• People Talk and My Ear Bleeds


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    Tuesday, August 30, 2005

    Hurricane Katrina

    I was deeply touched by the story of Harvey Jackson at CNN.com. Please, everyone watch the 1 minute video. Go to CNN and click on the "browse/search" video link. Type in "heartache." The video to watch is "Heartache for hurricane victim" (1:07).

    Hurricane Katrina is shaping up to be one of the worst hurricanes in recent history (by recent I mean the last 100 years). I don't know what to say. In fact, I'm not going to say much at all, except that for me (whether it be my southern roots or something else...) hearing about Katrina brings up feelings of the tsunami that hit asia last year...all I can think about is hoping people make it through the destruction ok.

    Since i don't want to defame a sombering time, here's some blogs about the hurricane:

    Nola.com is all about New Orleans, written by a Times-Picayune writer, and has all the necessary info about the storm, how to help, how to survive the aftermath, and what it was like to live through it.

    here's an interesting post at Deadlykatrina.com. Very sad, very sad. Good updated blog.

    interesting live journal from Katrinacane. Give it a try.

    Really, someone already beat me to the punch. If you're interested in what bloggers are saying from Katrina's wake...go to this post on artsjournal.com.

    I pray for peace and safety and health on all those who suffered through this and for all those who may have lost a loved one in this disaster.

    Free Opera Registration

    You probably remember how much I love Opera. The Opera Web Browser, that is. Partly because I think IE is way behind the times, and partly because I'm not a fan of microsoft anyway.

    But regardless of my personal beliefs, Opera has turned 10 years old. As a gift, it is giving away free registration codes to anyone who wants one until the party ends (midnight, EST, 1 Sept 2005).

    So, to get a free version of Opera, go to the party website and click on the "go free now!" button in the top right part of your screen. You'll go to a page where you can send Opera an email. They will send you a response with a registration code.

    The other way of getting the code is to send an email to registerme "at" opera "dot" com (wrote it like that to keep the spammerbots from finding the address).

    Have fun with your new, full version of Opera 8.0!!

    Monday, August 29, 2005

    Some things I think I think

    Ok, I plagarized the title (sort of) from Peter King of Sports Illustrated. It fits this post.

    1. I think Brigitte Quinn is a horrible anchor and I am dumber every time I watch her.

    Has anyone ever bothered to watch CNN and FOX around the same time? I compared coverage about Hurricane Katrina this morning (8-9am MST) and found drastic differences in the type of coverage. FOX was all fluff...ugh.

    2. I think CNN Headline News beats Brigitte in the idiocy category with Nancy Grace.

    Ok, Greta Van Susteren has covered Natalie Holoway as if she were Greta's own daughter, and yes, her bottom jaw never moves when she talks, but at least she doesn't state the obvious, ask stupid questions she answers herself, and wastes my brain cells to the same extent that Nancy does. Just thinking of it makes me want to slit my wrists.

    2a. And what's with having to get another blond chick to do the legal spot anyway? A mirror image of Greta? Come on, I want someone different. We don't get enough of an Asian perspective. Where are the Asian male lawyers?? I want a Viet law anchor...

    3. I think we should all download Google Talk.

    Right now, it's a little minimalistic on the attributes, but with it's open source code and tie-in to everything else google, I predict it will soon be the Instant Messenger of choice. It will have the ability to connect to Yahoo! Messenger and AIM and Microsoft very soon and then nobody will mind switching over their large buddy lists.

    4. We should all buy Google stock.

    They have a search engine, and desktop tool that they want to be indispensible, and a new IM...and 1.5 million new shares of stock in order to raise $4 billion in capital. Can anybody say Google OS by 2010?

    5. I HATE Provo during the Fall.

    Every year, at the end of August, new freshman and returning students descend on the small, quiet town of Provo, UT in droves. Like locusts they suffocate ME and others who live here during the summer, buying all the food at the stores, renting over-crowded dilapidated apartments for outrageously high prices, and turning a great campus and city into a nightmare. I almost got hit three times last night as blond-haired girls in Abercrombie & Fitch shirts zipped around carelessly in their daddy's-money BMWs. I'm getting sicker...

