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Posts Tagged ‘was’

Autism-vaccine study was a ‘fraud’, journal says

In Uncategorized on January 8, 2011 at 4:14 am

A study that unleashed a major health scare by linking autism to a triple vaccine was “an elaborate fraud,” the British Medical Journal (BMJ) charged Thursday.

Blamed for a disastrous boycott of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine for children, the 1998 study was retracted by The Lancet last year.

Hundreds of thousands of children in Britain are now unshielded against these three diseases, said the BMJ.

In 2008, measles was declared endemic, or present in the wider population much like chicken pox, in England and Wales.

File photo shows a boy with autism at a Special Education and Training Center in Chengdu, China

After a long-running hearing by the General Medical Council, the study’s senior author, Andrew Wakefield was barred from medical practice in 2010 for conflict of interest and the unethical treatment of patients involved in the research.

But the BMJ, taking the affair further, on Thursday branded the study a crafted attempt to deceive, among the gravest of charges in medical research.

The findings had been skewed in advance, as the patients had been recruited via campaigners opposed to the MMR vaccine, the journal added.

And, said the BMJ, Wakefield had been confidentially paid hundreds of thousands of pounds (dollars, euros) through a law firm under plans to launch “class action” litigation against the vaccine.

“The paper was in fact an elaborate fraud,” the BMJ said in an editorial, adding: “There are hard lessons for many in this highly damaging saga.”

It pointed the finger at Wakefield, then a consultant in experimental gastro-enterology at London’s Royal Free Hospital.

Wakefield and his team suggested they had found a “new syndrome” of autism and bowel disease among 12 children.

They linked it to the MMR vaccine, which they said had been administered to eight of the youngsters shortly before the symptoms emerged.

Other scientists swiftly cautioned the study was only among a tiny group, without a comparative “control” sample, and the dating of when symptoms surfaced was based on parental recall, which is notoriously unreliable. Its results have never been replicated.

The controversy unleashed a widespread parental boycott of the jab in Britain, and unease reverberated also in the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

The BMJ, delving into the accuracy of the study as opposed to its ethics, said Sunday Times investigative journalist Brian Deer had “unearthed clear evidence of falsification”.

Not one of the 12 cases, as reported in the study, tallied fully with the children’s official medical records, it charged.

Some diagnoses had been misrepresented and dates faked in order to draw a convenient link with the MMR jab, it said.

Of nine children described by Wakefield as having “regressive autism,” only one clearly had this condition and three were not even diagnosed with autism at all, it said.

Deer, in a separate piece published by the BMJ, compared the scandal with the “Piltdown Man” hoax of 1953, when a supposed fossil of a creature half-man, half-ape turned out to be a fake.

The Wakefield study “was a fraud, moreover, of more than academic vanity. It unleashed fear, parental guilt, costly government intervention and outbreaks of infectious disease,” he said.

Wakefield, who still retains a vocal band of supporters, has reportedly left Britain to work in the United States.

Wakefield and his publishing agent did not respond to calls and emails from AFP requesting comment.

Wakefield has previously accused Britain’s General Medical Council (GMC) of seeking to “discredit and silence” him and shield the British government from responsibility in what he calls a “scandal.”

The Lancet told AFP it would not comment on the BMJ accusations.

Autism is the term for an array of conditions ranging from poor social interaction to repetitive behaviours and entrenched silence. The condition is rare, predominantly affecting boys, although its causes are fiercely debated.

Source: SGGP

Iranian scientist was CIA asset inside Iran for years: NYT

In Uncategorized on July 16, 2010 at 8:46 am

WASHINGTON, July 16, 2010 (AFP) – The Iranian scientist who spent 14 months in the United States in mysterious circumstances had been a CIA informant inside Iran for years, The New York Times reported Friday.

“Shahram Amiri described to American intelligence officers details of how a university in Tehran became the covert headquarters for the country’s nuclear efforts,” the report said citing unnamed US officials.

“While still in Iran, he was also one of the sources for a much-disputed National Intelligence Estimate on Iran’s suspected weapons program, published in 2007,” it further cited the officials as saying.

Indeed it was “for several years” that “Amiri provided what one official described as ‘significant, original’ information about secret aspects of his country’s nuclear program,” the US officials were quoted as saying.

