KOK Edit: Your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM)
KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) Katharine O'Moore Klopf

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Arming to Heal While Arming to Kill

Do healers and teachers kill, maim, and torture? Not as a matter of course, not as individuals. But when the dissemination of knowledge about healing is funded by the corporate world, they may by association, as may editorial workers.

Reed Elsevier’s Elsevier division is the monolith of the medical publishing world, producing thousands of books in all health-care disciplines and more than 2,200 journals, from Academic Emergency Medicine to the very nearly worshipped Lancet to Zoology. Where would the dissemination of medical knowledge be without these books and journals? Thanks to the Lancet, we now have proof that "[w]ar and armed conflicts are the main barriers to development in poor countries, and expenditure on arms diverts resources from education and health" (MacDonald R. Where next for arms control? Lancet 2006;368:713–14), notes an editorial in the February 9, 2007March 2007 issue of the United Kingdom's Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine (JRSM), which is not an Elsevier journal.

One focus of Reed Elsevier’s corporate-responsibility ethics is its global community program, Reed Elsevier Cares, the mission of which is to “play a positive role in our local and global communities, primarily through employee involvement.” For example,

[i]n 2005, Reed Exhibitions Germany employees created Christmas in a Shoebox (Weihnachten im Schuhkarton) with employees decorating and filling boxes with fun and practical items for boys and girls. Reed Exhibitions paid to ship the boxes to families in Armenia, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Kosovo, Croatia, Lithuania, Moldova, Pakistan, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, South Africa, Thailand, Ukraine, Russia and West Jordan. RBI-Italy raised nearly $1000 by selling a wide range of new and used items at an inhouse holiday market to raise funds for AIMPS Onlus, an association that helps children suffering from a rare illness affecting early growth.

That’s just heartwarming, isn’t it? And how’s this for heartwarming? Reed Elsevier, through its Reed Exhibitions division, has been striving, since 2003, to ensure that everyone in the world has enough weapons. Yes, you read that correctly.

The JRSM editorial reports that

[t]hrough its subsidiary, Reed Exhibitions, Reed Elsevier runs arms fairs in Britain, the United States, the Middle East, Brazil, Germany and Taiwan. The same subsidiary runs Lancet conferences, including the forthcoming one in Asia. The Lancet told us how the fairs have in the past included cluster bombs, which are especially dangerous to civilians because they fail to explode and thus create minefields. The Lancet has consistently spoken out against cluster bombs. Last year’s fair in the US included torture equipment sold by Security Equipment Corporation, who use the grotesque slogan ‘Making grown men cry since 1975.’ The Lancet has long been a leader in condemning torture. ...

It is the scientific and medical part of Reed Elsevier’s business that is the most profitable: in 2005 its sales totalled £1436 million, or 28% of total Reed Elsevier sales, and its profits were £449 million, or 37% of the company’s total profits. Indeed, Reed Elsevier plans to sell its education division, which is not nearly so profitable. The scientific and medical part of the business is so profitable because of the extraordinary value of the science it publishes. But the value in that research is created not by Reed Elsevier but by the scientists and academics who produce the research, peer review it, and edit most of the journals. This is where Reed Elsevier is vulnerable—were those researchers to go elsewhere, the company would promptly pull out of arms exhibitions. And, of course, those researchers might leave and never return.

The editorial also reports that in 2005, the Lancet published a letter from 16 readers who requested that Reed Elsevier get out of the arms business. Did the Lancet’s editorial staff take a stance? No.Yes. What happened? Nothing—Reed Exhibitions is still conducting arms fairs.

A member of the World Association of Medical Editors [of which I am an associate member] contacted Reed Elsevier by e-mail recently to ask about its weapons-promotion activities, and this was the response:

Thank you for contacting us regarding your concerns about Elsevier’s involvement in defense exhibitions. As well as publishing print and electronic information products, Reed Elsevier has a subsidiary called Reed Exhibitions Ltd. which organizes almost 500 exhibitions each year in a large range of different business sectors, including aerospace and defense. These exhibitions are intended for legitimate organizations involved in aerospace, defense, homeland security, peacekeeping and humanitarian relief. What is more, I am assured that all these exhibitions are managed strictly in compliance with domestic and international law and meet all regulatory requirements.

