El Dorado News

Monday
October 15, 2018
El Dorado News Times

Viewpoints

Breast cancer ratio in county higher than state rate

National Mammography Day is Oct. 19. Have you had yours? If not, schedule it. This month and day provide an opportunity for you to get involved with National Breast Cancer Awareness Month by taking charge of your health and encouraging your family and friends to do the same. There will be an estimated 16,130 new cases of breast cancer in Arkansas in 2018, according to the American Cancer Society — and 6,910 deaths. The ACS recommends that women start getting yearly mammograms at age 40. Women who have a particularly high risk of breast cancer should start getting mammograms at an earlier age. Though men have a comparatively much lower risk than women of developing breast cancer and mammograms are not routinely recommended, the risk is still there. So, it is important for men talk with their doctors if they discover a lump in their breast. Counties with a standardized mortality ratio of more than one exceed the statewide mortality rate, according to 2004-2013 data collected by the Arkansas Department of Health. Union County has a rate of 1.12. In 2013, black females in the state had a breast mortality rate of 27.2 deaths per 100,000 population, while white females had a rate of 20.6. The median age at death from breast cancer from 2009 to 2013 was 69 years. The median age at diagnosis was 63. President Bill Clinton designated the third Friday of October as National Mammography Day in 1993. This day serves as a reminder to all women that the best defense is early detection. A mammogram can often detect a problem before there is any outward physical sign. A simple X-ray image taken of your breasts is the screening for signs of breast cancer. Mammograms are offered at a variety of places like hospitals, freestanding testing centers, and departments within clinics. Maya Angelou once said, “Bitterness is like cancer. It eats upon the host. But anger is like fire. It burns it all clean.” I encourage you to get angry and fight. A mammogram could save your life or the life of someone you love. Get it done. Shea Wilson is the former managing editor of the El Dorado News-Times. E-mail her at melsheawilson@gmail.com. Follow her on Twitter @SheaWilson7.

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Gender Discrimination in Arkansas

