For Recyclers, a Silver Lining in the Treads
By , Los Angeles Times Staff Writer 9/9/00

     MECCA, Calif. -- The Firestone tire recall, an operation that could cost $500 million, has spawned its own trickle-down economy, carrying ripples out to everyone from Native Americans who run a desert recycling station to a Garden Grove tire hauler working so much overtime that he has nearly doubled his weekly paycheck.

     The Cabazon Band of Mission Indians said Friday that it has reached a deal to accept almost 5,000 Firestone tires a day for the next year from dealers across the Southwest. The tribe will grind the tires into crumbs at a plant near Mecca, east of Palm Springs. The crumbs will be turned into asphalt, playground surfaces and floor mats.

     The deal appears to be the biggest yet resulting from the national panic to unload possibly flawed tires--a stampede that has created a sudden and very large pile of trash, and a cottage industry to get rid of it.

     Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. last month voluntarily recalled 6.5 million tires in the United States, used mainly on Ford Explorers, because their treads could peel off. Regulators are investigating reports that the tires may be linked to 69 traffic deaths.

     Eventually, experts estimate, millions more tires could be involved--a substantial addition to the estimated 275 million that are dumped, burned or recycled in the United States and Canada each year. The Cabazon deal and others could help answer a nagging question: Just what will happen to all those tires?

     Thousands of them will go from driveways to car dealers to tire haulers to Los Angeles-based Rubber Technology International, where the recall has galvanized the 4-year-old company's business.

     Like the Cabazon operation, RTI grinds up used tires and turns the chunks into everything from traffic cones to garden hoses. The company expects the number of tires it handles to nearly double, from 55,000 in July to 100,000 in September--almost entirely because of the recall, said President and CEO Trevor Webb.

     Most of the additional tires are coming from Ford Motor Co. and Firestone dealers across Southern California. Webb has rented a tire-shredding machine called a rasper for $10,000 a month.

     Because stored tires create fire and health hazards, state regulators allow him to keep just 30,000 at a time in his Washington Boulevard yard. Tires are stacking up so fast that Webb is running his rented rasper 19 hours a day--almost twice as much as he did before the recall.

     "These are unfortunate circumstances," Webb said. "But for our business, it's great. I hate to say that. But it's true."

     Also benefiting from the surge in business is a company called Redwolf, based in East Los Angeles. The company picks up the recalled tires, for $1 apiece, and delivers them to Webb. Redwolf pays Webb about 45 cents each to take the tires, thus making about 55 cents for every tire delivered.

     Owner Vernon Redwolf has hired three extra drivers, and all of his drivers are working at least six days a week.

     One of them is 18-year-old Manuel Figueroa, whose paycheck-to-paycheck life has suddenly changed dramatically.

     With overtime because of the Firestone recall, his pay has jumped from $400 a week to $700--and that means he can afford to stock up on diapers for his 3-week-old daughter, Alissa, and give a little extra cash to his girlfriend.

     "It started slowly, and then it just came up on us," Figueroa said. "Now it's exploded. Business is good. There are a lot of tires out there."

     Before the recall, Redwolf picked up about 7,000 tires a week from car and tire dealers for disposal. These days, the company is picking up 17,000 a week.

     Redwolf used to sort through the tires he picked up and sell the good ones to used-tire stores. "Not any more; I don't have time to sell them," he said. "Before this, there were days when we didn't have anything to do. Now, we're working seven days a week, we're backed up and we can't take any more accounts. We're swamped."

     Tribe Cashes In With Recycling

     The biggest recipient of the Ford tires so far, apparently, is the 42-person Cabazon Band. The tribe, which also owns a casino, has set aside 590 acres of its desert reservation for an "eco-industrial park," which includes First Nation Recovery Inc., the only tire-recycling facility in the country owned and operated by Native Americans.

     On Friday on the reservation, about 30 miles southeast of Palm Springs but a world away from the desert's ritzy resorts, First Nation General Manager Dan Swanson pulled out a pocketknife and sliced through a blue plastic seal covering the lock of an unmarked tractor trailer.

     He flung open the doors of the truck--the first of four that would arrive at the reservation that day--revealing 1,250 spanking new Firestone tires.

     The truck backed up to the recycling warehouse and the tires were tossed onto a conveyor belt, which carried them into a shredding machine that moaned and groaned before spitting out chunks of rubber. By the end of the day, those chunks of rubber, with fragments of steel removed by magnets, had been reduced to fine, clean crumbs to be shipped to manufacturers of various rubber products.

     First Nation is being paid $20 per ton to take the Firestone tires, and will further profit by selling the recycled rubber. If the contract lasts for a year, it will be worth about $368,000 just for taking the tires.

     It is the largest contract ever signed by First Nation Recovery, but it is unclear how much the deal will be worth overall. Tim Bent, Firestone's senior environmental manager, disputed experts' projections that the number of tires affected by the recall could soar beyond 6.5 million, and he said the deal with the Cabazons may not last a full year because the recall may be over by then.

