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Who's Afraid of Gardasil?

In early March the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) estimated the populationprevalence of HPV infection in American women aged 14 to 59 years old. What the CDC study authors found was an overall prevalence of HPV (anytype) infection in 26.8 percent of the American females studied, with 3.4 percent infected with one of the four HPV types in Merck's quadrivalent vaccineand 2 percent infected with one of the two vaccine types (HPV 16 and 18) associated with cervical cancer.

The study noted that 90 percent of allHPV infections are cleared from the body and do not become chronic. This means that less than one quarter of one percent of all American women are at risk for chronic infection with one of the two HPV types associated with cervical cancer which are contained in Merck's Gardasilvaccine.

These new HPV prevalence data seriously call into question the cost benefit ratio for Gardasil, particularly when taking into account short- and long-term serious vaccine reactions being reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), such as five cases of GuillainBarre Syndrome (GBS) and cases of syncope with seizures, facial paralysis and other signs of brain and immune system dysfunction. The editorial in JAMA also questioned whether the two HPV types in the vaccine would be replaced by the other HPV types associated with cervical cancer, limiting the vaccine's effectiveness. On May 18, 2006, the FDA staff questioned this possibility.

The Washington Times reports that ACIP chairman Jon Abramson and other committee members did not want Gardasil mandated. If this is true, then ACIP should have stated that fact clearly when they made their recommendation in the summer of 2006 that all eleven-year-old girls get the vaccine. In light of newly published HPV prevalence data and the fact that Merck only studied Gardasil in a few hundred eleven-year-old girls for a few years, together with reports of serious adverse events such as GBS coming into VAERS, the CDC's ACIP members should be more worried about unanimously recommending GARDASIL for routine use with inadequate supporting evidence.

This is worth repeating...there have already been five cases of GBS, and the vaccine was only tested on a few hundred girls.

Despite the growing list of outstanding scientific questions about the vaccine's necessity, safety and effectiveness. All we see is knee-jerk endorsements of school mandates for this vaccine. American children should not be viewed as guinea pigs by drug companies, health officials, doctors, or politicians.

Kenneth Stoller, MD, FAAP

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Mar 21 2007 - 9:44am

Congress, End the War

In his speech on the fourth anniversary of the Iraq War, President Bush gave his support for the Democratic proposal to withdraw the US troops from Iraq by the end of 2008.

President Bush solemnly declared that the success in Iraq is a matter of months, not days or weeks.

Any success coming in 2009 would be a matter of years. Since President Bush never lied to the American public, we can rest assured our troops would be home by the end of 2008.

Thanks God they will be going home together with President Bush.

Kenan Porobic

Charlotte, NC

Mar 21 2007 - 9:15am

Europeans Do It Better

On the face of it, it does seem silly to promote childbearing in an overpopulated world. But it's not as simple as the author of this article makes it sound.

If the industrialized countries fill up the demographic gap through increased immigration, they will obviously let in the educated classes of the developing world, not the illiterate ones. This brain drain is in fact already happening and it is not diminishing population growth in the South, but increasing it by retarding development.

The underdeveloped world needs those people which it spent so much to educate much more than the West does.

Some other factual errors:

One: Europe did not recently start encouraging births. These policies date back to the aftermath of the FIRST world war. So many young men had been killed that women had to work the fields and factories while simultaneously replenishing the population. The day care and subsidy programs have been expanded since then but they are hardly new.

Two: France's "immigrant" Arabs have French nationality and go to French schools. They don't need to be discovered as they are fully counted in the demographic debate.

Mostly though, it is the idea that you can just add up people and move them around like commodities that is wrong. If Japanese engineers don't have enough babies, the problem is not solved by bringing in Sudanese farmers. Nor by educating those farmers to be engineers and then depriving their home countries of their skills.

Hans Bavinck

Toulouse, France

Mar 21 2007 - 8:38am

Conscience and the War

Deposing a strongman inspires conflicting and complementary hopes locally, regionally and worldwide. Agendas compete in strengths that vary in the mix of violence, electoral politics and economics, in a slippery rock-scissors-paper interplay.

Martial law imposed by an overwhelming foreign military and police force coupled with elections organized and overseen in the interest of universal suffrage to produce an internationally acceptable clean vote for a constitutional convention can produce a post-fascist Germany and Japan, the variety of post-colonial African states of the 1960s, or a post-Soviet Russia.

