What have countries or groups of people done to protect animals in recent years?
All new laws passed in 1999 to protect animals, and all efforts made
by the government or by people to protect animals are on topic. All
personal reasons behind the protection of animals (like elections), that
contributed to set new animal's protection's laws are off-topic. But reasons behind a law that a govenment put to protect animals are on topic.
people, animal protection, new laws, legislation, SPCA
item=purpose, value=Answer Answer: How did humans help protect animals in 1999?
During 1999 and 2000 - after Humane USA
launched its operations - the Congress passed 10
new laws to protect animals, including laws to
protect great apes, to establish chimpanzee
sanctuaries, to ban the sale of dog and cat fur, to
validate non-animal tests, and to halt barbaric
practices such as "animal crush" videos and shark
finning. It was no accident that Congress passed so
many laws after Humane USA began its work. A
solid investment in candidates yields tangible benefits
As you know, a law is only useful when enforced and due to the serious nature of animal
cruelty, egregious crimes against animals became chargeable as fourth degree felonies in our
state in July 1999. The link between animal cruelty and human violence, including family
violence, is well documented and 32 states now have felony animal cruelty laws.
WILD FRIENDS MEMORIAL
45TH LEGISLATURE - STATE OF NEW MEXICO - FIRST SESSION, 1999
INTRODUCED BY RAYMOND SANCHEZ
A MEMORIAL TO
Request that the New Mexico legislature examine education programs about, and laws against, wildlife and other
animal cruelty to recommend improvements for the effective prevention of violent acts toward wildlife that result
from malicious, ignorant or evil behavior and have no legitimate purpose and recognizing that there is a correlation
between cruelty to animals and cruelty to people..
WHEREAS New Mexico citizens, including the Wild Friends, are concerned about violence to wildlife resulting
from malicious, ignorant or evil behavior;
WHEREAS, threats to wildlife include violent and harmful acts with no legitimate purpose (legitimate purposes
include protection of humans and domestic animals, lawful hunting and fishing activities and other acts allowed by
WHEREAS, violence that occurs towards wild and other animals, especially to birds, fish, reptiles and small
mammals, includes such cruel actions as burning animals alive, using animals for target practice, killing with
firecrackers or other explosives, poisoning, beating, breaking bones or cutting off body parts, decapitation,
WHEREAS, youth who do violence to all kinds of animals often consider it just play or do it from bravado; without
education they may not know that what they are doing is wrong or even illegal;
WHEREAS, people who habitually abuse wild and other animals also may abuse people;
WHEREAS, the Wild Friends of New Mexico want to bring illegitimate and illegal violence to wildlife to public
WHEREAS, many people are unaware of the seriousness of the problem of violence to wild and other animals and
need to be informed through such methods as public service announcements, brochures, posters and school or
public lectures by guest speakers;
WHEREAS, young people should be provided with positive activities after school and receive training and
counseling for problems such as anger management and violence;
WHEREAS, laws are created to make wrongful acts illegal, such as poaching, and to establish consequences for
those acts, and certain state programs are created to prevent certain problems from occurring, such as violent
behavior, and to help educate people;
WHEREAS, both wild and other animals should be respected, cared for and appreciated for what they provide to
WHEREAS, the New Mexico Dept. of Game and Fish should be recognized for its hunter education program which
has grown from a firearms safety program to a comprehensive program of wildlife identification, ethics, proper shot
placement and care of game;
WHEREAS, wild animals that are sick or injured should be rescued and rehabilitated or euthanized at a public
facility, and wildlife rehabilitation organizations should be recognized and supported for their efforts;
WHEREAS, people should be encouraged to report an illegal act of violence to wild and other animals when they
WHEREAS, the people of New Mexico want to stop the illegal killing of wild and endangered animals, in part
because orphaned young animals are left to suffer and die which is a crime against the future of the species;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF NEW MEXICO that
the New Mexico legislative council be requested to direct the appropriate interim committee to examine laws
against cruelty to wildlife and other animals cruelty to recommend improvements for the effective prevention of
violent acts that result from malicious, ignorant or evil behavior and have no legitimate purpose; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the New Mexico Legislature examine the implications of the link between
habitual violence towards wild and other animals and violence towards humans, and consider requiring counseling
and education for offenders.
International Year of Older Persons (IYOP)
What was the International Year of Older Persons and why was it made?
The reasons behind the IYOP, what it was all about, and how successful it was are all on topic.
international year, older persons
The General Assembly
(Resolution 47/5) decided to observe the year
1999 as the International Year of Older
Persons (IYOP). The Year was celebrated
by all sectors of society, in all corners of the
globe. View highlights of the year's many
activities in the international community of
Member States, United Nations system,
Intergovernmental Organizations, NGO's, as
well as the private sector.
The year was celebrated in recognition of
humanity's demographic coming of age and
the promise it holds for maturing attitudes
and capabilities in social, economic, cultural
and spiritual undertakings, not least for global
peace and development in the next century.
Guidelines for use of the logo for the
International Year of Older Persons, 1999
The United Nations General Assembly designated the year 1999 as the International Year of
Older Persons (IYOP) in its Proclamation on Ageing of 1992.
A logo or emblem for the Year has been prepared by the United Nations Department of Public
Information in consultation with the United Nations IYOP Secretariat.
1. The logo design
The core design comprises a swirl of concentric lines, topped with the year "1999", and resting
on a bed of laurel leaves. The swirl's continuity and movement symbolize the continuing
development and diversity of older persons, the continuity of life stages, the interdependence of
generations, and the promise of humanity's progression towards an age-integrated society --
"towards a society for all ages", the theme of the Year.
The design is accompanied by the following text:
towards a society for all ages
International Year of Older Persons 1999
The text is available in the six official languages of the United Nations: Arabic, Chinese,
English, French, Russian, Spanish.
2. The Year
The logo is intended to promote awareness and activities pertaining to the International Year of
Older Persons, 1999. In brief, the Year's main features include:
"Towards a society for all ages"
Promoting the United Nations Principles for
Situation of older persons
Lifelong individual development
Relationship between generations
Relationship between ageing and
Looking beyond 1999
Reaching out to non-traditional actors
Networking and research
3. National variations of logo design
A National Committee or nationally appointed Focal Point may choose to make a national
variation of the logo design, as outlined below, in line with the General Assembly decision that
"activities for the Year should be initiated primarily at the national level" (resolution A/52/80).
A national variation of the logo should maintain the core design (the spiral ending with "1999"
resting on laurel leaves), but may add, to top or bottom, the name of their country (or a city or
locality within that country).
A sample variation: [design variation to be added]
"Canada, a society for all ages".
4. Uses of the logo: information, fund-raising, commercial
The logo is intended for three kinds of promotional use: information, fund-raising and
commercial, as outlined below.
a. Information uses of the logo
Information uses of the logo are those which are:
not intended to raise funds and
not carried out by a commercial for-profit entity.
Permission to use the logo for national information purposes is given by the National
Committee or Focal Point in each country. Where no National Committee or Focal
Point has been designated, contact the United Nations IYOP Secretariat.
Permission to use the logo for international informational purposes is given by the
United Nations IYOP Secretariat.
When requesting permission, please provide:
a short statement of identity (membership, objectives, etc.)
explanation of how and where the logo will be used
Before the logo is used for information purposes, a waiver of liability in accordance with
section 5 below must be signed by the entity that is requesting to use the logo.
National Committees/Focal Points are requested to send a copy of the waivers to the
United Nations IYOP Secretariat.
b. Fund-raising uses of the logo
Fund-raising uses of the logo are those intended to raise resources to cover costs of
voluntary activities for IYOP. They may only be undertaken by non-commercial
Permission to use the logo for national fund-raising purposes is given by the National
Committee or Focal Point in each country. Where no National Committee or Focal
Point has been designated, contact the United Nations IYOP Secretariat.
Permission to use the logo for international fund-raising purposes is given by the
United Nations IYOP Secretariat.
When requesting permission, please provide:
a short statement of identity (membership, objectives, etc.)
explanation of how and where the logo will be used
explanation of the fund-raising purposes
Before the logo is used for fund-raising purposes, a waiver of liability in accordance with
section 5 below must be signed by the entity that is requesting to use the logo.
National Committees/Focal Points are requested to send a copy of the waivers to the
United Nations IYOP Secretariat.
c. Commercial uses of logo
Commercial uses of the logo are all those undertaken by or involving commercial
for-profit entities, as well as any use intended to lead to commercial or personal profit.
Permission to use the logo commercially at the national level (including the core design
or national variation as explained in section 3 above) can only be given by the National
Committee or Focal Point in each country. Where no National Committee or Focal
Point has been designated, contact the United Nations IYOP Secretariat.
Permission to use the logo for international commercial purposes is given by the United
Nations IYOP Secretariat.
When requesting permission, please explain:
the nature of your company or enterprise
proposed uses of the logo
names of countries/territories where logo will be used
nature of products/services you produce/sell in those areas
how your products relate to IYOP
what profits you expect to make from use of the logo
a summary budget, giving your expenses and any proposed royalties or
contributions you expect to make to local, national or international activities for the
Before the logo is used commercially, a contract must be signed with the National
Committee/Focal Point or the United Nations IYOP Secretariat (as relevant). In
particular, such contracts must conform to section 5 below.
National Committees/Focal Points are requested to send a copy of signed contracts to
the United Nations IYOP Secretariat.
All entities authorized to use the logo, whether for information, fund-raising or commercial
purposes, must acknowledge that:
the entity is responsible for ensuring that the activities are carried out in accordance with the
applicable law and for ensuring that appropriate insurance is maintained to cover the risks
arising out of such activities;
the United Nations does not assume any responsibility for the activities of such entity; and
the entity shall hold harmless and defend the United Nations and its officials against any
action that may be brought against the United Nations or its officials as a result of the use of
When the logo is used for commercial purposes, the foregoing language must be incorporated
into the contract to be signed with the entity.
When the logo is used for information and fund-raising purposes, the language must be
incorporated into a waiver of liability that is signed by the entity. The attached Waiver of liability
may be used.
National Committees/Focal Points and the UN IYOP Secretariat shall ensure that contracts and
waivers containing such language are obtained before the proposed activities are carried out.
Additionally, contracts signed by the United Nations IYOP Secretariat should also contain the
United Nations General Conditions for contracts.
6. How to obtain the logo
The logo design and accompanying text, as well as media information on IYOP, can be obtained
in hard copy from the Department of Public Information, or downloaded from its web site:
Address: Development and Human Rights Section
United Nations Department of Public Information
New York, NY 10017
FAX: (212) 963 1186
web site: http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/iyop/iyoplogo.htm
7. For further information
The United Nations IYOP Secretariat can provide, in hard copy or from its web site, background
information on IYOP, including a list of National Committees or Focal Points.
The IYOP Secretariat will also provide permission to use the IYOP logo internationally -- or
nationally in countries where no National Committee or Focal Point has been designated (as
explained in sections 4 and 5 above).
According to the United Nations projections, by
the year 2025, 14.4 per cent of the region's total
population will be 60 years or older, and the
region will be home to 56 per cent of the world?s
older persons. This rapid ageing of societies in
Asia and the Pacific has triggered concern for the
well-being of older persons.
The International Plan of Action on Ageing
(IPAA), adopted by the United Nations in 1982
in resolution 37/51, was the first international
consensus document on the subject of ageing. It
recommended that international action focus
on a wide range of areas concerning ageing.
On the tenth anniversary of the adoption of the
IPAA, in 1992, the United Nations adopted the
Proclamation on Ageing and decided to observe
the year 1999 as the International Year of
Older Persons with the theme "Towards a
Society for All Ages".
At the regional level, governments in the Asian
and Pacific region adopted the Macau Plan of
Action on Ageing for Asia and the Pacific on 1
October 1998. The Macau Plan has been the first
and thus far the only regional plan of action on
ageing, making Asia and the Pacific a pioneer in
this area. The Macau Plan covers major areas of
concern and recommends action for the
betterment of the lives of older persons.
Amusement Park Safety
Why was the National Amusement Park Ride Safety Act enacted?
All reasons behind this act, and the sections of the bill are on
topic. Information about the ways theme parks had to change as a result of
this act are on-topic.
amusement parks, theme park, legislation
THE NATIONAL AMUSEMENT PARK RIDE SAFETY ACT
October 12, 1999
The National Amusement Park Ride Safety Act of 1999 was introduced by Rep. Edward Markey (D-MA) on October 6, 1999, with 10 original
cosponsors: Reps. George Miller (D-CA), Joseph Hoeffel (D-PA), Robert Wexler (D-FL), Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), William Lipinski (D-IL), Carolyn
Maloney (D-NY), Anthony Weiner (D-NY), Rosa DeLauro (D-NY), Richard Neal (D-MA) and Henry Waxman (D-CA.)
The purpose of this legislation is to close a consumer protection loophole created in 1981.
Section 2 of the bill eliminates the restriction on CPSC safety jurisdiction adopted in 1981 - the so-called "roller coaster loophole". Eliminating this
restriction would allow the CPSC the same scope of authority to protect against unreasonable risks of harm on "fixed-site" rides that it currently retains
for carnival rides that are moved from site to site ("mobile rides.) This would include the authority to investigate accidents, to develop and enforce action
plans to correct defects, to require reports to the CPSC whenever a substantial hazard is identified, and to act as a national clearinghouse for accident and
Section 3 of the bill would authorize appropriations of $500 thousand annually to enable the CPSC to carry out the purposes of the Act.
The Consumer Product Safety Act provided the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) with the same consumer protections authority it has for
other consumer products. However, in 1981, following a series of legal challenges by several owners of large theme parks, Congress stepped in and limited
CPSC authority only to those rides "not permanently fixed to a site." Thus, the CPSC currently is prohibited from investigating accidents or developing or
enforcing safety plans, and manufacturers, owners and operators of rides are not required to disclose to the CPSC defects which would create a substantial
hazard of consumer injury. Since it cannot gather the information, the CPSC is also effectively prevented from sharing the information with others so that
accidents in one state can be prevented in another.
Rising Risk of Serious Injury
The CPSC estimates the number of serious injuries on fixed and mobile amusement park rides using the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System
(NEISS). This data includes only injuries severe enough to have led the injured party to go to an emergency room. According to its July 1999 summary,
emergency-room injuries on fixed rides increased from 2400 in 1994 to 4500 in 1998. During the same period, emergency-room injuries on mobile rides
have held relatively steady, with 2000 in 1994 and 2100 in 1998.
CPSC regulation supplements state regulation where states have adopted inspections programs, and provides some measure of protection in states that have
none. Currently the following states have no inspection program: Alabama, Arizona, Kansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana,
North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Vermont. Moreover, Florida exempts theme parks with more than 1000 employees, Virginia relies on
private inspections, and New York exempts New York City (which includes Coney Island.)
States with inspection programs are very uneven depending on which agency has the responsibility and whether its expertise is design, operator training,
manufacturing, etc. No state, and no industry organization, provides the national clearinghouse function that the CPSC currently provides for mobile rides
and could provide for fixed-site rides.
Although the overall risk of death on an amusement park ride is very small, it is not zero. In the course of the last week of August 1999, 4 deaths occurred
on roller coasters in just one week, which U.S. News & World Report termed "one of the most calamitous weeks in the history of America's amusement
August 22 -- a 12-year-old boy fell to his death after slipping through a harness on the Drop Zone ride at Paramount's Great America Theme Park
in Santa Clara, California;
August 23 -- a 20-year-old man died on the Shockwave roller coaster at Paramount King's Dominion theme park near Richmond, Virginia;
August 28 -- a 39-year-old woman and her 8-year-old daughter were killed when their car slid backward down a 30-foot ascent and crashed into
another car, injuring two others on the Wild Wonder roller coaster at Gillian's Wonderland Pier in Ocean City, New Jersey.
Each of these tragedies is an opportunity for the CPSC to search for causes and share its insights with the operators of other similar rides. Unless the law is
changed, however, it cannot perform this role.
Amusement Park Personal Injury
Claims arising from injuries sustained as a result of a trip to an amusement park.
Such as rides, foods, and or any other amusement park injury.
If you are a victim of a Amusement Park Personal Injury to yourself or a loved
one you should know you have certain legal rights and must be very selective of
the Lawyer or Law Firm you chose to represent you. Our service has had
experience in the personal injury law field for the last 12 years. We Specialize in
the following personal injury type claims.
The National Amusement Park Ride Safety Act of 1999 was
introduced by Rep. Edward Markey (D-MA) on October 6,
1999, with 10 original cosponsors: Reps. George Miller
(D-CA), Joseph Hoeffel (D-PA), Robert Wexler (D-FL),
Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), William Lipinski (D-IL), Carolyn
Maloney (D-NY), Anthony Weiner (D-NY), Rosa DeLauro
(D-NY), Richard Neal (D-MA) and Henry Waxman
The purpose of this legislation is to close a consumer
protection loophole created in 1981.
Section 2 of the bill eliminates the restriction on CPSC safety
jurisdiction adopted in 1981 - the so-called "roller coaster
loophole". Eliminating this restriction would allow the CPSC
the same scope of authority to protect against unreasonable
risks of harm on "fixed-site" rides that it currently retains for
carnival rides that are moved from site to site ("mobile rides.)
This would include the authority to investigate accidents, to
develop and enforce action plans to correct defects, to require
reports to the CPSC whenever a substantial hazard is
identified, and to act as a national clearinghouse for accident
and defect data.
Section 3 of the bill would authorize appropriations of $500
thousand annually to enable the CPSC to carry out the
purposes of the Act.
The Consumer Product Safety Act provided the Consumer
Product Safety Commission (CPSC) with the same consumer
protections authority it has for other consumer products.
However, in 1981, following a series of legal challenges by
several owners of large theme parks, Congress stepped in and
limited CPSC authority only to those rides "not permanently
fixed to a site." Thus, the CPSC currently is prohibited from
investigating accidents or developing or enforcing safety plans,
and manufacturers, owners and operators of rides are not
required to disclose to the CPSC defects which would create a
substantial hazard of consumer injury. Since it cannot gather
the information, the CPSC is also effectively prevented from
sharing the information with others so that accidents in one
state can be prevented in another.
Rising Risk of Serious Injury
The CPSC estimates the number of serious injuries on fixed
and mobile amusement park rides using the National
Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS). This data
includes only injuries severe enough to have led the injured
party to go to an emergency room. According to its July 1999
summary, emergency-room injuries on fixed rides increased
from 2400 in 1994 to 4500 in 1998. During the same period,
emergency-room injuries on mobile rides have held relatively
steady, with 2000 in 1994 and 2100 in 1998.
CPSC regulation supplements state regulation where states
have adopted inspections programs, and provides some
measure of protection in states that have none. Currently the
following states have no inspection program: Alabama,
Arizona, Kansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi,
Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas, Utah
and Vermont. Moreover, Florida exempts theme parks with
more than 1000 employees, Virginia relies on private
inspections, and New York exempts New York City (which
includes Coney Island.)
States with inspection programs are very uneven depending on
which agency has the responsibility and whether its expertise is
design, operator training, manufacturing, etc. No state, and no
industry organization, provides the national clearinghouse
function that the CPSC currently provides for mobile rides and
could provide for fixed-site rides.
Although the overall risk of death on an amusement park ride
is very small, it is not zero. In the course of the last week of
August 1999, 4 deaths occurred on roller coasters in just one
week, which U.S. News & World Report termed "one of the
most calamitous weeks in the history of America's amusement
August 22 -- a 12-year-old boy fell to his death after
slipping through a harness on the Drop Zone ride at
Paramount's Great America Theme Park in Santa
August 23 -- a 20-year-old man died on the
Shockwave roller coaster at Paramount King's Dominion
theme park near Richmond, Virginia;
August 28 -- a 39-year-old woman and her 8-year-old
daughter were killed when their car slid backward down a
30-foot ascent and crashed into another car, injuring
two others on the Wild Wonder roller coaster at Gillian's
Wonderland Pier in Ocean City, New Jersey.
Each of these tragedies is an opportunity for the CPSC to
search for causes and share its insights with the operators of
other similar rides. Unless the law is changed, however, it
cannot perform this role.
What led up to the Y2K crisis and what were its consequences?
All information about the Y2K problem, its danger, its consequences (influence on people) that happened in 1999 only, what caused it, how people dealt with it, and why people feared it on topic.
Computer program failures on specific dates, or personal problems are not on topic.
There was not a single 2K problem.
There were many:
Thousands of computer programs failed on
2000-JAN-1, but the effect was minor:
Almost all of the software failures and disruptions materialized in aged
accounting software used by countless small businesses. Very few major failures
A programming bug was reported in Britain near the end of 1999-DEC.
Bank computers started to reject credit card purchases. Their program not
only checked that the credit card was valid; it checked whether the card
would also be valid a few days in the future. When this day fell in the year
2000, a Y2K bug sprang to life and rejected cards in large numbers.
The "Criticall" system in Toronto, ON, Canada, failed on New Year's day.
This monitors hospitals and directs patients in ambulances to emergency
rooms that are not hopelessly overloaded. It was quickly repaired. In the
meantime, a backup system was used.
There were minor failures in monitoring systems at seven nuclear
generating stations in the U.S. None represented a safety problem or caused
interruptions of power.
There were a few control problems at some airports which were fixed
Data from a U.S. defense department satellite was unusable for a few hours
in the morning of JAN-1; a backup system took over until the system could
According to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Mormon
church, some minor problems were reported in parts of Russia's telephone
A computer system in South Korea issued court summonses to 170 people
to appear for trial on 1900-JAN-4...or else!
A TV weather map in France showed the year as 19100.
A control system at a power plant in the U.S. Midwest jumped ahead 35
days. However, the electrical supply was not affected.
Failures occurred for one of two reasons:
In the early days of business computing, many programmers did not see too
far into the future, and took shortcuts:
In those days, disk and memory space were costly, and so many
programmers used only 2 digits to record the year. For example,
they used 72 represented 1972. The problem is for 2000-JAN-01 and
later dates, many of these programs would have decoded the new year
Other programmers used the year 00 or 99 to indicate an error
condition. They did not expect their programs to last until 1999 or
Other programs stored the year unambiguously, but then interpreted
the year as if it occurred in the 20th century. So, 1972 was stored
properly, but only the 72 was interpreted by the program, which added
a 19 prefix. In the year 2000, such programs might have continue to
add the prefix, resulting in the year 1900.
Still other programs will produce unpredictable results. 2,3
All of these deficiencies would have caused major chaos. However most
programs were either fixed or replaced before a Y2K bug surfaced.
As a convenience for persons entering dates form a keyboard, programs
were frequently written to accept only two digits for the year. The program
then added "19" as a prefix to the entered date to generate a full 4 digit year.
When these programs are run during the year 2000, the operators will enter
"00" for the year and the program will add the "19" prefix to produce the
year "1900". One example is Windows 98. The Date tab in "Regional
Settings Properties (accessible from Start, Settings, Control Panel) gives two
dates, typically 1930 and 2029. When a 2 digit number (e.g. 99) is entered,
the system interprets the date as being between these years -- i.e. 1999.
Unless these settings are changed, a "30" year which may be intended to
represent 2030 will be interpreted as 1930.
The American National Standards manual states: "2.3: Year shall be represented
as four digits with the option of omitting the two high order digits (commonly
referred to as century) as required in applications where century is to be implied."
Unfortunately, too many computer programmers felt that it was safe to imply
"19" as the century. They expected their programs to be long gone by 2000. Many
of these legacy programs are still functioning on computers around the world.
Many companies neatly sidestepped the problem by upgrading their accounting
and process control software to entirely new standard programs that are free of
the Y2K bug. "Cynics claim the millennium bug scare is being spread by certain
computer supply firms which will earn huge sums by selling pricey equipment
they maintain is necessary to alleviate the problem." 4
Others have mounted massive projects to have programmers scan their software
- some of it decades old - and correct any problems.
Date notations will cause confusion:
Traditionally, people have used two digits to represent years. Three all-numerical
methods are now in common use. February 15, 1999 in various countries, is shown
mm/dd/yy (2/15/99) This is a common notation in the U.S.
dd/mm/yy (15/2/99) This is a common notation in Canada.
yy/mm/dd (99/2/15) This is common internationally.
We play it safe on this website by defining dates like 2000-FEB-15. No ambiguity
is possible. However, it is not very efficient either.
For years, there has been a confusion between the first two notations. People are
unsure whether the first number refers to the month or the day. In the year 2000,
there should be no more confusion than normal, because the year will be clearly
identified as "00". Unfortunately, starting in 2001, years will be shown as 01 for
2001, 02 for 2002, etc. Much confusion will be created. For example, consider 01
02 03. Does it mean January 02, 2003 or 01 February, 2003 or 2001 February 03?
This problem will continue, in diminished form, until the year 2032. This is one of
the reasons why this web site always uses the unusual convention of a 4 digit year,
three letter month and two number day. (e.g. 1999-JAN-15) . This format, and
the similar all numeric version (e.g. 1999-02-15), are clear and unambiguous.
They are commonly used outside of North America. The latter, all numeric,
format is ideal for computers, because it can be followed with the time of day, and
facilitate chronological sorting, as in: 2001-01-15 12:34:56.78
HCFA offers tips to tackle Y2K problem
The Health Care Financing Administration has named the Y2K bug as its top priority, working to ensure computer systems will keep processing claims for 70 million Medicare and
Y2K refers to the impending problem of some computers mistaking the year 2000 for 1900 because they only read the last two digits. If the problem isn't addressed, health care providers
could experience delayed payments or disruptions in receiving data.
HCFA encourages physicians to develop a Y2K readiness plan. One suggested plan includes five steps: (1) Become aware of how the year 2000 can affect your system. Identify entities
that you depend on and that depend on you, inventory both hardware and software programs, and identify items you can't live without. (2) Assess the readiness of everything on your list by
contacting vendors or checking appropriate web sites. (3) Update or replace systems and software programs that you decide are important for your office to function. (4) Test your existing
and newly purchased systems and software; don't assume they're Y2K-ready. (5) Develop business continuity plans to take effect if problems arise.
Hate Crimes Prevention
Why was the Hate Crimes Prevention Act enacted and how has it
improved the protection of an individual's civil rights?
The reasons behind the creation of this act and its effect on
society and the legal system are on-topic. Documents restricted to hate crimes, with no mention of the
Act, are off-topic.
crime prevention, hate crimes, legislation
HRC APPLAUDS SENATE PASSAGE OF HATE
CRIMES PREVENTION ACT
Hate Crimes Prevention Act Amendment and Hatch Substitute
Amendment Added to Commerce, State, Justice Appropriations Bill
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, July 23, 1999
WASHINGTON - The Senate has taken a strong stand against the rising tide of hate violence in
America by adding the Hate Crimes Prevention Act to the Commerce, Justice and State
appropriations bill, the Human Rights Campaign asserted today.
"The Senate took a dramatic step forward in making this nation a safer place for all Americans,"
HRC Executive Director Elizabeth Birch said a day after the Senate added hate crimes language
to the appropriations measure. "We applaud this responsible effort to stem the growing trend of
hate crimes in our country."
The Hate Crimes Prevention Act is a top legislative priority of the Human Rights Campaign and
passage of the amendment culminates months of work. The measure would extend current federal
hate crimes protection to cover gender, sexual orientation and disability.
A bipartisan group of senators led the successful move to pass the hate crimes measure in that
chamber. They include Sens. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., Gordon Smith, R-Ore.; Charles
Schumer, D-N.Y.; Ron Wyden, D-Ore.; James Jeffords, R-Vt.; Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.; Dianne
Feinstein, D-Calif.; and Minority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D. In a July 20 "Dear Colleague"
letter, the senators said: "Hate crimes are uniquely destructive and divisive. They injure not only
the victim, but the entire community and sometimes the entire country."
The Senate also passed much narrower hate crimes legislation, offered by Sen. Orrin Hatch,
R-Utah, that does not include sexual orientation, gender and disability. The two measures are not
mutually exclusive and details will be worked out after the House passes its version of the bill and
lawmakers negotiate differences in a conference committee.
"With strong administration backing and bipartisan support in both houses of Congress, we expect
to be in a strong position in the conference committee to ensure final passage of the Hate Crimes
Prevention Act," Winnie Stachelberg, HRC's political director, said today.
The Hate Crimes Prevention Act has strong support from President Clinton and the
administration has made passage a priority. Rep. Henry Hyde, R-Ill., has scheduled a hearing on
the measure in the House Judiciary Committee on Aug. 4. HCPA currently has more than 180
House cosponsors from both parties.
The Human Rights Campaign is the largest national lesbian and gay political organization with
members throughout the country. It effectively lobbies Congress, provides campaign support and
educates the public to ensure that lesbian and gay Americans can be open, honest and safe at
home, at work and in the community.
The American Civil Liberties Union respectfully submits this statement to urge the Senate Committee on the Judiciary to respond by legislation
to the continuing problem of an inadequate state and local response to criminal civil rights violations, but also to request that the Committee
amend S. 622, the Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 1999, to limit its potential chilling effect on constitutionally protected speech. The ACLU
believes that the Congress can and should expand federal jurisdiction to prosecute criminal civil rights violations when state and local
governments are unwilling or unable to prosecute, while also precluding evidence of mere abstract beliefs or mere membership in an
organization from becoming a basis for such prosecutions.
The ACLU has a long record of support for stronger protection of both free speech and civil rights. Those positions are not inconsistent. In fact,
vigilant protection of free speech rights historically has opened the doors to effective advocacy for expanded civil rights protections.
