Sunday, June 26, 2005


I had a horrible experience this morning. I had just gotten off the redeye flight between LAX and JFK and was zooming up the Hutchinson River Parkway in the left lane. On the paved shoulder of the road, inside of the concrete barriers, was a mother duck less than one foot away from the painted line. Immediately behind the mother duck were a few very young ducklings. She was waiting for the cars to stop or at least a break in the traffic. The ducklings were trustingly waiting only for "mom" to lead the way.

The traffic wasn't going to stop nor subside long enough for mom and her ducklings to cross the highway (there was another solid line of concrete barriers waiting between the North and Southbound lanes).

I thought about taking the next exit and circling back to shoo the ducks off the roadway. But, as I thought out my plan I realized that my presence would only cause the ducks to run into the traffic to escape me. I couldn't risk that. So, I just kept driving. I prayed that God would lead them back to safety. I couldn't then and I still can't now get the picture of the ducklings out of my mind. So innocent. So trusting.

These are only ducks, you say? These are life, I say, and every living thing is a miracle from God.

Around the world thousand of babies and children are dying due to a lack of food and care. If we could see the children like I saw the ducklings and their helpless mother, would we as a country do more to save the starving children? Let's pray for God's help for all those in need but let's also do what we can with our support and contributions.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Justice, though late, is still Sweet

Today is a wonderful day! Justice has been served.

Forty-one years ago a klansman named Killen lead a group of racists to murder three young men who were pursuing freedom for others, for blacks in America. Killen was not found guilty of his role in the murders because one juror "could never convict a preacher". Killen expected his crime to end the fight against racial segregation but the tragedy swelled the ranks of the anti-segregationists and Civil Rights laws were enacted.

Although racism is not dead, Killen has lived long enough to see blacks participating and succeeding in America in ways and numbers that he could not have imagined. The fight for equality is not complete but it is inevitable. This was the only Justice the three freedom fighters and their families would enjoy until today. Now Justice has been further served by the conviction and sentencing of Killen to, in effect, life in prison. Killen is 80 years old and can not be considered for parole until he has served at least 20 years. Killen will be kept in isolation to protect him from the rest of the prison population as he considers his final judgement.

I will now forget his name but not his crime. Let's all remember what hate can do and may Killen repent and accept what Jesus did for him.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Community Coffeehouse - Concert Tonight!

Community Coffeehouse is holding their regular monthly concert tonight - Saturday June 18th. The artists appearing tonight are Anadara Arnold and Kelly Minter. The concert begins at 7:30 PM at the coffeehouse at 7 Madison Avenue, Danbury.
Come tonight and worship together.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Africa's Suffering - The US Should Do More

The "Group of 8" (G-8 countries) lead by Britain recently forgave the debts of 18 of the world's poorest nations. The amount is $40 Billion. This was the culmination of a 10-year effort by Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer (the equivalent of our Secretary of the Treasury) and a major assault on global poverty. The G-8 agreement was made only after Blair succeeded in obtaining US approval in a recent meeting with Bush. Repayments to the World Bank, the African Development Bank and the International Monetary Fund will be made by the international community. The US and Britain will contribute a total of $2 - $2.7 Billion per year for the next 10 years. All contributors have agreed to not reduce their future foreign aid by the amount of their repayment contribution.

Although the US participation is commendable is the US doing as much as it can to reduce poverty and its effects. Perhaps a look at other decisions will provide an answer. Blair and other European leaders are committed to fighting extreme poverty in Africa while Bush claims that past efforts have not been effective and that the US can not afford to contribute more. I believe the following article provides the answer: Bush's gift of forgiven debt, at the insistence of Blair, is empty. Bush is more concerned with providing tax breaks where they are not needed (mine, for example). The following article comes from the Online version of the LA times.

