Issue XCVI

21 OCT 2016

Today in History


20 Years Ago Today, Magic Johnson Made HIV Not Just a White Gay Male Disease


It was November 7, 1991. 3pm.

I was 8 years old, and just 6 miles away from the Great Western Forum where one of the greatest basketball players to ever live was announcing to the world that he had contracted the HIV-virus and was retiring from professional basketball.

When then-32 year old Johnson was making his announcement, in the eyes of the millions of viewers watching the press conference on television, he was also announcing he was dying.

In 1991, AIDS was the second leading cause of death among men 25-44 years of age. 

The first question at the press conference came from a reporter asking Johnson how he was doing emotionally as “mortality becomes more apparent.”

Johnson faced the room full of reporters less than 24-hours after getting his third and final confirmation that he tested positive. He didn’t believe the first two test results.

By facing the world and coming out as HIV-positive, Johnson changed the face of HIV and AIDS. HIV was not just a white gay man’s disease now.

Johnson was making these statements just a decade after the first incidence of the AIDS virus were identified by the Center for Disease Control—at a time when all people knew about HIV/AIDS was that people died from it.

Also of importance was the fact that Johnson made his announcement a year after Ryan White died. White had become well-known in the 1980’s by contracting HIV through a blood transfusion. He became a household name after not being allowed to go to school because his classmates and their parents were afraid they would contract the disease.

Johnson, however, put a different face to HIV. He showed that it could impact anyone.

The press conference also made a tremendous difference for the millions of men and women battling the stigma that came with the disease. Johnson, who smiled and maintained his composure throughout the press conference, had given people hope.

When a reporter asked if he was scared, Johnson immediately said that was wasn’t. “It’s another challenge, it’s another chapter in your life, it’s like your back is against the wall and you just have to keep on swinging,” he said.

And it’s a battle that those in power had largely abstained from up until that point. Johnson’s announcement did a whole lot more for HIV/AIDS awareness than former president Ronald Reagan, whose eight years in office coincided with the disease’s rapid spread...

Why is Magic Johnson healthy as a horse? HIV virus does NOT cause AIDS


I recently came across several articles commemorating the 20th anniversary of Magic Johnson’s HIV diagnosis. I still remember the screaming headlines in 1991, the abrupt termination of his NBA career at the height of his powers, and his subsequent and short-lived come back. 

One would have expected pictures of Magic, taken 20 years after this life-sentence diagnosis, to be a withered, shriveled version of his former self, his life force eaten away by this killer virus. 

But pictures of Magic show him to be as healthy as the proverbial horse. He’s considerably bulkier than he was in his playing days, and as the saying goes, seems quite comfortable in his own expanded skin. 

So why is Magic the picture of health 20 years after this supposedly terminal diagnosis? Easy: the HIV virus does NOT cause AIDS. Since, as one of the world’s leading virologists, Peter Duesberg of U.C. Berkeley, says, HIV is a “harmless passenger virus,” Magic is likely to carry HIV with him to the end of a long and healthy life.  

Duesberg wrote a bombshell book in 1996, Inventing the AIDS Virus, which exposes the myth of the so-called AIDS virus. 

(Dr. Duesberg was a guest earlier this week on my “Focal Point” radio program. You can view part 1 of my interview with him here and part 2 here.) 

Duesberg, who knows as much about how viruses work as any man alive, points out that the AIDS “epidemic” has not proceeded at all as viral epidemics always have and always will. He points out that viruses do their work soon after exposure, within 24-72 hours, at which point you get sick for a while, with the flu or whatever, and then you either die or get well. 

Viruses simply do not park in the system for 10-12 years and then suddenly spring to life to infect the host with a life-threatening disease, which is precisely the scenario HIV proponents advocate, making their view utterly unscientific and contrary to everything we know for a molecular fact about how viruses behave. 

There is a clear progression in viral epidemics, illustrated by the 1918 worldwide influenza outbreak. Since it was an infectious disease, triggered by the transmission of a virus, it exploded quickly, took millions of lives of both genders (instead of targeting males, as AIDS does), and then dropped sharply to pre-outbreak levels. A graph of the disease shows a very sharp and almost immediate spike,...


