Friday, August 29, 2003

Taking Our Minds off of the Obesity Epidemic

The World Trade Organization is finally acting on the complaint by the U.S., Canada, and Argentina against the EU for unfairly banning the importation of foods that have been improved with agricultural biotechnology. Not only is it unfair to perpertuate a protectionist regime based on unscientific scare tatics about GM foods, as the Europeans have been doing, the global, down-stream effects are even worse. You may remember the spectacle of the government of Zambia refusing U.S. food aid on behalf of its starving citizens during a severe drought because they thought it might be "contaminated" with GM crop varieties? It wasn't just anti-GM enviornmentalist pressure that caused them to be suspicious, but the EU's agricultural trade restrictions. The government worried that if Zambian famers kept any of the (possibly) GM corn to plant the next Spring, their future crops could be excluded from exports markets in Europe, or anywhere else that shares the EU's excessive precaution. Thus we have a situation where European agricultural officials are starving sub-Saharan Africans with their protectionist trade barriers. The only reason millions more haven't starved to death throughout the Third World over the past few decades is because of exactly the kind of new technology Europe seems to unaccountably afraid of. If the drought-stricken Zambian famers of tomorrow want to be able to keep feeding their children, we're going to need even more men like this.

Mark Steyn on the humanitarian culture of New Europe and the heat-related death toll in France:

"In Paris this spring, a government official explained to me how Europeans had created a more civilised society than America - socialised healthcare, shorter work weeks, more holidays. We've just seen where that leads: gran'ma turned away from the hospital to die in an airless apartment because junior's sur la plage. M Chirac's somewhat tetchy suggestion that his people should rethink their attitude to the elderly was well taken. But Big Government inevitably diminishes its citizens' capacity to take responsibility, to the point where even your dead mum is just one more inconvenience the state should do something about."


Sunday, August 24, 2003

Kagame vs. Twagiramungu vs. Nayinzira

That troubled land of Rwanda is, finally, after nine years of genocide and unrest, preparing itself for a national election. The incumbent President, Paul Kagame, is heavily favored to win, as many African presidents are at election time. Former Prime Minister Faustin Twagiramungu is the main opposition, trailed by mysterious opponent Jean Nepomuscene Nayinzira. One wonders what good will come of this election, given that the last struggle for power left 750,000 men, women, and children in the country dead. Or without their extremities. Hacked off by machetes, for the most part, in case you had forgotten. The orphans are still waiting. We in the West can hope for the best. Given recent history, Rwandans would do better to chart the nearest road to the border. Best of luck, Mr. Kagame.


Saturday, August 16, 2003

The Return of the Sniper Killings

Residents of Charleston, West Virginia are getting jittery these days, after a string of three (and possibly four) sniper-style killings. The killings obviously echo the ten deaths which John Lee Malvo and John Allen Muhammed are currently charged with causing last year slightly farther east in the DC metro area. The only lesson available to West Virginia residents so far seems to be to avoid the Go-Mart chain of convenience stores, where two of the three confirmed killings have taken place. The police do have a lead however – they’re looking for a heavyset white man driving a pickup truck. With a rifle. In West Virginia. On second though, it might be easier to assemble the people who don’t answer that description.


Tuesday, August 05, 2003

You Come a Long Way, Benazir

A Swiss judge has scored a blow against gender stereotypes by finding former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto guilty of money laundering. Her husband, Asif Zardari, was found guilty as well, but who ever heard of him (other than the family of the man he's been accused of mudering)? Just when you thought it was only testosterone poisoned A-type masculine personalities of the world who craved political power for personal gain, along comes Madame Bhutto to teach us a lesson. Not for her the traditional female role of profligate wife to the stern dictator - she got in there with kickbacks from international corporations like the best of them. Not since Jiang Qing lef the Gang of Four has there been such a refreshingly counterintuitive example of female political leadership.