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

Saturday, February 20, 2010

You Told Your Senator Now Tell President Obama Support Malaria Vaccination Research

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This is still in line with the post I did earlier today. It has been in drafts for over a month but it is an ongoing effort so I decided to put it up.

The Millennium Development Goal No. 6 calls for us to Combat HIV/AIDS and other diseases especially malaria and reverse its trend across the globe, but that has to happen one child at a time. Care2 reminds us that the biggest battle against this disease is for the lives of our children. It's time we stop these needless deaths and develop a vaccine against malaria. »

Children are especially susceptible to malaria because of their fledgling immune systems. But scientists are developing a vaccine that could save millions around the world.

The vaccine reproduces the natural immunity against malaria that usually takes years to develop -- so it is especially beneficial to young children. It was extremely successful in tests in Mali, and studies are set to expand.
Tell President Obama to support studies of the malaria vaccine. »

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Invite to HALF THE SKY Live on March 4

Sphere: Related Content I received the message below from the good folks at CARE and was asked to pass it along. The screening occurs 4 days before my Bloggers Unite post for International Women's Day is due so I am going to share it now.

Half The Sky Live

Dear Brian,

You're invited to join CARE at HALF THE SKY Live, our second annual celebration of International Women's Day.

Inspired by moving stories from the critically-acclaimed book "Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide" by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, HALF THE SKY Live will be an evening of uplifting songs, celebrity discussion and the world premiere of "Woinshet," a powerful short film directed by Academy Award®-winner Marisa Tomei and Lisa Leone that chronicles the struggles of an Ethiopian woman who triumphs over violence and discrimination.

Much more than a night at the movies, the evening also will feature appearances by India.Arie; Maria Bello; Diane Birch; Michael Franti; Angelique Kidjo; Nicholas Kristof; Sally Lee; Marisa Tomei; Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York; Sheryl WuDunn and a surprise guest.

The one-night-only event will be held in nearly 500 theatres in the United States and Canada on Thursday, March 4 at 7:30 p.m. in all time zones. It's sure to be one of the most visible International Women's Day celebrations on the planet!

Please join us in celebrating the movement that's changing the world. Visit www.halftheskylive.com for details, theatre listings and to purchase your tickets today.

Sincerely,

Helene D. Gayle, MD, MPH
President and CEO, CARE


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Saturday, February 13, 2010

Defending the Clean Air Act on the Web and in Congress

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My last post was on the arguments for climate change and my admitting to having little interest in engaging in the all to often flaming rhetoric that makes up the blogosphere. It is a different matter when our elected representatives are doing it, that we have to live with. The Environmental Defense Fund had warned us that Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) had submitted a "resolution of disapproval" that demanded opposition because of its intention to eliminate the Clean Air Act's ability to protect Americans from global warming.This attack would put public health at risk and jeopardize long-overdue action to hold the biggest polluters accountable, reduce America's oil dependence and jump-start a vibrant clean energy economy.The Supreme Court ruled that global warming pollutants are covered by the Clean Air Act and the EPA has begun carrying out the law by taking steps to limit global warming pollution from vehicle and from large power plants and factories.

Fortunately, I have two Senators who support my views on the environment and work to make positive change. I am going to include the information that they provided me in its entirety even though the general rule of blogging is not to have overly lengthy posts.

From Senator Barbara Boxer

Dear Mr. Dowling: Thank you for writing to me in opposition to a proposal that could overturn the U.S.Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) global warming endangerment finding. I share your opposition to this proposal.

As you may know, on December 7, 2009, the EPA issued a finding that greenhouse gases threaten public health and welfare. However, there are efforts underway to curtail the EPA's authority by repealing the agency's finding. I believe that such efforts are misguided and would greatly undermine the Clean Air Act, a landmark environmental law that has safeguarded the air we breathe for decades.

Debating over what to do about unchecked global warming is fair, and the Senate will continue to evaluate the best tools for addressing greenhouse gas emissions, but repealing an endangerment finding based upon years of work by America's leading scientists and public health experts is not appropriate. On January 11, the Majority Members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW) united together in opposition to the effort to overturn EPA's endangerment finding and urged all of our Senate colleagues to do the same. I believe that my colleagues and I will be successful in blocking this ill-conceived proposal.

