Friday, October 31, 2014

You know it's bad when...

...the UN nuclear watchdog sounds tougher on Iran than our own government...
WASHINGTON — At a moment when American negotiators say they see some signs of movement on the part of Iran toward a broad nuclear deal with the United States, the head of the United Nations nuclear inspection organization declared Friday that Iran had stopped answering the agency’s questions about suspected past efforts to design the components of a bomb.
Combine that with an Obama staffer calling Netanyahu a chicken$h*t and some might surmise the middle eastern pot is about to come to a boil very soon.  After all, how many more extensions will the chicken$h*ts in Jerusalem tolerate before taking their own action?  They have red lines, too.  Real ones. 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Ebola Chaos

What's a public official to do?   They cannot have people exposed to Ebola, a virus with no vaccine and a proven high mortality rate, running around a city "self-monitoring", even if it might work.  The political fallout of a worse case is off the charts.

But how do they justify quarantines when the leader of the federal response is hugging an Ebola victim the same day she is released from the hospital? 

It should be obvious the virus isn't transmitted through the air at this point.  Even close contact might not spread it, as the relatives of Thomas Duncan can now attest.  At the same time, the doctor who assumed normal frivolities around New York City less than 2 weeks after returning from the hot zone (and somehow making it though the thermometer gauntlet at JFK) was thought to be meticulous in his protection routine, yet he came down with the virus anyway.  So there is still some uncertainty.  As a rule public officials have a hard time playing games of risk-reward with such uncertainties.  Ergo, Christie and Cuomo's bi-partisan quarantine order.

But there are political risks anyway.  Already the quarantine is beginning to blowback on Christie in the form of the nurse selected as patient one:
Hickox says she has asked repeatedly but hasn't been told how long she'll be held at the hospital. "To put me in prison," she said, "is just inhumane."
War on women!   Notice the CNN report has not one mention of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who was just out the other day mocking the idea of 'self monitoring', calling it an oxymoron.   Yet patient one and CNN are laying blame on the fat guy. 

At the same time, grabbing citizens and placing them into mandatory quarantine, without access to lawyers or other advocates, is a long-held fear of the conservative right. It's something Obama was supposed to do, you know, the FEMA camps. Now a GOP governor is on the leading edge.  Alex Jones' head has probably exploded.  

And couldn't Christie have at least have called Governor Perry to get some advice on how they handled the mandatory quarantine of Thomas Duncan's relatives, who didn't seem to complain much (if there were any breathless CNN stories about Duncan's relatives being denied their civil rights and being treated inhumanely they seem to have disappeared now).   Ah, politics again. 

But a solution exists that doesn't involve government, one wrapped more in personal responsibility and civics. Nurse Hickox is associated with Doctors Without Borders, a group that has provided a large number of workers to the hot zones while at the same time taking a somewhat liberal approach regards returning volunteers.  This despite the fact the group has seen 16 workers infected with Ebola in the hot zones, with 9 of them dying as of October 14.  Another humanitarian group providing workers is Samaritan's Purse, who has their own approach to returning workers:
The relief group began requiring all returning staff to stay isolated for 21 days, away from family members. The organization houses workers within an hour’s drive of medical facilities, such as Emory University or the NIH, which are equipped to handle Ebola patients, in case someone gets sick. The workers, who are paid their normal salaries, are not allowed to take public transit or touch anyone, and they must take their temperature multiple times a day.
“That’s just a part of the deal, and they have accepted that,” said Isaacs, who acknowledges that the requirements make it potentially more difficult to recruit volunteers to work in West Africa. “We’ve never felt comfortable that just coming back and letting people go about life as normal and take their temp two times a day was sufficient.”
They admit their extra rigor might dissuade more volunteers, but listen to the comments of the quarantined nurse in New Jersey:
Hickox said she worries that her experience will discourage other aid workers from going to West Africa to help quell the Ebola outbreak. ..
[snip to a few sentences down]  Someone asked me earlier would I do this again if I knew what would happen, and my answer is categorically yes," she said. "I feel incredibly privileged to be able to do this work."
So yes and no.

The bottom line is that people are scared of the unknown.  In such times they expect prudence from public officials.  They see people dressed like astronauts still getting the virus and it's worrisome. They see Obama and all the other federal officials bending over backwards to dispel any notion of a problem, first saying it would never come to our shores, then saying it wouldn't spread, then it wouldn't become 'major'.  They remember Obama saying "if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor, period".

Then they see people who might have been exposed but are not yet symptomatic breezing into the country past thermal scans that are useless unless someone has symptoms.  And they see an approach taken by groups like Samaritan's Purse and think "that sounds reasonable".   As time goes by and an outbreak doesn't occur, things will get better, whether by chance or by quarantine.  Then all the politicians can pat themselves on the back accordingly and we can all move on to the next crisis.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Ottawa Attack

In the aftermath of the Ottawa attack Jake Tapper pointed out a brief history of terrorism in Canada, but anyone familiar with the roots of AQ could not have been surprised at today's events nor would they be very impressed much with Tapper's newsreel.  The question is really not why, but why has it taken so long considering the history up there?

A good primer on the subject is Stewart Bell's "Cold Terror", which goes back into the 80s when Sikh terrorists operating from Canada plotted to blow up two Air India jumbo jets (they succeeded on one), progressing into the Islamic variety of today.  It seems the country has long been a soft landing pad for extremists, possibly due to their lax immigration posture and/or welcoming of multiculturalism. 

While America was surviving the Clinton years, legacy AQ operators came to Canada, including such noted figures such as Marzouk, JaballahMahjoub, Daher, and Jdey.  Elusive figure Adnan Shukrijumah was rumored to have spent time in Canada, perhaps attending school at McMaster (disputed).  Another who allegedly spent some time there was Mubarak al-Duri from Iraq, whom the 9/11 Commission described as a WMD procurement agent for bin Laden.  In recent years we've seen the Toronto 18 and the VIA Rail/Amtrak plot.  And of course the murder of a soldier just two days ago. 

People like to worry about terrorists being funneled across "the border" and most immediately think "Mexican" border, but the bigger threat has always been our neighborly border to the north.  

Meanwhile the spin never ends.  CNN admitted the shooter was a Muslim convert but made a point to stress he had a 10 year history with drugs, as if it might somehow negate his conversion.  Chances are he quit taking drugs after converting.  The media tried the same deflection approach with the workplace beheading guy in Oklahoma, focusing more on his firing or some nonsense about racial comments.  But the beheading was the screaming message everyone understood quite clearly.

