Achieving the UN Millennium Development Goals

This blog's purpose is to connect in an every widening and deepening manner with others across the globe in support of the United Nation's Millennium Development Goals.

Let's be the first generation to end poverty by 2015 with the United Nations' Eight Goal Millennium Campaign.
1. End Hunger 2. Universal Education 3. Gender Equity 4. Child Health 5. Maternal Health 6. Combat HIV/AIDS and other diseases 7. Environmental Sustainability 8. Global Partnership.

Learn more about what this weblog is trying to accomplish at the new PBworks Wiki.

Speaking Out for the Millennium Development Goals

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What If - Millennium Development Goals Ending Poverty 2015

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Zunia update on OLPC

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One of the early influences in this web journey was One Laptop Per Child program, which I learned of first from TED Video Nicholas Negroponte on One Laptop per Child.

The program has always engendered controversy in its implementation, its attempted partnership with Intel and the larger issues of how the program fits into the educational programs of developing nations. Whether it would reach its full potential has been a question. At times it seems to have been A Hopeful Idea Hopelessly Mired?

I had not thought about OLPC for quite a while when Zunia recently raised the issue again. This time the discussion is more extensive and deeper because of the time that the program has been out there and the shared experiences of those on-the-ground trying to make the best of the program. This post only scratches the surface of what the Zunia articles and extended discussions offer. I plan on reading them again to get a better understanding, not so much of the OLPC program but the challenges faced by organizations that attempt to create educational programs in developing nations that address the challenge of Millennium Development Goal 2. Universal Education. The discussion demonstrates that despite the best of idealistic intentions, implementing these programs is both difficult and complex.

Zunia asks, under both Education and Science & Tech ICT, What Have We Learned From One Laptop Per Child?

Four years ago, Nicholas Negroponte introduced the world to the "One Laptop Per Child" idea at WSIS by showing off a "$100 laptop" with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. The educational and technology fields haven't been the same since.OLPC has impact deeper and farther than just XO's passed out or more...

Dweep Chanana provides the counterpoint in the Educational Technology Debate with Wayan Vota on what the OLPC has achieved thus far. He disagrees with claim that that the OLPC is “changing education, technology, even culture in ways beyond any one person’s understanding.” Instead he takes the position OLPC is not “revolutionalizing” education

For one lets be realistic that the OLPC is not “revolutionalizing” education. Yes, OLPC will soon have 1 million XO laptops in circulation. But compare that with 121 million children not in school, 668 million children that started primary school in 2007, or the 774 million illiterate adults and the OLPC does not seem that revolutionary. No doubt, computers will be important in the future to deliver education, but a lot of schools still struggle with having a blackboard or even a building. So lets not overstate either the scale or the impact of the OLPC.
Scott Kipp writes about What We Learned From OLPC Deployments
I think there is a great deal being learned from the story of the OLPC Foundation itself, and even more still from the myriad OLPC deployments around the world. Lessons from OLPC projects will be coming out for years to come, to help better match the tools to the desired pedagogical approach.
According to Leland Smith For Real OLPC Impact, We Need Infrastructure
I was in the Peace Corps in Cape Verde as an ICT volunteer from 2006 to 2008, and while I was there, the One Laptop Per Child project came on my radar and I became pretty enamored of the prospect of bringing some XOs to the country, or at least raising awareness of the idea within the government.

However, after considering all the obstacles with some fellow volunteers and local educators, including a Ministry of Education delegate, I kept running into the same issue: So we get the laptops, and then what? We discussed the potential of OLPC endlessly, but eventually came to the conclusion that the program was a mess, especially after the departure of some of their best minds and the insistence that the hardware is the only thing to supply. But if OLPC itself won’t supply the rest of the framework, somebody must.

Friday, December 18, 2009

The End of Copenhagen and we start again

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I agreed to do a post on the 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference in support of OXFAM efforts. They came up with a pretty intense video to convince people to sign the petition against global warming. This is another Bloggers Unite effort. My current struggles at work meant that a number of draft posts are going by the wayside but I am putting together a post from a number of sources hopefully covering where everything ended up, kinda of.

When I woke up this morning the New York Times was reporting

Obama Presses China for Accountability on Climate

President Obama called on world leaders to move swiftly to address climate change, and, in a direct challenge to China, pressed for a global climate change accord to include a way to monitor whether countries are complying with promised emissions cuts.
The World leaders went through the final hours of direct negotiations. The UK Prime Minister has directly appealed to Avaaz to build the tidal wave of public pressure needed to reach a deal that stops catastrophic global warming of 2 degrees.

