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 fires FBI Director James Comey Vice President Mike Pence took the Administration's lead today in explaining why the President fired the Head of the FBI, saying, "The president made the right decision at the right time." Trump's action is being compared to the so-called "Saturday Night Massacre" that led to President Richard Nixon's resignation in 1973.
A New York Times op-ed on climate change sparks uproar The New York Times is embroiled in a public furor over a new columnist, who wrote that scientific uncertainty is reason for debate about climate change. Many conservatives are delighted. Is America's leading liberal newspaper fostering climate denial? This is the latest in our series, "The Emotional States of America."
Healthcare debate now shifts to the Senate Both parties are celebrating yesterday's House bill to repeal and replace Obamacare. House Republicans are cheering because they were able to pass it. Democrats are happy because they think it's so bad. We look at the details… and the politics.