In overall gender discrimination the state of Arkansas ranks 41st out of 50 behind Mississippi 30th and Alabama 33rd. Almost all of the low rankings are in southern states, where women’s rights have long languished. The survey covers equal pay, political appointment, health care, and several other critical items all of which are places where gender discriminations occurs. But I know some of you who are reading this don’t believe women are discriminated against. Sure, women have equal rights, but that doesn’t keep them from suffering discrimination. Equal rights also doesn’t mean women get equal pay for doing the same job as men, and equal rights certainly doesn’t keep corporation boards and public commissions from being made up of all men. Of course, it’s worldwide discrimination that women are subjected to. Up until recently, in Saudi Arabia, women couldn’t even drive a car unless accompanied by a man. Yes, it clearly is a worldwide problem, but it can be tackled locally. Of course, we Americans always like to think we’re leading the world in just about everything you can imagine, and hey, we’re doing that in a lot of ways, and I couldn’t be prouder of our country, but gender equality is not something to brag about. Just to give you an example of how far behind we are, let’s consider the new cabinet members of Spain: 11 are women and 6 are men. It’s almost impossible to even imagine an American Presidential cabinet having a majority of women. That’s how far behind we are, and most of the entrenched men who make up the leadership of our corporations, state, and government entities, the ones who make the promotions and appointments, consider a token woman equal representation. If we consider the inequality of women on a worldwide basis, the economic potential that would result if we elevated women too an equal position is staggering. One study says if women worldwide were brought to equal status with men, productivity and the subsequent creation of goods would soar as much as one trillion dollars a year. Naturally, that translates into a giant increase in a worldwide standard of living. Let’s consider just a couple of the all-male Arkansas boards, and for a moment forget about the hundreds more and several thousand additional boards with a token women: First the Arkansas Highway Commission: If an equal number of women were on that board, I don’t have a doubt that our highway right-of-ways would be more attractive, and that the 50 yards of bare ground on either side of our roads would be reduced, and we wouldn’t have an interstate running through a historic neighborhood. If the Game and Fish Commission had an equal number of women, the lakes and rivers that have Game and Fish facilities would be more attractive, have proper restrooms, and the Commission’s publications would feature recipes and other ways to prepare wildlife. And to mention another board with a token woman if women were equally represented on the Board of Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Quality, there wouldn’t be a hog farm on the Buffalo River Watershed and Arkansas would have adopted all the standards of the National Clean Water Act. Those are just my observation from working around women. If you want a job done give it to a busy women. She’ll get it done. Across this country there are thousands of all male boards. Can anyone say the only qualified candidates for these positions are men? Of course not. So why do our male elected officials, continue to appoint a much higher percentage of men, and appoint only men to certain boards? Of course it’s discrimination. There is no other word for it. It is discrimination as sure as the South’s Jim Crow laws were, and don’t give me that old whine, “It has always been a male board.” I’ll continue the Gender Discrimination in Arkansas column with a question for the candidates for governor, Asa Hutchinson, Jared Henderson, and Mark West. To the candidates: The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and the State Highway Commission are all male appointees. Will you commit to appoint a woman to the board of each of the above commissions when the next vacancy occurs, and will you work to promote gender equality on all of the boards and commissions under your authority? To the candidates: This is a yes or no question, and any other answer such as “the most qualified candidate” or “no answer,” will be considered a “no” and be published as a “no” in my column. Actually, trying to hide under the “best candidate” is so discriminatory that it’s a disgrace to infer that out of over a million Arkansas women there aren’t two that are qualified for the above noted commissions. And just to be sure the candidates can’t say they didn’t read my column, I’m sending them the question by registered mail. Of course, trying to hide behind, “It’s always been a male only board, or men are more qualified because they hunt or fish or drive more trucks or more business orientated to business is just trying to come up with reason to discriminate against the +50% of the population in our fair state. For a person to say “Equal pay for equal work would be hardship on many employers,” deserves a slap in the face—-if I were a women—-and a man said that to me. The facts are self-evident with the thousands upon thousands of women across our state who keep our economy humming, while doing the work for so many male company heads. On January 1st, 2018, Iceland became the first country in the world to make pay inequality illegal. Companies that cannot prove pay equality will be fined almost $500 a day if the gap continues to exist. Yes, equal pay for equal work is a worldwide problem, and we do need the ERA (Equal Rights Amendment) to move the process along. Studies have shown that having an equal number of women on a board or commission actually greatly improves the work and mission of the commission. Even a token woman board member matters to. Companies in every sector, not just tech, perform 5 percent better when they have even just one woman on the board, according to Credit Suisse, which examined 3,000 companies. There is a current bill just signed by the governor of California that mandate at least one woman on every company board headquartered in the state. The two state commissions I listed are just a fraction of the boards and commissions across the state, but they are glaring examples of the inequality present in every community in the state, and if you don’t think that’s a true statement, check with your city hall. You will be shocked. The intent of this column is to focus on the gender inequality present on the most visible of the many state boards and commissions, but the problem begins in the selection of local boards and commissions. I urge you to confront your local candidates for elective office to commit publically to work for equal representation by women on all city boards. Richard Mason is a registered professional geologist, downtown developer, former chairman of the Department of Environmental Quality Board of Commissioners, past president of the Arkansas Wildlife Federation, and syndicated columnist. Email richard@ gibraltarenergy.com.

