Coastal Post Online


February, 2003

Letters To The Editor

Blood, Oil And Media
How very sad that the mainstream media is content to lie down in the lawn and hum while our President and his cabinet of corporate oil and weapons executives lead us down a path of violence, with no foreseeable end. The huge profits from this endless "war on terror" will, by strange coincidence go to these same weapons and oil industries. The rest of us will pay with the lives of our sons and daughters overseas, and with the sacrifice of our own personal freedoms and security in our backyards.

Bullies must often look over their shoulders to see if someone they have hurt in the past is sneaking up with a baseball bat. Do we expect the families, and nations friendly to the tens of thousands of innocents we will be killing unjustly to politely say "thank you?" To try (emphasis on "try") to forestall terrorist retaliation to our aggressions, we will be asked to live in a world of increasingly onerous restrictions, and Orwellian surveillance... not the free America that veterans died for in the first place. Not the America where we treat others fairly, and get the same in return.

Saddam has not attacked us. Saddam has attacked no country, therefor our attack is unprovoked, immoral, and unprecedented in modern America. Saddam is not Osama, and the rest of the world sees our shift of focus, and looks with narrowed eyes upon our country, as it devolves into a nation of conquest, and falls to the corruption of corporate rule within our government, to the very highest levels.

If the media, in their once honored role as the eyes and ears of the American people, continue to see no evil and hear no evil in the corporate takeover of our government, and in this government's forceful taking of a sovereign nation for it's resources, then they, the media deserve the wounded America that their disregard for honesty in reporting will bring about. An America in which media's role will be reduced to the function of Pravda in the USSR of old. As for myself, a proud citizen of the land of the free and the home of the brave, I stand tall and say loudly "NOT IN MY NAME."
David Singelyn [email protected]

Using Naked Women For Peace
In a recap of the weeks news, (Sunday, Jan 12) the IJ describes the women in Point Reyes who took part in a naked "Peace" photo shoot as "some lithesome, some not so."

What garners nationwide attention is always naked women, lithesomeness or lack of. Finally the Peace movement is using what it knows will draw attention. Naked women! Thousands of people who march for peace, write letters, dissent, refuse to be a part of this current Third Reich atmosphere get a mention or two, if we're lucky!

It's a sad commentary on our Nation's primitive attention span and sensibilities that we have to appeal to the lowest common denominator of the Nation's psyche to bring attention to the madness Washington is unleashing on us and the rest of the world. But appeal we will.
Meg Brizzolara San Rafael

One In Five Have Cancer
I now live in the East but still consider Bolinas my spiritual home. I felt compelled to look up the Coastal Post because I just read on that 1 in 5 women in Marin county has breast cancer. Can this possibly be true? What on earth could be the cause of this? Marin is deeply in my heart and I need more information about this. I am quite alarmed.
Kate Lawrence [email protected]

No IRS Forms?
For the first time in my long memory, the Internal Revenue Service has not mailed out income tax forms and it is nearly the end of January. What's going on? No money for postage or printing? No staff? Incompetence? New policy? Contracting out work that should be done by federal employees? Reorganizing the government? Is this administration blaming the delay on terrorists -- or Iraq -- or North Korea -- or homeland security? Do all these erstwhile CEOs now running the country know the difference between Enron and the IRS? I telephoned the IRS forms number and was told, "The majority of forms have not yet been mailed!" So I placed my order and hope the forms will get here in time via the quasi-privatized US Postal Service. I'm not alone. Friends and family haven't received theirs either. So what's going on?
Eileen Siedman Mill Valley

Thanks Mr. President!
Mr. President of the USA, in your stubborn and dishonest way (in which to start with, you got a seat way too big for you), you're trying with a handful of organized outrageous freaks, you're trying, said I, to convince the world that a massive military attack on a small country on the other side of the world is the right thing to do.

Well, Mr. President, despite all your lies and bad reasons and your insane need to scare people and push them towards bloodshed in your own benefit, despite all of your lame manipulations of the truth, war is obsolete in 2003.

