Tuesday, May 30, 2006
Fight against Aids is at turning point
By Andrew Jack
Published: May 30 2006 19:35 | Last updated: May 30 2006 19:35. Copyright by The Financial Times
As leaders of nations corroded by Aids gather at the United Nations in New York on Wednesday to discuss the disease, another group will be noticeably absent: leaders of the world’s richest nations who pledged them significant help five years ago.
The continued ambivalence – even as public health experts are heralding the first tentative signs of a slowdown in the growth of Aids since it was identified in 1981 – reflects both the enormity of the task ahead and the political and ethical sensitivities that underpin it.
To consign Aids to history will require not only a big injection of cash over the long term. It will also demand a consensus on how best to distribute resources between prevention, diag nosis and treatment – and a new boldness in tackling the issues that debate will throw up.
Peter Piot, head of UNAids, the United Nations’ co-ordinating body, reflects the mood of cautious optimism that has taken hold among experts in recent months. “There has been more progress in the last two years than in the previous 22,” he says. “In 1996, even working on Aids was stigmatising, let alone having it; 2005 was the least bad year yet.”
On the positive side, science has made considerable progress in treating Aids through the development of antiretroviral medicines, and politicians have mobilised strong support to secure additional funding. Last July, the leaders of the G8 leading industrialised nations pledged at Gleneagles to achieve “as close as possible” to universal treatment for those who needed it by 2010.
Spurred on by the previous UN General Assembly on Aids in 2001, the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria was created. It has since become the biggest channel for multilateral support.
Richard Feachem, its head, says: “It’s quite remarkable. Since our creation in 2002, we have committed $10bn to projects in 130 countries and the impact is now starting to be seen.”
Total support has risen substantially to more than $8bn a year, swollen further by the World Bank, bilateral programmes led by US President George W. Bush’s Pepfar and redoubled efforts by individual countries.
There has also been a sharp drop in the price of drugs, through a mixture of discounts and donation programmes by pharmaceutical companies, price competition from copycat generic manufacturers and political leverage from groups such as the Clinton Foundation.
Mr Piot can point to findings in the latest UNAids report published on Tuesday showing more than 1.3m HIV- positive people in low- and middle-income countries are now on treatment, up from 240,000 five years ago.
But it is far too soon to claim victory. Aids remains one of the world’s greatest health threats, responsible for 25m deaths since 1981. It has attacked teachers, doctors and all parts of the workforce, while creating hundreds of thousands of orphans, undermining economic development and even threatening global security.
While 700,000 people are on treatment in the developed world – a high proportion of those who need it – the 1.3m in the developing nations represents only one-fifth of those with advanced HIV who should be on drugs. Nearly 3m people died from Aids last year, including hundreds of thousands of children unable to gain access to little-researched paediatric drugs.
More worrying still, the number of new HIV cases was at its highest level ever in 2005 at 4m, while the life- prolonging effect of drugs means that a record 40m people are now living with the infection.
Against such a background, there is no doubt that more money is required. “The world is on a trajectory that will fall significantly short of the inter nationally endorsed universal access goal for 2010, leaving millions without life-saving care,” warns the International Treatment Preparedness Coalition, one advocacy group.
The failure of the World Health Organisation’s goal of “3 by 5” – or 3m on treatment by the end of 2005 – highlighted the challenges. Meeting the goal of universal treatment would mean placing and keeping up to 10m people on treatment by 2010. UNAids estimates that that will cost $23bn a year for at least a generation, or three times current spending levels.
“We are at a real turning point in the balance between optimism and despair,” says the Global Fund’s Mr Feachem. “Without full funding, the G8 pledge is just pie in the sky.”
He is forced to seek fresh support from donor countries every few months, with the latest “sixth round” recently launched with support from the UK, which is keen to see follow-through from the Gleneagles’ G8 summit it hosted last summer. Other countries were more hesitant and little of the money has been raised so far.
“Up till now, it has been about haphazard crisis management,” says Mr Piot. “Now we are starting to have a critical mass, we need a more sustainable, strategic, long-term response. The reality of dealing with Aids is it is not something we can run year by year. We need to count in decades.”
Business could do much more. For Jim Kim, the former head of the WHO’s 3-by-5 programme, that includes drug manufacturers. He believes they should sub-contract antiretroviral production to low-cost producers.
“We’ve got to get serious about establishing a humanitarian corridor,” he says. “There is no way discount programmes will meet the target of 8-10m people on treatment by 2010.”
Richard Holbrooke, president of the 215-strong Global Business Coalition on HIV/Aids, called this month for support from many more companies. They can help not only through donations, but by enhancing their own activities in offering education, testing, counselling, treatment and a pledge of non-discrimination to employees and their families.
Beyond new money, however, a second issue in the fight against Aids is how the funds should be spent. The G8 leaders, the WHO and the UN assemblies have focused primarily on accelerated treatment. They have been far less vocal about prevention and HIV-testing programmes, which lack the dramatic appeal of “saving lives now”.
Yet both drugs, and the infrastructure required to ensure people receive them consistently, mean that treatment is costly and risks diluting other health initiatives in poor countries. Prevention and testing may prove cheaper, less disruptive and more effective in tackling the causes of the epidemic.
“An increased emphasis on prevention is something that is sorely needed,” says John Tedstrom, president of Transatlantic Partners Against Aids, a charity working in the countries of the former Soviet Union to raise the profile of the issue at this year’s G8 summit in St Petersburg.
While there are some indications from UNAids that infection rates may have begun to fall in parts of Africa where they had reached saturation point, he stresses that in other regions of the world – notably Russia, China and India – the situation remains parlous. The prospect of treatment may have induced complacency that has in turn led to new infections in the US and western Europe.
Treatment on its own in any case does little to address the longer-term problem of stemming the rate of infection. The more survive thanks to antiretroviral drugs, the larger the pool of HIV-positive people. That, in turn, risks further spread of HIV – including a drug-resistant form of the virus – to others.
“If you have treatment but it’s in effective and generating resistance, you are building up a problem for the future that is going to be almost insoluble,” warns Richard Coker, reader in health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. “Personally, I would be more cautious than the international community in advising that ‘antiretrovirals for all’ is feasible and will achieve the claimed benefits. If this doesn’t work, we won’t get another opportunity to revisit it with the same sense of urgency and support.”
Most health officials are reluctant to argue for a reallocation of scarce resources. “The great lesson of the last couple of years is that there are no choices,” says Mr Feachem. “We need prevention, testing and treatment: all three, all big, all together. They feed off each other.”
Experience in the field certainly suggests that the best way to ensure people are tested for HIV is to offer them the incentive of treatment. Testing also provides an opportunity to reinforce prevention messages.
Yet if prevention and testing have been underplayed, even more neglected has been research into what works. Information on the extent and spread of drug-resistant HIV virus in the developing world is scant, for instance. The Global Fund is only now scrambling to commission a five-year evaluation of its own work and cannot even detail how its money has been split between prevention, treatment and testing.
“We don’t have the evidence of the effects on the rest of the public health system of HIV treatment, and for every prevention programme, the evidence is pretty muddled,” says Christopher Murray, professor at Harvard’s School of Public Health.
However, studies conducted in recent years point to a third barrier to enhanced Aids support. Many of the most effective methods clash with the values of countries struggling to fight the epidemic and with important funders and influences, such as the White House and the Vatican.
Research suggests the role of condom distribution in cutting infection far outweighs any resulting rise in promiscuity and that free needle-exchange and substitution programmes for hard drug users reduce transmission without creating new addicts. But the US administration emphasises abstinence and loyalty over condom use. Grant recipients must condemn sex workers and refrain from offering abortion advice. Critics say such policies risk undermining organisations best placed to tackle the epidemic, while handing funds to inexperienced religious groups.
Other challenges lie ahead: curbing violence against women, encouraging circumcision and fighting prejudice against high-risk groups such as homosexuals, prostitutes, drug addicts and prisoners.
If they are serious about turning their Aids rhetoric into reality, political leaders will need not only the financial resources to make a difference abroad but also the moral courage to defend controversial policies at home.
Scientists tested to the limit in pursuit of a fiendish target
The world was introduced to the scourge of Aids on June 5 1981, when the Centres for Disease Control in Atlanta issued a short report on a cluster of five unusual pneumonia cases among young homosexual men in Los Angeles, writes Clive Cookson. Within weeks it became clear that many gay men in the US were succumbing to opportunistic infections as their immune defences collapsed.
The cause of this frightening new epidemic – initially dubbed Grid (gay-related immune deficiency) but renamed Aids (acquired immune deficiency syndrome) when it became clear that homosexual men were not the only victims – remained a mystery until French and US scientists identified the virus now known as HIV. Margaret Heckler, the US health secretary, held a dramatic press conference in April 1984 to announce the discovery, adding that a vaccine against HIV would be available for testing in two years.
Today, an effective HIV vaccine remains a distant dream, although the scientific effort to develop one has been greater than any other vaccine research programme in history. The story on antiviral treatments for Aids is somewhat happier: combinations of anti-HIV drugs available since 1996 are estimated to prolong the life of the average patient by 13 years. But most people infected outside the industrialised world do not have access to these expensive medicines.
HIV turned out to be a fiendishly difficult target for vaccine and drug development. It is a “retrovirus”, which uses RNA rather than the usual DNA to encode its genes. This enables HIV to replicate so quickly, with so many genetic variations, that protecting against all the myriad subtypes is a formidable challenge.
The fact that the immune system is HIV’s main target makes fighting it all the harder. The virus employs several biochemical defences against immune attack, such as hiding its surface proteins from antibodies with a cloak of sugar molecules. Once HIV has taken hold in a patient, it inserts itself into the genome of human cells – making it impossible for antiviral drugs to eradicate infection completely, even though they do a good job of keeping symptoms at bay.
According to the United Nations Aids programme, funding for the development of vaccines to prevent HIV infection reached $630m (£339m, €494m) last year – up from $330m in 2000. Much of this comes from public and charitable sources and is channelled through the New York-based International Aids Vaccine Initiative. Seth Berkley, its president, argues that more money is needed to meet “perhaps the toughest public health test of our time”.
When the world is spending $20bn-$30bn a year on Aids, an HIV vaccine would be so cost-effective that expenditure of $1bn a year is justified to develop one, he says: “The problem is that, from the start, Aids has been seen as an emergency – which has given too much short-term and not enough long-term emphasis to Aids research and development.”
There are good scientific reasons to believe that an effective Aids vaccine will eventually emerge. “One is that vaccines can protect monkeys against infection with SIV [the simian version of HIV]. Another is that a few people who are repeatedly exposed to HIV do not become infected, while others manage to hold the infection down with their own immune system without developing Aids,” says Dr Berkley.
There have been more than 70 clinical trials of candidate Aids vaccines and about 30 are still in progress. But almost all are on a small scale. “It is shocking that only one Aids vaccine has gone through a full-scale Phase III clinical trial,” says Dr Berkley. That one, from VaxGen of the US, failed to demonstrate efficacy.
Among the large vaccine manufacturers, Merck of the US and Aventis Pasteur of France are most active in Aids research. Dr Berkley says a Merck vaccine in early-stage trials in the US is “one to watch”.
The human immune system has two arms, one working through antibodies and the other through cells. Almost all the vaccines in clinical trials today are based on cellular immunity. If a dual approach, involving both cellular and antibody-based vaccines, is required to give adequate protection, then another 10 years of development work will probably be needed.
In contrast, the first antiviral drug for Aids, AZT, was approved in 1987. AZT had serious side-effects, the pills had to be taken every four hours and HIV soon evolved resistance to it. But its availability did wonders for patients’ morale. Under pressure from Aids activist groups, drawn originally from the gay community, the pharmaceutical industry accelerated the development of other drugs that worked in different ways to AZT and could be used in combination with it.
“Aids activists in the late 1980s and early 1990s led the way for patient groups in other areas to become involved in clinical trials,” says Nick Partridge, long-serving chief executive of the Terrence Higgins Trust, the leading UK Aids charity. “The activists fought with the drug companies for a while but they soon developed a more collaborative relationship with the industry.”
Since 1996 the benchmark for Aids treatment has been “highly active anti-retroviral therapy” or Haart. This cocktail of three or four medicines is needed because the virus becomes resistant to combinations far more slowly than to individual drugs. “The biggest advance over the past five years has been to lighten the patient’s ‘pill burden’ by combining different drugs in single capsules and developing long-acting versions of them,” says Mr Partridge. “In 1997 it was not uncommon to have to remember to take 20 or 25 pills a day; now the dose might be two pills a day.”
The US Food and Drug Administration has approved 27 HIV products, including new combinations of existing drugs. Most stop the virus replicating by blocking an essential enzyme, though the newest approach is the “entry inhibitor” represented by Roche’s Fuzeon, which stops HIV getting into human cells.
Datamonitor, the business information company, estimates that the total HIV drug market will rise from $6.6bn in 2004 – a figure based on IMS Health sales data – to $12bn in 2015. Morris Paterson, senior Datamonitor healthcare analyst, says only one or two entirely new drugs are likely to enter the market before 2009, though new treatments will be launched at a faster rate after 2010. Products available today will still represent 62 per cent of the HIV market in 2015.
GlaxoSmithKline, which launched the first HIV drug, AZT, still has 38 per cent of the market, with Bristol-Myers Squibb second (22 per cent) and Abbott third (14 per cent). Datamonitor expects all three to have their share cut substantially over the next 10 years, as newcomers and generics enter the market.
According to Dr Paterson, the most promising newcomer is Tibotec, a Belgian pharmaceutical development company bought by Johnson & Johnson of the US in 2002, which has three HIV products in clinical trials. Pfizer could do well with Maraviroc, first of a new category of anti-HIV drugs called CCR5 inhibitors.
Although there is no prospect of a permanent cure for Aids in the foreseeable future, Mr Partridge of the Terrence Higgins Trust believes the drugs industry has done a good job with its HIV research and development. “People who said that Aids activists would drive pharmaceutical R&D away from this field were wrong,” he says. “The reality is that combination therapy is still highly effective for the vast majority of people with HIV.”
THE AGE OF AIDS: FROM OBSCURITY TO EPIDEMIC
■1930/40s: Aids starts in Cameroon, passed from chimpanzees to people. The disease slowly propagates in central Africa, unknown to medical science.
■1959:The earliest known case of HIV infection, identified retrospectively (in 1998) in a long-stored blood sample from the Congo.
■1981: Centres for Disease Control, Atlanta, recognise an unusual cluster of pneumonia cases in gay men.
■1983: Luc Montagnier and colleagues in France discover the virus that causes Aids. This is later identified independently by Robert Gallo in the US and becomes known as HIV.
■1987: Wellcome (now part of GlaxoSmithKline) launches the first anti-HIV drug, AZT.
■1996: New drug combinations, known as highly active anti-retroviral therapy, keep HIV infection under control without unacceptable side-effects.
■2001: First United Nations General Assembly session on Aids produces a big funding commitment from rich countries.
■2005:G8 meeting pledges universal access to Aids drugs in Africa by 2010.
Sunday, May 28, 2006
HIV's Ancestry Traced to Wild Chimps
By LAURAN NEERGAARD
Copyright by The Associated Press
Thursday, May 25, 2006; 8:56 PM
WASHINGTON -- Twenty-five years after the first AIDS cases emerged, scientists have confirmed that the HIV virus plaguing humans really did originate in wild chimpanzees, in a corner of Cameroon.
Solving the mystery of HIV's ancestry was dirty work. Scientists employed trackers to plunge through dense jungle and collect the fresh feces of wild apes _ more than 1,300 samples in all.
Before that, it took seven years of research just to develop the testing methods to genetically trace the primate version of the virus in living wild chimps without hurting the endangered species.
Until now, "no one was able to look. No one had the tools," said Dr. Beatrice Hahn of the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She led the team of international researchers that reported the success in Friday's edition of the journal Science.
"We're 25 years into this pandemic," Hahn said. "We don't have a cure. We don't have a vaccine. But we know where it came from. At least we can make a check mark on one of those."
Scientists long have known that nonhuman primates carry their own version of the AIDS virus, called SIV or simian immunodeficiency virus. But with one exception, it had been found only in captive chimpanzees, particularly a subspecies that in the wild populates mostly West Africa.
It was not known how prevalent the virus was in chimps in the wild, or how genetically or geographically diverse it was, complicating efforts to pin down the jump from animal to man.
Hahn's team tested chimp feces for SIV antibodies, finding them in a subspecies called Pan troglodytes troglodytes in southern Cameroon.
Chimps tend to form geographically distinct communities. By genetically analyzing the feces, researchers could trace individual infected chimps. The team found some chimp communities with infection rates as high as 35 percent, while others had no infection at all.
Every single infected chimp had a common base genetic pattern that indicated a common ancestor, Hahn said.
There are three types of HIV-1, the strain of the human virus responsible for most of the worldwide epidemic. Genetic analysis let Hahn identify chimp communities near Cameroon's Sanaga River whose viral strains are most closely related to the most common of those HIV-1 subtypes.
"The genetic similarity was striking," Hahn said.
The first human known to be infected with HIV was a man from Kinshasa in the nearby country of Congo who had his blood stored in 1959 as part of a medical study, decades before scientists knew the AIDS virus existed.
Presumably, someone in rural Cameroon was bitten by a chimp or was cut while butchering one and became infected with the ape virus. That person passed it to someone else.
The Sanaga River long has been a commercial waterway, for transporting hardwood, ivory and other items to more urban areas. Eventually, someone infected made it to Kinshasa.
"How many different transmission events occurred between that initial hunter and this virus making it to Kinshasa, I don't know. It could have been one, it could have been 10, it could have been 100," Hahn said. "Eventually, it ended up in an urban area, and that's where it really got going."
Somewhere in all that spread, the virus became more deadly to people than it is to chimps, who seldom are bothered much by SIV.
The research seems to settle any question of HIV's origin, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the National Institutes of Health's AIDS chief.
When tracing a virus' evolution, "it's important to get as close to the source as you can," he said. "It's of historic interest."