Throughout my tenure in Congress and now as Chairman of EPW, I have worked to uphold our important environmental laws and lead the way in our fight against global warming. In my continuing efforts, Senator John Kerry and I proudly introduced the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act (S.1733), which would establish strong greenhouse gas emission standards, promote clean energy, and create millions of new jobs. Our bill would also ensure that the Clean Air Act and other landmark environmental protections are not weakened as we work together to fight dangerous global warming.

S.1733 was passed by the EPW Committee on November 5, 2009, and provisions of our bill will now become part of a comprehensive clean energy and climate package for consideration by the full Senate. Be assured that I will work to defeat all attacks on our environmental protections and keep working to see a clean energy and climate change bill signed into law.


Again, thank you for writing to me. Please feel free to write to me in the future about this or any other issue of concern to you.

Barbara Boxer
United States Senator

From Senator Feinstein

Dear Mr. Dowling:

Thank you for writing to express your opposition to efforts by Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) to reverse the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) finding that greenhouse gases endanger public health and welfare, and block the EPA from regulating those emissions. I appreciate hearing your thoughts on this issue, and I welcome the opportunity to respond.

As you may know, last year, Senator Murkowski proposed an amendment to the fiscal year 2010 Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (P.L. 111-88) that would have prohibited the EPA from using any funds to enforce the Clean Air Act to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from stationary sources. Although Senator Murkowski's amendment did not receive a vote, you may be interested to know that I spoke out against the amendment on the Senate floor and have included my remarks for your review.

Additionally, Senator Murkowski has introduced a resolution of disapproval (S.J. Res. 26) to prevent the EPA from regulating greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act, even though such regulation is necessary in order to comply with the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark Massachusetts v. EPA decision in 2007. Under the Congressional Review Act, Congress has the authority to disapprove of a regulatory rule issued by an agency by enacting a joint disapproval resolution within 60 legislative days of receiving the rule. The resolution must be signed by the President in order to overturn a rule. Senator Murkowski has also indicated that she may offer a similar measure to limit federal action on climate change to legislation that would increase the national debt limit (H. J. Res. 45).

Please know that I share your support for taking strong action to address climate change, and I appreciate hearing your concern about efforts to weaken the EPA's regulatory authority under the Clean Air Act. In my view, the United States needs multiple tools to protect public health and the environment from the impacts of climate change. While I believe that regulating the largest greenhouse gas emitters under a new cap and trade system would be more effective and less expensive than regulating these sources under the existing Clean Air Act, I believe Congress must ensure that the EPA has tools to reduce emissions from large-scale emitters in the United States in a way that minimizes costs to consumers. Again, thank you for writing. If you have additional questions or comments, please contact my Washington, D.C. office at (202) 224-3841. Best regards.

Senator Dianne Feinstein

Statement in Opposition to the Murkowski Amendment #2530 H.R. 2996, the Interior Appropriations Bill
September 24, 2009

Mrs. FEINSTEIN.

Mr. President, I know Senator Boxer, the chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, has an hour reserved to come and speak.

First, I will respond to the comments of the distinguished Senator from Alaska. I hope she will understand there are many of us who have viewed her amendment with substantial alarm, for reasons that I thought I might spend a few moments speaking about.

Essentially, as I understood the amendment, which was blocked from coming to the floor, it attempted to prohibit the EPA from using any funds to enforce the Clean Air Act to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from stationary sources.

The proponents have argued that their only goal was to protect small family-owned farms and businesses from overly burdensome regulations. Yet the amendment would have gone much further. In fact, it would actually exempt some of the Nation's largest commercial emitters from climate change regulation, including huge industrial facilities, such as power plants and refineries.

I am very pleased that this amendment is not before us today. The underlying rationale, as I understand it from the amendment, is groundless. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson has made it clear that the agency will not use the Clean Air Act to regulate either small businesses or family-owned farms. I was prepared, should the amendment have come up, to put down a side-by-side amendment that would have clearly exempted any farm, as well as any business, that emits under 25,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year.

Let me point this out. Stationary industrial sources account for over half of the U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, according to EPA. These are the leading cause of climate change, and they must be reduced if we have any hope of containing the worst impact of climate change.The amendment would have hampered the administration's effort to tackle one of the biggest pieces of the emissions puzzle: large industrial facilities. It would have been a major setback.

