Lethbridge Herald (Newspaper) - January 4, 1971, Lethbridge, Alberta
- THI IETHBRIDGE HERALD - Monday, January 4, 1971 Maurice Western On burning paper If there is a limit to the taxpayer's patience and ability to pay (as there is), and if there are largely uncontrollable demands on the public purse (as there are), then it is imperative that unnecessary expenditures be curtailed. The proposal to ban burning barrels in Lethbridge, at a cost of another $30,000 a year to the taxpayers, is in that category. It is not necessary. It would add to the public inconvenience. We don't think the householders of Lethbridge want to pay $30,000 a year for the privilege of being put to more trouble and having to obey one more unnecessary law. All the hospitals are running heavy deficits. How much will these cost the taxpayers? School grants are said to be running behind. How much will the local home-owners have to put out there? What about all the other mounting expenditures that cannot be avoided? Take snow-removal. The city's attitude this winter seems to be to haul away only the very minimum, and hope that chinooks will take care of the rest. We applaud that attitude. The ridges of ice are an eye-sore, perhaps, and an aggravation, but if money is short they can be endured. As long as the inter- sections are sanded and other serious ice hazards taken in hand there's no real need to go to the expense of lifting and hauling away the ice and snow. As for burning barrels, they are a convenience to the citizen, far more convenient than squeezing all the loose papers and boxes into plastic bags and leaving them for the garbage pick-up. They do contribute to air pollution, but only theoretically. Some day the air pollution situation in Lethbridge may be serious enough to require restrictions, but not now. In London, New York, Los Angeles or Toronto the situation is different. Loose ash may be a slight nuisance to laundry on the clothes-lines, but Monday burning is prohibited in def-ference to the few households that don't use mechanical dryers. Wet garbage should not be burned because of its offensive odors. It would be in order to discourage that. The fire hazard is remote. Undue carelessness to the extent of endangering property is doubtless already an offence and no new law is needed. Lethbridge is growing up, but let's not surrender the small-town advantages until necessary. That includes downtown angle parking as well as the right to burn papers on one's own property. Aggravating installations A point made at the time of the 1962 Cuban missile crisis has been made again recently by a U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee. When the U.S. found Russian missiles 90 miles away to be intolerable there were those at the time who argued that the U.S.S.R. with equal justice could complain about American nuclear installations near its borders. The Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Security Agreements and Commitments Abroad, after a two-year study, has suggested a Congressional review to determine whether some of the nuclear warheads should be withdrawn. It is argued that those closest to the U.S.S.R. and China must be aggravating to those nations and could provoke a confrontation. The installations in question were made in the 1950s when the policy of containing communism was the over-riding concern of the Americans. It was reasonable then to suppose that the tactical nuclear weapons possessed in clear majority by the U.S. would serve as a deterrent to Communist expansionism. But the development of long-range missiles and the stockpiling of them by both the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. has completely altered the picture. U.S. installations near the borders of the U.S.S.R. and China are no longer defensible. They are an unnecessary aggravation. It would be a useful peace-making gesture for the U.S. to withdraw from at least some of them. In its study of foreign installations the senate subcommittee was hampered somewhat by official secrecy. In refusing to discuss the deployment of nuclear weapons the executive branch said the subject was of such high classification that it could not be discussed before the committee. The senators - and the American people generally - may be in the dark about the extent of the deployment but the odds are good that Soviet officials have a fairly accurate picture. Soviet intelligence is certain to be as much on the job as the American. Secrecy seems to be directed mainly to home consumers these days. Sensible as the suggestion of the subcommittee is, the likelihood of it being acted upon is depressingly slim. Disentangling from commitments that mean dollars to other states is very difficult. And the recent noises from the Nixon Administration do not have a particularly pacific tone. Art Buchwald WASHINGTON - As detective Peter Minderman stared at the color television set in the simple living room of the Socalaw house, he was baffled. The body of Artie Socalaw