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Issue of the Week: Anthrax panic

Headline Photo

Illustration by Josh Hagler

Thursday October 18, 2001

It hasn't been two weeks since a Florida man died after contracting inhaled anthrax, yet the nation is already realizing that the recurring findings of anthrax may be a coordinated terrorist plot. Although no evidence has pointed to Osama bin Laden or his organization, al-Qaida, many believe that this is how al-Qaida is responding to the U.S. retaliation in Afghanistan.

Letters containing anthrax have been sent to Tom Brokaw and the ABC network where an ABC producer's 7-month-old child was infected with a coetaneous infection. A letter was also sent to Sen. Tom Daschle.

In the most recent developments, New York Gov. George Pataki's Manhattan offices were closed after the discovery of a likely presence of anthrax spores. Additionally, the Capitol was shut down after 25 members of Sen. Daschle's staff tested positive for anthrax. Whoever is disseminating anthrax into these offices is targeting our leaders in politics and the media.

The anthrax scare is sweeping the country and seems again to be successfully terrorizing the American people. Anthrax hoaxes have become common across the world, the nation and Tucson. Attorney General John Ashcroft has threatened to federally prosecute anyone who is responsible for an anthrax hoax.

After the Sept. 11 attacks, the nation realized that changes were necessary on commercial flights and in our homeland security in general. Now, it seems that changes will have to be made in our mail system and mail-gathering habits. Things will have to change. Our paranoia must be curbed.

There is some good news

If I were a high ranking official of any office anywhere, I wouldn't touch another letter again - even if it said it was from my mother, even if it said I had just won $100 million, well maybe then.

Luckily, this country is already prepared to combat the latest threats to our national security. Our newest weapon is called: e-mail. That's right folks, it's a newfangled invention that lets you send your letters over the phone line in the form of digital data. Seriously, though, federal officials, agencies, universities and newspapers need to utilize e-mail and faxes to safeguard against further attacks.

Unfortunately, that may not be good enough; it's a step in the right direction but not a solution. Those who want to kill Americans will find new ways to spread anthrax.

There is some good news in all this. Although anthrax findings are becoming more frequent, and the locations in which they are being found are very sensitive to our nation, it seems that anthrax has yet to take many lives. So far, since Oct. 5, only one person has died from anthrax exposure, and everyone else that has been infected is predicted to recover with the use of antibiotics.

So they haven't been successful in killing us, but once again they have been successful in terrorizing us. And one way we can slow the terror in our own communities is to remember that hoaxes are absolutely intolerable. Our Tucson Police Department and emergency personnel have had to deal with false anthrax spottings and fake bomb threats. These worthless pranks misdirect and waste the time of the people we count on to keep us safe.

Cory Spiller is a creative writing and history senior. He can be reached at

These cowards know what they're doing

Tom Brokaw and South Dakota Senator Tom Daschle have all been sent some not-so-friendly letters recently. They've all contained the white, powdery substance we've all become familiar with the last couple of weeks. As a result, NBC headquarters and the Capitol Building have been evacuated as a sensible precautionary measure.

Now assuming that this is the artwork of the same variety of terror from Sept. 11, what exactly do the terrorists hope to accomplish? They obviously didn't want to kill any of these people; otherwise, they would have done so already. All they're hoping to accomplish here is to feed the growing paranoia in America for the past month. And regrettably, they're doing a masterful job.

They don't want to take the lives of any high-ranking government officials or news reporters because they know there'd be hell to pay if they did. Nearly the entire country would justify not just some, but any military action on their homeland. In other words, these cowards don't want to get themselves and their cronies in too much trouble.

It's like ditching class in high school, as opposed to calling in a bomb threat. Skip a class or two, and there aren't any stiff or lasting repercussions. Call in a bomb threat and get caught, and expulsion would be the least of one's worries.

But again, there's the added purpose in this case of furthering America's feeling of insecurity little by little, while not getting into too much hot water.

Hopefully - and logically - they won't take it any further than that.

Shane Dale is a political science sophomore. He can be reached at

An envelope full of oil

The "A" word. It causes chills down the spine.

