Another blow for experts

I haven’t quite gathered my thoughts, but I found this an amazing story on so many levels:

Ending Famine, Simply by Ignoring the Experts
Published: December 2, 2007

LILONGWE, Malawi — Malawi hovered for years at the brink of famine. After a disastrous corn harvest in 2005, almost five million of its 13 million people needed emergency food aid.

But this year, a nation that has perennially extended a begging bowl to the world is instead feeding its hungry neighbors. It is selling more corn to the World Food Program of the United Nations than any other country in southern Africa and is exporting hundreds of thousands of tons of corn to Zimbabwe.

In Malawi itself, the prevalence of acute child hunger has fallen sharply. In October, the United Nations Children’s Fund sent three tons of powdered milk, stockpiled here to treat severely malnourished children, to Uganda instead. “We will not be able to use it!” Juan Ortiz-Iruri, Unicef’s deputy representative in Malawi, said jubilantly.

Farmers explain Malawi’s extraordinary turnaround — one with broad implications for hunger-fighting methods across Africa — with one word: fertilizer.

Over the past 20 years, the World Bank and some rich nations Malawi depends on for aid have periodically pressed this small, landlocked country to adhere to free market policies and cut back or eliminate fertilizer subsidies, even as the United States and Europe extensively subsidized their own farmers. But after the 2005 harvest, the worst in a decade, Bingu wa Mutharika, Malawi’s newly elected president, decided to follow what the West practiced, not what it preached.

Read the rest here.

If I can, I’ll come back later and be more intelligent about it. If I can’t, I know that your intelligence will fill in the blanks.


What is a “traveling family”?

Despite the fact that we live in a vaccine age, Britain is facing an outbreak of measles, a disease can cause life long damage to its victims:

Parents were urged today to give their children the MMR jab before they returned to school after figures showed measles cases have more than trebled in the last 11 weeks.

There have been 480 confirmed cases in the UK so far this year, compared to 756 cases during the whole of 2006 – the highest year on record.

The Health Protection Agency (HPA) said the number of confirmed cases of children suffering measles was higher than expected for this time of year and urged parents to ensure their children were vaccinated.

Up until June 10 this year, 136 cases of measles, which can be life-threatening, had been confirmed by the HPA.

But as of today, just over 11 weeks later, this had more than trebled to 480.

Dr Mary Ramsay, a consultant epidemiologist at the HPA, said: “Over the summer holidays we have seen more cases of measles being reported than we would normally expect.

“This means it is crucial that children are fully immunised with two doses of MMR before they return to school.

“Measles is a highly infectious and dangerous illness and, as there is increased close contact in schools, it can spread easily.”

The HPA said while was difficult to confirm reasons why there has been such a jump in recent weeks, a high number of cases has been noted in communities where vaccine uptake is lower, including travelling families. (Emphasis mine.)

My question, stated in my post title is, what is a “traveling family”? Is this a British term that everyone there understands or is it a PC euphemism aimed at obscuring, not clarifying, an important fact related to British public health? As it stands, it has no meaning for me at all. Does it for you?

UPDATE:  By the way, avoiding vaccinations isn’t just a British problem.  I’m a big believer in vaccinations.  There’s no doubt that some carry with them risky side effects, but these side effects pale compared to the risks of an epidemic.  I know some people like to point out that there are no longer epidemics, so they no longer need vaccinations, but these people miss the point that they are benefiting from herd immunity:  that is, if enough kids in the herd have taken the risk of a vaccination, an epidemic cannot take hold, which protects the ones who refuse the shot.  The thing is, if the latter become the largest proportion of the population, herd immunity vanishes.  Mother nature quickly takes advantage of that fact.  The huge resurgence in Nigeria of polio, one of the historic childhood scourges, after a Muslim paranoia attack about the West stopped the vaccination program, is a good example of that fact.

They do the blogging, so I don’t have to

The great thing about a quality blogroll is that, even when my well is dry, those whom I consider my blog friends are turning out lots of interesting stuff. I recommend to you all the people on my blog roll, but I thought I’d highlight a few posts that I find of special interest today.

