December 28, 2004
The idea of 'self-esteem' and 'what one is worth' in general is the source of a great deal of what's wrong with the world today -consumerism, what we are told we 'deserve' and advertising -'American free-enterprise, capitalist democracy and the right to make as much money as you can and spend it any way you choose -as long as there's no law against it' and selling that to the nations of the world -and all the resource/environment degradation that goes with it and that we leave to posterity.

The article below really says it all 'between the lines' -browser-formatted at recent (my own mid-'90s take on the subject at afroamer).


January 2005 Scientific American Magazine
December 20, 2004
Exploding the Self-Esteem Myth
Boosting people's sense of self-worth has become a national preoccupation. Yet surprisingly, researchshows that such efforts are of little value in fostering academic progress or preventing undesirable behavior.
By Roy F. Baumeister, Jennifer D. Campbell, Joachim I. Krueger and Kathleen D. Vohs

People intuitively recognize the importance of self-esteem to their psychological health, so it isn't particularly remarkable that most of us try to protect and enhance it in ourselves whenever possible. What is remarkable is that attention to self-esteem has become a communal concern, at least for Americans, who see a favorable opinion of oneself as the central psychological source from which all manner of positive outcomes spring. The corollary, that low self-esteem lies at the root of individual and thus societal problems and dysfunctions, has sustained an ambitious social agenda for decades. Indeed, campaigns to raise people's sense of self-worth abound.

Consider what transpired in California in the late 1980s. Prodded by State Assemblyman John Vasconcellos, Governor George Deukmejian set up a task force on self-esteem and personal and social responsibility. Vasconcellos argued that raising self-esteem in young people would reduce crime, teen pregnancy, drug abuse, school underachievement and pollution. At one point, he even expressed the hope that these efforts would one day help balance the state budget, a prospect predicated on the observation that people

with high self-regard earn more than others and thus pay more in taxes. Along with its other activities, the task force assembled a team of scholars to survey the relevant literature. The results appeared in a 1989 volume entitled The Social Importance of Self-Esteem, which stated that "many, if not most, of the major problems plaguing society have roots in the low self-esteem of many of the people who make up society." In reality, the report contained little to support that assertion.

The California task force disbanded in 1995, but a nonprofit organization called the National Association for Self-Esteem (NASE) has picked up its mantle, aiming (according to its mission statement) to "promote awareness of and provide vision, leadership and advocacy for improving the human condition through the enhancement of self-esteem." Vasconcellos, now a California state senator, is on the advisory board.

Was it reasonable for leaders in California to start fashioning therapies and social policies without supportive data? Perhaps so. After all, practicing psychologists and lawmakers must deal with the problems facing them, even before all the relevant research is done. But one can draw on many more studies now than was the case 15 years ago, enough to assess the value of self-esteem in several spheres. Regrettably, those who have been pursuing self-esteem-boosting programs, including the leaders of NASE, have not shown a desire to examine the new work, which is why the four of us recently came together under the aegis of the American Psychological Society to review the scientific literature.

In the Eye of the Beholder
Gauging the value of self-esteem requires, first of all, a sensible way to measure it. Most investigators just ask people what they think of themselves. Naturally enough, the answers are often colored by the common tendency to want to make oneself look good. Unfortunately, psychologists lack any better method to judge self-esteem, which is worrisome because similar self-ratings of other attributes often prove to be way off. Consider, for instance, research on the relation between self-esteem and physical attractiveness.

Some findings even suggest that artificially boosting self-esteem may lower subsequent academic performance.

Several studies have explored correlations between these qualities, generally finding clear positive links when people rate themselves on both properties. It seems plausible that physically attractive people would end up with high self-esteem because they are treated more favorably than unattractive ones--being more popular, more sought after, more valued by lovers and friends, and so forth. But it could just as well be that those who score highly on self-esteem scales by claiming to be wonderful people all around also boast of being physically attractive.

In 1995 Edward F. Diener and Brian Wolsic of the University of Illinois and Frank Fujita of Indiana University South Bend examined this possibility.

They obtained self-esteem scores from a broad sample of the population and then photographed everybody, presenting these pictures to a panel of judges, who evaluated the subjects for attractiveness. Ratings based on full-length photographs showed no significant correlation with self-esteem. Head-and-shoulders close-ups fared slightly better, but even this finding is dubious, because individuals with high self-esteem might take particular care to present themselves well, such as by wearing attractive clothing and jewelry. The 1995 study suggests as much: when the judges were shown pictures of just the participants' unadorned faces, the modest correlation between attractiveness and self-esteem fell to zero. In that same investigation, however, self-reported physical attractiveness was found to have a strong correlation with self-esteem. Clearly, those with high self-esteem are gorgeous in their own eyes but not necessarily so to others.

This discrepancy should be sobering. What seemed at first to be a strong link between physical good looks and high self-esteem turned out to be nothing more than a pattern of consistency in how favorably people rate themselves. A parallel phenomenon affects those with low self-esteem, who are prone to floccinaucinihilipilification, a highfalutin word (among the longest in the Oxford English Dictionary) but one that we can't resist using here, it being defined as "the action or habit of estimating as worthless." That is, people with low self-esteem are not merely down on themselves; they are negative about everything.

This tendency has certainly distorted some assessments. For example, psychologists once thought that people with low self-esteem were especially prejudiced. Early studies, in which subjects simply rated groups to which they did not belong, seemingly confirmed that notion, but thoughtful scholars, such as Jennifer Crocker of the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, questioned this conclusion. After all, if people rate themselves negatively, it is hardly proper to label them as prejudiced for rating people not like themselves similarly. When one uses the difference between the subjects' assessments of their own group and their ratings of other groups as the yardstick for bias, the findings are reversed: people with high self-esteem appear to be more prejudiced. Floccinaucinihilipilification also raises the danger that those who describe themselves disparagingly may describe their lives similarly, thus furnishing the appearance that low self-esteem has unpleasant outcomes.

Given the often misleading nature of self-reports, we set up our review to emphasize objective measures wherever possible--a requirement that greatly reduced the number of relevant studies (from more than 15,000 to about 200). We were also mindful to avoid another fallacy: the assumption that a correlation between self-esteem and some desired behavior establishes causality. Indeed, the question of causality goes to the heart of the debate. If high self-esteem brings about certain positive outcomes, it may well be worth the effort and expense of trying to instill this feeling. But if the correlations mean simply that a positive self-image is a result of success or good behavior--which is, after all, at least as plausible--there is little

to be gained by raising self-esteem alone. We began our two-year effort to sort out the issue by reviewing studies relating self-esteem to academic performance.

School Daze
At the outset, we had every reason to hope that boosting self-esteem would be a potent tool for helping students. Logic suggests that having a good dollop of self-esteem would enhance striving and persistence in school, while making a student less likely to succumb to paralyzing feelings of incompetence or self-doubt. Early work showed positive correlations between self-esteem and academic performance, lending credence to this notion. Modern efforts have, however, cast doubt on the idea that higher self-esteem actually induces students to do better.

Such inferences about causality are possible when the subjects are examined at two different times, as was the case in 1986 when Sheila M. Pottebaum, Timothy Z. Keith and Stewart W. Ehly, all then at the University of Iowa, tested more than 23,000 high school students, first in the 10th and again in the 12th grade. They found that self-esteem in 10th grade is only weakly predictive of academic achievement in 12th grade. Academic achievement in 10th grade correlates with self-esteem in 12th grade only trivially better. Such results, which are now available from multiple studies, certainly do not indicate that raising self-esteem offers students much benefit. Some findings even suggest that artificially boosting self-esteem may lower subsequent performance.

Even if raising self-esteem does not foster academic progress, might it serve some purpose later, say, on the job? Apparently not. Studies of possible links between workers' self-regard and job performance echo what has been found with schoolwork: the simple search for correlations yields some suggestive results, but these do not show whether a good self-image leads to occupational success, or vice versa. In any case, the link is not particularly strong.

The failure to contribute significantly at school or at the office would be easily offset if a heightened sense of self-worth helped someone to get along better with others. Having a good self-image might make someone more likable insofar as people prefer to associate with confident, positive individuals and generally avoid those who suffer from self-doubts and insecurities.

People who regard themselves highly generally state that they are popular and rate their friendships as being of superior quality to those described by people with low self-esteem, who report more negative interactions and less social support. But as Julia Bishop and Heidi M. Inderbitzen-Nolan of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln showed in 1995, these assertions do not reflect reality. The investigators asked 542 ninth-grade students to nominate their most-liked and least-liked peers, and the resulting rankings displayed no correlation whatsoever with self-esteem scores.

A few other methodologically sound studies have found that the same is true for adults. In one of these investigations, conducted in the late 1980s, Duane P. Buhrmester, now at the University of Texas at Dallas, and three colleagues

reported that college students with high levels of self-regard claimed to be substantially better at initiating relationships, better at disclosing things about themselves, better at asserting themselves in response to objectionable behaviors by others, better at providing emotional support and better even at managing interpersonal conflicts. Their roommates' ratings, however, told a different story. For four of the five interpersonal skills surveyed, the correlation with self-esteem dropped to near zero. The only one that remained statistically significant was with the subjects' ability to initiate new social contacts and friendships. This does seem to be one sphere in which confidence indeed matters: people who think that they are desirable and attractive should be adept at striking up conversations with strangers, whereas those with low self-esteem presumably shy away from initiating such contacts, fearing rejection.

One can imagine that such differences might influence a person's love life, too. In 2002 Sandra L. Murray of the University at Buffalo and four colleagues found that people low in self-esteem tend to distrust their partners' expressions of love and support, acting as though they are constantly expecting rejection. Thus far, however, investigators have not produced evidence that such relationships are especially prone to dissolve. In fact, high self-esteem may be the bigger threat: as Caryl E. Rusbult, Gregory D. Morrow and Dennis J. Johnson, all then at the University of Kentucky, showed back in 1987, those who think highly of themselves are more likely than others to respond to problems by severing relations and seeking other partners.

Sex, Drugs, Rock 'n' Roll
How about teenagers? How does self-esteem, or the lack thereof, influence their love life, in particular their sexual activity? Investigators have examined this subject extensively. All in all, the results do not support the idea that low self-esteem predisposes young people to more or earlier sexual activity. If anything, those with high self-esteem are less inhibited, more willing to disregard risks and more prone to engage in sex. At the same time, bad sexual experiences and unwanted pregnancies appear to lower self-esteem.

If not sex, then how about alcohol or illicit drugs? Abuse of these substances is one of the most worrisome behaviors among young people, and many psychologists once believed that boosting self-esteem would prevent such problems. The thought was that people with low self-esteem turn to drinking or drugs for solace. The data, however, do not consistently show that low adolescent self-esteem causes or even correlates with the abuse of alcohol or other drugs. In particular, in a large-scale study in 2000, Rob McGee and Sheila M. Williams of the University of Otago Medical School in New Zealand found no correlation between self-esteem measured between ages nine and 13 and drinking or drug use at age 15. Even when findings do show links between alcohol use and self-esteem, they are mixed and inconclusive. A few studies have shown that high self-esteem is associated with frequent alcohol consumption, but another suggests the opposite. We did

find, however, some evidence that low self-esteem contributes to illicit drug use. In particular, Judy A. Andrews and Susan C. Duncan of the Oregon Research Institute found in 1997 that declining levels of academic motivation (the main focus of their study) caused self-esteem to drop, which in turn led to marijuana use, although the connection was rather weak.

Interpretation of the findings on drinking and drug abuse is probably complicated by the fact that some people approach the experience out of curiosity or thrill seeking, whereas others may use it to cope with or escape from chronic unhappiness. The overall result is that no categorical statements can be made. The same is true for tobacco use, where our study-by-study review uncovered a preponderance of results that show no influence. The few positive findings we unearthed could conceivably reflect nothing more than self-report bias.

Another complication that also clouds these studies is that the category of people with high self-esteem contains individuals whose self-opinions differ in important ways. Yet in most analyses, people with a healthy sense of self-respect are, for example, lumped with those feigning higher self-esteem than they really feel or who are narcissistic. Not surprisingly, the results of such investigations may produce weak or contradictory findings.

Bully for You
For decades, psychologists believed that low self-esteem was an important cause of aggression. One of us (Baumeister) challenged that notion in 1996, when he reviewed assorted studies and concluded that perpetrators of aggression generally hold favorable and perhaps even inflated views of themselves.

Take the bullying that goes on among children, a common form of aggression. Dan Olweus of the University of Bergen was one of the first to dispute the notion that under their tough exteriors, bullies suffer from insecurities and self-doubts. Although Olweus did not measure self-esteem directly, he showed that bullies reported less anxiety and were more sure of themselves than other children. Apparently the same applies to violent adults, as Baumeister discussed in these pages a few years ago [see "More to Explore," below].

After coming to the conclusion that high self-esteem does not lessen a tendency toward violence, that it does not deter adolescents from turning to alcohol, tobacco, drugs and sex, and that it fails to

improve academic or job performance, we got a boost when we looked into how self-esteem relates to happiness. The consistent finding is that people with high self-esteem are significantly happier than others. They are also less likely to be depressed.

One especially compelling study was published in 1995, after Diener and his daughter Marissa, now a psychologist at the University of Utah, surveyed more than 13,000 college students, and high self-esteem emerged as the strongest factor in overall life satisfaction. In 2004 Sonja Lyubomirsky, Chris Tkach and M. Robin DiMatteo of the University of California at Riverside reported data from more than 600 adults ranging in age from 51 to 95. Once again, happiness and self-esteem proved to be closely tied. Before it is safe to conclude that high self-esteem leads to happiness, however, further research must address the shortcomings of the work that has been done so far.

People with high self-esteem are significantly happier than
others. They are also less likely to be depressed.

First, causation needs to be established. It seems possible that high self-esteem brings about happiness, but no research has shown this outcome. The strong correlation between self-esteem and happiness is just that--a correlation. It is plausible that occupational, academic or interpersonal successes cause both happiness and high self-esteem and that corresponding failures cause both unhappiness and low self-esteem. It is even possible that happiness, in the sense of a temperament or disposition to feel good, induces high self-esteem.

Second, it must be recognized that happiness (and its opposite, depression) has been studied mainly by means of self-report, and the tendency of some people toward negativity may produce both their low opinions of themselves and unfavorable evaluations of other aspects of life. In other instances, we were suspicious of self-reports, yet here it is not clear what could replace such assessments. An investigator would indeed be hard-pressed to demonstrate convincingly that a person was less (or more) happy than he or she supposed. Clearly, objective measures of happiness and depression are going to be difficult if not impossible to obtain, but that does not mean self-reports should be accepted uncritically.

What then should we do? Should parents, teachers and therapists seek to boost self-esteem wherever possible? In the course of our literature review, we found some indications that self-esteem is a helpful attribute. It improves persistence in the face of failure. And individuals with high self-esteem sometimes perform better in groups than do those with low self-esteem. Also, a poor self-image is a risk factor for certain eating disorders, especially bulimia--a connection one of us (Vohs) and her colleagues documented in 1999. Other effects are harder to demonstrate with objective evidence, although we are inclined to accept the subjective evidence that self-esteem goes hand in hand with happiness.

So we can certainly understand how an injection of self-esteem might be valuable to the individual. But imagine if a heightened sense of self-worth prompted some people to demand preferential treatment or to exploit their fellows. Such tendencies would entail considerable social costs. And we have found little to indicate that indiscriminately promoting self-esteem in today's children or adults, just for being themselves, offers society any compensatory benefits beyond the seductive pleasure it brings to those engaged in the exercise.

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Virtually all Hollywood films on physically or mentally impaired people are shit because (hollywood disease) they are invariably so romanticized -'Loranzo's Oil', 'Bubble Boy' et cetera.

Attached is an article on the making of 'The Keys To The House' currently playing in Los Angeles -a nose-rub into another aspect of 'the human condition' -a film most people can not walk out of and some might, in a way, prefer not to have seen.


December 26, 2004 Los Angeles Times
Of disability and nobility

An Italian director receives a performance of quiet strength and humor from a teen with multiple disorders.
By Susan King, Times Staff Writer

When Italian director Gianni Amelio set out to cast the role of a disabled teenage boy in his haunting drama "The Keys to the House," he knew exactly where to scout for likely candidates.
   "Swimming is kind of a therapy with this kind of illness," says the veteran director through a translator. "I knew I would find a boy like that in a swimming pool. So I went to a swimming pool near Cinecitta [studios], and on the first day, I met Andrea. It was kind of a sign of destiny."
   Andrea Rossi, who was 16 then, was competing in a race the day he caught Amelio's eye. Rossi, who possesses a smile that doesn't quit, has cerebral palsy, epilepsy and mental retardation. But his disabilities didn't stop him from racing against children who had no such disabilities. "He came in first," says Amelio, laughing. "Why did he come in first? He had challenged the 'normal' kids. He said to them, you can race me, but you have to swim with just one arm and a leg. That's a formidable piece of personality. That is when I became aware that I would have to make the film from a positive point — that he is winning against the handicap in some way."

   "The Keys to the House," which opened Wednesday, stars Kim Rossi Stuart as Gianni, a young man who had abandoned his baby 15 years earlier when the mother died in childbirth and he learned that the child had problems.
   Vivacious, inquisitive and mischievous, Paolo (Andrea Rossi) is both physically and psychologically disabled from the difficult birth and has been living with relatives.
   But now Gianni wants to meet Paolo and agrees to take him to a hospital in Berlin for tests in hopes of reconciling and getting acquainted with him. At the hospital, Gianni meets Nicole (Charlotte Rampling), who has spent years taking care of her disabled daughter and helps Gianni come to terms with the grief and guilt he feels over abandoning Paolo
   Amelio ("Stolen Children") was originally approached to do a film based on the book "Born Twice," which follows the life of a disabled boy from birth to age 32. But he told the producer, "I wouldn't be capable of telling the same story in a film version. It needed a personal experience of my own on the subject to be able to do that. I think I would have strayed from the spirit of the book. I asked if it was possible for me to write my own story."
   He wanted to tell about an "extreme" father and son — "the story of a father who refused his son as soon as he was born.
   "On screen, we practically see this feeling of guilt on his face. This practically deformed child somehow personifies the sense of his guilt. That is why I wanted the role of the father to be played by a very handsome actor, handsome in a classical way. Because being handsome would make that fact stand out more, that his child is deformed."
Film Work As Therapy
During the 10-week production of the film, Rossi underwent a metamorphosis, Amelio reports. "Andrea, like many kids with the same type of problem, is always treated from a physical point of view because adults keep thinking he is mentally unable to develop his own ideas. I had the feeling that Andrea did have some intelligence to express, and the feeling was right."
   Making the movie was mental therapy for Rossi, who turns in a performance of quiet strength, humor and nobility. "This was confirmed by Andrea's doctors," says Amelio. "He has a more adult attitude. He is less detached from things, and he thinks about things more. He has become more mature."
   Rossi's father stood beside Amelio on the set every day.
   "He said, 'I want to be beside you because I want to make sure what point Andrea can reach, and the things he is unable to do,' " recalls Amelio. "Each day I asked Andrea to do something a bit more but always stopped when I knew Andrea couldn't have gone beyond that part."
   Rossi's life, says Amelio, is vastly different from Paolo's. "He lives with a splendid family — with a mother, father and younger sister. They have brought him up as if he was a completely healthy person."
   And he attends regular school. "In Italy, all children are required to go to normal school," Amelio explains. "They have a special teacher that kind of follows them during the day."
   Still, he says, "there is a real problem with regard to disabled children because almost spontaneously we feel sorry for them. So we try not to ask too much of them. I demanded some kind of effort from [Rossi] and he managed to do this. My greatest joy having made the film is that he has something that has gone beyond the screen."
   Amelio didn't spend time rehearsing Rossi and Stuart. "I think the relationship of the actor with the director is more important than the relationship between the actors among themselves. Professionally, actors are very fragile people, even at the level of jealousy. So every actor needs to have the feeling that the director is looking exclusively at him. I wanted to give this feeling to Kim and Charlotte because they are actors."
   Alla Faerovich, the severely disabled young woman who plays Rampling's daughter Nadine, has been a friend of Amelio's since 2001, and he elicits a touching performance from her, as well.
   "She has a different syndrome than Andrea's," he says. "Her situation is worse, but mentally she's completely healthy. She speaks four languages and has an important job in Berlin. She reads a lot. She loves music."
   Amelio chose to set the film's hospital for the disabled in Berlin because he wanted the story to unfold in a city that would be strange for both father and son. "I wanted a disability for the father as well, the disability of being in a foreign city," says the director. "For us Europeans and for some Americans, Berlin reminds us of the Holocaust — a time when children like Andrea were eliminated."
   Rossi is now 17, and, Amelio happily reports, he does his homework. "He didn't used to in the past. All he did before was watch TV. Sometimes he comes over to my house to study. His father told me when the film came out in Rome, a kind of miracle has occurred. Before, Andrea was a disabled child. Now he is a person."

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December 17, 2004 Science Magazine
Documenting Diversity Declines.

From frogs to butterflies, ecologists and environmentalists outdid themselves this year in quantifying peaks and valleys in biodiversity. Disturbing news has come from large studies that show real declines in species richness.

Five hundred herpetologists completed the first global assessment of amphibians, and the news was not good. At workshops hosted by Conservation International and the World Conservation Union, research- ers presented data on all 5700 known amphibian species. They concluded that more than 30% were vulnerable to extinction, and some were critically endangered. Half these species might disappear over the next century, victims of overharvesting, loss of habitat, and unknown causes.

Naturalists who have tracked butterflies, plants, and birds in the United Kingdom for up to 40 years also turned up sobering statistics. Annual surveys in 10-kilometer quadrants showed that on average butterflies had disappeared from 13% of the squares. Researchers calculated that 71% of butterfly species had lost ground. Systematic counts of bird species in the U.K. showed that their numbers had dropped by half.

That work also found that 28% of the native plant species had disappeared from at least one square. Another U.K. study took a systematic look at grasslands growing on nutrient-poor soils. It revealed that species richness drops as the deposition of inorganic nitrogen--a product of industrial processes--increases. In some cases, the number of species declined by 23%.

Going, going ... This leopard frog is losing ground.

Diversity data far beyond the British Isles came from a compilation of 40 ecological studies. Lasting 2 to 5 decades, these efforts turned up 20 places where warming had changed the natural history of those areas. For example, red foxes are showing up north of their territory, barging in on Arctic foxes. Plants are flowering earlier. Birds are changing their migration habits and settling in places where food supplies have already peaked.

Bottom line: Biodiversity continues to be in trouble.

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'humor' from The Economist Magazine

December 19, 2004 The Economist Magazine
The servant problem
A modest proposal

How to solve the biggest issue in modern politics

FORGET Iraq and budget deficits. The most serious political problem on both sides of the Atlantic is none of these. It is a difficulty that has dogged the ruling classes for millennia. It is the servant problem.

In Britain David Blunkett, the home secretary, has resigned over an embarrassment (or one of many embarrassments, in a story involving his ex-girlfriend, her husband, two pregnancies and some DNA) concerning a visa for a Filipina nanny employed by his mistress (see article). His office speeded it through for reasons unconnected to the national shortage of unskilled labour. Mr Blunkett resigned ahead of a report by Sir Alan Budd, an economist who is investigating the matter at the government's request.

In America Bernard Kerik, the president's nominee for the Department of Homeland Security, withdrew last week because he had carelessly employed a Mexican nanny whose Play-Doh skills were in better order than her paperwork (see article). Mr Kerik also remembered that he hadn't paid her taxes. The nominee has one or two other “issues” (an arrest warrant in 1998, and allegations of dodgy business dealings and extra-marital affairs). But employing an illegal nanny would probably have been enough to undo him, as it has several other cabinet and judicial appointees in recent years.

There is an easy answer to the servant problem—obvious to economists, if not to the less clear-sighted. Perhaps Sir Alan, a dismal scientist of impeccable rationality, will be thoughtful enough to point it out in his report.
Parents are not the only people who have difficulty getting visas for workers. All employers face restrictive immigration policies which raise labour costs.

Some may respond by trying to fiddle the immigration system, but most deal with the matter by exporting jobs. In the age of the global economy, the solution to the servant problem is simple: rather than importing the nanny, offshore the children.

Make mine a monoglot
Many working parents would hardly notice the difference, and there would be clear advantages beyond lower child-care costs. Freeing up rich-country real estate currently clogged with cots and playpens would lower rents; liberating time currently wasted in story-telling and tummy-tickling would raise productivity. For parents who wished to be present at bed-time, video-conference facilities could be arranged.

Luddites and sentimentalists will whinge about the disadvantages of raising a brood in, say, Beijing. Language, for instance: what if one found oneself in possession of a posse of mini-Mandarin speakers? Yet in the age of global culture, few sensible modern parents are susceptible to such small-mindedness. If they were, they wouldn't so commonly leave their offspring in the care of monoglot Mexicans or Poles.

Unthinking conservatism may spawn resistance to this eminently sensible idea. But politicians, the people most often embarrassed by the servant problem, should be keen to popularise it—not just for themselves, but also in the national interest. Offshoring could help solve several problems afflicting rich-world economies, including that of ageing populations: after all, you get more bairns for your buck in Bangalore. And why stop at toddlers? Difficult teenagers, the offspring most liable to vex political parents, could be conveniently removed: imagine how much easier George Bush's life would have been had his twins been confined to, say, Pyongyang.

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from The Economist Magazine, aristocracy is alive and well in los angeles (and 'incested' of course) -everybody 'equal', but some more equal than others-

December 20, 2004 Los Angeles Times
Getty Deal Raises Questions

Conflict-of-interest specter haunts land sale to Eli Broad, a close friend of the trust's CEO.
By Jason Felch, Robin Fields and Louise Roug, Times Staff Writers

The J. Paul Getty Trust sold a valuable piece of Brentwood real estate in 2002 for $700,000 less than its appraised value to billionaire philanthropist Eli Broad, a close friend and professional associate of Getty Chief Executive Barry Munitz, according to trust documents and officials.
   Munitz directed his aides to delay listing the property so that he could discuss a transaction directly with Broad, despite what Getty records call "many requests to purchase the property," which is adjacent to Broad's hilltop estate.
   Getty executives now say they conducted a proper sale and received full value for the wooded half acre. Broad received no discount, they said, adding that they had consulted counsel to make sure they followed the law.

Eli Broad

Barry Munitz

   "I played no meaningful, no material, no in-any-way-relevant role in the transaction," Munitz said in an interview. "Everything I did was to try to have the lawyers and the appraisers and the third-party people be sure that there was no conflict of interest for me."

   But Getty documents show Munitz spelled out negotiating strategies to his deputies, even as he acknowledged that his relationship with Broad required him to stay out of the deal. He also discussed the property in person with Broad, he said.
   A 2000 appraisal put the property's value at $2.7 million, $700,000 more than the sale price in 2002. Median home prices increased 12% in Brentwood during that time, according to a real estate information service.
   Getty officials say the land was worth less than the $2.7 million appraisal because a number of limiting conditions would have made it costly and difficult to develop.
   Penny Cobey, the Getty's acting general counsel at the time, refused to comment on her advice regarding the land sale, citing attorney-client privilege. But she said: "It should not be concluded … that I approved the proposed sale or advised that it go forward."
   Munitz's connection to Broad, which included working vacations abroad with their wives, gives the Getty president entry into a tight-knit group of leaders in education, philanthropy and politics. Broad's ties to Munitz and the other Getty board members gives him sway with those who run the world's richest museum.
   Foundation executives and tax law specialists consulted by The Times about the sale said it raises legal and ethical questions that could trigger scrutiny from the state attorney general's office or the Internal Revenue Service, which regulate tax-exempt organizations.
   Private foundations such as the Getty are exempt from paying taxes because their assets are dedicated to public use, not private benefit. When selling property, they are required to get fair market value.
   "The obligation is to always put the interests of the trust first," said Arthur Rieman, managing director of the Law Firm for Non-Profits in Los Angeles, a center that advises foundations nationwide. "If someone gets a discount because of a personal relationship, then that duty is violated."
   Munitz's ties to Broad created a conflict of interest that should have kept him from having any role in the transaction, Rieman and other experts said.
   "It could be argued that Munitz breached his duty to the organization as a trustee," Rieman said.
Munitz's relationship with Broad began over a decade ago and has deepened since he came to lead the $6.8-billion Getty Trust.
   They met soon after Munitz arrived in California to become chancellor of the California State University system in 1991.
   Munitz asked his staff for a list of 10 influential people with ties to CSU, and invited them to a small dinner party at his house in Long Beach. One of them was Broad, a former CSU trustee and one of the nation's largest philanthropic donors.
   Rooted in education, their association soon branched into other realms.
   In 1994, Broad recommended Munitz for a position on the board at SunAmerica Inc., his giant insurance conglomerate.
   In 1997, Munitz left CSU for the Getty. Two years later, after AIG acquired SunAmerica, Munitz was appointed to the board of KB Home, a position that pays $80,000 a year plus stock options. Broad was chairman of that company until 1993.
   Not long after Munitz took the Getty's helm, Broad invited Munitz to sail along the coast of southern France on his yacht, mixing recreation with visits to a string of small museums.
   " 'Don't you think it would be nice if you actually knew something about what you are about to get into?' " Munitz recalled Broad, a noted art collector, teasingly asking him. Munitz came to the Getty with no background in the art world.
   It was Munitz's first invitation to join Broad's "boat trip summers" and travels to such places as Croatia, Greece and Cuba with a circle of entrepreneurs and philanthropists. The group sometimes included then Los Angeles Mayor Richard J. Riordan and billionaire investor Ronald W. Burkle.
   Back in Los Angeles, Munitz and Broad's collaborations in the arts, education and politics continued.
   Munitz was among a small group of power brokers who walked down Grand Avenue with Broad on a Saturday morning in 1999, helping to inspire the billionaire's vision for downtown revitalization.
   Munitz said Broad's interests never extended to the Getty. The period of art that Broad collects is not featured at the Getty, Munitz said, and Broad has never expressed interest in becoming a trustee.
   "Eli is a tenacious, impatient, extraordinary person — I love him dearly," he added. "But I would never expect that I was going to look up around my board table and see Eli."
   But Getty expense records show that Munitz has a business relationship with Broad that involves the Getty.
   In August 1998, after a tour of Greece on Broad's yacht that included visits to Getty-sponsored projects, Munitz was reimbursed by the trust for a $3,200 check he wrote to Broad to cover "gratuities and the use of the phone" on Broad's boat.
A cover letter to Broad from Munitz said the check was "only a very small token of adequate participation, and stands only to reflect our gratitude for your support and for your elegant energy."
   The Getty paid for Munitz and his wife to dine at Valentino in Santa Monica with Broad and his wife, Edythe, Getty trustee Louise Bryson and her husband, John Bryson, chairman of Edison International, and another couple. The "working dinner" included conversations about the Getty, education and public television, expense records show.
   In 2001, expense records show, Munitz was reimbursed $5,000 by the Getty for "yacht expenses" after another trip to Greece, this time with the Broads, Riordans and Burkles, as well as AIG SunAmerica Chief Executive Jay S. Wintrob and his wife.
   During Munitz's tenure, more than half the seats on the Getty's board of trustees have opened up. Some of those who traveled with Munitz and Broad have filled those spots. Today, at least six of the 13 trustees have links to Broad.
   Burkle and former Univision President Luis Nogales sit with Munitz on the board of KB Home. Wintrob, added to the Getty board earlier this year, is chief executive of AIG SunAmerica, where Broad is chairman.
   In addition, Ramon C. Cortines, former interim superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District, who was on the Getty board when Munitz arrived, and USC President Steven Sample, who joined the board this year, are advisors to Broad on education initiatives.
In the late 1990s, the Getty did what officials say was a routine review of the trust's property holdings and decided to sell the land across the street from Broad's front gate. The trust had acquired the land years earlier.
   Today, Munitz downplays the value of the lot. "At an 89-degree angle to the earth, this is not an attractive lot to build on," he said.
   But an independent appraisal obtained by the Getty in 1992, which only considered about 60% of the land included in the 2002 property sale, painted a different picture.
   The land is located in "the most prestigious neighborhood in West Los Angeles and the standard by which all others are measured," it said, estimating its value at $1.55 million. Despite the "moderately steep terrain" on its eastern side, the property's "highest and best use … is as a site for a single-family residence."
   In 2000, a second appraisal done for the Getty put the value of the full lot at $2.7 million.
   The initial plan was to list the property publicly, soliciting competitive bids, Getty documents show. The asking price was $2.295 million.
   Real estate broker Joan McGoohan said the Getty asked her to approach Oakmont Drive residents first to assess their interest. Specifically, she was asked to approach Broad.
   "He basically said, 'Not interested, too expensive,' " McGoohan said.
   At the same time, Broad's representatives say he made it clear that he did not want the Getty property developed. A former Getty employee said Broad's attorneys raised a gamut of potential building and fire code issues that could stall construction indefinitely.
   Broad's interest in blocking development on the land would be obvious to anyone who has visited his home, designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry. A large new home there could have crowded the dramatic entrance to Broad's estate and detracted from the sense of space surrounding it.
   Broad would not agree to an interview. Through a spokeswoman, he said he counteroffered $1 million for the land.
   At that point, the Getty reversed its plan to list the property publicly, McGoohan said, instead opting to negotiate directly with Broad.
   "They didn't want to offend Mr. Broad," she said. "They didn't want to upset him."
   Officials at large nonprofits say there are ways to protect a foundation's interests when dealing with potential conflicts of interest and property of debated value.
   "I would advise that it be marketed publicly," said Janne Gallagher, vice president and general counsel for the Council on Foundations.
   "We would certainly have it appraised and sell it through an established broker or independent source," said Nancy Feller, associate general counsel of the Ford Foundation. "We would not do it ourselves."
   In fact, Ford Foundation policy prohibits the sale of foundation property to employees, their friends or relatives, even at fair market value, she said.
   In the case of the Getty property, Munitz stepped into the process.
   In a document obtained by The Times, he instructed two senior deputies on options for dealing with Broad and directed them to send a formal memorandum back to him that included those options.
   Munitz's draft ordered his staff to delay listing the property and proposed several alternatives to a direct sale to Broad. One option he suggested was for the Getty to promise not to develop the property in exchange for a tax- deductible donation from Broad.
   Another was for Broad to donate "an appropriate residence, named for the donor" to the Getty in exchange for a commitment not to develop the land. The only negotiating partner mentioned in the outline was Broad.
   Yet, aware of his ties to Broad, Munitz also instructed his deputies to include a sentence saying, "It is essential to emphasize that our attorneys and advisors feel very strongly about certain alternatives that would not be beneficial to either party, and there [sic] concern that you [Munitz] must maintain some reasonable distance from this decision given your close relationship with Eli."
   Munitz sent his draft to Stephen Rountree, the Getty's chief operating officer, and Russell Gould, the senior vice president for finance and investments.
   They responded on Jan. 12, 2000, with a final memo addressed to Munitz. "At your request, we have now delayed the listing of the Oakmont properties with Joan McGoohan in order to allow you a chance to discuss the property with Eli Broad next week," it began.
   The Gould-Rountree version dropped Munitz's idea of a swap or donation from Broad, but otherwise closely followed his draft.
   It added that the Getty had set the asking price on the land at $2.295 million, factoring in the obstacles to its development. It said the trust already had interest from multiple potential buyers, including from an employee of the Getty Center's own architect, Richard Meier.
   "We have received many requests to purchase the property, so our expectation was that the property would sell fairly easily for the construction of one great house or as additional personal property for one of the neighbors," Rountree and Gould wrote.
   Stressing the property's sharply increasing value, Rountree and Gould suggested that the trust might simply hold on to it.
   The yardstick for whether the Getty had received fair market value would be the appraisals and the real estate agent's assessment, the memo said: "As you know, our auditors and the attorney general will examine any sale of the property to determine that the board acted as responsible fiduciaries."
   Negotiations with Broad continued for two years.
   Broad said he did not recall meeting with Munitz to discuss the property, and said he never negotiated with Munitz himself, only with Rountree, Broad's spokeswoman said.
   The Getty did not seek a new appraisal for the Oakmont land, a step the state attorney general's office recommends that all foundations take in such circumstances.
   "If you're exercising good business judgment, why would [you] sell it without a current appraisal?" asked Belinda Johns, senior assistant for the attorney general's charitable trust section. Although Johns would not comment on any specific case, she said in general, "You'd want to maximize your assets. In fact, you have an obligation to."
   In April 2002, Rountree approved the sale of Getty land to Broad. The final price: $2 million.
   The board did not vote on the transaction but was informed of it, Getty officials said. John Biggs, the current chairman of the board of trustees, referred questions about the land sale to the Getty spokeswoman.
   The Getty says the documents demonstrate that Munitz handled the sale ethically and responsibly.
   In a written response to The Times, Getty general counsel Peter Erichsen defended the trust's actions. "The lot was sold at arm's length for fair market value to the most practical and possible buyer," he said. "Dr. Munitz suggested to Messrs. Rountree and Gould language for them to include in a memorandum to Dr. Munitz, that he could then share with Mr. Broad, to make abundantly clear that it was essential for Mr. Broad and his representatives to work directly with Messrs. Rountree and Gould, because Dr. Munitz could not negotiate or conclude any transaction with him."
   Erichsen said the Getty had received a lower valuation for the land in 1999 that put its worth between $1.5 million and $2 million, depending on the usability of the lot.
   Further, he said, the property would have required a variance to develop, and as a neighbor Broad would have been able to protest any proposed development with the city.
   Broad also may have been able to prevent access to Oakmont Drive, a private road maintained by a neighborhood association, Erichsen said. Claymont Drive, which also borders the property, is a public road.
   By negotiating directly with Broad, the Getty saved a broker's commission, Erichsen noted. Realtors say they usually get 5% of the sale price, in this case $100,000. It also saved on other transaction costs, he added.
   Rountree is now president of the Los Angeles Music Center, where Broad and Getty trustees Burkle and Lloyd E. Cotsen are among 12 honorary directors.
   Rountree said the Getty got a fair price because the Getty's appraisals did not factor in a number of limiting conditions on how the land could be used, such as unresolved questions about access to the two roads it abuts and the lot's steep terrain.
   The statement from Broad's representative also said "the appraisal did not take into account that the lot could not be developed because it was in a ravine and on a private street."
   Real estate professionals sometimes do factor in such limiting conditions. The Getty would not provide The Times with a copy of the $2.7-million appraisal written in 2000.
   "We were overjoyed to sell the parcel for $2 million," Rountree said. "Mr. Broad was well aware of the negative factors affecting the lot, and I know that he felt that $2 million was a very stiff price under the circumstances."

Land Deal
In 2002, the J. Paul Getty Trust sold Eli Broad a Brentwood property for $2 million. Two years earlier, an appraisal had said it was worth $2.7 million. Getty Chief Executive Barry Munitz, a close friend and professional associate of Broad, personally directed the early stages of the deal, Getty documents show. Experts say the deal raises legal and ethical questions.
* The Getty Trust sold the property to the Broad Revocable Trust on April 23, 2002, for $2 million.
* The property totals 26,392 square feet, or 0.6 acres.

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Page 6
the great thing about 'American free-enterprise, capitalist democracy and the right to make as much money as you can and spend it any way you choose' is that we make it possible for people thruout the world to join us in 'The Great American Consumption'.

December 16, 2004 Los Angeles Times
An Ethnic Center's New Pull

Koreatown was once the place one left. Now, focused on a shiny strip of Wilshire, it's a mecca for suburbanites and wealthy immigrants.
By K. Connie Kang, Times Staff Writer

Set between the Byzantine Revival dome of the Wilshire Boulevard Temple and the dancing neon lights of the Art Deco Wiltern Theatre, a new landmark is taking root along the storied avenue.
   With its futuristic glass facade and two-story television screen flashing Korean ads, the Aroma Spa and Sports Center is a stark visual contrast to the neighborhood's faded gems like the Ambassador Hotel and Bullocks Wilshire department store. But it is a sign that luxury is returning to Wilshire, and that Koreatown itself is on the move.
   Aroma, a five-story shopping center, spa and athletic club, is a replica of a similar facility in Seoul, where pampering affluent customers is a fine art.
   Up its marble-floored courtyard, Aroma offers massages, baths, saunas and steam rooms, including some with jade floors and mud walls of red clay imported from South Korea's Cholla province. With the push of a button, golfers can summon a waitress to bring freshly squeezed orange juice while they practice at the indoor driving range.

Koreatown - Tim Cho, 15, practices his swing in the indoor/outdoor golf range at Aroma Spa and Sports Center in Koreatown. The driving range, which is open to the public, features three levels and automatic ball feeders. The five-story, glass and steel building which houses the golf range is a stark contrast to the neighborhood's faded gems like the Ambassador Hotel and the Wiltern Theatre.

   It caters to a new generation of affluent Koreans who are changing the city center.
   Some are immigrants from South Korea, concerned about economic instability in their country, who invest in California businesses and real estate. Such moves entitle them to an investment visa, known as an E-2, which enables them to stay in the United States.
   Others helped form the community in the 1970s and '80s, but then left it for bigger homes and better schools in the suburbs. With their children now in college or working, they are coming back.
   "In the old days, it was a status symbol to live away from Koreatown," said Sun-Kil Pak, who moved to Koreatown a year ago from the Westside, where she had lived since the late 1980s. "These days, you're almost embarrassed to live far away. When you go to meetings at night, people tease you, 'Why do you live so far away? Why are you driving home so late?' "
   The influx is helping shift Koreatown's geography. The community was formed in the late 1960s and early '70s along a dilapidated stretch of Olympic Boulevard near Western Avenue. But now, Wilshire is emerging as the main drag, especially for the newcomers.
   Developers are converting several high-rise office buildings along Wilshire Boulevard into luxury apartments. A few blocks away, the shuttered I. Magnin department store, for generations a hangout for white-gloved ladies who lunched, has become Wilshire Galleria, an upscale Korean arcade featuring high-end jewelry and apparel, beauty treatment boutiques and an art gallery.
   The eight California-chartered Korean banks in Koreatown are all within several blocks of Wilshire, sometimes called the "Korean Wall Street." They now have combined assets of about $9 billion.
   The 2000 Census found 92,000 Koreans in Los Angeles — about half of them within the traditional Koreatown boundaries of Hoover Street on the east, Norton Avenue on the west, Pico Boulevard on the south and Beverly Boulevard on the north.
   But real estate brokers, bankers and community leaders estimate that several thousand more have arrived in the last few years — from South Korea and the suburbs. The local banks also report an increase in investment from South Korea, a sign that immigrants are purchasing property and businesses.
   Koreatown has been known for its hip and exotic night spots, but the district has also seen a boom in businesses geared toward the older generation. In addition to the steam rooms at Aroma, patrons now crowd into a variety of "song rooms" in Koreatown, where they can belt out nostalgic 1950s and '60s-era songs from their youth.
   "There are two cultures in Koreatown," said Charles J. Kim, a child of Koreatown who is national president of the Korean American Coalition. "Sauna culture and cafe culture."
   For Jung-In Lee, 53, the decision to move back to Koreatown, where her family lived in the early 1980s, came within months after their younger son, Jim, started at UC Berkeley in 1998.
   During the nearly 12 years the family lived in Walnut, Lee often spent three hours a day commuting to and from her Koreatown job in publishing, she said.
   Lee said her family moved out of Koreatown because of schools and crime. She said that when she saw one of her sons go into a liquor store with a classmate after school, she realized it was time for the family to move.
   But during her time in the suburbs, she was so stressed out from the commute that she barely had time to enjoy their four-bedroom "dream house."
   "Now, I have a life," said Lee, who lives a mile from her office. "I can play tennis before going to work. I can even get up at 8 o'clock and make it to work on time. Can you imagine that?"
   Their younger son lives at home while working and attending graduate school. But the older son, John, an associate at the downtown law firm Nossaman, Guthner, Knox & Elliott, lives in the Miracle Mile — "a 20-minute jog" from his parents' place.
   "I enjoy being right in the middle between downtown and Westside," he said. "It's 15 minutes door-to-door" from his apartment to his office.
   There are trade-offs, of course. Her husband, Sang-Chul Kim, a 55-year-old business consultant, said he misses the spaciousness of Walnut and a backyard with fruit trees.
   "Koreatown is congested and doesn't look clean," he said.
   But its proximity to the mansions of Hancock Park makes up for it, he said. "Every evening after work, I take a walk in Hancock Park. I enjoy all those beautifully tended gardens without paying a gardener."
   Insurance agent Nam-Tai Cho, who lived in Northridge, Van Nuys and Calabasas for two decades while raising his family, likens living in Koreatown to "coming home."
   He and his wife, Hea-Kyung, bought a condo on Wilshire Boulevard near his office 18 months ago.
   "Sometimes I go home for lunch," Cho said. "If I have a meeting at night, I go home to take a short break first." On Monday evenings after work, the Chos attend a weekly Bible class at their church nearby — something they couldn't even consider when they lived in the San Fernando Valley.
   Since they moved to Koreatown, they have changed homes twice, settling a year ago not far from Aroma.
   A leader in the transformation of Wilshire is David Y. Lee, 50, an internist turned real estate tycoon.
   His Jamison Properties Inc., which owns 27 high-rise buildings on Wilshire, is by far the largest landlord in Koreatown. Lee began buying in 1995, when insurance companies such as Travelers, John Hancock and Equitable were leaving the area.
   Over the last few years, those office buildings have been filled by a mix of tenants, including government agencies and trade schools as well as Korean entrepreneurs and professionals.
   His current projects include a shopping center behind the Equitable Plaza at Wilshire and Alexandria, and three condominium complexes, with 190 units.
   Lee believes that the recent influx of Korean professionals has helped the revival, though he said it is by no means complete.
   Concerns about crime remain a nagging issue that keeps people away — especially young families.
   Moreover, the area has yet to attract high-end non-Korean restaurants, boutiques, bookstores and movie theaters. Lee and others had once hoped the Ambassador Hotel site could be used to lure upscale retailers to the area. But the Los Angeles Unified School District, which owns the land, intends to build a school there.
   "Not getting the Ambassador Hotel was a loss for the Korean community," he said.
   Despite these shortcomings, there is no question that Koreatown is in demand.
   "All of a sudden, the area is becoming hip with places to go," said Jack Kyser, chief economist for the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp.
   Real estate agents are hard pressed to locate newer condos and townhouses near Wilshire for their clients.
   The scarcity of desirable residential stock has hiked condo prices to $550,000 and up, according to real estate agents.
   "They're overpriced, but it's a case of supply and demand," said Suky Lee, a real estate agent with Nelson, Shelton & Associates in Beverly Hills, who has many Korean clients.
   Adding to the crunch are investors from South Korea, who see Koreatown as a safe harbor to invest a portion of their assets. To people from Seoul, where an average condo runs $1 million, even the most expensive condos in Koreatown can seem like a bargain.
   "They may not look that nice from the outside, but on the inside, they have nice wooden floors and beautiful kitchens," said E.J. Kim, president of Calvest Realty. "So, they don't mind spending $750,000 for a condo or a townhouse."
   For visitors from South Korea, one way to remain in the United States is by investing in residential property, restaurants, coffee shops, factories, strip malls or other businesses, say Koreatown bankers and lawyers.
   Then, they can apply for the E-2 investment visa.
   That's what Scott Hwang, 32, did soon after arriving in Los Angeles from Seoul in 2001 on a student visa. He bought a restaurant in Koreatown and operated it for nearly two years. Earlier this year, he sold it and bought Cafe Spot at the corner of 6th and Catalina streets. He also bought a condo on Wilshire at the edge of Hancock Park.
   The Spot, with oak paneling and tables, and an extensive menu of beverages and desserts, is dignified enough to attract older customers by day and hip enough to draw younger Koreans by night.
   Hwang's investment enabled him to get an E-2 visa, which means he can stay here as long as he continues to own a business.
   He spends most of his time running the cafe, which is open until 4 a.m., and handling other business matters. He heads to Aroma each day to work out.
   Hwang, who was in the car repair business in Seoul, said his days are busy but rewarding. He regrets not having family close by to help make decisions, though he adds he is looking for a wife.
   "In America, you are rewarded for the work you do. It gives me much joy to work," he said.
   To qualify for an E-2 visa, an applicant is required to make a "substantial investment," which means about $150,000 to $250,000, said immigration law attorney David Y. Kim. The visa also enables the investor's spouse to get a work visa and their children to come live here.
   It also could mean huge savings in tuition for Korean students in the University of California system. Some South Koreans buy condos in Koreatown for their children who attend colleges in the area.
   Benjamin Hong, president and chief executive of Nara Bank, estimated that up to a third of the assets of the eight Korean banks in Los Angeles come from South Korean investments. At least 10% of customers at the bank's Olympic Boulevard branch making loan requests are seeking E-2 visas, said branch manager Young K. Oh.
   No one knows how many E-2 visas are issued to Korean nationals, because the federal immigration agency does not maintain statistics by country.
   But several prominent Koreatown immigration lawyers said the number of clients seeking E-2 visas has more than doubled in the last two years.
   The changes have created a Koreatown that is heavy on Korean adults but light on children. Even parents who work in the area complain about the schools and lack of parks.
   But there are some signs that this too is slowly changing.
   Ophthalmologist Paul C. Lee, 41, his wife, Candice, and their two young children are relatively recent arrivals.
   Lee opened his Lasik surgery clinic in Koreatown four years ago, commuting from the family's home in Temecula. The drive was so long that he ended up renting an apartment in Torrance.
   The Lees then bought a townhouse on Wilshire, a five-minute drive to his office and their children's school at St. James Episcopal Church on Wilshire. Recently, they traded in the townhouse for a house, committed to raising Bryanna, 7, and Brennan, 5, in Koreatown.
   Koreatown doesn't offer the athletic fields and other suburban amenities of Temecula. But it's close to his mother, offers plenty of Korean food and culture for Lee's family, and feels like home.
   "I've come to appreciate the confluence of different cultures," Lee said. "I want my children to be exposed to that."

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the subject here is not really deaths due to flooding, but overpopulation and logging and flooding and death.

December 11, 2004 The Economist Magazine
Floods in the Philippines
The usual suspects

The government has few options bar rhetoric

AS THE toll of dead and missing from landslides and flash floods in the north-east of the country passed 1,500 last weekend, President Gloria Arroyo led a chorus of blame directed at illegal logging. It was a familiar refrain, heard almost every year since 1991, when floods killed at least 5,000 in the eastern district of Ormoc, and since when little has been done to counter deforestation.

Hundreds of logs that appeared to have been felled by saws lay amid the wreckage of the most ravaged communities, in the provinces of Quezon and Aurora, suggesting that deforestation did, indeed, contribute to the destruction brought about by a not untypical series of tropical storms. However, this is still an assumption. Given the human suffering, it is politically more palatable for Mrs Arroyo to blame businessmen engaged in illegal logging, rather than government officials for taking bribes to allow them to do it, or her own reluctance to tackle population growth. A fast-growing population means there are more poor slash-and-burn farmers, and more people living in marginal areas liable to flooding or landslides.

President Arroyo reacted by ordering the suspension of all logging, legal or illegal, although subsequently exceptions began to emerge. She compared illegal loggers to terrorists, and put Victor Corpus, a former military-intelligence chief and one-time communist guerrilla, in charge of a drive to stamp it out. Mrs Arroyo pressed Congress to pass a law putting an end to all logging. The Philippines already has laws to prevent the indiscriminate cutting of timber, but they are not properly enforced.

Besides, action against logging is probably too late. It is thought that more than half the Philippines' land area of 300,000 square kilometres (116,000 square miles) was forest a century ago. Now only about 70,000 sq km remain. If the thousands who have perished since the Ormoc disaster were the victims of deforestation, it is likely that the floods and landslides that killed them were the result of damage done to hillsides and river beds years beforehand.

The best solution is to plant trees on a heroic scale. But the billions of dollars required to do it are not available to a government in the throes of a fiscal crisis from which it does not expect to escape until 2010. The sad truth is that years of floods and landslides lie ahead.

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Page 8
December 12, 2004
The Daily Breeze
A vicious cycle
The United States is deporting gang members but there's a boomerang effect: The culture is spreading across the Americas and winning recruits who see Los Angeles as the promised land.
By S. Lynne Walker
Copley News Service

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras -- Marlon Fuentes is a big man in his cell block at Honduras' largest prison. His face is tattooed. His talk is tough. He menaces with threatening stares.
   A gang member from Hollywood, Fuentes spends his time behind bars impressing Honduran "homies" with his exploits in California. He joined Los Angeles' infamous 18th Street gang when he was 12, was arrested for selling dope and brandishing a deadly weapon, then deported in 1995.
   Fuentes, 27, is the United States' violent export, a Honduran citizen shipped home under an immigration policy that Central American governments insist has helped spread the deadly gang culture throughout the Americas.
   From Honduras to Hollywood and back to Honduras again, Fuentes moved in a distorted world where gang members identify themselves with tattoos and build networks via the Internet that bypass international borders.
   Two decades ago, gangs were rare in Central America.
   But in the mid-1990s, the United States stepped up deportations of criminals, many of them gang members from the 18th Street and rival Mara Salvatrucha 13.

Marlon Fuentes, 27, joined Los Angeles' 18th Street gang when he was 12 and built a 13-page rap sheet. He was deported in 1995.

   Today, gangs are Central America's No. 1 crime problem.
   Thousands of violent young men experienced in handling sophisticated weapons and evading law enforcement have been sent back to countries they haven't seen since they were children.
   Some are dropouts. Many barely speak Spanish.
   They survive by building networks of teenagers who are abandoned, unemployed and devoid of hope.
   For these new gang members, as well as the deported veterans, the goal is the same: to make their way back to the United States and reach the gang mecca of Los Angeles.
   L.A. gang members teach their new recruits what they know best -- robbing, stealing cars, selling drugs and, sometimes, killing.
   "We've done a great job of exporting the gang culture all over the world," said Al Valdez, supervising investigator of the Orange County District Attorney's Office gang unit. "Now the gang phenomenon is international."

   Today, more than 35,000 youths are members of gangs in Honduras, a country of 7 million people. El Salvador has approximately 30,000 gang members and Guatemala has 14,000. In Mexico, where nearly 1,000 Central American gang members have been arrested in the past two years, gangs are taking hold in cities on the southern and northern borders, including Tijuana.
   The deportations haven't slowed the growth of gangs in the United States. Since 1992, the number of gangs has increased 625 percent, according to U.S. immigration officials.
   The National Youth Gang Center estimates the United States now has 750,000 gang members. California has roughly 365,000 members, 100,000 of them in Los Angeles County. Every state in the nation now reports being plagued by gangs.
   "I sound like Paul Revere riding across the country and shouting the alarm, 'The gangs are coming. The gangs are coming,' " said Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton.
   Gang members deported from the West Coast sometimes sneak back across the border and head for East Coast cities. Since they are not known by local police, they can extend the reach of their gangs into virgin territory.
   "We're everywhere," boasted a Mara Salvatrucha 13, or MS 13, gang member in Los Angeles. "Honduras, Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, L.A., Washington, New York, Denver. There's a few in Missouri. There's homies in Canada, too. Wherever we go, we recruit more people. There's no way they can stop us. We're going to keep on multiplying."
   Gang experts said U.S. immigration officials failed to anticipate the effect of deportations on other countries.
   "The world is too global to export a problem and not expect it to come back," said David Brotherton, a professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York who has authored two books on gangs.
   "In El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, there's a whole new inner city youth subculture that originated in the First World," he said.
   "We've created this insoluble problem and these countries can't respond. There's no social work infrastructure. There's no rehabilitation. There's no money. They have enough trouble just providing basics for their own people."
   For Central America's countries, the problem is certain to grow early next year when the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, launches a nationwide gang-enforcement program.
   "We're trying to come up with ideas and different strategies" to combat gangs whose violent activities "pose a serious threat to national security," said Michael Keegan, the ICE spokesperson in Washington, D.C., on gang enforcement.
   Already, ICE agents are patrolling U.S. cities and rounding up foreign-born gang members.
   In Charlotte, N.C., more than 100 gang members were arrested during an ICE operation last year. In San Diego, ICE agents arrested 45 gang members during a five-week operation in October and November.
   In Los Angeles, where more than half the homicides are gang-related, ICE set up an international gang crimes unit three months ago and began exchanging intelligence with the police department.
   Bratton favors the new initiative. "I think deportation works," he said.
   With more gang members being sent home, Central American countries are desperately searching for their own strategies to combat gang violence.
   The Honduran congress last year unanimously passed one of the toughest anti-gang laws in the hemisphere.
   El Salvador followed suit with its own version of what has become known as the Mano Dura, or "firm hand" law, which allows police to detain any young man with a gang tattoo. Mexico's southernmost state of Chiapas moved in that direction in May, approving five-year prison sentences for simply belonging to a gang.
   The crackdown has raised international concerns that gang members are being hunted down and killed by police. Even so, governments throughout the Americas are pushing ahead to forge a united front against the 18th Street and MS 13 gangs.
   Mexico City's former police chief spent a week in Honduras earlier this year studying gang-fighting methods. El Salvador's consular representatives in Los Angeles recently asked L.A. police officials for a briefing on their anti-gang strategy.
   In the South Bay, gang investigators from Torrance, Redondo Beach and Inglewood met earlier this month for a two-day workshop that drew law enforcement officials from across the nation.
   The focus was on the MS 13 because the gang is "up and coming," said an Inglewood detective who asked not to be identified.
   "We'd better know who we're dealing with. If we don't, we're going to get saturated."
   Gang violence touched Torrance in May, when a suspected gang member was shot at Sur La Brea Park.
   The Torrance Police Department was so concerned about the potential for violence during a hearing on the case earlier this month that 10 officers were sent to the courthouse.
   Torrance Detective Henry Flores said as law enforcement cracks down, "gangs are migrating and continuing their criminal enterprise."
   Every time gangs are uprooted, they surface in another neighborhood, another city, another country. They move with the assurance that no matter where they go, fellow gang members will feed them, house them, orient them and possibly provide them with weapons.
   As the gang culture spreads, people in the Americas find themselves linked in a new and uncomfortable way. Residents are frightened to walk their neighborhood streets at night, police aren't adequately staffed or trained, parents are grief-stricken by the senseless deaths of their children.
   From Honduras to Hollywood the story is the same.
   Residents watch with fear, frustration and helplessness as gangs take their neighborhoods -- and their children -- away.

Melrose Hill is an idyllic Hollywood neighborhood of bungalows and vintage streetlamps, a showpiece listed for historic preservation. Last year, Los Angeles Magazine called the 42-home neighborhood one of the 10 best in the city.
   But at night, when residents of this tight-knit community lock their doors, they hear gunfire in the distance. The MS 13 has encircled their neighborhood, making it an island of middle-class American life in the center of random and relentless violence.
   Hollywood is home to the largest MS 13 clique in Los Angeles.
   Gang members drift in "fresh from Central America," police say, and stand outside the Hollywood Video near the corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and Western Avenue until a homie steps out of the shadows to help them.
   "There's another world around us," said a lifelong Melrose Hill resident who asked not to be named for fear of reprisals against his family.
   "You see what's going on in the surrounding streets, you see young Latino men posturing and you think, 'Oh, God.' And you drive on. You wonder if the prudent thing wouldn't be to flee like other white people."
   A woman was shot in the head just a mile from Melrose Hill last year as she drove her husband and three children home after a Thanksgiving dinner. Police suspect an MS 13 gang member from El Salvador fired the fatal bullet.
   At Melrose Hill Neighborhood Organization meetings, the gang problem is always at the top of the agenda, said Brian Brady, 48, who has lived in the neighborhood for 15 years with his wife and three children.

   "Everybody knows they're not going away," Brady said. "If there's an answer to this problem, then it's pushing them to other places because there are always going to be gangs."
   A few miles away, Hollywood Boulevard has become the 18th Street gang's turf.
   The gang members hawk their drugs and sometimes shoot at rivals who slip in among the hundreds of thousands of tourists passing through every year.
   Frank Flores, 30, who works the gang detail in the LAPD's Hollywood precinct, has seen scores of immigrant children join gangs, get arrested and then get sent back to countries they barely remember.
   "We have seen some who've come full circle -- here in L.A., deported, then back again," he said. "It's frustrating."
   Jorge Potter is one of those who has come full circle.
   After being deported in 1989, the Hollywood gangbanger introduced the 18th Street gang to his neighborhood in the Honduran city of San Pedro Sula.
   Potter's role as an 18th Street leader eventually made him a target of Honduran police, so he returned to the United States illegally and made his way back to Hollywood.
   There, Potter said he had a religious conversion -- the only way a gang member can leave his gang without being killed -- and started working in a Hollywood discount store.
   In June, however, he was deported to Honduras again. He was detained by immigration agents in Las Vegas, where police had twice arrested him on misdemeanor charges.
   Potter said he was going to divide his time between working at a clothing factory and witnessing to youths in San Pedro Sula -- which now has one of the highest murder rates in Latin America -- about the evil of gangs.
   But when he stepped off a chartered plane guarded by U.S. marshals, he was wearing a muscle shirt that showed off his elaborate tattoos, including the number 18 tattooed on his right arm.
   His voice carried a touch of pride as he talked about his gang.
   "The 18th Street is No. 1 in Los Angeles," said Potter, now 36. "It's the biggest in the world."

Latino kids living near downtown Los Angeles formed the 18th Street in the late 1960s to defend themselves against established gangs.
   The MS 13 sprang up in the late 1980s, created by the children of Salvadoran immigrants who fled to California during a bloody civil war.
   The MS 13, which now operates in 30 states, is "a little more violent and a little more calloused" as well as more experienced in protecting members than its 18th Street rivals, said Joseph Esposito, one of the top deputies in the hard- core gang division for the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office.
   "If their members commit serious crimes, they are organized enough to move them to Minneapolis or Seattle or another city and start an enclave there," he said.

   Jessica is a member of the MS 13, born in Guatemala and trained in the streets of Los Angeles. She has been the target of gunfire more times than she can remember. She is also a full-time office worker and the mother of an 8-year-old daughter.
   She came to Los Angeles when she was 5 years old, brought by her mother, who saw Los Angeles as a city of endless opportunities.
   While her mother struggled to support the family, young Jessica discovered a different Los Angeles.
   She started touching up her eyes with heavy black liner and slipping into gangster clothing after she left home in the morning. Eventually, she stopped going to school and started hanging out.
   She took a 15-second beating during an initiation ritual when she was 14 and became an official member of the Mara Salvatrucha 13.
   Now 26, Jessica has survived longer than most of her homies.
   But her safety zone has been reduced to a series of city blocks whose boundaries are set by rival gang members.
   "On every block, on every corner, a homie has gotten shot and killed," said Jessica, who asked that her last name not be published for fear of losing her job.
   After 12 years as a gang member, she can't decide which direction her life should take.
   "Being bad is so easy and being good is so hard," Jessica said. "I get bored by the routine. For me, it's the street, the adventure, the thrill of danger. People tell me that to change I have to get away. But I like being here.
   "Anyway, I'd probably go to another state and find the 'hood again. You can always find someone from the MS because it's so big."
   Jessica had a chance to start over after she posted her profile on the Yahoo personals page and met a Camp Pendleton Marine.
   The young Texan took an instant liking to her, even flying her to Houston to meet his parents and paying for her trip to a Marine gala in Las Vegas.
   But Jessica didn't love him, so she broke off the romance.
   "I had a choice of a good man, benefits for life, or a guy from the street with no papers," she said.
   She chose a 25-year-old gangbanger who goes by the name of "Puppet." Like Jessica, Puppet is an immigrant. He was already a member of the MS 13 when he arrived in Los Angeles at the age of 13.
   Puppet was deported to El Salvador in June. Three weeks later, he called Jessica and told her he had killed a rival gang member.
   He's trying to get back to the United States, but Jessica is terrified that 18th Street rivals will kill him before he makes it across El Salvador's border. In September, he was in surgery for six hours after 18th Street members hacked at his head, ribs and back with machetes.
   Jessica paid for his surgery with money collected from L.A. gang members. Now she's trying to scrape together Puppet's $3,000 passage back to Los Angeles.
   Meanwhile, MS 13 members in El Salvador are urging Puppet to be their leader. And local cops are watching him because he's from Los Angeles.
   "The new law (in El Salvador) is locking up the guys who are getting deported. The cops think they're the leaders," Jessica said.
   "Some of them are. Like Puppet. He will be one of them."

The Rev. Arnold Linares ticks off the gangs that held residents hostage in his Honduras neighborhood of Rivera Hernandez before the anti-gang law went into effect.
   The MS 13. The 18th Street. And the Normandies, named for Normandie Avenue in Los Angeles.
   "All this came from the United States," Linares said, shaking his head. "One 18th Street member killed (rival gang members) with an AK-47 his gang sent him from the United States especially for the job."
   For five years, Linares, the 35-year-old pastor of the Place for Everyone Baptist Church, has tried to lead young men out of gang life.
   Charitable organizations gave him six computers. A church in Memphis, Tenn., bought uniforms, balls and trophies for the soccer league he started for gang members. But he gets no government support for his efforts and in June, government officials evicted his league from the community soccer field.

   Linares often confronts danger as he struggles to help gang members.
   When he stood at the gate of gang leader Mario Montalban's house, he found himself looking down the barrel of a homemade shotgun.
   Linares raised his big, worn Bible above his head and Montalban, trailed by his second in command, lowered the shotgun.
   Montalban, 26, started his Barrio 11 gang when he was 16 years old after a failed attempt to migrate illegally to the United States. He was attacked by gang members when he crossed the Guatemalan border into Mexico, then sent home by Mexican authorities.
   Montalban said he was "one of the worst," making homemade shotguns and forcing the working people of Rivera Hernandez to pay "rent" before they could walk down his street. He was high on drugs from morning to night. And he murdered at least six people. He stabbed his last victim in the throat with a screwdriver.
   After Montalban accepted Linares' offer to join the soccer league, he disbanded his gang and converted to Christianity. But his decision to go straight didn't mean Montalban was given a job and welcomed back into society.
   As a criminal, Montalban made enough money to feed his two young daughters and elderly mother. Now that he has gone straight, they sometimes go hungry.
   When Linares walks the streets of Rivera Hernandez, he worries about Montalban and the others he has pulled away from gangs.
   "We have so many kids in the streets doing nothing. If they can't find work to feed themselves, they do the easiest thing -- they rob people," Linares said. "We are asking the government to give them a place for recreation, to give them work. This is not just a spiritual matter. It is question of jobs."

In Southern California, which has had gangs for nearly 100 years, the solution is just as elusive.
   "We live in a nation where we want instant results. Unfortunately, the programs -- suppression, intervention and prevention -- take a little while to gestate," said Valdez, of the Orange County District Attorney's Office.
   Although gangs have now sprung up in every state in the nation -- the MS 13 and the 18th Street have been reported as far away as Hawaii -- Valdez said "there is a tendency for the very affluent communities of America to deny that gangs exist. It's always somebody else's problem."
   Los Angeles County, which has almost 1,000 different gangs, has responded with more police, more crackdowns, more arrests under gang injunctions.
   In Redondo Beach and Wilmington, injunctions have resulted in a marked decrease in crime. Since the Wilmington injunction went into effect in March, at least 75 gang members have been arrested.
   But the injunctions, which allow police to arrest gang members simply for hanging out together in court-designated "safety zones," have drawn criticism from civil rights activists.

   "Injunctions are a way of outlawing normally legal behavior," said Los Angeles civil rights attorney Constance Rice. "You can't gather. You can't drink together. You can't talk together. You can't go to a restaurant together. It's a suppression method."
   City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo acknowledged that, "we are imposing on their civil liberties. That's the whole idea. We do that all the time in our society for safety reasons and the Supreme Court says that's OK. People in our communities deserve protection, too."
   But pushing gang members from one place to another is not the solution, said the Rev. Gregory Boyle, who works with gang members in East L.A. Nor are massive deportations the answer to the international gang problem, he said.
   "The police are passing them off to the INS. And what do folks do? They get deported and they come back," said Boyle, who founded Homeboy Industries to help gang members break their criminal ties.
   "The idea is to banish them, to demonize them. Tell me how that approach will keep a 15-year-old from doing it again."
   Lately, Boyle has been receiving phone calls from foreign-born gang members locked inside the immigration detention facility on Terminal Island, waiting to be flown to the nations where they were born.
   Among the deportees waiting nervously in the facility in June was Oscar Zapata, who was to be sent home to Honduras. Zapata, 42, said he was out of the 18th Street gang, but a routine "stop and frisk" by L.A. police showed he was wanted by immigration authorities.
   Zapata joined the 18th Street gang in the early 1970s, shortly after he arrived in Los Angeles. His childhood in Honduras had prepared him for gang membership.
   At age 9, he was tortured by police and incarcerated with adult men in San Pedro Sula's prison. At 12, he was conscripted into the Honduran Army and taught to fight with an M-16 rifle. When he was released by the army, he lived on the streets of Honduras until his mother took him to California.
   By the time Zapata got to Los Angeles, "I wasn't afraid of anything. I had lost my fear. I came here with a different mentality," he said.
   He was deported to San Pedro Sula two years ago after being arrested on drug charges, but he quickly returned to California. Zapata is appealing a judge's order to deport him this time because he's afraid he cannot survive the tactics of Honduran police.
   Beads of sweat stood on Zapata's forehead as he remembered how the Honduran police kicked the body of a gang member and said, "This one is dead."
   "I am afraid of the police. Nobody can stop them," he said. "If they send you to prison in Honduras you are going directly to your death."
   Nearly 1,500 tattooed young men have been arrested since Honduran President Ricardo Maduro began his anti-gang campaign 16 months ago.
   Almost 200 of them died in two separate prison fires -- one in an 18th Street cell block and the other in an MS 13 cell block -- in which the guards were either found negligent or directly responsible. In the most recent fire, on May 17 in San Pedro Sula, 61 of the 107 gang members who died hadn't been convicted of a crime.
   Aida Rodriguez blames the Honduran government for the death of her 24-year-old son, Alan, who died in the inferno. A veteran of the MS 13, Alan was serving a 69-year sentence for double homicide.
   "If the government was going to have an anti-gang law, then they should have prepared prisons for them because they knew they were going to capture a lot," she sobbed.
   Ramon Custodio, who heads Honduras' National Commission for Human Rights, calls the incarceration of the gang members "a massive illegal detention" and vowed to ask the Supreme Court to declare the law unconstitutional.
   "Because you're tattooed or because you behave this way or the other, you can be captured and taken to prison," Custodio said. "The principle of innocence doesn't exist any more in this country."

Christian Antunez hides from Honduran police in the single room he shares with his wife and 18-month-old daughter.
   He has tattoos on his biceps, forearms, back and stomach. Above his right eyebrow are the faint letters NLS, or Normandie Street Locos, for the MS 13 clique he identified with in Los Angeles.
   Antunez has never been to the United States. He was introduced to gang life by his cousin, who grew up in L.A., joined the 18th Street and then became a leader. When the cousin was deported to Honduras, he brought back his expertise in gang warfare.
   By his own admission, Antunez was a violent gang member. He was given a distinctive nickname: Mr. Crime. He murdered one man and said he participated in the deaths of others.

   "Sometimes you have to kill or be killed," he said.
   Antunez, 25, says he is out of gang life now, but until he burns off all his tattoos, he is in constant danger of being arrested under Honduras' anti-gang law. The only time he ventures out of his house is for his monthly trip to a clinic in San Pedro Sula called Adios Tatuaje, or "Goodbye Tattoo."
   "It's a human hunt in this country," Antunez said.
   "You know what they are doing with the anti-gang law? They are putting all the young people in jail. There is no rehabilitation. You know what rehabilitation is for the government? To kill them like dogs in the street."
   Suyapa Bonilla, who runs Adios Tatuaje out of a room in her house, said many of her patients "came here crying because companies would not give them a job." Some had tried to gouge out their tattoos with a knife or the tip of a hot machete.
   The demand for tattoo removal is so great that Adios Tatuaje has clinics in El Salvador and Guatemala and is about to open one in Nicaragua. Even men and women who've never been gang members feel compelled to remove their tattoos.
   Juan Carlos Brito, 24, pulled up the sleeve of his T-shirt to show the heart on his bicep that he'd gotten in the Merchant Marine.
   "I am sorry I have one," he said as he waited at Bonilla's clinic for his treatment to begin. "I have never been a gang member. But this law affects me, too."
   Oscar Alvarez, the country's minister of security, shrugs off accusations by human rights activists that the gang crackdown is turning Honduras into a police state as it was in the 1980s when hundreds of suspected leftists were tortured and murdered by a secret military unit.
   Law and order, not human rights concerns, are on the public's mind, he said. And Alvarez, who is rumored to be considering a presidential bid, is at the vanguard of the politically popular effort.
   "The public was crying out, 'I want security,' " he said, "because this affects the people who are the least protected in the country."
   Demographics underscore the seriousness of the problem, he said. In Honduras, 51 percent of the population is younger than 18. In El Salvador, more than half the population is under the age of 24.
   "We have to stop more youngsters from becoming gang members," said Alvarez. "If we don't do something about it, we are predicting a very grave future for our country."

At Honduras' Tamara National Penitentiary outside the capital of Tegucigalpa, an 18th Street gang member named "Lucifer" mocks officials who believe they can stem gang violence.
   "If you can't control gangs in the United States, how are they going to end it in this (expletive) country?" cackled the 22-year-old convicted murderer as gangsta rap throbbed and inmates pumped iron in the searing Honduran sun.
   Paul Antonio Zelaya is an example of the problems faced by both countries.

   Born in Honduras, his mother took him to Los Angeles when he was 3. At age 11 he joined the 18th Street gang.
   On his bulging right bicep, Zelaya, who also goes by the name Ricky Alexander, shows off the tattoo bearing his California prison number.
   He was deported to Honduras in 2003 after being paroled from Imperial County's Centinela State Prison. Three months later, he was arrested by Honduran police for robbery.
   Zelaya and his fellow Los Angeles inmates talk about going back to the United States, to the city they consider home.
   So does a prisoner who calls himself Looney, even though he has never set foot in the United States.
   Looney is one of 18 children in his dirt-poor family. Four of his brothers are also in gangs -- two in the MS 13 and two in the 18th Street.
   In 1995, family members who had already settled in Los Angeles sent him money to make the trip. But he got arrested for stealing and has been in prison off and on ever since.
   He imagines Los Angeles as "a beautiful city" where homies can find "a blessed peace," because "there is not a lot of violence against them."
   "They have cars, TVs, food on the table. Everything. Everything. Everything," he said.
   "Los Angeles is a paradise."

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Page 9
four articles here from Science Magazine to two of which i have taken the liberty of attaching some decent (i hope) poetry. -perryb

December 3, 2004 Science Magazine Vol 306, Issue 5702, 1665
Amphibians in Decline

The IUCN Global Amphibian Assessment (GAA), which commenced in 2001, has just been completed, and Stuart et al. (p. 1783, published online 14 October 2004) present the key findings. The data set covers 5743 species, and confirms that the current conservation status of amphibians is alarming, with 1856 species (32.5% of the total) being globally threatened, 2468 (43.2%) in decline, 435 (7.6%) in

rapid decline, and 129 (2.2%) having disappeared since 1980 (many of which are probably extinct). These numbers indicate a much worse situation than seen so far for any other taxonomic group. Of the rapidly declining species, 50 are subject to overharvesting, and 183 are facing severe habitat loss. A third group of 207 species has declined catastrophically, even in situations where there are no obvious threats.

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December 3, 2004 Science Magazine Vol 306, Issue 5702, 1665
Factory Study Shows Low Levels of Benzene Reduce Blood Cell Counts

Erik Stockstad

Although the workers weren't sick, the results hint that low doses of benzene may alter the bone marrow and could lead to health problems, some experts say. The study also provides the first direct evidence in humans that benzene harms the progenitor cells that give rise to blood cells. "It really breaks new ground on the potential effects of low levels," says toxicologist Bernard Goldstein of the University of Pittsburgh's School of Public Health.

There's no doubt that benzene, a widely used industrial chemical, can be harmful. Workers highly exposed to benzene fumes, for example, run an increased risk of leukemia and bone-marrow toxicity. But the risk from smaller exposures is unclear. Now a tightly controlled study in Chinese factories, reported on page 1774, provides reason for concern: Workers who inhaled less than 1 part per million (ppm) of benzene--an exposure considered safe under U.S. occupational guidelines--had fewer white blood cells than did unexposed workers.

Hazard? A study of shoe workers in China suggests that even low doses of benzene affect blood cells.

Benzene is ubiquitous. People are commonly exposed to it from secondhand cigarette smoke, gasoline vapors, and air pollution, although typically only on the order of parts per billion. Studies of the chemical's health effects in industrial settings, where benzene is used as a solvent and in chemical manufacturing, led the United States in 1987 to regulate the maximum allowable workplace exposure at 1 ppm of benzene averaged over 8 hours.

To determine whether blood cells are affected at even smaller exposures, a group of researchers from the U.S. National Cancer Institute (NCI) in Bethesda, Maryland, the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Beijing, the University of California, Berkeley, and other institutions compared 250 workers exposed to benzene-laden glues in two shoe factories in China to 140 unexposed workers who sew clothes in other Chinese factories. The researchers carefully gauged benzene exposure by taking urine samples and testing air in the factories, as well as at each worker's home. After 16 months, they took blood samples from the workers.

As expected, workers exposed to benzene at levels of 1 ppm and higher had fewer white blood cells, such as granulocytes and B cells, than did unexposed workers. But this also held true for the 109 workers exposed to less than 1 ppm benzene, even after controlling for smoking and other potential confounding factors. These workers had on average 15% to 18% fewer granulocytes and B cells than did unexposed workers--raising concerns about bone-marrow health, says Qing Lan of NCI.

Luoping Zhang of the University of California, Berkeley, and others in the research team also studied the effect of benzene on the progenitor cells that give rise to blood cells. They found that the ability of progenitor cells to grow

and multiply declined with higher exposures. "The key point is that high levels of benzene had a more toxic effect on the progenitor cells than on mature cells," says study co-author Nathaniel Rothman of NCI. "That may suggest we're underestimating the effects of benzene by just studying mature cells."

But Richard Irons of the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver and Fudan University in Shanghai suggests that counting progenitor cells from blood samples probably does not accurately reflect what's happening to such cells in bone marrow. Irons, who leads a $20 million industry-funded study of benzene effects in Shanghai, also says it's possible that the low-dose changes seen in the Science paper stem from exposure to other chemicals or factors such as nutrition. "Because the magnitude of the changes are so small, it becomes difficult to discriminate between transient effects and benzene toxicity," he says.

Still, the findings may lead to demands for lowering the benzene exposure standard, says geneticist Gilbert Omenn of the University of Michigan Medical School in Ann Arbor: "This paper should cause a stir in occupational and environmental health circles."

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December 3, 2004 Science Magazine Vol 306, Issue 5702, 1665
Revisiting the Bhopal Tragedy
Twenty years after the event, researchers are returning to the site of the world's worst chemical spill to pick up health studies that some believe were set aside too soon
Charlene Crabb*

BHOPAL, INDIA--Ashraf lies on a corner bed in the ophthalmology ward of the Bhopal Memorial Hospital and Research Centre (BMHRC), a thick, white bandage covering his left eye. For the second time in 3 years, the 38-year-old is recuperating from cataract surgery. His sight has not been the same since the night 20 years ago when water entered a storage tank filled with methyl isocyanate (MIC) at a pesticide factory here, triggering a runaway reaction that sent a lethal cloud of chemicals wafting through his neighborhood. The vapors attacked his eyes, which led to a severe infection that gave way to chronic tearing and gradually, cataract-clouded vision. The gases also ravaged Ashraf's lungs, and today he suffers from chronic breathlessness and fatigue.

Like thousands of survivors, Ashraf has turned to the BMHRC medical staff for help with the injuries he received in the world's worst chemical accident. More than half a million people claim to have been exposed to the MIC-derived cloud on the night of 2 to 3 December 1984. At least 3000 men, women, and children died from breathing the lethal gases. And now at least 5000 survivors line up every day outside clinics and hospitals here to be treated for gas-related illnesses.

Heavy toll: Researchers are planning health studies of those living near the ruins of the pesticide plant.

Despite a flurry of studies in the 1980s documenting the initial effects of MIC exposure, scientific follow-up has waned. An ambitious long-term monitoring effort led by the New Delhi-based Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) ended in 1994 when the council abruptly pulled the plug. ICMR handed oversight of its cohort of 80,021 gas victims and 15,931 nonaffected Bhopal residents to the Madhya Pradesh state government, which still keeps tabs on the original ICMR cohort, now numbering about 50,000 people, through the Centre for Rehabilitation Studies (CRS).

ICMR has never fully discussed why it removed itself from the gas tragedy. But some scientists speculate that the government, eager to modernize India's economy, was concerned that tallying up the health consequences too aggressively would scare away foreign investment. Many still bemoan ICMR's decision. It was "ridiculous," says Nalok Banerjee, research officer at CRS. "The state government has no specific expertise in designing studies."

Confounding matters, the Indian government in 1985 filed a civil suit against the Union Carbide Corp. in the United States--parent of the firm that owned and ran the plant--and imposed restrictions on publishing data on the Bhopal incident, deeming some details too sensitive to be released. The legal wrangling dragged on for 6 years, and subsequent disaster-related lawsuits are still in the courts. "Unfortunately, a lot of research never got published because the scientists retired, or moved on, or lost interest," says Indraneel Mittra, director general of BMHRC.

In May, ICMR published the first of three promised technical reports on the investigations it carried out through 1994. Checking the data was slow and difficult work, says immunologist Nirmal Kumar Ganguly, director general of ICMR, who adds, "It took a long time for the government to give clearance for publication."

The 117-page document describes the findings of some 20 epidemiological studies, noting that death, miscarriage, and general morbidity rates were higher in exposed areas in the decade following the gas leak. Most long-term complications involved the eyes and lungs, but the report gives few specifics. "After 20 years they should have come out with some complete results," says Bhopal oncologist Shyam Agrawal, a member of a new Indian Supreme Court-appointed advisory panel for the gas victims. More details may be elucidated in the next several months when the technical reports on ICMR's toxicological and clinical studies are published.

Researchers in India and North America are poised to conduct a handful of studies that could shed new light on the Bhopal tragedy and its health consequences. Although not lavishly funded, they cover topics from the biology of lung surfactants to the MIC gas cloud.

Picking up the pieces
BMHRC in a perverse way owes its very existence to the gas leak. The medical complex opened 4 years ago and is operated with interest accrued from about $20 million from the sale of Union Carbide's 50.9% stake in the Indian subsidiary that ran the infamous pesticide plant. Recently, the hospital trust's board members earmarked $1 million to develop research facilities, and

in August, they okayed the start-up next year of an epidemiology and biostatistics department. The department will study the 270,000 gas victims registered at the hospital and its eight outreach clinics. Because each patient is issued a memory chip- equipped "smart card," the potential new cohort is fully enumerated, identified, and easy to track--a situation found nowhere else in India or any other developing country, says Mittra: "It gives us a unique opportunity to do first-class epidemiological studies, whether gas-related or not."

Other BMHRC research teams set up shop earlier this year. One group plans to delve into the anomalies in lung surfactants of gas victims. Pulmonary surfactant is a lubricant packed with proteins and phospholipids that fights off respiratory pathogens and aids breathing by keeping a low surface tension in the lungs' tiny air sacs, or alveoli. The researchers will compare the levels of various phospholipids and proteins in exposed and nonexposed patients suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, pulmonary fibrosis, bronchial asthma, and pulmonary tuberculosis. Once an internal board approves the $45,000 project, BMHRC will provide start-up funds.

Another BMHRC research group aims to use new molecular technology to look for genetic mutations that MIC, a suspected mutagen, or other chemicals in the gas cloud may have triggered in gas victims and their children. Studies

conducted in the 1980s detected alterations in the chromosomes of some gas victims. More recently, cytogeneticist Narayanan Ganesh of the Jawaharlal Nehru Cancer Hospital and Research Centre, has noted birth defects such as syndactyly--fused or webbed fingers or toes--and pigeon chest among the offspring of people who were exposed to the lethal cloud. The new research team is awaiting approval to revisit these findings.

The health of young adults who were exposed in utero to the gas is the focus of a $75,000 study getting under way at the comparatively cramped offices of the Sambhavna Trust Clinic, just west of the derelict pesticide factory. Community health workers are tracking down almost 400 children born to women who were pregnant at the time of the gas leak and participated in a 1985 study led by Daya Varma of McGill University in Montreal, Canada. That study, published 2 years later in Environmental Health Perspectives, found that 43.8% of 865 pregnancies in 3270 families ended in miscarriages. The current project, which Varma is also heading and which is being funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, will analyze the health problems of the young people and measure various physical parameters. It builds on work, reported by the team last October in the Journal of the American Medical Association, which found growth retardation in young boys, but not young girls, who were exposed to the gas in the womb or as toddlers.

Ramana Dhara, a specialist in occupational and environmental medicine at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, hopes to determine what toxins were unleashed that night by recreating the runaway reaction at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE's) hazardous materials test site in Nevada. If that study gets funded--it's couched in terms of emergency preparedness for a terrorist attack--scientists at DOE's Frenchman Flats facility will add water to a tank of MIC and monitor the resultant gas cloud. Early autopsy studies as well as analyses of the gooey residue left in the Bhopal storage tank found about two dozen chemical constituents. "But we still don't know exactly what compounds were in the cloud itself," Dhara says.

By determining the cloud's contents, Dhara and his colleagues could answer one of the more acrimonious debates that raged for months after the tragedy: whether victims should have been treated with sodium thiosulfate, an antidote for cyanide poisoning. In the days immediately after the leak, there was no information about the toxicity of MIC nor what chemicals could result from its pyrolysis and their toxicities. Doctors suspected that the color of the lungs--"cherry red"--was due to hydrogen cyanide, which binds to hemoglobin and blocks its ability to transport oxygen. A study of 20 gas victims given the antidote found a reduction in symptoms and an increased excretion of thiocyanate in urine, evidence to some that cyanide was present and that the treatment was helping people. But the medical community soon split over the efficacy of administering sodium thiosulfate, saying there was not enough evidence to back up its use, and abandoned it as an antidote for the majority of gas victims when the issue was moot.

The potential findings of the experiment in the Nevada desert will have no direct impact on the treatment of gas survivors today because "the chemicals have long since left the bodies of the victims," Dhara says. "But at least the information should be out there, if only to say to the victims that we've finally got some answers."

Although the recent ICMR report notes that it would be "desirable" to extend

the long-term observation of the Bhopal cohort to monitor for "cancer and long-term involvement of other organs," that hasn't happened. Banerjee says CRS has little money to do comprehensive epidemiological studies on the cohort of gas victims. "How can you cook food," he says, "without fire." ICMR did set up an outpost of its population-based registries in Bhopal in 1986 to monitor for various cancers that experts thought would ensue after the chemical exposure. Surprisingly, the expected rise in cancers of the blood, bone marrow, and lung never materialized. "There are slight differences between the exposed and nonexposed population, but they are not significant," says Biswajit Sanyal, director of the Jawaharlal Nehru Cancer Hospital and Research Centre.

Sanyal and other Bhopal doctors nonetheless are bracing for cancers to begin popping up in the gas-affected population in the next 5 years. "A person can get lung cancer 30 years after smoking," says BMHRC's Mittra. "In the same way, it is still possible that the rise in cancer incidence is yet to be."

Another source of cancer risk is pollution from the derelict pesticide plant, which looms as a general threat to Bhopal's future. Abandoned shortly after the gas leak, the site was never properly cleaned up. Its remediation is the subject of an ongoing civil suit in U.S. courts by gas victims who claim that chemicals, including some carcinogens, are leaching into the drinking water of some of the city's poorest neighborhoods, where more than 20,000 people live. In May, the Indian Supreme Court directed the state government to supply clean drinking water to the residents. Plans for a pipeline to bring potable water to the affected communities have yet to be drawn up.

In the meantime, gas victims are marking the 20th anniversary of the tragedy with demonstrations in Bhopal and New Delhi. "They are thought of as second-class citizens," says Agrawal. "But the gas victims are a scientific treasure. The opportunity to study them should not be wasted."

Charlene Crabb is a science writer in Paris. With reporting by Pallava Bagla.

Page 12
December 3, 2004 Science Magazine Vol 306, Issue 5702, 1665
The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change

Naomi Oreskes

Policy-makers and the media, particularly in the United States, frequently assert that climate science is highly uncertain. Some have used this as an argument against adopting strong measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. For example, while discussing a major U.S. Environmental Protection Agency report on the risks of climate change, then-EPA administrator Christine Whitman argued, "As [the report] went through review, there was less consensus on the science and conclusions on climate change" (1). Some corporations whose revenues might be adversely affected by controls on carbon dioxide emissions have also alleged major uncertainties in the science (2). Such statements suggest that there might be substantive disagreement in the scientific community about the reality of anthropogenic climate change. This is not the case.

The scientific consensus is clearly expressed in the reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Created in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization and the United Nations Environmental

Programme, IPCC's purpose is to evaluate the state of climate science as a basis for informed policy action, primarily on the basis of peer-reviewed and published scientific literature (3). In its most recent assessment, IPCC states unequivocally that the consensus of scientific opinion is that Earth's climate is being affected by human activities: "Human activities ... are modifying the concentration of atmospheric constituents ... that absorb or scatter radiant energy. ... [M]ost of the observed warming over the last 50 years is likely to have been due to the increase in greenhouse gas concentrations" [p. 21 in (4)].

IPCC is not alone in its conclusions. In recent years, all major scientific bodies in the United States whose members' expertise bears directly on the matter have issued similar statements. For example, the National Academy of Sciences report, Climate Change Science: An Analysis of Some Key Questions, begins: "Greenhouse gases are accumulating in Earth's atmosphere as a result of human activities, causing surface air temperatures and subsurface ocean temperatures to rise" [p. 1 in (5)]. The report explicitly asks whether the IPCC assessment is a fair summary of professional scientific thinking, and answers yes: "The IPCC's conclusion that most of the observed warming of the last 50 years is likely to have been due to the increase in greenhouse gas concentrations accurately reflects the current thinking of the scientific community on this issue" [p. 3 in (5)].

Others agree. The American Meteorological Society (6), the American Geophysical Union (7), and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) all have issued statements in recent years concluding that the evidence for human modification of climate is compelling (8).

The drafting of such reports and statements involves many opportunities for comment, criticism, and revision, and it is not likely that they would diverge greatly from the opinions of the societies' members. Nevertheless, they might downplay legitimate dissenting opinions. That hypothesis was tested by analyzing 928 abstracts, published in refereed scientific journals between 1993 and 2003, and listed in the ISI database with the keywords "climate change" (9).

The 928 papers were divided into six categories: explicit endorsement of the consensus position, evaluation of impacts, mitigation proposals, methods, paleoclimate analysis, and rejection of the consensus position. Of all the papers, 75% fell into the first three categories, either explicitly or implicitly accepting the consensus view; 25% dealt with methods or paleoclimate, taking no position on current anthropogenic climate change. Remarkably, none of the papers disagreed with the consensus position.

Admittedly, authors evaluating impacts, developing methods, or studying paleoclimatic change might believe that current climate change is natural. However, none of these papers argued that point.

This analysis shows that scientists publishing in the peer-reviewed literature agree with IPCC, the National Academy of Sciences, and the public statements of their professional societies. Politicians, economists, journalists, and others may have the impression of confusion, disagreement, or discord among climate scientists, but that impression is incorrect.

The scientific consensus might, of course, be wrong. If the history of science teaches anything, it is humility, and no one can be faulted for failing to act on what is not known. But our grandchildren will surely blame us if they find that we understood the reality of anthropogenic climate change and failed to do anything about it.

Many details about climate interactions are not well understood, and there are ample grounds for continued research to provide a better basis for understanding climate dynamics. The question of what to do about climate change is also still open. But there is a scientific consensus on the reality of anthropogenic climate change. Climate scientists have repeatedly tried to make this clear. It is time for the rest of us to listen.^

[-back to options at the top(*1)]

Page 13
orientals are succeeding; why can't the blacks? -after all the affirmative action and black studies and such we've given them? -bending over backwards?

