WASHINGTON, DC, February 2, 2000 (ENS)

A broad coalition of citizens groups from around the country has filed suit in Federal District Court in Washington, D.C., to force the United States Air Force to reevaluate its flight training program. The groups, led by the Rural Alliance for Military Accountability and the Center for Biological Diversity, say low level military training flights harm wildlife, livestock and rural comm

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AMSTERDAM, Netherlands, February 3, 2000 (ENS)

A letter from the U.S. State Department to the European Union reveals that the United States is demanding that the European Union drop its current commitment to eliminate some of the world's most toxic chemicals.

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SOURCES (tm) - Issue #138
The Security Intelligence News Service
Today's Intelligence -- Tomorrow's Headlines
February 7, 2000
D.A. Henderson, the director of the John Hopkins Center for Civilian Biodefense Studies, explained last week at a symposium on biological terrorism that the U.S. is likely to endure a small pox or anthrax terrorist attack in the next five to10 years. Henderson explained that while a long way to go remains in preparing for such an event, much more is being done that a year ago.
The biological terrorism conference gathered more than 300 doctors, scientists and public officials to discuss potential responses to biological warfare.
A bioterrorist attack against the U.S. is likely within the next decade Henderson said, explaining that rogue governments and various terrorist groups have already stockpiled numerous biological agents. Other fringe groups have already conducted bioterrorist attacks, including the sarin nerve gas attack in Tokyo which killed 12.
Henderson emphasized that in a bioterrorist attack, the signs of
violence may take days or weeks to surface. Over that span, symptoms that have been caused by the biological agent could be misdiagnosed as the flu, or another common ailment. The misdiagnosis could allow the released disease to grow to epidemic proportions.
A small pox vaccine has not been offered in the U.S. since the 1970s, and there is only enough vaccine left to inoculate 7.5 million people, according to Henderson. He continued saying that an Anthrax vaccine is still five years away from development.

From Liberty Study Committee -- February 9, 2000
Dear friend of liberty,
Your private medical records and those of your children will
soon be an open file - without your consent or knowledge! This
is no joke.
"An unconstitutional and dangerous rulemaking procedure by the
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is underway and
greatly threatens the health care privacy and freedom of
Americans," Congressman Ron Paul (a practicing physician
himself) stated recently.
The mainstream media have been touting the medical privacy
regulations proposed by the Department of Health and Human
Services (HHS), but what they have not told you is that under
the proposed regulations the following people and organizations
(to name a few) will have access to your medical records and
those of your children without your consent or knowledge:
1. law enforcement officials (no warrant needed)
2. medical researchers and students
3. governments agents
4. banks in order to process health care payments and premiums
5. government health data systems.
"The proposed regulations do not guarantee true protection of
medical privacy. In fact, they are the first step toward
creating a centralized database for electronic medical records,"
according to a special report published by Institute for Health
HHS will accept comments from the public about their proposed
rules until February 17, 2000. Please help stop this
unbelievable yet true plan of our national government.
Every American needs to know what you now know. Please help
with this nationwide, grassroots effort. Go to
http://www.StopBigBrother.org today.
Government officials and bureaucrats, regardless of nation or
time in history, work to increase their power when the populace
is complacent during times of prosperity or humble during times
of adversity.
Please don't be complacent. Go to http://www.StopBigBrother.org now. Please forward this message to family and friends.
Kent Snyder
Executive Director

The sun is smoking, literally, SMOKE RINGS! Been up all night watching in amazement. All indices are going wild: proton storm, K-index magnetic storm, electron storm, awesome CMEs and flares ongoing. The magnetometer is dipping well below scale indicating a compressed magnetic field around earth. Never seen the HAARP magnetometer so extreme. This is it, the beginning of the Cycle 23 magna-storms. See for yourself these incredible events!
Strong Geomagnetic Storm In Progress...02/12/00
A strong geomagnetic storm is in progress. The G3 storm conditions commenced following the detection of a shock at the Earth's magnetic field at 11Feb/2353Z. It is likely that this geomagnetic storm originated from a solar flare and associated coronal mass ejection that occurred on 9 Feb at around 2000Z. This level of disturbance routinely causes power grid fluctuations, increased atmospheric drag and surface charging on satellites. Intermittent navigation system problems, signal fade of high-frequency (3-30 MHz) radio signals and auroral displays at mid-latitudes are also possible. Numerous auroral sightings have already been reported in New England.

