Archive for February, 2008

The pressure is working!! Let’s keep it up.

From the New York Times:

China has begun shifting its position on Darfur, stepping outside its diplomatic comfort zone to quietly push Sudan to accept the world’s largest peacekeeping force, diplomats and analysts say.

It has also acted publicly, sending engineers to help peacekeepers in Darfur and appointing a special envoy to the region who has toured refugee camps and pressed the Sudanese government to change its policies.

Few analysts expect China to walk away from its business ties to Sudan, but its willingness to take up the issue is a rare venture into something China swears it never does — meddle in the internal affairs of its trading partners.

This is a very good step for China. I won’t say it is enough and time will tell if it is mere lipservice, but baby steps are good!

I found this part of the article very interesting:

“Coming to some sort of agreement with the United States is the Holy Grail of Sudanese politics,” said a senior Western diplomat in Khartoum, who was not authorized to speak publicly. “No one has been able to deliver it.”

This holds true though Sudan is awash in investments from Asia and the gulf that would, in theory, allow the oil-rich but development-poor country to prosper more broadly than it has despite American opprobrium.

American approval and acceptance would transform Sudan in a way the billions of dollars from China, India, Malaysia, Iran and the gulf have been unable to: by opening the spigots of Western development aid and with it a deal to reduce its nearly $30 billion in external debt, along with technical assistance to manage the tide of money rushing in.

Unfortunately, the Bush Administration has been very hesitant to take much action, despite having such a large role in ending the civil war between North and South.

It is definitely a mixed bag of how to end the terrible genocide, but it is pretty clear that China needs to be a major role in the solution as does the United States.

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Here are two excellent logos that I found while doing research on Somali Social Services in Minneapolis. The first is from the African Development Center and I don’t remember what the second one is. Aren’t they pretty cool?

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We went to Fort Snelling State Park on Sunday to help fight some of the winter doldrums. We hiked around 3 miles visiting the Historic Fort Snelling and the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers. We saw a total of 13 deer and only a handful of people once we started out onto Pike Island.

We had a good time enjoying the mid-30’s weather while we could!

Ever heard of this day? I hadn’t either until working at Sanford.

NAAPID’s website says National African-American Parent Involvement Day (NAAPID) is a national call to action to get parents, particularly those of children of African American descent, more involved in their educational lives. It is expected that this national observation will open up dialogue among teachers, parents, and students, which will lead to a more conducive learning environment for African -American students from kindergarten through college.

Minneapolis Public School’s website also includes this information:

Monday, Feb. 11, is National African American Parent Involvement Day. This day is designated to emphasize the importance of African American parents and families being involved in their child’s education. It is also an effort to rebuild trust between students, families and schools.
While we will celebrate National African American Parent Involvement Day on Feb. 11, we invite parents and extended family members to visit their child’s school or any school-related activity on this day.
Parental involvement continues to be important at MPS. We know that when parents are more involved in their child’s education, our students benefit through higher academic achievement, increased attendance and an overall more enriching educational experience.

On a whim I decided to contact the Minneapolis Star-Tribune to see if anyone would be free to cover our program. In fact they sent a reporter, videographer, and photographer. I was quite pleased, as was everyone at school. They produced this great video. (There isn’t a way to embed the video, but it is excellent and well worth the effort to go watch.) Here is the article they wrote about the event, it appeared on the top half of the local page!

We had an excellent day with a few parents showing up and the kids really enjoyed the program! We are really trying to incorporate Somali culture into the entire school so that we can all learn from each other!

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Did you know about the Lunar Eclipse tonight? We are expecting a full Lunar Eclipse to occur tonight (Weds) starting at 7:53pm Eastern the entire event will be over at 12:09am Eastern. The full eclipse will occur around 9pm Eastern and last for almost an hour. This is all from USA Today. They have a lot more technical details for you too!

I know of 3 events here in Minneapolis alone, so I’m sure there are plenty of events in your neck of the woods too! Just stay warm out there!

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A great and full Carnival is posted over at The Evangelical Ecologist.

I submitted my post about the recent Barna survey, you know the one where Evangelicals really upset me!

Enjoy the Carnival.

This has been an interesting presidential primary season. Our new home holds caucuses which is a new and different concept, we aren’t registered voters here (although I think we could have done it day of). Stories I heard included people parking their cars on the Cross-Town Highway and walking to their Caucus site to make sure their voice was heard.

What has people so riled up about the election this year? Well their are plenty of reasons depending on what you value and believe to be true. The Barna Group released a report recently that highlighted some of them. The Barna snapshot was published January 21, which seems like a century ago in primary terms, but I’m sure the data will still hold up.

In their own words:

A new study from The Barna Group provides a data-driven snapshot of the U.S. population, providing a dose of objectivity to some much-debated, often-misunderstood issues. The Barna research explores matters beyond “who-will-Christians-vote-for” questions – for now – in favor of examining the perceived importance of 10 diverse issues. Those include a pair of elements (abortion and homosexuality) often linked to so-called values voters, as well as other issues that relate to morality, justice, and social concern.

What are the 10 major issues facing the country? Below is a list of them in ranked order:

  1. Poverty (78%),
  2. The personal debt of individual Americans (78%),
  3. HIV/AIDS (76%),
  4. Illegal immigration (60%),
  5. Global warming (57%),
  6. Abortion (50%),
  7. Content of television and movies (45%),
  8. Homosexual political “activists” (35%),
  9. Homosexual “lifestyles” (35%),
  10. “The political efforts of conservative Christians” (23%).

So what makes me sad? Barna segmented their data into Born-Again Christians and then even further down to see what Evangelicals thought. The rankings changed significantly, and sadly in my opinion.

Born again Christians still think poverty is a major issue (78%), but personal indebtedness is of higher concern (79%). That is ok, I think you could easily make a case that personal indebtedness is a concern ranking up there with poverty. The Born-Again group is pretty close to in line with where I would place priorities. It is the Evangelical voters that I am most saddened with.

94% of Evangelical voters think abortion is the most important issue facing America today. Poverty doesn’t even make the top 5. That angers me beyond belief. What do you think a major cause of abortion is? Yup, poverty! We should focus more on reducing poverty and not legislating morality. Why is it like this?? Why have the Evangelicals lost sight of what the Bible so clearly states? We are so focused on “saving the unborn” we don’t care how the born actually live. It makes me irate to think that we spend millions of dollars on preventing an abortion and then sit back and do nothing when the “teenage mom” isn’t able to adequately support her child. Where is the love in that? Did Jesus say, “Save the babies so they can squalor and face starvation and general lack”? No, Jesus and the Bible talk a lot about caring for the poor. Here are a few examples:

To the Rich Young Ruler Jesus said: “One thing you lack. Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” Mark 10:21

James says “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” James 1:27

We have the power to change the world – it is through loving Christ and loving those He loves.

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