viernes, 2 de noviembre de 2007

The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke: A Report of the Surgeon General, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

6 Major Conclusions of the Surgeon General Report

Smoking is the single greatest avoidable cause of disease and death. In this report, The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke: A Report of the Surgeon General, the Surgeon General has concluded that:

  1. Many millions of Americans, both children and adults, are still exposed to secondhand smoke in their homes and workplaces despite substantial progress in tobacco control.
  2. Supporting Evidence

    • Levels of a chemical called cotinine, a biomarker of secondhand smoke exposure, fell by 70 percent from 1988-91 to 2001-02. In national surveys, however, 43 percent of U.S. nonsmokers still have detectable levels of cotinine.
    • Almost 60 percent of U.S. children aged 3-11 years�or almost 22 million children�are exposed to secondhand smoke.
    • Approximately 30 percent of indoor workers in the United States are not covered by smoke-free workplace policies.

  3. Secondhand smoke exposure causes disease and premature death in children and adults who do not smoke.
  4. Supporting Evidence

    • Secondhand smoke contains hundreds of chemicals known to be toxic or carcinogenic (cancer-causing), including formaldehyde, benzene, vinyl chloride, arsenic, ammonia, and hydrogen cyanide.
    • Secondhand smoke has been designated as a known human carcinogen (cancer-causing agent) by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, National Toxicology Program and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has concluded that secondhand smoke is an occupational carcinogen.

  5. Children exposed to secondhand smoke are at an increased risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), acute respiratory infections, ear problems, and more severe asthma. Smoking by parents causes respiratory symptoms and slows lung growth in their children.
  6. Supporting Evidence

    • Children who are exposed to secondhand smoke are inhaling many of the same cancer-causing substances and poisons as smokers. Because their bodies are developing, infants and young children are especially vulnerable to the poisons in secondhand smoke.
    • Both babies whose mothers smoke while pregnant and babies who are exposed to secondhand smoke after birth are more likely to die from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) than babies who are not exposed to cigarette smoke.
    • Babies whose mothers smoke while pregnant or who are exposed to secondhand smoke after birth have weaker lungs than unexposed babies, which increases the risk for many health problems.
    • Among infants and children, secondhand smoke cause bronchitis and pneumonia, and increases the risk of ear infections.
    • Secondhand smoke exposure can cause children who already have asthma to experience more frequent and severe attacks.

  7. Exposure of adults to secondhand smoke has immediate adverse effects on the cardiovascular system and causes coronary heart disease and lung cancer.
  8. Supporting Evidence

    • Concentrations of many cancer-causing and toxic chemicals are higher in secondhand smoke than in the smoke inhaled by smokers.
    • Breathing secondhand smoke for even a short time can have immediate adverse effects on the cardiovascular system and interferes with the normal functioning of the heart, blood, and vascular systems in ways that increase the risk of a heart attack.
    • Nonsmokers who are exposed to secondhand smoke at home or at work increase their risk of developing heart disease by 25 - 30 percent.
    • Nonsmokers who are exposed to secondhand smoke at home or at work increase their risk of developing lung cancer by 20 - 30 percent.

  9. The scientific evidence indicates that there is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke.
  10. Supporting Evidence

    • Short exposures to secondhand smoke can cause blood platelets to become stickier, damage the lining of blood vessels, decrease coronary flow velocity reserves, and reduce heart rate variability, potentially increasing the risk of a heart attack.
    • Secondhand smoke contains many chemicals that can quickly irritate and damage the lining of the airways. Even brief exposure can result in upper airway changes in healthy persons and can lead to more frequent and more asthma attacks in children who already have asthma.

  11. Eliminating smoking in indoor spaces fully protects nonsmokers from exposure to secondhand smoke. Separating smokers from nonsmokers, cleaning the air, and ventilating buildings cannot eliminate exposures of nonsmokers to secondhand smoke.
  12. Supporting Evidence

    • Conventional air cleaning systems can remove large particles, but not the smaller particles or the gases found in secondhand smoke.
    • Routine operation of a heating, ventilating, and air conditioning system can distribute secondhand smoke throughout a building.
    • The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), the preeminent U.S. body on ventilation issues, has concluded that ventilation technology cannot be relied on to control health risks from secondhand smoke exposure.

The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke: A Report of the Surgeon General was prepared by the Office on Smoking and Health, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The Report was written by 22 national experts who were selected as primary authors. The Report chapters were reviewed by 40 peer reviewers, and the entire Report was reviewed by 30 independent scientists and by lead scientists within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Health and Human Services. Throughout the review process, the Report was revised to address reviewers� comments.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke: A Report of the Surgeon General. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2006.

For more information, please refer to the Resources page. Additional highlight sheets are also available at

Last revised: January 4, 2007

Esto mismo puede consultarse en la página del United States Department of Health & Human Services.

Harvard Researchers Find Nicotine Content has Increased 11%

The discovery of an 11% increase in nicotine content confirms recent statements by the US District Court for the District of Columbia that manufacturers have the ability to manipulate addictive additives.

Boston, MA--A reanalysis of nicotine yield from major brand name cigarettes sold in Massachusetts from 1997 to 2005 has confirmed that manufacturers have steadily increased the levels of this agent in cigarettes. This independent analysis, based on data submitted to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) by the manufacturers, found that increases in smoke nicotine yield per cigarette averaged 1.6 percent each year, or about 11 percent over a seven-year period (1998-2005). Nicotine is the primary addictive agent in cigarettes.

The full report "Trends in Smoke Nicotine Yield and Relationship to Design Characteristics Among Popular U.S. Cigarette Brands" is available here:

In addition to confirming the magnitude of the increase, first reported in August, 2006 by MDPH, researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) extended the analysis to:

1) ascertain how manufacturers accomplished the increase -- not only by intensifying the concentration of nicotine in the tobacco but also by modifying several design features of cigarettes to increase the number of puffs per cigarette. The end result is a product that is potentially more addictive.

2) examine all market categories -- finding that smoke nicotine yields were increased in the cigarettes of each of the four major manufacturers and across all the major cigarette market categories (e.g. mentholated, non-mentholated, full-flavor, light, ultralight).

The analysis was performed by a research team from the Tobacco Control Research Program at HSPH led by program director Gregory Connolly, professor of the practice of public health, and Howard Koh, associate dean for public health practice at HSPH and a former commissioner of public health for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (1997-2003). The other co-investigators were HSPH researchers Hillel R. Alpert and Geoffrey Ferris Wayne.

"Cigarettes are finely-tuned drug delivery devices, designed to perpetuate a tobacco pandemic," said former Commissioner Koh. "Yet precise information about these products remains shrouded in secrecy, hidden from the public. Policy actions today requiring the tobacco industry to disclose critical information about nicotine and product design could protect the next generation from the tragedy of addiction."

Said Connolly: "Our findings call into serious question whether the tobacco industry has changed at all in its pursuit of addicting smokers since signing the Master Settlement Agreement of 1998 with the State Attorneys General. Our analysis shows that the companies have been subtly increasing the drug nicotine year by year in their cigarettes, without any warning to consumers, since the settlement. Scrutiny by the Attorneys General is imperative. Proposed federal legislation has been filed by Senator Edward Kennedy (D-Ma.) that would address this abuse and bring the tobacco industry under the rules that regulate other manufacturers of drugs."

