Silver Rights

News, thoughts and comments on civil rights and related issues.

Saturday, November 15, 2003  

Minority Americans suffer most from diabetes

November is American Diabetes Month. A little vague on what diabetes is, eh? Has something to do with blood. . . but what? Are people born with it or do they catch it? Isn't that amputee down the street a diabetic? You can learn about diabetes, and the more than 16 million Americans who are known to have it, by visiting the site of the American Diabetes Association. You will also find information about diabetes at weblogs this month. I've joined many other bloggers in Blogging for a Cure.

Though diabetes is a medical condition that impacts the entire American population to a nearly epidemic extent, some groups suffer from the disease more than others. African Americans and Native Americans are particularly susceptible. Asian Americans are becoming more susceptible and Asians will be half of diabetics worldwide by 2025.

Today, diabetes mellitus is one of the most serious health challenges facing the United States. The following statistics illustrate the magnitude of this disease among African Americans.

2.3 million African Americans have diabetes.

•For every six white Americans who have diabetes, 10 African Americans have diabetes.

•Approximately 10.8 percent of all African Americans have diabetes.

•African Americans with diabetes are more likely to develop diabetes complications and experience greater disability from the complications than white Americans with diabetes.

•Death rates for people with diabetes are 27 percent higher for African Americans compared with whites.

Most persons of West African descent have Type II diabetes, which is caused by depressed insulin secretion and the body resisting usage of whatever insulin is available. There are two theories about what causes the high rate of diabetes among Americans of color. Some researchers believe there is a genetic basis. Others assert environmental and lifestyle differences, such as being overweight and lack of physical activity, are at fault. Both are more common among African Americans than among white Americans.

Native Americans have diabetes at an even greater rate than African Americans. In addition, Indian children are more likely to be diagnosed as diabetics.

About 15 percent of American Indians and Alaska Natives who receive care from the Indian Health Service have been diagnosed with diabetes, a total of 105,000 people. On average, American Indians and Alaska Natives are 2.6 times as likely to have diagnosed diabetes as non-Hispanic whites of a similar age. The available data probably underestimate the true prevalence of diabetes in this population. For example, 40 to 70 percent of American Indian adults age 45 to 74 were found to have diabetes in a recent screening study in three geographic areas. Data from the Navajo Health and Nutrition Survey, published in 1997, showed that 22.9 percent of Navajo adults age 20 and older had diabetes. Fourteen percent had a history of diabetes, but another 7 percent were found to have undiagnosed diabetes during the survey.

Type 2 diabetes is becoming increasingly common in youth. Researchers studying 5,274 Pima Indian children from 1967 to 1996 found that the prevalence of type 2 diabetes in girls ages 10 to 14 increased from 0.72 percent in the period 1967 to 1976 to 2.88 percent in the period 1987 to 1996. Reports include an increasing incidence in First Nation populations in Canada.

Studies of the Pimas suggest a genetic link to insulin production and resistance.

Although the specific genes responsible for the inheritance of type 2 diabetes have not been located, NIDDK scientists studying the Pima Indians have identified a gene called FABP2 that may play a role in insulin resistance. More recent studies have shown that a variant in the PPPIR3 gene that is more common in Pimas than Caucasians is associated with type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance.

However, again, envirommental and lifestyle differences are likely to largely explain the high rate of the disease among a minority group. African-Americans and Indians are the poorest of Americans and most likely to be in bad health. Among the impacts of their poverty is lack of access to medical care that might prevent development of diabetes or other diseases.

The connection of diabetes to non-whites does not stop with people of West African and Indian descent. Asians, including Asian Americans, have the fastest growing rate of the disease in the world.

The incidence of diabetes in Asians and Pacific Islanders is growing at an alarming rate with 90-95% being type 2 diabetes. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that the number of individuals affected by diabetes mellitus in 1995 had increased to 135 million from the 1985 estimate of 30 million, and it is projected that 300 million people will be affected by 2025. Approximately half of this population will be Asians and Pacific Islanders. China is predicted to have the highest rise in prevalence rate (68%) followed closely by India (59%) and other Asian countries and Pacific Islands (41%).

