News Briefs: Trophy Season | Reining in Rants | Wendover Hearing | Crime Drops | Morton's Mellow | Labor Notes | Something's Rotten
News: Ductal Lavage -- A pap smear for the breast?
News: Guide to undercovered war news online.
Happening People: Mary-Minn Sirag.
Quick: name the UO sports team that's won a national championship trophy this year.
The Ducks' two revenue-producing teams, football and men's basketball, had great seasons. Both finished first in the Pac-10 Conference and excelled in the postseason; UO football won the Fiesta Bowl and finished second in the nation, and the basketball team advanced to the regional finals of the NCAA Tournament.
--A work session and public hearing are coming up the afternoon and evening of April 8 on some 30 pages of changes to our new Land Use Code Update (LUCU). Local developers are challenging the new rules as being unfair and too restrictive (surprise!) and they might have found a few legitimate complaints that could stand up in court. The problem for Eugene is not so much how we tweak the rules, but rather what happens to local land-use planning in the process. Do we toss out LUCU and go back to the outdated and inadequate Chapter 9 of the Eugene Code? Do we water down LUCU to appease developers? Let's not rush to a permanent fix of LUCU that will lead to the destruction of even more resource land and natural habitat. That's not what the people of Eugene want.
--The debate continues over the role of violence in environmental politics following a lively panel discussion March 9 at the Public Interest Environmental Law Conference, and a follow-up Viewpoint by Spruce Houser. It's an old discussion, not likely to be resolved. The debate here in Eugene is not so different from the debate in Ireland, Israel, Pakistan, Indonesia and other places near and far. At what point, if ever, is it morally justified to raise up a fist, a stone, a gun or launch a nuclear weapon? How abstract can a threat be and still justify acts of self-defense? Can political problems be solved by military means? Are anarchists any more inclined to violence or non-violence than the average Joe or Jane on the street? We can raise the level of this discussion in Eugene by dumping the personal attacks, stopping being offended so easily, and recognizing that we all share common intentions: peace, justice, freedom and equality.
The Ducks won it in front of 6,835 fans at McArthur Court on March 27, and they won it in style, on a last-second shot from tournament MVP Cathrine Kraayeveld.
That one trophy, however, comes with one caveat: It's for winning the Women's National Invitational Tournament. In the college basketball universe, the NCAA Tournament -- which the UO women didn't get into -- is the Big Dance. Which relegates the WNIT to haybarn hoedown status.
Try telling that to the Oregon team that mobbed midcourt after defeating Houston 54-52, though. The Ducks knocked off rivals Washington and Oregon State en route to the WNIT title. They also gained valuable postseason experience for next year's squad, as well as a satisfying conclusion to Bev Smith's first year as Oregon coach.
Winning 10 of their last 12 games, the Ducks earned a 22-13 record, five wins better than last season. They also gave the UO faithful an extended show, playing seven of their last games at Mac Court -- adding some extra ticket revenue to a program that seems to have a bright future.
And, of course, one big, shiny trophy. --Nate Puckett
REINING IN RANTS
Talk radio rants got your down? Fed up with the "proliferation of extreme right-wing mono-dimensional political discourse monopolizing national airwaves with simplistic mantras and relentless character assassination?" asks Eugene Democrat Gerry Rempel, capable of a good rant himself now and then.
Rempel reports that a resolution passed unanimously at the Democratic State Convention March 10 in Portland that calls for holding broadcasting stations and corporations accountable to fairness on political issues.
The Democrats are saying it's a myth that right-wing radio's 90 percent domination of talk-show time on commercial stations is market-driven. Instead, they say conservative station owners and advertisers are purposefully not giving the listening public balanced programming.
"Research with ratings services such as Arbitron contradict this (myth) in numerous instances," says Rempel. "Progressive talk-show hosts Sheila Hamilton of KPAM (fastest growing talk-show in the Portland area) and Jim Hightower (who was syndicated with ABC in Texas) were wildly popular before being pulled from the air."
The Democrats are calling for a reinstatement of the "Fairness Doctrine;" a federal requirement (abandoned in the Reagan administration) that broadcast stations leasing the public airwaves had to allow a certain amount of time for opposing views on political issues.
