I've made this offer several times in the past. I'm making it again. I am willing to accept the surrender of those who have perverted science, harmed a generation of children, and even as of this late date are willing to harm more children so as to not to upset the balance of their lives.
It must be truly troubling for those who continue to fuel the epidemic of autism and other chronic diseases that even though you still maintain the trust of those in the media, the scientific community, and most of the people in politics, an amazing 39% of the population in a recent Fox News poll believe parents need to have the right to decide how and whether their children can be vaccinated.
You see, I've interviewed enough scientists that I understand the world in which you operate. Although you tremble in fear when you confront the dark questions at the heart of why so many children and adults suffer with chronic diseases, you feel quite comfortable making others cower as has been done to you. It must really annoy you when you fulminate against us as if we were some extremist group, that somehow you can't get the rest of the population to fully buy it.
By Kent Heckenlively
On Wednesday, February 18 at 7:30 p.m. in San Francisco, CA at the Opera Plaza Cinemas there will be a showing of one of the most important documentaries on the question of vaccines, mercury, and autism. We have often lamented that many of our children never got to have a voice, but what if you had a voice, developed normally until your twenties, then developed autism as an adult? How could people deny what you had experienced?
During the past 20 years, the frequency of autism occurring in children has skyrocketed from 1 in 10,000 to 1 in 68, and the scientific community is no closer to determining a cause. Trace Amounts is the true story of Eric Gladen’s painful journey through mercury poisoning that he believes resulted from a thimerosal-loaded tetanus shot. His discoveries led him on a quest for the scientific truth about the role of mercury poisoning in the Autism epidemic.
Dear Senator Paul and Governor Christie:
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for taking the first step in starting a long overdue conversation about vaccines and the epidemic of chronic diseases in our children INCLUDING autism. I salute your bravery in speaking about what you have heard from your fellow citizens as leaders in a democracy are supposed to do.
Others will not applaud you. Indeed, you should be prepared for a firestorm that will amaze you. I hope the anger of these people will not cause you to back down from what you believe to be very reasonable positions to take. As somebody who is half-Sicilian on my mother's side, like Governor Christie is, I understand the fire and thirst for justice which animates the Jersey Boy. As somebody who shares many of Senator Paul's libertarian beliefs that each individual is the best judge of what they need, I think my fellow libertarian is up for the fight.
I've been reading the fine book, "Revolutionary Summer: The Birth of American Independence" by Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Joseph Ellis and think it may have a few lessons for the both of you as you begin to venture down this road. When our Founding Fathers declared on July 4, 1776 that all men were created equal it was certainly the most radical statement ever uttered by those who would seek to form a government.
Yes, I'm here again urging you to do something!
If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area I am encouraging you to go and see the amazing new documentary, "Trace Amounts," the true story of Eric Gladen's painful journey through mercury poisoning that he blames on a thimerosal loaded tetanus shot.
While his mercury poisoning led him to the edge of despair, after his recovery he was on a mission to understand why he had become so sick. He quit his job, moved into an RV, and traveled the country interviewing experts and piecing together thousands of studies and leaked documents. It is difficult to overstate the courage of this man.
I know that so many of us feel isolated and wonder when people are going to rise up and demand action. Well, Eric Gladen has answered that clarion call and it is our job to support him. Gladen draws a line from the Mad Hatter syndrome of the late 1800s, to Pink Disease in the 1950s, the Iraqi Grain incident of the early 1970s and the usage of Thimerosal in childhood vaccines.
I understand it can be so painful to revisit these issues when our lives are overwhelmed with the needs of our children, but we must reach out to each other in those rare instances when we can not only share our solidarity with each other, but move a project forward. The documentary will be shown on February 18, at 7:30 p.m. in the lovely Opera Plaza Cinemas and I will be helping to introduce the film.
I would like to see the theater filled with our warrior mothers and fathers. You can order your tickets on the link.
Kent Heckenlively is a Founding Contributing Editor to Age of Autism and co-author with Dr. Judy Mikovits of Plague: One Scientist's Intrepid Search for the Truth about Human Retroviruses and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Autism, and Other Diseases. Visit his website at Plague The Book. You can order the book HERE.
There are winners and there are losers. And I am in the fight. I'd like you to join me in creating a victory.
In one corner is "The Panic Virus" by Seth Mnookin, which I consider to be an unfair attack on our community and our concerns. The very title itself suggests that there is nothing much to worry about. As Franklin Roosevelt might have said, "The only thing we need to panic about is panic itself."
And yet, when even conservative estimates proclaim that 1 in 50 children have autism (oh for those simpler times when it was only 1 in 150!), and researchers like Dr. Stephanie Seneff of MIT proclaim that if current increases continue than 1 in 2 children will have autism by 2025, it seems like there is definitely something to panic about.
Which is where my book, "PLAGUE: One Scientist's Intrepid Search for the truth about Human Retroviruses and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS), Autism and Other Diseases" comes in. Because you see, I do think there is something to panic about. I am the boy crying wolf as the wolf rampages through the town.
I have a BIG challenge for the readers of Age of Autism.
I am currently at 29 reviews on Amazon for the book I co-authored with Dr. Judy Mikovits, PLAGUE - One Scientist's Intrepid Search for the Truth About Human Retroviruses, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS), Autism, and Other Diseases.
The book by Seth Mnookin, entitled, The Panic Virus, which savages our community is at 114 reviews on Amazon.
I know the number of unique readers we have each week at Age of Autism. With our numbers, are we really going to let Seth Mnookin hold the floor with 114 reviews?
I understand the complaints. Dealing with our children who have autism is difficult. We are emotionally and financially drained. When we have free time we don't want to think about autism. It's just going to depress me anyway. I hear these complaints from my wife all the time. And I'll let you in on a little secret. Sometimes I feel exactly the same way.
Which is why I co-wrote PLAGUE. Because I don't want to feel depressed. I wanted to find the story of a scientist who inspired me with her intelligence and her courage. I wanted to drill down into the corruption of our scientific and medical research establishment so that I could figure out what could be done about it. And the fact of the matter is, besides the thousands of hours it took me to write and polish the story so it reads like a fast-paced detective story, it's going to take YOU READING THE STORY and WRITING REVIEWS about it to change things.
Think about it. Seth Mnookin gets away with trashing our community and he's got just 114 customer reviews on Amazon. If just 1% of you joined the PLAGUE challenge we could crush him. I want that victory over Seth Mnookin by March 1, 2015.
The autism community owes a great debt to Wayne Rohde for his brisk, easy-to-read book "The Vaccine Court: The Dark Truth of America's Vaccine Injury Compensation Program."
For many of us, the passage of the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 which established the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP), otherwise known as the "Vaccine Court" has been an unmitigated disaster for the health of America's children. It is since the passage of this act that the rate of autism, allergies, and other auto-immune disorders has skyrocketed among our youngest and most vulnerable citizens.
Rohde does an admirable job of leading the reader through an easy to understand explanation of how this program which was supposed to give a quick resolution to those victims of vaccine injury morphed into a monster which benefits only the pharmaceutical companies.
The heart-breaking stories of many of the parents of vaccine-injured children are included in this book, as well as the nightmare of going through the vaccine injury compensation program. As difficult as it is to read many of these stories, knowing they are just a fraction of those in our country today, it is nothing less than a sacred obligation that we know them. In our pain is our strength.
The first known outbreak of chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) took place during 1934-1935 at the Los Angeles County Hospital and affected 198 doctors and nurses during a polio outbreak.
300 doctors and nurses at the Los Angeles County Hospital were given an early polio vaccine developed by Dr. Maurice Brodie, as well as approximately 7,000 children. (Active Immunization Against Poliomyeleitis, American Journal of Public Health, February 1936) The vaccine was passaged multiple times through mouse brain tissue. (Attempts to Produce Poliomyelitis in Refractory Laboratory Animals, March 1, 1935, doi: 10.3181/00379727-32-7876)
In addition to the polio vaccine, the doctors and nurses were also given an accompanying "immune serum" to boost their response to the vaccine. This immune serum contained "merthiolate", otherwise known as thimerosal, as a preservative. (Use of Serum and the Routine and Experimental Laboratory Findings in the 1934 Poliomyelitis Epidemic, American Journal of Public Health, First read on September 3, 1934)
It was during this time period that the first children who would go onto develop autism were born. These children were born to parents who worked primarily in the medical and scientific fields. Do you think these were the parents who would have been first in line to get a polio vaccine for their children? I do.
(WARNING!! - To my deeply valued atheist readers, you might want to skip this article and come back to me next week where I will once again be deeply involved in the questions of this world. Thank you for your understanding.)
I've been thinking a lot about how we make progress with various advocacy groups against powerful enemies. I think of my heroes, people like Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Nelson Mandela. These are my spiritual guides and I want to deploy the same weapons they used.
Chief among them is prayer. As a Christian I'm called to pray for my enemies, my real enemies, not just those people who kind of annoy me. Yes, I'm talking about the major bad guys who if I had my lawyer hat on I'd be calling for their prosecution for crimes against humanity.
I've always liked the formulation of Nelson Mandela (also a lawyer), calling for satyagraha, which means you speak the absolute truth, and ahisma, meaning you wish no harm on your enemies, and you actually want them to come to the fullness of understanding. It is a hard balance to find, but it is worth our time.
So, in the spirit of the season I am asking for prayers for our enemies, or as Gandhi might have said, "Those who are not yet my friends." Some of these people are not necessarily the big bad guys, but those who lack courage to fight for the truth. I have heard accounts and personally witnessed some of the people on this list saying things privately, that if they said them publicly, would be of enormous assistance to our cause. Let all of these people fulfill the dreams of helping humanity they had when they started their careers. My athiest friends act as if articles like this are easy for me to write, but I assure you, this is one of the most difficult things I have ever done.
