “destroyed.”

Not to be outdone, McGreevey manages crocodile tears while recounting how he prayed to his dead grandmother after coming out, relieved that he could finally live his “truth.”



"Secret" Meeting To Find The Gay Cure Busted By Protesters

LONDON, April 25, 2009 – Over 100 people were outside the Emmanuel Centre in London this afternoon to protest the “cure gays” conference organised by Anglican Mainstream and CARE and held in the building.

The therapy being promoted at the conference was of concern to the Royal College of Psychiatrists who said in a statement yesterday: “So-called treatments of homosexuality as recommended by NARTH create a setting in which prejudice and discrimination can flourish.”


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This really reminds me of

movies | Impish Fräulein2

"US gun sales surge over Obama, recession fears".

EL CAJON, California, April 27, 2009 | The rest of the US economy may be in the grip of a crippling recession but in the booming firearms industry, President Barack Obama is being toasted as unofficial salesman of the year.

Fearful that Obama's administration is quietly planning to introduce tough new restrictions on gun ownership and worried that the recession will trigger a crime wave, Americans are scrambling to stock up on guns and ammunition.

Gun shops and shooting ranges across the country have reported a surge in gun sales in the 100 days since Obama's election, a bonanza for the industry that has left manufacturers struggling to keep pace with demand.

Dennis Rohman, manager of the Project Y2000 firing range in El Cajon, Southern California, says the upsurge in sales is being fuelled over fears of the Obama administration and crime.

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Holy LOLs,

  • And to think, I nearly rolled my eyes right outta their sockets in reaction to "Obama win triggers run on guns" less than a *week* after the election. Oh, the insanity.

  • FYI, the shameless blizzard of absurd NRA ad campaigns to paint then candidate Obama as some kind of ~HUNTER OF HUNTERS' RIGHTS~ was very real. It just so happens that they wee also crap-tastic and, as it turned out, ultimately ineffective, too.

  • Above all, I would argue that the core of this absurd trend is the way armchair general right-wing nuts continue to caricature themselves as the sole proprietors of the 2nd Amendment. Psycho, please. Tell that to Sportsmen For Obama.
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Philip Giraldi: Some Might Call It Treason

One dictionary defines treason as "disloyalty or treachery to one’s country or its government," but Article III of the U.S. Constitution takes a narrower view, specifically limiting charges of treason to time of war "in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort." The Federalist Papers reveal that this definition of treason was crafted deliberately to avoid politically motivated ex post facto exploitation of the only crime named as a capital offense in the Constitution. The Founding Fathers knew full well from their own personal experience that English kings had played fast and loose with the concept of treason, frequently trying and executing opponents without any actual evidence that a crime had been committed. Charges of treason intended to destroy political rivals would not be permitted in the new republic.

Treason trials have been rare in the United States. Elected officials and government employees with access to classified information are bound by statutes authorizing severe penalties lest they betray that confidence. Congressmen are elected to represent the best interests of the voters in their districts and, in a broader sense, the citizens of the United States, a trust that they frequently betray when they give in to the importunities of lobbyists and vote for pork or laws that help only special interest groups. That is generally referred to as corruption. But what does one call it when a senior elected official tells a citizen of a foreign country that he or she is willing to interfere in a judicial process in exchange for that country’s support to obtain a more senior position in the government? A single word appears to be lacking, though "betrayal" and "treachery" seem to come close. Some have resorted to "obstruction of justice" or "influence peddling," both of which are actually crimes when committed by a government official. If the U.S. Constitution had not limited treasonous activity to wartime, the word "treason" might well be considered.
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Republicans: Masters of Disaster

Above, Susan Collins, who made sure a provision against pandemics like swine flu was stripped from the stimulus/recovery bill.

Paul Krugman | New York Times Blog

April 27, 2009, 10:01 am

Masters of disaster

So Bobby Jindal makes fun of “volcano monitoring”, and soon afterwards Mt. Redoubt erupts. Susan Collins makes sure that funds for pandemic protection are stripped from the stimulus bill, and the swine quickly attack.

What else did the right oppose recently? I just want enough information to take cover.