Thirdly, the amendment would effectively overturn the Supreme Court's landmark decision in Massachusetts v. EPA. In that decision, the Court found that the Clean Air Act requires the EPA to determine whether the emissions of greenhouse gases may be reasonably anticipated to endanger public health or welfare and then comply with the Clean Air Act requirements designed to protect public health from dangerous pollution. Upon completion of an endangerment finding, the Clean Air Act requires EPA to control greenhouse gases from both stationary and mobile sources.

Many argue -- and I happen to agree -- that regulating the largest greenhouse gas emitters through new legislation, establishing a cap-and-trade system, would be more efficient and less expensive than regulating these sources under the existing Clean Air Act.But until Congress enacts climate change legislation, EPA has a legal obligation to follow the Clean Air Act. So if one does not want EPA to take action under the Clean Air Act, then this body should want to pass a cap-and-trade bill.

The chairman of the EPW Committee, Senator Boxer, has been working very hard to put together a bill which has an opportunity to pass this Senate.

The point is, if we do not want the Clean Air Act to prevail, then the cap-and-trade bill is the only way to go. That is a clear incentive for the Senate and the House to pass a bill.

EPA has released a draft endangerment finding which it is going to soon finalize. Yet the amendment would have blocked EPA from completing the endangerment finding and from complying with its legal obligations to protect public health. The repercussions would have been major. It means EPA would not be able to complete a joint rulemaking with the Department of Transportation to increase corporate average fuel economy, which we call CAFE, and create a tailpipe emissions standard for automobiles.

That would have been a major problem. It would block implementation of the 2007 fuel economy law which I authored with Senator Snowe and which took us a long time to get passed and enacted.

By undermining the negotiated agreement between States and the Obama administration, the Murkowski amendment would also have likely resulted in States moving forward with their own tailpipe emissions standards which automakers have fought for years as too onerous. This would have stopped California and 14 other States and the District of Columbia from moving forward with implementing tailpipe emissions standards.

This amendment is vigorously opposed by the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, which includes General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler, the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers, and the United Auto Workers. To that end, I ask unanimous consent to have printed in the Record at the conclusion of my remarks a letter from the Auto Alliance and the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

Mrs. FEINSTEIN. Mr. President, finally, the amendment would send the wrong signal to the rest of the world about the Senate's intentions on climate change. It would suggest that we want to ignore the clear imperative to act, despite the efforts of the administration to motivate the international community in advance of the Copenhagen summit.

There is some concern also about small emitters. EPA is not planning to regulate small emitters. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson has clearly stated on several occasions that the agency will not regulate small emitters.

She said it in her confirmation hearings, she said it again at Senate budget hearings, and she reiterated that comment when she appeared before the Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on EPA's fiscal year 2010 budget just a few months ago.

In fact, Administrator Jackson has sent a draft deregulatory rule to the Office of Management and Budget for review which would establish clearly that all but the very largest sources of greenhouse gas will be preemptively exempted from the stationary source permitting requirements in the Clean Air Act.

She has no intention of regulating small sources that emit under 25,000 tons of carbon dioxide or any small farm. 25,000 metric tons is a very high threshold. According to EPA, it is equivalent to the emissions from burning 131 trainloads of coal per year -- these would be exempted -- or burning 2.8 million gallons of gasoline annually. The 25,000-ton threshold would exempt every small source, focusing only on 13,000 of the largest emitters in the United States.

Let me say that again. The 25,000-ton threshold which EPA intends to proceed with, and which my side-by-side amendment would have had as one of the two criteria, would exempt every small source, focusing only on the 13,000 largest emitters in the United States. EPA intends to only regulate the largest facilities, and these facilities are, almost without exception, already regulated under the Clean Air Act for emissions of other pollutants such as soot, smog-forming nitrous oxides, or acid-rain-inducing sulfur dioxide. Let me now explain why the Murkowski Amendment would impact the joint EPA-Department of Transportation rulemaking on automobile greenhouse gas emissions.

This rulemaking is of critical importance, and the regulation implementing this law was negotiated by the White House in cooperation with automakers, the States, and labor. But according to a letter I received from EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson last night, the impact of the Murkowski amendment "would be to make it impossible for the EPA to promulgate the light-duty vehicle greenhouse-gas emissions standards that the agency proposed on September 15, 2009."