By Louis Conte
“A large-scale scientific calamity had been brought to light and most of them looked wary of blinking. Finally, a scientist broke the dead air, standing up to ask a question that prompted a barrage of questions directed at Mikovits, as well as animated whispering among the other scientists.
Frank Ruscetti later told Mikovits that at that moment, Coffin leaned over to Dr. Vineet Kewal Ramani, also of the HIV Drug Resistance Program, and said, “Oh, my God, you mean all those sequences we saw in the 1980s were real?”
At some point in reading Plague, the reader realizes that while the notion of a retrovirus infecting millions of people is scary, the corruption of science is downright terrifying.
Dr. Judy Mikovits emerges from Plague as a champion of true science, confronting a system gone off the rails due to political forces, the personal ambitions and a public health establishment that sees what it wants to see and does what it wants for its own purposes. Plague has the feel of a true crime suspense novel as Mikovits pursues the truth about XMRV through the intrigue of the public health establishment and the Nevada research center where she ran her experiments.
Kent Heckenlively’ s riveting descriptions of Mikovits’ arrest and incarceration – she was actually jailed for her work and her principles – renders Mikovits a modern Dr. Stockmann from Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People. The skilled telling of the drama that unfolded around Mikovits work on the XMRV retrovirus leaves the reader unable to put the damn book down.
Judy Mikovits took on the autism-vaccine controversy in her 2009 Nevada Public Television interview with host Sam Shad:
“Shad said the news had tremendous potential for parents looking for treatments or cures for their autistic children. Mikovits replied by saying that XMRV: “might be linked to a number of neuro-immune diseases, including autism…“There’s always the hypothesis that my child was fine, then they got sick, and then they got autism. Interestingly, on that note, if I might speculate a little bit. This might explain why vaccines lead to autism in some children because these viruses live and divide and grow in the lymphocytes, the immune response cells, the B and T cells. So when you give a vaccine you send your B and T cells into overdrive. That’s its job…Well, if you’re harboring one virus, and you replicate it a whole bunch, you’ve now broken the balance between the immune response and the virus. So you could have had the underlying virus and then amplified it with the vaccine and then set off the disease, such that your immune system could no longer control the infections and create an immune deficiency.”
In just over thirty seconds, Judy Mikovits pissed off the planet. Heckenlively states “Trying to find answers for the millions of children with autism apparently “rubbed a lot of people the wrong way.” Given the lack of interest, and even outright hostility expressed by those at the Cleveland Clinic conference on XMRV, it’s difficult to understand what part of the “public health” these scientists were interested in protecting.”
A retrovirus in autism? You mean, like HIV? That autism might be a non-fatal form of acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS)?
Let me explain how I came to co-author the book, PLAGUE: One Scientist's Intrepid Search for the Truth about Human Retroviruses, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS), Autism, and Other Diseases, with Dr. Judy Mikvoits.
On October 8, 2009 Dr. Mikovits appeared on a show called Nevada Newsmakers to talk about her recent publication in the journal Science showing an association between a recently discovered retrovirus, XMRV, and patients with chronic fatigue syndrome (more accurately myalgic encephalomyelitis or ME/CFS). In the interview she also talked about the possible implications for autism, as they had been finding evidence of the retrovirus in these children as well.
Mikovits said, There's always the hypothesis that my child was fine, then they got sick, and then they got autism. Interestingly, on that note, if I might speculate a little bit. This might explain why vaccines lead to autism in some children because these viruses live and divide and grow in the lyphocytes, the immune response cells, the B and T cells. So when you give a vaccine you send your B and T cells into overdrive. That's it's job.
Well, if you're harboring one virus, and you replicate it a whole bunch, you've now broken the balance between the immune response and the virus. So you could have had the underlying virus and them amplified it with the vaccine and then set off the disease, such that your immune system could no longer control the infections and create an immune deficiency.
Okay, that got my attention.
I didn't know much about retroviruses at the time so I called the UCSF Pediatric AIDS unit and got their press representative. I sketched out the basic idea of the theory, that kids with autism might have an HIV-like retrovirus and that explained their autism. I didn't even mention the "V" word.
But the press representative did.
I spent last weekend reading Sharyl Attkisson's wonderful new book, Stonewalled - My Fight for Truth Against the Forces of Obstruction, Intimidation, and Harrassment in Obama's Washington and I couldn't help but hear echoes of the plight of Dr. Judy Mikovits that we detailed in our book, PLAGUE.
To hear Attkisson tell it, there has been a gradual erosion, not just of our civil liberties, but of the media appetite to challenge powerful entities. These entities could be a rich corporate sponsor who pays for advertising on the station or a federal government which seems to grow not just more powerful, but also more unaccountable. It makes me think that those of us in the autism and ME/CFS communities are simply a part of a much larger story, and that our efforts should be centered around finding similar groups which have been marginalized because it served certain corporate or governmental interests.
I want to quote from a section near the end of Attkisson's book and a conversation she had with one of her long-time friends in journalism, David Kirby (author of Evidence of Harm: Mercury in Vaccines and the Autism Epidemic: A Medical Controversy) about what has been happening over the past several years.
"I couldn't wait," says Kirby, speaking of Obama being elected president in 2008.
A "new era" was being ushered in. At last the GOP was out, and a new era of transparency was about to begin. He was the real deal, a Constitutional scholar who understood the fundamental importance of basic freedoms - the right to information and accountability, for example - to our democracy and its vaunted promise of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."
Then I tried to get information out of this new gang.
The first six months of 2009 was a daily lesson in rejection, frustration, and anger. I could not get any information out of anyone - not the USDA, not the EPA, and certainly not the White House. FOIA requests, the few that were actually fulfilled, came back with up to 90% of the text "redacted," blacked out like an angry child had taken an extra-wide Sharpie to the pages.
Attkisson goes onto report Kirby's disillusionment with trying to investigate important stories, which eventually caused him to realize he needed to write his own book about the subject.
The most shocking thing I found in researching Dr. Mikovits' story was the violation of the most basic standards of science and open investigation by forces that were opposed to her work. It was just like Kirby getting a document from the government that had 90% of the text "redacted." How is that transparency? And in the way Dr. Mikovits was treated by many of the most powerful people in research I found myself asking, how is this science?
This last Saturday was my coming out party.
No, I'm not talking about any deep, dark secrets, but this was the first time I would appear at a scheduled event in a bookstore to talk about and sign copies of the book I co-wrote with Dr. Judy Mikovits, PLAGUE - One Scientist's Intrepid Search for the Truth about Human Retroviruses, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS), Autism, and Other Diseases.
The first bookstore, Rakestraw Books in Danville, CA, had more of a planned feel to it. My in-laws went to college with the owner, and it was the type of prestige bookstore that I'd set my sights on long ago. The owner told me that a Saturday afternoon wasn't likely to draw a large crowd, but when I walked into the place and saw twenty stacked copies of my book I gasped. I'm supposed to sell that many books!
The group was composed of some family members, long-time friends, and a few people that I didn't know, but were familiar with the story told in the book. I'd spent the last week developing "the talk" I was going to use in front of general public audiences and I'm pleased to say it went over quite well.
I began by talking about the writers who had influenced me, like Tom Wolfe, who had written The Right Stuff and The Bonfire of the Vanities, or the works of Dominic Dunne, whose work usually focued on crimes committed among the very wealthy. I told the audience that what I liked so much about those stories is that they were about something crucial; flying into outer space, a crime with racial or class issues at stake, but they also let you to the inner workings of a hidden world. I taked about how one of my favorite lines in The Right Stuff was when a character called the fraternity of test-pilots who put themselves at risk, "a weird mad monk squadron."
I told the audience that when I learned about Dr. Judy Mikovits and the other scientists in and out of government who were trying to find answers to these diseases I felt like I'd found my own "mad monk squadron."
Managing Editors Note: I've heard of some very popular boy band called "One Direction." I couldn't hum a single bar of their music. No idea what they look like. But I like their name because it reminds me of the Age of Autism team. We move in ONE DIRECTION. Forward. While many around us dwell in negatives, in the past, in what's "wrong" with our community and pontificate on and write some seriously nasty gaaaaah-bage as my Mom would say in Boston, our team has been "busy, busy, busy" writing books. Actual books that can never be rescinded, removed or retracted. Old school. BOOKS. The volume of volumes is dare I say? Voluminous! (Humor me, it's the end of a long weekend.....)
Special congrats to our Editor Dan Olmsted and Editor at Large Mark Blaxill on the February debut of Vaccines 2.0: The Careful Parents' Guide to Making Safe Vaccination Choices for Your Family.
We hope that you will buy one or two, perhaps more, of these books. Yes, money is tight. But I can promise you that each and every book will help you as you work with your loved ones with autism, as you discuss the needs of our community with medical providers and politicians and will give you hope that we will all move in ONE DIRECTION. Forward. Like a train.
Vaccines 2.0: by Mark Blaxill and Dan Olmsted The Careful Parent's Guide to Making Safe Vaccination Choices for Your Family
Plague by Kent Heckenlively and Dr. Judy Mikovits - One Scientist's Intrepid Search for the Truth about Human Retroviruses and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS), Autism, and Other Diseases
The Big Autism Cover Up by Anne Dachel - How and Why the Media Is Lying to the American Public
Vaccine Injuries by Louis Conte and Tony Lyons - Reveals the truth behind the controversial issue of vaccine-related injuries.
The Autism War - a Novel by Louis Conte - Tony Colletti, a good suburban cop and father of a child with autism, finds himself drawn into the controversy over the apparent but rarely acknowledged connection between childhood vaccines and autism. His quest to uncover the truth forces him to risk all he holds dear while confronting corrupt government officials, the powerful pharmaceutical industry, and disturbing elements of his own past.