First transgenic dog!

This is my first ONTD post,  double checked the rules I hope this is vaild

12:00 23 April 2009 by Ewen Callaway

 A cloned beagle named Ruppy – short for Ruby Puppy – is the world's first transgenic dog. She and four other beagles all produce a fluorescent protein that glows red under ultraviolet light.

A team led by Byeong-Chun Lee of Seoul National University in South Korea created the dogs by cloning fibroblast cells that express a red fluorescent gene produced by sea anemones.

Lee and stem cell researcher Woo Suk Hwang were part of a team that created the first cloned dog, Snuppy, in 2005. Much of Hwang's work on human cells turned out to be fraudulent, but Snuppy was not, an investigation later concluded.

This new proof-of-principle experiment should open the door for transgenic dog models of human disease, says team member CheMyong Ko of the University of Kentucky in Lexington. "The next step for us is to generate a true disease model," he says.

However, other researchers who study domestic dogs as stand-ins for human disease are less certain that transgenic dogs will become widespread in research.

Dogs already serve as models for diseases such as narcolepsy, certain cancers and blindness. And a dog genome sequence has made the animals an even more useful model by quickening the search for disease-causing genes. Most dog genetics researchers limit their work to gene scans of DNA collected from hundreds of pet owners.

Lee's team created Ruppy by first infecting dog fibroblast cells with a virus that inserted the fluorescent gene into a cell's nucleus. They then transferred the fibroblast's nucleus to another dog's egg cell, with its nucleus removed. After a few hours dividing in a Petri dish, researchers implanted the cloned embryo into a surrogate mother.

Starting with 344 embryos implanted into 20 dogs, Lee's team ended up with seven pregnancies. One fetus died about half way through term, while an 11-week-old puppy died of pneumonia after its mother accidentally bit its chest. Five dogs are alive, healthy and starting to spawn their own fluorescent puppies, Ko says.

Besides the low efficiency of cloning – just 1.7 per cent of embryos came to term – another challenge to creating transgenic dogs is controlling where in the nuclear DNA a foreign gene lands. Lee's team used a retrovirus to transfer the fluorescent gene to dog fibroblast cells, but they could not control where the virus inserted the gene.

This would seem to prevent researchers from making dog "knockouts" lacking a specific gene or engineering dogs that produce mutant forms of a gene. These knockout procedures are now commonly done in mice and rats, and three researchers earned a Nobel prize in 2007 for developing this method, called "gene targeting".
No bright future?

Ko is working to adapt a procedure used so far in pigs, cows and other animals to target genes in cloned dogs. His lab hopes to knock out a specific oestrogen receptor in dogs to understand the hormone's effects on fertility.

The long lifespan of dogs and their reproductive cycle could make them more relevant to human fertility than mice, he says. "I think these dogs will be a very useful model for our research."

Greg Barsh, a geneticist at Stanford University who studies dogs as models of human disease, says creating a transgenic dog is "an important accomplishment", showing that cloning and transgenesis can be applied to a wide range of mammals.

"I do not know of specific situations where the ability to produce transgenic dogs represents an immediate experimental opportunity," Barsh adds. But transgenic dogs will give researchers another potential tool to understand disease.

However, Nathan Sutter, a geneticist specialising in dogs at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, says "transgenesis is labourious, expensive and slow".

Add the expense of caring for laboratory-reared dogs and negative public perceptions and it could mean few researchers turn to transgenic dogs like Ruppy, he says: "it's not on my horizon as a dog geneticist at all."

is from New Scientist

Am I the only one that wants to post SCIENCE Macros now? 
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*betty draper reading

feminism: not a religion

April 27, 2009, 2:15 pm
Court Rejects Men’s Studies Lawsuit
By Corey Kilgannon

Remember the lawyer who sued Columbia University for failing to offer classes in men’s studies? His contention was that Columbia was being biased against men, since the university offers women’s studies.

The lawyer, Roy Den Hollander, contended that he was trying to save the men of the world, one chauvinistic lawsuit at a time. But he’ll have to do better next time, because his suit against Columbia was thrown out on April 23 by Judge Lewis A. Kaplan of United States District Court in Manhattan.

