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Financial documents for the Canary Party

12 Jul

There seems to be a large number of groups promoting the idea that vaccines cause autism. A large number of groups who share the same principle members. SafeMinds, the National Autism Association, Generation Rescue and others come to mind. A few years ago, another group was formed, this time as a political party: the Canary Party.

The Canary Party is not a charity, so they do not file form 990′s with the IRS. They appear to not be a national political party a they are not listed with the FEC. Recently, a commenter at the Respecful Insolence blog (Narad)found that the Canary Party is organized in Minnesota and files their financial reports there.

Forms have been filed for 2011 and 2012.

The Canary Party pulled in $72,000 in 2011 and $49,000 in 2012. The major contributors are (assuming I did my sums correctly):

2011:

Jennifer Larson (Canary Party President), $40,665
Mark Blaxill (Canary Party Chairman), $15,000

2012:

Barry Segal (founder of Focus Autism): $30,000
Mark Blaxill (Canary Party Chairman), $10,000

The largest expense is for a “media consultant”, Jennifer Taylor (apparently Ginger Taylor, a blogger).

$36,600 in 2011
$9,000 in 2012

Plus many expenses for advertising and other promotional expenses.

In 2012, travel became a larger expense. For example:

On January 26, 2012, $3,399.79 for expenses with Hyatt/Four-Seasons/Hyatt
(February 2nd 2012 was the date of the “Health Freedom Expo”, where other expenses were incurred)

On February 2, 2012, $1,841.43 for expenses with Hyatt/Ritz

It’s difficult from this to tell how many people were lodged at these hotels for these dates. One expense seems more clear: On 6/15/2012, expenses attributed to Canary Party president Jennifer Larson amounted to $1,541.42 for another Health Freedom Expo hotel stay, this time at the Hilton. Health Freedom Expos are typically 3 day events.

On 10/22/2012 the party hosted a convention, with apparently a tab of $11,382.02 for Hotel/Beverages/Hotel Fees.

Nothing particularly interesting. 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.


Matt Carey

Gluyas v Best: autistic blogger wins defamation suit

16 Feb

Long time readers of this site may recall the name John Best. Mr. Best was a very active participant on online discussions, including this blog. Mr. Best is a staunch believer in the notion that autism is mercury poisoning and that chelation is the cure.

Over time Mr. Best’s activities have, in my opinion, increasingly focused on attacking people. For example, Phil Gluyas, an Australian autistic blogger.

Examples of blog posts Mr. Best has published include:

“Is Phil Gluyas the next Adam Lanza?”
“Phil Gluyas’ history of brutality”
“Severely deranged mental case sues me again”

For those familiar with John Best, a defamation case is not surprising. For those who are not familiar with Mr. Best, count yourself lucky.

The judge found in favor of Mr. Gluyas:

The defendant’s responses to the plaintiff’s views have gone well beyond the bounds of ordinary discussion and intellectual debate. The items posted by the defendant on the internet, concerning the plaintiff, contain an extraordinary level of invective and personal denigration, which, in some measure, have been repeated in two letters which he has forwarded to the court in response to the proceedings served on him.

and Mr. Best did not argue that his statements are true:

Taken together, the article, and the imputations to be derived from them, are highly defamatory of the plaintiff. Again, the defendant has not sought to plead and prove the truth of any of those allegations. As such, each of the allegations by him about the plaintiff are false.

This, and much more, led to Mr. Best losing the defamation suit. Instead of the originally requested $10,000, the judge awarded $50,000. With a comment that he could have gone even higher:

Taking into account the foregoing considerations, I consider that it is appropriate to award the plaintiff the sum of $50,000 damages to compensate him for the publications made by the defendant of the plaintiff in Victoria. I should add that, if I had been satisfied that the publication in Victoria of the items, of which the plaintiff complained, had been more widespread than that proven in the evidence, I would have awarded the plaintiff a considerably larger sum of damages

I fear that the ability of someone finding Mr. Best capable of paying anything, much less $50,000, is slim. Accomplishing that from Australia might be even more difficult. It is an attempt to get blood from a turnip. But, Mr. Gluyas has been awarded the right to draw blood from this turnip and that alone is a victory.

There is room to be critical of the actions of others online. John Best crossed that line. To quote the TV show “Friends”, “you’re so far past the line that you can’t even see the line! The line is a dot to you!”


By Matt Carey

A Decade of Left Brain/Right Brain

1 Jan

2013 marks the 10 year mark for Left Brain/Right Brain. The blog actually started in June, as I recall, but June of 2003. The blog started out as a place for Kev Leitch to write about his life and his work. Most of his writing about his life was about events pertaining to his autistic child. I found the blog a few years later and it had already evolved significantly from its early days. It has evolved since then as well.

In a time when the online and public discussion was dominated by groups of parents willing to characterize autistics as “train wrecks” and “empty shells” who had “descended into the hell of autism”, Kev stood up to counter the message. Kev put together the autism hub to band together autistics and allies who were writing from a perspective of respect. Kev hosted an online forum and at one point this blog was home to about 10 writers, autistic and allies.

