By Dan Olmsted
Don’t you just love the word treacle? I do. It describes so much of what we're subjected to in pop culture these days. Without looking it up, because it speaks for itself, I’d say its approximate meaning is sickly sweet sentimentality without substance. It’s no doubt named after the candy.
So much of what passes as compassionate coverage of children in this day and age is so much treacle – commodified treacle at that, by which I mean it is packaged to sell, and one touching story is just about the same as another, only distinguished by its bathos quotient (which I think of as just slightly more treacle-y than pathos).
The more bathetic, the better.
Treacle is getting easier to get away with, and harder to get away from. The whole gloppy genre of troops home from the wars and tearfully embracing their families in a brand new home that some app helped them find, etcetera, while an indecipherable Mumford-like melody swells, is a case in point.
Another: On Good Morning America Friday, a child who I’m sure is deserving of all the loving-kindness coming his way was in the spotlight – he was afraid he couldn’t assemble any friends for a birthday party, because he didn’t have any friends, and his mother’s pleas led to an extravagant outpouring of new friends on Facebook. And did GMA ever have a birthday surprise for him!
According to the Daily Mail, “during a surprise visit to the set of “Good Morning America,” Colin Cunningham found out that he has friends all around the world, even though he has to eat lunch alone at school every day.”
And wouldn’t you know, “Colin is very friendly and open, but often shows symptoms of a mild form of autism, which is why he is typically shunned by his schoolmates.
“Fortunately, this is just one of the many difficulties that no longer seems impossible to conquer thanks to social media.”
Wow, social media as super-hero -- like Mighty Mouse, here it comes to save the day! No longer will a mild form of autism spread its evil tentacles around helpless kids -- not when heroes like Facebook and ABC have anything to say about it.
The on-air promos were enough to give me the general idea, so I turned the channel. But on the channel I turned to, the Today show was featuring Bat-Boy – the child with leukemia in remission who took over San Francisco for the day. Turned out he was going to be featured at the Oscars, but the bit got cut. Never mind, he got a trip to Disneyland with the real-life (meaning movie version) of Batman himself!
Now I have to say I loved the Bat-Kid story, which seemed to grow into a spontaneous citywide celebration of a child’s triumph over adversity. (Maybe it's because Batman and Mighty Mouse are my own personal cartoon-era heroes.) The GMA extravaganza feels different to me – a child with a condition that has not been alleviated by all the attention, but is made to seem so.
Our indefatigable Anne Dachel passed along a story Friday with the kind of title we are by now immune to, so to speak: "The Dangerous History of Anti-Vaccine Comspiracies," by Jeffrey Kopman. It was the usual mashup -- mishmash is probably a better word -- of Andy Wakefield being a fraudster, and the horrifying attack of mutant killer illnesses, and parents being so profoundly deluded as to think their child had a life-wrecking vaccine reaction just because their child had a vaccine followed by a life-wrecking reaction. (They are not the same thing!) How dare these benighted parents tell anyone such a tale, when endless scientific "experts" say it didn't happen because it couldn't happen? How very dare they?
But this article, as the Church Lady would say, was special: the piece was published by The Weather Channel, of all places. And its first paragraph is quite a piece of work: "Forty-three years after the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine hit the mainstream, the disease is still flaring across the country — as are mumps, rubella and whooping cough."
Now say whut, exactly? MMR disease is still flaring, as are mumps, rubella and whooping cough? Not gonna happen. Like all Gaul, the MMR is divided in three -- their cumulus total is not another disease, unless you want to count autism (snicker, snicker). These people, they make fun of our lack of scientific understanding and then they start off like that?
On a happier note, I was really glad to see that Paul Krugman is retiring from Princeton and heading to City University, in part because he wants a vibrant big-city milieu (he mentioned Zabar's, a specialty food store on the Upper West Side), and also to focus more sharply on the issue of income inequality.
Not that there's anything wrong with Princeton. What makes me happy, rather, is that Paul is my age, 61, shares my political outlook, and even my college class, and is serving notice that he's not letting up, he's bearing down on what he cares about most. And he's enjoying himself.
I can dig it.
This week AofA has focused on an outbreak of "Polio-like" symptoms in California.
Doctors May Have Missed Pesticide Clue in California’s “Polio-like” Cluster
Child in “Polio-like Cluster” Linked to California’s Winemaking Industry
“Polio-like” Cluster in California Has Eerie Echoes
Below is Dan and Mark's 7 part series on polio which ran in 2011.
By Dan Olmsted and Mark Blaxill
1. The Wrong Narrative.
Polio is the iconic epidemic, its conquest one of medicine’s heroic dramas. The narrative is by now familiar: Random, inexplicable outbreaks paralyzed and killed thousands of infants and children and struck raw terror into 20th century parents, triggering a worldwide race to identify the virus and develop a vaccine. Success ushered in the triumphant era of mass vaccination. Now polio’s last hideouts amid the poorest of the poor in Asia and Africa are under relentless siege by, among others, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Eradication is just a matter of time, and many more illnesses will soon meet the same fate.
But based on our research over the past two years, we believe this narrative is wrong – and wrong for reasons that go beyond mere historical interest. The misunderstanding of polio has warped the public health response to modern illnesses in ways that actually make them harder to prevent, control, and treat.
The reality, we believe, is that the virus itself was just half the epidemic equation -- necessary but not sufficient to create The Age of Polio. Outbreaks were not caused solely by poliovirus – the microbe was an ancient and heretofore harmless intestinal bug -- but by its interaction with a new toxin, most often innovative pesticides used to treat fruits and vegetables.
This alternative narrative makes better sense of the natural history of polio, and it resolves a number of anomalies that remain to this day. It suggests why poliomyelitis outbreaks emerged, evolved, and exploded the way they did; it probably solves, for the first time, the enduring riddle of why Franklin D. Roosevelt was afflicted 90 years ago this summer on Campobello Island; and it may mean today’s billion-dollar-a-year eradication effort is misguided, if not downright quixotic.
These are large claims. Let us explain.
Polio was a strange illness, never fully understood even by those who devoted their lives to studying and subduing it. It was a summer plague, coming on in late spring and all but vanishing in the fall. Many thought contagion had something to do with water, and Americans kept their children away from swimming pools in droves.
Read Dan and Mark's posts earlier this week:
Child in “Polio-like Cluster” Linked to California’s Winemaking Industry and
By Dan Olmsted and Mark Blaxill
One of the California children with “polio-like” symptoms ate raspberries right before she got sick, her mother said Wednesday -- but that didn't seem to set off any alarm bells about pesticide residue from the medical experts investigating the baffling outbreak.
“She was wheezing, then she had lunch with raspberries and then we went to [the] pediatrician's office where they said she sounded like asthma,” Jessica Tomei said in an email, describing the symptoms her daughter, Sofia Jarvis, experienced in November 2012.
“On the way home she threw up. The next day we were in the hospital. 5 days later her arm was paralyzed. I kept mentioning the raspberries but botulism was ruled out.”
Doctors and public health officials have focused on microbes in their hunt for the cause of the cluster, which so far comprises five children in the San Francisco Bay area and a reported 20 more throughout the state. The five cases occurred between August 2012 and July 2013. Officials said a rare enterovirus – a stomach bug – was detected in two of the cases.
But given Jessica Tomei’s account, pesticide residue seems to us like a prime suspect. “Fruit is notoriously difficult to grow organically and without pesticides,” Jeff Moyer, farm director at the Rodale Institute, an organic research institution, is quoted as saying on the institute’s Web site. According to the institute, “Because most fruits have soft skins, the pesticides that are used to kill those bugs (and the molds and fungi that also love fruit) get into the flesh and into your mouth, and no amount of peeling or washing can remove them.”
We reported Wednesday morning that Sofia’s parents, Jessica Tomei and Jeff Jarvis, are professional winemakers, but her mother was dubious of a chemical connection via that route. On Wednesday, she mentioned the raspberries as a likelier source of pesticide.
“She had raspberries the morning of her illness -- they ruled out botulism. If what you are saying is true, perhaps the raspberries played a part. I believe more chemicals are used in that type of agriculture vs. vineyard. Interesting thoughts.”
In our 2011 series, The Age of Polio – How an Old Virus and New Toxins Triggered a Man-made Epidemic, we proposed that beginning in the late 1800s, the poliovirus – for millennia a harmless enterovirus – was rendered dangerous by its interaction with the new agricultural pesticide lead arsenate. Our theory: the pesticide caused damage that allowed the virus to penetrate the nervous system and reach the spinal cord, where it caused the paralysis called poliomyelitis.
Here’s something worth knowing about the cluster of “polio-like illnesses” identified by doctors in the San Francisco area: Some of the first outbreaks of actual poliomyletis in the United States more than a century ago happened in the same area.
Is history repeating itself? Are more cases on the way, and not just in California? It’s a question worth asking, and far more important to public health than headline-grabbing measles and whooping cough outbreaks. But don’t hold your breath, because the real answer may say more about the nature of modern illness than most mainstream medical “experts” would care to consider.
As news outlets reported on the cases on Monday – “five patients who developed paralysis in one or more of their limbs between August 2012 and July 2013” in a 100-mile radius in California, CNN said – I was drawn back to the series Mark Baxill and I wrote in 2011, called The Age of Polio: How an Old Virus and New Toxins Triggered a Man-Made Epidemic.
In that 12,000-word series, we argued that a fresh look at the evidence suggested that for millennia, polio was almost always a harmless enterovirus – a stomach bug – until late in the 19th century. That's when a new pesticide called lead arsenate allowed the virus access to the nervous system, where it reached the spinal cord; this combination was the trigger for the first outbreaks of the paralytic disease called poliomyelitis.
“The reality, we believe, is that the virus itself was just half the epidemic equation -- necessary but not sufficient to create The Age of Polio," we wrote. "Outbreaks were not caused solely by poliovirus – the microbe was an ancient and heretofore harmless intestinal bug -- but by its interaction with a new toxin, most often innovative pesticides used to treat fruits and vegetables.” When children who were infected with the virus ate lead arsenate-laden produce, they were exquisitely vulnerable.
As evidence, we cited the first dozen or so outbreaks that occurred in the 1890s, just as lead arsenate was invented and first used commercially. The first of those clusters was “in 1893 in Boston (26 cases, no deaths). Then, in 1894, came what is widely regarded as the first major epidemic, in Rutland and Proctor, Vermont (132 cases, 18 deaths). Thirty more outbreaks – from such seemingly disparate locations as Oceana County, Michigan, and California’s Napa Valley -- were reported in the United States through 1909. The worst by far was New York in 1907, with 2,500 cases and a five percent mortality rate, a harbinger of the 1916 epidemic in the Northeast that killed 2,000 in New York City alone.”
Ah yes, California’s Napa Valley, just above San Francisco. Anyone? Anyone? We suspected widespread early use of lead arsenate in grape-growing country. In fact, the San Francisco area was home to three of the first dozen outbreaks – a quarter of the total. According to the peer-reviewed journal paper, “The Spatial Dynamics of Polio,” they were San Francisco and Napa, 1896 (three victims); San Joaquin Valley, 1899 (four victims); and San Francisco and vicinity, 1901 (55 victims). One fourth of the earliest clusters, in and around San Francisco.
By Dan Olmsted
Can it be? Is it already time to wrangle over the re-re-authorization of the Combating Autism Act, the billion-dollar (give or take) boondoggle that was supposed to marshal the government's war on autism but instead has shillied and shallied and dillied and dallied? Sadly, the only thing that has redoubled is not the government effort, but the autism rate.
It is indeed CAA time. The funding expires at the end of September -- the government's fiscal year -- unless it is renewed. The way things work in Washington, where I live and which I used to cover, heavy negotiations will be going on in April and May, which is practically next month.
The glaring beacon of mediocrity that exemplifies the feds' futile efforts is, of course, the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee, which, besides not coordinating anything, spends most of its time avoiding the fact that vaccines are driving the autism epidemic. Tom Insel, whom I've called a feckless factotum and called on to resign many moons ago, seems to be hearing voices from on high (HHS? The White House?) and keeps things merrily spinning in circles.
Don't take my word for it. The Government Accounting Office recently concluded that "84 percent of the autism research projects funded by federal agencies had the potential to be duplicative. Of the 1,206 autism research projects funding by federal agencies [mostly, let's face it, by Insel's NIH] from fiscal years 2008 through 2012, 1,018 projects [most of them!] were potentially duplicative because the projects were categorized to the same objectives in the IACC strategic plan."
In its own self-serving report to Congress, the NIH's Office of Autism Research Coordination blathered on about how, "In the time since the enactment of the CAA, CDC has built critical infrastructure to further advance understanding of ASD and has seen these efforts come to fruition."
No, the CDC has continued to front-load the childhood vaccine schedule with immune-inflaming shots that are the primary trigger of the autism epidemic; the NIH has funded stupid and studiously avoidant studies; and HHS, of which both are a part, has continued to deep-six the vaccine "court" evidence that vaccine injury is clearly linked to autism.
Heck of a job, Tommy.
Given all that, what can we really expect from a renewed CAA? Well, as I said, it's almost March 1 -- meteorological spring -- and hope springs eternal. What would you, dear reader, like to see embedded in the next few hundred million dollars of government spending on the worsening autism epidemic?
By Dan Olmsted
Mainstream medical and media types have decided to kick Andy Wakefield in the terminal ilium again. As John Stone outlined in an AOA post on Monday, CNN (home of Anderson Cooper’s famously vile grilling) weighed in with a column by Frank Y. Yong titled, “Blind Eye to Scientific Fraud is Dangerous.”
