Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Salon: Man-Hating Central

Ah, Salon. You can always count on them for a good dose of man-hating bias.


July 29, 2013 by Robert Franklin, Esq.
One of the key elements influencing the decline of marriage and the marginalization of men in families has always been their description in the mass communications media and popular culture. Mostly, those depictions are both shockingly anti-father and factually inaccurate. The feminist song has been, at least since the 1960s, that men are a danger to women and their children, so the two are better off without them. Just why the various communications media have so unquestioningly sung the same refrain, despite its patent inaccuracy is one to ponder. But whatever the answer to that question might be, one common way the choir keeps singing is to simply leave out the male voices. After all, it’s a lot easier to denigrate men in their absence, and to allow them to speak might suggest that they’re human beings with wants, needs, vulnerabilities, strengths and legitimate grievances. And we can’t have that, now can we.
The reliably anti-father is always good for an example of the above, as here(, 7/27/13). The piece is written by one Jennifer M. Silva who gets things off with a bang by quoting approvingly Lillian Rubin who, in 1976, defined what women and men get out of marriage and parenthood.
For her, the realization of her womanhood—a home and family of her own. For him, the fulfillment of his manhood—a wife to care for him, sons to emulate him, and daughters to adore him.
Stated another way, “women good, men bad, very bad.” I don’t know the state of social science in 1976 regarding mothers and fathers and what they seek in marriage, but I know what it is now, and, to put it mildly, that’s not it. I can excuse Rubin, but Silva’s ignorant misandry is contemptible.
I suppose it’s worth noting that Silva reaches back 37 years for her source. It’s too bad she didn’t consult more recent studies of men and fatherhood. Of course if she had, she’d have had to admit that they compare not a bit to Rubin’s condescending view and that, I suspect, is the point. Silva didn’t want to describe men accurately for to do so would have been inconvenient to her thesis.
The simple fact is that, as countless studies show, men don’t want “a wife to care for him, sons to emulate him, and daughters to adore him.” On the contrary, they seek the usual male role of provider and protector. Rubin and Silva’s man is all take and no give. The reality is mostly the opposite.
For example, read the excellent work of Kathryn Edin, Harvard professor of management and policy, who for years now has studied the youngest and poorest of fathers, i.e. teenagers of the lowest economic strata. Her description of those young men – boys actually – bears no resemblance to Rubin’s. Here’s an excerpt from an article about a speech Edin gave on the subject.
"Andre (a teen-age father) was no 'hit-and-run' father, making children as symbols of their sexual prowess," she said. "He was not yet out of high school, but he insisted that he will always be there for his daughter because he always wanted a child."
Many of the men surveyed viewed fatherhood as an act of bravery, Eden said, because they live in a crime-ridden area. The same year Green learned of his ex-girlfriend's pregnancy, for example, several violent homicides and robberies occurred in his neighborhood. One of these crimes was a double murder of a Vietnamese couple by a burglar who then took the couple's infant daughter hostage in a standoff with police.
"Fathers like Andre embrace fatherhood because raising a baby would seem heroic in contrast to the negativity around them," Edin said.
Several men described their children as "saints" or "redeemers," Edin said. Many of those surveyed said they would have continued to be involved with drugs and crime if not for their children. Some were incarcerated at the time they learned that they were going to be fathers.
Edin also found that low-income men set their own standards for good parenting, which may differ from those of society as a whole. She said many choose to focus on the non-financial aspects of fatherhood, including teaching their daughters about having relationships with men and their sons how to fight.
