Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Law chief orders probe into secret files on death of Dr David Kelly/ Mail Online

UPDATE:  From the October 18 MailOnline:

Ambulance chiefs face renewed pressure to explain the loss of a key medical record relating to the death of Dr David Kelly after the investigating police force said it had no record of ever having received the document.
Bosses at South Central Ambulance NHS Trust were criticised last month when The Mail on Sunday revealed they could not find the patient report form (PRF) completed by paramedic Vanessa Hunt, who attended the scene of the former weapons inspector’s death in 2003...
Dr Michael Powers QC, who is leading a group of doctors campaigning for an inquest into Dr Kelly’s death, accused the Ambulance Trust of trying to shift the blame.

‘The document is the closest thing to a full record of what the ambulance team at the scene saw and noted down. I would have expected such a form to have been filled out and to have been kept, particularly given national and international interest in the case.’

Unresolved issues: Lord Hutton's inquiry concluded that Dr Kelly slit his writs to kill himself - but a key medical record relating to his death is still missing

At the time of the death, Ms Hunt and her colleague Dave Bartlett, who also attended the scene in woods near Dr Kelly’s home, worked for Oxfordshire Ambulance Trust.
Mr Bartlett’s claim in The Mail on Sunday last month that Dr Kelly’s body had been moved added to the increasing demand for an inquest...
From the Sept. 24 Daily Mail:
Secret files on the death of Dr David Kelly will be handed over to medical experts to see if the suicide verdict can be challenged.
Ministers want independent advice on whether there are any discrepancies or unanswered questions in the post mortem examination report.
Home Office pathologist Nicholas Hunt concluded the weapons inspector died after cutting a small artery in his wrist. But a group of doctors campaigning for an inquest into Dr Kelly’s death claim he would not have lost enough blood to end his life.
Attorney General Dominic Grieve wants to establish whether they have a solid case.
The Mail can reveal the doctors have now begun legal action, calling on Mr Grieve to petition the High Court for an inquest.
...  Lord Hutton had instructed the papers should remain secret for 70 years. But Mr Grieve used special powers he holds to take control of the files – which campaigners believe could hold the key to the case...

Missing weaponized anthrax at Fort Detrick?/ new release from AMEDD

More material has been released on the anthrax letters case by the Army:


Contact for questions (the person overseeing the production)
John P Mr CIV USA MEDCOM HQ Peterson

Also see:  http://www.newanthraxandalqaeda.com

From: [redacted]
To: [redacted]
Sent: Wednesday, December 12, 2007 12:30 PM To:
Subject: Question about MRIID (UNCLASSIFIED)
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED Caveats: NONE

__(b) (6)_____asked me about something that _(b) (6)_____ told her. There was weaponized anthrax that came to Detrick and then was shipped out and some was missing. I told her I would ask if any situation occurred that led him to say this. I remember the Southern Research issue when they shipped anthrax to California, and it got lost. I think they ended up locating it.

(remainder redacted)

Flu shot side effects worse than the disease/ Sydney Morning Herald

People in Australia are waking up to the evidence that in some cases, vaccines cause more harm than good.  Furthermore, the longterm sequellae from a seizure are likely to be more serious than from flu.  From the Sydney Morning Herald Sept 18:
PUBLIC health experts have called for an independent body to monitor drug safety after it emerged that young children were more likely to end up in hospital because of side effects from a flu vaccine than they were from the disease itself.
The analysis contradicts government safety advice that the harm did not outweigh the risk and raises concerns about the Therapeutic Goods Administration's assessment of the vaccine.
More than 1000 adverse responses in children under five were reported to the TGA by June this year, including nearly 100 instances of febrile convulsions, a seizure which in a small number of cases has been associated with long-term adverse health outcomes.
The side effects were linked to one of the three seasonal flu vaccines, Fluvax and Fluvax junior, from the drug company CSL, but the TGA maintained despite that, that "the overall risk-benefit balance of both products remains positive".
But research published yesterday in the journal Eurosurveillance showed Fluvax might have caused two to three hospital admissions due to seizure for every admission from flu it prevented.
The chief executive of the Public Health Association of Australia, Michael Moore, said further examination of risks was needed, at arm's length from the TGA. The government should consider creating an independent centre.
"There is a concern … that the TGA is the body that approves vaccines and is also the body that determines what the risks and benefits are when concerns are raised," he said.
Peter Collignon, an infectious diseases expert at the Australian National University, said the vaccination program in children under five did more harm than good. "The TGA made that decision [about risk-benefit] without any evidence to back it up."
 UPDATE from the SMH of Sept. 26:
... Professor Bishop (Commonwealth chief medical officer) told the Herald yesterday that while the rate of convulsions linked to Panvax was about four times higher than the usual experience with flu vaccinations, it was not comparable with Fluvax, where the convulsion rate had been 50 times higher...
Dr. Meryl says "DUH?!"  Panvax only quadruples seizures in kids, while Fluvax increases seizures by a factor of 50.  This is supposed to assuage my concerns about Panvax?  Why doesn't the Commonwealth tell the public how many healthy children die or become disabled by influenza each year?  For the 4 years prior to 2009-10, less than 100 children died each year from influenza in the US, and most were probably chronically ill to start with.  Australia's population is about 1/15th of the US.  An extrapolation suggests 4 children die each year from flu in Australia, and probably 2 or 3 are chronically ill.  How many seizures is it acceptable to cause to prevent 4 deaths?  How many other, unidentified vaccine injuries can be caused as acceptable collateral damage?  Where is the risk/ benefit balance?