In his decision, now released, the judge noted that Mr. Den Hollander claimed Columbia was violating the first amendment because “his central claim is that feminism is a religion.”

“Feminism is no more a religion than physics,” the judge wrote, “and at least the core of the complaint therefore is frivolous.”

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try again

Parents of Transgender 6-Year-Old Girl Support Her Choice

'I'm a Girl' -- Understanding Transgender Children

April 27, 2007 —
From the moment we're born, our gender identity is no secret. We're ei
ther a boy or a girl. Gender organizes our world into pink or blue. As we grow up, most of us naturally fit into our gender roles. Girls wear dresses and play with dolls. For boys, it's pants and trucks.

But for some children, what's between their legs doesn't match what's between their ears -- they insist they were born into the wrong body. They are transgender children, diagnosed with gender identity disorder, and their parents insist this is not a phase.

"A phase is called a phase because it is just that. It ends. And this is not ending. This is just getting stronger," Renee Jennings told ABC News' Barbara Walters. The Jennings asked that "20/20" not disclose their real name in order to protect the identity of their 6-year old transgender daughter, Jazz.
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FFS: The Crazy that Never Ends

Abortion activist: Obama flu actions are Sebelius cover-up

@ 5:19 pm by Hill Staff

The Obama administration's actions to respond to the outbreak of swine flu, including its declaration of a public health emergency, smacks of an attempt to cover up this week's Senate vote on the confirmation of Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius (D) as secretary of Health and Human Services, a prominent anti-abortion-rights activist told the Washington Independent.

"Some people think that declaring a state of emergency about the flu was a political thing to push the Sebelius nomination through," Concerned Women for America President Wendy Wright told the website's Dave Weigel.

Wright's group and a slew of other abortion activists have pushed hard against Sebelius, an old foe from numerous abortion fights in Kansas. Campaigning by anti-abortion-rights groups succeeded in ginning up Senate Republican opposition to Sebelius, though her confirmation as the final member of President Obama's Cabinet seems all but assured.

The Senate will begin debate on Sebelius Tuesday morning.

UPDATE: Look likes like the swine-flu-response-equals-cover-up-for-Sebelius meme is working quickly through the right wing. Family Research Council President Tony Perkins weighed in via an e-mail sent to supporters Monday. "[L]iberals are already scheming how they can use the health scare to win the confirmation of pro-abortion extremist Gov. Kathleen Sebelius (D-Kans.) as Secretary of Health and Human Services," he writes

Just who are these liberals who confide the truth about their secret conspiracies to prominent national conservative leaders? Perkins leaves us hanging on that one.


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Um.....so, yeah.  Does anyone else think it's nearly Bachmann-level crazy to think that any kind of "pro-abortion extremist" could ever get elected as the Governor of KANSAS????  That's about the same as thinking that a KKK Grand Wizard could get elected as the Governor of (pick and insert any blue state here).

' sayid hates you

I hope that you know you can't come back, 'cause all we had is broken like shattered glass

Cantor, Obama let sparks fly

House Republican Whip Eric Cantor returned from spring break determined to shed the “Dr. No” tag Democrats have hung around his neck — only to find himself in a face-to-face argument with the president over who started this year’s rift with the House GOP.

Early last week, Cantor talked like a man ready to make amends for the unanimous Republican “no” votes on President Barack Obama’s budget and economic stimulus plan.

“As we near the end of the first 100 days of this administration,” Cantor told reporters, “I think we can also reflect back and see that the era of bipartisanship we’d hoped for could probably be improved upon, and I believe that’s how we’ve come back from the Easter recess, to say to the president that we do want to work together, that we can actually unite.”

But headed for a meeting with the president at the White House Thursday, Cantor and other House Republican leaders couldn’t resist picking at the scab. They sent Obama a letter praising him for his “common-sense idea” that “Washington can work together for the American people instead of for political parties” — but also claiming that Democratic leaders in Congress had “ignored your call for a new era of bipartisanship in Washington.”

That’s what started the face-to-face bickering with the president.

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you know Eric was like "wah wah" and Obama was like

Glenn Beck:The hot new mob leader of 2009.