The Vaccine Court by Wayne Rohde - The Dark Truth of America's Vaccine Injury Compensation Program
Finding Lina by Helena Hjalmarsson - A Mother's Journey from Autism to Hope
Saving Ben: by Dan Burns A Father's Story of Autism
The Thinking Moms' Revolution - Autism beyond the Spectrum: Inspiring True Stories from Parents Fighting to Rescue Their Children
This Tuesday, November 18, 2014 is the official publication date for PLAGUE: One Scientist's Intrepid Search for Human Retroviruses, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS), Autism, and Other Diseases. It's the day you will supposedly be able to walk into just about any bookstore in the United States and plunk down your money on the counter and get the story of Dr. Judy Mikovits and her investigation into XMRV.
A sampling from just a few of the reviews currently on Amazon! (And I swear I didn't write them! And we've also got reviews from England and Germany!)
From JT, "Amazing book! Many people and patients have followed Dr. Judy Mikovits since her historic publication in Science in 2009. We followed the saga and witnessed many of the events discussed in this book live via the web. This is not fiction . . . I encourage everyone to read this book. The authors have made tremendous effort to make this book understandable to most people. Anyone interested in chronic diseases (auto-immune, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, gulf war syndrome, autism), vaccines, bio-pharmaceuticals, and how academic/government and government agencies handle these topics will be enlightened."
From Dr. Carol Fisch, a retired professor of microbiology and stealth pathogen researcher, "I have waited for this book for well over a year. I read it in three days as I couldn't put it down! So many need to thank Judy Mikovits, PhD. for risking her career to fight as a scientist should, to tell the truth . . . The book explores autism and what may very well be the beginning of this disorder. For anyone wanting to learn how science can work for us or against us, this is a must read!"
An anonymous reviewer wrote, "Just finished Plague this morning. It was riveting and hard to put down. It's a very well written book and I enjoyed reading it. The authors did an excellent job of breaking down the science and keeping it very simple . . . The authors strongly lay out the case for their continued belief in the involvement of retroviruses in neuro-immune illnesses. Both Mikovits and Ruscetti (Dr. Frank Ruscetti) stood tall against the onslaught of attacks and continue to fight for what they believe in and this book further validates that effort."
Kent Heckenlively, Anne Dachel , Louis Conte and Wayne Rohde have been as busy as Santa's elves in 2014 writing and editing their books. It's no easy feat to publish a book. A special thank you to Tony Lyons of Skyhorse Publishing who took a risk on a kooky woman (Kim here) with three daughters with autism and published her pink book. And who from there built the very best, most informative and innfluential catalog of titles about autism. Mark Blaxill and Dan Olmsted have another book coming out as well. Stay tuned.
Whether you've been naughty or nice, hang a stocking, spin a dreidel or celebrate Festivus (since we have Seinfeld on our minds), we can all welcome the New Year with a stack of books.
Plague by Kent Heckenlively - One Scientist's Intrepid Search for the Truth about Human Retroviruses and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS), Autism, and Other Diseases
The Big Autism Cover Up by Anne Dachel - How and Why the Media Is Lying to the American Public
The Autism War - a Novel by Louis Conte - Tony Colletti, a good suburban cop and father of a child with autism, finds himself drawn into the controversy over the apparent but rarely acknowledged connection between childhood vaccines and autism. His quest to uncover the truth forces him to risk all he holds dear while confronting corrupt government officials, the powerful pharmaceutical industry, and disturbing elements of his own past.
The Vaccine Court by Wayne Rohde - The Dark Truth of America's Vaccine Injury Compensation Program
Finding Lina by Helena Hjalmarsson - A Mother's Journey from Autism to Hope
The Thinking Moms' Revolution - Autism beyond the Spectrum: Inspiring True Stories from Parents Fighting to Rescue Their Children
Last Thursday I received copies of the book I co-wrote with Dr. Judy Mikovits, PLAGUE - One Scientist's Intrepid Search for the Truth about Human Retroviruses and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS), Autism, and Other Diseases.
To say I'd been worried about what the final product would look like and how it would read is something of an understatement. The day before it arrived I had a splitting headache, felt faint all through the teaching of my science classes, and was just generally grumpy to everybody around me.
But I didn't have to worry.
PLAGUE is everything I'd hoped it would be. It is a smart, compassionate account of various disease communities and Dr. Mikovits fighting for answers to chronic diseases like ME/CFS and autism. I can't help but think there are a confluence of forces, such as Sharyl Attkisson's recent book, STONEWALLED, which are supporting some of the core issues at the heart of PLAGUE.
It's been said lately that there is a great political divide in America between conservatives and liberals, but I think there's a growing unity of belief that many of the important issues of the day are being "brought" to us by special interests. Whether your political bogeyman is big government or big business, we can all agree that having the two of these join forces is bad for everybody.
As a science teacher and an attorney, I have always believed in evidence and reason, regardless of what the noisy crowd might proclaim. In both science and law we have always admired those who fought the powerful voices of their day in the search for truth. Sometimes that truth is about the guilt or innocence of a single person, or about humanity's true place in the cosmos.
There's a Civil War being fought in science over diseases like autism and chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) and a lot of people inside the field know about it.
But before I go too far into my argument, I'd like to dispel a misconception spread by our enemies that there is some monolithic entity known as "science." From what I've been able to determine, science is better imagined as a collection of "silos", separate from each other, and with messages often going back and forth between them, but no sustained contact with the other silos. Those who live in the silos trust the messages received from the other silos and do not question the messages they receive too deeply.
There is a problem, however. You see, in order to gain access to your particular silo, each member had to endure a rigorous course of intellectual study, which included the skills necessary for the aggressive questioning of received wisdom. Once having gained access to the silo, though, they're not supposed to use those same skills on their superiors, or the pronouncements of the superiors of the other silos.
But nobody tells them that directly.
It's only when one of them makes the mistake of asking a forbidden question that they understand the rules have changed.
For many who make that first mistake of asking a forbidden question, there is the all-too-human element of not wanting to upset people you like and respect, as well as to put your position at risk. Most of those who make the mistake of asking a forbidden question will quickly fall into line and not make that error again.
I want you to look to the left of this article and you will see a link to a YouTube video which reads, "CONVERSATION WITH THE AUTHORS OF PLAGUE." Click on it now and watch all two minutes and fifty-three seconds of it.
Really. Do it now. I'll just check my e-mail while you're doing that. (Imagine sound of me whistling and a computer keyboard tapping.)
Finished? Good. Let's talk.
I know that many of us are having very difficult lives and can't imagine that anybody else can fully understand our suffering. You're wrong. There are others who suffer. Patients with chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) live very difficult lives as do the few brave scientists like Dr. Judy Mikovits who have struggled to solve the mysteries of that condition, as well as autism.
And you know what they've gotten for it? The patients have been called crazy, and Dr. Mikovits has endured character assassination, unlawful incarceration, financial ruin, and professional exile for fighting for the truth. We are all victims of the same oppressor.
But I'm not writing this just to tell you how terrible things are in today's world. You know that. What I'm giving all of us is a way to fight. The book, "PLAGUE - One Scientist's Intrepid Search for the Truth about Human Retroviruses, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS, Autism and Other Diseases" is nothing less than a guided missile of truth streaking towards the very heart of an arrogant CDC and NIH and the scientific journals controlled by them. It's also a helluva read which will attract people outside of our advocacy communities.
Did you hear what I said? It will attract people OUTSIDE OF OUR COMMUNITIES! It is a behind the scenes story of out-of-control agencies and journals who believe their misdeeds will never be revealed. In writing it I often felt like I was some secret agent going behind the Iron Curtain of the scientific community to talk to leading researchers who would tell me what was really going on.
Dr. Brian Hooker, Dr. Andrew Wakefield, and attorney James Moody announced today they have sent a complaint by Federal Express to Dr. Harold Jaffe, Associate Director for Science at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as Dr. Don Wright, Acting Director of the Office of Research Integrity at the Department of Health and Human Services, claiming research misconduct in the 2004 paper, "Age at First Measles-Mumps-Rubella Vaccination in Children with Autism and School-Matched Control Subjects: A Population-Based Study in Metropolitan Atlanta," which was subsequently published in the journal, Pediatrics.
The allegations are horrifying, not just for the millions of families who deal with autism on a daily basis, but for the picture it paints of a government agency, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), devoid of any shred of scientific integrity or what we once used to call "honor" in this country.
If these claims are shown to be true, we will be looking at nothing less than the greatest crime committed in the history of our republic, and a dark page in science which will be remembered for centuries to come.
In 2001, a group at the CDC, headed by Dr. Frank DeStefano, and including Dr. William Thompson, Dr. Marshalyn Yeargin-Allsopp, Dr. Tanya Karapurkar Bhasin, and Dr. Coleen Boyle planned to test the hypothesis that the earlier administration of the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) shot was linked to an increase in autism rates. This research was prompted by the work of Dr. Wakefield and his colleagues, suggesting a link between autism and MMR shots, and his call for additional research to answer the question. The CDC scientists came up with that plan and recorded it in a document dated September 5, 2001, but did not follow it because of troubling findings among certain groups.
When scientists set out to test a hypothesis they come up with a research plan. That plan is supposed to be followed, and if for some reason it is not, there must be an explanation of why not. It is one of the basic tenets in science. You show EVERYTHING. You do not CONCEAL DATA. If there is a hell for scientists, this is the sin which sends you to the very lowest regions.
In every great conflict there is an event which fundamentally alters the balance of forces between the two sides.
As England struggled in the Battle of Britain, Winston Churchill wondered how he could get the industrial might and manpower of the United States to stand with him against Nazi Germany. The Japanese obliged him by bombing Pearl Harbor, then as America wondered if they should also join the fight against Germany, Hitler made the decision easy by declaring war on the United States. England and America would stand together through that long and bitter conflict.
It was with this idea in mind that I co-wrote, PLAGUE, a book which has the potential to unite the communities of those who suffer with chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS), autism, Lyme disease, and prostate cancer. In the person of Dr. Judy Mikovits I found a fearless and compassionate scientist who would not rest while so many suffered.
