It seems incredible, maybe even highly unlikely given their current practices, but I vaguely remember a time when the big three American television networks—ABC, CBS, and NBC—made a real effort to inform their viewers of not only significant events but of the struggles other human beings around the world have to endure to survive. Sure, ABC's David Muir, CBS's Scott Pelley, and NBC's Lester Holt will occasionally delve into a story not myopically centered around Americans or how the world and its people effect us but it is rare. In many ways it is not entirely the major anchors fault. Their corporate masters don't want the American public too informed or upset. If the former happens the status quo might become threatened and as for the latter, a disturbed population will not be inclined to go out and buy all the neat stuff we see in the commercials between the fluffy, feel good stories.
Now to be fair there is one bright spot, the Public Broadcasting Service in this country does an outstanding job of television journalism even though most Americans will not make the effort to watch in depth stories. The reasons run from the understandable, like a family making dinner to a stressed out parent trying to help their child with homework, but truthfully the short American attention span and willful ignorance are always high probabilities.
Still though, if someone is attentive and widens their perspective a little it is easy to learn about what is going on in the world and that there some reasons to be hopeful. Just today I was listening to Neil deGrasse Tyson's “Star Talk”podcast and learned that former President Jimmy Carter and his foundation have almost eliminated one of the most horrific diseases on the planet.
Called guinea worm disease or Dracunculiasis you contract this illness by drinking water containing water fleas that carry the guinea worm larvae. After the water fleas are ingested and die the guinea worm larvae penetrate the host's stomach or intestinal wall and then enter the abdominal cavity where they take up residence to grow. After a three month maturation, mating takes place and the male worm then dies and is absorbed by the host's body.
A year late with no signs of the parasitic infection showing in the host, the female worms migrate down the body to tissues along long bones or joints and move close to the surface forming a blister on the skin. The blister causes a painful burning sensation as the worm emerges and the host will often immerse the affected area into water to relieve the agony. It is during this time the adult female worm emerges from the body that it releases hundreds of thousands of her offspring in the water completing its life cycle and contaminating the water. As the adult worm leaves the host it will be difficult, if not impossible for him or her, to walk or work. It is not uncommon for the host to die in the end. Another diabolical aspect of this disease is that a person can easily be reinfected since the host develops no immunity like in the case of chicken pox.
This disease has been around for literally thousands of years with historians saying it was mentioned in the Old Testament as Moses lead the Israelites out of Egypt. The traditional method to remove the worm is to slowly wind it around a small stick, a process that in itself is very painful and can take weeks since the organism can reach the length of 60 to 100 centimeters long. (For the Metric illiterate that's about 23 to 39 inches.)
While the Wikipedia article says this illness can infect canines as well as humans the doctor Neil deGrasse Tyson interviewed on his show to fill in the technical details of the disease clearly and repeatedly said only humans can carry this disease. He further states that since humans were the only vector, if we could prevent the transmission of the larvae through drinking water not would we stop the disease in its tracks but the end result would be the complete elimination of the worm itself.
Since the “worst president in the history of the United States” and his foundation became involved in the eradication of the disease the number of people inflicted has gone from 3.5 million in 1986 to just 126 cases in 2014! This could well be the first parasitic disease that we wipe off the face of the planet! In a better and wiser world this is a story all the major networks should be running instead of the usual celebrity-related crap and mindless human fluff pieces they can't stop running.
There is no cure or preventative vaccine for guinea worm. This disease is fought through the use of education, the establishment of local health care systems to prevent its spread, and the simple filtration of drinking water. While there are many other agencies and non-governmental organizations working to fight Guinea worm, President Carter has uses his honorable reputation to influence local leaders from national to village levels to combat this disease.
This should say a lot about Jimmy Carter who, instead of charging huge sums to speak at a homeless veteran's charity, is going out into a dangerous world in an attempt to better the lives of the forgotten and abandoned. Although, I've got to admit it takes some brass balls or major obliviousness to go out and charge a fee to charity that helps veterans who are overwhelmingly suffering from a war you sent them fight that was based on lies and propaganda.
This should also say something about our major news sources and their dereliction of duty along with the general ignorance and apathy of a people whose narcissistic tendencies precludes them from giving a damn about anyone but themselves. The little dirty secret is that a great many people in the world don't hate us Americans because of our supposed “freedoms,” no their major issue is often because we're just a bunch of assholes.