Iranian scientist Shahram Amiri is welcomed by family members upon his arrival at Imam Khomeini Airport in Tehran on July 15. AFP

Amiri, repeating his claims he had been abducted by US spies, told reporters at Tehran airport that not only did he have nothing to do with Iran’s controversial nuclear programme, he had also resisted US pressure to tell the media that he was a well-informed atomic scientist.

He said his captors wanted him to tell the US media that he had “defected on his own and was carrying important documents and a laptop which contained classified secrets of Iran’s military nuclear programme.”

“But with God’s will, I resisted,” Amiri said, soon after being welcomed at Tehran airport by his tearful son and overjoyed wife.

Amiri, who vanished from Saudi Arabia in June 2009 while on a pilgrimage, surfaced in Iran’s Interests Section in Washington two days ago.

He jetted out of Washington on Wednesday after US officials insisted he had arrived in the United States on his own free will and that there was nothing stopping him from leaving.

He insisted on his arrival in Tehran that he was a “simple researcher” and not involved in Iran’s nuclear programme, which world powers believe masks an atomic weapons drive despite continued Iranian denials.

“I had nothing to do with the Natanz and Fordo sites,” Amiri said, referring to Iran’s two uranium enrichment plants.

“It was a tool the US government brought up for political pressure,” he said, referring to reports he was a nuclear scientist.

“I have done no research on nuclear. I am a simple researcher who works in a university which is open to all and there is no secret work happening there.”

Source: SGGP

Qatari flight scare diplomat was on Al-Qaeda visit: official

In Uncategorized on April 9, 2010 at 8:50 am

A Qatari diplomat who sparked a national security scare by joking about setting fire to his shoe on a flight to Denver was on his way to visit an imprisoned Al-Qaeda conspirator, officials said.

Qatari diplomat Mohammed Yacoub Al Madadi from the Embassy of the State of Qatar is pictured in Washington, DC, in this recent photograph taken on March, 25, 2010.

Mohammed al-Modadi, 27, the third secretary and vice consul of the Qatari embassy in Washington, was being released without charge after the incident Wednesday on a United Airlines flight from Washington, DC to Denver.

In a post-script to the bizarre incident, a State Department spokesman said Modadi was traveling to Denver to make a consular visit to a Qatari national being held in a Colorado prison.

US media reports identified the prisoner as Ali al-Marri, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy last year in connection with the September 11 attacks on the United States.

Modadi set off alarm bells during the flight to Denver after sneaking a smoke in the bathroom and then, when confronted, joking that he was lighting his shoes.

His comments raised fears of a repeat of the 2001 “shoe bomber” incident in which British national Richard Reid tried to blow up an airliner using explosives hidden in his shoe.

An air marshal wrestled the diplomat to the floor, the pilot declared an emergency, two F-16 fighters were scrambled and intercepted the airliner, and top White House officials briefed President Barack Obama, who was en route to Prague to sign a nuclear weapons reduction treaty with Russia.

Later officials said there were no explosives on the plane and it was all a misunderstanding.

“It’s expected that he’s going to be turned over today to Qatari officials. I don’t know if he’s still with the FBI or if he’s been turned over to the Qatari officials yet,” a law enforcement official told AFP Thursday.

The source, who asked not to be named, said that even though smoking in airplane restrooms is a federal crime under US law, the diplomat is not likely to be prosecuted.

“He has diplomatic immunity. If he was a US citizen, that’s a violation, but he does have diplomatic immunity,” the official said. “Only a foreign government can lift the immunity.”

The State Department said Thursday it expected a quick diplomatic solution to the affair, adding US authorities had been in close contact with Qatar’s ambassador.

“We are satisfied with the seriousness by which they take what has occurred. That’s why we have confidence that this will be resolved very quickly,” spokesman Philip Crowley told reporters.

A US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, hinted Modadi would soon be sent home. “His ability to function effectively has been significantly compromised,” the official said.

Qatar’s ambassador to Washington Ali Bin Fajad al-Hajari said in a statement the diplomat had been traveling to Denver on official embassy business.

“He was certainly not engaged in any threatening activity,” the ambassador said. “The facts will reveal that this was a mistake, and we urge all concerned parties to avoid reckless judgments or speculation.”

The reaction to Modadi’s actions appeared to have been prompted by fears of a possible repeat of the foiled Christmas Day bombing, when a Nigerian passenger tried to blow up a plane by igniting an explosive secreted in his underwear.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano praised the swift actions of the air marshals.

“We always treat security-related incidents seriously until verified otherwise, and thankfully this incident posed no actual security threat,” she said.


Source: SGGP