As a matter of fact, it's time for us, people of the earth, to consider the big picture closely and take our responsibilities because, beyond the artificial frontiers imposed by the endless political game, there is only one human race living and growing (fast!) in absolute inter-dependency with the evolving planet that shelters it, there is no winner after a war nowadays, Mr. President, only dead and wounded, ruined, ashamed and traumatized people and lands. At this stage of our history, with the technology you enjoy so much to play with, war is more than ever a crime against humankind in its wholeness. Radioactivity and sterilized soils are still fighting forgotten battles when the soldiers using your actual range of weapons are long dead and the kids of their kids, too, and no money, political power or regrets can fix the kind of mistakes you practice as a family tradition!

(The fact is, if America was practicing fair trade and assistance for the rest of the world in place of acting like a spoiled child, leaving few of the common resources for the rest of the world when grabbing and wasting outrageously for the well-being of a few of your pairs, you would not have to fear any terrorism attack!)

The good part in all of this is that when you cut the budget on education, health care, information, pollution, and social services and shrink the sacred constitution all by yourself, meanwhile throwing away billions of dollars in an increasingly ridiculous demonstration of your sick ego, you're becoming, without knowing it, the perfect man of your time: you are becoming the one who's waking up and gathering all of those who are just a little notch more evolved than you are to stand up and become their own leaders, and for that, I thank you, Mr. President!
Emmeline Craig Bolinas

Gun Control "Logic"
The logic that drives such acolytes of gun control high priestess Sarah Brady as Teddy Kennedy, Chuck Schumer, Barbara Boxer, Nancy Pelosi and their ilk is now clarified thanks to the Kentucky Coalition to Carry Concealed, as shown by these examples culled from KCCC website's extensive list, and thanks especially to friend John Bazynsky who first brought this logic to our attention:

Washington, D.C.'s low murder rate of 69 per 100,000 is due to strict gun control, while Indianapolis' high murder rate of 9 per 100,000 is due to lack of gun control.

The New England Journal of Medicine is filled with expert advice about guns, just as Guns & Ammo has some excellent treatises on heart surgery.

One should consult an automotive engineer for safer seatbelts, a civil engineer for a better bridge, a surgeon for internal medicine, a computer programmer for a hard drive problem, and Sarah Brady for firearms expertise.

Banning guns works, which is why the cops in New York, D.C. and Chicago need guns.

An intruder can be incapacitated by tear gas or oven spray, but if shot with a .357 Magnum will get angry and kill you.

A woman raped and strangled is morally superior to a woman with a smoking gun and a dead rapist at her feet.

The Second Amendment, ratified in 1791, refers to the National Guard, which was created 112 years later, in 1903.

Citizens don't need to carry a gun for personal protection, but police chiefs, who are desk bound administrators who work in a building filled with cops, need a gun.

Most people can't be trusted, so we should have laws against guns, which most people will abide by because they can be trusted.

Trigger locks do not interfere with the ability to use a gun for defensive purposes, which is why you see so many police officers with trigger locks on their duty weapons.
Fielding Greaves San Rafael

New Law Ties Military Recruitment
Signed Jan. 8, Public Law 107-110 requires secondary schools receiving Federal funding to provide military recruiters access to junior and senior high school students' names, addresses, and telephone listings. The law goes further. It gives recruiters the same direct access to students as is available to college/university admissions, and personal and potential employers.

This little item was buried deep with George Bush's No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.

Prior to this provision, many of the nation's high schools refused the military's requests for student records, or access to their campus because they deemed it inappropriate for educational institutions to promote military recruitment. Now, their refusal means the loss of their Federal funding.

The provision also states that the students, or their parents, are entitled to request that their name be struck from those lists. This is based on the school's providing information and a method of response, i.e., a form or letter. This response will be referred to later in this article.

Many schools across the country have no problem with this new law. Many are already cooperating with the military, and are providing the requested information without hesitation.

As stated by Dick Cheney when he was Defense Secretary, "The military is not a social welfare agency. It's not a jobs program. The reason for a military is to be prepared to fight and win wars." But this is not what they are telling the students.

What they are telling them is that they will get big dollars for college, job skills training, travel, adventure, and discipline. What they don't tell them is that two-thirds of all recruits never get any college funding. That only fifteen percent graduate with a four-year degree. To get the "big money" -- $50,000 -- they have to join up for more time, and that they will probably end up with the least desirable jobs. They don't tell them that most military training is designed for military jobs which will not do much good in the civilian world. They don't tell them that the military does not have to use a recruit in any field they might have requested. Travel, maybe, but only to the areas the military wants you to go. It might be in a war zone which has nothing to do with "adventure." The recruit has no choice in any of this. Yes, discipline is there, if what is desired is to be constantly under the control of an authority which tells you what to do and how to do it.

