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Category Archives: Germ Warfare

The best new thrillers for October 2021 is the new Jack Reacher any good? – The Times

Posted: October 24, 2021 at 11:12 am

When a Russian defector is poisoned in America, a Pandoras box of memories opens for Lachlan Kite, not least because he is the next name on the Judas list. Thirty years ago, his first mission for the secretive Anglo-American intelligence agency Box 88 was as an English teacher working undercover in post-Soviet Russia. His task then was to help a germ warfare expert escape to Britain. The consequences of his actions as a callow young spy, however, are still being played out. When Kite and a retired KGB officer both seek revenge, their trajectories collide in that modern playground of espionage Dubai.

Despite praise and prizes, Charles Cummings novels have never quite achieved mass recognition, perhaps because he has been more interested in the psychology

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Scientists, Emergency Planners Conducting Air Flow Study In NYC This Week To Improve Response Protocols – CBS New York

Posted: October 21, 2021 at 11:06 pm

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) Is the Big Apple prepared for a chemical or biological attack? What about an accidental release of hazardous materials?

An air study being conducted this week in all five boroughs by the Department of Homeland Security could help emergency planners figure that out, CBS2s Alice Gainer reported Monday.

Non-toxic particles are being released into the air by scientists.

Its a sugar-based molecule and it has a DNA tag that we can look for, said Mandeep Virdi of MIT Lincoln Laboratory.

Its a sugar that is found in food substances, added The DHS Dr. Donald Bansleben.

Gases are being released, too.

Its instantly volatilized and the fan pushes the plume right up into the air, so we can deliver the chemical, the liquid tracer, in a very controlled way, said Marion Russell, a chemist with Lawrence Berkeley National Lab.

The gas is actually a perflurocarbon tracer, which is completely safe. Its used a lot in air flow studies, Virdi added.

Sampling and sensor equipment is set up at more than 120 stations and outdoor locations, Gainer reported.

Its basically a vacuum pump with a filter. Then theyre going to collect the materials, Virdi said.

Scientists will measure how far the materials traveled and the concentration, allowing them to see, how aerosol materials that may be hazardous to the public, how they are moving through a very complex urban environment, Bansleben said.

The scientists insist test materials are safe and theyre being transparent a far cry from decades past.

Back in the 1940s through 60s, the U.S. Army secretly released bacteria it thought were harmless across cities, including into the New York City subway system, for germ warfare studies.

This weeks air flow study is a follow-up to previous testing and required years of planning and rigorous approval, not just from the feds but also the MTA, NYPD, Port Authority and Department of Health of both New York and New Jersey, where samples will also be collected.

If people are getting on PATH and going home at night, are the trains carrying material into New Jersey, Bansleben said.

The scientists said the equipment is clearly marked and it wont affect or change your commute just hopefully help better prepare officials and help refine airflow.

The last time they did this kind of testing on a smaller scale was back in 2016, and as a result there were significant changes in terms of emergency response protocols.

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Letter to the Editor – Masks: one of the three best defenses in modern germ warfare – The Havre Daily News

Posted: September 27, 2021 at 5:45 pm

Editor,

Im a CASA volunteer and a Havre Public School bus driver.

In each of these positions, I am not only entrusted with helping ensure childrens safety. I am also required by law to report instances of suspected child neglect and abuse as I see them.

The most egregious offenses are those that negligently threaten childrens well-being and safety and those that abusively deny protections that place children in jeopardy. These can include the absence of proper clothing for weather conditions, proper diet for healthy development, and access to education and age-appropriate activities, as well as exposure to criminal elements.

I have two questions for social services, law enforcement and the courts in regard to COVID-19 and the delta variant.

Are parents guilty of negligence for failing to provide children with masks and to teach them to wear the masks properly?

Are parents and other adults guilty of abuse for demanding that children not be required to wear masks in enclosed quarters with very little social distancing?

Drivers frequently refer to their buses as germ factories and petri dishes because of the back-and-forth exchange of germs and sicknesses between us and our riders.

After suffering nearly monthly bouts of the common cold during my first four years as a driver, I have not suffered a single cold-related sneeze, sniffle or cough since wearing my mask religiously. Surprisingly, my youthful riders are quick to put the masks on and keep them on until the end of their rides.

We have a federal mandate requiring students to be masked while on school buses. While a mandate is an executive order and a law is a legislative act, they each carry the weight of the law and are identically enforceable.

When are prosecutions appropriate for people who insist on flouting the requirements intended to keep our children and themselves safe?

Kids have accounted for more than 30 percent of new coronavirus cases nationwide in recent weeks, and the percentage continues to rise.

More than 1 in every 500 Americans have died of COVID.

More than 1 in every 336 residents of Hill County have died of COVID.

More than 1 in every 280 Blaine County residents have died of COVID.

When is enough enough, and when does enforcement take effect?

Sincerely,

Alan Sorensen

Havre

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Ancient Greek Medicine: Who Was Hippocrates And What Was The Hippocratic Oath? – BBC History Magazine

Posted: at 5:45 pm

Early medicine in ancient Greece borrowed numerous ideas from ancient Egypt, with many people seeking supernatural explanations for their ailments, such as curses and the judgment of the gods. If someone became unwell, they would typically end up in an asclepeion a temple dedicated to the god of medicine, Asclepius. The patient would sleep there and hope to be visited by Asclepius overnight, who would tell them their cure.