PM Harper isn't fooling around--he has already called today's and Monday's events "terrorism"; Obama finally uttered the T word tonight (maybe he felt compelled) but he continues to pretend it doesn't exist when it comes to attacks here.  After all, Core-AQ is still decimated and on the run.  

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Aviation Update

The reporting on the crash of the Dassault Falcon 50 in Moscow carrying French oil giant Total's CEO has become typically weird.  Not to say there is a giant conspiracy, but not to say one should be ruled out.

As usual there are conflicting reports.  Some examples are shown below, with items of note in bold.  First, here's something from an AP wire report:
The crash occurred at 11.57 p.m. Monday local time when the French-made Dassault Falcon 50 burst into flames after hitting the snowplow during takeoff from Vnukovo airport, which is used by Russian government officials, including President Vladimir Putin, and visiting foreign leaders.
So AP says it was during "takeoff". Makes sense when considering the destruction of the aircraft, which apparently inverted before its tragic end. But here's the press spokeslady from the Vnukovo airport (the government facility Putin uses to fly in and out):
During the taxiing before take-off, at around 0:10 am Moscow time on Tuesday, the light aircraft hit a snow-clearing machine, the head of Vnukovo’s press service, Elena Krylova, told the media. “A Falcon airplane that was en route from Moscow to Paris collided with a snowplow while the jet was preparing to take off. The plane caught fire after the collision and all the people onboard – including a passenger and three crew members - died,” Krylova said.
The aircraft did not leave the ground after hitting the vehicle, she added, refuting earlier reports that the plane did eventually take off but then the pilot made a decision to turn back and land. The investigators have already found the aircraft’s black boxes while the airport staff were writing explanatory reports, she added.
So we're being asked to believe the Falcon jet slammed the plow as it was lining up for takeoff?  With debris strewn hundreds of meters and the aircraft being inverted?  But despite the widespread debris the plow driver survived and amazingly, the airport was cleared to reopen only 2 hours later:
Vnukovo Airport temporarily suspended all flights following the incident, but by 2 am all operations were restored.
Perhaps at this juncture it would help to show a picture of the airport..

Two main runways, lots of taxiways, more than enough potential confusion with low visibility.  And they could have resumed operations with only one runway, it appears.  So what about the weather? According to this report the temperature at crash time was 34F with humidity at 100 percent with a light southeast wind--all conducive to fog formation, and indeed the weather observation mentioned visibility at only 1/4 mile in light drizzle. So, why was a snow plow on the runway?  Were they releasing urea or some other substance to melt possible slush and ice?  Maybe--Moscow was expecting snow.  And it's entirely conceivable the allegedly drunken plow driver got lost in the mist and took the wrong taxiway or crossed an active runway and nobody in the tower could see it.  But we're back to the plow driver surviving, which sounds like a miracle. 

By the way, here's another story that described the crash this way:
"During run-up at 11:57 pm (1957 GMT), there was a collision with the airport's snowplough...
Misinformation after crashes is as predictable as sunrise, especially with the clown car media involved, but this report was from the airport PR person, not the media.  And she claims the plane wasn't taking off, because if it was taking off it wouldn't be 'running up'. 

But here's a presumed eyewitness report of airport operations this morning--only hours after the crash:
I was in Vnukovo today. I couldn't find any rests of the aircraft. Last night, at 12.15, I was returning home, driving through eastern Moscow. Heavy rains after a snowy sunday. It wasn't snowing at all. It was just raining. As I got to my house, 8nm from Vnukovo, around 12.35, there was almost no rain left. Flights today were mostly in order, no big delays. Heavy winds in the West-East direction. Lately, runway 24 is mostly used for take offs while runway 01 for landings. Anyone knows where was the crash? I saw nothing, although it was a 4 minutes drop off visit to Vnukovo, but i deeply checked in the around and couldn't find a single piece of aircraft, smoke, nothing. I was there at 11am.
Hard to believe there would be no sign of some debris there the morning after.  And it would be nice to see what the plow looks like now.

In other words, we getting some conflicting information. Sorting out the factual information from the misinformation, or possible disinformation, is the key. There is a difference. Proving 'disinformation' is always the hardest.

One way to guess is an analysis of where stories about the event are taking viewers/readers.  Right now almost all the stories are blaming a drunken cartoonish Russian plow driver.  They are also keying on the notion that de Margerie was against isolating Russia with punishing sanctions due to Ukraine, ie, why would a friend of Pooty Poot get rubbed out in Moscow?  But there's also this:
Total is a major shareholder in Novatek, Russia's largest independent natural gas producer. The two companies were planning to develop a massive liquified natural gas reserve in Siberia.
But the shooting down of a Malaysian airliner over eastern Ukraine in July prompted Total to suspend buying additional shares in Novatek.
So as oil prices crater (less cash for Russia and the Middle East) perhaps Vlad couldn't twist his arm into more positive action.  Things are getting strange out there.

Speaking of oil, a few stories are also mentioning de Margerie and Total Oil's roles in the Iraq "Oil for Food" program where he was suspected of helping the Saddam regime sell oil on the underground markets to get around UN/US sanctions, charges of which the company was only recently cleared.  But take a look at this from the OFF memory hole and it gets weirder (added emphasis):
Thirty percent of the oil vouchers were issued to beneficiaries in Russia, including individual officials in the president’s office, the Russian Foreign Ministry, the Russian Communist Party, members of the Russian parliament, and the oil firms Lukoil, Gazprom, Zarubezhneft, Sibneft, Rosneft, and Tatneft.
Fifteen percent of the beneficiaries were French, including a former interior minister, the Iraqi-French Friendship Society, and the oil company Total.
Yes, both the Russians and French were helping Saddam back in the day so combined with the abovementioned bits of history it would seem to make the West, and not Russia, prime suspects for sabotage.  Then again, if something nefarious is up in Russia it doesn't necessarily always have to originate in Putin's office.  Their investigations committee is already laying blame!  But sometimes accidents just happen--even in Russia. 