As many people are misinformed about the nature of the exhibition, I just wanted to give you some basic facts regarding DSEi (Defence Systems and Equipment International Exhibition). Often DSEi is regarded as ‘an arms fair’, but we would like to clarify that this not the case, it is an exhibition. This is an important distinction to make in that no weapons or other equipment may be bought or sold at this event.

The DSEi exhibition covers a range of equipment, not just weapons. For example, in 2005 at DSEi there were 1200 exhibitors; of this number:

*16% represented disaster relief programs

*7% were involved in peacekeeping and humanitarian services

*19% were involved in homeland security

There are many examples of equipment on exhibit that are crucial to efforts in peace support and life-saving activities, such as air ambulances, emergency medical complexes, surveillance systems, fire control equipment, or for search, rescue and survival. I list these to [assure] you that the exhibit is not simply about weapons. In fact less than 4% of the exhibitors displayed weapons.

Also, I just want to mention here that all the invitations for the exhibitions are sent out by the UK Ministry of Defence and that all the exhibitors have to comply with UK laws such as the Export Control Act and the Trade in Controlled Goods Order. Anything exhibited is highly regulated as well, and needs to comply with UK, EU and UN law. At this exhibition defense equipment is exhibited in an open and transparent manner, in a tightly regulated environment, which is the type of forum we feel is appropriate for this and every industry.

Reed Elsevier is committed to human rights and upholding international humanitarian law. And we at Elsevier, as a publisher, believe in freedom of speech and open debate. We simply want to ensure that the debate is an educated one, based on relevant facts and figures. We support an open discussion on this so that people can base decisions and opinions on correct information and are happy to answer any additional questions you may have on this topic or other topics that concern or interest you regarding Elsevier or Reed Elsevier.

That’s well-done spin. But are we in the editorial services professions so desperate for the financial support for disseminating medical knowledge that we will blind ourselves to the morally repugnant activities of the provider of that support? Do you publish, manage, edit, or proofread an Elsevier journal? If so, are you going to say anything to Reed Elsevier about its weapons-mongering? Will you continue to work on Elsevier journals? Will those who advertise in Elsevier's journals speak out? Will the physicians whose articles are published in Elsevier journals speak out?

I do not work directly with any of its journals, but I do edit a great many articles for authors from outside the United States for whom English is a second language and who will go on to submit their manuscripts to Elsevier’s Journal of Arthroplasty. I like to think that my working with international authors does some small part to foster international cooperation and understanding. But now I know that it also helps contribute to the distribution of implements of death.

Updated at 5:43 p.m.: The UK's Telegraph reports that two of Reed Elesevier's investors have dumped their shares in protest against the firm's arms fairs.

Updated 7:23 a.m., 3/1/07: I've posted a notice to my clients on my business web site. I'll e-mail that same message to my regulars, my international authors who contact me periodically for ESL edits of their medical journal articles, the next time they want another article edited before they submit it to any Elsevier journal.

And I've e-mailed the American Medical Association and Physicians for Social Responsibility with a call to action: that they boycott Elsevier and call for Reed Elsevier to stop hosting weapons exhibits.

There are just some things one can't remain silent or blind about.

Updated 9:31 a.m., 3/1/07: I have sent the following e-mail message to officers of Reed Elsevier's Singapore office:

Hello, Mr. V. Lee, Mr. J. Lee, Ms. Ng, and Ms. Tan. I am a freelance medical copyeditor in the United States who has grave concerns about Reed Elsevier's ethics.

