COULD a US pharmaceutical firm be behind the anthrax attacks in the US that killed five people? The FBI thinks so. Anthrax spores used in the attacks are genetically identical to a strain obtained by researchers over 20 years ago at the US army's Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases. The army sent that strain out to five laboratories.
According to the Washington Post, the FBI 'have conducted dozens of interviews to determine whether potential profit' may have 'motivated' the attack. Drugs manufacturers and companies specialising in decontamination could be behind spreading the anthrax, according to US microbiologist Richard Ebright. But FBI investigators may find it hard to pinpoint those responsible.
A top US government agency secretly produced anthrax for years. The CIA stockpiled anthrax as part of its defensive biological warfare programme without official knowledge. The agency was not among the 91 labs registered with the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
US ally executes gays
BUSH AND Blair have not condemned three killings carried out by the government of one of their key allies in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia, run as a dictatorship by the Saud family, publicly beheaded three men in December for the crime of being gay.
The charges against the men included 'ugly acts of homosexuality'. The men were the latest of at least 122 people who were executed in Saudi Arabia last year.
Racism grounds Bush man
ONE OF George Bush's bodyguards has become a victim of the racist security guidelines introduced by Bush in the wake of the 11 September attacks. The bodyguard, of Arab descent, was banned from boarding a flight in Washington on Christmas Day because American Airlines security thought that he could be a terrorist.
'This is a case of discrimination. Our client believes he was denied the right to fly because he is of Arab descent,' said his lawyer. 'I'm as mad as heck,' said George Bush. For once Inside the System agrees.
THERE has been a new blow to the hopes for democracy in Serbia. The government is hoping to model its new parliament on the Welsh Assembly. Serbian academics and politicians travelled to Cardiff to examine the Welsh Assembly at first hand. But the assembly is hardly a good example of democracy.
Tony Blair imposed his favoured candidate, Alun Michael, as Welsh first secretary and the election process overrode the democratic views of the majority of Labour Party members.
Australia: cuts fan the flames
THE PRESS has been quick to condemn arsonists for the fires raging in New South Wales in Australia. The state's right wing Labour premier, Bob Carr, said, 'Sending them to prison is too good for them.' The real scandal is the cuts in fire services in this area.
Bushfire prevention and firefighting are almost exclusively done by volunteers, often with outdated equipment. The state's rural fire service, covering over 90 percent of the state, has only 116 permanent staff compared to 70,000 volunteer members. After a devastating fire in 1994 the state coroner criticised the New South Wales state government and fire services, demanding a major overhaul.
Then premier Carr refused to employ more professional firefighters to save money. His government only provides 13 percent of the rural fire service budget. Private insurance companies contribute three quarters of the budget. The rural fire service costs around $16 million a year. The urban fire service, with full time employees, costs $321 million a year.
WESSEX water has been given the British Construction Industry's Award for Building for its new headquarters. The award is supposed to highlight an environmentally sensitive construction. But the private water firm has an appalling record on the environment.
It has received fines of £36,500 for pollution offences, including pouring raw sewage into the river Avon, pouring fuel oil into groundwater, and poisoning fish with ammonia-filled sewage discharges.
Monsanto's deadly drugs
A SHOCKING new study in Vietnam has shown that the chemical warfare waged by the US is still blighting people's lives over 25 years later. Scientists found that residents living in Binh-Hoa have over 200 times the normal levels of dioxin in their blood. The deadly dioxin is one of the constituents of Agent Orange, used as a defoliant by US forces in the Vietnam War. Agent Orange is still causing cancers and birth deformities across Vietnam. The chemical was made by the Monsanto multinational, which pushes genetically modified foods today.
Monsanto's murky past has also been exposed by a report in the Washington Post this week. It says Monsanto pumped out now banned chemicals called PCBs into rivers in Anniston in Alabama for decades despite knowing they were poisonous.
Things they say
'WHEN A poor person steals just in order to eat or, better, when many poor people steal in order to feed their children, it is called looting, assaults, left wingers, subversives, organisation. Immediately afterwards there is repression. When ruling classes, the multinationals and the industrialists steal from us, it is called inflation, marking up, indexation.'
HEBE BONAFINI, leader of the Madres de Plaza de Mayo, who have been heavily involved in the Argentinian uprising
'DAWN OF A New €rror.'
The SUN's front page on the introduction of the euro on 1 January
'DAWN OF A New €ra.'
The IRISH SUN's front page on 1 January
'SIR Paul McCartney has become Britain's first ever pop billionaire, notching up a £1.1 billion fortune.'
'IF I was going to go out with anyone for their money, I would be with someone a lot richer.'
HEATHER MILLS, Paul McCartney's fiancee
'WHATEVER weapon is available, we will use it.'
Indian prime minister ATAI BEHARI VAJPAYEE on the dispute with Pakistan. Both countries have nuclear missiles
'WE ARE working hard to convince both the Indians and the Pakis there's a way to deal with their problems without going to war.'
GEORGE BUSH auditioning for a job as racist comedian Bernard Manning's understudy
'THE president has great respect for Pakistan, the Pakistani people, and the Pakistani culture.'
US SPOKESPERSON apologising for Bush's racist comments