Category Archives: disease

The Fifth Weekly Digest of Illegal Immigration in America

During the week of September 1-7, 2007:

Malos Muchachos

We begin the week with a bonafide doosey.  Miguel Angel Ortiz, an illegal alien from Uruguay, fled poverty in his homeland back in 1987 and over the last 15 years especially became a multi-millionaire living the high life in Virginia Beach, Virginia.  Using a stolen identity, Ortiz established himself well as a master welder, formed a corporation and landed huge jobs as a contractor at the shipyards, sometime reaping as much as $1.5 Million for his work.  Even though he amassed a long list of crimes committed here inclusive of car theft, child abuse and a short ton of violent crimes — including kicking his pregnant wife in the stomach — and the next year kicking his 5-month old daughter, Ortiz skated by.  In 2002, he was convicted on his latest domestic abuse case involving his wife, served six months in jail and deported in 2003.  Ortiz again returned illegally, reunited with his family and formed the corporation “Virginia Welding and Fabrication, Inc.” using his wife’s name as incorporator and President and started raking in the dineros.  Virginia terminated the company’s corporate status in 2006 for failure to file required annual reports.  So Ortiz started another company, “Ortiz & Guys Welding and Ship Repair” and kept right on going…still using that same stolen identity he had purchased for $8,000 in New York back in 1996.  By the way, our federal government granted Ortiz a passport under the name of that stolen identity.  Ortiz’s jet-setting lifestyle of travels, two 2006 Hummers, a Harley, a 2007 Mercedes, two other fairly new vehicles and their lavish beachfront home finally came to an end when he tried to renew his passport this April and was pegged by ICE.  His oft-abused wife also called in another domestic violence claim and outed him as an illegal alien.  Ortiz pleaded guilty to aggravated identity theft and falsifying a passport application and was sentenced August 20 to 27 months in prison, then will face deportation.  In his sentencing hearing, a federal prosecutor detailed Ortiz’s litany of deceit and asked for the maximum punishment under federal guidelines.  “He is someone who is intelligent, he’s hardworking, he’s resourceful and he’s determined,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Krask told the judge. “Those normally are good adjectives to say about someone. “But I think in adjudging Mr. Ortiz’s potential to commit this crime again,’’ he continued, Ortiz “presents a strong likelihood that he’s going to try and come into the United States after he’s done with this court.”  Groups seeking better enforcement of immigration laws said that the Ortiz case is indicative of the need for an improved identification system – one that relies on fingerprints or DNA. You absolutely MUST read the details revealed in the Virginia-Pilot’s investigation and coverage of this bizarre case and ask yourself, too, just how this guy slipped through so many crevasses, not cracks.

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Minneapolis, Minnesota has ordered the resentencing of the former owner of the Udupi Cafe in Columbia Heights for employing illegal Mexican workers, saying the judge failed to adequately explain why he imposed a lighter sentence than was recommended by federal guidelines.  Nagappan Mylappan Chettiar, 45, pleaded guilty last year to knowingly hiring 10 or more illegal aliens. U.S. District Judge Michael J. Davis sentenced him to one day of imprisonment (time served), plus two years of supervised release with three months of that to be served in a half-way house and nine months in home detention. The U.S. attorney’s office appealed, calling the sentence a “dramatic” and “extraordinary” departure from advisory sentencing guidelines, which are presumed to be reasonable. Prosecutors argued that no “exceptional facts” warranted such leniency, and argued for a sentence of one year and a day in prison.

A Mexican coyote and nine illegal aliens from Mexico were nabbed in Kingsport, Tennessee during a traffic stop for speeding.  Police way the group began their journey in Mexico, traveling through Atlanta and were on their way to Charlottesville, Virginia.  The coyote was dropping illegals off at specific locations across the United States.

Jesus Avila, 22, who is accused of murdering a Burlington City, New Jersey man and shooting his girlfriend in the ankle over the weekend, has been identified as an illegal alien from Mexico and a local gang member.  At the time of the murder and aggravated assault, Avila was free under a $5,000 bond having been arrested and arraigned on a misdemeanor charge of “creating a false public alarm,” whatever that is.

Illegal alien Jesus Manuel Holguin-Albo confessed to stabbing his friend to death in Provo, Utah last year.  In a pre-trial motion for his coming murder trial, his attorney has claimed the jury pool available to his client does not contain enough Latinos and is requesting more Latinos be seated and the jury system changed so that there can be.  By law, juries are created by legal records from drivers licenses, tax payers and registered voters, none of which reflect race or ethnicity.  And while census records place Utah County at somewhere between 3.5% and 8.5% Latino, a lot more Latinos are visible in the community.  In a 42-page ruling, Judge Lynn Davis outlined several problems with Holguin-Albo’s motion, including the possibility that 70 percent of the Hispanic population [in Utah County] could be illegal.  I would personally add that, as of now, illegal aliens are first and foremost illegal, cannot possess a valid drivers license, are not recorded as legal do not pay taxes and are not allowed to vote…therefore illegal aliens are not eligible to serve as jurors

A total of 40 Hispanics — a large, but “untold” number of whom are illegal aliens — were nabbed in a cocaine distribution investigation in Hazleton, Pennsylvania.  Authorities say the group, which included a number of gang members, have been responsible for distributing more than $31 Million in cocaine during the past three years.  The drug ring was hauling in some $200,000 per week from their cocaine sales in Hazleton alone.

Miguel Barajas Huerta, 43, was stopped by State Troopers in Springfield Township, Pennsylvania for drunk driving…and for transporting 14 illegal aliens from Mexico in the back open bed of his F-250 pickup

ICE officials have shut-down a modern day slavery ring in Newark, New Jersey, in which some 20 illegal alien women from the African nation of Togo were forced to work 14-hour days without pay and threatened to be sent back home if they refused.  Three Togolese nationals have been charged.  Lassissi Afolabi, 44, Akouavi Kpade Afolabi, 39, and Dereck Hounakey, 30, all face charges of harboring illegal aliens, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. Kpade Afolabi is also charged with smuggling illegal aliens for financial gains, which can be punished by an additional 10 years in prison.