"This is a call to action for people sick of and alarmed by nationally syndicated propagandists such as Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage, Sean Henedy, Oliver North, Gordon Liddy, Michael Medved, etc., monopolizing our public airwaves," says Rempel.
The Democrats are urging "radio station owners and advertisers to restore a balanced discourse to the public air waves." They are also asking citizens to call radio station owners and demand a "fuller spectrum of political views on talk-radio shows as well as hosts that aren't all extreme right-wing propagandists." -- Ted Taylor
A controversial proposed housing development at the end of Wendover Street faces another hurdle at a Boundary Commission annexation hearing at 7 pm Thursday, April 4 in the City Council chambers. Written and oral testimony will be accepted.
Clearcutting and bulldozing on the property Feb. 11, reportedly without permits, led to a protest at the site and complaints about destruction of rare flora and fauna in the area. The lowlands on the site off River Road include riparian habitat.
"The forest is leveled and there is interest in annexing 9 1/2 acres and building 35 houses on land that was underwater in 1964," says Kevin Jones of the Seacon Park Neighborhood Association. "In the wake of the '64 flood, county officials told the flooded residents that houses wouldn't be allowed on lot 02247 because of it's bowl-like characteristics. Another dam was built and people have become over-confident again."
Jones says the Boundary Commission will hear neighbors' concerns about whether the parcel belongs in the city or with adjacent flooding farmland, and whether it was correct to include this piece of land with its productive class II soil in the Urban Growth Boundary.
"The neighbors would gladly sit down with the owners and pay a fair price to see this resolved," says Jones. -- Ted Taylor
The serious crime rate in Eugene dropped again last year, continuing a five-year trend.
Serious, Part I crime, (including homicide, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, theft and arson) dropped 4 percent last year. In the past 15 years, the serious crime rate has dropped 27 percent. -- Alan Pittman
Lane County Atlas
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"I was invited, but then uninvited," says Morton this week, "but I think we're making just a little too big a deal out of this." She says she was invited by Marshall Kirkpatrick to be a part of the panel, but then "as things emerged, he was able to get Michael Nagler and John Zerzan." Nagler, a well-known UC/Berkeley author and academic, is considered an expert on peace and politics and was promised a seat on the panel in lieu of a keynote address. Zerzan is a Eugene author known internationally for his anarchist philosophy. Morton says she's OK with the decision, but figures it would have been simpler to have just the two panelists in the short hour and 15 minutes available.
Houser's participation in the panel made it three men and zero women, causing a ruckus among feminists at the PIELC and complaints from anarchists that the panel was slanted two-to-one toward non-violence. "What a start we had," says Houser. "We tried to accommodate both concerns by shortening the time for Zerzan and myself and inviting a Eugene woman to speak for the anarchists. She declined."
In the end, Morton showed up at the session and spoke from the audience, Nagler got to speak at both the conference and at a Quaker meeting in town, and the debate over the role of violence in politics continues in earnest (see Viewpoint and Slant this week). --Ted Taylor
Union shop steward Dick Sitowski of local United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) 555 in Lane County has logged 625 hits so far on his new labor relations webpage and bulletin board. The address is www.angelfire.com/blues/ufcw
Sitowski says the bulletin board "gives workers a voice to vent some of the problems they are having with their employers, such as not allowing them out of their work stations in a timely manner to use the restroom, intimidation tactics by employers, working employees when they are sick with such things as influenza, etc."
The site also provides for sharing of information about the union's contract negotiations, which involve wages, seniority and health benefits. The union represents workers in several local grocery chains.
"Employers knowing that these issues are being shared in a public format will shine a light on corporate abuse," says Sitowski. "This alone could and has changed some former practices."
The city of Eugene is experimenting with composting on a massive scale. Last month, 24 tons of food scraps discarded from a UO dining hall, local restaurants, supermarkets and Foster Farms in Creswell were delivered to Rexius Forest By-Products. As part of a state grant, the city will monitor how well the waste composts and pathogen levels in the piles. In a similar earlier test, pathogen levels were reduced below federal thresholds. -- Alan Pittman
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A pap smear for the breast?
By Susan Glassow
In July of 1993, I found a breast lump that was diagnosed as malignant. Beginning in 1985, the year I turned 40, I'd had four mammograms as "prescribed" by my doctors. None had revealed my walnut-sized tumor.
