Saturday, November 04, 2006

A Dream

A Dream

I dreamt that I saw heaven
rooftops pointed me to a place
in the sky where I was certain
that God could be found

I searched for my darling in the sky
and in the reflection of sky
and of my darling I could
find no trace

searching a lost and empty house
a flutter of wings a cold wind
a wild bird came from nowhere
to scoop me up

Reborn he showed me Reborn
your darling is free at last free
at peace took flight to live free
and hurt no more

I want to extend a special congratulations to the new Mr. and Mrs. Beckett, married on October 28, 2006 in London. May you have many happy years together, James and Shira!

- Jude

Friday, November 03, 2006

I'm Shocked About Pastor Ted

If you want to read about Pastor Ted Haggard from a person who knows about Pastor Ted very well, I strongly suggest that you read The Revealer [Haggard's Downfall]. Jeff Sharlet has been covering Pastor Ted at the Revealer and in a featured article at Harper's [Soldiers of Christ].

For all of my jaded political attitudes, I have to admit that even I am shocked to hear about this "sex scandal." Pastor Ted has put on such a good front.

What always bugged me about the influential and charismatic Pastor Ted is that I, as a Social Justice/Catholic Christian, felt that he was overly judgemental, far too politically conservative, and that he overtly attempted to sway his followers to vote Republican. Jeff Sharlet tells you just how influential Pastor Ted has been:
..he sets the political tone for the Christian conservative movement at an administrative level broader than the influence of better-known figures such as Jerry Falwell.
Knowing that the Republican agenda had very little - often nothing - to provide in the way of real moral leadership on issues such as poverty, healthcare,education, and Medicare for the elderly, Pastor Ted was already a hypocrite in my personal book.

Revelation of hypocrisy is always the quickest way to pop a Chritian leader's balloon. I missed the sound of the air leaving the balloon because, seconds after this gay sex story about Rev. Haggard was revealed, there was nothing left but flattened and torn rubber on the ground. [no pun intended].

I am truly sorry for any Evangelical who made the mistake of trusting or expecting any human being - even Pastor Ted - to be infallible and perfect. As Christians, I have a feeling that his followers will forgive him for being human.... but politically? He's toast.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Global HIV/AIDS - How Can We Pretend We Don't See?

Science and the human heart
There is no limit
There is no failure here sweetheart
Just when you quit

- From the song "Miracle Drug" by U2

Production capacity and an adequate number of healthcare workers and clinics are all-important considerations when it comes to fighting HIV/AIDS in developing nations. In a 2005 Boston Globe article by John Donnelly, we see how economic contributions from philanthropic and government efforts can only take the global fight against the disease so far. The battle to slow the rapidly-spreading HIV virus has come a long way, but there is still a lot of work to be done before a real difference can be made and before we can rest assured that our sincere efforts are not wasted.
Many places, even entire countries, are still not ready to start programs. In the small West African nation of Guinea-Bissau, a shipment last month of Brazilian-made antiretroviral drugs arrived at the airport—and there it sits, because the country does not have trained health workers to oversee distribution.

In a Lesotho village, a mother waits with many others in a clinic waiting room so her child may be seen by the one specialist who has come from far away to work in her village. Photo Credit: Joao Silva, NYT

Clinics are swamped, overcrowded, and backlogged. Stress is unimaginably high among healthcare workers. Because of overwhelming demand,manufacturers of some drugs drugs currently purchased by the US program PEPFAR have had trouble meeting orders because of a greatly increased demand for the drugs.
Several heads of US-funded AIDS programs said the projected drug shortages raise long-term concerns about whether pharmaceutical companies or generic manufacturers have the capacity to keep up with rising future demands. Still, the biggest long-term problem for AIDS treatment programs is the lack of trained health
workers, specialists said.

[..] donors will have to find ways to increase the salaries of health workers in poor countries to prevent more from leaving their jobs. One important step was the British development agency's decision to give nearly $200 million to the government of Malawi with the express purpose of increasing health workers' pay
New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, who recently wrote about the need and hope for reform in African governments [subcription required], has an eye-opening series of video, photography, and narratives about the HIV/Aids crisis in Africa, done in conjunction with guest journalism student Casey Parks. While Mr. Kristof credits the Bush administration for some of what they've done about the AIDS crisis, there is a very serious problem in the hypocrisy of the unrealistic expectation that we can stop the spread of the HIV virus by sticking to politically conservative guns:
A central problem is that the U.S. program is sometimes squeamish about condoms for young people and obsesses about abstinence. Christina Lem, a friend working on an AIDS orphan project, saw a U.S.-funded aid worker (my emphasis) in Zambia warning kids away from condoms because they break.

The Bush administration is right to promote abstinence, but condoms must be part of the message. Pontificating against promiscuity only goes so far, because often what kills African women isn't flings but marriage
What does it truly say about national and global moral leadership when people are dying unnecessary and painful deaths for a conservative values-judgement?

