Environmental Health News

What's Working

  • Garden Mosaics projects promote science education while connecting young and old people as they work together in local gardens.
  • Hope Meadows is a planned inter-generational community containing foster and adoptive parents, children, and senior citizens
  • In August 2002, the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Board voted to ban soft drinks from all of the district’s schools

#862 -- The Bemidji Statement, 06-Jul-2006

.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Rachel's Democracy & Health News #862

"Environment, health, jobs and justice--Who gets to decide?"

Thursday, July 6, 2006..................Printer-friendly version
www.rachel.org -- To make a secure donation, click here.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Featured stories in this issue...

The Bemidji Statement on Seventh Generation Guardianship
  This important document is being published for the first time. The
  Bemidji Statement on Seventh Generation Guardianship was released July
  6 during the 14th Protecting Mother Earth Conference, convened by the
  Indigenous Environmental Network in Bemidji, Minnesota.
Cadmium Linked to Breast Cancer
  Cadmium is a rustproof metal, often used to coat steel. For
  decades it has been known to cause heart disease in humans. Now we
  learn it may also interfere with estrogen, the female hormone, and
  thus contribute to the epidemic of breast cancer.
Pesticides Linked to 70% Increased Risks for Parkinson's Disease
  A new study reconfirms earlier findings, that pesticide exposure is
  linked to Parkinson's disease.
Louisville, Kentucky Will Focus on Social Determinants of Health
  The health department of Louisville, Kentucky has set up a Center
  for Health Equity to focus on the social determinants of health such
  as a person's job, neighborhood, income and education, as well as
  personal responsibility. It will also examine the potential for
  discrimination in the delivery of health care and will seek solutions.
  The aim is to create programs that can be replicated in other cities.
Time for Progressives to Grow Up
  Francis Moore Lappe tells liberals to get real -- the radical right
  is playing by a new set of rules, they're playing hardball, and
  they're playing for keeps.
Military Omniscience
  On orders from the Commander in Chief, the U.S. military is gearing
  up to wage perpetual war on a faceless enemy using radical new weapons
  that will decide for themselves who to kill.

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

From: Rachel's Democracy & Health News #862, Jul. 6, 2006
[Printer-friendly version]

THE BEMIDJI STATEMENT ON SEVENTH GENERATION GUARDIANSHIP

The Bemidji Statement combines the ancient wisdom of the Haudenosaunee
(Iroquois) -- "The first mandate.... is to ensure that our decision-
making is guided by consideration of the welfare and well being of the
seventh generation to come." -- with the precautionary principle.

The Statement calls for new guardians and new guardian institutions to
protect the future of us all. The Statement evolved from a
conversation that began in Alaska in December 2005 between Alaska
Community Action on Toxics (ACAT), the Indigenous Environmental
Network (IEN), and the Science and Environmental Health Network
(SEHN).

Here is an introduction to the Bemidji Statement provided by the
Indigenous Environmental Network:

During the winter months of 2005-2006, several handfuls of people from
numerous places throughout North America came together at two
different locations to create The Bemidji Statement on Seventh
Generation Guardianship (Bemidji Statement). While much has been
written in the past about the Seventh Generation Principle, the
Bemidji Statement is different in a couple of ways. First, it
accommodates some elements from the protection of the Commons and
the Precautionary Principle. Second, it goes beyond most other
principles by explicitly assigning guardianship and responsibility for
protecting the Seventh Generation of humanity that is yet to be born.
But equally important, it assigns the same guardianship and
responsibility to the current generations to protect and restore the
intricate web of life that sustains us all, for the Seventh Generation
to come.

The Statement is written with the intent of being able to adopt it at
all levels of our society. It is also written to change the way we
think about our future. From the family unit, through community, and
institutions on community, the Statement can be adopted and applied.
It is intended for individuals or small groups of individuals to take
guardianship responsibility for one piece of the web of life and
protect or restore that one piece for this and future generations.
Examples of these web pieces could be as broad as the water or the
birds or as specific as a certain pond or a certain type of fish. A
family may choose to assume guardianship for the area immediately
their home, a community may watch over a much larger area, a
government or institution may stand guard over all within their
jurisdiction. The important thing is that guardians who assume this
responsibility learn everything they can about that which they have
chosen, they assess and monitor the chosen piece of the web of life,
restore it when necessary, and report the status of their
responsibilities to other guardians.

From the smallest unit of society to the largest unit of government,
we can protect, enhance, and restore the inheritance of the Seventh
Generation to come. Consider becoming a Guardian in your community.
[End of introduction.]

THE BEMIDJI STATEMENT ON SEVENTH GENERATION GUARDIANSHIP

*******

"The first mandate.... is to ensure that our decision-making is guided
by consideration of the welfare and well being of the seventh
generation to come."

*******

Indigenous Peoples have learned over thousands of years to live in
harmony with the land and the waters. It is our intent to survive and
thrive on this planet for this and many generations to come. This
survival depends on a living web of relationships in our communities
and lands, among humans, and others. The many Indigenous Peoples and
cultures from throughout the world are threatened by the disruption of
these relationships.

The exploitation and industrialization of the land and water have
altered the relationships that have sustained our Indigenous
communities. These changes have accelerated in recent years. We are
now experiencing the consequences of these actions with increased
cancer and asthma rates, suicides, and reproductive disorders in
humans, as well as increased hardships of hunting and of whaling.
Places that we hold to be sacred have been repeatedly disturbed and
destroyed. In animals and in nature we see changing migratory
patterns, diseased fish, climate change, extinction of species, and
much more.