Federal law states that the military places "numerous restrictions on personal behavior that would not be accepted in civilian society." A recruit is subject to military law twenty-four hours a day. Disobedience can result in court-martial, prison, or the lifetime problem of a dishonorable discharge. Furthermore, the enlistment agreement states that "your status, pay, benefits, and responsibilities in the military can change without warning and regardless of any promises in your agreement." This is only a portion of what students are not told. The list goes on and on.

The No Child Left Behind Act paves the way for the military to have unimpeded access to underage students who are susceptible to action-packed Pentagon sales pitches. It is critical that students, schools, and school districts have accurate information regarding this legislation and its forthcoming solicitation.

To insure the dispersal of accurate information, there are a number of things happening in Marin County. The Wet Marin Alliance is hosting a three-hour workshop to educate communities and their youth about the myths and propaganda around military recruitment. Included will be legal alternatives around enlistment with a focus on conscientious objector status, and the current status of a new draft. This event will be at the Dance Palace in Point Reyes on Saturday, Feb. 8 from 2 to 5 p.m. For more information about this event, call Mark at 868-0245.

It is hoped that the No Child Left Behind Act will be a wake-up call to all of us. Students need to reclaim their privacy. Parents must invest their energy into demanding quality education and truth for their children in the schools.

It is time to look closely at the recent military buildup and what that might mean for the youth of this country.
Mark Butler

Bill O'Reilly's In Trouble
i would like to start out by saying FUCK BILL O'REILLY. after the "not in our name" anti-war movement posted a 2-page ad in numerous national newspapers asking the american public to support the anti-war movement, great ol' bill went on his great ol' show to spit out an endless stream of conservative, right-wing criticism towards the group. His main argument was that the whole group, and everyone who signed the ad (people like jesse jackson, al sharpton, martin sheen and many other names in hollywood) were un-american. since when has freedom of speech become un-american? isn't that one of the main points in the constitution?

the ad stated that america uses terrorism just as much as "terrorists" do, only on a larger scale. this is true, but bill decided to call this, too, ignorant and un-american. when specific american events or wars were stated as terrorist activity in the ad, bill came back by saying that all of the instances were necessary for world peace. WORLD PEACE? since when has war been a tool for achieving peace? The acts of the US government listed in the ad were carried out to make the world safe for capitalism. to make the world safe for american tourists. to keep firm control of any situation in which a country might make money their own way, without america exploiting them and draining their economy.

the truth of the matter is, the US government does illegal things every day that break the geneva convention. the government carries out operations in the third world and the middle east that take civilian lives and break every rule of engagement there is. the sad thing is that we, the american public, will have no idea these things ever occurred until many years from now, when they cannot spark anti-american sentiment in any shape or form. the events will be told in small press releases that appear at the bottom of a news broadcast two decades from now... long after the people of our "great" country could do anything to stop it.

you must ask yourself: are civilian lives and the death of thousands of military personnel on either side really worth the american way? the system of turning the middle east and third world countries into parking lots, the system of murder to control foreign oil supply?

this could all be lies... i could be one of them... who can you trust?

fuck bill o'reilly... send this on to people you think will read it.
cedar lampe [email protected]

About Bigots
You are woefully misinformed [though I suppose that's your choice] concerning the Israeli Palestinian conflict.

The tenet of the Palestinian people calls for the destruction and elimination of Israel. It is in their charter [Article 9]:

Article 9 said that armed struggle is the "only" way to liberate Palestine. Article 15 said it is "a national duty to repulse the Zionist imperialist invasion from the great Arab homeland and to 'purge' the Zionist presence from Palestine." Article 22 declared that "the liberation of Palestine will 'liquidate' the Zionist and imperialist presence and bring about the stabilization of peace in the Middle East."

I noticed that you left out any mention of the death of you're a bigot...that's OK...but at least inform yourself, instead of misrepresenting the facts to further your agenda.

Be honest with your readers that you have little or no knowledge of the history of Palestine and Israel. The truth either way will set you free.
S Whit [email protected]

Delegation Of War Powers To Bush
By being unnecessarily coerced into the rushed vote before the November elections, congress has assisted this administration in its diversions from its mounting scandals, economic problems, and concealed efforts to thwart environmental and corporate reforms. GWB had used his undeserved 9/11 popularity to promote these agenda--this is now waning, and he has found a new crisis.

