Saturday, January 15, 2005
Dr. Harvey Bialy, one of the most astute and brilliant and poetic of the HIV debunkers
RE-INVENTING THE WHEEL CAN BE A GOOD THING
JANUARY 13, 2004. I'm getting a big laugh out of this one. Some days ago, Dr. Harvey Bialy, one of the most astute and brilliant and poetic of the HIV debunkers, began a little foray into a widely read blog page, Dean's World. www.deanesmay.com
Dean, the blogger in charge, was caught up short at first. HIV doesn't cause AIDS? What? Huh? How could that be?
After some careful thought and investigation, Dean was reborn. Boom.
And NOW, the postings are multiplying like rabbits on meth.
Not only that, people on both sides of the issue are, on their very own, recapitulating the arguments pro and con that have been flying under the public radar for the last 20 years. They don't know it, but that's what they're doing.
Brand new Duesbergs and Faucis and Gallos and Bialys are springing up out of the Great Womb and debating their cases.
Bialy doesn't even need to be there anymore. He can just stand back and watch.
I don't know how much longer it's going to go on, so you should go to the site and get a load of the whole thing. The posts, so far, are very civil and decent. Minds are being blown.
SQUEEZE PLAY ON SUPPLEMENTS
SQUEEZE PLAY ON SUPPLEMENTS
JANUARY 14, 2004. A new report from a prestigious government-connnected medical institute is calling for tighter regulation of nutritional supplements.
This report is timed to coincide with the final Codex push to place heavy restrictions on what supplements can be traded across national borders.
I'm told that the FDA is working with and watching Codex with great interest, as a possible prelude to trying to lower the boom on supplements sold within the US.
Reading the AP article below, you'll see that several key issues are being folded into the new report and the consequent follow-up from "medical experts": nutritional manufacturers need to step up their quality control procedures (what's actually in the capsule and how much of it is in there---this is a legitimate concern for consumers---although the US regulatory system that could govern this area will go about it in the wrong way); the inherent safety of supplements needs to be investigated in full (this is mostly nonsense because the overwhelming number of supplements are much, much safer than any drugs and have caused very, very, very few, if any, deaths around the world over the last few centuries); the efficacy of supplements in maintaining or restoring health must be tested in the same way that drugs are tested (this is complete crap---efficacy should not be the purview of the government at all, and the cost of studies that could be mandated will drive most supplement companies into bankruptcy); and health claims made by supplement manufacturers should be governed and controlled by the FDA (although some manufacturers make ridiculous health claims, we should err on the side of allowing such claims, since the supplements are inherently safe, and the consumer should be the judge of these claims).
There are already laws on the books that handle problems. If a manufacturer places poison in a pill, he is a felon. Drug companies take note. If a manufacturer can't or won't attain standard quality control, he is guilty of false advertising. No regulatory superstructure necessary in either case.
What is most alarming about the new report and the follow-up from it in the press---all these issues I listed above are being melded together, as if possible concern about one implies deep concern about all. That's the strategy. Cast a wide inclusive net. Confuse one issue with another.
As usual, the medical and government honchos are occupying the high ground, as if they and not the people set the standards and the laws. As if the medical naturally and normally trumps the nutritional.
It should, in fact, be the other way around. However, supplement manufacturers and their trade associations have long cowered in fear and abdicated any sense of mission in this struggle. They should be out front exposing the horrendous effects of pharmaceuticals and the sold-out criminal FDA. They should be playing OFFENSE and rocking the drug boys back on their heels every day. They should be paying big PR firms to take the truth to the people through the press. They are not. They are stupid and often corrupt and venal and greedy. They dream that all will be well. They have betrayed their customers through their inaction. They should be hung by their thumbs. De facto, these companies are opening doors and inviting the FDA in to make supplements into drugs, with all the accoutrements attached.
Panel wants rules for diet supplements
Friday, January 14, 2005 Posted: 11:49 AM EST (1649 GMT)
WASHINGTON (AP) -- With nearly one-fifth of Americans taking dietary supplements, the Institute of Medicine has called for tougher regulations to make sure the products are safe and do what they claim.
The institute expressed concern about the quality of dietary supplements, saying "there is little product reliability."
This makes it difficult for health professionals to guide patients in use of supplements, the report said. The panel urged that Congress take steps to require improved quality control of supplements and to provide incentives to study the efficacy of the products.
