John McCaslin

Gotten your flu shot yet? Whether you have or not, one leading congressman's warning might frighten you more than the needle.

If your doctor hasn't told you, Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.) feels it's his duty to inform Americans about the "contents" of their influenza vaccines.

"As we approach the flu season, many of you will visit the doctor's office and receive an annual influenza vaccine. This might prevent the flu, but what else will it do?" Burton said. "You should be aware that the vaccine you are about to receive contains thimerosal - a mercury-laden preservative."

Burton says scientific evidence "continues to accumulate" regarding a biologically plausible connection between the preservative and certain neurological disorders. Some scientists have attributed the growth in Alzheimer's disease and autism to mercury found in certain vaccines.

During his chairmanship of the Government Reform Committee, Burton held numerous hearings on possible adverse effects of thimerosal.

As for a second opinion, we call upon Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee - a doctor in real life - who actually reminded friends in his Christmas cards last year: "Don't forget your shots: flu shot annually."


President Bush says major networks and newspapers in this country have purposely ignored positive developments in Iraq.

Now, two congressmen - a Democrat and a Republican - have returned from the war-torn country to voice a similar complaint.

"To be sure, there are pockets of violence, but we also saw so many pockets of hope and joy that all too often don't make the evening news," says a joint statement issued by Reps. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Jim Davis (D-Fla.), who "embarked on this trip as congressmen with diverse backgrounds, from different states and from opposite parties."

Saying "we returned to America united," the congressmen cite universities and hospitals that have reopened, newspapers that are being published, and extensive police training - six months ago there were no police on duty in Iraq; today there are more than 40,000.

"The Iraqi school that we visited was filled with eager young children thirsting for knowledge," the lawmakers said. "As classes let out and we waded past Iraqi parents waiting to pick up their children, the handshakes, hugs and cheers were incredible."


One reporter who has visibly stood out from the pack in Iraq is Dr. Bob Arnot, MSNBC's special foreign correspondent who previously reported for NBC and CBS News.

John McCaslin

John McCaslin is a contributing columnist on and author of Inside The Beltway: Offbeat Stories, Scoops, and Shenanigans from around the Nation's Capital .

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