Eyes on the Prize

The very first piece in Mark Schoofs's Pulitzer Prize-winning series, "AIDS: The Agony of Africa," brought me to tears on my train ride home from work. Although I was aware of the impact of AIDS in black America, I never contemplated how Africans fared without the financial resources we have gathered to address the epidemic.

I share Schoofs's wish that his much deserved Pulitzer will put "more pressure on America to do its part to combat AIDS in Africa," and remind the government that it has not been vanquished in the U.S.

Vincent Jones

Upcoming Events

Congratulations, Mark Schoofs! You deserve the Pulitzer Prize. I spent time in Zambia last summer with six teenagers who are in foster care. We brought clothing, toys, books, and medicine for orphaned street children. Your series provided a powerful context for my experience.

Suzanne M. Murphy

We Are the World

Mark Schoofs's "Fossils in the Blood" [April 11], about the San people of South Africa, is such an important article to humankind. I am responding because this subject is part of my thesis work in Fine Arts at William Paterson University in Wayne, New Jersey.

Being categorized as a white female has left me wondering who "my people" really are. I am Italian, German, Irish, and French that I know of (and who knows what that really means, since all of these countries were taken over by many other groups, including Arabs from Africa).

Many people refuse to understand that we all originally come from the same place and have been spread across the world. I long to reconnect to my origins, and am doing so by studying and re-creating ancient art found in Europe and Africa, with my focus being the San people. My heart and soul go out to them as well as all indigenous people who have had their lives, land, and culture ripped out from under their feet.

Debbie Weber
North Arlington, New Jersey

Minority Retort

In Haider Rizvi's article entitled "An Unscientific Method? Activists and Legislators Urge Safeguards for Human Subjects in Experiments" [April 11], I am quoted as follows: "This is not only unethical, but illegal as well. . . . They [the federal Office of Protection From Research Risks] didn't ask why the Department of Probation was allowed to give the children's names to strangers." I did not say the experiments were "illegal," nor did I say that the OPRR didn't ask about a particular matter. I have no idea what the OPRR asked. I did tell your reporter that I believe the study was unethical and the OPRR review was inadequate, but for reasons he did not report.

For example, in its findings the OPRR makes no comment about the overwhelmingly minority nature of the subject population. There is a federal regulatory requirement that "selection of subjects is equitable. . . . " But how can this requirement be met?

According to the federal rules, studies with the types of risks this one posed are not to be conducted unless the intervention is "likely to yield generalizable knowledge about the subjects' disorder or condition that is of vital importance for the understanding or amelioration of that disorder or condition. . . . "

Since the children who were the research subjects did not have any "disorder or condition" (unless one defines those terms as including being an impoverished African American child with an older brother who has gotten in trouble with the law), the study could not render information about any condition or disorder. And it is far from clear what knowledge "of vital importance" the study could provide under the best of circumstances. Again, the OPRR is simply silent about this apparent violation of the federal rules.

Dr. Leonard H. Glantz
Professor of Health Law
Boston University School of Public Health


Haider Rizvi's article "An Unscientific Method?" misrepresented Disability Advocates' statements regarding the fenfluramine experiment that was conducted by the New York State Psychiatric Institute. We challenged the experiment on legal and ethical grounds, but we never described the research or the researchers as "racist."

I provided your reporter with all of Disability Advocates' letters demanding an investigation, and none of the letters described the experiments as "racist." Moreover, I specifically told Mr. Rizvi that I would not characterize the experiments as "racist." Therefore, I was dismayed to read that "describing the experiments as 'unethical' and 'racist,' a coalition of activists, led by Disability Advocates . . . demanded an investigation by federal authorities. . . . "  

Cliff Zucker
Executive Director, Disability Advocates
Albany, New York

Haider Rizvi replies: Unfortunately, reading the paragraph in the article that Mr. Zucker quotes, one might wrongly infer that Disability Advocates described the New York Psychiatric Institute's experiments as "racist." However, the word "racist" was used by other activists who have been involved in the campaign to stop such experiments. According to my notes of a telephone interview with Dr. Glantz, he referred to the institute's experiments as "unethical" and "illegal." He also rightly questioned whether the OPRR addressed the issue of why the state department of probation released information about the children to strangers, noting that the issue is not dealt with in the OPRR's findings.

