No one could accuse The Chinese of being squeamish about the things they eat--monkeys' brains, owls' eyes, bears' paws and deep fried scorpions are all items on The menu. But most dishes revered as national favorites sound as harmless as boiled rice when compared to the patest pint de jour allegedly gaining favor in Shenzhen--human fetus.
Rumors that dead embryos were being used as dietary supplements started to spread early last year with reports that some doctors in Shenzhen hospitals were eating dead fetuses after carrying out abortions. The doctors allegedly defended their actions by saying the embryos were good for their skin and general health.
A trend was set and soon reports circulated that doctors in the city were promoting fetuses as a human tonic. Hospital cleaning women were seen fighting each other to take the treasured human remains home. Last month, reporters from East Week--a sister publication of Eastern Express--went to Shenzhen to see if the rumors could be substantiated. On March 7, a reporter entered the state-run Shenzhen Health Center for Women and Children feigning illness and asked a female doctor for a fetus. The doctor said the department was out of stock but to come again.
The next day the reporter returned at lunch-time. The doctor eventually emerged from the operating theatre holding a fist size bottle stuffed with thumbsized fetuses.
She said: "There are 10 fetuses here, all aborted this morning. You can take them. We are a state hospital and don't charge anything."
"Normally, we doctors take them home to eat--all free. Since you don't look well, you can take them."
Not every state hospital is as generous with its dead embryos as the Health Center for Women and Children. At the Shenzhen People's Hospital, for example, the reporter was in for a surprise.
When a Ms. Yang, the head nurse, was asked for fetuses, she looked anxious and asked other staff to leave. After closing the door, she asked the undercover buyer in a low voice: "Where did you (get to) know that we sell fetuses?"
The reporter answered: "A doctor friend in Hong Kong told me."
"Who? What is his/her name?"
The reporter was not prepared for this line of questioning and could not come up with a name. Yang told him that fetuses were only for sale within the hospital, and were not for public purchase. She added that some staff would, however, sell the fetuses on to Hong Kong buyers.
The reporter learned that the going rate for a fetus was $10 but when the merchandise was in short supply, the price could go up to $20. But these prices are pin money compared to those set by private clinics, which are said to make a fortune selling fetuses. One chap on Bong Men Lao Street charges $300 for one fetus. The person in charge of the clinic is a man in his 60's. When he saw the ailing reporter, he offered to take an order for fetuses that had reached full term and which, it is claimed, contain the best healing properties. When a female doctor named Yang--no relation--of Sin Hua clinic was asked whether fetuses were edible, she said emphatically: "Of course they are. They are even better than placentas.
"They can make your skin smoother, your body stronger and are good for kidneys. When I was in an army hospital in Jiagti province, I often brought fetuses home. They were pink, like little mice, with hands and feet. Normally, I buy some pork to make soup (with fetuses added). I know they are human beings, and (eating them) feels disgusting. But at that time, it was already very popular."
A Mr. Cheng from Hong Kong claims he has been eating fetus soup for more than six months. To begin, the man, in his 40's, would make the trip to Shenzhen frequently for business and was introduced to fetuses by friends. He says he met a number of professors and doctors in government hospitals who helped him buy the fetuses. "At first, I felt uncomfortable, but doctors said the substances in fetuses could help cure my asthma. I started taking them and gradually, the asthma disappeared," Cheng said.
Now, Cheng only eats fetuses occasionally to top up his treatment, but there was a time when he made regular cross border trips with the gruesome merchandise. "Everytime (I made the trip), I carried a Thermos flask to Shenzhen and brought the fetuses back to Hong Kong to make soup. If they gave me 20 or 30 at a time, I put them in the refrigerator. I didn't have the soup every day--it depends on the supply."
"Usually, I washed the fetuses clean, and added ginger, orange peel and pork to make soup. After taking it for a while, I felt a lot better and my asthma disappeared. I used to take placenta, but it was not so helpful." When asked if he was concerned about fetuses containing diseases, Cheng was dismissive. "I bought them from government hospitals. They would check the pregnant women before doing the operation and only sell them to me if there was no problem. Also, I always boil them over high heat which kills any bacteria." Although Cheng has overcome any squeamishness over eating fetus soup, he says he draws the line at consuming whole dead embryos. He also refrains from telling people of his grisly dietary habits.
Zou Qin, 32, a woman from Hubei with the fine skin of someone several years younger, attributes here well preserved looks to a diet of fetuses. As a doctor at the Lun Hu Clinic, Sou has carried out abortions on several hundred patients. She believes fetuses are highly nutritious and explains the selection criteria. "People normally prefer (fetuses of) young women, and even better, the first baby and a male." She adds: "They are wasted if we don't eat them. The women who receive abortions here don't want the foetuses. Also the foetuses are already dead [when we eat them]. We don't carry out abortions just to eat the foetuses.
