[Marxism] Tony Sarcoma

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Jan 30 08:34:56 MST 2014

NY Times, Jan 30 2014
A Mafia Legacy Taints the Earth in Southern Italy

CASAL DI PRINCIPE, Italy — The Italian state arrived in the heartland of 
the Camorra mafia this month bearing a backhoe. Police officers in 
polished black boots posed for television cameras as the backhoe clawed 
into an overgrown field, searching for barrels of toxic waste or some 
other illegal industrial sarcophagi.

Two jailed mafia informants had identified the field as one of the 
secret sites where the Camorra had buried toxic waste, near a region 
north of Naples known as the Triangle of Death because of the emergence 
of clusters of cancer cases. One environmental group estimates that 10 
million tons of toxic garbage has been illegally buried here since the 
early 1990s, earning billions of dollars for the mafia even as toxic 
substances leached into the soil and the water table.

While the dumping has been widely documented, the trash crisis has only 
worsened, as the parallel problem of the illegal burning of toxic waste 
has brought the region another nickname, the Land of Fires. With new 
revelations fueling public outrage, the question is whether the Italian 
government will confront the Camorra and clean up the mess — and whether 
the mess can be cleaned up at all.

“The environment here is poisoned,” said Dr. Alfredo Mazza, a 
cardiologist who documented an alarming rise in local cancer cases in a 
2004 study published in the British medical journal The Lancet. “It’s 
impossible to clean it all up. The area is too vast.”

He added, “We’re living on top of a bomb.”



In Tony Soprano's first session with Dr. Melfi, he represents himself as 
a waste management consultant. Since she is Italian herself and a New 
Jersey native, she knows right off the bat that he is a gangster. In New 
Jersey, waste management and organized crime are practically synonymous. 
Although Tony Soprano and his cohorts lack Don Corleone's romanticized 
benevolence, they never reach the level of malevolence that would repel 
the average viewer.

Mostly, they come across as bumbling, hot-tempered rascals prone to 
malapropisms of the sort uttered by Shakespeare's clowns. During one 
session with his shrink, Tony tries to explain how old-school gangsters 
took their time with vendettas: "You know what they say: Revenge is like 
serving cold cuts." Another gangster Little Carmine complains, "We're in 
a fucking stagmire."

While all of this is certainly entertaining, the reality of waste 
removal in New Jersey is a far more serious business. As most people 
know, there are cancer alleys in New Jersey where abnormally high 
incidences of the disease are clustered.

In 1985, the International Journal of Epidemiology reported that 
"Clusters of cancer mortality were observed in 23 municipalities in 10 
counties [in New Jersey] in which a total of 98 age-adjusted cancer 
death rates were at least 50% above the national rate, and each of these 
municipalities had at least two race-sex-specific cancers in which the 
observed number of cancer deaths was greater than the expected number of 
deaths at the p less than 0.0005 level. Of these 98 excessive cancer 
death rates, 72% involved the gastrointestinal tract. Most of the 
municipalities are located in the highly industrialized densely 
populated northeastern part of the State."

What did all of these municipalities have in common? They were all 
located in proximity to toxic waste disposal sites. One of the biggest 
toxic waste removal firms in New Jersey is Browning-Ferris, which is 
based in Elizabeth, New Jersey, a town that provides many of the 
on-location backdrops for "The Sopranos." Key officers and participants 
of Browning-Ferris have been identified as organized crime figures, 
especially with ties to Teamsters Local 813 and 945. It would be a 
challenge to the writers of "The Sopranos" to come up with an episode 
that features one of the leading female characters coming down with 
breast cancer. A confrontation between such a character and Tony Soprano 
over his responsibility for her illness would make for some gripping 
drama, although I doubt that this subject will ever be broached.

full: http://www.swans.com/library/art10/lproy20.html

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