Category Archives: Resources

Naomi Klein: Capitalism, a threat to humanity

And not just to humans, but to all the other critters with whom we share this small, bright blue sphere.

In this interview with Amanda Lang of CBC News, Naomi Klein, whose writing helped paved the way to the Occupy movement and a growing revolt against economic inequality, says the threat is capitalism itself, an ideology which sees the acquisition of wealth as an end in itself.

Klein’s latest book, This Changes Everything, Capitalism vs the Climate, was hailed by the New York Times as “the most momentous and contentious environmental book since Silent Spring.”

From CBC News:

Naomi Klein – The Exchange with Amanda Lang

Program note:

Amanda interviews author, activist and environmentalist Naomi Klein on her theory that capitalism is to blame for climate change.

Video: Confronting the AIDS epidemic in Tijuana

And important and troubling documentary about battling the spread of AIDS just south of the California border, via University of California Television:

HIV/SIDA: Epidemic in Tijuana

Program notes from the UC San Diego News Center:

The new documentary “HIV/SIDA: The Epidemic in Tijuana” offers an unflinching look at the challenges facing researchers from the University of California, San Diego as they attempt to identify and treat people who inject drugs, sex workers, transgender women and others who are at high risk for HIV infection in Tijuana. The program. . .was shot over two years.

The documentary is split into four episodes, each telling a piece of the HIV/AIDS story in Tijuana. The series starts in El Bordo, a neighborhood of injecting drug users in the Tijuana River Canal, and then moves to Prevencasa where UC San Diego and Mexican medical students offer free care at the Health Frontiers in Tijuana clinic. From there, it turns its focus to a tattoo removal clinic and then a telemedicine program that connects patients with remotely located HIV doctors. The series continues with poignant stories and photos of people living with HIV and concludes with a wrap of what it would take to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Tijuana.

“HIV/SIDA” is organized around the research of UC San Diego epidemiologist Steffanie Strathdee, who is the chief of UC San Diego’s division of Global Public Health, UCSD psychologist Tom Patterson and their binational team of doctors, nurses and healthcare outreach workers. Their research has shown that Tijuana’s prevalence of HIV is three times higher than in Mexico at large. Strathdee said the documentary is a call to action to address the epidemic in a strategic and coordinated manner.

“It’s possible to end AIDS in Tijuana, but we need to take a broader look. Mexico as a whole should see Tijuana as a window for what could be the HIV epidemic for the rest of the country,” she said. “I also believe it shouldn’t just be Mexico’s responsibility to stop this epidemic because we have a shared population across the border. We need a binational response.”

The binational nature of Tijuana’s epidemic is reflected in the series title as SIDA is the Spanish term for AIDS, the acronym for síndrome de inmunodeficiencia adquirida.

“HIV/SIDA” was made possible through a grant from the Ford Foundation. UCTV Producer Shannon Bradley based the video series on Tomorrow Is a Long Time, a photo essay book with vignettes by photographer Malcolm Linton and Jon Cohen, two long-time collaborators who have travelled to more than 30 countries to document the HIV/AIDS epidemic for Science magazine.

Cohen said there is already a recipe for how to end the AIDS epidemic, which includes:

  • Identifying where high-risk groups congregate and then saturating those locales with rapid HIV testing and distributing educational materials as well as condoms, clean needles and syringes.
  • Testing all pregnant women.
  • Offering circumcision to men.
  • Connecting those who test positive with counselors who can emphasize the importance of treatment and not infecting others.
  • Providing antiretrovirals to all those infected with HIV and having case workers oversee their treatment so they achieve undetectable viral loads, which makes transmission to others less likely.
  • Offer antiretrovirals as preventatives to high-risk groups as a way to reduce transmission.

“We all know the recipe for ending AIDS,” Cohen said, “but it’s not happening aggressively enough in Tijuana. Could we do this? Could we break the back of the epidemic and get to the point where one person isn’t infecting another? Absolutely. The tools exist.”

