Damned Heretics

Condemned by the established, but very often right

I am Nicolaus Copernicus, and I approve of this blog

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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.

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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blog, insofar as it seems to believe both in science and the importance of intellectual imagination, uncompromised by out of date emotions such as the impulse toward conventional religious beliefs, national aggression as a part of patriotism, and so on.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

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Mind over matter – unto death?

December 31st, 2006


Anorexia in Brazil show power of mental disturbance to wreck health

Similar mind-body phenomenon likely helps kill in HIV∫AIDS, but gay liberation may extinguish it

Anyone who has visited Brazil might be surprised to hear that there is an anorexia epidemic in that body-worshipping country of hot flesh and vibrant samba rhythms. Half of Rio seems to spend its life at the beach, and its sensual culture, rich array of exotic foods, and sea and rain forest environment would seem to rule out the unnatural insanity of self-starvation.

But the fashion industry is taking action after Ana Carolina Reston, a 5′ 8″ beauty and model, died at age 21 weighing 80 lbs, and three other young women starved themselves to death in the last two months following the same strange ritual of self destruction, where distorted body image and fear of weight gain translates into skeletal physique and death, the victim all the while convinced that she is overweight .

In the latest incident, Beatriz Cristina Ferraz Bastos, a 23-year-old student and office worker, died on Christmas Eve, weighing just 75 pounds. On her home page at Orkut, a popular Web site for young Brazilians, she described herself as —œthin—? after having been —œ110 pounds overweight—? as a teenager, and included before and after photographs to prove her point.

The first death, in mid-November, was that of Ana Carolina Reston, a 21-year-old model, and it was initially regarded as an aberration. At the time of her death, Ms. Reston stood 5 feet 8 inches tall but weighed just over 80 pounds and was undergoing medical treatment after having collapsed at a fashion shoot in Japan.

A few days later, though, a 21-year-old fashion student also died of anorexia. At the beginning of this month, her death was followed by that of a 23-year-old manicurist, and a full-fledged media frenzy was on, with articles and television programs speculating that Brazil—™s obsession with physical beauty was getting out of hand….

At the same time, though, more than 11 million families, mostly in the impoverished northeast region of the country, benefit from a government program that pays a small monthly stipend to those who do not have enough to eat. According to the national statistical office, at least 8 percent of Brazil—™s 185 million people are underweight, a vast majority because they are too poor to afford a proper diet.

All four of the deaths from anorexia, in contrast, have occurred in the state of Ṣo Paulo, the countryѪs most populous, prosperous and modern. It is also the center of BrazilѪs booming fashion industry, which has come under pressure to take steps to protect working models and discourage ordinary girls from starving themselves in order to conform to designersѪ and booking agentsѪ idea of feminine beauty.

Concern over dangerously thin models has also led to action in Spain and Italy where fashion show organizers have restricted models to a weight at or above a floor. Madrid imposed a height to weight ratio in September, and guidelines have been announced for the New York fall fashion show starting in four weeks. Working out what the rules should be is proving difficult, however.
The New York Times

January 6, 2007
Health Guidelines Suggested for Models
By Eric Wilson

The fashion industry sells modish trapeze dresses and $800 platform ankle boots. But it also sells women an ideal of beauty embodied by the models who walk the runways and appear in fashion magazines.

And since the fall, American designers have been under increasing pressure to respond to a wave of dangerously thin models who have set the aesthetic standards of global fashion.

Now the industry has decided to issue guidelines to designers, aimed at promoting healthier behavior among its highly paid clothes hangers.

The guidelines, which fall short of modeling restrictions announced in recent months by fashion show organizers in Madrid and Milan, were introduced yesterday at a meeting of the Council of Fashion Designers of America in Manhattan. But the group—™s recommendations, which will be sent to designers next week in anticipation of the fall fashion shows that begin in New York on Feb. 2, seem unlikely to satisfy many critics of fashion—™s embrace of ultra-thinness.

According to participants at the meeting, the recommendations are likely to include scheduling fashion-show fittings with younger models during daylight hours, rather than late at night, to help them get more sleep; urging designers to identify models with eating disorders; and introducing more nutritious backstage catering, where a diet of Champagne and cigarettes is the norm.

There are no plans to require models to achieve an objective measure of health like a height-to-weight ratio, which was imposed by Madrid in September, a move that brought much public attention to the issue. It was further highlighted by the death of Ana Carolina Reston, a 21-year-old Brazilian model, from complications of anorexia in November.

More than two-thirds of respondents to a questionnaire on Elle magazine—™s Web site last month said they wished that American designers would follow the recent examples of fashion show organizers in Milan and Madrid in banning overly skinny models.

But the American designers rejected that option as unworkable.

—œIt is important as a fashion industry to show our interest and see what we can do because we are in a business of image,—? said Diane von Furstenberg, the president of the designers—™ council, the industry trade group. —œBut I feel like we should promote health as a part of beauty rather than setting rules.—?

The group that tackled the issue also included Anna Wintour, the influential editor of Vogue; several members of her staff; health professionals including a nutritionist, a psychiatrist and a physical trainer; a representative of a modeling agency; and a producer of fashion shows.

Designers and fashion magazine editors, who hire models, and executives for agencies that represent the young women, are skeptical that the profession can be regulated or monitored.

—œIt—™s nothing that we don—™t do already,—? said David Bonnouvrier, the chief executive of DNA Model Management, speaking of the guidelines. His colleague Louis Chabat, an agent at DNA, attended the fashion council meeting yesterday.

—œI hope it will be successful,—? Mr. Bonnouvrier said. —œIt is a serious enough issue that people will pay attention, but we cannot dictate the designers—™ choices. There will be a conscious effort for a while to address this, but whether that will last is another issue.—?

Madrid—™s banning of models who have a body mass index less than 18, a normal body standard according to the guidelines of the World Health Organization, did not initially draw much support among the organizers of shows in the major fashion capitals, until last month, when the Italian group issued what it described as a manifesto.

The new rules in Italy are meant to be applied at fashion shows in Rome this month, although they are not binding and in many cases not entirely understood.

The Chamber of Fashion, based in Milan, is asking that models hold a license issued by a committee of city officials and a panel of doctors, nutritionists, psychologists and other experts. But when proposing that models, who must be 16 to work there, also achieve a minimum body mass index of 18.5, the organizers added that geographical and ethnic considerations should also be considered, which industry professionals found confusing.

—œCan you think of another job you would have to talk to a nutritionist, a psychology expert and a doctor to get certified?—? asked Roberta Myers, the editor of Elle. —œMaybe the C.I.A.?—? Ms. Myers did not attend the American council meeting, but said she supported the idea of guidelines and educational programs because they would raise consciousness of the issue.

—œI see this as a good-faith effort on all of our parts,—? she said.

Abigail Walch, Vogue—™s health editor, who attended the fashion industry meeting, said the group conceived its recommendations independently of Milan and Madrid.

Vogue identified several experts to help educate models on health and fitness. They include a nutritionist, Joy Bauer; a fitness trainer, David Kirsch; and Dr. Susan Ice, a psychiatrist at the Renfrew Center in Philadelphia, which treats eating disorders.

—œYou cannot say one factor contributes to eating disorders or that one factor resolves them,—? Ms. Walch said. —œWe should have different avenues for dealing with this issue. We realize there are problems and we want to do everything possible to have resources available to these young girls.—?

Restricting models because they do not meet the specific height and weight standards of Madrid, which requires them to have a body mass index higher than 18, would not solve the problem, she said.

—œWe see models who are thin and getting thinner,—? said Ms. Bauer, who contributes nutrition advice to —œThe Today Show—? and Yahoo in addition to her Manhattan and Westchester County practices. Some models who have been referred to Ms. Bauer—™s offices are genetically thin, some come seeking healthy ways to lose five pounds, and some have genuine eating disorders.

—œI get this pressure,—? Ms. Bauer said. —œThe reality is that your entire career is somewhat based on being thin. It—™s a tricky thing.—?

Ms. Bauer said a goal of the fashion industry recommendations was to encourage healthy behavior among models, but also to educate designers on how to recognize disorders. Ms. Bauer, Mr. Kirsch and Dr. Ice will appear on a panel discussion of the issue during Fashion Week in New York.

She said that the body mass index would not give a fair indication of the healthfulness of models because of their height and age.

—œIt—™s not so much about whether they can be 18 or higher and still look fabulous,—? she said. —œI—™m not for mandating certain B.M.I.—™s because I don—™t think that is fair.—?

Patrick O—™Connell, a spokesman for Ms. Wintour, said: —œThe feeling is that it is not realistic to dictate or impose rules on a huge fashion industry. However, we do believe raising awareness and consciousness will go the furthest toward increasing people—™s sensitivities to the problem.—?
Is fear and shame fatal in HIV∫AIDS?

That such a deadly phenomenon has reached Brazil proves how powerfully the misguided mind can take over health in any culture, and suggests how likely it is that the phenomenon is central to HIV∫AIDS, where the shame and guilt some gays feel at their rejection by the mainstream, and even by their families, is often spoken of as leading to similar unconscious self-destruction, and was powerfully evoked by recent comments here. The point is not that it happens. The ability of the mind to control the body is a given. The issue is the extent to which the roots of gay death in the US from AIDS are or were in the culture.

The topic was raised recently in the Andrew Sullivan sideswipes Harpers thread by Michael Geiger, a leader of the chapter of Health Education Aids Liaison or HEAL in San Diego, who wrote:

what about the extremely toxic emotions that are concurrent with the belief that one has HIV and will sicken and die? Do you Mark, believe that emotions can be toxic, even to the point of death?

Certainly most people given the diagnosis of HIV or AIDS hold or have held on to such a belief, and those taking the drugs hold to the belief that the drugs will keep them alive, otherwise they would not be taking them.

(It is) my own, and as far as I can see, scientifically “unprovable”, belief, that belief itself plays the major defining role.

My evidence: As the overwhelming “belief” of HIV causing AIDS progressed after the 1984 Gallo’s pronouncement, so did the death rate in those who “believed” they had it or “believed” they would get it, and they certainly mostly “believed” they would die from it. As the common belief shifted in 1995 to a belief that one could “live” with HIV, this too became the reality for the masses.

Mark, Is there some reason that “belief” itself should not be strongly considered, and probably investigated, albeit currently scientifically difficult to do, as a, if not even perhaps the, leading causative factor of progression to AIDS, and should it not be a major scientific pursuit or personal investigation as well?

The problem with that time line is that the rise in death rate also reflected the arrival of immunity damaging, high dose (up to 1800 mg) daily AZT as the main prescription for a major immune deficiency disorder already owed to high (recreational) drug intake.

But “Wilyretrovirus” offered an impressive personal anecdote:

I knew a gay couple who were in absolutely normal health. When one of them was told the word “positive” by the clinician, he physically collapsed on the spot, sobbing hysterically, curling up into the fetal position. He had been fine the entire time I’d known him, but within a couple weeks after having the rattle shaken at him (the “test” “result”), he became very ill. There was nothing I could do to help him. I felt so powerless.

His lover though, was fine until he started taking AZT. Their attitudes were quite different from each other, and it showed in the time it took for them to sicken and die. The friend who collapsed died within a year, his lover would hang on for another year.

“MacDonald” added this post emphasizing the group fantasy reinforcing individual fear and recommending the early seminal paper in the Journal of Psychohistory Summer 1984, on AIDS as a cultural hysteria by the prescient Caspar Schmidt:

The positive HIV test is a shaman’s rattle, but to get past the truism that any diagnosis can produce illness, I suggest that in this case it’s the whole culture of hysteria created around HIV/AIDS that’s the rattle and we all, media, politicians, activists, risk groups, docs, general population to a greater or lesser extent the witch hunters (I prefer witch hunters to shamans, since a shaman’s function is quite different)

This view is in line with Casper Schmidt’s The Group-Fantasy Origins of AIDS

Here is Schmidt’s introdution:

I propose an alternative hypothesis for the etiology of AIDS, based on the second of these two mechanisms of contagion in man. This will posit a psychosocial origin of epidemic AIDS, which will lie on the cusp between immunology, pathology and psychology (the latter including the psychology of both individuals and groups). I will do so in twin papers meant to be read in tandem: this one, which will deal mostly with the group psychology, and a second paper for the medical press. In the medical paper, which is entitled, “The Pathogenesis of Epidemic AIDS”, I account for the “biological” end of the disorder. It will trace the physiological effects of the group-psychological factors outlined in this paper on the individual patient, with the resultant epidemic of severe, mostly masked, reactive depression in the at-risk groups, of which the immune deficiency is one facet. It will outline the pathway and the mechanism by which the cell-mediated immunity may be suppressed, and will provide an animal model for AIDS, as I discuss below.

Even if you find Schmidt’s analysis somewhat overwrought as we do – fantasy replacing fantasy, as it were – there is no denying that fear of AIDS – AFRAIDS as some label it – has to be a most powerful superstition in its own right, given the effective invisibility of the “cunning” agent at every turn (even to the scientists who warn us with such certainty of its as yet unexplained and unproven action), and its supposed ability to strike otherwise healthy victims down without warning at any point over a period of 24 years (ie double the average 12 years latency period).

In fact, when one contemplates the attributes of the Virus one has to say that it is the most fearful virus ever conceived of, though luckily for some as yet unexplained reason no threat to white heterosexuals in the USA, though deadly if you are gay or if you are black, African and living in dire poverty or starving, in which latter case you are likely to be rated as suffering from AIDS by any visiting American celebrity or medical worker who catches sight of you if you have so much as a sniffle or are undernourished.

Yet obviously the individual fantasy is fed by group fantasy on every level. Thus “MacDonald” added the witty analogy that

In fact, in an exact parallel to the modern Christian missionaries, the AIDS church has largely given up on improving its numbers at home and now chooses to concentrate on Africa for new converts.

The thread is worth reading to the end of that section, since as several wise commentators point out its boundaries are cultural rather than scientific, and extend far beyond science, perhaps even starting there. Like Schmidt they also point out that by its nature this kind of deeply rooted group fantasy will resist with hostility those who try to pop the bubble, treating them as outcasts rather than saviors.

The ruling AIDS paradox is that those most in need of enlightenment in the US may try to kill the messenger. But it also seems that with gay liberation, as gays more and more take their rightful place in society, free of prejudice and other-induced guilt and shame, they may finally free themselves of HIV∫AIDS think too.

If this is true then gay liberation may be one route to the liberation of true science in HIV∫AIDS.

UPDATE (Jan 14 Sun)

Two more Brazilian beauties die

In In the Land of Bold Beauty, a Trusted Mirror Cracks, an update for the Week in Review, Larry Rohter notes that two more women died from anorexia in the last two weeks, and speculates why Brazil’s female body image is narrowing.

The death that followed Ms. Reston—™s was of a 21-year-old fashion student. There was also a 23-year-old student and office worker who had a home page on the Web and gave English lessons….

Even the famous —œgirl from Ipanema,—? immortalized in the bossa nova song written in 1962, illustrated the cultural differences that prevailed then: only in the English lyrics is she —œtall and tan and young and lovely.—? In the original Portuguese version, the emphasis is on —œthe sweet swing—? of her hips and backside as she walks, a sway described as —œmore than a poem, the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.—?

Today, in sharp contrast, the epitome of beauty is Gisele Bündchen, the top model whose enormous international success has inspired the thousands of Brazilian girls who dream of emulating her to enroll in modeling schools and competitions. But very little about Ms. Bündchen—™s body —” tall and blond, rangy yet busty —” connects her to her homeland and its traditional self-image….