Government agencies and others in charge of protecting the
relationships between our people, the land, air, and water have
repeatedly broken treaties and promises. In doing so, they have failed
in their duty to uphold the tribal and the public trust. The many
changes in these relationships have been well documented, but science
remains inadequate for fully understanding their origins and essence.
This scientific uncertainty has been misused to carry out economic,
cultural, and political exploitation of the land and resources.
Failure to recognize the complexity of these relationships will
further impair the future health of our people and function of the
environment.

We value our culture, knowledge, and skills. They are valuable and
irreplaceable assets to all of humanity, and help to safe guard the
world. The health and well being of our grandchildren are worth more
than all the wealth that can be taken from these lands.

By returning to the collective empowerment and decision making that is
part of our history, we are able to envision a future that will
restore and protect the inheritance of this, and future generations.
Therefore, we will designate Guardians for the Seventh Generation.

*******

Who guards this web of life that nurtures and sustains us all?

Who watches out for the land, the sky, the fire, and the water?

Who watches out for our relatives that swim, fly, walk, or crawl?

Who watches out for the plants that are rooted in our Mother Earth?

Who watches out for the life-giving spirits that reside in the
underworld?

Who tends the languages of the people and the land?

Who tends the children and the families?

Who tends the peacekeepers in our communities?

*******

We tend the relationships.

We work to prevent harm.

We create the conditions for health and wholeness.

We teach the culture and we tell the stories.

We have the sacred right and obligation to protect the common wealth
of our lands and the common health of our people and all our relations
for this generation and seven generations to come. We are the
Guardians for the Seventh Generation.

*******

"As guardians of the wards over which they were appointed, the
manitous [spirits] could withhold from hunters permission or
opportunity to kill." --Basil Johnston, The Manitous

====================================================

Contacts:

Shawna Larson, Environmental Justice Coordinator, IEN/Alaska Community
Action on Toxics, Anchorage, AK 99503 USA, Tel: 907.222.1714, Email:
shawna@akaction.org, Web: www.akaction.org and
www.ienearth.org/toxins_enviro_health.html

Bob Shimek, Mining Campaign Organizer, Indigenous Environmental
Network, PO Box 485, Bemidji, Minnesota 56619 USA, Tel: 218.751.4867,
Email: ienmining@igc.org Web: www.ienearth.org

Return to Table of Contents

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

From: Reuters Health, Jun. 22, 2006
[Printer-friendly version]

CADMIUM LINKED TO BREAST CANCER

By Anthony J. Brown, MD

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) -- Women with the highest levels of cadmium
in their urine have more than a two-fold higher risk of breast cancer
than women with the lowest levels, according to a new study.
However, further studies are needed to determine if these elevated
levels are a cause or effect of breast cancer.

Although cadmium, a heavy metal, has been classified as a probable
cancer-causing substance by the US Environmental Protection Agency,
until now no human studies have investigated its link with breast
cancer, Dr. Jane A. McElroy told Reuters Health.

The findings from "animal studies have supported an association, and
cadmium has been found in breast tissue," noted the researcher, from
the University of Wisconsin Comprehensive Cancer Center in Madison.

McElroy and her team compared urinary levels of cadmium in 246 breast
cancer patients and in 254 age-matched controls. The subjects were
contacted by telephone to determine the presence of known breast
cancer risk factors.

In the study, reported in the Journal of the National Cancer
Institute, women with cadmium levels above a certain cut-off were
2.29-times more likely to have breast cancer than those with lower
levels. This held true after accounting for established risk factors.

Exactly how cadmium might cause breast cancer is unclear, but there is
evidence that it mimics the effects of estrogen. "It actually competes
with estrogen for the alpha receptor site," McElroy said.

McElroy believes that if the current findings are replicated in a
larger study and cadmium's role is confirmed, it could lead to tighter
restrictions on how the heavy metal is disposed of in the environment.

SOURCE: Journal of the National Cancer Institute, June 21, 2006.

Copyright Reuters 2006

Return to Table of Contents

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

From: HealthDay News, Jun. 26, 2006
[Printer-friendly version]

PESTICIDES LINKED TO 70% INCREASED RISKS FOR PARKINSON'S DISEASE

Type and duration of exposure needed isn't yet clear, researchers say

By Alan Mozes

Exposure to pesticides, but not other environmental contaminants, may
boost the long-term risk for developing Parkinson's disease by 70%, a
new study suggests.

The researchers did not assess the length, frequency, or strength of
pesticide exposure, and they stressed that the absolute risk of
developing Parkinson's remains relatively small.

However, their finding does back up earlier animal studies linking
pesticide exposure to motor function abnormalities and lower levels of
the brain neurotransmitter dopamine. Declines in dopamine have long
been associated with Parkinson's.

"This is the first large human study that shows that exposure to
pesticide is associated with a higher incidence of Parkinson's," said
study lead author Dr. Alberto Ascherio, associate professor of
nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health in
Boston.

"It is, of course, a relative increase," emphasized Ascherio. "So,
whereas normally the lifetime risk for developing Parkinson's is three
percent, pesticide exposure will bring the risk to five percent."

Ascherio and his colleagues discussed their work in the July issue of
the Annals of Neurology.

The authors reviewed lifestyle surveys completed in both 1982 and in
2001 by over 143,000 participants in the U.S. "Cancer Prevention Study
II Nutrition Cohort," launched in 1982.

