Where we’ve been and where we’re going

Archive for March, 2008

Getting and Spending

Posted by 4hiram on March 31, 2008

GO Master Card
Dear Mr Hiram P Caton
Want a smarter way to upgrade your lifestyle? The smartest thing about your GO Mastercard is that it helps you choose the lifestyle you want, today. And to give you even more choice, we’d like to offer you a credit limit increase. By paying off your interest free purchase before the promotional period ends, you won’t pay a cent of interest. Pretty Smart! But your GO Mastercard is great for everyday Mastercard purchases, too. By repaying more than the minimum monthly payment, you’ll minimize interest charges. Very smart!

This letter is one among the millions that frequently reach Australians, tempting them to ‘upgrade their lifestyle’. And who doesn’t want to upgrade? That holiday in Bali; a flashy new SUV; paying the kids’ school fees; a Nokia moblie phone with all the trimmings. Consumers want, want, want, and spend, spend, spend. It’s our lifestyle.

I hold a Go card because it gives me interest free use of $4000. for three years. Assume an interest rate of 10%; that’s a value of $1200. Pretty smart, because I’ll liquidate the debt when the free ride terminates. But hang on a minute; how can GO operate on this loser basis; it’s not smart; it’s dumb. Well, maybe not so dumb if their clients use it for everyday purchases. What’s the interest rate? GO don’t say, but they do say that the interest on $9000. of credit is only $270. per month. That converts to $3240. per year. Interest rate? 36%. Very smart for Go; not so smart for me and you.

There are now 11.2 million credit cards in Australia, an increase of 6% over last year. Total credit card debt is $39.6 billion–a tenfold increase since 1998. The average debt per person is $2450. The interest rates? The major banks are charging 16-17%, plus fees, especially late payment fees.

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Despite the growth of assets and high employment, payment defaults increased 35% in 2007. One popular way of dealing with this predicament is to refinance the home under a new mortgage. About 33% of new mortgages fall into that category. A survey found that 75% of borrowers are concerned about their ability to meet payments over the next twelve months. About 12% of disposal income is devoted to debt repayments. http://www.vedaadvantage.com/latest_news/australias-debt-divide-deepens.aspx

The debt relief business is booming thanks to our bad habits. Here’s what one provider advises clients:

*Spend less than you earn

*Don’t take on dubious or expensive forms of credit unnecessarily

*Don’t make any late payments

*Watch your money carefully


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Rethinking AIDS

Posted by 4hiram on March 27, 2008

This page provides access to AIDS dissidents who promote reappraisal of the HIV/AIDS hypothesis. Here is a sample of our views.

“Up to today there is actually no single scientifically really convincing evidence for the existence of HIV. Not even once such a retrovirus has been isolated and purified by the methods of classical virology.” –Dr. Heinz Ludwig Sänger, Emeritus Professor of Molecular Biology and Virology, Max-Planck-Institutes for Biochemistry, Munich.

“I do not regard the causal relationship between HIV and any disease as settled. I have seen considerable evidence that highly improper statistics concerning HIV and AIDS have been passed off as science, and that top members of the scientific establishment have carelessly, if not irresponsible, joined the media in spreading misinformation about the nature of AIDS.” –Dr. Serge Lang, formerly Professor of Mathematics, Yale University”It is not proven that AIDS is caused by HIV infection, nor is it proven that it plays no role whatever in the syndrome.” –Dr. Harry Rubin, Professor of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of California, Berkeley

“If there is evidence that HIV causes AIDS, there should be scientific documents which either singly or collectively demonstrate that fact, at least with a high probability. There is no such document.” –Dr. Kary Mullis, Biochemist, 1993 Nobel Prize for Chemistry.

