Remember the connecting dots puzzles that one did in the first years of elementary school? Well, today I just want to give some of the national dots, let us do the connecting and see the picture.

On Health:

• The Food and Drug Administration uncovered contamination and unsanitary conditions at a British flu vaccine manufacturing plant in 2003 but failed to reinspect it until similar problems caused the loss of half the U.S. vaccine supply in October (AP 2004/11/18)

• The American public is “virtually defenseless” if another medication such as Vioxx proves to be unsafe after it is approved for sale, a government drug safety reviewer told a congressional committee. / Graham told the committee that there were at least five other drugs on the market today that should be looked at seriously to see whether they should remain there. He cited the acne drug Accutane, the weight loss drug Meridia, the anti-cholesterol drug Crestor, the pain reliever Bextra, and the asthma drug Serevent. (MSNBC News 11/19/04)

• Tommy G. Thompson, the secretary of health and human services, announced that he was resigning, and he expressed grave concern about the threat of a global flu epidemic and the possibility of a terrorist attack on the nation’s food supply.(South Bend Tribune 12/04/04)

On Agriculture:

• More than 12 million American families either didn’t have enough food or worried about someone in the family going hungry last year, the Agriculture Department said Friday. (AP 11/20/04)

• 2005 will be the first year in nearly 50 that America will not turn an agricultural trade surplus. America is about to become a net food importer- From a $13.6 billion trade agriculture surplus in 2001 to a flat line in four short years. (South Bend Tribune ­Farm & Food, 12/04/04

On economy:

• Stocks finish mixed in volatile session Monday as investors worried that the continued fall of the U.S. dollar would spur inflation and hurt the overall economy. (South Bend Tribune 11/30/04).

I do not have enough space to add more dots to the picture, maybe you remember some concerning the employment situation, the price of gas, the increased war in Iraq and other places.

After adding some of your own dots, the remaining task is to see the picture.

Is it a picture of uncertainty, and downhill economy? Are people willing to go to war, and do they see the benefits of this action?

Are common people benefiting from the current situation? Are nationals, immigrants, workers? Are the big transnational corporations and the military better located in the picture? Where are you, your family and community in this picture?

Will we continue to earn and spend in order to support this kind of economy?

Please, let me know what you came up with from this very simple dot connecting exercise. You can write to or to our postal address. We will publish some of the answers.