"Before, my sisters children were very weak. I heard that fetuses were good for your health and started taking some to my nephews," Zou says without remorse. "I wash them with clear water until they look transparent white and then stew them. Making soup is best." But she admits there are drawbacks to this dubious delicacy. "Fetuses are very smelly and not everybody can take the stink," she said. "You can also make meat cakes by mixing fetuses with minced meat but you have to add more ginger and chives to get rid of the smell."
Hong Kong legislator Dr. Tan Siu-tong is surprised that it could be within anyone's capability to overcome the stench of a dead fetus, even if their stomachs were lined with lead. "When all the placental tissue is dead, the smell is awful and is enough to make you feel sick. It is like having a dead mouse in the house," he said.
The fetuses allegedly eaten by the Chinese are all provided ty China's extensive abortion services. Last year, doctors in the People's Hospital--the biggest in Shenzhen-- carried out more than 7,000 terminations, 509 on Hong Kong women. The Hong Kong Family Planning Association (FPA) estimates that 24 per cent of all abortions on Hong Kong women are performed in the dubious surroundings of a Chinese hospital. A Ms. Li from Hong Kong has had two abortions in Shenzhen but has never heard of people eating fetuses. "But I didn't want the babies, so after the abortions, I just left them with the hospital," she says. "I didn't want to look at them, and I certainly didn't want to keep them. Foetuses of two or three months are just water and blood when they come out. They are so small, how can you eat them?"
Doctors in the territory have responded with disgust and incredulity to stories of people supplementing their diets with fetuses. Many have read articles of fetal cannibalism but none has been able to verify the reports. They are treating the issue with skepticism. Dr. Margaret Kwan, a gynecologist who until two weeks ago held the post of chief executive at the FPA, says: "This is the strangest thing I have ever heard coming out of China. I just hope it is not true."
Dr. Warren Lee, president of the Hong Kong Nutrition Association, is aware of the unsavory rumours. "Eating fetuses is a kind of traditional Chinese medicine and is deeply founded in Chinese folklore. In terms of nutrition, a fetus would be a good source of protein and fats, and there are inerals in bone. But I don't know if eating fetuses is just folklore or more than that," he says. According to Lee, it is conceivable that fetuses are rich in certain hormones that are beneficial to the adult human body, but should this be the case, the fetal matter would have to be converted into an injectible form for best results, as most hormones including the hormone for diabetes--insulin--are broken down in the digestive system before they have a chance to be absorbed by the body.
But Lee suggests that anyone who eats a fetus would be seeking a remedy that is far more elusive than a hormone or mineral. "Some people may think there is also an unidentified substance or chemical that has healing powers, but there is no evidence that this is true." Lee urges people to be wary--"There are people out there who just want to make money and they will come up with all sorts of formulas or substances, which, they say will cure diseases."
As a child, Patrick Yau was fed on human placentas by his mother who worked at a local hospital, but in his current position as a psychologist with the Social Welfare Department he is both repulsed and shocked by the notion of eating fetuses. "As a Catholic, I object to abortions because I believe the fetus is a human life, and I certainly object to eating a dead baby after it has been aborted," he says. Yau concedes that in China, where the one child policy has turned abortions into an acceptable remedy to an unfortunate human blunder, people may have adopted a new outlook on life before birth, such that embryos are stripped of their status as human beings.
But Tang fails to understand how anyone anywhere can convince themselves "that they are just eating an organism when they are actually eating a dead body." "It may not be a formed human being, but when they think about it most people would think: 'Ugh! No, I can't eat that.' I don't think civilized people with an education could do that sort of thing."
Dr Wong, a Hong Kong doctor who practices Western medicine, thinks only the ignorant would eat human fetuses. He explains that fetuses contain mucoploysaccharide, which is beneficial to the metabolism, but states that it can be found in a lot of other food. Chinese doctor Chu Ho-Ting agrees that there is no place for fetuses in medicine, and suggests that it might even be unhealthy if the pregnant woman was infected by disease.
"Most bacteria can be killed under 100 degrees heat but some require 400 degrees. Some people believe eating fetuses can strengthen the immunity of the human body against diseases, but this is wrong. Although fetuses contain protein, they are not as nutritious as placenta, which contains different kinds of nutrients. But even placenta has to be taken with other Chinese herbs."