MORE  10/23/14

More details are coming from Russia regarding the fallout from the crash.  Seems the plow driver has been arrested and detained.  His lawyer claims he wasn't drunk at the time and that tests to confirm his blood-alcohol will take 5-7 days rather than within 1 day as is usual, however this report claims it was released today and measured 0.06. That's below US standards for drunk driving, but airport operations require zero point zero.  Russian authorities have also picked up a couple of air traffic controllers, a maintenance supervisor, and a 'flights director', while the top two airport officials have resigned.    

Still no pictures of the plow.  The driver claims he was part of a convoy of plows heading across the airport grounds when something happened to his truck and he stopped to get out and look.  He claims he couldn't hear anything due to the roar of his plow engine and didn't realize he was on the active runway.  He claims he tried to contact his foreman on radio (which would probably not be on the same frequency as ATC ground, but one that ATC should monitor). Then the crash.

He seems to have been driving when the crash occurred, as there are indications he got back in the truck to start again but couldn't see the other trucks.  Based on the photo of the aircraft wreckage the plane had obviously taken off and perhaps gotten slightly airborne, since it somehow ended up inverted, therefore the plow driver was on the active runway.  Since he was completely unharmed it's likely the impact was a glancing blow, perhaps to a wing or the tail, since pictures show the Falcon jet's nose landing gear extended as normal and largely undamaged.  That scenario would explain the final resting position better than the airport PR director's initial remarks.

Still, we have a situation where a 10 year veteran airport maintenance operator was bumbling around on an active runway and nobody noticed.  That's where the notion of alcohol comes in--it could be used to explain the driver's actions quite well.  Of course it's Russia, don't people get up in the morning blowing a point six?  

Even with some booze it's hard to imagine that a plow driver could be that stupid and wouldn't have been monitoring ground frequencies to know whether there was any air traffic around.  Then again, one can imagine a haphazard operation where a fleet of plows were cleared to cross, the last driver was a bit loopy and stopped after hearing a sound--not knowing where he was because he was only following the truck in front of him because it was foggy, then getting back in and driving fast trying to catch back up but not wanting to talk on the radio then getting clipped by the departing aircraft before catching up to his comrades. He could have also been outside the truck when ATC gave the Falcon jet clearance, which was possibly given by an ATC trainee.  Most accidents are caused by a compounding of separate errors.

So, while conspiracies can never be totally dismissed in a country run by a former KGB officer the theory of negligence must first be eliminated, and right now it's looking pretty strong.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Crisis management, as usual

The Pentagon just announced they are forming 30 unit rapid-response teams to be dispatched within the US to combat any Ebola non-outbreak outbreaks.  Hmmmm.  This comes a few days after Obama described CDC rapid response teams as "SWAT".   On Saturday the same guy urged Americans not to "give in to hysteria" on the issue while today he was blasting the GOP for "peddling fear". 

Words from a man who suspended his fund raiser schedule to have photo-op meetings in the White House, something that didn't even happen after the murder of an ambassador in an AQ terrorist attack or after Russia captured part of Ukraine or an American journalist was beheaded by a terror group shown on worldwide video.  So don't take that to mean anything as it would be giving in to hysteria.

Anyway, they made a big production of a formal White House meeting with all the big-wigs sitting around the long table looking stupid.  The NY Times filled in the blanks by informing us Obama was angry (no doubt after reading about Dallas in the paper)--matter of fact he was so furious he appointed a Democrat political fixer with no medical background as an "Ebola czar", a move that can focus blame elsewhere if needed while allowing him to get back on the links and the campaign fund raiser circuit so he can resume hurling barbs at the GOP for cash from people with names like Rich Richman.  If the Ebola virus peters out it will be "Ron who?'

In other words, crisis management as usual.   Hey, the reason people are fearful is the thought of a killer virus with over a 50 percent mortality rate being 'handled' by the current administration, who couldn't even handle building a web site. 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Aviation Update

The temperature screening at five airports has finally commenced, although it's doubtful the program will have a very soothing affect on the public at large, especially after today's Ebola hearings in Congress.

The question of why the administration has not restricted travel to the hot zones was asked of White House spokesman Josh Earnest today, and briefly provided a moment of levity..

But the question remains open.  The administration seems fine with taking a risk that some asymptomatic Ebola victims will arrive in America despite the screening efforts, expressing confidence the system will protect Americans if they later present at the local hospitals with symptoms.  This despite the FUBAR with index patient zero, Mr. Duncan, in Dallas.  That's not a very comforting assurance.  It almost has the impression of a cost-benefit analysis, ie, a few American deaths are worth trading to prevent a collapse of west African governments, which could lead to a bigger world problem.  Just hope you're not collateral damage.

But isn't there almost a de facto travel ban in place already?  Here's some information on current airline services into the hot zone countries...

For Monrovia, Liberia, it appears there are only two: Brussels Airlines, with flights to Brussels, and  Royal Air Maroc, with flights to Freetown and Casablanca.  It's a bit humorous to see that Delta suspended its much-heralded flights from JFK to Monrovia on August 31st due to "weak passenger demand".

For Freetown, Sierra Leone,  the same two still flying to Monrovia, Brussels and Royal Air Maroc to the same destinations as from Monrovia.

And for Conakry airport in Guinea, it appears Air France with service to Paris, Royal Air Maroc with service to Casablanca, and Brussels Airlines with service to Brussels is the extent of it.

So it's not like Obama could use his pen and phone and shut down Brussels Airlines, Royal Air Maroc and Air France operations to west Africa.  As of this minute there's no American flag carrier service to this area already and no non-stop flights on any airlines.  Maybe that's why they can come across so cavalierly in opposing a travel ban--it's basically in place already.  In today's hearings (and other media questioning) CDC chief Frieden stressed that a ban would make it harder to track people arriving here from the hot zone countries and cause a widespread world outbreak.  Thing is, the surrounding countries have already imposed bans, which they credit with keeping the spread under control so far.

That doesn't leave many ways for sick people in the hot zone countries to get out.  They can't drive out of their area and can only fly to 3 or 4 cities if they can get past screeners.  In other words, maybe US authorities feel they have the few conduits of passage well viewed, perhaps even with the assistance of FBI or DHS tracking.

Of course, if law enforcement or transportation agencies are actually monitoring people it didn't work too well for Mr. Duncan.  One could even question why he wasn't moved to one of the top-notch Ebola treatment facilities as have all the other American cases so far.  Were they rigidly trying to follow a stupid protocol that was later changed, or was someone trying to send a subtle message to foreigners that coming here via deception might not result in a good outcome?   The Pentagon was only yesterday warning about a mass migration across our borders should Ebola spread to our southern neighbors, which would be based on the notion that once here they would have to be treated.   But treated how, like Duncan or the Americans?  