Six years ago, the ACLU submitted a brief to the Supreme Court urging the Court to uphold a Wisconsin hate crime enhancement statute as
constitutional. However, the ACLU also asked the Court "to set forth a clear set of rules governing the use of such statutes in the future." The
ACLU warned the Court that "if the state is not able to prove that a defendant's speech is linked to specific criminal behavior, the chances
increase that the state's hate crime prosecution is politically inspired." The draft amendment described in this statement will help avoid that
This statement explains the need for legislation to expand federal authority to prosecute federal civil rights violations, and the reason for adding
an evidentiary restriction to section 245 of the federal criminal code. The ACLU will strongly support passage of S. 622 if the Committee adds
the evidentiary restriction and avoids any changes to S. 622's substantive provisions.
II. THE PERSISTENT PROBLEM OF CRIMINAL CIVIL RIGHTS VIOLATIONS
The ACLU supports providing remedies against invidious discrimination and urges that discrimination by private organizations be made illegal
when it excludes persons from access to fundamental rights or from the opportunity to participate in the political or social life of the community.
The serious problem of crime directed at members of society because of their race, color, religion, gender, national origin, sexual orientation, or
disability merits legislative action.
Such action is particularly timely as a response to the rising tide of violence directed at people because of such characteristics. Those crimes
convey a constitutionally unprotected threat against the peaceable enjoyment of public places to members of the targeted group.
Pursuant to the Hate Crime Statistics Act, the Federal Bureau of Investigation annually collects and reports statistics on the number of
bias-related criminal incidents reported by local and state law enforcement officials. In 1996, based on reports from law enforcement agencies
covering 84% of the nation's population, the FBI reported 8,759 incidents covered by the Act. 5,396 of those incidents were related to race, 1,401
to religion, 1,016 to sexual orientation, 940 to ethnicity or national origin, and six to multiple categories.
Existing federal law does not provide any separate offense for violent acts based on race, color, national origin, or religion, unless the defendant
intended to interfere with the victim's participation in certain enumerated activities. 18 U.S.C.A. ß 245(b)(2). During hearings last year in the
Senate and House of Representatives, advocates for racial, ethnic, and religious minorities presented substantial evidence of the problems
resulting from the inability of the federal government to prosecute crimes based on race, color, national origin, or religion without any tie to an
enumerated activity. Those cases include violent crimes based on a protected class, which state or local officials either inadequately investigated
or declined to prosecute.
In addition, existing federal law does not provide any separate offense whatsoever for violent acts based on sexual orientation, gender, or
disability. The exclusion of sexual orientation, gender, and disability from section 245 of the criminal code can have bizarre results. For
example, in an appeal by a person convicted of killing an African-American gay man, the defendant argued that "the evidence established, if
anything, that he beat [the victim] because he believed him to be a homosexual and not because he was black." United States v. Bledsoe, 728
F.2d 1094, 1098 (8th Cir. 1984), cert. denied, 469 U.S. 838 (1984). Among the evidence that the court cited in affirming the conviction because
of violence based on race, was testimony that the defendant killed the black gay victim, but allowed a white gay man to escape. Id. at 1095, 1098.
Striking or killing a person solely because of that person's sexual orientation would not have resulted in a conviction under that statute.
In addition to the recent accounts of the deaths of Matthew Shepard and Billy Jack Gaither, other reports of violence because of a person's
sexual orientation include:
An account by the Human Rights Campaign of "[a] lesbian security guard, 22, [who] was assigned to work a holiday shift with a guard from
a temporary employment service. He propositioned her repeatedly. Finally, she told him she was a lesbian. Issuing anti-lesbian slurs, he
A report by Mark Weinress, during an American Psychological Association briefing on hate crimes, of his beating by two men who yelled
"we kill faggots" and "die faggots" at the victim and his partner from the defendants' truck, chased the victims on foot while shouting
"death to faggots," and beat the victims with a billy club while responding "we kill faggots" when a bystander asked what the defendants
A report by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force of a letter from a person who wrote that she "was gang-raped for being a lesbian.
Four men beat me, spat on me, urinated on me, and raped me . . . . When I reported the incident to Fresno police, they were sympathetic
until they learned I was homosexual. They closed their book, and said, 'Well, you were asking for it.'"
An article in the November 22, 1997 issue of The Washington Post about five Marines who left the Marine Barracks on Capitol Hill to
throw a tear gas canister into a nearby gay bar. Several persons were treated for nausea and other gas-related symptoms.
The problem of crimes based on gender is also persistent. For example, two women cadets at the Citadel, a military school that had only recently
opened its doors to female students, were singled out and "hazed" by male cadets who did not believe that women had a right to be at the school.
Male cadets allegedly sprayed the two women with nail polish remover and then set their clothes ablaze, not once, but three times within a two
month period. One male cadet also threatened one of the two women by saying that he would cut her "heart out" if he ever saw her alone off
Federal legislation addressing such criminal civil rights violations is necessary because state and local law enforcement officers are sometimes
unwilling or unable to prosecute those crimes because of either inadequate resources or their own bias against the victim. The prospect of such
failure to provide equal protection of the laws justifies federal jurisdiction. For example, state and local law enforcement officials have often
been hostile to the needs of gay men and lesbians. The fear of state and local police -- which many gay men and lesbians share with members of
other minorities -- is not unwarranted. For example, until recently, the Maryland state police department refused to employ gay men or
lesbians as state police officers. In addition, only last year, a District of Columbia police lieutenant who headed the police unit that investigates
extortion cases was arrested by the FBI for attempting to extort $10,000 from a married man seen leaving a gay bar. Police officers referred to
the practice as "fairy shaking." The problem is widespread. In fact, the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs reports several hundred
anti-gay incidents allegedly committed by state and local law enforcement officers annually. The federal government clearly has an
enforcement role when state and local governments fail to provide equal protection of the laws.
III. IMPORTANCE OF ADDING A NEW EVIDENTIARY RESTRICTION
Despite the need to amend the principal federal criminal civil rights statute, 18 U.S.C. ß 245, to expand federal jurisdiction to address the
problem of an inadequate state and local response to criminal civil rights violations, the ACLU cannot support S. 622 unless the Committee
amends the legislation to limit its potential chilling effect on constitutionally protected speech. Specifically, the ACLU strongly urges the
Committee to amend S. 622 by adding the following evidentiary provision:
In any prosecution under this section, (i) evidence proving the defendant's mere abstract beliefs or (ii) evidence of the
defendant's mere membership in an organization, shall not be admissible to establish any element of an offense under this
This provision will reduce or eliminate the possibility that the federal government could obtain a criminal conviction on the basis of evidence of
speech that had no role in the chain of events that led to any alleged violent act proscribed by the statute.
On its face, S. 622 punishes only the conduct of intentionally selecting another person for violence because of that person's race, color, national
origin, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or disability. The prosecution must prove the conduct of intentional selection of the victim. Thus, S.
622, like the present section 245, punishes discrimination (an act), not bigotry (a belief).
The federal government usually proves the intentional selection element of section 245 prosecutions by properly introducing ample evidence
related to the chain of events. For example, as discussed above, in a recent section 245 prosecution based on race, a federal court of appeals
found that the prosecution met its burden of proving that the defendant attacked the victim because of his race by introducing admissions that
the defendant stated that "he had once killed a nigger queen," that he attacked the victim "[b]ecause he was a black fag," and by introducing
evidence that the defendant allowed a white gay man to escape further attack, but relentlessly pursued the black gay victim.
Although the Justice Department maintains that it usually avoids attempting to introduce evidence proving nothing more than that a person
holds racist or other bigoted views, it has at least occasionally introduced such evidence. In at least one decision, a federal court of appeals
expressly found admissible such evidence that was wholly unrelated to the chain of events that resulted in the violent act. United States v.
Dunnaway, 88 F.3d 617 (8th Cir. 1996). The court upheld the admissibility of a tattoo of a skinhead group on the inside lip of the defendant
because "[t]he crime in this [section 245] case involved elements of racial hatred." Id. at 618. The tattoo was admissible even in the absence of
any evidence in the decision linking the skinhead group to the violent act.
The decision admitting that evidence of a tattoo confirmed our concerns expressed in the ACLU's brief filed with the Supreme Court in support
of the Wisconsin hate crimes penalty enhancement statute. In asking for guidance from the Court on the applicability of such statutes, the
ACLU stated its concern that evidence of speech should not be relevant unless "the government proves that [the evidence] is directly related to
the underlying crime and probative of the defendant's discriminatory intent." The ACLU brief urged that, "[a]t a minimum, any speech or
association that is not contemporaneous with the crime must be part of the chain of events that led to the crime. Generalized evidence
concerning the defendant's racial views is not sufficient to meet this test."
The ACLU's concern with S. 622 is that we will see even more such evidence admitted in section 245 prosecutions if S. 622 is enacted without an
evidentiary restriction. Many of the arguments made in favor of expanding section 245 are very different than the arguments made in favor of
enacting section 245 nearly 31 years ago. At that time, the focus was on giving the federal government jurisdiction to prosecute numerous
murders of African-Americans, including civil rights workers, which had gone unpunished by state and local prosecutors. The intent was to
have a federal backstop to state and local law enforcement.
Although S. 622 will also serve that important purpose in creating federal jurisdiction, its proponents are focusing on "combating hate," fighting
"hate groups," and identifying alleged perpetrators by their membership in such groups--even in the absence of any link between membership
in the group and the violent act. The arguments are even applied retroactively. During hearings before the Committee last year, the Justice
Department referenced section 245, which passed as an important part of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, as "the federal hate crimes statute."
The danger is that--after a debate focused on combating "hate"--courts, litigants, and jurors applying an expanded and more powerful section
245 may be more likely to believe that speech-related evidence is a proper basis for proving the intentional selection element of the offense,
even when it was unrelated to the chain of events leading to a violent act. The focus may be on proving the selection element by showing "guilt
by association" with groups whose bigoted views we may all find repugnant, but which may have had no role in committing the violent act. We
should add that evidence of association could also just as easily focus on many groups representing the very persons that S. 622 was drafted to
protect.1 Our suggested amendment will preclude all such evidence from becoming the basis for prosecution, unless it was part of the chain of
events leading to the violent act.
However, the proposed evidentiary amendment is not overly expansive. By inserting "mere" before "abstract beliefs" and "membership in an
organization," the provision will bar only evidence that had no direct relationship to the underlying violent offense. It will have no effect on the
admissibility of evidence of membership or belief that bears such a direct relationship to the underlying crime. Thus, the proposal will not bar all
evidence of membership or belief.
Finally, we recognize that statutory restrictions on the admissibility of evidence in criminal matters are not common. However, such restrictions
are not without precedent. In fact, the basic structure for the new paragraph is from 18 U.S.C.A. ß 2101(b), which defines admissible evidence
for an element of the federal riot statute. We believe that the potential for misuse of an expanded section 245 is significant enough to warrant a
statutory restriction on the admissibility of certain evidence.
For the foregoing reasons, the ACLU urges the Committee to amend S. 622 to limit its potential chilling effect on constitutionally protected
speech, but also to use the legislation to expand federal jurisdiction to address the problem of an inadequate state and local response to criminal
civil rights violations. The ACLU appreciates this opportunity to present our concerns.
How has the Academy Awards ceremony changed over the years?
Articles about the winners of the Oscars 1999 awards, the preparations for the Oscars, and the
comparison between Oscars 1999 and others are all on-topic. Predictions
about the winners of the awards of the Oscars 1999 are off-topic.
Oscars, Academy awards, acting, Hollywood
And the Christine Lahti
Award goes to: Kurt
Russell and Goldie Hawn
had a tough time finding
their seats after a
midshow whizz pass, but
Whoopi improvised a wee
Go Awards the
Awards were so
technical screwups that
Anne Heche had to do her
Now, Let's Just Hope He
Doesn't Start Shaving His
Head: Tom Hanks, Roy
Rogers' old horse Trigger
and Whoopi all had
Spielberg-ian facial hair
for the big event
Oops, Looks Like Someone's
Already Beat Him to It:
What, No Thin Red Line
Break Dance? Debbie
Allen's choreography was,
believe it or not, wiggier
than ever, as a group of
dancers hoofed their way
through Life Is Beautiful
flamenco, Saving Private
Ryan tap dancing and
Elizabeth with a Celtic
"I'm behaving like
Tom Stoppard, after
winning for Best
We Love Whoopi, Part 1:
"Wet Dreams May Come--they
told me to be careful of
We Love Whoopi, Part 2:
"The quintessential movie
We Love Whoopi, Part 3:
"A Bug's Life--wasn't that
the Linda Tripp story?"
We Love Whoopi, Part 4:
"I thought the blacklist
was me and Hattie
so drunk he
went home with
a woman his
One-Liner: Steve Martin,
presenting the award for
Adaptation, said, "And the
Eat Your Heart Out, Cuba
Gooding Jr.: Roberto
Benigni, after winning his
first Oscar (for Best
Foreign Film), went crazy,
standing on the back of
chairs in the hall and
hopping up the stairs to
the podium--where the
gymnastics got verbal. He
thanked the Academy for
its "Hailstorm of
kindness" and thanked his
parents, "who gave me the
greatest gift: poverty."
Eat Your Heart Out, Samuel
Goldwyn: Roberto Benigni
after winning his Oscar
for Best Actor: "I would
like to be Jupiter and
kidnap everybody and take
them to the firmament and
make love to everybody."
"Am I allowed to say
that I really wanted
Hollywood's annual fashion show
Stars arrive at the Oscars decked out in expensive jewellery
From feminine frills to foxy frocks, Hollywood's annual
Academy Awards are often more about fashion that film -
and this year is no exception.
Stars use the occasion to showcase creations
from top designers using an army of personal
stylists to get them ready.
One of the first to arrive at the Dorothy
Chandler Pavilion was Gwyneth Paltrow who
has been nominated for a best actress award.
She showed up unfashionably early in a
fantastic full length sugar-pink princess
dress as legions of anonymous attendees
jostled with her for position on the red
Britain's Brenda Blethyn has had a dress
especially made for the occasion too.
Before the ceremony she said:
"It's as much a celebration of fashion as it is a
celebration of film and performance.
"Every camera crew one stops and talks to on
your way up the red carpet wants to know what
you're wearing, who made your shoes, who
made the dress, who did your hair, who did your make-up. I
mean it's bizarre."
Emily Watson wore a lace-bodied grey
Valentino dress with straight skirt as
attended the event for a second time to
hear whether she had won the Best
Actress title for Hilary And Jackie.
She was last at the event two years ago
when she had been nominated for her
part in Breaking The Waves.
"I feel less nervous this time, but it seems
more chaotic this time," she said as she
arrived, adding that she was excited.
Lynn Redgrave, in the running for her role in Gods And
Monsters, arrived in a baby blue silk dress with a matching
shawl over her arms.
Canada's top singer Celine Dion arrived
at the venue wearing a peculiar white
backless dress with matching white hat -
trilby style - at a jaunty coquettish angle.
Kathy Bates, nominated for best
supporting actress, arrived on the red
carpet in a flattering grey number and
said she was thrilled just to be there.
Male attendees traditionally wear more
sober dinner jackets. An elegant Sir Ian
McKellen said he was jittery about the
evening as he arrived at the event.
"Of course, I'm nervous - but excited," said the star,
nominated for his performance in Gods And Monsters.
Asked if he had any message for the fans watching at home, he
said: "Go to bed, for goodness' sake."
Alexandria's New Library
What is the value of Alexandria's new library?
Information about Alexandria's old library is not on topic. Information about contributions
in rebuilding the library, and its value are on topic.
Alexandria's New Library
Ancient Concept, Modern Context
The site in Alexandria, Egypt, of the most celebrated
library in classical antiquity is seeing a worthy replacement
rise in splendid contemporary form.
Mamdouh Hamza, P.E., and Mashhour Ghoneim, P.E.
Photographs by James Willis
Founded by Alexander the Great in 332 B.C., the city of Alexandria was the capital of Egypt for more
than 1,000 years, and the vast library there was for several centuries the cultural center of the Western
world. The library was built by the descendants of Alexander the Great about 2,000 years ago and housed
the largest collection of books in the ancient world-more than 700,000 volumes, including the works of
Homer and the library of Aristotle. Euclid and Archimedes studied there, as did Eratosthenes, the first to
calculate the diameter of the earth.
The library burned to the ground under mysterious circumstances, and while historians disagree about who
was responsible for its destruction, most blame Julius Caesar, who sent fire ships in 48 B.C. to destroy
shipping in the nearby harbor. It is believed these ships also accidentally set fire to the city's royal quarter.
With the intent of reviving the most famous library in antiquity and housing and preserving some 8 million
books, the new Bibliotheca Alexandrina is being constructed on almost the same site as its predecessor. The
idea of reviving the library was first proposed in 1974 but was quickly shelved. The proposal was revived in
the late 1980s, when the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
issued an international appeal for contributions. Egypt's president, Hosni Mubarak, set up the General
Organization of the Alexandria Library (GOAL), and an international design competition was organized.
The $60,000 first prize was awarded to the architecture firm Snohetta, of Oslo, Norway, in September
1987. GOAL proposed six consulting engineers as candidates to form a consortium with Snohetta to
develop the design, but the architect rejected all of them, preferring instead to nominate the consulting
engineer Hamza Associates, of Giza, Egypt.
The design of the new library incorporates four
basement levels and six floors under the highest
point of a dramatic sloping circular roof (see
figure 1[a]). The inspiration for this unusual
shape was Snohetta's. And while the building has
been designed to have an estimated life span of
200 years, there is little doubt that the most
immediate threat to its longevity comes, as
before, from its proximity to the Mediterranean
Sea, only 40 m away. The library's orientation is
dictated by the crucial importance of keeping the
amount of direct sunlight entering the building to
The library building is supported on a
reinforced-concrete raft supported on piles. A
planetarium and a science museum adjacent to
the library building were constructed and
supported on a raft without the need for piles.
The library is 10 stories high and is contained in
an elliptical envelope with a major axis of 160 m.
The four basement levels are below the water
table. The geometry of the building follows the
functional arrangement of bookshelves and
reading desks in identical structural bays
measuring 14.4 by 9.6 m (see figure 2). Under the 16-degree slope of the roof, the bays rise by a series of 4.2
m high stories. However, because the cylinder is tilted at an angle of about 8 degrees to the vertical, the
floor plate and the roof form true circles in the horizontal floor plate and the roof plane.
Like London's British Library, the bulk of the building is sunk underground to protect its precious contents
from the external environment. The dominant element of the Alexandria library is an enormous
open-plan reading room incorporating 2,500 reading sections that cascade down seven terraces. For easy
access, books are stored below the terraces.
The groundwater level-0.8 m above sea level-is 11 m above the basement slab level. The designer, Hamza
Associates, briefly considered constructing the basement within a circular sheet pile cofferdam, but the
sheer size-at least 160 m diameter-ruled out internal propping and Egyptian law would have banned the
use of ground anchors beneath the existing buildings in close proximity. So a bold decision was made. A
diaphragm wall, believed to be the largest ever attempted, was constructed to a total depth of 35 m. The
wall was continuously reinforced, a technique that has never before been tried outside of the Far East.
The library superstructure consists of a reinforced-concrete frame comprising a flat floor of 400 mm deep
waffle (ribbed or hollow-block) slabs, with ribs at 1,000 mm centers. The ribs span to central hidden beams
that are 400 mm deep, which in turn span to columns and walls at 7.2 and 9.6 m centers. At the lower floor
levels, where heavy live loads are applicable, the floor construction relies on 600 mm deep waffle slabs with
corresponding 600 mm deep hidden beams. Reinforced-concrete walls were incorporated into the
construction to account for the lateral loading associated with wind and earthquakes.
There are two additional reinforced-concrete walls on the interior of the diaphragm wall. One of these two
walls stops at the ground level and is separated from the diaphragm wall by a continuously drained
waterproof membrane; this is called the outer wall (see figure 3). It carries vertical loading from the
basement floors and is capable of resisting water pressure should the diaphragm wall leak at any stage
during the structure's 200-year life expectancy. In some areas the outer wall is restrained from lateral
movement by the floor construction, whereas in others, counterfort cross walls link it to the second, or
internal, wall. The internal wall is a partially sunken cylinder that creates a circular plan shape and
supports etched granite cladding panels.
The roof structure is composed of precast girders of reinforced concrete weighing up to 18 Mg and a
diagonal secondary steel system to support the roof glazing and cladding. The girders are simply supported
on column capitals in the form of a 14.4 by 9.6 m grid. They are fixed to the column capitals by single
anchors, which permits rotation at the supports and eliminates temperature effects.
Because of the critical ground conditions, the complex has required extensive foundation and ground
engineering work, including excavation, dewatering, bored piles, and jet grouting improvements (see figure
1[b]). All of the geotechnical work was performed from the working platform at 2 m above sea level. The
groundwater table is about 1 m below the working platform and is influenced by the sea tide.
Fig. 1 Longitudinal Sections
The earth and water retention required for the deep
basements has been accounted for by the diaphragm
wall construction. The diaphragm wall extends to the
sandstone at a depth of 35 m. In conventional
diaphragm wall design, the reinforcement of panels
is effected through discrete vertical cages with no
connections between the reinforcement of the
adjacent panels. When the soil inside an
unsupported, unanchored wall is excavated, the wall
acts, in effect, like a series of individual cantilevers.
But unless these concrete cantilevers are very thick
and very heavily reinforced, water leakage can occur.
Hence, the innovative idea of constructing a circular
wall that would have continuity in its horizontal
reinforcement looked very promising. This wall will
act like a homogeneous cylinder, resisting earth
pressure through the development of hoop stress. The
wall will be a much more efficient structure and will
significantly reduce the weight of the reinforcement.
Unfortunately, the building is not a complete circle
in plan. In the straight part of the wall, vertical
prestressing was used to guarantee watertightness and
reduce the amount of vertical reinforcement to values that ensure the quality of the concrete work. At the
junction between the circular and straight sections, the large hoop forces required box-type wall segments
to safely transmit straining actions between the two parts. In addition, the segments of the circular part
near the junctions needed to be stiffened by a web.
Because of the asymmetrical design of the internal superstructure, variations occur in the intensity of
loading to the piled raft. Large dead loads occur to the south of the site, placing the piles in compression. At
the north section of the site tension piles are necessary to account for the uplift created by the water
pressure as a result of minimal dead loads. In the central area of the site, the piles are in tension or
compression, depending on loading conditions. There are 131 piles 1,500 mm in diameter with a single
underream, or bell-shaped bottom, that are mainly under compression; 325 piles 1,200 mm in diameter
with two underreams that are mainly under tension; and 143 piles 1,000 mm in diameter with two
underreams that can be under compression or tension.
The compression and compression/tension piles were arranged in a grid of 4.8 by 7.2 m. The tension piles
were arranged in a grid of 4.8 by 4.8 m. All the piles were reinforced along their full length. In the
compression piles, however, the amount of steel was reduced in the lower half of the pile.
Piling was carried out to very tight limits. Steel castings were driven down to limestone before boring
commenced. An innovative feature of the piling operations was the underreaming tool used, perhaps the
first ever to feature hydraulic operation and an in-cab readout of depth and diameter. The single or double
underreams it produced were checked for shape by an ultrasonic profiler developed in Japan by the firm
Koden. This assessment also gave a quick readout of the alignment and cross section of the main shaft
before the reinforcement cage was lowered. Sonic integrity testing was carried out after the concrete was
placed by means of steel pipes cast into the piles. Where any defects were discovered, holes were drilled
through the pile to the level of the defect and the resultant void was grouted. The pile was then retested.
The complex grouting operation began within a few hours of the concrete placement. The aim of the
grouting was to improve the base bearing and the shaft bond capacity. French style tubes ŗ manchette were
used. Each pile had four plastic tubes cast into the concrete cover zone, and each tube was drilled with four
circumferential holes every 500 mm along its length. These holes were sealed with rubber collars, and the
tubes were connected in pairs to form flat U shapes at the bottom of the piles. Pumped water broke the
collars and cracked the concrete cover. Grout then flowed between the pile and the surrounding shaft. The
grout also filled any fissures in the sandstone and limestone and ensured contact between the concrete shaft
and the surrounding concrete. The bases of compression piles were grouted by connecting the grout tubes to
The thickness of the raft supported on the compression or the compression/tension piles is 1,275 mm. The
raft was connected to the fourth basement slab by a system of vertical webs and short columns. The space
between the top of the raft and the bottom of the fourth basement slab has been left open for future
inspection. To reduce the amount of tension in the tension piles, additional dead load has been
incorporated into the structure by increasing the thickness of the raft from 1,275 to 2,400 mm in the area
where the raft is supported on tension piles (see figure 3[a]). The increased raft thickness also increases the
flexural capacity of the raft in case any damage occurs to the tension piles in the future. To minimize the
bending moments in the raft, all of the supporting columns are lined up nearly vertically with the piles in a
one-column/one-pile concept. The shear walls and cores, however, transmit their loads indirectly to the
supporting piles through the bending action of the raft.
The reinforced-concrete raft was cast on top of a 200 mm thick raft of plain concrete on which a
waterproofing membrane had been placed. The raft is structurally separated from the diaphragm wall. To
ensure full insulation for the library building, the edges of the raft are connected to the outer wall. The
outer wall is connected to the diaphragm wall by a very stiff capping beam to ensure that the diaphragm
wall works together with the other elements of the building in resisting any actions caused by earthquakes
(see figure 3).
The inner face of the diaphragm wall is covered by high-density polyethylene (HDPE) sheets. The fact that
about one-third of the total number of piles will be permanently subjected to tension created a challenge,
especially when a life span of 200 years was considered. Part of the solution involved limiting the widths of
potential cracks in the tension piles by limiting the stresses in the steel reinforcement. Special care has been
taken to ensure that the connections between the tension piles and the raft foundation are watertight. All
steel rebars in the top 1.2 m of the piles were placed inside HDPE sleeves with cementitious, nonshrinking
grout in the space between the bar and the sleeve.
Despite the fact that the library building has floors with very large spans
and walls that have a perimeter of about 570 m, no
expansion/contraction joints were provided. This required the designers
to conduct a sophisticated thermal analysis, one that regarded the entire
building as a single unit under the effect of uniform as well as
nonuniform changes in temperature. A three-dimensional
finite-element computer model was developed to idealize the library
building, the raft foundation, and the piles. Three-dimensional shell
elements were used to model the raft, the floor slabs, and the walls. The
columns were modeled using three-dimensional frame elements. The
piles were modeled using one-dimensional spring elements. The stiffness
of the piles varied depending on the diameter of the pile and on whether
it was subjected to tension or compression.
Because of the necessity of providing large spaces that are free of
columns, the spans of the library floors are relatively large and the
dimensions of the concrete columns are relatively small-1,000 mm in
diameter. Waffle slabs were used to cover the large spans. The small
dimensions of the columns have been compensated for by increasing the
amount of vertical reinforcement and using relatively high strength
concrete. Shear walls and cores were designed to provide the required
lateral load resistance.
It is only from the inside of the library that the scale of the project
becomes apparent. Its tall, slender columns and high roof create a
cathedral-like atmosphere. The elimination of columns in some floors
required the use of hangers with which the floors above are supported. A
sophisticated structural analysis was required to examine the stability of
the structure supported on reinforced-concrete hangers under various
load cases. The concept of having alternative load paths was also adopted
in such cases. Should the hangers fail, the hanging floor will still be
stable, but it will suffer some serviceability problems, such as deflections
or cracks. These problems, however, will be correctable.
The columns supporting the roof of the library are spaced on a grid of
14.4 by 9.6 m. These columns, including capitals, are up to 16 m in height and 70 cm in diameter. They are
rigidly connected to their lower ends and restrained from lateral movement by the roof girders at the top
ends. Column capitals are precast on the ground, lifted to their specified position on top of the cast columns,
and rigidly connected to the columns by welding around the steel base and sole plates.
The exterior of the new library presents a monochromatic expanse in the form of the cylinder's perimeter
wall (the inner wall) as it rises above pavement level. Far from being a smooth, metallic, high-tech skin,
this is a curving cliff face of roughly cleft gray granite quarried in southern Egypt in Aswan. The only
interruptions in the granite face are the large letters that have been carved into its surface. To symbolize
world literature, the letters have been taken from as many alphabets as could be found.
The design of the adjacent planetarium seeks to suggest a planet in
space. The structure was therefore designed as a complete sphere,
18 m in diameter, suspended in air. The upper two-thirds of the
sphere is projected above the ground level, while the lower third is
hidden inside a 24 by 24 m pit with the bottom slab 13 m below the
center of the sphere. The sphere hangs from two orthogonal
through-type bridges used for visitor access to the facility. The
bridges are supported on top of the reinforced-concrete walls of
the pit. The access and stage floors of the planetarium are located
at the levels of the bottom and top chords of the bridges,
respectively. The sphere cladding is constructed of black-striped
lightweight precast glass-reinforced cement plates, while the
bridges are clad with silver aluminum.
The structure of the sphere is built up from steel tube members
connected to one another by patented ball joints. Each of the two
bridges spans 24 m, with their two girders 3.1 m in height and
spaced 2.4 m apart. Each girder is a combined truss/Vierendeel
system, with the diagonal members inside the sphere eliminated to
make the space in the access floor usable. Each girder has one
restrained and one movable neoprene bearing. The members of the
main girders have closed box cross sections. The two girders of each
bridge are connected horizontally by bracing members in the
planes of their top and bottom chords.
The transfer of loads from the sphere to the bridges is through two
horizontal, circular ring beams provided at the levels of the top
and bottom chords. The upper part of the sphere rests on the top
ring beam while the tower part is hung from the bottom ring beam.
