Short Takes – May 1999

 Clinton administration can’t look Sudan
in the eye

      Leave it to the Clinton administration
to give a public relations coup to one of the most corrupt governments
in the world, Sudan. Last summer the United States destroyed a pharmaceutical
factory in Khartoum, Sudan, claiming the CIA had proof the factory was
being used to produce chemical weapons.

       The owner of the planet, Saleh
Idris, sued the United States after it seized his assets under U.S. anti-terrorism
laws. On May 3rd the U.S. Dept. of Treasury responded to the
threat of a lawsuit by Idris and unfroze all of his assets. According
to the Clinton administration, the CIA still maintains it has proof the
pharmaceutical plant was being used to produce chemical weapons but they
can’t show the evidence in court without jeopardizing unspecified U.S.
intelligence sources.

       The government isn’t getting
off that easy, though. Idris announced he plans to sue the United States
for $30 million in compensation for the destruction of the factory. Will
the United States pay $30 million to Idris rather than risk compromising
ongoing intelligence operations by actually presenting any evidence to
back up its charges? Stay tuned.

United Nations and US Census Bureau Release New Population Data and Projections

Within the past few months both the United Nations and the US Census
Bureau released important documents relating to population issues. The United
Nations released its 1998 Revision of the United Nations Population Projections,
which estimates that world population in 2050 will reach likely reach 8.9 billion
(according to its medium variant). This is down significantly from previous
years’ projections. In 1994 the UN estimated 2050’s population would reached
9.8 billion and in 1996 estimated population would reach 9.4 billion. Why does
the projected population keep falling? Because, on the positive side, fertility
keeps falling faster than previously imagined, and on the negative side, deaths
from AIDS are contributing to higher-than-expected mortality rates especially
in Africa and Asia.

The US Census Bureau recently published its annual update of the World Population
Profile. Using a different methodology from the United Nations, the Census Bureau
estimates world population will reach 9.3 billion persons by 2050. The Census
Bureau volume also provides plenty of important statistics about world population
that I’ve been adding to the Overpopulation.Com web site over the past few weeks.

If you’d like to peruse these reports for yourself, a broad summary of the
UN report is available at http://www.popin.org/pop1998/
and the entire Census Bureau report is available as an Adobe Acrobat (PDF) download
at http://www.census.gov/ipc/www/wp98.html

Almost 3 Million People A Year Killed By Malaria

The World Health Organization recently held a conference in Kenya
to find a way to control Malaria in Africa. According to WHO, malaria kills
an estimated 1.5 to 2.7 million people every year. A staggering 270 million
to 480 million people contract malaria each year. By comparison, WHO estimates
that somewhat over 40 million people have been infected with HIV worldwide since
the late 1970s, though the mortality rate for HIV is much higher — more than
11 million have died from AIDS since the late 1970s.

Africa is especially hit hard by malaria, with 90 percent of the world’s cases
occurring there. It’s no coincidence that Africa is both the poster child for
bad government and malaria, as the former contributes to the latter. As WHO
official Edwin Afari said, “They [malaria victims] die because they lack access
to health care, life-saving drugs and treated bed nets.” Of course its hard
to provide health care and lifesaving drugs in places like Ethiopia and Eritrea,
for example, which seem far more interested in fighting over their border, or
Angola where a 25-year-old civil war simply refuses to die (though the people
there are not so lucky).

But, of course, what has WHO targeted as the major health risk for the 22nd
century? Why smoking of course.

Brazil Politician Accused of Genocide for Sterilization Practices

The Pataxo Ha-Ha-Hae is a small Indian tribe in Brazil — the tribe only has
about 1,800 people left. In 1991, the Brazilian government granted the tribe
rights to over 133,000 acres of land in Brazil but after court challenges by
new settlers, only 5,000 acres were left to the tribe. By all accounts the Pataxo
Ha-Ha-Hae and the settlers are constantly involved in violent conflicts — since
1982 fifty-one Indians have died in land-related conflicts.

So imagine the surprise of the Pataxo Ha-Ha-Hae leaders when they learned
that popular politician and doctor Roland Lavigne had performed sterilization
operations on 58 Pataxo Ha-Ha-Hae members in the months before Brazil’s 1994
election. The tribal leaders call the action nothing less than genocide.

As tribe member Alcides Francisco Filho told the Associated Press, “The real
issue here is land. Lavigne is allied with the big ranchers who are occupying
our land.”

Such claims seem a bit odd since most of the women sterilized not only agreed
to it voluntarily but in turn voted for Lavigne in the election — in fact what
Lavigne does seem guilty of is vote buying. The free sterilization was used
as an incentive to entice the women.

There are certainly problems in some nations with unethical sterilization and
abortion practices (Peru and China come to mind), but this Brazil case doesn’t
seem like one of them.

Insect Rights?

Still don’t think that animal rights philosophy puts one on the slippery slope
to granting rights to just about everything that moves? Then check out
Joanne E. Lauck and Brian L. Crissey’s The Voice of the Infinite in
the Small : Revisioning the Insect-Human Connection
. This little ditty
attempts to smash the myths in Western culture about insects and seeks
to find a new more compassionate and positive relationship between humans
and insects. As one reviewer summed up Lauck’s vision:

The Voice of the Infinite in the Small is an invitation
to experience Oneness, not only with those creatures we find beautiful,
but with those that invoke our deepest fears. Once we experience that
unity, Lauck explains, our sense of self will expand and we will be able
to rediscover ourselves as part of every ecosystem and every creature
on Earth. Then we may dare to ask what part of ourselves is that we hate
and seek to eradicate? [when we, for example, try to kill pests that attack
crops]

Soon I imagine we will see groups raiding the folks who make bug zappers.

On the Lighter Side

The Onion, an online humor
magazine akin to National Lampoon only funnier, recently published a hilarious
parody of the Animal Liberation Front entitled Animal-Rights Activists
Release 71,000 Cows Into Wild
.
This isn’t the first time the Onion has parodied animal liberationists.
If you like the cow story check out Heroic PETA Commandos Kill 49,
Save Rabbit
.

Sources:

Animal-rights activists release 71,000 cows into wild. The Onion.

Heroic PETA commandos kill 49, save rabbit. The Onion.