View Full Version : David and Goliath (ame-a187)

June 10th, 2005, 10:02 AM
<TABLE ><TR><TD><FONT size=2>Possible bit of dirt on Stephen Lewis....<BR><BR>******<BR><BR>??U of C Thought Police: Round Four ? <BR><BR>by RFD Columnist, David Crowe <BR>http://www.redflagsdaily.com<BR><BR>I still, naively, believe that universities are places for open discussion of ideas, even if those discussions might sometimes be heated or impolite. I am learning that even polite and peaceful discussion of AIDS at my institution of higher learning, the University of Calgary, is only allowed when pre-approved by the university. Even worse, on June 5, 2005 a precedent was set. Those, like me, who insist on talking out of turn will be evicted from the campus and threatened with arrest. <BR><BR>Round 1: Uninvited<BR><BR>My first experience with thought control on the campus of the University of Calgary occurred when I was accidentally invited to take part in an AIDS? panel as part of the alternative G6B conference (negligence?? on the part of an organizer who didn?t find out about my opinions and run them through the thought-meter first). When they discovered that I questioned the association of HIV and AIDS, I was first asked to leave by the man who invited me. When I refused, I was informed that they didn?t want to take the time to discuss basic science, they wanted to discuss issues of drug delivery and other more important things. Finally my concerns over issues such as the toxicity of antiretroviral drugs were excluded from the HIV/AIDS portion of the alternative conference report. Ironically, the powerful nations of the G8 recommended the same thing as the alternative G6B conference: more money for AIDS drugs. <BR><BR>Round 2: Intimidation<BR><BR>The second experience occurred when I interrupted a student-organized panel talk on HIV/AIDS in Africa, by helpfully pointing out errors and important omissions in the information being given by the speakers. The organizers didn?t think I was trying to be helpful and I was asked to desist and, when I refused, two campus security guards were brought in as an attempt to intimidate me, which they did by sitting in the back of the room and staring at my back. Since this was a student-organized event no money was involved, which may be why they did nothing more than this. <BR><BR>Round 3: Denial<BR><BR>The third experience occurred when I found out that Stephen Lewis was going to be giving a talk at the university and I requested, several days before the meeting, to be allowed to ask one question. <BR><BR>Stephen Lewis is a Godlike figure in Canada, especially since he became Kofi Annan?s point man on AIDS, although people outside Canada are often not familiar with him and certainly not with his background. Like his father before him, Stephen was leader of a branch of Canada?s socialist party, the NDP. He led the party in Canada?s largest province, Ontario, during much of the 1960?s and 1970?s, even forming the official opposition at times. Although the party has been through some hard times more recently, the federal version of this party is currently providing most of the votes needed to prop up a Liberal party that is slowly bleeding to death due to a hundreds of millions of dollars corruption scandal. Not that I?m complaining; the alternative appears to be a coalition between a right-wing party stuffed with angry right-leaning Anglophones combined? with the Quebec separatist party (Bloc Qu?becois) stuffed with angry left-leaning Francophones. <BR><BR>After leaving politics, Lewis became Canada?s ambassador to the United Nations and was the Deputy Executive Director for UNICEF from 1995 to 1999. Since then he has been the UN Secretary General?s Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa. <BR><BR>I have had suspicions about Stephen Lewis? motivations for quite a long time. His rhetoric about AIDS drugs is almost orgasmic in its passion. I heard him interviewed on CBC radio when he was talking about Combivir as if it was the biggest advance in science since e=mc2. Yet, it is just a combination of two GlaxoSmithKline drugs: AZT and 3TC, both nucleoside analogs. Lewis doesn?t seem to realize that the reason companies combine drugs is not so much to reduce the number of pills that people have to take, but to create new IPR (Intellectual Property Rights). If recognized by the patent office or the FDA, this trick extends the exclusive marketing period for the drugs AZT and 3TC. <BR><BR>This repackaging also has the benefit of disguising the fact that people are still taking AZT after all these years. I have talked to people who have heard of the terrible toxicity of AZT yet did not connect it with the Combivir they were taking. This trick also increases the likelihood that at least two drugs in a combination of three or more will be from GlaxoSmithKline. Other drug companies are doing the same thing