Border Patrol agents found 17 illegal aliens crammed into a van near Mobile, Alabama.  The van, known as “Camionetas” in Spanish, is from one of 45 known companies operating out of Houston, Texas that sends illegal alien van-loads regularly throughout the country, and which ICE is targeting for their smuggling activities.

Remember that bogus American Indian tribe in Wichita, Kansas that was scamming illegal aliens by selling “citizenships” to their tribe for $5,000 a pop with the promise of becoming an automatic US citizen?  ICE raided the two offices of the Kaweah Indian Nation in Wichita. Our Texas Attorney General is also suing the fake tribe and its leader, Malcolm L. Webber, for fraudulently selling tribe memberships by claiming that tribal members could get a Social Security number, protection from deportation and U.S. citizenship once the tribe is federally recognized.  (Ahem)  They’re not a recognized tribe, nor is Webber an American Indian.

Two illegal aliens from Mexico are in the custody of Fort Worth, Texas police for the attempted kidnapping of a female TCU student.  The two illegals are strongly suspected in three other attempted kidnappings that have plagued the TCU area for some time.  Jose Alberto Chavollo, 19, and Victor Garcia, 23, were arrested by Mansfield authorities. Chavollo faces charges of aggravated kidnapping, evading arrest and possession of a controlled substance and was being held with bail set at $31,000. Garcia faces a charge of aggravated kidnapping and was being held with bail set at $100,000.

Some 65 people — mostly illegal aliens — were nabbed in a week-long anti-gang operation targeting Hispanic gangs in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.    A total of 5,000 Hispanic gang members have been arrested since the program began in February of 2005.  Per Oklahoma County Sheriff John Whetsel:  “Some of those arrested were among Oklahoma County’s most dangerous gang members.”  Those arrested hailed from Mexico, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, and IRAQ.

Peligro, Will Robinson!!

Mexico does not end at its borders….  Where there is a Mexican, there is Mexico.”  So said Mexico President Felipe Calderon in his state of the nation address at the National Palace before a riotously enthusiastic audience in Mexico and here in the states.  Calderon, like his predecessors Fox in 2004 and Zedillo in 1995, is sending a clearly seditious message (first strongly outlined by Fox in 2002 of Mexico’s long-range goals of EU-type open borders to establish “our new nation”) to the near 50 Million Hispanics in America:  Live in the US (where we restored your Mexican citizenship by a constitutional change in Mexican law in 1998), but put Mexico first, even if you’ve taken an oath as a US citizen to renounce your Mexico allegiance, or allegiance to any other country.  Calderon reinforced Mexico’s rulers in telling all within ear shot the first loyalty of all men and women of Mexican ancestry, no matter where they live, is to Mexico.  In consideration of the Democrat’s unprecedented pandering (strategically smart) to an Hispanic debate crowd, there is no way to fully underscore just how easily the liberal establishment can allow and even persuade Mexican-Americans to vote Mexico’s own interests here in the US.

Hasta la Vista

Nineteen illegal aliens have been apprehended in Grand Island, Nebraska during a raid of Cloudburst Lawn & Sprinkler, a local landscaping firm.  Heading back to their homelands in the next few months will be 11 illegal aliens from Mexico, 6 from El Salvador and 2 from Guatemala.

There were four illegal aliens inside a van carrying more than 14 people that overturned on a Chicago area freeway killing two of the occupants.   The van load — all hired by Barton Staffing Services of Joliet, Illinois — was returning from picking up trash at the Cog Hill Golf Course in Lemont that will host the PGA’s BMW Championship this weekend.  The four now face deportation proceedings.

Already more than a hundred illegal aliens have been nabbed this past week in the Mobile, Alabama area at various construction sites, and five were caught near a middle school in Summerdale after “commenting” on the “appearance” of girls there.  No information is available, other than all being Hispanic.

More than 24,000 illegal aliens from Guatemala are expected to be deported by year’s end.  So far in 2007 more than 15,000 illegal aliens here have been shipped back home, much larger numbers than just a year ago in which more than 18,000 were deported back to Guatemala.

Loco Politicos

The U.S. House of Representatives is currently underway in a last-ditch effort to secure some sense of immigration reform in the revival of a bill that died in committee so that the notorious “Comprehensive Immigration Reform” monster package of confusion and amnesty could be brought before the Senate and ultimately die.  The current bill calls for some of the same things as the compromise legislation that died. Both include a pathway to citizenship for those already here illegally.  Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, said the bill essentially sells citizenship for $2,500 — the amount of the proposed fines. He derided the touch-back provision as “a scenic bus ride.”

Arizona Senator Jon Kyl, who has watched his popularity take a nose dive after his high-profile role in the Senate’s failed immigration reform legislation that would have granted amnesty to the near 20 million illegal aliens in the US, has landed in the news again, albeit through a column he wrote in an Arizona newspaper speaking out against Sanctuary Cities.  He is right, in my opinion, about the plight this country is suffering when he asserts ” Sanctuary policies compound the failure of the federal government to counter the flow of criminal aliens into the United States.”  And this year’s Government Accounting Office statistics that 55,322 criminal aliens were arrested at least a total of 459,614 times,averaging over eight arrests per alien and the Department of Justice having expressed its surprise at the “extremely high” rate of rearrests for criminal aliens when it found that that 73 criminal aliens in a study group were arrested a total of 429 times, certainly underscores our disaster.  Kyl rightly slams DHS Chief Michael Chertoff for “policy choices” that have destined local efforts to fail.  And, of course, Kyl touts his own failed legislation.  Indeed, I want all the tough enforcement policies that Kyl’s plan would bring to help identify incarcerated illegal aliens, detain criminal aliens, and even create a national database of those overstaying their visas.  But where the good Senator departs from me and the majority of US citizens is in granting a free-ride amnesty in the process.  And, of course, his column carefully stays completely away from that little issue.

