Damned Heretics

Condemned by the established, but very often right

I am Nicolaus Copernicus, and I approve of this blog

I am Richard Feynman and I approve of this blog

Qualified outsiders and maverick insiders are often right about the need to replace received wisdom in science and society, as the history of the Nobel prize shows. This blog exists to back the best of them in their uphill assault on the massively entrenched edifice of resistance to and prejudice against reviewing, let alone revising, ruling ideas. In support of such qualified dissenters and courageous heretics we search for scientific paradigms and other established beliefs which may be maintained only by the power and politics of the status quo, comparing them with academic research and the published experimental and investigative record.

We especially defend and support the funding of honest, accomplished, independent minded and often heroic scientists, inventors and other original thinkers and their right to free speech and publication against the censorship, mudslinging, false arguments, ad hominem propaganda, overwhelming crowd prejudice and internal science politics of the paradigm wars of cancer, AIDS, evolution, global warming, cosmology, particle physics, macroeconomics, health and medicine, diet and nutrition.

HONOR ROLL OF SCIENTIFIC TRUTHSEEKERS

Henry Bauer, Peter Breggin , Harvey Bialy, Giordano Bruno, Erwin Chargaff, Nicolaus Copernicus, Francis Crick, Paul Crutzen, Marie Curie, Rebecca Culshaw, Freeman Dyson, Peter Duesberg, Albert Einstein, Richard Feynman, John Fewster, Galileo Galilei, Alec Gordon, James Hansen, Edward Jenner, Benjamin Jesty, Michio Kaku, Adrian Kent, Ernst Krebs, Thomas Kuhn, Serge Lang, John Lauritsen, Mark Leggett, Richard Lindzen, Lynn Margulis, Barbara McClintock, George Miklos, Marco Mamone Capria, Peter Medawar, Kary Mullis, Linus Pauling, Eric Penrose, Max Planck, Rainer Plaga, David Rasnick, Sherwood Rowland, Carl Sagan, Otto Rossler, Fred Singer, Thomas Szasz, Alfred Wegener, Edward O. Wilson, James Watson.
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Many people would die rather than think – in fact, they do so. – Bertrand Russell.

Skepticism is dangerous. That’s exactly its function, in my view. It is the business of skepticism to be dangerous. And that’s why there is a great reluctance to teach it in schools. That’s why you don’t find a general fluency in skepticism in the media. On the other hand, how will we negotiate a very perilous future if we don’t have the elementary intellectual tools to ask searching questions of those nominally in charge, especially in a democracy? – Carl Sagan (The Burden of Skepticism, keynote address to CSICOP Annual Conference, Pasadena, April 3/4, 1982).

It is really important to underscore that everything we’re talking about tonight could be utter nonsense. – Brian Greene (NYU panel on Hidden Dimensions June 5 2010, World Science Festival)

I am Albert Einstein, and I heartily approve of this blog, insofar as it seems to believe both in science and the importance of intellectual imagination, uncompromised by out of date emotions such as the impulse toward conventional religious beliefs, national aggression as a part of patriotism, and so on.   As I once remarked, the further the spiritual evolution of mankind advances, the more certain it seems to me that the path to genuine religiosity does not lie through the fear of life, and the fear of death, and blind faith, but through striving after rational knowledge.   Certainly the application of the impulse toward blind faith in science whereby authority is treated as some kind of church is to be deplored.  As I have also said, the only thing ever interfered with my learning was my education. My name as you already perceive without a doubt is George Bernard Shaw, and I certainly approve of this blog, in that its guiding spirit appears to be blasphemous in regard to the High Church doctrines of science, and it flouts the censorship of the powers that be, and as I have famously remarked, all great truths begin as blasphemy, and the first duty of the truthteller is to fight censorship, and while I notice that its seriousness of purpose is often alleviated by a satirical irony which sometimes borders on the facetious, this is all to the good, for as I have also famously remarked, if you wish to be a dissenter, make certain that you frame your ideas in jest, otherwise they will seek to kill you.  My own method was always to take the utmost trouble to find the right thing to say, and then to say it with the utmost levity. (Photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt for Life magazine) One should as a rule respect public opinion in so far as is necessary to avoid starvation and to keep out of prison, but anything that goes beyond this is voluntary submission to an unnecessary tyranny, and is likely to interfere with happiness in all kinds of ways. – Bertrand Russell, Conquest of Happiness (1930) ch. 9

(Click for more Unusual Quotations on Science and Belief)

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How deeply the liberal arts crowd is Snowed by science

July 30th, 2005

Worth noting today (Sun Jul 30) is the introduction to Holland Cotter’s piece on plague art in the New York Times. Desperately Painting the Plague perfectly encapsulates the current vision of AIDS in the minds of the arts crowd who have been—if they were gay—among its most frequent victims.

Some of us thought the end of a world had come when AIDS started picking off friends and lovers in the 1980’s, and in a sense it had. A certain world really did end. Yet even that experience left us unequipped to imagine the kind of despair today blanketing parts of Africa, where the disease has spread monstrously, reducing whole communities to less than a memory, to nothing.

In other words, the AIDS fable is swallowed hook, line and sinker by such reporters and critics. If you are in any field of art, you naturally assume that the science conveyed to you by fellow mainstream science reporters is beyond challenge, having a kind of biblical authority. That you might be misinformed in this respect is not worth thinking about because science is simply not your business.

Such people repeat the conventional wisdom and embroider it in lurid terms because they are not aware that conventional AIDS science is being challenged in the best scientific literature itself, and has not been able to reply to the criticism. The idea that it has been demonstrated not to be an infectious disease in heterosexuals, or that it cannot easily be found in Africa, would be entirely alien to Hollan Cotter’s vision of African AIDS, “where the disease has spread monstrously, reducing whole communities to less than a memory, to nothing.”

In this way, the false claims of AIDS scientists that AIDS is an infectious disease and has spread across Africa, Asia and the rest of the world are propagandized best by those who know absolutely nothing about it other than what they are told, or what they experience of “AIDS” as interpreted through the spectacles they are handed by others.

That their trust in authority is being abused, and that they are acting as propagandists for what the most intensely reviewed top scientific literature says is a Big Lie, would surprise them as much as those war supporters who believed that the governments of the US and the UK had established that Saddam was in possession of Weapons of Mass Destruction.

Is it possible that this particular lesson of the Iraq war might make it just a little bit easier to gain public and political support for outside review of AIDS and its fables? The next months will tell us, as the upcoming story in one of the nation’s most respected liberal periodicals on Duesberg and his trials and tribulations hits the newstands.

But somehow one doubts that Holland Cotter will be in the vanguard of such calls for reasessment. His taste is simply not for “tangibles”. As C. P. Snow once complained, there are two cultures, science and the arts, and they do not often meet in the same individual. Here is how he ends his piece.

This approach also prompts an encouraging thought. Maybe someday in the future, when we are not here, a few bright scholars will re-examine art produced in response to AIDS in the United States in the late 20th century, and in Africa at the beginning of the 21st century. And maybe those scholars will choose to focus not on the comparative quality of objects or styles, but on intangible elements that science tends to be shy of: how art provokes emotion and conveys belief, and how a certain kind of art, at a certain time, gave certain people who felt the earth had been swept away beneath them a place to stand.

Maybe the “bright scholars” of the future reassessing the art produced in response to “AIDS” will in fact marvel at the ability of artists to put themselves in the service of whatever ideas are handed to them by scientists and provoke the requisite emotions and convey the requisite beliefs on behalf of any cock-and-bull story they are told however lethal in its effects on their own lives.

And if the scholars are able to remain sympathetic in the face of this abdication of thought, maybe they will cry for the tragic vulnerability of artists to the scientists that suckered them, as well as the cultural loss of a generation of artists decimated by this confidence game.

In one way AIDS is, in Kafka’s phrase, a cage in search of a song bird, and it has found plenty.

Here is the full Desperately Painting the Plague piece.

The New York Times

July 29, 2005

Desperately Painting the Plague

By HOLLAND COTTER

WORCESTER, Mass. — Some of us thought the end of a world had come when AIDS started picking off friends and lovers in the 1980’s, and in a sense it had. A certain world really did end. Yet even that experience left us unequipped to imagine the kind of despair today blanketing parts of Africa, where the disease has spread monstrously, reducing whole communities to less than a memory, to nothing.

Pandemics of one kind or another have always terrorized human history. And where science has been helpless and politics mute, religion and art have responded. That response is the subject of “Hope and Healing: Painting in Italy in a Time of Plague, 1500-1800,” at the Worcester Art Museum, a small, penumbral, single-minded exhibition that does at least one thing museum shows almost never do.

It presents mainstream Christian “high art,” church art, in terms of function rather than form. The 35 paintings included are considered as devotional icons rather than as old master monuments. They are viewed from an existential rather than a doctrinal or sociopolitical perspective; through the eyes of a believer for whom a picture of the Virgin is a moral lesson and an emotional encounter before it is a Tiepolo or a Tintoretto.

Although Americans have relatively little trouble seeing African or Indian sculpture – art that isn’t really “us” – in this light, Judeo-Christian religious art is another story. It’s as if we are afraid of what it once was, or embarrassed by it, or simply unaware of its very specific power to answer, in the case of the paintings gathered here, a culture’s cry of pain.

Pain in the form of pestilence is taken as a divine rebuke to human sin in the Old Testament, a directive telling us to shape up, now: admit our guilt, change our ways, humble ourselves. And sometimes contrition worked.

When a shattering plague struck Rome in 590, Pope Gregory the Great led the citizens in a penitential procession through the city streets, petitioning heaven for relief. Legend has it that as he approached the papal fortress that was once the tomb of the emperor Hadrian, he saw the archangel Michael perched on its summit, sheathing his sword. Soon afterward, the crisis lifted.

The image of the archangel was quickly adopted as a talisman against disease, to be appealed to when needed. And the need was frequent.

For centuries, one part of Europe or another was either recovering from a plague, embroiled in one or anticipating a recurrence. Cholera and typhus probably accounted for some of these calamities, but the most famous killer was the bubonic plague, the Black Death.

Transmitted by flea-infested rats, it probably arrived in Italy in the 14th century on trading ships from Asia. It spread fast in congested cities, and its primary symptoms were unmistakable and grotesque. They included agonizing swellings at the neck, under the arms and in the groin, and subcutaneous bleeding that turned parts of the body a bruiselike black.

The only sure cure was avoidance. The rich hightailed it to the countryside. Inside the towns, quarantine went into effect, with the sick isolated in prisonlike infirmaries called lazarettos. Named for the man Jesus raised from the dead in the Gospels, they were often hopeless places, crowded and filthy. Confinement could be a death sentence.

Or so say reports from the 16th century onward, by people who witnessed epidemics in Rome, Naples, Venice and elsewhere. In each city, holy images were marshaled as a first line of defense. Some were old and time-tested, others whipped up on the spot. Still others were produced as tokens of thanks once danger had passed, as was the case with Guido Reni’s towering painting of St. Michael trouncing Satan, a copy of which, by Giovanni Andrea Sirani, is in the show.

Many saints in addition to Michael were enlisted in the cause. St. Sebastian was a standby. A young soldier sentenced to death in ancient Rome for his religious beliefs, he had been tied to a tree, shot with arrows, then nursed back to health by fellow Christians. Both the method of his punishment – the arrow was an ancient plague symbol – and the fact of his recovery made him a natural as a protector.

He appears several times in the exhibition. And in a deftly sketched oil painting by Jacopo Bassano, probably intended as a ceremonial banner, he is accompanied by a fellow disease-fighter, St. Roch.

Roch was actually a product of plague-panic. He first turns up in popular culture in the 14th century, with a reputation for having cared for and cured victims in Italy before catching the disease himself. Thanks to the miraculous ministrations of a pet dog, he regained his health. But he never forgot his ordeal: he is traditionally depicted pointing to a plague swelling or sore on his thigh.

Some hero-saints were historical near-contemporaries of artists who painted them. St. Charles Borromeo (1538-1584), the aristocratic archbishop of Milan, was one. He tended to the sick during the pestilence of 1576-77 and walked the streets barefoot, carrying a large cross. He is the subject of numerous pictures, including some, like one done by Antiveduto Grammatica around 1619, that have the immediacy of portraiture.

And then there are the icons, like Anthony Van Dyck’s paintings of the Sicilian St. Rosalie, clearly spun from the air. Rosalie was an obscure figure even by provincial standards. But when her remains were fortuitously “discovered” near Palermo in 1624, the year the city was hit by plague, she was elevated to official intercessor on behalf of the city.

Van Dyck, who was in Palermo at the time, was asked to create an image of her, and he cooked up a shrewd all-purpose pastiche. He gave her a Franciscan-brown robe and the long, tangled hair of a Magdalene, but also a healthy peaches-and-cream complexion and a look of self-assured bliss as she soared heavenward.

The concept was a big hit. The enterprising artist spun out several variations on it, and two are in the show, which has been organized by an impressive quartet of scholars: Gauvin Alexander Bailey of Clark University; Pamela M. Jones of the University of Massachusetts, Boston; Franco Mormando of Boston College; and Thomas W. Worcester of the College of the Holy Cross.

Devotion alone, however, wasn’t always enough. You said your prayers, and the plague raged on. So some people pursued the more proactive, practical option of pious deeds. And no deeds were more usefully humane than the so-called corporal acts of mercy.

The church defined seven such acts. They included feeding the hungry, caring for the sick and burying the dead, and art served as an instruction manual in how they should be handled. Burial was especially crucial during epidemics, when corpses might increase the spread of infection. And the Flemish painter Michael Sweerts contributes a sanitized, promotional image of charitable interment to the exhibition.

A few artists, though, went for something stronger, an in-the-trenches realism usually avoided by religious pictures, which were meant to inspire hope and soothe fear. Carlo Coppola’s “Pestilence of 1656 in Naples” is a rare example of painting as reportage, documenting a grim scene of bodies being hauled off in hasty, unceremonious trips to what might well have been a common grave.

Giovanni Martinelli’s “Memento Mori (Death Comes to the Dinner Table)” seems to be on an entirely different conceptual tack: it’s an old-fashion allegory, as didactic as a medieval sermon. But it, too, carries a shock of real life. Three young dandies sitting down to a bounteous meal register alarmed distaste at the sight of a skeletal visitor. But a young woman in the center of the picture reacts right from the gut, gasping in horror. She knows this is the end.

In some other show, this painting might slip into ready art-historical categories: it’s vaguely Caravaggiesque, it embodies period attitudes, and so on. But in “Hope and Healing,” it has a peculiarly visceral impact, because a context has been set up that allows for that, one that accepts the idea of a religious image as, first and foremost, a trigger of feelings, an agent of interior change.

I am far from suggesting that this is the only valid approach to take to Renaissance and Baroque religious art. But it is an absorbing and instructive one, a way to establish direct connections to lives and experiences in the past that have links to the present.

This approach also prompts an encouraging thought. Maybe someday in the future, when we are not here, a few bright scholars will re-examine art produced in response to AIDS in the United States in the late 20th century, and in Africa at the beginning of the 21st century. And maybe those scholars will choose to focus not on the comparative quality of objects or styles, but on intangible elements that science tends to be shy of: how art provokes emotion and conveys belief, and how a certain kind of art, at a certain time, gave certain people who felt the earth had been swept away beneath them a place to stand.

* Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

AIDS superbug fantasy implodes – but are co-factors making a comeback?

July 25th, 2005

Today, we learn from the AIDS Conference in Brazil that the Very Fierce HIV virus strain detected in an NYC man recently is not fierce or unique after all. One of the man’s partners in Connecticut proves to have had the same strain since 1993. and is doing OK. The hard won conclusion of researchers in this case is now the same as any intelligent skeptic’s reading of the original news report. Namely, that five years of crystal methamphetamine does not do your body any favors.

Mark Wainberg, PhD, professor of medicine at McGill University in Montreal, says multiple sex partners and repeated use of crystal “meth” may pack a wallop to the immune system, facilitating infection with multidrug-resistant HIV.

Wait… If multiple sex partners and heavy use of meth wallop the immune system, we have a new co-factor theory of AIDS, it seems. Do we even need HIV? would be the next question, long raised by the AIDS dissidents.

In the old days, this would have earned Mark Wainberg a rap on the knuckles. But somehow the idea that HIV cannot work its insidious depredations alone but needs a co-factor seems to be making some kind of a comeback. The idea has always been anathema to the promoters of HIV, with the exception of Luc Montagnier, the French researcher with the lips of a bon vivant at the Pasteur Institute who is the sole discoverer of HIV, though he has as yet failed to win the Nobel prize for it, perhaps because Robert Gallo of the NIH muddied the water for years with his own claim to have done so (Gallo actually discovered it in the mail from Montagnier, it turned out, Montagnier having sent him samples not once but twice, since Gallo lost the first batch, and Montagnier had the receipts to prove it), or perhaps because the Nobel rule is that the achievement recognized should have had some benefit for mankind, and to date the observable benefit of discovering HIV seems to have been entirely confined to the scientific and political geniuses running the campaign against it.

Luc Montagnier made the mistake a while back of agreeing to answer in the same journal a wholesale critique of HIV=AIDS by Peter Duesberg, a rash commitment which he was unable to live up to once the full panoply of Duesberg’s arguments unfurled under his unsettled gaze. The situation was exactly reminiscent of Robert Gallo’s equally confident pledge in 1989 to the editors of the Proceedings of the National Academy that he would undertake a reply to Duesberg’s first definitive broadside against the virus that in Gallo’s phrase “kills like a truck”, a 200 footnote paper which later was used in Walter Gilbert’s Harvard classes as an example of classic and perfectly formulated heresy. Gallo somehow never found the time to do that either.

Montagnier, who has always given the impression of being more painfully caught than his HIV colleagues between the exigencies of ruthless scientific assertion and the obligations of a gentlemanly upbringing and a genuine vocation as a scientist, evidently decided that Duesberg had a point, and HIV was by itself insufficient to cause AIDS. That was when he fastened on a mycoplasma as the required co-factor, and hurried to the San Franscisco AIDS Conference to unveil it to the world, only to be shunned and shut out by the Bob Club. Montagnier was forced to make his anouncement to the world’s press in a long, low ceilinged hotel conference room, packed with hacks but well outside the AIDS Conference’s precincts, and afterwards to hightail it back to Paris for lack of hospitality from the Club. The mycoplasma was soon off the front pages and has not been much heard about since.

But recently, we hear that Bob Gallo has been returning calls to Charles “Chuck” Ortleb, one time publisher and editor of the inimitable New York Native, a gay weekly which published much informed and skeptical material on HIV=AIDS at the very beginning of this now global affair but was put out of business by an ACTUP boycott, presumably the work of Larry Kramer, the playwright who founded ACTUP and who is still unable to grasp the nettle of the possibility that we may have been misled by the Bob Club. even though he has had to suffer a liver transplant in the wake of his assiduous imbibing of the HAART drug regime.

Ortleb reports that his own long time favorite culprit for the cause of AIDS, a herpes virus, has been taken up anew by Gallo as a necessary co-factor for HIV, which apparently no longer “kills like a truck”.

If this is the case it will be interesting to see how far it flies before it is shot down by its own army, since any idea that HIV needs a cofactor has always been too dangerously close to admitting that by itself or even in partnership it is harmless, and that AIDS symptoms are caused by other disease agents and toxicities which do not need HIV in the mix to do exactly what they would do and have always done, which is cause the weight loss, illness and death of drug walloping, malaria, tuberculosis, and all the other ills humanity is heir to.

For the superbug news see Fears of AIDS ‘Superbug’ Eased (Fox News)

Fears of AIDS ‘Superbug’ Eased

Monday, July 25, 2005

By Charlene Laino

Fears of an AIDS superbug were alleviated Monday when researchers reported that they have homed in on the source of a New York City man’s HIV infection.

Concerns had existed since February when officials from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene announced that a middle-aged man had purportedly been infected with a new and unique strain of HIV — one that resists most medications used to treat HIV and progresses to full-blown AIDS in a fraction of the usual time.

But viral testing shows that the man does not have a unique HIV strain, says Gary Blick, MD, medical and research director of Circle Medicine in Norwalk, Conn.

Rather, the New York City man has the same viral strain as an HIV-infected man in Connecticut, he says. The two men admit having unprotected sex with each other.

“The Connecticut patient’s virus is a 99.5 percent match to the New York City man. They’re essentially identical,” Blick tells WebMD.

Speaking at a meeting of the International AIDS Society, Blick says that the 52-year-old Connecticut man infected the New York City man with a potent viral strain that is resistant to three of the four types of medications used to treat HIV.

Possible New Strain of HIV Investigated

Risky Behavior Blamed for Rapid Progression

One of the major reasons some health officials believed that a new AIDS superbug was in our midst was that the New York City man developed AIDS in less than 20 months, just two months after a positive HIV diagnosis was made.

Normally, progression from HIV to AIDS in an untreated patient takes 7 to 10 years, with death following months after that time.

But since the Connecticut man first tested positive for HIV in 1993, the virus itself does not appear to be responsible for the rapid progression to full-blown AIDS, Blick says.

So why did the New York City man get sick so quickly?

Most likely, his behavior is the culprit, Blick says. The New York City man admitted not only to being promiscuous, but also to being a heavy user of crystal methamphetamine, an illicit drug that lowers inhibitions and increases risky sexual behavior.

Mark Wainberg, PhD, professor of medicine at McGill University in Montreal, says multiple sex partners and repeated use of crystal “meth” may pack a wallop to the immune system, facilitating infection with multidrug-resistant HIV.

Another indication that a fast-acting new strain of HIV was not behind the man’s rapid illness was a measurement of his CD4 cell count. Blick’s study shows that his CD4 cell count (an indication of disease progression) responded to treatment, refuting the concept of a new aggressive strain.

Also, genetic susceptibility may have played a role in the man’s condition, Blick says. Because this type of supervirulent virus was seen in only one case in February, some researchers had theorized that the man’s individual genetic susceptibility, not the virus itself, was responsible for its rapid progression.

Wainberg tells WebMD that the study should end talk of a new AIDS superbug. “It’s a well-done analysis that shows the strains are virtually identical,” he says.

Get the Facts About HIV and AIDS

By Charlene Laino, reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD

SOURCES: 3rd IAS Conference on HIV Pathogenesis and Treatment, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, July 24-27, 2005. Gary Blick, MD, medical and research director, Circle Medicine, Norwalk, Conn. Mark Wainberg, PhD, professor of medicine, McGill University, Montreal.

Copyright 2005 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved.

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The Black Death of the 21St Century – a CFR Report

July 19th, 2005

The multi-prize winning Laurie Garrett’s extensive report on HIV and National Security: Where Are The Links? for the Council of Foreign Relations makes a pair with her article in the independent society’s journal, Foreign Affairs, of July/August (Vol. 84 Number 4), The Lessons of HIV/AIDS.

Both are either magisterial or drivel depending on where where you stand on the basic scientific assumptions of HIV/AIDS, especially whether

a) HIV is the implacable destroyer of human immune systems OR a harmless specimen of the 98,000 retroviruses that inhabit the human body (yours and mine) without causing any discernible effect on health whatsoever (ignoring for the moment Robert Gallo’s HTLV-1, which he once claimed to us causes leukemia in “1 in 100 people who carry it in fifty years”, but which most of the Japanese living in a certain region carry without evidencing any higher rate of leukemia than anybody else), and

b) whether HIV is extremely infectious and dangerously liable to transfer in a single bout of sex with a prostitute and then be passed on as quickly to a wife OR is vanishingly non-infectious and virtually impossible to transfer through heterosexual copulation, which is what the peer-reviewed scientific literature tells us.

****************************************************

Special service announcement:

Cutting to the chase: Is AIDS infectious via male-female sex? Mainstream science answers: No.

Contrary to the key assumption of the Council report, and the prevailing understanding (almost) everywhere else, scientists have long found that that HIV is utterly uninfectious in heterosexual sex in Africa or anywhere else.

This is not just according to the unwavering critic and AIDS reviewer Peter Duesberg and his many scientifically informed supporters, who have in fact repeatedly referenced this literature since the beginning of the supposed epi/pandemic. This is according to the mainstream scientific literature in the main AIDS journals, which repeatedly finds evidence that an epidemic of infectious AIDS among heterosexuals is scientifically impossible.

The mounting pile (twenty or more thus far) mainstream peer-reviewed scientific papers published in the central journals of AIDS for many years on this point have long and repeatedly established that to transfer HIV, insofar as that is what is meant and indicated by HIV test results, takes “discordant” couples (one positive, one negative) on average 1000 sex bouts between man and woman. This rate would make an epidemic, let alone a global pandemic, impossible. None of these studies have so far been challenged.

In the next post following we will fully reference these peer reviewed papers, which entirely vitiate the main premise, the central pillar of the mainstream global AIDS narrative, that global AIDS is transmitted through heterosexual sex. They include two studies published within the last few months and, as we say, none have been disputed in the literature.

