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#StopCombatingMe: A New PSA from ASAN

16 Apr

Below is an email message sent out by the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN)

The Autistic Self Advocacy Network is proud to release our newest advocacy PSA, #StopCombatingMe. Produced in collaboration with We Are St. Elmo’s Fire, #StopCombatingMe provides a powerful perspective on the deeply flawed Combating Autism Act and urges for badly needed reforms and action. You can watch the PSA here.

ASAN is working to try and reform CAA to align its goals with those of the Autistic community: self-determination, community integration, acceptance, and meaningful advocacy. Unfortunately, the usual suspects are lobbying intensely, urging Congress to re-authorize the Combating Autism Act at all costs, even if changes aren’t made to fix the problems hurting self-advocates and our families. In fact, these groups are lobbying to make additional catastrophic changes which would wall the Autistic community off from the protections currently serving the rest of the disability community.

Congress has heard from us over and over again on why this proposed legislation will hurt our community. If we want them to listen, they need to hear from you.

1) Sign our action alert to contact your Members of Congress and ask them to support reforming the Combating Autism Act to make it about supporting autistic people, not “combating” us. Share our action alert with your friends, family and networks to help us get this message out far and wide.

2) Share our PSA and action alert with your friends, families, and networks. Post on social media about why you believe CAA has to be reformed using the hashtag #StopCombatingMe. Tweet our video to your Members of Congress, and post it to their pages with a note to let them know why fixing the Combating Autism Act is so important.

3) Schedule an appointment with your Member of Congress’ District Office. Every Congressperson keeps offices in their home district as well as in DC; constituents can make appointments to visit these offices and express concerns. In-person meetings, even with Congressional staff, are the most effective means of creating real change in legislation. You can use our fact sheet and memo on CAA Re-authorization to guide your advocacy, and share our joint letter from the disability community. Find the district offices nearest to you here. If you have any questions or need help arranging a meeting, ASAN’S Director of Public Policy, Samantha Crane, can be reached at Scrane@autisticadvocacy.org

With the re-authorization bill set to be introduced within the next few weeks, it’s critical that your Members of Congress hear from you now. Tell Congress that it is past time to Stop Combating Autistic People.

Nothing About Us, Without Us!

Presidential Proclamation — World Autism Awareness Day, 2014

6 Apr

April is Autism Awareness month and April 2nd was World Autism Awareness day. Below is the Presidential Proclamation about this.

Presidential Proclamation — World Autism Awareness Day, 2014

BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

A PROCLAMATION

Each year, people across the globe take time to recognize the millions of people living on the autism spectrum, including 1 out of every 68 American children. Americans with autism contribute to all aspects of society and are an essential thread in the diverse tapestry of our Nation. On World Autism Awareness Day, we offer our support and respect to all those on the autism spectrum.

Because our whole Nation benefits when Americans with autism succeed, we must ensure our health care and education systems work for them. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, insurers can no longer deny coverage to people because they have autism, and new plans must cover preventive services — including autism and developmental screenings — at no out-of-pocket cost to parents. My Administration remains committed to eliminating discrimination against students with autism and to giving schools the resources to help them hone unique talents, overcome difficult challenges, and prepare for bright futures.

We must also do more to improve our understanding of the autism spectrum, which is why I was proud to sign legislation that continued critical investments in research, early detection, and support services for children and adults with autism. Last year, I launched the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative, a program that aims to revolutionize our understanding of the human mind. By unlocking new knowledge of the brain, we can pave the way for myriad medical breakthroughs, including a greater appreciation for the science of autism. What makes America exceptional are the bonds that hold together the most diverse Nation on earth. Today, let us celebrate our differences — but let us also acknowledge our responsibilities to each other and move forward as one.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim April 2, 2014, World Autism Awareness Day. I encourage all Americans to learn more about autism and what they can do to support individuals on the autism spectrum and their families.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this first day of April, in the year of our Lord two thousand fourteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-eighth.

BARACK OBAMA


By Matt Carey

IACC Meeting this Tuesday

6 Apr

The U.S. Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) will meet this Tuesday, April 8. The meeting will be held at the NIH campus in Bethesda, Maryland. For those who can not attend in person, the meeting is videocast live and a listen-in conference call number is available (Dial: 888-950-8042, Access code: 8689681)

The draft agenda is below.

9:00 AM Welcome, Introductions, Roll Call and Approval of Minutes

Thomas Insel, M.D.
Director, National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and Chair, IACC

Susan Daniels, Ph.D.
Director, Office of Autism Research Coordination (OARC), NIMH and
Executive Secretary, IACC

9:15 Science Update

Thomas Insel, M.D.
Director, NIMH and Chair, IACC

9:30 CDC Prevalence

Jon Baio, Ed.S.
Epidemiologist
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

10:00 Birth to 5: Watch Me Thrive!

