With Brazil’s World Cup Over Focus Now Shifts to Russia and Qatar

I want to start by saying that I am in no way a soccer fanatic or expert. I did not watch much during the tournament except for bits and pieces when the US team had a match. However, my expertise of the game, or lack thereof, will not be needed for my analysis. I will not discuss the scores of matches, how many times red cards were handed out, or how many games were won in extra time. What I kept thinking about was the controversy surrounding not only this year’s World Cup in Brazil, but the World Cups in Russia in 2018 and Qatar in 2022.

Brazil’s World Cup

One of the best pieces of coverage about the controversy surrounding the World Cup in Brazil, and FIFA itself as organization, aired on Last Week Tonight with Jon Oliver[1]. In the segment Oliver details not only the rumors dealing with the history of bribery, but also the hypocrisy around FIFA calling itself a non-profit organization. He also highlights how FIFA uses its power to strong arm countries into writing new laws or changing current laws to benefit them. Some of the highlights from the segment are:

  • The government of Brazil spent more than 11 BILLON dollars getting ready for the World Cup.
  • The new stadium in the city of Manaus, which cost 270 MILLION dollars to build, only hosted 4 World Cup games. (If you do the math that came out to 67.5 MILLION dollars a game. Keep in mind Manaus does not have a soccer team).
  • When it comes to World Cups FIFA, not the hosting country, is usually the one getting most of the money.
  • FIFA and their subsidiaries are exempt from the hosting country’s tax codes. That’s 250 MILLION dollars in taxes in the country of Brazil.
  • Due to a high death rate concerning alcohol and fans, in 2003 the Brazilin government banned alcohol in stadiums. However, the government later passed, thanks to pressure from FIFA, the ‘Budweiser Bill’ (Budweiser is a FIFA sponsor) that gave permission to sell beer in stadiums during World Cup matches.
  • FIFA spent 27 MILLION dollars creating the movie ‘United Passions’ to let the world know, according to them, how ‘great’ FIFA is.
  • In 2022 the country of Qatar will be hosting the World Cup. In the summers there the temperatures can reach up to 122 degrees.
  • Former vice president of FIFA Jack Warner resigned after bribery accusations (reportedly received 2 million dollars for his vote giving the World Cup to Qatar).

For those of you who may want to watch the segment in its entirety: 

Did Russia and Qatar Help Each Other Win World Cup Bids?

Now that the 2014 World Cup has ended the focus has shifted to the 2018 World Cup in Russia and the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. In an article written by BBC Sports[2] it discusses what it says are several leaked e-mails in which former FIFA vice-president Mohamed bin Hammam:

  • Visited Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin to discuss “bilateral relations” between Russia and Qatar a month before the votes for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.
  • Brokered government level talks for Thailand’s Fifa executive Worawi Makudi to push a deal on importing gas from Qatar to Thailand. Makudi told the paper he did not receive a concession for his part in any gas deal.
  • Invited Germany’s former Fifa executive Franz Beckenbauer to Doha just five months after the vote with bosses from an oil and gas shipping firm which was employing him as a consultant. The firm involved says it was exploring possible Qatari investments in the shipping and maritime sector but that no deal ever came from the talks. When approached by the Sunday Times, former German international Beckenbauer declined to comment.
  • Fixed meetings between nine Fifa executive committee members, including Blatter, with members of the Qatari royal family.
  • Arranged a meeting between the Qatar bid team and Uefa boss Michel Platini at European football’s headquarters in Nyon. Platini, who has openly admitted voting for Qatar, says Bin Hammam did not attend the meeting and insists he has nothing to hide.

 

A Bribery Scandal Is Not The Only Thing Plaguing The 2022 World Cup.

In an article written on MotherJones.com by Sam Brodey titled “A Guide to the Scandals Plaguing the World Cup”[3] he points out terrible treatment of the workers responsible for creating the new stadiums and buildings that will be host to the World Cup matches and ceremonies. According to the article 1,200 workers have died since it was announced that Qatar won the bid to hold the World Cup. Most of the workers come from South and Southeast Asia and they cannot leave Qatar without the written permission of their employer.  Kafala[4] is a system in which a worker is contracted to his employer for a period of time. The problem arises when the employer will not pay the money the worker was promised, and in many cases not pay them at all. They are not able to look for better jobs because the employer has their passport. They cannot leave the country and could be there working for an indefinite period of time.

ESPN’s investigative program E:60 did an a piece documenting worker abuse, high rate of worker death and the slavery-like system in which the workers and their employers operate. In the video Jeremy Schaap spoke to Sharan Burrow, the General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation[5] (ITUC). The organization’s mission is to defend workers rights around the world.  Burrow has visited Qatar 12 times since 2010 and refers to it as a “slave- state in the 21 century.”[6] Workers are not to be around Qatari citizens and are placed in workers camps. These camps are crowded and have horrible sanitary conditions where the air is permeated with smell of fecal matter. Burrow states that more than 4,000 workers will die before a game is even played in 2022.

 In Qatar and Russia Homosexuality Is Illegal

Qatar’s multiple human rights violations of its workers are not the only thing tarnishing the 2022 World Cup. The country’s antigay laws are also drawing criticism. In Qatar homosexuality is illegal and there have been documented cases for foreigners being deported or imprisoned. In a 2010 article in The Guardian the president of FIFA, Sepp Blatter, when asked about the concern about the way LGBT fans may be treated when they attend the games he was quoted as saying that they “should refrain” from homosexual activity[7].

Russia has had its own documented history of mistreatment and discrimination associated with their antigay laws. If you watched even a small portion of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi you may have come across news segments where Russia’s enforcement of their antigay laws came under fire. In an article that appeared on MotheJones.com in August of 2013 titled “How Russia’s Anti-Gay Law Could Affect the 2014 Olympics, Explained” the writers detail what the law entails and the consequences one faces if they break that law. The law, Article 6.21 of the Code of the Russian Federation on Administrative Offenses, states that a person can be fined if they are “accused of spreading ‘propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations amongst minors’ between 4,000 and 1 million rubles ($120 to $30,000). It passed by a vote of 436-0. A law passed in 2012 also bans gay-pride events in Moscow for the next 100 years.”[8] There have also been cases of beatings and torture of persons within the LGBT community, both by other citizens, who feel that being a homosexual is wrong, and by the police.

What Does the Future Hold?

Will Russia and Qatar fix the issues plaguing them before their respective World Cup’s? The thing is no one really knows. If they do not, one can expect loud protests in the streets and a real chance of violence. If FIFA and the host countries don’t find a resolution then we, as a whole, could wind up talking about politics and laws instead of the games themselves.

 

Works Cited

 

[1] “FIFA and the World Cup .” Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. HBO. 8 June 2014. Web. 17 July 2014. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DlJEt2KU33I&feature=kp&gt;.

[2] “Qatar 2022: Fifa sponsors back corruption investigation.” British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) . N.p., 9 June 2014. Web. 17 July 2014. <http://www.bbc.com/sport/0/football/27751265&gt;.

[3] Brodey, Sam. “A Guide to the Scandals Plaguing the World Cup.” Mother Jones. N.p., 12 June 2014. Web. 17 July 2014. <http://www.motherjones.com/media/2014/06/fifa-world-cup-scandals-brazil-qatar&gt;.

[4] Khan, Azfar. “Why it’s time to end kafala.” The Guardian. N.p., 26 Feb. 2014. Web. 17 July 2014. <http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2014/feb/26/time-to-end-kafala&gt;.

[5] International Trade Union Confederation. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 July 2014. <http://www.ituc-csi.org/&gt;.

[6] “Qatar’s World Cup.” Host Jeremy Schaap. E:60. ESPN. 1 June 2014. Web. 17 July 2014. <http://www.espnfc.com/video/latest-videos/600/video/1857246&gt;.

[7] Gibson, Owen. “Fifa boss tells gay fans: ‘Don’t have sex at Qatar World Cup’.” The Guardian. N.p., 14 Dec. 2010. Web. 17 July 2014. <http://www.theguardian.com/football/2010/dec/14/fifa-boss-gay-fans-no-sex&gt;.

[8] Levintova, Hannah, and Ian Gordon. “How Russia’s Anti-Gay Law Could Affect the 2014 Olympics, Explained.” Mother Jones. N.p., 16 Aug. 2013. Web. 17 July 2014. <http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/08/sochi-olympics-putin-anti-gay-law-explained&gt;.

 

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Mark Cuban’s Comment’s: What Is Prejudice?, Where Does It Come From? and How Do We Overcome It?

Mark Cuban, who is known primarily as the owner of the NBA team The Dallas Mavericks, recently made comments during a sit down with Inc. Magazine’s Growco Conference[1] online that has gotten the sports world buzzing. What did he say exactly to get people talking? He acknowledged his prejudices and expounded on the subject as a whole, highlighting that everyone- famous or not, black or white- has their own prejudices whether or not they would like to admit it.

I can understand the sensitivity people may have to Cuban’s comments due to the climate surrounding the NBA at the moment. The Donald Sterling situation, where he appeared to say racist statements about African Americans[2], is still heated and does not appear to be going away anytime soon, even though it seems like former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer just bought the L.A. Clippers for a reported two billion dollars[3]. This is pending the approval from the NBA’s Board of Governors (the owners). Sterling vows to sue the league[4].

Donald Sterling’s History of Racism and Discrimination

His behavior is egregious and disgusting. It is deep within his soul, and as his history shows, it will never change.  He has made his racism into more than a 30 year career. His prejudice, racism, and acts of discrimination have been well documented from not paying his African American coaches[5] to refusing to rent apartments in buildings he owns to African Americans or Latinos, for which he was sued by the United States Department of Justice for housing discrimination[6] in 2006.

The Difference Between Prejudice, Racism And Discrimination

Now I think that it is important to highlight the various distinctions of three terms: Prejudice, Racism, and Discrimination. Prejudice, as stated in the word itself, is to judge something or someone only on what you see, hear or what is in front of you. Racism stems from someone feeling superior to another person, whether in intelligence or ability, because of their race. Discrimination involves the act of treating someone unfairly or different. The reasons for discrimination could vary from race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation etc. Some people upon hearing either one of these terms may automatically think of the other two because they may assume the terms are mutually exclusive; as to say if someone hears that another person has a prejudice then that must mean that they are racists or that they practice discrimination. Although they can co-exist in certain scenarios, they are not the same and not exclusive to one another.

The Evolution of Prejudice?

Prejudice is something that is hardwired in to every human being who is capable of forming thoughts. It is something for which we have evolution to thank.

Homo sapiens[7], or modern day humans, you and I, came into evolutionary existence around 100,000 years ago. Back then there were no laws, no supermarkets, or highly structured societies. Back than it was kill or be killed. 100,000 years ago every animal and disease was trying kill and/or eat the human being. In order to survive those conditions you had to be choosy not only about what you ate, but also about whom you associated with.

If you saw a berry or a plant you had to make a decision by smell or sight on whether or not something was safe enough to eat, because eating or drinking the wrong thing could mean severe sickness or death. When humans began to travel in groups of hunters and gathers the prejudice expanded to not just what you ate, but also the people you allowed to be in your group. You had to quickly judge and think “is this person a friend or a foe?”, “Can I trust this person?”, “is this person a good hunter/gather?” and “how can they help the group?” Even though they might not have had the language to say those things their actions conveyed such thinking.

Having certain prejudices not only helped in selecting food or groups it also played a role in choosing a mate for the survival of the species. Known as ‘sexual selection[8]’ by Charles Darwin, mates could be chosen based on a variety of factors, one of them being strength. Even though sexual selection can be seen as the female having the choice to pick the male that is not always the case. In certain instances males can become the ones with the choice while the female compete[9]. If you were successful enough to find a partner that meant your genes and not that of your competition would be passed on. Sexual selection still goes on in the animal kingdom today; take for example the peacock [10]that will show off his bright tail in hopes that a female may want to mate with him or birds singing[11] in order to attract a mate with their song.

 If You’re Going To Use Darwin’s Theory To Explain Hatred… DON’T!!!

It is important to note that Darwin’s theory was meant to be used to describe how a species could survive and adapt. Anyone who tries to use his theory to explain their racism or hateful prejudice or bigotry is misusing and distorting it.

Where Does Prejudice Come From?

Prejudice stems from FEAR. Fear of the unknown. Someone may be afraid of someone else by the way they look or dress or speak, but as soon as they begin knowing each other the prejudice can be lessened or go away. Now, that is not to say that certain prejudices or bigotries can be solved as easily as a math problem; saying ‘this minus this equals that’ does not work in these cases. Prejudice, racism, and discrimination are all far too complex for someone to solve in an article no matter how long it is.

Prejudice As HATE

At times during the course of human history that fear of the unknown has been used as a way to turn populations against themselves not as a means of survival, but as a form of hatred just because someone or a group may be different from you. These examples include the holocaust (around 6,000,000 Jews were murdered including 91% of the Jewish population of Poland[12]), the anti – Irish sentiment[13] in the U.S. and Britain in the 19th century, the prejudice and discrimination against Muslims after 9/11 (according to a report from the Department of Justice[14] from 2011 “The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) reported a 1,600% increase in anti-Muslim hate crime incidents in 2001), the caste system[15] (which still exists) in India in which you are treated differently based on what family you happen to come from. The worst victims of the caste system are known as the ‘untouchables.’ They are systematically denied food, proper housing, medical care and an education. And of course America’s all too well known history of prejudice, discrimination AND racism with slavery and the Jim Crow laws[16].

I would detail the crimes against the Native American’s[17], but that would require five more pages just to start.

Everyone May Have Prejudices, but Not All Prejudices Are Equal

Now, it is important to note that not all prejudice should be treated the same. To say so would be illogical and just plain nonsense. I point this out as to say trying to compare Cuban’s comments to that of Donald Sterling is incorrect in my opinion. Trying to compare the two would be like saying one guy stole a pencil and the other rubbed a bank at gunpoint and they should both get 50 years in prison. Although, they both committed crimes under the law wouldn’t 50 years in prison for stealing a pencil a little excessive?

A Form of Acceptable Prejudice?

As a people most, if not all of us, are aware (consciously or unconsciously) that at least some forms of prejudice, for a variety of reasons, exist in our society and we have come to accept them, take for example judging someone based on appearance. Anyone who has a job or who is looking for a job knows how important dressing well for an interview is. If you were to go interview to try and land your dream job would you show up in sweatpants, sneakers, wearing a white tank top or even in denim jeans that are down to your knees exposing your underwear? Most of you, man or woman, would probably not. Now look at it from this perspective: if you were an employer and someone walked in dressed like that would your first instinct be “I have to hire that person?” probably not.  Your resumé may clinch the job for you, but anyone who has had to go through the job process knows that appearance and presentation matters.