Kev has moved on to other ventures. I wish him well. He did a lot of good here.


By Matt Carey

Autism center sues over blog posts calling it a fraud and worse

7 Sep

The idea that an autism center would sue over blog posts is the sort of story that would, of course, attract my attention. But when I saw the blurb for Autism center sues over blog posts calling it a fraud and worse I was taken back to the before time of autism blogging.

Here’s what I read:

Autism Intervention Specialists of Worcester and principal Nassim Aoude today filed a federal libel suit against a New Hampshire man who says it pedals “horseshit” because it refuses to accept his theory that autism is caused by mercury in…

For those who have been online for a few years, guessing the identity of the “New Hampshire man who says it pedals “horseshit” “, especially readers of this blog, making the ID would probably be easy. Here’s a bit from the story:

Autism Intervention Specialists of Worcester and principal Nassim Aoude today filed a federal libel suit against a New Hampshire man who says it pedals “horseshit” because it refuses to accept his theory that autism is caused by mercury in vaccines.

In its suit, filed in US District Court in Boston, Autism Intervention Specialists wants John Best’s blog posts about it replaced with retractions and a suitably large, if unspecified, amount of damages.

John Best was one of the early generation of Generation Rescue’s “Rescue Angels” but even GR wanted distance from him. Mr. Best attacked a number of people online in years past. Autism Intervention Specialists is neither the first nor the last to be attacked.

I am a bit conflicted about this lawsuit. Freedom of speech is very important to me (even outside of writing). Autism Intervention Specialists may be in for a mini Streisand Effect. Aside from the fact that recovering damages from Mr. Best is unlikely at best, AIS should read Mr. Best’s writing and his YouTube videos and ask whether any reasonable person would give Mr. Best any credibility whatsoever.

A brave parent speaks: How I Made a Mistake and Was Given The Opportunity to Say I’m Sorry

12 Jun

Over at Emma’s Hope Book a mother has done something very brave: made a public apology for a mistake.

How I Made a Mistake and Was Given The Opportunity to Say I’m Sorry

She starts by quoting her daughter:

“You put the toast in the basement. That made me sad.” Emma stared at me expectantly.

I drew in a breath. My chest felt tight. I knew exactly what she was referring to. We’ve had similar conversations, but she’s never said it so directly.

The article is sad but wonderful. I can’t pull excerpts without destroying the beauty of the story, so I urge you to follow the link and read the rest.

The Autism Vaccine Controversy and the Need for Responsible Science Journalism

7 Jan

The Huffington Post has a new section on science. One of the first articles discusses the “Autism Vaccine Controversy”. In The Autism Vaccine Controversy and the Need for Responsible Science Journalism, Seth Mnookin starts out:

Earlier this week, The Panic Virus, my book on the controversy over vaccines and autism, was released in paperback. While there haven’t been many scientific advances in this particular issue since the hardcover edition was published — the evidence supporting vaccines’ paramount place in public health efforts and the total lack of corroboration supporting a causal connection between vaccines and autism remain as strong today as they were a year ago — there have been new developments in the story. Their coverage highlights an enduring passion of mine: The need for reliable, responsible science journalism.

Yes, Seth Mnookin, author of The Panic Virus, is writing for the Huffington Post, a site which has contributed greatly to misinformation about vaccines and autism. The Huffington Post has been home to David Kirby (who was a major promoter of the mercury/autism concept) as well as welcoming input from Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey, to name but a few of the poor choices for writers the Post engaged.

On PLoS blogs, Mr. Mnookin announced this new gig with Has the Huffington Post embraced science & closed the door on anti-vaccine quackery? We can hope. I wouldn’t place any bets on it though.

Five years ago…

1 Sep

Left Brain/Right Brain has been around since 2003. Yesterday I thought to myself: I wonder what a look back would tell us. Say, 5 years? To summarize: it tells us that things move slowly.

Some of the faces have changed over the years. For example: I wasn’t writing then but Autism Diva was. Some regular commenters have moved on. Some new ones have joined. David Kirby (author of Evidence of Harm), Rick Rollens (California Lobbyist) and others were frequently in the news and now they are rarely heard from.

But, in the end, many things stay the same:

In Autism Diva: Kelloggs Just Trying To Help , Kev pointed to a post by Autism Diva who was discussing an awareness program by Autism Speaks where AS was getting their name on cereal boxes.

I seem to recall being critical of Autism Speaks just recently…

In Dr David Ayoub – Hidden Agenda and Stone Cold Certainty we see Dr. Ayoub, a vocal proponent of the idea that vaccines cause autism. This was about the time when people were discovering that Dr. Ayoub had some interesting beliefs. He was posing “difficult questions” like “2) Is there evidence that vaccines can deliver antifertility products? Have they been used?” and “3) Does thimerosal fulfill criteria as an antipopulation agent?”. This as well as some other odd ideas, as discussed in David Ayoub, Black Helicopters and Social Movement.