But let's end this on a positive note.  We are coming closer to the end of the 21 day incubation period for Mr. Duncan's friends and relatives who at last check were spending some quality time in an undisclosed quarantine location.  As far as the media has been told none of them have come down with the virus.  Also, nobody on the plane with Duncan came down with it.  So it's entirely possible the public quasi-panic will begin to subside soon if none of the casual contacts with Duncan or his nurses show any symptoms.  Other nurses or doctors working close to the patients coming down with it would not spread the same panic. 

Taken another way, if in a few weeks Obama takes full credit for solving Ebola that will actually be a good thing for the nation because it will mean, 1) we know more about the virus and how to handle it, and 2) it didn't become a widespread outbreak, none of which would be blamed on Obama if things get worse.  Politically speaking, this good news would not likely affect the mid-term elections very much because people expect the government to act when bad things come up and everyone knows the initial reaction was poor. If things get worse nobody will care about the elections.

BANS..   10/16/14

To co-opt an Obama phrase, let me be clear.  This blog called for Visa/passport bans weeks ago.  Those are not travel bans.  As pointed out above, there are no US carriers running flights into the hot zones anyway.  Flights will still run if the overseas airlines want to run them.  That's why the State Department's incessant argument that banning travel would cause huge problems in fighting the disease there deserves a big "how"?  The only thing that would change would be the delay of people in the hot zones getting into the US.  Run a quarantine, like the relatives of the Dallas index patient.  How f-ing hard is that?  We've heard our military will be subject to quarantines.

Simply standing there at the podium and arrogantly refusing while admitting that as many as 100 Visa applications are coming in per day in the hot zones is beyond the pale.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Hans Blix didn't find them after all

Is this the October surprise Bob Beckel on Fox was rumormongering about last month?
From 2004 to 2011, American and American-trained Iraqi troops repeatedly encountered, and on at least six occasions were wounded by, chemical weapons remaining from years earlier in Saddam Hussein’s rule.
In all, American troops secretly reported finding roughly 5,000 chemical warheads, shells or aviation bombs, according to interviews with dozens of participants, Iraqi and American officials, and heavily redacted intelligence documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.
It's a pretty slick Times report, complete with animated GIFs, all highlighting reporter CJ Chivers' account of thousands of chemical weapons shells found all over Iraq per ground reports and a Pentagon FOIA.

Wait thousands of shells, doesn't that qualify as a stockpile?   Not so fast, says Chivers...
All had been manufactured before 1991, participants said. Filthy, rusty or corroded, a large fraction of them could not be readily identified as chemical weapons at all. Some were empty, though many of them still contained potent mustard agent or residual sarin.
Most could not have been used as designed, and when they ruptured dispersed the chemical agents over a limited area, according to those who collected the majority of them. In case after case, participants said, analysis of these warheads and shells reaffirmed intelligence failures. First, the American government did not find what it had been looking for at the war’s outset, then it failed to prepare its troops and medical corps for the aged weapons it did find.
Chivers stopped just short of saying the United States was manufacturing chemical weapons for Saddam, but he went right up to the waters' edge, saying that American-designed shells had been sold to Iraq by European nations, wink wink, cue the Rummy shaking hands with Saddam photo.  While the story implicates certain European nations of actually selling the material to Iraq, nobody will cue the Jacques Chirac handshake picture with Saddam.

But we're left with this--there WERE chemical weapons in Iraq, lots of them, and they were never acknowledged.  Now ISIS likely has possession of the remainder.  All of which makes the reports out of Syria last year about rebels having used Sarin gas more credible.  And if true, part of the blame lies with Maliki, since the Iraqis, as members of the Chemical Weapons Convention, were responsible for getting rid of their old rusty chemical stockpile--but they never finished before ISIS rolled into town. 

But the Times didn't splash this report across the front page to vindicate BushCheneyBurton.  They did so presumably to give Obama an out card by saying the Pentagon/Bush covered up the fact that chemicals were found because they weren't the right chemicals, so it's not the Democrats' fault.  And Bush still lied because he said Saddam had active programs.

But Ace of Spades challenges the definition of "active", ie, the Times piece says, "The United States had gone to war declaring it must destroy an active weapons of mass destruction program. Instead, American troops gradually found and ultimately suffered from the remnants of long-abandoned programs, built in close collaboration with the West."

Hmm, looking back at history Bush had been fairly careful to avoid saying Saddam had active chemical weapons programs as a casus belli for war. He did leave the impression there were active programs, but mostly stuck to the idea that Iraq possessed chemical weapons and the facilities to produce them, which the Times has now authenticated.  Let's go back to the Iraq AUMF that Hillary, Biden and Kerry voted for:
Whereas after the liberation of Kuwait in 1991, Iraq entered into a United Nations sponsored cease-fire agreement pursuant to which Iraq unequivocally agreed, among other things, to eliminate its nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons programs and the means to deliver and develop them, and to end its support for international terrorism;
That's to say Iraq entered a cease-fire agreement to destroy their chem-weapons and program.  While they might have mothballed their active program, they didn't destroy the "means to deliver" such as artillery shells. Instead they buried them all over the place.  And there were likely individuals who had the treasure maps to dig them up later.  One of those was not Hans Blix, whose UN team never found them in 2003 before the invasion.  Ergo, Saddam was in material breach.  Back to the AUMF:
Whereas the efforts of international weapons inspectors, United States intelligence agencies, and Iraqi defectors led to the discovery that Iraq had large stockpiles of chemical weapons and a large scale biological weapons program, and that Iraq had an advanced nuclear weapons development program that was much closer to producing a nuclear weapon than intelligence reporting had previously indicated;
Doesn't thousands of shells constitute a stockpile?  At what point does a stockpile stop being a stockpile if they are not destroyed or rendered inert?  And notice again it says nothing about an active chem-weapons program.  More..
Whereas Iraq both poses a continuing threat to the national security of the United States and international peace and security in the Persian Gulf region and remains in material and unacceptable breach of its international obligations by, among other things, continuing to possess and develop a significant chemical and biological weapons capability, actively seeking a nuclear weapons capability, and supporting and harboring terrorist organizations;
"Continuing to possess"--check. The left will point out "and develop" in reference to the chemical weapons (and biological), perhaps dredging up this brutal report by the WaPo in 2004 describing the Duelfer Report, which noted: chemical weapons existed and that there is no evidence of attempts to make such weapons over the past 12 years. Iraq retained dual-use equipment that could be used for such an effort.
Which was simply wrong--munitions were there, buried underground.  What else did Mr. Duelfer get wrong?  The Kay Report on the Iraqi Survey Group done a year earlier stated:
We have multiple reports that Iraq retained CW munitions made prior to 1991, possibly including mustard - a long-lasting chemical agent -- but we have to date been unable to locate any such munitions.
Which was closer to correct.  The Times has finally located them.  Kay's report also left open the possibility that Saddam had explored reactivation of the chem program as late as 2002-2003, something Duelfer threw cold water on a year later.  Which was correct, considering the current revelations?

