:: to the teeth ::    thoughts on social justice, medicine, race, hope and beats

"Another world is not only possible, she is on her way.
On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing." :: Arundhati Roy ::

"The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don't have any." :: Alice Walker ::
Saturday, August 23, 2003  

Post 9-11 Asbestos? Oops, we meant to tell you NOT to breathe that, really we did.

In the weeks after the World Trade Center disaster, the Environmental Protection Agency falsely led the public to believe that the air in the vicinity was safe to breathe. Why would Christie Todd Whitman do such a thing? Her group was instructed by the White House's National Security Council to do so, according to a report by the EPA's Office of the Inspector General, the agency's internal watchdog. Without adequate knowledge of the potential hazards, hundreds of people cleaned tons of post 9-11 debris without proper protection. Many reports of breathing problems and pulmonary disease have arisen amongst those involved in the rescue and/or cleanup operations in the immediate aftermath.

For those of you who were still under any sort of illusions that federal scientific agencies are immune to manipulation by the Administration, take a look at this report prepared by the Committee on Government Reform. For those who prefer the cliff notes version, make sure to READ the Executive Summary!!

posted by Rahat | 8/23/2003 02:00:00 PM | (0) comments |

Friday, August 22, 2003  

War Opponents, EIGHT. Chicken Hawks, ZERO

Check this out -- the record of the "discredited" war opposition. Amitava Mazumdar sets the tally straight at his website.

posted by Anjali Taneja | 8/22/2003 10:34:00 AM | (0) comments |

Thursday, August 21, 2003  


"Why do conservatives seem to communicate better than liberals? One reason for the liberal left's chronic difficulty is a tendency to overintellectualize issues. Liberals bombard the media and the public with figures and statistics that prove their case. But again and again the data glance off without making any impression, and the issues don't go anywhere. 'If the facts don't fit the frame, it's the facts that are rejected, not the frame,' is an oft-repeated FrameWorks aphorism. For a classic example of overintellectualization, think of Al Gore in one of the presidential debates assuming his audience would get a reference to the Dingell-Norwood bill."

(From a very interesting article on FrameWorks, an organization that teaches organizations how to better frame their issues to the public, something that liberals MUST pay more attention to).

"In explaining their issues, environmentalists tend to predict a wide range of disasters: catastrophic weather phenomena, species extinction, tropical pests heading north, you name it. The canonical example is probably Paul Ehrlich's 1968 book The Population Bomb, which began: "The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970's the world will undergo famines -- hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to death." .... She shows two slides. First she displays a cover of the children's book Chicken Little. When greens sound like Chicken Little, she says, the message is that the sky is falling, it's your fault and you have to lower your living standards. Not surprisingly, that message attracts only true believers. Then she puts up a second slide of The Little Engine That Could. A far better message is that good old American technology can solve environmental problems, and that citizens can hold government and business accountable if only they have the political will...

"That and the fact that conservatives, from Limbaugh on down the line, already know how to come up with clever frames and stick with them. Take the "death tax," the right's reframing of the estate tax. According to a report in The New York Times, Republicans spent five years teaching their troops to use this terminology. One lobbyist, Jack Faris of the National Federation of Independent Business, even hit on the idea of making everyone in his office who used the wrong phrasing put a dollar into a "pizza fund." Soon Newt Gingrich instituted the pizza-fund concept on Capitol Hill -- and today, Republicans always say "death tax." A similar story could be told of the frame "partial-birth abortion," an extremely rare procedure that the right renamed for propaganda purposes. The Times also reported recently that Republican pollster Frank Luntz has circulated an entire lexicon on how to rename environmental issues in a way that benefits the Republican Party."

(In talking to friends at an amazing Health Justice gathering in New Mexico in June, we had a long discussion about messaging, and some people were uncomfortable with framing issues because it seems like trying to shape the public's view instead of giving them the facts. But if we are to compete with conservative messages, we need to get ourselves in gear and use important messaging techniques! Thanks to Andru Ziwasimon for this article...) Any thoughts?

posted by Anjali Taneja | 8/21/2003 07:59:00 PM | (0) comments |

Sunday, August 17, 2003  

Things I've Learned or Concluded in the Last Couple of Years


By: Bob McGuffin - 06/21/03

If terrorists attack us and world opinion sees us as selfish, spoiled, destructive and imperialistic, acting that way even more will stop the attacks and change world opinion.

The more people vilify other people, the more adult they are.

We say they're evil; they say we're evil. Evil people kill innocent civilians, believe God is guiding them and hate ambiguity.

God wants a lot of people dead.

Our image of God is more like God than their image of God.

When we're afraid, whatever our government does is fine.

When we're afraid, its OK if our leaders are delusional as long as they really believe in their delusions and state them strongly.

If we win a war quickly, then the war was morally right.

We should invade countries that we think are a threat; then we will find evidence that they were going to threaten us.

Bombing a country, overthrowing its government and crippling its infrastructure is the same thing as reconstructing the country.

If our enemy is vastly weaker, we should still celebrate our victory like it was a fair fight and a close contest.

Watching a war on television is a lot like watching a movie, but without the gory violence that Hollywood uses to corrupt our children.