was still in the same chair where he had died. All the suspects in the case were also in the living room. There was Artie's wife Emma, and Artie's best friends: George Stevens Jr., Chuck McDermott, Sam Markay and Tony Valenti. "All right," said detective Minderman, ''let's start from the beginning. You guys began watching pro football two days ago on Saturday at noon, right in this living room." "That's correct," said Stevens. "Then suddenly Sunday night, somewhere during the third quarter of the Raider game, we noticed there was something wrong with Artie. We waited until the game ended at-7 and then went over to his chair. He was dead." "You can imagine what a shock this was, coming after the 49ers' defeat of the Minnesota Vikings," Chuck McDermott added. "But," said detective Minderman, "the coroner said Artie had been dead for 24 hours. How come no one discovered it before then?" "Well," said Sam Markay, "Artie was always quiet when he watched a pro football game. He wasn't one of these guys who holler and shout after each play. So when he didn't say anything for 24 hours, we figured he was just suffering because Dallas beat the Detroit Lions." "When you're watching pro football on TV," said Tony Valenti, "you don't notice whether people are breathing or not." Detective Minderman looked over at Mrs. Socalaw. "When did you last see your husband alive?" "You mean moving around and that sort of thing?" Mrs. Socalaw asked. "I believe it was sometime in July before the exhibition games started. He hasn't left that chair since the Redskins played the Pal- People pushing newspapers around (OTTAWA - It was in early " December that the Davey committee came out strongly for a press council, basing its recommendation on what it took to be the rewarding experience with a similar council in the United Kingdom. As the mail from Britain reveals, December was an interesting Month on Fleet Street. There were difficult problems falling into the very categories identified by the investigating senators. Somewhere in the background was the British Press Council. It was where the action wasn't. According to a detailed account appearing in the Guardian Weekly of December 19, trouble developed on the Evening Standard o v e r a cartoon by JAK entitled Homo-Electri-cal-Sapiens Britannicus, Circa 1970. This lampooned the power station workers whose work-to-rule was causing blackouts throughout the country. A deputation from the electricians demanded that the cartoon be removed from the paper since, in their view, it went beyond the bounds of humor and fair comment. What was involved in the dispute was a "medium-sized" problem in the area "where a press council would be most effective." This is not a case of reading into senatorial minds thoughts which may or may not have been there. They were specific in their report, citing "c o m plaints of sensationalism of distortion; of mishandled corrections, apologies and letters to the editor; of lapses of taste in copy, photographs and cartoons . . ." Sensationalism. Lapse of taste. Away then to the press council for remedial action. But the electricians did not go to the press council. When the editor refused their demand, "The plugs to the production machinery were pulled out." No paper. Publication was resumed only when the Evening Standard agreed to publish the union protest next to the cartoon. Meanwhile a storm of considerable proportions had developed. The office chapel of the National Union of Journalists protested censorship by the union. The British committee of the International Press Institute denounced "a gross interference with the freedom of the press." Lord George-Brown, a former Labor foreign secretary, recalled a similar incident during the general strike of 1926 and warned: "I think, therefore, I should say to our people with all the firmness that I can bring to bear that this is a terribly dangerous course on which to embark. No democracy can survive if any section of the society can say, "We will censor." But the electricians stayed away from the press council and it would obviously have been futile for management to go to the press council unless it was interested in stirring up riots in a pre-season game. I don't wish to dispute the coroner's report, but I thought Artie was dead three months ago." "That's not true," Stevens said. "Just before the Baltimore-Cincinnati game, Artie asked me if I wanted a piece of fruitcake." "Fruitcake?" detective Minderman said. "Where did the fruitcake come from?" "I made it," said Mrs. Socalaw. "I always make fruitcake during the holiday season. It helps me forget." "Did anyone else eat the fruitcake?" "I did," said McDermott. "N"o ill effects?" Minderman asked. "None that I can tell," McDermott said. "Damn." said detective Minderman. "There goes the poisoned-fmitcake theory." "Did he eat anything else?" Minderman asked. "1 gave him a tuna fish sandwich," McDermott said. "A what?" "A tuna fish sandwich. You sec Mrs. Socalaw refuses to feed us, so we