Friday, September 30, 2005

Bird Flu (there is a vaccine)

There's a lot of discussion this morning about Bird Flu. Sanofi Pasteur says it is producing a vaccine (not developing, but producing) in accord with a $100 million government contract. The contract also is for storing the vaccine.

Lyon, France and Swiftwater, PA (USA) – [September 15, 2005] – Sanofi pasteur, the vaccines business of the sanofi-aventis Group (NYSE: SNY), has entered into an agreement with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to produce doses of a vaccine to help protect against the H5N1 influenza virus strain, the so-called avian strain. Scientists believe the H5N1 strain could become the cause of a global influenza pandemic.

The contract is another major effort by sanofi pasteur to support efforts in both the U.S. and Europe to prepare the world for the possibility of an influenza pandemic.

The $100 million contract calls for sanofi pasteur to manufacture the vaccine in bulk concentrate form at its U.S. headquarters in Swiftwater, PA from early September through late October. The agreement provides for additional fees to be paid to sanofi pasteur for storage of the vaccine as well as for formulation and filling of the vaccine upon government request.

Here's a link to the complete press release

The real fun of a pandemic will begin when there is not enough vaccine for everyone, but an effective vaccine for the chosen few.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Natural gas

Brace yourself for the winter.

Soon another distinction between us and them will be who has warm houses and who doesn't. Prices for heat and gasoline are going to really hurt the many of us that live close to the margin. The paragraphs below are from The New York Times, "Natural Gas Prices Set Record, Pointing to Costly Winter" Linked here. Via Atrios
Natural gas prices set a new record today, presaging higher heating bills for a majority of Americans this winter as well as soaring costs for industrial manufacturers of such products as plastics and chemicals...

...Americans will pay an average of $400 more for their natural gas this winter than last year, with average bills jumping to $1,130, according to estimates by the Department of Energy. These estimates, however, might prove too low and are likely to get updated when the government issues its winter outlook next month.

Also, take a look at Shakespeare's Sister.

Snookered again

The only way the Democrats are going to find what it takes to resist Bush's nominees, both stealth and overt wingnuts, is if the nominee comes to the hearings in an SS uniform and is led in on a leash by Pat Robertson.

We are going to pay for this appointment for a long time.

Voted against Roberts (all Democrats)

Akaka, Hawaii
Bayh, Ind.
Biden, Del.
Boxer, Calif.
Cantwell, Wash.
Clinton, N.Y.
Corzine, N.J.
Dayton, Minn.
Durbin, Ill.
Feinstein, Calif.
Harkin, Iowa
Inouye, Hawaii
Kennedy, Mass.
Kerry, Mass.
Lautenberg, N.J.
Mikulski, Md.
Obama, Ill.
Reed, R.I.
Reid, Nev.
Sarbanes, Md.
Schumer, N.Y.
Stabenow, Mich.

Voted for Roberts (Democrats only, plus Jeffords)

Baucus, Mont.
Bingaman, N.M.
Byrd, W.Va.
Carper, Del.
Conrad, N.D.
Dodd, Conn.
Dorgan, N.D.
Feingold, Wis.
Johnson, S.D.
Kohl, Wis.
Landrieu, La.
Leahy, Vt.
Levin, Mich.
Lieberman, Conn.
Lincoln, Ark.
Murray, Wash.
Nelson, Fla.
Nelson, Neb.
Pryor, Ark.
Rockefeller, W.Va.
Salazar, Colo.
Wyden, Ore.
Independent: Jeffords, Vt.

Big fishes

Here's a quote from the blog, Talk Left, that gives a little insight into how the insider's operate. Talk Left's Jeralyn Merritt, quoted below, is a TV lawyer and her blog is usually terrific. I visit it every day. But in this case, since her friend is defending Delay, she announces she's going to "stop slamming Delay" because his lawyer is her friend.

Dick (Houston's Dick DeGuerin) has also been a very good friend of mine for 20 years. You may remember him as David Koresh's lawyer in WACO, or Kay Bailey Hutchinson's lawyer, or the lawyer (along with Chip Lewis) who got Robert Durst acquitted of murder even though he admitted hacking up the body.

That means I'll be reporting the news on the case and analyzing it legally, but I won't be slamming DeLay any more. Sorry, folks, but loyalty is loyalty. Just thought I'd be up front about it.
Link to the Talk Left post

This is a completely clear expression of how things work up there in the stratosphere, where principles and a person’s record, even a despicable one, are subordinate to relationships. Take this a few steps farther and you understand what Congress is all about and you gain insight into a major reason why the mainstream media is so gentle on the nutbag righties. At the end of the day, when the TV talk show shouting matches and the Senate debates are over, they all go out for cocktails and back slaps together and eat little pastry fishes in the rich wood tinted gloom of the coolest bar in town.