Linda Smith
Deputy Assistant Secretary and Inter-Departmental Liaison
Early Childhood Development
Administration for Children and Families (ACF)

10:15 Break

10:30 The White House BRAIN Initiative

Story Landis, Ph.D.
Director, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)

10:45 Autism Research Program (ARP), Congressionally Directed Medical
Research Programs (CDMRP)

Donna Kimbark, Ph.D.
Program Manager, Autism Research Program, Congressionally Directed
Medical Research Programs
U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)

11:15 Teaching a Neurodiversity Course

John Elder Robison
Self Advocate, Parent, Author
Neurodiversity Scholar in Residence
College of William & Mary

11:35 Lunch

1:00 PM Public Comment

1:45 Discussion of Public Comment

2:00 Services Research for Autism Spectrum Disorder across the Lifespan
(ServASD)

Denise Juliano-Bult, M.S.W.
Program Chief, National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)

2:15 TBD

2:30 Committee Business

Thomas Insel, M.D.
Director, National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and Chair, IACC

Susan Daniels, Ph.D.
Director, Office of Autism Research Coordination (OARC), (NIMH) and
Executive Secretary, IACC

3:30 Break

3:45 Committee Business – continued

4:00 Round Robin

5:00 Adjournment

Note: I serve as a public member to the IACC but all statements here and elsewhere are my own.


By Matt Carey

Meeting of the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee

11 Mar

The U.S. Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) will meet next month. People are invited to attend in person, by phone or webinar. People are also invited to submit written comments or present comments live.

Note: I serve as a public member to the IACC but all comments and opinions here and elsewhere are my own.

Here is the announcement:

Meeting of the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee

Please join us for an IACC Full Committee meeting that will take place on Tuesday, April 8, 2014 from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. ET at the National Institutes of Health, 31 Center Drive, Building 31, C Wing, 6th Floor, Conference Room 10, Bethesda, MD 20892. Onsite registration will begin at 8:00a.m.

Agenda: The committee will discuss committee business, agency updates and issues related to autism spectrum disorder (ASD) research and services activities.

Meeting location:
National Institutes of Health
31 Center Drive
Building 31, C Wing, 6th Floor, Conference Room 10
Bethesda, MD 20892

Nearest Metro stop:
Medical Center – Red Line

In the interest of security, NIH has instituted stringent procedures for entrance onto the NIH campus. All visitor vehicles, including taxicabs, hotel, and airport shuttles will be inspected before being allowed on campus. Visitors will be asked to show one form of identification (for example, a government-issued photo ID, driver’s license, or passport) and to state the purpose of their visit.

Pre-Registration:
The meeting will be open to the public and pre-registration is recommended. Seating will be limited to the room capacity and seats will be on a first come, first served basis, with expedited check-in for those who are pre-registered. Please visit the IACC website for access and information about registering.

Public Comment – Deadlines:
Notification of intent to present oral comments: Tuesday, April 1st by 5:00p.m. ET
Submission of written/electronic statement for oral comments: Wednesday, April 2nd by 5:00p.m. ET
Submission of written comments: Wednesday, April 2nd by 5:00p.m. ET

Remote Access:
The meeting will be remotely accessible by videocast (http://videocast.nih.gov/) and conference call. Members of the public who participate using the conference call phone number will only be able to listen to the meeting.

Conference Call Access
USA/Canada Phone Number: 888-950-8042
Access code: 8689681

Individuals who participate using this service and who need special assistance, such as captioning of the conference call or other reasonable accommodations, should submit a request to the contact person listed above at least five days prior to the meeting. If you experience any technical problems with the conference call, please e-mail at helpdeskiacc@gmail.com or call the IACC Technical Support Help Line at 415-652-8023.

Please visit the IACC Events page for the latest information about the meeting, including registration, remote access information, the agenda, materials and information about prior IACC events.

Contact Person for this meeting is:

Ms. Lina Perez
Office of Autism Research Coordination
National Institute of Mental Health, NIH
6001 Executive Boulevard, NSC
Room 6182A
Rockville, MD 20852
Phone: 301-443-6040
E-mail: IACCpublicinquiries@mail.nih.gov

Autism an inside job: a webinar by 9/11 truthers and some names you might recognize.

8 Mar

For some reason autism and vaccines attract a certain fringe element. And for some reason certain segments of the autism communities are willing to join forces with this fringe. For example, consider years back when Andrew Wakefield spoke in Ireland with a new world order group at a rally called “The Masterplan: The Hidden Agenda for a Global Scientific Dictatorship”. Given this history I shouldn’t have been surprised when I ran across websites discussing a webinar held last year: “Autism 9.11 – An Inside Job: Vaccines – A Vicious Social Policy”. As you will see, the webinar includes some names that are familiar to those following the failed mercury/autism hypothesis.

Here’s the trailer for the webinar. It’s only three and a half minutes long and it’s annoyingly edited, but give it a watch.