"What you're doing through the internet around the world is absolutely crucial to setting the agenda. In the next 48 hours, don't underestimate your effect on the leaders here in Copenhagen"
UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown
On an emergency conference call with 3000 Avaaz member

They came up with 13,788,513 in response.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu told hundreds of delegates and assembled children:
"We marched in Berlin, and the wall fell.
"We marched for South Africa, and apartheid fell.
"We marched at Copenhagen -- and we WILL get a Real Deal."
President Obama also spoke.
"We are ready to get this done today but there has to be movement on all sides to recognize that it is better for us to act than to talk. Better for us to choose action over inaction; the future over the past. With courage and faith, I believe that we can meet our responsibilities to our people, and to the planet."

According to Foreign Policy Magazine

A frustrated U.S. President Barack Obama addressed U.N. climate talks in Copenhagen on Friday and urged countries to accept an agreement, even if imperfect, though he stopped short of promising new U.S. emissions cuts. "No country will get everything that it wants," he said.
Does any of this make any difference? Many say no, but according to GinaMarie Cheeseman of Care2 Global Warming even if it occurred A Failure At Copenhagen May Be a Blessing In Disguise

Perhaps when it comes to the very real possibility that COP15 may be a virtual failure, Time magazine said it best:

The failure of the summit may be a blessing in disguise, because when it comes to dealing with climate change, the last thing we need right now is yet another empty agreement and yet more moral posturing.

The Time article also said that the focus needs to shift from “trying to make fossil fuels more expensive” to “making alternative energy cheaper.” In short, we need a new industrial revolution

I am still trying to absorb it all and figure out what it all means.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

A Coalition of Advocates (and me) Supporting the Presidential Study Directive on U.S. Global Development Policy

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ONE is joining forces with the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN)—including:

They are combining efforts across the Aid Advocacy community to help elevate the call for development and foreign assistance reform for President Obama and his key advisors through the Presidential Study Directive on U.S. Global Development Policy.

Tom Hart, Director of Government Relations at ONE.org advised in an email:

Right now, President Obama and his senior advisors, led by National Security Advisor James Jones and National Economic Council Director Lawrence Summers, are preparing a Presidential Study Directive that will shape the future of U.S. efforts to alleviate poverty, fight disease, and create economic opportunity for the world's poorest people.

The petition they want us to sign, with my two cents added, reads:

Please create a U.S. global development strategy giving development a strong voice in foreign policy decisions and coordinating efforts to alleviate global poverty, fight disease, and create economic opportunity.

This would be the strongest message that you could send to the rest of world supporting the vision you put forth when accepting your Nobel Peace Prize. It would also be one of the most significant actions the United States could take in supporting the United Nations Millennium Development Goals especially to end poverty.

MFAN will deliver the petition to key White House contacts on December 18. They are looking to get 25,000 signature and so far they have 23,989 with 3,999 from California. So this time I am getting this out about a week early giving anyone who reads this an opportunity to add their voice so that they reach their goal.

Enjoying Victories - Whether by Democrat or Republican - Whether by Activist or Slacktivist

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This blog endeavors to support the United Nations' Eight Goal Millennium Campaign by supporting the actions of a number of advocacy organizations including ONE. These actions often involve supporting the many different laws focused on the Millennium Development Goal to End Hunger.

Just before Thanksgiving, I sent in my comments urging my Congressional representative (Republican) to sign on to the Berman-Kirk letter requesting a robust International Affairs Budget. I was told that he would take it under advisement.

Well, whether he supported it or not (not), the overall Berman-Kirk FY2011 Budget Campaign was a Resounding Success and a bipartisan one.

A victory in the fight to "Upgrade Aid" occured when the Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted 15-3 to pass the Foreign Assistance Revitalization and Accountability Act (S.1524) through their committee.

The bill we passed today…is the product of well over a year of research and analysis by Senators and their staffs. It has attracted the support of most development groups, led by the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network. It is co-sponsored by a bipartisan group of 19 Senators, twelve of whom are members of this Committee. This level of backing for a bill related to foreign assistance structure is extremely rare. It provides an opportunity to build something approaching a consensus on this issue.

Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN)
Committee Ranking Member

This legislation demonstrates Congress’s commitment to strengthening the capacity, accountability and effectiveness of our foreign aid programs. With the U.S. facing critical foreign policy and development priorities worldwide, it is vital that we update our foreign aid programs to reflect the new challenges of the 21st century.