In addition to pesticide exposure, participants were asked about
exposure to a host of chemicals and dusts, such as: asbestos, acids,
solvents, coal and stone dust, coal tar, asphalt, diesel engine
exhaust, dyes, formaldehyde, gasoline exhaust, herbicides, textile
fibers, wood dust, and x-ray or radioactive materials. Nearly all the
patients were white, with an average age just of over 60.

In total, 413 participants went on to develop Parkinson's disease.

The surveys revealed that just over eight percent of the men and just
over three percent of the women reported exposure to pesticides.

Exposed patients were twice as likely to be blue-collar workers and 14
times more likely to work as either a farmer, rancher, or fisherman.

However, no differences were found in terms of risk increase between
patients who experienced exposure because of their work, such as
farmers, and those who came into contact with the chemicals because of
home or garden use.

The Harvard team found that, regardless of occupation, pesticide
exposure boosted long-term Parkinson's risk by 70% over the long-term.

Ascherio stressed that although the association found in his study was
stronger than any previously documented, more work is needed to
pinpoint what exactly it is about pesticides that may help spur
Parkinson's.

"The key point would be to identify which chemicals cause
Parkinson's," he said. "It's not very practical to tell people to
avoid pesticides, because many people find it very useful. So this
will require more detailed study," he added.

Robin Elliot, executive director for the Parkinson's Disease
Foundation in New York City, described the findings as "important and
solid."

"This is certainly the biggest and most serious populations study on
people, and it appears to be the best proof today that there is a
general association between pesticide and Parkinson's among people,"
said Elliot. "It merits further investigation," he said.

In a separate smaller study, published in the June issue of Movement
Disorders, a team of researchers from the Mayo Clinic in Olmsted
County, Minnesota, found that pesticide exposure seemed to increase
Parkinson's risk for men, but not women.

Telephone interviews were conducted with 149 men and women, all local-
area Parkinson's patients who developed the illness between 1976 and
1995. The Mayo team also interviewed 129 healthy individuals.

They found that male patients were 2.4 times more likely than healthy
individuals to have been exposed to pesticides. No such increased risk
was evident among the female patients.

Return to Table of Contents

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

From: Louisville (Ky.) Courier-Journal, Jun. 29, 2006
[Printer-friendly version]

FACING CITY'S HEALTH INEQUITIES

By Adewale Troutman**

Special to The Courier-Journal

When babies in some racial and ethnic groups are dying twice as often
as those in other groups, when there are more than 83,000 excess
deaths per year among certain groups, and when death rates for members
of some groups are nearly 30 percent higher than for members of other
groups -- then you know you have a problem in your society.

These statistics do not refer to health inequities that exist in some
far, distant developing nation, but in our own United States and in
our own hometown of Louisville.

Despite progress in civil rights, housing and education since 1960,
the health gap between black and white Americans has remained constant
over the past 45 years and has actually gotten worse for some
categories.

In 1960, for example, the African-American infant mortality rate (the
rate at which babies die before their first birthday) stood about 1.5
times higher than the white infant mortality rate. By 2000, the infant
mortality rate among African Americans was more than double that of
whites. While infant mortality fell for both groups, it fell
proportionately further for white than for African-American babies.
Similarly in 1960, deaths for African-American men were 1.37 times
higher than they were for white men. By 2000, this gap had increased
to 1.48 times higher.

Louisville mirrors these national trends. Heart disease death rates
were 37 percent higher in 2003 for black residents of Louisville than
they were for white residents. The percentage of diabetes in 2004 was
43 percent higher for black residents. The overall mortality rate in
Louisville in 2003 was 30 percent higher for black residents than for
white residents.

Data collected since 1985 also point to similar disparities between
other communities of color such as Latinos and the rest of the
American population. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services,
for example, reports that Latinos are twice as likely to die from
diabetes.

To begin to close the health gap, Mayor Jerry Abramson and the
Louisville Metro Health Department are establishing the Center for
Health Equity. Located in historic Hampton House, the center will set
up best practices models that can be replicated in other cities
throughout America. The Center for Health Equity will focus on the
social determinants of health such as a person's job, neighborhood,
income and education, as well as personal responsibility. It will also
examine the potential for discrimination in the delivery of health
care and seek solutions.

The center will partner with the University of Louisville School of
Public Health and Information Sciences and other institutions to
continue to research the causes of health inequities to develop
creative and innovative solutions to this tragedy.

One of the first projects of the Center for Health Equity will be the
Tommie Smith Track Club youth initiative. Olympic gold medalist Tommie
Smith was in Louisville in February to help us begin organizing the
clubs. Working with a broad range of community partners, the Center
for Health Equity is establishing 10 to 15 track clubs for elementary
and middle school children. The clubs are designed so that children of
all ability levels can be successful. The Louisville clubs will
include instruction on nutrition, attention to self esteem, and the
importance of education, as well as fitness assessments by the Health
Promotion Schools of Excellence.

The Center for Health Equity will address the high rates of heart
disease and diabetes in communities of color here in Metro Louisville.
It will also seek to impact high rates of HIV/AIDS and violence among
African Americans and Latinos.

The Center for Health Equity will not be limited to dealing with
African Americans. The Latino population in Louisville has more than
doubled in the past 10 years. The center will deal with the health
issues of this growing segment of our community. It will also confront
health issues faced by other emerging populations in our city as well
as those faced by lower income populations of all races and ethnic
groups.

