The Behrend beacon. (Erie, Pa.) 1998-current, December 03, 1998, Image 6

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    Page 6- The Behrend College Beacon - Thursday, December 3 , 1998
S. Africa slow to react to rise in AIDS infections
By Lynne Duke
The Washington Post
- As the startling spread of AIDS in
Africa continues to thwart the
continent’s development, South Af
rica the region’s economic power
house is showing such rapid AIDS
growth that overall life expectancy
here could fall by nearly a third over
the next decade.
About 14 percent of South Africa’s
32 million people are infected with the
human immunodeficiency virus
(HIV), which causes AIDS, and 1,500
more are diagnosed with the virus
each day, according to government
statistics. If the virus’ spread contin
ues as it is now, South Africa’s over
all life expectancy could fall from
around 68 years to 48 years in the first
6 weeks
Arctic hut
By Kevin Sullivan and Mary Jordan
The Washington Post
TOKYO - They survived on cold
porridge and rice and endured nightly
visits from polar bears who clawed
on the door of their tiny hut. For a
month and a half, three filmmakers
stranded by blizzards on a desolate
Russian island above the Arctic
Circle mostly sat in the darkness to
conserve fuel and communicated by
e-mail with would-be rescuers on
three continents.
For six weeks blizzards raged
across the mountains of Wrangel Is
land in the East Siberian Sea. The
two-room research hut was in dark
ness 21 hours a day, with only three
hours of weak twilight. The men had
three books: one in each of their na
tive languages. By last weekend,
their food was nearly exhausted, with
no way to get supplies in or them out.
Then Tuesday, the weather cleared
just enough for a helicopter to make
the trip across the frozen sea, pick
the men up and carry them to safety
on the Siberian mainland. Tuesday
night, they were resting in a hotel in
the frontier settlement of Pevek, it
self an ice-locked and desolate Arc
tic outpost but a welcome sight for
three tired men.
“Everybody is healthy and in good
humor,” Nikita Ovsyannikov, a Rus
sian wildlife expert on the team, told
Reuters news agency by telephone
from Pevek. “We were in a warm
cabin with enough fuel, quite safe
and everybody was healthy. The only
real problem was that we were run
ning out of food.”
“Basically our health is good but
we are thinner,” Tatsuhiko
Kobayashi, a Japanese television pro
ducer, told the wire service. “I lost
eight kilos (18 pounds).... It was very
cold ... and we had packed just a few
clothes for autumn.”
Michael Stedman, managing direc
tor of Natural History New Zealand
Ltd., a film company co-producing
the documentary on Arctic wildlife
that brought the men to the island in
mid-September, said the three “were
in pretty good condition given what
they’ve just gone through the mea
ger food rations, the extreme cold and
the psychological tensions.... It’s the
end of a horrendous journey.”
One of the ironies of the rescue was
the key role played by technology -
and its limitations. The world is now
so wired to the Internet that even
three people stranded in one of the
most remote and difficult-to-reach
places on the globe were able to send
e-mail via a battery-powered satel
lite telephone. But while they could
have ordered a thousand pizzas with
a click of their mouse, the Internet
could not bring them the food they
needed to survive.
“It would have been much more
horrific without that satellite phone,
in the polar darkness with polar bears
scratching at the door at night - it
wasn’t fun,” said John Hyde, a pro
ducer at the New Zealand company.
decade of the new millennium, ac
cording to government and U.N. sta-
Long sheltered from AIDS because
of its international isolation under
apartheid, South Africa’s post-apart
heid AIDS epidemic now is helping
to fuel southern Africa’s dubious dis
tinction as the global AIDS epicen
Most of the countries hit hardest by
the global AIDS epidemic are in
southern Africa, notably Botswana,
Namibia, Zimbabwe and Swaziland.
Between 20 percent and 26 percent
of adults in those countries are in
fected with HIV or have AIDS.
“We now know that despite these
already very high levels of HIV in
fection, the worst is still to come in
southern Africa,” said Peter Piot, ex
ecutive director of the Joint United
in an
There were conflicting reports
about who rescued the men. The Rus
sian Ministry of Emergency Situa
tions claimed credit, as did a private
rescue service hired by the New
Zealand film company.
The confusion underscored the
delicate nature of the negotiations for
the rescue of a Japanese producer, an
Australian cameraman and a Russian
guide. Officials close to the talks said
tremendous pressure was building to
get them out Tuesday. Officials from
several governments involved report
edly favored asking U.S. Coast
Guard crews and aircraft from Alaska
“I lost eight kilos (18
pounds). ... It was very
cold ... and we had
packed just a few clothes
for autumn.”