Sponsoring the Lancet Asia forum is beneficial because it results in the wide dissemination of the latest medical knowledge. I thank Reed Elsevier for that service. But I am appalled that Reed Elsevier also produces weaponry exhibitions worldwide; see http://www.rsmpress.co.uk/KA07-02-09.pdf. For your company to both sponsor medical events and help provide access to weaponry is an untenable conflict of interest, especially in light of medicine's dictum "First, do no harm."

I have begun a campaign to inform editorial professionals worldwide about this serious matter.

I also have e-mailed the American Medical Association and Physicians for Social Responsibility with a call to action: that they boycott Elsevier and call for Reed Elsevier to stop hosting weapons exhibits. In addition, because this conflict of interest has received little to no coverage by the U.S. mainstream media, I have informed multiple large U.S. media organizations of the situation.

I call on you to consider the moral and ethical ramifications of Reed Elsevier's arms exhibitions—to stop organizing them immediately.

Updated 4:20 p.m., 3/2/07: If you read the industry magazine Publishers Weekly or use the research database LexisNexis, you will want to know that both are owned by Reed Elsevier.

Updated 9:12 p.m., 3/4/07: You can go here to sign a petition calling on Reed Exhibitions to drop its sponsorship of arms fairs. Go here for more background on Reed Elsevier and updates on the situation. And finally, please write a letter to the chairman of Reed Elsevier to protest its weapons-mongering:

Jan Hommen
Reed Elsevier PLC
1-3 Strand
London WC2N 5JR
Great Britain

Updated 2:30 p.m., 3/5/07: Please boycott the London Book Fair, which is organized by Reed Exhibitions.

Updated 2 p.m., 3/7/07: Please boycott BookExpo America, which is organized by Reed Exhibitions.

boycott 1 boycott 2 boycott 3

6/1/07: Reed Elsevier to stop hosting weapons fairs


Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Mentors: Some Crabbiness and Some Advice

I love to mentor other copyeditors, whether they're new to the profession or new to practicing it as a freelancer. As I posted yesterday, there's just something so satisfying—viscerally so—about being there for another human who wants to learn and grow. And in doing that, I grow too. I like helping other editors the way I wish other editors had helped me, had I known they were around. (This was before computers were everywhere, so who knew who was out there?)

Nearly every one of my "mentees" over the years has been a go-getter, eager to learn and do whatever it takes to succeed. They do the legwork necessary to build up their business, coming to me for advice, tips, and cheerleading, not to get work handed to them. They make me proud.

But there's one mentee who's driving me batty. I think I'm going to find a way to extricate myself from mentoring this person. Why? This person comes to me with the same questions over and over, not seeming to have learned anything from experience. This person has been hinting broadly about wanting me to pass along some of my clients' contact information. Today, this person, having apparently gathered that those hints weren't effective, asked for the info outright. I didn't provide it, saying that I think having to do legwork is a valuable learning experience for freelance editors.

Now, I have been known to share client contact info, but only with those who haven't asked for it, who have done the hard work, who have shown themselves to be industrious. And they're delighted and grateful.

My advice: If you're lucky enough to find a mentor, don't abuse the relationship. Do the hard work—it's your career. Don't expect your mentor to just drop work into your lap.

mentors publishing

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Desperately Seeking Congressional Spine

Tony Blair, voluntary Bush brainwashee extraordinaire, knows it's time that non-Iraqi troops get out of Iraq. Why don't American leaders?

Yeah, yeah, I know: Bush doesn't want to see it and won't ever see it.

But Congress? Why don't Congress members see this as an emergency and stand up to Bush right now? It's criminal that they continue to allow the Bush machine to keep feeding American soldiers into the meat grinder that is Iraq. It's criminal that they allow our soldiers to kill Iraqi men, women, and children daily. It's criminal that they don't have the nerve to take real action.

I voted straight Democrat in the midterm election so that we'd get some folks in office who would reverse America's freefall into right-wing depravity. Where's the action I was promised? Certainly not in a toothless wrist-slap of a nonbinding resolution on Bush's troop surge.

