Selected reading

May 8, 2009 at 8:51 pm | Posted in Misc. | 6 Comments
  • James McIntyre discusses the effects of the British public’s sliding perception of politics.
  • The Lib Dems’ party political broadcast is a pretty decent attempt to engage with voters.
  • Roundhouse director Marcus Davey reckons the arts can help the young victims of this recession.
  • Jonathan Derbyshire has a Q&A with human rights lawyer Phillipe Sands.
  • Laura Rozen reports on the politics of Israel’s nuclear program.
  • Juan Cole has a comprehensive round-up of news from Pakistan.
  • Jessica Valenti hates Naomi Wolf’s sad stereotypes of feminists.
  • At Feministe, Jill discusses Bristol Palin’s new role as an ambassador to reduce teen pregnancy.
  • And in Haiti, 24% of children suffer from malnutrition. So what does the Haitian government do? Turn around a Mexican aid ship carrying 77 tons of food because of bogus fears about swine flu. Sigh. Some people…


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  1. Neil,
    Aren’t you being a bit harsh on the Haitian government? A mere 3 days after the WTO raised the pandemic alert level from 4 to 5, before we knew of the over-estimate in Mexican deaths and general mortality rate from the flu, and when many signs pointed to humanity being on the brink of a terrifying biological calamity; Haiti decided to opt for caution and not risk sparking a full-scale health crisis. For the sake of one shipment of emergency food aid being delayed by perhaps a fortnight, for a credible chance at ducking- or at least postponing- another crisis the Haitian authorities are surely not fully equipped to handle?

    Haiti enjoys a dubious benefit of being woefully under-connected with its trading neighbours, meaning it had a perhaps more credible chance of avoiding mass outbreak even had infected cases skyrocketed elsewhere. If I was in their position, I think I’d take any warning, founded or unfounded, quite seriously.

    You’re gonna have to give me more than that to demonstrate poor decision making. Now, should the authorities have been perilously low on emergency food aid, then admittedly, swine flu is likely the least of their problems. But I guess we’ll be finding out if that was the case…

  2. Y’know, you’re developing a funny habit of only complaining about things I’ve written which are about 180 characters long ;-)

    I’ll admit that for such a poor country, an outbreak would be disastrous, but it wasn’t like the Mexicans were being cavalier about it. Surely, if all the people on board had been screened prior to departure, the risk was miniscule?

  3. I have a habit of always feeling bad for doing it too. My points still stands though; any boat heading out of Mexico at that time, given the uncertainties and possible incubation periods involved should rightly be treated with caution by a government woefully short of the capacity to deal with another humanitarian calamity. I’d wager their emergency food aid stocks are not so close to exhaustion that they have no space for such caution either.

    Whilst I don’t know of specific examples elsewhere, I wouldn’t be surprised if more affluent neighbours exercised similar initial caution towards ships from Mexico- clearly Haiti because of its economic status shouldn’t by default feel obliged to exercise less caution. The article, and perhaps even the Mexican officials attitude smacked a little of ‘well they should be grateful for what they get’.

  4. Pah! You’re not permitted to feel bad about it; there’s a passionate intensity which reflects well on you.

    Having re-read the article again, I think I’ve got a better grasp of where you’re coming from. My first assumption was that the ship was safe but rejected due to some hysterical, unscientific overreaction. But, of course, there’s no hard evidence in that piece demonstrating that, so perhaps it’s better to withhold (or, in my case, withdraw) judgement.

  5. For interested parties, my PhD supervisor wrote a book fairly recently on Haiti, albeit from a resolutely pro-Aristide perspective :

  6. Any good?

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