IMPEACH GEORGE BUSH!! Mr. Infomaniac's Repository: 2005-09-25


Mr. Infomaniac's Repository

Friday, September 30, 2005

UN Hits Back at US in Report Saying Parts of America are as Poor as Third World


Published on Thursday, September 8, 2005 by the lndependent/UK
UN Hits Back at US in Report Saying Parts of America are as Poor as Third World
by Paul Vallely


Parts of the United States are as poor as the Third World, according to a shocking United Nations report on global inequality.

Claims that the New Orleans floods have laid bare a growing racial and economic divide in the US have, until now, been rejected by the American political establishment as emotional rhetoric. But yesterday's UN report provides statistical proof that for many - well beyond those affected by the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina - the great American Dream is an ongoing nightmare.

The document constitutes a stinging attack on US policies at home and abroad in a fightback against moves by Washington to undermine next week's UN 60th anniversary conference which will be the biggest gathering of world leaders in history.

The annual Human Development Report normally concerns itself with the Third World, but the 2005 edition scrutinizes inequalities in health provision inside the US as part of a survey of how inequality worldwide is retarding the eradication of poverty.

It reveals that the infant mortality rate has been rising in the US for the past five years - and is now the same as Malaysia. America's black children are twice as likely as whites to die before their first birthday.

The report is bound to incense the Bush administration as it provides ammunition for critics who have claimed that the fiasco following Hurricane Katrina shows that Washington does not care about poor black Americans. But the 370-page document is critical of American policies towards poverty abroad as well as at home. And, in unusually outspoken language, it accuses the US of having "an overdeveloped military strategy and an under-developed strategy for human security".

"There is an urgent need to develop a collective security framework that goes beyond military responses to terrorism," it continues. " Poverty and social breakdown are core components of the global security threat."

The document, which was written by Kevin Watkins, the former head of research at Oxfam, will be seen as round two in the battle between the UN and the US, which regards the world body as an unnecessary constraint on its strategic interests and actions.

Last month John Bolton, the new US ambassador to the UN, submitted 750 amendments to the draft declaration for next week's summit to strengthen the UN and review progress towards its Millennium Development Goals to halve world poverty by 2015.

The report launched yesterday is a clear challenge to Washington. The Bush administration wants to replace multilateral solutions to international problems with a world order in which the US does as it likes on a bilateral basis.

"This is the UN coming out all guns firing," said one UN insider. "It means that, even if we have a lame duck secretary general after the Volcker report (on the oil-for-food scandal), the rest of the organization is not going to accept the US bilateralist agenda."

The clash on world poverty centers on the US policy of promoting growth and trade liberalization on the assumption that this will trickle down to the poor. But this will not stop children dying, the UN says. Growth alone will not reduce poverty so long as the poor are denied full access to health, education and other social provision. Among the world's poor, infant mortality is falling at less than half of the world average. To tackle that means tackling inequality - a message towards which John Bolton and his fellow US neocons are deeply hostile.

India and China, the UN says, have been very successful in wealth creation but have not enabled the poor to share in the process. A rapid decline in child mortality has therefore not materialized. Indeed, when it comes to reducing infant deaths, India has now been overtaken by Bangladesh, which is only growing a third as fast.

Poverty could be halved in just 17 years in Kenya if the poorest people were enabled to double the amount of economic growth they can achieve at present.

Inequality within countries is as stark as the gaps between countries, the UN says. Poverty is not the only issue here. The death rate for girls in India is now 50 per cent higher than for boys. Gender bias means girls are not given the same food as boys and are not taken to clinics as often when they are ill. Fetal scanning has also reduced the number of girls born.

The only way to eradicate poverty, it says, is to target inequalities. Unless that is done the Millennium Development Goals will never be met. And 41 million children will die unnecessarily over the next 10 years.

Decline in health care

Child mortality is on the rise in the United States

For half a century the US has seen a sustained decline in the number of children who die before their fifth birthday. But since 2000 this trend has been reversed.