Dammit, Congress, grow a spine—and do it fast. Neither this country nor the world has time to wait for you to quit being gutless wonders. End the mess in Iraq and don't let Bush start another in Iran.

And while you're at it, get busy impeaching first Cheney and then Bush. You hear me? This is your constituent speaking.

Professional Mothering

I was chatting by e-mail with a friend and colleague today, and I mentioned the audio conference on getting started as a freelance editor for which I was one of two speakers this morning. She knows how much I enjoy doing these occasional audio conferences and also mentoring new copyeditors and new freelancers.

"You really are an EditorMom: a mom who's an editor, and a "mom" to all us editors!" she wrote to me.

She's right. In most things I do, I mother. I mother the manuscripts that I edit—and their authors—helping them to be the best that they can be. I mother people new to my profession or new to practicing it freelance, giving them tips for success, serving as a sounding board, and cheering them on. And of course, I mother my children. There's just something so satisfying—viscerally so—about being there for another human who wants to learn and grow. And in doing that, I grow too.

Want to grow even more as an editor? I'll be a copresenter at another audio conference on Tuesday, March 27, 11:30 a.m.–1:00 p.m. Eastern time. (That's 10:30 a.m.–12:00 p.m. Central, 9:30 a.m.–11:00 p.m. Mountain, and 8:30 a.m.–10:00 p.m. Pacific.) Wendalyn Nichols, editor of Copy Editor newsletter, will host and be a presenter with me. The topic will be client management and self-marketing for freelancers. Go here to get details and sign up (use the "Register Now!" link at the bottom of the information page for the conference).

After you register, you'll be given a toll-free phone number, which you'll call at conference time, and a password, which you'll give to the conference coordinator who answers the phone. You'll be listening to the presentation part of the time and asking questions when the coordinator says it's Q&A time. The audio conference will be about 90 minutes long.

I'll talk to you then!

publishing conference

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Insanity: Shipping Tons of Cash into a War Zone

Why in hell isn't anybody monitoring that bozo Bush and his appointees?!

From Reuters:
WASHINGTON (Reuters)—The U.S. Federal Reserve sent record payouts of more than $4 billion in cash to Baghdad on giant pallets aboard military planes shortly before the United States gave control back to Iraqis, lawmakers said on Tuesday.

The money, which had been held by the United States, came from Iraqi oil exports, surplus dollars from the U.N.-run oil-for-food program and frozen assets belonging to the ousted Saddam Hussein regime.

Bills weighing a total of 363 tons were loaded onto military aircraft in the largest cash shipments ever made by the Federal Reserve, said Rep. Henry Waxman, chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

"Who in their right mind would send 363 tons of cash into a war zone? But that's exactly what our government did," the California Democrat said during a hearing reviewing possible waste, fraud and abuse of funds in Iraq.

On December 12, 2003, $1.5 billion was shipped to Iraq, initially "the largest pay out of U.S. currency in Fed history," according to an e-mail cited by committee members.

It was followed by more than $2.4 billion on June 22, 2004, and $1.6 billion three days later. The CPA turned over sovereignty on June 28. ...

Monday, February 05, 2007

Snickers' Homophobic Super Bowl Ad

There aren't any football fans in my house, so as usual, we didn't watch the Super Bowl. That's why I didn't see a homophobic ad by Mars about Snickers, the candy bar, that aired during the game.

I'm appalled at the ad and its variants, one of which will run when the Daytona 500 airs. And I'm astounded that such a large company would have the stupidity necessary to run the ad. I plan to write both Snickers and the NFL, which allowed its players to be shown on the Snickers Web site reacting with disgust to the same-sex "accidental kiss" in the ad.

You can go here to complain to Mars. To complain to the NFL, don't use the e-mail contact form at NFL.com; that's only for messages about the Web site. Instead, snail-mail, call, or fax the NFL:
280 Park Ave.
New York, NY 10017
phone: 212-450-2000
fax: 212-681-7599

Updated 2/5/07, 3:09 p.m.: The Mars family, by the way, is a major contributor to conservative Republican causes.