     "The sooner the better, obviously, from our perspective," Bent said.

     He said Firestone is "actively seeking" other deals, similar to the one struck with the Cabazons, that would help handle the sudden flood of tires.

     He said the company is trying to make the best of the situation by making sure that as many of the recalled tires as possible are recycled. After tires have been piled in a dump, they carry contaminants that make them difficult, and too expensive, to recycle.

     Firestone has based a four-person security team on the reservation to make sure that none of the tires leave intact. The tires are also slashed before they arrive, and Firestone offers $10 to any recycling worker who finds one undamaged.

     Making Good Things From Bad Tires

     Operations like First Nation and RTI will turn Firestone's recalled tires into materials for a variety of products:

     * An asphalt blend that is softer than traditional pavement, making it quieter, more durable in harsh weather and easier on cars.
     * Playground surfaces, running tracks, equestrian arenas and basketball courts.
     * Garden hoses, favored by some gardeners because tire rubber is already treated to repel ultraviolet light--which means the hoses last longer in the sun.

     Business is also booming at the Quantum Group, a Tustin-based incubator for technology that allows businesses like RTI to find new ways to reuse tire rubber.

     For example, because of the recall, Quantum President and CEO Ehrenfried Liebich is moving full speed ahead with a new technology to produce new tires from used tires. The method had been on the back burner.

     The sudden rush of tires, he said, means that companies are already lining up to buy his $500,000, 50-ton machines, which will now be ready in two months.

     Liebich said he expects the numbers of tires affected by the recall to soar even more because drivers with tires similar to the recalled ones will get rid of them to alleviate any safety concerns--even if they can't get Firestone to pay for it.

     "Everything is moving at a much more rapid pace," Liebich said. "All of a sudden, we are in the right place at the right time."

Can Cinnamon Help Control Blood Sugar?

Sept. 12, 2000 (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Researchers from the Human Nutrition Research Center in Beltsville, Md., found a common household spice may help break down glucose in type 2 diabetics. Clinical trials are set to begin in about six months to determine whether cinnamon plays a role in glucose metabolism.

In early lab studies, researchers found cinnamon increased the metabolism of glucose by about 20 times. Richard A. Anderson, M.D., from the Human Nutrition Research Center in Maryland, says a compound in cinnamon called methylhydroxy chalcone polymer (MHCP) makes fat cells more responsive to insulin. It does so by triggering the enzyme that causes insulin to bind to cells to work more efficiently. In turn, it restricts the enzyme that blocks this binding process.

Dr. Anderson says it's too early to suggest this as a treatment, but he says adding up to a teaspoon to each meal may be beneficial. He points out, "The worst that will happen is it won't do any good, and the best is that it will help dramatically." Researchers add this has the potential to be an excellent way to lower and control blood sugar levels at a very low cost.

Though clinical trials won't start in humans for six months, researchers are optimistic about the potential cinnamon has for assisting in the treatment of type 2 diabetes. According to the American Diabetes Association, there are an estimated 16 million Americans living with diabetes. About 95 percent of them have type 2 diabetes. Long-term complications of the disease include increased risk for kidney disease, nerve damage, heart disease and blindness.

Copyright © 2000 Ivanhoe Broadcast News, Inc.


Children of Nazis seeking peace with their past

Norwegian lawsuit: Many endured 'systematic torture' in mental asylums
after Germany's defeat

Carl Honor  National Post

Paul Hansen is a German war child who grew up in Oslo, Norway. This
picture of his father, Paul Lassak, is the only memento he has of his
family. The small photo is of himself.

OSLO - A lawsuit planned by a group of 140 Norwegians is set to begin
probing one of the darkest legacies of Nazi rule in occupied Europe.

Thousands of children were fathered by German troops in conquered
countries under a program intended to further the Nazis' quest to create
an Aryan "master race."

Pampered during the war, they became pariahs after Germany's defeat.
Some of the cruellest treatment was in Norway, where many children
fathered by Germans were declared to be mentally retarded, dumped in
insane asylums and may have been used as guinea pigs in secret medical

"What happened to these children after the war was systematic torture,"
says Randi Hagen Spydevold, the lawyer leading the Norwegian lawsuit,
which is seeking millions of dollars in damages from the government.

"After 50 years of silence, my clients want people to know what happened
to them, and for the state to admit its crimes."

The Norwegian case could be the tip of an iceberg. Across occupied
Europe, German soldiers fathered more than 200,000 children.

To persuade Aryan women to carry the babies to term, the SS, the elite
corps that ran concentration camps and carried out civilian massacres,
set up a network of homes called Lebensborn (source of life) where the
women could give birth in secret.

