Friday, August 31, 2001

South Africa's Mbeki Has Bleak Message on Race
United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in his opening speech to the conference, said Israel could not use ``the ultimate abomination'' of the Holocaust as an excuse to never examine its own behavior.

``We cannot expect Palestinians to accept this (the Holocaust) as a reason why the wrongs done to them -- displacement, occupation, blockade, and now extra-judicial killings -- should be ignored, whatever label one uses to describe them,'' he said.
Rancor and Powell's Absence Cloud Racism Parley
The Rev. Jesse Jackson, who arrived this morning, warned that the debate over the Middle East threatened to eclipse the conference, which is intended to highlight discrimination in all forms — from concerns about racism in the criminal justice system in the United States, to the plight of women in Afghanistan, to modern-day slavery in Sudan.

Mr. Jackson and other civil rights leaders here including Representative John Conyers Jr., Democrat of Michigan, and Wade J. Henderson, director of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, said it was a mistake not to send Secretary Powell. The delegation will be led instead by E. Michael Southwick, the deputy assistant secretary of state for international organizations.

But Mr. Jackson said he and others agreed that the language of the proposed declaration against racism seemed to target Israel unnecessarily, particularly given the dismal human rights records of many countries participating in the conference.

"The issue of racism is too big to reduce it to the controversy about the Middle East," Mr. Jackson said in an interview. "One can be against the settlements, against the assassination of leaders and not have to label Israel as a racist state. If one goes into labeling, there are a lot of labels to go around."
More Women Are Losing Insurance Than Men
In the past, because of women's higher rate of poverty and historically greater eligibility for Medicaid, women have been less likely than men to go without health insurance. In 1994, for example, there were 15.7 million uninsured men and 13.1 million uninsured women. But the gap has been closing rapidly. In 1998, there were 16.7 million uninsured men and 15.3 million uninsured women, according to the fund.

Thursday, August 30, 2001

Under the Nuremberg Code of 1947 and the World Medical Associations Declaration of Helsinki, those seeking to conduct medical tests on human subjects must explain the purpose, risks and methods of the study and obtain each subject's voluntary consent to participate.

Families Sue Pfizer on Test of Antibiotic
During a meningitis epidemic in 1996, Pfizer treated 100 Nigerian children with the antibiotic Trovan as part of its effort to determine whether the drug, which had never been tested in children, would be an effective treatment for the disease. Pfizer treated 100 other children with ceftriaxone, the gold standard for meningitis treatment, but, the suit says, at a lower-than- recommended dose. Eleven children in the trial died, and others suffered brain damage, were partly paralyzed or became deaf.

Vanessa McGowan, a spokeswoman for Pfizer, said yesterday that the company had not yet seen the suit, which was filed in Federal District Court in Manhattan, and could not comment on the allegations. In the past, Pfizer has said that the number of deaths in the Nigerian Trovan trial was lower than the overall fatality rate for the meningitis epidemic and that the trial had been a philanthropic effort that benefited most of the sick children, not a self-serving effort to obtain quick clinical data, as the suit contends.

In early 1996, within weeks of learning about the meningitis epidemic from an Internet site, Pfizer, the world's largest pharmaceutical company, sent a six-member research team to the Infectious Disease Hospital in Kano, Nigeria, a strife- torn city suffering concurrent epidemics of bacterial meningitis, measles and cholera. The Pfizer team selected children for its test from the long lines of ailing people seeking care at the hospital.
"Pfizer took the opportunity presented by the chaos caused by the civil and medical crises in Kano to accomplish what the company could not do elsewhere — to quickly conduct on young children a test of the potentially dangerous antibiotic Trovan," said the suit, which was filed yesterday by Milberg Weiss Bershad Hynes & Lerach, a New York law firm that specializes in representing groups of plaintiffs against large corporations.

Pfizer conducted the trial at the same hospital where Doctors Without Borders, the Nobel Prize-winning relief organization, was already providing free treatment with chloramphenicol, the cheaper antibiotic that is internationally recommended for treating bacterial meningitis.

