WASHINGTON--Defying U.S. safety protections for human trials, an American university and a group of wealthy libertarians, including a prominent Donald Trump supporter, are backing the offshore testing of an experimental herpes vaccine. The American businessmen, including Trump adviser Peter Thiel, invested $7 million in the ongoing vaccine research, according to the U.S. company behind it. Southern Illinois University also trumpeted the research and the study's lead researcher, even though he did not rely on traditional U.S. safety oversight in the first trial, held on the Caribbean island of St. Kitts. Neither the Food and Drug Administration nor a safety panel known as an institutional review board, or an "IRB," monitored the testing of a vaccine its creators say prevents herpes outbreaks. Most of the 20 participants were Americans with herpes who were flown to the island several times to be vaccinated, according to Rational Vaccines, the company that oversaw the trial.
Even so, Fernández a former Hollywood filmmaker, said he and his investors plan to submit the trial data to the FDA in hopes of getting the vaccine approved for treatment.
Before the trial, Halford tested the vaccine on himself and Fernández. After he failed to secure federal funding and without an IRB, Halford moved ahead with the trial offshore.
Just think of all the $$$$$ you can make experimenting on desperate people if you're just willing to remove any sense of decency, and move to the bahamas. I mean, the second part is a definite upside....
Three years before launching an offshore herpes vaccine trial, an American researcher vaccinated patients in U.S. hotel rooms in brazen violation of U.S. law, a Kaiser Health News investigation has found.Southern Illinois University associate professor William Halford administered the shots himself at a Holiday Inn Express and a Crowne Plaza Hotel that were a 15-minute drive from the researcher's SIU lab. Halford injected at least eight herpes patients on four separate occasions in the summer and fall of 2013 with a virus that he created, according to emails from seven participants and interviews with one participant.
Since Halford's death in June, several participants who received the vaccine in 2013 and 2016 have told KHN they have informed the university about what they fear may be side effects from the vaccine.One participant who says he received the injections in Illinois fears that the vaccine, which contains a live virus, may have given him a new and different type of herpes he did not have, a scenario that experts who reviewed his medical details for KHN said was possible.In recent weeks, that participant from Texas and a woman from Colorado who took part in the St. Kitts trial have separately electronically reported to the FDA their possible side effects, also known as "adverse events."They said SIU and the FDA have not adequately addressed their inquiries."It makes me angry that Halford went ahead with the offshore trial anyway," said the man from Texas who did not want to be publicly identified because of the sensitive nature of his disease. "I hope more people weren't hurt."
Peter Thiel, the Silicon Valley billionaire known for his libertarian politics, is leaving the Bay Area after four decades and stepping back from tech due in part to his dissatisfaction with the industry's liberal politics.Citing what they called Silicon Valley's "sclerotic" culture and "conformity of thought," a source close to Thiel told CNNMoney that the investor would soon move to Los Angeles, where he will "focus on a number of new projects including creating a new media endeavor.""L.A. is a better place to do that," the source said. "L.A. is also less out of touch and it's a better place to connect with the rest of the country."Thiel will also move his investment firm Thiel Capital and his Thiel Foundation to Los Angeles, the source said. Founders Fund, where he is a general partner, will remain in San Francisco. Thiel is also considering resigning from the board of Facebook, according to the source.Thiel, a co-founder of PayPal, has long been outspoken about his politics. But he became a lightning rod in the community and nationally after backing Donald Trump's presidential bid and then joining Trump's transition team.The Wall Street Journal, which broke the news of Thiel's move, reported Thursday that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg even asked Thiel to consider resigning from his company's board last summer. This came after Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, another Facebook board member, reportedly criticized what he called Thiel's "catastrophically bad judgment" in supporting Trump.Since then, the source close to him said, Thiel has grown more aware of what he views as liberal intolerance."Peter thinks the same network effects that concentrate talent in the Valley (adding value) are leading to conformity of thought (limiting the generation of new ideas)," the source said in an email. "SF is still important but the most exciting future tech developments may come outside of it. Peter also thinks the Valley has become too mono-cultural and the cost of living is making the whole area more sclerotic, less vital."The source would not provide any further detail on the new media endeavor Thiel plans to work on in Los Angeles, nor any of the other business opportunities he plans to pursue.
