[Marxism] Tony Sarcoma
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
By JIM YARDLEY
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.
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