The Glenn Beck Program is an ever-growing bubble of current-events commentary burped up five nights a week on Fox News at 5 p.m. ET. I urge you to check it out. Bottom-barrel demagogy of this intensity is rarely available in one's living room, unless one's roommate is Huey Long.

On a set that owes something to CNN's experiments in technofuturism and something to the go-go pedestals on Soul Train, Beck natters stridently about the federal reserve and inflation, about the odds of a second civil war, about how the government "has been betraying the principles of the founders every day." He rails on and on against media, which hurt my feelings until I remembered that the guy denouncing the media has a show carried in 100 million households. Beck is like Stephen Colbert as understood by someone with no sense of irony, and this explains why Beck giggled a little while playing a clip of Colbert attacking his integrity.


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Swine flu confirmed in the UK

Two Scottish holidaymakers who returned from Mexico last Tuesday were confirmed tonight as having swine flu, while seven of their close family and friends are being treated with anti-viral medication after showing mild flu-like symptoms.

The two people are being held in isolation at Monklands hospital in Airdrie where they are said to be recovering well, and responding well to treatment.

None of the people involved have been named but the two holidaymakers are known to be from the Forth Valley area.

A possible wider outbreak in the UK, which follows the disclosure today of Europe's first positive case in Spain, was being discussed tonight by the UK government's emergency planning committee, Cobra.

The seven family and friends were undergoing further tests and were thought to be being treated at home with the antiviral drug Tamiflu as a precaution. They are among 22 "close contacts" of the two positive cases who were identified by health authorities after the two holidaymakers first presented with suspicious flu symptoms on Saturday.

Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish health secretary, said tonight that none of the seven had tested positive for the virus or been admitted to hospital.

"I can confirm that tests have demonstrated conclusively that the two Scottish cases of suspected swine flu are positive," Sturgeon said.

"However, I am pleased to say both patients are recovering well.

"In addition, there are currently a further seven people among the 22 who have been in contact with the two infected people, who have now developed mild symptoms and are being appropriately cared for."

Sturgeon said a Cobra meeting chaired by the UK health secretary, Alan Johnson, included her junior health minister, Shona Robison. Ministers were confident that the chances of a possible outbreak were very low: health officials had been able to quickly identify possibly infected individuals over the weekend.

"I would reiterate that the threat to the public remains low and that the precautionary actions we have taken over the last two days have been important in allowing us to respond appropriately and give us the best prospect of disrupting the spread of the virus," she said.

However, Sturgeon warned that it could take several days before it was clear whether the new suspected cases were swine flu, since it had taken five days for the first two cases to emerge.

She refused to disclose any details about the identities, gender or ages of the two positive cases or the seven suspected cases, as that would breach patient confidentiality.

As well as the Scottish pair, a Canadian woman was taken to hospital in Manchester for tests after showing signs of the virus.
Up to 22 other possible cases have been reported, it is understood, but roughly a third of those have been ruled out, with the remainder being monitored without hospital treatment.

Johnson told the House of Commons that Britain was one of the best-prepared countries in the world for a possible influenza pandemic. "It is too early to say whether the cases in Mexico will lead to a pandemic," he said.

Precautionary measures had been put into place over the weekend, Johnson said, including enhanced health checks at entry points into the country.

If the virus started to spread widely in the UK the government proposed to use its stockpile of antiviral drugs to treat patients showing symptoms, he said.

The government was working with primary healthcare trusts to ensure arrangements for the distribution of antivirals were in place should this become necessary.

The patient in Manchester "appears quite well" and was conscious, the local health authority said this afternoon. Asked whether the woman had recently returned from Mexico, an NHS North West spokeswoman said: "Not that we're aware of." She was unable to explain exactly the symptoms the woman was displaying that raised the alarm, and said the results of tests would not be through "for a couple of days", with the woman kept in hospital until then.

"It's potentially being over-cautious, but it's probably better to be safe than sorry," said the spokeswoman.

Johnson said there would inevitably be more potential cases and anyone entering the country with flu-like symptoms would be examined "very, very quickly".

