Media-Trix: Suspect In 2001 Anthrax Attacks Commits Suicide….

“Federal prosecutors investigating the 2001 anthrax attacks were planning to indict and seek the death penalty against a top Army microbiologist in connection with anthrax mailings that killed five people. The scientist, who was developing a vaccine against the deadly toxin, committed suicide this week.

The scientist, Bruce E. Ivins, worked for the past 18 years at the government’s biodefense labs at Fort Detrick, Md. For more than a decade, he worked to develop an anthrax vaccine that was effective even in cases where different strains of anthrax were mixed, which made vaccines ineffective, according to federal documents reviewed by the AP.

U.S. officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the ongoing grand jury investigation, said prosecutors were closing in on Ivins, 62. They were planning an indictment that would have sought the death penalty for the attacks, which killed five people, crippled the postal system and traumatized a nation still reeling from the Sept. 11 attacks….”

More at FOX on a tragic twist in a bizarre case.


For those of you who didn’t follow it, here’s the gist.

In 2001 Anthrax-laced mailings killed 5 people and led investigators to the government’s bio-defense labs at Fort Detrick, Maryland. Originally, the mailings looked like they were written by a Middle Eastern or Pakistani person. Relying on a novel technique of literary analysis created by an English professor and written up in Vanity Fair, the FBI shifted suspicion to a bio-terrorism expert, Stephen Hatfill, who was placed under 24-hour surveillance.

Hatfill later sued Vanity Fair and the English professor for the allegations. He also sued the government for leaking the charges that led to his hounding in the media. This June, the government settled (without admitting guilt) for a multi-million dollar figure. Now, another scientist, Bruce Ivins, who has been under investigation for the same attacks, has killed himself.


So many killer scientists and so little anthrax….

What should we make of this?

Here’s my novel investigative technique. Leaning back in my chair and putting my finger tips together in my best Sherlock style ( I haven’t got a Stradivarius around to saw on…….let alone cocaine), let me pronounce judgment.

Could it be that our dear (almost departed) government was busy concocting “evidence” (with your tax dollars) to bolster their global-crazed-Islamicist-preemptive-porky-military-boondoggling case for going to war in Iraq? And that it didn’t quite fly….

That is to say, the suspicious-Paki-letter-writer… bombed (overlook that imagery, please..).

And could it be that they then tried to distract attention by publicly fingering assorted scapegoats, leading to one of said scapegoats accidentally turning into sacrificial kebab?

And could it also be, dear reader, that I have a future as an FBI consultant….or at least, a Vanity Fair theorist?

For more on this, see Glenn Greenwald’s blog. Greenwald’s raised questions about the anthrax scares earlier.

Mobs: A Citation in ‘USA Today’

Should have posted this last month when it came out…

As Economy Dips, So Does Customers’ Generosity

2008.3.21 22:30

Hair isn’t the only thing being trimmed at Head Bangers The Salon in Pendleton, Ind.

Customers searching for ways to fight high gas and food prices are doing some trimming of their own – in tips.

“Even the regulars are cutting back,” stylist Joanna Anderson said. “Usually they are apologetic and say they wish they could give more. But they just can’t right now.”

Many workers depend on tips for a substantial part of their income, and those hairdressers, bartenders, cab drivers and food servers have been among the first to be hit hard by the slowing economy, experts say.

Those workers are feeling a pinch because talk of a recession has consumers putting the brakes on extra expenses.

“It’s simply panic, and people cut back in anticipation of what may or may not come,” said financial commentator Lila Rajiva, co-author of “Mobs, Messiahs and Markets: Surviving the Public Spectacle in Finance and Politics.”

More at USA Today. 

(c) 2008, USA TODAY International. Distributed by Tribune Media Services Internationa

Feminastiness: Eastern Men As Oppressive As Westerners….

Topping my recently opened female-of-the-species-is-more-deadly-than-the-male file, this, from an Indian site (I’ve changed some of the language for clarity):

How to Improve Gender Sensitivity in India: 

1) Women must not be imprisoned even if they kill. They need to be put into reformatories.

2) As soon as a woman marries, she should get 50% rights to her husband’s property.

3) Large scale single parenting by woman (with maintenance provided by husband) is the norm. Research shows that children who are not allowed to see their fathers after divorce for years grow up to be very healthy. In India, Gender Sensitive judges alone should decide if the women should allow the father to see the child after divorce or not. Or if he should ever see them.

