Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Rare morning post

I'm not redoing the lost post. But this is a rare morning post in case anyone feels cheated that Blogger "ate" my post last night.

"Consumer group warns pregnant women on tuna use" (Michael Hawthorne, Chicago Tribune):
The chance that canned tuna will contain high levels of mercury is great enough that pregnant women should never eat it, according to new recommendations from a leading consumer group.

Officials at Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports magazine, said they decided to recommend a tuna-free diet for pregnant women based on a Tribune investigative series on mercury in fish and the latest testing by the Food and Drug Administration.
The newspaper reported late last year that about 15 percent of canned light tuna--the kind of tuna touted by the FDA as a low-mercury option--is made with a species that often contains high amounts of the toxic metal.
FDA officials later revealed that 6 percent of canned light tuna sampled between 2001 and 2005 had mercury levels that exceeded the average in canned albacore tuna, which the federal government tells pregnant women and young children to limit eating because it tends to have high levels of mercury.
In a two-page article in the July issue of Consumer Reports, the consumer group also urged pregnant women to shun four other kinds of seafood because of mercury concerns--Chilean sea bass, halibut, American lobster and Spanish mackerel.

I love tuna salad and have often existed on it when nothing else seemed worth eating. Then either C.I. passed me the In These Times cover story on the mercury in fish or I saw the Now with Bill Moyers' report (I don't remember which happened first) and I've pretty much given up one of my favorite dishes (and something quick and easy to make). Am I pregnant? No. But although it is dangerous for pregnant women, it's dangerous for many women. I remember Moyers' report containing a woman (who was not pregnant) plauged by headaches and a doctor who finally diagnosed the problem (after many others failed): mercury poisoning. I also believed it was explained in one of the two that the Mad Hatter (of Alice in Wonderland fame) was probably "mad" because mercury was once used in the making of hats -- he was suffering from mercury poisoning.

"Kidnappings in Iraq point to lawlessness" (Liz Sly, The Chicago Tribune):
Men wearing police uniforms descended on a Baghdad street Monday morning and abducted about 50 people, hauling them off buses, dragging them out of shops and snatching them off the sidewalk in one of the most dramatic illustrations yet of the lawlessness into which Iraq is sliding.
The mysterious abductions coincide with an increasingly worrying vacuum of leadership at the Interior and Defense ministries, responsible for bringing security to the country. The ministerial posts have remained unfilled because the Shiite and Sunni factions in Iraq's new government have been unable to reach an agreement on suitable candidates for the jobs, in just one indicator of the deep divide.
The lightning raid by men in uniforms was disavowed by Iraq's Interior Ministry, but questions persisted nonetheless as to how dozens of armed men were able to carry off such a daring operation in broad daylight in the center of the city.
The abductions took place less than a mile from the U.S.-controlled Green Zone, where the U.S. Embassy and many U.S. military operations are based.

For more on that read C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" (always, it runs Monday through Friday each week). Also please read Mike's " Law and Disorder and more."

On WBAI's Cat Radio Cafe yesterday, Janet Coleman interviewed writer Bel Kaufman. Kaufman wrote a book that is always fresh and alive to me no matter how many times I reread it, Up the Down Staircase. If you've never read the book, a college student has graduated with honors and with hopes and dreams. She joins the public school system eager to impart her knowledge and love for Chaucer only to come up against an entrenched system and that's all the summary I'll provide you with. I will warn you that this isn't a Touchstone film (so don't expect a rousing, feel good ending).

Cat Radio Cafe airs on WBAI each Monday from two to three p.m. Eastern Standard Time. It's an on air "salon" (as Coleman pointed out yesterday) and explores the arts, politics and the world. Kaufman wasn't the only guest but she's is the reason I'm writing this. I woke up three times last night and, each time as I got a glass of water, I would find myself thinking, "She wrote one of your favorite books! You really need to note her!"

German born Kaufman came to this country from Russia when she was twelve (the ship journey is a story in itself and you can hear her tell it by going to WBAI and listening to an archived version of the broadcast). She is the granddaughter of the writer Sholom Aleichem (whose stories were used for the musical Fiddler On the Roof).

She has a new book planned out . . . in her head. Coleman urged her to begin writing it which, as an incredible fan of Up the Down Staircase, is advice I hope she will follow.

"25 Years Ago Today: The Discovery of HIV" (Democracy Now!):
Meanwhile it was 25 years ago today, June 5th 1981, when a California doctor named Michael Gottleib published a brief report about the first diagnosis of the HIV virus. Since then 25 million people have died of AIDS. An average of 8,000 continue to die each day.
Dr. Michael Gottlieb: "In the first few years after I reported my cases of AIDS I felt like the people on the rooftops during Katrina waving, shouting, screaming, begging for help and it did not come. When it came eventually it came with all these strings attached. You must have abstinence instead of condoms. You don't get enough medication to treat the people you need to treat who are indigent. Our government has had a colossal failure in responding to the AIDS epidemic."

That item is from yesteday but worth noting. AIDS changed the landscape in a way that few events (or diseases) ever do. The government response was to ignore it originally. That was under Ronald Reagan. Though Bully Boy is more comfortable saying the name, he's no more comfortable approaching the issues honestly and, I belive, we will look back on his two terms and realize that they not only wasted money but harmed many people by devoting talk and monies to junk science. I've lost all respect for Bono as a result of his inability to call out the nonsense of the Bully Boy and, as a gay friend pointed out, his reluctance to address AIDS seriously himself. (Highlighting pediatric AIDS was the easiest way to note the disease in the eighties. Bono appears determined to go that route again. It may get the right-wing churches on his side but it ignores a huge portion of the affected population and, intentionally or not, sets up the implication that there are 'noble' victims and there are those who get 'what they deserve.')

"Wife of Marine Says Troops At Haditha Were Likely On Speed" (Democracy Now!):
However the wife of one of the staff sergeants involved in the Haditha killings has told Newsweek that there was a total breakdown in discipline including drug and alcohol abuse within the Marine unit. She said "I think it's more than possible that these guys were totally tweaked out on speed or something when they shot those civilians in Haditha."

No time left to review that item. Hopefully, it speaks for itself.