In Zimbabwe, burial space is running out. From today's NYT article by Michael Wines:
The six government cemeteries in Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital, are either full or nearing capacity and citizens are already casting about for places to bury their dead, the government-run newspaper The Herald reported. The shortage of burial space is tied to the AIDS epidemic, which kills roughly 3,000 Zimbabweans a week, and to the nation’s collapsed economy, which has curtailed adequate food supplies and medical care for the sick. City officials are recommending that the dead be cremated, but cremation runs counter to the culture of many Zimbabweans, and a dire shortage of coal has crimped cremation options in any case. Some mourners are shipping bodies to Mutare, on the Mozambique border, where wood-fired crematoriums are available, The Herald reported.
We may have our own troubles here in the United States, but I assure you they pale in comparison to this. How much longer can any of us close our eyes and pretend we just don't see the suffering?

In the vacuum of political leadership in our nation's capital today, celebrities and our former President Bill Clinton have helped to generate public awareness and funding for the fight against the spread of HIV/AIDS. Michael Wines [NYT] writes:
..what makes the Clintons and Bonos such spectacular philanthropic successes is that they are clearly not only playing a part. [..] Mr. Clinton's gift for bringing passion to humanitarianism has raised hundreds of millions of dollars while decades of those stolid ''You-can-help-this-child-or-you-can-turn-the-page'' appeals have, increasingly, spurred readers to turn the page.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Introducing The Sole of Africa Campaign

A Message From Mike Kendrick; Founder of Mineseeker

Landmines kill, maim, terrify and starve the population. There are over 100 million landmines buried beneath the surface of this planet. Every twenty minutes a land mine kills or maims someone… usually women and children. They render over 800 thousand square kilometers of land useless and terrify millions of people who live in constant fear.The cost to human life is horrific and the economic effect is devastating. This is not an act of God, or a natural disaster - It is a man made disaster that is bigger, in terms of lives lost, than civil disruption and economic deprivation, including the Tsunami, Hurricane Katrina or the Pakistan earthquake.

Using current technology and strategies, it has been estimated that it could take up to 600 years to rid the planet of these devices. It takes a mine clearance operative one day to clear 40 sq meters. However, the Patrons of Mineseeker discovered a new technology that was available that could condense the removal of landmines to the next fifty years. This ground-penetrating radar, when carried on a stable aerial platform, can scan the ground at 100 meters per second. This technology, developed by the British MOD, has been licensed to Mineseeker for humanitarian de-mining. We deployed the system in ravaged Kosovo and tested it in live conditions. The results were spectacular. This system can fix the problem within our life time. While Mineseeker will liberate the designated landmine areas, it will not stop there. We have introduced the 'Sole of Africa' campaign to make sure that the land is used to grow crops, feed the local population and, most importantly, to empower the people. We intend to take the land and form a cooperative, dividing the land into small farm units.

This cooperative will teach the local population to, sow, grow, harvest and sell the produce. We have formed an association with leading not-for-profit organizations including 'Feed the Children' and The International Youth Foundation to provide a 'Foster Management' to create a workforce and training to farm the land and sustain the development of the land.

We have identified Mozambique and Angola as two areas of outstanding need and will concentrate on those areas until the project is completed. The 'Sole of Africa' logo is a poignant reminder of the job at hand, as it shows just one foot print: Most mine victims that survive only have one foot, so this shows a footprint in the earth… the earth we intend to release back to the people.

- Sole of Africa Homepage

- What is Mineseeker?

- The Sole of Africa blog

Press Releases

09.15.06: Stellar Cast is Joining The Sole of Africa Campaign

08.06.06: Mineseeker to supply new cost effective AIDs tests to Africa

07.07.06: Mineseeker delivers new limbs to Maputo amputees

AMA (Pty)
Artificial Limbs For All
Baron Stationary
Bell Pottinger
British Telecommunications
Charity Technology Trust
Chicken Soup for the Soul
Cisco Communications
Faubion Art
Feed The Children
Food 4 Africa
Fun Money Good Network
Giving Globally
Greenbox Productions SA
Habib Investments
Haines Watts Accountants
Heidi Baker's Iris Ministries
International Youth Foundation
Lele & Associates
Lightship Group
LLoyds TSB
Mark Victor Hansen’s Mega Giving
Maputo Municipal Council
Mozambique National Demining Institute
Nelson Mandela Foundation
Nourish the Children
Pacific Institute
Paul Mitchell Hair Systems
Pulse 40
P.I.M.S.A (Pty)
Polana Serena Hotel Maputo
PR Traffic
Promenade Pictures
The ROK Corporation: The Rotarians
Salvation Army
Smart-Europe Ltd
1000 Angels
2GC Maputo
The United States Department of State for Defense
The United Nations
Trinity College Dublin
Wace Morgan
World Trust Foundation

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

My New Blog

I plan to start a new blog here.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Al Gore Will Help UK Lead on Global Warming Issues

Former VP Al Gore Speaking at the Clinton Global Initiative Meeting in Manhattan, September 2006
Photo by Jude Nagurney Camwell

The hiring of Al Gore by the U.K.'s Chancellor Gordon Brown is a sign that, in the absence of moral, responsible, and ethical leadership at the national level on environmental issues in the U.S., Great Britain is willing to take over the position as the new international leader on global warming. They're borrowing Mr. Gore - one of America's greatest resources - since George Bush has squandered him just as Bush has squandered the good will and good faith of most of the world's diplomats.

For all his squandering, his name should be President George W. Squander.

Gordon Brown is being pegged by many as Tony Blair's successor as Prime Minister. What Mr. Gore decides to do about 2008 is anyone's guess.