"Reliable and standardized products are needed," Dr. Stuart Bondurant, chairman of the committee that prepared the report, said at a briefing Wednesday.
In a 327-page report, the institute also urged that complimentary and alternative medical procedures, such as herbal remedies and acupuncture, be required to meet the same standards of effectiveness as conventional medical treatments.
Dr. Stephen E. Straus, director of the government's National Center for Complimentary [sic] and Alternative Medicine, said requiring the same research standards "will further the scientific investigation of this new field, increase its legitimacy as a research area and ultimately improve public health."
Unlike drugs, which must be proven safe before they can be sold, the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act allows sale of supplements unless the Food and Drug Administration can prove them harmful. The law also does not require manufacturers to report adverse reactions, as drug companies must.
Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, who has pressed for more FDA attention to supplements, believes that manufacturers should be required to report adverse events and continues to urge action against false or misleading claims, according to spokeswoman Allison Dobson.
The Institute of Medicine report said 18.9 percent of Americans reported in 2004 that they had taken a dietary supplement in the past year. The industry was responsible for $18.7 billion in sales in 2002.
A study by researchers at Harvard Medical School, also being released Wednesday, found that about 35 percent of Americans have used some form of alternative medicine
Dr. Hilary Tindle, lead author of that report, said such widespread use shows the necessity of studying the safety, efficacy and cost-effectiveness of these approaches.
The biggest change was an increase in use of herbal supplements over the five years, the study said. The practice of yoga also increased.
The Harvard report, published in the journal Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, said use of therapies such as acupuncture, biofeedback, energy healing and hypnosis remained essentially unchanged between 1997 and 2002, while the use of homeopathy, high-dose vitamins, chiropractic and massage therapy declined slightly.
Both the Harvard and IOM reports cited a failure of a majority of consumers using supplements to tell their doctors.
"This is especially critical as more becomes known about the adverse effects associated with individual dietary supplements as well as their interactions with prescription drugs," said Harvard's Tindle.
The Federal Trade Commission has reported a flurry of unfounded or exaggerated claims for supplements, the IOM report notes. It calls on Congress and federal agencies to set standards for manufacturing quality.
The Institute of Medicine is a part of the National Academy of Science, an independent organization chartered by Congress to advise the government on scientific matters. The National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine, which requested the IOM study, is part of the National Institutes of Health.
end of AP article
JON RAPPOPORT www.nomorefakenews.com
A German car salesman says that a year ago he was kidnapped in Europe, beaten and flown to a U.S. jail in Afghanistan.
In America's secret prison network
A German car salesman says that a year ago he was kidnapped in Europe, beaten and flown to a U.S. jail in Afghanistan. Now his government is collecting evidence to back up his story.
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By James Meek
Jan. 14, 2005 | A man is walking alone along a mountain path in the darkness. He is carrying a suitcase. He seems frightened, tired and confused. He has long hair and a long beard, but they are untidy, as if he did not grow them voluntarily. He turns a bend and meets three men carrying Kalashnikovs.
The man shows them his passport. It indicates that he is a German citizen, born in Lebanon, called Khaled el-Masri. Using poor English, he tells them that he does not know where he is. They tell him that he is on the Albanian border, close to Serbia and Macedonia and that he is there illegally, since he doesn't have an Albanian stamp in his passport.
The story that el-Masri tells them by way of explanation, on this evening in late May 2004, is extraordinary: a story of how an unemployed German car salesman from the town of Ulm went on a New Year's holiday to Macedonia, was seized by Macedonian police at the border, held incommunicado for weeks without charge, then beaten, stripped, shackled and blindfolded and flown to a jail in Afghanistan, run by Afghans but controlled by Americans. Five months after first being seized, he says, still with no explanation or charge, he was flown back to Europe and dumped in an unknown country that turned out to be Albania.
What really happened? With no way to prove his story, el-Masri's account remains in the balance, a terrifying snapshot of America's "war on terror." It is certain that he returned home to Ulm from Albania in May 2004, and that he was taken off a bus from Germany at the Macedonian border on New Year's Eve 2003. The only person who has offered a clear explanation for what happened in the five months in between is el-Masri himself. Yet that may change.
