Clem’s Chronicles: H1N1 vaccine begins to arrive/Afghanistan/Indonesia

By Clem Lane

Oct 5, 2009 9:38pm

Happy Monday folks. Here's what's happening this evening…..

H1N1 VACCINE ARRIVES-It’s a beginning. The first of the new vaccine developed to combat the H1N1 virus arrived in at least 14 states today-albeit in only the “nasal spray” variety.John McKenzie was on hand in Memphis, Tennessee this morning at a hospital that was “the first to offer the new vaccine.” McKenzie, filing for WORLD NEWS, added that there was “only enough today for a hundred health care workers, but it marks the beginning of a mammoth, nationwide effort.” When can we expect to see a larger vaccine shipment? McKenzie again: “Later this week, 6 to 7 million doses of ‘injectable’ vaccine will be shipped across the country to hospitals and clinics, schools and doctor’s offices. Followed by another 20 million doses every week.” Americans who may have neglected to focus on the vaccine and its’ use for their children and high-risk folks with “underlying conditions” seem to be focusing now-doctors across the country report being swamped with phone calls from folks looking to get vaccinated and seeking reassurance on the safety of the vaccine. Dr. Richard Besser was asked by WORLD NEWS anchor Charles Gibson about timing-i.e. when will folks be getting access to the vaccine. Remember-patience is a virtue! Besser: “It will be weeks, if not more than a month, before there’s enough vaccine for all those people who want the vaccine.” Besser also offered up the following info on how to find out when and where to get the vaccine. Besser: “Flu.gov. They’re building a clearinghouse there. Right now they have all the sites where you can get seasonal flu vaccine. If you go to that and click on your state, they will give you phone numbers and websites to get information on when you can get the vaccine.” Gibson also asked Besser about the “nasal spray” variety-as effective as the “injectable”? Besser: “The nasal spray works very well for people who don’t have impaired immune systems. So healthy children and adults between 2 and 49, it’s perfectly safe and effective to get the nasal flu vaccine.” Roger Sergel noted tonight that he received a missive  “from Nebraska Medical Center suggesting there will be some pediatric patients who get the vaccine tomorrow.”

AFGHANISTAN LATEST:  Today we learned more details about the deadly attack against a US base in Afghanistan that left 8 American troops dead and 24 injured.  Chris Cuomo reports:   “Fighters boldly attacked US and Afghan forces in a battle that raged all day long.  Armed with heavy machine guns and rocket propelled grenades, the insurgents used the mountainous terrain to their advantage – shooting down on the American compound in the valley.  They advanced from low lying areas as well, using a nearby mosque as a base.  Their most effective weapon may have been a fire, fanned by high winds that ignited the compound, forcing troops literally into a corner – visibility for air support – extremely difficult.”  Nick Schifrin reports more details on the attack:  “The fire forced US troops back into one compound – meaning they were actually hunkered down at one point as the fighters sporadically gained access to the camp itself.  The insurgents didn’t only strike from the mosque and the local village – they had the high ground throughout the attack…The insurgents brought along a Dishka – a 50 caliber, heavy machine gun – and were firing that into the compounds. The main, initial goal of the air support was to take out that machine gun.”  A military official also tells ABC’s Nick Schifrin that “the U.S. believes the insurgents somehow started the fire. ‘They burned the base down,’ says the official.”  Karen Russo, embedded with a medical unit that responded to the attack and the only journalist on the scene, gives us these details on the heroics: “There were actually several wounded and injured soldiers who were at these attacked bases who refused medical care.  They stayed and fought while wounded because they didn’t want to leave their base.  They didn’t actually have blood on the bases…so the soldiers were actually giving blood and they were quickly transfusing it into the soldiers who were wounded.”  As for who was behind the attack – Schifrin reports it was “Taliban fighters, but ‘almost certainly’ backed by Hezb-e-Islami, which is run by militant commander Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.”  On WORLD NEWS, Charles Gibson asked why such a small group of troops were stationed in the valley, making them vulnerable to attacks.  Martha Raddatz told us that it was “one of the big questions…those remote bases for a long time have been questionable. There are many in the military who say ‘what are we doing there?’  And a lot of soldiers feel very, very vulnerable there. They’re down in the valley; they don’t have a lot of choices of where they would put those bases.  I think you’ll see a lot of those bases closing down. It’s one of the things General Stanley McChrystal wants to do.  He wants to move the troops into bigger population areas where they can do more good.”  On the public debate between military commanders and the administration on the strategy in Afghanistan, Raddatz said Secretary Gates wants the debate to remain behind closed doors: “He doesn’t want this fight to be in public about whether there are more troops or not.  What Secretary Gates said today was, ‘in this process of deliberation it is imperative that all of us taking part in these deliberations, civilians and military alike, provide our best advice to the president candidly but privately.  [This] follows some comments that General McChrystal made last Friday where he publicly criticized any other plan but his own.”
Tomorrow morning at 8:30am ET four of the victims from the weekend’s attack will arrive at Dover Air Force Base. CNN is the DC Network pool for that event. (thanks to Marisa Bramwell for this entry)