Yong wrote: “Episodes like the 1998 fabrication of data indicating a connection between childhood vaccines and autism risk have clear public health and policy repercussions.” (Yong is a junior fellow at Emory University in Atlanta, a virtual assisted living facility for emeriti CDC vaccine officials like Walt Orenstein and Robert Chen. I’m sure they cabled their approval.)
No need for Yong to elaborate on the “fabrication of data” before moving on to Michele Bachmann and Jenny McCarthy. (Bernadine Healy? Never heard of her.) “Everybody knows” by now that Wakefield committed fraud by changing the 12 case histories to falsely implicate the MMR in regressive autism and a novel bowel disease.
“Everybody knows” this solely because of the work of British slimester Brian Deer, who first filled the Sunday Times of London with his accusations. Nobody paid any attention, so he recycled them under the imprimatur of the British Medical Journal and its editor, Fiona Godlee. In an editorial accompanying Deer’s articles in 2011, she wrote:
“Deer unearthed clear evidence of falsification. He found that not one of the 12 cases reported in the 1998 Lancet paper was free of misrepresentation or undisclosed alteration, and that in no single case could the medical records be fully reconciled with the descriptions, diagnoses, or histories published in the journal.
“Who perpetrated this fraud? There is no doubt that it was Wakefield.”
Nobody in England paid attention to the BMJ’s claims either, but the “fraud” then traveled across the Atlantic to our fair shores and became “truth,” a la the current Wikipedia entry for Wakefield: “Andrew Jeremy Wakefield (born 1957) is a British former surgeon and medical researcher, known for his fraudulent 1998 research paper in support of the now-discredited claim that there is a link between the administration of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine, and the appearance of autism and bowel disease.”
In certain circles, nothing is more appalling than the decline of recognized expertise – degreed, pedigreed, refereed, peer-reviewed expertise.
The very idea that some people believe themselvesqualified to opine (the legal term) on various matters simply because they done studied up on it on the internets – well, it simply won’t do.
Over at thefederalist.com, Tom Nichols is not amused. “I fear we are witnessing the ‘death of expertise’: a Google-fueled, Wikipedia-based, blog-sodden collapse of any division between professionals and laymen, students and teachers, knowers and wonderers – in other words, between those of any achievement in an area and those with none at all. …
“This is a very bad thing. Yes, it’s true that experts can make mistakes, as disasters from thalidomide to the Challenger explosion tragically remind us. But mostly, experts have a pretty good batting average compared to laymen: doctors, whatever their errors, seem to do better with most illnesses than faith healers or your Aunt Ginny and her special chicken gut poultice. To reject the notion of expertise, and to replace it with a sanctimonious insistence that every person has a right to his or her own opinion, is silly.”
“Yes, it’s true that experts can make mistakes” – that’s putting mildly. The Challenger and thalidomide were not exactly minor moments in the history of technology and medicine. I wonder what Nichols would have made of self-styled critics of the space program and drugs who had raised alarms ahead of those disasters. What if they didn’t have college degrees?
Nichols equates criticism of “expert” doctors by non-experts to faith healers and chicken gut poltices (were there ever such things)? But when it comes to vaccines and autism, the real parallel is between health care providers and consumers, a point Nichols completely misses in his rush to bolster the doctors, the experts.
“To take but one horrifying example,” Nichols writes, “we live today in an advanced post-industrial country that is now fighting a resurgence of whooping cough — a scourge nearly eliminated a century ago — merely because otherwise intelligent people have been second-guessing their doctors and refusing to vaccinate their kids after reading stuff written by people who know exactly zip about medicine. (Yes, I mean people like Jenny McCarthy.)”
Never mind that most of these whooping cough patients were in fact vaccinated. Or that not just Jenny McCarthy but prominent medical experts like the late Dr. Bernadine Healy said the same thing.
Back in 2005, I wrote an Age of Autism for UPI called March of the Experts, playing (if anyone noticed) off The March of Folly by Barbara Tuchman, a book that detailed the idiotic vanity and miscalculations that trigger war after war.
In autism, experts have continually been wrong, I wrote – blaming parents’ personalities for making their child autistic, ignoring the recovering of the very first child diagnosed with autism after being treated with gold salts, and condemning anyone who has ever tried biomedical treatments ever since.
“These days, parents aren't condemned for having autistic children,” I wrote, “just for doing something about it without the permission of experts who are certain nothing can be done.”
In fact, autism is the classic case in point that experts deserve no special standing. When I first went to college, I read a statement in the course catalog that has stuck with me ever since: “A course is simply a group of students examining a particular subject under the direction of someone who has studied it before.” There’s a lot of humility in that definition of the teacher, the expert – they’ve studied it before, period. Now it’s the student’s turn.
So I don’t hail from the school of expert worship. A good deal of what I’ve learned about autism has come, in fact, from what I’ve read using the internets. You can find scientific papers that way, and you can make of them what you will, whether you are an officially declared expert or not.
Dan Olmsted is Editor of Age of Autism.
By Dan Olmsted
It's often said that the worst fear of parents with an autistic child is this: What will happen after we're gone? This week brings the reminder that there is an even worse fear: What happens if my child dies before I do?
The death of Avonte Oquendo, whose remains were identified this week, brings that fear into high relief. The only good is its reminder, if one were needed, that "being autistic" is not the same as being "differently abled," and that the autism community cannot simply fend for itself. I remember sitting next to Bernard Rimland as he told the mother of a high-functioning young man -- a mother who felt her son was humiliated by the depiction of autism as a disability -- that if her son was content and capable, more power to him. That was not the kind of autism Bernie was talking about.
Nor was he talking about the kind of "autism" on display among certain high-functioning self-advocates and celebrities whose "coming out" only serves to diminish the seriousnesss of the real autism epidemic. (I'm reminded of Tracey Ullman's skit in which she played a minor, over-the-hill starlet who tried to stage a career comeback with a book titled something like, "My Lifelong Battle With Drugs, Alcohol, and Depression." When all else fails, talk about your heroic personal struggle.)
It's also often said that autism does not shorten one's lifespan, but I'm beginning to wonder. As more and more kids with the severe, immune-compromised, physically ill kind of autism age out into adulthood -- "after the bus stops coming" -- the prospects look bleaker, not better, for so many. The denial of the epidemic has allowed planning for the tsunami of young adults headed our way to fall into abeyance. Puberty seems to hit many children not only with new and sometimes disturbing behaviors, but with seizures and other new and frightening problems.
By Dan Olmsted
Every day, four of us at Age of Autism -- Kim, John Stone, Teresa Conrick and to a lesser extent myself -- "moderate" the comments that are posted in response to articles on AOA. Unlike readers, we see them in one long string as they pop up as feedback to many stories at once.
The most current and hot-button stories, as you will imagine, get the most response, but great comments and updates are added all the time on stories from our archive -- now totaling 6,133 over six years (comment total: precisely 99,500 and counting as of 10:17 a.m. Friday). And even straightforward news updates can generate passionate and personal essays.
We call attention to these wonderful additions by highlighting the most recent on the right hand side of our home page. But something I've often wanted to do is simply run a week's worth as an article in itself to share with you what we are seeing, learning from -- and being so impressed by -- on a daily basis.
So here goes. As an FYI, and as we clearly state, we do "moderate," which means we make a decision whether to post each comment. No apologies for that -- AOA would become troll heaven if we gave the autism epidemic and vaccine injury deniers carte blanche. And we watch for personal cruelty, wishing anyone harm, invasive comments about other people's children, destructive infighting and of course libel. We run the overwhelming majority (only three were deleted in the past week, compared to all those printed below); our choices reflect what is called editing, not censorship.
To start off, here's a comment by David Thrower in Great Britain, the kind of thing that, repeated hundreds of times, has deeply shaped my understanding of the Age of Autism:
"My son was perfectly healthy until vaccinated against measles in the UK. We watched him disintegrate into profound autism in the weeks following his immunisation. No one else has put forward any, let alone a remotely credible, alternative explanation for this. I remain 100 per cent convinced that his immunisations caused his dramatic regression. David Thrower Warrington, UK"
Now for the rest, in most recent order but not sorted by the articles they are responding to -- you'll see them as we do. In most cases the theme is clear, or will become so. I've dropped only a few that either don't stand alone well or were multiple comments by the same person, in some cases making the same point on different posts.
Enjoy -- and, as always, thanks for immeasurably enriching AOA.
Alison MacNeil said:
Thank you Lou, This is so powerful and my response is very emotional.
Reply | Edit | View | 1 hour ago on Autism and The Echo…
Interesting and enlightening article.
Reply | Edit | View | 1 hour ago on Voices for Vaccine…
Teresa Conrick said:
Thank you, Lou for writing this haunting expose. The tragedy of Minamata has always stayed with me. Those words ring so true in the epidemic of autism: “We shall pursue you to justice, and we shall not forget.”
Reply | Edit | View | 2 hours ago on Autism and The Echo…
Thank you, Jenny. I remember someone pointing out that the key thing and the common ground between all these various toxic substances and sources is the "route" by which the damage is done to cellular pathways. Different substances can cause virtually the same types of injuries. So I think 2014 should be the year that the specifics of Carson's and JFK's campaign should be resurrected and the year the public stops viewing cellular science as the "forbidden texts." The science feeds policy and policy is everyone's business.
Reply | Edit | View | 7 hours ago on Soylent Greenwashin…
The person or persons known as "Voices for Vaccines" at the Facebook page reminds me of the Wizard of Oz. Reading the conversation, I imagine VfV to have a loud booming voice. 'THE WISE AND POWERFUL VOICES FOR VACCINES HAS SPOKEN!' Since Reiss has been called out on the ridiculous number of posts she produces, maybe it is she who is hiding behind the curtain, so she can spout all she wants (or is paid to do) posing as a different mysterious person. No matter who VfV is, the tone of the whole thing is just really weird. I wonder how much they pay people to like them. Maybe they give students extra credit to like their Facebook page.
Reply | Edit | View | Yesterday on Voices for Vaccine…
It's a useful coincidence that autism and autoimmunity start with the same three letters, in both cases because they derive from the Greek word for self, as in aut-obiography. The self of autism is trapped by developmental mayhem; the one in autoimmunity is turned against itself, mistaking its own physical home for an enemy invader.
Autoimmunity, of course, may be at the heart of autism, when the infant's immune system is goaded by the stimulation of excessive vaccination, organic mercury exposure, and other environmental triggers into launching damaging attacks. That, at least, is what we believe at Age of Autism.
So it's fascinating to watch more and more observers notice that -- autism completely aside -- we are in the midst of a tidal wave of autoimmune illnesses that young adults find themselves coping with, as if they were nursing home patients whose defenses were going haywire in the inevitable decline into senescence and death.
The common theme: something is happening here, and we need to know what it is.
AOA's Anne Dachel drew my attention this week to an article in The Atlantic titled "Living Sick And Dying Young in Rich America"
by Leah Sottile, in which she describes her youngish husband Joe's battle with something called Ankylosing Spondylitis, which Wikipedia tells us "is a chronic inflammatory disease of the axial skeleton with variable involvement of peripheral joints and nonarticular structures. AS is a form of spondyloarthritis, a chronic, inflammatory arthritis where immune mechanisms are thought to have a key role."
Sottile realizes she and her husband are not alone: "Almost all of our friends are sick, too. When we met our friend Missy Narrance, Joe found solace in talking to her about his health. She’s 29 and has been battling lupus and fibromyalgia for the past 10 years."
And on and on. "In our close group of friends—who range from 25 to 35 years old—we know people with everything from tumors to chronic pain. Sometimes our conversations over beers on a Friday night turn to discussions of long-term care and miscommunication between doctors."
This is a valuable -- incredibly valuable -- observation. We need a widespread recognition that too many people are sick in disturbing new ways. So Sottile can be forgiven a conventional and not-so-valuable discussion of possible causes, from supposedly dangerous biofuels to the widespread but nonetheless wackadoodle hygiene hypothesis to the facts that people don't exercise and eat a lot of crap -- processed macaroni and cheese comes in for special scorn (in which case, I'm a dead man!). There's also this:
"Despite the fact that America shells out more money on healthcare than any other country in the world, according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—and a hefty 75 percent of those dollars are going toward aiding people with chronic conditions—almost half of American adults had at least one chronic condition in 2005."
You, dear AOA reader, will recognize the anomaly there -- it is probably not "despite" all this healthcare, aka toxic medical interventions, but in large measure because of them that this "emergency" of chronic illness, as Sottile properly labels it, is occurring. (Quoting the CDC on this, ground zero for the bloated vaccine schedule, is especially rich.)
Enjoy this Best Of....
By Dan Olmsted
Epidemics are simple, my colleague and co-author Mark Blaxill says. They have beginnings in time and place, they spread in ways that ultimately reveal their origins, and they end when their essence is understood and further cases are prevented.
The autism epidemic is no exception, although the medical-industrial complex wants you to think so, and the mainstream media is only too happy to grant their wish (and scoop up their ad dollars). Autism is a mystery, it's genetic, but many genes, many, many genes and gene-environment interactions and something something about older moms and better awareness and Prozac and maybe freeways and deisel fuel and icky stuff like that.
No! That is not the ticket.
Autism represents a particular kind of environmental injury in susceptible children. It had a precise beginning, in the 1930s when the chemical compound that caused the first cluster, ethyl mercury, was first commercialized. It simmered along as that exposure remained fairly steady for half a century. Then, like a raisin in the sun, it exploded a half century later when one of the commercial uses of ethyl mercury -- as a preservative in multidose childhood vaccines-- was suddenly ramped up.