A recent study, funded by the National Science Foundation, alleges that the twentieth century has been warmer than the five centuries preceding it, and the years 1997, 1995 and 1990 were the warmest since1400 AD. Michael Mann, a climatologist at the University of Massachusetts, admits that in past centuries natural causes did correlate to fluctuations in climate changes, but that the warming during this century has been continuous and "doesn't relate to any natural factors we looked at. Instead, it has a relationship to the increase in greenhouse gases and industrialization."
However, this study uses a standard manipulation of statistics, by starting its data at a known low or high point, depending on what one needs to "prove." If its data had started in 1000 AD, it would have to report that temperatures then were warmer than those of today. (The "Little Ice Age" occurred between 1100 and 1750 AD.) And if environmentalists used all known data -- not just select data -- then it would also be relevant to report that temperatures have fluctuated continuously over geologic time, by as much as twelve times higher than the 0.8*F rise claimed for this century.
More comprehensive studies of temperatures reveal that from 1880 to 1950 the northern hemisphere warmed 0.9*F, but when annual fossil fuel carbon emissions -- the alleged cause of global warming -- increased by 250% from 1950 to 1980, warming became virtually non-existent. Since temperatures didn't steadily rise but declined when those emissions dramatically increased, then this deceptive NSF study only strengthens the fact that environmentalists fundamentally seek to destroy industrialization.
Their routine methodology of using select data out-of-context, which gives their exaggerated or mythical claims a veneer of truth, lead to last years climate accord in Kyoto, Japan. Various nations met then and agreed to impose increased or new government-backed dictates on wealthier, industrialized nations that shackle the use of their life-blood: fossil fuels.
Environmentalists formed the basis of this accord by similar pseudo-science and illogic: their upholding of a "consensus" of 2,500 scientists who endorsed the UN's 1996 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, which forecasted catastrophic global warming, and their matter-of-fact implication that a "consensus" equals truth.
First, the general circulation models on which this "consensus" agreed that catastrophic global warming exists are incomplete indicators of climate warming. These computerized climate models both failed to forecast El Nino and inaccurately projected its end by Christmas of 1997. With such blatant mistakes, how can they be relied on to forecast climate changes 100 years from today?
Second, most of the scientists of this "consensus" who signed this ICCP report were not climatologist. They included specialists in botany, biology, entomology, statistics, zoology, and oceanography, along with college presidents and numerous graduate students. Many people were counted as "contributors," meaning their names or work were used but that they were not necessarily responsible for writing or even endorsing the report. Even people who prominently oppose the theory of catastrophic global warming were counted.
Contrast it with a petition that was signed earlier this year by an unprecedented 17,000 American scientists -- 10,000 of whom have advanced academic degrees. Essentially, the petition states that the U.S. government should reject the Kyoto accord, since no convincing scientific evidence that man-made gases cause or will "possibly" cause catastrophic global warming; that the proposed limits on these gases would harm the environment and damage the health and welfare of mankind, since substantial scientific evidence shows that such warming can produce many beneficial effects for man, animals and plants; and that it would hinder the advance of science and technology.
To the consensus-equals-truth mentalities behind the Kyoto accord, the overwhelming number of signers of this petition destroys their pseudo-"consensus". Couple this with their blatant pseudo-science, and clearly environmentalists have perpetrated another fraud.
Their response to this petition has amounted to their ignoring and downplaying it or charging that corporations financed it. In reality, it was financed entirely by private donations, with no contributions from industry. This prejudicial attack against industry grows weaker as increasingly more corporations (e.g., Mobil, Texaco, Exxon, Chrysler, Toyota, Ford, Dupont, Weyerhaeuser, Boeing, Maytag ), intimidated by the coercive powers that environmentalists wield in government (e.g., the EPA), finance environmental organizations. Furthermore, most scientists who forecast catastrophic global warming have their research financed largely by government grants, which dissolve if their work counters that forecast.
Through their corrupt scientific methodology to their exaggerated and false claims that are backed by government guns, environmentalists manipulate and coerce men into accepting their ultimate goal: returning man to his meager, pre-industrial existence.
* Joseph Kellard is a freelance writer living in New York. To hire him; to publish or reprint his work; or to be included on his e-mail list to receive his articles, essays and letters, please write to Mr. Kellard by e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org, or by mail at: P.O. Box 334, Rockville Centre, NY 11571-0334.
What a surprise. Out of an obscure provision in the 1996 telecommunications bill has emerged a vast bureaucracy -- complete with high-paid executives and increased taxes -- to help wire schools and libraries to the Internet.
The 1996 act, you may recall, was designed to help deregulate the telecommunications industry, increase competition and bring about lower prices for consumers. Those carrying out the law were also to ensure that tele-communications services were universally available, even in remote, high-cost service areas.
