Thursday, December 31, 2009

Lots of journalists seem to like to ask questions, instead of answering them. It is the old, Hog Cycle of 6 months to take a hog to market.This peggie

Why can't US pig farmers profit from the pork revolution? / The Christian Science Monitor - Beef and chicken sales are down, but pork sales are up 3.1 percent as Americans chomp ‘pig wings’ and turbaconducken. But overzealous breeding and a drop in international demand means farmers are losing $25 on each animal."

By Patrik Jonsson Staff writer Atlanta

Smoked pig ears, sliced and served like french fries with ketchup. Hog jowl sandwiches. Downmarket taco joints serving braised pork belly with freshly julienned slaw.

At the American kitchen and restaurant table, 2009 was the year of the pig – all of it, apparently. Shanks and jowls jostled with filet mignon for top billing on many top restaurant menus. Bacon made a comeback, even getting its own bacon news aggregator and finding its way into ice cream and candy. And home chefs – too cash-strapped to buy haddock and perhaps a bit tired of pan steaks – found inspiration in braised bellies and slow-roasted Boston butt.

But if "the other white meat" became the main meat this year, a paradoxical market challenge remains: Despite year over year growth of 3.1 percent as both chicken and beef sales fell off, US pork producers kept losing nearly $25 per animal. Myriad factors played into the troubles, such as a 16 percent drop in international sales (swine flu being one issue there), stubbornly high feed corn prices (due to ethanol), and – what else is new? – zealous investors who failed to see a looming downturn as they bred record numbers of sows in 2005 and 2006.

Pack up the pork parade
To make matters worse, just as pig farmers are ready to finally bring home some profit in 2010 on the lean hog and pork belly futures exchange, some gourmands are boldly declaring that the pork parade is over. At least one foodie site,, proclaims that pork will be passé in 2010. (“We love pork, but when every corner cafe has a bacon-wrapped item on the menu, it’s time for something new,” according to the site.)

“Yes, during recessions, lower cost meats typically do better than higher cost cuts, and for restaurants especially it provides an opportunity to put out an entrée at a lower cost,” says Ron Plain, an agricultural economist at the University of Missouri in Columbia. “But the fact is, the hog industry has had a very, very tough stretch in ’08 and ’09, and it will continue into early 2010, and then hopefully get better.”

From cooking shows to magazines to the corner restaurant, the pig couldn’t have had a bigger year. It embodied frugal times, and provided near infinite modification opportunities at the stove. Pork harks to simpler times, especially in the South, where whole pig roasts are still much-cherished annual events, and where vinegary dirty sauces are splashed on chopped BBQ shoulder in porky reverie.

Bacon, bacon, bacon
These days, the web is full of bacon news. There’s the tidbit from the Netherlands where scientists have grown pork in the lab (though scientific rules preclude them from tasting their creation, so who knows whether it’s any good). Bacon blogs are hot (i.e. MrBaconPants).

And for a real treat, bacon has inspired mad scientist chefs to new levels. Witness the turbaconducken, brought to you by the foodies at Bacon Today.

Rarer cuts like osso bucco and even “pig wings” – a chicken wing-like cut from the ham – have enticed restaurant owners ready to take a look at cheaper raw product that will still enchant and satiate their customers.

“People are finding that, 'Wow, we can do a lot of different stuff with pork,' and it’s a great time to try it." says Don Nikodim, executive vice president of the Missouri Pork Association.

Yet it is the vagaries of the global economy more than how much turbaconducken Americans eat that will determine the health of the US pork industry. Like everyone else, pig farmers are waiting for a turnaround, and aim to be in better position for recovery once it comes.

“We should be back in higher prices in 2010, fewer hogs in 2010, hopefully a better US economy and world economy by 2010, so we’re cautiously optimistic, as the politicians like to say,” says Mr. Plain, the pork economist.

FD: It is the Hog Cycle or Cobweb Cycle I learned in Economics

The cobweb model

Main article: Cobweb model
Nicholas Kaldor proposed a model of fluctuations in agricultural markets called the cobweb model, based on production lags and adaptive expectations. In his model, when prices are high more investments are made. However their effect is delayed due to the breeding time. Then the market becomes saturated which leads to a decline in prices. As a result of this production is reduced but the effects take a long time to be noticed but then lead to increased demand and again increased prices. This procedure repeats itself cyclically. The resulting supply-demand graph resembles a cobweb.

This type of model has also been applied in certain labour sectors: high salaries in a particular sector lead to an increased number of students studying the relevant subject. When all these students after several years start looking for a job at the same time their job prospects are much worse which then in turn deters students from studying this subject.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

See what you find on the Internet when you can not sleep... Barreleye Fish... this a very small fish from off California. Fascinating... I love fish.

A bizarre deep-water fish called the barreleye has a transparent head and tubular eyes.

Since the fish's discovery in 1939, biologists have known the eyes were very good at collecting light. But their shape seemed to leave the fish with tunnel vision.

Now scientists say the eyes rotate, allowing the barreleye to see directly forward or look upward through its transparent head.

The barreleye (Macropinna microstoma) is adapted for life in a pitch-black environment of the deep sea, where sunlight does not reach. They use their ultra-sensitive tubular eyes to search for the faint silhouettes of prey overhead.

Scientists had thought the eyes were fixed in an upward gaze, however. This would make it impossible for the fish to see what was directly in front of them, and very difficult for them to capture prey with their small, pointed mouths.

Bruce Robison and Kim Reisenbichler of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute use videos from the institute's remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) to study barreleyes off Central California.

At depths of 2,000 to 2,600 feet (600 to 800 meters), the ROV cameras typically showed these fish hanging motionless in the water, their eyes glowing a vivid green in the ROV's bright lights.

The video also revealed a previously undescribed feature of these fish — its eyes are surrounded by a transparent, fluid-filled shield that covers the top of the fish's head.

Most existing descriptions and illustrations of this fish do not show its fluid-filled shield, probably because this fragile structure was destroyed when the fish were brought up from the deep in nets.

Robison and Reisenbichler were fortunate to bring a net-caught barreleye to the surface alive. Over several hours in an aquarium on the ship, they were able to confirm that the fish rotated its tubular eyes as it turned its body from a horizontal to a vertical position.

Barreleyes, just a few inches long, are thought to eat small fishes and jellyfish. The green pigments in their eyes may filter out sunlight coming directly from the sea surface, helping the barreleye spot the bioluminescent glow of jellies or other animals directly overhead.

When it spots prey (such as a drifting jelly), a barreleye rotates its eyes forward and swims upward, in feeding mode.

The findings were detailed recently in the journal Copeia.

Interesting Blog piece off the Huffintonpost ... It is a Wonderful Life is one of my Christmas Movie Traditions....

Too-big-to-fail banks are profiting from bailout dollars and government guarantees, and growing bigger. Tell us which community bank you use, and why.

Last week, over a pre-Christmas dinner, the two of us, along with political strategist Alexis McGill, filmmaker/author Eugene Jarecki, and Nick Penniman of the HuffPost Investigative Fund, began talking about the huge, growing chasm between the fortunes of Wall Street banks and Main Street banks, and started discussing what concrete steps individuals could take to help create a better financial system. Before long, the conversation turned practical, and with some help from friends in the world of bank analysis, a video and website were produced devoted to a simple idea: Move Your Money.

The big banks on Wall Street, propped up by taxpayer money and government guarantees, have had a record year, making record profits while returning to the highly leveraged activities that brought our economy to the brink of disaster. In a slap in the face to taxpayers, they have also cut back on the money they are lending, even though the need to get credit flowing again was one of the main points used in selling the public the bank bailout. But since April, the Big Four banks -- JP Morgan/Chase, Citibank, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo -- all of which took billions in taxpayer money, have cut lending to businesses by $100 billion.

Meanwhile, America's Main Street community banks -- the vast majority of which avoided the banquet of greed and corruption that created the toxic economic swamp we are still fighting to get ourselves out of -- are struggling. Many of them have closed down (or been taken over by the FDIC) over the last 12 months. The government policy of protecting the Too Big and Politically Connected to Fail is badly hurting the small banks, which are having a much harder time competing in the financial marketplace. As a result, a system which was already dangerously concentrated at the top has only become more so.

We talked about the outrage of big, bailed-out banks turning around and spending millions of dollars on lobbying to gut or kill financial reform -- including "too big to fail" legislation and regulation of the derivatives that played such a huge part in the meltdown. And as we contrasted that with the efforts of local banks to show that you can both be profitable and have a positive impact on the community, an idea took hold: why don't we take our money out of these big banks and put them into community banks? And what, we asked ourselves, would happen if lots of people around America decided to do the same thing? Our money has been used to make the system worse -- what if we used it to make the system better?

Everyone around the table quickly got excited (granted we are an excitable group), and began tossing out suggestions for how to get this idea circulating.

Eugene, the filmmaker among us, remarked that the contrast between the big banks and the community banks we were talking about was very much like the story in the classic Frank Capra film It's a Wonderful Life, where community banker George Bailey helps the people of Bedford Falls escape the grip of the rapacious and predatory banker Mr. Potter.

It was a lightbulb moment. And, unlike the vast majority of dinner conversations, the excitement over this idea didn't end with dessert. It actually led to something -- thanks in great part to Eugene and his remarkable team, who got to work and, in record time, created a brilliant, powerful, and inspiring video playing off the It's a Wonderful Life concept. Watch it below.

Within a few days, the rest of the pieces fell into place, including an agreement with top financial analysts Chris Whalen and Dennis Santiago, who gave us access to their IRA (Institutional Risk Analytics) database. Using this tool, everyone will be able to plug in their zip code and quickly get a list of the small, solvent Main Street banks operating in their community.

The idea is simple: If enough people who have money in one of the big four banks move it into smaller, more local, more traditional community banks, then collectively we, the people, will have taken a big step toward re-rigging the financial system so it becomes again the productive, stable engine for growth it's meant to be. It's neither Left nor Right -- it's populism at its best. Consider it a withdrawal tax on the big banks for the negative service they provide by consistently ignoring the public interest. It's time for Americans to move their money out of these reckless behemoths. And you don't have to worry, there is zero risk: deposit insurance is just as good at small banks -- and unlike the big banks they don't provide the toxic dividend of derivatives trading in a heads-they-win, tails-we-lose fashion.