“Born to be free. Vaccinated to be controlled”. Subtle, eh? OK, maybe in comparison to “The great culling had begun”.

In case you curious as to what the “inside job” is, and the 9.11 reference: to this team autism was an “inside job” just like 9/11 was an “inside job”. Yes, we are talking 9/11 truthers. Yes, people who think that the September 11 attacks in the U.S. were orchestrated by the government. Think this is too far out to be true? Think again:

“Is there anyone conscious who does not know that 9/11 was an inside job? Not anyone that I talk to. By now you also know that autism is an inside job as well. The crony corporatists (aka, “globalist elite”) expect to profit handsomely from the genomic disruption of our children.”

From that same page:

And what about the autistic children now becoming adults in the millions, the tragic victims of the Vaccine Big Lie? The Elite have plans for them, since they follow orders if their basic needs are met with predictable routine. They have been made into the perfect worker drones. Dr. Paul G. King told us that the vaccine schedule is being “fine tuned” to produce more “high functioning” autists for the new world order.

Yep. The rise in autism is not only real, but it is a government approved program to create a “Delta” (think Brave New World) class of workers. And, no, I’m not exaggerating.

In case you think you recognize the name in that paragraph, that would be Paul King of CoMeD. CoMeD is a group run by Mark and David Geier, major proponents of the failed idea that mercury in vaccines caused an autism epidemic. And apparently now Mr. King is telling is that “the vaccine schedule is being “fine tuned” to produce more “high functioning” autists for the new world order”.

Let’s take a look at the schedule for the “Inside Job” webinar:

SCHEDULE Autism: An Inside Job The England Hypothesis: Creating Delta Workers with Vaccines Tentative Webinar Schedule
[1] Introduction: Maj. Gen. Albert N. Stubblebine III (US Army, Ret.)
[2] Welcome: Rima E. Laibow, MD – We are all Vaccine Injured
[3] Focus: Ralph Fucetola, JD – Genomicidal Tech leads to GDS
[4] Thoughts on Individuality: General Stubblebine
[5] Viera Scheibner, PhD: The Fundamental Facts about Vaccination
[6] Christina England: Born to Be Free: Vaccinated to Be Controlled [7] Clint Richardson: Outsourcing our Children’s Minds, the CORE of the Problem
[8] Boyd Haley, PhD: Vaccine “Science” – Lies, Damned Lies and Shoddy Statistics
[9] Paul J. King, PhD: Mercury Murder
[10] Brian Hooker, PhD: Vaccine Lies to Build a New World Order

[11] Panel Round Table
[12] Q and A
[13] Conclusion: Genome Optimization Therapies: Think Globally; Restore Locally – Dr. Rima

I took the liberty of bolding the talks from people who may be best known to readers here. Boyd Haley is not heard from as much anymore, but he was very vocal during in the past decade promoting the idea that mercury in vaccines was responsible for the rise in diagnoses. He coined the phrase “Mad Child Disease” for autism. Nice, huh? Then there is Paul King with “Mercury Murder”. As I’ve noted, Mr. King is a member of CoMeD, an organization run with Mark and David Geier, the father-son team known for bad research, bad medicine and unethical behavior. Brian Hooker is an autism parent and long-time member of the “mercury militia” who appears to have splintered from the “mainstream” mercury groups and is possibly best known online for claiming that documents he has obtained through FOIA requests and other routes “prove” that the CDC and other orgs are covering up the claimed harm from vaccines.

The titles of those talks are a bit extreme, to be sure. And we have the webinar “trailer above” showing this to be a very fringe event. Of the talks, I can find only one online: Mr. Hooker’s talk is on YouTube. It’s long (about 40 minutes).

The first thing you may note that the title is different than the one in the schedule. Instead of “Vaccine Lies to Build a New World Order” we get “The CDC, Ground Zero for the decline of children in the United States.” Complete with mushroom cloud icon, just in case we didn’t get the meaning of “ground zero”. He pulls no punches, telling us that in his opinion there is a level of “voluntary manslaughter and murder” within the CDC. He calls the federal government “the hub of autism creation” with President Obama and the Gates Foundation exporting autism to other countries with mercury containing vaccines. He claims that every study showing vaccines don’t cause autism is statistically flawed. Except, of course, for those points he wants to cherry pick to support his argument. For those the statistics are valid. Instead of his toned down talk he prepared for the Committee on Congressional Oversight and Reform, here we hear all about how the CDC and the HHS are committing genocide.

There is a lot of discussion towards the end about how vaccines are being intentionally used to create a cheap workforce, what the promoters of the webinar call a “delta workers” (think Brave New World). It’s a favorite theme of the group hosting the webinar.

Autism-Inside-Job-Final[1]

With the subtitle “Depopulation, Delta Worker Drones and Autism Eugenicide”

At the end of the presentation we hear this exchange between Mr. Hooker and the host of the webinar:

Host: I’m thrilled to have you as a colleague and a fellow advocate for an end to vaccination.