Beginning in 1997, Massachusetts regulations have required an annual report to be filed with the MDPH by all manufacturers of cigarettes sold in Massachusetts. The reported data include machine-based measures of nicotine yield as well as measures of cigarette design related to nicotine delivery.

The Tobacco Research Program at HSPH obtained from the MDPH a complete set of brand-specific data from 1997 to 2005 and analyzed trends in smoke nicotine yield.

The discovery of an 11 percent increase in nicotine content, said Connolly, confirms recent statements by the US District Court for the District of Columbia that manufacturers have the ability to manipulate addictive additives, and, he said, "it underscores the need for continued surveillance of nicotine delivery in products created by an unregulated industry."

In an opinion in US vs. Philip Morris USA et. al. Judge Gladys Kessler wrote that tobacco companies "can and do control the level of nicotine delivered in order to create and sustain addiction" and further, that the "goal to ensure that their products deliver sufficient nicotine to create and sustain addiction influences their selection and combination of design parameters."

Cigarette smoking causes an estimated 438,000 premature deaths (or about 1 of every 5 deaths) annually in the U.S., and approximately 900,000 persons become addicted to smoking each year.

In conclusion, according to the HSPH researchers, the extended analysis of MDPH data has demonstrated its potential to reveal undisclosed hazards to human health. They suggest that MDPH amend its unique reporting requirements to include more information about cigarette and smokeless tobacco product design features that affect nicotine delivery - as well as testing of a sample of brands for the actual delivery of nicotine to the body.

Work on the report was supported by funds from The American Legacy Foundation and the National Cancer Institute.

For more information contact: Robin Herman (617) 432-4752

Tomado de Clark County Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Coalition. Usted puede hallar el reporte original de la Harvard School of Public Health en esta liga:

martes, 30 de octubre de 2007

70% de los capitalinos: “la ley de protección a no fumadores sólo es otro pretexto para la corrupción”

[Milenio Diario, 15 de octubre de 2007, p. 33.]

Antes que todo quiero aclarar que el 78% de los que participaron en esta encuesta no fuman (aprovecho para confesar que yo estoy con el otro 22%), y por lo tanto las opiniones que recogimos pertenecen en una inmensa mayoría a los que supuestamente pretende proteger la nueva ley de salud promulgada por la Asamblea del DF.

Aclarado lo anterior subrayo:

1. Que los no fumadores —y también los que no fumamos— están mucho más preocupados por los daños que les pueden causar las personas que consumen bebidas alcohólicas en lugares públicos que los que les podamos causar los fumadores que nos atrevemos a fumar a su lado.

2. Que la inmensa mayoría entiende que cumplir cabalmente con esta ley es prácticamente imposible, por lo que su promulgación sólo sirve para que los inspectores tengan otro pretexto para llenarse los bolsillos de mordidas.

3. Que existen muchos asuntos de mayor prioridad para los capitalinos, asuntos sobre los que la Asamblea debería estar legislando antes de meterse a promulgar leyes que nadie les está demandando y que además no se pueden llevar a la práctica.

Vivimos en un país en el que sólo el 2% de los delitos que se cometen acaban siendo sancionados, y eso considerando sólo los delitos que se denuncian; donde cada vez son más los asuntos políticos, ideológicos, económicos y de clase que nos enfrentan unos con otros; donde el consumo de drogas y el abuso con las bebidas alcohólicas están cada vez más presentes entre los jóvenes, entre quienes aumenta también el número de suicidios y las enfermedades obsesivas por no comer o vomitar lo que se ha comido.

¿De verdad los señores legisladores piensan que resulta de la mayor prioridad en medio de este escenario social legislar para que se levanten muros entre los que fumamos y los que no lo hacen, o sólo se entretienen haciendo leyes inútiles para distraer la atención de los ciudadanos, suponiendo que así nos daremos cuenta de su absoluta incapacidad para hacer cumplir las leyes vigentes, o para crear un marco legislativo que medianamente solvente los problemas que son realmente importantes? Es pregunta.


ampliar imagen

Nota metodológica Encuesta telefónica realizada el 13 de OCTUBRE, considerando 500 entrevistas a personas mayores de 15 años seleccionadas mediante un muestreo aleatorio simple sobre el listado de teléfonos del Distrito Federal. Con el 95% de confianza, el error estadístico máximo que se tiene es de +/- 4.5%

María de las Heras

jueves, 25 de octubre de 2007

Roberto Madrazo: reflexión serena sobre un linchamiento deportivo

Dos de las tres medallas que recibí por correr, completo, el Maratón de la Ciudad de México

No soy priísta, ni mucho menos madracista, pero sí soy corredor y maratonista, y cuando leí el cúmulo de artículos y comentarios sobre la participación de Roberto Madrazo en el maratón de Berlín, celebrado el sábado 29 de septiembre de este año, me indigné y —peor— me puse triste, porque no se trata de una justa política ni de un debate ideológico sino de algo mucho más personal, íntimo: el reto que un deportista establece para sí mismo.

Un maratón es una prueba en extremo difícil para cualquier corredor, incluso para los profesionales. Yo sólo he corrido en cinco y he completado cuatro. Uno de ellos fue el maratón a campo traviesa de la Ciudad de México a Cuernavaca —el maratón “Rover”—, con un recorrido aún más largo que el tradicional de 42.195 kilómetros. Mis tiempos no han sido nada espectaculares pero tampoco vergonzosos, y los de Roberto Madrazo —un año mayor que yo— son mejores que los míos, entre 10 y 25 minutos (nada despreciables), ¡y él ha participado en 36! Este solo dato infunde respeto.

Aunque siempre consideré a Madrazo como un adversario en términos políticos, alguien que representa lo que menos me gusta de la vida pública en México, como corredor lo sentía como compañero, igual que Ernesto Zedillo y hasta Carlos Salinas, que también son —o eran— corredores. El deporte, pues, nos hermana a todos porque enfrentamos, de manera igual, los mismos desafíos sobre el mismo terreno y con el mismo equipo: el que Dios tuvo a bien entregarnos, y el que nosotros debemos cuidar.

Por eso me puse triste al leer los comentarios sobre la trampa que hizo el político tabasqueño para, supuestamente, ser el primero en su categoría de master. “¡Qué falta hacía! —me dije, incrédulo—. ¿A quién quería engañar?”. Y, por supuesto, después uno ataba cabos y extrapolaba su trampa deportiva a la vida política —o viceversa— y todo tenía sentido.

Después leí la insersción que pagó Roberto Madrazo en el periódico Milenio (y quizás en otros), para explicar su comportamiento. Pienso, ahora, que tal vez habría que darle el beneficio de la duda. Explicaré por qué.