According to the survey, the percentage of the population taking appetite-suppressants more than doubled between 2001 and 2005, making Brazil the world champion in the consumption of diet pills.

—œThe reasons are purely aesthetic, not medical, especially for women,—? who account for at least 80 percent of the market, said Dr. Elisaldo de Araújo Carlini, a professor at the Federal University of São Paulo who is the author of the study. —œThey want to get thin no matter what, all because of images from north of the Equator. It is a cruel cultural imposition on the Brazilian woman.—?

Women in countries around the world are subject to such pressures, of course. But Brazilians argue that the situation here is more extreme: this is, after all, a tropical country in which, much more than the United States, Europe or Japan, people live their lives outdoors, often, for comfort—™s sake, in skimpy clothes showcasing the body—™s glories or defects.

A result is a culture of vanity that seems to know no boundaries. This summer, the newest rage, according to local news reports, is liposuction on the toes, and there have also been accounts of a boom in plastic surgery among women 80 and older.

Men are not immune. President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is reported to have recently had cosmetic work done on his teeth, and even the chief of an Indian tribe in the Amazon had plastic surgery because, as he guilelessly put it, —œI was finding myself ugly and I wanted to be good-looking again.—?…

—œThis abrupt shift is a feminine decision that reflects changing roles—? as women move out of the home and into the workplace, she said. —œMen are still resisting and clearly prefer the rounder, fleshier type. But women want to be free and powerful, and one way to reject submission is to adopt these international standards that have nothing to do with Brazilian society.—?

The bottom line (speaking metaphorically here) seems to be that cultural forces can take a perfectly reasonable individual response based on vanity and magnify it into a killer.

The New York Times
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January 14, 2007
In the Land of Bold Beauty, a Trusted Mirror Cracks
By LARRY ROHTER

RIO DE JANEIRO

AS king of carnival, the corpulent Rei Momo is supposed to embody all the jollity, carnality and excess associated with that most Brazilian of bacchanals. So when the event—™s reigning monarch has gastric bypass surgery, sheds 150 pounds and starts an exercise program, you begin to wonder what—™s going on.

And when six young women die of anorexia in quick succession —” two in the last two weeks —” the wonder turns to bewilderment. Brazil may well be the most body-conscious society in the world, but that body has always been Brazil—™s confident own —” not a North American or European one.

For women here that has meant having a little more flesh, distributed differently to emphasize the bottom over the top, the contours of a guitar rather than an hourglass, and most certainly not a twig. Anorexia, though long associated with wealthier industrialized countries, was an affliction all but unheard-of here.

But that was before the incursions of the Barbie aesthetic, celebrity models, satellite television and medical makeovers made it clear just how far some imported notions of beauty, desirability and health have encroached on Brazilian ideals once considered inviolate.

By —œ —˜upgrading—™ to international standards of beauty,—? said Mary del Priore, a historian and co-author of —œThe History of Private Life in Brazil,—? the country is abandoning its traditional belief that —œplumpness is a sign of beauty and thinness is to be dreaded.—? The contradictory result, she added, is that —œtoday it—™s the rich in Brazil who are thin and the poor who are fat.—?

A generation ago, the ideal type here was Martha Rocha, a Miss Brazil from the mid-1950s. She finished second in the Miss Universe competition supposedly because her body was a bit too generous in the hips, buttocks and thighs, but since those characteristics were so highly valued here, as suggested by cartoons and the popularity of the semi-pornographic drawings of Carlos Zéfiro that circulated, it was the rest of the world whose taste was questioned.

Even the famous —œgirl from Ipanema,—? immortalized in the bossa nova song written in 1962, illustrated the cultural differences that prevailed then: only in the English lyrics is she —œtall and tan and young and lovely.—? In the original Portuguese version, the emphasis is on —œthe sweet swing—? of her hips and backside as she walks, a sway described as —œmore than a poem, the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.—?

Today, in sharp contrast, the epitome of beauty is Gisele Bündchen, the top model whose enormous international success has inspired the thousands of Brazilian girls who dream of emulating her to enroll in modeling schools and competitions. But very little about Ms. Bündchen—™s body —” tall and blond, rangy yet busty —” connects her to her homeland and its traditional self-image.

—œHers is a globalized beauty that has nothing to do with the Brazilian biotype,—? said Joana de Vilhena Novaes, author of —œThe Intolerable Weight of Ugliness: On Women and Their Bodies—? and a psychologist here. —œShe has very little in the way of hips, thighs or fanny. She—™s a Barbie,—? one whose parents are of German descent.

Dr. Novaes and others have noted that during the 1960s and 70s, Brazilian girls played with a locally made doll named Susi, who, reflecting the national aesthetic, was darker and fleshier than her counterparts abroad. But in the 1970s, Barbie arrived, and by the mid-1980s, production of Susi dolls had ceased, though it has resumed in recent years in a sort of backlash.

Yet until recently no one here would ever have talked with admiration about having an hourglass figure like Barbie—™s, let alone the coat-hanger physiques of the international runways. Instead, the ideal was what is known as —œum corpo de violão,—? or —œguitar-shaped body—?; that is, like Susi—™s, thicker in the waist, hips and fanny.

One indication of how rapidly values are changing can be gleaned from a government study released in November, just after the first in the cluster of anorexia deaths, that of Ana Carolina Reston, a 21-year-old model. According to the survey, the percentage of the population taking appetite-suppressants more than doubled between 2001 and 2005, making Brazil the world champion in the consumption of diet pills.

—œThe reasons are purely aesthetic, not medical, especially for women,—? who account for at least 80 percent of the market, said Dr. Elisaldo de Araújo Carlini, a professor at the Federal University of São Paulo who is the author of the study. —œThey want to get thin no matter what, all because of images from north of the Equator. It is a cruel cultural imposition on the Brazilian woman.—?

Women in countries around the world are subject to such pressures, of course. But Brazilians argue that the situation here is more extreme: this is, after all, a tropical country in which, much more than the United States, Europe or Japan, people live their lives outdoors, often, for comfort—™s sake, in skimpy clothes showcasing the body—™s glories or defects.

A result is a culture of vanity that seems to know no boundaries. This summer, the newest rage, according to local news reports, is liposuction on the toes, and there have also been accounts of a boom in plastic surgery among women 80 and older.

Men are not immune. President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is reported to have recently had cosmetic work done on his teeth, and even the chief of an Indian tribe in the Amazon had plastic surgery because, as he guilelessly put it, —œI was finding myself ugly and I wanted to be good-looking again.—?

But most of the complaints about the tyranny of the culture of beauty here come from women. Each year follows the same pattern: Enrollment at gyms, here called —œacademies,—? declines as cool weather arrives and then rises in the final quarter of the year, as women try to prepare their bodies to look good on the beaches during the Southern Hemisphere summer vacation season, which runs from just before Christmas until carnival, about two months later.

But Brazilian eating habits don—™t make the process easy. If the emblematic American meal consists of fried chicken, corn on the cob and apple pie, its Brazilian equivalent is more like this: rice and beans, potatoes, pasta, bread, salad and a slice of meat sprinkled with farofa, or ground and toasted yucca flour.

The Brazilian diet is much higher in carbohydrates and lower in protein than is recommended, said Claudia Carahyba, a nutritionist in São Paulo whose clients include modeling agencies that want to break their girls of such bad habits. —œThat is especially true of the poor,—? she said. —œSince protein costs more, they trade that for more carbohydrates like yucca, which are cheaper and make you feel full.—?

In fact, the new paradigm has been slower to penetrate poorer regions like the Amazon and the northeast, where hunger is still widespread and the idea of —œfartura,—? or cornucopian abundance, is especially valued. There, men in particular are proud to show off wives and children whose bodies are more rounded, as a sign that they are good providers.

—œTo be fat used to be considered wonderful in Brazil, because it showed that you eat very well, which is important to Brazilians,—? said Roberto da Matta, an anthropologist and newspaper columnist who is a leading social commentator. —œThat you have three meals a day and eat meat and beans, calmly, at a table with friends and relatives, means that someone is taking good care of you.—?

Experts also agree that Brazilian men, whatever their class or race, have been much slower to accept slenderness as a gauge of feminine beauty. When they are looking for a sexual partner, Brazilian men are consistent and clear in saying that they prefer women who are fleshy in the rear —” —œpopozuda—? is the wonderfully euphonious slang term used here —” and have pronounced curves.

In the past, that standard was so firmly established that some Brazilian women resorted to breast reduction or buttock augmentation surgery, sometimes even transferring their own tissue from top to bottom.

But as the international standard has taken hold, tastes are changing.

—œThose huge breasts you see in the United States, like in Playboy, were always considered ridiculous in Brazil,—? said Ivo Pitanguy, the country—™s most renowned plastic surgeon. —œBut there is now more of a tendency than before to want breasts that are a bit larger —” not to make them huge, mind you, but more proportional as part of a body that is more svelte and more athletic.—?

Though such globalized standards of beauty originated in rich, mostly white neighborhoods, they are gradually being spread to the rest of Brazil and across racial lines by the actresses and models who live here and perform in popular telenovelas. Exercise academies can be found in slum areas, and newspapers noted that the most recent anorexia victim was a dark-skinned teenager from a working-class suburb of Rio who dreamed of becoming a model.

In fact, all six women who died of anorexia lived either in Rio de Janeiro or in Ṣo Paulo, the countryѪs most cosmopolitan states and centers of the Brazilian fashion industry. The death that followed Ms. RestonѪs was of a 21-year-old fashion student. There was also a 23-year-old student and office worker who had a home page on the Web and gave English lessons.

Ms. del Priore, the historian, pointed to other fundamental changes, which she said have led to a rebellion against machismo and the patriarchal structure that she believes persists here.

—œThis abrupt shift is a feminine decision that reflects changing roles—? as women move out of the home and into the workplace, she said. —œMen are still resisting and clearly prefer the rounder, fleshier type. But women want to be free and powerful, and one way to reject submission is to adopt these international standards that have nothing to do with Brazilian society.—?


The New York Times

December 30, 2006
Burst of High-Profile Anorexia Deaths Unsettles Brazil
By Larry Rohter

RIO DE JANEIRO, Dec. 29 —” In less than two months, four young women have died in widely publicized cases of anorexia in Brazil, causing a national debate about body image and eating disorders.

The problem is a new one here, and it clearly puzzles and shocks Brazilians. In this country, eliminating hunger among the millions of the poor has traditionally been an important political cause, so the notion that people would voluntarily starve themselves is hard for most Brazilians to comprehend.

In the latest incident, Beatriz Cristina Ferraz Bastos, a 23-year-old student and office worker, died on Christmas Eve, weighing just 75 pounds. On her home page at Orkut, a popular Web site for young Brazilians, she described herself as —œthin—? after having been —œ110 pounds overweight—? as a teenager, and included before and after photographs to prove her point.

The first death, in mid-November, was that of Ana Carolina Reston, a 21-year-old model, and it was initially regarded as an aberration. At the time of her death, Ms. Reston stood 5 feet 8 inches tall but weighed just over 80 pounds and was undergoing medical treatment after having collapsed at a fashion shoot in Japan.

A few days later, though, a 21-year-old fashion student also died of anorexia. At the beginning of this month, her death was followed by that of a 23-year-old manicurist, and a full-fledged media frenzy was on, with articles and television programs speculating that Brazil—™s obsession with physical beauty was getting out of hand.

In the clearest sign that the issue has reached public awareness, a popular television soap opera, —œPages of Life,—? includes a character who is a teenage ballerina suffering from bulimia. In addition, a weekly newsmagazine published a cover story last month that featured a photograph of Ms. Reston alongside a headline that read, —œInside the Mind of an Anorexic.—?

At the same time, though, more than 11 million families, mostly in the impoverished northeast region of the country, benefit from a government program that pays a small monthly stipend to those who do not have enough to eat. According to the national statistical office, at least 8 percent of Brazil—™s 185 million people are underweight, a vast majority because they are too poor to afford a proper diet.

All four of the deaths from anorexia, in contrast, have occurred in the state of Ṣo Paulo, the countryѪs most populous, prosperous and modern. It is also the center of BrazilѪs booming fashion industry, which has come under pressure to take steps to protect working models and discourage ordinary girls from starving themselves in order to conform to designersѪ and booking agentsѪ idea of feminine beauty.

Gisele Bündchen, a model who in recent years has been among the best known and most successful in the world, is Brazilian. Her fame and wealth are widely admired here and have prompted thousands of other young women to enroll in modeling schools and competitions, whose number has proliferated.

Last month, after Ms. Reston died, Ms. Bündchen agreed to an interview with Folha de São Paulo, a leading daily newspaper. She criticized the international obsession with thinness and urged girls who hoped to emulate her not to fall into that trap.

—œUnfortunately, with the competition that exists in our milieu, a lot of girls attach more importance to work and certain notions of beauty than to their health,—? she said. —œTo go hungry in order to copy a certain standard is a big mistake and is not going to guarantee anyone—™s success.—?

The annual São Paulo Fashion Week is scheduled to be held again late next month, and organizers have said they will require proof that all participating models are at least 16 years old and that they have supplied a health certificate. They have also announced a health and anorexia awareness campaign that includes print, broadcast and Internet announcements, the distribution of fliers and talks at schools.

Reformers who risk death saluted

December 30th, 2006


A Brazilian leader braves the shotgun death met by a nun before him

HIV∫AIDS paradigm challengers also endure psychosocial violence

Tarcisio Feitosa Da SilvaA profile in the Times today (Sat Dec 30) portrays a very brave man, Tarcísio Feitosa da Silva, director of the Roman Catholic Church’s Pastoral Land Commission in the Amazon region of Altamire, Brazil.

Tarcisio puts his life on the line in his fight against the ravages of loggers, ranchers, miners and land speculators who will cut down the entire rain forest unless they are stopped. He is now top of their hit list, following the shooting of the activist nun Sister Dorothy last year, who headed the list at the time, one of sixty politically motivated murders so far.

As bad as things are now, Mr. Feitosa fears they are about to become worse. “The war in this region hasn’t even started,” he said. “It’s only going to start when the authorities come to remove the ranchers from the lands they got through bogus means and then deforested illegally. Then it’s going to get really violent.”

Mr. Feitosa said his activities “make my wife nervous, but she understands that I can’t stop doing what I do.” The couple, who married when he was 19 and she 15, have two sons, ages 12 and 13, who are subjected to a strict curfew and have been given cellphones so that they can always be in touch with their parents.

“I watch out for myself,” he said. “I don’t walk around alone anymore, especially at night, and I don’t get into a taxi unless the driver is someone I know. Since a lot of killings have occurred in people’s homes, my father has also put barriers on all the windows and doors.”

Still, Mr. Feitosa said, “If they want to do it, they are going to do it. You can’t impede them. I have to trust in God.”

A hero of resistance to ignorance and violence, few would deny.

The AIDS dissenters are heroes of science, too, in their way

Perhaps we should take the opportunity to say that it should not be overlooked that all those who challenge the current paradigm in HIV∫AIDS face similar attacks on the psychic and economic level.

The litany of bankrupticies emotional and financial which have been visited on the best known players has not been recited in the press, but it is long, much of it secret. But some is public, perforce. The vicious attacks on Christine Maggiore as mother as well as author are well known to all who read this blog and other comment on the Web, including her own site, and are an indication of the lynch mob mentality, religious tribalism and political ruthlessness that are brought to bear on truth seekers and tellers in this arena of supposed science.