Nat Turner and the Slave Revolt


West of Hampton Roads and just above the Virginia and North Carolina border, Southampton County was the site of the largest slave revolt in United States history. Known under a variety of names, some of the more common ones being Nat Turner's Revolt or the Southampton Insurrection, the revolt was the work of Nat Turner, a slave who, as a Baptist preacher had earned the right to journey to nearby plantations. 

Turner admitted after the uprising that he had been well-treated by his master. He claimed that the revolt was the result of on-going visions, voices, and signals from God including a blueish color visible in the sun a week prior to the revolt and a solar eclipse earlier in the year. After eating dinner in the woods on the evening of Monday, August 21, Turner and 6 others went to the Travis Plantation (the home of Turner's current master) and killed the entire family of 5, including two children and an infant as they slept. 


It was then observed that I must spill the first blood. On which, armed with a hatchet, and accompanied by Will, I entered my master's chamber, it being dark, I could not give a death blow, the hatchet glanced from his head, he sprang from the bed and called his wife, it was his last word, Will laid him dead, with a blow of his axe, and Mrs. Travis shared the same fate, as she lay in bed.
Confession of Nat Turner

Leaving the Travis home, Turner and his followers struck other homes in the countryside, killing men, women and children. In bizarre rituals, bodies were mutilated and Turner anointed his followers with blood from the bodies. As he moved through the countryside he persuaded and coerced other slaves to join him. Reports of the numbers that actually joined range from 40 to 200, although Turner put the number at between 55 and 60 in his confession. 

By Tuesday morning word had spread and armed bands of white militia scoured the area looking for the rebellious slaves. The brutality of the whites easily matched that of their counterparts as they tortured and killed blacks regardless of their guilt or innocence. That day white militia twice met the slaves in battle, Fifty-three slaves were brought to trial, twenty of whom were hung for their participation in the crimes. 

Nat Turner avoided detection for two months, hiding out near the plantation of his former master. When he was finally captured, Southerners wanted to know if he had been inspired by the writings of Lloyd Garrison,...

November 5 1831 CE – Nat Turner is Sentenced to Death


Six weeks after leading the bloodiest slave rebellion in United States history, Nat Turner was convicted of “making insurrection” and sentenced to death on November 5, 1831. In the wake of the uprising, some in the young nation championed the antislavery cause with renewed vigor while others looked for ways to ensure blacks could be further controlled.


Turner grew up in Southampton County, on the farm of Benjamin Turner in southeastern Virginia. Regarded by many as having an exceptionally sharp mind, he learned to read as a young boy and developed a deep faith during long hours with his Bible. Referred to as “The Prophet” by fellow slaves, Turner acted as minister to his brethren working the fields and later reported frequent messages from God.

By the late 1820s, he felt he understood what his purpose was. Confiding in four close friends, Turner began laying out a plan for a slave rebellion in February 1831. Believing the Almighty confirmed his intentions, he set July 4th as the fateful day. Forced to postpone after coming down with an illness, a second solar eclipse in only nine months -- on August 13th -- gave Turner confidence the time had come for his uprising to “slay my enemies with their own weapons.”


Eight days later, Turner and his friends Henry, Hark, Nelson and Sam began moving from one farm to the next killing plantation owners and their families in order to free their fellow slaves. Before long, 60 white men, women and children were dead -- often victims of brutal attacks with knives, axes and blunt instruments. (Turner would later admit to killing a woman by hitting her in the head with a fence post.)


A militia gathered to end the rebellion, but the 70 blacks involved were essentially done wreaking havoc within a day or so. Turner had disappeared into the woods once the horror came to an end, with a journalist later writing “indiscriminate slaughter was not their intention after they attained a foothold, and was resorted to in the first instance to strike terror and alarm.”