In other words, the established scientific fact undisputed by the mainstream establishment scientists in AIDS is that AIDS is not heterosexually infectious to any significant or meaningful extent. Thus any report, story or theoretical fantasy of global pandemic constructed on the premise is, according to the mainstream’s own scientific studies, utterly impossible.

Or as Monty Python might say, the idea is a non starter, moribund at the starting gate, dead as any doornail, completely hundred per cent null and void, inconceivable, non existent and impossible. In fact, if it was a parrot, it would be an ex-parrot before it was an egg.

Mr. Praline: ‘E’s not pinin’! ‘E’s passed on! This parrot is no more! He has ceased to be! ‘E’s expired and gone to meet ‘is maker! ‘E’s a stiff! Bereft of life, ‘e rests in peace! If you hadn’t nailed ‘im to the perch ‘e’d be pushing up the daisies! ‘Is metabolic processes are now ‘istory! ‘E’s off the twig! ‘E’s kicked the bucket, ‘e’s shuffled off ‘is mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin’ choir invisibile!! THIS IS AN EX-PARROT!!

(For those who wish to read this divinely classic sketch again to refresh their spirits before plunging back into the gory glories of global-pandemic-non think, here is the script:)

Dead Parrot Sketch

The cast:

MR. PRALINE

John Cleese

SHOP OWNER

Michael Palin

The sketch:

A customer enters a pet shop.

Mr. Praline: ‘Ello, I wish to register a complaint.

(The owner does not respond.)

Mr. Praline: ‘Ello, Miss?

Owner: What do you mean “miss”?

Mr. Praline: I’m sorry, I have a cold. I wish to make a complaint!

Owner: We’re closin’ for lunch.

Mr. Praline: Never mind that, my lad. I wish to complain about this parrot what I purchased not half an hour ago from this very boutique.

Owner: Oh yes, the, uh, the Norwegian Blue…What’s,uh…What’s wrong with it?

Mr. Praline: I’ll tell you what’s wrong with it, my lad. ‘E’s dead, that’s what’s wrong with it!

Owner: No, no, ‘e’s uh,…he’s resting.

Mr. Praline: Look, matey, I know a dead parrot when I see one, and I’m looking at one right now.

Owner: No no he’s not dead, he’s, he’s restin’! Remarkable bird, the Norwegian Blue, idn’it, ay? Beautiful plumage!

Mr. Praline: The plumage don’t enter into it. It’s stone dead.

Owner: Nononono, no, no! ‘E’s resting!

Mr. Praline: All right then, if he’s restin’, I’ll wake him up! (shouting at the cage) ‘Ello, Mister Polly Parrot! I’ve got a lovely fresh cuttle fish for you if you

show…

(owner hits the cage)

Owner: There, he moved!

Mr. Praline: No, he didn’t, that was you hitting the cage!

Owner: I never!!

Mr. Praline: Yes, you did!

Owner: I never, never did anything…

Mr. Praline: (yelling and hitting the cage repeatedly) ‘ELLO POLLY!!!!! Testing! Testing! Testing! Testing! This is your nine o’clock alarm call!

(Takes parrot out of the cage and thumps its head on the counter. Throws it up in the air and watches it plummet to the floor.)

Mr. Praline: Now that’s what I call a dead parrot.

Owner: No, no…..No, ‘e’s stunned!

Mr. Praline: STUNNED?!?

Owner: Yeah! You stunned him, just as he was wakin’ up! Norwegian Blues stun easily, major.

Mr. Praline: Um…now look…now look, mate, I’ve definitely ‘ad enough of this. That parrot is definitely deceased, and when I purchased it not ‘alf an hour

ago, you assured me that its total lack of movement was due to it bein’ tired and shagged out following a prolonged squawk.

Owner: Well, he’s…he’s, ah…probably pining for the fjords.

Mr. Praline: PININ’ for the FJORDS?!?!?!? What kind of talk is that?, look, why did he fall flat on his back the moment I got ‘im home?

Owner: The Norwegian Blue prefers keepin’ on it’s back! Remarkable bird, id’nit, squire? Lovely plumage!

Mr. Praline: Look, I took the liberty of examining that parrot when I got it home, and I discovered the only reason that it had been sitting on its perch in the

first place was that it had been NAILED there.

(pause)

Owner: Well, o’course it was nailed there! If I hadn’t nailed that bird down, it would have nuzzled up to those bars, bent ’em apart with its beak, and

VOOM! Feeweeweewee!

Mr. Praline: “VOOM”?!? Mate, this bird wouldn’t “voom” if you put four million volts through it! ‘E’s bleedin’ demised!

Owner: No no! ‘E’s pining!

Mr. Praline: ‘E’s not pinin’! ‘E’s passed on! This parrot is no more! He has ceased to be! ‘E’s expired and gone to meet ‘is maker! ‘E’s a stiff! Bereft of life, ‘e

rests in peace! If you hadn’t nailed ‘im to the perch ‘e’d be pushing up the daisies! ‘Is metabolic processes are now ‘istory! ‘E’s off the twig! ‘E’s kicked the

bucket, ‘e’s shuffled off ‘is mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin’ choir invisibile!! THIS IS AN EX-PARROT!!

(pause)

Owner: Well, I’d better replace it, then. (he takes a quick peek behind the counter) Sorry squire, I’ve had a look ’round the back of the shop, and uh,

we’re right out of parrots.

Mr. Praline: I see. I see, I get the picture.

Owner: I got a slug.

(pause)

Mr. Praline: Pray, does it talk?

Owner: Nnnnot really.

Mr. Praline: WELL IT’S HARDLY A BLOODY REPLACEMENT, IS IT?!!???!!?

Owner: N-no, I guess not. (gets ashamed, looks at his feet)

Mr. Praline: Well.

(pause)

Owner: (quietly) D’you…. d’you want to come back to my place?

Mr. Praline: (looks around) Yeah, all right, sure.

Apparently, however, the army of UN and other researchers and reporters who helped Laurie Garrett prepare the Council report do not read the scientific literature in AIDS any more often that she does. Because the entire report hinges on this premise.

End of special service anouncement.

****************************************************

c) Antiretrovirals keep the effects of HIV at bay and allow HIV-positive people to live normal lives OR antiretrovirals promise only brief improvement (by killing everything in sight including infections before eventually getting around to killing you) before leading to liver and kidney damage and death.

Needless to say, the first, mainstream media assumptions are the ones on which Ms Garrett premises her global analysis of AIDS as a threat to the peace of the planet.

It is worth mentioning that this world-leading future disease detector had already publicly outlined her basic view of AIDS in the world to the National Association of Science Writers in a Washington briefing at the CFR on February 15. Her comment was in response to a question about whether she thought that the New York City Health Department’s announcement of the arrival of a new and seemingly unstoppable variant of HIV was alarmist and premature. Her reply reveals that to Laurie Garrett, AIDS is an “absolutely out of control global pandemic” with “millions and millions dead” already, and that while antiretrovirals are the answer, distributing them widely in Africa may breed resistant strains of HIV.

“I can’t, you know, look at babies, whose parents will die before they’re five years old but who might be alive to see them graduate from high school if they had antiretrovirals,”

Here is the segment referred to, carried on the Council site at Laurie Garrett, Michelle T. McMurry, and Charles D. Ferguson, 2005 National Association of Science Writers Briefing, Global Health Science and National Security Challenges in the Second Bush Administration:

QUESTIONER: Thanks. Joe Neel from NPR [National Public Radio]. I want to-Laurie, I want to go back to the New York City case for just a minute and ask-just sort of gauge, get your reading on this situation. Do you think that the Health Department jumped the gun in making this announcement? That’s my first question. And the second question is whether or not you think it’s a serious threat. How do you think it will play out in developing countries where treatment is just getting started?

GARRETT: I have an op-ed in tomorrow’s L.A. Times [laughter] on exactly that. So hit the www.lat.com.

(The text of that op-ed, The Case of the Mutant AIDS Virus, by Laurie Garrett, Los Angeles Times, February 16, 2005, is as follows. A warning that HIV is going to mutate drug-resistant strains, it demonstrates the author’s feeling that the global AIDS threat can never be overemphasized. For example:

Such (cautious and skeptical) reactions are hogwash. Denial and silence are the true dangers.

In 1981, all too many doctors and scientists ignored a Los Angeles report of six cases of strange pneumonia in gay California men. “What’s the big deal with six sick homosexuals?” many said to me then. That was the birth of AIDS, which has now killed more than 25 million people and currently infects 40 million to 50 million.

Like a nervous guard dog straining at the leash as it barks furiously at a dimly perceived stranger at the gate, Laurie here envisions the AIDS pandemic 25% larger than she now does in her CFR report (approximately 40 million afflicted, 20 million killed))

Op-Ed

The Case of the Mutant AIDS Virus

By Laurie Garrett

Los Angeles Times, February 16, 2005

On Friday, New York City health officials issued this chilling announcement: A man is infected with a form of the AIDS virus that is not only resistant to three of the four classes of anti-HIV drugs, it is apparently so virulent that it causes full-blown AIDS in a matter of weeks rather than the usual decade or more. It will be super-difficult to treat, and it may be a super-fast killer.

New York City Health Commissioner Thomas Frieden first heard of the case on Jan. 22. Tests showed that the man had been infected for only a short time.

Frieden prudently had samples of the mysterious virus assessed by two independent labs. Both labs confirmed that it is resistant to all three of the classes of pill-form HIV drugs and that it attacks its victims with what are called CX4 cellular receptors, which are typically found only in those infected with HIV for a long time and in advanced stages of AIDS.

There is more bad news. The man is the victim of another U.S. epidemic – methamphetamine use. While high and uninhibited, he had sex with more than 100 men over the last two years, often without using a condom. And he recalls little about those encounters – certainly not the partners’ names and addresses. There is little hope of tracing the virus, of studying the strain’s transmission, of warning the victim’s partners or stopping them from having more unprotected sex.

Frieden’s warning on Friday was exactly right: “This is a wake-up call.” AIDS isn’t tamed, and it certainly isn’t defeated.

Still, it didn’t take long for the naysayers to appear. Dr. Robert Gallo, co-discoverer of HIV, called the announcement “irresponsible and outrageous.” Other HIV scientists insisted that Frieden was wrong to issue an alert because highly mutated viruses are wimpy bugs – they must surrender their powers of transmission to become drug- resistant. Still others insisted that it was biologically impossible for CX4 viruses to spread widely: Unless the city could prove the new HIV strain had been transmitted, the alarm was inappropriate.

Such reactions are hogwash. Denial and silence are the true dangers.

In 1981, all too many doctors and scientists ignored a Los Angeles report of six cases of strange pneumonia in gay California men. “What’s the big deal with six sick homosexuals?” many said to me then. That was the birth of AIDS, which has now killed more than 25 million people and currently infects 40 million to 50 million.

All new epidemics, or novel trends in familiar microbes, start small. And the New York City case fits into a larger pattern. An ever-increasing number of people in the wealthy nations have been getting infected with drug-resistant strains of HIV since treatment drugs were introduced in 1996.

By 2002, scientists at UC San Diego reported that more than 22% of new infections in gay Americans involved forms of HIV that could resist one class of the drugs, and about 10.2% could resist two classes. Those figures have been climbing steadily.

Obviously, lots of men who know that they are HIV-positive are taking the medicines, having sex without condoms with men who aren’t infected and giving them their mutant viruses. Most of those resistant viruses can still be treated – because treatment requires a combination of drugs and the ones that are still effective can be mixed to work. In contrast, with three of four classes of drugs out of the picture in the New York case, there is no good treatment option available.

It’s possible, as some of the naysayers assert, that the mutant virus will prove to be only weakly transmissible from person to person. And perhaps the extremely rapid disease progression seen in this one patient is not because of the virus itself but because of the particular individual’s unusually susceptible immune system.

But we don’t know any of that for sure. In the meantime, did the New York City Department of Health, acting in consultation with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, do the right thing by alerting the world to this case? You bet it did.

Drug companies need that wake-up call. They should be working more quickly to create new and different HIV drugs.

Advocates of widespread distribution of the drugs that do exist – and I count myself among them – need the wake-up call as well. However desperate the need, the more people in countries worldwide who get access to HIV drugs, the more mutant viruses will be produced. Without effective, funded safe-sex education programs, widespread distribution of drugs could make the epidemic worse.

And those who use methamphetamines and prowl for sex certainly need the wake-up call. Denying the risk of AIDS won’t make the virus disappear.

We can’t keep pretending that resistant forms of HIV will always be clinically weak, or that widespread use of HIV drugs will not promote evolution of new, much-harder-to-treat forms of HIV. We can’t tell our public health officials that we would simply rather not know the bad news about AIDS.

QUESTIONER: Maybe you can describe it? [Laughter]

GARRETT: I think the city did the right thing, and I’ll tell you why. First of all, all disease trends start small. You know, if we had discounted, as most did, a report of six gay men with pneumonia from a Los Angeles physician in 1981, you know, we were caught by surprise, and here we are with millions and millions of dead from HIV and, you know, an absolutely out-of-control global pandemic. We know that this virus is highly labile, that it’s constantly mutating, constantly changing. It is folly in the extreme, given the history of antibiotics and the history of other antivirals, to not assume that widespread use of drugs would fail to create selection pressure on, you know, a whole host of viral species.

Now, the counterargument all along, as we have seen this mounting toll in the United States of primary infection being due to drug-resistant viruses, now well over 22 percent of new infections in the United States due to drug-resistant HIVs, the counterargument all along has been, “Well, you know, drug-resistant viruses are wimpy viruses and once they’re in the host in the absence of the pressure from the presence of drug will revert to [inaudible] type and be a more-a tougher virus, but not a resistant virus.” Conversely, it’s often argued, or similarly argued, that viruses give up so much to be highly drug resistant that they’re not going to be highly transmissible; that they’ll lose that capacity.

We saw [Institute of Human Virology and Division of Basic Science Director] Bob Gallo step forward and decry the city of New York and call the commissioner, Tom Frieden, irresponsible and outrageous for holding this press conference. And I think they’re wrong. Look, look at the facts of the case. It’s true that we don’t know yet if this is a highly virulent virus. Although this fellow appears to have gone from infection to full-blown AIDS in an incredibly short time, perhaps as little as 10 months, which, you know, eclipses anything we’ve previously seen, we don’t know if it’s because of host factors. There may be something in him that makes him especially vulnerable, all right, we can’t rule that out. But we also can’t rule out at this time that the virus is indeed a more virulent, more pathogenic virus. We don’t know that.

So a prior questioner said why not err on the side of the assumption of risk? If this had been an individual who had a relatively finite sex life, knew who his partners were, then the prudent approach would have been to not issue a statement and to immediately conduct aggressive contact tracing, find all those sex partners, sequence their viruses, check their clinical status, and see what kind of a situation you’re up against. But that was not the case. This is a fellow who says he’s had almost 200 sex partners in two years, under the influence of methamphetamines, and doesn’t know who any of them are. So what options did the city have? You can’t contact trace, you know, an invisible list of 200 people. I think they did the right thing.

Now, some of the media coverage has not been right. And if you really look at the press statement put out by the city, they never said this is a super bug, they never said this is a super strain, they said the facts of the case. But a lot of the media and the headlines just leapt all the way to: “There is now a new HIV in the world that is a super killer.” We don’t know that yet. But we do-I think it is prudent to be cautious right now, to have a heightened state of alert. And frankly, probably long overdue for certain individuals in the gay community to remember that we have a terminal disease that is contagious out there, and safe sex is the right sex.

QUESTIONER: To follow up is the effect on treatment in Africa.

GARRETT: Right. Well, you know, we have very good reason, and we always have had good reason, to be worried about how we’re going to disburse antiretrovirals in poor countries without promoting resistant strains. The counterargument for a long time has been-I had one scientist put it to me this way: “Why doesn’t Africa have as much a right to have resistant virus as America does?” You know, the counterargument is access counterweighs the concerns about resistance.

And I, frankly, have tended to fall in that camp myself. I can’t, you know, look at babies, whose parents will die before they’re five years old but who might be alive to see them graduate from high school if they had antiretrovirals, and not think we have to get in there and aggressively treat. But throwing the drugs out helter-skelter without any kind of infrastructure to appropriately distribute, follow the patients, and do the right thing, is irresponsible anywhere in the world. We wouldn’t want a clinic in Washington, DC, where people could just walk up and anonymously get antiretrovirals. Why would we want that in the poor world? Is it because they’re poor that they deserve no better?

As a matter of fact, she also vouchsafed a view of how science reporting might be improved from its traditional form, which she described as

you found some cool article, some study that looked great, and you made a bunch of calls and you wrote a story, and that was science reporting.

This is how she used to operate when she started out in science writing, she vouchsafed, and evidently it is how she thought that her audience were practicing the art today. We know of no reason to contradict her.

And what did the author of The Coming Plague: Newly Emerging Diseases in a World Out of Balance and Betrayal of Trust: The Collapse of Global Public Health suggest as a step forward? Naturally, that science writers should likewise broaden their scope to a global perspective.

This world is globalizing and it’s time for science writing to do the same thing.

Fair enough, perhaps. if the harried, hardworking hacks are allowed the time to do so by their galley-slave-driving, whip cracking editors, but hardly the top priority reform we would put on the agenda. How about this novel concept: science reporters who actually paused for two seconds to evaluate the statements and claims asserted by the generals of any scientific field that they use for sources in their “bunch of calls”?

At the moment the science reporting practiced by every mainstream science reporter we know reminds us rather of a definition of a university lecture we once heard:

Lecture n.: A method of transferring information from the notes of the lecturer to the notes of the student without passing through the heads of either

Is too much to ask, in this era of science meets politics from the Bush administration on down, that science writers stop acting like a bunch of cheeping sparrow fledglings with wide open mouths ready to accept whatever scientists and their pr staff are willing to drop into them?

Apparently it is. At least, Ms Garrett appears to have used exactly that approach in preparing her definitive study for the CFR, which contains not a peep of challenge to her elevated official sources.

What Laurie told the science writers:

And I think, you know, if there’s any take-home message from tonight I’d like to leave with all of you, and I hope you’ll share with, you know, your friends this week at the NASW meeting, it is that when I started out as a science reporter, most science reporters thought the job boiled down to you got advance copies of all the journals and you were specialized in physics or you were specialized in chemistry or medicine, and those were the journals you really jumped on, and ±you found some cool article, some study that looked great, and you made a bunch of calls and you wrote a story, and that was science reporting. And that’s how we all started out.

The world has changed. That is not adequate anymore. If we continue to think, as science writers, that science is an American enterprise and that calls made in American area codes satisfy your needs as a journalist, and that the global ramifications of research, whether it be in America or it be in Britain or wherever it may be, are not part of your story, you don’t have time to think about that, then you’re missing the story entirely. And that will be only more the case as we go forward.

This world is globalizing and it’s time for science writing to do the same thing. And if nothing else happens as a result of this evening’s dinner and our discussion, it is that the Council is saying to you: “The door is open at this end for you to understand and appreciate and get comment on the foreign policy ramifications.” So now the ball is back in your court.

Moving on to the Garrett-CFR-Global Security-View of HIV-propelled AIDS: Here are some key points and quotes from her report of 68 pages.

But first let’s note that according to the 146 footnotes, which cover three pages of tiny typeface possibly designed to give the right scholarly impression, it is based almost exclusively on the non-scientific literatue, with even a single instance of a scientific paper hard to find apart from two or three references to talks at AIDS Conferences, and couple of journal papers whose titles suggest they are of the more imaginative kind, such as the ones arguing that all HIV must originate from Central Africa.

The sources Laurie relies on for her summary of this global topic are her own book, The Coming Plague, and reporting, one or two other trade books, a slew of other newspaper reporters from the likes of the New York Times, the Zimbabwe Daily News, Guardian, the Nation, Reuters, the Boston Globe, AP, the Economist, the Pioneer and the New Delhi Force in India, the Sunday Independent in South Africa, the Washington Post, Radio Free Europe, the Moscow News, and so on; high level public speech from Colin Powell, Al Gore, Bush at his press conferences and Kofi Annan; reports from the UN, Defense Department, the International Institute for Strategic Studies, USAID, the Defense Intelligence Agency, National Intelligence Council, Pretoria Institute for Security Studies, and the World Bank; political journals such as the Journal of Culture and African Women’s Studies, and a few conference papers.

Here is the full footnote list if you wish to see for yourself:

NOTES

1 Markus Haacker, ed., The Macroeconomics of HIV/AIDS (Washington, DC: International Monetary Fund, 2004).

2 L. Altman, “Gains Made to Contain AIDS, but Global Spread Goes On, UN says,” New York Times, June 3, 2005, p. A10;

“Progress made in the implementation of the Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS,” Report of the Secretary-General, UN

General Assembly, Fifty-ninth Session, Agenda item 43, Doc. A/59/765, June 2, 2005.

3 S. Swindle, “Botswana Faces Extinction Because of AIDS,” Reuters, July 8, 2000.

4 Strobe Talbott, “Why Washington wants SADC to act,” The Daily News (Zimbabwe), June 6, 2000, p. 10.

5 Kofi Annan, “A More Secure World: Who Needs to Do What?” Lecture, Council on Foreign Relations, Washington, DC, December

16, 2004; Kofi Annan, “Courage to Fulfill our Responsibilities,” The Economist, December 4, 2004, p. 23; Note by the Secretary-

General, UN General Assembly, Fifty-ninth Session, Agenda item 55, Doc. A/59/565.

6 Richard N. Haass, The Opportunity: America’s Moment to Alter History’s Course (New York: Public Affairs, 2005), p. 25.

7 Colin Powell, Speech to the Global Business Coalition on AIDS 2003 Awards for Business Excellence, June 12, 2003, see

http://www.kintera.org/atf/cf/{EE846F03-1625-4723-9A53-B0CDD2195782}/gbc_awards_transcript_2003.pdf.

8 “Vice President Gore’s Remarks on AIDS to UN Security Council,” Remarks at the United Nations, New York, NY, January 10,

2000, see http://www.aegis.com/news/usis/2000/US000102.html.

9 Marcella David, “Rubber Helmets: The Certain Pitfalls of Marshaling Security Council Resources to Combat AIDS in Africa,”

Human Rights Quarterly, 23 (2001), pp. 560–82; UN Security Council Resolution 1308, July 17, 2000.

10 J. Ban, “Health as a Global Security Challenge,” Seton Hall Journal of Diplomacy and International Relations, Summer/Fall 2003,

pp. 19–28; Robert L. Ostergard, “Personalist regimes and the insecurity dilemma: Prioritizing AIDS as a national security threat in

Uganda,” in Amy Patterson, ed., The African State and the AIDS Crisis (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2004).

11 Department of Defense HIV/AIDS Prevention Program, Periodic Activity Report (Washington, DC: Department of Defense, May

21, 2004); D.J. Ortiz et al., “Who is protecting our militaries? A systematic literature review of military HIV/AIDS prevention pro-

grams worldwide,” Presentation at XV International AIDS Conference, Bangkok, Thailand, July 16–21, 2004.

12 “Vietnam, U.S. Militaries Meet on HIV/AIDS,” Associated Press, April 15, 2004.

13 John Donnelly, “U.S. assists African armies in AIDS battle,” The Boston Globe, May 25, 2004.

14 For forecasts see: Global Trends 2015: A Dialogue About the Future with Nongovernment Experts (Washington, DC: National

Intelligence Council, 2000); Mapping the Global Future, Report of the National Intelligence Council’s 2020 Project, Government

Printing Office, GPO Stock 041-015-0024-6, Washington, DC, 2004.

15 R.S. Gottfried, The Black Death: Natural and Human Disaster in the Medieval Europe (New York: Free Press, 1983).

16 D. Herlihy, The Black Death and the Transformation of the West (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1997).

17 S. Cohen, “Introduction,” in D. Herlihy, The Black Death and the Transformation of the West; Ibid; P. Ziegler, The Black Death (New

York: Harper and Row, 1969), pp. 221–22; B.A. Tuchman, A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century (New York: Knopf,

1978); G. Boccaccio, The Decameron, trans. Mark Mysa and Peter Bondanella (New York: Norton and Company, 1983); G. Villani,

Selections from the first nine books of the Croniche Fiorentine of Giovanni Villani (Edinburgh: Archibald Constable and Co., 1987);

B.F. Harvey, Before the Black Death: Studies in the ‘Crisis’ of the Early Fourteenth Century, B.M.S. Campbell, ed. (Manchester:

University of Manchester Press, 1991), pp. 1–24.

18 Herlihy, Black Death.

19 A. Whiteside and C. Sunter, AIDS: The Challenge for South Africa (Cape Town: Human and Rousseau Tafelberg, 2000).

20 “Threats Without Enemies: the security aspects of HIV/AIDS,” Pugwash Meeting No. 297, compiled by Gwyn Prins, Limpopo,

South Africa, June 25–28, 2004.