Upon waking the next day, the patient would report their dreams to priests, who would prescribe them a treatment usually based on prayer, exercise, bathing and herbal remedies. If they were cured, the grateful worshippers would leave behind a model of their affected body part in the temple as an offering of thanks. However, a desire to seek more pragmatic explanations for peoples ailments grew as time went on.

Join us as we explore one of the worlds greatest civilisations from the birth of democracy and the ancient Olympics to warfare, the rights of women and the whims of the gods.

Take me to todays highlights

One of the most notable physicians to advocate science and reason was Hippocrates (c460c375 BC), who helped further the theory of the four humours, and was one of the first doctors to accurately describe conditions such as epilepsy. Whereas some people believed that the disorder was a result of demonic possession, the Kos-born physician instead determined that the cause lay inside the human brain.

Thanks to the work of Hippocrates and his adherents down the generations, distinctions now also began to be made between acute (short and sudden) and chronic (long-lasting) diseases, while emphasising the importance of observation.

Physicians would also regularly take checks of their patients progressing symptoms, as well as their pulse, temperature and excretions. In addition, the Hippocratic school pioneered important new techniques: a collection of writings attributed to the physicians followers (known as the Hippocratic Corpus) features the earliest known reference to an endoscopy using a rectal speculum.

Humourism was a prevalent concept in ancient Greece. Though the theory is believed to have originated much earlier, Hippocrates is often credited with refining and popularising it.

The core belief was that the human body was made up of four fluids blood, yellow bile, black bile and phlegm and that these corresponded with the four elements of earth, fire, wind and water. If any of these became imbalanced, you could become ill.

The humours were also believed to be connected with temperature and weather. Blood was associated with moisture and warmth; if you suffered from redness, perspiration and swelling, you were said to have too much blood in your body.

To solve the problem, doctors would practise bloodletting, achieved by cutting the skin or by using leeches. Fainting was usually seen as a sign that the treatment was working, but death could occur if too much blood was drained.

The four humours theory did not die out with the ancient Greeks. In fact, humourism would remain part of western medicine until as late as the 19th century, when germ theory (the idea that pathogens cause disease) and other medical discoveries took hold.

As medicine was still a developing field, physicians were often viewed with suspicion. Hippocrates, however, developed a code of ethics that helped turn medicine into a respected profession, and ensured that physicians came to be seen as important members of society.

The so-called Hippocratic Oath laid out basic ground rules for a doctors bedside manner, as well as text on the importance of honesty, compassion, confidentiality, cleanliness, and careful noting of a patients symptoms (which could then be used by other physicians).

Indeed, more than 2,300 years after Hippocrates death, much of the oath still resonates today:

I swear by Apollo the physician, and Asclepius, and Hygieia and Panacea and all the gods and goddesses as my witnesses, that, according to my ability and judgment, I will keep this Oath and this contract I will use those dietary regimens which will benefit my patients according to my greatest ability and judgment, and I will do no harm or injustice to them Into whatever homes I go, I will enter them for the benefit of the sick, avoiding any voluntary act of impropriety or corruption, including the seduction of women or men, whether they are free men or slaves.

Whatever I see or hear in the lives of my patients, whether in connection with my professional practice or not, which ought not to be spoken of outside, I will keep secret, as considering all such things to be private. So long as I maintain this Oath faithfully and without corruption, may it be granted to me to partake of life fully and the practice of my art, gaining the respect of all men for all time.

However, should I transgress this Oath and violate it, may the opposite be my fate.

This fifth-century BC marble relief shows a Greek physician treating a woman (Photo By DEA / G. DAGLI ORTI/De Agostini via Getty Images)

While Hippocrates is perhaps the most famous of the ancient Greek physicians, he certainly wasnt the only doctor to have had an important impact on medical thinking.

Herophilus (c330c280 BC), for instance, is believed to have been one of the first to perform human dissections during a time when a ban on the practice (for religious reasons) was temporarily lifted in Alexandria. Through his careful studies of the body, Herophilus deduced that veins only carried blood (it was previously thought they also carried a mixture of water and air), and devised a method for measuring the pulse.

Despite their pioneering ideas, the ancient Greeks still had some unusual beliefs when it came to conditions like pregnancy, including the notion that a babys gender could be determined through the complexion of the mother the appearance of freckles was thought to be a sign that she was carrying a girl, while a clear complexion indicated that a boy was due instead.

If a couple wanted to increase the likelihood of having a boy, the man could tie up his left testicle before intercourse; according to contemporary thinking, the right testicle was believed to be superior and would therefore conceive a stronger (and more desirable) male heir.

Another medical technique that the ancient Greeks utilised was trepanation drilling a hole into the skull. While earlier civilisations may have adopted the procedure to allow evil spirits to escape, its possible that Greek physicians had other ideas as to the benefits of the procedure. According to some historians, trepanation may have been used as a way of treating head fractures, on the basis that recovery was more likely if pieces of dead bone could be removed before infection set in.