Hmm. Those young men don’t look much like Rubin’s description, do they? And of course they’re the youngest and poorest of dads, the ones who live in the worst neighborhoods and navigate the most treacherous waters to adulthood. Needless to say, other fathers, like those described by Sanford Braver, Ross Parke and Armin Brott, and countless others are much the same.
Reading Rubin and Silva, you’d never guess that between 25% and 75% of fathers experience couvade symptoms, i.e. symptoms of their partners during pregnancy. Nor would you know that, during their partner’s pregnancies, as Parke and Brott report, ”men show and increased interest in babies,” “start reading books about children and parenting,” or take second jobs to support the new arrival. Yes, newborns form attachment bonds with their fathers as strong as those with their mothers, but you’ll never hear it from Rubin or Silva.
Indeed, married men with children find those dual roles of husband and father, protector and provider to be as important and powerful as any they’ll ever take on. That’s one reason why the rate of suicide for men, but not women, shoots up in the event of divorce. Overwhelmingly, when they divorce, men lose their children, but women don’t and the summary destruction of those roles in turn destroys the father’s reason to live. But again, these inconvenient truths don’t interest either Rubin or Silva.
What does interest Silva is her interview with a 30-year-old woman of contemporary America whom she names Allie. Allie and boyfriend Jake got married and later divorced. Here’s Allie’s description of the big moment when Jake proposed.
We were at my parents’ house and he came downstairs and said, “Close your eyes, I have a surprise for you.” I was thinking he had candy or something. I probably would have been more excited about that. I could feel him in my face, like, “why are you so close to me?” and when I opened my eyes he was down on one knee with the ring. And I kind of, my heart sank, like this wasn’t special. . . . I’m in my pajamas and I look like hell. So you know I acted surprised but I was so disappointed and I felt horrible that I felt disappointed.
Silva’s goal in her article is, among other things, to prove that there’s a conflict between newly “liberated” women and marriage. The problem is that her poster child for her thesis is someone who (a) has never been interested in marriage and (b) apparently has the maturity level of a high school freshman. Face it, when a woman’s been together with a man for a good while and he gets down on bended knee, with an engagement ring in his hand and a proposal on his lips, and all she cares about is how she’s dressed, she’s not a good candidate for any endeavor that requires even slight emotional maturity. Allie herself admits as much.
Reflecting on their divorce, Allie sighed: “I feel like I am eighteen playing in the adult world.”
If you’re writing an article about the merits and demerits of marriage, she’s also not a good candidate to help you make your points. But again, Silva’s not trying to be even-handed; she’s trying to convince her readers that marriage and the modern world aren’t compatible, so, with that dubious goal in mind, she does the best she can. And that means hanging her hat on a young woman who has no comprehension of what a stable, married relationship can mean, not only to the partners, but to their children.
Given all that, are we surprised to learn that, despite Silva’s dedication of well over a thousand words to Allie, Jake never gets a word in? That’s right, although she could probably have asked Allie for Jake’s phone number and gotten a nice long interview with him, Silva didn’t make the effort. What would Jake have said about his desire for a life’s partner and children? We’ll never know because, as usual, when the subject is marriage and children, men and fathers aren’t allowed a voice by those who write about them.
And of course, having denied Jake any say in what she says about him, Silva is free to conclude what she always wanted to.
[H]e yearned for “a wife to care for him, sons to emulate him, and daughters to adore him”
Or he didn’t. We’ll never know, because Silva never asked.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Abortion - Its Come. To. This.