The elite scientist who first raised the obvious and overwhelming objections to HIV∫AIDS in print in a major journal, the honorable Peter Duesberg of Berkeley, paid a price for his unique display of public responsibility in the two decades since which stands as a shame to modern science – loss of the greatest accolade the NIH can confer, the Special Investigator Grant, worth $350,000 at the time, and not a penny in NIH funding since, loss of invitations to clubby conferences on holiday isles and other desirable spots, loss of graduate students, loss of teaching responsibilities, loss of domestic harmony, loss of speaking invitations, probably loss of a Nobel for his pioneering work in cancer which continues today as one of the most promising avenues of research in US science, attracting his opponents who are trying to take over the credit as fast as they can.

Celia Farber, the most distinguished literary and social critic in the field, has been visited with uninformed editorial prejudice which has limited the publication of her truly Orwellian contribution, luckily without preventing it surfacing in SPIN over the years, and Harpers in March, and her book of collected pieces from Melville House this year, “Serious Adverse Events”.

All this is the result of the protection of the paradigm by Dr Anrthony Fauci of NIAID, who has for over twenty years imposed media silence on the issue on pain of banning reporters from any contact with scientists at the NIH if they dare to cover the topic. The result of this – a policy the nattily suited Dr Fauci cheerfully posted in a AAAS newsletter – has been that even the New York Times was corraled in support of the propaganda war for unquestioning public acceptance of the paradigm, after it was thoroughly and comprehensively debunked in top journals without a satisfactory rebuttal, and has hardly mentioned Peter Duesberg since.

In other words, just like the movement to ravage the Amazon rain forest for private gain, the few who resist on behalf of the public interest are threatened with injury on the career level. Thus one vicious phenomenon seen in the struggle is the tendency of John P. Moore and other members of the goon squad putting down resistance to the paradigm to call up employers of those who raise questions, and tip them off to the crackpotism they say is being perpetrated by the employee. At least one blog has been affected by this strategy.

Then, of course, most people who try to spread sanity on the social level run into the usual handicap that this is one of the least popular topics in the media and at dinner parties, so if they do mention it they run a risk of social death. This writer last year encountered a delightful woman he had known over a decade earlier in New York City at a book party at Elaines and found out she was heading up an AIDS organization in a poor area of the city. When she learned which side we were on she said quickly “Oh dont’t talk to me about that!” and went off, and later circled back and had a merry chat without once mentioning the banned topic, not that we minded at all. The usefulness of introducing the topic to those infected by the AIDS meme is generally nil, we already know.

The Sachs syndrome

A similar reaction occurs on the public level, which one might call the Sachs syndrome, after Jeremy Sachs, the Columbia economist who has steered the UN into rescuing the world’s poor. Sachs, when we mentioned giving him a report on Duesberg in a personal conversation exiting a Barnard conference, responded “Any topic but that!” and hurried off, instinctively placing as much distance between himself and the topic as possible.

A similar reaction ws shown by the president of the New York Academy of Sciences, when your faithful correspondent discovered him talking about Duesberg to a California physicist giving a book lecture at the Academy. Asked later about what he had been saying as we were leaving, he also accelerated his walk saying he “wouldn’t ever say anything about Duesberg” and he “had to go to dinner” and vanished down the dark street in mid conversation, exactly like Sachs.

This is why we admire Bill Clinton as possibly the only man at the top whose mind is still active and open on the topic. As he told us recently, “I never close the door on scientific questions. It’s wrong.”

Call it evasion, aqvoidance, denial, psychic murder, or social gunning down, but the same process is at work as in the Amazon, and those such as Maggiore, Duesberg, Farber, Bialy, Crowe, Davis, Steele, Scheff, Shenton and all the other names on the long roll call of honor of people who put truth, justice, science, and humanity above their own skins, have to endure the penalty exacted on those who put informing people of the truth above their own self-interest.

Struggling to Save His Amazon, From the Top of a Death List

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December 30, 2006

The Saturday Profile

Struggling to Save His Amazon, From the Top of a Death List

By LARRY ROHTER

ALTAMIRA, Brazil

EARLY last year, a dubious distinction attached itself to Tarcísio Feitosa da Silva, director of the Roman Catholic Church’s Pastoral Land Commission here in one of the most conflict-ridden regions of the Amazon. After the American nun Dorothy Stang was shot to death on a jungle road, he replaced her at the top of the death list that loggers, ranchers, miners and land speculators are known to maintain.

It is, of course, a form of recognition that Mr. Feitosa, 35, and his family would prefer he not have. But it testifies to the effectiveness of his work on behalf of Indian tribes, peasant settlers and river-dwellers and to preserve what remains of the endangered rain forest here.

Along with other religious and community groups, the entity Mr. Feitosa leads has challenged forged land titles, denounced unauthorized logging and organized peasant farmers to resist land invasions. Recently, those efforts have been rewarded with a government decree establishing a system of nature reserves that, if put into practice, will force many wealthy ranchers and loggers to leave the lands they currently control, without compensation.

“We have chosen an option that in this region seems radical, that of keeping the forest standing,” Mr. Feitosa said. “That has jolted powerful interests that in every other part of the Amazon have been able to topple the forest.”

Mr. Feitosa is himself a pure product of the Amazon, born and raised in this frontier town of 77,000 at the junction of the Trans-Amazon Highway and the Xingu River. His mother is a rubber tapper’s daughter, while his father, originally a crab fisherman, came here as a sharecropper around 1970, when the highway was being built.

“Part of my origin is in the forest and the other part is in the water,” Mr. Feitosa said. “I’ve had offers to go elsewhere, but I’ve always insisted on living and working here.”

Mr. Feitosa’s mother had once been a nun, and later worked in a medical clinic here that catered to the poor. It was from her, he believes, that he inherited his vocation for social service.

“My mother always said that you shouldn’t be concerned just with yourself, that you have to worry about society,” he said. “My mother was always linked to church and community movements, so I think that gene came from her.”

She also passed along her religious faith to him, the eldest of her three children. Though he never contemplated becoming a priest “because I didn’t want to spend six years in a seminary,” Mr. Feitosa describes himself as devoted to the idea of living “a Christian life, by Christian principles, as a Christian citizen” and to the Church itself.

“To me, my faith is something essential,” he explained. “People say I’m a real churchgoer. I was an altar boy in my parish for a long time, and used to try to pay attention to the words of the priests who were celebrating Mass. But I never really understood that phrase that comes just before communion, the one about ‘behold the mystery of faith.’ ”

But then one day, while visiting an Indian village, in an episode Mr. Feitosa describes as a turning point in his life, he was invited by his hosts to go hunting in the jungle. The hunting party killed a deer, skinned it and brought the meat back to the settlement.

“I was super happy, thinking my group would get the best part,” he recalled. “But then one old woman came and cut the haunches, then another old woman and another and another. In the end, after all the ribs were taken too, all that remained for us who had made such a big sacrifice was a little piece of meat.

“My first reaction was, how could a thing like this happen? I had gone the whole day without eating, walked I don’t know how many kilometers in the jungle and helped to carry that deer back on my shoulders. But then I realized that what is on the table is meant to be shared, and that is the mystery of faith. So I think that was the first true Eucharist that I ever experienced.”

MR. FEITOSA divides the history of his native region into two periods: before the construction of the Trans-Amazon Highway and after. He remembers swimming and fishing as a child in areas that have been deforested and developed, and notes ruefully that one must now travel far to find truly unspoiled jungle.

“The people who came here after the highway opened saw the forest as a obstacle to development,” he said, adding: “Nobody thought of biodiversity, nobody thought of the potential the forest itself offered; the rule was to destroy.”

The situation worsened, he maintains, in the 1990s. He began working for the Pastoral Land Commission then, and started to confront those who saw the Amazon as a source of quick profits.

“The loggers would first come in to exploit the Indian lands and then move into the Midlands looking for mahogany,” he recalled. “There were moments when you’d get really tense, because there were a lot of invasions and these were big, big companies that would run you right over.”

This year Mr. Feitosa won the Goldman Environmental Prize, which comes with a $125,000 grant, most of which he plans to use for work with jungle communities. The citation noted that Mr. Feitosa’s home state of Pará is now “one of the deep Amazon’s most lawless and environmentally threatened regions.”

THERE is indeed a violent Wild West atmosphere here, which existed long before the killing of Sister Dorothy on Feb. 12, 2005. Human rights groups talk of more than 60 politically motivated murders in the region.

As bad as things are now, Mr. Feitosa fears they are about to become worse. “The war in this region hasn’t even started,” he said. “It’s only going to start when the authorities come to remove the ranchers from the lands they got through bogus means and then deforested illegally. Then it’s going to get really violent.”

Mr. Feitosa said his activities “make my wife nervous, but she understands that I can’t stop doing what I do.” The couple, who married when he was 19 and she 15, have two sons, ages 12 and 13, who are subjected to a strict curfew and have been given cellphones so that they can always be in touch with their parents.

“I watch out for myself,” he said. “I don’t walk around alone anymore, especially at night, and I don’t get into a taxi unless the driver is someone I know. Since a lot of killings have occurred in people’s homes, my father has also put barriers on all the windows and doors.”

Still, Mr. Feitosa said, “If they want to do it, they are going to do it. You can’t impede them. I have to trust in God.”

Sister Dorothy also trusted in God, and that, in the end, was not enough to protect her. “She aroused the ire of a lot of people by discovering all those irregularities that were going to damage a lot of big interests,” he acknowledged. Has he also enraged those same interests? “Maybe so,” he replied, “but they are going to have to leave. The forest must be kept alive for the benefit of all, not just a few speculators.”

“I go to Mass every Sunday at 6:30 in the afternoon,” he added with a shrug. “If someone wants to kill me, they already know the route.”

Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

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Oprah’s incredible Xmas journey

December 25th, 2006


Replay of South African trip rekindles joy in hearts of audience

But does “AIDS” mean only one treatment?

Oprah visited South Africa about two years ago, and celebrated Christmas by rerunning the segment this Christmas Day.

She gave clothes to poor children there, who were quite transformed by the simple gifts, which were the only decent costume they had had for quite a while, if ever. The joy that broke out in the hall was ecstatic. Children ran to hug Oprah and say “I love you Oprah”. “I love you too”, Oprah replied. She also handed out each child a box with packaged food for a month. Afterwards she broke out in loud sobs, as she walked away from the event.

((Click pics twice for maximum enlargement)).

She then visited the home of a (soon to be) AIDS orphan and then went with her to the mother lying in the hospital, hollow eyed, one eye grotesquely larger than the other, with “AIDS”, although the public hospital had no drugs to treat her, because the government had not provided any, the black doctor explained to Oprah.

Oprah broke down at this and cried in public, sobbing “I don’t understand it. I don’t understand it.” When she finished sobbing, she hugged the child for a long moment that the cameras caught in full.

Later, she tells us that she has now discovered her purpose in life, and the reason why she has never married. It is to use her voice to rescue the children of South Africa from the rural sex orgy spreading HIV among their parents.

Now, she reports from stage today, the government has agreed to supply drugs. She wants you to find the same joy in giving by doing something for these people, whose country has more people with AIDS than any other. You can contribute to her “Angel Network” which presumably will send more drugs.

Question: If the woman was not treated for AIDS, was she treated for anything else? The doctor told Oprah she was treated for her symptoms, but the response seemed to be only acquiescence to Oprah’s question in this regard. So evidently what was meant was any symptoms were alleviated as far as possible.

The mother subsequently died. If she died of TB, was she treated for TB, or not? Presumably not effectively. Why not? is there a shortage of antibiotics or whatever cures TB, or is African TB too lethal in poor people? It certainly is rampant in Africa, and a new strain is said to be causing new problems.

Bottom line: Does the diagnosis of supposed AIDS mean that they don’t bother to give a mother any antibiotics? Surely not.

But one suspects that this is a possibility. Once “AIDS” is the diagnosis, the assumption of everybody involved is that only Western drugs can save the patient.

Certainly this is the assumption of all viewers of this segment, which follows a repeat of Oprah’s “Buy Red with Bono” show a couple of weeks ago.

At this rate Dr Anthony Fauci is probably in love with Oprah, who has become the largest propaganda spokesman for the standard wisdom in AIDS short of WHO.

Audience: 7 million or more.

Comedy on the TV screen Tues

December 25th, 2006


Throwing caution to the winds, NAR founder appears on MNN for one hour

Danger that HIV dissent may be seen as another 9/11 theory

Tomorrow at 10.30 am New York time your humble yet far seeing blogger will be on TV in New York City at Public Access Channel 34, on the Harold Channer interview show. The hour long bloviation will also be projected on the MNN website http://www.mnn.org at the same time, and then it will join Harold Channer’s 2000+ past shows on his site via YouTube, joining Buckminster Fuller, Robert Atkins, and other greater names among the “everybody” that the celebrated Harold seems to catch sooner or later.

The segment was recorded at the MNN public access studio on 59th Street, after Harold called and asked us to do it at rather short notice, so the cosmetic flaws which public access likes to expose (tie askew, shirt rumpled and a gap between sock and trouser) are there to emphasize how real human beings are talking, rather than primped, powdered and sprayed institutional figureheads replaying a loop of canned messages from their political and commercial sponsors , or sources sanctioned by editors (publishers).

Another small misfire was that we ran over time and the books we brought – Serge Lang’s Challenges, Peter Duesberg’s Inventing the AIDS Virus, Harvey Bialy’s Oncogenes, Aneuploidy and AIDS: A Scientific Life and Times of Peter H. Duesberg, and Celia Farber’s Serious Adverse Events – were squeezed in the end as far as possible, and not entirely.

Perhaps there will be a second segment to cover the burgeoning critique of the HIV∫AIDS paradigm of AIDS, which is gaining so much muscle on the Web and even in the media following the 12 page Harpers breakthrough by Celia Farber in March. Optimists even detect that the snarling of the wolves that guard the scientifically hollow paradigm is beginning to sound more like the bleating of lambs that wolves encircle.

Switching on Channel 34 this Xmas morning to see what kind of framing this discussion will have when broadcast tomorrow morning in New York and around the world, we were happy to see Amy Goodman of Democracy Now, the Pacifica network news show, telling the story of an important songwriter of yore, Yip Harburg, who wrote lyrics for Brother Can You Spare a Dime, Wizard of Oz, etc.

At midmorning however we were a little less happy to see another segment with Webster Tarpley and his 9/11 “coordinated demolition” theory of WTC collapse on TV yet again, propagandizing the world on Xmas day with an authoritative rant that his admiring female interviewer couldn’t stop. As Tarpley went on and on he seemed rather pleased with the sound of his own voice, and amiable enough, though finding analogies and reasons for suspicion everywhere. He brought home once again how easy it is for the practiced mind to produce arguments for almost any side of any question, and in a pleasant voice too, and be a crackpot.

It wasn’t just that Tarpley argued with analogy rather than logic, or that none of this seems to have stood up when investigated, it was that all the while he skirted a central problem with his own thesis: its extreme unlikelihood from any point of view. This is that like most conspiracy theorists, he suggests a complex plan carried out at high government level with consummate skill and kept utterly leakproof ever since. Governments in the minds of such debaters are full of masterminds who are more cunning than Dr. Fu Manchu, and operatives that are more secretive and loyal than humanly possible. Perhaps they are right, since nothing has leaked to confirm the 9/11 plot. But as Iraq and other debacles make clear, intelligence, efficiency and coverup are unlikely to be perfect at this level. Plotters have difficulty planning with 100% accuracy and then remaining totally leak proof, especially in the reign of the Internet.

