Google Aids Mexico in Tracking Swine Flu
By - May 02, 2009

Google has released a new version of its Flu Trends service that is tailored for Mexico in the hope of helping health officials and others track the spread of swine flu in that country. Google said Wednesday that it had created the new version of Flu Trends at the suggestion of scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States. Google said that it had experienced an increase in flu-related queries in Mexico around April 20, suggesting that the service was accurately detecting the spread of swine flu. … Dr. Henry L. Niman, a biochemist in Pittsburgh who runs Recombinomics, a Web site that tracks the genetics of flu cases worldwide, said that Google's service appeared to provide only limited advance warning. "I am not saying that it is not useful. It probably works to complement other sources of surveillance and data," he said. – Gainesville Times

Dominant Social Theme: Catastrophe, as predicted.

Free-Market Analysis: Letters. We get letters, including one from a friendly reader who is obviously concerned about swine flu and emails us several links featuring Henry Niman (featured in the quote above) who has been predicting a plague of massive proportion for years.

Well … we have been trying to avoid reading (or writing) about Niman (again) because he has the inevitability of a broken record. But since he has such a high profile on the 'Net, and is so very quotable, we suppose we should rehash his background for readers of the Daily Bell. If they are avid Internet trollers, they will surely run into his byline. If they believe all they read, they will surely shoot themselves. But maybe they shouldn't.

Here is a bio excerpt or Mr. Niman:

He is the Founder and President of Recombinomics. … He took a postdoctoral position at SCRIPPS CLINIC AND RESEARCH FOUNDATION where he developed monoclonal antibody technology. He fused monoclonal antibody and synthetic peptide technologies and accepted a staff position at Scripps. … Dr. Niman subsequently identified protein expression patterns at the University of Pittsburgh. More recently, he became interested in infectious diseases while at Harvard Medical School. He then founded Recombinomics and discovered how viruses rapidly evolve.

Scripps, the place where young Niman got his start, has an interesting "back story" to say the least. It is in the forefront of Green research and through its Scripps Institution of Oceanography claimed not long ago to have found the "smoking gun" of global warming – though the claim was subsequently questioned as a statistical muddle.

The beginnings of the various Scripps eleemosynary activities are perhaps the most interesting. One of the founders of Scripps was Ellen Browning Scripps (1836-1932) the UPI (United Press Iternational) heiress. She was a self-made woman who contributed to the affairs of her entrepreneurial brother George who built a great newspaper empire and founded UPI. He died earlier than Ellen and left her a large bequest. She spent the rest of her life managing her twin fortunes and gave away considerable money to charity.

Childless and unmarried, she was most active in the nascent women's movement and ultimately became involved in the big, American, pre-war eugenics movement – one that was unfortunately implemented to some degree later on by German leaders during the war. By 1930, she was part of an organized group called the American Eugenics Society. It's hard to find a lot about the AES today, but fortunately there is the Internet. We learn through a link to Watchman Bible Study (unsourced) that Ellen Browning Scripps was in good company when it came to membership in this organization, as follows:

In 1930 in New York, many of the wealthiest people in the world were members of the American Eugenics Society. They did not all provide funds for major eugenics initiatives, but their support certainly opened doors. It does not hurt an organization financially if its membership includes: J. P. Morgan, Jr., chairman, U. S. Steel, who handled British contracts in the United States for food and munitions during World War I; Mrs. Mary Duke Biddle, tobacco fortune heiress; Cleveland H. and Cleveland E. Dodge and their wives, who used some of the huge fortune that Phelps Dodge & Company made on copper mines and other metals to support eugenics; Robert Garrett, whose family had amassed a fortune through banking in Maryland and the B&O railroad, who helped finance two international eugenics congresses; Miss E. B. Scripps, whose wealth came from United Press (later UPI); Dorothy H. Brush, Planned Parenthood activist, whose wealth came from Charles Francis Brush (1849-1929), who invented the arc lamp for street lights and founded the Brush Electric Company; Margaret Sanger, who used the wealth of one of one of her husbands, Noah Slee, to promote her work. Slee made his fortune from the familiar household product, 3-in-One Oil.