The goal had been achieved, with rumors of similar revolts in Alabama and North Carolina -- but the white response pitted fire against fire. Angry citizens of eastern counties were joined by artillery companies from the US military, quickly moving into the countryside and killing blacks for upwards of two weeks for no reason other than the color of their skin.


After a two-month manhunt,...


Hungarian Uprising (1956)

The Hungarian Uprising began on 23 October 1956 when the working class took on and defeated the police and installed a new government, lasting 18 days before being crushed by Soviet tanks.

From the report by Peter Fryer, correspondent in Budapest for the British Communist Party’s Daily Worker:

‘It began with a students’ demonstration, partly to show the students’ sympathy for the people of Poland, who that weekend, through Gomulka and the Central Committee of the Polish United Workers Party, had resolutely rebuffed an attempt by an unprecedented delegation of Soviet leaders to get tough with them. ...

‘First Gero had gone on the wireless to make an address which, “poured oil on the flames”. He had called the demonstrators (now joined by workers from the factories, to which the students had sent delegations) counter-revolutionaries – “hostile elements” trying to disturb ‘the present political order in Hungary’...

‘Secondly, the crowds which had gathered outside the radio station to ask that students’ demands be broadcast were fired on by AVH men, 300 of whom were in the building. This was, without question, the spark that turned peaceful demonstrations into a revolution.

‘What had the students been demanding before the shooting at the radio station? First and foremost the replacement of Hegedus as Prime Minister by Imre Nagy. The election of a new Party leadership by a national congress. Friendship with the Soviet Union, but on the basis of equality. Withdrawal of Soviet troops from Hungary. Free elections. Freedom of the press. Academic freedom. The use of Hungary’s uranium stocks by Hungary herself’. [The Hungarian Tragedy, by Peter Fryer, 1956]

After arriving in Hungary Peter Fryer went to Magyarovar where a peaceful demonstration of 5,000, inspired by the events in Budapest, had marched to the AVH (political police) headquarters and demanded they remove the red star, symbol of the Soviet occupation. The AVH replied with a hail of machine gun fire, killing 80. The crowd went to the army barracks and demanded and received weapons and stormed and took the AVH headquarters.

Fryer was taken to meet the Revolutionary Committee in Magyarovar.

‘It had been set up after the events of the previous day, and was in continuous session, mainly organising food supplies and arranging contact with the similar committee at...

Hungary remembers 1956 Revolution against Soviet rule


Budapest  - On this day 57 years ago, on October 23, 1956, an uprising began against Soviet rule by Hungarian students, joined by workers, teachers, and people from all walks of life, as well as all political stripes from monarchists to Marxists.

Jenő Fónay of the Alliance for the Politically Condemned, or in Hungarian, POFOSZ, said no-one knew how many people died after the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 was crushed, but the names of 325 were known. However, he said the documents of many remain undiscovered so the actual number of those executed by the Soviets and the Hungarian Communists of János Kádár, starting in 1957, remained unknown.

So far, only one senior Communist leader has been charged in connection with the Uprising, also known as the Hungarian Revolution, while the post-Communist governments have been in power since the “regime change” of 1989.

András Schiffer MP, of the opposition It Can Be Different Party (LMP) said the struggle that began the 1956 Revolution, has still not been completed. Speaking at the New Public Cemetery’s 301 Parcel, where those executed are buried in a mass grave, he said the 1956 Uprising was at once a social revolution and a war for national liberation, however, the neither of these hopes were achieved in 1989.

The West happily calls in 1989 the “collapse of Communism” in Europe, but sadly, as Schiffer pointed out, all that happened a was a division of state-owned property.

Most of the “state-owned” factories, farms and so on belonged to families, individuals or churches and most were never returned to the original owners, instead, ex-Communist functionaries sold them at market prices and pocketed the money, and Western companies came in to collaborate with these ex-Communists, many of them guilty of heinous crimes, something the Western capital brokers were happy to forget, and which many of today’s US and EU leaders are even more determined to forget then they were in 1989.

There is a widespread displeasure at the way things worked out after this “collapse of Communism, but not of Communists” as there was no equivalent of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, so victims were not able to get any kind of closure.