Had we known that MNN was the home of so much conspiracy theory we would have emphasized in the interview that the dissent from HIV∫AIDS is not a conspiracy theory so much as a battle against a diversion of funding and the standard tendency of scientists to hang on to a fund winning, prize winning paradigm as long as they can even when it has been shot to pieces in the literature.

So we admit to a momentary impulse to keep our public indiscretion secret for fear that Channel 34 will mark us as supporting some similar kind of conspiracy theory, as well as alerting the HIV goon squad to our appearance and location. But this soon passed. Stand up, stand for or you stand still, as someone once said.

Anyhow, aside from the human weaknesses on view, such as looking as if one had been run over by a truck on the way to the studio, the session went off alright, we thought, though we doubt that much of the message got through. Harold first made us confess to our life story and then became preoccupied with the fact that we had studied economics, his favorite topic (he is a fan of Louis Kelso’s), and that we had abandoned it for covering science, for which we had no real excuse except that economics at the time was far less worldly and hands on than it is now.

The flattering Channer also has a rather alarming habit of treating his guests as sages on grand topics, perhaps because many of them are. So we only got to the HIV∫AIDS issue about half way through the exchange, and weren’t able to deal with the topic pros and cons in much detail. We hope we did enough that one or two seeds will be sown and some chance listeners will be alerted to what is really going on in AIDS science.

In praise of public tv

Looking Back and Moving Forward: A Year in the Fight to Save Public Access TV!Back in September 2005, a cluster of anti-Community Access TV legislation emerged in the Washington—and we faced the greatest threat to Public Access TV in its thirty-five year history. Today, after fifteen months of campaigning and organizing by MNN’s producers, supporters, saveaccess.org, and our community allies, the threat is still real—but we have a clearer understanding of what may happen in the future. In recent months, since the Congressional Bills have been stalled, the telephone companies have been putting their efforts into lobbying for a statewide franchise system—and attack Public Access TV and the local franchising in this way.

As a listener today to MNN on 34 we found it a very pleasant experience after the cacophony of commercial networks. One delightful aspect of public TV is the tone of voice used by people on it, which is authentic and personal, rather than commercially prepared – home cooking rather than hotel dining room menu, handwriting rather than computer font. This is reality without cosmetics and without hype, where shirts are rumpled and ties askew, and the talk is honest. The ideas are equally ungroomed, and free of official or commercial restraint. The tones of voice used have some of the soothing qualities of honest friendship.

As a truthseeker, one is proud to participate, even if the information people purvey is a little questionable, sometimes. For it is natural that many of the speakers are tilted against power and its secret machinations against the will of the people. But that is in fact the complaint in HIV∫AIDS, even though it is not a conspiracy theory of secretly coordinated policy against the truth.

Or is it? Perhaps it is a conspiracy of sorts. You would think so if you read the memos which were written in the NIH when Peter Duesberg’s initial thorough debunking of HIV∫AIDS first came out in Cancer Research in 1987 (to be effectively ignored or quashed for 21 years). Read Peter Duesberg’s or Harvey Bialy’s book for these memos, which rather than show interest in whether Duesberg might be right in saying that HIV as the cause of AIDS was improbable to the level of impossible, chose rather to be concerned with “How the heck did this get into print without someone flagging it and getting to the editor in time to disparage it and prevent its publication?”

So treating HIV∫AIDS as a conspiracy, knowing or not (Clinton and Gates and other fellow travelers cannot be said to know that what they have backed is incorrect), may not be so far off the mark, certainly as far as its roots are concerned. In this case we are talking about a conspiracy to conceal the truth and defeat it by using censorship and official propaganda against it, however, not a conspiracy which cooked up a new virus to kill blacks and gays, which would be the 9/11 equivalent in AIDS.

After midday, MNN moved on to covering a march for housing for AIDS victims in New York before the recent election, with most of those interviewed being blacks.

“We are marching to show we are people who care about this disease and the AIDS crisis has not been addressed,” some of the marchers told the camera. “There is a crisis going on here on our shores and there are people dying and not getting access to medications, We may have had our own reasons to go into Iraq but we need Bush to pay attention here. Bush and Cheney have to go. We want to send a message to them that we don’t want them in the White House any more. We don’t have housing for AIDS and we are very sick and tired of this. We want more AIDS research and give us better housing and stuff. We are saying to our so called leaders they are not doing their job. Every year we have people dying of AIDS…”

Who is going to tell these good people what they really have to complain about? Only public access, it seems.

Celia’s Christmas spirit – model for HIV critics

December 21st, 2006


In memory of Joyce

All those touched by the plight of the family of Joyce Ann Hafford will want to go to this page, generously put up by Celia Farber in their honor and as a tribute to the mother they lost.

The dissenting HIV∫AIDS blog Hank’s You Bet Your Life, in a post today, Celia Farber on the Spirit of Christmas, directed readers to the page with only two quotes, one tragic and one grotesque, that by themselves say all that needs to be said about HIV∫AIDS scientists and their concern for the human victims of their hubris:

“I miss her every day. I have not visited her grave or put flowers on it since we laid her to rest on August 6, 2003. The pain is so deep. Almost three years later, just thinking of her brings tears to my eyes. My sister was an incredible person, not a lab rat.” (Rubbie King)

“Farber describes the death of one patient and implies this is relevant to the science of HIV.” (Robert Gallo, MD, et al.)

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Update: As the Comments below indicate, the moving success of this appeal is a tribute both to the compelling authenticity of Rubbie King’s expanded letter and to Celia and her rare level of compassion for the luckless victims of this unjustified paradigm and the hubris of its perpetrators, knowing or not.

Possibly this is the source of her unrelenting courage in sticking to her coverage of this grossly unpopular topic all these twenty years.

All rethinkers question the science but some may find it too easy to be preoccupied with the abstract scientific issue and its politics and, if we do not know any victims personally, to forget the individuals who have been and are being rolled over by the bandwagon of HIV∫AIDS. Or perhaps some may feel it but simply forget to express it.

Whatever the case surely it is that empathy which is so horrifyingly lacking in Gallo’s remark so aptly quoted by Otis that is all important in the battle to correct the science.

For only those with the imagination and sensitivity to truly feel for those who pay the sometimes horrific human cost of what is arguably one of science’s biggest mistakes will be concerned enough to put their names and reputations on the line to back their doubts, faced as they are with the censoring antagonism of those who lead and exploit the paradigm, and the witless hostility of their footsoldiers.

A guestbook is on the site for all those who contributed and/or wish to sign their names and comment.

Libya: bullets for five nurses and doctor – or pay up

December 19th, 2006


World deplores insanity, unaware of greater AIDS madness

AIDS critics may be in luck – another boost to growing examination of HIV∫AIDS in and out of courts

Drawing the world’s attention and curiosity for the second time, the Libyan court again convicted the five Bulgarian nurses and sentenced them to death by firing squad, along with the Palestinian doctor. The session took all of seven minutes.

Months more entanglement with this legal system, while Libya tries to extract more money than it already has from Bulgaria and the West for their ransom, is now forecast for the unhappy nurses, who have been held and threatened by the society they came to save for eight years now, an experience which has already led to some of them saying that they can’t stand it any more, just get it over with.

Apart from bringing Qaddafi and Libya once more into disrepute, this news, however, may be a gift to HIV∫AIDS critics and the millions they hope to save from largely useless and dangerous AIDS drugs.

In fact we imagine that HIV∫AIDS’s smoothest operator, the renowned Dr Fauci of NIAID, may be frowning at this tsunami of publicity centered on questionable HIV∫AIDS science, much as he probably deplores the politically dim Robert Gallo and John P. Moore for rising to the bait of the Harper’s Celia Farber essay in March on “Out of Control” AIDS science, and the subsequent wasp stings from Harvey Bialy in email exchanges which were subsequently run on Barnesworld, before that changed its name into Hank’s You Bet Your Life.

What could turn up the spotlight on the science of the shaky paradigm more effectively, and lead to more penetrating analysis of the flawed status quo, than this very vivid drama, personalized by the five hapless nurses, and the obviously flawed logic used to convict them? Not much. Maybe John P. Moore‘s conscience stricken suicide jump off the Empire State Building, easily reached from the Cornell Weill Medical College building where he works and runs the misleading AIDSTruth propaganda site.

With this blatant example of non-science accepted by the courts in an Arab country under a strong man, and contradicted by the best scientists in the field across the world (or those that the public supposes to be the best scientists) editorial writers and readers across the globe will have the responsibility of thinking about it briefly for the first time in two decades.

As in the court cases in Australia and in Canada, the issue of whether HIV actually causes AIDS is likely to enter into their thinking if only because it will be raised by outsiders as a possible defense, even if the lawyers don’t run with it as they have in Australia, though not yet Canada as far as we know (for a good update post on the vindictively stupid treatment of Canadian Football League linebacker Trevis Smith for ‘attempting to murder’ women he slept with after an uncertain positive HIV test, read the stunning and nightmarish story at Hanks You Bet Your Life: The Travesty of Canadian Justice and the Trial of Travis Smith, Part II by Shelley McNeil) today (Tue Dec 19).

The paradigm under review in the courts.

Trial by judge and jury in Canada, Australia, Libya and soon the US and other countries, and in the court of world public opinion, may now be the route to unchaining AIDS from HIV. It certainly is liable to focus more public attention on the issue than ever before.

Meanwhile, those who know and study the Libyan politics which will decide the real dispensation of the case say that the Libyans will continue to negotiate for compensation from the Bulgarians and other nations before eventually releasing the group after a Qaddafi pardon.

Ramadan al-Faitore, whose 4-year-old stepsister was among the first to die, predicted earlier this month that the medical workers would be sentenced to death.

“But no one will kill the nurses,” Mr. Faitore said in Paris, echoing a statement made by Col. Qaddafi’s son, Seif, two years ago. “After the trial, negotiations will start again.”

Even if they are finally released perhaps the nurses in their long travail will be counted martyrs to the movement to liberate humanity from the best defended scientific theory extant.

The New York TimesDecember 19, 2006

Libyan Court Upholds Death Sentences

By CRAIG S. SMITH

PARIS, Dec. 19 — A Libyan court again sentenced five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor to be shot by a firing squad for deliberately infecting 400 children with H.I.V., further complicating the country’s efforts to improve relations with the West.

Today’s verdict drew expressions of anger and alarm from Bulgaria and its supporters in the nearly eight-year-old case, which now appears likely to drag on for months more, if not years. Lawyers for the medical workers said they would appeal the sentence to Libya’s Supreme Court.

“We are going to urge the Libyan political leadership to engage in the process,” said Bulgaria’s foreign minister and deputy prime minister, Ivailo Kalfin, from Washington, where he met with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice hours after the verdict was announced.

Mr. Kalfin said that his country was working through the Libyan foreign ministry to ask the Libyan leader, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, and the country’s political institutions to intervene, because Libya’s inefficient and biased judicial system had failed to deal with the case credibly. He called the verdict “absolutely unfounded and unfair.”

The case began in February 1998 when the nurses arrived to work at the Al Fateh Children’s Hospital in Benghazi, the country’s second-largest city. By August 1998, children at the hospital had begun testing positive for H.I.V., the virus that causes AIDS. Health authorities soon realized they had a huge problem.

An official investigation concluded that the infections had been concentrated in the wards where the Bulgarian nurses had been assigned. Dozens of Bulgarian medical workers were arrested, and a videotaped search of one nurse’s apartment turned up vials of H.I.V.-tainted blood.

According to a Libyan intelligence report submitted to the court, the nurse, Kristiyana Vulcheva, later confessed that the vials were given to her by a British friend who was working for the KBR subsidiary of Halliburton at the time. The nurse was quoted in the report as saying that she and her colleagues used the vials to infect the children.

Col. Qaddafi subsequently charged that the health care workers had acted on the orders of the Central Intelligence Agency and Israel’s intelligence agency, Mossad.

KBR is primarily an engineering and construction company, but it undertakes many kinds of contract work for the United States Department of Defense and other agencies, and its activities in Iraq and elsewhere have sometimes been controversial.

A Benghazi court eventually convicted five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor of deliberately injecting the children with the virus. But two of the five nurses said they were tortured into confessing, and international AIDS experts — including Luc Montagnier, the French virologist whose team is among those credited with discovering the H.I.V. virus — concluded that the virus predated the nurses’ arrival and was more likely spread through the use of contaminated needles.

Susannah Sirkin, deputy director of Physicians for Human Rights, an advocacy group, said the convicted medical workers had been “mercilessly scapegoated” by Libya.

“The fact that the true reason, according to all the scientific evidence, for this horrific case of hospital infection is poor hygienic conditions in the hospital that predate the arrival of the nurses is really the tragedy of the case,” Ms. Sirkin said by telephone from her group’s offices in Cambridge, Mass.

She said emotions ran so high among the families of the infected children that in Libya, “the government’s response has been, ‘Let’s blame some foreigners so we don’t have to take the heat.’ “

The medical workers were sentenced to death in May 2004 in a verdict that was widely condemned in the West. That began a period of difficult negotiations among Libya, Bulgaria, the United States and the European Union to find a solution.

Eventually, the four sides announced in December 2005 that they were setting up an international fund to cover medical care and other costs incurred by the families of the H.I.V.-infected children. Libya’s Supreme Court quashed the death sentences two days later and called for a retrial, this time by a court in the capital, Tripoli.

The families have asked that Bulgaria or other donors provide $10 million for each child, the same amount that Libya agreed to pay each of the families of the 270 people who were killed in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988. Libya has accepted responsibility for the bombing.

Under Libyan law, crime victims’ families have the power to grant clemency in return for compensation. The families of the infected children have said that they would agree to release the medical workers from the criminal charges if their request was satisfied.

But only a few million dollars in cash, services and equipment has been donated to the fund so far. Talks over further donations stalled while the second trial was underway — apparently, the Libyan families say, because Bulgaria hoped the new court would acquit the nurses.

In a seven-minute court hearing in Tripoli today, the presiding judge, Mahmoud Hawissa, read out the verdict and sentence in the latest trial.

Bulgarian officials and the defense lawyers for the nurses argue that the latest trial was as flawed as the first.

“The whole court case was compromised, and covers up the real cause that sparked the AIDS epidemics in Benghazi,” said a joint statement issued today by Bulgaria’s president, Georgy Parvanov, and prime minister, Sergey Stanishev.

Emmanuel Altit, a French lawyer in Paris who worked on the defense team, said: “The question of torture by electricity, proof that the nurses had been beaten, sexually harassed, kept for six months without contact, the question of fabricated evidence — none of this was discussed at all. The court refused to hear our experts.”

Amnesty International issued a statement condemned the trial as “grossly unfair.” “We deplore these sentences and urge the Libyan authorities to declare immediately that they will never be carried out,” said Malcolm Smart, the director of Amnesty’s Middle East and North Africa program.

Mr. Smart’s statement raised a number of complaints about the fairness of the trial, and noted that the evidence produced by Libyan medical experts was called questionable by international medical experts.

Warning that the verdict could frighten Western doctors and nurses away from traveling to Africa to help in future health crises, representatives of some charitable organizations expressed hope that it would be set aside and the doctor and nurses allowed to go home.