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A south Texas nail-biter

Corpus Christi, Texas, May 1966. I’ve just finished a cup of coffee when I get a buzz from Orville Nolan, the Exxon regional exploration manager. “Come to my office, Richard.” Mr. Nolan is waiting for me in his outer office. “Richard, come in and sit down. We have a problem on a wildcat we’re drilling just out of Cotulla.” Well, I know Cotulla. It’s an old cattle roundup town where the herds met to start cattle drives, about 100 miles northwest of Corpus Christi. “Richard, from your work in Libya, you are the most experienced geologist in the office when it comes to looking at samples. Let me get right to the point: We have a mud-logger on the well, and he can’t find his [backside] with both hands. He doesn’t have a clue as to what we are drilling in. I want you to head up to Cotulla and run samples. See if you can come up with where we are. And get moving. That big rig is costing us an arm and a leg.” “Yes, sir. I’m on my way.” An hour later Vertis and I are roaring across south Texas at about 110 mph in a company car on a farm-to-market road that’s straight as an arrow. We make it to Cotulla in an hour, where I drop Vertis off at the Green Lantern Motel. The drill pipe is in the hole and the kelly—a long square or hexagonal steel bar with a hole drilled through the middle for a fluid path—is rotating as I walk into the mud-log trailer to check samples. “Hi, I’m Richard; Corpus office sent me over to run samples.” “My God, am I glad to see you. I ain’t never seen nothin’ like these samples.” I focus the microscope and peer down at the ground-up rocks. What am I looking at? The samples don’t look like anything I’ve ever seen on a drilling rig. It’s been about an hour when it dawns on me: I’m looking at igneous rocks! I have figured it out. The rig is drilling below 10,000 feet heading for TD (the depth of the bottom of the well) at 15,000—that’s basement, the rock layer below which economic hydrocarbon reservoirs are not expected to be found—and I decide that they drilled out of sedimentary rocks at 8,759 feet and into an igneous plug. The drilling should stop immediately. Oil is never found in igneous rocks. However, I know what I’m about to tell the exploration manager is going to upset him and shock some of the geologists and geophysicists who proposed this test. Basement is supposed to be at 15,000 feet, and my recommendation and sample interpretation is going to be challenged by the senior exploration geologist and the area geophysicist. They have more than 50 years of exploration experience between them, and I have been an exploration geologist for only a year. I’m more than a little nervous when Mr. Nolan’s secretary puts him on the line. “Orville, the McCrery No. 1 is drilling at 10,100 feet—in igneous rocks, and has been since 8,759 feet.” I hold my breath and pull the phone away from my ear as Mr. Nolan yells, “What? Are you sure?” “Yes, sir. The samples are full of quartz, feldspar, and basalt.” It takes me 15 minutes to go over everything, and Mr. Nolan tells me to hold while he gets the senior geologist and geophysicist to talk with me. I know my interpretation could be wrong, because geology is not an exact science. As I think back on my Igneous Petrology course at the University of Arkansas, I can almost hear my professor, Dr. Jackson, slowly drone off the mineral composition of a granite porphyry. Yeah, that’s what we’re drilling in. But there’s a possibility that my examination of the fragments of rock I’m calling igneous rock is just flat wrong. I’ve been on the phone an hour, and the senior geologist and regional geophysicist have challenged and quizzed me repeatedly about my sample interpretation. “You’re dead wrong, Richard! Basement is below 15,000 feet, and the seismic control is excellent,” says Don Harkins, the senior geophysicist. “Don, my call is that we’re drilling in a granite porphyry.” I could barely get those words out. “A what?” I can hear Don mumbling about a junior geologist not knowing the area. “Give me the phone, Don.” Mr. Nolan is back on the phone. “Richard, I’m sending a courier to pick up the samples and drive them to the Exxon Research Center in Houston.” The top geologists in the country work there. Sweat has popped out on my forehead. “Yes, sir, I’ll have the samples ready,” I manage to choke out. “Richard, we’re talking big money here, so we want to be sure you’re right. Pull the drill string up into surface casing and wait on orders.” “Yes, sir.” “Stay in Cotulla until we get the report back from Houston. Goodbye.” Vertis is looking at me, knowing I have been defending my call on the well for the past hour. She can tell I’m worried. That’s an understatement. I have just returned from the rig after loading the samples in the back of the courier’s car and getting them to pull up into the surface casing. Vertis is reading an old magazine when I walk into the motel room. “Hey, why don’t we have a steak at the Green Lantern Cafe tonight? “ “Like we have a choice?” quips Vertis. It’s 6:30 p.m. when we walk into the cafe, but before the waitress stops by our table, a very attractive lady comes by. She smiles and says, “We have a private club in the back. Would you care to have dinner there?” We nod, smile, and follow her to the back. When she opens the door to the back room, my mouth drops open. It is a lavishly decorated, dimly lit room with a gorgeous layout and soft classical music playing. The idea that such a place could exist in the old cowtown of Cotulla is hard to believe. After a wonderful dinner I ask the hostess a few questions. “There is a successful rancher—a very good friend of mine—who helped me put this place together.” She didn’t need to say another word. It’s the next morning when the phone rings. My hand is shaking so badly I can hardly hold the phone. It’s Orville Nolan. “Richard, you’re right. Your sample descriptions match the Research Center’s. Hell, they even called the rocks a granite porphyry. Call the logging company, run logs, and bring them with you. There are some red faces on the sixth floor.” Six hours later we’re heading for Corpus with a strange-looking set of logs that prove I was right. Who would have ever thought that a non-oil related course in igneous petrology I took at the University of Arkansas would save Exxon a ton of money? Richard Mason is a registered professional geologist, downtown developer, former chairman of the Department of Environmental Quality Board of Commissioners, past president of the Arkansas Wildlife Federation, and syndicated columnist. Email richard@ gibraltarenergy.com.

