June 2009 Archives

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Well, Goodbye Mary Lou (Forbes)

By Michael Fumento

Mary Lou Forbes, an institution, an editor, and a friend, is gone. She died of cancer at age 83 and worked until the end.

I was her colleague when I worked at the Washington Times in 1987, where I also had the privilege of working with the late, great Tony Snow, who died of cancer at age 53, and deputy editorial page editor Ken Smith, who also died of cancer at age 41.

Later Mary Lou became my editor at the Commentary section. I was shocked to read she was that old, because quite literally she worked and thought and sounded like perhaps somebody in her mid-fifties.

While we all know about how when somebody dies they suddenly become a wonderful person, Mary Lou was wonderful all along. I have no special anecdotes to relay; she was just a really and truly sweet person. When I last saw her two weeks ago at the annual Competitive Enterprise Institute dinner she was engrossed in a conversation, so I just squeezed her shoulder with my hand and smiled at her. I wouldn't do that with most of my editors.

It was really only quite recently that I discovered that she had won a Pulitzer back when winning a Pulitzer really meant something.

That was in 1959 for her coverage of the Virginia school-desegregation crisis. State and local officials bitterly opposed the integration of public schools after the landmark 1954 U.S. Supreme Court Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kan., ruling. "Integration anywhere means destruction everywhere," declared a defiant Virginia Gov. J. Lindsay Almond Jr. in a 1958 inaugural address that Mary Lou reported on for the now-defunct Washington Star.

Mary Lou was also a mentor to many a budding journalist, including a a fellow named Carl Bernstein, who sang her praises in a very nice Washington Times obit on her by my former editor Don Lambro. As Commentary editor, wrote Lambro, Mary Lou "published a veritable Who's Who of conservative columnists and other writers, including government leaders and think-tank experts who spanned a wide range of policymaking and political thought."

I'm so proud to have been a Mary Lou Forbes "Who." And so sad that this great lady has passed from our midst.

June 30, 2009 11:00 AM  ·  Permalink  ·  Obituaries

Swine flu about one-eighth as fatal as seasonal flu - and what it means for WHO's avian flu death rate

By Michael Fumento

With its updated estimate of how many Americans have actually contracted swine flu versus those actually identified, the CDC has given us a death rate of 0.012%. That compares to the seasonal flu death rate normally put at 0.1%.

Specifically, the agency estimated one million infections when 127 people have been reported dead. The official recognized case toll is 28,000, meaning the ratio of unrecognized to recognized cases is 35 to 1. Funny thing, though, that the WHO puts the death rate for avian flu H5N1 at 60% based on the presumption that there are NO unrecognized H5N1 cases. The CDC parrots this. This is especially curious given that where these cases are occurring, all in developing countries, you'd expect surveillance to be especially poor.

In short, the WHO and the CDC know the avian flu fatality rate is a crock and all those people making horrific estimates of death rates if H5N1 became pandemic (Laurie Garrett is worst, estimating that the entire world population will be infected and half will die) are either awfully dumb or malevolent.

And speaking of which, flu alarmist John M. Barry estimates in the Washington Post that swine flu will kill around 89,000 Americans. Actually, it may do so if swine flu just becomes another strain of seasonal flu. After many years it would eventually hit that 89,000 figure.

But Barry is saying 89,000 as a pandemic. Were we to limit the length of time when swine flu could be called pandemic to something reasonable, say 18 months, his estimate is ridiculous. How are you going to get there with a flu that's an eighth as fatal as seasonal flu when seasonal flu kills about 36,000 Americans a year according to the CDC.

Which is why his commentary was in the Post when they rejected my piece on the WHO's political science in labeling swine flu a "pandemic" that eventually appeared in the much-larger Los Angeles Times.

June 25, 2009 05:17 PM  ·  Permalink  ·  Diseases (other than AIDS and cancer)

Results from WashPost Swine Flu Naming Contest!

By Michael Fumento

The Washington Post has named winners in its swine flu naming contest that seem to suggest a certain skepticism about the WHO labeling it a pandemic - a well-founded skepticism, as I've written. Among the winners:

- "CNN Flu"
- "Fox News Flu"
- "NewFlu" because it will "disappear as quickly as New Coke," and can be "recycled as needed."
- "Ponzi Flu," because it "starts with just a few, increases until widespread," and then everyone realizes "nothing is there."
- "Y2K Flu," because "It's the same hype and senseless waste of money. Twice."