In 2011 an article on BusinessInsider.com[18] listed several factors associated with appearance and presentation. Several studies indicated colorations between how someone spoke, dressed or even the color of their hair, among other attributes, could affect whether they were given a job, promoted or even paid more. Among some of the results were if you were a woman “64 per cent of directors said that women who wore make-up look more professional and 18 per cent of directors said that women who do not wear make-up “look like they can’t be bothered to make an effort”. If you were a man “60% of businessmen without beards or moustaches feel that these features are a bad sign. Some feel [sic] that the person can’t be bothered to shave and others that they are hiding something.”

Is that fair? Depending on who you ask the answer may be ‘yes’ or it may be ‘no.’

These characteristics of how someone is judged in the corporate world can seem downright ridicules, but they are there.

Some years from now that may change and society may feel that dressing however you want to go to a job interview is acceptable and that will be the new norm, then the businesses and employers would have to change to that norm, but that has not happened yet.

According to Malcolm Gladwell[19], in his book Blink[20]: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, we make snap judgments or what he calls ‘thin-slicing’ as soon as we “meet a new person or have to make sense of something quickly or encounter a novel situation…Snap judgments are, first of all, enormously quick: they rely on the thinnest slices of experience … they are also unconscious.”

No One Should Rely On Anyone Else To Eliminate Their Prejudice… That’s Their Job!

In different segments of society there are different ways of dressing and speaking or acting that are deemed acceptable or not acceptable. I bring that up because although in certain situations (such as a job interview) where someone may have to conform at least a little that should not always have to be the case. It should not be the job of the person who is prejudiced against to conform to the person who has shown such prejudice. The person who has that prejudice should acknowledge that it is there and work on it.  Especially, in today’s world with laptops, tablets and Smartphone’s where it only takes a few key strokes to find out information on a culture or segment of the population once unknown to them; it is their job to educate themselves and eradicate their ignorance. Once they educate themselves that fear that may have once been there, can no longer be used as a crutch, as it once was. If that person still holds such prejudice it is by choice. In an age of technology where access to the internet is as easy as looking at your cell phone ignorance is a choice not something set in stone.

Shining a Light on Prejudice

I share this information not say that we, as a society, must accept someone’s prejudice or condone it, but instead to say that when we see or hear prejudice we must, as a collective, call it out and give it a voice. If we pretend to be such an evolved species that we do not have prejudices, no matter what they are, we are fooling ourselves. The way to battle prejudice is not to pretend it doesn’t exist and sweep it under the rug, but to shine a light on it and try to figure out why someone would have such intolerance. We must not only be aware of others’ prejudice, but also the ones within ourselves.

In Closing: The Difference Between Donald Sterling and Mark Cuban and Becoming More Informed

The difference between Donald Sterling and Mark Cuban is that Sterling has systematically, over time, used his racism to discriminate and transgress against others. His racism runs as deep as the ocean. Over the years there has been no evidence to suggest that he wants to change. Whereas someone’s prejudice that stems from fear can change with knowledge, his racism will always be with him. He will always feel that he is better than someone else because he is white and they are not, no matter who they look or their other qualities.

Cuban admitted to having prejudices and bigotries and admitted that having them is wrong. In that interview I didn’t hear him say that it was someone else’s job to teach him how not to feel that way. He took ownership of his feelings and said that he, not anyone else, had to change them. In Cuban’s history, which we know of, there has never been a documented or suspected case of him discriminating against someone. Could he have used better analogies or examples to prove his case, certainly, but a couple of seconds or bad wording should not lead someone to throw away his entire argument. I would say that the fact that he thought it appropriate, at the time, to use those descriptions lends to his point that he obviously needs to become more informed.

After the interview with INC. Mark Cuban issued an apology to Treyvon Martin’s family concerning his ‘hoodie’  comment, but stood by the rest of his argument.

The statement read:

“In hindsight I should have used different examples. I didn’t consider the Trayvon Martin family, and I apologize to them for that. Beyond apologizing to the Martin family, I stand by the words and substance of the interview. I think that helping people improve their lives, helping people engage with people they may fear or may not understand, and helping people realize that while we all may have our prejudices and bigotries we have to learn that it’s an issue that we have to control, that it’s part of my responsibility as an entrepreneur to try to solve it.”

 

                                                                                                                                                      

Links for further reading and viewing:

Reading:

Origins of Slavery in America, History.com – http://www.history.com/topics/black-history/slavery

• Tale of the Peacock, PBS -www.pbs.org/wgbh/evolution/library/01/6/l_016_09.html

• Understanding Prejudice – http://www.understandingprejudice.org/

• What does it take to spark prejudice in humans?, BBChttp://www.bbc.com/future/story/20130409-what-sparks-prejudice-in-humans

• Critical Thinking and the Nature of Prejudice, criticalthinking.org –       http://www.criticalthinking.org/data/pages/19/cbb793a3159353eb2051dc5f5804cffb5135355a9cf6a.pdf

• Test Yourself for Hidden Bias, Southern Poverty Law Centerhttp://www.tolerance.org/Hidden-bias

• Musicians’ Appearances Matter More Than Their Sound, Nature.comhttp://www.nature.com/news/musicians-appearances-matter-more-than-their-sound-1.13572

• How We Are Judged by Our Appearance, Psychologytoday.com –     http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/subliminal/201206/how-we-are-judged-our-appearance

 Videos:

First Take Reacts to Mark Cuban’s Comments — Part 1

First Take discuss society’s challenges with racism

Works Cited

[1] Aspan, Maria. “Mark Cuban, Post-Sterling, on Combating Racism: ‘We All Have Our Bigotry’.” INC. N.p., 2014. Web. 28 May 2014. <http://www.inc.com/maria-aspan/mark-cuban-discusses-bigotry-post-donald-sterling-fiasco.html?cid=sf01001&gt;.

[2] Golliver, Ben. “NBA investigating Clippers owner Donald Sterling for alleged racist comments.” Sports Illustrated. Time Warner Company, 29 Apr. 2014. Web. 27 May 2014. <http://nba.si.com/2014/04/26/donald-sterling-nba-investigation-racist-comments-clippers/&gt;.

[3] “Clips Sale Pending Board Approval.” ESPN Los Angeles. ESPN, 30 May 2014. Web. 30 May 2014. <http://espn.go.com/los-angeles/nba/story/_/id/11008952/nba-approves-steve-ballmer-bid-buy-los-angeles-clippers&gt;.

[4] “Donald Sterling Files $1B Lawsuit.” ESPN Los Angeles. ESPN, 30 May 2014. Web. 30 May 2014. <http://espn.go.com/los-angeles/nba/story/_/id/11008282/attorney-says-los-angeles-clippers-owner-donald-sterling-suing-nba-1-billion&gt;.

[5]Adande, J.A. “Legal Filings Show Frustration of Clipper GMs.” ESPN. N.p., 6 Jan. 2011. Web. 30 May 2014. <http://espn.go.com/blog/truehoop/post/_/id/23649/legal-filings-show-frustration-of-clipper-gms&gt;.

[6] “Sterling Sued by DOJ for Housing Discrimination.” ESPN. Associated Press, 7 Aug. 2006. Web. 27 May 2014. <http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/news/story?id=2542741&gt;.

[7] “Origins of Humankind .” Evolution. PBS, n.d. Web. 27 May 2014. <http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/evolution/humans/humankind/o.html&gt;.

[8]“Darwin, Beauty and Sexual Selection.” Endless Forms Charles Darwin, Natural Science and the Visual Arts. The Fitzwilliam Museum, Unversity of Cambridge, n.d. Web. 27 May 2014. <http://www.darwinendlessforms.org/gallerydarwin/darwin-beauty-and-sexual-selection/&gt;.

[9] Stockley, Paula, and Jakob Bro-Jørgensen. “Female Competition and Its Evolutionary Consequences In Mammals.” Biological Reviews 86.2 (2010): 341-66. Web. 28 May 2014. <http://www.liv.ac.uk/mbe/pdf/11_Stockley_BR.pdf&gt;.

[10] Brennan, Patricia L. R. “Sexual Selection.” Scitable. Nature Education, n.d. Web. 27 May 2014.      <http://www.nature.com/scitable/knowledge/library/sexual-selection-13255240&gt;.

[11] Mayntz, Melissa. “Bird Courtship Behavior.” About.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 May 2014. <http://birding.about.com/od/birdingbasics/a/courtshipbehavior.htm&gt;.

[12] “Statistics of The Holocaust.” The History Place. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 May 2014. <http://www.historyplace.com/worldwar2/holocaust/h-statistics.htm&gt;.

[13] Daniels, Jessie. “St. Patrick’s Day, Irish-Americans and the Changing Boundaries of Whiteness.” Racism Review. N.p., 17 Mar. 2012. Web. 27 May 2014. <http://www.racismreview.com/blog/2012/03/17/st-patricks-irish-whiteness-2012/&gt;.

[14] “Confronting Discrimination in the Post-9/11 Era: Challenges and Opportunities Ten Years Later .” United States Department of Justice. N.p., 19 Oct. 2011. Web. 27 May 2014. <http://www.justice.gov/crt/publications/post911/post911summit_report_2012-04.pdf&gt;.

[15] The Impact of India’s Caste System on Woman. Narr. Urmi Basu. Perf. America Ferrera. Independent Lens, 2012. Web. 27 May 2014. <http://video.pbs.org/video/2276630812/&gt;.

[16] “Jim Crow Laws.” Separate Is Not Equal: Brown V. Board of Education . Smithsonian National Museum of American History, n.d. Web. 27 May 2014. <http://americanhistory.si.edu/brown/history/1-segregated/jim-crow.html&gt;.

[17] Lewy, Guenter. “Were American Indians the Victims of Genocide?.” History News Network. George Mason University, Sept. 2004. Web. 30 May 2014. <http://hnn.us/article/7302&gt;.

[18] Shontell, Alyson. “If You Look Like This, Your Pay Check Will Be Higher Than Average .” Business Insider. N.p., 26 Feb. 2011. Web. 27 May 2014. <http://www.businessinsider.com/if-you-have-any-of-these-20-physical-features-your-pay-check-will-probably-be-higher-2011-2?op=1&gt;.

[19] Gladwell, Malcolm. Gladwell.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 May 2014. <http://gladwell.com/&gt;.

[20] Heathfield, Susan M. “Why “Blink” Matters: The Power of First Impressions.” About.com Human Resourses. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 May 2014. <http://humanresources.about.com/od/workrelationships/a/blink_effect.htm&gt;.

 

In a League Where there is a Person Being Held In Prison on Murder Charges; Why Is Michael Sam’s Sexuality Being Called A ‘Distraction’?

Ever since 2013 SEC Defensive Player of the Year Michael Sam came out as gay[1] it seems like all I’ve been hearing on TV and radio from the sports pundits and NFL insiders, including former players is on ESPN and other sports networks, is “will the others in the locker room be ready to accept Sam and be comfortable around him?” and “is the NFL ready to have an openly gay player?”

In order to try and answer these questions as fully as possible one must try to look at statistics and facts to get a clearer picture. Let’s begin by trying to answer the first question.

“Will The Others In The Locker Room Be Ready To Accept Sam and Be Comfortable Around Him”?

According to the Pew Research Center[2], in an article dated June 6, 2013, 51% of Americans are in favor of allowing gays and lesbians to marry. In the same research it shows that 87% or nearly 9 in 10 Americans personally know someone who is gay or lesbian, which is up from 61% in 1993. When it came to people under 30 years of age 65% of them supported gay marriage.

I bring up these statistics only to show that the views on this issue are changing. Older NFL players will retire and younger players will replace them. That younger generation, if we are to believe these statistics, will be more accepting of their gay teammates.

Taking Michael Sam’s teammates at The University of Missouri as an example they can illustrate what can happen when it is not made an issue as well as how views are shifting. When he told his teammates and his coaches that he was gay no one protested and said they wouldn’t play, no one made him feel uncomfortable, it didn’t affect his game on the field, and most importantly no one ‘outed’ him. He told the world who he was because he wanted to. In fact, after he told his truth to the world his teammates tweeted their support[3] for him.

Now let’s try and answer the second question.

“Is the NFL Ready to Have An Openly Gay NFL Player?”

According to the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law[4], a think tank that deals in sexual orientation law and public policy, wrote in 2011 that ‘an estimated 9 million (about 3.8%) of Americans identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. Within those numbers 1.8% identified as bisexual, 1.7% as gay or lesbian and 0.3% as transgender. However, it must be stated that those numbers may be misleading because many people may not admit to being LGBT do to the stigma from others around them. The report states that men tended to under-report more than women. There are other statistics[5] that claim that at least 1 out of 10 people are gay while others say it may be 1 out of 20.

Now, try to remember those numbers because now it’s time to do some NFL math.

The NFL is a league which is compromised of 32 teams. Every team is composed of a 53 man roster. Now if you do the math that means that there are a total of 1,696 players on NFL rosters (53 x 32). Going back to the statistic of 1 out of 10 people being gay that would mean that 5 men in any given locker room may be gay. (53/10 = 5.3). On a larger scale that comes out to at least 160 men around the league (5 x 32). I know that only 46 men can dress up for a game, but the numbers were similar I didn’t want to bore you with the same math. Also, if you are familiar with the rules of the NFL[6] each team has to have 11 players on the field. That would mean that both teams had at least one gay player on the field.

So whether players and coaches want to admit it or not they are already probably playing and showering alongside a gay player.

The key term for many people reading this article will be ‘openly.’ To that I would say again to look at Michael Sam’s teammates at University of Missouri. Hopefully, the NFL and its current players can handle it as well as college football players can.

Those questions within themselves bring up other questions; questions like ‘why does a person who wants to peruse their dream in the NFL have to do it at the cost of denying who they are if they happen to be gay? Why does it have to be an either/or situation? Do I play in the NFL at the expense of my true self or do I live my true self and not play in the NFL? Another important question raised is ‘Why does a person have to wait to the NFL is ready?  Shouldn’t the NFL make itself, as a league, ready to make these players feel welcome? For a league that has a revenue around 9 Billion dollars[7] shouldn’t it be on them to make not only the gay players, but the LGBT merchandise, ticket buying public comfortable as well? Or did they think only straight people buy their product?

