By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
In Claude Solnik's "The WTC BombingRevisited",[January 11], the spouse of an injured World Trade Center worker commented that the WTC bombing was bad, but "worse than that was how we were treated by the government, the system." This statement echoes the pain felt by thousands of injured workers who face similar scandalous delays at the New York State Workers' Compensation Board. Especially today, when we are facing what amounts to a global sweatshop economylonger hours, speedups, and short-staffing leading to stress, lack of family time, and injuriesfast and just compensation for injured workers must be a bottom-line right.
As noted by Solnik, the World Trade Center workers have been waiting since 1993 for some kind of compensation. Injured workers commonly wait eight, nine, 10, even 18 years for the board to decide whether or not they will receive benefits and coverage for emergency medical treatments. Due to delays many not only lose their means of livelihood, but also their homes.
People with compensation cases have tried everything from changing lawyers, to gathering mountains of medical testimony, to writing politicians demanding change. Nothing works, because the Workers' Compensation Board permits the insurance companies every opportunity to controvert claims and to appeal decisions endlessly in the event of a favorable decision. As an example of how bad things are, fully disabled workers sometimes receive as little as $50 a week.
Workers are now organizing to demand that the Workers' Compensation Board make judgments within two to three months, cover emergency living expenses and medical treatments within a week, and provide just compensation. If chairman Robert Snashall cannot ensure that the board will compensate injured workers, then he must step down.
National Mobilization Against Sweatshops
ABUSE AND POWER
Peter Noel's article "Girl, Interrupted", [January 11] made clear the "emotional roller coaster" that most families experience when a child is molested. In 1993, as related in Noel's story, Joycelyn Charles found the support she and her daughter needed by reaching out to Victim Services' Multidisciplinary Response and Family Assistance projects. Ms. Charles is to be commended for wanting to start a child advocacy center in Brooklyn in response to the needs she identifies so well.
Victim Services' Brooklyn Child Advocacy Center has been operating since October 1996. We provide a neutral setting where an abused child and parent can be interviewed by the police, the district attorney's office, and by social workers, and the child can receive a medical examination by doctors trained specifically for this purpose. We can also issue referrals for ongoing counseling and support. From January through November 1999, approximately 1800 cases of child abuse were investigated through our Brooklyn center.
Gordon J. Campbell, Executive Director
GIVES A HOOT
Thank you so much, Karen Cook, for doing the story about "Leo" the Central Park owl, which appeared in last week's issue [ "Hoo Goes There" , January 18]. I am an avid Central Park birder and I especially love stopping by to see Leo whenever I am in the park in the winter, which is quite often.
The birding community in Central Park is very special. I have learned so much about birds from the park rangers, as well as ornithologist Sarah Elliott, mentioned in Ms. Cook's article, and other New York City Audubon birders. I have been birding in Central Park for about four years now, and have already seen 85 different species, including a rare sora this past fall.
My husband and I have decided to raise our son, Max, now six months old, in Manhattan, and I tell Max that Central Park is his backyard. I suspect that Max can already identify a rock dove, or pigeon, and I am very happy that living so near to Central Park gives him so many wonderful opportunities to see such a varied selection of birds.
Mary Beth Kooper
SCANNED IN SWEDEN
I have read all of Mark Schoofs's articles on "AIDS: The Agony of Africa" that I have found on the Web. Working for 10 years in HIV prevention for the city of Gothenburg, Sweden, my task has been to reach immigrants and ethnic minorities.
It was from the start evident that Africans in our city feared how we would tackle the problem. They felt that we connected skin color with HIV.
The tone of Mr. Schoofs's articles is very different from what I have read here. There have been a lot of negative articles in our newspapers about Africans and AIDS.
I think Mr. Schoofs manages to cope with the issue sensitively, in a way that we still lack in our media.
I have followed Mark Schoofs's series on the HIV/AIDS crisis in Africa with great interest, and I congratulate him for placing this important issue on the American conscience. I have been discussing these issues in class with my students, utilizing his articles. I've been disappointed, however, at the lack of options presented to readers for steps they can take to help fight this epidemic.
What advice can Mr. Schoofs offer to my students at UCLA or friends who have expressed concern? Which organizations are most trustworthy (as regards donations)? Which groups are doing the most courageous and beneficial work in the countries Mr. Schoofs visited? I would appreciate any assistance he can offer.
