Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Mercury, Monkeys, and Migration

The DoE is considering dumping over a thousand tons of mercury on the world market:

The Department of Energy acknowledged last week that it is mulling whether to unload more than 1,300 tons of mercury it collected over the years for processing materials used to make hydrogen bombs...The agency's stockpile is five times larger than all of the mercury exported by U.S. businesses in 2004, the last year for which figures are available.
Apropos of which, mercury from Chinese smokestacks (which release about 600 tons a year) is polluting the Willamette River:
Trace amounts of the poison can take less than a week to reach Oregon, where research suggests that about one-fifth of the mercury entering the Willamette River comes from abroad -- increasingly from China.
That's somewhat disturbing, granted...but with the price of mercury climbing, how can we afford not to sell it?

In other news, we're increasingly outsourcing animal testing to China, "where scientists are cheap and plentiful and animal-rights protesters are muffled by an authoritarian state." (Thank God it can't happen here!)

On the bright side, outsourcing this work to a country that doesn't meet the USA's exceedingly modest animal-cruelty standards will reduce the public-health risks of importing thousands of Chinese monkeys per year:
While the monkeys are checked for tuberculosis, they aren't tested for other diseases unless they show signs of sickness.
That said, the underregulated trade in exotic pets poses a number of threats, from ecological havoc to contagious disease (not least because a fair percentage of the monkeys imported for research find their way into private homes).

Despite these hazards, the exotic pet industry is "wary" of quarantine restrictions that could affect its profits. In regards to which, the zoonotic disease expert William Karesh asks a charmingly naive question:
"Why should you and I bear the cost of an outbreak when the industry makes all the money off this trade?"
With that question in mind, let's look at some alarming figures on illegal immigration from the foam-flecked hysterics at WND:
Twelve Americans are murdered every day by illegal aliens, according to statistics released by Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa. If those numbers are correct, it translates to 4,380 Americans murdered annually by illegal aliens. That's 21,900 since Sept. 11, 2001.
If this were true, so much the worse for American corporatism and its apologists. As it happens, though, it's thoroughly debunked nonsense.

WND has more tricks up its sleeve:
Based on a one-year in-depth study, Deborah Schurman-Kauflin of the Violent Crimes Institute of Atlanta estimates there are about 240,000 illegal immigrant sex offenders in the United States who have had an average of four victims each. She analyzed 1,500 cases from January 1999 through April 2006 that included serial rapes, serial murders, sexual homicides and child molestation committed by illegal immigrants.
Here's how Schurman-Kauflin got that figure:
[I]t is consistent to find sex offenders comprising 2% of illegals apprehended. Based on this 2% figure, which is conservative, there are approximately 240,000 illegal immigrant sex offenders in the United States.
Schurman-Kauflin's sleight of hand is obvious even to a clod like myself. She applies the "2% of illegals apprehended" to the estimated total population of illegal immigrants (about 12 million), instead of the population of criminals. On top of which, she has no data on how many sex offenders were apprehended, proportionally speaking. In other words, the 2 percent of illegals apprehended for sex crimes could represent, say, 90 percent of the total population of sex offenders. (The fact that even in the immigrant-plagued West, rape has decreased steadily since the 1970s remains a mystery for which no explanation is conceivable.)

Anyway, it's no surprise that increased illegal immigration would lead to increased crime and other societal costs, even if corporate America's appetite for cheap, disempowered labor didn't amount to a human meat-grinder and an incubator for racism. The question is, why should you and I - and the immigrants - bear the cost, when the industry makes all the money off this trade?

I mean, besides the fact that it's propping up our economy.

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