"... There is no mystery in the Afro-American's difficulty finding 'African roots' by going there -nor validity in Black Studies 'resurrecting' them. The fact is that the African has always had a true culture of his own, however 'backward' or primitive, but the circumstances of his enslavement in America were such as to effectively annihilate that experience and evolve in its place, the unique, but severely more primitive idiom and experience of an ethnically new Afro-American Slave. Their eventual 'freedom' from that

slavery, consequently, left them abandoned into a society and civilization in which, unlike 'free' immigrants or slaves freed in other countries, they had no such 'equivalence of cultural tools' either for making an entry or upon which to develop one. -Arguments that 'so-and-so did it' miss the difference between culture-and-tools supporting such access and none such. What of American progress the underclass Afro-American experiences to his 'advantage' today, consequently (Whitey 'assisting'), is what little trickles down into his culturally impoverished, ethnically isolational wallow"...
(-from Afro-American Idiom, Experience and Unemployment)

December 5, 2004 Los Angeles Times
First of Five Parts
Deadly errors and politics betray a hospital's promise
A Times investigation finds King/Drew far more dangerous than the public knows. Community pride, timid county leadership stand in the way of a remedy.
By Tracy Weber, Charles Ornstein and Mitchell Landsberg, Times Staff Writers

ON a warm July afternoon, an impish second-grader named Dunia Tasejo was running home after buying ice cream on her South Los Angeles street when a car sideswiped her. Knocked to the pavement, she screamed for help, blood pouring from her mouth.
   Her father bolted from the house to her side. An ambulance rushed her to the nearest hospital: Martin Luther King Jr./Drew Medical Center.
   For Elias and Sulma Tasejo, there was no greater terror than seeing their 9-year-old daughter strapped to a gurney that day in 2000. But once they arrived at King/Drew, fear gave way to relief.
   Dunia's injuries were minor: some scrapes, some bruises and two broken baby teeth. The teeth would have to be pulled.
   "They told me to relax," Sulma recalled. "Everything was fine."
   At least, it should have been.
   What the Tasejos didn't know was that King/Drew, a 233-bed public hospital in Willowbrook, just south of Watts, had a long history of harming, or even killing, those it was meant to serve.

   Over the last year, reports by journalists and regulators have offered stark glimpses of failings at King/Drew: Nurses neglecting patients as they lay dying. Staff failing to give patients crucial drugs or giving them toxic ones by mistake. Guards using Taser stun guns on psychiatric patients, despite an earlier warning to stop.
   Over the same period, a team of Times reporters has been systematically examining the hospital. They conducted hundreds of interviews, studied years of malpractice cases and reviewed records of the hospital and its regulators. They looked closely at individual departments and physicians. And, to put their findings in perspective, they consulted outside experts in hospitals and medical care.
   The investigation reveals that King/Drew is much more dangerous than the public has been told.
   Among the findings: • Errors and neglect by King/Drew's staff have repeatedly injured or killed patients over more than a decade, a pattern that remains largely unscrutinized and unchecked. Some lapses were never reported to authorities — or even to the victims or their families. And some people learned of the severity of the failings only by suing or, in several instances, from Times reporters who sought them out to learn about their care.
   • Although King/Drew opened in 1972 with the promise that it would be "the very best hospital in America," it is now, by various measures, one of the very worst. It pays out more per patient for medical malpractice than any of the state's 17 other public hospitals or the six University of California medical centers.
   • Entire departments are riddled with incompetence, internal strife and, in some cases, criminality. Employees have pilfered and sometimes sold the hospital's drugs; chronic absenteeism is rampant; assaults between hospital workers are not uncommon. Despite King/Drew's repeated promises to regulators, the problems have gone unfixed for years.
   • The hospital's failings do not stem from a lack of money, as its supporters long have contended. King/Drew spends more per patient than any of the three other general hospitals run by Los Angeles County. Millions of dollars go to unusual workers' compensation claims and abnormally high salaries for ranking doctors.
   • The hospital's governing body, the county Board of Supervisors, has been told repeatedly — often in writing — of needless deaths and injuries at King/Drew. Recently the supervisors have made some aggressive moves aimed at fixing the hospital. But for years, the board shied away from decisive action in the face of community anger and accusations of racism.
   King/Drew, founded in the aftermath of the 1965 Watts riots, has stood for more than three decades as a symbol of justice and political power to many black people in South Los Angeles and beyond. In reality, if not officially, the hospital was established by and for African Americans; the majority of its staff always has been black.
   "That hospital means hope to us," said Karimu McNeal, 52, an African American woman treated successfully for colon cancer at King/Drew in 2002. "When you go into the hospital and you see people that look like you and take care of you, it gives you hope for the whole race that we're achieving and doing something."
   Mixed with community pride is an undercurrent of concern about King/Drew's standards. For about three decades it has been known by an unflattering nickname, "Killer King." Patients have fled ambulances to avoid it, according to paramedics and one ranking fire official. And police officers say they have an understanding among themselves that, if shot, they will not be taken there.
   The Tasejos, immigrants from Guatemala, didn't know any of this the day their daughter was hurt. All they knew was that she needed help.
   In the seven hours after Dunia's arrival, the hospital would commit a series of medical errors in treating her, each compounding the one before.
   By the middle of that night, the couple were standing outside the pediatric intensive care unit, bewildered and increasingly frightened. Alarms were ringing and doctors were running by. The Tasejos tried to catch the eye of a physician who had reassured them earlier.
   "He looked at me," Elias Tasejo recalled. "He kept walking."
   Here is an account of Dunia's care, based on her medical records, a state health department investigation, a medical expert consulted by The Times and interviews with her family:
   To keep her still during a precautionary CT scan, her 65-pound body was pumped with enough drugs to sedate a grown man.
   Paralyzed by the medications, she had to be hooked up to a ventilator to help her breathe. Its settings were wrong; a blood test showed she was being starved of oxygen.
   The settings were adjusted to give her more. But inexplicably, an emergency room doctor ordered a trainee physician to pull out Dunia's breathing tube 20 minutes later. No one checked to see whether she could breathe on her own.
   For the next two hours, Dunia's nurses failed to monitor her vital signs or breathing, records show. By the time she was transferred to the pediatric intensive care unit, she was flailing from lack of oxygen and calling, "Mama."
   The medical resident who admitted her to the ICU was unable to operate a machine to check her oxygen levels, and didn't seek help for at least 15 minutes.
   By then, Dunia's heart and lungs had stopped working. Doctors resuscitated her, but later that day she was declared brain dead.
   After two days, she was removed from life support.
   "This child should not have died," said Dr. Lorry Frankel, chief of pediatric intensive care at Stanford University's children's hospital, who reviewed Dunia's records for The Times. "If she had been taken to any pediatric center that had appropriate policies and procedures in place … she would still be alive today."
   Frankel described Dunia's care as "appalling" and "really pathetic."
   After her death, a team of doctors took the Tasejos into a room and promised to find out what had killed her.
   Elias Tasejo said the associate medical director handed him a business card. He kept it in his wallet for three years, thinking he might hear back. He never did.
   "Our daughter is dead," he said earlier this year, "and we have no idea why."

Hospital defenders
What happened to Dunia, and others like her, rarely figures in the public debate over King/Drew. Community activists, who fought so hard for the hospital's creation, are far more consumed with the fear that it could be closed.
   When King/Drew is threatened, it is often Lillian Mobley — long the hospital's most visible defender — who takes the microphone.
   Last January, she stood facing about 200 people in an auditorium at Grant AME Church in Watts. As cheers of adoration washed over her, Mobley, a thin woman of regal bearing, thrust her chin forward in a characteristically defiant pose.
   Moments passed. When the last voice had been stilled, when every head turned her way, only then did she speak.
   "The hospital," she said gravely, leaning on a cane, "is being closed piece by piece."
   There were murmurs, shouts of dismay.
   "We have to stand together to fight this battle," said Mobley, her voice rising. "We have to rise every morning under God's will … to save Martin Luther King."
   That meeting, held to protest planned cutbacks at King/Drew, was one of many such gatherings she has addressed over the years.
   Strong-willed and fiercely protective, Mobley, 74, is at the forefront of a coterie of African American leaders, most now in their 70s and 80s, who defend King/Drew with the same intensity that they once devoted to the civil rights movement.
   To them, it is part of the same struggle.

   Some vividly recall how things used to be, when they had to find a ride to the main county hospital some 15 miles away. It was a long trip if you didn't have a car — and most people didn't. "Twenty-five dollars sick" meant you were in bad enough shape to pay for a cab across town.
   Many remember the case of Leonard Deadwyler, a black man who in 1966 was rushing his pregnant wife from their home in Watts to County General Hospital (today's County-USC) in Boyle Heights when police stopped him for speeding. An officer approached his car and shot him to death. The shooting was determined to have been an accident, but many saw it as a racist killing.
   They also remember how the voters of Los Angeles County, mostly white, refused to pay for King/Drew's construction, forcing Supervisor Kenneth Hahn to find money elsewhere. Even now, threats to trim the hospital's budget revive fears that whites are trying to take it away.
   "We see something that we fought really hard for," said Dr. Herbert Avery, 71, an obstetrician who helped plan the hospital and served briefly on its staff. "And now it's being driven down under the ground under the guise that the people out there … they're black and Mexican and they're too stupid to run a hospital and a medical school."
   Mobley's group is small, and its members hold no elective office, yet they are the curators of King/Drew's dream. They are often called simply "the Community," reverently spoken, as with a capital C. It is a status they have guarded ever more zealously as the neighborhoods around them have become increasingly Latino.
   "If you're going to work at King/Drew, you have to work with the Community," said Dr. Thomas Yoshikawa, chairman of the internal medicine department. "You just can't come in and say, 'I'm the new kid on the block. I'm going to play the game my way.' No, you have to play the game their way."
   Defying them can draw charges of racism — even when the transgressor is African American.
   In the fall of 2003, members of Mobley's group paced the lawn in front of the hospital, as one bellowed through a bullhorn: "Marcelle Willock, you can't hide. We charge you with genocide."
   Willock, who is black and Latina, is dean of the hospital's affiliated medical school at the Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science. The protesters contended that she had not done enough to protect and support key programs.
   While racial politics sometimes play out on its expansive front lawn, inside the hospital, King/Drew's legacy is on display.
   In the lobby are prominent portraits of King; his wife, Coretta; and local political dignitaries posing beside former Presidents Clinton and Johnson. A photograph of King being greeted by the late Supervisor Hahn is hung in two places there and in at least six others around the hospital.
   Down winding hallways is one of the hospital's greatest points of pride — a trauma unit with state-of-the-art equipment. More gunshot wounds have been treated here in recent years than at any other hospital in the county. Many in
surrounding neighborhoods credit the unit's surgeons with saving their lives or those of their sons and daughters.
   "There's a lot of violence in the world today, especially in this community," said Lee Russell, 40, yanking up his shirt to display rope-like scars from a November 2003 shooting and stabbing. He praised the King/Drew doctors and nurses, saying that if the trauma center hadn't been nearby, "I would be dead…. I'm their walking miracle."
   Last month, the Board of Supervisors voted to close the trauma unit to focus on fixing the rest of King/Drew, which like other county hospitals treats patients regardless of insurance status. In September, the board agreed to hire private turnaround consultants for $13.2 million. The supervisors' actions were their strongest to date, brought about only by threats to King/Drew's federal funding and national accreditation.
   The trauma unit's closure, especially, drew residents' ire. "Don't disrespect or underestimate our community," read a banner hung last month at a rally of more than 1,000 hospital supporters.
   King/Drew has become the "proxy for an entire community's identity," said Los Angeles civil rights attorney Connie Rice, who is African American.
   That creates tension between those who see the hospital in strictly medical terms and those who see it as an embodiment of their dreams for racial self-determination.
   "You're talking about the fact that the nurses weren't trained to use monitors," Rice said, "and they're going back to '60s Watts."

Community of grief
Over the years, King/Drew has created another community, one bound by a common grief.
   Jereatha Thomas belongs to it. She rushed her 27-year-old daughter, Demetria, to King/Drew in June 2003.
   In the emergency room, printouts from three electrocardiograms stated plainly that Demetria Thomas had suffered a massive heart attack. Two labeled it "acute," the other "extensive."
   No one acted on the findings for more than 10 hours, as doctors pursued other theories. By the time a cardiologist pointed out the obvious, it was too late, said two experts who reviewed her medical records for The Times.
   Two days later, shortly after being transferred to Harbor-UCLA Medical Center for more specialized care, Demetria died.
   Jereatha Thomas has never recovered. She moved out of the house she shared with Demetria, unable to live with the memories. She works three jobs until she's too tired to think.
   "Since the time my daughter passed away, people have come up to me and said, 'My aunt, my uncle, my friend died the same way,' " Thomas said. "It was a lesson to be learned for me. I would never go back to King. Never, ever."
   Thomas decided to hold the hospital accountable in the only way she knew how: She sued. Her case is pending.

   Every hospital makes mistakes, some of them fatal. Filing a lawsuit is one of the few recourses patients and their families have when something goes wrong. But taken together, the malpractice cases involving King/Drew portray a place where things often go wrong — sometimes in the same way, over and over.
   King/Drew spent $20.1 million on malpractice payouts during fiscal years 1999 to 2003, an extraordinary sum for a public hospital its size in California. Adjusting for the number of patients the hospital saw, that figure is more than at any of the state's other public hospitals or the University of California medical centers.
   Even County-USC Medical Center, which is three times larger and not without troubles of its own, spent less. (King/Drew's payouts cannot be compared to those at public hospitals outside the state, because California has strict limits on malpractice damages.)
   The Tasejos' award was added to the tab this October, more than four years after Dunia's death. Weary of the legal battle, the family settled for $195,000.
   Her father plans to build an altar at her grave in Guatemala, enshrining the dress and shoes she wore that July day.
   "I want to get the [legal] papers so I can put them in the tomb and say, 'Look. It's over, honey,' " he said.
   Malpractice awards are just one sign of trouble at King/Drew.
   From 1999 to March 2004, the hospital was cited for violating California health regulations more often than 97% of hospitals statewide, according to a Times analysis of state data. It had more violations than any of the county's three other general hospitals.
   The two most prominent national accrediting groups rate King/Drew among the nation's most troubled institutions.
   It is the only hospital in America to have received the lowest possible rating in its last two reviews from the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education. The group has ordered the closure of three of King/ Drew's 18 doctor- training programs: surgery, radiology and neonatology. A fourth, orthopedic surgery, may be phased out under pressure from the council.
   King/Drew is also one of only seven U.S. hospitals that the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations has said should lose overall accreditation this year. The group accredits 4,579 hospitals nationwide. King/Drew has appealed the decision, but if it fails, it could be forced to close all its doctor-training programs and lose nearly $15 million in private insurance contracts.
   "This hospital," said Dr. Dennis O'Leary, the joint commission's president, "has problems of orders of magnitude that are substantially greater than almost all other hospitals in this country."
   Even the top county health official finds King/Drew's failings hard to fathom.
   "I'm not sure who would imagine the depths of the problems," said Dr. Thomas Garthwaite, director of the Department of Health Services. "I'm not sure anybody has the life experiences to prepare themselves for this."
   It is only through brutal experience that some patients and their families learn of the dangers at King/Drew.
   Sherry Ridley, a 43-year-old airport security guard, underwent elective surgery there for ovarian cysts in November 2002.
   First a doctor in training stitched through her colon in error, essentially blocking it, according to a surgical note in Ridley's medical records. No one caught the mistake for two weeks as her stomach painfully bloated. A second resident's belated repair job failed.
   Over the next couple of weeks, a senior surgeon opened the patient up eight times, trying to scrub out a worsening infection. More medical equipment sprouted from Ridley nearly every day; wires and hoses protruded from her like tentacles. Swollen with fluid, she ballooned from 187 to 321 pounds. Bands had to be looped around her abdomen to hold her incision together.
   Ridley, the mother of two sons and one of seven close-knit siblings, died five days after Christmas.
   "My sister went in there healthy," said Gail Gordon, her eldest sister. "She went from a human being to a monster when she passed."
   The number of patients harmed or killed at King/Drew is impossible to tally.
   The Times asked Michael Pine, a national health quality expert, to compare complications and deaths at King/Drew with those at all other hospitals in California. After reviewing six years of data collected from hospitals by state health authorities, Pine said he was unable to reach firm conclusions. King/Drew, he said, often left out information about whether patients came in with complications or developed them at the hospital.
   "There are definite problems in the way they're reporting their data," said Pine, whose firm is based in Chicago.
   Separately, The Times discovered cases in which medical errors were reported neither to the county coroner nor the state health department as required — let alone to uncomprehending families.
   The circumstances of Barbara J. Robinson's death might never have been known but for a last-minute call to the coroner's office from a King/Drew surgeon who was not involved with her care.
   In February 2002, doctors suspected that fluid was building up around Robinson's heart, dangerously compressing it. But when they finally sought an echocardiogram image to confirm their theory — 11 hours after her arrival at the King/Drew emergency room — the only technician available said he wasn't qualified to perform the procedure, according to Robinson's medical records. Three hours later, the patient began to slip away. Without an image of her heart for guidance, a doctor seeking to drain fluid plunged a needle into her chest.
   Robinson, 46, died within hours. A doctor wrote on her preliminary death certificate that she had died from natural causes.
   After her body had already been embalmed, the King/Drew surgeon called the coroner's office, suggesting that Robinson's doctor might have made a fatal mistake.
   An autopsy confirmed that the needle had struck her coronary artery, spilling blood from her heart.
   Cases like these sometimes pass unnoticed.
   But many of King/Drew's mistakes are well known to the elected leaders responsible for overseeing the hospital, a board so powerful its members are called "the five little kings."

Vows of action
Spurred by media reports of lapses in patient care at King/Drew, county Supervisor Yvonne Brathwaite Burke held a news conference to announce "swift and decisive action."
   "Due to a series of highly publicized problems, irregularities, illegalities and tragic mistakes … the public's confidence in this major county medical facility has been shaken," she said. "It is unacceptable for anyone who depends on King hospital … to fear that they won't get the level of care they expect and deserve."
   It was time for "drastic action." The hospital, she said, needed a "crisis management task force" and a major administrative shakeup. Her colleagues on the board approved Burke's plan.
   "This," said Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, "is a major step; it's a beginning at MLK."
   Those remarks might have been made this year. In fact, they were delivered nearly nine years ago.
   Many such pledges have been made in the years before and since. But they have not produced meaningful change.
   In 1989, the supervisors were jolted by a Times investigation into King/Drew that described a series of botched cases. In one, an 18-year-old shooting victim survived even though her throat was mistakenly slit by trauma surgeons.
   The supervisors ordered an investigation and pushed for a top-level task force. They also removed the hospital's administrator, provoking a wave of community protest.

   King/Drew drifted out of the spotlight — for a while. But notorious cases arose periodically in subsequent years, grabbing public attention and prompting more promises of reform.
   In 1992, Nelson Yamamoto, a 26-year-old sheriff's deputy, was taken to King/Drew with four gunshot wounds. Joking with nurses as he arrived, he was dead two days later. The coroner said the deputy died of the gunshot wounds. But the district attorney later faulted the care provided by doctors, in particular a surgeon who administered a lethal combination of heart drugs.
   "We have no doubt that there are many competent, dedicated healthcare professionals at Martin Luther King hospital," the district attorney's report said. "But we cannot turn a blind eye to the facts as we have found them."
   The doctors involved in Yamamoto's care were never charged. The incident, however, cemented some police officers' impressions that King/Drew was not a safe place to go.
   In 1994, Aleta Clemons, a 42-year-old woman who went to King/Drew for a hysterectomy, was infused with blood that had tested positive for the AIDS virus. But no one had bothered to check the test results.
   In 1998, Blanca Maldonado, 52, drank a glass of tissue preservative, a poisonous chemical mixture accidentally left on her hospital bed stand by a doctor in training. She staggered to the closest nursing station, pleaded for help and died a short time later.
   Each of these cases led to promises by the Board of Supervisors that King/Drew would be fixed.
   A pattern emerged: A crisis would bring superficial reform, followed by a short period of relative calm, soon to be followed by another crisis.
   "Members of the Board of Supervisors tiptoe around Martin Luther King hospital," said political consultant Kerman Maddox, who is black. "They have to pay attention when they're forced to pay attention, but when they're not … they'd rather ignore it and hope it'll go away. They'd rather not get in battles with people in the community, because they would appear to be racially insensitive."
   Few people have been in a better position to know what is going on at King/Drew than the supervisors. They receive county, state and federal reports spelling out the hospital's most severe patient care failings, along with other documentation.
   The supervisors also must sign off on malpractice payments of more than $100,000 — two dozen from King/Drew in the last six years alone. Confidential paperwork describes precisely what went wrong and how the hospital plans to fix it.
   Yet, again and again, the board has professed shock at the hospital's tragedies.
   Last year, when a series of crises erupted at King/Drew, the supervisors — four of whom have been on the board more than a decade — reacted much as they had before. They called for another task force, which had virtually the same mission as the 1996 group and was even staffed with some of the same people.
   Top health department officials took control of King/Drew's operations. And under their watch, the hospital was twice threatened with the immediate loss of federal funding for, among other things, repeatedly bungling medication orders.
   When the supervisors announced plans early this year to scale back the hospital's prized neonatal unit, community activists, led by Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles), geared for a fight.
   Waters threatened at a protest meeting to climb "on top of [the] desk" of health department officials. A short time later, the county backed off, saying its proposal needed further study.
   While the board vacillates, patients suffer.

A cry of despair
In July 1994, Dr. Wilbert Jordan drove to a gold-colored house, trimmed with white, just a block from King/Drew.
   Jordan had the sort of news he felt he could deliver only in person: The hospital had given Aleta Clemons, a mother of three, HIV-tainted blood. She might be infected with the deadly virus.
   She seemed almost calm when he told her. It wasn't until he was outside that he knew she understood.
   "I will never forget the scream and the cry that she let out as I was walking to my car," the doctor said. "It was chilling."
   Jordan, a specialist in infectious diseases, said hospital officials had tried to dissuade him from telling Clemons about the mistake. He felt it was his duty.
   Two weeks later she learned that she was, in fact, infected with HIV.
   Clemons, now 53, hadn't planned on going to King/Drew at all. She was supposed to have her hysterectomy at Harbor-UCLA. She'd even stored her own blood there in advance, on a doctor's advice. But when she began hemorrhaging unexpectedly, her sister took her to King/Drew because it was closer.

   "I begged her not to take me there," Clemons said. "But she said that I would have bled to death."
   In late 1995, Clemons took her questions and concerns about what happened to Supervisor Burke. Jordan went with her.
   Burke was full of promises, Clemons recalled, wanting to make sure she had a job, a formal apology and a house of her own. Clemons said she never got those things.
   Burke said she did not recall meeting with Clemons. "At no time did I say I would get her a house or a job," the supervisor said. "Whenever she calls, we try to do whatever we can to assist."
   Clemons did get a $450,000 legal settlement, paid out over more than a decade, and the promise of free lifetime care — at King/Drew.
   "This," Jordan observed, "is like having to live with the person that raped you."
   Even 10 years later, Clemons thinks about going to the Board of Supervisors to remind it of Burke's other pledges.
   "I tried to get up the courage, because I really want to talk to them face to face," Clemons said. "Every time, I just get depressed. I can't go."
   In recent months, her health has deteriorated markedly. Her gait is no longer steady. She takes 16 pills daily.
   She lives in King/Drew's shadow. She can see it from the rear window of her apartment.
   "Every time I look at that hospital I think about what happened to me," Clemons said. "That hospital took my life away from me."
Malpractice costs
Based on the number of patients it treated, King/Drew spent more on malpractice than any of the state's 17 other public hospitals or the six UC medical centers between July 1998 and June 2003. Malpractice is just one measure of a hospital's quality.

Hospital / Malpractice costs per patient treated*

Martin Luther King Jr./Drew Med. Ctr $201.67
UCLA Medical Center                       $179.88
UC San Diego Medical Center               $149.93
UC Irvine Medical Center                  $147.45
San Francisco General Hospital Med. Ctr.  $125.71
Kern Medical Center                       $125.59
Olive View-UCLA Medical Center            $123.36
UC San Francisco Medical Center           $111.27
Contra Costa Regional Medical Center      $100.78
Ventura County Medical Center             $88.73
UC Davis Medical Center                   $84.29
Harbor-UCLA Medical Center                $83.77
Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center     $66.46
San Joaquin General Hospital              $52.94
Arrowhead Regional Medical Center         $37.44
Santa Clara Valley Medical Center         $36.77
Alameda County Medical Center             $27.22
Alameda County Medical Center             $27.22
Riverside County Regional Medical Center  $22.77
Modoc Medical Center                      $21.91
Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center          $20.05
Tuolumne General Hospital                 $16.20
Natividad Medical Center                  $9.66
San Mateo Medical Center                  $1.07
Trinity Hospital                          $0

* The Times collected data from each hospital on malpractice payouts over five years. In order to account for differences in hospital volume, the newspaper used a weighted formula to adjust for the number of inpatients discharged and outpatients treated. Sources: Data provided by each hospital or its county, Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development. Graphics reporting by Steve Hymon and Charles Ornstein

* About the series Four Times reporters and a photographer spent a year systematically examining long-troubled Martin Luther King Jr./Drew Medical Center, founded with high aspirations after the Watts riots.

This series, in five parts, covers the severity of the hospital's recurring medical lapses, its managerial shortcomings and the political conditions that have thwarted effective reform.

The series was reported and written by Times staff writers Tracy Weber, Charles Ornstein, Mitchell Landsberg and Steve Hymon. Staff photographer Robert Gauthier took the pictures.

PART ONE Deep trouble: A hospital inspired by the civil rights movement fails — sometimes kills — those it was meant to serve.

PART TWO The myth of poverty: King/Drew is not underfunded. It is mismanaged.

PART THREE Unheeded warnings: How one pathologist got hired and remained on staff despite misdiagnoses and legal woes.

PART FOUR Broad failure: Beyond individual workers' shortcomings, whole departments are in disarray.

PART FIVE Timidity at the top: The county Board of Supervisors shies away from reform, paralyzed by community protest and racial politics.

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Page 14
everyone in the world a 'wannabe':
'American free-enterprise, capitalist democracy and the right to make as much money as you can and spend it any way you choose' (as long as there's no law against it :-) is the single agency of greatest per_capita resource/environment destruction and waste in the history of man.
(-from 'Business' and 'Making money')

December 3, 2004 Los Angeles Times
A Life of Payouts, Not Handouts

*Casino riches recast the Chumash landscape. Tribal members, with spending power like never before, confront new challenges.
By Glenn F. Bunting, Times Staff Writer

SANTA YNEZ, Calif. — Growing up on the reservation, Kenneth Kahn waited in line with his mother for brick cheese, powdered milk and other government surplus food. He does not have a college degree or a paying job.
   Yet at 27, he has accumulated more wealth than many working Americans will see in a lifetime. Every month, Kahn receives a check for nearly $30,000 — his share of profits from the Chumash Casino Resort.
   Scattered in his yard on the reservation here are a silver Range Rover, two oversized pickup trucks, a high-powered speedboat and a pair of all-terrain vehicles. He owns a vacation home in Lake Tahoe and recently paid $1.6 million for a five-acre estate in Santa Ynez.
   "People ask me if I think I deserve it," says Kahn, his shiny, dark hair neatly bundled in a ponytail.
   "Not more than my ancestors," is his standard reply. "I don't care how many casinos we build," he says. "We could never overcome what was taken from our ancestors."

   For much of the past two centuries, the Chumash of Santa Ynez lived in anonymity and abject poverty. As recently as the 1960s, reservation homes lacked running water, electricity and phone service. A decade ago, some Chumash still relied on welfare and donated clothing.

Then came the casino.
Since 2000, when California voters granted Native American tribes the exclusive right to offer Las Vegas-style gambling, each of the 153 members of the Santa Ynez band has received more than $1 million in casino income.
   The torrent of money has caused a jarring transformation in the life of the Chumash. It has provided financial security and a bounty of material goods. It has enabled the Chumash to revive their language and instruct their children in the tribe's ancient traditions.
   But the sudden riches also have sparked conflict and fevered spending. Some tribal leaders worry that the monthly casino check is simply a new form of dependency, as corrosive as the welfare payments of old.
   In the decades before gambling, many Chumash Indians toiled as ranch hands, truckers, maids and farmworkers. Now, they hire day laborers to tend their own sprawling estates.
   They play golf at country clubs and vacation in Paris, Madrid and Maui. So many tribal members own vacation property in the Sierra Nevada that they jokingly call the area "Chumash North."
   Members who once subsisted on rice and beans enjoy gourmet meals and expensive bottles of champagne at their own upscale restaurant, the Willows. Women who once wore hand-me-downs and turquoise beads wear precious jewels and have cosmetic surgery.

   "We're not standing in line anymore to get cheese," says Julio Carrillo, 60, a member of the tribe. "It's like the American dream…. We got ours."
   Gambling proceeds pay for free medical care at a modern Chumash clinic and subsidize private schooling, tutors and college tuition.
   And a people who had been relegated to the margins of history are reclaiming their identity. A decade ago, the tribe — formally the Santa Ynez Band of Mission Indians — had been largely assimilated into the local Latino community. Many were ashamed to acknowledge their Native American ancestry.
   Now, casino earnings are underwriting efforts to build a Chumash museum, scour European collections for Chumash artifacts and revive the Chumash Inezeño language.
   Powerless for so long, the Chumash are asserting their sovereign rights with new vigor, aided by lawyers, lobbyists and consultants.
   "Given the way we were raised, we could never have imagined what we have today," says tribal chairman Vincent Armenta.
   Yet the costs of newfound wealth are as striking as the luxury cars that ply reservation streets and the private pools that dot backyards.
   Some of the Chumash have run through their riches, spending themselves back into debt. So many people have gotten overextended that the band has withheld money from members' monthly checks to pay overdue car loans and taxes.
   The casino money has ignited bruising internal battles over ancestry. Some tribal members are challenging the bloodlines of their fellow Chumash, contending that they lack the one-fourth Indian blood required for enrollment in the band.
   The money has also added to the bitterness of marital breakups. With legal support from the band, several Chumash Indians have fought to prevent former spouses from collecting casino money as part of divorce settlements, arguing that the tribe, as a sovereign nation, is exempt from California's community property laws.
   But the Chumash don't dwell on the downside of instant wealth.
   Kenneth Kahn, for one, sees only progress. Growing up, he was barely aware of the world beyond the reservation. Going away to college never occurred to him.
   "My mom worked two jobs. I never saw her," Kahn says. "If I had any direction, it would have been a different deal."
   Today, Kahn makes sure his 7-year-old son, Austin, has opportunities he didn't. The boy attends a private Christian academy, is assisted by a tutor and attends after-school and summer programs — all made possible by the casino.
   Last year, Kahn was elected to the five-member business council that runs the tribal government. "I'm not proud of getting money for doing nothing," he says. "I want to do the best I can to earn it."
   He is taking classes in political science and communications at Santa Barbara Community College and is thinking of pursuing a four-year degree.
   Years ago, Kahn's grandmother, Rosa Pace, led the effort to bring drinking water, medical care and other basic services to the reservation.
   Yet Pace, now 75, feels a deep ambivalence about the wealth generated by the casino. She is among a group of Chumash elders who call themselves "guilty Jag owners."
   Pace still washes dishes by hand and only recently yielded to relatives' demands that she have a garbage disposal installed.
   "It's difficult," she sighed. "I do feel guilty."

Ancient Tradition
Historians say that Chumash Indians have maintained a continuous presence in Southern California for at least 5,000 years.
   The earliest recorded sighting by a European was in October 1542, when Spanish explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo encountered Indians in wood-plank canoes along the Santa Barbara and Ventura County coastline.
   The Chumash were expert hunters and fishermen who produced stone cookware and intricate basketry. Chumash society was hierarchical, with chieftains and shaman priests at the top of the pecking order and craftsmen and laborers at the bottom. Distinct Chumash dialects were spoken in each of dozens of villages.
   The population began to diminish in the early 19th century with the establishment of five mission-based communities in Chumash territory, according to John R. Johnson, curator of anthropology at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History.

   A 1798 survey counted about 1,200 Chumash in 14 villages in the Santa Ynez Valley. In 1804, Old Mission Santa Ines was built. By 1856, the number of Chumash in the valley had dropped to 109 — a 90% decline caused largely by measles, smallpox and other diseases introduced from Europe.
   A small cemetery next to the mission cathedral holds the remains of about 1,700 Indians, marked by crumbled tombstones and splintered crosses covered in moss. One small headstone reads simply: "Baby."
   During the late 1800s, the Catholic Church relocated the Chumash in Santa Ynez to Zanja de Cota Ranch, a 99-acre flood plain. The church eventually donated the land to the Indians, and in 1906, the U.S. government created the nation's only federally recognized Chumash reservation.
   This would become the tribe's salvation, giving the Santa Ynez band a sovereign territory on which to operate a casino. But at the time, there was no hint of such a windfall.
   Life on the reservation was harsh. The Chumash lived in dilapidated adobe dwellings. Rosa Pace remembers the sight of families climbing into trees from rickety rooftops to escape the floodwaters of Zanja de Cota Creek. Alcohol abuse was rampant.
   "Santa Ynez was a frontier town," says Johnson, who has studied the Chumash for three decades. "Some of the Indians developed into pretty rough customers. A couple of them ended up in San Quentin. But they persisted. They were people who made the best of what they had."
   The Armenta clan embodies the tribe's impoverished past and its perseverance. Loreto and Florencia Armenta raised 10 children on the reservation during the Depression. The family lived in a lean-to without walls or windows and slept on steel cots lined up on a dirt floor. They bathed in a swimming hole and wore clothes made from discarded flour sacks.
   "We didn't have anything," says Eva Pagaling, 80, one of the family's four surviving children.
   Over the years, tribal members married into Mexican and Filipino families and grew detached from the reservation. Many left to work on the region's farms, picking fruits and vegetables.
   In the early 1900s, the federal government began a decades-long practice of shipping Indian children to Catholic boarding schools.
   "There was a movement to get Indian children away from their cultural awareness and teach them the West way," says Jim Fletcher, regional superintendent of the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs. "In the 1930s, the perspective was: 'How do we get them above the poverty line, get them an education and build them up.'"
   Pagaling remembers the look of fear in her mother's eyes when federal agents showed up on the reservation. "Mother told us to go hide in the willows," she says. "She was afraid they would take us away."
   Eventually, Pagaling and two sisters were sent to Saint Boniface School in Riverside County. Every morning at 6, the Native American boarding students were required to line up wearing oversized military boots, Pagaling recalled. Their chores included scrubbing toilets and mopping floors.
   She and her sisters returned to the reservation after a year. Like many of their generation, they were unaware of their Chumash lineage.
   "We thought we were poor Mexicans," she says.

Hitting the Jackpot
For many years, a rustic campground on the reservation provided the tribe's only source of steady revenue. The Chumash closed the site in the 1970s because it failed to generate enough money to cover the cost of utilities and water.
   The band turned to gambling in 1983. A high-stakes bingo parlor attracted gamblers from as far as the San Francisco Bay Area and provided part-time employment for dozens of Indians.
   "The days of begging for water are over," proclaimed then-tribal chairman Edward Olivas.
   But the bingo hall closed in 1988 because of rising debts and a business dispute with outside investors. It reopened in 1990 in partnership with entertainer Wayne Newton, only to fold five months later, $250,000 in debt.
   The band's run of bad luck ended in 1994. Following the lead of other Southern California tribes, the Chumash began offering slot-machine games, despite warnings from law enforcement authorities that the devices were illegal.

   The casino's first general manager, Michael Lombardi, recalled gazing at a collapsed ceiling in the middle of the old bingo hall during his initial meeting with then-tribal chairman David Dominguez.
   Outside, Chumash families huddled in the cold, waiting to receive surplus food from a tractor-trailer known as "the commodity truck."
   "I want there to be a day when that truck no longer comes to my reservation," Lombardi recalled Dominguez telling him.
   The band borrowed $600,000 to renovate the bingo facility and purchase 210 slot machines. Tribal members worked on the casino floor, provided security, directed parking and cooked burritos and fry bread for patrons.
   Within three months, the band had paid off all of its start-up loans and installed 350 additional machines. The casino produced $31 million in revenue during its first year.
   "When we put slot machines in that made $300 a day, everybody was in shock," Lombardi said.
   Even more remarkable were the profit margins. By 2000, the tribe was collecting $70 million a year in revenue — and keeping 69% as profit, according to internal reports.
   That same year, California tribes spent $24 million promoting a ballot initiative to legalize the reservation casinos and allow Indians to offer Las Vegas-style games of chance.
   Proposition 1A passed, and casino revenue continued to soar. The Chumash spent $157 million on a new, Mediterranean-style gambling complex, which opened last year. The Chumash Casino Resort has 2,000 slot machines, a 106-room luxury hotel and an auditorium where Jay Leno, Fleetwood Mac and Whoopi Goldberg have performed.
   The tribe recorded its first $1-million day in July, and casino revenue is expected to surpass $200 million this year — a 40% increase from 2003.
   The Chumash band allocates about 15% of its share of casino profits to the tribal government and various services and benefits. The remaining 85% is distributed directly to the 153 tribal members.
   Only "enrolled members" of the Santa Ynez band — people who have one-quarter Chumash blood — are eligible for these monthly payments. Because Chumash frequently marry outside the tribe, most households have just one enrolled member.
   Thousands of Chumash Indians outside Santa Ynez get no share of the riches because their separate tribes lack federal recognition. This is a source of bitter resentment in the broader Chumash nation.
   "They've turned their backs on us," said Al-lu-koy Lotah, a Chumash medicine woman and leader of the 80-member Southern Owl clan.
   The Santa Ynez tribal government has used gambling proceeds to repave roads, erect street lights and build a sewage treatment plant. It has also acquired adjacent property, expanding the reservation by 49 acres to accommodate future development. Within the next decade, Chumash leaders hope to build a school, a day care center, a health club and a bank.
   They are also investing in higher education. Now, there are just four college graduates among the band's members. But in recent years, tribal subsidies have helped nearly 100 Chumash attend a university, community college or trade school.
   Last year, the band achieved two "firsts" when one Chumash descendant enrolled in Stanford University and another graduated from law school — at the University of San Diego.
   Like many Chumash elders, Eva Pagaling could never have hoped to leave Santa Ynez for college. She worked for many years on an assembly line, packing frozen broccoli into food cartons.
   Pagaling still lives on the reservation, in the modest, stucco house she and her late husband bought in 1979. She still remembers the excitement of moving into the home, her first to have electrical outlets and natural gas.
   As she ticked off the improvements in her life since the casino opened, Pagaling also spoke of the disorientation brought on by so much wealth.
   She maintains her bearings, in part, by clinging to old habits. Pagaling still buys $6 shirts at thrift shops and discount stores. "I love Wal-Mart," she says. "I don't care if I have money or not. I want to be the way I always was."
   Pagaling keeps putting off plans to buy a four-wheel drive sport utility vehicle to make the trip to her Lake Tahoe vacation home. She confesses to lingering regrets about the thousands of dollars she spent on a flat-screen television.
   "I'm used to being poor and not having enough," she says. "I know I can afford things. But for me, to spend that money…. It's difficult."
Fast Spending
When gambling revenue began to flow in the mid-1990s, there was widespread fear that the casino would not last long; law enforcement officials had repeatedly threatened to shut it down.
   "They spent the money as fast as they could," said Lombardi, the former casino manager. "They figured the gravy train was going to end."
   Many members had never used banks and continued to store their money in tin cans and in glove compartments of abandoned vehicles. Today, most have bank accounts. But the impulse to spend quickly persists.
   "A lot of these people lived a very primitive lifestyle," says financial advisor Stephen Drake, who has counseled tribal members on their finances. "They are going on a lot of trips and buying nice, very fancy cars. That, I believe, is human nature."
   Tribal members privately acknowledge that some Chumash have gotten in over their heads, despite their robust casino income. In several cases, the band has garnished a member's share of gambling revenue to pay off debts.
   Among those in financial distress is Gilbert Cash, the chairman of the tribal gaming commission who oversees gambling at the casino.
   Cash, 38, has filed for personal bankruptcy twice in the past two years, piling up $128,502 in debts, including $60,000 in unpaid income taxes, according to court records. Cash says he fell behind because he wasn't prepared to be thrust into a higher tax bracket. Members who reside on the reservation pay only federal income taxes.
   Battles over casino wealth have complicated marital breakups. Two years ago, the band decreed that tribal income, by "custom and tradition," is for the benefit of members only.
   At the time, several Chumash members, including tribal chairman Vincent Armenta's sister, Maria Feeley, were embroiled in divorces.
   Chumash attorneys have argued in court that Tribal Resolution 852 takes precedence over California's community property law. "We do not want the money to go to spousal support for nonmembers," attorney Lawrence Stidham said during a recent divorce proceeding.
   Stidham said that all tribes "struggle … to protect and preserve" casino profits for Native Americans who have long endured unemployment and poverty.
   In August, a state appellate court ruled against the tribe in the Feeley case, clearing the way for her ex-husband, Randy Jacobsen, to collect $3,500 a month in alimony.
   "When you think about it, it is astounding what the tribe is trying to get away with," said Vanessa Kirker, Jacobsen's attorney.
   Other tribal members have succeeded in denying spouses a cut of gambling profits.
   Lewis Gray said has fought unsuccessfully for several years to compel his estranged wife, Cheryl, to make monthly support payments.
   Gray, 45, who is not a member of the tribe, said Cheryl walked out on him several years ago, leaving him to provide for eight of their children, ages 6 to 17. He quit his job as a construction foreman, Gray said, to become a stay-at- home father in Fontana. He said he has run up $40,000 in credit card debt.
   Last year, a judge ordered Cheryl to pay $12,166 a month in child support and alimony. Her family has made sporadic, partial payments. But the tribe has refused requests from child-welfare officials to withhold the full amount from her casino checks, according to Gray and his attorney.
   "My lawyer says we can't do anything about it because they are a sovereign nation," Gray says. "This is not fair to me and my kids. It's not right."
   At a June divorce hearing involving Manuel Armenta, a brother of the tribal chairman, Stidham was asked how ex-spouses could support themselves if casino money was off-limits. The Chumash lawyer replied that they could throw themselves on the mercy of the tribe.
   "I wouldn't put myself in the position of being humiliated," Armenta's wife, Zita, said in an interview. "That tribe would not do anything for me."

A Life of Comforts
Dominica Valencia raised her three children in a one-bedroom shack near the reservation. She ran her own doughnut shop in the mornings and worked as a housekeeper in the afternoons. For years, her husband, Michael, also held two jobs — as a welder and as a heavy equipment operator.

   The Valencias no longer have to work. They donate their time to Native American programs, including the reservation clinic, pow-wows and a talking circle for Indian inmates at Lompoc's federal penitentiary.
   They also enjoy their newfound affluence. They own three homes and vacation in Hawaii every year. Once a week, they cook ribs on the backyard barbecue for their three dogs.
   Yet along with the comforts have come unexpected complications.
   The Valencias rarely entertain guests at home because the conversation often gets around to their casino riches. They were distressed several years ago to open their mailbox and find that the envelope containing the monthly check had been opened — apparently by someone unable to contain his curiosity.
   "It always comes back to the money," Dominica says. "I get tired of that."
   She and her husband worry about the effect of wealth on young people. The Valencias said they were floored one afternoon when their teenage son asked: "Where is my share?" They say they sat him down and explained that he is not entitled to an extravagant lifestyle just because he is Chumash.
   Dominica, 44, a member of the tribe's education committee, is concerned that Chumash youths are growing accustomed to waiting for the casino check, just as their parents stood in line for surplus food.
   "Some are going to college and building for the future," she says. "Then there are those who have no drive or ambition…. We're trying to tell kids there is more out there. Don't be content with just getting money."
Return to the fold
The experiences of three influential members of the tribe reflect the difficult times once faced by the Chumash, on and off the reservation.

Adelina Alva-Padilla
Adelina Alva-Padilla married at 16 and had seven children in as many years. A single mother, she raised her family in the Watts area, serving Quaker Oats for dinner, washing clothes by hand and rarely giving a thought to her Chumash origins.
   Then in 1981, she moved back to the reservation, heeding her mother's deathbed request. Like other city dwellers, she was not welcomed. "They told me to get the hell out," she recalls.
   Today, at 68, she is the spiritual leader of the tribe. Her one-story house is a sacred place where the Chumash pray, chant, mourn, dance and sing. She treats the sick with burning sage, condor feathers and hot sweats.
   When the casino checks began flowing a decade ago, she bought her husband a house in his native Mexico. But she has eschewed most other indulgences. In her living room, Alva-Padilla keeps photos of two schoolteachers in Mexico with artificial legs and an impoverished South African man who is pursuing his dream of attending trade school.
   "This," she says, "is what I do with my money."

Grace Romero Pacheco
Grace Romero Pacheco dropped out of high school after a year and worked menial jobs — housekeeping at a motel, trimming seafood in a fish factory. She went on and off of welfare while raising seven children.
   Not until the late 1950s did she learn about her Chumash ancestry. She moved onto the reservation in 1979. Once a month, she stood in line to collect rations of peanut butter, canned carrots and other government surplus food.

   "It came in handy," she says. "I was thankful for it."
   Now 71, Pacheco is a pillar of the reservation community. A former member of the tribe's business committee and its gaming commission, she serves on the elders council and is learning the Chumash language.
   She no longer needs food handouts. She enlarged her house to accommodate four generations of Romeros. A new Infiniti FX45 sport utility vehicle sits in the driveway. Two daughters and three grandchildren work at the Chumash Casino.
   "I want a better life for my grandchildren," Pacheco says. "I want them to be proud of who they are."

Vincent Armenta
Vincent Armenta was raised on his parents' walnut and lima bean ranch in Lompoc. In 1979, the family moved into one of the first government- subsidized homes on the reservation.
   After high school, Armenta moved to Compton and worked as a welder.
   He returned to Santa Ynez a decade ago and was elected tribal chairman in 1999.
   He is one of 45 members of the Armenta clan who belong to the tribe. Altogether, they collect about $16 million a year in gambling proceeds.
   Armenta's 20-year-old son is a blackjack dealer at the Chumash Casino Resort. His 15-year-old son spent the summer as a bellhop in the resort's new hotel. "They need to learn the value of work," he says. "I had to do it when I was younger, and they have to."
   Armenta, 41, doesn't radiate wealth. He wears jeans, running shoes and rumpled golf shirts, washes his own car, and says money hasn't changed him.
   "I'm the same person today I was 20 years ago. I have the same friends. I eat the same vegetables. I haven't changed at all."

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Page 15
two items here, both from the economist magazine, the first on the fact that mere secularism is not enough to offset scientifically unsound 'belief systems' (no nation thus-far incorporating this gem -inevitable in any case), and the second an 'expression' not unrelated to the first and other situations in the world today -definitely 'human condition'. -perryb

November 27, 2004 The Economist Magazine
Charlemagne - A civil war on terrorism How much of a threat does Islamic radicalism pose to western Europe?

GEERT WILDERS should be feeling good. This week the Dutch MP launched a new political party—demanding a halt to non-western immigration to the Netherlands for five years and a tougher line against Islamic radicalism. Some national opinion polls already put his party in second place. But Mr Wilders admits he is not sleeping well. His life has been threatened by the Islamic radicals he excoriates and it is no longer safe for him to live at home. Instead he moves between safe houses, and can travel only in an armoured car, surrounded by bodyguards. “It's like being trapped in a B-movie,” he says.

The Dutch security services are taking no chances because three weeks ago Theo Van Gogh, a prominent Dutch film-maker who had made a movie attacking Islam's attitude to women, was murdered on the streets of Amsterdam. And this was not any old street killing. Mr Van Gogh was dragged from his bike, shot six times and his head was nearly sliced off by an Islamic radical, who then impaled a five-page letter attacking the enemies of Islam on the chest of his dying victim. Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Dutch politician of Somali Muslim origin who was repeatedly threatened in the letter, is also in hiding and, unlike Mr Wilders, has not re-appeared in parliament. Other prominent politicians and even some journalists now have permanent armed protection. “You're nobody as a columnist unless you have an armed guard,” jokes one eminent Amsterdamer.

The current atmosphere in the Netherlands will provoke some knowing nods on the other side of the Atlantic. For some months, leading American intellectuals have been pointing to what they see as the growing threat to western Europe from militant Islam. At a recent seminar at the Brookings Institution, Francis Fukuyama argued that “Europeans are threatened internally by radical Islam in a much more severe way than Americans are in terms of their external threat.” According to Mr Fukuyama, Europeans have hitherto been deterred from debating the threat by a “stifling political correctness”. But events like the Van Gogh murder are changing the debate. It is increasingly common for mainstream European politicians to call for much tougher measures against Islamic radicals and a more aggressive insistence on western liberal values. These demands have been heard with increasing force in all the west European states with significant Muslim populations—including France, Germany, Britain and Belgium—but above all in the Netherlands.

There is broad agreement that some limits to inflammatory speech must be defined—but where to set those limits and what to do with those who overstep them is still deeply controversial. Some Dutch politicians are arguing that Muslim sensitivities should be catered for by strengthening the blasphemy laws—Mr Van Gogh had outraged Muslims by broadcasting pictures of verses of the Koran scrawled on a naked female body and referring to Muslims as “goat-fuckers”. But others respond that a strengthened blasphemy law would go in the wrong direction. “There is no way you can appease Muslim radicalism,” says one academic, “If you go down that route, you will end up banning the sale of alcohol in supermarkets.”

Islam, Europe and demography
The debate on how to respond to Islamic radicalism has been made no easier by the confusion of several different arguments: about terrorism, about levels of immigration into Europe from the Islamic world and about the assimilation of immigrants. Some take an alarmist view of current demographic trends. Bernard Lewis, a British historian at Princeton University in America, said recently that by the end of the century “at the very latest”, the European continent would be “part of the Arabic west, the Maghreb”. This comment has been widely quoted—including by Mr Wilders in the Dutch parliament. But a glance at the figures suggests that Mr Lewis is a better Arabist than mathematician. At present there are not more than 13m Muslims in the European Union, out of a total population of 457m. Even if there is a massive surge of immigration and the fertility of white Europeans falls even further, it is difficult to see how this will lead to a merger between Europe and North Africa.

The demographic picture in particular places is admittedly more dramatic. The Muslim population of France is now nearly 10% of the total. And it is officially projected that the three largest Dutch cities will have 50% non-western populations (most of them Muslim) by 2020. Yet even these figures need not be alarming, if Muslim populations assimilate easily. It is here that

traditional liberal attitudes are undergoing a re-think. For Mohammed B, the murderer of Theo Van Gogh, was not a marginalised or oppressed figure. He spoke excellent Dutch and was studying for a diploma. It looks increasingly apparent that—as with the 9/11 hijackers—the problem is not lack of integration or opportunity, but a vicious ideology.

Depending on the numbers of people gripped by this ideology, that conclusion could be re-assuring or worrying. The Dutch secret service reckons there are only about 150 Islamic radicals on the fringes of terrorism in the country. This suggests the problem could ultimately be treated as a law-enforcement issue, as with the Baader-Meinhof gang that terrorised Germany in the 1970s. But Mr Wilders quotes Dutch academics who estimate that around 10-15% of the Dutch population of 1m Muslims sympathise with jihadist ideology. He says that the 150 suspected terrorists should be deported or imprisoned immediately. But he also demands a similar fate for those Dutch citizens who endorse jihadist ideology, whether in print, in a sermon or in an internet chat-room. Mainstream Dutch politicians still recoil from such measures, believing them to be incompatible with traditional freedoms—and likely to radicalise Dutch Muslims further. Launching a war on terrorism is one thing; a civil war on terrorism is altogether more daunting.

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November 27, 2004 The Economist Magazine
Iris Chang, chronicler of a massacre, died on November 9th, aged 36

AMONG the many issues that bedevil relations between China and Japan, the most intractable occurred almost 70 years ago. In 1937 around 50,000 Japanese troops descended on Nanking, China's former capital, and took charge there. What happened next is a matter of lasting controversy. The Chinese say that more than 300,000 civilians were killed, and 80,000 girls and women raped. The Japanese divide into different schools of thought. At one extreme, the “Great Illusion” school argues that almost no civilians were killed, and that most of the deaths were legal killings of soldiers in plain clothes. At the other, the “Great Massacre” school thinks as many as 200,000 Chinese may have died. Scholars on both sides continue to revile each other either as Japan-bashers, or as apologists for imperialism.

Complete article

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Page 17
Two articles here, ostensibly unrelated, but related nevertheless. In the first, economist Fareed Zakaria (Columbia Univ?/Newsweek) warns against loss of college student enrollment in science and technology to the orient; the second is an latimes report on (here in particular) Mattel's 'plus-or-minus' sweat-shop operations in China. these ARE related by essentially two complex factors: (1) a general world population which is ignorant, still primitively rooted in pecking order and continuingly overpopulating in that respect, and (2) the success of an American, confidently 'rightful', diasporative, consumerative, ecologically catastrophic ethos sold to an item 1 world: 'American free-enterprise, capitalist democracy and the right to make as much money as you can and spend it any way you choose -as long as there's no law against it'. Whether we think so or not, 'there are too many of us to comfortably attrition into what the system can bear'; it is only a matter of time then -heuristic thruout, of (a) how we 'decide' to lead our lives -what misery we have what people suffer, and (b) what we 'decide' to leave posterity to live with.


November 29, 2004 newsweek
Rejecting the Next Bill Gates
by Fareed Zakaria

As Condoleezza Rice enters the state department, she will face a number of pressing foreign policy problemsthat she cannot solve. This will not be for lack of effort or intelligence on her part. It's just that many foreign-policy crises involve the interests and activities of countries across the globe, and changing these takes time.

Students at Tibet University

And even then, whether it's Iran, North Korea or darfur, there is no quick fix that Washington can impose. But there is a growing danger for the United States that needs urgent attention, can be solved and is almost entirely within Rice's power to handle. It's the foreign-visa crisis. Left unattended, it is going to have deep and lasting effects on American security and competitiveness.

The facts are plain. U.S. visa procedures have become far too cumbersome, and bureaucrats are turning down far more applications than ever before. One crucial result is the dramatic decline of foreign students in the U.S.-the first shift downward in 30 years. Three new reports document the magnitude of

this fall. Undergraduate enrollment from China dropped 20 percent this year; from India, 9 percent; from Japan, 14 percent. The declines are even worse in graduate schools: applications from China have dropped 45 percent; from India, 28 percent.

Some Americans might say, "Good riddance, it's their loss." Actually the greater loss is ours. American universities benefit from having the best students from across the globe. But the single most deadly effect of this trend is the erosion of American capacity in science and technology. The U.S. has powered ahead in large part because of the amazing productivity of America's science and technology . Yet that research is now done largely by foreigh students. The National Board of Science (NSB) cocumented this reality last year, finding that 38 percent of doctorate holders in America's science and engineering work force are foreign-born. Foreigners make up more than half the students enrolled in science and engineering programs. The dirty little secret about America's scientific edge is that it's largely produced by foreigners and immigrants.

Americans don't do science anymore. The NSB put out another report this year that showed the United States now ranks 17th (among nations surveyed) in the proportion of college students majoring in science and engineering. In 1975 the United States ranked third. The recent decline in foreign applications is having a direct effect on science programs. Three years ago there were 385 computer-science majors at MIT. Today there are 240. The trend is similar at Stanford, Carnegie Mellon and the University of California, Berkeley.

Falling foreign enrollments will produce a broader but no less profound loss for the United States. America has spread its interests, ideas and values across the world by many means, but perhaps the single most effective one has been by educating the world's elites. For example, Western ideas about the benefits of free markets and free trade have become the global standard. This may have much to do with Western foreign and trade policies. But surely this shift has been strengthened and facilitated by the fact that so many of the people in the ministries of finance, trade and industry in the developing world were educated at Western universities. The U.S. government can claim very little credit for Chile's remarkable and successful freemarket revolution. But the University of Chicago -which trained most of the economists who spearheaded those reforms in Santiago- can. Foreign students return home from America bringing with them an appreciation for American values, ideas and, indeed, for America itself.

But that hegemony of ideas is often a greater and more lasting source of power than brute force. When historians write about our times, they will certainly note that America dominated the international agenda for decades through this distinctive form of power.

But that hegemony is weakening for four reasons. First, America has become less attractive in the eyes of the world. Second, Washington is making it tougher to come here. Third, there is greater competition and more alternatives for the world's best students. (The biggest beneficiaries of the American decline have been universities in Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.) And finally, there are more opportunities around the globe. A software engineer in India can make a good living in Bangalore, and not have to leave his country, culture and family behind.

Some of these problems can't be solved by the secretary of State. But America's image abroad is something she can help improve. And visas are entirely under her control. I understand the need for greater scrutiny after 9/11. But it has given already cautious bureaucracies a new rule: "When in doubt, deny the application." Every visa officer today lives in fear that he will let in the next Muhammad Atta. A sa result, he is probably keeping out the next Bill Gates. Write the author at Fareed Zakaria

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November 27, 2004 Los Angeles Times
Sweat, Fear and Resignation Amid All the Toys
Despite Mattel's efforts to police factories, thousands of workers are suffering.
By Abigail Goldman, Times Staff Writer

GUANGDONG PROVINCE, China — Just off a wide dirt road that leads to a densely packed jumble of factories, workers behind one guarded metal gate toil seven days a week, sometimes as many as 24 hours straight, making toys for about 20 cents an hour.
   It is a pace that makes them almost numb to the poor ventilation, the lack of bathroom breaks and a fear that they will be beaten if they complain.
   Sweatshops aren't unusual, of course, in a country that possesses a large and cheap workforce and a permissive government hungry to attract big business. What makes this situation notable is that these workers make products for a company widely considered one of the most socially responsible American firms: Mattel Inc.

   The El Segundo-based toy manufacturer was one of the first U.S. companies — and the only major player in its industry — to establish an independent system for monitoring and publicizing how factory workers are treated. In fact, Mattel routinely checks and rechecks hundreds of plants around the world, aiming to ensure that they comply with its 112-item code of conduct.
   The seven-year effort has paid off — at least to a point.

   When it comes to limiting work hours, ensuring fair pay and improving health and safety standards, "Mattel is one of the best," said Chan Ka Wai, associate director of the Hong Kong Christian Industrial Committee, which has done extensive investigations into working conditions in the Chinese toy industry.
   Yet for all of that, tens of thousands of workers who make Mattel products still suffer.
   One big reason is that half of the toys displaying Mattel's familiar red logo are made in facilities, like the one here in an industrial area of Shenzhen, that the company doesn't own.
   "Mattel has no way to know the truth about what really goes on here," said a 24-year-old worker at the Shenzhen factory. "Every time there is an inspection, the bosses tell us what lies to say."
   Labor advocates agree that the situation is difficult. Mattel may be doing a lot to turn its own factories into showplaces, Chan said.
   "But their vendors look very different," he added.
   As increasing numbers of Western manufacturers shift production to China and other developing countries, Mattel's experience underscores how difficult it is to guarantee humane working conditions and still make the ever-cheaper goods that consumers demand. It also raises the question of how much responsibility a single company should bear when it operates in parts of the world where poverty is omnipresent and the exploitation of workers is rampant.
   The Times interviewed workers at 13 factories in southern China, Indonesia and Mexico that make Mattel products, including company-owned facilities and contractor-run plants.
   Visits to five of the factories were arranged by Mattel. The Times talked independently with employees at the other plants, where workers agreed to tell their stories only if they and their employers were not identified by name.
   Many said they were worried about retaliation from supervisors. Others expressed concern that if Mattel knew about the conditions, the company would cancel its contracts, casting the workers onto the streets.
   "It's good that they monitor, but not if it costs our jobs," said the Shenzhen factory worker, who has performed a variety of tasks for a Mattel contractor in the last two years, most recently stamping eyes onto plastic animals. "It's better to have bad conditions than no job at all."

Inside Vendor No. 5
Across Guangdong province, on the northeast outskirts of the Guangzhou city limits, Li Xiao Hong helps churn out toys at one of Mattel's best-regarded contractor factories.
   Vendor No. 5, as it's known, boasts dorms with TV rooms, a library, sports facilities, classrooms — even karaoke machines to help Li and her co-workers unwind after a long stint on the factory floor.
   Still, conditions are far from ideal.
   The plant's work areas are so poorly lighted that they seem permanently shrouded in gray. A strong smell of solvent wafts across the facility as rows of workers hunch over pedal- operated sewing machines and gluepots.
   Li is the fastest worker on a long, U-shaped assembly line of about 130 women who put together Mini Touch 'n Crawl Minnie, a scampering version of the Disney character activated by a baby's nudge.

   Li moves with lightning speed — gluing the pink bottom, screwing it into place, getting the rest of the casing to adhere, tamping it down with a special hammer, pulling the battery cover through its slats, soldering where she glued, testing to make sure the leg joints on the other side still work, then sending it down the line.
   The entire process takes 21 seconds.
   She generally works 5 1/2 days a week, up to 10 hours at a time. Her monthly wage — about $65 — is typical for this part of China, enough for Li to send money back home to her poor farming family in Henan province and to afford a computer class in town.
   But Li pays a heavy price: Her hands ache terribly, and she is always exhausted — a situation to which the 20-year-old seems resigned.
   "People at my age should expect some hardship," said Li, clad in bluejeans and a pink factory blouse, which she left unbuttoned to reveal a white T-shirt emblazoned with the silhouette of Mickey Mouse. "I should taste bitterness while I'm young."
   Besides, many here apparently have it worse.
   Last year, Mattel's independent auditors noted that the overtime extracted by Vendor No. 5 often exceeded the maximum allowed under Chinese law and under what Mattel calls its Global Manufacturing Principles.
   The extra hours, inspectors found, were not completely voluntary because workers were forced to seek permission to leave after their regular shifts, another violation of Mattel's rules. Some were found to have worked for nearly three weeks without a day off, which ran afoul of both Chinese law and company mandates.
   Robert A. Eckert, Mattel's chairman and chief executive, said he wasn't surprised that some contractor factories had violated Mattel's wage-and-hour restrictions. What's important, he said, is that the company work with its business partners to recognize and correct the problem.
   So far, Mattel has terminated 33 suppliers for violating its standards, while refusing to add 28 others to its list of approved vendors because they failed to meet the company's code.
   Eckert made clear, however, that firing factories isn't the goal.
   "Our job is to fix it," he said. "We're not in the business to try to cut off plants."

Establishing Standards
Mattel began monitoring factories almost two decades ago, when it focused on issues of health and safety, and greatly expanded the notion of what it should be accountable for in the mid-1990s.
   It was a time when activists around the world were stepping up campaigns against Nike Inc., Gap Inc. and others for allegedly using sweatshop labor outside the United States.
   For Mattel, the stakes were particularly high. A worker abuse scandal like the one that tarred Wal-Mart Stores Inc.'s Kathie Lee Gifford clothing line in 1996, when activists found that items were made by children working in deplorable conditions, would be especially disastrous for a maker of kids' toys. Negative headlines would scare off customers and spook Wall Street.

   "There isn't a reward for doing the right thing," noted Sean McGowan, a toy industry analyst with Harris Nesbitt in New York. "But there is a penalty if you get caught doing the wrong thing."
   Mattel later added a "social compliance" component to its program, which included a strict set of rules about working hours, wages, factory conditions and age requirements.
   The company formalized these standards in 1997 when it established the Mattel Independent Monitoring Council, a nonprofit group of observers funded by the company but administered through the Zicklin School of Business at Baruch College, part of the City University of New York.
   The group, now called the International Center for Corporate Responsibility, was charged with monitoring factories and publishing detailed reports as a check on Mattel's internal audits. Critics have questioned the monitors' independence. For its part, Mattel points out that it is the only major toy company to release outsiders' findings.
   (Its largest competitor, Hasbro Inc., has said that all its contractors must comply with International Council of Toy Industries ethics guidelines, modeled largely on Mattel's program, by the end of 2005. But Hasbro does not make public its independent auditors' reports.)
   Beyond scrutinizing its vendor plants in the developing world, Mattel has also built its own first-rate facilities, complete with comfortable living quarters for its workforce.
   The factory floor at Mattel Die-Cast China in Guanyao is bright and airy. Instead of the usual snaking assembly line, where workers perform the same task over and over and over, many MDC employees move around to different stations, often making an entire toy themselves; this helps eliminate painful repetitive-stress injuries.
   MDC's residence halls are more modern and nicer than dorms at top Chinese universities. In their off hours, workers crowd into the television rooms on each floor or play badminton on outdoor courts. Some head to the gym or to computer centers to practice lessons they learn in free classes offered on site.
   The quality of life here is written on the face of nearly every MDC worker: They smile, a rare expression at other plants.
   "People can sense the difference if you're pushing them for the bottom line or for themselves," said Rug Burad, the general manager of the plant, where Matchbox and Hot Wheels cars originate.
   "You want them to be their best so they produce the best. That's the priority."

Crowding in Indonesia
Even at Mattel's own factories, change doesn't come overnight.
   On the eastern side of Jakarta, past the garbage-strewn streets in the main part of the city, Mattel's twin Indonesian production facilities rise up out of the green fields like gleaming, white-tile temples.

   The Dua and Satu factories — where half of the world's more than 100 million Barbie dolls are made each year — consist of low-rise buildings connected by walkways with lush overhanging plants. The campuses, built in the early 1990s, feature computer rooms, a library, a health clinic, sports fields and a community garden. Management here has given a nod to both fun and faith: The complex includes a disco as well as two mushollas, prayer rooms for the workers, 90% of whom are Muslim.
   Still, most of the dorm rooms, which house about 40% of the factories' 10,000-plus workers, fail to meet Mattel's guidelines for the maximum number of workers per room (16) and the minimum amount of personal space allotted to each (20 square feet).
   Instead, the rooms are crowded with four rows of four bunk beds lined up side by side, mattress to mattress. For all but those in the outside beds, getting in and out can require a feat of gymnastics.
   Mattel is moving to a less crowded format — two bunk beds in a row, each with a lamp, fan and curtain shielding the bed from the open area — to come into compliance with its own guidelines. But those changes, Mattel said, take time.
   "We can point to deficiencies in the system," said Jim Walter, Mattel's senior vice president of worldwide quality assurance, who oversees the ethical manufacturing initiatives, "but I'm going to look at how far we've come."
   For some, it's still not far enough.
   In 2001, a report by the Hong Kong Christian Industrial Committee rapped Mattel, along with Hasbro, Walt Disney Co., Wal-Mart and others, for making toys in brutal Chinese sweatshops. The National Labor Committee in New York, the group that exposed the problems with Wal-Mart's Kathie Lee Gifford clothing line, followed with another critique the next year.
   Marie-Claude Hessler-Grisel, a French human rights advocate, still sees many of the same problems that were highlighted in those reports.
   Hessler-Grisel says she appreciates that Mattel has poured more than $500 million into its own state-of-the-art facilities and spends about $10 million a year on monitoring factories, upgrading plants and training contractors.
   But given that Mattel earned more than $500 million last year on sales of nearly $5 billion, she expects the company to do a lot more and to do it faster.
   "These workers can't wait forever for a change," she said.
   "I have nothing personal against Mattel," added Hessler-Grisel, a tiny woman with short gray hair and red-rimmed glasses. "You always go after No. 1, and it trickles down."

Enjoying a 'Day Off'
Around the world, workers at factories making Mattel toys complain about one thing above all else: the grueling hours.

   Mattel's rules state that the most anyone can work is 12 hours a day, six days a week — and that's only for very limited periods and when overtime is voluntary. Regular workdays aren't supposed to exceed 10 hours a day, including overtime. What's more, factory employees are not supposed to work more than 13 days in a row. But according to more than a dozen workers, the reality is something else.
   Near Shenzhen, outside a large vendor plant, two 20-year-olds eating a lunch of boiled noodles recounted how they routinely worked 11 hours a day, six days a week. The worst time, they said, comes during the monthly changeover, when their group goes from the day shift to the night shift — and they must plow straight through, with barely a break in between.
   In Indonesia, a 21-year-old woman who worked at Mattel's Jakarta plant talked about friends and colleagues who have assembled Barbie dolls for 30 days straight without time off.
   Even at a Mattel-owned plant in Guanyao, where the hours are within company guidelines, workers are so fatigued that those who return early from lunch sleep at their spots on the assembly line, their heads resting on their hands.
   In environments like these, the slightest break can seem like a tremendous perk.
   Near the city of Dongguan, two young women recently sat in a fourth-floor room sectioned off by crude corrugated-metal walls. They have little to show for their drudgery; they share a mattress and a hot plate. But they said their life at a Mattel contractor factory had been good. Unlike at the last plant where they worked, the Mattel vendor gives them a "day off."
   But as the two friends described their "day off," it became evident that they don't get anything close: On Sundays, they explained, they get to leave work at 5 p.m., having put in eight hours instead of the typical 12.
   "That's a gift," said one of the women, a migrant from Henan province who frequently flashed a broad, toothy grin that made her look even younger than her 20 years. "You don't have to work through the night."

Fear of Retaliation
At the Shenzhen factory, where about 1,000 people are employed, it seems everybody knows the drill.
   Before Mattel comes through twice a year for inspection, workers said, managers promise to pay them time-and-a-half if they repeat the company line: that they work just eight hours a day, six days a week, as allowed by Chinese law.
   In truth, they slog for far longer than that.
   Inside a tiny metal-walled shed a short walk from the factory, the 24-year-old worker reclined on his bed with his fiancee by his side and recalled how he was recently ordered to work 24 hours straight without rest.

   "On the second morning we just kept working," he said, wrinkling his nose as the eye- watering vapors of cooking peppers drifted through the room from a building a few feet away. His fiancee pressed the tummy of a defective Winnie the Pooh that she had rescued from the trash at work. The bear meowed three times — she had sewn in a computer chip from a pet toy that someone had found on the factory floor — and the woman laughed.
   If all goes well, the couple said, they can each earn about $65 a month, half of which they send home to their families in rural China.
   Newcomers and slower workers, they pointed out, sometimes get no pay at all: There is nothing left after charges are subtracted for meals and rent, as many workers live in company housing.
   The couple said they and their colleagues sometimes thought about complaining, but the memory of what happened last year to one who did always stopped them. At first, they said, the worker was shouted down by the floor manager. Then, about 8 p.m., as he was leaving the factory, he was stabbed repeatedly by a group of men.
   Mattel said it was unaware of any such incident.
   Few people saw the stabbing, and no one knew what ultimately happened to the victim, the couple said, although some heard his screams. They didn't dare help or call the police, they said, lest they suffer the same fate.

Squalor in Mexico
More than 7,000 miles from China, along the U.S.-Mexico border, a 41-year-old Mattel factory worker rocked back and forth on a rusted metal chair and talked about life at the job site — and beyond.
   The Tijuana facility where this woman earns the equivalent of $50 a week, Mattel's Mabamex plant, is clean and well maintained. The company strictly enforces its work-hour rules here, and she has few complaints. Mabamex appears little different from factories on the U.S. side of the border.
   But outside the 550,000-square-foot factory, the scene of squalor is all too familiar: Like most maquiladoras — assembly plants that produce goods principally for export — Mabamex is surrounded by the hovels where its workers live.
   The dwellings are made of sheets of scrap metal and prefabricated wooden walls — often, discarded garage doors from across the border. Few homes have anything other than earthen floors. Fewer still have running water. Most bathrooms consist of a system of buckets and open rivulets, which wash the waste downhill.
   The Mattel worker, a mother of four, said she would like to move her family somewhere nicer. But given her salary, there is very little that she can do.
   "When we collect our checks, we feel bad about how little money we make," she said. "We feel the pressure."
   For a company like Mattel, it is a tricky proposition figuring out what its obligation to workers — as well as to society at large — should be.

   "Is it Mattel's responsibility to determine and pay a living wage? I don't think so," said Walter, the company's quality assurance chief. "But should Mattel prompt a local government to determine what a reasonable wage is? We should have some impact on that."
   The struggle between morality and profitability goes right to the top of the company.
   "Do we want to make people's lives better? Absolutely," said Eckert, Mattel's CEO. "Do we want to unilaterally do things that make us uncompetitive and therefore our products don't sell and therefore nobody gets employed? No."
   Few, if any, of the Tijuana maquiladoras do better for their workers than Mattel does, said Alfredo Hualde, director of the Department of Social Studies at El Colegio de la Frontera Norte, a research institution in Tijuana.
   Hualde notes that to have even the most basic amenities — sanitary drinking water, indoor plumbing — the 150,000 maquiladora workers would probably need to see their pay doubled. And that's unimaginable when the Mexican government is doing all it can to keep factories from fleeing Mexico for cheaper locales such as China.
   "The main objective is to keep the maquilas here in Mexico to create employment," Hualde said. "The quality of the employment is secondary."
   When the Factory Closes
   At the Shenzhen factory, the man who worked 24 hours straight learned during the summer that there is something worse than laboring in terrible conditions: being out of a job.
   Work at the plant started to dry up, and the man went 22 days without getting paid.
   Eventually, he landed a new job at a nearby eyeglasses factory. The management is fair, the hours are blessedly shorter, and the pay is better, he said. He and his fiancee were even able to move into a slightly larger apartment with tile, instead of concrete, floors.
   His fiancee hasn't been so lucky, though. When the Mattel contractor finally closed in August, the only job she could find was at a nearby toy factory — another Mattel supplier.
   Conditions there, she said, are worse. The hours are longer and the wages lower. Workers are instructed to keep two timecards so that auditors can't detect the illegal overtime and insufficient pay. There is no clean drinking water at the factory, she said, and no food for those who, like her, often work the graveyard shift.
   The woman longs for the day she can leave, she said. But she doesn't know when that will be.
   Zhang Xiuying of The Times' Shanghai Bureau and Sari Sudarsono of the Jakarta Bureau contributed to this report.
   Additional photographs, as well as articles about Mattel factory manager Rug Burad and human rights advocate Marie-Claude Hessler-Grisel, can be found at
Story of strife
• The General Accounting Office reports that sweatshops are becoming prominent again.
• State and federal labor officials begin using the 1938 "hot goods law" to battle sweatshops in Southern California. The law restricts retailers from selling goods manufactured under illegal labor conditions.
• The Labor Department takes legal action against six sewing contractors in a bid to shutter Los Angeles sweatshops.
• Levi Strauss & Co. adopts a code of conduct to ensure that its overseas contractors maintain fair labor practices.
• Nike Inc. and Sears, Roebuck & Co. establish codes of conduct for their factories. Under pressure from the Labor Department, Guess Inc. agrees to police its sewing contractors for labor violations.
• State and federal labor inspectors uncover rampant labor violations throughout California.
• Labor Secretary Robert B. Reich threatens legal action against major U.S. retailers, expanding use of the "hot goods law" nationwide.
• Liz Claiborne Inc. establishes a code of conduct.
• Authorities raid an El Monte sweatshop and find 71 Thai nationals living in virtual slavery as garment workers. The raid raises awareness of sweatshops.
• During congressional testimony, the executive director of the National Labor Committee accuses Walt Disney Co. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc.'s Kathie Lee Gifford clothing line of using sweatshops to make their apparel.
• Nike comes under fire over conditions in its factories in China, Vietnam and Indonesia.
• McDonald's Corp. is criticized for its plants in Asia that make Happy Meals toys.
• Mattel Inc. establishes a code of conduct for manufacturing and an international independent monitoring system.
• Duke University adopts a code of conduct governing the making of Duke-licensed merchandise.
• College students form United Students Against Sweatshops.
• U.S. apparel manufacturers and labor rights groups create the Fair Labor Assn., or FLA, an independent organization aimed at making sure that overseas factories meet the group's code of conduct. Founding members include Liz Claiborne, Nike, Phillips- Van Heusen Corp. and Reebok International Ltd.
• College students around the country protest universities' ties to sweatshops. Seventeen colleges join the FLA, angering student activists who question the association's autonomy.
• Human rights group Global Exchange accuses Gap Inc. plants of unfair labor conditions.
• Mattel releases its first audit of working conditions in its factories in Asia.
• The University of Pennsylvania withdraws from the FLA after students occupy the president's office for nine days and a nationwide 36-hour hunger strike is staged in support of the protesters.
• Nike founder Phil Knight announces that he will no longer make donations to the University of Oregon because of its membership in another labor rights group that had criticized Nike.
• The University of California system establishes one of the toughest codes of conduct in the country.
• Reports from labor rights groups accuse Mattel, Hasbro Inc., Disney and Wal-Mart of making toys in Chinese sweatshops.
• The last of 26 U.S. clothing makers settles a class-action lawsuit alleging the existence of sweatshop conditions on the Pacific island of Saipan.
• Nike settles a case claiming that its defense of sweatshop allegations was false advertising.
• Gap Inc. finds violations in many of its overseas factories, particularly in China.

Many efforts have been undertaken in recent years to end sweatshop conditions in the United States and abroad. Sources: Company reports, Associated Press, Times research. Compiled by Times librarian John Jackson
Los Angeles Time

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Page 19
November 23, 2004 Los Angeles Times
Smoking 'em out
When Philip Morris stages its annual adventure fest in southern Utah for young overseas smokers, the party is strictly private.
By Charles Duhigg, Times Staff Writer

Harley Bates is steaming. He pushes past the off-duty cop standing in front of his ranch and charges the reporter and photographer.
   "Get the hell off my land!" he says.
   "Sir, I'm a reporter … "
   "You're scaring people taking their pictures as they drive in!"
   A quarter of a mile away, the roof of a school bus crowns a small hill. Through a telephoto lens, tiny figures mill about. The reporter and photographer take turns looking for wisps of cigarette smoke.
   So begins the third day of the 2004 Adventure Team, a 12-day hiking, four-wheeling and canyoneering extravaganza on Utah's public lands and one of Philip Morris International's most secretive — and successful — Marlboro promotions.
   Forty-two young men and women from Europe, Latin America and Asia, selected from more than 1 million applicants, are playing cowboy at the company's expense. (Because of legal constraints, Americans cannot participate.)

   All contestants undergo a complex application process, each handing over their name, address and personal details about where they shop, what music they listen to and what they smoke. As more and more countries restrict tobacco advertising, the data allow the company to talk directly to its customers.
   Marlboro marketers and outdoorsy camps — doubling as focus groups — whittled applicants down to a busload. The winners were flown in September to Moab, where Philip Morris showered them with fleece, leather and custom-made cowboy hats. By day, they crossed Utah's public lands, playing on ATVs and horseback, and by night, they retired to private ranches, like Bates'. In return, they surrendered their names and photos for future advertisements.
   At the front gate, standing on public land, the reporter starts asking questions.
   "Sir, the public has a right to know how Utah's public lands are used to promote cigarettes … "
   "Nonsense!" yells Bates.
   The photographer raises his camera. The reporter stands a little straighter and sucks in his gut.
   Critics have long attacked the Marlboro Adventure Team's use of public spaces, arguing that America's canyons, deserts and picturesque birthrights shouldn't help sell cigarettes.
   In response, during the last five years Philip Morris has gone underground, operating on both public and private land and keeping as low a profile as possible.
   Which begs the question: Why bother? Why fly halfway around the world when the Alps, the Negev and the beaches of Micronesia are closer to the contestants? Is Utah really worth the trouble? And why does Moab, a magnet for environmental activists, turn a blind eye?
   The answers, as John Wayne once noted, are "land and money, the two things that drive men mad."
   The reporter presses on: "We just want to speak with the team … "
   Bates invites the reporter to kiss a certain part of his anatomy and walks away. The rising sun begins its attack on the surrounding red rock towers. Then the cowboy stops and spits toward the interlopers.
   The off-duty cop hooks a thumb in his belt and smiles. "Welcome to Marlboro Country," he says.

This is not America
   The tobacco invasion of Utah began in Chicago in 1962.
   Just 10 years earlier, Marlboro cigarettes suffered from an image problem. The brand was smoked primarily by women and was one of Philip Morris' biggest commercial disappointments. The company asked ad wizard Leo Burnett, famous for multimedia blitzkriegs featuring characters like the Jolly Green Giant, for help.
   "I said, 'What's the most masculine symbol you can think of?' " Burnett recalled in a 1972 documentary. "One of these writers spoke up and said a cowboy. And I said, 'That's for sure.' "
   Eight months after the campaign began, Marlboro sales had increased 5,000%. The ads depicted real cowboys on real cattle drives. In the early 1960s, marketers shifted the focus from cowboys to the Southwest's lonely, rugged expanses, and Marlboro Country was born. Since the 1970s, the brand has been the No. 1 seller worldwide.

   The 1990s, however, presented new challenges. One of the early Marlboro Men announced he was dying of lung cancer and, at a shareholders' meeting, berated the chairman of Philip Morris. Multiple companies drew fire for promoting their brands with cartoon-like advertising (think Joe Camel) that critics said enticed children to smoke. In 1998, as lawsuits filed by state attorneys general threatened to undo the tobacco industry, cigarette makers agreed to pay $246 billion over 25 years to state coffers and curtail some forms of advertising. By then, however, Philip Morris had turned its attention to Eastern Europe, Latin America and Asia, where more smokers and fewer regulations beckoned. Commercials showing Marlboro Country were ubiquitous overseas.
   Philip Morris relies on the Marlboro Adventure Team to extend its reach. At the inaugural event in 1982, 16 Germans descended on Moab and quickly destroyed one jeep, three motorcycles and themselves. Photographers captured it for a new ad campaign, and the Marlboro Adventure Team concept took off. Moab has held the event almost every year since then with support from the local community.
   Back at Bates' ranch, the school bus speeds away. The reporter and photographer, choking on dust, follow in their rental car. Twenty minutes later, the bus parks near the Colorado River and team members begin transferring bags to a canvas-enshrouded pontoon motorboat idling along the red clay banks. The reporter and photographer approach the group in the public parking lot.
   "Can I ask you a few questions?" the reporter asks one of the American guides.
   "Dude, you've been told to stay away! All right? I've got nothing to say!" John is a muscular young man in his 20s with big teeth who gives only his first name. "If you don't leave, I'm going to hit you!"
   The reporter eyes John's threatening muscles and boulder-sized teeth. Near the boat, a gaggle of slim, attractive men and women converse in broken English and watch.
   "Hey, can I ask you guys a few questions?" the reporter shouts to break the tension. They only stare back.
   "Go away!" one woman yells.
   Beginning in the mid-1990s, the Marlboro team changed its focus from macho burly men to more average smokers. The implied message is easy to understand: Everyone can be a Marlboro Man; all they need is to love the outdoors, love adventure and, of course, love smoking.
   "Why are you bothering us?" the woman asks. "This is not American."
   The reporter would like to correct her on that point. Where are Woodward and Bernstein when you need them? John steps closer, clenching his fists.
   In previous years, American journalists joined the team. This year, however, team members, according to company executive François Moreillon, asked that Americans not intrude on their trip. Philip Morris agreed. "We want the winners to experience the freedom of America," explains Moreillon. "And we find this is easiest when Americans are not part of the event."
   Another team member points at the crouching photographer taking pictures of the boat. "This is not America," he says. It seems a common sentiment around here. "This," he points to the glowing canyon, walls of gold and ochre that, rumor has it, once hid Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, "is America. You are nothing."
   The boat cuts across water shimmering with reflected sun, plunges between stone cliffs and disappears.

Follow the money
   That Moab — known for its buttes, meadows and air so clean it stings the lungs — is home to the Marlboro Adventure Team may seem odd. Throughout the 1990s, national antismoking groups approached Utah's state legislators, a largely antismoking, pro-Mormon group, and asked, in effect, What Would Jesus Smoke? The Legislature hedged, first by passing one of the nation's most vigorous public smoking bans and then persuading Philip Morris to keep the team in Moab.
   Jesus, apparently, was no match for greed. Last year, overseas visitors spent about $174 million in Utah, and the Marlboro team alone brings $2 million to Moab's lonely coffers. In the past, city residents have protested against oil drilling, thumper trucks, road extensions, new jeep trails, dismantling wilderness protection, sound pollution and even murals, but when the team's jeeps drive through town, residents come out and wave.
   "There's a lot of money at stake," says Rick Donham, supervisor of Moab's community substance abuse center. "If we protested, it would make us very unpopular."
   Others agree.
   "This is your typical … little town that is beautiful and filled with greedy hotel owners," says Aubrey Davis, 26, an employee at an independent bookstore that holds poetry readings and sells anti-Bush stickers.
   "Plus, the Mormon church is antismoking," she says, as she lifts her pack of smokes. "And if the church is against it, I'm for it."

   Even so, Philip Morris tries to be invisible. The company is never mentioned in land-use applications, which are filed by International Adventure Tours, the Moab company responsible for the logistics. Philip Morris and International Adventure Tour employees refuse to speak to the press. Jeeps and motorbikes used by the team, once stamped with Marlboro logos, are now simply painted red.

Auf Wiedersehen, baby
   Philip Morris has heard about "complications with the press." Tipped off by weeks of intrusive phone calls and field reports from team employees, the company has flown in two representatives from Europe.
   The previous evening the reporter and photographer, determined to speak to an actual team member, waited by a public campground carved into the dry cliffs overlooking Moab.
   When two team employees drove up in an SUV, the reporter pulled his car across the path. They wheeled around him, sending up plumes of dust, and the reporter followed, destroying headlights and compressing vertebrae across pitted rock trails that run beside 100-foot crevasses.
   Eventually, the team car stopped, and the window rolled down.
   The reporter approached the vehicle.
   "We just want to know … " he began.
   "I hate you!" a crying woman screamed at him from the passenger's seat. The car took off again.
   Now Philip Morris wants to talk.
   "We will make you a deal," says Moreillon. "We will let you join the team tomorrow if you stop scaring people."

   Scaring people? The reporter and photographer have acted well within their rights; this is after all public land. But Moreillon is a kind man who spends his spare time promoting rock bands in Switzerland where he lives. He is hardly a merchant of death, as the rap has it with most cigarette executives. A deal is struck.
   The next morning the reporter and photographer join six team members mounting horses for a daylong ride. Leading the trip is a familiar face, cowboy Harley Bates.
   The team members, ranging in age from 22 to 24, are nice and goofy, like American kids but from Israel, Latvia, Spain and the Philippines. "I filled out the application in class because, you know, I like to smoke and I like free trips," says Jose Luis García, 22, from Spain. "And the class was boring."
   Another team member is trying to decide whether to become a biologist or a dancer. "They seem very similar jobs to me," says Elizabete Piuse, who's also 22 but from Latvia.
   The team is much less ominous than the secrecy surrounding the event. In fact, most members are unaware of the controversies and battles that brought them here. They simply feel lucky to be in America, birthplace of the most iconic cigarette imagery in the world.
   The Philip Morris representatives watch protectively. Why, the reporter asks Moreillon, is it so important to be here, in Moab?
   "America is Marlboro Country. There is no other place that is so free," he replies.
   At the head of the pack, Bates is offering a graduate course in frontier free enterprise, explaining how foreign competition has undermined American ranching.
   As if on cue, the riders pick up a trail meandering next to a private hunting preserve. Tall, waving branches of nearby pines shade the team, and Bates' dog scampers around, searching for scents under a tree where a sign warns trespassers they may be shot.
   "We love this land," Moreillon continues. "But America scares everyone a little." Some of this year's winners, he says, citing security concerns and opposition to U.S. foreign policy, declined to join.
   The ride continues into an aspen forest before descending into a long green valley. A colt, led by one of the guides, spooks and breaks free, charging down a steep path, kicking other horses before he's caught. The sudden explosion unsettles a few of the team members, who seem to loosen up during a cigarette-and-lunch break.
   The reporter is able to ask a few more questions. Who are these people? Who actually smokes like this anymore? What do their mothers think?
   "I don't actually smoke. I'm a med student," says Spanish team member Anna Mascaraque, 24.
   The reporter leans forward. Now we're getting somewhere. A Marlboro representative bursts into sight. Julia Werner, a German Philip Morris employee, is built like a small tank.
   "You don't smoke … ?" the reporter begins to ask. Werner drowns out his words.
   "OK, end of interview! You are all done! You are enticing them to admit they are not smokers and asking very rude questions! Your invitation is over!"
   The reporter and the photographer exchange glances. The group goes silent.
   "We don't really care if they smoke … " the reporter begins.
   "You can just leave!" the Philip Morris representative shouts. "You are very rude! We never ask these rude questions in Europe!"
   The air is growing sharp with chill. The reporter realizes he has no idea where he is or how to find the car. Team members shuffle farther away. There is the faint but distinct howl of some far-off animal.
   "We just want to understand why … "
   "Then why do you ask such strong questions?" Werner yells. "You try to make everyone feel bad! This is why we exclude Americans!"
   The air is getting colder. The reporter and photographer turn and stare at Bates, who is watching from his horse. If they have any hope of getting out of here, it is with him. "Don't worry," he says. "We'll make sure you get a ride back to your car."
   He turns his horse and begins trotting away. A guide shouts at Bates: "Ah, that's Marlboro Country, huh?"
   Bates looks at the guide, and scoffs. "You know what's real Marlboro Country?" he asks. "The graveyard." He looks into the air and digs his heels into his horse, riding toward the mountains, an American cowboy to the end.
   Times staff writer Charles Duhigg can be reached at

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Page 20
an excellent book review on a perhaps excellent book? (all i have time for anymore is periodicals :-)
note: the italics are my own -perryb

November 21, 2004 Los Angeles Times
Cruel but no longer unusual Torture and Truth:
Book Review by Sanford Levinson, professor at the University of Texas at Austin, author of "Constitutional Faith" and "Written in Stone", and editor of "Torture: A Collection."

America, Abu Ghraib, and the War on Terror
Mark Danner, New York Review Books: 580 pp., $19.95 paper

MARK DANNER'S "Torture and Truth" is two books in one. The first is a collection of five essays originally published in the New York Review of Books. Two of the essays appeared in 2003 and are prescient about the quagmire that has since enveloped U.S. forces in Iraq. Still, only devoted Iraq junkies need to read them. Three more powerful articles written this year on the methods of interrogation used on prisoners at Abu Ghraib (and elsewhere) in the Bush administration's "global war on terrorism" express what has become almost universal dismay and outrage at the treatment revealed by the now-famous photographs (also reprinted in the book).

"What happened at Abu Ghraib, whatever it was, did not depend on the sadistic ingenuity of a few bad apples," writes the prizewinning author of previous books on political violence and war in Haiti and El Salvador. "[P]rocedures that 'violated established interrogation procedures and applicable laws' in fact had their genesis not in Iraq but in interrogation rooms in Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba — and ultimately in decisions made by high officials in Washington."

Key to Danner's argument is his careful analysis of relevant government documents recently disclosed, often through leaks, that make up the book's second part. Because these are fuller versions of post-Abu Ghraib investigation reports that have appeared elsewhere, the book is essential reading for Americans who want to know how the United States has careened into chaos — moral, political and organizational — over its methods of interrogating detainees around the world. Some may prove particularly relevant to the nomination of White House counsel Alberto R. Gonzales to succeed Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft. Gonzales asked for the now-notorious memorandum from the Justice Department (also reprinted here) justifying the president's power to order torture, and he pronounced aspects of the Geneva Convention on treatment of prisoners of war "obsolete" and "quaint."

One cannot understand the post-Abu Ghraib reports outside the context of the earlier memorandum, especially those prepared by the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel before the outbreak of hostilities in Iraq but after the invasion of Afghanistan. The first group of seven memoranda explores the reach of the Geneva Convention; especially interesting are significant concerns expressed by the State Department in response to the dismissive arguments by Gonzales. A second set of 14 memoranda, really the emotional heart of the book, considers the question "What is torture?"

An Aug. 2, 2002, memorandum to Gonzales from the Office of Legal Counsel (signed by Jay S. Bybee, who now sits on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals) offered a hyper-legalistic definition of torture and suggested that the Constitution gives the president the power to order the use of torture even though that is barred by both international law and U.S. congressional statute.

Thus, it advised Gonzales (and therefore the president) that torture means the imposition of "excruciating" pain. And it must be "equivalent to the pain that would be associated with serious physical injury so severe that death, organ failure, or permanent damage resulting in a loss of significant body function will likely result." What the memorandum calls the "mere infliction of pain or suffering on another," though it may be "inhuman and degrading" (and also prohibited by the United Nations Convention, signed by the United States), is not "torture"; as the "mere" suggests, such treatment is of no concern. To be a bit more fair to the memo's authors, they point out that although Congress has defined "inhuman and degrading" as conduct that would violate the Constitution's prohibition of "cruel and unusual punishment," the federal courts have been unwilling to invoke the constitutional provision to protect prisoners against brutal treatment in U.S. jails.