Other manmade toxins, and other exposures from organic mercury developed in the interval, and the CDC's bloated, too many too soon vaccine schedule, no doubt kicked up the number of cases of early infant brain damage manifesting as the autistic behavioral syndrome. But the inauguration, and later the explosion, of ethyl mercury tracks clearly with the same trajectory as autism -- a real twofer! In a sense it is a challenge-rechallenge situation, the kind of evidence scientists consider proof of causation but, because it is autism, have to claim is coincidence.
But because it is so simple, and ultimately self-evident, it doesn't take very long to make the case -- just under 15 minutes, actually. This summer, Mark, Teresa Conrick, Natalie Palumbo and I told the first part of the story in a 10 minute video titled, How Mercury Triggered The Age of Autism.
It showed how we went from essentially zero cases before 1930 to the first 11, identified by Leo Kanner in his landmark 1943 medical paper, Autistic Disturbances of Affective Contact. Those families' backgrounds, we showed, had an astonishing and otherwise inexplicable link to the new ethyl mercury compounds-- in agriculture via seed disinfectants and lumber preservatives, and in medicine for multidose vials of ethyl mercury-preserved diphtheria toxoid vaccines.
For God's sake, the father of Case 2 was a plant pathologist at North Carolia State whose first paper in his archive there is an experiment with mercury! The archives contain a notation that he was working with ethyl mercury in 1936 at the same time his son was born. This fact, confirmed by a brochure for the product in his archives, is the smoking gun of the autism epidemic, we've argued.
Now cut to exactly 50 years later. In 1986, Congress approved the Vaccine Injury Compensation Act, and despite its helpful sounding name, all hell broke loose -- hell in the form of the autism epidemic. Since then, autism has soared by a factor of 10 or 20 times, as the number of vaccines increased as a result of the liability-free world the act created for the pharmaceutical companies. The amount of mercury kids were getting tripled, and the timing got far more dangerous -- flu shots with mercury for pregnant women, HepB shots for babies within hours of birth.
Editor's note: This week Contributing Editor Dan Burns and I discuss the year ahead at Age of Autism and in the parent-led vaccine injury advocacy movement. Thanks to Dan B. for facilitating this. And thanks to all of you for your readership in 2013. The image from the cover of Kyoto magazine is one I reference in the video. It represents where the medical-industrial complex and mainstream media are right now -- thinking that they've fired winning salvos in their total war on microbes (and people like us!), but in line to receive an unpleasant surprise of their own making. -- Dan Olmsted
If Katie Couric's show on HPV vaccine side effects -- you know, fainting, permanent disability, painful injection sites, death, stuff like that -- didn't convince people that the vaccine is not worth the risk, the comment threads on Katie's blogs surely should have.
Any reasonable person, reading story after story by parents and teenage girls alike about the amazingly similar onset of amazingly similar problems, would set aside the "correlation is not causation" defense and realize what we're really dealing with here: vaccine injury and vaccine injury denial.
That makes it all the more unfortunate that obvious pharma pressure led Katie to take it all back on the Huffington Post. In retrospect this has been The Year of Taking It All Back. Age of Autism was invited to be part of a journalism blog conference at Columbia School of Journalism. Then we were disinvited. A House hearing was planned on the vaccine injury compensation program. Oops, postponed indefinitely.
But word is out, and it can't be unsaid. For that, Katie still deserves our thanks.
The Gardasil story is so powerful because many of the victims are able to speak for themselves. But that doesn't make vaccine injury in infants any less convincing. I was struck by this comment this week on AOA by Warrior Mom:
I am a convinced mom that my son has regressive autism because he too had reactions after getting his vaccines. He had full body convulsions within 10 minutes of getting his shots at 3 months and 12 months. At 6 months he was hospitalized about 6 hours after getting his vaccines for respiratory issues (he had a slight cold the day he was vaccinated).
At 15 months he got his MMR with other shots and screamed for three days straight. I believe this vaccine was the most damaging. Each time we lost a little of him. By 22 months his language skills had REGRESSED to that of a 2 month old.
Our son's pediatrician kept telling us after each event that our son was fine. Our son is 14 yo now and we've worked hard to gain back some language, although to most people it is unintelligible. He struggles severely with his attention which makes it near impossible for him to focus to learn.
Our son's pediatrician never filed a VAERS but I did once I realized and linked all of the vaccine reactions together. I know our son will never be compensated for his vaccine-inflicted, lifelong disability because of the massive cover-up by our government and vaccine manufacturers.
What needs to happen to make our voices heard LOUDER? I'm so incredibly frustrated that we (the families and supporters) have not been able to get vaccine manufacturers and the CDC to compensate us for damages and lifelong care costs for our beloved family members damaged by vaccines.
Any reasonable person can see what's going on there, too.
Dan Olmsted is Editor of Age of Autism.
By Dan Olmsted
On July 3, 1940, Winston Churchill ordered the British fleet to sink French ships clustered off the coast of Algeria, lest they fall into the hands of the Nazis.
"An hour and a half later, the British Fleet attacked," according to Historian on the Warpath. "In less than ten minutes, 1,297 French soldiers were dead and three battleships were sunk. One battleship and five destroyers managed to escape."
This is the utilitarian principle pure and simple -- "the belief that the value of a thing or an action is determined by its utility," as the Free Dictionary puts it. Killing 1,297 of your allies to avoid hardware from falling into the enemies' hands, in hopes of winning a world war against pure evil, was justified in the circumstances, Churchill believed. History hasn't argued with him.
But few concepts are more vulnerable to corruption than utilitarianism, especially when it comes to human beings. If you're going to argue that some lives are more important than others, you'd better have a pretty convincing case. And you'd better make the tradeoff clear so people can decide if they are in favor of it.
That kind of corruption underlies vaccine injury denialism -- the hell with your child's death or disability from vaccine injury, the denialists implicitly argue, disease prevention is a greater good worth your sacrifice. But rather than acknowledge this -- that some lives matter more than others in this calculation, and they aren't yours -- they simply deny the injury. No one -- no real live child, teenager, or adult, and certainly not tens, hundreds, or hundreds of thousands of them -- must be allowed on the public record to have suffered from a demonstrable vaccine injury. Someone somewhere theoretically maybe, but not here and now, not on a comment thread, not in the form of a mom telling in anguished detail how her child died immediately following a vaccination. Not ever.
You could call this the Vioxx defense. While it is a given to objective observers that the painkiller was vastly overprescribed and Merck recklessly killed tens of thousands, and suppressed data that should have warned it and everyone else, the company chose to fight every individual claim in court. That led to enough mixed verdicts that plaintiffs eventually agreed to a $5 billion settlement, a blip on Merck's revenue radar. The creator of that strategy was promoted to head of Merck, where he remains, (Also a board member at Penn State, he was briefly put in charge of investigating the Sandusky scandal, until wiser heads saw that was a clear conflict of interest, something that never happens in Vaccine World).
Merck to victims: OK, maybe Vioxx killed tens of thousands, but it didn't kill YOU! Sue us!
Now another Merck vaccine, Gardasil, is getting the Vioxx defense. Shrieking trolls like the aptly named "lilady" (I pronounce it lie-lady) and law professors who've never passed the bar exam clutter up Katie Couric's website to dispute every parental account of damage from the vaccine, including the deaths of children.
What really underlies their argument, once again, is the utilitarian principle -- that death and injury from the vaccine are trumped by the public policy objective of reducing the supposed deaths that would occur from not using Garasil. But that principle can't withstand scrutiny. Not when it comes to a dubious vaccine produced by a corrupt manufacturer with an appalling track record of insufficient safety testing, and strong evidence of damage to real people in the real world. This of course is the whole corrupt meme that's slowly being dismembered, as vaccine injury from the bloated CDC schedule becomes widespread and affects older children and adults whose experience can be documented and recounted. In particular, the vaccine "court" coverup of the link with autism -- the link being that the creation of the court itself triggered the autism epidemic -- comes into clear view, thanks to thousands of parents and the dynamite article, "Unanswered Questions," by Holland et al.
The vaccine injury denialists are stuck defending a situation in which more people are harmed by prevention than the diseases supposedly being prevented. And that's not even utilitarianism!
Call them the futilitarians. Or maybe the F-U-tilitarians. Every once in a while the grinning death's head does shine through: the hell with your child's death or disability from vaccine injury.
From John Stone: "Ken Reibel puts his foot in his mouth on Katie's blog. I have commented: "Seasoned vaccines public relations professional Ken Reibel admits below that HPV vaccines may have seriously injured as many as 4000 girls in the US and argues that this is acceptable collateral damage for the program:
"'Of the 22,000 HPV vaccine related VAERS reports filed from 2006 to 3/2013, 92% were non-serious (fainting, soreness at injection site, nausea, etc.) So that leaves 1,760 "serious" reports. Even if we double that number and round up to 4,000, it comes nowhere near the 50,000 cases of cervical cancer reported in the US since 2006.'"
Four thousand serious injuries that include deaths. A trifle.
The matching fund drive for AOA that began last week ended Thursday night, and Kim, Mark and I are pleased to report that we (meaning you) met and exceeded the goal. An anonymous donor put up $3,000 and challenged readers to match it, which you did and more. We will put this to good use in meeting operating expenses and developing new projects.
We had about 60 donations that ranged from $5 to $500. The number who gave in just 10 days really amazed us -- we've never come close to that figure before. We are mindful that this is a community without a lot to spare after confronting the costs of a major disability AND working to help their kids recover, and so I think we tend to hold back, not unreasonably.
Our A.D. had no such qualms in urging us on, and is over the moon with the response:
"Thank you for sharing the GREAT news, Dan! The amount raised is indeed wonderful, and it was my pleasure to help out. An honest, truth-seeking, truth-spilling blog like this is so important in this age of bought-and-paid-for media and wealth-over-health "medicine"…and Age of Autism makes it happen, day in and day out. I eagerly log in to AoA every day to read some REAL news, news that is important and encouraging to me. A heartfelt thank you to each of you." And to all of you.
Senseless: The sad news this week about the death of Chandler Webb, 19, after a flu shot is a reminder of the reality of what the medical professionals call an idiosyncratic reaction. (He also got either a TB test or shot, depending on the account.) With no evident risk factors in this young Utah man who was heading off on a Mormon mission, there was no predicting he would suffer a reaction. So why take the risk at all? A flu shot for a 19-year-old does not qualify except in the CDC's fevered imagination .
By Dan Olmsted
We are nearly at the halfway point in our $3,000 matching fund drive to support Age of Autism's mission to, well, end the age of autism. A kind anonymous donor has offered to match any donations up to that cumulative total, ending Thanksgiving night. That means anything you give by then will be worth exactly twice as much, unless you give a million dollars, in which case it will be worth about $1,001,500. We will worry about it when it happens.
A more reasonable approach was suggested by our regular commenter Twyla: "If: 2 dozen readers give $25, and 2 dozen readers give $50, and 1 dozen readers give $100, the goal will be met! C'mon people, give what you can!"
"Anonymous Donor" chimed in: "Twyla is correct! Please, give as generously as you can to keep AoA going strong, especially in today's extremely hostile climate towards those with 'autism' and vaccine injuries of all sorts. If you appreciate a truthful, timely, and intelligent news source, then please help keep Age of Autism alive and running!"
Thanks Twyla and A.D., thanks to our entire AOA community, and happy Thanksgiving week.
A few years ago I was at a small dinner hosted by a lovely retired psychoanalyst. She had invited an interesting mix of folks. But like a potluck, you never quite know what you'll get. One woman was a real annoyance. She kept introducing strange topics and expounding on them at clueless length.
No one said anything, but when the hostess and I were at the sink doing dishes, she used the cover provided by running water, and another language, to lean over and whisper conspiratorially, "Ces idees sont fou!" My French ended in freshman year, but it was enough to get her meaning -- These ideas are crazy! We smiled. Enough said.
There are a number of crazy ideas rolling around the autism world right now, and like hydroponic lettuce that doesn't require dirt to grow, they are not grounded in anything. One instance that makes the point involves a video we posted of Rolf Hazlehurst at the recent congressional briefing. After a few days, some glitch In the video caused our home page to take readers to that post rather than the top of the home page.
As we told readers, we had to take the post down and find a different video link, which we did. It is now back up.
But oh the ideas that get into some people's heads! Supposedly we "deleted" the video for some obscure reason having to do with the Canary Party, which sponsored the briefing and is also a sponsor (I confess! Shoot me now) of AOA. I tried explaining what really happened to one web conspiracist, saying I "just want to make sure you hear that personally from me."
No luck: "Given the circumstances, I cannot take your word for why the video was taken down." (What circumstances?) That's what made me think of the dinner party and my host's quiet comment: Ces idees sont fou.
Dan Olmsted is Editor of Age of Autism.
By Dan Olmsted
Age of Autism started as a blog six years ago this week, and our signal accomplishment, to quote Sondheim, is that we're still here. A number of other publication have come and gone, changed venues and editors and formats and focus. We at Age of Autism remain committed, somewhat paradoxically, to ending the age of autism. But until that day comes, you can count on Kim and Mark and me and our valued Contributing Editors and sponsors to keep up our daily pirate radio broadcasts, so to speak, to our fellow members of the rebel alliance. You know who you are, and you know why we're here.
I've often said that "the glory" of Age of Autism is the community that has grown up around it, a community visible every day in the comment section that accompanies each story. Recently your voices seem louder and stronger than ever, reflected not only in the daily "hits" on our site, but in the hard-hitting, thoughtful and revealing comments.