"Africa's Suffering Is Bush's Shame": Millions are dying because of American policy.
By Jeffrey D. Sachs, Jeffrey D. Sachs is a Columbia University economist and special adviso to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

President Bush last week brazenly brushed aside British Prime Minister Tony Blair's call for a doubling of aid to Africa. Blair and other European leaders have taken on the task of fighting extreme poverty - and Bush watches from the sidelines. To justify its dereliction, the Bush administration perpetuates a mythology that contributes to the premature deaths of millions of people each year.

The U.S. is a generous provider of aid to Africa, the mythology says, but Africa is corrupt and mismanaged and thus cannot absorb more aid. In addition, there is no room in the budget to do any more than what we are currently doing. This multipart fantasy is widely shared in the U.S. and recalls Napoleon's dictum that "history is a fable often told."

The facts are otherwise. Total annual U.S. aid for all of Africa is about $3 billion, equivalent to about two days of Pentagon spending. About $1 billion pays for emergency food aid, of which half is for transport. About $1.5 billion is for "technical cooperation," essentially salaries of U.S. consultants. Only about $500 million a year - less than $1 per African - finances clinics, schools, food production, roads, power, Internet connectivity, safe drinking water, sanitation, family planning and lifesaving health interventions to fight malaria, AIDS and other diseases.

The myth that more aid would be squandered is pernicious. Once in a while, the industrialized countries try to accomplish something real in Africa. Notable examples are smallpox eradication begun in the 1960s, control of river blindness in the 1970s, increased child immunization in the 1980s, Jimmy Carter's initiatives to fight Guinea worm, trachoma and leprosy in the 1990s and Rotary International's bold efforts to eliminate polio this decade.

These interventions throughout Africa were remarkably successful. That they could be easily monitored was a key to their success. More victories could have been achieved - in food production, malaria control and AIDS treatment - if the efforts had been undertaken. Instead, U.S. aid was minuscule and misdirected into consultants' salaries and emergency food shipments.

If the administration were more than modestly interested in helping Africa, it could learn about the huge gains made possible by Blair's plan to provide about $50 billion a year to Africa by 2010 - with the U.S. kicking in $15 billion to $20 billion. With that money, Africa could control killer diseases, triple food production and cut hunger, and improve transportation and communications.

These steps, incidentally, would accelerate the continent's transition to lower fertility rates and slower population growth because they would contribute to a lower child mortality rate and economic gains, which would help persuade couples to have fewer children.

The new aid would not involve guesswork or be a blank check. Consider one example. Malaria will kill up to 3 million children this year, overwhelming Africa's meager hospitals. Yet five measures could end this: long-lasting insecticide-treated bed nets (cost: $7 per net); effective medications freely available to the poor; community health workers trained in malaria control; medical diagnostic capacity at the local level; and indoor insecticide spraying where appropriate. The cost: $3 billion a year for the industrialized countries, $1 billion for the U.S. - about 10 times what's currently spent on malaria control.

The administration's claim that budget restraints prevent more spending on Africa is the most cynical of its contentions. The president has cut taxes by more than $200 billion a year, with the wealthiest Americans the chief beneficiaries, and has raised military spending by $200 billion a year. But when $20 billion is needed to keep the poorest of the poor in Africa alive and put the continent's economies on a path toward long-term growth, there's no money available.

The millions of Africans who die young and the hundreds of millions going hungry are not victims of fate. They are the consequences of U.S. policy.Americans want to do better. (The following is a) Measure of a Continent's Misery

Leading causes of death in Africa (in 2002)

  • HIV/AIDS: 2.1 million
  • Malaria: 1.1 million
  • Cardiovascular disease: 1 million
  • Diarrhea-related diseases: 707,000
  • Poor nutrition: 143,000
  • Syphilis 89,000
  • War: 85,000

Number of people living with HIV in Sub-Saharan Africa (2004)

  • 25.4 million

Number of United Nations peacekeepers in Africa (2005)

  • 51,094

Worst life expectancy in Africa (2002)

  • 34 years, Sierra Leone

Worse rate of HIV infection in adults, ages 15 to 49 (2004)

  • 38.8%, Swaziland

Source: United Nations and World Health Organization