War Profiteers

I get the distinct impression that some people are trying to take advantage of the hoopla surrounding the plane crashes into the World Trade Center. Yes, I realize am probably going to be branded a terrorist or at minimum unpatriotic because I didn't use the term "evil,"  "despicable," "terrible," or "heinous," when I mentioned it. I can go along with "terrible," but I think "stupid" is a better adjective in this case than the overused "evil".

Anyway, back to the profiteers. The World Trade Center cost around $0.4 billion to build in 1973. The governor of New York asked for $20 billion to reuild it. I realize there has been some inflation, but that's 50 times the original cost.

Luckily, NY governor George revised his request for federal money. Unfortunately, he revised it upward instead of downward. To $54,000,000,000. Notice that I restrained myself from using the term "ridiculous" in describing this number, even though it's 2,250 times more than the $24,000,000 in terrorist assets Bush was bragging about freezing. Surely governor George wouldn't try to take advantage of us, would he?

NY senator Hillary said she thought the federal government would come through with the $54 billion. NY Mayor Rudolph said he wants a few extra months in office so he can spend some of that money. NY Governor George felt cheated when Bush picked his neighboring governor of Pennsylvania to head the new federal Office of Homeland Security, so he made his own new state Office of Public Security. Somehow, the FBI, police, and the military make me feel more secure than politicians.


A Princely Sum

A Prince from Saudi Arabia donated $10,000,000 to the Twin Towers Fund, a charity for World Trade Center victims. He wrote a nice letter along with the check and gave it to mayor Rudolph. But there was a press release with the letter that said some stuff that Rudolph didn't like.

The press release properly used the terms tragic, horrendous, and criminal when referring to the plane crashes. However, the press release quoted the Prince in saying, "I believe the government of the United States of America should re-examine its policies in the Middle East and adopt a more balanced stance towards the Palestinian cause. Our Palestinian brethren continue to be slaughtered at the hands of Israelis while the world turns the other cheek." That's very "politically incorrect," especially after the Palestinians were celebrating in the streets after the attacks.

But this is fairly normal for a Saudi press release. It's a little bit like the clause at the bottom of U.S. financial press releases saying that any forward-looking statements are a probably pack of lies.

If Rudolph had taken the check it wouldn't have implied he agreed or disagreed with the Prince, and he would not have had to release the press release. By refusing the check he lost $10,000,000 that would have gone to the victims and families and insulted the Saudi royal family. I think I would have taken the check and added my own opinion to his press release.


The Sky is Falling

Last Thursday the FBI issued a press release saying "Certain information, while not specific as to target, gives the government reason to believe that there may be additional terrorist attacks within the United States and against U.S. interests overseas over the next several days." Now that's pretty darned specific, isn't it?  Is this just "the sky is falling" mentality? Apparently someone at the FBI thought so. The press release was originally located at


After people started asking about the name "skyfall.htm" they renamed it to


I bet someone got in big trouble over that!



Two or four people have been infected with anthrax delivered by mail, only one of those was very serious. He died. But the others will recover soon. Anthrax is not even contagious between humans. Why the big deal over it? It's simple. You can't see anthrax and that makes it scary, just like nuclear radiation. It seems like the press wants to believe that it came from a dangerous organization of terrorists and "it's gonna be baaaad."

If the anthrax came from a terrorist organization, they're doing a pretty poor job. More people have been struck by lightning this month than by anthrax. I heard a discussion on the radio about whether everybody should wear gas masks and rubber gloves for anthrax protection. That's almost as bad as wearing a helmet to protect you from falling meteorites. Of course, meteorites are not as scary because you can see them.

It would most likely save more lives if we'd forget about anthrax and just stop people from drinking and driving. Anthrax is not a serious threat unless it's delivered in aerosol form. Maybe that's what the FBI was worried about when they had the FAA stop crop dusting. But if you can deliver anthrax in aerosol form to a large number of people, you could also deliver poison gas or explosives.

As a mail bomb, anthrax is not too dangerous. If you get a package of anthrax in the mail, just be like former president Bill and don't inhale. And if you get a business offer in the mail from Nigeria, don't bite.


Anthrax is a real threat in large quantities delivered by air over big towns. The proverbial "they" estimate that hundreds of thousands of people would be killed if 100 lbs. of anthrax spores were released over a large town. It's pretty hard to grow 100 lbs of anthrax spores, but it's not too technologically advanced. It might be easier to buy it on the black market from former Soviet biological warfare workers.

Around 1995, the Japanese "religious" group Aum Shinrikyo released aerosols of anthrax and botulism throughout Tokyo at least 8 times. Nobody noticed, and no cases of anthrax were reported. They had a little better luck with nerve gas. In 1979, a Soviet research lab accidentally release some anthrax spores, resulting in 79 infections and 68 deaths.