A lot of my friends are blogging about immigration. Thomas has a lengthy, but very accessible post, about the obvious dangers of a bill that is so long, along with asides about the advance of globalization over a sense of Americanism, and President Bush’s good will, which is severely compromised by ignorance. The Futurist, in a very un-PC way, suggests that immigration is a good thing, if we’d start doing immigration that benefits America, rather than benefiting everywhere else. Incidentally, a very different take on the benefits we receive from Mexican labor, as well as the reason for that labor forces’ presence here, can be found in this Si Frumkin newsletter. It doesn’t justify either the current situation, which is an anarchic border, nor does it promote the immigration bill, which is a tainted document, but it throws some useful facts in the mix. (The same newsletter is noteworthy for a long article about Africa’s uniqueness — something that makes it resistant to Western aid and that may, indeed, make Western aid either pointless or counter-productive.)

Global warming is another hot topic. We all laughed (sort of), when it was pointed out that Gore and Edwards and the Hollywood types who preach environmentalism are energy hogs who try to buy their way out of their excessive consumption. Stop the ACLU makes explicit the flip side to this nasty little joke, which is the fact that a lot of “green” polices hurt the poor, quite badly.

The situation in Gaza is also taking up some blogging energy. Indeed, Soccer Dad has so many good posts on the subject, I’m not even going to try to link to each one. I just suggest, very strongly, that you toddle over there and read the last few days worth of posts he’s done. The same holds true for Gail’s roster of Gaza posts at her site, Crossing the Rubicon. Too many good posts to link to. Just read them all. Robert Avrech, at Seraphic Secret, has his own acidic comments about the goings-on in Gaza, as well as about the media’s very morally relaxed attitude towards the slaughter.

I’ve also already written about the media blaming everything in Gaza on Israel. Mere Rhetoric highlights how evil Israel really is: apparently the Supreme Court is insisting that the Israelis, who already fund Arab schools, fund them even more.

By the way, is it me, or is there something almost comedically staged, and frighteningly media complicit, about the photographs coming out of Gaza? If you haven’t thought about it, check out this picture, and this, and this. Indeed, the only real looking picture I’ve seen is this one. If there is something comedic in Gaza coverage, it starts at the top, with a newspaper that believes itself to be the premier news source in the world: The New York Times. Neo-Neocon takes on the rather bizarre reporting the Times has given to Hamas’ bloody civil war in Gaza.

You can’t talk about Gaza without talking about Iran, whose fine Italian hand (or should we nowadays call it a fine Iranian hand) is behind Gaza, behind Lebanon, behind Syria, behind Iraq, indeed behind just about all major Islamic initiatives against the United States and its proxy, Israel. Ocean Guy has a truly excellent post about the unilateral Cold War Iran has been waging against us since 1979, a war mirrored by America’s continued ostrich-like avoidance of an obvious situation. Fortunately for us, rising high on a type of hubris unpinned with fear, the Iranian government may be busy shooting itself in the foot with ever more severe crackdowns on its already beleaguered citizens. Laer hopes that we’re there to take advantage of the fallout.

From Iran, it’s only a hop, skip and a jump to Jimmy Carter, whose woefully ineffective response to the Iran crisis in 1979 set up the Cold War currently playing out to America’s great detriment. At News Snipet ‘Blog, Jack reminds us just how horrible his presidency really was.

Taxes anyone? If we don’t watch out, acting under the radar, the Dems are planning on giving us Oh, so many of them. Rhymes with Right explains.

I haven’t forgotten the war, of course. Nor has One Marine, who republishes a military press release (somehow the major papers forgot to cover this one) reminding us that victory is not instantaneous, and that we need to give the war a chance. And if you’re taking about the war, you’re also talking about the anti-War. In that regard, Greyhawk exposes one of those peace activists who joins the military specifically to garner the headline that “soldiers are opposed to the war.” The Confederate Yankee also explains why there may be some problems getting weapons to our troops, and it’s not money, it’s ignorance and fear.