The bill also asked the FCC to enhance the access of American schoolchildren to the Internet. The provision didn't get much attention at the time --but it sure is now. That's because the FCC has chosen to apply the universal service standard, which has always applied to basic telephone services, to the Internet access provision.
The commission announced plans to give discounts of up to 90 percent to schools and libraries that contract with private companies to rewire the facilities for Internet use. It established something known as the Schools and Libraries Corporation. And it gave the administrator charged with running the bureaucracy, Ira Fishman, an annual salary of $200,000. Total cost of the program: $2.25 billion.
Vice President Al Gore, always generous when other people's money is involved, announced that the administration was well pleased with the proposal and would oppose attempts to do away with it. Alaska Republican Sen. Ted Stevens was less enthusiastic. "I would urge you to read the law," he told FCC Chairman William Kenard during a hearing. "It says the commission should set up systems to enhance -- to enhance" Internet access. "From that has come an absolute demand to rewire the schools. Two-thirds of the costs came from this internal rewiring, not access. And that's the heart of this bonanza."
There are lots of bonanzas in Washington, of course. Some of them cost well over $2 billion. What attracted so much attention to this one was that telephone users are being stuck with the tab for all these good intentions. Not only that, but the long-distance carriers -- AT&T, MCI and others --who have to collect the tax, intend to single out and identify the roughly $1 per month tax in its own line item beginning July 1. So legislation that was supposed to lower consumer costs may wind up increasing them.
That's a political problem sufficient to attract the attention of federal lawmakers. The FCC and some consumer groups had hoped the carriers would simply absorb (read: hide) the tax, meaning no line item. Not that telephone customers wouldn't still have paid it. They just wouldn't have been able to see it or know who to blame for it.
Under pressure from Congress, late last week the FCC voted to reduce the size of its school-enhancement plans from $2.25 billion to $1.3 billion. The panel also announced it would spread out its financial munificence over 18 months rather than 12 months, cut out wealthier schools from the list of beneficiaries and fold the newly created corporation into some larger bureaucracy.
But what is pruned, rather than pulled out by the roots, can grow back and crowd out more important social goods, such as allowing Americans to make their own spending decisions on education. It's not at all clear that upgrading schools for computers will upgrade student performance. Indeed, it may simply divert attention from the nation's real educational problems. And that could drive up the cost of the Gore tax well beyond $1 a month.
In Hollywood . . . there are more gun owners in the closet than homosexuals." -- Charlton Heston, new president of the National Rifle Association.
In an announcement that took Hollywood insiders by surprise, Helen LaCorcia, star of the hit ABC sitcom "Helen," admitted today that she has for many years secretly been the owner of a handgun.
"It's time to come clean," Ms. LaCorcia said, patting a holster strapped stylishly under her left shoulder. "If Hollywood and the rest of America can't accept me for what I am, it's their problem, not mine."
Ms. LaCorcia, appearing at a hastily called press conference, then drew her Sig Sauer 9-millimeter semiautomatic and brandished it in front of the cameras. "And yes, it's loaded," she said. "Deal with it."
Later, in an unscheduled appearance on "Oprah," Ms. LaCorcia elaborated on her revelation. "Hollywood has been hypocritical on this issue for years," she said. "Everyone knows that the industry is full of weapons enthusiasts, but no one wants to admit it. They're all afraid that nobody will cast them if word gets around that they're packing heat."
Asked if her eponymous television character will also be coming out as a gun owner, the gamine comedian said: "Absolutely. In fact, we've already scripted an episode in which Helen meets someone -- someone special -- who takes her to a firing range and persuades her to fire off a couple practice rounds. She's converted immediately."
Ms. LaCorcia then added, "We're hoping to get Quentin Tarantino for the part."
Across the nation, gun industry analysts were quick to hail the announcement as a milestone. "Sure, we've had plenty of sitcoms with pistol-toting sidekicks and best friends," said Graydon Menaker, media critic for Guns & Ammo magazine. "But this is the first time we'll be seeing a fully armed major character in a top-rated comedy series. It's historic."
Some television executives were more cautious. "The audience for shows like 'Helen' tends to be a lot more pacifist than we realize," said Les Goreham, the vice president for product placement at CBS. "Our friends at ABC are in uncharted waters here."
Lobbyists and representatives of gun-control organizations responded to the announcement with derision. "These are supposed to be family shows," complained Adelaide Tift of Americans Against the Propagation of Firearms. "Next we'll have the Nanny toting a .22-caliber Beretta. Or Frasier with an Uzi in his briefcase. And where will it end? 'Third Glock From the Sun'?"