My, my! Whom can not trust the WHO?

June 20, 2009 07:28 PM  ·  Permalink  ·  Diseases (other than AIDS and cancer)

The WHO Fabricates a Pandemic

By Michael Fumento

For five years now, the WHO has been crying that a flu pandemic is a "when, not an if." Now it can boast it was right. Problem is, the mildest pandemics of the 20th century killed at least a million people worldwide, while old-fashioned seasonal flu strikes every nation yearly killing an estimated 250,000 to 500,000. But swine flu had killed all of 144 people when the pandemic was declared - far fewer than succumb daily to seasonal flu.

And in Mexico, where the outbreak began and where it has been the most severe, cases had already peaked.

Meanwhile, the declaration has signaled governments worldwide to launch emergency response plans. These will be costly when we can least afford it, could prompt severe restrictions on human activities (think China), and render the term "flu pandemic" essentially meaningless - risking lethal public complacency if a bona fide one hits.

How could the WHO get away with simply swapping "avian" for "swine?" Find out in my piece in today's Los Angeles Times.

June 15, 2009 01:29 AM  ·  Permalink  ·  Diseases (other than AIDS and cancer)

Obama Encourages "Swine Flu as Bioweapon" Kookiness

By Michael Fumento

"The latest bioterrorism attack by the New World Order is likely a beta test," according to the conspiracy website "New World Liberty." It continues, "Yes, it is a bioterrorism attack. It was a hybrid strain created from human, swine, and bird flu from North America, Europe, and Asia. It was created in a laboratory. This doesn't happen in nature."

Actually it's happened in nature numerous times; but these fruitloops can take comfort that Pres. Barack Obama has proposed financing production of a swine flu vaccine in part with $3 billion set aside for defenses against biological attacks.

Fortunately, opposition is bipartisan. "Using BioShield funds for flu preparedness will severely diminish the nation's efforts to prepare for [weapons of mass destruction] events and will leave the nation less, not more, prepared." So stated chairman of The Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism, former senator Bob Graham (D-Fla.), and vice chairman, former senator James M. Talent (R-Mo.), in a letter sent yesterday to Pres. Obama.

Aside from the "weapon" aspect, "mass destruction" hardly seems applicable to a virus that to date has killed about as many Americans who die every three hours from seasonal flu during flu season.

But the konspiracy kooks must feel vindicated. Now if only Obama would speak out against that pyramid with the eyeball on the dollar bill . . .

June 8, 2009 01:38 PM  ·  Permalink  ·  Diseases (other than AIDS and cancer)

Strange but true!

By Michael Fumento

The flight path of doomed Air France flight 447 took it within just 3,000 miles of the Bermuda Triangle! Now, why aren't the media all over this story?

June 5, 2009 05:10 PM  ·  Permalink  ·  Fun

Mexican swine flu epidemic peaked almost as soon as it began

By Michael Fumento

According to a study just released in the CDC publication Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report, swine flu H1N1 was identified in Mexico just after mid-April and appears to have peaked on April 27. Seasonal flu season in the U.S. lasts about five months. Add in the remarkably low fatality rate of swine flu compared to seasonal flu. Now decide for yourself whether the ongoing hysteria, much of it driven by the World Health Organization, is justified.

June 4, 2009 02:59 PM  ·  Permalink  ·  Diseases (other than AIDS and cancer)

Nature Bites Nature-Worshipper

By Michael Fumento

Veneration of nature can have painful consequences, as Maryland resident Sam Pettengilll found out the hard way.

The tiny copperhead slithered into: Pettengill's studio apartment at Kunzang Palyul Choling, a Buddhist temple near Poolesville, Maryland where all creatures great and small are venerated. Pettingill simply picked it up by hand and it simply bit him twice on the finger, causing his hand and forearm to swell up and making him woozy before he was taken to the hospital to receive anti-venom treatment.

But what counts is that the snake slithered away and is doing fine. It should have a book-movie package in the works by tomorrow.

June 4, 2009 12:56 PM  ·  Permalink  ·  Environment