I didn’t blog a lot about Mike Nifong, neither when he was persecuting the Duke defendants nor when he was trying to defend his own heinous conduct. However, at Old War Dogs, I do believe that Russ Vaughn has the fitting epitaph to this disgraceful chapter in American political history.

Religion remains a hot topic. Today, I liked Neptunus Lex’s challenge to lecturer Jessica Stern’s attempt to paint as equivalent modern Islam, Christianity and Judaism when it comes to religious violence. I’ll be the first to agree that Judaism and Christianity historically have blood on their hands, but I don’t live in the past, whether it’s Joshua taking down Jericho, the Spanish Inquisition, or witch burning. I’m in the here and now, and the bloody religion around me isn’t either Judaism or Christianity. At least one British man is absolutely fed up with the “Islam is a religion of peace” or, as I like to call it, a Religion of Pieces because of its bomb-throwing predeliction, and he’s come out with a video that is savage in describing what modern Islam is like in the West, and how it works to shut down Western opposition to its worst excesses. This is one very righteously angry man — and I say righteously because Britain right now is on the losing side of a propaganda war, headed by the BBC, with British culture losing big-time to Islamic demands.

And of course, there’s Hollywood. With his usual thoroughness, Curt, at Flopping Aces, lets us know just where Hollywood is going with its war movies, and it’s no World War II story. While WWII Hollywood was instrumental in keeping up American moral, modern Hollywood remains focused on proving that America is evil. It’s not just the new Angelina Jolie movie about Daniel Pearl, which is being promoted through CAIR (agendas anyone?), it’s a whole series of movies that take aim at America, showing its wars as bad, its soldiers as evil, and its intelligence as suspect.

On the lighter, even more uplifting side, I never would have heard of Hayley Westenra’s Amazing Grace, if Ymarsakar hadn’t heard of her first. The music is lovely, lovely, lovely. Hayley has a really old fashioned voice: pure, clear, no whining. As for the less uplifting side of lighter stuff, you can’t miss with Steve’s straightforward identification of his “Bad Jokes.” I’m still giggling. I bet my kids would giggle too if I followed Mrs. Happy Housewife’s prescription for a surprise bedtime.

By the way, I missed honoring Flag Day at my blog (sorry), but Mike’s America did such a lovely tribute that, even a couple of days after the fact, it’s still worth checking out.

Naming names

All the early reports of the riots at Paris’ Gare de Nord train station — and most of the subsequent ones, as well — have referred to those ubiquitous “youths” as the troublemakers. (And if you’ve ever seen the movie “My Cousin Vinny,” every time you hear the word “youths,” you want to giggle.) This is London, however, is finally naming names or, rather, national origins:

Many of the rioters appeared to be of African or North African origin.

Also, despite reports I’ve read about police brutality being the problem (i.e., that the police were too rough with the original fare dodger), it looks as if, aside from breaking the law by dodging the fare, the original malfeasor, who has a long record, tried a little brutality himself:

The fare dodger, who punched one ticket inspector, has a lengthy criminal record, interior minister Francois Baroin said.

Police, who made 13 arrests, said he was an illegal immigrant from Congo who has challenged efforts to expel him. He was convicted in 2004 for insulting a magistrate.

Note the “illegal immigrant” part of the equation when it comes to describing the man who started it all. I rather wonder about the immigrant status of the rest of the “youths” involved in this by now typical Paris kerfuffle between the police and these African and North African immigrants.

On a related topic, Mr. Bookworm and I are about 2/3 of the way through Leonardo DiCaprio’s movie Blood Diamond. The reviews were a little sour, but I think it’s a good movie for two reasons: First, it has DiCaprio, a man I think is one of the best actors around. I like watching him, and I think he’s matured gracefully from a little boy to an actor of substance. I like watching him so much that I assiduously ignore any stories about him — his lifestyle or politics — so that I won’t be so soured on him that I stop watching his movies. I did catch, though, that he has an Israel girlfriend, which indicates, although it doesn’t prove, that he’s not an anti-Semite.

