From this week’s report by the World Food Program, as reported by Relief Web :

North Korea: additional distribution cuts will have to take place from May onward, with primary school children affected in the first instance; [resolving the acute shortage of] Dry Skimmed Milk is critical to avoid extended closure of most Local Food Production factories; the proportion of children [suffering from] chronic malnutrition (height-for-age), has dropped from 62 percent to 42 percent; one-third of mothers are malnourished and anaemic, a factor contributing to child malnutrition

Ethiopia: the number of those in need will increase to over 11 million people by mid-year; 76,500 IDPs in Tigray still cannot return to their land to resume farming activities because the border demarcation process and landmine clearance

Eritrea: the Azmera rains completely failed and the main rains arrived extremely late, resulting in near total crop failure; WFP still faces a shortfall of 195,000 tons of food in order to meet the needs of the vulnerable groups

Uganda: WFP food requirements amount to 180,250 tons for the year 2003 [to meet] the needs of 800,000 IDPs and 150,000 refugees in 66 settlements

Zimbabwe: the armyworm outbreak has spread to six new provinces – the pest poses a threat to the late-planted cereal crop and to grazing lands, particularly in Matabeleland where 75 percent of boreholes and most rivers remain dry; WFP distributed 27,500 tons of food to 2.4 million beneficiaries

Afghanistan: Last week the security situation was calm across the country, except for some tensions in the five poppy cultivated districts of Nangahar province, where UN missions remain suspended; UN missions to areas southeast of Qalat in the Southern province of Zabul have been suspended; An explosion outside the UNHCR Office was reported in Kandahar; Fighting occurred in Hilmand province; [last week] almost 508,700 vulnerable people received more than 1,760 tons of food through various WFP activities; WFP expected to face [severe shortfalls in food aid] at the end of June

It goes on and on and on – pages and pages covering, this week alone, 16 countries whose people are lurching from crisis to crisis, dependent for their very survival on international volunteer agencies and the United Nations. Perhaps if Fratboy Deserter and his cronies were forced to spend a year working with the front lines of the NGOs that do all this desparate, last-resort, endless and thankless work, they’d realize why the world thinks there are more important priorities than bombing Iraq.

Some other news that won’t make the front page (or in some papers, any page) so that mainstream media can focus on ratcheting Americans up to new levels of fear, xenophobia and isolationist and unilateralist fervor:

  • The WHO confirmed that the outbreak in the Congo that has taken about 70 lives is Ebola. The entire area has been quarantined, though officials are worried about who may have left the area before that happened. Local cultural taboos are preventing blood testing, and villagers are blaming witches, teachers and nurses for the outbreak. The disease has a fatality rate of up to 90% and is incurable. Talk about a WMD.
  • ZNet carries a Independent (London) report that the U.S. and British missiles that are about to rain down on Iraq will result in massive outbreaks of disease and deformities from radioactive fallout due to their spent uranium content . Quoting Professor  Doug  Rokke, the US Army physicist responsible for cleaning up Kuwait: “I am like many people in southern Iraq. I have 5,000  times the recommended level of radiation in my body. Most of my team are now dead…When a tank fired its shells; each round carried over 4,500g of solid uranium. What happened in the Gulf was a form of nuclear warfare.” In 1991, a United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority document reported that if 8 per cent of the depleted uranium fired in the Gulf War was inhaled,  it could cause 500,000 potential deaths. In the promised attack on Iraq, the United States will apparently again use depleted uranium.

And that’s the news.

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  1. Rayne says:

    Immoral, isn’t it? We’re unable to care for all the starving yet we can spend the equivalent of multiple nations’ GDP on weapons? Unable to care for the sick and diseased, but unwilling to spend a dime on reproductive planning to stabilize or reduce those in need of healthcare? Disgusting.

  2. Dave Pollard says:

    It is kind of amazing. You’re probably too young to remember Vietnam, but this is giving me a terrible sense of deja vu (oops, that’s French isn’t it)

  3. Rayne says:

    No, not too young at all. Remember watching Cronkrite and the body count on the evening news every night. I have a sneaking suspicion that GWB learned what I was taught in economics: war is great economic stimulus – stuff gets consumed and goes away. How pathetic.

  4. Dave Pollard says:

    The irony is that this ‘economic stimulus’ is illusionary (illusory?): short term employment and production increases, leaving behind an empty hole. In the longer term, aside from spin-offs from scientific advances, there are no winners in war, even economically. That’s the subject for my next essay.

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