each bring our own food. This time my wife made me a tuna fish sandwich." "But don't you know what's going on with tuna fish?" Minderman asked. "I'm not much for fishing. The only sport I watch is football," McDermott said. "Your wife tried to knock you off with a tuna fish mercury-poisoned sandwich," detective Minderman said. "Only Artie became the victim, instead of you." "I k n e w she was sore at me," McDermott said, "but I didn't think she'd go this far." Minderman went to the phone and called the McDermott house. "Mrs. McDermott, I'm sending someone over to arrest you for the tuna fish murder of Artie Socalaw." "Don't worry, Gloria," Mrs. Socalaw grabbed the phone and shouted, "I'll testify ip your behalf. We can always say it wa.s a crime of passion." (Toronto Telegram News Service another strike. The council machinery was available for dealing with protests about lapses from good taste. But it is easier and more effective to pull plugs. It is obvious that the senators could not have known about the trouble on the Evening Standard. As The Guardian shows, however, this was only the latest incident of several which have made for an eventful year in Britain. In none of them did the press council apparently play any role, except presumably as a distant aid interested spectator. Thus on May 31 there were hard words in the offices of The Observer. Someone wrote a letter to the editor (see medium-sized problems as detailed by Senator Davey) which took to task both the production staffs - for claiming enormous pay increases - and management for being "weak-kneed." SOGAT, The Society of Graphical and Allied Trades, threatened to strike if the letter appeared in later editions. Mr. David Astor was compelled to withdraw it. The same newspaper about five months later, planned to publish an article by its industrial correspondent about internal dissension in SOGAT. Word came through that "You will have no paper in the morning." The editor decided against publication although the story of what had happened presumably became widely known in Fleet Street. In any case the next issue carried an explanatory letter from a union official claiming that the article had been "unbalanced" and related to an issue before the high court. Again, therefore, it was the judgment of the union not that of the editor, that prevailed. As the Davey Commit'*e reported: "We don't believe the press is fraught with abuses. We believe that instances of newspapers pushing people around and of distorting the news are quite remarkably rare." Of the complaints brought to its attention, "There were fewer than half a dozen that would have earned a slap on the wrist if they'd been presented to the British Press Council." But the pressing problem on Fleet Street has to do with people pushing the newspapers around. The council, offered as a model for Canada, is available to slap wrists on demand. When serious abuses do arise, however, it can't slap wrists because it is simply ignored by groups in a position to exert effective censorship. In view of what has lately been happening in the land that invented the press council, the senatorial committee might have reported with less enthusiasm if they have gone in for more recent research. (Herald Ottawa Bureau) Gerald Leach Pollution: the gap between warning and action LONDON - The discovery that tuna fish in American and British shops is contaminated with potentially dangerous amounts of mercury has come as a shock to most people, another awful warning of the heedless way in which the whole environment is being poisoned by pollution. But the real warning behind the shock news is that the world's pollution - watch system, such as it is, is woefully inadequate. Unless it is tightened and speeded up similar shocks will hit us again and again while attempts to halt pollution are bound to creak along in a losing race against the fast - running tide of pollutants pouring into the air, earth and waters of the world. Why was it only this month that British and American analysts decided to take a hard look at mercury levels in deep-sea fish like the tuna family? The fact that mercury is a dangerous poison has been 'Crazy Capers' know you'd go to the end of the earth for. me-but would you stay' known for decades and it is now 14 years since the first outbreak of the tragic "Minimata disease", in which scores of Japanese villagers were killed or disabled by eating fish that was heavily contaminated with mercury compounds from industrial effluents. This alerted scientists to the threat of mercury pollution to fish life. Evidence soon piled up that wherever a lot of mercury was used - notably in the paper and pulp industries to keep down fungus growths - it could reach high levels as it accumulated through food chains in rivers, lakes and the sea. By the end of 1969 heavy or dangerous mercury poisoning had been reported in inland waters in Canada, Sweden, the U.S.A., Italy, and in the Rhine. A few landlocked seas, such as the Baltic, were