4) Any violence committed by woman against others (including murder) should be considered self-defense.

5) The disparity between life expectancy rates in men and women needs to be raised to the levels in developed countries. In India, women live 2.4 years more than men on an average. This difference has to be improved to the levels in the US and Europe where women live more than 6 years than men on an average.

6) If a man cancels an engagement, he need to be punished by imprisonment of upto 5 months. On the other hand, if a woman cancels an engagement, she should be compensated with 30% or more of the man’s yearly income.

7) For any woman who commits suicide within 7 years of marriage, a dowry harassment (or other harassment) case against the husband should be filed by default. He should be imprisoned for at least a year for not taking care of his wife.

8) If a woman complains of domestic violence, the man should be imprisoned immediately and bail only granted by a court. All their joint bank accounts need to be frozen at once. The woman also has the to right to stay on in the “matrimonial home” (i.e., the husband’s house), until she gets a divorce. If the women has an adulterous relation that is proved beyond doubt, the husband must still allow her to live in his house, or provide alternate accommodation of equal quality. The benchmark case is in the movie, “Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam.” The husband is even expected to help the women achieve her adulterous goals. If he cannot directly help, he must provide one-third of his salary towards the wife until she marries the other man.

9) A man must do half of all household work, even if his wife is not working. But he must always work full-time. If he does not, even if he does all house work, he should be labeled lazy, improvident, pathetic, and derelict, certainly in private, and preferably in public where it will cause maximum humiliation and pain either to him or to his relatives. If a woman does not work either outside the house or in, she is nonetheless entitled to all consideration and respect and anything less than deferential treatment of all her needs, demands, whims, and psychiatric moods should be considered a violation of her human rights.

10) After marriage, a man must not stay with his parents or allow his parents to stay for a prolonged period with him (“prolonged” to be decided by the woman and subject to revision at any time on request by her, her friends, or her relatives however distant and uneducated). He must allow her in-laws to stay in his house for at least the same length of time his parents stay in his house. If he violates any of these fundamental human rights of a woman, he can be imprisoned for neglect and abuse of his in-laws.

11) If in-laws of a man “feel” their daughter (or they) are not properly treated, the man should be thoroughly counseled and sensitized to his failure. If he does not mend his ways, stringent laws must be passed (with provision even for administering a good lashing) that will rectify his behavior.

12) The ratio of male:female suicide rates in India should be brought to the levels in the West. In India, 50%(about 25,000) more men commit suicide than women. This is much lower than western standards, where about 150% more men commit suicide than women.

13) The richer and the more educated the men are, the more pressure should be placed on them. They should provide the wife with a lifestyle equivalent to their status….. and they must also spend quality time with family (See 9, 10, 11 above). If this is still impossible, see 12.

14) By definition, Bangalore techies (since they work with software) are required to be softer than others. Since they are also paid more than most, they should deposit 20% of their monthly salary, at least,  in their wives’ names.

15) If the wife of a techie complains of dowry harassment (or any other harassment), he must be sacked from the job immediately (that is, after he gets out of jail on bail).

16) If the wife and husband are both techies, then the wife must not spend any part of her salary towards household or personal expenses. All expenses must be born by the man.

17) Streedhan given as a gift to the daughter during marriage must also be considered dowry.

18) Rural women and poor women are ignorant and can’t afford legal help. So, clearly the laws are really meant for urban India. Rural women should actually be discouraged from approaching the police or the courts since they don’t have the money anyway. Instead, they should be empowered in other ways – by better employment and by continuing to live in the traditional family system where they respect the decisions of elders. That will show everyone that that women’s rights laws are really UNDERUSED and (more importantly) will encourage urban women to MISUSE the law and file false cases. That makes for good business for feminist and Human Rights lawyers and keep bribe-giving at a healthy level, the booty being divided between the police and the women’s organizations. Currently, the rate of extortion for a techie is upto 1 lac and for an NRI (non-resident Indian) it goes upto 4 lacs.

19) Since, rural women do not suffer from domestic violence (see 18), domestic violence laws must be used mostly – and most stringently –  in urban India. Quod Erat Demostrandum.

More here in the archives of one of many new blogs on the feminist abuse of dowry and domestic abuse laws in India.

It would be funny if it were not another grim reminder of the way statutory remedies by the state end up creating more problems than remedies. Ultimately, both the men’s movement and the feminists are right….only in different places and ways. The feminists are more right (generally) about rural, uneducated women…..and the men’s movements is more right (generally) about urban, well-educated women.. But even then, each individual case is unique.