But, 99 percent of Americans shouldn't be scared because we aren't vulnerable. Let's take a look at the broad picture. If we composite all the sites of recent possible terrorist attacks, it could make us feel a bit safer.

World Trade Towers. The Pentagon. Rumors about the fourth plane headed for Langley, Va. American Media Inc. NBC. The Senate. Government offices in Manhattan.

Now, let's look at that list with a different eye.

Capitalism. U.S. military. CIA headquarters. Corporate Media. Corporate Media. U.S. government. New York government.

Headline Photo

Illustration by Josh Hagler

I know, I know, these lists omit the innocent civilian lives that have been lost. But, if we can put that aside for a moment, let's use this list to piece together a "why this is all happening" puzzle.

The terrorists are choosing specific U.S. targets. They have been for a while - USS Cole, various embassy bombings - but we haven't heard their message. And apparently, we still haven't. And, if we can look through our patriotic tears and human fears, then maybe we can figure out how to put an end to this.

All of the items in list two point to the problem. Those responsible for the attacks want the U.S. military out of Persian Gulf region. They want sanctions lifted on Iraq so their children don't keep dying from hunger and disease. This is their cry: for the United States to stop meddling in their affairs. How about an end to media lies? It all points to possession of Middle East oil.

It is possible to love our country but disagree with U.S. foreign policy.

Anthrax is a signal for change.

Jessica Lee is an environmental science junior. She can be reached at

The new white powder

White powder has always been something to be frightened of: detergent reminding you that you haven't done laundry in weeks, cocaine, for example - drugs are bad. Sugar makes you fat, and we certainly can't forget snow. That's probably the scariest white powder, because snow in Arizona could mean that hell has frozen over.

But this white powder is all new. It's got Tom Brokaw opening the evening news to report about himself, Sen. Daschle discussing potency rather than doing his job, and it makes babies sick. The latest victim is only 7 months old; this stuff doesn't discriminate based on age.

The scariest part is the bizarre dichotomy involved in tracing the powder. A mastermind apparently concocts it, yet sends it with envelopes addressed in childlike scrawl with crayon. (From New Jersey, the Mecca for exciting, intriguing activity.) This powder is turning up everywhere, causing pandemonium in mailrooms, hospitals - even the Capitol. It's affecting the way the United States does its daily business, but should it scare you? No.

The field test for Anthrax is unreliable. The results are back in an hour but can only demonstrate the possibility that a person may have been exposed. The full test takes days, and as time passes, it has been shown that it was unnecessary for many of those who went on Cipro thinking they had the illness. This is a lesson: Save the Cipro in case times do get rough.

Until then, beware of the white powder, but don't hate the white powder. It may just be your detergent begging on behalf of your clothes for a little attention.

Laura Winsky is a senior majoring is Spanish and political science. She can be reached at

The other white meat

Fools! Why didn't we see this sooner? It's so obvious! Anthrax is most commonly found in livestock, not humans. Most humans who get it work with animals like cows and sheep and yes, of course, pigs. This entire Anthrax scare is being masterminded by two pigs, probably based somewhere in the Midwest, named Napoleon and Snowball.

Apparently, they are going to be difficult to find and capture because they don't ever stay at the same farm for more than a night or two. They've even been known to assort with the vile and frightful wild boars of the Bible Belt. (tremble, tremble).

But, there's other evidence that it's pigs too. Have you seen the letters that were sent? The handwriting was so childlike. It's evident that it could have only been written by a child or a pig that just taught his hooves how to write.

We must capture these venomous swine. And when we do, and we will, there is only one appropriate way of dealing with them. We model the actions of that ever-so-prophetic work, "The Complete Pork Cookbook."

This divine book miraculously appeared in my kitchen and my heart thanks to my very own mother. Thanks Mom, for the book and for teaching me that bacon grease makes eggs taste better.

So let's find these pigs and teach them a lesson they shant soon forget.

Dibs on one of the wishbones!

Zack Armstrong is a creative writing senior. He can be reached at


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