“In the old days it was required that a scientist address the possibilities of proving his hypothesis wrong as well as right. Now there’s none of that in standard HIV-AIDS program with all its billions of dollars.” — Dr. Richard Strohman, Emeritus Professor of Cell Biology, University of California, Berkeley

“HIV is an ordinary retrovirus. There is nothing about this virus that is unique. Everything that is discovered about HIV has an analogue in other retroviruses that don’t cause AIDS. HIV only contains a very small piece of genetic information. There’s no way it can do all these elaborate things they say it does.”– Dr. Harvey Bialy, Molecular Biologist, former editor of Bio/Technology and Nature Biotechnology, and biographer of Peter Duesberg

“Unfortunately, an AIDS ‘establishment’ seems to have formed that intends to discourage challenges to the dogma on one side and often insists on following discredited ideas on the other.” –Dr. Roger Cunningham, Immunologist, Microbiologist and Director of the Centre for Immunology at the State University of New York at Buffalo

“AIDS is a behavioural disease. It is multifactorial, brought on by several simultaneous strains on the immune system – drugs, pharmaceutical and recreational, sexually transmitted diseases, multiple viral infections.” –Dr. Gordon Stewart, Emeritus Professor of Public Health, University of Glasgow.

Some leading websites

Rethinking AIDS: Group for the Scientific Reappraisal of the HIV/AIDS Hypothesis

The Group was formed in 1991, largely inspired by the criticism of Peter Duesberg and the very hostile response to it by the AIDS establishment. The Group hold that a) AIDS is not an infectious disease; b) it is not caused by a retrovirus; c) serological and viral load tests are not reliable for the diagnosis of AIDS; d) HAART drugs do more harm than good; e) adequate public hygiene and sanitation, well balanced nutrition, and curtailing the use of recreational drugs can prevent and control AIDS much better than all the toxic ARV therapeutic regimens; and f) several alternative and non-viral factors can explain the occurrence of most acquired immunodeficiencies in humans. Dogmatic adherence to the hypothesis is effort to salvage the reputation of many cancer research laboratories that had been compromised, between 1960 and 1980, by a heavily financed but failed effort to prove a viral cause for cancer. Cancer research had been put on the wrong track by placing emphasis on an enzyme marker of cancer cells in 1970; AIDS research has been put on the wrong track by hypothesizing retroviral causation in 1984.

Duesberg on AIDS

duesbergPeter Duesberg is professor of Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of California, Berkeley. He was among the scientists who sought a viral cause of cancer, and indeed he discovered the first cancer gene through work on retroviruses, whose genetic structure he mapped. He received the California Scientist of the Year award in 1971, and the American Medical Center Oncology award for research on cancer in 1981. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1986 and was awarded a seven-year Outstanding Investigator Grant from the National Institutes of Health. However, in 1987 he published a paper in Cancer Research that presented a detailed technical challenge to the HIV/AIDS hypothesis. A year later he published in Science a paper, HIV is Not the Cause of AIDS. The health establishment, especially the NIH, tried to persuade Duesberg to abandon his threatening views, but he persisted. Accordingly the establishment set out to degrade his status and tarnish his reputation. His Outstanding Investigator Grant was canceled, he was relieved of all university duties and privileges, including doctoral students and funding for his laboratory (he was able to maintain his lab thanks only to private support). He nevertheless continued his research and developed evidence that a condition closely associated with cancer-cell multiplication, aneuploidy, is indeed the cause of cancer. (Aneuploidy is a chromosome irregularity. Duesberg’s research showed that the high mutation rates of cancer cells is due to aneuploidy-based continuous chromosome reassortment). This evidence attracted the interest of cancer specialists, including scientists at the NIH. The once-distinguished scientist disgraced as a stubborn, self-indulgent maverick now began to reaccummulate a reputation as a … distinguished scientist!! Much to the embarrassment of some of his departmental bosses and to the NIH. Let us be clear about this. The cause of cancer is has been the most diligently researched medical condition for many decades. Whoever discovers its cause will be exalted to the highest ranks. The least that can be said of Duesberg’s evidence is that it’s considered to be a serious proposal about cancer’s causality. What does that say about the wholesale assault on his contention that HIV is not the cause of AIDS? For Duesberg’s clear and witty lecture on HIV/AIDS, covering the political, social, and scientific aspects, click here. For his Power Point presentation at a Lew Rockwell conference, click here.