If Michael Sam is drafted by an NFL team – which looking at his college stats[8] seems likely- then he will become the NFL’s first openly gay player; and if the NFL doesn’t allow this to become a distraction then it won’t. Through a series of tweets[9] former NFL wide receiver Donté Stallworth took down the argument on Sam being a possible distraction.

With everyone’s take on the whole situation about the possibility of the NFL having an openly gay player, including mine, Jon Stewart’s take in a segment called ‘Friday Night Rights’[10] summed it up perfectly.

 

Works Cited 


[1] “Missouri DE Michael Sam Says He’s Gay.” Outside the Lines. ESPN. 9 Feb. 2014. Web. 17 Mar. 2014. <http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=10429238&gt;.

[2] “In Gay Marriage Debate, Both Supporters and Opponents See Legal Recognition as ’Inevitable’.” The    Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. The Pew Research Center, 6 June 2013. Web. 17 Mar. 2014. <http://www.people-press.org/2013/06/06/in-gay-marriage-debate-both-supporters-and-opponents-see-legal-recognition-as-inevitable/&gt;.

[3] Bradley, Ken. “Missouri teammates show support for Michael Sam.” Sporting News. N.p., 10 Feb. 2014. Web. 17 Mar. 2014. <http://www.sportingnews.com/ncaa-football/story/2014-02-10/michael-sam-gay-missouri-teammates-show-support-on-twitter-nfl-draft&gt;.

[4] Gates, Gary J. “How Many People are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender?.” The Williams Institute. UCLA School of Law, Apr. 2011. Web. 17 Mar. 2014. <http://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/research/census-lgbt-demographics-studies/how-many-people-are-lesbian-gay-bisexual-and-transgender/&gt;.

[5] Johnson, Ramon. “Gay Population Statistics: How Many Gay People Are There?.” About.com: Gay Life. Article.  n.d. Web. 17 Mar. 2014. <http://gaylife.about.com/od/comingout/a/population.htm&gt;.

[6] “Rule 5 Players, Substitutes, Equipment, General Rules.” NFL.com Rulebook. PFD., n.d. Web. 17 Mar. 2014. <http://static.nfl.com/static/content/public/image/rulebook/pdfs/8_2013_Players_Subs_Equip_GeneralRules.pdf&gt;

[7] Burke, Monte. “How The National Football League Can Reach $25 Billion In Annual Revenues.” Forbes. N.p., 17 Aug. 2013. Web. 17 Mar. 2014. <http://www.forbes.com/sites/monteburke/2013/08/17/how-the-national-football-league-can-reach-25-billion-in-annual-revenues/&gt;.

[8] “Michael Sam Bio.” mutigers.com. University of Missouri , n.d. Web. 17 Mar. 2014. <http://www.mutigers.com/sports/m-footbl/mtt/michael_sam_452639.html&gt;.

[9] Parziale, James. “Ex-NFL WR’s series of tweets about Sam shoot down distraction argument.” FoxSports.com. MSN, 11 Feb. 2014. Web. 17 Mar. 2014. <http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/story/ex-nfl-wr-s-series-of-tweets-about-sam-shoot-down-distraction-argument-021114&gt;.

[10] “Friday Night Rights.” The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Comedy Central. 10 Feb. 2014. Web. 17 Mar. 2014. <http://thedailyshow.cc.com/videos/welua3/friday-night-rights?xrs=share_copy&gt;.

Does A Grading Policy Foster Cheating?

What causes academic cheating? When it comes to academic cheating I don’t do it, I don’t condone it and I detest it, however I am not ignorant to the fact that it does happen. When it comes to cheating in any sense of the word it comes down to the individual %100. However, when it comes to cheating in the academic field the environment itself can create excuses that a student would use in order for them to feel that they have no choice but to cheat.

In outlined the results of a study concerning the frequency of the article titled “Academic Dishonesty of Undergraduates: Methods of Cheating” Michelle Witherspoon, PhD Nancy Maldonado, PhD and Candace H. Lacey, PhD outlined the results of a study concerning the frequency of cheating as well as the methods used to cheat.

In their study they write that “society has communicated the concept that students need to acquire a degree for future employment, financial security, and personal reasons” and that the grades the students receive play a very important role in attainting that degree. The study goes on to say that because grades play an important role students are under pressure and therefore anxious about the grades they receive.

As a student myself I feel the pressures: worrying whether or not I will finish an assignment on time or have enough time to study. Being a college student means you have to setup a schedule, be it in your mind or actually writing out a list. While I do the best I can there are only so many hours in a day that I can give to studying, especially when I take more than one class. There have been times where I have sacrificed sleep in order to get my work done.

In a system that measures a student’s value based on letters and numbers there will always be cheats. Someone will always want to have an A or a %100 on their final paper and will feel that their best isn’t good enough and therefore will cheat to get it.

The grading system, on its face looks like a road map that leads to achievement and success. However, if you look deep enough, it is a system that leads students to compare themselves to others. Students can say “he received a better grade than I so therefore he is smarter than me.” I know that because I have personally said it to myself.

In another article titled “Academic Dishonesty: Cheating Among Community College Students” by Pat Gallagher Moeck he writes “[w]ith the pressure of a bad grade looming, some students will resort to submitting an illegally acquired paper rather than try to author their own work.”

He goes on to say that “[w]ith tremendous pressure and competition for grades, some will cheat or plagiarize to maintain a high GPA.” A higher CPA can please parents, lead to scholarships, and impress potential employers.

According to Moeck’s article he states that the percentage of students who cheat in college can vary from 40 to 90 percent and for those who cheated at least once at 90 percent.

This current system leads people to feel insecure about their abilities. These doubts and insecurities are the factors that make the student feel or believe that cheating is the only option.

Moeck writes that students with lower grades cheat more often than those who do not, men cheat more than women, students with low self-esteem or that are high strung and those who do not manage their time effectively are more prone to cheat.

There are many students who may feel that plagiarizing is cheating but taking medication, such as Adderall is not.

The Baruch College code of academic honesty defines cheating as “the attempted or unauthorized use of materials, information, notes, study aids, devices or communication during an academic exercise.”

If I were judging Adderall by Baruch’s own definition then using the drug is considered a form of cheating.

According to the website, ADHDNews.com, “Adderall is a stimulant drug which contains an amphetamine. It is used to improve attention span and decreases impulsivity.” Because of its effect it has on improving attention span it can be seen as a study aid especially if not prescribed to you.

When it comes to Baruch and cheating I don’t feel that there is more or less than any other college. The only thing that I know is that there is cheating.

However Moeck writes that cheating is more prevalent among business majors, undergraduate students as well as younger students engaged in social activities.

The study of Witherspoon, Maldonado and Lacey also stated that “graduate students in general are cheating at an alarming rate, and business school students are cheating even more than others.” Their study, which comprised of 186 undergraduate students in 11 general education open to all majors in an unnamed urban college, stated that 20.3% of the students said they had never cheated but that 79.7% admitted to cheated at least once.

Once again as I have said before it is %100 the person’s choice whether they choose to cheat, but the environment and the pressures faced within the environment can make students who would normally adhere to the rules feel that cheating is the only option.

 

Life Saving Blood Supply for America Act: My Argument For Congress To Change Or Abolish The 1983 Ban On Homosexual Men Giving Blood, Put In Place By The FDA

If I were elected to the House of Representatives for one day and was given the power to have a bill argued on the floor this would be it: 

H.R.1983
Life Saving Blood Supply for America Act

In this policy I will argue that the 1983 ban on homosexual men giving blood, put in place by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), should be abolished or changed. For my argument I will outline the procedures and improvements that have since been created to insure that blood transfusions of every potential donor, especially those of homosexual men, are as safe as can be for the possible recipients. I will also discuss how the donation of blood by said men can help and improve the situation of the shortage of blood donations and supply currently in the United States. To further illustrate its significance several facts about the importance of blood will be outlined. Because of the current ban put in place by the FDA people who are eligible to donate blood have chosen not to. Furthermore, I will demonstrate, through examples, that these men would happily give blood to help out others who need it. Finally I would discuss how other countries have at least relaxed or done away with the ban concerning homosexual men. My ultimate goal in developing this policy is for the United States to think critically and ultimately relax or abolish their ban on homosexual men and blood donations.

The Discovery of AIDS and the FDA Ban of 1983

The FDA’s ban on men who have sex with men (MSM) being able to donate blood was put in place in 1983 at the high of the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) epidemic. The history of the ban dates back to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)[1] and their finding contained in their weekly Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), a report prepared and released by the CDC that, according to their website is “the agency’s primary vehicle for scientific publication of timely, reliable, authoritative, accurate, objective, and useful public health information and recommendations.”[2] In the weekly report dated June 18, 1982 it stated that between June 1, 1981 and April 12, 1982 the center had received 19 reports of Kaposi’s Sarcoma (KS) and/or pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP). Those cases were confirmed through biopsies. The cases involved previously healthy individuals living in Los Angeles and Orange County, California.  In their investigation they collected the sexual histories of 13 individuals, eight (8) with KS and five (5) with PCP. It goes on to explain further that “Within 5 years of the onset of symptoms, 9 patients (6 with KS and 3 with PCP) had had sexual contact with other patients with KS or PCP. Seven patients from Los Angeles County had had sexual contact with other patients from Los Angeles County, and 2 from Orange County had had sexual contact with 1 patient who was not a resident of California. Four of the 9 patients had been exposed to more than 1 patient who had KS or PCP. Three of the 6 patients with KS developed their symptoms after sexual contact with persons who already had symptoms of KS. One of these 3 patients developed symptoms of KS 9 months after sexual contact, another patient developed symptoms 13 months after contact, and a third patient developed symptoms 22 months after contact.”[3]

In their editorial note within the report they go on to give two hypotheses on the cause of these cases. One hypothesis being that an infection, at that time not yet identified, caused acquired cellular immunodeficiency and that was being transmitted through the sexual contact of homosexual males and thus may be the underlying cause of the KS or PCP. If this is true, according to the report, then the sexual partners of those infected may be at and increased risk of developing KS and/or PCP.[4]

The other hypothesis was that sexual contact with people infected with KS or PCP did not directly lead to acquired cellular immunodeficiency but “simply indicates a certain style of life. The number of homosexually active males who share this lifestyle may be much smaller than the number of homosexual males in the general population.”[5]

They end the report by stating that contact to certain substances, and not the infectious agent, may “eventually lead to immunodeficiency among a subset of the homosexual male population that shares a particular style of life. For example, Marmor et al. recently reported that exposure to amyl nitrite was associated with an increased risk of KS in New York City (7). Exposure to inhalant sexual stimulants, central-nervous-system stimulants, and a variety of other “street” drugs was common among males belonging to the cluster of cases of KS and PCP in Los Angeles and Orange counties.”[6]

According to Scientific American by the summer of 1982 452 cases in 23 states had been reported to the CDC. After a while people who were vulnerable to the disease were part of the   4-H club. This stood for the group considered to be most at risk to be infected: Homosexuals, heroin addicts, hemophiliacs, and Haitians.

By September of that year the CDC officially termed the new disease as Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) and that December a 20 month old baby, who had received multiple blood transfusions, had died of the new disease.  Further compounding the situation the first cases of mother to child transmission of the disease were also being reported.

On January 4, 1983 the CDC held a meeting in which it was recommended that homosexual men be banned from donating blood.[7]  In 1983 the FDA followed the lead of the CDC and permanently deferred homosexual men from donating blood.[8]

What Exactly Does The FDA Say About The Ban?

The FDA website states that it permanently defers men who have sex with men, at any time since 1977, from donating because they have a higher risk of contracting the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), Hepatitis B, and other diseases that can be transmitted through transfusion.

According to the FDA, using statistics from the American Red Cross, MSM since 1977 are “60 times higher than the general population, 800 times higher than first time blood donors and 8,000 times higher than repeat blood donors. Even taking into account that 75% of HIV infected men who have sex with men already know they are HIV positive and would be unlikely to donate blood, the HIV prevalence in potential donors with history of male sex with males is 200 times higher than first time blood donors and 2000 times higher than repeat blood donors.”[9]

MSM donors, as a group, are found to be HIV positive during blood donor testing more frequently than any other group. According to the CDC gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men represent approximately 2% of the US population.

The FDA also states that MSM “also have an increased risk of having other infections that can be transmitted to others by blood transfusion. For example, infection with the Hepatitis B virus is about 5-6 times more common and Hepatitis C virus infections are about 2 times more common in men who have sex with other men than in the general population. Additionally, men who have sex with men have an increased incidence and prevalence of Human Herpes Virus-8 (HHV-8). HHV-8 causes a cancer called Kaposi’s sarcoma in immunocompromised individuals.”[10]

Facts are facts and they should not be ignored. It is true, according to the CDC, that in 2007 MSM were 44 to 86 times as likely to be diagnosed with HIV as compared with other men and 40 to 77 times as likely as women.[11] It is still a fact that MSM remain the group with the highest risk for contracting HIV/ AIDS. When it comes to the annual transmission rate of HIV MSM were at 56% in 2006 (27,000), 58% in 2007 (32,300), 56% in 2008 (26,900) and 61% (29,300) in 2009.[12]

HIV Infections 2009

*[13]

While this numbers are grim and unsettling new advancements in the cleaning blood and checking for diseases have been established to make sure everyone’s blood is as safe as it can be for the recipients.

Another issue which concerns the FDA is the “window period”. The “window period” refers to the amount of time that a person’s tested blood could yield a false negative. The FDA’s website states that its policy regarding MSM and the permanent deferral is important because it “reduces the likelihood that a person would unknowingly donate blood during the “window period” of infection. This is important because the rate of new infections in MSM is higher than in the general population and current blood donors.”[14]

Further on in this policy proposal it will show that improvements , as it deals with the amount of time, have be made due to the advancements in technology to greatly reduce the chances of obtaining a false negative for the “window period.”

An argument that the FDA uses to uphold the ban is saying that the policy “is not unique to the United States. Many European countries have recently reexamined both the science and ethics of the lifetime MSM deferral, and have retained it.”[15] While that was true then, as of November 7, 2011 England, Scotland, and Wales have all done away with the permanent ban.[16]

Procedures and Improvements to Protect Donors and Recipients

When someone donates blood their sample is placed in color coded containers based on the day of the week. Afterwards the bags of those blood samples are placed in to a centrifuge. The centrifuge separates the red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. This process is known as differential centrifugation. The red blood cells, being the heaviest, will sink at the bottom, the white blood cells will move to the middle, and the platelets being the lightest will be on top. Once separated, the bag will be placed in an expresser.  This process separates each of the contents (red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets) and then they will each be placed in a bag of their own. Afterwards the red blood cells go into a refrigerator, plasma is placed in the freezer, and platelets are kept at room temperature.