Regardless of how strange some of their methods may seem today, however, the work of ancient Greek physicians had an undeniable impact on the western world. The teachings of ancient Greece were adopted by ancient Rome, and as the Roman empire expanded those ideas spread further afield. Together, they would influence medicine for many centuries to come.

This article first appeared in BBC History Revealeds essential guide to ancient Greece

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The US government’s comic approach to information warfare – Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

Posted: September 20, 2021 at 8:22 am

Internet feeds swarm with cats and bots and trolls. Malicious posts, disguised on behalf of foreign agents trying to sow political and social chaos, compete for attention in comment threads, social media ads, and sophisticated Big Data-assisted influence campaigns. It can be challenging to connect with others through the noise. It can be even harder if youre a government agency.

The US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency (CISA, part of the Department of Homeland Security) is trying to grapple with that dystopian information landscape as the self-styled nations risk advisor. The agency team tasked with countering mis-, dis-, and malinformation is helpfully called the Mis-, Dis-, Malinformation team (or MDM). Its mission is to build resilience against malicious information activities, which it labels an existential threat to the United States, our democratic way of life, and the infrastructure on which it relies.

With the disruptions of 2016 still echoing in the lead up to the 2020 presidential election, the agency wanted a new way to engage more people, especially young people, to arm them against disinformation: graphic novels.

The result is CISAs Resilience Series, fictional stories that are inspired by real-world events. The two titles released so far take up topics du jour like Russian troll farms, deep fake videos, and COVID-19 conspiracy theories to highlight the importance of media literacy.

Graphic novels are now a billion dollar industry in the United States. Theres certainly an audience for new visual books, including non-fiction. But is there one for government public service messages?

To find out, CISA turned to Clint Wattsa former FBI agent turned information warfare consultant who testified to Senate committees about Russias 2016 election interferenceto write the books. A British firm, Erly Stage Studios, designed and produced them. The firm publishes graphic novels and online games with a focus on global history and social issues, including a very graphic history of germ warfareauthored by Max Brooks for the Bipartisan Commission on Biodefense.

We have to find new ways to engage with people through mediums that use soft power and creative messaging, rather than being seen to preach, Erly Stage Studios CEO Farid Haque told Forbes when the first entry in the Resilience Series, Real Fake, was released. That book came out in October 2020, just before the November presidential election when fears about foreign (and domestic) disruptions of democracy were peaking.

Real Fake is the story of Rachel, a gamer, patriot disturbed by the proliferation of deep fakes and trolls online. So she enlists some friends and her mysteriously powerful uncle, the Chairman, to track down their source. Real Fake is one long speech bubble detailing the complicated and decentralized global infrastructure of troll farms, spoken by the youthful protagonists and the Chairmans secretive justice-seeking outfit called Symous. That sounds like it could be a fun comic with informative accounts of real-world threats weaved in, but it never really gets there. Real Fake serves up a lot of dense information (including a 10-page primer on deep fakes and a bibliography) at the expense of character development and visual thrills. The pacing often feels uneven and rushed, jumping from one idea or location just as it is beginning to be explored, with few visual cues to help the reader along.

There are other missed opportunities to embrace the hero genre and the graphic novel format itself. Take this intriguing panel, in which self-described journalists at a Western Europe troll farm naively discuss how best to promote a deep fake video they evidently think is real:

Whats intriguing is why the authors chose to write an aside about A/B tests (perhaps meant to show the banality of evil?) rather than actually depict sample disinformation posts, with all the color afforded by the medium. There are, in fact, very few examples in Real Fake of the actual content CISA is trying to warn readers about. Many of the panels consist of people sitting or standing around tables and planes explaining general concepts (or the plot) to each other. The story throws a lot of ideas at the reader, with the confusing takeaway that misinformation is a very complex problem that anyone empowered by media literacy can thwart but maybe only if you can also fly on a private jet to Moscow and infiltrate an active troll farm operation.

The authors made some welcome adjustments with the second issue in the series, Bug Bytes. Released in April this year, it adds a lot more excitement and character to a more coherent and (somewhat) believable narrative. This time our hero, Ava, is a journalism student. A few pages in, Avas father, a cell-tower technician, is beaten by crazed anti-5G hoodlums. While her father recovers, Ava goes on a quest to understand the attack, leading to some dramatic encounters and a lot of tutelage.

Conspiracy theories about the health impacts of 5G towers and their connection to COVID-19 and vaccines have led to real-world assaults, along with the burning of 5G towers, particularly in the UK. (For more coverage of COVID-19 conspiracy theories, check out the Bulletins Infodemic Monitor series.)

This seems like the result of a malicious cyber campaign! Ava swiftly deduces about the fictional attacks in Bug Bytes, before stumbling into the orbit of Symous, the same shadowy and well-funded cyber-intelligence group that underwrites the action in Real Fake.

From there the story gradually picks up steam into another tale of citizens qua vigilantes, though with significantly improved use of of the graphic format. Unfortunately, the unlikely heroics of the protagonists still muddles the messagethis time, when you reach the end of Bug Bytes, you find out the real champion is wait for it independent journalism. As a journalist, I confess to appreciating the flattery contained in that storyline, which clearly emphasizes the value of vigilance about facts. But who are these graphic novelettesfor, really?

