The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida on December 1, 1997 · Page 15
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The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida · Page 15

West Palm Beach, Florida
Issue Date:
Monday, December 1, 1997
Page 15
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THE PALM BEACH POST MONDAY, DECEMBER 1, 1997 15A ' Destroying Iraq's biological weapons doesn't end the threat In case vou feel the need for some 1 1 thing to bring you down from the holiday A i! A - .1 . il George McEvoy disturbing the mustard gas, which could be left sealed inside the shell until a safe disposal method could be found. But other experts say removing the warheads would not be easy, and the risk might be too great Then there's the matter of where such a dangerous undertaking could be performed. At present, the shells are stored in 102 earth-covered chambers. The Army has proposed defusing the projectiles in an aging building on depot grounds, but critics say such a structure could not handle an accidental explosion. They say a bomb-proof bunker should be built for the purpose. Colorado officials have brought enough pressure on the federal government to make the Army agree to do a more detailed study of the risks involved before going ahead with the project In other words, it's back to the drawing board. Meanwhile, the shells sit there, moldering with age, the explosives more volatile with each passing day. And that's only one such storage At others, there are shells filled with phosgene and similar gases, as well as mustard, plus our own supply of germ warfare weapons. For the moment, the main problem facing the U.S. is the fact that a military madman such as Hussein might have the ability to eradicate humankind from the face of the earth, and that has to be attended to first But even if we can work out a way of preventing him from doing that without our use of nuclear weapons, we will still be stuck with our own stockpiles. That's the trouble with producing bigger and deadlier weapons. Sooner or later, they get too powerful and take on a life of their own. Not that I mean to throw a damper on the merriment that accompanies this time of the year. This should be a time of hope and optimism. But keep your fingers crossed anyway. George McEvoy is a columnist for The Palm Beach Post. t f .S i L . : : .- --. sprits mat are upon us, consider mis it by some near-miracle, we were able to find all of Saddam Hussein's poison gas arid biological weapons sites and destroy them, we would still be stuck with our own deadly stockpiles. . Not that destroying Hussein's lethal supply would be as easy as 1-2-3, bombs away. ! " How does one blow up gas shells or lanthrax missiles without releasing the contents into the atmosphere? ( Some experts say we could use bombs that would generate so much heat, they would destroy the targeted gas pr germs upon explosion. But what, short of a nuclear weapon, could do that? During the Vietnam War, we destroyed villages to save them. Would we try to save the world from poison gas or germs by spewing radiation into the atmosphere? ! Even if all that could be done safely, however, we would still have our own tiger by the tail. At a World War II installation 14 miles least of Pueblo, Colo., according to the Chicago Tribune, the U.S. Army has 800,000 rounds of artillery shells filled with mustard gas. That's an even deadlier version of the mustard gas used to kill thousands and blind thousands more in the trenches of the First World War. Exposure to high concentrations also can cause cancer in humans. These shells were manufactured during the 1950s, and some already may be leaking. The Army has been trying to figure out how to get rid of the shells for more than a decade. In the meantime, it must find a safer way to store them. Recently, Army officials came up with the suggestion that the explosive components could be removed without Mr. Hussein Give pregnant teens more options v It is time to reconsider the Racism is like being trapped inside a prism When I recently read that the Tawana Brawley mess is still with us, thanks to a $170 million defamation suit brought by one of the men her lawyers claimed raped her, I didn't want to believe it Hours later, when I found myself standing outside a locked store my face pressed against the glass as three saleswomen busily ignored me I didn't want to believe it either. But that's the way things are. Annoying experiences, like mine at the store, can and do happen to everyone. What Ms. Brawley said happened to her 10 years ago abduction, rape and humiliation shouldn't happen to anyone. The incidents have nothing in common until viewed through the prism of race. Peer through the prism, and magic happens: People are transformed into symbols. Their flesh-and-blood melts away; all you see is what they represent. Most of us see through the prism at some point Due to painful experiences with prejudice, Americans who are black learn to constantly see life through a racial prism, and to become hyper-aware that they are being perceived through it. At times, it seems we're inside the prism, trapped in a circus-mirror landscape where at any moment, racism could rearrange the view. Those who ask, "Must everything be about race?" haven't lived in the prism, where common occurrences a waiter's scowl, a saleswoman's suspicion, being overlooked for a job becomes question: "Was it because I'm black?" Donna Britt Ironically, that evening at the store the answer was "no." The women studiously ignoring me were African American, like me. Racism had nothing to do with how they coolly gestured through the glass that the shop was closed. Racism didn't make them ignore that it was at least five minutes before closing time or that I was still there, shivering. . v After a few maddening minutes, I left .. Peering through the prism, I wondered: If a white or Asian merchant had treated the women the way they treated me, what would they have called it? In 1987, the racial implications of Ms. Brawley's tale seemed clear. Then 15, the New York girl