The British government's chief medical officer, Professor Sir Liam Donaldson, has issued an alert telling UK hospitals of swine flu's symptoms, what protective clothing staff should wear and how to report cases.

Britons returning to the UK from Mexico were questioned by a doctor before being allowed home today. Trevor Cox, 65, from Dover, Kent, was among passengers arriving at Gatwick on Thomson Airways flight 358 from Cancun after two weeks in Mexico with his wife, Kathy.
He said: "I thought we might have problems this end with a screening process, but a doctor just came on board and asked if anyone was feeling ill or experiencing diarrhoea, then basically left it up to passengers. I think one or two people came forward.

"We first heard about the outbreak in our second week. We were flicking through the television channels and it cropped up on the news.

"I was a little bit concerned. I asked our rep out there and she said there was nothing to worry about. It has mostly been in Mexico City rather than where we were."

Also arriving on the flight was Elizabeth Heneghan, 28, from Southampton, who had travelled to Cancun for a week to attend a friend's wedding. "I saw three people at the airport in Cancun wearing masks. When we landed here, we weren't allowed to come off the plane until the doctor had been on and spoken to everyone to check whether they had any flu-like symptoms. A few people came forward but it seems to be fine."

The NHS has enough of the antiviral drugs Tamiflu and Relenza to treat half the UK population, according to the Department of Health. The drugs have proved effective on patients in Mexico. Scientists were working on developing a vaccine against the new strain, Johnson told BBC1's Politics Show.

Scientists at the National Institute for Medical Research in north London spent the weekend working on virus samples provided by the US Centres for Disease Control and are expected to have diagnostic kits to detect the strain within a few days. Officials from across the government have discussed the situation under the cabinet's emergency Cobra system.

Spain has the single confirmed case in Europe so far. A British male flight attendant from a British Airways flight from Mexico City to Heathrow has been given the all-clear after having hospital tests when he showed flu-like symptoms.

In the event of a pandemic, it is likely that affected areas would be put under quarantine, travel restrictions imposed, schools closed and public meetings banned. In case of panic buying and food shortages, Cobra would be called into action to co-ordinate the response.

A national flu pandemic strategy drawn up in response to the threat of bird flu would be implemented. The Department of Health would establish a national operations room to co-ordinate medication and vaccine distribution.

A national flu hotline would be set up for people to report symptoms..

Healthcare workers would be given priority for doses of Relenza and Tamiflu. While these drugs are not cures, they can reduce the severity of the infection and help limit its spread while a vaccine is developed.

Two major drug companies have been contracted to develop vaccines against the virus.



(no subject)

Obama the Devout 'Non-Ideologue'

By E.J. Dionne

WASHINGTON -- How many ironies can a single presidency engender? Barack Obama is a detached man who has inspired fierce loyalties, and a cool man who has aroused both warm feelings of affection and a fiery opposition.

He loves to engage conservatives, yet few of them have chosen to engage him. He is seen as too moderate by parts of the left, but the right thinks he has a radical statist agenda.

Wall Street's critics believe Obama's approach to rescuing the financial system amounts to coddling the bankers and financial scammers who got us into this mess. But many on the Street say Obama doesn't understand them and fear he is a secret populist who would displace finance as the dominant force in the American economy.

On torture, Obama sought a middle ground: He ended the practice, disclosed what happened, and then proposed we move on. Yet the right opposed disclosure, parts of the left wanted more accountability, and their fight brought back all of the bitterness Obama wants to put behind us.

The man not only defies labels. He hates them. At a briefing for columnists last week to influence the coming 100-day assessments, a senior Obama adviser, struggling to offer a philosophical definition of the 44th president, finally settled on calling him "a devout non-ideologue."
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  • Current Mood
' jules

What is and what should never be

Just Imagine: The First 100 Days of John McCain

If things had gone differently.....

John McCain, the oldest first-term president in history, is proving as rambunctious and pugnacious as the youngest one, Teddy Roosevelt. Of course, Teddy probably would have sent the Marines to Venezuela, while McCain had to make do with mugging for the cameras with an exaggerated grimace when he was forced by protocol to shake Hugo Chavez's hand at the recent hemispheric summit.