UPDATE 2 from the Wall Street Journal:
EUROPE and the US have banned an Australian-made flu vaccine for young children, after a surge in febrile fits in Australian children.
The US Advisory Committee on Immunisation Practices has taken stronger action than Australia's Health Department, by recommending that children younger than nine not be vaccinated with CSL's seasonal flu vaccine.
Europe has followed Australia's decision to suspend the CSL vaccine only for the under-fives...
Australian health authorities suspended the use of CSL's seasonal flu vaccine, Fluvax, for the under-fives in April, after it was found to trigger febrile fits at nine times the normal rate.

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Imperial Presidency: USG Wants to Wiretap the Internet/ NY Times

From Charlie Savage at the NY Times:
WASHINGTON - Federal law enforcement and national security officials are preparing to seek sweeping new regulations for the Internet, arguing that their ability to wiretap criminal and terrorism suspects is "going dark" as people increasingly communicate online instead of by telephone.
Essentially, officials want Congress to require all services that enable communications - including encrypted e-mail transmitters like BlackBerry, social networking Web sites like Facebook and software that allows direct "peer to peer" messaging like Skype - to be technically capable of complying if served with a wiretap order. The mandate would include being able to intercept and unscramble encrypted messages.

The bill, which the Obama administration plans to submit to lawmakers next year, raises fresh questions about how to balance security needs with protecting privacy and fostering innovation. And because security services around the world face the same problem, it could set an example that is copied globally...

Friday, September 24, 2010

Mandating flu vaccine for health care workers

Although CDC said it would not support mandatory flu vaccinations for healthcare workers (imagine the lawsuits if this were a federal government mandate), various organizations have recently published policy statements* in favor of such mandatory inoculations for all workers in healthcare facilities.

What is truly strange about this effort is that you cannot find convincing medical studies that show that vaccinating healthcare workers for flu actually decreases cases, on a statistical basis.  Sure, patients come down with flu after being admitted to hospital, and one can cite a death here or there.  But no one has shown that vaccinating workers leads to healthier patients or fewer deaths, and the lack of convincing evidence undercuts the scientific and legal basis for mandating healthcare worker vaccinations.

Gregory A Poland, MD has authored a large number of papers pushing mandatory flu vaccinations, and has been the prime mover for this initiative since the 1990s.  Dr. Greg has been a CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices member, and done vaccine studies for many pharmaceutical firms at Mayo Clinic, where he heads the vaccine research group.  He also was hired by the Defense Department in 1999 to go to military bases and promote anthrax vaccinations.  After I noted about 20 misstatements in his presentation on anthrax and anthrax vaccine on my website, the talks abruptly ceased.

This is what Poland says on his own Mayo website:
"In Dr. Poland's war, there are no rules of engagement; anything goes."
 And Poland acknowledges the lack of evidence supporting vaccinations in this 2007 piece: 
 Jacobson RM, Targonski PV, Poland GA. Why is evidence-based medicine so harsh on vaccines? An exploration of the method and its natural biases. Vaccine. 2007 Apr 20;25(16):3165-9.
UPDATE:  Here is the abstract for Poland's article:
"Vaccines have been hailed as one of the greatest success stories of public health in the 20th century. The 20th century also produced a call for evidence-based medicine (EBM) with applications inclusive of preventive health. Since then, several major EBM analyses have called into question vaccine practices well-accepted by physicians, public health officials, and even the lay public. For example, while counter to existing studies and policies, EBM analyses have concluded that data are lacking to support influenza vaccination of healthcare workers to prevent flu complications among the elderly. In this review, we examine the criticisms and consider the shortcomings in the field of vaccinology as well as in the methodology of evidence-based medicine."
And here are Dr. Greg's disclosures for another 2007 article:
Gregory A. Poland, MD, is the director of the Vaccine Research Group at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, and has disclosed that he has served as a consultant to
Protein Sciences,
Novartis Vaccines,
CSL Biotherapies, and
Dr. Poland has also disclosed that he has received research grants from Novavax and Merck.
Dr. Poland has also disclosed that he has served as a chair for the novel vaccine DMSB for Merck.