Monday, October 24, 2005
The Nazi Connection/Appartheid
Disclaimer: The following web references were used when writing this and although the factual information came from these sources, the originating sites may have drawn different conclusions from the same facts. The author of this piece has a strength with abstract reasoning along with logical reasoning thus, tends to see what is left out of the facts or what a person or governing authority is hiding with facts, false facts, or by silence. The referring sites may have seen the same facts and not had similar conclusions. The author does however welcome criticism and correction if facts or inferences are incorrect and will change the site if proven incorrect. The author also welcomes others to dig into the missing facts that she was unable to find to do further research for their own publications, please see what the author would have liked to have had in the section called "NEEDING FURTHER RESEARCH". http://www.bigeye.com/sexeducation/nazivirusprojects.html
1. A Question of Madness: Demitrios Tsafendas, Assassin of Verwoerd (http://www.mnet.co.za/CarteBlanche/Display/Display.asp?Id=1791)
2. Angels of Death: Nazi Doctors (http://www.shoah.dk/doctors/index.htm)
3. Archives: Institute for the Study of Academic Racism (http://www.ferris.edu/isar/archives/billig/chapter1.htm)
4. Article on HIV Mutations/Manipulations: Breakdown of HIV Types (www.bigeye.com/sexeducation/nazivirusprojects.html)
5. Biography: Daniel François Malan http://www.gospelcom.net/dacb/stories/southafrica/malan_daniel.html)
6. not needed
7. Biography: Eugen Haagen (Italian) (http://www.olokaustos.org/bionazi/leaders/haagen.htm)
8. Boris Pash of CIA Recruits Haagen Into Paperclip Program (http://www.angelfire.com/ca3/jphuck/BOOK3Ch2.html)
9. Crying Hands: Eugenics Doctors in the Universities (http://gupress.gallaudet.edu/CHintro2.html)
10. Devil Doctors from Nazi Holocaust (http://www.cchr.org/religion/page49.htm)
11. Did Modern Medicine Spread an Epidemic? (http://www.stanford.edu/class/stat30/web1/aids2.html)
12. Discovery of Hepatitis G Virus (http://www.kfshrc.edu.sa/annals/172/96-278.html)
13. Dr. Arnold Dohmen Conducted Hepatitis Experiments at Sachsenhausen (http://www.holocaustchronicle.org/StaticPages/384.html)
14. Dr. Eugen Fischer Writes Racial Origin and Earliest Racial History of the Hebrews (http://www.faem.com/weber/raceorig.htm)
15. Dr. Haagen's Involvement in Typhus Experiments (http://www.mazal.org/archive/nmt/02/NMT02-T0212.htm)
16. Dr. Hendrik Verwoerd: Psychiatry and South Africa (http://www.cchr.org/racism/pasa1.htm)
17. not needed
18. Dr. Otmar Freirherr von Verschuer Writes Racial Biology of the Jews in Otmar Freiherr (http://www.faem.com/weber/jewbio.htm)
19. Executive Intelligence Review V21: Eugenics/Assassination (http://www.bigeye.com/sexeducation/nazivirusprojects.html)
20. Eugen Haagen Testifying on Behalf of Dr. Ding (http://www.mazal.org/archive/nmt/01/NMT01-T606.htm)
21. General von Trotha (http://www.hartford-hwp.com/archives/35/181.html)
22. Global Eugenics and the Psychiatric/Eugenic Holocaust (http://www.geocities.com/savepenry/nazi.html)
23. Grandson of Apartheid Prime Minister Tells How He Overcame Racist Past (http://www.bigeye.com/sexeducation/nazivirusprojects.html)
24. Hepatitis D Fact Sheet (http://hopkins-id.edu/diseases/hepatitis/hdv_faq.html)
25. Hepatitis D: Incomplete RNA Virus (http://hopkins-id.edu/diseases/hepatitis/hdv_faq.html)
26. Hepatitis G in Czechoslovakia (http://www.e-globals.net/web/strakrle/Ghtml.asp)
27. Hepatitis G Might Be Sexually Transmitted (http://www.hepnet.com/hepg/hgvnews7.html)
28. Herero War, Part 1 (http://content.miw.com.sg/LifeStyle/Military/ls_military01_20030221.asp)
29. Herero War, Part 2 (http://www.klausdierks.com/)
30. History of Namibia by Dr. Klaus Dierks (http://www.klausdierks.com/)
31. Holocaust Discussion: Blacks in Germany and Africa (http://www.bigeye.com/sexeducation/nazivirusprojects.html)
32. Imperialism and Genocide in Namibia (http://www.socialistaction.org/news/199904/namibia.html)
33. In the Name of Science: Role of Biologists in Nazi Atrocities (http://www.nature.com/cgi-taf/DynaPage.taf?file=/embor/journal/v2/n10/full/embor304.html)
34. Its Past on Its Sleeve: Tribe Seeks Bonn's Apology (http://www.outjo.com/hereronyt.htm)
35. "Jaundice" Hepatitis Experiments: Nuremberg Military Tribunal (http://www.mazal.org/archive/nmt/01/NMT01-T495.htm)
36. Lentiviral Vectors and Gene Therapy (http://biology.kenyon.edu/courses/biol114/Chap05/Chapter05.html)
37. Men Behind Hitler (http://www.toolan.com/hitler/useless.html)
38. Namibia 1904: The First Concentration Camps and Genocide (http://www.ppu.org.uk/genocide/g_namibia1.html)
39. Nazi Doctors (http://www.webster.edu/~woolflm/nazidocsandothers.html)
40. Nazi Success With Nephritis Virus and Hepatitis Virus Experiments (http://www.mazal.org/NO-series/NO-0124-000.htm)
41. "Nature's" 1913 Appraisal of Fischer's Book (http://www.clarku.edu/~piltdown/map_receptionfav/antiqandevolution.html)
42. Nephritis Reference to Hepatitis Patients: Case 1 Group B Learning Issues (http://www.msms.iu.edu/PBL%20X503%20Spring%202003/Group%20B/Case%201%20Group%20B.htm)
43. Origin of AIDS Virus: Delhi Science Forum (http://www.cnn.com/HEALTH/9802/03/earliest.aids/)
44. Preliminary Resources on Human Experimentation by Nazi Doctors (http://www.bigeye.com/sexeducation/nazivirusprojects.html)
45. Project Paperclip: US Government Buying Nazi Doctors (http://www.namebase.org/sources/OZ.html)
46. Race Science: Screening the German Volk (http://www.bigeye.com/sexeducation/nazivirusprojects.html)
47. Requests for Healthy People to Infect Them with Diseases (http://www.mazal.org/NO-series/A-NO-Index-003.htm)
48. Rockefeller, Mass Murder and Nazis (http://raenergy.igc.org/eugenics.html)
49. Sachsenhausen Liberated by Russia: Falls Behind Iron Curtain (http://motlc.wiesenthal.com/text/x29/xm2926.html)
50. Scientific Background of the Nazi Eugenics Program (http://www.trufax.org/avoid/nazi.html)
51. South Africa: A Brief History (http://www.southafrica-travel.net/history/eh_menu.htm)
52. Splicing RNA (http://biology.kenyon.edu/courses/biol114/Chap05/Chapter05.html)
53. SS Personnel List at Auschwitz (http://www.axishistory.com/)
54. UCT Scientists Link Hepatitis G to GlomeruloNephritis (http://web.uct.ac.za/depts/dpa/monpaper/98-no7/kirsch.htm)
55. Uncovering the Black Holocaust (http://social.chass.ncsu.edu/jouvert/v1i2/Delroy.htm)
56. United States v. Karl Brandt: Dr. Grawitz Committed Suicide (http://www.e-globals.net/web/strakrle/Ghtml.asp)
57. War Crimes and Criminals: Web Genocide Documentation Centre (http://www.ess.uwe.ac.uk/genocide/war_criminals.htm)
John Edgar Hoover
• Patient Zero - In general, the term Patient Zero refers to the central or initial patient in the population sample of an epidemiological investigation. In particular, it refers to Gaëtan Dugas (1953 - 1984), a Canadian airline steward who was Patient Zero for an early epidemiological study on HIV by the Centers for Disease Control. His sexual partners were surveyed for the disease in order to demonstrate that it was sexually transmitted. Several of them were among the first few hundred to be diagnosed with AIDS. A misconception holds that he was the first person to introduce HIV into North America. This myth was promoted by sensationalism surrounding Randy Shilts' book And The Band Played On and the movie based upon it. He is referred to as 'Patient Zero' not because he was the first to be diagnosed with the disease but rather because at least 40 of the 248 people diagnosed with AIDS by April 1982 had either had sex with him or with someone who had. The CDC certainly did not conclude that Dugas had introduced HIV into North America, nor was he the first to have his infection identified. In fact, many AIDS cases had been identified in North America prior to Patient Zero. Furthermore, later research has cast doubt on the validity of the conclusions that actually were advanced. At the time, it was believed that HIV incubated for about one year. The patients that were studied due to their contact with Patient Zero had their symptoms emerge on an average of eleven months after having sex with him. Now that the incubation time of HIV is known to be longer, it is highly unlikely that any of Patient Zero's sexual partners studied were initially infected by him. In addition to And The Band Played On, Patient Zero was a character in the Canadian film Zero Patience, which refutes the myth along with many other misconceptions surrounding HIV and AIDS.
http://www.avert.org/origins.htm and http://www.nationmaster.com/encyclopedia/Patient-Zero
A Monsignor's Closet
August 20, 2005
When last we heard from the rector at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Monsignor Eugene Clark, it was April of 2002, when he made headlines amid the priest sexual abuse scandal, practically calling for a new Spanish Inquisition, this time directed solely at homosexuals.
Standing in one Sunday for the befuddled and hiding Cardinal Egan – under attack for having ignored abusive priests – Clark, rector at what is arguably the seat of the Catholic Church in America, ranted that homosexuality is a "disorder" and said it was a "grave mistake" to allow gays into the priesthood, blaming them for the sex abuse scandal. Clark has long upheld the Vatican belief that homosexuals – and the liberals who support them – are bringing down society, and, of course, want to destroy the institution of marriage. He also attacked those who are critical of celibacy.
Now here is Monsignor Clark, three years later, at the age of 79, exposed last week as engaging in an adulterous affair with a married women 30 years younger, proving that the greatest threat to marriage is in fact pompous, hypocritical, heterosexual men who can’t keep their dicks to themselves even as they become octogenarians.
There is a God!
"The next time somebody gets a lecture from a priest on the necessity of sexual restraint, their first reaction might be one of cynicism,” commented the Church’s own pitbull, William Donohue of the Catholic League, perhaps the first time I’ve ever agreed with him on anything. But in fact, many people have been reacting to the Vatican with cynicism for a long time, and certainly since the abuse scandal. This is just more wood on the fire, sadly confirming that they’ve learned not a damn thing.
Clark resigned last week, even though he denied the charge – which came from the husband of his secretary, Laura DeFilippo, filed in divorce papers – claiming he and the woman had a platonic relationship. But there are apparently videotapes of Clark and his gal pal going to a motel in the Hamptons and staying for five hours, each coming out in a new set of clothes. Clark is either pioneering an innovative new form of confession – driving 90 miles from the cramped church confessional to a beach motel in a swank resort area, for five hours of confession that involves a change of attire as penance – or they were screwing big time.
Adultery, however, wasn’t the only deception in gay-basher Clark’s closet. As I wrote in a column back in 2002 when he launched his antigay tirade, Clark dutifully worked as secretary for – and covered up for -- one of the most notorious, powerful and sexually voracious homosexuals in the American Catholic Church’s history: the politically connected Francis Cardinal Spellman, known as "Franny" to assorted Broadway chorus boys and others, who was New York’s cardinal from 1939 until his death in 1967. (The piece I wrote – “Cardinal Spellman’s Dark Legacy” – is included in my new collection of articles, Hitting Hard.)
Spellman, as I wrote, was the epitome of the self-loathing, closeted, evil queen, working with his good friend, the closeted gay McCarthy henchman Roy Cohn, to undermine liberalism in America during the 1950s’ communist and homosexual witch hunts. He, in many ways, is almost single-handedly responsible for ushering in the American Catholic church’s more punitive, authoritarian stances and reactions to the sexual revolution, feminism and gay rights.
Gore Vidal has long alluded to Spellman’s, homosexuality, once commenting that, "the serious crimes of Spellman were not sexual,” implying of course that the most serious crime was the arrogant and reckless hypocrisy, just as in the case of Monsignor Clark, who was Spellman’s right-hand man during the years he was getting some on the side, obviously teaching Clark a thing or two.
The original bound galleys of former Wall Street Journal reporter John Cooney’s Spellman biography, The American Pope -- published in 1984 by Times Books, which was then owned by The New York Times Company -- included four pages on Spellman’s homosexuality. (In a hideous example of the church’s power and The New York Times’ fears in those days, these pages were removed, the details of which are recounted in the piece in Hitting Hard). Cooney had included interviews with several notable individuals who knew Spellman as gay. Among Cooney’s interview subjects was C.A. Tripp, the noted researcher affiliated with Dr. Alfred C. Kinsey of the Institute for Sex Research – and author of the controversial book published last year, The Intimate World of Abraham Lincoln, which brought forth evidence of the former president’s homosexual relationships.
Tripp died in May of 2003. In a telephone interview I conducted with him a year before his death, Tripp told me that his information about Spellman came from a Broadway dancer in the show One Touch of Venus who had a relationship with Spellman back in the 1940s; the prelate would have his limousine pick up the dancer several nights a week and bring him back to his place. Tripp told me that when the dancer once asked Spellman how he could get away with this, Spellman answered, "Who would believe that?" The anecdote is also recounted in John Loughery’s history of gay life in the 20th century, The Other Side of Silence.
"In New York’s clerical circles, Spellman’s sex life was a source of profound embarrassment and shame to many priests," Cooney had written in the original manuscript of his book. The archdiocese exploded after it got wind of the information, and became determined to stop it from being published. None other than the current gay-basher Monsignor Clark, in an interview with the Times, called the assertions "preposterous," commenting that "if you had any idea of [Spellman’s] New England background" you’d realize these were "foolish" charges.
That ridiculous explanation is consistent with Clark’s current claims that there was nothing out of the ordinary about his going with a woman to a beach motel for five hours and a change of clothes. The woman’s husband, Philip DeFilippo, told the press his wife “frequently” spent weekends with Monsignor Clark at his beach house in Amagansett on the South Fork of Long Island, and sometimes even brought the couples two kids with her – allegedly exposing them to an adulterous affair even as he’s railing against child abuse!
Clark appears to be as arrogant and intoxicated with power as his self-loathing mentor. And I have no doubt the church will sweep this under the rug just as did Spellman’s hypocrisy. Let’s be glad, at least, that this one was brought down in his own lifetime and before he could do any more damage.