CISAs graphic novels arent the first time in recent memory that government agencies have used comics to combat threats. A decade ago, the CDC went all in with a zombie apocalypse comic to encourage emergency preparedness. And in 2018, the US Army Cyber Institute worked with researchers at Arizona States Threatcasting Lab on a set of graphic novels to help West Point cadets learn about 21st-century dangers like drones and hackers. (CISA itself previously tried other fictional methods to raise awareness of information threats, like its 2019 infographic and social media campaign detailing foreign interference in the War on Pineapple. At the time the agency said it had no evidence of Russia (or any nation) actively carrying out information operations against pizza toppings.)

CISAs Resilience Series is unusual, though, in that it seems to put the onus on individualsjust civic-minded citizensto confront the danger of mis-, dis-, and malinformation. Perhaps unexpectedly for a publication coming out of the Department of Homeland Security, the running thread in both books ends up being about the triumph of non-government actors (albeit with resources comparable to those of Marvels S.H.I.E.L.D.).

In fact, the responsibility of powerful governments or corporations in both stories seems peripheral at best, and in some cases even presented as morally ambiguous (like when a hapless employee at a social media content farm in West Africa is thrown in jail for writing stories on assignment).

These are not disguised brochures for CISA. The overall message of vigilance is an important one, even if it sometimes functionslike poorly hidden vegetables in a toddlers mac and cheese.

But the Resilience Series still conjures a certain jingoism peculiar to government publications that can mimic the very threat being addressed.You cannot use scientific rationality and numbers to win this war, a media studies professor tells Ava in one of the many didactic moments in Bug Bytes. You need to win their hearts and minds first and then show them the truth! It takes 49 pages of instruction with pictures to get to hearts and minds, but it gets there.

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The enduring appeal of the Bond villain – Spectator.co.uk

Posted: September 4, 2021 at 6:13 am

Daniel Craigs fifth and final outing as Bond may not have as many pulses racing due to No Time to Dies frequently cancelled release dates (the first trailer was back in December 2019), but fans are still keen to see the return of the iconic British spy.

Indeed, recent events have conspired to make 007 more relevant than in previous years, with shiny-pated Amazon boss Jeff Bezos emulating both villains Blofeld (who took over the entertainment assets of billionaire Willard Whyte in Diamonds are Forever) and Hugo Drax (Moonraker) with his recent acquisition of 007 studio MGM and brief space flight.

Until No Time to Die is released, the jury is obviously out on Rami Maleks (Bohemian Rhapsody) turn as bad guy Lyutsifer Safin (crazy name, crazy guy, as the saying goes), but we know that Christoph Waltzs Blofeld (Spectre) will be in the picture, ridiculous Freudian backstory and all.

One thing noticeable in the franchise as a whole is the general absence of top-flight female antagonists for Bond.Sure, weve had formidable second stringers like knife-booted Rosa Klebb (Lotte Lenya, From Russia with Love), Fatima Blush (Barbara Carrera, Never Say Never Again), Xenia Onatopp (Famke Janssen, Goldeneye) and Pussy Galore (Honor Blackman, Goldfinger), but only The World is Not Enough (1999) boasts a woman as 007s principal adversary.

The film cast French actress Sophie Marceau as double-dealing oil magnate Elektra King, aided by her rather useless sidekick Renard (Robert Carlyle), unable to feel pain due to a bullet lodged in his brain, rendering him akinto The Black Knight from Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975).

Perhaps in his next iteration, 007 will face a female (or transgender) mastermind capable of giving the shaken, not stirred secret agent a run for his money.

On that note, my selection of Bonds ten most memorable foes (in no particular order):

For me, Scaramanga (Christopher Lee) and cheeky Nick Nack (Herv Villechaize) make an all-time classic double act of Bondian villainy.

Roger Moores second time as 007 proved a (relative) financial failure and reviews were lacklustre, possibly as the movie was seen to be aping the kung fu craze of the period.

A shame, as Lees three-nippled villain is an impressive opponent, comparing himself to Bond (we are the same) in both his skillset and deadly efficiency.

Scaramanga also possesses the wry sense of humour so missed in many of the modern Bond films, commenting to then superior Hai-Fat on Bonds escape from a karate school: What do they teach at that academy? Ballet dancing?

The added value in the picture is provided by Herv Villechaizes diminutive sidekick Nick Nack, who enjoys a bantering relationship with his boss and shares an equal dedication to ridding the world of James Herbert Bond.

Like Diamonds are Forevers pervy pair Wint & Kidd, Nick Nack also seemed to be something of a voyeur, but as 007 was always being caught in flagrante, I dont suppose he minded that much.

Moonraker is not a great Bond movie by any means, but the late Michael Lonsdale's poetic Hugo Drax is a wonderful baddie in fact hes my favourite of the entire gallery of rogues.

He gets the best lines (And you, Dr Goodhead, your desire to become America's first woman in space will shortly be fulfilled) and appears a decent employer, boosting the then sagging world economy with his hiring of the unemployed Jaws (Richard Kiel) after Bond killed his previous #1 henchman Chang.

Draxs strictures about physical perfection rebound on him towards the end of the picture when Jaws and his lady friend Dolly realise that they may not be suitable candidates for the would-be World Kings new Earthly Eden.