Racism, sexism and exist, but only as useful terms for analysis.. Down in the marrow, it’s all about power and relative power.

And when it holds power, the fairer sex is also the fiercer sex…

Read more here on the abuse of dowry laws and some advice for expatriate men who want to return home to be married:

498A victims offer the following advice for men getting married in India:
• When the bride and groom’s families exchange gifts, keep a written record of everything received and given.
• If you are traveling to India, make copies of your passport, visa and all credit cards and leave the copies with a trusted friend or relative.
• Don’t give anyone your tickets or passport.
• Register with the local Foreigners Registration Office upon arrival in India, and let them know your expected date of departure as well.
• “Don’t sign any blank checks.”
• Consider a prenuptial agreement.
• Keep aware of any bank activity by monitoring your bank statements.
• Print out and save any emails that may help your case. Under India’s recent cyber-laws, the emails may be admissible as evidence.
For more information, contact the following:
• Yahoo! Groups: Misusedowryact and Nridivorce
• (site is not always operational; alternatively, call them in Bangalore at 011-91-80-5696-9850 or email them at
• The FBI’s local Indian staff can be reached through the American embassy in New Delhi: 011-91-11-2419-8000
• A few blogs are online, such as, and

The Making of MOBS

“Mobs, Messiahs, and Markets” is coming out next week in the book stores.

Pretty exciting.

And the end of a year-long saga.

Bill and I began work on the book in July, 2006.

Well, sort of.

In fits and starts.

We couldn’t fit in what both of us wanted to say and we got a late start… September 2006, to be exact.

The late start came about because Bill convinced me (he is a powerful persuader) that I ought to transport myself to South America to help write the manuscript somewhere on his 250,000 acre ranch in the terrain beyond the colonial university town of Salta (it might have been twice that much — I’ve lost count of the zeroes), lost in the north-western mists of Argentina, near the border of Peru.

It says something, I suppose, that I seriously planned on doing it.

Although I don’t speak Spanish and had never set foot in South America before.

But I ended up hanging out in Buenos Ayres.

Not a bad place to hang out, by the way.

And no, I did not live in one of Agora’s magnificent French apartments on Nuevo de Julio, but that’s another story.
Getting back to the book. Bill is a prolific author, as anyone who knows him would say. Churning out words is not a problem for him. And I believe I am not lacking in loquacity either. Of course, we could cull material from his financial columns. But this book was not really only – or even mostly – about finance. It’ s on something very central to Bill’s thinking —  “public thinking” — the kind of pseudo-thinking about big issues that dominates the newspapers.

We ended up working in a bit of a frenzy.

The result was that between late September and the end of December ‘06, while we thought we’d put together a manuscript of about 500 pages, we turned out to have been counting in single- spaced pages — which meant we actually had on our hands some 1000 pages, almost three times the length of the usual financial book.

It was, needless to say, a singularly tedious January for me…..

But, finally, we did manage to turn in the finished product right on deadline in the first week of February.

It was by then a slimmer and a more toned opus, but even then, as Bill’s good friend, contrarian guru Marc Faber asked — who would want to read a 400- page book, when most people these days think they can become informed about everything everywhere in the world from 30-second TV spots?

Good question.

But, apparently, a lot of people do. A week before hitting the stores and with the marketing just gearing up, MOBS is already #4 on Amazon (it was briefly #3) and #1 in the business/finance section. (It’s actually backed off to #5 this evening).
That means it’s up there behind Harry Potter, a story by Khaled Hosseini set in Afghanistan, a memoir of a famous rock-and-roll trifecta (George Harrison-Patty Boyd-Eric Clapton), and a book about Mother Theresa.

Saints, Sinners, War — and Magic.

We, I suppose, must classify ourselves under Money.

But I rather think there’s really a bit of everything in the book. In a skewed helter-skelter fashion.

Money, of course. The genuine kind and the dubious stuff mounting up in gigantic heaps all over the planet like industrial waste.

War, course. That’s what empires do best. And we included a full complement of would-be saints and the herd of sinners who stumble after them.

The only thing we missed was magic. Although, come to think of it, we have a dollop of that too — in the chapters about central banks and paper money.

Talk about conjuring from thin air.

Hogwarts has nothing on the Bank of Bernanke.