Complex issues such as Iraq, dictates decisions based on informed perception--not political agenda. Transfer of such powers from our duly elected legislators to even a trustworthy person, is unwise--and history bears this out.

GWB's unethical (if not illegal) dealings before being wrongly dealt the presidency by the Supreme Court are a matter of record. He has sold out to special interests on crucial environmental, family planning, health issues, and now corporate reform--and on scales not found for any past president in my research. Meanwhile he has concealed or misrepresented his actions whenever possible. His conduct of foreign policy reflects the behavior of a spoiled child, rather than a president.

By gaining control of both houses, this administration has destroyed our legislative balance, and much of the opposition to their contemptuous actions. They achieved this by falsely accusing honorable legislators of non-patriotism and disregard for our security, only because they raised some legitimate concerns regarding administration policies-- even a triple amputee from action in Vietnam. GWB, who snubbed the military service himself, used our tax dollars to perpetuate this outrage when flying his entourage around the country during the campaign.

Congress has failed us by not curtailing this administration's contemptuous goals. Sadly, statesmen such as Senator Jeffords, who had courageously restored legislative balance, are rare.

This is not what our founding fathers had in mind.
Robert H Settgast San Rafael, CA

Bringing Back The Draft For The Wrong Reasons
Charles Rangel, a Congressman strongly opposed to the war against Iraq, is introducing legislation to bring back the draft. How can this be?

Antiwar types like Rangel know they have lost the battle. They know the 1960's are over, but they're not ready to quit just yet. Mind you, Rangel supports the draft not because he fears our military can't win in Iraq without a draft. He supports it because he fears our military can win. By his own open admission, he's proposing a draft in order to frighten Americans out of supporting a war we seem poised to win.

This is darker than mere politics. For a member of our government to use the military in this way amounts to nothing less than treason: treason to both our nation's safety and to Rangel's own presumably antiwar "principles."
Michael J. Hurd Ph.D. Chevy Chase MD

Gas Tax Best One To Go UP
An increase in fuel tax presents the only rational approach to additional taxation. Rather than the regressive effects from a sales tax increase, it would promote meaningful conservation measures. It is the most effective means of achieving fuel reduction, and all knowledgeable experts agree. Not only will it reduce pollution and global warming; but will encourage other conservation efforts such as alternative energy development, and the related economic benefits.

Since California accounts for roughly 15% of the nations fuel consumption, this measure would also reduce our dependency on middle eastern oil and its related political problems. It would lower our trade deficit (of which oil imports are the greatest contributor), thus improving our economic stability. More significantly, it would encourage the rest of the nation to follow suite, and counter the unprecedented profiteering and detrimental energy politics of the Bush Administration.
Robert H Settgast San Rafael

Humanitarian Aid For Haiti Must Be Released
From January 11-19, Haiti Reborn/Quixote Center coordinated a twenty-one member fact finding delegation to Haiti. This large group of individuals with diverse areas of expertise and far reaching constituencies have made a unanimous declaration: "The democratic government of Haiti must have immediate and unfettered access to international funding."

The delegation, "Investigating the Human Effects of Withheld Humanitarian Aid," included Marin Interfaith Task Force on Central America, TransAfrica Forum, Jubilee USA Network, Global Justice, religious leaders, teachers, and students from throughout the United States who joined with the offices of Representatives Donald Payne (NJ),Barbara Lee (CA) and Lynn Woolsey (CA) on this seven day investigation.

The delegation visited three geographical departments in Haiti and participated in various meetings finding that the Haitian people are suffering without basic health services or even potable drinking water. The US Government and multilateral lending institutions have ceased funding the Haitian Government's programs to provide the basic human rights of life, health and education. It is impossible for the democratically elected government of Haiti, the poorest country in this hemisphere, to provide services without funding for infrastructure and services. The US must respect Haiti's sovereignty, as a nascent democracy, and stop sabotaging the ability of its government to provide basic services.

For the last year and half, the US Government has provided funding to Haiti at a drastically reduced amount randomly through non-governmental organizations, NGOs. Gerard Johnson, the Inter-American Development Bank's Resident Representative in Port-au-Prince, told the delegates, "If you don't have a government, you don't have a country. You can't lend only to NGO's." He made this statement despite the fact that the IDB has for two years withheld the release of approved loans in the amount of $146 million for health care, basic education, rural road rehabilitation and potable water.