"Rather than provide the children with a safe, effective and proven therapy for bacterial meningitis," the suit said, "Pfizer chose to select children to participate in a medical experiment of a new, untested and unproven drug without first obtaining their informed consent, or explaining to the children or their parents that the proposed treatment was experimental and that they were free to refuse it and instead choose the safe, effective treatment for bacterial meningitis offered at the same site, free of charge, by a charitable medical group."

Wednesday, August 29, 2001

Wahmpreneur News Magazine: Website Security Heads Up For Small Business
August 20, 2001 -- Small businesses had better wake up and smell the coffee when it comes to their website security solutions, if a recently published article in Interactive Week is anything to judge by. Credit card fraud and identity theft have consumers concerned not only about perpetrators but also about the privacy practices of the merchants transacting business online.

According to the report, there is apparently growing sentiment among consumer advocacy groups and among politicians about the lack of consequences to online merchants whose shoddy security practices make it easy for hackers to steal sensitive information. The sentiment is understandable, to a degree. It is much easier to sue a business for its privacy practices than it is to catch the Romanian hacker that actually committed the theft of personal information.

And the issue gets hotter every time some high-profile company or institution gets their servers hacked into. Just this month, there was the highly publicized case of A hole in their security systems revealed more than 300 customer credit card numbers.

Monday, August 27, 2001

Growing Audience Is Turning to Established News Media Online "National sites will get more and more of a share of the news audience and the smaller sites will get less and less," predicted Vin Crosbie, president of the consulting firm Digital Deliverance.

The Web is still an ancillary news source for most people, after broadcasting and newspapers, Mr. Crosbie said. But he and other analysts also say that new-media news consumers, who tend to be younger than the audiences for traditional media, are increasingly going in search of old media online.

Sunday, August 26, 2001

Did Machete-Wielding Hutus Commit Genocide or Just 'Acts of Genocide'?
One of the issues administration officials debated behind the scenes was whether it was best to avoid using the word genocide to describe what was happening, as that might increase legal and political pressure to act. Documents disclosed last week by the National Security Archive show some of that debate. On May 21, 1994, Secretary of State Warren Christopher agreed to allow department officials to say that "acts of genocide have occurred," and on June 10, he finally flatly called it genocide. Between April 6, when the killing began, and July 4, when the Tutsi rebels took over the capital city of Kigali, an estimated 800,000 people were slaughtered.
Israel Hits Palestinian Posts in Response to Deadly Raids
Israel usually targets Palestinian security installations in its retaliatory strikes because it holds Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat ultimately responsible for attacks on Israelis. Israel says Arafat's security forces do little to rein in the militants, and sometimes participate in attacks on Israelis.

The Palestinians blame Israel for the violence, charging that its occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip is the cause, exacerbated by roadblocks and travel restrictions there. The Palestinians say their police and security are defending themselves against Israeli aggression.

Now the Palestinians charge that the United States is blatantly taking Israel's side in the conflict.

On Sunday, Palestinian police officers inspected the ruins of the four-story building in Gaza City that housed their headquarters, showing reporters a green metal fragment with yellow lettering that said ``for use on M-84'' -- referring to a one-ton bomb that, according to the Pentagon's Web site, can be fitted with a laser guiding device and carried by the U.S.-made warplanes used in the raids.

The Israeli military said only that the bomb was not a new type and has been used before. The U.S. air force dropped thousands of M-84 bombs on Iraq in the 1991 Gulf War.

U.S.-made Israeli attack helicopters hovered near Arafat's headquarters during the air strike, but they did not open fire. Returning to Gaza on Sunday after a trip to Asia, Arafat briefly toured a police structure that was shelled by Israeli tanks in Rafah, near the Egyptian border.

Asked Sunday about the legality of Israel's use of U.S. weapons against the Palestinians, a State Department
official expressed opposition to use of heavy weapons in urban areas, where the risk of casualties is high. Speaking on condition of anonymity, she said the State Department monitors the use of U.S. weapons to ensure they are used according to the terms of transfer under American law.
Palestinian Raids Kill 6 Israelis, Including 3 Soldiers at Gaza Base
The raid took place near Bedolah, part of a major bloc of Jewish settlements in southern Gaza known as Gush Qatif. Although the teeming Gaza Strip has been a Palestinian autonomous zone since 1994, significant stretches remain in Israeli hands, with the army in control of key intersections to protect an estimated 6,000 Israelis living in Gush Qatif and more isolated settlements. Like many army posts in Gaza, the one hit on Saturday was near an Israeli enclave.