Like most breast cancers, mine began in a milk duct and had been growing for six to ten years before it was palpable. Along with the surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy, I had to channel the anger and betrayal I felt: I'd done what I was told, and no one had told me that it wouldn't work. I wasn't alone.
Of the 40 women in my Sacred Heart Breast Cancer Support Group (half of whom have died), the majority of pre-menopausal women had not had their cancers detected by mammograms. So, we felt a sense of vindication and hope that new research for a "real test" would be funded when the National Cancer Institute's questioning of mammogram worth, particularly for women in the 40-49 age group, made front-page news.
But, the backlash was enormous and clever. Pink ribbon campaigns used the media, paid advertising and the fears of women themselves to keep the mammogram machines humming. They preyed on our need for any kind of talisman against the real possibility of being one of the 200,000 diagnosed with breast cancer every year and/or one of the 50,000 dying from it.
Last year, a Danish study insisted that mammograms did not reduce breast cancer deaths; in fact, neither mammograms nor clinical or self-breast exams had an advantage in reducing mortality. The P.D.Q., an independent committee of the National Institute of Health, agreed with its conclusions, saying that their own review showed seven large mammography studies with "serious flaws, weakening and casting doubt on their validity." (New York Times, 2/1/01).
If these were air bag studies, recalls would escalate. Instead, The Komen Foundation recently leased a local billboard promising: "JUST GET A MAMMOGRAM -- SAVE YOUR LIFE." And they're not the only participants in this deadly shell game: Zeneca, the originator of Breast Cancer Awareness month, is the manufacturer of carcinogenic petrochemicals and a breast cancer drug (Tamoxifen) that has been linked to different types of cancer in women. For documentation and discussion of this drug, see www.bcation.org
You won't find any "truly" good news on expensively purchased billboards or front pages (see Time 2/18), but it exists. Ductal lavage testing has just cleared clinical trails. Research on this was begun in the 1950s in the U.S, but only in the last decade has support and funding through breast cancer activist lobbying made available opportunities for consistent, conclusive study. The result: More than 70 medical centers in the U.S. offer the screening (none in Oregon).
Dr. Susan Love, acclaimed breast cancer surgeon and researcher whose The Breast Book, now in its third edition, helped multitudes of us, our families and friends negotiate the breast cancer matrix, has funded and continues to support research which focuses on the way that breast cancer begins in the milk ducts. Her breast cancer foundation is a non-profit entity that accepts donations for research and offers an excellent educational/medical/chatroom website, (www.susanlovemd.com), including a list of centers performing ductal lavage. On Jan. 15, I had the test at UCLA Revlon Breast Cancer Center.
Each breast has from two to four central milk ducts, with four to eight peripheral ones; imagine these ducts as rivers running back toward the chest wall, each connected to tributaries in its system, but not to any other system of rivers. In order to assess the ducts, the doctor must first "aspirate" fluid from the nipple, using a suction cup. If fluid comes from a duct, there is a greater likelihood that there could be atypical cells there. All of our lives, epithelial cells that line the ducts slough off, so the test literally "washes out" these cells by using a microscopic catheter to inject a saline solution into the duct system, then withdraw it along with these cells for microscopic examination.
I'm not an ideal candidate for the procedure because radiation scar tissue blocks access from the right breast nipple. Because of my age (56) and my chemotherapy induced postmenopausal condition, fluid could be aspirated from only one duct on the right breast.
The nipple was numbed, and the pain as the saline filled the ducts was less than mammogram pressure. It's a delicate procedure, as each duct is smaller than a vein. The aftereffect was an engorged breast, reminiscent of breastfeeding. It took a week for the ductal lavage and the blood chemistry work-ups to return. Dr. Nyguen called me explaining that unusual but apparently benign cell formations were worth watching. There is no cure for breast cancer, so it can reoccur at any time. I gave permission for my testing to go into the research bank for women whose mammograms didn't show cancer.
With only one duct open to testing, I'm not betting my life on this test, even if it is my best bet. But, I'm wondering: What if I had had it at 40 or 35 and the atypical, malignant cells that surely were present in my then pliable and accessible ducts had been discovered? What could I have done? I could have had follow-ups frequently and treatment as suggested by the growth rate of the cells.