PLAGUE does speak not with an "inside voice." PLAGUE kicks down doors, tosses in a few flash grenades, and rushes in with a SWAT team. It's important to catch the bad guys in the act. When there are millions who suffer every day with these diseases, and our public health authorities offer nothing, anything less than a full-out effort is a crime.
And when our mandarins of public health tell us to be patient, allowing them time to figure out how they can change the parameters of a study already in progress, (because it will reveal inconvenient truths) we the people, must not let them get away with it. You see, those who work in "public health" work for us, the public.
WOW! WOW! WOW! That's my first reaction after seeing the wonderful new film BOUGHT by director Bobby Sheehan and producer Jeff Hays. (Full disclosure - I donated to the making of the film and am delighted by the results!)
The documentary covers three important and inter-locking stories, the effects of vaccines on children's health, the criminal activities of pharmaceutical companies in the marketing of drugs as well as the billions of dollars in fines they are often given by the government agencies, but which for them are little more than the cost of doing business, and the unknown effects of genetically-modified foods on humans and nature.
As somebody who grew up during a time when true investigative journalism was very much alive and well, I can't help but be nostalgic for the kind of stories 60 MINUTES used to do. There was no screaming and yelling, just tough questions being asked, while the camera stayed focused on the person being asked the question. If somebody made an assertion which was at odds with that very quaint concept we once used to call "truth", a document would appear on the screen to show the lie.
It's a sad state of affairs when there has been such a collaboration between BIG business and BIG government that it seems we've lost that revolutionary, inquiring spirit which defines so much of what I once thought was the American character. I used to trust the reporters in the media to not only shape my view of the world, but also to occasionally challenge what I thought I knew.
I want to talk about the new book I've written with Dr. Judy Mikovits, "PLAGUE - One Scientist's Intrepid Search for the Truth about Human Retroviruses, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS), Autism, and Other Diseases."
It is unlike anything you have ever read before. This is not just a book. It is the start of a movement. Even those of you who think you have seen everything when it comes to the corruption of research into these diseases will find fresh cause for outrage. Now you may think I'm just saying that because I co-wrote it, but it lives up to the hype.
Sayer Ji, the founder and director of GreenMedinfo writes, "PLAGUE is a must read book so revolutionary in its implications that its author courageously faced character assasination and unlawful incarceration to keep her findings from being relegated to the dustbin of medical history. Riveting, if not at times paradigm shifting, this book reveals a dark side to modern medicine that no one knows exists, but that everyone should."
Many of you will know of Dr. Ritchie Shoemaker, the mold doctor and author of many books on the subject. He wrote, "For anyone who is too busy to read, but wants to know the inside story on the state of American science, find the time, now, and read PLAGUE."
Several years ago I was in a writing class and received some advice I've long remembered. The instructor said that if you want to be a great writer, you need to find a great story. PLAGUE is that story.
In addition to an amazing story, I found a great central character, Dr. Judy Mikovits, one of the smartest and most courageous people I have ever known. She is fearless in pursuit of the truth and in serving the patients who suffer from diseases like chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS), autism, and cancer. Only scientists like Dr. Mikovits have the courage to change the system which has so completely abandoned millions. It's been an absolute privilege to be associated with her and help her tell her story.
As an attorney I'm sure you understand how I have an instinctive inclination to help those who have been terribly wronged. Indeed, there is no greater challenge for an attorney than to take an unfairly accused and despised individual and show that an enormous injustice has been done. There are so many ways in which injustice has been perpetrated against Dr. Mikovits in the past several years that I needed an entire book to detail them all. I know the members of this community can fully appreciate what it means to have the power of the state and corporate interests turn against you.
We know this is a fight for the future. I do not intend to go gently into the gathering darkness which threatens the next generation. I aim to misbehave. I hope you will follow me.
Kent Heckenlively is a Founding Contributing Editor to Age of Autism and author of Plague: One Scientist's Intrepid Search for the Truth about Human Retroviruses and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Autism, and Other Diseases. Release date is November 18, 2014. Visit his website at Plague The Book. You can pre-order the book HERE.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to Discuss Vaccine Mercury
Controversy at Minnesota Book Symposium Nov. 1
Eight authors to speak on corruption & censorship in health science
BLOOMINGTON, MN – Scientists, attorneys and journalists will gather in Minnesota to discuss medical injuries which may have been caused by over zealous public health policies and procedures at the Health Choice/Skyhorse Publishing Book Symposium Saturday, November 1. The event runs from 10 am to 6 pm at the Radisson Blu Mall of America, 2100 Killebrew Drive in Bloomington.
Register before 10/20 and you receive all 8 books for just $99.00.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the attorney, radio host, Riverkeeper and author, will read from his book Thimerosal: Let the Science Speak – The Evidence Supporting the Immediate Removal of Mercury – a Known Neurotoxin – from Vaccines. Kennedy has appeared on various TV and radio programs explaining how government is suppressing evidence showing how the ethylmercury-based vaccine preservative damages and kills cells at extremely low doses.
Other book presentations on the intersection of science and politics include:
• Science for Sale: How the U.S. Government Uses Powerful Corporations and Leading Universities to Support Government Policies, Silence Top Scientists, Jeopardize Our Health, and Protect Corporate Profits by Dr. David Lewis, a former EPA microbiologist now with the National Whistleblowers Center;
• Plague: One Scientist’s Intrepid Search for the Truth about Retroviruses, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Autism, and Other Diseases by Kent Heckenlively, J.D. & Dr. Judy Mikovits;
• Vaccines 2.0: The Careful Parent's Guide to Making Safe Vaccination Choices for Your Family by Mark Blaxill & Dan Olmsted, a former UPI investigative reporter;
By Kent Heckenlively
You all know the set-up: An unlikely group of heroes unite to fight evil and save the universe. From the Avengers, Star Wars, to Lord of the Rings, and even the latest Marvel outing, Guardians of the Galaxy, featuring a hero named Star Lord, a walking tree, and a talking racoon with some serious military hardware, we've all seen the story of how characters from different backgrounds band together to fight a common enemy.
And sometimes real life can mirror the best of fiction, as shown by the collaboration between Skyhorse Publishing and HealthChoice.org to create the Minneapolis Book Symposium on November 1, 2014 at the Raddison Blu Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota to highlight some of the great authors and books which are trying to get our message out to the public. To register, go to: Skyhorse HealthChoice Symposium.
Leading the lineup is Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., who will be discussing his book, Thimerosal: Let the Science Speak, and informing us no doubt of the disgraceful campaign against him and the science of mercury toxicity.
Dr. David Lewis, one of a very select group of government scientist to have articles published in BOTH Science and Nature, will be discussing his book, Science for Sale, which details the collusion between government science and industry.
Wayne Rohde will be talking about his book, The Vaccine Court, a topic that many believe to lie at the heart of the autism epidemic.
Lou Conte will be talking about his wonderful and thilling fictional story, The Autism War, which reads like the truth, thinly veiled.
It's an absolute pleasure to be able to highly recommend the new book, "I Know You're in There: Winning Our War Against Autism" by Marcia Hinds.
Whenever I'm asked to review a personal story of a family's experiences with autism I always think of the potential pitfalls. The entire experience of autism is so overwhelming that it's easy to get caught up in your own feelings, and not think about what the reading public would find engaging.
There are no such problems in this story. The book is crisp and cleanly written and I think even those who are not struggling with autism will find many things to interest them. One of the unique parts of this book is the conviction by Hinds that for some reason her son seemed different from birth, although she is certain that his vaccinations and many rounds of anti-biotics didn't help.
There are many parts of this story which will be familiar to the members of the autism community, such as the casein free diet and ABA therapy, but I found the sections on Dr. Michael Goldberg and his belief that autism is best understood as a neuro-immune disorder to be the most interesting. Marcia is quite honest about the contentious relationship she had with Dr. Goldberg, but despite that she still believes his central message to be very compelling. He first came up with the immune connection when he discovered that the labs for his wife, who was suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome, were similar to his autism patients.
The book is broken up into easy to read sections although from my experience I think people will be racing through the book. The book is further enlivened by contributions from their son, Ryan, who is now a systems engineer at a major aerospace company AND he has lots of friends. It made me laugh out loud when Ryan admitted that he had mixed emotions about being the subject of the book, and that he didn't "want any future employers or prospective girlfriends to know I was once considered autistic."
This article is addressed to those members of the Centers for Disease Control or other branches of our government's research programs who have knowledge of the vaccine-autism connection.
It's time to cross the line and come over to the side of the angels. With the defection of CDC scientist, William Thompson, and his reported cache of 100,000 documents relating to the health effects of vaccines, your time is growing short. Thompson has also handed this information over to Congressman William Posey and I would assume, many others. It's clear to me that blood is in the water. I mean, this guy has already retained a whistleblower attorney, for God's sake! Turning documents over to a Congressman and retaining a lawyer, hmm, I wonder what comes next?
It's only a matter of time before the predators arrive, and who knows what they will do to you? Don't you want to be one of those supporting Thompson's story, rather than those who are facing the angry wrath of congessional investigators, as well as the national news reporters who have finally woken up and are taking their job seriously, as well as the lawyers who will inevitably jump into this issue?
If you don't have it handy, the phone number for Congressman Posey's Washington, D. C. office is (202) 225-3671. I'm sure there will be somebody who will take down your information as well as any documents you want to provide to them.
Maybe this will all come as a relief to some of you. It can't be good for your health to hold such information inside of you, knowing how much you are harming this current generation of children. I don't care what justifications you gave yourself over the years, what lies others told you, but that time is over.
It's difficult to find a situation more appalling than the news revealed by CDC whistleblower, William Thompson that for more than a decade the CDC has concealed information that lowering the age at which African-American males received the MMR shot resulted in a 340% increase in autism. It's a state of affairs which turns my stomach, even though it is confirmation of what many of us have believed for years. These researchers may have a doctorate in science, but they lack even a high school diploma in courage.