Add to that beginning a period of occupation to enforce law and order and deliver economic aid and the choice of whose law, whose economic decisions and for how long produces colonialism like the Raj, Cuba as USSR client-state, or postwar Viet Nam, among other outcomes. Whether the occupier is a single nation, a coalition from the region or outside it, or a UN force, the policy choices for the UN Security Council, NATO or an ad hoc coalition of nations with vital interests of their own in the area, still involve deciding when any intervention is justified and when nation-building becomes imposed cultural change, to the deciders and to the rest of the world.

One possibility is for the UN to declare that one-person, one-vote electoral majority rule with conscience and civil rights for minorities, plus a social safety net. This is the ideal basis for a state but the Security Council will only intervene in any area to prevent genocide and widespread torture, or to relieve epidemic famine and plague.

Such a vote in the UN General Assembly would involve at the least the principle of the supremacy of religious or secular and ideological or pragmatic value, and would establish a standard impossible to apply except by judicial interpretation which would be seen as super-legislative fiat by the losers, whether made by a court or the Security Council.

A treaty proposing any similar or opposing standard for enforcement by regional or coalition forces of its signatory nations would only gather the like-minded, their clients and allies, all of whose interests and positions shift with events. As with supply and demand, it’s the various states’ national interests, including the desire for different kinds of international respect, that intersect given areas’ conflicting interests to produce points of intervention and abstention, where human beings suffer and die, often leaving us a visual record of it, as individual as the 9/11 cell-phone calls.

And yet, the US policy choice is between meliorative-pejorative politics-as-usual and an isolationism or world hegemony based on contemporary Hiroshima-effective demonstrations of authority.

Jerome Davis Muller

San Francisco, CA

Mar 20 2007 - 6:36pm

Congress, End the War

I doubt the accuracy of the claim made in this editorial that there would be "tremendous educational and practical progress" made on opposing the war just by losing a vote on the withdrawal plan put forward by Rep. Barbara Lee.

While Lee's plan may be better in terms of appearing to bring the war to an end more quickly, being unable to pass it is not sound politics. We are past the point of making symbolic gestures, which is what this editorial appears to endorse.

But what happens next? What do you do after the Lee plan fails? Do you just say, "Well everyone has been educated. Good work; let's go home."

What will we have learned: splitting the broad opposition to Bush with demands that are too sharply on the left and making symbolic but highly moral (to some people) oppositional statements fail to end the war.

Pelosi's plan is more than a symbolic gesture.It would make withdrawal the law.

The tactics for winning a fight in Congress offered in the editorial would hand much hard-fought political momentum back to Bush, who will then claim that the Democrats have not been able to offer a sound alternative and thus his stay-the-course/escalation is the only alternative.

We should take the fact that Bush is so strongly opposed to it as a sign of its significance. It is a good point at which a movement for withdrawal can take its first steps.

Joel Wendland

Ypsilanti, Michigan

Mar 20 2007 - 5:00pm

The Myth of the New Anti-Semitism

Brian Klug makes interesting arguments and is not far off the mark in some of them. To speak of a 'global war' against the Jews is putting things too strongly, and to say that all criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic in intent is to go one step too far.

But I think he is myopic about some of the realities, particularly the role now being played by Muslim anti-Semitism, particularly in several Arab states, Iran, Pakistan, and even secular Turkey.

The history of this form of anti-Semitism reveals much about the 'new' anti-Semitism that is now increasing by the year, if not the month. To put this simply, a basic level of anti-Jewish sentiment (derived from certain verses of the Qur'an, some hadiths, and the history of attacks on Jews made by the Prophet) had laid a foundation over centuries that allowed Muslims to regard and treat the Jews as inferior people who deserved to be humiliated (and against whom occasional pogroms could be launched).

This level was overlaid in the 1930s and 40s by a deeper stratum of racist anti-Semitism taken straight from the Third Reich, in content and in imagery. Before the establishment of the state of Israel, the Arabs of Palestine, Iraq, Egypt, and elsewhere opted to support the Nazis in their struggle. The Palestinians, led by Hajj Amin al-Husayni (who spent the war in Berlin), anticipated the establishment of a death camp in Nablus, at which all the region's Jews were to be eliminated.

Remember that the alliance with Nazi Germany was one that the Arabs freely chose. Then look at the Middle East today. The anti-Semitism that one finds everywhere, in ther form of newspaper articles and cartoons, TV shows, radio broadcasts, school textbooks, and mosque sermons is every bit as vicious as anything from the Reich. Why wouldn't Israeli Jews be frightened when they see Hamas and Hizbullah using the Nazi salute and explicitly threatening to destroy Israel and punish the Jews?

Only someone exceptionally naïve would suggest for a moment that a one-state solution would be viable for a moment. To think that the PLO, Hamas, Hizbullah, and their backers would just shake hands, smile, and say 'it's so nice to be back, and to know we have such nice Jewish friends' is to live in a cloud-cuckooland that no one with any sense has inhabited since 1939.