Date: Wed, 16 Feb 2000 22:45:04 -0500 (EST)
From: ProMED-mail <promed@promed.isid.harvard.edu>
Source: World Reporter

After anthrax, now brucellosis
BANDUNG: Still reeling from the recent outbreak of anthrax in Purwakarta, the West Java administration is now on the alert after receiving reports of a possible outbreak of another animal disease, brucellosis.
The dangerous disease, caused by the _Brucella abortus_ bacteria, affects pregnant cows, especially dairy cows, and causes stillbirths and premature births. The head of the administration's animal husbandry office, Tatang Henandar, said on Friday the disease was first detected in the province in the middle of last year and has killed a total of 40 cows in Depok, Bogor, Pangalengan and Sukabumi. "(But) Brucellosis has yet to become an epidemic," he claimed.
The immediate effect to farmers is infected cows produce less milk. "If milk production drops by 9 liters per farmer a day, while the price of fresh milk is now between Rp 1200 and Rp 1500 per liter, you can imagine the financial losses," said Tatang.
There are some 60 000 diary cows in West Java, supplying 36.69 percent of the national demand for fresh milk.
Tatang said brucellosis is as not lethal as anthrax as the meat of infected cows can still be consumed.
"The disease could also strike pregnant woman. And premature babies are very possible because of it. However such cases have yet to be found so far."
[Although brucellosis can cause abortion storms, I have never heard of _Brucella abortus_ killing an adult cow. However, it appears that something is affecting 4 separate areas of West Java. This disease is a significant zoonotic risk to humans of all ages, not just babies and pregnant women. Brucellosis infection is spread to humans through contact with the aborted tissues and through unpasteurized milk. I would hope we will get more details about this outbreak.This may be brucellosis, but I suspect a different problem. - Mod.TG]


The Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC), in a cooperative effort with the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture's (USDA) Veterinary Services, is offering to test goats free in selected counties to find out if the animals are carrying a disease that can cause serious illness in humans.
"Just weeks ago in Starr County, we found a sheep and goat herd infected with _Brucella melitensis_, a bacterial disease not seen in the US in nearly 30 years," said Dr. James Lenarduzzi, director of the TAHC's South Texas area. "It's very important to human health that we learn if other herds could be carrying the disease."
"The infected animals can be dangerous because they can spread the disease, which in humans, is called 'Malta Fever,' or 'undulant fever.' Victims develop flu-like symptoms, night sweats, aches, pains, headache and a fever that comes and goes. Anyone who may have been associated with infected goats or goat products and is suffering these symptoms should see a doctor and report possible exposure to the disease. Antibiotics are needed for treatment to avoid serious complications," he said.
"Because the disease in Mexico is widespread, we are targeting Texas counties where the risk is greatest. In l998, more than 6500 persons in Mexico suffered from undulant fever, with many cases caused by infected goats," said Dr. Lenarduzzi. "The Texas Department of Health said 16 Texas cases were reported in 1998; 14 of the patients had consumed dairy products from goats, and 9 of the group also had traveled internationally."
Until animals are tested, owners are advised to stop consuming
unpasteurized goat milk, unpasteurized cheese, or handling raw goat meat products. Cooked meat is safe to eat, as heat kills the _Brucella melitensis_ bacteria. Because infected nannies can spread infection when giving birth, ranchers should wear gloves when assisting pregnant goats.
When slaughtering untested goats, ranchers should wear a face mask, glasses and rubber gloves, to avoid breathing in or becoming exposed to bacteria that can become airborne during the slaughtering process. Clothing worn during the task should be laundered.
- --
Carla Everett
e-mail: ceverett@tahc.state.tx.us

By Martha Heil
WASHINGTON, DC, February 22, 2000 (ENS)

Atmospheric scientists are warning that accelerating global warming could produce an increase in the number and severity of hurricanes, tornadoes and other hazardous weather events. New weather modeling systems may be able to predict storms about 25 percent more accurately than programs now in use, helping to save property and lives. Other effects of climate change may be more difficult to resolve.