Yo no estaba allí ni hablé con Madrazo antes de la competencia, pero éste afirma que nunca pretendió correr los 42.195 kilómetros porque llegó “lastimado”. Uno, con la cabeza fría, puede preguntarse por qué correría si estaba lastimado, pero a veces pasa: uno se encuentra tan mentalizado para la competencia, que no correr representaría un fracaso, mientras que correr más despacio, o menos distancia, sería una manera de participar en un plano más modesto, como si fuera un entrenamiento relajado, sin perderse el ambiente de camaradería festiva. Lo entiendo y acepto porque también lo he hecho: a veces correr leve es mejor que no correr cuando se anda un poco traqueteado. Según él, la recomendación médica anterior había sido “descanso”, pero no pudo reprimirse, fue a Berlín, corrió… y llegó hasta el kilómetro 21, donde no pudo más. Clásico…

El tabasqueño también afirma que tras aventar la toalla (resultado que había anticipado), se encaminó “directo a la Meta [sic] por mi ropa y mi medalla de participación, misma que se entrega a todos los corredores sin excepción”. Esto puede ser cierto, o no…, según aclararé más adelante. En el único maratón que no terminé, el cual corrí al lado de Vicente Quirarte —el primero para ambos— nos dimos por vencidos en el kilómetro 33: yo me estrellé contra el muro. Creo que Vicente podría haber llegado más lejos, o incluso podría haber terminado con un buen tiempo, pero se solidarizó conmigo, ambos cubrimos los pocos metros que nos separaban del McDonalds que está sobre el Periférico en Polanco (se trata del Maratón Obrero, patrocinado por el CTM, no el de la Ciudad de México) y ahí nos tomamos unas coca-colas bien frías que nos supieron a gloria, para abusar de un lugar común que bien merecíamos en ese momento.

En esa ocasión jamás se me ocurrió llegar por “mi medalla”, precisamente porque no habría sido mía. Cuando uno recoge la medalla, no es porque ganó sino porque terminó. Y yo no la terminé. Y hasta donde yo sé, si uno no termina el maratón de la Ciudad de México, tampoco recoge medalla, pero puedo estar equivocado. Aquí reproduciré lo que la página oficial del Maratón de Berlín ( expone acerca del otorgamiento de medallas: “Awards / All participants will receive a medal at the finish line (until the finish is closed)”. Traduccion: “Premios / Todos los participantes recibirán una medalla en la meta (hasta que la meta se haya cerrado)”.

El lenguaje es ambiguo. ¿Todos los participantes recibirían una medalla en la meta, aunque no llegaron a ella corriendo (o caminando en todo caso) tras haber seguido respetuosamente toda la ruta de 42.195 kilómetros? ¿Basta con solo estar inscrito y haber corrido unos cuantos metros, o 21 kilómetros (el caso de Madrazo), para posteriormente llegar a la meta antes que ésta se haya cerrado?

Si esto último es cierto, que se otorgan medallas por “participar”, sean cuales fueran los kilómetros cubiertos, Roberto Madrazo está en su derecho de sentirse linchado por la prensa. ¿Qué pienso? Habría que darle el beneficio de la duda mientras no tengamos claro este último dato. Un corredor tan dedicado como él difícilmente cometería una trapaza de ese tamaño y con ese grado de futilidad: no había nada que ganar y —como la reacción lo ha demostrado— todo que perder.

martes, 23 de octubre de 2007

¡Celebrando las primeras 10 mil visitas!

México, DF. 29 de septiembre de 2007--. ¿Quién dice que los mexicanos no leemos? La Caja Resonante ha tenido más de 10 mil lectores a partir del 5 de mayo de este año, lo cual indica el interés que sí existe por la lectura, y no sólo en México. El problema está en cómo el sistema de mercado ha convertido el libro en una mercancía más, objetos sin personalidad, sin alma y --válgame Dios-- sin importancia real para los lectores potenciales, aquellos que sólo comprarían un libro porque las modas de consumo los manipulan en ese sentido. (Piénsese en The DaVinci Code, et al).

También entiendo que el éxito de esta página se debe a que la gente está trascendiendo las fronteras tradicionales del libro como símbolo y vehículo principal de transmisión de conocimiento. La blogósfera está llena de posibilidades de lectura, de calidades muy diversas. Esto debe celebrarse, pero depende de nosotros hacer que la voz corra para que todos podamos hallar lo que realmente vale la pena, lo que nos lleve más allá del mero entretenimiento y que estimule el pensamiento, el análisis, la crítica y --en términos generales-- el crecimiento personal. Y también (¡como que no!) vale el entretenimiento... Pero que las megacorporaciones no quieran darnos gato por liebre: la literatura, y el arte en general, no es circo ni enchílame otra.

Los libros se transforman, el internet se transforma y nosotros también. Pero lo que no cambia --o no debe cambiar-- es el rigor con el cual pensamos. Que nuestras herramientas realmente sean útiles y no meros mecanismos de control o apaciguamiento, los "chupones" que La Autoridad mete en las bocas de ciudadanos potencialmente "disruptivos" (esta palabra sí está en el DRAE, para mi sorpresa, pero con aplicación científica). Éste ha sido el papel de la televisión en la mayor parte del mundo.

Nosotros, quienes navegamos diariamente por el ciberespacio, debemos defenderlo de los embates de las megacorporaciones trasnacionales que planean constantemente cómo apoderarse de este espacio público sin afán de lucro sino de compartir el conocimiento y reflexionar sobre la realidad, la irrealidad, el deseo y aquello que no deseamos.

¡Enhorabuena! Y que siga la mata dando...

jueves, 11 de octubre de 2007

The Rio Grande Rises

October 1, 2007, The New York Times

The Rio Grande Rises

As usual, there was much commentary in the news media about poverty's intractability: today's poverty rate is hardly lower than it was in 1968, when it was about 12.8 percent.

But a closer look at the experience of one group, Hispanics, tells a very different story. As a group, Hispanics are enjoying substantial economic progress. Their poverty rate has dropped by a third from its high 12 years ago, falling from 30.7 percent in 1994 to 20.6 percent in 2006.

These numbers come from the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey, widely used by pro- and anti-immigration groups alike as a reasonably reliable source of information about illegal as well as legal immigrants. They show that although Hispanics still have a long way to go to achieve the full promise of the American Dream, as a group they are clearly on the economic up escalator.

In the past 30 years, the United States has experienced a tremendous amount of immigration, predominantly Hispanic. In 1975, a little more than 11 million Hispanics made up just over 5 percent of the population. Today's nearly 45 million Hispanics are now about 15 percent of the country.

This influx of Hispanics has resulted in a higher poverty rate in the United States, mainly because many immigrants are low-skilled workers and women with young children. If the proportion of Hispanics in the population in 2006 had been the same as it was in 1975, then the overall American poverty rate in 2006 would have been 7 percent lower (11.4 percent rather than 12.3 percent). That would be 2.4 million fewer people, all Hispanics, in poverty.

This rough calculation leaves out the indirect impact that Hispanics have had on the job prospects and earnings of other low-skilled workers, especially African-Americans, probably keeping more of them in poverty. Economists argue about the size of this effect, but we see evidence of it all around us.

Consider the Hispanic success in obtaining skilled, blue-collar jobs, as measured by the census category for precision production, craft and repair occupations. From 1994 to 2006, as the total number of these jobs grew, the percentage held by whites fell from 79 percent to 65 percent. The percentage held by blacks remained constant at about 8 percent, and the percentage held by Hispanics more than doubled, rising to 25 percent from 11 percent. As whites left these relatively well-paid jobs, Hispanics rather than blacks moved into them.