    6. BYU's Administration more than offsets in stupidity the brilliance of it's professors and students.

    I have been at BYU since 1998, and every year I am amazed that BYU's administration can get stupider. You'd think there'd be a law of diminishing returns somewhere. I.E. if you do enough stupid things, change in stupidity gets less each time. However, there's not. BYU administration has heard for years that parking is horrible (because of Provo) and last year they raised parking prices to cover free bus passes. That was fiscally responsible. But they follow it up this year with free parking passes and $60 bus passes. Illogical?? I think so. Now, everyone and their dog tries to drive up to campus, filling all the parking spots, the streets, and wherever else they can park.

    It took me 40 minutes to find a parking spot today, and I have an "A" sticker (which means I, as staff, can park anywhere). I hope somebody in the administration gets fired.

    Here's some pics of the congestion in this once peaceful university...

    Intersection at my house.

    A once empty parking lot (see how they expanded onto dirt).

    Our nemesis the Provo Parking guy who tickets all those parked illegaly on the side of the street.

    Even the faculty lot was totally full.

    Reminds me of Vietnam.

    Like ants in a hive, they swarm like pests.

    7. Finally, I think Vietnam's freeing of 28 Montagnards in celebration of 60 years of independence on 2 Sept 2005 is shallow and weak. This measure doesn't change the record of human rights violations. I will have more on this in another post.

    Friday, August 26, 2005

    Lance Armstrong

    Why is there such deep animosity between the Americans and French?? America won its freedom because the French helped us by attacking the English navy and making a war against the colonies too costly for the empire to maintain. Years later, the Americans became the straw that broke the camel's back and pushed Germany to capitulate in World War I. A mere twenty-something years later, our invasion onto the beaches of Normandy with the British spelled the first death-throes in an evil Nazi Germany occupation and the eventual second liberation of France.

    Do the French feel they are less manly or strong because America played a large role in liberating France twice in recent history?? Do Americans feel hurt in their "we are the only superpower" machismo because we owe our genesis to a country that we had to bail out twice?? Or maybe it's culinary--American cuisine will never have the taste or become the art that is French cuisine.

    Whatever the reason (and we could extend this into Vietnam...that American's harbor animosity to France because we had to bail them out in Indochina only to take a beating ourselves for almost 20 years after Dien Bien Phu), L'Equipe, has taken this absurd rivalry to cycling with its often written accusations about AMERICAN and 7-time Tour de FRANCE winner Lance Armstrong taking banned substances. Does he dope? Use EPO? Other performance enhancing drugs?

    I am saddened by the newspaper's lack of ethics. The cycling world is already divided between those who see doping as universal, and thus Armstrong obviously doped like everyone else, and those who see Armstrong's genetic and physical gifts as his claim to fame. It will always be that way. What cycling doesn't need is a pissant newspaper huffing and puffing about something that does not matter. The samples used for testing were B samples.

    Working in a microbiology lab, I feel very qualified to tell everyone that the way something is stored can drastically alter its constituent parts, and even something like a typical freeze-thaw freezer can destroy any biological sample. Without an A sample to compare it to, and meticulous records detailing how the sample was stored over the last seven years, and research on the stability of EPO in Urine while frozen, makes even the slightest accusation nothing more than mudslinging.

    There are many reasons for the heightened level of EPO recorded, not the least of which could be residual EPO from Armstrong's chemotherapy. Another reasonable explanation is that yes, he did use it. Ultimately, nothing can be proven, except that Lance Armstrong did what no man has ever done--win 7 tours--and on French soil. A prideful France must be stung by a prideful American winning something a Frenchman has not won for almost 20 years.

    I wish all the accusations would go away. The tour next year will be wide open, and one of the most entertaining in recent history. Let Armstrong ride off into the sunset and embrace the new generation of cyclists. More importantly, address not old doping allegations, but the fact that cycling will continue to be suspect as long as doping is not curbed in the here and now. The sucess of Armstrong is merely the whited wall hiding the rot of pervasive drug use in the sport. And most importantly, let's all put down the pride that ruins what could be a great friendship between the French and American people. Lord knows there's too much pride in this world anyway.

    Tuesday, August 23, 2005

    A Modern Polish Corridor

    This week Israel completed it's historic pullout from the Gaza Strip. In all, about 8500 Israeli settlers were evacuated from a strip of land containing about 1.3 million Palestinians. Israel occupied the Palestinian land during the war in 1967 against Egypt because it thought the Palestinians might be sympathetic to the Arab Egyptian cause. It moved in the settlers to form a border of settlements as a security measure.