Think of the message it will send to Wall Street -- and to the White House. That we have had enough of the high-flying, no-limits-casino banking culture that continues to dominate Wall Street and Capitol Hill. That we won't wait on Washington to act, because we know that Washington has, in fact, been a part of the problem from the start. We simply can't count on Congress to fix things. We have to do it ourselves -- and the big banks are the core of the problem. We need to return to the stable, reliable, people-oriented approach of America's community banks.

So watch Eugene's amazing video, then go to to learn more about how easy it is to move your money. And pass the idea on to your friends (help make this video -- and this idea -- go viral!).

JP Morgan/Chase, Citi, Wells Fargo, and Bank of America may be "too big to fail" -- but they are not too big to feel the impact of hundreds of thousands of people taking action to change a broken financial and political system. Let them gamble with their own money, not yours. Let's turn big banks into smaller banks. We'll all be better off -- and safer -- as a result.

Make it your New Year's resolution to move your money. We can't think of a better way to start 2010.

Credit Unions: Some commenters have written us suggesting that we also include credit unions. Like the FDIC for banks and thrifts, the National Credit Union Administration insures the deposits of credit unions and is a good resource for financial data on specific institutions. Credit unions do not disclose financial data in the same way as FDIC-insured banks. As a result, credit unions are not presently included in the IRA ratings database, which covers over 8,000 federally insured banks and thrifts. IRA is developing a method to rate credit unions in a way that is comparable to the IRA bank stress ratings.

We'll be updating users of "Move Your Money" on this issue early in 2010.

For more info, go to:

(Coming soon: How to get your municipal and state governments to take their money out of the big banks too.)

The Association of American Editorial Cartoonists

Here is a link to cartoons I found at

Problem FIXED. NOW UPDATE our computer lists. But do we want to do that to all travelers to USa?

Europe Alert from The Wall Street Journal

The Dutch government said it will begin using full body scanners on flights to the U.S. within three weeks to prevent future terrorist attacks like the Christmas Day attempt by a young Nigerian.

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, 23 years old, managed to board a Northwest Airlines flight to Detroit from Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport carrying explosives but failed to successfully detonate them.

In a preliminary report, the Dutch government says the Christmas Day bomb plot was professional but its execution was "amateurish."

An earlier Dutch investigation said all security checks were correctly carried out in Amsterdam and American authorities had cleared the passenger list.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

I love my coffee, but does it love me?

Your Coffee May Have Some Health Perks, but Can Brew Trouble in People With Certain Conditions


To judge by recent headlines, coffee could be the latest health-food craze, right up there with broccoli and whole-wheat bread.

But don't think you'll be healthier graduating from a tall to a venti just yet. While there has been a splash of positive news about coffee lately, there may still be grounds for concern.

The Latest Findings on Coffee Hector Sanchez for The Wall Street Journal .

Diabetes: Many studies find that coffee—decaf or regular—lowers the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, but caffeine raises blood sugar in people who already have it.

Cancer: Earlier studies implicating coffee in causing cancer have been disproven; may instead lower the risk of colon, mouth, throat and other cancers.

Heart disease: Long-term coffee drinking does not appear to raise the risk and may provide some protection.

Hypertension: Caffeine raises blood pressure, so sufferers should be wary.

Cholesterol: Some coffee—especially decaf—raises LDL, the bad kind of cholesterol.

Alzheimer's: Moderate coffee drinking appears to be protective.

Osteoporosis: Caffeine lowers bone density, but adding milk can balance out the risk.

Pregnancy: Caffeine intake may increase the risk of miscarriage and low birth-weight babies.

Sleep: Effects are highly variable, but avoiding coffee after 3 p.m. can avert insomnia.

Mood: Moderate caffeine boosts energy and cuts depression, but excess amounts can cause anxiety.
This month alone, an analysis in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that people who drink three to four cups of java a day are 25% less likely to develop Type 2 diabetes than those who drink fewer than two cups. And a study presented at an American Association for Cancer Research meeting found that men who drink at least six cups a day have a 60% lower risk of developing advanced prostate cancer than those who didn't drink any.

Earlier studies also linked coffee consumption with a lower risk of getting colon, mouth, throat, esophageal and endometrial cancers. People who drink coffee are also less likely to have cavities, gallstones, cirrhosis of the liver, Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease, or to commit suicide, studies have found. Last year, researchers at Harvard University and the University of Madrid assessed data on more than 100,000 people over 20 years and concluded that the more coffee they drank, the less likely they were to die during that period from any cause.

But those studies come on the heels of older ones showing that coffee—particularly the caffeine it contains—raises blood pressure, heart rate and levels of homocysteine, an amino acid in blood that is associated with stroke and heart disease. Pregnant women who drink two or more cups of coffee a day have a higher rate of miscarriages and lower birth-weight babies; caffeine has also been linked to benign breast lumps and bone loss in elderly women. And, as many people can attest, coffee can also aggravate anxiety, irritability, heartburn and sleeplessness, which brings its own set of problems, including a higher risk of obesity. Yet it's just that invigorating buzz that other people love and think they can't get through the day without.

Why is there so much confusion about something that's so ubiquitous? After all, some 54% of American adults drink coffee regularly—an estimated 400 million cups per day—and coffee is the second most widely traded commodity in the world, after oil.

News Hub: Evidence of Coffee's Health Benefits2:01WSJ's health columnist Melinda Beck discusses new evidence that drinking coffee may help prevent diseases such as prostate cancer, Alzheimer's and diabetes.
For starters, the vast majority of coffee studies to date have been observational, in which researchers examine large sets of data over many years, looking for patterns in peoples' habits and their health.

But subjects don't always remember or report accurately on how much they drink. Cup sizes can range from 6 to 32 ounces; caffeine loads can vary from 75 to nearly 300 milligrams. Loading up with sugar, flavored syrup and whipped cream can turn a no-fat, almost no-calorie drink into the equivalent of an ice-cream soda.

Even carefully constructed observational studies that correct for such variables can only find correlations, not prove a cause-and-effect relationship. There may be other, hidden reasons why people who drink a lot of coffee have a lower risk of illness—such as jobs that provide a steady income and access to health care, exercise and healthier food. Conversely, "people who don't feel that healthy may be less likely to drink six cups of coffee a day. ... It's just a possibility," says Jim Lane, a psychophysiologist at Duke University Medical Center who has studied the effects of caffeine for more than 25 years.

Risks Disappear
Indeed, many studies from earlier decades that linked coffee drinking to a higher risk of cancer were apparently detecting related habits instead. Once researchers started adjusting for study subjects who also smoked cigarettes, the additional cancer risk disappeared.

"When I went to medical school, I was told that coffee was harmful. But in the '90s and this decade, it's become clear that if you do these studies correctly, coffee is protective in terms of public health," says Peter R. Martin, a professor of psychiatry and pharmacology at Vanderbilt University and director of the school's Institute for Coffee Studies, founded in 1999 with a grant from coffee-producing countries.

Still, many researchers believe that the only way to draw firm conclusions about something like coffee is through experimental trials in which some subjects are exposed to measured doses and others get a placebo, with other variables tightly controlled. When that's been done, says Duke's Dr. Lane, "the experimental studies and the [observational] studies are in very sharp disagreement about whether caffeine is healthy or not."

Harmful Effects
His own small, controlled studies have shown that caffeine—administered in precise doses in tablet form—raises blood pressure and blood-sugar levels after a meal in people who already have diabetes. Other studies have found that caffeine and stress combined can raise blood pressure even more significantly. "If you are a normally healthy person, that might not have any long-term effect," says Dr. Lane. "But there are some groups of people who are predisposed to get high blood pressure and heart disease and for them, caffeine might be harmful over time."

.Epidemiologists counter that such small studies don't mirror real-world conditions, and they can't examine the long-term risk of disease.

The prostate-cancer study, for example, compared the coffee-drinking habits of 50,000 men working in medical professions with their incidence of prostate cancer over 20 years, and also took into account family history of prostate cancer and how frequently they had screenings. Roughly 5,000 of the men developed prostate cancer during that period, including 846 cases of the most advanced and lethal kind. But the more cups of coffee the men drank, the less likely they were to be in that most lethal group. "You can't do a randomized controlled trial on men starting in their 20s and following them until they are old enough to get prostate cancer," says lead investigator Kathryn Wilson, a research fellow in epidemiology at Harvard School of Public Health. "For some of these questions, observational studies are the best we are going to get."

As for diabetes, at least 18 studies have found that drinking three or more cups of coffee a day is linked with a lower risk of developing the disease. The more such findings are repeated, particularly with different populations, the stronger the evidence is.

Beyond Caffeine
In both the prostate and diabetes studies, the health benefits were found for caffeinated as well as decaffeinated coffee, suggesting that some other component in coffee is responsible. Coffee contains traces of hundreds of substances, including potassium, magnesium and vitamin E, as well as chlorogenic acids that are thought to have antioxidant properties.These may protect against cell damage and inflammation that can be precursors to cancer, diabetes, neurological disorders and cardiovascular disease.

One theory gaining credence is that some of those beneficial components may counterbalance some of the harmful effects of caffeine. For example, while caffeine keeps people awake in part by blocking adenosine, a brain chemical that brings on sleep, the chlorogenic acid in coffee keeps adenosine circulating in the brain longer.

And while caffeine seems to boost adrenaline that primes the body for action, coffee itself may have a calming effect. Even the aroma of coffee beans can help ease stress in rats, researchers at Seoul National University in South Korea showed in a study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry last year. Chlorogenic acid also slows the release of glucose into the bloodstream after a meal, which may counteract caffeine's glucose effect.

Benefits Cloaked in 'Mays'
"It's a yin and yang effect," says Vanderbilt's Dr. Martin, an addiction psychiatrist who also notes that former alcoholics who drink coffee are more apt to stay sober than those who don't. Even though these studies are just associations, he says, "they may provide leads for us to better understand some of the most common illnesses that affect mankind as well as developing ways to treat them. But everything is cloaked in 'mays.' "

Most researchers agree that there isn't enough evidence about the benefits of coffee to encourage non-coffee drinkers to acquire the habit. And no one has come close to finding a recommended number of cups per day for optimum health. People's reactions to coffee are highly individual. One small cup can give one person the jitters while others can drink 10 cups and sleep all night.