Of course, strong comments follow strong content, and a number of posts recently have stirred fascinating response threads. The Canary Party's Not a Coincidence video on Gardasil Vaccine injury, Rolf Hazlehurst's eloquent explanation of the vaccine court catastrophe, Cat Jamison on bullying parents over vaccine concerns, Julie Obradovic on Jon Stewart's casual cruelty, Laura Hayes on questions to ask vaccine injury deniers have tapped into a deep vein.
That's kind of a theme lately. I must say that the festering nastiness (many of you will recognize that phrase) of the so-called skeptics -- those who believe their superior access to the Great God Science entitles them to hurl Old-Testament style damnation upon heretics who witnessed their child's vaccine injury and want to alert fellow parents -- is a continuing astonishment, even six years on.
Newcomers, like the coldly vile Doris Reiss and execrable Emily Willingham, pop up to replace flameouts like former cupcake writer, now formally employed pharma shill Trine Tsouderos. Reliable goofs like David "I'm an assistant professor, don't cross me" Gorski soldier on. Dave has been complaining lately that AOA, which he calls "the anti-vaccine crank blog," has been ignoring his puerile logorrhea, so let me throw him a namecheck: I've been working on a piece that will blend post-modern deconstructionist literary criticism with neo-Freudian analysis, with the working title: "Scatology as Signifier: Fecal Imagery as Impacted Self-Loathing in the Work of David Gorski."
I'm loathe to highlight individual comments by our readers, but for our anniversary I'll make an exception and end with this observation from Cia Parker about Little Dorit on Emily Willingham's blog about the execrable, coldly vile Vaccine Injury Compenstion Àct:
"So this law is saying that it's all right to damage children with vaccines, that causing a high percentage of vaxed children to get asthma, allergies, ADHD, seizure disorders, bowel disease, and/or autism, is all right as long as very few get measles or chickenpox. That parents are ignorant if we refuse the vaccines, that we're deluded if we see our children react to vaccines with severe damage and report what we saw, like hundreds of thousands of others are doing. ...
By Dan Olmsted
If I were to commit a crime in Tennessee, I would have but one wish: not to be prosecuted by Rolf Hazlehurst.
Rolf is part Atticus Finch and part Sam Waterston on Law and Order, and all about bringing justice for his son, Yates, justice so far denied by the vaccine "court" autism omnibus proceeding, of which Yates was the second test case.
Rolf is an Assistant District Attorney General for the State of Tennessee, a criminal prosecutor in the aforementioned mold. Thursday at the congressional briefing leading up to the House reform committee hearings on vaccine court next month, he made clear he was not speaking in his official capacity.
But he also made clear that he has the goods on the sleazy, corrupt and in fact criminal behavior engaged in by HHS attorneys to hide the evidence that his son and so many others were vaccine-injured and now face a lifetime of the neurological catastrophe called autism.
Hazelhurst described how he virtually stumbled across two contradictory opinions by the same Johns Hopkins neurologist about whether vaccines cause autism, and how the government's lawyers deep-sixed one of them and trumpeted the other. As officers of the court, lawyers can't do that, and it really irritates Hazlehurst, to use a mild word, to see his profession pervert the course of justice.
Experts can change their minds, Hazlehurst said, but "What is wrong is for the United States government when faced with one expert with two opinions to use the opinion which is favorable and conceal the one that is not, especially when you consider that the entire purpose of this proceeding was to determine if vaccines can cause autism, and if so under what conditions.
"Well, the government's expert witness in neurology put in writing, yes, vaccines cause autism. Here's how vaccines cause autism. And the Department of Justice and HHS concealed it."
"The bottom line is that during the autism omnibus proceedings, the United States Department of Justice, representing the United States Department of Health and Human Services, willfully and intentionally concealed critical material evidence about how vaccines cause autism. ...
"Let me put that in perspective for you. If I did to a criminal, in a United States court of law, what the Department of Justice did to vaccine-injured children in the so-called vaccine court, I would be disbarred and I would be facing criminal charges."
To personalize the issue -- and believe me, this is both personal and professional in equal measure -- if Rolf did to a criminal what they did to Yates and so many others, he'd be in jail. I think the logical corollary is that they should be, too.
The wheels of Justice turn slowly, but I'm hopeful that Rolf will be allowed to tell his story at the congressional hearing next month. It needs to be heard, and he is the one to tell it.
So do the words of Mary Holland, who also spoke at the briefing, outlining the Unanswered Questions study that links vaccine court rulings and autism. Let's remember the court ruled that out of 5,000 or so cases, not a single one was triggered by vaccines, Hannah Poling notwithstanding.
We first ran this post in November of 2010. Fall is time for the flu shot push from coast to coast.
By Dan Olmsted and Mark Blaxill
Seventy-three years ago, Elizabeth Peabody Trevett, a pediatrician and pioneer in promoting mass vaccination for infants, gave birth to a boy named John who became the seventh child ever diagnosed with autism. She presumably vaccinated her baby, and perhaps herself while pregnant, with the same shots she administered to her own patients. One of those shots, the newly developed diphtheria toxoid, was the first to contain the ethyl mercury preservative, thimerosal.
Today, pediatricians and public health officials scoff at concerns that thimerosal, still used today in most flu shots recommended for all pregnant women and infants older than 6 months, could cause autism. But after researching our new book, "The Age of Autism: Mercury, Medicine, and a Man-Made Epidemic," we are much less sanguine about such an outcome.
Our conclusion: The facts of Case 7 fit with a common familial background exposure in the first cases to newly commercialized ethyl mercury compounds in agriculture and vaccines. They suggest children, then as now, are at risk from the dangerous and indefensible practice of injecting them with mercury for the stated purpose of protecting their health.
Elizabeth Peabody Trevett graduated from Johns Hopkins Medical School and won a fellowship to Harvard where she was one of seven pediatricians who pioneered the well-baby visit – at which vaccines are routinely administered. Her son John was born in November 1937. She subsequently divorced her husband, psychiatrist Laurence Trevett, and resumed using her maiden name, Peabody.
A few years later, back in Maryland, she was quoted about the importance of vaccination in an Annapolis newspaper article: “Too many parents, said Dr. Peabody, have the proper shots given and then relax, forgetting that booster shots are needed and that immunization does wear off. Speaking specifically of some of the most prevalent ailments, she stated that a child cannot be vaccinated against smallpox too often and it should be done for the first time when a baby is between three months and one year of age. In the case of diphtheria, booster shots are extremely important.”
Diphtheria was the first mass vaccine to contain thimerosal, starting in the 1930s just as the first autism cases were identified. It would have been widely available at a teaching hospital like Harvard at the time John was born.
Following her passion for public health, Elizabeth Peabody later set up a well-baby clinic in Iraq, again emphasizing the importance of vaccinating thousands of babies, and then joined the Public Health Service in Atlanta as a regional administrator for children’s health programs.
As flu season kicks into high gear this year in the United States, infants, pregnant women and nursing mothers are among the millions of Americans whom public health officials are urging with unprecedented fervor to get a flu shot. Because most flu shots contain mercury, and because the CDC has declined to express a preference for giving these groups a mercury-free version, this means millions of the most vulnerable among us are getting a significant dose of the dangerous neurotoxin – some at grocery stores and airports and retailers, some without even having to get out of their car. Tracking short-term, localized and mild adverse reactions would seem difficult, and following up on any associations with the onset of chronic or delayed outcomes like autism all but impossible.
UPDATE: Well, that was quick. Shortly after this article was posted, Columbia Journalism School withdrew their invitation, saying that after further review, "Age of Autism does take a clear position on the link between vaccines and the incidence of Autism, also engaging in advocacy on that position. Therefore we must disqualify the site from our study." The same person said, when inviting us in August: "I'm also a huge fan of The Age of Autism, how you've built and sustained an enriching and focused platform. It's a huge pleasure to invite you to join a community at Columbia University's Tow Center for Digital Journalism. ... What you're doing is part of a wave in the journalism world that the Tow Center wants to bring together and highlight as a trend." We warned them to expect to hear from critics but were told, "Thank you Dan for the head's up but we are happy to have you!" Que sera, sera.
Age of Autism is honored to announce we have been chosen as part of Columbia Journalism School's inaugural Single Subject News Network. An initiative of Columbia's Tow Center for Digital Journalism, the network "connects news websites that focus on one subject on an in-depth level, filling the gaps in mainstream media and innovating models for journalism."
On the weekend of November 9, the Tow Center "will host a series of panels amongst students, industry, and an elite class of 20 single subject news publishers selected by the program." I'll be on a panel discussing how to create community around a niche topic.
We really are in elite company with these other 19 online journalism sites, and as the network rolls out the names, and talks more about the increasing role that online, in-depth, independent journalism is playing in the evolving media universe, we'll keep you posted. This is a strong acknowledgement of the work all of us in the AOA community have done going on six years next month -- Kim and Mark, our tireless Contributing Editors, our valued commenters and faithful readers, sponsors and advertisers.
Meanwhile please do me a personal favor -- go to Facebook and Like the Single Subject News Network.
This week I was watching Morning Joe when they had a segment on a new Frontline episode and book on the NFL's concussion crisis, called League of Denial. It's fascinating and instructive to watch an issue reach critical mass and break through the media barriers that keep big institutions from being held to account. The NFL is having its moment of karma right now, with the widespread recognition that it has failed to tackle the problem and in fact done a massive end-run around it for a long time, even as the damage piled up like players falling on a goal-line fumble.
I grabbed my composition book and took some notes of comments from the two authors: "a trajectory of denial over a period of two decades" ... A pattern of "attacking the scientists" whose honest research raised warning flags ... A legal settlement admitting no culpability ... But change is coming from the bottom up: "suburban mothers aren't letting their kids play as much as they used to," and that will affect the NFL down the road ... Change is "around kids' mothers making these decisions ... If ten percent of mothers decide it's too dangerous, that's the end of football as we know it."
This all seems more than vaguely familiar, doesn't it, dear readers of Age of Autism?
Bill Gates has not been having a good week. His old Microsoft buddy Steve Balmer made a weepy hyperactive exit in a Seattle amphitheater, a tacit acknowledgment that Microsoft has pretty much lost its way and is in need of a strategic reboot.
Then some minority shareholders started agitating for Gates himself to be replaced as chairman. I have to say I forgot he was still chairman, given all the focus in recent years on the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and its massive worldwide health programs.
The implication seems to be that Gates has forgotten it, too. The Daily Beast captured the sentiment in its overline to the story about investors wanting Gates removed: "Go build a well."
If only he would. The foundation, as people familiar with the autism-vaccine battle will know, is on a massive technological mission to reduce infant mortality by a huge percentage, wipe out polio completely, and contain any number of endemic illnesses, particularly malaria. The weapon: Vaccines.
Gates points to the fact that infant deaths have declined from 12 million to 6 million a year, and the goal is to get that to one million. With vaccines. And he says polio is now endemic to only three nations -- Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Nigeria -- and can be ended like smallpox in the next few years. With vaccines. After that -- measles. With vaccines.
As Gates said in a recent interview at Harvard, what this is about is "mostly vaccines" -- billions of dollars to distribute, inject and develop billions of vaccines. The problem, in my view, is that Gates has made a huge mistake by dismissing the vaccine safety debate that centers around autism in the United States but really involves the whole rise of chronic disorders in children worldwide.
So while Gates spearheads a campaign that mostly means vaccines, vaccines, and more vaccines, kids keep getting sicker and sicker. But don't try telling Gates that. Dissonant voices are baby killers, as he framed the issue in commenting on Andy Wakefield's work.
How Gates got it so wrong is a fascinating question. He's obviously brilliant, but listening to the Harvard interview, it's also obvious that his particular kind of intelligence is not well suited to his current mission. In a sentence, Gates information-gathering style could be described as, "I love learning important things from established experts."
He waxes enthusiastic that The Great Courses is "finally" streaming their material, and talks about the meteorological offering with the enthusiasm of a Harvard freshman. He loves engaging with the brilliant minds who help decide health programs for the foundation -- why, he was in Boston to meet with some of them at the time of the September 24 interview. Life is one big Coursera series. But no, he says, his excess IQ capacity doesn't totally translate outside his own computer/math field. There's no way to catch up to the knowledge base of the experts, he says.
So, basically, he listens, and he trusts them. Why am I thinking of Steve Jobs and his "Think Different" campaign? Gates references Jobs several times in the interview and talks about how Jobs went on to develop so many other products. He sounds wistful, actually. Both men were born in 1955. Gates sounds like his own contributions, while certainly valuable in both a practical and business sense, are not that big a deal to him -- if he hadn't done it, someone else would have come along with the brains and vision to create the PC software revolution.
So he needs a second act, one in which the fortune he built is now harnessed to save the world. Maybe somebody else could have pioneered software, but THIS a legacy no one else could achieve! It's a kind of double immortality, an immunization against not living up to his own Platonic idea (see Gatsby, Jay).
Jobs had a second act after the revolution, and it made him the Edison of the Information Age. Gates' second act is his effort to save the world, but in relying too much on traditional thinking and the experts who teach him about it, he's making a hash of things. Jobs is known for saying he wanted to put "a dent in the universe." The universe is putting a dent in Bill Gates.
Adding to the pathos is that Gates' other mission, along with global health, is K-12 education in the United States. Lord knows it needs help, with American kids falling behind other countries in almost every category.
The problem -- again, from our perspective here at Age of Autism -- is that the "matter" with kids today is not just curriculum or teacher competence or federal or state spending or too much TV. It's that kids are damaged, with one in six suffering from a developmental disorder, and more than half dealing with chronic illnesses. How does this not become the central issue in preparing kids for a healthy, fulfilling, competitive life?