An October 1 court date has been set by San Francisco’s US District Judge Maxine Chesney to hear arguments on whether the Social Security Administration can begin sending employers those no-match letters regarding their employees.  The letters were slated to begin mailing out on September 14 before Judge Chesney granted a temporary restraining order to the AFL-CIO and several immigrant rights groups.  Having given the matter some thought, I find this restraining order good news actually.  How in the world can the no-match letters be guaranteed as accurate, when the database from which they would be generated is so flawed?  Chock another one up to a politically-obsessed and inept federal government, that allowed the SSA to degenerate into its present quagmire. Meanwhile, the SSA is warning that Judge Chesney’s blockade will effectively delay the processing of millions of disability and retirement claims and payments because of processing logjams created by delays in sending out those no-match letters.

In Sacramento County, California, the Sheriff wants to hire 21 more deputies to help with county crime.  The District Attorney would like to increase his staff at the county’s crime lab that is overwhelmed.  As the county begins to battle out a new budget, Sacramento County Supervisor Roberta MacGlashan has said she can save millions if the county stops providing free healthcare to illegal aliens.  In this fiscal year alone, the county will provide routine and acute care to somewhere between 2,400 and 4,000 illegal aliens at a cost of between $1.4 Million and $2.3 Million.  It’s a thought that will probably die pretty quickly, since yanking funding for healthcare to illegals there would further overwhelm emergency rooms and lead to more serious, more expensive illnesses in the illegal alien community.

In a report sanctioned by San Diego County in California, taxpayers footed an estimated bill of $256 Million during 2006 for their illegal alien population.  The figure includes $155 in free medical care and $75 Million to pay for incarcerations and court costs in the county that borders Mexico.

Muy Estúpido

A boat load of illegal aliens ran aground on a rocky reef near La Jolla, California.  When the boat hit, at least ten illegal aliens scattered to the four winds and may have escaped.  The abandoned boat finally reached the beach, where authorities recovered lifejackets, fuel tanks filled with gasoline and water bottles with Hispanic logos.  The unregistered 20-foot vessel is “a likely smuggling boat,” authorities said.

Centro Legal, an Hispanic immigration rights advocacy group, has filed suit in Minneapolis, Minnesota on behalf of ten illegal aliens nabbed in that large raid of the Swift & Co. meatpacking plant in Worthington that netted 200 illegals.  The suit claims federal agents “insulted, abused, and humiliated the plaintiffs on account of their race” and ordered female Hispanic workers to disrobe in front of federal agents. White workers, meanwhile, were allowed to move about the plant freely during the raid and weren’t subject to unlawful conduct on the part of agents, according to the lawsuit.  The Feds say the claims are false.

Muy Buenos!

North Carolina will begin deporting their prison inmates across the state when their crimes are adjudicated.  Since July, when the measure went into effect, 125 illegal alien criminals have been slated for eventual deportation.

Mr. Michael Chertoff has declared before a House panel that he will “not tolerate interference” by “sanctuary cities” in the US over his application (at last) of federal immigration laws, specifically those requiring proof of citizenship before hiring an employee.”  Regarding recent blocks in California of checking residency against Social Security numbers, Chertoff said [the Dept. of Homeland Security] is exploring all of its legal options.  “I intend to take as vigorous legal action as the law allows to prevent that from happening, prevent that kind of interference.”  Of course, Chertoff has certainly not threatened to halt federal funding to those sanctuary cities….  Typical.

Hmmm…

City officials in Herndon, Virginia have decided to close a day laborer site, due to the site’s and city’s inability to verify legal citizenship of those arriving there daily to seek employment off the streets.  In 2005, Herndon banned day laborers and motorists seeking to employ them from meeting on the streets, a matter that had created huge chaos in the city.  By banning the solicitations, which the courts view as a First Amendment right of free speech of the workers and those wanting to hire them, Herndon created the day laborer site to provide an alternative means, a court requirement. Ultimately, Fairfax County Circuit Court Judge Leslie Alden held the site fell short of providing alternative means of seeking employment to illegal aliens, who she feels are also entitled to constitutional rights of free speech.  So the city found itself in a catch-22.  Having logged several ordinances cracking down on illegal aliens, they found themselves incapable of preventing illegal aliens from being hired through the site that they would now have to manage.  Instead, they opted to close the center and hope to utilize zoning and traffic ordinances to prevent day laborer gathering sites from popping up in the city henceforward.  It’s a mess.

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POSTLUDE: This is a recurring weekly compendium of acts and issues inherent to the matters surrounding illegal immigration in the United States.  Quite simply, the following are items of interest to me and which I feel merit further perusal by American citizens.  For the record, clearly know and understand that I am NOT anti-Hispanic or anti-immigration, but am sick, tired and damned well highly frustrated at our elected officials in Washington who are selling our nation’s future for personal gain and a hopeful new future voter base.  Despite laws enacted and funding remitted, practically NOTHING has been done to seal our wide open borders to the South AND to the North, nor has anything yet been done to end the menace and financial drain of continuing illegal immigration into our sovereign nation.

This Summer, unprecedented numbers of American citizens made their voices clearly heard in opposition of the proposed 2007 Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act and, as the result, the bill died a horrible death.  Americans do not want amnesty handed to some near 20 million illegal alien criminals, who broke the law being here in the first place.  We demanded the government fulfill its promises and laws and BUILD THAT FENCE, which they have not.  We demanded the government fulfill its promises and laws and end illegal immigration and punish those who would hinder those measures, which it has only just now decided selectively to do.  Will employers be forced to end illegal hiring practices of undocumented workers?  Will the overwhelming disaster to our nation’s crops, restaurants, hotels and lawn services come to pass?  Will Americans face huge escalation in prices as a result of pulling a false economy into the light of legality?  Will Americans tire of the struggle and forget why we were enraged by amnesty and free rides to illegal aliens in the first place?

This weekly entry is my attempt to see that the latter won’t happen.

Obey our laws and we will embrace you.  Defy our laws and you can go to Hell.

Scientists Find Virus at Heart of Missing Honey Bees

Remember awakening after Winter to find nearly half of the honey bees in the United States had simply vanished?

Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), limited primarily to commercial genetically-enhanced bees, practically decimated the pollination industry here and in Europe, and left scientists completely baffled…until this week.

For the last six months, a huge team of scientists and researchers have been conducting one of the largest-scale investigations ever seen.  Their result was the identification of a significant connection between an obscure insect virus and the massive CCD experienced across the U.S.

Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus (IAPV) was first identified in Israel in 2004 after massive numbers of their own honey bees began to disappear.  Also in 2004, the United States lifted an 80-year-old ban on importing bees designed to protect US honey makers from pests that plague the insects, and began importing honey bees from Australia.

Every CCD-affected beekeeping operation that was examined [in the US recently] either used Australian bees or had mingled with operations that had them, the researchers said.

Not only did the Australian Honey Bee Industry Council unequivocally deny U.S. bees had been infected by Australian insects, but it is very important to acknowledge Australia has not experienced widespread colony collapses in their homeland.

Therefore, while scientists firmly agree the common denominator and likely trigger in U.S. bee hive decimations is IAPV, they firmly believe other factors are at play, such as predatorial mites, stress from being carted across the country, and pesticides.

Additionally, IAPV was discovered by scientists in royal jelly used to feed infant bees imported from China. 

The advice to U.S. beekeepers is to “maintain healthy colonies.”  Those bees that are well-fed, without mites, and protected from stress have immune systems capable of fighting off this virus.

So now we have a good idea of what happened to the bees and we have further reiterated the perils of trucking colonies from one field to another, states apart.  Moreover, we have underscored at least a dozen times in this matter what happens when you test Mother Nature.

Rebuilding our nation’s honey bee populations will take years.  And, on a pleasant note, those very Moms and Pops who have managed to survive the vast commercialization of the pollination industry are reaping the benefits of so many more enlightened consumers Hell-bent on buying local honey.  Allow me to recommend my FAVORITE in the Dallas area, a frequent vendor at the Dallas Farmers’ Market local produce building:  Roundrock Honey!  I kid you not, this honey has the BEST flavor I have EVER tasted.  And I certainly have tasted much more than my weight from honeys literally from across the U.S. and Europe.

Good news ofttimes comes in small doses.

Science Daily has all the details for those scientifically minded folks.

Is America Prepared for Disaster? Are You?

Boys and girls, I’ll warn you now:  this is a LONG missive and best read with a few drams of some good single malt scotch in hand.  The question that I would ask all of you to ask yourselves is this:  Who is responsible for your family’s safety in a time of crisis?  The government?  Or does your sincere and actual survivability in any given critical situation ultimately rest in your own hands?

For the last couple of months, I’ve been thinking a lot about what would happen, how life as we know it would be compromised when America is faced with another large-scale disaster.  Just what in our national disaster preparedness has improved since September 11th and Katrina?   And, more importantly, just how prepared are we to deal with various crises in the time it would take our government to resolve them and return order amidst the chaos?

Let us presume Rosie O’Donnell is right and those radical Jihadists are actually really wonderful people, family-oriented, and bereft of any hatred toward America.  Let’s presume that terrorism will never against strike this land, despite threats released this week vowing “you and your people will- Allah willing- experience things which will make you forget all about the horrors of September 11th, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Virginia Tech.”

Let us presume that we will never again experience the week-long grounding of air flights in the US, moreover the absolute chaos (however exceptionally well handled by NYC and the Pentagon) in thousands and thousands of people walking out of Manhattan to safety, those stranded for many, many hours waiting to cross into Jersey home turf by ferry, the massive enduring power outages, and the long weeks before “normalcy” was even envisioned on the horizon to everyday life across the Northeast.

Actually, can we ever be “normal” after September 11th?  I don’t think so.  But it sure stuns me to read of and even talk to people who seem to have forgotten its incredible impact upon those who survived.

Let us also presume that the newest form of warfare, called “cyber terrorism,” can’t happen to the US as is happening right now in Estonia.  Right now, their entire Internet system is overwhelmed by an avalanche of spam that has totally disabled their exclusively online government (that means banking, government operations, no emails to Mom, etc.).  Estonia says the attacks began after they moved a Soviet war memorial that the Kremlin condemned them for doing.   Even NATO has sent a cyber terrorism expert to help them end the barrage, but doubts the villains will be uncovered since cyber attacks are virtually untraceable. 

Hmmm…  Heaven knows we’ve seen a LOT of instances where spam and trojans have crashed vital computer networks in this country in the last decade.  Russia was even blamed for a couple and are renown for having a large community of hackers and virus writers, yet they are in very good company with hackers and virus writers worldwide, especially in Asia.  Could it happen again in the US?  Could it happen on an even larger scale than before?  Could this be one of the options Little Johnny Jihad has in mind?

We face more than terrorism attacks as American citizens.

Natural disasters with large human casualties are not a question of “if,” but “when.”  Our country’s history is full of them, as related in this incomplete listing on Wikipedia.  Earthquakes in abundance in California and hurricanes like Camille, Andrew and Katrina are but a few and frequent.

Geologists know it’s just a matter of time before another 9.0 earthquake hits somewhere between California and Canada.  While the shaking would be catastrophic around its epicenter (or hypocenter), it’s biggest threat to human survival would be from the tsunami that would come from the coastal fault line that is seismically identical to the one in Indonesia that killed 200,000 people on December 26, 2004.  Remind yourself about the devastation that impacted more than a million people and that took months and months to return even a shred of normalcy to their region.  Doctors Without Borders mobilized large teams of healthcare workers from across the globe and arrived in Banda Aceh, Indonesia two days after the massive earthquake there and to help tsunami victims in Sri Lanka and the Maldives.  They have maintained an historical account of all of their updates from the time of their arrival to date and I encourage you to read liberally and remind yourself of the devastation and ensuing disease outbreaks when there was no food and no water for weeks amidst decaying bodies both human and animal.