For full text and graphics visit:

Date: Tue, 22 Feb 2000 20:15:34 -0500 (EST)
From: ProMED-mail <promed@promed.isid.harvard.edu
Source: Times of India

The death of an elephant due to anthrax has sent the West Bengal forest department into an overdrive at the Jaldapara Wildlife Sanctuary in north Bengal. Hectic efforts are on to prevent spread of the disease.
"A male elephant was found dead due to anthrax at the Torsa block of the sanctuary on 27 Jan 2000. We swung into action immediately, cordoning off the area, setting fire to it and dousing it with litres of disinfectants," Arin Ghosh, chief conservator of forests (wildlife wing), West Bengal, told [news reporters].
Even though forest department officials say the situation is now under control, they are on alert, keeping account of further casualties, if any. Ghosh said. "No more deaths have been reported," he added.
Initially, the forest department had considered inoculating the animals in the sanctuary. "But after an emergency meeting with wildlife experts, veterinarians and animal welfare officials, we decided not to go for the inoculation drive as the situation had not gone out of hand," Ghosh said.
Inoculation has to be done by darting the animals, which is costly, time consuming and dangerous. The vaccine contains live anthrax bacteria spores. [Usually Sterne vaccine, though the wording suggests they thought otherwise. - MHJ] If one misses the targeted animal, the spores spread out on the soil. "The spores are very stable in soil and can lie dormant for months, till they finds an appropriate host animal to multiply," a forest department officer said. Besides, anthrax contamination can kill human beings too, he added. [This suggests they were considering using a Pasteur-type vaccine with a very, very LARGE dart. Oh! - MHJ]
Cattle in villages surrounding the sanctuary have been inoculated with anthrax vaccine. A strict vigil is being maintained to prevent cows from entering the sanctuary from peripheral villages. Cows are carriers [sic] of the anthrax bacteria Bacillus anthracis, sources in the department said. [Carriers are unknown in anthrax, though latent infections are believed to occur. Very different epidemiologically. - MHJ]
The male elephant who died on January 27 had got infected from cattle during one of its raids into villages on the periphery of the park along Falakata. "Once infected, the bacteria multiplies in the host at a furious rate, leading to its death in 2 to 24 hours," Subrata Pal Chowdhury, technical officer of the department said. Profuse blood loss from all body orifices are tell-tale symptoms of the killer disease. [This suggests that the bovine anthrax vaccination and control programme was ineffectual in the area. And death is not that rapid. And "profuse blood loss" is only
characteristic of textbooks. Frequently, anthrax deaths occur without, which is why it gets missed. - MHJ]
"Jaldapara has around 60 Indian one-horned rhinos, the highest
concentration in the state, besides bisons and varieties of deer. Once anthrax assumes epidemic proportions, it can wipe out the entire herbivore population of the park in a matter of a few days," state director, World Wide Fund for Nature, India, Lt Col (retd) S. Banerjee said. Since most of these animals are endangered, the fear of losing even one of them, sent us into a flurry of activity, Ghosh pointed out.
In January 1994 too, three elephants died of anthrax at Jaldapara. In an inoculation drive, 24 rhinos were darted with the anthrax vaccine then. Only pregnant females and baby rhinos were exempted.
[This is an amazing cocktail of fact and fiction. Maybe someone can provide us with a more factual account. As elephants are not grazers but medium to high level browsers any possible infection must be either through consuming blow-fly contaminated leaves and such, or by tabanid flies. Elephant rabies has been known in this area since the Raj. Interesting that apparently cattle vaccination was only begun after the elephant died. This rather confirms information I have been getting from other parts of India that the government veterinary services do not regard this disease as important, even in areas where it is endemic or hyperendemic. - MHJ]

Date: Wed, 23 Feb 2000 23:09:46 -0500 (EST)
From: ProMED-mail <promed@promed.isid.harvard.edu>