Most of that damage is due to the bloated CDC vaccination schedule and other wild and crazy medical interventions of our pharma-phocused, statist health care system. We're messing these kids up to the point they can't learn: Something like two in five who actually get to college can't do the work without remedial help, and SAT scores are flat for the fifth year, we learned this week. Where are the results, Bill?
Global health and American educational competitiveness are both suffering from the same root ailment, and Bill Gates is not helping at all. In fact, he's hurting his causes. That's the stuff of tragedy.
Dan Olmsted is Editor of Age of Autism.
"We're the fun part," Taylor Hawkins said at Saturday Night's benefit concert in Hollywood for Age of Autism and Generation Rescue. "But we know why we're here."
And oh, the fun part! Hawkins and his two Chevy Metal bandmates threw down a seriously jambalistic 90-minute set of 70s-ish rock at the Sayers Club. (Taylor said in a local radio interview on Thursday it's the kind of stuff that would have appealed to a meth dealer in 1974. Actually it appeals to anyone with a rock bone in their body.) Rolling Stone covered the showi n an article that ran yesterday.
Taylor is the drummer, a gig he also performs in a side group called the Foo Fighters. Actually, no! This is the side group, and the Foo are freaking world famous. But calling Chevy a side project or a cover band does nothing to capture the wild authentic energy at the heart of it all. The heart is Taylor's insane drum licks, which cause his long straight blond hair to mop his face in the manner of an Afghan hound shaking off a pesky fly.
For the encore, Taylor leapt from the drums to the main mike and wailed like a one-man Led Zeppelin. There was a whole lotta love.
And that was just on stage. People boogied In place and the Grey Goose flew, with bottles delivered with sparklers and some sort of internal illumination that made them look like lamps for library desks. But not.
All power to Candace, who pulled all this together with her GR staff after Taylor's sister in law, Tara, who has an affected child, got in touch with AOA about Taylor's offer to do an autism benefit if Tara handled the logistics.
AOA's Kim Stagliano pulled in GR, Sayers made a generous agreement with us, and the rest was a rockin' blast. Tara brought it all back home when she briefly told the crowd about the need to put "the CDC under pressure" to produce a vax-unvax study and end the autism nightmare.
You've probably seen those preternaturally cheerful ads for Walgreens with the voiceover by John Corbett about living at the corner of happy and healthy, gosh darn it, just by getting all your family health needs met there.
It being flu shot season and all, the ads have now adopted a religious fervor about getting flu shots for you and your family -- yes you, pregnant mom, and you, six-month old, and you, geriatric granddad.
Not content with shooting up with vaccine mercury all those who venture onto the premises, the company has added missionary zeal to its religious fervor. Walgreens wants you to know it has partnered with something called Shot at Life to protect children worldwide by "providing life-saving vaccines where they are needed most." Why, just by getting your flu shot at Walgreens you'll be joining with fellow sposors the United Nations, Bill and Melinda Gates and GAVI to spread these shots far and wide.
According to the company, "Now through October 14th, when you get a flu shot or any other immunization at Walgreens or Healthcare Clinic, we'll help provide a life-saving vaccine through the United Nations Foundation's Shot@Life Campaign. Together, we can supply up to three million vaccines to children who need it most. Simply come in, get a shot and give a shot."
My Rx -- simply don't come in to Walgreens for a flu shot or otherwise. Because if you do you'll be helping one way or the other to shoot up some of those 84 million kids around the world who get injected every year with thimerosal, the ethylmercury vaccine preservative that's also in most of those flu shots.
Shoot me, but I happen to believe there is strong evidence that mercury triggered the autism epidemic and helps keep it rolling merrily along. Underneath all this healthy and happy talk lies the rabid insistence by public health authorities at the CDC, the AAP and WHO that ethylmercury should never be taken out of infant vaccines! And that those of you who disagree are hysterical quack science deniers looking for sometime to blame for your child's being genetically differently-abled because in point of fact you're a little bit unusual your own weird self.
The cynically named Autism Science Foundation -- created to exclude scientific examination of the root cause of the autism epidemic, namely excessive vaccinations -- has been forced to apologize to the Devil himself.
Its Web site now says: "On a previous version of this page, the allegations contained in a lawsuit brought by Andrew Wakefield were inadvertently mischaracterized as conclusions of the court. We regret this error."
ASF factotum Alison Singer also sent Andy an e-mail this week: "As you know, we previously removed the content about which you complained. We have also posted a statement on our website apologizing for the error. We trust this brings the matter to a close. Alison"
The backstory is explained HERE. Needless to say, anything that makes Andy look bad is good for the Singer/Offit crowd. Unfortunately for them, the truth is a different matter.
And the truth is this: The bloated U.S. vaccine schedule harms kids far worse than the diseases it purports to prevent. That includes the MMR, as Andy has demonstrated.
Another bit of good news this week: Army Special Operations has finally pulled the plug on a drug the Army invented that has caused its soldiers to kill civilians -- right before they kill themselves.
The document, USASOC Mefloquine Instruction, orders its medical personnel to "immediately cease the prescribing and use" of Lariam for malaria prevention. The order cites recent changes from the FDA in the drug's product label that warn of long-term psychiatric and nerve problems. It also tells personnel to be on the lookout for such long-lasting problems, which can be mistaken for PTSD. (In other words, a significant percentage of "PTSD" is actually longterm Lariam toxicity, a manmade problem from hell if there ever was one.)
This is unalloyed good news, another day of reckoning for what retired Army Major Dr. Remington Nevin warned could be "the Agent Orange of our Generation." . But it also represents a systemic and deliberate failure by the FDA, CDC and military to respond to more than a decade of convincing evidence that the drug was doing that and much worse, including triggering homicidal behavior and suicide.
In September 2004, Mark Benjamin and I at UPI wrote an article about Special Operations soldiers titled, "Malaria drug links elite soldier suicides." It began: "A startling pattern of violence and suicide by America's most elite soldiers has followed their use of a controversial anti-malaria drug," an investigation by United Press International and CNN has found.
Based on our reporting, Sen. Dianne Feinstein said: "The Department of Defense, and all other agencies that give this drug, should immediately reassess their decision to use this drug and look for alternatives."
The death of Alex Spourdalakis is really freaking out the pharma-phunded shills, vaccine injury apologists and self-appointed advocates for themselves, who have mounted what seems like a coordinated effort to discredit Sharyl Attkisson's strong reporting on the tragedy.
What to do? Let CBS know they shouldn't listen to a half a dozen hacks who turn up like worms after a thunderstorm to try to deflect attention from the real issue -- the lack of proper medical care for children suffering -- yes, suffering -- from autism. That suffering surely includes, in many cases as in Alex's, the kind of acute GI damage that Sharyl's report showed last Friday.
You don't hear any of the shills worrying about that. Rather, they trot out the usual key words -- quack, crank, discredited, etc. -- to shut down conversation.
Maybe these geniuses could show us what a healthy gut looks like and we can compare it to Alex's.
Unlikely. Instead, these guys make it sound like the report excused Alex's death -- "his murder," as Sharyl labeled it several times -- by his mother and caregiver ("his killers," Sharyl said).
As more vaccine court cases linked to autism emerge, the CDC starts talking about vague "environmental" causes (yes, your vaccines!) and parents (wisely) pick and choose their kids' vaccine schedule, this sad, desperate effort to shut down good reporting that veers too close to the truth gets louder.
Here's how Sharyl's straightforward reporting gets twisted. During the segment, Sharyl introduces an interview with Ari Ne'eman: "He says lack of help is no excuse for murder."
Pretty clear, eh?
But over at Left Brain Right Brain, Matt Carey chose to ignore Sharyl's words and quote the accompanying CBS Web site report: "The written article states, 'But some in the autism advocacy community take issue with the idea that lack of help is an excuse for murder.'”
Not idea wording -- all, not some, in the autism advocacy community, and every decent person everywhere, takes issue with anything as an "excuse" for murder. (Probably written by an intern after watching Sharyl's segment.) But hey, it's fodder for making Sharyl look insensitive. Carey writes: "Really? Only some? And is this somehow limited to the autism community? Ms. Attkisson, what is your position? Is a lack of support an excuse for murder?"
Hey Matt, murder is illegal. Hey Ari, this comment you made to Sharyl is the definition of a straw-man argument: "I think an ideology, a dangerous ideology that preaches that people are better off dead than disabled is what led to Alex Spourdalakis' murder."
What ideology, preached by whom?
Sharyl is up for three Emmy Awards this year, including ground-breaking work on the Benghazi attack. This after her reporting on Fast and Furious that shook things up in the Justice Department. But now, on this issue alone, she's gone completely off the rails?
I don't buy it.
So call CBS at 212-975-3247 and support Sharyl. Click CBS Feedback HERE to use their message form.
Tweet @cbsnews and @cbsthismorning, and thank the Tiffany network for not bowing to pharma's special interest errand boys, and for taking not just the death, but the life of Alex Spourdalakis seriously.
Dan Olmsted is Editor of Age of Autism.
Now we know.
Now we know that Alex Spourdalakis, whose short life ended so tragically, was afflicted with the kind of GI damage characteristic of so many other children with autism.
We know because finally, after getting out of the Loyola Hospital hellhole, he was scoped by Dr. Krigsman.
We know because images from the scoping were shown yesterday on CBS. (See screen grab above of what Krigsman called "too many" tiny ulcers to count.)
The one thing we don't know is when the medical world will be held to account for this catastrophe -- not just the effects, but the cause.
Because, of course, the deepest issue is causation. I've been told that Alex's mother specifically described a reaction to the MMR shot as the cause of her son's regressive autism. To cause autism and unbearable gut damage, deny it, and fail to treat it -- well, that is quite some record for a "helping" profession. A broken record, sadly.
As much as I like Sharyl Attkisson and am glad to see this story -- first exposed by AOA Contributing Editor Lisa Goes months ago -- gain national attention, the segment devolved into a bit of a mess. Ari Ne'eman, really? He gave his usual spiel about how some people think autism is so bad its sufferers might as well be dead. So what, Ari, since you don't believe in treatment? Many people who are in agony wish they and/or someone else they believe to be in agony were dead. Some act on that wish. That's bad. Very bad. Tell us something we don't know.
Tell us how to stop it. Tell us how to treat it.
Those of us in the autism biomed community know that won't happen anytime soon, because this goes to the heart of Andy Wakefield's research, the supposedly discredited and fraudulent Lancet case study from 1998 that reported just this syndrome -- MMR, regression, gut pathology -- in 12 children. Hundreds of thousands more children have suffered the same fate since then; many, many more are destined to if things don't change.
And that's something we know for sure.
Dan Olmsted is Editor of Age of Autism.
By Dan Olmsted
When we at Age of Autism talk about ending the epidemic, the “to do” list seems almost overwhelming – funding a vax-unvaxed study, getting mercury out of flu shots, proving the HepB shot is nuts, wresting control of the agenda from pharma, fixing Vaccine Court (this time in the good sense of “fix”), establishing that biomedical treatments help kids recover, and on and on.
But there’s a shortcut to all this, and it goes straight through pediatricians’ offices. The evidence is growing that where a sane alternative to the CDC’s bloated vaccine schedule is offered, and other reasonable changes adopted, autism is either non-existent or so infrequent that it doesn’t constitute an epidemic at all.
The latest example comes from Lynchburg, Va., and the pediatric practice of Dr. Elizabeth Mumper. She noticed a frightening rise in autism in the 1990s. Concerned that vaccines and other medical interventions might be playing a role – concerned in other words that SHE was playing a role -- Mumper changed course.
Fewer vaccines. Fewer antibiotics. No Tylenol. Breast-feeding. Probiotics. Good, pesticide free diets.
Since then, hundreds more children have been seen in her practice, Advocates For Children. But no more autism.
Mumper’s study (read it here), recently published in the North American Journal of Medicine & Science, begins with a useful way of describing the epic increase in the disorder – 100-fold since 1975:
“During the author’s career, reported prevalence of autism increased from 1 in 5,000 (1975) to 1 in 2,500 (1985), to 1 in 500 (1995) to 1 in 250 (~2001) to 1 in 166 (~2004) to 1 in 88 (~2008) to 1 in 50 (2013); all reflected birth cohorts born earlier. Further research into autism prevalence studies have debunked the initial contention that higher numbers could be explained away by better diagnosis and broadening of diagnostic criteria. …
“The horrifying increase in the numbers of children with neurodevelopmental problems happened on our watch. It was frustrating for me and my colleagues to see more children with autism while the debate over whether the autism epidemic was real, whether parents could be trusted to give histories about their own children, and whether there really was a regressive sub-type of autism went on for years. There have been missed opportunities for treatment and possibly prevention.”
Mumper’s modified vaccine schedule doesn’t follow the CDC’s, but still gives kids the shots they need to enter kindergarten unless they get an exemption -- see nvic.org. Here it is (click to enlarge):
What I notice among other things is the absence of HepB starting at birth, no rotarvirus (sorry, Paul), no flu shot in pregnancy and infancy, a potent source of mercury; the MMR is pushed back to age 2 and chickenpox to as late as age 5.
I hope the homage to Bob Dylan somewhat softens the blow of calling Emily Willingham of Forbes Mag an idiot, and implicitly, Babe (cf Idiot Wind, 1974). What I really mean is, your ouevre is intellectually incoherent when it comes to autism causation, ma'am.
But that doesn't scan as well.
