• Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
  • Achieve universal primary education
  • Promote gender equality and empower women
  • Reduce child mortality
  • Improve maternal health
  • Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
  • Ensure environmental sustainability
  • Develop a global partnership for development

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Thursday, August 21, 2008

New ONE video

This ad features Matt Damon with different Americans' voices - among them Michelle Obama, Cindy McCain and Mayor Bloomberg. Cool!
Click here to add your voice to the ONE campaign to make poverty history.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Acting Globally AND Locally

My good friend, Doug, commented recently on one of my postings regarding the ONE campaign. He makes a good point and I want to emphasize it here.

He said, "I really wish, though, that the US version of the "ONE" campaign also include a commitment to eliminating poverty -- particularly child poverty -- here in America also. Take a look at the Canadian version of the one campaign: http://www.makepovertyhistory.ca/en. Even here in Connecticut, approximately 11% of children are living in poverty (as defined by the Federal Poverty Threshold). In the wealthiest state of the wealthiest nation of the world, we CAN do better, but only if our elected officials hear the message loud and clear that we care about poverty, and that we recognize that it's a problem that plagues not only the developing world, but also families in our own communities."

This is an important reminder that poverty exists everywhere. It makes the news in Africa and other impoverished countries, but it is a real and present reality in the cities and towns of North America as well. In Canada, 15% of children live in poverty (check it out at the Canadian ONE site). According to the U. S. Census Bureau, the poverty rate in the U. S. in 2006 was 12.3%, representing some 36.5 million people. Equally troubling, 47 million Americans (15.8%) lived without health insurance in 2006.

Poverty is a global problem - not an African problem or an American problem, but a human problem. Poverty is a massive violation of human rights. Regardless of where the poverty exists, we have a moral duty to address the root causes and to find ways to improve the lives of those who go to bed hungry, who do not have adequate shelter or access to basic education, and who die from preventable diseases.
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Sunday, August 10, 2008

A Bipartisan Effort - perhaps there's hope after all!

Recently, Senators Tom Daschle and Bill Frist, M.D. National Co-Chairs of ONE Vote '08 traveled to Rwanda. Their reflections were included in an email that I received from the ONE Campaign on Friday. I have included below much of what they said. You can learn more, and add your signature to their petition, at ONE.

From Senator Frist:

Last week, my friend Tom Daschle wrote to you about our trip to Rwanda. We saw the difference America is making on the ground.

We want to support continued economic growth and poverty reduction in Rwanda and across the developing world. To guarantee that, we need to make sure that the next president prioritizes investment in Rwanda and other developing nations to make extreme poverty history.

A great example of the difference we’re making is Rwanda’s gourmet coffee industry, where a lot of hard work by Rwandans alongside strategic support from the United States is driving robust economic growth that is lifting people out of poverty.

USAID (that’s the U.S. government, which spends your dollars), has partnered with the owner of a coffee bean “washing station.” This station purchases coffee beans (“cherries” actually) from local farmers and then they process the bean through a washing cycle that separates the beans by quality, ready for export. This simple step—which was unheard of in Rwanda before 2002—means that Rwanda captures much more of the value of its biggest export crop than it ever could in the past. Rwandan coffee farmers are more prosperous than they were before, because their product fetches a higher price on the world market. And an entirely new processing industry has sprung up, employing thousands. These specialty coffee beans are sold to Starbucks and specialty coffee shops across America.

To accommodate the burgeoning specialty coffee market, these washing stations hire about 200 women to separate and process the beans. These women’s salaries are double what they made before. They use the extra income to pay for medical care and more nutritious food for their children, not to mention school supplies, better clothes, and maybe some livestock.

This is economic development targeted at the poor—a hand-up, not a hand-out. That's a lesson that Senator Daschle and I plan to share with our party leaders at our respective National Conventions in Denver and St. Paul, where new policy platforms will be passed.

Senator Daschle and I will bring along your signatures to the conventions and urge the party leaders to prioritize global health and anti-poverty planks in their 2008 platforms.

Help us seize this opportunity to renew America’s commitment to health, education, and entrepreneurship in the developing world during the next Administration.

This is a strategic moment in which our political leaders need to hear from all of us, loud and clear, as ONE.