The Virus Myth

This site is associated with Rethinking AIDS. Its contribution is the enormous AIDS-related literature that it links. It also provides rich biographical coverage of leaders of the dissident movement (select ‘Censorship’ and ‘Whistleblowers’ on the site). Among the journalist-independent investigators highlighted are John Lauritson, Celia Farber, Neville Hodgkinson, Anthony Liversidge, Joan Shenton, and Tom Bethell. John Lauritson is especially noteworthy because was among the first to detect the damage done to gay users of recreational drugs, especially ‘poppers’, and he has published three books.

Treatment Action Group

This group, headed by the High Court Advocate Anthony Brink, is located in Cape Town, South Africa, and is engaged in a very challenging dual with pro-HIV/AIDS organizations in SA. In 1999 Brink published a book, Questions of Safety and Utility, that questioned the AIDS orthodoxy. When SA President Thabo Mbeki read Brink’s book, he ordered an inquiry into the safety of the AIDS drug AZT. This greatly disturbed the South African Medicines Control Council and touched off a controversy that continues. Brink’s book has been republished as Debating AZT: Mbeki and the AIDS Drug Controversy (accessible from the TIG site).

Project Thames

This organization, headed by Mark E. Barr, uses legal avenues to reveal commercial connections between medical research/researchers and pharmaceutical companies. ‘Project THAMES will work to increase transparency, to see that existing standards are met, and to advocate for more effective disclosure and regulation’. It also educates and informs the public about commercial pressures and/or conflicts of interest between key HIV/AIDS physician/researcher thought leaders and the pharmaceutical industry and to advocate for full transparency and accountability.

Alive and Well: AIDS Alternatives

This non-profit organization, created by Christine Maggiore in 1995, specializes in advice and consultation for persons diagnosed as HIV+. Our mission is to open much needed dialogue on HIV, to advocate for unprejudiced scientific research on AIDS, to assist people in making truly informed decisions about their lives and health, and to provide legal, medical and peer support for HIV positives seeking immune-enhancing alternatives to toxic AIDS interventions’. It is an outstanding site: visually pleasing, easily navigated, reportage rich, and full of ideas.

The Perth Group

The Group was established in 1981 by Eleni Papadopulos-Eleopulos, a biophysicist at the Royal Perth Hospital. Other members are Dr Valendar Turner and Pathology Professor John Papadimitriou. Four other physicists and chemists have co-authored with the Group’s three main members. Two of the group were invited members of the Presidential AIDS Advisory Panel (South Africa) and have presented material in various forums including the Presidential Panel and via satellite at the Geneva International AIDS Conference. The Group contend that HIV has not been proved to be a unique, acquired retrovirus; that standard antibody tests are not specific to HIV infection; it has not been proved that HIV causes immune deficiency; it has not been proved that HIV may be transmitted from mother to child, or that such transmission can be inhibited by AZT or nevirapine. In 2006, Papadopulos-Eleopulos and Dr Turner testified at the appeal for retrial of an HIV-positive man, Andre Parenzee, who had been convicted on three counts of endangering life by having unprotected sex without informing his partners of his HIV status. Papadopulos-Eleopulos and Dr Turner told the Supreme Court of South Australia that Parenzee should be acquitted because the existence of HIV had not been proven; that HIV tests were unreliable; and there was no evidence for sexual transmission of HIV. The judge dismissed their testimony because it was contradicted by AIDS experts called by the prosecution and because neither Papadopulos-Eleopulos nor Dr Turner are AIDS physicians. The Royal Perth Hospital instructed the Group that they are not in any way associate their AIDS views with their appointments as hospital staff. For the Perth Group’s testimony in the Parenzee case, click here.

Help for HIV

Like Alive and Well, Help for HIV is meant to help persons diagnosed HIV+ cope with the fears and trauma usually associated with positive diagnosis. Knowing the facts about HIV/AIDS is a major factor. The website sets out ten major facts, viz, tests are highly inaccurate and unreliable; they do not test for HIV but HIV-antibody; antibody presence to virus or microbe means immunity, not vulnerability in normal vaccination medicine; the proteins used in the HIV test kits have have never been proven to be specific for HIV; no HIV test has ever been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the specific intended purpose of diagnosing infection with HIV. Help for HIV provides access to discussion groups, blogs, websites, and books.