Haitian human rights Attorney Mario Joseph explained to the delegation "it is shameful that the people who talk about human rights are the same ones who maintain sanctions which violate human rights." Urban water provider CAMEP underlined the ways in which loans from the IDB to improve water infrastructure can have wide reaching effects on rapidly increasing disease and death attributable to water-borne microbes. "The embargo makes it impossible for us to do what we need to do for the population. People can't pay for water so they get it clandestinely. The emerging statistics will show increased sickness from water borne disease."

The delegation will be issuing a full report and members are available for comment. Haiti Reborn/Quixote Center Coordinator Melinda Miles emphasized the importance of the findings of the delegation. "Haiti is facing a critical moment with rapidly increasing price of living and an unparalleled decrease in access to water and health care for the poor majority of Haitian people."

Haiti's national maternal mortality rate rose from 450/100,000 in 1997 to 513 this year. In Haiti's capital Port-au-Prince it is estimated to be more than 1200/100,000. The national HIV/AIDS infection rate is 5.17% and is estimated to be 10% in Port-au-Prince. In a recent study of access to potable water in 147 countries, Haiti ranked at 147.

For a copy of the report, full list of participants, interviews or statements, contact: Melinda Miles or Eugenia Charles-Mathurin at Haiti Reborn/Quixote Center, or locally Caroline Dutton from Marin Interfaith Task Force.
Caroline Dutton, board member Marin Interfaith task Force on Central America [email protected]

Mr. Secretary of State, Consider The Blowback
There seems to be no doubt that as soon as The President starts his pre-emptive war on Iraq, there will be Blowback on this country that will last 30 years. And it will come from all corners of the globe.

US citizens, US embassies, US businesses abroad all will be vulnerable. Tony Blair knows as do the British people that they will likely be a target. So do the nations of the European Union...

We consider the probabilities involved of more suicide bombers--here in the United States--releasing toxic substances in Texas, Chicago, New York and DC. We have no doubt that Saddam will release bio-chem on the troops this nation sends to the Iraqi theater.

I would think the President would want to avoid the humiliation of going down in history of bringing a plague upon his own people.

The administration routinely ignores International Law, and like Israel, has ignored the Geneva Convention. The torture stories have not played well around the world, especially in this country.

How the military plays it--and this administration plays it--will involve Iran, Pakistan, China and North Korea or not! It will affect our relations with Saudi and Egypt and Turkey. And Russia. Our administration's image abroad across the globe internationally in Europe, Latin America...and especially in Asia...has blackened after the remarks by Donald Rumsfeld.

Blowback from this oil-seeking military adventure among the other oil producing countries--may change dramatically. Blowback from our 50 year involvement with the Israeli Zionists is also brilliantly clear to China and North Korea at this time, along with the EU and Russians. The administration's avoidance of the public and press makes you look like you have a bunker mentality from the American people. You advertise our vulnerability, fear, and dependence oil shortages to the world by your unconscionable actions in Venezuela.

I'm sure that Osama Bin Laden must be sitting gleefully in his cave, watching as the rest of us are these events unfurl to the full awareness of the entire planet.

YOU must see the strategic necessity of Ariel Sharon's defeat in Israel's upcoming election. Israelis themselves are sickened by the violence, the hatred, the bigotry--the display. You must see the strategic necessity of cutting off military aid and financial gouging by the State of Israel and undue influence on the integrity and sovereignty of THIS Country! Unfortunately, the President, as hard as he tries, is a weak imitation--of this leaders of that power-hungry nation state and the rabid, if not psychotic, posture of Zionist leadership and its demands on this nation.

The Belgians still want him in The International World Court. THAT is NOT going to go away! I sent those Talmudic Laws and Israel Shahak's comments to you for a reason, Sir!

Israel will seek to avoid humiliation, opprobrium, infamy. When THEIR actions and OUR actions are held up to the Big Mirror of global public opinion. And we'll also avoid looking into that mirror at what we've become at all costs!

We must acknowledge OUR Failure to make the Peace in The Holy Land. The Zionist-Israelis must acknowledge the Jewish State has brought them 50 years of hatred and enmity since its inception. Their behavior in negotiations is abhorrent. Revelations of the brutality globally impact this nation--and our relations with the rest of the world.