There will always be people who think they know (or are paid to know) what is best for the rest of us, evidence be damned, and will do their best to coerce us to comply.  Most of the know-it-alls in this case have been shown to be compromised by their income from the vaccine industry, and it appears their input was critical in creating the swine flu boondoggle last year.  Funny how failure doesn't stop them.

One author reports that he is a consultant for Joint Commission Resources. He and some other authors report various financial relationships with Avianax, BD Diagnostics, Care Fusions, CSL, Cubist, EMD Serono, Emergent BioSolutions, GlaxoSmithKline, Human Genome Sciences, Liquidia Technologies, MedImmune, Merck, Novartis Vaccines and Therapeutics, Novavax, OrthoMcNeil, PaxVax, Pfizer, Rymed Technology, Sage, Sanofi Pasteur, Theraclone Sciences (formally Spaltudaq Corporation), Vaxxinate, and/or Wyeth.  This is according to Medscape.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

CIA runs a 3,000 man paramilitary army in Pakistan/ Washington Post

Detailed in a book review  of "Obama's Wars" by Bob Woodward in today's Washington Post:

We have not declared war against Pakistan, and Congress has not approved making war in Pakistan.  Yet we illegally send drones there to kill, and our CIA runs a mercenary army in Pakistan.  The American Rule of Law is what took the biggest hit on 9/11.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

US BARDA commits $51 to $186.6 MIllion to EBS for Next Generation Anthrax Vaccine

Recently there have been criticisms that BARDA has not spent much of the 6 billion dollars set aside for biological and chemical warfare treatments and preventive strategies after 9/11.  In fact, a plan was introduced to transfer some of the monies into other programs.

In good bureaucratic fashion, BARDA responded by spending.  Emergent BioSolutions, aka Bioport, will be the beneficiary of more largesse from the federal government.  BARDA, meanwhile, has demonstrated its commitment to develop a next-generation, recombinant anthrax vaccine despite earlier failures and many millions down the drain in this pursuit during the past ten years.

Here is the agency announcement.

Canadian Surveillance of H1N1 swine flu cases/ Medscape and PLOS

  • Like all flu seasons, mortality in the elderly was highest from swine flu during the 2009-10 season
  • Preexisting antibodies were common in the elderly:  present in 88% of those aged 90-99, present in 27% of those aged 79, and present in 4-5% in those younger than 60.
  • Six studies from Canada consistently found that prior year vaccination in 2008/09 for seasonal influenza was associated with a 1.4- to 2.5-fold increased risk for hospitalization for H1N1 infection, said Naveed Z. Janjua, MD, also from the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control.
"As for the mechanism behind those differences, studies in swine suggest that a vaccine that induces "nonneutralizing or subneutralizing concentrations of antibody can enhance the infection rather than protect from that infection," Dr. Janjua said.

Dr. Skowronski acknowledged the limitations of case–controlled studies. She suggested that the Canadian findings might be more rigorous than similar studies from the United States and Mexico that reached different conclusions on the effect of vaccination for seasonal influenza on H1N1 infection.
Good immunization records and the use of a single brand of vaccine within a geographic region also are factors contributing to the rigor of the Canadian analysis, she pointed out.

The studies were conducted with funding from various Canadian government agencies. None of the presenters disclosed no relevant financial relationships."

Friday, September 17, 2010

Holt: FBI anthrax investigation is itself subject of probe/ NJ.com


Matt Fair

After years of questioning the conclusion and methods of an FBI investigation into the 2001 anthrax attacks that killed five people and sickened dozens of others, Rep. Rush Holt (D-Hopewell) announced yesterday that the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) is opening an inquiry into the matter.

Holt, along with a handful of other legislators, had sent a letter to the GAO in May requesting an investigation into the FBI’s handling of the case. The FBI officially closed the case in February after concluding in 2008 that Dr. Bruce Ivins, a former biodefense scientist, was the sole culprit in the attacks.

Ivins, a resident of Frederick, Md., committed suicide shortly before government investigators planned to formally file charges against him.

“In the wake of the bungled FBI investigation, all of us — but especially the families of the victims of the anthrax attacks — deserve credible answers about how the attacks happened and whether  the case is really closed,” Holt said in a statement yesterday.

Holt has charged in the past that the FBI investigation failed to address basic questions including Ivins’ motive and his connections with the local area.

Investigators determined that at least one of the letters was sent from a mailbox on Nassau Street in Princeton Borough. The letters were sorted at a postal service facility on Route 130 in Hamilton, where several employees became ill.

“The American people need credible answers to many questions raised by the original attack and the subsequent FBI handling of the case,” Holt said. “I’m pleased the GAO has responded to our request and will look into the scientific methods used by the FBI.”
The GAO’s investigation will look to address a handful of specific questions as requested by Holt.