21 George W. Bush, White House News Conference, July 3, 2003.

22 Steven L. B. Jensen, “Fatal Years: How HIV/AIDS is Impacting National and International Security–A Desk Review of the

Literature and Analytical Approaches” (Geneva: UNAIDS Security and Humanitarian Response Unit, March–April 2004).

23 Martin Schönteich, “The Impact of Communicable Disease on Violent Conflict and International Security,” Presentation at the

Demographic Association of Southern Africa Annual Workshop and Conference, University of the Western Cape, September 24–27,

2002; P. Fourie and M. Schönteich, “Africa’s new security threat: HIV/AIDS and human security in Southern Africa,” African

Security Review, 10.4, 2001, pp. 35–36; Robyn Pharaoh and Martin Schönteich, “AIDS, Security, and Governance in Southern

Africa: Exploring the impact,” Occasional Paper No. 65 (Pretoria: Institute for Security Studies, January 2003).

24 Global Trends 2015.

25 Curt Anderson, “CIA Director says AIDS Threatens Stability, Economic Health Worldwide,” Associated Press, February 11, 2003.

26 “The Kerry-Edwards Plan to Respond to the AIDS Crisis: Will Invest in Combating the AIDS Epidemic in the United States and

Around the World,” Doctors and Nurses for John Kerry, June 20, 2005, see http://www.rchusid.addr.com/aids.htm.

27 Mapping the Global Future.

28 Ban, “Health as a Global Security Challenge”; Mark Schneider and Michael Moodie, “The Destabilizing Impacts of HIV/AIDS First

Wave Hits Eastern and Southern Africa; Second Wave Threatens India, China, Russia, Ethiopia, Nigeria,” CSIS HIV/AIDS Task

Force, May 2002, p. 6; Global Trends 2010 (Washington, DC: National Intelligence Council, November 1997).

29 Robert Shell and Patricia Smonds Qaga, “Trojan horses: HIV/AIDS and military bases in Southern Africa,” Demographic

Association of Southern Africa, Annual Workshop and Conference, September 24–27, 2002.

30 International Crisis Group, HIV/AIDS as a Security Issue in Africa: Lessons from Uganda, ICG Issues Report No. 3, Kampala/

Brussels, April 16, 2004; Confronting AIDS: Public Priorities in a Global Epidemic (Washington, DC: World Bank, 1999), p. 161.

31 Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, HIV/AIDS, Security and Democracy (The Hague: Clingendael Institue, May 4, 2005).

32 “Russia: Number of HIV Carriers Among Potential Draftees Grows 25 Times,” Interfax-AVN, November 27, 2003; J. Bransten,

“Russia: Government Shows Signs of Acknowledging Country’s AIDS Epidemic,” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, March 31,

2005; “Russia: AIDS a National Security Threat,” Associated Press, March 30, 2005; V.M. Volzhanin, “Trends Followed in HIV

Occurrence Among RF Military Personnel,” Moscow Voyenno-Meditsinskiy Zhunali, January 31, 2004, pp. 57–62.

33 “Russian Military Said to Reject 30 Percent of Conscripts Due to Poor Health,” ITAR-TASS (English), February 11, 2005.

34 Murray Feshbach, “HIV/AIDS in the Russian Military–Update,” Prepared for UNAIDS Meeting, Copenhagen, Denmark, February

22–23, 2005; Murray Feshbach, “Tracking and Analysis of HIV/AIDS & TB in Russia and the Impact on Social Transition”

(Washington, DC: U.S. Agency for International Development, January 2005).

35 “Russia: AIDS a National Security Threat,” Associated Press, March 30, 2005; Bransten, “Russia: Government Shows Signs of

Acknowledging Country’s AIDS Epidemic,” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, March 31, 2005; Feshbach, “HIV/AIDS in the

Russian Military—Update”; Peter Finn, “HIV/AIDS in Russia May Be Triple Official Rate, Report Warns,” The Washington Post,

January 12, 2005; “Russia: AIDS,” Associated Press, Copenhagen, Denmark, February 22–23, 2005.

36 Feshbach, “HIV/AIDS in the Russian Military–Update”; Murray Feshbach and Christina Galvin, “HIV/AIDS in Russia and

Ukraine–An Analysis of Statistics: Tracking and Analysis of HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis in Russia and Ukraine and the Impact on

Social Transition” (Washington, DC: U.S. Agency for International Development, 2004).

37 Murray Feshbach, “HIV/AIDS and the Military: Russian Worries–Real or Not But Worries,” Center for Strategic and International

Studies and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2002; Vadim Ampelonskiy, “Russian Army Hemorrhaging Junior Officers,”

Moscow Moskovskiy Komsomolets, December 16, 2004.

38 Mechai Viravaidya, Presentation at Uniformed Leadership Forum Session, July 12, 2004, XV International AIDS Conference,

Bangkok, Thailand, July 16–21, 2004.

39 Sonny Inbaraj, “Health-Thailand: Military Combats AIDS its Own Way,” Inter Press Service, July 12, 2004.

40 International Crisis Group, HIV/AIDS; “Paper says over 800,000 Ugandans infected with HIV,” The New Vision (Kampala), May 3,

2005.

41 “HIV/AIDS in Army,” The Chronicle (Malawi), March 31, 2003.

42 “Army Details Receive Arvs,” The Herald (Zimbabwe), August 11, 2004; Godfrey Marawanyika, “Military hit by HIV scourge,” The

Independent (Zimbabwe), June 11, 2004; Martin Revayi Rupiya, “HIV-AIDS and the security sector in Zimbabwe: strategies for

prevention, care treatment, and sensitizing society of the pandemic,” New York, UNDP Project; “Zimbabwe: Alarm Over HIV

Prevalence in Armed Forces,” UN Integrated Regional Information Networks, June 24, 2004.

43 “AIDS Kills 150 Mozambican Policemen,” Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique, September 11, 2002.

44 Lyndy Heinecken, “Strategic implications of HIV/AIDS in South Africa,” Conflict, Security, and Development, 2001, pp. 109–15.

45 “Soldiers Fear Virus More Than Bullets,” Business Day (South Africa), May 8, 2000.

46 Heinecken, “Strategic implications.”

47 Elliott Sylvester, “A Fifth of South Africa’s Military Infected with HIV; Minister Says He’s Not Alarmed,” Associated Press, July 10,

2004; Jani Meyer, “SANDF Unveils Shock AIDS Data,” Sunday Independent (South Africa), August 1, 2004.

48 “No AIDS crisis in SANDF, says Lekota,” Mercury (South Africa), August 3, 2004.

49 Jeremy Michaels, “What future awaits HIV-positive soldiers?,” The Star (South Africa), August 18, 2004; Meyer, “SANDF Unveils

shock AIDS data”; Pugwash, “Threats without enemies.”

50 Rory Carroll, “Armed Forces hit by HIV,” The Guardian (United Kingdom), June 23, 2004.

51 Martin Schönteich, “A Bleak Outlook: HIV/AIDS and the South African Police Service,” South Africa Crime Quarterly, September

2003.

52 Pharaoh and Schönteich, “AIDS, Security, and Governance in Southern Africa.”

53 Yigeremu Abede, Ab Schaap, Girmatchew Mamo, et al., “HIV prevalence in 72,000 Urban and Rural Male Army Recruits,

Ethiopia,” AIDS, 17, 2003, pp. 1835–40.

54 Armed Forces Medical Intelligence Center, Impact of HIV/AIDS on Military Forces: sub-Saharan Africa, DI-1817-2-00 (unclassi-

fied sections) (Washington, DC: Defense Intelligence Agency, 2000).

55 D. Thompson and B. Gill, “HIV/AIDS as a security threat: Implications for China,” Presented at XV International AIDS

Conference, Bangkok, Thailand, July 16–21, 2004; Renmin Junyi, “Impact of AIDS on the Military,” People’s Military Surgeon

(China), February 28, 1997, pp. 64–65.

56 Dipankar Chakraorty, “India: Author Seeks ‘Immediate’ Action to Check HIV Infection Among Armed Forces,” New Delhi Force,

December 1, 2004; V.R. Raghavan, “Indefinitely in force: The army is still in Manipur owing to a failure of governance,” The

Telegraph, August 25, 2004.

57 Ulf Kristoffersson, personal communication, May 11, 2005.

58 “AIDS said killing two Papua New Guinea soldiers per month,” BBC Monitoring Service, July 12, 2004; John Martinkus, “Military

in Firing Line,” New Zealand Herald, March 3, 2003; Karen Fredericks, “Papua New Guinea: Police brutalise, charge AIDS work-

ers,” Green Left (Australia), March 22, 2004.

59 “Botswana: Anti-AIDS Drugs for Armed Forces,” UN Integrated Regional Information Network, March 10, 2005.

60 D.E. Singer et al., “HIV-1 Incidence and Prevalence Among U.S. Army Personnel (Active Duty, Reserve, and National Guard),

1986–2003,” Presented at XV International AIDS Conference, Bangkok, Thailand, July 11–16, 2004; W. B. Sateren et al., “HIV-1

Incidence Among United States Army Personnel, 1985–1999: Demographic and Occupational Risk Factors,” Presented at 2001

National HIV Prevention Conference, Atlanta, Georgia, August 12–15, 2001; W. B. Sateren, “HIV-1 Prevalence in Civilian

Applicants for U.S. Military Service 1985 to 2000: Demographic and Geographic Correlates of Infection,” Presented at XV

International AIDS Conference, Bangkok, Thailand, July 11–16, 2004; W.B. Sateren, “Mortality Experience of HIV-Infected and

Uninfected Civilian Applicants for United States Military Service, 1985–2001,” Presented at XV International AIDS Conference,

Bangkok, Thailand, July 11–16, 2004.

61 I.L. Pires et al., “Disease Progression in Prevalence of Drug Resistance Mutations, in Drug-Naïve Subjects Infected With Different

HIV-1 Subtypes in the Army Health Service in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil,” Presented at XV International AIDS Conference, Bangkok,

Thailand, July 11–16, 2004; W.B. Sateren et al., “Mortality and Survival from HIV-1 Infection Among HIV-Positive and Matched

HIV-Negative Active Duty US Army Personnel, 1985–2001,” Presented at XV International AIDS Conference, Bangkok, Thailand,

July 11–16, 2004.

62 M. Gordon et al., “Surveillance of Antiretroviral Drug Resistance in a Single HIV Clinic in KwaZulu-Natal South Africa,” Presented

at XV International AIDS Conference, Bangkok, Thailand, July 11–16, 2004.

63 International Crisis Group, HIV/AIDS; Rodger Yeager, “HIV/AIDS: Implications for Development and Security in Sub-Saharan

Africa,” Civil-Military Alliance to Combat HIV and AIDS, 2003; The Military Balance 2002–2003, International Institute for

Strategic Studies (London: Oxford Press, 2003), p. 333, pp. 335–36.

64 Jim Fisher-Thompson, “AIDS Among African Militaries Concerns Former Top U.S. Commander,” All Africa Global Media, March

4, 2004, see http://www.allafrica.com; “Ruling on HIV could affect regional armies,” Business Day (South Africa), May 11, 2000.

65 I.C. Wamundu, “Challenges and benefits of providing VCT to military populations,” Presented at XV International AIDS

Conference, Bangkok, Thailand, July 16–21, 2004.

66 Brighton Phiri, “Muliokela lectures Sierra Leone bound soldiers on HIV/AIDS,” The Post (Zambia), January 22, 2003.

67 Roxannea Bazergan and Philippab Easterbrook, “HIV and UN peacekeeping operations,” AIDS, 17.2, 2003, pp. 278–79.

68 Stefan Lovgran, “African Army Hastening HIV/AIDS Spread,” Journal of Culture and African Women Studies, 2001, see

http://www.jendajournal.com/jenda/vol1.2/lovgren.html.

69 E.J. Essien et al., “HIV transmission risk behaviors in the Nigerian Army,” Presented at XV International AIDS Conference,

Bangkok, Thailand, July 16–21, 2004; “Fighting Aids Scourge in the Military,” This Day (Nigeria), January 8, 2003.

70 Cahal Milmo, “U.N. Peacekeepers Sexually Abusing Girls In D.R.C. Camp,” London Independent, May 25, 2004.

71 Michael Fleshman, “AIDS Prevention in the Ranks,” Africa Recovery, June 2001, pp. 16–18; “Minister bemoans high AIDS rate in

military,” Nigeria AIDS Bulletin, June 18, 2000, see http://www.nigeria.aids.org.

72 Catherine A. Hankins et al., “Transmission and prevention of HIV and sexually transmitted infections in war settings: Implications

for current and future armed conflicts,” AIDS, 16, 2002, pp. 2245–52.

73 E.G. Bing et al., “Behavioral and HIV serologic surveillance among Angolan military,” Presented at XV International AIDS

Conference, Bangkok, Thailand, July 16–21, 2004; E. Bing, “Prevention and Care in Conflict and Post-Conflict Settings.”

74 “AIDS in war and peace: The Deadly Dividend,” The Economist, September 18, 2004, p. 54.

75 HIV Women’s Treatment Access Report Card, July 2004, “Rape, Sexual Violence, and HIV in Conflict and Post-Conflict Zones,”

see http://www.we-actx.org; Mamadou Amat, “AIDS used as a weapon in African conflicts,” Panapress (Senegal), December 2,

2002; P. Salignon et al., “Health and war in Congo-Brazzaville,” The Lancet, 356, 2000, p. 1762; Peter Owyor, “Uganda: Army

Officer Arrested over HIV Infections,” Inter Press Service, February 9, 2000; R.L. Ostergard, “HIV/AIDS, the Military and the

Future of Africa’s Security,” Presented at International Studies Association Convention Montreal, Canada, March 17–20, 2004.

76 L. Munyakazi, “Prevention and Care in Conflict and Post-Conflict Settings,” Presentation to UCLA conference “Integrating HIV

Prevention and Care in Africa: Existing Challenges and Innovative Solutions,” April 15, 2005.

77 Clair Mulanga et al., “Political and socioeconomic instability: How does it affect HIV? A Case Study in the Democratic Republic of

the Congo,” AIDS, 18, 2004, pp. 832–34.

78 Fleshman, “AIDS Prevention”; Lovgren, “African Army”; Peter Salama, Bruce Laurence, and Monica L. Nolan, “Health and human

rights in contemporary humanitarian crises: Is Kosovo more important than Sierra Leone?,” British Medical Journal, 319, 1999, pp.

1569–71; “The problems of reintegrating child soldiers,” UN Integrated Regional Information Network, April 12, 2005.

79 Laurie Garrett, The Coming Plague: Newly Emerging Diseases in a World Out of Balance (New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux,

1994).

80 Karen Chang, in “Prevention and Care in Conflict and Post-Conflict Settings,” Presentation to UCLA conference “Integrating

HIV/Prevention and Care in Africa: existing challenges and innovative solutions,” April 15, 2005.

81 P.N. Khera, “AID(S)ing terror,” The Pioneer (India), April 11, 2004.

82 Ellis Shuman, “Terrorists planned to explode bomb tainted with HIV-infected blood,” Israel Insider, April 13, 2004.

83 C.S. Smith, “Libya Ties Reprieve for Nurses to Payment for AIDS Victims,” New York Times, December 7, 2004, p. A5; C.S. Smith,

“Libyans in HIV Case say They’re Forgotten Victims,” New York Times, December 19, 2004, p. A24; C.S. Smith, “US Criticizes

Bulgarian Nurses’ Conviction,” The Lancet, vol. 363, no. 9421, 2004; K. Morris, “Torture Continues for Death—Sentence Medics

in Libya,” The Lancet, vol. 4, no. 6, 2004; “Libya Delays Ruling on Bulgarian Nurses Appeal,” Bulgarian Network News, March 31,

2005; “Libya to Boycott Trade, Investment with Bulgaria over Dispute Involving Nurses Who Allegedly Infected Children with

HIV,” Bulgarian Network News, Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, April 14, 2005; W.C. Mann, “E.U. Officials Call for Release of

Bulgarian Nurses Sentenced to Death in Libyan HIV Infection Case,” Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, March 10, 2005; W.C.

Mann, “United States Promises to Work to Get Libya to Free Bulgarian Nurses in AIDS Trial,” Associated Press, March 25, 2005; K.

Morris, “Torture Continues for Death—Sentence Medics in Libya,” The Lancet, vol. 4, no. 6, 2004.

84 Bette Korber et al., “Evolutionary and immunological implications of contemporary HIV-1 variation,” British Medical Bulletin, 58,

2001, pp. 19–42; Mark N. Lurie et al., “Who infects whom? HIV-1 concordance and discordance among migrant and non-migrant

couples in South Africa,” AIDS, 17, 2003, pp. 2245–52; Martin Peeters, “Recombinant HIV Sequences: Their Role in the Global

Epidemic,” Laboratoire Retrovirus, Institut de Recherche pour le Developpement, Montpellier, France, December 2000, p. I-48.

85 Rongge Yang et al., “Ongoing generation of multiple forms of HIV-1 intersubtype recombinants in the Yunnan Province of China,”

AIDS, 16, 2002, pp. 1401–07; Yutaka Takebe et al., “High prevalence of diverse forms of HIV-1 intersubtype recombinants in

Central Myanmar: Geographical hot spot of extensive recombination,” AIDS, 17, 2003, pp. 2077–87.

86 Francine M. McCutchan et al., “HIV-1 and Drug Trafficking: Viral Strains Illuminate Networks and Provide focus for

Interventions,” National Institute on Drug Abuse Satellite Sessions in Association with the XIV International AIDS Conference,

Barcelona, Spain, 2002.

87 D. Wolfe, “Thanks to the Drug War, A Global AIDS Epidemic is Exploding Among Injection Drug Users,” The Nation, April 16,

2004; Dario Agnote, “ADB says sex industry continues to thrive in Myanmar,” Kyodo News (Japan), November 12, 2004; Francine

E. McCutchan et al., “HIV-1 and Drug Trafficking: viral strains illuminate networks and provide focus for interventions,” NIDA

Satellite Sessions in Association with the XIV International AIDS Conference, Barcelona, Spain, 2002.

88 C. Beyrer et al., “Overland heroin trafficking routes and HIV spread in South and Southeast Asia,” AIDS, 14, 2000, pp. 1–9.

89 “HIV/AIDS: A Major International Security Issue,” Asia Pacific Ministerial Meeting, Melbourne, Australia, October 9–10, 2001.

90 Jean Carr et al., “Diverse BF recombinations have spread widely since the introduction of HIV-1 into South America,” AIDS, 15,

2001, pp. 41–47.

91 D. Huang et al., “Further sequence characterization of BCF-Dioum and BCF-Kita, two NED subtype panel strains originating from

the Democratic Republic of Congo,” Presented at XV International AIDS Conference, Bangkok, Thailand, July 11–16, 2004; John

Mokili and Bette Korber, “The Spread of HIV in Africa,” Los Alamos National Laboratory (personal communication), 2005; Laurie

Garrett, “Allies of AIDS: Among warring factions in Congo, disease is mutating,” Newsday, July 9, 2000; Nicole Vidal et al.,

“Unprecedented Degree of Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 (HIV-1) Group M Genetic Diversity in the Democratic

Republic of Congo Suggests that the HIV-1 Pandemic originated in Central Africa,” Journal of Virology, 74, 2000, pp. 10498–507.

92 Christopher Bodeen, “AP Interview: Chinese AIDS Activist, Once Labeled Subversive, Rises to Prominence,” Associated Press, March

31, 2004; Elizabeth Rosenthal, “China now Facing an AIDS Epidemic, A Top Aide Admits,” New York Times, August 24, 2001;

Jonathan Watts, “Hidden from the World, a Village Dies of AIDS while China Refuses to Face a Growing Crisis,” The Guardian,

October 25, 2003.

93 Human Development Report 2004: Cultural Liberty in Today’s Diverse World (New York: United Nations Development Programme,

2004).

94 Moyiga Nduru, “Southern Africa: HIV/AIDS May be Undermining Democracy,” Inter Press News Service, November 26, 2004;

Pharaoh and Shönteich, “AIDS Security.”

95 Alan Whiteside, “How Will HIV/AIDS Transform African Governance?” EU Presidency Seminar on Africa, Dublin, April 22–23,

2005; R. Manning, “HIV/AIDS, Economics, and Governance in South Africa: Key Issues in Understanding Response–A Literature

Review,” USAID, July 2002.

96 Powell, Speech to the Global Business Coalition on AIDS.

97 Pam Groenewald et al., Nadine Nannan, David Bourne, Ria Laubscher, and Debbie Bradshaw, “Identifying deaths from AIDS in

South Africa,” AIDS, 19, 2005, pp. 193–201; “AIDS Blamed as South Africa’s Death Rate Soars,” Reuters, February 18, 2005.

98 Griffith M. Feeney, “The impact of HIV/AIDS on adult mortality in Zimbabwe,” Population and Development Review, 27.4, 2001,

p. 771.

99 I.M. Timaeus, “Impact of the HIV epidemic on mortality in sub-Saharan Africa: Evidence from national surveys and censuses,”

AIDS, 12, 1998, suppl. 1, pp. 515–17; Carol Levine and Geoff Foster, “The White Oak Report: Building International Support for

Children Affected by AIDS,” executive summary (New York: The Orphan Project, 2000).

100 UNDP Statistical Fact Sheet, HIV/AIDS, July 2002, see http://www.undp.org/hiv/publications/index.htm.

101 Ibid.

102 Maria Klimova, “People. Life with AIDS,” The Moscow News, No. 8, 2005.

103 C.G. Mesquida and N.I. Wiener, “Male age composition and severity in conflicts,” Politics and Life Sciences, 18.2, 1999, p. 187.

104 R.P. Cincotta, R. Engelman, and D. Anastasion, The Security Demographic: Population and Civil Conflict After the Cold War

(Washington, DC: Population Action International, 2003); R.P. Cincotta and R. Engelman, “Conflict Thrives Where Young Men are

Many,” International Herald Tribune, March 2, 2004.

105 Cincotta, Security Demographic.

106 Margaret McCallin, “The Prevention of Under-Age Military Recruitment: A Review of Local and Community-Based Concerns and

Initiatives” (London: International Save the Children Alliance, 2002).

107 Anthony Stahelski, “Terrorists are Made, Not Born,” Journal of Homeland Security, March 2004, see http://www.homelandsecuri-

ty.org/journal/Articles/stahelski.html. See also: R. Loeber and M. Stouthamer-Loeber, “Family Factors as Correlates and Predictors

of Juvenile Conduct Problems and Delinquency,” in M. Tonry and N. Morris, eds., Crime and Justice (Chicago: University of

Chicago Press, Chicago, 1986), pp. 29–149; J. Bowlby, Forty-four Juvenile Thieves: Their Characters and Home Life (London:

Bailliere, Tindall and Cox, 1947); S.M.D. Gabel, “Behavioral Problems in Sons of Incarcerated or Otherwise Absent Fathers: The

Issue of Separation,” Family Process, 31, 1992, p. 303; Childhood Under Threat, State of the World’s Children 2005 (New York:

UNICEF, 2005), pp. 39–45.

108 Rachel Bray, “Predicting the Social Consequences of Orphanhood in South Africa,” Center for Social Science Research Working

Paper No. 29, published by the Centre for Social Science Research, University of Cape Town, 2003; S. Hunter and J. Williamson,

Children on the Brink (Washington, DC: USAID, 2000); “Coping with the Impact of AIDS,” in Mead Over and Martha Ainsworth;

Confronting AIDS; Geoff Foster et al., “Factors Leading to the Establishment of Child-headed Households: The Case of

Zimbabwe,” Health Transition Review, Supplement 2, 7, 1997, pp. 155–68; R.S. Drew, C. Makufa, and G. Foster, “Strategies for

Providing Care and Support to Children Orphaned by AIDS,” AIDS Care, Supplement 1, 10, 1998, pp. S9–S15; “No Excuses:

Facing up to Sub-Saharan Africa’s AIDS Orphans Crisis,” Christian Aid, May 2001, see http://www.christian-

aid.org.uk/indepth/0105aids/aidsorph.htm; Philip H. Cook, Sandra Ali, and Alistair Munthali, “Starting From Strengths:

Community Care For Orphaned Children in Malawi,” Final Report Submitted to the International Development Research Centre,

Centre for Social Research, 1998, see http://web.uvic.ca/icrd/pub_resources.html; Joanne Csete and Michael Bochenek, “In The

Shadow Of Death: HIV/AIDS and Children’s Rights in Kenya,” 13.4A, 2001, see http://hrw.org/reports/2001/kenya/.

109 G. Foster et al., “Orphan prevalence and extended family care in a peri-urban community in Zimbabwe,” AIDS Care, 7, 1995, pp.

3–18.

110 Kalanidhi Subbarao and Diane Coury, Reaching Out to Africa’s Orphans: A Framework for Public Action (Washington, DC: World

Bank, 2004).

