"Army Gen. John P. Abizaid, commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East, has submitted plans to retire and will leave his post in March, a step likely to make way for a change in military strategy at a time the Bush administration is seeking a new plan for Iraq.
Abizaid has been the primary architect of U.S. military strategy in Iraq and Afghanistan since becoming head of the U.S. Central Command more than three years ago. He has strenuously resisted calls to increase troop levels to quell rising violence in Baghdad, arguing it would increase Iraqi dependence on Americans."
* AJ reviews the Dixie Chicks movie:
"What the movie demonstrates most clearly, though, and why I think it's actually an important cultural marker, is how toxic, how unbelievably poisonous, the American political atmosphere was. For a long time, perhaps roughly 2003 to 2005, there was a disturbing edge to discourse in this country, and I think our society will eventually look back upon this time not unlike we now do the McCarthyist years: as a shameful period in our nation's history, one in which the prevailing powers made the inappropriate common and the opposition was eventually proven both right and righteous."* last week, ken wrote about VaxGen's disastrous anthrax vaccine contract. WaPo A1:
"Federal health officials yesterday scuttled the largest piece of the Bush administration's two-year program to counter bioterrorism, canceling an $877.5 million contract with VaxGen to develop an anthrax vaccine after the company missed a deadline to begin human testing.wapo doesnt mention Emergent's recent 'disappointing' IPO.
The decision, delivered in a one-page letter, ends a troubled effort by the small California firm that has come to symbolize the failures of the government's ambitious $5.6 billion Project BioShield. The termination occurred on the same day President Bush signed legislation attempting to salvage the program by reorganizing its management and pumping more money into firms doing the work.
The cancellation means the government will continue to depend on a controversial anthrax vaccine, used by the military and made by Emergent BioSolutions of Gaithersburg, years longer than expected. A spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Services said the agency remains committed to developing a next-generation anthrax vaccine but has not decided whether to hold another competition.
Until a new vaccine is developed, the government will rely on its stockpiles of antibiotics, including ciprofloxacin, for dealing with anthrax exposure and 10 million doses of an older vaccine made by Emergent. Some soldiers have complained of significant side effects from the Emergent vaccine and have refused to take it, though the FDA says it's safe. VaxGen had aimed to require fewer doses over a shorter period than Emergent's to produce immunity."
* The Age:
"The US Agriculture Department today suspended Australia's monopoly wheat exporter, which was found last month to have paid millions of dollars in kickbacks in Iraq, from all US Government programmes and contracts and is considering barring it indefinitely.But, But, But OILFORFOOD! KOFI ANNAN! UN!
Last month, an Australian inquiry found AWB broke UN sanctions by paying $US222 million ($290 million) in kickbacks - disguised mostly as trucking fees - in order to secure wheat sales to Saddam Hussein's Iraq between 1999 and 2003."