with their properties, in a similar way that entertainment companies or fast food companies attempt to mix and match, bundling their customer experiences to increase their sales. <BR><BR>I see other people looking up to Lewis as a demigod. Why? Because he seems to combine the two incompatible views of God that were simultaneously espoused by my elders when I was a youngster. They tried to teach me that God was filled with a very calm and accepting? love of everyone yet, at the same time, He was always angry because His people were always failing him. Nobody else seemed to see the contradiction. <BR><BR>Lewis is a lot like that. He loves us all, but is simultaneously angry because we are failing to solve the AIDS crisis by throwing our money at AIDS drugs. He maintains a tired look of perpetual disappointment. He always holds out the hope that we can be redeemed by raising money, buying tickets to his speaking engagements, buying foundation-authorized trinkets with his name on them and lobbying our governments to spend more money on AIDS drugs for Africa. <BR><BR>Lewis doesn?t even hate the patent-drug companies. He loves their products, but hates their prices. If they lower their prices (and considering their obscene profit margins, this shouldn?t be difficult), he will welcome them back into the fold. <BR><BR>Lewis sees AIDS drugs in very simplistic terms. He calls them ?life-prolonging? yet doesn?t mention that AIDS drug labels often deny this claim, and none are tested in a fashion that would allow this claim to be verified. He also says that ?if, for any reason, treatment is interrupted, during the course of the client?s? life, then the client is almost certain to die.?I have not yet seen a statement by Stephen Lewis that acknowledges that AIDS drugs have debilitating and sometimes fatal side effects. Validating that a drug increases CD4 cell counts or reduces viral load is not quite the same thing as proving that the drug reduces the incidence of AIDS-defining diseases or prolongs life. Nor does Lewis mention the LTNPs (Long Term Non-Progressors), those inexplicable people who live many healthy years with HIV, but without AIDS drugs. <BR><BR>I really wanted to ask Lewis about such issues and, as his talk in April, 2005 was open to the general public, I contacted Alyson Woloshyn, the event organizer and Coordinator of Student Life Programs at the University, and requested to be allowed to ask one question of Stephen Lewis: <BR><BR><BR>?Why do you recommend drugs such as AZT and other nucleoside analogues for African pregnant women and babies when the stated aim of the drugs is to interfere with DNA synthesis, when the drugs are known to cross the placenta, are known carcinogens and mutagens, and cause severe anemia, in a continent where pre-existing anemia due to malaria and parasitic infections is already a serious problem, and where safe and affordable blood transfusions are rare?? <BR><BR><BR>Woloshyn denied my request because, ?the purpose of our presentation is to recognize our student leaders at U of C and as such the topic is about leadership.? I did point out that if the actions of Stephen Lewis were actually killing people then he was hardly an example worth following. After an exchange of several emails, I was told to talk to his foundation or organize my own event (which would have been as successful as an anti-slavery rally in the American South before the U.S. Civil War). <BR><BR>One thing that Woloshyn did reveal to me that I didn?t know before is that Stephen Lewis had a charitable foundation. It seemed time to follow that adage: ?Follow the money?. Where was it coming from? How much is there? And, where is it going? <BR><BR>I obtained the foundation?s 2003 annual report from Revenue Canada. It did not tell me much; actually suspiciously little, but just enough to be tantalizing. Their donations in the first year of operation (actually only 10 months) were just over one million (Cdn.) dollars. They only spent about one-fifth of this on African projects, leaving more than $800,000 listed as ?Projects (Other)?. Although projects were identified, there was no breakdown of donors despite the huge amount of money raised shortly after leaving the starting gate. <BR><BR>Inquiring about their finances, I received very little information from Alexis MacDonald, the foundation?s acting executive director. She told me that a list of donors could not made available because of? ?privacy law?, but did tell me that the largest donation was $100,000. This reluctance to reveal any donors seems strange. Most non-profit organizations are proud of their donors. Virtually every arts event that I attend has an extensive list of donors in the back of their program. Some, of course, prefer to remain anonymous, but the majority appear proud to be associated with an organization they have chosen to support. A quick web search showed that