In Forbes Magazine (self-professed Capitalist Tool), Emily turned nasty on Anne Dachel when Anne commented on Emily's piece this week about the new study linking induced pregnancy and autism risk. Emily went after the proposed connection -- a reasonable thing to do, suggesting any number of things in pregnancy that might have caused the study's observation. Anne, also reasonably, posted this:
"And I wonder how many of these mothers got a mercury-containing flu vaccine during pregnancy. The majority of the flu vaccine available contains 25 mcg of mercury, a known neurotoxin. It easily crosses the placental barrier. That much mercury is recommended for someone weighing 550 lbs, according to EPA guidelines." -- Anne Dachel, Media editor: Age of Autism
To which Emily replied: "Yes, about that fast-and-loose play with the word “mercury.” There’s a prefix missing from your comments. I know you know that. Why do you persist in eliding it?"
Ah yes, sneakily omitting the fact that vaccine mercury is ethylmercury, nontoxic, fetus- and infant-friendly neurologically and immunologically irrelevant ETHYLmercury.
Emily links to a post by Steven Novella, kindly condescending to inform us that the kind of mercury in vaccines is the good kind -- the kind Paul Offit calls "a gentle bacteriostat, " and Arthur Allen calls "safe" (this after Allen had called the concern about it a "not-so-crackpot theory.")
Anyway, Novella says, "First, the EPA limit is for methymercury, not ethylmercury, which is the form found in Thimerosal. Methylmercury is known to be much more toxic than ethylmercury. In addition ethylmercury (half life about a week) is cleared from the body much more quickly than methylmercury (half life about 1.5 months). Further, infants excrete mercury more efficiently than adults. The EPA safety limits are based upon the more toxic form of mercury, with a 10 fold built in safety buffer in case some people are more susceptible to mercury toxicity than others."
For which I have just one word -- no, not idiotic. And not bullshit. Although both apply. No, the word is Burbacher. The University of Washington professor's peer-reviewed study shows ethylmercury goes into the brain, folks, and it stays in the brain a lot longer. It's not excreted, it's trapped in the brain, where it de-ethylates into inorganic mercury and settles in to do its damage.
The idea that ethyl and methyl are the yin and yang -- complete opposites -- of mercury is, well, idiotic. Both are members of the same organic mercury (danger! danger!) grouping: alkyl mercury (mega-danger!) As Mark Blaxill and I show in our book, The Age of Autism, their commercial development in the early part of the last century was accompanied by a healthy respect for the lethality of both.
"There are several lines of scientific evidence that raise concerns about the immediate toxicity of thimerosal," we write. "Mark Noble at the University of Rochester "demonstrated that levels of thimerosal that seem likely to be achieved in the brains of vaccinated infants can interfere with normal growth and development of precursor cells in the developing brain. Noble and his colleagues have shown that thimerosal is as effective as methylmercury in activating cellular response pathways that lead to degradation of cell sufrace receptors of critical importance in normal cell division and survival."
By Dan Olmsted and Mark Blaxill
RALEIGH, N.C. -- Our search ends here, not far from where it began.
No, says Brook Blanton, listed as the "informant" on the death certificate, she can't give us any information. Politely professional, she can't even say what seems obvious -- that as an employee of Wake County Family Services, she served as guardian ad litem for the deceased, representing the interests of a disabled adult.
So we are left with not much more than "decedent's name: William Ritchey Miller."
We do know his parents called him Ritchey. And that Leo Kanner called him "Richard M."
And we know that by whatever name, he was Case 3 in Kanner's landmark 1943 report, "Autistic Disturbances of Affective Contact."
But beyond Kanner's writing we know only what William Ritchey Miller didn't do. Under marital status on the death certificate: Never Married. Under usual occupation: Never worked. Under decedent's education: 0.
The death certificate, which we'd picked up the day before at Wake County Vital Records, gives his date of birth -- November 17, 1937. The certificate says he died on July 8, 2011, cites "multiple myeloma" as the cause, and reports he had been sick for a year. He was 73 years old.
Given the bureaucracy into which disabled children with no one to advocate for them can fall, it is frustrating but fitting that this is where the trail goes cold -- in a public agency where no one is allowed to even acknowledge his existence, surrounded by a virtual megalopolis of hospitals (Wake Med), rehab centers, nursing homes and assisted living, perhaps the nation's true growth industry. Raleigh has the fastest-growing proportion of 65 and older adults in the United States.
And autism, as the fastest growing developmental disorder in children, will eventually comprise a significant portion of such adults, many with no one to depend on at the end but a state-appointed guardian, and the kindness of strangers.
Pieced together from multiple sources culled over the past decade, here are the contours, if not the depth, of a life that deserves to be recognized, both for its own intrinsic value and for what it may tell us about the origins of the Age of Autism, and the future of the thousands now "aging out" into a life for which no one has prepared.
Kanner referred to those 11 children only by a first name and last initial, some accurate, some pseudonyms, some, like Richard M., amalgams. "Richard" arrived at the Johns Hopkins Hospital where Kanner practiced on February 5, 1941, age 3 years 3 months. His lack of ordinary responsiveness led his parents to believe he was deaf. He wasn't.
An intern made these notes: "The child seems quite intelligent, playing with the toys in his bed and being adequately curious about toys used in the examination. He seems quite self-sufficient in his play. ... He does not pay attention to conversation going on around him, and although he does make noises, he pays no attention to conversations going on around him."
Ritchey thus fit the emerging pattern Kanner was seeing for the first time -- children of at least ordinary intelligence and no visible physical abnormality who nevertheless were oblivious to the outside world, pursuing strange fixations, rigid routines and nonsense speech patterns, if they spoke at all. Most especially, they failed to form the ordinary bonds of infancy -- the "affective contact" -- that was universal to human development.
Baffled, Kanner wrote up his findings on the 11 children in 1943. By then, he had seen Richard M. twice more, with no improvement evident. "He did not communicate his wishes but went into a rage until his mother guessed and procured what he wanted. He had no contact with people, whom he definitely regarded as an interference when they talked to him or otherwise tried to gain his attention.
"The mother felt she was no longer capable of handling him, and he was placed in a foster home near Annapolis with a woman who had shown a remarkable talent for dealing with difficult children. Recently, this woman clearly heard him say his first intelligible words. They were, ‘Good night.’”
Times One: Nice to see a positive review in The New York Times of The United States of Autism, which I favorably reviewed a few weeks back. In the great minds think alike category, I wrote this:
" At one level, it's like a bunch of Love It or List It episodes on HGTV jammed together: Host and (unseen) camera crew arrive at the door, family greets them, they go inside and chitchat for a few seconds about their difficult circumstances." I went on to point out that at a deeper level, the quick-cut technique was highly effective.
The Times wrote: "But all should be prepared to forgive the fakey vibe of an HGTV fix-up show, with the happy-faced Mr. Everts being greeted with cheery bonhomie at stop after stop."
The Times didn't like the part where Richard Everts connected with a family member (no spoilers here!). I did. On the other hand, the photo the Times used illustrated what I called my favorite moment in the movie, when a typical sibling who can't really express himself causes Everts to shake with laughter.
The bigger point is the Times reviewed the movie because it opens Friday in Manhattan. Showings there and in LA are prerequisites for Oscar consideration, which this film deserves.
Times Two: Also nice to see an op-ed piece in the same paper this week about Lariam, also called mefloquine, by a man who took it in India and completely lost his memory overnight. "Last week," wrote David Stuart MacLean, "the Food and Drug Administration finally acknowledged the severity of the neurological and psychiatric side effects and required that mefloquine’s label carry a 'black box' warning of them. But this is too little, too late."
He's right about that. The bigger issue is the sentencing hearing this month for the Army sergeant who killed 16 Afghan civilians, apparently while taking the drug. As I've been reporting for more than a decade, the Army, which invented the drug, has been derelict in facing up to its atrocious side affects, which include psychosis, suicide, and homicidal violence. A nice combo when mixed with guns.
Just this week the military put out another worthless report on its exploding suicide rate. As Kelly Patricia O'Meara wrote online, the report is "utter garbage and a complete insult to the men and women of our armed forces," largely because it avoids alltogether the role of prescription drugs in triggering suicides.
"Literally thousands of news articles have been written questioning the connection between the military suicides and increased number of psychiatric drugs being prescribed and 'researchers,' using taxpayer funds, do not even consider it as a possible risk factor? Shameful." And Lariam is not even a psychiatric drug. What mayhem are all the others causing, and how will we ever find out if they won't even acknowledge the damage so clearly wrought by Lariam?
Lariam and the military's broader problem with its pill-popping culture is a parallel situation to the vaccine-autism saga -- an FDA approved, CDC-recommended catastrophe and coverup. I wonder if any of the "skeptic" crowd ever wonders how I could have been right about Lariam but, in their opinion, so very, very wrong about vaccines. I hope it gives them nightmares.
A few weeks back I wrote that Temple Grandin ought to stick to her subject-matter expertise, this after she said on MSNBC that the big increase in autism was "because the definition of autism over the decade has expanded." No, it's not. She also told the aforementioned NYT that if any vaccine has anything to do with autism, it's the MMR.
No, it's not. Clearly the MMR has triggered autism in a lot of kids, but the best evidence is that most of those kids have been set up by immune-damaging triggers, in most cases -- in my view -- earlier vaccines, and especially ones containing thimerosal. There has never, to my understanding, been a standalone MMR autism epidemic, but there sure has been a vaccine-fueled autism epidemic.
Now Grandin's mother, Eustacia Cutler, has wandered well outside her wheelhouse by writing in the Daily Beast that autistic men have an affinity for online child pornography. I read the piece and, wearing my journalism hat, was struck that an editor let it through -- not because of the sensitive subject matter, but because there was not a single case-in-point mentioned.
Note: Previous posts in the Protocol 007 series include:
Protocol 007: Merck Denies Fraud, But Feds Seek New Mumps Vaccine as Cases Spread
Protocol 007: Feds Urge Judge Not to Dismiss Mumps Vaccine Suit
“Protocol 007”: Merck Scientists Accuse Company of Mumps Vaccine Fraud that Endangers Public Health
By Dan Olmsted and Mark Blaxill
Scrawled on a single sheet of paper, an FDA inspection form appears to back whistleblower allegations that pharmaceutical giant Merck committed fraud to convince the government its mumps vaccine still works.
The bigger question appears to be: Why didn’t the FDA do anything about it?
The document below, obtained by Age of Autism under a Freedom of Information Act request, is dated August 6, 2001. The FDA inspector who showed up that day at Merck’s vaccine laboratory in West Point, Pennsylvania, noted “raw data is being changed with no justifications.”
“Spreadsheets used to determine questionable results and retesting clinical samples for [redacted] has not been validated,” the inspector adds.
Faking data to hide the real lab results is at the heart of the claim by two former Merck scientists, who filed suit under the federal whistleblower statute. Virologists Stephen A. Krahling and Joan A. Wlochowski say they witnessed the fraud firsthand when they worked at the Merck vaccine laboratory in West Point between 1999 and 2002, and were pressured to participate.
Ironically, the fact the FDA investigated after Krahling triggered the inspection is being cited by the drugmaker in its effort to dismiss the suit.
“They [the whistleblowers] are asking the court to muscle the FDA out of the way and decide on the science,” Merck attorney Eric Sitarchuk told a federal judge last week, according to a report by Law360. “It's precisely that problem that's why [a whistleblower] case can't be based on the alleged falsity of a label” describing the safety and efficacy of the vaccine.
The suit was unsealed in federal district court in Philadelphia last summer, soon after the Justice Department, which had been studying the allegations for more than a year, declined to intervene on the whistleblowers’ side. As we reported then, the alleged fraud was a multi-year effort to hide the fact that the mumps vaccine is no longer anywhere near as effective as Merck claims and may have led to scattered mumps outbreaks around the country.
The fraud was dubbed Protocol 007 and widely known and approved within the company’s vaccine division, according to Krahling and Wlochowski.
In federal court last week, a lawyer for the whistleblowers argued that Merck’s deception meant the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention spent hundreds of millions in taxpayer dollars on a vaccine that didn’t work as promised. The mumps vaccine is a component of Merck’s MMR-II – mumps, measles and rubella – shot. It is the only mumps vaccine currently available in the United States.
By Dan Olmsted
The death of my treasured colleague Helen Thomas last week reminded me of her very useful comment that if you want to be loved, don’t go into journalism.
Not that I needed much reminding. Recently I’ve read that “lying is in Dan’s nature” (I read that on Age of Autism, because I published it), that I’m “a pimp,” that my correspondent “never would have thought a ‘Buddhist’ capable of such vile bullying tactics,” and that AOA’s “articles never embrace the real issues. Ever.”
And these are my friends! From the other camp, I’ve learned that AOA is a “wretched hive of scum, anti-vaccinationism, and autism ‘biomed’ quackery.” And that I am Number 306 in the Encyclopedia of American Loons, because “Although real experts think autism is a genetic disorder and that reported increases are due to changes in diagnostic practices, Olmsted thinks (well, because he thinks so) the (probably non-existent) increases are due to environmental factors and that the genetics is mostly secondary. He has been described as a serious case of confirmation bias.”
And that I am a “Moonie blogger.” And that Mark Blaxill “can tell Dan Olmstead [sic] how many breaths he can take per minute” because he is shoveling money at me at an astounding rate. And that I made my name, such as it is, when I “wrote a series about a discredited hypothesis linking vaccination to autism.”
And that my Amish reporting is a “fraud,” and my work “a steaming, stinking pile of rotting feces.”
Earlier this year, a supposed “friendly” named Barry Segal added a minor note to this symphony of opprobrium, telling me and several others, “You guys are out for personal gain, devious and won’t accomplish anything.”