Of course this story leaves open the obvious political question:  if chemical weapons were indeed found in large quantities in Iraq why did the Bush administration remain silent about them?  Was it, as the left might say, a reminder of past sins in helping to arm the tyrant in an attempt to stop a worse band of tyrants (Iran), actions which might implicate the Bush family and friends?  Did we get rolled by our realpolitik of the past to the point where Dubya just said "the heck with it, we got Saddam, let's move on"?

Possible.  It would interesting to hear what James Baker has to say about it, assuming he could ever talk candidly. Hell, or George HW Bush.

Or maybe the Bush folks felt they couldn't justify going to war over old shells alone, which, even if passed along to AQ wouldn't do the kind of damage a bio or nuclear (or dirty bomb) would do.  This was borne out by the several attacks on coalition soldiers in Iraq using Sarin shells, which did relatively little damage.  Such munitions are also not easily transportable.  With terrorists swarming the country during the insurgency years it probably made no sense to start trumpeting "but they had chemical stockpiles"!  In the end this story is probably not going to change any minds either way.

But we don't live in history, we live in the present. Presently ISIS controls a lot of the areas where shells were found and were never destroyed, ergo, ISIS has chemical weapons. They may have already used them. A current political question would be "who allowed this"? The simple answer is partially contained in the idea that a certain president 'ended the war' in Iraq a little too soon.  In non-political terms perhaps this could explain why the 60 nation coalition hasn't been able to do very much to stop the advance of ISIS yet.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

CNN: War on Islamic Woman, too!

One cannot read this CNN op-ed entitled "I'm a Feminist, and I Converted to Islam" without considering for a moment it might simply be satire designed to gather web hits rather than pass on a rational perspective..
I am a Muslim, but I wasn't always. I converted to Islam in November 2001, two months after 9/11. I was 21 and living in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. It was a bad time to be a Muslim. But after four years of studying, poking and prodding at world religions and their adherents, I decided to take the plunge.
Well OK then. The barbaric act of 9/11 pushed her over the edge and she converted shortly thereafter to the religion of the attackers. Moving along..
I was drawn to Islam's appeal to intellect and heartened by the prophet Mohammed's quote, "The acquisition of knowledge is compulsory for every Muslim, whether male or female."
I was astounded that science and rationality were embraced by Muslim thinkers such as Al-Khawarizmi, who invented algebra; Ibn Firnas, who developed the mechanics of flight before Leonardo DaVinci; and Abu al-Qasim al-Zahrawi, who is the father of modern surgery.
Yeah, but what have they done for us lately?  And she appears to be offhandedly dissing Christianity, the mainstream religion in play during the advances of Western Civilization, which included landing on the Moon and Mars.  Obama didn't appoint the NASA Administrator to outreach to the Muslim world because they'd already been there.

We continue, getting into the meat of the title (Islamic feminism)..
But when I asked a Muslim woman "Why do you wear that?", her answer was obvious and appealing: "To please God. To be recognized as a woman who is to be respected and not harassed. So that I can protect myself from the male gaze."
Ah, the male gaze.  Conservative, like Quakers or Amish. No wait, they are not cool because they don't believe in science and learning, Insha-allah! Muslims use air conditioners and women drive cars after all. Well, some women drive cars, if allowed by their menfolk. Onward..
She listed right after right that women in Islam held nearly 1,250 years before women's lib was ever thought of in the West. Surprisingly, Islam turned out to be the religion that appealed to my feminist ideals.
Which is completely incoherent.

The essay continues..
It might shock you to know that I had an arranged marriage.
What says feminism more than an arranged marriage?
I have been spat on, had eggs thrown at me and been cursed at from passing cars. And I have felt terror when the mosque I attended in Savannah, Georgia, was first shot at, then burned down.
Curiously, it's hard to find even one mainstream media story--even from CNN--about a mosque being burned down in Savannah.  One would think that such an act of Islamophobia, especially with the likely culprits being redneck hillbilly gun-toting racists, during the reign of George W. Bushitler, would have been the top story for months on the cover of the NY Times had it happened. Yet the only story about it in the first 5 pages on Google is from an Islamic grievance website. Finally:
In my journey to Islam, I came to learn that Muslims come in all shapes, sizes, attitudes, ethnicities, cultures and nationalities. I came to know that Islam teaches disagreement and that shouldn't lead to disrespect, as most Muslims want peace.
Most of all, I have faith that my fellow Americans can rise above fear and hatred and come to learn the same.
It's comforting to know that MOST Muslims want peace.  It's just hard to figure out which ones when the terrorists tend to live underground in western societies for years before suddenly blowing up somewhere.

But as stated, not only is she a victim of the hateful American gaze she's now a victim of the potential backlash from the un-Islamic Islamic State terrorists because their interpretation of Islam (or shall we say "disagreement") is more in line with the 19 Muslims who attacked America on 9/11 causing her to convert.

It's almost as if CNN made up this entire story.   But they didn't.  And some people will take it seriously, using it to condemn western civilization as the evil Christian bullies again. 

At the same time, it's a toss up as to whether any American feminist organizations will even weigh in on the story.   That might force them to defend bashing the GOP as engaged in a war on women when true injustices remain rampant in many majority Muslim lands.  Calling for equal rights for all Islamic women might be dangerous, after all, and certainly not productive to the cause.  Look at what happened to Bill Maher when he urged liberal consistency on the issue.

No, if this lady wanted to really make her point she could have mentioned the brave Islamic ladies actually engaged in the fight against the "un-Islamist" ISIS....