The Center for Health Equity will benefit the entire Louisville
community. Bringing about equity in health means that we recognize
that health is a right and that it is connected to a wide range of
social and structural factors, all of which must be addressed to
secure that right. We all win when our city becomes a healthier, safer
and more livable place.

**Adewale Troutman, M.D., M.P.H., M.A., is director of health for
Louisville Metro.

Return to Table of Contents

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

From: Guerrilla News Network, May 26, 2005
[Printer-friendly version]

TIME FOR PROGRESSIVES TO GROW UP

Beyond Lakoff's Strict Father vs. Nurturant Parent, A Strong Community
Manifesto

By Frances Moore Lappe

George Lakoff's new best-seller Don't Think of an Elephant has been
heralded as the "bible" for battered progressives searching for
direction in the post-election doldrums. Lakoff himself has become the
Left's answer to Frank Luntz, the focus-group genius behind the
branding of Bush's "death tax," "Clear Skies" and "Healthy Forests"
initiatives.

"Frames," according to Lakoff, are the key to understanding how
political ideas are received. Human beings don't absorb information as
raw material; we sift input through frames of meaning carried in the
language we use.

Lakoff's central idea is that conservatives see the world through a
"strict father" frame emphasizing discipline, self-reliance, forceful
defense, while progressives see the world through a "nurturant parent"
frame -- supportive, nourishing, emphasizing mutual responsibility.
Lakoff claims that thirty-five to 40 percent of Americans fall into
each camp, although most are some sort of mix.

The Right, Lakoff points out, is extremely good at selling their
policies in clear, easy to understand "strict father" frames.
Progressives, on the other hand, too often seem to offer laundry lists
of issues lacking any overarching moral framework.

So, it's easy to see why progressives are rallying around Lakoff's
call to arms. Since polls show majorities actually agree with the
progressive agenda on many key issues, including corporate power, the
environment and abortion, focusing on "framing" issues in ways that
Americans can understand them seems like the answer they've been
praying for. Certainly, much of Lakoff's advice about communicating
progressive ideas is powerfully insightful and right on target.

But two big dangers loom.

First: Too narrowly focusing on getting the frame right might delude
progressives into believing that's all they need to win, since we all
share a common, democratic playing field.

No. The radical Right plays by different rules. In this, David Brock's
book Blinded by the Right was my wake-up call. Because Brock was not
so long ago a radical right-wing insider himself, his experiences
inside this mean-spirited, ends-justify-means mindset of this group is
-- chillingly and convincing. He depicts people willing go to any
lengths, including lying (as did Brock himself in his character
assassination of Anita Hill) in order to vanquish enemies. (See his
new book: The Republican Noise Machine)

In 2000, leading Republican Congressman, Majority Whip Tom DeLay
distributed a pamphlet to all his Republican colleagues entitled The
Art of Political War: How Republicans Can Fight to Win. Its author
David Horowitz writes, "Politics is war conducted by other means. In
political warfare you do not fight just to prevail in an argument, but
to destroy the enemy's fighting ability... In political wars, the
aggressor usually prevails." (Read more in Banana Republicans.)

On his final episode of Now, Bill Moyers spoke with Richard Viguerie,
a founding father of the modern conservative movement and author of
America's Right Turn: How Conservatives Used New and Alternative Media
to Take Power. Viguerie couldn't have described the Right's
Machiavellian outlook more succinctly, speaking about the vicious pre-
election attacks on Kerry:

"I just wish he [Bush] could have done a little bit more [against
Kerry]. I thought it was just great. And we're not gonna play, Bill,
by the liberal establishment's rules. They say, 'This is acceptable
and this is not acceptable.' Those days are gone and gone forever."

I got my own taste of Viguerie's anything-goes world, where the facts
are irrelevant and, as he told Moyers, all journalism "is opinion."
Campaigning in late October for Lois Murphy, who challenged incumbent
Republican Congressman Jim Gerlach in Pennsylvania's 6th district, I
experienced the power of a lie. Gerlach campaign telephone message ads
linked Murphy to the Taliban (MoveOn supports her, MoveOn "supports"
the Taliban, ergo Murphy = Taliban-lover). Who would swallow that, I
thought, especially since Murphy is a feminist? But...it worked. "Are
you with the Taliban lady?" said a potential voter when I approached
his door. He threatened to set his dog on me.

Most Americans would be appalled -- if they knew: There's no evidence
the majority of Americans approve this ends-justify-means, destroy-
the-enemy approach.

So here's one point progressives might want to savor as they think
about frames: A broad swath of the American people may share the
"strict father" frame just enough to be vulnerable to manipulation;
but this does not mean Americans broadly, deeply share the worldview
of those in power. The Left must get much better, not just at placing
its issues in a compelling moral frame, but at exposing and holding
the radical Right accountable for its lies and deception -- without,
and here is the tricky part, making those who have been manipulated
feel ridiculed and put down.

Time to grow up

Second, the frame Lakoff identifies with progressives -- "nurturant
parent" -- itself needs critical thought.

Nurturant parent -- what could be worse for progressives?

They're already stereotyped as coddlers of the lazy poor; dubbed
"bleeding hearts" who refuse to require people to take responsibility
for themselves. A nurturant parent framing may confirm the caricature.
Lakoff is careful to distinguish his parent model from "mother," but I
fear it is too easily received as a soft mother alternative to strict
father.