At the same time, people who love coffee probably don't need to worry that they are harming their health by drinking it -- unless they already have high blood pressure or are pregnant or are having trouble sleeping, in which case it's prudent to cut down.

Even Dr. Lane, who thinks the risks of caffeine outweigh coffee's potential benefits, concedes he drinks several cups a day. "Why do I do it?" he muses. "I ask myself that question ..."


These sky lanterns are creating a stir in New Zealand this year...

Alien lights not out of this world

Liam Heslop spotted mysterious lights in the sky on December 23. Police phone lines around the country (New Zealand), and especially the Coromandel Peninsula, are running hot with calls from people reporting distress flares at night.The calls are bugging the police because the flares are not flares at all; they're small lantern-type fliers powered by small candles and apparently being sold on Coromandel beaches and elsewhere. But released at night they can resemble flares. North Island police communications Inspector Cornell Kluessien said the novelty items were bag-like and made of flimsy paper.When the candle is lit its heat fills the bag, just like a hot air balloon, and it lifts off to float away, higher and higher.

Mr Kluessien said police had taken six calls from the Coromandel last night, three the day before and one from Auckland on Boxing Day."I'm sure the lanterns are pretty but they're causing us big problems, Mr Kluessien said. He added police thought the lanterns were being sold on beaches and appealed for a halt to sales. Mr Kluessien said every reported "flare" sighting had to be taken seriously and the Coastguard alerted.

He described continued sales and lantern launches as "bloody minded and stupid".TARANAKI SKIESThe lanterns may also be behind strange lights reported in the Taranaki night sky. Yesterday, the Taranaki Daily News spoke to two astronomers and showed them photos of the strangelights to see if they could determine what people were seeing. While both men's answers seemed to rule out the possibility of a Santa, Star of Bethlehem or alienmothership sighting, neither was able to give a definitive answer. Regular newspaper columnist Tom Whelan said it wasn't a case of little orange men scouting earth."There are unidentified objects up there and it's our job to identify them," he said. "I'm sorry, I can't give you the answer.

"There's something there, I don't know what it is. "The question you have to ask is, what did these people see?" Mr Whelan had checked for passes of the International Space Station but came up empty-handed.The Taranaki Daily News contacted New Plymouth Airport and the MetService to see if they could provide an answer.An airport control tower worker had witnessed the lights himself, but did not know what they were. He confirmed there were no scheduled domestic flights above New Plymouth at the times the lights werespotted, generally between about 9.30pm and 10.45pm.A MetService forecaster said while the service released weather balloons around New Plymouth, this neverhappened until between 11.30pm and midnight, well after the sightings. The first sighting was reported to the newspaper last week by Liam Heslop, who said he and his wife saw a single light moving in a west to east direction on December 23 about 9.45pm. "It looked like a fireball and then it flickered out," he said. "Then about half an hour later there were another two following the exact same path. It looked to me like aplane on fire really high up."

A further three people reported seeing up to seven of the lights on Christmas night on the website and one claims to have video footage. The sightings are not the first around New Zealand this summer with other similar reports of strange lights inAuckland, Christchurch and Tauranga. New Plymouth astronomer Rod Austin said he didn't know what the lights were but he thought they could beballoons with LED candles attached. "That's my feeling, but I can't prove it," he said. Mr Whelan had a similar theory.

The lights could be Chinese sky lanterns, he said, released to mark the fifth anniversary of the Boxing Day tsunami.

Easy-to-use sky lanterns are readily and cheaply available on TradeMe. One listing says "folklore has it the lanterns carry away with them bad spirits and misfortune high into the sky and far away, leaving behind only good luck and fortune for the releaser

New Years has always meant Fireworks for me... I saw this Sky Lantern on TV and discovered two interesting Internet sites for them and fireworks kits.

(Personally, I’d say buying some is a better idea.) Note that the web site where you can buy these is for a company owned by the guy who wrote the “home made” sky lighter blog post.

Less than $100 for 10 of these, and they’d make a GREAT evening with even the older grandkids.

Seems like this is coming down to one of those.... What did you know and when did you know it moments ... we just need to focus on fixing the system and stop blaming others. This seems simple to fix.

The father of terror suspect Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab met with the CIA at the U.S. embassy in Abuja, Nigeria, and told of his son's likely radicalization, according to the CIA. The initial meeting Nov. 19 led to a broader gathering of multiple U.S. agencies the next day, in which the information was shared. U.S. officials said it is unclear whether intelligence officials in Washington effectively collected and analyzed all the relevant information gathered in Nigeria, pointing toward a possible lapse that could have helped prevent Mr. Abdulmutallab getting on the plane he attempted to bomb.

For more information:

Don't send emails to other guys telling them you love them, unless you mean it.....

Pete Sessions is silent on e-mail sent to accused banker

10:16 PM CST on Monday, December 28, 2009

By LORI STAHL / The Dallas Morning News U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions hasn't responded to a report that he sent a supportive e-mail to banker R. Allen Stanford hours after Stanford was charged with swindling $7 billion from investors.

But the wording attributed to Sessions "resembles" something he might say to a "person in crisis," the congressman's spokeswoman said Monday.

The Miami Heraldreported Sunday that Sessions expressed his loyalty to Stanford at 11:31 a.m. on Feb. 17, hours after the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission charged the banker with bilking thousands of investors.

"I love you and believe in you," said the e-mail reportedly sent by Sessions, a Dallas Republican. "If you want my ear/voice – e-mail," said the message signed "Pete."

The newspaper did not say how it obtained the e-mail. It was featured prominently in a story revealing that federal officials are investigating $2.3 million in campaign contributions Stanford gave members of Congress, including Sessions.

Although the donations were previously known, Justice Department investigators are now looking to see whether Stanford was given special treatment by lawmakers he supported.

Sessions declined to comment to the Miami Herald and could not be reached Monday.

Emily Davis, his spokeswoman, said her office can't authenticate the e-mail, but she said that "Congressman Sessions believes that its contents resemble language he would use to communicate with a person in crisis to encourage right decisions and prevent further tragedy."

"With that being said, the congressman maintains the position that Mr. Stanford should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law," Davis said.

She added that Stanford "had everyone fooled" initially and that as "his scheme has become clear," Sessions withdrew his support.

Federal investigators are looking at lavish trips Stanford hosted for members of Congress, as well as the campaign money. Sessions met with Stanford on two Caribbean trips. Stanford also helped raise almost $40,000 for Sessions during a hard-fought election against former Rep. Martin Frost in 2004. Sessions won.

Sessions, who is chairman of the National Republican Campaign Committee, has co-signed a letter to the head of the SEC, urging that investors who were defrauded be covered by investor-protection programs.

"The alleged Ponzi scheme carried out by Allen Stanford ... was one of the most substantial financial crimes ever carried out in the U.S." and it "devastated" thousands of investors, the letter said.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Woops! Bomb Designers released in 2007 by Bush to S.A. in 2007

Two al Qaeda Leaders Behind Northwest Flight 253 Terror Plot Were Released by U.S. from Getmo in 2007 by Bush.

Former Guantanamo Prisoners Believed Behind Northwest Airlines Bomb Plot; Sent to Saudi Arabia in 2007


Two of the four leaders allegedly behind the al Qaeda plot to blow up a Northwest Airlines passenger jet over Detroit were released by the U.S. from the Guantanamo prison in November, 2007, according to American officials and Department of Defense documents. Al Qaeda claimed responsibility for the Northwest bombing in a Monday statement that vowed more attacks on Americans.

American officials agreed to send the two terrorists from Guantanamo to Saudi Arabia where they entered into an "art therapy rehabilitation program" and were set free, according to U.S. and Saudi officials.

Guantanamo prisoner #333, Muhamad Attik al-Harbi, and prisoner #372, Said Ali Shari, were sent to Saudi Arabia on Nov. 9, 2007, according to the Defense Department log of detainees who were released from American custody. Al-Harbi has since changed his name to Muhamad al-Awfi.

Both Saudi nationals have since emerged in leadership roles in Yemen, according to U.S. officials and the men's own statements on al Qaeda propaganda tapes.

Both of the former Guantanamo detainees are described as military commanders and appear on a January, 2009 video along with the man described as the top leader of al Qaeda in Yemen, Abu Basir Naser al-Wahishi, formerly Osama bin Laden's personal secretary.

In its Monday statement claiming responsibility for the Northwest bombing, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula called bombing suspect Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab a "hero" and a "martyr" and lauded him for beating U.S. intelligence.

The two-page written claim included a photo of Abdulmutallab and boasted of Al Qaeda's success in designing "advanced explosive packages" that can pass through airport screening undetected.

The statement also asks for attacks upon Americans in the Arabian peninsula, and promises further attacks on the American people.

Abdulmutallab: Northwest Airlines Bomb Suspect

The suspected bomber, 23-year-old Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, told FBI agents he was trained for his Christmas Day mission in Yemen by top leaders of al Qaeda who provided him with the explosive materials.

"The so-called rehabilitation programs are a joke," a U.S. diplomat said in describing the Saudi efforts with released Guantanamo detainees.

Saudi officials concede its program has had its "failures" but insist that, overall, the effort has helped return potential terrorists to a meaningful life.

One program gives the former detainees paints and crayons as part of the rehabilitation regimen.

A similar rehabilitation program in Yemen was stopped because so many of the detainees quickly joined with al Qaeda or its affiliates, the official said.

The increased role of al Qaeda in Yemen, which joined with the Saudi al Qaeda unit, has underscored the problem of how to best handle the repatriation of detainees at Guantanamo.

New Opens Next Year Hoover Dam Bridge to bypass the Old Damn Road ...

Just what we needed this year!

As part of a project for their high school science class, students Brenda Tan, 17, and Matt Cost, 18, may have discovered a new species of cockroach while collecting samples in a New York City supermarket.

