- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 17, 2006

A Republican problem

Jack Kelly’s statement that “40 of the 45 Democrats in the Senate received campaign contributions from [Jack] Abramoff or his clients,” though technically correct, is at best misleading and at worst intentionally deceptive (“A Capitol money trail,” Commentary, Sunday). The truth is that although several Republicans are known to have received campaign contributions directly from Mr. Abramoff, the former lobbyist, not a single Democrat has done so.

Clearly, it is in the Republicans’ best interest to attempt to portray this scandal as bipartisan in nature, but facts are pesky things, and the facts place the overwhelming majority of culpability in this affair squarely in the lap of members of the Republican Party.

SCOTT KENYON

Vienna

Political science

I thank Brendan Conway for his several good comments on my book “The Politically Incorrect Guide to Science” (“The frauds, distortions, when science turns political,” Books, Sunday). However, I must take issue with his claim that the human papilloma virus has been “definitely proven to cause cancer,” specifically cervical cancer.

Here are some facts. The human papilloma virus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States. At some point in their lives, 75 percent of men and women of reproductive age are estimated to have been infected with it. Up to 20 million Americans may be infected at any given time. For perhaps 75 percent of women, however, the immune system wipes out the infection within a year. For those with compromised immune systems, the infection may be long-lasting.

In the end, only one out of 1,000 women with HPV develop invasive cervical cancer. A few develop it with no trace of HPV. So the virus is not necessary and is far from sufficient to cause cervical cancer.

Furthermore, the highest rates of genital HPV infection are found in adults between the ages of 18 and 28, and yet the median age for diagnosis of cervical cancer is 48. There is a 20-year period during which something else is happening.

In the chapter on cancer research in my book, I discuss what most probably is responsible for this long delay, present in almost all cancers. Over many cell generations, a new cellular phenotype emerges with the wrong complement of chromosomes. This is the aneuploidy theory of cancer, and the National Cancer Institute (NCI) has paid almost no attention to it, even though all solid cancers are aneuploid. Cancer cells have the wrong complement of chromosomes — usually too many.

It is true that the NCI says the papilloma virus is “the major cause” of cervical cancer, but the whole thrust of my chapter is that the NCI, over a 40-year period, adhered first to the viral cancer theory and then (and to date) to the gene-mutation theory and that these theories have been unproductive. It is time to look at something else.

Mr. Conway wonders why I failed to mention “the most famous cancer-causing virus” and speculates that it is because “political bias” didn’t cause the problem. Actually, the notion of virally caused cervical cancer became very politically correct some years back. Perhaps I should have discussed that. According to Liz Highleyman of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, “invasive cervical cancer was added as an AIDS-defining illness in 1993, following pressure from activists who felt the old definition was not sufficiently inclusive of HIV-positive women.”

TOM BETHELL

Washington

In “The frauds, distortions, when science turns political,” Brendan Conway claimed that cold fusion was “among the great scientific frauds of the last hundred years.” He is correct in a sense, but the situation is just the opposite from what he suggests it is. Cold fusion was replicated by hundreds of world-class laboratories, including the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division at China Lake, Calif.; Shell; Amoco; SRI, International; Texas A&M University; Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico; Bhabha Atomic Research Center in Bombay and Tsinghua University in Beijing. Hundreds of positive, peer-reviewed papers on cold fusion have been published in mainstream journals.

However, the U.S. Department of Energy and many mainstream scientific organizations, such as the American Physical Society (APS), have ignored this evidence and savagely attacked the researchers. When a Distinguished Fellow at China Lake — a professor in his 60s and one of the world’s leading electrochemists — published positive results, he was banished from the laboratory and reassigned as a stockroom clerk. Experiments have been sabotaged, researchers have been ordered not to discuss their work, and some have been summarily fired. When Nobel laureate Julian Schwinger tried to publish theory papers on the subject, he met such a wall of hysterical opposition that he resigned from the APS in protest, and he wrote:

“The pressure for conformity is enormous. I have experienced it in editors’ rejection of submitted papers, based on venomous criticism of anonymous referees. The replacement of impartial reviewing by censorship will be the death of science.”

These and other events are described at our Web page, LENR-CANR.org (Low Energy Nuclear Reactions-Chemically Assisted Nuclear Reactions). This situation is much worse than you can imagine. We also feature an online library of more than 400 technical papers from all of the institutions listed above and many others. (Some of Mr. Schwinger’s technical papers and his paper with the above quotation are also on file.)

JED ROTHWELL

Atlanta

Preventing child abuse

One can hardly imagine a more volatile public debate than what has followed Judge Edward Cashman’s sentencing of admitted child rapist-molester Mark Hulett in Vermont to just 60 days in jail. The fur is flying, and rightly so. The Saturday editorial “A 60-day travesty” expresses the sentiments of the vast majority of people over this apparent miscarriage of justice.

In truth, media coverage has largely omitted the fact that Judge Cashman also put strident restrictions on Hulett following his time served. He will have to complete a lengthy period of probation and a mandatory treatment program or still face a life sentence. Following through may be a tall order for such an offender, so the story isn’t over yet. I have serious doubts as to whether a pedophile of Hulett’s caliber is capable of rehabilitation. Any adult who repeatedly rapes and/or molests (the combined news coverage has left doubt as to which it is) a little girl for four years is a very sick man.

Though many sex offenders likely also have been victimized in the past, it is still difficult for the average person to find any sympathy for such people. Child abuse of any kind is morally reprehensible, whether we consider the perpetrators mentally ill or conniving criminals. Our inclination has to be to protect and help the traumatized children first. Should Judge Cashman’s views ever become the rule of the day, I fear pedophiles would have a heyday playing the system.

Still, legislators, in their haste to avenge a spate of recent sex crimes against children, must be careful not to go overboard in sweeping every offender into the same dragnet. There are important distinctions to consider, and prison overcrowding is a nagging reality.

It can help victims to see their perpetrators convicted and sentenced to prison or even involuntary commitment for any length of time. However, our focus also needs to be on helping children (and adults who have harbored their shameful secret for too long) to find healing. They need much more than merely to see justice served. There is still far too much denial about the damage from child sexual abuse and too much naivete about it in general.

As a survivor myself, I feel my heart go out to Hulett’s young victim and her family. Now we are learning that she was abused by yet another man, who is facing prosecution. This tells me that we have a long way to go in educating parents about safe environments and abuse prevention — a worthy use of our tax dollars if ever there were one.

DEBBIE THURMAN

Monroe, Va.

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