And yet on the other side of the ledger is Dr. Andrew Wakefield, who has been the most visible public face of our cause. Wakefield has said on many occasions that this controversy has cost him his job, his career, and his country. He has not broken under the strain and we are forever grateful to him.
Then comes the news as reported in The Truth Barrier of two text message from William Thompson. The first was to Dr. Wakefield's wife, Carmel, and read, "I do believe your husbands career was unjustly damaged and this study would have supported his scientific opinion. Hopefully I can help repair it."
The next was actually a series of text messages between Thompson and Dr. Wakefield. Dr. Wakefield begins the exchange by asking, "Is this press release real?"
Thompson replies, "Yes!"
Wakefield writes back, "Thank you. This was the right and honorable thing to do. Andy."
Thompson says, "I agree. I apologize again for the price you have paid for my dishonesty."
Wakefield writes, "I forgive you completely and without any bitterness."
Thompson responds, "I know you mean it and I am grateful to know you more personally."
I'm having a lot of trouble trying to write an article about MMR/Autism whistleblower, William Thompson.
On the one hand I don't want to waste this opportunity to show the scientific community that our concerns our real, and yet at the same time I don't want to let this guy off for concealing important evidence for more than a decade.
At the outset I have to say I'm really not a punishing kind of guy. In law school I worked for the US Attorney's office in San Francisco, assembling wiretap evidence in a large Oakland drug case. That meant I spent a lot of time listening to tapes of these guys talking.
And I found them not to be the threatening kind of all-powerful criminals you see in police thrillers, but discovered they were really leading pathetic, miserable lives. I also couldn't escape the realization that somebody like me, the top 10% of society, would be prosecuting the bottom 10% of society to make sure that the 80% in the middle remained relatively safe.
It's probably no surprise I ended up in teaching, trying to help students be interested in and excited by science, and also to be individuals who valued honesty. I wanted to help people be good, not punish them when they go bad. I've often thought that the best of science and the best of law share a common aim, as when a person stands to present testimony in a courtroom they swear an oath to "tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth." The same expectation applies to scientists who work at government institutions when they publish scientific research in major journals.
It's with this in mind I have to detail some of my troubles with Dr. William Thompson.
From an e-mail Dr. Thompson allegedly wrote on October 18, 2002 to Melinda Wharton. "I am writing you once more regarding the recent Department of Justice (DOJ) request for a broad range of documents associated with MMR, thimerosal, and autism. I first spoke with you on September 3rd of 2002 regarding the sensitive results we have been struggling with in the MADDSP MMR/Autism study." I may not be a CDC scientist, but I've been both a lawyer and a science teacher and it seems to me that the phrase "sensitive results" is one probably never uttered by Galileo, Darwin, or Einstein.
It seems that William W. Thompson has finally come over to the side of the angels.
For those of you who might have been off fishing the past few days, or like me, spent part of the week in the hospital with a gall bladder attack, I'll briefly recap what may be one of the most consequential stories ever to come out of the autism epidemic.
On Monday, August 18, a video was released by Dr. Andrew Wakefield and Dr. Brian Hooker which claimed that a major researcher for the CDC admitted that he and others had concealed evidence that moving up the date for the MMR vaccine had increased the rate of autism for African-American males by 340%. Later in the week it was revealed that the researcher was Dr. William W. Thompson, who had in fact been one of the authors of a 2004 paper by the CDC claiming there was no link between the timing of the MMR shot and the development of autism. On Friday it was reported that Dr. Thompson had been escorted off the grounds of the CDC by security personnel.
For those of us who have been in the fight a long time this news produces mixed emotions in us. I reall the optimism with which I reported on the Omnibus Autism proceedings, reporting on the Hannah Poling case which many of us thought would finally break the whole damned thing wide open, or the revelation that the Vaccine Injury program had actually given awards to at least 83 children who suffered vaccine injuries which included autism.
On the one hand I want to take this guy who has concealed this information for so many years, throw him up against a wall, and go to town on him.
On the other hand I sense a real opportunity to advance our cause among a scientific community which has been largely indifferent to us, as well as frequently hostile.
As a leader in any movement it's important to understand your adversaries, their strengths, as well as their weaknesses. What moves them, what leaves the indifferent, and what is likely to break them.
I want to share an example from a less fraught topic. Recently I attended a surprise 50th birthday party for a friend of mine, an economics professor at Stanford University in California. One of my friends' recent academic accolades was being one of only ten economists invited to the Nobel Prize symposium (held every ten years) to present on his work. The expectation is that these ten economists will probably win the Nobel Prize somewhere in the next ten years. Pretty cool that this is happening to my high school buddy.
I was standing in the take-out line at the Rutherford Grill in California's beautiful Napa Valley when the writing on the back of a man's t-shirt caught my attention.
The t-shirt read, "Be without fear in the face of your enemies. Stand brave and upright that God may love thee. Speak the truth always, even if it leads to your death. Protect the helpless and do no wrong - that is your oath."
I tapped the man on the shoulder and asked where the quote had come from.
"Oh, it's the vow of the Knights Templar," he replied.
Okay, Knights Templar, I thought. Not really clear on them. When I got home I did a little research. The Knights Templar were founded in 1129 with the idea of protecting pilgrims on the way to the Holy Land. They were attacked by King Phillip IV of France in 1307, and officially disbanded by Pope Clement in 1312, or roughly 702 years before I found myself standing in that restaurant.
Now I don't want to talk about whether the Knights Templar were a positive or negative force in history, but to pose a more elemental question. Why is it that more than 700 years after they were disbanded we still quote their oath?
I think it's because in any age we recognize courage. And it made me wonder who the people are in this age whose courage I admire. It didn't take me long to come up with an answer. In fact, I know a good many of them. They are the ones writing books and making films to help our community and those helpless children who all too often cannot speak for themselves.
I must start with David Kirby and his wonderful book, Evidence of Harm: Mercury in Vaccines and the Autism Epidemic: A Medical Controversy, released in 2005.
Next are Dan Olmsted and Mark Blaxill for their book, The Age of Autism: Mercury, Medicine and a Man-Made Epidemic, and the work they do on a daily basis with this web-site.
I would be remiss if I didn't include Kim Stagliano's book, All I Can Handle - I'm No Mother Theresa [A Life Raising Three Daughters with Autism].
In 2010 Dr. Andrew Wakefield published his book, Callous Disregard: Autism and Vaccines - The Truth Behind a Tragedy, which detailed the campaign of persecution against him and his work.
An excellent book in all ways was Vaccine Epidemic: How Corporate Greed, Biased Science, and Coercive Government Threaten our Human Rights, Our Health, and Our Children, by Louise Kuo Habakus and Mary Holland, released in 2012.
There was the wonderful movie in 2013, The Greater Good by Leslie Manookian and Kendall Nelson.
After two hundred and twenty-six posts the regular readers of Age of Autism are no doubt familiar with Kent Heckenlively's words. With subject matters ranging from mercury and aluminum, the Omnibus Autism Proceedings in the Vaccine Court, to stem cells and animal viruses, Heckenlively has been a veritable Scarlet Pimpernel of the bio-med world.
But now you can see his face and hear his comments in this exclusive interview with Dr. Judy Mikovits, his co-author for the book, PLAGUE - One Scientist's Intrepid Search for the Truth about Human Retroviruses and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Autism, and Other Diseases which is being released by Skyhorse Press on September 2, 2104. Let us know what you think of the video and feel free to pass it on to friends and family!
PLAGUE goes on sale September 2, 2014 at bookstores everywhere.
Kent Heckenlively is a Founding Contributing Editor to Age of Autism and author of Plague: One Scientist's Intrepid Search for the Truth about Human Retroviruses and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Autism, and Other Diseases. Visit his website at Plague The Book. You can pre-order the book HERE.
You should probably know I worship at the altar of The Lord of the Rings. As a cinematic evocation of loyalty, friendship, and courage I believe it has no equal. I tell my son that if someday in the distant future I am not around and he wants to explain to his children or grandchildren what his father hoped to be, he should pop in the DVD and let them view the trilogy.
When I watch I imagine myself as Aragorn, taking the Dimholt Road under the mountain, clutching the sword, Anduril, Flame of the West, offering a deal to the souls of the dishonored dead if they would join me in battle. I picture myself as Aragon, astride my horse in front of the Black Gate, telling my troops, I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me. A day may come when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship, but it is not this day. An hour of wolves and shattered shields, when the age of men comes crashing down, but it is not this day! This day we fight! Then I jump off my horse, and with the setting sun behind me, a reckless, almost manic glint in my eye and a crooked grin, I am first to charge into the enemy army.
Aside from my heroic Aragorn fantasies the most inspiring part of the story to me is how the different groups of Middle-Earth come together to form a Fellowship and fight a common enemy. The scene in which a council of humans, elves, dwarves, the wizard Gandalf, and hobbits discuss what to do with the One Ring reminds me of the problems faced by so many disparate groups today. Among the groups under threat today are the autism parents, those with chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS), and the Lyme disease sufferers, to name just a few of the most prominent.
One of the reasons I love the scene at the council table is because it shows how much each group is mistrusted by the others. The humans are distrusted because they had a chance to destroy the One Ring and failed to do so. The dwarves are mistrusted because they care so much about treasure and tunnel too deep into the earth where they risk awakening dark forces. The elves are distrusted because they so often stand back from the fight, as if they are not part of their world.
I've always believed in the power of nicknames to reveal truths about a person. My grandfather nicknamed me "the little professor" because I could usually be found with my nose in a book. Indeed, one of the favorite images I have of myself is a picture taken by my fourth grade teacher and given to my parents. In the picture, class is over, the chairs are up on the tables, and yet I'm still sitting there reading a book.