Senator John Kerry (D-MA)
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman

I’ve been able to see our foreign assistance dollars in action and am proud of the role we are playing in producing positive change in the lives of millions around the world, but at the same time, I share the frustration of many Americans that our foreign assistance efforts have often lacked transparency, coordination, monitoring and evaluation. This bill begins to reinvigorate USAID to improve the coordination, execution and efficiency of U.S. assistance so we can make each dollar go farther.

Senator Bob Corker (R-TN)
Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on International Development
and Foreign Assistance

This is one of the most significant pieces of foreign assistance legislation that has passed out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in decades. I am proud that this is truly a bi-partisan bill, developed in a collaborative manner and that it includes input from a wide range of voices. These programs are critical to millions of people around the world, they contribute to our mutual economic health, and are in the direct national security interests of the United States.

Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ)
Chairman of the Subcommittee on International Development and Foreign Assistance

Over 47,000 ONE members signed the petition
19 senators signed on—
9 of these since the campaign was first launched.

Sheila Nix, the U.S. Executive Director, ONE.org tells us that the next step for aid reform will be the White House Presidential Study Directive on U.S. global development, which General Jim Jones and Dr. Larry Summers are working on right now. Stay tuned to the ONE Blog and your email for updates and opportunities to take further action.

The need for this effort is made clear by the testimony of Dr. Helene Gayle, president and CEO of CARE.

In the video she testifies in defense of Global Hunger and Food Security legislation, specifically the Global Food Security Act (HR3077) and the Roadmap to End Global Hunger Act (HR2817).

However, it seems that these bills are still languishing so the work still needs to continue.

Help Free Aung San Suu Kyi - Late Better Than Never - Small Better Than None

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In my last post I wrote about not participating in the Amnesty International letter writing campaign and provided some excuses for not doing so. The undone and unsent posts remained in my drafts and one in particular gnawed at me.

Amnesty International had reminded me that the military rulers of Myanmar have jailed thousands in their efforts to crush all dissent – including prisoner of conscience and Nobel Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi. But the pressure on Myanmar's leaders is building, and Suu Kyi's release is not only possible today, but could happen very soon.

The more letters we send, the better chance we have at setting Aung San Suu Kyi free.

Aung San Suu Kyi has been a source of inspiration for both this blog and for My Pathways to New Paradigms, which helped define this journey. There have been times when I have been skeptical of these efforts but this time I am putting those thoughts aside.

So even if it is the end of the campaign and its is only one letter, I fulfilled a pledge to write a letter on behalf of Aung San Suu Kyi: Yes, I will write a letter!

Senior General Than Shwe
Chairman State Peace and Development Council c/o Ministry of Defense Naypyitaw UNION OF MYANMAR (Burma)

Dear Senior General:

I am deeply concerned that Nobel Peace Prize winner Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was sentenced in August 2009 to 18 months of house arrest after already spending 14 of the past 20 years under detention or restriction because of her work to protect human rights in Myanmar. She is one of more than 2,100 political prisoners detained in Myanmar, including student leaders Htay Kywe, Mie Mie, and Zaw Htet Ko Ko, Buddhist monk U Gambira, and political activist U Win Htein.

The sentencing of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to 18 months of detention is an affront to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which your government is obliged to uphold as a member of the United Nations.


Our President Obama urged Myanmar's Prime Minister, Thein Sein, to release democracy leader, Aung San Suu Kyi and other political prisoners in Myanmar when he met with the leaders of ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations)
.

I urge you to demonstrate Myanmar’s commitment to human rights by ordering the immediate and unconditional release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and all other prisoners of conscience in Myanmar.

Thank you for your attention to this urgent matter.


Sincerely,


Brian Dowling


copy to:
U Myint Lwin Minister-Counselor,
Charge d’Affaires Ad
Interim
Embassy of the Union of Myanmar
2300 S Street NW Washington, DC 20008
Fax: 1 202 332 4351 Email: info@mewashingtondc.com


It is a very minor effort in this year's Amnesty International Global Write-a-thon which has as this year's goal 10,000 activists sending 250,000 letters compared to last year's of 7,000 people in the U.S. who wrote 200,000 letters in support. Still, it will add one more straw to the junta's back. Even though the effort seems meager and last minute, I keep in mind what else Amnesty International reminded me about.