We need to think long and hard about who “we” are and who “they” are.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Cost of gas

Hit by rising gasoline prices, a record percentage of credit-card accounts were delinquent in the second quarter, the American Bankers Association reported Wednesday.

The ABA found that the 4.81 percent of credit-card accounts had payments that were past due by 30 days or more between April and June. That's up from 4.76 percent in the first quarter, which was the previous record. The ABA started tracking delinquencies in 1973.

The ABA also noted an increase in delinquent payments on personal loans, auto loans, home equity loans and lines of credit.
Link, from CNN Money

This is just the first hint of a dust cloud on the horizon, not yet arrived, but we know it is coming.

Adjustable rate mortgages on the rise and higher fuel and heating costs put the vice grips to the working classes, many of whom commute long distances to work in areas where they could not afford to live. The insatiable right wing business leaders must have seen this coming when they, and their acquiescent Democratic allies, rammed through the bankruptcy bill to make sure they would be able to wring every last cent from catastrophically indebted families. Most of these people are worn to the bone already by long commutes and fear of losing their jobs through downsizing, refusing to sleep with the boss, being late because of one too many times caught in stalled traffic, exploding in the face of a vicious and unreasonable supervisor (also afraid for his/her job), and whatever and when you take their credit away and make imminent the threat of losing a home, who knows what can happen.

Take away all the small perks, the credit, the lifelines to security and the dreams of owning, keeping and retiring in a home, in short all the things that generate a vested interest in the status quo, in a stable society, and contrast this drastically reduced sense of well being with the well publicized, ever growing, extraordinary wealth of the bandit plutocrats and you begin to assemble the ingredients for chaos.

You would think these pricks could overcome their greed with a little foresight and recognize that more prosperous, more secure middle and working classes would ensure stability and the longevity of their own privileged positions. You'd think they'd let a little more trickle down so we all could keep a comfortable few steps ahead of the monthly bills.


"Encouraging dissent is a good way of finding out who the traitors are."

New Yorker cartoon caption, October 3, 2005 edition, page 75.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Stick up

The twit Michael Brown was not competent to be head of FEMA. But as a fall guy, he’s a star. There is no shit he will not eat for the boss. He delivers his end, first by resigning and taking some of the heat as the disaster unfolds, thus diverting attention from dysfunctional Bush and the distracted Cheney. Second, he delivers by going before Congress and pinning the failure on the local Democrats and is further rewarded with a consultant’s job. No amount of humiliation is too much for this toady to swallow. He steps right up there, lies and spits out the script as it was written for him.

This is corruption almost too blatant to be believed; almost too obviously stupid to think for a moment they could get away with it. It has the same lack of sophistication as most of Rove’s heavy handed schemes and that is why it works, not totally, but just enough for minimal cover. Rove’s success is largely due to his uncanny or fortuitous ability to never over estimate the idiocy of the American public or the effectiveness of the Democratic Senators by feeding them too complicated a scam. Brown's rebirth (and the NO corporate payoff) is no more complicated than a liquor store stick up.

What a fucking country.


I liked this quite a bit, from Now or Never

If I could un-ring certain bells and un-wind time I would, but can’t, so instead, I'll just ride this bucket of bones till the wheels fly off; till ball-joints grind and drop from sockets; till this xylophone of ribs riffs the music of the spheres; until my funny bone tells it's last joke; till my shoulder blades cleave the universe in two and find the nut within; until I'm hipper than both hips and happier; till I'm savvy at last, slicker than elbow grease, and mute as a smart metatarsal; until I'm wiser than a thought-stuffed skull; until I knee-cap my inner sonofabitch to stop his useless jawin' so I can hear one clear day resound off tiny anvils and ride the lyrical looped song of a backyard bird round Lew Welch's ring of bone. Instead…

I'll just splint what needs splinting right here at home.

N. Martancik, Poet/Orthopedist

And I followed the link in the above post and came to this poem by Lew Welch

Ring of Bone

I saw myself
a ring of bone
in the clear stream
of all of it

and vowed
always to be open to it
that all of it
might flow through

and then I heard
"ring of bone" where
ring is what a

bell does

Lew Welch, Ring of Bone, Collected Poems 1950-1971