Brian Hooker: Thank you and god bless you both, I really appreciate it.

Perhaps Mr. Hooker felt that it would be impolite to correct the host in her assertion that he is a “fellow advocate for an end to vaccination”. Perhaps not.

The webinar was made into an eBook. Boyd Haley’s talk changed to a “special message” entitled “CDC/NIH/IOM ABANDON SCIENCE!”. The title for Paul King’s contribution is “Mercury Madness” rather than “Mercury Murder”. And the title for Brian Hooker is “CDC: Ground Zero” rather than “Vaccine Lies to Build a New World Order”.

The “Educational Value” of the eBook is given as:

At the conclusion of this webinar, the participant will be able to discern whether vaccines are used because of the neurological damage they produce or in spite of it, leading to more informed vaccine choices for themselves and those they impact.

Yes, you’ve already heard this message. They think that vaccines are not only causing autism, but that this is an intentional effort by the government.

It would be easy to mock this webinar and the participants. It is very, very fringe. But it isn’t funny. It’s irresponsible.

I’d ask why the hell are Boyd Haley, Paul King and Brian Hooker lending their names to this irresponsible effort, but Mr. Hooker’s presentation makes it very clear. He’s not duped or fooled. He’s complicit[see below]. We can’t say for certain about Mr. Haley or Mr. King, but it’s not as though the message on that website is subtle or hidden.

No, this is no where near funny. For anyone who has read the damage these messages have caused within the autism communities knows: there’s zero humor in this nonsense.

Edit to add: Mr. Hooker has contacted me and informed me that he is not a 9/11 truther.

By Matt Carey

More Canary Party financial documents

2 Mar

The Canary Party grew out of the “vaccines caused an autism epidemic” movement. It’s a small group based in Minnesota. They bill themselves as:

The Canary Party is a movement created to stand up for the victims of medical injury, environmental toxins and industrial foods by restoring balance to our free and civil society and empowering consumers to make health and nutrition decisions that promote wellness.

Last July I wrote about their financial documents in Financial documents for the Canary Party. In that article I made the incorrect statement: “The Canary Party is not a charity, so they do not file form 990′s with the IRS.”

It turns out that they do file form 990. I can’t find them on Guidestar (perhaps because they are new?), but I found this one online. It’s for 2011, when the party formed.

When I wrote last July about the Canary Party, I noted that the financial statements on the Minnesota State Websites indicated that in their founding year (2011) they were largely funded by donations from Canary Party members/officers/founders Jennifer Larson ($40,665) and Mark Blaxill ($15,000).

The form 990 linked to above was an amended form, filed in July of 2013. Coincidentally, filed 10 days after my article about their financials. Per that amended IRS tax form for 2011, those amounts were not donations but loans.

The description of the organization’s mission is given as:

The time has come for a change. The mounting crisis in the health of children and other vulnerable groups has not only been ignored by medical authorities, it has been suppressed. As parents, citizens and advocates for the health of future generations, we must rise up to call attention to this crisis and take action to end it. In nominally democratic societies, which sadly are increasingly corrupted by the power of entrenched interests and economy of influence that surrounds the medical industrial complex, we can most effectively effect change by mobilizing for political action in order to take action against these corrupt forces. It is time to come together to form the Canary Party.

There’s another description as well, but you get the point. It’s a bit much, in my view, but not really out of line with their statements since.

At the time I wrote my previous article, it looked like the revenue to the Canary Party was decreasing. I wrote, “The Canary Party pulled in $72,000 in 2011 and $49,000 in 2012.” (at the time I didn’t know that a large part of the 2011 cash might be from loans). I noted that in 2012 a large fraction of their revenue came from a single donor, one Barry Segal, who apparently has since become disaffected with the Canary Party. I noted:

Per another comment posted to Respectful Insolence, the association between the Canary Party and Mr. Barry Segal appears to be strained. As Mr. Segal accounted for $30,000 of the party’s $49,000 revenue in 2012, one does wonder what 2013 revenue will look like.

Well, from the State of Minnesota site, here is the 2013 financial report on the Canary Party.

The Canary Party took in $17,245 in 2013. Of that, $15,000 was from Mr. Segal on January 2nd. The Canary Party started the year with $15,562.14 and, after $32,300.02 in expenses, ended the year with $687.12 in the bank.

To recap revenue in the last three years:

2011: $72,000 (of which $55,665 may have been in the form of loans)
2012: $49,000
2013: $17,245

Year-end assets

2011: $9,259.07
2012: $15,694.19
2013: $687.12

In other words: revenues and assets are way down. One does wonder how long the Canary Party will last, given these trends.

I find redefining the initial donations as loans to be very interesting. I don’t see evidence that the Canary Party paid back any portion of the loans in 2013. And, given their financial status, I don’t see the possibility of paying back the loans as highly likely. I do have a speculation as to why they might redefine the donations as loans, but I’ll hold off on that for now.

edit to add: here’s the part of the form 990 where they state that they are correcting the original to classify the contributions from the board members as loans.