This is why they are doctors and not lawyers.

"Abortion is the same as killing, so instead of stopping abortion, we should allow for more killing."

I regard abortion as a necessarily evil, ONLY because unwanted children often grow up in squalor, become mentally and emotionally unstable, and lead a life of crime and destitution. Abortion ONLY IN CASES OF EMERGENCY - meaning you CAN NOT afford the child and will go homeless and hungry if you have him/her - does not seem out of line to me. The poor are poor enough as it is.

That said, abortion has COMPLETELY turned into a form of birth control and it is OUT OF CONTROL, just as underage sex, being had by veritable children, is.

The article below is a SIGN OF THE TIMES. Abortion on a LIVING BABY? Do you know that many people who are anti-abortion are so because they have seen live deliveries MURDERED (yes, that's what it is). Ron Paul for instance once explained that he had seen a baby with a heartbeat and breathing KILLED by another physician as part of an "abortion." As Ron put it, wait a second, that, my friends, IS MURDER.

This has gone far enough. Enough is enough.

The article, published in the Journal of Medical Ethics, says newborn babies are not “actual persons” and do not have a “moral right to life”. The academics also argue that parents should be able to have their baby killed if it turns out to be disabled when it is born.
The journal’s editor, Prof Julian Savulescu, director of the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, said the article's authors had received death threats since publishing the article. He said those who made abusive and threatening posts about the study were “fanatics opposed to the very values of a liberal society”.
The article, entitled “After-birth abortion: Why should the baby live?”, was written by two of Prof Savulescu’s former associates, Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva.
They argued: “The moral status of an infant is equivalent to that of a fetus in the sense that both lack those properties that justify the attribution of a right to life to an individual.”
Rather than being “actual persons”, newborns were “potential persons”. They explained: “Both a fetus and a newborn certainly are human beings and potential persons, but neither is a ‘person’ in the sense of ‘subject of a moral right to life’.
“We take ‘person’ to mean an individual who is capable of attributing to her own existence some (at least) basic value such that being deprived of this existence represents a loss to her.”
As such they argued it was “not possible to damage a newborn by preventing her from developing the potentiality to become a person in the morally relevant sense”.
The authors therefore concluded that “what we call ‘after-birth abortion’ (killing a newborn) should be permissible in all the cases where abortion is, including cases where the newborn is not disabled”.
They also argued that parents should be able to have the baby killed if it turned out to be disabled without their knowing before birth, for example citing that “only the 64 per cent of Down’s syndrome cases” in Europe are diagnosed by prenatal testing.
Once such children were born there was “no choice for the parents but to keep the child”, they wrote.
“To bring up such children might be an unbearable burden on the family and on society as a whole, when the state economically provides for their care.”
However, they did not argue that some baby killings were more justifiable than others – their fundamental point was that, morally, there was no difference to abortion as already practised.
They preferred to use the phrase “after-birth abortion” rather than “infanticide” to “emphasise that the moral status of the individual killed is comparable with that of a fetus”.
Both Minerva and Giubilini know Prof Savulescu through Oxford. Minerva was a research associate at the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics until last June, when she moved to the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics at Melbourne University.
Giubilini, a former visiting student at Cambridge University, gave a talk in January at the Oxford Martin School – where Prof Savulescu is also a director – titled 'What is the problem with euthanasia?'
He too has gone on to Melbourne, although to the city’s Monash University. Prof Savulescu worked at both univerisities before moving to Oxford in 2002.
Defending the decision to publish in a British Medical Journal blog, Prof Savulescu, said that arguments in favour of killing newborns were “largely not new”.
What Minerva and Giubilini did was apply these arguments “in consideration of maternal and family interests”.
While accepting that many people would disagree with their arguments, he wrote: “The goal of the Journal of Medical Ethics is not to present the Truth or promote some one moral view. It is to present well reasoned argument based on widely accepted premises.”
Speaking to The Daily Telegraph, he added: “This “debate” has been an example of “witch ethics” - a group of people know who the witch is and seek to burn her. It is one of the most dangerous human tendencies we have. It leads to lynching and genocide. Rather than argue and engage, there is a drive is to silence and, in the extreme, kill, based on their own moral certainty. That is not the sort of society we should live in.”
He said the journal would consider publishing an article positing that, if there was no moral difference between abortion and killing newborns, then abortion too should be illegal.
Dr Trevor Stammers, director of medical ethics at St Mary's University College, said: "If a mother does smother her child with a blanket, we say 'it's doesn't matter, she can get another one,' is that what we want to happen?
"What these young colleagues are spelling out is what we would be the inevitable end point of a road that ethical philosophers in the States and Australia have all been treading for a long time and there is certainly nothing new."
Referring to the term "after-birth abortion", Dr Stammers added: "This is just verbal manipulation that is not philosophy. I might refer to abortion henceforth as antenatal infanticide."

The Fog of War

Bear in mind these are just soldiers trying to do their jobs.

And when you are being shot at daily, and burying friends, a lot of things that are not weapons sure start to look like weapons.

All of these people seem to be civilians. Two were Reuters reporters. Family men.

They were all killed.

Monday, July 29, 2013

The 2013 woman: I Want to Stay Home and Have Kids


Don't let those misogynists keep you home against your will!