The Church and its Cardinals
• Members of the Catholic clergy have been involved in many pedophilia scandals in the past and continue to become involved in them today. It is extremely difficult to obtain estimates of how many due to the secrecy invoked by the Catholic Church. In many cases, the victims and their families are forced to remain silent on the issue to receive their settlement and we cannot expect the Catholic Church to come out and publicize the wrongs of its clergy. (Sacred Silence: Denial and the Crisis in the Church by Donald Cozzens ")
• Francis Joseph Spellman, later Francis Cardinal Spellman (May 4 1889 – December 2, 1967) was the 9th bishop (6th archbishop) of the Roman Catholic Diocese of New York. Born in Whitman, MA, graduated from North American College in Rome and was ordained a priest on May 14th 1916. Appointed Archbishop of New York on April 15, 1939, elevated to Cardinal on February 18,1946 where he served until his death. He is interred in the crypt under the altar of St. Patrick’s cathedral. In 1942 Spellman formed a liaison with a chorus boy who appeared in One Touch of Venus. The archconservative Spellman was the epitome of the self-loathing, closeted, evil queen, working with his good friend, the closeted gay McCarthy henchman Roy Cohn, to undermine liberalism in America during the 1950s' communist and homosexual witch hunts. The church has squelched Spellman's not-so-secret gay life quite successfully, most notably by pressuring The New York Times to don the drag of the censor back in the 1980s. The Times today may be out front exposing every little nasty detail in the Catholic Church's abuse scandal-a testament to both the more open discussion of such issues today and the church's waning power in New York-but not even 20 years ago the Times was covering up Spellman's sexual secrets many years after his death, clearly fearful of the church's revenge if the paper didn't fall in line. (During Spellman's reign and long afterward, all of New York's newspapers in fact cowered before the Catholic Church. On Spellman's orders New York's department stores-owned largely by Catholics-pulled ads from the then-liberal New York Post in the 1950s after publisher Dorothy Schiff wrote commentary critical of his right-wing positions; Schiff was forced to back down on her positions.) In the original bound galleys of former Wall Street Journal reporter John Cooney's Spellman biography, The American Pope-published in 1984 by Times Books, which was then owned by the New York Times Co.-Spellman's gay life was recounted in four pages that included interviews with several notable individuals who knew Spellman as a closeted homosexual. Among Cooney's interview subjects was C.A. Tripp, the noted researcher affiliated with Dr. Alfred C. Kinsey of the Institute for Sex Research, who shared information that he had on Spellman regarding the prelate's homosexuality. In a telephone interview with Tripp last week, he told me that his information came from a Broadway dancer in the show One Touch of Venus who had a relationship with Spellman back in the 1940s; the prelate would have his limousine pick up the dancer several nights a week and bring him back to his place. When the dancer once asked Spellman how he could get away with this, Tripp says Spellman answered, "Who would believe that?" The anecdote is also recounted in John Loughery's history of gay life in the 20th century, The Other Side of Silence. "In New York's clerical circles, Spellman's sex life was a source of profound embarrassment and shame to many priests," Cooney had written in the original manuscript of his book. When Mitchell Levitas, who was then the editor of The New York Times Book Review, received the manuscript for review, he realized it was a book that would make big news; he sent the book over to Arthur Gelb, who was then the managing editor of The New York Times. Gelb assigned reporter Ed McDowell to the story. McDowell interviewed Cooney, and went about interviewing others who were relevant to the story, including church officials. The archdiocese, however, went ballistic when presented with the information, and became determined to keep it from being published. Chief among those orchestrating the cleansing of Spellman's past sex life was none other than the current gay-basher Monsignor Clark, who, in an interview with the Times, called the assertions "preposterous," commenting that "if you had any idea of [Spellman's] New England background" you'd realize these were "foolish" charges. (I guess there are no homosexuals north of Connecticut, right?) The church sent John Moore, the retired U.S. ambassador to Ireland and a close friend and confidant of several church officials, to appeal to Sidney Gruson, then vice chairman of the New York Times Co. "The Times was going to report that Cardinal Spellman was a homosexual," Moore later told journalist Eric Nadler, who wrote a piece for Forum about the ugly little cover-up, "and I was determined to stop it." Moore told Nadler that this was the "third or fourth" time he had appealed to the Times regarding a sensitive church matter. "They've always done the right thing," he said. As Cooney describes it, he was soon told by his editors at Times Books that his sourcing wasn't good enough, and that the four pages would have to be cut. He could keep a paragraph that alluded to the "rumors," but he would have to state that the rumors had been strongly contested by many people-even though, in his research, that had not truly been the case. The discussion of Spellman's homosexuality in the book was reduced to mere speculation, which was branded as irrelevant: For years rumors abounded about Cardinal Spellman being a homosexual. As a result, many felt-and continue to feel-that Spellman the public moralist may well have been a contradiction of the man of the flesh. Others within the Church and outside have steadfastly dismissed such claims. Finally, to make an absolute statement about Spellman's sexual activities is to invite an irresolvable debate and to deflect attention from his words and deeds. The dutiful Times then had another former U.S. ambassador to Ireland and friend of the Church, William V. Shannon, review The American Pope for the Book Review. Shannon's review was scathing, attacking Cooney for even bringing the subject up at all: "Prurient interest in the sex lives of public figures serves no useful purpose." A Jesuit priest wrote a letter to the Book Review, published a few weeks later: "Cardinal Spellman's sex life does not matter, but [his] homosexuality does... It matters to thousands of people whose jobs, relationships and whose very lives are threatened because of their sexuality, all the while being forced to view and eat the hypocrisy of their church. And it enrages people that church men and women can retain their jobs, hiding behind their clerical and religious statutes while their own people suffer persecution, disease and discrimination." Sadly, the Jesuit's words still ring true today, almost 20 years later. While Spellman has been long dead, his legacy of hypocrisy lives on: there are closeted homosexuals-often condemning "sexual immorality" publicly while having gay sex privately-throughout the uppermost echelons of the church today. The gay movement in the past 15 years has taken on the Hollywood closet and the Washington political closet, both with dramatic success-and both those institutions have p.r. operations far more sophisticated than the Vatican's antiquated machine, which can't even seem to get the aging cardinals to attend a press conference. The media these days also has a much greater appetite for exposing sexual hypocrisy, and is no longer cowed by the Catholic Church. Going down this treacherous road of increased gay-bashing and scapegoating, the Vatican perhaps doesn't realize what it may be unleashing upon itself. If I were a closeted bishop or cardinal in America, I would be very afraid. (http://encyclopedia.thefreedictionary.com/Francis%20Cardinal%20Spellman)
• Giuseppe Cardinal Siri (20 May 1906 - 2 May 1989) was a senior cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. As Archbishop of Genoa, he was one of the more conservative Catholic prelates of the Second Vatican Council. He had been raised to the cardinalate by Pope Pius XII. It has been claimed that Siri was in fact elected to the papacy twice; in 1958 and 1963 (even announcing in the Papal Conclave that he wished to be known as Pope Gregory XVII) but that on both occasions when faced with threats that Catholics in the Eastern Bloc would face persecution on account of his fiercely anti-Soviet Union opinions in the event of his assuming the papacy, he declined the Papal Tiara, a not unknown occurrence. Given that the conduct of papal conclaves is strictly confidential and that any cardinal revealing the details would face instant excommunication, no documentary evidence has ever been proven to substantiate or disprove the widely claimed rumor. Siri was a leading candidate for the papacy in both the August and October 1978 conclaves that followed the deaths of Pope Paul VI and Pope John Paul I respectively. Media reports suggested that Siri in fact topped the first count of votes in the August conclave but ultimately was beaten by Albino Cardinal Luciani, who became Pope John Paul I. Following Luciani's death in the papacy, Siri was the leading conservative candidate against Giovanni Benelli, the leading liberal candidate. Vatican writers suggested that the eventual winner, Karol Wojtyla, who became Pope John Paul II, was chosen as a compromise candidate between the two. Though championed by conservative Catholics following the widespread rumors that he had actually been elected to the papacy in 1958 and 1963 (when the eventual winners were Angelo Cardinal Roncalli (Pope John XXIII) and Giovanni Cardinal Montini (Pope Paul VI)) Siri remaining in full communion with the Catholic Church and refused to support any sedevacantist conservative catholic organization. He died on 2nd May 1989. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giuseppe_Cardinal_Siri)
• Pope Pious XII Maria Giuseppe Giovanni Eugenio Pacelli (March 2, 1876 - October 9, 1958) was the Roman Catholic pope from March 2, 1939 to 1958. He was the only pope to exercise his Extraordinary (Solemn) Magisterium (that is, to claim Papal Infallibility) in the 20th century when he formally defined the dogma of the Assumption in his 1950 his encyclical Munificentissimus Deus. Pius's actions and inactions during World War II have become a matter of major dispute. Pope John Paul II in the 1990s proclaimed him Venerable, a step on the road to sainthood. As Papal Secretary of State, Pacelli signed a concordat with the German government (see image). The signing of the concordat proved controversial in hindsight, being described by some historians and by critics of the Roman Catholic Church as giving Hitler's regime international acceptance, given that at the time it was signed, the Enabling Act of March 23 had already granted Hitler dictatorial powers; mass arrests and book burnings had taken place, and the first official concentration camp, Dachau, had been created (though the concentration camps and their usage did not become widely known until some years later). All political parties except for the NSDAP had effectively been dissolved by July 14. On 2 March 1939, Pacelli became the first Secretary of State since 1667 to become pope; he took the name Pope Pius XII. Pius XII's role during World War II has been a source of major controversy. What is universally agreed is that Pope Pius XII followed a policy of public neutrality during the Second World War mirroring that of Pope Benedict XV during the First World War. Pius's main argument for that policy was twofold. That public condemnation of Hitler and Nazism would have achieved little of practical benefit, given that his condemnation could effectively be censored and so unknown to German Catholics (who in any case had been told as early as the early 1930s by the German Roman Catholic hierarchy that Nazism and Catholicism were incompatible). Secondly, Pius argued that had he condemned Nazism more aggressively, the result would have been repression of Roman Catholicism within Nazi Germany, making low level work against Nazi policies at parish and diocese level difficult, in turn cutting off secret escape routes which were used by many Jews, Gypsies and homosexuals to escape deportation to Nazi extermination camps. Historians differ in their acceptance of this justification for Pope Pius XII's policies. Adolf Hitler wanted to kidnap Pope Pious XII during WWII. Avventure (Italian Catholic Daily Jan 14, 2005) says that the Nazi commander in Rome warned the pope in 1944 of Hitler’s Abduction plan. The newspaper cited a written statement by Gen. Karl Wolff, the head of the SS in German-occupied Rome, saying that Hitler consider the pope a “friend of the Jews” The major question that arises is why Pius XII did not raise his voice in public forcefully against the Nazi cruelty. Here are some possible answers to this question, given by Catholic writers: No successful results could be expected, public condemnation would have had little influence on the Nazi authorities, and it could endanger other activities that were still possible. Speaking publicly would harm the Jews, whom the pope in fact wanted to help. Some of the victims could still be saved, but only through discreet private interventions. A public intervention against the German government could provoke a schism among German Catholics, as well as measures against the Vatican and the head of the church. Pius XII's hope of acting as a mediator in the war was incompatible with the condemnation of any one of the belligerents; he could forfeit any claim to the role of peacemaker if he once modified his position of neutrality. The international character of the Catholic Church, its freedom from politics, and its impartiality toward all belligerents. The fear that the Gestapo might seize the pope and the Vatican. The alarm caused by the increasing threat of communism to eastern Europe. The controversy about Pius XII and the Holocaust is still open. At the end of his visit to Israel in 1964, Pope Paul VI came to Pius's defense in Jerusalem. On March 12, 1979, Pope John Paul II met with Jewish leaders in Rome and said: "I am happy to evoke in your presence today the dedicated and effective work of my predecessor Pius XII on behalf of the Jewish people." In a meeting with American Jewish leaders in September 1987 in Miami, John Paul II again recalled the positive attitude of Pius XII. However, his passivity in the face of the Holocaust remains a controversial subject. (http://motlc.wiesenthal.com/pages/t060/t06078.html)
• Albino Luciani (October 17, 1912 - September 28, 1978), was elected pope on August 26 1978 and died 33 days later on 28 September 1978, after one of the shortest reigns in papal history. He was elected at the third ballot of the Papal Conclave, and this quick choice has been seen as a sign of probably rapidly achieved unanimous consensus. The reason for the selection was generally believed to be linked to the severe divisions between rival camps within the College of Cardinals; between conservatives and Curialists supporting Giuseppe Cardinal Siri, but who was fiercely opposed by liberals and supporters of Vatican II, some Vatican II supporters and some Italian cardinals supporting Giovanni Cardinal Benelli, others passionately opposing him because of his 'autocratic' tendencies, the dwindling band of supporters of Sergio Cardinal Pignedoli, himself so confident that he was papabile that he went on a crash diet to fit the right size of white cassock when elected. Outside the Italians, now themselves a dwindling band within the increasingly internationalist College of Cardinals, were figures like Karol Cardinal Wojtyla, "the foreigner" whom John Paul I predicted would succeed him. (Luciani didn't name this 'foreigner', just repeated that he had sat facing him in the Conclave. The seating plans in the Sistine Chapel for the August 1978 conclave showed that the man opposite Luciani was Wojtyla.) . Many, including the cardinals, expected a long conclave, deadlocked between the camps. Luciani was an easy compromise; a pastor more in the spirit of Vatican II than an austere intellectual, a man with little autocratic pretensions and so less unwelcome to some than Benelli (who in a double blow was on the brink of being made Secretary of State only to lose the appointment with John Paul I's death, and who came within a handful of votes of being elected pope in the October conclave, only to be overtaken by Wojtyla). And for Italian cardinals, determined not to 'lose' the papacy to a non-Italian for the first time in centuries and faced with other controversial Italian candidates, Luciani was an Italian with no baggage; no enemies created through a high profile career in the Curia, no controversial or radical statements or sermons, just a smiling gentle man, a pastor. Who Albino Luciani was said to have been as important as who he was. Even before the conclave began, journalists covering the conclave for Vatican Radio noted increasing mention of his name, often from cardinals who barely knew him but wanted to find out more, not least 'what is the state of the man's health?' Had they known just how precarious his health was (his feet were so swollen he could not wear the shoes bought for him for the conclave) they might have looked elsewhere for Paul VI's successor. But they didn't. Hence, to his own horror and disbelief he was elected to the papacy. The following days, Cardinals effectively (despite the prohibition of telling others about the Conclave) would have declared that with general great joy they had elected "God's candidate". Cardinal Pironio declared: "We were witnesses of a moral miracle". And later, Mother Teresa of Calcutta commented: "He has been the greatest gift of God. A sunray of God's love shining in the darkness of world". As he himself declared, still in the famous Angelus, he had chosen this double name of "John Paul" (the first in the history of Papacy) as a thankful honour to both John XXIII, who had named him a bishop (and to whom he succeeded in Venice), and Paul VI, who named him Patriarch and a Cardinal, and whom he succeeded as pope His quick death, only 33 days after his election, caused widespread shock worldwide. The Vatican raised major issues over the handling of the events surrounding his death; it lied about who found the body (it claimed a papal secretary, in fact it was later revealed that he was found by a nun in the Papal Household who had brought him some coffee), lied about the time, that personal property of his (his glasses, his will, documents he was working on when he died) disappeared from his bedroom and was never found. (In fact that was shown to be untrue. His possessions are in the possession of his sister' family.) It claimed he had been reading Thomas à Kempis's Imitation of Christ. Conflicting stories were told as to his health. It was hinted that his ill-health was due to heavy smoking; in fact he never smoked. The impact of this miss-information was shown in a headline of the Irish Independent newspaper, 'THIRTY-THREE BRAVE DAYS' conveying the image of a weak and ill man physically unable to withstand the pressures of the papacy, and who was in effect killed by it. Most dramatically of all, the pope's body was embalmed within one day of his death, breaking Italian law (however the Vatican is not part of Italy and so is not bound by Italian law). Wild rumors spread about events surrounding his death: how the death of a visiting prelate during an audience with the pope some days earlier was because the prelate had drunk 'poisoned coffee' prepared for the pope; yes a death had occurred, but there was no evidence of poison. Also of how he planned to dismiss senior Vatican officials over allegations of corruption; again no evidence exists of such a plan, though he was aware of questions about the conduct of the affairs of the Vatican Bank, having clashed with the bank of their sale of a church bank in Venice some years earlier. The sudden embalming raised suspicions that it had been done to prevent a post-mortem. However the Vatican insisted that a papal post-mortem was prohibited under Vatican law. This too was later revealed to be incorrect: in 1830 a post-mortem was carried out on the remains of Pope Pius VIII. It produced evidence that suggested Pius VIII may have been poisoned. Conspiracy theories: David Yallop's book. The discrepancies on the Vatican's account of the events surrounding John Paul I's death, its 'inaccurate' statements about who found the body, what he had been reading, when he had been found, whether a post-mortem could be carried out, produced a number of conspiracy theories, many associated with the Vatican Bank. David Yallop's controversial book In God's Name, suggested the theory that the pope was in 'potential danger' because of alleged corruption in the Istituto per le Opere Religiose (IOR, the Vatican's most powerful financial institution, commonly known as the Vatican Bank), freemasonry and mafia, supposing some heavy complicity by the Roman Curia. While Yallop's book did expose many of the 'inaccurate' statements issued by the Vatican in the days after John Paul's death, and received international attention (including demands from some senior churchmen for an inquiry into the death itself), its theories have not been widely accepted and were severely undermined by a subsequent book by John Cornwell. Even fiction focused on the bizarre death of the pope: the movie The Godfather Part III featured a major plotline which depicted the Vatican Bank involved in organized crime, with various intrigues resulting in the assassination of a pope openly named in the movie as 'John Paul I'. After decades of ongoing controversy, it has recently been reported that the investigation about the death of John Paul I would be reopened. It is possible that Pope John Paul died either naturally, or as a result of an accidental overdose of medicine he took for low blood-pressure and which could if taken wrongly be fatal. Even the apparently suspicious quick embalming could have a logical explanation. The bodies of two of his immediate predecessors, Pope Pius XII and Pope Paul VI, had undergone rapid decay; in Pius's case, due to a disastrous embalming that speeded up rather than slowed down the process. (The stench of Pope Pius's rapidly decaying corpse led some of the Swiss Guards, who provided a ceremonial guard of honour during his lying in state, to vomit and faint; the body turned purple and the pope's nose broke off). Given the fact that Pope John Paul died in September during high temperatures in Rome, it was perhaps understandable that Vatican officials might have wanted to ensure a similar disaster did not occur again. The claim that papal rules prevented post-morta could have an innocent explanation: having embalmed the pope's body to avoid rapid decay, a mythical 'rule' could have been dreamt up to justify the action. (Though it has been claimed that at one stage, close friends of the late pope to their embarrassment were ordered away from his corpse while some form of inspection, perhaps even a post-mortem occurred. If that is true, yet no 'results' were subsequently released, it would suggest that some evidence had been found that John Paul's death was not due to simply to natural causes, but due either to murder or an accidental overdose that the Vatican might not wish the public to know about.) . John Cornwell's theory. British historian and journalist John Cornwell in his book A Thief in The Night suggested a different theory to Yallop's. He suggested that Luciani was indeed in poor health, as confirmed by his niece, herself a medical doctor and many senior Vatican figures. She suggested that Luciani suffered from swollen ankles and feet (a sign of poor circulation and excessive coagulability of the blood) such that he could not wear the shoes purchased for him at the time of his election. Curiously a Vatican physician had not seen him or had his prescriptions filled. Cornwell concluded that John Paul I died of a pulmonary embolism (which was consistent with Luciani's past medical history—including a retinal embolism in 1976). Cornwell suggested
• that such was Luciani's 'disorientation' in the Vatican, and his inability to adjust, that he may have neglected to take his vital medicines, greatly endangering his own life from a new embolism;
• that John Paul had said he was feeling unwell up to three times during the previous 24 hours but refused to allow his secretaries call for medical attention;
• that a vigorous two-hour period of walking around his office (due to cold weather he was advised not to walk in the garden) during the afternoon of the 28th September caused a pulmonary embolism, producing a bout of sharp coughing which was witnessed by his worried secretaries;
• that a vigorous run made by the Pope down the corridor to take a phone call that evening caused the pulmonary thrombus to shift again, directly producing the fatal pulmonary embolism a short time afterwards.
• Cornwell suggested that John Paul died at about 9.30 p.m., perhaps 10.00 p.m. at his desk and was found on the floor by the priest secretaries, who moved the body into the bed and placed it in what is truly an unusual position for a person who has died suddenly (sitting up, eyeglasses in place and papers in hand), with no indication whatsoever that he was experiencing a fatal attack. The rationale is that the two secretaries were trying to cover-up the fact that the pope has suffered two episodes of acute chest pain that are consistent as signs of a coming pulmonary embolism, as well as a severe coughing fit. They suggested in both cases that the doctors be summoned, but the Pope brushed them off. Cornwell claims that guilt drove them to want to make his death look sudden so that no blame would fall on them. (In addition it would be more respectful to Luciani's memory and the papacy's honor for it to be suggested that Luciani had died a dignified death sitting reading on his bed, rather than alone, crumbled in a fetal position on the ground.) Both secretaries (one, John Magee now the Irish Catholic bishop of Cloyne) deny it—but it does have the signal advantage of explaining many of the strange circumstances (there were others than those listed) without resorting to major conspiracies. It also explains strange comments by both men; Magee talked on the night of the Pope's death to the nuns in the Papal Household about the possibility of the Pope's death that night. The other secretary spoke of the pope's back and feet still being warm when he lifted him. Given the fact that, even if he died in bed, his corpse could not possibly have been warm by the time he was found (around 5.30 a.m., by which time rigor mortis had set in, resulting in the breaking of some bones in the late pope's body (some claimed his knee, others his back) as it was forced into a suitable position for a lying-in-state), which was when the secretary suggested he had lifted the body and found body-heat.
While the Vatican unofficially praised the book, others have criticized it, questioned its hypotheses and conclusions. The demand for the exhumation of the Pope's remains and the carrying out of a belated publicly acknowledged post-mortem had continued. In addition, Vatican health-care had been notoriously poor for some of his predecessors. Pope Pius XII was 'treated' by an unqualified 'doctor' whose 'remedies' left the pope with constant hiccups and rotting teeth. (This same 'doctor' was responsible for the disastrous embalming. He also took photographs of the dying pope, which he tried to sell to magazines.) Pope Paul VI's poor health care is generally agreed to have speeded his death. There is no evidence to suggest that during Pope John Paul I's 33 day reign the health care provided had been improved. Nor, given his apparent lack of heart problems (as attested to by his own doctor, which flatly contradicted the rumors that came from the Vatican in the aftermath of the pope's death) was there any apparent immediate requirement for a review of medical services. In contrast, John Paul I's successor has always had access to excellent medical services, a fact which saved his life after his assassination attempt in 1981.
• Documents found in the files of the former East German intelligence services confirm the 1981 assassination attempt against Pope John Paul II was ordered by the Soviet KGB and assigned to Bulgarian agents.
The Corriere della Sera said that the documents found by the German government indicated that the KGB ordered Bulgarian colleagues to carry out the killing, leaving the East German service known as the Stasi to coordinate the operation and cover up the traces afterwards.
Bulgaria then handed the execution of the plot to Turkish extremists, including Mehmet Ali Agca, who pulled the trigger.
The daily said the documents had been handed over to Bulgaria and would be made available to the Italian parliamentary commission inquiring into the activities of formerly Communist eastern European regimes in Italy.
The newspaper said the documents consist mostly of letters from Stasi operatives to their Bulgarian counterparts seeking help in covering up traces after the attack and denying Bulgarian involvement.
Ali Agca, who is now in jail in Turkey, claimed after his arrest that the operation was under the control of the Bulgarian embassy in Rome. The Bulgarians have always insisted they were innocent and argued that Agca's story was part of an anti-communist plot by the Italian secret service and the CIA.
The paper said the documents back up the pope's own memories of the assassination attempt in May 1981 in his book "Memory and Identity: Conversations Between Millenniums," in which he said he was convinced that the attack was not planned or directed by Ali Agca.
1981 attack on Pope planned by Soviets: Report
Rome, March 30, 2005
Was There an AIDS Contract?
by Michael Morrissey
Was There an AIDS Contract?
I heard about Jakob Segal's theory that the AIDS virus originated in a US government biological warfare research laboratory in early 1989. After some preliminary research, I was amazed to find that this shocking theory had received no attention whatsoever in the mainstream American press, and almost none in Europe.