Talsuhiko Kobayashi, a Japanese television
to perform the rescue. The thinking
was that Coast Guard equipment and
technology were superior to what the
Russians had on hand in that remote
backwater of Siberia.
The Russians reportedly were un
comfortable with having Americans
rescue a Russian in Russia and
wanted to get the men out quickly to
keep the issue from reaching a head.
Tuesday night, the Japanese televi
sion network NHK, the other co-pro
ducer of the film, was reporting that
Russia arranged the rescue. But offi
cials from the New Zealand film
company and AEA International
SOS, the private rescue company,
said AEA operated the helicopter.
Kobayashi, Ovsyannikov and cam
eraman Rory McGuinness had been
scheduled to stay only a month but
weather severe even by Arctic stan
dards prevented them from moving.
They spent their final days huddled
together in their hut at Point Blos
som, a spit of iced-over tundra on the
southwestern tip of the island.
Wrangel Island is one of the
world’s richest homes of walrus, po
lar bears and snow geese, but also one
of the harshest environments on
Earth. About 24 people live on the
island year round, in the tiny village
of Ushakovskoye, about 35 miles
from the hut. In the last five weeks,
villagers had tried to reach the men
by snowmobile, but were forced back
by heavy weather.
Ovsyannikov told Reuters that the
men continued working on the docu
mentary until their film ran out in
He said the men developed a daily
routine inside their cabin. “I was
cooking for the guys and they were
washing dishes and supplying water
from snow,” said Ovsyannikov, who
had been on the island since July. He
said the remaining supplies were rice,
some grain, beans, sugar and tea.
Meat ran out a week before.
World and Nation
Nations Program on HIV/AIDS,
which marked World AIDS Day to
day in South Africa. “The region is
facing a human disaster on a scale it
has never seen before.”
South Africa is rapidly catching up
with its neighbors: Of the 1.4 million
people between the ages of 15 and 49
who were infected with HIV this year
in nine southern African countries,
slightly more than 50 percent were in
South Africa.
Health experts attribute the rapid
increase of AIDS in South Africa to a
variety of factors, ranging from grass
roots disdain for condoms, to slow
off-the-mark public awareness cam
paigns, to migrant labor patterns both
inside South Africa and between it and
neighboring countries.
For decades, rural South African
men have migrated to cities for work,
New evidence
By Thomas H. Maugh II
Los Angeles Times
American researchers have discov
ered new evidence, long buried in
British military archives, suggesting
that famed U.S. aviator Amelia
Earhart died on Nikumaroro Island in
the Polynesian Republic of Kiribati.
British soldiers found bones on the
island, then called Gardner Island, in
1940, and suspecting they might be
those of Earhart, sent them to British
headquarters in Tarawa.
A physician there concluded that
they were the bones of a male. A re
port was forwarded to England, but
Americans were never notified of the
A member of The International
Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery
(TIGHAR), a nonprofit group that has
been searching for evidence of
Earhart’s demise for 10 years,
stumbled across some of the records
in Tarawa. This prompted TIGHAR
director Richard Gillespie to locate
the original archival material in En
Precise dimensions of the bones
taken from the paperwork, discovered
only two weeks ago, indicate that the
skeleton represented the remains of a
white female of northern European
extraction, about 5 feet 7 inches tall,
according to two forensic anthropolo
“We have probably the most dra
matic archival and scientific evidence
in 61 years to indicate that we may
soon know what happened to Amelia
Earhart,” Gillespie said Tuesday in a
Guns prove fatal to Missouri speed trap
By Jon Jeter
The Washington Post
MACK’S CREEK, Mo. - Used
to be that this leisurely little town
handed out traffic tickets like sur
plus government cheese.
And the police here didn’t dis
criminate. They ticketed just about
anyone who dared drive through this
no-stoplight town on Missouri’s
back roads. They ticketed motorists
for speeding. They ticketed them for
tailgating and for failing to signal a
turn. They stopped motorists who
grazed the white lines on the shoul
der of the road. They pulled over
truckers and tourists and little old
ladies who were in no particular
hurry and swore they had never sped
a day in their lives. One officer here
threatened to ticket a boy on his bi
cycle. Another pulled over a man
riding horseback. Seems neither had
a tai[light.