We can't compromise

Posted by Meredith Goldstein  July 29, 2013 08:33 AM

Q:Hi Meredith,
I have been seeing my boyfriend for almost two years. We are both in our mid-to-late 20s and have been living together for about a year. I love my boyfriend and in some ways can easily see marrying him. He's fun, funny, loves his job, and really wants to build a life together. However, I ran into an ex recently, and it's made me question things.
My relationship with my boyfriend, I'll call him B, has gone through some ups and downs over the past year due to different desires for our futures, which are heavily influenced by our upbringings. His family went through some tough times financially, both of his parents worked, and as a result, B has a kind of chip on his shoulder about people with money. It's actually caused some contention between him and my parents, so that's not a great relationship. He was raised in a house where swearing was allowed; it wasn't in mine. B also just generally hates getting together with his family, whereas I am freakishly close with mine. As much as B dislikes his family get-togethers, he envisions a similar life for himself. He wants a small house in the town where he grew up, wants to be able to swear at the TV in front of his kids, and expects that both parents will work to support the family. There is absolutely nothing wrong with what he wants, but I'm not sure I see all of it for me. We try to compromise when we talk about future things, but lately it's been a lot of "no" from B.

For example, a bunch of my female coworkers had babies this year and almost all of them want to stay home and be the at-home mom now. 

I mentioned this to B, telling him how my mom loved staying home to raise us and how I think I might want to try it, at least for a year. 

Another couple we know had kids and the wife left teaching for 10 years and then returned, so I figure it is possible to do. 

B's response was a flat, "No, we won't be able to afford it. Both my parents worked, you'll be fine."
A few weeks later I was out with some friends when I ran into an ex-boyfriend from graduate school -- I'll call him G. G and I broke up due to busy schedules, but we were really on the same page in terms of personalities, life desires, etc. We grew up a town apart, were both raised by stay-at-home moms, are the same religion, have the same sense of humor, etc. We caught up quickly, and when I got home I had an email from him saying that he wants me to be happy with B, but he knows that he can make me happy too and if I'm ever available he will be there. I know that with G, I will be able to have the life I envision, but that shouldn't be the determining factor in a relationship. It should be the person.
I've tried to discuss this with B, but his answer is always "we'll deal with it when the time comes." I just feel like there are all these not-quite issues yet that will blow up one day. Any advice would be great!
– Teacher Without an Answer, Boston

A:The philosophical differences in this relationship don't bother me very much. What bothers me is how B deals. He can't just say no and expect you to follow his lead. That's not going to work.
You need to be with someone who will talk this stuff out instead of shutting you down. Sometimes it's cheaper to stay home with a kid, right? Is his objection to stay-at-home parenting just about the money -- or does he need to be with someone who prioritizes work as much as he does?
I know it's difficult, but you have to forget about G for the moment. You live with your boyfriend, and G is just a distraction. Spend your energy asking B whether he really sees the two of you working as a couple in the future. You both want a certain kind of life and there's no "dealing with it when the time comes." This is why we date -- to figure out how a long-term relationship with someone might work.

And for the record, choosing a partner isn't just about picking a specific person. It is about choosing a life. If you and B simply want different things, it's OK to walk away.
Readers? Is G a factor in this decision? What do we think of B’s negotiating skills? Is there a future here? Discuss.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Agree or Disagree, Also Valid Points Here

I have A LOT of problems with this video, but they make the 'other side' of the gun argument, most certainly. And they do make some points, even some I agree with. The 2nd part of this video series is a bit better, pointing out that its possible to shoot an intruder who may be a loved one in the kitchen getting a snack (ALWAYS know exactly what you are shooting at), as well as points out that police have shot bystanders accidentally.

The interviewer conducts some very interesting research here, but I'm suspicious on several grounds.

This whole scenario smells of entrapment - that is, setting up people in a situation in which you know they will look terrible and be exposed because of who you have selected and the environment you have put them in.

1) People who are not comfortable carrying guns, do not carry them for a reason. They are afraid of them, do not WANT to handle them, do not trust them, and do not EVER plan to use them. For those reasons, they are AWFUL when called on to use them and use them injudiciously, harming themselves, usually.

A statistic ignored in this video: most of the accidental gun wounds and deaths happen to gun owners, not random strangers standing next to them. This is typically from not properly enabling the weapon's safety and shooting themselves in the foot or knee. Also? I've read a few stories of such people being police shooting instructors. Yeah.

2) #1 is supposed to be negated by the fact they chose a kid who is a good shot, only they completely set him up to fail. Any handgun owner either carries their gun, openly, in a side holster, with nothing covering it, or they carry it inside a jacket, again, in a holster, and within reach with NOTHING covering it. Otherwise the holster is pocketed, and they have to unsnap, unzip the pocket, take out the gun, click the safety off and then fire. Its not supposed to be quick, it supposed to be safe.