Updated at 4:59 p.m.: The Human Rights Campaign, the largest gay and lesbian civil rights group in the U.S., is demanding that Mars pull the ad and its variants.

Updated at 5:46 p.m.: You can sign a petition here calling on Mars to pull the ads and stop running homophobic ads.

Updated at 7:07 p.m.: The Snickers site for the ads has been pulled; the old address for the ads redirects viewers to the main Snickers Web site.

Updated at 7:27 p.m.: Mars, the company that produces Snickers, says to a prominent blogger that it will not ever run the offensive ad or its variants anywhere. I'm still inclined to boycott Snickers; it's bad that the company thought the ad was funny enough to run in the first place.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

A Sad Event

The principal at my kindergartner's school is calling all the parents in his class this evening with sad news. One of the children in his class has died. The principal didn't have any details, but she wanted all the parents to have a chance to talk with their children before school tomorrow.

The little girl who died, T., was a friend of my son's. He told me, a while back, that she hugged him once when all the kids were standing in line to get on the bus to go home after school. He says he feels so sad that he will just "have to fall down on the floor and stay there and wiggle forever," because T. wasn't supposed to have died. And he finished making out Valentine's Day cards to his classmates, including T., just this afternoon.

I'm sad too, thinking about her parents—if the cause of her death wasn't a car accident that took their lives in addition to hers—having to grieve their child's death. I can't imagine how I'd fare if any of my children were to die.

Poor little girl. At 5, she was really only a baby.

Updated 2/5/07, 4:30 p.m.: The principal sent home a letter to parents today noting the availability of grief counseling from the school for students, but she didn't explain how T. died. My son, Jared, says that his teacher explained T's death to the class by saying that T. got very sick and was taken to the hospital but that her body stopped working. He says many of the children were upset but not crying.

Last night, Jared created a booklet, full of hearts and flowers, in her memory. Because he's still learning how to read and spell, he asked me to write this in the booklet: I'm sorry you died, T. Then he asked me to write a note to his teacher requesting that she keep the booklet in the classroom "so that everyone will remember T.," which the teacher is doing. Jared says that she let all the children look at the booklet. He also asked me to include in the note to the teacher a request that she gather all the Valentine's Day cards already made out by the children to T. and mail them to T's family, so they would know how many friends T. had.

Right now, Jared's making another booklet in memory of T., to keep in a little wooden box that my husband had made for him yesterday. My heart aches for him. Sometimes he's so old for a 5-year-old boy. What a big heart he has.

Updated 2/13/07, 7:14 p.m.: The local newspaper carried T's obituary on the weekend. It explained that T. had cardiomyopathy, a weakening of the heart muscle that eventually causes it to stop beating. Her family had no idea that she had any heart problems. She was even involved in gymnastics. The school PTA is starting a scholarship in her honor for low-income children who want to participate in gymnastics but can't afford the tuition.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Congress, Get a Move On!

Just came across this at DefenseTech.org, which is part of Military.com, a portal for the military and their families:
President Bush and his new military chiefs have been saying for nearly a month that they would "surge" an additional 21,500 troops to Iraq, in a last, grand push to quell the violence in Baghdad and in Anbar Province. But a new study by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office says the real troop increase could be as high as 48,000—more than double the number the President initially said.

That's because the combat units that President Bush wants to send into hostile areas need to be backed up by support troops, "including personnel to staff headquarters, serve as military police, and provide communications, contracting, engineering, intelligence, medical, and other services," the CBO notes. ...

The story contains a link to the CBO study; be sure to read it.

The Washington bureau of the Knight-Ridder news service confirms the story.

Yesterday, or any recent yesterday, would've been the perfect time for Congress to stop Bush, but because it did no such thing, now would be acceptable. Actually, now would be imperative.

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