The film suffers from its attempt to cash in on the Star Wars craze, upping the global stakes still further after The Spy Who Loved Me (1977).

The gondola chase in Venice is best forgotten, a scene which could easily have been accompanied by the Benny Hill Show theme.The next Bond movie (1981s For Your Eyes Only) was a conscious attempt to bring the franchise down to earth (sic) with a more realistic (for Bond) premise.

Admittedly, Robert Shaw's Red Grant is not technically the main villain in From Russia with Love, but hes a great adversary, one who is no pushover for Connerys 007.Even if he doesn't know which wine to serve with fish...

Along with his Nazi Colonel in The Battle of The Bulge (1965) and Henry VIII in A Man for All Seasons (1966), Shaw never looked in better fettle, a stark contrast to his grizzled Quint in Jaws (1975) when he was (shockingly) only 48 years old.

In fact, From Russia WithLove is a rarity in having no main villain, with the chores being shared by SPECTRE myrmidons under the orders of #1 (aka Blofeld, played by Anthony Dawson), shown in shadow from the chest down, stroking his customary white moggy.

Does portly German golf andcard game cheat Auric Goldfinger (Gert Frbe) remind you of anyone?

Former President Trump (of German ancestry on his fathers side) also shares Aurics love of gold, as evidenced by the garish decoration of his hostelries and private apartments.

Back to Goldfinger, hes a rather boorish character, but with an eye for talent, backed up by loyal henchman Oddjob and Pussy Galores all-female Flying Circus of pilots, although Galore does rat him out in the end after succumbing to Bonds brutish charms.

Goldfingers plan to irradiate Fort Knox to increase the value of his own gold stockpile is a sound one, but (as usual in Bond movies) sloppiness in follow-up work on a captured 007 proves the baddies undoing, as he wanders off before a prone 007 is due to be cut in half by a laser beam.

Poor finishing, as TV football pundits are wont to say.

Prior to his international fame in the 1970s as Greek American lollipop-loving NY detective Theo Kojak, Telly Savalas was perhaps best known as a bad guy in the movies, aided by his trademark shaven head and slightly depraved air.

Telly Savalas is my favourite incarnation of the Bond nemesis Blofeld, closely followed by Donald Pleasence in You Only Live Twice (1967).

He is superb in OHMSS, even though his scheme to blackmail the world through germ warfare to recognise his title as Count Balthazar de Bleuchamp does appear to be on the petty side.Much like Dr Evil asking for 1m in the first Austin Powers movie (1997).

Director Peter Hunts movie is one of the best in the series, and although former Frys Chocolate model George Lazenby is no Connery, hes convincing in the action sequences.

The Antipodean Lazenby has a decent chunk of his dialogue dubbed by George Baker, as he couldnt quite nail the accent required for his disguise as College of Arms genealogist Sir Hilary Bray (played by Baker at the beginning of the film).

Looking if anything older than his 57 years (consider that Brad Pitt was just a year younger in 2019s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood), Roger Moore is a very creaky 007 in his final Bond.

Back in the 2015 BBC documentary Premium Bond, Mark Gatiss (Inside #9) went so far as to comment:If you watched this film, not as a James Bond film, but as a film about an elderly man who thinks he's a secret agent, its absolutely charming.

Luckily the movie has a decent villain, with Christopher Walken especially good value as Nazi-bred bermensch Max Zorin.Walken plays the role with a light touch, in some scenes even appearing to wink at the audience.And why not, as the plot is pretty much tripe (something about submerging Silicon Valley)

'Let the mayhem begin' says scheming Murdochian media mogul Elliot Carver (Jonathan Pryce) in Pierce Brosnans second Bond movie.Carvers plan is to start a war between the UK and Communist China in the South China Sea.Why? To sell more papers and increase viewing to his cable news channels of course.

Its up to Bond to uncover the plot and put paid to Carver; his task complicated by his previous relationship with the billionaires trophy wife Paris (Terri Hatcher). Was Tony Blair influenced by the movie or was it vice versa?

Pryce is underrated as the white-wigged Mao-jacket sporting megalomaniac, serving up his dialogue with evident relish:Soon I'll have reached out to and influenced more people than anybody in the history of this planet, save God himself. And the best he ever managed was the Sermon on the Mount.

Joe Don Baker (Edge of Darkness) pops up in the movie (and in 1995s Goldeneye) as CIA liaison Jack Wade; curious since he was the villain Brad Whitaker in The Living Daylights (1987) eight short years earlier.

The second of the Craig quintet is the shortest Bond picture and one of the most derided on release, not least for its dull title, taken from one of Ian Flemings 007 short stories.

But since then, Quantum of Solace has quietly been accruing a reputation as a decent addition to the series.

Following directly on from Casino Royale, the Bourne-style action sees 007 track down heads of the Quantum organisation (a Spectre front), chiefly eco-millionaire Dominic Greene who is busy gaining a monopoly of Bolivian water rights.

Mathieu Amalric (Munich) is good fun as the weaselly Greene, who unfortunately has possibly the lamest sidekick in the franchise Elvis (Anatole Taubman), whose potential for menace is undercut by his gormless Moe Howard (Three Stooges) bowl cut.

Amalrics weird squealing during his fight scene with the far beefier Craig is a highlight of the picture.

