Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Gilead, Rumsfeld, Margaret Atwood and the War on Bird Flu

Remember the anthrax attacks? The nasty stuff sent to journalists and Democratic politicians was eventually traced to the CIA / Army laboratories at Fort Detrick, Maryland, at which point the investigation was quickly and humanely put down. As Monty Python used to say: No real surprises there.

Now see this post by Xymphora, about Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's ties to a biotech corporation called Gilead Sciences and the peculiar peregrinations of one Philip Zack.

Rumsfeld joined Gilead as a director in 1988, very shortly after the company was founded. He was named Chairman in January 1997 and remained in that position until being appointed Defense Secretary in January 2001.

"Gilead" - what's in a name? Probably more marketing effort goes into thinking up a new company's name than into anything else. Sound, sense, denotations, connotations, etc., etc., etc.... it's all chewed over and discussed at enormous length, the prime consideration being: Does this name accurately convey our company's philassoffy?

From the Wikipedia entry on Margaret Atwood's Gilead (and note that "The Handmaid's Tale" is a very well-known modern North American novel):

The Republic of Gilead is ruled through biblical propaganda and rigid enforcement of social roles. Most citizens have been stripped of their freedoms. All religions, except the official state religion, have been suppressed. Political and religious dissidents, abortionists, and homosexuals are executed and hung at "The Wall" for public display. The government has proclaimed martial law due to the destabilizing effect of "hordes of guerrillas" roaming the countryside, although the actual threat from the "guerillas" may be greatly exaggerated.
"The Handmaid's Tale" was published in 1985, to great acclaim and considerable controversy.

Gilead Sciences was founded in June 1987.

Donald Rumsfeld has some very interesting business connections, and the gentlemen of the biopharmaceutical industry cannot be accused of lacking a sense of humour.

POSTSCRIPT: In March 2006, the Independent reported:
The US Defence Secretary has made more than $5m (£2.9m) in capital gains from selling shares in [Gilead] - the biotechnology firm that discovered and developed Tamiflu, the drug being bought in massive amounts by Governments to treat a possible human pandemic of the disease.
In 1935, General Smedley Butler famously pointed out that "War is a racket". The War on Bird Flu has certainly been a lucrative racket for Donald Rumsfeld. As in the case of the War on Terror, the actual threat from the guerillas may be greatly exaggerated, to say nothing of the effectiveness of the measures taken against them.

1 comment:

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