- The Washington Times - Friday, June 1, 2007

Unfree press in Cuba

Martin Arostegui’s article on the increased media censorship and repression occurring in Latin America is disturbing (“Morales, Correa target TV foes,” Page 1, Thursday). Clearly, Bolivian President Evo Morales and Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa have drawn support and inspiration from the likes of the Castro brothers and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

In Cuba, the second-largest prison for journalists in the world, the treatment of foreign and Cuban journalists is appalling. More than 23 independent Cuban journalists are imprisoned, and the regime censors or expels foreign journalist who report unfavorably on the regime. Earlier this year, a correspondent from Mexico’s El Universal was told to leave, a Chicago Tribune correspondent’s credentials to report from the island were not renewed, and a BBC reporter was refused an entry visa. Furthermore, foreign journalists are required to obtain a special visa, a process that often takes several months. How the international media could be able to predict months in advance when they would need to cover developments in the island remains a mystery.

However, Cuba’s situation has drawn little attention — and even less outrage from America’s mainstream media. Perhaps if America’s media were outraged, fellow journalists in Latin America would not end up like their Cuban counterparts — censored, expelled or imprisoned.


Chief of staff

Center for a Free Cuba


Bush’s immigration failure

As dispiriting as the latest assault by President Bush on the Republican base and other mainstream Americans is (“Bush hits foes of alien bill,” Page 1, Wednesday), we must not overlook the obvious good news. He will not be on the ballot next year.

Republicans should do quite well in 2008 if they stand firmly in opposition to Mr. Bush’s wrongheaded policies on illegal immigration, federal spending, education funding and various other matters, while articulating more persuasively than he has been able to do the principles underlying his policies that have been right — national security, judicial appointments, taxation, etc.

This approach will sharply distinguish them from opposing Democrats, whose incoherence, negativity and failure to provide leadership in any significant way since they attained their congressional majority should repel most voters other than leftist ideologues and die-hard partisans.

In any event, opposition to Mr. Bush on this immigration bill is in his own best interest. Passage of this measure would completely sink his presidency and irreparably tarnish his legacy.


Phoenix, Md.

Rachel Carson and DDT

Angela Logomasini’s mostly terrific Op-Ed column on Rachel Carson and DDT (“A deadly legacy, Thursday) was spoiled by the perpetuation of the myth about DDT harming birds of prey.

As early as 1921, the journal Ecology reported that bald eagles were threatened with extinction — 22 years before DDT production even began. According to a report in the National Museum Bulletin, the bald eagle reportedly had vanished from New England by 1937 — 10 years before widespread use of the pesticide.

But by 1960 — 20 years after the Bald Eagle Protection Act and at the peak of DDT use — the Audubon Society reported counting 25 percent more eagles than in its pre-1941 census. U.S. Forest Service studies reported an increase in nesting bald eagle productivity from 51 in 1964 to 107 in 1970, according to the 1970 Annual Report on Bald Eagle Status.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service attributed bald eagle population reductions to a “widespread loss of suitable habitat” but noted that “illegal shooting continues to be the leading cause of direct mortality in both adult and immature bald eagles,” according to a 1978 report in the Endangered Species Tech Bulletin. A 1984 National Wildlife Federation publication listed hunting, power line electrocution, collisions in flight and poisoning from eating ducks containing lead shot as the leading causes of eagle deaths.

In addition to these reports, numerous scientific studies and experiments vindicate DDT. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologists fed large doses of DDT to captive bald eagles for 112 days and concluded that “DDT residues encountered by eagles in the environment would not adversely affect eagles or their eggs,” according to a 1966 report published in the Transcripts of 31st North America Wildlife Conference. The USFWS examined every bald eagle found dead in the United States between 1961-1977 (266 birds) and reported no adverse effects caused by DDT or its residues.

One of the most notorious DDT “facts” is that it thinned bird eggshells. But a 1970 study published in Pesticides Monitoring Journal reported that DDT residues in bird eggshells were not correlated with thinning. Numerous other feeding studies on caged birds indicate that DDT isn’t associated with eggshell thinning.

In the few studies claiming to implicate DDT as the cause of thinning, the birds were fed diets that were either low in calcium, included other known eggshell-thinning substances or that contained levels of DDT far in excess of levels that would be found in the environment — and even then, the massive doses produced much less thinning than what had been found in eggshells in the wild.

Most of this evidence was available to the Environmental Protection Agency administrative judge who presided over the 1971-1972 hearings about whether DDT should be banned. No doubt it’s why he ruled that, “The use of DDT under the regulations involved here does not have a deleterious effect on freshwater fish, estuarine organisms, wild birds or other wildlife.”

Yet it’s the myths, not the facts that endure. Why? The answer is endless repetition. If we want, as The Washington Times has editorialized in the past, the malarial regions nations to embrace DDT use, the repetition of this myth must end.




Rachel Carson wrote in Silent Spring that “it is not my intention that chemical insecticides never be used.” Observing the environmental consequences of uncontrolled pesticide broadcasting, she advocated a balanced approach that would achieve sustainable success while safeguarding the environment and, ultimately, human health. Perhaps some environmentalists and others have forgotten her core vision.

The re-emergence of malaria in Africa was promoted by many disparate factors — political, economic, environmental and medical — and controlling this disease will require a sustained, comprehensive and well-funded effort. The World Health Organization endorses the targeted indoor use of DDT as one facet of a comprehensive strategy to control malaria transmission in Africa. However, there are no easy answers to this problem, and indoor DDT use, although potentially important in some localities, offers no swift and sure total cure.

Substantial efforts to combat the new West Nile virus invasion have been undertaken that use insecticides as one component of an integrated pest-management strategy. These efforts also include surveillance, mosquito source reduction efforts and public education to help people ensure their personal safety against infection. The West Nile virus is permanently established in the United States, but integrated pest-management programs, if implemented faithfully, can permanently reduce the risk of contracting West Nile virus disease.

Everyone, green or not, must take pains to be accurate when bolstering positions with facts. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported almost 24,000 confirmed West Nile virus infections, but the death toll to date represents about 4 percent of total cases and is substantially less than the 5,000 number offered by Angela Logomasini in her Thursday Op-Ed column, “A deadly legacy.” Perhaps “we know that cancer is caused primarily by smoking, poor diets and infections.” I will believe that assertion when the “we” authorities are identified explicitly and the confirming data revealed. Until then, I will celebrate the legacy of Rachel Carson and her vision of balance and precaution.


Professor of Microbiology

Midwestern University

Glendale, Ariz.

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