The two ring beams are interconnected by tubular members to
complete the sphere and to form a circular steel deck. The deck is
supported on traditional secondary beams carried by the bridge
chord members and the ring beams. The complete steel
structure-including the members of the geodesic sphere, the two
horizontal circular ring beams, and the four truss/Vierendeel
girders-was analyzed by the finite-element method. Static and
dynamic analyses were carried out.
The Bibliotheca Alexandrina has been a long time in the making.
An archaeological investigation was begun in 1992, but no
identifiable traces of the original library were uncovered.
Construction of the main diaphragm wall for the library together
with piles started in May 1995, and casting of the piled raft started in July 1996. The superstructure of the
library was completed in February 1999, and the building will be occupied in July of this year.
Most of the project funding has come from the Egyptian government. UNESCO is also supporting the
project in technical matters relating to the running of the library and the acquisition of books. The
foundation works were carried out by a joint venture of the Rodio Group, of Lodi, Italy; TRAVI
Foundation Specialists, of Cesena, Italy; and Arab Contractors, of Cairo. The completion of this unique
and imposing building will be carried out by a joint venture of Arab Contractors and the London-based
contractor Balfour Beatty Plc.
Although it took 12 years to develop, the new Alexandria library was built in strict accordance with the
design that won the international competition. The new Bibliotheca Alexandrina is a testament to modern
architectural and engineering design, and it could, given the texts and publications from all over the world
that it will contain, become a major attraction for cultural and intellectual pursuits to rival its predecessor.
Mamdouh Hamza, P.E., is a professor of soil mechanics and foundation engineering in Egypt at the
Suez Canal University and is the chairman and founder of the consulting firm Hamza Associates, of
Giza, Egypt. Mashhour Ghoneim, PE, is an associate professor of structural engineering at Cairo
University and a senior associate of Hamza Associates.
Mad Cow disease
How did the world face the Mad Cow disease in 1999?
All articles about the consequences of that disease, its side effects and how people reacted to them (new research, drugs...) are on topic. Articles that contain short definitions of the disease accompanied with any of the above are also on topic.
Long definitions, things that did not happen in 1999, or personal experiences are not on topic.
Mad cow disease, meat
Confirmed: Mad cow disease kills humans
Tuesday, 21 December 1999
A new study has British
authorities worried that
the full extent of the
British 'mad cow'
disaster may not be
clear for many years to
The research, by
Michael Scott and
colleagues at the
University of California,
San Francisco, and
Hospital in Edinburgh, Scotland, is published in
this week's Proceedings of the National Academy
of Sciences (PNAS), and comes towards the end of
a British inquiry into the cause of the outbreak.
According to the BBC, the chairman of the
two-year-long inquiry, Lord Phillips, has warned
that the human deaths recorded so far as being
due to 'mad cow' disease may be only "the tip of
Many experts believe that the appearance of a new
form of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans in
1996 - which causes sponge-like holes in the
brain - is linked to 'mad cow disease' (bovine
spongiform encephalopathy or BSE), via infectious
proteins called prions.
However the study in PNAS is, according to the
journal, the first compelling data to indicate that
the particular strain of prion implicated in mad
cow disease is the same strain that causes the
variant of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.
By transfering genes from cows into mice, the
researchers created a genetically altered line of
mice that produced the same prion proteins
naturally found in cows.
They discovered there was no "species barrier"
protecting members of one species from prions
from a different species.
Approximately 250 days after being inoculated
with prions from diseased cows, the transgenic
mice developed the disease.
A second group of mice inoculated with prions
from the first group of diseased mice also became
sick after a virtually identical period of time.
Most significantly, inoculation of the transgenic
mice with prions from human cases of the new
form of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease produced the
same incubation period and pattern of brain
damage as had inoculation with prions from
Additionally, inoculation of transgenic mice with
prions from sheep with scrapie -- another
prion-related disease causing neurological
damage -- produced prions with dramatically
different biological properties.
Alice Trinkl, News Director
Source: Jennifer O'Brien
for immediate release
DATA ESTABLISHES LINK BETWEEN "MAD COW" DISEASE, HUMAN BRAIN DISORDER
Researchers are reporting what they say is the most compelling evidence, to
date, that the infectious proteins called prions that cause bovine spongiform
encephalopathy (BSE), or "mad cow" disease, have infected humans, causing fatal
Recent studies have suggested that the outbreak of mad cow disease in the late
1980s in Great Britain was responsible for the emergence of a new variant of
Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a fatal brain-degenerative disease in humans also
caused by prions. However, the link has been inconclusive. The current study
establishes that the particular strain of prions, responsible for mad cow
disease, is, in fact, the same strain that causes new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob
The finding, reported in the December 20 issue of Proceedings of National
Academy of Sciences, is particularly unsettling because it undermines the
comforting presumption that a "species barrier" dramatically lessened the
likelihood that people exposed to "mad cow" disease through meats, cosmetics,
and medicinal supplies would be infected. The species barrier refers to the
relative lack of susceptibility of one species to prions derived from another
While Great Britain took the necessary measures in the late 1980s to limit
spread of the disease, the disease is believed to incubate for at least 10
years, making it impossible to predict, the researchers said, how many people
have been infected.1
More than 175,000 cattle, primarily dairy cows have died of BSE during the past
decade. More than 50 teenagers and young adults have died of new-variant
Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (nvCJD) since 1995. Nine new deaths from CJD were
reported in the last quarter of 1998.
While the origins of BSE remain obscure, one possibility is that the cattle
developed the disease by being fed meat and bone meal contaminated with prions
from the sheep with the disease, scrapie.
No cattle in the United States were contaminated with "mad cow" disease, and no
cases of new-variant CJD, have been reported in this country, according to
public health officials at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. To protect
public health, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration banned the use of most
mammalian protein in the production of animal feeds for cows, sheep and goats
The study was conducted by researchers in the UC San Francisco Institute for
Neurodegenerative Diseases, using brain tissue from human cases supplied by
researchers at the National CJD Survelliance Unit, Western General Hospital,
Edinburgh, Scotland. The Director of the UC San Francisco Institute, Stanley B.
Prusiner, MD, UCSF professor of neurology, biochemistry and biophysics, won the
Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1997 for discovering that the
neurodegenerative diseases known as spongiform encephalopathies were caused by
Prusiner and Stephen A. DeArmond, MD, PhD, UCSF professor of pathology and
chief of the Division of Neuropathology, were the senior authors of the study.
The current finding builds on recent epidemiological studies, along with
studies of the prion protein and transmissions to inbred mice and primates,
that suggest a link between the cow and human forms of prion disease.
The researchers conducted their study by first creating a line of transgenic
mice genetically engineered to contain genes for the bovine prion protein.
(Prion proteins are not, in themselves, lethal. They exist in all mammals and
birds that have been examined, including humans, and become destructive only
when their shape is altered, a change that occurs either through infection by
an already infectious protein or through a genetic mutation.) The line of mice
was known as Tg(BOPrP).
The researchers then inoculated the mice with prions from diseased cows. And
approximately 250 days after being inoculated, all of the transgenic mice
developed the neurologic disease.
Next, another group of mice was inoculated with prions from the diseased mice,
and this group became sick after a virtually identical period of time,
confirming that the transgenic mice transmit mad cow disease prions with no
detectable change of strain or species-specific properties attributable to the
Finally, and most important, transgenic mice inoculated with prions from human
cases of new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease produced the same incubation
period and pattern of brain damage as had inoculation with prions from diseased
To test their findings, the researchers inoculated transgenic mice with prions
from sheep with scrapie, another prion disease causing neurological damage, and
determined that these prions have dramatically different biological properties.
"BSE and new variant CJD produce the identical disease pattern of disease in
Tg(BOPrP) mice, and those characteristics were those different than that found
with inocula from other CJD cases or scrapie from sheep. These findings argue
unequivocally that BSE and new variant CJD are the same strain of prion," said
senior author DeArmond.
"The fact that the human new-variant CJD prions so precisely duplicate the
properties of native bovine BSE prions in their behavior on transmission to the
transgenic mice creates a compelling argument for a persuasive link between BSE
and nvCJD," said Michael R. Scott, PhD, UCSF associate adjunct professor in the
Institute for Neurodegenerative Diseases and the lead author of the study.
Given the enormity of the affected cattle population in Great Britain, a means
of assessing risk to the human population is paramount, and more sensitive
methods for detection of prions are urgently needed, the researchers said. The
newly developed mouse model, Tg (BoPrP), should provide a sensitive test for
detecting BSE prions, they said.
Co-authors of the paper were Hoang-Oanh B. Nguyen, BS, UCSF staff research
associate, and Patrick Tremblay, PhD, UCSF assistant adjunct professor, both of
the UCSF Institute for Neurodegenerative Diseases, Departments of Neurology;
and Robert Will, MD, and James Ironside, MD, of National CJD Survelliance Unit,
Western General Hospital, Edinburgh, Scotland.
The work was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the G. Harold and
Leila Y. Mathers Foundation.
-- end --
1 To protect public health, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration banned the
use of most mammalian protein in the production of animal feeds for cows, sheep
and goats in 1997. And companies that produce drugs from animal tissues are
required to conduct a purification process intended to destroy prions. These
moves followed the 1989 regulation in Great Britain banning the use of offal in
But the FDA ban excludes processed products produced from blood, collagen and
gelatin for human consumption. And the UCSF scientists are concerned that
these materials might harbor prions under some unusual circumstances.
Moreover, they are worried that the technique being used to screen cattle
products is not sensitive enough.
Prior to development of transgenic mice harboring bovine prion protein genes,
the only sure-proof way to determine if a live cow has bovine spongiform
encephalopathy (BSE) is to wait out its lengthy incubation period--a minimum of
four years. To circumvent this delay, scientists inject cattle tissue into
"wild-type," or normal, mice to see if they develop the disease. But
non-transgenic, normal mice have severe limitations: the animals take nearly a
year to develop signs of the disease, they develop it only sporadically, and
acquire it only when exposed to high levels of prions.
2 Prusiner won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1997 for
discovering that the neurodegenerative diseases known as spongiform
encephalopathies, which include "mad cow disease," are caused by an infectious
form of a protein that exists in all mammals and birds examined, including
He proposed that the protein becomes infectious and destructive only when its
shape is altered, and that this change occurs either through infection by an
already infectious protein or through a genetic mutation. The protein is
believed to be the principal, if not sole, component of an infectious particle
that Prusiner named "prion" (PREE-on), for proteinaceous infectious particle.
The normal protein is referred to as PrPc.
What measures did governments take to protect the environment and reduce pollution in the last year?
Articles about new laws passed or efforts made in 1999 to protect the environment are
on-topic. Articles mentioning statistics of the level
of pollution in the world in 1999 without mentioning how to save the
environment from this pollution are off-topic.
31 July 2001
EXPENDITURE BY INDUSTRY ON ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION
Companies are now spending more on integrating environmental protection into the process rather than waiting to
clean up at 'end-of-pipe'. This is one of the findings in a research report on Environmental Protection Expenditure
by Industry 1999, published today by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
The report includes estimates for the UK of gross and net environmental protection expenditure, by type of
expenditure and broken down by industry classification and company size.
UK industry spent an estimated £4.1 billion (Ī £800 million at 95% confidence intervals) on environmental
protection during 1999, representing approximately ĺ per cent of total turnover.
The primary spending industries were food production, beverages and tobacco products, chemicals and metals.
The majority of spending was for the protection of air and water and for the treatment and disposal of solid
The proportion of capital expenditure spent on 'integrated' processes compared to 'end-of-pipe' pollution
control has increased, nearly one-half in 1999 compared to under 30 per cent in a 1997 survey. This reflects
changes to the environmental regulatory process, where the emphasis is shifting from applying methods to clean
up emissions and wastes to introducing production facilities that have been designed so that environmental
protection is an 'integrated' part of the proces
FY 1999 Environmental Protection Agency Appropriations Testimony
The EPA's scientific research and development programs are of interest to many of ASM's members who work in
the fields of applied and environmental microbiology. Research on environmental microbiology is essential for
maintaining air, water, and soil quality; for assuring the safety of potable water supplies; and for providing safe
means for waste disposal. Support of applied research in the field of environmental microbiology can lead to
enhanced environmental quality and help protect human health. The ASM believes that sound public policy for
environmental protection depends on adequately funded programs of intramural and extramural research based on
a system of peer review to assure that support is awarded to research programs having both quality and relevance.
The EPA, which has partnered with the NSF in recent years for peer review of some extramural research programs,
now is undertaking its own peer review system based upon the NSF model. Critical peer review of both the
intramural and extramural research programs of the EPA are necessary for ensuring the quality and scientific
validity of studies that are funded.
Science to Achieve Results Program
The EPA's Science to Achieve Results (STAR) program is an important extramural research initiative. This
program is targeted to receive $99 million for FY 1999, a $12 million increase over last year's budget of about $87
million. This program funds important environmental research proposals from scientists outside the federal
government and is a valuable resource for the EPA in finding solutions to many of the complex environmental
problems we face today. Grants made under the STAR program last from two to three years and provide about
$150,000 of scientific support per grant year. The STAR program funds projects in specific focal areas including,
bioremediation, drinking water, ecology of harmful algal blooms, water and watersheds, ecosystem indicators,
pollution prevention, and ecological assessment, which have significant microbiological components. The ASM
urges the Congress to fully fund the STAR program at the requested level of $99 million.
Drinking Water Research
In past years, the EPA has funded a disproportionate number of projects in chemistry as opposed to microbiology in
research areas such as drinking water. Given the risks posed by waterborne pathogens, as evidenced by disease
outbreaks such as Cryptosporidium in Milwaukee and economic losses such as the estimated $43 million loss due to
Pfiesteria in the Chesapeake Bay, the ASM believes that more emphasis needs to be placed on microbiology.
The ASM believes it is imperative to provide sound reliable science to support the EPA in its effort to promulgate
responsible regulations to protect human health from the risks associated with such contaminants. For example,
much research needs to be conducted to control the outbreaks of human exposure to the protozoan
Cryptosporidium in our drinking water as well as to other pathogens. To date, hundreds of people have died and
many thousands have become ill as a result of exposure to microbial pathogens in potable water. In 1993, 400,000
people became infected with Cryptosporidium from Milwaukee's water supply. The EPA must develop
advance-warning systems that increase protection of public health and enable the nation to avoid future incidents
such as the devastating Cryptosporidium outbreak in Milwaukee that was disseminated via the municipal potable
water supply. The protection of the American people from the potential health risks of exposure to microbial
contaminants in their drinking water is reason enough to require the EPA to support research related to the
microbial quality of water. This research should be coordinated with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
(CDC), particularly with respect to emerging waterborne pathogens.
Graduate Environmental Fellowship Program
The ASM urges Congress to fund the EPA's Graduate Fellowship Program at a $15 million level for FY 1999, a $5
million increase over the President's request and last year's funding level of $10 million. The EPA's Graduate
Environmental Fellowship Program is one of the many initiatives the federal government must fully support to
ensure that the nation is prepared to answer the complex scientific questions of the future. Both the public and
private sectors will need a steady stream of well trained environmental specialists. The fellowship program
encourages promising environmental graduate students to pursue careers in environmentally related fields. With
environmental challenges facing the nation including cleaning up toxic waste, ensuring cleaner air and water, and
providing safe drinking water, there is a clear need for highly skilled, well trained environmental experts to find
solutions to these pressing issues. However, it is essential that once the EPA receives funding for this important
program, the agency support fellowships in areas related to the microbial risks in the environment including water
quality and bioremediative techniques to clean up toxic waste.
Targeting Research to Regulation
The ASM urges Congress to require the EPA to examine its basic research programs to ensure their adequacy for
providing the information necessary for sound rule making. The ASM is concerned that the basic research that
underpins environmental policy and rule making in specific areas is inadequate. We note for example that the 1999
proposed STAR program, highlighted above, has not identified animal wastes and contamination of water as an area
for basic research funding even though the EPA has made this a critical issue for its regulatory oversight.
Regulations must be based on sound science. The ASM is supportive of an independent study by an expert scientific
panel to review the coordination of intramural and extramural activities aimed at ensuring that basic research is
performed in areas where they are needed to formulate environmental policy and to allow scientifically valid
regulatory oversight. To address this issue, the ASM urges the Committee to insert the following report language:
It is the opinion of the Committee that Americans should be protected from the threat of pathogenic
microorganisms in their drinking waters and recreational waters through scientifically risk-based
regulation. The Committee therefore requests the Agency to take steps to ensure that research and
fellowships related to improving the microbial quality of water are supported through the STAR program
and the Environmental Graduate Fellowship Program as well as other EPA research efforts. This should
include the commissioning of an independent study by an expert scientific panel to review the coordination
of EPA intramural and extramural activities aimed at ensuring that basic research is performed in areas
where they are needed to formulate environmental policy and to allow scientifically valid regulatory
Red Cross activities
What has been the Red Cross' international role in the last year?
Articles concerning the Red Cross's activities around the globe
are on topic. Has the RC's role changed? Information restricted to
international relief efforts that do not include the RC are off-topic.
Red cross, activities
31-08-2000 Annual Report 1999
Dakar, regional delegation (covering Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger,
President ousted in Guinea-Bissau
On 31 January fighting broke out in Guinea-Bissau for the third time since 1998 7 between troops loyal
to the President and those of the military junta. Some 70,000 people fled, approximately 100 were killed
and 400 wounded. The President met the head of the military junta in Bissau on 20 February and announced
the creation of a government of national unity. With the withdrawal of foreign troops from Senegal and
Guinea by mid-March, most of the displaced people returned home. The truce was short-lived, however. A
further bout of fighting in May prompted yet another exodus from the capital. After two days of clashes
in which 80 people died and
more than 200 were injured, the government forces were defeated and the military junta's soldiers
marched into Bissau. As calm returned to the capital, displaced people began to flock back. ECOMOG
peacekeeping forces, which had refrained from taking part in the fighting, ended their mission in
Guinea-Bissau in May. Presidential elections were held on 28 November in a generally quiet and orderly
manner, with the two leading candidates going forward to a second round scheduled for January 2000.
Emergency response during the fighting
At the height of the fighting, the ICRC publicly appealed to the parties to comply with the rules of
humanitarian law. The violence of the exchanges of artillery fire in Bissau in January made it difficult
for ICRC delegates to move about the capital freely, but as soon as it was safe to do so they delivered
emergency medical supplies to the Simao Mendes Central Hospital, where five surgeons were operating
round the clock on the war-wounded, while National Society staff evacuated the wounded and dead. When
displaced people returned to the capital following the truce, the ICRC and the National Society
distributed emergency assistance to those whose homes had been destroyed in the fighting. In May, an
ICRC team worked alongside the National Society, administering first aid, evacuating the wounded to
hospital and transporting corpses to the morgue.
Visits to detainees proceed
Visits continued to prisoners held by the military junta. In January, for the first time since the onset
of hostilities, delegates were also able to visit people detained by the government in connection with
the conflict. Following the junta's victory in May, the ICRC approached the new authorities and ECOMOG
in order to obtain access to more than 700 newly arrested people, including members of the old regime.
Although many were rapidly released, more than 100 detainees falling under the ICRC's mandate were still
being held at the end of the year, awaiting the next step in the legal process.
Following the end of hostilities and the return of displaced people to their homes, the ICRC scaled down
its Red Cross message service and relief activities. Four field trips carried out by the ICRC throughout
the country to assess the situation revealed that farmers were able to harvest and sell their cashew
nuts, enabling them to purchase enough rice to see the population through to the next rice harvest.
Glimmer of hope in Casamance
A meeting between the Senegalese President and the MFDC* leader on 22 January hinted at the possibility
of peace for Senegal's conflict-torn Casamance region. A further positive sign was the release in
February of 117 people held in connection with the unrest. Clashes were nonetheless regularly reported
between the separatist movement and the armed forces, especially in areas close to the border with
Guinea-Bissau, where the MFDC continued to maintain bases. The fighting claimed DAKAR
civilian lives and led to fresh population displacements. Peace talks got under way in Banjul on 26
December, the third attempt by the two parties since 1991 to find a peaceful settlement to the conflict.
On the last day of the year, 41 detainees held in connection with Casamance events were released after
receiving a presidential pardon.
Vegetable gardens to improve detainees' health
The ICRC continued to visit detainees held in connection with the strife in Casamance. It launched its
third vegetable garden project, this time at the Bignona prison, where the annual production of roughly
85 tonnes of vegetables was intended to help improve the nutritional intake of detainees at the Bignona
and Ziguinchor prisons. The Kolda vegetable garden project, which had yielded 45 tonnes of vegetables in
its initial one-year period, continued to run successfully and greatly helped to balance and enhance the
quality and quantity of food distributed to the detainees.
Troubles persist in northern Mali
Municipal elections in Mali in June concluded the election process (legislative, presidential and
municipal) initiated in 1997. Although the elections were relatively unperturbed in most parts of the
country, there were upheavals in the Gao and Kidal regions. Inter-ethnic clashes occurred in July and
August in the north, claiming some 30 victims. Additional troops were deployed in the northern part of
the country to help ease tensions. The situation in the north, compounded by the activities of armed
bandits, seriously restricted the ICRC's movements in the area.
Programmes completed in northern Mali
In 1999 the ICRC completed two major projects for the population in northern Mali begun in the early
1990s in the aftermath of the rebellion and designed to help counter the region's recurrent instability
and chronic underdevelopment. The first, conducted over a period of three years, involved constructing
or rehabilitating and equipping 19 community health centres - ten around Timbuktu by an ICRC team, and
nine around Bourem in Gao as part of a project delegated to the Belgian Red Cross. ICRC and Belgian Red
Cross teams conducted missions to the field to offer people in remote areas health services similar to
those provided in the health centres,
such as vaccination, and to raise awareness of basic health standards. By the end of the year, the ICRC
and the Belgian Red Cross were in a position to hand over responsibility for all the health centres to
local associations representing the communities.
The ICRC also completed its water and sanitation project, begun in 1997. Over three years it sank or
rehabilitated some 150 wells or water holes serving health centres and remote rural communities without
access to clean water.
Seminar on light weapons
With the financial and technical support of the Norwegian Red Cross, PCASED* and the ICRC, the Mali Red
Cross Society organized a seminar in Bamako on 5 and 6 October on the theme of "humanitarian challenges
in the face of the proliferation of light weapons", attended by representatives of the National
Societies of nine ECOWAS member States (Mali, Senegal, CŰte d'Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Guinea,
Guinea-Bissau, Cape Verde, Togo and Benin). An official ceremony commemorating the 50th anniversary of
the Geneva Conventions was held alongside the seminar, with the participation of the former Malian head
of State, Amadou Toumani Tourť.
Coup d'ťtat in Niger
On 9 April a coup d'ťtat which led to the assassination of the President, who himself came to power in a
coup in 1996, caused worldwide indignation and the immediate suspension of international aid to Niger.
The junta regime that followed the coup set up a Niger Reconciliation Council, a body of 14 members
acting as the supreme executive power. Six months after the coup, on 17 October, presidential and
legislative elections were held and the military rulers prepared to hand over power to a civilian
government, but not before securing an amnesty for themselves and those who had taken part in the 1996
Protests in Burkina Faso
Violent demonstrations in Burkina Faso following the murder of journalist Norbert Zongo in December 1998
gave way to generally peaceful student, trade union and human rights group protests against the reign of
impunity. Riots erupted again at the end of November in Ouagadougou, opposing the security forces and
students demanding the release of 22 of their colleagues arrested during earlier protests.
Assistance to BurkinabŤ returnees
Some 10,000 people of BurkinabŤ nationality, violently expelled from CŰte d'Ivoire in November ,
returned to Burkina Faso. Many had had to leave everything behind. With ICRC support, the BurkinabŤ Red
Cross mounted an assistance operation for the returnees in several towns along the border.
Gambia: detainees allowed to communicate with families
In July the ICRC was given permission to exchange Red Cross messages on behalf of detainees held in Mile
2 prison in Banjul, Gambia, for their part in the 1994 coup attempt. They had been kept incommunicado
for more than four years.
On 26 November, a working meeting was held between the Interministerial Committee on Humanitarian Law
and the ICRC to examine the status of implementation of humanitarian law in Senegal.
Following the coup in Niger, the ICRC established contact with the new authorities during a mission to
Niamey in June in order to secure guarantees from the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Defence, Justice and
Higher Education that humanitarian law programmes would continue. Another mission to Niamey in October
was undertaken by the representative of the ICRC's Advisory Service based in Abidjan and a delegate from
Bamako at the request of Niger's Ministry of Justice and Human Rights to assist the authorities in
revising the penal code to take into account grave breaches of humanitarian law.
Humanitarian law implementation
In Burkina Faso, a seminar on the implementation of humanitarian law in May, attended by some 50 key
figures from various ministries and by representatives of the National Society, and a follow-up meeting
in July, resulted in the creation of a provisional national committee with a view to incorporating
humanitarian law into national legislation.
An assessment of the current state of implementation of humanitarian law in Gambia was finalized by a
Gambian lawyer and, on the ICRC's recommendation, the government created an interministerial committee
on humanitarian law on 12 August. This was followed on 30 November and 1 December by Gambia's first
seminar on the implementation of humanitarian law, organized jointly by the ICRC, the Gambia Red Cross
Society and the Gambian Department of State for Justice.
Humanitarian law and military training
The Mali armed forces Chief-of-Staff and close advisors met with a view to incorporating a compulsory
humanitarian law programme into the curricula of military education centres as of 2000. On 12 August,
the ICRC held a meeting with some 30 senior officers to emphasize the importance of disseminating
humanitarian law to the Malian armed forces and of including it in military training. The Chief-of-Staff
and Joint Chiefs-of-Staff attended the presentation, as did the directors of the military academies. A
meeting was also held in May with the Minister of Defence and his key advisor in Ouagadougou to discuss
the dissemination of humanitarian law to the BurkinabŤ armed forces and its teaching in military
Following the authorization received in May from the Army Commander, dissemination sessions began for
members of the Gambian armed forces. The first and second phases of the programme went ahead in military
barracks in Banjul and the interior in July and October respectively. On these occasions, copies of the
"Soldier's Manual", specially printed by the delegation in the national colours, were distributed to the
How have Lyme Disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF) and the West Nile virus changed the way Americans interact with nature and/or the suburban landscape?
Articles related to West Nile virus, RMSF and Lyme disease warnings are
on-topic. Information about how people live during the summer months
(barbecue, etc) and how this has changed due to fear of tick- and mosquito-borne diseases are on-topic. Stories about similar diseases
outside of the US are off-topic.
insects, Lyme Disease, ticks, West Nile virus, Rocky Mountain spotted fever
Common Insect-Borne Diseases
source: The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
Bugs (insects) spread many infectious diseases around the
world. In the United States, ticks have long been associated
with illnesses such as Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain
spotted fever. Mosquitoes spread West Nile disease and other
encephalitis viruses, and fleas continue to transmit the
occasional case of bubonic plague.These insects are called
"vectors" or organisms that transmit a pathogen to another
living organism. Vectors therefore serve as an intermediate
host between one organism to the next. Often, important life
cycle stages are completed within a given intermediate host.
Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
Rocky Mountain spotted fever
(RMSF) is caused by tiny
bacteria called rickettsiae that
live inside the cells of infected
individuals. It has been reported
throughout the United States,
but is most prevalent in the
South Atlantic and
South-Central states. In 1999,
579 cases were reported to the
The bacterial species responsible for RMSF, Rickettsia
ricketsii, is passed to humans through the bite of a tick. Once
in the bloodstream, the microbes enter the endothelial cells
that line the blood vessels, and there they reproduce. As the
bacteria divide, they spread throughout the circulatory system
and invade more endothelial cells. Sites of infection can swell,
and red blood cells can leak out of the vessels into surrounding
RMSF symptoms include fever, headache, rash, and muscle
aches. The characteristic rash is an important indicator of
infection. The disease can usually be cured with antibiotics,
especially when given early. No vaccine is available.
Lyme Disease > view our feature on Lyme Disease
Lyme disease was first reported in 1975
after researchers investigated why
unusually large numbers of children were
being diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid
arthritis in Lyme, Connecticut, and two
neighboring towns. Scientists soon
discovered the disease was caused by a
corkscrew-shaped bacterium called
Borrelia burgdorferi passed to humans
through the bite of a tick. The bacterium is carried by the deer
tick in the eastern and central United States and by the
Western black-legged tick on the Pacific coast.
In 1999, 16,273 cases were reported to the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention.1 In the United States more than 90
percent of all reported cases occur in the Northeast,
mid-Atlantic, and the upper Midwest. Few cases have been
reported in northern California and remaining states.
The first sign of Lyme disease is often a circular or
bullseye-like rash appearing at the site of a tick bite within a
few weeks of the bite. Sometimes the rash is the first sign a
person has been bitten. As the rash progresses it can appear on
other sites of the body. The disease is easily cured at this stage
with antibiotics, so careful attention to the symptoms is critical
for proper care. If left untreated, many people develop pain and
swelling in the joints, which may progress to chronic arthritis.
In some cases, neurological symptoms also appear.
To reduce the risk of infection, a Lyme disease vaccine
(LYMErixģ) is available for use by people who live in endemic
areas and are at high risk for developing the disease
Ehrlichiosis describes several tick-borne
bacterial infections originally known to
only affect dogs and livestock in the
United States, although human disease
has been reported in the Far East since
the 1950s. Since the mid-1980s,
however, bacteria of the genus Ehrlichia
have increasingly infected humans in the United States. In
June 1999, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
began listing ehrlichiosis as a reportable disease; 302 cases
were reported in 1999.