Indeed, it is noteworthy that several of the military police officers implicated in the Abu Ghraib incidents are prison guards in civilian life. An especially revealing appendix to the Abu Ghraib investigation report, by the commission headed by former Secretary of Defense James Schlesinger, refers to a famous 30-year-old Stanford University social psychology experiment that demonstrated the propensity of students arbitrarily assigned the role of "guards" to engage in remarkably abusive behavior toward their "prisoner" classmates. (The experiment was called off six days into the planned two weeks.) Very tight command and control is necessary to prevent abuse, but that was nonexistent at Abu Ghraib.

It is possible that the Justice Department arguments are legally defensible, if morally repulsive. Congress may deserve a full measure of blame: When it considered ratifying the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment, congressional leaders insisted on a definition of torture that used adjectives like "severe," "prolonged" and "imminent." For example, the "threat of imminent death" is

forbidden, as is "the threat that another person [such as a member of the detainee's family] will imminently be subjected to death [or] severe physical pain or suffering…. "

For better and worse, the best law schools teach their students to run with such adjectives when advocating for a client. The legal counsel's memo is, in its way, a model of such advocacy. By defining torture in such an extreme way, the memo empowered President Bush (and others in his administration) to say that what they were authorizing was not really torture, even if most lay persons would define it as such.

The book's last section includes the Schlesinger commission report and the highly critical findings by Army Maj. Gen. Antonio M. Taguba, which were written before the infamous Abu Ghraib photos were leaked to the public. Danner properly criticizes the Schlesinger report for failing to hold the Pentagon's civilian leadership responsible for Abu Ghraib and other similar breaches of law and morality, but anyone who reads that report should finish with increased confidence in the professional military. The so-called Jones/Fay report, named for two army generals appointed to conduct their own independent investigation and also included here, conveys barely concealed rage over the management of the interrogation phase of the war, which was troubled by inconsistent messages from Washington, an inadequate number of trained military personnel, the vulnerability of Abu Ghraib to insurgent attack, the outsourcing of interrogation to civilian contractors and the CIA's indifference to law, among other factors.

During their presidential campaigns, neither Bush nor Sen. John F. Kerry, for quite different reasons, wished to confront the awful truth contained in these materials. One can only hope that these reports are not treated as "last year's news." Even though written far less felicitously, they are every bit as important as the 9/11 Commission's report. •

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Page 21
several good articles: (a) an indirect argument for why there should be more scientists in government, (b) excerpt on bush's vision to (legacy in) outer space, but a genuine disconnect from real science, (c) some subtleties of obesity, and (d) around-the- globe arctic pollution-


November 12, 2004 Science Magazine VOL 306
What's on the Label?

When you are buying food, are you one of the 30% of shoppers (an estimate in the United Kingdom) who always read the labels, or one of the 20% who rarely or never give them a glance? Do you know what to make of them if you read them? Labels are meant to inform you and to help you to choose. But when you go shopping, how much time do you have to read about the differences between 30 types of chicken soup or 300 varieties of breakfast cereal? Consumers seem to want more and more choice, and consumer pressure groups definitely want more information on food labels. Choice and information are also attractive to regulators, because these options are less likely to be viewed as restricting individual freedom or stifling food industry innovation than the alternative of regulating food content.

In the United States, labeling regulations are largely about the material content. In Europe, the method and place of production may also be specified in law, even if they make no material difference to the contents. This difference in approach is evident in the labeling of genetically modified (GM) foods. Whether the plant from which a food is made is GM is irrelevant in the United States, given its emphasis on overall content rather than process. But in Europe, labeling of foods containing DNA or protein from GM plants is mandatory, and legislation has now been extended to include purified derivatives such as glucose syrup and canola oil (but not products from animals fed on GM animal feed or products made with GM technology, such as cheese).

Transatlantic differences in food labeling are also apparent when it comes to the biggest current challenge for food policy: obesity. Doing something about obesity is especially difficult for governments and regulators, because diet and lifestyle are in the territory of personal freedom, not state intervention. At the same time, the health care costs are potentially huge, so the pressure for action is on. The blend of action that is emerging, in both Europe and the United States, includes voluntary changes by the food industry, public education, and better labeling. Some countries and U.S. states are going even further, for instance, by restricting what can be sold in school vending machines and restricting television advertising. All of these changes are meant to make it easier for people to choose a healthy diet.

The world’s fattest nation, the United States, has what is arguably the best nutrition labeling, with a mandatory nutrition facts panel. So would better labeling help? The largest food retailer in the United Kingdom, Tesco, has said that it plans to test a “traffic light” system, using red, yellow, and green colors to give consumers simple information about the main nutrients. Some object to this because of the potential implication that there are good (green) and bad (red) foods, whereas the traditional mantra from nutritionists is that there are only good and bad diets. But the food/diet distinction has changed as many people rely increasingly on ready-made meals or snacks. Research in the United Kingdom suggests that people would actually favor a simple sign-posting system such as traffic lights.

The food industry is responding to public interest in diet and health by making foods that claim to have specific health benefits. These come close to the border between food and medicine. You can buy cholesterolreducing margarine, eggs that contain long- chain omega-3 unsaturated fatty acids, and yogurts that claim to help you balance your gut flora. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has a three-tiered system for such health claims, depending on the strength of the evidence for the claim. The European Union does not have specific regulations, but plans to introduce rules within the next 2 years that will require the independent evaluation of health claims by the European Food Safety Authority. The implications of science-based regulation are enormous for the worldwide food industry, both because products that claim to improve your health are generally highly profitable and because, in the science of nutrition, there is often disagreement among experts. Over the next decade, increases in our understanding of the relationship between an individual’s genetic makeup and his or her nutritional needs will open up a whole new area for debate about what goes on the label. The world of choice is not going to get any easier.

John Krebs
John Krebs is chairman of the Food Standards Agency, UK.

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[also November 12, 2004 Science Magazine VOL 306]

Bush Victory Leaves Scars--and Concerns About Funding

Jeffrey Mervis*


"Rightly or not, I think the science community is now perceived by this White House as the enemy, and that will make it harder to open doors," says physicist Michael Lubell, who handles government affairs for the American Physical Society. "It's one more factor in an increasingly complex situation," says David Moore of the Association of American Medical Colleges, who worries that fallout from the recent campaign could determine whether the Bush Administration "reaches out and engages [the science community] or goes in its own direction."

If Marburger's analysis is correct, it's not the Administration but its scientific critics who have gone their own way, losing touch with society's concerns in the process. "Science needs patrons, and our patron is society," said the 63-year-old applied physicist, a former university

More space. Bush hopes Congress will fund his plans to explore the moon and Mars, announced earlier this year.

president and head of Brookhaven National Laboratory. "But if we're not careful, the scientific community can become estranged from the rest of society and what it cares about."
Weight Control: It Takes a Village

About 250 million adults worldwide are obese, a condition that puts them at great risk for diabetes, heart disease, and other serious health problems. Although remarkable progress has been made in understanding the physiological and environmental factors that regulate body weight in mammals, much remains to be learned.

A new study in mice points to a surprising participant in body weight control: the community of bacteria (microbiota) that colonize the gut. Bäckhed et al. found that when they introduced the gut microbiota of normal mice into a special strain of "germ- free" mice, the recipients showed a 60% increase in total body fat within 2 weeks, even though they had eaten less and exhibited an increased metabolic rate. The microbiota appeared to promote fat storage by stimulating the synthesis of triglycerides in the liver and their deposition in adipocytes (fat cells). Based on their results, the authors hypothesize that changes in microbial ecology prompted by Western diets or differences in microbial ecology between individuals living in Western societies may affect predisposition toward obesity. -- PAK

Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 101, 15718 (2004).

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Page 23
(*3) November 18, 2004 Los Angeles Times
High Contamination Reported in Arctic Russians
Natives more dependent on local wildlife for food are exposed to record levels of pollutants.
By Marla Cone, Times Staff Writer

Russians in remote reaches of the Arctic carry growing levels of industrial chemicals and pesticides, making them among the most contaminated people on Earth, according to a report released Wednesday by the Russian Federation and an international group of scientists.
   Since the collapse of the Soviet economy, Russia's indigenous northerners have had less access to imported foods and are relying more on a traditional diet of seal, whale and other wild animals. These natural food sources have accumulated toxic chemicals as pollutants have drifted northward from urban areas with winds and ocean currents.
   As a result, chemical concentrations in Arctic inhabitants, particularly in residents of Chukotka, across the Bering Strait from Alaska, are extraordinarily high.
   Scientists have already shown that other Arctic natives, particularly the Inuit of Greenland and Canada, have the highest levels of many toxic substances found in humans anywhere.
   But this project is the first to monitor people in the vast, isolated regions of Russia's far north. The research was conducted by the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program, a scientific group funded by Arctic nations, including the United States, which worked with the Russian government and the Russian Assn. of Indigenous Peoples of the North.
   The report calls the contaminants "one of the most serious environmental and human health risks" for the Russian Arctic. The levels of two pesticides, hexachlorobenzene and hexachlorocyclohexane, and, in some areas, PCBs and the pesticide DDT, in Russians are "among the highest reported for all of the Arctic regions," the report says.
   "We are poisoned and so are our children," said Sheila Watt-Cloutier, president of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference, which represents Arctic people in Canada, Alaska, Greenland and Chukotka. This research "really arms us, strengthens us, to be able to move forward and push toward global action on these very important issues for the indigenous people of the Arctic."
   About 2 million people inhabit the Russian Arctic; about 200,000 are native to the region. The report says the 16,000 people of Chukotka, in northeastern Russia, "are the main concern with respect to human health risks." They eat marine mammals, whose blubber stores toxic compounds.

   "In the areas of the Russian Arctic studied, practically every indigenous family consumes a significant amount of traditional food," the report says. "Families with low incomes rely to a greater extent on the local, fat-rich traditional diet. As a consequence, low-income, indigenous families are at greater risk of exposure."
   The health threat is mostly to infants and children, since the chemicals are passed on to fetuses and taint breast milk. In studies of Canadian Inuit, PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls, have been linked to immune suppression and slight neurological damage in infants. Many of the contaminants have been tied to hormonal changes in Arctic wildlife and to cancer in laboratory animals.
   Some of the contaminants probably came from within Russia, particularly the PCBs. The report recommends that Russia create an inventory of sources within its borders.
   However, other chemicals, such as the pesticide mirex, were never used in Russia, so they probably flowed there from cities in North America or Europe, propelled by northbound winds and currents.
   "We knew that levels probably would be higher in Russia because of all the contamination going on in that country," Watt-Cloutier said.
   The report recommends that Russians develop a strategy to lower exposure without endangering traditional cultures and reducing already inadequate food supplies. For example, the Inuit of Canada are advised to eat more fish, which is less contaminated than beluga or seal.
   The findings will be presented next week to ministers of the eight-nation Arctic Council.
   Lars-Otto Reiersen, of the Arctic monitoring program's secretariat, based in Norway, said industrialized nations where the chemicals originate had "a moral duty" to find solutions. "We cannot send the dirt to our neighbors and close our eyes," he said. "Reductions in use and emissions will have to be done at the source."
   Many of the chemicals, including PCBs, DDT and mirex, have already been banned in the U.S. and most other industrialized nations. But they are still leaking from old equipment, stockpiles and contaminated fields and waters, and once they reach the Arctic, they remain there for decades.
   The Stockholm Convention, an international treaty that went into effect in May, restricts 12 of the chemicals, dubbed the "Dirty Dozen," and implements cleanup projects. U.S. officials have not ratified the treaty because they disagree with the procedure for banning compounds.

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two excellent book reviews, one from the American Scientist magazine , and the second from The Economist


November 16, 2004 American Scientist Magazine
Logic -Becoming a Better Reasoner
-book review by Keith Devlin

Logic Made Easy: How to Know When Language Deceives You.
Deborah J. Bennett. 256 pp. W. W. Norton, 2004. $24.95.

You enter the voting booth and there is a local measure to repeal term limits. You vote yes. Does this mean you favor term limits?

A mother says to her son, "If you finish your vegetables, you can have dessert.“ Does this mean that the child must eat all of his vegetables in order to get dessert?

The answer to the first question is no. If you said otherwise, then you just voted the wrong way! The answer to the second question: It all depends. Formal logic (sometimes called classical logic) says the answer is no. Strictly speaking, the sentence says nothing about what happens if the child does not finish his vegetables. Consequently, it is possible for the son to get dessert without finishing his vegetables. But every parent and child in the world knows the correct answer is yes: No vegetables, no dessert. Period. Only grandparents may follow the rules of classical logic in this situation. Everyone else must follow natural logic, the logic that underlies the normal, everyday use of language within a society.

These are just two of the many examples Deborah J. Bennett discusses in her superb little book Logic Made Easy. Some of the problems she presents will challenge even experts. In particular, a very clear head is required for the well-known Wason Selection Task and for the THOG problem, both of which were devised by cognitive psychologist Peter C. Wason. Many of the other examples Bennett gives come from the Law School Admission Test (LSAT).

If I were giving a university-level course on logical reasoning, this would be my textbook, and I would demand that the students read it from cover to cover. The only caution I would give them would be to ignore the

book's title. In fact, one thing Bennett makes crystal clear is that logic is anything but easy. Her subtitle, How to Know When Language Deceives You, is more to the point, and I suspect that the main title is a product of those in charge of marketing the book, rather than an attempt by the author to describe the content. An accurate, but perhaps less salesworthy, title would be "Logic explained in an entertaining and intelligent fashion,“ or perhaps "The best introduction to logic currently available." You get my drift.

By and large, Bennett sticks to the classical propositional logic that we inherited from the ancient Greeks—and, or, not, implies, if and only if—barely mentioning quantification and not covering the work of Kurt Gödel and Alfred Tarski at all. These are entirely the right choices, given that this is a book aimed at helping people from all walks of life to become better reasoners, not a textbook in logic for mathematics students.

The underlying material is for the most part standard and has been covered many times by a great many authors. What Bennett brings to the table are a superb compact history of the subject and a broad view of the relationship between formal logic and everyday human reasoning (both features that are sorely lacking in many other books on logic), backed up by research results from cognitive psychology and supported by a collection of excellent examples.

In the latter part of the book, Bennett touches on some extensions of classical Greek propositional logic—such as Venn diagrams, truth tables, modal logic and fuzzy logic—that bear upon everyday reasoning. But here, and throughout, for the most part she stays well clear of mathematical formalisms, and the closest she gets to mathematical logic is a brief mention of George Boole's algebra of logic.

In a blurb on the front cover, veteran mathematics writer Martin Gardner calls the book "The best and the most lucid introduction to logic you will find." I can't argue with his logic.
mdash;Keith Devlin, Department of Mathematics and Center for the Study of Language and Information, Stanford University

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November 13, 2004 The Economist Magazine Book Review:
Teenagers alone -Feral and furious

Home Alone America: The Hidden Toll Of Day Care, Wonder Drugs, And Other Parent Substitutes.
by Mary Eberstadt
Sentinel 218 pages

“IT WOULD be better for both children and adults if more American parents were with their kids more of the time,” insists Mary Eberstadt, at the end of a gloomy account of all that has gone wrong with youngsters' lives. She wants a new public consensus to reflect that.

Can views change? Public concern about the absence of fathers from their children's lives has already begun to rise in the past decade. Indeed, the author's catalogue of childhood unhappiness sometimes conflates the effects of divorce with her main and more controversial target, namely, the decline in the amount of time that children spend with either parent. She blames the rise of day care and of empty homes for rising aggression, obesity, unhappiness and teenage sex. The average American teenager now spends about three-and-a-half hours alone each day: more time alone than with family and friends. In that loneliness, and in children's resentment of it, lie the roots of most of the ills that beset America's youngsters.

The loneliness, Mrs Eberstadt argues, starts in day care. Deposited, by working mothers, too soon and too long in the care of strangers, small

children suffer more infections and develop more aggressive behaviour than they once did. At school, children whose parents are out of the home for long periods behave worse and achieve less. Violence in primary schools has grown. So has childhood obesity: the proportion of overweight youngsters tripled between the 1960s and 1990s. Why? Because, says Mrs Eberstadt, there is no longer an adult at home to tell a sedentary child to stop munching in front of the television and go out to play. She cites research showing a significant link between maternal work and overweight children. Television makes the dual-career and single-parent family possible.

Children hate being parentless. But the adult response to what she calls the “furious child problem” has been pharmaceutical: prescription-drug use is now rising faster among children than among the elderly. Schools have difficulty managing “feral” children, their behaviour undisciplined by a parental presence at home. Teenagers left alone at home for too long get up to greater mischief. And she reports a rising epidemic of sexually transmitted diseases among teenagers. Parents are “the ultimate prophylactic”.

The figures do not always support her alarm. Teenage crime and suicide have been falling recently, and pregnancy is not rising. There is, she feels, strong “cultural pressure” to suppress what is up with kids today. But her passionate attack on the damage caused by the absence of parents suggests that we may be approaching some sort of turning point in social attitudes, where assumptions about family life and maternal employment start to change. It has happened before—it could happen again.

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take your pick-
(a) overpopulation and a reducing 'lifestyle and quality of life' or-
(b) 'lifestyle and quality of life' dynamically tailored to 'what the system can bear' in population and distribution.

November 13, 2004 Los Angeles Times
Overfishing Affects Land Animals

From Reuters

Overfishing by subsidized European fleets off the coast of West Africa is hurting local fisheries and forcing people to slaughter wildlife to get enough to eat, researchers reported in the current issue of the journal Science [below].
   The researchers said the so-called bush meat trade in Ghana is strongly driven by a lack of fish, and added that the country risked even worse poverty and social unrest — as well as the loss of an irreplaceable natural resource — unless something changes.
   Bush meat includes game such as antelope but also species such as monkeys and jackals.
   "This study provides the strongest link yet between a local fish supply with immediate, dramatic effects on bush meat hunting and terrestrial

wildlife," said Justin Brashares, an assistant professor of ecosystem sciences at UC Berkeley who led the study.
   More than half of Ghana's 20 million people live near the coast, and they rely heavily on fishing.
   Brashares and colleagues said they studied census data recorded by park rangers from 1970 to 1998 for 41 species of animals such as buffalo, antelope, jackals, lions, elephants, monkeys and baboons.
   Then they analyzed data from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization on fish in the region.
   They found a 76% decrease in mammals, with many local extinctions. The fewer fish there were year to year, the harder the impact on land animals, they found.
   "If people aren't able to get their protein from fish, they'll turn elsewhere for food and economic survival. Unfortunately, the impacts on wild game resources are not sustainable, and species are literally disappearing," Brashares added.

12 November 2004 Science Magazine VOL 306 1180-1183
Bushmeat Hunting, Wildlife Declines, and Fish Supply in West Africa
Justin S. Brashares et al
[abstract: first and last paragraphs]

The multibillion-dollar trade in bushmeat is among the most immediate threats to the persistence of tropical vertebrates, but our understanding of its underlying drivers and effects on human welfare is limited by a lack of empirical data. We used 30 years of data from Ghana to link mammal declines to the bushmeat trade and to spatial and temporal changes in the availability of fish. We show that years of poor fish supply coincided with increased hunting in nature reserves and sharp declines in biomass of 41 wildlife species. Local market data provide evidence of a direct link between fish supply and subsequent bushmeat demand in villages and show bushmeat's role as a dietary staple in the region. Our results emphasize the urgent need to develop cheap protein alternatives to bushmeat and to improve fisheries management by

foreign and domestic fleets to avert extinctions of tropical wildlife.

A second route to increase the sustainability of fish and wildlife harvests could come by enhancing the protection of harvested marine and terrestrial resources. Pirate fishing vessels from foreign ports are abundant in West African waters and illegally extract fish of the highest commercial value while, like many commercial fleets, dumping 70 to 90% of their haul as by-catch (9, 18). Increased policing of exclusive fishing zones and enforcement of existing quotas and tariffs for commercial fleets should reduce exploitation and provide an immediate boost to marine resources available to local fisheries (14, 19). On land, wildlife has persisted at near historic levels in inaccessible and well-protected areas of West Africa's nature reserves (4, 17). Increasing the size, number, and protection of wildlife reserves in the region may not offer a long-term solution to concerns over human livelihoods and protein supply, but it is likely to offer the most immediate prospects for slowing the region's catastrophic wildlife decline.

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Pick between them?
-is this a problem?

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(*4) identifiable below is the subspeciation of mankind inherent of increasing knowledge and technology -and also the 'dehumanization' attending that and inherent of 'free-enterprise, capitalist democracy and the right to make as much money as you can and spend it any way you choose' (read aristocracy :-) We should think about this: the more we overpopulate and subspeciate ('game-boy's and lobbyists, for example -et cetera), the less we are able to adapt to an inevitable attrition of both world population and the 'lifestyle-and-quality' of that population -and, of course, also to what we will have done to the resource/environment by then :-)

November 6, 2004 The Economist Magazine
Salad days

How 21st-century-style shopping means more 19th-century-style work

WHEN 19 Chinese immigrants drowned while picking cockles in Morecambe Bay in February, outrage was quickly followed by a new law. The Gangmasters Bill and a code of practice for gangmasters, launched in the House of Lords later this month, are both aimed at labour-providers, or gangmasters. The targets of the bill are those who operate outside the law, often using illegal immigrants, paying their workers little and the taxman less. But many politicians are also uncomfortable with the legal side of the business, which involves lots of immigrants working through the night, often for £4.85 ($9) an hour (the minimum wage), moving from workplace to workplace at a moment's notice, with no job security. They regard this sort of employment as belonging to the 19th century. But changes in consumer demand mean that it is flourishing in the 21st century.

Much of the prepared food sold in supermarkets is washed, chopped and bagged in pack-houses by workers supplied by specialist agencies (or gangmasters). Their business is booming. “There's much more work around now,” says Gary Norman of One Call, a medium-sized agency that places 400-600 workers in temporary jobs every day. One pack-house has just invited bids for 2.7m hours of temporary work, equivalent to over 1,000 full-time jobs. That's thanks to a combination of spoilt shoppers and snappy purchasing by supermarkets.

Before carrots were sold as batons and broccoli as florets, jobs in pack-houses were steadier. Most goods had longer shelf-lives, buyers for shops did not change their minds too often and the shops closed early. The work was stable enough that, in the mid-1980s, much of it was done by mothers who could be home by the time school finished. The first blow to this pattern came from Sunday opening and the fax machine. The second, final one is more recent.

Shoppers have brought about the change. They have given up cooking. Work that was once done by wives in kitchens is now done by workers in factories. Bagged salads, for instance, which consist of washed and chopped leaves, often with some rustic-looking croutons and a sachet of dressing, didn't

exist a few years ago. Now Tesco sells over £150m-worth ($275m) of them a year. Shoppers also want to buy at odd hours, making the convenience-store market (dominated by the big supermarkets) the fastest-growing bit of the groceries business, according to IGD, a food and groceries think-tank.

To meet these demands without holding excess stock, which is liable to rot, the supermarkets have made their supply chains shorter. Data from the check-out goes straight to buyers, who can tweak their orders, via an intermediary, throughout the day. ASDA, whose parent company, Wal-Mart, has perfected this art in America, is now moving its purchasing to an internet-based system that will speed things up further, by allowing buyers and sellers to deal directly.

The pack-houses and their workers have had to become leaner. Geest, one of the largest pack-houses, says its workers typically have six hours to turn round an order. And those orders are as changeable as the weather. A warm bank-holiday weekend normally brings a run on salad, to eat with some charred sausages. A cold patch means soup is in demand. The only way to manage the peaks and troughs is to hire temporary workers, who can be bussed in by gangmasters at short notice. Jennifer Frances of Cambridge University says she has seen workers who turned up in the morning, expecting to work all day, sent off to another job at midday when a supermarket cancelled an order.

The workforce has changed to cope with this hard, irregular work. Tony Davies of Provista, a labour-provider (whose workers even make pies for Harrods), says that a couple of years ago his workers were typically British nationals who drifted in and out of the labour market. They were superseded by refugees, who in turn have now been replaced. “It was amazing how fast they cottoned on to scams, to the point where they were not much more reliable than local people,” says Mr Davies. Now Provista goes to eastern Europe every month and recruits workers from there.

MPs may not like these developments, but the gangmasters' business has survived both opprobrium and regulation before. An Agricultural Gangs Act was passed in 1867, prompted by concerns for the morals of women working alongside men in the fields. Reports circulated of them hitching up their skirts to pee, and shouting obscenities across the rows of turnips. At least the Poles and Czechs are better behaved.

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November 2004 Smithsonian Magazine
[sidebar excerpted from]
America's First Immigrants
by Evan Hadingham

Hunted to Extinction?
At the end of the last ice age, 35 genera of big animals, or "megafauna," went extinct in the Americas, including mammoths, mastodons, giant ground sloths, giant beavers, horses, short-faced bears and saber-toothed cats. Archaeologists have argued for decades that the arrival of hunters wielding Clovis spear points at around the same time was no coincidence. Clovis hunters pursued big game -their signature stone points are found with the bones of mammoths and mastodons at 14 kill sites in North America. Experiments carried out with replica spears thrust into the corpses of circus elephants indicate that the Clovis point could have penetrated a mammoth's hide. And computer simulations suggest that large, slow-breeding animals could have easily been wiped out by hunting as the human population expanded.

But humans might not be entirely to blame. The rapidly cycling climate at the end of the ice age may have changed the distribution of plants that the big herbivores grazed on, leading to a population crash among meat-eating predators too. New research on DNA fragments recovered from ice age bison bones suggests that some species were suffering a slow decline in diversity -probably caused by dwindling populations-long before any

Saber-toothed a cats prowled North America for millions of years. For some reason, they died out about 13.000 years ago.

Clovis hunters showed up. Indigenous horses are now thought to have died out in Alaska about 500 years before the Clovis era. For mammoths and other beasts who did meet their demise during the Clovis times, many experts believe that a combination of factors -climate change plus pressure from human hunters- drove them into oblivion.

Amid all the debate, one point is clear: the Clovis hunter wasn't as macho as people once thought. Bones at the Gault site in central Texas reveal that the hunters there were feeding on less daunting prey -frogs, birds, turtles and antelope- as well as mammoth, mastodon and bison. As the late, renowned archaeologist Richard (Scotty) MacNeish is said to have remarked, "Each Clovis generation probably killed one mammoth, then spent the rest of their lives talking about it."

October 29 Science Magazine
Vulnerable Vultures

Over the past decade, the populations of Gyps vulture species across the Indian subcontinent have crashed, in many areas by more than 95%. The dramatic decline and potential extinction of vultures have serious implications for a human-dominated ecosystem in which scavengers (rather than predators) play such an important role, with heightened risk of disease from decaying unconsumed carcasses and from proliferating four- footed scavengers -- dogs, cats, and rats. At first mysterious, the likely cause of the vulture decline in Pakistan was recently pinpointed as the widely-used veterinary anti-inflammatory drug diclofenac administered to cattle: Vultures fed on

carcasses of diclofenac-treated cattle develop fatal kidney failure.

Green et al. now show that diclofenac is the probable cause of Gyps decline across the entire subcontinent. A simulation model of vulture demography provides a quantitative range of estimates of the proportion of cattle that would need to be treated with diclofenac in order to produce the observed levels of vulture decline. Fewer than 1% of cattle would be sufficient to produce the catastrophic declines observed. To stave off the possible imminent extinction of Gyps species, an urgent search for alternatives to diclofenac is required. Captive breeding programs may also be necessary to maintain stocks of vultures for eventual reintroduction -- AMS J. Appl. Ecol. 41, 793 (2004).

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(*5) mankind, even 'scientific', is NOT prepared for even small ecological crashes -not to mention their ripples downstream which we cannot possibly hope to understand.

November 4, 2004 Los Angeles Times
Antarctic Food Chain in Peril, Study Finds
Krill have declined by 80% since 1976, researchers say. The tiny crustaceans are vital for whales and other sea life.
By Usha Lee McFarling, Times Staff Writer

Krill — the heart of the rich Antarctic food chain that nourishes whales, seals and penguins — have declined by more than 80% in the last 25 years in key ocean regions, according to a new study that links the loss to warming temperatures.
   The new research, published in today's issue of the journal Nature, is the first comprehensive attempt to estimate numbers of the small, shrimp-like creatures that once were so abundant that their swarms colored vast patches of the southern oceans blood red.
   Now, krill have largely been replaced by salp, clear, gelatinous invertebrates that provide so little nutrition to predators that they are considered ecological dead-ends, said Angus Atkinson, a marine biologist with the British Antarctic Survey who led the study.
   Such a steep decline in krill could decimate the region's abundant wildlife, ecologists said.
   The finding may signal that a shift is underway in one of the world's most productive and pristine ecosystems.
   "We're just holding our breath to see what the consequences are," said William Fraser, an Antarctic researcher who was not involved in the current study.
   Antarctic krill are thumb-sized crustaceans that feast on drifting phytoplankton and in turn provide food for myriad Antarctic denizens, including the blue whale — the largest animal on the planet.
   Atkinson and his colleagues pooled data from nine nations that collected krill in Antarctic waters.
   Because krill are a "boom-and-bust" species that varies dramatically in number from year to year, the group looked for long-term patterns.
   The international team found krill numbers had decreased by more than 80% since 1976 in the southwest Atlantic near the Antarctic Peninsula, a hugely productive marine area thought to be a krill spawning ground and home to about half of the region's adult krill.
   The area has warmed in the last 50 years by 4.5 degrees Fahrenheit, nearly five times the global average, the researchers said.
   Some scientists link the warming to natural climate cycles; others say that the production of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, plays a role as well.

   The result is a diminished ice cover in some parts of the waters surrounding Antarctica. Krill larvae require sea ice to survive the winter. Young krill eat algae that grows in cracks on the underside of the ice and hide in the cracks to evade predators.
   Without sea ice, the larvae starve, said Fraser, who has studied Antarctic penguins for three decades and now heads the nonprofit Polar Oceans Research Group in Sheridan, Mont. "Sea ice is the heartbeat of Antarctica."
   The Antarctic Peninsula is thought to have seen heavy ice years more often in the past. More recently, these "good" ice years have occurred only about once every five years. Since krill live six to seven years, they can still get in one good reproductive year even if ice is sporadic.
   Fraser said if good ice years occurred too far apart, the krill would not be able to successfully reproduce.
   "What you would see then is a literal collapse of the food web," he said. "All the predators would suffer some pretty drastic declines."
   He pointed to the Adelie penguins, which eat only krill during the summer months. Their numbers in the Antarctic Peninsula have declined by 70% since 1974.
   A loss of krill also could restrict the rebounding of whale populations, which are still recovering from extensive hunting that pushed them close to extinction.
   Some scientists, however, are skeptical of the study's conclusions.
   Krill expert Steve Nicol of the Australian Antarctic Division questioned whether Antarctic krill, with a biomass once estimated at more than 1 billion tons, were really down by such enormous numbers.
   "Could we really have lost 900 million tons of krill without anyone noticing? I don't think so," he said. "You would expect to see most of the predators in decline, and that doesn't appear to be happening."
   He said the krill could be greatly underestimated because of the difficulty in tracking the creatures as they migrate and are tossed about through the vast seas. The krill may have moved deeper because of changes in ocean circulation or because ultraviolet light is now blasting surface waters under the Antarctic ozone hole, he said.
   It is also possible that the rebounding populations of whales are gobbling krill at higher rates, and the loss of sea ice may not be to blame.
   "Something's happened," Nicol said in a telephone interview from Tasmania.
   "We're just not quite sure what."

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sub-speciation here, the subject continuing below-

October 30, 2004 The Economist Magazine
Human evolution
Meet cousin Florence Oct 28th 2004

A new and diminutive species of human being has been discovered

IN THE 1890s, Eugene Dubois, an anatomist working as a doctor in the Dutch army, stunned the scientific world when he found the first fossil human remains outside Europe. Java Man—Homo erectus, as it is now known—threw ideas about human evolution into chaos by suggesting that Europe was not, as most anthropologists had hitherto assumed, the cradle of human evolution.

As it turned out, neither was Asia. The evidence now shows that all the important developments in human evolutionary history, from the appearance of Australopithecus (the first species generally regarded as human) to the emergence of Homo sapiens (you and me), happened in Africa. But Asia can still spring the odd surprise in the field. And few finds have been as surprising as that made last year on Java's Indonesian neighbour, Flores, and announced this week in Nature. For Homo floresiensis, as the new species has been dubbed, suggests that the ascent of man is not an evolutionary inevitability. Descent is also possible. That is because Homo floresiensis (whose skull is pictured above, alongside that of a modern human) was but a metre tall, and had a brain not much bigger than an ape's.

In a truly ancient fossil human from, say, 3m-4m years ago, those dimensions would not be surprising. But the skeleton found by Peter Brown, of the University of New England, in Armidale, Australia, and his colleagues from the Indonesian Centre for Archaeology in Jakarta, is a mere 18,000 years old. That means it was alive at a time when Homo sapiens had not only come into existence, but had already reached Australia.

A little puzzle
The species is not, however, a descendant of Homo sapiens. A tooth from a lower soil layer in the cave where the main skeleton was found shows it evolved before modern humans arrived in the area. It was thus one of several species of humanity, such as Neanderthal Man, that were pushed aside by the rise of Homo sapiens.

That, in turn, suggests it was descended from Dubois's Homo erectus. But Homo erectus was as big as Homo sapiens—in some cases bigger. And if erectus was not in quite the same intellectual league as modern man, it was certainly no dunce. Its brain could be as big as 1,250cm3 (compared with 1,400cm3 for a modern human). That of Homo floresiensis, by contrast, was a mere 380cm3. Dr Brown knows this because he measured the volume by the delightfully low-tech technique of pouring mustard seeds into the fossil's cranium after he had cleaned the interior.

Nor is there any doubt that the skeleton is that of an adult (probably, from the pelvic anatomy, a woman). Her teeth are worn, and some telltale bones in the skull are knitted together in an adult way. On top of that, although they are not described in the paper, Dr Brown's team has now found five more specimens which confirm that she was not an abnormally small member of her species.

Of course, a small animal will have a small brain. But what is noticeable about Homo floresiensis is how small the brain is, even in comparison to the diminutive body. The species had regressed, more or less, to the brain/body ratio found in Australopithecus. The question is why. And the answer to that question may shed light on the wider question of how human intelligence arose in the first place.

Islands are famous for generating indigenous species from whatever biological material pitches up on them. One frequent trend observed in such island species, at least when they are large mammals, is dwarfism. Elephants seem particularly susceptible. The last mammoths, which lived on an island off the coast of Siberia, were, paradoxically, dwarfs. Similar elephantine examples are known from Malta, Sicily and, indeed, Flores itself. And the same thing has been observed in cattle, too. There seems no reason why it should not happen to hominids.

Two evolutionary pressures are thought to drive this process of diminution. One is that islands are often free of large predators (on Flores, the largest were Komodo dragons, a species of large lizard). The other is that they sometimes have a restricted food supply. The result is that you do not need to be big to defend yourself; and if you are big, you may starve.

Both of those facts might drive the evolution of smaller brains, too. Brains are expensive in terms of energy consumed, and thus food needed. And an absence of predators would remove at least one reason to have a large brain. In other words, use it or lose it.

Why human intelligence evolved in the first place, though, is controversial. Many researchers feel that it was not so much to deal with the non-human world (eg, predators and food-gathering) as to deal with other people. One theory, known as the “Machiavellian mind”, is that intelligence is there to analyse, and thus manipulate, the motives of others. Another, known as the “mating mind”, is that much of human intelligence is about showing off to the opposite sex, in a behavioural equivalent of the peacock's tail. Both could be true. Whether either of these purposes would disappear on an island is moot.

All this is speculation, of course. And human fossils are so rare that there is a risk of over-interpreting each new find. What would help is evidence of Homo floresiensis's culture, if any.

One possible remnant of that culture is the numerous stone tools in the cave where the skeleton was found. These are small and delicate, which suggests they might have been made and wielded by tiny hands. Nor do they bear much resemblance to the tools of Homo erectus. But they do date from a period when the island could have been inhabited by Homo sapiens. So who made them is unclear. In any case, tool-making is not an exclusive badge of intellectual advancement. Australopithecus used stone tools, and modern chimpanzees make and use tools, too (though admittedly not stone ones). If tools were useful to Homo floresiensis on its island home, natural selection would have retained the ability to make and use them even if other mental faculties dwindled.

Regardless of how these questions are settled, what is clear is that Dr Brown's find has changed thinking about the way humanity has evolved. If Homo floresiensis was flourishing 18,000 years ago, the chances are it did not die out until much more recently. Indeed, it is conceivable that it lasted into historical times. Much of Homo sapiens's vision of itself is built around the idea of human uniqueness. That it was not unique until so recently should give pause for thought—and will no doubt spur others to follow Dubois's lead and look for further species of fossil human in previously unexplored places.

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whether we appreciate it or not, game-boys, cell phones and any number of other modern devices actually work to 'sub-speciate' us both intellectually and operationally, and unless we are aware of it and 'intelligently counteract' it, that sub-speciation actually works to profoundly cripple our ability to face 'unanticipatable eventualities' -the consequences of a krill die-off for example :-)

October 30, 2004 The Economist Magazine
Brain scanning
No hiding place

Studies using functional brain-imaging take on sophisticated topics

FEW recent innovations have transformed a field of research as much as functional magnetic-resonance imaging (fMRI). The technique has revolutionised the study of the human brain. By making visible the invisible (the activity of different bits of the living brain on a second-by-second basis), it has revolutionised the study of that organ. But what started out as a medical instrument is now used routinely to probe complex questions about behaviour and motivation. That was the lesson of two studies presented to a meeting of the Society for Neuroscience, held in San Diego earlier this week.

In one of the studies, Jonathan Cohen, of Princeton University, and his colleagues tried to explain an anomaly that has been nagging economists for decades. If humans were fully rational (at least, rational in the way that economists define the word), they would attach the same monetary value to a week's delay in receiving a payment, regardless of when that week began. So, if someone is offered $10 at the beginning of any given week, or $11 at the end of it, he should make the same choice, whether that week starts now or a year from now. But that turns out not to be how most people judge it. In most cases, they will take the $10 today but the $11 in a year and a week.

Dr Cohen reasoned that this inconsistency might reflect the influence of different neural systems in the brain. To test this, he recruited 14 students, the traditional workhorses in such studies. While lying in his brain scanner, the students were offered the choice of receiving an gift certificate worth somewhere between $5 and $40 immediately, or getting one worth 1% to 50% more in a couple of weeks' time.

When a participant chose the earlier reward, there was an increase in the activity of his limbic system. This is a region of the brain that is involved

in emotion. In contrast, when the choice was to delay gratification in exchange for a bigger reward, brain activity was concentrated in the “thinking” regions, such as the prefrontal cortex. The inconsistency therefore seems to be the result of different sorts of calculation happening in the two cases.

Of course, that does not answer the ultimate question of why evolution has equipped the brain this way. Dr Cohen speculates that it may have something to do with survival when the arrival of resources is scarce and unpredictable, rather than the subject of contracts and an efficient banking system. But it does shine a new light on issues such as drug addiction and procrastination, which are both situations where the temptation of immediate reward can lead to choices that might ultimately be detrimental.

While Dr Cohen's group wrestles with how people make choices, Klaus Mathiak, of the University of Tübingen, in Germany, and his colleagues, are using fMRI to study the effects which certain sorts of choice have on brain activity. Specifically, the team is looking at what goes on in the heads of dedicated video-games players during violent “social interactions” within a game.

Dr Mathiak enlisted 13 gamers who played video games for, on average, 20 hours a week. While the gamers stalked and shot the enemy from the relative discomfort of a scanner's interior, the researchers recorded events in their brains.

As a player approached a violent encounter, part of his brain called the anterior cingulate cortex became active. This area is associated with aggression in less fictional scenarios, and also with the subsequent suppression of more positive emotions, such as empathy. Dr Mathiak noted that the responses in his gamers were thus strikingly similar to the neural correlates of real aggression. As he puts it, “Contrary to what the industry says, it appears to be more than just a game.”

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(*6) this review of books is interesting for how (i think :-) it completely avoids the substance (validity) of 'economic growth' (click-on provided)

October 30, 2004 The Economist Magazine
The changed nature of work
Pushing a different sort of button

How jobs, in the rich world, have become less boring (though there's still plenty to whinge about)

WORK, says a guru quoted in one of these books, is our “negotiation with death”. That's putting it a bit strong, but work is clearly something that lots of people love to hate. Yet, in the rich world, work has changed dramatically in the past two or three decades, in ways that have got rid of some of its more disagreeable sides, and made what is left more interesting.

The key changes have been the fading of routine manual work and the rise of jobs that make use of networked computers. Many of the more tedious jobs that most people did a century ago—factory work, farm labouring, mining—are almost gone. Robots, not human beings, now mainly man the production line, which symbolised the more oppressive aspects of the machine age.

Instead, as Frank Levy and Richard Murnane point out, jobs have bifurcated: there has been some growth in the simpler service jobs—flipping hamburgers and cleaning offices, say—but a much greater growth of sophisticated work in management, teaching, medicine, engineering and the law. Many of the jobs that have gone were routine clerical tasks, which have been either taken over by computers or outsourced abroad—or both. The networked computer allows such tasks to be structured in a way so they can be done by folk far away from the final customer.

The jobs that remain, say the two economists, are often ones that require complex communication, conveying an interpretation of information rather than just the facts, and making difficult judgments in unpredictable circumstances. Computers, which can cope with simple rule-based jobs, find it far harder to diagnose a sick patient or design a new aircraft. But, by taking over the simple part of many jobs, they improve the productivity of skilled human beings doing complicated things.

Countries must therefore educate their citizens in ways that fit them for such complexities. The trend in pay points the same way: in 1979, a 30-year-old man with a bachelor's degree averaged 17% more than one with a high-school diploma; today, the gap is 50%.

Networked communications are changing the organisations that people work in too. Thomas Malone, an organisational theorist, describes the way that they allow “dramatically more decentralised ways of organising work [to] become at once possible and desirable”. He is impressed by the way Nike outsources all its manufacturing to other companies; and by the example of eBay, from whose auctions perhaps 150,000 people make a living. Both are instances of the new sort of shapes that organisational life may take. He also argues for the emergence of internal markets and of “democracies”—in which decisions are based on the collective wisdom of the many rather than the top-down instructions of a few.

Companies where employees are given more control over their working conditions seem to generate better returns than those that give their people less responsibility. One of the great benefits of information technology in the workplace, says Mr Malone, is to allow workers to make more choices. That in turn will call for different managerial techniques: not so much command-and-control as “co-ordinate-and-cultivate”. Managers must learn to run loose hierarchies in which much of the decision-making power is pushed down the organisation. If they set clear standards and guidelines, then teams of people can undertake a task without centralised control.

Complex communications and loose hierarchies sound much more fun than life on the traditional production line. Russell Muirhead, searching for a new ethic of work, often seems to assume that work is inherently disagreeable and tedious. He wants it to be fulfilling—but not too fulfilling, lest it take over people's lives and squeeze out other interests. He concludes that “the dignity of work comes from the way we show, through it, a determination to endure what is difficult for the sake of discharging our responsibilities and contributing to society.” But that surely is too bleak a view. People work for money, for company and for some sense of achievement.

Indeed, even in a badly run organisation, work can have a certain melancholy pleasure. Take the blistering portrait of life in a big British retail bank (NatWest, now part of the Royal Bank of Scotland, pseudonymously appearing as British Armstrong) by John Weeks, an American professor of organisational behaviour. He found that the bank's staff always described its corporate culture negatively. It was said to be too bureaucratic, too rules-driven, too introverted, too centralised.

He describes various ways used to grouse without appearing too obvious, such as “deniable deprecations”, used to complain about everything from the coffee to career advancement. But the moaning was a ritual. Complaining brought no gains, but, if done in a socially acceptable way, created cohesion among groups of staff. In that respect, networked computers have changed nothing—apart from giving badly managed workers something new to whinge about.

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it took me several days to decide whether or not to post the article below from the los angeles times. simply stated, it is my argument that the 'character' of the article principal, peter chernin, embodies some of the most pernicious 'civilizational disposition' kernel of 'American free-enterprise, capitalist democracy and the right to make as much money as you can and spend it any way you choose'. i may be reading too much into the article, and not many may agree with me, but there it is.


October 25, 2004 Los Angeles Times
Eisner With Charm?
Insiders see News Corp.'s Peter Chernin as an improved version of the man he could replace

By Sallie Hofmeister, Times Staff Writer

He's the rare Hollywood executive who's as comfortable with a balance sheet as giving notes on a script. Private, even shy, he confides mainly in one person — his wife. He can appear ruthless, showing little emotion when firing a friend.
   If you guessed Michael Eisner, guess again. But you wouldn't be the first to spot a resemblance between Walt Disney Co.'s top executive and Peter Chernin, the president of News Corp.
   "Peter has that rare quality of having both left-brain and right-brain strength," said Jeff Shell, who has worked at both Disney and News Corp. and is now chief executive of Gemstar-TV Guide International Inc. "One of the only other people I've met like that is Michael Eisner."
   As the Disney board searches for a new CEO — a process it plans to complete by June — Chernin's name is high on the short list of contenders. Though the 53-year-old executive embodies some of Eisner's best qualities, he is free of other traits that have made the Disney chief vulnerable to criticism.

   Eisner can be cold, thin-skinned and autocratic. He's been accused of chasing off some of Disney's best executives.
   Chernin, on the other hand, is so disarmingly charming that even some people he's ousted don't hold a grudge. Not for nothing have some within News Corp. called him the "smiling cobra."
   In July, when Chernin signed up for five more years at News Corp., Wall Street analysts predicted he was staying put. With an annual compensation package of at least $20 million, Chernin could pull down more than his strong-willed boss, News Corp. Chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch. Eisner made only $7.25 million last year.
   Still, people close to Chernin say he'd jump at the chance to step out of Murdoch's shadow and into Eisner's shoes, even if it meant a pay cut.
   At News Corp., Chernin has hit a ceiling. The 73-year-old Murdoch is grooming his children, now in their 30s, to take the helm of the family-controlled company. Knowing this, Chernin made sure he could accept a better offer if it came along: His employment contract lacks the standard non-compete clause that would prevent him from jumping to a rival.
   Both Chernin and Murdoch declined to comment for this article.
   Many Hollywood insiders say Chernin is just what Disney needs: creative, cool in a crisis and inspirational. After 15 years at the fastest-growing and most daring of the major media conglomerates, he also has the know-how to invigorate Disney.
   "Peter is a great listener; he gives guidance, but he lets people do their job," said Tom Sherak, who worked under Chernin at News Corp.'s 20th Century Fox Film Corp. before becoming a partner at Revolution Studios.
   Though News Corp. owns major media properties around the world, Chernin's primary role is to oversee Fox Entertainment Group, the publicly traded U.S. subsidiary of Murdoch's Australian-born company. It includes 20th Century Fox, the Fox broadcast network, a leading TV station group, a TV production arm and cable channels such as FX, Fox Sports Networks and Fox News Channel.
   Since Chernin became News Corp.'s president and chief operating officer in 1996, his group's revenue has doubled. Its profit has soared. Chernin has helped Fox become a major producer of prime-time television, a consistent winner at the box office and a big beneficiary of the DVD boom.
   But some question whether, based on his track record at News Corp., he has the vision to lead Disney in two of its cornerstone operations: theme parks and animation.
   News Corp. made an ill-fated venture into theme parks, opening Backlot in 1999 at its Fox Studios in Australia. The park, designed to showcase the company's movie-making prowess, closed in 2001 because of poor attendance.
   As for animation, film industry sources say Chernin was so nervous about the company's continuing financial losses that he considered getting out of the business altogether. In fact, he tried to find a studio partner to shoulder the risk for the 2002 computer-animated comedy "Ice Age," which cost an estimated $60 million.
Fortunately, he couldn't find one. The film was such a huge hit that Chernin reversed course and bought Blue Sky, the movie's animation production house. Blue Sky's next offering is "Robots," due out in March.
   Throughout his career, Chernin has kept his own counsel, with few close friends in the industry. His confidante is his wife, Megan, who once worked as a lawyer in the Los Angeles district attorney's office; they have three children.
   His professional loyalty is similarly focused. As he likes to tell subordinates, "I have a constituency of one" — referring to Murdoch, whose distaste for the rituals of Hollywood is legendary.
   Fox executives say no one has played Murdoch as masterfully as Chernin. In a heated rivalry to be Murdoch's second-in-command in the mid-'90s, Chernin edged out Chase Carey, a deal maker and strategist who left Fox in 2002 and is now chairman of News Corp.'s satellite company, DirecTV Group Inc. As usual, Chernin's ambition was masked by a veneer of elegant self-deprecation.
   The staunchly Republican Murdoch has even found a use for Chernin's status as a lifelong Democrat. When he needs support from Democrats on Capitol Hill, Murdoch dispatches Chernin, who donated $25,000 in June to the Democratic National Committee.
   "You've got to hand it to Peter," said one former Fox executive, who requested anonymity. "Fox is a culture where everybody's dispensable. Rupert is quirky and eccentric. But who has lasted as long as Peter outside of Rupert's Australian cronies?"
   Many attribute Chernin's ability to navigate Murdoch's shifting creative impulses to his stable upbringing.
   He comes from a family of number crunchers — his father, brother and sister are all accountants.
   Growing up in the suburbs north of New York City, he was a nerdy high schooler — the kind who hung around the audiovisual department. When he came west to UC Berkeley, he majored in English literature.
   After graduating in 1974, Chernin worked as a book publicist for St. Martin's Press. He was recruited to Hollywood by David Gerber Productions Inc., where he produced hundreds of hours of television, including sitcoms and miniseries. Moving to Showtime as head of programming, Chernin created one of cable's first original programs, the critically acclaimed "It's Garry Shandling's Show."
   Later, as president of Lorimar Film Entertainment, he tried his hand at movies. One of his projects was the racy period drama "Dangerous Liaisons."
   With his star on the rise, he was hired in 1989 by the demanding Barry Diller, who was Murdoch's entertainment chief at News Corp. Chernin was named president of prime time at the fledgling Fox network, which back then was airing shows only two nights a week. Chernin lured young viewers with edgy programs that included "The Simpsons," "In Living Color" and "Beverly Hills 90210."
   Chernin learned well from Diller, a confrontational leader known for his bullying style. "Peter took the best stuff from Barry," said television producer Sandy Grushow, who worked for Fox at the time. "He became more contrarian; he learned to challenge people's thinking."
   Chernin caught Murdoch's eye just weeks after he was hired by Diller.
   "It was like love at first sight," said former Fox executive Greg Nathanson, a Murdoch confidant. Nathanson said that at a Fox management retreat in Santa Barbara, Murdoch was so intrigued by the new recruit that he bummed a ride back with him to Los Angeles.
   In 1992, Murdoch promoted the up-and-coming executive to head the film studio, where he went on to green-light "Independence Day," "Mrs. Doubtfire" and "Speed." He rolled the dice with the expensive "Titanic," the highest-grossing movie ever. Chernin also launched Fox Searchlight, the company's art-house division, which corralled upstart talents with lower- budget films such as "The Full Monty."
   The key to Chernin's success in more recent years, many agree, has been his dedication to executing Murdoch's vision — even when it has meant pushing out executives he supports and likes.
   People close to Chernin say that one of the toughest periods in his career was when he repeatedly had to fend off Murdoch to protect then-studio chief Bill Mechanic. Chernin had hired him from Disney, and the two men were close.
   But Murdoch disliked Mechanic and the movies he made. He thought "Fight Club," for example, was sordid. After the animated "Titan A.E." tanked, Chernin felt compelled to force out Mechanic.
   "Bill had been his partner for 5 1/2 years," said one executive familiar with Mechanic's ouster, "but Peter didn't want the argument with Murdoch anymore."
   Mechanic declined to comment.
   Some insiders say Chernin's instincts for self-preservation have limited his ability to manage News Corp. He leaves many division heads to their own devices, unwilling to "stir up a hornet's nest with people who have a direct pipeline to Murdoch," one former executive said.
   Among those whom Chernin gives a long leash: Mitch Stern, who formerly ran the TV station group and is now president of DirecTV, and Fox News chief Roger Ailes.
   Some News Corp. insiders also caution that Chernin shares Eisner's penchant for immersing himself in the creative process. Former Fox executives say that Chernin's insistence on screening TV pilots sometimes created a bottleneck.
   "In staff meetings, Chernin was like a cat with a ball of yarn, picking, picking, picking," said an ex-colleague. "He could unravel things late in the process."
   In the search for Disney's next leader, Chernin's is not the only name on the table. Terry Semel, the former Warner Bros. chief who has turned Yahoo Inc. into an Internet powerhouse, also is considered a strong candidate, if he could be persuaded to leave. And Eisner has endorsed Disney President Robert Iger for the job.
   Yet Chernin supporters say that given the revolt in March by Disney shareholders unhappy with Eisner's management and the company's long-term performance, Chernin may be just what they're looking for: an Eisner-like outsider who could offer a fresh start.
   "He stands his ground and certainly has an ego," said Grushow, who oversaw the Fox television network and its production arm before resigning this year. "But he's able to subjugate it, as his years working for Murdoch demonstrate."

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22 October 2004 Science Magazine
Male Sweep of New Award Raises Questions of Bias

Jeffrey Mervis

Where are the women? That's what some scientists are asking after the National Institutes of Health (NIH) picked nine men to receive the inaugural Director's Pioneer Award for innovative research (Science, 8 October, p. 220).

The 5-year, $500,000-a-year awards are part of NIH's "roadmap" for increasing the payoff from the agency's $28 billion budget, and Director Elias Zerhouni has compared the winners to famed U.S. explorers Merriweather Lewis and William Clark for their willingness "to explore uncharted territory." Within hours of the 29 September announcement, however, some researchers had begun to bristle at the gender imbalance in that first class of biomedical pioneers.

"It sends a message to women researchers that they are not on an even playing field," wrote Elizabeth Ivey, president of the Association for Women in Science, in a 1 October letter to Zerhouni. "I hope that you [will] make an effort to correct such a perception." The American Society for Cell Biology, in a 15 October letter to Zerhouni, commended him for creating the prize but lamented its "demoralizing effect" on the community. Critics noted that men constituted 94% (60 of 64) of the reviewers tapped to help winnow down some 1300 applications for the award and seven of the eight outside scientists on the final review panel, which grilled applicants for an hour before settling on the winners.

NIH officials estimate that women made up about 20% of the Pioneer applicants. But only about 13% of the 240 who made it through the first cut were women, and only two of the 21 finalists. (In contrast, about 25% of the applicants for NIH's bread-and-butter R01 awards to individual investigators are women, and their success rate is within a percentage point of that of their male counterparts.) "With any elite award, there are so many deserving candidates that it's easy to choose only men," says Stanford University neuroscientist Ben Barres, who says he was "outraged" by the gender imbalance. "I actually think it's more a matter of neglect than of sexism."

The gender of the final applicants did not come up during the discussion, says review panel member Judith Swain, professor of medicine at Stanford. Swain, who called the exercise "the most interesting review panel I've ever been involved in," says she saw no evidence of "active discrimination." But she concurs that the demographics of the reviewers and the winners lead to "a disturbing observation."

Men at work. Nine men won the first NIH Director's Pioneer Awards, chosen by panels that included few women.

NIH officials are struggling to find the best way to respond to the charges of gender insensitivity. Stephen Straus, head of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine and team leader for the NIH-wide competition, told Science on the day of the awards that "we gave the gender issue a great deal of thought, but none of the women finalists came close to making the pay line." A week later, in the first of a series of e-mail exchanges with Barres, Straus remarked that the absence of women was "noted with some surprise" by senior NIH officials and that "we know we can do better" in subsequent rounds. In a later exchange, however, Straus wrote, "I don't believe that NIH can credibly discard its two-level peer review system when nine grants out of the many thousands awarded this year turn out differently than some might wish."

NIH is evaluating how it ran the Pioneer program--including how the award was publicized and the demographics of the applicants--before launching the next competition in January. A thorough review is essential, says Arthur Kleinman, a medical anthropologist at Harvard University and chair of the final review panel, who believes NIH needs to do more to reach several groups--minorities and social and behavioral scientists as well as women--not represented in the first batch of winners. "I agree that they need to be more sensitive to diversity," he says. "But at the same time, I think Zerhouni deserves a lot of credit for even trying something like this."

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(*7) this is (i think) an especially interesting article in that it presents another facet of 'the human condition' (it never ends :-) -what a brilliant idea! -importing American wolves to interbreed with German Shephards so as to keep Apartheid Blacks 'better in line'! -the aftermath here.

October 17, 2004 Los Angeles Times
Sanctuary for the Wolf Orphans of Apartheid

The animals were imported for use as guard dogs but proved untamable. Now a lone facility struggles to care for the castoffs.
By Robyn Dixon, Times Staff Writer

STORMS RIVER, South Africa — It is tough being an alpha wolf — the pack leader — as Michael McDonald knows too well. It means deciding when they eat, where they live and, sometimes, which ones have to die.

When he is near, the packs at Tsitsikamma Wolf Sanctuary, near the southern coast, jump up and start circling. They know he's the top wolf, but, he says, "I irritate them. I have to take all the harsh decisions. I am always the enemy."
   In the apartheid era, scientists at Roodeplaat Breeding Enterprises imported the animals from North America in an attempt to create an attack dog that would have a wolf's stamina and sense of smell to track down insurgents in the harsh border regions. The secretive experiment failed because the wolf hybrids were stubborn and hard to train.
   Today, these orphans of apartheid face a troubled future in a land where they will never be at home.
   In crime-ridden South Africa, many people believe that no dog is a better deterrent than a hybrid or pure wolf. There's a cachet in owning one, and a brisk trade in wolf dogs advertised in newspapers and on the Internet.

   "A lot of people are trying to get rich on these animals," said Colleen O'Carroll, the founder and director of the wolf sanctuary, who disputes breeders' claims that wolves and hybrids make good family pets. She said people were using an endangered species "to create something even more misunderstood than the original."
   People who buy pure wolves seeking savage guard dogs are often surprised to find that they make terrible watchdogs.
   "You have a supposedly ferocious wolf. But when a burglar comes, do you think it will attack? It will hide behind you, because you are the alpha in the pack. If someone rings the doorbell, they go and hide," O'Carroll said.
   Breeders of wolf dogs, as the hybrids are known, publish glowing testimonials from happy clients.
   But the wolf sanctuary gets hundreds of calls from wolf or wolf hybrid owners complaining about the odd behaviors of their pets: reducing the yard to a moonscape of holes, digging cavernous dens under the garage, chewing things to pieces, climbing fences and howling to the moon. One man shot his wolf dog after it ate his chickens. A woman telephoned in tears after her wolf hybrid ate her most valuable thoroughbred foal.
   "You can't impose your will on it, because it's half wild animal. You can't expect it to act like a dog," O'Carroll said. "People buy them as a status symbol. It's like saying, 'I've got a Bengal tiger.' It's like a man buying a Porsche as opposed to a VW."
   It's not clear how many wolves remain in South Africa, or how the original wolves survived after the projects were abandoned.
   But the Tsitsikamma sanctuary cares for 35 wolves, has 23 on its waiting list and is expecting to take in a new litter of pure wolf pups next month from someone connected with one of the original breeding programs. The sanctuary estimates that there are about 200 pure wolves in South Africa and tens of thousands of hybrids.
   O'Carroll opened the sanctuary in 2000 after tracing wolves left over from various state breeding projects. It accepts only pure wolves.
   "I get asked every day, 'Why don't you just put the things down? They don't belong here,' " said O'Carroll, a sentimentalist with a core of steel.
   She is the patron of a lost cause. Ask her or McDonald about the future of the wolves at Tsitsikamma, and both look sadly into the distance: "No future," they murmur.
   "It's a very sad story," O'Carroll said. "There's nothing we can do with them. We can't send them back to North America. They're animals in exile."
   Rescuing the wolves is an undertaking ruinous to one's bank balance: Conservation organizations and sponsors are not interested in helping to save animals in places where they don't belong, so the sanctuary survives on private donations.
   O'Carroll emptied her bank account and sold off four apartments to keep the sanctuary going. It was built by hand: They couldn't afford power tools.
   "I have to have a screw loose somewhere," she said. "But I have a passion for them."
   She forgets the financial stress when she sits near her favorite enclosures in the evenings, watching her beloved wolves playing, swimming and racing around. At night, when the wolves howl, raising their eerie, beautiful music to the stars, nothing else matters.
   McDonald, 42, used to work "in security" but won't be more specific. Now he cares for the wolves — with no salary or even a pension — often surviving on the same meat the wolves eat: unwanted cow and calf carcasses donated by dairy farmers. He has few belongings and no money for clothes or even a luxury as modest as a cookie. He once had to pawn a watch to pay for the sanctuary's gasoline, and other times walked to collect dead cows with a wheelbarrow.
   "It's a seriously hard life," he said.
   Ask him why he does it and he sidesteps the question with a flurry of self-deprecating banter: "There was no one else to do it." But he feels the wolves are his destiny, even if they don't always appreciate him.
   The wolves, always ready to challenge the alpha, sometimes bite McDonald. But the day a female named Cleo nipped him on the rump, he felt a strange elation.
   "It meant she had accepted me," he said. "We were equals."
   Many of the sanctuary's wolves are former pets. Cleo, from a family in Durban, tore her former owner's fiberglass boat to pieces, ripped the drainpipes off his house and howled every night before her family — in her eyes, her pack — gave up on her.
   Another owner handed over his pure wolf, Della — the only socialized wolf at the sanctuary — when it dawned on him what a complex, demanding animal she was and how much of his time she was going to need. Storm, one of the sanctuary's alpha males, was abandoned at the sanctuary.
   O'Carroll and wolf experts in the United States, such as the Wolf Park in Battle Ground, Ind., warn that wolf dogs should not be seen as family pets, and even those socialized to humans can attack children, especially if a child falls and cries. O'Carroll's motive, apart from rescuing the wolves, is to educate the public about wolves and hybrids.
   O'Carroll and McDonald feel they're on a mission, and when things get bad they keep each other going.
   "At times when I absolutely despair and I cry and I say, 'There's no money, how are we going to make the payments?' he says, 'Look, woman, the spirit always provides,' " O'Carroll said. "And sure enough, someone makes a donation or something happens.' "
   McDonald once led an ordinary materialistic life. He had good cars, a family, but now he does not want money or belongings. He wants only the wolves.
   "If the wolves weren't here, I wouldn't be here," he said. "The wolves have literally become my life. There's nowhere to go."

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October 16, 2004 Los Angeles Times
It's a Historic Drought

As waters around the country recede, the past is revisited at sites long submerged. By Lake Mead, an entire town has reappeared.
By Scott Gold, Times Staff Writer

OVERTON, Nev. — Early last year, fishermen searching for bass and bluegill on a northern finger of Lake Mead saw a curious cluster of concrete blocks jutting out of the water. It turned out to be the chimney of what had been, 65 years prior, an ice cream parlor.
   Within months, other ruins began to emerge from the lake: The steps of a nearby schoolhouse. The foundation of the old Gentry Hotel, where President Hoover once bunked for the night.
   Today, the water line of Lake Mead, once six miles to the northwest, is half a mile to the southeast. Now, there is a sun-soaked valley, along with the ruins of St. Thomas, a town that was, until very recently, under 64 feet of water.
   For nearly six years, a drought has afflicted much of the United States. Some regions haven't been as dry as they are today for 1,000 years or more, scientists say, and there have been terrible consequences: crop losses, falling electricity production at dams, savage wildfires.
   For historians, however, the drought has brought an intriguing diversion. Pieces of the past that had long been submerged, and often forgotten, are emerging again as lakes and rivers shrink.
   St. Thomas was formed in 1865 by Mormons who were dispatched to southern Nevada to plant cotton and push the reach of their church toward the West Coast.

THE SCHOOL: Nevada state archeologist Eva Jensen stands on the foundation of St. Thomas' Schoolhouse. "Its's just incredible how much has been exposed," sh says. The remains of about 40 building are now visible, the settler's craftsmanship evident in the tan concrete blocks they made out of silt from the Muddy and Virgin rivers.
   For a spell, the town was the epitome of the western frontier, a bleak outpost where devout religion clashed with liquor and miners, where dreams of a better life were shattered by debilitating heat and disease. In 1938, it was erased — flooded, intentionally, when the construction of Hoover Dam created Lake Mead.
   Eva Jensen, a Nevada Department of Cultural Affairs archeologist, stood in the middle of the town's ruins recently, shaking her head in dismay and wonder.
   "The circumstances of this are not good," she said. "But it is fascinating to watch it happen. It's just incredible how much has been exposed, and how fast it has happened."
   Historians and archeologists have reported similar discoveries across the West and the South, drawing widespread interest from outdoors enthusiasts, sightseers and students.
   Not far from St. Thomas, in a northern stretch of Lake Mead known as the Overton Arm, prehistoric salt mines have been exposed. Near Roosevelt, Ariz., in an area that was flooded a century ago to build a reservoir, relics left behind by Salado Indians, including ornate jars and pots believed to explain religious parables, have surfaced.
   In Utah's Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, a prized geographic formation known as the Cathedral in the Desert — long swamped by the creation of Lake Powell — has been revealed again as water levels have dropped more than 70 feet. In northeast Georgia, a town founded by tobacco dealers in the 1700s, lost when the government created Thurmond Lake, has emerged.
   Judy Bense, chairwoman of the anthropology department at the University of West Florida in Pensacola and the president-elect of the Society for Historical Archeology, said the drought had created an exciting time for academicians — and a fleeting opportunity, since the weather will eventually turn and the water will rise again.
   Many of the objects that have reemerged, perhaps most, have little historical significance. A large water-clarifying tank that juts above the surface of Lake Mead, for instance, is more of a menace to pleasure boaters and fishermen than anything. Other finds are significant, however.
   Archeologists, for instance, recently discovered ancient canoes embedded in a lake bank near Gainesville, Fla., Bense said. Radiocarbon dating showed that the canoes were 3,000 to 5,000 years old, causing some historians to rethink the conventional understanding of historical water transport trends and migration patterns in the region.
   Near Zapata, Texas, on the U.S.-Mexico border, portions of a colonial town established in the 1750s — intentionally flooded when the two countries dammed the Rio Grande to create the Falcon Lake reservoir — have emerged again. They include Nuestra Senora del Refugio, a historic Spanish mission, as well as facilities where historians believe the world's finest lace was produced more than 200 years ago.
   "Archeologists are used to this kind of thing," Bense said. "But even we are amazed at what we are finding."
   Because historical sites are emerging so quickly, academicians and government regulators are having a hard time figuring out what to do with them — how to catalog, study and, if necessary, preserve them.
   Jensen and other historians are pushing for a full-fledged archeological dig at St. Thomas, about 60 miles northeast of Las Vegas, but state and federal officials are still sorting through red tape.
   Virtually all that officials have been able to do so far is trim back the tamarisk shrubs that have taken over newly dry areas, offering shade to coyotes and lizards that quickly replaced the bass. Even those efforts are lagging, making it difficult to access some of the building foundations.
   Amid the ruins of colonial towns and Native American communities that have emerged around the country are tens of thousands of artifacts — some of it junk, but all of it worth a look to historians. For several reasons, the artifacts are in peril.    Many wooden structures and artifacts were protected by being underwater, largely because the pieces were shielded from corrosive oxygen. Now that they are above water, archeologists fear that the wooden relics will quickly dry out and crumble.
   In the Ocala National Forest in Florida, where several small lakes have vanished, portions of a well-preserved 500-year-old fish trap were exposed recently, and federal officials feared it would be lost. At St. Thomas, Jensen said, delicate window frames on many of the houses, made of wood hauled in from the Utah hills, will soon dry out and fall apart.
   The emergence of historic sites has also brought about court battles.
   Late last year, for instance, U.S. District Judge Kent J. Dawson dismissed an aircraft salvage company's claim to a B-29 bomber that crashed into the Overton Arm of Lake Mead.
   Local residents had known that a group of test pilots, who bailed out and survived, had crashed a bomber into the lake in 1948. The wreck's location was unknown until August 2002, when the salvage company used high-tech sonar to find it. The discovery set off a dispute over who should control the site.
   Entrepreneurs had hoped to raise and restore the plane, which is seen as historically significant and potentially valuable. State and federal officials designated the wreck a "sensitive archeological resource" and restricted the public's ability to dive there so they could study the plane and preserve the site.
   Finally, looters have descended upon numerous ruins.
   Federal officials have banned overnight camping near St. Thomas, primarily to guard against scavengers who were coming out at night with metal detectors, some in search of old railroad ties and buggy parts, and others apparently driven, officials said, by a false rumor that a $5 gold piece was discovered there recently. It has long been illegal to take artifacts from federally protected land, and more than a dozen people have been charged with preservation law violations at Lake Mead.
   In Georgia — a prime region for hunting arrowheads, burial items and other Native American relics that can fetch high dollar on the Internet — state officials have also had difficulties with looters.
   Anticipating that shrinking lakes would expose historic sites, the state passed property laws three years ago to guard against artifact collectors.
   Collectors rebelled: They launched petition drives and argued frequently with law enforcement officers, resulting in numerous arrests.
   This year, Georgia tried to make peace through a new program that let collectors accompany state officials on archeological expeditions. They are allowed to keep the relics they find, provided that an on-site official determines that the pieces have no historic significance, said Georgia Department of Natural Resources Capt. Mike Commander.
   "We're trying our best to be a good steward of these resources, and it hasn't been easy," he said. "But I think everyone is starting to understand that this is in everyone's best interest."
   The Hannig Ice Cream Parlor's chimney, the highest point of the St. Thomas ruins, had popped up during a few dry spells in the past. This time it is different: The entire town is visible.
   Today at the ghostly, isolated site, portions of about 40 buildings have been exposed. Most were built of tan concrete blocks that look intensely bright when illuminated by the desert sun and contrasted against the colorful mesas and hills behind them. The blocks, crafted of silt lifted from the nearby Muddy and Virgin rivers, are expertly squared off at the edges.
   On the outskirts of town — "the rich neighborhood," Jensen said — are the foundations of larger estates, where settlers grew cotton, watermelons, pomegranates and cantaloupes that they sold to nearby towns and as far west as Los Angeles. Orange and cottonwood trees were planted alongside some of the streets; their stumps remain today.
   In the center of town is a smattering of smaller foundations. Some of the cellars are still intact, held together by metal bow springs that were removed from buggies and fused into the concrete walls during construction for support.
   Two thoroughfares slice through the settlement. One is the path of a long-defunct railroad spur. Built in 1918, the rail made regular stops at St. Thomas, introducing new goods, including blocks of ice and bottles of booze, that led to the town's brief but colorful heyday and ballooned its population from 300 to almost 500. The second was the original Highway 91, which went all the way to Los Angeles.
   Remnants of the post office are here, where the last bag of mail was stamped and postmarked on June 11, 1938, then tossed in a boat for delivery as the water crept up behind Hoover Dam and through the streets of St. Thomas. So is the foundation of stubborn Hugh Lord's house. Local historians say Lord was the last holdout — refusing to believe the water would ever reach his tiny home and then, when it did, was so upset that he tried to burn it down before fleeing in a rowboat.
   "All of this was under water," Jensen said. "And it was 64 feet deep. Imagine how much water that is. And how much had to go away."

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Page 38
overpopulation, global warming, ecological degradation, you name it -'the human condition' -continued worsening likely -my opinion? too much belief in 'isms', not enough action from scientists, themselves a major part of the problem.

October 8, 2004 Science Magazine
Losing Fast

Loss of ice from Antarctica is thought to be responsible for about 10% of contemporary sea level rise, but that estimate is still uncertain. Knowing the mass balance of the Antarctic Ice Sheet is of great importance because of its tremendous size, which is large enough to cause sea level to rise more than 70 meters were it to melt completely. Thomas et al. (p. 255, published online 23 September 2004; see the 24 September news story by Kerr) report results from aircraft and satellite surveys of the ice sheet in the Amundsen Sea sector of West Antarctica and find that glacial thinning rates near the coast have doubled since the 1990s. This region of the ice sheet alone, which contains enough ice to raise sea level by more than 1 meter were it to melt, may be contributing as much to sea level rise as all of Antarctica was thought to contribute a decade ago.

October 10, 2004 Los Angeles Times
Floods, Landslides Kill 144 Across South Asia
The toll is expected to rise as more bodies are recovered in India, Bangladesh and Nepal.

NEW DELHI — Unseasonable heavy downpours have triggered landslides and submerged large areas in northeastern India, Bangladesh and Nepal in the last three days, leaving at least 144 people dead, authorities said Saturday.

   In India, the death toll rose to 100 after rescue workers recovered the bodies of 61 people who had been swept away by flash floods in the remote Goalpara district in Assam state, officials said.
   In the northern parts of neighboring Bangladesh, tornadoes and heavy rains have killed 39 people and injured hundreds. Five people died in landslides in the Himalayan kingdom of Nepal.
   The deaths brought to 2,283 this year's toll of those killed by rains, floods and flood-related diseases in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal. Most of the casualties occurred during the monsoon season, from June to September.
    In Goalpara district, flash floods in the last three days have inundated at least 182 villages, mostly along the Himalayan foothills, said Deepak Kumar Goswami, the district's top administrator.
    Water gushing down the hills has flattened hundreds of mud-and-thatch houses, sweeping away people as they were sleeping, Goswami said.
    "The possibility of finding more bodies is very high," he said. "Soldiers and local people found bodies almost everywhere, inside flattened houses and in the adjoining paddy fields. It's a devastation that the locals have not seen in years."
    In neighboring West Bengal state, the rains caused houses to collapse, Hafiz Alam Sairani, the state's relief minister, said Saturday.
    Hundreds of huts have been flattened by rainstorms that have battered the coastal state since Thursday and more than 50,000 people were sheltering in schools and government buildings, he said.

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11 June 2004 Science Magazine
Climate Change and Climate Science
Donald Kennedy Editor-in-Chief

There is a paradoxical gulf between the importance of Earth's climate and the level of public interest in it. To be sure, tornadoes, killer heat waves, and floods make the headlines, but it's important to remember that weather is not climate. Some of the public's confusion may relate to a certain failure to make that distinction, as in the occasional newspaper speculation that a particular weather event may be a consequence of global warming. For any given case, we simply don't know.

But we do know quite a lot about climate and how it is being changed. The basics are straightforward: As we add greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane to the atmosphere, they form a blanket that intercepts infrared radiation as it leaves Earth. This "greenhouse effect" has been well understood for more than a century. Models that have tracked average global temperature over its fluctuations during the past 10 centuries show that it has followed natural events (such as volcanic eruptions and variations in solar flux) quite well up until the 20th century. Then it entered a rapidly rising phase, associated with an increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide from its preindustrial level of 280 parts per million (ppm) to the present level of 380 ppm-- a value still accelerating as we continue business as usual. That's why the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change now attributes much of the present warming trend to human activity.

The results are everywhere, except in popular accounts of what's going on. Those, unfortunately, often emphasize distant possibilities rather than probable outcomes. A recent Pentagon scenario-building exercise suggested a sudden breakdown in the North Atlantic circulation, producing a dramatic regional cooling. A disaster film called The Day After Tomorrow, released a couple of weeks ago, suggests an apocalyptic future not foreseen by most serious climatologists. In fact, we do not know whether global warming will continue to increase on a steady ramp or possibly cross the threshold of some nonlinear process. We're in the middle of a large uncontrolled experiment on the only planet we have.

It's only natural that there is lively disagreement among scientists about what the future may hold. Modeling is an inexact science, although the general circulation models used in the world's major centers have become more sophisticated and now produce results that generally agree. Debate centers on the possibility of altered relationships between oceans and atmosphere, the role of clouds and aerosols, the influence of changes in Earth's ability to reflect light, and the regional distribution of climate effects. Unfortunately, these disagreements have often persuaded thoughtful newspaper readers that since the scientists can't agree, the issue can safely be ignored.

It shouldn't be, and for two reasons. First, the models project that a doubling of the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide from preindustrial levels, which is probable by this century's end, would increase average global temperature by somewhere between 2° and 5°C, and they predict an increase in the average frequency of unusually severe weather events. Second, the modest increases we have already seen in this century are changing the rhythms of life on our planet. The effects of global warming have been most appreciable in the Arctic, where dramatic glacial retreats and changes in the reflectivity of the land have occurred. Even at low latitudes, mountain glaciers have shrunk; so much that the photogenic snowcap of Mount Kilimanjaro in Kenya will be gone by 2020. Plants and the organisms that depend on them have changed their schedules in many parts of the world, advancing their flowering and breeding times at a rate of about 5 days per decade. Sea levels have risen 10 to 20 centimeters in the past century, and more is in store for us.

We think the public deserves a considered consensus on the important matter of climate change, so the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), with support from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and cosponsorship from the Conference Board, will hold a symposium on 14 and 15 June in its headquarters at 1200 New York Avenue, Washington, DC. Eleven distinguished experts on climate science will brief the press, policy-makers, and the public. The objective is straightforward: to make clear distinctions between certain knowledge, reasonable hypotheses, and guesswork. Our climate future is important and it needs more attention than it's getting.

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October 8, 2004 Los Angeles Times
Epic Droughts Possible, Study Says

Tree ring records suggest that if past is prologue, global warming could trigger much longer dry spells than the one now in West, scientists say.
By Bettina Boxall, Times Staff Writer

Researchers examining ancient tree ring records have linked prolonged periods of epic drought in the West with warmer temperatures, suggesting that global warming could promote long-term drought in the interior West.

Analyzing North American tree ring data from the last 1,200 years, the research team found that severe, decades-long droughts settled over the West during the "Medieval Warm Period," a time of unusual warmth in parts of the world.

"Whether increased warmth in the future is due to natural variables or greenhouse [gases], it doesn't matter," said Edward R. Cook of Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, the lead author of a study published Thursday in the online edition of the journal Science. "If the world continues to warm, one has to worry we could be going into a period of increased drought in the western U.S. I'm not predicting that. [But] the data suggests that we need to be concerned about this."

The study, in which Cook was joined by scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration as well as the universities of Arizona and Arkansas, maps a 400-year period of recurring mega-droughts that make the West's current five-year dry spell look puny.

"Compared to the earlier 'mega-droughts' that are reconstructed to have occurred around AD 936, 1034, 1150 and 1253, the current drought does not stand out as an extreme event because it has not yet lasted nearly as long," the authors wrote. "This is a disquieting result because future droughts in the West of similar duration to those seen prior to AD 1300 would be disastrous."

Cook called the centuries between 900 and 1300 "the most persistently dry period on record in the last 1,200 years." Large portions of the West were gripped by droughts that lasted two or three decades at a time, dwarfing the current drought that, despite its comparative brevity, has dramatically shrunk reservoirs and raised the possibility of water shortages in the Colorado River Basin.

"I think the impact of the current drought indicates how vulnerable a good part of the West can be," Cook said. "Tack on another five years and I think the scenario is grim."

The research team plotted tree ring data across North America from the last 1,200 years, painting the broadest picture yet of past drought conditions on the continent. Prior reconstructions, the authors said, dealt with smaller areas and shorter time frames.

To back up the tree ring record, the team looked at other data from the same period. Fire scars on sequoias, wildfire-deposited charcoal in ancient lake beds and elevated lake salinity levels all reflected arid conditions in the West during the late Middle Ages.

The dry conditions roughly coincided with a period believed to have been warmer in North America. That ancient coincidence, said co-author and NOAA paleoclimatologist C. Mark Eakin, is in accord with climate modeling that indicates warmer temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean have led to the upwelling of cooler waters in the eastern Pacific, causing drier, La Niña conditions.

"So if we see warming in the future, that could lead to the same sort of cooler, eastern Pacific, drier West as we've seen in the past," Eakin said.

But Alan Hamlet, a research scientist with the Climate Impacts Group at the University of Washington, said global warming won't necessarily lead to drier times. "We have high confidence things are getting warmer and will probably continue to get warmer. What is still uncertain is what will happen with precipitation," he said. "I have not seen compelling evidence that just because it gets warmer, it gets drier.

"I don't think the paleo record sheds a lot of light on what's going to happen" under global warming, he added.

The study published in Science is the second released in recent months to suggest that the West had experienced far longer droughts than the current one, which is the most severe in the Colorado River basin since record-keeping began in 1906.

In August, researchers from the University of Nevada and Scripps Institution of Oceanography published a paper that concluded this drought was the seventh worst to hit the Upper Colorado River Basin in the past 500 years.

"The current drought is bad, but it could be worse," they concluded.

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if this isn't a comment on 'the human condition', i don't know what is.

October 3, 2004 Los Angeles Times
Label Finds Rapper's Crime Doesn't Pay
Def Jam Records had focused on Shyne's prison term to build his credibility. But people haven't bought into it.
By Chuck Philips, Times Staff Writer

Jailhouse rap has turned out to be a bust for Def Jam Records.
   The New York label last year won a multimillion-dollar bidding war to sign imprisoned rapper Shyne. Before the release of his debut CD, "Godfather Buried Alive," Def Jam made sure its new catch was everywhere — in music magazines, in videos and on live radio interviews broadcast on top-rated hip-hop stations around the country.
   The night before the album hit stores, MTV News aired an hourlong special on the rapper, whose real name is Jamal Barrow. The special, partially underwritten by Def Jam, was called "Shyne On."
   But rap fans apparently were turned off.
   The album, released Aug. 10, flopped. In its seven weeks on sale, "Godfather" has sold 354,000 copies — less than half what most hit rap CDs sell in their premiere week. In the latest seven-day tally, it sold just 15,500 copies and plunged to No. 68 on the national pop chart, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
   Def Jam spent more than $4 million to sign, record and market "Godfather," sources said. Based on sales figures compiled by Nielsen SoundScan, the company has recovered about $1.3 million of that investment. High-level sources at Def Jam said they didn't expect the record to pick up steam at this point and were prepared to abandon the project.
   Barrow seems to be the only one who profited from the ill-fated Def Jam deal. He received a $3-million advance.
   Def Jam's willingness to capitalize on Barrow's criminal background to promote his CD may seem crass, but it is the kind of stunt that is becoming more common as record companies strive to remain relevant to consumers. Increasingly, the music industry has sought to refashion itself as the prime purveyor of not just music, but culture and lifestyle. With the encouragement of music executives, such artists as Britney Spears and 50 Cent have teamed up with corporate advertisers to hawk shoes, soda and video games.
   When it comes to rap stars, music industry executives know that they're selling menace as well as music. Criminality adds credibility, and in the case of Barrow, who is serving a 10-year prison sentence at the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, N.Y., for assault, it may have been more marketable than his talent.

   "Buying into Shyne isn't like buying into the normal hip-hop artist," said Marcus Logan, a consultant who helped construct the marketing campaign for Barrow's new release. "With him, the music is almost secondary…. We were selling his story, his credibility."
   Last year, Def Jam executives began visiting Barrow in prison and wooing him to join the label. Months later, in April, Def Jam outbid Time Warner Inc.'s Warner Music Group and Sony Corp.'s Sony Music Entertainment to sign the rapper, paying him the multimillion-dollar advance and agreeing to finance a joint venture label called Gangland Records.
   Barrow, a former protege of Sean "P. Diddy" Combs, had previously released only one modest-selling album, a self-titled CD put out by Combs' Bad Boy Records. Barrow's fledgling rap career was interrupted after he was implicated in a Manhattan nightclub shooting in 1999. Witnesses testified that Barrow fired a pistol into the crowd, injuring several club patrons.
   Barrow, who often raps about shootings and gang warfare, is ineligible for parole until 2009.
   Most of Barrow's vocals for the album were recorded several years ago, before he entered prison. Def Jam hired some of the industry's hottest producers to create new tracks supporting those vocals. However, Barrow's rap on "For the Record," one of the album's strongest tracks, was recorded this year over a prison telephone line.
   Def Jam's eagerness to sign Barrow also illustrated the major shift that occurred at its corporate parent, Vivendi Universal's Universal Music Group. Just five years ago, the company banned the use of sexually graphic and violent imagery.
   The company's attitude toward rap began to change in 2000, after Universal bought PolyGram and took control of Def Jam, one of the raunchiest but most profitable rap labels. Gradually, music executives who had led the corporation's crusade against sexually explicit rap music began to orchestrate the mainstreaming of "gangsta" rap imagery and help land corporate endorsements for such rap stars as Jay-Z and Ludacris.
   Shyne doesn't seem destined for such superstar treatment, which is OK with him. "Me, I don't think about sales," he said in a phone interview from prison on the eve of his CD's release. "Milli Vanilli and Vanilla Ice sold millions of records. Record sales don't capture what I want to be. This is my art. My lifestyle. What you see is my way of being."

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(*8) October 3, 2004 Los Angeles Times
As Reservoirs Recede, Fears of a Water Shortage Rise

The seven states that rely on the Colorado River confront the possibility of inadequate supplies.
By Bettina Boxall, Times Staff Writer

PAGE, Ariz. — Behind Glen Canyon Dam spreads a vista reincarnated. One of the West's mightiest reservoirs is in steady retreat, the deep turquoise of its waters replaced by the chalky white of canyon walls submerged four decades ago.

Five years of record-breaking drought in the Colorado River basin have drained Lake Powell of more than 60% of its water. Flows on the Colorado are among the lowest in 500 years.

Downriver, Lake Mead, the biggest reservoir in North America and supplier of water to Southern California, Arizona and Las Vegas, is little more than half full. At Mead's northern end, the foundations of St. Thomas, a little town demolished in the 1930s to make way for the reservoir, have reemerged.

The 1,450-mile-long river that greens 3.5 million acres of farm and range land and helps feed the faucets of 25 million people may within a few years lack the water to quench the West's great thirst. For the first time ever, the seven states that rely on the Colorado are confronting the possibility of a shortage.

"They've never had to face a shortage of this consequence," said Pat Mulroy, head of the Southern Nevada Water Authority that supplies Las Vegas, one of the most river-dependent cities in the Colorado basin. "When you're right up against it and facing the possibility of inadequate supplies to municipalities or farmers or jeopardizing recreation values, these are very tough choices."

The states are meeting now to try to figure out how they will deal with a shortage if the drought continues. As with everything else on the heavily regulated Colorado, the answers will be found in a complex tangle of law and politics.

If the law of the river was strictly followed, cuts would be made according to a hierarchy of water rights, with Arizona, Nevada and the upper basin states of Colorado, Wyoming and Utah taking the first hits. California, which gets about 14% of its statewide water supply from the river, has some of the most senior rights on the Colorado and is in a comparatively good position.

But the states may try to avoid triggering cuts. One approach would be for utilities to buy water from farmers and growers — who use 80% of the river's water — and send it to cities.

"With voluntary transfers you can easily take care of the big urban needs in the lower basin with compensation to farmers, and you don't have to dry up agriculture to do that," said Robert Johnson, the lower Colorado regional director for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which operates the dams and reservoirs that make up the river's vast plumbing system.

"I don't want to downplay the importance of the drought," he said. "But my own opinion is we'll figure out how to deal with it."

If the states don't come up with a plan, the federal government will. "The [Interior] secretary will be forced to take action within three years, and potentially within two, if the states haven't solved the problems themselves," Bennett Raley, assistant secretary for water and science for the U.S. Department of the Interior, warned last spring.

Nowhere is the drought as dramatically evident as at Powell, one of the last major reservoirs constructed in the West. As the water recedes, the stunningly blue desert lake, loathed by conservationists for drowning a majestic canyon in the mid-1960s, is disinterring its past. Glen Canyon is reemerging, caked with white mineral salts left by the backed-up waters of the Colorado.

At Warm Creek Bay, one of Powell's many arms, the lake's decline can be measured by the height of the advancing green forests of salt cedar, an invasive shrub that is quickly staking its claim to the emerging lake bottom. The exposed mud has puckered into salt-crusted chunks, a loose puzzle of fudge-like pieces.

The last time it was full, in 1999, the Powell reservoir extended for 186 miles upriver. It is now 145 miles long. The lake level has dropped nearly 130 feet. If it continues its downward creep, there may not be enough water to generate hydropower in two years.

By 2007 or 2008, Powell could sink below the dam's intake tubes. At that point, the lake would be more than three-quarters empty. Releases from the reservoir couldn't be made until nature provided more water. This year, nature delivered half the normal inflow. In 2002, one of the driest years ever recorded on the Colorado, it was a quarter of the norm.

As the reservoir's levels plunge, so does hydropower production. At Lake Mead, Hoover Dam's generating capacity is down 17%. At Glen Canyon Dam, it has dropped 30%. The Western Area Power Administration, which distributes electricity from the dams, is cutting deliveries and expects to spend more than $30 million this year buying power to replace the lost Glen Canyon energy.

Meanwhile, the National Park Service is spending millions of dollars chasing the retreating waters at Mead and Powell, moving stranded recreation facilities and extending boat ramps that now end in cracked mud.

It could get worse. The drought is the most severe to hit the river since record-keeping began in 1906 and among the worst in 500 years.

Ancient tree rings tell of dry periods that persisted along the Colorado for decades. In the late 1500s, two major droughts gripped the region back to back.

"It seems like it's reasonable to assume it could happen again," said David Meko, an associate research professor at the University of Arizona's Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research. "We could have a few years off and dive into another one of these."

Even if bountiful snowfall and rainfall return, it will take years for Powell and Mead to refill. And even if the Colorado's flows return to normal, that wouldn't match what the states were experiencing when they divvied up the river's water in the early 1900s.

The early part of the last century was unusually wet. The annual flow on the Colorado was then estimated at 18 million acre-feet (one acre-foot is enough to supply two average households for a year). But the average since then has been closer to 15 million acre-feet. Tree-ring studies suggest that over the last 1,500 years, the average has been even less, between 13 million and 14 million acre-feet.

"They divided a very large pie, and we may have a smaller pie," said Jeanine Jones, the Colorado River chief for the California Department of Water Resources.

Even without the drought, population growth has been pushing use levels closer to the limits of what the river can give. In that sense, the drought may be an early warning.

"The worst thing that could happen now is if the drought goes away and we don't do anything. Shame on us," said Dennis Underwood, who oversees Colorado River issues for the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.

Doing something is not easy on the river, which in times of abundance has been marked by court fights over who gets what.

"What concerns me about the current situation," said Scott Balcomb, a water attorney who represents Colorado in the state drought talks, "is it's a competitive environment. Each of us is guarding their allocation, and as a result there seems to be some inertia."

Because they lack the huge downriver reservoirs that supply the lower basin, Colorado and the other upper basin states feel they've already suffered more than their neighbors to the south. Low irrigation flows on the upper tributaries of the Colorado have resulted in millions of dollars' worth of lost crops and livestock sell-offs.

"In the upper basin there's been pain going on for some time, and that's of concern to people," said Don Ostler, executive director of the Upper Colorado River Commission.

But the upper basin, where the river fills with snowmelt, is legally obligated to deliver a certain amount of water to Arizona, California and Nevada. If it didn't, the lower basin could make a "call on the river," and the upper basin could be forced to reduce deliveries to farms and cities in order to send water south.

That would be a politically difficult move. To avoid it, upper basin interests are expected to argue that if total water deliveries over the last decade are taken into account, they have more than met their obligation to the lower basin.

The big grower-controlled irrigation districts that pump enormous quantities of water from the river are also likely to feel the squeeze to sell some of their crop water to urban areas.

"If the drought gets worse, you're going to get a lot of pressure on those communities to fallow land," said water attorney Bill Swan, who represents the Imperial Irrigation District in southeastern California, the river's single biggest user.

In the lower basin, Nevada and Arizona would be the most vulnerable if a shortage was declared. The huge project that Arizona built in the 1970s to ship Colorado water to the state's interior farms and to Phoenix and Tucson has some of the most junior rights on the river. Nevada also developed many of its rights after California.

"We will take the hits first," said Sid Wilson, general manager of the Central Arizona Project. "Agriculture in Arizona will be hurt. We will not be able to continue storing water underground, and we'll have to start pulling water out of the ground. But the point is, we're not going under because of this drought."

The most worried of all is fast-growing southern Nevada, which gets most of its water from Lake Mead. Even before the drought, the region needed more than its share to keep pace with its exploding population.

The region's water agencies are proposing a mammoth project to pump groundwater from rural parts of the state, spending millions paying homeowners to tear out their lawns to reduce consumption and praying that the states will work out a deal. "I'd like to avoid if at all possible a call on the river," said Mulroy of the Southern Nevada Water Authority. "That makes no sense. To me, that's a declaration of war. We're going to wind up in the courts, and going to court isn't going to solve the problem.

