Short Takes: News From All Over: March 10, 2005

UN Mine Action Service Launches Powerful PSA
By Joe Kovacs, WorldNetDaily
It’s a soccer-mom’s worst nightmare. Their all-American daughters are playing a match in bucolic suburbia. One of the girls on the blue team scores a goal then steps on a landmine and is blown up. Chaos ensues. It’s not the lead-in to the latest gore-fest cop show on television; it’s a UN public service announcement (PSA) for which US networks are refusing to donate time. — Marca Bradt

The African Cliff
By Alex Steffen, WorldChanging
WorldChanging‘s Alex Steffen posted a stark graph from the ‘2005 Economic Report of the President’ that captures the devastation wrought by HIV/AIDS, poverty, and oppression in Africa. The image shows how life expectancies in five African nations seem to fall off a precipitous cliff around the 1980s. But as Ethan Zuckerman points out in a thoughtful response, five countries don’t constitute Africa, and dire statistics often contribute to a sense of hopelessness regarding the continent. He uses UN reports to tally the data from 44 sub-Saharan countries, finding that in more than half, life expectancy has actually increased. — Hannah Lobel

Female Genital Mutilation Widespread in North Iraq
By Golnaz Esfandiari, Albion Monitor
More than 60 percent of the women in northern Iraq have been ‘circumcised.’ This staggering figure was the result of a survey conducted by Wadi, a German organization posted in northern Iraq. According to the World Health Organization, female genital mutilation (FGM) is often referred to as circumcision and involves partial to total amputation of external female genitalia, including the pleasure center of the clitoris. A litany of physical and emotional scars ensues after the mutilation as well as a heightened risk of HIV and other potentially fatal health complications. An estimated 130 million females worldwide have undergone this procedure and each year about two million girls are at risk of undergoing FGM. — Marca Bradt

Welcome to Doomsday
By Bill Moyers, The New York Review of Books
The PBS veteran takes a hard look at the effect of ‘political religion’ on environmental policy. Moyers traces the virulent strain of ‘End Times’ belief, which holds environmental degradation as a sign of the imminent Apocalypse (i.e., a good thing). The influence such believers yield on the current administration is enough to make Moyers question his lifelong optimism. — Hannah Lobel

Driving Food Home Can Cost the Earth
By Andy Coghlan,
Buying local in the environmental movement has always been common practice, but a study by Jules Pretty of the University of Essex bucks this notion by looking at the environmental burdens of local food transportation. He suggests that ‘air-miles’ — the cost of importing foodstuffs — may not be as ecologically detrimental as commonly thought when the hidden costs of farm pollution, consumer transportation of groceries, and government subsidies are considered. Pretty’s solution? Van delivery: ‘One trip going to 20 houses is better than each house making a return trip to the supermarket.’ — Grace Hanson

The Midwest Union Rollback
By David Bacon, In These Times
Taking their cues from the Bush administration, a few Midwestern governors are rolling back collective bargaining rights for public employees — the number one growth area for unions in the last decade. — Hannah Lobel

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