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Pieces Together

Modern Britain
"Nearly 54,000 children living below the poverty line will be pushed farther down the scale by cuts to housing benefit, according to figures from the charity Shelter. Their families will be left with less than £100 a week once housing costs have been paid. Of these, 33,00 children will be in families trying to live on under £50 a week." (Times, 7 September)

Hunger Amidst Plenty
"India's grain warehouses are bursting at the seams and sacks of rice and wheat lie rotting in the open for lack of storage space. These government-managed stocks are for offsetting a fall in agricultural production in the event of drought or floods, but are also meant for sale to the poorest segment of the population at subsidised prices. But because the public distribution system (PDS) is undermined by bureaucracy and corruption, 60m tonnes of grain is lying in warehouses or under plastic sheeting, and, according to the Hindustan Times, 11m tonnes of it has been destroyed by the monsoons. A committee of experts appointed by the supreme court has claimed that this is nothing short of "genocide", and last month the court ordered the free distribution of the grain to the poor rather than have it eaten by rats. Since the 1970s green revolution, agricultural production has continued to rise, but not to benefit the hungry. Half of India's children aged under five suffer from malnutrition, and the rate remained stable between 1999 and 2006 despite the economic growth in those years. India is the world's 11th largest economic power but still has more people in poverty." (Guardian, 7 September)

Loaded Politicians in USA
"The rest of the country is still struggling with high unemployment amid a sluggish-at-best economic recovery -- but the wealthiest members of Congress are in high cotton. Indeed, the top 50 wealthiest lawmakers saw their combined net worths increase last year, according to the Hill's annual analysis of financial disclosure documents. Combined, the 50 lawmakers were worth $1.4 billion in 2009 -- an $85.1 million increase over their 2008 total . ...The list of 50 lawmakers spans both parties (27 Democrats and 23 Republicans) and both chambers of Congress (30 House members, 20 senators), the Hill reports." (Yahoo News, 1 September)

The Failure Of Reform
"The number of people in the U.S. who are in poverty is on track for a record on President Barack Obama's watch, with the ranks of working-age poor approaching 1960s levels that led to the national war on poverty. Census figures for 2009 the recession-ravaged first year of the Democrat's presidency are to be released in the coming week, and demographers expect grim findings. It's unfortunate timing for Obama and his party just seven weeks before important elections when control of Congress is at stake. The anticipated increase from 13.2 percent to about 15 percent would be another blow to Democrats struggling to persuade voters to keep them in power." (Yahoo News, 11 September)