111 S. LaFraniere. “AIDS, Pregnancy, and Poverty Trap Ever More African Girls,” New York Times, June 3, 2005, p. A1; Facing the

future together: Report of the Secretary-General’s Task Force on Women, Girls, and HIV/AIDS in Southern Africa (New York: United

Nations, 2004).

112 LaFraniere, “AIDS, Pregnancy.”

113 S. Leclerc-Madlala, “Crime in an epidemic: The case of rape and AIDS,” Acta Criminologica, 9.2, 1996, p. 35.

114 Caroline Hooper-Box, “Three million AIDS orphans within 10 years,” Sunday Independent (South Africa), October 6, 2001; Tamar

Renaud, “HIV/AIDS and children affected by armed conflict,” draft, UNICEF, April 2001; International Save the Children

Alliance, “HIV and Conflict: A Double Emergency” (London: Save the Children United Kingdom, 2002); E. Guest, Children of

Africa: Africa’s Orphan Crisis (KawZulu-Natal: University of Natal Press, 2003), p. 161; “Forty million orphans: How AIDS will

disrupt African society,” The Economist, November 28, 2002.

115 “Africa: New thinking needed to counter AIDS in rural communities,” UN Integrated Regional Information Network, April 15,

2005.

116 Peter Piot, “AIDS’ ripple effects in developing nations,” Chicago Tribune, December 1, 2002.

117 “Southern Africa food security brief,” Famine Early Warning Systems Network, Chemonics International, Pretoria, August 15, 2004.

118 AF-AIDS, “Swaziland–Impact of HIV/AIDS on Agriculture and the Private Sector,” Global Development Network, December 18,

2002; Alex deWaal, “‘New Variant’ Famine: How AIDS has changed the hunger equation,” All Africa Global Media, November 20,

2002, see http://www.allafrica.com; Carolyn Baylies, “The Impact of AIDS on Rural Households in Africa: A shock like any

other?,” Development and Change, 33, 2002, pp. 611–32; Gabriel Rugalema, “Coping or Struggling? A Journey into the Impact of

HIV/AIDS in Southern Africa,” Review of African Political Economy, 86, 2000, pp. 537–45; Hall Montecute, “Our People are

Forced to Eat Root and Leaves,” Reuters Alert Network, November 20, 2002.

119 Confronting AIDS, pp. 222–25.

120 M.P. Mangwana, Key Note Address (untitled), at the official launch of the Zimbabwe Human Development Report 2003 on HIV

and AIDS, Harare, May 6, 2004.

121 “Agricultural Response to AIDS Crisis Urgently Needed,” Press Release (Geneva: UNAIDS, June 30, 2003); “Addressing the

Impact of HIV/AIDS on Ministries of Agriculture: Focus on Eastern and Southern Africa” (Rome: Food and Agriculture

Organization/UNAIDS, 2002).

122 See also: Pia Malaney, “The Impact of HIV/AIDS on the Education Sector in Southern Africa,” Consulting Assistance on Economic

Reform II, Discussion Paper no. 81, August 2000.

123 “HIV/AIDS and work: global estimates, impact and response” (Geneva: International Labor Organization, 2004).

124 Moses Sserwango, “Bundibugyo in AIDS scare,” The New Vision (Uganda), May 19, 2000, p. 7; “AIDS and Malaria Cost Uganda a

Billion Dollars, says President,” Associated Press, November 18, 2002; Clive Bell, Shantayana Devarajan, and Hans Gersbach, “The

Long-run Economic Costs of AIDS: Theory and Application to South Africa” (Washington, DC: World Bank, June 2003), pp. 8–9;

A. Price-Smith, “Downward Spiral: HIV/AIDS, State Capacity, and Political Conflict in Zimbabwe,” United States Institue of

Peace, Peaceworks No. 53, UNAIDS, July 2004.

125 Alex deWaal, “How will HIV-AIDS transform African governance?,” African Affairs, 102.406, 2003, pp. 1–23; Bell, Devarajan, and

Gersbach, “The Long-run Economic Costs of AIDS”; Price-Smith, “Downward Spiral”; Haacker, The Macroeconomics of HIV/AIDS.

126 AIDS in Africa: Three Scenarios to 2025 (Geneva: UNAIDS Programme, 2005); International Crisis Group, “HIV/AIDS as a

Security Issue in Africa: Lessons from Uganda,” ICG Issues Report No. 3, April 16, 2004, p. 7; Kathleen Beegle, “Labor Effects of

Adult Mortality in Tanzanian Households,” World Bank Policy Research Working Paper 3062, May 2003.

127 René Bonnel, “HIV/AIDS: Does it increase or decrease growth in Africa?” (Washington, DC: ACTAfrica and the World Bank,

November 2000).

128 DeWaal, “How will HIV/AIDS transform African governance?”; Mark Schneider and Michael Moodie, “The Destabilizing Impacts

of HIV/AIDS” (Washington, DC: Center for Strategic and International Studies HIV/AIDS Task Force, May 2002); Drew

Thompson, “Pre-empting an HIV/AIDS disaster in China,” Seton Hall Journal of Diplomacy and International Relations, 2003, pp.

29–44; Francis Onwudo and Chioma Nnadozie, “AIDS: Industries Lament Loss of Skilled Manpower,” This Day (Nigeria),

December 7, 2004.

129 Peter Piot, “Why AIDS is exceptional,” speech, London School of Economics, London, February 8, 2005; Confronting AIDS; Alan

Whiteside, “Health, Economic Growth, and Competitiveness in Africa,” Paper presented at the Africa Economic Summit, Maputo,

Mozambique, 2004.

130 P. VonWielligh, Presentation to AIDS in Africa symposium, UCLA, April 15, 2005; O. King Akerele, cited by L. Bollinger and J.

Stover, eds., The Economic Impact of AIDS in South Africa (Washington, DC: Futures Group International, September 1999).

131 “South Africa: economic overview,” South Africa alive with possibility: The Official Gateway, September 10, 2004, see

http://www.southafrica.info/doing_business/economy/econoverview.htm.

132 Global Trends 2015.

133 “The Truth About Oil and the Looming World Energy Crisis: Equatorial Guinea,” MBendi, Information for Africa, see

http://www.mbendi.co.za/indy/oilg/af/eg/p0005.htm; Global Trends 2015.

134 Thomas Frank and Laurie Garrett, “Embassy Bombings: Heroes Amid Chaos: Rescue Workers and Hospitals Overwhelmed,”

Newsday, August 8, 1998, p. A7.

135 “AIDS and South African Business,” The Economist, October 5, 2002.

136 E. Schmitt, “Africans Join Iraqi Insurgency, U.S. Counters with Military Training in Their Lands,” New York Times, June 10, 2005,

p. A11.

137 Francis T. Miko, “Removing Terrorist Sanctuaries: The 9/11 Commission Recommendations and U.S. Policy,” Congressional

Research Service Report for Congress (Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service, August 10, 2004), p. 12; Todd Pitman,

“U.S. General Says al-Qaeda Eyeing Africa,” Associated Press/CBS News, March 5, 2004, see http://www.cbsnews.com/sto-

ries/2004/03/05/terror/main604297.shtml; Charles Goredema, “Money laundering in Southern Africa: Incidence, magnitude,

and prospects for its control” (Pretoria: Institute for Security Studies, October 2004); R.H. Shultz, D. Farah, I.V. Lochard, “Armed

Groups: A Tier-One Security Priority,” Occasional Paper 57 (Colorado: U.S. Air Force Institute for National Security Studies, U.S.

Air Force Academy, September 2004).

138 Trevor Neilson, “AIDS, Economics, and Terrorism in Africa,” Discussion Paper (New York: Global Business Coalition on

HIV/AIDS, January 2005).

139 Kofi Annan, A More Secure World: Our Shared Responsibility, Report of the Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Threats,

Challenges, and Change (New York: United Nations, December 2, 2004), see http://www.un.org/secureworld/.

140 “AIDS/HIV work” (Geneva: International Labor Organization, 2004); “The state of the world population 2004” (New York:

United Nations Population Fund, 2004), p. 84; M. O’Grady, “The impoverishing pandemic: The impact of the HIV/AIDS crisis in

Southern Africa on development,” in Mark Heywood, ed., From Disaster to Development: HIV and AIDS in Southern Africa

Development Update, 5.3, pp. 17–43.

141 U.S. Census Bureau, International Data Base, see http://www.census.gov/cgi.bin.ipc/aggen.

142 Brent Scowcroft, “A More Secure World: Who Needs to Do What,” Remarks to the Council on Foreign Relations, Washington, DC,

December 16, 2004; A More Secure World: Our Shared Responsibility.

143 A.M.K. Mohd Khalib, “HIV/AIDS prevention in Southeast Asia against the backdrop of the ‘War on Terror,’” Presented at XV

International AIDS Conference, Bangkok, Thailand, July 16–21, 2004; H. Worth, “AIDS and imperialism: HIV in a globalized

world,” Presented at XV International AIDS Conference, Bangkok, Thailand, July 16–21, 2004.

144 R.L. Tobias, “Making Progress on AIDS in Africa,” Remarks at a Foreign Press Center Briefing, Washington, DC, May 7, 2004;

“President Bush’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief: Aid to Orphans and Vulnerable Children,” Fact Sheet, Office of the U.S. Global

AIDS Coordinator, May 24, 2005.

145 “Global HIV/AIDS Epidemic: Selection of Antiretroviral Medications Provided under U.S. Emergency Plan Is Limited,” Report to

Congressional Requesters, Government Accountability Office, January 2005. Office of the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator, “The

President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief-Compassionate Action Provides Hope Through Treatment Success,” Fact Sheet,

January 26, 2005.

146 “The Global Fund Voluntary Replenishment 2005: A Technical Note on Contribution Scenarios,” The Global Fund to Fight AIDS,

Tuberculosis and Malaria, Geneva, see http://www.theglobalfund.org/en/about/replenishment/. 65

As this list indicates the resulting report is simply a synthesis of all the other scientifically uninformed high level official chatter, waffle and claptrap of the bigwigs and politicos of the international government and NGO circuit, drawn up by their advisers, speechwriters and think tanks, who mostly draw from each other and the media, just as Garrett does. The process is long standing. We recall seeing it in action at the Eonomist Intelligence Unit which used to prepare high priced quarterly surveys of the business and political prospects of countries round the world with a simple modus operandi: a pile of recent news clips was dumped on the writer’s desk for him or her to synthesise into expert sounding prognostication.

Laurie’s upfront acknowledgements sketch the structure perfectly. The CFR is an independent organization but its report was prepared exclusively through cosy relationships with fellow establishment sources without any reference whatsoever to scientific critics, who actually include some academics and Nobel prize winners of equal prominence in the establishment of science. In fact, the UN agency UNAIDS which prepares the global AIDS statistics Laurie uses for the report is among the providers of AIDS numbers (WHO is the other) most severely criticized by skeptical AIDS reviewers:

Acknowledgments

The process of researching and producing HIV and National Security: Where Are the Links? spanned eighteen months, engaged a large list of participants and contributors, and involved field research in several countries.

From the outset in March 2004, the Global Health Program at the Council on Foreign Relations worked closely with the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), cosponsoring three critical meetings of experts that contributed to this report. Meeting participants and representatives of UNAIDS offered valuable insights, but were not responsible for the ultimate report. Funding for these gatherings was

generously provided by UNAIDS and an unrestricted grant from Merck Co., Inc.

In particular, we wish to acknowledge Peter Piot, UNAIDS executive director, and Ulf Kristoffersson, director of the UNAIDS Office on AIDS, Security and Humanitarian Response, and his team. A number of UNAIDS

employees based all over the world provided data contained in this report, for which we are grateful. We would also like to thank Jeffrey Sturchio, vice president for external affairs, Europe, Middle East, and Africa at Merck.

The final preparation of the report involved work and critical input from a host of individuals, both inside the Council on Foreign Relations and from a range of outside institutions and organizations. We are deeply grateful for their diligence and insights. Special thanks to Richard N. Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations; James Lindsay, director of studies; Scott A. Rosenstein, research associate for global health; Smita

Aiyar, research associate; Katherine Schlosser, intern; Seth Berkley, chief executive officer of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative; and Trevor Neilson, executive director, Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS.

Laurie Garrett

Senior Fellow for Global Health

In AIDS all of this inbred, collegial narrating, as the report shows by collating it, results in an ever expanding fantasy structure which, if it ever had any grounding in peer reviewed science, has slipped its moorings long ago and for years has been shared and spread from one publication and podium to the next in a sort of intellectual merry-go-round of misinformation, gathering force and speed until anyone riding it who tries to get to the brake is flung off.

Here is the page announcing the report, which is unfortunately not displayed on the CFR’s web pages but is offered in pdf for download. HIV and National Security: Where Are the Links? by Laurie Garrett. Senior Fellow for Global Health.

HIV and National Security: Where Are the Links?

Laurie Garrett

Senior Fellow for Global Health

Council on Foreign Relations, July 18, 2005

The HIV/AIDS pandemic is affecting the security of states throughout the world, weakening economies, government structures, military and police forces, and social structures. This is the principal conclusion of the Council Report, HIV and National Security: Where Are the Links?

Authored by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Laurie Garrett, Senior Fellow for Global Health at the Council, the report finds that states with high rates of HIV infection in their productive labor forces and uniformed services have managed to remain intact, from the village level on up, through a plethora of coping mechanisms. But many of these nations are “coping” with HIV while also experiencing massive poverty, tuberculosis, drug-resistant malaria, regional conflicts and a host of other serious challenges. HIV is exacerbating each of these problems, and they, in turn, are straining mechanisms designed to cope with AIDS to the point of failure.

These effects are being felt long before the great wave of AIDS illnesses and deaths have occurred in most of these countries, and are predicted to worsen deeply over the coming ten years. “The pandemic now directly afflicts approximately 40 million people, has orphaned more than 12 million children, and killed more than 20 million people.”

In fact, the report is more lurid than this rather bland teaser suggests.

Some of its overwrought phrases indicate the mild state of hysterics induced in its professionally gullible author at the prospect of the monster global boil AIDS will become if not lanced:

… The pandemic now directly affects approximately 40 million people, has orphaned more than 12 million childen, and killed more than 20 million people.

(Things appear to be improving in these respects at least, since in her February estimate in the Los Angeles Times mentioned above our assiduous Cassandra reckoned 40-50 million “afflicted” with 25 million killed so far.)

… the horrible impact AIDS is taking (sic)… the devastation of families,. clans, civil society, societal organizations, business structures, armed forces, and political leadership…

… Botswana now faces obliteration due to AIDS… “We are now threatened with extinction. People are dying in chillingly high numbers…” (President Festus Mogae)

… …only two parallels in recorded history: the 1918 flu pandemic and the Black Death in the fourteenth Century… HIV has already surpassed the numbers of people sickened by the plague and when the currently HIV-infected cohort of 40 million have sucumbed to the disease, AIDS will rank as the worst plague of all human history

(Well, perhaps. Or perhaps not. The 1918 Spanish flu epidemic killed 50 million. With 25 million supposedly dead of AIDS in the world so far (no sign of this in the South African morbidity statistics, though, as Rian Molan discovered) this would make a total of 65 million, it is true. But it would be over a period of 40 years, if the latent period of HIV is reckoned at ten years, so in a world population of six billion plus at the moment, perhaps 8 billion then, this would be a matter of little more than a million and a half annually on average, which would be a drop in the bucket compared with the total deaths annually of say 100 million total, about one per cent of all deaths. The 50 million that are estimated to have died in 1918 must have been approaching 100 times as lethal in annual terms.)

(Like the Black Death HIV/AIDS is) reshaping the demographic distribution of societys, (causing) massive orphaning… labor shortages…strong challenges to military forces, an abiding shift in spiritual and religious values, fundamental economic transformations, and changes in the concepts of civil society and the role of the state.

The armed forces worldwide, both military and police, are generally challenged by HIV to at least an equal extent as the threat to general societies in which they reside… HIV may already be weakening troop strength in some countries, depleting police and armed forces, and challenging the ability of key militaries to recruit healthy personnel.

… the predicted tens of millions of children who will be orphaned by HIV/AIDS

… some AIDS plagued countries haave seen their life expectancies plummet into the high twenties. This is the widest life expectancy gap in human history, and it will only grow larger as the tens of millions of people now infected progress to full blown AIDS, and death.

… It is not inconceivable that AIDS ravaged societies might spawn movements of strong anti-Western discontent, possibly leading to acts of violence.

… Nations in the grip of the pandemic may need to make dangerous choices regarding prioritization of acess to the drugs, and risk alienating populations not granted access to the vital drugs. Misuse of the drugs may promote emergence of resistant strains….

… Secretary-General Kofi Annan asserted that the pace of the AIDS epidemic was “accelerating.. on every continent,” despite expenditures of about $6 billion annually on … the disease. In 2004, Annan said, 4.9 million people were newly infected with HIV, and 3.1 million people died of AIDS.

… key regions of the world that are hard-hit by HIV/AIDS are threatened with the complete reversal of the Bretton Woods–inspired achievements.

.. HIV/AIDS pandemic is the most complex disease phenomenon humanity has ever faced.

And so on and on and on, with hardly three sentences of skepticism or caution, and almost all of it based on second hand, non-scientific information. Unscientific information, in fact. Virtually none of this stands up when its scientific premises are examined.

There are many such premises, but really the only one that matters is the idea that AIDS is infectious through heterosexual sex. This is the huge main pillar of the established vision of global AIDS that Garrett synthesises and summaries in her report. It is the sine qua non of the “pandemic”, without which its apocalyptic reinterpretation of familiar diseases would have to be abandoned completely. If AIDS is not infectious, almost every single story line in the narrative would have to be abandoned.

And how many stories there are! The ability of politicians and researchers to come up with imaginative alarms is almost endless. The Garrett report is chock full of them. For instance, the army of an African state which may be 40 % HIV positive (Swaziland), the police in a South African province, who are presumed 40% to be positive (KawZulu Natal), the UN peacekeepers from Morocco and Uruguay who bought sex from thirteen year old Congolese girls for cash and food, rape during the Rwanda genocide has left 80% of the women HIV positive, US medical personnel terrified of transfusing the virus into embassy staff after the Kenya and Tanzania bombings, and so on.

The most extreme distortion of normal vision has occurred in Libya, where five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor have been sentenced to death for deliberately infecting 426 children, and have now been imprisoned for six years, with Moammar Quaddafi insisting they were put up to it by the CIA and Israeli intelligence, and threatening a trade embargo against Bulgaria unless it pays $2.7 billion, the sum Libya paid the victims of the 1988 bombing over Lockerbie. Meanwhile Bulgaria has suggested that Libya failed to screen its blood transfusions and used unsterilized needles, and a group of anonymous Libyan physicians has posted on the Web what they say is evidence that the Libyan government is responsible.

All this shows how accusation can be used as a weapon, says Laurie, of terror or diplomacy, “even without evidence”.

The extraordinary stigma attached to HIV, a sexually transmitted virus, guarantees it will continue to carry special weight in battles of word, minds and political power.

That is certainly true, as long as people believe that heterosexual AIDS is caused by “a sexually transmitted virus”. But as we will now show in the next post, the scientific literature is unanimous that it isn’t heterosexually transmitted.

The CFR lets Laurie Garrett loose on AIDS and global security

July 18th, 2005

Last evening (Jul 18 Mon) the Council of Foreign Relations held a jam packed briefing on its new cause for alarm over global AIDS, which is the impact it will supposedly have on US and global security.

A theme kicked off by President Bill Clinton as he was about to leave office, and heartily taken up by Richard Holbrooke, his Ambassador to the United Nations, the security angle on reasons to worry about Global AIDS has been developed for five years now. Holbrooke pushed through a resolution at the UN in July, 2000 calling on member states to teach AIDS prevention, testing, and treatment strategies to UN and national uniformed personnel.

How much has been achieved in this respect in the five years since is the topic of a UN report issued yesterday, On The Frontlines. The UN has set an example by encouraging the 65,000 military personnel stationed with UN operations to undergo voluntary HIV screening, as well as educating them about HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, and equipping them with a plastic I.D. HIV/AIDS Awareness Card for Peacekeeping Operations, and five or six condoms weekly during foreign deployment.

However, Peter Piot, the director of the United Nations AIDS program,. UNAIDS, admitted that there was a lot more to do to get the UN peacekeepers under control. According to Larry Altman at the Times in U.N. Cites Lag in Educating Peacekeepers About AIDS today

many among the 105 countries that provide uniformed troops to the peacekeeping missions still have a long way to go to meet the Security Council’s goal for education and prevention programs, the officials said. The missions involve more than 66,000 frequently rotated uniformed personnel and more than 13,000 international and national civilians serving in 17 peacekeeping and related field operations.”AIDS is still not part of the core military business everywhere,” Dr. Peter Piot, the director of the United Nations AIDS program, said in providing the Security Council with a progress report.

According to Holbrooke,

some “United Nations peacekeepers were bringing AIDS to regions and some were bringing it home with them, as the Finns found out in Namibia.” Similar transmissions “happened all over Africa and in Cambodia,” he said.

And according to Piot,

More than 94 percent of those surveyed said that they knew H.I.V. could be transmitted through unprotected sex and exposure to contaminated blood, and 87 percent had received AIDS awareness training. But less than 2 percent said they had been briefed about AIDS by their commanding officers.

The full Times piece is as follows if you want to read it:

The New York Times

July 19, 2005

U.N. Cites Lag in Educating Peacekeepers About AIDS

By LAWRENCE K. ALTMAN

UNITED NATIONS, July 18 – United Nations officials said Monday that despite progress in fulfilling a mandate five years ago to better educate peacekeeping forces about AIDS, they had not fully met their goal.

The effort began in 2000, amid concern that peacekeepers could be helping to spread H.I.V. in countries they were assigned to or after coming back home. The United Nations Security Council declared AIDS a threat to the political and economic stability of many countries and mandated inclusion of H.I.V. prevention programs in peacekeeping missions. The officials said they had introduced AIDS education and training programs in all peacekeeping missions and were offering H.I.V. tests, promoting use of condoms, and distributing information kits to troops.

But many among the 105 countries that provide uniformed troops to the peacekeeping missions still have a long way to go to meet the Security Council’s goal for education and prevention programs, the officials said. The missions involve more than 66,000 frequently rotated uniformed personnel and more than 13,000 international and national civilians serving in 17 peacekeeping and related field operations.”AIDS is still not part of the core military business everywhere,” Dr. Peter Piot, the director of the United Nations AIDS program, said in providing the Security Council with a progress report.

Most United Nations peacekeeping efforts depend on troops from low- or middle-income countries. Though the number of peacekeepers is tiny compared with the hundreds of millions of people at risk of becoming infected with H.I.V., the virus that causes AIDS, many of those countries are in sub-Saharan Africa, with the world’s highest rates of H.I.V. infection.

One hope is that peacekeepers will further contribute to H.I.V. prevention efforts by sharing information with the local population.

Richard C. Holbrooke, a former United States ambassador to the United Nations, who is regarded as the father of the resolution the Security Council passed in 2000, said Monday that at the time some “United Nations peacekeepers were bringing AIDS to regions and some were bringing it home with them, as the Finns found out in Namibia.” Similar transmissions “happened all over Africa and in Cambodia,” he said.

The resolution was also a response to reports of sexual abuse and exploitation in peacekeeping areas.

Jean-Marie Guéhenno, the United Nations under secretary general for peacekeeping operations, said that the resolution “turns out to have provided the jolt that we desperately needed” to make AIDS a priority issue for his office.

Wars and the unsettling conditions after their settlement create conditions that increase the risk of H.I.V. transmission. Factors making troops and people in the war zones more vulnerable to H.I.V. include the youth of the troops who are separated from their families and who are often economically better off than those in countries they are serving. Also, troops often do not use condoms in having sex with multiple partners in war zones.

Dr. Piot and Mr. Guéhenno said the lack of reliable data on the number of troops who were H.I.V.-infected in 2000 made it difficult to determine the effectiveness of efforts since then. Many governments keep such information “a military secret,” Dr. Piot said.

Initial analysis of a scientifically controlled survey of 660 uniformed peacekeepers of all ranks serving in Liberia and conducted in May and June by the United Nations and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention produced mixed findings.

More than 94 percent of those surveyed said that they knew H.I.V. could be transmitted through unprotected sex and exposure to contaminated blood, and 87 percent had received AIDS awareness training. But less than 2 percent said they had been briefed about AIDS by their commanding officers.

In India, where recruits must be uninfected before joining the military, AIDS has become the fifth leading medical reason for dismissal from the army and the second most common cause of death in the navy, Dr. Piot said.

He concluded that the best strategy to control H.I.V.’s threat to national security was to bring the epidemic under control.