Ehrlichia bacteria live inside the cells of infected individuals
and cause two major diseases in the U.S. human population.
Human granulocytic ehrlichiosis (HGE) occurs when the
bacteria infect granulocytes, specific cells involved in immune
responses and allergies. Human monocytic ehrlichiosis (HME)
occurs when a different Ehrlichia species infects
macrophages, another type of immune cell.
HGE and HME differ, but their symptoms overlap. Both often
cause fever, headaches, and aches and pains, but a rash is not
as common as with Rocky Mountain spotted fever or Lyme
disease. HGE and HME can be treated with antibiotics if the
infection is detected early. No vaccine is available.
Babesiosis > view our feature on Babesiosis
Babesiosis is a tick-borne disease
caused by malaria-like parasites of
the genus Babesia. These
single-celled organisms invade red
blood cells and may cause fatigue,
aches, fever, chills, sweating, dark
urine, enlarged spleen, or anemia.
Infections can range from no serious
symptoms to fatal disease. Tracking
Babesia infections is difficult due to
the number of asymptomatic
First reported as "Texas cattle fever" around the turn of the
century, babesiosis has come under increasing concern
because the parasite can be transmitted to humans by the
same tick that transmits the Lyme disease and ehrlichiosis
bacteria. Studies have shown that a single tick can
simultaneously carry all three microbes, creating the potential
for passing multiple infections to people. Babesiosis can also
be transmitted by blood transfusion.
Babesiosis can be treated with antiparasitic drugs; transfusions
are sometimes used to treat severe cases. No vaccine is
Plague > view our feature on Plague
Bubonic plague was a scourge of Europe in the
Middle Ages, when it is estimated to have
killed one-fourth to one-third of that
continent's population. The disease is caused
by the bacterium Yersinia pestis, which is
transmitted to people mainly through the bite
of a flea. People with lung plague can also
spread the bacterium directly to others. The
microbe normally infects rodents, which serve
as the primary carriers for the disease. Today plague continues
to affect up to 3,000 people each year worldwide. In the United
States the bacterium primarily infects prairie dogs and other
rodents of the southwest, with few human cases occurring
each year. In 1999, nine cases of plague in people were
reported to the CDC.
After an infective flea bites a person, the bacteria migrate to
the nearest lymph nodes, where they can cause a painful
swelling or bubo, from which bubonic plague takes its name.
The bacteria quickly spread throughout the body and can
cause death within 2 to 4 days of the onset symptoms. In some
cases, the bacteria infect the lungs and cause pneumonic
plague, a deadly and highly contagious form of the disease.
Under most circumstances, plague can be successfully treated
with antibiotics. No vaccine is available.
West Nile Virus
West Nile virus was first isolated in
Uganda in 1937. Today it is most
often found in Africa, Eastern
Europe, the Middle East, and West
Asia. In 1999, the virus appeared
in North America for the first time,
and the following year the virus
was reported in 12 states along the
East coast. In the two years since West Nile virus was first
reported in the United States, it has killed eight people and
sickened 80 others.
West Nile virus is a member of the flavivirus group, viruses
spread by insects and known to cause disease in humans and
animals. In the United States, birds appear to be the major
carrier of the disease. When certain mosquito species feed on
the blood of infected birds, the insects ingest the virus. When
these mosquitoes bite people, they can pass the virus into
Most people infected with West Nile virus have only mild
illness. In the worst cases, however, the virus causes
encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain. No specific
medication exists to treat West Nile virus infection, and no
vaccine is available to prevent it.
St. Louis and La Crosse Encephalitis > view our feature on
St. Louis encephalitis and LaCrosse encephalitis are caused by
viruses transmitted by mosquitoes. More than 100 cases of St.
Louis encephalitis occur each year in the United States, and a
recent report in the New England Journal of Medicine
(2001;34:801-07) points to LaCrosse encephalitis as an
increasingly common infection, particularly among infants and
Malaria > view our feature on malaria
Malaria is a serious, sometimes fatal, disease caused by a
parasite. There are four kinds of malaria that can infect
humans: Plasmodium falciparum, P. vivax (VI-vacks), P.
ovale, and P. malariae. Humans get malaria from the bite of a
malaria-infected mosquito. When a mosquito bites an infected
person, it ingests microscopic Plasmodium found in the
Malaria occurs in over 100 countries and territories. More than
40% of the people in the world are at risk. Large areas of
Central and South America, Hispaniola (Haiti and the
Dominican Republic), Africa, the Indian subcontinent,
Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and Oceania are considered
malaria-risk areas (an area of the world that has malaria). The
World Health Organization estimates that yearly 300-500
million cases of malaria occur and more than 1 million people
die of malaria. About 1,200 cases of malaria are diagnosed in
the United States each year. Most cases in the United States
are in immigrants and travelers returning from malaria-risk
areas, mostly from sub-Saharan Africa and the Indian
In Latin America, up to 18 million people are infected with
Chagas disease, a deadly parasitic disease transmitted by
blood-sucking insects. The disease can also be transmitted
through blood transfusions and from mother to baby. The
chronic stage of the disease can last for years as parasites
invade the internal organs - causing irreversible damage to
the heart and intestines. The disease is very difficult to treat
with existing drugs. In some parts of Latin America it is the
leading cause of cardiac death in young adults. One
hundred million people are at risk. In Santa Cruz, Bolivia,
over 50% of the blood in blood banks was infected with the
How did powerful earthquakes of 1999 affect the economies of
nations struck with these disasters and how did governments try to rebuild their state?
Articles that address the severity of major earthquakes on a
local economic level are on-topic. Documents that detail the economic drain
on the countries that suffered earthquakes are on-topic. Articles restricted
to the humanitarian aid proffered by other countries after earthquakes are
off-topic, while aid and administrative plans from the local government are
Earthquakes, natural disaster relief plans, government aid
1999: the year that seismic shifts killed 20,000 across the world
By David Harrison
Report Courtesy of: The Telegraph
FROM Colombia to India, Turkey to Taiwan, Mexico, and now California, 1999 has been the year of the earthquake. More than 20,000 people have died in
six serious earthquakes this year, with many thousands more left injured and homeless.
The worst was in north-western Turkey two months ago, when more than 16,000 died in the densely populated area around Izmit. Seismologists said
yesterday's quake in California's sparsely populated Mojave desert would have been "devastating" if the epicentre had been 100 miles to the west in Los
Geologists know where earthquakes are likely to occur: the difficulty is predicting when. A spokesman for the California Institute of Technology said: "It's
almost impossible to know when they will come. All we can do is take as many precautions as we can."
Yet despite the doom-mongers who blame the approach of the Millennium for the recent rash of earthquakes, they are no more likely now than in the last
Millennium, according to seismologists. The difference is that more people are at risk from earthquakes today because there are more people on the
planet: six billion, as the United Nations said this week, and growing by 90 million a year.(1)
Rich countries have helped to cut the potential death toll in earthquake-prone areas by developing anti-earthquake technology and constructing
"flexible" buildings that sway during tremors, but remain standing. But this has not happened in poorer countries, where low-quality buildings, combined
with fast-growing populations, has made them vulnerable to a heavy death toll when an earthquake strikes.
The Turkish earthquake was much worse than it should have been because the government ignored warnings from experts that its industrial heartland and
tens of thousands of homes were being built on the highest-risk earthquake zones. Prof Erdogan Yuzer, president of the Turkish committee of the
International Association of Engineering Geology, said: "People don't believe it's going to happen. They don't believe in science."
The number of potential victims has also been increased by large-scale migration from rural areas to towns and cities - many in coastal areas around the
Pacific Rim, including the Americas, China, Japan, the Philippines, and Indonesia. Coasts are vulnerable to earthquakes because they were formed by the
movement of tectonic plates and remain on fault lines.
Earthquakes are most likely to occur where a continental tectonic plate meets an oceanic plate, such as in the Pacific Rim, or where a continental plate
meets another continental plate, such as in Turkey. But some people in California are convinced that the state has been more vulnerable to earthquakes as
a result of American nuclear tests carried out in the Mojave desert.
Lucy Jones, a seismologist with the United States Geological Survey, said the Mojave quake was a fresh tremor and not a long-delayed aftershock to the
powerful Landers quake, 7.2 on the Richter scale, that rocked the area in 1992.
The earth is hit by up to 10,000 quakes every day, according to geologists. Most do no damage at all and cause no loss of life, but around 400 a year are
serious, measuring more than 5.5 on the Richter scale.
Britain is not immune to earthquakes. There have been 25 earthquakes measuring 4.5 or more on the Richter scale this century, but all in remote areas.
In 1580, two people in Britain were killed by earthquakes in the Dover Strait.
The cost of repairing the physical damage caused by quakes is enormous. Insurers estimate that last year was the most expensive since records began, with
losses totalling $93 billion from all natural disasters. This year's figure could be higher.
Comparison of Earthquakes in Taiwan, Turkey and Japan
Large earthquakes occurred throughout the world in 1999,
taking many lives and doing tremendous damage to buildings
and other structures. Shimizu sent investigators to earthquake
sites in Turkey and Taiwan to gather information. In this
section, we focus on the earthquake that occurred in Taiwan.
The Jiji Earthquake in Taiwan (1999)
Date and time
1999, at 01:47.
Latitude: 23.85°Ž N
7.7 (Ms, USGS)
Damage to Buildings
Damage to pilotis-style
Damage to mid- and high-rise
reinforced concrete buildings.
Damage from ground
Damage to bridges and dams
from the shifting fault and from
Large-scale landslides and
Various Examples of Earthquake Damage in Taiwan
* Some of these examples were provided by the Japanese Geotechnical Society
The Kocaeli Earthquake in Turkey (1999)
Collapse of first floor
August 17, 1999,
7.4 (Ms, USGS)
(as of September
(as of September
Damage to Buildings
Collapse of mid-rise
*Collapse of the first floor or
total collapse of all floors
*Falling of non-structural
walls (perforated brick)
Minor damage to masonry
Damage directly above
fault, damage caused by
Building tipped over (Adapazari)
The Great Hanshin Earthquake in Japan
(Onsite surveys by the
1995, at 05:46
Damage to Buildings
(1) Collapse of middle floors
(2) Collapse of wooden
(3) Breakage of steel pillars
(4) Collapse of highway
(5) Collapse of subway
(6) Damage to lifelines
(7) Large-scale fires
Collapse of middle floors
Damage to steel pillars of
Collapse of homes
Fire in Nagata Ward
From "Slide Collection of the Great Hanshin Earthquake
of 1995" compiled by the Architectural Institute of Japan
and the Japan Society of Civil Engineers.
Comparison of the Jiji and Great Hanshin
Damage in Taiwan was about one-tenth that in
Damage in Taiwan centered on Nantou and Taichung
counties, where more than 2,300 people died, more than
10,000 buildings collapsed, and damage totaled
approximately \960 billion (one-tenth the amount of
damage done by the Great Hanshin Earthquake in Japan).
More than one-third of the fatalities were older people aged
60 or more (similar to what happened in Japan). In some
areas, the earthquake also paralyzed important
Many reinforced-concrete (RC) buildings collapsed
Many of the buildings that collapsed were made of concrete
reinforced with steel bars, ranging from low-rise, old
buildings through new, modern high-rises. Many buildings
with weak ground floors in particular were found tilting or
fallen over. Many relatively new RC apartment buildings
with ten floors or more also suffered extensive damage.
Causes for the damage included design problems associated
with the use of pilotis-style construction, the strength of
pillars in the axial direction, shear strength, inadequate
deformation capabilities, inappropriate steel beam couplings,
and other construction problems. However, the periodicity
of the ground and buildings also had an effect. Liquefaction
also occurred in some places.
Buildings located directly over the fault collapsed
when the fault shifted
Buildings and bridges were damaged when the underlying
fault shifted. The Ishioka Dam was damaged directly by a
Differences in degree of shaking
The Jiji Earthquake features large undulations going
east-west that lasted more than 30 seconds. In contrast, the
main tremors of the Great Hanshin Earthquake lasted only
about 10 seconds, a much shorter time. However, the
tremors contained periodicities close to those of buildings
(0.3-2.0 seconds), which amplified the damage.
The effects of an active fault
The Jiji Earthquake was generated by the movement of a
known, active fault located near the center of the island.
Many active faults also exist in Japan. Strong tremors
generated by any of these faults can cause extensive damage
(as was seen in the case of the Great Hanshin Earthquake).
Concern about marine earthquakes
Japan cannot ignore the possibility of major earthquakes
occurring at sea (through plate subsidence). If such an
earthquake were to occur, the fault area that collapsed
would be extremely large, making devastating extensive
damage probable. A large-scale marine earthquake would
also generate a tsunami which, as has been demonstrated in
the past, can result in many casualties and tremendous
How did Egyptian cotton influence Egypt and the world in 1999?
Documents about the role of cotton in Egypt's economy, state
control of the cotton industry and international competition in the cotton trade are on topic.
cotton industry, Egypt, economy
III. STATE CONTROL AND LIBERALIZATION OF COTTON PRODUCTION
Although it has lost ground in recent years, Egyptian cotton still commands over one-third of
the world market for long-staple and extra-long staple cotton, and is Egypt's most lucrative
export commodity after oil.2 The value of Egyptian cotton lies in its strength and elasticity,
which allows it to be woven much more tightly than other strains. It is also the most time
consuming and labor intensive cotton strain to cultivate, requiring seven to eight months to
grow and manual harvesting.3
Egypt's cotton crop is overwhelmingly the product of small farms. A 1997 government study
found that nearly 70 percent of farmers cultivated an area of less than one acre each and just
over 20 percent cultivated between one and three acres.4 Until the mid-1990s, however, the
Egyptian state played a formidable role in cotton production: it determined the amount of land
that would be allocated for cotton farming, monopolized the supply of seeds, pesticides, and
other inputs, fixed the prices farmers were paid for their crop as well as its export price, and
had exclusive control over the marketing of cotton. This authority was exercised at the local
level through agricultural cooperatives, village-level institutions that were established through
the First Agrarian Reform of 1952 and which continue to play a significant, albeit reduced,
role in cotton production.5
Formally participatory institutions, in which membership is mandatory for most farmers, the
cooperatives are in effect local arms of the agriculture ministry. The ministry designates the
director of each cooperative, and assigns one or more agricultural engineers to the cooperative
council.6 Market reforms have removed the cooperatives' former monopoly over the provision
of most inputs and the marketing of major crops. However, the cooperatives continue to
provide machinery services to farmers and remain the channel through which subsidized
inputs are sold, giving them a substantial advantage over private traders. The cooperatives also
implement, under the direction of the agricultural engineer, the ministry's pest management
program for cotton.
Although liberalization has returned control over key elements of cotton production to
farmers, it has also removed certain incentives for production and thereby accelerated the
erosion of Egypt's share of the world market for long-staple and extra long-staple cotton.
There are several commonly-cited reasons for that decline. Advances in technology have
allowed textile mills to produce fabric of nearly comparable quality from U.S. pima cotton,
which in 1989 cost less than half of what the Egyptian government was charging for certain
To boost the competitiveness of Egyptian cotton, the government in 1999 reduced the export
prices of its cotton varieties by as much as thirty-two percent.8 And in an effort to avoid the
massive losses incurred in 1997, when the amount paid to farmers exceeded the international
market price, it began tying purchase prices to export prices. The procurement price of certain
varieties fell dramatically-in the case of Giza 45, an extra-long staple variety, from E£781
(US$211.65) per 100 pounds in 1998 to E£532 (US$144.17) in 1999.9 The withdrawal of floor
prices, coupled with the rising cost of inputs and land rents, has led many
farmers-particularly tenants-to conclude that cotton is either unprofitable or even
loss-incurring.10 As farmers have turned to other cash crops, the amount of land allocated to
cotton has declined from 923,208 acres in 1997 to 520,000 acres in 2000.11
2 World-trade in long staple and extra-long staple cotton during the 1999-2000 season stood
at about one million bales, of which Egyptian exports accounted for an estimated 370,000.
Terry Townsend, Executive Director, International Cotton Advisory Committee, "World
Extra-Fine Cotton Outlook," paper presented to the Fourth U.S. Pima Industry Seminar,
February 24-25, 2000, San Diego, California,
(19 January 2001), p. 3.
35% decrease in Egyptian cotton exports
Egypt, Business, 12/21/1999
Exports of the Egyptian cotton resumed their decrease during the eighth
week of the 1999/2000 season as the decrease percentage reached 35%
in comparison to the same period of last year.
This was stated by an official source in the union of cotton exporters
affiliated to the Egyptian Ministry or Economy, telling ArabicNews.com
that the total quantity exported nearly reached 62,040 tons in
comparison to 96,018 tons during the same period of last year.
The source related this decrease to international competition and the
Egyptian companies' slowness in implementing their commitments.
Globalization and democracy
In what manner has globalization affected democracies around the world?
On-topic documents might address the following issues:
1.role of democratic institutions
2. global communications system
3. role of civil society groups
4. human rights violations
5. political stability post globalisation
6. corruption levels
7. compliance with international agreements
demoratic institutions, role of NGO's, corruption levels, global communication systems
item=purpose, value=Answer Answer:
Globalization and Democracy
By Hector Rogelio Torres
Journal of Commerce
January 25, 1999
An international organization's birthday would not normally attract much attention. However, since the WTO is commonly regarded as the main temple of globalization, the occasion was seized upon by a wide and colorful range of Non-Governmental Organizations, NGOs, as an opportunity to show their discontent and mistrust for the party's host. They had little impact but made two things evident: the obscurity of their criticisms and their lack of understanding of the benefits of globalization.
Uneasiness and distrust for this global process of enlarging markets can be witnessed all over the planet. Globalization is frequently perceived as serving exclusively to open national markets to foreign competition. However, beneficial political consequences flow from its dynamic. For instance, globalization requires the enforcement of individual rights and liberties. Globalization also promotes the spontaneous gathering of people with common interests. The amazing expansion of NGOs that defend interests other than free trade (such as protection of human rights, environment, social standards) has undoubtedly benefited.
Globalization is also seen as a threat to employment. Yet the fact that globalization is no better regarded in countries from which capital "emigrates" than in those countries to which it flows suggests that it cannot be viewed solely through the prism of unemployment. Consider a hypothetical example. If government "A'' announces it will give priority to public expenditure in education, health, and social security, all good news for citizens, markets will probably give a chilly if not openly negative response. Conversely, if government "B'' announces it will trim public expenditure in social security, raise taxes that impinge on consumption, and lower fiscal pressure on profits, the markets will surely be enthusiastic while citizens will see grim times ahead.
Clearly, markets and citizens differ in their assessments of the governmental announcements. But more important, they do not express themselves in the same way, nor with the same tools. It is quite probable that a political party would make an announcement of kind "A'' in the run-up to elections but would be forced to implement announcement "B'' once running a government. Notwithstanding the obvious ethical consequences that this pattern of political conduct might have on democratic credibility, it is important to notice that this contradiction is rooted in the differences in the decision- making processes from which the two policies stem. Democracies are based on the equality of rights of their citizens. Announcement "A'' is in line with the democratic paradigm, namely that all citizens are equal under the law and, in any election, one citizen is one vote. Announcement "B'' adheres to a different paradigm. In markets, each citizen participates according to his purchasing capacity. We do not all have the same weight, and accordingly our "voting'' rights are far away from even. Markets institute a sort of qualified democracy in which one dollar is one vote.
Therefore, if the global society we are currently shaping is to be based on the democratic paradigm, the starting point should be to accept that contradictions inevitably arise between formal power ("one citizen is one vote'') and real economic power ("one dollar is one vote''). These contradictions should neither be ignored nor wiped off. They should be articulated in transparency. The end of the cold war and the virtually global expansion of capitalism have facilitated astonishing political and economic changes. Today we have more free elections and also more free markets. But while democracies have expanded horizontally, free markets have so done in every possible direction. Markets have not grown just geographically but also qualitatively. They have increasingly crept into aspects of our social life that had been sheltered from the rationale of "maximizing benefits.'' The global market needs a set of global minimum standards in order to promote investor confidence and establish the ground rules concerning the ways states are allowed to compete in attracting capital.
The search for these common standards has given rise to complex negotiations in the WTO. The executive branches of governments are responsible for these negotiations. The results are subsequently sent to parliaments, but since the results normally are packages of linked concessions, legislators have very little chance of disentangling them. This virtual migration of legislative power to the international arena has evident consequences for the equilibrium of powers on which democracies rely. Furthermore, following the practice of the old GATT, negotiations are not transparent to civil society. This was once justified because negotiations mainly concerned tariffs and actual trade obstacles, but the situation today is quite different. Matters related to intellectual property rights, investment, sanitary standards, environment and competition policies are now being considered in the WTO.
Articulation of frictions between free markets and democracies is not aided by conceiving of globalization as a planetary scenario in which countries are markets and the scope of national policies is limited to decisions that do not hurt the competitiveness of local producers. On the contrary, it just extrapolates the market paradigm to the political and social realm. This induces a dramatic error: identification of democracy with the social inequalities stemming from markets out of control. No wonder reactions against ""free markets'' can take totalitarian trends and the criticism of globalization borrows nationalistic and protectionist slogans.
Summing up, globalization is an unstoppable process, but we ought to make it work for democracy. It could help to unify people, and this should be good news for those who believe in the existence of common values for the human being. Our task should be preventing globalization from working for the exclusive sake of market forces that have virtually succeeded in getting rid of governments. It is now utterly necessary to avoid trivializing democracy as market's political expression. The social realm should be preserved for the paradigm of human equality and we should find an expression for democracy in the WTO.
In what ways does Microsoft hold a monopoly power on computer systems?
Information about the antitrust case brought against Miscrosoft and the results of the trial are on topic. Articles that specify how much Microsoft actually controls in terms of computer systems, are on topic. Other anti-trust cases are off-topic.
Microsoft, monopoly, anti-trust, computers
Nov. 5, 1999 - U.S.
District Court judge finds
that Microsoft holds
monopoly power in the
market for PC operating
systems, and the
Nov. 19, 1999 - District Court judge
appoints federal appeals judge, Richard
Posner, to serve as a mediator to handle the
negotiations between Microsoft and the
Judge calls Microsoft a "monopoly"
By Joe Wilcox
Staff Writer, CNET News.com
November 5, 1999, 5:35 PM PT
update WASHINGTON--A federal judge has determined that
Microsoft holds a monopoly in computer operating systems,
strongly criticizing the company in a decisive statement that could
signal the outcome of the landmark antitrust case.
Although the lengthy statement--called a "finding of fact"--was not a
verdict, the widely anticipated comments indicated that U.S. District
Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson is leaning heavily in favor of the
Justice Department (DOJ) and state prosecutors arguing against the
"Microsoft enjoys so much power in the market for Intel-compatible
PC operating systems that if it wished to exercise this power solely in
terms of price, it could charge a price for Windows substantially above
that which could be charged in a competitive market," Jackson wrote.
"Moreover, it could do so for a significant period of time without losing
an unacceptable amount of business to competitors," he
added. "In other words, Microsoft enjoys monopoly power
in the relevant market."
The antitrust trial has been one of the most closely followed corporate
cases in recent history, raising complicated legal, political, and
philosophical arguments on topics from capitalism to the Constitution.
Because of Microsoft's sheer size and technology's important role in
driving the global economy, the impact of the case will be felt well
beyond the company's headquarters outside Seattle.
Microsoft's stock slid in after-hours trading into the high 80s after
closing down 0.19 points at 91.45 during the day. Ramifications could
spread to all markets, however, because of its enormous
influence as a longtime bellwether and a historic addition to
the Dow Jones Industrial Average just last week.
Even though the case is still awaiting an official verdict, the Justice
Department wasted no time in claiming victory. "This is a tremendous
victory for American consumers," said Joel Klein, assistant attorney
general for the antitrust division of the Justice Department.
Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller said in a news conference that
Jackson's finding affirms the position of 19 states in the case: "One,
that Microsoft indeed does have a monopoly, two, that Microsoft
has abused that monopoly, and third, that consumers have been
harmed by that."
Microsoft founder and chief executive Bill Gates emphatically rejected
those conclusions. "If you want to look at what's great for consumers
you have to look at our work and the work of our partners over the last
20 years," Gates said in response to Klein's declaration of victory for
consumers. "The law couldn't be more black and white...The kind of
innovation we do is absolutely encouraged."
Bill Neukom, the company's general counsel, cited current law in
supporting Gates. "It's important to remember that antitrust laws are
very clear on the point that companies are supposed to compete
vigorously against each other--that is how better
products come to market quicker and with lower
prices," he said. "The Sherman Antitrust Act is
designed to protect consumers, not competitors."
Neukom predicted that the lawsuit could stretch
into 2001, but Microsoft appeared willing to
negotiate a settlement. "We will continue to look
for ways to resolve these issues in a fair and
responsible manner," a company spokesman said
in a statement. "We believe any resolution must
protect Microsoft's ability to innovate and
improve its products for consumers."
Jackson's comments were based on a review of
Microsoft's ubiquitous Windows software,
which powers the vast majority of the world's
personal computers. Prosecutors have argued that
Microsoft unfairly leverages this market
dominance to force acceptance of other products,
most notably its Internet Explorer Web browser.
Prosecutors pointed to a portion of the statement
devoted to that issue, calling it the "pivotal point"
of the entire statement: "No consumer benefit can
be ascribed...to Microsoft's refusal to offer a version of Windows 95 or
Windows 98 without Internet Explorer or to Microsoft's refusal to
provide a method for uninstalling Internet Explorer from Windows 98,"
Many of the judge's harshest comments were reserved for the end of
his statement, which was 207 pages long.
"Most harmful of all is the message that Microsoft's actions have
conveyed to every enterprise with the potential to innovate in the
computer industry," Jackson said. "Through its conduct toward
Netscape, IBM, Compaq, Intel, and others, Microsoft has
demonstrated that it will use its prodigious market power and immense
profits to harm any firm that insists on pursuing initiatives that could
intensify competition against one of Microsoft's core
Jackson also took Microsoft to task in describing its
past business practices. The empire has been infamous
throughout the high-tech industry for its strong-arm
tactics, though the company has steadfastly maintained
that it has never violated any laws.
"Microsoft's past success in hurting such companies and stifling
innovation deters investment in technologies and businesses that
exhibit the potential to threaten Microsoft," the judge wrote. "The
ultimate result is that some innovations that would truly benefit
consumers never occur for the sole reason that they do not coincide
with Microsoft's self-interest."
The findings of fact are essentially the judge's distillation of the points
of view presented by both sides into what he believes to be true.
Depending on how definitive they are, the findings can be tantamount
to a jury's decision, legal experts say.
What's in store
Given the particularly strong wording of Jackson's statement, both
sides have a far clearer picture about where the case is headed and what
conclusions of law--the legal consequences of the findings--Jackson
Either side could choose to file a motion for reconsideration if it
disputes any portion of the judge's findings, no matter how small. That
is not unusual in an antitrust trial, say antitrust experts, who noted the
motions could be filed as early as next week.
The next step for both sides is to present their conclusions of law,
tentatively scheduled to take place in about 30 days. But Jackson is
expected to put that off until after the holidays.
Typically the briefings are staggered rather than presented
simultaneously, which is likely to stretch out the next stage until late
February. Most antitrust attorneys do not expect the judge's
conclusions of law until late spring.
And the case is not likely to end there. Unless the two sides settle,
Jackson's ruling will likely spark a string of appeals that many antitrust
experts expect will reach the Supreme Court.
Some have expressed concern that the case could have a lasting
negative effect on the economy if Microsoft is found guilty. The
current boom has largely been attributed to the high-tech industry,
which in turn has been relatively free of government regulation.
"I'm troubled that Judge Jackson's decision may signal that the
high-tech industry is open to regulation from the courts," said Rep.
Tom Bliley (R-Virginia), chairman of the House Commerce
Committee. "The high-tech industry is responsible for producing 30
percent of our economic growth [and] should not be burdened by
excessive government regulations. That would be a disaster..."
But California Attorney General Bill Lockyer contends that the opposite
was true. "Silicon Valley is cautiously cheering," he said, because a
blow to Microsoft would free the potential to
Legal experts have said that the Justice Department
must prove consumer harm to win its case. Jackson
determined that Microsoft's bundling of Internet
Explorer with Windows did just that.
"To the detriment of consumers," the judge wrote, Microsoft engaged
"in a series of actions designed to protect the application's barrier to
entry, and hence its monopoly power."
Jackson further concluded that Microsoft made it difficult for PC
manufacturers to offer Netscape Communications' rival Navigator
browser preinstalled on PCs as they left the factory.
"Many of the tactics Microsoft employed have also harmed consumers
indirectly by unjustifiably distorting competition," Jackson found.
Consumers were prevented from having more choices and innovation,
"The campaign against Navigator has retarded widespread acceptance
of Sun's Java implementation," Jackson wrote.
Disputes over Java technology, which Microsoft has viewed as a
significant threat, were the subject of another lawsuit filed by Sun. As
expected, that company too had an opinion on today's events.
Jackson's "determination that Microsoft has monopoly power in the
market for PC operating systems is supported by a wealth of
evidence," Sun said in a statement. "Further, the court appears to have
found that Microsoft has abused its power in very significant ways."
In what ways do certain kinds of tea protect people from illness?
Information about the kinds of tea that can prevent or stave off
illness (and which kinds of illness) are on topic. Articles about various
cultural traditions associated with tea due to its curative powers are
tea, cancer, protection, diseases
Tea's anti-cancer secret found
Thursday, 1 April 1999
Drinking green tea is thought to reduce your risk
of cancer. Now researchers think they know why.