Wonder what she thinks about these liberated Islamic women?  

Sunday, October 12, 2014

ISIS fighters in Mexico and Maloof

The WaPo's fact checker Glenn Kessler gives the recently hyped reports about ISIS-linked fighters being captured at the Mexican border, specifically claims by Arkansas congressman Tom Cotton, four Pinocchios:
As we’ve noted, just because something is on the Internet doesn’t mean it’s true. As a lawmaker, Cotton needs to be careful about making inflammatory statements based on such flimsy evidence. At the very least, he needs to expand on his sources of information. He earns Four Pinnochios for trying to turn idle speculation into hard facts.
In doing so Kessler mentions a World Net Daily article by Michael Maloof as contributing to the hysteria, reminding the readers that Maloof was a Neocon working for Doug Feith to find a link between AQ and Iraq immediately after 9/11.  He ended up getting his clearance pulled for associating with a Lebanese-American gun runner involved with arming former Liberian strongman president Charles Taylor:
The whole thing seems to have started with a highly speculative account on July 4 in WND, labeled an “exclusive” and titled: “New Border Risk: ISIS Ties to Mexican Drug Lords.” (ISIS and ISIL are other names for Islamic State.) The article quoted Michael Maloof, who it described as a former “top Defense Department analyst” and “expert on the Middle East...”Who is Michael Maloof? He gained notoriety in the run-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq as one of the key people involved in a DOD intelligence effort to demonstrate that Saddam Hussein had ties to al-Qaeda and was likely to provide weapons of mass destruction to terror groups.
In other words, he's probably a boogeyman spreading more false info on Iraq.  What Kessler could not do is actually refute the ground reports evidently originating with actual Border Patrol agents (who have not been identified and likely will not be), but since US officials with security agencies say it ain't so, it ain't so.  As a result these congressmen will not likely be vindicated anytime soon.

Whether this is hype or truth is still not settled.  Secretary Johnson was not completely candid when first asked about the four 'terrorists' who were busted on 9/10 at the border--they have now been identified as PKK Kurds, with much emphasis on their stance against ISIS.  Kessler could have activated his James Comey spidey sense regards government truth and pointed to the obfuscation coming from some of these same type of officials after Border Agents told Breitbart that illegal aliens were being allowed to use "notice to appear" papers as valid ID to fly commercially (at taxpayer expense), a story later verified.

But while researching the evil Neocon Michael Maloof, a man who helped lead us down the primrose path to the dumb war, some interesting stories popped up.  Keep in mind Mr. Maloof was not front and center at the Office of Special Plans back in the day--that honor went to Douglas Feith, Stephen Cambone and Rummy.  Maloof and his partner in research (one has to be careful using the singular word partner anymore) David Wurmser worked under the radar for the most part.  In 2006 PBS Frontline interviewed Maloof, who said the intelligence had always pointed more to a nexus between AQ and other terror groups and certain Islamic states, including Iraq, than it did to Saddam having WMDs. Matter of fact, he called into question the 2002 NIE, which talked about the threat of Iraqi WMDs:
Tell me about the NIE [National Intelligence Estimate] in October of 2002. Was it flawed?

I thought it was flawed. It basically talked about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. I just didn't see it, and I wrote a memo up to my immediate boss saying this is not correct, but it was something that came out. Until August of 2002, we were talking about terror as the basis [on which] to deal with Iraq. Then this NIE comes out in October 2002, and then, by December, you have George Tenet, the former director of CIA, going in and personally briefing the president, saying that Iraq had all this WMD.
I'm told that even he questioned how solid the information was, and that's when Tenet gave the infamous statement that "It's a slam dunk; the evidence is a slam dunk." ... To this day I don't know what prompted their October 2002 report. It's something they did on their own. ... What changed between August and October of 2002? What happened? To this day I don't have it. I think it might have been their desire to try to take back the initiative. It's the only thing I can conclude. ...
Maloof also told Frontline that all their data was cross-checked with CIA for accuracy but the animosity was so strong they never got back much confirmation.  He thinks they were simply afraid to say they missed it (9/11) and didn't want somebody second-guessing.  Maloof claims his group was working to get policy makers useful info on a tight timeline--they all thought AQ or others would attack again very soon.  One could even wildly speculate that Maloof and his outfit might explain the entire Plame affair--an attempt by CIA to get back at Cheney and these guys.

Anyway, it's impossible for a yahoo blogger on the internets to independently vouch for his overall credibility but based on the interview he certainly doesn't sound like a crazy kook fantasist.  Fast forward to 2013; Maloof is interviewed by RT about the chemical weapons attack in Syria that prompted Obama to nearly go cowboy on Bashar Assad. His contention at the time was that the Sarin gas was being produced in..... Iraq:
RT: Can you tell us more about that classified document you’ve seen, which shows that the US knew that Al-Qaeda linked rebels in Syria had sarin gas?
MM: The document itself was published in August 2013 by the National Ground Intelligence Center (NGIC). It’s part of the intelligence community. The fact that some of it was actually captured in May along the border in Turkey and it was actually Al-Qaeda, and since it was disseminated my sources are telling me that production has probably increased significantly and sarin gas is being produced quite widely now. That it's actually ongoing and there's actually a Saudi financier whose name I’m trying to obtain right now.
There's that crazy Neocon, blaming WMDs on Iraq again!  But wait, this time his information was also mentioned by a former UN inspector, the head of the UN Independent Commission of Inquiry on Syria, and by none other than Pulitzer Prize winning liberal journalist Seymour Hersh, in a blockbuster expose completely ignored by US mainstream press outlets, which actually pissed off the socialists!

So OK, the stories about the ten ISIS fighters at the border or reports about ISIS working with Mexican drug lords may or may not be true.  There doesn't seem to be any hard evidence other than a few anonymous sources.  But certainly such a concept cannot be out of the realm of the possible, considering the ISIS-inspired terror attack that Canadian and American authorities claim they recently stopped in Canada.  Matter of fact, those concerned with Islamic terrorism should probably be more concerned on the northern border considering history.

But singling out a Neocon relic of the Bush years now working for World Nut Daily in an attempt to tamp down anti-Muslim hysteria (regardless of whether that person is credible or not), is something that usually works pretty well in today's vacuous media, unless or until disproved by actual events. And sometimes not even then.  So we will have to wait and see on this one.