I could have put my advocacy time and money even earlier into the links between persistent organic pollutants and hormonal changes, suggested in the 1960s by Rachel Carson's The Silent Spring and documented much more recently by Dr.Theo Colborn's 1996 Our Stolen Future: Are We Threatening Our Fertility, Intelligence, and Survival, and Sandra Steingraber's 1997 An Ecologist Looks at Cancer and the Environment.
No wonder Dr. Cohen caught my eye: "As long as cancer victims -- and indeed the general public -- are led to believe that their lifestyle or genes are the sole cause of cancer, there is no need for the various industries to undergo costly changes to production processes or product design."
Dr. Love understands that ductal research is the window into making the toxin-cancer links, "The ductal cells will help us study the relationship between environmental pollutants and breast cancer -- are pesticides present in larger concentrations in the fluid containing atypical cells; are there links between concentrations of estrogen in the fluid and cancer growth?" she writes.
So, what can we do?
-- Begin by demanding insurance companies change their guidelines by understanding that we do not cause our own cancer, that the majority of us diagnosed do not have a history of it in our families nor do we fit the purported "profile" widely discussed in women's magazines. I wouldn't have qualified for this test before my cancer diagnosis.
-- Take the fearful leap of refusing the array of estrogen-altering drugs that are offered as the "new technological" advances in the recent Time cover story. Nowhere in this feature does ductal lavage nor the role of the environment enter into the discussion, not even in the section that acknowledges that most cancer begins in the ducts.
-- Refuse to buy and wear pink ribbons, decline to walk or race "for the cure" until we've checked out the ways our money and our media images are being used. Read Barbara Ehrenreich's "Welcome to Cancerland," Harper's (11/01); talk about it with others.
-- Join advocacy groups -- there's a list of them on the Love site, powerful organizations working against the cancer industry machine and for researching causes of cancers of all kinds and, in doing this, beginning real walks and runs toward cures!
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Undercovered #19, the final chapter, for now.
By Kate Rogers Gessert
|The children of Afghanistan,
caught in the crossfire of a fundamentalist war, have faced starvation, death and
mutilation in the wake of the "War on Terror."
Since last fall I've been teaching U.S. civics to immigrants who are studying English. As we followed the war in Afghanistan in October, they kept asking what was happening to the people who lived there. Day after day, searching the pages of The Register-Guard, I realized I had no idea what was happening. So my first thanks are to my good-hearted students, who ask the right questions. Then thanks to Ted Taylor and Eugene Weekly! When I asked Ted if I could write Undercovered as a volunteer, gathering news about Afghan civilian casualties from the Internet, he found the space. Great thanks to Jo Ann Mazzarella, Ernie O'Byrne, and my husband, Max, for steady and inspired research for Undercovered. And thank you to many supportive people -- those in Afghanistan, Rome, New York, and Washington who supplied information and photographs, people everywhere who maintain great websites, and readers who tell me Undercovered helps them.
It's for this last group that I have assembled a do-it-yourself Undercovered, Internet sites rich in information and sometimes in inspiration. Although the R-G and other mainstream media now include more news about effects of the war on civilians, and Afghans have more of a voice than they did last fall, the Net is still the best way to get a clear picture of what is happening. This is by no means an exhaustive list, just sites I have read most often. It includes both website addresses and, often, what to do once you get to the site.
www.afghan-network.net Go to Afghan News Channel. www.myafghan.com/news Go to Archive, select dates to review news for past days or weeks. www.rawasongs.fancymarketing.net. Go to Recent Reports from Afghanistan, near the bottom of the home page. Go to Photos: Victims of U.S. strikes (including dead and mutilated children).
www.guardian.co.uk/afghanistan Excellent reporting on Afghanistan, with archives of the war on terrorism. www.independent.co.uk Search for Afghanistan, and you'll get this plus good related articles. Robert Fisk and Patrick Cockburn, two great reporters, write about Afghanistan. www.bbc.co.uk/news Search for Afghanistan. Go to After the Talaban, and to New Headlines from South Asia. These British sites are informative not only about Afghanistan but about the expanding U.S. war and how people in Europe view it, for example, "America's morality has been distorted by 11 September" by Robert Fisk (Independent 3/7).