The two teens were acting in their roles as "DNAHouse investigators", according to their supervisor Mark Stoeckle, an expert on genomics and DNA barcoding at Rockefeller University. Designed to teach young aspiring scientists more about genetic research, the project gives students the opportunity to use the Barcode of Life Database and GenBank to identify samples they collect themselves.

Of course, no one expected results quite so surprising.

"The cockroach is genetically modified. Species don't differ more than 1 percent, this cockroach is 4 percent different, which suggests it is a new species of cockroach," Stoeckle told AFP. "We think that the museums of natural history in Paris or New York could be interested."

And the cockroach was just one of many shocking samples the pair collected while wandering the streets and buildings of the Big Apple. All in all, the American Museum of Natural History laboratory identified 170 genetic codes from the samples collected by Tan and Cost, leading the researchers to identify 95 different animal species. Aside from the new roach, the pair's samples also yielded DNA from an ostrich, paddlefish, bison and even a giant flying squid.

It's a stark reminder of just how small the world really is. And while the origin of the new roach remains a mystery, there's a good chance that it was home grown. The environment of a big city like New York offers an ideal breeding ground for creepy crawlies of all sorts.

New Yorkers out there may want to think twice before lifting their foot to squash the next buggy invader. You might be squashing a brand new species!

Maybe, they should consider buying and not making explosives, I just saying... it didn't work well this time.

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula on Monday claimed responsibility for the attack on a U.S. airliner bound for Detroit on Christmas Day, saying it was retaliation for a U.S. operation against the group in Yemen.Yemeni forces, helped by U.S. intelligence, carried out two airstrikes against al-Qaida operatives in the country this month. The second one was a day before Abdulmutallab attempted to bring down a Northwest Airlines flight as it prepared to land in Detroit.

Federal authorities met Monday to reassess the U.S. system of terror watchlists to determine how to avoid the type of lapse that allowed a man with explosives to board the flight in Amsterdam even though he was flagged as a possible terrorist.

In a statement posted on the Internet, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula said 23-year-old Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab coordinated with members of the group, an alliance of militants based in Saudi Arabia and Yemen.

The group said Abdulmutallab used explosives manufactured by Al Qaeda members. "He managed to penetrate all devices and modern advanced technology and security checkpoints in international airports bravely without fear of death," the group said in the statement, "relying on God and defying the large myth of American and international intelligence, and exposing how fragile they are, bringing their nose to the ground, and making them regret all what they spent on security technology."

For the past four years, I have consistently stated that our response to 9-11 was wrong and that we were not introspective about the event... but that was under Bush

Osama said he would bankrupt the United States and cause the loss of a huge number of jobs.
You read and decide if he is more successful than Bush.

Al-Jazeera releases full transcript of al Qaeda leader's tape

Monday, November 1, 2004

Conter-Terror Strategy is NOT combat or War, it is police action and intelligence.

Do We Need 30,000 Troops in Yemen,
 or A Better Counter-Terror Strategy?

Newsweek Blog

By Tim Fernholz

When President Barack Obama announced his plan to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan in early December, he began by invoking the attacks of 9/11 and explained that fighting al Qaeda was the primary reason for America's war effort, calling the Afghan-Pakistan border "the epicenter of violent extremism practiced by Al Qaeda. It is from here that we were attacked on 9/11, and it is from here that new attacks are being plotted as I speak."

The idea is that transnational terrorist groups require safe havens to prepare their attacks, but the Af-Pak border isn't the only place where terrorists hide. Somalia and Yemen, which Obama also mentioned in his speech, are also home to al Qaeda. We were treated to an object lesson on Christmas Day when a Nigerian man, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who reportedly obtained explosives from an Al Qaeda contact in Yemen, allegedly attempted to ignite explosives on a Detroit-bound flight before he was subdued by quick-acting passengers.

Some, like Senator Joe Lieberman, are already descending into self-caricature by calling Yemen "tomorrow's war." Indeed, the U.S. has recently stepped up its intelligence and Special Forces presence to bolster the Yemeni government's efforts to drive out Al Qaeda and radical clerics (including one linked to the Fort Hood shootings); last month President Obama ordered cruise missile strikes against terrorist targets there.

But, though it is clear that broader engagement, including non-military partnership, is needed to stop with Al Qaeda in Yemen, we shouldn't be looking for another war. Instead, the circumstances of the attack give us an opportunity to reconsider whether the Obama Administration's extensive commitment to the Afghanistan conflict is the right way to go after extremist groups who wish to attack the United States, and whether so-called "safe havens" are really a threat.

"This attempted attack does not appear to have any connection to Afghanistan," Paul Pillar, a former deputy director of the CIA's Counterterrorist Center and former National Intelligence Officer for the Near East and South Asia, wrote via e-mail. "The incident is a reminder that countering such terrorism is not a matter of controlling particular pieces of foreign real estate but instead of less visible work by intelligence and law enforcement resources."

While there are good reasons for the United States to be in Afghanistan - in particular, keeping Pakistan's nuclear weapons away from extremists and the international commitment to shoring up the faltering government in Kabul - Obama sold the plan as a response to 9/11 even when he had a chance to offer an evolved justification to the American people.

Pillar has previously questioned the assumption that we need to interdict terrorist safe havens with military force in an age when the Internet enables international terrorists to network as efficiently as office workers. Friday's attack didn't come, so far as we know, from Afghanistan or the largely illiterate tribal insurgents there, but from an educated Nigerian man who had lived in England, obtained explosives in Yemen and was screened in two international airports whose security measures were approved by the U.S. Transportation Security Administration.

Newsweek's Declassified blog reports that Abdulmutallab had been entered into a potential threat database following warnings from his father. (He had already been barred from entering the United Kingdom.) However, his name had not yet migrated to the no-fly list, suggesting that despite Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano's Sunday claim that "the system worked," more attention and resources are needed to get U.S. security agencies operating on the same page.

With the costs of the already $68 billion-a-year Afghanistan conflict set to rise, it's time for the administration to rethink the balance of resources between military operations designed to shut down terrorist safe havens and the intelligence and law enforcement efforts that could have stopped the incident on Christmas.

Tim Fernholz, who will be guest-blogging this week, is a Writing Fellow at the American Prospect; follow him on Twitter.

Subway Sandwich Shop rises to new heights! FOX NEWS! We report it, you decide.

Subway Restaurant Rises at WTC Site

NEW YORK - As the Freedom Tower makes its ascent into the New York City skyline, rising alongside it atop a crane will be a Subway Sandwich Shop that will turn out subs for hungry hardhats who can't spare the time to head back down to the street.

The shop will be fitted into a shipping container-like structure fixed to one of the tower cranes, alongside a bathroom and construction offices for the project managers.

The concession stand will rise with the tower, eventually stopping near the 105th floor, at roughly the height of the old twin towers, or about as high as the former windows on the World Restaurant was.

Why does it NOT surprise USa that Yemen is NEXT TO Saudi Arabia and across from Somalia?

Building the Criminal Case Against the Christmas Bomber

Investigators in the U.S., Europe, Africa and the Middle East are racing to determine how the son of a Nigerian banker became the first person in eight years to try to set off an explosive aboard a U.S. commercial airliner.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Monday that the aviation-security system failed when the young man on a watchlist with a U.S. visa in his pocket and a powerful explosive hidden on his body was allowed to board a fight from Amsterdam to Detroit.

The Obama administration has ordered investigations into the two areas of aviation security -- how travelers are placed on watch lists and how passengers are screened -- as critics questioned how the 23-year-old man charged in the airliner attack was allowed to board the Dec. 25 flight.

News Hub: Terrorism Back on the Front Burner7:18WSJ's Adam Horvath recaps the latest in the terror news and explains what the longer term impact will be for travelers in the U.S. and abroad.

A day after lauding the system, Ms. Napolitano backtracked, saying her words had been taken out of context. "Our system did not work in this instance," she said on NBC's "Today" show. "No one is happy or satisfied with that. An extensive review is under way."

The White House press office, traveling with President Barack Obama in Hawaii, said early Monday that the president would make a statement from the Kaneoho Marine Base in the morning. White House spokesman Bill Burton didn't elaborate.

Lawmakers of both parties expressed concerns that the man charged in the Christmas Day attempt to bomb Northwest Flight 253, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, was able to board an Amsterdam-to-Detroit flight with a hidden cache of explosives.

The incident comes on the heels of nearly a dozen terrorism probes and alleged plots to come to light in recent months. The string of cases highlights the difficulty, more than five years after the 9/11 Commission called for better communication between intelligence, law-enforcement and security agencies, of identifying relevant information that could stop a terrorist attack.

One U.S. official briefed on the inquiry said investigators are still trying to determine whether the suspect's claims of links to al Qaeda in Yemen are accurate, and how strong those ties are.

Jitters over the case were heightened on Sunday by another incident involving a passenger on the same Northwest Airlines flight from Amsterdam, two days later. A Nigerian man was subdued by the flight crew after he began "acting belligerently," according to U.S. officials.

Delta Air Lines Inc., which acquired Northwest last year, said the crew of Sunday's Flight 253 asked authorities to meet the plane upon landing in Detroit because of a "verbally disruptive" passenger. All 257 passengers and 12 crew members got off the plane safely.

The Homeland Security Department said Sunday evening that "indications at this time are that the individual's behavior is due to legitimate illness, and no other suspicious behavior or materials have been found."

In the aftermath of the attempted Christmas bombing, federal agents are working with authorities in Britain, the Netherlands, Yemen and Nigeria to determine whether Mr. Abdulmutallab was part of a wider plot. Mr. Abdulmutallab told investigators he had affiliations with al Qaeda operatives in Yemen, who gave him the device and detonation instructions to blow up the plane, according to U.S. officials.

In a statement released Monday morning, Mr. Abdulmutallab's family in Nigeria said that after his "disappearance and stoppage of communications while schooling abroad," his father reached out to Nigerian security agencies two months ago. The statement said the father then approached foreign security agencies for "their assistance to find and return him home."

Law enforcement officials said there is no evidence yet to indicate that Mr. Abdulmutallab was part of, or in contact with, any terror cell in the U.S. or the U.K., and that early evidence indicates he was radicalized through contacts with extremists via the Internet.