    We have all heard recently about how the settlements have become a liability and Israel is pulling out. As I looked on the map I noticed that it looked remarkably similar to another map I had seen many times in my history classes.Now I understand the limitations of drawing parallels between different times, places, and wars. Obviously there are things that do not add up, however, by looking at the similarities, we can then judge more correctly whether the differences will impact the causation and results of the situation.

    Before World War I, Germany controlled a large expanse of territory in Europe. For many reasons we will not get into here, Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated, Austria declared war on Serbia, entagling alliances caused many other nations to become involved, and four years later millions of people were dead and Germany was divided. The map on the right shows the post-WWI divisions.

    What is significant about the map is that ethnic Germans lived in a large expanse of land not readily connected. In the west, Germany stood large, although it lost Alsace-Lorraine. In the east, Germany was separated from East Prussia by the Polish Corridor. The Polish Corridor was predominatly ethnically Polish, however, East Prussia was almost exclusively German. To deal with this connundrum, the League of Nations decided to allow Germans free movement across the Polish Corridor, and make Danzig and it's surrounding area a "Free City" under administration by the League of Nations.

    SO, at the end of World War I German-speaking people were divided arbitrarily by an outside power into two uncontiguous parts, separated by an ethnically different area and an ethnically similar area. Danzig was predominantly German. The 1923 census showed that people in the area who were 100% German made up 348,493 of the 366,730 inhabitants (95%).

    Throughout the 1920s and 30s, the Nazi party used the feeling of disenfranchisement to stoke the feelings of the German people and take power. The party repeatedly brought up the image of a backstabbed people, where the government sold them out when great Germany was on the brink of winning the war. Because of this, Hitler gained 37% of the vote in 1932 and the Nazi party became the largest party in the Reichstag. In 1933 the Nazi Party took over Danzig.

    A large part of Hitler's justification for invading Poland was Danzig and East Prussia. He successfully bullied the rest of Europe in obtaining Checkoslovakia, and assumed that Britain and others would sit around and bellow but do nothing else when he took the Polish Corridor. Hitler argued that Germany was wronged to lose the Corridor, Germany needed liebensraum, it needed a connection between itself and East Prussia, and Danzig--already Nazi controlled and 95% German--should be returned to its ethnic motherland. If Britain and others did nothing about Anschluss, Sudetenland, and the rest of Checkoslovakia, why would it do anything about such a small piece of land as Danzig and the Polish Corridor?

    Ultimately, the world did have a problem with Hitler occupying the Polish Corridor, and six years later 47 million soldiers and civilians on both sides lay dead as the allies rolled into Berlin. "Where are you going with this?" You ask. In 1948, history started to repeat itself, and we have been trying to hold back the floodwaters ever since. In 1948, a foreign country arbitrarily went into Palestine and divided it against the will of the Palestinians (see picture on the left).
    In miniscule, Britain did to Palestine what the League of Nations did to Germany. It divided what had been a predominantly ethnically and religiously homogenous area into semi-contiguous areas with Jerusalem occupied and ran by the United Nations. Before this time, early zionist Jews had lived in harmony with the Palestinians under Palestinian law. Britain, bowing to demands of vocal Jews outside Palestine and the guilt felt by not stopping Hitler from causing the holocaust, set up the modern Israeli state.

    Now Israel is backing out of the predominantly Palestinian Gaza Strip, and out of some parts of the West Bank. What does this accomplish?? Eventually this sets up a Palestinian state with two uncontiguous parts separated by an ethnically and religously different state that also happens to harbor extreme animosity for the Palestinians. Is there any surprise that ultra-nationalistic groups (like the Nazis were) wield large amounts of power in both the Israeli and Palestinan camps? It has taken over 50 years to stall what the Treaty of Versailles accomplished in a day, but only with copious amounts of intervention on both sides and not without a good dose of bloodshed. Will this situation turn out like its historical forebear (one country invading the other under a nationalistic government under the pretext of unifying a country arbitrarily divided by a foreign power)? How long will it take before this happens? Would the feeling of kindred between Arab nations and Muslims work as strong as the old-world alliances that caused World War I and II? Can humanity afford another world war where the lines are divided with mostly Arab/Muslim nations on one side (and probably China/North Korea) and US/Britain (probably India/Japan too) on the other?