How an extreme libertarian tract predicting the collapse of liberal democracies - written by Jacob Rees-Mogg's father - inspired the likes of Peter Thiel to buy up property across the Pacificby Mark O'ConnellThu 15 Feb 2018 01.00 ESTLast modified on Thu 15 Feb 2018 06.32 ESTIf you're interested in the end of the world, you're interested in New Zealand. If you're interested in how our current cultural anxieties - climate catastrophe, decline of transatlantic political orders, resurgent nuclear terror - manifest themselves in apocalyptic visions, you're interested in the place occupied by this distant archipelago of apparent peace and stability against the roiling unease of the day.If you're interested in the end of the world, you would have been interested, soon after Donald Trump's election as US president, to read a New York Times headline stating that Peter Thiel, the billionaire venture capitalist who co-founded PayPal and was an early investor in Facebook, considered New Zealand to be "the Future". Because if you are in any serious way concerned about the future, you're also concerned about Thiel, a canary in capitalism's coal mine who also happens to have profited lavishly from his stake in the mining concern itself.Thiel is in one sense a caricature of outsized villainy: he was the only major Silicon Valley figure to put his weight behind the Trump presidential campaign; he vengefully bankrupted a website because he didn't like how they wrote about him; he is known for his public musings about the incompatibility of freedom and democracy, and for expressing interest - as though enthusiastically pursuing the clunkiest possible metaphor for capitalism at its most vampiric - in a therapy involving transfusions of blood from young people as a potential means of reversing the ageing process. But in another, deeper sense, he is pure symbol: less a person than a shell company for a diversified portfolio of anxieties about the future, a human emblem of the moral vortex at the centre of the market.It was in 2011 that Thiel declared he'd found "no other country that aligns more with my view of the future than New Zealand". The claim was made as part of an application for citizenship; the application was swiftly granted, though it remained a secret for a further six years. In 2016, Sam Altman, one of Silicon Valley's most influential entrepreneurs, revealed to the New Yorker that he had an arrangement with Thiel whereby in the eventuality of some kind of systemic collapse scenario - synthetic virus breakout, rampaging AI, resource war between nuclear-armed states, so forth - they both get on a private jet and fly to a property Thiel owns in New Zealand. (The plan from this point, you'd have to assume, was to sit out the collapse of civilisation before re-emerging to provide seed-funding for, say, the insect-based protein sludge market.)In the immediate wake of that Altman revelation, Matt Nippert, a reporter for the New Zealand Herald, began looking into the question of how exactly Thiel had come into possession of this apocalypse retreat, a 477-acre former sheep station in the South Island - the larger, more sparsely populated of the country's two major landmasses. Foreigners looking to purchase significant amounts of New Zealand land typically have to pass through a stringent government vetting process. In Thiel's case, Nippert learned, no such process had been necessary, because he was already a citizen of New Zealand, despite having spent no more than 12 days in the country up to that point, and having not been seen in the place since. He didn't even need to travel to New Zealand to have his citizenship conferred, it turned out: the deal was sealed in a private ceremony at a consulate handily located in Santa Monica.Peter Thiel'Less a person than a shell company for a diversified portfolio of anxieties about the future' ... Peter Thiel. Photograph: VCG/GettyWhen Nippert broke the story, there was a major public scandal over the question of whether a foreign billionaire should be able to effectively purchase citizenship. As part of his application, Thiel had agreed to invest in New Zealand tech startups, and had implied that he would use his new status as a naturalised Kiwi to promote the country's business interests abroad. But the focus internationally was on why Thiel might have wanted to own a chunk of New Zealand roughly the size of lower Manhattan in the first place. And the overwhelming suspicion was that he was looking for a rampart to which he could retreat in the event of outright civilisational collapse.Because this is the role that New Zealand now plays in our unfurling cultural fever dream: an island haven amid a rising tide of apocalyptic unease. According to the country's Department of Internal Affairs, in the two days following the 2016 election the number of Americans who visited its website to enquire about the process of gaining New Zealand citizenship increased by a factor of 14 compared to the same days in the previous month. In particular, New Zealand has come to be seen as a bolthole of choice for Silicon Valley's tech elite.In the immediate aftermath of Trump's election, the theme of American plutocrats preparing for the apocalypse was impossible to avoid. The week after the inauguration, the New Yorker ran another piece about the super-rich who were making preparations for a grand civilisational crackup; speaking of New Zealand as a "favored refuge in the event of a cataclysm", billionaire LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman, a former colleague of Thiel's at PayPal, claimed that "saying you're 'buying a house in New Zealand' is kind of a wink, wink, say no more".Everyone is always saying these days that it's easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism. Everyone is always saying it, in my view, because it's obviously true. The perception, paranoid or otherwise, that billionaires are preparing for a coming civilisational collapse seems a literal manifestation of this axiom. Those who are saved, in the end, will be those who can afford the premium of salvation. And New Zealand, the furthest place from anywhere, is in this narrative a kind of new Ararat: a place of shelter from the coming flood.Early last summer, just as my interests in the topics of civilisational collapse and Peter Thiel were beginning to converge into a single obsession, I received out of the blue an email from a New Zealand art critic named Anthony Byrt. If I wanted to understand the extreme ideology that underpinned Thiel's attraction to New Zealand, he insisted, I needed to understand an obscure libertarian manifesto called The Sovereign Individual: How to Survive and Thrive During the Collapse of the Welfare State. It was published in 1997, and in recent years something of a minor cult has grown up around it in the tech world, largely as a result of Thiel's citing it as the book he is most influenced by. (Other prominent boosters include Netscape founder and venture capitalist Marc Andreessen, and Balaji Srinivasan, the entrepreneur best known for advocating Silicon Valley's complete secession from the US to form its own corporate city-state.)