Although the US leads the world in healthcare spending - per head of population it spends twice what other rich OECD nations spend on average, 13 per cent of its national income - this high level goes disproportionately on the care of white Americans. It has not been targeted to eradicate large disparities in infant death rates based on race, wealth and state of residence.

The infant mortality rate in the US is now the same as in Malaysia

High levels of spending on personal health care reflect America's cutting-edge medical technology and treatment. But the paradox at the heart of the US health system is that, because of inequalities in health financing, countries that spend substantially less than the US have, on average, a healthier population. A baby boy from one of the top 5 per cent richest families in America will live 25 per cent longer than a boy born in the bottom 5 per cent and the infant mortality rate in the US is the same as Malaysia, which has a quarter of America's income.

Blacks in Washington DC have a higher infant death rate than people in the Indian state of Kerala

The health of US citizens is influenced by differences in insurance, income, language and education. Black mothers are twice as likely as white mothers to give birth to a low birthweight baby. And their children are more likely to become ill.

Throughout the US black children are twice as likely to die before their first birthday.

Hispanic Americans are more than twice as likely as white Americans to have no health cover

The US is the only wealthy country with no universal health insurance system. Its mix of employer-based private insurance and public coverage does not reach all Americans. More than one in six people of working age lack insurance. One in three families living below the poverty line are uninsured. Just 13 per cent of white Americans are uninsured, compared with 21 per cent of blacks and 34 per cent of Hispanic Americans. Being born into an uninsured household increases the probability of death before the age of one by about 50 per cent.

More than a third of the uninsured say that they went without medical care last year because of cost

Uninsured Americans are less likely to have regular outpatient care, so they are more likely to be admitted to hospital for avoidable health problems.

More than 40 per cent of the uninsured do not have a regular place to receive medical treatment. More than a third say that they or someone in their family went without needed medical care, including prescription drugs, in the past year because they lacked the money to pay.

If the gap in health care between black and white Americans was eliminated it would save nearly 85,000 lives a year. Technological improvements in medicine save about 20,000 lives a year.

Child poverty rates in the United States are now more than 20 per cent

Child poverty is a particularly sensitive indicator for income poverty in rich countries. It is defined as living in a family with an income below 50 per cent of the national average.

The US - with Mexico - has the dubious distinction of seeing its child poverty rates increase to more than 20 per cent. In the UK - which at the end of the 1990s had one of the highest child poverty rates in Europe - the rise in child poverty, by contrast, has been reversed through increases in tax credits and benefits.


© Copyright 2005 Independent News & Media (UK) Ltd.

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Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Hurricane Bush



Published on Tuesday, September 13, 2005 by CommonDreams.org
Hurricane Bush
by Sacha Boegem

A distraught black man holds his children close to him as he tearfully describes having to choose to save his kids over his wife when their home tore in half from the savage forces of Hurricane Katrina. The reporter’s voice cracks when she asks the man his wife’s name, in the hope she can be found. With all the shocking, heart-breaking images of a decimated gulf coast flashing across our television screens, it is the individual stories of suffering and misfortune that most strikingly capture and encapsulate the tragedy of it all.

But nothing prepared us for what would happen to the people of New Orleans after the furious hurricane winds subsided. Tens of thousands of mostly poor, black citizens trapped on rooftops, in attics, in hospitals, in the convention center, and in the Superdome. Trapped, day after awful day without food, water, medicine, working toilets, security, or help of any kind. Not in America we thought. Not in the land of the free, the richest nation on earth, the global superpower. Not here at home. But we were wrong.

The most catastrophic natural disaster in American history, coming just a few short years after the most catastrophic terrorist attack in American history, was a rude awakening to the harsh reality that we have more than just evil-doing terrorists to contend with. And if the government’s response to Hurricane Katrina is any guide to how prepared our government is for the mounting natural and man-made threats we face, we should be concerned.