    I hope it doesn't turn out the way it did 66 years ago, but my hope is dim. Too much animosity, even if only among fringe groups. It only took a group of 8 assassins to kill archduke Ferdinand and light the powderkeg of animosity between Austria-Hungary and Serbia and envelope all of Europe in war for almost 30 years. I would not be surprised to see a similar scenario play out here.

    Tuesday, August 16, 2005

    My wife is coming home

    My wife flies home tomorrow. She will arrive in Utah late Wednesday. Finally, after 7 long weeks in Vietnam, she is returning. I didn't understand how much I'd miss her until now. My place has calmed down, cousins and other relatives returned to their homes, and I am all alone...waiting for my wife. I love her tremendously. Here are some pictures of the resort she stayed at in Phan Thiet. I would love to add pics of my wife and family, but she would kill me ...

    This is the bird at the dining room that always said "Welcome."

    This is a shot over the rooftops towards the beach.

    This is the pool at their resort.

    My wife said everyone loved the beaches and the city once they got used to the smell of nước mắm.

    Saturday, August 13, 2005

    The end of the standoff.

    It looks like my sources were far more correct than the MSM. Score one for The Bleeding Ear. The standoff is finally over, and as you can see from the full story on KUTV.com, this blogger shows again why blogging beats the mainstream media. Oh well, no accolades for me. Hardly anyone will ever know--heck, it's Happy Valley for crying out loud! Anyway, at least it ended peacefully.


    A friend of a good friend of mine starting VietACT--Vietnamese Alliance to Combat Human Trafficking. I am not a member, but I do keep tabs on VietACT's progress. It has done amazing things for being such a small, new NGO.

    When I was in Vietnam last summer, my friend Phuong spent time in every city we visited to look for people and make contacts beneficial in the cessation of human trafficking in Vietnam. Often Vietnamese women are promised work in Taiwan, Cambodia, or China in return for signing contracts or paying a large fee to move to the new country. Once there, the "employers" back out of the contracts and sell them to men who want Vietnamese brides or make them work for far less than what the contract said.

    My first experience with this situation was while living in Garden Grove, CA two years ago. I read in the newspaper about around 40 women that were brought to America to testify in court against their employer who had enslaved them. Coincidentally, a couple months later, I ran into five of the women, and got to know them over a month or two. They were genuine good people, duped into moving to Samoa for work. Often, they said, Viet women would be forced to sign contracts saying that they would be paid only upon completion of two years of work. Before the two years were up, a Samoan guard would push a worker into the machines, causing horrible disfiguration or death, and causing the contract to be null and void. The woman, if still able to work, would have to sign another contract in order to get the promise of money for her family, and inevitably, the same thing would happen two years later.

    One of the women I knew worked as a nurse at the Samoan factory, and nearly cried every time she told a story about a girl who endured this punishment. When she tried to help some, guards threatened to break her hands too.

    You can read about the results of their specific trial here and here.

    Unfortunately, Vietnamese women are still misled to believe they can make money and send it back to their families. Or, they agree to marry Taiwanese men thinking they can send money back to their families, but then they reach Taiwan and are severely beaten by their husbands. They are kept as prisoners in their own homes. They do not know Taiwanese, so they have no clue how to talk to anyone or find out that what their husbands are doing in illegal.

    Or little children are stolen and taken to Phnom Phen or Bangkok and forced into the sex trade.

    Regardless of the head, this chimera is ugly. For those who agree with my friends and I that human trafficking is modern slavery, should be stopped, and want to help, drop by the VietACT website.

    There's a standoff in front of my house right now

    There's a standoff in front of my house right now. The crazy part is the news agencies know almost nothing about it. Usually FOX, NBC, CBS, etc. are chomping at the bit to talk about something like this...especially in "Happy Valley" (the Utah Valley that I live in).

    The only news agency to say anything about it is KUTV channel 2. Their story is all of five sentences long. BOOORRRINNNGG.