What if a similar tsunami hit Los Angeles or San Francisco?  How long would it take to evacuate a couple of million or more people who speak 100 different languages?  This area, with its extreme seismic volatility, is one of the mostly densely populated regions in our country.  The New York times speculated on this very subject after public chaos during Hurricane Rita and Katrina that made a mockery of evacuation plans in New Orleans and South Texas that had people stuck in unprecedented traffic jams on escape highways and interstates so long their cars ran completely out of gas.

Just how better prepared are our cities in a post-911 and post-Katrina world to handle mass evacuations and tend to their residents in the midst of and after a crisis?  How long does it take to evacuate each of the many vulnerable cities countrywide that have exploded in growth in the last decade?   Do the warning triggers provide enough time to escape?

Remember 1999’s Hurricane Floyd?  It tracked all the way to New York causing flooding of historic proportions all along its track, killing power for days to 400,000 people in North Carolina alone and contaminating every source of drinking water.  The flooding of the EDS Data Center in New Jersey brought ATMs to their nonfunctional knees all the way into South Florida and caused long outages at ATMs across the country. 

In the May 30 Washington Post, columnist Brian Jackson penned a eye-opening read examining if America is prepared for disaster after we taxpayers have remitted billions in funds since September 11th to make America more secure.  Just what improvements have been truly realized?  Mr. Jackson, by the way, is the Associate Director of the Homeland Security Research Program at the RAND Corporation, a nonprofit research organization that has been keeping track of such issues since around World War II.  I find his conclusions as to our state of national preparedness to be exceptionally bleak.

Wake up, folks.  Our own President dramatically revised existing Federal disaster response plans on May 9, 2007 in the National Security and Presidential Directive No. 51 that now gives his office the absolute authority to direct operations in the event of a national emergency.  In short, this directive shows that citizens had better be prepared to take care of themselves until the government brings things back under control…and that just might take a while.

We face more than terrorism attacks and natural disasters.  We face infectious disease outbreaks.

You’ve heard by now of the Atlanta, Georgia personal injury attorney infected with exceptionally drug-resistant Tuberculosis (XDR-TB), who didn’t want to miss his long-planned Greek wedding and honeymoon in Italy over a little ole epidemically potential disease and exposed about 900 people on TWO trans-Atlantic planes and their crews.  You might find that early account, while Andrew Speaker was still anonymous, to be interesting.  A lot of information has surfaced since, not the least of which has been the revelation of just how infectious this disease is, despite the initial downplay by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the gullible media.  Good grief:  we even now know Andrew Speaker’s brand new father-in-law is a microbiologist for the CDC and works prominently in its Tuberculosis Laboratory.

I know that Speaker did NOT contract tuberculosis from his father-in-law’s research.  How ridiculous!  Those labs are more secure than the Federal Reserve and lead the technological world in safety measures and precautions.  But I would sure like to know whether Dr. Cooksey knew himself of Speaker’s infection.  Don’t you think a leading microbiologist in the field of Tuberculosis research would place a few precautions in the marriage of his precious daughter to a man infected with XDR-TB?  And, at the very least, don’t you think he would do everything he could to prevent travel, knowing more than anyone else the transmission dangers of same?

Trust me when I say the CDC and the media was initially playing down the danger this fellow placed his fellow travelers in and, in a few days, they will probably do the same to calm a disquieted public.  This man knew he was infectious and deliberately traveled internationally through five nations over a period of about two weeks.   Now you will soon see (or maybe it won’t be that visible) the CDC and the World Health Organization (WHO) going nuts trying to track down every single person on these flights for testing…and then trying to track down the other innocent folks who just happened to come in contact with each of them.  This man has caused huge problems for several nations and the medical undertaking to try and contain these exposures will be equally huge. 

By the way, you and I and those folks from France, Greece, Italy, Czechoslovakia and Canada will be paying the bill for much of this man’s unbelievable arrogance.  Talk about your personal injuries!

TB is very virulent and saying this man “was not highly infectious” is an oxymoron and a talking point diluted to prevent hysteria in the public.  TB is extremely infectious and the number one killer worldwide.  Period.  And it can take up to two months after exposure before a person will test positive on a PPD.  In the interim, prior to onset of symptoms, said positive person can be very infectious.  On one day, their sputum tests will show little, if any bacterium, while the next day the bacterium counts are off the charts. 

So, you can see that this is an exposure of potential epidemic proportions and will increase exponentially because no one is going to quarantine everyone on these two planes for the next couple of months before their resistance to TB is conclusively determined.  Fortunately, only about 10% of people exposed to TB develop the disease.  That’s the general statistic you’ll hear cited often now.  The reality of just how many people on these two flights come down with TB will be determined by their own personal level of health, any immune deficiencies they may have and certainly their age — children under 10 and adults over 60 are especially vulnerable.  So are diabetics.  The most vulnerable of all are AIDS patients.

This story absolutely underscores how vulnerable we humans are from a medical standpoint, and certainly as a world from a security standpoint.  When the CDC and WHO finally caught up with this man ten days after his arrival in Europe and traipsing across several countries to (finally) Italy and he faced mandated quarantine there, he and his bride skipped town as quickly as their feet would carry them, boarded a Czech plane in Prague, flew to Montreal, Canada and re-entered the US by car…to EVADE capture by those who would prevent his infecting others.  Regardless that his passport was flagged as a “No-Fly,” he skated right through every checkpoint along the way unimpeded.  Here’s a little light reading on the matter from the International Society for Infectious Diseases relating a lot of information on this fellow and his XDR-TB.

Here was a fellow clearly identified with an extremely dangerous and infectious disease by the CDC, who alerted Homeland Security, who alerted US Customs and beyond and no one during his entire European Vacation stopped him once.  Not the border crossings, not Customs, not the airlines.  In fact, when Mr. and Mrs. Speaker re-entered the US in Champlain, NY, the scan of his passport triggered an alarm and clearly revealed to the customs agents that he was highly contagious, to approach him with masks and to DETAIN him until the CDC could arrive.  Believe it or not, the customs agent claims he thought this warning was “discretionary” and, since Speaker didn’t look sick, the agent let them go right through into the US.  They were at the checkpoint for two whole minutes. Said customs agent is presently under administrative leave.  Wow.  My fiance’ wonders if Speaker didn’t have a $500 bill inside his passport when he presented it at the border.