"This drought is real. It's difficult," she said. "But I'm going to be optimistic that there is enough flexibility and enough possibility to avoid extraordinary pain.

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[Note: Coloration on this map is poor; the referenced "International zone" is the white area (Jerusalem) in the middle of the green -first figure on the left.]

October 2, 2004 The Economist Magazine
A bloody vacuum

Stalemate between Palestinians and Israelis looks total, but internal rows on both sides offer a shred of hope

THE plight of the Palestinians is dire—and worsening. Hatred between the two people, Palestinian Arabs (most of them Muslim) and Israeli Jews, some 10m of them jammed in a little slice of holy land between the River Jordan and the Mediterranean, has rarely if ever been deeper. A large portion of Israelis, and certainly most of those who vote for the current Likud-led government of Ariel Sharon, think the Palestinians and their leader, Yasser Arafat, still want to throw them into the sea. Anti- Semitism, they think, is ingrained in the Arab psyche. Most Palestinians gravely doubt whether the Israelis are willing to grant them a viable, contiguous, sovereign state. Many think that Mr Sharon, and those who support him, consider them sub-human.

Since the breakdown of talks at Camp David in the summer of 2000, the Palestinian uprising, the intifada, in which 3,300-plus Palestinians and 1,000-plus Israelis have perished, has entered its fifth year. Despite some signs of it abating, there is not a flicker of hope, in the short run, that even a truce is in the offing.

Visit the town of Rafah, at the southern tip of the Gaza strip, and you see why. Earlier this summer, after Palestinian fighters had killed 13 Israeli soldiers, the Israeli army struck back, killing some 43 Palestinians, many of them civilians, demolishing some 277 buildings in the course of three weeks, and, according to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), rendering nearly 3,500 Palestinians homeless. Since the intifada began, nearly 15,000 people in Rafah have lost their shelter.

In the past fortnight, the Israeli army, in pursuit of fighters, has flattened another 35 houses. Many of the displaced live in tents; inevitably, many young men have become fighters, even suicide-bombers. Across the Palestinian territories, the Israeli security forces continue to demolish the houses of suspected as well as proven fighters; more than 612 houses have been blown up or bulldozed since the intifada began, according to Btselem, an Israeli human-rights group.

The nearer you get to Gaza's border with Egypt, where Palestinians have habitually dug tunnels for smuggling arms, the more the town looks like a moonscape of desolation. Nationalist graffiti, the ubiquitous posters of “martyrs” and the occasional green flag of the Islamic Resistance Movement, better known as Hamas, hoisted on shell-holed houses offer scant relief. Local youths warn you to keep away; Israeli snipers by the border, they say, shoot first and ask questions later.

The intifada, and Israel's fierce reaction to it after March 2002, when its forces retook most of the West Bank towns that had been run, under the Oslo agreement, by the Palestinian Authority (PA), a fledgling government under Mr Arafat's presidency, have made Gazans even poorer than they were already. Of the 1.4m Palestinian population squashed into the 45km (28 mile)-long strip, 922,674 are registered as refugees whose families fled or were expelled at the founding of Israel in 1948 or after the Jewish state's conquests in 1967. Many thousands still live in makeshift concrete-block dwellings with no sewerage.

The average daily wage for Palestinians in Gaza, at the end of last year, was $12 a day. Before the intifada, 30,000 Gazans crossed into Israel proper every day to get work. Now a few thousand do. Some economists put unemployment in the strip at 60%. Those in work look after an average of 7.7 dependants.

Israel now controls 42% of Gaza's land, for military purposes or for the use of 7,000-8,000 Jewish settlers. These have a quarter of the strip's arable land, control nearly all the wells, and require some 6,000 Israeli soldiers to protect them—hence, in part, Mr Sharon's desire to withdraw from the strip next year.

Gazans are pretty well sealed off not just from Israel but also from the West Bank, the bigger bit of a future Palestine; permission for Palestinians to travel between the two is not easily granted. Gaza's seaport and airport have been destroyed by the Israelis. Within the strip, checkpoints constrain movement; some roads are reserved for Israeli soldiers and settlers only. Gazans habitually describe their bit of Palestine as a cage or prison.

This grim situation has prevailed since mid-2002. But it has got worse in the past year or so because of the near-collapse of the PA and the consequent growing lawlessness among Palestinians. The police, who come under the PA, barely function. Criminal gangs often merge with proclaimed anti-Israeli fighters. The PA and its leadership around Mr Arafat are widely reviled as corrupt, as well as divided and weak. Hence, especially in Gaza, the rise of Hamas, which is viewed by many as honest, disciplined and brave. If Mr Sharon manages to bludgeon his plan for Israel's withdrawal from Gaza through his parliament and party, no one is sure which Palestinian group would run Gaza.

No better on the Bank

The mood of gloom among the 1.8m Palestinians in the West Bank itself is no less pervasive. But the Palestinian sense of being choked off into ever-diminishing patches of relative autonomy is becoming steadily stronger. The 160-odd checkpoints punctuating all the roads and encircling all the main towns often take an hour or more to pass through.

This feeling of being bottled up has been enhanced by the Israelis' security barrier. This cuts through the western side of the West Bank and is poised to loop round the five largest Jewish settlement blocks there, including three surrounding Jerusalem. Its length, when it is finished in a year or so, is estimated at between 630km and 724km; so far, more than one-third of it has been built, mostly in the north. About a tenth of it, so far, consists of an eight-metre-high concrete wall which in some places divides Palestinian communities, bars children from their former schools and cuts off farmers from their land, which continues to be confiscated for security and settlement-expansion.

The Palestinians say that some 340,000 of them will be caught on the “wrong side” of the fence; that is to say, they will be stuck between the “green line” that marked the border between Israel proper and the West Bank until 1967, and a new line, farther east, laid down by the fence. Many Israelis, particularly those in Likud, frankly say that such Palestinians should move to join their cousins on the newly demarcated Palestinian side. Virtually all Palestinians see the barrier as part of an Israeli plan to grab more land and to make their fledgling state, criss-crossed by roads reserved for use only by Israelis, nothing more than a collection of “bantustans” or ghettoes, fenced off by an “apartheid wall”.

The breakdown of law and order, in the West Bank as well as Gaza, is increasingly plain. Take Nablus, the should-be commercial capital of the coming state. In the past few months the mayor, Ghassan Shakah, has resigned in despair after the murder of his brother. The police seem incapable of tackling crime and violence, separate from rumbling intifada. Many prisons have been destroyed. The writ of the PA, except as an agent for paying some 140,000 civil servants, barely runs.

Palestinian guerrilla groups have fractured. The al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, affiliated to Mr Arafat's Fatah group, is not only plainly out of Mr Arafat's control; in Nablus it has itself split into factions that occasionally fight each other in the warren- like casbah of the old city. Further north, in Jenin, the Palestinian movement is rent by the same violent factionalism.

Israeli forces regularly make incursions into such disaffected towns to pick off ringleaders, sometimes with uncanny accuracy but often killing bystanders and children. Hundreds of Palestinians have been killed in this way. Mistrust among Palestinians is sharpened by the presence of hundreds of full-time agents for the Israelis and probably thousands more occasional informants and collaborators, whom the PA's own security services have sometimes tortured and murdered.

The Israelis express sorrow for the misery of ordinary Palestinians—but put the blame squarely on the terrorists whom they succour and on their leaders, Mr Arafat to the fore, for egging them on. Moreover, Palestinians consistently express support even for suicide-bombers. “They bleed us, we must bleed them,” is the standard justification. Since the intifada began, some 16 Israeli children aged 13 and under have been killed; the Palestinian figure, according to Btselem, is 183.

But the increasing physical separation of Palestinians from Israel makes it easier to become inured to their plight. In particular, the barrier seems to be having an effect; since March this year only four suicide-bombers have managed to get into Israel and blow themselves and innocent Israeli citizens up. Last year alone, they perpetrated 23 such horrors. In sum, the wretchedness of Palestinian life, say the Israelis around Mr Sharon, is wholly due to the violence which they continue to direct against Israel and Israelis.

Against this backdrop of unremitting bitterness, reciprocal violence and growing chaos, one glimmer of hope is that the Palestinians may now have a chance to choose a new leadership—at all levels. Between now and March, the plan is for elections to take place for local councils, for the national legislature, for the presidency and—perhaps most important of all—within Fatah, the group that has always dominated the Palestine Liberation Organisation under the leadership of Mr Arafat.

The frail old man

One of many reasons for the dismal performance of the PA under Mr Arafat is that for the past three-and-a-half years he has been holed up in a bombed-out compound in Ramallah, forbidden by the Israelis from travelling across his domain and barred from any formal contact with the Israeli government. With American support, he has been declared a non-person, unfit to be an interlocutor in future negotiations for peace.

Ordinary Palestinians are ambivalent about Mr Arafat. He is their symbolic and so far unrivalled leader. Every opinion poll puts him far above his rivals, were there to be an election for president of the PA, which he last won in 1996 with a vote of 88%. He says he welcomes an election.

And yet a growing number also think Mr Arafat has failed—both to build a fledgling democracy in their would-be state, and, plainly, to wring out of the Israelis a minimally fair peace deal. Over 90% of Palestinians, according to opinion polls, think the PA is corrupt, while often blaming “those around the old man”, rather than Mr Arafat himself, for the pervasive odour of nepotism and graft.

Physically cut off from his people, he looks pretty powerless. Even within the past fortnight, Mr Sharon has publicly refused to rule out the possibility of kicking him into exile or even killing him. Many Palestinians wish he would go, yet feel it would be almost sacrilegious to endorse Israel's call for his departure.

His physical and mental faculties are not what they were. At 75, he is frail, and probably has Parkinson's disease. In conversation he tends to dwell on the past, with rambling reminiscences and convoluted self-justifications for past failures of negotiation. His aim, as ever, is survival, collective as well as personal. “They have failed to wipe us out,” he says. “We are not Red Indians.” While Mr Sharon rules in Israel, Mr Arafat offers no pressing plan for breaking the logjam. But he can still block any scheme that is not to his taste.

Nowadays Mr Arafat has rivals, though undeclared, within Fatah; and Fatah has a rival, declared, in the shape of Hamas, for the party leadership of the Palestinians. If the various elections proceed as mooted (no clear timetable so far), the results could alter the shape of Palestinian politics, even if Mr Arafat wins the presidency again.

The first big need is to revamp Fatah. In the past few months, a rival for the crown has stepped forward in the person of Muhammad Dahlan, a tough and articulate 43-year-old who hails from the refugee camps of Gaza and once ran Fatah's security force for Mr Arafat. He has made some headway under the banner of reform, his allies recently winning a clutch of local Fatah elections in the strip. But Palestinians who hope for a democratic alternative deplore his use of “old methods” on the street and by means of crude patronage. Worse for Mr Dahlan, the Israelis have earmarked him as a possible alternative leader. As a presidential contender, he got only about 2% in a recent opinion poll.

The other rival for Mr Arafat's crown is Marwan Bargouthi, who is 47. A leader of the first intifada in the late 1980s, he too is tough and shrewd, and is more popular. He is currently in an Israeli prison, serving five life sentences for complicity in the murder of Israelis. But polls rate him well ahead of Mr Dahlan, at between 15% and 20%. If Mr Arafat left the scene, if elections gave a new generation their head, and if Mr Bargouthi were released as part of a new peace process, he might be best placed to persuade the Palestinians to accept a compromise.

The other big conundrum surrounds Hamas. On paper, the movement is committed to Israel's elimination. It is the main perpetrator of suicide-bombs, though the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade has probably been responsible for about a third of them. But in times of gloom Hamas always grows; it now matches Fatah in popularity. Even in traditionally secular towns like Nablus, it is now, says the former mayor, himself a Fatah man, the most popular movement.

In the past, when Hamas has sought to undermine the PA, Fatah has physically clobbered it. Now, however, most senior Fatah people think Hamas should—and could—be co-opted into a revamped legislative system. Hamas people say they would take part in the elections. Some also say, more crucially, that they would declare a truce and even accept a temporary two-state solution, perhaps for 50 years, while continuing to argue peacefully for one state in which Jews could live, presumably under Arab Muslim control.

Plainly, if a new Palestinian order is to emerge that can persuade Israelis that they have a partner for negotiation, Hamas must either be smashed—or brought into the political discourse. Despite Israel's continuing policy of killing its leaders, Hamas may now be too popular to ignore. As a secular-minded Arab-Israeli member of parliament put it: “There has to be a unified Palestinian command to stop the suicide-bombing.” That would mean bringing Hamas on board.

An array of conditions would have to be met by all sides before talks could start again. For one thing, it is unclear what Mr Sharon's minimal vision of a Palestinian state might be. But at least if the Palestinians showed that they can make democracy work for themselves, it would be harder for the Israelis to refuse to engage with them. “This would be a revolution in the Arab world,” says Mustafa Barghouthi, a clansman of Marwan who runs the Palestinian National Initiative, a democracy-building outfit. “An Arab leader challenged in free elections.”

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October 2, 2004 The Economist Magazine
The fishing industry
Heading for the final fillet
A bleak outlook for fish stocks

FISH becoming ever more scarce; greed, crime, cruelty, waste, folly, destruction, hypocrisy, ignorance, pusillanimity, deception and the possibility of extinction all becoming ever more abundant. That is the theme of Charles Clover's book about the world fishing industry.

The problem with fishing is as follows. Fish are a wonderful source of protein, not just for the swelling populations of poor countries but, because they are generally better for you than meat, also for health-conscious guzzlers in richer places. As man's appetite for fish has grown, so has his ability to catch them. Modern gadgets—sonars, global positioning system plotters, sea-mapping software, echo sounders, radio beacons, bathymetric generators, “fish aggregation devices” and the like—enable today's vast fishing boats to find and kill their prey as never before.

Although the signs of growing scarcity are everywhere—smaller fish, smaller catches, sometimes no catch at all—most of the efforts to manage fish stocks or control overfishing have failed. When rich or big countries, whether Japan, China or various members of the European Union, exhaust their traditional fisheries, they move on to new ones. With the EU's blessing, European countries—Spain is the most rapacious—buy fishing rights from African states for trifling sums and then set about their predations. They, and others, have also moved on to deplete the stocks in the world's last waters to be exploited—round Antarctica,

The End of the Line: How Over-Fishing is Changing the World and What We Eat.
by Charles Clover. Ebury Press; 320 pages

in the Indian Ocean and in the South Atlantic, just as they have fished out the stocks in the North Sea, the Mediterranean and the Grand Banks off Canada.

As they exhaust the big fish, they may have to go after smaller and uglier specimens that they used to throw back. They may also have to change the off-putting names of the creatures of the deep to make them more palatable: the Patagonian toothfish shows up on fancy menus as Chilean sea bass. But demand grows and grows, and with it the plunder of the seas.

Though some kinds of fish, such as prawns and salmon, can now be farmed, industrial fishing is still largely a matter of hunting, or, to use Mr Clover's term, mining. “Mining” is apt because commercial fishermen are now hauling fish out much faster than they can be replenished. Everywhere the outlook is bleak. In many places, certain species may never recover.

Umpteen international agencies busy themselves with monitoring, suggesting and complaining, but to little avail. Politicians in rich countries yield spinelessly to the short-term interests of fishermen, who can still tweak the sympathies of other voters in a way that even farmers cannot. And consumers are resolutely uninterested. They may mind about dolphins, or the albatrosses which get snared by the 125km (80-mile) lines sometimes used to catch tuna. Yet the victims of “friendly” practices include many more creatures: whales, turtles, sharks, rainbow runners, dolphin fish, triggerfish, wahoo, billfish, mobula, manta rays, mackerel, barracuda and so on. This “by-catch” is generally flung back into the sea.

The waste is appalling: as much as 85% of the take of Spanish prawn fishermen may be by-catch. The cruelty is equally vile: sea lions and porpoises drowned in nets, dolphins thrown back into the sea with beaks broken and hunks of flesh hacked from their sides, tuna gaffed bloodily, huge manta rays left to gasp their last on deck. The damage is not done only to animals (yes, fish are animals, though self-styled animal-lovers seem far more concerned about foxes, at least in Britain). Trawlers and dredgers wreak destruction across the seabed, crushing entire ecosystems of corals, algae and crustaceans as they go. And, thanks to subsidies and absurdities such as the EU's common fisheries policy, the taxpayer helps to finance this rape.

All this is laid out—like fish on a slab—in Mr Clover's excellent book. Little escapes him as he travels from Tokyo's fish market to Vigo in

Spain, from marine reserves in New Zealand to the coast of Mauritania, from Newfoundland to Brussels. He exposes the follies of fishermen, politicians and celebrity chefs, and he ponders the central problem—the age-old “tragedy of the commons”, whereby anyone with access to a common resource has an interest in over-exploiting it.

What can be done? In time, farming may help, though most farmed fish must be fed with other fish that have been taken from the sea: sometimes 20 tonnes of dead fish, ground up, is needed for one tonne of live. Tuna farming has proved hugely popular, though it is really fattening: the fish are caught in nets and reared in cages. Moreover, says Mr Clover, it has led to wildly unsustainable catches and, in the eastern Atlantic and the Mediterranean, the collapse of the system for gathering catch information and imposing limits.

To make matters worse, most of the problems of pollution and cruelty associated with farming have yet to be overcome. Salmon—which in the wild swim freely across oceans—are condemned to live lice-ridden and crammed into cages. In Ireland this has brought disease and destruction to local stocks of wild sea trout. Escaped farm fish risk playing genetic havoc with local salmon.

Yet some fishery policies have been shown to work, especially in Iceland. Mr Clover suggests independent management, long-term transferable quotas, marine reserves and, above all, far greater openness, ideally with the help of satellites and the internet, to reveal what every boat is doing. Thus could the public help to police all those who go down to the sea in ships and occupy their business in great waters. His counsel seems eminently wise—and most unlikely to be taken.

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(*9) September 10, 2004 Science Magazine
Dead Zone Fix Not a Dead Issue

Scientists debate how best to revive the Gulf of Mexico's oxygen-starved waters
Dan Ferber

Every summer, death stalks the waters of the northern Gulf of Mexico. A New Jersey-size swath of sea becomes depleted of oxygen, suffocating millions of crabs and other denizens of the sea floor. In 1999, the federal government diagnosed the cause of this seasonal dead zone: The hypoxia arises largely because of nitrogen pollution from the fertilizer-drenched farms in states along the Mississippi River. Two years later, the government released a plan to reduce nitrogen runoff and revive the gulf. Now a new government report says that because the original diagnosis was wrong, the costly prescription will fail.

Released last month to little public notice, the controversial report, issued by the Atlanta office of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), places increased blame for the dead zone on phosphorus pollution from factories and cities along the Mississippi River and recommends focusing the cleanup on phosphorus as well as nitrogen. Farm-industry groups seeking to delay the national plan have seized on an early draft of the report that challenged the use of any nitrogen reduction. Marine scientists have given the report, which has not yet been peer reviewed, a cooler reception. "I think it has some really serious deficiencies," says Donald Boesch, president of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science.

Enough already. Excess nutrients from the Mississippi River cause phytoplankton blooms (red and yellow) near the river's mouth. CREDIT: STEVEN LOHRENZ/UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI

Scientists agree that factories, cities, and farms in the Mississippi River watershed have jacked up both phosphorus and nitrogen levels in the river. Each spring, those nutrients pour into the northern Gulf of Mexico and trigger blooms of phytoplankton, minuscule plants that float in the water. That sets off population booms in zooplankton, the tiny animals that consume them. Then sea-floor bacteria, which feed on dead zooplankton and their waste, multiply wildly and use up oxygen in the bottom waters.

In 1999, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released a comprehensive assessment of the causes and consequences of hypoxia in the gulf. It concluded that phytoplankton growth in the dead

zone was primarily limited by the availability of nitrogen. Relying on that report, a state-federal partnership, the Task Force on Gulf Hypoxia, developed a national action plan with a single overarching goal: reduce nitrogen coming down the Mississippi River by 30% by 2015.

That prescription seemed simplistic to Howard Marshall, a veteran water-quality scientist at EPA's Atlanta regional office who was assigned to help implement the plan. By reexamining available data on dissolved nitrogen and dissolved phosphorus concentrations, Marshall and other EPA scientists determined that the lower Mississippi River contained a large excess of dissolved nitrogen relative to dissolved phosphorus. Although growing phytoplankton need more nitrogen than phosphorus--they usually accumulate the nutrients at a 16:1 ratio--the amount of nitrogen so exceeded the quantity of phosphorus that the latter nutrient had most likely limited the growth of phytoplankton there, the EPA group concluded. The same also held true for the northern gulf in the spring, when the dead zone typically forms, according to the group. "Wouldn't it be better to reduce phosphorus and starve the bastards?" Marshall asks.

That's "pretty naïve," argues biogeochemist Robert Howarth of Cornell University, who chaired a National Research Council committee in 2000 that examined hypoxia in coastal oceans. Last week, Howarth, Boesch, and Donald Scavia of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, sent EPA a letter criticizing the new report. They argue, for example, that the nutrient ratios in water don't necessarily reveal what's available to phytoplankton, because phosphorus is resupplied from organic debris in the sediment.

But other oceanographers who have seen the report say that the EPA team has a point. "There's been this focus on nitrogen as the major culprit, even though we knew from early on that phosphorus played a role," says biological oceanographer Steven Lohrenz of the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg. And oceanographer Michael Dagg of the

Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium in Cocodrie, who's worked in the gulf since the 1980s, says that Marshall "has done an extremely important service by scrutinizing these issues as intensely as he did. It should have been done 10 years ago."

Indeed, several recent lines of evidence support the idea that phosphorus can control phytoplankton growth in the gulf. In results presented in January at the American Geophysical Union's Ocean Sciences meeting, James Ammerman of Rutgers University and colleagues reported that nitrogen-to-phosphorus ratios greater than 380 occurred over the entire Louisiana continental shelf in the spring and early summer of 2001, indicating that phosphorus supplies may well constrain the plants' growth. Moreover, adding phosphorus but not nitrogen stimulated phytoplankton growth in bottles containing seawater from many of those locations. And phytoplankton from much of the shelf had high levels of an enzyme that they turn on to scavenge phosphorus when supplies are tight.

Overall, the data suggest that "there's this huge slug of water going into the gulf that's phosphorus-limited at its fresh end and nitrogen-limited at its salty end," says coastal ecologist Hans Paerl of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. What remains unknown, he says, is how much phytoplankton growth at the fresh end contributes to hypoxia.

At last week's meeting of the gulf hypoxia task force, farm-industry interests lobbied to redo the NOAA-led science assessment and delay expensive efforts to reduce fertilizer runoff from farms. EPA's Ben Grumbles, acting assistant administrator in the Office of Water, says the task force is "committed to doing an independent peer review" of the new EPA report, and that the reviewers should include "fresh faces" who weren't involved in the 1999 NOAA assessment. But he emphasizes that the agency plans to continue its efforts to cut nitrogen pollution while exploring how to cut phosphorus. For the gulf, that may be just what the doctor ordered.

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September 2004 Natural History Magazine
Blurring Wallace's Line

"As a few lost letters may make a sentence unintelligible," Alfred Russel Wallace once wrote in a paper on the geography of the Malay Archipelago, "so the extinction of the numerous forms of life which the progress of cultivation invariably entails will necessarily obscure this invaluable record of the past."

When Wallace recorded those thoughts in 1863, the evolutionary record of the fauna and flora of Southeast Asia was clearer than it would ever be again. That "invaluable record of the past," and Wallace's own detailed observations of it, led to Wallace's momentous insights about natural selection and biogeography.

What Wallace found was that many of the organisms he studied were restricted to single islands or groups of islands, and that such idiosyncratic distributions of species often told important stories about the past. In Bali, he found "birds of the genera Copsychus, Megalaima, Tiga, Ploceus, and Sturnopastor, all characteristic of the Indian region." On a subsequent trip, to an island little more than fifteen and a half miles away, he noticed that "on crossing over to Lombock, during three months collecting there, not one [of the bird genera he had observed on Bali] was ever seen." More than a century before the acceptance of the theory of plate tectonics, Wallace began to imagine the movements of continents that might lead to such distinct variety and patterning.

I crossed Wallace's line when I traveled recently from Australia to the Malay Archipelago. It should have been easy to observe the transition in organisms that Wallace recorded: kangaroos in Australia that give way to tapirs in Asia, Australian cockatoos that cede to hornbills in Southeast Asia. But when I landed in Singapore, the first thing I saw was a cockatoo. Such introduced species, dragged across Wallace's Line, have partly obscured it, and helped blot out the traces of evolutionary history that the boundary had preserved for so long.

The evolutionary record has been most obscured on the island-nation of Singapore, where Wallace did most of his collecting. More than 99 percent of the mature forest that once covered the island is gone [see "Singapores Vest-Pocket Park," by Jamie James, April 2004], and 'Singapore has lost about half its animal species in the past two centuries. The last tiger -from a population so numerous in Wallace's time that they terrified him at night- was killed in 1930 [ see photograph above].

Deforestation and the loss of indigenous species have all been far more dramatic in Singapore than anywhere else in Southeast Asia. Still, Singapore is hardly unique. Recent studies by Barry W Brook of Northern Territory University in Darwin, Australia, Navjot Sodhi of National University of Singapore, and their colleagues noted that forests are disappearing in this region faster than anywhere else on the globe -at a rate of about 0.9 percent annually, compared with 0.4 percent a year in Africa and South America. Another study found that more timber has been harvested in Borneo alone in the past two decades than from Africa and South America combined.

During his stay in the Malay Archipelago, from 1854 until 1862, Wallace collected 900 new species of beetles, 200 new species of ants, fifty new species of butterflies, and 212 new species of birds. If current estimates of extinction rates are correct, between 13 and 42 percent of all species that inhabited the region at the beginning of the nineteenth century could be gone by 2100. Yet, sadly, not only has the evolutionary record been blurred, but a valuable baseline for estimating the changes of the past century and a half -Wallace's own observations and collections- has also been undermined by a lack of reliable biohistorical research. Finding clear examples of individual species that Wallace observed in abundance but that today are rare or extinct is no easy task. No comprehensive list of the species Wallace collected exists, or, to my knowledge, is even in the works.

The key to Wallace's particular contributions was his ability to recognize biogeographic boundaries. That ability rested on the possibility of moving among neighboring islands that clearly demonstrated differences in plant and animal species. Yet in Bali today, for instance, Wallace would be hard-pressed to find birds of the Copsychus and other bird genera he wrote about. They survive, all right, but they are hiding in ever-diminishing patches of forest. Wallace would now have to travel farther down every trail, deeper into every forest refuge, to observe what he could so plainly distinguish from boats and coastlines in the mid-nineteenth century.

ROBERT R. DUNN is a postdoctoral investigator in the department of ecology and evolution at the University of Tennessee. His research focuses on the biogeography of ants.

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Page 47
great review on perhaps great book! (-nik?)

September 26, 2004 Los Angeles Times
In the flesh: maddening, captivating Bombay Maximum City:
book review By Shashi Tharoor

Bombay Lost and Found
Suketu Mehta
Alfred A. Knopf: 540 pp., $27.95

To some of us, the story of Bombay is a story of decline. I lived in Bombay from 1959 to 1969, the formative years of my childhood, and in those days everything exciting and vital in India appeared to be happening there. As late as 1979, the only Indian selection in the Time-Life Books' "Great Cities of the World" series was, inevitably, Bombay — a vibrant metropolis that saw itself as a sort of New York to New Delhi's Washington. A plaque outside the Gateway of India, a triumphal seashore arch, reminds us that it is known as the "Urbs Prima in Indis." But Bombay has been increasingly overtaken by Delhi. In the last two decades, Delhi has grown, sucking up the nation's resources and talents like a sponge — money, art, theater, publishing. Delhi is now the capital of virtually all the things that Bombayites used to pride themselves on. Gaining fast, especially on the livability index, is Bangalore, India's outsourcing capital, flourishing on the country's Silicon Plateau.

So where does this leave Bombay? It is still the biggest, richest, most murderous city in India, Suketu Mehta tells us in his stunning first

book. Its population is about 17.5 million and growing. It is India's commercial capital, home of the country's main stock exchange, a city that pays 38% of India's taxes; it manufactures the grandiose dreams of Bollywood (making four times as many films annually as the United States); it boasts the country's most opulent hotels and commercial rents higher than those in Manhattan or Tokyo (while half the population is homeless); and it supports India's most innovative theaters and art galleries while millions of its residents eke out a bare subsistence in the world's largest slums. Bombay, Mehta points out, is a city of appalling contrasts — a bottle of champagne at the Oberoi Hotel sells for 1 1/2 times the national average annual income, when 40% of the city has no safe drinking water; the world's largest film industry thrives in a city where plumbing, telephones and law and order break down regularly; millions starve in filthy slums while the city supports several hundred slimming clinics.

Such contrasts can be found elsewhere, but is there any other city on Earth to which immigrants continue to flock while the trains in the city alone kill 4,000 people a year? Where a thug buys chickens in the morning from Muslims whom he will butcher in the afternoon? ("Bombayites understand that business comes first.") Where a ragpicker can be hired to kill a man "for a sum of money that would not buy a cup of coffee at a good hotel in the city"? To Mehta, returning to the city to live after 21 years away, Bombay is "a way station, between paradise and hell. You came to Bombay to pass through it." His is the account — fierce, engaged, coruscating — of a curious outsider who became, for two years, an intimate insider.

Mehta's is not a history of the city, nor a portrait of the ways it has changed from the British days through the cosmopolitanism celebrated by Salman Rushdie to the glitter-and-dross of today. He makes no attempt to be comprehensive: You will find no details about Bombay's eclectic architecture, its fine museums and art galleries, its commercial life. There is little here for the would-be tourist. Mehta doesn't describe a boat trip in the choppy seas to Bombay's premier attraction, the Elephanta Caves, visit the cooperative milk colony or pay homage at Mani Bhavan, the house where Mohandas K. Gandhi lived and where many of his possessions can still be seen. Instead, he explores the underside of the city with the inquisitiveness of a voyeur, the sensibility of a poet and the zeal of a private investigator. Mehta is none of those things and yet, like the best writers, he is all of them.

He talks to homicidal rioters about what a man looks like when he's on fire, and to police officers who specialize in fake "encounters" — cold-blooded executions of criminals the courts might otherwise acquit. He becomes so friendly with a gangster kingpin that he is offered a free contract killing as a reward. He works on a Bollywood film and discovers that the city's underworld and its dream world are reflections of each other. In perhaps the book's most affecting section, he tells the story of Babbanji, a 17-year-old runaway poet from the collapsing state of Bihar, working at a sidewalk bookstall and sleeping on the footpath, his only possession a tattered plastic bag containing his poems, which he composes at every opportunity on the blank spaces of used sheets of paper.

Mehta is brilliant on life in urban middle-class India: The obligations and the compromises, the erupting rage and the ready hospitality, the networking and influence peddling are depicted with insight and wit. There are asides on such matters as the hierarchies among servants, every bit as complex as in "Upstairs, Downstairs"; the argot used by Bombay's hit men to refer to their weapons and their victims; and the formula for Indianizing Coca-Cola into "masala Coke" (add lemon, pepper, rock salt and cumin). He is not squeamish about describing, in minute detail, riots, killings and wrist slashings, not to mention filth, waste, blood and feces; this is not a book to be digested at the dining table. And yet it is a powerful, arresting work, epitomized by his own image of Bombay's professional letter writers, penning love letters for illiterate migrants under a hail of pigeon droppings.

However, 80 pages on the life of a "bar girl," an exotic dancer, seems self-indulgent and repetitive and reads like 50 pages too many. (He justifies his obsession by seeing the "bar-line" as "the intersection of everything that makes the city fascinating: money, sex, love, death and show business.") To me, what makes Bombay Bombay is that it is a microcosm of the best and worst of India. Its inhabitants hail from every part of the subcontinent. On its bustling streets you can hear every one of India's 18 major languages, see all its styles of dress, taste the astonishing variety of its cuisines, pray to any of its gods. In his idiosyncratic peregrinations through the city, Mehta says too little of this. Bombay is India writ small — a marvel of cosmopolitanism, pluralism and collective energy. It is thriving evidence that India's diversity, when channeled productively, is its richest asset.

Of course, Bombay — cosmopolitan yet conventional, creative but conformist — exists no longer. Literally, for a chauvinist government in Maharashtra, the state of which it is the capital, has renamed the city Mumbai. (This strikes me as the equivalent of a company jettisoning a well-known brand name in favor of an inelegant patronymic — as if McDonald's had renamed itself Kroc's in honor of its inventor. "Bombay" has entered global discourse; it conjures up associations of cosmopolitan bustle; it is attached to products such as Bombay gin, Bombay duck and the British colonial-style furniture sold by the Bombay Co.; it enjoys name recognition that many cities around the world would spend millions in publicity to acquire. "Mumbai" was the city's name in the Marathi language, but what has been gained by insisting on its adoption in English, aside from a nativist reassertion that benefits only sign painters and letterhead printers?) Mehta describes Bombay as "a city of multiple aliases, like gangsters and whores." It is a telling simile, for those are the categories through which he sees the city.

One frustration with this marvelous book (other than the hash he makes when he converts the Indian rupee to the dollar in several places) is that Mehta takes us into the lives of people whom he depicts with great sympathy but abandons in 2001. The book begs for an epilogue to tell us what has become of the aspiring poet, the fugitive gangster, the suicidal dancing girl, the amoral rioter and the millionaire renunciate-turned-mendicant. Mehta makes us care about them, but he does not take the reporter's responsibility to update their stories.

Each Bombayite, Mehta observes, "inhabits his own Bombay." This book is Mehta's Bombay, maddening and captivating in turn. At one point, an aspiring actor tells him, "I love my India," in "the manner of a man confessing to adultery." That is exactly what Suketu Mehta does: He reveals his love for Bombay like an adulterer's — furtive and fascinated, aroused and ashamed, all at once. He gives us a city that "is a mass dream of the peoples of India," and although the dream includes a few nightmares, he makes you never want to wake up. Shashi Tharoor is the author of eight books about India, most recently "Nehru: The Invention of India."

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Page 48
below is an excellent article from the latimes which some may already have read. -perryb
[-and jaime, i call your attention in particular to the line "Officials say the terrorist movement has benefited from the rapid spread of radical Islam's message among potential recruits worldwide who are motivated by Al Qaeda's anti-Western doctrine, the continuing Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the insurgency in Iraq." upon which i have opinionated before]

September 26, 2004 Los Angeles Times
Al Qaeda Seen as Wider Threat
The network has evolved into a looser, ideological movement that may no longer report to Bin Laden. Critics say the White House focus is misdirected.
This article was written by Douglas Frantz, Josh Meyer, Sebastian Rotella and Megan K. Stack.

RABAT, Morocco — Authorities have made little progress worldwide in defeating Islamic extremists affiliated with Al Qaeda despite thwarting attacks and arresting high-profile figures, according to interviews with intelligence and law enforcement officials and outside experts.
   On the contrary, officials warn that the Bush administration's upbeat assessment of its successes is overly optimistic and masks its strategic failure to understand and combat Al Qaeda's evolution.
   Even before the Sept. 11 attacks, Al Qaeda was a loosely organized network, but core leaders exercised considerable control over its operations. Since the loss of its base in Afghanistan and many of those leaders, the organization has dispersed its operatives and reemerged as a lethal ideological movement.
   Osama bin Laden may now serve more as an inspirational figure than a CEO, and the war in Iraq is helping focus militants' anger, according to dozens of interviews in recent weeks on several continents. European and moderate Islamic countries have become targets. And instead of undergoing lengthy training at camps in Afghanistan, recruits have been quickly indoctrinated at home and deployed on attacks.

   The United States remains a target, but counter-terrorism officials and experts are alarmed by Al Qaeda's switch from spectacular attacks that require years of planning to smaller, more numerous strikes on softer targets that can be carried out swiftly with little money or outside help.
   The impact of these smaller attacks can be enormous. Bombings in Casablanca in May 2003 shook Morocco's budding democracy, leading to mass arrests and claims of abuse. The bombing of four commuter trains in Madrid in March contributed to the ouster of Spain's government and the withdrawal of its troops from Iraq.
   Officials say the terrorist movement has benefited from the rapid spread of radical Islam's message among potential recruits worldwide who are motivated by Al Qaeda's anti-Western doctrine, the continuing Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the insurgency in Iraq.
   The Iraq war, which President Bush says is necessary to build a safer world, has emerged as a new front in the battle against terrorism and a rallying point for a seemingly endless supply of young extremists willing to die in a jihad, or holy war.
   Intelligence and counter-terrorism officials said Iraq also was replacing Afghanistan and the Russian republic of Chechnya as the premier location for on-the-job training for the next phase of violence against the West and Arab regimes.
   "In Iraq, a problem has been created that didn't exist there before," said Judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere of France, dean of Europe's anti-terrorism investigators. "The events in Iraq have had a profound impact on the entirety of the jihad movement."
   Officials warn that radical Islam is fanning extremism in moderate Islamic countries such as Morocco, where the threat of terrorism has escalated with unexpected speed and ferocity, and re-energizing adherents in old hot spots such as Kenya and Yemen.
   In recent weeks, police thwarted an attack against a U.S. target in Morocco at the last minute, and concerns have increased sharply about the possibility of attacks in Kenya, U.S. and foreign officials say.
   The Madrid bombings and arrests in Britain this summer highlight Europe's emergence as a danger zone. Long used by extremists as a haven for recruitment and planning attacks elsewhere, the continent now is believed to be a target itself, especially countries backing the Iraq war.
   Al Qaeda's transformation since the destruction of its Afghan training camps nearly three years ago has been chronicled extensively. Arrests and killings of senior leaders and the shutting down of major avenues of financing further fragmented the network.
   Bush said at the Republican National Convention this month that more than three-quarters of Al Qaeda's leadership had been killed or captured.
   Among those arrested are Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, alleged planner of the Sept. 11 attacks, and Abu Zubeida, who oversaw the global network and helped recruit for the training bases in Afghanistan.
   Administration officials contend that information from interrogations helped prevent new attacks and unravel the network, leaving Al Qaeda too diminished to carry out a strike as complex as that of Sept. 11.
   Polls indicate that voters trust Bush to handle the fight against terrorism better than his Democratic challenger, Sen. John F. Kerry.
   A far less reassuring assessment of the condition of Islamic extremism emerged from the interviews with government intelligence officials, religious figures and counter-terrorism experts in the United States, Europe, the Middle East and North Africa.
   Although opinions are not unanimous and ambiguities remain, there is a consensus that Al Qaeda's leadership still exerts some control over attacks worldwide. However, veterans of the extremist movement have demonstrated a new autonomy in using the group's ideology and training techniques to launch attacks with little or no direct contact with the leaders.
   "Any assessment that the global terror movement has been rolled back or that even one component, Al Qaeda, is on the run is optimistic and most certainly incorrect," said M.J. Gohel, head of the Asia-Pacific Foundation, a London think tank. "Bin Laden's doctrines are now playing themselves out all over the world. Destroying Al Qaeda will not resolve the problem."
   U.S. and foreign intelligence officials said the Bush administration's focus on the "body count" of Al Qaeda leaders and its determination to stop the next attack meant comparatively few resources were devoted to understanding the threat.
   Michael Scheuer, a senior CIA official, said in an interview that agents wound up "chasing our tails" to capture suspects and follow up leads at the expense of countering the rapid spread of Al Qaeda and the international jihad.
   Scheuer, chief of the CIA's Bin Laden unit from 1996 to 1999, now plays a broader role in counter-terrorism at the agency. He is the author of "Imperial Hubris," a recent book that criticized U.S. counter-terrorism policy; the interview with him occurred before the CIA restricted his conversations with reporters.
   Another counter-terrorism expert who works as a consultant for the U.S. government and its allies said Scheuer's criticism had been echoed elsewhere.
   "I think they're deluged with the immediate stuff and I think their horizons are also very, very short-term," said the consultant, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "One of the biggest complaints I hear when talking to intelligence services around the world is that the Americans are so interested in the short term, preventing attacks and getting credit."
   Anti-terrorism experts who fault the administration's strategy and its optimism argue that concentrating on individual plots and operatives obscures the need to address the broader dimensions of Islamic extremism and makes it impossible to mount an effective defense.
   The Al Qaeda movement now appears to be more of an ideology than an organization, spreading worldwide among cells inspired by the Sept. 11 attacks.
   Adherents generally share a few basic principles: an overarching belief that Muslims must take up arms in a holy war against the Judeo-Christian West, a profound sense of indignation over the deaths of Muslims in Palestinian territories and Iraq, and a conviction that secular rulers should be replaced by Islamic governments.
   But beyond that, their concerns often splinter along the lines of geography, local politics and the intricacies of Islamic thought. A Moroccan is unlikely to pursue the same targets or even agree with the strategy of his Saudi counterparts. Saudis, in turn, are fighting bitterly among themselves over whether it's more important to battle the royal family at home or the Americans in Iraq.
   The inadequate response to the threat is not unique to Washington.
   European officials also see gaps in their policies, particularly when it comes to understanding the complexity of the situation, said Gijs de Vries, the counter-terrorism coordinator for the European Union.
   "Al Qaeda is increasingly being invoked as an ideological motivation of Islamic radicals," he said. "There is a type of diffuse jihadism, which on the one hand consists of loosely structured small cells and on the other hand ideology."

Shift to Smaller Strikes
   A new cadre of second-generation Al Qaeda commanders has compensated for the damage to the network by stepping up the pace of attacks with smaller strikes on soft targets.
   The strategy relies on a limited number of veteran operatives trained in Afghanistan who function with a high degree of autonomy. They recruit foot soldiers through mosques, local groups and the Internet, then provide on-site training in bomb-making and tactics.

   Senior counter-terrorism authorities in the U.S. and Europe say they are not certain how much central control is exercised over these independent operators — or even whether they are linked to one another in a formal manner.
   But officials said evidence indicated that attacks in Saudi Arabia, Morocco and Turkey during the last 16 months were part of a loosely coordinated pattern that could be traced to Bin Laden and his lieutenants.
   Based primarily on intercepted communications from Iran to Saudi Arabia by U.S. listening posts, U.S. and European officials said orders for the suicide bombings in the Saudi capital of Riyadh on May 12, 2003, came from an Al Qaeda fugitive in Iran.
   The officials said the most likely suspect was Saif Adel, a former Bin Laden bodyguard now believed to be Al Qaeda's military commander. But Western security officials said Adel was only one of numerous Al Qaeda figures granted haven by Iran's Revolutionary Guards. Iran denies that.
   Extremists behind a string of attacks in Saudi Arabia since then operate with a large degree of independence, but Saudi security officials said the radicals retained links with Al Qaeda leaders in Iran and elsewhere by telephone and courier.
   Authorities in Morocco and Europe said the go-ahead for the Casablanca suicide attacks on May 16, four days after the Riyadh bombings, was given at a meeting of Al Qaeda commanders in Istanbul, Turkey, in January 2003. They also said the young men who died carrying out the five nearly simultaneous bombings were recruited and trained by an Al Qaeda veteran.
   Turkish extremists who bombed two synagogues, the British Consulate and the headquarters of a London-based bank in Istanbul in November 2003, killing more than 60 people, received money and advice on targets from Al Qaeda and its associates, according to testimony this month in the trial of 69 suspects.
   One of the defendants, Adnan Ersoz, testified that he arranged a meeting in August 2001 in Afghanistan between Habib Akdas, the leader of the Turkish cell, and Mohammed Atef, also known as Abu Hafs Masri, a top Bin Laden lieutenant later killed in a U.S. airstrike in Afghanistan.
   He said that Akdas was promised money from Al Qaeda but that after Afghanistan's Taliban regime collapsed, the cell leader turned for financial help to Al Qaeda representatives in Iran and Syria, whom Ersoz did not identify. Akdas fled to Iraq immediately after the Istanbul bombings and participated in the kidnapping of several Turkish workers there, Turkish authorities said.
   These smaller strikes cost relatively little, even compared with the modest $500,000 price tag for Sept. 11, indicating that the network has adapted to the clampdown on its financing methods.
   Mohammed Bouzoubaa, Morocco's justice minister, said the bombings in Casablanca, which killed 45 people, cost $4,000.
   Top suspects in the Madrid bombings have long-standing ties to Al Qaeda cells in Spain, Morocco and elsewhere. Still, six months after the bombings, investigators have no evidence that the planners received instructions or money from outside for the attacks that killed 191 people.
   The methods used in Casablanca and Madrid illustrate what a senior European counter-terrorism official described as "the most frightening" scenario: local groups without previous experience, acting with minimal supervision from an interchangeable cast of Al Qaeda veterans.
   "By now we have no evidence, not even credible intelligence, that the Madrid group was steered, financed, organized from the outside," he said. "So that might be the biggest success of Bin Laden."
   In the past, Al Qaeda militants were mostly educated young men in their mid-20s and older who had strong religious convictions and middle-class backgrounds. They trained extensively at camps in Afghanistan and their missions were planned over months or years.
   Recent attackers were drawn from a larger pool of alienated young men, reflecting the wider tug of Al Qaeda's doctrine, Bin Laden's status as a hero to some Muslims and fury at American foreign policy.
   Some experts, like Richard Clarke, the former White House counter-terrorism chief, publicly blame the war in Iraq for strengthening the motivation of radical Islamic groups globally. Others still in governments around the world make the point privately, saying that the conflict in Iraq has broadened support for extremism.
   De Vries, the EU counter-terrorism chief, acknowledged only that there were differences over the impact of Iraq. "Public opinion in many countries has not been convinced that the war in Iraq has helped the war on terror as defined by some," he said.
   The bombers in Casablanca were uneducated slum dwellers between the ages of 20 and 24 with little previous involvement in extremism, religious figures and people who knew them say.
   The Moroccan immigrants who spearheaded the Madrid attacks were shopkeepers and drug dealers. They embraced a theology that justified their crimes as part of their jihad.
   The sense that an angry young man anywhere could become the next suicide bomber, the absence of training camps and only intermittent contact with any central command structure pose tough challenges for law enforcement.
   "Terrorist culture has been disseminated," said Pierre de Bousquet de Florian, director of France's intelligence agency. "Technical knowledge has spread."
   Even U.S. officials, most of whom are more optimistic than their foreign counterparts, acknowledged that there were too many blank spots for them to understand the full scope of the threat.
   "From what we have seen and learned, particularly in light of the recent arrests, we have made enormous strides in knocking out Al Qaeda," a senior counter-terrorism official in the Bush administration said. "That said, we believe there are operational people who have moved up, with operational expertise, and that there remains some sort of loose command and control structure."
   Among the mysteries is whether Bin Laden and his second-in-command, Ayman Zawahiri, still play operational roles. Another question is the extent of coordination between Al Qaeda's leadership and the attacks in Iraq.
   The role that Jordanian militant Abu Musab Zarqawi plays in Iraq has been cited repeatedly by the administration as evidence of an Al Qaeda-Iraq link, but many counter-terrorism officials said he had long operated independently.
   His activities in Iraq have boosted his status among Islamic extremists and led to what investigators suspect is an even greater independence from Bin Laden.
   Zarqawi's reach extends beyond the carnage in Iraq and makes his offshoot of Al Qaeda an urgent threat. As the former chief of a training camp in Afghanistan, he has alliances with militant groups from Chechnya to North Africa.
   European counter-terrorism officials blame him for several thwarted attacks in Europe and suspect that he helped plan the Casablanca and Istanbul bombings.
   Investigators believe that there are ties between suspects in the Madrid attacks and the Zarqawi network. They have turned up evidence of an operational and ideological axis that links fighters traveling to Iraq from Europe and North Africa — and raises the threat that they will bring the mayhem home with them.
   In June, Italian police arrested Rabei Osman Sayed Ahmed, an Egyptian suspected of playing a lead role in the Madrid attacks.
   According to transcripts of electronic eavesdropping, police also learned of Ahmed's involvement in a European network sending fighters to Iraq to carry out suicide bombings.
   "All my friends are dying, one after another," he said during a conversation in his Milan hide-out May 26. "I know so many who are ready. I tell you there are two groups ready for martyrdom. The first group leaves the 25th or 20th of next month for Iraq via Syria."
   French authorities opened an investigation Wednesday into a network involved in recruiting extremists and helping them get to Iraq, but so far the flow of such foreigners does not approach the thousands who went to Afghanistan before 2001.
   Still, European investigators are particularly concerned about the increasing movement of North Africans — some from Europe but most from their homelands — to fight in Iraq and what it means for the future.
   "Our fear is that they go and become a threat to our countries," said De Bousquet de Florian, the French intelligence chief. "We pay a great deal of attention because once these guys have gone to Iraq to train, they know how to use weapons and explosives. That's the first level: Iraq as a new Afghanistan, a Chechnya."
   Determining who is behind the attacks in Iraq is difficult. U.S. military and Iraqi authorities blame much of the violence on foreign fighters, and Saudis, Egyptians and other nationals have been seen saying farewell in videotapes before suicide bombings. A Saudi captured after a botched car bombing in Baghdad recently said he had been slipped across the border, given $200 and keys to a car and told to attack a military convoy.
   But some say pinning most of the suicide attacks on Zarqawi's network and foreign fighters in general ignores the insurgency's home-grown aspects and overlooks growing links between Iraqis and radical Islam.

Radical Islam Adapts
   The new model of Islamic terrorism was born May 16, 2003, in Sidi Moumen, a shantytown of 200,000 people on the outskirts of Casablanca. That day a band of unemployed young men from the neighborhood, most of whom lived on the same narrow street, carried out five nearly simultaneous attacks.
   The targets were in the heart of Casablanca: a Jewish community center, a Spanish restaurant and social club, a hotel, a Jewish cemetery and a Jewish-owned Italian restaurant. The death toll was 45, including 12 of the 14 bombers.
   Morocco's role in Islamic extremism previously had been as a way station for jihadis entering and leaving Europe, and investigators said the emergence of Moroccans as front-line operatives demonstrated the ability of radical Islam to adapt.
   In unraveling the Casablanca plot, Moroccan and foreign authorities discovered that the bombers had no previous ties to extremism, which meant spotting them in advance would have been almost impossible, even in a country where paid informants lurk in almost every neighborhood.
   Moroccan authorities identified Karim Mejatti, a Moroccan veteran of Afghanistan, as the person who recruited them and received a green light for the attacks in the meeting in Istanbul. Unlike his recruits, Mejatti is educated and spent time in the U.S. in the late 1990s. He remains a fugitive.

   On camping trips in the dusty hills outside Casablanca, Mejatti indoctrinated the men and taught them to make explosives, authorities said. Al Qaeda videos on making bombs with TATP, the group's trademark explosive, were later discovered in their homes. They rode to the attacks in taxis with homemade explosives stuffed into backpacks.
   "They did not need sophisticated equipment or means," said Bouzoubaa, the justice minister. "They made their own explosives."
   Mejatti recruited the men in November 2002, and authorities were struck by the speed with which he converted them into suicide bombers.
   Moroccan police foiled a number of follow-up attacks in other cities by cells formed by Mejatti and a handful of other graduates of Afghan camps, investigators said.
   "The thing about this kind of operation is that it could be repeated just about anywhere," said an Italian law enforcement official who investigated the European links to Casablanca.
   Spanish anti-terrorism police who visited Casablanca after the attacks said they were convinced the tactic could be replicated in Europe. The prediction came true 10 months later in Madrid.
   The involvement of Moroccans in the Madrid attack and evidence that it was linked to Casablanca sent shivers through the counter-terrorism community.
   Spain's leading anti-terrorism judge, Baltasar Garzon, testified before a government commission investigating the bombings that Morocco was home to as many as 100 cells linked to Al Qaeda. They pose Europe's biggest terrorist threat, he said.
   Other counter-terrorism officials said Garzon's figures might be too high, but they estimated that 400 to 500 Al Qaeda veterans returned to Morocco after the Taliban regime's collapse in Afghanistan.
   The officials said Moroccan extremists posed a unique danger because they could slip easily in and out of Europe and blend in with the immigrant population. Moroccans are the largest immigrant group in several European countries.
   Morocco prides itself on being a moderate country with virtually no history of terrorism, but the Casablanca attacks led to a massive crackdown that has drawn complaints from local and international human rights groups.
   More than 100 mosques have been closed and thousands of people rounded up and jailed. Family members and lawyers complained that detainees were abused and tortured.
   So far, about 1,000 people have been convicted of terrorism-related offenses; 14 have been sentenced to death, including the two surviving Casablanca bombers.
   Washington has provided tens of millions of dollars in aid to Morocco and deeper cooperation in law enforcement.
   In July, three FBI agents moved into the U.S. Embassy in Rabat to work with the Moroccans. A Navy officer was assigned to help monitor potential attacks on shipping in the Strait of Gibraltar.
   U.S. diplomats are on high alert in Morocco. Two planned attacks in recent months, including one on an American target, were stopped only hours before their execution, authorities in Rabat said.
   Police also discovered that a private security guard at the embassy was reporting diplomats' movements to an extremist group.
   Morocco's leaders are defensive about their country's new profile in the campaign against Islamic extremism. Senior officials argue that outsiders are trying to destabilize a country that is striving to be a model of moderation for the Arab world.
   Moroccans and officials of other Islamic countries agree that anger over U.S. policies in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict provides much of the motivation for the attacks.
   "If the Palestinian issue were settled, if Iraq were stable, 70% of the threats would disappear," said Bouzoubaa, the justice minister.
   But officials say they also recognize that not enough has been done to reach disaffected areas such as Sidi Moumen.
   In July, King Mohammed VI ordered new social programs, including the construction of 100 small mosques and 20 large ones to counter the spread of hard-line Islam.
   "We are very aware that we must fill the gap between what is good in Islam and the initiatives by outsiders, particularly in the poorer areas," said Ahmed Toufiq, the minister of Islamic affairs. "They were left to themselves too long."

Refuge for Extremists
   Even as new trouble spots emerge, eradicating known extremist sanctuaries has proved difficult, particularly in remote places out of the reach of government authority, such as parts of Yemen on the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula.
   After Al Qaeda bombed the U.S. destroyer Cole in Yemen in 2000, killing 17 American sailors, Washington helped train and equip Yemeni security forces and tried to persuade the government to do more to counter extremists.
   But diplomats say the country remains primarily a lawless place where forbidding terrain and intricate tribal codes provide an ideal nest for militants.

   Saudi and U.S. officials identified Yemen as the primary source of weapons and explosives for the Al Qaeda cells that have launched attacks in neighboring Saudi Arabia.
   "Yemen still has to be viewed as largely ungovernable," a senior U.S. counter-terrorism official said. "We sunk some money and time and effort into it, but we don't have much to show for it."
   Yemeni officials acknowledged in interviews that surface-to-air missiles, grenade launchers and other weapons remain widely available despite a crackdown on open-air arms bazaars.
   The mix of radicals and weapons is particularly potent along the Saudi border, which encompasses rugged mountains and remote desert where tribal leaders hold sway.
   "If somebody comes, he's going to pay for tribal protection," said Faisal Aburas, a sheik from the impoverished province of Al Jawf on the Saudi border.
   "Then it would look bad for a sheik to hand him in, even if he's a criminal, because it shows weakness."
   Abubakr al Qerbi, Yemen's foreign minister, denied that the country still harbored Al Qaeda veterans.
   "This is old information," he said, saying they were expelled in 1995 and again after the Cole bombing.
   But Hamood Abdulhamid Hitar, a Yemeni government official in charge of negotiating with extremists, said he was holding theological debates with hundreds of militants, including 107 suspected Al Qaeda loyalists.
   Yemen also links the Arabian Peninsula and the Horn of Africa. Somalia, where there is virtually no workable central government, is just an hour by boat across waterways that are essentially wide open.
   Farther down the coast in Kenya, concerns focus on a group run by Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, an Al Qaeda operative with a $25-million bounty on his head. Mohammed, a native of Comoros off the southeastern coast of Africa, was indicted in the United States on charges of orchestrating the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. He also is suspected of organizing the 2002 attacks on Israeli targets in Mombasa, Kenya.
   Today, U.S. and other Western security officials say they believe he is planning another round of attacks, possibly on the new U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, the Kenyan capital.
   "Al Qaeda is preparing for another sensational attack against Western targets in Kenya," a Western security official said. "Two attacks planned for Kenya were exposed during the past year."
   U.S. officials suspect that the hunt for Mohammed has driven him into a remote part of northern Kenya, but they say he remains in touch with Al Qaeda leaders through courier and computer.
   "I consider him to be a high-value target and a real player in the global Al Qaeda operation," said a senior U.S. official in Washington.

U.S. Still a Target
   U.S. and foreign intelligence and counter-terrorism officials warned that the United States remained the prime target of radical Islam.
   "They have overcome the shock of the Afghanistan war and very likely they are preparing another large-scale attack, possibly on a U.S. target," the senior European counter-terrorism official said. "There are good reasons to be on alert."

   (BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX) [quotes from various authorities -psb]
A Changing Roster
   Despite the arrests of several high-profile leaders, anti-terrorism experts believe that Al Qaeda has managed to reemerge as a lethal ideological movement. Dispersed operatives — loosely organized or acting alone — recruit and quickly train local terrorist groups for small but deadly attacks.

A Terrorist Evolution
   In operations such as the 1998 U.S. Embassy bombings in Africa and the Sept. 11 attacks, Al Qaeda leaders exercised considerable control over operations. Today, Al Qaeda appears to have become more ideology than network, spreading globally among cells inspired by Sept. 11.
Marking Terror's Changes
   'In Iraq, a problem has been created that didn't exist there before. The events in Iraq have had a profound impact on the entirety of the jihad movement.'
Judge Jean-Louis Brugulere, French anti-terrorism investigator.
   'Any assessment that the global terror movement has been rolled back or that even one component, Al Qaeda, is on the run is optimistic and most certainly incorrect. Bin Laden's doctrines are now playing themselves out all over the world. Destroying Al Qaeda will not resolve the problem.'
M.J. Gohel, head of the Asia-Pacific Foundation, a London think tank.
   'Once these guys have gone to Iraq to train, they know how to use weapons and explosives. That's the first level: Iraq as a new Afghanistan, a Chechnya.'
Pierre de Bousquet de Florian, director of Frances intelligence agency.
   'Al Qaeda is increasingly being invoked as an ideological motivation of Islamic radicals.'
Gijs de Vries, counter-terrorism coordinator for the European Union.
   'By now we have no evidence, not even credible intelligence, that the Madrid group was steered, financed, organized from the outside. So that might be the biggest success of Bin Laden.'
A senior European counter-terrorism official.
Frantz reported from Morocco and Istanbul; Meyer from Washington; Rotella from Paris; and Stack from Sana, Yemen.

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Page 49
Sep 23rd 2004 The Economist Magazine
Southern Africa's land
Dish it out!

A new report frets about blood and soil

“WHAT'S cooking in Zimbabwe is a wake-up call for South Africa,” says Peter Kagwanja, a Kenyan who runs the southern African branch of the International Crisis Group (ICG), a think-tank based in Brussels. Zimbabwe botched land reform, partly by letting whites keep the best farms for too long, thereby making them easy targets for a demagogue, Robert Mugabe. South Africa, says the ICG in a report just out, runs the same risk. A few thousand whites still own about 85% of the farmland, barely less than in 1994, when a mainly black government came to power. Such inequality is bound to lead to anger and instability, says the ICG.

South Africa's government has some sensible plans for shifting land ownership but has spent little of the required money. Unless it were to resort to mass confiscation à la Mugabe, it has virtually no hope of doubling black ownership of the land to 30% by 2015, as it promises. Violence against white farmers, including murder, continues apace: the commercial farmers' union says 388 of them have been killed since 2001, 54 this year. White farms are still occasionally invaded. South Africa looks stable now, says Mr Kagwanja, but for the first ten years or so after independence so did Zimbabwe.

South Africa, in any case, is doing a bit better. Since 1994 some 3.2m hectares (7.9m acres) of farmland, 2% of the total, has passed into black hands. It has been a slow business: new land-ownership laws had to be passed first. But things should now speed up. The constitution guarantees full compensation for owners. The police have usually managed to chase away those who have invaded white farms.

The ICG may overdo the dangers. If frustration over land ownership did boil over, the impact on South Africa would be weaker. Its economy, unlike Zimbabwe's, long ago stopped depending on agriculture, which accounts for only 3.4% of GDP and provides only a tenth of South Africa's people with a living. The rural poor rely more on welfare or remittances. A South African demagogue would do better whipping up anger over the lack of urban jobs, not over farmland.

The ICG's glum warnings are more relevant to Namibia, where a populist president, Sam Nujoma, who admires Mr Mugabe, is threatening to grab big farms from some whites—“snakes” who, he says, mistreat their black workers. Namibia's economy is dominated, as was Zimbabwe's, by white-owned farms. While promising whites compensation, Mr Nujoma wants to boost his ruling party before a general election in November, when he is due to step aside in favour of Hifikepunye Pohamba, his ageing minister for land.

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17 September 2004 Science Magazine
Signposts to the Essence of Language

Michael Siegal

In one of the most dramatic incidents of the French Revolution, the Abbé Sicard, director of the school for the deaf in Paris, failed to take an oath of civil allegiance. As described by Lane (1), he was imprisoned and sentenced to die. However, Sicard, who was devoted to establishing communication through sign language, was rescued through the pleas of his deaf students. They petitioned the National Assembly for his release, testifying that without him they would be like animals.

Deaf people have fiercely resisted century-old attempts to prevent them from using their own sign language for communication (2). They argue that sign language is equivalent to spoken language and that users of a sign language should be accorded the same rights as users of a spoken language. The origin and core properties of sign language, however, remain to be elucidated. On page 1779 of this issue, Senghas et al. (3) address this lack of information in their landmark study of three cohorts of deaf Nicaraguan signers. Their research is based on the passion for sign language of several generations of deaf children attending a special education program set up in 1977 in the Nicaraguan capital, Managua. In the 30 years since the program opened, the children have created a completely new language--Nicaraguan Sign Language (NSL)--that has continued to expand and mature and has been passed on from one group of children to the next (see the photographs). There are about 800 deaf NSL signers, ranging in age from 4 to 45 years. NSL is one of hundreds of distinctive sign languages in existence around the world (see the figure). The creation of NSL has allowed unique insights into the essence of language--both sign and spoken.

Segmentation and sequencing are considered vital core properties of all languages. In their investigation, Senghas et al. explicitly analyzed the segmentation and sequencing in NSL of elements such as motion. The

Fluency among the youngest. Nicaraguan children communicate through a sign language (NSL) that they developed over a 30-year period. The opening of an education program in 1977 in Managua (the capital of Nicaragua) brought together a community of deaf children for the first time in that country. The children developed their own sign language, which evolved from nonlinguistic gestures to a full grammatical language that continues to mature. The youngest children in the NSL community are the most fluent signers, having learned the language most recently.

[figures not available]
Signing across the world. Examples of sign language alphabets: American, Swedish, and British. British sign language is not readily intelligible to users of ASL and, unlike ASL or Swedish sign language, uses a two-handed alphabet (13). The geographical distribution of sign as well as spoken languages reflects the input of nonnative languages introduced across cultures. In developing countries, deaf people may use the sign language of educators and missionaries from elsewhere in the world. For example, some deaf individuals in Madagascar use Norwegian sign language, whereas children in Nicaragua have created their own sign language.

authors did this by showing animated cartoon videos to three cohorts of NSL signers of different ages and to a sample of hearing Spanish-speaking Nicaraguans. In one of these videos, a cat swallows a bowling ball and wobbles (manner of movement) as it descends (path of movement) down a steep road. The first cohort of Nicaraguan signers, who were the initial builders of NSL, represented manner and path information simultaneously in a single movement of the hand, much as the Spanish speakers did in the gestures that accompanied their speech. In contrast, the second and third cohorts of NSL signers overwhelmingly produced sequential hand movements involving strings of segmented manner-only and path-only elements. Such segmentation and sequence elements can be embedded within other signs (phrases) to build a hierarchical organization of information that forms an elaborate communication system. Intriguingly, NSL has evolved from a system of nonlinguistic gestures into a full sign language with its own grammar that continues to expand and mature. Consequently, because they have learned the language most recently, the youngest children in the NSL community are the most fluent signers.

Senghas et al. observe that segmenting and sequencing depend on combining elements of language within a hierarchical structure that permits the generation of an infinite number of messages. The mechanisms through which segmentation and sequencing are achieved in NSL challenge the position that language evolves through cultural transmission. These mechanisms may have evolved through learning abilities that either shape language or have been shaped by language. Clearly, deaf Nicaraguan children have created their own language independently of exposure to a preexisting language structure.

Regarding the part played by learning in the shaping of language, the results of the Nicaraguan study are consistent with research that underscores the spontaneous development of language in both hearing and deaf children. Hearing infants at 2 months of age prefer speech to nonspeech sounds (4). Profoundly deaf infants of deaf parents display manual babbling using a reduced set of the phonetic units in American Sign Language (ASL) in a manner analogous to the vocal babbling of hearing infants exposed to a spoken language (5). In the first few years of development, virtually all children--whether hearing children exposed to a spoken language or deaf children exposed to the sign language of their deaf parents--acquire the grammar of their native language.

The structure of spontaneous gestural communication ("home signing") of American deaf children resembles more closely that of deaf children in Taiwan than that of their own hearing mothers (6). Language involves "language-making" skills--segmenting words into morphemes and sentences into words, setting up a system of contrasts in morphology, and constructing syntactic structures--that do not require a language model to be activated. Language is so resilient that it can be triggered by exposure to a linguistic input that is highly limited and fragmented--an indication of the fundamental innateness of grammar (7, 8).

Early language exposure shapes linguistic ability, in that those who become deaf after having acquired spoken English appear to be more proficient in learning ASL than those born profoundly deaf with little linguistic experience before exposure to ASL at school. In contrast, deaf people who are exposed early to ASL are able to learn spoken English better than those who have been exposed late (9). But do such language-shaped learning mechanisms stop there? Can they be extended to allow or facilitate the acquisition of, for example, mathematics or propositions about the beliefs held by the minds of others? One question to be resolved is whether language entails a learning mechanism that instantiates mathematical reasoning, given that language and mathematics share similarities in syntactic structure (10). Another question is whether the syntactic structure of language allows us to entertain propositions--for example, "John thought that Mary knew the cookies were in the cupboard"--that permit insight into the false beliefs of others, or whether it is early access to conversations that alert children to the notion that beliefs can differ from reality (11). Also, it is not clear whether the innate structure of language allows processing of causal and counterfactual reasoning.

In this light, language can be regarded as mandatory to human development with widespread, although as yet undetermined, implications for the nature of cognition. Without access to language, our communication would rely on iconic representations that are within the grasp of nonhuman primates and even pigeons (12). The Nicaraguan research highlights segmenting and sequencing as core linguistic properties that develop innately and not as a result of cultural transmission. Such innateness confers humanity on both deaf and hearing people through language creation and immersion.

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September 19, 2004 Los Angeles Times
A Meal That's the Real Deal (With Apologies to Dr. Seuss)
By Jim Sollisch [creative director at a Cleveland advertising agency]

I like yogurt.
I like to eat it in a bowl.
I like to eat it with a roll.
I will eat it for a snack.
I will eat it on my back

I will not, however, eat yogurt from a tube. That's right. Yogurt is now available in a squeeze tube. Like toothpaste. Or oil paint. Or foot cream. Apparently eating at a place other than a table is big doings in America, the land of the free and the home of the harried. Consider this fact: Americans eat 19% of their meals in their cars, according to research from John Nihoff, a professor at the Culinary Institute of America.
Many of these cars now have more cup holders than my kitchen cupboard has cups. According to Consumer Reports, some models of minivans now come with 12 cup holders. Some are even rectangular to hold juice boxes.

I like juice.
I like it in a glass.
I like it when I relax.
I will drink it with a fox.
I will not drink it from a box

Here's a fact even more nauseating than the percentage of meals we eat in cars: 72% of your fellow Americans admit to eating portable convenience foods at home. The list includes single-portion servings of soup in sippy cups, macaroni and cheese in push- up dispensers, frozen peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. It also includes, believe it or not, various items on a stick. Like hot dogs and scrambled eggs.

I like scrambled eggs.
I will eat them cooked with cheese.
I will eat them when I please.
But I will not eat them on a stick.
Not even a single lick.

The idea is that the less time we spend preparing food, the more time we save. As if there's a time savings bank or online account into which we can deposit our stolen minutes. Defrost PB & J instead of preparing PB & J — deposit 1.5 minutes. But even if we could really save time, what are we saving it for? Unfortunately, so we can work more. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 75% of full-time workers work more than 40 hours a week. Today, the American worker spends 163 more hours a year on the job than he or she did in 1969 — the equivalent of one work month.
I take a different approach. Instead of eating faster so I can save more time for work, I take shortcuts at work so I have more time to prepare food.
At our house, we still use bowls instead of tubes. We drink juice out of glasses, not boxes, and at the risk of appearing hopelessly out of date, we use antique utensils such as forks and spoons. We have five teenagers, and we expect them to sit down to an old-fashioned family dinner every night. I believe in the family dinner. You could say I am obsessed with the family dinner. If it were an object, I would keep it in a safe. If I had been a founding father, I would have enshrined it in the Constitution.

I like the family dinner.
I like to eat it every night;
I like to swallow every bite.
I will not eat it on a stick.
I think that's really sick

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the article below has just a tad more 'tree hugging' about it (here the 'sea' and 'people') than i prefer to get into, but it does identify still another aspect of our thus-far 'intellectual evolution' (overpopulation, manifest aristocracy etc). be that what it be, for those of you interested, i have finally managed to get out a major rework (but still in process :-) of Gross Demographic Changes Attaching Sustainable Resource Use (The Failure of 'Sustainable Resource Use' by 2040-50) which i strongly recommend (-just don't be put off by the opening abstract alone).

ps - the whole article is much longer (and HORRIFIC), but downloadable from National Resources Defense Council.

FALL 2004
National Resources Defense Council
The Hunt for Red Gold
by Mark Jacobson

On Central America's Mosquito Coast, young men plunge into the abyss with defective equipment to capture dwindling stores of lobster. A tale of U.S. appetites, human misery, and one stubborn American's crusade to bring salvation.

[Page 1 of 6]
If Joseph Conrad had witnessed the scene, he might have set The Heart of Darkness in Central America rather than Central Africa. Scores of Miskito Indians, lobster divers -- buzos de langostas -- thronged against the 10-foot-high iron gate at the foot of the pier at Puerto Cabezas, a Nicaraguan fishing town 60 miles south of the Honduras border. Ratty bedrolls slung across their backs, many half-drunk or stoned, the buzos pushed ahead in the late afternoon sunlight, hoisting yard-long metal lobster- hunting spears called barillas over their heads like the weapons of an attacking medieval force. The descendants of indigenous tribes and escaped African slaves, and now attired in soiled T-shirts of global celebrity (Osama Bin Laden: Dead or Alive is closing in on all-time champ Air Jordan), the Miskitos were looking for a
boat. They wanted to sign on with one of the dozen or so lobster-fishing vessels tied up to the rickety quarter-mile-long pier.

On the other side of the iron fence, wearing starched white shirts, holding clipboards and canvas bags filled with money, were the sacabuzos (literally, "fetch a diver"), the middlemen of the lobster trade. The sacabuzos scanned their lists and called out names. One by one, the chosen buzos were allowed to pass through the rusted gate by bored soldiers carrying AK-47s. The divers signed a sacabuzo's pad and were given 800 córdobas, about $50, their advance for the upcoming journey.

Few buzos bothered to count the money. If they'd been shorted 20 córdobas or 100, it wouldn't make much difference. During their upcoming two weeks at sea, much of it to be spent with antiquated scuba tanks strapped to their backs as they breathed through half-clogged regulators 140 feet below the surface of the hauntingly blue Caribbean, there would be little opportunity to use the cash. Besides, at close quarters on a Nicaraguan lobster-diving boat, there is every chance a buzo's advance will end up in someone else's pocket. Rather than risk it, the divers handed their small grubstake back through the iron gate to their women. Some were wives or girlfriends who needed the money to keep households functioning, however minimally, until the divers' return. But just as many of the women were prostitutes, thin and bony, come to collect for the previous night's services.

Lobster fishing is a $50 million industry in Nicaragua and Honduras, by far the most lucrative business (some would say the only business) on the legendarily remote Mosquito Coast. And like any industry, it has its costs. First, as with most resources packaged as products, lobster stocks are finite.

The catch has been declining since the mid-1990s as a result of overfishing, which has not only depleted the lobster population but also wrought severe damage upon seagrasses and coral reefs. The shallows, as they are called, have been fished out. Old- timers talk of days when all one had to do was wade a few feet into the water to snare a lobster. Now, three decades after the arrival of the scuba tank, divers on the Mosquito Coast typically descend to 120 feet before seeing lobsters. Every year, with more processing plants and boats in operation to meet growing demand, the divers go deeper to find the remaining lobsters.

Choose to ignore it or not, we -- the vast consumer we -- have forged a highly nuanced social contract with these men. In the case of Miskito buzos, the terms of the contract, traced in greasy streaks of drawn butter and garlic, are exercised whenever we spread a happy-face plastic bib across our chest and begin to tear into the oh-so-sweet meat of those tempting lobster tails.

Panulirus argus and Panulirus guttatus, the two main species of lobster caught in the waters off Central America, cut a far less imposing figure than the three- and four-pound, big-clawed decapods (Homarus americanus) caught by hearty New England seamen and tossed live into boiling cauldrons to be eaten by Maine tourists. Clawless and smaller, the "spiny," or "rock," Carib-bean lobster rarely finds its way to a table intact. The animal's head is almost always chopped off before it gets to look its prospective eater in the eye, leaving only the tail. The humble Central American lobster is most often sliced and diced, thrown into salads and bowls of bisque. It is also a staple on the menus of corporate "casual dining" emporiums -- Red Lobster and the like -- where the public's craving for boiled and broiled crustacean is sated within a stone's throw of the freeway exit ramp.

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american 'lifestyle and the quality of life': 'cheap natural resources and labor': let them breed; we'll use what we need-

September 6, 2004 Los Angeles Times
The Cliff Dwellers
High above the Pacific, Jose de Jesus Torres and his friends live at the mercy of the sea as they wait for another opportunity to enter the U.S.
By Richard Marosi, Times Staff Writer

TIJUANA — A life capsized has stranded Jose de Jesus Torres atop these craggy cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Waves crash and dolphins dance as this modern-day cliff dweller waits for another opportunity to cross the U.S. border.
   Torres spends his days slinging a fishing line into the frothy sea. His friend, Orlando Bernal, sits on a rock reading a dogeared Bible. Walking atop a 30-foot wall of rocks and sand on a recent day, Torres pointed to a desolate beach far below.
   "This is my backyard," he said. Then Torres turned to look at the rugged coastline stretching north to the border. "And this is my frontyard."
   Torres and his friends are floaters — like possibly thousands of others biding their time in Tijuana — waiting until the summer cools to arrange border crossings over the mountains or across the desert. Though a thriving lodging industry caters to Tijuana's gente de paso — people passing through — those without money usually end up living on the streets and in alleys or sometimes on the cliffs offering views of the San Diego skyline.    Earlier this summer, Torres and Bernal were deported from California, where they lived for more than a decade and had earned enough money as construction and restaurant workers for one-bedroom apartments and hamburgers, with enough left over to send to relatives in Mexico.

   Now they live at the mercy of the sea along this scenic but dangerous stretch of coast just south of Tijuana, called El Vigia, which local fishermen and residents say has long provided a refuge for those with nowhere else to go. The area is cut off from the city by steep walls of wave-battered boulders and dirt streets patrolled by stray dogs.
   By night, the friends lie under the stars on a rock shelf above the ocean, lulled to sleep by the lapping surf and the howls of sea lions. Some nights they string their blankets as makeshift tents. By day, they fish or scour the caverns that pock the cliffs, searching for mussels or crabs.
   The men, whose beards have grown long and scruffy, leave solitary footprints in the sand. They watch the frolicking dolphins and fall asleep under pink sunsets.
   But the setting is precarious. One slip on the jagged rocks could send a man tumbling to his death.
   And the men are always hungry. Torres, a 29-year-old who shields his face from the sun with a blue cap, has shed 20 pounds since he started fishing for food using a line weighted with spark plugs.
   When a row of fins suddenly pierces the greenish-blue waters, he knows lunch will have to wait. "The dolphins are also hungry and also have to eat," he said.
   "Hopefully, they'll swim away soon and leave some fish for us."
   Tijuana can be an inhospitable place for migrants unless they can afford housing or pay human smuggling rings to put them up at three-star hotels or fleabag motels in the red-light district.
   Recent deportees from the U.S. are especially vulnerable. Their clothes are often dirty and frayed and police often consider them vagrants or criminals. Many don't have the Mexican identification documents necessary to qualify for jobs.
   "They're strangers in their own country," said Victor Clark Alfaro, director of Tijuana's Binational Center for Human Rights. "Without ID, they can't work. They don't know anybody and, culturally, they are more familiar with the U.S."
   Torres, who speaks fluent English, said he, Bernal and another cliff-dwelling friend, Felipe Gonzalez, moved to the coast in part to escape police harassment. Torres said he had lived in the U.S. for 10 years, most recently working at a construction job in San Diego, when he was arrested for drinking in public. The next thing he knew, he was deported to Tijuana, a city he barely knew.
   He assumes his girlfriend took all of his belongings, which included a 1979 Cadillac. "I lost everything I had just for one beer," said Torres, whose hometown is Guadalajara.
   Torres tried hiking back to California through the mountains north of Tecate, but was caught twice by U.S. Border Patrol agents.
   He found a refuge on the cliffs, where he met Bernal, 30, and Gonzalez, 44. Bernal said he had been deported from San Francisco after being arrested for driving while intoxicated. Gonzalez said he had left the U.S. to visit his ailing sister in his home state of Guerrero.
   Like Torres, both men had lived in America for more than five years and could not find work in Tijuana because they didn't have their Mexican identification documents. To obtain the IDs, they would have to travel to their home cities in Mexico's interior, which they could not afford to do.
   They have found construction work around Tijuana, but it usually doesn't last more than a few days.
   Waiting to cross, their lives now turn on the tides.
   The men rise at 2 a.m. and rappel down on a thin steel cable to a seaweed-strewn beach below, a lone flashlight their only source of illumination. It's low tide, so the receding waves expose a cavern filled with boulders coated with mussels, which they pluck into pails. They reach under the rocks searching for crabs.
   Most afternoons find them balancing on rocks, swinging their mussel-baited hooks into the sea. Their scarred hands have been slashed from the fishing lines and crabs that tear at their skin.
   The sea is bountiful here, and many local fishermen regularly reel in large catches of grouper, sardines and rock bass. But the three friends lack nets and fishing poles. They are lucky to catch one fish.
   They cook their catch on a tiny grill over a fire fueled with sagebrush, strips of wood and plastic bottles they find along the rocks. They sell some of their mussels as bait to fishermen and walk 30 minutes to a store to buy an onion or tomato, which they stir with a stick into a pot of mussels and crabs.
   They rely on one another: Each man's catch is thrown into the community pot, and they share their meager water supplies.
   Torres likes to whistle Mexican tunes or lie on his blanket and read about glamorous lives in People magazine. Bernal leafs through the Bible, which he says he doesn't fully comprehend.
   Gonzalez never tires of fishing. A short, wiry man, he fished for 10 hours straight on a recent day, stopping only after the rocks stripped away the spark plugs on his fishing line.
   That night, the men curl under their blankets without eating dinner, but Gonzalez has not lost faith in the sea.
   "Tomorrow is another day," he says. "Maybe one of these days, God willing, I'll cross the border. But for now, I'm OK here. I feel good fishing with my friends."
   Torres, meanwhile, gazes at the lights of downtown San Diego twinkling in the distance from his cliff-top perch. His old life was only 15 miles away, but he feels separated by an ocean.
   "Es una vida pesada," he says. "It's a hard life."

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We are nowhere as advanced, intellectually or 'civilizationally', as we think we are; we are, rather, only a single life-form on this planet, and 'several' only by circumstantiality of religion, ethnicity, political/economic aristocracy and other philosophical bullshit. Why do the 'Darfur's go on? -to get into that bag of shit is to 'own' it as a colony, and who, what country, wants to so indenture itself or is even capable of doing so into some necessary next level of intellectual evolution? -certainly not the US (Afghanistan, Iraq anyone?) -a better federated europe perhaps, but those nations are not, themselves, a 'single life-form' yet.

Consider further, how much of our general christian/jewish-muslim troubles might have been alleviated (we learn by experiment, whether we think so or not) if Israel had 'magnanimously' declared the 6-day war 'a mistake' and left the West Bank in Palestinian hands instead of (de_facto) 'colonizing it into the promised land'. Chechnya, a Kurdistan, Kosovo et cetera? -it is my general opinion that granting independence is more expeditious in the long run than continuing war or terrorist operations: the lesson eventually learned is that we need each other -rarely more than the generation of an administration in time.


September 6, 2004 Los Angeles Times
New Atrocities Reported Throughout Darfur
Sudanese refugees tell of Arab militia attacks on villages. A record of victims is lost, along with lives, in a mosque set ablaze.
By Robyn Dixon, Times Staff Writer

KALMA CAMP, Sudan — When the mosque at Yassin village was burned by Arab militias more than a week ago, there was no way to save four frail old men who died in the flames.
   A list of 485 dead from the surrounding area, painstakingly collected by local people over two months, burned in the mosque too, village leaders said.
   Some survivors of the latest atrocities in the south Darfur region have trickled into the Kalma camp for displaced persons outside Nyala in recent days. Aid officials report that about 1,000 families — more than 5,000 people — are still making their way to the camp.    The attacks mirror violence by Arab militias throughout the Darfur region, which have caused 1.2 million people to flee their villages since last year. The U.N. has described it as the world's worst humanitarian crisis, estimating that between 30,000 and 50,000 have died.
   Arab militias have attacked Yassin, about 30 miles east of Nyala, four times since the beginning of July. Dozens of people took refuge in the mosque toward the end of August, but in the final attack, the militias torched it and the village. Attacks continued for three days, and 60 people were

killed, said one village leader, Mahmoud Adam Isak.
   Isak, 38, had to bury his baby daughter Friday when he arrived in Kalma.
   He fled Yassin with his wife and 13 children in early July, and they hid in the forest outside the village with about 70 families.
   But they were attacked again. They fled to a nearby village, then to another, but week after week the Arab militias swept on, ravaging the settlements one by one, killing men and kidnapping girls, he said.
   Isak's family was sheltering in Ladok village, near Yassin, eight days ago when they were attacked again.
   The family fled at night and was on the road five days. His 9-month-old daughter, weak with malnutrition, died the day the family reached the camp.
   Isak said the attackers were Arab tribal militias, known locally as janjaweed. He said there was a big base of about 2,000 Arab militiamen in Assalaya, east of Nyala.
   "They have horses and guns, and some of them have cars," he said.    Another Yassin resident, Mikail Abdullah Hamad, 52, said: "We thought it would be safe in the mosque."
   But he described havoc as the building was set ablaze. No one could rescue the four old men, who could not walk.
   "I have 21 in my family. My only thought was to save them," Hamad said.
   He and others had worked collecting the names of all the people killed in villages around Yassin, sending messengers by donkey or cart to collect information after each attack. The number could not be independently verified.

   "There was no way to save the list when the mosque burned," he said.
   Hamad listed other villages that were attacked, including Hijalij, Um Hashim, Abu Albishari and Ladok.
   Yassin's population of 7,000 has scattered, many fleeing to the town of Muhajariya, east of Nyala. The French humanitarian organization Solidarites reported last week that there were 29,000 displaced people in Muhajariya and described the water and sanitation situation as dire.
   After the second attack on Yassin in July, Adam Ismail, 35, packed up the goods from his small street stall onto a cart, took his two wives and seven children and fled. He did not get far.
   His wife, Mohassin Mohammed, 20, watched as militiamen gave chase, shot him to death and killed her 4-year-old son.    Rauda Abdullah, 25, his other wife, saw the fighters grab Nasrine, her 3-year-old daughter. She stood in anguished silence as they carried off the screaming, crying girl. She has not seen her since.
   "I didn't make a sound. There was nothing I could do. She was weeping and crying, and I felt sick inside," she said. "They saw her pale color, so they thought she was an Arab. They took her because of her color."
   The conflict in Darfur has pitted Arab militias — often lighter-skinned — against black tribes including the Fur, Massalit and Zaghawa people.
   In south Darfur, security on the roads has deteriorated sharply in the past

week, with four incidents of vehicles of aid workers and journalists being shot at or robbed. The U.N. suspended travel in south Darfur for one day Friday.
   A U.N. report Sunday said attacks in the north Darfur region had increased sharply. Up to 4,000 people fled their homes in recent days after attacks on Zam Zam village, about 100 miles north of here, said the report.
   There were smaller attacks on the villages of Thur and Golol in south Darfur, with shops looted and three people killed in recent days. Another attack in Ishma, near Kalma, was reported two days ago, but there was no information on casualties.
   A report to the U.N. Security Council last week said the Sudanese government had failed to stop attacks or disarm most militias and called for African Union monitors to be given a broader mandate to investigate abuses. U.S. officials strongly criticized the report's finding that there was no evidence of government involvement in recent attacks.
   Human rights groups have called for U.N. sanctions against Sudan, but there is opposition from some Security Council members, including Russia and China.
   In a move designed to keep pressure on Sudan, however, the European Union is drawing up sanctions, including a ban on oil trade, for possible future use. The U.S. has had sanctions against Sudan since 1997.

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September 4, 2004 Los Angeles Times
Riding on Ropes and Dreams

Southern California is home to some of the top competitors in Mexican charreria, or rodeo. Its popularity is a measure of immigrant success.
By Sam Quinones, Times Staff Writer

Ramiro Gurrola of Hawaiian Gardens is one of the best riders, or charros, in Mexican rodeo. But when the chute opened one blistering Sunday this summer, the bull he was riding inexplicably collapsed, like a boxer taking a dive.    Midway through the regional Mexican rodeo championships in Sacramento, Gurrola was in fourth place, fighting a bad streak of charro luck.
   The belief in charro luck rules the world of Mexican rodeo, known as charreria. In a distinctly Mexican view of life, talent takes a back seat to destiny. A lazy bull, a slow horse or a rainstorm can defeat even the best-trained cowboy.
   Charro luck had foiled Gurrola before. Three years in a row, he'd failed to advance to the charreria world championship in Mexico. Yet each loss had pushed him to practice harder.
   The next event that afternoon in Sacramento was las manganas, the most difficult in Mexican rodeo. The cowboy performs rope tricks and then tries to lasso the front legs of a galloping mare. Points are scored for elegance and creativity.

   Few cowboys work harder at it than Gurrola, 25. Like a jazz musician, he spends hours a day riffing on his rope, hoping for the accidents and mistakes that lead to new tricks. He watches videos of his rivals. Lying in bed at night, he imagines new ways of making the rope dance.
   "If you want to be good at charreria, you have to be good at the rope," he says.
   So as he donned his sombrero, shouldered his rope and walked into the arena, Gurrola was losing badly, but he wasn't afraid.
   In the last few years, Southern California has emerged as a center of traditional Mexican rodeo. Leading Mexican American businessmen are sponsoring charro teams and building rodeo arenas. Three trick-roping schools have opened. The number of officially recognized charro teams has nearly doubled, to 65.
   California now ranks fourth in the world in the number of sanctioned teams, behind the Mexican states of Jalisco, Hidalgo and the state of Mexico. Most of California's riders are Mexican Americans carrying on a tradition brought here by their immigrant parents.
   In 2002, the three best Mexican rodeo teams came to Los Angeles and were whipped by upstart U.S.-born charros.
   One of the best of them is Gurrola, a 1996 graduate of Artesia High School. Gurrola is a shy, lanky man who becomes a general when he climbs atop a horse. Though 6 foot 3, he is known in the world of charreria as Ramirito — Little Ramiro — named for his father and his grandfather, patriarch of a charro clan in the Mexican state of Zacatecas.
   Gurrola pursues charreria with a puritanical devotion. He avoids beer — rare for a man drenched in rural Mexican culture. He hasn't married because
raising a family would cut into his practice time. He can't remember a weekend when he did something unrelated to horses or charreria.
   That a boy from the L.A. suburbs could grow up to be one of the charro world's budding stars illustrates how Mexican wide swaths of Southern California have become. It also shows how poor immigrants found in the U.S. the means to realize their rodeo dreams. Here, a sport that in Mexico was the preserve of the privileged has become a measure of blue-collar immigrant success, a new twist on the American Dream.
   The lesson in Gurrola's story is that a working man's son can grow up in Southern California to be the great Mexican cowboy his father wanted to be.

A Son's Dream
   Gurrola's grandfather was one of the best trick-ropers in Zacatecas. When he had to decide whether to sell a milk cow or a good charro horse, he sold the cow. His son dreamed of being a great charro too. But poverty forced him to leave his horses and head to California in 1971.
   Then 17, the son found a job in construction and rented a house in Hawaiian Gardens. Ramiro Gurrola Sr. was part of the first wave of Mexican immigrants to come directly to Los Angeles, bypassing the agricultural work that had drawn earlier generations.
   These newcomers were mostly from ranching states in central Mexico, where charreria is almost a religion. It is also expensive. A charro needs a good horse, feed, a saddle and a way to get himself and his horse to the rodeo. Poor rancher youths had to compete on plow horses.
   In Southern California, charreria was barely known. But the region's economy offered what Mexico could not: money to buy good horses.

   Some people viewed charreria as old-fashioned, even corny, with riders wearing old-style sombreros. But over the years, a charro subculture took root in L.A. Some devotees bought horses before they bought cars. Many seemed to work solely to support their charreria habit. They made sure their children learned ropes and horses. They took them to Mexico to show them authentic charreria.
   Few were as consumed by rodeo as Ramiro Gurrola Sr. He saved $5,000 and could buy either a horse or a house. He bought the horse. By the time he bought a house, he had four horses and three children.
   Over the years, the elder Gurrola put his savings into saddles, tack and stables for his horses in El Monte and Compton. "If you have a horse, the horse eats first and then you feed yourself," he says.
   Ramiro Jr. learned his first rope trick when he was 5. At 12, he rode a bucking mare in one of the Sunday rodeos his father and his friends organized at an arena in El Monte. The horse threw him like a pillow.
   Over the next few months, the boy climbed on the horse every Sunday. Each time, the bronco tossed him.
   "I knew what to do," he says, "but I couldn't do it."
   After weeks of additional practice and coaching from his uncles, he mounted the bronco and stayed on. From that moment, he says, he was hooked.
   The 1990s were a time of cultural change for young Mexican Americans in Southern California. Earlier generations had been ashamed of their parents' rural Mexican music, clothes and festivals.
   But now they were a majority in many neighborhoods and schools. Though U.S.-born, the immigrants' children unabashedly embraced what their parents had brought from Mexico. Some suburban kids became fanatics for charreria.
   At Artesia High, the younger Gurrola did his homework during lunch hour so he would have afternoons free to practice riding and roping. Half a dozen times a year, he went to Mexico to compete. He explained these absences to his teachers by referring to a "family emergency" back home.
   "My friends never knew about it," he says of his rodeo obsession. "I used to tell them, but they never paid any attention."
   At 15, at a competition in Zacatecas, he won second place in las manganas behind the legendary Andres "Nito" Aceves, who was then transforming Mexican rope style.
   Gurrola became unflappable in the ring. Before events, he would slowly walk his horse in circles to calm it as he collected his thoughts. Under pressure during competition, he did not hear the crowd. He also blocked out the gang that controlled his neighborhood in Hawaiian Gardens.
   By the time he graduated from high school in 1996, he was becoming one of the region's great charros. He took a job in his uncle's insulation factory in Azusa so he could work mornings and devote his afternoons and Sundays to charreria. He joined a charro team founded by Leonardo Lopez, an L.A. nightclub owner.
   In 2002, the team went to Mexico for the National Congress of Charreria, the sport's world championship. Gurrola finished second in las manganas out of 105 competitors. No American has ever finished higher in a single event in the Mexican championships.
   In appreciation, the crowd rained hats and gloves down on him.
   "It felt good," he says.
   His performance was one of several events in 2002 that changed California charreria.
   That year, Lopez began managing the Pico Rivera Sports Arena, opening a major venue to the sport.
   The rancher youths who had come to California 30 years earlier now owned businesses — the Northgate Gonzalez and La Vallarta supermarket chains, Las Palmas Nursery, Padilla Demolition — and could afford to sponsor charro teams. Some built their own rodeo arenas.
   As a boy in Mexico, Juan De la Torre never had the money to compete. He came to California hoping to earn enough to buy a horse. He learned to build houses and became a contractor. Today, De la Torre has his own charro team and an enduring place in charro lore. A Zacatecas band recorded a ballad about him, "King of the Bull-tailers," referring to a charro event at which he excels.
   In El Monte and Pico Rivera, in Sylmar, San Fernando, and in parts of Chino, there are communities of rodeo devotees. Mira Loma (pop. 17,000) in Riverside County is inhabited mostly by immigrants from Jalisco and Zacatecas and now has six charro teams. Riders tie up their horses and sit down to eat at Enrique's Seafood, a charro hangout.
   A bidding war for the best quarter-horses erupted, doubling the prices over the last five years to as much as $15,000.
   The growing popularity of charreria, and the increased political sophistication of Mexican Americans, was evident in their response to a 2002 proposal to outlaw bull-tailing, a rodeo event in which charros pull a running bull to the ground by the tail.
   Years before, the state Senate had banned horse-tripping, part of another charreria event. Charros went to Sacramento, dressed in traditional riding outfits. Their representative spoke broken English. They knew no one at the state Capitol. Only two senators voted against the ban on horse-tripping, and the practice remains illegal in California.
   "We never had to defend ourselves in the past," says Marcos Franco, director of the U.S. division of the Mexican Charro Federation. "They just ran us over."
   But when animal rights activists pushed for the ban on bull-tailing in 2002, hundreds of charro enthusiasts wrote to legislators. They hired a Sacramento lobbyist. By this time, more immigrants had become U.S. citizens and could vote; more legislators were Latino. The bill died.
   Charros believe that a ban on bull-tailing would have killed the sport in California. Instead, it was invigorated.