She writes: Because of the way the Clean Air Act is written, promulgation of the proposed light-duty vehicle rule will automatically make carbon dioxide a pollutant subject to regulation under the Clean Air Act for stationary sources, as well as for light-duty vehicles. The only way that EPA could comply with the prohibition in Senator Murkowski's amendment would be to not promulgate the light-duty vehicle standards."

These standards are something Senator Snowe and I have worked for at least 7 years now, beginning with the SUV loophole and ending with the bill that became law, would be totally undermined. By undermining the negotiated agreement between States, the amendment would also likely result in States moving forward with their own tailpipe emissions standards.

As I indicated before, in 2002 California enacted a landmark law to reduce tailpipe emissions standards by 30 percent for all new sedans, trucks, and SUVs by 2016.
I also stated that 14 other States -- namely, Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia -- have adopted or announced their intention to adopt California's greenhouse gas emissions controls.

The amendment would have been a major roadblock in efforts to improve fuel economy standards for vehicles. I don't think we can bury our head in the sand when it comes to climate change.

I would like to conclude by reminding my colleagues that it makes no sense at this particular point in time to put on the floor a major amendment which well could have devastated both the EPA and any effort to get to cap-and-trade legislation when, in fact, the EPW Committee is struggling to write a comprehensive bill which has an opportunity to pass this body.

Again I say, if people do not want the Clean Air Act prevailing, then the only way you can do that is with a cap-and-trade bill. That is the way the committee of this body is proceeding. I believe it is the correct way.

I believe our Nation is in serious jeopardy, as is the rest of planet Earth, with global warming. I believe it is real. Just this week, the Journal Nature published a new paper that found rapid deterioration of the ice sheets on Greenland and Antarctica. Yesterday on this floor, I showed the deterioration in the Arctic. I showed the deterioration in Greenland. I showed the deterioration in the Chukchi Sea. I showed the deterioration off Barrow, AK. It is happening all over the world.

The Flat Earth Society cannot prevail. I think there is a real danger signal out there for planet Earth. We know we cannot reverse it. We know that greenhouse gases do not dissipate and go away after a period of time in the atmosphere. We now know these gases that began during the Industrial Revolution are still present in the atmosphere, and we know that the Earth is not immutable, that it can change. We look at other planets and we see that they have changed over the millennia. What we do here to protect our planet Earth for the next generations is so key and critical.

This discussion has to be joined in an appropriate way, and an appropriate way is when a cap-and-trade bill is produced by the Environment and Public Works Committee and the chairman of that committee is on this floor and the bill is open for amendments and there is a free flow of debate and discussion.

I believe the science is real. I pointed out yesterday we have a project in intelligence whereby the satellites are tracking deterioration in the ice shelves of the world. I hope to present more of that information when there is a bill on the Senate floor.


Sincerely yours,
Dianne Feinstein
United States Senator

Further information about my position on issues of concern to California and the Nation are available at my website http://feinstein.senate.gov/public/. You can also receive electronic e-mail updates by subscribing to my e-mail list at http://feinstein.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=ENewsletterSignup.Signup.

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17+ Arguments for Climate Change and for Action

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This is one of my standard reblog posts made up of rehashed and mashed up info enhanced with additional links. My self serving intention is to combine information from a variety of sources and come up with a better understanding of a particular issue.

Millennium Development Goal 7. Environmental Sustainability has been of focus of this blog before and it is easily the most controversial. This blog does not bother to get involved in the arguments in the believe that it does not actually move anything forward. Instead it takes the view that the more information that gets out there, the more likely that more people will understand and understanding does lead to change. Still, one can't completely ignore the climate change deniers, and in specific circumstances there are viable arguments to be consider against particular aspects of climate change. One good example of such a discussion is here at MITWorld's The Great Climategate Debate. These are venues for finding solutions rather that engaging in vehement political rhetoric.

I have notice one aspect of many of the anti-climate change crowd and that is the tendency to treat the threat of climate change as a singular argument consisting of a few untested assumptions being put forward a small minority whose intentions are suspect and fraught with deception. A few well placed logical insights, usually based on political premises that are beyond questioning, and the whole facade folds. One biting comment from a blog of no greater reputation than this one sends the scientific climate change cronies scurrying for cover.