Federal prosecutors are expected on Monday to request a judge's permission to obtain DNA from Mr. Abdulmutallab to compare with DNA found on remains of the device taken from the aircraft.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation said the device contained the explosive PETN, which convicted "shoe bomber" Richard Reid used in his 2001 attempt to bring down a trans-Atlantic flight.

The Flight 253 Bomb AttemptBomb Suspect Was on U.K. Watch List Statement from Suspect's Family Latest Airline Incident in Detroit Not a Terror Threat Terror Watch Lists Come Under Scrutiny A Primer in PETN Yemeni Groups Increased Aviation Threats Airlines Face Delays Amid Extra Security Incident Highlights Nigeria Concerns Suspect's Privileged Existence Took a Radical Turn Routine Turned to Mayhem on Terror Flight Bombing Bid Spurs Air-Security Questions .

The FBI's office in Yemen is working with authorities there to track any recent travel by Mr. Abdulmutallab in that country.

On Monday, Dutch authorities said they are aiming to complete an investigation by Wednesday into the plot. Broader questions of whether Mr. Abdulmutallab "had any helpers, his motivations, his plans," would be investigated by the FBI and the U.S. authorities, said Judith Sluiter, a spokeswoman for the Dutch counter-terrorism office NCTB.

A preliminary investigation found no security breaches, Dutch authorities said. However, "even when a security check is properly conducted," the NCTB said in a statement, "the possibility cannot be ruled out of potentially dangerous objects being brought on board, particularly in the case of objects that are difficult to trace with existing security technology, such as metal detectors."

U.S. officials said the accused man's father, a prominent banker in Nigeria, had warned officials at the U.S. embassy in Lagos, Nigeria, in recent weeks that he feared his son had been "radicalized" during trips outside the West African country.

The father's concerns about his son weren't specific, nor did they point to any imminent threat against the U.S., according to a U.S. official. But they were enough for U.S. authorities to add his name to a broad terrorism database, called Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment. People on the list are not precluded from boarding flights to the U.S. Mr. Abdulmutallab wasn't added to more sensitive databases, such as the so-called "no fly" watch list, that would have flagged him for additional screening or barred him from boarding a U.S.-bound flight.

In June 2008, the U.S. Embassy in London had issued a multiyear, multientry tourist visa to Mr. Abdulmutallab, when the Nigerian national was a student living in the U.K., said a U.S. official. Mr. Abdulmutallab later left the U.K. and traveled to Dubai and Yemen. He was denied entry to the U.K. in May 2009 by border officials who said the school he proposed to attend wasn't legitimate.

Suspect's JourneyView Interactive

..Rep. Peter King of New York, the top Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee, said in an interview that briefings from U.S. security officials indicate that "the government definitely knew about [the alleged attacker]. They had a file on him. The question now is why wasn't he on the no-fly list."

According to a federal criminal complaint, Mr. Abdulmutallab boarded a Northwest flight, shared with Dutch Airline KLM, in Lagos on Thursday, then transferred to the Northwest airliner Friday in Amsterdam, bound for Detroit. He had a device attached to his body, according to the criminal complaint.

As the Airbus 330-300 carrying 289 people was approaching Detroit, Mr. Abdulmutallab went to the restroom for about 20 minutes. On returning to his seat, he stated that his stomach was upset, and he pulled a blanket over himself, according to the complaint. As the plane was heading for a landing at Detroit Metropolitan Airport, the complaint alleges, Mr. Abdulmutallab set off the device, causing a fire. He was subdued by passengers.

—Alex Kellogg, John Miller and the Associated Press contributed to this article.

Write to Evan Perez at and Peter Spiegel at

Best Summary Article I could find on the Internet....

The man who allegedly tried to blow up a transatlantic passenger jet over Detroit has reportedly claimed that he is one from a production line of terrorists that has been trained in Yemen by al-Qaeda.

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who is charged with the attempted Christmas Day bombing of Northwest Airlines flight 253, told FBI agents others with similar training to him were now ready to launch their own attacks, according to the US network ABC.

The claim came as al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula released its first communication since the failed bombing. In a written statement it called on "the people of the Arabian peninsula" to attack American military installations, ships and "spying embassies".

The US Embassy in Yemen was attacked by al-Qaeda affiliated terrorists in September 2008, and the USS Cole, a US Navy destroyer, was hit by al-Qaeda in 2000.

The attempted plane bombing on Christmas Day, which was intended to kill all 289 on board, failed only because the bomb's detonator did not work.

Pete Hoekstra, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, said: "I think it's very clear it came very, very close. The explosive device went off, it became an incendiary device instead of an explosive device, which is probably what saved that airplane."

President Obama interrupted his Christmas holiday to order two anti-terrorism reviews as aviation chiefs acted to close loopholes that let Mr Abdulmutallab, a known Nigerian extremist, take explosive materials on to the aircraft flying from Amsterdam.

The foiled attack came four days after a video was posted on extremist websites showing an al-Qaeda militant in Yemen warning: “We are carrying a bomb to hit the enemies of God.”

Mr Abdulmutallab, formerly a student in Britain, was overpowered as he tried to detonate explosives apparently sewn into his underpants. He emerged from the toilet, put a blanket on his lap complaining of an upset stomach, then tried to operate the bomb. Passengers and crew restrained him as flames leapt from his clothing.

Michael Rimmer, one of his former high school teachers, called him "a model student, very keen, very enthusiastic". Efemena Mokedi, a former classmate, said: "He was a very nice, friendly person. He was a person who did a lot of good things."

In e-mails sent over the last six years, and obtained by ABC News, Mr Abdulmutallab worried whether his religion would allow him to attend a high school prom and also about low college test scores. He expressed opposition to the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, and then prior to breaking with his parents, questioned whether it was okay to lie to deceive the enemy.

Following the attempt, emergency security measures were imposed in the United States and at Heathrow. In the final hour before landing in the US, passengers are now banned from standing up, using toilets and holding blankets. In-flight entertainment is being withdrawn where it includes maps of the plane’s location, for fear bombers will be able to pinpoint targets.

President Obama ordered a review of terrorist suspect lists when it emerged that Mr Abdulmutallab had been placed on a US intelligence database after a tip-off from his father. Officials failed to move him to the “no-fly” list.

The President also demanded a review into how the bomb was allowed on the plane. One security weakness may be transit passengers. The Nigerian suspect appears to have boarded in Lagos where he went through one metal detector and had his bag X-rayed before flying to Amsterdam. It is unclear how heavily he was searched when he changed flights at Schiphol. He managed to get a syringe on board. The bomb also consisted of powder in his underwear.

Fanatical Muslim terrorists have been experimenting to avoid searches. A senior British security source said: “The second novel device to emerge from the Yemen in recent months leads one to wonder if the al-Qaeda R&D [research and development] department has moved there.”

Christmas Bomber, Jet Bomber, Pants Bomber, Nigeran Bomber... who was he?

The family of a Nigerian man charged with trying to blow up a transatlantic jet on Christmas Day says his actions are "completely out of character".

They said that, until recently, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, 23, had never given them cause for concern.
His father, a prominent banker, alerted security agencies about two months ago when his son broke off communication.

Meanwhile, the UK said on Monday that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab had been on its security watch list.
This meant he could not come into the UK, although he could pass through the country in transit.
Home Secretary Alan Johnson said he had been refused a visa 14 months ago after applying to study at a bogus college.

'Sought help'
The Abdulmutallab family, based in Abuja, said that they "like the rest of the world were woken in the early hours" of 26 December to the news of their son's alleged attempt to blow up a flight between Amsterdam and Detroit.

“ From very early childhood, Farouk... had never shown any attitude, conduct or association that would give concern ”  Mutallab family statement

They said that prior to this event, his father, "having become concerned about his disappearance and decision to break off communication while schooling abroad", had approached security officials in Nigeria and overseas.

"We were hopeful that they would find and return him home," the statement said. "It was while we were waiting for the outcome of their investigation that we arose to the shocking news of that day."
The statement went on to say that the recent disappearance and end of all communication by their son was "completely out of character and a very recent development".

Until then, "from very early childhood, Farouk, to the best of parental monitoring, had never shown any attitude, conduct or association that would give concern".

"As soon as concern arose, very recently, his parents reported it and sought help."

The statement went on to say that the family would fully co-operate with any investigation, and gave thanks "that there were no lives lost in the incident".

Yemen link

The BBC's Caroline Duffield in Lagos says the suspect's father, Alhaji Umaru Abdulmutallab, is a prominent banker well-connected in Nigeria's political world.


•Son of a wealthy Nigerian businessman

•Attended a British school in Togo

•Studied mechanical engineering at University College London

•Spent time in Dubai, Yemen and Egypt

He is said to have approached the US embassy in Abuja in November to voice concerns about his son, who is a former engineering student at University College London.

The family have told the BBC Hausa service that they lost contact with Mr Abdulmutallab in October, when he was living in Yemen.

Mr Abdulmutallab's route began in Yemen, from where he travelled to Ethiopia, Ghana and Nigeria. On 24 December, he flew from Lagos to Amsterdam, where he boarded the flight to Detroit.

His name was on a security database of more than half a million individuals, known as Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment (Tide), but there was not enough information about his activities to place him on a blacklist that would have prevented him from flying.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2009/12/28 12:48:13 GMT

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Daniel Burd isolated and raised plastic bag decomposing bacteria from soil samples... as a Science Fair Project. Excellent Methodology. Interesting application. Major Award Winner!

Getting ordinary plastic bags to rot away like banana peels would be an environmental dream come true.

After all, we produce 500 billion a year worldwide and they take up to 1,000 years to decompose. They take up space in landfills, litter our streets and parks, pollute the oceans and kill the animals that eat them.

Now a Waterloo teenager has found a way to make plastic bags degrade faster -- in three months, he figures.

Daniel Burd's project won the top prize at the Canada-Wide Science Fair in Ottawa. He came back with a long list of awards, including a $10,000 prize, a $20,000 scholarship, and recognition that he has found a practical way to help the environment.

Daniel, a 16-year-old Grade 11 student at Waterloo Collegiate Institute, got the idea for his project from everyday life.

"Almost every week I have to do chores and when I open the closet door, I have this avalanche of plastic bags falling on top of me," he said. "One day, I got tired of it and I wanted to know what other people are doing with these plastic bags."

