Open books

ANTHONY BRINK

About Brink

E: arbrink (at) iafrica.com

T: 0027 (0) 35 474 0145

A writer’s life is a highly vulnerable, almost naked activity. We don’t have to weep about that.

The writer makes his choice and is stuck with it. But it is true to say that you are open to

all the winds, some of them icy indeed. You are out on your own, out on a limb.

Harold Pinter, Nobel Lecture, 2005

I don’t think a writer chooses his metaphors. They choose him.

Paul Scott

El ensayista ideal es siempre un anarquista.

Esther Vilar, Prohibido Pensar, 2000

Debating AZT: Mbeki and the AIDS drug controversy

The trouble with nevirapine

Lying and Thieving: The fraudulent scholarship of Ronald Suresh Roberts in ‘Fit to Govern: The Native Intelligence of Thabo Mbeki’

Introducing AZT: ‘A world of antiretroviral experience’

Poisoning our Children: AZT in pregnancy

RUDE LETTERS

Draft Bill of Indictment against Zackie Achmat on a Charge of Genocide in the International Criminal Court at The Hague

Brink’s answering affidavit in the TAC’s application in the Cape High Court to shut him up and shut him down

‘Just say yes, Mr President’: Mbeki and AIDS

Why I Support Robert Mugabe: A Zimbabwe Reader

 

Debating AZT: Mbeki and the AIDS drug controversy

Debating AZT (PDF, 1.2 MB) was published in January 2001 and stocked by libraries and sold in bookshops throughout South Africa.  A leaflet ‘Why do President Mbeki and Dr Tshabalala-Msimang warn against the use of ARV drugs like AZT?’ (PDF, 98 KB) provides a quick updated overview of the subject.  

Reviews:

“That,” Mbeki told me, “is what sparked it off …”’  Mark Gevisser, Thabo Mbeki: The Dream Deferred (Jonathan Ball, 2007)

‘He has tracked and digested every important reference to AZT in contemporary medical literature. The result is a comprehensive and alarming review of the findings of medical researchers on the clinical use of the drug. [Based on the research literature he reviews] the argument [against it] is devastatingly clear’  Martin Welz, editor and publisher of Noseweek, from his foreword to Debating AZT

superb, extremely well researched, analyzed, written. … I could not have done a better job. … Are you a scientist or do you collaborate with one? How could you survey so many scientific publications as an attorney? … Could you publish your article or a variant of it in a medical/scientific journal? It would strengthen our case no end if scientific papers of that quality would come from several sources, not only from Berkeley and Perth.’ ‘I still can’t believe he wrote that. He’s really a molecular biologist pretending to be a lawyer’  Peter Duesberg PhD, Professor of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of California at Berkeley, member of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America    

See all

 

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The trouble with nevirapine

The trouble with nevirapine (PDF, 1MB) is outlined on the back cover.

Reviews:

an amazing job … brilliantly dissects an avoidable tragedy: how misconceptions and misunderstandings about a new medicine … caused a pointless, costly and toxic mess that still needs clearing up. An important story with lessons for all of us – and readable with it’  Professor Andrew Herxheimer MB, FRCP, Emeritus Fellow of the UK Cochrane Centre, Oxford; tutor in clinical pharmacology and therapeutics at Charing Cross and Westminster Medical School, London University (ret.); advisor to the WHO; founder of Drug Therapeutics Bulletin; co-founder of the International Society of Drug Bulletins; and co-founder of DIPEx.org

‘an expertly written piece about this very dangerous drug’  Dr Jonathan Fishbein MD, formerly Director of the Office for Policy in Clinical Research Operations, Division of AIDS, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, US National Institutes of Health

‘Brink’s meticulously researched … detailed exposé on the controversial AIDS drug … reads like a sophisticated crime novel and is full of harrowing facts you won’t find anywhere else’  Christine Maggiore, founder, Alive&Well AIDS Alternatives, LA, US

 

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Lying and Thieving: The fraudulent scholarship of Ronald Suresh Roberts in ‘Fit to Govern: The Native Intelligence of Thabo Mbeki’

Lying and Thieving has its own dedicated site (formerly lyingandthieving.com), where you can download the book, see the media attention it attracted, and find open letters and other documents about it.