LETTERMAN APOLOGIZES, AGAIN:  Tonight David Letterman apologizes again on his show for having multiple affairs with female staff members.   “I’m terribly sorry that I put the staff in that position,” Letterman said.  “Inadvertently, I just wasn’t thinking ahead. “  The comedian also apologizes to his wife, Regina: “She has been horribly hurt by my behavior, and when something happens like that, if you hurt a person and it’s your responsibility, you try to fix it.  And at that point, there’s only two things that can happen:  either you’re going to make some progress and get it fixed, or you’re going to fall short and perhaps not get it fixed, so let me tell you folks, I got my work cut out for me.”  (thanks to Marisa Bramwell for this entry)

INDONESIA-Rescue workers have given up the search for more survivors from last week’s big earthquake. Clarissa Ward traveled to the remote village of Kampong Bonai and notes “The people of this village are just now receiving aid for the first time. For the last 5 days, they’ve been living here with no power, no water…entire families living off a bag of rice and a single egg.” The official death toll stands at more than 600 but authorities are warning of hundreds if not thousands of additional fatalities buried under rubble.

HEALTH CARE/OBAMA LOOKS TO DOCS TO HELP SPREAD THE WORD-So what do you do when a good percentage of the American people don’t trust you on health-care reform? If you’re President Obama, you go to the family doctor to make your appeal. Today, 150 doctors clad in white coats filled the White House Rose Garden for Obama's latest health care overhaul pitch. Obama told the physicians representing all 50 states, "Nobody has more credibility with the American people on this issue than you do." And he said that one of the most telling things in the health care debate is "some of the people who are most supportive of reform are the very medical professionals who know the health care system best." To that end, David Wright noted on the “POLITICAL PUNCH” page at ABCNEWS.COM, “The President called for the doctors in support of reform to fan out across the country to make the case for why reform is so needed.”

HEALTH CARE/LOOKING AHEAD AT WHEN WE MIGHT SEE SOME LEGISLATION-Jon Karl sent a pretty swell note to the Political DL looking at timing and what the sticking points of the various versions of the bills might be. This entry focuses on the timing-here’s Jon Karl on the Senate: “The Senate Finance Committee finished work on its bill last week and is now waiting for an official cost estimate (aka “score”) from the Congressional Budget Office.   A CBO score is expected Wednesday, setting the stage for a committee vote on Thursday – but nobody knows for sure when CBO will be done.  The committee is waiting to vote because Senator Olympia Snowe — the only Republican on the committee who could vote “yes” — doesn’t want to vote until she knows the cost of the bill.  After the Finance Committee votes, Harry Reid will lead an effort to merge that bill with a more liberal version passed on July 15 by the Senate health committee.   This will likely mean a week or so of intense closed-door meetings involving Democratic leaders, key Democratic moderates, Olympia Snowe and the White House. Next, the Senate will begin debating the merged bill, a process that will likely take at least two weeks.  It seems now that the earliest the Senate debate can start is the week of October 19.”
Mr. Karl on where things stand in the House of Representatives:
“Meanwhile in the House …. Speaker Pelosi is working with Democratic leaders, progressives and moderates to combine the three different bills passed by committees in the House.   House Democrats will slow-walk this process because they don’t want to vote until the Senate has either passed or bill or is on the verge of passing one. This gets less attention, but these are tough negotiations.”
Then? Karl: “Finally – the big show.  Negotiators from the House, Senate and White House will attempt to combine the House and Senate versions of the bill in what will be an intense series of House-Senate conference negotiations.  The final version would then be voted on in both House and Senate.”