Magic With a Rope
   Under the hot sun and his wide sombrero, Ramiro Gurrola stood in the Sacramento arena in July as the manganas event began.
   As the mare circled the arena, Gurrola whipped his lasso into a spinning circle, then jumped through it.
   At just the right moment, he laid the rope out. It rolled like a hoop into the path of the charging quarter-horse and magically encircled the animal's front legs.
   Gurrola accomplished this on four of his six chances — twice on foot and twice while mounted. None of his opponents managed it more than once.
   With that, Gurrola came from behind to win the right to contend for the U.S. national Mexican rodeo championship, held today through Monday in New Cuyama, an hour's drive south of Santa Maria. If he wins there, he'll go to Mexico in October for the National Congress of Charreria.
   He hopes to overcome the charro luck that in the last few years has kept him from competing in Mexico for Charro of the Year.
   "I feel confident, but I don't want to say I'm going to win," he says.
   "I never say that because something always goes bad."

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September 4, 2004 The Economist Magazine
Genital mutilation
The unkindest cut for a woman

Slow progress in eliminating female genital mutilation

IN SUDAN, they call it tahoor or “purification”. In Sierra Leone, it is known as bondo or “initiation”. But English has a grislier term for it: female genital mutilation. In its mildest form, a girl has the skin covering her clitoris nicked or excised. In the severest variety, called infibulation, her external genitalia are cut away and her vagina is sewn up.

Female mutilation is not a rare practice. Although numbers are hard to come by, an estimated 130m girls and women now alive are thought to have undergone the procedure in more than two dozen African countries, as well as in parts of Asia, the Middle East and some immigrant communities in the West. The frequency of it varies according to ethnic group and country, from

a quarter of women in Nigeria to more than 90% in Mali, recent surveys indicate. The timing and type of mutilation also differs. In Egypt, for example, girls undergo one of the milder forms, usually around puberty. In Somalia, infibulation is common, often a few weeks before marriage.

There are certainly sound medical reasons for eliminating the practice. Immediate complications include heavy bleeding, infections—such as AIDS—transmitted by unsterile knives, and a nasty condition known as urinary retention. And, not only does mutilation turn sexual intercourse into a numb or painful experience for women, but the more radical forms can lead to prolonged labour and potentially lethal complications during childbirth.

The International Conference on Population and Development, held in Cairo ten years ago, launched a big push against mutilation. Since then, 13 African countries have passed legislation banning the practice. Education also helps, but simply explaining the medical hazards is not enough. At the time of the Cairo conference, as many as 97% of Egyptian women were thought to have been circumcised, usually by a daya (a village midwife). A decade of communication on the health risks of mutilation means that figure has fallen slightly, but the big shift is that the procedure is now performed mainly by doctors, which makes medical arguments against it less convincing to those who seek it out.

As Nahid Toubia, the head of Rainbo, a charity working against the practice, observes, stamping mutilation out is a slow process. Many societies believe that a woman will become agitated, overbearing, sexually voracious—and so unmarriageable—unless her clitoris is controlled. Or, as one woman in Ejere, a village in southern Ethiopia, explained, “I had my daughter circumcised so she wouldn't break the dishes.”

Page 57
27 August 2004 Science Magazine
Sweet Revenge?

Brian Knutson*

You've been waiting in line in traffic for what seems like hours, when a red sports car whips past on the shoulder. Eventually, the sports car creeps back into view--the driver has run out of shoulder and signals to be let in. Instead of giving way, you stare ahead and accelerate, inching dangerously close to the bumper in front of you.

"Go ahead, make my day." Dirty Harry succinctly informs a norm violator that he anticipates deriving satisfaction from inflicting altruistic punishment.
After squeezing back the intruder, you can't help but notice a smile creep onto your face.

Judges worry, whereas filmmakers delight, in the fact that revenge feels good. Evolutionary theorists argue that such an "eye-for-an-eye" strategy makes sense, preventing future damage to one's self or kin (1, 2). Yet, in cases ranging from inconsiderate drivers to Nazi war criminals, even unrelated onlookers seem highly motivated to seek revenge, often in spite of personal cost. From the standpoint of self-interest, punishing those who violate the interests of strangers--a form of revenge called altruistic punishment--seems irrational. Enter de Quervain and colleagues (3) on page 1254 of this issue, who offer an alternative explanation--instead of cold calculated reason, it is passion that may plant the seeds of revenge.

Using an elegant laboratory task designed to elicit acts of revenge among human volunteers, de Quervain and colleagues appear to have captured this complex emotional dynamic of schadenfreude with a positron emission tomography (PET) camera. During the task, subjects played games involving real money with a series of different partners. In each interaction, subjects chose to give their partners money, which was then quadrupled. Next, partners who received the money had a chance to reciprocate, or to pay back half to the subject. If partners decided not to reciprocate, or defected, subjects could choose to administer punishment. At this point, their brains were scanned.

De Quervain and co-workers first asked whether choosing to punish a defector would recruit brain circuits implicated in reward processing. They found that when subjects administered a monetary punishment to defectors, a subcortical region of the brain called the striatum increased its consumption of oxygen (that is, was "activated"). The investigators interpreted this to indicate that punishing a defector activates brain regions related to feeling good about revenge rather than brain regions related to feeling bad about having been violated. Indeed, these striatal foci lie near brain areas that rats will work furiously to stimulate electrically (4). The investigators then asked whether the striatum would be activated even when administering the punishment carried a personal cost. They found that the striatum was still activated when subjects chose to administer punishment at a personal cost, as was a region in the medial prefrontal cortex (MPFC) that has been implicated in balancing costs and benefits (5). Although these findings suggested a connection between striatal activation and the satisfaction one might derive from punishing a defector, they do not establish a directional relationship between the two. Thus, in a clever internal analysis, the investigators observed that the degree of striatal activation during no-cost punishment predicted the extent to which subjects chose to punish at a personal cost (that is, under less satisfying conditions). This finding suggested to the investigators that striatal activation indexed subjects' anticipation of satisfaction, rather than satisfaction per se.

These findings fit a fresh piece into the rapidly expanding puzzle of reward processing as revealed by brain imaging. Ironically, punishment of defectors in this study activated the same regions (that is, striatum and MPFC) that were activated when people rewarded cooperators in a recent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study (6). These seemingly diametrically opposite social behaviors are united by a common psychological experience--both involve the anticipation of a satisfying social outcome. As presaged by comparative research (7), humans also show increased striatal activity during anticipation of nonsocial rewards such as monetary gains (8) and pleasant tastes (9). Together, these findings imply that for certain parts of the striatum, it's the feeling that counts.

As with any compelling study, the findings raise additional questions for future research. Although PET measures absolute metabolism (and can even provide neurochemical information), its spatial and temporal resolution are limited (in this case, to 15 mm3/min). Thus, although they were able to visualize activation at the head of the caudate, the investigators may not have been able to track activity in the smaller ventral part of the striatum--the part most directly implicated in motivation (10). Fortunately, event-related fMRI can resolve activity in smaller regions (~4 mm3) on a second-to-second basis (11). Techniques like this may enable future investigators to make even more specific observations regarding when and where activation occurs during altruistic punishment.

Second, while the present PET study of defectors included male subjects, the aforementioned fMRI study of cooperators included females. Future research will undoubtedly need to explore which social interactions most powerfully motivate men compared with women (as well as members of different social groups). Regardless, the findings do powerfully illustrate the importance of considering proximal emotional mechanisms in brain imaging studies of social behavior (12). The new results also suggest that, depending on social learning, some of the same emotions that bring us together can also break us apart.

The findings of de Quervain et al. also chip yet another sliver from the rational model of economic man. In fact, their subjects illustrated at least two types of irrationality: reacting on the basis of emotional considerations and spending costly personal resources to ensure that defectors got their due. Beyond providing a compelling justification for adding social justice concerns to existing economic models, the findings serve as a harbinger of future "neuroeconomic" studies that strive to descriptively reconstruct these models using neurobehavioral data. One can imagine the new models accommodating both "passionate" and "rational" forces, as well as specifying when and how they come together to influence individual choice.

Back in traffic, brake lights flare ahead. You realize that your smile was short-sighted. Your car skids to a halt. Fortunately, the smile didn't cost a pile-up. This time.

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Page 58
one might ask 'What do we care about the fucking monkeys?' (and the subject of article following it for that matter); the answer is that it depends upon how 'young' you are and how concerned you may be about your 'well-being and quality of life' (the next few years) and that of your progeny (if any) who may have to ' eat' the consequences.

27 August 2004 Science Magazine
Science, Vol 305, 1230-1231
Forest Loss Makes Monkeys Sick
Erik Stokstad

NEW YORK CITY--Some 1500 conservation biologists gathered at Columbia University from 30 July to 2 August to discuss humanity's growing impact on the natural world. Among the findings were new twists on how fragmenting forests can hurt dung beetles, monkeys, and other creatures.

It's bad news for endangered animals when their habitats are fragmented. Populations become isolated, food supplies diminish, and hunters become more of a threat. Now add to that list a higher risk of illness.

Although it's known that disturbed habitat can help transmit diseases between wildlife and humans, a new study shows for the first time that fragmentation of forests by humans can hasten the decline of a primate population by making common parasites more abundant and introducing new ones. "It's a potentially devastating effect," says Peter Daszak, director of the Consortium for Conservation Medicine in Palisades, New York.

Deforestation threatens many populations of forest-dwelling primates in Africa. Thomas Gillespie, now a postdoc at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and his Ph.D. adviser, Colin Chapman of the University of Florida, Gainesville, studied two species of leaf-eating monkeys to understand how habitat change might affect their health. They compared groups living in undisturbed forest within Kibale National Park in western Uganda with those living in surrounding forest fragments.

In the park, overall populations of both the Red Colobus monkey (Piliocolobus tephrosceles) and the Black-and-White Colobus (Colobus guereza) have remained stable. But in 22 nearby patches of forest, the scientists found that the total Red Colobus population fell by 20% between 1999 and 2003. In contrast, the number of Black-and-White Colobus in the same fragments rose by 4%.

Suspecting that parasites might be to blame for the decline in the Red Colobus, Gillespie and his team first looked for evidence of them in both fragmented and intact forest. Densities of primate parasites were higher in forest fragments, they found. For example, the larvae of the nodule worm Oesophagostomum, which causes the most debilitating symptoms of all the pathogens, were more than five times more abundant in the fragments. "It's very clear that there was a higher risk of infection in disturbed forest," says Gillespie. He suspects that people and livestock are introducing pathogens; indeed, four of the five parasites found only in the fragments also infect humans and livestock.

To measure the levels of infection, Gillespie examined 1151 monkey feces samples for parasites. Ten parasite species were present in the Red Colobus samples, and feces from fragmented habitat had significantly higher levels of most parasites than feces from the virgin forest. By contrast, the Black-and-White Colobus samples contained just seven parasites. For five of those parasites, there was essentially no difference in their prevalence between dung samples from fragmented and intact forest dwellers. That could help explain why the Black-and-White Colobus are doing better, although it's not clear why they would carry fewer parasites than do the Red Colobus.

"This work suggests a really strong role for disease" in the decline of the Red Colobus, says Nick Isaac, an evolutionary biologist at the Zoological Society of London. Although probably not fatal, parasites can affect a population indirectly, Isaac explains, by making monkeys less able to feed or conceive. And stress makes the animals more vulnerable to infection by parasites, which makes a grim situation even grimmer.

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27 August 2004 Science Magazine

A Decktop View of Overfishing
A review by Caroline Ash

A Journey Through the North Atlantic by Redmond O'Hanlon Hamish Hamilton, London, 2003. 352 pp. £20. ISBN 0-241-14014-5. Paper, Penguin, London, 2004. £7.99. ISBN 0-140-27668-8. Forthcoming from Knopf, New York. ISBN 1-4000-4275-5.

Moored alongside the piles of discounted titles in British bookstores this summer is Redmond O'Hanlon's log of two weeks spent on a Scottish trawler. O'Hanlon is best known for his stories of careering journeys around various tropical forests, his aim being to understand the psychology of travel under extreme conditions. A journey at sea becomes a logical extension of this goal. His choice of vehicle is the trawler Norlantean, and the reader is sent to steam across the open ocean feeling as seasick as the writer while the 70-year-old engines struggle with a force-12 storm. After a curious sequence of naming of parts, the ship is re-equipped with the collective personality of its occupants in this peculiarly indoor tale. This is not a conventional travel adventure, despite the physical extremes. All the action occurs in restricted spaces, not least the net that confines the fish, but also O'Hanlon's claustrophobic bunk, the cramped galley, the fish gutting room, and the icy hold.

The main stars are the fish and the fisheries scientist who studies them. In Trawler we learn fragments about the life histories of rattails, hagfish, squid, angler fish, lumpsuckers, Greenland halibut, and the trawler's main prey, redfish. Indeed, only fragments are known about the biology of many of these species. We also discover that the nets have to be shot a kilometer deep or more to catch anything. The skipper of the Norlantean is in debt to the tune of £2 million, hence his urgency to set sail whatever the sea conditions. Nevertheless, the waste is pitiful: even trawlermen will eat fish, especially a fat haddock, but they cannot consume all the nonquota fish they catch and these (dead on arrival at the surface) are flung to the kittiwakes and gannets. Further, on landing in Shetland, the catch will be exported because the British prefer cod and haddock, for which this skipper has no quota, and which in turn now have to be imported from remote fisheries.

To survive economically, each time he goes to sea Norlantean's skipper has to net in excess of 70,000 pounds of fish. To hunt successfully, he must wield considerable interdisciplinary expertise. His many tasks include integrating data on distributions of fish species in three dimensions, population sizes, seasonality, diversity, average weight, gender and reproductive condition as well as directing the engineer, navigating the trawler, manipulating banks of electronic gear, and being chief psychiatrist for the crew. By contrast, the author is profoundly apologetic about his own stupidity and ignorance. As a result, Trawler is not a technical account--the extreme conditions of the journey probably rendered the landlubber author incapable of taking detailed notes or interviewing the crew in depth. But the reader nevertheless receives a sense of the sheer gut-wrenching endurance needed to work on a trawler and gains considerable sympathy for the sleepless, and consequently somewhat deranged, trawlermen.

Given the huge financial debts, the unnervingly high risk of drowning, and the evident lack of romantic glamour despite the dangerous nature of the work, one might wonder why people are still attracted to this terrible job. The answer seems to be that industrial fishing still offers employment, when little else in many remote coastal communities does. But at what cost?

As we continue industrial scale operations, many fisheries around the world are at the brink of collapse. It is paradoxical that fishing still pays, as Daniel Pauly noted in his recent talk at the Royal Society (21 July). That it does is due to huge national subsidies (e.g., approximately $2.5 billion for North Atlantic operations). Consequently, many global fisheries overshot their economic threshold some time past, but the subsidies have allowed fishing to continue until the ecological threshold has now also been exceeded. Hence, the lack of recovery of cod on the Grand Banks. Another consequence of the subsidies is that energy efficiency is plummeting--on average, for every metric ton of fuel consumed, only 1.5 metric tons of fish are harvested. Some fisheries are orders of magnitude worse; for example, catching a metric ton of shrimp may cost 100 metric tons of fuel. The worst offenders in the current devastation of the oceans, and those most resistant to reform, are members of the European Union. The EU "flagship" is the 14,000-metric-ton Irish factory trawler Atlantic Dawn (see figure), now helping to clear West African seas of fish. Not far behind are fleets from Japan and the former Soviet Union. More optimistically, Pauly suggests that the looming energy crisis will bring some sanity into this spiral of inefficiency.

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Page 60
'jewish rock'? -spare me -indoctrination rather, pure and simple, no better than the head-bobbing 'culture and religion' of muslim students the same age 'learning' from the koran -so they can keep on fighting.

August 28, 2004 Los Angeles Times
Teenagers Get Down With Jewish Rock
Many in the community recognize the popular genre's power in teaching young people the value of their culture and making them feel that it's cool.
By Cynthia Daniels, Times Staff Writer

Mesmerized, the teenage campers at first sat quietly in a circle around the visiting musician. But the room came to life as the artist, an acoustic guitar strapped across his left shoulder, began his most popular song in a mix of English and Hebrew. Campers clapped, others smiled, some even danced.

For them, it was a special occasion. This was not just any summer rock concert, this was Dan Nichols, lead singer of Dan Nichols and Eighteen, and this was not just any music, this was Jewish rock.

Though its fan base and CD sales do not rival those of the enormous Christian rock movement, Jewish rock is growing with the performances, recordings and influence of artists like Nichols and Rick Recht, lead singer of the Rick Recht Band.

Many in the Jewish community recognize the genre's power in teaching young people the value of Jewish culture and making them feel it's cool.

"Who doesn't like rock 'n' roll?" asked Michelle Citrin, 23, a song leader at Camp Hess Kramer in Malibu, where Nichols recently spent a weekend as an artist in residence. "It definitely connects with everybody."

At Hess Kramer, affiliated with Wilshire Boulevard Temple, Nichols led song sessions after lunch, conducted hourlong workshops on the meaning of his work and gave a Sunday night concert.

"Jewish rock is more our style," said 14-year-old Rosi Greenberg, a camper at Hess Kramer and a big Nichols fan. "It's just easier to relate to."

When he was 7, Nichols' parents converted to Judaism after his mother went on a quest for spirituality outside of Christianity. He studied voice in college, belonged to a secular rock band and served as a cantorial soloist before 1995, when he co-founded Eighteen, whose numerals in Hebrew are also letters that create the word chai, which means "life."

Both he and Recht have made names for themselves by delivering hip melodies, positive Hebrew songs, rock rhythms and heightened energy to the Jewish camp circuit, Reform and Conservative synagogues and national Jewish youth organizations. Nichols and Recht also write original songs that mix key Hebrew phrases and prayers with English.

"While the Jewish music market was marketing certain music as contemporary music, the form, the structure and the sound was … based around a folk model or an adult contemporary model but not a rock model," said Nichols, 35, who lives in Raleigh, N.C. "Our goal was to make Jewish music that was all about being Jewish. Music that made no apologies that it was rock music and made no apologies for the fact it was Jewish."

Recht, who as a teen considered his parents his greatest Jewish role models, also was in a secular band before discovering his Jewish rock talents five years ago while working as a song leader at a Jewish day camp in St. Louis.

These kids "totally get the message," said Recht, 33, owner of Vibe Room Records, a recording company in that Missouri city. They "are in their cars pulling into high school parking lots, singing Jewish liturgy at the top of their lungs with their windows down — that says it all. These kids are proud to be Jewish; they feel liberated and just as cool as the next kid, but they feel it Jewishly."

He sometimes even intermingles popular secular songs with his tunes.

Nichols and Recht aren't the first musicians to use Jewish heritage in a contemporary way. They follow in the footsteps of Debbie Friedman who, for about 30 years, has performed Hebrew songs with a folk twist — including guitar accompaniment — and is widely credited with fueling the contemporary Jewish music trend. Producer Craig Taubman started performing Jewish rock more than 20 years ago, and his songs reach the adult scene more than the teenage world.

But Nichols and Recht have settled on a new sound — religious Jewish music for the MTV generation. Their music uses a sprinkling of electric guitars, dance beats and pop melodies that sound different from Friedman's more folky style.

Jewish rock "is accomplishing for teenagers what Debbie did for teenagers during her era," said Rabbi Kenneth Chasen, senior rabbi at Leo Baeck Temple in Bel-Air and a member of the contemporary Jewish music group Mah Tovu.

Nichols and Recht "continue this chain of tradition," Chasen said. "They have this line of very 21st century contemporary sound. And the style and technique of how they write, and the production value of how they take their songs and bring them to life, has netted them a great following among teens and college students."

Michelle November, program director for Stephen S. Wise Temple in Bel-Air, which hosted a Rick Recht Band concert in February 2003, agreed.

Recht is "the contemporary answer to keeping kids involved, teens involved and keeping the whole thing feeling like a meaningful message," November said. "He sings about things we need to be doing — learning, studying, taking care of each other, creating peace — he brings those messages but he's a guy wearing jeans."

At first glance, a viewer might mistake a DVD of the Rick Recht Band performing live for a scene from a Dave Matthews Band concert.

Hundreds of Jewish youths surround a circular stage eyeing Recht, who is dressed in blue jeans and a long-sleeved red shirt. As he stands at the microphone, equipped with his acoustic guitar, hands clap and arms wave in the air. Recht leans into the mike and begins: "This is the hope." His audience, eyes bright and bodies bouncing to the beat, return the words in high-pitched voices: "This is the hope."

The call and response continue through the first verse: "The hope is still real. A Jewish home, in Yisrael."

Throughout the song, heads move side to side, young girls dressed in "I Love Rick Recht" T-shirts scream and, finally, the entire crowd begins jumping up and down while Recht croons, "This is the hope that holds us together, Hatikvah — the hope that will last forever."

During his workshop at Camp Hess Kramer, Nichols explored the meaning of his song "B'tzelem Elohim," translated as "in the image of God." He invited 25 teenagers to brainstorm about God's attributes and their attributes as people made in God's image and as Jews.

Finally, he asked the group to split up and create their own verse to the song, following the pattern of his verse: "We all got a life to live, we all got a gift to give, just open your heart and let it out."

Five minutes later, the teenagers reassembled in the circle to sing their remix of a Nichols hit.

They jumped up and down — belting out the song's bridge: "B'reishit bara Elohim [in the beginning God created] all our hopes, all our dreams" — and swayed to the beat.

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Page 61
perryb here, with two, great short articles (the human condition) that some of you may have read-

August 27, 2004
Newsweek magazine August 30, 2004
Let's Hug

AT LEAST TWlCE A week, Maria Baczynski and Reid Mihalko don pajamas, snack on munchies and snuggle up with stuffed animals on the floor, Sound like your typical junior-high sleepover? It isn't. Baczynski, 26, and Mihalko, 36, spend the night with as many as 20 strangers at the popular "cuddle parties" they host in their New York City apartments. Since February, more than 300 guests have paid $30 each to enjoy three hours of cuddling and, say organizers, a dose of healing. "There is recognition that we're not getting enough touch and affection:' says Baczynski, a self-described sex educator. "When you open up to people amazing things can happen."

That does not mean sex. Hanky-panky is forbidden by the 16 rules listed on Guests must wear pajamas ("more comfy than sexy"), and there is absolutely "no dry humping:' These rules are meant to create a safe space where adults can explore affection without its becoming sexualized. Each party begins with a "welcome circle" where cuddlers practice saying no to unwanted advances. According to Baczynski, "People learn to communicate what they want and don't want." Birgitte Philippides, 36, says the parties can improve life for singles. "Ever since I've been cuddling, it's been a waterfall of guys asking me out because I'm so much more approachable," she says. Baczynski and Mihalko have already taken their cuddle gospel to Hawaii, California and, last weekend, Washington, D.C. They're hosting their first single-sex cuddles in September and have parties planned for senior citizens. You're never too old to hug.

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August 26, 2004 Los Angeles Times
Enron Spawned Trouble for Fish
Dead Northwest salmon were yet another result of the energy company's market manipulation, new evidence indicates.
By Jonathan Peterson, Times Staff Writer

To the long list of Enron Corp.'s victims, add Northwest salmon.

A fresh round of evidence released Wednesday suggested that Enron traders shipped emergency power out of California, even as hydroelectric dams in the Pacific Northwest — struggling to ease the energy crisis — were running full tilt.

That's where the salmon, an icon of the Northwest, come in. Water that normally would have eased them away from massive hydropower turbines instead was used to make electricity, further endangering the already endangered fish.

More broadly, said Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), transcripts released Wednesday portrayed a regional strategy in which the Houston energy company exploited efforts to prevent an economic calamity in California during the market meltdown of 2000-01.

"This new evidence shows that as the Northwest was scrambling to supply California with emergency power, Enron was working just as hard to manipulate energy markets by shipping power out of California to the Southwest," said Cantwell, releasing excerpts of routinely recorded trader conversations.

In one exchange, then-Enron trader Timothy N. Belden seemed to lay out the strategy for Rick Shapiro, at the time an Enron lobbyist.

"It's hot and they don't have enough power. And they kill fish in Northwest so that people in California can go enjoy themselves at a baseball game," Belden said during an Aug. 4, 2000, conversation.

Shapiro then asked: "And then what are we doing, are we exporting some of the 'fish kill power' out of California?"

Answered Belden: "We are exporting some power from California to the Southwest."

Belden's attorney, Cristina Arguedas, maintained Wednesday that such excerpts were "inherently" out of context. "To take just a few sentences out of a lot of tapes and a longer conversation is not something I would want to comment on," she said.

Belden pleaded guilty in 2002 to a charge of wire-fraud conspiracy for rigging California's electricity markets and is cooperating with investigators. He has not been sentenced.

Jennifer Lowney, an Enron spokeswoman, declined to comment on Cantwell's remarks, saying only: "We're continuing to cooperate with all investigations."

Although the exchange between Belden and Shapiro took place in August 2000, it wasn't until the following year that salmon deaths related to the energy crisis became a major public concern as drought conditions intensified in the North- west. The Bonneville Power Administration was sending as much water as possible to its hydropower turbines, impeding the ability of salmon to migrate and sucking a great many to their deaths.

At the time of the Enron trader remarks, "you could assume there was some additional mortality as a result of running the system hard," Ed Mosey, chief spokesman for the Portland, Ore.-based agency, said Wednesday.

The evidence Cantwell unveiled Wednesday came from a cache of tapes and documents obtained this year by a Seattle-area utility district that is in a legal battle with Enron. Those tapes include previously released conversations in which Enron employees bragged about exploiting "Grandma Millie" and other California energy consumers.

Financial documents show that on Aug. 3-4, 2000, at least a third of the amount of emergency power that the Bonneville Power Administration sent to California as part of a federal directive to ease the crisis was purchased by Enron and resold to out-of- state buyers, Cantwell said.

The strategy was one of several Enron schemes, many with colorful nicknames, used on those days, she said. Other "gaming" tactics included Death Star, in which traders would pretend to move energy to relieve congestion, and Load Shift, which exaggerated the amount of congestion in the grid.

A spokesman for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission said that regulators were aware of Enron's practices in the West and noted that an administrative trial on those charges may begin next month. In July, the commission ordered Enron to return $32.5 million in profit from improper trading schemes and told an administrative law judge that the company might be required to return more than five years of trading profit.

"The commission has ruled that there was nothing illegal about selling power from one state to the next," FERC spokesman Bryan Lee said. "Were there terrible consequences during the energy crisis? Yes. That's why it's important to get the rules right … so we don't need to learn from these sorts of terrible mistakes."

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Page 63
(the human condition) below is an especially good article from the latimes. it identifies a mind-set as primitive as 'valley girls just want to have fun' and complete ignorance about 'the The State of the Planet' and what this mentality does to it '-posterity and the planet? -that's not my problem'.
-"We have met the enemy, and he is us" -Walt Kelly's Pogo-
(-read 'American free-enterprise, capitalist democracy and the right to make as much money as you can and spend it any way you choose -as long as there's no law against it' -we've sold it to the world.)

August 11, 2004 Los Angeles Times
Gen.-X, meet your wagon
It's not a precision instrument, but as a kid-friendly ride for aging rebels, the Dodge Magnum RT cuts a cool profile.
By Dan Neil, Times Staff Writer

   "HEY! Yo! Is that your Magnum?" I heard a voice in the front yard call out. I opened the door to find one of my Silver Lake neighbors, a young man in his early 30s. He had spotted the maroon Dodge Magnum RT test car parked on the street. Let's call him Killer.
   Killer was wearing a bowling shirt and baggy shorts, several earrings and a couple of ounces of high-quality tattoo ink swirling around his calves, forearms and neck — flaming dice, crossed pistols, hearts and death's heads, Bettie Page in fishnets. You know, the illustrated psychobilly.
   Killer explained that he and his wife — huh? — had been trying to find a Dodge Magnum RT in Los Angeles because they had a 2-year-old daughter — wha?! — and they needed a family car. None of the local dealers had the RT edition — with the 340-horsepower Hemi V8 — and he was thinking of driving to Las Vegas to find one.
   "Aw, man," Killer said, "that thing is just so money!"
   It occurred to me as I closed the door and put down my can of "Welcome Mace" that Killer was the Magnum's ideal demographic: a middle-finger-waving anti-establishmentarian, bad-beer connoisseur, breeder.
   Sometime between being hip and breaking a hip, even kool kats need a family car.

   Let's get right to it: What makes the Magnum work is its subversive, hot-rod styling, which to me has a distinct rockabilly vibe. In this tribal subculture, with its goth-kitsch fascination with '50s teen rebellion — reform-school girls, DA hairdos, crushed-velvet doo-wop, dead-man's curve nihilism — the cars are big and bad. Cadillac convertibles, sloe-eyed Hudsons, Lincoln roadsters, noses aglow with flame-job paint schemes: these are the cars you see barreling out of mural tattoos.
   At 197.7 inches long, the Magnum isn't particularly big, about the same length as a Chevy Monte Carlo. But its massive, blocky styling lends it that look of naked bulk that characterized the great lead sleds of the '50s and '60s. The Magnum puts the "blunt" in "blunt-force trauma."
   Meanwhile, the styling vernacular is right out of the California rod-and-custom playbook. One of hot-rodding's favorite tricks is to cut a few inches out of a car's roof pillars and lower the roof, giving the car a slightly desperate, James Dean squint. This is the "chop" in the phrase "chopped and channeled." The Magnum's chop-top roofline, glowering greenhouse, low stance, and road-scraping body skirts all convey a wonderful, retro delinquency.
   Drop this thing 4 inches, put on a set of lakes pipes, some Coker whitewalls and disc hubcaps, and you can be the star of your own B-movie fantasy. Calling Mamie Van Doren.
   It's also worth noting that there is, sure enough, something sinister about the Magnum. In some lights it looks very authoritarian, like something from the Big Brother motor pool. It could be the smoked-out rear windows, behind which all sorts of truncheon-wielding attitude adjustment might take place beyond prying eyes. Dodge began selling the RT this summer, and will begin selling the Magnum SXT (with a 3.5-liter, 250-hp V6 mated to a four-speed automatic) with a police package coming this fall and a Hemi-powered pursuit cruiser next year. Evildoers, beware.
   With the Magnum RT, retro is more than skin-deep. Under the hood is an overhead-valve 5.7-liter V8 — that's 350 cubic inches to the fuzzy-dice set — mated to a rear-wheel-drive drivetrain. We haven't seen that combo in a station wagon since the dearly defunct Buick Roadmaster wagon of the late 1990s, I think.
   Dodge is going to some trouble to sell the Magnum RT as a "sports tourer," i.e., a performance wagon, and its posted time from nil to 60 mph — 6.3 seconds — is nothing to toss beer bottles at. The five-speed transmission's steep first gear and the big V8's 390 pound-feet of torque give the car pretty righteous launch capabilities. Switch off the traction control and you can paint the town black with the fat 18-inch Continental all-season tires.
   At highway speeds, the RT runs with quiet, effortless authority and plenty of mid-range passing punch. The exhaust sounds dark and warm and
velvety, like a vinyl LP recording of a '60s-era Hemi. The most trick feature of the car is its cylinder deactivation system: when engine loads are low, four of the eight cylinders' valve sets are deactivated, so that the car becomes, effectively, a V4. The RT returns decent — though by no means unprecedented — EPA mileage of 17/24 miles per gallon, city/highway. I tried many times to detect the cylinder deactivation system at work, but it was completely transparent.
   The Magnum is a surprisingly refined piece of hardware for the money. The short-long-arm front suspension gives the front end a suppleness and nicely tuned feel through the steering wheel; the multi-link rear suspension is likewise well damped and composed. The highway ride is comfortable and body roll is reasonably well contained. Borrowed from the boys in Stuttgart, this chassis design is the same one that labors under the Mercedes-Benz E class.
   As for handling, well, this is where it gets a bit sketchy. Don't expect the Magnum to hang with the Audi Avant or BMW wagons on the S's. This is a big automobile and heavy (4,142 pounds) on pretty tame all-season radials. So it slides around quite a bit — first by the nose if you plow into a corner with too much speed, and then by the tail if you lift off the throttle abruptly while cornering. The rack-and-pinion steering doesn't have a very positive self-centering feel, and it has poor "trace-ability," the quality of finding and holding a line in a corner. The Magnum does have traction and stability systems, however, and when the car senses a yawing rotation or an incipient spin, it will intervene aggressively and the car will snap back into shape. The brakes are only average.
   A sport-tourer? No. A hipster-friendly SUV substitute? Absolutely. All-wheel drive will become an option on the RT package this fall, giving the Magnum surer footing in adverse conditions and raising the trailer weight capacity from 2,000 pounds to 3,800 pounds. Meanwhile, the five-seat vehicle is plenty roomy, despite the swooping roofline: The max cargo volume with the rear seats folded is 71.6 cubic feet, more than a Cadillac SRX and just shy of a Ford Explorer. The Magnum's rear hatch is hinged well forward of the break-over point, allowing the upright loading of tall items in the back.
   The interior has a studied simplicity, with straightforward rotary climate and audio controls, four-gauge instrument cluster with black-on-white lettering, leather seating and a kind of indoor-outdoor, rubber-and-plastic dash and door treatment. In keeping with its young-parent audience, the car has loads of safety content, including auto-reverse power windows (to prevent hand entrapment); smart front airbags and side curtain airbags; rear parking assist and child-safety seat anchors.
   I am a firm believer in sporty wagons. In most head-to-head comparisons they are lighter, faster, safer, more space efficient and less fuel intensive than SUVs. There is very little a Ford Explorer can do that a Volvo V70 R can't, and the Volvo is infinitely more versatile.
   Until the Magnum, there wasn't a domestic — OK, quasi-domestic — entry in the hot wagon category. The Magnum claims this territory and tattoos it with a heart that says "Mother." As Gen-Xers yield to the imperatives of biology, the market needs more family vehicles that stand out from the hordes of bourgeois boomers.
2005 Dodge Magnum RT
Price as tested: $30,520
Powertrain: 5.7-liter, overhead-valve V8 with Multi-Displacement System; five-speed automatic transmission with adaptive learning and Autostick manual control; rear-wheel drive
Curb weight: 4,142 pounds
Horsepower: 340 horsepower at 5,000 rpm
Torque: 390 lb.-feet at 4,000 rpm
0-60 mph: 6.3 seconds
Wheelbase: 120 inches
Overall length: 197.7 inches
Seating capacity: 5
Maximum cargo volume: 71.6 cubic feet
Competitors: Volvo V70 R, Volkswagen Passat Wagon W8
   Final thoughts: Rockabye, baby
Automotive critic Dan Neil can be reached at

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August 7, 2004 The Economist Magazine
South Asia's floods
In all the wrong places
Human intervention could do much to mitigate the monsoon's annual tyranny

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Page 65
some may have read the two latimes articles below -great nevertheless.


August 8, 2004 Los Angeles Times
Top Texas Donor's Influence Far More Visible Than He Is
Robert Perry is behind an ad attacking John Kerry's war record and many GOP campaigns.
By Scott Gold, Times Staff Writer

NASSAU BAY, Texas — Robert J. Perry, the main financier behind the effort to discredit Sen. John F. Kerry's military record, is the most prolific political donor in Texas.
   A homebuilder who lives lakeside in this Houston suburb, Perry has helped bankroll the widespread success of Republican candidates here, has long-standing ties to many close associates of President Bush and has contributed to Bush's last four campaigns. According to interviews and campaign documents, he has given a total of more than $5 million to scores of political candidates.
   "And the vast majority of those people have never laid eyes on him," said Court Koenning, executive director of the Republican Party in Harris County, which includes the Houston metropolitan area.

   Despite the enormous influence of his money, Perry, 71, is reticent and guarded, and remains something of a mystery in Texas. But this week, his largess crept onto the national stage.
   A group called Swift Boat Veterans for Truth launched television ads Thursday accusing Kerry, a Massachusetts senator and the Democratic presidential nominee, of lying about his military record. A $100,000 check that Perry wrote to the group this year represented about two-thirds of the money in its accounts as of June 30, according to financial documents.
   The Bush campaign says it has no ties to the group.
   The advertisements, running in the battleground states of Wisconsin, Ohio and West Virginia, are part of a multimedia campaign questioning Kerry's fitness as a leader and commander in chief. A book written by one of the group's leaders, Houston lawyer John E. O'Neill, is scheduled to be released Aug. 15.
   "Bob Perry is a very generous guy with his political donations," Koenning said. "His primary interest is good government…. Everybody agrees that John Kerry's service to this country is admirable. But if he lied about it, that speaks to his character."

   Kerry was awarded three Purple Hearts, a Bronze Star and a Silver Star for his service in Vietnam. Upon his return, he became a leader of a veterans group that declared the war a mistake. His military service is a cornerstone of his presidential campaign, one his advisors believe contrasts sharply with Bush's service in the Texas Air National Guard.
   None of the veterans featured in the advertisements served on the river patrol boats Kerry commanded during Vietnam. Several of Kerry's crewmates have condemned the advertisements, and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), once a prisoner of war in Vietnam, called them "dishonest and dishonorable."
   "Bob Perry pulls the strings and never gets his hands dirty. But even by his standards, this latest deal is just over the top," said Charles Soechting, chairman of the Texas Democratic Party.
   Perry declined to comment through his spokesman, Bill Miller, an Austin political consultant.
   Perry has been a political donor for years, working with White House political director Karl Rove during Rove's Texas years, contributing to Texas Gov. Rick Perry's rise in politics and giving $20,000 to Bush's two campaigns for governor in the 1990s.    But Perry, no relation to the governor, began increasing his donations in 2000. Today, campaign documents and his representatives confirm that he has given more money to campaigns and political organizations in the last four years than any other Texan. A few of his donations have gone to Democratic candidates, but most have gone to Republicans and conservative causes.

   He has given nearly $1 million to the Texas Republican Party. He has donated at least $200,000 to Texans for Lawsuit Reform, one of the most successful "tort reform" organizations in the nation.
   In the 2002 election cycle, he also provided about $700,000 for the GOP's effort to dominate Texas politics. That included $165,000 given to Texans for a Republican Majority, an offshoot of U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's Americans for a Republican Majority, formed to help conservatives get elected.
   The election that year of a slate of DeLay-backed Republicans — all supported by Perry — gave the GOP control of the state House for the first time in 130 years. That paved the way for passage of a host of conservative measures, such as abortion restrictions and limits on medical malpractice cases. The GOP also redrew congressional maps for Texas, a move designed to shore up Republican control of Congress.
   Perry is largely unknown outside of campaign finance databases and a small group of political leaders, shunning social activities often embraced by major donors. Many of the politicians who have received Perry's money say they have never met him. One who has, Texas Agriculture Commissioner Susan Combs, said he wanted to know just one thing before supporting her: "Are you a straight-talking, straight-shooting person who is going to represent Texas well?"
   "I just think he's an unassuming guy," Combs said.

   Born in a tiny ranching community in Bosque County, Texas, Perry attended Baylor University and then taught high school for awhile, like his father before him. In 1968, he started a home-building business in Houston.
   Today, Perry Homes does business across central and eastern Texas. The company's website lists 48 communities in the Houston area alone where the company is building or selling houses, which range from $110,000 to more than $400,000.
   Perry and his wife, Doylene, have been married since 1961. They have four grown children.
   The Perry home is less than a mile from Nassau Bay Baptist Church, where the couple attends services each weekend, said Senior Pastor David Fannin.
   "Bob is the most kind, gracious and giving man you will ever meet," Fannin said. "He is a man of strong conviction."
   Perry donates generously to the church, Fannin said, but never asks anything in return. His supporters also cite that trait.
   "He has never asked me for a single thing," Combs said. "He is one of those rare individuals who is just interested in people being honest and ethical."

His detractors say otherwise.
   Like many prominent building companies, Perry Homes has been sued dozens of times. Last year, Perry was among several developers watching as the Legislature imposed strict limits on civil lawsuits, particularly claims brought by homeowners alleging shoddy construction.
   Critics called the seats where he and other builders watched the legislative debate the "owner's box," because much of their money had gone to advocacy groups fighting for limits on the civil court system, as well as politicians who supported those efforts. During that debate, the governor put a Perry Homes executive on a panel established to put in place new restrictions on claims against builders.
   Perry's backers also say he works hard to reach out to Houston's Latino and African American communities. But some leaders of those communities accuse him of aggressively buying land in inner-city areas, then building expensive homes that gentrify those neighborhoods and drive out low-income families.
   "I think he fancies himself as a person who can manipulate politics for his own gain," Soechting said. "Politics and money are one and the same to him."

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August 8, 2004 Los Angeles Times
An 'Illegal' Outbreak of Plague
By Wendy Orent (author of "Plague: The Mysterious Past and Terrifying Future of the World's Most Dangerous Disease.")

ATLANTA UP The new nation of Turkmenistan, one of several Central Asian republics that rose from the Soviet Union's ashes, is ruled by a 64-year-old dictator named Saparmurad A. Niyazov, a strutting, miniature Saddam Hussein who calls himself Turkmenbashi (father of the Turkmens). A man of monstrous ego and modest intellect, he has outlawed beards on men and forbidden women to wear gold teeth, a sign of status.

The capital of Turkmenistan, Ashgabat, boasts an enormous golden revolving statue of the Turkmenbashi, oriented toward the sun so that its rays always shine on the statue's face. Niyazov is also building in the desert — at a cost of $6.5 billion and using water diverted from a parched countryside — what he calls "The Great Turkmen Lake." The world keeps quiet about Niyazov's eccentricities, aware that his vast wealth comes from control of one of the world's largest supplies of natural gas. All of this would be amusing, more or less, if we didn't think too hard about the effects of such policies. But over the last few months, the Turkmenbashi has taken the health of his nation's 5 million people into his own hands, with potentially devastating consequences.

In March, he dismissed 15,000 licensed healthcare workers "to save money" and replaced them with conscripts. In June, the Turkmenbashi fired Turkmen doctors and other health workers with foreign degrees, saying their training was "incompatible with the Turkmen education system." Most disturbing, he has declared all infectious diseases — cholera, AIDS and other scourges — illegal and has forbidden any mention of them.

Turkmenistan's Anti-Epidemic Emergency Commission has stated that "the epidemiological situation on the territory of Turkmenistan is safe. There are no cases of dangerous diseases." If only that were true.

According to both Gundogar, a Turkmen opposition group, and the Turkmenistan Helsinki Initiative, a deadly plague epidemic has broken out in the Turkmenbashi's territory. Yersinia pestis, the germ that causes plague, is widespread among rodents throughout Central Asia, and the strains they carry are among the oldest, most virulent and most dangerous in the world. In the barren deserts of Turkmenistan, the leading plague reservoir is a burrowing rat-sized animal with legs like a miniature kangaroo, Rhombomys opimus, the great gerbil. Recent years in Central Asia have been good for gerbils, producing bumper crops of the grains they eat. More grain means more gerbils, and more gerbils means more plague.

These outbreaks happen periodically, and with good public health systems in place they can be managed. The Soviets in their day responded quickly, though they kept news of the outbreaks from the outside world. In 1950, according to a recent account by Russian plague expert Lev Melnikov, a large plague outbreak in Turkmenistan killed several hundred people. That outbreak originated with a nomad hunter who bedded down overnight in gerbil territory and was bitten by infected fleas. He returned to his family's encampment; the disease spread rapidly to his lungs, and soon everyone in the settlement was infected. Some relatives fled to other nomad tents before they died, spreading the disease further. Only a heavy-footed response from the Soviet government, with medical teams, military quarantines and enormous pyres to burn the infected corpses of the nomads together with their tents brought the epidemic under control.

But the Soviets and their hundreds of trained plague experts no longer run the show, and the Turkmens are at the mercy of the Turkmenbashi's policies. At least 10 people are known to have died of plague this summer, and some reports place the figure considerably higher. The Turkmen government has responded, predictably, by declaring the word "plague" illegal. It has also instituted border controls "to prevent disease from entering Turkmenistan from neighboring states."

Still, reports continue to trickle out: of deaths in Merv in the southeast, in the capital city of Ashgabat, in the city of Turkmenbashi (formerly known as Krasnovodsk) on the shores of the Caspian Sea. Though some reports state that this outbreak of plague is bubonic, and thus spread only by infected fleas or by direct contact with a sick animal, others claim that the disease has become pneumonic, or lung-borne, the most feared and lethal form of the disease.

The Black Death of 1347-1351, which originated among the rodents of Central Asia, seems to have been a largely pneumonic plague, augmented by human-to-human transmission via fleas carried by people. It spread across the known world, killing at least 40 million people in the deadliest pandemic in human history. Today, when people are infected by any form of plague, about 85% survive if they are treated promptly with appropriate antibiotics. Even in the absence of antibiotics, skillfully handled quarantine and isolation can break the chain of transmission. But these approaches to plague management require something that's missing in Turkmenistan: acknowledgment that the disease is a problem.

How bad is plague in Turkmenistan going to get? It is possible that — unknown to the outside world — the severely crippled Turkmenistan healthcare system has somehow managed to curtail the outbreak. But we cannot ignore the possibility that the plague may continue to spread. The secrecy that characterizes the Turkmenbashi's regime prevents the outside world from knowing what is going on inside the country's borders. "Turkmenistan is a black box," said Raymond Zilinskas, an expert on biological weapons and disease in the territory of the former Soviet Union. >>>

Turkmenistan's neighbors, Uzbekistan and Russia, are understandably worried. Tests run in Uzbekistan have confirmed the presence of plague in fleas and rodents in areas near the Turkmen border; cattle breeders, oil workers and geologists, along with thousands of camels, have been vaccinated in recent weeks. Most important, Uzbekistan has tightened border controls to prevent panicked or sick people from slipping over the border. Seven mobile anti-epidemic teams have also been sent to patrol the region. Russians, for their part, have banned the import of monkeys, cats and camels from Turkmenistan out of fear these animals could carry the infection.

So far as we can tell, the Turkmen government's strongest response to the outbreak has been to make its remaining health workers sign a pledge that they will not use the word "plague." But secrecy and denial can have devastating consequences. The startling eruption of a new, dangerous respiratory illness, SARS, in Guangdong, China, in the autumn of 2002 was kept a close secret by the Chinese government for months. The mainland Chinese outbreak eventually seeded nine other major outbreaks around the world; more than 8,000 people were infected and almost 800 died. Had the Chinese government asked for help from the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, those outbreaks need never have happened, and hundreds of lives — not to mention billions of dollars — could have been saved.

It is terrible to think that because of one man's hubris, and his ironfisted control of an isolated country, the lives of unknown numbers of people may be at risk. As Central Asia expert Martha Brill Olcott puts it: "The president is wholly unpredictable and does not behave rationally…. No one takes seriously that his policies can have tragic consequences for the people of Turkmenistan and those of neighboring countries."

The dead of Turkmenistan are tragic enough. But we also need to remember that epidemic disease does not often respect borders.

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Page 67
A note on the overall state of mankind today-
Most of the problems of the civilized world today exist because of an 'aristocracy' of one kind or another that is the basis of essentially ALL abuses and disagreements between peoples and nations -religion, ethnicity, government, economics et cetera - overpopulation and ecological disasters included -a matter of ignorance overall.

1 - Aristocracy? -yes: all governments and economies so far ('democracy' included) reflect the pecking order of 'warm-blooded cerebrating vertebrates' -the 'best worthy' manipulating the 'less worthy' on down.
2 - Religion? -yes: the only reason people have 'beliefs' of ANY kind (politics included) is that they did NOT get the science-based education they need to understand that 'Belief is the natural consequence of ignorance'.

3 - You DON'T 'Need god to explain it all'; there are NO 'natural rights and freedoms', and there are far better criteria than 'We need morality; how else can you tell right from wrong?'.
4 - 'Overpopulation and ecological disasters'? -yes, for the 'cheap natural resources and labor' of 'pecking-order-based worthiness and expression' -which posterity will have to 'eat'.
-et cetera, et cetera-

-we are, rather, a singular life-form (below) in a singular configuration space-


August 1, 2004 Los Angeles Times
It's Time to Bring Out the Dancing Shoes
Millions of older Chinese gather outdoors in summer to waltz and stamp, following a rite of generational passage.
By John M. Glionna, Times Staff Writer

BEIJING — Liu Ping wanted so badly to be graceful, to dance away the night under the stars like all those romantic couples she'd watched on state-run TV. She also needed to lose a little weight.
   The chubby 47-year-old recently decided to study ballroom dancing, but her husband refused. To dance, he insisted, wasn't masculine.
   So one Sunday evening, Liu arrived alone at a city park for her first lesson. She and a woman old enough to be her mother moved awkwardly through the steps of a waltz — like two sumo wrestlers grappling for advantage — as a drill- sergeant instructor barked out commands through a megaphone.
   "It looks easy on television," Liu said during a break. "But it's hard to learn."
   It's summer in China. And for millions of residents, that means it's time to dance.
   Morning and evening, during the cooler hours of the day, middle-aged workers and graying retirees gather in vacant lots, neighborhood parks, elegant public squares and even under bridges for what has become a generational rite of passage.

   The young may dance to a hip-hop beat in packed nightclubs, but more and more older people are taking up dance with a vengeance, seeking exercise, companionship and fun. And in an increasingly modern country, as children leave home to find their fortunes, their parents dance to stave off the loneliness of a phenomenon new to this society: empty-nest syndrome.
   Many Chinese, like Liu, prefer ballroom dancing, in keeping with a revival that has recently swept across Asia. Others choose a traditional folk dance known as yangge, in which mostly older women perform a quirky combination of line dancing and ancient Chinese step patterns — all to the cacophonous beat of drums and cymbals.
   More than 30 million Chinese — about the population of California — regularly perform what the government calls sports dancing, including the waltz, the jitterbug and the rumba. An equal number prefer yangge, according to statistics from the Chinese DanceSport Federation.
   In Beijing, an estimated 60,000 women flock each night to popular yangge events. Dressed in bright costumes and accentuated makeup, waving fans and ribbons, they sweat and stamp their feet, often just a few feet from couples sweeping about in organized ballroom dance routines.
   In Chongqing, in central China, 10,000 residents often gather in the city's mammoth public square both for yangge and ballroom dancing.
   Rather than frequenting private clubs or dance halls, many Chinese prefer to shake their groove thing outdoors, where the dancing is free. Many throw impromptu open-air dance parties that have the feel of an ice rink in reverse: The more advanced take to the outside while the beginners wobble about in the middle.
   Ballroom dance was introduced to China in the 1920s at the Shanghai ballroom known as Bailemen. As legend has it, even Chairman Mao Tse-tung liked to cut a rug, though he outlawed ballroom dancing for ordinary Chinese throughout the 1966-76 Cultural Revolution.
   Some say the structured moves of dances such as the waltz are a way to bring order to a chaotic world, comparing it with the calm brought by the fluid movements of tai chi. For many Chinese, the dance moves of yangge hark back to the regimented exercises they were required to perform as schoolchildren.
   For whatever reason, ballroom dance coach Guo Haizha said, business is booming.
   "Ever since the SARS scare, people pay more attention to exercise as a way to stay healthy," he said. Guo charges a one-time fee of 60 yuan, or $7, and students can keep coming back until they learn to dance. His outdoor classes are packed.
   In 10 years, Guo said, he has been tempted to refund a student's money only once, to a short, middle-aged man who came each night for four months and still could not master the steps to the waltz. He stepped on toes. Tempers flared.
   Then one night, almost inexplicably, the man got it. "Now he can dance," Guo said, "but he can't always remember the steps."
   Still, many Chinese men consider ballroom dancing too feminine. "So we have many all-female pairs," said Yin Guochen, general secretary of the Chinese DanceSport Federation. "People are traditional. Many think that having an unmarried man and women as dance partners might cause problems, like an affair."
   At Guo's class near Beijing's Behai Park, conducted at the end of a large open space along a lake where hundreds of residents milled about — walking with their babies, doing qigong exercises or just taking in the night air — a dozen couples moved in unison to the tinny sound of an old Communist revolutionary song that goes, "Fish can't live without water, flowers can't live without stems, and China can't live without Chairman Mao."
   In the packed park, a bicyclist riding through the clutch of students was almost socked in the face as a dancer thrust out a hand in an exaggerated move.
   Retired book publisher Fan Houyun is a class regular. With his sweat-ringed muscle T-shirt and round glasses, the 73-year-old looks more like a lumbering Marlon Brando than a fluid Fred Astaire. As in the bird kingdom, where males are more colorful than females, men are just more vivid on the dance floor, he contended.
   "A good male dancer can make a female look better," he said.
   Several miles away, beneath a busy freeway bridge in working-class south Beijing, Wan Xiuyin didn't need a male partner to make her dancing come alive.
   Most nights, she and her two best friends don bright red blouses, put their makeup on thick and head out for a few hours of yangge dancing. In a generational twist, their daughters sometimes get embarrassed about the way they dress.
   But Wan doesn't care. In a male-dominated culture, yangge is all about freedom: "We want to look good as a unit," she said. "And that means lots of red and lots of eye makeup."
   Yangge dates back more than 1,000 years to the Tang Dynasty but gained a modern following in the 1940s when the Communist armies fighting against Japan choreographed new movements of the folk dance.
   To the deafening drum and cymbal beat that echoed under the bridge, Wan and her crew moved in step, fluttering bamboo umbrellas that resembled larger versions of those little parasols that come in exotic drinks.
   "We pretend we're in the countryside harvesting wheat or riding horses," the 48-year-old seamstress said.
   Yangge has its critics. Many complain that such rural entertainment doesn't fit a sophisticated city such as Beijing. Many ballroom dancers look down their noses at the hordes of yangge enthusiasts.
   And yangge's accompanying drumbeat disturbs people nearby. Many yangge events are held beneath overpasses, where the noise can be more contained.
   Still, the government is looking to regulate the dance form by simplifying the steps and replacing musicians with tape players.
   But Wan's recent yangge fest had the let-loose feel of a Grateful Dead concert. One woman in a blue dress shook her head and pranced about under the bridge as though in some hallucinogenic stupor.
   Yang Guohua, a 40-year-old ballroom dance fan wearing a Kurt Cobain T-shirt, shook his head in disgust. Stopping to watch the woman dance, the businessman — whose cellphone ringer plays waltz music — had seen enough.
   "If she were my wife," he said, "I'd kill myself."

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where does an american public get its news/information if business selling to it is more important than learning to read ?

-cartoon from the Los Angeles Times

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July 24, 2004 The Economist Magazine
Anti-social behaviour
The war on incivility
Britain's latest crime worry is anti-social behaviour. It's hard to define—and even harder to police

ARE those uncouth teenagers hanging around on the street corner just going through a difficult phase, or are they chipping away at the foundations of decent society? The tendency these days is to think the worst. “Our country faces two major threats”, says Frank Field, a Labour MP and a veteran crusader against anti-social behaviour. “One comes from international terrorism, the other from neighbourhood terrorists.”

A decade ago, people worried about tangible crimes like burglary and car theft. As figures released on July 22nd showed, those are now in remission. But the overall level of anxiety appears not to have diminished at all. In the kind of psychological shift that unnerves governments, public worries now focus sharply on petty incivilities like vandalism, loud music and public loutishness.

The need to crack down on such annoyances was the main theme of two speeches this week by Tony Blair, the prime minister, and David Blunkett, the home secretary. It was also the chief spur to plans to put 12,000 more police on the streets in the next four years, along with 20,000 extra community-support officers. > > >

The war against anti-social behaviour may have been formally declared this week, but it has been heating up for the past few years. The state's arsenal starts, softly, with “acceptable behaviour contracts”, first introduced in 1999, in which tearaways promise to calm down.

Should they fail to do so, they are liable to be slapped with an “anti-social behaviour order” (ASBO)—a list of prohibitions, issued by a magistrate, which may prevent them doing uncivil things, hanging out with known troublemakers, or even visiting their favourite stomping grounds. A petty tyrant who steps out of line is liable to spend up to six months in prison.

Such remedies are draconian, particularly given that vandalism—the most measurable kind of anti-social behaviour—has been declining since 1995 (see chart). Even coppers are surprised. “I never thought I would live in a country where the police would have these powers,” says Stuart Chapman, a chief superintendent from the South Yorkshire force.

The powers are also virtually unique. Other countries fret about youthful misdeeds, but mostly because they are thought to lead on to more serious stuff. In America, the fear about teenagers hanging around the streets is that they will get sucked into gangs. There, as in much of continental Europe, a distinction is drawn between minor indiscretions, which are dealt with through informal negotiation or community sanctions, and criminal offences, which lead to custodial sentences.

Britain's innovation is to have criminalised behaviour that is not necessarily an offence in law. To obtain an ASBO, local authorities and the police do not have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that an offence has been committed. They only have to establish, on the balance of probabilities, that the local lout is making other people's lives difficult. That is fairly easy, which explains why, of the 2,497 orders sought before the end of March 2004, only 42 were refused. But while civil standards of proof apply to the issuing of ASBOs, criminal sanctions can be applied to those who break them. And they can be handed out for anything, from egging houses to dealing in drugs. Kate Hammond, a specialist prosecutor in Manchester, says, mildly: “It's quite a large stick.”

For local authorities, the new laws are a blessing. They now have a weapon against troublesome tenants—even the ones who live in private accommodation, who were formerly difficult to reach. They can disperse groups of youths and drunks from traditional trouble-spots, some of which now proudly display signs declaring them areas free of anti-social behaviour. Some authorities have made more use of ASBOs than others—about a third of the national total comes from Greater Manchester, for example. But pressure from voters and the government means that local authorities are likely to level up, not down.

Oddly, though, not everyone is happy. Some point out that ASBOs are likely to put more young people in prison, or into the care of the already struggling probation service. The number of under-21s in the slammer rose by 69% between 1992 and 2003; the trend reversed last year, but a few breached ASBOs would soon change that.

And even those in the front line worry that they have unleashed a monster. Council staff report an increasing number of calls about crying babies and children playing football in the street—petty annoyances that used to be dealt with by a quiet word, but which they are now expected to do something about. As Jan Wilson, the leader of Sheffield City Council, says, “this thing seems to be gaining a momentum of its own.”

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July 24 2004 The Economist Magazine
The Brazilian Amazon
Asphalt and the jungle
A road project in the Amazon may be the world's boldest attempt to reconcile growth and conservation

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July 18, 2004 Los Angeles Times
'Enemy Contact. Kill 'em, Kill 'em'.
U.S. troops are trained to respond instinctively during combat. But the lessons do not prepare them for the emotional distress that may arise.
By Charles Duhigg, Times Staff Writer

NAJAF, Iraq — Tucked behind a gleaming machine gun, Sgt. Joseph Hall grins at his two companions in the Humvee.
   "I want to know if I killed that guy yesterday," Hall says. "I saw blood spurt from his leg, but I want to be sure I killed him."
   The vehicle goes silent as the driver, Spc. Joshua Dubois, swerves around asphalt previously uprooted by a blast.
   "I'm confused about how I should feel about killing," says Dubois, who has a toddler back home. "The first time I shot someone, it was the most exhilarating thing I'd ever felt."
   Dubois turns back to the road. "We talk about killing all the time," he says. "I never used to talk this way. I'm not proud of it, but it's like I can't stop. I'm worried what I will be like when I get home."
   The men aren't Special Forces soldiers. They're just ordinary troops with the Army's 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment serving their 14th month in Iraq, much of it in daily battles. In 20 minutes, they will come under attack.
   Many GIs and Army psychiatrists say these constant conversations about death help troops come to grips with the trauma of combat. But mental health professionals within and outside the military point to the chatter as evidence of preventable anguish.
   Soldiers are untrained, experts say, for the trauma of killing. Forty years after lessons learned about combat stress in Vietnam, experts charge that avoidable psychological damage goes unchecked because military officials don't include emotional preparation in basic training.
   Troops, returning home with untreated and little-understood mental health issues, put themselves and their families at risk for suicide and domestic violence, experts say. Twenty-three U.S. troops in Iraq took their lives last year, according to the Defense Department — an unusually high number, one official acknowledged.
   On patrol, however, all that is available is talk.
   "Kill, kill, kill, kill, kill," Hall says. "It's like it pounds at my brain. I'll figure out how to deal with it when I get home."
   Home is the wrong place for soldiers to deal with combat experiences, some experts say.
   "It's complete negligence," says Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, a retired psychology instructor at West Point who trains law enforcement officers and special operations soldiers.
   "The military could train soldiers to talk about killing as easily as they train them to pull the trigger. But commanders are in denial. Nobody wants to accept the blame for a soldier who comes home a wreck for doing what his country asked him to do," he said.
   The emotional and psychological ramifications of killing are mostly unstudied by the military, defense officials acknowledge.
   "The idea and experience of killing another person is not addressed in military training," says Col. Thomas Burke, director of mental health policy for the Defense Department. "Training's intent is to re-create battle, to make it an automatic behavior among soldiers."
   He defends the approach, saying that if troops think too much about emotional issues in combat situations, it could undermine their effectiveness in battle.
   Other military representatives, including officers overseeing combat stress control programs, did not return repeated phone calls seeking comment.
   Much of the military's research on killing and battle stress began after World War II, when studies revealed that only a small number of troops — as few as 15% — fired at their adversaries on the battlefield.
   Military studies suggested that troops were unexpectedly reluctant to kill. Military training methods changed, Grossman and others say, to make killing a more automatic behavior.
   Bull's-eye targets used in basic training were replaced with human-shaped objects. Battlefield conditions were reproduced more accurately, Burke says. The goal of these and other modifications was to help soldiers react more automatically.
   The changes were effective. In the Vietnam War, 95% of combat troops shot at hostile fighters, according to military studies.
   Veterans of the Vietnam War also suffered some of the highest levels of psychological damage — possibly as many as 50% of combat forces suffered mental injury, says Rachel MacNair, an expert on veteran psychology. Most notable among the injuries was post-traumatic stress disorder, a condition contributing to violent outbursts years after soldiers leave battlefields.
   "The more soldiers ignore their emotions and behave like trained machines rather than thinking people, the more you invite PTSD," says Dr. David Spiegel with the Stanford School of Medicine.
   Military officials say there have been changes in treating psychological trauma since Vietnam.
   Foremost among them is the creation of combat stress-control teams — mental health professionals in Iraq who speak with troops immediately after traumatic events, such as a U.S. casualty.
   Military psychologists say immediate intervention is important in avoiding mental distress.
   "We get them to voice what they are feeling, to realize they're not the odd man out, not to blame themselves," says Capt. Robert Cardona, a psychiatrist with a combat stress-control team based in southern Iraq.
   But the demands of the military's mission and a soldier's mental health are sometimes at odds.
   "Our primary goal is to keep soldiers functional, so they can continue to fight," Cardona says. "Everything else, including feeling well, is second to that."
   Mental health technicians are available for troops who request help, Cardona says, but stress teams aren't deployed to bases just because U.S. forces kill hostile fighters. He says about half of the soldiers seeking help are traumatized because they killed someone.
   "Killing unleashes emotions few people are prepared to deal with," Cardona says. "We help soldiers put those emotions and experiences away, so they can go into battle the next day. We set the expectation that shock is temporary, and that they will return to duty."
   He's familiar with the death fixation in the soldiers' conversations.
   "When they talk, they're trying to prove to themselves and each other that what happens doesn't matter," he says. "There's a posturing going on, and sometimes soldiers themselves don't know how much they are affected by what they see. They start to believe what they tell each other."

Talk Turns to Killing
The men of the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment's Alpha and Charlie companies are resting and playing cards in the shade of a staircase here, and the talk turns to killing.
   "I enjoy killing Iraqis," says Staff Sgt. William Deaton, 30, who killed a hostile fighter the night before. Deaton has lost a good friend in Iraq. "I just feel rage, hate when I'm out there. I feel like I carry it all the time. We talk about it. We all feel the same way."
   Sgt. Cleveland T. Rogers, 25, avoids dwelling on his actions.

   "The other day an Iraqi guy was hit real bad, he was gonna die within an hour, but he was still alive and he started saying, 'Baby, baby,' telling me he has a kid," Rogers says. "I mentioned it to my guys after the mission. It doesn't bother me. It can't bother me. If it was the other way around, I'm sure it wouldn't bother him."
   Spc. Nathan Borlee tries to keep a lid on what he's feeling.
   "I feel like I'd lose control if I think about it too much, so I don't," the 23-year-old says. "Usually everybody comes back and just gives everybody a hug. You kind of get overwhelmed by the feelings."
   Without the proper training, experts say, these conversations may contribute to mental injuries.
   Grossman says training troops to have therapeutic discussions about killing is "not that hard." His curriculum, used by law enforcement officers and in the wake of traumas such as school shootings, focuses on mental and physical techniques to consciously manage anxiety and other emotional reactions to killing.
   "To make killing instinctual, rather than conscious, is inviting pathological, destructive behavior," Grossman says. "We have to give soldiers a vocabulary to talk through emotions and teach them not to be embarrassed by troubling feelings."
   Grossman says his suggestions have been overlooked by military commanders who are uncomfortable with the emotionally destructive aspects of military service.
   "The military goes for long periods without having to kill anyone," he says. "Generals don't spend a lot of time dealing with the parts that come after battle."
   Others say today's soldiers are fundamentally different from previous generations.
   "These guys grew up with video games," says Maj. John Hamilton, 50, an Army chaplain stationed in southern Iraq, where he counsels troops. "They've seen thousands of people die on TV. They're already numb. It scares me that some take delight in combat.
   "Others just become immediately scared, have nightmares. But that reaction is more frowned upon."

Duty vs. Ethics
Back in the Humvee, Hall and Dubois approach an abandoned elementary school that commanders say is hiding mortars and hostile fighters. Suddenly, the ground is punctuated by the yellow bursts of improvised explosive devices.
   Hall begins firing his .50-caliber machine gun, the phosphorus on each fifth bullet trailing long, red streaks.
   The constantly squawking radio pauses briefly and a calm, transmitted voice fills the truck.
   "Enemy contact," the radio broadcasts. "Kill 'em, kill 'em."

   Ahead, a tank pushes a hole through the school's wall. Staff Sgt. Robert McBride, 35, enters a classroom and sees a group of six Iraqis with guns, he later recounts. He throws a grenade. The blast cuts one Iraqi in half, and the rest lie dying from abrasions and burns on their bodies. The soldiers collect dozens of mortar rounds and return to their vehicles. McBride looks at the hostile fighters once more.
   "It did not bother me at all to see those bodies up close," McBride says later. "I'm a warrior. You're either born to this or you're not.
   "My soldiers, they are all warriors. They have no problems. I don't let them have problems. There is no place in this Army for men who aren't warriors."
   The men's commander, however, worries about them.
   "During the heat of the battle the adrenaline is such you don't really think about it," says Capt. Brandon Payne, 28. "Once that adrenaline wears off, though, it gets tough. Some kids, it rolls right off their backs. Some, it's like they break down a little more each day."
   Payne is as conflicted as his troops about making sense of war. Reconciling duty with ethics, he says, seems more complicated in Iraq.
   "I'm a Christian. I feel I'm saving my soldiers' lives by destroying as many enemy as I can. But at the end of each day, I pray to God. I worry about my soul," he says.
   "Every time a door slams, I flinch. I'm hoping it will just go away when I get home.

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July 12 2004
The Economist July 10 2004
The Cosby Show
A comedian with a message that is worth listening to

   BILL COSBY has had it up to here with black street culture. “Your dirty laundry gets out of school at 2.30pm every day, it's cursing and calling each other nigger,” he recently told a group of black leaders. “They think they're hip. They can't read; they can't write. They're laughing and giggling, and they're going nowhere.” The man who is arguably America's most admired black entertainer has turned from the long-suffering dad in “The Cosby Show” into a searing social critic. He dislikes entertainers who play to black stereotypes. He dislikes black street slang (“You can't be a doctor with that kind of crap coming out of your mouth”). And he dislikes parents who blanch at spending $200 on reading programmes but give their children $500 sneakers.

   Good on Mr Cosby. There is something of a conspiracy of silence about blacks' dismal performance in school: silence from black leaders who don't want to be accused of “blaming the victim”, silence from teachers who don't want to draw attention to the biggest failure of American education. But the achievement gap between blacks and whites is a disgrace.
   Black high-school students graduate an average of four years behind white students in basic academic skills. Most black students perform “below basic” in five of the seven key subjects measured by the National Assessment of Educational Progress. These dismal results are putting a ceiling on blacks' upward mobility—a ceiling that is getting ever lower as routine jobs are exported abroad or mechanised out of existence.
   The teachers and black politicians blame three standard villains: poverty, prejudice and school funding. A third of black children are brought up in poverty compared with just 13% of white children. Seven in ten black children attend predominantly minority schools, up from 63% in 1980; more than a third attend schools with a minority enrolment of 90-100%. But these villains nevertheless leave a lot unexplained.
   Take poverty. American history is full of examples of impoverished immigrants (Jews a century ago, Asians today) who have made it from the inner city to the Ivy League. More worrying still, the achievement gap is just as marked for affluent black children as it is for poorer ones. Or take school funding. There is no simple correlation between education spending and school quality. In “No Excuses: Closing the Racial Gap in Learning”,
perhaps the best book on this subject, Abigail and Stephen Thernstrom point out that Cambridge, Massachusetts, was left with a huge gap between black and white students despite spending $17,000 for each and every pupil.
   Or take prejudice. The percentage of people who tell pollsters that they have nothing in common with people of other races has declined from 25% in 1988 to just 13% in 2003. This is partly because the difference of income between blacks and whites with the same skills in maths and literacy has almost disappeared. Yet, over the same period, the gap in academic achievement has actually widened.
   All this suggests that Mr Cosby is on the right track. Researchers routinely explain Asian children's success in terms of Asian cultural values. So why not admit that black children are failing because their culture undervalues success at school—because so many black children dream of becoming sports stars rather than professors, because bookish black children are stigmatised for “acting white”, and because almost half of black ten-year-olds spend five hours or more each day watching television?
   Mr Cosby's diagnosis of black failure has another great merit. It comes with a remedy attached. Black America once had a flourishing tradition of self-help: the tradition of Frederick Douglass, who was born into slavery but became one of the great orators of his age, and of the army of self-educated blacks who came after him. This tradition was obscured during the civil-rights era as black leaders concentrated on dismantling the machinery of discrimination. But blacks desperately need to revive Douglass's belief in “self-cultivation” if the civil-rights revolution is to amount to something more than a hollow legal shell.

   A broadside too narrow
   Mr Cosby is well qualified to encourage this revival. He grew up in a poor area of Philadelphia and dropped out of school to join the navy. But he returned to university to take a doctorate in education, and continues to devote his energies to black improvement, writing books for pre-school readers and pouring money into black colleges.
   He has drawn flak, of course. But the real problem with his broadside is that it is too narrow. It is not just black leaders who are failing to hold young blacks to higher standards. It is America in general—and, above all, the educational establishment. Teachers are far too willing to make excuses for black failure, and universities have institutionalised low expectations through affirmative action. Why should black children try as hard as their white peers if they can get into college with lower marks?
   There are some signs that America is trying to tackle what George Bush once described as “the soft bigotry of low expectations”. The Thernstroms produce plenty of examples of minority schools that are raising academic performance through discipline and accountability. The No Child Left Behind Act—perhaps Mr Bush's most underestimated achievement—is explicitly designed to close the racial achievement gap through a combination of testing and penalties for poor schools.

   Changing the attitudes of young blacks will not be easy. It is always tempting to idolise celebrities who get paid millions of dollars while misbehaving. And it is always tempting to blame your problems on “society” when “society” has enslaved and disenfranchised your ancestors. But one thing is certain: black America's future will remain dim unless it begins to take Mr Cosby's jeremiads to heart.

(separate ariticle, same issue)

Danish immigration laws
Love bridge to Sweden Jul 8th 2004

One consequence of Europe's toughest immigration laws
   LAST week marked the second anniversary of what the Danish government boasts are the European Union's strictest immigration laws. But Christina Reves, a 23-year-old estate agent, was not celebrating. For the laws have driven Ms Reves and many other Danes with spouses from non-EU countries into involuntary exile in Sweden.

   Danes may tie the knot with anyone (same-sex marriages included), but getting a foreign spouse into the country is harder. To get a residence permit, both partners must be 24 or over. They must pass a solvency test, showing the Dane has not drawn welfare benefits for the previous 12 months, can lodge a bond of DKr53,000 ($8,700), and can earn enough to support his or her spouse. The pair must have a permanent home (no staying with family) and—the crunch for many brown-skinned Danes—be judged to have ties to Denmark exceeding those to any other country.
   In 2001, before the new rules came into force, some 13,000 family “reunification residence permits” were granted. In 2003 fewer than 5,000 were. Many who failed have found refuge in Sweden. EU laws on the free movement of workers let Danes, with their foreign spouses, take up residence in Sweden. Many keep jobs in Copenhagen. The new bridge across the Oresund makes cross-border commuting easy—if expensive. Sweden's more relaxed regime offers another loophole: Danes can qualify for Swedish passports after only two years' residence. Armed with a Swedish passport, former Danes can use EU laws to return home—with their spouses.
   Yet even if it can be surmounted, the web of complications and barriers has made the exiles angry. A group of Danes recently gathered on Malmo's main square to protest, saying they felt hurt and betrayed. They also expressed deep gratitude to their Swedish neighbours. “I'm very grateful to Sweden. I know they had to take me but they were extremely welcoming,” says Ms Reves, who now lives in a Malmo apartment with her Egyptian husband.
As many as 1,000 couples have now crossed the love bridge. The Swedish migration board reckons that Danes are arriving at a rate of 60 couples a month. The exodus could one day even exceed the country's previous migration record, set in 1943, when more than 7,000 Danish Jews were spirited across the Oresund to escape the Nazis. Then, as now, Danes found welcome refuge in Sweden.

(separate ariticle, same issue)

Women travellers
Running away from home

SOMETIMES they played the part, like Lady Hester Stanhope (1776-1839) with her Turkish pipe and turban, or Amy Johnson (1903-41), posed in pilot's goggles and leather headgear. But more often—at least in the 19th century, when women took to the deserts and forests in some numbers—the travellers who feature in an exhibition which opened on July 7th at London's National Portrait Gallery dressed themselves like maiden aunts, in perfect imitation of the conventions they defied. There is stern- looking Constance Gordon Cumming (1837-1924), ruched, trimmed and upholstered in Victorian silk; and there is Isabella Bird (1831-1904) with her umbrella, face grimly tied up in hat ribbons, looking like the old Queen Victoria.

   Nothing could have been more deceptive. The lives of these women were not at all like those of their Victorian sisters. The dour Constance, for example, describes herself naked in a Fijian stream, hair undone and eating oranges plucked straight from the trees. Mary Kingsley (1862-1900)—another pursed face in hat strings—fell into West African swamps, and exchanged fetishes and fish for hairpins and alcohol. Most of them ostentatiously shunned feminist causes. For women like these, it was home life that was the real hardship.
   Home meant confinement—“walls and gardens”, as Gertrude Bell put it. It meant years of looking after ageing parents and feckless brothers while “fighting a burning desire in my own heart”, as one of them wrote, “that craved for the whole world”. Home made Isabella Bird physically ill. Abroad, she could spend eight hours in the saddle and sleep soundly out of doors. But in England she suffered insomnia, depression and mysterious spinal complaints. “I find the society of English people fatiguing”, she once wrote after some months in the Far East. “My soul hankers for solitude and Freedom.”
   Dea Birkett's lively and informative book, published to coincide with the exhibition, resounds with this word, often written thus, with a capital letter. The author dashes through the centuries, from the early fourth to the late 20th, dividing her subject into categories: adventurers; companions; scholars; and writers and artists.
Among these there is some overlap, for the scholars were also writers, and the companions were sometimes adventurers, and so on. But with all of them, there is a palpable sense of exhilaration.
   Women travelled primarily for the joy of it. They had no theoretical axes to grind. As botany, geology, anthropology and other once amateur pursuits were gradually fenced off into all-male professions, so women struggled for education, funds and recognition. It was frustrating. But it meant that they were forced to travel simply, with little parade, either conceptual or actual. (Henry Morton Stanley, we learn, took eight tonnes of equipment on his first African expedition, carried by 300 porters.)
   The charge against women—that they were good only for facts and particulars—turned out to be their strength. More dependent upon local help, they came closer to the worlds they were observing. Less learned, they were more open to impressions, more susceptible to the unexpected. In the foreword to the book, Jan Morris, a travel writer who was James Morris before she changed her sex, concludes that the vulnerability of women, and everything that goes with that, has made travelling easier for them than for men. And she, after all, should know.
“Off the Beaten Track: Three Centuries of Women Travellers” is showing at the National Portrait Gallery, London, until October 31st

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-reading the next two articles should (if you haven't already done it :-) be followed by a visit to The State of the Planet or The Ecological Footprint Quiz

July 11, 2004 Los Angeles Times

When the push for survival is a full-time job
What is it like to live on less than a dollar a day? Hundreds of millions in sub-Saharan Africa know. Their work is an endless cycle of bartering, hawking and scrounging to get by until tomorrow.
By Davan Maharaj, Times Staff Writer

Every day is a fight for pennies.
   At sunrise, Adolphe Mulinowa is out hauling 10-gallon cans of sand at a construction site. It takes him an hour to earn 5 cents. Then he hustles to a roadside with a few plastic bottles of pink gasoline, which he hawks alongside dozens of other street vendors.
   "Patron! Boss man! Gas! Gas! Gas!" Mulinowa barks as a battered Peugeot shudders past, kicking a spray of loose rocks at his face.
   The car does not stop. Mulinowa, a short man in his mid-30s with sad, reddened eyes, squats down again beside his bottles. It is a scene repeated many times in the four hours it takes to sell them. Mulinowa pockets an additional 40 cents. Then, as the sun goes down, he heads to his evening job hawking used shoes and live chickens. A few more pennies.
   After a 12-hour day, he returns home to his wife and six children with his earnings: about 70 cents and a bag of cornmeal swinging from his hand.

   "We beat the belly pains today," he says in a tired mumble. "Tomorrow, more hard work."    Up and down the teeming streets of Goma, there is no real work as it is known in the West. There is only what everyone here calls se debrouiller — French for getting by, or eking a living out of nothing.
   Decades of war and disease, followed by a volcanic eruption that entombed nearly half the city beneath a rough crust of lava, have reduced work to a mishmash of odd jobs and scheming. Civil servants survive on bribes. A lawyer moonlights by making pastries. A single mother of four turns to prostitution in her living room, decorated with pictures of Jesus and Mary.
   They are among the poorest people on Earth, surviving on less than a dollar a day.
   In the United States, an individual who makes less than $9,310 a year is considered poor. The World Bank sets its poverty line at $730 a year — $2 a day. Half of sub-Saharan Africa's 600 million people live on about 65 cents a day — less than what an American might spend on a cup of coffee.
   It is never enough. In Goma, near the heart of Africa, an average family of seven spends about $63 a month, two-thirds of it on food. With every dollar, they make a choice among competing needs — food, rent, clothes, school and medicine.
   Sometimes it is a matter of life and death.
   Two years ago, Mulinowa's little boy, Dieudonne, or "God's gift," came down with a fever, cold sweats and shakes. Mulinowa knew that it was malaria.
   He took the 3-year-old to a muganga — Swahili for traditional healer — who sprinkled him with water, squeezed the pulp from some herbs into his mouth and sent him home. Two days later, the boy was dead. Mulinowa knows that with 20 cents for medicine to fight the fever and chills, he might have saved his son's life. But he didn't have the money.
   Neither did the families of three other children in the neighborhood who died about the same time.
   "I do not want this to happen to my Annissette," Mulinowa says of his 2-year-old daughter. "That's why we work from dawn to dusk."
   In some ways, the Mulinowas are better off than many Congolese. The family's wooden house, resting on an old lava flow, has a tin roof and some wooden furniture. The walls recently were whitewashed with paint from an aid agency. Their neighbors live in mud huts or houses fashioned from rusting galvanized sheets.
   In a town of debrouillards, Mulinowa has learned to exploit tiny advantages. He has figured out that, because Goma has dozens of gasoline vendors, his chances are better two miles away at the Rwanda-Congo border. There, drivers have to slow down and are more likely to notice him.
   His family also improves its odds by spreading out during the day, hoping that at least one member will earn enough to buy food.
   If Mulinowa doesn't sell enough gas, shoes or chickens, then perhaps his son, 18-year-old Ivan, will have better luck making deliveries with his homemade wooden scooter, called a chukudu. For a few cents per trip, Ivan ferries goods through a bazaar of vendors hawking their wares, grilling lake fish on smoky coals and blasting the guitar rhythms of soukous stars such as Kanda Bongo Man. Sometimes the merchants also give him small bags of flour or vegetables.
   If Mulinowa and his son fail, then daughter Bernadette, 15, might be able to bring in some money selling used clothes, canned sardines or other goods for neighborhood merchants.
   The fallback is Mulinowa's wife, Faith, who struggles to feed her family of eight when a 50-pound sack of manioc flour costs $24; a sack of beans, $17; and a dozen salted fish, $7. Occasionally she receives produce from relatives in outlying villages that she can sell for extra money.
   "When you work hard, good things happen to you," Faith Mulinowa says. "That's why we make it."

   Goma, on the eastern edge of Congo, is controlled by rebels fighting the central government hundreds of miles away in Kinshasa, the capital. One aid group estimates that at least 3.3 million people have died in the country's violence and chaos since 1998.
   But even a society living on the edge needs civil servants. Men with government seals, such as Pancrace Rwiyereka, a grandfatherly former schoolteacher who runs Goma's Division of Work, engage in their own version of se debrouiller.
   They don't bring home an actual salary, but the majority still show up for work every day. A government job gives them the opportunity to demand money from businesses and members of the public. Their official jobs are a charade.
   "Bribes are the answer," said a mid-level government employee in the finance department. "Why do you think we would never give up our jobs or strike to get our salaries?"

   Authorities require entrepreneurs importing goods to obtain stamps from at least six agencies: the main customs office, an immigration office, a health agency, a separate health office that certifies goods for consumption, the governor's tax revenue office and a provincial office that collects money from truckers for nonexistent road rehabilitation.
   Bureaucrats typically sell the stamps to the businesses at a reduced rate and then pocket the money. If a supervising officer discovers that the appropriate taxes haven't been paid, he too is paid off.
   Bribes in Goma range from about $5 for a birth certificate to about $100 for an import license. But workers have to share the take with colleagues and superiors. So on many days they go home with less than $1. The system ensures that a single bribe will feed several families for a day.
   Civil servants say they are merely finding a way to get paid for their services. That's the way it is here: Ordinary people always have had to scramble to survive. The only ones who have ever gotten rich are the leaders and those with connections.
   In the 19th century, King Leopold of Belgium treated the Congo colony as his personal possession. And the late dictator Mobutu Sese Seko, who took power in 1965 — five years after Congo won independence from Belgium — plundered an estimated $8 billion from the treasury during his three-decade rule. In a famous speech, he openly acknowledged the role of corruption.
   "Everything is for sale, everything is bought in our country," he said. "And in this trade, holding any slice of public power constitutes a veritable exchange instrument, convertible into illicit acquisition of money or other goods."
   Or, in the words of a government accountant: "Everyone has to look out for themselves. If you fail, you die."
   So each workday, 61-year-old Rwiyereka dons a brown jacket over a secondhand Izod shirt, grabs his briefcase and heads for a sparse office at the Division of Work. The beige walls have been stained by tropical rains that pound through the leaky tin ceiling.
   Rwiyereka has jammed his desk next to a window so he can catch a narrow shaft of sunlight. Several months ago, looters stripped the electrical cables from the building.
   From the window, he sees lush jungle and fertile, black land that once made this area the breadbasket of Central Africa. The hills are rich in fine hardwoods and minerals, including coltan, which is used to make computer chips in Asia and cellular phones in Finland.
   Despite this natural wealth, some Goma residents believe that the gods have cast them into hell. When it rains, lava still cooling after the eruption of Mt. Nyiragongo in January 2002 emits clouds of steam that envelope the city. The pungent smell of sulfur sometimes wafts in through Rwiyereka's window. Often, the bowels of the volcano rumble, forcing methane gas to bubble up in nearby Lake Kivu.
   At his desk, Rwiyereka points to two stacks of letters from workers. He says that those who want him to investigate grievances have to bring in their own paper so his unpaid secretary can pound out an official response on his manual typewriter.
   Rwiyereka chuckles when a visitor asks whether he and the 27 staffers in his office take bribes.
   "I try to tell them that is not allowed," he says. "But they have mouths to feed. They and I know that having a job that doesn't pay is better than having no job at all."

   There was a time when people thought that there was a way out. In a country where the vast majority of the people are illiterate, a college education would put one among the elite.
   But Diane Kavuo has learned the hard way that even with a diploma, she needs se debrouiller.
   Her father, who owned a small trucking business, poured most of the family's earnings into educating the brightest of his 11 children. It seemed like a ticket out of endless need.
   Kavuo, like many people in Goma, speaks five languages — English and French, and three African languages: Swahili, Lingala and Kinande. She also has a law degree. But the chaos of Congo's civil war shattered her plan, and today the 28- year-old lawyer helps the family by selling fritters in the market.

   Months go by without Kavuo earning a penny in fees from her legal cases, most of which involve unpaid loans of perhaps $100. Sometimes, lawyers groups pay her way to attend human rights conferences across Africa, where she highlights the plight of child soldiers and of women who have been raped by militiamen.
   Kavuo spends her per diem money on handbags, lotions and cosmetics, which she brings back to Goma and gives to hawkers to sell. She uses her profit to buy sugar, flour and baking powder for the fritters.
   A $50 investment returns $65. Almost half the fritters are given away to street children. But in Goma, the $15 profit can sustain a large family for several days.
   Kavuo says she dreams of a day when Congo is a stable and prosperous country.
   "Light is going to come," she says. "It's been dark too long."
   Until then, another Goma resident, 37-year-old Mama Rose, also will have to struggle to feed her four young children.
   Four years ago, militiamen robbed and killed her husband. Like Adolphe Mulinowa, he did odd jobs. But he had been his family's sole breadwinner.
   For several months, Mama Rose worked menial jobs and tried hawking goods on the street. But she found herself relying mainly on neighborhood men who befriended her and brought her small baskets of food.
   For that, they expected — and received — some intimacy.
   Many women in Goma rely on such relationships to feed their families. But Mama Rose had another idea. Why pretend that she was befriending the men for their company? Why not admit to herself that it had become a job and start charging money?
   "Every truth is not good to say," says Mama Rose, her radiant smile exposing her capped gold tooth. "But let us face it. In Goma, everything has a price. And I don't want to sell myself short."
   In some months, Mama Rose earns less than $25, mainly in her small living room decked out with pictures of Jesus and Mary. Stuffed toys lie on her single wood-framed bed.
   In a good month, when she works the better-off U.N. soldiers who are monitoring the conflict in Congo, she can earn up to $75.
   Mama Rose has persuaded other prostitutes to organize. They recently confronted the regional governor, who had declared that 80% of Goma's sex workers were infected with HIV or had AIDS.
   Mama Rose acknowledges that AIDS is a big problem, but denies that the infection rate is that high. Yet many of her friends have died of the disease, leaving their young children to fend for themselves and starting a new generation on the cycle of poverty.
   "We're not bad people," she says, dusting some breadcrumbs from images of the Virgin Mary printed on her dress. "This is how we have to live. This is how we put some food in our stomachs."

About this series
Six articles over the next two weeks:
PART 1: Today -- Eking out an income.
PART 2: Monday -- Staving off hunger.
Coming later:
PART 3: Settling for castoff clothes.
PART 4: Living in 100 square feet.
PART 5: Locked out of school.
PART 6: Surviving AIDS.
More on this series
BASIC NEEDS: The number of people in sub-Saharan Africa living in dire poverty has nearly doubled in the last two decades. Times staff writer Davan Maharaj and photographer Francine Orr traveled the continent over nearly two years to chronicle the continual struggle to survive on less than a dollar a day.
   ON THE WEB: More photos, narrated reports by the reporter and photographer and information on how to help can be found on the Times website at: Los Angeles Times

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-free-enterprise, capitalist democracy (wild)westernizes afghanistan-

July 11, 2004 Los Angeles Times
A Sin City Sprouts in Kabul
The good times may not last if Afghan conservatives manage to make alcohol an election issue for President Karzai.
By Hamida Ghafour, Special to The Times

KABUL, Afghanistan — In the Afghan capital, Westerners buy caviar from the supermarket while Afghans struggle to buy bread. Foreign women suntan in Chanel swimming suits while their Afghan counterparts are afraid to take off their burkas. Alcohol is banned under the new constitution, yet beer and wine parties are in full swing.
   But the good times enjoyed by thousands of aid workers, security contractors, consultants and even a few liberal-minded Afghans may be coming to an end. Mullahs and conservative politicians across Kabul are trying to turn rampant alcohol drinking into an election issue for President Hamid Karzai.
   One presidential candidate, Latif Pedram, recently told a political rally that Karzai was turning a blind eye to partying and prostitution and called for his resignation.

   Many believe that there are hundreds of prostitutes who have been brought from China to ply their trade at Chinese restaurants that they say double as brothels in the affluent neighborhoods of Wazir Akbar Khan and Shahr-i-Now.
   At one popular venue, guests are escorted to the main dining area, but behind the bar, a curtain barely hides a few dozen Afghan men sitting with Chinese women wearing tight dresses slit to the thigh — scandalous in a country where female citizens must wear loose garments.
   It is offensive to the Muslim culture, especially in a nation that is not used to the freedom of Western societies, said Obaidullah Rahman, imam of the Pul-i-Kishti central mosque in Kabul.
   "We have a constitution made up by representatives of Afghans from all sections of society," he said. "People will rise and grab Karzai's neck and say alcohol is against the constitution. The people will rise against him."
   At least a dozen bars, restaurants and clubs have sprung up to serve foreigners who earn anywhere from $4,000 to $20,000 a month and are happy to pay $25 for a pitcher of margaritas.
   The heady mix of money and a bit of boredom has created a sort of sin city where Westerners and some rich Afghans have turned to expensive cigars, caviar, Ecstasy and champagne as a form of release.
   "Kabul parties are like student union parties," said Dominic Medley, co-author of a survival guide to Kabul. "A mix of nationalities, music tastes, and they are done purely to burn off steam because there is nothing else to do.
   "But the Afghans are partying as well," he added. "I've been to wedding parties for returning Afghans with alcohol. Maybe alcohol is more accessible than it used to be because of the foreign influence."
   Fazal Ahmad Manawi, the deputy chief justice of the Supreme Court, said he was concerned that the lifestyle of Westerners was affecting young Afghans.
   "It has a negative impact on youth," he said. "If you are in a place and everyone is drinking and you are in a country where everyone else is deprived, you will use alcohol to the extreme. It is causing fights, thefts, car accidents and destroying relations in families.
   "This kind of freedom in developed countries is not something the people of our country can digest easily."
   Karzai, a devout Muslim, recently approved a resolution put forward by religious leaders emphasizing the ban on alcohol.
   The message appears to be lost on the Westerners chauffeured to restaurants and bars in air-conditioned vehicles. A recent issue of an expatriate magazine ran an advertisement for a German restaurant where "after an exciting day in Kabul" one could relax in a "traditional German beer garden."    A map showing the location was drawn for the reader and published the same week the British and American embassies sent a warning that terrorists were in the final stages of planning an attack on a place frequented by foreigners.
   Not even fear of a bomb attack has slowed the party scene, said one regular.
   "As long as there aren't any unnecessary risks, why not go? I need to unwind," said the woman, a public health worker who asked not to be named.

