Item: (New Dehli, Christian Science Monitor) - Banned by Indian law for more than a decade, the practice of prenatal selection and selective abortion remains a common practice in India, claiming up to half a million female children each year, according to a recent study by the British medical journal, The Lancet.
The practice is common among all religious groups - Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Muslims, and Christians - but appears to be most common among educated women, a fact that befuddles public health officials and women's rights activists alike.
"More educated women have more access to technology, they are more privileged, and most educated families have the least number of children," says Sabu George, a researcher with the Center for Women's Development Studies in New Delhi, who did not participate in the study. "This is not just India. Everywhere in the world, smaller families come at the expense of girls."
According to the official Indian Census of 2001, there were 927 girl babies for every 1,000 boy babies, nationwide. The problem is worst in the northwestern states of Haryana, Punjab, Delhi, and Gujarat, where the ratio is less than 900 girls for every 1,000 boys.
Against common expectations, female feticide is not a crime of India's backward masses. Instead, it is most common among India's elite, who can afford multiple trips to an ultrasound clinic, and the hushed-up abortion of an unwanted girl.
Some activists say it is wrong to blame Indian society for the incidents of female feticide. The main cause for the "girl deficit," they say, is the arrival of ultrasound technology, and the entrepreneurial spirit of Indian doctors.
"This is not a cultural thing," says Donna Fernandez, director of Vimochana, a women's rights group based in Bangalore. "This is much more of an economic and political issue. It has got a lot to do with the globalization of technology. It's about the commodification of choices."
Comment: In a perfect world, no one becomes pregnant unless they want to become pregnant. In a near perfect world, if one becomes pregnant, the decision to terminate is based on a rational basis. In the real world however, decisions are irrationally made quite often. In promoting choice, one necessarily promotes the right to make a bad choice. Society then must look at the results and decide whether the consequences are acceptable or potentially disastrous and are in need of some regulation.
It must be noted however that the “commodification” of choice does not seem to explain why “girls” would be singled out over boys. A doctor would make as much money no matter which gender was aborted, no?
Item: (AP) Mayor Ray Nagin suggested on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, 2006, that Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and other storms were a sign that "God is mad at America" and at black communities, too, for tearing themselves apart with violence and political infighting.
"Surely God is mad at America. He sent us hurricane after hurricane after hurricane, and it's destroyed and put stress on this country," Nagin, who is black, said as he and other city leaders marked Martin Luther King Day.
"Surely he doesn't approve of us being in Iraq under false pretenses. But surely he is upset at black America also. We're not taking care of ourselves."
Comment: Everyone seems to know what God’s intent is for every natural disaster that strikes anywhere in the world. A non-scientific poll by America Online indicated that 29% of responders agreed that God is mad at America! Personally, I think we’re still being punished for the results of the 2000 Presidential election – but not necessarily by God.