A sample of each is then sent to the lab for testing. During the testing they are looking to detect for West Nile Virus, Syphilis, Hepatitis B and C, T.Cruzi (Chagas), Human T Cell Lymphotropic Virus 1 and 2, and of course HIV 1 and 2. If any of the samples turn up positive for any of these diseases an alarm will sound and then all samples of that donor are destroyed and the donor is then notified of the positive result.[17]

The blood is also tested for cholesterol levels and for type: AB, B, O, A, RH+ or RH-. Platelets have a lifespan of five (5) days, Plasma can last for one (1) year, and blood can last for 42 days if refrigerated properly.

In reference to the “window period” and the concerns that the FDA had about the issue as discussed earlier in this policy it is important to highlight a new advancement in this testing. In 1999 the Red Cross added another technique to its own screening process called nucleic acid testing, which detects the virus’s own genetic material using the same gene-amplifying techniques used to test for paternity. The test reduces the amount of time that a person’s tested blood could yield a false negative from three to six months with antibody screening alone (because it takes time for the body to produce antibodies to the virus) to about 12 days.[18]

According to America’s Blood Banks the risk of getting HIV through a transfusion is 1.5 million. That is much less than the risk of dying from a lightning strike.[19]

Helping Future Recipients by Improving the Shortage of the Blood Supply

Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles found that if the ban were lifted in favor of a 12-month deferral, an additional 219,000 pints of blood would be donated each year. Since one person’s donation can help three people, if you were to multiply 219,000 x 3, those people could potentially help 657,000 other people!

According to Scientific American: “In the United States it has been estimated that a five-year deferral would lead to an increase of 71,400 donors, whereas a one-year deferral would lead to an increase of 139,000 donors.” If you do the math 71,400 x 3 comes to 214,200 and for 139,000 new donors it would come to 417,000!

The World Health Organization estimates that 100 million units (45 million liters) of blood are needed worldwide per year.

The U.S. alone annually uses about 12 million units, and by 2030 it is projected that there will be a shortage of as much as four million units of blood.

Facts on Blood Supply and Needs

According to the American Red Cross[20]:

  • Every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood.
  • More than 38,000 blood donations are needed every day.
  • The average red blood cell transfusion is approximately 3 pints.
  • More than 1 million new people are diagnosed with cancer each year. Many of them will need blood, sometimes daily, during their chemotherapy treatment.
  • A single car accident victim can require as many as 100 pints of blood.
  • Sickle cell disease affects more than 80,000 people in the U.S., 98 percent of whom are African American. Sickle cell patients can require frequent blood transfusions throughout their lives.
  • Type O-negative blood (red cells) can be transfused to patients of all blood types. It is always in great demand and often in short supply.
  • Type AB-positive plasma can be transfused to patients of all other blood types. AB plasma is also usually in short supply.

According to The Mayo Clinic[21]:

  • Only 5 percent of eligible donors across the nation donate blood, but the number of transfusions nationwide increases by 9 percent every year.
  • Each whole blood donation can help as many as three people. One unit is divided into three parts: red blood cells, platelets, and plasma.
  • On average, a hip replacement typically uses one unit of blood, a cardiac bypass 2 units, a heart transplant 2 units, and a liver transplant 10 units!
  • About 80,000 units of blood products are transfused at Mayo Clinic annually.
  • The need for blood increases during holidays and summer months. People are more apt to be traveling and active during these times and thus are at an increased risk for accidents.
  • Statistics show that 25 percent or more of us will require blood at least once in our lifetime.
  • The Mayo Clinic Blood Donor Program has to buy nearly a quarter (25%) of its blood products from the American Red Cross to help meet the needs of our patients and to prevent postponing surgeries.

People Who Are Eligible to Give Blood Will Choose Not To, Adding to the Shortage

According to Mark Wainberg, who helped in the discovery of 3TC, one of the first drugs to control HIV, and an author, wrote of his concern of healthy able donors not donating due to their objection over the current policy.  He says: “”When a discriminatory policy isn’t justified by the science, it leads to controversy. We’ve seen protests and boycotts of blood drives on Canadian campuses, so I think the blood agencies would be better off if they agreed with us. I suspect, honestly, that many of them already do, in private.[22]

According to a Nov. 11, 2008 article by Chris Irvine for “The Telegraph”, a newspaper in the UK, the Student Unions of Newcastle and Sunderland universities banned together to stop The National Blood Service from advertising in their building because they discriminated against gay men.[23]

According to “US News” that same year San Jose State University banned blood drives on their campus because of the FDA’s current policy against gay men. The University President Don W. Kassing said, in an e-mail to staff, students, and alumni that “I recognize the importance of giving blood and we know that universities are a significant source of blood. Our hope is that the FDA will revisit its deferral policy in a timely manner, and we may soon be able to hold blood drives on this campus again.”[24]

The letter, written January 29, 2008, also states that “In an effort to resolve this issue, my staff and I consulted many experts and reviewed background material on the FDA Web site. We learned from the FDA that the deferral dates back to 1983, “when the risk of AIDS from transfusion was first recognized.” We also learned nucleic acid testing has since greatly reduced the risk HIV/AIDS once posed to blood supply safety. “In fact, our current risks are now so low that they cannot be measured directly and, hence, we rely on [mathematical] models,” Jay S. Epstein, M.D., said at a March 2006 FDA Workshop on Behavior-Based Donor Deferrals.”[25]

However, one other important point stated in the letter, and also stressed by Senator John Kerry in a letter written to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which will be discussed later in this policy proposal, is that “AABB, America’s Blood Centers and the American Red Cross — three organizations that stake their reputations on blood supply safety — have reviewed the same data and come out in favor of relaxing the deferral. In a joint statement, they said they “believe that the current lifetime deferral for men who have had sex with other men is medically and scientifically unwarranted and recommend that deferral criteria be modified and made comparable with criteria for other groups at increased risk for sexual transmission of transfusion-transmitted infections.” The FDA deferral for such groups is 12 months, according to the AABB Full-Length Donor History Questionnaire.”

President Kassing said that the blood centers offered to assist in any further research needed:

“AABB, America’s Blood Centers and the American Red Cross also offered their vast resources — a great many of the nation’s blood collection centers — to assist with any additional research required by the FDA. I am troubled the FDA has not, to our knowledge, made progress with additional research, nor disclosed if and/or when an FDA committee will vote again on the deferral for men who have sex with other men. Meanwhile, the lifetime deferral affecting gay males as a group remains in place when it may be safe and appropriate for these men to be treated individually, as is the case with people of other sexual orientations.”

The FDA never responded.

According to the article blood drives at SJSU bring in about 1,000 pints a year and high school and college campuses account for about 20 percent of all donated blood.

Annual Donation Trends for Brookhaven National Laboratory

Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL) began in 1947 on Long Island, Upton, New York. It is a multi-program national laboratory operated by Brookhaven Science Associates for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). According to its website it has a staff of approximately 3,000 scientists, engineers, technicians and support staff and over 4,000 guest researchers annually.

Its role for the DOE is “to produce excellent science and advanced technology with the cooperation, support, and appropriate involvement of our scientific and local communities.”[26]

The work done in the laboratory has earned The Nobel Prize seven (7) times in the fields of Chemistry and Physics; the latest coming in 2009 which was in the field of Chemistry.

Pints Donated

[27]

Here is a graph which shows the annual donations to BNL. There has been a decline of donations over the years. In 1998 there were 766 pints donated; however in 2010 -2011 there were only 306 pints donated.

They have been conducting blood drives for thirty years. They have been partners with Long Island Blood Services (LIBS), a division of New York Blood Center.[28] According to their statistics these hospitals require approximately 800 units [pints] of blood each day to meet routine needs.

According to LIBS they service 50 Long Island hospitals. According to LIBS “[o]ur region suffers from a shortage of local blood donors, and less than ideal donor frequency (those who donate don’t do so often enough). Only 2% of our population donates blood each year, compared to the national average of 5%. Long Island Blood Services is forced to import 25% of our blood products from other blood centers in the United States, because we can’t independently meet the demand.”[29] If they need 800 pints of blood and they import 25% of those pints that is 200 pints.

According to ABC News since 1996 “collecting, testing, transporting and delivering blood [for the Red Cross] has risen 27 percent. In that same time, officials said, prices for their products have risen 9.9 percent.” Now the Red Cross is selling their blood for $130- $150 a pint.[30] Using those figures as an example if the Red Cross was supplying LIBS with the blood they needed the cost would be great. On the low end ($130 x 200 pints) it is $26,000 a day. If we multiply that by 1 year (365 days) it would come out to $9,490,000! If you did it on the high end ($150 x 200 pints) it is $30,000 a day. For 1 year (365 days) it would come out to $10,950,000!

This Excluded Demographic Would Happily Donate to Help Others in Need

Despite the shortage that is evident in the United States, as outlined previously in this policy, healthy blood donors are being turned away with the only reason being that they answered ‘yes’ to the following question on the questionnaire given out to each potential donor: ‘Are you a male who’s had sexual contact with another male, even once, since 1977?’

Once that person answers ‘yes’ they will be given a slip of paper which informs them that they are ‘being chosen to be deferred.’ What the paper does not specify is that for homosexual males it is a lifetime deferral.

In a report by CNN’s Ben Tinker he details an incident where a perfectly healthy college junior, Dustin Weinstein from Montclair State University, was turned away because of his sexual orientation.[31] Weinstein had never given blood before and was exited at this opportunity. However, it was not until after they had let him know that he would be deferred that he became aware of the more than 20 year old policy of the FDA that barred homosexual men.

Weinstein says that the FDA should look at, and take account of, one’s sexual history and not at their sexual orientation. He says that “[t]he fact that HIV came in as the ‘gay disease, I think that stigma really sticks with people. They figure they can just block it all out that way.”

According to the report heterosexual HIV rates are on the rise, especially among African American women. However, according to the FDA, those groups are not banned for life from donating.

According to current CDC statistics in 2009, black women accounted for 30% of the estimated new HIV infections among all blacks. Most (85%) black women with HIV acquired HIV through heterosexual sex. The estimated rate of new HIV infections for black women was more than 15 times as high as the rate for white women, and more than three times as high as that of Latina women.[32]

Phil Wilson[33], an AIDS activist who is also quoted in said article calls the policy outdated and that the policy should be loosened. He goes on to say that “[w]e should educate people about their risk, and if you’re engaged in a risky behavior, then we should educate people to refrain from giving blood because they’re engaged in a risky behavior.”

Brad Baso, a 31 year old project manager for a nonprofit organization in St. Paul, who was interviewed by The New York Times, says that he finds it hard when he has to explain to his coworkers why he does not join them when they participate in blood drives held at work. He says “I work in the nonprofit sector, and it’s important for me to give back. But when you can’t participate in a workplace event, it makes you feel bad, I have to go into a teachable moment and explain that my government thinks my blood is tainted.”[34]

Dr. Steven Kleinman, senior medical adviser to the American Association of Blood Banks, an international association that opposes the ban, says that the controversy over homosexual men giving blood is in huge part because being homosexual in today’s society is a socially charged issue. He says “You wonder, if this wasn’t about gay men, would the rules be applied in the same way?”[35]

Other Countries That Are Considering or Have Changed Their Laws Concerning Donations by Homosexual Males

Spain: In the late 1990s Spain moved from excluding homosexual men to excluding people with promiscuous sexual behavior from donating blood. In Catalonia anyone who has had more than one sexual partner in the past six months is excluded.

Italy: The Italian ban on gay blood donation was repealed in January 2001, but “risky behavior” is still taken to include all men who have sex with men and lifelong deferral is applied.

New Zealand: Donations are not accepted from men who have had sex with men within the past 10 years. Last year the service’s advisory committee recommended a deferral period of five years with clear definitions of which sexual activities warrant deferral.

Australia: One year’s deferral for men who have sex with men plus specific questions about sexual history.[36]

United Kingdom: The permanent exclusion of men who have had sex with men (MSM) from donating blood has changed to a 12 month fixed period deferral from the latest relevant sexual contact following an evidence based review by the Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs (SaBTO).[37]

Professor Deirdre Kelly from the Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs said: “The SaBTO review examined the best available scientific evidence for UK blood donor selection in relation to sexual behaviours.  Our recommendation takes account of new data that have become available since the last review in 2006, as well as scientific and technological advances in the testing of blood.”[38]

A Call for Change

In 2010 Senator John Kerry, Democrat of Massachusetts, and 40 other members of Congress sent a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) opposing the ban. In the letter he writes “We join with medical experts at the American Red Cross, America’s Blood Centers, AABB, and the American Medical Association, among others, in calling for a change in policy that better reflects the science of high risk behavior for HIV.  The time has clearly come to review and modify this policy to strengthen the safety of the blood supply and remove any needless discriminatory rules from the process.”[39]

The letter goes on to say that “[i]n the wake of the major blood donor organizations stating that the lifetime ban on MSM blood donors is “medically and scientifically unwarranted, we urge you to utilize the most up to date and comprehensive medical and scientific data regarding high risk behaviors in your considerations.  In order to improve the integrity of the blood supply, we believe it is imperative that all high risk behaviors be appropriately targeted in the screening process and that similar deferral periods are established for similar risks.”

Is There a Double Standard?

It is important to point out that although the ENTIRE purpose of this policy is NOT to overturn the FDA’s standing on MSM donating blood solely because it is unfair and can be argued that it is discrimination based on sexual orientation. Rather this policy goes to try and alleviate some of the shortage and/ or safety of the blood supply. However, I strongly feel that the issue of double standards should be discussed. In Senator Kerry’s letter discussed earlier he points out the apparent double standards saying “As the policy currently stands, a number of potential oversights and medically unjustifiable double standards seem apparent.  For instance, there is no prescribed consideration of safer sex practices, individuals who routinely practice unsafe heterosexual sex face no deferral period at all while monogamous and married homosexual partners who practice safe sex are banned for life.  In fact, a woman who has sexual relations with an HIV positive male is deferred for one year, while a man who has had sexual relations with another man, even a monogamous partner, is deferred for life.   Even individuals who have paid prostitutes for heterosexual sex face a deferral period of one year while gay men face a lifetime ban.  These do not strike us as scientifically sound conclusions.”