The German authorities are now taking his allegations very seriously. They are subjecting a sample from el-Masri's hair to radioisotope analysis, which can reveal, down to a particular country, the source of a person's food and drink over a period of time. Discussions are also underway about bringing to Germany two men whom el-Masri has identified as being with him in the Afghan prison, and who were also subsequently released. The fact that the German authorities do regard Ulm as an area of potentially dangerous radical Islamic activity -- a number of premises were raided and alleged Islamic activists were arrested on Wednesday -- only emphasizes the concern that Germany has over the el-Masri case.
So far U.S. authorities have neither confirmed nor denied el-Masri's story, although German investigators first requested information about the case in autumn. The FBI office in the U.S. Embassy in Berlin did not return calls Thursday.
On Tuesday the Guardian was the first European news organization to interview el-Masri, at the Ulm offices of his lawyer, Manfred Gnjidic. In a conversation lasting more than four hours, el-Masri conveyed a powerful impression of sincerity: If his story is not true, he must be an actor of genius. He broke down in sobs as he described the moment he was abducted by masked men and put on a plane, excused himself to vomit as he recalled the filthy water he was given to drink in jail and brightened as he described the hours before his return to Germany. Often he would pick up a pen and sketch the layout of a room or building.
If true, the abduction would add to our understanding of a pattern of U.S. behavior frightening in its implications both for America and for the rest of the world. The former director of the CIA, George Tenet, told the 9/11 Commission last year that even before Sept. 11 the United States had abducted more than 70 foreigners it considered terrorists -- a process Washington has declared legal under the label "extraordinary rendition."
An investigation by the Washington Post last year suggested that the U.S. held 9,000 people overseas in an archipelago of known prisons (such as Abu Ghraib in Iraq) and unknown ones run by the Pentagon, the CIA or other organizations. But this figure does not include others "rendered" to third-party governments who then act as subcontractors for Washington, enabling the U.S. to effectively torture detainees while technically denying that it carries out torture.
El-Masri's ordeal began, he says, when he decided to escape, for one week over New Year's, the stress of living in a single room in Ulm as the unemployed father of a family of six. On a friend's recommendation he bought a cheap bus ticket to Skopje, capital of Macedonia, intending to find a hotel when he got there.
The bus left the borders of the E.U. and crossed Serbia without incident. Then, at the Macedonian border, at 3 p.m., el-Masri was called off the bus. Now 41, he has lived in Germany for 20 years, the last 10 as a citizen. "I didn't feel bad," he says. "I just thought it was a mistake."
He was taken to a room with a table and chairs, where four men whom he took to be Slavic searched his luggage and questioned him in poor English, asking him about links to Islamic organizations. Several hours later, flanked by armed police, he was driven to a city he assumes was Skopje and escorted to the hotel room where he was to spend the next few weeks. "I asked if I was arrested," says el-Masri. "They said: 'Can you see handcuffs?'"
El-Masri was kept prisoner in the room for 23 days; Macedonian civilian police were constantly present, and he was subject to repeated interrogations about his links to Islamic organizations -- he says he has none -- and about the mosque in Ulm where he worships.
After about 10 days, a Macedonian Mr. Nice appeared. "He said it was taking a long time, too much time -- let's make an end to it, and let's make a deal. 'We have to say you are a member of al-Qaida ... then we'll put you on a plane and take you back to Germany.' I refused, naturally. It would have been suicide to sign."
But el-Masri was accused of having been to a terror training camp in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, of having a fake passport and of being in reality a citizen of Egypt. On the evening of Jan. 23, 2004, he was handcuffed, blindfolded, put in a car and told he was going to Germany. He was driven to a place where he heard the sound of a plane, then heard the voice of one of the Macedonians saying he would have a medical examination. "I heard the door being closed," says el-Masri. "And then they beat me from all sides, from everywhere, with hands and feet. With knives or scissors they took away my clothes. In silence. The beating, I think, was just to humiliate me, to hurt me, to make me afraid, to make me silent. They stripped me naked. I was terrified. They tried to take off my pants. I tried to stop them, so they beat me again. And when I was naked I heard a camera."
El-Masri breaks down as he recalls the moment when the men carried out an intrusive anal search. He was dressed in a daiper, a short-sleeved, short-legged suit and a belt. His feet were shackled and his hands were chained to the belt. His ears were plugged, and ear defenders were placed over them and a clip put on his nose. A hood was put over his blindfold. His arms raised painfully high behind his back, he was driven to an aircraft, where he was thrown down onto a bare metal floor, chained and bound, and given an injection. He was dimly aware of a landing and takeoff and a second injection before the plane landed again and he was put into the trunk of a car.
