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The first one was the first hour of what is to be a 6 hour series entitled "The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross."  It was put together by Henry Louis "Skip" Gates.  Tonight's episode began with the history of the slave trade, and continued with the history of slavery in the Western Hemisphere from the earliest days to the American Revolution.  PBS tends to rebroadcast its programs, or to make them available online, so you can probably find the first episode somewhere.  But don't miss the next 5 installments.

The second one was a Frontline report on the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria that are threatening to take us back to the pre-antibiotic age.  Just as the problem is exploding, most of the major pharmaceutical companies have pulled out of the antibiotic market for the simple reason that it's not that profitable.  After all, if an antibiotic works properly, the patient only takes it for a couple of weeks.  But if you can develop and market the latest anti-impotence drug, or the latest anti-hypertensive or cholesterol-lowering drug, you can make profits on it for years, even if it's only marginally (if at all) better than drugs that already exist to treat the same problem.

There will be a second report in the Frontline series, aired in the spring, about the overuse of antibiotics in livestock destined for the food supply.  I'm not, and probably never will be, a vegan, but any thoughtful person should be appalled at the way most of our animal protein in this country is produced.  First, you can't keep animals in the conditions present on factory farms without the routine use of antibiotics, which increases problems with antibiotic-resistant bacteria.  And just as important (although I have no indication it will be a subject of the program in the spring), none of us should enjoy eating a steak or hamburger or piece of fried chicken where the animal that we are eating has essentially been tortured for its entire life.


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