June 2006 Archives
June 26, 2006
This story has been lingering in the back of my mind all day....
Journalist Hayatullah Khan took a photo of something Pakistan's government said was never there [featured above]. Within days he disappeared without a trace, dragged off by masked men.
Last week, six months after his abduction, his body was found dumped in North Waziristan, handcuffed and shot in the back.
The tragic news has startled the nation, sparking protests, and the government ordered a judicial probe into his death. It also sent a chilling message about the risks of reporting the conflict in Waziristan, one of the premier fronts in the war on terror.
Khan's photo spoke a thousand words, much as his death does today. In December, he rushed to a house in North Waziristan, where Abu Hamza Rabia, an Egyptian Al Qaida commander, had been killed moments before in an explosion.
Government authorities would later say Rabia had blown himself up while making a bomb. But Khan, who enjoyed a reputation as an intrepid reporter, snapped photographs of contrary evidence: fragments of a US Hellfire missile.
The Pakistani government stuck to its story, dismissing the photo, which was published in Pakistan. But Khan reported that Rabia met his demise at the end of a missile fired by a CIA drone. That assertion seems to have cost Khan his life.
-- Christian Science Monitor
June 23, 2006
The Washington Post offers this portrait of social isolation and loneliness in America:
Americans are far more socially isolated today than they were two decades ago, and a sharply growing number of people say they have no one in whom they can confide, according to a comprehensive new evaluation of the decline of social ties in the United States.
A quarter of Americans say they have no one with whom they can discuss personal troubles, more than double the number who were similarly isolated in 1985. Overall, the number of people Americans have in their closest circle of confidants has dropped from around three to about two...
"We know these close ties are what people depend on in bad times," she said. "We're not saying people are completely isolated. They may have 600 friends on Facebook.com [a popular networking Web site] and e-mail 25 people a day, but they are not discussing matters that are personally important."
June 22, 2006
I was among that first generation of children who grew up watching Sesame Street.
Anyone with any sort of intimate knowledge of my life knows that didn't work out so well.
You see, Sesame Street taught me that there were people of different races, skin tones, nationalities and religious perspectives. That sort of diversity awareness works nicely on PBS, but not so much in Texas, the Gaza Strip, Iraq or Rwanda, to name but a few.
Sesame Street taught me that learning Spanish didn't make me less American, although it taught me that understanding other people's cultures required work, thought and valuing another person's experience. Do any of those disciplines matter in today’s entrenched rhetoric? Turn on the news: no body (on either side of the debate) is listening to each other.
Sesame Street taught me that two men living together wasn't the most horrible thing in the world. That kind of (presumed gay) behavior will still get you hanged in the Middle East and unemployed and homeless in 30 or more states in these United States.
Sesame Street taught me that my imagination was wonderful and didn't need to be tranquilized by Ritalin. But we all know that wandering minds in the classroom have little to do with a lousy educational system. Defective brains – that’s the problem! Let’s not chat about lousy teachers, ineffective curricula, disengaged parents and a disinterested public.
So I guess, it should come as no surprise that Sesame Street now has to start teaching our kids what to eat.
With recent studies indicating that fewer than 15% of elementary age school children eat the recommended servings (five or more servings) of fruits and vegetables each day, Del Monte Foods announced today its partnership with the nonprofit educational organization Sesame Workshop to launch a new line of Del Monte products. The partnership was made public during the Licensing Show in New York City - Sesame Street's Grover, along with executives from Del Monte Foods and Sesame Workshop, were on-hand to make the official announcement.
"If anyone can encourage children to eat their fruits and vegetables ... it's Elmo, along with his friends Cookie Monster and Grover," said Apu Mody, Managing Director, Del Monte Brands. "
Some people might think parents are responsible for teaching, instructing and disciplining their children to eat healthy foods -- but that might require engaged and involved parents.
And God forbid we have that!
Right-wing extremists hate gay parents and progressive liberals hate stay at home moms. Home schooling is met with ridicule, the public school system is beyond repair in many parts of the country and even affluent kids that go to “good schools” are being drug tested.
Add to that, yesterday's news that kids hate being outside is beyond heartbreaking, let’s not think about future rates of heart disease.
Parents prefer perverts on Myspace to actually finding out what’s going on I their kid’s lives. Legislators cut school budgets but feel they must stand firm on a variety of other (and less expensive) social issues.
I suppose we have no other recourse than to allow Sesame Street to instruct children what food to put in their bodies.
Because, somewhere...somehow...parents just stopped raising and being responsible for their children.
Even though they continued to have them.