known to be in trouble too. Even then, no one could quite believe that the 5,000 tons of mercury estimated to pour into the seas each year could do much damage when spread across the huge reaches of the open oceans. Yet a combination of ocean currents acting as "pollution highways", the super - concentrating effect of fish food chains, and recent findings that all types of mercury wastes are turned into highly toxic methyl mercury, has now shattered that faith. Still, the warnings were there. Earlier this year a Japanese survey found that shark and tuna fish in the open Indian and Pacific Oceans were not only contaminated with mercury; they consistently turned up with mercury contents of about one part per million. This is well above the 0.1 to 0.5 ppm levels that have now been found in tinned tuna in the U.S. and Britain. This gap of several months between first warning and effective action could have been shortened to days if the pollution - watch system had worked as effectively as, say, the worldwide network that keeps constant and instant tabs on the weather, using the most sophisticated methods of sending and processing and distributing information. Such an elaborate network would not be necessary for pollution warnings, but a move in this- direction - which is being discussed among marine biologists - does seem to be necessary. Yet there is an even more disturbing fault in our present pollution - watch system: the way that its alarm bells ring in the ears of governments and the public only when the threat is to human health or lives. In the long run it may be more important to protect the delicate structure of the living environment from irreparable damage from pollution, for on this structure all life - including human life - ultimately depends. The very first warnings that mercury wastes were at a sufficiently high level to alter aquatic life should have been a signal to launch a massive and urgent study of just what kinds of ecological havoc they caused. This was never done: the work was left to individual So They Say This is what frightens me: the clear tendencies of many trade unionists who think they can settle all their problems, whether political, social or fiscal by industrial action. If they do this they will not undermine the government but they will undermine themselves. - Mrs. Barbara Castle British MP. and usually under - financed groups of scientists here and there, as the fancy took them. Similarly, in the long-run it is just as important to clamp strict controls on pollutants - as is now likely to happen with mercury wastes - when they are seen seriously to threaten non - human forms of life as when they finally turn out to be a health threat to man. On this score, mercury wastes should have been rigidly controlled at least five years ago. Our present system, biologists keep muttering darkly, is yet another sign of how we have not begun to face up to the real threat of pollution. Despite all the ecological talk of the last year or two, most people still see it from an arrogant, man centred point of view, as all men saw the universe in the centuries before the Copernican revolution put the sun, not the earth, at the centre of things. Only when we put the harm our wastes are doing to the whole living environment equal to or (above the damage they are defng to us will the true meaning of the environmental revolution have been fully grasped. (Written for The Herald and The Observer, London) Looking backward Through the Herald 1921-For the fourth successive year southern Alberta fell below the average for precipitation covering a 19 year period, establishing a record since weather observations began to be taken here. 1931 - Corporal punishment, especially the lash, is one of the most effective of modern crime deterrents, Brig.-Gen. Hughes, head of the penitentiary system said. It compels a respect for law and order by a certain criminal class to a greater extent than any other agency. 1911-Royal Air Force bombers turned the industrial area of the German seaport of Bremen into a "sea of flames" in their third successive night attack on the city. 1951-Canada is preparing to triple the pace of trainees entering her flying schools by the end of 1951 as a major contribution to joint western defence. Officials estimate there may be 2,200 potential airmen training here by then. 1981 - President Eisenhower has broken U.S. diplomatic relations with Fidel Castro's Cuban regime. The Lethbridge Herald 504 7th St. S., Lethbridge, Alberta LETHBRIDGE HERALD CO. LTD., Proprietors and Publishers Published 1905 -1954, by Hon. W. A. BUCHANAN Second Class Mall Registration No. 0012 Member of The Canadian Press and the Canadian Daily Newspaper Publishers' Association and the Audit Bureau of Circulations CLEO W. MOWERS. Editor and Publisher THOMAS H. ADAMS, General Manager JOE BALLA WILLIAM HAY Managing Editor Associate Editor ROY F. MILES DOUGLAS K. WALKER Advertising Manager Editorial Page Editor "THE HERALD SERVES THE SOUTH"