He asked the agency to identify and judge the quality of the microbial and technical forensics methods employed by the FBI in concluding Ivins was responsible for the attack. He asked what, if any, scientific concerns and uncertainties remain after the closure of the official investigation. Finally, he wanted to determine what agencies are responsible for monitoring high containment laboratories.

However, officials with the GAO, in accepting Holt’s request for an inquiry, admitted that its efforts may be hampered by lack of access to classified material.

“Please know that we may encounter challenges to our access to sensitive and classified information from the FBI and the intelligence agencies,” Ralph Dawn Jr., managing director of congressional relations for the GAO, said in a letter to Holt last month.

In 2008, the FBI commissioned its own inquiry from the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) into the results of its investigation. The results of the NAS report are expected to be released later this year.

Holt has also introduced legislation calling for a formal congressional commission to investigate the attacks. Similar to the 9/11 Commission, the panel would hold hearings and be granted subpoena power.

Officials with the Obama administration earlier this year said the president would veto any such legislation, saying it would be redundant in the wake of the FBI and NAS investigations.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

New Review of FBI's Work in Anthrax Letters Case/ WSJ

New Review of FBI’s Work in Anthrax Letters Case

By Devlin Barrett, Wall Street Journal
The investigative arm of Congress will take another look at the science the
FBI used to determine who mailed deadly anthrax-laced letters in 2001.

The Government Accountability Office has notified Rep. Rush Holt, a New
Jersey Democrat, that the agency will review the science behind the FBI's
conclusions that Army scientist Bruce Ivins sent the letters that killed
five people.

The letters were mailed from a mailbox in Princeton, N.J., which is in
Holt's district. The congressman has long maintained that the FBI's work on
the case was shoddy and full of holes. The FBI concluded Dr. Ivins was a
disturbed man who sent the letters while his laboratory faced the prospect
of losing support for its anthrax vaccine program.

The National Academy of Sciences is in the midst of a two-year-review of the
scientific work that led the FBI to finger Dr. Ivins after spending years
chasing other suspects. Dr. Ivins took a fatal overdose of pills in 2008 as
a federal grand jury prepared to indict him for the anthrax mailings.

In a letter to Holt, GAO officials said they would conduct their review once
the NAS reaches its conclusions, which is expected later this year.
The GAO letter to Rush Holt is here.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Flu Response: contradictions and dire warnings

Despite a recent attempt to paint last year's swine flu pandemic as more serious than thought, based on its higher attack rates and complications in a younger population, a new study using Wisconsin data, reported by Agence France Presse, calls those conclusions into question:
Children, which the 2009 H1N1 pandemic infection appeared to disproportionately affect, were not associated with more hospital admission or pneumonia cases when compared with seasonal H1N1 or H3N2, said the study.  Within thirty days of infection, six out of 395 children with the 2009 H1N1 virus, or 1.5 percent, were admitted to hospital, compared to five of 135 with seasonal H1N1 (3.7 percent) and eight of 255 with the H3N2 virus (3.1 percent). 
For adults six out of 150 with 2009 H1N1 or 4.0 percent went to hospital, compared to 17 out of 377 cases of H3N2, or 4.5 percent.
"Our results suggest that the clinical manifestations and risk of hospital admission are similar for 2009 H1N1 and other seasonal influenza A strains," said the study's authors.
"The perceived severity of symptoms and risk of serious outcomes (pneumonia or hospital admission) were not increased," they added.
According to Finland's YLE, The narcolepsy rate appears to be at least ten times normal after swine flu vaccination, and may be higher still given the narrow age range of 5 to 15 years reported from Finland.  On average, 3 cases are diagnosed in Finland annually, but 12-14 cases have been detected there with onset between last December and February. 

What other neurological (or other types of) disorders might also be occurring as a result of last year's flu vaccines?  It is relatively easy to identify increased rates of rare but extremely serious diseases, especially when the rate may have spiked ten-fold.  It is much harder to identify increased rates of more common or less severe diseases that may result after vaccinations.  What epidemiological efforts are being made to do so?

The Chicken Littles (flu experts) continue to exhort us to not let our guard down despite the overblown fears of swine flu:  avian flu "could spark the next global outbreak."  Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a flu conference in Hong Kong, Robert Webster warned against complacency:
We may think we can relax and influenza is no longer a problem. I want to assure you that that is not the case," said Webster, chairman of the virology and molecular biology department at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee.
Webster predicted that the next pandemic could be sparked by a virus that spreads from water fowl to pigs and then onto humans — such as the H5N1 strain of bird flu, which has killed 300 people over the past seven years. He noted that after several years of decline, the number of bird flu cases in humans increased in 2009, lifted by an uptick of cases in Egypt.