. . .The high prevalence of diabetes in Asian immigrants may be a result of westernization and urbanization with an increase in consumption of animal fat and sedentary lifestyle, superimposed upon a predisposed genetic background. Diabetic risk was reported to be associated with obesity - defined as an increase in body mass index (weight in kg divided by the square of height in m) and, in particular, with increased central adiposity (fat belly).

What can be done about a disease that is crippling and hastening the deaths of millions of Americans, a disproportion of whom are people of color?

•Research. Preliminary research, as stated above, has identified two genes that may play a role in the development of Type II diabetes. Additional funding could greatly accelerate the investigation of that and other possible genetic contributors to the illness. In addition to lobbying the government, consider making your workplace United Way contribution to the ADA.

Preventive care. Health departments need to identify families at a risk for developing diabetes before the disease manifests itself. In a time of cuts in Medicaid and state health care funding, that is occurring less often. Lean on your state government, particularly, in regard to childrens' healthcare.

Lifestyle changes. Like charity, healthcare begins at home. All Americans, including minorities, can greatly reduce their and their childrens' risk of developing diabetes by exercising, eating a balanced diet and being tested for early signs of the disease.

posted by J. | 7:34 PM

Friday, November 14, 2003  

Gender discrimination is illegal

Depend on Robbie Port to cause me to set aside what I had intended to post today to pen an emergency correction to dangerous notions about gender discrimination. He says:

Everybody thinks men and women should be exactly equal. They should be considered for the same jobs as men and should be paid at the same level. Companies engaged in hiring new employees are often encouraged to hire women and we've all heard the new politically correct job titles such as "mail carrier" instead of "mailman." In theory, that sounds nice. In practice some problems arise.

Take, for instance, firefighters. Every day these people are faced with dangers and often must count on the strength and agility of their co-workers. If I were a fireman I would want the strongest person available to be backing me up in a hot situation. I would want the same if I were a police officer or a soldier. Granted, many women are just as strong, or stronger, than most men but in general men are bigger and stronger.

. . .All I'm saying is that men and women are different and when we hire for jobs those differences should be taken into consideration, especially in dangerous jobs like those I described above. If a woman wants to be a fireman that's great, as long as she can past the exact same tests and examinations that the men do. If the job you want requires you to be able to complete 30 pushups then you'd better be able to do those 30 pushups. If you can't, find another job.

Let's consider two of the errors in Port's ill-conceived entry.

•Municipalities do not decide the rules for hiring workers in a vacuum, as he claims. State and federal law regulate various aspects of employment, including discrimination.

•A major criterion determining whether rules against hiring or promoting women are discriminatory under Title VII, the most relevant statute, is employment-relatedness. The only way it would matter if an employee can do 30 pushups is if doing those pushups can be shown to be directly related to firefighting. Otherwise, the requirement would be irrelevant to being qualified for the job, regardless of whether someone likes his firefighters strong -- and male. The issue is not the gender of the employee, but what skills the job requires.

Title VII has been around for so long I tend to take it for granted 'everyone knows' that the kind of discrimination Port supports is illegal. His is the kind of misinformation I would expect to read in material from the 1960s or 1970s, not in 2003.

Robbie Port's latest assault on reality is evidence of a a major problem with the blogosphere: The Ports spout so much inaccurate information that the minority of smart, responsible bloggers are virtually forced to clean up after them.

By the way, Port's blog is called Say Anything . . . and he really does.

posted by J. | 7:04 PM

Wednesday, November 12, 2003  

Philly blogger hurls acrimony, hits self

It can be really amazing how different people perceive the same situation.

This entry about the recent mayoral election in Philadelphia is from Tom's Nap Room.

Black people love the KKK

In Philadelphia there is a great polarizing election for mayor. Current mayor John Street is running against white businessman Sam Katz. Under Street's management Philadelphia is in the toilet. Street is beholdent to the Unions and special interests. Crime is up, taxes are high, and businesses are leaving Philadelphia for areas like King of Prussia, Camden, and Lewes Deleware.

When the previous mayor Ed Rendell, currently the Democrat Governor of PA, left the city it was in great shape. There was a huge surplus, strong growth, and low crime.