The answer: not much. So he decided to do something himself.

He knew plastic does eventually degrade, and figured microorganisms must be behind it. His goal was to isolate the microorganisms that can break down plastic -- not an easy task because they don't exist in high numbers in nature.

First, he ground plastic bags into a powder. Next, he used ordinary household chemicals, yeast and tap water to create a solution that would encourage microbe growth. To that, he added the plastic powder and dirt. Then the solution sat in a shaker at 30 degrees.

After three months of upping the concentration of plastic-eating microbes, Burd filtered out the remaining plastic powder and put his bacterial culture into three flasks with strips of plastic cut from grocery bags. As a control, he also added plastic to flasks containing boiled and therefore dead bacterial culture.

Six weeks later, he weighed the strips of plastic. The control strips were the same. But the ones that had been in the live bacterial culture weighed an average of 17 per cent less.

That wasn't good enough for Burd. To identify the bacteria in his culture, he let them grow on agar plates and found he had four types of microbes. He tested those on more plastic strips and found only the second was capable of significant plastic degradation.

Next, Burd tried mixing his most effective strain with the others. He found strains one and two together produced a 32 per cent weight loss in his plastic strips. His theory is strain one helps strain two reproduce.

Tests to identify the strains found strain two was Sphingomonas bacteria and the helper was Pseudomonas.

A researcher in Ireland has found Pseudomonas is capable of degrading polystyrene, but as far as Burd and his teacher Mark Menhennet know -- and they've looked -- Burd's research on polyethelene plastic bags is a first.

Next, Burd tested his strains' effectiveness at different temperatures, concentrations and with the addition of sodium acetate as a ready source of carbon to help bacteria grow.

At 37 degrees and optimal bacterial concentration, with a bit of sodium acetate thrown in, Burd achieved 43 per cent degradation within six weeks.

The plastic he fished out then was visibly clearer and more brittle, and Burd guesses after six more weeks, it would be gone. He hasn't tried that yet.

To see if his process would work on a larger scale, he tried it with five or six whole bags in a bucket with the bacterial culture. That worked too.

Industrial application should be easy, said Burd. "All you need is a fermenter . . . your growth medium, your microbes and your plastic bags."

The inputs are cheap, maintaining the required temperature takes little energy because microbes produce heat as they work, and the only outputs are water and tiny levels of carbon dioxide -- each microbe produces only 0.01 per cent of its own infinitesimal weight in carbon dioxide, said Burd.

"This is a huge, huge step forward . . . We're using nature to solve a man-made problem."

Burd would like to take his project further and see it be used. He plans to study science at university, but in the meantime he's busy with things such as student council, sports and music.

"Dan is definitely a talented student all around and is poised to be a leading scientist in our community," said Menhennet, who led the school's science fair team but says he only helped Burd with paperwork.

Other local students also did well at the national science fair.

Devin Howard of St. John's Kilmarnock School won a gold medal in life science and several scholarships.

Mackenzie Carter of St. John's Kilmarnock won bronze medals in the automotive and engineering categories.

Engineers Without Borders awarded Jeff Graansma of Forest Heights Collegiate a free trip to their national conference in January.

Zach Elgood of Courtland Avenue Public School got honourable mention in earth and environmental science.

OK, now I am just mining the Internet... what is an explosive? More history


An explosive is defined as a material (chemical or nuclear) that can be initiated to undergo very rapid, self-propagating decomposition that results in the formation of more stable material, the liberation of heat, or the development of a sudden pressure effect through the action of heat on produced or adjacent gases. All of these outcomes produce energy; a weapon's effectiveness is measured by the quantity of energy - or damage potential - it delivers to the target.

Modern weapons use both kinetic and potential energy to achieve maximum lethality. Kinetic energy systems rely on the conversion of kinetic energy to work, while potential energy systems use explosive energy directly in the form of heat and blast, or by accelerating metal as a shaped charge, EFP or case fragments to increase their kinetic energy and damage volume.

Energy may be broadly classified as potential or kinetic. Potential energy is energy of configuration or position, or the capacity to perform work. For example, the relatively unstable chemical bonds among the atoms that comprise trinitrotoluene (TNT) possess chemical potential energy. Potential energy can, under suitable conditions, be transformed into kinetic energy, which is energy of motion. When a conventional explosive such as TNT is detonated, the relatively unstable chemical bonds are converted into bonds that are more stable, producing kinetic energy in the form of blast and thermal energies. This process of transforming a chemical system's bonds from lesser to greater stability is exothermic (there is a net production of energy).

A chemical explosive is a compound or a mixture of compounds which, when subjected to heat, impact, friction, or shock, undergoes very rapid, self-propagating, heat- producing decomposition. This decomposition produces gases that exert tremendous pressures as they expand at the high temperature of the reaction. The work done by an explosive depends primarily on the amount of heat given off during the explosion. The term detonation indicates that the reaction is moving through the explosive faster than the speed of sound in the unreacted explosive; whereas, deflagration indicates a slower reaction (rapid burning). A high explosive will detonate; a low explosive will deflagrate. All commercial explosives except black powder are high explosives.

Low-order explosives (LE) create a subsonic explosion [below 3,300 feet per second] and lack HE's over-pressurization wave. Examples of LE include pipe bombs, gunpowder, and most pure petroleum-based bombs such as Molotov cocktails or aircraft improvised as guided missiles.

A High Explosive (HE) is a compound or mixture which, when initiated, is capable of sustaining a detonation shockwave to produce a powerful blast effect. A detonation is the powerful explosive effect caused by the propagation of a high-speed shockwave through a high explosive compound or mixture. During the process of detonation, the high explosive is largely decomposed into hot, rapidly expanding gas.

The most important single property in rating an explosive is detonation velocity, which may be expressed for either confined or un-confined conditions. It is the speed at which the detonation wave travels through the explosive. Since explosives in boreholes are confined to some degree, the confined value is the more significant. Most manufacturers, however, measure the detonation velocity in an unconfined column of explosive 1- i/4 in. in diameter. The detonation velocity of an explosive is dependent on the density, ingredients, particle size, charge diameter, and degree of confinement. Decreased particle size, increased charge diameter, and increased confinement all tend to increase the detonation velocity. Unconfined velocities are generally 70 to 80 percent of confined velocities.

The confined detonation velocity of commercial explosives varies from 4,000 to 25,000 fps. With cartridge explosives the confined velocity is seldom attained. Some explosives and blasting agents are sensitive to diameter changes. As diameter is reduced, the velocity is reduced until at some critical diameter, propagation is no longer assured and misfires are likely.

Relative effectiveness factor (R.E. factor) is a measurement of an explosive's power for military demolitions purposes. It measures the detonating velocity relative to that of TNT, which has an R.E. factor of 1.00. TNT equivalent is a measure of the energy released from the detonation of a nuclear weapon, or from the explosion of a given quantity of fissionable material, in terms of the amount of TNT (trinitrotoluene) which could release the same amount of energy when exploded. The twelve-kiloton Hiroshima atomic bomb had had a blast effect alone equivalent to some twenty-five million pounds of TNT-that's million.

Denser explosives usually give higher detonation velocities and pressures. A dense explosive may be desirable for difficult blasting conditions or where fine fragmentation is required. Low-density ex-plosives will suffice in easily fragmented or closely jointed rocks and are preferred for quarrying coarse material.

Energetic materials are made in two ways. The first is by physically mixing solid oxidizers and fuels, a process that, in its basics, has remained virtually unchanged for centuries. Such a process results in a composite energetic material such as black powder. The second process involves creating a monomolecular energetic material, such as TNT, in which each molecule contains an oxidizing component and a fuel component. For the composites, the total energy can be much greater than that of monomolecular materials. However, the rate at which this energy is released is relatively slow when compared to the release rate of monomolecular materials. Monomolecular materials such as TNT work fast and thus have greater power than composites, but they have only moderate energy densities-commonly half those of composites. Greater energy densities versus greater power-that's been the traditional trade-off.

Ingredients of high explosives are classified as explosive bases, combustibles, oxygen carriers, antacids, and absorbents. Some ingredients perform more than one function. An explosive base is a solid or liquid which, upon the application of sufficient heat or shock, decomposes to gases with an accompanying release of considerable heat. A combustible combines with excess oxygen to prevent the formation of nitrogen oxides. An oxygen carrier assures complete oxidation of the carbon to prevent the formation of carbon monoxide. The formation of nitrogen oxides or carbon monoxide, in addition to being undesirable from the standpoint of fumes, results in lower heat of explosion and efficiency than when carbon dioxide and nitrogen are formed. Antacids increase stability in storage, and absorb-ents absorb liquid explosive bases.

Explosives are classified as primary or secondary based on their susceptibility to initiation. Primary explosives, which include lead azide and lead styphnate, are highly susceptible to initiation. Primary explosives often are referred to as initiating explosives because they can be used to ignite secondary explosives. Secondary explosives, which include nitroaromatics and nitramines are much more prevalent at military sites than are primary explosives. Because they are formulated to detonate only under specific circumstances, secondary explosives often are used as main charge or bolstering explosives.

Secondary explosives can be loosely categorized into melt-pour explosives, which are based on nitroaromatics such as TNT, and plastic-bonded explosives which are based on a binder and crystalline explosive such as RDX.

Propellants include both rocket and gun propellants. Most rocket propellants are composites based on a rubber binder, ammonium perchlorate oxidizer, and a powdered aluminum fuel; or composites based on a nitrate esters, usually nitroglycerine or nitrocellulose and nitramines. If a binder is used, it usually is an isocyanate-cured polyester or polyether. Some propellants also contain combustion modifiers, such as lead oxide. One group of gun propellants are called "single base" (principally nitrocellulose), "double base" (nitrocellulose and nitroglycerine), or "triple base" (nitrocellulose, nitroglycerine, and nitroguanidine). Some of the newer, lower vulnerability gun propellants contain polymer binders and crystalline nitramines.

Pyrotechnics include illuminating flares, signaling flares, colored and white smoke generators, tracers, incendiary delays, fuses, and photo-flash compounds. Pyrotechnics usually are composed of an inorganic oxidizer and metal powder in a binder. Illuminating flares contain sodium nitrate, magnesium, and a binder. Signaling flares contain barium, strontium, or other metal nitrates.