A baffling disease causing elephants to lose control of their trunks, making it hard for them to eat and communicate, is probably caused by a toxic plant, a Swiss researcher said on Saturday.
He said a team of researchers was trying to home in on the source of "floppy trunk disease," [formerly called flaccid trunk syndrome] which has affected dozens of elephants, mostly males, in Zimbabwe and South Africa.
Biologists have feared pollution is to blame, but have been unable to find a direct cause. Kurt Hostettmann of Lausanne University in Switzerland said his group -- which usually searches for natural sources of new drugs -- believes a poisonous plant could be responsible and he has narrowed the list of potential culprits down to 2 or 3.
Floppy trunk disease, first reported in 1989 around Lake Kariba in Zimbabwe, starts at the tip of the trunk and moves up, eventually causing total paralysis. This is disaster for an elephant, which uses its trunk to eat, drink and communicate with other elephants.
"We have absolutely no idea how to treat them. That's why we have to find urgently the cause," Hostettmann told a news conference at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).
They have put radio collars on several of the elephants to track their movements. Some elephants have died, although a few have recovered, as well. Biologists know of about 40 affected animals in Zimbabwe and South Africa's Kruger Park.
Hostettmann said he thought a plant might be responsible when he saw some samples of brain taken from an elephant that died of floppy trunk disease. The damage to the nerve cells resembled that done by other neurotoxic plants.
He said the problem started as elephants began losing habitat and were forced into smaller areas that did not contain the plant varieties they were used to eating."They used to graze on many plants but now they graze on stuff they don't like," he said.
The plant theory could explain both why such a small area in Zimbabwe is affected and also why bull males seem to be the primary victims, Hostettmann said.
"The animals come down to drink water, and then the females and the young go back into the trees, where there is shelter," Hostettmann told reporters. There is also a wider variety of forage in the forests.
But the biggest, strongest bull elephants stay out in the open, where Hostettmann, an expert in the chemistry of plants, believes they are eating less-desirable vegetation and perhaps even alien species introduced from elsewhere.
- --
Debora MacKenzie
e-mail: d.mackenzie@chello.be

WASHINGTON, DC, February 24, 2000 (ENS)

Anyone looking for a magic bullet that will explain all the amphibian deaths and declines around the world is going to be disappointed, said researchers at a scientific meeting in Washington, DC this week.

For full text and graphics visit:

Date: Fri, 25 Feb 2000 20:42:39 -0500 (EST)
From: ProMED-mail <promed@promed.isid.harvard.edu>
ProMED-mail received two messages. The first was received indirectly and we did not post it because so little information was included and because even a possible diagnosis was unclear. In addition, we do not know who sent it. Now we have received a second message, this one via the BBC on-line news service. Both messages are posted, with some editing by the Moderator. - Mod.CHC]
I just got back from the Ministry of Health (now in the Gorgas Hospital complex), where they said that they still don't know the cause of the disease with pneumonia-like symptoms that has made nine people sick in or near Las Tablas. Three of these people have died, one is in critical condition and the others have fully recovered.
The Ministry of Health has called in experts from the US and Cuba to help diagnose the problem, and because they don't know the cause, in Los Santos they're waging war on rats, testing all water sources and spraying insecticide, and pleading with people to clean up their homes and surroundings.
We get to a tricky balance here---irresponsible rumors could ruin Carnival in Las Tablas, which would mean hunger and privation for some residents of that community and a big loss of foreign exchange income from tourists. On the other hand, it could be prudent to party elsewhere this year if they can't figure out the problem in the next week or so.
Source: BBC NEWS
Panamanian authorities have suspended the country's best known carnival celebrations amid fears of a health epidemic after a hantavirus spread by rats killed three people.
Every year thousands of Panamanians flock to the rural town of Las Tablas, 400 kilometres west of Panama City, to take part in the four-day carnival festivities.
But the authorities have declared a public health emergency in the region after the three deaths.
Officials say the movement of people to the festival would increase the risk of an epidemic, forcing them to order the suspension of this year's celebrations.
[We still do not know the method of diagnosis or the etiologic agent of this disease. If it is caused by a hantavirus we still do not know which hantavirus. People define "rat" differently in many parts of the world, so we do not know that the vector is a rat. Bottom line: we do not know very much about this experience. If anyone at CDC or in Cuba who might have access to data would send us a summary of those data, we would appreciate it. Could be leptospirosis, plague, or a number of other diseases, hence "suspected" in the header of this posting. - Mod.CHC]
Date: Sat, 26 Feb 2000 21:24:42 -0500 (EST)
Panama declared an epidemic alert and canceled traditional Lenten carnivals in a central province after [a] hantavirus killed three people. Six more people were hospitalized with the pneumonia-like effects of the virus in the central province of Los Santos, 150 miles west of Panama City, said Health Minister Jose Teran.
"This situation constitutes an extremely grave danger for the population of this province," Teran said late Thursday.
The Health Ministry said tests conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control confirmed that a total of nine people - five women and four men - had been infected with the virus. The biggest outbreak of the virus to date in Latin America occurred in Chile in 1997, killing 16 people.
Authorities said they believed the infection had been spread by rats or by field mice.
While the virus is not commonly spread by contact between humans, authorities canceled the planned March 4 carnival in Los Santos, which draws thousands of visitors to the region each year.
[The previous message posted by ProMED-mail indicated that the vector was "rats" but now that has been modified to read "rats or mice". In other words, rodents are the suspected vertebrate vector of whatever hantavirus is causing these few cases. A more recent report from El Panama America
indicates that two provinces have been declared "epidemic zone subject to sanitary control", all the territory of the provinces of Los Santos and Herrera. As a result, Carnival celebrations have been cancelled in both places.
Thus far, this can be only considered a large cluster of cases but the Panamanian Government's efforts to prevent more cases and clean up the environment are to be commended.
I am assuming that someone will tell us the etiologic agent soon after it is known to them. Meanwhile, we are like the proverbial mushroom. - Mod.CHC]

