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Stateside with Rosalea: Just browsing

Primaries

Cue sound f/x: audio of Klondike Bar hitting flesh. Woman's voice: "Ouch! Oooch! No! Don't stop! This chocolate and ice cream is delicious!" So. Alaska nixed Measure 1 for alternative voting by a margin of 2 to 1 last week, and I'm bravely accepting my punishment. For a view of the Georgia primaries, in which the right's Bob Barr and the left's Cynthia McKinney both got nixed by their respective parties, see http://www.thenation.com/thebeat/index.mhtml?bid=1&pid=98 BTW, the primary elections for the state currently governed by the heir apparent to the Oval Throne Room - Jeb Bush - is on the second Tuesday of which month? Yup, it's September. Go look at a calendar for the date.

Tertiaries

Clerical workers at the University of California in Berkeley went on strike for the first three days of this week. On the last day, lecturers joined them, and there's an interesting article in this week's East Bay Express about their gripes: http://www.eastbayexpress.com/issues/2002-08-28/feature.html/1/index.html It sheds a great deal of light on the state of university education in this country, which basically boils down to a life or death struggle between the teaching and research agendas of the institutions that have 4-year degrees.

Quandaries

By coincidence, this weekend's Sunday magazine in the 'San Francisco Chronicle' looks at six professors who are such a big drawcard for top students that the universities hiring them went, in some cases, to extraordinary lengths to get them. For example, luring Prof. Bluestone away from the cancer centre he ran at the University of Chicago cost the University of California in San Francisco "the creation of a chair as a distinguished professor, admission to private schools for his two kids, and jobs and housing for his own dream team of 12 researchers who came with him, along with headquarters of the ITN" - the ITN being the brand new Islet and Cellular Transplantation Facility UCSF built at a cost of $4.5 million.

Most of the money for this would have come from companies and grants from the federal government, whereas the money for clerical workers and lecturers comes mainly from the State of California, but it's hard to imagine that this kind of distortionary funding isn't at the cost of jobs and conditions for lesser mortals. Not to mention the jump it causes in tuition fees, as a June item on The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer reported: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/education/jan-june02/costs_6-5.html

Heeby jeebies

Want to be really scared? Then read the article "Born-Again Zionists" by Ken Silverstein and Michael Scherer in 'Mother Jones' about the relationship between the Christian right, Zionism, and the Bush administration's policy in the Middle East. Sorry, it's not online, but have a look at http://www.motherjones.com/magazine/SO02/index.html anyway.

The subject has been touched on a couple of times in network news bulletins over the past couple of months, especially when a whole planeload of US families arrived in Israel to move into the settlements, having had the funds for their move raised by fundamentalist Christians. But panic not - this next couple of weeks include the Jewish high holidays to do with atonement, and there is an antidote at http://www.beyttikkun.org/holidays.htm - scroll down to High Holiday Supplement 5763.

Suffer little children And as for the scariest thing on television in recent weeks, it was surely the chilling sight on '60 Minutes' of a small group of small children being ushered into a room where they were watched through a two-way mirror as they were made to design and name their own poison. It didn't kill them immediately. Indeed, it will kill them and their peers slowly over the remaining decades of their lives. By age 10 many will have lost their ability to participate fully in the activities of childhood. Over the years, some of them may even lose a limb. The poison is fast food and the diseases it induces include obesity and type 2 diabetes, which is now considered a national epidemic.

The group of children was a focus group put together by psychologists on contract to '60 Minutes' but who usually work for companies like McDonald's on building brand loyalty in children as young as 2. Hey, next time you're sitting in business class, could be you're sitting next to one of these dollarists, who have so little respect for human life that they enlist innocent children as architects in the creation of slow, painful death from 'natural' causes for millions all over the world.

Hurrah for people fighting back, like the Los Angeles County School Board, which is banning the sale of sodas from vending machines on the school grounds during school hours. Of course, the revenue from those soda machines is what pays for school activities and resources so it's a bitter-syrupy victory. Then again, the Bush administration is big on kids' health, so for a critique of the campaign to make kids more active, take a look at http://slate.msn.com/?id=2069978

Lea Barker
California
Sunday, 1 September 2002


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