Explosive and incendiary (fire) bombs are further characterized based on their source. "Manufactured" implies standard military-issued, mass produced, and quality-tested weapons. "Improvised" describes weapons produced in small quantities, or use of a device outside its intended purpose, such as converting a commercial aircraft into a guided missile. Manufactured (military) explosive weapons are exclusively HE-based. Terrorists will use whatever is available - illegally obtained manufactured weapons or improvised explosive devices (also known as "IEDs") that may be composed of HE, LE, or both. Manufactured and improvised bombs cause markedly different injuries.

Plastic explosive means an explosive material in flexible or elastic sheet form formulated with one or more high explosives which in their pure form has a vapor pressure less than 10-4 Pa at a temperature of 25 deg. C., is formulated with a binder material, and is as a mixture malleable or flexible at normal room temperature.

The energetic materials used by the military as propellants and explosives are mostly organic compounds containing nitro (NO2) groups. The three major classes of these energetic materials are nitroaromatics (e.g., tri-nitrotoluene or TNT), nitramines (e.g., hexahydro-1,3,5 trinitroazine or RDX), and nitrate esters (e.g., nitrocellulose and nitroglycerine).

Since the invention of the cannon, the explosive fills used to drive lethal mechanisms have been the subject of ever increasing interest and study. Traditionally, munitions designers have used such ex-plosives as Comp-B, TNT, or LX-14, depending upon the particular application.

During the 1920s and into the 1940s, the Army's Picatinny Arsenal was instrumental in designing, modeling and evaluating such high explosive material as TNT, RDX, and Haleite. This work greatly influenced battlefield lethality during WWII where explosives exhibiting a higher brisance, or shattering effect, than TNT were in great demand.

The 1960s brought new explosives such as HMX that was chemically analogous to RDX, but even more powerful to give soldiers greater lethality capability. Picatinny laboratories also developed precision warheads for several missile systems, including the DRAGON-MAW, a Medium Antiarmor Weapon.

The Army uses Research Department Explosive (RDX) and High Melt Explosive (HMX) as basic explosives for munitions and tactical missiles as well as propellants for strategic missiles rather than TNT because of their superior energy.

Most modern explosives are reasonably stable and require percussive shock or other triggering devices for detonation. Energetic materials are especially vulnerable to elevated temperature, with possible consequences ranging from mild decomposition to vigorous deflagration or detonation. Energetic materials can also be initiated by mechanical work through friction, impact, or electricity (e.g., current flow, spark, electrostatic discharge, or electromagnetic radiation). Other stimuli (e.g., focused laser light or chemical incompatibility) can have consequences ranging from mild decomposition to detonation.

Explosives may be toxic, with exposure pathways being inhalation of dust or vapor, ingestion, or skin contact. Most explosives are not highly toxic, but improper handling can result in systemic poisoning, usually affecting the bone marrow (i.e., the blood cell-producing system) and the liver. Some explosives are vasodilators, which cause headaches, low blood pressure, chest pains, and possible heart attacks. Some explosives may irritate the skin.

Some detonation or combustion products from explosives are toxic. Such products can be respiratory and skin irritants and lead to systemic effects following short-term exposure to high levels. Soot from detonated explosives is not mutagenic; however, soot from burned gun propellants may be mutagenic and is therefore treated as a mutagen.

Fortunately, contamination usually occurs in dilute, aqueous solutions or in relatively low concentrations in the soil and present no explosion hazard. Masses of pure crystalline explosive material have, however, been encountered in soils associated with wastewater lagoons, leach pits, burn pits, and firing ranges. These materials remain hazardous for long periods of time and great care must be used during the investigation and remediation process.

Molecular weights are moderate, of the order of a few hundreds of grams per mole. The molecular structure, particularly the types and positions of subsidiary functional groups, controls environmental behavior.

All of the common explosives are solid at normal environmental temperatures and pressures. Melting point temperatures for explosives solids are moderate (50-205 0C). Melting points are of little direct value in predicting environmental fate and transport, but several parameter estimation relations for solids incorporate the influence of molecular crystal bonding by including a term dependent on the melting point. Melting points are not available for many of the breakdown products. Most of the explosives and associated contaminants have very low volatility, with vapor pressures estimated to be less than 6 x 10-4 torr. Henry's law constants (KH) range from 10-4 to 10-11 atm·m-2·mole-1. Only those with KH greater than 10-5 volatilize significantly from aqueous solution 12. Though explosives compounds may not be volatile, some of the transformation products, other key reactants, or products may be volatile to semivolatile.

Short History of Modern Explosives ....


Nitrate esters

On December 25, 2009, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a Nigerian national, was accused of trying to ignite an incendiary device aboard a Northwest Airlines Flight headed to Detroit, MI; an act the White House declared "an attempted act of terrorism". The incendiary device was later identified by authorities of being a PETN-based device.

Nitrate (NO3-) (CAS No. 014797-55-8) is an inorganic anion resulting from the oxidation of elemental nitrogen. It is an essential nutrient for plant protein synthesis and plays a critical role in the nitrogen cycle of soil and water. Nitrates are produced by natural biological and physical oxidations and therefore are ubiquitous in the environment (Ridder and Oehme 1974). Most nitrate compounds are strong oxidizing agents and some can react violently with oxidizable substances and may explode if exposed to heat or shock.

Nitrates are produced by natural biological and physical oxidations and therefore are ubiquitous in the environment. Most of the excess nitrates in the environment originate from inorganic chemicals manufactured for agriculture. Organic molecules containing nitrate groups are manufactured primarily for explosives or for their pharmacological effects

NC [Nitrocellulose]

for many centuries gunpowder was the world's only explosive, and was not superseded until the discovery of guncotton. So long ago as 1832 Bracon discovered that woody fiber could be turned into an explosive by the action of concentrated nitric acid; and a few years later a French inventor, Dumas, tried to make cartridges of paper treated in similar fashion. If he had succeeded these would have been the first smokeless cartridges, but he failed; and it was not until 1845 that Schönbein, a German chemist, hit upon the proper method of treating cotton wool with nitric and sulphuric acids, so as to turn it into guncotton.

In 1847 an English firm, Messrs. Hall and Son of Faversham, began to manufacture guncotton, and military experts hailed it as the new explosive which would take the place of gunpowder. But this explosive was so terribly powerful that, when used in a gun or rifle, it blew the barrel to pieces. Worse than that, it was most dangerous to manufacture.

Two main problems had to be solved before it could be used as a gun propellant. First, the velocity of the explosion had to be reduced so that the charge weight required to propel the projectile would not shatter the gun tube. second, the density had to be increased so that a given charge weight would pack into a reasonable space. The first problem was solved in part by igniting NC instead of firing it with a detonator. The solution to the second problem actually solved both. In 1886, Vielle first colloided or gelatinized NC with alcohol and ether and, thus reduced the burning rate to acceptable levels. The procedure significantly increased the loading density of NC, establishing it as the foundational element in gun propellants used through the present day. Further developments resulted in materials that could be added to improve stowage qualities, reduce or eliminate flash, reduce hygroscopicity, reduce flame temperature, and even increase the propellant force or impetus.

Munitions manufacturing processes may generate nitrocellulose (NC) fines. Disposal of these fines is difficult because of their reactive nature. Composting has potential to be a safe and cost effective means of disposal. Open burning is no longer permitted in several states and is expected to banned nationally in the future. Open detonation is also the least acceptable form of disposal because of uncontrolled pollution by-products. In its role as the Department of Defense Manager for conventional munitions, Army must be able to dispose of Propellants/Explosives/Pyrotechnics production wastes. In composting, a controlled biological process, microorganisms convert biodegradable hazardous material to innocuous, stabilized by-products, typically at elevated temperatures between 50 - 55 °C. The increased temperatures result from heat produced by the microorganisms as they degrade the organic material in the waste. The NC fines are mixed with bulking agents and organic amendments, such as wood chips and animal and vegetable wastes, to enhance the porosity of the mixture. Maintaining moisture content, pH, oxygenation, temperature, and the carbon-to-nitrogen ratio achieves maximum degradation efficiency.

NG [Nitroglycerin ]

Nitroglycerin (NG) [Synonyms: 1,2,3-Propanetriol trinitrate; glycerol trinitrate; nitroglycerol; NG; trinitroglycerol; NTG; trinitrin] is an oily liquid at room temperature; colorless in pure form and pale yellow or brown in commercial form. It is used in manufacture of dynamite, gunpowder, and rocket propellants, and as a therapeutic agent primarily to alleviate angina pectoris. NG is used to make smokeless gun powder and rocket propellants. Single-base powders contain only nitrocellulose, double-base powders contain nitrocellulose and NG, and triple-base powders contain nitrocellulose, NG, and other combustible materials.

In 1847 a new explosive came into being. This was nitroglycerine, made by treating glycerine with nitric and sulphuric acids. But at first it was even more dangerous to handle than guncotton, for the least shock exploded it, and its violence was terrific.

The great chemist Alfred Nobel tried to improve it by mixing it with gunpowder, but the powder did not absorb all the nitroglycerine, and accidents of the most terrible kind became more and more frequent. Yet the new explosive, being liquid, could be poured into crevices in rocks, and was so useful as a blasting agent that its manufacture went on until a large vessel carrying cases of the explosive from Hamburg to Chili blew up at sea. The ship was blown to bits and her crew killed, and the disaster caused so great a sensation that the manufacture of nitroglycerine was prohibited in Sweden, Belgium, and in England. But Nobel still continued his experiments, and at last, after trying sawdust and all other sorts of absorbents in vain, found the perfect absorbent in the shape of keiselguhr-a sort of earth made of fossil shells. The mixture is what we know to-day as dynamite; and in spite of the fact that modern chemistry has produced very many new explosives, some of terrific power, dynamite remains the safest and most widely used of all explosives.

