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PARIS, THE NEW NORMAL? — Diana Johnstone files an in-depth report from Paris on the political reaction to the Charlie Hebdo shootings; The Treachery of the Black Political Class: Margaret Kimberley charts the rise and fall of the Congressional Black Caucus; The New Great Game: Pepe Escobar assays the game-changing new alliance between Russia and Turkey; Will the Frackers Go Bust? Joshua Frank reports on how the collapse of global oil prices might spell the end of the fracking frenzy in the Bakken Shale; The Future of the Giraffe: Ecologist Monica Bond reports from Tanzania on the frantic efforts to save one of the world’s most iconic species. Plus: Jeffrey St. Clair on Satire in the Service of Power; Chris Floyd on the Age of Terrorism and Absurdity; Mike Whitney on the Drop Dead Fed; John Wight on the rampant racism of Clint Eastwood’s “American Sniper;” John Walsh on Hillary Clinton and Lee Ballinger on the Gift of Anger.
A Callous Disregard for Child Welfare

America’s Hollow Concern for Children

by DOUG NOBLE

The Newtown massacre seems to have awakened America’s concern for its innocent young children enough to revive gun control. And a ban on assault weapons might very well help ensure the safety of America’s children from assault by individuals.

But it does nothing to protect America’s innocent children from the egregious assault by their own country on their very lifeline – their safety net. This society’s abusive economic policies are themselves assault weapons targeting our own children, no less insidious than the assault rifles our citizens insanely embrace with camouflaged pride.

Some sample statistics tell the tale:

* The United States ranked at the bottom of a UNICEF survey of child welfare in 21 wealthy countries and finished dead last in the survey’s health and safety category, based on infant mortality, vaccinations for childhood diseases, and deaths from injuries and accidents.

* A recent survey by the Luxembourg Income Study reported that the safety nets of children in the US are weakest of all industrialized countries. The U.S. woefully underfunds services to families with children, such as subsidized day care services, adequate health coverage and preventative care for children.

* The US easily leads the industrialized world in child poverty, with more than one in five US children living below the poverty line. Children of color are disproportionately poor, with over one in four Black and Hispanic children, and two in five newborns to kindergartners, living in poverty.

* Every year 3.3 million reports of child abuse are made in the US, giving it the worst record among the industrialized nations – losing five children every day due to abuse-related deaths.

We must, of course, also remember America’s continuing deadly assault, by drones or sanctions or bombs, on the lives other nations’ children, betraying the hypocrisy of any claim that we as a country cherish the innocence of childhood. But this society’s callous disregard of its own children’s welfare, itself a violent assault on innocent young lives, renders our nation’s mourning at this tragic moment sickeningly hollow.

Doug Noble is an activist with Occupy Rochester NY and Rochester Against War.