A chemical in the tea prevents the growth of blood
vessels critical to tumour growth.
Drinking tea has been associated with a lower
incidence of cancer in humans and it has also been
shown to inhibit the growth of some tumours in
animals. But exactly how it works its effects has
been a mystery.
Now researchers from the Karolinska Institute in
Sweden have shown that one of the components of
green tea - epigallocatechin-3-gallate or EGCG
- prevents the growth of new blood vessels in
Their work is published in today's Nature.
Since blood vessel growth is critical if tumours are
to grow and spread, the finding might explain the
drink's cancer-inhibiting effects.
The work also suggests tea might help prevent
other diseases dependent on new blood vessel
growth, such as the degradation of the retina that
can accompany diabetes, a condition known as
Study shows tea reduces heart attack risk
Monday, 12 July 1999
Australian researchers are welcoming a new US
study which finds the chance of a heart attack can
be slashed by drinking tea.
Harvard University researchers have found people
who drink tea made from black tea leaves have a
44 per cent less chance of having a heart attack.
Chemicals called flavonoids open the blood vessels
reducing the chance of clots which can lead to
The US study builds on earlier work, but
Melbourne University researcher, Dr David
Woodman, says how flavonoids work is not
"I think it's very early days in terms of
understanding their basic mechanism of action,"
"I think we've very much only touched the
surface. We don't know enough yet about how the
different flavonoids might differ in their basic
"That's the sort of thing we're looking at now."
How do armies, specifically the US Army, use virtual reality
to train soldiers or to design new gear?
Articles about the use of virtual reality in the army in 1999 are on topic. Articles mentioning virtual reality in general, without clearly mentioning its use in the army, are not on topic.
Virtual reality, army, defense
USC to put `virtual reality' into Army training
by Paul Boyce
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Aug. 23, 1999) -- Secretary of the Army Louis
Caldera signed a $45 million contract last week with the University of Southern California to
establish an institute to develop state-of-the art modeling and simulation technologies.
The Army wants to leverage advances in modeling and simulation technologies to improve
the realism and quality of its training simulations, officials said. The Army also wants to use
this same technology to improve leader-development exercises. And officials said they want
to apply the modeling to test prototypes in future weapons acquisition programs.
The contract with USC was signed Aug. 18 during a ceremony in Los Angeles announcing
birth of the "Institute for Creative Technologies."
"We found a high-tech solution with this USC partnership to deliver those improvements in
education and military training for the next century," Caldera said. "The USC Institute for
Creative Technologies will be a joint effort of the Army, the entertainment industry and
academia -- an innovative team to advance dazzling new media and ultimately benefit
training and education for everyone in America. This research has high-value applications to
the Army, as well as the entertainment, multimedia, video game, destination theme park, and
Caldera said the new technologies will help the Army make a "quantum leap forward" in
preparing soldiers for diverse missions in the world of tomorrow. "This will revolutionize the
way the Army trains its soldiers and how it rehearses for missions," he said. "It will enhance
the realism and, thus, the value of the individual, crew-served and networked training
simulators that we use to train our soldiers. It will permit our soldiers to do en-route mission
rehearsals immersed in high-fidelity images of the actual terrain to which they are about to
deploy with very real story and character content to prepare them to accomplish the mission."
Steven B. Sample, president of USC, said the ICT will develop the technologies for synthetic
experiences so compelling that people will react as though they were real -- a virtual reality
of sensations and sights.
"The key word is 'verisimilitude' - the quality or state of appearing to be true," he explained.
"Verisimilitude will apply to simulation technology in the same way that the term 'high
fidelity' has applied to audio."
Also attending the Los Angeles announcement were Lon S. Hatamiya, secretary of the
California Trade and Commerce Agency; City of Los Angeles Deputy Mayor Rockard
Delgadillo; Jack Valenti, chief executive officer of the Motion Picture Association of America;
and Richard E. Belluzzo, chairman and chief executive officer of SGI, formerly Silicon
Graphics, Inc. California Governor Gray Davis spoke at the event by satellite broadcast from
"As a Vietnam veteran myself, I know that when it comes to accomplishing the mission two
things matter: the quality of a soldier's training and the quality of his or her weapons. The new
virtual technologies established by this project will prepare America's soldiers for the diverse
and unique military operations of the future."
Researchers from the USC School of Cinema-Television, the USC School of Engineering and
USC's Annenberg School for Communication will collaborate with creative talents from the
entertainment industry in the interdisciplinary research program. They will work to combine
concepts of story and character with a rapidly increasing degree of immersion in virtual
The Army will employ these improved simulation technologies to rehearse for missions, for
strategic planning through interactive battle scenarios, and for combat training, recruitment
and equipment acquisition, officials said.
The institute will pursue a combination of basic and applied research. Basic research will
cover six areas: simulated "immersion" by users in the technological experience; networking
and databases; story; characters; setup; and direction. Applied research will be organized
around a small number of long-term themes - such as simulating futuristic "Army After
While the Army and the entertainment industry share an interest in advancing simulation
capabilities for specific purposes, these technologies offer clear potential to dramatically
change training and education for all people, officials said.
"In these advanced synthetic environments that we will create, participants will be fully
immersed - physically, intellectually and emotionally - in engrossing stories stocked with
engaging characters who may either be simulated or manned," said Cornelius Sullivan, USC
vice provost for research, who will oversee the program.
The ICT contract will be administered by the Army's Simulation, Training and
Instrumentation Command, known as STRICOM, headquartered in Orlando, Fla., and
commanded by Brig. Gen. William Bond. The Army and USC will each appoint people to
executive boards that will jointly control the ICT.
Virtual reality gives soldiers design input
October 6, 1999
Web posted at: 10:04 a.m. EDT (1404 GMT)
by Bob Brewin
(IDG) -- Visit soldiers at any Army infantry
division outside Washington, D.C., and they
will relate a universal complaint: The people
who designed their gear and computer systems
typically do not build equipment that can
survive the rough terrain, choking dust and
thundering vibrations of the battlefield.
The Army wants to change that.
Next week, the Army's Tank-automotive and
Armaments Command, which designs and buys
vehicles ranging from Humvees to main battle
tanks, and the National Automotive Center
(NAC), TACOM's research conduit to industry,
plan to demonstrate how virtual reality can
give soldiers input into designing new
equipment that works better under the harsh
realities of the battlefield.
TACOM and NAC plan to
demonstrate the virtual
reality design project, called
Simulation Throughout the
Life Cycle (SimTLC), at the
Association of the United
States Army annual
convention in Washington,
D.C., next week. Key to the
project is the Virtual
Environment, which ties
soldiers and engineers
together to improve how the
Army buys equipment.
"We're going to showcase a
whole new acquisition
process [that] applies
high-end visualization tools
to new product design...in a
environment," said Grace
Bochenek, senior research
engineer at NAC.
Bochenek said soldiers collaborate in the
acquisition process by connecting to an
advanced simulator called the Cave Automatic
Virtual Environment (CAVE). Soldiers in the
10-foot walled simulator use sight, sound and
touch to respond to stimuli produced by the
simulator's virtual reality equipment.
CAVE -- whose name originates from Plato's
Republic, in which the philosopher uses a cave
as a metaphor to explore ideas about
perception, reality and illusion -- will enable
soldiers to test the designs of a tank or jeep
before the vehicles are built. CAVE was
developed at the Electronic Visualization
Laboratory at the University of Illinois.
Through the use of audio and high-resolution
3-D video systems powered by a Silicon
Graphics Inc. processor, soldiers at the Army's
Mounted Maneuver Battle Lab at Fort Knox,
Ky., can, for example, remotely participate in
the design of a tank turret with engineers at
NAC's offices in Warren, Mich.
Jan Drabczuk, director for simulation and
logistics in the Electronic Data Systems Corp.'s
government industry group, said Army soldiers
and engineers can use the simulations to test
"different designs and concepts before any
metal is cut."
Drabczuk believes that developing major Army
equipment such as tanks in a virtual
environment that includes input from soldiers
"will save hundreds of millions of dollars" by
helping the service translate digital design data
into final products.
The two-year, $11.4 million virtual
collaborative system is a joint venture between
the Army and a seven-member industry team
led by EDS. The Army and EDS share the costs
through a dual-use (military and commercial)
TACOM plans to develop multiple CAVEs to
build a distributed simulation network, and
using the Transportation Department's driving
simulator at the University of Iowa and
advanced motion simulators, the experience
will "add fidelity to the [design] process,"
Soldiers nationwide can interact with one
another in cyberspace, Bochenek said, thanks
to the virtual reality network, "with the driver
located in Iowa and the gunner located in
Bob Heinlein, the EDS virtual collaborative
program manager, described the simulated
environment as much more advanced than the
networked training simulators the Army now
uses. The virtual collaborative system converts
computer-aided design data into data soldiers
can see in a virtual environment. "This is an
environment you can immerse yourself in and
walk around in as you do in real life," Heinlein
Once soldiers and engineers agree on a design,
Heinlein said the team can take an "electronic
snapshot" of CAD data and then export it into
an integrated data environment that enables
multiple users to share the data.
To test the use of the virtual collaborative
technologies, the NAC-backed project also is
working on preproduction evaluation of the
Army's new Grizzly tracked mine-clearing
vehicle and working with soldiers in a redesign
of the cab of the Army's battlefield tactical
Bochenek said the virtual collaborative system
and SimTLC will lead to a breakthrough in how
the Army designs weapons and systems with
Genetic Modification technology
Does GM technology provide a solution to world hunger?
Examples of on-topic documents may address the following:
1. organic farming vs GM technology
2. yields per hectare from GM technology
3. GM crops and environment
4. World agricultural production
5. transgenics in agriculture
6. farming lobbies and interest groups
7. sustainable farming practices
agricultural productivity, sustainable farming, transgenics, farming lobbies, Monsanto
GM Crops: Food For Thought
The first stage of the genetic revolution is well underway in global agriculture. Last year farmers around the world planted an area twice the size of the UK with genetically modified crops.
Whether you believe them to be the golden grains or the seeds of Satan, not since nuclear power, has a technology come upon the scene to stir up so many environmental and civil society groups.
In Seeds Of Contention, Andrew Luck-Baker explores the issues at the heart of what has arguably become the most controversial technology of our time. He talks to the proponents, opponents and those in the middle of the battleground, the farmers and the consumers.
From North America to Argentina, from South Africa to China, farmers are
embracing new kinds of plants: for example, soya bean plants engineered to survive chemical weed-killer, and maize and potatoes that secrete a pesticide in their leaves and stems.
Many farmers are happy with their increased profits Ė so too are the companies such as Monsanto who have created the GM crops. The next generation of transgenic crops are approaching the fields, such as vegetables and fruits that stay fresher for longer and crops enriched with nutrients, such as Vitamin A and iron, which are lacking in many diets.
Not so happy are many consumers who are uneasy about the safety of GM food. Environmental organisations are irate at the sight of expanding areas of farmland planted with crops that they claim threaten to pollute wild plants with 'alien' genes, and to disrupt the ecological balance of the natural environment.
Many development organisations are also deeply sceptical of claims that transgenic crops are vital to boosting food security and improving nutrition for the poorest people in the less developed parts of the world.
Feed The World
It might be true that genetically engineered crops are perhaps unnecessary for a wealthy and well fed country such as the UK, but does the same apply to all other parts of the world?
Proponents argue that GM crops have the potential to be of enormous benefit to farmers and consumers in less developed nations Ė increasing the quantity and nutritional quality, of food where hunger and malnutrition are huge problems.
This case is yet to be proven and whilst few genetic engineers would argue that GM crops are the sole means to solve world hunger and counteract all the myriad causes of social and economic inequity, there are those who believe that it's premature to discount the contribution the new crops might make.
Susan McCouch Ė Professor of Plant Breeding in International Agriculture at Cornell University in the US explains:
'We do not have well distributed resourcesÖ at this time, given the inequalities that exist, I think it is in fact naÔve to pretend that we shouldn't look at all possible solutions.'
Mexican Transgenic Maize
Someone, who would agree with Professor McCouch's sentiment, is Luis Herrera, a Mexican plant engineer who has developed transgenic maize, specifically for the poorest subsistence farmers in his country. These farmers are marginalized to the poorest lands, where the soils are acidic in nature. This soil chemistry results in the maize crop being deprived of nutrients and stunted in growth and yield.
But by transferring several genes from bacteria into maize plants, the crops overcome the chemical handicap they face and produce 30% more grain than they otherwise would. The intention is to make the maize freely available to farmers.
Herrera argues that opportunities will be lost by focussing only on issues such as land rights and indebtedness:
'One very important issue is that we need to increase food production and food production has to increase locally. Nowadays we have enough food in the world to feed everybody, but food does not reach the hands of the people who need it the most, so what we need to do is to make sure that technology reaches the small farmer, so that they can increase their own production.'
So here we have a crop, designed to overcome a specific and serious impediment to many of the poorest farmers Ė not just in Mexico, but also in many other parts of tropical Latin America, Africa and Asia, where millions have no choice but to grow their maize in unyielding, acidic soils.
The work has been funded by the charitable Rockefeller Foundation and the varieties to be engineered are the traditional range grown and exchanged in the centuries old traditions.
On the surface little would seem to be wrong with this view, but according to Miguel Altieri, Professor of Agricultural Ecology at the University of California, Berkley, the whole approach is too narrow-minded:
'Unfortunately today the whole emphasis is on varietiesÖThe emphasis is on how do we suit the seed to the environment? Then how do we optimise the whole farming system so that it performs? Ö Here's where agro-ecology comes in which builds upon traditional knowledge. Farmers in my generation, especially throughout Latin America, Africa and Asia have been farming for centuries, so their input and their traditional knowledge is very important.'
Agro-ecology is the organic approach to farming - no GM, no man-made fertilisers, and no man-made pesticides. Instead the techniques include mixing traditional, pre Green revolution crop varieties that promote the growth and health of each other, and bio control Ė dealing with crop pests by encouraging their animal or plant enemies and so on.
For those who have witnessed the use of traditional farming methods and who have seen their families die of hunger, it is perhaps unsurprising that many remain sceptical of the benefits of agro-ecology.
The disproportionate amount of money spent on biotech and agro-ecological research however may make their negativity unfair. After all, companies and publicly funded institutes pour millions into transgenic research and development every year.
For some anti-GM campaigners the fear is that transgenic crops will lead to the world's farmers becoming slaves Ė bio serfs - for a small band of multinational companies controlling the entire planet's food production. But for those at grass roots level, agro-ecology also has social consequences as Mexican biochemist Luis Herrera explains:
'[It has] very negative social consequences. For instance I know of many
children who do not attend school because they have to stay at home to help
their parents, to take wheat by hand. What we need to do is to make more technology to be available to them, to be able to produce more.'
'Are GMOs essential for effective sustainable agriculture in a hungry world?'
Dismantling the myth of genetics as the principal constraint on responsible global agricultural production
Mark Griffiths BSc FRICS FAAV
Two days before the last Christmas of the second millennium the London Times, as if firing a final parting salvo from the rapidly retreating values of the 20th Century, reported on the indignant retirement of Professor
John Beringer as chairman of the government committee overseeing the release of genetically modified organisms into the environment in the UK . Clearly angry at the poor public reception that genetically
modified crops have received in the UK Professor Beringer was reported as saying that those who oppose their use in agriculture were consigning billions of people to a future of hunger and starvation.
John Beringer is Professor of Molecular Genetics and Dean of Science in the School of Biological Sciences at Bristol University. Unlike some of his colleagues in the scientific community  he has so far come under
little fire from critics of genetic engineering for making false claims about the 'benefits' and risks of the technology.
The Times quotes Professor Beringer as saying that organic agriculture and "spreading around a bit of manure" were not going save the planet, feed the hungry or conserve wildlife. According to Professor Beringer:
"In a real, hungry world, there are no solutions other than technological ones."
The implication arising from this bold assertion is that the main or only solution to such problems is 'improved' genetics. Beringer was of course making two important assumptions. The first is that the principal
problem with global food provision is one of low yields, rather than issues of distribution, poverty, social conflict and waste. The second assumption is that genetic 'improvement', primarily the use of genetic
modification, is essential if we are to increase usable crop yields and to farm more sustainably.
At a time when 78 percent of all malnourished children under the age five in the developing world live in countries with food surpluses, much has already been written about the weaknesses of the first assumption
. Less investigation has been made into the second.
Just how bad are our existing crop genetics and is their further improvement the only way forward? To solve these vital human and environmental problems should we be exclusively focusing on Professor Beringer's
specialism of molecular genetics? Or should we be looking at factors affecting productive output from a wider scientific perspective? Are inadequate genetics really the limiting factor here? Or do they just simply
seem so only from the specialised outlook of molecular geneticists dedicated to their own discipline, but not necessarily working as a practising agriculturists?
In an article printed in the UK's Farming News in the spring of 1999  Yorkshire agronomist Ian Chalmers highlighted the existing gap between the genetic yield potential of many existing non-transgenic wheat
varieties - more than 21t/ha in some cases - and the actual UK average wheat yield of around 7t/ha. Highlighting better crop establishment as a key factor, he pointed to one of his own clients in Lincolnshire who
had achieved 18t/ha using an early sowing regime.
Under the headline "Agronomist casts doubt on growers' intelligence" Mr Chalmers expressed his long term belief that the limiting factor for improved production was not the genetic merit of the crops concerned,
but rather the average grower's mental ability to understand the physiological traits of the particular varieties being grown. In other words the source of the problem was not technical but human. It would seem
farmers needed to have a better understanding of plant husbandry, not access to better genetics.
Whilst most of Mr Chalmers' advice related to seedbed preparation and time of sowing a subsequent article in the UK's 'Arable Farming' in the autumn of 1999  expanded the debate about the productive
capacity of UK agriculture into even wider management horizons. Crucially it began to explore the issue of microbial soil management, rather than plant genetics, as the principal limiting factor in farm production. It
might be said that if any farming publication in the UK was interested in the technological approach to 'solving' agricultural production problems as advocated by Professor Beringer, 'Arable Farming' is that
publication. But this article by another farm adviser Bill Butterworth was refreshingly different in raising matters that the 'miracle' of post-war agriculture has so far largely overlooked.
Bill Butterworth's article focused on the need to address soil management issues as a powerful tool to improve output, reduce inputs and prevent plant disease. In an approach parts of which would be recognised by
many organic farmers Mr Butterworth was quietly pointing out that soil health is crucial to the performance of crop plants and ultimately to low-input high-output agriculture. Whilst dismissive of the notion of 'going
organic' (perhaps not entirely surprising given the nature of the readership he was addressing) he nonetheless focused on matters which also reside at the heart of organic farming: "When I was a student at Reading
in the early '60's, there was a 'standard' textbook called 'Soil Conditions and Plant Growth' by E.W Russell. I still have it. It is a weighty volume. Maybe this is what we have glossed over for 25 years; the right soil
conditions to unlock the genetic potential of the plant."
Much, though not all, of Bill Butterworth's successful experimentation with soil management has come from the use of biosolids (sewage sludge) on clients' farms. The use of biosolids in agriculture is often a source
of much heated debate, particularly because of the potential for the unwelcome inclusion of industrial contaminants such as heavy metals - although the controversy is as much about the inadequacies of the way our
sewage systems are managed as it is about the principle of returning human waste to the fields from which it originated as food .
Nonetheless Bill Butterworth's experience in this area is exposing some important principles for farmers which are likely to have relevance in a much wider context. He identifies the nurturing and development of
soil mycorrhiza, the small fungi which surround plant roots, as the principal trigger for improved plant health and output: " These mycorrhiza are bound up with plant nutrition and diseases..... The soil is like an
enormous rumen, it is similarly complex and it is the plant's 'stomach'. The connection between this soil rumen and the plant is all the soil micro-organisms and it appears to be substantially the soil mycorrhiza which
are the last link in the chain. You can grow plants without them but it is much easier and more secure with them."
Butterworth also quotes Wellingborough crop consultant Peter Wright: "It is this biological activity which, if encouraged by good husbandry, will allow the full potential of growing crops to be expressed, year after
year, resulting in more profit for the grower." This, of course, is to say nothing of the implications of this type of approach for the production of more food for and by the world's hungry.
Genetically modified crops have been presented by molecular biologists such as Professor Beringer as the way to reduce industrial agriculture's chemical inputs and produce higher yields. In practice, however, the
hoped for reduction in inputs from many such crops are proving temporary at best, and non-existent at worst [7, 8]. Even more disappointing, yields from GM crops are frequently lower than from conventional
So given their unfavourable risk-benefit profile [7-11, 30] why are scientists like Beringer advocating the prevalent use of transgenics in agriculture rather than the more holistic approach gradually being discovered
by practical mainstream advisers like Butterworth? Probably the reason is that scientists will always inevitably tend to draw from the 'knowledge' of their own specialisms when trying to develop solutions to
problems, rather than from a wider spectrum derived from parallel branches of knowledge. This is simply because theirs is the area they know and understand best (or as in the case of genetic engineering the one
that they claim they do!). Inevitably specialists are often ignorant of potential solutions to problems from other branches of knowledge. Not surprisingly in this context, therefore, genetic engineering in agriculture has
sometimes been described by its critics as 'a solution in search of a problem.' An equally apt description might also be: 'a problem in search of a solution'.
Nonetheless could it be that alternatives to the genetic modification 'panacea', such as those uncovered by Bill Butterworth, are effective only in favourable growing conditions such as those found in the UK, without
a realistic chance of success in more demanding circumstances? Well, not if the work of Professor Jules Pretty, Director of the Centre for Environment and Society at the John Tabor Laboratories at the University of
Essex, is anything is to go by.
Pretty has demonstrated that placing soil management at the core of farming techniques using little or no artificial inputs is producing consistent and frequently massive increases in output on millions of hectares in
parts of the world as diverse as Africa, Asia and Latin America . These truly transforming results go largely unreported. This is because they are not being achieved through rapid turnover 'one-size-fits-all'
technology promoted by high profile corporations utilising questionable business methods [13,14]. They are being achieved by individual farmers benefiting from self-reliance based regenerative projects which
encourage thoughtful approaches to long term management.
When it comes to counting the social costs can genetic engineering really compete with such a 'dependency-free' approach to agriculture? It might still be argued that only the hi-tech approach of genetic
engineering can have any hope of offering the necessary agronomic robustness required for crops to function productively in some of the world's more extreme growing conditions.
A couple of recent research studies raise some interesting questions about the validity of such assumptions. 'New Scientist' reported in November 1999  that far from increasing output Monsanto's genetically
modified soya beans were prone to stunted growth and excessive stem splitting in high temperature field conditions. This was apparently due to unintended changes in plant physiology
caused by the addition of genes making the beans resistant to glyphosate, the herbicide marketed as 'Roundup'
by Monsanto. It resulted in up to 40% yield losses compared to traditional soya beans grown in the same conditions.
Research results released at more or less the same time have also demonstrated that organic soya crops grown in high-stress drought conditions in the United States were in fact dramatically more productive than
'conventional' high-input crops. Their yield was almost double  thanks to less compacted and more water retentive soil characteristics arising from their higher organic matter content.
As if to make matters worse for the advocates of 'technology-only' solutions to world food production problems, additional research [17-25] (the most recent of which was published in December 1999) suggests
that certain types of GM plants may in fact have damaging effects on those very soil micro-organisms which Bill Butterworth identifies as being the key to unlocking the genetic potential of existing varieties.
Under conditions of global warming ironically this suite of findings would place organic production at the top of the list in terms of solutions for global hunger, genetic engineering at the bottom, and 'conventional'
techniques somewhere in the middle. Certainly it is recognised that the addition of organic matter to poor soils can improve many of their properties including reduced susceptibility to erosion . Soil erosion is a
critical issue of immense proportions influencing the future of food production in many parts of the world, and one which is often exacerbated by short-termist agricultural policy-making and practice.
Given the large gap that has opened up between what was promised from transgenic crops and what is actually delivered in practice, is more intelligent soil-biology management a better and more reliable
alternative to genetic modification when trying to develop a sustainable strategy for unlocking latent productivity in global agriculture? Certainly the results Bill Butterworth's farmer clients in the UK have been
getting seem to overwhelmingly outshine anything that America's blindly unscientific  adoption of GM crops has been able to deliver. Butterworth claims up to 80% reductions in fertiliser costs, yield increases of
45 -70%, and simultaneous falls in crop disease. This latter factor is especially interesting because with 'conventional' high-input agriculture top yields have typically gone hand-in-hand with increased risks of
plant disease and higher applications of remedial fungicides, insecticides and growth regulators.
Bill Butterworth concludes his article in 'Arable Farming' with the following words: "Those who pay more attention to soil biology get higher yields and lower costs consistently. It does seem clear that not only can
we sometimes get close to double the national average yield in a variety of crops, we may be able to do it consistently, across the farm and under a wide range of farming types. The pieces of the jigsaw are beginning
to fit into place and it is the balanced management of the soil rumen which is going to deliver."
The truth here is that for decades the industrialised approach to agriculture has principally focused at most on only half the picture - what goes on above the surface of the soil, rather than beneath it. The key to
unlocking the power of this additional realm of nature's bounty is of course intelligent holistic management, not the genetic modification of plants. By contrast in many parts of the world there has been a relentless
mental 'dumbing-down' of modern farming for nearly half a century based substantially on the deployment of chemical and related 'technologies' which in practice move management intelligence off the farm and
into the factory laboratory.
With the attention of advisers like Messrs Chalmers, Butterworth, and Wright, now turning to redress the on-farm biological and human balance have we finally reached a truly progressive and defining point in
farmland management as we leave the 20th century and its urbanised reductionist models of agricultural production behind us? Perhaps as some suggest [28-30] the time has come to welcome back the special
intelligence of the farmer's own consciousness to its rightful place at the centre of global agricultural practice. If so, the time would seem ripe to rediscover its unique connection  to the vast organising power of
the natural processes which sustain both it and the soil from which our own physical existence is constantly re-created.
Whether or not to chose this farmer-empowering route, or whether to settle for corporate dependency engineered through the industrial intellectual property rights that attach themselves to the Beringer model of
farming's future, is the most critical issue facing global agriculture at the dawn of the third millennium.
In the final analysis it may not be such a difficult choice to make.
Mark Griffiths BSc FRICS FAAV
Natural Law Party (UK)
12 January 2000
US Civil Unrest
How was civil unrest in the US tackled by local authorities
and police in the last year?
Documents related to the measures taken by the police to handle
the civil unrest (curfews, etc.), especially in Seattle at the WTO talks,
extent of damage due to the riots, news articles on the arrests of those
involved, slow progress of the WTO talks in the wake of the riots are
on-topic documents. Additionally, any information about other incidents of
civil unrest/disobedience are on-topic, if they specifically address the
way authorities tried to control the situations. Articles concerning
similar incidents outside of the US are not on-topic.
Protest, Seattle, World Trade Organization Talks, WTO, civil unrest, riots
Cell phone health hazard
How has research about the health risks of cell phones impacted the cell phone market?
Information concerning research findings about the effects of cell phones on a person's health is on-topic. Also, reports about the effect of health warnings on cell phone demand are on-topic. New cell phone technology, unless it addresses the health issue, is off-topic.
cell phone, technology, health, neurology, lymphoma
Cell phone nightmare
By Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman
From the November 4, 1999 issue of "Focus on the Corporation," a weekly e-mail report by Russell
Mokhiber, editor of Corporate Crime Reporter, and Robert Weissman, editor of Multinational Monitor. Used with permission. For information about other issues of "Focus on the Corporation," see the bottom of the page.
Ready for a real scary Halloween story?
Remember the Larry King Live show in 1993 on
cell phones? David Reynard was the guest. He
had filed a lawsuit against NEC, a cell phone
operator, and other companies, alleging that
his late wife's brain tumor was caused in part
by her use of a cell phone.
The Reynard's lawsuit was dismissed in 1995,
but Reynard's appearance on the show created
nationwide concern. At the time, there were 15
million Americans using cell phones.
The day after the Larry King Live show, the
Cellular Telecommunications Industry
Association (CTIA) went on the offensive.
Industry executives said that there were
thousands of studies that proved that wireless
phones were safe. In fact, there were no such
studies about cell phone safety.
But CTIA understood the basic reality of the
situation, and so it decided to spend $27
million over the next six years on health
studies. They hired George Carlo, figuring he
would be a perfect fit. Carlo is a public
health scientist, who had a good track record
as an industry researcher. Most of his clients
over the years have been industry clients, and
few have been disappointed with his work.
In 1994, Carlo began conducting studies to
determine whether cell phones pose a health
risk to consumers. Four times a year, Carlo
would trudge over from his Dupont Circle
office in Washington, D.C. to the offices of
CTIA to debrief the CEOs of the major
telephone and electronics firms that make up
the $40 billion a year mobile phone industry.
And things went well, until 1995.
In 1995, Carlo found that digital phones were
interfering with cardiac pacemakers.
"We then conducted about $2.5 million worth of
research to quantify that problem, and as a
result, I had somewhat of a falling out with
the industry," Carlo told us this week. "They
didn't like that finding." The industry cut
off Carlo's funding.
But through a process of negotiation, Carlo
got back in. The industry would again fund his
studies, but only if he agreed not to research
the questions of defibrillators and digital
phones, and of cell phones and automobile
safety, and he could no longer work on a very
extensive program to standardize the
methodology for testing whether or not cell
phones met industry-defined standards.
