Century Marks

Century Marks

Good Samaritan

Passengers on a bus in Winnipeg, Manitoba, were stunned on a cool morning early this fall when their driver stopped the bus, got out and called to a man who was walking on the sidewalk without shoes. The driver proceeded to give the man his own shoes. A passenger later asked him why he had done that. “I couldn’t stand seeing someone walking barefoot in . . . temperature like this,” the bus driver said (CBC News, September 18).

Get over it

Some Muslim leaders are saying that the Islamic world needs to learn to shrug off insults made against their religion and Muhammad. One group points to an anecdote in the tradition in which a woman put thorns in Muhammad’s path and threw manure at him when in prayer. Muhammad not only tolerated this tormented woman, he went to visit her when she fell ill. A popular Egyptian blogger has stated that violent protests “were more damaging to Islam’s reputation than a thousand so-called ‘Islam-attacking films’” (Nicholas Kristof, New York Times, September 22).

Taxing situation

The more a corporation pays its CEO the more it saves in corporate taxes, according to a study by the Institute for Policy Studies. The tax code for corporations permits them to take unlimited deductions for performance pay to CEOs. IPS studied 26 CEOs who averaged $20.4 million in total compensation last year. Each one of the corporations surveyed paid their CEO more than they paid in federal taxes. The CEOs themselves benefit from a favorable tax code, which saves them millions in federal income taxes (Star Tribune, August 19).

Peace wanted

Gershon Baskin says that the common view among Israelis is that Palestinians don’t want peace with Israel and that Palestinians want to kill Israelis and take their land—and so there is no hope for peace. Baskin, who spends a great deal of time in the West Bank, including the volatile city of Hebron, sees a different reality. He is treated with respect as an Israeli Jew. “I cross borders, go beyond walls, break down barriers and refuse to allow fear of ‘the other’ to turn into hatred,” he said. One Palestinian security official told Baskin that the problem is that Palestinians no longer have contact with Israelis, owing to the separation wall. Baskin believes that both Israelis and Palestinians want peace, in spite of the sense of hopelessness (Jerusalem Post, September 11).

On the one hand

No comprehensive study has been done of the health implications of fracking, the method used to extract pockets of natural gas deep within the earth. Fracking uses fresh water under pressure, which releases a toxic flowback to the surface. Michelle Bamberger, a veterinarian, and Robert Oswald, a Cornell biochemist, have done a study of livestock, wildlife and people in the gaslands of Pennsylvania. They found that cattle exposed to fracking fluid have a high rate of stillbirths, cleft palates, contaminated milk and death. Cats and dogs have seizures, stillbirths, fur loss and vomiting. Humans experience headaches, rashes, nosebleeds and vomiting. In separate research, high levels of benzene were found in western Colorado communities close to fracking operations. In humans, benzene causes leukemia, birth defects and breast cancer (Orion, September/October).