The questions this theory raised were a matter of pure science, or so it seemed to me. There were only three possibilities: 1) Segal was wrong; 2) he was right; 3) it could not be determined either way. I resolved to find out which of these was true.
1. Informing the press
My first thought was to notify the press. Perhaps, by some fluke, they had not heard of Segal, just as I hadn't, though he had been publishing his conclusions since 1986. Surely American journalists would be as anxious as I was to find out and expose the truth.If Segal was wrong, it would be one's patriotic duty to say so.If he was right, or even might be right, the same principle would hold. In the land of the free and the home of the brave, one does not shirk from the truth. Remember Watergate! So I wrote the following article and sent it off in September 1989 to a couple of dozen US journals and newspapers:
Is AIDS Man-Made?
The theory that AIDS originated in the laboratory has been circulating in Europe, particularly in West Germany, since late 1986.
The theory hinges on the claim that the AIDS virus (HIV) is virtually identical to two other viruses: Visna, which causes a fatal disease in sheep but does not infect humans, and HTLV-I (Human T-Cell Leukemia Virus), which infects humans but is seldom fatal.
Prof. Jakob Segal, the author of the theory, says that structural analysis using genome mapping proves that HIV is more similar to Visna than to any other retrovirus. The portion (about three percent) of the HIV genome which does not correspond structurally to Visna corresponds exactly to part of the HTLV-I genome.
This similarity, says Segal, cannot be explained by a natural process of evolution and mutation. It can only have resulted from an artificial combination of the two viruses.
He notes that the symptoms of AIDS are consistent with the complementary effects of two different viruses. AIDS patients who do not die of the consequences of immune deficiency show the same damage to the brain, lungs, intestines, and kidneys that occurs in sheep affected with Visna. Combining Visna with HTLV-I would allow the virus to enter not only the macrophages of the inner organs but also the T4 lymphocytes and thus cause immune deficiency, which is exactly what AIDS does.
As further evidence that HIV is a construct of Visna and HTLV- I, Segal cites studies which show that the reverse transcription process in HIV has two discrete points of peak activity which correspond, respectively, to those of Visna and HTLV-I.
AIDS is thus, according to Segal, essentially a variety of Visna. This has important implications for research, since a cure or vaccine might be found sooner by studying Visna in sheep than by concentrating, as at present, on monkeys.
The theory of the African origin of AIDS, that it developed in African monkeys and was transferred to man, has been abandoned by most researchers. All of the known varieties of SIV (Simian Immunodeficiency Virus) are structurally so dissimilar to HIV (much less similar than HIV and Visna) that a common origin is out of the question. Furthermore, even if such a development by natural mutation were possible, it would not explain the sudden outbreak of AIDS in the early 1980s, since monkeys and men have been living together in Africa since the beginning of human history.
The "Africa Legend," as it is called in a 1988 West German (Westdeutscher Rundfunk) television documentary, is further debunked by the epidemiological history of AIDS. There is no solid evidence of AIDS in Africa before 1983. The earliest documented cases of AIDS date from 1979 in New York.
In addition to the WDR documentary and occasional mention in magazines like Stern and Spiegel, Segal's work has been published in West Germany (AIDS-Erreger aus dem Gen-Labor? [AIDS-Virus from the Gene Laboratory?], Kuno Kruse, ed., Berlin: Simon & Leutner, 1987) and India (with Lilli Segal, The Origin of AIDS, Trichur, India: Kerala Sastra Sahitya Parishad, 1989). He has also been conducting lecture tours in West Germany.
Scientific journals, Segal says, have refused to publish or discuss his theory. This is difficult to understand. If he is wrong, he should certainly be refuted. The cornerstone of the theory is that HIV is a combination of Visna and HTLV-I. Segal claims that any trained laboratory technician could produce AIDS from these components, today, in less than two weeks. If this is true, it should be demonstrable by experiment.
The next question is, if it is possible to produce HIV from Visna and HTLV-I now, was it also possible in 1977, when Segal claims the AIDS virus was created? He says it was, by use of the less precise "shotgun" method of gene manipulation available then, though it would have taken longer--about six months. If this is true, it should also be demonstrable.
The final question would be: Was it produced in a laboratory? Segal believes he has shown that it was, but he goes further than that. He also believes he knows who produced it and why. Segal quotes from a document presented by a Pentagon official named Donald MacArthur on June 9, 1969, to a Congressional committee, in which $10 million is requested to develop, over the next 5 to 10 years, a new, contagious micro- organism which would destroy the human immune system.
Whether such research is categorized as "offensive" or "defensive"is immaterial: in order to defend oneself against apossible new virus, so the reasoning goes, one must first develop the virus.
Since the Visna virus was already well known, Segal continues, the problem was to find a human retrovirus that would enable it to infect humans. Scrutiny of the technical literature, Segal says, reveals that Dr. Robert Gallo isolated such a virus, HTLV-I, by 1975, though it was not given this name until later.
1975 was also the year the virus section of Fort Detrick (the US Army's center for biological warfare research in Frederick, Maryland) was renamed the Frederick Cancer Research Facilities and placed under the supervision of the National Cancer Institute, Gallo's employer.
It was there, in the P4 (high-security) laboratory at Fort Detrick, according to Segal, where the AIDS virus was actually created, between the fall of 1977 and spring of 1978. Six months is precisely the time it would have taken, using the techniques available then, to create the AIDS virus from Visna and HTLV-I.
Segal claims that the new virus was then tested on convicts who volunteered for the experiment in return for their release from prison. Failing to show any early symptoms of disease, the prisoners were released after six months. Some were homosexual, and went to New York, where the disease was first attested in 1979.
The researchers had not counted on creating a disease with such a long incubation period. (One year is relatively short for AIDS, but would not be unusual if the infection was induced by high- dosage injections.) If the researchers had kept their human guinea pigs under observation for a longer time, they would have detected the disease and been able to contain it.
In other words, Segal claims that AIDS is the result of a germ warfare research experiment gone awry.
In an interview on April 18, 1987, published in the Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant, Dr. Gallo describes Segal's theory as KGB propaganda.
Segal, who is Russian (Lithuanian Jewish) but has been a professor of biology (now emeritus) at Humboldt University in East Berlin since 1953, is a bit old (78) to be starting a career as a propagandist. Soviet and East German officials, for their part, have maintained a discreet silence on the matter, for reasons of realpolitik, Segal believes.
The question of whether AIDS is man-made or not cannot be answered by dismissing it as propaganda.
Segal believes he has answered the question. We do not have to believe him, but we do have to believe that the following questions are answerable:
1) Can HIV be produced by combining Visna and HTLV-I in the laboratory now? 2) Can it be produced using the techniques available in 1977? 3) What did go on at Ft. Detrick between 1969 and 1978? What were the results of the $10 million Pentagon research project announced on June 9, 1969?
I didn't get a single reply--not even a form-letter rejection. Later I rewrote the article, concentrating on the MacArthur testimony and the fact that neither it nor Segal had ever been discussed in the press. This much was certain. The MacArthur testimony was authentic, and part of the public record. I had seen and photocopied it myself in the Library of Congress. On June 9, 1969, Dr. D. M. MacArthur, then Deputy Director of Research and Technology for the Dept. of Defense, told the House Subcommittee on Appropriations:
"Molecular biology is a field that is advancing very rapidly, and eminent biologists believe that within a period of 5 to 10 years it would be possible to produce a synthetic biological agent, an agent that does not naturally exist and for which no natural immunity could have been acquired...a new infective microorganism which could differ in certain important aspects from any known disease-causing organisms. Most important of these is that it might be refractory [resistant] to the immunological and therapeutic processes upon which we depend to maintain our relative freedom from infectious disease...A research program to explore the feasibility of this could be completed in approximately 5 years at a total cost of $10 million."
This was scandal enough. It does not mean that Segal is right, but it does mean the US government wanted, and considered it feasible, to create an AIDS-like virus as early as 1969.
It would not be surprising if the government wanted to keep this quiet, but what about the press? I could find only two references to MacArthur's testimony, in a book by Robert Harris and Jeremy Paxman (_A Higher Form of Killing: The Secret Story of Chemical & Biological Warfare_, NY: Hill & Wang, 1982), and in a couple of articles by Robert Lederer and Nathaniel S. Lehrman in _Covert Action Information Bulletin_ (28, summer 1987, and 29, winter 1988).
Segal had been similarly ignored. Through the Amerika Haus library in Frankfurt I ran a DIALOGUE search of the indexes of major US newspapers, magazines and journals for the name Jakob Segal, and it came up negative. At least he had been mentioned a couple of times in _Der Spiegel_. In America he was apparently completely unknown.
I found this intolerable.I did not agree with Segal; I only wanted to see his arguments discussed by people competent to make a judgement. Then I and the rest of the reading public could decide which arguments were more convincing. I thought that was the way free speech worked. Here was a guy saying the US government created AIDS, and claiming to have proved itscientifically, and he was being ignored.
By contrast, I had read about the storm of controversy that Peter Duesberg's theory had caused. He suggested in 1987 that AIDS is not caused by a virus at all--certainly at least as speculative a thesis as Segal's. But there is a significant difference. If Duesberg is right and HIV does not cause the disease, the question of whether the virus originated in the laboratory is irrelevant. In that sense, it is the antithesis of Segal's theory. Was that why it received so much attention, while Segal was completely ignored?
I also wanted to call attention to Segal's new book (_AIDS: Die Spur fuehrt ins Pentagon_, Essen: Neuer Weg, 1990), which had not (and still has not) appeared in English.
I sent the revised version of my article out to a number of journals, but the only reply I received was from a "radical" leftist editor, who wrote:
"We have real problems with the Segal material....There was a logical fallacy in Lehrman's reliance [on Segal's theory], too, because he used Segal's theories to bolster his notion that the release of AIDS was deliberate, even though Segal believes that it was accidentally released....The issue is further complicated by the recent retraction of the current Soviet government of the allegations of CBW connections they had made, undoubtedly another of Bush's little quid pro quos. A further difficulty is that the most credible critic in this country of the standard medical establishment line is Dr. Peter Duesberg, who argues (and Lehrman agrees) that AIDS is caused toxically, not simply virally. The synthesis of all this might be that if AIDS is toxically triggered, even if it requires some viral precondition, the trigger could be caused either environmentally or deliberately or both.
"In any event, although we believe that the issue of the cause of AIDS is an incredibly significant one (and certainly do not think you or any other the other critics of the Establishment) are lone nuts, we don't think that the issue is anything near so clear-cut that the failure to give significant coverage to Segal is "the biggest coverup since JFK.
"We would be interested in a general piece on the failure of the media (U.S. and Western Europe) to cover alternative theories in general, which would not have to accept any particular theory, but would show how conferences which take the establishment line get considerable coverage whereas those which do not are barely, if at all, covered. Ditto for the personalities involved.
"Anyway, these are some of the reasons why we do not feel like running with the ball right now." I replied: "I wanted to focus on the 1969 MacArthur testimony--a scandal in itself--and what Segal makes of that. You probably have Segal's English monograph of 1986, which he wrote before he knew about the MacArthur testimony. (He got it from Rifkin). Since then he has been much more specific about tracing what he considers to be the exact course of development of the virus, i.e. Gallo's execution of that 1969 contract.
"This--Gallo's role--may not be provable, but the heart of Segal's thesis, namely that VISNA + HTLV-I = HIV-I, is testable, as I pointed out. There is no scientific explanation for why it has not been tested, which leaves the political one. The theory is very clear and precise. If Segal is wrong, he could easily be proved wrong.
"This is not the case with Duesberg or any of the other theories. The effect of the Duesberg theory, as I pointed out in the article, is to remove the entire question of the origin of the virus from the debate, which then becomes dissipated in the probably unresolvable question of environmental triggers, susceptibility, etc.
"The question we should ask is this: Why has Duesberg's theory, which is not testable, been given so much attention, while Segal's theory, which is testable, has been completely ignored? I did a national (US) magazine and newspaper database search (DIALOGUE), and if it is accurate, the name Jakob Segal has never appeared in a major US newspaper or any scientific journal.
"If Duesberg is the most credible critic in the US of the medical establishment, as you say, he serves (willy nilly) the coverup admirably, for the reason I have described. As we well know, mind control involves control of the offense as well as the defense (Gallo, Essex). The parallel here with the JFK case is the Blakey Mafia theory. That, as Garrison says, is a red herring. It doesn't matter who pulled the triggers, and it doesn't matter what 'triggers' AIDS, if we are trying to find out the whole truth. Blakey will have us tracking down Mafiosi for the next hundred years, and Duesberg will have us searching for non-viral AIDS 'triggers' for another hundred.
"It's hard to say what the biggest coverup up will turn out to be (if anyone ever finds out). AIDS can never be as 'clear-cut' as JFK, in terms of evidence ignored, suppressed, and distorted, because there are not enough microbiologists around who are capable or willing to do the private research. In terms of lives lost and money spent, though, AIDS will be near the top. In another sense, too, this is as big as JFK, because if Segal is right it means that 'science' is just as corrupt and manipulable as the press and the government. This will come as a great shock to many who believe that questions of 'pure science' are immune to political manipulation.
"You are probably right about a deal with the Russians. In fact, Segal says they talked about AIDS at Reykjavik. Maybe that's what Reagan was really upset about, rather than SDI. I wouldn't be surprised if he heard the truth about AIDS at that conference for the first time. In any case, Segal was told subsequently by East German and Soviet authorities that he could continue to publish and speak on the subject (mainly in West Germany--the East Germans gave him no opportunities), as long as he did not explicitly associate himself with the East German or Soviet governments. Now there is the question. They could have stopped him whenever they wanted to, but they didn't. Do you think they would have allowed him to continue to publish and give lectures in the West if they thought he was wrong? If he was a KGB agent, as some people have said, would they have been stupid enough to let him make such monstrous allegations if there was nothing to them, and if they could easily be proved false?
"I will think about your suggestion for a more general approach, but are you sure that another consideration of alternative theories would be productive? CAIB did a good job on that. To make the analogy with JFK again, what good is rehash of the 'alternative' assassination theories? It just perpetuates the confusion and plays right into the hands of those who want to avoid, most of all, clear questions and clear answers. I tried to word my article so as not to imply acceptance of Segal's theory. I do not accept it. I think it should be discussed. My point was that Segal has posed a clear, testable hypothesis which, despite the importance of its implications, has been completely ignored. That point would be considerably diluted if Segal's theory were treated as just another crazy (and untestable) theory, like Duesberg's.
There was no response. I was getting nowhere.
2. Talking to the experts
My next tack was to try to pursue the science of the matter. This was difficult, since my last foray into the natural sciences was in 1968, when I took the general biology course at college which was also required for humanities majors. Still, as a linguist I felt I was a scientist of a sort, and I felt that with a reasonable effort I should at least be able to inform myself enough to answer my basic question: Was Segal right, wrong, or is it impossible to know?
In the summer of 1989 I had seen a reference in Time magazine to someone I had known as a teenager who had become a well-known cancer and AIDS researcher--a virologist and a viral surgeon. If anybody could answer my questions it would be Tony. (The name is fictitious; I see no reason to personalize the issue.) I found his address in Who's Who and wrote to him, enclosing a copy of my unpublished article and a longer article written by Segal that had been published by a left-wing (Marxist) West German newspaper. An exchange of letters followed, which I reproduce here.
Pass this on if you like.
Sept. 14, 1989
...My main reason for writing is to ask what you think of the enclosed. My article has not been published. Segal's article is from the Rote Fahne, a Marxist weekly, which I know doesn't exactly enhance its credibility, but nobody else will publish him. That shouldn't affect the science of the matter. I hope your German is up to it. I think you'll find Segal's style clear and non-convoluted, which is more than I can say for most German academicians--or American ones, for that matter.
Let me be honest. I'm quite aware that you might be the last person who might tell me anything, even if you could, about this,but the thing really bothers me, and a lot of other people too, at least in this country. If Segal is wrong, he sure as hell ought to be proved wrong. Would be great to hear from you, in any case.
September 21, 1989
Your question is one that has come up many times before. The answer is simple. The virus is not man-made. Segal gives us too much credit since this is the most complex virus we have seen. We can't even make a simple one. If it were as he says we would also have the technology to eliminate it and we do not, as yet.
We don't know where it actually comes from but the best guess is from a non-human primate from Africa. This is because very similar viruses cause AIDS-like diseases in these animals. However, the "missing link" has not been found, but it may turn up at any time as more studies are done.
You may also have heard that AIDS is not caused by the virus HIV. More nonsense. The evidence that it does is overwhelming and this will become clearer to the public as specific drugs and vaccines are developed. To get a better view of all of this let me refer you to the October 1988 issue of Scientific American.
Antonio L. DiAngelo
Oct. 6, 1989
Dear Tony, I'm afraid I don't understand your comments on AIDS. Of course we cannot make a horse or a donkey, but if we put them together we can "make" a mule. Segal says the horse and the donkey were Visna and HTLV- 1. Nor do I see why, if this is what happened, the virus should be any more defeatable than any other.
I don't know if you have actually read Segal's work, but it is very convincing and simply cannot be dismissed out of hand. He has countered every even halfway "scientific" argument--it would appear--with success. What the public cannot understand or accept is why, if he is wrong, he cannot be refuted with scientific arguments, and why his arguments are simply ignored. If he is right, of course, everything is all too clear.
Segal deals at length with Essex's Africa hypothesis, and points out that even he (Essex) has retracted it, although it continues to be propagated in the media. Nor can I understand why researchers seem to be ignoring the possibility that AIDS is a Visna variety and might be more amenable to prevention or cure if treated as such. That means that they should be working with sheep, not monkeys.
Oct. 17, 1989
This is hard to do by letter, but here goes. Visna + HTLV-1 could never be crossed to give HIV-1. HIV-1 has things in it that neither of the others have.
HIV-1 is a member of the same family as Visna but more complex. Indeed, much of what is known about Visna is used to further our knowledge of HIV-1.
The Africa hypothesis is not that of Essex. What he has retracted is something that relates to HIV-2, an HIV of West African origin. Max detected the presence of this virus in man but when he isolated it, a contamination occurred in his lab with SIV-1 (a simian AIDS virus). This was not found out until later. The real HIV-2 exists and is a second human virus.
You need to read much more than Segal and I suppose I should read more abut him. I finally stopped some time ago when I concluded he was on the wrong track. I can imagine how difficult it is for you, though, with all of this controversy about. It is a very strange time in science.
Antonio L. DiAngelo
Oct. 29, 1989 Dear Tony,
I know I'm in way over my head, but all I can do, like everyone else, is try to evaluate somehow or other the opinions of experts, which is very difficult when they contradict each other.
I don't know if you are referring to the tat genes when you say HIV- 1 has things that Visna and HTLV-1 do not, but if so Segal responds to this objection in his book as follows:
"As early as June 1986 Gonda et al. (Proceedings of the Nat. Academy of Sciences 83, 4007-4011) published a comparative study of the HIV and Visna virus genomes ... The result was that both genomes were highly similar, and that all structural elements were shared by both of them, except for a small segment of 300 nucleotide pairs with an exceptionally high genetic instability, nearly identical to a section of the HTLV-1 genome. That means that all the new structural elements first described in the HIV genome, such as the tat-genes complex, also exist in the Visna virus genome."