(separate article)
-ain't seen nothing yet; wait until global warming raises sea level-

July 11, 2004 Los Angeles Times
Floods Claim 11 Lives, Leave 2 Million Stranded From Times Wire Reports

Floods caused by a month of heavy rain engulfed vast areas in Bangladesh, killing at least 11 people and leaving 2 million marooned on hundreds of islands created by the deluge.
   Three of the victims died when mudslides buried their house in the Chittagong area in the south.
   Two children were swept into a river near the city of Cox's Bazar, local officials said.
   Much of Bangladesh is made up of the deltas of a series of large rivers, and floods kill hundreds every year.

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July 11, 2004
Science Magazine Vol 305, 2 July 2004

Playing Politics with Women's Lives
by Adrienne Germain

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) decision in May 2004 not to allow over-the-counter sales of the morning-after pill, Plan B, is but one troubling example of the increasing impact of politics and ideology on science and health policy. The agency's ruling, contrary to recommendations from an external advisory panel and its own scientific staff, is indicative of the growing gap between common sense and U.S. policies affecting the well-being of women and girls worldwide.

First, the facts: Emergency contraception, commonly called the morning-after pill, is a safe dose of hormones, taken by a woman within 72 hours of unprotected sex. It acts before the implantation of a fertilized egg or the beginning of pregnancy and is already available without a prescription in more than 30 countries, including the United Kingdom, France, and the Netherlands. The positive impact of the drug is enormous: It allows women to avoid unintended pregnancies and thus reduces the demand for abortion, a goal professed by many of the drug's most vocal opponents. Senior FDA scientists have dismissed the claims of critics that Plan B would increase adolescent promiscuity and the risk of sexually transmitted diseases. Both the American Medical Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have criticized the decision by FDA acting director Steven K. Galson.

Few would deny that there is a need to lower the number of births and unintended pregnancies among U.S. teenagers. The U.S. adolescent pregnancy rate is the highest in the industrialized world--10 times more than in the Netherlands or Switzerland. Of the 900,000 U.S. teenagers who become pregnant every year, 8 in 10 say their pregnancy is unintended. Many are physically, emotionally, and economically ill-prepared for motherhood. Currently, 53 out of every 1000 15-to-19-year-old girls in the United States give birth. They are more likely to drop out of school, receive little or no prenatal care, and have low-birth-weight babies with subsequent health problems. When our most vulnerable girls and their babies suffer, so do we all.

Such disregard for the realities of young women's lives is even more apparent in U.S. policies overseas. The U.S. administration imposed a global gag rule in 2001 (officially known as the Mexico City Policy) that restricts funds for family planning groups. This rule mandates that foreign organizations receiving money for family planning assistance through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) must deny such crucial information to women as the option of legal abortion or where safe family planning services may be obtained.

The policy stifles free speech and prevents medical professionals from offering women the full range of legal, medically acceptable options and does nothing to reduce the incidence of abortion. The use of U.S. tax dollars to fund abortions overseas has been illegal since 1973. The global gag rule primarily affects the delivery of contraception and other reproductive health services, because it is forcing clinics that offer women access to contraception, counseling, and vital maternal health services to cut back their operations or to close. In Ghana, the Planned Parenthood Association has not only curtailed family planning services due to loss of USAID funding, but nearly 700,000 clients have lost access to HIV prevention services.

Since 2002, the administration has also blocked $34 million in annual appropriations for the United Nations Population Agency (UNFPA), which funds maternal health and other programs in 140 countries. Like the global gag rule, the defunding of UNFPA especially affects family planning services that could prevent unintended pregnancies. Like the attack against Plan B, it ignores the recommendations of experts. The administration has held up these funds, citing claims by an extremist U.S. anti-family planning group that UNFPA supports coerced abortion in China, even though four separate investigative teams, including one dispatched by the U.S. State Department, found the charges by the U.S. group to be groundless.

As a nation we talk a good deal about compassion, but U.S. policies are putting the lives of young women at risk by pursuing health strategies conceived by ideologues who ignore social realities and best medical practices. Surely, our young women--and the world's--deserve better.

Adrienne Germain is president of the New York-based International Women's Health Coalition.

(separate article -same issue)
HHS Tells WHO: We'll Pick the Experts

The Bush Administration wants to pick the government experts advising the World Health Organization (WHO), a change in existing practice that critics see as the latest example of the politicization of science.

The new policy, laid out in a 15 April letter to WHO from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), explains that having WHO invite scientists to serve as consultants "has not always resulted in the most appropriate selections." Instead, says William Steiger of the HHS Office of Global Health Affairs, WHO must now submit its request to his office, which will then make the call.

In a 24 June letter to HHS, Representative Henry Waxman (D-CA) calls the policy "a raw attempt to exert political control over scientists and scientific evidence." He likens it to HHS's decision to curb the number of staff members attending the international AIDS meeting in Bangkok this month (Science, 23 April, p. 499). But HHS spokesperson William Pierce says the objective is "to make sure that WHO is getting the best we have to offer."

WHO has asked the United States to reconsider the policy, because it invites experts "for their personal knowledge," not as government representatives, says spokesperson Ian Simpson. `

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July 10, 2004 Los Angeles Times
Groupthink Viewed as Culprit in Move to War
By Vicki Kemper, Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — The 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion. The escalation of the Vietnam War. The go-ahead for launching the space shuttle Challenger.

"Groupthink," an insular style of policy-making, has been identified as a chief culprit in all. And to these, the Senate Intelligence Committee on Friday added the process leading to the decision to attack Saddam Hussein in March 2003.

Irving Janis, a Yale psychologist, coined the term in 1972 to describe a decision-making process in which officials are so wedded to the same assumptions and beliefs that they ignore, discount or even ridicule information to the contrary. When members of a cohesive, homogeneous group value unanimity and agreement on one course of action more than a realistic appraisal of alternatives, they are engaging in groupthink.

Experts said Friday that while groupthink was not entirely responsible for the acceptance of faulty intelligence information on Iraq, the Bush administration was, by design, particularly susceptible to that risky style of decision-making.

"Groupthink is more likely to arise when there is a strong premium on loyalty and when there is not a lot of intellectual range or diversity within a decision-making body," said Stephen M. Walt, academic dean of Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government. "The Bush administration has been an unusually secretive group of like-minded people where a very high premium is placed on loyalty."

All organizations and administrations face the same risk, Walt said. He added that while the report specifically indicted the intelligence community, others — including Democratic lawmakers and the media — also failed to challenge basic assumptions about Iraq's weapons capability.

"When a president makes a decision about something, there is a tendency to get on the train rather than throwing yourself in front of it," he said. "Whatever Bush's flaws may be, indecision is not one of them."

Business schools and political scientists are among those who warn would-be policymakers and managers of the dangers of groupthink. CRM Learning, a Carlsbad, Calif.-based company specializing in developing products for leadership and management development, has been selling its popular Groupthink video program since the 1970s.

"It's one of those films that people use again and again as new managers or leaders come in," said Lyndi Calder, the company's vice president of marketing.

The commonly cited "symptoms" of groupthink are a fundamental overconfidence that gives members an illusion of invulnerability and a belief in the inherent morality of the group.

The groupthink dynamic also is characterized by a pressure to conform that often leads group members with different ideas to censor themselves. But groupthink is most likely to occur when all or most members of a group share the same views.

In that sense, it is the opposite of collective wisdom, said James Surowiecki, a financial writer for the New Yorker and author of the recent book, "The Wisdom of Crowds."

"What's really striking about groupthink is not so much that dissenting opinions are crushed or shouted down, but they come to seem improbable," he said. "Everyone operates on the idea that this is true, so everyone goes out to prove that it's true."

Surowiecki, who concludes in his book that "under the right circumstances, most groups are remarkably intelligent," said it's when leaders surround themselves with like-minded people that groupthink is a danger.

"Collective wisdom," by contrast, comes when "each person in the group is offering his or her best independent forecast," he said. "It's not at all about compromise or consensus."

He said a guiding principle of the Bush administration seems to be that "everyone needs to be on the same page to reach a decision." To reach good decisions, he said, "I think it's exactly the opposite."

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July 3, 2004 Los Angeles Times
Rejecting a Ritual of Pain

In Kenya, 23 girls fled their village to avoid genital mutilation. But the tradition's powerful role in their culture makes escape difficult.
By Robyn Dixon, Times Staff Writer

ARROR, Kenya — She is so shy that she can only whisper her story, hiding her mouth behind a clenched fist, never meeting anyone's eye.
   Dorcas Chelagat, at 13, is one of the most powerless members of her tribe, a child whose value is equal to the dowry price of a few goats and blankets. But shyness sometimes conceals a well of strength.

   She tells of her journey with 22 other children who defied their elders and parents, who ignored the risk of ridicule, curses and beatings and turned their backs on their homes. The girls, ages 12 to 16, trekked six hours across snake- infested hills in the darkness, hiding whenever anyone approached, keeping silent all the way. They were determined to escape the ritual of female genital mutilation still practiced almost universally in their Kenyan valley.
   Their action in December was so bold that it frightened the grown-ups. Some parents feared dark repercussions. Would they be cursed? To the tribal elders, it was the greatest threat to unity and tradition they had ever seen.
   But the Kenyan government, which has outlawed female genital mutilation, quickly sent the girls home to face the certainty of the ritual, forcing those who dared to run away again.
   The village of Arror, 110 miles from Eldoret in western Kenya, is nestled in a lush green valley beneath a spectacular mountain. Echoing with bird calls and burbling brooks, the hamlet of 1,200 people seems a world of idyllic tranquillity. Circular mud huts are scattered along narrow trails where women of the Marakwet tribe, wearing cheerful scarves and pretty glass beads and carrying machetes in straw bags, loiter to chat.
   Beneath the surface, however, is a world of brutal conformity, oaths of secrecy, dark curses and a suffocating fear so powerful that many mothers feel unable to protect their daughters from the agonizing ritual they suffered as girls.
   In the Marakwet community and many other tribes, there is no route to maturity for girls except through genital mutilation.
   Some mothers push their daughters into it, promising them gifts. But the most avid supporters are fathers and the tribe's elderly men and women.
   "My mother said it was good for me to do it," Dorcas recalled. "She said, 'You'll be a mature person. You'll have a chance to feast with other women.' She said the family goats would be slaughtered for the feast. She said once I was initiated I'd be free to be married, because an uncircumcised girl could not marry."
   The first cut, made during an annual public ceremony, is small and symbolic, said Jacob Kibor, a Marakwet pastor who has campaigned long against the practice. Then the girls are taken to a seclusion hut where the major operation takes place, using a knife or blade and no anesthetic to remove the external sexual organs, including all or part of the clitoris and labia.
   "Girls are supposed to remain stoic," Kibor said. "But there's only so much a person can take." If a girl does shame her family and scream, the women in the seclusion hut sing loudly to cover it up.
   The girls are sworn to an oath of secrecy. Joseph Chebii, who sent his daughter to face the ritual long ago, is still convinced it is a worthy tradition that causes no pain.
   "It's not painful. It's nothing," he said scornfully as he hoed a rocky patch of ground.
   A World Health Organization paper in 2000 estimated that 2 million girls were at risk of genital mutilation annually, most of them in 28 African countries. It estimated the prevalence at 38% in Kenya, with the highest numbers in rural areas.
   The paper said that the initial bleeding and shock could kill and that women often suffered severe lifelong complications in silence.
   Ask villagers the reasons for the ritual, beyond initiation into adulthood, and they reply simply that it's always been done.
   The ritual is practiced in various forms by other tribes in Kenya and other African countries. In some cultures it is seen as a way of preventing female promiscuity; in others it is seen as aesthetically pleasing.
   All the Marakwet elders look forward to the ritual. Each December, goats are killed, there is feasting, a celebration and traditionally brewed beer. When the girls ran off, the whole tribal sense of unity and meaning was threatened. There was shock and anger. A group of villagers went to district officials, claiming they had no plans to make the girls undergo the ritual.
   "The elders really like it because there's celebration and feasting. How can they feast, if there's no girls to be circumcised?" said Susana Cheboi, 45, the mother of Belinda, one of the runaways. "I was circumcised when I was a very little girl. I experienced a lot of pain, and I vowed I would not let my daughters go through it."
   In 1992, Cheboi tried to save her daughters from it.
   "I went and told the elders I did not want my daughters to be circumcised. But they came in the night and took my eldest daughter and my second daughter away and had both of them circumcised," she said.
   "I cried a lot."
   Cheboi's husband has always been strongly in favor of the ritual. She broached the subject with him a few times, explaining how much pain she suffered during the ceremony, and during the birth of every child, when she had to be cut again. But he brushed aside her complaints.
   "He said, 'That's impossible, because it's our culture.' He dismissed me and said everyone had to go through it, so why complain?"
   Tina Kamaina, 36, the mother of another runaway, said her husband simply informed her that their daughter Patropa would undergo the ritual.
   "When they plan a circumcision, the elders of this area circumcise every girl. You can't say anything," Kamaina said.
   "I was afraid of what might happen if my daughter wasn't circumcised. Around this place, if you speak out when girls are being circumcised, you can be chased away or something terrible can be done to you.
   "They can put a curse on you. The Marakwets have their culture, and they mean what they say."
   She was shocked and afraid when Patropa ran away a few days before the ceremony. But she said later she felt secretly glad her daughter had escaped.
   Asked whether she suffered because of her own operation, she murmured, "Too much."
   Girls whose parents wait too long to have them undergo the ritual are ridiculed and ostracized. Songs are made up about their plight as eternal children, which ring out whenever they pass.
   A few girls have fled from the procedure for years. Here in the Kerio Valley, 17 girls ran away together in 2002 from a village about 45 miles from Arror and sought the support of the Center for Human Rights and Democracy in Eldoret, which won a court order protecting them from the procedure.
   The center's director, Ken Wafula, set up a network of community monitors, who stage seminars in villages at the beginning of the ritual's season to warn girls of possible complications, inform them of their rights and offer encouragement and protection to runaways.
   Encouraged by the monitors, 40 girls from villages in this valley district ran away to Eldoret in December, including the 23 from Arror.
   When the Arror girls saw preparations for the ritual — the brewing of beer and the appearance in their homes of goat skins that the girls must wear after the initiation — they fled, accompanied by one of Wafula's community monitors.
   Darkness was falling. They had traveled only a short distance. A group of suspicious villagers met them on the road and demanded to know what they were doing.
   Their hearts racing, the girls pretended they were on their way to a school camp. The villagers returned to Arror, where they ran into one girl's father and alerted him. He gave chase, but his daughter saw him coming and ran into the scrub to hide.
   Furious, the man demanded that the other runaways hand over his daughter, but she was nowhere to be seen and eventually he gave up. Then the girls left the road, walking through steep, snake-filled terrain.
   "The last thing anyone was thinking about was getting bitten by a snake. We were thinking about getting away from the circumcision," Dorcas whispered. "We were afraid, because it was dark and scary."
   After six hours, they arrived at a minibus stop and waited there for four hours. By morning, they were in Eldoret. The next day, an elder of the African Inland Church, Edward Limo, took all 40 girls into his home.
   "If you are running from danger, I cannot turn you out," said Limo, 78, a fervent Christian. "I'll take care of them as long as they [wish] to remain here."
   As a Marakwet boy, he did not know what school was until he ran away from his village at 13 and joined a mission school. The first Marakwet girl he saved from the ritual was his own sister, helping her to run away in 1943.
   But his efforts to rescue the 40 girls in December were not as successful. A few days after the girls fled, Linah Kilimo, a government minister from the Marakwet community, intervened and insisted that they be sent home. Two government vehicles took them away.
   Limo said Kilimo, a woman, angrily reprimanded him for harboring the girls. "She said, 'You can't change the Marakwet culture overnight.' "
   When forced to go home, "we all cried," Dorcas said. "The feeling was the minister did not want us to stay here, because of politics."
   Gladys Chelakat, another runaway, said that when the girls returned, some parents vowed to go ahead with the rituals: "My parents were really angry. They were ready to circumcise me because they said if I didn't go through it, I'd always be a child. But I decided that I'd stand firm whatever happened, so that I could become an example in the community."
   Shortly afterward, 33 of the 40 runaways fled again to Limo's house, traveling in groups of two, three or four. He doesn't know the fate of the seven who did not return. This time the government did not intervene.
   He kept four girls at his home and sent others to Christian boarding schools. Eleven later went back to their families, either because they were young and missed their mothers or because they could not cope with school. One was pregnant.
   The biggest problem the remaining girls and Limo face is what to do about the thousands of shillings in unpaid school fees, mounting term by term.
   "By July, I may not be able to hold the girls. I may have to discontinue them," said John Cherviyot, the principal of Kaptagat Prep School, which some of them attend. It's unclear what will happen to them if no one picks up the tab.
   The U.N. has opposed female genital mutilation since the early 1950s, but half a century later, millions are still at risk every year. Activists such as Kibor are perplexed as to why decades of campaigning against the practice have failed to quash it.
   "One reason is there hasn't been a viable substitute for this custom," he said, adding there must be a way to pass on the good tribal teachings and traditions without mutilation.
   Traditionally, girls faced the procedure at about 17, but elders have responded to the campaign against the ritual by targeting girls as young as 8, when they're less likely to resist.
   But the recent desertions of dozens of girls at one time pose an unheard of challenge to elders, and their numbers could grow if Wafula has his way.
   "If girls keep running away, the tradition will die out," said Chebii, the villager who sent his daughter to undergo the procedure. But privately, some women feel otherwise, saying the community would lose nothing by abandoning the ritual.
   Kamaina, whose daughter Patropa is at one of the schools, also wants her other daughters to escape genital mutilation, but asked how, she fell silent.
   "I don't know," she finally whispered.
   When Belinda ran away, Cheboi once more told her husband about the agonies of the ritual. This time, he did not dismiss her.
   "He said, 'I'm listening and I'm learning slowly.' "
   Cheboi is determined to send the youngest of her four daughters, Jepkoech, 9, to an uncle's to avoid mutilation.
   A hundred miles away in Eldoret, in a quaint sitting room with biblical quotations hanging on every wall, Limo leafed proudly through several dozen school reports, sharing his hopes that his girls could go to college.
   Dorcas wants to be a lawyer and help other girls. Limo says she is strong, under the shyness. "She'll do it," he said, smiling.
   Later, as the visitors left, Dorcas looked up and met their eyes.

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Page 78
June 30, 2004

Science Magazine VOL 304 25 JUNE 2004
Documenting the Bushmeat Trade's Toll

Many conservationists consider rampant commercial hunting for bushmeat one of the biggest threats to Africa's apes, forest antelope, and other species (Science, 11 Apri12003, p. 232). This site from the Bushmeat Crisis Task Force pushes an agenda, but it also offers abundant background information for researchers interested in the problem. Bibliographies list more than 300 technical books and papers, nearly 150 reports, and 800-plus news articles, many available online. For example, you can read a recent report on measures some logging and mining companies have taken to reduce bush meat trade on their land. You'll also find synopses of bush meat research projects in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

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Page 79
Audubon Magazine July-August 2004

Drunk on Ethanol

Our addiction to corn-derived alcohol is not only costing us a lot of money, it's also wiping out fish and wildlife habitat, and polluting our air, soil, and water.

By Ted Williams

The answer is the American public.

The question was: Who would spend 10 cents to 20 cents more per gallon for gasoline that reduces mileage, degrades your car, destroys fish and wildlife, increases air pollution, and makes the United States more dependent on foreign oil?

[Click on photo for complete story.]

One-tenth of all corn grown in the United States is used to produce ethanol.
Photography by Richard Hamilton Smith

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Page 80
June 27, 2004 Los Angeles Times Book Review

June 27, 2004
Yesterday's seeds, today's harvest
Richard Steven Street’s remarkable history of California’s farmworkers.
By Mark Arax

'Beasts of the Field A Narrative History of California Farmworkers, 1769-1913'
Richard Steven Street
Stanford University Press: 904 pp., $75; $29.95 paper

'Photographing Farmworkers in California'
Richard Steven Street
Stanford University Press: 330 pp., $39.95

My grandfather, Aram, took the long road to California in the spring of 1920. His migration covered 7,000 miles by ship and train. There was no turning back.

Everything along the way seemed so farfetched to him — the Statue of Liberty, the nation's capital, the budding factories of Detroit. It wasn't until the tracks reached Fresno that America came true. Outside his window, at the foot of the Sierra, the San Joaquin Valley shimmered. Vineyards and orchards and vegetable fields, row after perfect row. As his train chugged into town, my grandfather kept muttering the same words in Armenian. "Just like the old land."

The old land was a lazy village beneath the Mountain of Mist in Bursa, Turkey. Every month the Anatolian sun ripened another fruit, but it was the silk from the mulberry that gave the village its wealth. "We had a very easy life," he told me. "Our village was too prosperous to do its own work. The poor Turkish workers did it all. We used to have a name for them — 'almost like slaves.' "

My grandfather survived the 1915 genocide at the hands of the Turks by hiding in an attic with Maupassant and Baudelaire. He came down after a year with plans to attend the Sorbonne University and write for a living. Then the letters from his Uncle Yervant in Fresno — "watermelons as big as small boats" — arrived. My grandfather was 19 when he took the bait.

He might have been forgiven for assuming the best when his uncle drove up to the depot that day in a shiny Model T Ford. It wasn't a week later that they headed three hours south on a country road and landed in Weedpatch. There, long before the Okies and Steinbeck arrived, my grandfather dropped to his hands and knees and began picking potatoes. Up and down the valley he trailed the harvest. Watermelons, peaches, grapes, oranges and olives. This new land wasn't like the old land. My grandfather had become one of the beasts of the field.

He was far luckier, it turned out, than the legions of migrant farmhands who came before him, men whose American rebirths and brutal journeys are vividly captured by Richard Steven Street in "Beasts of the Field," a stunning narrative history of California farmworkers from 1769 to 1913. It took my grandfather four seasons working alongside his widowed mother, sister and brother to go from fruit tramp to farmer. He would watch his brother, Harry, become a cop killer in 1934 and his son, Ara, become a murder victim in 1972 after both strayed from the farm.

My grandfather taught me, the oldest child of that murdered son, that our drama was part of a larger drama that played out in California agriculture long before his arrival. Because I spent years gathering his story, I thought I understood why the dreams of so many immigrants are swallowed up by the fields. Because I live in the San Joaquin Valley, the most productive farm belt in the world, a place built on the backs of fieldworkers, I thought I understood their lives. For the last six years, I've collected and written the narratives of the black sharecroppers, Mexicans and Okies who came here to pick the cotton for such giants as J.G. Boswell.

But "Beasts of the Field" is a history book that reaches into the present and changes the way we see things. I now understand why the lives of farmworkers so often end in the same broken place. Because it has always been this way — as far back as the native Chumash and Gabrielinos who plowed the first fields in the shadow of the missions and the Chinese who erected the levees to drain the waters of the great Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and the white Europeans who threshed the wheat as the giant metal harvester, the farm's first breathing machine, snorted and clawed at the earth.

For the first time, thanks to Street's 25-year labor of love, the whole extraordinary tapestry of that early era is before us. A photographer, journalist and scholar, Street hails from no academy and works for no publication. Logging thousands of miles from field to library to newspaper morgue, he has produced a work of monumental scholarship. One might ask if the subject hadn't been thoroughly mined. Countless academics and journalists, after all, have documented in articles and books the peculiar institution that is California agriculture. But although readers may believe that Carey McWilliams' seminal 1939 work, "Factories in the Field," offered the definitive word on the feudal empires of the soil, Street provides a far more exhaustive, layered and satisfying portrait. Simply put, Street's remarkable book belongs on the short shelf of such indispensable works of American history as Oscar Handlin's "The Uprooted" and Bernard Bailyn's "Voyagers to the West."

He steers clear of the polemics and dry scholarly treatments that have undermined less ambitious books on the subject. Instead of shouting his moral indignation at the lot of farmworkers, Street builds his case pound for pound with an assiduous weighing of the facts. He does so with language that may not be lyrical but serves his chronological narrative well, giving a voice to those who have always appeared to us hidden under hats, muffled in bandanas, backs to the sun, hands in the earth.

Notably, Street, who is the Ansel Adams fellow at the Center for Creative Photography and a onetime Guggenheim fellow, has accomplished this while putting together a companion volume, "Photographing Farmworkers in California," that stands out as a comprehensive visual record of farm labor from 1850 to the early 1990s. In the more than 270 images, we see workers picking, striking, fighting, dancing, resting, praying and dying in photographs shot through the lens of the famous (Dorothea Lange) and the obscure (Ernest Lowe). His third volume, set for publication in fall 2005, will complete the massive history, focusing on the period 1913 to 2000 and the farmworkers' struggle to unionize.

"Beasts of the Field" follows the migrant field hands dawn to dark through the early evolutions of a California agriculture destined for industrial greatness. First, the missions sought a blend of salvation and self-sufficiency. Then the bonanza wheat farms chased the numbing notion that bigger is better. Finally, the vineyard and orchard growers recognized that the Golden State offered a one-of-a-kind union of soil and climate. Why waste it on mere wheat?

Street gives the reader the look, smell and taste not only of those fields but also of the Chinatown opium dens and the skid rows crackling with liquor, prostitution and murder where the workers' long day ended. Nowhere in the 625 pages of text (and more than 200 pages of notes) does he shy away from his singular focus, and why should he? The story of agriculture is the story of California from Junípero Serra, the Franciscan friar who brought the first field hands north, to Japanese immigrant Kinji Ushijima, the Potato King who harvested 28,000 acres of spuds in the early 1900s on reclaimed delta land. Every epic migration that transformed the state was a migration rooted in the fields.

"Adrift in a landscape of ordered beauty," he writes, "the [farmworkers] illustrate the human costs required to produce a geography of abundance, telling us not only about irony, suffering, misery, acrimony, disorientation, resentment, cynicism and violence but also about hope, tenacity, sacrifice and generosity."

Who, precisely, were the first campesinos in California? That they were brown-skinned peoples native to the land down south should come as no surprise. By early 1769, Spain had kicked the Jesuits out of Baja California and installed the Franciscans as missionaries who would claim the Pacific Coast. The Franciscans dragged a group of Cochimi Indians north for the "Sacred Expedition." By summer's end, more than half the Cochimi — 180 in all — had died of disease and starvation.

Street deals head-on with a question that has long divided scholars of the mission period. Were the padres taskmasters or slave drivers? Were the Indians ennobled or exploited? What was so bad about Catholicism, hard work and an adobe roof over the head, even if they came with the dreaded disciplina, the rawhide whip?

The padres weren't monsters, Street agrees. They fed the newly baptized California natives well, sweated alongside them and rarely demanded more than a 40-hour workweek. And for their part, the natives could be exasperating. By the droves, they feigned illness and ran away from the missions and hid in the tules of California's interior, where they became addicted to booze and games of chance. But Street ultimately comes down on the side of mission critics, concluding that the system reduced natives to "childish dependence, prepared them for nothing, exposed them to diseases."

Measuring the agricultural legacy of the missions is easier. The California natives who joined the Cochimi planted the first vineyards and wheat fields, erected the first brush dams and dug the first irrigation canals. A peek into the state's future grape and wine industry could be glimpsed at the San Gabriel mission where the 170-acre La Viña Madre, "the mother vineyard" had taken root. Likewise, the practice of labor contractors acting as go-betweens in the California fields began with the mayordomo, boss men selected from the ranks of mission guards.

For the better part of a century, the male natives bent, stooped, squatted and crawled with their poles, clippers, sacks and buckets. The women, who weren't allowed in the fields, had their own quotas to meet grinding wheat and corn. Their positions hardly changed after Mexican rule replaced Spanish rule and the natives were supposedly free to pursue a life of small-scale farming. Instead, cast adrift, they huddled in dusty camps like the one on the outskirts of El Pueblo de Los Angeles, where they led "vicious and irrational lives."

Growers in the 1850s were still so reliant on native field hands that they pushed the newly minted U.S. state of California to enact a law that controlled the natives and forced them to work. The Indian Indenture Act, in the words of McWilliams, "competed favorably with slavery." Only when the native population dwindled to a band of old and crippled field hands did the farmer begin his eternal search for a new group of desperate and poor.

The late 1860s and 1870s brought fresh laborers to the fields: hard-luck Americans of European stock who had come West with gold fever but who now found themselves threshing and bagging California's booming wheat crop. Street brings to life the grinding toil of the men who wandered farm to farm, their worldly possessions packed tight in a bindle. He does his best writing describing how they mounted the first leviathan wheat harvesters and bounced all day over rough ground, jolting themselves silly. They could not escape the Central Valley sun.

"The heat had an almost metallic characteristic," he writes. "It was a weight that men carried on their backs, a fiery warmth that cracked their leather boots, heated equipment to the point where it could not be touched without gloves and baked straw so crisp that it snapped like glass filaments underfoot."

He lingers on the wholesome meals served to the wheat threshers and on the songs they sang, always swearing off another harvest season: "Don't go, I say, if you've got any brains. You'll stay far away from the San Joaquin plains."

As the crops grew more diverse, the call for more dependable farmworkers grew louder. It was answered by peasant Chinese farmers from the Guangdong province who poured off ships in the 1850s and fanned out to Stockton, Sacramento, Fresno, Sonoma County and Los Angeles. Among the myths Street debunks is the notion that the Chinese constituted a significant minority of farm laborers at any one time. Of the 50,000 Chinese in California in 1861, only about 1,500 had moved onto farms.

Nowhere was their imprint more lasting than in the delta, where they drained hundreds of thousands of acres of wetlands with an incredible latticework of levees. The Chinese boasted their own system of mayordomo: "China bosses" who made good on the promise that each field hand would pick 1,500 to 2,000 pounds of grapes a day. The bosses won many jobs by agreeing to a pay scale of $1 a day — cheaper than the wage for Mexicans, $1.25, and for whites, $1.50.

"Beasts of the Field" makes clear that the issue of wages has long pitted field hand against field hand, striker against grower and reformer against politician. The debate always seems to start and end in the same place. The farmer believes he isn't exploiting the field hand because what he offers is so much better than what the worker had back home. The reformer shouts back that the farmer is engaging in the cheapest form of moral inoculation. It is the ideals of this country — not the Third World exigencies of their old land — that judge morality. A dime a day in Guangdong doesn't excuse a dollar a day in Weedpatch.

The picker does hold certain leverage. Crops left too long in the field perish. A two-week delay in picking might bring a grower to his knees. This math drove the Chinese to strike again and again in the 1880s, shutting down the fruit harvest in Santa Clara and the raisin pick in Fresno until they got their way, the same wages as the white man.

That the "coolies" had the cheek to strike only played into the anti-Chinese sentiment sweeping across the land. Farmers didn't know what side of the fence to stand on, with their white neighbors or with their ethnic field hands. Some tried appealing to logic: "Americans can not go out in the hot sun and stoop over the vines all day when the thermometer is probably 115 degrees in the shade," one grower asserted. "Our American sons won't do that."

For all its breadth, "Beasts of the Field" never quite makes the case that agriculture's exploitation differed from the brutality imposed by industrial America. Was farm work worse because it took place under the searing sun? Were the white farmers greedier as a class than white factory owners? Were the bottom-line impulses of agriculture different from the quotas that industry imposed on their beasts of the steel mill?

Occasionally Street tips the scale of judgment in error. He quotes a 1913 editorial by Chester H. Rowell, a longtime editor of the Fresno Republican, likening the perfect field hand to a manifold beast. Rowell, it turns out, wasn't expressing his view but what he regarded as the unfortunate view of the farm lobby. The sarcasm is not noted by Street.

Back on firm ground, Street details how the racist views of the Yellow Peril culminated in the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act that, over time, dried up Chinese labor. The Japanese then staged their own rising. At the height of their influence in 1909, about 30,000 Japanese worked on California farms, accounting for nearly 42% of the labor force.

More than any other ethnic group, the Japanese saw fieldwork not as an end but as a means to buy their own farms. Toward that goal, they became tough negotiators. They confronted and boycotted growers, withheld labor at key times and walked out during harvests. By 1910, many Japanese had realized the dream of becoming farmers; they had bought 17,000 acres and leased 89,000 more, dominating the strawberry, melon and sugar beet crops.

The Yellow Peril soon raised its ugly head again. The so-called Gentlemen's Agreement in 1907 halted Japanese immigration. As always, Big Ag didn't know where to turn. Into this vacuum, miraculously, came the Greeks, the Sikhs, the Portuguese and the Armenians.

My grandfather didn't have the benefit of those hobo songs to steer him clear of the San Joaquin plains. The only song he heard was his Uncle Yervant's naively sweet one. For that second harvest, he returned to Weedpatch with his mother, sister and brother, this time to work for Villa Kerkorian, a grape grower with a ferocious mustache resembling Pancho Villa's.

My grandfather and his family slept in the Kerkorian barn on a bed of raisin crates and hay until one night when they began feuding. Grandpa's 17-year-old brother, Harry, had the gall to question the arrangement by which Uncle Yervant picked very little and played pinochle a lot. Challenged for the first time, Yervant stormed out of the barn.

"That boat that brought you over," he shouted. "I would have been better off had it brought a sack of potatoes instead."

They didn't speak again for years. By that time, Harry was well on his way to killing a cop in Long Beach and serving a life sentence in San Quentin. My grandfather was married and farming raisins outside Fresno. In his 80s, as he grew blind, he gave me a stack of poems he had written to the memory of the grape and cotton pickers: "To my white, brown, yellow and black brothers and sisters who toiled under the hellish sun."

A few weeks ago, as another harvest neared, I drove to Weedpatch and tried to find the old Kerkorian ranch. Villa Kerkorian had lost all his land during the raisin bust of 1920-28. Not long after, they found an ocean of oil beneath his old grapes. Kerkorian didn't live to see his get-even: His youngest son, Kirk, came to rule MGM and rank as one of the world's wealthiest men.

At the edge of town, a few miles down the road from where John Steinbeck encountered the Okies, I met a young Mixteca who had arrived the week before from deep in Mexico, her land turning to dust. She had been smuggled across the border in the back of a Suburban and was using her wages from the bell pepper fields to pay off a $1,900 debt to the coyote. I asked her why she had come and she began to tear up. She had left behind two young children with her mother. "For their future," she explained. In another few days, she will stop harvesting peppers and begin picking grapes. In the powdery loam, she will trace the footsteps of my grandfather and the other "beasts" whose imprint Street has so faithfully recorded.

They still walk through these fields.

Mark Arax, a Times staff writer, is the author of "In My Father's Name" and co-author of "The King of California: J.G. Boswell and the Making of a Secret American Empire," written with Times business business editor Rick Wartzman.

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Page 81
How many of us have better than opinion regarding the below and 'the nature and course of human evolution and progression'? (-how about a gene for 'cutting and packaging'?)

Scientific American Magazine July 2004


Gene therapy for restoring muscle lost to age or disease is poised to enter the clinic, but elite athletes are eyeing it to enhance performance.

Can it be long before gene doping changes the nature of sport?
by H. Lee Sweeney

(photo and caption only)

BELGIAN BLUE BULL demonstrates the effect of blocking the antigrowth factor myostatin. A natural genetic mutation in this breed produces a truncated, ineffective form of myostatin, which allows muscle growth to go unchecked. The absence of myostatin also interferes with fat deposition, making these "double-muscled" cattle exceptionally lean.

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Page 82
June 22, 2004 Los Angeles Times
Judaism's Thriving Concern
Chabad-Lubavitch is a successful, inviting branch of the faith with worldwide reach. But the issue of a Messiah is no small matter.
By William Lobdell, Times Staff Writer

If the non-Jewish public is even vaguely aware of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement, it's probably because its annual telethon draws celebrities including Adam Sandler, Michael Douglas, James Caan, Whoopi Goldberg and Anthony Hopkins.

But within the Jewish world, this small branch of Judaism is generating outsized levels of interest — and concern.

On the one hand, Chabad — with its rigorous observance of Jewish law and rabbis in long beards and wide-brimmed black hats — has become an island of growth, innovation and success at a time of aging synagogue memberships and stagnant population elsewhere among American Jews.

On the other hand, there's the matter of the Messiah.

Today thousands of Chabad faithful are expected to gather in Queens, N.Y., at the grave of Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson to mark the 10th anniversary of his death. Among them will be a fair number who believe Schneerson is soon to be resurrected.

Such passion might be ignored by mainstream Jewish leaders if it were not for the remarkable efforts of the Brooklyn-based Lubavitchers to foster Judaism worldwide. Last spring, they held Passover seders for travelers and locals in Katmandu, Nepal (1,800 guests); Cuzco, Peru (800 guests); and more than 200 cities in the former Soviet Union, Chabad officials say.

About 4,000 rabbis and their families now serve lifetime assignments in 2,700 posts in 61 countries. The number has roughly doubled in 10 years, Chabad statistics show.

Chabad's fundraisers, including the widely publicized West Coast telethons, bring in about $800 million annually. Around the world, $100 million worth of projects are under construction, with a new Chabad center opening somewhere every 10 days, movement officials say.

The projects include 45 Chabad centers on American college campuses by 2005; a $19-million, 27-acre campus with a school and synagogue in Scripps Ranch in San Diego County; and a recently opened $15-million, 77,000-square-foot facility on Pico Boulevard in Los Angeles that houses a girls' preschool, elementary school and junior high.

"I disagree with Chabad about practically everything," Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie, leader of the liberal Reform Jewish movement, said in a speech last year. "But I envy the selflessness of their young men and women who fan out across the world to serve Jewish communities in distress. We must foster among our members the same sense of mission and spirit of service to the Jewish people."

Others rue the spread of Lubavitch influence.

"The Jewish community is becoming deeply dependent on them for religious services and ceremonies, education and social services," said David Berger, an Orthodox rabbi and a history professor at Brooklyn College who has written a book on Chabad. "It's a clear and present danger to Judaism."

The prime issue for Berger and Chabad's other critics is the belief by some Lubavitchers that Schneerson — the movement's last leader, who died in 1994 at age 92 — is the Messiah long foretold in Hebrew Scriptures.

Chabad's leaders officially reject that doctrine and insist it is fading in their ranks. Still, within the movement others fervently embrace it. And outside Chabad, some Jews fear that the organization's growth and vibrancy are merely cover for a sect they see as undermining traditional Jewish beliefs.

Chabad, a Hebrew acronym for wisdom, understanding and knowledge, took root in the late 18th century in the then-Russian city of Lubavitch. It's a form of Hasidic Judaism, which is characterized by its embrace of uneducated Jews, mystical and often ecstatic piety and devotion to a single leader, the rebbe.

Schneerson's father-in-law, who preceded him as rebbe, fled the Nazis and moved Chabad headquarters to Crown Heights, in Brooklyn, in 1940. Shortly after, Chabad began to emphasize reaching out to nonreligious Jews — a striking difference from other Hasidic groups, which often advise members to isolate themselves from the temptations of the world.

The idea was to patiently and nonjudgmentally lead Jews back to Orthodoxy one small step at a time — attending a Sabbath service, lighting candles Friday night, listening to a lecture from a Jewish speaker.

"When a Jew alienates himself from his people, God forbid, it is only because he is thirsty," Schneerson once said. "His soul thirsts for meaning in life, but the waters of Torah have eluded him. So he wanders about in foreign domains, seeking to quench his thirst.

"Only a shepherd who hastens not to judge the runaway kid, who is sensitive to the causes of its desertion, can mercifully lift it into his arms and bring it back home."

The charisma of Schneerson's leadership was such that in the final years of his four decades of leadership, increasing numbers of Lubavitchers believed the rebbe had the potential to be moshiach, the Messiah.

Messianism — the belief that God will choose a person to redeem the world — has been a central element of Jewish belief for 2,500 years. Among many liberal Jews today, the idea has become muted or transformed into the belief that Jews collectively should work to repair the world's ills. But among traditional believers, the imminent coming of the Messiah remains a powerful hope.

From time to time through the centuries, groups of Jews have fastened those hopes on an individual. Two millenniums ago, the followers of Jesus of Nazareth founded the Christian church based on that belief.

When Schneerson died, many expected the whispers that he was "the one" would dissipate: Traditional Judaism holds that the Messiah would be a living person.

Though the belief has waned since the rebbe's death, some believers in Schneerson adopted an idea associated with Jesus: resurrection.

On the streets around Chabad's headquarters, signs of belief in Schneerson's resurrection are highly visible — to the chagrin of many Lubavitch leaders.

Signs on storefronts proclaim Schneerson as moshiach. A small blimp flying above a Sunday neighborhood parade recently featured a picture of Schneerson with the words "Moshiach is ready, are you?"

Lubavitchers ride New York subways with posters under their arms proclaiming the rebbe as king. Some attribute miracles to him.

The messianists believe Jews can prepare the way for Schneerson's return by observing the Bible's commands and performing good deeds that will lift the state of the world.

In the synagogue in the basement of Chabad's headquarters, a group of students, mostly from Israel, pray for and await the rebbe's return. Other Lubavitchers have nicknamed the students "the Taliban" for their rigid belief. "It doesn't take an Einstein to figure out the rebbe is the Messiah," said a 22-year-old student who asked not to be named. He said the belief is held by nearly all in the movement, whether publicly or privately.

Rabbi Yehuda Krinsky, a key Chabad administrator and former Schneerson secretary, said talk of the rebbe as the Messiah is "nonsense." He won't attend services at the basement synagogue because of the messianic contingent, he said.

Another rabbi said he tried to take down a messianic banner in the synagogue one morning but was hit by one of the students.

Leaders find it difficult to explain to outsiders why, if they reject the messianic belief, they have not taken aggressive action to root it out.

Some say they don't want to trigger a bitter civil war. Others say they want to follow the rebbe's teachings and not stand in judgment of another Jew.

Many Chabad leaders who worked with Schneerson acknowledge that they once believed he had the potential to be a Messiah, but that hope ended with his death.

The leaders said they did not name a new rebbe because no candidate appeared to match Schneerson's magnetism and depth. The movement is now headed by a council.

Critics see another possibility: A new rebbe would undermine the messianic attachment to Schneerson.

"This is the dominant aspiration," said Jacob Neusner, a professor and senior fellow at Bard College's Institute of Advanced Theology in New York.

Some critics say the movement's success has caused thousands of Jews who support Chabad or attend its programs to unwittingly donate money and energy to an effort that is akin to a dangerous cult.

The belief in a resurrected Messiah could distort Judaism "profoundly and perhaps permanently," said Berger, the Orthodox rabbi and history professor.

Supporters of Chabad dismiss such talk. "In our area, it's a nonexistent issue," said Jeffrey Lee Cohen, a 48-year-old real estate investor who has attended the Chabad Shul Potomac in Maryland for 16 years.

Rabbi Mark Miller, who runs a Reform synagogue in Newport Beach, has enrolled two of his children in a Chabad day school. He said guilt animates Chabad's critics. They "see Chabad and Orthodoxy in general as fidelity to ways of the past that many people had broken with. And that weighs upon them."

Those who support Chabad without joining the organization praise its success in touching people's lives.

George Rohr, a New York investment manager, gives an estimated $12 million a year to Chabad projects around the world.

"Where were we going to get the biggest bang for the buck?" Rohr asked. "The track record of Chabad in terms of bringing the light of Judaism and the warmth of Torah around the world is unparalleled."

In keeping with Schneerson's ideas, Jews exploring their faith in Chabad centers don't have to accept all — or any — of the group's Orthodox practices. They need not join a synagogue or pay dues.

"I was adamantly against going" to Chabad, said Melissa Breiter, a 39-year-old mother of three who attends Congregation Beth Meir HaCohen-Chabad Center of Yorba Linda.

Her parents were Reform Jews whom she describes as anti-Orthodox. But Chabad, she said, is "Judaism at its heart — what it should be."

In Aspen, Colo., Rabbi Mendel Mintz, a Chabad emissary, said his center attracts 30 to 50 worshippers in peak seasons.

But Chabad recently bought an entire block on the town's Main Street for $6.3 million with contributions from Jews — mostly neither Orthodox nor Lubavitchers — who live full time or part time in Aspen.

The idea is to create a 16,000-square-foot center for the town's Jews to attend services, enroll their children in the preschool or take Mommy and Me classes.

"I feel very honored and blessed that I'm part of the rebbe's army to reach out to every Jew no matter their level of observance," said Mintz, who began Chabad in Aspen five years ago. "It's been really miraculous.

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Page 83
-you want human condition? -the next three articles from the Sunday, June 22, 2004 Los Angeles Times -perryb

June 20, 2004 Los Angeles Times
Ailing Inmate Was Free but Never Made It Home
By Sue Fox, Times Staff Writer

When Gustavo Ortega was released from the downtown Los Angeles County Jail in the middle of the night, he did not go far.
   An insulin-dependent diabetic, he had just had part of his right foot amputated. Walking was a struggle, so he apparently sank onto a bench in a jailhouse lobby and waited.
   A few miles away on the Eastside, his family had no idea that the 50-year-old Ortega — whose memory was so spotty he sometimes forgot his own phone number — was free. When his brother Mike went to visit him the next day, he was shocked to learn that his frail brother had been released.
   "Released to whom?" Mike Ortega asked.
   "To the streets," he said the guard replied.
   "I said, 'To the streets? How is that possible?' He was sick. He just had an amputation."
   The Ortegas, a close-knit family of seven children and their elderly mother, spent the next two days combing downtown for Gustavo, who had been serving time for several misdemeanors. They checked Chinatown and Olvera Street, the hills of Echo Park and homeless shelters on skid row.

   They canvassed the grounds of the Twin Towers jail but did not think to look inside the nearby Inmate Reception Center, where prisoners are admitted and released.
   Three days after Ortega's release, sheriff's deputies found him there, where it appears he may have been the whole time. He was so weak he could barely move. He asked, "Can you please give me a ride home?" deputies later told his family.
   Instead, paramedics rushed him to the hospital, where he died of coronary artery disease, with diabetes, chronic renal failure and hypertension as contributing factors.
   Ortega's death April 5 came at a difficult time for the county's jail system, which is run by the Sheriff's Department. Budget cuts have stretched jailers thin, and security lapses have become so common that five inmates have been killed in jail since October.
   The department said it followed procedure in releasing Ortega, but officials expressed regret that he seemed to have slipped through the cracks of a huge, often impersonal system that takes in and releases up to 800 inmates a day.
   "It's a tragedy if we didn't observe him and the public saw him and didn't do anything," said Sheriff's Capt. Anthony Argott, who oversees the reception center. "This poor guy needed help."
   Argott said deputies could have overlooked Ortega because the center is often crowded and some people linger there for many hours.
   "We're not trying to get people out and make the lobby pristine. Deputies change shifts, and they may have never noticed this guy," Argott said. "Nobody's listening, but I must say we have a severe, and I must say again, a severe shortage of personnel."
   Ortega's family recently asked the Board of Supervisors to investigate his death, triggering an inquiry by the Office of Independent Review, a civilian oversight agency that monitors the Sheriff's Department."We need to see what, if anything, the Sheriff's Department did," said Michael Gennaco, the former federal prosecutor who heads the oversight agency. "Certainly there are issues of standards of care, everything from the way he was assessed with regard to any mental health issues to classification and treatment while he was in custody.
   "Once he's released, that is something of a gray area," Gennaco added.
   Ortega's sad sojourn through the county's courts, jails and hospitals began March 1, when he was arrested for drinking at Whittier Boulevard and Spence Street, about three blocks from the house he shared with his siblings and their mother.
   He pleaded no contest and was convicted two days later. Ortega, a father of two who loved to sing and play guitar, would remain in jail for a month until his release just before he died.
   The county is required to conduct mental health screenings of all new inmates. Despite what his family called a history of disorientation and memory problems that kept him from working, Ortega was not classified as a mental-observation inmate.
   "There's no indication that he complained of any mental health problems during his incarceration, nor was he referred to mental health by medical services," said Dr. Thomas Klotz, the jail's chief psychiatrist.
   In jail, Ortega's diabetes caused his feet to swell. His brothers and sisters think he may have forgotten to take off his shoes to relieve the pressure. Diabetics can be at risk of amputation when circulation to their extremities fails.
   Ortega was sent to the jail ward at County-USC Medical Center, where members of his family said they tried to visit him nearly every day. Sometimes they were allowed to see him — resting calmly in a wheelchair — in the visiting area, they said, but other days they were told he was bedridden and could not come out.
   They weren't allowed into his hospital room and could not speak to his doctor, they said, even when Ortega told them that part of his foot, including his toes, would be amputated.
   "They would always tell us the same thing, that he was an adult and it was between the doctor and the patient," Mike Ortega said. "They said the doctors wouldn't make phone calls to the family."
   A month after his arrest, Ortega was taken from the jail ward back to court. He had two outstanding misdemeanor charges from 2001: driving with a suspended license and having no proof of car insurance. He was convicted April 1 of driving without a license and sentenced to one day in jail but given credit for time served.
   Just before 2 a.m. the next day, he was released.
   Sheriff's Capt. Rod Penner, who oversees the jail's medical services bureau, said the medical staff followed the proper protocol.
   "He was medically cleared by a physician prior to his release," Penner said. "He indicated that he had family coming to pick him up and that he had a doctor out in the community."
   Penner says that if inmates are ambulatory, they are permitted to leave. Only rarely does the jail transfer an inmate directly to a hospital upon release.
   After receiving his medical clearance, Ortega was processed by custody staff at the reception center. Jailers gave him a pair of crutches, Penner said.
   Once Ortega was released, he was on his own.
   He did not call his family, and no one else did either.
   The lobby where Ortega was found is a grimy, busy way station, open 24 hours a day and often filled with dozens of people waiting to pick up an inmate's property or deposit money so they can buy snacks at the jail canteen.
   There are rows of cashiers behind glass partitions, and a sheriff's deputy keeps an eye on things from an information booth.
   The air is thick with cellphone chatter, the clink of change in soda machines and the drone of two television sets.
   While his family searched the streets, Ortega apparently languished in the center on a rock-hard bench. It is not known whether he ever left the second-floor lobby, but his family suspects that he stayed put.
   Without medicine or steady meals he grew weaker.
   On April 5, two deputies appeared at the family home to tell them that Ortega had been found and taken back to County-USC.
   Ortega's sister Rosalinda recalled one deputy telling them that when they discovered her brother in the jailhouse lobby, someone said: "This guy's been lying here for three days."
   She got to see him briefly before he died. He was rail-thin, his eyes sunken. "Ay, hermano," she asked, "where have you been?"
   He shrugged slightly, she said, whispering that he was cold.
   She watched through tears as doctors tried to revive him. Later, after he died, she looked through the possessions he had when deputies found him. There was no insulin, just some clothes, a dollar bill and two slices of bread.
   Ortega's family buried him two months ago at a Montebello cemetery.
   Now they want some answers.
   "The one thing I just cannot understand is: How can they just let somebody stay in their facility, in plain view, for three days?" Mike Ortega said. "It was total negligence."

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Page 84
June 20, 2004 Los Angeles Times
A Military Shift on Argentine Atrocities
An officer seeking promotion details his 'dirty war' executions in a letter. He is arrested.
By Hector Tobar, Times Staff Writer

BUENOS AIRES — Lt. Col. Guillermo Bruno Laborda was upset he didn't get the promotion to full colonel that he felt he deserved. So he wrote an angry letter to Argentine army brass last month detailing the "meritorious" acts of his 28 years of military service.
   As a young lieutenant in the late 1970s, he wrote, he had personally executed prisoners, and then set their bodies on fire, just as his superiors had ordered. He had shot a young mother a day after she delivered her baby, and then tossed the woman's body into a hole and set it on fire too.
   During Argentina's "dirty war" against leftist activists and urban guerrillas, these "were considered true and unavoidable acts of service," he wrote, and all the emotional pain he had endured because of them should be taken into account in the decision on his promotion.
   Bruno Laborda's chilling letter — complete with the final words of many of his victims — marks the first time the military has made public an acting officer's confession to his role in illegal executions during Argentina's bloody years of dictatorship and repression. Not long after he submitted it, the military had him arrested.

   Although reported in the Argentine media with little fanfare, the case demonstrates a shift in the country's military culture. It is widely believed here that officers seeking promotion routinely made arguments similar to those of Bruno Laborda's but that they were kept secret.
   Now nearly 100 current and former military men are in jail in Argentina, more than at any other time since 1987, when dozens were detained after a failed coup. The majority have been imprisoned since May 2003, when President Nestor Kirchner came to office promising to aggressively prosecute the human rights crimes of the past.
   "Those military men who have been implicated in criminal acts, and found culpable by the justice system, will be automatically eliminated from the force," Gen. Roberto Bendini, the head of the army, said after Bruno Laborda's arrest.
   Confronted with the lieutenant colonel's letter, Bendini said, "we had no choice but to file the appropriate charges. And have no doubt that we will continue to do so when presented with this type of evidence."
   On March 24, the 28th anniversary of the 1976 military coup, Bendini participated in another, more symbolic break with Argentina's past: He removed the portraits of two members of the junta, Gens. Jorge Videla and Reynaldo Bignone, from their place of honor at the Military College in Buenos Aires.
   Published this month by the Buenos Aires daily newspaper Pagina 12, Bruno Laborda's letter offers a horrific vision of the crimes committed during the regime of the generals.
   In 1977, as a 23-year-old lieutenant just a few months out of the military academy, he was assigned to the 3rd Army Corps, based in Cordoba, in central Argentina. Soon afterward, he was ordered to "actively participate in the physical elimination of [a prisoner] accused and condemned as a guerrilla," though he never learned who, if anyone, had pronounced the sentence.
   More executions followed, the officer, now 50, wrote. In 1978 he was part of a firing squad that killed a young mother who had been brought to Cordoba's military garrison in an ambulance, a day after giving birth. (Children born to detainees were routinely turned over to military families in secret adoptions.)
   "On her knees and blindfolded, she received the impact of more than 20 bullets of various caliber," Bruno Laborda wrote. "I never found out what happened to the baby boy or girl."
   That killing, like all the others, traumatized him. "The continuous weeping, the very odor of adrenaline that comes from those who can feel their end coming, their desperate cries begging us that if we were really Christians we would swear we weren't going to kill them, was the most pathetic, agonizing and saddest thing I ever felt in my life and I will never forget it," he wrote.
   Such descriptions have been rare in democratic, post-junta Argentina, especially after then-President Raul Alfonsin granted members of the military amnesty for all crimes and immunity from further prosecutions in 1986 and 1987.
   In the last year, however, Argentine judges have found creative strategies to circumvent the amnesty, which is expected to be overturned soon by the country's revamped Supreme Court.
   Bruno Laborda is being held in Buenos Aires and has been ordered to appear before a federal judge in Cordoba investigating killings attributed to the 3rd Army Corps.
   In his letter, Bruno Laborda pointed out that other officers who had participated in the executions had been promoted. He added that, as a 23-year-old, he had sought and received absolution for the killings from a priest who told him he would be "rewarded for destroying the enemies of Christ."
   If you want other stories on this topic, search the Archives at

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Page 85
June 20, 2004 Los Angeles Times
This Is the Toxic Substance You Can't Avoid
Chemical residue from flame retardants is nearly everywhere in the U.S. There are no patterns to explain high levels of exposure.
By Marla Cone, Times Staff Writer

Toxic flame retardants, which are building up at a rapid pace in people's bodies throughout the United States and Canada, are being spread by an array of store-bought foods as well as dust inside homes and offices, scientists have discovered.
   Three new studies, released at an international conference this month, detected for the first time high concentrations of the flame retardants in a variety of fish, meat and fowl in the United States, including California grocery stores.
   The findings, combined with other new tests that found the chemicals in household dust and on computer keyboards, have convinced environmental scientists that exposure to them is unavoidable.
   "There is more or less a continuous exposure, and there is absolutely no way to really control it. You have almost a 24-hour exposure, except for the time you are outside," said Aake Bergman, head of environmental chemistry at Stockholm University in Sweden and a leading authority on flame retardants.

   Created by chemical companies to make hard plastic and polyurethane foam less flammable, polybrominated diphenyl ethers, or PBDEs, are added to computers, TVs, furniture cushions, upholstery textiles, carpet backings, mattresses, cars, buses, aircraft and construction materials.
   California has banned two types of flame retardants effective in 2008, and the manufacturer has agreed to stop producing them by the end of this year. But others, including the most widely used PBDE, are unregulated.
   For the last year, scientists have been struggling to figure out how people are exposed, particularly in the United States, where human bodies carry 20 times more on average than in Europe and other areas.
   Toxicologists are mystified by the high levels in some Americans, saying there are no obvious patterns to explain the phenomenon. People are exposed to other well-known chemicals, such as PCBs and mercury, almost entirely through the food web, especially fish. But while some fish have high concentrations of PBDE, people who eat a lot of fish are not necessarily among the most highly contaminated.
   Many scientists suspect that the exposure of some people —particularly children — is more direct and individualized, dependent on what products are inside their homes and not just what they eat. But they have yet to prove which of the two — food or dust — is the major source, or what, if anything, people can do to reduce their risk.
   "We have two sources: Food is one and indoor air is another. We now know that the sources are inside our houses, inside our buildings," said Mehran Alaee of Canada's National Water Research Institute, who led a conference of scientists in Toronto this month to share the findings of about 100 studies of flame retardants. "I'm convinced that we are in intimate contact with PBDEs. It's on the seat cushion you're sitting on, the computer monitor you're using."
   The flame retardants have been detected in virtually every person and animal tested, even newborns and fetuses, around the world, including Australia, Arctic Canada and Svalbard, Norway, near the North Pole. Amounts in people and wildlife are doubling in North America every four to six years, a pace unmatched for any contaminant in at least 50 years.
   PBDEs build up in fatty tissues and pose a particular risk to babies because they pass through the womb and taint breast milk. Low doses in lab animals have disrupted brain growth and altered estrogen hormones, affecting male fertility and ovary development.
   About 5% of people in the United States — an estimated 15 million — have PBDE levels considered high, based on breast milk and blood samples from more than 2,000 women around the country. Some are carrying doses similar to those that impaired brain development of newborn laboratory rats.
   In one of the new studies, two California laboratories found the chemicals in fish, meat and fowl purchased at three Sacramento-area grocery stores from December to February.
   Swordfish, farm-raised salmon and catfish, and duck had the highest concentrations. Farm-raised fish contained 5 to 6 times more than wild fish, except for swordfish, which had the most of any food tested, according to Alta Analytical Laboratories in El Dorado Hills and Environ in Emeryville. Beef had the lowest levels, followed by goose, pheasant, scallops, canned tuna and wild coho salmon. Chicken contained moderate amounts.
   In nationwide tests conducted by the USDA and revealed at this month's conference, bacon and beef fat had fairly low levels while fat trimmed from pork chops had fairly high.
   At three Dallas supermarket chains, the amounts in meat products also varied significantly. Pork sausage, hot dogs and duck had fairly high levels of contamination while bacon and ground beef had low levels.
   "PBDEs are found in almost all foods of animal origin; and some have very high levels of these chemicals," said a report by University of Texas environmental scientist Arnold Schecter, based on the Dallas supermarket tests he conducted. He reported that diet is "most likely the primary route of exposure."
   The lack of any pattern in the food puzzles toxicologists and makes "prediction of the amount one ingests very difficult," said researcher Thomas McDonald of California's Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment. However, because PBDEs bind to fat, trimming excess fat, eating lean meats and avoiding large, predatory fish is advised—especially for pregnant and nursing women.
   Other experts aren't convinced. Bergman says European and North American diets are not different enough to explain the huge variation of human concentrations on the two continents. Instead, he suspects that the explanation lies in Americans breathing the much higher levels found in their household dust compared with European homes.
   Last month, the Environmental Working Group, an activist organization, reported finding the contaminants in dust in all 10 homes it sampled in nine states, including two in California. Two other environmental groups found them in dust on all 16 computer keyboards sampled in universities, government offices and in a children's museum. PBDEs apparently escape as a gas from hard plastic and polyurethane foam — especially newer computers, furniture and other products — and then adhere to dust. Spread by waterways and winds, they are ingested by plants and animals and transported thousands of miles.
   One of the contaminants is a PBDE compound called deca, widely used in electronics equipment and upholstery textiles.
   Deca is not subject to the California ban. Scientists initially thought it would not accumulate in the environment, but in recent months it has been found in humans and breast milk as well as wild animals. The compound "hides" by transforming itself in the environment into other PBDEs that are absorbed more readily by body tissues.
   "I am convinced we are building a huge, ticking time bomb in our environment today," said Bergman, who has studied toxic contaminants since the 1970s. "The 55,000 or 56,000 tons of deca used per year are slowly transformed into lower brominated compounds, which stay around for hundreds of years. I don't see any solution to this but to substitute the PBDEs, and that goes for all the PBDEs, including deca."
   Manufacturers of deca say it protects people from fires and there is little evidence that it is dangerous or building up to high levels. Some companies, including Apple and Dell, are redesigning products to avoid flame retardants and still meet fire safety standards.
   In April, Maine enacted a law banning deca in 2008 only if safer flame retardants are nationally available. The European Union, the international leader in restricting industrial compounds, decided last month that there was insufficient evidence to ban deca as it had the other flame retardants.

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Page 86
-everyone in the world a 'wannabe' -three great articles on the seduction of China (why should they be different?) with 'American free-enterprise, capitalist democracy and the right to make as much money as you can and spend it any way you choose - as long as there's no law against it'

June 19, 2004 The Economist Magazine
Conspicuous consumption in china
Luxury's new empire
Are the Chinese replacing the Japanese as the world's most fanatical shoppers?

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Page 87
June 19, 2004
Science Magazine Vol 304, 11 June 2004

Climate Change and Climate Science

There is a paradoxical gulf between the importance of Earth's climate and the level of public interest in it. To be sure, tornadoes, killer heat waves, and floods make the headlines, but it's important to remember that weather is not climate. Some of the public's confusion may relate to a certain failure to make that distinction, as in the occasional newspaper speculation that a particular weather event may be a consequence of global warming. For any given case, we simply don't know.

But we do know quite a lot about climate and how it is being changed. The basics are straightforward: As we add greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane to the atmosphere, they form a blanket that intercepts infrared radiation as it leaves Earth. This "greenhouse effect" has been well understood for more than a century. Models that have tracked average global temperature over its fluctuations during the past 10 centuries show that it has followed natural events (such as volcanic eruptions and variations in solar flux) quite well up until the 20th century. Then it entered a rapidly rising phase, associated with an increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide from its preindustrial level of 280 parts per million (ppm) to the present level of 380 ppm--a value still accelerating as we continue business as usual. That's why the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change now attributes much of the present warming trend to human activity.

The results are everywhere, except in popular accounts of what's going on. Those, unfortunately, often emphasize distant possibilities rather than probable outcomes. A recent Pentagon scenario-building exercise suggested a sudden breakdown in the North Atlantic circulation, producing a dramatic regional cooling. A disaster film called The Day After Tomorrow, released a couple of weeks ago, suggests an apocalyptic future not foreseen by most serious climatologists. In fact, we do not know whether global warming will continue to increase on a steady ramp or possibly cross the threshold of some nonlinear process. We're in the middle of a large uncontrolled experiment on the only planet we have.

It's only natural that there is lively disagreement among scientists about what the future may hold. Modeling is an inexact science, although the general circulation models used in the world's major centers have become more sophisticated and now produce results that generally agree. Debate centers on the possibility of altered relationships between oceans and atmosphere, the role of clouds and aerosols, the influence of changes in Earth's ability to reflect light, and the regional distribution of climate effects. Unfortunately, these disagreements have often persuaded thoughtful newspaper readers that since the scientists can't agree, the issue can safely be ignored.

It shouldn't be, and for two reasons. First, the models project that a doubling of the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide from preindustrial levels, which is probable by this century's end, would increase average global temperature by somewhere between 2° and 5°C, and they predict an increase in the average frequency of unusually severe weather events. Second, the modest increases we have already seen in this century are changing the rhythms of life on our planet. The effects of global warming have been most appreciable in the Arctic, where dramatic glacial retreats and changes in the reflectivity of the land have occurred. Even at low latitudes, mountain glaciers have shrunk; so much that the photogenic snowcap of Mount Kilimanjaro in Kenya will be gone by 2020. Plants and the organisms that depend on them have changed their schedules in many parts of the world, advancing their flowering and breeding times at a rate of about 5 days per decade. Sea levels have risen 10 to 20 centimeters in the past century, and more is in store for us.

We think the public deserves a considered consensus on the important matter of climate change, so the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), with support from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and cosponsorship from the Conference Board, will hold a symposium on 14 and 15 June in its headquarters at 1200 New York Avenue, Washington, DC. Eleven distinguished experts on climate science will brief the press, policy-makers, and the public. The objective is straightforward: to make clear distinctions between certain knowledge, reasonable hypotheses, and guesswork. Our climate future is important and it needs more attention than it's getting.

Donald Kennedy

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Page 88
-from the June 12, 2004 Letters To The Los Angeles Times-
My impression of the passing of "the Great Communicator" is simple.
He lowered the intellectual bar for all future presidents and George
W Bush proceeded to limbo under it. A sad, but true, commentary on the
Republican Party.

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Page 89
June 10, 2004
Vol XXVIII No 3 Autumn 2003

Famous Last Words

Paul Bayliss

     I heard a story recently about a man who, knowing that his days were numbered, wrote out a speech to be delivered at his funeral. It was nothing especially spiritual or philosophical, just a final goodbye to friends and family. His best friend was given the somewhat unpleasant task of delivering what were, in many respects, last words from beyond the grave. It has to be said, it must have been a friend he could trust-he didn't have much opportunity of a comeback if he was misquoted.
     It seemed very odd to me but, more than that, it seemed to me to be cheating. The utterance of one's last words should be spontaneous and off the cuff. The most famous last words manage to combine a stunning insight into the mysteries of life, combined with an element of well-timed humour. Taking time to prepare beforehand rules out any chance of delivering inspired words of heroism or philosophical genius, or, even better than that, words spoken with an element of tragic yet comic timing. Just as it's always

amusing to see people falling over, it's always a pleasure to hear about a stranger snuffing it in darkly humorous situations.
     Many famous last words will, of course, be apocryphal. Some will have been embellished down the years while others will have been spoken by the soon-to-be-departed hours or even days before their final curtain. Others may never have been said at all but, sadly, the person quoted won't be able to defend him or herself. They'll just have to live with it from beyond the grave.
     Captain Oates' renowned words "I am just going outside and may be some time" are recognised as one of the most courageous final utterances. Suffering terribly with gangrenous feet on Captain Scott's doomed expedition to the South Pole in 1912, Oates had already asked his companions to leave him behind and save themselves. They refused to do so, but as he rose to leave the tent on the morning of March 17th and made his heroic announcement, his colleagues knew that he was walking to his death.      There are many other examples of stoicism in the face of the ultimate adversity. Roman gladiators would reportedly salute the Roman Emperor with "Hail Caesar, those who are about to die salute you," a remarkably generous tribute under the circumstances, whilst the writer and politician Erskine Childers kindly advised the firing squad at his execution "Come close boys, it will be easier for you." Similarly, Joachim Murat, French cavalry commander and king of Naples, said to the men just about to pull the trigger, "Soldiers, save my face; aim at my heart. Farewell." Vanity to the last and most probably in vain as well.
     However for leniency in the face of outright provocation, it would be hard to beat Richard I, who offered forgiveness to the young man who had just shot him with an arrow before ordering his attendants to "Take off his chains, give him a hundred shillings, and let him go." Young offenders getting away with it even then.
     Those who can inject their last words with a touch of gallows humour deserve our utmost admiration. Voltaire, when asked to renounce the Devil, retorted quite succinctly from his deathbed, "This is no time for making new enemies," whilst Anaxagoras, Greek philosopher and school-teacher, will be revered by schoolboys everywhere for his response of "Give the boys a holiday" when asked did he have any final wishes.
     It is, however, famous last words with an element of comic timing that prove to be the most memorable. Scottish essayist Thomas Carlyle's last words were reportedly "So this is death, well ..." Whether Carlyle was about to come up with a memorable insight into death we shall never know. It probably wouldn't have been as funny as the words he managed to get out. In a more public arena, John Palmer, the eighteenth-century English actor, managed an inspired theatrical exit from this mortal coil. Appearing on stage in the play The Stranger:, Palmer's last line, and indeed last words, were the prophetic "There is another world and a better place." Little did he know that the other world wasn't so much around the corner than a couple of seconds away and hurtling straight towards him.
     It would take a fine effort to upstage Palmer's impeccable timing, but politician Henry Temple managed to do so, 67 years later. Obviously not wishing to accept a particularly gloomy prognosis from his doctor, Temple's last words, uttered with a tragically ironic authority, were "Die, my dear doctor? That's the last thing I shall do."
     I've given some thought to my final verbal offering to the world since hearing about this man's funeral speech. As well as obviously hoping that they will be a long way off, I've decided that, without resorting to rather unsporting preparation beforehand, there's not a great deal one can do to prepare those last words. Unless you're in front of a firing squad or the like you're unlikely to know for certain that this really, really is it.
     I'd like to think my final words would be short and sweet, to the point and tinted with an element of courage. My personal favourite famous last words are in fact a single word. Cicero, when faced by his assassins, didn't mince his words. "Strike" he said. They did. A famous last word.

     [Paul Bayliss is fresh from graduating in Politics at Leeds University as a mature student. His other love is cricket, a game that he plays, he says, to a decidedly average standard.]

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Page 90
-speaks for itself -perryb-

June 10, 2004

Where are the Fosters? On their lawn in Stow, Ohio. Two adults and five children all but disappear in a kaleidoscope of belongings made mostly from oil-based polymers. Modern life rides on such materials. "Without them I can't think of a good way to make bike helmets," says Mark Foster, a polymer science professor at the University of Akron.

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Page 91
from another listserve-

Dear sir/madam

My name is Haja Fatima from Brunei I am a 23 years old and a British citizen who was taken to Brunei by my father 10 years ago. He deceived me that I was going there on vacation and later married me out to a wealthy Prince in Brunei who is 30 years older than me.

I was thus forced into marriage and when I objected I was beaten and raped by this Prince. I was locked up in a house for two years after which I submitted and decided to accept my faith, knowing that was the only way out.

After I got my freedom back I have been allowed by my husband to have access to his account and businesses. With the help of a loyalaide I have been able to divert $66,000,000.00 ( Sixty six million dollars)into a private finance house in Darussalam without his knowledge.

Right now I have mapped out a plan of escape out of Brunei, first of all I want to move the fund out of the Brunei. This is where I need your assistance, I will move the fund out of Brunei on your name through a Cargo courier company to Europe to avoid been detected by my husband. After which you will help me secure the fund before I get out of Brunei.

If you know you are capable of handling such a huge amount of money respond to me and I will compensate you by giving you 10% of the total fund.

Note also that you must keep this transaction secret as my life is at stake if my husband or any of his relatives hear of this transaction they will stone me to death or hang me.

I await your quick response.

Yours faithfully,

Haja Fatima

-and from a reader (and true)-

You might be interested to find that it was durring Jeffersons' administration when the first 'tactical' use of germ warfare was recorded.

When it was discoverd that blankets used by soldiers who died from cholera, influeza, etc., contained germs that could be transfered by simply sleeping in the blanket over a period of time; military commanders gave orders to collect the blankets, cloths, etc., from dead or dieing soldiers and give them to the indians as gifts.

It's common knowledge that indians died because they lacked the ability to fight off common 'euro' bug's.

However, I'm inclind to believe that history hides this dirty little secret.

Some would say that this was the 'accident' of Jeffersons 'manifest destiny.'

In reality it was tactical solution to the strategic [problem/question; how do you elminate whole populations of indians tribes without having to resort to the brutality of military genocide?

Simple...give them blankets.


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Page 92
So what did Thomas Jefferson really think of the Indians and our moving westward? -and what is the relationship of this with Israel's Sharon and the West Bank?

June 6, 2004 Los Angeles Times
Clark, beyond the expedition
Book Review By Jonathan Kirsch

William Clark and the Shaping of the West
Landon Y. Jones
Hill & Wang: 394 pp., $25

Like other great pairings in American history, ranging from Mason and Dixon to Simon and Garfunkel, the names of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark are welded together as a single phrase. But some of the most vivid and resonant episodes in Clark's life took place long before and long after the vaunted Lewis and Clark expedition.

William Clark's remarkable life story is told with color, panache and authority by veteran journalist and historian Landon Y. Jones in "William Clark and the Shaping of the West." As it was understood in Clark's lifetime, "the West" was a boundary in motion that started along the western stretches of the original 13 colonies and moved steadily across the continent. When the Clark family decamped from Virginia, for example, the western wilderness was to be found in the Ohio River Valley, and the family seat was established in "a bustling hamlet of about a hundred log cabins" called Louisville.

In describing the world in which Clark was born and raised, Jones presents us with a rich and often strange glimpse of "America's First West," as he calls it. Native Americans, for example, came to know when white settlers were approaching their tribal grounds by the appearance of what they

called "white man's fly" — that is, the honeybees that were driven westward as the newcomers cleared the old-growth forests to make room for farms and towns. "The honeybees were thought to keep about a hundred miles in advance of white migration all the way across North America," explains Jones.

The Native Americans too were driven out. Much of the narrative, in fact, focuses on the bitter, sustained conflict between native dwellers and the practitioners of what would soon be known as Manifest Destiny. And it is here that Clark makes his first appearance in the annals of American history. Among the earliest entries in the journals that Clark kept is an account of a firefight with a party of Indians that left four men and four "squaws" dead, and "2 children 16 horses and 100£ worth of plund'r" in the hands of the frontiersmen.

"There was no room for Indians in Jefferson's empire of liberty," writes Jones. Indeed, Thomas Jefferson himself spoke frankly of what we would today call genocide. "We must leave it to yourself to decide [whether] the end proposed should be their extermination, or their removal," Jefferson once wrote to Clark's older brother, the storied Indian fighter George Rogers Clark. "The same world would scarcely do for them and us."

Clark first met Meriwether Lewis when they were both serving in the long war that was waged against the Native Americans, an encounter that prefigured their famous expedition. Jones invites us to see the Voyage of Discovery on which they embarked at the invitation of Jefferson in 1804 as an expression of Jefferson's geopolitical ambitions — a water route "from sea to sea" would allow the United States to dominate the continent of North America to the exclusion of Britain, France and Spain.

Lewis committed suicide a few years after the end of the expedition, and Clark struggled to turn his celebrity into cash. His dubious reward was a job as the superintendent of the Indian Office, a government agency charged with keeping the conquered nations and peoples of Native America under control and supervising their "removal" from the path of white settlement; significantly, he reported to both the secretary of State and the secretary of War. Later, as governor of the Missouri Territory — "the most powerful American in the West," as Jones puts it — he directed a series of punitive expeditions against the "Hostile Indians" who refused to submit to his authority. At the same time, Jones credits him with "struggling to find a balance between his conflicting constituencies," including "the land-hungry citizens of his territory, and the Indians he was supposed to protect."

Some of the most charming moments come when Clark sits down with Nicholas Biddle, the highborn Philadelphia attorney who would edit his journals. Biddle interrogated Clark on every detail of the expedition: "Did both Indian men and women have the venereal? Are there oysters on the Pacific coast? How do Indian mothers flatten the heads of their babies? Does [Clark's slave] York have a wife?" The touchiest question focused on what Biddle delicately called "the point of rank and command" between Lewis and Clark. "Equal in every point of view," insisted Clark, still bitter that he had been denied the rank of captain that Lewis enjoyed.

Jones is a resourceful researcher. He found his way to "Billy" Clark's childhood lesson book, where the marginalia includes some handwritten doggerel ("William Clark is a spark / And he loves to shoot a gun … ") that ends with a bit of coarse schoolboy humor on the subject of flatulence and a ribald story about a farmer's wife.

More chilling is a note from Billy's father, a few months before the signing of the Declaration of Independence, serving as a safe-conduct pass to permit a house slave called Cupid to attend church services.

Clark himself was a slave owner, as Jones points out. One of Clark's journal entries recorded the deaths of "Nan[c]y's Child, and Bens horse," thus "pairing the loss of a slave child and a domestic animal in a single sentence." And he boasted that his cook had become "a very good wench since she had about fifty" — 50 lashes of the whip, that is. "Indeed, I have been obliged [to] whip almost all my people. And they are now beginning to think that it best to do better and not Cry hard when I am compelled to use the whip."

This is a very different figure from the man we met in Stephen Ambrose's "Undaunted Courage." Clark was famously accompanied on the Voyage of Discovery by York, who was regarded as "the bravest of the party" by the Native Americans whom they encountered along the way. After their return to civilization, however, Clark complained that York was "insolent and Sulky" — "I gave him a Severe trouncing," he wrote, threatening to sell him off, although he confided to his journal that "I cant sell negrows here for money."

Jones has given us a life of William Clark that rescues him from the dusty pages of high school textbooks and more hagiographic biographies. His vocabulary and point of view are thoroughly modern: He refers to the widowed Clark as "an active single father" and he uses the fashionable term "borderlands" to describe what we used to call the "frontier." Above all, Jones allows us to see a familiar and even fusty figure in a wholly new if sometimes troubling light. •

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Page 93
The Economist Magazine June 5, 2004; Books and Arts (p78)
D-Day landings
The long shadow

L'Americain by Franz-Olivier Giesbert
Gallimard; 174 pages

FRANZ-OLIVIER GIESBERT is a French novelist, biographer, television presenter and newspaper editor: in other words, an average French “intellectual”. Except that, as he reveals in this arresting book, he and his mother were violently beaten throughout his childhood by a tormented father, a former American GI who never recovered from the anguish of having lived through D-Day. The book is a bestseller in France, one of a crop of books confessing to dark relationships with members of an author's family. There are no plans as yet to publish it in English.

The author's father, Frederick Giesbert, was the son of a German immigrant to America who taught painting at the Art Institute of Chicago. He was brought up in a comfortable, educated world, in an intellectual circle which included Saul Bellow and that was centred on the University of Chicago. The family had a second home on the shores of Lake Michigan.

At the age of 20, assigned to the American army's 29th division, Frederick landed in a sea stained red on Omaha Beach, Normandy. Under Nazi fire, he picked his way past the dismembered body-parts of friends he knew: from New York, from Nebraska. “He remained all his life in a state of shock, scarcely able to smile, his soul wounded to the core,” writes his son, “for having survived by leaving behind him the dying carcasses of so many friends.” As the young man advanced up the beach, he could not look back.

The American soldiers formed “floods of fresh flesh”, sent to drown the German lines. “Behind them, the beach was filled with the remorse that would never cease to torment my father.”

During that summer of 1944, as American bombs fell on German positions across Normandy, the young GI met a local French nurse at a dance organised by her father. She fell for her American hero, and three years later they were married in Chicago. They returned with their first child, Franz-Olivier, to make their home in Normandy, where the habitual battering of both mother and son began.

Mr Giesbert does not dwell on the source of his father's agony and violence. He lets events speak for themselves. It was not the war, he writes, so much as the unthinkable experience of that one day on June 6th 1944. The American soldier, who adopted the country he helped to liberate, lived the trauma in different ways. He detested America: its music, its fashions, its consumerism. He was godless, ascetic, anti-materialist. He preferred the company of animals to humans, and was tender with them. He lived for years on a Normandy farm, but could not bear the sight of an animal being killed.

More complicated for the author is his own failure to forgive his father, above all for the way he abused his mother. Much of his childhood was spent defying, ignoring or plotting to kill the man. “I have spent my life trying to forgive myself”, are the opening lines of the book. He wrote it, he explains, “to free myself from the grief of never having given my father the chance to speak to me and to forgive him.” The only time he recalls kissing his father was when his corpse was already cold.

This is a small, tight, awful book, but one that in some ways says as much about the events in Normandy in 1944 as do many of the far weightier texts that it can honourably sit beside.

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Page 94
May 30, 2004 Los Angeles Times
two new items, one book review, and an excellent little poem-

(*b) May 30, 2004 May 30, 2004 Los Angeles Times
In South India, the Way Out Is Often Suicide
The region has the world's highest recorded rate of people who kill themselves. Many of them had little to live for and no one to turn to.
By Paul Watson, Times Staff Writer

PALATHUVANAM, India — Ganesan Babajee was a child of India's promise, a boy who wanted to sit at a computer, not climb palm trees and cut coconuts for his father.

Babajee was growing faster, it seemed, than life would let him. The 15-year-old chafed to break free of the drowsy rural monotony, to ride his dream somewhere else.

He was going to be a doctor. He studied hard, and as his confidence grew, so did the confrontations with his father, a strict former soldier who demanded that things be done his way.

Babajee's father wanted the boy doing farm chores, not rushing off to computer class during school break. And he didn't like some of the lessons that Babajee's tutors were teaching. The tutors were evangelical Christians who said Babajee should pray to Jesus Christ instead of the family's Hindu god.

Somewhere else, Babajee's conflicts might have passed with time, like any growing pains. But the pressures are intense on a teenager in this drought-stricken region of southern India, a suicide hot zone where young people are killing themselves at the highest recorded rate in the world.

Farmers are losing their crops, and then their land, in a downward spiral that has driven several to kill themselves. Young men have trouble finding jobs. And as they have for generations here, teenage girls marry middle-aged uncles and live like servants.

For solace, many villagers turn to a local drink called sarayam, a witch's brew of fermented bananas, rice or sugar cane, various tree barks and, for an added kick, acid drained from old car batteries.

Babajee escaped his demons by drinking from a can of Demacron pesticide. He died here, alone in a cave, on a sweltering spring day two years ago.

In the Kaniyambadi district of southern India where Babajee lived, which is made up of 62 villages with 108,000 people, suicides account for about a quarter of all deaths in young men, and from 50% to 75% of all deaths in young women, a research team reported in the British medical journal the Lancet last month. But statistics cannot say why so many young people take their lives. Those who would know are dead, and few left suicide notes. Many of the victims were illiterate. Jayaprakash Muliyil, the principal of the medical college that compiled the statistics, thinks that the answer to the mystery lies in the local culture.

"It is very difficult to prove these things," said Muliyil, who is also a community health professor. "Our own feeling is that people tend to enact what their culture demands them to do. And there is something in our culture that suicide turns out to be an option when conflict arises."

Most villagers in the district are Tamils, 98% of them Hindus, with a minority of Muslims and Christians. Muliyil stressed that he didn't see any link between Hinduism and higher suicide rates, and his college's researchers say they haven't begun to figure out whether anything in Tamil culture might be the cause.

Record-keeping is often haphazard in India, and police routinely report suicides as accidents to cut their paperwork or spare families any stigma. Kaniyambadi district offers researchers a uniquely clear and accurate look at the problem.

Meticulous records of every birth and death in the district are kept at Muliyil's Christian Medical College and Hospital, which was founded by an American missionary in 1900. It is one of India's most respected medical institutions.

Staff members at the college, in the nearby city of Vellore, have trained health workers who live in every village in Kaniyambadi and form the foundation of a comprehensive reporting system that allows doctors and nurses to build an accurate database of births and deaths.

Researchers from the college studied computerized death records from the 1992-2001 period, for people 10 to 19 years old. They discovered suicide rates "several-fold higher than those reported anywhere in the world, especially in young women," the team reported in the Lancet.

Suicide is the No. 1 cause of death in that age group, with a rate of 148 suicides per 100,000 girls and young women and 58 per 100,000 boys and young men. That's many times higher than the youth suicide rate in the United States. In 2001, the rate in the U.S. was 7.9 suicides per 100,000 people ages 15 to 19, the National Center for Health Statistics reported.

The Indian statistics shocked experts at the Vellore college.

"Like any other person, at first you don't believe it," Muliyil said. "Then you double-check it. And it is confirmed."

Anuradha Bose, a pediatrician on the suicide study team, suspects that if such meticulous records were kept elsewhere in Tamil Nadu state, they might show equally high suicide rates.

"There is nothing unique, socially or environmentally, about this part of Tamil Nadu for us to believe that something unique is happening here," she said.

In India, there are few places to turn for help outside the family when people consider killing themselves. Tamil Nadu has only one suicide hotline, operated by 40 volunteers, for a state of more than 62 million people.

Suicide kills more than 108,000 Indians a year, making it the third-leading cause of death, said Pallasena V. Sankaranarayanan, director of a suicide intervention agency in Madras, Tamil Nadu's capital. Governments do little to help prevent suicide, he said.

"People think it is a personal problem and ask, 'Why should I get involved?' " he said. "But it is a social problem. The government has to recognize it as a national problem."

Young women are more likely to kill themselves than young men in Kaniyambadi district. That's the opposite of the norm in most of the world.

Bose thinks that Indian society's persistent bias against girls and young women is largely to blame. Parents are likely to send boys on to higher grades no matter how poorly they do, but girls usually get pulled out early if they don't excel, the pediatrician added.

"It's an end of opportunity. The next step is she will get married," Bose said. "Nearly all the ones I've asked don't want to get married at that young age. It's quite sad. I think, to some extent, they realize that once you've had a child, your life as you know it — for yourself — is more or less over."

The list of life's options is shrinking for Devan Punitha and Selvaraj Satya, who cling tightly to each other as they describe how their neighbor, Chinnadurai Kantha, killed herself March 16, 2003.

As 16-year-old girls in Kaniyambadi, they run a high risk of falling into the same fatal trap.

Chinnadurai, 35, walked two miles from her village to the forest where she used to gather firewood and plucked leaves from an adanthalai tree. She took them home, mixed a poison and collapsed in writhing agony in front of her house after drinking it.

Punitha was one of the neighbors who fought to save the woman's life. They tried to make her vomit by forcing tamarind and water down her throat. It didn't work. Neither did a raw egg. The poison killed her within half an hour.

There were many possible reasons why she chose to end it all — her life was a long unraveling. Her only child died when he was 3. Her husband left her. Her mother went mad 10 years ago and now sits alone, slouched and mumbling in the shadows of her mud- brick house. She chases off visitors with a stick.

Chinnadurai's only brother died after drinking bootleg liquor. The village mailman, repository of local gossip, says she also had an unhealthy taste for the sarayam, brewed by her brother-in-law.

In the police report, the cause of death was listed as "poisoning: prolonged illness." To the teenage girls who watched her die, the reason means nothing.

"Whatever it was, she should have tried to solve it by speaking to someone," Punitha said.

Babajee, who lived just up the road, also kept his problems to himself.

Friends and relatives say he was always quiet, and they didn't see any hint of the storm roiling his mind.

Early on the day he died, Babajee was rushing to harvest coconuts on his father's small plantation, said his mother, Indirani. He didn't want to miss any of his morning computer class. So he didn't cut the coconuts right, at least not the way his father had ordered.

They argued, and for the first time in his life, Babajee's father hit him. When the boy reached his house, he was as quiet as usual, his mother said.

"He just came home from the farm, had a nice bath, then ate his food and said: 'Mama, I am going to class and then I will come back,' " she said.

Instead, he rode his bicycle about a mile to the gateway of Siluvai Hill, where a statue of Jesus greets visitors, his hands raised in blessing. Babajee climbed a third of a mile up the rocky hill, toward a big white cross.

He stopped at a cave and drank from the can of pesticide. The boy's body was discovered two days later, by men searching with flashlights, following the sickly sweet smell of death.

Babajee's conflict with life had been building on different fronts. There were the problems with his father. Exam pressure weighed heavily on his mind. Competing religions complicated things.

He and his father had moved 100 miles away to the village of Minjur, just north of Madras, so Babajee could attend a private high school and get a better education. They lived in a rented house, and his father worked at a truck factory, next to a small evangelical Christian church. Both returned to Palathuvanam after Babajee took his exams.

In Minjur, the pastor, the Rev. Anand Mithiran, invited Babajee for after-school tutoring, which the preacher and a parishioner offered each night. Babajee also attended Sunday services. But his father saw Jesus as just another god, who should not unseat Kali, the black, four-armed goddess with a necklace of skulls.

"His father used to tell him, 'If you want, you can believe in that god [Jesus], but you must believe in our god too,' " Babajee's mother said.

Every time the family passed the statue of Jesus next to Siluvai Hill, Babajee would bow his head and cross himself. That only angered his father more.

"We never used to bow," Babajee's mother said, and then wondered aloud: "Maybe that is why all this happened."

Not long after Babajee killed himself, his results from the Grade 10 state exams arrived in the mail. He received 420 out of a possible 500.

Top of his class.

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Page 95
May 30, 2004 Los Angeles Times
Remarks by Cosby Still Reverberating
Blacks react with mixed feelings after the entertainer criticizes dropouts and the poor as 'knuckleheads' in a recent speech.
From Associated Press

NEW YORK — Remarks entertainer Bill Cosby made earlier this month upbraiding some in the black community on issues ranging from grammar to complaints of police brutality have been variously described as an elitist attack on the poor or as unpleasant truths that needed to be dealt with.

Speaking at a commemoration of the anniversary of the Brown vs. Board of Education desegregation decision, the longtime education advocate cited elevated dropout rates for urban black students and criticized low-income blacks for not using the opportunities the civil rights movement won for them.

"These people marched and were hit in the face with rocks to get an education and now we've got these knuckleheads walking around," Cosby said at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund observance held in Washington this month.

"I can't even talk the way these people talk: 'Why you ain't,' 'Where you is' … and I blamed the kid until I heard the mother talk," Cosby said, according to published reports. "And then I heard the father talk…. Everybody knows it's important to speak English except these knuckleheads. You can't be a doctor with that kind of crap coming out of your mouth."

He also turned his attention to the population of black prison inmates, saying: "These people are not political prisoners…. People getting shot in the head over a piece of poundcake…. We're outraged [saying,] 'The cops shouldn't have shot him.' What … was he doing with the poundcake in his hand?"

Among blacks, reaction to Cosby's remarks has been a mix of praise and criticism.

"I think he could have said a lot of the same things in a constructive manner instead of coming down hard on people who don't have the same podium to defend themselves," said Jimi Izrael of Cleveland Heights, Ohio, a columnist.

But the Rev. Conrad Tillard of the Eliot Church of Roxbury, Mass., said Cosby "could absolutely have" gone even further. "What's so true about what he said is slavery and the pathology of Jim Crow have absolutely hurt us, but at the end of the day, we have got to turn the tide."

Tillard said some of the concern over Cosby's remarks was that others would use them to criticize blacks instead of admitting that discrimination still existed.

Others said they were concerned not with the topic of Cosby's remarks but with his tone. "Judgment of the people in the situation is not helpful. How can you help them is the question," hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons said.

In a statement issued the weekend after his remarks, Cosby said his comments were intended to be a call to action.

"I feel that I can no longer remain silent. If I have to make a choice between keeping quiet so that conservative media does not speak negatively or ringing the bell to galvanize those who want change in the lower economic community, then I choose to be a bell ringer," he said.

[-additional reading: Afro-American Idiom, Experience and Unemployment]

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Page 96
May 30, 2004 Los Angeles Times
At home in the world
Humboldt's Cosmos: Alexander von Humboldt and the Latin American Journeys That Changed the Way We See the World; Gerard Helferich; Gotham Books: 358 pp., $27.50
By Jamie James, Jamie James is a critic and the author of "The Music of the Spheres."

The scientist and explorer Alexander von Humboldt was surely one of the most curious men who ever lived. His interest was piqued by everything under the sun and beyond it: Humboldt made important contributions as a botanist, geologist, astronomer, geographer and mountaineer, and he helped create the fields of geomagnetism, climatology, oceanography and ethnography. His expedition of scientific discovery through South America, Mexico and the Caribbean, from 1799 to 1804, made him one of the most famous intellectuals in the world; Emerson likened him to Aristotle and Julius Caesar. There are mountains named after Humboldt in Nevada, Colorado, Venezuela, China, New Zealand and Antarctica. Even the moon has the Humboldtian Sea.