Hopefully, this fellow’s story of amazing arrogance, selfishness and abject stupidity will gain enough air time to wake people up.  By the way, may it also awaken people’s naivete’ in presuming that Tuberculosis is under control.  It isn’t.  Not in the United States, and certainly not anywhere else in the world.

The “likelihood”, not “possibility” of a pandemic is hugely underplayed in our world, despite the myriad of diseases with pandemic potential given the amount of traveling we humans do across the globe.  But the greatest threat of all, from a pandemic stance, remains through a future mutation of influenza.  We’ve all heard of Avian Flu and the diligence required in watching this strain and potential mutations cannot be understated.  On May 29, 2007, the AP released a story about four human cases of bird-type flu discovered during the last week in Great Britain that has Pandemic potential, even though the cases are relatively mild.  Way back in 2005, the National Geographic wrote a piece entitled, World Unprepared for “Bird Flu” Pandemic” that is even more apropos today.

Last, but not least, our own food supply is constantly threatened and which I have written about here and here and even here.  But yesterday’s (May 30th) Wall Street Journal had a wee post on page A7 that had me spitting my coffee across the floor.  The headline reads, “Agriculture Department to Fight Ruling on Mad-Cow Testing.” 

WHAT??

To offer the Cliff Notes to this article not available beyond subscribers, a Kansas-based company called Creekstone Farms Premium Beef wants to test all of its cows for mad-cow disease so they can truly and safely (from litigation) advertise their beef as “safe.”  Well, the USDA filed suit on the basis that Creekstone could begin a movement toward wide-spread testing that could “lead to a false positive” in the results of said testing.  A federal judge ruled in March of this year that Creekstone could go ahead with their testing of every cow they slaughter for sale to US markets and commended them for their initiative.

But the Bush administration has now vowed to fight this ruling allowing meatpackers to test their cows.  Right now, the USDA tests fewer than 1% of slaughtered animals for mad-cow disease.  Larger meatpacking companies have been complaining and say if Creekstone tests its meat and advertises it as safe, they might be expected to perform the same wide-spread and expensive test, too. 

SHOOT ME NOW!  We have a US meat producer wanting to voluntarily test all of their meat for safety (sharp marketing idea that!), and has fought vigilantly and at great cost in our courts to be able to do so, but our own President is vowing to fight so they can’t??   Just so the other meat producers don’t have to follow suit to remain competitive??? 

What in the blithering Hades is going on?

Okay.  I think I’ve offered enough citations by now to show you some of what deeply concerns me.  Unfortunately (for me especially, pardon the selfishness), I don’t have any solutions to offer that would prevent any of these scenarios from occurring, but I do have a few plans to try and minimize the vulnerability of my own family.  (I’ll get to that in another hour or two…)

Unfortunately, my neighbors haven’t awakened to their own vulnerabilities yet…

We live in a very narcissistic and laissez-faire world.  Most Americans in my neck of the woods live hand-to-mouth, mortgaged up to their receding hairlines, but possessing the latest and greatest of cell phones, wireless home networks, Le Cuisine cookware, Lexicon receivers and Monster Power Conditioners driving their large-screen LCD TVs and home theater systems, and the wives all carry Gucci and Dooney-Bourke purses.  Their daughters wear Prada.  They grow their credit card debts while racking up miles on American Airlines with every purchase, regularly have their dentists bleach their teeth and wouldn’t dream of missing a Botox party.  They’re driving our economy and I say more power to them.

But when the next “not if, but when” strikes, they’re screwed.

These folks don’t even know what Civil Defense Sirens Testing is all about.  Last month, when 80+mph winds and storms hit the Dallas metroplex one evening, the sirens went off and people were “confused” by what the sirens mean. I presume they, like me, hear these sirens being tested at Noon on the first Wednesday of each and every month, but they don’t pay attention.  So, when the sirens wail to alert folks to impending tornadoes and the like, people are “confused.”   I kid you not.   What idiots.

So I have reasonable doubts they they will have cash, flashlights or even food to last them a few days when the lights go out the next time and the ATMs close for business.

If there is any resounding lesson for individuals to learn from Hurricane Katrina — irrespective of the ad nauseam politics — is that people should not, cannot depend upon the government to immediately bail them out and make everything better.  Heck, New Orleans became a model for looting and thuggery for weeks after the city flooded and what few police remained were powerless to defend the residents, moreover the businesses that suffered huge theft losses.  The logistics are simply too great to prevent suffering.  There are some things you just have to take care of yourself.

We can’t escape the world we live in or the Earth we live upon.  Most people in America have been very fortunate in not having to live through earthquakes, tornadoes, terrorist attacks or disease outbreaks, instead being able to watch vicariously through media coverage of same.  That doesn’t mean, however, that disasters — both large and small — couldn’t happen to any one of us at any given time. 

There are so many things over which we have no control.  On those, I leave in the hands of God.  But there are many quite simple actions we can take now to help ourselves later and ease, as much as possible, a burden to come.  Doing so doesn’t require breaking the bank either.

From a Murphy’s Law standpoint alone, the best insurance of all against being impacted by a disaster is simply to be as prepared as possible.

1.  Gather the family and designate a place to meet, should disaster strike while everyone is scattered to the four winds.    Every week, repeat the location and plan to each other, over and over, week after week, until it is completely ingrained.  Chances are, your cell phones won’t work if there are large electrical outages or floods.  (Remember Katrina?)

2.  Get a large gym bag and fill it with a good first aid kit, extra ACE bandages, rolls of gauze and Telfa pads, Neosporin, DEET, Advil, Rolaids, a weather/am/fm radio, a couple of flashlights, a battery cellphone charger, an ample supply of various batteries your devices require, a couple of blankets, a couple of rolls of toilet paper, a box of emergency candles, a box of kitchen matches, a bar of soap, toothpaste and toothbrushes, a couple of bottles of isopropyl alcohol, a small bottle of bleach, a can opener, a medium-sized plastic bowl, a Leatherman multi-tool, a camping shovel, a container of anti-bacterial wipes, some washcloths and/or hand towels, and a change of jeans, a shirt, socks and underwear.  Have this bag (including anything else your family must have) ready and maintained to use at any given moment.

