30 November 2011

Battlefield America

Dear USA citizens,
                 You know how you keep going on about being the "Land of the Free", in spite of other counties actually being more free than you eg Norway, Demark etc.

You might want to read how the National Defense Authorization Act will allow the US military to arrest and hold you in detention without charge anywhere in the world, including the US mainland.
You know all those civil right you thought you had? This is the Counter-Enlightenment, and it's coming for you.

  There's a reason you separate military and the police. One fights the enemies of the state, the other serves and protects the people. When the military becomes both, then the enemies of the state tend to become the people. Commander William Adama - Battlestar Galactica

Burzynski Clinic in a tizz

      So the big news in Skeptic and medical blogging circles is the Burzynski Clinic, and the bizarre emails from Marc Stevens, to a number of skeptical bloggers.
Burzynski claim that Marc was hired for his SEO skills, and I will admit that he has been a remarkable success in raising the Burzynski Clinics profile, but Marc doesn't seems to have a big profile himself, as I can't find him via Google, and his Yahoo Answers profile has been deleted.

It all started off with this story From the Quackometer  how he saw a story in the Observer about how Peter Kay was raising money to send a child to the Clinic for treatment. Its certainly a worthy thing that Peter is doing, but as Le Canard Noir said, it's probably all for nought.

Among the others who got the nasty emails was Rhys Morgan a local hero for taking on the Miracle Mineral Solution, also known as bleach, and having it banned in the UK.

Read the emails between Rhys and Marc, two other names stick out Azad Rastegar and Renee Trimble. They both work at the clinic. They both have copies of these emails and they say nothing, only a retweet from @AzadRastegar on twitter from a patient who does seem to be getting better.

Regarding medical side of the treatment the mighty David Colquhoun covers it here   

Now it really get interesting as the Burzynski Clinic have finally released a statement. It mentions attorneys will be contacting UK based bloggers about alleged defamatory statements.
This would be rather interesting to see going to Court as the Burzynski Clinic would probably be in breach of the 1939 Cancer Act.

So basically Bloggers says the Clinic can't really cure cancer, The Clinic has only anedotal evidence that it does, the Clinic takes bloggers to Court in the UK, so the Clinic will actually have to prove in front of expert witnesses that it can cure cancer. I can't really see that the NHS and the UK Cancer Research  leaving this alone.

Martin Robbins who is the Science writer for the Guardian has just posted this to his Google+

Just got this follow up for the Burzynski lawyer. As I thought, he was straight with me, but the situation behind the scenes seems very confused. In any case, the below seems pretty clear now... I've not seen the press release, and I'm out of the country s will just post this as is...

"The clinic issued a press release on the blogosphere issue which was sent to your paper.  It covers the relationship between it and Marc Stephens It turns out some of the issues are more complicated that I had first thought. But the bottom line is that the clinic did hire Marc Stephens and one of his main tasks was to stop the dissemination of false and misleading information, and he initiated contact with at least some of these web sites with the knowledge of the clinic. As stated in the press release, the clinic is still going to pursue having these web sites remove misstatements or misleading omissions of fact. For the time being, these bloggers have managed to make this about threats by the Burzynski clinic rather than whether the information on these sites is truthful, accurate and fair. We're hoping that somewhere down the line, the media will focus of these issues."



 As I write this the most excellent Jen McCreight takes a stick to some of the claims and references in the statement.

So it looks to me that the clinic has scored an own goal.

"The highwayman demands 'your money OR your life,' but quacks demand 'your money AND your life!'" -anon

26 November 2011

Whatever happened to Milan Brych?

Long time ago in the dark days of a gerrymandered Australian state, there was a State Premier called Sir  Joh Bjelke-Petersen. Miracles did he promise, and never delivered, such as a steam powered car and a cure for cancer.

The supposed miracle worker was Milan Brych ( Born 11 December 1939), a refugee from Czechoslovakia, who moved to New Zealand in 1968, and he was able to convince then that he was an actual doctor, and then to the Cook Islands 1977 when he was being investigated by the NZ Medical Council. 

In 1978 Sir Joh invited Milan Brych to move to Queensland to set up practice, this was headline news at the time, and very controversial. I suspect that if it wasn't for the Deputy Premier Dr Llew Edwards actually being a medical doctor, and being totally opposed to a quack doctor setting up in the state, this would have occurred.

He eventually moved to the US, was arrested for fraud in 1983 and sentenced to 6 years jail. Afterwards he disappeared and seems to have dropped out of sight.

There is a very comprehensive and unfortunately very badly done website here at what used to be called The Milan Brych Underground Website (MBUW). The original domain has expired and it's really hard to navigate, I also don't think it has been updated since 2002, so I guess the design can be excused as it's ten years old and probably done in Microsoft FrontPage (bleh).

He was the subject of two books around that time:-
Milan Brych: the cancer man by Australian journalist Frank Quill (out of print)
Cancer and Milan Brych: Cure or Con?  by Michael Guy (1978) available to read online at the MBUW website

The  Courier-Mail have a recent summery on the visit of Brych to Queensland and his visit with Sir Joh.

The MBUW also has some pictures of  graves of those who didn't survive, the locals call it the Brych Yard
(Updated 2006!)

Edit 9/7/2012
Lots of page views recently due to the Cancerman TV show made in New Zealand.

I still suspect that Milan Brych is in Switzerland.

"very devious person, very cunning and quite callous to the well-being of society, particularly when a great deal of money is involved." - Judge David S. Aisenson (describing Milan Brych)

25 November 2011

Dawkins asks David Cameron a question

Over here at The Guardian
I think it shows just why David Cameron doesn't get it. John Maynard Keynes was real.

