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14A THE PALM BEACH POST SATURDAY, DECEMBER 6. 1997 The Palm Beach Post TOM GlUFFRIDA. Publisher EDWARD SEARS. Editor LON DANIELSON, General Manager TOM O'HARA. Managing Editor RANDY SCHULTZ. Editor of the Editorial Page JAN Tl'CKWOOD, Associate Editor GLOBAL WARMING? NO SWEAT TH15 TOM HIGHFIELD. T Circulation LARRY SIEDUK. VP & Treasurer GALE HOWDEN, Director, Community Relations BOB BALFE, Director, Production LINDA MURPHY, Director, Human Resources KEN WALTERS, Director, Marketing and Research Only testing will find good medicine for kids Children are not adults. They have different absorption rates. Some drugs interact differently in their bodies. Start the talks, start the healing I hope the president's next town meeting on race will be shown during prime time and that every community gets involved. President Clinton responded that racism may be influenced by those factors but is something more. He added that many well-educated people with money have bigoted hearts. And so the discussion went, with respectful acknowledgment of all views. At the end, President Clinton refused to summarize the discussion as requested. Rather, he asked that we view this meeting as "the beginning, not the end." We should all hope so. What we need is For years, pediatricians have asked pharmaceutical companies to test the safety and effectiveness of drugs in children as well as adults. This year, they finally got results, in part because of strong support from parents of HIV-positive children. ; "Parents of children with the AIDS virus saw how well protease inhibitors worked in adults and demanded they be teisted for children," says Dr. Bob Ward of the American Academy of Pediatrics. "Without effective treatment, their kids will die. But many other children in need of other medicines also will remain sick unless there is testing." The reason? Children are not miniature adults. They are growing and developing and have different absorption rates. Some drugs interact differently in thpir bodies. The pediatrics academy has long urged that every drug approved for illnesses that may occur in children be tested in children. ! But drug companies stonewalled. They weren't required to test drugs on children, though many drugs labeled only for adults are widely used in kids. The dilemma for pediatricians is this: Should they withhold a drug approved for adults since they're not positive what the effect will be on a child? Or should they do the math estimate that if this dose is correct for adults, it must be all right for kids? ! The reason for the drug companies' intransigence is simple. The hugely profitable companies refuse to spend the money. So this year, doctors looked for a financial incentive. Quaint view cean Ridge's obstructionism would not keep bicyclists off State Road A1A. It would just make life more dangerous for them. ! The state law that requires bicycle arid foot paths when a state highway is built or rebuilt would apply to Ocean Ridge's portion of A1A when it is repaved. That will not happen for at least five years, but Ocean Ridge already is seeking a way out. Commissioners think a designation as a scenic and historic highway is the way, and three of them Mayor George Sta-mos, Gail Aaskov and Chris O'Hare voted this week to pursue that course. Kenneth Kaleel was opposed, and Dig-by Bridges was absent. ! There was a lot of talk about how "quaint" and "significant" the road is. Yes, it is. One story is that the gentle curves north of Ocean Avenue were laid out by architect Addison Mizner, who tramped through what then was scrub in the 1920s with a handful of laths, sticking them into the ground at intervals to indicate where he wanted the center line to go. But there's no reason that bicycle paths 5 to 7 feet wide would destroy that charm. What they would do is relieve bicyclists of the worry of being hi! by cars, and drivers of the nuisance of "delay or the potential danger of crossing the center line in order to pass a cyclist. Mayor Stamos doesn't think that is Pay now or Florida Power & Light Co.'s biggest customer raises a sharp point. AmeriSteel of Tampa says it could save up to $1 billion in the next 10 years if FPL would stop paying off the costs of its plants so fast. . Other big and small customers would save, too, AmeriSteel said in challenging FPL rates before the Public Service Commission. The steel maker says average residential customers would save about $4 a month. FPL customers will pay for its investment in plants sooner or later, the argument goes. Why not later? ? That argument is based on what pdwer companies are and were but not what they will be. They are regulated monopolies. They will be competing with other companies. Fifteen states- not Florida yet have started down the' road toward making electric power as' Competitive as telephones. On that rdtd, a bump crops up. It's called "Stranded costs." ! Here is what that means: As in telephones, FPL's competitors will compete, at least at first, by using FPL's own power or lines. As with telephones, they will buy from FPL wholesale and sell to customers retail and try to edge out the established company with better rates, better packages of deals or better service. Who will pay off the borrowing FPL did to build the plants to a at for the as out bet eat Writers who participated were particularly helpful. Abigail Thernstrom, coauthor of America in Black and White, insisted that the achievements of blacks indicate that America is transcending problems of race that warrant government intervention. An