Friday, May 16, 2008

Run for Congo Women: Chicago Oct 11

This is a 5K ( I think it's only 5k) run coming to Chicago in the fall for a fantastic cause...
"Run for Congo Women" is a grassroots run or walk or bike or swim or bake or pray fundraiser for Women for Women International's Congo Program. In only one year, it has blossomed into a global movement with a very simple message:

Congolese lives matter. The lives of Congolese women are significant. The lives of Congolese children are precious. They have waited far too long. They are worth our effort. We are running to help.

Runs are being planned in the following cities - keep checking back more information!

Morrison, CO — September 13, 2008
Portland, OR — September 14, 2008
New York, NY — October 4, 2008
Tempe/Phoenix, AZ — October 5, 2008
Chicago, IL — October 11, 2008
St. Louis, MO — October 18, 2008
Raleigh, NC — 2009

Visit the Run for Congo Women website for more info:

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Bread for the World Calls 2008 Farm Bill "Half a Loaf"

Washington, DC, May 14, 2008--Bread for the World president Rev. David Beckmann issued the following statement today concerning the 2008 Farm Bill that is expected to pass both houses of Congress this week and is also expected to be vetoed by President Bush:

"The 2008 Farm Bill represents half a loaf. Congress has increased funding for vital domestic nutrition programs but has failed to substantially reform the U.S. agricultural system.

"We rejoice that additional funding has been given to nutrition programs especially in light of the growing global hunger crisis that is hindering the efforts of struggling parents to feed their children. We celebrate the increases to the Food Stamp Program and funding for food banks. We are happy that the bill authorizes the Hunger Free Communities grant program, which will enable community-based organizations to work together to plan and implement local strategies to end hunger. We are also encouraged that it contains a pilot program that allows for the local purchase of food aid from sources closer to the countries in need.

"But we are missing the other half of the loaf--substantial reform of the commodity programs. Congress has failed to make our commodity programs fairer and more equitable. The bill does little to target subsidies to where they are most needed, but continues to concentrate payments to the largest and wealthiest landowners.

"This missing half has long-term and pernicious effects on global agriculture and trade. Current policies have helped stymie agricultural development in poor countries, leaving millions of people mired in poverty and helping to create the current hunger crisis worldwide. Rather than respond to the new reality of global agriculture, the 2008 Farm Bill locks the United States into another five-year protectionist system that hampers the desperate efforts of small farmers to feed their families.

"We celebrate the important and urgent increases in nutrition funding. But we deeply lament the lack of serious reform of agricultural subsidies in this bill. Many will praise the 2008 Farm Bill as 'the best we can do.' We think the United States can and should do better. Therefore, with a heavy heart, we have chosen a middle of the road stance as the bill moves toward final passage.

"Our stand on the 2008 Farm Bill comes from a Biblical imperative that calls for a 'harvest of righteousness' (James 3:18). We will keep on working to reform the farm bill until it truly serves the needs of poor farm and rural families and all people around the world who struggle to feed themselves and their children."

Criticisms of the Global Poverty Act

This "anonymous" comment just popped up on a very old post of mine about the Global Poverty Act. Since there is likely to be a lot of debate and misconceptions about this legislation this year, I thought the dialogue was worth bringing up to the front....
"Why would you want American citizens to be taxed more in order to give money to the UN, who then will steal as much as possible and give the rest to nations who will steal some more, then give the remainder to people who hate us in the first place? This "act" and people like yourself who support such nonsense are what is wrong with this country today."- anonymous

Here's my reply...
"I'm always amazed at how free "anonymous" is to be rude and accusatory in tone!

Anonymous, I suggest you read the post again and perhaps read the actual Global Poverty Act. Neither one actually mentions a tax. That would be a subject of another post. But to address some of your other concerns...

The UN and the World Bank and other institutions are, no doubt, imperfect organizations. But that does not excuse us from participating in the effort to save millions of innocents from dying.

History has shown we've been unable to eradicate extreme poverty (which kills more people than wars, tsunamis, cyclones and earthquakes) with just charity groups and individuals. The problems are simply too complex and, in many cases, political. To characterize this bill as a "tax" is not only inaccurate, but also ignoring the bigger picture of getting our country to work with others. The GPA would require us to have a plan and to optimize the way our existing federal orgs do development work. We need to have the federal government involved to help facilitate the good work that fed programs, individuals, charities and corporations already do.

Why would we want this? Here are a few out of many reasons:

-We harm so many impoverished nations with our own policies (farm subsidies, for example), it is only logical that we work to undo or mitigate the damage we ourselves cause.

- Failing governments with citizens in extreme poverty cultivate desperation and resentment... which creates a breeding ground for organizations who would resent a wealthy, consumer culture like ours. There are plenty of people who don't "hate" us, but harmful economic policies and lack of cooperation with the rest of the world could certainly push them over to that viewpoint.

-As far as helping people who hate the millions of children under 5 who die from easily preventable and treatable diseases deserve our apathy? If you had a starving child suffering from malaria, I would want to help you even if you were not fond of me.

Anyway, if I were to make an accusation about what is "wrong" with this country, I would not point at you...someone I don't even know. I would say it is policies like the US Farm Bill that keep farmers in developing nations into extreme poverty while oppressing our own farmers and rural families of modest means. That is something wrong with our country that we can fix.

Thank you for adding to the conversation about ending poverty. It's a conversation this nation desperately needs to have."

Monday, May 12, 2008

ONE campaign: "On the Record" '08

Here’s a handy little tool from the ONE campaign that lets you compare the preidential candidates’ statements about global poverty.

These are rather old, they went up sometime last summer. I thought it was noteworthy that Obama and Clinton mention supporting the Millennium Development Goals while McCain did not….then again Clinton and McCain both speak of eradicating malaria and Obama doesn’t. Hard to read much into these early campaign promises. It’s much more noticeable to see that Clinton and McCain are not S 2433 (Global Poverty Act) sponsors because that’s a matter of Senate record.