Happy World Malaria Day

Flickr/jamesjordan (Creative Commons)


Sunday is World Malaria Day, and I got you two presents.

One is a crazy tidbit about malaria that you can use to impress anyone you’re having coffee or cocktails with this World Malaria Day weekend. Here it is:

In the 1930s, malaria infected 5 million people annually in the US. (The marshy South was a big source of the scourge, until dam-building dried it up and economic progress brought better housing.) In the interest of wiping the disease out the world over, the US spearheaded a campaign in the ’50s, endorsed by the World Health Organization, to wrap the planet in a big wet blanket of DDT. One of the countries that signed up was Nepal, which had a malaria problem so serious in the west that the only people who could live there were an ethnic minority called the Tharu that had developed a genetic tolerance to the disease. But with the gift of DDT, western Nepal suddenly became habitable to all Nepalese, who promptly moved in, displaced the Tharu, and forced them into permanent bonded servitude, which remained the status quo until the Nepalese government eventually outlawed the exploitation—in 2000. And that’s how a mosquito in the United States flapped its wings and a minority group in Nepal got disenfranchised and remained enslaved right up to the 21st century.

Your other present is a link to a page that tells you, in the event that you’re wondering, what you can do to help fight malaria, from making donations to organizing dance-offs (yep, really). Annual global funding for malaria eradication is $2 billion, but getting the disease under control, says the United Nations, will take three times that. 

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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