Wednesday, December 13, 2017

A Long Row to Hoe

The defeat of racist pedophile Judge Moore by corporatist Democrat Doug Jones in Alabama's special US Senate election is a small step in the correct direction, thinks US Person, but there is a very long road ahead to social equity in 'Merica.  A team from the UN investigating conditions in Alabama last week exposed what is already known to its black inhabitants: poverty conditions there compare with sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia.  Particularly, Lowndes County, the home of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, suffers from poor sewage disposal, resulting in hookworm infections otherwise unknown in the United States.

UN rapporteur Phillip Alston encountered extreme poverty and civil rights abuses "uncommon" in the first world.  His team toured Lowndes and Butler Counties in Alabama's "Black Belt", the one-time epicenter of cotton plantation in the Antebellum South with local activists guiding the way.  They were shown open sewage ditches that dump untreated human waste into nearby creeks. In September, Baylor University's  National School of Tropical Medicine (NSTM)  published a study that revealed serious sanitation deficits in Lowndes County. Three-quarters of study participants reported that raw sewage had managed to reenter their houses, either because of heavy rainfall or clogs in improvised sewage disposal systems.  Alabama's Department of Health reported in 2011 that the number of homes with inadequate or no sewage systems ranged from 40-90%.

Alabama's hot, humid weather that made cotton grow abundantly, is also the favorable habitat for Necator americanus, a species of hookworm that lays its eggs in the intestines of its host. [photo right] Usually hookworms enter humans through bare feet and ankles walking through moist, contaminated soils.  The parasite is mainly associated with extreme poverty in South America, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Southeast Asia, and many infectious disease researchers had assumed that it no longer existed in the US. Hookworm infections are considered a 19th century insanitation disease in the developed world.  NOT in 'Merica!  Reporting of hookworm infections is spotty because poor residents fear they will be prosecuted by Alabama authorities who are unsympathetic to their plight.  Poor families living on $700 a month cannot afford to install their own required septic systems.  An estimated 80% of "Bloody" Lowndes County, as it was known during the Civil Rights Movement, is without municipal sewage disposal.

Voting rights are still an issue in the Black Belt.  Rapporteur Alston was informed of the difficulties black voters have getting to polls and providing the proper required ID.  More importantly, residents complain of political candidates who are not concerned with their abject poverty or do not represent their interests effectively.  Nevertheless, it was black voters in Alabama that saved 'Merica from another white supremacist in the Senate. (a whopping 98% of black women voted for white man Doug Jones).  Democrat Jones did not mount an attack upon either Judge Moore’s viciously antidemocratic positions or the history of failure of the Republican Party within the state of Alabama, which has orchestrated massive cuts to public programs.  Instead he choose to focus his campaign on allegations of sexual misconduct by his opponent, and pro-business positions.  Once again the political duopoly that eviscerates 'Merica deliberately ignores glaring social inequity to protect the plutocracy.