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January 20, 2006 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2006-01-20

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Friday, January 20, 2006


lhbe £libig&rn 3IaUIQ

Editor in Chief

Editorial Page Editors

Managing Editor


We do not object
to a long-term
truce with you on
the basis of fair
conditions that we
- Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, offer-
ing a truce to the United States and its allies in a
video-taped message translated by BBC monitor-
ing, as reported yesterday by BBC News online.


}*= 1



Unsigned editorials reflect the official position of the Daily's editorial board. All
other signed articles and illustrations represent solely the views of their author.

Smoking lm
Focus on tobacco steals from other issues

J oth the facts and the manner
of their presentation sounded
especially daunting. In a mark-
edly grave tone of voice, University Vice
President for Student Affairs E. Roys-
ter Harper told the University Board of
Regents a surprising new statistic: Enter-
ing their first year first year of college,
about three percent of University stu-
dents smoke cigarettes. After their first
year, that number jumps to 25 percent.
Although the statistics were unusual -
the Dean of the School of Public Health
Kenneth Warner called them into ques-
tion, saying,i"There's no way that's accu-
rate' - the regents' shocked response
was not. For a number of years, smoking
has remained a dominant health issue in
the country, garneringmuch attention due
to well-organized campaign against it.
The days of high school smoking loung-
es have given way to an age of Nicorette
patches and widespread education cam-
paigns. Smoking remains a legitimate
and pressing health concern, but over the
past several decades, anti-tobacco activ-

ists have been successful in changing the
public's perception of smoking.
The possibly erroneous statistics Roys-
ter cited could be interpreted as a sign that
University Health Services needs to put
more efforts toward preventing tobacco
use. But what may be more telling is the
level of concern these statistics raised.
Few other public health campaigns have
been as successful at convincing the
general public that smoking is more than
just a bad habit.
Public health activists can learn from
the successful efforts to fight tobacco
use. Mental health issues, for example,
have remained stigmatized for years,
and efforts have only just begun to
increase the public's awareness and
Smoking on campus may be a real
problem and should be treated as such.
However, the celebrity status tobac-
co use receives can also serve as an
important example toward changing
public perception on other, less publi-
cized health concerns.

Centuries in the making


What if I sat
here and
said that
Christopher Colum-
bus didn't discov-
er America? "Big
whoop," you'd dryly
reply. Being a good
little pupil of revi-
sionist history, you'd
surely know about the
Native Americans who inhabited this land
hundreds of years before 1492, and even the
Vikings who explored the New World 400
years before Columbus.
But a map unveiled this week in Beijing
suggests that another man may have beaten
Columbus to America: a Chinese eunuch
named Admiral Zheng He. Oh, the irony if
this proposition of a Chinese Muslim find-
ing America more than 70 years before
Columbus is proven true - in a day when
an emerging China looms over American
That China was once a great maritime
power is not disputed, nor is the fact that
Admiral He was an excellent seafarer. More
disputed are his legendary accomplishments,
which may include exploring America in
1418, rounding the horn of Africa 76 years
before Vasco da Gama, circumnavigating
the globe 100 years before Magellan, and
discovering Australia 300 years before Cap-
tain Cook. So what? Scrutinizing the past is
the best way to prepare for the future, I'm
sure someone wise once said.
If the aforementioned is indeed true, after
discovering America, China did not seek to
colonize but instead retreated into isolation
from the world stage for hundreds of years.
But China never really left us - in fact, it's
with us today in ways only old economists
with thick glasses, huddled in stuffy corners

of Lorch Hall, bother to evaluate.
The Chinese currency, the yuan, was
pegged to the dollar from 1994 to the middle
of last year. As economist Paul Krugman
would tell you, this created a "weird" situ-
Though the Chinese economy remained
behind its American counterpart during this
time, Chinese capital flowed into the United
States, rather than the other, more conven-
tional, way around. The Chinese government
kept buying large amounts of U.S. bonds, and
it currently owns somewhere in the neigh-
borhood of $615 billion in U.S. assets. When
it was unpegged last July, the yuan grew in
comparison to the dollar. Strangely enough,
though China pegged its currency to the dol-
lar to protect it during the Asian economic
crisis, it looks like the dollar is the one that's
been getting the free ride all these years.
Now, if you're like me, you've had enough
of this "Oh boy, look out for China" non-
sense. If China is so big and bad, then why
are we still totally the greatest nation ever?
Are we though? The future of any country
is defined by its present priorities, and ours
just aren't in order.
We cut funds for the greatest investment
in our future - higher education - in order
to finance unwarranted wars, while China
has increased higher education funding
almost tenfold in the last decade. What put
America on top in the first place was a pro-
ductive workforce well suited to the world
economy, and it doesn't look like we'll have
one of those much longer. Maybe China is
ready to pass us. Considering that no repub-
lic in history has lasted more than 300 years,
perhaps it's about time too.
It's not like we're doing anything about
it. Though Tom Friedman may yell himself
hoarse, no one in the dubious Dubya admin-
istration seems to care that the federal deficit