3. Keep a good first aid kit, a blanket, a flashlight, a can of Fix-A-Flat, jumper cables, and some water in the trunk of your car at all times.

4.  Always keep a couple of cases of bottled water or several gallons of same on hand.  This is ALWAYS the first thing to sell out of and run out of when calamities occur.  Read more from the National Safety Federation on creating, keeping and storing safe drinking water during an emergency.

5.  Get yourself a basic camping propane stove with a few extra cans of propane.  Then you can cook to your heart’s content when the power is out.

6.  Keep extra canned foods on hand.  Buy just one extra can of chili, tuna, soups, vegetables, fruit, etc. each time you go to the grocery store and it won’t be long until you have a nice backup selection.  Also stock up on rice, dried beans, powdered milk and a container of Gatorade/Tang powder.  Keep the rice and beans in Tupperware.  All of these contained foods store long and can save your hide in extended power outages.  Read the USDA’s Food Safety Organization’s Fact Sheet on ensuring and keeping safe foods during an emergency.

7.  Keep some cash on hand.  Store the cash in a home safe, suture it up in a mattress, bury it in a tin beneath the dog bowl, whatever.  But have a couple of hundred or so readily available.  You’ll be glad you did.

8.  Go buy yourself a couple of 5-gallon gas cans right now when the prices are low and availability high.  Then, when you need to, you can fill them up when you fill up your car the next time something happens.

There are a lot of folks out there with additional ideas and a ton of knowledge they could share on the subject of preparedness, and I dearly hope they will here.

I have no qualms admitting that I have always taken anal retentiveness to an unusual level.  As I’ve written before, I have no confidence in the safety of our global food supply found commonly in our neighborhood groceries.  I’m not about to boycott or even do without, but I am trying to be as smart as possible over the foods we eat.  And when I find a means of controlling the quality and purity of my foods…well, I tend to go overboard.

So, right now I am canning my little heart out, as I love to do each Spring through Fall.  Jams and jellies are set aside.  Even homemade peach hooch is under brew.  I will continue to search out truly local sources of vegetables and fruits that will be canned or frozen for use in the winter.  I’ll be using my own canned whole tomatoes and tomato sauces during the cold days ahead and enjoying my own canned or frozen peas, beans, brussels sprouts, corn and a wealth of homemade pickles and relishes.  I will also share a few of them this Christmas in gift baskets.

If that isn’t anal enough, I’ve now set my sites on a nearby grass-only-fed dairy farm that is a certified provider of raw milk.  From that I will make my own butter (which freezes very well) and my own cheeses, that I hope will be tasty.  I’ll let you know how the cheese thing works out…very iffie thing that.

If only I had my own farm…  Of course, then I would learn the hard way just how hard maintaining one really is.  Something tells me milking a goat is about as difficult and dangerous as kayaking in Class III water.

Get prepared, folks, while doing so is cheap and easy.  May you not find out personally that most people won’t.

An Irony of Epidemic Proportions

Finally, my preaching to the fiance’ all day and night yesterday about the huge medical implications of this Atlanta fellow traipsing all over Europe with extremely drug-resistant Tuberculosis has been underscored by today’s proper fury in the media.

The amazing irony is that this fellow, the first person quarantined in the US under these circumstances in 44 years and who has contaminated many hundreds of people on two continents, is a 31-year-old personal injury attorney.  Wow.

That’s handy, since he probably faces a large number of personal injury lawsuits to come internationally, as well as domestically, when some of the 1,500 or so folks he has personally potentially infected finally test positive in a few months.  Heck, I doubt they wait that long.  Of course, if he is worth his weight in salt as an attorney, his assets are well shielded and his judgement exposure would be low. 

Since you can’t sue the Federal Government, the CDC, Homeland Security, the TSA are all safe, regardless of whether they bungled this case or not. 

But the airlines…  If they failed to restrict this fellow from travel and possessed the No-Fly lists with his name on it, ouch.  I’m sure we’ll see suits filed regardless.

What I don’t know (yet) and am curious about is whether there are international laws governing travel with known infectious diseases.  The US can restrict people entering our country if they are known to be diseased or if they haven’t received certain immunizations and the like.  I’m betting some, if not all of the affected sovereignties have similar regulations.

Another irony is that all of the people on these two trans-Atlantic flights that can be found are being contacted right now by other personal injury attorneys and being informed of their legal options now and in the future.

Allow me to introduce you to Mr. Andrew Harley Speaker, duly licensed to practice law in the State of Georgia on October 27, 2004.   He joined his father, Theodore A. Speaker, Esq. in his personal injury and family law firm soon after receiving his juris doctorate from the University of Georgia, and after a very brief stint as an assistant district attorney in Fulton County.

 Here is his bio on the website for The Speaker Law Firm in Atlanta (currently besieged with unprecedented web hits…):

Andrew Speaker is a licensed member of the State Bar of Georgia. He attended the United States Naval Academy and went on to receive his undergraduate degree in Finance from the University of Georgia as well as his law degree from the University of Georgia School of Law. After working with the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office and the Oconee County District Attorney’s office, he chose to go into private practice so that he could represent injured people in personal injury cases. He concentrates his practice in personal injury litigation and family law.

Special Recognition
• Shepherd Spinal Center Junior Committee Volunteer of the Year Award – 2001
• American Bar Association National Criminal Mock Trial Champion – 2003
• American Trial Lawyers Association Regional Finalist – 2003 Inn Of Court Representative for University Of Georgia School Of Law
• American Trial Lawyers Association Nominee for University of Georgia Law
• University of Georgia Mock Trial Competition Finalist

Speaker’s bride, by the way, is Sarah Spence Cooksey, the daughter of Dr. and Mrs. Robert C. Cooksey of Roswell, GA.  Here is their Engagement Announcement from April 24, 2007 that mentions their upcoming May wedding in Santorini, Greece and European honeymoon. 