After two years working on the book, "PLAGUE - One Scientist's Intrepid Search for the Truth about Human Retroviruses and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Autism, and Other Diseases", I have a greater appreciation for the nickname given to my distinguished co-author, Tsunami Judy. Dr. Judy Mikovits certainly can talk. Sometimes I'd interview her for an hour and a half and when I did a word count we'd be at well over fifteen thousand words. "Judy, they wanted a hundred thousand word book. With just one interview we're fifteen percent of the way there!" (Update - It's probably going to be a hundred and fifty thousand word book.)
I like the image of my co-author as some elemental force of nature, because to a great extent it's true. And yet, there's also a gentleness and an unshakeable devotion to the betterment of humanity in her. For those of you familiar with the story, you'll know that after a civil dispute with her former employers went in a really "bizarre" direction in the words of Jon Cohen, a writer for Science, she was jailed for five days. I wanted to write in some joke about how the staff at the jail hadn't improved much since the days when they hung horse-thieves.
"Oh, no," said Dr. Mikovits, "They were really very professional." Who thinks to compliment the professionalism of their prison guards? My co-author, that's who! And as she was waiting to be released, one of the other prisoners told the guards that Dr. Mikovits was a cancer researcher. A few of the guards had family members with cancer and came up to ask her questions. They gave her their cards and she promised to review their cases and offer her opinion as to what they should ask their treating physicians. Who does that?
And it reminded me why I was attracted to this story in the first place.
I want to be inspired by scientists. I've heard enough double-talk, wilful ignorance, and outright lies from scientists in the autism struggle that it's blinded me to many of the couragous people who are trying to fight our battle. I want to be inspired by scientists who care about humanity, not whether a certain line of research will affect their lab's funding.
I'm not a hero, but I'm trying to live a heroic life.
The other night I was in bed reading the latest adventures of my favorite supernatural detective, Harry Dresden, (often described as a cross between Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Phillip Marlowe), and I came across a scene which reminded me of the true nature of heroism.
Harry was in another one of his jams, under contract to the Queen of Winter, who in turn lent him to a villain, Nicodemus Archelone, who wanted to steal the Holy Grail from the treasure vault of the Greek god of the underworld, Hades. Yeah, it was one of those kind of days.
But Harry had the good sense to bring along his friend, Michael Carpenter, a Knight of the Cross, (yes, that Cross!) So this group is down in the treasure vault, all the bad stuff is coming down, with the villain Nicodemus about to double-cross them, and Michael offers Nicoedmus a chance to surrender. Michael's words don't seem to come from your run of the mill fantasy story, but might just be my new code for life.
Michael tells the villain, "You think your power is what shapes the world that you walk in. But that is an illusion. Your choices shape your world. You think your power will protect you from the consequences of those choices. But you are wrong. You create your own rewards. There is a Judge. There is Justice in this world. And one day you will receive what you have earned. Choose carefully."
Okay, maybe that last bit was a little too close to the famous line in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, but it's still very powerful. And it made me think about the book I've been co-writing with Dr. Judy Mikovits for the last two years, PLAGUE - One Scientist's Intrepid Search for the Truth about Human Retroviruses, and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Autism, and Other Diseases, which is being released on September 2, 2014 (now available for pre-order on Amazon. You can also visit the web-site www.plaguethebook.com)
Because you see, in the past two years I feel as if I've uncovered a lot of villainy in the scientific world. And it makes me wonder what a true hero is supposed to do in such a situation. If you'll let me explain, I think a hero should try to understand the forces which created his enemies.
For those I might call the villains in my story, when they were young I believe they had an overwhelming desire to help their fellow man, and perhaps a bit of vanity that they could crack the great mysteries of our world. They learned that there was a rigorous scientific method in which they were supposed to tell the absolute truth. An experiment worked, or it failed.
I’m always telling anybody who asks that one of the challenges of our movement is to attract the general public to our issues. There are so many pieces to this puzzle, our individual stories, the influence of special interests, the corruption of science, but at its heart the question is a simple one: what factors are causing an unprecedented rise in chronic diseases like autism, chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS), multiple sclerosis, and Alzheimer’s disease, to name just a few?
It was with these thoughts in mind that I was delighted to pick up David Hammond’s new book, Mercury Poisoning – The Undiagnosed Epidemic, and find that he had so successfully navigated these treacherous waters. His book is well-organized, easy to read, and authoritative. Hammond has an excellent writing style and his chapters each take on a specific question, such as how mercury increases the toxicity of other metals, or the complexity of mercury symptoms.
Like most of us, Hammond comes to these issues through personal experience. He was a laborer in a steel factory in Australia and suffered from the effects of mercury poisoning via inhaled mercury vapors from the scrap metal in molten steel. He was fortunate enough to find an internet forum comprised of people who had also been exposed to mercury, undergo chelation, and recover his health.
In an unemotional, but straight-forward manner Hammond makes his points. Modern man is exposed to heavy metals far in access of our ancestors. Even low levels of mercury, over time, can lead to very severe health problems. Mercury exposure works in combination with other metals, increasing their toxicity. Hammond provides examples from the medical literature of the diseases which can be caused by mercury poisoning, and details cases of people who have removed the mercury from their bodies and regained their health.
If there is somebody in your life who is curious about mercury exposure, or you are confused about this important issue, I encourage you to go out and buy this book.
Kent Heckenlively is Contributing Editor to Age of Autism.
By Kent Heckenlively
As a father, I live a divided life. My daughter Jacqueline has severe autism, seizures, and at the age of sixteen years old still cannot speak. When she walks she sways like a drunken sailor, always looking like she’s about to capsize – but more often than not making it to her destination.
By contrast, my thirteen-year-old son Ben is neurotypical. He does not have seizures or autism, and is athletically gifted. He is usually the fastest kid in his group, and as his soccer coach recently told me, “Ben has this almost sixth sense for being in the right place at the right time to get the ball.”
My son is also highly verbal and has a wicked sense of humor. Because I’m a science teacher and a member of the executive board of my union, I’m often interacting with a few of his teachers and they tell me many of the funny things he says in class. I cringe sometimes because I recognize my barbed, sarcastic humor and know that in many instances it is appreciated and amusing to people, but fear in others it will get him into trouble. “Watch your tongue,” I’ll tell him, worried that he might be viewed as defiant, and yet secretly proud that he is nobody’s fool.
As a science teacher I’m aware that my parental life presents me with a classic science experiment. I have one child with no trace of autism or other neurological problems, and another who is severely affected. Granted, the sample size is small, but it might yet present some intriguing data for further consideration.
Note: Read Kent's interview with Jeff Hays of BOUGHT here.
by Kent Heckenlively, Esq.
We all know what we need.
We need a well-produced film that shows how the system of checks and balances which normally protects the public from defective consumer products has gone horribly wrong in vaccines. And we need to do it with a vehicle that reaches people outside of our community.
And if we really want the message to reach the general public, it would probably be best to combine our health and scientific concerns with those of other communities, especially when all of these groups face the same dysfunctional system. "BOUGHT" is that movie.
The film asks the critical questions so many of us want answered: Are vaccines really safe and effective for diseases? Are genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) key to feeding the growing population. Has Big Pharma really taken over medical research? These are the questions that generations to come will look to us and ask ifwe pursued them with courage and intelligence. Their future is in our hands, and in our wallets.
I know that readership in the mainstream media has declined over the past several years because people have lots of other choices and so many times it seems like the media is being bought and paid for by some industry that isn't really interested in telling you the truth.
So just in case you haven't been reading the popular press all that much, I thought I'd compile the current enemy list of all right-thinking people so you'd have it in a single place. It just makes hating people so much easier when you don't get confused about the identity of the bad guys.
1. Dr. Andrew Wakefield - Okay, let's all pile on him first. I mean, so he was a top scientist in the field of gastroenterology and he did respond to parent complaints that their children regressed after a MMR vaccination and had gastrontestinal problems. Like any good supervillian, he went looking for the source of the gastrointestinal problems and found the measles virus in the gut of these children several years after it should have cleared their system, and was brazen enough to say the findings called for additional research. That's what good scientists are supposed to do when they find something which might help people, right? Instead, Wakefield was attacked and found guilty of "conspiracy" with another gastroenertologist who had retired years earlier. However, that other doctor was able to get the insurance company to fight the verdict handed down by the British Medical Council and be exonerated. So, even though now the gastrointestinal problems of children with autism are widely accepted, Wakefield remains probably the only man on the planet guilty of a conspiracy with himself. You have to be a major-league supervillain to pull off that feat.
2. Jenny McCarthy - Jenny was an actress, a best-selling author of humorous books, and yes, she did have a rocking body that was hot enough to land her in the pages of Playboy magazine. Then she had a child who developed autism after a vaccination, and she was able to recover him, a supposed impossibility. When she talked about what had happened to her son, she was attacked as if she was, well, an NBA owner who made racially insensitive remarks. Okay, let's put her on the hate list.
3. Dr. Bernadine Healy - Healy may not have had a rocking body, but she had a rocking mind. It was good enough to make her the first female head of the National Institutes of Health, where she started the Human Genome Project. Oh, and after that little stint, she headed that crypto-fascist organization, a.k.a. the Red Cross, and was a columnist for U. S. News and World Report. She thought it was important to study subgroups of people who received vaccinations because some might be more vulnerable to side-effects than others. What?!? Some medical interventions might have different effects on different people and should be studied?!? Next, she'll be saying the world is flat and we're going to sail off the edge.
4. Sharyl Attkisson - For those Neanderthals who think the leaders of our country need to answer serious questions from reporters, like what happened to our ambassador in Benghazi, the IRS scandal, or Fast and Furious, this is your poster girl. But wait, this former top CBS investigative journalist also pursued embarassing stories that the Bush administration didn't like. I'm starting to have a thought here, but it needs time to develop. Maybe . . . just maybe . . . in a free society, the press should act as a check on whichever party is in power. Sharyl's crime? She interviewed Dr. Bernadine Healy, the former head of the National Institutes of Health, asked whether vaccines had been thoroughly studied, and reported Dr. Healy's response that they had not. Oh, and for those keeping score at home, that happened at the end of the Bush years.