Clashes between soldiers and Gazans have become routine over the last 11 months. But assaults like the one on Saturday are uncommon. It clearly rattled Israel's military.

"The specific incident reflects a new form of audacity that we hadn't yet witnessed," said Maj. Gen. Doron Almog, the army commander in southern Israel and Gaza.

Undetected, the raiders made their way across ditches and through the barbed-wire perimeter of the base, where they opened fire and threw hand grenades from close range at the soldiers, some of whom were asleep. A major, Gil Oz, 30, and a staff sergeant, Yaakov Nir, 21, were killed. An unidentified medic was fatally shot when he tried to give first aid to Major Oz. At one point, General Almog said, his soldiers and the Palestinians were locked in hand- to-hand combat.

In a firefight said to have lasted about 10 minutes, one Palestinian attacker was killed. The other got away, but was found several hours later, hiding in the greenhouses of a nearby settlement, Atzmona, where he was shot and killed.The two Palestinians were identified as Amin Abu Hatab, 26, and Hisham Abu Jamus, 24.

Saturday, August 25, 2001

Against Impossible Odds, Sojourners Magazine/September-October 2001
If you were an activist in apartheid-era South Africa, you could be pulled out of bed in the middle of the night and killed. But ordinary South Africans, though poor and oppressed, could still visit their mothers or join their buddies to play soccer, and generally they were able to move freely around the country. Palestinians, however, can't just wake up in the morning and decide to go visit a friend, or end the day by going to see the sunset at the water's edge. The theft of spontaneity. Jean Zaru told me she hadn't worked with her assistant face to face for three months, because they couldn't get in the same room at the same time. It was easier for international visitors to come to the Sabeel conference in Jerusalem than for local Palestinians to get there from their own villages and cities.

There is indeed Palestinian violence against Israeli settlements. Shootings and even mortar shells have been aimed into them. Some people have been killed, and the fear is very high. There have been casualties even among Israeli children. Two 14-year-old boys were found dead in a cave near their settlement, their bodies battered and mutilated with rocks, killed by Palestinians. And we've seen the results of suicide bombers, including at a Tel Aviv disco. In my opinion, attacks against civilian populations are terrorism. Such terror can never be justified. Never.
But the Israelis use such incidents to justify shelling Palestinians in massive, disproportionate retaliation. They've even resorted to bombing Palestinian targets with F-16 fighter planes. The casualties are enormous, including Palestinian children and infants caught in the middle of attacks against civilians that must also be called terrorist.

The Israeli army is shelling the most exposed houses in Palestinian villages directly from the settlements, knowing they're attacking unarmed civilians with families and children. I went into Palestinian homes that had been shelled, met the families. In one I saw the huge shell hole in the wall of the children's bedroom. The kids were scared that night, cowering in their parents' room down the hall, or they surely would have been killed.

By the end of June, 558 people had been killed in the current wave of violence—78 percent of them Palestinians (92 percent of those injured are Palestinians). More than 100 children under the age of 17 had died—86 Palestinian children, and 18 Israeli children. In a very moving moment at the start of the Sabeel conference, we named each victim of the violence, from all sides. Every individual life counts in God's eyes.

Movements are responsible for the images they project. When the Israeli military shot and killed 12-year-old Mohammed Dura in his father's arms as they cowered in fear against a wall in Gaza, the powerful images went around the world. But three days later, two Israeli soldiers were captured and lynched by angry Palestinians in the city of Ramallah in the West Bank. The image flashed around the world was that of bloody hands raised by an angry Palestinian mob over the lynched soldiers' mutilated bodies. If the images from Birmingham and Selma had been dead cops, we wouldn't have won the civil rights struggle in America.