Thank you for your work,

Senator Bill First, M.D.
National Co-Chair, ONE Vote ‘08

From Senator Daschle:

I just returned from a trip to Rwanda with my friend Senator Bill Frist, MD and leaders from both political parties. Senator Frist and I went to Rwanda not as politicians, but as students, to learn about people who are rebuilding their country after the unspeakable horror of genocide.

My news from Rwanda is very encouraging. The hard work of the Rwandan people and the generosity of Americans are coming together in partnership to create a model for how we can end poverty in the most desperate countries on earth.

I came home more convinced then ever that we’re all in this together. Rwandans' daily struggle to start anew, even as they deal with poverty and disease, is also our own struggle to build a more prosperous and safer world.

To further the progress in Rwanda and spread that hope, we need to take full advantage of this election year. That’s why Senator Frist and I will be meeting with our respective parties' leaders in the next few weeks, as they’re writing the platforms that will be unveiled at the presidential nominating conventions in Denver and Minneapolis. These platforms contain the policies on which Barack Obama and John McCain will campaign for the presidency.

We're going to ask these committees to make sure that their platforms take on the generational challenge of tackling global poverty, and we need your help to do it.

Click here to sign the petition seen below, and I’ll deliver your signature when I meet with representatives from the Democratic Party – and Senator Frist will do the same on the Republican side – to ask these political leaders to include extreme poverty and global disease in their 2008 platforms.

As a proud American, I urge you to make ending extreme poverty and global disease in the developing world a core part of your 2008 platform by including commitments to:

Fight AIDS, TB and malaria and improve basic health services, particularly for mothers and young children
Ensure access to clean water, basic sanitation and sufficient food supplies
Spur economic growth through equitable trade and investment policies
Modernize and increase development assistance, focusing on partnership, transparency and accountability
Achieve universal primary education

In Rwanda, I saw the tremendous impact of some of the very things you’ve worked to make possible. Deaths from malaria have been cut by 66%, in large part because of the increase in bed net and anti-malarial medicine distribution. The death rate from malaria, as well AIDS and TB is going to continue to fall, because of your work pressuring Congress to reauthorize PEPFAR, America’s global AIDS bill, for five more years.

Victories like PEPFAR are saving lives and giving people in places like Rwanda new hope, making the whole world a safer and more prosperous place. Now we have the chance to make ending extreme poverty and global disease a focus for the Democratic and Republican parties.

My late friend Paul Wellstone was fond of saying that, “The poor don’t have a lobbyist. That’s why I went to Washington.” The hope for a better future that Senator Frist and I saw in Rwanda shows what’s possible when two million of us “go to Washington” on behalf of the world’s poorest people. This summer, together, we have the chance to go to Denver and Minneapolis and show that ending global poverty is a priority for both political parties.

Thank you for joining me,

Senator Tom Daschle
ONE Member and National Co-Chair ONE Vote ‘08

Make the Switch, Repower America - From the WE Campaign

Click here to learn more about the WE Campaign

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Sunday's Gospel - Matthew 14.22-36 - Jesus walks on water

This Sunday, we read Matthew's version of Jesus walking on water, calming the storm, and inviting Peter to walk with him. Perhaps there are two complementary reasons for this story: (1) to serve as an epiphany story and (2) to serve as a short teaching on the nature of discipleship.

First, an epiphany story. At the end of the story, after Jesus has both calmed the storm and rescued Peter, the disciples proclaim, "Truly you are the Son of God." This is reminiscent of the transfiguration story, among others. Something happens that reveals, or makes known, to the disciples the deeper reality of Jesus the Christ. I have to wonder if Matthew added this last part of the story in light of the proclamation of the church of which he was a part. In any case, Matthew's community saw in the inherited stories of Jesus evidence that Jesus was, indeed, the Son of God, leading, of course, to the christological development that saw Jesus as the second person of the Trinity.

Second, a teaching on discipleship. By the time that Matthew compiled his Gospel, the early Christians would be all to familiar with persecution because of their faith. In ancient literature, the stormy sea often represents the forces of chaos and evil. Certainly, it represents here the difficulty of living as a disciple of Jesus. Jesus comes to the disciples in the midst of the storm, thereby reminding the disciples that God will not abandon them in their quest for faithfulness. In addition, and significantly, it is not Peter's faith, but the saving presence of Jesus that matters. Peter's lack of faith does not doom him. It merely creates opportunity to participate in Jesus' divine power.