In other words, this isn't the Wild West and you're not SUPPOSED to be able to reach down and rip a gun out in 2 seconds - you are rushing and that will ALWAYS cause a problem, NO MATTER WHAT.

NO ONE covers their gun with a LONG shirt, except ghetto-based gangsters, and I honestly think EVEN THOSE GUYS have enough sense to take cover first in such an incident, AND THEN get their guns out.

Further the kid has gloves and a helmet on. What!?!?!?! How often does one practice shooting with those on?!?! NO ONE DOES! Not even cops who are supposed to be the most prepared to fire their guns! This is like asking you to play tennis with mittens on and then pointing out you suck at it. Absurd.

Also note that since they are saying most common concealed weapons holders would screw up; but they don't advocate for cops to give up their guns, so what they are saying is, most concealed weapons holders are MUCH WORSE than a cop in a given situation. Really? Take a cop with 100 hours training and SET HIM UP like they did the kid in this video, with gloves and a helmet and a shirt over his gun. I bet you 50% of them make the same mistake. So then the experiment has proven nothing other than SOME police will act better than SOME concealed weapons owners. Didn't you already know that? And what does that conclusively prove!?!?! Nothing, of course.

Lastly, this is a textbook room entry by the gun instructor - he already has his gun up and ready and has a good firm base. He's moving steady, on the same plane, like some kind of commando/navy seal would. He's stable, calm, and he is going to shoot you first, even if you are carrying a gun, because HIS GUN IS OUT and yours is NOT.

3) Nathalie, their female 'contestant,' actually does great except for just one problem - she stands up to shoot, when she's sitting safely behind a desk and chairs. All she has to do is stay down and shoot from cover, but instead, she stupidly stands and makes herself a bigger target - I don't understand this. Human instinct is to protect yourself; I think most people would stay behind cover. So she does one thing wrong and its a rookie mistake. Instead of saying she shot the instructor-bad-guy in the leg, severely wounding him (he was actually starting to surrender after that), they point out she would've been killed. Foolish. I'd rather someone like her were in the room GIVING UNARMED PEOPLE A CHANCE TO LIVE, then no one armed at all. An obvious point but TOTALLY IGNORED by the show's presenter. BIASED.

4) The trained gun 'contestant,' Chris, DOES take cover, but again, the gloves and that stupid long shirt and helmet obstructing his view make it impossible for him to get his gun out in time; apparently the contestants are using their gun in winter fresh off a motorcycle, but the bad guy is in summer.

4.5) As you saw again with Chris, the officer-bad-guy entered the room stable, calm and firing accurate shots. Folks, look at the kind of people that storm into rooms, movie theaters, etc., firing like wild men - they are all unstable, and mentally insane. They do not enter calm and shooting accurately. Because they do not want to kill "individuals," they are spraying the crowd randomly with gunfire (you could argue Columbine was different). In the example here, the officer is carefully picking out targets in the crowd like a trained marksman or military soldier. Sadly, when army veterans suffer from PTSD, they don't do things like that, they typically kill themselves. And the crazy people who do things like what was shown are not so careful. In every recent mass shooting, a gunman would have time to unpack a gun, snap the safety off and open fire, especially if taking cover first. Lunatics shoot at "crowds," and an armed citizen would have a better-than sporting chance. Nevermind that the gunman would be FORCED to exchange fire with you while others ran away.

5) The police give the training and participate in this absurd mock-up and they are notoriously against anyone carrying a gun, especially concealed (as many of them do). This is like the NFL putting you on the football field in full gear and watching you screw up over and over again, then tell you you should not be playing NFL football. They would be right, but I would reply, that doesn't mean I shouldn't step on the field with the same gear you use to protect yourself!

6) The logic used is awful; some people are terrible using firearms, therefore all people should be banned from carrying guns. Some people are awful drivers too, and unlike guns, MOST OF US DRIVE EVERYDAY, so should we ban cars from everyone, just to be on the safe side? No. In fact, we even give bad drivers, 2 and 3 and more chances to learn their lesson and keep their cars. Why? Because the car serves a useful purpose and is critical to their survival. One could very well say the same applies to firearms. They serve a purpose, and should only be taken away only if used recklessly. 

