The Ten O’Clock News: Living Below the Line

I never thought I’d do the news about an article on Glamour magazine’s website, but I also thought this pose was exclusive to professional gymnasts, so if you’ve got proof UKIP’s not full of shit now would be a good time to let me know. (Please don’t let me try that outside of my Pilates class.)

Anyway.

Amanda Abbington is Living Below the Line

You guys know how during Comic Relief we sit there eating ice cream trying not to cry at all the little children living in sheds and trying to imagine what it’s like having virtually nothing to eat? Well, an organisation called Live Below the Line does a thing where people get sponsored to live, food-wise, on £1 a day for five days, so that we can start to imagine what  it’s like to live in abject poverty. Amanda Abbington’s done it and has written about it on the Glamour website (beware the distracting scroll-y thing).

To balance out all the procrastinating I did reading about Hilary Duff’s marriage, here are some fun facts about poverty! All info is from my Politics course so I don’t have sources, although I’m sure my teachers would be flattered if you demanded that I asked them to provide sources.

  • More people have access to a mobile phone than have access to a toilet 
  • It’s estimated that a country takes thirty years after a civil war to reach the level of prosperity that it held before the war
  • People tend to disagree over exactly how many people are ‘in poverty’ because if the figure sounds too high to tackle, schemes to eradicate it won’t take off. That said, poverty is relative; there are rich people in central Africa and people who can’t afford to eat in the USA. In 2005 it was estimated that about 20% of the world’s population was in poverty
  • Expanding on that: India’s effing huge general election is on at the moment and one quarter of the electorate is illiterate. Please note that India has a nuclear programme, a space programme and its own version of Hollywood
  • There is actually enough resources for everyone to have access. Or there would be if richer people were willing to share…

Okay I’m now mildly depressed and quite guilty about the amount I eat. I might try the Below the Line thing when school’s finished – has anyone else ever done it or something similar? I mean, the last time I did anything remotely selfless and food-related was when I gave up biscuits for Lent back when a) biscuits didn’t make me puke and b) I thought taking part in Lent made me a cool atheist… 

Those were the days, huh. They were also the days I could write a post without screwing with the colour scheme, so apologies if I made anyone’s eyes go funny!

The Eleven O’Clock News: Mixed Messages

Instead of spending an evening threading a post together I went out for dinner, so I had to spend some time making myself look less like a homeless student and more like someone who can use a menu, then actually spend time in public, so this is a total cop-out. I’m also using an iPad, laptop and mobile simultaneously which is actually quite appropriate.

Man travels 1,000 miles to claim bogus prize

Okay so we’ve all had PPI-claim texts and Optical Express and SP Energy and talkmobile and Ladbrokes and Barclays and pension freezes and debt payment ads and yes I went through the phone I’ve had for eighteen months to find all the types of bullshit. But this takes the cake, ice cream, cheese board and coffee and little mints.

In Politics we’ve looked at poverty recently and if I remember correctly, more people have access to a mobile phone than they do a toilet. This is crap (pun fully intended) in itself and is being exacerbated by scammers taking advantage of people who literally don’t know any better.  Mr Malbisoi probably isn’t the only non-Western person who’s been a victim of phishing but how is the west going to educate the rest of the world about the dangers of scams when there are entire TV shows dedicated to getting British scam victims their money back?

I dunno, man, and I need an early night. What’s the stupidest/funniest mobile scam you’ve come across? Have you experienced scams yourself? Yep, there is actually an element of Q&A to all of this!

That includes you, Jay.

The Six O’Clock News: Children In Need, Charities and Cynicism

I mentioned last week that people can donate to the Syrian refugee crisis appeal via the United Nations, and in light of the Philippines’ typhoon and Children In Need’s imminent broadcast I thought I’d talk about giving cash to worthy causes.

Medicins Sans Frontiers is currently fundraising to support their work in South Sudan, the Central African Republic, Syria, the Philippines, Haiti, Mexico, Nepal, Greece and the USA. I picked those names out of a list; you can see the map of their locations here. The World Food Programme, an extension of the UN, is present in Iraq, Sierra Leone, Egypt, North Korea, Ecuador and the Republic of Congo. Their list is here. Comic Relief has projects going in Guatama, the UK, Mozambique, India, Columbia and Bangladesh. This is their list.

I’ve name-dropped twenty countries and, shocker, they aren’t all in Africa. Some aren’t even poor. Most need help because of corrupt governments, war, shitty geographical locations or a mix of the three. (By shitty I mean “in the way of bad weather”, for the record. If it weren’t for the resemblance to a war zone, the Philippines would look very nice for a bit of winter sun.)

So how does one choose a worthy cause? By going on an aid-giving website and picking a location randomly? By picking a cause (sex trafficking, slavery, refugees, queer rights, women’s education, famine, etc.) and donating to a specific charity? By donating to a ‘general’ cause like Children In Need and letting them do the allocation? What about causes closer to home – cancer research, Jeans for Genes, the poppy appeal, local homeless shelters…?

I saw Daniel Radcliffe on The One Show the other day (nice hair, Oprah) and he said that he had to choose the causes that meant the most to him personally. JK Rowling’s charity helps out children who live in institutions, which has a passing resemblance to a certain bad guy in a certain book series she wrote. If I had to choose three charities to support I’d probably go for APEC, which supports families and sufferers of pre-eclampsia, because it’s quite literally close to my heart (yes you can make a pun out of critical illness), something that provides education to children like Camfed and something that strives to improve human rights, like AllOut or Amnesty International. But what if there was a part of the charity that I didn’t like? I’m hesitant about giving to Greenpeace, however much I love the planet, because they’ve got a habit of working against, not with, some institutions. They’re anti-GM, for example, when there are regions full or starving people for whom GM crops would help quite a bit. Humans aren’t going to stop using stuff we’ve made, like nuclear power, so we’re going to have to use our science to make sure that we’re looking after nature without compromising human rights or lifestyles that people arguably should not have to give up.

I’m going off-topic. Children In Need is on tonight and I’ll almost definitely raid my spare-change pot, but if I’m out tomorrow and see a homeless person I probably won’t give them the change in my pocket, because I have no way of knowing whether or not they’re legitimate. Then I’ll feel guilty. Should I? Should I march on the government to get them to prevent people from becoming homeless in the first place? Whose problem is poor people anyway?

I don’t even know any more. Pudsey awaits.