Peter Thiel's campaign to ruin Gawker Media was conceived and orchestrated by a previously unknown associate who served as a middleman, allowing the billionaire to conceal his involvement in the bankrolling of lawsuits that eventually drove the New York media outlet into bankruptcy.BuzzFeed News has confirmed the identity of that mystery conspirator, known in Thiel's inner circle as "Mr. A," with multiple sources who said that he provided the venture capitalist and Facebook board member with a blueprint to covertly attack Gawker in court. That man, an Oxford-educated Australian citizen named Aron D'Souza, has few known connections to Thiel, but approached him in 2011 with an elaborate proposal to use a legal strategy to wipe out the media organization. That plot ultimately succeeded.Aron D'SouzaThe Sydney Morning Hearld / Via smh.com.au Share On facebook Share On pinterestAron D'SouzaD'Souza's involvement, which has not been previously reported, provides more clarity into how the billionaire technology investor executed a plot that involved paying about $10 million to fund litigation against Gawker, including an invasion of privacy lawsuit brought by former professional wrestler Hulk Hogan. The online news outlet, which published clips of a sex tape featuring Hogan and his friend's wife, lost that case in March 2016, with a Florida jury awarding the plaintiff with a $140 million judgment. Two months later, Forbes reported that Thiel had been secretly funding Hogan's lawsuit, and others, against Gawker Media.Since 2016, Thiel has sparingly discussed his role in destroying Gawker, sitting for just three public interviews and writing a single New York Times opinion piece. He's left many questions, like those about his exact motivations and how he funded Hogan's case, unanswered.Thiel declined an interview for this piece through a spokesperson. D'Souza did not return multiple phone calls to his offices, emails, and a LinkedIn message sent by BuzzFeed News.The revelation of D'Souza's role paints a clearer picture of Thiel's plan to finance litigation against Gawker following its 2007 publication of articles he considered invasive and hurtful. Thiel, however, only proceeded with his plan three years later when he met Mr. A, following a period in which he met with current and former Gawker staffers to understand why he drew the scrutiny of their coverage.While many believe that Thiel's decision-making was driven largely by the publication of a December 2007 article titled "Peter Thiel is totally gay, people," the situation was more nuanced. The Gawker reporter who wrote that story, Owen Thomas, previously wrote that a Thiel representative "assured me that he had no issue with the post," while Nick Denton, Gawker's founder, said that following the post, the tech investor went "on a broader media charm offensive.""All I know is that he was meeting off-the-record with Gawker bloggers years after we put on the screen the widely known fact that the Valley investor was gay," Denton told BuzzFeed News. "Before the lawsuits were launched, he wooed. Something changed."According to two sources, Thiel met with former Gawker editor Choire Sicha in May 2008 at a Midtown Manhattan apartment. Sicha, who declined to comment for this story, was introduced to Thiel by famous New York lawyer Eddie Hayes, who hoped that the former Gawker staffer might help the venture capitalist improve his relationship with the outlet. Sicha suggested that Thiel meet with reporters, and also listened to a plan for Thiel to donate to journalistic causes. In late June, Thiel pledged $250,000 to the Committee to Protect Journalists."As a true believer in the critical importance of free speech, I am delighted to support CPJ's fight for the rights of journalists around the world," Thiel was quoted as saying in CPJ's 2008 annual report.Thiel, however, remained conflicted about Gawker Media. The next spring, he spoke openly about its Silicon Valley-focused publication, Valleywag, which he compared to al-Qaeda in one interview. Following that comment, Thiel met with then-Gawker editor Ryan Tate in August 2009, reportedly quipping at that meeting, "See? I'm willing to negotiate with terrorists."From 2007 on, Gawker and Valleywag continued to critically cover Thiel and the ups and downs of his businesses, including hedge fund Clarium Capital. Then, in 2011, Thiel met with Aron D'Souza and as Denton said, something changed.