When our government kills thousands of innocent civilians with our consent and money, it didn't really happen or the people aren't really dead.

When innocent civilians continue to die as a result of our actions, it's not really happening or the people aren't really dead.

When we kill thousands of civilians, there is a secret formula for counting them that makes their loss less than our loss.

When soldiers kill people in war, they are not personally responsible because people in the government absolve them.

If soldiers kill people at home they are personally responsible and should be killed to prove that murder is wrong.

The Arab states should declare peace towards Israel. Then Israel will tear itself apart.

The Israelis should give the Palestinians their own state. Then the Palestinians will tear themselves apart.

The more people fight and kill each other, the more they will be secure.

Christians should prevent Israel from making peace so that Christ can come again.

Israelis and Palestinians who want peace should form their own country.

Affirmative action should end, now that there's no more racism.

When black people who have benefited from affirmative action want to repeal affirmative action, their motive really isn't self-hatred.

If you give rich people tax breaks, they will give the extra money to poor people, or, at least, hire more gardeners.

If someone promotes a war and then profits from it, they haven't done anything wrong, especially if their friends think they haven't done anything wrong.

When we don't have money or jobs, we should worry instead about terrorism.

Mental illness and personal immaturity are not mental illness and personal immaturity when expressed through a political or religious ideology.

Women should run the world.

Bob McGuffin is a contributing writer for Liberal Slant.

posted by Rahat | 8/17/2003 02:31:00 PM | (0) comments |

Wednesday, August 13, 2003  

Blogs r us

Blogging is the latest rave in political campaigning techniques. Among the dems, Howard Dean's got a weblog. So does Bob Graham. John Kerry's not to be outdone either. I'm sure there are more, including maybe some republican ones. Maybe some of them even talk about how pretty they feel today. You can find a comprehensive run through of all the candidates of all parties here. (I gotta go do homework now) Just one question though, are regular people's blogs uncool now that the establishment types are taking over?

posted by Rahat | 8/13/2003 01:07:00 PM | (0) comments |

Tuesday, August 12, 2003  

Let's say someone out there does not agree with the current Israeli government's stance on certain issues. Let's say that person decides that they would like to back their politics with an economic bite-not unlike the Arab League has been doing for decades, with recently renewed effort. Did you know that it is illegal for an American company or individual to support a boycott of Israeli goods? Check out this thread on metafilter.com.

Please note that I do not condone or condemn any actions taken on either side of this matter; I am simply reporting what is out there. (Please don't arrest me!)

posted by Rahat | 8/12/2003 11:51:00 PM | (0) comments |


Photo ops galore

Image is everything. Perhaps two of the most prominent media images from the Iraq conquest were when the great Saddam statue toppled down-symbolizing a clear victory for democracy and the end of tyranny, and Top Gun Gee W. landing on the the deck of the USS Lincoln to deliver news to his nation and the world of our good works. Now that we've brought democracy and stability to the nation-wait, oops we haven't. At least we can contend ourselves knowing that at Iraqi children are "not sniffing glue" this summer.

Where's that camera when you need it?

posted by Rahat | 8/12/2003 05:58:00 PM | (0) comments |

Saturday, August 02, 2003  

The Art of Mending War-Wounded Children
"They have seen corpses and severed heads littering the streets outside their homes. They have heard the screams of their parents and others being tortured, in some cases killed, before their eyes. Eleven-year-old Damba Koroma remembers her part of her left arm being cut off by a gang of gun-toting teenagers five years ago. When her mother cried out in protest, they chopped off her left arm in the same spot as well... Living now with U.S. host families, most of these children had tried to bury their horrible memories; that is, until attending the four-week camp set up at Francis C. Hammond Middle School by the Falls Church-based Center for Multicultural Human Services. There, therapists and others are giving the children a chance to talk about their experiences and vent their fears and feelings in healthy and creative ways... The activities break the ice on some difficult topics. For instance, when the campers were asked to draw scenes from their country, most sketched stick figures with severed limbs or heads and gushing blood, which opened the door to discussions about what they were thinking and feeling as they drew."

...and a powerful Photo Gallery on the amputees and refugees of Sierra Leone. Much of this fighting has been funded/fueled by the diamond industry (see Wed July 30 post on war in Congo).

posted by Anjali Taneja | 8/02/2003 12:53:00 AM | (0) comments |

Friday, August 01, 2003  

Factory fishing and the FDA
"Seven of 10 farmed salmon purchases at grocery stores in Washington DC, San Francisco, and Portland, Oregon were contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) at levels that raise health concerns, according to independent laboratory tests. PCBs are persistent, cancer-causing chemicals that were banned in the United States in 1976... On average farmed salmon have 16 times the dioxin-like PCBs found in wild salmon, 4 times the levels in beef, and 3.4 times the dioxin-like PCBs found in other seafood... If farmed salmon with the average PCB level found in this study were caught in the wild, EPA advice would restrict consumption to no more than one meal a month. But because farmed salmon are bought, not caught, their consumption is not restricted in any way."

posted by Anjali Taneja | 8/01/2003 11:26:00 PM | (0) comments |

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