In the movie District 9, an alien spaceship stalls in the skies above Johannesburg. After three months with no communication, South Africans decide to board the ship, only to find a million aliens who need rescuing. They move them to District 9, an area that’s a cross between a township and a refugee camp.
Whenever talk turns to how dreadful health care is in countries where the government has a large role in it, I think back to a summer spent in Scotland. Our young son began to suffer from what seemed to be a virulent new allergy, and after sleepless nights and several days of sneezing, we went to the local infirmary, part of the national health plan.
Empires come and empires go—and their collapse, says financial historian Niall Ferguson, is often precipitous (Foreign Affairs, March/April). For example, the economic and military might of the British Empire was sharply reduced by the time of the Suez Canal crisis in 1956—just a decade after one of the empire’s shining moments, the defeat of the Axis powers.
The initial humanitarian response to the January 12 earthquake in Haiti has been impressive. Within weeks, Americans pledged over $500 million to the relief effort, almost equaling their response to the victims of Hurricane Katrina. It’s been estimated that half of all American families have donated to Haiti relief.
Recently three fraternities have been either closed or suspended by their national organization. Caitlin Flanagan made a yearlong study of the Greek fraternity system and concluded that alcohol is the root of fraternity problems. When Phi Delta Theta decided 12 years ago to make its houses alcohol free, people predicted its demise. “It’s more popular than ever, and its amount of sexual assault, hazing, assault and battery . . . have [sic] dropped by 85 percent,” Flanagan says. “If you get alcohol out, you’ll reform the system” (NPR, March 21).