CP Form 990


By Matt Carey

A cause célèbre for those claiming vaccines cause autism

1 Mar

If you participate in online discussions about autism and vaccines (and I’d advise you to spend your time more productively), you will often hear about how the U.S. Court of Federal Claims (the “Vaccine Court”) has compensated numerous cases of autism, the government just doesn’t admit it. These are often referred to as “secret” compensations, even though the decisions are in the public record. And, quite frankly, the families were not compensated for autism claims.

One family whose story has become a cause célèbre thanks to David Kirby is now the topic of a new Court decision. In this new decision, the court responds to the parents request to have past court documents redacted. They would like to stop being approached by members of the media.

Before we get to the new decision, consider Mr. Kirby’s story:

The parents, who did not want to be interviewed, specifically asserted that [child] “suffered a Vaccine Table Injury, namely, an encephalopathy” as a result of his MMR vaccination on December 19, 2003.” (“Table injuries” are known, compensable adverse reactions to immunizations.)

Alternatively, they claim that “as a cumulative result of his receipt of each and every vaccination between March 25, 2003 and February 22, 2005, [child] has suffered . . . neuroimmunologically mediated dysfunctions in the form of asthma and ASD.”

(child’s name redacted by me)

The parents didn’t want to be interviewed. They also presented two claims, one encephalopathy and one autism. Mr. Kirby focused on the autism claim, even though it wasn’t compensated. Mr. Kirby states:

Whether HHS agreed with [child]‘s parents that his vaccine-induced brain disease led to ASD is unknown. The concession document is under seal.

Actually, it was known. The proffer of an award was titled “Proffer on Award of Compensation; Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR); Table Injury; Encephalitis.”

The child was being compensated for a table injury: encephalitis. Within that document, it is clearly stated:

On June 9, 2011, respondent filed a supplemental report pursuant to Vaccine Rule 4(c) stating it was respondent’s view that Ryan suffered a Table injury under the Vaccine Act – namely, an encephalitis within five to fifteen days following receipt of the December 19, 2003 MMR vaccine, see 42 C.F.R. § 100.3(a)(III)(B), and that this case is appropriate for compensation under the terms of the Vaccine Program

Emphasis mine.

Even with this information showing the family were not compensating autism clearly in the public domain Mr. Kirby tells us it’s “unknown”. Then, true to Mr. Kirby’s style, he leads his readers to the evidence supporting the possibility that it was ASD while never coming right out and saying it.

Perhaps the feds were loath to concede yet another vaccine case involving autism. Four cases in the Autism Omnibus Proceedings were recently compensated. Three of those cases are marked with asterisks, indicating the government did not conclude that autism can be caused by vaccines. But the fourth autism case that was paid out in 2013 ([child]‘s case? We don’t know) has no such caveat.

Mr. Kirby was referring to the HRSA statistics page that lists vaccine court petitions filed and compensated. At the time Mr. Kirby wrote his piece, the statistics report did include autism cases. They no longer do, so you have to check archived pages to see what he’s referring to.

At the time of Mr. Kirby’s article, there appear to have been two cases where someone in the Omnibus Autism Proceeding did receive compensation (I don’t have reason to believe Mr. Kirby was in error, but the archived page doesn’t show four cases). Both of those cases had asterisks.

*May include case(s) that were originally filed and processed as an OAP cases but in which the final adjudication does not include a finding of vaccine-related autism

Mr. Kirby concluded with:

Meanwhile, as HHS says it “has never concluded in any case that autism was caused by vaccination,” it is still underwriting autism treatments such as ABA for children in its vaccine-injury program.

Which basically reads as “the government is making a distinction without a difference”. I.e. the reader comes away with the impression that the government really are compensating autism.

We knew then that these parents didn’t want to talk to the media. They didn’t want to speak with Mr. Kirby, to become his latest cause célèbre. And now we know that they still do not want this attention and we read once again that the case was not compensated for autism. From a recent decision:

“Petitioners have made these requests because they have had the misfortune of being frequently contacted by members of the media who mistakenly believe they were compensated for their alternative autism allegation when Petitioners were actually compensated for a Table Injury encephalopathy.”

Given the family’s clear intent to get out of the public’s eye, I am hesitant to put this article out. But perhaps, just perhaps, some of those using this family as part of their constant fight to keep the autism/vaccine idea alive might reconsider.


By Matt Carey

Comment on: Wrong About Vaccine Safety: A Review of Andrew Wakefield’s “Callous Disregard”

23 Jan

Andrew Wakefield has been discussed here and elsewhere a great deal. Thankfully his presence in the autism communities seems to have retreated to a small core of supporters and the occasional parent convention where he can, yet again, defend himself. Yes, his supporters are vocal. And, yes, he continues to cause harm. But his heyday is long past.