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Why victims wait or don’t report

As the investigation into the validity of sexual misconduct allegations against U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh continued, stories on the outcome of adjudicated cases and real statistical data were reported. Those stories had nothing to do with the national debate, but it was difficult for many not to associate them. Interesting, isn’t it, how what is happening with Kavanaugh could influence perception about the sexual assault of a 14-year-old girl in Virginia. It shouldn’t, but it is — and not in a good way. WTVR in Richmond, Va., reported recently that a former high school student who sexually assaulted a 14-year-old girl will serve no active prison time. Logan Michael Osborn, 19, pleaded guilty to the charge of having carnal knowledge of the girl. At the time, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison, with eight years suspended, WTVR reported. But Chesterfield Circuit Court Judge T.J. Hauler decided to pause the two-year term, saying that he wanted more time to review the case. He later declined to reinstate the original sentence. Osborn, then a student at Cosby High School, sexually assaulted the 14-year-old girl after they attended a school play together. Prosecutors said Osborn went on a walk with the girl, who didn’t know the Cosby campus, and when the path ended at a fence, Osborn became aggressive. The prosecutor said he forced the 14-year-old onto her knees, then tied a belt around her neck and hands before the assault. Osborn released her around the time her mother was supposed to pick her up. The girl told her what happened during the ride home. The prosecutor argued that Osborn had a history of sexual assault – at the age of 12 he was charged with grabbing a student’s genitals. Girls accused him of inappropriate sexual behavior on seven different occasions, the prosecutor said. No jail time. Osborn will have to register as a sex offender and lost an academic scholarship to the University of Mary Washington. Presumably, the judge thought that was punishment enough. The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette ran a story Tuesday about the number of rapes reported to university police or campus authorities increasing last year. The article also referenced the number of sexual assaults that go underreported on college campuses. I shared the links to both stories on Facebook. Most people were outraged about the Virginia story, but one one woman’s observation was “maybe after 32 years then he can be punished,” which ties back to the time it took Kavanaugh’s accuser to come forward. A man’s observation: “well that’s a Supreme Court justice in the making.” I had difficulty not thinking about the well-circulated audio/video clip of President Donald Trump boasting about grabbing women by the genitals — and the fact Americans elected him after hearing it. Even after being outraged over multiple sexual abuse and harassment allegations against former President Bill Clinton and Democrats still supporting him, Republicans who agreed with Trump’s political ideology had no problem electing him with that video playing in the background. That’s the culture in which we live. People will support their candidate, regardless of what an ogre they are. And that’s a shame. Meanwhile, the guy who sexually assaults his high school peer after a play gets by with it. And people wonder why some victims wait or never report crimes. They wait or don’t report sexual assaults because they see stories like Osborne’s where the perpetrator got by with it. They wait or don’t report because they live in a society where men are elected president, even though they boast about sexual assault or have credible allegations of it against them. They wait or don’t report because society, by its choices of candidates, condones the behavior. Shea Wilson is the former managing editor of the El Dorado News-Times. E-mail her at melsheawilson@gmail.com. Follow her on Twitter @SheaWilson7.

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