By Martha Heil
WASHINGTON, DC, February 24, 2000 (ENS)

Global warming will affect far more than the natural environment, climate experts said this weekend at a scientific meeting in Washington, DC. Public health, real estate, commerce and global environmental policy will all feel the heat over the next 100 years - making climate change an issue that affects everyone.
For full text and graphics visit:

February 25, 2000
SOURCES (tm) - Issue #151
The Security Intelligence News Service
Today's Intelligence -- Tomorrow's Headlines
Various Europeans spoke out Feb. 23 against the National Security Agency (NSA) with accusations that the highly secretive service has been eavesdropping on Europe's phone calls, emails and faxes. Critics allege that the NSA is using a computer network from the Cold War, code-named "Echelon," to tap into the daily lives of Europeans.
The allegations surfaced in French newspaper Le Monde Feb. 23, with the headline "How the United States Spies on You." On the same day in Britain, a committee of the European Parliament heard testimony from British journalist and physicist, Duncan Campbell. Both argued that the NSA is taking advantage of the internationally controlled Echelon, employing it to conduct economic espionage to benefit US corporations.
Campbell cited two examples in his testimony to support his allegations of economic espionage. He stated that in 1994, information received from Echelon allowed Boeing to beat out Airbus in a $6 billion dollar sale to Saudi Arabia. US officials reportedly told Saudi contacts that Airbus was offering bribes. In his other example, Campbell reportedly stated that Raytheon won a $1.4 billion deal with Brazil, beating out France's Thomson-CSF.
The NSA admits to using the system for national security issues.
Spokesmen from the agency deny that the system was ever used for economic gain, however, citing the unlawfulness of such action.
Independent experts support the NSA's statements, claiming that economic espionage is not worth the risk of disclosure it brings to the agency.
Echelon was designed in the mid-1970's as a method for surveillance on non-military targets such as terrorist groups and organized crime organizations. The system operates from bases in the US, Britain, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. It has the capability to search through civilian satellites for specific data from various telecom systems, down to specific words, phrases and even voices. Echelon only receives data from a minuscule fraction of all telecommunications activity. The NSA has never publicly admitted to the existence of Echelon, but it has been widely recognized since the early 1980s.
Similar allegations have been made against the British spy service GCHQ, which Prime Minister Tony Blair has denied. The European Union as a whole reportedly has come under fire for allowing the alleged surveillance to continue.

