FROM Chris Hawley
Can We Have a 'Pandemic' without the Panic? The World Health Organization says all of humanity is now under threat from a swine flu pandemic, but nobody knows how severe it might turn out to be. Compared to the flu epidemics that occur every year, not that many people have died, and the WHO's warning is designed to keep things from getting worse. Mexico City, near where the outbreak began, is virtually shut down. But experts are warning about the dangers of over-reaction. Today President Obama called a cabinet meeting to talk the H1N1 virus, which officials are calling by its scientific name because it's now transmitted from human to human and not just from pigs. He cautioned against “alarm,” but acknowledged the need to prepare for the long term “since we know that these kinds of threats can emerge at any moment.“ The virus cannot be stopped by shutting down borders, so what can be done? Are public health systems prepared? If it gets worse, can a vaccine be ready in time?
Buying, Selling and Using Assault Weapons in the US The International Association of Police Chiefs reports that high-caliber automatic weapons are increasingly common on the streets of American cities. Local police departments are fighting back with military-style armament of their officers. But there's dispute about whether the arms race started when the federal Assault Weapons Ban expired three years ago or long before that. Was the ban really all that effective? Are there other reasons both cops and criminals are more heavily armed? How come so many US assault weapons are turning up in Mexico? We hear from journalists, industry and policy and gun-safety experts.
Trump's ethical conflicts pile up as transparency diminishes President Trump's refusal to reveal his income tax returns is just one example of a lack of transparency that could be hiding conflicts of interest. Other conflicts are already obvious from his appointments. And he's being sued for using his job to increase his profits.
Is Venezuela becoming a dictatorship? Venezuela may have the world's largest oil reserves, but it's a nation in trouble… economically and politically. Is a populist promise to rescue democracy turning out to be a prelude to dictatorship?
The flight bumping heard around 'round the world Recent video of a passenger forcibly removed from a United Airlines plane is a worst-case example of what's happened since consolidation into just four US-based carriers. Management seems to be tone-deaf to a decline in service — and even abuse — of passengers.