Toward that goal, the Council on Foreign Relations recommended in a separate report that health officials use a technique known as molecular epidemiology to verify or refute claims that so-called rogue states and groups have deliberately spread H.I.V.

Another council recommendation was that “hard hit, impoverished nations should take steps to preserve their trained elites, within both military and civilian sectors,” by providing them with life-extending anti-retroviral drugs. But the report cautioned that providing such drugs only to the elite could prove demoralizing, even destabilizing, to the general population.

As these comments reveal, the premise running through the minds of the elite and their advisers in dealing with global AIDS is that HIV is the cause of AIDS, and that it is readily transmitted through sex, both assumptions repeatedly contradicted in the best (most thoroughly peer reviewed) scientific literature, not to mention the evidence of the news for the past two decades, which has so far recorded no evidence of any spread of AIDS in the heterosexual population of Europe and America.

However, it appears that scientific literature is written in a language foreign to those who advise the UN and the Council, advisors who include the well known science journalist who prepared the report presented last night at the Council of Foreign Relations, namely Laurie Garrett.

For yesterday as the UN held a session marking the fifth aniversary of that resolution 1308, the first ever on a health issue, the Council released its own report, “HIV and National Security: Where Are the Links?” aimed at providing fresh insight into this new reason to take global AIDS seriously.

The live Council briefing on the report mainly featured Holbrooke, a tall man who now who is Vice-Chairman of Perseus LLC, and CEO of the Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS, and the multi-prize winning Laurie Garrett, the tireless, curly haired one-time Newsday reporter who has transformed herself into a veritable national institute for detecting threats to global health, her best sellers on the topic (The Coming Plague: Newly Emerging Diseases in a World Out of Balance ((Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1994) and Betrayal of Trust: The Collapse of Global Public Health (Hyperion, 2000)) helping her win all three of the most prestigious awards in journalism, namely a Peabody, two Polks and a Pulitzer.

Garrett, who is at present a fellow at the Council and wrote the report, was revealed by her first book, The Coming Plague to be less than thoughtful about her topic, which judging by her perfunctory, rat-a-tat style she evidently covered by simply accepting everything the established authorities in a field told her and pasting the snippets together more or less in sequence by date. In other words, she was an unusually energetic but entirely typical uncritical reporter of the conventional wisdom, and was subsequently rewarded by prize committees accordingly.

One page in the book in particular indicated she had no understanding of the scientific literature which resoundingly rejected HIV as the cause of AIDS, in peer-reviewed papers in leading journals in which peer-reviewed refutations have never been attempted. In fact, it seems clear she had never read this literature with any attention, a state of grace she was evidently in in 1989 when we briefly met her in the Press Room at the 1989 AIDS Conference in Montreal and mentioned Peter Duesberg, the leading HIV-AIDS reviewer, who had just recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy a comprehensive, 200 footnote article rejecting the new paradigm totally. Garrett proved incapable of dicussing the paper although she said she was certain Duesberg was wrong.

In the book, p 383, she dealt with Duesberg as follows:

Sir Fred Hoyle and Chandra Wickramasinghe, British astronomers, anounced in 1986 that the AIDS virus came from outer space.

And sidestepping altogether the issue of the origin of HIV, University of California at Berkeley virologist Peter Duesberg declared it didn’t matter where HIV originated. The virus had nothing to do with AIDS, he said. Duesberg claimed that AIDS was not an infectious disease and had no association with any virus: the diseae commonly called AIDS had existed since the beginning off time, but seemed “epidemic” in the 1980s because people were injecting narcotics, snorting nitrites, taking amphetamines, getting parasitic dieases thaat scientists labeled “AIDS”, and leaading what he called a “self-destructive gay lifestyle.”

(Here Garrett appended a footnote:

208: Peter Duesberg’s views have been so widely published that it is difficult to narrow a list to key sources. For Duesberg’s perspective, see B. Guccione Jr., Interview, September 1993:95-108 (she apparently means SPIN Magazine); P. H. Duesberg, “Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome: Correlation, but not Causation”, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 86 (1989): 755-64; J. Miller, “AIDS Heresy,” Discover, June 1988:63-68; P. Duesberg, “A Challenge to the AIDS Establishment,” Biotechnology 5 (1987):3; and P. Duesberg, “Retroviruses as Carcinogens and Pathogens: Expectations and Reality,” Cancer Research 47 (1987):1199-1220.)

She then continued:

“I don’t mind to be shot up with it as long as it is a clean virus, without other junk, because I am fully convinced it’s not the cause of AIDS,” Duesberg said.

While Duesberg’s theories were debunked point by point by scientists all over the world, the public attraction to his ideas was strong, in part because they suggested that such things as consistent condom use might not be necessary. And because blame for having a deadly disease could be leveled straight at the victim—the individual who had led a “bad lifestyle” that caused an illness.

At this point she then made the perhaps unfortunate mistake of appending the following footnote:

209: For examples of counterarguments to Duesberg’s theories,see J. Cohen, “Keystone’s Blunt Message: It’s the Virus, Stupid.” Science 260 (1993); P.Brown, “MPs Investigate AIDS Maverick”, New Scientist, June 6, 1992:9; D. Concar, “Patients Abandon AIDS Drug After TV Shows,” New Scientist, July 13, 1991:13; J. E. Groopman, “A Dangerous Delusion About AIDS,” New York Times, September 10, 1992:A23; J. Weber, “AIDS and the ‘Guilty’ Virus, New Scientist, May 5, 1988:32-33; and A. G. Fettner, “Dealing with Duesberg,” Village Voice, February 2, 1988, 25-29.

Having thus demonstrated that rebuttal of Duesberg was confined to journalism rather than any scientific papers, at least as far as her own reading was concerned, Garrett then continued:

Though evidence for HIV as the cause of AIDS, the bona fide existence of a pandemic of infectious immunodeficiency, its evolutionary link to a family of monkey viruses, and its recent large-scale outbreak on earth was overwhelming, collective denial coupled with historically valid feelings of group persecution woiuld continue to support acceptance of dark, conspiratorial theories….

and goes on to detail popular fantasies of AIDS as “genocide against the black race”, or “the virus was produced in a germ-warfare laboratory”.

Thus her brief mention of this key topic amounted merely to repeating general establishment claims without any backing in the peer-reviewed literature, and the gratuitous smearing of Duesberg’s stature by association in the reader’s mind with ignorant or fantasy science. In truth one enduring problem for Duesberg’s scientific opponents has always been his impeccable stature and performance as a scientist, fully recognized by all before he undertook the dangerous politics of paradigm challenge.

Suffice it to say that evidence for HIV as the cause of AIDS was not overwhelming enough to lay the debate to rest, and it has continued unresolved and lively since. In fact the most intensely reviewed literature on the topic—Duesberg’s substantial number of therefore definitive critiques—has continued to be published with updates for nearly two decades now, with an accumulating pile of over fifteen trade and scientific books backing him on his political and scientific positions.

So anyone who possesses The Coming Plague has little reason to expect Laurie Garrett to be an informed and independent reporter on AIDS capable of assessing for herself the nature of the threat, and her subsequent career indicates likewise with its second alarmist best seller, her numerous prizes including all three journalism prizes (she is the only journalist to have won all three) her 1992-93 visiting fellowship at the Harvard School of Public Health, and now her fellowship at the Council writing this report.

We might also add that all this Duesberg material reminds us of an incident at SEED magazine lst year, where editor Adam Bly, 21, the Montreal-born founder of the struggling new science magazine, had given Garrett a monthly column. Bly and his sidekick Don Hoyt Gorman, still new to the politics of American science, were conferring with Garrett and mentioned that they were thinking of covering Peter Duesberg. According to Gorman later, Garrett rose from her chair, saying that if Duesberg’s name ever entered the pages of SEED she would never write a column, and flounced out of the office. The gossip was repeated in the New York Post’s Page Six column, which however failed to mention that Adam Bly only talked her back into the fold by offering her courtside seats at the US Open final in tennis that year.

So it was with a frisson of concern that we found out yesterday that she is the thinker on whom the Council of Foreign Relations is now relying for its analysis of the global security threat in AIDS. As the SRO crowd of some 150-200 suited and tied members, AIDS officials, health workers and activists and NGO officials listened, twenty five of them in Washington via satellite, Garrett and Holbrooke informed them of their latest thoughts on the topic as enshrined in the report or prompted by Princeton N. Lyman, who was the moderator from Washington of the video conference which was piped around the world to Council members in a “secure, password protected teleconference” setup. Peter Piot, the balding, heavy set executive director of UNAIDS, participated but didn’t add much to his comments at the UN.

Among the alarming or absurdist (depending on whther you read the scientific literature or not) points made:

1) AIDS is a growing problem for the women of the world, and Garrett believes that there is an urgent need for a microbicide for women to apply in self defense. AIDS, she said, is a modern bubonic plague, though slower ie one which takes fourteen years to wreak havoc, not just one year.

2) AIDS is not a security issue now but it could become one. For example, a weakened South Africa crippled by millions of AIDS deaths might be unable to defend her diamond mines from terrorists.

3) Holbrooke having visited South Africa recently reported to the shocked audience that the health minister of South Africa had told him she believed that garlic was a useful palliative for AIDS, so his vision of the future of the country was gloomy.

4) Thailand is showing the right way, with a health minister who has been an AIDS activist in a condom suit when he was a student and now runs a competition for a Mr and Mrs Condom to promote condoms, with the help of a Condom Song.

5) The danger zones are Africa, India, Central Asia and Russia, Russian AIDS is being boosted by an inflow of heroin from Afghanistan. The Ukraine has a remarkable number of HIV positives, half as many as China. In the world at large 95% of HIV positives do not know they are positive.

6) Treatment is a black hole as far as money goes because people will continue to infect others and they will all need drugs for the rest of their lives. We need to prevent AIDS, not just treat it.

Today we turned to the report to see if there was any more rigorous thinking in it, such as the “startling new insights” as the Council press release promised.

We found the following Executive Summary inside the glossy cover, which is emblazoned with a large red ribbon patterned like wickerwork, and inside photos of tearful ‘totos’ (Swahili for children) staring at the camera or hoeing the ground in ragged clothes. One poorly composed photo is by Garrett herself, of orphans in Uganda outside aa tin roofed building staring at the Western visitor.

Is the report as alarmist as one might expect under the pen of Laurie garrett? Let’s see.

Cont. Next post

The Times does its best to cool off the Incarnation charges

July 17th, 2005

The New York Times finally caught up with the Incarnation Center Unauthorized AIDS Drug Tests on Orphaned Tots scandal today (Sun Jul 17). The long story kicks off below the fold on the front page, headlined Belated Charge Ignites Furor over AIDS Drug Trial followed by copy which takes up almost the entire page 29.

The AIDS skeptic email lists are already shrieking “Front page attack on Liam Scheff” but to any mainstream AIDS believer, ie most of the Times readership, doubtless it will appear fair in its very lack of balance. The account gives both sides a run for their money, but allows the established researchers and officials the final say, and they claim with pride that the experiments only benefited the children, and that any objections to their use as guinea pigs without proper permission is therefore beside the point. In other words, no reason for Times readers to take all this too seriously, just some dust stirred up by an outsider.

To Scheff and his supporters, on the other hand, this belated coverage despite its prominent placement looks more like an attempt to “bury” the story rather than honor it. It is egregiously misleading, Scheff points out in a furious but polite letter to the Times, in honoring AZT as a “life saving drug” when in fact it has been recognized as a supremely toxic medication.

In a way, the article is a classic specimen of mainstream media AIDS reporting in that it is a litmus test of where you stand in relation to AIDS ideology and the merits of AIDS drugs. It simply reads very differently depending which side of the fence you are on.

Here is the entire story:

The New York Times

July 17, 2005

Belated Charge Ignites Furor Over AIDS Drug Trial

By JANNY SCOTT and LESLIE KAUFMAN

It was seen as one of the great successes of AIDS treatment. In the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, hundreds of children in New York City were dying of AIDS. The only approved drugs were for adults, and many of the patients were foster children. So doctors obtained permission to include foster children in what they regarded as promising drug trials.

By 2000, the number of children under 20 who died of AIDS in the city that year dropped to 13 from more than 100 per year less than a decade before.

But now, just as the trials are receding into history, they are coming under intense scrutiny. A federal agency is investigating whether guidelines for including foster children in trials were violated. The city’s child welfare administration has opened an independent inquiry into whether children were harmed.

And when the head of the child welfare system testified about the trials at a City Council hearing in May, angry spectators shouted him down.

All this is happening despite the fact that there is little evidence that the trials were anything but a medical success. Most of the questions have arisen from a single account of abuse allegations – given by a single writer about people not identified by real names, backed up with no official documentation as supporting proof, and put out on the Internet in early 2004 after the author was unable to get the story published anywhere else.

The story accused doctors of brutally experimenting on foster children, most of them black, Latino or poor. It said they had poisoned them with toxic drugs, sometimes against their parents’ will and without even being certain they were sick.

The charges jumped from Web site to Web site, then into The New York Post and into a documentary shown on the BBC. The documentary alarmed black civil rights activists and City Council members, who charged racism.

Physicians and federal health officials involved in the trials have strongly defended their work. They say hundreds, perhaps thousands, of children benefited; many of those were children not in foster care. To have withheld promising drugs from sick children just because they were in foster care would have been inhumane, the doctors say.

They say they obtained legal permission for the children’s participation, either from the biological parents or child welfare officials, in all but a small number of cases. Numerous doctors interviewed said they knew of no foster child who died as a result of the trials.

“For those people who believe that these kids were harmed, I’d like to say, ‘What is the evidence?’ ” said Dr. William Borkowsky, a pediatrician at Bellevue Hospital Center who took part in the trials. “And better yet, ‘Is there evidence that they were helped?’ There is very impressive evidence that they were helped.”

Missing Records

The most thorough of the investigations will not be completed for months. In the meantime, some critics’ suspicions have been stoked by admissions by city officials that their own records are inadequate or missing. The city’s child welfare agency, the Administration for Children’s Services, which has been through four changes in administration since the trials began, cannot even say conclusively how many foster children were involved.

More worrisome, the agency now expects that the current independent investigation will find that there are inadequate records of parental consent.

“We don’t believe we have all the permissions by any means,” said Sharman Stein, director of communications for the children’s services agency.

Already, one federal agency, the Office of Human Research Protections, found in June that one New York hospital had approved four of the trials without gathering enough information about the selection of foster children as subjects, or about the process for getting their parents’ or guardians’ permission. It made no finding as to whether any children were harmed or selected improperly.

Whatever the outcome, the controversy has already demonstrated the power of a single person armed only with access to the Internet and an incendiary story to put major institutions on the defensive. The story taps a combustible mix of fears: the suspicions of some activists that AIDS is not necessarily caused by H.I.V. and that AIDS drugs do not necessarily help, and the belief of some black people that the medical establishment does not always have their interests at heart.

The controversy extends back to a bleak period in New York City history when well over a hundred children a year were dying of AIDS, most under the age of 5. As many as one in every five children infected with H.I.V. were dead by 2, doctors now say; up to 50 percent were dead by 4.

There were no AIDS drugs approved for children in those years. The first AIDS drug, AZT, was approved for adults in 1987. Babies were being abandoned in hospitals, their mothers unable to care for them and with no foster homes available. About 40 percent of the children with H.I.V. were in foster care.

As a result, pediatricians began pressing pharmaceutical companies to let them try drugs shown to work in adults. “People were clamoring, begging for access to any drug,” said Dr. Borkowsky.

Trials began in the late 1980’s. Pediatricians asked the city to allow foster children to participate. “To deny these kids the medications would have been a crime,” said Dr. William B. Caspe, chairman of pediatrics at Jacobi Medical Center in the Bronx. “Because of what we did, we were able to keep them alive until newer medications became available.”

By 1989, the child welfare agency was developing rules for enrolling large numbers of foster children in clinical trials. Carol Marcus, the agency’s lawyer in charge of that project, said that the agency had acted slowly and carefully, aware of the need to protect a particularly vulnerable population. In a recent interview, she said that even then she was acutely aware that the agency could be accused of racism and exploitation.

The guidelines required a panel of pediatricians to review all pediatric AIDS trials being sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, and to eliminate those in which there was no “prospect of direct benefit” for each child. The agency required the consent of the child’s biological parent or, if no parent could be found, written permission from the commissioner.

Ms. Marcus says that she now believes there could have been more safeguards. The task of matching children to trials was left to each child’s physician. She said the agency, which had seen the number of children in their care double in two years to 40,000, was too understaffed to monitor how each child was doing. Nevertheless, she remains proud of the agency’s response to the crisis.

In 1990, under the city’s first black mayor, David N. Dinkins, the guidelines went into effect. They were being carried out by Barbara J. Sabol, the city’s first black commissioner of social services, and by her deputy in charge of child welfare, Robert L. Little. Mr. Little, a younger brother of Malcolm X, died in 1999, and Ms. Sabol did not return phone calls to her office.

One center that took part in the trials was a small boarding home for H.I.V.-infected foster children called Incarnation Children’s Center, the brainchild of Dr. Stephen W. Nicholas, now director of pediatrics at Harlem Hospital Center. With as many as 24 infected children abandoned in the hospital in 1988, the idea of finding them a home outside the hospital came to him after a young patient greeted him with, “Hi, Daddy.”

Working with Columbia University and the Catholic Archdiocese of New York, Dr. Nicholas became the medical director of Incarnation, on Audubon Avenue in Washington Heights, which opened in 1989 and added an outpatient clinic in 1992. Foster children there and elsewhere were enrolled in trials – at first, trials of single drugs like AZT, and later, of multiple-drug cocktails and protease inhibitors, which by 1996 were helping turn AIDS into a manageable, if still chronic, disease.

For 14 years, 90 percent of the children infected with H.I.V. in the city, in foster care and not, participated in drug trials, according to estimates by the child welfare administration. Gradually, fewer children became infected and sick. Foster homes were found for many, and many were adopted. In 2000, Incarnation became licensed as a skilled nursing facility under the State Department of Health, opening its doors to children not in foster care. In 2001, Dr. Nicholas left for his current job at Harlem Hospital Center.

The story, however, does not end there.

In the summer of 2003, Incarnation was visited by Liam Scheff, a 34-year-old, self-described “very independent journalist from the ‘go out and get the story, don’t let the slammed door get in your way’ school of journalism” with a longtime interest in what he calls “the other side” of AIDS.

Mr. Scheff had doubts about much of what was known about AIDS. He doubted that H.I.V. was necessarily the cause. He doubted the seeming certainty of an AIDS diagnosis. He doubted the reliability of the H.I.V. test and the usefulness of AIDS drugs in part, he said, because he knew H.I.V.-positive men who had remained healthy on a macrobiotic diet.

Mr. Scheff said he had been put in touch with a New York woman who said her two adopted children had been placed in Incarnation after she had let them stop taking AIDS drugs she believed had made them sick. So Mr. Scheff went to Incarnation, as a friend of the family. He said he was horrified by what he saw.

Grim Allegations

In January 2004, he posted an article, “The House That AIDS Built,” on indymedia.org, a Web site that describes itself as an outlet for “radical, accurate and passionate tellings of truth.” He chose that approach after trying unsuccessfully to get the article published. “I couldn’t get anybody to touch it,” he said.

The article made a series of gruesome claims: Among other things, Mr. Scheff wrote that Incarnation had been holding children against their parents’ will, in some cases force-feeding them drugs “known to cause genetic mutation, organ failure, bone marrow death, bodily deformations.” He wrote that two children had recently died.

The article came to the attention of Vera Hassner Sharav of the Alliance for Human Research Protection, a group she said she had founded to monitor “the underbelly of research” after her schizophrenic son died of a reaction to an approved drug. After his death, she said recently, she realized people must “stop thinking you can trust the men in the white coats.”

She added, “It’s a business now.”

Ms. Sharav forwarded Mr. Scheff’s article to the 3,500 people she said receive her e-mail “infomails” daily. She then looked into Incarnation on the Internet. She came to suspect that children had died there, and that this was what ended the trials and led to the license change and Dr. Nicholas’s departure. In March 2004, Ms. Sharav filed a complaint with the federal Office for Human Research Protections and with the Food and Drug Administration.

At the same time, The New York Post published several articles about Incarnation under headlines like “AIDS Tots Used as Guinea Pigs.” Soon, an independent film director enlisted Mr. Scheff and Ms. Sharav to help with a documentary, paid for and shown by the BBC, entitled “The New York Experiment – Guinea Pig Kids.”

The reports alarmed African-American activists and politicians in the city. The accusations resonated in particular with Omowale Clay, a leader of the December 12th Movement, a Brooklyn-based group that campaigns for reparations for slavery, and acts as a watchdog group for civil rights violations against blacks.

Mr. Clay said he had conducted his own research and concluded that trials were done on black infants who did not even have H.I.V. He offered no evidence of his claims.

“What we know already,” he said, “is that 98 percent of the children experimented on were black and Latino and that the fundamental basis of why they chose those kids was racism. They have the arrogance to say it was for their own good, but we know it was racism.”

Last fall, Mr. Clay began showing the documentary film, which had aired only on BBC, in churches, block association meetings and private gatherings. He campaigned to make the child welfare agency’s records public.

At the same time, two Democratic city councilmen, Charles Barron of Brooklyn and Bill Perkins of Manhattan, also were calling for Council hearings and an investigation by the city.

In March, the child welfare agency handed its critics new ammunition. It revised its count of the number of children in the trials, to 465 from 89, saying it had discovered an additional box of documents in the basement.

The news prompted a new round of scrutiny. The child welfare agency responded by hiring the Vera Institute of Justice, an independent nonprofit research group, to conduct an in-depth investigation at an initial cost of $1.5 million. The move hardly tamed the fury.

Demanding Answers

In May, the City Council held a hearing and a mostly black audience booed John B. Mattingly, the child welfare commissioner, who had been appointed in 2004, more than three years after the last foster child was enrolled in the drug trials.

Councilman Barron invoked the specter of the infamous Tuskegee experiments, in which black men with syphilis were studied for 40 years, beginning in 1932, but were neither treated nor told they had the disease. Councilman Perkins warned, “This has deep racial connotations.”

After the Council hearing, the Black Equity Alliance, a group of African-American leaders, started contacting the news media to demand a better accounting by the city. Dr. Billy E. Jones, a former president of the city’s Health and Hospitals Corporation, who is black, said, “Nobody who has the history that our community has, has the luxury of not being concerned.”

Pediatricians involved in the trials say they are mystified by the onslaught. While powerful drugs do have side effects, many said, they remembered no fatal reactions. At Incarnation, Dr. Nicholas said, no child had died of a reaction and “no child ever had an unexpected side effect.”

He said that, with one exception, no children had been included in the trials without “absolute proof” by advanced testing methods that they were infected and not simply carrying their mother’s antibodies. He said the exception was a trial that proved that by giving AZT to pregnant, infected women and then to their newborns in the first six weeks of life it was possible to sharply reduce the rate of H.I.V. transmission from mother to child. He called that study “the most important clinical trial in the history of AIDS.”

In response to the charge by some critics that hospitals should have appointed independent guardians for each child, doctors said the federal regulations require advocates only when a trial holds “no prospect of direct benefit” for the child. Several said their hospitals appointed advocates anyway.

“This isn’t Tuskegee, it never was Tuskegee, it never will be Tuskegee,” Dr. Borkowsky said. “This is something that has been blown totally out of proportion by, I think, people who are vying for office and looking for something to get them into the news.”

Columbia University Medical Center, which was found by federal officials to have “failed to have obtain sufficient information” in approving the participation of foster children in four trials, has acknowledged what it called a need to improve “how information is collected and decisions documented.” But it said investigators had not questioned the appropriateness of enrolling children, the care they received, the research’s value or the scientists’ conduct.

As for the city’s child services agency, officials say that in all the years since the drug trials, no family has sued or come to them with evidence of mistreatment. Staff members, past and present, expressed pride in what they had done; the worst thing that could have happened, they said, would have been for the agency to have done nothing.

Mr. Mattingly, the agency’s commissioner, said, “I would far rather be having this dialogue than one in which we tried to explain why my predecessors – confronted by a medical epidemic of unforeseen magnitude – did not do everything possible to get these children access to promising medication because they were in foster care. Or because the rules and regulations designed to protect their interests were so complicated that no children got the lifesaving help.”

Judge for yourself, but the coverage of the facts overall is in fact quite complete, we would say, except for the omission of the scientific literature which flatly contradicts the claims of the researchers. Certainly the report makes it clear that the researchers have already been found guilty of breaking the rules. We give it a B.

But to any AIDS skeptic it will seem that the reporters are biased ie are much more likely to credit the statements of officials than the research of Lim Scheff, the young independent reporter who first broke the story, whom they diss rather mercilessly.

Unlike the official sources, Scheff is not quoted verbatim beyond a single phrase, and his research is disparaged as being without official documentation. The story outlines his basic AIDS skepticism in fairly cheap terms as follows, making no mention of any scientific literature Scheff might have read. Indeed, it implies that his judgments are based on pure anecdote ie a few HIV-positive men he knew.