No country’s citizens should have to wait nearly a week for food and water to reach them when tragedy strikes on their own soil. As the government fiddled, arguing over lines of authority and bureaucratic paperwork, Americans died. As the president vacationed and visited with wealthy political donors in San Diego, Americans drowned. As Michael Brown - the obviously unqualified leader of the Federal Emergency Management Agency - professed ignorance about the mass of people struggling for survival at the New Orleans Convention Center, people perished.

Ultimately, no matter how hard Karl Rove, Tom Delay, Dennis Hastert, and the president himself may twist and spin, Americans understand that when disaster strikes at home, the buck stops at the president’s desk. President Bush, tragically and deplorably, failed the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Anything he does now merely reminds us of all that could have been done earlier, when time was of the essence, when so many American lives could have been saved.

It didn’t need to be this way. If only FEMA had continued to be treated as a first-class emergency management agency, and not downgraded, defunded, and devalued after 9/11. If only President Bush had selected a professional emergency manager to lead the agency, and not an old friend’s college buddy. If only common sense prevailed and our leaders recognized that natural disasters can inflict as much or even more pain, suffering and economic destruction as a cataclysmic terrorist attack.

But the shock of 9/11 caused our leaders to lose sight of the overall picture in their zeal to pursue terrorists and occupy Iraq. The president’s reactionary and narrow-minded domestic and international policies since then have exposed America to countless more threats and dangers – from natural disasters, to environmental pollution, global warming, dependence on foreign oil, fiscal instability, war, growing poverty, diminished access to health care, and social upheaval. Perhaps most disturbing, the drip drip drip of American casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan continues, all while the government doggedly hides images of the heroes’ coffins returning to U.S. soil (and now the bodies of Katrina’s victims as well). Americans have sacrificed much blood and treasure to the war on terror, and yet something has gone terribly wrong in America - let’s call it Hurricane Bush.

Our unity and trust in those who led us in the days after 9/11 caused a presidential hurricane: a whirlwind of legislation, executive orders, covert operations, and even an unprovoked invasion of a nation that we all know had nothing to do with 9/11 nor had weapons of mass destruction. Although the president’s initial obsession with the threat of terrorism was justified after 9/11, the president’s policies have diminished America’s ability to address a wide range of threats, many of which are far more immediate and insidious than a terrorist attack. The victims of Hurricane Katrina don’t have the luxury of worrying about terrorists. They couldn’t even count on their government to come to their rescue in a time of crisis.

Some voices warned of sacrificing our rights and freedoms in the name of security. Some deplored the lack of attention to domestic security needs. Some saw countless social problems being ignored, from health care costs, to poverty, to infrastructure needs. But those voices have been ignored so far. Some of them have even been accused of being unpatriotic, or of giving comfort to America’s enemies. Nothing could be further from the truth. Maybe if these voices had been listened to, America would not have squandered billions of dollars on unaffordable tax cuts for the wealthiest among us and hundreds of billions more on an elective war.

Instead, it took a national disaster to stop our leaders (at least temporarily) from giving yet another huge tax cut - the fourth in as many years - to America’s economic elite – this time in the guise of eliminating the spin-doctor named “death tax.” Terminating the estate tax would benefit less than one percent of Americans (only the very wealthiest), and yet would further explode the budget deficit and cause extremely painful cuts in domestic programs. Meanwhile, poverty has risen every year for the last four years, with as many as 20% of America’s children living in abject poverty. Consumer protections and civil rights are being curtailed, the safety net continues to be undermined, and opportunity in the land of opportunity is in danger of shrinking.

Americans should not have to watch their fellow citizens drown in their own sewage because of our national leaders’ incompetence, insensitivity, or both.

Hurricane Katrina has destroyed a region. Hurricane Bush threatens to destroy a nation.