anti-affirmative-action advocate, she believes the major remaining problem is pessimism. David Shipler, author of A Country of Strangers: Blacks and Whites in America, explained that the problems of race are more complex than ever before. Racism is a shape-shifter, now more subtle, encrypted, more underground. He warned, "Optimism is too close to complacency, pessimism too close to resignation." Two Akron ministers one black, one white have formed a partnership that allows members of their congregations to come together to study, worship and celebrate together. They emphasized that only when people can talk without fear of being labeled racist will they be open and honest. The black minister suggested that the challenge is not to abandon affirmative remedies but to create some that will "bring intentional change fairly." But a white college student who respects the dialogue the ministers have established said his experience has been that some churches encourage bigotry. Latinos asserted that issues of race apply to more than blacks and whites. Some on the panels and in the audience argued that poor education and poverty, not racism, are the cause of race tensions. was coming Prime Minister Tony Blair The compromise agreed to was included in the Food and Drug Modernization Act of 1997, signed last month by President Clinton. It gives drug companies six months of market exclusivity in return for doing the testing. Dr. Ward says that's worth millions of dollars to drug companies. Yet drug companies still find excuses. One suggested that children could be harmed in clinical trials and that the resulting lawsuits would increase drug prices for everyone. Dr. Ward says a drug's safety would be determined first in adults. No drug would be tested in healthy children, only in sick children who need it. Parents would volunteer. Children would be monitored. "For parents, it's often a choice between no treatment for a seriously ill child or an unproven treatment," Dr. Ward says. Most would be glad to try a new treatment that might ease their child's suffering. The Clinton administration is right to support testing drugs for children. Now Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala needs to make sure the drug companies don't weasel out of their responsibility. of cyclists Ocean Ridge officials say their road should be different. They mean: more dangerous for bicycles and cars. problem. Evidently, he hasn't tried to ride a bicycle on A1A. He also thinks there already is a bicycle path beside the road, but that path is a sidewalk, and walkers do not mix well with cyclists. A1A is an ideal road for bicycle paths. It is scenic, as Ocean Ridge points out, and it is not as heavily traveled as many other highways. Bicycle paths have been completed recently each end of the county, in Boca Raton and in Juno Beach and Jupiter, and riders already appreciate the difference. The danger in Ocean Ridge, in more ways than one, is that politics will win out over reason. That already has happened in Gulf Stream, where the state Legislature allowed the town to replant noxious Australian pines along A1A even though other species of trees would create a scenic canopy without poisoning other plants. Some in Ocean Ridge undoubtedly believe that by keeping bicycle paths out they will be discouraging "undesirable outsiders" from sullying their' town. But the cyclists already are there, and they aren't going to go away. pay later Anyone who expects power plant costs to be spread evenly hasn't heard lawyers for the new 'competitors.' serve its customers now that they are serving competitors' customers, too? If it's only FPL, it will have to get the money from its customers, after the big accounts are gone, and those fewer customers will pay for everybody. Anyone who thinks the charges can be spread equitably hasn't seen the lawyers for the new competitors argue that the original builder should be stuck with the costs, or at least the biggest share. Nor has he seen the support publicists free enterprise give that position, in unexamined assumption that the former monopolies, having been regulated by government, are as inefficient government is said to be. The costs of capital investment become "stranded," where no one wants them. With that problem headed toward Florida, FPL, with the PSC's encouragement, has been trying to get rid of as much debt as it can before the fight over who'll pay it begins. That's taking a bite of everybody. But you can almost that whatever's left of the debt will up only somef unlucky customers. W ednesday at the University of Akron, for almost two hours, President Clinton discussed race with panels of students, authors and ministers. No problems were solved, no policies proposed, no consensus reached about anything. Still, the meeting was historic: For the first time, a president of the United States had the courage to engage citizens in public dialogue about race without riots or burning cities. This town meeting (televised on C-SPAN) was the first of a series to be held around the country as a part of the President's Initiative Stebbins Jefferson on Race. Mr. Clinton began this emphasis in June when he announced race issues would be a major focus of his second term. He appointed a seven-member advisory board and charged it with developing strategies for promoting understanding between ethnic groups. The president recommended that the panel develop a "compendium" of efforts in different communities to foster racial harmony and to publish the best programs as models for other communities. Cynics insist Mr. Clinton's Race Initiative