Let Kofi Annan who has the poise--take the lead. There is NO way now that the US can act unilaterally. Pre-emptive war on Iraq will only reinforce the idea that the US is 'above the law' or is a "law unto itself" when we ignore international treaties and accords when we find it convenient, expedient or popular.

The US must acknowledge the power and authority of the will of nations. The US must acknowledge international law and by doing so will regain the moral high ground.

There can be a New World Order--only through the United Nations at this point. The administration has blown its chance at global leadership through this administration's postures policies and actions. We should be at the service of the Global Community, not dictating our demands to it! Or to our allies in such arrogant with-us-or-against-us terms! If the US has already made itself a rogue nation in exactly that way, and cultivates the appearance of a global bully, then the Blowback could last 30 years. I could see gas and oil going to $100 a barrel, via global oil stoppages, crippling this economy. I could see our Arab allies, doing a complete about face if this "invasion" is not handled according to Hoyle. NOT Oil. Legal minds in this country and abroad do not like this precedent at all. Needless to say a growing consensus of American people don't either.

Give Kofi Annan a hot line to Saddam, with a video link. Let Saddam talk to the General Secretary, to the UN, to the World Community. Let people like Blair, Chirac, et al. interact with him in real time. Let him have say on the world stage to convince us all. And react to our arguments. Just remember that Saddam is really not your #1. problem, the resolution of Israeli-Palestinian crisis should be perceived as #1.
Michelle Sura Colunist, The Bolinas Hearsay News Bolinas, California

Not A Question Of Loyalty
I was on a visit to Inverness this week and read an edition of the Coastal Post. An article by Karen Nakamura, "Iraq: A Worst-Case Scenario Not Considered" contained statements that are of concern.

In her effort to express her opinion of the situation in the Middle East, she found it necessary to support her arguments with statements that have been used over time to create an anti-Jewish environment. Why is it necessary to question the loyalty of American Jews? It seems too many ultra-conservative American Jews, such as Paul Wolfowitz are more concerned with their Israeli citizenship than their American. Why is it necessary to revive the old myth of a "Zionist conspiracy" to control the world or parts of it with the statement: "There's also broad new-conservative encouragement for Israel taking Lebanon and Syria to reshape the Middle East. "

Are there no better arguments for the support of the Palestinian people? Iraq and the rest of the Arab world are committed to the elimination of the state of Israel. Palestinians are just a convenient means to reach this goal. Palestinians cannot immigrate or own land in Jordan or any other Arab nation. Arafat can always join his family in Paris and enjoy his millions while his people have lost all hope of a land of their own. How will Israel react as long as Iraq pays Palestinian families thousands of dollars for their children to blow themselves up and kill other children?

Why wait to build a Palestinian family a new house until after the "martyrdom" of their family member? The Palestinian people prosper when at peace with Israel. Let's hope a leadership develops within the Palestine people that works for the best interest of his people ( it is not likely to be a woman). As long as the Palestinian people are seen only as victims, the leadership will not take responsibility for the result of poor decision making and a corrupt and ineffective government. Maybe next time statehood will not rebuffed by the Palestinian leadership as happened many times over the last 50 years. Or is statehood really not the goal of the Palestinian and other Arab peoples?
Miriam Rosenthal Woodside, CA. 94062

Playing God With Bombs And Missiles
In the beginning of time, God was a manifestation without a face. Over the millenniums, artists projected God through conflicting faces, color and gender. At the dawn of the year 2003, the Gods of major religions still remain without any admissible IDs.

In the realm of politics, however -- and perhaps even overlapping into the religious -- we have one god whose face, gender and color is indisputable: President George W. Bush. The fate of Iraq, North Korea, Iran, Syria and other belligerent states and groups, are at the mercy of his singular omnipotence.

It would seem that Judgment Day is finally upon us when we stand face to face with god whose wrath is tangible, and whose vengeance is not to be dared or taken lightly!
Dom Martin

A Marin Doctor's Response to "Get Calcium"
I was surprised to see the Independent Journal print such a blatant promo piece for the dairy industry as Jane Brody's "Get Calcium" (Jan. 13, 2003). Although she does mention non-dairy sources of calcium, the basic message of her article, glaring in its omission of decades of contrasting research, is that if you drink tons of milk and take lots of calcium not only will your bones be strong but you will greatly decrease your risk of heart disease, atherosclerosis, and even cancer! A recent article in Reader's Digest went so far as to advocate eating ice cream for heart health. Give me a break. Rather than point out the numerous health problems associated with excess milk consumption, or the fact that millions of people worldwide have no bone problems whatsoever with very low dairy intake, or the fact that no animal on earth drinks milk after it is weaned, I will simply draw attention to problems with her basic arguments themselves.