Because of his bad leadership, Street was way behind in the polls. Then the bombshell. Street discovered an FBI bug in his office. The FBI confirmed that he is indeed a target of a corruption investigation. Instead of hurting his campaign, Street's numbers surged. He is now about 20 points ahead in the polls.

At speaking engagements to mostly black audiences he accused the FBI (who by the way got the wiretap and bug approved by a liberal black judge who was nominated by Jimmy Carter) and Sam Katz of being racist. Those groups loved that red meat, and are running to his defense.

Now Philadelphia is highly polarized. Polls show about 90% of blacks will vote for Street, and about 80% of whites will vote for Katz. This all came about because Street stood up there and accused the FBI, Katz, and the Bush administration of going after him because he is black.

This polarization is not driven by white groups like the KKK, but by mainstream black community leaders who love to throw the race card at adandon whenever it suits them.

When you disagree with leaders like this they say it is not because you disagree with their policies and practices but is because of their skin color.

All that is missing now is a white hood on Street's head.

This entry about the same mayoral contest is from Mac-a-ro-nies.

Intriguing elections of mayors include the one in the City of Brotherly Love, where a scandalous discovery helped the incumbent win reelection.

PHILADELPHIA, Nov. 4 -- In an emotional finish to a controversy-ridden campaign, Mayor John F. Street won a second term on Tuesday, beating his Republican opponent, Sam Katz, an executive who lost narrowly to him four years ago.

With more than 90 percent of the ballots counted, Mayor Street had an insurmountable lead of 58 percent of the votes, The Associated Press reported, to 42 percent for Mr. Katz.

In his victory speech, the mayor said, "This victory today is a very impressive one, and I will be the first one to admit that when we started this campaign, it would not have crossed my mind that I would be standing here today with the margin of victory that seems apparent here today."

Mr. Street may owe his victory, at least in part, to a scandal that many Philadelphians believed, just four weeks ago, would end his 25-year political career. A listening device was discovered in the mayor's City Hall office early last month, and investigators from the F.B.I. then disclosed that Mr. Street was a subject in a corruption investigation.

The mayor and his allies deftly turned the incident to their advantage by suggesting that the investigation was engineered by the Republican Party in an effort to discredit a black Democrat. The accusations, which fueled widespread racial and partisan rancor, energized voters in this heavily Democratic city, whose black population is roughly equal to that of whites.

National Democratic figures came to town to stoke the flames of suspicion. Former President Bill Clinton and former Vice President Al Gore spoke at rallies for Mr. Street over the weekend.

Is the investigation of Street and his associates are discrediting an African-American Democrat and bolstering Republicans? Who knows? However, it seems the FBI could have learned something from its probes of other black mayors, including Marion Barry during his tenure in D.C. That something? That investigations of African-American political leaders appear to be attacks unless clearly justified and lead to a circling of the wagons.

So far, no evidence of wrongdoing by Street has surfaced publically. But, in an ironic twist, Katz' former partner has been convicted of a crime.

Mark Robins, the former employee of defeated mayoral candidate Sam Katz was sentenced to 14 to 30 months in prison yesterday for stealing $290,000 from a company owned by Katz and other investors.

The failed venture became an issue in the mayor's race because three former partners sued Katz, charging him with participating in Robins' theft.

The Montgomery County District Attorney's office investigated the allegation and concluded Katz was not involved.

Stereotypes about who must be up to something illegal are so strong they should be handled with care. I hope the FBI is not relying on them in probing Street.

Mayor Street's margin of victory demolishes any claim that only African-Americans voted for him. There is also no evidence I'm aware of that Street has run the city into the ground economically, though Philadelphia was impacted by the economic downturn of the last few years along with other places. I don't find Tom's animosity rational. His repeated claim in another blog entry that all or most black people are racists strikes me as appalling. So does his apparent belief that only white mayors are competent. Sadly, connecting the dots creates a path of bigotry -- leading right back to Tom.

posted by J. | 8:00 PM

Tuesday, November 11, 2003  

In the news

•Medics say Lynch was not raped

In a recently released biography, Rick Bragg's I am a Soldier, Too: The Jessica Lynch Story, it is alleged Pfc. Lynch was raped by Iraqis. The doctors who operated on her deny the claim.