P.S. – We've seen prisoners freed and lives spared when letters flood into government offices! Just last year, Ma Khin Khin Leh, a school teacher in Myanmar and Hana Abdi, a women's rights advocate in Iran, were both released from prison after Write-a-thon letters overwhelmed their respective government offices.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Getting Down to Basics and Helping Where We Can

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My exploration of paradigm shifts moving from an individual level to a global level has always been predicated on a belief in the human right and ability to transcend circumstances. Before establishing the Millennium Development Goals we need to start with the basic premise of Human Rights. Everyone should have the right not to be hungry, not to be uneducated, not to suffer from disease and to have the economic tools necessary to achieve this.

To achieve this though there needs to be a more basic definition which is provided by Youth for Human Rights International which has the highest click rate by eight times on my FeedBurner account. This is something people care about.

- What Human Rights Are. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

  • Do you know what Human Rights are?
    Every person is entitled to certain rights – simply by the fact that they are a human being. They are "rights" because they are things you are allowed to be, to do or to have. These rights are there for your protection against people who might want to harm or hurt you. They are also there to help us get along with each other and live in peace.

Trouble is that I am still a slacktivist and because of pressures (budget cuts/layoffs) from my real life/day job I did not participate in the Amnesty International letter writing campaign [This changed the next day/post]. I feel a sense of guilt and frustration about this. I did get a chance to communicate with my two Senators a few weeks ago on an important issue that I am told helps Amnesty International's on-the-ground efforts, even slacktivists try to help in their own way.

Senator Barbara Boxer Senator Dianne Feinstein

I urge you to take an important step for human rights and a crucial step for women's rights by supporting Senate consideration of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). The Women's Convention is the best instrument for advocating effectively on behalf of women's human rights in Afghanistan and around the world. CEDAW is the only treaty to provide an international standard for promoting the basic human rights of women. The Convention provides important measures to ensure the full development and continued improvement of women's human rights at home and abroad by addressing such issues as violence against women, access to education and health care and equal protection under the law.

The past several months have underscored the fundamental importance of the protection of human rights, and particularly the protection of women's rights. The overwhelming adoption of this Convention by more than 185 countries serves to counter claims that in any culture discrimination, domestic violence, and other forms of oppression are acceptable.

I ask you to support Senate consideration of CEDAW during this Congress. Please tell me how you intend to address this issue.


Sincerely

Brian Dowling

I received an answer from Senator Boxer a week ago.

Dear Mr. Dowling:

Thank you for writing to me in support of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). I appreciate the opportunity to hear your views.

Since first joining the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1999, I have been a strong advocate for U.S. ratification of CEDAW. In 2002, the committee voted to approve CEDAW. Unfortunately, this treaty has not yet been brought before the full Senate for a vote.

I believe that the American effort to promote human rights and equality for women around the world will be much more effective and credible if we join with other nations and ratify CEDAW without further delay. That is why I am very pleased that we now have a President who has publicly pledged his support for CEDAW and has encouraged the Senate to take action.

Because I feel so strongly about CEDAW, I will continue to fight for its ratification in the U.S. Senate.

Thank you for contacting me about this important treaty. Please do not hesitate to contact me again about this or any other issue of importance to you.

Barbara Boxer
United States Senator

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Thanks, Obama is going to Copenhagen

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Bad news first, I am way behind doing posts for this blog and the situation with Copenhagen and the smoking e-mails has been moving too fast for me to keep up. Good news, before I was overwhelmed at work I was able to get my two cents in through a number of the organizations this blog supports. Better yet, all those emails from activists and slacktivists alike seems to have made a difference so the good people from CARE have let me know. I know that Avaaz (235,980 last count trying for 240,000) and 350.org are continuing the campaign and taking it to the streets of Copenhagen and streets around the world. Even if I can't keep up like I would like hopefully others can.

Dear Brian,

Thank you for sending a letter to President Obama encouraging him to personally attend the United Nations Convention on Climate Change in Copenhagen.

You made a difference! Thanks in part to your efforts, the president will be attending the conference. The White House statement confirming President Obama's presence said, ''The president believes it is possible to reach a meaningful agreement in Copenhagen. ''The announcement also called President Obama's decision, ''a sign of his continuing commitment and leadership to find a global solution to the global threat of climate change.''

Your commitment helps make the world a brighter place for all, and I look forward to working with you again soon. Together, we are helping to create a world without poverty.