    I'll give you my viewpoint. I came back from getting my hair cut and stopped off to gas up (and put oil in) my car at the Chevron station at 5th West and 8th North. As I approached the intersection, I could see two cop cars with lights on, blocking the road and the cops directing traffic back east on 800N. So, I, coming north on 500W, turned onto 8th N and quickly into the gas station to gas up. While buying oil for my old rig, the two nice girls working the cash registers told me about the situation.

    Evidently, a little earlier, a white blazer had blown by on 5th north. The police must have been chasing him, because they set out spikes that stopped him cold at the hospital. However, when told to get out of the car, the man pulled a gun and threatened to shoot himself or others while putting the gun to his head.

    The kind girls at Chevron were hoping that the action would move down one block in front of them so they could see it all unfold.

    KUTV reports only
    Police tell 2News that a man pulled out a gun while sitting inside his car in the hospital parking lot. ...Officials have tried to talk the man out of the car, but he will not give in."
    That's very undescriptive, but could fit with the eyewitness accounts I heard earlier.

    I gassed up about 2:30pm, and it had already been going on for some time. I'm writing this at 5:55pm MDT, and the SWAT team still hasn't done much.

    The eerie part was when I came to work. I drove out 940N because that street runs right by the hospital and I wanted to see how badly it was blocked off. It wasn't. There were cops at every intersection, but they had 940N (the street on the south side of the hospital) still open, even though the West entrance to the hospital was closed, and that's only 100yds or so from 940N. As I drove east, I passed all the south parking lots, and a couple other cop cars. I was the only car on the road moving east. It was eerily quiet. On other streets around Provo the noise is normal. Lots of cars moving to and fro. However, in this little 1 block radius around the hospital it was dead quiet. No words, no cars, no birds, nothing.

    I couldn't help think of what would happen should I catch a stray bullet. A truly fragile mortality does wonders for your respect for life. Perhaps that's the real reason I felt compelled to write about this event. Our life is so tạm thời. We must use every minute, every giây phút to the utmost, giving back to our fellow human beings, so that when we stand before our maker, the Almighty, we can look Him in the eye and say "I did not waste my time. I made a difference for my fellow beings."

    Tuesday, August 09, 2005

    Crazy Life

    I blog from a gateway laptop, but I wish I had this.

    So I haven't written much in the last week. I am insanely busy. Sorry to all those who drop by The Bleeding Ear for my absence. Lately, the "wee beasties" as my old Irish Microbiolgy professor used to call them, have been giving me the fits. I am trying to grow up a new strain of HaCat epithelial cells for use in my synthetic skin models, but they are acting as onery as the two-year-olds I watch every Sunday in my church's nursery.

    When I'm not putting 50-60 hours of work into the lab, I've been working on my secondary applications to medical school. Just sent off Washington University today. I'm sure you can all understand the importance of applying in a timely manner and excuse my absence from blogging.

    That said, I wish to pontificate a little about Phan Văn Khải, the illustrious prime minister of Việt Nam.

    About a month ago, monsieur Phan Văn Khải visited the United States and toured the country. He is the first leader of Vietnam to visit the USA since 1975. While here, PM Khai met President Bush and discussed how the U.S.A can help Việt Nam join the WTO. That was his ultimate goal. Vietnam's economy has skyrocketed since the United States reduced embargoes on Vietnamese goods in the late 1990s. Now, exports to America account for 30% total Vietnamese exports. This is seen very poignantly by myself and my wife. Returning back to Vietnam, she was amazed at the inflation that had occured over the last five years. A bowl of phở that was once 3000 VND is now 10000VND. More people than ever are driving cars on the crowded Saigon streets, and affluence, while not mainstream, is healthy enough to support a market for $500 USD cell phones.

    Granted, the economic growth comes with problems. See the above link to the article in The Economist. But it also primed the pump for PM Khải's desire to join the WTO. What's holding them back? Human Rights. This isn't new either. Anyone who followed Khải's visit to America has seen the demonstrators heckle him over violations. President Bush privately admonished Khải to do more.

    So what do the Vietnamese think of Khải's visit to America?? Well, the omniscient state-run news had very favorable things to say, but they always do. What good would a state-run agency be, if it didn't stroke the ego of the state? The word on the streets of Saigon, however, seems to be different. I hear from my friends in Saigon that some people question the success of the move, because PM Phan Văn Khải turned immediately to China after his American trip. Within a week he was visiting the provinces directly above Vietnam under the cover of inspecting them for commerce, however, much talk between him and the Chinese focused on similar things to his wants in America: 1) how can China help Vietnam get into the WTO when America doesn't, and 2) how can Vietnam have a neutered internet like China. For all his talk on great strides towards freedom, these actions don't seem to say the same things.