Years later, even after this, Dr. Ayoub still pops up from time to time (for example, on mercola.com last year).

In, “Its The Mercury, Stupid! No Wait!“, Kev was discussing people were predicting a drop in the autism counts which were then published quarterly by the California Department of Developmental Services (CDDS).

He quoted David Kirby:

[Kirby] “Stay tuned. If the numbers in California and elsewhere continue to drop – and that still is a big if—the implication of thimerosal in the autism epidemic will be practically undeniable.”

So, now that we know that they never dropped is the opposite ‘practically undeniable’?

Let’s not forget what David Kirby told Citizen Cain:

“if the total number of 3-5 year olds in the California DDS system has not declined by 2007, that would deal a severe blow to the autism-thimerosal hypothesis”

The drop didn’t happen. The goalposts moved. The mercury idea lost some momentum but, unfortunately, still lives on despite evidence.

In “A Blogging Catch Up” Kev discusses the “Rain Mouse” study (a study claiming autistic behaviors in mice injected with thimerosal. The MIND Institute tried to replicate the study later and found they could not, even with much higher doses of thimerosal). Also in the “catch-up” was the revelation by Kathleen Seidel of some of the misdeeds of the Geier’s. This included the fact that they had failed to obtain appropriate IRB approval for one of their studies. 5 years later and they are just now facing some disciplinary action for the way they’ve conducted their business.

Like I said. Some things move slowly. Sure, the “autism is nothing but a misdiagnosis for mercury poisoning” idea has mostly (mostly) gone by the wayside. I often read people writing, “Is this the end of autism/vaccine idea?”. The idea has certainly lost momentum. I doubt it will die in my lifetime.

Thankfully, it wasn’t all vaccines (then or now). In Calling all autistic college students, Kev set out to help an organization trying to gather information about autistics in college.

Pseudonymous blogging at Science Blogs is over

23 Aug

DrugMonkey over at Science blogs reports that the new owners of Science Blogs will not allow for anonymous/pseudonymous blogging in the future. In Pseudonymous blogging at Science Blogs is over he/she writes:

I have just been informed that ScienceBlogs will no longer be hosting anonymous or pseudonymous bloggers. In case you are interested, despite extensive communication from many of us as to why we blog under pseudonyms, I have not been given any rationale or reason for this move. Particularly, no rationale or reason that responds to the many valid points raised by the pseudonymous folks.

The blog Confessions of a Science Librarian also chimes in: Friday No Fun: Pseudonymous blogging no longer allowed at ScienceBlogs?

This is very problematic for me. The ability to speak freely and without fear of reprisal is the foundation and necessity of pseudonymous blogging. These bloggers work long and hard to establish the credibility and reliability of their online identities and shouldn’t be punished or banished because of it.

Science Blogs is now owned by the National Geographic Society. They have hosted anonymous articles on their own site (e.g. WHAT’S THE WORLD’S DEEPEST, DARKEST, DENSEST JUNGLE?). ScienceBlogs is now their property, and they can set the rules. I would hope that they would reconsider this, though. I prefer quality over non-anonymous information, frankly. The worst information I can find on the net, especially blogs, has names attached. Some excellent work has been produced under a pseudonym.

What I did with your money

18 May

Now LBRB is successfully moved (with a few little bits of tidying needed her and there) I need to tell you what I did with the nearly $1000 so generously donated.

First and foremost of course I bought some new hosting. I think you’ll agree that the site feels much faster and slicker as a result of the move. Gone is the churning away and (hopefully) gone is the CPU throttling.

However, I did have some money left over so I decided that as you all had been so generous that the right thing to do was pay it forward. In that spirit I split the remaining money into three parts and donated thusly:

The Autism Science Foundation – A good deal of LBRB contributors and visitors are American so to donate to a science based autism foundation in the States seemed like a good idea. ASF do not place _any_ research monies into the blind alley of vaccines.

National Autistic Society is the UK’s leading autism charity, giving an actual voice to actual autistic people is vital and the NAS do this better than anyone else in my opinion.

Speur Ghlan are a small, recently incorporated charity based in the land of my fathers – Scotland. I know the founder well and am constantly impressed at her drive and enthusiasm for her subject matter.

The amounts involved were not huge obviously but I hope that I’ve managed to meet with your approval both in choice and reasons for choice.

Thank you once again for your generous donations to get LBRB a better home. I hope I can repay you with years more quality blogging from Sullivan and the odd bit of snark from me ;)

New hosting environment – occassional weirdness

17 May

Hi folks,

Thanks to your extreme kindness, LBRB has been able to move to a much better hosting environment :)

However, as we’re moving _right now_ you’re going to see some oddness. Posts are going to disappear as will some comments. Hopefully we’ll be able to reinstate them ASAP but please bear with me whilst I get it all ship shape and bristol fashion.

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