Reviews:

Lying and Thieving exposes

‘The most serious case of plagiarism and literary fraud in South African literary history’  Dr James Sanders, political historian and journalist, and editor of Fit to Govern

The book is summed up in Brink’s letter to Alan Dershowitz (PDF, 160 KB):

‘Fine letter and very appropriate’  Noam Chomsky 

‘Thanks. … A thumbs up from Chomsky is the best way to start the day’  Norman Finkelstein

 

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Introducing AZT: ‘A world of antiretroviral experience’

Introducing AZT (PDF, 595 KB) is a sequel to Debating AZT and includes research findings subsequently reported.

The book has no author narrative and lets the drug’s champions and critics speak for and against the drug themselves.

Inventing AZT’ (PDF, 28 KB) in the appendices reports the scoop story related to me by the scientist who first synthesized the drug, telling how he invented it as a cell poison and how he changed his mind about the use of AZT in pregnancy after reading the foetal toxicity literature I reviewed in Debating AZT. ‘Licensing AZT’ (PDF, 40 KB) recounts the fraudulent manner in which the drug was approved by the American FDA.

 

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Poisoning our Children: AZT in pregnancy

Poisoning our Children: AZT in pregnancy (PDF, 1.15 MB) is a compendium of letters to the Medicines Control Council exhaustively reviewing the foetal and neonatal toxicity literature on AZT. The Endnotes tell how Mbeki’s and the late Dr Tshabalala-Msimang’s worst apprehensions have been realised, anticipated by the October 2008 TIG press statement (PDF, 45KB) ‘On the 50th anniversary of the thalidomide disaster, another tragedy of countless children killed and maimed foretold’, and a final letter to Dr Tshabalala-Msimang concerning AZT in pregnancy (PDF, 169 KB), both included in the appendices. An 8-page A5 leafletWhy do Zackie Achmat, Nathan Geffen and Mark Heywood want pregnant African women and their newborn babies given AZT? What AZT to does to unborn and newly born children’ (PDF, 341 KB) will provide essential information about this horror.

Reviews:

‘you are justified in sounding a warning against the long-term therapeutic use of AZT, or its use in pregnant women, because of its demonstrated toxicity and side effects. Unfortunately, the devastating effects of AZT emerged only after the final level of experiments was well underway … Your effort is a worthy one. … I hope you succeed in convincing your government not to make AZT available’  Richard Beltz PhD, Emeritus Professor of Biochemistry, Loma Linda University School of Medicine, California, inventor of AZT in 1961

Clearly your knowledge-base in this subject extends far beyond ours’  Eleni Papadopulos-Eleopulos MSc, Dr Valendar Turner, and Professor John Papadimitriou (the Perth Group), authors of ‘A Critical Analysis of the Pharmacology of AZT and its use in AIDS‘ (PDF, 416 KB) and ‘Mother to Child Transmission of HIV and its Prevention with AZT and Nevirapine‘ (PDF, 2.03 MB)

 

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RUDE LETTERS

The back cover (PDF, 56740 KB) will tell you about this book in preparation: a collection of ironic letters to the AIDS experts and other AIDS promoters in South Africa, asking them a whole lot of foolish questions – only, perhaps not so foolish. To be included are:

A letter (PDF, 36 KB) to Constitutional Law expert Professor Pierre de Vos at the University of the Western Cape; a letter (PDF, 90KB) to Dr Olive Shisana, CEO of the Human Sciences Research Council and lead author of the ‘South African National HIV Prevalence, HIV Incidence, Behaviour and Communication Survey, 2005’, followed by an awkward reminder (PDF, 30 KB); a letter (PDF, 64KB) to South African National Blood Services CEO Professor Anthon Heyns; a letter (PDF, 31 KB) to Dr Francois Venter, president of the Southern African HIV/AIDS Clinicians Society; some questions (PDF, 44 KB) for leading AIDS journalist Tamar Kahn; a draft bill of indictment against Zackie Achmat on a Charge of Genocide in the International Criminal Court at The Hague (linked below); a letter (PDF 93 KB) about it to Mail&Guardian owner Trevor Ncube; a letter to Professor Alan Dershowitz, Harvard Law School (PDF 170 KB); a letter to Litsa Delli, television producer, MEGA-TV, Athens, Greece (PDF, 171 KB) (here are the hyperlinks in the Delli letter); and letters to Sunday Times editor Mondli Makhanya, South African Institute of Race Relations president Sipho Seepe, Witness editor John Conyngham, cartoonist Jonathan Shapiro, psychology lecturer Desmond Painter, former Chief Justice Arthur Chaskalson, former Minister in the Presidency Essop Pahad, economics professor Alan Whiteside’s wife (if he has one), South African Communist Party Secretary General Blade Nzimande, and Onnie Mary Phuthe, seriously injured by ARVs (most posted on the TIG site).

 

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Draft Bill of Indictment against Zackie Achmat on a Charge of Genocide in the International Criminal Court at The Hague

Reviews etc:

Political journalist Terry Michael in Washington found this criminal complaint (PDF, 971 KB) formally served on the ICC’s chief prosecutor at The Hague ‘side-splittingly funny. If the TAC founder weren’t so deadly serious, he would qualify as a clueless buffoon in a TV comedy.’ But AIDS journalist Celia Farber in New York didn’t think it amusing at all: ‘I have read the complaint carefully, twice. Despite my 20 year immersion in the mind-reeling odyssey of the HIV Drugging Wars, I was disoriented, shocked, and wounded from this. It is so psychologically, politically, morally, and bio-chemically bizarre that one feels crazy from it. ... It builds calmly at first, then turns increasingly merciless, like the sealing bricks at the end of Poe’s The Cask of Amontillado.’ One reader reported, ‘the complaint you filed with the ICC in The Hague remains one of my favorite works in the English language. ... [It] has always been a wonderful enigma, dripping with surreal irony yet so devoid of sarcasm that I could never categorize it as purely satirical. To me it was more Dante than Swift, and much of the genius (and horror!) lay in the fact that a literal reading not only worked, but seemed the most just. Whether it was actually an admissible legal document, I still don't know. Celia's comparison to The Cask of Amontillado was, um, apropoe (sorry).’ On the other hand, an attorney I know complained angrily that I’d ‘gone too far’ with it – but didn’t the English painter Francis Bacon observe, ‘Only by going too far can you go far enough’? The July 2007 issue of Molotov Cocktail denounced it as ‘hysterical fascist nonsense’ by ‘swivel-eyed Brink … more than a few sandwiches short of a picnic’ (the editor later changed his mind). The Cape Argus billed it on street-poles as a ‘BIZARRE CHARGE AGAINST ZACKIE’. And published the TAC’s view of it: ‘A TAC spokesperson described the complaint as “the rantingsand ravings of a madman”’. ‘Almost every single quotation in his report was out of context.’ It was ‘rubbish beginning to end’; ‘truly delusional’; ‘laughable’. And in a press statement, ‘The Treatment Action Campaign would like to inform the public and the media that it refuses to waste public resources in dignifying Anthony Brink’s lunatic call for the International Criminal Court to prosecute its chairperson Zackie Achmat. Anthony Brink’s actions serve only to insult the rationality of all sane people and the difficult experiences of millions of people who live with HIV/AIDS in the world. We therefore ask that the media not to call our organization for comment on this as this is our official comment.’ An editorial in the London Guardian on 13 September 2008 aspersed the complaint as going to the ‘heights of surreality’. In his column in that paper a week later, Ben Goldacre described it as ‘A new all-time low’ in ‘South Africa, where President Thabo Mbeki has a long history of siding with the HIV denialists, who believe that HIV does not cause Aids (but that treatments for it do) [namely] Anthony Brink ... the man who is credited with introducing Mbeki to HIV denialism, who has helped cost the lives of tens of thousands of people needlessly deprived of effective treatments.’ The complaint was ‘ridiculous ... vicious and unhinged hatred ... full-on fruitcake action. … This is supposed to be a serious war crimes document, remember.’ Also missing the irony, a friend in the German Left said she thought it ‘sadistic’. On the other hand, an African supporter of mine told me that he read bits out to his mates and had them all rolling about laughing. As did a Dutch comrade; but then it’s been said that the Dutch have ‘an endless appetite for venom served with a wink.’ So is it serious? Is it a joke? Is it a serious joke – ‘an elaborate spoof’ as one reader put it? A political prank, a stunt in Propaganda of the Deed as the anarchists used to say? AIDS promoter Chris Noble thought so: ‘Brink has done this as a carefully calculated publicity stunt. … I suspect that Brink knows full well that his submission will be used for toilet paper. He doesn’t care. He got the publicity he wanted. He got his name in several papers and he got interviewed on several radio stations.’ (Very true!) Read it and decide for yourself.You may conclude like the TAC’s Mark Heywood did, complaining on the radio, that I wanted his chum Achmat ‘tortured’. Or you may read the complaint as a parody of a formal criminal arraignment – a satirical attack on Western show trials generally – set in high legal language, but cut with mounting black humour, parodying the TAC’s own repeated use of the courts to advance their drug-pimping agenda, and exposing Achmat’s stupidity and ignorance, his dishonesty and hypocrisy, as it pleads the dismal facts with blistering sarcasm, on the way providing an informative introduction to what ARV drugs do to people, Achmat included. Turning a carving knife in his stomach as it does so. With a smile.

