Sunday, October 21, 2007

Memory Hole (21 October): What else happened?

Scientific Misconduct Blog Memory Hole: Events of October the 21st

48 years ago today: Operation Paperclip and government expediency

On 21 October 1959 President Eisenhower signed an order transferring Wernher von Braun and other ex-Nazi German scientists from the US Army to NASA. Operation Paperclip was the secret project to extract Nazi German scientists out of prosecution for warcrimes and into the US military. von Braun was key in the production of 6000 V-2 rockets 500 of which hit London. 20,000 slaves died during V-2 production - "you could see piles of prisoners every day who had not survived the workload" - during his frequent attendance "Prof. Wernher von Braun never once protested against this cruelty and brutality" [ref]. This entry is here because it relates to the wartime operation of scientists and the role of government in a democracy.
Source: Hunt,L "U.S. Coverup of Nazi Scientists" Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. April, 1985

9 years ago today: Anonymous letters feature in a key scandal

On 21 October 1998 a senior academic in Toronto wrote this anonymous letter. It was one of several. Who was he and what did this have to do with a key academic freedom scandal?

Read on here: Anonymous threats in Toronto

2 years ago today: The Karasik conspiracy

On 21 October 2005 the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), the discredited American Pharmaceutical trade lobby group, admitted that they paid a publisher to have a thriller written about Croatian terrorists using Canadian pharmacy websites to slaughter millions of Americans. Jayson Blair working for Phoenix Books, was tasked with editing this book, called "The Karasik Conspiracy."

The goal was supposedly "to scare Americans into opposing any amendment to existing legislation" that formally bans the import of low-cost prescriptions from Canada.

PHRMA also made several editorial suggestions. "They said they wanted it somewhat dumbed down for women, with a lot more fluff in it, and more about the wife of the head Croatian terrorist, who is a former Miss Mexico," one of the authors told the newspaper. Apparently, women are among the most loyal buyers of Canadian drugs.

When the project fell through, PhRMA apparently offered $100,000 to the co-authors and publisher in a vain effort to shut it down. The authors went ahead anyway, writing a book of the same name about a drug company that funds a terrorist attack.

And PhRMA expect to get taken seriously. They also feature as apologists by proxy in the little saga of a bone drug, in which PhRMA was cited as stating that according to their guidelines scientific authors should never never ever have access to the data about which they are writing. Well that's OK then.

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