Chart of the day: Canadians oppose Keystone

Wealthy Canadians and members of the Conservative Party favor the transnational tar sands oil pipeline, while the majority of Canadians oppose it, save for those in the Province of Alberta, site of the tar sands deposits, according to this new survey from the Pew Research Center [PDF]:

Microsoft Word - Pew Research Center Canada Report FINAL October

John Oliver on America’s mentally ill

Plus a qualification. . .

The very concept of mental illness remains a fraught subject for discourse, both for those to whom the term is applied and for those making the application.

Historically, stigmatizing labels have often been used to punish, banish, and even kill and used to incite mob violence. Just as a weed is a plant out of place, to quote my favorite college prof, so many of today’s mentally ill may be people who would fit comfortably into now-vanished societal niches where they wouldn’t be considered other than normal. And in the inverse conditions, men and women who once were considered sexual deviants and now joining the societal mainstream and are courted by advertisers.

Consider a mental illness diagnosis reported by the New York Times:

In 1851, Dr. Samuel A. Cartwright, a Louisiana surgeon and psychologist, filed a report in the New Orleans Medical and Surgical Journal on diseases prevalent among the South’s black population. Among the various maladies Dr. Cartwright described was “drapetomania” or “the disease causing slaves to run away.”

Though a serious mental illness, drapetomania, wrote Dr. Cartwright, was happily quite treatable: “The cause, in the most of cases, that induces the negro to run away from service, is as much a disease of the mind as any other species of mental alienation, and much more curable. With the advantages of proper medical advice, strictly followed, this troublesome practice that many negroes have of running away can be almost entirely prevented.”

Coined from Greek roots for runaway slave and madness, drapetomonia wasn’t the good doctor’s only neologism. Atlanta social worker and mental health historian Vanessa Jackson quotes from another of his“scientific” diagnoses:

Dr. Cartwright also diagnosed Dysaethesia Aethiopica, or “hebetude of the mind and obtuse sensibility of the body-a disease peculiar to Negroes called by overseers-Rascality. “ Dysethesia Aethiopica differed from other species of mental disease since physical signs and lesions accompanied it. The ever-resourceful Dr. Cartwright determined that whipping could also cure this disorder. Of course, one wonders if the whipping were not the cause of the “lesions” that confirmed the diagnosis. Not surprisingly, Dr. Cartwright was a leading thinker in the pro-slavery movement. Dr. Cartwright, in his article “Diseases and Peculiarities of the Negro Race, “ chided his anti-slavery colleagues by noting “The northern physicians and people have noticed the symptoms, but not the disease from which they spring. They ignorantly attribute the symptoms to the debasing influence of slavery on the mind without considering that those who have never been in slavery, or their fathers before them, are the most afflicted, and the latest from the slave-holding south the least. The disease is the natural offspring of Negro liberty-the liberty to be idle, to wallow in filth, and to indulge in improper food and drinks. “

And what did the good doctor use as evidence for the validity of his diagnoses?

To ascertain the true method of governing negroes, so as to cure and prevent the disease under consideration, we must go back to the Pentateuch, and learn the true meaning of the untranslated term that represents the negro race. In the name there given to that race, is locked up the true art of governing negroes in such a manner that they cannot run away. The correct translation of that term declares the Creator’s will in regard to the negro; it declares him to be the submissive knee-bender.

But there, almost certainly, some who are genuinely afflicted beyond the realm of mere external circumstances, those whose thoughts and emotions march to different drummers.

With that by way of preface, the latest from Last Week Tonight with John Oliver:

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Mental Health

Program note:

John Oliver explains how our national system of treating mental health works, or more often than not, how it doesn’t.

Headline of the day II: You know it’s dry when. . .

From the San Francisco Chronicle, reporting on the drought emergency measures in one parched Northern California coastal community:

Fort Bragg orders restaurants to use disposable plates, cups

Chart of the day: Who uses California’s water

From the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, and click on it to embiggen:

Freshwater use in California. Note: MF - Multifamily, SF - Single Family.

Freshwater use in California. Note: MF – Multifamily, SF – Single Family.

Jack Ohman: The Martian, corporate version

One of this world’s leading water privatizers is subjected to the dry wit of the editorial cartoonist of the Sacramento Bee:

BLOG Ohman