Swine Flu Pandemic

June 11, 2009 2:07:33 PM PDT
I got in a crowded elevator at a hospital the other day - sonogram day for my wife, with now just six weeks left until her due date - and one of the people there (patient? doctor? nurse?) was wearing a protective mask. I'm sure I reacted with a bit of body language shock, a quick double take. Even through a mask you can see a person's smile; she wasn't smiling. There might be a variety of reasons she was wearing the mask - legitimate reasons.

But did she think this mask would protect her from the tiny spores of whatever buggers decide to infiltrate her nasal passages or pores and infect her with swine flu?

Most experts would say it doesn't.

But if it gets her through the night, then good luck with that.

I thought of my elevator colleague today, when the World Health Organization raised its alert on swine flu to the highest possible level. It's now a global pandemic - the first in more than 40 years.

The swine flu - or H1N1 as it's officially called after enormous political pressure from the pork industry - has now spread to 74 countries. There are only 195 independent countries in the world, so we're talking about 38% of the world's nations.

Meanwhile, there are now 15 deaths from swine flu in New York City - and this afternoon, the City Council is holding hearings to examine the local response to the flu. There are now some experts who say swine flu may have first appeared here last August.

We'll have latest on the pandemic, tonight after the NBA game.

Also after the game, we'll have the latest on the deadly shooting at the Holocaust Museum in Washington yesterday. James von Brunn today was charged with murder, for walking into the museum and opening fire. A years-long racist and anti-Semite, cops say von Brunn shot and killed a black guard at the Jewish museum. A real two-fer for this raving hate machine, whom his ex-wife has described as being riddled with a cancer-like anger in his body.

The guard who gave his life - 39-year-old Stephen Tyrone Johns - worked for a private security firm, which had assigned him to the museum for the past six years. How many other lives he saved by taking the bullet - we just don't know. But judging from his rantings, police say von Brunn had gone to the Jewish center to die with his boots on.

He likely wanted this to be a case of "suicide by cop" - but he was only wounded. And he probably views that as something of a defeat.

Meanwhile, new details are emerging about the 88-year-old Von Brunn. The criminal complaint filed in federal court today talks about handwritten notes found in his car, with such pleasantries as this: "You want my weapons - this is how you'll get them. The Holocaust is a lie. Obama was created by Jews. Obama does what his Jew owners tell him to do. Jews captured America's money. Jews control the mass media. The 1st Amendment is abrogated - henceforth."

It makes one wonder, as a side note, how Rev. Jeremiah Wright might view Von Brunn. Wright, the former minister of Barack Obama's, yesterday, before the shooting, was asked if he had spoken to the President since the election. He said he hadn't because "them Jews" were preventing him.

Today he clarified his comments. "Let me say like Hillary, I misspoke," Wright said. "Let me just say: Zionists. I'm not talking about all Jews, all people of the Jewish faith, I'm talking about Zionists."

Thanks Reverend for clearing that up.

Why in the world is there so much hatred? And hatred to Jews? There are only 14 million Jews in the world - the 12th largest religion in the world. Smaller even than Juche - the only government-sanctioned religion in North Korea.

It is of course even more disturbing to hear blacks trash Jews. The two peoples - oppressed for years - share much. And Jews were huge supporters - politically and financially - of the Civil Rights Movement.

There's been, as we reported last night, a frightening uptick in the number of hate groups this decade. And the rise of Pres. Obama has stirred some of them this year. It may be pathetic, but they are not to be dismissed, as we saw in deadly fashion yesterday.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Lee Goldberg's AccuWeather forecast and Scott Clark with the night's sports. I hope you can join Sade Baderinwa (in for Liz Cho) and me, tonight after the game.

BILL RITTER


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