Nation

Hold the Mochaccino
Das Boot
Date Rape Panic
Bargain-Basement
Spaniel on a Leash


Wobbly Nightmare for the WTO
Hold the Mochaccino

While most environmentalists, union members, and progressives sat on their hands during the Clinton years, last week's WTO demonstrations in Seattle showed they still have some fight left.

The people who stopped the session in its tracks were mostly from the newer, more aggressive grassroots groups—Rainforest Action Network, Earth First, the Black Bloc (anarchists from Oregon), members of the Sea Shepherd darting around in slickers, and Food Not Bombs, a group that has been feeding the homeless in San Francisco. Many of these activists underwent training in nonviolent civil disobedience in British Columbia last summer by the Ruckus Society, itself run by an ex-Yippie.

These activists were galvanized by two main leaders: David Foster, director of Steelworkers District 11 in Minnesota, and David Brower, 87, very ill but still a towering symbol of what the environmental movement might yet become. Brower and Foster charged Seattle's police with provocation and violence, and focused on Clinton's duplicity. (The opportunism of the president knows no bounds. Having spent most of the decade fighting for free trade against union and public-interest groups in Congress, Clinton in Seattle urged the WTO to heed the protesters in the streets.) Foster and Brower want to bring unions and environmentalists together in a new Alliance for Sustainable Jobs and the Environment.

Brower deserves special mention. Time and again he has pulled the sniveling environmentalists out of the fire and braced them to fight on. It was Brower who transformed the Sierra Club from a social society during the 1950s into the nation's most powerful environmental organization. He led the fight against a dam in the Grand Canyon and the movement to save Alaska's forests, argued for more national parks, and fought nuclear power. His confrontational approach resulted in his ouster from the Sierra Club in 1969. He thereupon set up Friends of the Earth and later Earth Island Institute, which has been trying to establish protection for whales, sea turtles, and dolphins. Brower remains the most visionary and radical environmentalist, and his latest move toward labor could well initiate a powerful and popular new political alliance.


Submariner Would Give Pregnant Women . . .
Das Boot

Submarine officer Clinton C. Owen, writing in David Hackworth's online Voice of the Grunt last week, threw cold water on the idea of women serving in subs, and excoriated in particularly harsh rhetoric the possibility that women might become pregnant while encapsulated beneath the waves.

"I have been a submariner for 20 years," wrote Owen, "and I am not against women serving in any billet for which they can compete on the basis of qualification: straight up, no exceptions, no excuses, let the best person get the job. However, for a variety of reasons, very few women would make it into the submarine force. . . . The problems are not in hardware or ship design, but in attitudes, discipline, and prejudices built into our society. . . . There is no privacy on submarines, so don't expect any. If you need privacy while you dress, undress, eat, sleep, shower, or relieve yourself, don't volunteer for the submarine force!" Owen confided that "hormones and hanky-panky will always be a factor," but said they could be controlled by discipline and professionalism.

But when it came to the prospect of pregnant women aboard subs, Owen lost it. "The answer is simple: Don't allow it! Any female assigned to a ship or other deployable unit should receive a direct order not to become pregnant while attached to such a unit, and should acknowledge in writing that she understands the order. If we can all be randomly tested for various illegal drugs, then women can be randomly tested for pregnancy. A woman who gets pregnant while assigned to a ship could (and should) be charged under the UCMJ [Universal Code of Military Justice] in at least three areas: violating a direct order, dereliction of duty, and/or malingering. If a woman wants to be a steely-eyed underwater killer then she should be prepared to put off being a mother."


Sterile Lies
Date Rape Panic

Last week's wildfire Web rumor that frat-boy date rapists were stalking their prey with a new concoction that puts their pickup to sleep and then sterilizes her to remove evidence that could be used in a paternity suit turned out to be a hoax. But not before thousands of women bombarded rape crisis centers with frantic calls and and passed on warnings through e-mail chains stretching around the world.

The rumor started when women on college campuses began receiving an e-mail chain letter warning that a new date-rape drug called Progesterex had hit the streets. "Any woman that takes it will not have children ever in her life," the e-mail cautioned, adding that the pill was "being used" at frat parties at Columbia and Penn State.

According to the message, one dose of the white pill, supposedly used by veterinarians to sedate horses, could leave a woman infertile for life. After Columbia University's Q&A Web health service, Go Ask Alice, was inundated with queries, staffers consulted pharmacists, veterinarians, and researchers. None had ever heard of Progesterex or any drug that remotely fit the description. Among those consulted were the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Center for Veterinary Medicine, the American Veterinary Medical Association, as well as the veterinary divisions at Cornell, Penn State, and the University of Saskatchewan.

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