will turn out to be a warm, fuzzy, feelgood exercise, signifying nothing. Skeptics say talk without action can do nothing to improve the racial climate and, indeed, could generate more tensions. But the public forum Mr. Clinton led provided a model for other communities. At the beginning, the moderator established rules. No answers would be "wrong." There would be no applause. These requirements helped free the participants to share their thoughts about race. Guess who With a mother who brings home stray adults, it's routine to run into the future prime minister of Britain and his bag of dirty laundry. By Margaret Webb Pressler ome people bring home strays. My mother brings home orphans. By orphans, I don't mean young, parentless children whom my mother raises as her own; I mean full-grown adults, groups of adults or even families. The people my mother collects are circumstantial orphans they are new in town, their accommodations fell through, a spouse is away, or some other such situation leaves them in need of . . . well, a mother. Many of these orphans are men, which says something about the charm my Southern-bred mother possesses. They range from handyman types to visiting diplomats; you just never know who's going to be under her hospitable wing. Some of these orphans become longtime friends, but many enter and leave my mother's life with the arrival and passage of some crisis. She wonders about them for years. But some go on to do great things that she later hears about. Like Tony. Just how Tony Blair came to be one of my mother's orphans is a story that involves the future British British ill II I 1 prime laundry bedroom When in a and my history I had known didn't this was Now Blair in Diana, I think laundry, from that Many mother through real-estate her life in Beppe more open, honest discussions of our racial ills. Akron has developed a "Coming To gether Project that teaches groups from churches, civic organizations and businesses how to form alliances and engage in dialogue in a disciplined, systematic way on an ongoing basis. Only such a commitment will allow people of different backgrounds to get to know each other, eliminate fears of each other and grow together. I hope the president's next town meeting will be held in prime time and carried by every network, instead of being a sound bite on the evening news. I hope every town, church and community organization will become involved. All of us are too comfortable with our racial prejudices. We have internalized misinformation and stereotypes about each other and ourselves that control our personal lives and our institutions. To end this alienation, we must find the courage to put our fears about race on the table for objective examination. That exposure is sure to cause pain on all sides. But as one Akron resident said, the answers to our dilemma are somewhere in the pain. As hard as it will be to open our minds and really listen to each other, we must dare to share our pain. The alternative is to let it choke us to death. H , Stebbins Jefferson is a columnist for The Palm Beach Post. ' to dinner But the family wanted to find someplace a little more relaxed to stay on this Labor Day weekend, so my mother got a call from a friend who organizes tours, who wanted to know whether she could find the visitors an apartment for the weekend. My mother duly found them a flat on Capitol Hill, picked them up and drove them there. It being Labor Day, she also invited the Blairs over for a barbecue. This being America, she also suggested they bring their laundry. They were undoubtedly too shocked to turn her down. When the Blairs showed up, bags of laundry in tow, Tony Blair and my mother got to work loading the washer. "Utterly down to earth" is how she described him. ! After dinner, my mother insisted that the Blairs borrow my parents' enormous , green Ford that, to a Brit, must've looked like a tank. ; This way, my mother explained, they could make their own schedule in West Virginia and have a look, perhaps, at Skyline Drive. Days later, the Blairs returned, dropped off the car, thanked my mother profusely and made their way back home. "Come to England!" they said. "We'll give you a tour of Parliament!" But the way these things often work out, you don't take people up on their offers. My mother moved on, and like many men before him, Tony Blair became just another in a . long list of orphans I never ' even knew my mother had. : Until one day he got famous, ; and I got to tell the tale. B Margaret Webb Pressler is a staff writer for The Washington Post. minister doing his family's off my parents' in Cleveland Park. Mr. Blair was elected landslide last spring mother recounted her with him, about which nothing, I almost believe it. Then again, my mother. every time I see Mr. the news mourning negotiating peace about his dirty which is different of most politicians. of the people my meets, she picks up her activities as a agent. This part of was immortalized recently a book written by Severgnini, an Italian journalist who came with his wife to Washington for a year and fell under my mother's care from almost his first day here. He went home and wrote Un Italiano in America, in which he detailed several of his dealings with my "sweetly authoritative" mother. "L'agente-mamma," he calls her. Anyway, back to Tony Blair. Ten years ago or so, Mr. Blair was a member of Parliament and came to Washington on his way to West Virginia to tour coal mines. The trip was organized by the AFL-CIO, which housed Mr. Blair, his wife, his two young children and a nanny in a Washington hotel.