Other members of the eugenics movement included Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919), Edward Henry Harriman (1848-1909), John Davison Rockefeller (1839-1937), Henry Ford (1863-1947) and cereal magnate John Harvey Kellogg, M.D. Here's what has to say about the American Eugenics Society in an amply footnoted profile:

In pursuit of their social agenda, the eugenics movement adopted two faces, a 'positive' one, which concentrated on exhorting the genetically gifted to reproduce, and a 'negative' one, which sought to prevent the defective from breeding. From 1900 on, the movement found a receptive ear in state legislatures, as it did in Washington, and it exerted a profound influence on American public policy. By the 1930s, most states had passed eugenical laws authorizing the sterilization of 'defectives,' and in an infamous decision, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed such laws were constitutional. Eugenical lobbying also contributed to the powerful anti-immigration movement of the 1910s and 1920s, using their scientific studies to support the claim that non-whites and immigrants were inferior to native-born white Americans in intelligence, physical condition, and moral stature. Even though the meticulous studies of Franz Boas, H.S. Jennings, and others amply demonstrated the failure of eugenical methodology and the falsity of their claims, the eugenical tide continued to swell. Only after the Second World War, when the horrific results of the Nazi eugenic program became fully evident, did the movement lose steam. Though much smaller in scope, it continues today.

Here's what Wikipedia has to say about Margaret Sanger:

Margaret Higgins Sanger Slee (September 14, 1879 – September 6, 1966) was an American birth control activist and the founder of the American Birth Control League (which eventually became Planned Parenthood). Although she initially met with opposition, Sanger gradually won some support for getting women access to contraception. In her drive to promote contraception and negative eugenics, Sanger remains a controversial figure. [At certain times in her life, Sanger apparently espoused the following beliefs]: … To keep the doors of immigration closed to the entrance of certain aliens whose condition is known to be detrimental to the stamina of the race, such as feebleminded, idiots, morons, insane, syphilitic, epileptic, criminal, professional prostitutes, and others in this class barred by the immigration laws of 1924; To apply a stern and rigid policy of sterilization and segregation to that grade of population whose progeny is already tainted or whose inheritance is such that objectionable traits may be transmitted to offspring; To insure the country against future burdens of maintenance for numerous offspring as may be born of feebleminded parents by pensioning all persons with transmissible disease who voluntarily consent to sterilization; To give certain dysgenic groups in our population their choice of segregation or sterilization; To apportion farm lands and homesteads for these segregated persons where they would be taught to work under competent instructors for the period of their entire lives.

All right, it is probably fair to say that Ellen Browning Scripps, a most wealthy and powerful woman, and one who was active in the woman's movement, was a colleague of Margaret Sanger, a wealthy woman in her own right. The two also obviously shared other interests, including an involvement in the eugenics movement.

And it is a stretch, but not a far one, to surmise that the current Scripps activities are still informed by at least a breath of the beliefs of founder Ellen Browning Scripps. We don't wish to imply that Scripps is a hotbed of modern eugenics and forced sterilization, etc, only that organizational culture is very hard to change and that whatever vision Ellen Scripps imparted to her various charitable entities probably still lingers even if there have been wholesale shifts in its operation, structure and mission. These beliefs may not manifest themselves directly or even influence the modern research of those who work at Scripps. However, we believe we can still see tinges, even obvious ones. It is certainly fair to say is that Scripps has been a major proponent of various apocalyptic scenarios involving the environment and, now, through its (apparently former) affiliation with Niman, a proponent of the seeming inevitability of a modern plague.

After Thoughts

Yes, Scripps is a virtual, or occasional, factory of doom-saying, especially when it comes to environmental affairs and "overpopulation." The implication of such messages is implicit, as well: THERE ARE TOO MANY PEOPLE ON THE PLANET AND SOMETHING BAD IS GOING TO HAPPEN. Seen in this context, Niman's messages are more convenient than surprising. Now we are sure we shall hear and read more about Niman in the coming months. This is his time to shine, even to dazzle. Look for his quotes and byline.

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