keeps fattening. Talk radio continues to sing
the president's praises, commending him
for spending billions to drive back the evil
Islamic terrorists - ignoring, of course, the
fact that almost nothing the president said
leading up to the Iraq war turned out to be
true. Indeed, the brilliant puppeteer known
as Dick Cheney famously declared that "def-
icits don't matter." Maybe not to you, Dick
- you're almost 65 with a weak heart - but
think of the children!
The amount of debt America is in today
is mind-boggling, even to the president's
usual conservative allies. Stuart Butler of
the Heritage Foundation declared, "To do
nothing would lead to deficits of the scale
we've never seen in this country or any
major industrialized country. We've seen
them in Argentina. That's a chilling thought,
but it would mean that." This "that," let me
clarify, is the infamous Argentine economic
crash of 2001.
Of course, China faces many obstacles,
and its potential bid for world dominance is
likely decades away. Still, following in the
trailblazing footsteps of Admiral He, you
might say, China may soon become the most
powerful nation in the world.
And you know what the screaming heads
will say then. Conveniently forgetting all we
could have done to prevent this, forgetting
the deficits we racked up and forgetting the
massive amounts of spending, the airwaves
will emanate with "I told you so's." Rush
Limbaugh may well remind us that he said
long ago Muslims were a danger to America.
Never mind that this one lived almost 600
years ago. A world leader needs sensibil-
ity in its actions and its rhetoric. Poor old
America has had neither of late.

Dishonorable discbarge
EPA sbould stand firm dn standaids

here's been plenty of toxic dis-
charge from the White House
lately, but it's the stuff coming
out of companies all over Michigan
that has environmentalist groups out-
raged. The Environmental Protection
Agency is considering easing stan-
dards for reporting toxic discharge,
switching from the ever-arduous "long
form" to the more streamlined "short
form." While reducing unnecessary
paperwork should be second-nature to
the EPA, switching to the short form is
counterproductive because it does not
require companies to disclose the exact
amounts of the carcinogens, heavy
metals and other poisons they release.
The EPA's plan, which will be enact-
ed this fall if it receives final approval
from the agency, calls for limiting the
use of the long form to only the top
dogs in the pollution game - those
releasing more than 5,000 pounds
of toxic waste. This is a significant
increase from the previous long-form
cut-off at 500 pounds. But the short
form leaves the exact quantities of
specific pollutants undisclosed, which

is unacceptable because some toxins
can have disastrous impacts even in
small amounts. Here in Michigan, 156
companies would no longer have to
report the quantities of specific toxins
The EPA should not wilt in its mis-
sion to find and hold accountable those
responsible for environmental damage
just to save polluters from some paper-
work. Though this proposed change
in reporting standards would do noth-
ing to alter the actual amount compa-
nies are allowed to pollute, it sends the
wrong message to polluters. Relax-
ing the reporting standards of toxic
discharges is the first perilous step in
moving toward less stringent environ-
mental standards,
The changemakes it easier for com-
panies to skirt environmental stan-
dards, and without proper enforcement
of regulations, even the mighty long
form is just a piece of paper. Now is a
time for the EPA to bear down, hold its
ground and perhaps make a trip over to
the copy machine to run off a few more
long forms.

Syed can be reached
at galad@umich.edu.

