Damned Heretics

Condemned by the established, but very often right

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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.

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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).

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blog, insofar as it seems to believe both in science and the importance of intellectual imagination, uncompromised by out of date emotions such as the impulse toward conventional religious beliefs, national aggression as a part of patriotism, and so on.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

Decision today on reprieve, otherwise it’s goodbye unless the Bulgarians pay up

Montagnier presumably wracked by guilty conscience over his “peaceful virus”

Last week, the Libyan Supreme Court upheld the death sentences of the Libyan nurses and Egyptian doctor falsely accused and convicted of infecting Libyan babies with HIV. Today, the Supreme Judicial Council of Libya, which can overturn the decision, meets.

Apparently the Libyans are still trying to put the squeeze on the Bulgarians even after raising $13 million per child so far from the European Community. The amounts involved are too large for the Bulgarians to agree. So the nurses, having suffered Libyan jail accommodation for a decade, where they say their confessions were obtained through rape and other torture, are now close to death.

Previously Luc Montagnier and Vittorio Colizzi of Italy have done their best to extricate the hapless women from their predicament without themselves confessing that there is no good science behind the HIV∫AIDS paradigm on which the fantasies of the Libyan families, the Libyan officials, the European Community officials, the Bulgarian officials, the Times reporter Elisabeth Rosenthal and her editor, and the nurses and doctor hinge.

Now France’s dynamic and independent new First Lady has flown in to give Quaddafi a piece of her mind for countenancing this filthy behavior, which leaves Libya’s reputation in shreds again around the world.

France’s first lady, Cécilia Sarkozy, yesterday made her first foray into international diplomacy, travelling alone to Libya for talks with Colonel Muammar Gadafy and meeting the Bulgarian nurses sentenced to death for allegedly infecting children with HIV.

The surprise journey was her first solo appearance on the international scene since her husband was elected president in May, and marked her swift transformation from a fashion icon to a new role as an international diplomat.

President Nicolas Sarkozy confirmed to reporters last night that his wife had travelled without him to visit the Bulgarian nurses, the Libyan leader and the parents of the children infected with HIV. She was “still in Libya”, where she met Col Gadafy once yesterday morning and was due to hold a second meeting with the Libyan leader last night. The French ambassador in Libya refused to comment.

Click this for the story – France’s first lady flies to aid death row nurses

Montagnier’s conscience – his “peaceful virus”

At least Luc Montagnier also had the courage to go to Libya to try and set things straight, unlike the American scientits behind HIV∫AIDS.

One wonders what is going through the mind of Montagnier now as the nurses, at least one of whom is quite pretty, judging from the photo the Times has dug up from last year, approach oblivion at the hands of Libyan executioners as a consequence of the fantasy he has peddled to the world for twenty two years as his one claim to fame and fortune, while clearly believing in it less and less himself, as his ongoing struggle to expand the culprit for AIDS to co-factors reveals.

We well remember the events at the San Francisco AIDS Conference in 1990 when Montagnier turned up with his news that he had discovered a mycoplasma was the sine qua non of actual AIDS symptoms, only to be barred from the Conference grounds by his colleagues and having to hold his press conference in a stuffy, low ceilinged hotel meeting room.

He was not even invited for dinner afterwards by Bob Gallo and Anthony Fauci, and had to go home to Paris by the next plane in shame and confusion. Not much was heard from him in public since about co-factors, although in his biography. Virus, published in 2000 in its English edition, he has a whole chapter theorizing that this particular strain of mycoplasma is the factor which accounts for the latency period of ten years on average before the Virus works its deadly and insidious damage. Patients only go down when this mycoplasma meets HIV, otherwise a “peaceful virus” that is “normally well tolerated” by the host.

Not that Montagnier believed that HIV caused AIDS in the first place, judging from the fact that he made no such claim in the year it took Gallo to catch up with him after he had found evidence of retroviral activity in the blood of a gay with lymphadenopathy, not even an AIDS patient, which is why he called it LAV.

LAV of course subsequently proved to be identical to the strain of HIV discovered by Gallo (HTLV-III) and by Robin Weiss in England, confounding their claims of independent discovery of the Virus somewhere else other than in a Fedex package from Montagnier.

Even though it was discovered by Gallo in the blood of only 36% of the AID patinets – compared with cytomegalovirus, a much better candidate for causing immune suppression, in over 90%, Epstein Barr over 90%, other Herpes viruses over 90% – this didn’t prevent a quarrel between America and France over royalties that went on for years, until the credit was unfairly split.

Robert Root Bernstein shows all this in his excellent book, Rethinking AIDS, 1993, MacMillan Free Press, in Chapter 4 on Multiple, Concurrent Infections and AIDS, which goes through infections as multiple causes of immune suppression, such as candida, yeast infection, mycoplasma, mycobacteria, Helminths worms and other parasites flourishing in the tropical isle of Manhattan.

UPDATE: Reuters and Al Jazeera report that a deal is in the works, with the “blood money” ransom for the five nurses and doctor kidnapped by Libya settled at $1 million per family.

Reuters Deal close to free HIV nurses in Libya: sources
Mon Jul 16, 2007 3:10PM EDT

SOFIA (Reuters) – A deal has been reached to free six foreign medics sentenced to death in Libya on charges of infecting children with HIV, but a few final details must still be worked out, sources familiar with the talks said on Monday.

Under the deal, the families of at least 426 infected children will receive over $400 million in compensation, a source familiar with the talks told Reuters.

“We are talking about $1 million per each family,” said the source, who did not want to be identified because of the sensitivity of the discussions.

“They are collecting signatures now,” the source added, declining to give other details.

The medical workers — four Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor — were sentenced to death in December after being convicted of intentionally starting an HIV epidemic at a children’s hospital in the city of Benghazi.