Final Thoughts

Earlier in this policy proposal I discussed the question, which if a man were to answer ‘yes’ to would lead to permanent deferral : ‘Are you a male who’s had sexual contact with another male, even once, since 1977?’ Some or most of the readers of this policy proposal may say to themselves ‘why do we need to look at changing the current policy to a twelve (12) month deferral policy because the men will lie anyway and say that they have not engaged in sexual contact for the twelve month period; men are lying now about not being homosexual just so they can donate blood, so how would it make much difference?’  They may also say ‘a man is not going to stop having sex for 12 months just to donate blood.’

What I say to that is that yes it is highly true that there are people who will not be honest when answering that question and that is not going to change. But if the 12 month deferral were adopted there are men in there that would fit the criteria.

The first group, to put it as delicate as I can, has to do with men who were raped as young boys or teens. Under the current policy they would be permanently banned since rape in it of itself involves sexual contact and in these cases by males. Even though there is not as much research concerning male on male sexual crimes, according to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) about 3% of American men — or 1 in 33 — have experienced an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime. In 2003, 1 in every ten rape victims was male.   Also, according to RAINN 2.78 million men in the U.S. have been victims of sexual assault or rape.[40] How do we know that these sexual assaults occurred at the hands of other men? The truth is, as I stated before, there is not much data because many of these cases are not reported due to the embarrassment felt by the victims having to do with the stigma that that makes the victim a homosexual.

However, according to the Michigan Resource Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence “Contrary to the belief that homosexual men commit male-to-male sexual violence, research shows that men who identify as heterosexual are overwhelmingly the perpetrators of male sexual assault. Statistics show that heterosexual men commit 96-98% of all sexual violence against males and females.”[41]

Although it is not known exactly how many male sexual assaults are committed by a person of the same sex it is safe to say that it is a huge number.

Now because these men had sexual contact, be it unwanted, with another male it would bar them for life from ever donating under the current policy.

However, people may still say “they are going to lie about that experience.” Consider this next group of men that would be permanently deferred: Men who at some time in their lives had sexual contact with another male, at least once, then decided, whatever the reason, that it was not for them.

According to the National Health Statistics Report in their study called “Sexual Behavior, Sexual Attraction, and Sexual Identity in the United States: Data From the 2006–2008 National Survey of Family Growth” it is reported that at least six (6) percent of men, 15-44 years old, reported to have had at least one sexual experience with a person in their lifetimes.[42]

Under the current policy those men would be permanently deferred even if they have ceased having sexual relations with other men.

After reading my policy it is my hope that the FDA takes into account all the data provided and reconsiders relaxing their ban on the permanent deferral of homosexual men and their ability to donate blood. As the evidence collected here suggests there has been new technology that makes it as safe as it’s ever been, both for the donor and the recipient, for blood transfusions. A look at this policy also showcases the severe blood shortage in America and how a relaxation or abolishment of the deferral period can have a great impact. To further illustrate the changes and the impact it can have to America’s blood supply there are examples of other countries, such as Australia and Europe, relaxing their positions on permanent deferrals.

With the new technology available and advancements being made every day the blood is as safe as it’s ever been. If the deferral is changed and homosexual men and/ or men who have had a sexual experience with another man at least once in their lives are able to donate, blood centers, such as the LIBS, will be able to save some of the money used to import blood, as mentioned previously, and apply some of those funds toward better technology in the future to ensure that the donation of blood can be safer for everyone. Even though, according to evidence, the blood supply and process of giving blood is as safe as it’s ever been there is always room for any improvements possible.

According to recent statistics, which are contained within these documents, the blood shortage will only get worse. Not only will it get worse, but due to the shortage the price of blood will increase making it more difficult for hospitals to get the blood they desperately need.

Once again once you have carefully read and reviewed my policy it is my hope that the FDA will relax their policy to a 12 month deferral period at the start and ultimately abolish it in the future.

Thank You Very Much,

Gladys Esquijarosa

 

H.R.1983
Life Saving Blood Supply for America Act

Introduced By:

Gladys Esquijarosa

Works Cited

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“About the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) – SeriesMMWR – About Us.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 15 Jan. 2010. Web. 21 Dec. 2011. <http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/about.html&gt;.

“Blood Donations from Men Who Have Sex with Other Men Questions and Answers.” U S Food and Drug Administration Home Page. Web. 21 Dec. 2011. <http://www.fda.gov/BiologicsBloodVaccines/BloodBloodProducts/QuestionsaboutBlood/ucm108186.htm&gt;.

“Blood Donations from Men Who Have Sex with Other Men Questions and Answers.” U S Food and Drug Administration Home Page. Web. 21 Dec. 2011. <http://www.fda.gov/BiologicsBloodVaccines/BloodBloodProducts/QuestionsaboutBlood/ucm108186.htm&gt;.

“Blood Donations from Men Who Have Sex with Other Men Questions and Answers.” U S Food and Drug Administration Home Page. Web. 21 Dec. 2011. <http://www.fda.gov/BiologicsBloodVaccines/BloodBloodProducts/QuestionsaboutBlood/ucm108186.htm&gt;.

“Blood Facts and Statistics | American Red Cross.” American Red Cross – Give Blood. Web. 21 Dec. 2011. <http://www.redcrossblood.org/learn-about-blood/blood-facts-and-statistics&gt;.

“BNL Blood Drives: Annual Statistics.” Brookhaven National Laboratory – A Passion for Discovery. Web. 21 Dec. 2011. <http://www.bnl.gov/hr/blooddrive/stats/stats.asp&gt;.

Chandra, Ph.D., Anjani, William D. Mosher, Ph.D.,, Casey Copen, Ph.D., and Catlainn Sionean, Ph.D. “National Health Statistics Report in Their Study Called “Sexual Behavior, Sexual Attraction, and Sexual Identity in the United States: Data From the 2006–2008 National Survey of Family Growth”.” National Health Statistics Report. 3 Mar. 2011. Web. 21 Dec. 2011. <http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nhsr/nhsr036.pdf&gt;.

“A Cluster of Kaposi’s Sarcoma and Pneumocystis CariniiPneumonia among Homosexual Male Residents OfLos Angeles and Range Counties, California.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), 18 June 1982. Web. 21 Dec. 2011. <http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/00001114.htm&gt;.

“Did You Know?- Interesting Facts about Blood Donation.” Mayo Clinic. Web. 21 Dec. 2011. <http://www.mayoclinic.org/donate-blood-rst/know.html&gt;.

Francis, M.D., D.Sc., Donald P., Merle A. Sande, M.D., John L. Ziegler, M.D., Ph.D., James Chin, M.D., M.P.H., and Sally Smith Hughes, Ph.D. “The AIDS Epidemic in San Francisco: The Medical Response, 1981-1984.” California Digital Library. University of California, 1997. Web. 21 Dec. 2011. <http://content.cdlib.org/view?docId=kt729005cr&gt;.

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“Give Blood – Deferral of Men Who Have Sex with Men from Blood Donation.” Give Blood – Do Something Amazing Give Blood- England and North Wales. Nov. 2011. Web. 21 Dec. 2011. <http://www.blood.co.uk/can-i-give-blood/exclusion/&gt;.

“Give Blood – Deferral of Men Who Have Sex with Men from Blood Donation.” Give Blood – Do Something Amazing Give Blood. Web. 21 Dec. 2011. <http://www.blood.co.uk/can-i-give-blood/exclusion/&gt;.

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“HIV Incidence | Statistics and Surveillance | Topics | CDC HIV/AIDS.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Web. 21 Dec. 2011. <http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/topics/surveillance/incidence.htm&gt;.

“HIV Incidence | Statistics and Surveillance | Topics | CDC HIV/AIDS.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Web. 21 Dec. 2011. <http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/topics/surveillance/incidence.htm&gt;.

“HIV/AIDS and African Americans | Topics | CDC HIV/AIDS.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Web. 21 Dec. 2011. <http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/topics/aa/index.htm&gt;.

“Home Page.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Web. 21 Dec. 2011. <http://www.cdc.gov/&gt;.

Hurley, Richard. “Student BMJ: Bad Blood: Gay Men and Blood Donation.” Student BMJ: The International Medical Journal for Students. 1 Apr. 2009. Web. 21 Dec. 2011. <http://student.bmj.com/student/view-article.html?id=sbmj.b1054&gt;.

Irvine, Chris. “Student Unions Ban Blood Donation Adverts for Discriminating against Homosexuals – Telegraph.” Telegraph.co.uk – Telegraph Online, Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph – Telegraph. 11 Nov. 2008. Web. 21 Dec. 2011. <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/universityeducation/3440111/Student-unions-ban-blood-donation-adverts-for-discriminating-against-homosexuals.html&gt;.

Kassing, Don W. “Office of the President | President’s Message: Campus Blood Drives | San Jose State University.” Powering Silicon Valley | San Jose State University. 29 Jan. 2008. Web. 21 Dec. 2011. <http://www.sjsu.edu/president/communications/archives/kassing/blooddrives/letter.html&gt;.

“Kerry Urges HHS to End Blood Ban – Current Policy Bars Gay Men from Donating Blood.” John Kerry – United States Senator for Massachusetts: Home. 9 June 2010. Web. 21 Dec. 2011. <http://kerry.senate.gov/press/release/?id=4e51ccb4-b8bf-48a8-81f2-5ac908149785&gt;.

“Knowing Your Options.” Welcome to America’s Blood Centers. It’s About Life. :: America’s Blood Centers. Web. 21 Dec. 2011. <http://www.americasblood.org/go.cfm?do=Page.View&gt;.

“Lifetime Blood Donation Ban Lifted for Men Who Have Had Sex with Men | Media Centre.” Media Centre | Press Releases, Statements and Speeches. 8 Sept. 2011. Web. 21 Dec. 2011. <http://mediacentre.dh.gov.uk/2011/09/08/lifetime-blood-donation-ban-lifted-for-men-who-have-had-sex-with-men/&gt;.

“Long Island Blood Services (LIBS) Is a Division of New York Blood Center.” Blood Facts. New York Blood Center. Web. 21 Dec. 2011. <http://www.bnl.gov/hr/blooddrive/pdf/Blood_Fact_Sheet.pdf&gt;.

“Male Survivors of Sexual Violence.” Michigan Resource Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence. Web. <http://www.michigan.gov/documents/datingviolence/DHS-DatingViolence-MaleSurvivors_198439_7.pdf&gt;.

McQueen, Anjetta. “Red Cross to Charge More for Blood – ABC News.” ABCNews.com: Daily News, Breaking News and Video Broadcasts – ABC News. Web. 21 Dec. 2011. <http://abcnews.go.com/Health/story?id=117431&gt;.

Moisse, Katie. “Are the Rules That Determine Who Can Donate Blood Outdated?: Scientific American.” Science News, Articles and Information | Scientific American. 26 May 2010. Web. 21 Dec. 2011. <http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=sex-rules-blood-donation-precautionary-or-discriminatory&gt;.

Moisse, Katie. “Are the Rules That Determine Who Can Donate Blood Outdated?: Scientific American.” Science News, Articles and Information | Scientific American. Web. 21 Dec. 2011. <http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=sex-rules-blood-donation-precautionary-or-discriminatory&gt;.

Mroz, Jacqueline. “Rethinking Whether Gay Men May Donate Blood – NYTimes.com.” The New York Times – Breaking News, World News & Multimedia. 02 Aug. 2010. Web. 21 Dec. 2011. <http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/03/health/03blood.html&gt;.

Tinker, Ben. “Despite Shortage, Blood Donors Turned Away – American Morning – CNN.com Blogs.” American Morning – CNN.com Blogs. 14 June 2009. Web. 21 Dec. 2011. <http://am.blogs.cnn.com/2009/06/14/blood-donation-discrimination/&gt;.

“Who Are the Victims?- Breakdown by Gender and Age | RAINN | Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network.” RAINN | Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network | RAINN: The Nation’s Largest Anti-sexual Assault Organization.One of “America’s 100 Best Charities” —Worth Magazine. Web. 21 Dec. 2011. <http://www.rainn.org/get-information/statistics/sexual-assault-victims&gt;.


[1] “Home Page.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Web. 21 Dec. 2011. <http://www.cdc.gov/&gt;.

[2] “About the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) – SeriesMMWR – About Us.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 15 Jan. 2010. Web. 21 Dec. 2011. <http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/about.html&gt;.

[3] “A Cluster of Kaposi’s Sarcoma and Pneumocystis CariniiPneumonia among Homosexual Male Residents OfLos Angeles and Range Counties, California.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), 18 June 1982. Web. 21 Dec. 2011. <http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/00001114.htm&gt;.

[4]“A Cluster of Kaposi’s Sarcoma and Pneumocystis CariniiPneumonia among Homosexual Male Residents OfLos Angeles and Range Counties, California.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), 18 June 1982. Web. 21 Dec. 2011. <http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/00001114.htm&gt;.

[5] “A Cluster of Kaposi’s Sarcoma and Pneumocystis CariniiPneumonia among Homosexual Male Residents OfLos Angeles and Range Counties, California.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), 18 June 1982. Web. 21 Dec. 2011. <http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/00001114.htm&gt;.

[6] “A Cluster of Kaposi’s Sarcoma and Pneumocystis CariniiPneumonia among Homosexual Male Residents OfLos Angeles and Range Counties, California.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), 18 June 1982. Web. 21 Dec. 2011. <http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/00001114.htm&gt;.

[7] Francis, M.D., D.Sc., Donald P., Merle A. Sande, M.D., John L. Ziegler, M.D., Ph.D., James Chin, M.D., M.P.H., and Sally Smith Hughes, Ph.D. “The AIDS Epidemic in San Francisco: The Medical Response, 1981-1984.” Chap. 64; California Digital Library. University of California, 1997. Web. 21 Dec. 2011. <http://content.cdlib.org/view?docId=kt729005cr&gt;.

[8] “Blood Donations from Men Who Have Sex with Other Men Questions and Answers.” U S Food and Drug Administration Home Page. Web. 21 Dec. 2011. <http://www.fda.gov/BiologicsBloodVaccines/BloodBloodProducts/QuestionsaboutBlood/ucm108186.htm&gt;.

