Static: Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Put Out the Tommy Lee Traps

This summer, a Static colleague who lives in the boonies found himself dealing with a minor rat infestation. Like anybody else creeped out by the Norwegian interlopers, he did the smart thing and made his older kids clean out the little-used room where the trouble was. Then he threw ecology to the winds and put out enough poison to kill an army of the long-tailed nuisances.
When he noticed several of the varmints racing along a little gully on his property a few weeks later, he called in the pros, who told him this has been a simply amazing year for rats. So amazing that it would be days before a crew could come out, because they were so backed up with work.
And what’s causing the rat rodeo? “The Barnett Shale,” answered the person at the exterminator company. “The drilling is eating away at the pastureland that’s their natural habitat, and the heavy truck traffic is driving them from the culverts at the sides of the roads” — which apparently serve as rat condos — “and ... they’re taking up residence in outbuildings, garages, and homes.”
Just another thing to think about when those royalty checks start arriving in the mail. Let’s see, $40 or $50 per month, minus the exterminator’s bill, minus cost of repairs from rat damage … yes, with the Barnett Shale, we all win.
Carswell Gets Air Time
Last July, an article in Ms. Magazine detailed the callous lack of medical care given to female prisoners at the Federal Medical Center Carswell. It was written by Fort Worth Weekly staffer Betty Brink, who has been covering this issue — inhumane care for sick and elderly women, economic exploitation, rape, and possibly murder of inmates — for this paper for almost a decade, with little previous notice from the national press. But the Ms. article seems to have opened the eyes of other journalists, and the stories of the Carswell women are beginning to reach more and more sections of the national audience.
Since the magazine story hit the stands, Brink and Marilyn Shirley, a Carswell rape victim whose story was told in the Weekly, have been interviewed on radio stations on both coasts, with requests still coming in. The latest was Brink’s talk with Houston Pacifica Radio. Another interview with Brink and Shirley is pending with a Los Angeles station.
Many of the interviewers’ questions have to do with individual stories, such as that of Janice Pugh, the 52-year-old drug addict, in prison for a parole violation, who was sent to Carswell for medical care because of her history of lung cancer, but who got no treatment for her cancer and died two months later in an Alabama hospice, her body and brain eaten up by tumors. Accounts like that, the radio journalists have said, made them feel they had to bring the Carswell situation — and the question of prison reform — to their listeners.

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