The question few seem to be asking is: Are "strict father" (Right)
versus "nurturant parent" (Left) our only choices, or can we move
beyond the nuclear family metaphors?

If the Left is indeed stuck with nuclear-family metaphors, they're
seriously out of luck; in scary times like these "strong father" will
win out over what is seen as "soft mother" every time. Thankfully, the
narrow, Western psychoanalytic, nuclear-family frame itself is
becoming dated.

Maybe we're entering a new stage that has much in common with eras
before the invention of the nuclear family. Maybe, in many respects,
we're moving beyond hierarchy, which any parent-centered frame
necessarily must be. Big shifts are underway:

First, the communications-technology revolution is allowing us to
experience one planet. Billions of us can now see and converse with
people on other continents. We experience the events of 9/11, our
fellow humans starving in Darfur, and the battles in Iraqi streets in
real time.

Second, the ecological revolution is infusing our consciousness with
an awareness of our interrelatedness far wider than our immediate
family. Ecology teaches us that there is no single action, isolated
and contained; all actions have ripples -- not just ripples up through
systems in hierarchical flows, but out through webs of connectedness
in what we might think of as lateral flows. Ecology teaches us that
the world is co-created through complex networks of relationships, no
one of which is dominant.

These revolutions are unconsciously but profoundly reshaping human
identity -- the definition of self-interest and our place in the
world. We're realizing that we exist in community with each other and
the world. We therefore share needs, interests, and experience with
many communities far beyond our immediate families.

Third is the "revolution in human dignity." We've lived so long under
the spell of hierarchy -- from god-kings to feudal lords to party
bosses -- that only recently have we awakened to see not only that
"regular" citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that
without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed.
The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone
thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is
if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of
solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big,
interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
Besides, few of us -- unless we're scared into it -- are prepared
simply to take orders.

With "regular people" stepping up as public problem-solvers on every
continent and on so many levels, it's hard to identify this change for
the revolution it is. Some measure it in the explosive growth of
citizen organizations, now totaling two million in the U.S. alone. In
just one decade, the '90s, they jumped 60 percent. And they're being
noticed: more national governments, global corporations, as well as
the U.N., are inviting citizen representatives to the table.

This growing appreciation of the power of each one of us also means
students gaining a role in mediating their own disputes and in school
governance; work teams spreading in factories; citizen boards in major
municipalities now making significant budget choices from Sao Paulo to
St. Paul; and patients increasingly enlisted in their own healing
practice. Everywhere, citizens themselves are involved in decisions
affecting their futures, the better the outcomes for all.

A desire to break with parentism in favor of fellowship and a hunger
for healthy, strong community is not a progressive's pipedream. It is
palpable. It is everywhere. Three far-flung illustrations come quickly
to mind.

The open source revolution

Consider the revolution underway in computer software: the widening
embrace of Linux -- an open source operating system -- and nascent
rejection of Microsoft, with its top-down control of 90 percent of the
world's software market. Recently Munich, Germany, decided to convert
14,000 government computers to the Linux system despite the personal
intervention of Microsoft's chief executive. Founder of the open
software movement that created Linux, Richard Stallman, said this
about why he left the proprietary, exclusive, top-down control
software world: In that world, "the first step in using a computer was
to promise not to help your neighbor. A cooperating community was
forbidden. The rule made by the owners of proprietary software was,
'If you share with your neighbor, you are a pirate.'"

Stallman considered this approach immoral. So he created the opposite
software rules and culture: one that encourages mutual help and mutual
learning. And it's catching on. And now the business pages are
fretting about Microsoft's future.

Or turn to another, land-not-cyber-based, expression of community: The
community-food-security movement (See localharvest.org) springing up
from Brooklyn to Iowa City, from Oakland to Burlington. Farmers'
markets, community-support-agriculture, school gardens, buy-local
campaigns, restaurant-farmer alliances, fair trade purchasing -- all
reflect a sense of strength through interdependence and face-to-face
relationships. They emphasize self-responsibility in community and are
rejections of top-down, centralized solutions.

And here in Boston, local Catholics are upset that several parishes
are closing, sunk by the huge cost of sex-abuse scandals. Some
parishioners are "sitting in" in their own churches to protest.
Refusing to leave in what they call "24-hour vigils," these Catholics
have said "no" to their priests and bishops. They are saying that
their parishes are their communities -- and are as essential to their
happiness and well being as are their nuclear families. Such renegade
communities are now forming an association in the Boston area.

In a sense, these parishioners are rejecting the strict father in
favor of community. (Just as soldiers in Iraq recently publicly
challenged Rumsfeld while their "community" cheered.) "Support is
growing," one parishioner said on the radio recently. "People are
slipping money under the door to keep us going." And the result? Our
area bishop declared that two of the parishes slated to close would
instead remain open.

New metaphors, new "frames," are called for to capture these profound
changes in ways of seeing ourselves and our world.

We need to ask: What frames best embrace the growing appreciation that
human beings are going beyond one-directional communication, moving
from "one-to-many" directives toward "many-to-many" multi-logues? What
frame suggests mutuality -- mutual responsibility, cooperation,
teamwork, dialogue, synergy, inter-connectedness, and the co-creation
of meaning?

Any parent frame fails the test; it is inevitably one-directional, and
hierarchical. So let's bury the family metaphor and search for a more
robust frame -- one that suggests communities that work for all
because they are connected, responsible, compassionate and therefore
strong.