The European Union’s justice commissioner, Franco Frattini, called on Libyan authorities to rethink their handling of the case, calling it “an obstacle to cooperation with the E.U.” Bulgaria will become a member of the union on Jan. 1.

Official American reaction to the case has been muted, in part, some diplomats suggested, because the United States is trying to improve its relations with Libya on other fronts. Still, Tony Snow, the White House spokesman, said today that the administration was “disappointed with the verdict,” and that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice assured Mr. Kalfin that the United States would continue working for the nurses’ “early return to Bulgaria.”

Outside the Libyan court, families of the children, about 50 of whom have since died, rallied today to call for the sentence to be carried out immediately, news agencies reported.

But for the Libyans who believe the nurses are guilty, the verdict was a foregone conclusion, even if their execution is not.

Ramadan al-Faitore, whose 4-year-old stepsister was among the first to die, predicted earlier this month that the medical workers would be sentenced to death.

“But no one will kill the nurses,” Mr. Faitore said in Paris, echoing a statement made by Col. Qaddafi’s son, Seif, two years ago. “After the trial, negotiations will start again.”

Mr. Kalfin, the Bulgarian foreign minister, said today that his country was committed to the making sure that the fund would “provide lifelong medical treatment for the children, and create conditions that would prevent this from ever happening again.”

But he bristled at the suggestion that Bulgaria would pay “blood money” for the release of the nurses, calling such talk “cynical.”

“We feel a great deal of sympathy for the children and the families,” Mr. Kalfin said. “But making a linkage between this tragedy and the work of the Bulgarian nurses has absolutely no foundation.”

Standing in a muddy field across the street from the Libyan Embassy in Sofia, Zorka Anachkova, Ms. Vulcheva’s mother, said she wasn’t surprised by the verdict.

“What kind of negotiations can you have for innocent people?” she asked. “All the evidence proves their innocence. Their innocence is axiomatic. What else is there to talk about?”

Contributing reporting for this article were Matthew Brunwasser from Sofia, Brian Knowlton from Washington and Christine Hauser from New York.

Libyan cliffhanger: verdict today

December 19th, 2006


The decision is due

Madness blossoms like a devilish flower

The Libyan court case is marked by agitation in the street by families calling for a guilty verdict, Bulgarian press kept out of the court, etc. as the following Sofia news agency Novinite report tells (3.30 am New York time).

Bulgaria is against the reparations demanded, saying it would be an admission of guilt.

Lawyer Osman Bizanti was attacked on the way entering a Libyan court minutes ahead of the start of a session expected to announce the verdicts on five Bulgarian medics.Darik News reported the situation both inside and outside the courtroom is extremely tense, which has called for massive police presence in the area.

All 11 Bulgarian journalists are still staying outside the court after Libyan authorities tried to bargain that only few of them enter the building.

“We firmly opposed and insist that all must attend the hearing; moreover, there are some 30 arab media already inside,” Zheni Marcheva from Darik News reported.

Bulgarian Ambassador to Libya Alexander Olshevski is expect to attend the court hearing, along with a number of other foreign diplomats.

Bulgaria’s Deputy Foreign Minister Feim Chaushev, who landed surprisingly on Libyan soil, will follow the court proceedings at the Embassy.

Our optimistic prediction:

Qaddafi won’t dare to flout international opinion on this one. The nurses and doctor will go free, appear on Larry King and write a best seller.

In all the attention and examination their story will attract, the science of HIV∫AIDS will finally be exposed for the pretense it is.

Ultimate result: Luc Montagnier and Peter Duesberg will share the Nobel Peace prize for saving the world from HIV∫AIDS think.

Focus News Agency report:

Libyan Supreme Court Expected to Announce Sentences of the Bulgarian nurses19 December 2006 | 08:03 | FOCUS News Agency

Sofia. Today the Libyan Supreme Court is expected to announce the sentences of the Bulgarian nurses, who have been in Libya since 1999.

The nurses Kristiana Valcheva, Nasya Nenova, Valentina Siropulo, Valya Chervenyashka and Snezhana Dimitrova and Dr. Zdravko Georgiev were charged with deliberately infecting 393 Libyan children with HIV in a Libyan hospital. The evidence is claimed to be the confessions of Kristiana and Valya – confessions, they later said were extracted by torture.

After multiple delays of the case and bringing it back to retrial, the Libyan court sentenced the Bulgarian nurses and one Palestinain doctor to death by firing squad. Dr. Zdravko Georgiev was sentenced to 4 years imprisonment. He was released because the time, passed since his detention, exceeded his sentence.

The appeal of the death sentences was launched days after the sentence was announced.

On December 25th 2005 the Supreme Court of Cassation cancelled the death sentences of the five Bulgarian nurses and brought the case back for retrial.

An International Fund for assistance to families of HIV-infected children is created in Tripoli.

The prosecution requested confirmation of the death sentences on 29 August.

The opinion of world-famous medical experts and the International community were left unheard.

Following is a chronology of key events in the case. (Source: Reuters)

Feb 1999 – Nineteen Bulgarian medical workers in Libya detained in connection with investigation into how children in a hospital in the eastern town of Benghazi became infected with the HIV virus that causes AIDS. Thirteen are later freed.

Feb 2000 – Trial of six Bulgarians – five female nurses and a male doctor – and a Palestinian doctor and nine Libyans opens at Tripoli People’s Court. They are accused of deliberately infecting hundreds of Libyan children with HIV-contaminated blood products as part of conspiracy by foreign intelligence to undermine Libya. Libyan defendants are charged with negligence.

June 2, 2001 – Defendants plead not guilty. Two Bulgarian nurses retract confessions, alleging they were tortured. Libya denies this.

Feb 17, 2002 – People’s Court, which tries national security cases, returns trial to ordinary court citing insufficient evidence that defendants acted against Libyan security.

Sept 3, 2003 – French doctor Luc Montagnier, who first detected the HIV virus, testifies the epidemic broke out a year before the arrival of the Bulgarians.

Sept 8 – Libyan prosecutors demand death sentences for the six Bulgarians and Palestinian accused. They demand nine Libyan officers charged with torturing the medics be tried separately.

May 6, 2004 – Libyan court sentences five Bulgarian nurses and the Palestinian doctor to death for deliberately infecting 426 children. The Bulgarian doctor is acquitted. The nine Libyans are acquitted. Torture charges against the Libyan officers are transferred to a Tripoli court. Bulgaria, the European Union and the United States condemn the death sentences as “absurd”.

Dec 5 – Libyan Foreign Minister Mohammed Abdel-Rahman Shalgam says will discuss overturning sentences if Bulgaria offers compensation. Bulgaria refuses, saying that would be an admission of guilt.

May 28, 2005 – Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov, visiting Libya, meets children with HIV in Benghazi and the nurses in a Tripoli prison.

June 7 – A Tripoli court acquits nine Libyan policemen and a doctor of torturing the nurses.

Oct 17 – U.S. President George W. Bush urges Libya to free the medics.

Dec 19 – Supreme Court brings forward its appeal hearing to Dec. 25.

Dec 23 – Bulgaria, Libya, the EU and the United States agree to set up fund to help to the Libyan children and their families.

Dec 25 – Libya’s Supreme Court scraps death sentences against the nurses and the Palestinian doctor, sends the case back to a lower court for retrial.

Jan 21, 2006 – Families demand total of 4.4 billion euros ($5.6 billion) from donors trying to end the standoff.

April 22, 2006 – Libya court sets May 11 date for retrial.

April 28 – U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says the Bulgarian nurses have been detained for too long.

July 4 – Defendants again deny charges.

Aug 8 – AIDS outbreak was deliberate, prosecution says.

Aug 29- Prosecutor demands death penalty.

Oct 31 – Neglect caused HIV infections, the defence says.

Nov 4 – Judgement day set for Dec 19.

Bulgarian Journalists Entering Courtroom in Tripoli

19 December 2006 | 11:00 | FOCUS News Agency

Libyan Defender of Bulgarian Nurses Enters Courtroom Frustrated

19 December 2006 | 10:19 | FOCUS News Agency

None of Bulgarian Journalists Will Attend Court Session on Libyan AIDS Case in Tripoli as a Sing of Protest

19 December 2006 | 09:40 | FOCUS News Agency

Libya Today: Idris Aga and Libyan Scientists Call a Press Conference in London

19 December 2006 | 08:32 | FOCUS News Agency

Nurses in Libya Will Hear for the Third Time Decision of Libyan Court

19 December 2006 | 08:24 | FOCUS News Agency

Libyan Supreme Court Expected to Announce Sentences of the Bulgarian nurses

19 December 2006 | 08:03 | FOCUS News Agency

At Stake In Libyan HIV Trial: EU Relations

19 December 2006 | 03:20 | FOCUS News Agency

Circumcision cuts African AIDS! – Times

December 15th, 2006


Editors excited about way for heterosexuals to evade HIV

Millions will want the $20 operation, major funds ready to give – but is Padian so wrong?

Precisely why the editors of the Times made the HIV-circumcision story the top story on their Web front page and top right hand above the fold print edition front page headline yesterday is a matter of speculation, but we assume it is because the story involves a) heterosexuals b) African sex c) danger to the genitals d) a simple but effective solution to AIDS and e) women’s revenge (photo, left, is of a Somali woman parading against Ethiopia with an AK-47).

Not to mention it allows readers to indulge their envious prejudice, which the Times editors and reporters like to reinforce monthly, against Africans for supposed sexual excesses.

Nelson Mandela’s autobiography, “Long Walk to Freedom,” contains an unnerving but hilarious account of his own Xhosa circumcision, by spear blade, as a teenager. Although he was supposed to shout, “I am a man!” he grimaced in pain, he wrote…Dr. Mark Dybul, executive director of President Bush’s $15 billion Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, said in a statement that his agency “will support implementation of safe medical male circumcision for H.I.V./AIDS prevention” if world health agencies recommend it…

AIDS experts immediately hailed the finding. “This is very exciting news,” said Daniel Halperin, an H.I.V. specialist at the Harvard Center for Population and Development, who has argued that circumcision slows the spread of AIDS in the parts of Africa where it is common.

In an interview from Zimbabwe, he added, “I have no doubt that as word of this gets around, millions of African men will want to get circumcised, and that will save many lives.”

The Times editors are so excited about this revelation (a questionable result which has been around for some time) that they devoted an editorial to it as well, Rare Good News About AIDS comparing it to “the holy grail” of AIDS research, the long heralded but still AWOL vaccine:

For years, the holy grail of AIDS prevention has been a vaccine, even one that is only 50 to 60 percent effective. A real vaccine is years away. But as of yesterday, we know its near equivalent exists. International donors and governments should join together to spread the good news about circumcision and make the procedure available everywhere.

The New York Times

Printer Friendly Format Sponsored By

December 14, 2006

Editorial

Rare Good News About AIDS

The announcement yesterday about the results in two African studies of male circumcision may be the most important development in AIDS research since the debut of antiretroviral drugs more than a decade ago. The National Institutes of Health halted studies in Uganda and Kenya when it became overwhelmingly clear that circumcision significantly reduces men’s chances of catching H.I.V.

The studies recruited men willing to be circumcised and randomly assigned them to immediate surgery or to a control group. In both studies, the circumcised men acquired half the number of H.I.V. infections as their uncircumcised counterparts did. The studies confirm the results of a trial that ended last year in South Africa, in which circumcision prevented 60 to 70 percent of new AIDS infections.

Until now, efforts at AIDS prevention have largely failed. Little wonder. It requires people to resolve — every day — either not to have sex or to use condoms. Circumcision, by contrast, is a one-time procedure. It is familiar and widely accepted all over the world, even by groups who do not practice it. And safe circumcision does not require a doctor. Community workers and traditional healers can be trained to do the operation safely and given the correct tools.

Based on the South African results, groups like the United Nations AIDS program and the World Health Organization were already discussing how they might promote circumcision in countries around the world. They should now move as quickly as possible.

Governments and international donors should also work urgently to provide new financing to help high-risk countries train community workers to do safe circumcision. News of the South African results has already led to a surge in demand for the procedure across Africa, and clinics that now offer it have long waiting lists.

Any campaign will have to be coupled with warnings that circumcision offers only partial protection against H.I.V. and should not become a license for risky sex. Governments must continue to promote condoms and partner reduction.

For years, the holy grail of AIDS prevention has been a vaccine, even one that is only 50 to 60 percent effective. A real vaccine is years away. But as of yesterday, we know its near equivalent exists. International donors and governments should join together to spread the good news about circumcision and make the procedure available everywhere.

Even if one is not a dissenter from the holey (as in Swiss cheese) HIV∫AIDS paradigm, this initiative looks fat headed. Soap would achieve the same result, any doctor will tell you. And do we really need to do unaesthetic surgery on millions of Africans to prevent the transmission of a virus which after billions of dollars worth of research has not yet been proved to cause any harm, although that assumption is built into most of the thinking on the subject? Are trainloads of foreskins going to be useful for interferon or other immune factors, is that it?

Anyhow, as far as HIV∫AIDS science critics are concerned, circumcision is a non solution to a non problem, ever since Nancy Padian demonstrated in her landmark 1997 study the heterosexual non transmission of HIV.

Of course, Padian has had to ‘clarify’ this result since it was noticed and taken up by HIV∫AIDS dissidents and used as a club to bash the paradigm and its defenders, one which knocks away the basic prop of the global pandemic. Without significant heterosexual transmission, there is no global pandemic and no need to circumcise millions of Africans.

Padian’s clarification was published a few months ago on the leading AIDS truthiness site run by John P. Moore of Cornell and other HIV apologists, AIDSTruth.org, the specific page being HIV heterosexual transmission and the “Padian paper myth”,and it reads as follows, with our corrective comments:

HIV heterosexual transmission and the “Padian paper myth”One of the more egregious myths perpetrated by AIDS denialists is that HIV is not heterosexually transmitted.

The debate on the validity of the HIV∫AIDS paradigm is a hall of mirrors, where the defense of the paradigm is very often conducted by co-opting the arguments of the critics and turning them back on their originators (who do the same to them, rather more tellingly, by pointing out that it is the paradigm defenders who are the true “denialists”, for their ostrich like approach to the myriad objections to HIV∫AIDS).

In this case, the word “myth” as in “The AIDS Myth” or “The Myth of Heterosexual AIDS” is appropriated, but rather ineffectively, since it inevitably calls attention to the possibility that the HV∫AIDS paradigm itself may be the greatest myth of all in the field.

Part of the “evidence” that underlies this myth is a 1997 paper by Dr. Nancy Padian and her colleagues at the University of California, San Francisco (Padian NS, Shiboski SC, Glass SO, Vittinghoff E. 1997. Heterosexual transmission of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in Northern California: results from a ten-year study. Am J Epidemiol 146, 350-357) (1).

A thorn in the flesh of the paradigm apologists indeed, this study, for its results accounted for the biggest flaw in the HIV∫AIDS explanation for the outbreak of immune deficiency in the US, which is that it cannot explain away the absence of a heterosexual AIDS epidemic in this country, and moreover, it is a study which is now a prime justification for rejecting the standard interpretation of events in Africa, which is that a heterosexually transmitted HIV pandemic has swept the continent and the world.

The denialists either misinterpret or misunderstand this paper. Some internet sites/Blogs even go so far as to suggest that the “HIV/AIDS establishment” (sic) finds Dr. Padian’s work inconvenient and has suppressed it, to the detriment of her professional career.