Between 1994, the high point for Hispanic poverty, and 2006, the last year with comprehensive data, median Hispanic household income rose 20 percent, from about $31,500 a year in 2006 dollars to about $37,800 a year. The median income of Hispanic individuals rose 32 percent, to about $20,500 from about $15,500.

These incomes do not make Hispanics wealthy, of course, but they did allow about 70 percent of them to send remittances home last year. According to the best estimate, the total sent was $45 billion -- $4 billion more than the entire amount distributed to Americans by the Earned Income Tax Credit.

One explanation for this economic progress is increased education. From 1994 to 2005, the percentage of 18- to 24-year-old Hispanics who graduated from high school or obtained a general equivalency diploma rose to about 66 percent from about 56 percent. About 25 percent are now enrolled in college, up from about 19 percent in 1994. Hispanics are moving rapidly into many management, professional and other white-collar occupations.

Because of the large and continuing influx of usually low-skilled Hispanic immigrants, economists have expected the poverty rate among Hispanics to rise or at least to remain flat. Instead, it is falling. However one feels about immigration, the falling Hispanic poverty rate testifies to the ability of Hispanic immigrants to take advantage of the opportunities that they have found in this country.

Towns Rethink Laws Against Illegal Immigrants

September 26, 2007, The New York Times

Towns Rethink Laws Against Illegal Immigrants

Este artículo se refiere a la entrada "Los Estados Unidos del Absurdo", y allí se encuentra la fuente completa.

A little more than a year ago, the Township Committee in this faded factory town became the first municipality in New Jersey to enact legislation penalizing anyone who employed or rented to an illegal immigrant.

Within months, hundreds, if not thousands, of recent immigrants from Brazil and other Latin American countries had fled. The noise, crowding and traffic that had accompanied their arrival over the past decade abated.

The law had worked. Perhaps, some said, too well.

With the departure of so many people, the local economy suffered. Hair salons, restaurants and corner shops that catered to the immigrants saw business plummet; several closed. Once-boarded-up storefronts downtown were boarded up again.

Meanwhile, the town was hit with two lawsuits challenging the law. Legal bills began to pile up, straining the town's already tight budget. Suddenly, many people -- including some who originally favored the law -- started having second thoughts.

So last week, the town rescinded the ordinance, joining a small but growing list of municipalities nationwide that have begun rethinking such laws as their legal and economic consequences have become clearer.

''I don't think people knew there would be such an economic burden,'' said Mayor George Conard, who voted for the original ordinance. ''A lot of people did not look three years out.''

In the past two years, more than 30 towns nationwide have enacted laws intended to address problems attributed to illegal immigration, from overcrowded housing and schools to overextended police forces. Most of those laws, like Riverside's, called for fines and even jail sentences for people who knowingly rented apartments to illegal immigrants or who gave them jobs.

In some places, business owners have objected to crackdowns that have driven away immigrant customers. And in many, ordinances have come under legal assault by immigration groups and the American Civil Liberties Union.

In June, a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction against a housing ordinance in Farmers Branch, Tex., that would have imposed fines against landlords who rented to illegal immigrants. In July, the city of Valley Park, Mo., repealed a similar ordinance, after an earlier version was struck down by a state judge and a revision brought new challenges. A week later, a federal judge struck down ordinances in Hazleton, Pa., the first town to enact laws barring illegal immigrants from working or renting homes there.

Muzaffar A. Chishti, director of the New York office of the Migration Policy Institute, a nonprofit group, said Riverside's decision to repeal its law -- which was never enforced -- was clearly influenced by the Hazleton ruling, and he predicted that other towns would follow suit.

''People in many towns are now weighing the social, economic and legal costs of pursuing these ordinances,'' he said.

Indeed, Riverside, a town of 8,000 nestled across the Delaware River from Philadelphia, has already spent $82,000 defending its ordinance, and it risked having to pay the plaintiffs' legal fees if it lost in court. The legal battle forced the town to delay road paving projects, the purchase of a dump truck and repairs to town hall, officials said. But while Riverside's about-face may repair its budget, it may take years to mend the emotional scars that formed when the ordinance ''put us on the national map in a bad way,'' Mr. Conard said.

Rival advocacy groups in the immigration debate turned this otherwise sleepy town into a litmus test for their causes. As the television cameras rolled, Riverside was branded, in turns, a racist enclave and a town fighting for American values.

Some residents who backed the ban last year were reluctant to discuss their stance now, though they uniformly blamed outsiders for misrepresenting their motives. By and large, they said the ordinance was a success because it drove out illegal immigrants, even if it hurt the town's economy.

''It changed the face of Riverside a little bit,'' said Charles Hilton, the former mayor who pushed for the ordinance. (He was voted out of office last fall but said it was not because he had supported the law.)

''The business district is fairly vacant now, but it's not the legitimate businesses that are gone,'' he said. ''It's all the ones that were supporting the illegal immigrants, or, as I like to call them, the criminal aliens.''

Many businesses that remain are having a hard time. Angelina Guedes, a Brazilian-born beautician, opened A Touch From Brazil, a hair and nail salon, on Scott Street two years ago to cater to the immigrant population. At one point, she had 10 workers.

Business quickly dried up after the law against illegal immigrants. Last week, on what would usually be a busy Thursday afternoon, Ms. Guedes ate a salad and gave a friend a manicure, while the five black stylist chairs sat empty.

''Now I only have myself,'' said Ms. Guedes, 41, speaking a mixture of Spanish and Portuguese. ''They all left. I also want to leave but it's not possible because no one wants to buy my business.''

Numerous storefronts on Scott Street are boarded up or are empty, with For Sale by Owner signs in the windows. Business is down by half at Luis Ordonez's River Dance Music Store, which sells Western Union wire transfers, cellphones and perfume. Next door, his restaurant, the Scott Street Family Cafe, which has a multiethnic menu in English, Spanish and Portuguese, was empty at lunchtime.

''I came here looking for an opportunity to open a business and I found it, and the people also needed the service,'' said Mr. Ordonez, who is from Ecuador. ''It was crowded and everybody was trying to do their best to support their families.''

Some have adapted better than others. Bruce Behmke opened the R & B Laundromat in 2003 after he saw immigrants hauling trash bags full of clothing to a laundry a mile away. Sales took off at his small shop, where want ads in Portuguese are pinned to a corkboard and copies of the Brazilian Voice sit near the door.

When sales plummeted last year, Mr. Behmke started a wash-and-fold delivery service for young professionals.

''It became a ghost town here,'' he said.

Immigration is not new to Riverside. Once a summer resort for Philadelphians, the town became a magnet a century ago for European immigrants drawn to its factories, including the Philadelphia Watch Case Company, whose empty hulk still looms over town. Until the 1930s, the minutes of the school board meetings were recorded in German and English.

''There's always got to be some scapegoats,'' said Regina Collinsgru, who runs The Positive Press, a local newspaper, and whose husband was among a wave of Portuguese immigrants who came here in the 1960s. ''The Germans were first, there were problems when the Italians came, then the Polish came. That's the nature of a lot of small towns.''