When Lakoff expands on his nurturant parent frame, he also notes that
"the basic progressive vision is of community -- of America as family,
a caring responsible family." He includes "mutual responsibility" and
"community-building" as central pieces of an effective progressive
framing, suggesting he, too, chaffs within the limits of the nuclear
family metaphor. And his examples of progressive reframing are more
embedded in a community than a nurturant parent metaphor: such as the
progressive rationale for taxes being "membership dues" contributed in
order to reap the benefits of a community to replace the Right's
message of taxes as an affliction for which they offer "tax relief."
Here his progressive frame is about mutuality, not nurturing.

A New Frame: Strong Communities

In times of war, when fear is being consciously stoked to keep a
populace in "freeze" mode, the Right's strict father frame carries
strong appeal. Fearful creatures duck for cover. We try to cast out
those who might rock the boat. Frightened, we look for a strong
protector. And this is precisely why progressives must not fall back
on nurturing themes. In addition to holding the radical Right
accountable for its mean-spirited, anti-democratic outrages, as
mentioned above, we must get tough in at least two other ways.

First, we must more effectively show just how our security is
threatened, not secured, by today's strict-father "protectors." We can
show how dreadfully ill-prepared to defend ourselves we are when anti-
government ideology has its hold on Washington, leading to under-
funding our "first responders"; to 15,000 highly vulnerable private
chemical plants in charge of their own security; and to health care
dependent on giant drug companies.

Progressives can also show that society is weak and vulnerable when we
are divided, rich against poor, white against Black, Evangelicals
against other faiths. Americans intuitively know that divisions weaken
us; it's one reason we've responded throughout our history to calls
for basic fairness, such as the Civil Rights movement.

Second, in a positive vein, progressives can show that the more
engaged and just a community, the stronger and safer we all are. The
more we know that we can count on our neighbors, our schools, our
health care providers -- because we know them and because they are
adequately funded -- the safer we feel. Immediately after 9/11, a
public health expert pointed out an obvious link between fairness and
community safety. With over 40 million people lacking health
insurance, if there were an act of biological warfare against us, an
infectious agent could spread swiftly, he pointed out. For how could
it be contained if millions of uninsured delayed seeking medical
attention? Obviously a case in which unfairness -- the fact that so
many can't afford insurance -- threatens everyone's safety.

A "strong communities" frame might require progressives to stop, for
example, talking about the "environment," which non-progressives can
hear as a "soft" distraction in war time, and frame ecological
challenges as threats "to safe air and water and food." We might stop
talking about poverty, and alleviating it, which evokes images of do-
gooders, and talk about "fair-chance communities." Stop talking about
reforming criminal justice and talk about results-based crime
prevention.

Let's salute George Lakoff and his colleagues for rallying
progressives to frame our "issues" in a compelling moral vision. But
rather than reacting to the "strict father" frame by searching for a
better use of a "nurturing parent" frame, let's reframe the entire
conversation to one that begins with a definition of citizens as
responsible grown-ups, not helpless children. In this progressive
moral vision we strive to live in strong communities -- safer and more
viable than ones that rely on a strict father, who on deeper
examination may turn out to be only a stubborn loner, a bully bringing
on the very threats from which he claims to protect us?

Let's choose frames that capture what most people intuit: We all share
one small -- shrinking -- planet, and our real hope therefore lies in
creating strong communities.

==============

Frances Moore Lappe is the author or co-author of 14 books, most
recently You Have the Power: Choosing Courage in a Culture of Fear
(Tarcher/Penguin 2004). Her books are widely used in college courses
and have been translated into over a dozen languages. She's now at
work on a book about taking democracy to its next historical stage -
democracy as a living practice that embraces economic and social as
well as political life.

Return to Table of Contents

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

From: New Statesman, Jun. 12, 2006
[Printer-friendly version]

AMERICA'S ROBOT ARMY

By Stephen Graham

Already there are killing machines operating by remote control. Soon
the machines will be able to kill on their own initiative. A new
warfare is on its way. War is about to change, in terrifying ways.
America's next wars, the ones the Pentagon is now planning, will be
nothing like the conflicts that have gone before them.
In just a few years, U.S. forces will be able to deal out death, not
at the squeeze of a trigger or even the push of a button, but with no
human intervention whatsoever.

Many fighting soldiers -- those GIs in tin hats who are dying two a
day in Iraq -- will be replaced by machines backed up by surveillance
technology so penetrating and pervasive that it is referred to as
"military omniscience." Any Americans involved will be less likely to
carry rifles than PlayStation-style consoles and monitors that display
simulated streetscapes of the kind familiar to players of Grand Theft
Auto -- and they may be miles from where the killing takes place.

War will progressively cease to be the foggy, confusing, equalising
business it has been for centuries, in which the risks are always
high, everyone faces danger and suffers loss, and the few can humble
the mighty. Instead, it will become remote, semi-automatic and all-
knowing, entailing less and less risk to American lives and taking
place largely out of the sight of news cameras. And the danger is
close to home: the coming wars will be the "war on terror" by other
names, conflicts that know no frontiers. The remote-controlled war
coming tomorrow to Khartoum or Mogadishu, in other words, can happen
soon afterwards, albeit in moderated form, in London or Lyons.