Richard Dawkins, ethologist, evolutionary biologist and author
Why do you support faith schools for children who are too young to have chosen their faith, thereby implicitly labelling them with the faith of their parents, whereas you wouldn't dream of so labelling a "Keynesian child" or a "Conservative child"?

"Comparing John Maynard Keynes to Jesus Christ shows, in my view, why Richard Dawkins just doesn't really get it. I think faith schools are very often good schools. Why? Because the organisation that's backing them – the church or the mosque or the synagogue – is part of the community. And it brings a sense of community and the backing of an institution to a school. The church was providing good schools long before the state got involved, and we should respect the fact that it's not just the state that can provide education but other bodies, too."

13 November 2011

Domininist Fantasy 2012 If This Goes On—


         I used to love reading Robert Heinlein as a teenager, much as I used to love to watch Star Trek, it was reassuring that someone thought the future was going to be a better place, and it was just a few engineering challenges away.

One of Heinliens first stories was  "If This Goes On—" first serialized in 1940, and rewritten for his 1953 book Revolt in 2100.

The story is set in a future theocratic American society, ruled by the latest in a series of “Prophets.” The First Prophet was Nehemiah Scudder, a backwoods preacher turned President (elected in 2012). You can get the T-shirt here:

So lets play Pick the Scudder :-

  • Michelle Bachmann
  • Newt Gingrich, 
  • Jon Huntsman Jr., 
  • Ron Paul, 
  • Rick Perry, 
  • Mitt Romney 
  • Rick Santorum


Thanks to David Brin for reminder.....

"When any government, or any church for that matter, undertakes to say to its subjects, 'This you may not read, this you must not see, this you are forbidden to know,' the end result is tyranny and oppression, no matter how holy the motives. Mighty little force is needed to control a man whose mind has been hoodwinked; contrariwise, no amount of force can control a free man, a man whose mind is free. No, not the rack, not fission bombs, not anything —you can't conquer a free man; the most you can do is kill him." Robert Heinlein

11 November 2011

Warning signs of fascism


      I am blatantly stealing this from Stephen Sumpter at http://www.latentexistence.me.uk/

This list was created in 2003 by Laurence W. Britt and published in Free Inquiry Magazine. He took these characteristics from Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, Franco’s Spain, Salazar’s Portugal, Papadopoulos’s Greece, Pinochet’s Chile, and Suharto’s Indonesia.
  1. Powerful and continuing expressions of nationalism
  2. Disdain for the importance of human rights
  3. Identification of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause
  4. Supremacy of the military/avid militarism
  5. Rampant sexism
  6. A controlled mass media
  7. Obsession with national security
  8. Religion and ruling elite tied together
  9. Power of corporations protected
  10. Power of labor suppressed or eliminated
  11. Disdain and suppression of intellectuals and the arts
  12. Obsession with crime and punishment
  13. Rampant cronyism and corruption
  14. Fraudulent elections
The original article contains longer explanations and references. Fascism Anyone? – Laurence W. Britt

It certainly seems that most of the English speaking world is on track for most or all of the above.

Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power. - Benito Mussolini

07 November 2011

40 Day of treats is over

The gang at 40 Days of Treats have done a great job.

But there are reminders of  those in the past who didn't have the luxury of the social progress that we mostly enjoy at the present time. 

The pictures below are of Cross Bones Graveyard in Southwark London that I took a day or so ago, in it's early days it was called the Single Womans Graveyard, it's where the unwanted people in as far back as 1600 were interred. Unwanted, unloved, the refuse of a cruel society where they were non-people. Mostly it contains the remains of orphans, babies and prostitutes. I found it extremely moving looking at the ribbons, the keys and trinkets left at the gate.

This is what happened in the past due to lack of birth control,... unwanted babies, turning into unwanted people, living in poverty. 

In the late 1990s the Museum of London excavated 148 remains, while estimating this was less than 1% of the total number of burials  at this site. Their was also an episode of BBC History: Cold Case S01E04 movie you can watch here called Crossbones Girl where they take the bones to a "Face Finder" to reconstruct her appearance.

                                                                  Redcross Way

                                                                  The plaque on the gates

                                                          The gates covered in tributes

A small box behind the gates

                                                                        Inside the gates

Today, young single mothers are still more likely to live in poverty than any other group in society, this is why access to abortion is so important, and in the years past, this is where they would end up. 
More Pictures from the BBC

"In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of" - Confucius

06 November 2011

Woman and more Internet Abuse


I blogged back in August about how much abuse Rebecca Watson was getting, as I barley register on any ones radar so I just get comments on how I should read my bible.
In the last few days it's become much more clear about how much the torrent of hate towards woman bloggers writers has become

Helen Lewis-Hasteley kicks it off at The New Statesman 

Laurie Penny has a article in the Guardian on the amount of abuse she get.

While Caroline Farrow and I are on opposite sides of the Theological fence (well pretty much every fence really) her writing in this article on the abuse she gets from woman as well as men is extremely good.  

Follow twitter hashtag #stampoutmisogyny 

My only solution would be to selectively turn on revealing IP addresses in comments, just so we can see where these nasty trolls are coming from, yes I know it's far from perfect.

“When you hear men talking," said Cornelia, "all they ever do is speak ill of women. ... And I don't quite know how they managed to make this law in their favour, or who exactly it was who gave them a greater license to sin than is allowed to us; and if the fault is common to both sexes (as they can hardly deny), why should the blame not be as well? What makes them think they can boast of the same thing that in women brings only shame?”  Moderata Fonte