Mr. Scheff had doubts about much of what was known about AIDS. He doubted that H.I.V. was necessarily the cause. He doubted the seeming certainty of an AIDS diagnosis. He doubted the reliability of the H.I.V. test and the usefulness of AIDS drugs in part, he said, because he knew H.I.V.-positive men who had remained healthy on a macrobiotic diet.

Certainly the Times reporters go out of their way to emphasise that Liam Scheff is himself an orphan, institutionally speaking. Their lengthy treatment is introduced by a sort of post modern meta analysis of the way the story reached the mainstream press via a “single writer” on the Web, with various remarks suggesting that it is for that reason rather unconvincing and therefore the Times reporters and editors should be excused for ignoring it until the BBC, the New York Press, the Post and finally the City Council and the rest of the Manhattan press took it up.

In the same spirit, the introduction to the piece almost exonerates the suspect AIDS researchers before telling the reader any of the accusations. Thus they write the lead as

It was seen as one of the great successes of AIDS treatment. In the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, hundreds of children in New York City were dying of AIDS. The only approved drugs were for adults, and many of the patients were foster children. So doctors obtained permission to include foster children in what they regarded as promising drug trials.

By 2000, the number of children under 20 who died of AIDS in the city that year dropped to 13 from more than 100 per year less than a decade before.

Later they write

All this is happening despite the fact that there is little evidence that the trials were anything but a medical success. Most of the questions have arisen from a single account of abuse allegations – given by a single writer about people not identified by real names, backed up with no official documentation as supporting proof, and put out on the Internet in early 2004 after the author was unable to get the story published anywhere else.

In their apparent anxiety to justify the Times’s lethargy the reporters on the story (Janny Scott and Leslie Kaufman are credited) here have gone too far, according to Scheff, the “single writer” referred to. Scheff is mad as hell and has written a strong letter to the public editor of the Times putting the facts of the case.

He writes to the Times

Your piece claimed that I presented no ‘official evidence’ in my reporting on Incarnation Children’s Center. In fact, I’ve presented piles of official evidence – NIH clinical trial documents, drug manufacturer’s package inserts and warning labels, multiple citations from the Physician’s Desk Reference, NIH and FDA policy papers on the use of wards of the state – to name a few.

Here is the whole letter, which adds the point that the BBC documentary producer, the Post and other publications that have carried the story before the Times (including the New York Press, in particular, which broke it on the New York City scene, but which is not mentioned by the Times) have their own fact-checking, that two sources confirmed to Scheff there were two deaths in the study, contrary to the memory of the researchers quoted, and he provided one of them to the Times reporters, he says, and so on.

As we mentioned Scheff also makes the point that celebrating AZT as a life-saving drug is the reverse of the truth:

You also omitted reporting on the consistent downgrading of AZT (also called Zidovudine) in the medical literature – from “life-saving AIDS drug” to a drug which actually increases the rate of disease progression and death in children born to mothers who were given AZT.

The whole story attempts to bury his claims, in Scheff’s view. He ends as follows:

It’s one thing to say that AZT is a life-saving drug and that these orphans have been treated with the highest standard of care. It’s another to print it as fact in the pages of the New York Times, without reporting the significant evidence to the contrary. Instead of digging to the roots of this story, you have instead successfully colored it against further investigation in your pages. And that’s a shame for people who think you really are the paper of record.

The letter can be found at http://www.gnn.tv/blogs/7473/NY_Times_To_The_Rescue”>NY Times to the Rescue”, Scheff’s blog:

Dear Editor,

Thanks for covering the Incarnation Children’s Center story.

You might have showed a little bias in your reporting, however.

If I didn’t know better, I’d say from reading what you wrote that I, Liam Scheff, independent journalist, somehow managed to get everyone who covered the story – the Alliance for Human Resource Protection, the New York Post, the UK Observer, and the BBC – all to dispense with their fact-checking and research departments and take my ‘word’ for what I discovered at ICC.

That’s quite a remarkable story.

I’m sure you’ll stick to it, but it’s far from true.

Your piece claimed that I presented no ‘official evidence’ in my reporting on Incarnation Children’s Center. In fact, I’ve presented piles of official evidence – NIH clinical trial documents, drug manufacturer’s package inserts and warning labels, multiple citations from the Physician’s Desk Reference, NIH and FDA policy papers on the use of wards of the state – to name a few.

You wrote that I made claims in my article about the death of two children at ICC. I was reporting from sources, one of whom I made available to the New York Times reporters after they interviewed me. I stand by that claim, and those sources.

You generously quoted Dr. Stephen Nicholas on the helpful nature of AZT in preventing mother-to-child transmission of AZT. You didn’t, however, bother to quote the medical literature.

There are several studies on AZT and transmission. The NIH study Nicholas quoted (ACTG 076) is the only one with a significantly favorable outcome. Other mainstream studies on AZT rate it similiar to or worse than placebo or no treatment regarding maternal HIV transmission (for a list of citations on AZT see http://www.aras.ab.ca/azt.html).

You also omitted reporting on the consistent downgrading of AZT (also called Zidovudine) in the medical literature – from “life-saving AIDS drug” to a drug which actually increases the rate of disease progression and death in children born to mothers who were given AZT.

Here are some examples:

“The probability of developing severe disease at 3 years of life was significantly higher in children born to ZDV+ [Zidovudine, AZT treated] mothers than in those born to ZDV- [no AZT] mothers…The same pattern was observed for severe immune suppression…Finally, survival probability was lower in children born to ZDV+ [AZT treated] mothers compared with children born to ZDV- [no AZT] mothers.”

Rapid disease progression in HIV-1 perinatally infected children born to mothers receiving zidovudine monotherapy during pregnancy. AIDS. 13(8):927-933, May 28, 1999.

“Children of study women who were prescribed ZDV [Zidovudine, AZT] had increased adjusted odds of any anomaly…[T]he lack of data on potential adverse effects of this therapy is still a concern….Babies whose mothers had ZDV [AZT] exposure during pregnancy had a greater incidence of major malformations than those whose mothers did not. “

Newschaffer CJ et al. Prenatal Zidovudine Use and Congenital Anomalies in a Medicaid Population. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2000 Jul 1; 24(3): 249-256.

“The study cohort included 92 HIV-1-infected and 439 uninfected children…Antiretroviral therapy (nonprotease inhibitor) was independently associated with FTT [Failure to Thrive] in our cohort…ZDV [Zidovudine, AZT], in particular, alters mitochondrial metabolism and may have direct nutritional effects “

Miller TL et al. Maternal and infant factors associated with failure to thrive in children with vertically transmitted Human Immunodeficiency Virus-1 infection: the prospective, P2C2 Human Immunodeficiency Virus Multicenter study. Pediatrics. 2001 Dec; 108(6): 1287-96.

There are so many contraditions in the medical literature regarding AZT and other AIDS drugs, you have to work hard to ignore them.

Finally, you did not mention that I interviewed the medical director of ICC, Dr. Catherine Painter, who told me, in no uncertain terms, how the medication regimen would be enforced if a child was unable to swallow pills which tend to cause abdominal distress (vomiting and diarrhea). The method, I was told, is a surgery to implant a gastric tube into the abdomen of these children, for the purpose of strict adherence to the drug regimen.

It’s one thing to say that AZT is a life-saving drug and that these orphans have been treated with the highest standard of care. It’s another to print it as fact in the pages of the New York Times, without reporting the significant evidence to the contrary. Instead of digging to the roots of this story, you have instead successfully colored it against further investigation in your pages. And that’s a shame for people who think you really are the paper of record.

Sincerely,

Liam Scheff

Independent Journalist

Seattle, Washington

Of course, this complaint would have had no effect on the Times before the age of the Web, but now, well, let’s see. Can the blogosphere force the Times to respond? What letters will it print? Those who object are writing to The Public Editor (public@nytimes.com).

The Times reporters bias the story in the very first paragraph with the phrase “doctors obtained permission”:

It was seen as one of the great successes of AIDS treatment. In the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, hundreds of children in New York City were dying of AIDS. The only approved drugs were for adults, and many of the patients were foster children. So doctors obtained permission to include foster children in what they regarded as promising drug trials.

By 2000, the number of children under 20 who died of AIDS in the city that year dropped to 13 from more than 100 per year less than a decade before.

The whole point of the scandal is that researchers allegedly did not get valid permission to use the unfortunate tots as guinea pigs from anyone properly serving as guardian of their interests.

But we sense that the cosiness of mutual respect and admiration between the Times reporters and the medical researchers involved, who are now in prominent positions, colors the vision of the reporters and weakens their investigative resolve to a vanishing point.

Whatever the reason, the rest of the story is laden with the upside down self-justification of the researchers who being later convinced of the benefits of the AIDS drugs involved now argue that they were benefiting the children even though they didn’t know beforehand the outcome of the experimental doses, and that this justifies their highhanded treatment of the defenseless infants for whom they had no other medications.

This kind of logical short circuit is typical of AIDS, where the original testing of AZT was cut short before the results emerged because the testers were convinced by their imaginations that it was benefiting the patients and therefore it would be wrong to continue to give mere placebos to the control group.

The result according to the best scientific literature was the large number of early AIDS deaths which only tailed off when AZT doses were drastically reduced (protease inhibitors are now credited for the outcome, but in fact were introduced two years after the improvement began).

All in all, the Times story with its reassuring “this is not anything to worry about” slant and its concomitant insults about Liam Scheff’s lack of research to back up his initiating report suggests two ongoing problems at the overconfident paper.

The first is that apparently a fact checking department is an urgent need on 45th Street, one which employs people who can read science.

The second is the peculiar lack of investigative testosterone which marks its performance in certain areas. For some reason the newspaper often behaves like the member of a club loathe to confront fellow club members with anything difficult. This is exactly the gap that the iconoclasts of the Web like to ride through.

Apparently this Times collegiality applies to the medical profession and the researchers in AIDS who the story indicates seem far more credible to the Times reporters than the lone “single writer” who raised the alarm on their activities. This, in spite of the fact that the federal authorities have already confirmed his major complaint that these ugly drugs were forced on tots without proper permission.

But then, the Times has long given the scientists of AIDS a free pass, so this is nothing new.

The article ends with paragraphs that are comforting or dispiriting according to whether one’s assumption is that AIDS drugs are helpful or damaging, and AIDS ideology is valid or not.

As for the city’s child services agency, officials say that in all the years since the drug trials, no family has sued or come to them with evidence of mistreatment. Staff members, past and present, expressed pride in what they had done; the worst thing that could have happened, they said, would have been for the agency to have done nothing.

Mr. Mattingly, the agency’s commissioner, said, “I would far rather be having this dialogue than one in which we tried to explain why my predecessors – confronted by a medical epidemic of unforeseen magnitude – did not do everything possible to get these children access to promising medication because they were in foster care. Or because the rules and regulations designed to protect their interests were so complicated that no children got the lifesaving help.”

In other words, the mental framework in which the events at Incarnation are viewed governs one’s reactions to them, and as long as the reporters and editors of the Times join with officials, parents and researchers in putting on the same mainstream spectacles, every story the paper runs will have the same bias, tending to discredit any challenge.

In this fellow traveling attitude the Times is committing a cardinal sin against the principles of good journalism. There is really no excuse for it being in bed, ideologically speaking, with the scientists and medical researchers in AIDS who have flouted the clear conclusions of the most intensely reviewed scientific literature of their field for over two decades.

Why there is no excuse for AIDS ignorance of the true kind

July 15th, 2005

Given Robert Houston’s witty and extremely sharp comments to the last post on Laura Bush, it is worth noting that in a predictable irony Laura Bush did have to run the gauntlet of AIDS demonstrations, but they weren’t the paradigm resistors who are quite active now in South Africa, including not only the leader of the country, the economist and intellectual Thabo Mbeki, but also now the vitamin promoting one-time protege of Linus Pauling, Mathias Rath, and his new colleague David Rasnick.

Rasnick, in what may be a momentous move on the part of a senior general of the rebel army in the land of AIDS science, recently left the side of Peter Duesberg in Berkeley to work with Rath in fighting the battle on the political front there, and helping to research alternatives to the AIDS drugs that the mainstream is anxious to feed to as many HIV-positive South Africans as possible as soon as they can get past Mbeki’s quiet foot dragging.

The demonstrators that Laura Bush was briefly bothered with were not this contingent, however, but members and supporters of the Treatment Action Campaign, TAC, who feel that the more AIDS drugs the better as soon as possible, and that any concerns about their safety let alone theoretical justification are by definition just another excuse to avoid spending money on AIDS and in Africa.

For example the Kansas City Infozine in Why Was Laura Bush Picketed in South Africa? reports that

Farid Esack is a founding member of both Treatment Action Campaign and Positive Muslims, based in Cape Town, which does work on AIDS. He said recently: “The U.S. has been doing a lot to promote the idea that it is actively engaged in the struggle against HIV/AIDS, but the truth is that it has been long on rhetoric, and short on substance. Furthermore, many of the U.S. policies on AIDS have, in fact, been counterproductive as they are tied to U.S. domestic policy questions on sexuality, on abortion and on condom usage. In South Africa, the struggle against AIDS is intensely connected to the struggle for gender justice and reproductive health, so policies of the U.S. are having an increasingly negative effect. … In fact, hundreds of protesters have showed up during Laura Bush’s visit to public venues to protest U.S. policies on HIV/AIDS.

Another stalwart quite rightly makes the point that the Bush family haven’t been very helpful on malaria and TB either:

Sameer Dossani is the director of the 50 Years Is Enough Network. He said : “Laura Bush’s recent remarks ignore the history of the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Africa. … Following a century of colonial rule, IMF and World Bank policies further decimated African economies, leaving women with few economic prospects and forcing many into the sex trade. Thus, abstinence-only sex education is a farce. The economic realities underpinning prostitution must be addressed by allowing governments to spend on AIDS treatment and prevention — including condom distribution — instead of on debt repayments and puritanical policies destined to fail the people of Africa, yet again. In 2003, Bush promised $15 billion in new money to combat AIDS in Africa, a pittance compared to U.S. military expenditures. As yet, very little of this money has materialized and the U.S. remains one of the only countries opposed to the expansion of the Global Fund for AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.”

If HIV-AIDS is ever exploded in politics as mightily as it has been in the scientific literature, then these campaigners might however be glad that to date South Africa’s government has been led by one of the few politicians in the world able and willing to read a scientific article. In 1998 Peter Duesberg published in Volume 104 of Genetica his ringing condemnation of the AIDS-HIV paradigm entitled “The AIDS dilemma: drug diseases blamed on a passenger virus”, and Thabo Mbeki read it.

As Harvey Bialy explains in his brilliantly illuminating book Oncogenes, Aneuploidy and AIDS: A Scientific Life and Times of Peter H. Duesberg ,—

******************************************************

Interruption for a Special Note:

At this stage in the history of this paradigm review, it must be firmly stated that any scientist who discusses HIV-AIDS and its validity without reading Bialy’s book is by definition too research-crippled to be effective in divining the truth about either the science or the politics; indeed, any one at all with any pretensions to sorting out what is valid and what is not in this politically distorted and media misreported field who hasn’t bought and read this book is entirely too under-researched to make an informed judgement of any kind, not to mention having missed out on a uniquely entertaining and intelligent classic tale of science and its paradigm-disputing sociology.
End of special note.

*******************************************************

— Mbeki read this paper and it finally allowed him to understand the seeming extremely odd shape of South African AIDS epidemiology, whereby during apartheid AIDS was restricted to the same small risk groups as in the US (white urban gays and drug abusers, after apartheid ended the “epidemic” was suddenly one of poor, rural, black heterosexuals.

That is what triggered Mbeki’s giant caution over Western mainstream advice on AIDS, his mounting of an AIDS panel to sort out the matter and his subsequent disenchantment with the HIV-AIDS establishment and its advice, and his resistance to the pressures that beset him as a result, from activists, from his own country’s high court, and from the media pack from South Africa to Washington and New York, all of whom have been growling and snapping at his ankles like pit bulls ever since.

Of course most of his opponents have neither the will nor the wit to read the science for themselves, but why they don’t respect him for it and the conclusions he reached on being better informed than they are is a puzzle of human nature, possibly partly explained as part of the grand crumbling of respect for the intellectual aristocracy of any field in this democratic age where “I’m OK You’re OK” rules as a principle of public debate. Another reason might be the semi-religious impulse inherent in the willingness of the crowd to give up responsibility to leaders as soon as possible in times of war and other scares, and resent any challenge to government. In this case, the medical authority trumps the political, and becomes itself political and religious.

Be that as it may, no one now has any excuse at all for not appreciating the true situation in the science of AIDS, since Bialy’s book is available for $19.95 from Amazon, Barnes and Noble or its publishers, North Atlantic Books.

In a sense, if Jim Watson’s little classic, The Double Helix served as the introduction to the modern age of competitive science, Harvey Bialy’s Oncogenes, Aneuploidy and AIDS: A Scientific Life and Times of Peter H. Duesberg is the new classic, the essential introduction to the post-modern age of fantasy science where billions in public money are spent on chasing theoretical goals that all the good, bright scientists know are founded on empty claims, whether they say so or not.

That, at least, is the import of the book if everything it says is accurate, and it seems inconcievable that it is not, given its details, coherence, logic and tone, all of which indicate exceptional scientific competence, and an exceptional obsession with accuracy and truth in these days of worshipful or self-serving accounts of scientists and their “breakthroughs” where the heroes often seem more at home in suits than lab coats.

Another exception, of course, being his subject, Peter Duesberg. In fact, like Johnson finding a Boswell, Duesberg has lucked into a biographer who shares his principles and passions and has written an incontrovertible biography which both justifies Duesberg’s science and in chapter and verse explains his professional difficulties as the irresistible force of idealism meeting the immovable object of self-interest.

In fact, the most stunning conclusion of this convincing indictment of the ills of modern science is that, quite apart from the AIDS debacle, it suggests that if things had been done properly we might have solved cancer by now, instead of an army of hijacked research trucks roaring full speed down the wrong side road for thirty years with barely anyone in the media or government noticing.

The latest expert on AIDS in Africa -Laura Bush

July 12th, 2005

Starting a three-nation African tour, Mrs. Bush on Tuesday was visiting a program that works to prevent more AIDS orphans in a country where about one-quarter of babies are born to a mother infected with the virus that causes AIDS

That’s right. According to the Guardian the President’s wife is doing her bit to push the standard paradigm bandwagon over the bodies of resistors in South Africa, who in the aftermath of the counterattack on the somewhat unscientific but intuitively sensible vitamin-pushing Matthias Rath are still trying to avoid being crushed by the proganda juggernaut of the Western establishment.

Actually that merry carriage doesn’t need much help as it rolls on without pause filled with an army of scientists from major US scientific institutions, Washington officials who dispense advice and perhaps AIDS aid, doctors and health workers both indigenous and from the Western powers, the local and international media and activists organizations and everybody else interested in relieving the South Africans and especially their government and head of state Thabo Mbeki from the need to keep an open mind and a working ability to think for themselves on this matter on which everybody else save for a few independent, first class minds in science has agreed is a no brainer: does HIV really cause AIDS?

Still, every little helps since as national dictators have long shown it is always easy to mount and maintain a big lie in the short and medium term but in the long run ideas which conflict with the daily experience of the average individual sooner or later come into question. And in South Africa just as in the US dire predictions of whole populations decimated and flung into the grave and economies ruined and a whole continental catastrophe caused by the antibodies to the famous virus have not so far proved out, though the statistics have been bumped up of late by the hard working statisticians of the WHO.

There is also the little matter of malaria and TB both of which cause millions of deaths each year, and which are getting far more attention now as African problems have been put on the front burner at the G8 meeting in Scotland by the Live Aid concerts, at least until the terrorist strike in London.

So all in all it is a very good thing in the standard view that Laura Bush has shown up in the AIDS war zone to lend her intelligence, scientific knowledge, glamor, prominence and establishment authority to the bill of goods (in the skeptical view) being sold to the South Africans and neighboring populations. After all, the flow of AIDS aid and the important drugs it buys and conveys to the mothers of Africa—drugs not good enough to offer the mothers of America without considerable hesitation—is vitally dependent on stamping out any local resistance to the HIV paradigm. And who better to do it than the woman playing the role of the American Mum?

Meanwhile we note once again the insulting premise of HIV-South African AIDS ideology that the sub continent is full of men who visit prostitutes and then force themelves on their wives, and that this is the key reason that AIDS is supposedly expanding rapidly even without the help of the assiduous WHO statisticians.

Mrs. Bush is aiming to highlight how fighting domestic violence is a key part of battling the AIDS crisis in South Africa, which has more people infected with HIV than any other country, and across the continent. Many African women become infected with the disease because their husbands have unprotected sex with others and then force sex on them.

One of the most egregious aspects of HIV-AIDS-ideology is the racist assumption that it fosters in generating its rationalizations for its unscientific claims. (Science indicates that even if HIV caused AIDS, a claim which remains defeated at the level of genuine peer-reviewed science by a crushing weight of argument, including unexplained inconsistencies and anomalies, contradiction of accepted and proven science, and an admitted lack of genuine evidence of any kind for the method of its machinations, its infectiousness is so incredibly low or even non-existent that the ability of any husbands anywhere to transfer it from whore to wife would be negligible.)

If AIDS is a grand superstition adopted by the world against all sense after a theoretical kite was flown by Robert Gallo and given rocket boosters with federal funding, one which rewrites other ailments and shifts them under the overall “AIDS” umbrella and then mismedicates the patients to death, as the leading scientist who has properly reviewed the theory year after year continues to claim without any doubts, then it has revealed just how ignorant and ill informed modern societies are in both science and in sociology, despite the massive efforts of modern media to deliver a Niagara of information on every facet of modern life.

That such racism should be part of a modern scientific paradigm debate is evidence of how ignorant and ill informed we remain as long as establishment journalists fail to do their real jobs and meet their true responsibilities, which is to do more than act as lapdogs for the highly placed sources they cherish, such as Laura Bush.

See Laura Bush Calls Attention to AIDS Battle or expand below.

Tuesday July 12, 2005 7:46 AM

AP Photo XOZ104

By JENNIFER LOVEN

Associated Press Writer

CAPE TOWN, South Africa (AP) – Laura Bush is shining a spotlight on the Bush administration’s many-pronged battle against AIDS in Africa.

Starting a three-nation African tour, Mrs. Bush on Tuesday was visiting a program that works to prevent more AIDS orphans in a country where about one-quarter of babies are born to a mother infected with the virus that causes AIDS.

The Khayelitsha Maternity Obstetrics Unit, part of an organization called The Mothers’ Programmes, which benefits from U.S. assistance, enlists mothers who have kept from transmitting the disease to their own children to mentor new expectant mothers.

Located in a depressed area of Cape Town, the project also helps mothers and mothers-to-be – who are often unwed and unemployed – generate extra income. Mrs. Bush was to watch women make colorful beaded cell phone pouches, lanyards and other products that will be sold overseas.

Later Tuesday, Mrs. Bush was holding a discussion with South Africans involved in the fight against domestic violence and delivering a speech to advertise a new initiative, unveiled earlier this month by President Bush, to provide legal protections for African women victimized by violence and sexual abuse.

The president said he wants $55 million over three years for that effort.

Mrs. Bush is aiming to highlight how fighting domestic violence is a key part of battling the AIDS crisis in South Africa, which has more people infected with HIV than any other country, and across the continent. Many African women become infected with the disease because their husbands have unprotected sex with others and then force sex on them.

The president has sought $15 billion over five years to combat AIDS, mostly in Africa. In 2005, anti-AIDS spending in South Africa will total $149 million, according to the U.S. Embassy.

Mrs. Bush – a former public school librarian, avowed bookworm and high-profile advocate of reading – chose the Centre for the Book as the backdrop for the second event. Part of the National Library of South Africa, it promotes indigenous writing and helps develop a culture of reading among South Africans, particularly children.

Mrs. Bush continues her trip through Africa by flying Wednesday to Tanzania. After a visit to Rwanda, she heads back to Washington on Friday

.

Duesberg invited to the NIH—high alert for the AIDS gang

July 8th, 2005

A couple of weeks ago a remarkable event in science took place, which may well bode the beginning of the end for those who maintain AIDS science in a state of exemption from any reexamination from within science or without.

Peter Duesberg was invited to speak at the NIH on his new work on cancer, which promises to replace what many scientists view as an entirely sterile dead end after twenty five years of lavish spending on the theory of oncogenes.

Political manoevring to head off the threat that Duesberg’s star may be rising into the heavens again can be expected by those with a stake in both current cancer theory and in current AIDS theory.