the University of Calgary Faculty of Nursing has a ?donor wall?, for example, where financial contributors to the faculty are recognized. The Calgary Public Library has a virtual donor wall on its website. If you are into dinosaurs or encouraging? paleontology and have a spare $1,000, you can get your name on the Royal Tyrrel Museum?s donor wall in Drumheller, Alberta. Stephen Lewis is based in Ontario, but to show that donor recognition is not just an Alberta quirk, there are donor walls for the University of Toronto Library and Dental Faculty, Mount Sinai Hospital and the Sick Children?s hospital. <BR><BR>MacDonald also shed very little light on the $800,000 Project ?Other? designation. According to her, despite its categorization as a project, this is really just a surplus carried over to 2004. A ?project? implies that the money has been spent and will not be listed on the next year?s report. I suppose I will have to wait for the 2004 financials to be made available before finding out what happened to this, the majority of their donations. <BR><BR>I did write one more time to MacDonald to request a list of donations by category: Individuals, unions, foundations and, oh yes, pharmaceutical companies. Apparently, I am not going to get that information because of Round 4, but I suspect that the foundation had no plans to give it to me anyway. <BR><BR>Round 4: Eviction<BR><BR>I wasn?t even being rude, pushy or intrusive, let alone threatening or violent. I, and one other person (who will remain anonymous), were merely handing out pamphlets at a June 5, 2005 AIDS fundraiser featuring Stephen Lewis as speaker. The pamphlets (see Figure 1) criticized his one-sided promotion of pharmaceuticals as the solution to AIDS in Africa and questioned the definition of AIDS in use there. We handed them to people as they walked by, accepted them back if people returned them, and didn?t attempt to force them on anyone. <BR><BR>The evidence that AIDS drugs are dangerous is overwhelming and it is truly amazing that Lewis gets away with his simplistic view. I have documented hundreds of scientific papers showing adverse reactions and evidence of ineffectiveness here: 1, 2. <BR><BR>Even the labels for the drugs, produced by the manufacturers, details evidence of toxicity and lack of effectiveness. But, this is not what people want to hear. They want to hear a message of hope. <BR><BR>But, what a strange message of hope it is. First you have to believe the message of doom. Then, and only then, you can believe in the ray of light provided by drugs. Then money becomes the only real problem. Lewis can whip the crowd into a frenzy by also whipping the pharmaceutical companies until they bleed lower prices. <BR><BR>The belief that AIDS is a new viral disease is hard to sustain if you are aware of the actual definition of the disease in Africa. According to WHO?s Weekly Epidemiology Record of March 7, 1986 the ?Provisional WHO clinical case definition for AIDS? (commonly known as the ?Bangui? definition, and which forms the foundation for most Third World definitions) can be used ?where diagnostic resources are limited? (i.e. where no HIV testing is done). A diagnosis of AIDS in an adult only requires ?the existence of at least two of the? (three) major signs (weight loss > 10% of body weight; chronic diarrhea > 1 month; prolonged fever > 1 month (not necessarily continuous)) associated with at least 1 minor sign (persistent cough for > 1 month; generalized? pruritic dermatitis; etc.), in the absence of known causes of immunosuppression such as cancer or severe malnutrition or other recognized etiologies.? The diagnosis does not require a positive HIV test. <BR><BR>This, according to Lewis, is the same as AIDS in America where, for the majority of new cases, there is no illness, just a positive HIV test, low CD4 cell counts. Some 65% of new AIDS diagnoses in the CDC?s 1997 U.S. surveillance report were in this category (and then they stopped reporting this statistic). Consequently, the majority of U.S. AIDS cases are not African AIDS and vice-versa. To be fair to Lewis, I do not believe he has ever claimed that these two different definitions describe the same disease, by using the term ?AIDS? without qualification, he has refused to acknowledge the radical difference in AIDS definitions. <BR><BR>After a brief period of time when our actions went unnoticed even though event officials were milling all around us, the response of the organizers when they finally noticed that we were handing out pamphlets was depressingly predictable. They asked us to stop ruining their event and then told us that we had to leave. I told them that I valued the lives of Africans above the money they might be raising (and, since the event was sold out weeks ago, I don?t know how we could have been ruining it, unless we were ruining the audience?s previous belief that AIDS was a