There is no "symmetry" in the violence of the Middle East today. Israeli violence is enormously disproportionate to Palestinian violence. That includes the violence of the settlements and closure policies themselves and the Israeli military practices, especially in their retaliation against Palestinian attacks. Despite this lack of proportionality, there is no moral or strategic justification for the Palestinian violence in response to Israeli domination, especially when it targets civilians. No argument, even lack of symmetry, will suffice.

Thursday, August 23, 2001

3-Strikes Law Is Overrated in California, Study Finds
"The real impact of the law is a tremendous distortion of crime-control resources," Mr. Mauer said. "As the 25-year-to-life inmates stack up, California will be housing a disproportionate share of elderly inmates. We know that 50-year-olds commit far less crime than 25-year-olds, and every dollar going into housing a 50- year-old inmate is a dollar not going into dealing with a 16-year-old beginning to get into trouble."

Tuesday, August 21, 2001

Web Bugs Might Bite Back at Marketers
Some marketers may be violating their privacy policies or collecting consumer data without permission by using Web bugs on their Web sites, according to a study released this week.

Titled "Web Bugs -- A Study of the Presence and Growth Rate of Web Bugs on the Internet," the study was conducted by Internet site tracking firm Cyveillance Inc. Cyveillance gathered data from more than 1 million Web pages and compared a random sample of pages from 1998 and 2001.

Web bugs, also known as clear GIFs or 1-by-1 pixels, are graphics embedded in Web pages or in e-mail messages that can track site visitors or readers of e-mail.

While Web bugs can be used for such benign purposes as tracking the number of visitors to a Web page, its potential for collecting more detailed information worries privacy advocates.

The Privacy Foundation, a nonprofit consumer education group and privacy watchdog, has said the use of Web bugs is tantamount to illegal wiretapping.

Data that can be collected by Web bugs include IP addresses, the URL of the Web page location of the Web bug on it, the time and date it was served, the type of browser used to retrieve the Web bug and previously set cookie values.

It is through cookie values that marketers using Web bugs could collect data such as personally identifiable information and transactional information.

"The results of this study emphasize what we're seeing everyday -- companies want to earn and retain the trust of their customers, and an association with Web bugs has the potential to seriously undermine those efforts," Panos Anastassiadis, president/CEO of Cyveillance Inc., Arlington, VA, said in a statement.

Monday, August 20, 2001

Palestinian and His 2 Children in Day's Toll
Military checkpoints that dot the West Bank and Gaza Strip have come to embody the great divide between the two peoples since the start of the present conflict last September.

The effect of the blockades is to keep Palestinians virtually locked in their towns and villages for long stretches, making it difficult for them to get to work or even to go on simple excursions like shopping trips.

To Israel, the checkpoints are a necessary security measure, given the squads of suicide bombers that radical Islamic groups say are poised to attack Israeli cities. But Palestinians see only collective punishment. Inevitably, many of them look for ways around the barricades, finding them on back roads and paths that are also known to the Israelis, who often turn a blind eye. Mr. Abu Lawi was taking such a route today when the soldiers opened fire, killing him and wounding five other Palestinians.

Saturday, August 18, 2001

Yale and the Price of Slavery
Presentism is very often advanced in defense of America's founders. It is comforting to think that their generation, so distant in time from us, lived in a condition of moral ignorance, and thus innocence, regarding slavery. But that is not the case. Even Thomas Jefferson, some of whose statements exhibit an almost demented racism, could see clearly that slavery utterly compromised the nation: "I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that His justice cannot sleep forever," Jefferson wrote. "The Almighty has no attribute which can take side with us."

George Washington was an enthusiastic slaveholder in his early decades, buying slaves to build himself a plantation empire; but by the end of his life he found slavery repugnant. In his will Washington freed his slaves and specified that the children be educated, believing that with education and training the freed children of slaves could take a more fruitful and productive place in Virginia society. If we accept the statement that "it's downright inappropriate to render a moral judgment" on slavery, we are more willing to accept slavery than George Washington was.