On the contrary, the skill with which Dr Padian has navigated between the Scylla of the establishment disowning her and her research and the Charybdis of renouncing it herself is a marvel to behold and an inspiration for the many other establishment researchers who have come out with embarrassing results which contradict the paradigm, such as those who came out wih the HAART and the JAMA studies this summer, and Dr Gisselquist.

The following commentary from Dr. Padian addresses HIV heterosexual transmission, discusses what her seminal 1997 paper does actually say and, ipso facto, speaks to the absurdity of the notion that her work has been suppressed, or is inconvenient to other AIDS researchers.Heterosexual transmission of HIV

Nancy Padian, PhD

University of California, San Francisco

HIV is unquestionably transmitted through heterosexual intercourse.

This kind of statement is increasingly a characteristic of HIV∫AIDS papers which these days typically come up with findings which do not fit into conventional wisdom. First, there is this kind of obligatory obeisance to the reigning belief, the sine qua non of HIV∫AIDS research, which is that all symptoms are first and foremost caused by the dread Virus itself, however much other factors may enter into the picture. For example, patients may die of drug effects such as liver rot, but HIV is really the cause, even though liver problems are not on the CDC list of HIV∫AIDS symptoms.

Indeed, heterosexual intercourse is now responsible for 70-80% of all HIV transmissions worldwide (2). The current likelihood of male to female infection after a single exposure to HIV is 0.01-0.32% (2, 3), and the current likelihood of female to male infection after a single exposure is 0.01-0.1% (2). These estimates are mostly derived from studies in the developed world. However, a man or a woman can become HIV-positive after just one sexual contact.

Rates of between 1 in 10,000 to 1 in 3,000 , or between 1 in 10,000 and 1 in 1,000 for woman to man, are not high enough to sustain a spreading epidemic.

In developing countries, particularly those in sub-Saharan Africa, several factors (co-infection with other sexually transmitted diseases, circumcision practices, poor acceptance of condoms, patterns of sexual partner selection, locally circulating viral subtypes, high viral loads among those who are infected, etc.) can increase the likelihood of heterosexual transmission to 20% or even higher (4).

These factors might raise the transmission rate but to a level of 2000 per 10,000 – ie 2,000 times as much – is unlikely, on the face of it.

Evidence that specifically documents the heterosexual transmission of HIV comes from studies of HIV-discordant couples (i.e., couples in a stable, monogamous relationship where one partner is infected and the other is not); over time, HIV transmission occurs (5).

Not in this study.

Other studies have traced the transmission of HIV through networks of sexual partners (6-9). Additional evidence comes from intervention studies that, for example, promote condom use or encourage reductions in the numbers of sexual partners: the documented success of these interventions is because they prevent the sexual transmission of HIV (1,10,11).

Such results are inconsistent wth her study which was the largest ever conducted.

In short, the evidence for the sexual transmission of HIV is well documented, conclusive, and based on the standard, uncontroversial methods and practices of medical science. Individuals who cite the 1997 Padian et al. publication (1) or data from other studies by our research group in an attempt to substantiate the myth that HIV is not transmitted sexually are ill informed, at best. Their misuse of these results is misleading, irresponsible, and potentially injurious to the public.

The intemperate language suggests a political and emotionally driven stance, and that an unproven belief (that HIV is the cause of AIDS) is acting as a premise in addressing the counterarguments. Here Padian is protesting that her study does not suggest that the paradigm is incorrect. Methinks she doth protest too much. The reason is that her results are in direct conflict with the paradigm. Substantial heterosexual transmission is a pillar of the HIV∫AIDS paradigm, a sine qua non of the supposed global panademic. Her study demonstrated it was so insubstantial that it didn’t appear at all.

A common practice is to quote out of context a sentence from the Abstract of the 1997 paper: “Infectivity for HIV through heterosexual transmission is low”. Anyone who takes the trouble to read and understand the paper should appreciate that it reports on a study of behavioral interventions such as those mentioned above: Specifically, discordant couples were strongly counseled to use condoms and practice safe sex (1,12).

As many as 47 couples did not consistently use condoms or any other means of interfering with transmission for up to six years.

That we witnessed no HIV transmissions after the intervention documents the success of the interventions in preventing the sexual transmission of HIV.

Again, as many as 47 couples did not consistently use condoms or any other means of interfering with transmission for up to six years.

The sentence in the Abstract reflects this success — nothing more, nothing less. Any attempt to refer to this or other of our publications and studies to bolster the fallacy that HIV is not transmitted heterosexually or homosexually is a gross misrepresentation of the facts and a travesty of the research that I have been involved in for more than a decade.

To say “Nothing more, nothing less” is blatantly misleading, and we suspect his was written by John P. Moore, rather than Padian. In fact as many as 47 couples did not use condoms or any other means of interfering with transmission. Yet still for these couples there was no transmission during the study. This without question demonstrated the “fallacy” in heterosexual transmission. There was none for these couple in six years.

If safe sex practices are followed, and if there are no complicating factors such as those mentioned above, the risk of HIV transmission can be as low as our studies suggest…IF.

Of course, this is presumably true. Using condoms does block transmission of any live organism pretty effectively, depending on using them properly. But the problem is that her study showed that even if safe sex practices were not followed there was also nil transmission.

But many people misunderstand probability: they think that if the chance of misfortune is one in six, that they can take five chances without the likelihood of injury. This “Russian Roulette” misapprehension is dangerous to themselves and to others.

The Russian Roulette factor only means that an individual can escape the average, and possibly, even if the chance of an event is 1 in 1000, hit the 1 time the first time, or the 1000th time, or never. This doesn’t change the average, which in this case was nil, a rather conclusive result which shows the chances of transmission of the supposed agent are far too low to initiate any epidemic, since according to her study, normal healthy heterosexuals are virtually incapable of transmitting HIV even if they are not taking any precautions.

Furthermore, complicating factors are often not evident or obvious in a relationship, so their perceived absence should not be counted on as an excuse not to practice safe sex.

The phrasing of this remark is telling. Although it is on the surface merely a practical observation, it continues the fundamental defense of the paradigm in religious terms ie have faith (and fear) that there is something there even though you cannot see any evidence for it.

Finally, it is a complete fallacy to allege or insinuate that this work has been “suppressed” or “ignored” by the AIDS community or unsupported by UCSF or any other institution with which I have worked. To the contrary, these findings have been seen as central and seminal to the problem of heterosexual transmission rates and the development of interventions to lower the rate of transmission and infection worldwide, many of which are being conducted by my research group. The success of my working group has been fueled, not hindered, by our research on the heterosexual transmission of HIV, attested to by our long record of peer-reviewed publications.

Yes, the record of Padian’s work as fundamentally disruptive to the conventional wisdom in HIV∫AIDS yet somehow turned into a piece which fits into it without a ripple is a prime exhibit of how HIV∫AIDS’s double think, Orwellian fantasy works. While the embarrassing inconsistency of her results is recognized and various escape hatches are opened – genital sores, African “dry sex”, HIV piggy backing on other diseases and so on – Nancy Padian has managed to stay a member of the club despite her study being the best argument of all against belief in the paradigm.

Nancy Padian is a Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences at the University of California and she has worked on the heterosexual transmission of HIV since 1984. She is a frequent participant in annual NIH Office of AIDS Research planning workshops and has chaired the workshop on international research for the last four years. She is an elected member to the Institute of Medicine and the American Epidemiology Society. She served as vice-chair of the University of California task force on AIDS and currently directs international research for UCSF Global Health Sciences, the UCSF AIDS Research Institute and she is co-director of the Center for Reproductive Health Research and Policy.

An impressive list of appointments which is a tribute to the political skills of Dr Padian and the way she has exchanged reinterpretation of her results to conform with the paradigm for membership of the club, a club which like the English aristocracy knows that the best way to defeat revolutionaries is to bring them in from the cold.

Unkind cut would save very few

Going back to look at the paper, we find something interesting – the numbers involved in this great halving of the risk are very small fractions of the population.

The two trials were being conducted by researchers from universities in Illinois, Maryland, Canada, Uganda and Kenya and involved nearly 3 000 heterosexual men in Kisumu, Kenya and nearly 5 000 in Rakai, Uganda. None were infected with HIV. They were divided into circumcised and uncircumcised groups, given safe sex advice [although many presumably did not take it] and retested regularly.The trials were stopped this week by the NIH Data Safety and Monitoring Board after data showed that the Kenyan men had a 53 percent reduction in new HIV infection.

Twenty-two of the 1 393 circumcised men in that study caught the disease, compared with 47 of the 1 391 uncircumcised men. In Uganda, the reduction was 48 percent.

Even if the figures for transmission reached somehow in this and other studies are valid, and HIV is a threat backed by the literature, instead of being called into question by even paradigm-based papers without valid rebuttal, mass circumcision seems an overreaction.

For example, in the two trials, the trumpeted halving of the rate of new HIV infection was 53 per cent in Kenya and 48 per cent in Uganda, which sounds good but in fact represented only 25 men in 1393 total saved from HIV, a reduction of less thn 2%.

Of course, the remaining question is how accurate was the testing and what did it represent if the difficulty in transmission is as high as Nancy Padian found it was in her study? Presumably the tests are cross reacting with other transmissible diseases, the most likely one being TB, which is very widespread in Africa.

Nancy Padian Hero of AIDS

Encounterimg her at the party following the HIV/NET trials conference in Washington this last spring, we congratulated Nancy Padian on her outstanding research, which had made her a hero of AIDS in our view. “Oh I don’t think I am that!” she demurred, “Why do you say so?”

We explained it was because she had been the first to demonstrate that HIV did not transmit heterosexually very significantly if at all.

She seemed taken aback, and after gathering her wits, pronounced feebly, “But it transmits more in Africa!”

Could it be that Dr Padian has a special interest in emphasizing heterosexual transmission in favor of her own strategy in combating HIV transmission in Africa?

Surely not. But in 2002 she won the largest single private grant ever made to UCSF, $28 million, from the Gates Foundation, “to examine the effectiveness of the diaphragm in slowing the spread of the AIDS virus.”

Director of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s HIV/AIDS and TB Program at the time was Helene Gayle, who said “finding additional barrier methods that are female-controlled is a public health priority.”

Not, of course, if heterosexual transmission without any barrier is virtually absent.

Padian’s references:

1. Padian NS, Shiboski SC, Glass SO, Vittinghoff E. Heterosexual transmission of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in Northern California: results from a ten-year study. Am J Epidemiol 1997;146:350-7.

2. Downs AM, De Vincenzi I. Probability of heterosexual transmission of HIV: relationship to the number of unprotected sexual contacts. European Study Group in Heterosexual Transmission of HIV. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr Hum Retrovirol. 1996 Apr 1;11(4):388-95.

3. Wiley JA, Herschhkorn SJ, Padian NS. Heterogeneity in the probability of HIV transmission per sexual contact: the case of male-to-female transmission in penile-vaginal intercourse. Stat Med 1989;8:93-102.

4. Gray RH, Wawer MJ, Brookmeyer R, Sewankambo NK, Serwadda D, Wabwire-Mangen F, Lutalo T, Li X, vanCott T, Quinn TC; Rakai Project Team. Probability of HIV-1 transmission per coital act in monogamous, heterosexual, HIV-1-discordant couples in Rakai, Uganda. Lancet. 2001 Apr 14;357(9263):1149-53.

5. Ellerbock TV, Lieb S, Harrington PE, et al. Heterosexually transmitted human immunodeficiency virus infection among pregnant women in a rural Florida community. N Engl J Med 1992;327:1704-9.

6. Hunter DJ. AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa: the epidemiology of heterosexual transmission and the prospects for prevention. Epidemiology. 1993 Jan;4(1):63-72. Review.

7. Venkataramana CB, Sarada PV. Extent and speed of spread of HIV infection in India through the commercial sex networks: a perspective. Trop Med Int Health. 2001 Dec;6(12):1040-61.

8. Adimora AA, Schoenbach VJ, Doherty IA. HIV and African Americans in the southern United States: sexual networks and social context. Sex Transm Dis. 2006 Jul;33(7 Suppl):S39-45.

9. Latora V, Nyamba A, Simpore J, Sylvette B, Diane S, Sylvere B, Musumeci S. Network of sexual contacts and sexually transmitted HIV infection in Burkina Faso. J Med Virol. 2006 Jun;78(6):724-9.

10. Ghys PD, Diallo MO, Ettiegne-Traore V, Kale K, Tawil O, Carael M, et al. Increase in condom use and decline in HIV and sexually transmitted diseases among female sex workers in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, 1991-1998. AIDS 2002;16(2):251-58.

11. Katzenstein DA, McFarland W, Mbizo M, Latif AS, Machekano R, Parsonnet J, et al. Peer education among factory workers in Zimbabwe: providing a sustainable HIV prevention intervention. Paper presented at the 12th International Conference on AIDS, Geneva, June 28-July 3, 1998.

12. Padian NS, O’Brien TR, Chang Y, Glass S, Francis DP. Prevention of heterosexual transmission of human immunodeficiency virus through couple counseling. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 1993 Sep;6(9):1043-8

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The New York Times December 14, 2006 Circumcision Halves H.I.V. Risk, U.S. Agency Finds By Donald G. McNeil Jr., who is a reliable conduit at the Times for all official pronouncements on HIV∫AIDS, SARS, Bird Flu, and similar alarms.

The New York Times

December 14, 2006

Circumcision Halves H.I.V. Risk, U.S. Agency Finds

By DONALD G. McNEIL Jr.

Circumcision appears to reduce a man’s risk of contracting AIDS from heterosexual sex by half, United States government health officials said yesterday, and the directors of the two largest funds for fighting the disease said they would consider paying for circumcisions in high-risk countries.

The announcement was made by officials of the National Institutes of Health as they halted two clinical trials, in Kenya and Uganda, on the ground that not offering circumcision to all the men taking part would be unethical. The success of the trials confirmed a study done last year in South Africa.

AIDS experts immediately hailed the finding. “This is very exciting news,” said Daniel Halperin, an H.I.V. specialist at the Harvard Center for Population and Development, who has argued that circumcision slows the spread of AIDS in the parts of Africa where it is common.

In an interview from Zimbabwe, he added, “I have no doubt that as word of this gets around, millions of African men will want to get circumcised, and that will save many lives.”

Uncircumcised men are thought to be more susceptible because the underside of the foreskin is rich in Langerhans cells, sentinel cells of the immune system, which attach easily to the human immunodeficiency virus, which causes AIDS. The foreskin also often suffers small tears during intercourse.

But experts also cautioned that circumcision is no cure-all. It only lessens the chances that a man will catch the virus; it is expensive compared to condoms, abstinence or other methods; and the surgery has serious risks if performed by folk healers using dirty blades, as often happens in rural Africa.

Circumcision is “not a magic bullet, but a potentially important intervention,” said Dr. Kevin M. De Cock, director of H.I.V./AIDS for the World Health Organization.

Sex education messages for young men need to make it clear that “this does not mean that you have an absolute protection,” said Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, an AIDS researcher and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Circumcision should be used with other prevention methods, he said, and it does nothing to prevent spread by anal sex or drug injection, ways in which the virus commonly spreads in the United States.

