Dedicated to the G8

I am born today,
The sun burns a promise in my eyes.

Mama strikes me,
And I draw a breath, and cry.

Above me a cloud softly tumbles through the sky.

I am glad to be alive!


It is my seventh day,
I taste the hunger, and I cry.

My brother and sister
Cling to Mama's side.

She squeezes her breast, but it has nothing to provide.

Someone weeps.

I fall asleep.


It is twenty days, today.
Mama does not hold me anymore.

I open my mouth, but I am too weak to cry.
Above me a bird slowly crawls across the sky.

Why is there nothing, now, to do but die?


Thank you, Harry Chapin



  • 31 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • Good news! I've contacted Red Cross in your area and asked them to check on you occasionally between midnight and 3:00 a.m. I'm also looking into getting a list of brothels in your city and will get that list to you soon.

    Disclaimer: This message is not intended to offend or attack. It is posted as personal opinion. If you find yourself offended or uncomfortable, email me and let me know why.
  • Beaglepuss! What are you smoking?
  • A fitting dedication. xclap
  • First of all, I want to go on the record that this posting is written at 21:50 hours (for those in disadvantaged parts of the country, the Big Hand is on the 10 and the Little Hand is on the 10 as well) Pacific Daylight Time. No comments about the time of posting in that weird time zone known as CST will be allowed.

    I posted this, Harry Chapin's "The Shortest Story" as a sort of a tribute to the work he did when he was charged by President Carter to head the US involvement with the World Hunger Organization. He wrote this and included it in his "Greatest Stories Live" album. Unfortunately, when he was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal (posthumously), the keynote speaker was Ted Kennedy and, as a result, the award lost some of its luster.

    Anyway, it seemed like the thing to do. I felt it was time we all stopped being such a self-centered herd of people living in the richest country in the world and ignoring the famines in Africa.

    Just my humble opinion. And, fortunately, it seems that the Brits are willing to step up to the plate and provide aid to Africa. More than those of us in the powerful, rich, United States. Thanks, Dubya!

  • Yes, and wouldn't it be nice if the powerful government officials in African countries were not corrupt and did not cart off and bury 98% of the aid money sent to their countries. E.G. Edi Amin, at one time one of the wealthiest people in that part of the world and having not earned one dime of it. Dubya has the good sense to recognize that corrupt government officials in Africa are not the proper conduit for channelling aid to the unfortunate population there. There must be a better way. Can you suggest one? Or is it just another way to bash the president?

    For those of you who have never been fortunate enough to have a mole in the back yard...You can poke a garden hose in their hole and run water full blast down it from the time the sun rises till the time the sun goes down, and then some, and it never impacts the mole or the hole, only the water bill and the grass that sucks up most of the water. Similarly, pouring American dollars or Euros into the deep hole of African corruption will not significantly impact the starving in that country, their infrastructure or their health crises.

    By the way, Albert Gore and Theodore Kennedy gave less to charity two years ago than any other members of the administration or congress. But, I'm sure they had other, more appropriate ways of contributing.

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  • Interesting; today's paper has a syndicated column by Charley Reese in Orlando. He is an avowed Bush basher. He concludes, "Bush is right to balk at doubling foreign aid to Africa and to demand of the African countries that they do something about the corruption that nearly all are ridden with."

    He goes on to say, "White Europeans need to get over their guilt trip and recognize that the problems facing sub-Saharan Africa are caused by the Africans themselves. In africa you have land rich in resources, a surplus of labor, a largely benign climate and fertile soil. What Africa lacks are honest, competent leaders who care about their own people. If any such leaders have emerged since the colonial period, all have been murdered by the thugs wo ended up running most of the countries. Practically every conflict they have turns into an orgy of mutilation, rape and mass murder."

    Perhaps his most solid conclusion is "No outsider can save another person from his or her own self-destructive tendencies."

    Oh, and my own comment about shooting a water hose down a mole's hole; here's what Reese says today, "Pouring foreign aid into Africa is like trying to irrigate a desert with spit. Billions and billions of dollars have poured into that rathole, with virtually no visible results."

    He concludes by saying, "Far too many Europeans and North Americans prefer the comfort of living with delusions rather than honestly assessing problems. The provider of aid is often more interested in his own selfish objectives than in the African people."

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  • Here's a few paragraphs from an article in todays Washington Times By Suzanne Fields Titled: Snapping a finger at African aid.