Now, this Middle Eastern anti-Semitism has done something odd. It has started to trickle back to Europe and over to North America, where it has taken root among certain sectors of the Left. The Jewish conspiracy trope, the blood libel, the Jews as Nazis caricature, the Jews as manipulators of the media and politics lie, and much else are alive and well on university campuses, anti-war demonstrations, and in much political discourse.

Like Brian, I would like to think that most anti-Israelism is just that, but honestly don't believe that, and the main reason I don't is because I can see how powerful those themes have become among people who claim not to be anti-Semitic. There's just too much real anti-Semitism in the air for me to be comfortable. When The Guardian prints a cartoon that could have come out of al-Akhbar that itself could have come out of Die Stürmer, I feel more than a little uneasy.

I don't deny that it is possible to develop an anti-Zionist style that is manifestly not anti-Semitic. Brian actually does it very well. But there is so much anti-Zionism that is clearly anti-Jewish that I have to assume that a lot of the less obvious stuff is anti-Jewish too, but perhaps restrained by Western social embarrassment about being openly anti-Semitic. I don't mean this in a paranoid way: 'all anti-Zionism must be anti-Semitic, even if it doesn't say so'. I'm simply extrapolating from what I do see.

Take the recent case of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign: two members asked them to support a motion condemning anti-Semitism, and were turned down. Would I be wrong to conclude that the PSC is anti-Semitic?

So many of the things said about Israel ring with exactly the same tone as things traditionally said about Jews. This is most evident in Islamic anti-Semitic imagery and speech, and Brian's article makes little sense by paying such scant attention to it; but this form of anti-Semitism has gone into Europe via our Muslim communities and has detoured to left-wing groups who show no discomfort in joining hands with Islamic organizations who openly condemn democracy, free speech, and religious tolerance. The two make a dangerous combination for all of us (and I say this coming from a liberal, not a right-wing position), but above all for Jews.

That is why I still maintain that constant vigilance both for our freedoms and for the fate of the Jews makes it essential for there to be a Jewish state to offer sanctuary. The Arabs think less in terms of territory than along religious lines.

The concept of the Westphalian state has never taken root in the Middle East, and so the notion of a new state being established and functioning alongside its neighbours in peace and harmony has never entered into Arab calculations. Until a different sort of thinking takes hold, I can't see what choice Israel has. It is the most vibrant, democratic, tolerant, and open state in the region, and to see it destroyed just to satisfy an atavistic call for revenge would be a tragedy of immense proportions.

It has never been the Israeli mainstream calling for the destruction of the Palestinians, but it is still the Palestinians calling for the obliteration of Israel. There is only one moral choice.

Dr. Denis MacEoin

Newcastle upon Tyne, UK

Mar 20 2007 - 3:39pm

Cheney, Cornered

I don't think the Vice-President is cornered so much as he is preparing to take his loot and get out of town. But as this is a family criminal operation, the Bush's are doing the same. Their destination: Dubai.

Not only is Halliburton preparing to take its ill-gotten loot and empire and move it offshore, but the Carlyle Group (vested with large amounts of Bush money) is moving to Dubai.

As there is so little attention to the huge amounts of money being borrowed to line these criminals pockets, we will suffer the catastrophic fate that the Soviet Union did when their war industries brought down their empire. So be it. Too bad though, a lot of people will be hurt.

Norman Scott

Inglewood, CA

Mar 20 2007 - 3:06pm

The Porn Plot Against Prosecutors

Max Blumenthal writes: "The other e-mail contained a weirder charge: that Charlton refused to prosecute obscenity cases. Written by Ward to Sampson on (September 20, 2006), the e-mail leveled the same allegation against Dan Bogden, the US Attorney for Nevada, who was also dismissed in the prosecutor purge, despite positive performance reviews. "We have two US Attorneys who are unwilling to take good cases we have presented to them. They are Paul Charlton in Phoenix (this is urgent) and Dan Bogden in Las Vegas," wrote Ward. "In light of the AG's [Attorney General's] comments...to 'kick butt and take names,' what do you suggest I do?"

I'm on a mission. I'm looking for any e-mails in the "document dump" that cover the months before the November elections last year. Why?

One story dominated the airwaves and the front pages of newspapers in the months before last November's elections: MARK FOLEY and the House page scandal, with news that House Republicans had been hiding Foley's activities from everyone, especially the Democrats.