The two trials, conducted by researchers from universities in Illinois, Maryland, Canada, Uganda and Kenya, involved nearly 3,000 heterosexual men in Kisumu, Kenya, and nearly 5,000 in Rakai, Uganda. None were infected with H.I.V. They were divided into circumcised and uncircumcised groups, given safe sex advice (although many presumably did not take it), and retested regularly.

The trials were stopped this week by the N.I.H. Data Safety and Monitoring Board after data showed that the Kenyan men had a 53 percent reduction in new H.I.V. infection. Twenty-two of the 1,393 circumcised men in that study caught the disease, compared with 47 of the 1,391 uncircumcised men.

In Uganda, the reduction was 48 percent.

Those results echo the finding of a trial completed last year in Orange Farm, a township in South Africa, financed by the French government, which demonstrated a reduction of 60 percent among circumcised men.

The two largest agencies dedicated to fighting AIDS said they would now be willing to pay for circumcisions, which they have not before because there was too little evidence that it worked.

Dr. Richard G. A. Feachem, executive director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, which has almost $5 billion in pledges, said in a television interview that if a country submitted plans to conduct sterile circumcisions, “I think it’s very likely that our technical panel would approve it.”

Dr. Mark Dybul, executive director of President Bush’s $15 billion Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, said in a statement that his agency “will support implementation of safe medical male circumcision for H.I.V./AIDS prevention” if world health agencies recommend it.

He also warned that it was only one new weapon in the fight, adding, “Prevention efforts must reinforce the A.B.C. approach — abstain, be faithful, and correct and consistent use of condoms.”

Researchers have long noted that parts of Africa where circumcision is common — particularly the Muslim countries of West Africa — have much lower AIDS rates, while those in southern Africa, where circumcision is rare, have the highest.

But drawing conclusions was always confounded by other regional factors, like strict Shariah law in some Muslim areas, rape and genocide in East Africa, polygamy, rites that require widows to have sex with a relative, patronage of prostitutes by miners, and men’s insistence on dangerous “dry sex” — with the woman’s vaginal walls robbed of secretions with desiccating herbs.

Outside Muslim regions, circumcision is spotty. In South Africa, for example, the Xhosa people circumcise teenage boys, while Zulus do not. AIDS is common in both tribes.

Nelson Mandela’s autobiography, “Long Walk to Freedom,” contains an unnerving but hilarious account of his own Xhosa circumcision, by spear blade, as a teenager. Although he was supposed to shout, “I am a man!” he grimaced in pain, he wrote.

But not all initiation ceremonies are laughing matters. Every year, some South African teenagers die from infections, and the use of one blade on many young men may help spread AIDS.

In recent years, as word has spread that circumcision might be protective, many southern African men have sought it out. A Zambian hospital offered $3 circumcisions last year, and Swaziland trained 60 doctors to do them for $40 after waiting lists at its national hospital grew.

“Private practitioners also do it,” Dr. Halperin said. “In some places, it’s $20; in others, much more. Lots of the wealthy elite have already done it. It prevents S.T.D.’s, it’s seen as cleaner, sex is better, women like it. I predict that a lot of men who can’t afford private clinics will start clamoring for it.” (S.T.D.’s are sexually transmitted diseases.)

Male circumcision also benefits women. For example, a study of the medical records of 300 Ugandan couples last year estimated that circumcised men infected with H.I.V. were about 30 percent less likely to transmit it to their female partners.

Earlier studies on Western men have shown that circumcision significantly reduces the rate at which men infect women with the virus that causes cervical cancer. A study published in 2002 in The New England Journal of Medicine found that uncircumcised men were about three times as likely as circumcised ones with a similar number of sexual partners to carry the human papillomavirus.

The suspected mechanism was the same — cells on the inside of the foreskin were also more susceptible to that virus, which is not closely related to H.I.V.

Condemned Libyan nurses cleared in Nature

December 8th, 2006


Their fate still in balance, but top scientists show children infected earlier through poor hygiene

Might outside Nobel reviewers reject HIV itself?

From the point of view of an HIV∫AIDS dissenter debunker denialist skeptic cynic heretic critic (a troublemaking type of which we would certainly thoroughly disapprove, if we were not forced to agree with these black sheep in science when they challenge the claim that HIV causes immune problems, since the literature backs them up in every respect we have checked) the developments in the Libyan Attempted Baby Murder by HIV court case get curiouser and curiouser.

The case is a cliffhanger. Will the court condemn the Egyptian doctor and five nurses for purposely infecting hundreds of babies with HIV and hepatitis, or will it see reason and abandon this superstitious witchhunt in favor of admitting that the Benghazi hospital practiced poor hygiene?

A retrial of the six health workers ended in Tripoli last month. The prosecutor demanded the death penalty after five Libyan experts in H.I.V. and AIDS stood by their 61-page report, written in 2003, that found that the infections of the Libyan children had resulted from an intentional act.A Libyan court is expected to deliver a verdict on Dec. 19.

The six medical workers, who have protested their innocence and said their confessions were made under torture, arrived in Libya in March 1998. They have been detained since 1999.

Which way it goes has wider ramifications than some people may realize. If Quaddafi does finally step in and tell the court to back off when it renders a verdict on December 19, and let the group go free after seven years in the Libyan prison system, not renowned for its pleasant conditions, this will be a triumph for science and common sense.

Or will it? Judging from the sketchy reports of the BBC and Reuters, the knights of science have shown that the viruses in the babes are all too old a vintage to have arrived after the Bulgarians came to help out in the hospital, so they could not have been responsible for the mini epidemic.

A team of international scientists who reconstructed the history of the virus from samples from the Libyan children has shown that a subtype of H.I.V. began infecting patients at Al Fateh Children’s Hospital in Benghazi before the foreign medical team arrived.“The evidence shows the chain of infection started a few years before the arrival of the foreign staff accused of causing it deliberately,” Dr. Tulio de Oliveira, a molecular virologist at Oxford University, said in an interview.

This makes sense even to HIV∫AIDS critics who don’t believe HIV causes any problem to babes anyway. ounds as if the Libyans will have to back down, at least if Quaddafi reads Nature.

But what will be the outcome of the Libyan affair, if this happy ending is achieved? If justice is served the nurses and the Egyptian will be compensated for the six year prison term already served. But something else is going to happen: HIV science will be made to look more expert and correct than ever.

That is, unless the same calibre of scientist decided to join in a similar review commission for HIV∫AIDS. Then, perhaps, the same conclusion might be reached, that the many thousands of pages of HIV∫AIDS papers which have so far failed to demonstrate any good reason to suppose that HIV causes AIDS, and forty three reasons why not, are based on “supposition” and “conjecture”:

There has been mounting international pressure on Libya to hear independent scientific evidence.International experts say the scientific report used in the trial was nothing but ‘conjecture’ and ‘supposition’.

Last month 114 Nobel Laureates wrote an open letter to Colonel Gaddafi urging the appropriate authorities to hear independent science-based evidence, and reaffirming the need for a fair trial.

Perhaps 114 Nobel laureates can be assembled to write to Dr Anthony Fauci to urge that an independent review commission be appointed. They would have to be drawn from other fields, since scientists in the field appear to have a religious conviction that HIV causes AIDS even in the absence of confirming evidence, other than data collected and analyzed on that very assumption.

With one already in the bag, Kary Mullis, the inventor of PCR, a breakthrough which has saved well over a hundred lives by springing innocent convicts from prison, it seems possible that Walter Gilbert might revisit his earlier public uncertainty that HIV was the right answer. Now that he has presumably got to know Jim Watson well by working at Cold Spring Harbor, perhaps the two of them can discuss the matter and decide to reopen the case.

That would leave 111 to go, but once these names are on the page it seems that a counter Durban Declaration could get going, and perhaps even rapidly build and complete once other scientists take a second look and muster their courage to sign, even though Dr Fauci would object strenuously to this “dangerous” line of thinking.

If the nurses are executed, there will be a strong parallel with the behavior of the NIAID in condemning millions to the idea that HIV is the cause of AIDS illnesses around the word, without review. In the latter case, the number of lives past and present at stake in the case of HIV vs Debunkers amount to at least 65 million and going strong. 25 million are dead, hundreds of thousand in this country from what debunkers insist is mismedication aimed at HIV.

Allegations by the accused that their confessions were obtained only after torture led to an investigation of the officers involved and the judgement was overturned by the supreme court. But despite admissions by one of the policemen that dogs and electric-shock equipment were used in the interrogations, all 10 policemen involved were acquitted.In May, two years after the accused were first sentenced to death, a retrial began. Francois Cantier, director of the organisation Lawyers Without Borders in France, which is advising the defence, has said the accused, exhausted by the ordeal, have lost all hope. At a recent hearing, he said, they shouted for the nightmare to be over, even if it meant dying….

Whether international pressure and diplomatic manoeuvrings influence the outcome may never emerge, but the final fate of the accused may not become public for days or even weeks after the defence gives evidence this week. For the families of Benghazi, there is at least the knowledge that lessons have been learned from the tragedy and that their children are now getting the best care possible. With aid from Europe, the US and elsewhere, Benghazi hospital is being transformed and the city will have a world-class infectious disease centre. Its staff have been trained extensively in the best techniques to control and prevent the spread of HIV.

The Palestian prisoner, Ashraf al-Hazouz, who is unlikely to work again as a doctor because of damage to his fingers sustained during his interrogation, was interviewed after being refused bail at the beginning of the retrial in May. “We are also victims like those children, but we hope that this tragedy will end soon,” he said.

With Qaddafi reportedly offered $3 billion reparations if he lets the five nurses and one doctor go, by the same arithmetic the West should be willing to pay whatever small sum it takes to mount a review commission on HIV to save 60 million lives, on the chance that the leading scientist in the field, the thousands of academics and professionals who support him from Nobel prize winners to top quality journalists, authors of some 25 books, and HIV positive people willing to put their lives on the line are not wrong in saying that the scientific literature tells them so.

Read the rest of this entry »

Pfizer takes it on the chin

December 8th, 2006


Billion dollar development of torcetrapib scrapped after trial shows it kills

Could the HIV∫AIDS machine withstand similar independent review?


Pfizer chief Jeffrey B. Kindler (Fred Beckhman/Associated Press) said he was surprised and disappointed by the results of the drug trial.

The extraordinary financial penalty of abandoning the development of a promising new drug has been highlighted this week by the fate of a drug which promised to do something entirely new in fighting heart attacks and strokes – raise the level of good cholesterol.

Torcetrapib did this well enough to reach the late stages of clinical testing, but it raised blood pressure and caused more heart problems for patients who died more often than without it. With a billion dollars invested in the drug which was expected to rejuvenate the company when it went on the market, there was a lot at stake. But Pfizer immediately dumped the drug once the review came in and the company’s chief scientist, who had fathered the drug, heard about it in his shower Saturday morning.

How come the problems were made public and the company forced to abandon it? The answer is independent review.

An independent monitoring panel reviewed the trial and recommended ending it, and Pfizer complied.

This is an extraordinary turnaround since only a week ago Pfizer was telling the investment world at an analyst briefing that they would ask FDA permission to market torcetrapib next year, after which their shares rose 2%. On Monday after the announcement they plunged 11% however and took $21 billion off the value of the company, reflecting the lack of alternatives in the company’s pipeline that promise the $15 billion a year in sales that was expected to come from torcetrapib.

Pfizer with $50 billion in sales and $12 billion in profits a year employs 106,000, and is the world’s biggest drug company. Yet independent review has seen it withdraw a drug on which its immediate future rested, since it would have represented up to a quarter of annual sales.

Independent review also the answer to HIV∫AIDS

Dr Anthony Fauci speaks to warmhearted HIV positive Regan Hoffman, the Editor of POZ magazine, fellow soldier in the trenches against misunderstanding of HIV and for the necessity of condoms and getting tested.

Sometimes HIV∫AIDS critics must feel like King Canute ordering the tide to stop coming in, but we see this week’s developments as promising evidence that even gargantuan sums can be turned aside from wrongly keeping a failed medical initiative afloat.

We think that it may even presage a change of heart – or anyway, policy – on the part of Dr Anthony Fauci, heroic fund raiser for research at the NIAID he leads, and chief strategist for the defense of the paradigm ever since 1986 or earlier.

Certainly all that is needed in HIV∫AIDS is the independent review which has been politically blocked under the leadership of Dr Anthony Fauci of NIAID with the aid of his proudly admitted censorhip of the media and promotion of financial sanctions on scientists who break ranks, who will then find they get not one more penny from the NIH to fund their laboratories even if they have been one of the NIH golden haired boys for years without a single grant refused, have been a winner of the NIH’s rare Special Investigator grants and are members of the National Academy.

We are of course referring to the case of Dr Peter Duesberg, the prime critic of the undemonstrated claim that HIV is the cause of AIDS. It is not just that Dr Fauci tried to drive Duesberg’s scientific finances into the ground and largely succeeded. What has crippled his review more than anything in the field is that every other scientist knows he or she will be in the same boat if they so much as speak up in his support, and every science reporter knows that the topic is verboten.

In support of his scientific Potemkin Village Anthony Fauci has turned his scientific fiefdom into a good imitation of Stalinist Russia.

(Potemkin Village by Gerhard Busch (see this page for this work and more)

And just as the New York Times correspondent at the time managed to overlook the genocides of Stalin, so the New York Times of today overlooks the genocide of Dr Fauci, with the deaths of hundreds of thousands of gay men in his wake, not to mention the deaths of potentially huge numbers of Africans who will go unmedicated or mismedicated for their real diseases such as TB or malnutrition, except for inappropriate antiretrovirals kindly funded by the two richest men in the world, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, and the most celebrated politician in the world, William Jefferson Clinton.

These may seem intemperate words but they are unfortunately scientifically and medically accurate, according to the established medical literature available on PubMed, which will offer for your scrutiny more than 15 million papers published in reputable journals which will back up these statements if you go to your nearest computer and look up whatever you need to check.

An alternative is to look at earlier posts on this blog, which laboriously try to draw the picture in terms which the man in the street can understand, and even be entertained by, as well as appalled.

Pfizer Likely to Seek Approval of New Heart Drug in 2007

Scrutiny of Other Heart Drugs Could Grow After Failed Trial

Collapse of a Cholesterol Drug

Doing My Bit for National HIV Testing Day By Regan Hoffman

Anyone looking for light relief from the above serious topic might like to read POZ magazine editor Regan Hoffman’s blog entry this summer when she learned of a friend who had – ohmygod! – slept with her new love without using a condom.

Long Blonde Hair and AIDS and All By Regan Hoffman:

Regan’s HIV Blog
Editor In Chief, POZ Magazine

Long Blonde Hair and AIDS and All

from Long blonde hair and AIDS and All – AIDSMed.com

Forgive my absence in the blogosphere! I’m back. Hmmmm….where to start? First, the news. Things have been heating up significantly at POZ headquarters…Marvelyn Brown (our POZ covergirl in January ’06 and spokeswoman extraordinaire) has joined our team and we’re delighted to have her. We’re working away on several big ideas to pitch at the International World AIDS conference in Toronto this August. (We plan to have those ideas come to fruition on World AIDS Day come December and will share them with you as soon as we can.) I have been appointed to the board of directors of NAPWA (The National Association of People Living With AIDS) and London’s interest in the POZ story has been piqued…get ready for some breaking press on the other side of the pond. I’ve met lots of wonderful, HIV-savvy celebs (Kathy Bates, Tea Leoni, Miss Universe, Lucy Liu, Rosie Perez, and Gabriel Byrne, to name a few) and am slowly, but surely, making my rounds within the HIV/AIDS community, meeting many more incredible and inspiring people.