Carlo said that it took him two months to
decide that he needed to continue the work,
even under CTIA's conditions, and so he did.
What he found may prove to be the cell phone
industry's worst nightmare.
He found that the risk of acoustic neuroma, a
benign tumor of the auditory nerve that is
well in range of the radiation coming from a
phone's antennae, was 50 percent higher in
people who reported using cell phones for six
years or more. Moreover, that relationship
between the amount of cell phone use and this
tumor appeared to follow a dose-response
He found that the risk of rare neuro
epithelial tumors on the outside of the brain
was more than doubled, a statistically
significant increase, in cell phone users as
compared to people who did not use cell
He found that there appeared to be some
correlation between brain tumors occurring on
the right side of the head and use of the
phone on the right side of the head.
And, most troubling, he found that laboratory
studies looking at the ability of radiation
from a phone's antenna to cause functional
genetic damage were definitely positive, and
were following a dose-response curve.
Carlo said that he has repeatedly recommended
that the industry take a pro-active, public
health approach on the issue, and inform
consumers of his findings. He says that he
uses a cell phone, but only with a headset.
"Alarmingly, indications are that some
segments of the industry have ignored the
scientific findings suggesting potential
health effects, have repeatedly and falsely
claimed that wireless phones are safe for all
consumers, including children, and have
created an illusion of responsible follow up
by calling for and supporting more research,"
Carlo wrote in a letter to top industry CEOs
this month. "The most important measures of
consumer protection are missing: complete and
honest factual information to allow informed
judgment by consumers about assumption of
risk, the direct tracking and monitoring of
what happens to consumers who use wireless
phones, and the monitoring of changes in the
technology that could impact health."
Carlo is also troubled by a recent agreement
between Elizabeth Jacobson, the person in
charge of cell phone regulation at the Food
and Drug Administration, and Thomas Wheeler,
executive director of the CTIA. Under the
agreement, CTIA will fund the FDA to do
additional safety studies.
Carlo says that in 1994, Jacobson refused such
a cooperative research agreement, because she
didn't think she could both collaborate with
the industry and regulate it. (Jacobson,
through a spokesperson, denies taking this
"This arrangement is wrong, plain and simple,"
Carlo told us. "The FDA's behavior is
appalling to me. The FDA seems to be more than
willing to jump in bed with the industry. It
is a blatantly arrogant attempt to join in a
relationship that is a conflict of interest on
its face. The reason it has not been
criticized is that people don't know about it.
Consumers are being left out to dry."
The FDA's Russell Owen says that the FDA has
not regulated cell phones because "we don't
have sufficient evidence to determine that
there might be adverse health effects from
Sorry Mr. Owen, but in this instance, we agree
with the industry's guy. (That's a scary
HSPH Researcher Says Cell Phone Technology = Safe
Sixty-one million Americans use cell phones. Their calls are
transmitted via some of the 52,000 antennas erected over the last
decade. Around the country--and the world--many people
wonder if they should be worried about harmful health effects from
the radio waves emitted by these phones and antennas.
"There are no established health effects from cellular phone radio
waves or transmitters that operate within FCC or state guidelines,"
says HSPH researcher Peter Valberg, adjunct faculty member in the
Department of Environmental Health.
Peter Valberg, adjunct professor in the
Department of Environmental Health,
measures levels of radio waves on a
Cambridge street with a radio frequency
Valberg, who served as a full-time
HSPH faculty member for 14 years,
now splits his time between
teaching and research for HSPH
and consulting with Cambridge
Environmental, Inc. He serves on
the Peer Review Group on Cellular
Technology for the Harvard Center
for Risk Analysis; he has consulted
for the cities of Newton, MA and
Pembroke, NH on the safety of
cellular phone and high-definition
television transmitters; and he speaks to concerned citizens about
radio-wave health concerns at public meetings. He knows the
literature: "Over the past decades, there have been thousands of
experiments examining the effects of radio waves. People have
looked at the differences between exposed and control groups of
animals; others have performed epidemiologic research, and others
have looked at isolated cell systems.
"Two things have become apparent," he says. "One, intense radio
waves do produce an effect on biological organisms. These effects
arise from changing the temperature of the cells." These findings led
to the formulation of existing federal and state standards, which
reduced the allowable level of exposure by a factor of 10 for
occupational exposures and by a level of 50 for public exposure.
These and similar international standards have been endorsed by
scientific panels from the American National Standards Institute, the
World Health Organization, the National Radiation Protection Board
of Great Britain, and the Royal Society of Canada.
The other thing that research has brought to light: nothing. More
precisely, a handful of studies have reported biological effects, but
these effects were not reproducible by other researchers. "It's the
nature of science," explains Valberg. "When you're examining
something close to the limit of detectability, a lot of times you're
going to get a result that's an aberration. The validity of that result
depends upon other scientists being able to reproduce the result. So
far, low-level radio waves have failed to produce a biological effect
that can be duplicated by other researchers."
Valberg uses an analogy of being hit by a baseball bat and by a
feather to illustrate the difficulty of finding an effect from the low
levels of radiation used in cell-phone technology. The baseball bat
represents intense radio waves, and the feather stands in for
low-level radio waves from cell phones: "When I'm hit by the bat,
there's an obvious effectit hurts. But if I'm hit by a feather, is there an
effect? Is it a meaningful effect? What if I'm hit by a feather a million
times? I can't feel a harmful effect, but I can't say with a hundred
percent certainty that there hasn't been one."
Questions about the safety of cell phones come down to levels of
certainty and risk assessment. "Despite evidence that there isn't any
danger, cell-phone radio waves get a lot of attention because it's a
relatively new technology that scares people. But with so many
pressing problems in public health--air and water pollution, lead in
the environment, violence, cancer, disease, and inadequate health
care--things which we know are killing people, it gets a little
frustrating that people get worked up over something that's never
been proven to harm anyone."
And people do get worked up over radio waves. Just two years ago,
a Concord-based activist circulated a petition to block cellular
phone company Sprint from activating a cellular phone network.
Signatories on that petition included 40 researchers from HSPH and
from Boston University School of Public Health. The Boston Globe
reported this as if the schools had issued a proclamation against cell
"I get hit by this in a lot of public meetings," says Valberg. "People
say 'hasn't Harvard issued a statement against radio waves?'" The
answer is no, HSPH doesn't issue official statements of this type.
What did happen is that individual researchers and faculty members
signed a petition that called for further research--not a surprising
response from people in a research institution.
Similarly, Valberg, and virtually every other scientist who has studied
radio waves and their effect on humans, says more research is
necessary. "It's impossible to prove absolute safety. This
widespread exposure to radio waves from cell phones, and soon
from high-definition television, represents a new technology. As
scientists, it's our obligation to examine technology and be as certain
as possible that it's safe."
Valberg doesn't use a cell phone himself because, he says, "I don't
want to be that accessible." However, he has no fear of the devices.
He also points out that radio waves are found in other sources that
haven't been worrying people: "I have two kids. My son is fifteen
and uses a walkie-talkie. My daughter, who is younger, has a
remote control car. I've measured the radio waves from both of
these toys and found them to be at higher levels than those found
from cell phones. If I had any qualms about the safety of these levels
of radio-wave exposure, I certainly wouldn't let my children play
with these toys."
NATO/UN Tension over Balkans Crisis
What has been the extent and nature of tensions within and between international organizations as a result of the ongoing crisis in the Balkans?
Documents dealing with specific bombing campaigns and their aftermath would be considered off-topic. Documents treating the environmental and civilian impact of NATO bombings should also be excluded. I would prefer sources dealing with diplomatic power struggles within and between international bodies (NATO/UN) that occur as a result of the situation in the Balkans.
G-8 Agreement, Balkans, Yugoslavia, International Law, Kosovo, UN,
item=purpose, value=Answer Answer: Has the Balkans crisis jeopardized the stability of international organizations and relations?
Regional Economic Integration
What factors have facilitated increasing regional economic integration not only in Europe, but also in Southeast Asia, the Americas, the Arab world, and Africa?
Documents pertaining to specific events (i.e. the introduction of the Euro as the currency of trade in the EU) should be avoided. I would prefer information that treats the topic of regional economic integration more broadly and in light of its root causes.
Economic Integration, Currency Integration, Regional Trade Agreements, Regional Economies
How have instant messaging services caused vocabulary and spelling to shift or change in users worldwide?
Information about educational strategies to combat a growing change in spelling and vocabulary usage due to IM services are on-topic. Articles concerning this aspect of spoken and written language worldwide are on-topic. Documents restricted to new trends in technology are off-topic.
IMS, instant messaging, Internet, vocabulary, slang, spelling
What effect does Computer-Mediated Communication, specifically
Instant Messaging, have on 8th grade writing competencies?
Research Team: Allison Brown-Owens, Michelle Eason, Art Lader
As the use of instant messaging and chat becomes ubiquitous, questions arise about the impact that this new medium is having on the
language habits of our children. Instant Messaging (IM) Slang, the stripped down, phonetic representation of the written word, has
evolved to lend the element of real-time speed to this form of Computer-Mediated Communication, bringing back into fashion the art
of written communication-unique as it may be. However, as IM slang finds its way into formal school work and class projects, some
American educators have complained that the disconnect between what is acceptable that standard English and what is casual
"chit-chat" amongst friends is widening to an unacceptable degree, insisting that language standards are fundamental to common
understanding among a culture. Others say that IM Slang is merely one more way that young people have found to set themselves
apart from adults and that students with formal educations should have no problem differentiating between casual and formal
environments. Some further argue that a Standard American English language does not exist at all and that IM Slang is simply a new
form of literacy that has become part of our culture. Is Instant Messaging inhibiting students' mastery of correct English? In this
study, we will study the effects of Instant Messaging on middle school student grammar.
As a growing number of nations around the world abolish
capital punishment, how has the pressure on the US to follow suit increased or changed?
Information about the effect of other nations' capital punishment policies on the US, and whether or not there should be an effect, are on topic. Documents restricted to statistics concerning international execution/abolishment of capital punishment rates are off-topic.
capital punishment, international, abolishment, United States, death penalty
item=purpose, value=Answer Answer: As a growing number of nations around the world abolish capital punishment, how has the pressure on the US to do the same, increased or changed?
Challenges and State Court
By Penny White
Another area of disagreement among Supreme Court Justices is the
role that international opinion and law should play in our courts'
decision-making on death penalty issues. With the U.S. ranking third
in the number of executions annually, behind only China and the
Congo, pressure arising from treaty provisions and human rights
issues abound. In the state courts, foreign nationals who were denied
treaty rights upon arrest raise the issue as a means to void
confessions or convictions. While that issue generates most of the
international complaints,[xiii] recently, the Supreme Court denied
certiorari to an inmate who argued that his execution would violate
the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights' prohibition
against the execution of those who committed capital crimes while
One consequence of the international spotlight on capital punishment
in the U.S. will be the advent of new and perhaps more difficult issues
by the defense bar. Amnesty International, for example, is
encouraging defense counsel to make increasing use of international
standards in capital representation. Justice Breyer has cited
international treaties to augment his argument that the Court should
consider the delay challenge,[xv] but the Court's few decisions
regarding treaty issues have had limited applicability. Thus, state
court judges, many of whom have no international law resources, will,
nonetheless, be the initial decision makers on these difficult and
In addition to encouraging the use of treaty provisions in courts,
international opponents of the death penalty continue to pressure U.S.
officials. In April 1998, the U.N. Commission on Human Rights passed
a resolution signed by sixty-three nations urging a world-wide
moratorium. Most countries, but not the U.S., have also signed other
treaties such as the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child and
the American Convention on Human Rights, barring the execution of
those sentenced to death as juveniles.
Public Transit Funding
What legislation has Congress passed concerning the allocation of funds for both local and national public transit systems?
Documents dealing with issues that concern public transit but do not relate to its funding and/or organizational structure are considered off-topic. On-topic documents would include transit appropriations and restructuring bills in the House of Representatives.
Congressional Record, Public Transit Funding, Amtrak Funding, Transit Legislation
item=purpose, value=Answer Answer: How has Congress dealt with issues surrounding public transit and the funds required for transit operation?
What are the problems the world encounters with the increase
of its population, and what are some solutions to these problems?
Articles about the world's population in 1999, the increase in the significant number of people to be 6 billion, and the statistics of the population of 1999 are on-topic. Articles mentioning the population of specific countries without mentioning the world's population are off-topic.
World population will top 6 billion on Oct
12 - UN
Mail this story to a friend | Printer friendly version
USA: September 23, 1999
WASHINGTON - Before Y2K, there will be D6B - the
day the world's population exceeds 6 billion. U.N.
numbers-crunchers say this will happen on or about
The six billionth person will probably be born in Africa or
India, destined to be poor, illiterate and ill-housed, with a life
expectancy of perhaps 55 years, according to Tim Wirth,
president of the U.N. Foundation, who offered commentary on
a new report pegged to D6B.
The good news, Wirth said, is that overall population growth
has slowed in the last five years, from about 100 million a year
to about 78 million a year - still enough to add a bit less than
the population of Germany annually.
"The down side is that in some parts of the world, there's
desperate population growth and it is increasing poverty
greatly, especially in sub-Saharan Africa and the Indian
subcontinent," Wirth said in a telephone interview to promote
Wednesday's release of the report from the United Nations
Population Fund (UNFPA).
The U.N. report said world population had doubled since
1960, with the last billion added in the last 12 years. Over 95
percent of population growth has been in poor countries
while growth has slowed or stopped in Europe, North America
and Japan. The U.S. population is still projected to rise,
though, mostly due to immigration, according to the report.
The report project that world population will reach 8.9
billion by 2050.
The parts of the world with the highest birth rates are not only
poor, they are young, with 40 percent of the population in 62
countries under the age of 15. Worldwide, over a billion people
are between ages 15 and 24, just entering or in the midst of
their prime reproductive years.
Wirth discounted claims that the world can comfortably
support such an expanding population.
"The aspiration to an unfettered Western lifestyle ... is going to
destroy the globe," he said. "It just can't continue the way it is.
You can't have six billion people living the way people live in
Manhattan or Los Angeles."
Still, there has been measurable progress since 1960,
according to Stirling Scruggs of the UNFPA. The average
number of children per family has declined from about six to a
little less than three, he said, and most of the world's countries
have passed laws to move toward giving women the same
rights as men, which is seen as a key goal in cutting population
However, there are money problems. A global conference on
population in Cairo in 1994 judged that $17 billion a year
would be needed by the year 2000 to pay for such activities as
global family planning; by 1997, the total had reached less
than $10 billion.
International donors, including the United States, were
supposed to contribute a total of $5 billion annually, but in
1997, they offered less than $2 billion. Washington, while still
the leading donor for population activities, has significantly
reduced its level of support, the report found.
Story by Deborah Zabarenko
October 12: The Day Of 6 Billion
October 12, 1999, has been designated by the
United Nations as the Day of 6 Billion, a symbolic
observation of this historic population milestone.
According to United Nations projections, the
Earth's population could be 7 billion, 9 billion or
11 billion in 50 years, depending upon the decisions
made by today's young people about bearing
The number 6 billion does not mean much,
especially if people are unaware of concepts like
"population momentum." They are usually
surprised to learn that it took hundreds of
thousands of years to reach 1 billion in 1804; and
that the 3 billion milestone came in 1960, and
global population has doubled since then, to 6
billion in 1999.
Meeting the Needs of 6 Billion People
The number of people on earth is not the real story.
The real story is improving the quality of life of
every one of the 6 billion. The Day of 6 Billion is a
time of reflection and action to ensure a healthy
and safe future for our children and grandchildren.
At 1.07 billion, this is the history's largest
generation of young people between 15 and
24. The reproductive choices these young
people make will likely determine the planet's
future. As they move into adulthood, these
young people need access to family planning
and reproductive health services, education,
jobs and a healthy environment.
More than half the world's population is
female (equal to the world's entire
population in 1960). But too many women
and girls in too many countries lack the right
to decide their own futures and are denied
opportunities for education, employment and
health care. Around the world and here in the
United States, the more education a girl
receives, the more likely she is to postpone
pregnancy, the safer her pregnancies will be
and the fewer and healthier children she will
Our global environment is stressed by wasteful
consumption, the pressures of rapid
population growth and over-development.
We may not have solutions to concerns of
global warming, acid rain, environmental
health or air and water pollution, but we do
know what works to produce successful family
planning and reproductive health programs.
Putting People First In an historic consensus,
governments of the world came together at the
United Nations International Conference on
Population and Development in Cairo in 1994.
They agreed on a Programme of Action that puts
people first and slows rapid population growth at
the same time. The goals are to:
Improve and expand family planning and
reproductive health care for all who want and
Increase self-determination, education and
economic opportunities to improve the status
of women and girls.
End practices such as female genital
mutilation and other forms of violence
Invest $17 billion per year in global
population and development programs -
two-thirds from developing nations, one third
from the developed world.
Fulfilling the Promise
As the third most populated country on earth, the
United States needs to affirm its status as a world
leader and meet its financial responsibilities. The
needs of 6 billion people cannot be met unless U.S.
policymakers fulfill their promise made at the
International Conference on Population and
Development in Cairo in 1994 to help provide
population and development funding in countries
that cannot afford it themselves.
Most of the money for international family
planning programs - two-thirds of it - is
already coming from the developing countries
that need it most.
Financial and technical help is needed from
The United States should continue its
financial commitment to the U.N.
Population Fund (UNFPA) and increase
other international humanitarian assistance
through USAID programs.
Note: The Day of 6 Billion was originally
anticipated in July 1999. In October 1998, the U.N.
Population Division released the 1998 Revised
Population Estimates. These revised figures
showed that the global population growth rate had
been reduced primarily as a result of successful
family planning programs, as well as an increased
death rate in Africa due to AIDS. Based on these
new figures, the U.N. estimated that global
population would reach 6 billion in mid-October
Geo-Politics of War
How has war in the past decade helped shape geo-political
boundaries of conflicting nations?
Articles about war or military conflict between countries are
on-topic as long as they include the resulting geo-polital boundary of each
involved party. Articles that show statistics of war are not
on-topic. Articles about countries threatening others of waging wars
against them are off-topic.
War, geo-political boundaries
TITLE=AFGHAN FIGHTING (L UPDATE)
INTRO: Fighting in Afghanistan has continued for the
third day as Taleban forces try to oust the last
remaining opposition force in the country. As Sarah
Horner reports from Islamabad, a Pakistan-based news
agency says the opposition has retreated from a vital
TEXT: The Afghan Islamic Press (A-I-P) says forces
loyal to opposition commander Ahmad Shah Massood have
pulled back from Bagram air-base in Kapisa province,
50-kilometers north of Afghanistan's capital, Kabul.
The agency says Commander Massood's fighters have
taken positions north and west of the air-base.
A-I-P says Taleban fighters are also attacking Mahmud-
i-Raqi, the provincial capital of Kapisa, just east of
A-I-P quotes a Taleban spokesman who says more than
100 injured Taleban soldiers have been taken to
hospitals in Kabul. The agency quotes other sources
who say both sides are suffering heavy casualties.
Since capturing Kabul three years ago, the Taleban
have tried to take the areas just north of the capital
on several occasions. Each time, Commander Massood
has conceded some ground but has then fought back and
pushed the Taleban out. For the past two years, the
front-lines north of Kabul have changed little. The
Taleban concentrated its energies on capturing most of
northern and central Afghanistan and now has 90-
percent of the country under its control.
Commander Massood and remnants of the opposition
Northern Alliance have hung on to the rest and managed
to defeat Taleban attempts to take all Afghanistan.
The Taleban's current offensive, launched earlier this
week, is a concerted effort to finally achieve its
aim. Commander Massood, meanwhile, will be fighting
hard to hold onto one of his last areas of control.
The United Nations Security Council and the human
rights group Amnesty International have appealed to
both sides to stop fighting. U-N sponsored peace
talks held between the Taleban and the Northern
Alliance last week ended with little result. (SIGNED)
30-Jul-1999 12:09 PM LOC (30-Jul-1999 1609 UTC)
Source: Voice of America
Rewriting Indian history
Is there an attempt to rewrite Indian history?
Examples of on-topic stories may address the following:
1. Textbook changes (from the National Curriculum Framework for School Education)
2. Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) and Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) statements
3. Marxist views on Indian history
4. Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government press statements
5. Ancient historical texts and manuscripts
6. Views of Indian historians
Indian history, ancient texts, BJP, RSS, VHP, Romila Thapar
item=purpose, value=Answer Answer:
In defence of history
TO comprehend the present and move towards the future requires an understanding of the past: an understanding that is sensitive, analytical and open to critical enquiry. This was attempted by many Indian historians writing in the last 50 years. Their studies were not only fine examples of historical enquiry but were also pointers to new ways of extending historical methods. They widened and sharpened the intellectual foundations of the discipline of history and enriched the understanding of the Indian nation. These are the studies that have now come under attack, either directly or indirectly, by the agencies of the central government who are busy making a mockery of history. It is because of this assault on history that some of us have to speak in defence of the discipline of history.
Indian history in the 1960s and í70s moved from being largely a body of information on dynasties and a recital of glorious deeds to a broad based study of social forms. In this there was a focus on religious movements, on patterns of the economy and on cultural articulations. The multiple cultures of India were explored in terms of how they contributed to the making of Indian civilisation. Therefore, many aspects of this multiplicity and its varying cultures Ė from that of forest dwellers, jhum cultivators, pastoralists, peasants, artisans, to that of merchants, aristocracies and specialists of ritual and belief Ė all found a place in the mosaic that was gradually being constructed. Identities were not singular but plural and the most meaningful studies were of situations where identities overlapped.
Ten years ago Indian history was moving towards what some scholars have described as almost a historical renaissance. The writing of Indian historians, ranging over many opinions and interpretations, were read and studied in the world of historical scholarship, not only in India but wherever there was an interest in comparative history. Historical interpretations at this time and in many parts of the world used methods of historical analyses that were derived from a range of theories that attempted to explain and interpret the past.
These included Marxism of various kinds, schools of interdisciplinary research such as the French Annales School, varieties of structuralism and others. Lively debates on the Marxist interpretation of history, for example, led to the rejection of the Asiatic Mode of Production as proposed by Marx, and instead focused on other aspects of Marxist history. There was no uniform reading among Marxists, leading to many stimulating discussions on social and economic history. The ideas of historians other than Marxists, such as Marc Bloch, Fernand Braudel and Henri Pirenne, were included in these discussions. The intention was not to apply theories without questioning them, but to use comparative history to ask searching questions. If those who are currently busy attacking every serious historical interpretation took the trouble to read historiography Ė the history of historical writing Ė they might begin to understand what history is all about.
Some of the more obvious examples of these debates relate to varying themes of historical interest. The changing history of caste in Indian society was being studied in detail to ascertain social change and explain social disparities. It was also being viewed in a comparative sense with other systems of social organisation such as those dominated by masters and slaves as in the Greco-Roman world, or feudal lords and serfs of the medieval world or the more easily recognisable class oriented societies of recent centuries. Historians were asking the same questions that the Buddha had asked when told about Greek society: why do some societies have caste and others have a two-fold division of master and slave. These were questions that were not concerned primarily with making value judgements about caste but with trying to comprehend it as a system of organising society.
The debate on whether or not there was feudalism in India has caught the attention not only of Indian historians but also of many medieval historians in other countries. The categories of feudalism are no longer restricted to a single definition of a feudal mode of production, for many permutations and combinations are recognised and these give new forms to the concept of feudalism.
The historical investigation of the range of ideas that went into shaping Indian nationalism became a testing ground for assessing forms of nationalism in societies other than the Indian. The ideology of nationalism was enquired into and the enquiries ranged from its role in intellectual history to its impact on lesser-known local and popular movements.
New themes came under the purview of historical investigation. Gender history focused on women, not merely as additional players but as primary players and their role in the genesis of some social forms began to be studied. Systems of knowledge came to be examined in terms of their influence on society and their function rather than restricting their history to merely repeating the obvious that these were great advances in knowledge. The formation and definition of a range of Indian cultures came to include the formulations of culture from communities other than elite groups and this widened the base of social history. It also influenced the extensive study of new religious movements, their beliefs and rituals and their audiences. An interest in the history of the environment suggested fresh hypotheses about the rise and decline of urban centres or the impact of hydraulic changes or deforestation on settlements of various kinds.
This intellectual efflorescence was suddenly sought to be terminated. A blight began ten years ago, culminating in the last two years in an enforced attempt to clamp down on the process of exploring ideas. This has reached the point where the attempt is to denigrate the independent intellectual and to undermine a historical understanding of our society and its past. It has taken a variety of forms. Sometimes it has taken the form of political actions, later it resorted to intervening in and closing institutions connected to academic research, and most recently it has taken to censoring books and textbooks. Each action is orchestrated to a single aim.
The political action that initiated this blight was the tearing down of the Babri Masjid in 1992. This was an attempt to insist that a single culture and a single identity Ė a Hindu identity, defined not by Hindus in general but by those indulging in the destruction of the Masjid Ė defines Indian culture. It was a violent, aggressive act of destruction claiming to glorify Hinduism but was a far cry from representing civilised Hindu values. Implicit in this act of destruction was the theory that it drew its legitimacy from history, that it was avenging the destruction of the temple at Somanatha by Mahmud of Ghazni, and thereby setting right a wrong of history.
This fallacious idea that the past can be changed through destroying the surviving heritage from the past was of course a blatant attack on history: for the axiom of history is that the past cannot be changed, but that if we intelligently understand the past, then the present and the future can be changed. The destruction of the heritage of a society, as also happened in the case of the Taliban destroying the images of the Buddha at Bamiyan, is the subordination of past history to present politics. The claim that the past can be annulled is actually a crass attempt to redefine people, their culture and their history. The effort was and is to create a nation moulded not by all-inclusive national aspirations as of the earlier anti-colonial kind, but instead by a narrow nationalism identified with a particular version of a single religion. This makes it easier to impose an ideology of the sort that facilitates political mobilisation and access to power. History is being made a handmaiden to this process.
Once the process comes into being it encourages an appeal to what is projected as a collective memory. Collective memories are not innate and are constructed. As we all know from parallel political movements that have used history in this fashion, such as in Europe in the 1930s, the notion of a collective memory encourages simplistic explanations, single agendas even for explanations of happenings in the past, and preferably a replacing of historical fact with mythology. Collective memory can be a-historical or even anti-historical and is therefore a convenient tool for spreading fallacies.
The Hindutva approach to history ignores all other histories and schools of interpretation. They are all dismissed as Marxist or equivalent. They are then replaced with a reconstruction of the past, based on dubious evidence and arguments, and which differs from the accepted mainstream history. Hindutva history derives its legitimacy from 19th century colonial history. The periodisation of Indian history maintained by James Mill divides Indian history into the Hindu, Muslim and British periods. Millís argument and that of many other colonial historians was that the Hindus and Muslims formed two distinct communities and that they were perpetually in conflict.
This has been taken over by the Hindutva ideology in which the enmity of Hindu and Muslim is foundational. It is argued that Hindu civilisation suffered because of Muslim rulers who oppressed the Hindus. This view is propagated despite the fact that some of the most creative forms of Hinduism such as bhakti Ė the religion of devotional worship, and now the most widely practiced form of Hinduism Ė evolved in South India but became prevalent in North India during the period of Muslim rule. That Mill has been challenged by Indian historians writing in the last 50 years makes not the slightest difference to the Hindutva insistence on supporting the two nation theory.
A major contention is that Hindus were forcibly converted to Islam. This view is based on the claims of the court chroniclers of various sultanates. Some may well have been conversions under pressure. Others such as well-placed families, as for instance of some Rajputs, more frequently converted for reasons of social and political expediency. But the majority of conversions were by caste Ė jati Ė and these would have been voluntary and in the expectation that Islam held out a better deal of social equality than Hinduism.
There was of course no guarantee that the expectation would be met and less so where a caste hierarchy was not terminated with conversion. But what is of interest is that where a caste converted, it generally retained its rules of marriage, custom and some rituals and continued to have professional relationships with Hindu castes. When weavers in some North Indian towns converted to Islam, they continued their earlier relationship with Hindu textile merchants. Prior to their conversion they were anyway regarded as low caste and the traders maintained a social distance, and this distance remained.
The issue of conversion that was once a matter of historical debate is now being used politically to threaten Muslims and Christians. Historians have shown repeatedly that conversions did not create a monolithic, uniform community. Those that called themselves Islamic had immense variations not only between the Arabs and the Turks or between the Sunni and Shiaíh, but also between Khojas, Bohras, Navayats and Mappilas. These variations enriched the culture of each community and endowed them with varying identities of language, region and custom, identities that frequently intersected with those of other groups in the area. In trying to understand the history of communities, whether Hindu, Muslim or any other, there are many distinctive forms that give multiple identities to such groups. These have evolved from a long process of social negotiation, some of it contentious and some of it convivial. These identities cannot be negated as in the Hindutva interpretations that sweep them all into a single communal entity.
Another aspect of the relations between Hindus and Muslims in the ideology of Hindutva focuses on the Muslim destruction of temples in the past. This is not denied by historians but attempts are made to try and place such actions in historical perspective. This was not the only activity of Muslim rulers and temple destruction has to be juxtaposed with other undertakings that were not destructive. This is also related to the question of what we chose to recall from the past and reiterate, and what we chose to forget. Destroying a temple was a demonstration of power on the part of invaders, irrespective of whether they were Muslim or Hindu. We chose to forget that there were Hindu kings who destroyed temples, either wilfuly as did Harshadeva of Kashmir to acquire the wealth of the temples, or as part of a campaign as in the case of the victorious Paramara raja destroying temples built by the defeated Chaulukya.