Segal has a whole chapter based largely on this study by Gonda and an earlier one published in Science 227, 173-177 (1985).The 60% homology Gonda found between Visna and HIV-1 in 1986, with the latter varying by mutation at abut 10% every 2 years (Hahn et al., Science 232, 1548-1553, 1986), would point to near identity around early 1978, when Segal claims that a section of a genome originating from HTLV-1 was added to Visna by gene surgery to produce HIV-1.
In another chapter, Segal suggests that HIV-2 is a manipulated SIV virus, made pathogenic possibly by the surgical insertion of an orf- A gene.
Other microbiologists I have talked to do not dispute Segal's thesis that AIDS is a laboratory product, though there is disagreement as to exactly how it might have happened and from precisely what components. I have also been referred to an article by Julie Overbaugh et al. in Nature 332, 731-734 (1988), which apparently demonstrates that it is possible to produce a new virus in the laboratory which is more pathogenic than its components. This means that Segal's scenario is at least not to be ruled out by any fundamental law of nature.
Certainly Dr. MacArthur did not believe this in 1969, when he made the statement to Congress that Segal quotes in the article I sent you. Jeremy Rifkin's petition of Feb. 10, 1988 (appended to Segal's book) to disclose what became of this project yielded nothing, of course. It's a secret! Perhaps the scientists themselves are our best hope. Segal feels that Gonda may have tried indirectly to point to the truth by calling attention to the similarity between Visna and HIV--if so, more power to him.
The worst thing about Segal's theory is not that it may be correct, bad as that would be, but that it is being, as the Germans say, "tot geschwiegen." Of that there can be no doubt, and the implications are dismal. Sincerely,
Nov. 20, 1989
I can sympathize with your confusion and let me state that it is Segal that is over his head. He doesn't understand the words homology or mutation rates. He creates new viruses by splicing in genes (which is possible) without understanding the outcome. It is all nonsense.
Surely we can switch genes between HIV and HTLV-1 and make them work. It could also be done between Visna and HTLV-1, in theory. But, I repeat, Visna plus HTLV-1 in any arrangement does not make HIV-1 now or in 1970. 60% homology is a very distant relationship. If Segal is so convinced, why doesn't he make the construct and see what kind of virus it makes. Would it infect human cells? Would it kill T cells (Visna does not)?
Moreover, HTLV-1 was discovered as a virus in 1978 but its genes were not defined until the 1980s, certainly the ones Segal talks about. For that matter, the Visna genes were also not well established until the 80s and perhaps even later than HTLV-1. I envision it to be almost totally impossible that the chemical equation he speaks about could have taken place even in 1978. Add to that the likelihood that HIV-1 was present in man before then, probably as far back as 1959 and you now reach absurdity. It just does not add up.
Where he is correct is that HIV-2 and SIV are very similar, one perhaps deriving from the other. You don't need a surgical insertion to visualize that.
Antonio L. DiAngelo
He had finally said it: Nonsense! So it is possible to "make" new viruses. That much, at least, was clear. Segal doesn't understand homology and mutation rates? What doesn't he understand, exactly? He doesn't understand "the outcome"? He says in this case the outcome was AIDS. Segal should do an experiment and find out? Why should an experiment be necessary, if Tony is so sure that Segal is wrong?
Is he sure? First he says "Visna plus HTLV-1 in any arrangement does not make HIV-1 now or in 1970." Then he says he "envisions it to be almost totally impossible." Not so sure, after all.
Tony must know that Segal doesn't say that Visna kills T-cells. Sheep with Visna die because the macrophages, the large whiteblood cells, become infected in the earliest stage, not the T-4 cells. The infected macrophages then eventually destroy the thymus gland, which prevents the further development of T-4 cells and destroys the immune system. This is why HIV-infected chimpanzees do not develop AIDS. The T-4 cells in the monkeys are infected, but the macrophages remain healthy. In humans, the macrophages are infected, as in sheep. If Segal is right, then, the key to therapy is not in preventing the infection of the T-4 cells but in preventing the infected macrophages from destroying the thymus.
Not a word about the tat-genes. Why? It's an important point. Does HIV- 1 have things that neither Visna nor HTLV-1 have or not? Segal says no, Tony says yes, then drops the point. Not a word about the MacArthur testimony, either.
I saw no point in continuing. Tony wasn't going to say more than he had, and I was not impressed. In fact, it was hard to believe he was being honest. He seemed to be dodging every point. Every time I threw him the ball, he just stepped out of the way and threw another ball back. What was a "simian AIDS virus"? Monkeys don't get AIDS. Tony never responded to my point about "making" the AIDS virus. Had this been a misunderstanding, a question of semantics?
I couldn't help remembering this a year and a half later, in March 1991, when I saw an interview on WorldNet, the USIA's satellite television network, with a chap named Todd Lowenthal, who looked a little like a llama and had an equally exotic job title, something like "Chief for Countering Soviet Disinformation." He used the Segal theory to explain what "disinformation" is. The theory was obviously false, said Lowenthal, because everybody knows that the AIDS virus is "far too complex to have been made by a scientist."
That was exactly what Tony had said. He had also said that if "we" had made it, we would be able to destroy it. But why should this be so?
Segal had dealt with all of the other points Tony brought up, as Tony presumably knew. What I wanted was a rebuttal to Segal, not simply a repetition of the claims that Segal had (seemingly) refuted, including the claim that there is evidence of AIDS before 1979. Segal has consistently argued that this evidence is inconclusive.
Almost a year later after Tony's last letter, Segal published a short article in the Rote Fahne (Aug. 25, 1990) responding to the latest claim of evidence for AIDS before 1979. I sent a copy of the article to The Lancet, Science, Nature, and Scientific American, along with a cover letter asking for a response. Not one responded. I also decided to try Tony once more:
Sept. 3, 1990
Enclosed is an article by Segal published here re. the Corbitt et al. study published in The Lancet (336, 51f., 1990), which I guess you know is a respected English medical journal. Corbitt et al.claim to show that a British sailor died indisputably of AIDS in 1959. Segal challenges this claim, as he has all the purported evidence of AIDS before 1979, saying they proved only that the sailor was infected with a retrovirus, not necessarily one that causes AIDS, it being now known that many people, perhaps half the population, are carriers of non- pathogenic retroviruses which have nothing to do with AIDS. What do you think?
Segal was in Kassel for a talk in February, and I asked him the same question you ask in your letter of last November: If Visna + HTLV-1 = HIV-1, why doesn't he do an experiment and prove it? He said he would like to but it's not that simple. You need a P-4 laboratory and the virus specimens, and no one is about to make those available to him.
An equally good question is, if he is wrong, why doesn't someone with the requisite facilities (e.g. the U.S. government) do the experiment and prove it? He could be invited as an observer to make sure he was convinced, then forced to retract his allegations.
Just to say it's nonsense, even if nearly everyone who should know something about the matter says it, is not enough. Remember the Warren Commission? Besides, even crazier theories, e.g. the Duesberg idea that HIV does not cause AIDS at all, get plenty of exposure and debate. There is absolutely no reason why Segal has not been discussed with equal fervor in the scientific community-- unless that reason is political. This is the sad thing, because it shows that science stops where politics begins.
I guess I have been naive, but I have always wanted to believe that science had a special status and was somehow immune (to use a fateful word) to political pressures. Yes, that really was naive, I'm afraid. No one is more subject to pressure and manipulation than high tech scientists, who can work only in dependence on complicated (and all- powerful) institutional and financial structures.
In short, I have no doubt that--if Segal is right--enough pressure could be brought to bear, all over the world, to keep the lid on. There are plenty of examples of that.
I'm quite aware that having worked at the Frederick Cancer Research Facilities under Gallo, formerly the virus section at Ft. Detrick, you probably know a lot more about these things than you could admit. That too is very sad. I wish you could find some way to tell me what you really know.
All the best,
Sept. 11, 1990
I have never worked under Bob Gallo nor in Gallo's laboratory atthe Frederick Cancer Research Facilities. There is also nothing secret or occult. Strike all of that from your mind.
Your apparent obsession with Segal is difficult to comprehend. There are many more important things to do than to rebut a theory that makes no scientific sense. Our focus is on a vaccine for AIDS and other measures that will help eradicate the disease and relieve suffering. This requires all of our attention, energy and skills. Scientific truth lies in reproducible experiments, which automatically means that these must fall in the public domain.
With best wishes,
Antonio L. DiAngelo
Never worked directly under Gallo? He had worked as a consultant to Frederick--that was in Who's Who. Not a word about Segal's article in The Lancet. Nothing secret or occult? Science always in the public domain? Who did he think he was kidding?
I felt there was nothing more I could say to Antonio L. DiAngelo. I wished that just once he had signed his name "Tony."
Tony wasn't the only scientist I talked to. One German researcher said sure, it was possible to mix viruses together. Yes, he had heard of Segal, but he didn't know a lot about it. In fact, he said, only scientists doing AIDS research would be able to answer my questions. But he didn't think Visna + HTLV-1 would make HIV- 1. Why not? He couldn't explain.
Another scientist, a woman who is also an environmental activist, said she thought it was possible that the AIDS virus was produced by mistake in a laboratory, most likely in experiments with monkeys, but that Segal's particular theory was wrong. Why? She couldn't explain. She was no longer pursuing the origin of AIDS question. She had butted her head against stone walls for a while and finally just gave up. I was beginning to see what she meant.
I talked with one of the representatives of the Greens in the European Parliament in Strasbourg. He wasn't interested. There were more important concerns than the origins of AIDS, he said. People were more concerned about the dangers of applying genetic engineering to agriculture, for example. Really? How could they expect to find out the truth about agricultural products if we can't find out the truth about AIDS? How did he know what people were concerned about? Here was one person who was concerned--me. What did he know but what he read in the press, just like the rest of us? Segal did not appear in the press (except occasionally in the Rote Fahne), so as far as this supposedly progressive politician was concerned, the origin of AIDS was not a public issue. I thought he might be interested in making it a public issue, but I was wrong.
Segal was scheduled to give a talk at the university in Kassel in September 1990. By then I knew his arguments, and I also knew that the problem for me--as well as for him--was to find someonewilling and qualified to debate with him. I called the director of a German AIDS research institute, introduced myself and asked him if he would be willing to answer some questions. He was willing, and friendly enough, but that was all. Our telephone conversation went as follows (again, the name is fictitious):
Hoffmann: "Ok, shoot."
MM: "Have you heard of a man called Jacob Segal, from Humboldt University in Berlin?"
Hoffmann: "Yes, I've heard of him."
MM: "Well, I'm not a biologist, but the reason I'm calling is that he's coming here to Kassel the day after tomorrow to give a lecture. You probably know that his work is very controversial..."
Hoffmann (chuckling): "That's putting it mildly!" MM: "From what I've heard, he can't even get people to debate with him. That's why I'm calling. He's giving a speech here at the university next week, and I don't know anyone in Kassel involved in AIDS research, but a friend of mine told me you are one of the most competent men in the field, and I wanted to know if you or anybody at your institute could come to Kassel as a kind of counterpoint. Not necessarily to debate with him, but I think it would be good if a different point of view could be presented too."
Hoffmann: "I'll tell you, unless Segal has something new, it would be a waste of time. I remember a lecture he gave in Aachen. He claimed the AIDS virus was created in American biological warfare laboratories and set loose in order to get rid of homosexuals and control the overpopulation problem in Africa."
This was wrong, but I didn't correct him. Segal says the virus escaped accidentally, with prisoners who had been inoculated with it in an experiment, in return for their freedom. When no symptoms of disease showed up after six months, they were released prematurely, since no one knew the disease would have such a long incubation period. Some of the ex-prisoners joined the gay scene in New York, whence it spread. Segal has never implied that it was anything but an accident, an experiment gone awry.
But Hoffmann's inaccuracy was interesting. It showed how closely linked the two thoughts are, and how easily Theory A, that AIDS is laboratory product (which Segal endorses), leads to Theory B, that AIDS is biological warfare (which Segal does not endorse). If Theory A is correct, Theory B is at least conceivable.
Hoffmann: "Segal's first mistake was that he claimed it happened in 1976. That's completely impossible, from a bio-engineering point of view. Nobody could have spliced genes together with that result then, and I doubt that it's possible today."
He doubts that it's possible? He doesn't know? Has he tried it? If not, how can he be so sure?
Hoffmann: "But the most important proof that his theory is absolute nonsense is the fact that we have evidence of AIDS infections long before 1976."
1979, I corrected him silently. That was when the first AIDS case was documented in New York, which Segal still insists was in fact the first case, despite the so-called evidence (which Segal disputes) to the contrary.
Hoffmann: "That takes care of Mr. Segal. It's a completely idiotic hypothesis, and I hope that Segal, who has done some reasonable work in other areas, has found something else to spend his time on. Or how do you see it?"
MM: "I'm not in a position to judge, as a layman. That's just the point. I've read his book and I must say his arguments are plausible, but I have no way to evaluate them scientifically. I do know that he has counterarguments to what you've just said. I can't explain it in detail, but he says what other researchers have considered evidence of AIDS before 1979 is inconclusive, that there may be evidence of retroviruses, but not of AIDS in particular."
Hoffmann: "Nonsense. I saw cases myself in the sixties in Africa, even photographed them, and there are blood samples which have been preserved and documented. If Segal still wants to stick to the 1979 in New York thesis, he really ought to hang it up."
MM: "He puts a lot of faith in the gene-sequencing analysis or gene- mapping and Chandra's work showing the electro-focusing of the reverse transcription."
I had no idea what I was talking about, but I trusted that Hoffmann did.
MM: "Segal says this kind of analysis proves conclusively that the similarity of Visna and HTLV-1 with HIV-1 is so great that it could not have occurred otherwise, that is, naturally--that it must have resulted from gene-splicing. So there we are. He says the degree of similarity proves it beyond the shadow of a doubt, and other scientists say it proves nothing at all. What is the layman supposed to think?"
Hoffmann: "As far as I'm concerned, Segal is just being stubborn. The whole thing is very far-fetched. Of course you can talk forever about something, but in the scientific world you can't just go to a university somewhere and give a lecture and expect other people to jump to defend themselves or even respond. We have no time for that. Segal's theory is pass. The best you can say is that it was an idea once, a suspicion, but there isn't the slightest proof of it, never has been."
MM: "Still, it's a horrific accusation, and I don't say that just because I'm an American and it's my government that's being accused of being responsible for AIDS. I would think someone, not the least the American government, would want to prove him wrong. What he says sounds scientific enough to me, but of course I'm no judge. Aren't there any serious scientific rebuttals to Segal's theory?"
Hoffmann: "Serious scientists haven't dealt with it for the simple reason that it is ridiculous."
MM: "Yes, but it continues to circulate, and if it is nonsense it's not doing anybody any good. I'm not a superpatriot, in fact I'm pretty critical of my government, but I don't want to think of it as responsible for creating AIDS if it's not true. I hope it's not, but I just can't be as sure of that as you are. That's my problem. How can I convince myself that it's nonsense? I need to have a counterargument that makes at least equally good sense. Isn't there some way to prove that he's wrong--by experiment, for example? He says any trained laboratory technician could make HIV-1 out of Visna and HTLV-1 in less than two weeks. Why not try that and see?"
Hoffmann: "Such nonsense! Look, I have a young biochemist sitting here next to me. Let me repeat that for his benefit. [To his colleague] Segal claims any lab technician could produce HIV- 1 from Visna and something else in two weeks."
A loud guffaw could be heard in the background.
Hoffmann (chuckling): "He just fell off his chair! Absolutely ridiculous! You know, one thing really irritates me a bit. How can a German university invite someone like this to give a talk? Who's behind it? These are really stupid, completely outdated ideas."
MM: "I think someone in the public health office organized it."
Hoffmann: "Are you sure it wasn't one of the leftist student groups? You know who publishes his book, don't you--the MLPD, the Marxist- Leninist Partei Deutschlands. Maybe it was the Stasi [East German intelligence]. That's a joke, of course."
MM: "I don't know. But why should it matter? This is supposedly a question of science."
Hoffmann: "You should look into it, because I have good contacts with the Federal Ministry of Health, and I can tell you that we dismissed the Segal theory from the very beginning as totally absurd. The lecture in Aachen that I attended some years ago was organized by the Greens, whose environmental ideas aren't bad, but they're terribly left."
MM: "My problem is simply that I would like for Segal to be wrong, but I can't convince myself of that without counterarguments in some form or other, in a debate or a scientific journal, or whatever. As long as his ideas are not discussed, and as you say simply dismissed out of hand, I can't resolve it in my mind."
Hoffmann: "What do your American friends and colleagues think of all this?"
MM: "They don't even know about it. Segal's book hasn't been published in English." Hoffmann: "Well, that should tell you something. You have to remember that we--at least at my institute-- are underfinanced, understaffed, and we have a lot more important things to spend our time on than Mr. Segal's silly theories. We think the best thing is to ignore him completely. You can lose months trying to refute whatever crackpot claims he might make. He has no proof at all, but the other guy, he has to have proof! That stuff about anybody being able to make HIV in the laboratory, for instance. Totally impossible."
Why months? I thought. Segal says it can be done easily, in two weeks, by anybody with access to the component viruses and research facilities. Hoffmann had such access, presumably. He could do the experiment, and if it was negative, it would be good publicity. I could picture the headline: "Hoffmann Proves Segal a Quack--U.S. Government Not Guilty." Wouldn't that be worth a few days' work?
MM: "There's also that Pentagon document from 1969. I know that's authentic, because I've seen it. That proves that the government did want to create an AIDS-like virus, and considered it feasible, as early as 1969."
Hoffmann (ignoring this point): "I suspect my American colleagues think the same way I do, that the best way to handle such nonsense is to ignore it. Let it play itself out, die a natural death, which it will because there's nothing to sustain it. Just wild hypotheses. That's why he goes to universities like Kassel, which doesn't have a medical school and might have a strong leftist contingent, so he thinks he can get away with it."
Handle it? This didn't sound very scientific. I didn't want him to handle it, I wanted him to refute it, if he could.
MM: "That's why I'd like to get someone like you or somebody from your institute to come here and debate with him."
Hoffmann: "No, I'm sorry, absolutely not. We really have better things to do. There's a saying: The more water you pour on the wheel, the more it turns. The best thing is just to let Segal run himself out. There are plenty of idiotic theories that can't be scientifically disproved. We can't spend our time refuting every ideologue that comes along. Maybe philosophers have time for that, but we don't. If I refute him it means I take him seriously, and I don't. I think he's a nut."
MM: "All right, Professor, I guess I'll just have to see how it goes. I mean, I don't have that much time either. Certainly not enough to try to become a microbiologist at this stage of the game. There must be a better way, but I don't know what it is."
Hoffmann: "Why bother with it then? Who's forcing you to go to this lecture?"
MM: "Well, nobody, of course. I'm just interested. Thank you very much for your time, Professor Hoffmann."
Hoffmann: "Not at all."
I was getting pretty discouraged. Another year went by, and I decided to make one more stab at the "science" question. I made up the following questionnaire and sent it to all the AIDS researchers whose addresses I could find: I am a layman who has been trying for years, without success, toget a straightforward answer to a straightforward question on a matter of science. Hence this survey, which I hope you will help me with, because whatever the results, it should show something.