The best historical precedent in style and purpose is Daniel Defoe’s The Shortest-Way with the Dissenters; Or, Proposals for the Establishment of the Church in 1702, convincingly advocating the extermination of his own party (‘Crucify the Thieves!’), to ridicule political and religious intolerance; but which he also found necessary to explain after his stupid opponents were taken in, enraged when they realised they had been mocked, and had Defoe arrested, fined and pilloried for three days. A more immediately obvious satire is Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal for Preventing the Children of Poor People From Being a Burthen to Their Parents or Country, and for Making Them Beneficial to the Publick: his proposal in 1729 that the excess of Irish children be served on English dinner plates to alleviate the meat shortage -- to point up the cruelty of English colonial policy in Ireland.

Here’s the original A4 format version (PDF 137 KB) filed at The Hague. It’s been translated into Spanish, French, Russian, Italian, German, and Dutch.

 

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Brink’s answering affidavit in the TAC’s application in the Cape High Court to shut him up and shut him down

This provocative affidavit (PDF, 777 KB) was filed in the Cape High Court in mid-2007, knocking the TAC and its ridiculous case to pieces.

Sending the TAC running for the hills: here’s the happy ending (PDF, 207 KB) in March 2008, three days after heads of argument (PDF 16KB) were filed.

The affidavit was contrived to inform and answer, but with a bang – as in the ‘rupture defence’ strategy of radical French avocat Jacques Vergès.

Read the affidavit in its original A4 format (PDF, 514 KB) hyperlinked to its annexures.

 

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‘Just say yes, Mr President’: Mbeki and AIDS

‘Just say yes, Mr President’ is my major work in progress with which I have been busy for many years: a comprehensive history of the South African AIDS controversy and a multidisciplinary interrogation and deconstruction of its medical and ideological foundations. The book is described in a prospectus (PDF, 800 KB) that includes a review of all prior biographies and political histories and their failure to get to grips with and explore Mbeki’s thinking on AIDS. About half of it comprises a close analysis of how Mark Gevisser very revealingly screwed up his AIDS chapter in Thabo Mbeki: The Dream Deferred.

