Big News, Small Pox

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U.S. troops training for biological warfare / Air Force photo by Joe Juarez

As the nation comes to grips with its budgetary shortfalls, tough questions need to be asked about dubious, squirrely investments that – even in flush times – would have seemed dubious. Over the weekend, David Willman at the Los Angeles Times told an amazing tale about our nearly half-billion-dollar investment in a smallpox anti-viral agent. But it seems there are a few problems with the program: it may not be needed. And if it’s needed, it may not work. Plus, it was awarded on a no-bid basis. To a long-time political donor:

Senior officials have taken unusual steps to secure the contract for New York-based Siga Technologies Inc., whose controlling shareholder is billionaire Ronald O. Perelman, one of the world’s richest men and a longtime Democratic Party donor.

There is something called the “smallpox smell,” which is an odor emanating from victims that has been likened to rotting flesh. Something about the tale Willman tells also stinks.