Friday, December 10, 2004

Little known facts and depressing statistics

Little Known Fact #1

Remember that intelligence bill I thought was so important? Well, I still do. But here's something I didn't know. I was under the impression that two House committee chairmen were blocking the bill (by somehow keeping it in their respective committees, thus proving my ignorance of how laws are made). What the press seemed to leave out at the time was that the congressmen had no power to block this bill. Instead, House Speaker Dennis Hastert was blocking the bill because of the objections raised by the two congressmen. The bill had enough votes between the Democrats and Republicans who supported it in the House, but Hastert wanted the majority of his party behind it. So this is what it came down to: the bill would have passed without those two committee chairman (and their congressional friends), and it would have passed easily. It nearly failed to come to a vote not because the bill didn't have enough support in the House, but because it didn't have enough support in the Republican part of the House. So much for putting the country (and national defense!) before party interests.

Little Known Fact #2
Some years ago, China set a one child limit on all its families, hoping to curb its exploding population. As a result, many families are opting to use abortion, abandonment and infanticide in order to "secure" a boy as their only child. In a new book by political scientists at the University of Kent and Brigham Young University (Bare Branches), they argue that an increasingly disproportionate male population could leave China "more prone to political instability, violent crime and military aggression." China's already a bit aggressive when it comes to Taiwan, and shows no easing on its grip over Tibet. Oh, and unless you forgot, they have nukes. And quite possibly the largest army in the world. Girls are nice for a variety of reasons, but one effect they have on us men is that they tend keep us from blowing everything up. Will someone official please say something critical about China? Or will we will toe the line until we can't make any more money off of them? (Or maybe until they nuke the shit out of us?)

Little Known Fact #3
Russell Mokhiber, who writes for the DC based-Corporate Crime Reporter, is my hero. He tends to ask these wonderfully erudite questions at White House briefings with Press Secretary Scott McClellan. And Scott tends to ignore, dodge or BS his way out of them. But Mr. Mokhiber continues the good fight. Here's an example of his questions and McClellan's mock honesty, with links to even more press briefings.

Depressing Statistics
It's been all over the news, but in case you missed it, the United Nations children's fund has reported that more than half of the world's children are being denied a safe and healthy childhood due to the effects of war, poverty, disease and AIDS. Okay, you say. Big deal. I already knew that. So let's get depressed:

~more than 1 billion children are growing up hungry and unhealthy
~one in six children are severely hungry
~one in seven has no access to a health care (a hospital or clinic)
~one in five have no safe water to drink
~one in three have no toilet or sanitation facilities at home
~640 million have no adequate shelter
~140 million, the majority being girls, have never been to school
~29,158 children under the age of 5 are dying from preventable causes everyday
~in 2003, more than 500,000 under the age of 15 died of AIDS
~while some 630,000 contracted HIV, most during pregnancy, birth or breast-feeding
~nearly one-half of the 3.6 million conflict/war related deaths in the 1990s were children

But by all means, Mr. President, let's continue to cut those taxes and borrow money to fund our "operation" in Iraq.

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