5. Rob Schneider - Here's another funny actor, but he's dangerous too, because he also worries that vaccines might be hurting children. We need to crush him like a grape! Okay, maybe they should just keep him locked up so he doesn't lead good people astray, and let him out only when he does those movies with Adam Sandler because they're so damn funny. (I'm not sure, does that mean Adam Sandler should be on the list, too?)
6. Katie Couric - Well she did anchor the CBS Evening News and was known for going after people like the first President Bush, but when she did stories on the harm that the Gardasil vaccine might be causing in young girls, well, that was it. We need to turn our backs on her and shun her like a bunch of mean girls.
I encourage the members of the scientific community to take note of two numbers. The first is that according to the Centers for Disease Control the rate of autism for children born in 2002 is 1 in 68. The second number is that according to Professor Eric Oliver, a professor of political science at the University of Chicago, 20% of the public believes that vaccines are linked to autism.
For those who believe there is absolutely nothing wrong with the way we currently try to protect the health of our children, this is very alarming information. However, for the rest of us, this is all very clear and predictable.
The number of children with autism and other autoimmune problems is going up dramatically. The members of the scientific community say they don’t know what’s causing it, maybe something new in the environment, maybe better counting (although nobody really seems to believe that any more), and even though it’s got to be something that the vast majority of kids are getting exposed to, you really need to make sure you cram as many shots in as possible at that well-baby visit.
How is it then, that 20% of the public now believes vaccines are linked to autism?
I like to think it’s because there are a significant number of people who actually look at all this and say, hmm, something’s wrong with this picture. On the one hand I’ve got my pediatrician telling me one thing, and on the other I’ve got that long-time friend who tells me something went wrong with her kid after a vaccination. Who makes more sense? Let me think about it, says the parent to herself. Vaccines work by causing an immune reaction, and a lot of these kids are the victims of an overactive immune system. Hey, doc, could anything possibly go wrong when you try to stimulate the immune system of an infant?
I say this somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but it is the future of the human race we’re talking about here.
And for me, that’s where the scientific community comes into this discussion. The mainstream media likes to play the “Science vs. Parents” card in this debate, but I see a different reality. There are really three actors in this drama. There is Science, there are Parents, and there’s Big Money. Science isn’t the enemy. Big Money is the enemy, and it can come from the government or the pharmaceutical companies.
Managing Editor's Note: You can support the production of BOUGHT at IndieGogo.
By Kent Heckenlively
It was through chiropractors that documentary film producer, Jeff Hays, first became acquainted with those he jokingly calls “the most dangerous people on the face of the Earth.”
Hays was working on a film called, Doctored, which recounted the attack made by traditional medicine on the chiropractic profession and the fight the chiropractic profession waged in response and won. “It was a small film that told the chiropractic story. The AMA (American Medical Association) tried to contain and eliminate the profession of chiropractic. Some chiropractors sued them in 1974, and it took 13 years, but the AMA was eventually found guilty. That story had never really made its way into the mainstream. And I felt it was a microcosm of what happens to alternative therapies that come under attack from mainstream or political medicine.”
Many of the chiropractors Hays interviewed had parents who were chiropractors and several of them said that in their life they’d never, “taken a drug, an aspirin, or a vaccine.” Hays was startled to hear that many of them had never had a vaccine and what followed from that was a slow awakening to the fact that there was even a discussion about the safety of vaccines.
Louis Conte has finally gone and done it.
Conte has written an exciting medical and legal thriller that may end up being as important to the autism community as Harriet Beecher Stowe’s book, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, was to the anti-slavery movement.
I want to talk first about the fine book Conte has written, then why it is important for you to not only to go out and buy it, but to purchase several copies and give them out to friends, families, and public officials who haven’t yet understood our cause.
Conte’s main character is Tony Colletti, a former New York cop who now works in a suburban community on the Hudson River. As the father of a child with autism, Tony’s life is upended when he fails to save the life of a boy with autism who had wandered away from his house and fallen through the ice of a frozen pond. This event, combined with the increasing number of policemen on the force who have a child with autism convinces Colletti that he needs to use his investigative skills to get to the bottom of this mystery.
Former CBS investigative journalist, Sharyl Attkisson, called this book, “Compelling and controversial. You know that saying about truth being stranger than fiction? This is the truth. I couldn’t put it down.”
From this point Colletti plunges into a world we in the autism community know all too well, a sordid intersection of media disinformation, political and scientific corruption, the influence of big money on important issues, and something that many of us thought existed only in other countries, a public and press which acts more like those in an authoritarian country where people are afraid to speak out. In a democratic country, is the fear of ridicule more powerful than the secret police of a dictatorship?
All of these questions are presented in a fast-paced page-turner that I believe the typical person could race through in an afternoon. But it is a book that will be difficult to forget.
The Autism War has the potential to do something revolutionary for our movement. Those who know me are aware that I have long advocated for non-traditional ways of fighting for our children. I’ve often used the example of George Washington taking on the British during the Revolutionary War. He was facing the best-trained, most powerful army in the world. As a gentleman, he knew he was expected to engage in the enemies' definition of a fair fight – basically, the two armies squaring off against each other at a pre-arranged location, a day or two of battle, then a winner being declared. That was a fight Washington knew he would lose.
If you recall my last articles, I had become very intrigued by the story of Dr. Judy Mikovits and her investigation of retroviruses and their possible connection to chronic fatigue syndrome/ME as well as autism. In many ways I felt her story, especially the campaign of persecution against her, mirrored that of many other honest scientists who have looked for answers to the questions raised by these diseases.
That inquiry has resulted in Dr. Mikovits and I writing the book, “PLAGUE – One Scientists’ Intrepid Search for the Truth about Retroviruses, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Autism, and Other Diseases” to be published by Skyhorse Press on May 6 2014. The web-site for the book is now on-line at www.plaguethebook.com and you can pre-order from the site as well as read some other interesting content.
As an autism advocate, one of the things which has long drawn my attention is that so many of the mothers of children with autism have been diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome at one point, or like my wife, appear to have sub-clinical indications of the disorder.
Dr. Judy Mikovits, a 20-year veteran of the National Cancer Institute was well-placed to investigate these questions when she started her work on neuro-immune diseases like chronic fatigue syndrome and autism in 2006. Dr. Mikovits has published more than 50 peer-reviewed articles, many in the world’s top medical journals and she has been profiled in Discover magazine as well as the Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.
I must confess that the two years I spent writing PLAGUE have changed many of my views. I’ve been deeply impressed by the humanity and compassion of many scientists, while at the same time have become more keenly aware of the political and financial obstacles which prevent scientists from making the type of contributions to the well-being of society that they imagined at the beginning of their careers.
Did your mother ever say things to you like that when you were growing up?
My mother did.
I couldn't help thinking of my mother's admonition when I saw the headline from the July 14, 2012 issue of The New York Times "Vast F.D.A. Effort Tracked E-Mails of its Scientists." The headline does a good job of explaining what happened, but I thought I'd let the lead paragraph give you a little flavor of the piece.
"A wide-ranging surveillance operation by the Food and Drug Administration against a group of its own scientists used an enemies list of sorts as it secretly captured thousands of e-mails that the disgruntled scientists sent privately to members of Congress, lawyers, labor officials, journalists, and even President Obama, previously undisclosed records show."
Let that swirl around in your brain for a moment. Some F.D.A. official says to himself, "I don't think those scientists can be trusted. Let's track their e-mails." The spy software used captured screen images from government laptops of five scientists, tracked their keystrokes, intercepted personal e-mails, copied documents from their personal thumb drives, and even followed messages as they were being composed.
The article also states, "many Congressional staff members regarded as sympathetic to the scientists each got their own files containing all their e-mails to and from the whistle-blowers." Congressman Chris Van Hollen, a Democrat from Maryland was listed as No. 14 on the F. D. A. surveillance list. A former staff member to Senator Charles Grassley, an Iowa Republican was also on the list.
The program grew out of a dispute that several scientists had regarding what the scientists claim were faulty review procedures which led to the approval of medical imaging devices for mammograms and colonoscopies. The concern was that patients were being exposed to dangerous levels of radiation. Four of these scientists were fired from the F. D. A.
By Kent Heckenlively
In a sign of increasing political strength, the Canary Party has achieved an alliance with the East Bay Tea Party, one of California’s largest tea party groups, on the issue of AB2109, a measure sponsored by California Assembly Member, Dr. Richard Pan. The bill seeks to limit the ability of parents to obtain a philosophical exemption to refuse a vaccine or modify the schedule by requiring them to get a note from a doctor if they wish to vary the schedule or chose to decline vaccinations.
Both the East Bay Tea Party and the Canary Party believe this is an unwarranted governmental intrusion on the rights of parents and the first step in a program of mandated vaccines. Not only would this be the first time in California history that the right to refuse a medical procedure which carries the risk of injury or death would be dependent on a non-neutral third party who is not compelled by law to sign the required form, it is also likely to be a violation of the First Amendment of the U. S. Constitution and a violation of several sections of the California Education Code.
While the Canary Party seeks to be a non-partisan group interested in the health rights of our society and full and rigorous scientific research in the health risks of medical treatments and the unintended consequences of new chemicals introduced into our environment, we must be willing to join with more partisan organizations if they share our values on these issues. In California it is regrettable that the democratic members of the assembly support this bill while the republican members oppose it. But those are the facts on the ground and we must accept conditions as we find them and act accordingly. We hope that the democrats will reconsider their position.
I was saddened but not surprised to attend a meeting of the Core Council of the East Bay Tea Party and hear one of their leading members talk about how his daughter, a nurse, was compelled by her doctor to get a flu shot as a condition of employment, and developed Guillan-Barre syndrome. And while this was certainly regrettable, it reveals that those waking up to the true risks of the current vaccine program are more and more widespread, and it underscored the importance of the vaccine safety issue to all members of society. The leaders of the East Bay Tea Party also viewed the film “The Greater Good” within a week of my giving it to them and came back with excellent questions and comments.