Yet somehow, perhaps because he was the last great generalist, never lighting on one subject long enough to make it his own, his name has lapsed into obscurity. Gerard Helferich, an editor and publisher, has written a vivid, solidly researched biography to rectify that. "Humboldt's Cosmos" is a fascinating snapshot of European thought at the cusp of the Romantic era and the uncompromising rationalism of modern science.

In Humboldt's mind, nature inspired transcendental awe as much as it generated data. His studies of the native peoples of the Americas were as influential as his work in biology and the earth sciences: Although he was a Prussian with an aristocratic "von," and his commission came from the king of Spain, he was an idealistic democrat, one of the earliest foreign observers to acknowledge the intellectual accomplishments of the Incas and Aztecs.

Helferich is a well-informed introducer of the book's many fields, from early theories about the formation of volcanoes to the history of the Spanish conquest, but his book succeeds best as a thrilling tale of adventure travel. There was never a wilder place than South America when Humboldt and his doughty sidekick, a French physician named Aimé Bonpland, descended its malarial, crocodile-infested rivers and climbed its furiously active volcanoes, always with their precision scientific instruments in tow.

When they climbed Chimborazo, near Quito, which was thought at the time to be the tallest mountain in the world, Humboldt's party set an altitude record that would stand for decades. Their trail sometimes narrowed to less than a foot across, with a steep, snow-covered slope on one side and on the other "an abyss a thousand feet deep, with huge rock formations projecting from the bottom. They had no climbing equipment, and at some places the ridge rose so steeply that they had to pull themselves up with their bare hands, which bled on the sharp rocks." Even under these arduous circumstances, Humboldt paused periodically to take readings with his thermometer and barometer.

At the conclusion of his five-year odyssey, Humboldt came to the United States, where the process of his lionization began. He dined with President Thomas Jefferson both at the White House and at Monticello, where they talked philosophy and natural history, forming a friendship that would continue by correspondence until Jefferson's death. Dolly Madison wrote in a letter to her sister that "all the ladies say they are in love" with the "charming Baron von Humboldt" (though he was otherwise inclined, apparently; after a series of passionate liaisons with younger men, he followed a chaste life, to devote himself to science).

In Europe, Humboldt was royally feted (though Napoleon dissed him at his coronation, telling him curtly that the empress, too, collected plants), achieving a level of renown that would never be eclipsed by any scientist who followed him. He devoted the remainder of his long life to publishing the discoveries he had made in the New World, culminating in a ponderous volume called "Cosmos," which attempted to synthesize all human knowledge in a grand, overarching system. It also had a more practical purpose: Humboldt was among the first to foresee the coming importance of science in human affairs. He predicted that those societies that best put the discoveries of science to industrial use would prosper, a prophecy that has been amply fulfilled. His hope that the world would be harmonized by "a community of knowledge" is an ideal still waiting to be realized. •

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Page 97
May 31, 2004 Los Angeles Times


After he'd gone, she found money in the sheets,
fallen when he pulled his trousers off.
Gathering the coins into a small pile
she set them on the window ledge.
They sat, gathering dust, guilt,
until one day her husband scooped them into his pocket.
Small change for a call he couldn't make from the house.

From "Essential Poems (to fall in love with),
" edited by Daisy Goodwin
(HarperCollins: 196 pp., $15.95)

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Page 98
May 29, 2004
Scientific American May 2004
The Oil and the Otter

It has been IS years since the Exxon Valdez oiled Alaska's Prince William Sound, and more than 12 since the last of the official restoration workers took off their orange slickers and headed home. But at least one cleanup crew never left the Sound: sea otters. The creatures, which were hit especially hard by the first effects of the spill, continue to feed on clams and other food in areas that still contain pockets of oil. Their diligent digging is helping release trapped petroleum -which appears to be sickening them. Ecologists are left with a dilemma: remove the oil (and , possibly cause more harm to the Sound) or let the animals continue to do the dirty work and pay the price.

Scientists had originally predicted that any remaining oil would have been carried by waves to shorelines by now. There exposure to air would transform the oil into a hardened asphalt residue lacking the more volatile and toxic components. "The assumption was that the oil wasn't subsurface, it wasn't low, it was up there in that 'bathtub ring,' and that's where the cleaning effort was focused," explains Stanley .D. Rice, a laboratory program manager with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Alaska Fisheries Science Center in Juneau.

GREASY EATS: By digging for food, sea otters in Prince William Sound are cleaning up what remains of the mess left by the Exxon Valdez. The oil components are poisoning the otters.

But in 2001, with some animals continuing to show indications of oil exposure, NOAA researchers dug into those beaches and found far more Exxon Valdez oil than expected-much of it still liquid in about 70 percent of the sites. The remaining residue "still has a pretty high complement of the toxic components of oil," remarks team leader Jeffrey W. Short.

Sea otters, which feed on clams, mussels and other invertebrates, reach their prey by diving and digging underwater pits. One otter can create thousands of pits in a year, moving five to seven cubic yards of sediment a day. These excavations release oil from surrounding sediment, helping it disperse, explains U.S. Geological Survey research wildlife biologist James L. Bodkin. He has been studying a group of about 70 sea otters from northern Knight Island, a region that lost 90 percent of its sea otter population after the spill. The otters are no longer becoming coated in oil and dying from hypothermia, but there is evidence that they are ingesting the contaminants. Researchers have recorded life spans reduced by between 10 and 40 percent compared with before the spill and noted swollen and discolored livers in some dead otters.

The sacrifices of today's sea otters, however, should have their benefits, Rice observes: "The [otters ] that are new and coming along, they're going to be entering a habitat that's cleaner." Decreasing levels of an enzyme called cytochrome P450-1A in the animals' blood, produced in response to toxic chemicals, indicate that an end to the prolonged oil exposure is near, according to USGS physiologist Brenda E. Ballachey and Purdue University pathologist Paul W. Snyder. "While they're still being exposed, there is less and less oil there every year, " Rice notes.

With the possibility of seeking further restoration funds from Exxon on the horizon, scientists are debating whether a cleanup makes sense. "I think that if we had asked this question and had the data we have now several years ago, we probably would be out there cleaning up," Rice states. The effort generally involves mechanical tilling-essentially, plowing the affected area with heavy machinery. The method turns the ground and releases trapped oil, which is then broken down by microorganisms.

But the time may be fast approaching, Rice adds, when such intervention may not be wise. Although human cleanup efforts would more quickly make feeding safer for sea otters and other foragers, such as harlequin ducks, they would physically disrupt the environment and would not be beneficial to all organisms. "Maybe on some marginal beaches, you would do more harm than good," Rice surmises. "What might be a good idea for otters may not be a good idea for a clam or a mussel. There is no obvious choice."

Sonya Senkowsky, based in Anchorage, Alaska, may be reached at

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"... In 2002 and 2003, the rate of deforestation in Brazilian Amazonia climbed to nearly 2.4 million hectares per year (see figure)--equivalent to 11 football fields a minute..."

May 28, 2004
Science, Vol 304, Issue 5674, 1109-1111 , 21 May 2004
Deforestation in Amazonia

In recent years, we and others have identified critical threats posed to the forests of Amazonia by the Brazilian government's plans to dramatically expand highways and other major infrastructure projects in the region (1-6). Our conclusions have been disputed by elements of the Brazilian government (7-10), which assert that a key assumption of our spatial models--that new roads and highways will continue to promote large-scale Amazonian deforestation, as they have done in the past--no longer applies. This is so, they argue, because of improvements in frontier governance and environmental-law enforcement, as well as changes in Brazilian public attitudes toward forests (7-10). As a consequence, the Brazilian government is proceeding with the largest expansion of highways, roads, power lines, gas lines, hydroelectric reservoirs, railroads, and river-channelization projects in the history of the Amazon (1-6).

In 2002 and 2003, the rate of deforestation in Brazilian Amazonia climbed to nearly 2.4 million hectares per year (see figure)--equivalent to 11 football fields a minute. This increase mostly resulted from rapid destruction of seasonal forest types in the southern and eastern parts of the basin; relative to preceding years (1990-2001), forest loss shot up by 48% in the states of Pará, Rondônia, Mato Grosso, and Acre (11). The increase was evidently driven by rising deforestation and land speculation along new highways and planned highway routes (12), and the dramatic growth of Amazonian cattle ranching (13) and industrial soybean farming (6, 14). Soybean farms promote some forest clearing directly, but have a much greater impact on deforestation by consuming cleared land, savanna, and ecotonal forests, thereby pushing ranchers and slash-and-burn farmers ever deeper into the forest frontier. Equally important, soybean farming provides a key economic and political impetus for massive infrastructure projects, which accelerate deforestation by other actors (6, 14).

Anticipating public alarm about the new deforestation figures, the Brazilian government recently announced new measures designed to slow Amazon forest loss. These measures include increased satellite monitoring of deforestation and the involvement of additional ministries--not just the Ministry of Environment--in efforts to reduce illegal deforestation and forest burning (12). These measures, in concert with the establishment of new protected or multiple-use areas in Amapa, Amazonas, and Acre, are a move in the right direction.

The new measures do not go far enough, however. They fail to address one of the most critical drivers of forest destruction: the rapid proliferation of new highways and other infrastructure, which greatly increases physical access to the Amazonian frontier. The Brazilian government plans to create interministerial working groups to recommend ways to reduce or mitigate project impacts, but is not considering the cancellation or significant delay of any major project. Indeed, just days after announcing the new anti-deforestation package, Brazilian President Lula demanded that his federal ministers find ways to circumvent environmental and other impediments to stalled infrastructure projects throughout the country, including 18 hydroelectric dams and 10,000 km of highways (15).

In the Amazon, new transportation projects frequently lead to a dramatic rise in illegal deforestation, logging, mining, and hunting activities (1-6). If Brazil criss-crosses the basin with thousands of kilometers of such projects, the net result, our models suggest, will be not only further increases in forest destruction, but fragmentation of surviving forests on an unprecedented spatial scale (1, 5). Many of the government's recently announced measures to slow forest loss are positive steps, but if it does not curtail its aggressive plans for infrastructure expansion, Brazil will fail to address one of the most critical root causes of Amazonian deforestation.

William F. Laurance, Ana K. M. Albernaz, Philip M. Fearnside, Heraldo L. Vasconcelos, Leandro V. Ferreira

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Page 100
instead of trying to set an economically sound example and helping lesser nations meet that 'evolving end' of smaller, more knowledgeable populations, we bring in cheap labor, fuck it over with unmeetable american 'good life dreams' which then only draws even more cheap labor which we then have to ship out -fucked over- perryb

May 25, 2004
The Economist Magazine May 22, 2004
Central America
Bringing it all back home
A prison holocaust reveals the scale of the gang culture carried home by Central Americans returning from the United States

THERE was one distinguishing feature common to many of the 103 charred bodies of the victims of a fire that swept through a wing of an overcrowded prison in San Pedro Sula, in northern Honduras, on May 17th. Most of the bodies were heavily tattooed. The dead were all members of youth gangs, most imprisoned for the mere act of belonging.

Youth gangs and the crime and violence they engender have become one of the most serious problems facing the five small and mainly poor countries of Central America. The prison at San Pedro Sula, Honduras's second city, was designed to hold 800 inmates but was crammed with 2,200. That is partly because President Ricardo Maduro's government, like several of its neighbours, is trying to crack down on the gangs. Last August, it amended the penal code to make mere membership of a gang a criminal offence. El Salvador has done the same; Nicaragua is poised to follow. In Honduras, the police were ordered to haul youngsters off the street and straight to prison just for having the distinctive gang tattoos. Since August, more than 1,000 have been jailed.

Many Hondurans applaud this tough stance. But the fire shows the fatal weakness of the policy. Though its cause may have been an electrical fault, survivors claimed that prison warders added to the death toll by refusing to open cells for up to two hours after it started. A year ago, 68 prisoners, most of them gang members, were killed during a riot at another Honduran prison; many were shot by guards.

Critics argue that governments should look at what lies behind the rise of the gangs rather than criminalise them. The gangs' origins lie in the wars that engulfed Central America in the 1970s and 1980s. To escape these, many Central Americans migrated to the United States, and particularly to Los Angeles. Their children imitated that city's gang culture. In 1992, as the wars were dying down, the United States decided to start deporting jailed gang members when their sentences were over.

The notorious Salvatrucha

Back in countries that were almost foreign to them, with no jobs, the deportees set up their own gangs. According to government estimates, 36,000 people are said to belong to gangs in Honduras, 14,000 in Guatemala, 10,500 in El Salvador, 1,100 in Nicaragua and 2,600 in Costa Rica. The true figure is almost certainly much higher. The most notorious of hundreds of gangs, or maras, is the Mara Salvatrucha, named for its Salvadorean founders who claimed to be as wise as a trout. Its initials appear in graffiti across the region. Many of the prison dead were MS members.

To see why young men—and women—flock to the gangs, just go to one of the poorer neighbourhoods of a city such as Managua, Nicaragua's capital. Each barrio has its own gang. In Ilario Sánchez, for example, one youth in three belongs to El Cartel, the local gang, according to “Jean Paul”, one of its members (who says he takes his nom de guerre from a rap singer). Most have their own weapons, usually machetes; some even make their own pistols. With jobs scarce, he argues that there is little else to do than join a gang. Crime becomes the only route to respect, power and money. Some of the money goes on drugs, which are dealt and consumed openly on the streets.

Most of the gangs, like El Cartel, are strictly local affairs. They engage in petty crime and low-grade extortion of local shopkeepers. It is the bigger gangs, such as the Mara Salvatrucha, that have governments worried. The MS spans Central America, Mexico and the United States; its leaders probably still live in Los Angeles, and it even has adherents in places like the Virginia suburbs of Washington, DC. In southern Mexico, it has killed scores of Central American migrants trying to reach the United States, often for nothing more than a pair of trainers.

The MS lacks the rigid hierarchy and deep pockets of the Italian Mafia. But there is evidence that its graduates are running kidnap gangs in places like San Pedro Sula, which prey on foreign businessmen. It is this move from street-fighting to organised crime that has prompted governments to crack down. Armando Calidonio, Honduras's deputy minister of public security, argues that his government's hard line, which includes a stiff gun-control law, is working. Kidnapping and bank robberies fell last year, but murders increased.

Some commentators question whether crime is in fact falling. They criticise a policy that lumps together hardened gangsters and naïve teenagers who might acquire a tattoo just to impress a girlfriend. Once in prison, the two merge. In San Pedro Sula's jail, the staff had little control over the gangs, according to Wim Savenije of Flacso, a graduate school in San Salvador, who has visited it. He argues that better enforcement of existing penal codes and community policing are preferable to draconian new codes which provide short-term relief but worsen the underlying problem.

Others argue for investment in rehabilitation schemes and sports facilities to keep young men occupied. In one such scheme, El Cartel and other gangs from Managua's barrios will compete this weekend in a football tournament organised by the city council. At least they will be kicking a ball rather than each other's heads.

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May 23, 2004 Science Magazine vol 304 14 May 2004
The Wide Spectrum of Sex and Gender
A review by Alison Jolly (profile below)

Evolution's Rainbow Diversity, Gender, and Sexuality in Nature and People by Joan Roughgarden University of California Press, Berkeley, 2004. 480 pp. $27.50. ISBN 0-520-24073-1.

Evolution's Rainbow is written for professional biologists; pre-med and medical students; lesbians; gays; bi-, trans-, and intersexuals; and any other people who enjoy either sex or gender. The readership should, but undoubtedly won't, include the religious orthodox, who probably would not appreciate a transsexual professor of evolutionary biology quoting the Bible and the Koran.

Roughgarden begins with a review of sex and gender in animals and plants, structured to challenge current theories of sexual selection. She then describes the development of the embryo, the psychology of sex and gender diversity, and the treatment of sexually diverse people in ancient and modern cultures. She ends with policy recommendations for modern American society. The book is held together by her demand that we rethink our attitudes toward human diversity. In the calculus of reproductive success, homosexuals who divert mating energy to nonreproductive partners have always posed a problem to evolutionary theory, and people who choose to be celibate or sterile even more so. On the book's first page, Roughgarden suggests, "When scientific theory says something's wrong with so many people, perhaps the theory is wrong, not the people."

Sex-changed male.
Though most rainbow wrasse (Thalassoma lucasanum) engage in mass spawning, terminal males (which began as females) guard groups of females with which they mate individually.

She describes the rainbow of sexuality in other species: hermaphrodites, sex changers, homosexual matings (known from more than 300 vertebrate species), species with three or more "genders," pairs of male swans who fledge more young than male-female pairs, and trios of bluegill sunfish (in which big territorial males court smaller male partners as well as females, and then the threesome spawns together). Roughgarden discards the idea that all these animals are "deceived" by mimicry of the other sex or "cuckolded" by sneaks. Often, she argues, they are cooperating in a wider social context than the simple reproductive pair.

She proposes that the theory of sexual selection should be replaced by one of "social selection," in which all the bonds between members of a society are recognized--including mating relationships that promote kin selection in the widest sense rather than individual reproduction. I agree that far too much of sexual selection theory has concentrated on species that mate at a lek (what Roughgarden calls a male red-light district), where females choose between posturing males who give them nothing but genes. Fascination with showy, competitive males and coy females has continued from Darwin down to present-day popularizers.

However, biologists already study the trade-offs among strategies such as showiness, aggression, mate-guarding, parental investment, queuing for reproductive opportunities, and helping at the nest. If we consider homosexual behavior as a possible benefit, not a cost, we only extend what is in effect already a theory of social selection. We will still continue to see evolution as fundamentally about which genes make it into the next generation. Even Roughgarden does not go as far as the activist who asks, "Why is biology so hung up on reproduction? This does not reflect the reality of my life or what I see around me." I think we don't have to choose one version or the other. For a less emotive example, walking evolved to get from place to place. Although it matters immensely whether we prance, dance, swagger, swish, scoot, shamble, stumble, or march in step, we still move from X to Y.

Roughgarden's treatment of embryonic development emphasizes its complexity, but she comes out on the side of biological bases for much homosexual and transgendered behavior as well as physical intersexes. This view can provide a kind of freedom that would be denied by those who think such behavior is wholly learned--and therefore that it can be unlearned or "cured."

(Of course, in a more tolerant society, learned behavior could also be granted such freedom.) If a bias toward minority sexual patterns does start with the genes, such patterns are far more frequent than could be continued if such genes were deleterious. Therefore, the conclusion must be that there is positive selection for some proportion of those genes in the population. Roughgarden raises the specter of genetic engineering being used to tamper with the genes supposed to underlie these behaviors, and she counsels how ill-advised it would be to let current prejudices interfere with processes that human evolution seems to have found beneficial.

The book moves on to narratives of lives of transsexual people, from ancient eunuchs to modern Indian hijras. Roughgarden notes that Jesus recognized multiple types of eunuchs: "there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 19:12, Revised Standard Version). In all cultures, a few males have made themselves eunuchs out of a wish to be women. Most of those who talk about it claim that they knew they were born into the wrong sex long before their own puberty. Similarly, in all cultures there are a few females who live and act as men, from Indonesian tomboi to Joan of Arc. Following the arguments of Leslie Feinberg, Roughgarden describes Joan of Arc as "a male-identified trans person" who chose to be burned alive rather than wear women's clothing--and who was so convincingly masculine that her executioners raked away the coals to display her naked body and remove people's doubts that she was a woman.

In the last chapter, Roughgarden summarizes her position:

I believe the rainbow always has more colors than society has categories, and that society is always trying to cram humanity's rainbow into the few categories it does have. Social scientists have the opposite perspective; they think diversity results from society producing difference among people who are biologically the same. I don't agree. The biology I know tells of endless variation, not of a few universals.

She ends her text with an agenda, a list of what she believes transgendered people want. It includes the desires "to be cherished as a normal part of human diversity"; "to be treated with courtesy and dignity"; and "to be respected as people, not bodies."

How successful is Roughgarden in her ambition to revolutionize current biological theories of sexual selection, and to use revised theory to explain and embrace human sexual diversity? Oddly, I think she fails in the first quest yet succeeds in the second. As I noted above, what Darwinian theory needs is not so much radical revision as a simple expansion to take sexual diversity much more seriously. This more encompassing emphasis must address the high frequency and the biological bases of life choices that do not lead to personal reproduction as well as the malleability of both sex and gender among other species. Evolution's Rainbow makes it clear that such a change, even if not revolutionary, would illuminate aspects of long-term evolution. But even more important, Roughgarden's heartfelt account shows how much a changed agenda is needed in the contemporary culture where each of us lives our own short life.

The reviewer is in the Department of Biology and Environmental Sciences, University of Sussex, Mail 32 Southover High Street, Lewes BN7 1HX, UK. E-mail:

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Page 102
good reading on the article below:
1 - A number of the 'abuse' principals have backgrounds as (or are still) patrolmen, prison guards et cetera -long a problem in those professions -California a current case.
2 - An aside: what role, if any, do Mossad (sp?) principals or does their 'technology' have in these interrogations?


May 23, 2004 Los Angeles Times
Documents Provide New Details of Abuse
Army investigators heard accounts from inmates of Abu Ghraib and intelligence officers.
By Richard A. Serrano and Greg Miller, Times Staff Writers

WASHINGTON — Military investigators who combed through the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq this year were told that one detainee was slammed head-first into a wall and later died, and that another was dunked in urine.

They also encountered intelligence officers who said they never saw the abuse and humiliation that was occurring.

Only one intelligence team member acknowledged seeing any of the thousands of photographs and videos that were floating through the complex — images of naked detainees so accessible that some were visible on computers at an Internet cafe in the prison.

Six military prison guards are awaiting courts-martial on charges of abusing prisoners and a seventh has pleaded guilty. As they seek to determine how far up the chain of command responsibility lies, agents of the Army's Criminal Investigative Command are turning their attention to intelligence officers, civilian contractors and linguists who routinely had contact with detainees.

But their insistence that they were in the dark about prisoner abuse could make it difficult for investigators to seek criminal charges against intelligence unit members who the guards claim encouraged them to get rough with detainees in the first place.

Revelations about the intelligence squads and new forms of abuse are found in more than 100 pages of case files compiled by Army investigators. The material includes questionnaires, agents' handwritten notes, victim statements and prison flow charts. It is not clear how much of the material was seen by Maj. Gen. Antonio M. Taguba, who investigated the abuse and issued a highly critical report that became public this month.

The documents obtained by The Times also provide new details of the treatment of Iraqi prisoners.

Detainees were forced to participate in contests in which military police tried to see how many detainees they could make cry or urinate on themselves. Happy faces were drawn across the bare chest of one detainee, who was nicknamed "Happy Nipples."

Some of the documents are notes taken by an investigator as he worked his way down the cellblocks interviewing detainees. One prisoner told him he smelled alcohol on guards "many times." Another said he was whipped, beaten and held for 40 days in isolation. A third said "they beat me with a broom and stepped on my head with their feet."

Both victims and guards cited by Army investigators tended to confirm characterizations of Cpl. Charles A. Graner Jr. as the most violent on Tier 1A in what was known as the prison's "hard site," where inmates considered high risk were kept. A guard said Graner would beat prisoners and then encourage his colleagues to "come get some of this."

At one point Graner, who worked in a state prison in Pennsylvania before being deployed to Iraq, allegedly told another guard: "The Christian in me says it's wrong, but the corrections officer in me says, 'I love to make a grown man piss himself.' "

Another guard described in the investigative reports as particularly vicious was Staff Sgt. Ivan L. "Chip" Frederick II, who previously worked in a Virginia prison. After the investigation into the abuse was launched, he allegedly told a fellow soldier that this would ruin his civilian career.

"Nineteen and a half years down the drain," he lamented.

The investigation began Jan. 13 when Spc. Joseph Darby, another member of the military police unit, slipped an anonymous, typewritten note under the door of the Army investigation command's office at the prison, along with a photo disc that Graner had given him.

"To Whom It May Concern," the note began. "I am writing this letter as a matter of moral ethics."

Darby said he recently had seen "some very disturbing photos of inmates in the hard site prison, Tier 1A to be specific. I had heard stories in the company about the incidents that were taking place but I did not believe them till I was given these photos."

He identified Graner, Frederick, Pfc. Lynndie England, Spc. Sabrina Harman and Spc. Megan Ambuhl, all charged in the investigation, as key figures in the abuse, as well as Spc. Jeremy Sivits, who pleaded guilty last week to abusing prisoners and was sentenced to a year in prison. Sivits is expected to testify against the others.

"I am writing this to try to right the wrongs that I have seen in these photos and video clips," Darby wrote. "Since no one will come forward … I feel something must be done. So I am giving this disc to you. Do with it as you wish."

He signed the note, "Concerned MP."

Much of the alleged abuse began last October, when the military was under mounting pressure to collect information regarding the whereabouts of Saddam Hussein and other potential threats to U.S. forces.

After being tipped off by Darby, agents first interviewed guards, then gave intelligence team members a one-page sheet with 11 questions. Twenty-five members filled them out.

Only seven acknowledged witnessing any mistreatment, and most of that consisted of minor incidents outside the prison. Only one said he saw a photograph of abuse. And while 15 said they had heard about abuse, only one reported it to a superior.

Of those who said they knew of mistreatment, Staff Sgt. Russell Henderson said he was told of two occasions in which "several" soldiers "used undue force with host nationals at the front gate" of the prison.

Capt. Tyler Craner said he had heard that three soldiers from the 519th Military Intelligence Battalion based at Ft. Bragg, N.C., were disciplined for having "a female detainee strip."

Torin Nelson, a civilian working with interrogators, said that an angry guard shoved a prisoner and that an interrogator "picked up [an elderly] detainee by the cuffs and dragged him to the interrogation booth, yelling at him because he had fallen to the ground."

Spc. Paul Son answered "yes" to whether he had witnessed abuse at Abu Ghraib, then used the back half of the questionnaire to lash out at his command for forcing interrogators to work in open areas while the compound was under nearly daily mortar attack.

Two soldiers died and 13 others were injured in an attack Sept. 20 "as a direct result of obeying the orders given by the chain of command to continue with night operations in tents rather than hardened facilities," Son wrote. "Hardened facilities were available, and efforts were made to convince the chain of command to allow soldiers to work in the bunkered buildings or to discontinue night interrogation operations."

Other interrogators acknowledged that they suggested that guards use tactics such as sleep deprivation and playing loud music to keep prisoners awake. The interrogators denied telling guards to hit detainees, strip them naked, pile them on the floor or force them to masturbate. They also denied requesting photographs of the humiliations to scare other detainees into talking, as has been reported.

The investigation documents include wrenching accounts from prisoners. In one case, a detainee said he was severely punished after guards accused him of planning to use a broken toothbrush to attack them.

The prisoner, identified as Abdoul Wahab Younes Ahmed, denied that the toothbrush was his. He said he was stripped, deprived of his mattress and cuffed to the cell floor.

"After that they took me to a closed room and more than five of the guards poured cold water on me and ordered me to put my head in someone's urine that was already in that room," he said. "They beat me with a broom and stepped on my head with their feet while it was still in the urine. They pressed my [rear end] with a broom and spit on it" while a female soldier stood on his legs.

He said a leader of the day shift crew would give him his clothes back, but that "at night Graner took them away." The treatment went on for three days, the prisoner said.

Another prisoner, identified as Solaiman Saadi Solaiman, said his hands were cuffed to a prison wall merely for asking a guard, Sgt. Hydrue S. Joyner, what time it was. When Graner came on duty that evening, the prisoner said, "he hit me hard on my chest and he cuffed me to the window of the room about five hours and did not give me any food that day."

During 67 days in the cellblock, the prisoner said he "saw lots of people getting naked." During the first days of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, guards came in "with two boys naked and they were cuffed together face to face and Graner was beating them."

"Other guards were watching and taking pictures from top and bottom" of the prison tier, he said.

England told investigators that it was Graner's idea to stack naked prisoners in a pyramid, and that Frederick forced them to masturbate. Sgt. Javal S. Davis, another accused guard, said Graner "handled" the unidentified prisoner who was plowed into a wall, suffering cuts that required stitches. That prisoner is "deceased now," Davis said.

It was not clear which prisoner Davis was referring to, although the Pentagon is investigating as possible homicides two cases involving blunt force injuries at the prison.

Lawyers for the six guards awaiting trial maintain that intelligence officers pressured their clients to abuse prisoners to extract more information.

Graner's lawyer, Guy Womack of Houston, said recently published photos of the abuse prove it was engineered by military intelligence officers. He said guards did not know enough about Iraqi society to humiliate prisoners in such ways.

Womack said they would not have known that licking the bottom of a shoe — which some prisoners were allegedly ordered to do — is seen as a particularly offensive act.

"Only the intelligence officers who study the psyche of the prisoners know that there are certain poses and ways to stage them," Womack said. "They know what type of humiliation will be the most effective. The MPs would have had no way to understand the significance of that. It's a cultural thing."

Womack said intelligence officers ordered the construction of a plywood wall inside Abu Ghraib so there would be fewer witnesses to abuse, and he said they orchestrated the mistreatment so that almost all of it took place at night.

The Army investigators' notes also say that one of the accused guards, Davis, lied when he said that he unintentionally stepped on prisoners' fingers and toes. Davis told investigators that he and a detainee he was escorting "both fell as we stumbled over another prisoner" lying on the cellblock floor, and stepped on the prisoner as he was trying to help him up.

Investigators did not believe that account and said in the report obtained by The Times that Davis "lied on first statement about abuse."

In another incident in which detainees were piled naked in a pyramid and Graner posed for a photograph as if he were about to punch one of them, the notes say that Harman, another accused guard, "did not feel what happened was wrong."

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Page 103
a great deal of significance, i think, in a very small item

May 20, 2004
The Economist Magazine May 15, 2004
Management Education
No More Boring Analysis?

Managers Not MBAs: A Hard Look at the Soft Practice of Managing and Management. By Henry Mintzberg. Berrett-Koehler; 480 pages $27.95

HOW do you teach managers to manage? Henry Mintzberg, a professor of management at McGill University in Montreal, has long held a contrary view to that proposed by most business schools. In this constantly stimulating book he divides his answer into two parts: first, he argues that the traditional qualification, the Masters of Business Administration (MBA), is the wrong way—he says it “prepares people to manage nothing”. Then he expounds what he believes is the right way: an imprecise mix of personal reflection and the sharing of experience.

Mr Mintzberg finds fault with the emphasis that many MBA programmes place on frenetic case studies which encourage students to come up with rapid answers based on meagre data. But more than that, he criticises them for their concentration on dry analysis. Such courses, he says, enable their graduates to “speak convincingly in a group of 40 to 90 people”, and make them believe they can leapfrog over experience. That, though, is not the sum total of what is required to manage a complex commercial organisation.

Synthesis, not analysis, argues Mr Mintzberg, “is the very essence of management”. On several occasions he cites Robert McNamara, once president of the Ford Motor Company and a United States secretary of defence in the 1960s, as the archetypal MBA, a man who thought that even in Vietnam “generic analysis could substitute for situational knowledge”.

More recently, the qualification has been thrown into deeper disrepute by the heavy dependence of companies such as Enron on MBA recruits. Its former chief executive Jeffrey Skilling, currently awaiting trial on 36 charges of fraud and insider trading, liked to boast that he came in the top 5% of his MBA class at the Harvard Business School.

And yet, if the MBA is so bad at teaching management, how come America has far more successful businesses than Europe and Japan, areas of the world that are significantly less enthusiastic about such methods of learning? Leaving aside the unprovable rejoinder that American firms would have done even better without the MBA, Mr Mintzberg argues that any list of America's most admired corporate leaders is heavily loaded with people who don't have the qualification: Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Jack Welch, Michael Dell and Andy Grove, to name but a few. The fact that some 40% of the bosses of America's biggest companies today have an MBA is, he claims, largely due to the fact that the system is self-perpetuating. “Enabling Harvard to place so many people at the top is the fact that Harvard already has so many people at the top.”

Mr Mintzberg is not alone these days in questioning the value of the traditional MBA. Leading consultants such as McKinsey and Mercer are spreading their recruitment net much more widely. Mercer's London office says that one year's in-house training enables young graduates to “run circles round newly minted MBAs”. In its February issue, the Harvard Business Review (no less) said that “an arts degree is now perhaps the hottest credential in the world of business”, with corporate recruiters trawling places such as the Rhode Island School of Design.

“Managers not MBAs” throws a stone into the often complacent world of management education. It should be required reading for anyone who has the qualification, wants one, or just wonders what all the fuss is about.

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Page 104
-another aspect of 'the human condition'

May 18, 2004 Los Angeles Times
Psyche's Torn Curtain
Now seen as misguided butchery, lobotomies were once the treatment of choice for mental illness. Doctors, patients confront a dark past.
By Benedict Carey, Times Staff Writer

SANTA CRUZ — He is a big man with a sweep of white hair who lives in a small apartment by the sea, not far from the San Jose hospital where a doctor gouged his brain with a steel wand more than 40 years ago.

The doctor had recommended the operation, and Howard's parents agreed to it. They thought it was the only way to relieve their 12-year-old son's "adolescent anxiety," to subdue his anger, to set his life straight.

It didn't work out that way. Howard made far more mischief after the operation than he had before. He has struggled with anxiety, fits of anger and moodiness for much of his life. Eventually, he found a kind of peace. Today, at 55, he has a job, a wife who loves him, a sense of humor and a view of Monterey Bay from his easy chair.

Yet the operation still haunts him. He fears that discussing it publicly could jeopardize his job at a transportation company, and with it the small comforts that have taken a lifetime to find. He agreed to be interviewed only if his last name would not be published.

"It horrifies people when I tell them what happened," he said.

More than half a century after a Portuguese neurologist won the Nobel Prize for inventing the lobotomy, doctors view the procedure as little more than misguided butchery. About 50,000 Americans had the surgery between 1936 and 1960. An estimated several hundred, perhaps several thousand, are still alive.

Silenced for decades by fear or shame, a handful have begun to speak out. Their children and grandchildren are speaking out too, as they struggle to understand the operation's effects on their own upbringings.

"It's like we were all supposed to slink into the shadows, as if it never happened, as if doctors never cut into the brains of people we loved," said Christine Johnson, 34, a medical librarian in Levittown, N.Y. She is writing a book about her late grandmother, who was lobotomized in 1954. Johnson also hosts a website, , devoted to memorializing people who underwent the procedure.

A new film, "A Hole in One," offers a fictionalized exploration of the lobotomy era, inspired by a patient's account. A book-length treatment of the subject by poet Penelope Scambly Schott, based on a relative's experience, is due out this year.

Some psychiatrists say it is important for the profession to confront this chapter of medical history because doctors today are pursuing increasingly aggressive, brain-altering treatments, from implantable electrodes to powerful drug combinations.

"We as a profession had one generation of humility after the era of lobotomy, but it's gone," said Jeffrey Schwartz, a research psychiatrist at UCLA. "We're now back to a point where the elite of our society believe that the most sophisticated way to treat mental illness is with drugs, magnetic fields, a knife or radiation beam. It's especially important that we hear the rest of the lobotomy story from people who were there."

To fathom why lobotomy was once widely accepted, an understanding of the state of mental healthcare half a century ago is required. Overwhelmed by sheer numbers, many mental institutions in the U.S. were chaotic warehouses. Patients screamed in the hallways or lay chained to their beds. Drugs to control hallucinations or quiet imaginary voices were not widely available.

Egas Moniz, a neurologist in Lisbon, had reported in 1935 that he "cured" a paranoid patient by destroying a portion of her prefrontal cortex, behind the forehead. Independently, several leading brain researchers in the United States found that an injury to the prefrontal region subdued aggressive behaviors.

The frontal lobes help primates strategize, solve problems and manage emotions. In a lobotomy, nerve fibers leading to and from the region are severed. Typically, this flattens emotional responses and induces a kind of apathy.

The idea of purposely damaging the brain was appalling to many doctors. Yet the procedure seemed to offer hope to thousands of deeply disturbed men and women who otherwise were likely to remain institutionalized.

Some top psychiatrists and neurosurgeons began performing lobotomies in the late 1930s and found that their patients emerged calmer and easier to manage. Many were able to return home. Soon, news accounts reported that doctors had devised a "surgical cure" for mental illness. By the mid-1940s, lobotomy was viewed as the most advanced treatment psychiatry could offer for severe mental illness. In 1949, Moniz was awarded the Nobel Prize in medicine.

"In the context of that time, control of behavior became paramount, and any treatment that achieved that control was seen as therapeutic," said Joel Braslow, a UCLA psychiatrist who has written a history of the era, "Mental Ills and Bodily Cures."

"The illness was being defined by the physician, and the outcome — whether it succeeded or failed — was also defined by the physician. The end result was placing the illness only in people's brains, rather than in the context of their lives."

He has always been a misfit. Among the stepmother's bill of particulars are lying, stealing, cheating, snooping, scaring, teasing, bullying…. The father, a teacher, admitted his inability to deal with the boy, sometimes beating him and calling him foul names. The boy seemed to bring this on himself.

— Doctor's notes on case history No. 6, lobotomized at Doctors General Hospital, San Jose, Dec. 16, 1960.

Twelve-year-old Howard would have challenged any psychiatrist. His mother died of cancer when the boy was 3 years old — a loss he says he never fully accepted.

After his father remarried, the boy clashed with his stepmother, first over cleaning his room, later over homework, table manners, everything. At Covington Junior High in Los Altos, his grades bottomed out. He was caught breaking into other students' lockers with a knife. One day, he bolted out of class and into the schoolyard, running around wildly in a downpour.

"I just loved the rain, that's all," he recalls. "It was coming down so hard you couldn't see the ground."

None of it amused his parents or teachers; the boy was too odd, too angry. "I think my parents were just so frustrated by this point they didn't know what to do," he says. "We went to several counselors, several psychiatrists, and then kept seeing more therapists. Until we got to Freeman."

The late Walter Freeman, who wrote Howard's case history, had retired from the neurology department at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. By then, he was famous for championing the lobotomy. Freeman was so convinced of the value of the operation that he traveled the country to "treat" just about any stubborn mental problem, charging as little as $25.

He would damage the prefrontal region by driving steel ice picks through each eye socket, just above the eye. This "transorbital" lobotomy required no drilling into the skull, as other techniques did.

Freeman had settled in Los Altos, a few minutes' drive from where Howard's family lived. He was nearing the end of his career and would later lose his surgical privileges after one of his patients died on the operating table.

Howard has only dim memories of the operation. His stepmother, who died in 2000, would not discuss it. Nor, Howard says, will his father or his five brothers.

He remembers that his parents drove him to Doctors General Hospital. They told him he was going to get some tests. He recalls getting several shots in the arm. Then the lights went out.

According to Freeman's report, the lobotomy "was followed by rather severe reaction with fever, stiff neck and vomiting. The patient remained in the hospital five days."

"All I remember," says Howard, "is waking up with a massive headache."

Perhaps the most enduring popular image of lobotomy is that of McMurphy, the rebellious mental patient played by Jack Nicholson in the 1975 movie "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," who was reduced by surgery to nodding helplessness.

It's a misleading picture, according to Donald Stuss, a Canadian neuropsychologist who studied a group of schizophrenics lobotomized in the 1960s. The study lasted more than a decade and included detailed evaluations of 16 American lobotomy patients in an effort to pinpoint the mental changes the operation induced.

Stuss' research team compared the 16 patients with healthy people and with schizophrenics who had not undergone the procedure. They found that the lobotomized patients functioned well in terms of memory, language and learning.

"That scared the bejeebers out of me," said Stuss, now director of the Rotman Research Institute in Toronto, which is devoted to the study of the frontal lobes and memory. "We were actually showing real improvements in these areas, compared to the schizophrenics who hadn't gotten the operation."

But the study missed larger problems, the scientists later found. Most brain researchers consider the prefrontal region crucial to a person's ability to act responsibly. It allows people to project into the future, restrain urges and concentrate. The lobotomized patients in Stuss' study could not focus on a task when there was any distraction.

Childlike, they lost the thread of what they were doing, as if trapped in the moment. Those who lived with lobotomized parents and relatives later described grown men and women who didn't care for themselves, whose emotions were out of sync with what was going on around them.

It would be years before doctors tallied the cost of the operation in strict medical terms. Early research papers reported that lobotomy was safe, with about 2% of patients dying (an acceptable risk, given the alternative, many thought), and successful as a treatment in 50% to 70% of cases.

In researching his history of the era, Braslow reviewed records of more than 200 men and women lobotomized at Stockton State Hospital, east of San Francisco.

Twelve percent died from the surgery. Only about one in four improved enough after the operation to be released from the hospital.

By the mid-1950s, psychiatrists had antipsychotic drugs, such as chlorpromazine, to subdue schizophrenics, and increasingly viewed lobotomy as extreme and primitive. As quickly as it had appeared, psychosurgery fell from favor.

He preferred to be alone on hiking trips, resented being called back to the trail.

— Doctor's notes, case history No. 6.

When the headache cleared and he returned home, Howard noticed several changes. He no longer had to go to school, which was wonderful, but odd. His parents seemed to ease up, too, as if they'd become suddenly more tolerant, even doting.

Then one day, his stepmother simply said it out loud: You've had a lobotomy.

The word buzzed in the 12-year-old boy's head — it always would. At the time, there was no explanation, no discussion. Howard's teen years were a troubled journey, from Agnews State Hospital in Santa Clara to Rancho Linda, a reform school in San Jose, and on to a series of halfway houses and mental wards. He broke curfews, visiting hours and other rules.

At a halfway house in San Jose, he was caught cashing tax-return checks sent to the institution by mistake. By his mid-20s, Howard had spent several months in jail and been put on probation for forging checks. He got married, then divorced, and meandered between jobs, from tow truck driver to fast-food cook.

"What happened was that any hope of normal life was gone," he says.

Maybe the lobotomy had ruined his brain; maybe he was using it as an excuse to ruin his life. Of one thing he was certain: He'd been cheated.

"I became a rough kid — chains, leather gloves, out-of-the-movies type of thing — and people would stay away from me. I would walk into liquor stores carrying my wife's purse just to see what happened. There I was, 6-foot-7. No one would say anything. They didn't dare."

In time, the boy became a man, aware of what had happened but at a loss as to what to do with the rest of his life. He had no visible scars from the operation, only a lingering suspicion that somehow people knew he was a little "off."

Was he? He questioned his mental soundness every day, longing for some clue to what the operation had done. "You don't know who you really are. You're always asking: Is this me?" he says.

"The fact was, I'd had my brain done. Nobody was going to let me go out and actually be anything — that's how I thought about it. I was defective, and no one ever talked about it. No one ever explained what would happen. Would my brain suddenly turn off and I just fall over? No one can tell me that."

After returning home he was relaxed, more cheerful and almost perpetually hungry. It is too early to predict the outcome.

— Doctor's concluding notes on Howard.

It may be that Howard's brain was extraordinarily resilient. Or perhaps it was his youth that saved him. A still-developing brain has a better chance to adapt to a lobotomy-like injury than a fully mature one does, surgeons say.

Or maybe Howard just got lucky, if luck is a word that can be used to describe a life like his.

Three decades after the operation, he began to find the comforts of a settled life. He remarried at age 38. He earned a degree at 44 in computer information systems from a junior college. He found a steady job, working for a vehicle charter firm, where he has won a reputation as a gifted computer programmer and troubleshooter. He's being considered for a management job.

He is a loyal son who often spends time with his father. He says he bears no grudge against his stepmother. "I'd sit down to dinner with her right now, if it were possible," he said. "They tried to fix me, and, well, here I am. Why not?

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Page 105
-from readers on this book review:

"Very often people from West, Europe and US, ask me about untouchables...and I tell them to read about Victorian London...or read about how people, even today, in Peking/Shanghai collect sewage...these people are invisible".

"Boots and shoes were not brought inside. The Irish did the work and lived in hovels with the cows.."

May 16, 2004 Los Angeles Times Book Review By Andrew Scull,
Hidden behind long skirts
Andrew Scull is the author of several books, including "Undertaker of the Mind: John Monro and Mad-Doctoring in Eighteenth Century England" and "Customers and Patrons of the Mad-Trade."

Inside the Victorian Home
A Portrait of Domestic Life in Victorian England
Judith Flanders W.W. Norton: 416 pp. $34.95

Victorian England has frequently been pictured (and often saw itself) as a society sundered into separate spheres: a thrusting, rapacious, heartless public realm, a masculine space where the ruthless values of the marketplace held sway; and a private protected arena of alleged domestic bliss, the harmonious home of love, charity and family feeling that was presided over by the female of the species. Home was where the heart was.

Prominent in the carefully rendered portraits conjured up in the imagined worlds of a Dickens or a Trollope and pervading even the mundane realities recorded in contemporary diaries and letters, the cult of domesticity was a central feature of the ruling ideology of the age.

Inside the Victorian home, in theory at least, masochistic matriarchs served as ministering angels to children and husbands alike, dedicating their lives to soothing and restoring their battered menfolk and happily (or perhaps not so happily) dedicating their lives to providing a refuge for male providers whose lives might otherwise have been consumed by commerce.

That all was not such sweetness and light will come as no surprise to anyone. But how, in reality, did the Victorian home function? It was not, after all, a private space but in many respects an extension of the public sphere: one as filled with labor and conflict as the "outside" world; a miniature universe that was as important a measure of a man's (and a family's) social standing and success as the world of employment; a contrived environment whose routines were rigidly controlled and stage-managed in a consuming effort to demonstrate its occupants' conventionality, conformity and thus moral standing. Founded on myths and lies that could never be overtly acknowledged, the hypocrisy of home life was emblematic of the contradictions that lay at the heart of 19th century society.

In Judith Flanders' skilled hands, the anatomy and physiology of the Victorian household are laid bare in "Inside the Victorian Home." With wit and imagination, she probes and pokes at the illusions that generations lived by, and she provides us with unparalleled insight into the machinations that went into constructing and maintaining a "respectable" home. Flanders' focus is limited, of course. Not for her the grand routines of the aristocrats' country houses and urban palaces, or the sordid squalor endured by the slum-dwelling laboring classes. Instead, it is on the domestic lives of Middle England that she concentrates her gaze.

Minute gradations of social status were of overweening importance in such a class-conscious social order. Hence the overwhelming importance of display. The more publicly accessible portions of the house occupied a disproportionate amount of the available space, and comfort and convenience were routinely sacrificed to put the best possible face on one's circumstances. For many, backstage spaces were cramped and crowded. Bedrooms were often meanly furnished to leave more resources available for the public rooms.

Carpets, repositories of dust and vermin, slid inexorably down the social scale as they aged, moving from drawing room to parlor to morning room to bedroom and finally ending up in the scullery — the furthest backstage portion of the house, where the dirtiest, smelliest, least salubrious portions of household work were accomplished (and where the servants briefly got to rest their weary bones at day's end).

Mimicking the allegedly rigid division between inside and outside, private and public, Victorians placed great emphasis on the importance of segregating functions within the household. Bedrooms were for sleeping, for sickness and presumably for sex (though Flanders is as reticent as her subjects on the latter topic, discoursing at length on childbirth and its tribulations but largely ignoring the antecedents of pregnancy and parturition). To read or to write there was to violate an important social norm. Public reception rooms were each supposed to be reserved for their own special functions: dining, receiving guests, providing separate retreats for gentlemen and ladies. Mixing categories was a grievous social sin, as bad as having pretensions beyond one's actual social station.

So appearances were vital, but they had to be the right appearances, and to neglect them was as disgraceful as to care too openly about them. "Breeding" was all about learning to make and maintain the requisite distinctions. For culturally competent Victorians, objects spoke eloquently about their owners. Thus to choose the wrong ones, or to use fakes or imitations to lay claim to a status one did not possess, was to commit an indiscretion or a fraud with potentially far-reaching consequences. Behavior of this sort threatened to undermine hierarchy, and with it the social and moral orders of society. Consequently, like dress, furniture was not a matter of personal taste or comfort but an indicator of one's place in the social system; just as one's commitment to segregation of functions within the home was vital testimony to one's moral worth.

In reality, of course, few could afford the space or resources to live up to these standards, just as few could afford the substantial array of servants on which the full realization of Victorian ideals of domesticity was so heavily dependent. Compromise was everywhere, as was the need to pretend one did not see or smell what was not supposed to be there (and that servants, living cheek-by-jowl with masters and mistresses, did not see or hear what they inevitably must have).

Wives were allegedly decorative, their publicly visible labors deliberately devoid of point or economic value.

The sorts of activities in which "respectable" women could engage without losing their respectability were limited to carefully choreographed visits to their social equals (or, if possible, superiors); charitable work (but not direct, stigmatizing contact with the poor themselves); making ceremonial pincushions and engaging in other sorts of laborious fancywork to fill up the empty hours, producing "items no-one would buy — or perhaps even want to buy." Meanwhile, these decorative creatures were supposed to ensure that the machinery that made the household work proceeded invisibly and in complete silence.

But Victorian houses demanded far too much work for such surface calm to be anything but another illusion. They were, for example, filthy places. The air in English towns was thick with pollution from industry, but also from the open coal fires with which Victorians still insisted on heating their homes. The streets were covered in mud and dung that boots and shoes brought inside, and when the footwear dried the resulting dust would infiltrate the home. Gas lighting, growing ever more common, deprived rooms of oxygen and added its soot to the mix. Rats, mice and insects such as spiders, flies, bed-bugs and fleas provided yet a further layer of problems. Absent more than the most rudimentary of technological aids, cooking, cleaning and the laundry were extraordinarily labor intensive, and besides supervising such servants as they could afford, women of the middle and professional classes had to devote much of their time and attention to performing some of this labor themselves — all the while pretending they did not.

Flanders' discussion is organized around the physical structuring of space, within what were most often rented row or town houses. The bedroom, the nursery, the kitchen, the scullery, the parlor, the drawing room, the dining room, the morning room, the bathroom and the sickroom are each taken up in their turn, the furnishing and functions explored, and, in most cases, they are illustrated through some of the well-chosen illustrations that accompany her text. Such discussions, however, provide the excuse to range far more widely through the social history and underpinnings of Victorian domesticity.

Flanders devotes considerable space, for example, to a discussion of the technology of lighting the home, examining how the advent of first gas and then electric lighting affected social life in myriad ways. The chapter on the nursery provides the occasion for extended excursions on infant feeding, sickness and mortality, and on the necessity of keeping children under wraps so that their noises, sight and smells did not annoy the master of the house on his return from his labors. (The Victorians' sense of the pleasures and pains of domesticity was quite different from ours, and children clearly fell into the latter category for most of their childhood.)

Inevitably, attention to the social organization of the dining room entails attention to Victorians' diet and the prescriptions for serving and entertaining one's guests, while the activities in the kitchen and scullery (most often below street level) lead to substantial attention given to the servant problem. Similarly, the female enclave of the parlor prompts a lengthy discussion of the centrality of marriage to the fate of middle-class women.

Without marriage, as Flanders notes, women could hope to survive only as dependents in someone else's house. To be female and independent was to be an anomaly and somehow incomplete — the opposite of our own assumptions. (Only women of the servant class were exempt from this prejudice against the single female. But their status was not problematic, since in the words of a Lancashire mill owner, William Rathbone Greg, "they fulfill both essentials of a woman's being: they are supported by, and they minister to, men. We could not possibly do without them. Nature has not provided one too many.")

For all the ideological emphasis on separate spheres, married men's comfort and their status were too nearly implicated in their households for them to remain indifferent to or detached from the nature of their domestic environment. And for all the apparent hostility to the notion of middle-class women entering the working world, their management of the household economy required them to manage budgets; hire, supervise and fire labor; and engage in a great deal of manual labor themselves — while maintaining the illusion that the whole elaborate domestic machine was self-operating and beneath their notice. With "Inside the Victorian Home," Judith Flanders has labored long and hard to set the record straight and in the process has provided a fascinating and invaluable guide to the perils, pleasures and contradictions of Victorian domesticity. •

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"When birds hit windows at high speed, the impact sometimes leaves an imprint on the glass. In this instance, a mourning dove in midflight, with its wings in an upstroke, struck a back-porch window. Fine powdery material from the bird's feathers left a record of the impact on the window's surface".

May 15, 2004
The Economist May 8th 2004
Birds and buildings
Traffic accidents
How to stop one flying into the other

CAN modern man pursue his urban ambitions and still coexist with nature? The question seems particularly relevant if you are a bird and you are heading for Chicago, where the annual spring migration is just reaching its peak. Perched on the edge of Lake Michigan, this huge city is directly in the path of some 300 species of avian travellers, many of whom prefer to hug the shoreline rather than cross the huge lake.

That is not always a safe choice, given Chicago's lofty skyline. In the late 1960s, flocks of warblers, thrushes, cuckoos and other species flew headlong into the newly built, 96-storey John Hancock Centre. The birds, which navigate at night using celestial cues, were attracted by the building's lights. Their dead bodies littered the sidewalks below as the sun rose.

Mirrored glass is a growing hazard, even in daylight. Michael Mesure of the Fatal Light Awareness Programme (FLAP), a Toronto-based environmental group, recalls seeing at least 500 birds hit two mirrored office towers in his city one morning a few years ago. “It was literally hailing birds,” he recalls. His group now tries to aid the injured, and rather bizarrely stores masses of dead birds in a freezer until it can photograph them en masse.

On the worst count, some one billion birds a year hit glass in America. Those that die on the spring migration are the fittest of the flock, having already survived thousands of miles in the air. Chicago and Toronto are trying to help.

Both cities pursue organised “lights out” programmes during peak migration periods, when tall office buildings are asked to turn out the lights on their upper floors overnight—and death rates have fallen sharply. New York has a similar but smaller programme.

Chicago is trying particularly hard to lure in feathered visitors. The mayor, Richard Daley, has added lakefront parks, bird sanctuaries and nesting grounds, and the result has been dramatic. As many as 7m birds use the city's lakefront parks annually, says Doug Stotz, an ornithologist at the Field Museum, many of them rare.

Last year, a Grace's warbler was spotted in a local park—the first sighting east of the Mississippi. Bald eagles have returned to the city in recent weeks—the first such sighting in the city since the 1800s. Peregrine falcons are being bred in nests on the top of city skyscrapers.

Snowy owls have turned up at a peninsula along the lakefront best known as the former site of Meigs Field, a small airport Mr Daley bulldozed in the middle of the night last year. The mayor, still unrepentant, plans a 100-acre park and nature centre there.

Despite all the progress, plenty of hazards remain. Chicago's lakefront parks are interspersed with massive man-made structures that are deadly for many birds. Mr Mesure says McCormick Place, Chicago's giant convention centre, “has a horrible history of bird strikes by both day and night”. The newly renovated Soldier Field, a gigantic football stadium along the lake, is another hazard directly in the flight path. And in Grant Park, a massive, twisting piece of shiny metal (designed by Frank Gehry) reaches for the sky above the new outdoor stage in the soon-to-be-dedicated Millennium Park. Those birds had better keep their eyes open.

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following are three great articles:
1 - "Public Enemy Number One: Tobacco or Obesity?" from science magazine and for which see the excellent, current documentary "SUPERSIZE ME!"
2 - "David Reimer, 38; After Botched Surgery, He Was Raised as a Girl in Gender Experiment" from the la times (with additional reference to not unrelated homosexuality and the problems of the intersexed -films references too).
3 - "Gusher to a Few, Trickle to the Rest" -an excellent investigative article by the latimes again, on US interests in Angolan oil etc.


May 14, 2004
Science, Vol 304, 7 May 2004
Public Enemy Number One: Tobacco or Obesity?
Eliot Marshall

Sloth combined with bad diet may soon displace tobacco as the biggest cause of avoidable death in the United States, according to a recent report by scientists at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta. But some researchers, including a few at CDC, dismiss this prediction, saying the underlying data are weak. They argue that the paper's compatibility with a new antiobesity theme in government public health pronouncements--rather than sound analysis--propelled it into print. The authors deny this, saying they relied on the best available data and methods, which were extensively reviewed before publication.

The study, published in the 10 March issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), estimates that in the United States in 2000, there were 435,000 deaths associated with tobacco use compared with 400,000 deaths from "poor diet and physical inactivity" (see table). The authors--four CDC epidemiologists, including agency chief Julie Gerberding--blame the category that includes obesity for causing the "largest increase" in deaths since a similar study 10 years ago. (The other authors are Ali Mokdad, James Marks, and Donna Stroup.)

Causes of Death In the United States Deaths 
Cause                         1990        2000 
Tobacco use                   400,000     435,000 
Poor diet-physical inactivity 300,000     400,000 
Alcohol consumption           100,000     85,000 
Microbial agents              90,000      75,000 
Toxic agents                  60,000      55,000 
Motor vehicle accidents       25,000      43,000 
Firearm use                   35,000      29,000 
Sexual behavior               30,000      20,000 
Illicit drug use              20,000      17,000 
Total                      1,060,000   1,159,000 

SOURCE: A. H. MOKDAD ET AL., JAMA 291, 1238 (2004)

That conclusion galls anti-tobacco activist Stanton Glantz, an expert in heart disease at the University of California, San Francisco, who has made a career of battling cigarette companies. A tireless advocate of smoking controls, Glantz argues that the evidence on tobacco is well tested, whereas the new numbers on obesity are weak--or as one critic in CDC says, "loosey-goosey." The General Accounting Office last year investigated CDC's tobacco-mortality estimates--at the behest of a legislator from a tobacco state--and gave them high marks.

Specifically, Glantz and others grumble that the CDC authors use inconsistent methods for calculating relative risks associated with tobacco and bad diet. According to Glantz, this study bases its obesity risk factors on studies of people who were more youthful on average than the U.S. profile. Death is more likely to be blamed on obesity among young people than among old people. This small bias, if projected onto the whole nation, can overstate obesity's importance. In contrast, risks for tobacco were calculated in an age-specific way and summed, taking out the age bias, critics claim. For this reason alone, Glantz argues, the paper should be "withdrawn."

Several epidemiologists at CDC and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) echoed Glantz's concerns but declined to speak on the record. "I don't want to lose my job," said one CDC staffer who does research in this area. Critics also object that the authors added an arbitrary number of deaths from poor nutrition (15,000) to the obesity category. A CDC scientist says internal discussions on these issues got "very contentious" months before publication and left some feeling that the conclusions were not debatable.

Expanding impact. CDC experts report that diet-related deaths are rising much faster than those from tobacco, but critics question their methods.

Not so, says Stroup, a mathematical statistician: The paper passed through an "extensive review by colleagues in the field, all the way up the chain, including by folks in the office of the director," as well as a review at JAMA. This is not an original project, she explains, but an improvement on a similar report 10 years ago. That study of 1990 data, by former CDC chief William Foege and epidemiologist Michael McGinnis, put 300,000 deaths in the obesity category. It also was criticized for its sketchy description of sources and methods; the authors of the new version say one objective is to clear the fog. Public health leaders had been using the 1990 paper recently in a campaign against obesity, Stroup says; when Senator Bill Frist (R-TN) requested an update, CDC agreed.

The methods used to reach the 2000 findings are "well accepted in epidemiology texts and courses," Stroup says. Co-author Mokdad thinks there are a lot of "misconceptions" about the paper. The stipulated 15,000 deaths from poor nutrition in the obesity section, for example, represent a "conservative estimate" obtained by tripling the number (4242) of death certificates citing this cause in 2000.

The CDC authors say that JAMA's space limitations prevented them from publishing the background information that some readers want. They hope to provide all of this--and more--on a CDC Web site in "about 1 month," says Mokdad. His hope is to make the analysis as reader-friendly as possible, so that public health agencies across the country can use the same approach to calculate local threats from tobacco, obesity, and other killers.

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May 13, 2004 Los Angeles Times
David Reimer, 38; After Botched Surgery, He Was Raised as a Girl in Gender Experiment
By Elaine Woo, Times Staff Writer

David Reimer, the Canadian man raised as a girl for most of the first 14 years of his life in a highly touted medical experiment that seemed to resolve the debate over the cultural and biological determinants of gender, has died at 38. He committed suicide May 4 in his hometown of Winnipeg, Canada.

At 8 months of age, Reimer became the unwitting subject of "sex reassignment," a treatment method embraced by his parents after his penis was all but obliterated during a botched circumcision. The American doctor whose advice they sought recommended that their son be castrated, given hormone treatments and raised as a girl. The physician, Dr. John Money, supervised the case for several years and eventually wrote a paper declaring the success of the gender conversion.

Known as the "John/Joan" case, it was widely publicized and gave credence to arguments presented in the 1970s by feminists and others that humans are sexually neutral at birth and that sex roles are largely the product of social conditioning.

But, in fact, the gender conversion was far from successful. Money's experiment was a disaster for Reimer that created psychological scars he ultimately could not overcome.

Reimer's story was told in the 2000 book "As Nature Made Him," by journalist John Colapinto. Reimer said he cooperated with Colapinto in the hope that other children could be spared the miseries he experienced.

Reimer was born on Aug. 22, 1965, 12 minutes before his identical twin brother. His working-class parents named him Bruce and his brother Brian. Both babies were healthy and developed normally until they were seven months old, when they were discovered to have a condition called phimosis, a defect in the foreskin of the penis that makes urination difficult.

The Reimers were told that the problem was easily remedied with circumcision. During the procedure at the hospital, a doctor who did not usually perform such operations was assigned to the Reimer babies. She chose to use an electric cautery machine with a sharp cutting needle to sever the foreskin.

But something went terribly awry. Exactly where the error lay — in the machine, or in the user — was never determined. What quickly became clear was that baby Bruce had been irreparably maimed.

(The doctors decided not to try the operation on his brother Brian, whose phimosis later disappeared without treatment.)

The Reimers were distraught. Told that phallic reconstruction was a crude option that would never result in a fully functioning organ, they were without hope until one Sunday evening after the twins' first birthday when they happened to tune in to an interview with Money on a television talk show. He was describing his successes at Johns Hopkins University in changing the sex of babies born with incomplete or ambiguous genitalia.

He said that through surgeries and hormone treatments he could turn a child into whichever sex seemed most appropriate, and that such reassignments were resulting in happy, healthy children.

Money, a Harvard-educated native of New Zealand, had already established a reputation as one of the world's leading sex researchers, known for his brilliance and his arrogance. He was credited with coining the term "gender identity" to describe a person's innate sense of maleness or femaleness.

The Reimers went to see Money, who with unwavering confidence told them that raising Bruce as a girl was the best course, and that they should never say a word to the child about ever having been a boy.

About six weeks before his second birthday, Bruce became Brenda on an operating table at Johns Hopkins. After bringing the toddler home, the Reimers began dressing her like a girl and giving her dolls.

She was, on the surface, an appealing little girl, with round cheeks, curly locks and large, brown eyes. But Brenda rebelled at her imposed identity from the start. She tried to rip off the first dress that her mother sewed for her. When she saw her father shaving, she wanted a razor, too. She favored toy guns and trucks over sewing machines and Barbies. When she fought with her brother, it was clear that she was the stronger of the two. "I recognized Brenda as my sister," Brian was quoted as saying in the Colapinto book. "But she never, ever acted the part."

Money continued to perform annual checkups on Brenda, and despite the signs that Brenda was rejecting her feminized self, Money insisted that continuing on the path to womanhood was the proper course for her.

In 1972, when Brenda was 7, Money touted his success with her gender conversion in a speech to the American Assn. for the Advancement of Science in Washington, D.C., and in the book, "Man & Woman, Boy & Girl," released the same day. The scientists in attendance recognized the significance of the case as readily as Money had years earlier. Because Brenda had an identical male twin, they offered the perfect test of the theory that gender is learned, not inborn.

Money already was the darling of radical feminists such as Kate Millett, who in her bestselling "Sexual Politics" two years earlier had cited Money's writings from the 1950s as proof that "psychosexual personality is therefore postnatal and learned."

Now his "success" was written up in Time magazine, which, in reporting on his speech, wrote that Money's research provided "strong support for a major contention of women's liberationists: that conventional patterns of masculine and feminine behavior can be altered." In other words, nurture had trumped nature.

The Reimer case quickly was written into textbooks on pediatrics, psychiatry and sexuality as evidence that anatomy was not destiny, that sexual identity was far more malleable than anyone had thought possible. Money's claims provided powerful support for those seeking medical or social remedies for gender-based ills.

What went unreported until decades later, however, was that Money's experiment actually proved the opposite — the immutability of one's inborn sense of gender.

Money stopped commenting publicly on the case in 1980 and never acknowledged that the experiment was anything but a glowing success. Dr. Milton Diamond, a sexologist at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, had long been suspicious of Money's claims. He was finally able to locate Reimer through a Canadian psychiatrist who had seen Reimer as a patient.

In an article published in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine in 1997, Diamond and the psychiatrist, Dr. H. Keith Sigmundson, showed how Brenda had steadily rejected her reassignment from male to female. In early adolescence, she refused to continue receiving the estrogen treatments that had helped her grow breasts. She stopped seeing Money. Finally, at 14, she refused to continue living as a girl.

When she confronted her father, he broke down in tears and told her what had happened shortly after her birth. Instead of being angry, Brenda was relieved. "For the first time everything made sense," the article by Diamond and Sigmundson quoted her as saying, "and I understood who and what I was."

She decided to reclaim the identity she was born with by taking male hormone shots and undergoing a double mastectomy and operations to build a penis with skin grafts.

She changed her name to David, identifying with the Biblical David who fought Goliath. "It reminded me," David told Colapinto, "of courage."

David developed into a muscular, handsome young man. But the grueling surgeries spun him into periods of depression and twice caused him to attempt suicide. He spent months living alone in a cabin in the woods. At 22, he prayed to God for the first time in his life, begging for the chance to be a husband and father.

When he was 25, he married a woman and adopted her three children. Diamond reported that while the phallic reconstruction was only partially successful, David could have sexual intercourse and experience orgasm. He worked in a slaughterhouse and said he was happily adjusted to life as a man.

In interviews for Colapinto's book, however, he acknowledged a deep well of wrenching anger that would never go away.

"You can never escape the past," he told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer in 2000. "I had parts of my body cut away and thrown in a wastepaper basket. I've had my mind ripped away."

His life began to unravel with the suicide of his brother two years ago. Brian Reimer had been treated for schizophrenia and took his life by overdosing on drugs. David visited his brother's grave every day. He lost his job, separated from his wife and was deeply in debt after a failed investment.

He is survived by his wife, Jane; his parents, and his children.

Despite the hardships he experienced, he said he did not blame his parents for their decision to raise him as a girl. As he told Colapinto, "Mom and Dad wanted this to work so I'd be happy. That's every parent's dream for their child. But I couldn't be happy for my parents. I had to be happy for me. You can't be something that you're not. You have to be you."

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Page 109
May 13, 2004 Los Angeles Times
Gusher to a Few, Trickle to the Rest
Courted by oil firms and the U.S., the elite of impoverished Angola have extracted wealth from the boom, documents say.
By Ken Silverstein, Times Staff Writer

Just past the misnamed Beautiful Rose Farm, a shantytown without running water or sewers, is a lush, gated compound with spacious houses, manicured gardens and tennis courts that ExxonMobil built for its employees.

Besides the foreigners, the development also has benefited a few well-connected Angolans: A local businessman close to President Jose Eduardo dos Santos was hired by the oil company to construct the complex, and a former army chief of staff collects rent on the land, according to an oil industry consultant's report and a source familiar with the arrangement.

Picking them as partners won ExxonMobil "brownie points" with the ruling regime, the report said.

Courting Dos Santos and other leaders of oil-rich African countries has become increasingly important as Western oil companies and U.S. officials seek to feed growing demand and reduce dependence on the Middle East. But in the process, Washington may be repeating what critics say is a mistake it has made for decades in other corners of the world: cementing the power of a local elite at the expense of an impoverished and resentful majority — and ultimately, fomenting instability.

Oil companies have won favor with the Dos Santos regime by steering contracts to Angolan insiders and by giving millions of dollars to foundations controlled by the ruling family, internal oil company reports reviewed by The Times show.

The Bush administration has sought to strengthen ties to the Dos Santos regime despite allegations of widespread corruption. The two presidents met Wednesday in the Oval Office to discuss "issues of common interest." And the administration recently declared Angola's record on corruption and transparency sufficient to make it eligible for a trade program that eliminates duties on its oil and other exports.

Meanwhile, as much as $1 billion a year has disappeared from Angola's national treasury, according to reports by the International Monetary Fund and two watchdog groups. International Monetary Fund figures show that Angola could not account for 15% of government expenditures it reported from 1997 through 2002. European judicial authorities say they have traced tens of millions of dollars in Angolan government funds to private bank accounts in Luxembourg, the Cayman Islands and Switzerland.

Evaristo Jose, a spokesman at the Angolan Embassy in Washington, said his country was making reforms to improve its accounting of oil revenue. He said allegations of official corruption were untrue. A senior Bush administration official said Angolan authorities had "acknowledged that corruption is a problem and they are addressing it." He said the administration was not going easy on Angola's record on human rights and corruption because of its status as a major energy exporter.

Angola and other sub-Saharan African countries provided the United States with 15% of its oil imports last year, and that figure is expected to grow to 25% over the next decade.

Yet the lives of many people along Africa's Atlantic coast have only worsened: Jobs have not materialized, basic rights have eroded and corruption has spread.

"Global oil is a mixed picture, predominantly negative, and African oil is the most negative of all the stories," David Gordon, head of the CIA's Office of Transnational Issues, said at an energy conference last year in Washington.

A copy of a confidential report, written by an industry consultant in 2001 for Royal Dutch/Shell Group and obtained by The Times, provided an unusually frank assessment of oil's role in Angola:

A charitable foundation set up in the president's name uses the money it solicits from foreign businesses to "bolster the personality cult of President Dos Santos and to attempt to convince his compatriots that he cares about them."

"Angola's petroleum revenues, as they are currently used, are widely viewed as a curse," the report said. "Those ordinary Angolans who are aware of Angola's oil riches have grown to realize in recent years that this resource is managed for the immense profit of a very few, and the increasing misery of the many."

Poverty Despite the Oil
The story is much the same elsewhere in the region.

Nigeria has exported more than $200 billion worth of oil during the last 15 years, but 70% of its 130 million people live on less than $1 a day. Former Marine Gen. Carlton W. Fulford Jr., who helped oversee U.S. military operations in most of Africa until 2003, said in April that widespread poverty had left the country "ripe for turmoil."

Political instability there "could cause major disruption of the world's production of crude oil," he said at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative Washington think tank. "If Nigeria explodes, we will feel it."

American companies also have flocked to tiny Equatorial Guinea, investing $5 billion in a country where poverty is pervasive and the regime is notorious for torturing dissidents and suppressing civil liberties.

Industry lobbying won U.S. support for a controversial World Bank-backed pipeline in Chad, a country that has been racked by warfare for decades and that the World Economic Forum, a Geneva-based business organization, ranked as the most corrupt of 21 African countries it surveyed last year. ExxonMobil and ChevronTexaco are lead companies in the consortium that built and operates the pipeline, which opened last summer.

Most of Central and West Africa's oil is offshore, which can insulate oil companies from political turmoil. For example, oil was pumped without interruption during the 27-year Angolan civil war.

Dozens of former senior U.S. officials use their experience and connections to promote the oil industry's interests in these countries and advocate closer ties to the U.S.

Members of the U.S.-Angola Chamber of Commerce, which receives financial support from American oil companies, include five former State Department officials, two former U.S. ambassadors to the U.N., a former deputy U.S. trade representative, a former Defense Department official and a former U.S. ambassador to Angola. Their memberships are personal or through their company affiliations.

The chamber led the successful lobbying push to include Angola in the U.S. trade program. "I firmly believe in engagement with Angola," Executive Director Paul Hare told The Times. "Transparency and accountability are part of the dialogue. You can never say what the results will be, but the trend line is positive."

The Angolan government has paid more than $6 million to lobbyist Robert Cabelly, a former State Department and National Security Council official, according to his foreign agent disclosure filings with the Justice Department. Cabelly declined to comment on his work for Angola.

During his three-day stay in Washington, Dos Santos is to be honored at a reception at the Ritz-Carlton hotel co-hosted by Andrew Young, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations who has lobbied for Angola in the effort to strengthen ties to the U.S.

Eugenio Ngolo Manuvakola, an Angolan opposition leader, says the former officials play a significant role in shaping U.S.-Angolan ties.

"It's offensive that these old diplomats are now making money off their former positions," he said. "They want American companies to invest here, and to help that happen they try to say that everything here is fine. That has political consequences."

A Turnaround in Ties

There is little dispute that oil has fortified Angola's ties with the United States for the foreseeable future. At a construction site in Luanda's Miramar section, offering a sweeping view of the Atlantic Ocean, work is proceeding on a huge, expanded U.S. Embassy.

Yet until a decade ago, the United States and Angola were ideological enemies.

After gaining independence from Portugal in 1975, Angola declared itself a Marxist state and allied itself with the Soviet Union. Dos Santos, 61, took power four years later and has held it ever since. The CIA supported an insurgency by rebels known as UNITA until the early 1990s.

In mid-1993, after the collapse of the Soviet Union and Angola's embrace of capitalism, the Clinton administration recognized the government and cut military aid to UNITA. But the civil war ended only after rebel leader Jonas Savimbi was killed in combat in 2002.

The fighting left an estimated 1 million people dead. At the height of the conflict, 4 million people were driven from their homes. In some provinces, most of the infrastructure — from roads and bridges to houses and schools — was destroyed.

Dos Santos swapped the uniform he often wore for portraits during the socialist era for tailored suits. He and the ruling party dominate the parliament, other political institutions and the media.

Angola is sub-Saharan Africa's second-largest oil producer after Nigeria, with oil accounting for about 90% of its export earnings. ChevronTexaco produces about two-thirds of Angola's daily output of about 900,000 barrels, and approximately one-third of the total is sold to the United States. The country's output is expected to double by 2008.

Despite billions of dollars from oil revenue, the country ranks 164th among 175 nations on a United Nations index that measures citizens' quality of life.

"Most of the country's wealth remained concentrated in a few hands," the State Department said in a report this year.

The ExxonMobil housing estate is one example of how the benefits of oil development have enriched Angola's wealthiest citizens. ExxonMobil declined to comment on who built the compound. The company said the property was "leased from a private corporation in compliance with all applicable laws" but would not identify the corporation's owner.

Oil companies routinely employ politically connected Angolans for important posts. BP hired as a top executive Jose Goncalves Martins Patricio, a former Dos Santos press secretary. When asked about hiring the former official, BP — formerly British Petroleum — responded with a copy of a press release listing his credentials for the job.

Henry Thompson, a London-based energy consultant who once worked for BP in Angola, says that when multinational companies need a local security firm to guard their facilities or handle construction work, Sonangol, the state-owned oil company, directs them to one owned by a government official or favored businessman. Foreign executives even receive recommendations on whom to rent their villas from.

"The list is endless, but no one wants to sit down and demand transparency from the [government]," Thompson said. "The money you're paying out is very small compared to the benefits you receive. It's not worth making noise about."

Angola's elite lives in walled estates and weekend beach houses. Its members employ private guards, have backyard generators and water tanks to deal with frequent utility breakdowns, and dine at clubs such as Miami Beach, which is owned by the president's daughter, Isabel. A mixed grill of meats there costs about $40 — almost a month's pay for workers earning the minimum wage.

"We have leaders who are foreigners in their own country," said Rafael Marques, a journalist who once was jailed for calling Dos Santos a dictator.

Eighty percent of Angola's 10.8 million people live in poverty. At Beautiful Rose Farm, about 120 families live in tin-and-brick shacks between ExxonMobil's compound and Dos Santos' sprawling presidential retreat. Aside from one woman who works as a maid for ExxonMobil expatriates, residents say, none of the squatters has benefited from Angola's oil wealth.

A muscled man who gave his first name as Mateus said he fought as a government soldier during the civil war and now makes about $50 a month working six days a week at a construction job. He recounted how his 4-year-old son had died recently, probably of malaria, which is common here. All he knew was that the boy fell ill and was dead within 24 hours.

"The oil companies haven't helped us," he said. "To get a good job with them, you need a godfather."

Civil War Gets the Blame
The Dos Santos regime puts the blame for Angola's poverty on the civil war.

"The government can't rebuild all at once everything that was destroyed during so many years of war," Prime Minister Fernando da Piedade Dias dos Santos, who is not related to the president, told the local press last year.

But others say Angola's development has been crippled by the disappearance of vast sums of money.

About $4.2 billion — more than the $3.6 billion the government spent on social programs — disappeared from the Angolan treasury from 1997 through 2002, according to a report this year from Human Rights Watch, a New York-based nonprofit.

The figures were taken from two International Monetary Fund reports on Angola, including one that the Dos Santos government barred the IMF from releasing, but which was obtained by Human Rights Watch. The fund is a quasi-governmental organization, made up of 184 member countries, that lends money to developing nations and monitors their finances.

In the leaked report, the IMF said Angola filtered its oil revenue through "a web of opaque offshore accounts." There has been a series of allegations that Dos Santos — who is paid the equivalent of about $2,000 a month as president — and other Angolan officials have stashed government funds and bribes in foreign banks.

• A Swiss judge in 2002 froze millions of dollars in bank accounts that allegedly were used by a foreign businessman to pay off Angolan officials. The Dos Santos government denied the allegation and filed a formal protest, but most of the accounts remained blocked.

Related investigations by Swiss and French authorities uncovered two private accounts held by Dos Santos in Luxembourg and the Cayman Islands, according to banking and court documents shown to The Times by London-based Global Witness, which campaigns for greater transparency in the oil industry. Global Witness released a report two months ago that alleged that Dos Santos' offshore accounts held tens of millions of dollars, including funds diverted from the state treasury.

• The U.S. Embassy in Luanda in 2002 looked into an attempt by Aguinaldo Jaime, then head of Angola's central bank and now deputy prime minister, to transfer $50 million in Angolan oil revenue from a Citibank account in London to a private account at a Bank of America branch in San Diego, The Times has learned from three people familiar with the transaction. The Bank of America account had been opened several weeks earlier by a West African businessman who knew Jaime, the sources said.

The transfer order alarmed the two banks and the U.S. Embassy in Angola. "We had questions about the origin and nature of the money, and the Angolan government could not provide an explanation," recalled Shawn Sullivan, who was the embassy's political and economic counselor at the time. To prevent seizure of the $50 million, Jaime withdrew the transfer order, Sullivan said.

Citibank, Bank of America and Jaime declined to comment on the transfer order.

• French oil giant Elf (now part of TotalFinaElf) pumped money into offshore accounts held by African officials, prosecutors charged in a trial last year in Paris. A former top official at Elf told investigators he had moved millions of dollars in payoffs to "ruling families" in Angola and two other African countries where the company operated. The trial concluded with the conviction on corruption charges and jailing of three former senior Elf executives, including Andre Tarallo, who had been known as "Mr. Africa" because of his role in overseeing the company's operations on the continent.

The Dos Santos government denied the allegations, saying the charges were "dubious and irresponsible" and part of "defamation campaigns" against Angola's president.

Some Angolan officials acknowledge that corruption has been a problem. Manuel Neto da Costa, director of studies at Angola's Ministry of Finance, points to the creation of an Accounting Court to monitor government expenditures and prosecute corrupt officials.

"We understand that more needs to be done," he said in an interview last year.

But Sullivan, the former U.S. diplomat, said Angola has no genuine interest in greater transparency. "They have created a system that is based on corruption and patronage, and they are unwilling to change it because it is the source of their wealth."

A Foundation's Backers
Oil companies in Angola say they create thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in revenue for the country.

"If well managed, [oil] revenues can make a huge contribution to economic and social development," said Simon Buerk, a Shell spokesman. "If poorly managed, they can exacerbate poverty, corruption and poor governance."

The companies also say they spend heavily on social endeavors, from a ChevronTexaco initiative to fight AIDS to an ExxonMobil-backed plan to combat malaria. Yet they privately acknowledge that some of their donations are aimed more at winning support from high-ranking authorities than at helping average people.

Oil companies are among the biggest backers of FESA, the Portuguese acronym for the Eduardo dos Santos Foundation, whose stated aim is to fight poverty in Angola.

FESA's glossy annual reports include numerous photographs of Dos Santos, as well as stories about schools and health clinics the organization has built or refurbished, and about food and medicine it has distributed to the poor. One Christmas, FESA arranged to have a Santa Claus land by helicopter on a soccer field and hand out toys to hundreds of kids.

"The foundation is doing a great job of supplementing the state's efforts, because the state lacks funds," said Jaime, the deputy prime minister.

FESA also nominated Dos Santos for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997.

A copy of a 2001 BP memorandum obtained by The Times said that FESA was "increasingly seen as a political apparatus that supports the presidential agenda." It said that the company's donations to the foundation "could be seen as 'contributions to political parties,' thus contravening our ethics." Spokesman Toby Odone said the company contributed $1.2 million, mostly given by Amoco before its merger with BP six years ago.

Odone said the company adopted a formal policy of stopping all corporate political donations in April 2002, and made no contributions to FESA beyond that point. "Therefore we were not breaking our ethical policies" when the company previously donated to the foundation, he said.

The BP memo offered similar warnings about contributions to the Lwini Foundation, which is headed by Dos Santos' wife and says its goal is to help Angolans injured by land mines during the civil war.

The foundation rejected requests for copies of an annual report or accounting of expenditures. Its website lists only a few activities, including an event to honor Princess Diana, who had visited Angola in 1997.

Odone said Amoco had contributed to Lwini but BP has halted donations. ChevronTexaco, which is a contributor to Lwini, said in a statement that the foundation had an auditing committee "that provides an annual opinion of [its] accounts."

FESA and Lwini did not respond to interview requests.

In 1998, Royal Dutch/Shell Group donated $400,000 to another organization, the Kissama Foundation, which was set up by senior generals to rehabilitate a national park near Luanda.

The confidential report from the company's outside consulting firm said that Kissama had been "utterly mismanaged" and that "Shell's donation now looks like little more than an ill-advised attempt to curry favor with some well-placed generals."

Buerk, the Shell spokesman, said the company disagreed with the consultant's assessment. "The donation was made with the best of intentions," he said. FESA officials provided several past annual reports and financial summaries. The 2001 summary of fundraising and expenditures, the latest made available, said that $9.6 million had been raised for the year, but it itemized only $417,000 in contributions .

In addition to oil industry donors, an Israeli arms broker, a South African diamond firm and a Brazilian construction company contributed to the foundation, according to its annual reports.

Thompson, the energy industry consultant, said Angolan officials, usually from Sonangol, the state-owned oil company, were designated to solicit contributions to FESA from oil companies and other foreign firms.

A typical contribution is $100,000, he said.

"If you say no, they will pester you," Thompson said. "They can make life pretty difficult, so you look at the pros and the cons, and you decide what to do."

ChevronTexaco said that the company and its partners in Block 0, a huge Angolan oil field, contribute a combined $50,000 annually to FESA. "This funding goes towards projects supporting education, sports, maintaining national heritage and providing medical aid," ChevronTexaco said in a statement.

A former Mobil official in Angola said the company had made several small contributions before its merger with Exxon in 1998. ExxonMobil said it could find no record of payments to FESA.

Marques, the journalist, offered a Times reporter a tour of some FESA projects, including the renovation of a public garden near the foundation's headquarters.

This is FESA's second restoration of the garden. After the first renovation, completed in 2002, residents from a nearby slum without running water used the fountain as a water source, and kids bathed in it. Someone finally walked off with the water pipes.

Three years ago, FESA renovated the Imperial Santana School in the poor Rangel district. The pink-and-cream building has colorful painted figures of Donald Duck, Pluto and other Disney characters on the walls, as well as a sign: "FESA, with us now and in the future."

But Angola's schools are badly funded. Joao Castro Lemos, an Imperial Santana administrator, said many of his students didn't have basic supplies such as pencils.

A clinic FESA built for residents of the dirt-poor Pentrangol neighborhood of Luanda had similar problems. The pharmacy's shelves held only a few medications, mostly antibiotics. There was an X-ray room, but FESA hadn't supplied an X-ray machine. The only ambulance, pictured in FESA's 2002 annual report, broke down long ago.

In a treatment room for malnourished kids, about 30 women and children sat on mattresses on the floor while a nurse made a thin meat broth. The storeroom was empty save for a few sacks of cornmeal, four onions, powdered milk and a powder to make soybean porridge. Much of the clinic's paltry supplies were provided by European charities and the Japanese government.

Leader's Birthday Party
Every August, FESA sponsors a week of festivities in honor of Dos Santos' birthday, from concerts to soccer tournaments. Last year, state TV, radio and newspapers featured extensive coverage of "FESA Week" events. TV announcers read numerous tributes to Dos Santos from Angolan political figures. One sports radio station even featured a lengthy special report on the president's soccer prowess as a teenager.

A group of the president's business allies flew in Spanish crooner Julio Iglesias for two concerts. One was a private affair; the other was a "Social Gala for All of Society," but the $200 admission price limited the audience to Angola's elite.

The high point of the week is a party on Aug. 28, Dos Santos' birthday. On that morning last year, hundreds of people converged on a soccer stadium, many of them bused or trucked in by FESA. They wore foundation T-shirts and waved little flags with its insignia.

"Let's make a celebration for our president," an emcee shouted. Children representing Angola's provinces sang and danced. A contingent from Cabinda, where ChevronTexaco's operations are based, had their hair arranged in long, spiky cornrows and wore white fringed skirts. Another group representing peasants from northern Uige province carried hoes on their shoulders.

After the performance, Dos Santos cut a huge, three-tier cake as the audience sang "Happy Birthday."

In parting remarks to state TV, he said: "I'm happy because it's my birthday. But I'd be happier if our country was different, if there weren't children on the street, if there was less misery."

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Page 110
May 13, 2004 - Audubon Magazine May 2004 Book Reviews
Political chaos and war will go hand in hand with global warming unless the world takes aggressive steps to end our dependence on fossil fuels.
By Keith Kloor

The End of Oil: On the Edge of a Perilous New World
By Paul Roberts Houghton Mifflin, 400 pages, $26

In the next decade, catastrophic storms, droughts, and heat waves could trigger widespread political unrest and war across the planet, according to a recent Pentagon report on global warming. Its 22 pages dwell on international conflicts over energy and food shortages as nations cope with extreme environmental disasters.

When news of the report became public a few months ago, it received scant media attention, owing perhaps to the disclaimer that it was merely "imagining the unthinkable." Nonetheless, its authors did conclude that the "potentially dire consequences" of sudden climatic changes were "plausible" and thus "would challenge United States national security in ways that should be considered immediately."

If you want to know why Pentagon planners are preparing for a global meltdown, read Paul Roberts's The End of Oil. His lively, penetrating investigation of the world's energy economy will leave you feeling as if someone splashed cold water on your face. "While climatologists and environmentalists fret about the quality of the energy we produce, a great many other experts worry far more about the quantity of energy we can make and, more specifically, whether we can produce enough energy of any kind or quality to satisfy the world's present and future needs," he writes at the outset. Now go back to that Pentagon report for a minute and consider this little tidbit, which is no idle speculation: "According to the International Energy Agency, global demand for oil will grow by 66 percent in the next 30 years, but it's unclear where the supply will come from." Translation: The planet's oil wells are running dry.

And that's not even the half of it. "By 2020, the world will need more than twice as much energy as it uses today," Roberts says. Besides the increased need for oil, the use of natural gas "will climb by 75 percent, coal use by nearly 40 percent." The demand will be especially acute, he says, in emerging economies, like those in China and India, "whose leaders see voracious energy consumption as the key to industrial success."

Can you blame them? Especially when, as Roberts points out, more than 2.5 billion people—nearly half the world's population—"lack access to electricity or fossil fuels and thus have virtually no chance to move from a brutally poor, pre-industrial existence to the kind of modern, energy-intensive life many of us in the West take for granted." So if Americans can have gas-guzzling SUVs and a TV in every room, surely the less fortunate are entitled to their share of the energy pie.

The End of Oil covers everything from the geopolitics of energy and the world's "fatally flawed" dependence on fossil fuels to the promises and pitfalls of alternative energy sources, like wind and solar power. Roberts, a veteran magazine journalist who specializes in the confluence of business, environmental, and technological issues, is a deft synthesizer. He impressively lays out the various scenarios that will likely ensue in the next few decades when, as many experts predict, oil becomes a high- priced, unreliable commodity—because it is fast dissipating and because the largest reserves are concentrated in countries with unstable governments.

The trouble is that few U.S. policy makers seem to be preparing for this situation. Roberts finds that the very thought of eventual oil depletion isn't even acknowledged in government circles, much less considered. Why? Joe Romm, a former U.S. assistant energy secretary, offers this: "If the U.S. government even brought up the possibility that global oil production might peak in, say, 2020, not only would that have an enormous and very negative impact on the markets, but it would essentially force the United States to abruptly change its energy policy to one that emphasized energy efficiency and alternative energy."

That prospect seems unlikely at the moment, given President Bush's we-can-drill-our-way-to-energy-security domestic policy. Yet a great strength of The End of Oil is Roberts's evenhanded probing of all sides of the energy equation. "Of the 750 million cars, trucks, and other vehicles now roaming the planet (and the number grows by 50 million a year), some 90 percent use oil," Roberts reports, "not because of some vast oil conspiracy" but because by every conventional measure, "oil fuels generate more power, more efficiency, more bang for the energy dollar" than any other fuel technology. Then there is the massive infrastructure of the world's energy economy to consider, with its pipelines, tankers, refineries, power plants, and transmission lines—estimated to be worth $10 trillion. "No company or country," he says, "can afford to walk away" from that asset.

True, there are vested political and business interests that want to keep us hooked on fossil fuels. Since 1990 the oil and gas industry has funneled more than $159 million to American politicians (73 percent of it to Republicans). The oil-rich countries, for their part, have an obvious incentive in keeping the spigots flowing, especially to the United States, which is still the biggest and fastest growing oil market in the world. Today, Roberts says, "Saudi Arabia is so desperate to maintain its share of the U.S. market that it sells oil to Americans at a discount."

I guess if you own a Hummer, that's a good thing. But in the long term, is there any hope of us kicking the oil habit before the planet succumbs to an overdose of carbon dioxide? Alas, after surveying the promising crop of renewable energies, Roberts concludes there will be no quick "green" fix. Even the biggest boosters of much-hyped hydrogen fuel cells concede the technology is decades away from practical use. And though solar and wind power—especially wind—are becoming increasingly competitive with fossil fuels, by themselves they are not expected to meet the future demand for electricity.

To this end, Roberts says that "a good many energy experts believe that our best bet isn't displacing hydrocarbons" but figuring out how to use them more cleanly. Indeed, there is much research well under way to help "decarbonize" natural gas and coal, which would prevent greenhouse gases from being released into the atmosphere. This breakthrough would be most welcome for coal, a highly polluting but preferred source of energy in the developing world, because it is abundant, cheap, and easy to access.

A more immediate, largely forgotten measure is one that has already proven highly successful: energy conservation. Remember the 1970s, when Middle Eastern wars and revolutions triggered sky-high oil prices, sending the U.S. economy into a tailspin? In response, the government imposed higher efficiency standards for air conditioners, refrigerators, cars, and windows. Energy use took a big drop. By the 1990s, though, cheap oil had made its triumphant return, reducing the incentives for energy conservation. Fuel efficiency standards have declined since the 1980s—today the average car gets 20.8 miles to the gallon—and all attempts to raise them have been repeatedly beaten back in Congress. Efforts to upgrade the efficiency of everything from home furnaces to power plants have also stalled. But by making additional improvements to cars and buildings, Roberts says, "America could save the energy equivalent of 12 million barrels of oil a day"—more than half of the country's total demand.

In the end, Roberts himself settles on a middle path to energy stability. He sees natural gas serving as a "bridge fuel" between the current coal- and oil-based economy and the newer, alternative energy systems of the future. Natural gas is cleaner- burning, more efficient and, unlike oil, less prone to volatile price swings. At the same time, Roberts is in favor of a carbon penalty, or carbon tax, which would "internalize" the costs of pollution, climate change, and respiratory illnesses as part of the price of energy. This, in turn, would presumably spur the development of "decarbonizing" technology.