“If you weren’t local,” said Cindy
Meads, a waitress at Bonnie’s Res
taurant here, “you got a ticket.
That’s pretty much the way things
At the height of this town’s cam
paign of traffic terror in the early
’9os, Mack’s Creek’s police force
wrote nearly 2,900 tickets annually,
an average of eight a day. In 1994,
more than three-quarters of the
town’s revenue - about $165,000 a
leaving families behind and often tak
ing up new partners -- whether roman
tic or commercial. In addition, some
rural women left behind take up se
cret partners as well. On top of these
trends, South Africa’s post-apartheid
openness has made for a degree of
cross-border traffic unheard of when
international sanctions against the old
white-minority regime ensured the
country’s isolation.
“ There’s an interaction between all
these countries because of migration
patterns,” Piot said.
As sudden as South Africa’s prob
lem is, the plague of AIDS in Africa
is an old one. Since the first AIDS
deaths were recorded in the 1980 s, 83
percent of the world’s AIDS deaths
have been in sub-Saharan Africa, and
95 percent of the world’s AIDS or
phans are African. This year, 70 per
suggests Earhart died on Nikumaroro Island
telephone interview.
The new results will be presented
Friday at a meeting of the American
Anthropological Association in Phila
Although other Earhart experts are
not yet familiar with the new evi
dence, they cautioned that Gillespie
has previously brought forward sev
eral other discoveries from
Nikumaroro, only to have their iden
tity questioned.
Such earlier discoveries included a
piece of aluminum claimed to be from
Earhart’s plane and a rubber heel al
legedly from her shoes. Experts have
since concluded that these artifacts
were not linked to Earhart, although
Gillespie remains a believer.
“I have always been skeptical about
claims such as this,” said Thomas
Crouch of the Smithsonian’s National
Air and Space Museum in Washing
ton, D.C.
“When people ask me what I am
looking for, I say it is fair to look for
a smoking gun, something that could
only have come from them (Earhart
and her navigator, Fred Noonan),” he
said. Unless the bones can be found,
the new data is not a smoking gun, he
added. And as of now, no one seems
to know where the bones are.
Earhart’s fate has captivated the
country since she and Noonan disap
peared on July 2, 1937, during her
effort to be the first woman to fly
around the world. The two were fly
ing from Asia to Hawaii and planned
a fuel stop at tiny Howland Island. But
they did not find the island and re
ported in their last radio messages that
year - came from municipal court
fines. With no industry to speak of,
this town of 272 residents 60 miles
north of Springfield had only its
own industriousness to rely on for
If you weren’t local you
got a ticket. That’s pretty
much the way things
Cindy Meads, local resident
And then one day four years ago,
a city police officer stopped the
wrong guy, a state lawmaker headed
home for the weekend. In 1995,
state lawmakers cheered and ap
plauded when they voted over
whelmingly in favor of legislation
to limit the amount a city can col
lect from traffic fines, essentially
shutting down one of the most fa
mous and feared speed traps in the
Without its cash cow, Mack’s
Creek is now flat broke and filed for
bankruptcy in August. All told, the
city owes $ 165,000, most of it to the
state and federal government.
The IRS has seized the town’s
bank account, claiming its last
$8,500. The police force - one part-
cent of the world’s newly infected
people are in this sub-Saharan region.
As devastating as the epidemic’s
immediate effect has been in human
terms, its economic repercussions
promise a long-term erosion or
thwarting of development. Econo
mists say that growth rates are ham
pered in hard-hit countries because of
the public and private expenditures
necessitated by the epidemic. The
United Nations estimates that by
2005, South African businesses will
be paying out AIDS-related employee
benefits equivalent to 19 percent of
salaries, up from 7 percent in 1995.
“Whether measured against the
yardstick of falling life expectancy,
deteriorating household income, over
burdened health systems, child deaths,
orphanhood or bottom-line losses to
business, AIDS has never posed a big
they were almost out of fuel.
Some experts claim that Earhart
and Noonan were captured by the
Japanese because they were allegedly
spying on Japanese naval operations.
Another report had her living in New
Jersey writing novels.
Most authorities, however, believe
her Lockheed A-10E Electra simply
ran out of fuel and crashed into the
Pacific Ocean.
Gillespie, a former charter pilot and
aircraft accident investigator, was
drawn to the case when some associ
ates noted that, based on her compass
headings, Earhart could have been fly
ing over Nikumaroro when she ran
out of gas. Reports that she sent radio
messages for three days after failing
to reach Howland suggested she sur
vived the crash.