Mr. Wakfield was stripped of his medical license after an extremely lengthy hearing. Mr. Wakefield chose to not present evidence at the hearing, chose not to appeal the decision and has, instead, offered up his defense in a book: “Callous Disregard”. Callous Disregard has been discussed online multiple times.

Mr. Wakefield and his supporters tend to make sciency appearing defenses of him. For example, there are claims that his work has multiple independent replications in various countries. If one checks the references used to make that claim, one finds the claim is, well, false. Citations in “Callous Disregard” often do not support the arguments Mr. Wakefield is making. But few people have the time to go through his prose, much less his references.

One gentleman has taken on that task. Joel A. Harrison, PhD, MPH, has published a paper: Wrong About Vaccine Safety: A Review of Andrew Wakefield’s “Callous Disregard” in which he debunks the main claims in “Callous Disregard”. Here is the abstract:

Abstract: On February 28, 1998, Dr. Andrew Wakefield published an article in the Lancet on 12 children “with a history of pervasive developmental disorder and intestinal symptoms. Onset of behavioral symptoms was associated, by the parents, with measles, mumps, and rubella vaccination in eight of the 12 children.” Though not claiming the MMR vaccine caused the symptoms, adding what parents thought certainly raised the possibility. Statements and articles by Wakefield suggested he believed such a link probable. Vaccination rates plummeted in the UK and outbreaks of vaccine preventable diseases followed. Investigative journalist Brian Deer uncovered dishonest and unethical medical practices by Wakefield, resulting in Wakefield losing his medical license. Rather than appeal the decision, Wakefield wrote a book, “Callous Disregard: Autism and Vaccines – The Truth Behind a Tragedy,” wherein he claims loss of his license was a political attempt to silence his criticism of vaccine safety. This paper examines the validity of Wakefield’s claims. A careful review of publicly available information makes it clear that Wakefield’s claims regarding vaccine safety are wrong. It is hoped that this review will be used by doctors and public health personnel to encourage parents hesitating to have their children vaccinated to question anti-vaccination claims in general, given that many proponents often refer to Wakefield as an authority and display in their own writings and pronouncements similar erroneous claims.

The paper is 17 pages as published and includes 142 references. His conclusion is quite strong, and includes this paragraph:

I have shown that every major claim Wakefield makes in his book concerning vaccine safety is wrong. I have given accurate quotes from both Wakefield’s book and sources that contradict his claims, including those he misquotes. Based on the old adage, “trust but verify,” where possible I have given the URLs to many of the documents and articles referred to in this paper. My hope is that those who take the time to check will realize that Wakefield’s claims regarding vaccine safety are not only wrong but also harmful, and that once this is realized, people will read Deer’s articles [3] and the British Medical Council’s findings [1,2] with an open mind.

How does he back up such a strong conclusion? Consider this point he makes in his summary (which is discussed at length in the paper)

Wakefield claims that a leading Swedish vaccine researcher, Dr. Christenson, told him that vaccine safety studies had not been carried out in Sweden; yet, gives references to two Swedish papers that extensively report on vaccine safety studies in Sweden, one of them coauthored by Dr. Christenson.

Yes, once again, we see Mr. Wakefield claiming something which the very references he uses show the opposite.

Consider Mr. Wakefield’s stance on the Urabe-strain containing mumps vaccine (a component of the MMR used for some time in the UK). Mr. Wakefield ignored the Urabe vaccine during his time as an expert for the MMR litigation in the UK but has more recently taken the story up as some sort of defense of himself. If that sounds confusing, it really isn’t. Mr. Wakefield thinks we all will just forget that he pushed his own pet theory 15 years ago and just listen to the fearful message he gives now.

Dr. Harrison states:

“Wakefield claims that the Urabe mumps strain contained in the MMR vaccine used in the UK starting in 1988 had been approved after the Canadians withdrew it. Not True.”

Yes, the UK didn’t approve the Urabe Strain vaccine after Canada withdrew it.

Canada licensed Trivirix in May 1986 [57]. The starting date for the UK for MMR vaccinations was October 1, 1988 [58,59]. The license for Trivirix was withdrawn in Canada in May 1990 stating: “Recent laboratory findings from the United Kingdom, Canada and Japan have provided sound evidence. . . In addition, the report states: “The infection follows the course of benign aseptic meningitis” [60]. The UK withdrew the Urabe-containing vaccine on September 14, 1992 [61].

Dr. Harrison also goes to great length to discuss how Mr. Wakefield’s characterization of the Urabe strain vaccine is inaccurate–painting a story of a dangerous vaccine where the evidence does not support this argument.

So Wakefield carried out an incorrect statistical analysis, claimed the authors combined the data when they did not, and incorrectly gave a shorter follow-up time. All of these inaccuracies move evidence from showing safety to showing possible harm.