At least I was in distinguished company. Among those whom Barry labeled as “out for personal gain,” devious, and unable to accomplish anything: Mary Holland, Lou Conte, Kim Mack Rosenberg, Kim Stagliano, John Gilmore. “P.S.,” he added as he pulled back funding he had promised in writing, “I had a great dinner with Jake Crosby after the hearings.”
You really know how to hurt a guy, Barry.
Now, Barry is one of those people who thinks the autism advocacy community is a bunch of bumblers that either can’t or won’t make the fact that vaccines cause autism the core belief of every politician and public health official and journalist in the land. Today. The person who called me a Buddhist bully is one of his best buds and attacks relentlessly if anyone forgets to say “vaccines cause autism” once per every three words.
He already had excommunicated Katie Wright for not being tough enough, showing an exquisite lack of comprehension by copying his and her e-mails without authorization to, among other stray addressees, The New York Times – yes, The New York Times.
Barry thinks raising money for Andy Wakefield’s defamation suit is throwing good money after bad. And he says he doesn’t know which side Robert Kennedy Jr. is on.
Bobby Kennedy might really be on the other side -- now that is rad, dude! It takes some fresh out-of-the-box thinking to come up with that one, the kind of new idea we've all needed for a long time now.
Barry elaborated on his Kennedy critique in a comment on Age of Autism: “He’s worse than his uncles; one took advantage of an 18 years old (virgin) intern and the other got drunk and drove his car into the river. His grandfather was no angel.” (What is it with the sexography?)
IN DEFENSE OF JENNY: Nice to see that Jenny McCarthy may land a spot on The View. Not so nice to see the same slithering "Science Says Vaccines Are Safe" crowd from Salon, Slate, Discover, etc., emerge from their respective rocks to attack her. As I've said many times, based on my own reporting, it is quite clear that vaccines are the driver of the autism epidemic. As I've also said, it's not just vaccines, it's not just mercury, and it's not just autism. Go Jenny!
GROUND CONTROL TO VICP: Have you noticed how quickly, thoroughly, openly, and fearlessly the investigation into the crash-landing in San Francisco has proceeded? Amazing what a zero-defects approach to consumer safety will do. Can you imagine the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program opening its files, fast-tracking injury claims, funding or backing studies like vax-no vax?
HYSTERICAL: In our book The Age of Autism -- Mercury, Medicine, and a Man-made Epidemic, Mark Blaxill and I propose, apparently for the first time, that many of Freud's seminal case studies around 1900 were not suffering from neurosis or OCD brought on by emotional trauma. Instead, they were mercury poisoned by exposure to medical compounds.
You can read all about it in Chapter 2. While this may seem like ancient history, it actually points to a fundamental misdirection by psychiatry, which built its rickety psychodynamic edifice on a misdiagnosis of toxic exposure. When autism, triggered by the commercialization of ethylmercury, was first reported in 1943, the intellectual conditions were ripe to mistake it for parental coldness and neglect. This rest is history -- actually, tragedy, tragedy that keeps repeating itself. (See Chapters 5 and 6. See DSM-V. See Tom Insel and the IACC)
Parents are still getting the blame, sometimes in whisper campaigns ("they must be unhinged, hysterical to keep blaming vaccines") and more often in bogus genetic theories that place the blame inside the family circle, rather than outside in iatrogenic and environmental triggers that can be prevented and treated.
Just this week, a book review in The New York Times began this way:
"Freud’s famous case studies, like Dora, the Wolf Man, Little Hans and the Rat Man, are psychoanalytic readings, suspenseful detective stories and elliptical narratives that have all the drama and contradictions of modernist fiction. Not only is Freud a powerful writer, but his methodology and insights also have a lot in common with literary criticism and novelistic architecture. His patient portraits showcase his skills both as a critic, intent on deconstructing his subjects’ lives, and as a masterly storyteller, adept at using unreliable narrators to explore the mysteries of love and sex and death. It’s no coincidence that he liked to write about characters from Shakespeare, Goethe, Ibsen and Sophocles (yes, Oedipus), or that he paid so much attention to the language and imagery employed by his patients."
Well, yes, it does read a lot like fiction, because it is. Take Dora -- her supposed psychogenic troubles were actually physical and mental symptoms of mercury exposure from her father's treatment for syphilis, we argue. She acted as his home nurse. The Wolf Man, we discovered, told an interviewer all about how mercury as a stomach treatment had destroyed his bowels; Freud seems to have ignored or missed that glaring clue, and claimed it was a symptom of hysteria. Little Hans -- worm treatment. The Rat Man -- a father with syphilis.
They're getting away with it again.
The U.S. military is ignoring documented evidence that links a violence-inducing prescription drug with the worst American war crime in decades -- the massacre last year of 16 Afghan civilians by Army Sgt. Robert Bales.
The Army invented the drug, called Lariam or mefloquine, and has consistently avoided reckoning with the consequences, including a string of bizarre murder-suicides stretching back more than a decade.
haven't said whether Bales took Lariam, but I've just obtained
a formal report filed by the drug company with the Food and Drug Administration that says he
did -- the first direct evidence U.S. officials have been aware of the
prospect, and for more than a year. (See event/problem narrative below.)
I got the report from Dr. Remington Nevin, a former Army officer who has studied the drug and published peer-reviewed articles about its dangers. In fact, Nevin and former Army psychiatrist Elspeth Cameron Ritchie just published last month in the Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatric and the Law Online, noting the "potent psychotropic potential" of the drug. "Severe psychiatric side effects due to mefloquine intoxication are well documented," they wrote, "including anxiety, panic attacks, paranoia, persecutory delusions, dissociative psychosis, and anterograde amnesia. Exposure to the drug has been associated with acts of violence and suicide."
Nevin told Congress last year it could become "the Agent Orange of our generation." The alarm apparently fell on deaf ears.
"It remains possible this report was submitted by someone without first-hand knowledge," Nevin told me about the newly disclosed FDA report. "However, by any reasonable standard, the fact that this report clearly alludes to a case that can only be Bales' calls for greater transparency by DoD as to whether he was in fact taking the drug."
Last month, Time magazine wrote about a similar report filed with the Irish drug agency, which refers to the incident as "medically confirmed." Time called that report a "smoking pillbox."
The document reproduced here today is specific about the source -- it says the information came from a pharmacist. The report does not name Bales, but the killing of 17 [later reduced to 16] Afghanis would seem to rule out anyone else. It is hard to see how someone at the FDA could have failed to bring it to the attention of the military, or how the military in its exhaustive criminal investigation of the case could have failed to learn what drugs it had prescribed to Bales.
The Army allowed Bales to plead guilty to the rampage last month and avoid the death penalty. A sentencing trial is scheduled for next month on whether he should receive life in prison with or without parole.
At the time, I wrote a piece asking, "What is the death penalty for?" and wondering why it would have been taken off the table by allowing a plea deal, in the face of deep anger from of Afghan allies. I speculated the Army might want to avoid an unpleasant discussion of its own drug, in return for sparing Bales' life.
At the plea hearing, Bales acknowledged using steroids, and there were also reports of drinking alcohol and snorting Valium. If he took Lariam, however, it could create a classic "but for" defense -- but for the drug the Army prescribed him, it's reasonable to argue the murder would not have occurred.
The revolution now occurring in how journalism is done, and who is doing it, gives hope that the wall of denial about vaccine injury will crumble sooner rather than later.
Here's why: The top-down journalism hierarchy has a natural affinity for the top-down public health hierarchy, and every other hierarchy that makes Big Journalism feel smug and important and wealthy. That was on display in spades last Sunday on Meet the Press, where David Gregory thought it was just fine to ask Glenn Greenwald of The Guardian whether he ought to be arrested for helping Edward Snowden tell the NAA's secrets while avoiding Bradley Manning's fate of being tortured in the U.S. Military Justice System.
Don't be bitter, David.
"To the extent that you have aided and abetted Snowden, even in his current movements, why shouldn't you, Mr. Greenwald, be charged with a crime?" Gregory asked. Greenwald replied it was "pretty extraordinary that anybody who would call themselves a journalist would publicly muse about whether or not other journalists should be charged with felonies."
Not so extraordinary, really. Gregory and company love the perks of all-access journalism, as in this classic moment when Gregory and Karl Rove danced around each other at a Washington correspondents' dinner in 2007, dancing "while Iraq burns," as this disrespectful site captioned it.
Why shouldn't you, Mr. Gregory, be ashamed for cozying up to the folks who led us into a stupid war? Not a question David Gregory is going to even dance around -- he's on record saying what a good job he and other journalists did in the runup to the Iraq war. Yikes.
When it comes to vaccines, autism, and this unprecedented generation of sick kids, what you see is a similar attempt to suppress the bottom-up reality of first-hand observation and unpleasant information in general. A recent study that found the HPV vaccine effective was reported in the press without, as far as I can tell, anyone noting that the vaccine has just been suspended in Japan. Too many girls are describing long-lasting pain after the shot, a tipoff to the neurological and immune damage that the mainstream press is never going to report. But it's only happening when the same vaccine is given in Japan, apparently.
Some of you know that I wandered into the autism world through my reporting on an anti-malaria drug called Lariam that was causing some really hard-core symptoms, such as psychosis, suicide, and even aggressive behavior up to and including homicide. Quite an adverse-events roster, especially given that when I first started reporting on it back in 1999, it was the CDC's first-choice anti-malarial, and the agency said that reports of such side effects were overblown, unlikely -- even patently false.
Just "traveler's psychosis," sniffed the malaria surveillance officer at the CDC.
Meanwhile, elite soldiers coming back from Afghanistan committed murder-suicides, Peace Corps volunteers ended up in long-term psych wards, and random travelers came back from nice trips to Africa and blew their brains out. Association is not causation, the experts opined. "People with Internet mystique" who didn't know what they were talking about, the Army Surgeon General warned Congress about those sounding the alarm. (Sound familiar?)
But it was clearly happening. This denialism led me directly to another question: If the CDC, the FDA and the drug company could stand foursquare behind such a toxic substance, what about vaccines and autism -- a question first raised by my reporting partner at the time, Mark Benjamin, in a 2003 investigative report that I edited. Mark went on to do distinguished work on several other subjects. I got stuck on this question of whether vaccines and the autism epidemic were related -- which, I've concluded based on my own reporting, they were. And are.
But back to Lariam, known generically as mefloquine. Over the years, the CDC has dialed back on recommending it; the FDA has ratcheted up the warnings, which now do mention suicide and say that effects can last "long after" someone stops taking it (FDA speak for, "forever"); the manufacturer, Roche pharmaceuticals, has stopped selling it in the United States (along with its equally suicide-inducing anti-acne medicine, Accutane), and the Army no longer pushes it on every soldier it deploys to malarial hot zones, like Afghanistan.
But it's still an approved prescription drug, and it still is prescribed thousands of times a year, and the Army -- which invented it -- can't bear to actually ban its use, which, given the toxic brew of guns, PTSD, and violence into which it is introduced, is truly wild.
This long-running record of delay and denial has now run
smack into its karmic brick wall, it appears -- a soldier who committed the
worst atrocity (on our side) in the war on terror. Time mag reported this week
that Sgt. Robert Bales, who just pleaded guilty to slaughtering 17 Afghan
civilians in 2012, including women and children, and set some of them on fire,
may have been taking mefloquine. It's something a lot of us who know what this
drug can do have been speculating about for quite some time.
The Kill Pill: Murder, Madness, and the Army's Mefloquine Cover-up
Time cites a document filed with the drugmaker and
forwarded to the FDA. While it's not clear who filed it, the reference to a
homicide of 16 civilians (the first press accounts used that figure) could only
be referring to Bales' rampage, and the use of the term "medically
confirmed" suggests Roche was satisfied that Bales was taking it. As Time
points out, the Army has yet to say whether he took it or not -- suspicious in
itself -- and it is now past time for the military to come clean. Here's a
portion of the report on file with the FDA: (Click photo to enlarge.)
It's a fool's errand to try to determine the real autism rate these days, especially tracking it over time. But a couple of "soft signals" from California make me question the idea that severe or "full syndrome" autism is still soaring on the same trajectory we saw in the 1990s.
The latest CDC figure -- convenient for the memory-challenged like me -- is 1 in 88, from 2008, among children age 8, born in 2000. Handy, yes, but it's 2013, for crying out loud.
Nobody argues there is still plenty of autism abroad in the land, but nobody, I would argue, truly knows the rate, the trend, or the relative level of severity right this very minute beyond a basic order of magnitude and the fact it is catastrophic. As our book (The Age of Autism -- Mercury, Medicine, and a Man-made Epidemic) shows, the CDC is fully capable of manipulating the true increase into or out of existence (see Brick Township, New Jersey).
And nobody can seriously argue that thimerosal -- the kind of organic mercury in multidose vials -- was out of vaccines by the year 2000. It could have been, if the feds had yanked it when they announced their concern and went ducking for cover in July 1999. Instead, they asked manufacturers to implement a gradual phaseout -- and even spurned pharma offers to go directly to mercury-free shots in some cases.
Meanwhile, mercury is still in millions of flu shots now given to all pregnant women and all infants over six months of age.
As we also know, there is a world of difference between full-syndrome autism -- mute, self-injurious and sometimes dangerous children who will never be independent or, most likely, employable -- and Asperger's, with PDD-NOS occupying a middle ground of still-severe injury. The CDC likes to conflate all these categories, and new DSM-V further muddles the issue. But severity on the spectrum does matter, and a great deal, however it is gradated and defined.