[9]“Blood Donations from Men Who Have Sex with Other Men Questions and Answers.” U S Food and Drug Administration Home Page. Web. 21 Dec. 2011. <http://www.fda.gov/BiologicsBloodVaccines/BloodBloodProducts/QuestionsaboutBlood/ucm108186.htm&gt;.

[10] “Blood Donations from Men Who Have Sex with Other Men Questions and Answers.” U S Food and Drug Administration Home Page. Web. 21 Dec. 2011. <http://www.fda.gov/BiologicsBloodVaccines/BloodBloodProducts/QuestionsaboutBlood/ucm108186.htm&gt;.

[11] “HIV among Gay, Bisexual and Other Men Who Have Sex with Men (MSM)| Topics | CDC HIV/AIDS.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Web. 21 Dec. 2011. <http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/topics/msm/index.htm&gt;.

[12] “HIV Incidence | Statistics and Surveillance | Topics | CDC HIV/AIDS.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Web. 21 Dec. 2011. <http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/topics

[13] “HIV Incidence | Statistics and Surveillance | Topics | CDC HIV/AIDS.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Web. 21 Dec. 2011. <http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/topics * IDU stands for Injection Drug Users

[14] “Blood Donations from Men Who Have Sex with Other Men Questions and Answers.” U S Food and Drug Administration Home Page. Web. 21 Dec. 2011. <http://www.fda.gov/BiologicsBloodVaccines/BloodBloodProducts/QuestionsaboutBlood/ucm108186.htm&gt;.

[15]  “Blood Donations from Men Who Have Sex with Other Men Questions and Answers.” U S Food and Drug Administration Home Page. Web. 21 Dec. 2011. <http://www.fda.gov/BiologicsBloodVaccines/BloodBloodProducts/QuestionsaboutBlood/ucm108186.htm&gt;.

[16]  “Give Blood – Deferral of Men Who Have Sex with Men from Blood Donation.” Give Blood – Do Something Amazing Give Blood. Web. 21 Dec. 2011. <http://www.blood.co.uk/can-i-give-blood/exclusion/&gt;.

[17]  Gay, Nancy. “What Happens to My Blood? – YouTube.” YouTube – Broadcast Yourself. Florida’s Blood Centers. Web. 21 Dec. 2011. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XHaOo20tqgk&gt;.

[18] Moisse, Katie. “Are the Rules That Determine Who Can Donate Blood Outdated?: Scientific American.” Science News, Articles and Information | Scientific American. 26 May 2010. Web. 21 Dec. 2011. <http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=sex-rules-blood-donation-precautionary-or-discriminatory&gt;.

[19] “Knowing Your Options.” Welcome to America’s Blood Centers. It’s About Life. :: America’s Blood Centers. Web. 21 Dec. 2011. <http://www.americasblood.org/go.cfm?do=Page.View&gt;.

[20] “Blood Facts and Statistics | American Red Cross.” American Red Cross – Give Blood. Web. 21 Dec. 2011. <http://www.redcrossblood.org/learn-about-blood/blood-facts-and-statistics&gt;.

[21] “Did You Know?- Interesting Facts about Blood Donation.” Mayo Clinic. Web. 21 Dec. 2011. <http://www.mayoclinic.org/donate-blood-rst/know.html&gt;.

[22] Moisse, Katie. “Are the Rules That Determine Who Can Donate Blood Outdated?: Scientific American.” Science News, Articles and Information | Scientific American. Web. 21 Dec. 2011. <http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=sex-rules-blood-donation-precautionary-or-discriminatory&gt;.

[23]Irvine, Chris. “Student Unions Ban Blood Donation Adverts for Discriminating against Homosexuals – Telegraph.” Telegraph.co.uk – Telegraph Online, Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph – Telegraph. 11 Nov. 2008. Web. 21 Dec. 2011. <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/universityeducation/3440111/Student-unions-ban-blood-donation-adverts-for-discriminating-against-homosexuals.html&gt;.

[24] Go, Alison. “San Jose State Bans Blood Drives – The Paper Trail (usnews.com).” US News & World Report | News & Rankings | Best Colleges, Best Hospitals, and More. 4 Feb. 2008. Web. 21 Dec. 2011. <http://www.usnews.com/education/blogs/paper-trail/2008/02/04/san-jose-state-bans-blood-drives&gt;.

[25] Kassing, Don W. “Office of the President | President’s Message: Campus Blood Drives | San Jose State University.” Powering Silicon Valley | San Jose State University. 29 Jan. 2008. Web. 21 Dec. 2011. <http://www.sjsu.edu/president/communications/archives/kassing/blooddrives/letter.html&gt;.

[26] “About Brookhaven.” Brookhaven National Laboratory – A Passion for Discovery. Web. 21 Dec. 2011. <http://www.bnl.gov/bnlweb/about_BNL.asp&gt;.

[27] “BNL Blood Drives: Annual Statistics.” Brookhaven National Laboratory – A Passion for Discovery. Web. 21 Dec. 2011. <http://www.bnl.gov/hr/blooddrive/stats/stats.asp&gt;.

[28] “Long Island Blood Services (LIBS) Is a Division of New York Blood Center.” Blood Facts. New York Blood Center. Web. 21 Dec. 2011. <http://www.bnl.gov/hr/blooddrive/pdf/Blood_Fact_Sheet.pdf&gt;.

[29]“Long Island Blood Services (LIBS) Is a Division of New York Blood Center.” Blood Facts. New York Blood Center. Web. 21 Dec. 2011. <http://www.bnl.gov/hr/blooddrive/pdf/Blood_Fact_Sheet.pdf&gt;.

[30] McQueen, Anjetta. “Red Cross to Charge More for Blood – ABC News.” ABCNews.com: Daily News, Breaking News and Video Broadcasts – ABC News. Web. 21 Dec. 2011. <http://abcnews.go.com/Health/story?id=117431&gt;.

[31] Tinker, Ben. “Despite Shortage, Blood Donors Turned Away – American Morning – CNN.com Blogs.” American Morning – CNN.com Blogs. 14 June 2009. Web. 21 Dec. 2011. <http://am.blogs.cnn.com/2009/06/14/blood-donation-discrimination/&gt;.

[32] “HIV/AIDS and African Americans | Topics | CDC HIV/AIDS.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Web. 21 Dec. 2011. <http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/topics/aa/index.htm&gt;.

[33] Tinker, Ben. “Despite Shortage, Blood Donors Turned Away – American Morning – CNN.com Blogs.” American Morning – CNN.com Blogs. 14 June 2009. Web. 21 Dec. 2011. <http://am.blogs.cnn.com/2009/06/14/blood-donation-discrimination/&gt;.

[34] Mroz, Jacqueline. “Rethinking Whether Gay Men May Donate Blood – NYTimes.com.” The New York Times – Breaking News, World News & Multimedia. 02 Aug. 2010. Web. 21 Dec. 2011. <http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/03/health/03blood.html&gt;.

[35] Mroz, Jacqueline. “Rethinking Whether Gay Men May Donate Blood – NYTimes.com.” The New York Times – Breaking News, World News & Multimedia. 02 Aug. 2010. Web. 21 Dec. 2011. <http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/03/health/03blood.html&gt;.

[36] Hurley, Richard. “Student BMJ: Bad Blood: Gay Men and Blood Donation.” Student BMJ: The International Medical Journal for Students. 1 Apr. 2009. Web. 21 Dec. 2011. <http://student.bmj.com/student/view-article.html?id=sbmj.b1054&gt;.

[37] “Give Blood – Deferral of Men Who Have Sex with Men from Blood Donation.” Give Blood – Do Something Amazing Give Blood- England and North Wales. Nov. 2011. Web. 21 Dec. 2011. <http://www.blood.co.uk/can-i-give-blood/exclusion/&gt;.

[38] “Lifetime Blood Donation Ban Lifted for Men Who Have Had Sex with Men | Media Centre.” Media Centre | Press Releases, Statements and Speeches. 8 Sept. 2011. Web. 21 Dec. 2011. <http://mediacentre.dh.gov.uk/2011/09/08/lifetime-blood-donation-ban-lifted-for-men-who-have-had-sex-with-men/&gt;.

[39] “Kerry Urges HHS to End Blood Ban – Current Policy Bars Gay Men from Donating Blood.” John Kerry – United States Senator for Massachusetts: Home. 9 June 2010. Web. 21 Dec. 2011. <http://kerry.senate.gov/press/release/?id=4e51ccb4-b8bf-48a8-81f2-5ac908149785&gt;.

[40] “Who Are the Victims?- Breakdown by Gender and Age | RAINN | Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network.” RAINN | Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network | RAINN: The Nation’s Largest Anti-sexual Assault Organization.One of “America’s 100 Best Charities” —Worth Magazine. Web. 21 Dec. 2011. <http://www.rainn.org/get-information/statistics/sexual-assault-victims&gt;.

[41] “Male Survivors of Sexual Violence.” Michigan Resource Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence. Web. <http://www.michigan.gov/documents/datingviolence/DHS-DatingViolence-MaleSurvivors_198439_7.pdf&gt;.

[42] Chandra, Ph.D., Anjani, William D. Mosher, Ph.D.,, Casey Copen, Ph.D., and Catlainn Sionean, Ph.D. “National Health Statistics Report in Their Study Called “Sexual Behavior, Sexual Attraction, and Sexual Identity in the United States: Data From the 2006–2008 National Survey of Family Growth”.” National Health Statistics Report. 3 Mar. 2011. Web. 21 Dec. 2011. <http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nhsr/nhsr036.pdf&gt;.

Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous: Kazakhstani Leadership Edition

Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08ASTANA760 2008-04-17 10:10 2010-11-29 23:11 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Astana

Have you ever wondered “wow, I wish I could be a fly on the wall just to see what really goes on behind closed doors when they think no one is watching?” If so, then Wikileaks and its founder Julian Assange are your new BFF’S.

On Monday Wikileaks.org released LIFESTYLES OF THE KAZAZHSTANI LEADERSHIP. The file describes some of the ways the country’s leadership love to spend their free time. The cable was to be kept CONFIDENTAL and it was given the REFERENCE ID 08ASTANA760.  The origin of these documents, as claimed by the website, came from Embassy Astana.

In the documents it is revealed that the political powerhouses of Kazakhstan not only like to have a good time, but they love to have a great time on a massive scale.   According to the information in the documents President Nazarbayev loves to go horseback riding in grand style.

It reads:

In 2007, emboff visited the presidential horse farm XXXXXXXXXXX. The farm is located on the outskirts of Astana in a residential area, but is surrounded by a high-fence and security guards. Inside the gates are a large stable, indoor and outdoor riding arenas, and a clubhouse with a pool table, sauna, and exercise room. Emboff toured the stable and saw approximately forty horses from various parts of the world. XXXXXXXXXXXX told him that Nazarbayev visits the horse farm on occasion, though not too frequently. XXXXXXXXXXXX said that Nazarbayev’s wife -- Sara Nazarbayeva -- never accompanies him, XXXXXXXXXXXX Taszhargan, an opposition newspaper, printed a sympathetic article about Sara Nazarbayeva XXXXXXXXXXXX”

Prime Minister Masimov is not one to miss out on the action. As it turns out, he is a fan of the club scene.

It reads:

On March 7, two days after his trip to the U.S. was cancelled, Prime Minister Masimov was spotted by emboff at Chocolat, one of Astana’s trendiest nightclubs. Masimov entered at approximately 11:30 pm, accompanied by Presidential Administration head Kairat Kelimbetov, Astana mayor Askar Mamin, three middle-aged Kazakh women (presumably their wives), and a security detail. Although the club offers a VIP area, Masimov chose to sit at a table in full view of all of the club’s patrons. Emboff lingered close to Masimov’s group XXXXXXXXXXXX Masimov led his companions on to Chocolat’s dance floor soon after their arrival. The dance floor holds approximately 100 people, and at the time perhaps 50 patrons were dancing. However, Masimov himself chose to dance on an empty stage above the dance floor. His companions quickly tired but Masimov remained, dancing alone and animatedly on the stage for another 15-20 minutes. At approximately 1:00 am, Masimov and his retinue left the club.”

Wikileaks.org gives it visitors the opportunity to view secret top-level confidential information without fear of getting caught. While the administrators work to get the information the websites viewers reap the rewards of their effort.

To read the entire file go to: http://cablegate.wikileaks.org/cable/2008/04/08ASTANA760.html

A Bronx Tale

Who Was Jonas Bronck?

New York’s most northern borough of Bronx County, most commonly referred to as The Bronx, goes all the way back to Jonas Bronck, a Swede who settled near the Harlem River in 1639. As a sea captain Bronck’s arrived, with his wife Antonia Slaghorn, servants, and cattle, to America in his ship named De Brant Van Troyen (The Fire of Troy).

Bronck’s purchased 500 acres of the hills and meadows north of the meeting of the Harlem and the East rivers known as “Aquahung.” It later became known as “Bronck’s Land.” He purchased this land from the Dutch West India Company. However Bronck’s also paid two Indian Sachems for the land. That was the custom of the time. He paid for the land by giving something that would be of great value to the Indians.  It is not known what was traded as payment for the land.

He went on to build his home and farm on that land. He used the farm to grow tobacco. During that time tobacco was one of most profitable plants being grown. The house, called “Emmanus”, was located on what today is the neighborhood of Willis Avenue and 132nd Street. Bronck’s died in 1643 at 43 years-old.

The land was eventually passed on to Lewis Morris and Captain Richard Morris. Morrisania in the Bronx and Morristown in New Jersey are named in their honor.

The Bronx River

When he died only the Bronx River had been named after him. What is now known as “The Bronx” was originally part of Westchester County. The river is approximately 24 miles long.  It rose from the Kensico Reservoir located in Westchester County.  In 1885 the river was cut off from its natural headwaters.

The river runs past White Plains, then southwest through the northern suburbs, passing through Edgemont, Tuckahoe, Eastchester, and Bronxville. It divides Yonkers from Mount Vernon, and flows into the northern end of The Bronx, southward through Bronx Park, New York Botanical Garden, and the Bronx Zoo and continues through urbanized areas of the South Bronx where it divides East Bronx from West Bronx.

The Birth of the Borough Called “The Bronx”

According to the Bronx County Historical Society’s website, “in 1874 the towns of Morrisania, West Farms and Kingsbridge, all of which were west of The Bronx River, were annexed to the City of New York. (Until this time, New York City had consisted solely of Manhattan.)” It goes on to read that “in the 1890s there was strong support in parts of Eastchester, Pelham, and the village of Wakefield for consolidating with New York City the area east of The Bronx River.”

