This week in the magazine, Katherine Boo writes about young, poor mothers in the swamps of Louisiana, their children, and a nurse who is trying to change their lives. Here, with Matt Dellinger, she discusses the piece.
MATT DELLINGER: This week you write about the Nurse-Family Partnership, a program in which nurses intervene in the lives of poor, first-time mothers-to-be and try to help them create a more stable environment for their children. What drew you to this story?
KATHERINE BOO: I’ve spent a fair amount of time over the years with young children in both poor and affluent communities, and what I’ve seen agrees with what a growing body of social research suggests: by the time most low-income children start elementary school, they’re already so far behind their more privileged counterparts that the educational gap is almost unbridgeable. In America’s moneyed and well-educated quarters, parents spend easily a thousand dollars a year on Baby Einstein DVDs, smart-baby sign-language classes, and other efforts to give their toddlers an intellectual edge before formal schooling begins, and those things are only a fraction of the total capital, financial and social, that they’re investing in their children. I was drawn to the Nurse-Family Partnership because it’s an attempt to help mothers develop their babies’ minds in situations in which a thousand dollars might be twenty-five per cent of the annual household income, the mothers are often children themselves, and the intergenerational conflict is of a level and an intensity that would have made Erskine Caldwell flinch. It’s a wildly optimistic endeavor. But for anyone who has spent time with very young children and sensed how much of their environments they’re taking in, for better or for worse, the program has a logical appeal as well as an idealistic one.( Collapse )
Shalom Harari is a former Israeli Military Intelligence officer who has been following the rise of Hamas—the Islamic Resistance Movement—for almost a quarter century. An awkward, voluble man of nearly sixty, Harari gained a measure of fame in intelligence circles when he began to tell his colleagues in internal reports that Hamas, founded in 1987, and initially a small outgrowth of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, would, with its platform of armed resistance, grassroots politics, and Islamic ideology, come to dominate Palestinian politics. Six years ago, while most of his colleagues were anticipating peace, Harari was rightly predicting a second intifada; that uprising led to the decline of Yasir Arafat’s creation and power base, the Fatah Party.( Collapse )
© Keeley 1943
Today, the 31st of January, in the hallowed year, election year, of
'06, could be a memorable day if we all do our part, which is simply
to concentrate, among other things, and do perhaps what a couple of
groups have decided would be useful for the President, I guess his
State of the Union. We might give him some idea of our state, which
is one of great dissatisfaction with him and his regime. And there's
talk of perhaps demonstrating in front of the Capitol or here or
there around the country to show that the union is occupied by people
who happen to be patriots. And patriots do not like this government.
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