was found in a plastic bag, smeared with feces, her hair yanked out with "KKK" scrawled on her torso. A white cop, she said, raped her. The world recoiled, rallying to her support. Nine months later, a grand jury armed with overwhelming evidence ruled Ms. Brawley's assault a hoax the desperate act, some said, of a child trying to escape violent punishment by someone she knew. Ms. Brawley's supporters cried conspiracy. At the center of the charges was Steven : existing atmosphere in which J frightened young women now 1' . confront the realities of ' pregnancy. The time has come to i offer them something more. '- By Carol Sanger The headline has become so familiar that it almost fails to shock: "Newborn Found Dead in Gas Station (or Dormitory or Public Toilet); ' Teen Mom in Custody." But shock it does. And so with each grisly -, report we try to make sense of behavior that ' seems incomprehensible. How could any young woman think it better to kill her newborn than to choose one of the alternatives, whether adop- : tion, abortion or motherhood? What logic, what train of thought could explain her decision to do such an awful thing? I Two answers have been suggested. One is grounded in psychology, the other in morality. Psychologists report that for many such young mothers killing the infant is the end ; - point in a long and elaborate process of denial. . Young women who cannot cope with the im- - plications of their pregnancy block out the . physical signs and symptoms and proceed as if , they were not pregnant. This kind of strong denial does not excuse, but helps to explain, the apparent brazenness of killing a baby at a prom. If a girl has decided she is not pregnant, it doesn't matter where labor starts it isn't real-, , ly happening. Of course, at some level the preg-, nant teenager knows. She arranges aspects of her life, however subconsciously: loose clothes, reduced contact with parents, no medical care, . no tests to confirm the pregnancy. To some, any talk of "denial" is sheer nonsense. How can a young woman not know that she is pregnant? But denial differs from stupidi-' ty. It is a psychological state in which one suppresses the very thing one thinks is true. This should not be hard for adults to understand. Many of us are masters of denial: The marriage is fine: My kid's not on drugs or gay or depressed. Like pregnant teenagers, adults are also good at denying physical symptoms. Consider the breast lump that is "just nothing"; the nightly trips to the bathroom that have nothing to do with prostate problems. For unmarried high school students, the looming consequences of pregnancy are immediate as well as long term. Acknowledging a pregnancy requires many girls from all sorts of families to admit to their parents that they have been sexually active. For some, this revelation is as dreaded as the pregnancy itself. - Consider also the slow-rising panic that accompanies the knowledge that single teenage motherhood will irrevocably change the direction and the promise of whatever nonmaternal version of young adulthood these teenagers had imagined for themselves. There is, however, another and less complicated explanation for these recent infant deaths. It is that girls who kill their newborn babies suffer from nothing more than pure wickedness. They have acted not out of confusion or dazed panic, but out of the most depraved instincts. This argument, as recently set out by columnist George Will, offers a reason for the increase in depravity among young women. Mr. Will argues that legal abortion has created a culture of death and decadence. In such a culture, it is only a small step from an abortion to killing a live and inconvenient newborn. But Mr. Will and others have the cause and effect of such acts exactly backward. It is not the legalization of abortion but its demonization that hobbles young women as they try to work through the moral complexities of unwanted pregnancy. If anti-abortion activists have succeeded in anything in recent years, it has been to create a climate of condemnation and fear: Doctors are killers who deserve to be killed; embryos are children; mothers are murderers. Abortion also is stigmatized in more concrete ways: An increasing number of hospitals and doctors will not perform abortions; many states require teenagers to ask a judge for permission for an abortion; abortions for poor women are not covered under Medicaid; abortion clinics and their patients are picketed (not to mention bombed). And it is here that the moral and psychological explanations for infant murders converge. One effect of the "killer-murderer-just-try-to-get-one" approach to abortion has been to freeze pregnant young women in their tracks. Girls who decide that motherhood is not in the best interests of anyone also know that such a decision may not be easily implemented. By denying the complexity of abortion decisions abortion opponents contribute to the fraught panic-stricken atmosphere in which deadly denial becomes possible. Better not talk this over with anyone. Better wish this whole thing away. Of course, the strategy works only temporarily and, as we know, it sometimes exacts gruesome costs. Babies are born with no medical assistance, a danger in itself. Some are then left in the open. Others are hidden. It is time to reconsider the existing atmosphere in which frightened young women now confront the realities of pregnancy and time to offer them something more. No one wants kids to be be having sex or getting pregnant. But the inevitability of these events is to some extent out of adult hands. What is still within adult power, however, is the ability indeed, the obligation to provide a safe forum and a calm framework in which teenagers can consider the moral complexities of pregnancy in ways that acknowledge and explore, rather than vilify, the legal alternatives to motherhood. Carol Sanger is a professor at Columbia University Law School. She wrote this article for Newsday. Pagones, 6b, now an assistant New York state attorney general. Mr. Pagones was an assistant district attorney when he was repeatedly