7) Police carry guns to defend themselves at a moment's notice, but I'm supposed to believe the same things that make them feel they need to do this, do not apply to me!?!?! Absurd. The fact that police carry is all the more reason to make me feel I need to as well, as don't we both move in the same neighborhoods among the same people!?!?! I'm not going to race to protect others and make their mess my business, necessarily, but I do want to defend myself. It is later attempted to prove that police have "muscle memory" that makes them a quicker draw. I'm not impressed, frankly. The news is filled with many cops that have a hair trigger finger and shoot far too many bullets for a situation, putting innocent by-standers at risk. No, not ALL cops do this, many are great due to their practice, but the essential point does not change - I have as much of a right to defend myself as they do and just because I'm not a cop does not make me some reckless moron shooting anything that moves. Simply because its not my job to defend others, or because I don't train everyday, does not diminish my right to defend myself. Furthermore I think you'll find people who consider it necessary to carry a gun practice with it quite often, they are often firearm aficionados and some of the most knowledgeable citizens when it comes to firearms and firearms safety.

8) One thing the experiment DISPROVES about the no-one-should-carry argument: would you, unarmed, in that room, rather have a kid fumbling for his pistol to protect himself and you, OR NO ONE but the bad guy in that room and you at his mercy!?!?! Oh wait, that's right. You can call the cops and wait for them to mobilize - what is the response time of the police to such a call? 15 mins at least. Enough time to kill everyone in the room and leave. This is never pointed out, of course. And gun advocates are called crazy for pointing out this all-too-obvious fact. Brilliant, guys. Police do not PREVENT crime, they are not clairvoyant, they don't know where crime is going to happen before it happens!

The point I, and many gun owners wish to make is, we are only trying to be practical (I do not own or carry guns, but I'm glad many - good guys - do).

9) In the case of the truck gunner shooting at the interviewer, there are more problems. He already has his gun ready to fire - no one is fast enough to counter a weapon that is prepared to be fired. That's common sense. A weekend of paintball can teach you that. Further, since she was not fast enough and was shot, should she not carry a gun at all!?!? The shooter could miss! Not carrying a weapon, only makes the situation completely no-contest. 

10) The interviewer is a woman. So here's a test case - how about you take a 95 lbs woman and have a big man try to rape her. Tell me, when she fumbles her .22 pistol out of her purse and he runs away in fear, is that a great reason why concealed carry is SO. EVIL!?!?!?!

If you survey the above video as a whole it is all setup to prove one thing to you (and fails to do so) - you should not carry a gun and only trust cops to protect you. I disagree.

One or two test cases, especially like these, are narrow, unrepresentative of the gun-carrying public at large, and ultimately totally inconclusive!

Agree or Disagree, these are Legitimate Points

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Big Government India: PURE FAILURE

People advocate for more government in 3rd world nations when the current big government cannot even keep children and adults from being poisoned.

Dying, Fast and Slow: The pesticide poisonings in India

Posted by Dr. Sushrut Jangi  July 24, 2013 08:54 AM
                                                                                                       [Adnan Abidi/Reuters]                                                                                              
I'm not used to seeing public health stories about India in American newspapers - but last week, the tragic deaths of 23 North Indian children after they ate tainted school lunches in the agricultural state of Bihar was prominently featured in the New York Times, CNN, the Washington Post, NPR, and the Boston Globe. Such extensive American media coverage about a health tragedy in a poor, rural state in India surprised me. Obviously, the death of children arouses our compassion, but unfortunately, such events occur so regularly throughout the developing world that most end up receiving notably less attention. 

Consider an event in Nigeria three years ago: a medical team belonging to Doctors without Borders ventured into northwest Nigeria to conduct an immunization campaign for children but instead found farming towns mysteriously devoid of children altogether. The team found families engaged in subsistence gold mining, a process that released dust laden with unbelievably high concentrations of lead. Partnering with local agencies, the Centers for Disease Control, and the World Health Organization, researchers determined that the lead exposures were among the highest in the world - and that such exposure had killed more than 400 children under age 5 and left more than 2,000 children with permanent disabilities. 