Immigrants from Latin America began arriving around 2000. The majority were Brazilians attracted not only by construction jobs in the booming housing market but also by the presence of Portuguese-speaking businesses in town. Between 2000 and 2006, local business owners and officials estimate, more than 3,000 immigrants arrived. There are no authoritative figures about the number of immigrants who were -- or were not -- in the country legally.

Like those waves of earlier immigrants, the Brazilians and Latinos triggered conflicting reactions. Some shopkeepers loved the extra dollars spent on Scott and Pavilion Streets, the modest thoroughfares that anchor downtown. Yet some residents steered clear of stores where Portuguese and Spanish were plainly the language of choice. A few contractors benefited from the new pool of cheap labor. Others begrudged being undercut by rivals who hired undocumented workers.

On the town's leafy side streets, some residents admired the pluck of newcomers who often worked six days a week, and a few even took up Capoeira, the Brazilian martial art. Yet many neighbors loathed the white vans with out-of-state plates and ladders on top parked in spots they had long considered their own. The Brazilian flags that flew at several houses rankled more than a few longtime residents.

It is unclear whether the Brazilian and Latino immigrants who left will now return to Riverside. With the housing market slowing, there may be little reason to come back. But if they do, some residents say they may spark new tensions.

Mr. Hilton, the former mayor, said some of the illegal immigrants have already begun filtering back into town. ''It's not the Wild West like it was,'' he said, ''but it may return to that.''

domingo, 30 de septiembre de 2007

Curbside, We’ll Never Have Paris

New York Times, Week In Review, domingo, 30 de septiembre de 2007, pp. 1, 4.


September 30, 2007


AMONG the many reasons to suspect that Europeans are more gifted than Americans at enjoying urban life is this: they eat outdoors because it’s pretty. We eat outdoors even though it’s not.

By we I mean New Yorkers, and I specifically mean the New Yorkers who, from the first rumor of spring to the dying gasps of an Indian summer, insist on restaurants with sidewalk cafes, apparently believing that nothing sauces roasted chicken like the exhaust from an M104 bus and there’s no music more relaxing than the eek-eek-eek of a delivery truck in reverse.

On the narrow and sometimes cobbled byways of Paris, Rome or Barcelona, a sidewalk cafe most likely has a view, a mood, a purpose beyond fresh air. (To be fair, it isn’t so fresh there, either.)

On Broadway, Columbus or Lexington, a sidewalk cafe has traffic — pedestrian and vehicular — so dense and close that a diner has to learn not to flinch. Wine helps. For me just three and a half glasses do the trick.

Of course I’m generalizing, and perhaps I’m exaggerating, but I’m nonetheless wondering: are the ranks of New Yorkers who like these seating arrangements really so large?

On the evidence of last week’s news, they are. And they’re growing.

And they’re a neat window into the peculiar character of this city’s denizens, although some open-air epicures are really just looking for a place to smoke. Thanks to Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, they get a double dose of carbon monoxide — some from Marlboro, some from Mercedes — for the price of one entree of braised short ribs. The man knows how to cull the herd.

What happened last week was an announcement by city officials that restaurants with sidewalk cafes could henceforth install portable natural-gas heaters and thus extend the weeks or months when a diner might comfortably — in terms of temperature, that is — lunch or sup outside.

And part of what fueled that decision, apparently, is the increased popularity of sidewalk cafes in New York, the number of which has grown by 25 percent over the last four years, according to city officials. There are now 900 of them.

Some are really lovely.

I bet 875 aren’t.

I should be clear: I’m talking about cafes that are actually on sidewalks — that jut into public space — because exposed areas or patios that are set back from the sidewalk, and exist within the bounds of a restaurant, aren’t part of the aforementioned count. They’ve been using portable heaters for a while.

And I’m not talking about back gardens. Who doesn’t love a back garden? It’s often quieter than the rest of the restaurant — trees and clouds are effective mufflers — and sometimes it’s even surrounded by vine-covered brick walls or a painted wood fence.

What surrounds many a sidewalk cafe are waist-high metal dividers that recall crowd-control barricades as much as anything else. The tables are a pinkie’s width apart. I look at the diners gorging themselves in these pens and wonder if they’re actors rehearsing to play veal in the movie version of “The Omnivore’s Dilemma.”

They’re on awkward display, not so much people watching as people watched, letting all the world see whether they chew with closed mouths and what kind of crumb management they’ve mastered. It has to be nerve-racking.

So why go through it?

Theory 1: It lets them pretend they’re in Europe. While many Americans outside New York get excited about “freedom fries” and dismiss Europeans as too-thin scolds with too-small cars, New Yorkers envy their fuel efficiency, their monuments, their cheese, their eyewear.

And their cafes. Never mind that eating outside in Rome means a Bernini statue and a Baroque church while eating outside in uptown Manhattan means an unobstructed panorama of Bed, Bath & Beyond. New Yorkers are fantastic at make-believe, which leads me to ...

Theory 2: New Yorkers have a highly evolved, unrivaled knack for glossing over the limitations, absurdities and dubious habitability of an unforgiving metropolis.

They walk into a friend’s 545-square-foot two-bedroom (one bath, no tub) and stammer: “Just $4,965 a month for this?” They walk into the Spotted Pig at 5:55 p.m. on a Tuesday night and exult: “Only a 90-minute wait?”

And they sit in a sidewalk cafe — sirens blaring, vagrants swearing and jackhammers jittering all around them — and sigh: “It’s so relaxing to soak up the street life.”

Theory 3: If something is in limited supply, New Yorkers want it, period.

Most restaurants don’t have sidewalk cafes. If they do, there are fewer seats outdoors than indoors. So these seats take on an exclusive aura, and once all of them are occupied, they become more exclusive still. In New York, the only thing better than something there’s not enough of is something there’s absolutely none of.

At the restaurant L’Impero on a recent night, most of the precious few tables in front of the entrance were taken. Most of the dozens of tables inside weren’t. When I turned down the hostess’s offer of one of the remaining perches outside, she just about went pale with shock. I explained that while I was fond of fresh air, what I was really gaga about was air-conditioning.

On the Upper West Side, when scaffolding went up around the sidewalk cafe in front of the Ocean Grill this year, the restaurant’s owner, Stephen Hanson, wasn’t about to let the lure and luster of those seats be dimmed. He had chandeliers and potted plants hung from the top of the scaffolding and leafy vines wrapped around the poles.

Mr. Hanson operates a dozen restaurants in Manhattan. Seven have outdoor seating; four have actual sidewalk cafes. He was a big proponent of the new portable-heater rule. He said he thought it could extend sidewalk season from the first day of April to the last day of October.

I think it could be the death of sidewalk cafes.

If they’re around for only four or five months every year, they’re exceptions, digressions, reminders of warm weather that won’t last. As Mr. Hanson said when I asked him for his own theories about why New Yorkers embrace these enclosures: “It’s the seasonality of it. It’s something you can’t have all the time.”

But if sidewalk cafes start to operate for six or seven months, they’re standard, and eating in one isn’t a celebration of summer. It’s a celebration of man’s talent for climate control, even on the pavement in front of Circuit City.