This is no geeky fantasy. Much of the hardware and software already
exists and the race to produce the rest is on such a scale that U.S.
officials are calling it the "new Manhattan Project." Hundreds of
research projects are under way at American universities and defence
companies, backed by billions of dollars, and Donald Rumsfeld's
department of defence is determined to deliver as soon as possible.

The momentum is coming not only from the relentless humiliation of
U.S. forces at the hands of some determined insurgents on the streets
of Baghdad, but also from a realisation in Washington that this is the
shape of things to come. Future wars, they believe, will be fought in
the dirty, mazy streets of big cities in the "global south," and if
the U.S. is to prevail it needs radically new strategies and
equipment.

Only fragments of this story have so far appeared in the mainstream
media, but enough information is available on the internet, from the
comments of those in charge and in the specialist press to leave no
room for doubt about how sweeping it is, how dangerous and how
imminent. Military omniscience is the starting point. Three months
ago, Tony Tether, director of the Defence Advanced Research Projects
Agency (D.A.R.P.A.), the Pentagon's research arm, described to a U.S.
Senate committee the frustration felt by officers in Iraq after a
mortar-bomb attack. A camera in a drone, or unmanned aircraft,
spotted the attackers fleeing and helped direct U.S. helicopters to
the scene to destroy their car -- but not before some of those inside
had got out. "We had to decide whether to follow those individuals or
the car," he said, "because we simply didn't have enough coverage
available." So some of the insurgents escaped. Tether drew this
moral: "We need a network, or web, of sensors to better map a city and
the activities in it, including inside buildings, to sort adversaries
and their equipment from civilians and their equipment, including in
crowds, and to spot snipers, suicide bombers, or IEDs [improvised
explosive devices]... This is not just a matter of more and better
sensors, but, just as important, the systems needed to make actionable
intelligence out of all the data."

Darpa has a host of projects working to meet those needs, often in
surprising ways. One, called Combat Zones That See, aims to scatter
across cities thousands of tiny CCTV cameras, each equipped with
wireless communication software that will make it possible to link
their data and track the movements of every vehicle on the streets.
The cameras themselves will not be that different from those found in
modern mobile phones.

Seeing Through Concrete

Already in existence are sensors the size of matchboxes which respond
to heat, light, movement or sound; and a variety of programmes,
including one called Smart Dust, are working on further miniaturising
these and improving their ability to work as networks. A dozen U.S.
university teams are also developing micro-aircraft, weighing a few
grams each, that imitate birds and insects and could carry sensor
equipment into specific buildings or rooms.

D.A.R.P.A.'s VisiBuilding programme, meanwhile, is making "X-ray eye"
sensors that can see through concrete, locating people and weapons
inside buildings. And Human I.D. at a Distance is working on software
that can identify individual people from scans of their faces, their
manner of walking or even their smell, and then track them anywhere
they go.

Closely related to this drive are projects involving computer
simulations of urban landscapes and entire cities, which will provide
backdrops essential for using the data gathered by cameras and
sensors. The biggest is Urban Resolve, a simulated war against a
full-scale insurgency in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, in the year
2015.

Digitised Cities

Eight square miles of Jakarta have been digitised and simulated in
three dimensions. That will not surprise computer gamers, but Urban
Resolve goes much further: the detail extends to the interiors of 1.6
million buildings and even the cellars and sewers beneath, and it also
includes no fewer than 109,000 moving vehicles and people. Even the
daily rhythms of the city have been simulated. The roads, says one
commentator, "are quiet at night, but during weekday rush hours they
become clogged with traffic. People go to work, take lunch breaks and
visit restaurants, banks, and churches."

Digitise any target city and integrate this with the flow of data from
many thousands of sensors and cameras, stationary and mobile, and you
have something far more powerful than the regular snapshots today's
satellites can deliver. You have continuous coverage, around corners
and through walls. You would never, for example, lose those mortar
bombers who got out of their car and ran away.

All this brings omniscience within reach. The US web-based magazine
"DefenseWatch," which monitors developments in strategy and hardware,
recently imagined the near-future scenario of an operation in the
developing world in which a cloud of minute, networked sensors is
scattered like dust over a target city using powerful fans. Directed
by the sensors, unmanned drones patrol the city, building up a visual
and audio picture of every street and building. "Every hostile person
has been identified and located," continues the scenario. "From this
point on, nobody in the city moves without the full and complete
knowledge of the mobile tactical centre."

Another Darpa project, Integrated Sensor is Structure, is working on
the apex of such a system: huge, unmanned communications and
surveillance airships that will loiter above target areas at an
altitude of 70,000 feet -- far above most airline traffic -- providing
continuous and detailed coverage over a whole city for a year or more.

From these platforms, all the information could be fed down in real
time to soldiers and commanders carrying the hand-held computers being
developed by the Northrop Grumman Corporation with Darpa funding. The
real aim, however, is not to expose flesh-and-blood Americans on the
ground, but where possible to use robots. That way there will be no
"body bag problem"; and in any case machines are better equipped than
human beings to process and make use of the vast quantities of data
involved.

In one sense, robots are not new: already, armed drones such as
Predator, piloted" by C.I.A. operators from screens in Florida, have
been responsible for at least 80 assassination raids in Iraq,
Afghanistan, Yemen, and Pakistan (killing many civilians as well).
Defence contractors have also developed ground-based vehicles capable
of carrying cameras and weapons into the battlefield.