I do have a problem with Bonds decision to sling murdered friend/ally Ren Mathis (the great Giancarlo Giannini) into the nearest refuse skip, rather than arranging for his remains to be sent back to his loving wife in France.He wouldnt care,'Bond intones as he dumps the unfortunate Mathis onto a smelly heap of Bolivian garbage.Personally, I think he would.

Usually acknowledged as the best of the Moore Bonds, TSWLM sees web-handed aquatic wanna-be world dictator Carl Stromberg (Curt Jrgens) attempt to provoke a global nuclear war with the aim of eventually emerging as the head of an underwater empire.

As ambitions go, its certainly original, and to be sure, Strombergs vision of a marine kingdom Under the Sea bears scant comparison to the Little Mermaids Atlantica.

The usually sedentary Stromberg is aided in his efforts by towering henchman Jaws (Richard Kiel), who has yet to reveal the softer side he displayed in Moonraker.

Spectacular sets from Ken Adam, a great foil to Bond in Barbara Bachs Soviet Agent Triple X and Carly Simons theme song (Nobody Does it Better) make Spy an enjoyable watch, although the silliness of some of the later Rog entries is foreshadowed by increasingly gimmicky gadgets.

None thankfully in the realm of Die Another Days (2002) invisible car though.

Not an 'official' Bond movie, but NSNA boasts a first-class foe in the shape of the jumpy Largo, played by the excellent Klaus Maria Brandauer (Mephisto). Barbara Carrera backs the senior Spectre operative as his equally unhinged henchperson Fatima Blush.

Both roles seem to have been written (or at least performed) as a pair with serious cocaine habits, given the amount of twitching, wild-eyed staring and general tomfoolery going on.Donning the Bond toupe for his final outing, Sean Connery apparently had a miserable time making the film, bringing in sitcom writers Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais (Porridge) to punch up the script.

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Letters To The Editor Week of 8/16/2021 | The Press – Press Publications Inc.

Posted: August 14, 2021 at 12:50 am

Published by news@presspubli... on Fri, 08/13/2021 - 4:00pm

Viral questionsTo the editor: It has been common knowledge for years that all major developing countries have possessed the ability to conduct germ warfare. The Wuhan crisis is no exception.Was a virus created in the lab and deliberately leaked into the local wet markets for experimentation on the people of Wuhan?This is totally consistent with China's poor record on civil rights and its complete lack of concern for all of the Chinese people.The virus created in Wuhan is by no means a poor reflection on all Asians especially Asian-Americans. It is simply a reaffirmation of the Communist Chinese government's unconscionable disdain for human life. They are to blame.Now we the American people will soon be required by our government to get the vaccine without being told what are the short/long term side effects. This is inherently a violation of our civil rights since the vaccine has never been approved by the Food & Drug Administration.The one benefactor from the spread of the virus is the environment. Consider how working from home reduces the amount of carbon emissions caused by the automobile. Why aren't the Biden Administration and various environmental groups encouraging this?Joe BialekCleveland

Keep R-2 zoningTo the editor: As reported in The Press, the Elmore Planning Commission recently voted 3-2 to forward a proposal to rezone farm property on Dischinger Road from R-2 to R-3 on to village council for consideration.The mayor pointed out that the planning commission held a public hearing as required when a zoning change is proposed. Unfortunately, he failed to point out that the planning commission voted to send the proposal to council after many residents voiced opposition to the rezoning at the hearing. About 50-75 village and township residents attended the hearing and several spoke in opposition to changing the current zoning to multi-family.In addition, contingent property owners received notification to submit their comments in writing. Every letter read voiced opposition to rezoning.This property is annexed and is contiguous to the village only by the bike trail. At this time, all other property surrounding this parcel is not within the village. It will be difficult and expensive to provide the infrastructure necessary for services needed to support multi-family dwellings as it also involves crossing a creek.Village council will hold a public hearing before it votes on the proposal. The hearing is scheduled for Sept. 7 at 7 p.m. at the Elmore Community Center. I do not feel that multi-family dwellings on a 52-acre parcel are in the best interest of the village or the school district. I encourage council to grow our village with single-family and two-family dwellings and keep the current zoning R-2.Becky BusdekerElmore

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Letters To The Editor Week of 8/16/2021 | The Press - Press Publications Inc.

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Talk of the Town: | Blowing Rocket | wataugademocrat.com – Watauga Democrat

Posted: July 29, 2021 at 9:04 pm

I almost focused this weeks Talk of the Town column on ambulance service to Blowing Rock but decided to save that for another day. For this week, I want to say how blessed we are to have things returning to some semblance of normal.

First, on July 23 we enjoyed the return of Symphony by the Lake at Chetola Resort. The Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce sold out of their 2,500 available tickets within a very few hours of their becoming available. There were patron tents aplenty, which is another good revenue source for one of the chambers biggest fundraising events of the year.

It felt like there were more than 2,500 in attendance. The weather was fantastic, the music was wonderful, and spirits were high.

Kudos and thanks, really to the Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce team led by events chair Suzy Barker. Execution had to have been near flawless because we heard zero complaints. From the introductory remarks by Charlie Sellers, Greg Tarbutton and Hendrick Automotives Bobby Rice to the extraordinary fireworks display that capped off the evening, it was a magical night. And, of course, a tip of the cap also goes to Cornelia Laemmli Orth and the Symphony of the Mountains for a grand orchestra performance.