branded as Ms. Brawley's rapist by her representatives, Al Sharpton, Alton Maddox Jr. and C. Vernon Ma r f 1 i ifflftn son. Mr. Pagones lawsuit against them has worked its way through the courts since 1988. Finally, a billionaire who checks his ego at the door I have met egomaniacal rich guvs i like Donald Trump, who thinks every ; woman wants him and every politician fears him. person a check for $1 million, on the condition that the Samaritan never be revealed. The American Benefactor says Mr. Feeney may soon become the greatest I have met plain old maniacal rich I guys like Ted Turner, who can prom ise to give away a billion bucks as spontaneously as he can brag about his love life with Jane Fonda. American giver of all time. He is ahead of Ted Turner, says Randy Jones, The Benefactor's chairman, because Mr. Feeney has given "hard, cold cash, the check has cleared, the work is being done." Maureen Dowd But I had never met a billionaire who is shy and retiring, who doesn't lown a house, a car or a Rolex, who LA iM What I wonder, does Mr. Ms. Brawley Pagones hope to gain? Money? Mr. Maddox's license to practice law was suspended in 1990 after he refused to cooperate with an investigation into whether he impeded justice in the Brawley case, and Mr. Mason was disbarred in 1995 for professional misconduct. Anyone who does a slow burn outside a store after a slight can't deny Mr. Pagones' right to fire up a lawsuit If the grand jury was correct who could blame a father of three for being outraged at at being branded as a rapist by men who said they could prove the allegations but never did? But I believed Ms. Brawley until a trusted black friend, who'd covered the story from its inception, told me he was certain she'd lied, and why. Now I wonder what it is like to be Ms. Brawley another symbol, damned by those who've proclaimed her a fraud, doubly damned if she ever admits to a truth that doesn't feed the race-fueled rage of her supporters. No wonder she shuns the media now living under an assumed name in Prince George's County, Md. Years later, questions filter through our collective prisms. If we hadn't heard that racism fueled whatever horror happened to Ms. Brawley would we have cared? People are brutalized every day by those who look like them. They re dissed in small, painful ways by fellow blacks, Latinos and whites, and few notice The same acts, viewed through our prisons I mean prisms get the world in a snit Unbelievable. But that's the way things are. B Donna Britt is a columnist for The Washington i osL w Donald Keough, the chairman of Allen & Co., called it "mind-boggling" that this self-made billionaire from a working-class New Jersey family "will surpass the Mellons, the Rockefellers, the du Ponts in his charitable giving." Like Ted Turner, Mr. Feeney was angry that the richest Americans give such a small percentage of their incomes. He was thrilled to be dropped from Forbes's list of the richest Americans this year because he had given so much money away. But unlike the Mouth from the South, this "raggedy-trousered philanthropist," as one friend calls him, would never scream that Bill Gates and Warren Buffett were "ol" skinflints." He was reluctantly dragged into the spotlight last January, after the sale of the duty-free shops he helped found was about to make the information public. He was so little known that one network put up a photo of the wrong person. You would never pick him out in a room. He is a small man with a nondescript blue suit, a clipped Jersey accent and amused blue eyes. I ask him if he's nervous at his first public appearance. "Well, they promised me $20 to make the speech," he kids. - When someone tells me a bill is sticking out of my purse, I don't want Mr. Feeney to think I'm addled, so I assure him that it's only a dollar. . "It's still money," he chides me gently. "Money is money." I want to ask him if relatives were angry that he'd scattered so many millions that could have been theirs. But I can see that he is surrounded by his proud family. His speech is awkward and endearing, the halting effort of someone not used to the limelight. He urges the Irish-American business community to give away more money, and talks about his role encouraging the cease-fires in Northern Ireland. He also finances Sinn Fein's Washington office. He tells about how, as a student at Cornell, he got a pop quiz in a course on money and banking. "I got my paper back with a note from the professor: Tou have a flair for writing, but no knowledge of the subject matter. Consider journalism.' " Afterward, the other corporate chieftains leave 21 and climb into waiting black limos. Mr. Feeney, in an old gray raincoat and Irish tweed cap, tramps off on foot. Maureen Dowd is a columnist for The New York Times. Jikes to take the subway and fly econ-' pmy, who worries about the price of i carrots, who gives away a lot of his I money because, as he puts it, "you can t only wear one pair of shoes at a time." So I trotted over to the 21 Club, where Irish America Magazine was honoring Charles Feeney, a 66-year-old businessman who has given away By Mr. Feeney's Mr. Feeney standards, Bill Gates isn't even on the charts. Michael Sovern, president emeritus of Columbia University, who is on the board of one of Mr. Feeney's charitable foundations, compares him to St. Francis. "When we go to Bermuda, he makes the board fly coach," Mr. Sovern says. "And he won't go to a restaurant there anymore that tried to make him wear a tie." Mr. Feeney does not act out of an aristocratic sense of noblesse oblige. He acts on the idea that our great pursuit of more stuff is silly, that quantity is the American vice, that people need only what they need. $610 million in anonymous donations to universities, medical centers and others in need. Mr. Feeney's desire for anonymity is startling in this day and age. Here was the real-life John Beres- tord Tipton on the old television show The Millionaire, whose face was never seen as he instructed his personal secretary to give s?me unsuspecting

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