    James Shikwati, a distinguished Kenyan economist, was singing another song: "For God's sake, please just stop the aid."
    In an interview in der Spiegel, the German newsmagazine, Mr. Shikwati describes what he sees as the disastrous result of aid to Africa. Not only do African leaders exploit it for their own purposes, stuffing their pocketbooks and adding to their power, but aid weakens local markets, destroys incentives and fosters corruption and complacency. He scoffs at the motives of the United Nations World Food Program, "which is a massive agency of apparatchiks who are in the absurd situation of ... being dedicated to the fight against hunger while ... being faced with unemployment were hunger actually eliminated."
    What the Kenyans have to learn, he says of his own country, is how to help themselves by encouraging sustainable markets. He cites the distribution of corn and clothes as examples of "do-goodism" gone wrong, hurting those it sets out to help in an endless circle of vicious venality. Corn arrives from highly subsidized European and American farmers. African politicians take portions of it to distribute to their constituents. What isn't given away is dumped on the black market, and sold at such bargain prices that an African farmer can't compete, so he puts down his hoe. When the next famine arrives, begging begins again.
    African children receive generous packages of clothes. Good? Not necessarily. Local tailors, seamstresses and merchants lose their livelihoods because no one in the low-wage world of Africa can compete with the donated products that find their way to the black market. In 1997, 137,000 workers were employed in Nigeria's textile industry; six years later the figure had fallen to 57,000. The results, Mr. Shikwati says, are similar in other areas "where overwhelming helpfulness and fragile African markets collide."
    Increasing numbers of Africans decry the damages of paternalism, but you didn't hear those voices at the Live 8 concerts. Rage and protest were not directed at corrupt local leaders, either. Nelson Mandela's heroism directed at whites who oppressed blacks is needed now directed at black politicians who oppress the black masses.
    The developed world rightly directs its generosity to crises of health and hunger, but aid must be part of a larger package to educate and encourage private incentive and enterprise. It's not enough to teach an African how to fish, but we must show the African how to sell the fish in a market where competition is fair. He has to learn how to keep government officials from cutting in on his business. Aid without reform is a dead-end concept, literally.
    Jean-Bedel Bokassa, once the leader of the Central African Republic, got it right: "We ask the French for money. We get it, and then we waste it." James Shikwati sums up the problem today: "Africa is like a child that immediately cries for its babysitter when something goes wrong. Africa should stand on its two feet." This is not the feel-good message easy for feel-good masses to applaud, but snapping fingers only adds to mindless noise.

  • Every person in America ought to be required to read the last two posts. I started to say 'every liberal' but that sounds devisive. It's not just liberals who need to be popped between the eyes with a two by four! Save The Children is the biggest hoax ever created. Send your money and you get a picture of a child. Feels good. Fattens the fat cats hawking those ads on TV.

    St. Jude's is a fine children's cancer hospital in Memphis. Some of you may know it as the pet project of Danny and Marlo Thomas. Fine place. Lots of great work and much of the care is free I understand. St Jude's is a huge charity, very popular in the South and perhaps elsewhere. Little known is that St. Jude Charity Foundation, and for that matter, the hospital, is owned and operated by ALSAC. That stands for Americal, Lebanese, Syrian Associated Charities. For many years my family donated to that charity, usually as a memorial to someone we knew who had died. Lebanon and Syria are corrupt, terrorist sponsoring countries. How much of my charity money do I reckon found its way into the pockets of the corrupt officials in those countries. Every damned nickle of it, that's how much. G8 my ass.

    PT Barnum is sitting on a cloud somewhere chuckling.

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  • What is the old saw? Give a hungry man a fish and he will be satisfied for a day. Teach him how to fish and he will be satisfied for a lifetime. We have been distributing individual fish for decades.
  • And as was stated in the Post article, "It's not enough to teach an African how to fish, but we must show the African how to sell the fish in a market where competition is fair."

    Isn't it about time we admitted that there are just some things that we can do nothing about?

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  • ... or maybe even sell the fish in a market that is unfair. Yet there are those who decry the concept that we should westernize third world countries. That it is presumptuous of us to think our way is better. All cultures are of equal value, they contend. That thinking makes it very difficult to effect change that will allow these people to compete in the world marketplace. The best they can hope for is survival, and that is tenuous.
  • [font size="1" color="#FF0000"]LAST EDITED ON 07-18-05 AT 11:54AM (CST)[/font][br][br]You raise an interesting, and correct, point. Most of those who would bemoan our stance on such things as third world poverty or organizational corruption do not think we have any right or responsibility to advise others on how they might improve their lot or to export to them anything resembling western culture or government concepts.

    The thought is that we simply should share our wealth with them and hope for the best. Having shared our wealth with them, we have then met our obligation as a society and a people and nothing beyond that really is our concern. We have no right to demand or expect this or that. We only are obliged to give them part of what we have and we are further obligated to give them, pro-rata, more of what we have than any other group of people in other places in the world. So, that in the end, it can be said that we had the longest hose and we blasted the most water down the rat hole and our water bill was higher and our spicket is running the widest open. Reportedly, that will bring the warmest collective feeling.