In Germany, the homes acted as Aryan incubators, where disabled infants
were quickly disposed of while blond, blue-eyed offspring were pampered.
In occupied countries, social stigma and economic need forced thousands
of mothers to hand over their babies for adoption by infertile SS

Homes were set up in Belgium, France and Luxembourg, but Norway, where
400,000 German troops were stationed after 1940, was the showcase. SS
chief Heinrich Himmler was a big fan of "Viking blood." He toured the
country's Lebensborn homes and even helped design a high-protein diet
for the children.

On Himmler's orders, Wehrmacht commanders encouraged troops to
impregnate Norwegian women, resulting in more than 9,000 war babies. SS
officers could even gain promotion by fathering Aryan children.

"Himmler thought Norway was very special with all the blond hair," says
Ms. Spydevold.

During the occupation, the Lebensborn children led comfortable lives in
Norway. But when the war ended, the backlash was more vicious than

Desperate for scapegoats, liberated Norwegians turned on the half-German
children, beating and taunting them in the streets, at school and in
government offices.

Their mothers were also ostracized. Police rounded up about 14,000 women
who had slept with German soldiers and interned them.

The country's leading mental health official declared all women
impregnated by Wehrmacht soldiers must be "mentally defective" and 80%
of their offspring were therefore retarded.

Most of the children stayed with their mothers or were adopted by foster
parents, but many -- the exact number is not known -- were thrown into
mental hospitals and asylums.

Reidun Myking, the daughter of a German marine, is still haunted by life
on the wards. At age three, she was taken from a Lebensborn centre in
Baerum, just north of Oslo, and sent to a home for the mentally
handicapped. Now 57, she remembers the other inmates weeping, babbling
and rubbing feces on the walls. Every night, the staff put her in a

"I screamed for the nurses to let me free, that I was not retarded, but
they never listened and only told me to be quiet," she says, in a slow
whisper. "I cried myself to sleep almost every night."

Bounced from institution to institution, Ms. Myking received almost no
schooling. In her 20s, she suffered a nervous breakdown and developed a
chronic psychotic illness. Today, she works part-time in a factory
canteen and lives alone in a small apartment.

"My life was stolen from me because my father was German," she says,
rolling a cigarette in her living room. "I often sit here thinking about
the person I would have been if I had had a normal family."

War children raised by their mothers or foster parents have led more
normal lives, but most still feel tormented by their parentage and the
lingering stigma attached. Paul Hansen, a war child who grew up in Oslo,
has a picture of his father, Paul Lassak, wearing his wartime uniform,
but no other memories of his family.

In a macabre twist, the lawsuit will accuse the Central Intelligence
Agency, the Norwegian army and pharmaceutical companies of using 10 war
children as guinea pigs in the 1950s and 1960s in experiments with drugs
such as LSD and mescalin. Ms. Spydevold claims to have evidence that
three or four children died during the tests.

"If this turns out to be true, then the Lebensborn story is worse than
we imagined," says Steinar Kristiansen, head of an official research
project on the war children. "We need to study this further."

Why, after so many decades of denial, half-truths and suspicion, is the
tale of Europe's war children finally being aired?

One reason is that younger people in Germany and elsewhere are less
afraid to confront the horrors of the past. Another is that the war
children themselves, now deep into middle age, are in the mood for

Though Ms. Spydevold's lawsuit may not reach the courts until next year,
the media coverage is already stirring unease in Norway, where many
people, especially in the older generation, would rather let sleeping
dogs lie.

Even half a century after the end of the war, the scars left by the Nazi
occupation run deep here.

Ms. Myking knows all about Norwegian denial. In 1980, she was tracked
down by her biological mother, with whom she formed a deep friendship.
But the rest of the family cut her off after her mother died in 1991.

"They don't even want to know I exist," she says, fighting back tears.

As Norwegians grapple with the sins of the past, their government has
sent mixed signals. Last year, the Prime Minister issued the first
public apology for "the harassment and injustice done" to the war

But the Ministry of Justice is threatening to deny them legal aid. In
addition, government legal advisors claim any crimes took place so long
ago all official liability has expired.

In a country proud of its reputation for decency, many are ashamed to
see their leaders hiding behind red tape and hair-splitting lawyers.

"I, too, used to have a glamorous image of Norway, but there is another,
darker side to this country," says Ms. Spydevold, who plans to fight the
case for free if legal aid is denied.

For most of her clients, though, the trial is less about money than
about putting the record straight -- and making peace with the past.

The recent opening of Norway's Lebensborn files -- most of those in
Germany were destroyed -- has helped many to hunt down long-lost
parents. Two organizations have sprung up for Norwegian war children,
allowing them to meet and share experiences.

Ms. Myking, who has no real friends or family, finds the network keeps
her going. Sitting in her apartment, watching the rain trickle down the
windows, she is counting the days till the case begins.

"After all these years, we deserve to be heard," she says. "We want to
be seen as a human beings, not just as the children of German soldiers."