Second, the movie portrays really well a vital fact we all tend to forget. As Mr. Bookworm inelegantly stated, “Africa is a s**thole.” While there do seem to be pockets of civility, for the most part, Africa is a continent that catapults wildly from one natural or man made disaster to another, without pause, and always with the highest number of brutally abused victims, especially children. Some might think the movie exaggerates the terrors of rebel warfare (this time in Sierra Leone), but I’ve read enough articles and stories over the last several years to believe that, if anything, this blood-drenched movie is weak on portraying real life in the most degraded parts of Africa.

Keith Richburg, an African-American, was only telling the truth (and presciently in many ways) when he wrote his 1998 book Out of America : a Black Man Confronts Africa. Having served as the African bureau chief for a major American newspaper (I can’t remember which one right now), he makes the very un-PC admission that he is incredibly grateful to be a black man in America, rather than Africa. He holds to this belief despite the fact that it was the evils of slavery several hundred years ago that resulted in his ancestors’ being transported from one land to another. In other words, his ancestors suffered so that he could live. Incidentally, the book is also a great indictment of the African-American political leaders who resolutely turn a blind eye to a lot of the worst dictators in Africa so as to score political points at home.

Swords and ploughshares

Soccer Dad ruminates about the different ways in which at least one Ethiopian and all Palestinians handle the tools of war.

Biological weapons on children’s backs

My blog title is an exaggeration.  The hardline Islamists in Nigeria who are denying children polio vaccinations are not planning on creating a worldwide polio epidemic, or even a pan-African epidemic.  They are just operating on a paranoid, anti-Western intellectual model that doesn’t have a problem with sacrificing children to religion induced paranoia:

Kenya has reported its first polio case in 22 years with the infection of a 3-year-old Somali refugee girl marking a new setback in the global effort to eradicate the crippling disease, officials said Tuesday.

The case brings to 26 the number of countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East that have been reinfected since a 2003 vaccine boycott by hard-line Nigerian Islamic clerics who claimed that the polio vaccine was part of a U.S.-led plot to render Nigerian Muslims infertile or infect them with AIDS.

You can read the rest of this sad story here.

Beware of peacekeepers bearing gifts

The popular image of the peacekeepers who travel to troubled regions is of a legion of selfless Mother Theresas, putting aside the comforts of their First World lives to aid those most in need.  And that image may well be true for the greater number of them. Unfortunately, one of Africa's many plagues is parasites who, under the guise of being UN peacemakers or representatives of NGOs, come to prey on the most vulnerable:

Young girls in Liberia are still being sexually exploited by aid workers and peacekeepers despite pledges to stamp out such abuse, Save the Children says.

Girls as young as eight are being forced to have sex in exchange for food by workers for local and international agencies, according to its report.

The agency says such abuse is continuing as people displaced by the civil war return to their villages.

The UN in Liberia said it would investigate specific allegations.

The United Nations promised to put safeguards in place after sexual abuse in the refugee camps of West Africa was first revealed four years ago.

But a study by Save the Children, which involved speaking to more than 300 people in camps for people displaced by the war, found that abuse was still widespread.

The report said that all of the respondents clearly stated that more than half of the girls in their locations were affected.

Girls from the age of eight to 18 years were being sold for sex, "commonly referred to as 'man business'," the report noted.

The same article goes on to detail other indignities and abuses aidworkers, teachers and government leaders heap on girls and young women who are entirely dependent on them for survival. 

I'll point out as I always do after passing along this type of information that NOW, and other Western women's groups, are conspicuously silent regarding these acts of misogyny.  Apparently all their energy is currently being used to put forward the economically ludicrous notion of comparable worth. 

Hat tip:  Laer, who is taking a break from Cheat-Seeking Missiles, but who rightly felt it was important that this story be heard. 

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