Yesterday (Monday, July 26), I ventured out to the Blowing Rock Equestrian Preserve to witness firsthand the preparations for the Hunter-Jumper Division of the Blowing Rock Charity Horse Show. It runs the next two weeks, through August 8, and it is as big as ever. With the more than 500 horses on the property and almost 2,000 people directly associated with the horse show, there is an enormous economic impact on the Town of Blowing Rock, not to mention inspiring entertainment. Watching those men and women, boys and girls put the magnificent athletes through their paces is fascinating, to say the least.

On the front page of this edition of The Blowing Rocket, there is a story about the horse show and its scope. I marvel that only about 36 people on the horse show staff make it possible for the competitors to do their thing, and to do it safely. All of those horses and people moving about this way and that at the same time on what amounts to a 20-acre postage stamp requires a lot of coordination, collaboration, and cooperation from all parties.

Can you imagine? 7,000 bags of wood chips for the stalls, 4,000 bales of hay for the horses to munch on, and they spend $30,000 during the events just to manage and dispose of the manure.

Both at the Symphony, as well as at the horse show, I saw few masks being worn. As a consequence, I saw some terrific smiles.

There are reports of an uptick in COVID-19 infections, especially among the unvaccinated. I get it that vaccination is and should be a personal choice, but it is hard to comprehend, given the evidence, why someone would not be vaccinated at this point. After we witnessed what the disease can do if unchecked, this isnt about losing our personal freedoms or government control. It is about the survival of the human race. If everyone in history had the same fear of getting a shot, a much larger share of our population would probably have contracted polio by now. Then there is the mumps, measles, small pox, shingles, SARS, chicken pox, hepatitis, mumps, whooping cough, and more. Without vaccinations, I hate to think what kind of plagues would have gripped the worlds human populations.

I was initially skeptical of the COVID-19 vaccinations, too. I admit it, but I got over the distrust. Yeah, like just about everyone else, I was flat on my back for a day so and missed work and one party as a result. But that was it. One day and I bounced right back, good as new.

Conspiracy theorists have offered that COVID-19 was part of some Chinese plot to develop germ warfare and the virus leaked out of a lab in Wuhan, perhaps on purpose as a sinister human trial or, more likely, accidentally.

While yes, it would be nice to know how the virus was able to jump from bats to humans, it really doesnt matter. The world mobilized like never before to control the virus spread and, at the same, the biopharmaceutical industry developed multiple and effective vaccines faster than had ever been previously accomplished.

It is annoying that we still have to wear a mask when we visit a healthcare facility. Reluctantly, I still comply. It is not that I am a lemming following a pied piper of the government, but if that is the price of getting a checkup, treated for cancer or blood clots, or having cataracts removed from my eyes, well it is a small inconvenience.

I dont like even the idea of masks, but I hope that we can get through what they are calling an uptick in recent incidences of COVID-19 quickly. After all, football season is coming and while it is better viewing to watch it on television, there is nothing like going through the ups and downs of a game with a crowd, up close and personal.

David Rogers is the editor of the Blowing Rocket.

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Letter to the Editor: Joe Bialek – Atlanta Jewish Times

Posted: July 18, 2021 at 5:35 pm

COVID-19

It has been common knowledge for years that all major developing countries have possessed the ability to conduct germ warfare. The Wuhan crisis is no exception. Was a virus created in the lab and deliberately leaked into the local wet markets for experimentation on the people of Wuhan? This is totally consistent with Chinas poor record on civil rights and its complete lack of concern for all of the Chinese people. The virus created in Wuhan is by no means a poor reflection on all Asians, especially Asian-Americans. It is simply a reaffirmation of the Communist Chinese governments inhuman disdain for human life. They are the ones to blame.

Now we, the American people, are required by our government to get the vaccine without being told what the short/long-term side effects are. This is inherently a violation of our civil rights.

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The one benefactor from the spread of the virus is the environment. Consider how working from home reduces the amount of carbon emissions caused by the automobile.

Joe Bialek, Cleveland, Ohio

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Letter to the Editor: Joe Bialek - Atlanta Jewish Times

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America’s Impressive History of Bioweapons Attacks Against Its Own People – CounterPunch.org – CounterPunch

Posted: July 10, 2021 at 3:43 am

The Biden Administration, the mainstream media and pretty much all the politicians in our country continue to throw fuel on the Sinophobia fire initially stoked by former President and current Mar-a-lago fungineer Donald Trump.

(Word to the wise, Sinophobia means anti-China hatred, not anti-cinema hatred as I had thought. So I apologize to all the people who posted a movie review forFast And Furious 27and noticed a response comment from me reading GODDAMN SINOPHOBE! Under the circumstances, that was an odd thing to yell.)

During the Trump Administration, the Wuhan lab leak theory was called a ridiculous conspiracy that blossomed out of Trumps racist brain which it did. It absolutely did. And he should get some credit for that because anyone can be racist but Trump is a racistinventor. He comes up with new and exciting ways to be racist. So he deserves some credit for his innovation.