For the speaking invitation marks a breakthrough in re-acceptance for Duesberg, a scientist who not only trashed the whole reasoning and evidence behind the HIV-AIDS theory as early as 1987, but who had earlier renounced the theory of oncogenes, ie individual genes for individual cancers, a field of study he had himself inadvertently turned into a fasionable pork barrel for scientists by making the first discovery of an actual oncogene himself.

On his way to a Nobel for that discovery as the field burgeoned into one of the best funded fields of research in the eighties and nineties, Duesberg showed his mettle, his public spirit and his integrity by deciding that his discovery was to some extent a lab artefact and the theory that the individual mutation of particular genes found in every cell in the body was responsible for particular cancers —breast, prostate etc —in particular parts of the body didn’t make any sense, and saying so publicly, to the dismay, chagrin, alarm and enmity of the passengers in the bandwagon already rolling past any possibility of recall, just like HIV and AIDS.

Result: No oncogene Nobel, which went to others with feebler brains, spirits and achievements. Now, having identified and demonstrated a far more promising route to explaining and curing cancer in aneuploidy (the huge multiplication of chromosomes—up to double the normal number—in all precancerous cells) , Duesberg is suddenly in his sixties the golden boy all over again, finally being invited inside the thick walls of the scientific research castle of the NIH from whose creaking doors he was expelled many years ago and from whose parapets he has had manure catapulted at him ever since, though mostly from the tower labeled AIDS.

This sudden restoration to a high place in science with a theory widely admired by the heavies in all major institutions from the Karolinska to the NIH, some of whom are already trying to steal the credit and erase Duesberg’s watershed contribution in leading down this avenue of research, opens up a possibility that has the AIDS -HIV gang (if such a deprecating word can be fairly used about scientists occupying leading roles in the field equivalent to beribboned generals of the war against HIV) quaking in its military boots.

For a scientist of Duesberg’s calibre restored to his deserved stature as a pioneer whose own science has never been questioned, and who may now have started a whole field for the third time in his rollercoaster career, is likely to be a man not so easily dismissed as before as a “maverick”. Like a Nobel prize winner—which it is not impossible that Duesberg may yet be if his research provides the kind of breakthrough against cancer it promises—his view will be taken very seriously again, and that may mean that HIV=AIDS leaders may not be able to evade as easily as before a serious attempt by outsiders to resolve the twenty year failure of their science to provide a meaningful preventive or cure or even convincing scientific explanation let alone proof of their claim that HIV is causing any problem of any kind at all to human beings anywhere, except as a result of their ill concieved notions.

Duesberg invited to the NIH—high alert for the AIDS gang

July 8th, 2005

A couple of weeks ago a remarkable event in science took place, which may well bode the beginning of the end for those who maintain AIDS science in a state of exemption from any reexamination from within science or without.

Peter Duesberg was invited to speak at the NIH on his new work on cancer, which promises to replace what many scientists view as an entirely sterile dead end after twenty five years of lavish spending on the theory of oncogenes.

Political manoevring to head off the threat that Duesberg’s star may be rising into the heavens again can be expected by those with a stake in both current cancer theory and in current AIDS theory.

For the speaking invitation marks a breakthrough in re-acceptance for Duesberg, a scientist who not only trashed the whole reasoning and evidence behind the HIV-AIDS theory as early as 1987, but who had earlier renounced the theory of oncogenes, ie individual genes for individual cancers, a field of study he had himself inadvertently turned into a fasionable pork barrel for scientists by making the first discovery of an actual oncogene himself.

On his way to a Nobel for that discovery as the field burgeoned into one of the best funded fields of research in the eighties and nineties, Duesberg showed his mettle, his public spirit and his integrity by deciding that his discovery was to some extent a lab artefact and the theory that the individual mutation of particular genes found in every cell in the body was responsible for particular cancers —breast, prostate etc —in particular parts of the body didn’t make any sense, and saying so publicly, to the dismay, chagrin, alarm and enmity of the passengers in the bandwagon already rolling past any possibility of recall, just like HIV and AIDS.

Result: No oncogene Nobel, which went to others with feebler brains, spirits and achievements. Now, having identified and demonstrated a far more promising route to explaining and curing cancer in aneuploidy (the huge multiplication of chromosomes—up to double the normal number—in all precancerous cells) , Duesberg is suddenly in his sixties the golden boy all over again, finally being invited inside the thick walls of the scientific research castle of the NIH from whose creaking doors he was expelled many years ago and from whose parapets he has had manure catapulted at him ever since, though mostly from the tower labeled AIDS.

This sudden restoration to a high place in science with a theory widely admired by the heavies in all major institutions from the Karolinska to the NIH, some of whom are already trying to steal the credit and erase Duesberg’s watershed contribution in leading down this avenue of research, opens up a possibility that has the AIDS -HIV gang (if such a deprecating word can be fairly used about scientists occupying leading roles in the field equivalent to beribboned generals of the war against HIV) quaking in its military boots.

For a scientist of Duesberg’s calibre restored to his deserved stature as a pioneer whose own science has never been questioned, and who may now have started a whole field for the third time in his rollercoaster career, is likely to be a man not so easily dismissed as before as a “maverick”. Like a Nobel prize winner—which it is not impossible that Duesberg may yet be if his research provides the kind of breakthrough against cancer it promises—his view will be taken very seriously again, and that may mean that HIV=AIDS leaders may not be able to evade as easily as before a serious attempt by outsiders to resolve the twenty year failure of their science to provide a meaningful preventive or cure or even convincing scientific explanation let alone proof of their claim that HIV is causing any problem of any kind at all to human beings anywhere, except as a result of their ill concieved notions.

The pressing need to spend $22 billion on global AIDS

July 7th, 2005

For twenty one years, there has been one consistent theme sung and trumpeted by all involved in the burgeoning and now global AIDS ideology, and that is the extreme importance of spending as large amounts of money as possible in combating the dread threat of a virus scientifically established as extremely un- or not at all infectious which lacks any peer-reviewed scientific explanation or proof of its supposed depredations, or indeed any proven significant presence in patients who are supposed to be deteriorating unto certain eventual death under its influence.

Yes, sir, the importance of spending ever larger sums of money defending against this terrifying threat in which a 9 kilobase wisp of RNA that hadn’t been observed by the health system directly or indirectly throughout human history until it popped up seemingly out of nowhere or perhaps from the moon or Mars or some distant star three decades ago is one of the few certainties of HIV AIDS.

Never mind that cancer, stroke, heart attack, TB, malaria and other well understood health threats decimate the populations of nations world wide with far greater totals of annual victims, the vital necessity of raising as much as possible to combat AIDS worldwide is the one sure thing of the field.

Anyone with political ambitions feeding off an image as a human rights advocate can say nothing guaranteed to win more instant approval from all quarters than to suggest that the disproportionate sum already applied to AIDS is still inadequate and must be immediately expanded by yet more billions if the global pandemic is to be prevented from swallowing what might be ultimately the entire population of the planet, given that unlike any other disease agent, there is nobody whose immune defenses can overcome this “insidious” and “cunning” virus.

So today we are not surprised to learn that the UNAIDS agency has upped the ante to $22 billion:

$22 Billion needed in 2008 to Reverse Spread of AIDS, UNAIDS reads a press release forwarded by a pr agency.

Almost US$22 billion will be needed in 2008 to reverse spread of AIDS in the developing world, according to latest estimates. These figures feature in a new report on estimated funding needs produced by the UNAIDS Secretariat, to be released to the UNAIDS Programme Coordinating Board at the end of June.

$22 Billion needed in 2008 to Reverse Spread of AIDS, UNAIDS

Almost US$22 billion will be needed in 2008 to reverse spread of AIDS in the developing world, according to latest estimates. These figures feature in a new report on estimated funding needs produced by the UNAIDS Secretariat, to be released to the UNAIDS Programme Coordinating Board at the end of June.

(I-Newswire) – Building on previous estimates, these figures have been developed using the latest available information and with the invaluable input from a newly established Resource Needs Steering Committee and Technical Working Group which are made up of international economists and AIDS experts from donor and developing countries, civil society, United Nations agencies and other international organizations.

“We have come a long way in mobilizing extra funds for AIDS, moving from millions to billions, but we still fall short of the US$22 billion needed in 2008,” said Dr Peter Piot, UNAIDS Executive Director. “AIDS poses an exceptional threat to humanity and the response needs to be equally exceptional, recognizing the urgency as well as the need for long term planning and financing.”

The revised estimates indicate funding needs of approximately US$15 billion in 2006, US$ 18 billion in 2007 and US$ 22 billion in 2008 for prevention, treatment and care, support for orphans and vulnerable children, as well as programme costs ( such as management of AIDS programmes and building of new hospitals and clinics ) and human resource costs ( includes training and recruitment of new doctors and nurses ).

This is the first time that specific attention is given to resource needs for longer term investments to improve country capacity in the health and social sectors through training of existing staff, recruiting and paying new staff and significant investments for building the necessary infrastructure. These financial requirements for the human resources and programme costs are preliminary, and will be further refined and improved.

Meeting the 2006-2008 resource needs would result in the following achievements:

— Prevention – A comprehensive prevention response by 2010, as is required to turn around the AIDS epidemic, based on the current coverage of services and the most recent evidence on actual rates of scaling up interventions.

— Treatment and care – 75% of people in need globally ( approximately 6.6 million people ) will have access to antiretroviral treatment by 2008, based on current coverage rates and rates of growth as seen in 2004.

— Orphans and vulnerable children – Increase of support from low levels of coverage to full coverage of all orphans in Sub-Saharan Africa, given that AIDS is responsible for more than 2/3 of children who have lost both parents, as well as AIDS orphans in other low and middle-income countries.

— Human resources – Covering the costs of recruiting and training additional doctors, nurses and community health workers in low-income countries, and two middle-income countries ( South Africa and Botswana ) and incentives to retain and attract people to the health sector. Future analyses will calculate costs for other health workers, including nurse practitioners, clinical officers and laboratory technicians.

— Programme costs – The construction of over 1000 new health centres ( to be available by 2010 ), based on the investments made during 2006-2008. An additional 19, 000 health centres and 800 hospitals would be renovated over the next three years to handle the scaling-up of HIV treatment and care.

According to the latest UNAIDS projections, a total of US$8.3 billion is estimated to be available from all sources in 2005, rising to US$ 8.9 billion and US$10 billion in 2006 and 2007 respectively.

As the response to AIDS is scaled up, funding estimates must be constantly revised and updated. UNAIDS will work with international donors and affected countries to refine the costing estimates, focusing particularly on strengthening health infrastructures.

UNAIDS has been producing resource needs estimates since 2001. Since that time there has been increased access to relevant data, a continuous improvement in the methodologies and new thinking about what comprises a comprehensive package of interventions to turn back the epidemic. The latest estimates constitute the best available assessment of global needs for AIDS and a rational basis for further discussion about AIDS funding in the international arena. The coverage levels presented in the analysis should not be considered as agreed targets, but the outcomes that could be expected if these resources were spent.

It appears that there is a funding gap between resources available and those needed of at least US $18 billion from 2005 to 2007. However, this is likely to be a significant underestimate. Determining the gap between resources available and resource needs is not a matter of simple subtraction. The resources available are based on pledges rather than budgets that have been finalized by governments; actual disbursements to countries are generally less than the total commitments; and the resources available are not necessarily being spent on the same sets of interventions that have been included in the resource needs estimations.

For more information, please contact Dominique De Santis, UNAIDS, tel. +41 22 791 4509, email. desantisd@unaids.org or Beth Magne-Watts, UNAIDS, tel. +41 22 791 5074, email. wattsb@unaids.org. For more information on UNAIDS, please visit http://www.unaids.org.

Distributed for UNAIDS by

Peter Robbs Consultants Ltd

News Media and Editorial

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If this expanded activity is based on an entirely spurious medical fantasy, as the most intensely peer reviewed and peer cleared-for-publication-as-without identifiable-fault scientific literature finds it is, and a pack of some 2000 excruciatingly attentive scientists, doctors, journalists and other researchers also maintain in the face of exceptional social disapproval from a vast crowd of supporters none of whom have the same incentive to be sure of what they are talking about before taking a public position, then this is a seriously distorted allocation of aid money.

In fact, it is then a river of spending devoted to killing off the very people that the fundraisers and the people who support them in the assumption they know what they are doing believe they are rescuing.

Given the stink arising from what has been uncovered at the NIH now that the lid has been taken off the AIDS research arm of that gigantic institution (see preceding post ) , it may be time for all those leading and cheerleading the world in greasing the axles of this particular bandwagon to pause for review. Perhaps the staff employed by the President, Bill Clinton, Richard Holbrooke, and Jeffrey Sachs might be assigned to look into this festering issue instead of blithely ignoring it as politically untouchable. Perhaps there might be a sign of life from the appropriate Congressional investigating committee.

Will this happen, though? Cynics, step aside, we think it is just faintly possible. So we are going to call a few people to see what they think, Washington hands who have been around and know the inside of the Beltway like the back of their hands.

Who better to start with than Jonathan Fishbein, who has just been at least somewhat vindicated in his steel-spined whistleblowing as described in the previous post referred to, which exposed the sexually colored shenanigans of the disreputable bureaucrat running AIDS research at the NIH, and called into question the treatment of research studies on drugs there, in which according to Fishbein results were actually reversed, and reports were written up to say that atrociously run studies which were scientifically invalid nonetheless served to vindicate drugs which were widely suspected as being so damaging as to be useless.

We called Jonathan yesterday for a chat. We found him ebullient after the NIH report backing his criticisms, even though it was not yet revealed to have done so on the most important area of his criticism, the studies. The AP piece was based on a report by the NIH to the Senate Finance Committee which has not yet been made public, except by whatever public spirited bureaucrat got a copy to the AP reporter. Fishbein, who apparently has a lot of quiet support inside the agency he has been kicked out of, says he does not know the full contents yet.

The NIH report did at least make it quite clear that his allegations of gross misbehavior were valid. This is important since the misbehavior – sexually colored comments and the like – was aimed at members of his staff apparently in an attempt to scare them off in their investigations of procedural corruption.

So, given that a serious lack of integrity is what he found at DAIDS, the first thing we asked Fishbein was, had it made him doubt the whole story of AIDS, or at least give the naysayers a little more credit than he had before?

The answer to this was yes, it had somewhat, helped by an introduction he had received to Peter Duesberg, with whom he had had dinner in Washington two weeks ago when Duesberg was invited to the NIH to give an account of his new route to the cure for cancer, aneuploidy.

(If you don’t realize what that invitation means in regard to Duesberg, read the next post.)

On the other hand, he was hardly going to take any public position on it, given that his chief purpose now is to make sure that hearings on the NIH and his allegations is mounted on Capitol Hill, which is the only way he will achieve professional vindication and avoid the scarlet letter W for whistleblower emblazoned on his forehead forever.

What Fishbein told us we will post tomorrow.

Is aid killing Africa? James Shikwati, African economist, objects.

July 7th, 2005

A Kenya economist, James Shikwati, 35, tells Der Spiegel in an interview published July 4th that in many ways aid has ruined Africa (by for example burying local tailors in donated clothes with which they cannot compete) and that it most just inflates huge bureaucracies, feeds corruption and weakens African countries’ ability to fend for themselves.

AIDS he sees as an exaggerated threat which has turned into the biggest Aid spigot.


“Shikwati: If one were to believe all the horrorifying reports, then all Kenyans should actually be dead by now. But now, tests are being carried out everywhere, and it turns out that the figures were vastly exaggerated. It’s not three million Kenyans that are infected. All of the sudden, it’s only about one million. Malaria is just as much of a problem, but people rarely talk about that.

SPIEGEL: And why’s that?

Shikwati: AIDS is big business, maybe Africa’s biggest business. There’s nothing else that can generate as much aid money as shocking figures on AIDS. AIDS is a political disease here, and we should be very skeptical.

Thanks to Dean Esmay (http:www.deanesmay.com/) for pointing this out on his blog today, July 7.

PS Thu Dec 15 Later note:

Today (Dec 15 Thu) Paul Therous says the same thing in a Times Op Ed, so we attach it to this post for the record.

(At bottom, click the final “Show”)


It does not occur to anyone to encourage Africans themselves to volunteer in the same way that foreigners have done for decades. There are plenty of educated and capable young adults in Africa who would make a much greater difference than Peace Corps workers.

Africa is a lovely place – much lovelier, more peaceful and more resilient and, if not prosperous, innately more self-sufficient than it is usually portrayed. But because Africa seems unfinished and so different from the rest of the world, a landscape on which a person can sketch a new personality, it attracts mythomaniacs, people who wish to convince the world of their worth. Such people come in all forms and they loom large. White celebrities busy-bodying in Africa loom especially large. Watching Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie recently in Ethiopia, cuddling African children and lecturing the world on charity, the image that immediately sprang to my mind was Tarzan and Jane.

Here is the Der Spiegel piece:

See

DER SPIEGEL 27/2005 – July 4, 2005 – “For God’s Sake, Please Stop the Aid!” – Interview with African Economics Expert James Shikwati, 35

“For God’s Sake, Please Stop the Aid!”

The Kenyan economics expert James Shikwati, 35, says that aid to Africa does more harm than good. The avid proponent of globalization spoke with SPIEGEL about the disastrous effects of Western development policy in Africa, corrupt rulers, and the tendency to overstate the AIDS problem.

Economist James Shikwati: “Despite the billions that have poured in to Africa, the continent remains poor.”

Horst Friedrichs

Economist James Shikwati: “Despite the billions that have poured in to Africa, the continent remains poor.”

SPIEGEL: Mr. Shikwati, the G8 summit at Gleneagles is about to beef up the development aid for Africa…

Shikwati: … for God’s sake, please just stop.

SPIEGEL: Stop? The industrialized nations of the West want to eliminate hunger and poverty.

Shikwati: Such intentions have been damaging our continent for the past 40 years. If the industrial nations really want to help the Africans, they should finally terminate this awful aid. The countries that have collected the most development aid are also the ones that are in the worst shape. Despite the billions that have poured in to Africa, the continent remains poor.

SPIEGEL: Do you have an explanation for this paradox?

Shikwati: Huge bureaucracies are financed (with the aid money), corruption and complacency are promoted, Africans are taught to be beggars and not to be independent. In addition, development aid weakens the local markets everywhere and dampens the spirit of entrepreneurship that we so desperately need. As absurd as it may sound: Development aid is one of the reasons for Africa’s problems. If the West were to cancel these payments, normal Africans wouldn’t even notice. Only the functionaries would be hard hit. Which is why they maintain that the world would stop turning without this development aid.

SPIEGEL: Even in a country like Kenya, people are starving to death each year. Someone has got to help them.

Shikwati: But it has to be the Kenyans themselves who help these people. When there’s a drought in a region of Kenya, our corrupt politicians reflexively cry out for more help. This call then reaches the United Nations World Food Program — which is a massive agency of apparatchiks who are in the absurd situation of, on the one hand, being dedicated to the fight against hunger while, on the other hand, being faced with unemployment were hunger actually eliminated. It’s only natural that they willingly accept the plea for more help. And it’s not uncommon that they demand a little more money than the respective African government originally requested. They then forward that request to their headquarters, and before long, several thousands tons of corn are shipped to Africa …

SPIEGEL: … corn that predominantly comes from highly-subsidized European and American farmers …

Ruandan President Kagame has over a million deaths on his conscience, says Shikwati.

AFP

Ruandan President Kagame has over a million deaths on his conscience, says Shikwati.

Shikwati: … and at some point, this corn ends up in the harbor of Mombasa. A portion of the corn often goes directly into the hands of unsrupulous politicians who then pass it on to their own tribe to boost their next election campaign. Another portion of the shipment ends up on the black market where the corn is dumped at extremely low prices. Local farmers may as well put down their hoes right away; no one can compete with the UN’s World Food Program. And because the farmers go under in the face of this pressure, Kenya would have no reserves to draw on if there actually were a famine next year. It’s a simple but fatal cycle.

SPIEGEL: If the World Food Program didn’t do anything, the people would starve.

Shikwati: I don’t think so. In such a case, the Kenyans, for a change, would be forced to initiate trade relations with Uganda or Tanzania, and buy their food there. This type of trade is vital for Africa. It would force us to improve our own infrastructure, while making national borders — drawn by the Europeans by the way — more permeable. It would also force us to establish laws favoring market economy.

SPIEGEL: Would Africa actually be able to solve these problems on its own?

Shikwati: Of course. Hunger should not be a problem in most of the countries south of the Sahara. In addition, there are vast natural resources: oil, gold, diamonds. Africa is always only portrayed as a continent of suffering, but most figures are vastly exaggerated. In the industrial nations, there’s a sense that Africa would go under without development aid. But believe me, Africa existed before you Europeans came along. And we didn’t do all that poorly either.

SPIEGEL: But AIDS didn’t exist at that time.

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Shikwati: If one were to believe all the horrorifying reports, then all Kenyans should actually be dead by now. But now, tests are being carried out everywhere, and it turns out that the figures were vastly exaggerated. It’s not three million Kenyans that are infected. All of the sudden, it’s only about one million. Malaria is just as much of a problem, but people rarely talk about that.

SPIEGEL: And why’s that?

Shikwati: AIDS is big business, maybe Africa’s biggest business. There’s nothing else that can generate as much aid money as shocking figures on AIDS. AIDS is a political disease here, and we should be very skeptical.

SPIEGEL: The Americans and Europeans have frozen funds previously pledged to Kenya. The country is too corrupt, they say.

Shikwati: I am afraid, though, that the money will still be transfered before long. After all, it has to go somewhere. Unfortunately, the Europeans’ devastating urge to do good can no longer be countered with reason. It makes no sense whatsoever that directly after the new Kenyan government was elected — a leadership change that ended the dictatorship of Daniel arap Mois — the faucets were suddenly opened and streams of money poured into the country.

SPIEGEL: Such aid is usually earmarked for a specific objective, though.

Shikwati: That doesn’t change anything. Millions of dollars earmarked for the fight against AIDS are still stashed away in Kenyan bank accounts and have not been spent. Our politicians were overwhelmed with money, and they try to siphon off as much as possible. The late tyrant of the Central African Republic, Jean Bedel Bokassa, cynically summed it up by saying: “The French government pays for everything in our country. We ask the French for money. We get it, and then we waste it.”

Former Central African Republic leader Jean-Bedel Bokassa: “We ask the French for money. We get it, and then we waste it.”

DPA

Former Central African Republic leader Jean-Bedel Bokassa: “We ask the French for money. We get it, and then we waste it.”

SPIEGEL: In the West, there are many compassionate citizens wanting to help Africa. Each year, they donate money and pack their old clothes into collection bags …

Shikwati: … and they flood our markets with that stuff. We can buy these donated clothes cheaply at our so-called Mitumba markets. There are Germans who spend a few dollars to get used Bayern Munich or Werder Bremen jerseys, in other words, clothes that that some German kids sent to Africa for a good cause. After buying these jerseys, they auction them off at Ebay and send them back to Germany — for three times the price. That’s insanity …

SPIEGEL: … and hopefully an exception.

Shikwati: Why do we get these mountains of clothes? No one is freezing here. Instead, our tailors lose their livlihoods. They’re in the same position as our farmers. No one in the low-wage world of Africa can be cost-efficient enough to keep pace with donated products. In 1997, 137,000 workers were employed in Nigeria’s textile industry. By 2003, the figure had dropped to 57,000. The results are the same in all other areas where overwhelming helpfulness and fragile African markets collide.

INTERACTIVE MAP

SPIEGEL ONLINE

* Click here to load our interactive African development aid map.

SPIEGEL: Following World War II, Germany only managed to get back on its feet because the Americans poured money into the country through the Marshall Plan. Wouldn’t that qualify as successful development aid?

Shikwati: In Germany’s case, only the destroyed infrastructure had to be repaired. Despite the economic crisis of the Weimar Republic, Germany was a highly- industrialized country before the war. The damages created by the tsunami in Thailand can also be fixed with a little money and some reconstruction aid. Africa, however, must take the first steps into modernity on its own. There must be a change in mentality. We have to stop perceiving ourselves as beggars. These days, Africans only perceive themselves as victims. On the other hand, no one can really picture an African as a businessman. In order to change the current situation, it would be helpful if the aid organizations were to pull out.

SPIEGEL: If they did that, many jobs would be immediately lost …

Congolese line up for a United Nations food delivery in 2002.

AFP

Congolese line up for a United Nations food delivery in 2002.

Shikwati: … jobs that were created artificially in the first place and that distort reality. Jobs with foreign aid organizations are, of course, quite popular, and they can be very selective in choosing the best people. When an aid organization needs a driver, dozens apply for the job. And because it’s unacceptable that the aid worker’s chauffeur only speaks his own tribal language, an applicant is needed who also speaks English fluently — and, ideally, one who is also well mannered. So you end up with some African biochemist driving an aid worker around, distributing European food, and forcing local farmers out of their jobs. That’s just crazy!

SPIEGEL: The German government takes pride in precisely monitoring the recipients of its funds.

