PROBE: Nov. 6, 2001

November 06, 2001

I was in Algodones recently and everybody was saying you can't bring Cipro, the antibiotic to treat anthrax, across the border.

Since I could not afford to lose it, I didn't try. Do you know if you can bring it across? — Shopper, Imperial

We called both the U.S. Customs and the Immigration and Naturalization Services. Both said nothing has changed. You can bring across a three-month supply of antibiotics, including Cipro, and most other prescription drugs except "controlled substances."

Dosing yourself with antibiotics is not a good idea because if you build up a resistance, the medicine may not do you any good when you need it.


How does the public feel about the media giving Osama bin Laden publicity in television interviews and letters that are published? I think the media should not give him any more power.

Every time I see his letters in the news, I cringe because I know he is using the media to get away with more terror. It is also giving him the means to communicate with other terrrorists around the world to get them to unite and declare war on us. — Anti-Terrorist, E-mail

Media stories about Osama bin Laden are not publicity. When a country goes to "war," most people want to know why and with whom we are at "war."

When the president vows the U.S. will capture bin Laden "dead or alive," that's news. It's the duty of the media to report news.

To ignore news because the government (or even some individuals) decide people should not know it violates the reporter's code of ethics. When people switch on television news or unfold a newspaper, they expect to find out what's happening. It's our job to find out and let you know.

Besides, the U.S. media can't deny bin Laden access to television coverage. Al Jareeza, the Arab equivalent to CNN, regularly reports on bin Laden.

If we had given Osama bin Laden closer scrutiny sooner, there may have been no Sept.11 terror attacks.

But before Sept. 11, television reporters and the public were too engrossed in the sex life of a Modesto congressman to pay attention to a scruffy terrorist in Afghanistan.

ANTHRAX REMEDY — I think your anthrax expert is wrong about killing anthrax in a microwave oven. Microwaves generate heat only when there's water or moisture present. The anthrax spores coming through the mail have been dried, thus no water and no heat. — Close Reader, Voice Mail

To make sure you're right, we called the county Health Department. Tom Wolfe there agrees with you. Microwaves make heat only in water — and there's no water in anthrax spores.

Maybe the microwave remedy would work if you first soaked the mail with water. Since no anthrax mail has been detected within a thousand miles of us, we're not going to worry about it.

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