Saturday, April 22, 2006

This Week's Recommended Reading

From Ash:

If you have just a few minutes this week, I implore you -- check out the Los Angeles Times 4- part series, "The New Foreign Aid." Each piece profiles how one nation is dependent -- and being transformed by its citizens who leave their homeland to find work elsewhere. This is an issue that blew me away when we were working on immigration for the Factbook, and I'm thrilled to see such attention put on it.

If you're not aware of this global phenomenon, this series should cast the immigration controversy in a whole new light for you. The stories track those who have left, and those who get the money back home, as well, as illustrate particular issues that confront their countries -- for example, how the Philippines has become a nation with a chief export being labor -- to the point they don't have enough doctors left in the country, how almost all of Haiti's economy is dependent on this informal aid, etc.

The prose pieces go into the numbers -- and give you a sense of the vast scale of the issue. (e.g. One out of every six people in the world is depending on money from a person working in another country.) But the real "can't miss" here is Don Bartletti's interactive slideshows that accompany each article. Bartletti's work makes the prose seem, as informative as it is, flat by comparison. I just hope the LAT gets this guy into a master class with Ira Glass, so that his narration rises to the level of his photography, which is truly terrific. Oh, those highly saturated colors! -- just dazzling. Each image is a feast for the eyes and a dagger through the heart.

None of the rest of this comes close to that LAT work, but it's still worthwhile.

On education, NPR's Morning Edition has a solid prose piece on some of the issues that have resulted from Mayors trying to establish control over their school districts. And perhaps better is its audio profile of Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's plan to take the LA schools from the current administrative body.

The Boys & Girls Club of America just released results from a survey of over 46,000 teenagers. It didn't particularly rock my world, but particularly since we've been spending so much time on education, it's interesting to hear what these kids today are thinking. Highlights: almost 3/4 of the teens thought that a college education was necessary to their future success, but less than half (42%) actually saw themselves as still being in school 5 years down the road, while for a quarter of them, their greatest fear was that they wouldn't finish high school.

On April 21, the New York Times wrote a piece about the "bank of mom and dad" -- how parents are still giving money to their adult children. Well, I sort of hate these pieces, but at least this one's focused on economics, instead of "failed adulthood."

And lastly -- this is one of those articles you have to tell someone about, but you're afraid if you do, more people will know about it and go "Hey, What a cool idea!" instead of the "Oh . . . my . . . God" response you're hoping for. So, hoping you'll be as perturbed as I am, on April 19, the Los Angeles Times also ran this column one (page one) story -- that outsourcing to India isn't for jobs anymore. No, now, we're outsourcing pregnancy. Specifically, you can find an Indian woman to act as a surrogate, who will be fertilized and carry your baby for you. For the bargain price of $5000.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The last part of your post about surrogate mothers in India is very difficult for me to fathom. I am trying to understand why, with so many children languishing in orphanages in India, why would expatriate Indian couples want to pay surrogate mothers instead of adopting???

I am referring to a compelling report by Lisa Ling for a documentary a few years ago. I think there was a clip shown when Lisa Ling was interviewed on the Oprah show. The documentary included a story about children living in orphanages in India.

I know of an American couple (WASP?) who adopted a deaf child from India. She was about one year old, perhaps, younger at the time of adoption. The kid is thriving. I doubt that they have the resources in India for disabled people that we do here in the USA.

Unless I am mistaken, I am aware that in that part of the world, boys are more valued than girls. There seems to be a wave of Americans adopting girls from China because girls are considered unimportant and there is also the one child policy in China.

So, why aren't more people adopting kids from India?

2:05 PM  

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