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February 17, 2005 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2005-02-17

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4A - The Michigan Daily -Thursday, February 17, 2005

OPINION

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JASON Z. PESICK
Editor in Chief

SUHAEL MOMIN
St aSINGER
Editorial Page Editors

ALISON Go
Managing Editor

EDITED AND MANAGED BY STUDENTS AT
THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN SINCE 1890

420 MAYNARD STREET
ANN ARBOR, MI 48109
tothedaily@michigandaily.com

NOTABLE
QUOTABLE
' ' I believe the
so-called the
investor class
ought to be every
American."
- President Bush, speaking to a crowd
of supporters in New Hampshire,
touting his Social Security reforms,
as reported yesterday by CNN.com

S

COLIN DALY IHI: N4 AN DALY

NMI

w~ow,
Yo...

'In

I

/

Go west young neurotic college student
ZAC PESKOWITZ THE LOWR, FREQUENCIES

to

fter four years
spent trudging
through the snows
of Michigan and 18 years
before that on the slightly
more temperate East Coast,
it's time to fulfill my mani-
fest destiny. Amid the typi-
cal pre-graduation anxieties,
suddenly and unexpectedly,
I picture myself as a West Coast person. Spurred
on by an irrational love for the Beach Boys, Sun
Microsystems and a disturbing tendency to take
at face value Jim Morrison's drunken declaration
that "the west is the best," I have boldly shed my
affiliation with the American East. My girlfriend
also tells me that men look great in a good pair of
Italian leather sandals, except when they're wear-
ing socks.
The carefree American with an ability for
mobility, effortlessly dashing from state to state
and coast to coast is one of the great traditions
of this nation. Liberated from the fetters of lan-
guage differences, Americans can roam across
the breadth of the continent and explore it for
themselves.
I have a few assertions about the East of my
upbringing that need to be tested in the laboratory
of experience. New York is not the center of the
world. The city's greatest sin is its infatuation with
itself. Christo and Jeanne-Claude's The Gates?
Nothing more than a mere clothesline featuring
an abundance of your orange-loving aunt's muu-

muus - an installation that would garner nothing
but hoots of derision by the New York press if it
were created in Cleveland. D.C. is even worse with
its hordes of would-be lobbyists posing as idealists
running around with megalomaniacal delusions
of changing the world. Everything dreadful ever
said by an American president about Washington
is true, from John Adams's complaints to John F.
Kennedy's quip about Northern hospitality and
Southern efficiency.
Swept away from this sclerotic, statist, corpo-
ratist and crumbling world of the East and inex-
tricably drawn toward the kaleidoscopic expanse
of sunshine and surf. If Dave Eggers could do it,
why can't I? Buoyed by my soon-to-be-realized
freedom, I looked at a map of the great West and
slowly worked my way north up the coast, evalu-
ating each metropolis for its suitability as a future
hometown.
San Diego's climate may be unsurpassed, but
I was never impressed by the surfer culture. A
city that's greatest contribution to world history is
"walking the nose" is insufficient for my needs.
Los Angeles, in contrast, has the unique geo-
graphical and cultural advantage of possessing tar
pits, but the dreck produced by most of the city's
studios do little to excite me. Most discouraging
of all, my computer programming skills are inad-
equate for earning sustenance in the glistening
Bay Area. There's always the possibility of pan-
handling in Golden Gate Park, but after the death
of Jerry Garcia and the emigration of Deadheads
from the area, this option will never have the same

cachet.
It is the colder climes of the Pacific Northwest
that certainly hold an innate advantage over the
East. Portland, Ore. with its verdant forests located
just outside the city limits is the ideal location for
a yuppie with cosmopolitan pretensions who also
has a side interest in logging. One big plus: My
police record is sufficiently nonexistent to secure
me a spot on the Portland Trail Blazer's roster.
Seattle has a library and more software compa-
nies. Vancouver, the crown jewel of the North-
west, is off limits because of its unstable political
situation, being part of Canada and all. But there
is hope for those who still cling to the promise
of James Polk's favorite exclamation "Fifty-Fdur
Forty or Fight."
America has lost much of the obsession with its
geographical differences. Nick Carraway's intri-
cate meditations on the innate differences between
the humble Midwesterners and rapacious native
New Yorkers who populate "The Great Gatsby"
seem quaint in an America of the interstate high-
way system, Southwest Airlines and Starbucks.
At the same time that physical distance is being
obliterated by faster and more efficient forms of
transportation, we are apparently becoming more
similar in what we consume and how we spend
our time. As important distinctions dissolve into
trivialities, there is nothing left but to imagine dif-
ferences where they no longer exist.

6

I

I

Peskowitz can be reach
at zpeskowi@umich.ed

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

ed
du.