A notable example is Anthony Richardson, executive director of Perceptions for People With Disabilities (differentfolks.org), whom I met in Washington, DC at the press conference for National HIV Testing Day. Anthony lost his eyesight due to HIV-related illness but managed to be one of the few who braved the flood waters (that rolled in the night before) to attend the conference. I found it amazing that while the national and regional press (save for a few tenacious souls) couldn’t seem to navigate their way across the watery capital to hear about the importance of HIV testing, a blind man and his dog got there with no trouble from NYC. Okay, well, maybe not “no” trouble – it WAS quite a deluge.

The day after the ill-attended press conference, on June 27th, I joined Frank Oldham, executive director of NAPWA, Doug Michels, CEO of Orasure Technologies and Thomas Frieden, commisioner of the NYC Department of Health to open the NASDAQ. They blasted the announcement that it was National HIV Testing Day in several-story-high digital letters above Times Square. It was pretty awesome to see the name of our disease looming above the throngs wandering around in the neon glow. It was also pretty awesome to see how oblivious many seemed to the message…I had envisioned a stampede of newly enlightened folks rushing from Times Square to the nearest testing site to find out their HIV status. However, reality checked me and instead, I took solace in the fact that at least several NASDAQ staffers were inspired by our announcement to get tested. We need to figure out how to get more people aware and motivated next year.

Which brings me to the meat of this blog.

Many people have asked about what it’s been like to disclose publicly and whether I feel that doing so has made an impact. As to the first question, I can unequivocally say that it does feel great. The fear is gone. I am still here. The shock and awe are over and except for people I’ve never met before to whom I have to tell the news, thing have mostly returned to normal in my life. Some of my fellow HIV-positive peers have written to say that they’ve also disclosed since I spilled the beans and that they’re doing okay, too. I think that’s great. Sometimes, I feel a little like the first one back in the ocean after a shark attack. You know, I’m the dumb one who wades in first while others watch from the shore to see if I’m going to be ripped limb from limb before joining me. I have to say, so far, no dorsal fins. C’mon in if you’d like. The more the merrier. There is great power in facing your greatest fear and having it not kill you or destroy your life, as we so often imagine our greatest fear can. I’m not saying it’s been fun, fun, and lots more fun. I’ve been terrified, criticized, looked at funny and told, by an HIV-positive man, no less, that I’m not someone they want to associate themselves with because I am publicly associated with AIDS. BUT, mostly, it’s been just dandy. The best reaction I’ve gotten so far? I went to a party where I saw a casual acquaintance who’d heard the news. The last time I saw him, three years ago, I had short, black hair (that’s a story for another blog). So, when he walked into the party and saw me, he boomed, “Hey, look at you! Long, blonde hair and AIDS and all!” (might be a good title for my memoir: Long Blonde Hair and AIDS and All.) While I was stunned (though not as much as those other guests who had no idea about my status), I also found myself laughing. In a way, wasn’t his reaction what I dreamed of? To see AIDS handled in as casual a way as my latest haircolor? It was oddly refreshing to hear it expressed in such an offhand way.

As to the impact of my disclosure, it’s hard to measure. Everyone’s been so supportive, but I’ve often wondered whether the news that I have HIV actually motivates people to change their behavior. So, I’ve started asking around: Have you been tested? Do you know your partner’s status? Are you using protection?

One probe into a female friend’s life surprised me. She is recently out of a long-term relationship and shared with me that she slept with “her new man.”

Me: Did you get tested together?

Friend: No.

Me: Do you know his HIV status?

Friend: No.

Me: Well, then I’m sure you used protection, right?

Friend: Well, he was married and had only one other girlfriend.

Me: Arrrrrrrrrrggggggghhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!

I mean, come on! Anyone hot enough for my hot friend to date has NOT had two lovers in his life. Especially when his life spans four decades.

I was driving when she told me the news, and I pulled off the highway to yell at her. I am not normally a hot head, but her conviction that he was telling her the truth and her naivety about his status infuriated me. I said to her, “Listen, while you’re at it, why don’t you just do a few shots of hard alcohol, get in your car, leave the seat belt off, blindfold yourself and drive around at 70 miles an hour and see what happens?!” Okay, so it was a little excessive, but how could she believe that it couldn’t happen to her when it had happened to someone just like her? Then, I calmed down and said, “If I can’t influence even my best friends to take care of themselves, how am I going to convince strangers that they need to practice safer sex?” There was a long silence. Then, I asked her, “What’s the issue? Do you really think you’re immune?” And then, she surprised me. “I’m embarassed to buy condoms.” WHAT!? She continued: “I know the guy at our local Duane Reade. He’s the son of a friend of mine and I don’t want to be seen buying condoms.” Well, at least now I had something concrete to address. “Let me get this straight, ” I aid. “You have the courage and resolve and self esteem to extract yourself from a bad relationship. You found a man you think might be the man of your dreams. But you are not going to protect his life and yours because you are afraid to appear sexually responsible in front of your friend’s son!?” I continued. “You get over to that Duane Reade and you get condoms in every shape and size and modality and you plop them on the counter in front of that teenager and if he even looks at you sideways, you tell him that at least you respect yourself enough to take responsibility for your own life. Oh, and at least you’re getting laid. A lot.” She laughed. I did not. “One last thing,” I said. “I am not coming to your art opening (she’s an artist) until I see PROOF.”

I hung up the phone and eased my car back on the highway. I drove, for a while, feeling like my disclosure might have been in vain, after all. I seriously doubted my ability to inspire others to avoiding contracting HIV if I couldn’t persuade my closest friends that the threat was real, and all around them. I worked through the day, but with the wind very much out of my sails, until late afternoon, when my phone buzzed. There was a text message from my friend.

It read (sic): Duane reade-trojan 12 v thin lub-$9.75.

And I allowed myself a tiny cheer. One down, several hundred million more to go.

Posted by Regan Hofmann on July 18, 2006 7:44 PM | Permalink

But of course, an independent review is just what Dr Fauci’s strategy of censorship and propaganda aimed at avoiding all these years. There is little chance that he will welcome any such thing now, unless he is willing to take responsibility for causing a health catastrophe.

Duesberg triumphant at Rockwell Conference

December 5th, 2006


Surrounded by admirers for two hours, the celebrated HIV∫AIDS critic is birthday boy

But no one offers a check – yet

Just how well Duesberg’s talk went at the Libertarian Lew Rockwell conference in San Francisco on Friday and Saturday, where Duesberg delivered the keynote on Friday evening at 6.30pm, “AIDS – a viral or chemical epidemic?”, is made clear on Barnesworld, the blog renamed Hank’s You Bet Your Life, where two appreciative reports are carried today. They give a good account of both the scene and the content of Duesberg’s talk to about 150 people.

Duesberg was surrounded by a throng of questioners for two hours afterwards, during which a birthday cake was carried in in his honor, December 2 being his 70th birthday (“he looks 50” says one of the entries). Scholar and author Harvey Bialy, the eminence grise of the blog and now its frequent correspondent, follows the reports with an email from Duesberg which ends with the single down note (as far as we are concerned) of the evening, his joke that “they did offer heart-felt applause and questions from 9 until 11 PM. But no one has asked if they could write a check to the lab yet.”

In the Comments that follow, however, there is already one Pat Edmonson promising Duesberg a share of a sum he will receive after the year end.

Carrying these reports on YBYL is a significant public service, not only because it shows how overwhelming Duesberg’s critique is when presented to a live audience, but draws attention to the key factor – big money – which has crippled good science in this field, and allow bad science to triumph. Everything is being done, we hope, to make contributions to Duesberg as easy as a click on PayPal or mailing a check. His website is Peter Duesberg, where it lists his address as Professor Peter H. Duesberg, Ph.D., Department of Molecular & Cell Biology, c/o Stanley/Donner Administrative Services Unit, 229 Stanley Hall #3206, University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720-3206 Fax: (510) 643-6455. There is a form to write a quick email to Duesberg if you wish at Write an email.

Why send money to Duesberg?

His research into cancer is the most significant and pioneering in the field, and can be continued at the modest sum of $100,000 a year. Modest, that is, relative to the huge sums being wasted by proponents of the current oncogene paradigm in cancer research, which Duesberg and Bialy have pointed out in their respective articles and books has been a theoretical dead end since the mid eighties, like HIV∫AIDS, an even vaster money machine which is also wasting all its research millions on a paradigm which has yet to be justified in any meaningful way, not to mention wasting the expanding millions spent on delivering AIDS drugs to patients here and in Africa, India and points East, courtesy of the efforts of Gates, Clinton, Bono and other celebrities whose view of HIV∫AIDS is under researched.

At the moment, with his faithful long time lab assistant dying of the very same dread disease that they were researching, Duesberg is alone in his laboratory, dealing with his own minor errands and bench work as well as following his fruitful intellectual path into exploring aneuploidy (multiplying chromosomes) as the real trigger of cancer, as explained in Harvey Bialy’s valuable handbook to the Duesberg saga in both fields, “Oncogenes, Aneuploidy and AIDS: A Scientific Life of Peter H. Duesberg”.

There have been no graduate students in Berkeley who have dared work under Duesberg since he entered the fray by tilting against both the HIV∫AIDS and oncogene windmills two decades ago in Cancer Research. But the undergraduates he taught about viruses and cancer last year gave him a standing ovation after his final class.

All in all, there are few scientists who deserve full funding more than Duesberg, given the staggering quality and significance of his accomplishments, from starting two major fields of research (oncogenes and aneuploidy) to renouncing two (oncogenes and HIV∫AIDS) out of a love of real scientific truth and a sense of public responsibility, despite his privileges as the leading scientist in oncogenes and retroviruses and popularity among the scientific elite – he was a member of the National Academy before any of his opponents in AIDS, as far as we know, and every single grant application of his to the NIH was given the green light, until he wrote the Cancer Research paper in 1987 rejecting HIV as the cause of AIDS.

His work over twenty two years dealing with the profession and the public on the HIV∫AIDS question is a breathtaking accomplishment given the depth and breadth of the research he had to cover to shut all the escape hatches built by the paradigm promoters in arguing that even if the theory didn’t make too much sense in this regard or that regard it would all become clear in the end.

Meanwhile they need another $100 million from the NIH, please, whereas all the time Duesberg’s important research in cancer was shortchanged of his time and starved of funds, since Duesberg has never got a penny from the NIH since 1987 and the number of private patrons who have responded you can count in the fingers of one hand and have two fingers left over, and this in a country where there are now so many millionaires that only billionaires are counted as rich any more. San Francisco private investor Robert Leppo deserves a medal for taking the lead in enabling Duesberg’s work.

ABC’s John Stossel ran a segment last Wednesday taking the super rich to task for not contributing enough to charity, and we were particularly struck by the man worth $6 billion who said he didn’t know where to send it.

We are sending him a suggestion.

Duesberg, hero of AIDS, speaks today

December 1st, 2006


Talk by Berkeley scientist, public spirited conqueror of doubt and confusion in HIV∫AIDS madness

First annual award of NAR goes to indomitable scientist

We have just learned rather belatedly from our brother in arms blog, the high level Hank’s You Bet Your Life directed by Harvey Bialy that Peter Duesberg is to speak tonight (Fri Dec 1) in San Francisco. Go to Lew Rockwell and the Libertarians Celebrate World AIDS Day with Peter Duesberg to read about it, and download Duesberg’s powerpoint presentation which will be put up during today, and a live report before and after the talk.

The cost will be $150 and in our opinion, well worth it, especially for anyone who has never seen this restlessly sharp and witty analyst in action. A lecture by Duesberg is a live event that lives up to the description, for his style is entirely spontaneous, even if he is delivering slides and comment he has covered before. The only problem is that sometimes his witticisms at the expense of dull mediocrity are delivered in a conversational throwaway giggle, rather than in the ringing tones they deserve.

Come to the LRC Conference!“May you be Healthy, Wealthy and Wise.” That’s about as generous a wish one person can offer another. Well, you’re on the way if you attend the LRC Benefit Conference on revisionist health and finances on December 1–2, 2006 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Foster City, California, near the San Francisco Airport. Join us. You’ll be dazzled by our speakers, have a terrific time and help LRC as well.

Friday, December 1, Marco Polo Room

* 5:30pm: Registration and Welcome 6:00pm:

* Burt Blumert, Center for Libertarian Studies Mark Thornton, Ludwig von Mises Institute “Welcome”

* 6:15pm: Gary North, “Dr. Rothbard’s Prescription for Health and Wealth”

* 6:45pm: Peter Duesberg, University of California at Berkeley “Is AIDS a Viral or a Chemical Epidemic? – a Multi-Billion-Dollar Question”

* 7:15pm: Gala Reception

Presumably Duesberg’s presentation will be the one he gave at the meeting in New York in June, when he addressed the Rethinking AIDS group meeting and the press on the topic of how HIV∫AIDS scientists and officials have failed to realize any of the predictions inherent in their favorite paradigm, from heterosexual spread in the US to a rise and fall in prevalence in the US to virus killing T cells to significant mortality globally, while Duesberg’s alternative account of AIDS, as an immune deficit syndrome caused by drugs in the US and conventional assaults such as malnutrition and diseases in Africa, predicts everything that has happened in this field over the last two decades quite beautifully.

Peter Duesberg wins first annual NAR “Hero of AIDS”award

The Duesberg presentation on World AIDS Day coincides happily with the decision of the editors, writers and researchers of New AIDS Review to award its first annual Hero of AIDS medal to the distinguished pioneering scientist.

Other scientists in the running for the award included Robert Gallo, the first man to entirely disprove his own fervent hope that HIV was the “probable cause of AIDS”, as he and Margaret Heckler announced in 1994 at a press conference faithfully transmitted to the front page of the New York Times and thence worldwide by Lawrence K. Altman, the MD and CDC trainee on whom the Times has since depended for its unvarying support of this notion of HIV as “the virus that causes AIDS”, even though as it turned out a week later Gallo’s heralded papers in Science revealed that HIV was not the cause of AIDS after all, since he had been able to find it in only 26 out of 72 patients’ blood samples.

Also considered was Dr Anthony Fauci, Director of NIAID at the NIH, who was the first to bring the attention of scientists to the fact that HIV not only did not kill T cells in a provable manner that anyone understood, either directly or indirectly, but actually provoked the proliferation of CD4 T cells, the very cells it was meant to kill directly or indirectly, or by supernatural means, and thus cause AIDS through immune dysfunction. This didn’t provably happen.

Instead, the implication from the pen of this giant of science running NIAID was that the answer to AIDS might be infecting patients with more HIV, normally absent from their bodies in any detectable amount, which like any good leukemia virus (human T cell leukemia virus was Gallo’s first name for HIV) would not only augment the CD4 count of patients, but also act as a vaccine to ensure that they were better defended against HIV by multiplying antibodies to it, so there will be even less HIV in patients than the normal vanishing amount. In other words, the correct antidote to HIV was more HIV.

However, neither of these scientists have had the courage of Peter Duesberg in bringing their conclusions to the attention of the public as well as of scientists, so we unanimously decided that Duesberg was the first and only choice for the first award of Hero of AIDS for his work over two decades demonstrating that Gallo was correct, and there is no chance in Hades that HIV is the cause of anything, let alone AIDS.

The following is the full rationale attached to the award, which will be presented to Duesberg in person when he is next in New York:

Read the rest of this entry »


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