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Happy Doomsday to You!
By Dana Milbank
Friday, March 24, 2006
Washington was about one horseman short of an apocalypse yesterday.
It began with a breakfast meeting in a Senate office building where, over
fruit salad and bagels, government and academic experts discussed the
coming avian flu pandemic. "Currently it has a fatality rate of 56 percent,"
reported Nancy Cox, flu expert with the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention. "An increasing number of countries have reported human
cases. The severe cases are really quite severe."
Next: the mid-morning news conference on mad cow disease at the
National Press Club. There, a beef producer explained why he is suing the
government for not letting him test his cattle for bovine spongiform
encephalopathy, an "invariably fatal, progressive, incurable,
neurodegenerative disease" that can be transmitted to people. The feds
say the testing is unnecessary, but the rancher, John Stewart, warned
that "BSE is not understood enough today to really come to scientific
For those who still had an appetite, there was a luncheon meeting of the
National Economists Club at the Chinatown Garden restaurant on H
Street, where Congressional Budget Office economist Bob Shackleton was
explaining the "high-end" global-warming projections, which have Earth's
temperature growing by five degrees Celsius -- nine degrees Fahrenheit --
"That five degrees centigrade is the equivalent of the change that
happened since the end of the last glaciation 18,000 years ago to now,"
he told the economists as they munched on fortune cookies and orange
wedges. "Eighteen thousand years ago, there was a mile of ice over New
York City and you could walk 100 miles out into the ocean and still be on