Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Various and Assorted

This should be the most important thing in the world right now. And the fact that it's not, that I only found a report about it in the BBC, is stomach-dropping. But the fact is that we don't much care about poor starving children, as much as we might enjoy invoking them during the dinner hour with our picky children.

And it's obvious that we don't much care about them. If we did, they wouldn't be starving to death. What I'm talking about is the latest UNICEF report, which tells us that "the number of children under five who are underweight has remained virtually unchanged since 1990" despite efforts to the contrary. Sometimes numbers are just numbers--dull. But sometimes numbers illuminate issues. Here are some:
  • Poor nutrition contributes to 5.6 million child deaths each year
  • 27% of children in developing nations do not have enough to eat--that's 146 million kids
  • Almost half the children under five in India are under weight--57 million children
  • A lack of iodine in diets leaves 37 million newborns vulnerable to learning disabilities each year
An accompanying article focuses on the situation in India. The story is heartbreaking, particularly knowing that many of the babies involved could be fed easily through breastfeeding, thus avoiding the problem of mothers who are illiterate and do not know how to properly prepare formula. And UNICEF says that main reason for the malnutrition is not a lack of food. It's a combination of social problems, like the lack of status of women, children bearing children, and bearing them with little space between births.

You could help UNICEF tonight instead of heading out to Applebees. UNICEF.

The other most vulnerable inhabitants of the world are our animals. And their vulnerability increases year by year, as more and more animals are affected by our wanton ways of living. This year's list of animals that are joining the endangered or near endangered list include polar bears (loss of ice--think global warming isn't affecting anyone?), hippos, and several types of sharks.

Since I'm enamored of numbers today (that's probably because I successfully helped my daughter with her algebra homework last night--major freaking miracle, that!), here's another. 56% of the species of fish that reside in the Mediterranean are on the list. Geez. We really just don't give a rip about how our actions affect the world around us, do we? It's all about us and our convenience. God forbid we experience the lack thereof.

Yet it looks as though we ARE going to have to experience some inconvenience. At least in our pocketbooks. To no one's surprise, the Republicans have quietly dropped the notion of taxing big oil. Read all about it here.

Unlike the Republicans, recent immigrants most certainly were NOT quiet yesterday, marching one million strong across the nation to claim their rights. I'm still with them, mostly. No, for crying out loud, don't make those illegals into felons. What a ridiculous solution to the issue. And the guest worker program seems like thinly-veiled slavery to me.

Funny. I've spent ten minutes trying to pound out my problem with this, but none of my reasons for not being 100% on this are making sense. Can't afford to take so many on (but working illegal immigrants are paying their way, taxes and all). Don't like the sense of entitlement just because they're here and paying their way (oh, but they ARE here and paying their way, contributing to our society so why aren't they entitled?).

Never mind. Legalize the current immigrants. Make sure they learn English (too bad we can't set the same standard for current citizens, getting tired of hearing my childrens' friends who seem incapable of decent grammar). Set high quotas in the future to allow more in legally. And forget the damn fence.




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