Dr. Harrison concludes the paper with:

The only conclusion that can be reached from this review is that the title of Wakefield’s book is incomplete. It should read: “Andrew Wakefield’s Callous Disregard for the Facts.”

A rather bold statement given Mr. Wakefield’s litigious nature, having brought suit against the BMJ and Brian Deer and threatening an autism charity with legal action.

Mr. Wakefield’s supporters will likely ignore this lengthy takedown. Mr. Wakefield is dishonest. He lies. And the sad thing is that people believe him.


By Matt Carey

note: minor edits were made after this article was published

A vaccinated vs. unvaccinated study and, guess what, vaccinated kids do better on tests

22 Jan

One statement people make a lot on the internet is “where’s a study of vaccinated vs. unvaccinated populations?” Well, here’s one: The effect of vaccination on children’s physical and cognitive development in the Philippines.

When comparisons between vaccinated and unvaccinated populations are proposed, we usually think of the U.S. and trying to work with the small unvaccinated population in a larger vaccinated population. Here we see the reverse: a smaller vaccinated population in a majority unvaccinated population.

What did they find? Here’s the abstract:

We use data from the Cebu Longitudinal Health and Nutrition Survey (CLHNS) in the Philippines to link vaccination in the first 2 years of life with later physical and cognitive development in children. We use propensity score matching to estimate the causal effect of vaccination on child development. We find no effect of vaccination on later height or
weight, but full childhood vaccination for measles, polio, Tuberculosis (TB), Diphtheria, Pertussis and Tetanus (DPT) significantly increases cognitive test scores relative to matched children who received no
vaccinations. The size of the effect is large, raising test scores, on average, by about half an SD.

That’s right. Test scores are increased in the vaccinated population. Higher. They did better.

The study highlights many of the difficulties in doing a vaccinated/unvaccinated population comparison: how to control for confounds. The population that choses the minority approach, be it vaccinating (in the Philippines) or not vaccinating (as in the U.S.) are likely different in other respects as well. Small sample sizes also a limitation. The authors acknoweldge this:

While our results are statistically significant, the sample size is relatively small due to the restriction of the sample to the common support. In addition, the matching of treatment and control groups may be imperfect if there are unobserved confounding factors that affect both vaccination and cognitive development. We therefore do not see our results as definitive. However, the results do however highlight the potential significance of vaccination as a human capital investment and suggest that further research in this area is warranted.

So, let’s consider this question: if there is a real correlation, is it the vaccination itself (unlikely in my opinion) or preventing the diseases (much more likely)? Since as I’ve indicated, I tend towards the latter explanation, let’s consider this: another effect of herd immunity might be cognitive. Since my family and the vast majority of families in the U.S. vaccinate, many diseases are not seen here. Even the unvaccinated are protected.

So, when Jenny McCarthy or others say, “I’d take measles any day over autism”, aside from making the huge mistake of assuming that autism and vaccination are linked, she may be saying “I’d take a half-standard-deviation drop in cognition over vaccination”.

I await the inevitable, “we asked for a comparison of vaccinated vs. unvaccinated populations, but not that comparison”.


By Matt Carey

Mayer Eisenstein files for bankruptcy…again

22 Jan

Mayer Eisenstein is a go-to person in the vaccines-cause-autism community. He heads a large practice in the Chicago area and claims that his unvaccinated children do not have autism. He also was or is a part of the “Lupron Franchise”—a group of practitioners who took on the Geier idea that shutting down sex hormone production in autistics could be a treatment. It was a profoundly bad idea.

Mayer Eisenstein was the subject of an article in the Chicago Tribune: Autism doctor: Troubling record trails doctor treating autism. From that article:

Yet his suburban Chicago practice, currently known as Homefirst, garnered an alarming record: It was on the losing side of one of the largest U.S. jury verdicts — $30 million — ever awarded to the family of a newborn in a wrongful-death suit.

In court records dating back three decades, the families of dead and brain-damaged children repeatedly alleged that doctors who work for Eisenstein made harmful mistakes — sometimes the same error more than once. His practice also has been dogged by accusations in court records that its offshore malpractice policy was phony.

After the $30M verdict, Mayer Eisenstein filed bankruptcy. Which was not permitted. Again from the article above:

With bankruptcy off the table, a Cook County judge acknowledged the practice’s claim of insolvency, consolidated the $30 million verdict, five remaining malpractice cases and two civil fraud cases and ordered mediation.

Last July, the judge approved a $1.275 million settlement that Homefirst must divide among six families over seven years. Eisenstein’s practice made the first $100,000 payment last September, four months before he opened the autism clinic.

It appears that the $1.275M settlement noted above is the topic of a battle ongoing in the current bankruptcy filing by Dr. Eisenstein. Per the complaint:

The aggregate Settlement Amount of $1,275,000 represents a small fraction of the total of claims by the Personal Injury Plaintiffs, some of which had reached verdict and judgment.