New Yorkers, of course, might find some other, rosier way to see it. I’d ponder the possibilities, but I’m late for a picnic someone’s having in the Holland Tunnel.

viernes, 14 de septiembre de 2007

Uso del masculino en referencia a seres de ambos sexos

2.1. En los sustantivos que designan seres animados, el masculino gramatical no solo se emplea para referirse a los individuos de sexo masculino, sino también para designar la clase, esto es, a todos los individuos de la especie, sin distinción de sexos: El hombre es el único animal racional; El gato es un buen animal de compañía. Consecuentemente, los nombres apelativos masculinos, cuando se emplean en plural, pueden incluir en su designación a seres de uno y otro sexo: Los hombres prehistóricos se vestían con pieles de animales; En mi barrio hay muchos gatos (de la referencia no quedan excluidas ni las mujeres prehistóricas ni las gatas). Así, con la expresión los alumnos podemos referirnos a un colectivo formado exclusivamente por alumnos varones, pero también a un colectivo mixto, formado por chicos y chicas. A pesar de ello, en los últimos tiempos, por razones de corrección política, que no de corrección lingüística, se está extendiendo la costumbre de hacer explícita en estos casos la alusión a ambos sexos: «Decidió luchar ella, y ayudar a sus compañeros y compañeras» (Excélsior [Méx.] 5.9.96). Se olvida que en la lengua está prevista la posibilidad de referirse a colectivos mixtos a través del género gramatical masculino, posibilidad en la que no debe verse intención discriminatoria alguna, sino la aplicación de la ley lingüística de la economía expresiva; así pues, en el ejemplo citado pudo —y debió— decirse, simplemente, ayudar a sus compañeros. Solo cuando la oposición de sexos es un factor relevante en el contexto, es necesaria la presencia explícita de ambos géneros: La proporción de alumnos y alumnas en las aulas se ha ido invirtiendo progresivamente; En las actividades deportivas deberán participar por igual alumnos y alumnas. Por otra parte, el afán por evitar esa supuesta discriminación lingüística, unido al deseo de mitigar la pesadez en la expresión provocada por tales repeticiones, ha suscitado la creación de soluciones artificiosas que contravienen las normas de la gramática: Marca de incorrección.las y los ciudadanos.

2.2. Para evitar las engorrosas repeticiones a que da lugar la reciente e innecesaria costumbre de hacer siempre explícita la alusión a los dos sexos (los niños y las niñas, los ciudadanos y ciudadanas, etc.; 2.1), ha comenzado a usarse en carteles y circulares el símbolo de la arroba (@) como recurso gráfico para integrar en una sola palabra las formas masculina y femenina del sustantivo, ya que este signo parece incluir en su trazo las vocales a y o: Marca de incorrección.l@s niñ@s. Debe tenerse en cuenta que la arroba no es un signo lingüístico y, por ello, su uso en estos casos es inadmisible desde el punto de vista normativo; a esto se añade la imposibilidad de aplicar esta fórmula integradora en muchos casos sin dar lugar a graves inconsistencias, como ocurre en Marca de incorrección.Día del niñ@, donde la contracción del solo es válida para el masculino niño.

3. formación del femenino en profesiones, cargos, títulos o actividades humanas. Aunque en el modo de marcar el género femenino en los sustantivos que designan profesiones, cargos, títulos o actividades influyen tanto cuestiones puramente formales —la etimología, la terminación del masculino, etc.— como condicionamientos de tipo histórico y sociocultural, en especial el hecho de que se trate o no de profesiones o cargos desempeñados tradicionalmente por mujeres, se pueden establecer las siguientes normas, atendiendo únicamente a criterios morfológicos:

a) Aquellos cuya forma masculina acaba en -o forman normalmente el femenino sustituyendo esta vocal por una -a: bombero/bombera, médico/médica, ministro/ministra, ginecólogo/ginecóloga. Hay excepciones, como piloto, modelo o testigo, que funcionan como comunes: el/la piloto, el/la modelo, el/la testigo (no debe considerarse una excepción el sustantivo reo, cuyo femenino etimológico y aún vigente en el uso es rea, aunque funcione asimismo como común: la reo). También funcionan normalmente como comunes los que proceden de acortamientos: el/la fisio, el/la otorrino. En algún caso, el femenino presenta la terminación culta -isa (del lat. -issa), por provenir directamente del femenino latino formado con este sufijo: diácono/diaconisa; y excepcionalmente hay voces que tienen dos femeninos, uno en -a y otro con la terminación -esa (variante castellana de -isa): diablo, fem. diabla o diablesa; vampiro, fem. vampira o vampiresa.

b) Los que acaban en -a funcionan en su inmensa mayoría como comunes: el/la atleta, el/la cineasta, el/la guía, el/la logopeda, el/la terapeuta, el/la pediatra. En algunos casos, por razones etimológicas, el femenino presenta la terminación culta -isa: profetisa, papisa. En el caso de poeta, existen ambas posibilidades: la poeta/poetisa. También tiene dos femeninos la voz guarda, aunque con matices significativos diversos ( guarda): la guarda/guardesa. Son asimismo comunes en cuanto al género los sustantivos formados con el sufijo -ista: el/la ascensorista, el/la electricista, el/la taxista. Es excepcional el caso de modista, que a partir del masculino normal el modista ha generado el masculino regresivo modisto.

c) Los que acaban en -e tienden a funcionar como comunes, en consonancia con los adjetivos con esta misma terminación, que suelen tener una única forma (afable, alegre, pobre, inmune, etc.): el/la amanuense, el/la cicerone, el/la conserje, el/la orfebre, el/la pinche. Algunos tienen formas femeninas específicas a través de los sufijos -esa, -isa o -ina: alcalde/alcaldesa, conde/condesa, duque/duquesa, héroe/heroína, sacerdote/sacerdotisa (aunque sacerdote también se usa como común: la sacerdote). En unos pocos casos se han generado femeninos en -a, como en jefe/jefa, sastre/sastra, cacique/cacica.

Dentro de este grupo están también los sustantivos terminados en -ante o -ente, procedentes en gran parte de participios de presente latinos, y que funcionan en su gran mayoría como comunes, en consonancia con la forma única de los adjetivos con estas mismas terminaciones (complaciente, inteligente, pedante, etc.): el/la agente, el/la conferenciante, el/la dibujante, el/la estudiante. No obstante, en algunos casos se han generalizado en el uso femeninos en -a, como clienta, dependienta o presidenta. A veces se usan ambas formas, con matices significativos diversos: la gobernante (‘mujer que dirige un país’) o la gobernanta (en una casa, un hotel o una institución, ‘mujer que tiene a su cargo el personal de servicio’).

d) Los pocos que terminan en -i o en -u funcionan también como comunes: el/la maniquí, el/la saltimbanqui, el/la gurú.

e) En cuanto a los terminados en -y, el femenino de rey es reina, mientras que los que toman modernamente esta terminación funcionan como comunes: el/la yóquey.

f) Los que acaban en -or forman el femenino añadiendo una -a: compositor/compositora, escritor/escritora, profesor/profesora, gobernador/gobernadora. En algunos casos, el femenino presenta la terminación culta -triz (del lat. -trix, -tricis), por provenir directamente de femeninos latinos formados con este sufijo: actor/actriz, emperador/emperatriz.