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, speaking at a rally supported, according to Reuters, by hundreds of thousands of pro-government...


The Story Behind "Dewey Defeats Truman"


The 1948 presidential election campaign was a hard fight for Truman. By traveling thousands of miles, Harry Truman talked and spoke to many people. He spoke out his feelings on the issues rather than double talk his way out of giving a direct answer. The people that listened to him started the now famous phrase "Give 'em Hell, Harry". Harry Truman said he was just telling the truth. More and more people began to come out to listen to his speeches. The famous "whistle stop" campaign drew the farmers and small town people out by the thousands. The Democrats were so badly split that they didn't think Truman had a chance against Dewey. There was very little money behind Truman.Tuesday, November 2, 1948, Truman and his family voted in Independence, Missouri. Later he went to Excelsior Springs, Missouri and spent the evening at the then famous Elms Hotel waiting for election returns. He retired early and not knowing that history was about to be made in the form of a headline in a newspaper being printed about the outcome of the election -- "DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN".There were many factors involved in producing this error edition. Returns were coming in slow and they were running out of time before the printing deadline. The staff, based on early returns, "felt" Dewey would win. In addition, many of the regular Chicago Daily Tribune staff were out on strike so inexperienced people were setting the type. They did the front page, and portions of a few others, on a typewriter. Rather than erasing typos or incorrect numbers, they simply "x"ed them out with the "x" key on the typewriter. In the far right hand column, there are even 5 lines of type upside down! All issues went out this way.After delivery of the paper, enough returns had come in to show that the gap between Truman and Dewey was closing. It was apparent that Truman would win after all. One can imagine the panic that set in at the "Tribune" offices. Since the papers had already been shipped out for delivery to customers, staff were sent out with trucks and station wagons to get these papers from the news stands and the homes in the suburbs of Chicago. Thousands were retrieved but many remained in the hands of customers.The "recalled" papers were brought back to the warehouse and treated as regular "returns". As was common procedure for returns, the upper right hand corner of the front page (the...

Dewey defeats Truman Well, everyone makes mistakes.


As a presidential candidate, Gov. Thomas Dewey of New York was not a glad-hander, not a flesh-presser. He was stiff and tended toward pomposity. "The only man who could strut sitting down" was the crack that made the rounds. But on Nov. 2, Election Day, an overwhelming sense of inevitability hung about the Republican nominee. The polls and the pundits left no room for doubt: Dewey was going to defeat President Harry S. Truman. And the Tribune would be the first to report it.

Arguably the most famous headline in the newspaper's 150-year history, DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN is every publisher's nightmare on every election night. Like most newspapers, the Tribune, which had dismissed him on its editorial page as a "nincompoop," was lulled into a false sense of security by polls that repeatedly predicted a Dewey victory. Critically important, though, was a printers' strike, which forced the paper to go to press hours before it normally would.As the first-edition deadline approached, managing editor J. Loy "Pat" Maloney had to make the headline call, although many East Coast tallies were not yet in. Maloney banked on the track record of Arthur Sears Henning, the paper's longtime Washington correspondent. Henning said Dewey. Henning was rarely wrong. Besides, Life magazine had just carried a big photo of Dewey with the caption "The next President of the United States."

The ink was hardly dry on 150,000 copies of the paper when radio bulletins reported that the race was surprisingly close. The headline was changed to DEMOCRATS MAKE SWEEP OF STATE OFFICES for the second edition. Truman went on to take Illinois and much of the Midwest in this whopping election surprise. Radio comedian Fred Allen noted Truman was the "first president to lose in a Gallup and win in a walk." The Tribune blamed the pollsters for its mistake.

The headline might well have been quickly forgotten but for a chance encounter two days later in St. Louis.

Truman, traveling by rail to Washington, stepped to the rear platform of the train and was handed a copy of the Tribune early edition. He had as low an opinion of the Tribune as it did of him. Truman held the paper up, and photographers preserved the moment for history.