Science Guardian and New AIDS Review

This site’s motto is ‘Defending science in the paradigm wars, challenging ruling assumptions and exploiting truths buried in the literature and overlooked by the media.’ The site is operated by the London journalist Anthony Liversidge. It provides that most inclusive coverage of AIDS stories available online. It also covers a wide range of medical events and public comment relevant to the AIDS debate. Finally, Liversidge is very attentive to attacks on HIV/AIDS dissidents as ‘denialists’.

The Shill Factor: AIDS Pundits and Big Pharma

Cozy relationships between scientists and industry are nothing new. Everyone knows about them, even ethics boards. So there’s nothing surprising about the close relationship that leading AIDS scientists have with drug makers. But those luxury holidays, annual retainers, and prestige baubles DO NOT influence their research results, which are completely impartial ….; or ARE they? This site shows in detail, name by name, exactly what benefits, dollar by dollar, leading AIDS scientists enjoy. It’s known that pharma staff sometime actually write the studies to which scientists sign their names. Whether that happens with any of the big boys on this list isn’t said.

In Australia, pharmas entertained doctors at more than 14,000 “educational” events in the second half of 2007. A report by Medicines Australia (an industry company) states that 43 pharmas spent in excess of $30 million promoting their products at expensive locations—in the second half of 2007. AstraZeneca paid $514,000 to host a national symposium for 226 gastroenterologists at Melbourne’s Crown Casino. GlaxoSmithKlinepix

Australia spent $160,000 on a six-hour conference for 131 oncologists at Sydney’s Shangri-La Hotel. All up, 385,221 doctors and other health professionals attended 14,633 events. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has ruled that the industry needs a stricter code of conduct. An independent audit of what the companies reported in comparison with the Medicines Australia Code of Conduct found 749 events warranted further investigation. Of those, 52 events were listed as potential breaches of the code.

Celia Farber, Out of Control: AIDS and the Corruption of Medical Science

The article, published in Harper’s Magazine, March 2006, described repeated failures of controlled studies of therapeutic drugs to prove that they had any therapeutic effect. The long article attracted a great deal of attention, including a rebuttal by leading AIDS researchers. Click here to read the article online.

You Bet Your Life

An outstanding AIDS blog site.


Three million Third World children under the age of five die annually from diarrhrea, which they contract from unsanitary water and other conditions that promote communicable diseases. Not AIDS directs its attention to Third World conditions and the policies of WHO and UNAIDS, of whose policies it is critical.water children

Henry H. Bauer, Questioning HIV/AIDS: Morally Reprehensible or Scientifically Warranted?

AIDS dissidents have been vehemently attacked for disrupting beliefs deemed by the orthodoxy to be essential for public and patient health and safety. Bauer’s essay is a solid, unemotional assessment of this conflict. In his abstract Bauer says: ‘One expects scientific discourse to be focused dispassionately on substantive issues. Yet doctors, scientists, and others who question whether human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) causes acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) have been called the moral equivalent of Holocaust deniers; their employers have been urged to dismiss them; laws under which they could be imprisoned have been envisioned; and media have been asked to purge their archives of anything potentially favorable to such doubting’.


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Margaret Mead and Samoa

Posted by 4hiram on March 24, 2008

The Samoa Caper


Derek Freeman’s Margaret Mead and Samoa: The Making and Unmaking of an Anthropological Myth (1983) touched off the most extended–and intractable–controversy in anthropology’s history. Mead’s Coming of Age in Samoa: A Psychological Study of Primitive Youth for Western Civilization (1928) was an anthropological classic read by many students in many countries over many years. As the title hints, her study is a lesson on how we, living the conflicts of advanced culture, can ease them by learning something from the low-stress social relations of a ‘primitive’ society where individualism and the nuclear family are absent. We can in some measure imitate them, particularly in sexuality, where Samoan adolescent girls are unfettered by taboos.

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