‘For very great is the number of the stupid’ (per Galileo) is a collection of public statements about Mbeki and AIDS to appear in the prefatory pages of the book.

Reviews:

‘This book is a pit bull … a tour de force … a brilliant and searing polemic … incandescent … You write so well’  Rian Malan, journalist and author of My Traitor’s Heart and Resident Alien

absolutely breathtaking .... ’n aangrypende ontleding van die ideologiese, religieuse, kommersiele en kulturele onderbou van ’n definierende verskynsel van ons tyd, naamlik VIGS. … [Brink is] een van die interessantse denkers wat ek nog ontmoet het’  Frans Rautenbach SC, Cape Bar, labour lawyer and author

‘An outstanding interdisciplinary study pivotal to understanding Mbeki’s stance on AIDS. My respect for his integrity in the face of Western economic and ideological agendas has been deepened. One is reminded that all one knows is learned, but not necessarily true....’ George Davidson MB ChB, PhD (biophysics and biochemistry), Bronte Stuart Prize-winner UCT, senior research scientist, biotech pharmaceutical R&D, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

And a lengthy review in Afrikaans by the late Dr Gerrit Brand (‘Dankie for die literere inspirasie.’).

 

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Why I Support Robert Mugabe: A Zimbabwe Reader

Covered by a lengthy introduction, Why I Support Robert Mugabe: A Zimbabwe Reader is a collection of interviews, speeches, histories and critical analyses of Zimbabwe’s current problems and their causes, supporting an unfashionably positive view of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe as an outstanding African revolutionary, duly described by former President Thabo Mbeki in his letter to ANC president Jacob Zuma on 9 October 2008 as a ‘titan of our struggle’. (Purporting to represent Mbeki’s opinion of Mugabe in ‘Fit to Govern’, Ronald Suresh Roberts denounced this ‘titan of our struggle’ as a ‘charlatan’ and a ‘murderer’.)

Back cover

 

Disaster! The ms accidentally lost in a HD cleanout on 21 June 2008. Until it’s rebuilt, spend some time looking around:

http://gowans.wordpress.com/category/zimbabwe/

www.raceandhistory.com/Zimbabwe/

www.swans.com/library/subjects/africa.html

Land Occupations and Land Reform in Zimbabwe, Professor Sam Moyo and Paris Yeros in Reclaiming the Land: The Resurgence of Rural Movements in Africa, Asia and Latin America, edited by Moyo and Yeros (Zed Books, 2005)

More recent writing:

Lessons of Zimbabwe, Mahmood Mamdani, London Review of Books, critical responses, and Mamdani’s reply, December 2008. More letters in January 2009 and comment on them by David Johnson in February 2009.

Zimbabwe Ten Years On: Results and Prospects, Sam Moyo and Paris Yeros respond to general academic condemnation of Mamdani’s piece, March 2009.

Time to ditch the “disaster” scenarios, Professor Ben Cousins, Mail & Guardian, 21 May 2010.

Zimbabwe’s land myths exploded, Percy Zvomuya, Mail & Guardian, 4 May 2012.

Mbeki on the agrarian revolution:  Zimbabwe Diamond Conference, 12 November 2012.

Zimbabwe Takes Back its Land, Hanlon, Manjengwa and Smart (Kumarian Press (US), 2012 / Jacana (RSA), 2013) pages 1–11; authors’ summary: ‘This paper is based on research for our book Zimbabwe Takes Back its Land (Jacana 2013) which gives many more details and references.’

The Zimbabwe Model: Radicalisation, Reform and Resistance, Sam Moyo and Paris Yeros, in Land and Agrarian Reform in Zimbabwe: Beyond White-Settler Capitalism, edited by Sam Moyo and Walter Chambati (CODESRIA and AIAS, 2013).

The West’s Contempt for Africa Must End! Thabo Mbeki, UNISA, 23 August 2013

 

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