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Home » Discuss » Archives » General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010) Donate to DU
-..__... Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-25-07 05:27 AM
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2. Stay away from salad bars...


On November 30, when Vice President Gore's vote challenge was making Florida the epicenter of the universe, I happened to be in St. Petersburg, Florida, moderating a conference on "Bioterrorism and the Media." Terrible as the subject of the bioterrorism conference is, it promised at least to offer a welcome respite from the endless but irresistible election mess. As it turned out, I was wrong. The centerpiece of the conference was, of all things, the case study of a truly contaminated election.

The only proven incident of bioterrorism the United States has ever experienced, we learned, was a bizarre plot by the Rajneeshees, a religious cult, to steal a county election in Oregon in 1984. The Rajneeshees, followers of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, a self-proclaimed guru exiled from India, had moved into a ranch in rural Wasco County, taken political control of the small nearby town of Antelope, and changed its name to Rajneesh. Next, the cult sought to run the whole county by winning the local election in 1984.

The amazing story of the Wasco County election scandal was revealed to the conference's riveted participants by Leslie L. Zaitz, an investigative reporter for The Oregonian, and Dr. John Livengood, an epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control. To win the county election, the Rajneeshees planned to sicken a good portion of the population in the town of The Dalles, where most Wasco County voters live. Their weapon of choice to keep local residents from voting was salmonella bacteria. Cult members decided to test the use of salmonella and, if successful, to contaminate the entire water system of The Dalles on Election Day. First, the Rajneeshees poisoned two visiting Wasco County commissioners on a hot day by plying them with refreshing drinks of cold water laced with salmonella. Then, on a shopping trip to The Dalles, cult members sprinkled salmonella on produce in grocery stores "just for fun." According to reporter Zaitz, that experiment didn't get the results they wanted so the Rajneeshees proceeded to clandestinely sprinkle salmonella at the town's restaurant salad bars. Ten restaurants were hit and more than 700 people got sick.


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