Side Tracks

Friday, October 10, 2014

Perusing the latest Clinton Library Docs

It's Friday before the Columbus Day weekend, so what better time than to release more required documents from the Clinton Library?!   A lot of stuff, but here are some snippets from the section on "African Embassy Bombings":

later in the same doc..

Notice what the White House was crossing out in this talking point outline--any mention of AQ and the likelihood they would attack again.  Their first draft, just like the first guess on Benghazi, seemed correct.  Then politics appears to have taken over. 

The WaPo took interest in an exchange of a Clinton staffer dissing Jimmy Carter for penning an negative op-ed on the retaliatory bombing of the al-Shifa pharmaceutical plant in Khartoum, Sudan in 1998, thought by the administration to have been a plant producing VX nerve gas for bin Laden (with help from Iraqi scientists).   But check out this verbiage...

Ah, the 'full information'.  At some point during the late 90s everyone pretty much agreed the al-Shifa bombing was a big mistake, ie, "Clinton bombed an aspirin factory and killed the night watchman based on false information" to 'wag the dog'.  Everybody, that is, but Sandy Berger and Dan Benjamin, who had recommended it and who've never come off their decision.

And from the looks of this memo there were others in the administration who appeared to know more than was being publicly stated, to the point that if Jimmy Carter knew everything he wouldn't have written the op-ed.  So, what was that information?  And why has the mainstream media never tried to pry it out of these guys? 

Monday, October 06, 2014

About that Atta at Logan Surveillance Story..

The Daily Mail has an update on a story that came out in 2011 to very little fanfare in the mainstream press at the time.  The Mail links to fellow Rupert outlet the New York Post, who has released the names of the witnesses claiming at trial they'd seen two Arabic men filming a security checkpoint at Boston Logan airport exactly four months before 9/11--and they claimed one of them was Mohammed Atta:
Stephen J. Wallace, a 17-year American Airlines technician, first alerted Logan authorities that two Middle Eastern men — one of whom he would ID as Atta from a photo array following the attacks — were acting suspiciously outside the main ­security checkpoint.
He remembers it vividly. It was the morning of May 11, 2001. One was videotaping and taking still photos of the flight board and the checkpoint from about 25 feet away, while the other was talking loudly in Arabic on a cellphone. The behavior went on for 45 minutes.
Very sensational--the Captain at Hot Air is interested, but there are some problems with the story.  Mainly the evidence.  Evidently Boston Logan Airport didn't have video surveillance of the airport waiting areas at the time of Atta's alleged snooping, so no hard evidence exists supporting their claim outside eyewitness recall.  Speculation was the other man was UAL 175 hijacker pilot al-Shehhi, who had been palling around with Atta during that same time period, but that's not confirmed either.

What about the Atta timeline? Could he have been at Logan on the 11th? Well, yes, according to this source:
9th - 10th May 2001: Unit #1, 1836 Lincoln Street

10th May 2001: AT&T cellphone account An exhibit at the Moussaoui trial mentions documents relating to Atta's AT&T cellphone account for number 305-632-2408. (Source)
13th May 2001 - 16th June 2001: 1818 Jackson St A Moussaoui trial exhibit mentions a $1110 receipt for Atta & al-Shehhi, covering the rental of the apartment 1818 Jackson St., #3A, Hollywood, FL. (Source)
21st May 2001: Renting a mailbox Atta signs up at Mail Boxes Etc, Hollywood, FL for a mailbox: Box 256, 3389 Sheridan St., Hollywood, FL 33021-3606. The service agreement specifies his address as 1818 Jackson St., Hollywood, FL 33020 (phone 954-815-3004). He then files a USPS (US Postal Service) form asking for mail to his 10001 W. Atlantic Blvd, Coral Springs address to be redirected to the mailbox. (Source)
The FBI claims to have tracked all his flights and never showed him or al-Shehhi taking a flight from Florida to Logan or back during this time period.  The Post story says the witnesses claim the two Arabs left on a flight to Dulles.  When I blogged on this in 2011 I speculated they could have driven from Florida to Boston and barely made it in time.  If they did fly it would have had to have been under aliases. 

But using aliases wasn't necessarily their MO.  There are occasions when they used them but not with their known flights.  If so, why?  One reason might be protecting their 9/11 identities in case they got hauled in. At the time it's unlikely they would have been in much trouble, but using their real names might link to the Hamburg Cell, etc, so maybe it wasn't worth the risk.

One thing is sure--their experience there, if it happened, did not dissuade them from returning.  According to the timeline Atta returned several times using his own name--but never with another Arab, until 9/11.  On June 28th he left Logan for San Francisco in first class on United 161--a Boeing 767--eventually ending up in Vegas on a connecting flight. The FBI considers it one of test-run flights that all four hijacker pilots took prior to the attack.  By the way, the infamous James Woods test flight seems to have occurred in early August and might have involved a few of the hijackers using aliases. 

If this event happened could it explain the befuddling detour Atta and Alomari took by driving to Portland, Maine on 9/10 only to fly back to Boston on a commuter plane on 9/11 to connect with American 11?   Maybe Atta wanted to avoid being seen with another Arab in the same area he'd already been seen--and challenged in--on May 11.  Maybe Alomari was the other Arab with him, not al-Shehhi.   Coming from a connecting flight would lead him to security from a different way before boarding Flight 11.

While there's no evidence anyone cased Newark or Dulles airports in a similar conspicuous fashion beforehand there is evidence that a rental car in the name of Atta was videotaped three times coming into and out of the Logan parking garage in the days before the attack.  That makes sense from a probing perspective.  They knew the car would be filmed so they wanted to see if Atta was flagged.  

Personally, the lack of video confirmation leaves the story less than a bombshell for me.  It could have occurred, but it seems somewhat unnecessary even if it did.  If this is about finding liability in a lawsuit they may have a case as there's no good reason for not having video in that terminal.  While it's hard to believe witnesses could unambiguously finger Atta from memory four months after the fact, it does happen.  Atta apparently carried a less than pleasant expression on his face most of the time. 