El-Masri arrived in what he later found to be his cell by being pushed violently against the wall, thrown to the floor, having feet placed on his head and his back and having his chains removed. The cell was to be his home for the next four months. From the graffiti on the wall -- in Arabic script, but not Arabic -- and the Afghan dress of the guards, he deduced that he was in Afghanistan. There was nothing in the cell except a blanket, a filthy plastic mat and a bottle of tainted water so vile that the memory of it makes him literally gag.
El-Masri soon discovered that the prison, though technically Afghan, was run from behind the scenes by the United States. His first encounter with an American was with a masked individual who spoke English with what el-Masri believes was an American accent. He had a Palestinian translator. The American took a blood sample and photographed el-Masri naked again.
"I asked him if I could have fresh water," said el-Masri. "And he said: 'It's not our problem, it's a problem of the Afghan people.' I said: 'Afghanistan doesn't have planes to kidnap people in Europe and bring them here, so it's not the problem of the Afghan people.'"
By whispering through the door and exchanging messages on pieces of toilet paper, el-Masri found out a few details about his fellow prisoners: two Saudi brothers of Pakistani origin who had been imprisoned for two years, two Tanzanians, a Pakistani, a Yemeni and several Afghans. (Gnjidic says two of the prisoners have been traced, but he didn't want to identify them for fear of putting their lives at risk.) El-Masri says the first of many interrogations was carried out by a masked man with a south Lebanese accent, with seven or eight silent observers in black masks listening in. "He said: 'Do you know where you are?' And I answered: 'Yes, I know, I'm in Kabul.' So he said: 'It's a country without laws. And nobody knows that you are here. Do you know what this means?'"
Repeatedly, he would be asked the same questions, challenging his identity, accusing him of attending terrorist training camps. Some of the interrogators, el-Masri believes, were American.
After about a month, el-Masri met two unmasked Americans whom other prisoners referred to as the "Doctor" and the "Boss." The Doctor was a tall, pale man in his 60s with gray, collar-length hair. The Boss was younger, with red hair and blue eyes, about 5 feet 10 inches and wearing glasses. Then, in March, el-Masri and the other prisoners began a hunger strike. After 27 days of starvation, he was taken in chains one night to meet the Americans and a senior Afghan. Near to hysteria, el-Masri said they had to let him go, put him before a U.S. court, let him speak to somebody from the German government or watch him starve to death.
The Boss told him he had to get Washington's permission to help him, but was clearly angry, saying: "He shouldn't be here. He's in the wrong place." "I had the impression that the Doctor thought I wasn't guilty, and had sent a report saying so even after the second interrogation," says el-Masri. Yet he was taken back to his cell, where he continued his hunger strike. Conditions in the cell improved, with a bed and a new carpet, but he was barely able to move. On the 37th day he was force-fed chocolate-flavored nutrients through a tube stuffed up his nose. El-Masri began to eat again, and the Americans brought him fresh water and promised that he would be released within three weeks.
They brought a native German speaker to the prison. "I asked him: 'Are you from the German authorities?' He said: 'I do not want to answer that question.' When I asked him if the German authorities knew that I was there, he answered: 'I can't answer this question.'" (Hofmann, the prosecutor, says the German security services do not admit to any knowledge of an agent visiting el-Masri in prison.)
It was to be more than a week before el-Masri finally got out of the prison; the German told him one of the obstacles to his speedy release was the Americans' determination not to leave any evidence that he had ever been there. He was flown to Albania in what he thinks was a small passenger jet, blindfolded and in plastic handcuffs.
When el-Masri got back to Ulm, he found his wife and four children had disappeared. They had returned to Lebanon. He traced them, brought them back and told his wife his story. "It was a crime, it was humiliating, and it was inhuman, although I think that in Afghanistan I was treated better than the other prisoners. Somebody in the prison told me that before I came somebody died under torture. Those responsible have to take responsibility and should be held to account."
Hofmann and his investigative team now have two tasks: to find evidence supporting or disproving el-Masri's story and, if they can show it is true, to work out whom to charge with kidnapping. But how do you charge a government? "For the moment," says Hofmann, "I have to believe the story, because there is no evidence that it is not true."