g) Los que acaban en -ar o -er, así como los pocos que acaban en -ir o -ur, funcionan hoy normalmente como comunes, aunque en algunos casos existen también femeninos en -esa o en -a: el/la auxiliar, el/la militar, el/la escolar (pero el juglar/la juglaresa), el/la líder (raro lideresa), el/la chofer o el/la chófer (raro choferesa), el/la ujier, el/la sumiller, el/la bachiller (raro hoy bachillera), el/la mercader (raro hoy mercadera), el/la faquir, el/la augur.

h) Los agudos acabados en -n y en -s forman normalmente el femenino añadiendo una -a: guardián/guardiana, bailarín/bailarina, anfitrión/anfitriona, guardés/guardesa, marqués/marquesa, dios/ diosa. Se exceptúan barón e histrión, cuyos femeninos se forman a través de los sufijos -esa e -isa, respectivamente: baronesa, histrionisa. También se apartan de esta regla la palabra rehén, que funciona como epiceno masculino (el rehén) o como común (el/la rehén), y la voz edecán, que es común en cuanto al género (el/la edecán; edecán). Por su parte, las palabras llanas con esta terminación funcionan como comunes: el/la barman.

i) Los que acaban en -l o -z tienden a funcionar como comunes: el/la cónsul, el/la corresponsal, el/la timonel, el/la capataz, el/la juez, el/la portavoz, en consonancia con los adjetivos terminados en estas mismas consonantes, que tienen, salvo poquísimas excepciones, una única forma, válida tanto para el masculino como para el femenino: dócil, brutal, soez, feliz (no existen las formas femeninas *dócila, *brutala, *soeza, *feliza). No obstante, algunos de estos sustantivos han desarrollado con cierto éxito un femenino en -a, como es el caso de juez/jueza, aprendiz/aprendiza, concejal/concejala o bedel/bedela.

j) Los terminados en consonantes distintas de las señaladas en los párrafos anteriores funcionan como comunes: el/la chef, el/la médium, el/la pívot. Se exceptúa la voz abad, cuyo femenino es abadesa. Es especial el caso de huésped, pues aunque hoy se prefiere su uso como común (el/la huésped), su femenino tradicional es huéspeda.

k) Independientemente de su terminación, funcionan como comunes los nombres que designan grados de la escala militar: el/la cabo, el/la brigada, el/la teniente, el/la brigadier, el/la capitán, el/la coronel, el/la alférez; los sustantivos que designan por el instrumento al músico que lo toca: el/la batería, el/la corneta, el/la contrabajo; y los sustantivos compuestos que designan persona: el/la mandamás, el/la sobrecargo, un/una cazatalentos, un/una sabelotodo, un/una correveidile.

l) Cuando el nombre de una profesión o cargo está formado por un sustantivo y un adjetivo, ambos elementos deben ir en masculino o femenino dependiendo del sexo del referente; por tanto, debe decirse la primera ministra, una intérprete jurada, una detective privada, etc., y no Marca de incorrecció primera ministro, Marca de incorrección.una intérprete jurado, Marca de incorrección.una detective privado, etc.: «Me llamo Patricia Delamo y soy detective privada» (Beccaria Luna [Esp. 2001]).

Fuente: Diccionario panhispánico de dudas. Santillana y Real Academia española.

miércoles, 12 de septiembre de 2007

Proyecto nuevo: música

Aquí, muy pronto, aparecerán materiales que tienen que ver con música: archivos midi, partituras en PDF, mezclas, comentarios...

lunes, 10 de septiembre de 2007

De cómo los mexicanos conquistaron Nueva York

De cómo los mexicanos conquistaron Nueva York
Editorial Colibrí-Secretaría de Cultura del Estado de Puebla
Autor: Cohen, Sandro y Josefina Estrada
Colección: Cantera Rosa

jueves, 6 de septiembre de 2007

Short on Labor, Farmers in U.S. Shift to Mexico

Workers harvest broccoli in central Mexico for Valley Harvesting and Packing, which moved some operations from California. Fotografía de Janet Jarman, para el New York Times

September 5, 2007


CELAYA, Mexico — Steve Scaroni, a farmer from California, looked across a luxuriant field of lettuce here in central Mexico and liked what he saw: full-strength crews of Mexican farm workers with no immigration problems.

Farming since he was a teenager, Mr. Scaroni, 50, built a $50 million business growing lettuce and broccoli in the fields of California, relying on the hands of immigrant workers, most of them Mexican and many probably in the United States illegally.

But early last year he began shifting part of his operation to rented fields here. Now some 500 Mexicans tend his crops in Mexico, where they run no risk of deportation.

“I’m as American red-blood as it gets,” Mr. Scaroni said, “but I’m tired of fighting the fight on the immigration issue.”

A sense of crisis prevails among American farmers who rely on immigrant laborers, more so since immigration legislation in the United States Senate failed in June and the authorities announced a crackdown on employers of illegal immigrants. An increasing number of farmers have been testing the alternative of raising crops across the border where there is a stable labor supply, growers and lawmakers in the United States and Mexico said.

Western Growers, an association representing farmers in California and Arizona, conducted an informal telephone survey of its members in the spring. Twelve large agribusinesses that acknowledged having operations in Mexico reported a total of 11,000 workers here.

“It seems there is a bigger rush to Mexico and elsewhere,” said Tom Nassif, the Western Growers president, who said Americans were also farming in countries in Central America.

Precise statistics are not readily available on American farming in Mexico, because growers seek to maintain a low profile for their operations abroad. But Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, displayed a map on the Senate floor in July locating more than 46,000 acres that American growers were cultivating in just two Mexican states, Guanajuato and Baja California.

“Farmers are renting land in Mexico,” Ms. Feinstein said. “They don’t want us to know that.”

She predicted that more American farmers would move to Mexico for the ready work force and lower wages. Ms. Feinstein favored a measure in the failed immigration bill that would have created a new guest worker program for agriculture and a special legal status for illegal immigrant farm workers.

In the past, some Americans have planted south of the border to escape spiraling land prices and to ensure year-round deliveries of crops they can produce only seasonally in the United States. But in the last three years, Mr. Nassif and other growers said, labor force uncertainties have become a major reason farmers have shifted to Mexico.

While there are benefits for Mexico, as American farmers bring the latest technology and techniques to its crop-producing regions, American farm state economists say thousands of middle-class jobs supporting agriculture are being lost in the United States. Some lawmakers in the United States also point to security risks when food for Americans is increasingly produced in foreign countries.

Tramping through one of his first lettuce crops near Celaya, an agribusiness hub in Guanajuato, Mr. Scaroni is more candid than many farmers about his move here. He had made six trips to Washington, he said, to plead with Congress to provide more legal immigrants for agriculture.

“I have a customer base that demands we produce and deliver product every day,” he said. “They don’t want to hear the excuses.” He acknowledges that wages are much lower in Mexico; he pays $11 a day here as opposed to about $9 an hour in California. But without legal workers in California, he said, “I have no choice but to offshore my operation.”

The Department of Labor has reported that 53 percent of the 2.5 million farm workers in the United States are illegal immigrants; growers and labor unions say as much as 70 percent of younger field hands are illegal.