    Are we suddenly singing to the choir? Where are Judy, Parabeagle, G8 minus 5 (G3), HRLass, Whatever, what's her name and Bettie Boop when you need them? I won't include Whirlwind since she's beginning to 'come around'. x:-)

  • Wasn't following the thread. I guess I went to sleep when I read the poem. I think I am in the middle. I don't see much sense in sending $$ anywhere unless there are controls that ensure that the $$ do what they are supposed to do AND we quit sending $$ when we find out the ## ( the mistype looks cool so will leave them)are being corrupted. I also think that it makes eminent sense to train people how to fend for themselves but we must allow them to incorporate their own culture into the mix. I think that we operate as if our way is the absolute best way and everyone should be like us. Not everyone has the same definition of capitalism, or freedom for that matter, as we do. We should recognize that we can't build countries in our own image, successfully at least.
  • Taken your perspective and theory, then, and applying the current example of the poorest nations of Africa, if we do not suggest some manner of government to them or some structural concepts, what do you suggest we might do? This assumes, of course, that people in this discussion know the only culture they have ever known to date is corrupt, although they know not what that means.

    Disclaimer: This message is not intended to offend or attack. It is posted as personal opinion. If you find yourself offended or uncomfortable, email me and let me know why.
  • If I knew the solutions to this intractable problem, I expect I would be in another field of work. It seems to me to be the height of arrogance to insist that other countries must be like ours. I suppose a start would be to recognize the good features of every system, there's as well as ours, and help build from there.
  • I'm here. Just been busy preparing for two weeks in Alabama.

    Actually - although I'm loathe to say this - some excellent points have been made. I remember Somalia and our attempt to get food to them; look what happened there!

    Guess it's nice to embrace the ideology, but the practical application of famine relief in Africa can be troublesome.
  • I don't know that I've "come around" so much as I've given up arguing about politics, religion, and the like on the Forum. Regarding this particular subject, I don't have a solution. I'm sure anything I could say would be written off as bleeding-heart naivete, but I don't think I could look a starving child in the face and say, "Well, your leaders are all corrupt and I'm not going to poor water down a rat hole, so tough sh*t." I guess there's a fine line sometimes between being an enabler and an empowerer, and I'll continue to try to find the right side of it. We must all do -- and can only do -- what we feel is right.
  • I salute your words. It is so hard to think of a child, any child, anywhere starving. I just wish we could feed them and watch them smile instead of sometimes wondering if all this money or food even reaches them.
  • People generally want to help other people who are poor, hurt, starving, and ill. That's obvious whenever there's a call for mass relief following any disaster. People will also pull back on their wallet when they see money being burned or flushed through a rat hole with a hose. No one in their right mind would keep shelling it out. The media often promotes the candle-lighting vigils that tug on our emotions and invoke a massive group response - and God forbid you don't jump on that bandwagon. You'll be labeled as apathetic, cynical, selfish; anything but educated.
  • [font size="1" color="#FF0000"]LAST EDITED ON 07-18-05 AT 03:50PM (CST)[/font][br][br]G3 says it's 'arrogant' for a country to want others to be like they are. Maybe so. It could also be called leadership or helping suggest the best approach to their development. It would be a dream world if a country like ours, a super nation, could sit down at the table with countries like those and lay out the options in a powerpoint presentation and have intelligent, educated, thoughtful, fair and good people choose from among them, then we walk away and leave a check. But, that ain't reality.

    Parabeagle says he's 'loathe' to admit there were good points made here. Why? Haven't we learned enough, historically, particularly beginning in the 60s, to know that pie in the sky dreams and acid-laced visions of tip-toeing through tulips and 'just getting along' and loving one another and living and let live is nothing more than letters and smoke strung together. It does not take a village. But it does take a dream, an idea, a vision and some direction and leadership from somewhere. It takes more than a check and that's been our history. 'A check' is the answer provided by The Great Society to our own people and it didn't even work here.

    What we do know is that the Democrat mantras criticizing but never offering alternative suggestions is not gaining anything. Their response when you ask for suggestions and alternatives is just like Gillian3's, "I don't know, but....."

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  • Baloney! Democrats are bad, Republicans are good, Republicans have ideas, Democrats don't. Everything that ails us now, did in the past or will in the future is the fault of Democrats, and the chief ailers are Bill, Hillary, Ted, Jesse and Al. If any Repulican is accused of wrongdoing it is a Democratic plot. That mantra makes as much sense as the complete reverse.
  • I read closely but still failed to see a single suggestion or alternative approach. I listen closely to the Democrat leadership on television and the news daily and I honestly do not see or hear any suggestions or alternatives, ever. Only Bush-Bashing. Please call it to my attention on here the next time there is an alternative offered, a strong, serious, viable alternative. To anything. I'm asking that you do that.