1) Is it possible to produce HIV-1 or HIV-2 in the laboratory (by manipulating or combining other organisms or substances by gene surgery or other means)?
____ Yes. ____ No.
____ I don't know, because
____ no one has done the work to find out.
____ it is not scientifically possible to find out.
____ the information cannot be divulged for security reasons.
____ I have not looked into the question.
____ (other reasons--use reverse side if necessary):
If the answer to 1) is "Yes":
2) With what components?
3) Since what year has this been possible (using either "shotgun" -- trial -and-error--methods or more precise methods)?
In any case, bibliographical references and/or comments will be appreciated (use reverse side if necessary):
The information below will be kept strictly confidential.
Would you like to receive the results of this survey?
Name and address of others who could respond to this survey: In April 1992 I received what I expect will be the last reply tomy questionnaire, unless I send it out again. It was from an American professor of pharmacology, whom I'll call Professor Smith. I had not sent the questionnaire to him, so someone had forwarded it. Here is my reply to him:
June 6, 1992
Dear Prof. Smith,
Thank you very much for responding to my questionnaire. Your reply is in fact the most important one I have received, and I've been walking around with it now in my briefcase ever since I got it, not quite sure what to do next. Perhaps you can help me.
Let me first tell the results so far (without mentioning names, since I promised not to). Of the couple of dozen people I sent the questionnaire to, 8 people have replied. 5 said "No" (not possible to produce HIV-1 or -2 in the laboratory).
2 (one was you) said "Yes." Another person said "Yes--in theory, but not practical."
The other unequivocal "Yes" came from someone who is apparently "only" a secondary school science teacher, but he is writing a book on the subject and enclosed an extensive bibliography. His answer to "With what components?" was:
"HIV-1: Visna, CAEV, BVV + minor component, either from another virus, or picking segments of original human DNA. HIV-2: SIV (SMM) + minor segments picked after selection from human cell culture (evolution in test tube)--the reverse may also be true."
His answer to "Since what year has this been possible?" was:
"HIV-1: trial-and-error, since ca. 1970. HIV-2: since the exploration of the SIVs, ca. 1985, by mistake probably earlier." The "theoretically Yes" answer was from an American researcher and professor, whose answer to "With what components?" was:
"One could provide equivalent genes from other retroviruses and then synthesize those unique to HIV."
His answer to "Since what year has this been possible?" was:
(underlining "possible"): "Mid-1980s."
The other 5 respondents--a couple of whom are "heavyweights" in the field (since even I have heard of them)--said "No" categorically, without further comments, except for one person, (professor, MD, public health scientist), who added to his "No":
"I'm not a molecular biologist etc. but am virtually certain, from reading and discussions, that HIV-1 and HIV-2 arose from "wild" viruses and that when they arose we did not have the technology to create them. We may however be developing the technology which could allow us to produce "new" or modified dangerous viruses in the future. (But if we use the technology reasonably we can use it against disease.)"
I think from these results you can see why your response strikes me as extremely significant. Even if it had been only 1 out of 100, it would have been significant.
What I would like to do now is write back to the other respondents and see if I can elicit a response to what you have said. I will not identify you, of course, unless you wish, but if there is anything you can add to what you wrote on the questionnaire (further remarks, bibliographical references), I would like to include it.
You wrote, in case you don't recall, in answer to "With what components?":
"Ribonucleotide triphosphates, enzymes, salts & buffer, RNA synthesizing machine."
In answer to "Since what year has this been possible?," you wrote:
"HIV-1 1985; HIV-2 1986 (once the nucleotide sequence of the viruses was known)."
I find it very difficult to understand, if this is only a matter of science, why even my little survey has produced such different answers.
I purposely limited my question and treated it as a purely scientific one, because I know that the further questions and implications are highly political and sensitive (to put it mildly). I don't want to ask you to comment on any of that, but if you wish to (just for my information, not for the letter I'm thinking of sending to the other respondents), of course I would be very interested to know your opinion.
I assume that you know what I'm talking about: the question of an artificial origin of AIDS has been around for some time, though ignored by the mass media. There are the recent polio (and earlier smallpox) vaccine theories, the theories of Jakob Segal, John Seale, Robert Strecker, etc. If the viruses cannot be produced artificially now, however, the question of an (accidental) artificial origin some years ago, though it does not disappear, is more speculative. If the viruses can be produced in the laboratory now, as you say they can, the next question is clear: How can one be sure that this capability did not exist prior to 1985-86 (e.g. in secret military research, the results of which can remain unpublished and unknown even in the "scientific community" for years)? (I don't know if you are aware that the DOD wanted, considered it possible, and asked Congress for the money to create an AIDS-like virus--though the term "AIDS" was not used--as early as 1969. I have the documentation if you'd like to see it.)
But as I said, I don't want to ask you to speculate on thesequestions. My primary purpose is still to get a reasonably satisfying "scientific" answer to the question I have posed. You have said the viruses can be made in the laboratory today, and that is certainly reason enough to wonder why the others say no. No one said they didn't know, that the answer is not yet known, unknowable, etc., although I specifically mentioned these possibilities. So I am left with flatly contradictory opinions by presumably equally qualified experts. Though obviously this may happen on many questions, I don't see how it is possible on this particular question, because it is testable by experiment.
What would be necessary to prove that what you say is correct-- which would mean, of course, that the others are wrong? Has anyone actually made HIV-1 or -2 in the lab? Would that be the only incontrovertible proof that it is possible? Would it be difficult? Time-consuming? Legal? Would you need access to controlled substances or special facilities (e.g. a P-4 lab)? Sincerely,
I did not hear from Professor Smith again.
3. Conspiracy theories
I felt that I had given it my best shot. I hadn't heard much lately from Segal, either, but after all, he was in his eighties. He published another book in 1991 called AIDS--Zellphysiologie, Pathologie und Therapie (Essen: Neuer Weg), but it is a highly technical work and I haven't read it, nor have I heard of any reactions to it. He doesn't discuss the question of origin in this book, but since it is based on the thesis that HIV-1 is essentially a form of Visna, if this work is scientifically sound it will support his origins thesis. But how, if ever, will I know that?
In January 1992 a German television program repeated the old accusation that Segal had developed his origins theory for the Stasi, the (former) East German intelligence service. Segal responded as follows (my translation):
Public Statement by Prof. Jakob Segal
On January 28, 1991, the German television program "Panorama" claimed the theory that the AIDS virus HIV-1 was developed for military purposes by the Pentagon was an invention of the (former) East German intelligence service (Stasi). The writers Stefan Heym (East) and Mario Simmel (West) were said to have fallen for this lie and helped to spread it further.
This claim is completely false. The suspicion that HIV-1 originated in the laboratory was discussed as early as 1984 at the annual meeting of the American Academy for the Advancement of Science. Then the American researchers Robert Gallo and Max Essex launched a counter-theory suggesting an African origin, which was publicly described by the World Health Organization asscientifically untenable. This theory contained such obvious errors that I became curious and joined the discussion in 1985. By careful analysis of molecular genetic and immunological data I was able to prove that the AIDS virus in fact resulted from splicing part of the human-cancer-causing virus HTLV-1 into the virus that causes the fatal sheep disease known as Visna.
In the meantime official documentation has been discovered which proves that the Pentagon requested 10 million dollars as early as 1969 for the purpose of developing a virus that would destroy the human immune system, i.e. a synthetic AIDS-like virus. My theory is thus supported by the documentary record, and no convincing scientific arguments have appeared to refute it. Nevertheless, for reasons that are all too clear, no reputable scientific journal will publish my work.
The first non-scientific journal to publish my theory, along with the similar ones of John Seale of Great Britain and the American Robert Strecker, was the London Sunday Times in the fall of 1986. On the basis of comprehensive materials I distributed, some African scientists then put together a brochure which was distributed at the Conference of Non- Aligned Nations in Harare. After that my theory began to arouse some interest in official circles. Representatives from the US embassy, the East German Ministry of Health and the Stasi talked with me. I was invited to give a series of lectures in West Germany with well-qualified discussion partners, but I had much worse luck in my own country of East Germany. There I was not allowed to present my views in any journals, and the only lecture I gave to a sizeable audience was organized by a dissident church group.
In view of this history, it is ridiculous to claim that the Stasi thought up this theory and ordered me to propagate it. Nobody in the Stasi had the technical expertise to have produced such a theory. It was my work and mine alone, and I refuse to allow a few sensation-hungry journalists to deprive me of the credit for it.
January 30, 1992
Prof. Dr. sc. Jakob Segal
Leipziger Str. 43
O-1080 Berlin, Germany
(End of Part 3.) ttal to Segal, not simply a repetition of the claims that Segal had (seemingly) refuted, including the claim that there is evidence of AIDS before 1979.Segal has consistently argued that this evidence is inconclusive.
This had no discernible consequences. It seemed the question of the origin of AIDS was taboo, and had been for several years. Segal could be denounced, but not discussed.
Then, on March 3, 1992, I saw a surprising report on CNN, which I had recorded and was thus able to transcribe:
CNN: A Texas researcher has a new theory about how the AIDS virus developed. He says it mutated from a virus that causes an AIDS- like disease in monkeys and that humans were inoculated with it. His claim is detailed in Rolling Stone magazine. "The Origin of AIDS" proposes a shocking theory: that the AIDS virus, now known to have existed in monkeys, may have spread to humans through, of all things, experimental polio vaccinations. Tom Curtis (freelance writer): The polio vaccine did great things in terms of sparing us, you know, the dreaded scourge of that period, but it would be a terrible irony to find that it brought another scourge. I sort of hope against hope that this hypothesis is wrong, but it is testable.
CNN: Curtis found that a quarter million people in Africa were inoculated by American doctors with an experimental polio vaccine. That vaccine was produced using the kidney tissues of monkeys. More recent research has shown that some monkeys carry a virus similar to the one that now causes AIDS.
Curtis: "If those monkey kidneys were contaminated, it would be an efficient way to spread the disease, that is to say, the disease of AIDS."
CNN: Far-fetched? Yes, according to the polio-pioneering doctors quoted in Curtis's story. One is quoted as saying, "You're beating a dead horse. It does not make sense. But one AIDS researcher is not dismissing the theory.
Dr. Robert Bohannon (AIDS researcher): Nobody will ever know unless those stocks are turned over for analysis.
CNN: Dr. Robert Bohannon has done AIDS research at Baylor and M.D. Anderson. He has requested samples of the original polio vaccines so that he can test them for AIDS-related viruses. One researcher has sent him some very early vaccine, another has not responded. The federal government, which also holds some of the original vaccines, is considering his request. If he does find the AIDS-related virus in the vaccines, he says the polio researchers themselves should not be faulted.
Bohannon: If they had known that there was anything like HIV or SIV in those, I'm sure they would not have used them. They would have found something else.
CNN: So for now Bohannon continues to wait for more samples to come from the government and from polio researchers--samples of polio vaccine that could help to answer the question, Where did AIDS come from? Elsewhere, Dr. Bohannon's theory of how AIDS developed has not yet been reviewed by other scientists or appeared in scientific journals.
This was the first discussion of the origins question I had heard or read in the media in years, outside of the Rote Fahne, and here it was on CNN! I was astounded. This theory was considerably less explosive than Segal's, but the essential implication was not that different: AIDS was created by human error. Someone was responsible. Maybe not the US government, but someone.
A couple of weeks later there was another interesting news item. MacNeil-Lehrer reported on 3/25/92 that nearly 50% of the 210,000 documented AIDS cases in the US were blacks, Hispanic, native, Americans or Asians--blacks forming 31% of the new cases, although they are only 12% of the population. Blacks and minorities, then,are clearly getting hit disproportionately hard by AIDS, just as gays, intravenous drug users and prostitutes are.
These figures referred only to the US. Worldwide, given the proliferation of the disease in Africa and the rest of the Third World, the disproportion of non-whites getting the disease is much greater. Surveys reported at the 4th International Conference on AIDS in Africa, held in Marseilles on Oct. 18-20, 1989, gave the percentage of HIV infections ranging from 10% to 60%, depending on the population tested. The percentage for the US as a whole is only 0.4% (about 1 million in a population of 250 million).
The effect of the disease, in other words, regardless of the causes, is genocidal. The non-white populations of Africa, India and Asia are being decimated while the predominately white populations of Europe and the US are escaping relatively unscathed. The same is true of the people living under Third World conditions within the US, who are mostly non-white. Steven Thomas, a public health researcher at the University of Maryland who researched 1000 blacks in five cities, said on the MacNeil-Lehrer program:
"Consistently, people wanted to know, was it man-made, was it a form of genocide? Are the numbers from the government true? We now have sufficient data to demonstrate that mistrust of government reports on AIDS is real, and that the belief that AIDS is a form of genocide is real."
Robert MacNeil commented:
"Thomas says that mistrust of government springs in part from blacks' lasting memories of incidents like the Tuskegee syphilis study (Condemned to Die for Science) undertaken by the federal government in 1932. 400 Alabama black who had syphilis were studied and later deprived of penicillin, decades after it became the standard treatment."
And Thomas continued:
"It is part of the subconscious history that all black people carry, in terms of their mistrust of those who come into their communities offering help, because that's how the Tuskegee study began, with an effort to improve health care delivery to blacks in the deep rural south."
Again, I was astounded. I hadn't heard of this. Nobody was talking about Segal, but apparently millions of black Americans suspected that AIDS was a form of genocide! This went a lot further than Segal had gone.
The year that Robert MacNeil had mentioned, 1932, the year of the Tuskegee syphilis study, struck me, because that was also the year of the Third International Conference of Eugenics, which I had recently read about. It's sponsors included some famous names: Mrs. H. B. Dupont, Col. William Draper (an investment banker associated with the Harriman interests), Mrs. Averell Harriman (mother of Democratic Party leader Averell Harriman), Dr. J. Harvey Kellog (of Kellog's cereals), Major Leonard Darwin (son ofCharles Darwin), Mrs. John T. Pratt and Mrs. Walter Jennings (both of Standard Oil), Mr. and Mrs. Cleveland H. Dodge (of Phelps-Dodge mining interests). Henry Fairchild Osborn, a nephew of J. P. Morgan and vice-president of the conference, opened it by saying:
"I have reached the opinion that over-population and underemployment may be regarded as twin sisters. From this point of view I even find that the United States [then with a population of 112 million] is overpopulated at the present....In nature the less fitted individuals would gradually disappear, but in civilization we are keeping them in the community in the hopes that in brighter days they may find employment. This is only another instance of humane civilization going directly against the order of nature and encouraging the survival of the unfittest."
This seems less than innocuous considering that the conference unanimously elected Dr. Ernst Rudin as President of the International Federation of Eugenics Organizations. Rudin became the architect of Hitler's "racial hygiene" policies and trained the medical personnel who conducted the Nazis' first extermination program, killing 40,000 mental patients. The Nazi "eugenics" (i.e. racist) policies were supported until the late 1930's by the Eugenics Record Office in Cold Spring Harbor, New York, which had been founded and endowed by the Harriman family in 1910. Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, today a major center of molecular biological research (headed by James Watson, the co-discoverer of DNA), had itself been founded six years earlier under the name "Station for Experimental Evolution" by similarly elite financial interests: the J. P. Morgan, Rockefeller, Vanderbilt, and Carnegie families.
Obviously, the power elite has been interested in eugenics, now known as genetic engineering, for a long time.
The 1932 Tuskegee syphilis study was not the first time blacks have been disproportionately affected by diseases which the government wilfully neglected. In the early years of this century, hundreds of thousands of Americans died every year from pellagra and related opportunistic diseases. Almost all the deaths occurred in the rural south, and 50% of the victims were black. Although the cause of pellagra--niacin deficiency, which can be cured by a balanced diet--was discovered in 1915 by Dr. Joseph Goldberger of the US Public Health Service, these findings were not accepted and acted upon until the mid-1930s.
During these two decades, in which 6 million people died of the disease, the Eugenics Record Office conducted a massive campaign to discredit Goldberger's work and continue the idea that pellagra resulted from a hereditary defect. Charles Davenport, the Office director and chairman of the National Pellagra Commission, continued to argue that susceptibility to pellagra was inherited, just as the susceptibility to tuberculosis was among Irish Americans was, so that all attempts to improve dietary or sanitary conditions among the affected groups were futile.
4. The "population bomb"
"Eugenics" today, of course, is a taboo concept, since Hitlershowed us all too clearly what could be made of it. Since the war, however, the closely related question of "population control" has been very much a part of elite agendas: e.g., the Population Council, founded by the Rockefeller Foundation in 1952; the Population Crisis Committee, founded by General Draper in 1966, which included Gen. Maxwell Taylor, McGeorge Bundy and Robert McNamara; the Office of Population Affairs, founded by Henry Kissinger in 1966 as part of the State Department.
The importance of population control to the US government is well illustrated by a secret document prepared under the direction of Henry Kissinger in 1974 called "National Security Study Memorandum 200."It was not declassified until 1989 and finally released by the National Archives in 1990--16 years after completion (12/10/74). The very fact that this document was classified is a good example of how fascistic the notion of "national security"has become. How could such a document endanger national security, and why shouldn't American citizens have a right to read it?
The answer is stated clearly in the document itself. The government's concern with Third World population growth might be interpreted as "imperialistic":
"The US can help to minimize charges of an imperialist motivation behind its support of population activities by repeatedly asserting that such support derives from a concern with (a) the right of the individual to determine freely and responsibly their number and spacing of children...and (b) the fundamental social and economic development of poor countries..." (p. 115).
In other words, propaganda must be used to disguise the true nature of US interest in population control, and for the same reason the American people were not allowed to know what policies their "democratic" government was implementing in their name. The real government interest in population control was, and is, not humanitarian at all but political and economic:
"The political consequences of current population factors in the LDCs [Less Developed Countries]--rapid growth, internal migration, high percentages of young people, slow improvement in living standards, urban concentrations, and pressures for foreign migration--are damaging to the internal stability and international relations of countries in whose advancement the US is interested, thus creating political or even national security problems for the US (p. 10).
"If these [adverse socio-economic] conditions result in expropriation of foreign interests, such action,from an economic viewpoint,is not in the best interests of either the investing country or the host government (p. 11).
"While specific goals in this are difficult to state, our aim should be for the world to achieve a replacement level of fertility, (a two- child family on the average), by about the year 2000.This will require the present 2% growth rate to decline to 1.7% within a decade and to 1.1% by 2000. Compared to the UN medium projection, this goal would result in 500 million fewer people in 2000 and about 3 billion fewer in 2050. Attainment of this goal will require greatly intensified population programs. A basis for developing national population growth control targets to achieve this world target is contained in the World Population Plan of Action.