So, what would Rove and Gonzales have done? They would have counterattacked, to try to dig up dirt (or even fabricate dirt) on the Democrats, in an attempt to push the Mark Foley scandal off the front pages, replacing it with "scandals" about Democrats or pet issues appealing to the Republican's religious base like pornography indictments/convictions. Or maybe even trumped-up voter fraud cases against Democrats?

It is my contention that Rove and the White House enlisted the help of "friendly" US Attorneys (USAs) to execute this plan and any USAs who didn't go along with the plan ended up being fired one month after the election. And this Ward guy was in on the plan, trying to get USAs to go after local "pornographers" to try to bump coverage of the Mark Foley scandal off the front page of local newspapers and off local airwaves.

Of course, the plan didn't work, but remember when Karl Rove, two weeks before the election, proclaimed with 100 percent certainty that Republicans would retain control of Congress? Because he'd seen "the numbers"? Even with the Mark Foley scandal hogging the news for weeks on end?

Paul Sorrells

Austin, TX

Mar 20 2007 - 3:21am

Congress, End the War

The legacy of George W. Bush will be a long, painful struggle. His administration has created hate among American citizens and citizens of the world.

Who speaks for the people? Who is the voice of freedom? Freedom may have become silent, a casualty in a failed experiment.

Political isolation creates an environment capable of destroying the people born or creative ideas born of the people. Oppression, anti-democratic practices, and illegal activities spread when ideas are not discussed openly, freely, and frequently. A desperate nation needs those that can think, communicate, and write clearly.

Do schools, communities, counties, states, and the nation have funding for the kind of infrastructure needed to support its citizens? No. The money is being dropped on children in deserts of distant countries. How can the U.S., so deeply in dept, rebuild schools in Iraq and rebuild run-down schools at home? The U.S. can't. Something must end; something must give, and something must start.

The dollar amount spent on the invasion of Iraq could have bought a house for every single struggling poor citizen of this country, not homeless shelters but HOUSES.

The dollar amount spent on politician's private "fact finding missions" and "trade networking" could have saved hundreds of lives of people who might have had a chance, if they only had medical insurance. This nation cannot see politics as a humanitarian field and civic duty; thus, politicians are paid too well.

The primary focus should be in taking care of this nation's people. This nation's EDUCATION, HEALTH CARE, and HOUSING should be the first priority.

Students in the U.S. are not even able to name the presidents and incidences surrounding their administrations. Students in many European and Asian countries are able to name ALL the U.S. presidents.

In many nations, children are able to speak fluently in more than 2 languages while American children are unable to even master their very own language. Doesn't any politician find this disconcerting? Obviously not, because tax dollars continue to only trickle into schools and teachers struggle with wages much less than a federal politician's.

George W. Bush will never defeat any enemy abroad, but his neglect has damaged many American lives.

Jerie Leep

Tenkiller, Oklahoma

Mar 20 2007 - 12:27am

Who's Afraid of Gardasil?

I am neither a "conservative, a "consumer advocate," or "anti-vaccine" organization. I am proud liberal and I object to any kind of government mandate of the Gardasil vaccine for a number of reasons. I don't believe the government has the right mandate any kind of medical treatment or procedure. In much the same way that I am Pro-Choice with regard the legality of abortion, I am Pro-Choice with regard to any kind of vaccination. Citizens of this country have a constitutional right to privacy and any kind of mandated medical procedure is a clear violation of that right.

I also think the medical value of Gardisal is questionable at best. According to CDC, only 2% of HPV infections are type 16 and 18, which are the only high risk HPV types associated with cervical cancer included in Merck's GARDASIL. Those aren't very impressive numbers for a vaccine with little to no safety record. One thing that is quite clear is that Gardasil's greatest value will be its ability to line the pockets of both Merck's stakeholders and that of the politicians they give money to. For example, it is well known that Merck campaign contributions coincided with a Feb. 2, 2007 Executive Order by the Governor of Texas that mandated the vaccine and that on Dec. 14, 2006, Merck announced a $57 million dollar expansion of its plant in Elkton, Virginia (with an annual payroll of $60 million) to produce GARDASIL. Gov. Kaine approved a $700,000 performance-based grant from the Virginia Investment Partnership (VIP) program for Merck to improve the Elkton plant to make it ready to produce Gardasil.

Very little is known about the short or long term safety of this vaccine; my opposition to Gardasil this has nothing to do with "family values," sex and or religion - it has only to do with actual public health (as opposed to profit-driven "public health" as promoted by Big Pharma and the FDA) as well as the right to personal choices when it comes to my own health and that of my child.

Give me liberty or give me death,

Chris Bousquet

Chris Bousquet

New Haven, CT

Mar 19 2007 - 3:53pm