If the founders had such misgivings over slavery, how is it that they allowed slavery to continue? The answer is not that they didn't know any better, but that they kept slavery so the Southern states would join the union. It was a transaction, a deal, just like the deal that put the national capital on the Potomac in exchange for the federal assumption of states' debts — and not unlike the deal the Hairstons made in causing their kin to disappear. With their eyes open, the founders traded away the rights of African-Americans, many of whom had fought bravely in the Revolution, so that the national enterprise could go forward.

Friday, August 17, 2001

Patent Laws May Determine Shape of Stem Cell Research
The patent, held by a foundation at the University of Wisconsin, is apparently the only one of its kind in the world, leaving the university in such a powerful position that next week the health officials will begin negotiations in hopes of reaching an agreement to allow federally financed scientists broad access to the cells.

The patent, which covers both the method of isolating the cells and the cells themselves, gives the Wisconsin foundation control over who may work in the United States with stem cells, and for what purpose. In turn, the foundation has granted important rights to a biotechnology company, the Geron Corporation of Menlo Park, Calif., giving that company considerable say over who ultimately profits from stem cell therapies.
Yahoo - Inability to Type Not a Disability 9th Circuit Rules
A newspaper reporter whose repetitive stress injuries have left her unable to use a computer keyboard isn't "substantially limited" in major life activities under the Americans With Disabilities Act, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday.

The 2-1 majority said Fresno Bee reporter Jacalyn Thornton didn't meet her burden of showing she was limited in her ability to work or perform manual labor.

"In this case, Thornton was able to perform a wide range of manual tasks, including grocery shopping, driving, making beds, doing laundry and dressing herself," wrote Judge Michael Daly Hawkins in Thornton v. McClatchy Newspapers, 01 C.D.O.S. 7070. "Her inability to type and write for extended periods of time is not sufficient to outweigh the large number of manual tasks that she can perform."

Monday, August 06, 2001

A Study's Verdict: Jury Awards Are Not Out of Control
A comprehensive study of nearly 9,000 trials across the country has found that judges award punitive damages about as often as juries and generally in about the same proportions.

The role of judges in awarding punitive damages was "surprisingly prominent," the study found, adding that moves to limit punitive awards by juries "may be a solution in search of a problem."
The study, believed to be one of the largest of punitive damage awards, challenges widely held ideas about jurors' decisions that have influenced state judges, legislators, Congress and even the United States Supreme Court.

Jury punitive damage awards, which are intended as punishment, have been a focus of particular criticism because of occasional huge awards that critics say have no relation to compensatory damages, which are intended to pay injured people for their losses.

A draft of the study, provided by the authors, said that judges and juries each awarded punitive damages in about 4 percent of the cases in which plaintiffs won.

The study, to be published in March in the Cornell Law Review, analyzed court statistics on 8,724 trials in 45 large trial courts across the country. It was conducted by two Cornell professors, Theodore Eisenberg and Martin T. Wells, and three analysts from the National Center for State Courts, an independent research group in Williamsburg, Va.

By showing that judges and juries generally have similar views of punitive damages, the study suggested that juries may be far less arbitrary than is widely believed, said Neil Vidmar, an authority on jury issues at Duke Law School who was not involved in the Cornell research but was familiar with it.

"It is novel," Professor Vidmar said, "because the conventional wisdom is juries are irresponsible, incompetent and don't know how to make an assessment."

The study is expected to be controversial not only because it concludes that jurors may be more rational than they were believed to be, but also because it contradicts other research.

Saturday, August 04, 2001

Susan Calcari
Susan Calcari 1956-2001

Susan Calcari was born on June 25th, 1956 in Iron Mountain, Michigan -- the daughter of Robert and Carol (Oien) Calcari. She graduated near the top of Iron Mountain High School's class of 1974 and went on to graduate with honors from Michigan Technological University in 1978. Shortly after graduating, she moved to San Francisco, where she began her career.

Susan was the founder and Executive Director of the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Internet Scout Project, which publishes the Scout Report and does research related to online resource discovery. The Scout Report is one of the Internet's longest-running and most respected publications.

From The Scout Report, Copyright Internet Scout Project 1994-2001.
con·cept: August 2001