As the American authorities tightened the border in recent years, seasonal migration from Mexico has been interrupted, demographers say. Many illegal farm laborers, reluctant to leave the United States, have abandoned the arduous migrant work of agriculture for year-round construction and service jobs. Labor shortages during harvests have become common.

Some academics say warnings of a farm labor debacle are exaggerated. “By and large the most dire predictions don’t come true,” said Philip Martin, an agricultural economist at the University of California, Davis. “There is no doubt that some people can’t count on workers showing up as much as they used to,” Professor Martin said. “But most of the places that are crying the loudest are exceptional cases.”

But some recent studies suggest that strains on the farm-labor supply are real. Stephen Levy, an economist at the Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy, in Palo Alto, compared unemployed Americans with illegal immigrant workers in the labor market. “The bottom line,” Mr. Levy said, “is that most unemployed workers are not available to replace fired, unauthorized immigrant workers,” in part because very few of the unemployed are in farm work.

Mr. Scaroni said he started growing in Mexico reluctantly, after seeing risks to his American operations. At peak season his California company, Valley Harvesting and Packing, employs more than 1,000 immigrants, and all have filled out the required federal form, known as an I-9, with Social Security numbers and other identity information.

“From my perspective everyone that works for me is legal,” he said. But based on farm labor statistics, he surmises that many of his workers presented false documents.

An impatient man in perpetual motion, Mr. Scaroni marches through his fields shouting orders to Mexican crew leaders in rough Spanish while he negotiates to buy new trucks in Mexico on a walkie-talkie in one hand and to sell produce in the United States on a cellphone in the other.

Frustrated with experts who say that farmers with labor problems should mechanize, he plunges his hands into side-by-side lettuce plants, pulling out one crisp green head and one that is soggy and brown. After his company invested $1 million in research, he said, “We haven’t come up with a way to tell a machine what’s a good head and what’s a bad head.”

He also dismisses arguments that he could attract workers by raising wages, saying Americans do not take the sweaty, seasonal field jobs. “I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that if I did that I would raise my costs and I would not have a legal work force,” Mr. Scaroni said.

Still, transferring to Mexico has been costly, he said. Since the greens he cuts here go to bagged salads in supermarkets in the United States, he follows the same food-safety practices as he does in California. Renting fallow Mexican land, he enclosed his fields in fences and installed drip-irrigation systems for the filtered water he uses.

He trained his Mexican field crews to wear hair nets, arm sheaths and sanitized gloves, and held drills on the correct use of portable toilets. In the clean-scrubbed cooling house, women in white caps scrutinize produce for every stray hair and dirt spot.

By now about one-fifth of Mr. Scaroni’s operation is on five farms approaching 2,000 acres in Guanajuato. A few of his Mexican employees came from California, like Antonio Martínez Aguilar, a field manager who worked there for 15 years but could never get immigration documents.

“I tried everything, but there wasn’t anything anyone could do to make me legal,” Mr. Martínez said.

Negotiated among growers and unions over seven years, the agricultural measure in the failed immigration bill, known as AgJobs, had wider bipartisan support than the bill as a whole, lawmakers said. Its supporters have said they hope to bring it before Congress this fall, perhaps attached to the farm bill. [It was hurt by last week’s resignation of Senator Larry E. Craig, the Idaho Republican who was one of its chief sponsors.]

Mr. Scaroni expects to recover his start-up costs because of the lower wages he pays here, although he says Mexican workers are less productive in their own country.

“It’s not a cake walk down here,” he said. “At least I know the one thing I don’t have to worry about is losing my labor force because of an immigration raid.”

domingo, 2 de septiembre de 2007

The Myth, the Math, the Sex


Published: August 12, 2007

EVERYONE knows men are promiscuous by nature. It’s part of the genetic strategy that evolved to help men spread their genes far and wide. The strategy is different for a woman, who has to go through so much just to have a baby and then nurture it. She is genetically programmed to want just one man who will stick with her and help raise their children.

Surveys bear this out. In study after study and in country after country, men report more, often many more, sexual partners than women.

One survey, recently reported by the federal government, concluded that men had a median of seven female sex partners. Women had a median of four male sex partners. Another study, by British researchers, stated that men had 12.7 heterosexual partners in their lifetimes and women had 6.5.

But there is just one problem, mathematicians say. It is logically impossible for heterosexual men to have more partners on average than heterosexual women. Those survey results cannot be correct.

It is about time for mathematicians to set the record straight, said David Gale, an emeritus professor of mathematics at the University of California, Berkeley.

“Surveys and studies to the contrary notwithstanding, the conclusion that men have substantially more sex partners than women is not and cannot be true for purely logical reasons,” Dr. Gale said.

He even provided a proof, writing in an e-mail message:

“By way of dramatization, we change the context slightly and will prove what will be called the High School Prom Theorem. We suppose that on the day after the prom, each girl is asked to give the number of boys she danced with. These numbers are then added up giving a number G. The same information is then obtained from the boys, giving a number B.

Theorem: G=B

Proof: Both G and B are equal to C, the number of couples who danced together at the prom. Q.E.D.”

Sex survey researchers say they know that Dr. Gale is correct. Men and women in a population must have roughly equal numbers of partners. So, when men report many more than women, what is going on and what is to be believed?

“I have heard this question before,” said Cheryl D. Fryar, a health statistician at the National Center for Health Statistics and a lead author of the new federal report, “Drug Use and Sexual Behaviors Reported by Adults: United States, 1999-2002,” which found that men had a median of seven partners and women four.

But when it comes to an explanation, she added, “I have no idea.”

“This is what is reported,” Ms. Fryar said. “The reason why they report it I do not know.”

Sevgi O. Aral, who is associate director for science in the division of sexually transmitted disease prevention at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said there are several possible explanations and all are probably operating.

One is that men are going outside the population to find partners, to prostitutes, for example, who are not part of the survey, or are having sex when they travel to other countries.

Another, of course, is that men exaggerate the number of partners they have and women underestimate.

Dr. Aral said she cannot determine what the true number of sex partners is for men and women, but, she added, “I would say that men have more partners on average but the difference is not as big as it seems in the numbers we are looking at.”

Dr. Gale is still troubled. He said invoking women who are outside the survey population cannot begin to explain a difference of 75 percent in the number of partners, as occurred in the study saying men had seven partners and women four. Something like a prostitute effect, he said, “would be negligible.” The most likely explanation, by far, is that the numbers cannot be trusted.

Ronald Graham, a professor of mathematics and computer science at the University of California, San Diego, agreed with Dr. Gale. After all, on average, men would have to have three more partners than women, raising the question of where all those extra partners might be.

“Some might be imaginary,” Dr. Graham said. “Maybe two are in the man’s mind and one really exists.”

Dr. Gale added that he is not just being querulous when he raises the question of logical impossibility. The problem, he said, is that when such data are published, with no asterisk next to them saying they can’t be true, they just “reinforce the stereotypes of promiscuous males and chaste females.”

In fact, he added, the survey data themselves may be part of the problem. If asked, a man, believing that he should have a lot of partners, may feel compelled to exaggerate, and a woman, believing that she should have few partners, may minimize her past.

“In this way,” Dr. Gale said, “the false conclusions people draw from these surveys may have a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy.”