On scandals, slime, cancer, beggers, etc

Ross Mackenzie
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Posted: Aug 09, 2002 12:00 AM
Looking over the landscape.... There it was in Investor's Business Daily - one of the astounding, abject statistics of the age. Please sit down. Of all American families with children, 27 percent consist of married couples and a single parent heads 73 percent. It is enough to make you weep for the future of our children - and of the nation itself. In May, after being sentenced to life without parole in an Alexandria federal courtroom for spying for Moscow, FBI guy Robert Hanssen finally got a chance to speak. He read a prepared statement. He apologized generally, said he had been shamed, said he had betrayed the trust of many, said he had subjected his family to calumny, said he had "deeply" hurt many. Noticeably missing was a single word about this great, good magnificent land. And speaking of slime, Lynne Stewart may qualify. A lawyer, she represents Omar Abdel Rahman - convicted of plotting to blow up New York City landmarks nearly a decade ago, including the World Trade Center. Federal prosecutors have charged her with passing messages from the blind bro' Rahman, imprisoned in Minnesota, to the Islamic Group - his gang of Egyptian terrorists. Among the messages allegedly were instructions to end a cease-fire and start shooting people. If barrister Stewart is proven guilty, she has debased the lawyer-client relationship down to its lowest level. Polls are suggesting the obvious: Sept. 11 - a terrorist attack on America - has increased the support of Americans for an Israel suffering almost daily terrorist attacks. Hardly a surprising development, which in turn suggests this: Why not declare Boss Yasser and the groups he oversees or abides to be parts of the international terror network - and deal with them as we deal with al-Qaida types and others of that ilk? As the dread Ariel Sharon asked shortly after 9/11: How do Osama and Yasser et al. behaviorally differ? Good News - these headlines, about cancer: (1) "New Gene Test May Provide Early Signs of Colon Cancer; Preliminary Data Hint at a Major Lifesaver." (2) "Test Finds Ovarian Cancer Early; Bethesda Firm's Invention Could Provide Reliable Screening." (3) "Molecular Structure of Two Cancer-Related Proteins Is Identified" - possibly the first step, according to one of the principal researchers, "toward the future development of novel therapeutic strategies." And (4) there's the encouraging news about Erbitux and related drugs. Notes The Wall Street Journal: Contrary to "traditional chemotherapy (that is) like swatting flies with a sledgehammer... (such drugs) are very specific in their action and work by disrupting the biochemical signals that cause tumors to grow. ... (They) could help make cancer a manageable, if not always curable, disease." Maybe it has occurred to you too, the similar inefficiencies of Amtrak and the Postal Service - both of which just can't seem to make it, and come around annually hitting up the taxpayers (Hey, Mister...) for just a little something. The New York Times reports more and more "high-achieving, well-off" high-school graduates "are stepping off the fast educational track, at least for a short stroll" before college. Ditto college students before or following graduation. "Burned out on books and begging for alternatives," they're taking usually a year off from the rigors of sex, booze, and academia to do something more meaningful in - you know - Alaska, Jackson Hole or Katmandu. Here's an "alternative" idea, not new in this space: a year of giveback universal service to the country - essentially civilian but with an eight-week military component. Oh, and given that the concept doesn't sell too well among the expanding year-off set, go ahead and include every 18- to 22-year-old, and make it compulsory - and make their day. The Catholic sex abuse scandal has most people outraged, but evidently not everyone - or at least not everyone for the same reasons. The University of Missouri's political science chairman Harris Mirkin is receiving renewed attention - not all of it favorable - for his 1999 article in The Journal of Homosexuality deploring the "panic over pedophilia" and saying, "I don't think (pedophilia) is something where we should just clamp our heads in horror." And Judith Levine has a new book out in which she advocates allowing 12- to-16-year-olds to have consensual intercourse with adults. She writes: "Sex is not ipso facto harmful to minors, and America's drive to protect kids from sex is protecting them from nothing. Adults owe children not only protection and a schooling in safety but also the entitlement to pleasure." And: "Laudable protective parental instincts notwithstanding, an intimate consensual sexual relationship, including one between minors, is private business." Just hours after a Palestinian suicide bomber killed 15 Israelis two months ago, the UN General Assembly condemned Israel's assault on centers of Palestinian terror. Fifty-four of the 189-nation assembly abstained and 57 were absent. Opposing the Arab resolution were four: Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, Israel and the United States. Supporting it, in case you were wondering, were these 74: Algeria, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cape Verde, Chile, China, Colombia, Cote d'Ivoire, Cuba, Cyprus, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Djibouti, Ecuador, Egypt, Eritrea, Gabon, Gambia, Guinea, Guyana, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Iran, Jamaica, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Morocco, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Philippines, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saint Lucia, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, Thailand, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Uruguay, Venezuela and Yemen.