Research suggests that, despite dairy industry hype, calcium absorption from milk is relatively poor due to its high protein content. Protein digestion produces acidity, which requires calcium to neutralize. High protein, particularly animal protein, eventually causes a net calcium loss from bone to restore the calcium thus used as a buffering agent. It is not surprising that countries where traditional diets are low on meat and dairy have the lowest incidence of bone fractures. The United States, with the highest dairy intake has also the highest rate of osteoporosis. Japanese women traditionally consume twenty percent of the protein as their Western counterparts and have approximately twenty percent of the osteoporosis. Dairy intake is also very low. Simply drinking more milk, therefore, is not the answer.

Nor, unfortunately, is merely supplementing with mineral calcium. Ms. Brady favors dolomite (calcium carbonate), a form with questionable ease of assimilation. She omits to inform her readers that calcium must be balanced with magnesium, and that the trace mineral boron, vitamin C, and many other factors, including a proper balance of hormones, are essential for bone formation. The collagenous bone matrix must also be strong enough to hold the calcium in place. You can't just mechanically pack in lots of calcium. It is a complicated affair with no one magic nutrient the key. Some studies have even shown a net calcium LOSS from calcium supplementation! A large study in 1997 showed nurses having more fractures when drinking more milk. Other studies have produced similar results. Do you think it might be possible that the recommendations of the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF) might in any way be biased due to major funding from Dairy Farmers Incorporated as well as Bizell Worldwide, creators of the "Got Milk" campaign?

One other thing we know. Not only high protein diets but also high refined sugar intake lead to calcium loss. Soft drinks, particularly colas, contain 10 teaspoons of sugar per can, and also have a high phosphoric acid content, another major negative which requires calcium for neutralization. Think of cola drinks dissolving your bones as they would a set of dentures left in a glass overnight. Combine a low level of fruits and vegetables (particularly greens) with a high level of burgers and colas and one could well be on the way to thinning bones or numerous other problems. Since this is the typical teen diet Ms. Brody's answer is for them to drink lots of milk, but that is no real solution because milk is also high in phosphorus which further reduces the available calcium.

Pioneering dental researcher Dr. Weston Price years ago noted the loss of bone in teeth and dental arches in indigenous peoples after they abandoned their native diets for the diet of the trading post or city, typically high in refined sugars and flours. He also noticed the progressive decay of health and bone structure in successive generations of cats fed with pasteurized milk. Cow's milk (before pasteurization and homogenation) is nature's perfect food - but only for baby cows! When fed pasteurized milk they die within sixty days. Homogenization is linked to arteriosclerosis and heart disease due to the release of xanthine oxidase - an enzyme not found in human milk or raw cow's milk - which attaches to the smaller fat globules produced by homogenization, passes through arterial walls and damages the inner lining, leading to plaque formation.

Exactly how do the current experts account for the millions in great health who consume minimal dairy products? How do they account for the calcium in eggshells, or in shellfish? The last I heard neither chickens or crabs were big milk drinkers - nor are elephants, who have probably the strongest bones on earth. You don't need a nutrition degree from Harvard to see that fear-based arguments based largely on "research" funded by the dairy industry do not hold up under scrutiny.

Studies have shown that when most of the dietary protein comes from vegetable sources (ie., legumes, soy) a positive calcium balance can be maintained on as little as 425 mg of calcium a day. This is a far cry from the 1200 mg recommended by experts in the United States. Native South Africans consume as little as 200 mg and have one of the lowest fracture rates in the world. Rather than to obsess over milk and calcium intake what is most important is to efficiently absorb what you do consume and to avoid depleting factors. Nature has not made it difficult to get sufficient calcium when you are also getting everything else the body needs in natural quantities. One needn't be a total vegetarian. Modest amounts of meat and fish, even cheese and yogurt are O.K., but too much leads to a negative mineral balance due to the acidity created by protein digestion. You also cannot be sedentary and maintain healthy bones. Weight bearing exercise, walking, etc., is essential, for bone strength.