The irony in this story only grows greater!  Dr. Robert C. Cooksey is a microbiologist who works with Dr. Moises Hernandez, et al, in the Tuberculosis Laboratory at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, GA.  No kidding.  He wrote this paper on Microbacterium cosmeticum sp. in the International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology, if you care to meet some heavy, but quick reading.  

Wow.  Double-Barreled Wow!  Gee, I wonder if he knew about this young man’s disease? 

When this story of this couple’s trans-Atlantic exposures first broke yesterday, the then anonymous traveler, who described himself as an educated man, claimed that his physicians never told him he couldn’t travel with his disease.  And that is when I started preaching to the fiance’ that there’s something very, very wrong there.  I knew that couldn’t be the case.  Based upon my medical experience and knowledge of TB cases as a nurse, anyone diagnosed with tuberculosis, moreover its extremely virulent and deadly mutant child XDR-TB, has been clearly briefed with very specific cautions, precautions and basic rules of living henceforward, however latent their disease may be.

Today’s story from The Atlanta Journal Constitution relates Speaker’s initial downplaying of the instructions given him by physicians, as well as offering statements suggesting he bloody-well KNEW not to travel, but did it anyway so they could have that Greek wedding and honeymoon tour of Italy they’d been planning and had paid for.

Think that deliberacy, that choice (if proven) that was made to ignore medical advice and international law will go unnoticed or unpunished?  One of two scenarios must be true:  either Sparks intentionally ignored medical advice, or his doctors are guilty of malpractice in not clearly stating the precautions he must take to protect others.

If this young attorney hasn’t single-handedly begun an epidemic, only God can be thanked for His grace.

Tuberculosis is the leading cause of death in the world, especially among third world countries, infecting more than 9,000,000 annually, of whom more than 2,000,000 die each year.  Of those 2,000,000 annual deaths are 100,000 children.  We have witnessed a tremendous decline in this disease in the US over the last 50 years with our modern, clean living, great healthcare and immunization requirements. 

The CDC has stringent requirements for physicians and hospitals and health departments to report any and all cases they diagnose and/or treat.  In 2005, there were less than 14,000 cases in total.  Of those, 6,376 cases were reported in people who were born in the US.  A larger number of  7,656 TB cases were reported in people born outside of the US and more than half (56%) of these foreign-born cases were reported in persons from Mexico (1,930), the Philippines (826), Vietnam (526), India (563) and China (389)  See the entire statistics from the CDC in their annual report on the Trends in Tuberculosis – United States, 2005 

In the United States, in my personal and limited experience, Tuberculosis pops up most typically in our public schools and is usually in high schools at that.  A Fort Worth suburb is testing 500 students and teachers at Bowie High School right now, who were exposed “earlier in the month.”  

Since the incidence rate of tuberculosis is relatively very low, tests are not required by law for school children.  Only if there has been an exposure or fear of one are children administered tuberculosis testing.  However, before just about every college in the land will let you in their doors, students must have a PPD test using the Mantoux technique.   As for adults, every one must have tuberculosis tests ever ten years if they are county, state or federal employees, work anywhere in healthcare, daycare, elderly care, food preparation and many other industries.

While, by generalized medical statistics in the US, only 10% of those exposed to latent or active TB carriers actually develop the disease, reality screams that the incidence of contraction depends upon an individual’s age and personal health.  Young to middle-aged adults who are healthy and have no underlying medical conditions are relatively safe, while the very young and the very old, as well as anyone with any of a myriad of immune deficiencies (like diabetes, for example) are at exceptional risk.  People with HIV/AIDS tend to develop the disease through the normal course of HIV/AIDS.  They are the most vulnerable of all. 

Everything you wish to know about the clinical aspects of Tuberculosis can be found here at the CDC’s FAQs on TB. 

Read and learn well.  This non-clinical made-for-the-public text will tell you the disease is transmitted by coughing or sneezing.  That’s very true.  But the clinical reality is that talking also transmits the disease, which is an airborne virus that resides in the respiratory tract.  Simply breathing out is a potential transmission, hence the required use of specialized filtration masks by patient and healthcare workers alike.

But Mr. Speaker doesn’t have regular tuberculosis.  He has XDR-TB, which is much worse and an emerging mutation of TB worldwide.  Of the precious few drugs effective at all against tuberculosis, his type is resistant to nearly every one.  A medically renown group called Doctors Without Borders has been treating folks all over this world for decades for a myriad of infectious diseases and know tuberculosis intimately.  Please read Don’t Tell Me TB Is Under Control, because folks it is absolutely not. Not even here.

I have three questions I want answered:  When exactly and where was Mr. Speaker exposed to XDR-TB?  When was he diagnosed with XDR-TB?  And where has he been, who has been exposed in the interim and since?  I’m guessing the CDC and the governments of France, Greece, Italy, Czechoslovakia and Canada are wondering the same.

I feel sorry for this young couple.  Not a way in which anyone would see a marriage begin.  Mr. Speaker’s prognosis is dark and arduous over the next many, many months, if not a few years…if he survives, and precious few with this disease do.  And certainly no one has had the level of exposure to his disease as his bride.

I feel more sorry for all of those trusting and innocent folks exposed between Atlanta, Paris, Greece, Italy, Prague and Montreal — and many will never be discovered — who will not be able to be officially ruled as negative for the disease for several months.  And those who are found positive will face the same exhausting and debilitating treatments that are Mr. Speaker’s current worries.  The very mildest cases that develop will spend the remainder of their lives on medication and they’re to be the lucky ones.

Indeed, being a personal injury attorney is, to me, an irony of epidemic proportions.  I doubt even Tom Clancey would have conceived of this scenario.

We should all pray for this young man, his family and absolutely for the hundreds, if not ultimately thousands of people potentially impacted by their amazing arrogance and selfishness. 

I hope they enjoyed a beautiful wedding and honeymoon.  I hope the unmarried folks they exposed along the way will have that same opportunity.

You can expect to hear a TON more about this case in the days ahead.