But as his presidency nears the 100-day mark, nothing better symbolizes McCain's man-in-the-arena emulation of TR than his impromptu mid-February flight (the White House press corps was given 45 minutes' notice before departure) to Johnstown, Pa., in the midst of a protracted showdown with Congress over the stimulus package. Fulfilling his oft-repeated campaign pledge to make the authors of earmarks "famous," the president stood in the eerily empty main concourse of the John Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County Airport on a Friday afternoon and mockingly declared: "This isn't an airport in need of stimulus money. This is a museum of wasteful government spending."

Asked about his testy relations with Congress during his lone prime-time press conference (which scored near-record low ratings) in late February, McCain retrieved one of his musty jokes from mothballs as he cracked, "To quote Chairman Mao, `It's always darkest before it's totally black.'" The beleaguered McCain congressional relations team printed up T-shirts, which they still periodically display on trips to Capitol Hill, with the inscription, "Is it totally black yet?" It is ironic that McCain, the first president elected directly from the Senate in 48 years and a legislator known for his willingness to work with Democrats in the quest for compromise, is well on his way to becoming the most veto-prone president since Harry Truman, casting 13 during his first 14 weeks in office.

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I disagree with some of the fantasy casting (I'm instead seeing Lieberman at State and Graham at Defense, if only because McCain loves travelling with them so much), but it's pretty amusing to see how things would be different and, in a few cases, the same. Overall... damn did we dodge a bullet thar.

Flu Or No Flu, Health Sec’s Nomination Will Still Require 60 Votes, GOP Says

Flu Or No Flu, Health Sec’s Nomination Will Still Require 60 Votes, GOP Says

So Kathleen Sebelius will get her confirmation vote as Health and Human Services secretary tomorrow in the Senate — but even with the flu outbreak, her confirmation will still have to clear a big hurdle, requiring 60 votes.

So says the office of GOP Senate leader Mitch McConnell, anyway.

As you know, Senate Republicans have been filibustering Sebelius over lingering questions about her views on late-term abortions and some campaign contributions she received from an abortion doctor. Late last week, the Senate Dem leadership announced that in the face of GOP opposition, they had agreed with Republicans to bring Sebelius’ confirmation to the floor for a vote tomorrow that would indeed require the 60 votes.

The outbreak of the flu epidemic had led some Dems to hope that the GOP would drop their filibuster, which would mean the 60 vote threshold would no longer apply. And even GOP Senator Susan Collins called for the Senate to expedite her confirmation today.

But McConnell spokesperson Don Stewart tells me she’ll still have to clear the 60 vote threshold. The question is, Whose fault is this?

Stewart says that the Senate agreement last week has “locked in” the 60 vote threshold. “She’ll have her confirmation vote tomorrow,” he says, adding that “every single Democrat” agreed to that threshold.

But Jim Manley, a spokesperson for Dem Senate leader Harry Reid, says that Senate GOPers could waive the 60 vote threshold if they wanted to. “With consent it could be changed if they agreed, but as of right now I don’t see any willingness to do so on their part,” he said.

Bottom line: The filibuster over an abortion controversy is still throwing a hurdle in the way of this nomination, despite the flu epidemic.

Bankruptcy Bill Watered Down, Still Fiercely Opposed By Banks

Bankruptcy Bill Watered Down, Still Fiercely Opposed By Banks

After weeks of negotiations between Senate Democrats and major players in the financial industry, a compromise bankruptcy reform deal has been reached, Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said on the Senate floor Monday night. Whether it will pull 60 votes, the number needed to overcome a GOP filibuster, is a question that will be answered later this week when the Senate takes up Durbin's amendment to the House-passed bankruptcy bill.

In order to garner the support of conservative Democrats and a few Republicans, the proposal has been watered down
. The bankruptcy legislation will still allow homeowners to renegotiate mortgages in bankruptcy - the so-called cram down provision - but only under strict conditions. The banking industry has lobbied fiercely against cram down, but Durbin said on the Senate floor Monday night that the compromise was supported by Citigroup, which has been at the negotiating table.
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