problem that could easily be solved by money and drugs). I also told them that a conference organizer had no right to tell us to leave a public space. They threatened to call campus security several times, which they eventually did. <BR><BR>Campus security told us that handing out pamphlets without the explicit permission of the university was not allowed, and would be considered trespassing. They also told us that if they called the police, they would certainly arrest us. I rather doubt that; I think the police have enough drive-by shootings and home invasions to worry about. But, who knows, maybe throwing people in jail for the crime of disseminating information and opinions would help make being a prison guard a more intellectually invigorating experience, just as Martha Stewart?s confinement raised the level of interior decorating in such institutions. <BR><BR>We did discuss the issue of freedom of speech on campus. The young campus security agents seemed a bit sheepish on that point, but I suppose they will harden with age. Proof of this occurred when we were challenged? as we were leaving by a grizzled man wearing what might have been a police shirt, who obviously was much more practiced at issuing threats. He wasn?t having any truck with the argument that campuses were places for free speech. Certainly not when their rental from a thousand-person audience event was at risk! <BR><BR>Having made our point and, perhaps more to the point, being cowards at heart, we allowed ourselves to be escorted off campus and given a verbal warning by our youthful guards: ?Come back within 24 hours and we will call the police immediately?. <BR><BR>The Future: Silence?<BR><BR>What I really want to know is if any of the money in Lewis?s foundation came from pharmaceutical companies. It?s not likely that I will be finding out now because Lewis wrote to me after the event saying: <BR><BR>X-From_: Stephenhlewis@aol.com? Sun Jun? 5 23:54:27 2005 <BR>From: Stephenhlewis@aol.com <BR>Date: Sun, 5 Jun 2005 23:54:16 EDT <BR>Subject: June 5/05 <BR>To: David.Crowe@aras.ab.ca <BR>CC: execdir@stephenlewisfoundation.org <BR><BR>Dear David Crowe: In light of the material distributed today by the?Alberta Reappraising Society, at the university meeting of the Mennonite Central Committee, I have asked my colleagues to cease?any further?correspondence between?the Stephen Lewis Foundation and your organization. <BR><BR>Yours, SL. <BR><BR>I suppose that we can see this as a victory. We are so dangerous that Lewis would not allow his staff to contact me to say goodbye; he had to do it himself. <BR><BR>But, Mr. Lewis, how can it hurt to tell me where your foundation?s money is coming from? If your donors are, because of your socialist background, largely unions, why would they care if their donations were made public? If the money is mostly raised from ticket sales at speaking engagements, I?m sure everyone in the audience would be happy to have that known. If money is raised from sales of greeting cards to benefit your society, wouldn?t the card designers want to motivate others by letting them know how successful they were? <BR><BR>I have no doubts that many of your donors are very sincere, and genuinely want to make the world a better place. If you have nothing to hide, why are you hiding your list of donors? <BR><BR><BR>Figure 1: The Pamphlet <BR><BR>Stephen Lewis:<BR>Saviour or Sell-Out? <BR><BR><BR>Stephen Lewis is heavily promoting pharmaceutical drugs (?antiretrovirals?) as the solution to AIDS in Africa. <BR><BR><BR>* He doesn?t mention that the drugs are highly toxic.<BR>* He doesn?t mention that there is no proof that the drugs improve health.<BR>* He doesn?t mention that formula feeding plus drugs has not been shown to improve the health of babies of HIV-positive mothers.<BR>* He doesn?t mention that the W.H.O.?s ?Bangui? definition of AIDS in Africa requires only three symptoms from: Persistent Fever; Cough; Diarrhea; 10% Weight Loss?without an HIV test!<BR><BR>The Alberta Reappraising AIDS Society <BR><BR>http://aras.ab.ca <BR>aras@aras.ab.ca <BR><BR>The Alberta Reappraising AIDS <BR>Society provides information on: <BR><BR>* Scientific quotes showing the danger of the? drug AZT, given to pregnant women and to adults, combined with other drugs: <BR>aras.ab.ca/azt.html <BR><BR>* The dangers and ineffectiveness of combinations of AIDS drugs, known as HAART (Highly Active Anti-Retroviral Therapy):<BR>aras.ab.ca/haart.html <BR><BR>* Thousands of scientists, doctors and academics who question whether HIV causes AIDS:<BR>aras.ab.ca/rethinkers.htm <BR><BR>* The views of many academics and scientists questioning HIV=AIDS=Death:<BR>aras.ab.ca/aidsquotes.htm <BR><BR>Our website provides links to organizations and scientists that hold similar views. <BR><BR>Alberta Reappraising AIDS Society <BR>http://aras.ab.ca <BR>June, 2005 <BR><BR></FONT></TD></TR></TABLE>