In other words, it appears Mayer Eisenstein wasn’t allowed to avoid payment by filing bankruptcy, but he did reduce the payments dramatically. The settlement also included a payment schedule. The families claim that four annual payments for a total of $430,000 were made, then the payments stopped after 2011. They claimed (as of August 2013):

Installments to Be Paid on or Before: Amount

September 22, 2012 (not paid when due). . . . . . . . . . . . $ 140,000.00

September 22, 2013 (not yet due). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $ 150,000.00

September 22, 2014 (not yet due). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $ 160,000.00

September 22, 2015 (not yet due). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $ 395,000.00

Total due and unpaid and to become due $ 845,000.00

Per the docket, the case was scheduled to go to hearing last month.

In short, it appears that a multiple families were injured by Mayer Eisenstein and/or member of his practice. They sought and were granted damages, only to have Dr. Eisenstein negotiate those down in a 2004 bankruptcy filing. Dr. Eisenstein made some payments, but then stopped. And he now appears to be trying to avoid further payments as part of his new bankruptcy filing, which the families are fighting. Again.

Why, one might ask, didn’t the families get some secutity pledged to cover the settlement should Dr. Eisenstien stop payments? Seems a reasonable thing to do. The answer is they did. It appears that the property he pledged as security was not under Mayer Eisenstien’s control. In other words, when the families sought to get the property in lieu of the payments, they found that Dr. Eisenstein (who holds a law degree in addition to his medical credentials) couldn’t directly hand it over.

The records of the Office of the Recorder of Deeds of Cook County, Illinois disclose the following transactions for the property at 1101 Dodge, Evanston, Illinois, PIN 10-24-

208-032-0000:

(a) Karen Eisenstein (Mayer Eisenstein, M.D.’s spouse) took title by a deed recorded on April 29, 2002 as document number 0020384408.

(b) Karen Eisenstein transferred title to North Star Trust Co. Tr. # 36189 by a deed in trust recorded on June 11, 2003 as document number 0316239026.

25. Paragraph 6 of the Circuit Court order of July 12, 2008 further provides:

“6. Plaintiffs are to have secured creditor status in the event of an applicable bankruptcy filing.”

So, it would appear that Mayer Eisenstein pledged a property as security for the settlement—a property which he had transferred to his wife in 2002 and which she had transferred to a trust company, in 2003. In other words, to this layman, it appears that at the time he put the property up, it was effectively shielded from actually being used as security.

Another question that one would reasonably ask is why weren’t these claims paid by malpractice insurance? That gets very convoluted, but the original settlement agreement included the statment

“I. Defendants in this matter affirm that they do not have any liability insurance coverage for any of the claims of the remaining plaintiffs.”


Defendants would be Mayer Eisenstein and his practice. And here is where it gets convoluted. The current complaint states

45. At one of the meetings pursuant to Section 341 of the Bankruptcy Code, Mayer Eisenstein, M.D. stated that from time to time he has malpractice insurance to allow him to be on staff at an area hospital.

46. At that same meeting, Mayer Eisenstein, M.D. stated that he did not submit any of the claims to that malpractice insurance carrier, because, as he claimed, if he had the insurance would have been cancelled, and he could no longer use the hospital

47. If Mayer Eisenstein, M.D. had medical malpractice insurance coverage in place at a time when the claims or one or more of the Personal Injury Plaintiffs cases arose, then the
statement was false.

Maybe he didn’t have insurance. Maybe he did and didn’t submit the claims.

Let’s take a look back at the Chicago Tribune article. In addition to discussing the Lupron clinic Dr. Eisenstein set up, it also discusses his history with insurance:

He also dabbled in group health plan sales to Illinois families but tangled with state insurance regulators in the mid- to late 1990s. Regulators warned consumers in a newsletter that Eisenstein “continued to illegally market” the Homefirst Health Plan, based in the British Virgin Islands, even after they told him the plan was ineligible. Despite this, he continued selling the plan, records show, and they ordered him to “cease and desist.”

In an interview, Eisenstein said he was offering a “fraternal health plan,” not traditional health insurance, so he said he didn’t have to listen to regulators. He no longer sells health plans.

And, later:

After Nathan Howey’s death, Weiss Hospital sued Homefirst, Rosi and Eisenstein for fraud, alleging they misrepresented their Caribbean-based malpractice policy. Eisenstein testified that he was in St. Kitts helping one of his daughters, a veterinary student there, buy a condo when the lawyer who helped arrange the sale told Eisenstein he also sold malpractice insurance.
“I was tickled pink to get insurance,” he said under oath.

A Cook County judge called it an “improperly underwritten insurance plan.” Eisenstein, who says the policy is legitimate, agreed to pay Weiss $50,000 after mediation.

Yes, “tickled pink” to get insurance. From a Caribbean island real estate/insurance salesman.

For those interested, here are some of the documents from the case discussed above.

Case 13-01050, lawsuit

Exhibit A

Exhibit B


By Matt Carey

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