Graduate School of Education
University of California at Los Angeles
Mark Schoofs replies: One place for Americans to start helping fight AIDS in Africa is with the Global Health Council, 202-833-5900. You can contribute to their Small Grant Fund for HIV/AIDS that invests in the kind of community-based groups described in the series, and you can also help them lobby Congress and corporations. The Association Francois-Xavier Bagnoud works with African AIDS orphans, and you can give online at www.fxb.org/donate.html. Finally, Harlem United Community AIDS Center adopted an organization profiled in the series. If you want to do the same, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
BECK AND CALL
Kudos to Robin Rothman for her article "The Artists Formerly Known As Each Other" [January 25]. Prince used to utilize aliases to try to hide his musical influence when producing other artists' work. But now he no longer even needs to be in the studio. For example, one review of Beck's Midnite Vultures said that "more than once, Beck wanders into territory staked out by Prince." I can almost imagine Prince playing and singing with Beck when I listen to Vultures. Spooky! Whether or not we are uncomfortable with The Artist's extreme flamboyance, excentricity, and just plain weirdness, there is no doubt that he has become part of the foundation of today's music.
DIS A VOW
Michael Musto's mentioning of Hillary Clinton's insistence that marriage is so sacred it should only be afforded to heteros is right on base [La Dolce Musto, January 25] Apparently, Hill and her hus have widely differing opinions about the sanctity of their vows. Need I elaborate?
It is not the institution of marriage that is so sacred, it is the relationship between two peopleany two people.
I can relate to Toni Schlesinger's Shelter column in last week's issue. In six years of living on my own in New York, I've come across slumlords from hell. My last one-bedroom was a rat hole. I mean that literally. Talk about heat problems. I was sick most of the winter, and he wouldn't do anything about it. Who needed pets when I had little gray furry mice running around in my pantry? All this and more for a mere $900 a month. I got my revenge the last month I lived there. My landlord received a visit from Comcast Cable. Apparently, he had hooked up an illegal box through his cable cord. Its a crime, you know.
May he rot in hell.
Poor Derek Jeter of the Yankees is going to get only $118.5 million for playing baseball for seven years, whereas if he started up a new Internet company, even one that failed to make a profit, he might be making $billions instead of $millions and be on the cover of a national magazine to boot!
However, look on the bright side. If, instead of playing ball, Derek had worked in a laboratory discovering a cure for cancer or finding a way to prolong the average person's life by 50 years, he would probably be lucky to get six figures!
Michael J. Gorman
LASSE COME HOME
Amy Taubin's assessment of Lasse Hallstrom's adaptation of The Cider House Rules was about as narrow a critical point of view as I've ever read [ "Up in Arms on the Home Front" , December 14]. Perhaps if Ms. Taubin would look outside the leftist prism of prochoice activism and antipatriarchal nonsense, she would see that the concept of abortion is a catalyst for personal choice for all the characters in the film, regardless of gender and regardless of whether the procedure itself is the result of incest or rape. Both Hallstrom and novelist/screenwriter John Irving have managed to go beyond the tired politics of abortion to tell a very simple but humane story about the complications innvolved in belief and the way beliefs are constantly tested. Too bad Ms. Taubin weren't able to look beyond the rote politics in her criticism.
Los Angeles, California
Amy Taubin replies: Abortion is not a metaphor for humane issues in general. Abortion involves a woman's right to control her own body regardless of what men think. Therefore, male self-realization has no place in abortion politics.
I really enjoyed Ginger Adams Otis's article "MOUSE in the House" [Education Supplement, January 25], but I'd like to point that I was misquoted a bit. I was quoted as saying that the E-Rate program, under which schools and libraries can receive subsidized discounts for Internet services, has wired about half a million schools. That's not possible, since there are under 100,000 schools in the U.S. What I said was that the E-Rate program has wired about half a million classrooms in each of its first two funding cycles. The first year connected over 600,000 classrooms, while the total for the second year is expected to be over 500,000.
Otherwise, it's a very interesting piece.
LERNER WINS AWARD
Voicecolumnist and reporter Sharon Lerner has been awarded a Kaiser/National Press Foundation Media Mini-Fellowship in Health to research and report on sex education in schools and federal funding for abstinence-only education programs.