    Disclaimer: This message is not intended to offend or attack. It is posted as personal opinion. If you find yourself offended or uncomfortable, email me and let me know why.
  • Of course, listen to the bubbleheads and Fox News and you will get a one sided view. Fox News, the channel that features Geraldo. I saw a clip of him covering the hurricane, Dennis. I think that he was reporting from up in a tree. Listen to Fox, some alternatives, then figure that the truth is somewhere in between.
  • I've long held the theory that civilizations are cyclical. And if the cycle is interrupted in some fashion, the society will be unable to reach its potential.

    When an advanced society intrudes upon a less advanced one whether by colonization, war, trade, disease or other far reaching influence the less advanced society will be unable to maintain it's integrity or its natural growth pattern.

    The middle ages were all about war both within and across Europe and the Near East. But all of the combatants were of a roughly equitable degree of civilization.

    Our history is full of instances where the touch of an advanced civilzation destroyed a less advanced one, the native peoples of the Americas were uniformly decimated by the arrival of 17th century Europeans, in the ancient world the advanced civilization of Egypt enslaved vast numbers of less developed people because they didn't have the technology required to protect themselves.

    I think this pattern is repeating itself in Africa. Economies, thinking patterns, education level and moral codes all need to develop at an appropriate rate within a society for it to achieve its potential.

  • Aw, Don, I'm just loathe to admit that I have to agree with you, is all. x;-)
  • [font size="1" color="#FF0000"]LAST EDITED ON 07-19-05 AT 08:17AM (CST)[/font][br][br]I already knew your problem, Beagle. You cannot admit that any point is logical if it deviates from a Barbra Streisand-Bruce Springsteen-Jim Morrison-Pink Floyd thought process.

    I'm still trying to understand the lady's points, as stretched as they are. What I think I hear is a suggestion that animals be left alone to fend and fight for themselves and whichever ones live will have done so as a part of natures natural plan. Sounds workable if you're talking about wild lions in the jungle. But if a man shows up and throws a large stick at them and they suddenly untangle and somehow regroup to fight again, we have upset the balance of nature. How many more hundred years should the people of the middle east be left alone to bash each other's heads in? 200? 600? What's nature's progression plan for that?

    As for the comment of G3, it is the same as always; offering nothing in the way of a position statement, an alternative or a realistic suggestion, only continuing to attack and ridicule the incumbent government body. G3, do you need more brass pins to press into the flesh of the Bush doll?

    Parageagle; practice, after me....'I was wrong'.

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  • What I have taken from the articles is that without the viability of a free trade market, the "think tanks" do not see any significant value to dumping money and aid into a society that is h*ll bent on supression.

    As the only remaining super power, despite our internal bickering between parties and whose politics are "right," we have been able to sustain a capitalist environment that is geared toward healthy competition between companies and benefiting the consumer. More selection, competitive prices for goods, etc. While I personally believe that less government is better, that there needs to be better accountability and more personal responsibility for those using social services, etc., we still enjoy a market that allows free trade. Therefore, there is hope for those with the entrepreneurial spirit, as evidenced by the new businesses always springing up. In these third world nations, this spirit is broken in order to keep control of the masses. So, for those that cry for assisting the unfortunate, would you support the notion of using whatever means necessary to provide these nations the change that must take place, or would this be another example of the US forwarding its own agenda? I think that recent history tells us the answer.

    Send your money and tell others that you are making a difference. I personally support ministries, not charities, that are geared toward education and teaching the people of these countries how to support themselves. The Heifer Project that teaches families how to raise animals to feed their families. That give them the education they need to start thinking for themselves.
  • Thanks for reminding me of [url][/url]. It's the perfect example of what I was trying to describe in #25, above. I'm thinking very seriously about making a donation in the name of my whole family and telling them that their Christmas gift this year was that they bought someone in Africa a cow. Believe me, a couple of them will HAVE a cow when they hear that! x:-)
  • Yes, especially those who know that there is no way in hell your money went to buy anybody a cow. It went either directly into the Cuban cigar fund of a corrupt African official or paid for cruise-prostitutes. But, as one of the articles concluded, it's the fuzzy feeling that counts, isn't it?

    As Robert Browning remarked, "Nothing is of value in itself, only to what it may lead or the help it may yield the spirit." If it makes you feel good inside, do it. Don't be concerned that you were duped by the hype of the outcry.

  • Morrison rocks. Lose Streisand and Springsteen. Insert Paul Simon (remember Machu Pichu?) , Harry Chapin (World Hunger Organization).

    Throw in a little Iron Butterfly and I'm good. x:-)
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