www.irinnews.org Go to IRIN ASIA, then to Latest News for frequently updated articles from the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. www.fao.org U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization. Go to Press Releases, to Special Relief Operations, and to TELEFOOD: click dots on a world map to find start-up farming projects from Afghanistan to Madagascar. www.wfp.org U.N. World Food Program's inspiring and exhaustive efforts to feed people in Afghanistan and elsewhere. www.unicef.org/noteworthy/afghanistan Go to Stories from the Field and to Real Lives. www.interaction.org/afghanistan Directory and links to the numerous organizations working on Afghan relief. www.doctorswithoutborders.org Humanitarian news from Afghanistan and other countries. Go to Photos: Life in Afghan Refugee Camps. www.oxfam.org.uk Oxfam's British site. Photo essays: Afghanistan Unveiled, about life changes in Kabul. www.hrw.org Human Rights Watch: international monitoring of human rights, frequent reports about Afghanistan.
www.antiwar.com This invaluable site, organized with today's news on the homepage, includes links to articles and editorials in many newspapers. On the left edge of the page, you can choose other days and read the past week's news.
TO CIVIL RIGHTS
www.aclu.org/safeandfree Safe & Free articles are an important new section of the American Civil Liberties Union website.
www.counterpunch.org Hard-hitting articles selected by Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair, for example, "War on Terrorism for Dummies," by Bernard Weiner, 3/3. www.thenation.com Even if you subscribe to the print version of The Nation, this site includes great articles that appear only on the web. www.iht.com/opinion.htm International Herald Tribune has good editorial columnists including my all-time favorite, William Pfaff, often reprinted in the R-G. Also check out www.alternet.org www.commondreams.org and www.workingforchange.org
www.harpers.org Roger Hodge of Harper's Weekly assembles a weekly collage of world events, hilarious and awful. www.accuracy.org Concise e-mail bulletins from the Institute for Public Accuracy about key policy issues relating to peace, economic and social justice, and human rights.
As you collect information, I have two suggestions. I recommend letting your elected representatives know how you feel about what you are reading as often and as strongly as possible. I believe many of us are already doing this, and I hope with the passage of time, our representatives will listen. I also recommend sharing what you learn with your friends and family. It spreads the news and helps you deal with what is sad. By yourself, it is hard to absorb a lot of news from the Internet. Crying and talking can both help, I think.
This week on The Nation site I read "Prayer for America," an undercovered speech given in February by U.S. Congressman Dennis Kusinich. He enumerates the ways in which civil rights have been crippled since Sept. 11, describes the fearfulness in Washington that has helped create a cowed Congress, and protests the Bush administration's broadening of the war without congressional authorization.
Kusinich concludes: "Let us pray that we have the courage and the will as a people and as a nation to shore ourselves up, to reclaim from the ruins of Sept. 11th our democratic traditions ... Let us recommit ourselves to the slow and painstaking work of statecraft, which sees peace, not war, as being inevitable ...
"Let us pray that we have the courage to replace the images of death which haunt us, the layers of images of Sept. 11th, faded into images of patriotism, spliced into images of military mobilization ... the strobic flashes which touch our deepest fears. Let us replace those images with the work of human relations, reaching out to people ... with compassion and forbearance and a commitment to peace, to democracy, to economic justice here at home and throughout the world ..."
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"I'm a model of the success of early intervention," says autist Mary-Minn Sirag, who was sent off to her grandparents' Iowa farm at age 3. "I was severely autistic -- high-maintenance and violent. My grandmother gave me constant one-on-one attention." When Sirag rejoined her parents at age 7, she prospered in school. "I found academics easy," she notes. "I was the class brain, so I was accepted as eccentric." Sirag graduated from Cornell College in Iowa, worked corporate jobs in the San Franciso Bay Area during the '80s and moved to Eugene with her husband Saul-Paul Sirag in '91. In 2000, she discovered KindTree Productions (a.k.a. Autism Rocks -- a support group for autists) and attended its annual weekend retreat as a volunteer. She joined KindTree's Board of Directors, and recently became president. Sirag also found new work, mentoring teenagers and teaching art to developmentally disabled adults. "I'm a misfit refugee from the corporate world," she says. "I find this much more congenial." Catch musicians Spirit Farm, Rob Tobias, and Tim Mueller in a benefit concert for Autism Rocks at 8 pm Sunday, April 14 at Sam Bond's Garage. Learn more about Autism Rocks at www.kindtree.org
-- Photo by Paul Neevel
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