Shikwati: And what’s the result? A disaster. The German government threw money right at Rwanda’s president Paul Kagame. This is a man who has the deaths of a million people on his conscience — people that his army killed in the neighboring country of Congo.

SPIEGEL: What are the Germans supposed to do?

Shikwati: If they really want to fight poverty, they should completely halt development aid and give Africa the opportunity to ensure its own survival. Currently, Africa is like a child that immediately cries for its babysitter when something goes wrong. Africa should stand on its own two feet.

Interview conducted by Thilo Thielke

Translated from the German by Patrick Kessler

© DER SPIEGEL 27/2005

All Rights Reserved

Reproduction only allowed with the permission of SPIEGELnet GmbH

More about this issue:

Related SPIEGEL ONLINE links:

· Too Much of a Good Thing: Choking on Aid Money in Africa (07/04/2005)

http://www.spiegel.de/international/spiegel/0,1518,363604,00.html [€]

Here is the later Paul Thgeroux Op Ed piece of Dec 15 Thu, for referebnce:

The New York Times

December 15, 2005

Op-Ed Contributor

The Rock Star’s Burden

By PAUL THEROUX

Hale’iwa, Hawaii

THERE are probably more annoying things than being hectored about African development by a wealthy Irish rock star in a cowboy hat, but I can’t think of one at the moment. If Christmas, season of sob stories, has turned me into Scrooge, I recognize the Dickensian counterpart of Paul Hewson – who calls himself “Bono” – as Mrs. Jellyby in “Bleak House.” Harping incessantly on her adopted village of Borrioboola-Gha “on the left bank of the River Niger,” Mrs. Jellyby tries to save the Africans by financing them in coffee growing and encouraging schemes “to turn pianoforte legs and establish an export trade,” all the while badgering people for money.

It seems to have been Africa’s fate to become a theater of empty talk and public gestures. But the impression that Africa is fatally troubled and can be saved only by outside help – not to mention celebrities and charity concerts – is a destructive and misleading conceit. Those of us who committed ourselves to being Peace Corps teachers in rural Malawi more than 40 years ago are dismayed by what we see on our return visits and by all the news that has been reported recently from that unlucky, drought-stricken country. But we are more appalled by most of the proposed solutions.

I am not speaking of humanitarian aid, disaster relief, AIDS education or affordable drugs. Nor am I speaking of small-scale, closely watched efforts like the Malawi Children’s Village. I am speaking of the “more money” platform: the notion that what Africa needs is more prestige projects, volunteer labor and debt relief. We should know better by now. I would not send private money to a charity, or foreign aid to a government, unless every dollar was accounted for – and this never happens. Dumping more money in the same old way is not only wasteful, but stupid and harmful; it is also ignoring some obvious points.

If Malawi is worse educated, more plagued by illness and bad services, poorer than it was when I lived and worked there in the early 60’s, it is not for lack of outside help or donor money. Malawi has been the beneficiary of many thousands of foreign teachers, doctors and nurses, and large amounts of financial aid, and yet it has declined from a country with promise to a failed state.

In the early and mid-1960’s, we believed that Malawi would soon be self-sufficient in schoolteachers. And it would have been, except that rather than sending a limited wave of volunteers to train local instructors, for decades we kept on sending Peace Corps teachers. Malawians, who avoided teaching because the pay and status were low, came to depend on the American volunteers to teach in bush schools, while educated Malawians emigrated. When Malawi’s university was established, more foreign teachers were welcomed, few of them replaced by Malawians, for political reasons. Medical educators also arrived from elsewhere. Malawi began graduating nurses, but the nurses were lured away to Britain and Australia and the United States, which meant more foreign nurses were needed in Malawi.

When Malawi’s minister of education was accused of stealing millions of dollars from the education budget in 2000, and the Zambian president was charged with stealing from the treasury, and Nigeria squandered its oil wealth, what happened? The simplifiers of Africa’s problems kept calling for debt relief and more aid. I got a dusty reception lecturing at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation when I pointed out the successes of responsible policies in Botswana, compared with the kleptomania of its neighbors. Donors enable embezzlement by turning a blind eye to bad governance, rigged elections and the deeper reasons these countries are failing.

Mr. Gates has said candidly that he wants to rid himself of his burden of billions. Bono is one of his trusted advisers. Mr. Gates wants to send computers to Africa – an unproductive not to say insane idea. I would offer pencils and paper, mops and brooms: the schools I have seen in Malawi need them badly. I would not send more teachers. I would expect Malawians themselves to stay and teach. There ought to be an insistence in the form of a bond, or a solemn promise, for Africans trained in medicine and education at the state’s expense to work in their own countries.

Malawi was in my time a lush wooded country of three million people. It is now an eroded and deforested land of 12 million; its rivers are clogged with sediment and every year it is subjected to destructive floods. The trees that had kept it whole were cut for fuel and to clear land for subsistence crops. Malawi had two presidents in its first 40 years, the first a megalomaniac who called himself the messiah, the second a swindler whose first official act was to put his face on the money. Last year the new man, Bingu wa Mutharika, inaugurated his regime by announcing that he was going to buy a fleet of Maybachs, one of the most expensive cars in the world.

Many of the schools where we taught 40 years ago are now in ruins – covered with graffiti, with broken windows, standing in tall grass. Money will not fix this. A highly placed Malawian friend of mine once jovially demanded that my children come and teach there. “It would be good for them,” he said.

Of course it would be good for them. Teaching in Africa was one of the best things I ever did. But our example seems to have counted for very little. My Malawian friend’s children are of course working in the United States and Britain. It does not occur to anyone to encourage Africans themselves to volunteer in the same way that foreigners have done for decades. There are plenty of educated and capable young adults in Africa who would make a much greater difference than Peace Corps workers.

Africa is a lovely place – much lovelier, more peaceful and more resilient and, if not prosperous, innately more self-sufficient than it is usually portrayed. But because Africa seems unfinished and so different from the rest of the world, a landscape on which a person can sketch a new personality, it attracts mythomaniacs, people who wish to convince the world of their worth. Such people come in all forms and they loom large. White celebrities busy-bodying in Africa loom especially large. Watching Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie recently in Ethiopia, cuddling African children and lecturing the world on charity, the image that immediately sprang to my mind was Tarzan and Jane.

Bono, in his role as Mrs. Jellyby in a 10-gallon hat, not only believes that he has the solution to Africa’s ills, he is also shouting so loud that other people seem to trust his answers. He traveled in 2002 to Africa with former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill, urging debt forgiveness. He recently had lunch at the White House, where he expounded upon the “more money” platform and how African countries are uniquely futile.

But are they? Had Bono looked closely at Malawi he would have seen an earlier incarnation of his own Ireland. Both countries were characterized for centuries by famine, religious strife, infighting, unruly families, hubristic clan chiefs, malnutrition, failed crops, ancient orthodoxies, dental problems and fickle weather. Malawi had a similar sense of grievance, was also colonized by absentee British landlords and was priest-ridden, too.

Just a few years ago you couldn’t buy condoms legally in Ireland, nor could you get a divorce, though (just like in Malawi) buckets of beer were easily available and unruly crapulosities a national curse. Ireland, that island of inaction, in Joyce’s words, “the old sow that eats her farrow,” was the Malawi of Europe, and for many identical reasons, its main export being immigrants.

It is a melancholy thought that it is easier for many Africans to travel to New York or London than to their own hinterlands. Much of northern Kenya is a no-go area; there is hardly a road to the town of Moyale, on the Ethiopian border, where I found only skinny camels and roving bandits. Western Zambia is off the map, southern Malawi is terra incognita, northern Mozambique is still a sea of land mines. But it is pretty easy to leave Africa. A recent World Bank study has confirmed that the emigration to the West of skilled people from small to medium-sized countries in Africa has been disastrous.

Africa has no real shortage of capable people – or even of money. The patronizing attention of donors has done violence to Africa’s belief in itself, but even in the absence of responsible leadership, Africans themselves have proven how resilient they can be – something they never get credit for. Again, Ireland may be the model for an answer. After centuries of wishing themselves onto other countries, the Irish found that education, rational government, people staying put, and simple diligence could turn Ireland from an economic basket case into a prosperous nation. In a word – are you listening, Mr. Hewson? – the Irish have proved that there is something to be said for staying home.

Paul Theroux is the author of “Blinding Light” and of “Dark Star Safari: Overland from Cairo to Cape Town.”

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An AIDS patient builds a cathedral, but to what?

July 5th, 2005

Interesting email from David Crowe, President of the Alberta Reappraising AIDS Society.

“Aloysius Vollart of the Netherlands has built a cathedral out of his empty AIDS drug packages since he began on AIDS drugs in 1997.”

An impressive and resonant work. Whatever the patient/artist thinks he is up to, we hope we are permitted to view this rather beautiful construction as a revealing incarnation (go to AIDS cathedral to see it) of one AIDS patient’s attitude towards the authority which has him under its sway.

Having finished it, we hope that he will now apply a little of the time and effort spent on this artwork to research on the background to what he apparently views as a biblical text.

Meanwhile, the monument reminds us that the intake of AIDS drugs permitted by patients is very large, and we would like to know the condition of this patient. AIDS dissidents would presumably expect him to be on his last legs.

If not, why not?

Perhaps someone who speaks German can throw further light on this point, and also on the intention of the artist. For all we know it may be a critique and not a celebration of authority in AIDS.

Jonathan Fishbein vindicated by NIH report

July 4th, 2005

An AP story this morning (Mon Jul 4) gives those who believe that the behavior of officials and scientists in AIDS and AIDS drugs has been deplorable reason for confidence. An internal National Institutes of Health (NIH) review confirms some of these suspicions, though not the most serious ones.

According to AP reporter John Solomon, the report judges the AIDS research agency DAIDS (the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID)’s Division of AIDS) as rife with intramural feuding and turf wars, not to mention sexually explicit pranks and expletive-laced emails sent to subordinates.

On the other hand, the AP story makes no mention of the most important allegation of Jonathan Fishbein, the whistleblower who first brought scrutiny to what the NIH now admits is a “troubled” agency. This is the claim that NIH officials actually rewrote a Ugandan study on the effects of nevirapine, a drug aimed at preventing mothers-to-be from infecting their embryos with HIV.

According to this story, the drug was condemned by the study as too dangerous to use, but by the time the report emerged from the office of a certain NIAIDS official, the conclusion was reversed and nevirapine was cleared for administering to whatever unfortunate pregnant Africans are discovered to be “HIV positive”.

The positive spin was forwarded just in time for President Bush’s appearance in Uganda to proclaim that nevirapine would be funded with some of the promised $15 billion in African AIDS aid.

Meanwhile, the way in which the African study was carried out was not, it seems, good enough for the US. So in effect, the drug was forcibly OK’d for Africa but not for the US. To put this plainly, we have a risky drug which is fine to give to pregnant Africans, but not good enough for American mothers, thank you.

This is the story reflected by the full list of allegations at the website that Fishbein and his brother have set up, The Fishbein Brothers’ Honest Doctor site. The list of allegations on that Web site are enough to give any observer pause before accepting the statements of any official of the agency. Apparently, they are not all dealt with in the NIH report, which may well be an attempt at a whitewash, a bluff carried out by admitting and condemning milder pranks.

Meanwhile, the NIH report takes a laughably backhanded crack at Fishbein as well, saying that he should have proceeded with more caution before rushing to find fault with an organization he had barely joined. He should have taken more “time to adapt to the “culture” of the AIDS division before making sweeping changes to improve the agency’s reseearch safety”, according to supervisors.

The NIH report is very specific about the nub of the problem. Fishbein, an “acomplished privaate sector safety expert”, was hired by the NIH in 2003 to improve the safety of its AIDS research.

He soon ran afoul of the deputy director, Dr. Jonathan Kagan, by making a formal complaint about his sexually explicit language and pranks perpetrated on subordinates. He also raised concerns about several studies, including the African one.

The response of the homeboys indicates that sheer stupidity may be the root cause of the troubles at the “troubled” agency. Fishbein was then forced to report to Kagan!

Kagan, who like the division’s director Dr. Edmund Tramont later had to acknowledge that he (Kagan) is given to using “sexually explicit aand colorful language” but (bhoth) protested that no one till Fishbein had ever complained, immediately began efforts to fire the annoying non-teamplayer.

That these efforts were obviously in reprisal was privately noted in a memo from a special adviser to NIH chief Elias A. Zerhouni last August, according to AP’s Solomon, who seems to be rather good at obtaining inside material on the hapless Kagan, who certainly sounds like a real bully.

As if to advertise just how out-of-hand their behavior has become, the agency officials continued with Fishbein’s firing even after two senators wrote to them last week warning them that firing whistleblowers was illegal.

Friday was Fishbein’ last day at the NIH.

Once again, one has to conclude that the NIH officials concerned must have a very strong motive to risk the public attention and embarrassment and escalation of charges this move seems likely to excite.

It reminds us of the Institute of Medicine report recently vindicating the said African report on nevirapine. The accumulation of charges on that issue over more than a year surely indicates something is seriously wrong.

So why risk an attempt at a complete whitewash? Surely because there is an even greater sin to hide.

AIDS science has managed to sweep a mountain of charges on the falsity of its paradigm under the rug for twenty years. Could it be that the NIH officials who have been the ones most responsible for the success of this strategy of evading full inspection are now the ones who will trigger a widening enquiry?

If so, it will demonstrate the truth that it is always the character of wrongdoers which finally emerges to defeat them, and not the efforts of their opponents.

Here is the full AP story, “NIH Review Substantiaates Fired Expert’s Concenrs”:

NIH Review Substantiates Fired Expert’s Concerns

– By JOHN SOLOMON, Associated Press Writer

Monday, July 4, 2005; Page A02

WASHINGTON (AP) — The government’s AIDS research agency “is a troubled organization” and its managers have engaged in unnecessary feuding, sexually explicit language and other inappropriate conduct that hampers its global fight against the disease, an internal review found.

The review for the National Institutes of Health director’s office, obtained by The Associated Press, substantiates many of the concerns that whistle-blower Dr. Jonathan Fishbein raised about the agency’s AIDS research division and its senior managers.

The division suffers from “turf battles and rivalries between physicians and Ph.D scientists” and the situation has been “rife for too long,” the report concluded.

Nonetheless, the NIH formally fired Fishbein on Friday, over the objections of several members of Congress. The top Republican and Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee are protesting, saying the firing was an example of whistle-blower punishment.

“Retaliation against an employee for reporting misconduct or voicing concerns is unacceptable, illegal and violates the Whistleblower Protection Act,” Sens. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, and Max Baucus, D-Mont., wrote the NIH late last week.

“Moreover, it would have a chilling effect on other NIH employees who might makes truthful but critical comments about the NIH,” the senators said.

Citing personnel privacy, NIH officials declined to address the senators’ letter or Fishbein’s termination, except to say that his last day was Friday. In the past, NIH officials have said they were terminating Fishbein for poor performance.

Fishbein, an accomplished private sector safety expert, was hired by the NIH in 2003 to improve the safety of its AIDS research.

He alleges that he was let go because he raised concerns about several studies and filed a formal complaint against one of the division’s managers alleging sexual harassment and hostile workplace.

In a series of recent stories, the AP has reported:

–One of NIH’s AIDS study in Africa violated federal safety regulations.

–Senior NIH managers engaged in sexually explicit pranks and sent expletive-laced e-mails to subordinates.

–NIH-funded researchers used foster children to test AIDS drugs since the late 1980s.

An internal report, written on Aug. 9, 2004, by a special adviser to NIH chief Elias A. Zerhouni but never made public, raised concerns that the NIH’s efforts to fire Fishbein at the very least gave the “appearance of reprisal.”

The report says no documentation was ever provided to Fishbein suggesting poor performance until after he complained about the safety in one sensitive AIDS study and filed a formal complaint alleging that the division’s deputy director was acting unprofessionally with subordinates.

The report said after formally complaining about conduct of the deputy director, Dr. Jonathan Kagan, Fishbein was inexplicably forced to begin reporting to Kagan, who then went ahead with efforts to fire Fishbein.

The report said Kagan and the division’s director, Dr. Edmund Tramont, acknowledged that Kagan “uses sexually explicit and colorful language, saying that no one ever complained until” Fishbein did.

The report broadly condemns the NIH’s Division of AIDS.

“It is clear that DAIDS is a troubled organization,” the report concluded, saying the Fishbein case “is clearly a sketch of a deeper issue.”

“To have the senior management … behave in this manner, spend incredible amounts of time feuding, and writing numerous long e-mails while seemingly unaware of the need for appropriate behavior decorum and enforcement of good management practices and the rules of supervision and concerns about appearance of reprisal clearly indicate a serious problem,” the report said.

Fishbein’s lawyer, Stephen M. Kohn, said Friday he had not seen the report obtained by the AP, but he hailed its conclusions.

“NIH’s internal admissions are unprecedented and damning. Dr. Fishbein was right. NIH must fix its troubled management and stop harassing the whistle-blowers,” Kohn said.

The report, however, also criticized Fishbein, citing some of his supervisors’ statements that he did not take enough time to adapt to the “culture” of the AIDS division before making sweeping changes to improve the agency’s research safety.

“It seems apparent that both sides behaved badly, that a new senior employee did not orient himself about the division and that the most senior people engaged in inappropriate behavior,” the report said.

The report urged the NIH to require sensitivity training for its senior managers and provide instruction about “inappropriate personnel procedures.”

Source: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/07/03/AR2005070300914.html

— 30 —

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:

Rand H. Fishbein, Ph.D., Executive Director; P.O. Box 59701, Potomac, Maryland 20859, USA

Tel: (301) 767-1691; Internet: www.HonestDoctor.org; E-Mail: HonestDoctor@comcast.net

______________________________________________________________________________________

HonestDoctor.org is a confidential network of concerned medical and scientific professionals dedicated to assuring that clinical trials sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) are conducted in full compliance with all applicable statutes and regulations. Government sponsored clinical research must preserve the rights, safety, and well-being of human test subjects consistent with the principles of the Declaration of Helsinki and with the aim of producing clinical data with the highest degree of scientific integrity. HonestDoctor.org is working in full cooperation with the National Whistleblower Center.

Letters on Autism defend parents’ intuition

July 2nd, 2005

Despite the front page meta-story in the Times last Saturday the jury remains out on vaccines and autism, it seems clear. Some letters in the Times yesterday and today include one from Robert Kennedy who suggests that scientific studies which exonerate thimerosal may not have been done well.

Another letter proposes that parental intuition may be a factor strong enough for scientists to take into account.

The New York Times

July 2, 2005

Studies on Autism

To the Editor:

Re “On Autism’s Cause, It’s Parents vs. Research” (front page, June 25):

The thimerosal debate does not pit parents against science but against public health authorities who rely not on science but on the reputations of their agencies to exonerate thimerosal – a mercury-containing preservative once used routinely in vaccines – despite scientific proof that it causes brain disorders.

The four European studies that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Institute of Medicine principally rely upon (cited in your accompanying graphic) to defend thimerosal were written principally by vaccine industry consultants and employees without revealing the bias of their authors. They are all flawed.

Most glaringly, before banning thimerosal, Denmark registered only autistics who were hospitalized, one-fifth of the afflicted.

After the withdrawal of thimerosal, the Danish government began counting outpatient autistics. The spike in raw numbers made it appear that autism rates increased after the withdrawal of thimerosal.

Clever use of this deceptive data by the study authors allowed the Institute of Medicine to make the case that thimerosal was not linked to autism.

Furthermore, the European studies involved children exposed to a fraction of the thimerosal concentrations used in America.

The institute selectively ignored the hundreds of biological, toxicological and epidemiological studies linking thimerosal to the wide range of neurological disorders, including autism.

This flawed science is the slender reed upon which the entire defense of thimerosal rests.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

White Plains, June 27, 2005

The New York Times

July 1, 2005

Is Autism Research Flawed, or Sound? (5 Letters)

To the Editor:

Re “On Autism’s Cause, It’s Parents vs. Research” (front page, June 25):

Not every parent of an autistic child who believes that the relationship between autism and thimerosal is worth investigating is hysterical and ready to do harm to well-meaning scientists. At least, I don’t think that describes me.

We simply believe that this issue warrants a more open investigation.

If the people cited in your article are so concerned about the virulence of these parents, they could let the steam out of this issue by doing one simple thing: Open the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention database to independent analysis.

The C.D.C. has refused to do so, citing privacy issues. The privacy of these records is indeed critical but could be protected and is certainly no more pressing than addressing the roots of a condition that affects more than 500,000 children in the United States alone.

Martin Bounds

Charlotte, N.C., June 26, 2005

•

To the Editor:

As the mother of two children who received an autism diagnosis at 2, I have seen fads, cures and theories about causation come and go.

In the 1950’s and 60’s, parents were blamed for causing autism. The backlash has created a climate in which many parents trust only their own convictions. They are encouraged by unscrupulous promoters of various fad treatments, litigators and politicians who want to “protect the little guy.”

As a founder of the Association for Science in Autism Treatment, a parent-professional collaboration, I urge my fellow parents to seek the science behind any purported treatment for autism and, most important, to educate ourselves on the distinction between science and pseudoscience.

Catherine Maurice

East Hampton, N.Y., June 25, 2005

•

To the Editor:

The American Academy of Pediatrics concurs with the conclusions of the Institute of Medicine and others that there is no link between exposure to thimerosal-containing vaccines and autism.

Vaccines are one of the greatest health innovations; we worry that as more parents hear negative stories about vaccines and refuse to immunize, vulnerable children will suffer to an even greater degree.

The member doctors of the academy deal with children and families with autism every day. We’re working hard to help our members detect autism early and to treat it in the most responsible, effective manner.

We are concerned that the attention being paid to unsubstantiated adverse effects of thimerosal will result in distraction from legitimate efforts to identify the cause of autism and will lead to ineffective and unsafe attempts at therapy.

Carol D. Berkowitz, M.D.

President

American Academy of Pediatrics

Elk Grove Village, Ill.

June 29, 2005

•

To the Editor:

What concerns me most is not whether or not thimerosal causes autism. It is that the “experts” feel they have the authority to label parents of autistic children as lacking credibility just because there is no scientific evidence, they say, of the harmfulness of thimerosal in vaccines.

These children are the evidence, and their parents are the experts. Pretending that a problem doesn’t exist because it hasn’t reached some statistically significant number is disturbing.

How about asking the scientific community for evidence of the complete safety and efficacy of these and all drugs? Without such evidence, most parents will just have to rely on gut feelings. We can’t wait for the science to catch up.

Belinda Aggarwal

Hartsdale, N.Y., June 25, 2005

•

To the Editor:

Your dismissive tone toward parents and alternative therapies is disappointing.

Some years ago, we tried sauna and vitamin therapy for our autistic son. The improvement was dramatic, and I am grateful to his doctors. The alternatives – special schooling, poor quality of life and Ritalin – were far more expensive.

All parents care about is that their child gets well. Our son got well.

Rebecca Madsen

New York, June 25, 2005

As the last letter suggests, parental intuition may yet be valid in some way not yet understood by science. The longer we live the more we realize that establishment science has to be careful in dismissing possibilities which have not yet been reduced to cut and dried studies.

Of course, we realize that tolerance may simply be the influence of aging which notoriously weakens the resistance of the scientifically minded to the possibility of the supernatural in the inexplicable. Certainly it seems that many scientists, even great ones, grow more sympathetic to religion as they grow older.

And we have to admit that the segment last night broadcast on ABC’s 20/20 concerning the two year old boy who seemed to have acquired the aviation expertise of a dead pilot from the Second World War had us baffled, even though the grand old man of skepticism, Paul Kurtz, seemed to think that it was all easily explained by the child listening to his parents and TV.

Whatever the explanation of autism’s boom in the US turns out to be, for the moment the absolute conviction of parents that we have met that the vaccinations preceded very closely the onset of the symptoms in their child is as impressive to us as the massive studies that deny it.

And as long as the cause of autism is unknown, it seems to us that the anecdotal evidence must be taken into account.

Meanwhile, it is impossible to assess the state of play on this issue without a copy of Evidence of Harm, which is a remarkable achievement in its own right. Even handed and temperate in tone, readable yet thoroughly researched, its searching account notes every claim and counter-claim, every charge and counter-charge, and the ins and outs of every study in this still unsolved question.

What it makes clear is why the situation remains unclear. Kirby shows just how many reasons there are for questioning studies, and how they are defended. He shows the way in which the solution to what seems a simple problem—does autism correlate significantly with the use of thimerosal in vaccines or not?—can get thoroughly lost in the professional bureaucracy and politics of modern research, and why there is distrust of its practitioners when their results conflict with personal experience.

Tutored in these complexities, and shown how much lies beneath the surface of modern science, readers are unlikely to be as sure again of the kind of clear cut conclusion they are handed in newspaper reports, even those as well done as last Saturday’s autism piece in the Times.


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