Starvation crisis in North Korea (Reuters report via Al Jazeera)

October 9, 2011

Some images may be shocking to young children.  This is information you need to have.

Al Jazeera carried this report, an edited version of a report from Reuters, who somehow got video and interviews from inside North Korea, if we are to grant credence to the report.

In a hospital in Pyongyang, doctors monitor a group of weak infants, some of whom are already showing signs of malnutrition and sickness. They are the most vulnerable members of a population suffering from extreme food shortages.

According to the United Nations, one third of all children under the age of five in North Korea are malnourished, and other countries have become less interested in donating food as the “hermit kingdom” battles efforts to constrain its nuclear program.

The UN World Food Programme says public distributions are running extremely low, and they are only able to help half the people who need aid. Meanwhile, the countries rulers stage outsized military parades, and some wonder whether food donations are being siphoned off to them.

North Korea recently granted a Reuters news crew access to the country, and Al Jazeera’a Khadija Magardie reports on the plight they found.

The longer Reuters report can be viewed here (but I can’t figure out how to embed it at the Bathtub).

Climate-change aggravated severe weather adds to the serious nutrition shortages in North Korea, according to Reuters written reports.

Famine in North Korea is one more vital topic ignored by the presidential and Congressional campaigns, and conservatives in their rush to get Obama out of office.


Pure political smear from Walter Williams, or is there any factoid to back his claim?

April 30, 2011

Walter Williams wrote a column a dozen years ago in which he made some wild claims about Stanford population biologist Paul Ehrlich.

Stanford University Prof. Paul R. Ehrlich - L A Cicero image

What did he really say?  Stanford University Prof. Paul R. Ehrlich – L A Cicero image

Williams wrote:

Paul Ehrlich wrote The Population Bomb, widely read on college campuses during the late sixties.  Ehrlich predicted that there’d be a major food shortage in the U.S. and “in the 1970s . . . hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to death.”  He forecast that 65 million Americans would die of starvation between 1980 and 1989, and that by 1999 the U.S. population would have declined to 22.6 million.  Ehrlich’s predictions about England were worse:  “If I were a gambler, I would take even money that England will not exist in the year 2000.”

Walter Williams, More Liberty Means Less Government:  Our founders knew this well, Hoover Institution Press Publication No. 453, 1999, p. 134

Recently Williams revived that claim for another column, and the revived claim is all over conservative sites.

Steven Goddard, who appears to be making a living on screwing up references to the work of others, though had restricted most of his error to sciency issues like climate change denial, put up a post repeating Williams’ claim.

I imagined Ehrlich might have said something like that, but most likely in one of his “scenarios” like the three much different disaster scenarios he proposed in his 1968 book Population Bomb So I asked Goddard for a reference (pollution and economic scarcity, disease, and food shortages, were the three apocalyptic horsemen Ehrlich wrote about then).

It didn’t occur to me that the quote attributed to Ehrlich was wholly fictitious, but in more than a week of searching, neither Goddard nor Maurizio Moribito commenting at Goddard’s site can find anything even close to what Williams claimed.  I’ve pored through my old copy of Population Bomb, and it’s not there that I can find, not without a much more thorough reading I don’t have time for right now.  (My copy of Ehrlich’s Population, Resources and Environment is buried somewhere here in my bookshelves — that was the textbook Ehrlich wrote, a book used in a population and ecology course I took in the Biology Department at the University of Utah way back when.  It’s also a favorite book for conservatives to quote mine, wringing fantastic mischaracterizations from the early edition or a later one where Ehrlich and his wife were joined by John Holdren, now an adviser to President Obama.)

Dear Readers, help me out:  Did Ehrlich say anything like what Williams via Goddard claims he said, or did Williams pluck this smear from a some unlighted private library?  Was Williams just playing fast and loose with the truth (again)?

Did Ehrlich ever “predict” 65 million deaths from starvation in America in the 1980s?  Can anyone source the quote?

More, strings to follow:  

Even more stuff on the topic:

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