The CIA's discovery of "non-CIA compartmented" information on former CIA Director John Deutch's personal, unsecured computers has raised questions on Capital Hill and within certain circles of the intelligence community about whether they had anything to do with congressional investigations of Pentagon Special Access Programs (SAPs) at the time.
Prior to his appointment as CIA director, Deutch was the deputy
secretary of defense.
"Non-CIA compartmented" information involves highly classified Pentagon "Special Access Programs," or SAPs. They include new weapons systems research and development programs like stealth aircraft and spy satellites, development of countermeasures against secret foreign weapons the U.S. discovered through espionage, and intelligence
collection-related and covert activities of the military's Special
Operations Forces.
SAPs are deeply hidden, sometimes "off the books," and frequently poorly overseen by congressional oversight committees.
In late 1996, Congress' investigative arm, the General Accounting Office (GAO), began probing misuse of Special Operations Forces, or SOF, at the behest of the House Committee on National Security's military readiness subcommittee.
The GAO found "little reliable data on the frequency and types of SOF missions that would allow an analysis of SOF missions," and that "although all commands could provide general information on the types of missions for which SOF were used, little data were available on the actual missions and the extent to which they were performed."
The GAO reported that "officials at USSOCOM [U.S. Special Operations Command] and the service component commands told us they have not collected and maintained accurate and complete information on the numbers of actual missions categorized by mission type. Therefore, we could not analyze actual SOF use."
One reason for this, according to a variety of sources intimately
familiar with SOF operations and activities, is the covert and
clandestine nature of SOF assignments and their involvement in a variety of intelligence collection-related SAPs.
The GAO report highlighted the extremely secretive nature of SOF and Congress' failure and unwillingness in recent years to pay attention to SOF operations and activities, especially those that fall within the SAP domain.
As Air Force Special Operations Command officials told the GAO, "their job is to provide the needed support, such as clandestine infiltration, and they had no need to maintain records on the overall purpose of the mission."
Former high-level SOF officials said this conspicuous void in
record-keeping has a lot more to do with preserving the secrecy of highly covert SOF operations than it does with any need to eliminate extraneous bookkeeping.
Meanwhile, Pentagon and congressional oversight committees were investigating problems in Army spying operations, and had begun to ask questions about the accountability of certain SAPs in relation to the Pentagon and the CIA restructuring all military human intelligence collection assets, including those of the SOF, under the new Defense Human Intelligence Service at the Defense Intelligence Agency. Tasked by the CIA, the new agency would be involved in establishing front companies through which to carry out covert operations.
SOURCES reported at the time that there were concerns that men involved in the Army's infamous "Yellow Fruit" scandal who were never prosecuted during secret court-martials in 1986 would be involved in setting up covert "front" companies under the new Defense Human Intelligence Service similar to those that were set up as part of Yellow Fruit.
These men allegedly mismanaged, then covered-up, approximately $300 million in black operations funds without congressional approval.
In 1995-96, a number of the men who were not prosecuted continued to participate in sensitive special operations and SAP programs, and may have had access to money and other assets that were never recovered, according to a variety of sources familiar with the matter. There were also concerns that these undetected assets would be used in a rogue manner.
According to insiders, Pentagon auditors were watching the men who escaped the Yellow Fruit court-martials because it was believed the Yellow Fruit investigators never got to the bottom of all the covert operations to begin with.
In 1995-96, investigators were continuing to look for telltale signs that covert operations were being run in an unauthorized fashion. Some auditors were said to be working on the premise that certain operations weren't completely legal.
"I don't know that you can ever really totally get to the bottom of
Yellow Fruit," a Senate oversight committee staffer told SOURCES at the time.
Former Army special operations members familiar with Yellow Fruit agreed. They said the investigations "only scratched the surface" of what was going on, and added that "the capabilities [of Yellow Fruit] continue to be in place."
What seems clear is that all the secret stockpiles of untraceable money and other assets used in Yellow Fruit, as well as those assets that were used in a variety of other black programs during the 1980's, were never found or fully accounted for.
These missing untraceable assets bothered some SOF members who were involved in Yellow Fruit. One was attached at the time to the Army's Intelligence and Security Command. The source said because Yellow Fruit activities were purposefully hidden, as were other SAPs, individuals who were involved but were somehow immune from prosecution could have been using any of the assets that were never found by Pentagon auditors.
A professional staff member of a Senate oversight committee told SOURCES congressional oversight isn't a guarantee that the world of black operations will be kept above board.
"Oversight always seems adequate until something goes wrong," the staffer said, adding, "no amount of oversight is going to work if someone's bound and determined to get around it."
Meanwhile, congressional sources said at the time, Congress was waffling on staying abreast of special operations and the SOF community. Conversely, they said the Pentagon was not necessarily volunteering to bring problems to the attention to lawmakers.
"There's no supply and there's no demand for information," Steven Aftergood of the Washington, D.C.-based Federation of American Scientists said.
"I can believe that this can happen," a Senate oversight staffer said, adding, "it creates a legitimate accountability problem."