Council stands in Rport of
same-sexa cuebenf
To THE DAIIx:
The University Diversity Council, an appoint-
ed committee of 30 faculty and staff from across
the University community in Ann Arbor, joins
University President Mary Sue Coleman and the
University's executive officers in their steadfast
support of same-sex domestic partner benefits
for University faculty and staff offered since
1995. This support represents an important
demonstration of the University's commitment
to an inclusive, safe and welcoming community
with respect and equity for all its members. We
embrace all members of our outstanding work-
force who help make this the open community
and world-class university it is. We, the members
of the University Diversity Council, offer our
assistance to the president, executive officers and
members of the University community in sus-
taining this commitment.
David Gordon
Chair, University Diversity Council
Rosa Angulo-Barroso , Percy Bates,

Charles Behling, Patricia Coleman-Burnss,
William Collins, Cathleen Conway-Perrin,
Gloria Edwards, Deborah Meyers Greene,
Linda Groat, Jeffery Harrold, Richard Lich-
tenstein, John Matlock, Pat McCune, Henry
Meares, Robert Megginson, A.T. Miller,
Alexandra Moffett, Lester Monts, Patrick
Naswell, Robert Ortega, Valener Perry, Erik
Santos, David Schoem, Derrick Scott, Lau-
rita Thomas, Trey Williams, Evans Young
Members, University Diversity Council
Coumnist's hatefd rhetoric
disregards Isrti Practices
To THE DAILY:
I am not sure that I know how to approach
Dan Shuster's column (Israel and the Demo-
crats, 02/16/2005) without being somewhat
shocked - I was not aware that one could hate
Palestinians so strongly. When, for example,
he even criticizes former President Jimmy
Carter of making it "his personal agenda to
demonize Israel," one is reminded yet again
of the uncritical and blind support for Israel

("Wherever we stand, we stand with Israel,"
as the T-shirt says) that sweeps this campus
despite Israel's decades-long history of land
appropriation and expansionism, military
violence against a civilian population, settle-
ment expansion, etc. (see www.btselem.org for
more specifics). Why does Shuster not mention
this history? Because he can: The University
Board of Regents refuses to recognize this his-
tory when it invests in military corporations
directly profiting from the Israeli occupation
of Palestinian land. There is no excuse for this
kind of hateful rhetoric.
Tarek Dika
LSA senior
The letter writer is the vice chair of Students
Allied for Freedom and Equality.

I

WRffE FoR DAILY OpiioWt
OPInIoN@MICHK~ANDAILY COM

VIEWPOINT
Coke-free University of Michigan

I
4
I

BY AMIT SRIVASTAVA
We are heartened to learn that the University
- a premier institution of higher learning - is on
its way to joining the growing ranks of universi-
ties internationally that are stopping business-as-
usual with Coca-Cola Corporation because of the
company's violations of human rights and the envi-
ronment. Coca-Cola's track record in India is one
such example of how Coca-Cola violates human
rights and the environment. As a result, any con-
tract with the Coca-Cola company is in violation
of the University's Vendor Code of Conduct, and
the University must not renew its contract with the
Coca-Cola company.
We would like to bring your attention to Coca-
Cola's practices in India that have resulted in severe
hardships for people in communities across India
who live around its bottling facilities.
Specifically, Coca-Cola's operations have led to
the following problems:
Water shortages: Coca-Cola's indiscriminate
extraction of large amounts of water from the com-
mon groundwater resource has resulted in a sig-
nificant drop in the groundwater table, and many

Ground Water Board, a government of India
agency, has held Coca-Cola responsible for the
significant decline in the water table in areas of
its bottling plants.
Water and Soil Pollution: Coca-Cola has
polluted the scarce groundwater and soil around
its bottling operations, directly as a result of dis-
charging its waste water back into the surround-
ing fields. Tests by the Central Pollution Control
Board, a government of India agency, found that
the sludge from Coca-Cola's effluent treatment
plant was hazardous and included heavy metals,
including cadmium.
Toxic Waste as Fertilizer: Coca-Cola has also
engaged in the outrageous practice of distributing
the solid waste from its plants to farmers in the
area - as fertilizer! Tests conducted by the Brit-
ish Broadcasting Corporation on samples of the
solid waste confirmed the presence of known car-
cinogen, cadmium, as well as lead, in the waste,
effectively making the waste toxic. Coca-Cola
only stopped this practice when ordered by the
state government. The long-term implications of
exposure to the toxic waste remains unclear.
Contaminated Drinks: In 2003, tests conduct-

products were safe. The report also charges the
company with not doing enough to recharge the
groundwater.
Coca-Cola's operations in India point to a pat-
tern of abuse, disregard and double standards. The
facts surrounding Coca-Cola's abuses in India
speak for themselves, and we invite you to visit
www.IndiaResource.org for further details, includ-
ing documentation of the facts.
Unfortunately, the Coca-Cola company has
chosen to respond to the growing crisis in India by
treating it as a public relations problem. We strong-
ly believe that this is not a problem that Coca-Cola
can "spin" away, as much as it would like to. Our
assertion is supported by the fact that literally thou-
sands of community members all across India con-
tinue to organize and fight for their lives, directly
challenging the injustices being committed by the
Coca-Cola company.
In a country like India, where over 70 percent of
the population still makes a living related to agri-
culture, taking away water and poisoning the land
and the water is a sure way to destroy lives, liveli-
hoods and communities.
As an institution of higher learning, and a very

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