MacNeil's 'Autism Now' honest, enlightened, public-interest journalism

April 30, 2011

After an involuntary hiatus, it's always invigorating to re-engage with the "real work" (Beat poet Gary Snyder's words), especially when the initial reconnect is celebratory in nature. Especially when the celebration involves an institution at the heart of the mission, in this case journalism.

And so, with a bow to journalist Robert MacNeil, I begin this summer's phase of my investigation into the twin epidemics of autism and developmental disabilities. His investigative report Autism Now, which aired on the PBS NewsHour in April, reacquainted me with the issues I'm exploring in the Ohio River Valley, where the rain is toxic and data show the kids just aren't quite right, developmentally speaking. Three years' into this project, I've not found a more honest or enlightened media report.

February 3, 2011

After decades of existing under a dictatorship regime, Egyptian people are standing up and demanding change. Demonstrations have spread around the entire country since Tuesday, Jan. 25, when people first began going to Liberty Square in downtown Cairo. Egyptian communities around the world, in major cities in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France and other European countries, as well as Arab nations such as Jordan, have shown support. Around the world, people are encouraging the Egyptian people to stand up for their rights of freedom and justice under a democratic system, with a new constitution.

The Egyptian government has shut down the Internet and cut off the communications and telephones in the entire country. No one can communicate; the country is isolated from the rest of the world. And sadly, the Egyptian authority banned Aljazeera from broadcasting and has withdrawn it from the Nilesat satellite; it has cut off its broadcasting signals and revoked its license.

President's cancer panel also identifies what you can do about them

February 2, 2011

At last – the idea that most cancer is caused by environmental factors is becoming mainstream.

A report by the President’s Cancer Panel, Reducing Environmental Cancer Risk: What We Can Do Now was published in April 2010 This latest annual report, for 2008–2009, was written by Suzanne H. Reuben for the cancer panel and published by the National Cancer Institute.

February 2, 2011

As we watch Egypt rising, questions such as "who has the right to hold power?" come to mind.

Four hundred years ago, Shakespeare addressed this issue in his "Historical Plays." I had the opportunity to interview IU Department of English Professor Linda Charnes on the WFHB Interchange show on Feb. 1, 2011, and we discussed Shakespeare.

November 19, 2010

Just after Sept. 11, 2001, many governments began investigations into possible insider trading related to the terrorist attacks of that day. Such investigations were initiated by the governments of Belgium, Cyprus, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Monte Carlo, the Netherlands, Switzerland, the United States and others. Although the investigators were clearly concerned about insider trading, and considerable evidence did exist, none of the investigations resulted in a single indictment. That’s because the people identified as having been involved in the suspect trades were seen as unlikely to have been associated with those alleged to have committed the 9/11 crimes.

September 4, 2010

I am a Muslim, and it is my great pleasure to provide Bloomington Alternative readers with some basic information on the subject of Islam. It is important to clarify that my beliefs are my own. I am from Chicago, and I converted to Islam after reading The Autobiography of Malcolm X and then the Q’uran, and after much discussion with my girlfriend at the time, a person who is now my wife. I do not speak for anyone else.

Almost one in four people in the world today say they practice Islam. If you know someone who identifies as a Muslim, you can ask their opinion and gain understanding. Certainly, you will find that not all Muslims think alike.

July 4, 2010

MOUNT VERNON, IND. -- Every conversation I've had with parents of Americans with autism has been riddled with salient moments, when essential truths are revealed about this extraordinarily complex developmental disorder. "Ah ha!" moments, so to speak. Such was the case with my July 2 conversation with Lisa Roach, who lives just outside the Ohio River town of Mount Vernon, Ind.

I had driven to the Posey County capital with Bloomington Alternative intern Megan Erbacher, who had grown up just down the road and has been friends with Roach's daughter Chelsea since childhood. Stan and Lisa Roach's oldest, 26-year-old Travis, has Asperger's Disorder, which is commonly known as "high-functioning autism." While his symptoms had been evident for years, Travis wasn't diagnosed until he was 8. At that time, Lisa learned her son was the first autistic child in the Mount Vernon school system.

May 30, 2010

On a sunny spring afternoon, next to an alley on West Washington Street in Indianapolis, a half-dozen people gather around a portable wooden monument with dozens of names written on it. Cars slowly drive by as the people anoint the ground with oil and recite the 23rd Psalm.

This is the site of a recent murder -- a young man gunned down by a shooter who wounded several others -- and thus the site of the latest prayer vigil held by the Church Federation of Greater Indianapolis. The vigil concluded with coordinator Joe Zelenka leading a unison reading from the fifth chapter of Matthew -- "But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you ...."

There has been a lot of such praying this year. As of early this month, there had been 47 homicides in Indianapolis since Jan. 1, far ahead of last year's pace, with 85 percent of the killings committed with firearms.

July 12, 2009

At the Fifth Annual Midwest Peace and Justice Summit held in Indianapolis on April 4, we gave a workshop titled "Overcoming Hoosier Mediocrity." Our half-hour presentation limned concisely yet thoroughly this all-pervasive mediocrity that confronts us daily and was followed by a lively half-hour discussion that, much to our surprise, demonstrated that we were far from alone in what we sense.

For our presentation, we developed a five-page "Hoosier Mediocrity Fact Sheet" of statistics taken from numerous areas of life -- from economic and employment issues through health issues, quality of life, educational attainment (or rather, lack of it), and environmental issues -- that did, indeed, demonstrate our thesis of all-round Hoosier mediocrity.

March 8, 2009

Today's topic? William Joyce. Born 24th of April, 1906, in Brooklyn, N.Y., to an Englishwoman and an Irish Catholic father.

Joyce's familial ties brought him to his mother's homeland when he was a young adult. There, in College, the young Joyce developed a rather consuming passion for two things: fascism and anti-Semitism.


"This Machine Kills Fascists," declared Woody Guthrie's guitar, in a hand-scrawled message that Guthrie had written on the guitar's face. Fascism, particularly in the 1920s and 1930s, was the name of a political ideology grounded in extreme nationalism and that held, as no less august a capitalist publication than Fortune magazine gushed in July of 1934 that:

"The Corporative State -- Which is not yet the be-all but is certainly the end-all of the Fascist conception of Statehood. ... the capitalist is bound to the State through organizations of capitalists which are also part of the State ... This sounds like something fresh and vital in modern Statecraft. It is."

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