The Green Blues Show – Edition 43

Tower_of_Babel

In today’s edition of the Green Blues Show: commemorating the life and work of Frank Plummer, a Canadian pioneer in HIV-AIDS research. And, Donald Trump’s ‘Deal of the Century’ lands with a thump.

 

The gods, the titans, the Olympians and the mortals – some of them heroes. Such was the hierarchy of the universe laid down in Hesiod’s Theogony, back in the 8th century BC.

Was Harvey Weinstein a Hollywood god or a titan? He seemed to be a film academy hero before he was exposed (though of course not to the women he abused, who knew what he was about). In the end, Weinstein – now descending into the darkest and loneliest of precincts – was just another mortal, and a disreputable one at that.

Jian Ghomeshi is another name that comes to mind. At the very top of his game, looking forward to years of praise, prestige and top pay with Canada’s public broadcaster, when the news got out. All ancient history.

As pleasing as such matters can be — schadenfreude and all that – the spectacle of someone at the peak of human accomplishment and fame being laid very low is shocking to behold. For precisely this reason, tales of downfall have been the subject of lurid myth and literature from Goliath to Shakespeare’s tragic heroes.

Like towering figures laid low, the collapse of iconic structures is also something we humans dwell on with horror, fascination and occasionally relish — the walls of Jericho; the Tower of Babel; the Twin Towers; the ancient monuments destroyed by Islamic militants in Afghanistan and Iraq. Unimaginable they could ever come down. When they do, both physical and political landscapes are transformed – for good or ill.

Some weep. Others cheer.

+++

Medical science has lost one of its pioneers. Frank Plummer, a Canadian epidemiologist associated with much of our understanding about how HIV-AIDS is transmitted, died suddenly this past February 4, while attending a conference in Nairobi.

Dr. Frank Plummer (credit: John Woods, Canadian Press)

Much of what we know about heterosexual AIDS transmission is based on Frank Plummer’s work with Nairobi sex workers innately immune to infection.

Transmission of HIV in breast milk and the protective advantage of male circumcision are among Plummer’s numerous research findings.

Plummer helped set up the National Microbiology Laboratory, in his home town of Winnipeg. There, his name became associated with the fight against the SARS, H1N1 and Ebola viruses.

Listen to my conversation about Frank Plummer – the man and the scientist – with his good friend and colleague Keith Fowke, professor and head of the Department of Medical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases at the University of Manitoba.

+++

Late last January, US President Donald Trump finally announced his so-called “Deal of the Century,” ostensibly aimed at resolving what is commonly referred to as the Israel-Palestine “conflict.”

Predictably, Trump’s deal has been widely referred to in the mainstream media as a “Peace Plan.” It hardly seems like a recipe for peace.

Largely cooked up by his son-in-law Jared Kushner, in consultation with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Trump’s Big Deal seems more like a blueprint for annexation and apartheid, and for consigning to dust all prospects for a truly sovereign Palestinian state.

I discussed Trump’s Deal with Ramzy Baroud. Baroud is a Palestinian writer, journalist and academic, and the founder/publisher of the online Palestine Chronicle. Listen to our conversation in today’s edition of the Green Blues Show.

In this edition of the Green Blues Show, songs by the Reverend Gary Davis and Dr. Isaiah Ross

Share Button