U.S. planes flew over the island at
the time but saw no trace of wreck-
Gillespie and his colleagues have
made five trips to Nikumaroro, about
1,700 miles southwest of Hawaii, but
have not yet produced any definitive
evidence that Earhart crashed there.
Earlier this year, Gillespie said, one
of TIGHAR’s 800-odd members
stumbled on records in Tarawa sug
gesting that the skeleton and a wooden
box that once contained a nautical
sextant were found on Gardner Island
in 1940.
A British physician. Dr. D.W.
Hoodless, examined the bones and
concluded they were male. And the
authorities did not think the sextant
box came from Earhart’s aircraft be
cause it was a type used on ships.
time and four full-time officers -
has been disbanded. The patrol cars
and radar guns have been sold or
repossessed and City Hall is now a
senior citizens center.
Gregg Eddins, the new mayor,
said he is working with creditors on
a payment plan and is optimistic the
city eventually will rebound. “It
may take eight or 10 years, but we’ 11
work it out,” he said. “And if noth
ing else, at least evil has been purged
from our town.”
County police patrol Mack’s
Creek now and there have been no
tickets written here in more than a
year. With only about $1,500 in rev
enue trickling into the coffers each
month, Mack’s Creek cannot afford
even to operate most of the town’s
street lamps. Residents like 86-year
old Burla Edison pay the utility bills
for the street lamps on their blocks
from their own pockets.
"I am truly saddened to see that
this town of really good,
hardworking people has gone bank
rupt,” said Rep. Delbert Scott, the
state legislator who pushed through
the new law that restricts the amount
of income generated by traffic tick
ets to 45 percent of a city’s total rev
enue. “But the place was a speed
trap. There was nothing subtle about
it. Everybody knew it. No town
should be able to run their city gov
ernment entirely on the backs of the
ger threat to development,” the U.N.
AIDS program says.
Alarmed South African officials,
fearing their efforts to improve the lot
of this long-oppressed society are in
peril, are speaking about AIDS and
sex and morality in more blunt terms
than ever before. Today President
Nelson Mandela even called on sexual
partners to use condoms.
"Although AIDS has been part of
our lives for 15 years or more, we
have kept silent about its true pres
ence in our midst. We have too often
spoken of it as someone else’s prob
lem,” Mandela said as his cabinet
ministers were fanning out around the
country to deliver similar messages.
Piot hailed South Africa’s aggres
sive new public awareness campaign
but said that “yes, it could have come
earlier, that’s for sure.”
Apparently they did not know that
Earhart’s navigator customarily car
ried an old nautical sextant in addi
tion to more modern instruments,
Gillespie said.
The bones and box were ordered
crated for storage and a report was for
warded to England. No one knows
where that crate is now.
Gillespie went to England and ulti
mately located the report “in a small
village 60 miles north of London.”
The report gave precise bone mea
surements taken from the most impor
tant skeletal remains.
Forensic anthropologists Karen
Ramey Burns of the University of
North Carolina-Charlotte and Richard
L. Jantz of the University of Tennes
see at Knoxville independently stud
ied the measurements and concluded
that they were from a female and that
they could have been Earharl’s.
Burns noted that Hoodless did a
very careful job, but that he had to use
formulas developed by anthropologist
Carl Pearson - to determine sex and
ethnic origins which were the best
available at the time. Newer tech
niques are much better.
“If I had used the same techniques
(as Hoodless)," Burns said, “I prob
ably would have said it was a male
Other Earhart aficionados are look
ing forward to seeing Gillespie’s evi
dence, while Gillespie himself is hop
ing he can eventually find the bones
Meanwhile, the new evidence re
mains simply the latest chapter in the
long search for a vanished icon.
traveling public. This was real high
way robbery.”
Embarrassed for years by its zeal
ous officers and the town’s far
reaching reputation, those who live
and work here have shed no tears
for its defunct police department.
Many say they were glad to retire
the ritual of warning visiting friends
and relatives to brake their speed to
45 miles per hour -- and not a mile
per hour more than that - as soon
as they reached the city limits.
“We’re better off without them,”
said Bonnie Evans, a white-haired
woman who owns Bonnie’s Restau-
rant, where everyone in town goes
for the fried fruit pies.
“The police here didn’t watch
over the town,” said George Palmer,
a convenience store owner here.
“They watched the roads.”