Date: Tue, 29 Feb 2000 20:09:48 -0500 (EST)
From: ProMED-mail <promed@promed.isid.harvard.edu>

A mystery disease, possibly caused by pollution, is killing tens of
thousands of flamingos on Lake Bogoria in the Kenyan Rift Valley.
Conservationists are pointing the finger at human pollution as the cause of the disease, which has killed up to 50 000 birds on the lake, the biggest concentration of flamingos in the world, since July.
And some say the disease could call into question the future of the lesser flamingo, the most common type of the species.
Tests done on some of the corpses littering the shores of the lake have shown alarming results, according to Gideon Motelin, who specializes in flamingo studies at Kenya's Egerton University.
"In every single bird we collected and analyzed, the tissues were found having nine or ten heavy metals," he told Reuters.
"It is not normal to find arsenic, lead, mercury, chromium and copper in the livers and kidneys of these birds." Traces of pesticide have been found in the body tissue of the dead birds and conservationists believe the source of the pollution is the farms near Lake Nakuru, about 60 miles south of Bogoria, which the flamingos abandoned 2 years ago.
"There are large-scale farms there and it's one of the most productive areas in the country," said Jackson Rayini of the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF). "It's clearly having an impact."
Although there were outbreaks of disease in both 1993 and 1995, each lasted for just a month. The latest spate of deaths began in July, 1999. "If it continues like this we may lose quite a keystone species," Rayini said. "It is extremely worrying."
Eighty percent of the world's flamingo population live on the eastern Rift Valley lakes, with the vast majority living on the 30 square kilometer Bogoria -- the only real haven left for the bird since Nakuru became virtually uninhabitable. But that haven is also a prison, say the conservationists.
Bogoria used to be a brief stop-over location for the flamingos but with nowhere else to go they have made the lake their home -- and there is just not enough food to go around, placing huge pressure both on the birds and on the lake.

Date: Tue, 29 Feb 2000 20:48:45 -0500 (EST)
From: ProMED-mail <promed@promed.isid.harvard.edu>
Source: ABC News

Cases of drug-resistant bacteria have slowly increased in Los Angeles County, baffling doctors because the germs have started striking otherwise healthy people. Bacteria naturally develop resistance to treatments over time, but public health officials say the overuse and inappropriate use of antibiotics has hastened the process. "The infection continues to do its thing during initial treatment so more  damage can happen," said Dr. David Dassey, deputy chief of Acute Communicable Disease Control at the county Health Department.
Drug-resistant strains of bacteria are usually confined to people who have taken antibiotics before, mostly patients in hospitals and nursing homes where infections hop from bed to bed. However, doctors now say these so-called super-bacteria are beginning to appear in the general population among people with no previous hospitalizations. Such was the case with a 67-year-old patient at St. Joseph's Medical Center who nearly died from a recent ear infection caused by a drug-resistant strain of _Streptococcus pneumoniae_.
First-line antibiotics failed to stop the bug, giving it time to race through his bloodstream and attack his heart, said Dr. Milton Louie, an infectious disease specialist who advises epidemiologists at St. Joseph's. The patient, who has not been identified, endured surgery and four weeks of treatment with vancomycin, one of the most toxic and expensive antibiotics,before the germ was knocked down. Side effects to vancomycin can include hearing loss, severe rashes and phlebitis. "I've been in practice for 20 years - and this is something definitely different," Louie said.
In 1998, 24 percent of the 659 _Streptococcus pneumoniae_ cases reported to the county involved bacteria resistant to penicillin. In the first 6 months of 1999, that rose to 28.9 percent, according to county health services. Meantime, Glendale Memorial Medical Center reported a 10 percent increase in the number of cases of _Staphylococcus aureus_ resistant to methicillin, the class of antibiotics that includes penicillin, between 1998 and 1999. And _Staphylococcus_ continues to build resistance to vancomycin, a treatment some doctors consider the last line of defense  against super-bacteria.
"After vancomycin, you're going to see people dead," said Dr. Brian Johnston, an emergency room physician at White Memorial Medical Center and a member of the county Department of Health Services Health Advisory Committee.