But when I asked some colleagues about these two stories - the 23 dead in India, and more than 400 dead and 2,000 disabled in Nigeria - most were very aware of the school-lunch story but had no familiarity with the second. The reason for this discrepancy, I suspect, rests on the speed of the two tragedies. Moments after the Indian children noticed a funny taste in their food - apparently from a potent insecticide -- many developed stomach cramps and vomited; within hours, some were critically ill or had died, even before reaching the hospital. Within a day, news agencies around the world were alerted to the crisis. 

On the other hand, in Nigeria, the lead poisoning epidemic has evolved over months to years, and the consequences of lead poisoning - brain damage, paralysis, deformity - have taken a long time to reveal themselves. Consequently, the Nigerian story, although tragically important, has been more difficult to tell in our current rapid pace of media coverage. Without reminders, the slow-moving public health crisis tends to slip under our radar. Even in the recent news about the poisoned schoolchildren in India, a slower story hides in its shadow. 

"You've heard about the cancer train?" asks Amit Khurana, head of the Food Safety and Toxins Program at the Center for Science and Environment in New Delhi, India. Nightly, he says, a train departs from a farming district in Punjab, taking passengers to a hospital in the bordering state of Rajasthan. The train is nicknamed "marizon ki train" or "train of the ill": its seats routinely fill with cancer patients, both young and old, afflicted with all manner of malignancies. The reason for high cancer rates in this rural farming community? 

"We found that people living in this district and the surrounding areas had high levels of pesticides in the blood, the breast milk, and in other body tissues," Khurana says. Researchers discovered farmers were spraying crops with abnormally high concentrations of pesticides and rarely wore protective masks. And, just like at the school in Bihar, empty pesticide containers were frequently used for storing food. But the doses of pesticides were not high enough to kill, as they did in the schoolchildren. Instead, people living in these farming communities developed disease slowly, over months to years. 

And here, again, is the crux of the problem in a slow-moving disease process: the longer the time-lag between a potential exposure and its health consequence, the harder it is to track, to prove, and to report. "So a lot of people in India remain unaware of chronic pesticide exposures," Khurana explains. "A few years before I took this job, I didn't know about it either."    

Now, Khurana is intimately familiar with chronic pesticide poisoning in India. Over the past decade, his NGO has found signs of high pesticide concentrations throughout the Indian marketplace. More than 17 brands of bottled water tested in New Delhi, for instance, contained almost 40 times the standard limit of pesticide concentrations. Similarly, in Pepsi and Coke bottled in India, the group found 30 - 36 times the recommended levels of pesticides. 

Although two governmental bodies have since formed to try to regulate the registration, sale, and use of pesticides in agriculture, the implementation of such regulations has proven difficult. Monocrotophos, the chemical found in the school in Bihar, is banned in the United States and the European Union, but farmers in India routinely spray it on rice paddies even though the government has restricted its use. "What a farmer does has got nothing to do with the regulations of the state or central government," Khurana says. "He is more likely to be influenced by the sales representatives of the pesticide companies. Most farmers aren't even aware of the dangers of pesticides, how much they should use, or how long they should wait before bringing a sprayed crop to the market." 

In the United States, we've been pretty good about regulating pesticides. Production and use of highly toxic organophosphates - including monocrotophos - have been curtailed. Acute pesticide poisonings, like the one in Bihar, are rare in this country. But the possibility of slow, chronic diseases from low-level absorption of pesticides are still possible. "There have been several prospective studies that show a relationship between pesticide levels in pregnant women and lower IQ levels in children," says David Bellinger, professor of neurology and environmental health at the Harvard School of Public Health. 

In other words, he agrees with the idea that low, chronic pesticide exposure can adversely affect human health over time, with accumulating evidence connecting pesticide exposure to neurotoxicity in children and cancer risk in adults. Given more effective regulations in the United States, chronic pesticide exposure is less of an issue in our country, but Bellinger says that "we still have a way to go." Meanwhile, in India, this slow poisoning continues unchecked, and with a large pesticide industry lobby, no effective government regulations have been set into place. 

I ask Khurana: if I go into any market in an Indian city and I buy a piece of fruit or vegetable, what are the chances that it will contain significant levels of pesticide? "One hundred percent," he says. 

Maybe all this reporting of the tragedy in Bihar, I tell Khurana, might push the government to make changes, so this doesn't happen again. 

"Maybe," Khurana hopes. 

But the Indian media, he says disappointingly, has already moved on.
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