Last year, Trumps racist lab leak theory was thrown out by both the Democratic establishment and most of the mainstream media. However, now that the crackpot conspiracy can be useful for President Bidens deranged anti-China rhetoric, all of a sudden the establishment and the media think its a wonderful conspiracy.

A recent CNNheadline blared: What the lab-leak theorys new credibility means for social media! A CNBCheadline screamed: Biden orders closer review of Covid origins as U.S. intel weighs Wuhan lab leak theory. While just a couple weeks ago, Yahoo News quietlyreminded us: Theres still no evidence of a Chinese lab leak.

But mainly you have to go to independent news sources to get the reality. Heres Danny Haiphong atBlack Agenda Report: Similar to Russiagate, U.S. intelligence has run with an entirely unsourced narrative, that conveniently pins blame on another country for domestic ills and labels that country a national security threat. The lab leak conspiracy is an effective psychological operation because it is difficult to imagine evidence that could disprove or prove the claim.

Ah, those are the best kind of racist stories the ones that cant be disproven.

But one thing youll certainly neverhear from the mainstream media is that all of this is stacked on top of a mostly-forgotten, yet impressively prodigious, history of the American people provably being used as lab rats by our own government. For example, as reported atBusiness Insider, On September 20, 1950, a US Navy ship just off the coast of San Francisco used a giant hose to spray a cloud of microbes into the air and into the citys fog. The military was testing how a biological weapon attack would affect the 800,000 residents of the city.

So they, uh, perpetrated a biological attack on American citizens to find out what would happen in the event of a biological attack on American citizens?! Honestly, the mind reels. In one of the largest human experiments in history, our military covered the people ofSan Francisco with two kinds of bacteria, Serratia marcescens and Bacillus globigii (Nowadays you can only find that kind of treatment from Clevelands tap water.)

The gas attack sickened many and was known to kill at least one man. According to Rebecca Kreston at Discover Magazine, this event ranked as one of the largest offenses against the Nuremberg Code since its inception because the code requires voluntary, informed consent to, you know, hit people with bioweapons. (Unless youre trying to kill them, in which case I think the informed consent is off the table.)

But that experiment did not mark the end of such things,just the beginning. Over the next 20 years, the military would conduct 239 germ warfare tests over populated areas, according to news reports from the 1970s after the secret tests had been revealed in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Associated Press, and other publications, and also detailed in congressional testimony from the 1970s.

After it came out, the government explained that their goal was to deter the use of biological weapons and be prepared for them. Apparently we wanted to deter biological weapons attacks on Americans by dropping biological weapons on Americansfirst. What a genius strategy. Our enemies would never see it coming. Plus, why would our global nemeses attack us with germ warfare if we do it toourselves? You cant threaten to kill a man if hewantsto die!

Of the 239 biological and chemical warfare tests by the military, some were done across the Midwest to see how the pathogen would spread throughout the country (and probably to clear out some parking spots). When asked why military planes were dispersing unknown clouds of shit over cities, they claimed they were testing a way to mask the cities from enemy bombers.

In another study of how vulnerable New York City subway passengers were to covert biological agents, for six days the U.S. military broke light bulbs brimming full of the bacteria Bacillus subtilis and S. marcescens inside NYC subway stations and watched it spread throughout the city. Clouds would engulfpeople as trains pulled away, but documents say that the people brushed their clothing and walked on. No one was concerned.

Thats New York for ya. Hit commuters with germ warfare they just brush it off and keep moving. Every day to a New Yorker is germ warfare. I once rode from Montauk to Hoboken sitting across from a man relieving himself. A little experiment by the Military Industrial Complex doesnt even register on a New Yorkers list of things to worry about.

Yet, the military was testing more than just germ attacks. Other experimentsinvolved testing mind-altering drugs on unsuspecting citizens. That program went by the name MKUltra (which is also a great name for a metal band or a homemade cocktail containing absinthe). MKUltra continued fortwenty years, during whichthe CIA triedto achieve mind control by using torture, LSD, hypnosis, and electro-shock therapy sometimes on unwitting subjects. (And even if they were witting going into the experiment, afterwards not so much.)

Among other things, this program resulted inthe murderof a scientist named Frank Olson in 1953 and (accidentally)the creation of the Unabomber. (Who said the CIA doesnt work hard? Theyre killin people here, electrocutin people there, creatin terrorists. Thats a hell of a workload.)

Next, theres the well-knownTuskegee Experimentsin which government researchers studied the effects of syphilis on black Americans without informing the men that they had the disease they were instead told they had bad blood.

Not to worry, young man you just havebad blood. Its gonna be fine. But you will also die soon. Thats one of the negative side effects.

The researchers withheld treatment from the participants so they could continue to study the illness, which the men werent even toldthey had.

In sum, the Military Intelligence Industrial Complex are serial murderers not just overseas but of our own citizens. They performedhundredsof experiments on unsuspecting Americans, and yet the organizations responsible still exist and enjoy budgets in the hundreds of billions of dollars a year. No one went to prison for these heinous acts because when you or I do it, its called a horrible crime, but when the ruling elite do it, its called research.

This piece first appeared at ScheerPost.

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America's Impressive History of Bioweapons Attacks Against Its Own People - CounterPunch.org - CounterPunch

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