The real test of Ms. LaCorcia's decision, however, will come from regular watchers of "Helen," and at least some of them were cheering her courage. "I'm proud of her," said Malia, a self-described munitions performance artist from New York. "It's about time someone stood up and showed the world that owning a handgun doesn't make us any different from anyone else. I had actually lost interest in the show recently, but now I'll be glued to my set every week."
But other longtime fans were less certain in their reactions. "I guess I'll still watch it," said Jennifer, a Chicago native who has been a devotee of the show since its premiere. "As long as the writers don't get too trigger-happy, you know? I watch 'Helen' to have a few laughs, not to be lectured at about the social acceptability of possessing weapons."
Looking suddenly embarrassed, she quickly added, "Not that there's anything wrong with that."
The case was a challenge to the program in Texas brought by the Washington Legal Foundation, a conservative public interest law firm that advocates property rights.
The Court did not decide whether or not the programs constitute an unconstitutional taking of property, but sent the case back to lower courts to consider that question.
The programs, which operate in all 50 states, generate more than $100 million a year, which is mostly channeled through legal services foundations.
IOLTA programs originated in Australia in the 1960s, and were adopted in the United States when Congress first authorized banks to pay interest on checking accounts for some depositors.
According to a brief filed by the American Bar Association, IOLTA programs are second only to the federal government as a source of funds for legal services, accounting for as much as quarter of legal services budgets. Conservatives in Congress have been trying to kill or drastically curb the federal Legal Services Corporation for 20 years.
While in Birmingham, England, last month, President Clinton quietly signed a skillfully crafted executive order that fundamentally alters the relationship between Washington and the states and seriously erodes the balance of powers established by the 10th Amendment.
Executive Order 13083 released May 14, and which now has the power of law, begins innocently enough by restating the principles of federalism that limit the power and scope of the U.S. government under the Constitution. In fact, my reaction to reading the first two sections of the order was surprise that such principles would even be acknowledged by the Clinton administration, which typically acts as if there are no limits to the jurisdiction of the federal government.
That's the window dressing. The meat of this chilling document comes in section 3, where the president establishes all the exceptions to such principles.
"It is important to recognize the distinction between matters of national or multi-state scope (which may justify Federal action) and matters that are merely common to the States (which may not justify Federal action because individual States, acting individually or together, may effectively deal with them)," the order reads. It then lists nine kinds of issues that would justify unilateral federal action:
When the matter to be addressed by Federal action occurs interstate as opposed to being contained within one State's boundaries. When the source of the matter to be addressed occurs in a State different from the State (or States) where a significant amount of the harm occurs. When there is a need for uniform national standards. When decentralization increases the costs of government thus imposing additional burdens on the taxpayer. When States have not adequately protected individual rights and liberties. When States would be reluctant to impose necessary regulations because of fears that regulated business activity will relocate to other States. When placing regulatory authority at the State or local level would undermine regulatory goals because high costs or demands for specialized expertise will effectively place the regulatory matter beyond the resources of State authorities. When the matter relates to Federally owned or managed property or natural resources, trust obligations, or international obligations. When the matter to be regulated significantly or uniquely affects Indian tribal governments.
In other words, the federal government can damn well do what it pleases anytime it damn well wants.
Let's face it, this list of exceptions could be interpreted as giving Washington the right to intercede in virtually any matter, any time, anywhere. Think about it.
Health care? You bet. That's a matter that occurs interstate. Environmental standards? We can't leave an important matter like that to the states. Education? Well, we need national standards. Law enforcement? Crime occurs everywhere, doesn't it? Gun laws? Some states are not doing their part to protect people from firearms. Discrimination? Would you believe there are still some states that don't allow homosexuals to marry one another?
State and local government just became advisory boards to Washington -- more specifically, to the president, or, shall we say, dictator of the United States of America. After all, this sweeping rewrite of the Constitution was accomplished by one official, without consultation, advice or consent of the Congress or judicial branch.
The executive order states that the federal government will "permit elected officials and other representatives of State and local government to provide meaningful and timely input in the development of regulatory polices. ..." Forget about ordinary, private citizens. They are mere subjects, as far as Clinton is concerned.
With one stroke of the pen, while, perhaps fittingly, on foreign soil, President Clinton has redefined the American system of government. And I haven't seen a word written about it in the Washington Post, The New York Times or the Wall Street Journal. More importantly, there wasn't a vote in Congress or even a committee hearing on a "law" that would make our Founding Fathers' heads spin with incredulity.
All of this should leave us with several overriding questions: Why did he feel he needed to establish such a foundation? Where is this all leading? What is Bill Clinton planning in his final days in office? Or is he planning to leave at all?
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