Whether such a tax, much less a movement away from fossil fuels, could happen is anyone's guess, given the economic and political hurdles. Lawmakers might be prodded into action, Roberts says, if consumers showed more interest in where their energy came from and how much they used. But some of the experts he spoke with believe that nothing short of environmental calamity from global warming, or deep recession from 1970s-like oil-price spikes, will prompt necessary energy reform. Maybe it would be smart to take a hint from the Pentagon and start considering what such a world would look like.

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May 2004 Audubon Magazine
SEPARATING Church and Park

CREATIONIST RIVER GUIDE TOM VAIL DOESN'T believe that Arizona's Grand Canyon was carved out of the Colorado River over millions of years -the scientific view of nearly all geologists. To make his case that the canyon was instead created by a biblical flood a few thousand years ago, Vail recently teamed up with the Institute for Creation Research to publish Grand Canyon: A Different View, which since last August has been sold at bookstores in the national park. But many geologists are outraged, and one environmental watchdog group, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), says the creationist text's acceptance by the National Park Service is further evidence that under the Bush administration, America's ecological and recreational crown jewels are turning into "faith-based parks."
;   Last summer three plaques bearing Christian psalms were removed from the Grand Canyon grounds after the American Civil Liberties Union made an inquiry about them. The park itself had received several letters of complaint, and the superintendent had the plaques taken out. But they were reinstalled a few weeks later on orders from Donald Murphy, deputy director of the National Park Service.
;   Creationists argue that in the Southwest -and at the Grand Canyon in particular- park guides commonly enliven their tours with bits of American Indian folklore, including the Havasupai Indians' creation myth, which says the Grand Canyon was formed by the receding waters of a great flood. Also, Native Americans attach religious meaning to many of the thousands of terrestrial and aquatic species in the Grand Canyon, including the recently reintroduced California condor, known to many western tribes as the rainmaking thunderbird. But Native American folklore, according to PEER, is in a different league than biblical interpretation.

Vail's creationist version of the Grand Canyon is dressed in scientific authority, directly challenging the integrity of the park service, says Chas Offut, the communications director of PEER. "[Native American] myths and folklore add to the wonder of the park without drawing definitive conclusions for the visitor," he adds.
;   "There is a geologic and a biblical interpretation [of the park] -that's fine," says Christopher Keane, a geologist and spokes- person for the American Geological Institute. But "there are no books for sale in the park written by scientists trying to disprove the existence of God."
-Dan Porras

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May 10, 2004 Los Angeles Times
A River Losing Its Soul
Along the banks of the Colorado, the Grand Canyon's habitat is still vanishing despite years spent trying to minimize the effects of damming.
By Bettina Boxall, Times Staff Writer

GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK, Ariz. — Four decades after one of the West's last big dams blocked the free flow of water into the wild recesses of the Grand Canyon, the Colorado still manages to roar through here like the granddaddy of Western rivers. But it has become the Hollywood version — strikingly beautiful and in vital ways, fake.

With every passing year, the Grand Canyon's stretch of the Colorado River bears less and less resemblance to its former self. The fine, white sand beaches on which thousands of weary boaters unfurl their sleeping bags every summer are disappearing.

So are native fish species that have been in the canyon for millions of years. Millennium-old Native American burial sites are washing away with the eroding sands.

Without the scouring of regular flooding, the feathery green tamarisk bush imported to the United States in the 1800s is overrunning the river banks, and boulders washed out of side canyons are piling up in the main channel. The river's mythic rapids are growing more difficult to navigate and some may become impassable.

The 1963 completion of Glen Canyon Dam just upstream from the park is best known in environmental circles for drowning stunning canyon lands under the waters of Lake Powell. But its effects have also been traumatic in the downstream river corridor of the Grand Canyon, through the heart of the park.

A warm, muddy, violently unpredictable river that shaped the canyon's ecosystem for millions of years turned cold, clear, steady and aquamarine. It may match the romantic notion of a river, but it is utterly unnatural in this sunbaked cleft in the Colorado Plateau.

The damage has long been recognized. Congress in 1992 passed the Grand Canyon Protection Act, directing the Interior Department to devise ways of making the dam's water releases for generating hydroelectric power less harmful to the canyon environment.

But it is increasingly apparent that the modified flows, adopted eight years ago, haven't worked. The failure has deepened the pessimism of some experts that, short of taking down the dam, humans may not be able to offset the harm done by its construction.

"The Grand Canyon river corridor is getting nuked," said David Haskell, a retired National Park Service career officer who directed the Grand Canyon's science center from 1994 to 1999. "It's in the final stages of having the natural ecosystem completely destroyed and replaced with a man-made one because of the presence of the dam."

That is not exactly the way federal scientists put it in their briefings to a group of some two dozen water managers, Interior Department officials and journalists who recently spent a week rafting down the river, discussing the drought and federal water policy with Assistant Interior Secretary Bennett Raley.

But the canyon told the tale.

"The beaches continue to erode. The humpback chub [a native fish] continues to decline," said Jeffrey Cross, the current director of the park's science center. "Tamarisk has not only invaded the main stem but has moved up many of the tributaries of the canyon. These are all changes that have happened and have continued to happen."

There were 10,000 humpbacks in canyon reaches in 1992. Now there are 2,200. Of the eight native fish species found in the canyon before the dam, four are now gone.

In the early 1970s, there were about 180 sand beaches roomy enough to allow rafters to pitch a tent. Half that number are left, Cross said. The rest have washed away or are so overrun by the alien, salt-exuding tamarisk bush that camping is impossible.

Lars Niemi, a 42-year-old boatman who has been on the river since he was a teenager, has watched the beaches dwindle. "We just used to be able to throw down in a lot of places that aren't there anymore," he said, his hand on the rudder of one of the Raley group's two big pontoon boats.

It was the third trip through the canyon for Raley, the Bush administration's point man on water policy. A Colorado attorney and property rights advocate who has no qualms about dams, Raley is nonetheless drawn back here, not just by the rock-walled grandeur, but by the river's imprint on the Western psyche.

"I don't know how you can come down here and not be humbled," said Raley, who sees political life as a tug of war between idealism and compromise — one that is reflected on the river. "There's virtually nothing that goes on here that doesn't involve trade-offs or balances."

The rafting party glided by pale red and beige canyon walls that opened onto majestic vistas of mesa and then closed into dark gorges chiseled into a million different faces. The water arched in polished blue-green curls, looking more like the Caribbean than a river named Colorado — "colored red" in Spanish — after the ruddy sediment washed into it along its 1,400-mile length.

Geologically, the river functions as a huge watery conveyor belt carrying ancient, eroded bits of the Colorado Plateau to the Gulf of California. Before the Glen Canyon dam, at least 60 million tons of sand and silt tumbled and slid through the Grand Canyon every year, swept along by annual floods four times greater than today's high flows. When the dam went up, it stopped not only the floods, but the sand, which is piling up at the bottom of Lake Powell, the reservoir behind the dam.

Now the canyon's only sand comes from two tributaries below the dam, the Paria and Little Colorado rivers, which contribute less than 10% of the river's historic volume of sediment.

Without sand, the Grand Canyon river system is like a body without nourishment. Fine sands and silts are loaded with nutrients for aquatic life that become food for insects that, in turn, become food for fish and birds. The sediment builds spawning beds for fish and sand bars where plants can grow and river rafters can sleep.

"At all sorts of levels the sand is the foundation of the system," said Ted Melis, a U.S. Geological Survey scientist with the Grand Canyon Monitoring and Research Center who has studied the river for years.

The banks are actually more verdant than they used to be because there are no longer any major floods to wash out vegetation. But most of the growth is tamarisk, which is shunned by the canyon's desert bighorn sheep and displaces native willow and cottonwood that offer more diverse bird habitat.

With less sand in the canyon, long-buried Indian sites have become exposed, as have the chub, which depended on the murky cover of muddy water to hide from predators.

The endangered fish is a snout-nosed survivor of the canyon's harsh extremes. Its hump helped it navigate the river torrents. It withstood the leaps in river temperature from freezing in winter to 80 degrees in the summer and spawned as the water warmed.

It can't stand the clear, cold water now released from the depths of Lake Powell at a year-round 46 to 48 degrees. The only adequately sized spawning population of chub left is in the Little Colorado, which is warmer, and often murkier, than the main stem. But as soon as the young fish swim into the big Colorado, they are stunned by its frigid temperature and became sitting targets for nonnative trout, which have thrived in the chill.

"We get [reproduction] here but we never see them again," Arizona Game and Fish research biologist Bill Persons said as he logged a silvery young chub caught in a monitoring net on the Little Colorado.

In 1996, the Interior Department conducted an ambitious flooding experiment that officials hoped would reverse some of the declines by reestablishing sand bars and washing away nonnative vegetation. They opened Glen Canyon Dam's floodgates, letting out enough water to raise the Colorado by as much as 13 feet.

At first they declared success. But within a couple of years, the new beaches were gone. Scientists learned that the river didn't work the way they thought it did. It wasn't a bathtub in which sand would settle, to be later lifted to the banks with higher flows. It was a pipeline, constantly pushing sand through unless flows were kept low.

The results of the big flood experiment led researchers to question the basic premises of the flow regimens adopted under the Grand Canyon Protection Act. Traditionally, operators had cranked dam releases up and down every day to respond to the rise and fall of energy demand, causing the river to advance and retreat along its banks as if it had tides. The new rules restricted those fluctuations on the theory that more stable flows would arrest beach erosion and help the native fish.

"It turned out we were wrong. The larger fluctuating flows were probably better, at least for the fish," said Dennis Fenn, director of the Southwest Biological Science Center, of which the Grand Canyon monitoring center is an arm.

Officials also are planning another, shorter flood to rebuild beaches with sediment dumped into the Colorado from the Paria after monsoonal rains. But the drought has thwarted that effort.

The ongoing decline of the river ecosystem has sparked criticism. "The environmental community is looking at this as somewhat of a failed process," said Jennifer Pitt, a senior resource analyst with Environmental Defense who was on the river trip. "There's so much foot-dragging it's hard to move forward."

A linchpin of the restoration program is adaptive management, an approach that is supposed to give officials the freedom to try something different if their initial game plan doesn't work.

But there are so many competing interests on the program's advisory committee — power producers, environmentalists and state water managers, to name a few — that Fenn says it's not easy to adapt.

"I think too many people are saying, 'I don't want anything to happen because I don't want to lose what I got,' " he said. "They're all well-meaning and want to do the right thing, but they have their interests."

Another obstacle is the complicated body of law that governs use of the Colorado River and the Glen Canyon Dam. Under 1968 legislation, for instance, dam spills above the amount needed to generate power are legal only if done for safety reasons. Environmentalists argue the 1992 protection act changed that, allowing for spills for ecological purposes, but power producers disagree. Ultimately the dispute will probably have to be settled in court.

Raley concedes the program is "struggling a bit now." But he contends the experiments hold promise. "I think we're making material progress, whether it's sediment, fish or the cultural resources," he said. "It's easy to say you haven't fixed this."

Raley grew up in a ranching family and rafted the river in cowboy hat and jeans waxed to keep out water. He said he was frightened by water and the Grand Canyon's churning rapids. But, riding in a red rubber kayak, he insisted on shooting some of them, including "Hermit," one of the bigger drops on the river.

Halfway through, he flipped. Clinging to the overturned kayak, he was carried by the churning white water to a calm stretch, where he climbed, somewhat shaken, back on a raft. He later scribbled the name "Hermit" on the back of his lifejacket, a souvenir of his dunking.

There are those who believe that as long as Glen Canyon Dam is in operation, efforts to restore the river through the Grand Canyon are doomed to failure. The only solution, they argue, is to decommission the dam.

"There really isn't any hope," said Haskell, who has become active in environmental causes since leaving the Park Service. "They can continue to tinker and try to slow the demise," but the task, he said, is as futile as trying to "raise rhinos and elephants in the Arctic."

The dam provides hydropower that supplies electricity to the rural West, flood control and nearly half the water storage space on the Colorado. "These are the things you'd give up" if the dam was decommissioned, Fenn said.

If the dam is an immovable object, what remains are little fixes. Under one scheme officials are considering, temperature control devices would be installed in the dam to draw water flows from the warmer top layers of the lake. Another idea is to scoop sediment from Lake Powell and pipe it around the dam into the river.

"We're not a drain-the-reservoir group," said Nikolai Ramsey, president of the Grand Canyon Trust, an environmental group based in nearby Flagstaff that has a seat on the adaptive management committee. "We think there are plenty of management alternatives to be tried."

But, if anything, the unsuccessful 1996 experimental flood taught caution. Raising the water temperature to make the chub more comfortable would make the river more hospitable to some of the chub's warm-water predators. Piping in sediment trapped behind the dam would be expensive and could stir up contaminants in the lake bottom and funnel them into the canyon.

"Playing God is a lot harder than it looks," Raley said. "I'm not aware of a bold move we could jump to on this canyon that would be responsible.

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Some have already read a listserve member's comments which certainly added 'a touch of questionable reasonableness' to the 'abuses' in Iraq. Below, and not inconsistent that, is another (very short) 'perhaps higher and even more proper' view.

May 9, 2004 Los Angeles Times
A Climate That Nurtures Torture
By Rosa Ehrenreich Brooks, Rosa Ehrenreich Brooks is an associate professor of law at the University of Virginia and a former senior advisor at the State Department's Human Rights Bureau.

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Donald H. Rumsfeld announced Friday the appointment of a special commission to investigate the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by U.S. military personnel. But if the Defense secretary is casting about for someone to blame, he needn't look far. What happened was the predictable result of the Bush administration's "anything goes" approach to national security.

Since Sept. 11, high-level administration spokespeople — including the president — have repeatedly asserted that the executive branch of the U.S. government is free to ignore both the laws of war and the U.S. Constitution, and that executive branch actions are essentially unreviewable by the courts.

It began shortly after Sept. 11, with President Bush's breezy announcement that he wanted Osama bin Laden "dead or alive — either way. It doesn't matter to me." The administration also offered a multimillion-dollar reward for Bin Laden, although such statements and bounties have traditionally been viewed as contrary to the laws of war and U.S. military regulations. Soon after, Bush signed a secret intelligence order permitting the CIA to expand covert actions, which, as one senior U.S. intelligence official put it, gave the agency "the green light to do whatever is necessary. Lethal operations that were unthinkable pre-Sept. 11 are now underway."

In his 2003 State of the Union address, Bush continued to imply that legal niceties were of little importance in the war on terror, commenting that while some Al Qaeda members had been arrested, others had "met a different fate." What kind of fate? "Let's put it this way," he said: "They are no longer a problem to the United States."

Vice President Dick Cheney, Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft and Rumsfeld wasted no time establishing their own tough-guy credentials after 9/11. Rumsfeld insisted that military detainees in Afghanistan "do not have any rights" under the Geneva Convention. At home, Ashcroft asserted that foreign terrorist suspects "do not deserve the protections of the American Constitution." Cheney stuck to the same script, insisting that terrorism suspects "don't deserve" judicial "guarantees and safeguards." Never mind the fact that due-process protections are designed not to give the guilty what they "deserve" but to ensure that the innocent, who may be wrongly accused, get the rights that they deserve.

The Bush administration has been similarly cavalier about the use of torture-like practices against detainees. In 2002, a series of media stories reported that U.S. detainees in Afghanistan were hooded, deprived of food, water, sleep and pain medications, forced to remain in agonizing positions for hours, kept naked, and beaten. The truth of these allegations was tacitly acknowledged by numerous senior national security officials (none willing to be named). As one official said, "If you don't violate someone's human rights some of the time, you probably aren't doing your job. I don't think we want to be promoting a view of zero tolerance on this."

No high-level administration official either denied the reports or publicly promised to investigate. Indeed, their response consisted of little more than winks and nods: As J. Cofer Black, then head of the CIA's

Counterterrorist Center, told the House and Senate intelligence committees, "all you need to know [is this]: There was a before 9/11, and there was an after 9/11. After 9/11, the gloves come off."

Over the last year, prisoners released from Guantanamo Bay have alleged they too were subjected to brutal and humiliating detention conditions and interrogations. Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, the former Guantanamo commander recently sent to oversee Iraqi detention facilities, wrote in a report last fall (based apparently on his Guantanamo experiences) that military guards in Iraq should be "enablers for interrogations," actively "engaged in setting the conditions for successful exploitation of the internees." When pressed on how conditions at Abu Ghraib prison would be reformed to prevent further abuses, Miller told reporters, "Trust us. We are doing this right."

"Trust us" has been the sole assurance the Bush administration has offered in the face of concerns about possible abuses. In its response to court cases brought on behalf of detainees at Guantanamo, the administration has insisted that executive branch actions at Guantanamo cannot be reviewed by any U.S. court. When judges on the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals asked Justice Department lawyers whether the administration position would be the same "even if the claims were that it was engaging in acts of torture or that it was summarily executing the [Guantanamo] detainees," the administration's lawyers said yes.

Similarly, in recent U.S. Supreme Court arguments involving two U.S. citizens being held by the U.S. military as alleged "enemy combatants," the administration insisted that it had the right to designate any citizen an enemy combatant on the basis of secret and unchallengeable evidence and to hold such a person as long as it wanted, without charge or any right to counsel, and with no mechanism for the detainee to challenge detention conditions. (The administration claimed that allowing access to counsel would undermine the "trust and dependency that is essential to effective interrogation.")

When asked directly by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg whether the administration would acknowledge any judicial check to prevent the use of torture against detainees, Deputy Solicitor Gen. Paul Clement ducked the question. He disparaged "judicial micromanagement" and informed the court that "you have to trust the executive."

But as the recent revelations made clear, "trust" in executive benevolence and good judgment is no safeguard against abuses.

Only when graphic photos of prisoner abuse sparked a worldwide scandal did the Bush administration explicitly condemn brutality and humiliation as tactics to be used against prisoners. Now, as the public outcry against the Abu Ghraib abuses mounts, the administration is trying to spread the blame around. The low-level enlisted soldiers directly involved seem destined to face criminal charges. The administration has also been quick to point fingers at the more senior military personnel supervising Abu Ghraib and to designate civilian contractors and the CIA as potential villains as well.

But high-level administration officials — Rumsfeld, Cheney, Ashcroft and the president — need to take a long, hard look in the mirror. The president should accept direct responsibility for having created a climate of impunity in which the Abu Ghraib abuses were likely to occur, if not inevitable. Bush needs to acknowledge that even in time of war, human rights and the rule of law must be respected.

This means respecting both the letter and the spirit of the Geneva Convention and the U.S. Constitution and allowing the courts to play their proper constitutional role in reviewing executive actions.

If we fail to hold our leaders accountable for what happened — if we sacrifice our most cherished American values in the name of national security and simply replace Saddam Hussein's Iraqi torture chambers with our own — we will find one day that the statement best characterizing our current situation comes not from Bush but from Pogo: "We have met the enemy, and he is us."

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May 8, 2004
Science Magazine 30 April 2004 Vol 304

Farsighted Report on Flooding Augurs Economic Waterloos

CAMBRIDGE, U.K.- The annual cost of damage from floods in the United Kingdom could soar to about $48 billion -20 times the current figure- in the coming decades if drastic steps are not taken to deal with the threat, says a wide-ranging report commissioned by the government. The Foresight report on Future Flooding gazed up to 100 years into the future, taking into account factors such as climate change, economic growth, and urbanization. The main message: The status quo of flood defenses is not good enough. "It's quite a dire picture," says the report's lead expert, Edward Evans, a water engineer at the University of Glasgow. "We can't go on building walls higher."

Drawing on the expertise of 60 researchers, the pioneering report forecasts floods according to four socioeconomic scenarios ranging from "world markets;' marked by a surging global economy and high greenhouse gas emissions, to "local stewardship" involving greater community involvement and environmental awareness.

Factors driving elevated risk include rising sea levels and extreme weather events associated with climate change; urbanization, which could put more housing in flood-prone areas and increase rainwater runoff; and regulations that restrict flood defenses.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the study predicts that the most devastating floodwaters would rise in the markets scenario. Today, 1.6 million Britons Barrier to bad tidings. New report calls for urgent measures are at risk of flooding, and $3.9 billion to bolster flood defenses, such as London's Thames Barrier. lion is spent on defenses and on mopping up the damage each year. The world markets scenario suggests that, if the government were to take no action, the threatened population could swell to 3.6 million and the costs increase to $48 billion per year by 2080, due to climate change, development in flood-prone areas, and increased value of threatened properties. But even in the more benign local stewardship scenario, risk and costs are predicted to escalate if nothing is done.

Although there is no silver bullet, the report's authors argue that a range of steps could sharply curb risks. "We need a complex bundle of responses;' says Edmund Penning-Rowsell, head of the Flood Hazard Research Centre at Middlesex University. These could include diverting rising waters into temporary storage pools rather than letting runoff overwhelm city drainage systems, dredging or widening rivers to increase capacity, and beefing up sea walls and river defenses such as the Thames Barrier, which protects London. And although climate change accounts for around a quarter of the flood damage potential, the report points out that any greenhouse gas cuts would slow sea level rise only a half-century down the road. -DANIEL CLERY

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December, 2002, Afghanistan-
"... The technique of sleep deprivation to get detainees to spill their secrets has not been used at this camp, officials say.
A sign on the wall now informs detainees:

"You will be treated fairly and humanely as long as you are cooperative and follow the rules."

-from a situation discovered and corrected by Marines there, but not, apparently, at Abu Ghraib -see Recent little news items on 'the human condition'
('The beating will continue until the morale improves'?)

May 7, 2004 Los Angeles Times
Marines Were Investigated for Iraq Jail Abuse
The 2003 cases of eight reservists, including one in which an inmate died, prompted officials in the Corps to change how their prisons are run.
By Tony Perry and Esther Schrader, Times Staff Writers

FALLOUJA, Iraq — Before many of the notorious photos of Iraqi prisoners being abused by U.S. soldiers at Abu Ghraib prison were taken, American military officials were investigating accusations of abuse by eight Marine reservists at a detention facility outside Nasiriya, including a case in which one prisoner died.

The Whitehorse detention case is among several dozen cases of potential abuse of prisoners by American personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan investigated by the military dating back to December 2002. Criminal charges have been filed in only a handful of the incidents so far, and some of the accused faced no punishment beyond demotion, discharge or sacrifice of pay, according to available reports and public records.

In addition to charges filed against six military police officers at Abu Ghraib, the Army discharged three soldiers in January for mistreating detainees at the Camp Bucca detention facility in southern Iraq. And the military is investigating the deaths of two Afghan men who died in U.S. custody at Bagram air base, Afghanistan, in December 2002, Army officials said.

The emerging details of detainee abuse dating to the early days of U.S.-led military actions against Afghanistan and Iraq suggest that defense officials had a trail of evidence of problems in the system long before the shocking Abu Ghraib abuses had occurred.

Human rights groups that have questioned U.S. detainee efforts for months expressed skepticism of Bush administration statements that top officials were unaware of the extent of abuses at Abu Ghraib until graphic, sexually oriented photographs documenting the mistreatment were revealed a week ago.

"We've been raising questions since the first detentions in the Afghanistan conflict," said Alistair Hodgett, a spokesman for Amnesty International, the London-based human rights group.

"These cases and these concerns have been well-known. It should not have taken graphic photographs to trigger a response from the Bush administration."

Meanwhile, the International Committee of the Red Cross said Thursday that it had compiled "detailed, precise and systematic" reports of abuse at Abu Ghraib as far back as last summer and had provided them to the U.S. government. The Red Cross inspected the prison periodically and was told of the abuse by prisoners and their families, officials said.

Pentagon officials said this week that 35 cases of possible detainee abuse in Iraq and Afghanistan at the hands of U.S. personnel have been detailed in the last 17 months.

Ten of the 35 cases involve allegations of rape, assault and other injuries and are still under investigation, military officials said.

Twenty-five cases of possible abuse involved deaths. Of those, 12 were labeled "undetermined or natural" causes.

Ten others remain under investigation, including the deaths of the two Afghan men at Bagram air base. The remaining three cases are suspected homicides, one of them considered justifiable.

Pentagon officials say they have been moving as quickly as military judicial proceedings allow to get to the bottom of the remaining cases of alleged abuse in detention facilities across Afghanistan and Iraq.

In the Camp Bucca case, three Army soldiers were found by investigators to have held down a detainee while soldiers beat and kicked him at the urging of their superior, Master Sgt. Lisa Girman, according to an Army statement.

The three were discharged after electing a less serious nonjudicial hearing rather than court-martial. A fourth soldier charged in the case accepted a dishonorable discharge in lieu of court-martial.

At Camp Bucca, one Iraqi detainee allegedly was knocked to the ground and repeatedly kicked, and Girman reportedly encouraged subordinates to follow suit.

Another inmate was thrown to the ground by a staff sergeant who stepped on a previously injured arm. An Army specialist was charged with holding an inmate's legs apart while kicking him the groin.

Two of the Marines involved in the Whitehorse detention facility case face more stringent punishment. At Whitehorse, Marines made prisoners stand for hours with sandbags over their heads, testimony at hearings at Camp Pendleton showed. Some prisoners were struck and kicked, according to the testimony. The death of a Baath Party member may have been the result of inadequate medical care, witnesses testified.

Last October, eight U.S. Marine reservists, including two officers, were charged with the mistreatment at Camp Whitehorse. Of those, two face court-martial proceedings this summer. Another was given nonjudicial punishment, and cases against five more were dismissed.

Maj. Clark Paulus and Sgt. Gary Pittman, accused of kicking and beating prisoners of war, were arraigned at Camp Pendleton this week. And disciplinary action was taken against a lance corporal, officials said.

Like the soldiers at Abu Ghraib later, the accused Marines complained of a lack of instruction on how to be jailers. And there was apparent confusion involving the amount of authority that interrogators at Whitehorse had in dealing with prisoners.

As a result of the Whitehorse case, Marine Corps officials said they made sweeping changes in how their detention camps would be run before the Marines' return to Iraq in March.

Training sessions were held, including a two-week practice session at March Reserve Air Force Base in Riverside for troops assigned to run detainee facilities. And a 55-page manual was compiled to explain to Marine Corps personnel each step for handling detainees.

Maj. Gen. James N. Mattis, commanding general of the 1st Marine Division, ordered the investigation into the Marine cases.

In an interview this week in Fallouja, where he has been leading Marine operations, he said he did so in order to put a halt to any improprieties lest the problem grow.

Since the Marines' return, Mattis has banned the practice of placing hoods over the heads of detainees. He also sent word through the ranks that he would closely watch the treatment of detainees.

The detention camp here, where Iraqis are held in tiny cells behind rows of concertina wire, is an example of the new policy at work, Marine officials say.

The Fallouja camp — among several in the region — is meant to hold prisoners for 72 hours as they await word on whether they would be transferred to a secondary facility and then on to Abu Ghraib.

Of 82 detainees held at the camp since the Marines' return, 63 have been released after interrogation.

Under the rules for interrogation procedures, each detainee must be examined by a Navy medical corpsman before and after being interrogated by Marines or by intelligence agency officers, providing a record that could be used to detect any abuse.

The technique of sleep deprivation to get detainees to spill their secrets has not been used at this camp, officials say.

A sign on the wall now informs detainees: "You will be treated fairly and humanely as long as you are cooperative and follow the rules."

Extensive documentation is required of Marines who have arrested any detainee. Every 24 hours a medical corpsman visits each detainee.

Marine rules call for a respectful attitude, while still maintaining an emotional distance and a sense of control.

"We want to be positive with them," said Staff Sgt. Juan Plancarte, a senior noncommissioned officer at the site. "We want to emulate the American way: respect for everyone."

Mattis said abuse of prisoners is as serious a crime as a U.S. service member can commit and must be examined and punished.

"We cannot lose our humanity," he said. "We're Americans, and we should act like it at all times. Americans don't do things like this.

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-overly long, but still important material-

May 6, 2004 Los Angeles Times
A Breeding Ground of Death
Hood Canal looks beautiful, but pollution is nourishing plankton blooms, which consume oxygen and devastate fish and sea plants.
By Tomas Alex Tizon, Times Staff Writer

BELFAIR, Wash. — Scuba diver Jerry Ehrlich saw the signs of something ominous in Hood Canal starting in the summer of 2002. The blunt-nosed six-gill sharks swimming in the shallows caught his attention first.

You never see that, he thought.

Such sharks, which have a strong aversion to light, almost never leave deep water. There were other deep-water dwellers — dogfish, octopuses, shrimp — squirming in the shallows, as if trying to escape to shore.

Deeper down, Ehrlich spotted wolf eels, which usually stay close to their dens, meandering in open water. He saw rockfish that couldn't swim straight. He found abandoned octopus dens full of rotting eggs, and sea anemones, normally bright and erect, slumped flaccidly against hard ground.

In 2003, fish began to die. Ehrlich, along with residents and scientists, witnessed three major fish kills. Tens of thousands of surf perch, greenlings and 25 other species washed up onto rocky beaches.

The state closed the canal to fishing for the first time, and tests were conducted. The results corroborated what Ehrlich, who has explored these waters for three decades, and others suspected: Hood Canal, a scenic deep-water arm of Puget Sound and once a glimmering symbol of Washington's natural bounty, was choking to death.

Pollution brought on by rapid population growth and development has caused oxygen levels in the water to drop, rendering one large section of the canal a "dead zone."

The scene "is pretty frightening," said Ehrlich, 56.

The growing dead zone threatens not just sea life — Hood Canal has one of the richest shellfish beds in Puget Sound — but the entire ecosystem, a panoply of birds and mammals, forests, and a vast network of salmon-rich rivers and streams.

Also at stake is the canal's image as a pristine outpost, the last natural barrier protecting the Olympic Peninsula from the plagues of urban sprawl.

The canal makes up the peninsula's still-wild eastern edge, a watery shield against the westward push of people and machines.

Gov. Gary Locke warned recently that the canal could turn into a "dead sea." If that happened, Washington would lose "one of its great jewels," said state fishery biologist Duane Fagergren. The state also could see the effluence of sprawl trickle into the peninsula, one of the last great unspoiled areas in the West, he said.

Dead zones are created by large concentrations of people and the pollution they generate. Researchers have identified dead zones in Los Angeles Harbor, Chesapeake Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.

The phenomenon has been known for years to environmental scientists but is only now getting widespread attention. The United Nations in March identified coastal dead zones as the most serious emerging environmental problem in the oceans.

The problem, called eutrophication, results from people doing everyday things like flushing toilets, driving cars and taking care of lawns.

Auto emissions (washed down by rain), lawn fertilizers, sewage, and storm water runoff all feed nitrogen and other nutrients into the water. The nutrients generate plankton blooms, which die after a few days, sinking to the bottom, where decomposition uses up oxygen. The lack of oxygen kills fish and sea plants, which decompose and use up most of the remaining oxygen.

The result of this cycle over many years is evident in Hood Canal today. Now the people whose lives touch the canal — residents, weekenders, bureaucrats and scientists — face a problem that defies easy solutions.

Unlike the water-fouling associated with industry in the 1960s and '70s, where the solution was purifying the discharges or closing off the drains, the causes of the Hood Canal dead zone are harder to isolate because there are so many potential sources.

"This kind of pollution doesn't come from the end of a pipe," says Donald F. Boesch, a University of Maryland oceanographer who conducted a 2003 study of dead zones for the Pew Oceans Commission.

There are no factories to blame, no oily slicks to clean up. This kind of pollution, unless one knows what to look for, is hard to see.

Even Ehrlich says the canal is still "beautiful and wonderful and magical" on the outside. It's below the surface that he sees a different picture.

Like most of Puget Sound, the waters of Hood Canal are a dark green, turning gunmetal gray on cloudy days.

On maps, the canal looks like an elongated fishhook, stretching 62 miles north to south, with the curve of the hook curling east. On average, the canal is about a mile-and-a-half wide. It's surrounded on all sides by lush forests. To the west tower the Olympic Mountains; to the east, Seattle; beyond that, the Cascade Range.

At the top of the hook, there's the Naval Submarine Base Bangor, home port for the Pacific fleet of eight Trident nuclear submarines. Sixty miles south, on the point of the hook, sits the unincorporated but rapidly growing community of Belfair. In between and along the shores are a handful of small towns and isolated clusters of homes.

The dead zone lies in the lower third of the canal, comprising the entire hook area, from Belfair to Hamma Hamma. It's the most densely populated section of the canal. Cabins and vacation homes line the shore on both sides. New houses sparkle in the hills above the canal, their white vinyl window frames gleaming like streaks of pearl.

The canal stretches through three counties: Mason, Kitsap and Jefferson. Since 1980, the population in those counties has grown by nearly 120,000 to a total of 310,000. An estimated 54,000 people live in the Hood Canal watershed, about 20,000 in the Belfair area.

Before the 1980s, the canal was mostly a weekend escape for city-dwellers. The Gates family, of Microsoft fame, owns a retreat along the canal, as do members of the Nordstrom department store family.

In years past, the most common sights at the canal were often of recreation: people digging for clams or oysters on the beaches, boaters and Jet Skiers riding the waves between private docks, children fishing along the shore.

Today, it's more common to see someone driving to and from work. The settlements along the canal have become bedroom communities; year-round residents commute to Seattle, Tacoma, Olympia and Bremerton — all within an hour's drive of Belfair.

Karen Lippy, a high school teacher who came to Belfair 20 years ago, worries about the number of people moving to the area. Lippy, 45, teaches an environmental class that explores issues surrounding the canal. "This is a critical time," she says. "If we want to save it, we're going to have to act soon."

The region's infrastructure has not kept pace with the population. Belfair, once a quaint tourist stop, has grown into a full-fledged town with supermarkets, video stores and strip malls — all without a sewer system. Nearly all cabins and homes on lower Hood Canal are on septic systems, many of them decades old.

"Flushing" is a theme that comes up often in discussions about the low-oxygen problem.

Researchers theorize that at least some of the nitrogen fed into the canal comes from toilets that drain into failed septic systems, which leach sewage and waste through the soil and into the canal's waters. Because of its geography, the canal doesn't circulate as well as the rest of Puget Sound, where pollutants are flushed away by tides, waves and rivers.

Hood Canal actually isn't a canal, which implies openings on both ends; it's a fjord, closed on one end. Capt. George Vancouver, in 1792, named it after a British lord, but the name he chose was Hood Channel. The body of water was mistakenly called Hood Canal on maps, and the name stuck.

The canal, as deep as 600 feet in some places and only a few feet deep in others, takes as long as a year to clean itself out. Rivers such as the Skokomish are the main source of fresh water. River flows have been impeded by dams and development.

There has always been a small area of low oxygen in the hook portion, but the condition was seasonal, lasting only a few weeks or months. In the last two years, the dead zone has grown dramatically and lasted year-round, said Jan Newton, senior oceanographer for the state Department of Ecology.

Fish and sea plants need between 5 and 20 parts per million of dissolved oxygen to survive. Below 5 ppm, fish are subject to stress, and below 3 ppm, most sea life can't survive. For much of the last two years, a huge section of the lower canal — from Belfair to Hamma Hamma — has measured below 2 ppm of dissolved oxygen.

"That's lower than anything we've ever seen in these waters," Newton says. "It makes you wonder whether there's anything left down there."

One of Ehrlich's favorite dive spots is just off Sund Rock, in the lower canal, a place named after the man who settled the land in the 1890s, and whose grandson, Bob Sund, still lives there. Sund's home perches above a gravel beach.

Like Ehrlich, Sund is distressed by the condition of the canal.

At the moment, Sund, a 74-year-old retired high school principal, stands at the water's edge, near some large boulders, pointing to various places along the shoreline where once-abundant life — sea lettuce and kelp — have been erased, leaving only barren rock.

He picks up a stone and throws it about 15 feet in the water.

"There used to be an eelgrass bed right there," he says.

Baby salmon used to feed on organisms clinging to the blades of grass. Herring used to lay their eggs in there, he says. When the eelgrass died off, the fish disappeared and the gravel on his beach, which was held in place by the grass, began sliding into the canal. The gravel slide exposed topsoil, which began to erode, harming plants on the beach. When the fish disappeared, the seals and birds — mostly ospreys and eagles — that used to eat them stopped coming around. The orcas that used to eat the seals haven't been seen around Sund Rock in a long time.

"Everything's connected. It's just a giant web," Sund says. "One thing goes, the rest follow."

Locke and U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks (D-Wash.), who owns a house on the canal, announced an aggressive recovery plan in February that would include federal, state and local efforts, setting aside millions of dollars for the project. Both the governor and congressman acknowledged the problem would take years to study and address.

A preliminary plan to be released today was expected to propose immediate action, such as educating canal residents to service their septic tanks, avoid lawn fertilizers and not dump waste along the shorelines. Long-term solutions will be more difficult, says Jay Watson, director of the council in charge of coordinating all the agencies.

Take septic tanks, Watson says. There are an estimated 5,500 septic systems in the lower canal. Nobody knows how much of the dead zone is caused by sewage from failed tanks. But even if it were determined to be a major cause, the ruling jurisdiction, Mason County, wouldn't have the money to do anything about it.

The county has one part-time employee assigned to regulate septic tanks but no ordinance requiring homeowners to allow the inspector onto their property. "It takes a full search warrant issued by a judge," says Watson.

A warrant requires probable cause, which is difficult to establish because septic tanks are underground. Replacing failed septic systems would cost $3,000 to $10,000 each, and many property owners would resist spending money on a problem that wasn't visible, Watson says.

Any solution would almost certainly mean an increase in local taxes. Says Watson: "You say 'tax increase' around here and the people will run you out on a rail."

Meanwhile, volunteer organizations — salmon recovery groups and environmental and social organizations — have signed up with the state to take weekly measurements of the canal's oxygen levels. They report their findings to Newton, the oceanographer, who will play an instrumental role in the recovery effort.

Ehrlich, who owns a small office supply business in Olympia, continues his weekly dive in the canal. He still inventories the changing seascape and talks to anybody who will listen about what he sees. Sund regularly gets in a small rowboat and paddles along the shoreline in front of his house, watching the beach as if it were an old, dying friend.

"I hope they do something about all this," Sund says. "I hope they don't just study, study, study, and let years go by. They need to act before it's too late."

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Page 117
This article immediately below continues the April 30 Los Angeles Times article, 'Iraq Prison Staff Seen an Issue', a few pages back:

1 - Psychologists have lab-proven that it is relatively easy to make us 'crank up the pain to teach someone to respond properly'.

2 - The military interrogation of interest here (US) works something like this:
a - We need the information, but we don't know how to get it in such situations, and law does not permit us to 'exact' it -especially by torture.
b - We can however, bring in professional interrogators and translators who are properly trained for such inquiries and-
c - We are too understaffed and under-equipped to always know exactly how those interrogations are made.
d - Yeah, sometimes some of our own military get carried away in such situations (a, above), but there's not a hell-of-a-lot we can do about it either.

3 - Bottom line: if the US government were really ignorant about what was going on (and 'moral', whatever that means) and if were we really outraged (and 'moral'?), we might, conceivably and for example, find some way to have those 'interrogators and translators' and related military tried in The Hague Court.

May 2, 2004 Los Angeles Times - Opinion
Above Law, Above Decency

Private military contractors may escape punishment in the Iraqi prisoner abuse scandal.
By P.W. Singer

The recent reports of U.S. soldiers abusing Iraqi prisoners during interrogations are both horrifying and depressing. Fortunately, there is a clear and proper legal response. Those accused will be court-martialed and, if found guilty, they will be punished.

But the story, sadly, does not end there. It now appears that this deeply disturbing episode — in which Iraqi prisoners were beaten, sexually assaulted and forced to perform simulated sexual acts, among other things — may have involved not only soldiers but also private contractors hired as interrogators.

That private contractors are interrogators in U.S. prison camps in Iraq should be stunning enough. This is incredibly sensitive work and takes our experiment with the boundaries of military outsourcing to levels never anticipated. But even more outrageous is the fact that gaps in the law may have given them a free pass so that it could be impossible to prosecute them for alleged criminal behavior.

Most people by now know that in an attempt to fill the gap between the demand for professional forces and the limited number deployed by the Pentagon, an array of traditional military and intelligence roles have been outsourced in Iraq, all without public discussion or debate. There are 15,000 to 20,000 private military contractors operating in Iraq, outsourcing critical military roles from logistics and local army training to guarding installations and convoys.

This outsourcing of critical roles to private companies represents a sea change in the way we fight a war.

However, until the last few days, not many Americans were aware that private firms were also providing interrogators and translators in the prisons. According to recent reports, the Army's investigation on the abuses committed at Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad in November and December named Virginia-based CACI International Inc. and San Diego-based Titan Corp. Titan, however, denies having contracts that involve working with prisoners.

The Army investigation discovered such depraved behavior as making prisoners perform simulated sex acts and form naked human pyramids and putting "glow sticks" in bodily orifices. The perpetrators even took more than 60 photographs, including one showing an Iraqi prisoner standing on a box with his head covered and wires attached to his hands and genitals. He was told that if he fell off the box he would be electrocuted. One civilian contractor was even accused of raping a male juvenile prisoner.

The Army has responded swiftly and correctly, at least with regard to its soldiers. Seventeen soldiers were relieved of duty and six face court-martial. As Army spokesman Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmit said: "We're appalled … they wear the same uniform as us, and they let their fellow soldiers down…. These acts that you see in these pictures may reflect the actions of individuals, but, by God, it doesn't reflect my Army."

But although the military has established structures to investigate, prosecute and punish soldiers who commit crimes, the legal status of contractors in war zones is murky. Soldiers are accountable to the military code of justice wherever they are, but contractors are civilians — not formally part of the military and not part of the chain of command. They cannot be court-martialed.

Normally, an individual's crimes would then fall under the local nation's laws. But, of course, there are few established Iraqi legal institutions — that is why we are running prisons in Iraq in the first place — and, besides, coalition regulations explicitly state that contractors don't fall under their scope.

In turn, because the acts were committed abroad, and also reportedly involve some contractors who are not U.S. citizens, the application of U.S. domestic law in an extraterritorial setting is unclear and has never been tested. This appears to leave an incredible vacuum. Indeed, as Phillip Carter, a former Army officer now at UCLA Law School, says, "Legally speaking, [military contractors in Iraq] actually fall into the same gray area as the unlawful combatants detained at Guantanamo Bay."

So far, none of the contractors involved have been criminally prosecuted. As for the contractor accused of raping a prisoner in his mid-teens, Central Command spokesperson Col. Jill Morgenthaler told the British newspaper the Guardian: "We had no jurisdiction over him. It was left up to the contractor on how to deal with him." It is clear that our policies on military contractors must be updated.

If found to be involved by investigators, the contractors should not escape prosecution. Yet that's exactly what happened in the Balkans when several DynCorp employees, working as military contractors, were implicated in the trafficking of women and other sex crimes. Felony crimes merit harsher punishment than simply the end of a good paycheck.

This may require breaking new legal ground, such as testing the extraterritorial standards for civilian prosecution, requiring detention of the suspects until the Iraqi legal system gathers strength or even transferring jurisdiction to the international court.

To not only pay contractors more than our soldiers but also give them a legal free pass is unconscionable.

More broadly, the U.S. must reexamine which military and intelligence roles are appropriate for outsourcing and which are not. For the roles that we do choose to outsource, we must close the gaps in the law. The overwhelming number of contractors are probably just as sickened and embarrassed by this behavior as the American military and the public.

That is why we have laws in the first place: to govern for the worst of human behavior, not hope for the best. The private military field should be no different.

P.W. Singer, a fellow at the Brookings Institution, is the author of "Corporate Warriors: Rise of the Privatized Military Industry" (Cornell University Press, 2004).

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American Scientist May-June 2004 vol 92
The Imperiled Giants of the Mekong
Ecologists struggle to understand -and protect- Southeast Asia's large migratory catfish
Zeb S. Hogan, Peter B. Moyle, Bernie May, M. Jake Vander Zanden, Ian G. Baird

The Guinness Book of World Records lists the Mekong giant catfish as Earth's largest freshwater fish. This species (Pangasianodon gigas), which grows as fast as a bull and looks a bit like a refrigerator, can measure 3 meters in length and weigh up to 300 kilograms. Called the "king of fish" in Cambodia, "buffalo fish" in Thailand and Laos, and "blubber fish" in Vietnam, this catfish is well known throughout Southeast Asia. Only the caviar-producing sturgeon, goliath catfish of the Amazon and a few species of poorly understood freshwater sting rays rival the Mekong giant catfish in size. In Europe, the Wels catfish (Silurus glanis) reportedly once grew to a monstrous 5 meters in length, but today a 2-meter specimen is considered remarkable.

A century ago, the range of the Mekong giant catfish spanned the entire length of the river and its tributaries from Vietnam to southern China. But in the 1930s and '40s, this species began disappearing, first from the segment of the Mekong that flows between Thailand and Laos and later upstream, in northern Laos. During recent times, the status of P. gigas has become extremely precarious. For example, in Chiang Khong (northern Thailand) and across the river in the Houay Xai district (Laos), the 1990 haul included just 69 of these fish. The catch from this stretch of river has fallen considerably since then, and over the past three years local fishers have not reported a single one. Noting this absence and similar patterns unfolding elsewhere, we estimate that the total number of these giant catfish has decreased by 90 percent or so during the past two decades.

Efforts to save this fish from extinction will hinge on many factors -including how well biologists understand the migratory behavior of these animals. Using a variety of approaches, we have endeavored to provide such knowledge. Here we relate how we became involved in this effort and where that journey of discovery has taken us.

The King (of Fish) and I

In 1996, one of us (Hogan) received a Fulbright scholarship for graduate study at Chiang Mai University in Thailand. During his year in Chiang Mai, he met another of the authors (Baird, a geographer and fisheries biologist then working in southern Laos with the Lao Community Fisheries and Dolphin Protection Project), who suggested to Hogan that he focus his graduate research on the threats to various fishes of the Mekong ecosystem.

At the time, this river was gaining recognition as the most important natural resource in the region, because it provides up to two million tons of food (both animal and plant) for rural people each year and because only the Amazon and the Congo can boast a greater diversity of freshwater species. But the Mekong also faced new threats. Just a year or so earlier, the Mekong River Commission, a body created by the four countries bordering the lower Mekong (Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand), coordinated a study to consider building 12 hydroelectric generating stations. According to plans, the dams would stand, on average, about 35 meters high. The slack water behind many of these enormous concrete constructions would stretch for roughly 100 kilometers upstream, representing, in total, more than half of the length of the Mekong River along the span of the slated projects. It was obvious that these dams would have serious environmental consequences.

The Commission found, for example, that all of the proposed dams will block fish migration. This one impact alone may cause the wholesale decline in the fishery throughout the lower Mekong River. Blocking migration cuts out a critical link in the biological chain of migrating species. While it is possible that some species may find alternative spawning and rearing areas, there is no data to support such a possibility. It is not known how far certain species migrate [or] whether stocks can continue … to function between dams, because stocks and their migration patterns have not been identified.

The urgent need for even this basic knowledge prompted Hogan to begin searching for ways to chart fish movements through the Mekong river system, an effort that would end up engaging all of us in one way or another.

Hogan began by learning the Thai language. Then, with a small grant from the Wildlife Conservation Society, he traveled to towns along the Thai section of the river to record the species for sale at local fish markets. During this time, he narrowed his focus to the dozen or so Mekong catfish species in the family Pangasiidae, which were relatively common, important commercially and interesting ecologically. What is more, the installation of dams was thought to pose a particular threat to these fish, given their highly migratory behavior, adaptation to the natural variation in river flow, and sensitivity to water quality and temperature.

What he found generally supported what was already known about Asia's pangasiid catfish: They are seasonal spawners, grouping together in May, June and July to breed at the beginning of the rainy season. Catches of Mekong catfish peak at this time, when most of the fish apparently migrate in schools up the Thai-Lao segment of the river.

Hogan couldn't describe specific migratory patterns just by inspecting the offerings in fish markets, but these surveys were nevertheless valuable. While traveling from town to town, he had a chance to learn about the fisheries firsthand and to chart the distribution in space and time of various species of Pangasiidae from the border between Isan, Thailand, and Champasak Province, Laos, in the south to the Golden Triangle region in the north.

He noted, for example, that the Mekong giant catfish and the slightly less gargantuan "dog eating" catfish (Pangasius sanitwongsei) appeared in the northern section of the river between Thailand and Laos in April, May and June. Smaller species, including the mouse-faced catfish (Helicophagus waandersii), the snail-eating catfish (Pangasius conchophilus) and the whiskered catfish (Pangasius macronema), inhabited the middle stretches of the river and represented the majority of the catch in this area between April and June. Surprisingly, one species commonly found in markets, the river catfish (Pangasius hypophthalmus), turned out to come from fish-farming operations, not (as Hogan had first been led to believe) from the river. Wild examples of this fish are, in fact, very rare in Thai portions of the Mekong. Perhaps most interesting was the presence of large (meter-long) silver-toned catfish (Pangasius krempfi) in many fishmongers' stalls.

Why were silver-toned catfish a surprise? A few years before Hogan arrived in Thailand, Baird had reported that this species could be found in the South China Sea and also in southern Laos. Baird surmised that this migratory catfish might be anadromous, traveling from the marine waters of the South China Sea up the Mekong through Vietnam and Cambodia and into Laos, where they presumably spawned. His basic theory, along with Hogan's later observation of this species in Nong Khai, Thailand (about 1,600 kilometers upstream of the Mekong Delta), provided impetus for a study of the silver-toned catfish that could better document its travels. We (Hogan and Baird) began by carefully examining, of all things, small structures in its ears.

Hogan realized that this curious tactic might reveal migratory patterns after a chance meeting with Robert Kinzie and Richard Radtke of the University of Hawaii at Manoa. These investigators studied the migratory behavior of a different kind of fish, gobies, using a novel technique-analysis of strontium:calcium ratios in otoliths ("ear stones"). These small, hard deposits are found in the heads of all bony fish. Otoliths can be used to tell how old a specimen is, because they are built up of distinct layers that are deposited annually. Radtke and Kinzie found that otoliths can also indicate events that take place as the animals mature. In particular, the ratio of strontium to calcium in an otolith records whether the fish had been living in salt water or fresh water, because strontium concentrations in the ocean are one to two orders of magnitude greater than in rivers or streams.

Listening to the Stones

With Radtke's offer of help, Hogan and Baird decided to use otoliths to test whether silver-toned catfish caught far inland had migrated up from the sea. The base of operation for this study was Hang Khone, a small village of about 45 families where Baird had been conducting community-based research on Mekong fisheries since 1991. This tiny enclave is located in the southernmost province of Laos, at the edge of Khone Falls, the Mekong's only mainstream waterfall, and a stone's throw from Cambodia. There, Hogan collected 36 specimens of silver-toned catfish for otolith analysis.

Hogan, Radtke and Baird found that the otoliths contained significant amounts of strontium-clear evidence that these fish had lived in salt water. Conversely, the analyses did not turn up elevated strontium concentrations in related species. These results helped bring the migratory pattern of this catfish into clearer focus. Baird had already documented silver-toned catfish living in the ocean from January through April. And Sophie Lenormand, a French graduate student working with the Asian Catfish Project in Vietnam, had determined that adults of this species move upstream of the estuarine zone in February or March. Higher yet on the river, in southern Laos, Baird had seen just adults weighing more than a kilogram or so -and only from May to October.

It thus seems likely that in February and March the silver-toned catfish move from the sea into the river to spawn, reaching the Khone Falls, 719 kilometers upstream, in May or June, which is when the residents of Ban Hang Khone net 98 percent of their yearly haul of fish.

This investigation kept Hogan well occupied through his year as a Fulbright student, but his interest in Mekong catfish did not end there. Hogan moved back to the United States in 1997 to begin study for a Ph.D. at the University of California, Davis, under the direction of another one of us (Moyle). A few years into Hogan's studies at Davis, Jake Vander Zanden joined Moyle's research group on a postdoctoral fellowship sponsored by The Nature Conservancy. Vander Zanden's specialty was stable isotope analysis, specifically the measurement of carbon and nitrogen isotopes, which can help to delineate food webs and energy flows in aquatic systems.

So it was quite natural that three of us (Hogan, Moyle and Vander Zanden) decided to use stable isotopes to fill out the story pieced together from the earlier otolith study of silver-toned catfish. We figured that such an analysis could readily tell us whether this big fish fattens up while at sea. And indeed, our results indicated that the flesh of this fish has an isotopic signature that reflects growth in a marine environment, something not seen in other related species of catfish.

Taken together, our analysis of catch data, strontium in otoliths and stable isotopes in muscle tissues provided ample evidence that the silver-toned catfish migrates long distances between fresh and salt water -the first documented case of anadromy in a Mekong River species. That is, we had fully confirmed the notion that this species was a Mekong "salmon," as Baird and Tyson Roberts of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute had dubbed it in 1995. Despite this success, it was clear early on that these chemical and isotopic methods wouldn't work to investigate the migratory habits of other species of Mekong catfish, which, as far as we knew, remain in fresh water throughout their lives. The inability of these techniques to chart such movements prompted Hogan to explore an entirely different avenue of investigation, one that he had earlier rejected as being too expensive and difficult- following some fish around.

Tag Team

At the time, fisheries biologists in the Mekong region were suggesting that fish migrate between the Mekong River and Tonle Sap Lake, the largest inland lake in Southeast Asia, which connects to the Mekong through a river also named Tonle Sap. In the dry season (November to February), this remarkable lake covers about 2,500 square kilometers. At the height of the rainy season (August), the lake area expands fourfold, and the maximum depth increases from 4 meters to 10. Life around the lake, including that of the local people, is uniquely adapted to this annual cycle. Fish use the flooded habitat to feed and to grow. The variety of landscapes, including inundated forests and fields, ephemeral streams and small satellite lakes, provides habitat for more than 100 kinds of fish and many more species of birds, reptiles and amphibians.

Every year at the end of the rainy season, the flow of the Tonle Sap River changes direction from north to south as the water begins to drain from the flooded forests and plains into the Mekong. With this outflow come millions of fish. (Residents take advantage this annual movement by fixing all manner of traps and nets in the lake and river to snare the migrating fish.) We wanted to determine where exactly these animals swim: Do they exit the Tonle Sap River and enter the Mekong? If so, where do they then travel? That is, do they move upstream or downstream? How far do they go?

Underwater biotelemetry (fitting fish with acoustic or radio transmitters) seemed a good way to answer these questions. Biotelemetry systems have often been used to study fish migrations, to locate spawning and feeding grounds and to describe important seasonal habitat. But this high-tech strategy had never before been applied to chart fish migrations within the Mekong River basin, because most fisheries biologists believed that such tagging would not be fruitful in a river system so large and complex. Thankfully, Hogan was able to obtain support from the World Wildlife Fund to try this approach as well as the more common form of tagging -attaching plastic markers to fish.

For this study, Hogan and coworkers from the Cambodian Department of Fisheries collected live fish from a "bagnet" fishery located in the lower part of the Tonle Sap River near Phnom Penh. This particular fishery contains about 60 individual nets, each 120 meters long and 25 meters in diameter at the mouth. The first row of four side-by-side nets is located just outside the city, and the final phalanx is located some 35 kilometers to the north. This operation, like many other fisheries in the Tonle Sap River, runs from October to March, the period when water flows out of the great lake and into the Mekong and adjacent Bassac River.

Between November 6 and December 1, 2001, Hogan and his Cambodian colleagues outfitted two Mekong giant catfish and 11 river catfish with acoustic transmitters and plastic tags labeled "Please return to the Department of Fisheries." On the evening of December 9, the hydrophone we were trailing from our survey boat picked up signals from one of the tagged river catfish. We were cruising the Mekong, 20 kilometers upstream of its confluence with the Tonle Sap and Bassac rivers. This acoustic contact indicated that the fish had moved out of the Tonle Sap River and on up the Mekong. Although we never actually saw the fish, we were able to identify it (a 17-kilogram specimen we had tagged on the last day of November) using the unique pattern of beats programmed into its transmitter.

Two months later, this same fish gobbled up the baited hook of a local fisher approximately 300 kilometers upstream from Phnom Penh, which meant that it had traveled nearly 5 kilometers per day. Fishers have since recaptured several other tagged specimens in this same area (we learn about such catches promptly, because we provide a small reward for the return of our tags), suggesting that this migration route -from the Tonle Sap Lake, down the Tonle Sap River and on up the Mekong- is typical of river catfish.

Adult river catfish move into deep water areas of the Mekong River to survive the dry season. They then migrate upstream and spawn with the onset of the first heavy rains in May and June. Young fish float downstream with the rising water, eventually finding their way into inundated areas during the rainy season.

These temporary wetlands, such as the flooded forest of the Tonle Sap Lake, act as rainy season nurseries for young fish of many other species as well.

Caveat Emptor

While Hogan was tagging fish in the Tonle Sap River, he was becoming increasingly concerned about the plight of the giant catfish. Populations were clearly in a nosedive, yet this species continued to be caught, and there didn't seem to be any readily available means of regulating the fishery. Then in 1999 he and Nicolaas van Zalinge (head of the Mekong River Commission's Freshwater Capture Fisheries Program in Cambodia) hatched an idea: Why not buy any live specimens caught and release them? In Cambodia, fishermen capture giant catfish essentially by accident -as "bycatch" in the local bagnet fishery. These fish sell for very little: about fifty cents a kilogram. In Thailand, this species was in greater demand and thus was more expensive. A large fish there could fetch as much as $4,000. Although purchasing live Mekong giant catfish from local fishers clearly wasn't a long-term solution, starting a buy-and-release program seemed better than doing nothing.

The fishers were happy enough with our scheme, because we reimbursed them for the fish at market price. This approach was attractive to us, too, for a reason that went beyond just saving the few individuals that were caught: By purchasing, tagging and releasing giant catfish, we had a chance -albeit a very small one- to document any link that might exist between the specimens found upstream in Thailand and those found downstream in Cambodia.

Hogan figured that it would be straightforward to mark any live specimens caught with labeled plastic tags and then release the fish back into the river. Because he had developed contacts in both Thailand and Cambodia and was thus able to monitor both fisheries, he'd soon know when one of these marked fish was recaptured. And, obviously, if a fish tagged in Cambodia showed itself in Thailand, or vice versa, he'd have concrete evidence that these fish moved between the two locations (and past the proposed dam sites).

The study of migratory connectivity between these two populations was not just of academic interest. Indeed, developments taking place at the time made it seem especially important to understand what the catfish were doing: The upstream section of the river posed several threats to this species, the most obvious being the continued fishing in Chiang Khong, Thailand, where catches of the giant catfish were shrinking dramatically. Would a decline in the numbers of giant catfish upstream carry over to the downstream population?

To address such concerns, we needed to know whether the two stocks intermingled. But suppose no "northern" fish turned up down south (or vice versa) -would this finding, or rather lack of finding, mean that these two populations lived in isolation or merely that all of the tagged fish had been lucky enough to escape recapture? Knowing that the results of the tagging program might be ambiguous, Hogan joined the Genomics Variation Laboratory at the University of California, Davis, where with the help of another one of the authors (May) he developed genetic markers to study the Pangasiidae.

Using tissue samples from the upstream and downstream stocks of the giant catfish, Hogan and May hoped to be able to determine whether these two populations mix.

In 2000, Hogan traveled to northern Thailand to observe the giant catfish fishery in Chiang Khong. His intent was to buy, tag and release the giant catfish captured there, as well as to obtain tissue samples. It was mid-April, the hottest time of the year. So Hogan found a small, well-shaded guesthouse and checked himself in for the month. Fishing records showed that most giant catfish were caught at about this time -and that the season for them was getting shorter each year. In 1992, for example, the season began with a catch on April 26 and lasted until June 9. In 1999, the season started on May 6 and finished just two weeks later. So for a month, Hogan waited on the patio of his guesthouse, walked down the street three times a day for a plate of fried rice, read books and worked on his laptop. But the locals caught none of the big fish.

As it turned out, 1999 was the last year that the catch of giant catfish in Chiang Khong could be termed a "fishery." After failing to locate any of these fish in 2000, Hogan returned there in 2001 and again in 2003, yet he never saw a specimen. During his last trip, Hogan spent a month interviewing local fishers about their practices and the catch of giant catfish. Everywhere the story was grim. In one village, locals said that the giant catfish had disappeared in 1960. In another community, they reported netting the last one 20 years ago. In Chiang Khong, the giant catfish held out only through 1999. Taken together, these accounts all pointed to the same conclusion -that the Mekong giant catfish was all but gone from northern Thailand.

Fortunately, downstream in Cambodia at least some giant catfish remained. And the Cambodian Department of Fisheries was eager to conserve its catfish stocks. So Hogan, with financing from the University of California and the National Geographic Conservation Trust, started a program to buy and release the giant catfish that survived capture, beginning in 2000. In all, he and colleagues in the Cambodian Department of Fisheries have purchased 21 adult giant catfish -about 80 percent of the total reported catch- letting them slip back into the Tonle Sap River. (They are confident that they hear about most captures of giant catfish, both because news of these events travels quickly on the river and because their project has garnered enough publicity that most fishers know to contact them.) Hogan and his Cambodian counterparts do the same with 10 other vulnerable species, including the giant carp (Catlocarpio siamensis), the giant sting ray (Himantura chaophraya) and the river catfish. In all, they have bought, tagged, and released approximately 5,000 fish.

But with no giant catfish to examine from the Thai sections of the Mekong, Hogan had no way to verify whether the tagged "Cambodian" fish migrate upstream, and he, Moyle and May had no way to compare genetic makeup between the two populations, if indeed there still is an upstream population worth talking about.

Despite this setback, we don't consider the investigation a total washout -far from it. Our genetics work has proved valuable for other reasons. For one, our results can be used to study the genetics of other catfish species.

And the genetic markers that we developed also allowed us to examine the diversity of stocks bred in captivity and to anticipate the effect of release of hatchery -raised fish into the wild.

Sibling Rivalry

Hatchery fish were a concern because the Thai Department of Fisheries was pursuing an artificial breeding program for the giant catfish. Since 1985, thousands of giant catfish that were artificially reared have been stocked into the Mekong. The site of their release is almost certainly spawning habitat for their wild cousins, raising concern about the loss of genetic diversity that might result from having large numbers of stocked fish overwhelming the small natural population. Loss of genetic diversity would further limit the ability of the already-rare catfish to adapt to changing conditions.

Unfortunately, the program may be doing more harm than good. For example, in 1999, the largest catch of Mekong giant catfish in northern Thailand in the last ten years (almost two dozen fish) was sacrificed to supply eggs and milt for the artificial propagation. Genetic analysis of the progeny indicated that roughly 95 percent shared the same two parents. More than 10,000 of these fingerlings were released in 2001. Although we applaud the Thai government's desire to rescue the giant catfish from the verge of extinction, the current method of brood collection and captive breeding seems likely to erode the genetic diversity remaining in the wild Cambodian population while also depleting the wild Thai population.

Will the southern population ultimately suffer the same fate as the one in the north? Perhaps. But we prefer to be more optimistic. Last year there were several positive steps that may help the Mekong giant catfish and other threatened freshwater species of the region. For example, in November the World Conservation Union officially classified the Mekong giant catfish as critically endangered. This designation is reserved for Earth's most threatened species -ones living in only a single location, numbering less than 50 wild individuals or suffering rapid, dramatic population decline. Although nobody wants to celebrate that this animal is in grave danger, the new classification is, in fact, good news for the giant catfish, because it raises awareness about the necessity for immediate protection.

Another recent development shows how important it is to get the word out that this fish is in trouble. Participants in the Mekong Wetlands Biodiversity Program, an effort of the World Conservation Union, together with people working for that organization's Bangkok-based Water and Nature Initiative, recently conducted an assessment of fish biodiversity, along with a study of the community fisheries in northern Laos and Thailand. These efforts produced evidence that the Mekong giant catfish spawns in the area where rapids were being blasted as part of the Upper Mekong Navigation Improvement Project, an initiative intended to spur the local economies.

Since publication of these results, plans for blasting more of the river rapids in Thailand have been postponed. Although the reasons for that postponement are manifold, one hopes that icreased awareness of the environmental disruptions the blasting causes will help to keep the project on hold.

Another recent triumph for the Mekong giant catfish is that one of us (Hogan) has just completed Samnang and the Giant Catfish, a children's primer on the ecology and conservation of aquatic life in the Mekong River. The publisher, a Cambodian organization called Save Cambodia's Wildlife, is distributing the book to thousands of youngsters throughout that country. If the big fish holds on for long enough, perhaps the book will raise awareness in the next generation of Cambodians about the value of conserving this and other endangered fish species of the Mekong.

Action Plans

Although much remains to be learned about the ecology of the migratory catfish inhabiting the Mekong, enough good science is now available to forge a strategy for the sustainable management of these inland fisheries. This broad survey of the problem isn't the place to detail prescriptions for better fisheries management, but we can at least outline what would be involved.

First, maintaining the connectivity between spawning grounds and nursing areas is absolutely critical, in part because many seasonal fisheries are based on the catch of migratory fish. It is important to avoid what happened on the Mun River, the Mekong's largest tributary in Thailand, where a dam blocked the upstream migration of many fish, especially catfish, most of which cannot navigate the ladder constructed to allow them to climb over this obstruction. Not surprisingly, the local catch of migratory species plummeted after construction of the dam. The resultant political fallout has been widespread and long lasting: Fishers protested, and eventually occupied, the dam site in 2000, and in 2001 the ongoing opposition prompted the government to consider removing the dam. In the end, authorities decided to operate the dam at reduced capacity (opening the massive flood gates for four months of the year), in hopes of bolstering stocks of migratory fish.

If the Mun River Dam is any indication, planners should be cautious about proposals for mainstream dams on the Mekong River, recognizing that no workable design yet exists to mitigate the harm these dams bring to migratory fish. Dams would also alter the natural variation in river flow, which is critical to maintain, because the behavior of migratory fish (and the people who depend on them for a livelihood) is closely tied to these seasonal changes.

Because the central governments have only limited presence in the rural areas where the fishing takes place, management of this natural resource must begin at the local level. But with fish migrating between Vietnam, Thailand, Laos and Cambodia, action at the local, or even the national level, is not sufficient.

The fisheries of the Mekong need to be managed as a transboundary resource. And the authorities drafting the regulations need to be aware that in a mixed-species fishery such as this, slowly maturing species are especially vulnerable to over-exploitation -and thus to extinction. That is, regulations that are able to maintain the total catch in a multi-species fishery can nonetheless lead to severe declines among vulnerable groups, most notably large-bodied, migratory fish.

Ultimately, the preservation of such species must be considered not only as a matter of fisheries management but also as a conservation issue. The growing list of threatened migratory fish (P. gigas, P. sanitwongsei, P. hypophthalmus, P. jullieni, C. siamensis) demonstrates the need for precautionary actions to aid their conservation and for greater efforts to assess their status.

One option that acknowledges the shortcomings of typical approaches to fisheries management would be to pursue an idea recently championed by Harvard entomologist E. O. Wilson: conservation concessions. Adopting this tactic on the Mekong River would blend something similar to what can now be found on land in several places (including Guyana, Suriname, Bolivia, Peru and the Congo) with the situation in various marine protected areas. The idea is to purchase the right to fish commercially in a specified area but not to exercise it. These "fishing rights" would then become nonfishing rights: the power to halt large-scale commercial fishing in certain areas in favor of small-scale subsistence fishers -and fish. Some people living along the Mekong already use a similar tactic on a small scale, forbidding fishing in reaches of the river adjacent to their villages.

This strategy offers a direct method to protect these natural resources for the long term. If carried out effectively, conservation concessions have the potential to boost fisheries production elsewhere, by increasing the spawning stock while at the same time providing revenue to the governments that issue them, new jobs for fisheries officials (to enforce regulations within the concessions) and opportunities for community participation in their management. Such concessions could either be established with revenues from ecotourism or with funds from organizations such as the Asian Development Bank or the Global Environment Facility, which are both currently involved in large-scale projects in the Mekong River basin.

Whether or not such conservation concessions are quickly established, a complete moratorium on the catch of Mekong giant catfish, including those caught incidentally, is urgently needed. The remaining population simply cannot support a fishery at this time. What is more, the ban needs to extend to wild fish caught for artificial breeding. The Thai Department of Fisheries should breed existing captive stocks to supply the commercial aquaculture sector. The captive stocks should also be used to develop a breeding program that produces greater genetic diversity in the fish that are to be introduced into the wild. Even if this strategy fails, effective conservation measures in Cambodia may allow the wild population there to bounce back, and this "downstream" stock might then replenish other stretches of the river.

It's obvious that in some spots, notably in China and along some tributaries, the river ecosystem is deteriorating rapidly. But when considering the Mekong River as a whole, there is still ample reason to be optimistic. So far, the main channel of the Mekong river has not been dammed below China. This waterway remains relatively unpolluted, and fishers here and on many of the tributaries are still able to capture phenomenal quantities -some 16 percent of the world's total freshwater catch. The countries of the lower Mekong (Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam) have shown resolve to work together for the sustainable development of their shared aquatic resources. Perhaps they can accomplish something that we have largely failed to do in North America: develop truly sustainable fisheries while protecting local biodiversity.

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Godel's Proof puts Father Gabriele Amorth (below) and Dubya in a common intellectual drawer.

April 30, 2004 Los Angeles Times
He Sends the Devil Packing
The Vatican's top exorcist has a full schedule. But not every troubled person is possessed, and evicting Satan takes time, he says.
By Tracy Wilkinson, Times Staff Writer

ROME — In a small room, well away from the street so that no one hears the screams, Father Gabriele Amorth does battle with Satan. He is a busy man.

As the Vatican's top exorcist, Amorth performs the mysterious, ancient ritual dozens of times a week. A confused world engulfed in tragedy and chaos is turning increasingly to black magic, the occult and fortune-telling, he said, proof that the devil and his handmaidens are having a field day.

"These customs open the door to evil spirits and to demonic possessions," Amorth said. "Exorcism is God's true miracle."

The practice of exorcism — driving demons and evil spirits from people or places — has been experiencing a renaissance of late, from Europe to the Americas to Africa.

In part, the rite owes its popularity to people's need to believe that the devil is real, philosophers say, and that it is possible to get rid of him.

In Italy, the number of exorcists has increased more than tenfold in the last decade to about 300. This year, one of the country's largest archdioceses established a special task force to handle the growing demand for devil detox.

Amorth is arguably the world's most famous practitioner of exorcism and certainly its greatest promoter.

He co-founded the International Assn. of Exorcists, an organization of priests that meets in secrecy every two years, and he remains its president emeritus. Author of numerous books on the subject, he has had a hand in recruiting, training or inspiring most of today's exorcists.

Amorth said his calendar is always full. "I have three this afternoon," he said matter-of-factly recently.

With little prompting, he whipped out his equipment, sheathed in a weathered leather bag that is always at his side: a silver and wooden crucifix, an aspergillum for sprinkling holy water and a container of baptismal oil.

He acted out simple steps from the ritual, wrapping his purple priest's stole around the shoulders of a visitor and making the sign of the cross on her forehead. (All clear, he pronounced.)

In an exorcism, that opening is followed by prayers, anointment with the holy water and oil, then a demand to the devil that he state his name and be gone. Anything can happen: If the person is possessed, and that's a rarity, he or she will often turn violent and fight the intervention, Amorth said.

"I've never been afraid of the devil," Amorth said. "In fact, I can say he is often scared of me."

Amorth, who will turn 80 Saturday, is a serious but not frightening figure. He has intense, piercing eyes encircled by dark rings, yet his features also relax easily into a smile and chuckle. Oval-faced, balding and dressed in a long black cloak, he's more Uncle Fester than Max von Sydow.

The devil is a stubborn foe, however, and no patient (as the possessed are called) is cured in a single exorcism, Amorth said. In fact, the "liberation" can take years — but Amorth always wins, he insisted.

Help From the Master A case in point is Lucia, a 44-year-old mother of two. She had been undergoing exorcisms for 13 years, until her priest finally took her to Amorth.

Her symptoms were typical; the possessed experience a visceral, utter repulsion from all things holy. Each time the priest initiated the ritual, she'd enter a trance, rant in languages she didn't know and show violent, superhuman strength.

It was more than they could do to hold her down, her husband, Renzo, recalled.

At one point, she vomited whole needles, her priest said, a symbol of diabolical torment.

"I know people say we are crazy," Renzo said. "You can't believe this stuff until you see it."

Amorth acknowledged that quite a few people — including senior prelates in his church — think all of this is more than a little nutty.

It doesn't help, perhaps, that Amorth sees the devil in many places: A couple of years ago he fought to ban publication of the Harry Potter books because, he said, they teach sorcery to children.

"I know there are a lot of skeptics," he said. "The presence of the devil is often ignored."

Lucia, the patient, believes that her troubles started when an enemy — a man who wanted her as a lover but whom she spurned — cast an evil spell on her. She fell ill, experienced terrible pains, lost weight.

Doctors conducted tests and operated on her, but nothing cured her.

She consulted spiritual healers, but the rituals they subjected her to left her bruised and battered and still in anguish.

Finally she turned to an exorcist, Father Vincenzo Taraborelli, a protege of Amorth.

Confronted with what he describes as his most difficult case — the woman attempted suicide more than once — Taraborelli eventually turned to Amorth.

Now, Lucia feels strong and well on the way to full recovery — ready, as she put it, to live again.

Lucia does not need additional exorcisms, Taraborelli said, but they continue to pray together regularly.

The practice of exorcism in Christianity can be traced to at least the 2nd century. It enjoyed a certain popularity through the ages but by the 18th century had fallen out of favor and was largely abandoned by the church, thanks in part to the Enlightenment, rationalism and advances in science.

The spirit of modernization possessed the 1962-65 Second Vatican Council, and church leaders frowned upon clearly medieval, controversial and, in the view of many, backward rites such as exorcism. In the drafting of the Second Council guidelines, emphasis was placed on good, hope and compassion, and discussion of evil and demons was minimized.

Then the pendulum began to swing the other way.

Exorcisms made a comeback, spurred in part by the rise of the Catholic charismatic renewal movement, a Pentecostal faction that believes in healing and prophecy, and by the favors of the current pope, who has frequently referred to Satan as a dangerous force in the world.

Even the success of "The Exorcist," the 1973 horror classic starring a foreboding Von Sydow in the title role, which was re-released in 2000, helped stir interest. (Amorth loves the movie.)

Pope John Paul II is reported to have performed at least three exorcisms, most recently in 2000 when a 19-year-old woman burst into shouts, spewed vulgarities and writhed violently during a papal Mass at St. Peter's Square in Vatican City.

The pontiff prayed over the woman for half an hour but failed to rid her of the demon, said Amorth, who also examined her.

For the first time since 1614, the Vatican in 1999 revised the rite of exorcism. Most prayers and exhortations were left largely unchanged, but the document included a new warning against confusing psychiatric illness with possession and urged priests to use "maximum circumspection and prudence" in deciding to exorcise. An exorcist must be so appointed by his bishop.

The growing popularity of these rituals, as well as of black magic and witchcraft, comes from the need of many people to believe that Satan is real, said University of Florence philosopher Sergio Moravia. It helps explain unspeakable tragedy and helps a suffering mankind cope.

But belief in the power of the devil to possess people, and of priests to free them, is too often a crutch that masks serious psychological and physiological disease, Moravia said.

"I don't think it's crazy. It's worse," he said. "An exorcism is the residue of a medieval practice completely devoid of any foundation of reason.

"It's a scam. You promise something to someone who is very sick and at best you offer a temporary cure."

Alternative to Medicine

In the Roman Catholic world, he said, people turn far too readily to exorcists out of desperation when medicines and other therapies don't seem to work.

And in Italy, superstition remains a powerful force. An estimated 10 million Italians — 17% of the population — use the services of fortune-tellers, faith healers and magicians who cast evil spells, according to a 2002 study by the Eurispes research institute. They pay nearly $6 billion a year to about 22,000 purveyors of such wizardry, Eurispes said.

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the archbishop of Genoa, said a society bereft of values and moral codes is creating a fertile field for evil in the world.

Bertone recently set up a task force of exorcists and doctors to handle the overload of troubled Italians seeking the church's help, some of them possessed and some of them just "disturbed."

"The devil is real, he is at work, and he is agitating," Bertone said in an interview.

Doctors have proved an important asset in assessing the state of mind of potential patients, Bertone said. Surprisingly (or not), the practice of exorcism gets some endorsement from Italy's medical establishment.

Salvatore DiSalvo, a psychiatrist in the city of Turin, has been counseling priests in how to recognize the symptoms of schizophrenia and other mental disorders. He sees a valuable role for the exorcist.

"Science can't explain everything," he said. "I believe the exorcist is the last resort."

DiSalvo credited Amorth with working to bring scientists into the mix and said there had been a regular exchange of information and experience between devil-battling priests and doctors for years.

Amorth stressed the importance of screening the scores of people who solicit his help or that of any exorcist.

The failure to discern serious illness has led to tragedy and a number of deaths in exorcisms gone awry in the United States — where hundreds of non-Catholic exorcism ministries have sprung up — and Mexico. In 1996 in Los Angeles, for example, a Korean Protestant woman died of beatings in a six-hour exorcism.

"In the majority of cases, the people who come to me are not in need of an exorcism but of medical care," Amorth said. "But when some people, after having gone through extensive medical treatment, have had no benefits, they begin to think their problems are not natural.

"And the reality is, medicine is limited and often incapable of supplying diagnoses and cures," he said. "The idea of evil spirits is a universal idea, one that belongs to all cultures, all religions, all times."

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"... Pentagon officials late Thursday did not deny that private contractors were being used as interrogators, but referred questions to U.S. military officials in Baghdad, who said they could not comment on Myers' account..."

Explanation: 'Queasy, wimpy liberals have tied our hands in past interrogations, but there are any number of professionals (and mercenaries -some our own) that know how to get the information we need to defend ourselves, and the best part is that, under private contract, they don't have to be accountable to us as to how they get their information'.

April 30, 2004 Los Angeles Times
Iraq Prison Staff Seen as Issue
Lawyer for a U.S. soldier accused of abuse alleges contractors are used to question inmates there.
From a Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — A U.S.-run prison in Iraq, where American troops are under investigation in connection with abuse of Iraqi prisoners, used private contractors to interrogate detainees, the attorney for an accused soldier has charged.

The private contractors from American companies have been used to question prisoners as part of aggressive intelligence-gathering efforts at Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad, where U.S.-led forces have held hundreds of captives during the invasion and occupation of Iraq, the attorney said.

In March, military officials charged six members of the 800th Military Police Brigade with offenses including assault, cruelty and dereliction of duty in connection with the abuse of about 20 prisoners. The misconduct at Abu Ghraib was underscored this week by photographs aired on U.S. television showing the mistreatment, which involved physical abuse and sexual intimidation.

Among those charged was Staff Sgt. Ivan "Chip" Frederick, 37, of Virginia, an Army Reserve officer. Frederick and his relatives have spoken with news organizations. Relatives provided Associated Press with personal writings that backed his account that he and others were given little instruction or guidance by the U.S. military in how to treat prisoners.

Gary Myers, Frederick's Washington-based attorney, said Thursday that it was clear that the military contracted with private firms to interrogate prisoners, raising questions of oversight of the prison and treatment of prisoners.

"It's one of the most disturbing elements of this," Myers said in an interview. "It's a question of what kind of guidance [Frederick] was getting and what kind of training he was receiving."

Myers said two U.S. firms — CACI International of Arlington, Va., and Titan Corp. of San Diego — were involved in providing private interrogators and interpreters at Abu Ghraib.

Both firms were named in a military investigative report looking into the allegations. According to the report, a CACI employee was terminated from duty at the prison because of the infractions.

Myers said it was difficult to know what percentage of the prison's staff consisted of private contractors, but he said those figures and other elements of the operations would be disclosed during a trial.

Pentagon officials late Thursday did not deny that private contractors were being used as interrogators, but referred questions to U.S. military officials in Baghdad, who said they could not comment on Myers' account.

A spokeswoman for CACI could not be reached for comment late Thursday.

Gene Ray, chief executive officer of Titan, said his company provided translation services to the U.S. military in Iraq, but said the work did not involve the Abu Ghraib prison.

"We employ translators," Ray said. "Translators are not inclined to be involved in prisons one way or the other."

On Wednesday, the photographs showing abuses at Abu Ghraib were aired on CBS' "60 Minutes II." The six members of the 800th Military Police Brigade, based in Uniondale, N.Y., face court-martial. In addition to those criminal charges, seven officers in the brigade's chain of command face an administrative investigation, including Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, the military's top prison official in Iraq.

However, it is unclear whether any law or legal proceeding applies to private contractors. There are an estimated 20,000 private security guards in Iraq, a growing force that has prompted concern among some U.S. officials.

In Congress, five Democratic senators asked Thursday for an inquiry into the use and activities of private military contractors.

The senators told the congressional General Accounting Office that the private security firms are unregulated by the federal government.

Those signing the letter were Sens. Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut, Jack Reed of Rhode Island, Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, Jon Corzine of New Jersey and Russell D. Feingold of Wisconsin.

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-lot of material in this one :-)

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April 25, 2004 Los Angeles Times - Book Review By Anthony Lewis
Hiding in plain sight

'Worse Than Watergate:
The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush'
John W. Dean; Little, Brown: 254 pp., $22.95

After all the conflict over former President Nixon's tapes and papers, Congress in 1978 passed a law to regulate the handling of such records. The Presidential Records Act gave former presidents 12 years to control their records, presumably to write memoirs. Then they were to become public property, open to all.

The last of President Reagan's documents still withheld from release by the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library were to be open, under the law, on Jan. 21, 2001, the day after President Bush's inauguration. But Bush's lawyers asked for an extension, and then two more extensions, to consider "many constitutional and legal questions."

On Nov. 1, 2001, Bush issued an executive order that: (1) let former presidents keep their records closed as long as they live; (2) after their deaths, allowed friends and relatives to invoke executive privilege as a basis for keeping records secret; and (3) shifted the burden so that people seeking access to records must show justification instead of the former president having to give a reason to withhold.

John W. Dean tells that story in "Worse Than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush" as an example of Bush's obsessive desire for secrecy. So it is. But it is something more. It is an example of Bush's view of law as something to be ignored or manipulated for his convenience.

Dean well understands that the law was thus twisted in the case of the Presidential Records Act. "In essence," he writes, "Bush was repealing an act of Congress and imposing a new law by executive fiat."

Secrecy and lack of regard for the law, in fact, go hand in hand in the Bush administration, as they did in Richard M. Nixon's. No one knows that better than Dean, who served as Nixon's White House counsel for 1,000 days. For those too young to remember, it was Dean who warned Nixon that Watergate was a "cancer" on his presidency and who then testified in the congressional hearings that helped drive Nixon from office. Dean thinks the secrecy of the Bush administration is far worse, and he makes a powerful case in a riveting book.

Secrecy and disregard for the law have played a crucial part in the Bush administration's environmental policy, for example. Again and again, Bush has sought to exempt industry from having to comply with the Clean Air Act. Impatient at attempts to amend the act, with all the public debate and congressional bargaining involved, Bush has chosen the closed-door process of executive regulations.

One of the crucial provisions of the act requires "new source review." It provides that owners of a power plant must install new pollution controls if they make any significant — that is, more than routine — changes in the plant's equipment. The purpose is to ensure that there will be less pollution as plants are modernized, among them those in the Midwest that send thousands of tons of pollutants through the air to the East, where they stunt forests and intensify breathing difficulties for many children.

The question for the Environmental Protection Agency was how big an expenditure could be allowed as routine repair and maintenance. EPA staffers suggested allowing as routine annual spending equal to 0.75% of a generating unit's value. Thus, if the unit was worth $1 billion, the owner could spend up to $7.5 million a year on it without having to add antipollution equipment.

What happened in the Bush administration was described by Bruce Barcott in an April 4 New York Times Magazine article. After secret internal discussions among Bush's EPA appointees, the agency issued an order that spending up to not 0.75%, but 20% of a power unit's value, would be considered routine. So the owners of a $1-billion plant could spend up to $200 million a year without having to install new pollution controls.

For anyone who cares about the environment, the Barcott article made for grim reading. The 20% figure is so outlandishly high that no power company would ever be required to install new pollution controls, effectively a repeal of a central provision of the act. And because the deliberations were all behind closed doors, hardly any of the millions of Americans who suffer the effects of sulfur, mercury and other pollutants in the air knew what Bush and his people had done to them.

Even before he became president, there was evidence that Bush had little reverence for the law, no feeling for it, really. As governor of Texas, he declined to intervene as 152 men and women were put to death, the largest number executed under any governor at least since the U.S. Supreme Court lifted a national death penalty ban in 1976. The Chicago Tribune studied all of the death cases at a point when 131 had been executed. In a third of them, it found, the defendant had been represented at trial by a lawyer who had been or later was sanctioned or disbarred. In 40 cases, the lawyer presented no evidence or only one witness in the sentencing phase of the trial.

Asked about the Tribune study, then-Gov. Bush said the defendants in every case had had "full access to a fair trial." His statement ignored the rank reality of capital trials in Texas — that appointed defense counsel have been asleep or drunk during trials, or incompetent.

Just before he left the governorship to move to Washington, Bush took an extraordinarily brazen action to keep his gubernatorial papers secret. Texas law requires that a governor's papers be indexed by state archivists upon leaving office and made available to the public immediately. But Bush had the papers shrink-wrapped on 60 large pallets and sent to his father's presidential library at Texas A&M University. There, federal archivists said they were too busy with the father's papers to process the son's. Again, secrecy combined with disregard for law — Texas law in this case.

Dean writes that Peggy D. Rudd, director of the Texas State Library, fought and eventually won a battle with the former president's library to get control of the gubernatorial papers, but then Bush's successor as governor, Rick Perry, used other methods to keep many of the governor's papers locked up. One wonders: What are they trying to hide?

Bush's inclination to secrecy was fortified by his choice of a running mate. Dick Cheney is probably the most influential vice president in U.S. history, but he works so secretively that he leaves virtually no marks. He has spent years fighting to keep Americans from knowing which private business executives advised his energy policy group, an issue now before the Supreme Court.

The terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, have turned the federal government more radically toward the path of secrecy. At the same time, they legitimized Bush as president, giving him the stature he lacked after being put in the White House by the Supreme Court, and provided a rationale for greater secrecy.

Bush has a particularly zealous advocate of secrecy in his attorney general, John Ashcroft. In the weeks after Sept. 11, on Ashcroft's orders, FBI agents arrested about 5,000 noncitizens (the exact number has been kept secret) and held them in prison for weeks or months on suspicion of terrorist connections. Their names and places of detention were not disclosed. Most have been deported for such violations of immigration rules as overstaying visas after closed deportation hearings.

Then Ashcroft invented a secret substitute for trials. He detained two U.S. citizens without trial — and without counsel — as "enemy combatants." At this writing they have been imprisoned for more than 23 months, in solitary confinement, unable to challenge the government's charges that they are linked to Al Qaeda. Their cases, too, are before the Supreme Court.

Anyone looking for a philosophical view of these matters will not find it here. Dean has written what he calls a "bill of particulars": a detailed account of what Bush has kept secret and how. Dean says he is angry — and scared. He has reason to be.

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Page 123
April 25, 2004 Los Angeles Times - Book Review By Robert Scheer
Without a doubt

'Plan of Attack'
Bob Woodward; Simon & Schuster: 468 pp., $28

If Bob Woodward is right — and he has had more access to the president of the United States and his team than anyone else in the Fourth Estate — George W. Bush views introspection as a sign of weakness, and doubt as a failure of character. Though there are several major revelations embedded in the hundreds of pages of minutiae that fill out "Plan of Attack," the famed reporter's latest epic fly-on-the-wall chronicle of the halls of power is fascinating less for its scrupulous examination of the administration's inexorable rush to war with Iraq than for the way he vividly captures Bush's resolve. For it is the president's native gift to remain "on message" no matter how confounding the facts on which he bases his policies or tragic the consequences of his actions.

Woodward has written an astonishing book: It reveals the startling degree of contempt, confusion, political ambition and personal vendetta that seems to dominate the inner circle around the president but which, until recently, has been largely kept from the public. Along the way, Woodward confirms many of the assertions in recent books by former Bush administration Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill and National Security Council antiterrorism chief Richard A. Clarke. Here, in abundant detail, is a convincing portrait of a president who, it appears, consciously exploited America's fears after Sept. 11 to pursue an extraneous but deeply held animus against Saddam Hussein, the already-defanged dictator of Iraq.

According to Woodward, Bush was told repeatedly by many of his advisors that the evidence linking Hussein to Sept. 11 was nonexistent; nonetheless, the president in his public speeches continued to successfully connect the two. Eighty percent of Americans would come to believe something that the president knew privately to be false.

The president was never convinced that the claim that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction could be substantiated with sufficient credibility to satisfy himself; nor did he believe that the evidence presented to him would sway, as the president put it, "Joe Public." In public, however, he never evinced any misgivings.

Why then was Bush determined from the outset to topple Hussein from power? The closest explanation Woodward elicits from the president is that Hussein is "a bad guy." Bush promises Italy's prime minister on Jan. 30, 2003, that "we will kick his ass." But the question that Woodward does not get Bush to answer is, why preemptively strike Iraq? Why dethrone the Iraqi despot when you have enjoined the nation to fight a ubiquitous band of terrorists in Afghanistan led by a disaffected Saudi religious fanatic who is a sworn enemy of the secular Iraqi dictator?

According to "Plan of Attack," Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney began to gear up to get Iraq only 72 days after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Moreover, their effort to overthrow Hussein was underway in earnest even as U.S. troops were battling in Afghanistan, trying to capture or kill the elusive Osama bin Laden, root out the Taliban and bring competing local warlords to heel. Gen. Tommy Franks, who was in charge of that operation, knew he had much work ahead to stabilize Afghanistan and, according to Woodward, sputtered a string of expletives when asked to suddenly plan for the overthrow of Hussein, who, as was already well known, had no serious ties to the terrorists harbored in Afghanistan by the Taliban.

But the president is a man whose mind is made up. Woodward shows him collaring Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in a White House hallway after a meeting and announcing, out of the blue, that he wants the planning for an invasion of Iraq to begin in earnest. Somehow, Bush is convinced that the terrorist threat posed by Al Qaeda is not merely the violent expression of the perverse pathology of an obscure minority religious sect but that it represents something more: a battleground in an apocalyptic struggle between the forces of good and evil. Bush makes it clear to Rumsfeld that he doesn't want Congress — let alone the public — to know that he's planning to invade Iraq while fighting is going on in Afghanistan. He fears the average American will not support the new venture.

Woodward writes that Rumsfeld is taken aback, seeming surprised by Bush's sense of urgency since neither the Pentagon nor the CIA has yet to prove a connection between Hussein and Bin Laden. (Nor would they ever.) He tells the president that the Defense Department has contingency plans for invading more than 60 countries, including Iraq. He can dust them off if the president wishes him to do so. Bush isn't satisfied.

The president's early fixation on Iraq is mirrored by (perhaps even inspired by, on evidence in this book) Cheney's. Woodward says that Secretary of State Colin Powell "detected a kind of fever in Cheney. He was not the steady unemotional rock that he had witnessed a dozen years earlier during the run-up to the Persian Gulf War. Cheney was beyond hell-bent for action against Saddam. It was as if nothing else existed."

The cause of Cheney's "fever" is never fully explained. One can speculate that its taproot lies in the unfinished business of the 1991 Persian Gulf War, when the failure to take Baghdad and overthrow Hussein engendered considerable criticism in the war's aftermath. For Cheney, as for some others, Hussein's remaining in power might well have been a continuing embarrassment and humiliation. Now history offered him a second chance.

What is beyond question in Woodward's account is Cheney's omnipresent role in the president's decision-making, a role Bush fully and repeatedly concedes in the book. Cheney is always shown at Bush's side. According to "Plan of Attack," no one else in the president's inner circle is as firmly in the loop, and it is clear that Cheney's views of the world, and his belief in the need to forcefully redraw the map of the Mideast, carry the day.

What drives Cheney is unknown. Is it his sense that time is running out, that the heart blood-vessel stent introduced to save his life is a constant reminder that there is much to be done and little time left to leave his mark on history? Whatever the explanation, it is clear from Woodward's dozens of interviews with others that the vice president is driven in a way so frenetic that he is a man who never lets the facts get in the way of a good story. And so he is undeterred by the administration's repeated failure to establish a convincing connection between Hussein and Bin Laden or by the failure to find evidence of weapons of mass destruction.

There is another mystery at the heart of Woodward's book: It is not at all clear why the president isn't sufficiently inoculated to protect him from catching Cheney's fever. All administrations have their z