Sincerely,
Helene Gayle

Helene D. Gayle, MD, MPH
President and CEO


This is what I said beyond the template email plea to President Obama:

Whether they are afflicted because they are at the lowest rungs of the world economy or because they are one of the low lying nations facing extinction from global warming people or in danger of dying or barely surviving. It is the failure of the majority of nations not to have the political will to come together and address the issues. They had the will to promise under the Millennium Declaration, but not the will to fulfill the promise in particular Millennium Development Goal 7 Environmental Sustainability. COP15 would be a step in the right direction if nations put aside their own particular interests and look to the good of the planet.

We have a chance to take a positive leadership role in the world and bring needed change. We are now suffering from an international economic crisis and global climate damage. One billion are in even greater danger of overwhelming disaster. We have the greatest resources at our disposal on the planet, so we should take up the greatest responsibility. It is going to take a global effort and we should be a significant part.

World Aids Day Seeking Comfort and Hope

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My last post was on World Aids Day supporting the BloggersUnite event in support of day. Truth be told it was a last minute post thrown together during my real life/day job lunch hour but I wanted to get something up. Despite the last minute effort, I got a comment from somebody who has been touched by the destruction of this disease, so I thought it worthwhile to pass it along.

VictorStephens commented on BloggersUnite Reminds that Today is World AIDS Day and so does the rest of the world - Milestones For A New Millennium:

HIV/AIDS has touched the soft spot of people globally. In almost all countries over the world, there are many associations, charitable organizations, religious missions and several other bodies have setup funds, donations and other aid to help the unfortunate AIDS victims. I have personally seen innocent children of tender age affected by aids which was no fault of theirs. AIDS today has definitely become a global problem. Much has been said of this dreaded disease, but sad to say, the statistics adds on daily. When is the world going to say that we have conquered AIDS? Do we just talk about it only? What promise and comfort has the future for these poor victims?

Site/Blog URL: http://familyget-togetherhaven.blogspot.com

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

BloggersUnite Reminds that Today is World AIDS Day and so does the rest of the world

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BloggersUnite is getting bloggers together today to recognize World Aids Day. World AIDS Day, observed December 1 each year, is dedicated to raising awareness of the AIDS pandemic caused by the spread of HIV infection. The fact that it remains a global affliction is why it is the 6th Millennium Development Goal Combat HIV/AIDS and other diseases.

What is inspiring is that this is a cause that brings out the best in people. People can get involved at that global level and at the local level, whether they are the rich and famous or just every day folks.

The Catholic Medical Mission Board reminds us for the reason for World Aids Day and provides both reasons to celebrate and reasons to continue the work.
World AIDS Day; a day that reminds us that HIV has not gone away. The scope of the problem seems overwhelming; 33 million people infected, 15 million children orphaned.
60 second video Our efforts to fight HIV/AIDS have already made an impact on countless lives. In the last year, with your help, we have:

  • reached 69,786 women with counseling and testing,
  • reached 53,184 men, women and children with life-saving antiretroviral treatment,
  • provided short course antiretrovirals for HIV prevention in pregnancy to 1,940 women,
  • shipped to 39 countries, donated medicines and medical supplies valued at 265 million dollars,
  • sent more than 500 healthcare volunteers to 27 countries.

World AIDS Day

"The people we are helping are living proof of the strength and depth of the human personality."

-John F. Galbraith, President and CEO

Sam Davidson of 5 MINUTES OF CARING shares the idea of glocal which readily applies to this issue and the efforts being undertaken today.

The term "glocal" is used to draw attention to an idea that has both "global" and "local" implications. AIDS certainly fits the bill. Worldwide, over 33 million peopleare living with HIV, and over two million of those are children. Sub-Sarahan Africa is hit the worst with it, and no part of the world is immune to AIDS. So today, learn more about AIDS and then take action on a global level. Whether you support an NGO doing work on the ground, or just pass along this article to a friend, spend five minutes looking at the big picture.

For World AIDS Day, Ashley Greene, ONE Member joined some friends from TV and film to make a video sharing our commitment to defeating extreme poverty and preventable disease. This blog is a small voice but it can also help spread the word.




The more people talk, the more we can accomplish. Just sharing your commitment to fighting global poverty with your friends can inspire them to make the same commitment, and start up a buzz that will build into a roar of collective action.

Throughout history we've seen how committed people, together, can change laws, break barriers and decide elections. And together, we can defeat extreme poverty and eradicate preventable, treatable diseases including HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis.

But it takes all of us working together across borders, time zones, cultures...through advocacy, action, and awareness-raising.

Millennium Bloggers (more at the Wiki)

Global News Sources

The Other Blog - My Pathways to New Paradigms

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