    I seem to think the same way as my friends in Saigon. Although the press says the mission to the USA went well, his actions seem to belay an underlying fear that the USA will not support Vietnam (possibly an 11th hour defection?) entering the WTO because it has not cleaned up its human right's act well enough and cannot do so in time.

    Wednesday, August 03, 2005

    Boner of the Day

    X96 radio station in Salt Lake City, Utah has a segment during their morning show called "Boner of the Day." The DJs scour the news for utterly stupid things and then put three on a day. Listeners vote for the dumbest of the three, and on Friday, the four winners from Monday-Thursday are pitted against each other for a "Boner of the Week" prize.

    Well, I was reading this story on Fox and realized this is a definite boner candidate.
    FRESNO, Calif. — Maribel Cuevas (search) was arrested in April for throwing a two-pound rock at a neighborhood boy who had pelted her with a water balloon. The rock gashed the boy's forehead, and the girl spent five days in Fresno's juvenile hall (search) and a month under house arrest after police said she resisted arrest and scratched an officer's arm.

    ...Maribel maintains she was playing on the sidewalk with her 6-year-old brother on April 29 when Elijah rode by on his bike with a half-dozen neighborhood boys, who splattered them with water balloons.

    The girl threw a rock that police later described as "jagged" and measuring 5.5 inches by 3.75 inches and it hit Elijah on the head, opening a gash that required stitches. While she ran to find Elijah's parents, a neighbor called 911.
    My coworker, DJ described it like this:
    "That's insane! Every ten-year-old kid throws rocks!

    They throw rocks at people!
    They throw rocks at cars!
    They throw rocks at animals!
    They throw rocks at nothing!
    Heck, I still throw rocks!"
    I couldn't have said it better myself, DJ. Throwing a rock in response to an unsolicited water balloon attack may not have been the best response, but it is definitely not worthy of a felony charge.

    I am not one who likes to play the race card alot, but I feel strongly that if it had been a 11-year-old white girl throwing the rock, we wouldn't be having this trial.

    Tuesday, August 02, 2005

    Mercury in fish

    Well, it looks like the government has been keeping information from us. I can't wait for the class-action lawsuits. Apparently this isn't new news, but it was new and shocking to me--tuna is incredibly high in mercury.

    If you don't know, the limit for mercury in a human body is 1 microgram of mercury per gram of hair (why they measure hair, I don't know...perhaps it's easier to extract the mercury). The Wall Street Journal reports it another way:
    The maximum mercury ingestion the EPA deems safe is one microgram a day for each 22 pounds of body weight.
    All this means we Americans ingest too much mercury, and we get it from fish. For years we have heard about the benefits of omega-3-fatty acids, and why we should all eat fish, fish, fish. Well, yes, omega-3-fatty acids are beneficial, but as our mommas used to tell us, "everything in moderation." Case in point? See what's happened to Atkins Nutritionals Inc. since people realized that the diet really wasn't that healthy after all.

    The crux is this: The Wall Street Journal reports that
    The federal advisory said that nursing mothers and women who are pregnant or may become so should eat no more than 12 ounces of chunk light tuna a week. For solid white albacore, which is higher in mercury, it set a six-ounce weekly limit. Young children, it said, should eat "smaller portions." No advice was given for men or older women...If a 130-pound woman ate as much albacore tuna as the joint federal advisory allows, she would exceed that safe level by 40%.
    The actual joint FDA/EPA advisory says this:
    A well-balanced diet that includes a variety of fish and shellfish can contribute to heart health and children's proper growth and development. So, women and young children in particular should include fish or shellfish in their diets due to the many nutritional benefits.

    However, nearly all fish and shellfish contain traces of mercury... some fish and shellfish contain higher levels of mercury that may harm an unborn baby or young child's developing nervous system...Therefore, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are advising women who may become pregnant, pregnant women, nursing mothers, and young children to avoid some types of fish and eat fish and shellfish that are lower in mercury.
    Now doesn't that seem contradictory to you??

