This just in: War is good for business if you're a arms manufacturer. But the business is not just booming because the US has to restock its arsenal.
THE BOSTON GLOBE reports that US arms makers may wind up seeing a windfall from unexpected sources resulting from the bombing of Yugoslavia earlier this year. Recently published statistics show that the NATO campaign was highly dependent upon superior US military technology. The disparity in quality between the US and European militaries has prompted European NATO partners to seek an upgrade in their arsenals. At a meeting last week in Toronto, NATO officials agreed to 58 initiatives aimed at closing that technology gap.
According to the GLOBE, these initiatives, if properly funded, could translate into big business for US arms makers. In addition to increased sales to the NATO countries of Europe, the bombing campaign is also being used as an effective tool for marketing US-made arms to customers all around the world. The GLOBE predicts increased sales for "smart" bombs made by Boeing and Raytheon, jet engines made by General Electric, and laser guidance equipment from Lockheed Martin.
In Scotland,sometimes rape is OK
Just months after the outcry over rapes at Woodstock, researchers on the other side of the Atlantic uncovered more bad news on the sexual violence front. A study by Scotland's Zero Tolerance Charitable Trust found that fully half of the young men surveyed thought forcing a woman to have sex was sometimes acceptable, reported the BBC. A third of women aged 14 to 21 felt the same way.
One researcher said she had not predicted such a widespread acceptance of rape, saying, "We didn't set out to find such a result so we were shocked by it." Reasons both men and women chose as justifying rape ranged from being in a long-term relationship to having slept around. That's not surprising in itself; kids hear those cultural messages every day. It's the sheer numbers that are shocking: 50 percent of 14-to-21-year-old Scottish men shows a lot of justification for the unjustifiable. The number of young women buying into the rape-is-OK reasoning is equally disturbing.
There's one thing Woodstock and Glasgow have in common: They're both strong evidence that media messages of women-as-victims don't go unheard.
For more resources on violence against women, check out the American Bar Association's Domestic Violence Homepage.
That's imaginary cancer, Junior
According to the ENVIRONMENTAL NEWS SERVICE (ENS), 103 children in Dover Township, New Jersey are suffering from cancer, making it the nation's largest "cancer cluster." State investigators have found evidence of extensive toxic contamination of the local drinking water. However, despite compelling circumstantial evidence, no government study has definitively linked the high rate of cancer in Dover's children to contaminated groundwater.
Cancer clusters have been getting increasing attention of late. In 1997, President Clinton issues an executive order requiring federal agencies to make identifying environmental health risks to children a "high priority." Last year, the story of Woburn, Mass. -- a small town where 21 children contracted leukemia -- was portrayed in a popular film called "A Civil Action," starring John Travolta.
Nevertheless, according to the ENS, state and federal investigators still claim that in no case have groundwater contaminants been linked to a cancer cluster. In fact, they say a legitimate child cancer cluster has never been proven to exist in the United States.
Check out this excellent, in depth article for more information on the issue.
Get thee to a fact-checker
On Sept. 19, ABC ran an hour-long special called "Is America # One?" which compared the economies of India, the US, and Hong Kong in an attempt to prove the successes of American-style free-market capitalism. The show featured ABC correspondent John Stossel (never one to let objectivity get in the way of reporting) interviewing economists, waxing philosophical about health care, and comparing poverty in the first and third worlds. Not everyone was happy with the show's conclusions, however. FAIRNESS AND ACCURACY IN REPORTING (FAIR) issued a highly critical assessment of the show this week, saying, "The program was filled with so many factual inaccuracies ... and unsubstantiated claims that it calls into question whether ABC News applied any sort of journalistic standards to the broadcast." The FAIR release gives contact information and encourages people to voice their opinions directly to the network and the reporter.
Among Stossel's claims: Poor Americans don't usually suffer from a lack of access to heath care. He said, "the truth is that when someone is denied [health] care, it makes headlines because it's so unusual. Most of the time, even the poorest person going to the emergency room gets the same ... treatment" as wealthy people. After asking people lined up at a food pantry in the South Bronx if they owned VCRs and microwaves, he issued this touching dispatch: "These people ... aren't here because they've been going without food. They come because the food is free."
School of Americas still in business
Last July, the House voted 230 to 197 to cut $2 million in funding for the US Army-run School of the Americas in Fort Benning, Georgia. Last week, however, a House conference committee voted 8-7 to restore the funds, which are used to cover the costs of bringing soldiers from Latin America to the US for training. Over its 53-year history, the School of the Americas has graduated more than "57,000 officers, cadets, noncommissioned officers, and government civilians from 22 Latin American countries" and the US, according to the school's own Web site. As reported in the LEDGER-ENQUIRER (Colombus, Ga.), SOA spokesman Nicholas Britto said, "We feel that finally the American people, through Congress, have decided that the school is needed." (In an unfortunate oversight, Britto did not explain how a vote by 15 people, which nullified the will of more than 400 elected officials, represents democracy at work, but we'll take his word for it.)
Not everyone is happy with the decision, however. Critics -- like Washington DC-based SOA Watch -- say that the school's graduates "have been responsible for some of the worst human rights abuses in Latin America," funded and endorsed by the US when it suited national objectives. Calls to shut down the SOA intensified after graduates from the school were implicated in the 1989 murders of six Jesuit priests and two women in El Salvador.