"The World Population Plan of Action is not self-enforcing and will require vigorous efforts by interested countries, UN agencies and other international bodies to make it effective. US leadership is essential.The strategy must include the following elements and actions:
"(a) Concentration on key countries. "Assistance for population moderation should give primary emphasis to the largest and fastest growing developing countries where there is special US political and strategic in terests. Those countries are:India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nigeria, Mexico, Indonesia, Brazil, the Philippines, Thailand,Egypt, Turkey, Ethiopia and Colombia. Together,they accountfor 47% of the world's current population increase. (It should be recognized that at present AID bilateral assistance to someof these countries may not be acceptable.) Bilateral [US] assistance, to the extent that funds are available, will be given to other countries, considering such factors as population growth, need for external assistance, long-term US interests and willingness to engage in self-help....At the same time, the US will look to the multilateral agencies--especially the UN Fund for Population Activities which already has projects in over 80 countries--to increase population assistance on a broader basis with increased US contributions" (p. 14-15).
In other words, food and economic assistance will be used to blackmail countries the US considers overpopulated--especially the 13 "key" countries named--into reducing their population growth. Otherwise these superfluous populations might cause "interruptions of supply," since "the US economy will require large and increasing amounts of minerals from abroad, especially from less developed countries" (p. 43). For example,
"Bangladesh is now a fairly solid supporter of Third World positions, advocating better distribution of the world's wealth and extensive trade concessions to poor nations. As its problems grow and its ability to gain assistance fails to keep pace, Bangladesh's positions on international issues likely will become radicalized, inevitably in opposition to US interests on major issues as it seeks to align itself with others to force adequate aid" (p. 80).
Heaven forbid that the starving millions in Bangladesh should become so "radicalized" as to question the right of Americans, who constitute 6% of the world population, to consume 33% of the world's goods!
The answer to this threat is not only economic blackmail but energetic assistance in family planning, though one must be careful to avoid "charges of an imperialist motivation" by emphasizing that it is all for their own good and working through national leaders and international institutions:
"Beyond seeking to reach and influence national leaders,improved worldwide support for population-related efforts should be sought through increased emphasis on mass media and other population education and motivation programs by the UN, USIA and USAID. We should give higher priorities in our information programs worldwide for this area and consider expansion of collaborative arrangements with multilateral institutions in population education programs" (p. 117).
Nevertheless, "some controversial, but remarkably successful, experiments in India in which financial incentives, along with other motivational devices, were used to get large numbers of men to accept vasectomies" (p. 138). In Brazil, too, extraordinary "success" has been achieved in persuading women to practice birth control, primarily with the pill and sterilization, a success many attribute to the unspoken pressures of the IMF and the World Bank. Indeed, such achievements are quite in line with the thinking of Robert McNamara, who became president of the World Bank (1968-81) after presiding over the Vietnam War as Secretary of Defense (1961-68).
On October 2, 1979, McNamara told a group of international bankers:
"We can begin with the most critical problem of all, population growth. As I have pointed out elsewhere, short of nuclear war itself, it is the gravest issue that the world faces over the decades immediately ahead...If current trends continue, the world as a whole will not reach replacement-level fertility--in effect, an average of two children per family--until about the year 2020. That means that some 70 years later the world's population would finally stabilize at about 10 billion individuals compared with today's 4.3 billion.
"We call it stabilized, but what kind of stability would be possible? Can we assume that the levels of poverty, hunger, stress, crowding and frustration that such a situation could cause in the developing nations--which by then would contain 9 out of every 10 human beings on earth--would be likely to assure social stability? Or political stability? Or, for that matter, military stability? It is not a world that any of us would want to live in.
"Is such a world inevitable? It is not, but there are only two possible ways in which a world of 10 billion people can be averted. Either the current birth rates must come down more quickly. Or the current death rates must go up. There is no other way.
"There are, of course, many ways in which the death rates can go up. In a thermonuclear age, war can accomplish it very quickly and decisively. Famine and disease are nature's ancient checks on population growth, and neither one has disappeared from the scene."
This Malthusian point of view is obviously deeply entrenched among the governing elite. Although "population control" sounds different from "eugenics," it amounts to the same thing. Thepopulations that are being controlled, that supposedly need to be controlled, are not those of Europe and the United States but those of the "LDCs"--exactly the same populations that the eugenicists would consider less productive, less civilized and less worthy of proliferation.
This is of course a philosophy that dares not speak its name, hence the secrecy of documents such as NSSM 200. The facts are clear. Birth control is not sufficient to achieve the "stabilization" goals that McNamara, Kissinger et al. have set. Overpopulation remains "life- threatening," an opinion confirmed by many supposedly politically neutral organizations such as World Watch and the Club of Rome.
Since it is impolitic to speak of the "population problem" in plain words--that is, too many poor people--in recent years it hasbecome integrated within a complex of problems called "development" and "the environment." Again, commentators are chary of formulating their thoughts on the relationship between population growth and development, and between population growth and pollution, in plain terms, but the implications are always clear.
"There is no doubt that population growth is inextricably linked to development," says the Washington Post ("Forge a Population Plan," reprinted in the International Herald Tribune, 6/8/92:6). "International efforts to help countries out of poverty founder when very high rates of population growth outstrip progress." The link, clearly, is that overpopulation causes poverty and hinders development. "But this truth, so obvious to economists and other planners, cannot be presented as a demand or used as a threat. Language matters....In fact, the debate should be framed in terms of 'family planning'..." In other words, the victims are to blame, but we shouldn't tell them that in so many words.
The poor are not only responsible for their own poverty because they reproduce too fast, they are also responsible for pollution. This logic seems compelling when we see the pictures of teeming multitudes living in squalor. There are too many of them, we think, so they are poor and forced to live in their own dirt. Herein lies the fallacy: it is their dirt, not ours.
Pollution in a global sense has little to do with poverty and everything to do wealth, but the contradictory assumption persists. In covering the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio, Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post writes that the "ranks of the have-nots continue to grow rapidly," and "UN demographers expect global population to double to more than 10 billion by the middle of the next century, with most of the increase coming in the poorest countries" ("One Summit, Differing Goals," reprinted in the International Herald Tribune 6/2/92:1). Robinson laments that "while the population boom has an impact on the whole range of environmental concerns- -carbon-dioxide emissions, deforestation, water pollution, extinction of plant and animal species--the Rio summit is expected to skirt the people issue." It is the "people issue"-- population growth--according to William Stevens of the New York Times, that "lies at the root of the global environmental problem" (6/15/92:2), meaning poor people, since they are the ones with the population boom, "along with rich countries' wastefulconsumption patterns."
It may be true that overpopulation causes pollution, but it is the ranks of the haves, not of the have-nots, who are the problem. The same IHT article just quoted (6/2/92:1) acknowledges that "23% of the world's people receive 85% of its income." This same fifth of the population constitutes the industrialized world, which, as we can also read in the IHT, produces 80% of the pollution that (probably) causes global warming (5/21/92:3). The same is true of deforestation, water pollution, and species extinction. The rain forest is not being cut down to feed or house the indigenous population, but to satisfy the consumer demands and capitalist greed of the First World. As Paul Ehrlich said in a Newsweek interview, "the most serious population problem is in the United States" (5/25/92:56, international edition). The real threat to the environment is posed not by the poor but by the rich, as "aproduct of population and per-capita consumption."
Why are these facts consistently turned on their head? Because the burgeoning ranks of the poor threaten not the environment but the wealth, power, and "national security" of the ruling elite. The real problem, for the haves, is that too many have-nots leads to political instability, as NSSM 200 makes clear.
The propaganda is designed to disguise this truth. Who does not say to himself, seeing the pictures on TV of starving multitudes, "If only there weren't so many of them!" Who stops to think that they could say the same thing, with more justification, about us? Who is reminded that a fraction of the energy and funds our governments spend on weaponry could feed and house the entire world? The conclusion is taken for granted, though it is false: there's not enough to go around; there are too many people; we can't help them all without hurting ourselves; they want what we've got. Thomas Malthus elevated these principles of greed to economic "law": The population will always outgrow its ability to feed itself; therefore, control by war and natural catastrophe (famine, disease) is not only natural but necessary. We can assuage our consciences by donating to the Red Cross, but the poor bastards, most of them, will die anyway. It's in the nature of things. Nothing can be done.
Darwin contributed the doctrine of the survival of the fittest to this view of "natural order." If white Europeans survive at the expense of black Africans, if the rich survive at the expense of the poor, it's only "natural." Wars, too, are "natural." Men fight because only the fittest are destined to survive. Let the best men win. Death in battle is quicker and less painful, after all, than death by disease, starvation or natural catastrophe, which are the only alternatives for the "less fit" populations of the planet.
Malthus wrote at the beginning of the 19th century and Darwin somewhat later. Neither could have foreseen the technological achievements that have been made since. Few of us realize, either, the full potential of these achievements. When someone like Buckminster Fuller comes along and tells us we have the technological capability of providing the basic necessities of life to every human being on earth, with plenty of room to spare, we call him an eccentric, a hopeless dreamer, without bothering tofind out if he is correct. Our view of reality has been conditioned by elite spokesmen like Robert McNamara, who envision a world of 10 billion people as unliveable, a horror second only to nuclear holocaust. We do not stop to calculate that even with 10 billion people, the average population density worldwide would be less than one-third that of former West Germany.
The greatest fallacy in the elitist Malthusian scenario, however, is the assumption that overpopulation causes poverty. The reverse is true: poverty causes overpopulation. Poverty can be reduced, of course, by reducing the number of poor people, which is what we really mean by "population control." It can also be reduced, however, by development, that is, by humane development, designed to eliminate rather than exploit poverty, which automatically reduces population growth. This is another much- disguised fact, but we need only look around us to see the proof. The mostdeveloped countries, and the ones with the highest level of equality in the distribution of wealth, are the ones whose populations have stabilized (Scandinavia, Germany). This is "natural," if anything is. Reproducing in quantity has always been the peasant's way of surviving from one generation to the next. It is nature's way of compensating the poor and oppressed.
And they know it! As Steven Thomas says, it is part of their "subconscious history." Of course "family planning" is doomed to fail when their subconscious history warns them to beware of "those who come into their communities offering help." The logic of having fewer children so as to be able to take better care of them doesn't work with them. They have nothing, so what can they give to two children that they cannot give to ten or twenty? The two would probably die, but of ten or twenty some would survive and perhaps improve their lot. This is the logic of the poor, learned and confirmed throughout history and applied instinctively.
The most effective method of birth control, therefore, is to fight poverty. The better off people are, the less they reproduce. As the standard of living improves, the birth rate decreases. This is confirmed by history and observation of the world around us. Malthus and Darwin's contemporaries did not have the technological means for doing this, but we do. We have the means to produce and distribute the necessities of life for every person on the planet, without anyone having to give up his TV set, car, house, etc. I suspect the Rockefellers and the Harrimans and the DuPonts could even keep their billions. I don't have the figures to prove it, but I'm sure one could produce them. The idea only seems so crazy because we have absorbed the propaganda to the contrary so thoroughly.
The rich, who disseminate the propaganda, are not interested in fighting poverty because they fear a redistribution of wealth. But they are in part victims of their own propaganda. Their fears are exaggerated: there is enough to go around. The world could remain as undemocratic as it is, with the same class differences, but the underclass could be lifted to a considerably less miserable state. This would also be a safer world for the privileged, because the ranks of the have-nots, having a little more, would be less prone to revolt. The rich would still have their slaves--to fight their wars, run their factories, build their roads, make their Porsches and Lear jets and yachts and Rolexes, etc.--but they would be happier slaves.
Unfortunately, I doubt that this attitude is widespread on Wall Street or among the Fortune 500 or Social Register types. As I said, in part they are victims of their own propaganda. It wouldn't work, they would say. They would have to sacrifice too much. And who said happy slaves are good slaves? Give an inch, they'll take a mile. Feed, clothe and house them, and pretty soon they'll want leisure time. The idle mind being the devil's workshop, they'll soon start thinking, and then we'll really be in trouble. But the more important point, quite simply, is why should the rich and powerful give a hoot about the poor? Why should they care more than the rest of us? Given the choice--and we do have the choice--of letting the poor die off or eliminating poverty, the former solution is by far the easier and more practical one.
Still, it is not all that simple to let Malthus' and Darwin's "nature" take its course, because "nature" is not what it was a hundred years ago. Modern technology and medicine have changed things. The poor do not die fast enough anymore. There are not enough natural disasters, fewer fatal diseases. Nuclear war, as McNamara said, would solve the problem, but it is impractical. Family planning isn't effective enough. Mandatory birth control, as in China, is incompatible with the tenets of a democratic society. Famine is not effective in the long run, because societies that like to think of themselves as humane cannot tolerate pictures of starving babies forever. That leaves conventional warfare and disease as "natural" inhibitors of population growth.
War has always been an effective agent for population reduction in the Third World, but it is dangerous. Proxy wars have an insidious tendency to involve their sponsors, in one way or another. There is always the danger of their getting out of hand, especially with more and more nuclear, chemical and biological weapons in the hands of poor countries. There is the threat to Third World resources, such as oil, on which the rest of the world depends. Finally, there is the danger that the rich countries may get directly involved in the fighting--as in Vietnam.
Limited warfare (an oxymoron) is a compromise solution. It is true that nine years of war in Vietnam reduced the population of Southeast Asia by several million people, and the underclass population of the US also by tens of thousands. The point is made with unusual clarity in an early, excellent film about the JFK assassination called Executive Action (1973). In the film, Big Oil (Will Geer) pulls the strings from the top, and Burt Lancaster plays the role equivalent to General Y (Lansdale) in Oliver Stone's JFK, i.e. the operational head of the assassination project. Another character, played by Robert Ryan, is the middleman, apparently a media mogul (shown a number of times in what appears to be a television studio). Big Oil and his cohorts are greatly troubled by the test ban treaty, Kennedy's support of the civil rights movement, etc., and finally gives the go-ahead for the assassination when the White House announces the withdrawal plan on Oct. 2, 1963. This much is in line with the Stone movie, but the following brief dialogue between Ryan and Lancaster introduces a further dimension:
Ryan: The real problem is this, James. In two decades there'll be 7 billion human beings on this planet, most of them brown, yellow or black, all of them hungry, all of them determined to love and swarm out of their breeding grounds into Europe and North America. Hence Vietnam. An all-out effort there will give us control of south Asia for decades to come, and with proper planning we can reduce the population to 550 million by the end of the century. I know, I've seen the data.
Lancaster: We sound rather like gods reading the Doomsday Book, don't we?
Ryan: Well, someone has to do it. Not only will the nations affected be better off, but the techniques developed there can be used to reduce our own excess population--blacks, Puerto Ricans, Mexican-Americans, poverty-prone whites, and so forth.
But eventually, as Vietnam demonstrated, people get tired of war. Furthermore, conventional warfare does not kill enough people to make a significant difference in the population figures. What's a few million here, a few million there? These figures don't make a dent in the projections of population growth that have the power elite so worried.
5. AIDS as genocide?
McNamara spoke to his fellow bankers in 1979 of a world populated by 10 billion people by the year 2090 as "not a world that any of us would want to live in." If this is a horror vision, what must he think in 1992, when the projections are considerably more alarming? "UN demographers expect global population to double to more than 10 billion by the middle of the next century, with most of the increase coming in the poorest countries," says Eugene Robinson (op. cit.). McNamara's unliveable world is only 58 years away! This leaves us with the last of the Malthusian alternatives to nuclear war: disease.
Enter AIDS, in the same year (1979) that McNamara was describing Third World population growth as the greatest threat to mankind "short of nuclear war itself" and four years after the secret Kissinger study described it as a national security threat.
Technology, in the form of modern medicine, has the troublingly "unnatural" tendency to keep more people alive longer than was possible in Malthus' day, but AIDS, almost miraculously, has solved the problem. Provided a cure remains elusive for another decade or so, the population bomb will be totally defused. For the elite, given the choice between an "unliveable world" of 10 billion people and AIDS, the latter must come as a godsend.
The International AIDS Center at the Harvard School of Public Health has predicted 120 million AIDS infections by the year 2000 ("Grim Global Outlook on AIDS," IHT, 6/4/92:1). Even this doesn't seem like much compared to global population figures (currently 5.4 billion; cf. IHT 6/1/92:2). But the increase in infections since 1981 has been more than 100-fold: from 100,000 infections in 1981 to 12.9 million in 1992 (2.5 million deaths). The increase from 1992 to 2000, according to the Harvard AIDS Center, will be almost ten-fold. Even if the disease continues to spread at a much slower rate--say, one-tenth as fast--the number of infections would double every ten years. Let us compare these projections with the estimates of population growth that have been made without the AIDS factor:
AIDS Infections Global Population (without counting deaths from AIDS)
1992 12,900,000 5,400,000,000
2020 480,000,000 "replacement-level fertility" (1)
2025 8,500,000,000 (2)
2090 10,000,000,000 (1)
2100 14,000,000,000 (3)
(1) McNamara's 1979 estimates
(2) Population Reference Bureau, IHT 5/22-23/93:3
(3) Greenpeace Magazin 1/93:19
According to these figures, the human race will become extinct sometime between 2060 and 2070!
Surely no one is counting on such a grim scenario, but it is clear that population growth estimates will have to be drastically revised to take account of the AIDS toll, unless a cure is found soon. By the same token, McNamara's horror vision of a 10-billion global population will be easily averted.
In other words, AIDS may solve the "population problem." Not only will the "death rates" rise significantly, but they will rise in the right places, namely in the Third World. Since the populations being decimated by AIDS are the same ones suffering most from overpopulation, it is hard to see how anyone who considers the latter the "gravest issue" facing mankind "short of nuclear war itself" could be unhappy about AIDS. Obviously, no one is going to admit this publicly--unless he is as stupid as Prince Philip, who said in 1988 that if he were reborn he would like to return as a deadly virus in order to help solve the population problem--but the logic, if unspeakable, is inescapable.
The logic has not escaped those who are directly affected, as Steven Thomas' research showed. The New York Times, however, finds it "bizarre" that blacks think AIDS is a form of genocide ("AIDS and Black America," reprinted in the IHT, 5/13/92:6). According to the polls they quote, 35% of blacks think AIDS is a form of genocide, 10% believe it was created in a laboratory deliberately to infect blacks, and 20% think it might have been. This is "paranoia," says the NYT, based on "pernicious and dispiriting rumors" which "black leaders and public figures with high credibility like Magic Johnson could do much to discredit." Dispiriting, yes, but why pernicious? Whom do they threaten? Who is the NYT protecting? The words "paranoia" and "rumor" presume that the rumors are unfounded, but what is the basis of this presumption? The only theories of the origin of AIDS that have proven to be unfounded, though they still circulate in the press, are the ones about green monkeys and isolated African villages. The NYT quotes a black health worker who testified to the National Commission on AIDS that "until it was proved otherwise she considered AIDS a man- made disease." This is not paranoia, but common sense. The best explanation for the known facts can be considered true until a better explanation comes along.
What are the facts? Here are five, as I see them: 1. No socially transmitted disease has ever appeared so suddenly and spread so rapidly as AIDS.
2. It is possible to create pathogenic viruses by genetic engineering. The crucial, and as yet unanswered, questions are: a) is it possible to create HIV this way now; b) if so, exactly when did this become possible; c) when did the first case of AIDS in fact appear?
3. Plausible scientific arguments have been made to support various theories of an artificial origin of AIDS, though these arguments have been suppressed in both the mainstream press and in scientific literature.
4. The Pentagon thought it possible and wanted to create an AIDS- like virus in 1969 and asked Congress for the money to do so (MacArthur's testimony before the House Subcommittee, July 9, 1969).