En pty pantries
C~w inftunding for fIbod prog rams ponsible

A word from the American Family Association
BY BRYAN KELLYUorganization which happens to be leading GM has since then run out of money, and
the fight on, for, through and in remem- soon GM workers will be out on the street,
Listen: I am a card-carrying, family-asso- brance of America's cultural values, say we where we will probably refuse them food,
ciating American member of the American are boycotting something, that sort of state- clothes and shelter. Such is the plight of the
Family Association, and I am here to put a ment should carry some kind of weight. working poor.
human face on an otherwise faceless group. We have decided to boycott Ford Motor Ford has now decided to advertise in such
My face, if you can imagine it, is beautiful, Company, not because banning the Coca- and such a homosexually targeted magazine.
as is my ass - the kind you sinners covet, Cola Company wasn't enough (although (Facts, like the name of the magazine spe-
thank you very much! dumping all of my Coke into a polluted lake cifically - and all facts in general- do not
I am writing to remind all at the Uni- in homage to our fallen brothers overseas interest me.) We feel that it is only a mat-
versity that we Christian conservatives are was certainly pleasant), but because we feel ter of time before homosexuality ruins Ford
people too, and we, like Jesus Christ and we have found exactly what it is that has as well - when all of Ford, symbolically
straight people, deserve rights too. Princi- been destroying America's Big Three auto- lusting after the loins of another man, will
pal among these rights is the right to boycott makers: homosexuality. destroy itself through its own depravity.
corporations. Just consider these carefully selected We urge Ford to look to its Japanese
Look at the success of historic boycotts. facts compiled just recently: General Motors counterparts, like Toyota and Honda, who
There's the Boston Tea Party that led to the gives benefits to homosexual members of its don't support the rainbow at all, and instead
American Revolution and put an end to tea- workforce. GM is also about two months shame all of their countries' homosexuals
times everywhere; the boycott of triangular away from total bankruptcy. I don't believe into harakiri. Just see how successful it is to
shirts that nearly closed the Triangle Shirt- I need to elaborate on the glaringly obvious be not pro-gay, Bill Ford and Rick Wagoner,
waist Factory (though not in time to save correlation between these two variables. and pray to the Holy Spirit for relief from
hundreds of lives); the boycott of Christ- It all began with the Pontiac Aztec, argu- these urges and for your own soul!
mas by Jews and Muslims everywhere that ably the gayest American car ever produced, Thank you for your attention.
is slowly ruining the American economy. with the possible exception of the Studebak-
(Hava nagila indeed!) er. With the help of some grossly incompe- Kelly is an LSA sophomore. He is not a
So when we, a three-million-member tent leadership and prayers from the AFA, member of the American Family Association.

Ithough steep federal budget
deficits in recent years will
inevitably require that the gov-
ernment balance the Bush administra-
tion's reckless support of irrational tax
cuts, few predicted that disadvantaged
mothers, seniors and children would
end up paying for the war inlIraq and
tax cuts to the wealthy. The Commodity
Supplemental Food Program, a benefi-
cial service that provides food to more
than 50,000 people nationwide, is one
among many social programs that will
suffer funding cuts next year. Unfortu-
nately, it seems that society's most vul-
nerable members are, yet again, paying
for their government's fiscal misdeeds.
The Commodity Supplemental Food
Program .focuses on improving the diet
of underprivileged mothers, children and
seniors by providing USDA commod-
ity foods that include dairy products,
fruits and vegetables - basic staples for
healthy diets that many of the program's
recipients cannot otherwise afford. By
supplying actual food rather than food
stamps, this program fills a unique and

important role. When perusing grocery
store aisles armed with food stamps,
consumers may be tempted to get the
most for their money by buying the
cheapest products, which rarely prove
to be the most nutritious. The CSFP
circumvents this problem by providing
food with high nutritional value to foster
healthy lifestyles, a fundamental neces-
sity for growing children.
Programs like this one play a vital role
in society and should not have to suffer
due to economic difficulties. Because of
these cuts, program leaders will have to
tell 7,700 Michigan residents that they
will no longer receive aid to keep their
children healthy. To cut funding from
those most in need in order to pamper
the wealthy exposes the nation's mis-
placed social and economic priorities.
Surely leaders could find other sources
of revenue without heaping the burden
on the hungry. The government has a
responsibility to take care of all the peo-
ple it represents - not just those with
big bank accounts and deep pockets
who support legislative campaigns.

Extensive research exposes
columnist's hidden agenda
If I wanted, I could dissect Jesse Singal's
The tricks they use (01/19/2006) piece by
piece and show how replacing "Republi-
cans" with "all politicians" would make it
much more accurate. As I read it, I couldn't
help but wonder if Singal is delusional
or just writing partisan garbage so that a
majority of readers agree with him. How-
ever, looking back at some of his previ-
ous work, this approach is hardly new. My
Atheist President (12/02/2006) is just a stab

not well-spoken; Bush doesn't get the real
world, etc.
I, for one, am tired of Singal's column's
wasting space by repeating again and again
that he does not like President Bush and
that all the country's problems are caused
by Republicans.
Nick Flieg
Engineering graduate student
Harvard's got nothing on 'U'
president, football fans

Don't get me wrong, I have a lot of
respect for Harvard, but let me know when
they pack 100,000 fans into a stadium every
Saturday in the fall. Then we'll compare
apples to apples. As a reader, I'd like to see
more features like this in the Daily.
Also, tell Forest Casey he did an excel-
lent job on the photos for the Coleman
Dan O'Conner
LSA freshman

Editorial Board Members: Amy Anspach, Andrew Bielak, Reggie Brown, Gabrielle
D'Angelo, John Davis, Whitney Dibo, Milly Dick, Sara Eber, Jesse Forester, Mara Gay, Jared
Goldberg, Ashwin Jagannathan, Theresa Kennelly, Mark Kuehn, Will Kerridge, Frank Man-
ley, Kirsty McNamara, Rajiv Prabhakar, Matt Rose, David Russell, Katherine Seid, Brian


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