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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blog, insofar as it seems to believe both in science and the importance of intellectual imagination, uncompromised by out of date emotions such as the impulse toward conventional religious beliefs, national aggression as a part of patriotism, and so on.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 that ever interfered with my learning was my education. I am Freeman Dyson, and I approve of this blog, but would warn the author that life as a heretic is a hard one, since the ignorant and the half informed, let alone those who should know better, will automatically trash their betters who try to enlighten them with independent thinking, as I have found to my sorrow in commenting on "global warming" and its cures.
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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
Printer Friendly Format Sponsored By

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 HIVXAIDS 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 HIVXAIDS 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 HIVXAIDS 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 HIVXAIDS, 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 HIVXAIDS 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 HIVXAIDS 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.

[spoiler title=”New York Times: Libyan Court Upholds Death Sentences” open=”0″ style=”1″] The New York Times December 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.

[/spoiler]

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.

[spoiler title=”Focus News Agency report:” open=”0″ style=”1″]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
[/spoiler]


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