One other thought. If calcium is such a panacea that it can even prevent colon cancer by binding with bile salts, as Ms. Brody writes, then to do so it must pass through the colon, in which case it isn't being absorbed and can't do the bones any good! You can't have it both ways.

The real reason drinking milk helps growing adolescents build strong bones is because of its displacement of soft drinks in the diet, not because of the milk per se. It is not that a large amount of calcium is being absorbed, but rather that a massive sugar and phosphoric acid intake is reduced, causing less existing calcium to be lost.

If you are a starving child from a third world country, or a teen living on soda and chips, milk may prevent malnutrition - but it is not the answer to the calcium problem, nor will it promote optimum health.
Peter Holleran, D.C. San Rafael, CA 94903 [email protected]

US Proposal To Track Travelers
I was nine years old. Standing at the border of the Iron Curtain, overlooking from Austria to Hungary, I noted scores of watch towers filled with guards carrying loaded machine guns, one within mere yards of us. Graveyards dotting between the towers all the way to the horizon. The dead? Spies! Every one of them! All it took was our looking into their country for ten minutes: The machine guns pointed. At me.

Of all people, I at nine years old was the most likely spy of our party! We refused to become a border incident and left.

It is the same fear (of terrorism, in this case) which has our politicians converting our Constitution to a Dictatorship, and also has our whole country brainwashed. We, the people, out of fear buy into every move our politicians make without questioning the implications and outcomes of such moves. Or, indeed, without further questioning the motives of our politicians.

Surely they know better, being in contact with governments world-wide. How innocent of us to assume that tracking the travel of US citizens, or its visitors, will not result in violations of much more than just our privacy.

What about our freedom? If the law has it now that people may be arrested and held without trial on suspicion of appearing Middle-Eastern, aren't we a bit thick to think that the government will not violate us in a similar manner as well? In our innocence and in the pain of truthful inquiry, we mask the reality to ourselves. But this masking will not shield us for very long.

How is it even possible that Bush authored into law the very thing that had Nixon impeached, spytapping? Because we, the people, stand behind it. Brainwashed with our fear, we dig the graves of our own oppression. We buy into the lies that all is being done for our good and for the good of our country. The fact is, that dictatorships were created based on the very premises of "protections" that mislead us now. Those very "protections" are exactly what end up oppressing the people. Why shouldn't Bush be impeached for legalizing spytapping and numerous other laws gone into effect? Isn't authoring a law allowing the government to watch our travels a cause for impeachment? Am I myself at risk for daring to write this letter? It is only our innocence which denies the truth.
Drina Brooke, Novato

More On Molokai Vs. Goliath
The issues behind the Moloka'i cruise ship controversy are immense, and perhaps that's why we are getting national and international attention focused on the January 22 protest.

1) Does a local community have the right, and even the duty, to scrutinize the grandiose schemes of giant corporations? Or are giant corporations -- by virtue of their campaign contributions to politicians, the fees they pay to state agencies, and the millions they pay in advertising to "capture" the media and dissuade them from running negative stories -- able to buy any land they want to buy and utilize any infrastructure they feel like using? Are government and media just handmaidens for the designs of mega corporations? After 9/11 this is no longer a rhetorical question. What they bombed was the World Trade Center. What they were telling us is that the neo-liberal corporate agenda has got to be regulated in the interests of human beings, not stock dividends.

2) Is it possible that on an island where the locals get 25% of their protein from the reef that the danger to the reef posed by cruise ships far outweighs any possible economic benefits they might offer? Are the cheapskate passengers on cruise ships going to supplement 25% of our diet over here? I think not. But just in case I'm wrong let's STUDY the situation.

3) Are corporations cults -- showing us a public face, and doing something entirely different off-camera? Do we watch their smiley-face TV ads showing sumptuous buffet tables and bikinied girls around a pool, without ever imagining that the workers on the ship receive third world wages, that they barely speak English, and might be carrying germs from countries we've never heard of?

There's too much at stake here for anyone to shout us down. Maybe we ARE cavemen. Maybe we tried it your way and decided we WANT to be cavemen. That's our choice. Not Holland America's. Not sycophantic state agencies.
Rich Zubaty Kaunakakai, Hawaii [email protected]



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