Okay, so we have an epiphany story combined with an exhortation on discipleship. How does it speak to you today? First, it is a reminder that God has made God's self present to us in a unique and dramatic way through the life, teaching, and early proclamation of Jesus. Second, this same Jesus, through whom we experience God, asks not that we perfect our faith but that we trust in the presence of Jesus. All of us go through difficult times, whether as a result of our faith or simply because we are subject to the complexity of human experience. Part of our challenge is to trust, to believe that God is with us, that God loves us, that God has a purpose for us, and that God will use us to accomplish God's purposes in our world.

"You are the Son of God." And because you are, I am going to step out in faith, believing that you are with me and that you will catch me if I fall. That is good news to all of us who seek to be disciples of Jesus, who seek to participate in the "God project" of bringing about the reality of God's reign here on earth!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Jeffrey Sachs - The End of Poverty

Book cover of Book cover via AmazonIn 2003, economist Jeffrey Sachs addressed the General Convention of the Episcopal Church. In that address, Sachs stated, “Ours is the first generation in the history of the world with the ability to eradicate extreme poverty. We have the means, the resources and the know-how. All we lack is the will." It is that statement that inspired the title for this blog - "Do We Have the Will?" Sachs is one of my heros. He is one of the leading voices arguing that it is possible to accomplish the MDG's and to eliminate extreme poverty by 2025. (Sachs is director of The Earth Institute at Columbia University).

In his bestselling book, The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for our Time, Sachs says "Our generation's challenge is to help the poorest of the poor to escape the misery of extreme poverty so that they may begin their own ascent up the ladder of economic development" (24). I would add to that challenge that of saving the planet from environmental catastrophe (check out this video of Al Gore at the TED Conference, where he talks about the opportunity to create another "hero generation). But I agree with Sachs. If we have the means, how can we not have the will? Sachs concludes The End of Poverty by saying, "Let the future say of our generation that we sent forth mighty currents of hope, and that we worked together to heal the world" (368).

Yesterday, Sachs wrote an editorial in The Namibian called "Where Are The Global Leaders?". His first statement: "THE G-8 Summit in Japan earlier this month was a painful demonstration of the pitiful state of global cooperation." He goes on to give his critique of the efforts put forth by the leaders of the G-8 of whom he says, "It's too embarrassing to watch grown men and women gather for empty photo opportunities."

I'll share this quote with you and then let you read the rest for yourself if you are so inclined:

"President Bush may be too unaware to recognise that his historically high 70% disapproval rating among US voters is related to the fact that his government turned its back on the international community - and thereby got trapped in war and economic crisis.

"The other G-8 leaders presumably can see that their own unpopularity at home is strongly related to high food and energy prices, and an increasingly unstable global climate and global economy, none of which they can address on their own.

"Starting in January 2009 with the new US president, politicians should take the best chance for their own political survival, and of course for their countries' well-being, by reinvigorating global cooperation.

"They should agree to address shared global goals, including the fight against poverty, hunger, and disease (the Millennium Development Goals), as well as climate change and environmental destruction."
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Kat Edmonson - Be the Change

Friday, August 1, 2008

Another reason that I find FOX News so annoying!

It was innocent enough. I was reviewing the articles on my newsreel (on the right column of this blog), and came across one entitled, "Change We Can Believe In." Sounded good! I clicked on the link and came across an article written by Colonel Oliver North. (If you must, you can read it here.) Yes, I know, I should have stopped there, but curiosity got the best of me. So, I read on. Turns out, North's only intention was to criticize Barach Obama for his sponsorship of the Global Poverty Act of 2007. It appears that Colonel North is not concerned about fighting issues such as global extreme poverty - at least not if it means that the U.S. should fulfill its commitment (made, I might add, during President Bush's tenure), to support the Millennium Development Goals.

The United Nations has asked each developed country to commit 0.7% of its GDP to fund the MDGs. North calls this a tax requested by the "globalists" at the UN. He complains, "The concept of the IRS collecting taxes for the UN might not sit well with American taxpayers when gas prices are soaring, the economy is shaky and the Office of Management and Budget is forecasting a record $482 billion budget deficit for next year." Personally, I'd like to give the people of America a little more credit than that. I believe that most of us really do care that approximately one billion people live on the equivalent of less than one dollar a day. I may be nothing but a liberal idealist, but I believe that we really do want to make the world a better place - not just for those of us who live in this great land, but for the people of all countries. Isn't that part of the responsibility and privilege that goes with living in the most prosperous nation the world has ever know?