5. Neither the government nor the press nor the scientific community has made any effort to bring the above facts to the attention of the public, much less investigate their possible significance.
Given these facts, it demands a huge leap of faith not to suspect the worst. I don't recall anyone calling Anita Bryant and the clean- thinking crowd paranoid because it occurred to them that AIDS was God's scourge upon the wicked. Why is it paranoid to suspect human beings of genocide, but not to suspect God? Why blame God? God has never been convicted of persecuting or killing blacks, homosexuals, drug addicts or prostitutes. Human beings have. We have a rich historical record to demonstrate the horrors which man is quite able and willing to inflict on his fellow man. AIDS could be another one.
It is not difficult to imagine that if our worst suspicions are correct, those responsible have convinced themselves that they are doing God's work. If one accepts the Malthusian premise, AIDS may appear to be the only feasible way to keep the world from becoming unliveable, which would make its inventor a hero! Is it not worth sacrificing a few billion lives to disease, if it means saving the human species as a whole and preserving the earth as a "liveable place"? Are these not exactly the same grandiose strategic terms, the same philosophy, that our rulers use to justify all the wars they force us to endure? The relative few must be sacrificed for the greater good. A few million to save South Vietnam, a few billion to save the world.
Of course, the catch is that the "relative few" are always the relatively poor and powerless. It is the underclass who are the grunts in the AIDS war, just as they were in Vietnam and in all wars. Naturally, a portion of the middle class, and perhaps even a tiny fraction of the upper class, get caught under the wheels too, but this is a numbers game. And the numbers speak for themselves. They tell us that in the industrialized countries, it is non-whites, homosexuals, drug addicts and prostitutes who are getting hit disproportionately by AIDS. The NYT says more than half the AIDS cases are non-whites (31% blacks, according to the MacNeil- Lehrer report quoted above), and more than half the cases in women and children are blacks. Given the rate of spread of the disease in Africa and Asia, the percentage of non-whites who will be killed worldwide is much higher.
This does not necessarily add up to genocide, or to an artificial origin of the AIDS virus. It does add up to a lot of questions which, despite the New York Times, are neither "bizarre" nor "paranoid," and are not being asked. The answers may not be forthcoming, but if we do not ask the questions, we have no one to blame for the consequences but ourselves.
After posting what I have written so far (AIDS Contract 1-5) to the Internet, I carried on a discussion with several biologists that led me to the following additional conclusions:
1. I am convinced that the published genetic sequences (PGS) show greater similarity between HIV and SIV than between HIV and visna.
2. I am not convinced that the greater similarity between HIV and SIV would be confirmed by analysis of ANY sample of HIV. Segal says the early similarity of HIV and visna (and dissimilarity of HIV and SIV), confirmed by the first PGS, was simply forgotten after other analyses were published. If he is right, one would think there would be HIV samples around that do NOT conform to the PGS. But the onus must be on him (or someone else who suspects this) to prove it.
3. I am not convinced that there is any conclusive evidence of HIV before the first diagnosis in 1981. Segal attempts to debunk much of this evidence in his book (AIDS: Die Spur fuehrt ins Pentagon, Verlag Neuer Weg, Kaninenberghoehe 2, 45136 Essen, Germany, 1990), which unfortunately has still not appeared in English.
4. I am not convinced that AIDS began anywhere but in New York, because of 3.
5. Because of 3 and 4, I think it is correct to assume that AIDS is an entirely new disease -- not a new outbreak of an old disease. The analogies with bubonic plague and syphilis are false. Segal's suspicion that lyme disease may also be a product of military laboratories deserves a response.
6. I am certainly not convinced by the argument that secret (military, CIA) scientific research is only on "applications" and never fundamentally ahead of published research. Therefore, it seems quite possible to me that SIV, for example, was discovered long before 1985, and could have been one of the original components (rather than visna, as Segal contends) of an artifically produced HIV. At least one of the microbiologists I corresponded with admits that such a synthesis would have been possible by 1980, so we are only talking about a difference of a year or two, since Segal says it was made in late 1978. And we should not forget that "eminent scientists" (and the Pentagon) believed in 1969 that it would be possible in 5 to 10 years to make a "new infective microorganism" that would be "refractory to the immunological and therapeutic processes upon which we depend to maintain our relative freedom from infectious disease" (MacArthur testimony).
7. From what all my correspondents have said, I am convinced that HIV can be synthesized in the laboratory NOW. This seems to be generally known by experts, but it is still a secret, I think, as far as the public is concerned. That was the first question in the questionnaire I sent out in late 1991 to a number of well- known AIDS researchers: "Is it possible to produce HIV-1 or HIV-2 in the laboratory (by manipulating or combining other organisms or substances by gene surgery or other means)?" Since most of these researchers answered a flat "No" to this question, I must conclude that they were being disingenuous, and that their failure to answer the second question and third questions ("If so, since when has this been possible?" and "With what components?") was equally disingenuous.
When I published the above "amended" conclusions on the Internet, I again received responses, which I will quote briefly.
Re 2, one correspondent wrote:
"I've seen hundreds of HIV sequences, from all over the world, sequenced by many different people. Basically all you have to do is get a blood sample from someone, purify it, and run it through a sequencer. There's no way the "bad guys" could interfere with this.
"Segal's claims that HIV and visna were originally reported similar and that this has been covered up are unfounded. There is no coverup of the fact that HIV is a lentivirus and is related to visna. However, SIV is also a lentivirus and is closer to HIV than visna is.
"In conclusion, I've read the papers Segal referenced, but I couldn't find anything to support his theory that new sequences replaced the old ones. From the first, visna was suspected to be close to HIV, and it still is. The only thing that changed is visna used to be the closest known virus to HIV; when SIV was discovered, visna lost that role."
This is a pretty convincing challenge to Segal's argument that the similarity of visna and HIV was discovered early and then inexplicably ignored in favor of the new discovery of the similarity of HIV and SIV. I would like to have Segal's response, but since he is old and quite ill, I am afraid it will not be forthcoming.
Re 7, the same person wrote:
"I think this is an unfair interpretation. You asked a bunch of people, one said yes, so you're assuming the "yes" is right and everyone else is lying. I think the proper explanation is: a) this question can be interpreted several different ways; b) people can honestly give different answers on this question.
"I'll go into a bit more detail. First, when you ask is it possible to produce HIV in the laboratory, this can be interpreted as: i) Before HIV was discovered, would it be possible to deliberately design HIV and then produce it?
ii) Before HIV was discovered, would it be possible to produce HIV by trial-and-error?
iii) After HIV was discovered, analyzed and sequenced, would it be possible to make HIV from scratch?
"I think everyone would agree that (i) is impossible. My reason is that even after a decade of intensive research, nobody understands the details of some of the genes of HIV or how exactly HIV works. Thus, I consider it impossible for someone to sit down and design HIV even now, much less 10 years ago.
"The yes answer you received is clearly an answer to (iii), since he says it was possible with a RNA synthesizing machine "once the nucleotide sequence of the viruses was known". This is not an interesting answer from your point of view, since it assumes someone already has HIV. I would also say he's probably wrong in terms of it being possible in practice: in the 1970's, the longest piece of RNA synthesized was about 150 bases long; in the mid 1980's, the longest piece was about 1000 bases long, but HIV is about 10000 bases long.
"That leaves (ii), which is the question you're interested in. I would say that (ii) is possible in theory, but not possible in practice. Theoretically it is possible to form HIV from SIV by trial-and-error, since it is generally believed to have formed by evolution. However, since this is estimated to have taken hundreds or thousands of years and millions and millions of monkeys, it is not practical.
"In the lab, the changes you can make to a virus by trial-and- error are rather small. In the 1970's, there was a lot of work in modifying the virus used to infect E. Coli, to give it improved properties. These involved small changes to single genes, and the viruses could be tested immediately, but it still took years of effort. In the case of HIV, the virus is significantly different from SIV and contains an entirely new gene. In addition, if scientists wanted to check their progress, they would have to infect humans and wait years to see what happens, rather than hours for E. Coli viruses. Thus, I conclude that even if evil scientists had SIV and wanted to create a human version of it, it would probably take them hundreds of years to do it even if they had a good idea of how to check their progress. And this neglects the fact that SIV wasn't discovered until HIV was discovered, because after HIV scientists checked thousands of monkeys to find something related. Before HIV, nobody had any reason to look for SIV."
Another correspondent wrote:
"Another, far more true-to-life hypothesis is that most scientists are quite conservative about making off-the-wall, unorthodox predictions in any contexts. You may be familiar with Arthur C. Clarke's First Law: "When an elderly but eminent scientist says something is possible, he is almost certainly right; when he says something is impossible, he is almost certainly wrong." This is, in my experience, a very general phenomenon that readily accounts for the refusal of established biologists to consider the synthesis of HIV.
"I would also like to set you straight about my time predictions. I held 1980 as the earliest possible date at which HIV could begin to be synthesized in the best pure-research labs in the world. You seem to take this as meaning that HIV could be completed in non- specialized labs by 1978. This is a misrepresentation of my position."
My answer was as follows: Question 1 in my questionnaire, to which almost all the researchers who replied answered a flat "No," was: "Is it possible to produce HIV-1 or HIV-2 in the laboratory (by manipulating or combining other organisms or substances by gene surgery or other means)?" I don't see how this could have been (mis)interpreted as "After HIV was discovered, analyzed and sequenced, would it be possible to make HIV from scratch?" I was clearly not asking about making viruses "from scratch." You do not need to make a mule "from scratch." All you need is a horse and a donkey. Segal says the horse and donkey were visna and HTLV-1, though I purposely avoided being that specific.
Interpretation ii) also assumes that we are talking about "synthesizing" (i.e., making the virus "from scratch"), rather than gene-splicing (hybridization). Why should "the changes you can make to a virus by trial-and-error" be "rather small" if we are talking about hybidization? As for testing, that is precisely what Segal says the origin of AIDS was -- an accidental breakout of the virus from an experiment conducted on prisoners who volunteered as guinea pigs.
The argument that it would not have been "practical" to develop HIV from SIV because it would have taken "thousands of years and millions and millions of monkeys" begs the question. The question is: Did HIV evolve in nature, or did it come from a laboratory? If the latter is true, the discussion of evolution is entirely irrelevant.
Ditto the argument that HIV cannot have been made from SIV because "SIV wasn't discovered until HIV was discovered" (both in 1985, I think). The question is whether SIV was really discovered when it is thought to have been discovered, and whether the "discovery" of HIV was not the public discovery of a virus created some years earlier by secret biowarfare research.
Question 1 in my questionnaire says, quite clearly: Suppose you are one of the best virologists around, with all possible facilities, including samples of all kinds of viruses. Can you put a combination of them together that will end up looking like HIV, or something close to it? With genetic sequencing available now to compare the results, this question should be precisely answerable.
"Yes" to this question, of course, would lead to Questions 2 and 3 (since when has this been possible and with what components?). Again, I am not talking about making viruses "from scratch" or "by design" in the sense of constructing them according to genetic blueprints. I'm talking about mixing things together to see what you come up with. You don't need to know precisely what you're going to end up with beforehand.
For example, if you've got an immune deficiency virus that only attacks monkeys, you try adding things to it (like HTLV-1) to see if you can make it pathogenic to humans. How do you know if it's pathogenic to humans? You inject it in massive doses (to speed up the onset of disease) in various animals and human cell cultures, and when you've got something that looks promising, you test it on humans. (Segal is not the first person to note that prisoners -- and others -- have been used as guinea pigs in government- sponsored experiments.)
Does anyone really want to deny that the technology for doing this (making hybrid viruses) was available in the 1970s? Why else would "eminent biologists" have assured the Pentagon in 1969 that they could create a "new synthetic biological agent" ("synthetic" meaning simply "man-made," "not naturally occurring") between 1974 and 1979 that would attack the human immune system (MacArthur testimony)?
Biological warfare researchers would not have needed to create HIV from scratch or re-create it from a blueprint. They would not have needed RNA synthesizing machines (which, whatever they are, I assume were not around in the 70s), and they would not have needed hundreds of years to find out what the effects of their nasty products were. All they would have needed was the ability to make hybrid viruses, standard facilities for experiments with animals and human cell cultures, and, ultimately, a few human guinea pigs.
Perhaps the difficulty is that "normal" scientists simply cannot conceive of anyone TRYING to produce a disease agent. But that is precisely what biological and chemical warfare researchers do. That much is no secret."
My correspondent replied to this as follows:
"I've looked at the gene sequences carefully, with an open mind, and I can't see any way you could splice together known viruses (including SIV) to form HIV. (I've sent you the sequences; you can try yourself to cut and paste the viruses together to form HIV.)
"I've read the MacArthur testimony. It says they were looking for an agent refractory to immunological processes; this means something resisting immunological processes. The quoted testimony and other parts of the testimony state they are looking for a new agent for which people do not have natural immunity; this is entirely different from an agent that destroys the immune system. It is also much easier than producing something like HIV.
"I've read about the research into disease agents. I know roughly what sorts of problems they were looking at and hoped to solve with genetic engineering: making an agent without natural immunity, improving the virulence of agents, making agents more infective, and making agents more stable for distribution as aerosols and at high temperatures. They were looking at using raw nucleic acids rather than normal protein encapsulated viruses, in order to evade the immune system. They were also looking at more hypothetical possiblities such as splicing a toxin gene (e.g. botulism) into an infective virus. These are the sorts of new agents refractory to immunological and therapeutic processes that were being considered in the 1970's.
"Based on how recent genetic engineering was developed, the immense effort that academia and industry has poured into research, the comparatively limited amount of research by the military, the published reports of what the military was looking at, and the government support for academic research into genetic engineering, I don't think that there is any significant basic military research in genetic engineering ahead of what is publicly known. The MacArthur testimony makes it pretty clear that the military wasn't doing genetic engineering research in 1969, but based on what was happening outside they thought there might be military applications and they would like to start investigating this. I don't see when they would have had the time between 1969 and the mid 70's to get years ahead of public genetic engineering in fundamental research, even if they tried."
I don't see why you can't cut and paste viruses together to get HIV. I too looked again at the sequences you sent me, and drew lines between the letters that were the same (and in the same positions) in SIV and HIV. These identities amounted to about 70%, as you said. Certainly I could cut out the 30% of the SIV sequence that doesn't match and paste in sequences from other viruses (like HTLV-1?), until I have even greater similarity with HIV.
But I am not at all sure the "cut-and-paste" analogy is valid for the "shotgun" method of hybridization Segal says created HIV. This would have been a matter of putting viruses together to achieve not a 100% pre-determined sequence, but just enough identity with the component viruses to produce the desired pathogenic effects. A certain percentage of HIV's genetic makeup may have been "born" quite randomly, and thus not traceable to any other virus. This would be more like shuffling a deck of cards. Each time you shuffle, you will retain some percentage of sequential identity, depending on how carefully you shuffle, but the rest of the deck will be a random distribution. Similarly, HIV contains large chunks identical with visna and SIV, and smaller chunks identical with other viruses (HTLV-1?), but the rest of the genome may be a random (and thus unrecognizable) recombination of whatever the original components were. I could not expect, then, to "cut and paste" or map the *entire* HIV genome onto a combination of known viruses. Indeed, because of mutations, I suspect that it is difficult or impossible to match even various samples of HIV -- the "same" virus -- with 100% success.
In other words, HIV does not have to be completely identical with any combination of other viruses to have been made from them. It need only have retained enough identity with SIV or visna, for example, to cause immune deficiency, and enough identity with another virus or viruses (HTLV-1?) to make it pathogenic to humans. The rest of the genome may be unique.
Thus the argument that there is no "way you could splice together known viruses (including SIV) to form HIV" -- that is, 100% of HIV -- does not preclude the possibility that HIV was created this way. Part of the genome may have been "born" by a random combination of genes.
Let's try another analogy. Can you map the genome of a mule *exactly* onto a combination of the genomes of a horse and a donkey? I don't think so. Part of the mule is mule. But the mule still came from the horse and donkey.
As for the MacArthur testimony, According to my dictionary, "refractory" means "not responsive to treatment, e.g. a refractory disease." HIV is unresponsive -- resistant -- to the human immune system. Certainly this sentence refers to something more fundamentally dangerous than "a new agent for which people do not have natural immunity," as my correspondent puts it. They wanted an agent "for which no natural immunity *could* have been acquired," a completely new kind of *synthetic* microorganism, different from *any known* cause of disease. Not just an agent that could penetrate the immune system, but one that would *not respond* (be "refractory") to it, one that would beat the entire system, all "the immunological and therapeutic processes upon which we depend to maintain our relative freedom from infectious disease." This is not different from "an agent that destroys the immune system," as my correspondent says. It is precisely that. An agent that will defeat the immune system *must* be able to destroy it. In short, MacArthur's description of the "new infective microorganism" he wanted to make fits HIV quite well.
As for the history of secret biowar research, scant as it is, if the government was looking at splicing toxin genes into infective viruses in the 70s, why shouldn't they have been looking at splicing infective viruses into deadly sheep viruses, as Segal says? Since it is secret, how can my correspondent presume to know that military research has been "comparatively limited"? Why does he assume there is no "significant basic military research in genetic engineering ahead of what is publicly known"? We are not talking about soldiers playing scientists, but about top scientists doing top secret work funded directly or indirectly (through foundations, grants, private organizations, etc.) by the government, which they would not be allowed to talk or write about even if they wanted to. When he says "government support for academic research into genetic engineering," surely my corresondent realizes that this includes millions or billions of dollars in the "black budget" that is totally unaccounted for and can be allocated for secret projects through any number of channels. There is nothing new about this. If the government wants the science, and they want it secret, they can get it.
The MacArthur testimony makes it quite clear that the military was working very closely, and certainly secretly, with "eminent biologists" in 1969, and they were far beyond just "starting" to investigate the military applications of genetic engineering. They would not have asked for $10 million (equivalent to 25-30 million in 1993 dollars, I would estimate), and commit themselves to a timetable ("within the next 5 to 10 years") if they weren't pretty far along already. I haven't looked at the technical journals of the period -- and wouldn't understand much in them if I did -- but I would be very surprised to find anything published by "eminent biologists" at the time equivalent to what is in the MacArthur testimony. (I suspect that the failure to classify this testimony was a major screw-up, though so far it has been effectively kept under wraps. Not another word since then has leaked about that $10 million project. Jeremy Rifkin's 1988 petition to find out what happened to it hit a stone wall.)
Furthermore, the distinction between "fundamental" and "applied" research is not clear-cut. One might not consider inventing a new disease-agent "fundamental." One might not consider looking for, and finding, animal viruses (like visna or SIV) that could be converted into pathogenic human viruses "fundamental research." What difference does it make what we call it? The question is whether the research -- "fundamental" or "applied" -- produced AIDS.
In sum, much as I would like to have been convinced by my interlocutors that my conclusions are wrong, I'm afraid they stand. Whether Segal is right about the components or not, his theory that AIDS originated in a biowarfare laboratory remains plausible, and much too disturbing to ignore. As long as long the question remains unanswered, I cannot help coming to a further conclusion: Whoever it was that said, "Science stops where politics begins," was right.
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