Rachel's Democracy & Health News #862
Thursday, July 6, 2006
From: Rachel's Democracy & Health News #862 ..........[This story printer-friendly]
July 6, 2006
THE BEMIDJI STATEMENT ON SEVENTH GENERATION GUARDIANSHIP
[Rachel's introduction: 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.]
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
Shawna Larson, Environmental Justice Coordinator, IEN/Alaska Community Action on Toxics, Anchorage, AK 99503 USA, Tel: 907.222.1714, Email: firstname.lastname@example.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: email@example.com Web: www.ienearth.org
From: Reuters Health .....................................[This story printer-friendly]
June 22, 2006
CADMIUM LINKED TO BREAST CANCER
[Rachel's introduction: 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.]
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
From: HealthDay News ......................................[This story printer-friendly]
June 26, 2006
PESTICIDES LINKED TO 70% INCREASED RISKS FOR PARKINSON'S DISEASE
[Rachel's introduction: A new study reconfirms earlier findings, that pesticide exposure is linked to Parkinson's disease.]
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.
From: Louisville (Ky.) Courier-Journal ...................[This story printer-friendly]
June 29, 2006
FACING CITY'S HEALTH INEQUITIES
[Rachel's introduction: 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.]
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.
From: Guerrilla News Network .............................[This story printer-friendly]
May 26, 2005
TIME FOR PROGRESSIVES TO GROW UP
Beyond Lakoff's Strict Father vs. Nurturant Parent, A Strong Community Manifesto
[Rachel's introduction: 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.]
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.
From: New Statesman .......................................[This story printer-friendly]
June 12, 2006
AMERICA'S ROBOT ARMY
[Rachel's introduction: 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.]
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.
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.
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