October 29, 2010


Prison Economics Help Drive Ariz. Immigration Law (Laura Sullivan, 10/28/10, NPR)

Last year, two men showed up in Benson, Ariz., a small desert town 60 miles from the Mexico border, offering a deal.

Glenn Nichols, the Benson city manager, remembers the pitch.

"The gentleman that's the main thrust of this thing has a huge turquoise ring on his finger," Nichols said. "He's a great big huge guy and I equated him to a car salesman."

What he was selling was a prison for women and children who were illegal immigrants.

"They talk [about] how positive this was going to be for the community," Nichols said, "the amount of money that we would realize from each prisoner on a daily rate."

But Nichols wasn't buying. He asked them how would they possibly keep a prison full for years — decades even — with illegal immigrants?

"They talked like they didn't have any doubt they could fill it," Nichols said.

That's because prison companies like this one had a plan — a new business model to lock up illegal immigrants. And the plan became Arizona's immigration law.

Sink Pink: A new book takes down Breast Cancer Awareness Month. (Katherine Russell Rich, Oct. 29, 2010, Slate)
Breast Cancer Awareness Month has become a distracting sideshow, a situation that sociologist Gayle A. Sulik explores in compelling depth in her new book, Pink Ribbon Blues. Sulik argues that despite the $1 billion raised over the years by pink-clad volunteers on hikes, despite the greater billions the U.S. plows into related research each year, science has failed to make any real progress in the fight against breast cancer. All the hoopla and boosterism of Breast Cancer Awareness Month leaves the impression that important work is being done, but in fact, in the time since the war on cancer was declared 40 years ago, things have gotten worse. "The stats are dismal," she writes.

Sulik's is strong and disturbing. A woman now has a 1-in-8 chance of getting breast cancer in her lifetime. In 1975, the figure was 1-in 11. The risk of dying from the disease, upon diagnosis, decreased just .05 percent from 1990 to 2005. A woman with breast cancer today will be bombarded with many more treatments and spend a lot more than her grandmother might have on care, but she'll have about the same chance of dying from the illness as women did 50 years ago.

But the pink ribboned are unfazed by these statistics. Or more likely, unaware of them. "Survivors and supporters walk, run, and purchase for a cure as incidence rates rise, and the cancer industry thrives," Sulik writes. She points out that "cancer drugs are the fastest growing and best selling class of drugs" in the prescription drug market, which totals more than $200 billion and is ever growing. Given the profits, Sulik questions whether any amount of pink-ribbon volunteering can alter the medical establishment's investment the current treatments. Who needs a cure if you can make so much money without one?

If that sounds shady, National Breast Cancer Awareness Month itself has a dubious provenance. It was established by the American Cancer Society with funding from the pharmaceutical giant Zeneca. The company continues to underwrite and direct publicity for this month's breast cancer early detection campaign while also manufacturing the pesticides and insecticides that cause breast cancer.

If God didn't want them sheared....

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 29, 2010 5:27 AM
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