Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Why don't they tell us the good news?

The population of Iraq is about 24 million, just a tad more than the population of Texas. Imagine that in Texas, several acres in the center of the capital city, including the capitol building and government offices, are surrounded by a 12 foot high blast wall, and that citizens are forbidden to enter the zone to meet with their representatives or officials of state agencies, or to observe legislative or court proceedings. The state is occupied by 140,000 Russian soldiers, who travel in armored convoys and shoot 50 caliber automatic rifles at any vehicle that gets close to them. Hardly any of them speaks a word of English.

The government is controlled by evangelical protestants, whose police work closely with the Russian soldiers. The evangelicals live in separate neighborhoods from people of other faiths. Routinely, Russian soldiers surround non-evangelical neighborhoods, while the evangelical police break down the doors of every house, force the inhabitants to kneel in the front yard, and ransack the homes. On each occasion, they haul away a dozen or so young men to secret prisons, where they join thousands of others who are held without charges, who have no access to lawyers or the legal system, and who no-one is allowed to visit. On a typical Friday:

  1. A car bomb kills 9 people at a Catholic church in Lubbock.
  2. A Texas Ranger is killed and 3 are injured by a roadside bomb in Dallas.
  3. A car bomb in Waco kills three civilians.
  4. Gunmen kill a government official in Galveston and kidnap another.
  5. A roadside bomb kills a police lieutenant and injures a police captain in Crawford.
  6. A Russian helicopter fire two rockets into a Jewish neighborhood in Houston, killing six members of a family. The government claims the dead were all insurgents.
  7. A gunfight between unknown militants and Russian and Texan forces near Texas Stadium results in four injuries.
  8. Gunmen killed a policeman in Huntsville.
  9. The kidnappers of a Russian journalist threaten to kill her unless the Russians release all the Texan women they hold in prison.
  10. Gunmen kill a traffic policeman in College Station.
  11. Gunmen killed a police sergeant on patrol in Nacogdoches.
  12. A roadside bomb kills a civilian in Fort Worth.

On this day, as on most others, a couple of dozen people are kidnapped for ransom. It is unsafe to travel on the highways, and bodies turn up with their hands bound and signs of torture in vacant lots every day. Most of the state has electricity for only 4 hours a day, and most Texans have contaminated drinking water. The unemployment rate is 60%, and 10% of children are malnourished. Most people depend largely on government rations for food.

Vladimir Putin complains constantly that the news media aren't covering all the good news from Texas.

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