    So, if you follow the FDA/EPA recommendation of 12oz canned light tuna a week or 6 oz albacore tuna, you'd still have 40% more mercury than the EPA says is healthy. And this isn't just canned tuna, but also tuna steaks, shark, swordfish, lobster, etc. Most larger fish.

    The Natural Resources Council of Maine reports that mercury levels exceeded the EPA limit in 21% of childbearing women nationally and 44% of women in Maine in late 2004.

    The Wall Street Journal continues,
    The tuna industry has continued to aim some marketing at pregnant women and kids. An ad sponsored by the U.S. Tuna Foundation last year, which specified the new federal consumption guidelines, reassured "pregnant and nursing women and young children" that canned tuna "is absolutely safe to eat." Extolling the benefits of fish's omega-3 fatty acids for babies' eyes and brains, the ad said: "No government study has ever found unsafe levels of mercury in women or young children who eat canned tuna."

    ...At [a hearing in 2003], FDA scientists said they had put fish in three categories: high in mercury, medium and low. The level for the low-mercury group was that of canned light tuna, explained FDA official Clark Carrington. "In order to keep the market share at a reasonable level, we felt like we had to keep light tuna in the low-mercury group," he said, according to the meeting's official transcript.

    Later, the FDA's Dr. Acheson reiterated that point. He told the meeting the fish categories "were arbitrarily chosen to put light tuna in the low category."

    Says Maine's Dr. Rice: "Here's the FDA making what are supposed to be scientific decisions on the basis of market share. What else is there to say?"
    The risk for pregnant mothers may be greater.
    The EPA's exposure limit is based on its calculation that mercury above 5.8 parts per billion in young women's bloodstreams may pose a danger to their babies. By this measure, 5.7% of U.S. infants, or 228,000 a year, could be at risk of mercury poisoning during gestation, based on the latest blood survey of women of childbearing age by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    The maximum safe level might be lower still, says the EPA's top mercury risk assessor, Kathryn Mahaffey, based on recent evidence that fetuses concentrate more mercury in their blood than do their pregnant mothers.
    The EPA still isn't doing much to recify the situation. The Washington Post reports that the EPA ignored key research published by its own scientists in conjunction with Harvard supporting more stringent controls on mercury emissions.
    The Harvard study concluded that mercury controls similar to those the EPA proposed could save nearly $5 billion a year through reduced neurological and cardiac harm.
    Instead, the EPA ignored its own research and enacted less stringent controls on U.S. manufacturing plants.

    All in all, it will be the children that take the brunt of this fiasco. Matthew Davis, the Wall Street Journal reports, abruptly lost interest in school, couldn't do arithmatic or catch a football, and his fingers started to curl as a result of eating canned tuna.
    Today, nearly two years after Matthew quit eating albacore tuna, his blood-mercury level is zero and his condition is dramatically improved. Although his doctors don't know if he had any permanent damage, signs so far are that he didn't. Sports and homework come much easier again.

    Monday, August 01, 2005

    Checkmate, President Bush!

    Well done president! You got your nominee. I'm not sure I agree with Bolton in the UN, but it was a fine political move you made to install him as UN ambassador.

    Coincidentally, Clinton made 140 recess appointments to Bush's 106, but I guess G.W. still has a couple years to try and top that. I like this recess appointment thing. It allows some work to be done by the government. The Senate has lost my confidence, as they have become a bickering band of school children--two classes fighting over the same toys. Very puerile.

    I watched Sometimes in April last night. Great film about the Rwandan genocide. It uses actual footage of our media coverage in some areas. Really shows how the political process is screwed up. My favorite line comes when the white house spokeswoman (Clinton was president during the genocide) addressed the reporters and said "acts of genocide" have taken place. A reporter asked what was the difference between "acts of genocide" and "genocide," because the second word requires the UN to move into the country and restore order.

    Her response was to read the UN definition of genocide which is defined in the 1948 treaty as acts of mass killing, committing bodily injury, or putting people in a place as to eradicate their race. Then the reporter asks a classic line.

    "So, if you say that these acts of genocide are taking place, how many acts are needed before it becomes genocide?"

    So, the UN (and America) did nothing and now John Bolton is our amabassador to it. Maybe he'll clean up the mess. If not, he can't make it any worse than it already is.