I was most gratified to have the East Bay Tea Party agree to take on advocacy of this issue through their web-site and e-mail alerts to their members. You can view what they have put up in support of this joint effort HERE.
In addition, I am working closely with a member of the Core Council in order to craft a message to take to national Tea Party organizations. I encourage all parents and those interested in the issue of vaccine safety to work with whatever organizations in their community might be supportive of these efforts. And if you are a democrat, I strongly encourage you to contact your party and tell them to get on the right side of AB2109 as well.
Kent Heckenlively is Contributing Editor for Age of Autism.
There is a most curious interview with Dr. Ian Lipkin in the April 2012 issue of Discover magazine entitled "In the Lab with the World's Greatest Virus Hunter". I can't help but notice that Dr. Lipkin, director of the Center for Infection and Immunity at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health and the scientist who first identified West Nile Virus sounds more like a bio-med autism parent than a CDC spokesman who claims that while we don't know what causes autism, "we're sure it's not vaccines."
Many will no doubt remember it was Lipkin's study which supposedly disproved the work of Dr. Andrew Wakefield regarding the persistence of the vaccine strain of the measles in the gut of children with autism. And it's certainly true that Lipkin has done little to counter that impression.
However, a closer look at Lipkin's study reveals a more complicated picture. Lipkin used the same lab as Wakefield and did identify the measles virus from one of the children with autism he studied. The patient selection criteria was significantly different than that used by Wakefield, and as I have written previously, Lipkin has recently used Wakefield's research in the footnotes to his recent article showing that different bacterial colonies are present in the guts of children with autism. If Wakefield's research was so dishonest, why would Lipkin ever cite him?
Perhaps all this has set the stage for a conversion on the question of autism, similar to that of the apostle Paul, a former Christian hunter who after having a vision of Christ on the Road to Damascus, became one of the founders of the early Church. For as much as Dr. Lipkin took the wrong road in regards to Dr. Wakefield's work, there has also been evidence of an exceptionally humane side to the man.
When Dr. Mady Horning released her study showing that the neurotoxic effects of thimerosal in mice were dependent upon a certain genetic profile, the autism community worried that the long knives were out for her. This could explain why only certain infants were harmed by the thimerosal in vaccines and not others. Dr. Horning was sheltered by Dr. Ian Lipkin who made her his research partner, probably saving her academic career in the process.
Recently I've come across Lipkin in the controversy over the XMRV retrovirus and its possible link to both ME/chronic fatigue syndrome and autism. When the situation with Dr. Judy Mikovits and the Whittemore-Peterson Institute fell apart, Dr. Lipkin had the power to determine whether the research would continue. I am told by sources that Dr. Lipkin was actually threatened with legal action by various entities and he told them to take a hike. Instead of succumbing to this pressure, he put Drs. Mikovits, Frank Ruscetti of the National Cancer Institute and discoverer of the first human retrovirus, as well as Jose Montoya of Stanford University, and others in charge of determining the possible link between XMRV (or a related human retrovirus) and these diseases.
Lipkin's willingness to remain agnostic on the question of XMRV (or other related human retroviruses) opens up some other possibilities into how a retrovirus could cause conditions like ME/chronic fatigue syndrome and autism. A virus or other pathogen may cause collateral damage that is not simply due to the infection, but how the body responds to the pathogen.
From the Discover magazine interview of April 2012:
Have we reached the point where we can link specific infections to specific psychiatric disorders?
No, the connection is much more complex. When I worked with LCMV, it became clear that any sort of pertubation could damage the nervous system. Nerves find their way to specific locations through signposts that are part of the immune system. And if you increase immunological molecules of certain types, a nerve may jog this way as opposed to the way it's supposed to go. It may not make a difference what the infectious agent is-bacterial, viral, or parasitic.
Last weekend we went to a baptism.
It was for the grandaughter of Awetash, the woman who was our son's nanny for several years. When our son Ben was born we were in the thick of the fight with our daughter Jacqueline's seizure disorder, navigating this new world of sickness, cycling through pheno-barbitol, prednisone, and depakote, desperately trying to find something to stop the nearly eighty seizures a day she was having.
My wife was concerned we wouldn't be able to find a person to help care for Jacqueline while she attended to our newborn son. I came up with a solution. "What if we advertised for somebody to help with Ben? Then we could focus on Jacqueline."
Yes, it was a terrible choice to make, but also one that was ruthlessly practical, like the surgeon making decisions in a triage unit. It would be so much easier to find someone to work with a newborn than with the screaming, biting, could barely walk, constant diarrhea wreck that was our two-year-old daughter.
And then into our lives came Awetash, one of the strongest, kindest people I I have ever met. In so many ways she would remind me that the lives of others are often a struggle beyond our capacity to imagine. And yet every day we are given a choice as to how to respond to these challenges.
Awetash came from Eritrea, a country that was once part of Ethiopia. At the time she came to work for us the two countries were still in the midst of a decades-long civil war. Awetash was new to the United States when she came to interview and was accompanied by her sister who had been in the country for a few years. The sister's English was much better and I was struck by the sister's sense of quiet authority. It was only later I learned Awetash's sister had been a commander in the Eritrean rebel army.
The chaos which was our house didn't seem to trouble Awetash. She was always on-time, never complained, and appeared to consider us her number one priority. And she was learning how to make her way in this new land.
Every few weeks my wife would notice that Awetash had purchased a new necklace, a pretty blouse, a stylish pant suit. When she became aware of a city program for better housing for low-income people she applied for it and got a new place to live.
And as we got to know Awetash we learned more of her story. She had three children back home in Eritrea and was trying to get them into the United States. Previously she'd worked as a nanny in Saudia Arabia, a country which has a well-deserved reputation for mistreating their domestic workers. She eventually decided to flee from the family when they were on vacation in the United States.
Awetash was told she should make her escape at the airport as the family was getting ready to depart back to Saudi Arabia. A man she did not know would approach her and tell her it was time. She was to walk immediately out of the airport where another man in a car would be waiting. She was to ask no questions, get in, and the car would drive away.
But as much as Awetash was a rebel, she wanted to do everything right. She immediately applied for asylum in the United States and waited patiently for her paperwork to come through. And Awetash had a long-term plan. She wanted to get her children into the United States as well.
So there we were together, both of us with lost children. Awetash with hers stuck in a country wracked by civil war, and us with one right in front of us, but who had vanished into autism.
The Reno Gazette-Journal and the Las Vegas Review Journal are both reporting that Harvey and Annette Whittemore, founders of the Whittemore-Peterson Institute for Neuro-Immune Diseases at the University of Nevada/Reno have been sued by their former business partners for embezzlement in the amount of more than 40 million dollars. The articles can be accessed HERE.
This development may have an enormous impact on the ME/CFS community (myalgic encephelomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome) and also end up being of great importance to the autism community.
The readers of this blog will no doubt be aware that Dr. Judy Mikovits, the former research director of the Whittemore-Peterson Institute presented information at a poster session of the First International Conference on XMRV in September of 2010 that in a small study 14 out of 17 children with autism, who had parents with ME/CFS, tested positive for signs of a retroviral infection. (This was in addition to her reporting that 66 out of 101 patients with ME/CFS showed signs of retroviral infection. The research was published in the journal Science. It has since been retracted, although further research is continuing, and the controversy shows little sign of abating.)
The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers. - Henry VI - Shakespeare
This line even got a laugh in Shakespeare's time. But it's important to understand the context. Henry VI was planning a revolution and didn't want the lawyers to slow him down. If knocking off the lawyers is the sign of a planned revolution, then the pharmaceutical industry has done a pretty good job so far.
Dr. Wakefield's complaint against the British Medical Journal, Brian Deer, and Fiona Godlee for defamation can be best understood as the first stirrings of a counter-revolution.
Let me back up and explain.
I think it's incredibly difficult to create a legal system which can successfully resist the various pressures put upon it. That's why the creators of the Anglo-American justice system put such a premium on a system of checks and balances, instituted an advocacy system, and established rules of discovery. They expected people to be flawed. They expected undue pressures and prejudices to be placed upon the proceedings at some point. They anticipated that people's opinions would inevitably color their judgments and tried to make adjustments. They understood the truth was most likely to come out when both sides were able to present their strongest case. You get to confront your accusers. You get to put on your best witnesses. The other side needs to divulge their darkest secrets.
It's a rare autism book which wins praise from figures as diverse as Tom Brokaw, Jenny McCarthy, Temple Grandin, and Suzanne Wright, co-founder of Autism Speaks.
But that's exactly what writers Virginia Breen and her daughter, Elizabeth Bonker, a thirteen-year-old girl with autism have accomplished with their book, I Am in Here.
For those of us with a child who is still non-verbal despite all of our best efforts this book is akin to a glass of cool, refreshing water in the midst of a burning desert. Elizabeth cannot speak, but has learned how to communicate using the rapid prompting method created by Soma Mukhopadhyay. Elizabeth has also learned to use the computer and often types out short poems to communicate how she's feeling. For parents who wonder, and hope that something beautiful exists within our mute children, her words are nothing less than an answered prayer.
In the poem "Me" which opens up the second chapter she writes of her frustration that she goes to every extreme to try and express her need to talk, and how she wants people to know she is conscious and aware, even though she can't speak. In the explanation which accompanies her poem she says, "I wrote "Me" to let people know that even though I don't speak, I feel and understand the world around me. I want to be heard and respected. I want that for everyone, especially for people like me."
A doctor once asked me what I wanted for my daughter. A number of possibilities sprang to mind. I could have said I wanted her to be potty-trained, ride a bike, have a meal in a restaurant, but instead my fondest wish was for something else. "Someday I want to have a conversation with my daughter," was my reply.
Until that day arrives, Elizabeth and Virginia's book lets me imagine that conversation.