My purpose in drawing attention to this is not to add up the scores, but to argue that temple destruction was not merely an act of religious hostility. Temples were certainly places of ritual space and had a religious identity. But royal temples were also statements of power and were surrogate political institutions representing royalty. They were depositories of wealth and centres of finance, they maintained social demarcations through allowing some castes to enter the temple but excluding others, and they were the cultural nucleus of at least the elite groups of a region. Temple destruction and its aftermath, therefore calls for historical explanations of a wide-ranging kind. It cannot be made the justification for destroying or threatening to destroy, mosques and churches in the present day.
In order to assert the superiority and antiquity of the Hindu community as the indigenous and earliest inhabitants of India, the theory of Aryan identity is being revived but in a curious way. Max Mueller had argued in the 19th century that the Aryans were the foundation of Indian civilisation and that they came from Central Asia. The first part of Max Muellerís argument has been adopted by Hindutva ideologues and the second part has been stood on its head. The Aryans are said to be the foundation of Indian civilisation but at the same time they are said to be indigenous. They are now being equated with the authors of the Indus civilisation, even though the Indus civilisation was pre-Aryan. It was a mercantile culture focusing on many cities and artisanal production and trade, whereas the Vedic corpus depicts a cattle-keeping society unfamiliar with urban culture. The Vedic corpus is rich in its depiction of an agro-pastoral culture, but this is in no way the same as the urban sophistication of the Indus cities.
The British Theosophist, Col. Olcott, associated with Mde. Blavatsky, was the first to argue in the 19th century, as do the Hindutva ideologues now, that the Aryans of India were not only indigenous but were the fountainhead of world civilisation, and that all the achievements of human society had their origins in India and travelled out from India. Vedic Sanskrit was the mother language of all languages and this reverses the argument of Sanskrit being descended from Indo-European. The thesis of indigenous Aryans also dismisses the argument of Jyotiba Phule and the Dalits that the Aryans were alien upper castes who oppressed the lower castes of Indian society. Caste Hindus according to the Hindutva theory have a lineal descent from the Aryans. This descent is also sought to be established by arguing that the authors of the Rigveda were the builders of the Harappan cities. Further that only the Hindus can legitimately call themselves indigenous for Muslims and Christians are foreigners.
The intention of Hindutva history is to support the vision of its founding fathers Ė Savarkar and Golwalkar Ė and to project the beginnings of Indian history as authored by indigenous Aryans. This contradicts the archaeological and the linguistic evidence of the Indo-Aryan speakers Ė but then who cares for evidence when a political message becomes the function of history. This theory ignores all the other societies, some of which were speaking Dravidian and Munda, of which there are traces in Vedic Sanskrit. It ignores the widely accepted argument among historians today that the concept of Aryan is not an exclusive, racial identity, but the social evolution of a group incorporating linguistic, cultural and ritual features, brought in by migrants from across the Indo-Iranian borderlands.
Desperate attempts are being made to prove that the Vedic people and the Harappans were identical. The linguistic evidence is ignored, particularly the presence of Dravidian and Munda, and only Sanskrit receives attention. The reading of archaeological evidence is forced to the point of supporting the equation of Harappan with Vedic, even if Harappan onagers have to be identified as the horses of the Vedic ashvamedha. Contrary to the evidence so far excavated, there is an insistence that the origins of the Indus civilisation be located on the banks of what some identify as the Sarasvati river. This would allow it to be called the Sarasvati civilisation, further evoking a Vedic source.
A history having been invented, the next question is how it is to be implemented? It is being implemented at two levels. One is the level of projecting this kind of history through research institutions and the other is through the school curriculum. It has taken on the dimensions of a campaign with the full involvement of the agencies of the Human Resource Development Ministry.
Research centres have now been staffed with those who have an ideological commitment to Hindutva history. The Council and supervisory positions in the Indian Council for Historical Research in Delhi and their research projects are also oriented to the same kind of history. Among the new members they tried to appoint an engineer in the guise of a historian to replace an established historian of early India who was critical of their changes. The public outcry against this appointment where doubts were raised about his academic credentials and his bigoted writing against Christians and Muslims, led to his being dropped. Such an appointment gives no credibility to the Council.
Whereas earlier the ICHR used to finance a variety of historical organisations, attempts are now being made to exclude those that support secular history which is dismissed by the ICHR as being left-wing history. The IIAS in Shimla now has research projects that focus on ancient Hindu civilisation and more particularly Vedic culture, other aspects of history receiving far less attention.
These interventions by the ministry have been politicised by statements to the effect that earlier these institutions were under the control of left-wing academics so now it is the turn of the right-wing academics. If the debate is formulated in terms of leftist and rightist historians then each time the party in power changes, the curriculum and the syllabus will also have to change. History is not a shuttlecock that can be thrown back and forth in accordance with the views of governments. It also means that since procedures are not being observed, not only the curriculum but also the research programmes will change. And this is precisely what has happened.
Excuse after excuse is made to prevent the publication of certain volumes of documents already in the press, as part of the project entitled, ĎTowards Freedomí. It was first said that they had not been properly edited, then that there were no indexes, and now they have to be cleared by yet another committee although they have already been cleared. A source quoted from the ICHR states that the real reason was to prevent the publication of documents which make it apparent that the Hindu Mahasabha was collaborating with the British.
Procedures of functioning as they have been laid down and followed earlier, should continue to be followed. There is also a need for respecting the professional training in a discipline and ensuring that professionally trained people are appointed to the agencies that determine education. Is it just a coincidence that in educational institutions including the NCERT, recent appointments are said to be of RSS party cadres?
The other action relating to institutions is of course even more high-handed. It takes the form of arbitrarily shutting down institutions of research as and when the government wishes to do so. An example of this is the sudden closing of the Kerala Council of Historical Research six months after it was founded. This is particularly unacceptable given the fact that there has been a growing interest in regional history and the historians working on Kerala have been active in developing research activities. [This decision was reversed through a judgment of the court.] Recently the BJP in Madhya Pradesh has attacked the scientific programmes of Eklavya, an educational NGO that produces school level books on the sciences and social sciences, and it is to be closed. For all its claims to endorsing secularism, the Congress Party in practice, seems to be sympathetic to the Sangh Parivar. If these closures become a pattern it will be disastrous for research and for a secular investment in Indian society.
Shutting down an institution is a sign of extreme insecurity on the part of those who do so. By way of contrast, even though the ICHR is now manned by those who are sympathetic to Hindutva history, the rest of us as historians are not demanding the closing of the Council but are trying to point out that it should include historians reflecting a wider range of views. Given that there are attempts to substitute mainstream history with propaganda, it is all the more necessary to have independent bodies to counteract the hegemony of the propaganda.
To argue that Marxist historians when placed in charge of institutions bring about a hijacking of history to left-wing ideology, is a view resulting from an unfamiliarity with Indian historical research of the last 50 years. The most wide-ranging debate on pre-modern Indian history has been the debate on whether or not there had been feudalism in India. D.D. Kosambiís understanding of feudalism deviated from the model of the strictly Marxist feudal mode of production. Many of us were inspired by Kosambiís work, yet the histories we have written donít necessarily follow only his line of thought.
The major critiques of the feudal mode were initiated by Marxist historians and were later added to by non-Marxists. What resulted from this debate has been the exploration of many areas of Indian history in terms of the nature of the state, polity, economy and religion that have given us immense insights into our past. Some of the universities and research institutions in Bengal funded by the Left Front government have worked on Marxist analyses of history, but have also published equally thought provoking critiques.
The confrontation among historians today is not between leftist and rightist historians, nor over establishing a Marxist view of history, as is crudely stated by some, but over the right to debate interpretations of history. There cannot be a single, definitive, official history. Such a definition of history is restricted to those for whom being a historian is merely an end to getting a government job. If some of us feel that Hindutva history is less history and more mythology we should have the right to say so, without being called Ďintellectual terroristsí and being threatened with arrest and being put down. In the final analysis, history is an intellectual enterprise and does have an intellectual dimension in its understanding of the past, however much Hindutva ideology may try and prevent that.
Basic to changing the Hindutva interpretation of history is the attempt to give a single definition to Indian culture the roots of which are said to lie in Vedic foundations. This annuls the notion of a multicultural society. It destroys the sensitive and variant relations that have existed throughout Indian history between dominant cultures and regional cultures. This sensitivity is particularly important today in forging cultural identities that are subcontinental but at the same time incorporate the articulations of the region. These are the demands of a federal or near federal polity.
Let me illustrate this. If the new school curriculum is to consist of what has been recommended by the ministry, children are now going to be taught Vedic Maths, Sanskrit, the glories of Vedic culture, Yoga and consciousness and a mish-mash of subjects under the rubric of Social Studies. This may be well motivated Ė although I doubt that Ė but it is inadequate for any exploration of knowledge or of coping with the complexities of our times and our aspirations. Where would a young person go looking for good jobs if all that he or she knows anything about is Vedic culture. Vedic culture is fine in its own place, but it is not a substitute for modern knowledge of various kinds.
These changes have not been subjected to the normal rules of the ministry, hitherto observed by other governments. So the Central Advisory Board of Education, which is required to meet to discuss and pass any modifications of the curriculum, has not been called, and has therefore not passed the new curriculum framework. Thus the changes take on the character of being illegitimate if the rules of the ministry are still tenable. Nevertheless the ministry and its agencies are going ahead and paying no attention to procedures. Perhaps this is their definition of an effective government. The Supreme Court passed a stay order since the changes have not been approved by the CABE [since vacated].
Letís look at this curriculum in the context of literacy and education. The highest literacy percentages today are in Kerala, Himachal Pradesh and Mizoram Ė all sustaining very different societies. To what extent should the difference be taken into consideration when drawing up a syllabus? Growing up in Kerala or in Himachal Pradesh have different requirements and some of these have to be conceded.
Kerala has a culture of wet rice cultivation with lineally organised homesteads, of horticulture in the production of pepper and spices, fisheries and maritime trade. Himachal has none of these. Its villages are nucleated, pastoralism is common and the crops and their cultivation are different. Himachal has religious sects largely drawing on Puranic Hinduism and to a smaller extent populations of Sikhs, Buddhists and Muslims. Kerala has a variant on these and has large populations of Muslims and Christians going back to early times. The language of Kerala, Malayalam, is entirely different from the Punjabi, Dogri and Tibetan of Himachal. Some basic educational demands therefore will also be different and such differences have to be woven into the curriculum.
But what they do have in common are the aspirations that result from education. Schooling and curriculum would need to have some relationship with the local context and ethos and some regional concerns. The question would be how best these can be introduced without denying the importance of national concerns. Educational curriculum has to be such that regional concerns are recognised as an intrinsic part of those that are of national interest. This would ultimately be more viable than forcing everyone to conform to a top-down pattern.
If we agree that we are a society of many cultures then the presence of the
many should be registered. This can only be done through centres of
research with a regional orientation. This does not mean only the histories
of the current dominant communities or castes in a region but a discussion
of the interface of the cultures of a region. The danger today is that in
an effort to restrict history to that of the upper caste Hindu Ė as
seems to be the game plan of the central government Ė the richness of
the many other cultures will be eliminated. This makes it necessary to have
state councils of historical research where the regional variation can be
articulated and at the same time can interface with the national. It also
makes it necessary for the curriculum in the states to be worked out in
association with the State Councils of Education, Research and Training.
In replacing history with Social Studies we thought that perhaps some of these ideas reflecting the presence of varying cultures would find a place in the syllabus. But the syllabus has no sensitivity to the varying requirements of different parts of the country. The new Social Studies syllabus is a package consisting of some history, economics, civics and geography. For all its modern-sounding jargon, the history syllabus derives from a 19th century, colonially oriented outline of history. It is a body of information rather than a method of critical enquiry about the past. It is substantially a listing of dynastic history and moves away from the kind of history that has in the last 50 years advanced our understanding of the past.
There is no evidence that any academic discussion on history or on the pedagogy of writing textbooks, preceded the drawing up of the syllabus or the writing of the new textbooks. And it is all being done clandestinely in a cloak and dagger fashion. There is a refusal to reveal the names of the authors of the new textbooks nor of any historians that may have been consulted Ė perhaps no historians were consulted. This is a contrast to the complete transparency that was observed when the previous NCERT textbooks were being drafted and a number of known historians were involved in discussing their content and there were consultations with teachers teaching history in schools. The minister has stated that the heads of various religious organisations would vet the history textbooks, although we are not told who they are. This predicts the kind of narratives we can expect in the textbooks and again challenges the discipline of history.
There is a constant repetition of the aim being to equip students to face challenges with confidence but no mention of familiarising students with systems of knowledge and enquiry. The syllabus remains a heavily North Indian centred one with bits added on indiscriminately from a few other areas. The original syllabus had 15 units on ancient India and three on medieval India. This met with considerable criticism, so virtually overnight the three were increased to 22. Those of us who have worked on syllabuses are amazed that such massive changes can be introduced so quickly, and one wonders whether the exercise is being taken at all seriously.
The Director of the NCERT referred to this massive change as a Ďslight modificationí. There are now weekly changes being announced and it still remains unclear as to what exactly the final syllabus will be. Yet we are told that the new books will be ready to be prescribed in the coming school session starting in April. This kind of activity suggests a playing around with school education, and this may damage the education of an entire generation of Indian children.
The content of the new syllabus for school History is predictable. The orientation is to focus on the history and values of upper caste Hindus. A few comments on the portions dealing with ancient history will illustrate this. A connection is made between the Harappan civilisation and the Vedic corpus and doubtless in the textbook it will be stated that the authors of the Harappan civilisation and of the Vedas were identical. Vedic culture is taken back to the third millennium BC, a good 1500 years earlier than the generally accepted date. South India in the Shangam age and the prehistory of North-East India are bundled together in the same unit and one is mystified as to what the connection might be.
Another unit is concerned with the germination of Upanishadic thought and would date to 600 BC. The claim that this was the contribution of India to world philosophy at that time is pure invention. The chronology jumps back and forth through the syllabus and will obviously confuse the student. The Gupta dynasty is described as attempting to unite India, even though it made little impact on the history of the peninsula. The period after Harsha in the 7th century AD is said to be a period of small kingdoms. This is particularly laughable when one thinks of the size of kingdoms at this time and this notion of course echoes the views of British administrator historians of a hundred years ago, such as Vincent Smith.
Some months back a great hue and cry was raised to prepare the ground for replacing the existing NCERT textbooks with new ones. The NCERT, the CBSE and the Ministry of HRD, behaved in a fashion that can only be described as unbefitting to government organisations. It was claimed that a number of statements made in the various existing NCERT textbooks had offended the sentiments of various religious groups. Therefore orders were issued that these passages were to be deleted from the books and further, that their subject matter was not even to be discussed in class with students.
Thus for example, references to the eating of beef by Vedic Aryans or expressing doubt about the historicity of Rama were offensive to the Hindus; a reference to an English source stating that Guru Tegh Bahadur indulged in plunder was offensive to the Sikhs; not dating Mahavira to remote antiquity was offensive to the Jainas; and that the Jats carried out raids in the countryside of Haryana and Rajasthan was offensive to the Jats.
Most interesting was the order to delete reference to the caste system and the statement that the varna scheme was the creation of the brahmans. There is now a ban on discussing the origins and history of caste in schools using the NCERT books. This sounds preposterous, but there it is. There is no intention of discussing the eating of beef in Vedic times or why it is important to provide this information in a book on ancient history. The government decrees what the history is to be, and so it shall be.
This deletion of passages from the books and the ban on discussion raises a number of issues of various kinds pertaining to the rights of individuals and the ethics of government institutions. It is clearly stated in a distinct clause of the contract signed between the authors of the textbooks and the NCERT that no changes can be made without the permission of the author. The contract therefore has been violated by the NCERT. At a wider level this is also an infringement of copyright. But the government could not care less about having dishonoured a contract and therefore behaved in an unethical fashion.
As for the CBSE decision that these subjects are not to be discussed in class, this undermines the very foundation of an educational system. The purpose of education is to enable a child to explore knowledge and this means giving priority to critical enquiry. Knowledge does not consist of a body of information to be memorised and passed on. That is the concept of education in the sishu mandirs and madrassas and such like. A modern education demands questioning, skepticism and an ability to think independently and to link information.
What then should we think of as the process of ensuring a transition of knowledge that is independent and draws on critical enquiry. It would seem that no dialogue is possible with government agencies. We have therefore to think of alternate strategies.
At one level one would have to work towards establishing councils of historical research in the various states so that regional histories can be treated in a seriously professional manner and not be reduced to being dependent on the patronage of those in power. Historical records are no longer limited to files in state archives. Over the last century the sources of history have been extended to include a vast range of material that tells us about our past. The range, apart from official documents, includes archaeology, linguistics, inscriptions, coins, monuments, documents of professional groups and of private families, and the oral tradition.
This range means that statements about the past have to draw from a multiplicity of records and if they contradict each other this may be the source of a new illumination about authorship and audience. All these records have to be preserved Ė not just the state archives and gazetteers. This can only be done by state councils, properly organised and financed and carrying out research into and preserving historical material. And it should be the function of these councils to act in dialogue with those responsible for drawing up the history syllabus and curriculum for schools.
At another level it would be required of independent historians to be more involved in the teaching of history in schools Ė at least in terms of drawing up an alternate and viable syllabus to that of the NCERT, based on both professional expertise and pedagogy. This would not be an innovation as there are groups that have been doing just this and in some cases their textbooks have been used very effectively in state schools as well as private schools. The example of the Eklavya group comes to mind. Their work will have to be revived and continued despite the assault on them.
Civil society will now have to take the initiative in planning educational
centres. The availability of more than a single textbook would provide a
challenge to those that are anxious to restrict the writing of textbooks to
a single source and thereby control knowledge. If such textbooks, different
from those produced by NCERT are reliable, friendly to young readers and
cheaply available, such an alternative system might be an excellent outcome
of the present crisis. Given the high return on textbook publishing, there
might even be a competition among publishers to acquire rights to
publishing such books.
In some ways the most serious challenge is the closing down of discussion since it is an attempt to close the mind. This is not a matter that concerns history alone, as it is equally important to all human sciences Ė be it the humanities, the social sciences or other sciences. This is a frontal attack on knowledge and as professionals engaged in the furtherance of knowledge, it seems to me that we have no choice but to oppose it. The world has moved on since the colonialism of the 19th century and we have come to value independent thinking. There are enough historians in this country that will continue to write independently. There will be enough historical concerns growing out of the multiple cultural aspects of our society, to ensure that the Indian mind is never closed.
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NEW: Democratic School Development and Management Training in Tolerance and
Confidence Building. A training course for multipliers in Bosnia-Hercegovina" (BiH, 98/99) /
The project aims at training 20 - 25 mulitipliers (head-teachers and teachers of pilot schools,
experts from pedagogical institutes), who will act as experts in starting and accompaning
processes of democratic school development and management; at setting up
school-networks throughout Bosnia-Hercegovina and at supporting school and community
projects with their know-how, organisational and managerial expertise. The project aims
especially at ethnically mixed schools, where intercultural and interethnic sensitivity is a
precondition for establishing and assuring school quality and inter-ethnic understanding.
Great care has been be taken to select the particpants in view of an ethnically mixed
group.Their interest, committment and enthusiasm will facilitate the creation of innovative
ideas and facilitate the implementation of project oriented work into the social system
"school". Where school projects are concerned, a focus will be placed on democracy and
intercultural learning, tolerance and mutual respect . In this context, the experts involved in
the project will base the training especially on European experiences of intercultural and
integrative approaches. The grant requested of ATS 2.9 million from the Austrian Federal
Chancellery would be spent on training of 25 multipliers, a study trip to Austria, financial
support for school projects and documentation of the didactics and methodology used during
the seminars. Co-financing will be necessary (OBNOVA, PHARE, World Bank) in order to
ensure long term international support for this important area of democratic development.
Restricting the Internet
How do the several stringent government restrictions on internet use in China affect net surfers and corporations?
An array of rules were enforced in China in January, 1999, to restrict online news content, control public offerings of Web companies, and oversee the use of encryption technology. News stories related to the enforcement of these rules, statements by government officials, reactions from the public and corporations and international dialogue condemning China on the issue are on-topic.
internet, China, restrictions, online, Web
National Leadership Transitions
Which nations experienced transfers of power from one head of state to another and by which methods did these transfers occur?
Articles dealing with military coups, elections and resignations leading to the installment of new leadership in individual nations are considered acceptable. I would prefer documents that make mention of the causes underlying the various shifts in power, but sources treating elections not at the head-of-state level would be considered off-topic.
international elections, military coups, political power shifts
item=purpose, value=Answer Answer: I seek an overview of the various ways in which power changes hands in various nations and for what reasons.
What kinds of information have come to light with regards to global climate change?
Articles that primarily focus on proposed solutions to climate change are off-topic. Documents dealing with the relationship between climate change legislation and business should also be excluded. Sources should contain scientific information on global warming rather than information regarding the political implications thereof.
climate change, global warming, climate study
item=purpose, value=Answer Answer:
What types of legislation have been enacted to combat suburban sprawl and at which levels of government did the legislation originate?
Documents pertaining to specific legislation (including executive orders) either debated or enacted by governments would be considered on-topic. Sources should not simply outline the problem of sprawl but should focus directly on action taken by governments to deal with the problem.
suburban sprawl, urban sprawl legislation, land use planning, land use legislation
item=purpose, value=Answer Answer: I am seeking this information in order to see whether politicians have taken any serious steps to stop the destruction of open space and the decline of our inner cities.
What types of companies and in which geographical areas made Initial Public Offerings of their stock?
Articles documenting specific IPO's as well as sources treating the reasons for any increases or decreases in the number and nature of IPO's are fair game.
Initial Public Offerings, NASDAQ, dot com companies
How do people use propaganda to their advantage during times of war?
Articles about the manipulation of the reality for war reasons in 1999, and the effect of this propaganda on people are on-topic.
Articles about the use of propaganda for reasons other than war are off-topic.
MON, 12 APR 1999 09:29:56 GMT
Bombing and the Media War
AIM Podgorica, 10 April, 1999
On Good Saturday, on the eve of the great religious holiday, Easter, Belgraders have given up
on singing and dancing in the squares, but not on gathering. Known and unknown stars of
"turbo-folk" music were replaced by actors, church choirs and chanters. It is hard to believe
that in the country with 50 years of socialism and regime blasphemy of God and the church
people know for sure why on this holy day they should not recjoice and dance. They were
simply told not to do it and they quietly standing at the Square of the Republic. A few days ago
Serb Patriarch Paul appealed that it was no time for singing and dancing, but it did not meet
with understanding. The order in the form of a recommendation arrived to the citizens from
those who have certainly never cared much for Good Saturday and Easter festivities. That
people should not sing and dance not because of bombs but because of Good Saturday was
declared by all the electronic media in Serbia. The error to dance and sing may occur only in
the parts of the Republic where reception of the program of state television is either made
difficult or impossible because of destroyed transmitters.
Last night, on 9 April, Belgrade was spared by NATO bombs, at least the downtown and its
outskirts. As state television reported, surroundings of Valjevo were bombed, and targets in
Kosovo, including the railway station in Kosovo polje near Pristina - what else, it will become
known here later on. News about the number of human victims are slow in reaching the
public, except through friends and acquaintances of those who have lost their dearest ones or
those who are announcing the death of their relatives, children or friends in the obituaries.
The tragedy of the small and poor Serbian town of Aleksinac mostly populated by miners on
whose civilian houses several days ago bombs fell still dominate the feelings of the people who
at least occasionally become aware that bombs of world power wielders can sometimes miss
their targets. Those that fell on Aleksinac tore 16 houses down to the ground, and made
another 400 unfit for living. The exact number of victims has not been stated. Bombing of
Crvena zastava factory in Kragujevac caused no less emotions.
Pictures of complete destroyed Pristina have reached Belgraders with a few-day delay. And
that is the only thing from Kosovo that can be seen in the media in Serbia. There is a lack of
TV pictures even from the demolished outskirts of Belgrade. War laws are in force in
Belgrade and Serbia, people are concerned how to save their heads, they are getting paler and
more nervous every day and literally with no unnecessary questions accept information served
to them by state media and newspapers 24 hours a day. Serbia is nowadays completely
homogenised, insulted, humiliated and devastated. Every expression of support coming from
the world is run on all television stations for days, and hatred agaisnt NATO member
countries, especially America, has reached its climax. All the eyes are turned towards Russia
which is attributed enormous power and force and it is the only hope for salvation.
As of yesterday (9 April) a decree of the president of Serbia broadened the power of the
Ministry of Internal Affairs (MUP). According to the decree, MUP can limit movement or
detain for longer than 24 hours a person who is disturbing public order and peace or
profiteering with food. A person who is believed by MUP to be dangerous for security of the
Republic can be sent to a certain place. For reasons of security, MUP can search apartments,
open letters and other... Since the very first days of the bombardments, by a special decree
newspapers and other media were made obey certain rules of propaganda.
In the third week of the war, an open media war has started between the world and the
Serbian media. It was marked by the moment when a NATO officer threatened that due to
"lies for propaganda purposes, the building of state television will be bombed if it does not
agree to broadcast program of foreign stations" or perhaps NATO itself...
Therefore, a country which is attacked and almost destroyed is expected to publish what those
who are bombing it are broadcasting. The information did not pass without reactions here,
primarily of state television which reacted with sharp commentaries. Even the sharpest critics
of the regime who are mostly the ones who excpress a wish to hear information from the
world, were shocked with the arrogance of those who are bombing. During all these days of
the war, those who are watching satellite programs, and who are just a small part of the
population in Serbia, were appalled with the propaganda and semi-truth on bombing and
developments in Yugoslavia. The few foreign reporters discreetly complained to colleague
journalists about censorship on information from Belgrade. While watching CNN, some
journalists in Serbia established that state TV was a pure amateur in comparison with the
mentioned American TV company.
What is western propaganda exactly reproached for?
From Serbia, only singing and dancing is shown to the world as opposed to the pictures of
Kosovo Albanian refugees and banished persons. Ethnic cleansing and banishments are
attributed solely to Milosevic's regime, and bombing of Kosovo as a reason of the terrible
exodus of the Albanians is not even mentioned in western propaganda, nor the departure of
verifiers from Kosovo as the only bulwark to mutual killing of the Serbs and the Albanians.
Certain commentators even concluded that the bombs were agreeable for the Serbs, since they
were not moving or fleeing. If they had just bothered to look into bus and railway stations in
Belgrade they would have seen people leaving, seeking refuge in neighburing countries or in
villages. Nobody even bothered to recall to mind that the Serbs had nowhere to go. They need
a visa for every country but Hungary where there are already about twenty thousand registered
refugees. Many families are moving to Subotica as a "safer" place. Men cannot cross the
border, and according to the new decree of the government, even children over 14 are required
to have identity cards. There is no answer to the question why the multi-ethnic Voivodina,
especially Novi Sad, is destroyed to such an extent. Why are the bridges in this city torn down,
and why is this province paying so dearly for waht the other province is experiencing.
Caught in the midst of two propagandist machineries, with state TV affecting majority of the
population as opium, the completely frantic, disoriented and bewildered people are living a
double life every day. During the day they must go to work although there is mostly nothing to
do there, and at night they go to the basements. There is no explanation for bombs which fall
immediately next to maternity hospital or downtown Belgrade, on civilians inside Serbia.
When that happens, all the "merits" of the regime in the case of Serbia go up in smoke. To
expect from an attacked country to defend those who are throwing bombs at it is indeed
To expect condemnation of the exodus of the Albanian population from those who have not
even seen the horrible sights of refugees, except for a few satellite program spectators is also
pure nonsense. Organised singing in the squares and slogans which can be seen and which
are dominated by obscene presentation of western leaders and outcries in which territory is
more important than lives are nothing but a propagandist picture of Serbia and gathering
energy for another night under bombs. At twilight already Belgrade becomes a ghost city.
There is heroism, boasting and patriotism only on television then. Until the next rally at the
Square of the Republic. The only evident effect of propaganda is homogenisation of the
people, the feeling of injustice done by the world to the Serbs. Everything else, including
everything that had been happening in Serbia and former Yugoslavia for years has been
THE MEDIA AND THE DEMONIZATION OF THE SERBS
by Marjaleena Repo
The Yugoslavian government has just expelled some journalists from NATO countries from
its territory. This is deplored by the media as "censorship," but in some of us it has created a
strange sense of relief: perhaps now there will be a ceasefire in the 10-year disinformation
campaign about the Yugoslavian conflict in general and the Serbs in particular. Or at least the
"journalists" (few actually deserve the name) have to declare that what they are talking about
is unverified rumour and hearsay since they are nowhere near the scene. Up to this point they
have been able to create the false impression that they have witnessed the events they report
The Western media's relentless demonization of the Serbs of Yugoslavia has, however,
produced a very predictable (and no doubt, wished-for) result: a truly genocidal assault on the
Serbian people by Western military might, Canada to its eternal shame participating, breaking
every relevant international covenant and treaty.