Nitroglycerin (NG) is a vasodilator and has been associated with acute episodes of angina pectoris, myocardial infraction, and sudden death. Workers engaged in the production or use of dynamite are potentially exposed to mixed vapors of nitroglycerin (NG) and ethylene glycol dinitrate (EGDN). Initial exposure to NG (or NG:EGDN mixtures) characteristically results in an intense throbbing headache that begins in the forehead and moves to the occipital region. Volunteers developed mild headaches when exposed to NG:EGDN vapor at concentrations of 0.5mg/m^3 for 25 minutes. It has been suggested that at least some workers may develop headaches at concentrations in excess of 0.1 mg/m^3. Other signs and symptoms associated with initial exposure include dizziness, nausea, palpitations, and decreases in systolic, diastolic, and pulse pressures. These initial signs and symptoms, including headache, are indicative of a shift in blood volume form the central to the peripheral circulatory system, initiated by dilation of the blood vessels.

After 2 to 4 days of repeated NG exposure, tolerance to the vasodilatory activity occurs, probably as a result of compensatory vasoconstriction. Tolerance may be lost during periods without NG exposure, such as weekends and holidays. Chronic repeated exposures to NG and NG mixtures also have been associated with more serious cardiovascular effects, including angina pectoris and sudden death.

Signs and symptoms of ischemic heart disease were observed in nine munitions workers involved in handling a nitroglycerin-cellulose mixture. Within 1 to 4 years of initial exposure, these workers developed nonexertional chest pain, which was relieved either by therapeutic nitroglycerin or by returning to work after the weekend. Coronary angiography performed in five of the patients showed no obstructive lesions. In one patient, observed while in a withdrawal state, coronary artery spasm was demonstrated and readily reversed by sublingual nitroglycerin.

Sudden deaths in previously healthy workers have been reported among those exposed to NG or to NG: EGDN mixtures. Like the attacks of angina pectoris, sudden deaths occurred most frequently during brief periods away from work, in particular on Sunday nights or Monday mornings. In most cases, there were no premonitory signs or symptoms although some subjects had anginal episodes during brief periods away from work. Atherosclerotic plaques, with or without thrombosis, have been found in the coronary arteries of workers at autopsy, but their coronary arteries generally were not occluded to the same extent as those of unexposed workers who had died suddenly.

The pathogenesis of the sudden death syndrome has been postulated to be due to withdrawal of coronary vasodilators (e.g. NG), resulting in vasoconstriction with acute hypertension, or with myocardial ischemia in workers adapted to and dependent on NG to maintain a minimum level of coronary flow. A second contributing mechanism for coronary artery toxicity due to NG may relate to so-called aging of the vessels due to repeated dilation. Other theories suggest that sudden deaths may be related to peripheral vasodilation consequent to reexposure of NG.

Estimates of exposure levels associated with sudden death have not been made because workers typically absorb considerable amounts of NG through the skin in addition to inhalation.

Employees handling NG should be given personal protective equipment to prevent the absorption of NG through the skin. However, neither natural rubber nor synthetic rubber gloves, including neoprene gloves, are impervious to NG. The wearing of such gloves tends to hold the chemical in contact with the skin, thus promoting its absorption. Preferably, cotton-lining gloves should be worn underneath nitrile gloves and both gloves changed ever 2-1/2 hours (USAEHA Technical Guide 24).

More recent studies have suggested that the effects of long-term workplace exposure to NG may not be completely reversed after exposure is terminated. Former workers may be at increased risk for cardiovascular mortality for months to years after exposure has ceased.

Individuals with preexisting ischemic heart disease should not be assigned to work where significant exposure to NG may occur. Early identification of cardiovascular disease is the primary goal of medical surveillance of nitroglycerin workers. A preplacement examination must be administered to all new employees occupational histories, a physical examination, and indicated laboratory tests, record of their pulse rates. Periodic examinations should be conducted semiannually, with the same focus as the preplacement examination. During the periodic examination, the physician should be aware that headaches that occur during work shifts could indicate skin absorption of nitroglycerin, even if air concentrations of nitroglycerin are below the PEL. Examinations with similar content are necessary when exposure to nitroglycerin has been terminated, although surveillance should perhaps extend beyond employment, due to the latency of the withdrawal effects. Monitoring should include pulse, blood pressure, CBC, urinalysis, resting EKG and lipid profile.

PETN [Pentaerythritol tetranitrate]

Pentaerythritol tetranitrate, C5H8N4012 (PETN), has a specific gravity of solids of 1.76 and a confined detonation velocity of over 25,000 fps. PETN is used as a priming composition in detonators, a base charge in blasting caps, and a core load for detonating fuse. PETN is very much used in Detonating Cord of which it is the explosive core (Primacord), where it develops a velocity rate of 21,000 feet per second. Detonating cord is insensitive to friction and ordinary shock, but may be exploded by rifle fire. It also detonates sympathetically with the detonation of an adjacent high explosive.

PETN is one of the strongest known high explosives with a relative effectiveness factor (R.E. factor) of 1.66. It is more sensitive to shock or friction than TNT or tetryl, and it is never used alone as a booster. It is primarily used in booster and bursting charges of small caliber ammunition, in upper charges of detonators in some land mines and shells, and as the explosive core of primacord.

During World War II the M9A1 2.36" Rocket Launcher (Bazooka) charge, with 8 oz of pentolite, could penetrate up to 5 inches of armor.

Demolition charge, M118, commonly called Flex-X or sheet explosive, consists of 4 half-pound sheets of flexible explosive packed in a plastic envelope. Each sheet is approximately 3 inches wide, 12 inches long, and 1/4 inch thick. Note: The exact explosive contained in an M118 charge varies with the manufacturer. At present, some manufacturers use PETN as the basic explosive. Others use RDX. Charges manufactured in the future may include other explosives.

PETN does not occur naturally, so the production and use of this kind of compound can lead to contamination of the environment. PETN is subject to biodegradation in untreated or unpreserved urine and feces. There also have been some reports of its degradation by bacteria, whose PETN reductase sequentially denitrates PETN into tri- and dinitrates (French et al., 1996). The last compound shown in the pathway, pentaerythritol dinitrate, is degraded further to unknown products.

In 1995 Haustein KO, Winkler U, Loffler A, Huller G. of the Abteilung Klinische Pharmakologie, Medizinische Hochschule Erfurt, Germany reported on a study of PETN's cardiovascular effects. The effects of 80 mg pentaerithrityl-tetranitrate (PETN) as suspension or formulated as tablets were compared to placebo in a single blind, randomized, crossover study in 18 healthy subjects (study A), and the bioequivalence of two tablet formulations (marketed Dilcoran 80 vs a new formulation) was studied in 24 healthy subjects after administration of single oral doses of 80 mg PETN according to a placebo controlled, randomized, double blind, two-way crossover study design (study B). The perfusion of the right middle finger was measured by rheography (altitude A of the changes of resistance and of the incisure D) before and 24 h post-dose, and blood pressure and heart rate were measured in supine position at the same time. The values of area under curve (AUC) of the ratio A/D were calculated by the trapezoidal rule. In study A the mean A/D-values were reduced from about 2.0 to about 1.3 after intake of PETN (solution or tablet) with a minimum 60 to 90 min postdose (solution) and 2 h postdose (tablet). A significant reduction in this ratio was seen up to 8 (solution) or 12 h (tablet) post dose. Changes in blood pressure were not observed while the heart rate decreased in the subjects of all three groups 1 to 2 h postdose followed by an increase by 6 to 10 beats per min. After subtraction of the AUC values of placebo from the PETN-derived AUC values, mean values of 6.61 (SD 1.52, solution) and 7.25 (SD 1.48, A/D*h, tablet) were calculated (p > 0.1, study A).

EGDN [ethylene glycol dinitrate]

Ethylene Glycol Dinitrate [SYNONYM(s): Glycol dinitrate; Nitroglycol; Dinitroglycol; EGDN; Glycerin trinitrate] is a colorless to yellow, oily, odorless liquid. It is an explosive ingredient (60-80%) in dynamite along with nitroglycerine (40-20%).

EGDN and NG are used with a mixture of sodium nitrate and an absorbent, often wood pulp, to produce dynamite. EGDN is added to lower the freezing point of the EGDN/NG mixture and is currently the major component. The EGDN/NG ratio is about 8/2 or 9/1. This is the only commercial use for EGDN. Because EGDN is more volatile than NG, there is usually more airborne EGDN than NG from the dynamite mixture. In 1976, about 250 million pounds of dynamite, containing 5 to 50% EGDN/NG, were produced by U.S. manufacturers.

Headaches have developed in workers exposed to 0.4 to 0.67 mg/m3 for 25 minutes; all workers had decreases in blood pressure [Trainor and Jones 1966]. Ethylene glycol dinitrate and nitroglycerine are vasodilators and initial exposures result in headache, dizziness, nausea, or decreases in blood pressure; however, workers became tolerant of the vasodilatory activity after 2 to 4 days of exposure.

Angina pectoris has been reported among workers who were exposed to EGDN and/or NG. In those affected, the angina usually occurred in periods away from work. Sudden deaths without any apparent cause have also been reported among these workers. The deaths, like the angina, occurred more frequently during periods away from work. In most cases, the workers who died suddenly had no symptoms other than angina during periods away from work. The deaths are thought to be related to compensatory vasoconstriction (tolerance) induced by repeated exposure to the substances. Vasoconstriction is thought to lead to spasms of the coronary arteries and then the related angina pectoris and sudden deaths.

No data on acute inhalation toxicity are available on which to base the IDLH for ethylene glycol dinitrate (EGDN) and/or nitroglycerin. The chosen IDLH, therefore, is based on chronic toxicity data concerning the physiological response of animals to EGDN. According to Patty [1963], rats and guinea pigs survived 6 months of exposure to 500 mg/m3 (80 ppm) EGDN with the only effect being slight drowsiness and some Heinz body formation [Stein 1956]. Although Patty [1963] stated that EGDN is more toxic for cats and rabbits, the chosen IDLH is still probably conservative because cats given 2­hour daily exposures to 21 ppm EGDN for 1,000 days exhibited only marked blood changes [von Oettingen 1946]. However, because of the assigned protection factor afforded by each device, 2,000 × the OSHA PEL of 0.1 mg/m3 (i.e., 200 mg/m3) is the concentration above which only the "most protective" respirators are permitted.