Greenback Holler

I would like to thank James Ridgeway for the excellent and accurate "Nader Raids Again" [Mondo Washington, April 4]. Ralph Nader and the Green Party are being largely ignored by the press, so it was refreshing to see this coverage. Nader will indeed make a serious run for the presidency this year—and wouldn't it be nice to vote for someone you can believe in again?

Gary Sandman
West Queens Greens

Wing Dings

Re James Ridgeway's remark that President Clinton's characterization of Hillary Clinton as the victim of a right-wing venom machine is "off the wall" [Mondo Washington, April 11]:

Wayne Barrett, in "Romancing the Right" [February 15], wrote about how Richard Viguerie, a member of the radical right, was raising tons of money for Giuliani. Right-wingers such as Peggy Noonan and Barbara Olson have profited nicely from their hateful Hillary books. And there is the Rupert Murdoch news empire, talk radio, and cable TV, which have made Hillary their favorite whipping person. Contrary to what Ridgeway writes, all the accusations against Clinton/Gore can be shrugged off as the work of a right-wing venom machine. Nobody knows what iscontained in the missinge-mails—this is just the speculation of right-wing wackos led by Dan Burton, who has no credibility. As for the 1996 fundraising, Charles La Bella on the April 2 Meet the Press said he doubted that any finance laws were broken.

In addition, the federal judge, Royce Lamberth, who said that Clinton violated Kathleen Willey's privacy, is a right-winger who has abused his authority by constantly politicizing the judicial process. Most legal experts disagree with his ruling and believe it will be overturned. The fact is that the Clintons have been the victims of a right-wing spin machine, and every unsubstantiated allegation has been taken as gospel by the mainstream media, which despise them.

Reba Shimansky

Hydro Power

As the author of the book Hydropolitics in the Third World, I would like to congratulate Karen Cook for her article on China's Three Gorges project ["Dam Shame," April 4]. It certainly is a shame that despite protests by Chinese scholars and citizens over the years, and despite all the warnings of impending humanitarian and environmental disasters by international NGOs, the major banks and some international funding organizations have refused to see the light.

The same is true of many large water-related projects in other parts of the world, e.g., in Laos. There are many eco- and people-friendly solutions for the water and power scarcity, droughts, and floods that can be implemented in all the world's river basins at minimal costs. However, the large projects continue to be justified, based on mostly incorrect cost-benefit calculations.

Arun Elhance

Scandal Mills

As a professional engineer with more than 11 years of experience in mechanical engineering at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, I would like to thank Erik Baard for his excellent article on Dr. Randell Mills ["Quantum Leap," December 28]. As one of the parties interviewed and later fact-checked by your courteous staff, I was impressed with the integrity of your publication.

The resistance of established scientists to giving Mills's theory even a passing glance has proved very frustrating. The issue is not so much that they can prove him wrong. The issue is that they automatically consider him wrong because his theories challenge some long-held but unproven notions.

What we need is a respectful, open discussion about Mills's theory, its surrounding evidence, and its possible problems.

Luke Setzer
Cocoa, Florida

Good as Gould

Joe Gould's diary may be more creative, or at least prescient, than Charles Hutchinson and Peter Miller think ["Joe Gould's Secret History," April 11]. How else to explain a reference to the 1956 musical Lil' Abner in Gould's mid-'40's journals?  

Scott Isler

Death in the Chapel

Re "The Executioner's Secrets" by Jennifer Gonnerman [March 28]: As a current inmate of Sing Sing, I wish to draw your attention to the photograph that was used to identify the outside of the death house here. Sorry if I pop your bubble, but the picture used is a photograph of our beautiful chapel, which has never been used as a death house.

The original death house at Sing Sing is located in an area that is now a medium-level-security prison.

George A. Torres
Ossining, New York

Gratis Faction

After reading that John Lohse lives rent-free as an "artist in residence" at the Gershwin Hotel [Toni Schlesinger, Money, April 11], I would just like to say how thankful I am that the Voice is free, because if I had to read about a no-talent lunkhead living rent-free and crowing about his parties and his pointless "art" projects and pay for the privilege of doing so, it would get me real angry.

Lawrence Fishberg

Give Props

I am writing to applaud the candor displayed in Tristan Taormino's April 4 column ["Tips for Tricks"].

The sex worker Tyler is absolutely dead-on when he suggests that consumers of the sex trade exercise some etiquette, e.g., canceling appointments in a timely fashion, tipping appropriately for services, etc. If the rest of society does not care to show respect to these hard-working individuals, it is important that their clients show a modicum of appreciation.

Lauren Beckeney
Alpena, Michigan

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