In jail since 1999, the six say they are innocent and that they were tortured to confess. Foreign HIV experts say the infections started before the workers arrived at the hospital and are more likely a result of poor hygiene.

Behind the scenes talks between the EU, which Bulgaria joined in January, and families of the children have been taking place for weeks and both sides have suggested a deal was close.

Bulgaria and its allies in the European Union and the United States say Libya is using the medics as scapegoats to deflect criticism from its dilapidated health care sector.

They have also suggested that not freeing the nurses would carry a diplomatic cost for Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, who after scrapping a prohibited weapons programme in 2003 is trying to emerge from more than three decades of diplomatic isolation.


Last week, Libya’s Supreme Court upheld the death sentences, placing the medics’ fate in the hands of the government’s High Judicial Council, a government body that has the power to commute sentences or issue pardons. It held a meeting on Monday.

Libyan officials said the body would only agree to release the nurses if a settlement is reached in private talks with the families on “blood money” — payments for which the families could grant mercy — and funding for the children’s medical care.

Another source familiar with the negotiations said the final details of the deal had yet to be agreed.

“They have not completed the work on the details over implementing the compensation deal. It will take more time, perhaps 24 hours or more to complete the work,” the source said.

“Until they finalize these implementation measures, the families of the children will sign no paper and the High Judiciary Council will receive no document from them.”

A delay in sealing the accord could postpone the decision by the council on the fate of the medics, experts say.

It was also not clear who would be paying the more than $400 million involved in the deal.

Relatives of the children have said the infections were part of a Western attempt to undermine Muslims and Libya.

Libya Upholds Death Sentence in H.I.V. Case:The New York Times

July 12, 2007
Libya Upholds Death Sentence in H.I.V. Case

ROME, July 11 — The Libyan Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld the death sentences of five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor who had been found guilty of intentionally infecting more than 400 Libyan children with the virus that causes AIDS in 1998.

An investigation by two of the world’s leading AIDS specialists concluded that the children’s H.I.V. had been caused by unsanitary medical conditions at the children’s hospital in Benghazi. The Libyan court rejected the conclusion.

The six medical workers have been incarcerated for nearly a decade, and their fate remained uncertain on Wednesday despite months of negotiations to secure their release. The European Union and the United States have repeatedly pressed Libya to free them, and groups of Nobel laureates have gone to Tripoli to plead their case with the Libyan leader, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi.

The Supreme Judicial Council of Libya, which could overturn the ruling or reduce the sentence, will meet Monday.

The reaction in Europe to the verdict was swift and dismayed.

“I deeply regret the verdict of the Supreme Court confirming the death sentence for the Bulgarian nurses and the Palestinian doctor,” said Benita Ferrero-Waldner, the European Union’s commissioner for external relations. “I firmly hope that clemency will be granted to the medical staff,” she said. “This should be done in the same spirit of mutual respect and humanitarian compassion which characterized the European response to the plight of the Benghazi children and their families.”

In the past two years, the European Union, member states and even private corporations have funneled aid into Libya to help resolve the case. One high-level European Union diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity, in accordance with protocol, estimated the amount at more than $13 million per infected child.

In recent weeks, representatives of the Qaddafi Foundation, a charitable group run by the Libyan leader’s son, said repeatedly that a deal that could lead to the medical workers’ release was imminent. Officials at the foundation did not respond to more than a dozen attempts to question them by phone Wednesday. Under Islamic law, the families of the children may accept compensation for the injury and express forgiveness, which would lead to the dismissal of the cases. Libyan negotiators have long said that this would be the best way to resolve the case, diplomats involved in the talks said.

But the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry has refused to consider compensation, saying that would imply guilt, and the country could not afford the amounts under discussion, which could run into the billions of dollars. “The court’s decision was not unexpected,” said a statement Wednesday by Dimiter Tzantchev, the spokesman for the Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who said no further comment would be made Wednesday. “We expect the High Judicial Council of Libya to be convened. Bulgaria is ready to react appropriately in the next days following the development of the situation.”

Even as the Qaddafi Foundation has said it was negotiating an agreement with the children’s families, there have been signals that they would not be easily placated.

“We are awaiting the execution of the death sentence,” the lawyer for the families, Al-Monseif Khalifa, said Wednesday in Tripoli, according to Reuters, which noted that 20 families had protested outside the court. Fifty of the infected children have died.

The medical workers’ convoluted case began in 1998, before Bulgaria was in the European Union. In the indictment, which reads like a spy novel, Libyan prosecutors claimed the medical workers had infected the children in a plot by the Mossad, the Israeli secret service, to undermine Libya. Prosecutors said that the nurses had confessed, and said vials of tainted blood had been found in one nurse’s room. The nurses said they had been tortured and raped so they would confess. In 2001, the foundation invited two of the world’s foremost AIDS experts, Dr. Luc Montagnier of France and Dr. Vittorio Colizzi of Italy, to study the evidence. They concluded that poor sanitary practices had led to the spread of H.I.V. and said that records indicated that some of the children had AIDS before the nurses arrived. Bush Names Ambassador to Libya

WASHINGTON, July 11 (Reuters) — President Bush announced Wednesday that he had chosen Gene Cretz as ambassador to Libya, a post that had been empty for years, in a sign of improving ties between the countries. Mr. Cretz is deputy chief of mission at the American Embassy in Tel Aviv and had held the same job at the embassy in Damascus, Syria.

Matthew Brunwasser contributed reporting from Sofia, Bulgaria.

One Response to “Libyan nurses held over void”

  1. The Daily Slant Says:

    The Million Dollar Question…

    How do you get a third world country to lift the death sentence facing innocent people? Pay each "victim" a million dollars, cross your fingers and hope real hard. Because in this country only a miracle can save you.

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