But this is only the start. What will make the next generation
different is that they are being designed so that they can choose, all
on their own, the targets they will attack. Operating in the air and
on the ground, they are being equipped with Automated Target
Recognition software capable not only of comparing signals received
from new-generation sensors with databases of targets, but also of
"deciding" to fire guns or launch missiles automatically once there is
a good "fit." Automated killing of this kind hasn't been approved by
anyone yet, but it is certainly being planned. John Tirpak, editor of
Air Force Magazine in the U.S., expects initially that humans will
retain the last word, but he predicts that once robots "establish a
track record of reliability in finding the right targets and employing
weapons properly," the "machines will be trusted to do even that".

Planners believe, moreover, that robot warriors have a doomsday power.
Gordon Johnson, a team leader on Project Alpha, which is developing
robots for the U.S. army, predicts that, if the robot's gun can return
fire automatically and instantly to within a metre of a location from
which its sensors have detected a gunshot, it will always kill the
person who has fired. "Anyone who would shoot at our forces would
die," says Johnson. "Before he can drop that weapon and run, he's
probably already dead. Well now, these cowards in Baghdad would have
to pay with blood and guts every time they shoot at one of our folks.
The costs of poker went up significantly. The enemy, are they going
to give up blood and guts to kill machines? I'm guessing not."

Again, this may sound like the plot of a B-movie, but the U.S.
military press, not a body of people given to frivolity, has been
writing about it for some time. "DefenseWatch," for example, also
featured robots in that future war scenario involving sensors
dispersed by fans. Once a complete picture of the target city is
built up, the scenario predicted, "unmanned air and ground vehicles
can now be vectored directly to selected targets to take them out, one
by one."

The Silver Bullet

It is shocking, but will it happen? The project has its critics, even
in the Pentagon, where many doubt that technology can deliver such a
"silver bullet." But the doubters are not in the ascendant, and it
would be folly, against the background of the Iraq disaster and the
hyper-militarised stance of the Bush administration, to write it off
as a computer gamer's daydream.

One reason Washington finds it so attractive is that it fits closely
with the ideologies of permanent war that underpin the "war on
terror." What better in that war than an army of robot warriors,
permanently cruising those parts of the globe deemed to be "supporting
terrorism"? And what a boon if they destroy "targets" all on their
own, with not a single U.S. soldier at risk. Even more seductively,
this could all take place out of sight of the capricious western
media.

These technologies further blur the line between war and
entertainment. Already, games featuring urban warfare in digitised
Arab cities are everyday suburban entertainment -- some are produced
by the U.S. forces themselves, while a firm called Kuma Reality offers
games refreshed weekly to allow players to simulate participation in
fighting in Iraq almost as it is happening in the real world.

Creepy as this is, it can be worse: those involved in real warfare may
have difficulty remembering they are not playing games. "At the end of
the work day," one Florida-based Predator operator reflected to USA
Today in 2003, "you walk back into the rest of life in America." Will
such people always remember that their "work day," lived among like-
minded colleagues in front of screens, involves real death on the far
side of the world? As if to strengthen the link with entertainment,
one emerging military robot, the Dragon Runner, comes with a gamer's
control panel. Greg Heines, who runs the project, confesses: "We
modelled the controller after the Play Station 2 because that's what
these 18-, 19-year-old marines have been playing with pretty much all
of their lives."

The U.S. aspiration to be able to kill without human involvement and
with minimum risk raises some dreadful questions. Who will decide
what data can be relied on to identify a "target"? Who will be
accountable when there is an atrocity? And what does this say about
western perceptions of the worth and rights of the people whose cities
are no more than killing fields, and who themselves are mere "targets"
to be detected, tracked and even killed by machines?

Finally, the whole process feeds alarmingly into the "homeland
security" drive in the cities of the global north. The same companies
and universities are supplying ideas to both, and the surveillance,
tracking and targeting technologies involved are closely related.
What we are seeing is a militarisation of urban life in both north and
south that helps perpetuate the biggest and most dangerous myth of
all, which is that technical and military solutions can somehow magic
away resistance to George W Bush's geopolitical project.

==============

Stephen Graham is professor of human geography at Durham University.
His latest book, "Cities, Wars and Terrorism," is published by
Blackwell.

Return to Table of Contents

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

  Rachel's Democracy & Health News (formerly Rachel's Environment &
  Health News) highlights the connections between issues that are
  often considered separately or not at all.

  The natural world is deteriorating and human health is declining  
  because those who make the important decisions aren't the ones who
  bear the brunt. Our purpose is to connect the dots between human
  health, the destruction of nature, the decline of community, the
  rise of economic insecurity and inequalities, growing stress among
  workers and families, and the crippling legacies of patriarchy,
  intolerance, and racial injustice that allow us to be divided and
  therefore ruled by the few.  

  In a democracy, there are no more fundamental questions than, "Who
  gets to decide?" And, "How do the few control the many, and what
  might be done about it?"

  As you come across stories that might help people connect the dots,
  please Email them to us at dhn@rachel.org.
  
  Rachel's Democracy & Health News is published as often as
  necessary to provide readers with up-to-date coverage of the
  subject.

  Editors:
  Peter Montague - peter@rachel.org
  Tim Montague   -   tim@rachel.org
  
::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

  To start your own free Email subscription to Rachel's Democracy
  & Health News send a blank Email to: join-rachel@gselist.org.

  In response, you will receive an Email asking you to confirm that
  you want to subscribe.

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::
Environmental Research Foundation
P.O. Box 160, New Brunswick, N.J. 08903
dhn@rachel.org
::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::