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Pitches of the week: Climate, Native Americans, chronic fatigue

One of our biggest stories from last week — which we covered in two articles and a podcast with Michael Mann, the “Climategate” scientist who was the target of a (now dismissed) fraud probe by the Virginia attorney general’s office — came directly from a Pitch Room suggestion! So keep the ideas and the feedback coming! Here are some of the pitches we’ve been receiving lately — what would you like to hear more about?

A story about the global grassroots movement Next worldwide event is scheduled for 10-10-10. Started by Bill McKibben author, activist, environmentalist two years ago. 350 is the parts per million of carbon in the atmosphere that is considered safe by many scientists. We are currently at 392.

- Joyce Gralak

Native Americans in the U.S.

My suggestion for the “Pitch Room” is to cover the state of our Native Americans or Indigenous People’s across our American Nation. From shore to shore to cover the struggles be they: humanitarian, economic, political, and especially moral. The suicide rate amongst Native American male youth is climbing. If we believed the climate is stacked against African-Americans is horrible, than for Native Americans its double or triple those numbers across the board.

Reservations or tribal lands are like third-world nations within our borders. Be it housing stock, lack of heating during the harsh winters (e.g. the Lakota), or unemployment rates soaring beyond depression era rates of over 50%.

Tiokasin Ghosthorse, would be an excellent point man to discuss this at great lengths. He hosts a radio show called “First Voices Indigenous Radio” for Indigenous people for nearly across the globe, although mostly for the Americas.

It seems in discussion of race in America from Whites, Hispanics, Blacks, and Asians. That Native Americans are always left out of the discussion.

- Ivan Pozo-Illas

LGBT dictionary

We all know that people dress a certain way to identify ourselves to others. But we speak differently, too. I work at a community college, and we have set up a Safe Spaces program to aid our at-risk LGBT students. To that end, we are creating the first searchable, comprehensive list of LGBT terms — in 3 different languages. I have a great group of LGBT college-aged students contributing to it, and getting authorship status. The point is that we recognize that to engage in a culture, or to understand why a student is being hurt by certain words, you need to have access to those words.

So that’s practice. But the reality is that we want to present a dictionary to those who are new to the gay community. We want to help them learn the lingo, and we want to make that lingo mainstream to help end the ‘ick factor’ and discrimination.

All of this opens up the very interesting question: How are language and culture related? What pictures are made when speakers use or are exposed to certain words? The Department of Defense issued a survey to troops regarding their perceptions of gays serving openly in the military. But instead of ‘gay’, they used ‘homosexual’, which has known connotations. The point is that they were priming negative perceptions, and manufacturing negative replies.

- Elise (via email)

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (We had quite a few requests for stories on this topic, and about the XMRV virus associated with the condition)

I would like to see a program on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, and Multiple Chemical Sensitivities. A significant number of people who have CFS have all three of these disorders. Having multiple conditions is not surprising when people are chronically ill. Most people who have an immune or an “autoimmune” illness have multiple illnesses. But what is unique about these illnesses is that the sick person has been blamed to such a degree that the average person out there may very well believe that the illnesses are not physiological. Indeed, I’ve read that over half of all doctors still don’t believe in CFS and the WHO and CDC both recognize it as a real physical illness.

There are plenty of studies that now show that these illnesses are real. Indeed, just recently a French research team has proved Dr. Martin Pall’s NO/ONOO theory (pronounced No Oh No) as to the physiological changes that go on with folk who have CFS, FMS, MCS, and PTSD among people who are diagnosed to have MCS. As far as I know, this is the first time that folk with MCS have been shown to be physiologically different from “normals.”

At any rate, people with these illnesses have been shunned and left to cope with lives that have essentially crashed and burned, ignored by many in the medical community, ignored by family, ignored by friends. If having support is essential to good health, then our larger community has certainly done all it can to keep us ill. Thank goodness for online support groups and the cyber world in general.

- Claironess


  • Timdewey59

    Native Americans in the U.S.

  • Carole Gallagher

    If you are going to discuss chronic fatigue, please also focus on fibromyalgia, a completely different disease which is just as disabling.

  • Peggy Koutas

    I would love to see stories covering individuals who have had a major impact on social justice issues. The vast majority of stories for any program target the issues but provide little information regarding individuals and initiatives that are making long-term impact. For example, Delancey Street Foundation ( has been around for almost 4 decades, has changed the seemingly impossible, yet I have yet to find one person in my professional or personal life that has ever heard of them. Who are today’s influencers?

  • Concerned Citizen

    Please do a story on the systematic, global dismantling of higher education. This is especially evident in California, where less and less of the state’s general fund is allotted to the three higher education systems (community colleges, state universities, and University of California campuses), despite the “Master Plan for Higher Education”, which guarantees a tuition-free college education for ANYONE who qualifies. This is also happening in Europe (where they are getting rid of tenure), along with the rise of for-profit online degrees. Organizations to interview: California Faculty Association, American Association of University Professors, and others.

  • KevinLordTX

    I like the Native American one, bring up the destruction of their hemp crops that they use to make clothes, jewelry, bread, etc… if you cover it please.
    We still stick it to the Red Man and the Farmers here in America, we need to get a clue. Thanks, need to know.

  • meck

    I would like to see the story on CFS/FMS/MCS. A lot of people (myself included) suffer greatly from these illnesses and often struggle with getting the care that they need. I’ve even had a friend who is a registered nurse say “If you tell me you have fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome, know that I am rolling my eyes and thinking that you are a loser.”. This is the attitude of many of the medical professionals that we turn to for help. We need more people to understand what we are going through so that we can get the support that dealing with a chronic illness requires.

  • Kaitmoon

    I’d like to see more on Native Americans in the U.S. and Chronic Fatigue and other auto-immune illnesses. I think they are the two subjects on this list that get the least press and are important to understanding the world around us and the differences therein and how those differences have marginalized millions of people living in our country.

  • Angie

    I would like to hear about CFS and the native americans. The tribe in my community is doing quite well due to the Casino they have, but not all tribes have tha option.

  • Joel Von Penner

    Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

  • Cheryl

    I would like to hear about CFS and also a focus on Fibromyalgia. These conditions are of great interest to me.

  • Gabriella

    I am well aware of the lack of correct information surrounding illnesses such as CFS, MCS, fibromyalgia and other misunderstood, often environmentally induced illnesses. These lessons are usually learned the hard way, through personal experiences when someone develops this type of illness and left on his or her own devices to deal with it.
    Any chronic and potentially disabling illness can erode the potential of an individual, and it is even more so when the illness is systematically denied or mistreated by the medical community or meets social rejection. Sufferers of illnesses, which people are not expected to get based on current textbook standards, are seldom able to put their lives back together and they are doing even worse, than sufferers of “legitimate” illnesses.
    I would like to see a relevant reporting on this issue that builds on the complex experiences of people who happened to suffer these illnesses. We can see from the history of medicine, that every illness is relevant well before scientists drill down to every aspect of it in the laboratory to understand it, let alone before doctors have the means to find a cure. Denying, what we already know helps no one, but contributes to misconceptions.
    Reporting on these illnesses in the media, at least that I’m aware of, has often been distorted. Some of these reports in fact turned into ridiculing those people, who suffer from very serious conditions, further marginalizing them along with doctors, who try to deal with these very complex health issues.
    I find this demeaning portrayal of people with very real illnesses unacceptable and I feel strongly about, that the public needs to know more about the true nature of this circle of problems. I am looking forward to see an adequate and unbiased program addressing not only the illnesses itself, but the additional harm posed by inadequate relation to them by medical doctors and the public.