NASSIRIYA, Iraq, Nov 10 (Reuters) - Iraqi doctors who treated U.S. soldier Jessica Lynch dismissed on Monday allegations made in her biography that she was raped during her capture in Iraq, saying she had the best possible care.

Surgeons who treated Private Lynch after her convoy was attacked near the southern city of Nassiriya in the early days of the U.S.-led invasion in March said they were shocked and hurt by accusations that she was sexually assaulted.

Bragg left the New York Times after editors learned he had claimed credit for a story written by a stringer. He won a Pulitzer Prize for feature writing while working for the NYT.

Mac-a-ro-nies takes a closer look at the controversy.

•Malvo will try insanity defense

A year after a time of terror, the second suspect in the Washington, D.C. area sniper attacks is going to trial.

CHESAPEAKE, Va., Nov 10 (Reuters) - The murder trial of Lee Malvo, the 18-year-old sniper suspect linked to 10 killings in the Washington area, was to begin on Monday in this southern Virginia city, as the prosecution of his alleged accomplice moved toward a close in a neighboring courthouse.

Malvo is charged with two counts of murder and a weapons violation in the death of Linda Franklin, an FBI analyst who was shot to death as she loaded purchases into her car at a parking lot in Falls Church, Virginia, on Oct. 14, 2002.

In an effort to save Malvo's life, the defense will claim he is not responsible for the assaults and murders he allegedly participated in, apparently as the triggerman.

Defense attorney Craig Cooley told Circuit Judge Jane Marum Roush that he would present a defense of innocent by reason of insanity.

The defense plans to argue that Malvo was so brainwashed by fellow suspect John Allen Muhammad, 42, that he either did not know what he was doing or could not control himself.

It likely will be a tough sell -- and risky.

Studies have indicated that defendants who mount insanity defenses generally have higher conviction rates than those who don't, said Thomas L. Hafemeister, director of legal studies at the Institute for Law, Psychiatry and Public Policy in Charlottesville.

"A lot of people see insane individuals as both very bad and very scary," said Hafemeister, who also teaches at the University of Virginia law school. "The risk for the defense is that if they fail to convince the jury, then essentially they have a defendant who has acknowledged doing the deed and being mentally unstable, which creates a very scary person in the minds of the jurors."

Malvo is said to have been influenced by violent games and movies, including Halo and The Matrix.

•Buchanan blames Sharpton for Dean's debacle

Pat Buchanan blames Democratic Presidential Candidate Rev. Al Sharpton for fellow contender Howard Dean's recent apology to African-Americans. Dean said he hoped to recruit the men who attach Confederate flags to their pickup truck to the Democratic Party. I believe he meant the party should try to appeal to poor and working-class Southern whites, not that it should court racists. Buchanan's interpretation begins reasonably, but goes awry quickly.

Dean has told Democratic audiences that Southern folks who paste Confederate flag decals on their pickups should vote for us, because we will improve the health care of their families and the education of their kids. "I want to be the candidate for guys with Confederate flags in their pickup trucks. We can't beat George Bush unless we appeal to a broad cross-section of Democrats."

. . .And what did he get for it? A savage caning from Al Sharpton. After which, Dean crumbled, apologized and asked for forgiveness.

It began when a young black at the Rock the Vote debate in Boston rose to declare himself "extremely offended" by Dean's statements on the flag.

That sent Rev. Al into his patented rant. If a Southern candidate had said what you said, he roared in Dean's face, "they'd have been run out of the race." The Confederate flag is "America's swastika." Dean's flag remark was "insensitive. ... You ought to apologize for it. You are not a bigot, but you appear to be too arrogant to say, 'I'm sorry.'"

I believe Dean's intentions were misinterpreted. However, I don't think Sharpton is the only reason Dean found himself apologizing. The phrasing of the remark made it ripe for contention. Buchanan goes on to equate being a white person and a Southerner with being a neo-Confederate. Obviously, he learned nothing from the brouhaha.

posted by J. | 4:40 PM