In 1898 New York City implemented the borough system. Since The Bronx River ran through the northern part of the borough all of those areas previously annexed created the borough of The Bronx.

“The Bronx” By the  Numbers

The Bronx is forty-two square miles long. It is the only borough that is connected to the mainland. The Bronx is located north of Manhattan and Queens and south of Westchester County.

According to Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2008: “While the Bronx has an area of only 42 square miles (109 km2), it has more residents than the 665,000 square miles (1,700,000 km2) of Alaska and Wyoming combined.” The Census Bureau estimated that the population of The Bronx on July 1, 2009 was 1,397,287.

Comparing density of population Bronx County is the third most populated County coming behind New York County (Manhattan), and Kings County (Brooklyn), and coming ahead of Queens County.  It is also the fourth-most-populated of the five boroughs and the fourth-largest in land area.

The Bronx County Historical Society lists of the twelve colleges and universities in that reside in The Bronx. They are Fordham University, the Maritime College of the State University of New York, three branches of the City University of New York (Lehman College, Bronx Community College, and Hostos Community College), the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University, the College of Mount St. Vincent, Manhattan College, Mercy College, the College of New Rochelle, Audrey Cohen College and Monroe College.

The Bronx opened its first public high school, Morris High School, in 1897.

Tremont

The name of Tremont, which came about in the 1800’s, came from the neighborhoods surrounding it: Mount Eden, Mount Hope, and Fairmount in the west-central Bronx. According to the Lehman College Art Gallery Website the prefix “tre” stands for three and the “mont” stands for mount. It came about from a postmaster named Hiram Tarbox to make it easier to work the daily routes for mail.

According to the New York Department of City Planning, Tremont starts at 183rd Street in the north to Southern Boulevard in the east. Then from Crotona Park, 173rd Street, and Mount Eden Avenue and Parkway in the south (running exactly 2 blocks south of the Cross Bronx Expressway), and Jerome Avenue in the west. To the north is the Fordham section, to the east is West Farms, to the south is Morrisania, and to the west is University Heights.

Edwin Shuttleworth and the Shuttleworth Mansion

Edwin Shuttleworth was a dealer in stone who decided to have the mansion built using the type of stones he sold. This would become the Shuttleworth’s new home.

Known as the Edwin and Elizabeth Shuttleworth House it was built by the architects Neville and Bagge. Neville and Bagge built to a large extent on the west side of Upper Manhattan.

The mansion was built to fit in to the Bronx terrain at the time. David Bady, a writer for the Lehman Arts gallery, wrote that “Its square plan aligns itself with the frontage of its neighbors, while its asymmetrical elevation places the larger tower and the extended veranda at the pivotal corner. As large and ornamental as many isolated manor houses, it opts for the amenities of village life.”

Bady, when describing the mansion, goes on to say that it is: “derived from French Renaissance chateaux, with cylindrical towers topped by “candle-snuffer” conical roofs standing at either corner of the Anthony Avenue facade.”

He goes on to further say that the “stairs from the street reach a raised veranda and the central doorway, where stone caryatids, representing classical deities, support a florid carved entablature with dolphin-shaped consoles and a Pan-faced keystone.  Thin columns carry the porch to the right around the larger tower and onto the Mount Hope Place side of the house, where carving appears again in two portrait roundels.”

He describes the portraits as “(A woman’s face is set between the tower’s upper windows, a man’s—apparently, Shakespeare’s—lower down along the side.) The walls of the house are built in alternating courses of large and small rough-faced stone blocks, joined with red mortar.”

At that time The Parks Department preferred curving streets and irregular blocks that followed the broken landscape and maintained the character of an upper-middle-class suburb. The exceptional rectangular streets were limited to villages like Fordham, Tremont, and Mount Hope.

Before the mansion was built farms, estates, and garden-surrounded villas were the norm.

In 2007 it was sold by the broker team of Shebrelle Hunter-Green and Adrian Thompkins of The Corcoran Group’s Harlem office.  It was sold for a reported $675,000.

When speaking about the mansion Hunter-Green said “”A property like this comes along once in a lifetime. It is a reminder of how glorious the Bronx once was and will be again as its renaissance develops, much like what has taken place in Harlem.” Her associate Thompkins added that “not only is this mansion a piece of Bronx history, it is precious to the seller who called it home for more than 70 years and a dream house for the buyers.”

In the article titled “Buyers vowing to return historic Bronx mansion to former glory” written for Real Estate Weekly on August 29th the mansion is described as a house with “an exquisite exterior featuring ornately carved sculptures, stately turrets and stained glass windows and doors. Interior highlights include tin ceilings, a serpentine staircase, figurines and lamps from the 1890s, pocket doors, hand carved fireplaces and built-in cabinets.”

The ‘Countdown’ to Olbermann’s Return

MSNBC host Keith Olbermann was suspended indefinably on Thursday after Politico reported that the ‘Countdown’ host donated 2,400 to three Democratic candidates. Olbermann released a statement to the website in which he said:

“One week ago, on the night of Thursday October 28 2010, after a discussion with a friend about the state of politics in Arizona, I donated $2,400 each to the re-election campaigns of Democratic Representatives Raul Grijalva and Gabrielle Giffords. I also donated the same amount to the campaign of Democratic Senatorial candidate Jack Conway in Kentucky…I did not privately or publicly encourage anyone else to donate to these campaigns nor to any others in this election or any previous ones, nor have I previously donated to any political campaign at any level.”

The controversy stems not from the fact that Olbermann donated money, but that he did not clear it with the network before doing so.

According to MSNBC TV’s policy:

“Anyone working for NBC News who takes part in civic or other outside activities may find that these activities jeopardize his or her standing as an impartial journalist because they may create the appearance of a conflict of interest.  Such activities may include participation in or contributions to political campaigns or groups that espouse controversial positions.  You should report any such potential conflicts in advance to, and obtain prior approval of, the President of NBC News or his designee.”

Olbermann will resume hosting duties on Tuesday after a two day “indefinite” suspension. This is good for the network. ‘Countdown’ is its highest rated show, according to MSNBC with an average of 1.1 million viewers a night.

A note to the bosses of MSNBC: for future reference when you want to prove you are NOT like ‘fox noise’, as Olbermann refers to the network, you may not want to say that you are doing so to show that you are the not like them. Doing so makes Fox News look like an actual news network that is worthy of competing against.  Next time just suspend the person and give the reason and that will show that unlike Fox News you appreciate actual journalism.

From Unquestioned Animation Domination to Questionable Doubt: My History of Pixar Animation Studios

Introduction

Pixar Animation Studios is the world’s most famous animation studio. To date their nine released feature films have grossed over 2.5 billion dollars worldwide.

Released   

Movie Name   

1st Weekend   

US Gross   

Worldwide Gross   

Budget   

11/22/1995 Toy Story

$29,140,617

$191,796,233

$361,996,233

$30,000,000

11/20/1998 A Bug’s Life

$291,121

$162,798,565

$363,398,565

$45,000,000

11/19/1999 Toy Story 2

$300,163

$245,852,179

$485,752,179

$90,000,000

11/2/2001 Monsters, Inc.

$62,577,067

$255,870,172

$528,970,172

$115,000,000

5/30/2003 Finding Nemo

$70,251,710

$339,714,978

$866,592,978

$94,000,000

11/5/2004 The Incredibles

$70,467,623

$261,441,092

$635,564,642

$92,000,000

6/9/2006 Cars

$60,119,509

$244,082,982

$461,982,881

$70,000,000

6/29/2007 Ratatouille

$47,027,395

$206,445,654

$624,445,654

$150,000,000

6/27/2008 WALL-E

$63,087,526

$223,806,889

$532,936,655

$180,000,000

[1]

Pixar’s success not only comes from the technology they use to make their films, but also the process and degree of freedom used in their development. Pixar’s success has made the animation studio the envy of other animation studios such as DreamWorks and Fox. The Pixar reign began with the 1995 release of Toy Story and peaked with the successful release of Finding Nemo in 2004. Starting this year through 2012 Disney/Pixar plans on releasing 9 new films and re-releasing 2 films in 3-D format. The re-releases are Toy Story in October of this year and Toy Story 2 in February of 2010. Disney/Pixar new upcoming releases are as follows:

[2]Up – May 2009

The Princess and the Frog – Christmas 2009

Toy Story 3 – June 2010

Rapunzel – Christmas 2010

Newt – summer 2011

The Bear and the Bow – Christmas 2011

Cars 2 – Summer 2012

King of Elves – Christmas 2012

Although Pixar’s success has lead to a merger with Disney, there has been talk around the animation industry and the cinema world in general that it might be time for Pixar to panic. When it comes to some of their newer releases such as Ratatouille (2007) and WALL-E (2008) as well as Up, which is being released on May 29, 2009, there is a fear that the movie going audiences will not go to see these films as they did for Pixar’s previous releases. It might be time to worry that the studios that feared Pixar’s animation domination have now began to catch up to them. Many people in the animation industry feel that if Pixar does not begin to rethink the new direction, of after school specials lecturing people on subjects such as the environment and how to deal with loss as well as rising above obstacles, that their films are going and does not quickly adapt to the new technology of digital 3-D being used in the cinema, Pixar will get left behind.

From Lucasfilm To Pixar

Pixar Animation (formally known as the Computer Division) was founded in 1979 as a part of Lucasfilm. Lucasfilm was formed in 1971 by Star Wars director George Lucas. Lucasfilm is one of the world’s most successful film and production companies. One of Lucasfilm’s early successes was the release of American Graffiti in 1973. With only a budget of 750,000, the film went on to gross 100 million dollars worldwide.[3] At that time the success of the film made it the most successful movie ever produced in terms of cost-to-profit. Lucasfilm did not only have major success at the box office, but it also had great success in the creation of its film and production technologies. [4]In 1975 the company established Sprocket Systems.  Sprocket Systems, later renamed Skywalker Sound, was a way to do sound editing on films. The first film edited using this technology was Star Wars. Industrial Light and Magic was created in that same year to handle the special effects on Star Wars. When Star Wars opened on May 25, 1977 it was a huge success and at that time becomes the biggest grossing film of all time. It went on to win eight Academy Awards including Visual Effects, Editing, and Sound Effects. In 1979 George Lucas created the Computer Research and Development Division. This was created to research new and upcoming technologies that could later be used on films. In 1986 George Lucas sold the Computer Division for 5 million dollars to Steve Jobs shortly after he left his job as CEO of Apple Computers, and Jobs renames it Pixar Animation.

Early Pixar

            At the very beginning of Pixar’s existence it was a company which sold and manufactured computer hardware. The product they sold was called the Pixar Image Computer. This computer was used to design graphics with better visualization and a clearer picture. The primary buyers of the system came from government and medical agencies as well as Disney Studios. Disney Studios used the Pixar Image Computer as part of their CAPS project.[5] This project was a way of making the drawing and coloring part of Disney’s 2-D animation process much quicker as well as less strenuous because that work could be placed in the computer’s system. Even though the computer was being used by these companies it was not selling as well as Pixar had hoped. In order to drive up sells John Lasseter began to create short computer animations in order to showcase the computer’s capabilities. One of his first animations was called Luxo Jr. This computer animation was about two desk lamps, a parent and a child, playing with a beach ball. One of these lamps is now used in the Pixar logo in the beginning of its films. It received great reviews. Pixar also created commercials for other companies such as Tropicana and LifeSavers using computer animation. Even though Pixar received rave reviews for its computer animated work the company was still struggling to sell its product. In 1991 with the company still struggling to stay in business it entered in to a contract with Disney Studios, one of the companies it had done business with in the past. The contract was worth 26 million dollars. Pixar would now produce computer animated movies for Disney[6]. The first film made by Pixar for Disney was Toy Story.

Pixar’s Domination in Animation

            Toy Story made history when it was released on Thanksgiving Day of 1995. It was the first film ever made using only computer generated imagery. In order to make this film it took 117 computers running 24 hours a day to get the movie done. Each frame took anywhere from 45 minuets to 20 hours to complete[7]. When it opened at the box office it received praise from critics for its use of computer imagery as well as praise for its story telling. In its first week of release it grossed over 190 million dollars and took in 356 million dollars worldwide[8]. The amazing aspect about Toy Story was the movements of the toys within the film. It was no accident that Pixar decided to make the first computer generated animation film about toys. As stated in the article ‘From “Toy Story” to “Chicken Little“’ from The Economist:

Toys were chosen… because they are relatively easy to model and animate on a computer. They do not have complicated features (such as fur or wavy hair), and nobody expects them to make fluid, life-like movements[9].

Since Pixar Animation Studios’ first film Toy Story the technology for computer animation has advanced.  Looking at Pixar’s other film releases since Toy Story, one can see the advancements. Looking at films like Monsters Inc. (2001), Finding Nemo (2003), and The Incredibles (2004) it is noticeable that the characters in these films have become more flexible with lifelike movements[10]. In both Monsters Inc and The Incredibles the characters’ hair moves when they walk, jump or fly as if the wind is really going through it. You can also see it when putting on a piece of clothing like a shirt or a coat. When it comes to Pixar Animation Studios the advancement in computer animation is not the only thing that makes other animation studios jealous. It also has to do with the degree of freedom had by the writers and animators as well as the type of stories Pixar develops.

Creating Animation in a Pixar World

When it comes to making a Pixar film, it is not only about taking an idea of a character and writing it out on paper. At Pixar a person has to be willing to “invest their own embodied experiences and energies in communicating a story to others[11]” (Pixar Phenomenology: The Embodiment of Animation). Together with one’s own experience, doing research for a character is also a part of the process. In a conversation with Pixar animator Andrew Gordon in the article “Eyebrow Acting” he discusses the research he did while working on the film Monsters Inc. for the character of Mike Wazowski:

…I did a lot of work on Mike and so the first thing I thought was, ‘Whoa, he’s an eyeball! Maybe we should figure out how an eye moves correctly’. I just did lots of close-up research on the physical nature of an eye- how it moves and blinks and sticks and the brow moves and changes shape.[12]

Andrew Gordon also says in his interview that Mike’s personality came from the friends he used to hang out with in New Jersey.