So the idea that since mercury was "removed" from vaccines in 1999, "we all know" that the rate of severe autism rate has kept rising -- well, we all don't know that. At least I don't.
My guard started dropping partway through the amazing opening credit sequence. I leaned over to Cat and whispered, "That's $50,000 worth of animation right there."
Well, it could have been, but as I learned later, the director and executive producer, Richard Everts, sat down and taught himself to do it after an a professional wanted a couple of thousand dollars for just the first few seconds. I learned that from Richard's wife, Sugey Cruz-Everts, also an executive producer, who attended the screening in Arlington, Va.
But on to the film itself. The gimmick is some guy taking reluctant leave of his wife and son and running around the country for 40 days, dropping in on lots of families with autism and a few experts, interacting, popping questions, shaking hands, hugging, and heading on down the road. At one level, it's like a bunch of Love It or List It episodes on HGTV jammed together: Host and (unseen) camera crew arrive at the door, family greets them, they go inside and chitchat for a few seconds about their difficult circumstances (two kids in one bedroom, etc., if we're talking HGTV). Once over lightly, but from a darker place.
Well, it could have been, if not for the guy they chose to do all that running around -- Everts himself. His interactions with the families don't have to be long and wordy because they are honest, human, and beautifully constructed -- and because Everts avoids the traps of this kind of filmmaking -- insipid narration, icky empathy, lingering fadeouts, tears for the sake of tears.
What you get instead are vivid glimpses of high-functioning kids and adults, full-syndrome kids who do or don't respond to various treatments, siblings who are coping or not (the one who really, really wants her sister to stop talking about "dictators" all the time is priceless), tales of bullying and acceptance and all the rest (including the stunning comment from a Muslim mom that a bystander compared her son to a terrorist during a meltdown).
You have to admire the sheer energy and intelligence that shines through -- not just the geographic pace, but the smart decision to whack the daylights out of just about every interview and leave the nubbin, whether it's two or three minutes or two or three sentences.
At one point, Everts arrives in New York City to interview Ezra Susser of the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University. Setting up the interview, driving into New York, getting into the building, setting up the camera, making smalltalk, doing the interview, then doing it all in reverse ... that's a lot of work (and money) for only a minute or so of film.
But it's quite a minute. Here is a guy with gravitas saying that you might be able to discount half of the increase in autism due to better diagnosis, etc., but you're left with a fivefold increase. Fivefold! I might pick at that number, but it's a great thing to get on film and a great person to get it from. You don't have to go on about the epidemic after that; you just know that the people you're meeting in this film had no comparison just a couple of decades ago. Enough said, so to speak.
Does everyone have nine minutes to spare to stop the autism epidemic? I am counting on it.
Last weekend, we debuted a nine minute (ok, nine minute and eight second) video at Autism One. We also ran it at the top of our site, in a banner above our logo (where it still resides), and in a note From the Editor.
Well, here we go again. Nothing we've accomplished takes precedence over the evidence we've dug up about the 11 cases of autism reported by Leo Kanner in 1943. I see sharing this evidence as an urgent moral imperative, and I'll risk being redundant or looking naive in order to do it.
So if I can call in one favor after 10 years of chasing the autism story, this is it -- help us spread this video!
In my last Age of Autism column before being laid off at UPI in 2007, titled The Last Word, I singled out four areas I had reported on, including the fact that the mainstream press coverage of autism stunk bigtime, that the MMRV looked even more dangerous than the MMR, and that some less vaccinated folks like the Amish appeared to have less autism and hence a vax-unvax study would be worth doing.
"The Age of Autism columns that may mean the most over time (IMHO, of course) are about the first cases of autism," I wrote then, noting that Mark Blaxill and I had uncovered several to that point.
Now, in partnership with Teresa Conrick, we're up to eight out of 11 and still on the case every day, because each one we find strengthens the case that ethylmercury -- first used in seed and lumber treatments and, yes, vaccines -- triggered the Age of Autism.
Public health officials and pediatricians, as you know, say no. It's safe as mother's milk. It's the nice mercury, mercury lite, E-Z Xcrete mercury, the "gentle bacteriostat," as Paul Offit calls it. They go right on injecting thimerosal into 84 million children worldwide every year -- their proud figure, not mine -- even as they claim it was "taken out" of childhood vaccines in the U.S. but the autism rate keeps rising.
This is Orwellian. First, the latest apples-to-apples CDC figures on autism are for children born in 2000. Second, it's not out, not by a long shot. Here's how Reuters drinks the Kool-aid: "With the exception of some types of flu shots, the compound is not used in vaccines in the United States, which are distributed in single-dose vials."
In other words, with the exception of flu shots now recommended for every pregnant woman and all four million babies born in the United States every year, the compound is not used in vaccines in the United States.
By Dan Olmsted and Mark Blaxill
Scattered mumps outbreaks – possibly underreported by the CDC – are reinforcing longstanding concern that Merck’s mumps vaccine is failing far more often than it should.
The outbreaks come as Merck defends itself in federal court against a whistleblower lawsuit filed last year claiming it faked data to mask the low efficacy of the mumps component of its MMRII vaccine. Within the company, according to the suit, the effort was known as Protocol 007.
In a filing earlier this year, Merck denied wrongdoing and said it stands by its claim that the vaccine is 96 percent effective. It asked the judge to dismiss the claim and pointedly noted that U.S. Justice Department officials have so far not joined on the whistleblower's behalf -- a move that often spells the difference in court.
But the government seems anxious despite Merck’s reassurances – just as the whistleblower suit was unsealed, Age of Autism has learned, health officials awarded almost $2 million to a research team at the University of Georgia. The goal: Find a much better mumps vaccine, in a hurry. “The fact that outbreaks had occurred in populations with over 95% coverage of two-dose [mumps] vaccine strongly suggests that the current vaccine is not effective,” according to project information filed by Biao He, a researcher at the University of Georgia who received the $1.8 million grant.
According to a recent filing by the whistleblowers: "The government has not joined in Merck's current motion [to dismiss the case] and has made no decision on the current Complaint. Instead, it has taken a 'wait and see' approach requesting that it be served with all pleadings, motions and court orders in this case, and that its consent be obtained before the case is settled, dismissed or discontinued.
"While the Department of Justice has chosen to sit on the sidelines of this case for now, both the FDA and its sister agency, the National Institute of Health, have since the complaint was filed begun to take steps to address the failure of Merck's mumps vaccine. The FDA has initiated its own study to determine the vaccine's efficacy, acknowledging that the recent mumps outbreak 'indicat[es] lower vaccine efficacy than previously estimated.' The NIH has gone even further. It is funding the University of Georgia to develop a new mumps vaccine because the recent outbreaks 'strongly suggest that the current vaccine is not effective.'"
Merck continues to state that its mumps vaccine is highly effective, as shown in this ad filed with the court by the whistleblowers; it claims 96 percent efficacy for the mumps portion of the MMRII -- in other words, 96 out of 100 people who get the shot are protected from the mumps virus:
Last weekend I had the good fortune to attend two talks by Andy Wakefield a stone's throw from my home in Northern Virginia. One, a fund-raiser, included talks by David Lewis and Patrick Tierney, two friends of our community who know a thing or two about the suppression of unpleasant science.
The other was a public event, at which Josie Nelson and Louise Kuo Habakus also spoke. Louise has the most polished, impressive presentation of how to take responsibility for your own vaccine choices that I've ever heard. I hope she is called on to share it far and wide (and I'm reminded why AOA named her Person of the Year a few years back).
There were a couple of families in the crowd with adorable infants, and if anyone could help them understand the issues, it was Louise.
Andy updated everyone on his defamation suit against Brian Deer and the BMJ, which now awaits a jurisdictional appeal in Texas. One thing Andy said that really struck me: The autism rate is now 1 in 25. It's happening, it's set in stone, nothing will change it in this cohort of kids.
He didn't elaborate, but he didn't really need to. At the rate of increase, how could it not hit 1 in 25? Only the manipulations of the DSM and the CDC will change it, absent a clear-eyed look at the real cause. (Speaking of which, how about Rep. Posey's speech? He is going to be a must-see at Autism One.)
One in 25 -- that's a rate of one autistic child in every homeroom. Just like the old days.
Josie Nelson gave a wonderful intro, a ringing defense of free speech and independent thinking when it comes to vaccine safety. I asked her to share it with me so I could share it with you:
"Last fall, I said to Brooke Potthast and a room of about…oh twelve other people…that one of my goals for 2013 was to help create an educational event around vaccine exemption rights for our local community. I don’t think any of us imagined we’d be standing with Louise Habakus and Dr. Andrew Wakefield just a few short months later. What a treat!
"And why, might you ask, would any sane person choose to talk about this subject in the first place? While increasing numbers of parents, scientists, and health practitioners have questions about the size of the CDC recommended vaccine schedule, the signs and symptoms of vaccine injury, and conflicts of interest in the vaccine industry, to be curious about these issues is an easy route to hearing oneself labeled: threat to public health, unscientific, emotional, and even anti-vaccine. As a consequence, conversations about this important topic tend to take place with pointed fingers and with raised voices, or behind closed doors and in hushed tones; and sometimes, sadly, they don’t take place at all.
By Teresa Conrick, Dan Olmsted and Mark Blaxill
We found her.
Eight years after setting out to identify the 11 children in the first medical report of autism, we have found “Virginia S.”, the eldest child in that landmark paper -- and thus the first-born child of the Age of Autism.
Her real name: Vivian Ann Murdock. Born in 1931, Vivian was placed in a Maryland institution at age 6 and died in a state-run home in 1987, age 56. She was the daughter of a prominent Baltimore psychiatrist, Harry M. Murdock, and his wife, Margaret.
The key to finding her real name was the recent online publication of the 1940 U.S. Census – allowing one of us (Teresa) to test her hunch about the institution to which"Virginia" had been committed as a child: The Rosewood School in Owings Mills. The hunch was correct; the Census listed an "Inmate" there named Vivian Murdock, age 8 in 1940, who we conclusively identified as "Virginia S."
In Dan and Mark's The Age of Autism – Mercury, Medicine, and a Man-made Epidemic, published in 2010, we described the seven children we'd identified to that point, and wrote of “Virginia”: “We continue to search for this eldest child of the Age of Autism and whatever clues her identity may hold.”
Now, having spoken with family members, and pored over countless records and archives, we believe her identity does offer important clues, ones remarkably consistent with the other cases in that first report -- exposure to new mercury compounds in their families.
Vivian was directly in the path of at least three mercury vectors:
-- the first use of mercury-preserved vaccines in Baltimore -- a drive to vaccinate every infant with those shots began the month she was born;
-- her parents' avocation of orchid growing and breeding, which required intensive application of chemicals including mercury;
-- and her father’s psychiatric career, which brought him – and probably his family through second-hand exposure – in contact with mercury treatments for a common form of insanity.
Mercury is no longer used in agriculture or mental health treatment. But each year, 100 million children worldwide get vaccines containing thimerosal, the ethylmercury preservative first used in those shots in Baltimore. In the United States, flu shots, most of which contain mercury, are recommended for pregnant women and for infants beginning at 6 months of age.
Our research on Vivian and the other first cases of autism suggests that is a very bad idea.
Vivian’s identity also offers insight into how the damaging idea of “refrigerator parents” – supposedly cold and neglectful mothers and fathers responsible for causing their children's disorder -- got its start. We will explain these clues and conclusions in detail, but first the basics about the discovery of Vivian Murdock.
Seventy years ago this month, in April 1943, a psychiatry journal called The Nervous Child published an article titled “Autistic Disturbances of Affective Contact.” Written by Leo Kanner, a Johns Hopkins child psychiatrist who is widely considered the founder of the field, it begins:
“SINCE 1938, there have come to our attention a number of children whose condition differs so markedly and uniquely from anything reported so far, that each case merits -- and, I hope, will eventually receive -- a detailed consideration of its fascinating peculiarities.” Elsewhere, he called it "a behavior pattern not known to me or anyone else theretofore."
The three of us have always found those words remarkable, coming as they did from an acknowledged authority who eight years earlier had catalogued every known childhood mental disability in his landmark 500-page book “Child Psychiatry.” Those pages contained not a whisper of autism, or anything that in retrospect looks similar.
Our own research convinced us the autism rate before 1930 was effectively zero (it is now 1 in 50). A handful of cases over several centuries might conceivably qualify, but there was nothing approaching the cluster of children whose worried parents brought them to see Leo Kanner in the years between 1938 and 1943.
Curious whether the family backgrounds of those first 11 cases might point to common environmental exposures, we began trying to identify them in 2005. The eight boys and three girls were described in the paper only by a first name and last initial. But because Kanner gave birth years for each child, we knew that “Virginia S.” was the oldest; her birthday was listed as September 13, 1931. Even as the number of autistic children seen by Kanner rose in later years, none appears to have been born earlier. (In a 1955 update, Kanner revisited his first 42 cases. The oldest autistic person at that point was 24 -- born in 1931 and presumably Virginia S.)
We began our hunt with Kanner’s original 1943 "Autistic Disturbances" report and a follow-up paper he wrote in 1971. (In the latter paper, he slipped once and referred to “Virginia S.” by what we now know is her real first name, Vivian.) In “Autistic Disturbances,” he quoted a psychologist noting that Virginia “could respond to sounds, the calling of her name, and the command, ‘Look!’
“She pays no attention to what is said to her,” the psychologist said, “but quickly comprehends whatever is expected. Her performance reflects discrimination, care, and precision. … She is quiet, solemn, composed. Not once have I seen her smile. She retires within herself, segregating herself from others. She seems to be in a world of her own …”