Another story involving Atta from the same Bevan lawsuit is also weird, but it may also not be true.  We just don't know enough.  And speaking of which, if the surveillance story doesn't explain Atta and Alomari's Portland detour on September 10, then it remains one of the biggest mysteries of the entire event. Were they meeting someone? Or was it just a final attempt to zig-zag? The FBI certainly wasn't taking any chances. The manager of the Comfort Inn in Portland underwent some unusual scrutiny:
The constant pressure was beginning to wear her down. Wale said it upset her that she needed to be tested for anthrax because she had been one of the first people to enter the terrorists' hotel room after the attacks.
It would be interesting to know when she was tested.   And then there's this

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Comey Interview

60 Minutes interviewed the Director of the FBI tonight, James Comey.   For those who've forgotten or never knew, Comey was Deputy Attorney General under Ashcroft in the Bush 43 administration and got semi-famous in the "Ashcroft Hospital Drama".

Perhaps the biggest bombshell of the interview was his mention of Khorasan, aka al-Nusra, aka Core Al Qaeda, suggesting an attack might be coming.   Which means the US didn't bomb them away a few weeks ago.  What he didn't say was the precise method of attack, probably through the air and possibly involving toothpaste if other reporting can be believed.  It's funny watching the administration scaring folks in this area while at the same time suggesting the threat from Ebola-infected fliers is zero. 

Anyway, the funniest moment was when he was discussing domestic "lone wolf" jihadists.  Comey said "lone wolf" was too good a description for them, preferring "lone rat".  Nice--especially to see the look on Scott Pelley's face.

Saturday, October 04, 2014

Battle Lines on Ebola?

This CBS News headline struck me as odd:
White House pushes back against Ebola response critics
Hmm. Who are those critics, again? The story hints at the culprits in the 4th paragraph:
Republican Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina even accused the administration of neglect Friday for not having an Ebola czar.
So the first critic mentioned was "Republican...". The story then mentions the administration's pushback, specifically the press conference given Friday at the White House. Yet nowhere did it mention the TOUGHEST QUESTION ASKED during that presser, which came from.... the New York Times.

So are we witnessing a mainstream media outlet trying to use the Ebola event to draw invisible battle lines between the White House and the GOP, perhaps using the fact the virus comes from Black Africa to suggest racist overtones before the mid-term elections? It wouldn't be surprising.

Meanwhile, more is coming out on the Dallas infection. Some Fed Ex workers in Monrovia claim Duncan knew he had the infection and was trying to reach America where health care is better to save his life. That certainly would be consistent with initial reaction by many here in the states.  By the way, that does not necessarily mean he was symptomatic and therefore contagious on the aircraft--just that he suspected he soon would be.

As to the administration's press conference, this was a talking point offered:
"Every Ebola outbreak over the past 40 years has been stopped," said Monaco. "We know how to do this, and we will do it again."
And we can all hope and pray they do. But we've never had a case in the United States, so this is uncharted territory.  By the way, the attempts to quell panic are understandable, but if they are misrepresenting the threat (such as what they've done with "core" al Qaeda) it does nothing but lessen confidence people have in government, something we all will need if things get worse. 

MORE  10/5/14

Legal Insurrection taking notice with a nice roundup.

Friday, October 03, 2014

Time for a Break

A completely selfish sports break.  The baseball playoffs have started and we have a Cinderella team this year--the Kansas City Royals, who haven't seen in playoff action since they last beat the Cardinals in the 1985 I-70 Series.   As a Cardinal fan, that was the worst World Series imaginable, featuring the infamous Don Denkinger blown call in game 6 with 1 out in the ninth that led to a total collapse.

But live long enough and (unless you're a Cubs fan) sometimes a game or series will come along to forever erase the pain of the past and even the future.  For me that was game 6 of the 2011 World Series.  It will never be topped.   

So, as the Cards-Dodgers start play tonight in the NLDS here's a tribute to that game, and the classic call made by ESPN radio announcer  Don Shulman  (by far better than Joe Buck's lame TV calls)..

and the Fox video highlights..

Back to all the politics, misery, disease and horribleness later. 

MORE  10/03/14

Well, shades of 2011.  Another big game for Matt Carpenter off the league's best pitcher.  Of course, immediately after the Cardinals put up a snowman on Kershaw people started tweeting about him 'tipping' pitches or the Cards stealing signs.   Sigh.  If the Cards were cheating how does Matt Holliday hit a HR on the first pitch against the reliever brought in after Kershaw?   This is the kind of crap that gets thrown out against the second-best baseball franchise in history (behind the Yankees).   They put their heads down and grind.  They play in fly-over country.  They win.  They are not flashy.  And the swells hate them. 

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Aviation Update

Slowly but surely the Ebola traveler has been named and his itinerary published: Monrovia-Brussels to a United flight leaving September 19th; connection at Washington Dulles on the 20th with a flight to DFW.

Meanwhile this guy.....

...has been telling everyone not to worry because Ebola can only be transmitted when a virus carrier displays symptoms.  There was 'zero risk of transmission' on the flights.  I am not questioning that. 

But I do question a few things.  The Dallas victim was able to board a flight after coming in direct close contact with a woman who had the disease and died.  He knew he was a possible carrier and might come down with the disease at any minute.  Matter of fact that's probably why he got on the flight to "visit relatives" in Dallas--an attempt to save himself.  We have better hospitals.  Was it only dumb luck he stayed symptom free all the way to Texas?

In other words, what happens when someone boards one of these long international flights, shows no signs of fever upon boarding, but comes down with a fever in-flight?  Can they or will they be isolated onboard?  Will countries or airports refuse landing rights if the flight crew tries to divert or declare a medical emergency to offload the sick passenger?  Could we have some kind of JV version of  "Pandora's Clock"?

Or let's say the person begins to come down with the early symptoms during the last leg of the flight but manages to hide it until deplaning, then gets off and walks through the airport, opening doors, touching walls and bathroom fixtures, sneezes, etc, on the way to customs?  Or gets through customs undetected and continues out into the world outside?  Seems unlikely the CDC could track down everybody he/she came in contact with. 

Now, everyone knows we are the beacon of freedom around the world and nobody wants to restrict the freedom to travel.  But we have a border.  Non-citizens traveling to the United States from the Ebola hot zone countries need visas to enter the US.  Should anything be done in this area?  Evidently there is a test to determine if someone has the virus before they are symptomatic (if the story is correct) so why not insist all passengers to the US get the test as a requirement for a travel visa, at least for awhile until the outbreak is quelled?  Some countries have already required entry visas to address this, but today the State Department was asked and the spokeslady, with a smirk, said they are not considering any such restrictions.  Let's hope they don't kill anyone with PC.