Sacha Boegem is a recent graduate of Tulane Law School in New Orleans, Louisiana. His article, “9/11, Bush’s Only Hope,” was published by CommonDreams.org in March of 2004. Before attending law school he spent several years in Washington, D.C. as a White House intern and as an associate editor of a premier internet publication covering American politics. Comments or questions can be emailed to him at sboegem33@yahoo.com.

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Tuesday, September 27, 2005

After Katrina Fiasco, Time for Bush to Go

Published on Thursday, September 8, 2005 by the Baltimore Sun
After Katrina Fiasco, Time for Bush to Go
by Gordon Adams

The disastrous federal response to Katrina exposes a record of incompetence, misjudgment and ideological blinders that should lead to serious doubts that the Bush administration should be allowed to continue in office.

When taxpayers have raised, borrowed and spent $40 billion to $50 billion a year for the past four years for homeland security but the officials at the Federal Emergency Management Agency cannot find their own hands in broad daylight for four days while New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast swelter, drown and die, it is time for them to go.

When funding for water works and levees in the gulf region is repeatedly cut by an administration that seems determined to undermine the public responsibility for infrastructure in America, despite clear warnings that the infrastructure could not survive a major storm, it seems clear someone is playing politics with the public trust.

When rescue and medical squads are sitting in Manassas and elsewhere in northern Virginia and foreign assistance waits at airports because the government can't figure out how to insure the workers, how to use the assistance or which jurisdiction should be in charge, it is time for the administration to leave town.

When President Bush stays on vacation and attends social functions for two days in the face of disaster before finally understanding that people are starving, crying out and dying, it is time for him to go.

When FEMA officials cannot figure out that there are thousands stranded at the New Orleans convention center - where people died and were starving - and fussed ineffectively about the same problems in the Superdome, they should be fired, not praised, as the president praised FEMA Director Michael Brown in New Orleans last week.

When Mr. Bush states publicly that "nobody could anticipate a breach of the levee" while New Orleans journalists, Scientific American, National Geographic, academic researchers and Louisiana politicians had been doing precisely that for decades, right up through last year and even as Hurricane Katrina passed over, he should be laughed out of town as an impostor.

When repeated studies of New Orleans make it clear that tens of thousands of people would be unable to evacuate the city in case of a flood, lacking both money and transportation, but FEMA makes no effort before the storm to commandeer buses and move them to safety, it is time for someone to be given his walking papers.

When the president makes Sen. Trent Lott's house in Pascagoula, Miss., the poster child for rebuilding while hundreds of thousands are bereft of housing, jobs, electricity and security, he betrays a careless insensitivity that should banish him from office.

When the president of the United States points the finger away from the lame response of his administration to Katrina and tries to finger local officials in New Orleans and Baton Rouge, La., as the culprits, he betrays the unwillingness of this administration to speak truth and hold itself accountable. As in the case of the miserable execution of policy in Iraq, Mr. Bush and Karl Rove always have some excuse for failure other than their own misjudgments.

We have a president who is apparently ill-informed, lackadaisical and narrow-minded, surrounded by oil baron cronies, religious fundamentalist crazies and right-wing extremists and ideologues. He has appointed officials who give incompetence new meaning, who replace the positiverole of government with expensive baloney.

They rode into office in a highly contested election, spouting a message of bipartisanship but determined to undermine the federal government in every way but defense (and, after 9/11, one presumed, homeland security). One with Grover Norquist, they were determined to shrink Washington until it was "small enough to drown in a bathtub." Katrina has stripped the veil from this mean-spirited strategy, exposing the greed, mindlessness and sheer profiteering behind it.

It is time to hold them accountable - this ugly, troglodyte crowd of Capital Beltway insiders, rich lawyers, ideologues, incompetents and their strap-hangers should be tarred, feathered and ridden gracefully and mindfully out of Washington and returned to their caves, clubs in hand.



Gordon Adams, director of security policy studies at the Elliott School of
International Affairs at George Washington University, was senior White
House budget official for national security in the Clinton administration.

© 2005 Baltimore Sun

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This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

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