The pack-journalism over the last ten years has also succeeded in hoodwinking many
Canadians into thinking that what is at stake is the good-riddance of a Serbian Hitler who has
attempted a "final solution" of sorts on assorted ethnic groups in Yugoslavia. A lot of
well-intentioned people are cheering the bombing of yet another pariah nation into the Stone
Age. With the accumulated effects of media rumour-mongering and willful disinformation,
who can blame these folks for their barely controlled blood thirst? After all, because Hitler
wasn't stopped in time, millions perished in concentration camps, goes the heart-felt
Yet the labelling of Yugoslavia's Serb leaders as Hitlers - and the Serbs themselves as brutal,
subhuman monsters - is a familiar trick from recent history. It has been perpetuated by the
various hired hands, PR firms, who have worked overtime for the various ethnic groups
pushing for secession which would utterly destroy the once well-functioning, multi-ethnic
Yugoslavian federation and replace it with small nation-states which ethnically cleansed
themselves (Croatia, for instance, expelled between 500,000 and a million Serbs from its
territory.) The media has merely carried the message of these "hidden hands" of the Balkan
The world was shocked to find out that a PR firm, Hill and Knowlton, had manufactured the
"incubator babies" incident in Kuwait which precipitated the Gulf War: Iraqi soldiers ripping
Kuwaiti babies out of incubators in a genocidal fashion. Phony eywitnesses to this atrocity
tearfully testified in front of U.S. politicians and the media, adding to public support for the
subsequent bombing of Iraq and contributing hugely to the demonization of the Iraqis, leaders
and citizens alike. Even Amnesty International was taken in by the falsehood, which was later
exposed as such, but only after the military damage was done. Yet the shock of being duped
soon wore off and gullibility returned. In no time another American PR firm, Ruder Finn,
working for the Croatian and Bosnian separatists, publicly bragged that it had been able to
turn world opinion against the Serbs. In April 1993 on French television, James Harff, the
director of Ruder Finn, described his proudest public relations effort as having "managed to
put Jewish opinion on our [Croatian and Bosnian] side." This was a "sensitive matter," he
added, as "the Croatian and Bosnian past was marked by real and cruel anti-semitism. Tens
of thousands of Jews perished in Croatian camps..." Our challenge was to reverse this attitude
and we succeeded masterfully. At the beginning of July 1992, New York Newsday came out
with the article on Serb camps. We jumped at the opportunity immediately. We outwitted
three big Jewish organizations.... That was a tremendous coup. When the Jewish
organizations entered the game on the side of the [Muslim] Bosnians we could promptly
equate the Serbs with the Nazis in the public mind. Nobody understood what was happening
in Yugoslavia.... By a single move, we were able to present a simple story of good guys and
bad guys which would hereafter play itself. We won by targeting the Jewish audience. Almost
immediately there was a clear change of language in the press, with the use of words with
high emotional content such as ethnic cleansing, concentration camps, etc. which evoke
images of Nazi Germany and the gas chambers of Auschwitz. "
The PR firm was piling hoax upon hoax. The famous story of Serb concentration camps was
built on a photo of a gaunt man surrounded by others, staring at the viewer from behind
barbed wire; surely an image to chill one to the bones. It took years before a German journalist
Thomas Deichman, in an article titled "The picture that fooled the world," described how the
famous photo was staged by its takers, British journalists, who were photographing the
inhabitants from inside barbed wire which was protecting agricultural products and machinery
from theft in a refugee and transit camp; the men stood outside of it; and at no time was there
a barbed-wire fence surrounding the camp. But by that time the image had done its deed,
terminally slamming the Serbs as genocidal mass murderers.
There are countless other stories, all deliberately maligning the Serbs to further the ends of
military intervention. These stories and photos of "genocide" and "ethnic cleansing" (a la
Hitler) in a civil war, in which Serbs are guilty as sin and others are their innocent victims, are
repeated ad nausea by western reporters without the slightest evidence, and have provided
the ground for the public's (hopefully only temporary) acceptance of the illegal and brutal war
against the sovereign nation of Yugoslavia. They continue after NATO's bombing began,
unabated, with new absurdities such as the suggestion that the Serbs are really bombing
themselves! Perhaps in the war crimes court there will soon be a place for journalists and PR
firms who with their inflammatory reporting and fraudulent actions cause wars to begin.
What effect does prostitution (legal or otherwise) have on
national economies and societies?
On-topic documents might address some of the following issues:
1. Sexually transmitted diseases
2. Sexual abuse / coercion
3. Tippel Zone, Holland
4. Sex education
5. Women's education
STD, sexual coercion, legislation, education
Sunday, December 24, 2000. Issue 2039
Home Affairs Correspondent
Brothels should be legalised, says Home Office
Prostitution in brothels and massage parlours should be regulated by local councils and the police, a Government report recommends.
Ministers are considering the report, from the Home Office's Policing and Reducing Crime Unit, which effectively calls for the legalisation of such establishments. It says that, in many areas, the police already tacitly recognise brothels, even though they are illegal, because it is thought preferable for women to work inside rather than plying their trade on the streets.
The report, For Love or Money: Pimps and the Management of Sex, says: "Officers worked with parlours and working flats, offering advice and support. The police monitored the parlours to ensure the unwritten rules were being observed." The authors add: "We support this type of pragmatism. Ensuring that sex markets take the least unacceptable form is a more realistic policy goal than eradicating them."
Their report goes further and recommends that the effective legalisation and tighter regulation of brothels would safeguard the women who work there and help local residents deal with problems.
"Recently there has been a steady rise in the number of off-street sex-market establishments," it says, adding: "Many of these are ignored by the police unless a complaint is received, and are therefore largely unregulated. There are likely to be clear benefits in tighter control and regulation. Not the least of these is that if these markets are well-managed, enforcement efforts can be focused on street sex markets and protecting vulnerable individuals who become sex workers."
Several cities, including Birmingham and Sheffield, have experimented with "toleration zones", where police turned a blind eye to prostitution. The zones were aimed at getting prostitutes out of residential areas, rather than meeting any wish to legalise the trade.
London and Manchester already effectively allow brothels to operate as massage parlours or saunas. As long as local people raise no objections, officers do not halt the vice trade there and even make regular visits to police the premises. Advertisements for the establishments are accepted by local newspapers and the brothel-owners pay taxes.
Support is also growing in Parliament for the legalisation of prostitution. Last month, Jane Griffiths, Labour MP for Reading East, called for brothels to be legalised. She said the move would allow the police "to crack down on unlicensed operators and combat the street sex trade, frequently run by pimps who have criminal records".
Last week, ministers announced 11 pilot projects ó each backed by £100,000 of funding ó aimed at getting prostitutes off the streets.
Laws about hijackers
What are international legal policies regarding the prosecution and punishment of hijackers?
In 1999 two suspected hijackers were arrested and held in preparation for a
trial in the Netherlands. Additionally, Indian Airlines jetliner was
hijacked, and the culprits were allowed to go free. More about protocol and
laws concerning the arrest and prosecution of international hijackers are on-topic.
hijackers, Pan Am 103, Indian Airlines, Kandahar, legislation, world court
How has the formation of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) intensified the Iraq disarmament crisis?
Articles that address the following issue are on-topic.
On December 17, 1999, UNSCOM was replaced by the United Nations Monitoring,
Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) and ordered Iraq to allow
inspections teams immediate and unconditional access to any weapons sites
and facilities, which Iraq rejected. Additionally, information about the
disarmament crisis itself and the ways UNMOVIC has caused the situation to
change are on-topic, as are articles about why UNSCOM was replaced by
UNMOVIC. Documents restricted to UNSCOM, however, are off-topic.
UNMOVIC, Iraq, UNSCOM, disarmament
Future of Mid-East Peace
How have elections and other events affected the future of Mid-East peace politics?
On May 17, 1999, Ehud Barak was elected Prime Minister of Israel. Stories
related to the election, commentaries on the future of Israel and Mid-East
peace, and statements by Ehud and other statesman about the future of peace in
the Mid-East, are on-topic. Documents dealing simply with acts of violence
in the region, with no mention of how it affects the peace situation, are
Ehud Barak, Israel, Palestine, Mid-East, peace process
What have been the leading causes of corporate mergers and what has been the reaction of labor unions and the general public to industry consolidation?
Documents that focus on the types of companies that merged as well as the reasons for those mergers are on-topic. Sources detailing the reaction of organized labor and of the general populace to mergers are also on-topic, as are documents that describe the economic processes that lead to consolidation. However, documents that report on legislation created to combat monopoly companies should not be included.
Mergers, industry consolidation, corporate integration
To what extent have scandals in professional and amateur athletics tarnished the images of the various athletes and organizations involved in them?
Stories dealing with individual sporting scandals as well as articles outlining general trends in and fallout from sports scandals are on-topic.
sports scandals, athlete scandals, sports gambling, athletes, drugs
item=purpose, value=Answer Answer: Have the various scandals caused irreparable damage to the image of the sporting organizations they've affected?
Efficiency of computer operating systems
How does efficiency compare among current computer operating systems?
On-topics include only current personal computer operating
systems. Prefered documents include statistics on system crashes, bug
reports, user reviews, and consumer reports. Documents dealing with the
financial status of leading computer companies and engineers are off-topic,
as are operating systems for embedded devices, and OSes still in
development phases. Search should return information
concerning how completed OSes compare/contrast each other.
Efficiency, Computer operating systems, Windows, Linux, Unix
item=purpose, value=Answer Answer: How does efficiency compare
among modern computer operating systems?
Does gender affect how children interact with one another during group play activities?
Articles relating to children playing with each other with a
focus on gender dynamics are on-topic such as male/female roles perceived
in adolescants. Documents regarding general group
behavior are off-topic, as are ones dealing specifically with
different play activities by children. Search should focus on the gender aspect
of children's interactions with one another and not their surrounding
environment. Documents from academic studies on children are acceptable,
while general observations are not.
gender studies, group behavior, group dynamics, children, play, interaction
The history of nanotechnology
How advanced has nanotechnology become in the last ten years?
Articles relating to the latest advances in nanotechnology,
recent discoveries that have helped the evolution of nanotechnology, and predictions concerning the future of nanotechnology are on-topic.
nanotechnology, history, break-through, advances
Parental advisory music
How has the implementation of parental advisory warnings affected music record sales?
Articles should compare record sales resulting before to after the
implementation of parental advisory labels.
parental advisory, explicit lyrics, record sales
item=purpose, value=Answer Answer: Has record sales declined since the implementation of parental advisory warnings?
In what ways do international advocacy groups demonstrate their
concern over human rights in China?
Examples of on-topic documents may include the following:
1. Amnesty International (human rights groups)
2. Human rights in China(US based group)
3. Comments of Chris Patten
4. China's role in Tibet
5. political dissidents
6. Summary executions, torture and arbitrary arrests
7. Women's rights groups
Amnesty International, political dissidents, women rights groups, China, human rights
Tuesday, January 12, 1999 Published at 00:44 GMT
US presses China on human rights crackdown
China's clampdown sparked international protest
American and Chinese officials have begun two days of talks in Washington on human rights issues.
Director, Human Rights in China, Xiao Quing: This is the harshest crackdown since Tiananmen
It is the first such meeting since China broke off the dialogue in 1995 and comes amid what human rights groups are describing as a renewed crackdown on political activists in China.
Several dissidents received lengthy jail sentences last month - three of them for their roles in founding the China Democracy Party.
The trials sparked worldwide condemnation with the US calling the sentences deplorable. Several US congressmen called for the meeting to be postponed describing the decision to resume the talks as inappropriate and fruitless, given the current situation in China.
Crackdown said to be the worst since Tiananmen
More activists have since been arrested and President Jiang Zemin has warned subversive activities will be "nipped in the bud". He has China's programme of reforms will not be allowed to challenge the political monopoly held by the Chinese Communist Party.
Human rights organisations have sent a letter to the US Government urging it to suspend the human rights talks in protest at the arrests.
Xiao Quing, director of Human Rights in China, said the new campaign against activists was the most serious since the violent crackdown following the pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square in 1989.
BBC Correspondent Paul Royall: The recent imprisonment of dissenters makes a mockery of this human rights dialogue
A US State Department spokesman said he hoped the meeting would provide an opportunity to discuss what he called the recent disturbing developments in the Chinese Government's treatment of the democracy movement.
The State Department says it will urge Beijing to ratify the United Nations convenant on civil and political rights, which China signed last year.
State Department Spokesman James Rubin: Decision does not mean we regard China's record as satisfactory
A spokesman for the Chinese foreign ministry said he expected an exchange of views in a frank, serious and constructive manner.
Mr Xiao said the US and European governments should consider introducing a resolution at the United Nations to condemn China's recent action.
Freedom of speech
The crackdown comes just months after China signed the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which guarantees freedom of speech.
But President Jiang has dismissed international criticisim as foreign interference.
Shortly after last month's controversial trials, the Chinese authorities targeted the arts and entertainment industries, mandating harsh punishments for those found guilty of "inciting to subvert state power".
The new rules cover writing, music, movies, television, video recordings and computer software, outlawing material that "endangers social order".
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27 Dec 98 | Asia-Pacific
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27 Dec 98 | Asia-Pacific
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In this section
Indonesia rules out Aceh independence
DiCaprio film trial begins
Millennium sect heads for the hills
Uzbekistan voices security concerns
Chinese imports boost US trade gap
ICRC visits twelve Burmese jails
Falintil guerillas challenge East Timor peackeepers
Malaysian candidates named
North Korea expels US 'spy'
Holbrooke to arrive in Indonesia
China warns US over Falun Gong
Thais hand back Cambodian antiques
Global Wage Remittance
What is the role of multinational companies in facilitating
remittances, or money sent from migrants in one country to their families back home?
On-topic documents include those about the economic and social
implications of global wage remittances, especially the role of companies
like Western Union in facilitating wage remittances. Policies regarding
wage remittances and general discussions of their impact are also on topic.
wage remittance technology, Western Union
Mention Western Union to an American, and chances are he or she will think of telegrams and maybe that '60s frat-rock song of the same name. But in the rest of the world, Western Union means money. Having converted its wire traffic from text messages to cash, Western Union increasingly serves as a rough-and-ready bank for millions of migrant workers who send part of their pay to loved ones back home, whether from an Arizona broccoli field to a Mexican village or from a Saudi oil field to Bombay. As the pace of global migration quickens, so does the business of Western Union, which this year will add 20,000 cash-dispensing outlets to the 159,000 it operates in 195 countries and territories ó nearly four times as many locations as McDonald's, Starbucks and Wal-Mart combined. Quietly, Western Union has become one of the world's most pervasive ó and profitable ó financial institutions.
Over the past decade, remittances of wages from migrant workers to their native countries have risen 44%, to an estimated $138 billion last year, and they are projected to grow an additional 28% over the next three years. According to the Nilson Report, which tracks payment services, Western Union controls nearly 80% of the electronic money-transfer market in the U.S., the world's biggest sender of remittances, which helped it pick up a nicely rounded $1 billion in profit last year from $3.2 billion in revenue. But several years of 30% profit margins have drawn complaints of price gouging ó and a host of new competitors ranging from big U.S. banks (Bank of America, Citigroup, U.S. Bancorp, Wells Fargo) to credit unions to foreign niche players like Remit2India.com and FXRemit.com, which caters to Filipinos. Western Union president Christina Gold, 55, a former Avon executive, is responding by giving her firm a makeover. Long billed as the "Fastest Way to Send Money," Western Union has just launched a $300 million global ad campaign using a new slogan, "Uniting People with Possibilities." The company is clearly trying to soften its image. But its executives are under no illusions: defending its lead is getting harder than ever, requiring big investments in new technology and new outlets, especially in the burgeoning markets of China and India.
For thousands of tiny villages around the globe, Western Union serves as the main link to the global economy. About 100 miles south of Mexico City, in a valley framed by towering pre-Columbian ruins, sits Coatetelco, population 15,000, which has a beauty parlor but no bank. A few people grow maize, chilies and fruit, but remittances ó mostly from agricultural or construction workers in Georgia and the Carolinas ó account for a staggering 90% of the villagers' incomes. Patricio, 49, who stopped working in the U.S. three years ago, says sending money to Coatetelco has become more convenient and less expensive since his return. At the end of each month, he gets a call from his two sons, who are working illegally in Georgia. They give him a code number, and he drives or rides his horse four miles to the nearest Western Union, located in a government telegraph office, to pick up the $600 they spent $40 to wire to him. Less expensive remittance services are available at the nearby Banamex bank in Mazatepec, but so far, Patricio and his neighbors aren't willing to travel the eight miles to get there. Besides, he says, "we do not trust the banks, and they make everything more difficult."
Since its founding as a telegraph company in 1851, Western Union has pioneered the stock ticker (1867), the electronic money transfer (1871), the credit card (1914), the singing telegram (1933) and intercity facsimile service (1935). But since 1995, when it became a division of the Denver-based First Data Corp., the world's biggest credit-card processor, Western Union has focused on electronic payments. Western Union processed nearly a billion checks and money orders in 2001 and is the biggest mortgage-payment processor in the U.S. It has also become a leader in the gift-card market, with clients including Blockbuster and Toys "R" Us.
But money transfers are Western Union's bread and butter, last year accounting for 80% of the division's revenues, which in turn make up some 40% of First Data's. "It's a sleeping giant," Gold says of her company, "in the sense that many people still think of us as an old telegraph company and don't really recognize how connected we are to the populations of the world." Appointed president in May 2002, Gold, a Montreal native, is working to update the company's image, which was one of her specialties when she ran Avon Products' North America division. Gold for several years served as CEO of the Dallas-based Excel Communications, which uses Avon-style direct-selling methods to market long distance, wireless and other phone services. Since she arrived at Western Union, she has focused on giving the brand a unified look and feel. "At one point, we had 87 different logos around the globe," she says...
What affect does consumer preference for customization have on market economies?
Product customization in this increasingly digital world can decrease the cost of production while increasing customer satisfaction. To remain competitive, companies are having to offer unique packages of their product to the customer. Articles addressing these issues are on topic. Product customization and consumer preferences in market economies are on-topic. Economic theories and policies are off-topic. Topic should focus on growing trends.
product customization, comsumer preference, market economy
Candy Short is a born shopper. She studies every purchase with the zeal of her hound dogs sniffing out a trail. So she couldn't help herself when, while laid up with a back injury in her Southern California home last month, she chanced upon a curious offer on the Internet. A company called Reflect.com promised it could customize cosmetics for her based on information she entered on its website. Short, 33, formulated a lipstick, a moisturizer, then pretty much an entire product line. Some $500 later, she kissed mass-market makeup goodbye for good.
How have instances of racial profiling encroached upon the
civil liberties of individuals, and has legislation changed as a result?
On-topic documents might include the following:
1. American Civil Liberties Union report, 1999
2. documents relating to 'pretext stops'
3. Supreme court rulings
4. National Urban League
5. speeding ticket violations and statistics
6. Clinton government's role in racial profiling
state troopers, racial profiling, American Civil Liberties Union, National Urban League
item=purpose, value=Answer Answer:
The Racial Profiling
Heather Mac Donald
he anti‚Äďracial profiling juggernaut has finally met its nemesis: the truth. According to a new study, black drivers on the New Jersey Turnpike are twice as likely to speed as white drivers, and are even more dominant among drivers breaking 90 miles per hour. This finding demolishes the myth of racial profiling. Precisely for that reason, the Bush Justice Department tried to bury the report so the profiling juggernaut could continue its destructive campaign against law enforcement. What happens next will show whether the politics of racial victimization now trump all other national concerns.
A debate with OpinionJournal.com:
OpinionJournal‚Äôs Argument 28 March 2002
Mac Donald‚Äôs Rebuttal 29 March 2002
OpinionJournal‚Äôs Response 2 April 2002
Mac Donald‚Äôs original prediction:
The Myth of Racial Profiling Spring 2001
National Review Online 1 April 2002
FrontPage Magazine 3 April 2002
St. Louis Post-Dispatch 10 April 2002
FrontPage Magazine 6 May 2002
Until now, the anti-police crusade that travels under the banner of ‚Äúending racial profiling‚ÄĚ has traded on ignorance. Its spokesmen went around the country charging that the police were stopping ‚Äútoo many‚ÄĚ minorities for traffic infractions or more serious violations. The reason, explained the anti-cop crowd, was that the police were racist.
They can argue that no more. The new turnpike study, commissioned by the New Jersey attorney general, solves one of the most vexing problems in racial profiling analysis: establishing a violator benchmark. To show that the police are stopping ‚Äútoo many‚ÄĚ members of a group, you need to know, at a minimum, the rate of lawbreaking among that group‚ÄĒthe so-called violator benchmark. Only if the rate of stops or arrests greatly exceeds the rate of criminal behavior should our suspicions be raised (see ‚ÄúThe Myth of Racial Profiling,‚ÄĚ Spring 2001). But most of the studies that the ACLU and defense attorneys have proffered to show biased behavior by the police only used crude population measures as the benchmark for comparing police activity‚ÄĒarguing, say, that if 24 percent of speeding stops on a particular stretch of highway were of black drivers, in a city or state where blacks make up 19 percent of the population, the police are over-stopping blacks.
Such an analysis is clearly specious, since it fails to say what percentage of speeders are black, but the data required to rebut it were not available. Matthew Zingraff, a criminologist at North Carolina State University, explains why: ‚ÄúEverybody was terrified. Good statisticians were throwing up their hands and saying, ‚ÄėThis is one battle you‚Äôll never win. I don‚Äôt want to be called a racist.‚Äô ‚ÄĚ Even to suggest studying the driving behavior of different racial groups was to demonstrate one‚Äôs bigotry, as Zingraff himself discovered when he proposed such research in North Carolina and promptly came under attack. Such investigations violate the reigning fiction in anti‚Äďracial profiling rhetoric: that all groups commit crime and other infractions at equal rates. It follows from this central fiction that any differences in the rate at which the police interact with certain citizens result only from police bias, not from differences in citizen behavior.
Despite the glaring flaws in every racial profiling study heretofore available, the press and the politicians jumped on the anti-profiling bandwagon. How could they lose? They showed their racial sensitivity, and, as for defaming the police without evidence, well, you don‚Äôt have to worry that the New York Times will be on your case if you do.
No institution made more destructive use of racial profiling junk science than the Clinton Justice Department. Armed with the shoddy studies, it slapped costly consent decrees on police departments across the country, requiring them to monitor their officers‚Äô every interaction with minorities, among other managerial intrusions.
No consent decree was more precious to the anti-police agenda than the one slapped on New Jersey. In 1999, then-governor Christine Todd Whitman had declared her state‚Äôs highway troopers guilty of racial profiling, based on a study of consent searches that would earn an F in a freshmen statistics class. (In a highway consent search, an officer asks a driver for permission to search his car, usually for drugs or weapons.) The study, executed by the New Jersey attorney general, lacked crucial swathes of data on stops, searches, and arrests, and compensated for the lack by mixing data from wildly different time periods. Most fatally, the attorney general‚Äôs study lacked any benchmark of the rate at which different racial groups transport illegal drugs on the turnpike. Its conclusion that the New Jersey state troopers were searching ‚Äútoo many‚ÄĚ blacks for drugs was therefore meaningless.
Hey, no problem! exclaimed the Clinton Justice Department. Here‚Äôs your consent decree and high-priced federal monitor; we‚Äôll expect a lengthy report every three months on your progress in combating your officers‚Äô bigotry.
Universally decried as racists, New Jersey‚Äôs troopers started shunning discretionary law-enforcement activity. Consent searches on the turnpike, which totaled 440 in 1999, the year that the anti‚Äďracial profiling campaign got in full swing, dropped to an astoundingly low 11 in the six months that ended October 31, 2001. At the height of the drug war in 1988, the troopers filed 7,400 drug charges from the turnpike, most of those from consent searches; in 2000, they filed 370 drug charges, a number that doubtless has been steadily dropping since then. It is unlikely that drug trafficking has dropped on New Jersey‚Äôs main highway by anything like these percentages.
‚ÄúThere‚Äôs a tremendous demoralizing effect of being guilty until proven innocent,‚ÄĚ explains trooper union vice president Dave Jones. ‚ÄúAnyone you interact with can claim you‚Äôve made a race-based stop, and you spend years defending yourself.‚ÄĚ Arrests by state troopers have also been plummeting since the Whitman‚ÄďJustice Department racial profiling declaration. Not surprisingly, murder jumped 65 percent in Newark, a major destination of drug traffickers, between 2000 and 2001. In an eerie replay of the eighties‚Äô drug battles, Camden is considering inviting the state police back to fight its homicidal drug gangs.
But one thing did not change after the much-publicized consent decree: the proportion of blacks stopped on the turnpike for speeding continued to exceed their proportion in the driving population. Man, those troopers must be either really dumb or really racist! thought most observers, including the New Jersey attorney general, who accused the troopers of persistent profiling.
Faced with constant calumny for their stop rates, the New Jersey troopers asked the attorney general to do the unthinkable: study speeding behavior on the turnpike. If it turned out that all groups drive the same, as the reigning racial profiling myths hold, then the troopers would accept the consequences.
Well, we now know that the troopers were neither dumb nor racist; they were merely doing their jobs. According to the study commissioned by the New Jersey attorney general and leaked first to the New York Times and then to the Web, blacks make up 16 percent of the drivers on the turnpike, and 25 percent of the speeders in the 65-mile-per-hour zones, where profiling complaints are most common. (The study counted only those going more than 15 miles per hour over the speed limit as speeders.) Black drivers speed twice as much as white drivers, and speed at reckless levels even more. Blacks are actually stopped less than their speeding behavior would predict‚ÄĒthey are 23 percent of those stopped.
The devastation wrought by this study to the anti-police agenda is catastrophic. The medieval Vatican could not have been more threatened had Galileo offered photographic proof of the solar system. It turns out that the police stop blacks more for speeding because they speed more. Race has nothing to do with it.
This is not a politically acceptable result. And the researchers who conducted the study knew it. Anticipating a huge backlash should they go public with their findings, they checked and rechecked their data. But the results always came out the same.
Being scientists, not politicians, they prepared to publish their study this past January, come what may. Not so fast! commanded the now-Bush Justice Department. We have a few questions for you. And the Bush DOJ, manned by the same attorneys who had so eagerly snapped up the laughable New Jersey racial profiling report in 1999, proceeded to pelt the speeding researchers with a series of increasingly desperate objections.
The elegant study, designed by the Public Service Research Institute in Maryland, had taken photos with high-speed camera equipment and a radar gun of nearly 40,000 drivers on the turnpike. The researchers then showed the photos to a team of three evaluators, who identified the race of the driver. The evaluators had no idea if the drivers in the photos had been speeding. The photos were then correlated with speeds.
The driver identifications are not reliable! whined the Justice Department. The researchers had established a driver‚Äôs race by agreement among two of the three evaluators. So in response to DOJ‚Äôs complaint, the researchers reran their analysis, using only photos about which the evaluators had reached unanimous agreement. The speeding ratios came out identically to before.
The data are incomplete! shouted the Justice Department next. About one third of the photos had been unreadable, because of windshield glare that interfered with the camera, or the driver‚Äôs position. Aha! said the federal attorneys. Those unused photos would change your results! But that is a strained argument. The only way that the 12,000 or so unreadable photos would change the study‚Äôs results would be if windshield glare or a seating position that obstructed the camera disproportionately affected one racial group. Clearly, they do not.
Nevertheless, DOJ tried to block the release of the report until its objections were answered. ‚ÄúBased on the questions we have identified, it may well be that the results reported in the draft report are wrong or unreliable,‚ÄĚ portentously wrote Mark Posner, a Justice lawyer held over from the Clinton era.
DOJ‚Äôs newfound zeal for pseudo-scientific nitpicking is remarkable, given its laissez-faire attitude toward earlier slovenly reports that purported to show racial profiling. Where it gets its new social-science expertise is also a mystery, since according to North Carolina criminologist Matthew Zingraff, ‚Äúthere‚Äôs not a DOJ attorney who knows a thing about statistical methods and analysis.‚ÄĚ Equally surprising is Justice‚Äôs sudden unhappiness with the Public Service Research Institute, since it approved the selection of the institute for an earlier demographic study of the turnpike.
The institute proposed a solution to the impasse: Let us submit the study to a peer-reviewed journal or a neutral body like the National Academy of Sciences. If a panel of our scientific peers determines the research to be sound, release the study then. No go, said the Justice Department. That study ain‚Äôt seeing the light of day.
Robert Voas, the study‚Äôs co-author, is amazed by Justice‚Äôs intransigence. ‚ÄúI think it‚Äôs very unfortunate that the politics have gotten in the way of science,‚ÄĚ he says, choosing his words carefully. ‚ÄúThe scientific system has not been allowed to move as it should have in this situation.‚ÄĚ
As DOJ and the New Jersey attorney general stalled, The Record of Bergen posted the report on the Web, forcing the state attorney general to release it officially. Now the damage control begins in earnest. Everyone with a stake in the racial profiling myth, from the state attorney general to the ACLU to defense attorneys who have been getting drug dealers out of jail and back on the streets by charging police racism, is trying to minimize the significance of the findings. But they are fighting a rear-guard battle. Waiting in the wings are other racial profiling studies by statisticians who actually understand the benchmark problem: Matthew Zingraff‚Äôs pioneering traffic research in North Carolina, due out in April, as well as sound studies in Pennsylvania, New York, and Miami. Expect many of the results to support the turnpike data, since circumstantial evidence from traffic fatalities and drunk-driving tests have long suggested different driving behaviors among different racial groups. While racist cops undoubtedly do exist, and undoubtedly they are responsible for isolated instances of racial profiling, the evidence shows that systematic racial profiling by police does not exist.
The Bush administration, however desperate to earn racial sensitivity points, should realize that far more than politics is at stake in the poisonous anti‚Äďracial profiling agenda. It has strained police-community relations and made it more difficult for the police to protect law-abiding citizens in inner-city neighborhoods. The sooner the truth about policing gets out, the more lives will be saved, and the more communities will be allowed to flourish freed from the yoke of crime.