SCOTUS/NEW TERM BEGINS-The Supreme Court opened its’ new term today. How did the newest Justice fare? Terry Moran sent a note to the SCOTUS DL which read in part “Change is in the air; the High Court is a court in transition. There was the newest justice, Sonia Sotomayor, way over at the far end of the sweeping bench, firing questions at the lawyers in the first case of the term (though she’d already made an appearance on that bench last month in a re-hearing of the critical campaign-finance case from last term, which she will now help decide). The first case of this new term is a case about Miranda rights. The issue: once a suspect asks for a lawyer and a police interrogation stops, can it resume two years and seven months later, or does a person’s invocation of their Miranda rights last, essentially, forever? The closer you look at the case the messier it gets (the Supremes only get the messy ones), and Sotomayor seemed entirely at home up there.”
 
OTHER STUFF-
BROOKE ASTOR TRIAL-Jurors deliberating for an eighth day got a pep talk from Judge Kirke A. Bartley today and were told to “hang in there”. A disagreement between jurors is believed to have sparked the group to let the judge know that they are having trouble reaching a verdict. Jurors were excused for the day and will resume deliberations tomorrow.
US SCHOOLS/JUNK FOOD- Thirty four states participated in the CDC study, and the results show that more and more schools are limiting students access to sodas, sweets, and salty foods.  Getting the stamp for healthiest?  More than two thirds of secondary schools in Hawaii, Connecticut, California and Maine do not sell baked goods, salty snacks, candy, or soda. Most improved?  That title goes to Mississippi and Tennessee, increasing the number of schools that did not sell soda or fruit drinks by nearly 200%. (Lisa Chinn)
ERIN ANDREWS STALKER FED COURT APPEARANCE TODAY- Michael David Barrett, the man who allegedly stalked and secretly took nude videos of ESPN reporter Erin Andrews, appeared in Federal Court in Chicago today. Judge Arlander Keys ruled that Barrett will be released on 4,500 confinement bond. He must wear an electronic monitoring device at all times. He is allowed to go to work but he has a curfew of 9pm-6am. He must remain in the northern district of IL at all times until he travels to California for his arraignment there. He is not allowed to have any access to the internet or email. He must appear in court in central California on Oct 23rd 2009 at 2:00pm. (Justin Weaver/Susan Caraher)
DALLAS BOMB PLOT CASE TO PROCEED- A judge has ruled there is enough evidence to continue the case against a Jordanian teenager accused of trying to blow up a Dallas skyscraper. FBI Special Agent Tom Petrowski testified today that 19-year-old Hosam Maher Smadi had researched how to use a cell phone to detonate a bomb. He also says Smadi made a 7-minute video he believed would be transmitted to Osama bin Laden. Smadi is charged with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction. His attorney, assistant federal public defender Peter Fleury, did not returns calls for comment. In Jordan, Smadi's father has said his son is innocent. No dates have been set for a trial or any preliminary hearings. (AP/Jim Scholz)
GAS PRICES DOWN AGAIN-This is the eighth week in a row where gas prices have fallen. The government’s weekly report shows that the national average price of gasoline has dropped three cents in the past seven days, to a national average price of $2.47 a gallon. Drivers are still enjoying a significant 29% savings at the pump when compared to the average price paid a year ago ($3.48). (Dan Arnall)

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