At Pixar there is also an acting room where the animators and writers can go and act out a scene so that they can see the facial and body movements that the character might perform. In the room besides having mirrors there are also cameras so that the animator/ writer can rewind it and see it again with other animators or by themselves to see if there is anything that might need to be modified. At Pixar Animation Studios an animator/ writer is always learning. At Pixar they have classes to help foster a better working environment with every member of the staff. Having these classes helps “people become more comfortable learning in front of their peers” and that “they can come to have a greater respect for ‘being imperfect, making mistakes, and soliciting and sharing advice’” (Pixar Phenomenology: The Embodiment of Animation).[13]

When it comes to creating a film at Pixar everybody’s role is equally important; there is no set leader. ‘There is an unspoken lead. Someone will be a lead by the work they do” (Eyebrow Acting)[14]. When making a film no one argues for the part they want on the film or which character they want to voice; at Pixar everyone gets it by their work. Unlike in other studios where the director may have power over the animators, like Jeffrey Katzenberg at DreamWorks, here that is not the case. In other studios “[t]he scripts are written not by the directors but by sitcom writers” (The Problem with Pixar, Weinman; lines 53-54). At Pixar the animators and directors write the scripts.

Another key to Pixar is like its famous saying “story is king”[15]. As Thomas Huxley, editor-in-chief of UpcomingPixar.com puts it “I think the money has been secondary to them, and making a good movie first” (The Problem with Pixar, Weinman)[16]. When it comes to a Pixar film no actor or actress is bigger than the movie. As Jaime J. Weinman states in the article: “[u]nlike Pixar, which uses some famous voices, but doesn’t publicize them much, other studios make celebrity voices (Jack Black, Jerry Seinfeld) the literal stars of the film”(The Problem with Pixar, Weinman; lines 54-56). Brandon Neeld, who operates the Pixar Planet website, says that when it comes to Pixar as compared to the other animation studios is that “Pixar movies aren’t held together by toilet humor and pop-culture references that bring in the kiddies for a blockbuster weekend and then get cast aside” (The Problem with Pixar, Weinman lines 40-41).

Concern for Pixar?

            Although Pixar has been the heavyweight when it comes to computer animation films, some critics say that it might be time for Pixar to panic. For a couple of years other animation studios have worked hard to catch up to Pixar. Studios such as DreamWorks and Fox have released their own computer animation films with huge success. In 2001 DreamWorks released Shrek, a computer animated movie about a green ogre and his friends. The movie went on to gross over 42 million dollars its first weekend in theaters, making it the number one movie that weekend. Another one of DreamWorks’ hits was the release of Kung Fu Panda in 2008. That film went on to make over 60 million dollars its opening weekend. 20th Century Fox has had success of its own with the release of Ice Age in 2002. That film went on to make over 176 million dollars at the US box office. The success had by these films might serve as a warning to Pixar that it might be in danger of losing its dominance to its competitors[17].

It is the success of the films by Pixar’s competitors that has critics worried about the new direction that Pixar has chosen to take. Pixar Animation Studios’ recent film releases such as Ratatouille (2007) and WALL – E (2008) have moved in a different direction than Pixar’s previous feature films. Pixar’s previous releases showed original ideas such as the computer animated Toy Story. They also had original concepts for their films such as toys that come to life (Toy Story) and a day in the lives of bugs (A Bugs Life, 1998). They did not have to rely on “jokes and pop culture references” (The Problem with Pixar, Weinman; line 41). That has seemed to change. Pixar’s new releases don’t focus on up beat comedy; instead now their films are starting to feel like after school specials. The film Ratatouille focuses on a rat that wants to cook and become a famous chief. The film feels like a documentary that follows a rat struggling from nowhere to worldwide notoriety. When it comes to the film WALL – E, in my opinion, underneath the love story between the two robots it feels like a 98 minute PSA on the dangers we face if we don’t clean and protect the planet earth. As author Weinman states in his article the film has been “jokingly referred to as an animated version of An Inconvenient Truth”. [18]

            With the new Pixar release of Up the trend of creating after school specials does not seem to be dying for the animation studio. The premise of the film has to do with a 78 year old man named Carl who has to deal with losing his wife, who was his childhood sweetheart, named Ellie. This movie, I believe, could set Pixar apart from the animation studios, although probably not in the way they might want. As Anthony Breznican writes in his article “’Up’ could elevate animated moviesfor USA Today this film deals with “themes rarely seen in bedtime storybooks: romance, financial hardship, a lost pregnancy, loneliness and the blink-of-an-eye passage from childhood to wrinkles”.[19] Many critics are uneasy about the release of Up because of the presumed lack of commercial and merchandising appeal. Many of Pixar’s films have created partnerships with fast food chains such as MacDonald’s or Burger King to advertise their product.   Many critics are not sure if those chains would want to advertise to kids about a 78 year old man who has just lost his wife; and even if they wanted to that would bring up a question on how they would go about doing it.

The 3-D Revolution: How Pixar Can Stay In the Race

            In the world of cinema and especially in the realm of animation, 3-D is the new black. In a world where everyday there is some new technical gadget on the market, the cinemas and the studios have had to invent new ways to get the audiences interested in going to see new films. With the invention of the DVD and now the Blue Ray the former movie going audiences have decided to wait for the movie to be released on these formats so that they could watch it at home. Due to this effect on the movie going market, animation studios have decided to release some if not all their upcoming feature films in 3-D. In 2005 Disney released a 3-D format of Chicken Little that played in 84 theaters equipped with the new digital projector. That following year other studios such as Sony and Paramount released some 3-D versions of their films. Paramount released Beowulf and Sony released Monster House. In 2007 a group of Hollywood studios came together and gave over 1 billion dollars to upgrade many cinemas with the RealD technology necessary to play movies in 3-D. In 2005 there were only 84 theaters equipped with the RealD projectors which played 3-D movies. In 2006 that number had grown to 200 theaters. By the year 2007 900 theaters were equipped with the RealD technology needed to showcase films in 3-D. In 2007 Dolby used its own 3-D system and is now in 150 theaters in the United States, and 350 theaters around the world.[20] Unlike many other 3-D systems Dolby’s system does not need special screens. The only thing it requires is the use of reusable polarized glasses.  The key to using digital projectors is that “the digital projectors control the dual images (left eye, right eye) with split second accuracy. This has helped eliminate the headache-producing misalignments of left eye/ right eye frames that can result when two sprocker-based projectors put images on screen” (Rethinking Moviemaking; Robertson, page 11). Not wanting to be left behind, Disney announced that every film created with Pixar Animation Studios will be made in the 3-D format with Disney Digital 3-D, starting with Up. Disney has also re-released films such as The Nightmare Before Christmas in 3-D and plans to re-release old Pixar favorites Toy Story and Toy Story 2 in 3-D as well (Rethinking Moviemaking; Robertson, pages 10-11). I believe that if Disney Studios had not taken that step to begin to release their films in 3-D Disney would have taken the risk of becoming irrelevant. With other animation studios now going in to the market that was once owned by Disney/Pixar, the children market, Disney/ Pixar can no longer wait until they feel like it is time to release a film in 3-D. If they wait too long other animation studios such as DreamWorks or Fox will create a film of their own to target that audience affecting Disney/Pixar profits. If they are not there to give the audience what they want then one of their competitors will.

Conclusion

            As a child growing up I loved to see Pixar films. I would make my parents take me the movies to see films such as Toy Story and A Bug’s Life. I used to think about how the movie looked so cool and that it was a fun story. I wondered about how it would be if I were a toy going on those awesome adventures. Now that I am older I have a better appreciation for the impact that Pixar Animation Studios has had on the world of animated features. As I have gotten older I haven’t seen many Pixar films at the movies. Like many of the writers discussed in this paper I have relied on the DVD to get my dose of Pixar. It is my belief that even though the new technologies have somewhat reduced sections of the movie going audiences, there are those that will still want to go and see a Pixar computer generated film. I believe that young children will want to go to the movie theater and see a Pixar film. I believe that young children always want the quick satisfaction now and not later. When it comes to Pixar’s animation dominance I believe that some of what the critics fear can be valid. Could Pixar be hurt by what appears to be not much marketing for Up…absolutely. However, I believe that Pixar’s real fear is not the competition of the other animation studios, but in the impact that that competition is having on the computer animated film genre as a whole. This impact could not only impact studios such as Fox, Paramount, and DreamWorks, it could also affect Pixar. As other studios began to notice the success that Pixar was having with their films such as Toy Story and Finding Nemo those studios, such as Paramount, DreamWorks, Sony, and Fox, began to write and produce their own computer generated films to try and get a piece of that pie. However, the effect that that competition is having on that genre could turn out to be negative and not positive, as they had hoped. As written by Kate Kelly and Merissa Marr in their article “Animation Pileup”; from The Wall Street Journal “there’s a fear that, just as more studios are sinking hundreds of millions into the game, the audience will begin to feel animation fatigue”[21]. As Chris Meledandri, the president of the Fox animation division, says “[n]ow that we’re 10 years into this, that automatic excitement that came along with this digital, dimensional animation isn’t there,” (Kelly and Marr; The Wall Street Journal; lines 31-32).  At the beginning when Pixar released Toy Story there were only a couple of computer animated films in any given year. However, in the years of 2005 to 2006 studios planned to release up to ten films.[22] There has been evidence to show the negative impact of releasing too many animated CGI films at one time. In 2002 Fox had to shutdown one of its animation studios in Arizona due to the less than dazzling performances of its films, Anastasia (1997)[23] and Titan A.E. (2000)[24], at the box office[25].

With the rush to get many of these computer generated animated films released studios have forgotten something very important. That very important element that is being forgotten is a great storyline that can be enjoyed by both children and adults. This is where new Pixar films such as WALL-E and Up can serve as a way to once again separate themselves from the other animated studios. As Kelly and Marr state in their article, “…nearly all of the computer-animated films to date have been comedies made with children in mind. Many think the genre needs to expand its horizons to include action and even more adult-targeted fare to continue flourishing”.[26] If and when the time comes where the movie going audience begins to get tiered of those comedy films Pixar will be there waiting with films like Up, in the new 3-D format, with its more mature themes to engage the audience. I believe that Pixar’s new direction in teaching lessons on the environment and dealing with its new mature topics such as losing a loved one could either be positive or negative impact for Pixar Animation Studios. I feel that both sides argued in this paper could be valid. However, I feel that it is too early to make such a judgment. It is my belief that some time must pass. Until the release of Up and some of Pixar’s other films done in the new 3-D format we will not know whether or not Pixar will still be number one; we have to wait for the box office returns. If they do not do well then, I believe Pixar will have to panic. Until then we will just have to wonder if Pixar can stay dominant in 3-D as it did with computer animation, while at the same time getting the audiences to appreciate going to the cinemas once again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bibliography and Other Research References For:

From Unquestioned Animation Domination to Questionable Doubt:

My History of Pixar Animation Studios

By Queen

Upcoming films

Pixar total box office

Pixar Phenomenology: The Embodiment of Animation

  • Seton, Dr. Mark. “Pixar Phenomenology: The Embodiment of Animation”. Metro 2008 Issue 157: Pg. 94-Pg. 97.

Animation Pileup

  • Kate Kelly, Merissa Marr. “Animation Pileup”. The Wall Street Journal March 10, 2005: B1-B3.

The Problem With Pixar

  • Weinman, Jaime J.. “The Problem With Pixar”. Maclean’s July 7, 2008: 76-78.

Rethinking Moviemaking

  • Robertson, Barbara. “Rethinking Moviemaking”. Computer Graphics World November 2008: 10-19.

Incredible Movies

  • Garson, Patrick. “Incredible Movies”. Screen Education 2005 Issue 38: 28-35

Everything2

Firstshowing.net

‘Up’ could elevate animated movies

  • Breznican, Anthony . “‘Up’ could elevate animated movies”. USA Today 02/12/2009: Pg. 01d-Pg. 01d.

From “Toy Story” to “Chicken Little”.

  • “From “Toy Story” to “Chicken Little”.”. The Economist 12/10/2005: Pg. 24-Pg. 27.

Pixar Stories

  • Doherty, Brian. “Pixar’s Stories”. Reason Jan 2009: Pg. 68-Pg. 69.

LucasFilm.com

Eyebrow Acting

  • Andrew Gordon, Anthony Lucas. “Eyebrow Acting”. Metro 2008 Issue 157: Pg. 98-Pg. 101.

Created by Queen AKA Gladys Esquijarosa; gladys.esquijarosa@baruchmail.cuny.edu or jroyalty3@yahoo.com


[1]courtesy of The Numbers.com; website: http://www.the-numbers.com/movies/series/Pixar.php

[2] “Disney reveals 3D movie line-up”. BBC News. April 2009

[3] Courtesy of LucasFilm.com

[4] Courtesy of LucasFilm.com

[5] Courtesy of Everything2.com

[6] Everything2.com

[7] The statistics for the discussion of Toy Story In the section “Pixar’s Domination in Animation” come from “Pixar Stories” written by Brian Doherty for Reason in January 2009; pages 68-69

[8] Courtesy of Wekipedia and The Numbers.com

[9] “Chicken Little”’ from The Economist; lines 4-5

[10] Information on “The Incredibles” comes from the article “Incredible  Movies”

[11] “Pixar Phenomenology: The Embodiment of Animation’; Valuing Embodiment: let’s play; lines 17-18

[12] Eyebrow Acting; pages 98-99

[13] Pixar Phenomenology: The Embodiment of Animation; lines 63-66

[14] Eyebrow Acting; pages 99-100

[15] Pixar Phenomenology: The Embodiment of Animation; page 94; line 17

[16] The Problem with Pixar; lines 23-25

[17] Box office numbers courtesy of Yahoo! Movies; Box Office history as well as the Wekipedia pages of the above named films.

[18] The Problem with Pixar; lines 77-78

[19] “’Up’ could elevate animated movies”  lines 9-10

[20] Statistics in this paragraph come courtesy of the article “Rethinking Moviemaking” by Barbara Robertson.

[21] “Animation Pileup”; lines 29-30

[22] Statistics in this paragraph come courtesy of “Animation Pileup” written by Kate Kelly and Merissa Marr

[23] Worldwide box office was 139,801,410; 1st weekend total 120,541; US gross was 58,403,409; Budget for the film was 53,000,000 (courtesy of TheNumbers.com)

[24] Worldwide box office was 36,751,979; 1st weekend total 9,376,845; US gross was 22,751,979; Budget for the film was 75,000,000 (courtesy of TheNumbers.com)

[25] Information found at lines 47-48 of  “Animation Pileup”

[26] Lines 62-63 of “Animation Pileup”