Leaving the climate change debate for a second, as an municipal economic development professional I do see the 21st century being a clean energy century and America falling behind in this business opportunity without any need to even bring up the topic of climate change. I also stand with the side that says climate change is a self-inflicted experiment that we cannot take a chance on being wrong about.

The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) provided 10 arguments from respected sources concerning the case for acute climate change. The EDF has provided consultation to the private-equity firm Kohlberg, Kravis Roberts & Co on its environmental initiatives since 2007 and a former project manager from the nonprofit is overseeing an expansion of its Green Portfolio Program.

10 startling facts underscoring the threat of acute climate change:

  1. Current level of CO2 in the atmosphere – about 390 parts per million – is higher today than at any time in measurable history -- at least the last 2.1 million years. Science
  2. 2000-2009 was the hottest decade. 8 of the hottest 10 years having occurred since 2000. World Meterological Organization
  3. 2009 will end up as one of the 5 hottest years since 1850, 2010 will likely break the record. U.K.'s Met Office
  4. Arctic ice cover remains perilously thin, it is vulnerable to further melting, posing an ever increasing threat to Arctic wildlife including polar bears. National Snow and Ice Data Center
  5. East Antarctica ice sheet has been shrinking. They expected the West Antarctic ice sheet would shrink. Nature Geosciences
  6. Climate changes are already observed in the United States and… are projected to grow. "increases in heavy downpours, rising temperature and sea level, rapidly retreating glaciers, thawing permafrost, lengthening ice-free seasons in the ocean and on lakes and rivers, earlier snowmelt, and alterations in river flows." U.S. Global Change Research Program
  7. Slight changes in the climate may trigger abrupt threats to ecosystems that are not easily reversible or adaptable, such as insect outbreaks, wildfire, and forest dieback. "More vulnerable ecosystems, such as those that already face stressors other than climate change, will almost certainly reach their threshold for abrupt change sooner." US Geological Survey

Wired.com/Wired Science blog provides another 7 ecological tipping points

South Asian monsoons, the Amazon rain forest and polar sea ice -- all significant environmental systems that control and regulate the climate of the entire planet -- could each serve as the site of an environmental tipping point as global temperatures rise, according to this article. Scientists are unable to predict the consequences of tipping-element changes to the Bodélé Depression in Chad or the Gulf Stream in the Atlantic Ocean, though changes to these systems have already been recorded.
This is only the tip of the proverbial iceberg but it is enough to keep me firmly in the camp that says climate change cannot be ignored.

Yet merely agreeing or acquiescing to the position that climate change is a reality is not enough. The EDF tells us that we have an historic opportunity to cap America's global warming pollution and put people back to work building America's clean energy future. We need your help to make sure the Senate gets the message: The time for climate action is now! Take action to deliver this message to your Senators.

President Obama says that our environmental and economic renewal "starts with a cap and trade" system to deal with global warming. But he needs the support of Congress to achieve this historic goal this year. Please take action now


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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Iran - Counting Down to a Day of Solidarity with Those Who Speak Out

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On Thursday February 11, 2010, Amnesty International is calling for support for those participating in the mass protests standing up to the authorities and the abuses of Basij militia and Revolutionary Guards by disputing the outcome of the last year's June Election. As of this posting, it is February 11th in Iran.

Current local time in Mashhad, Iran

In creating this post, the arena of collaboration that I have chosen is again, Bloggers Unite, who are working with Amnesty International to get the word out on February 11, 2010 which isVictory of the Revolution Day in Iran. Equivalent to the Fourth of July in the United States, it is a day commemorating liberty, independence and freedom.

Admitting to being a slacktivist is my way of recognizing that this blog on its own is only a minor contribution and does not compare with the commitment being made by others. After all, I am writing this from usually sunny southern California where although the economy is bad and jobs are now tenuous, I am safe writing this post rather than fearing torture or death. That for me though is an argument against keeping quiet. Small voice blogs such as this one can help spread the word and push awareness beyond the edge of mainstream news sources. By using multiple means of communication through writing, podcasts, and video we can provide greater clarity regarding the impact of these issues. This YouTube video from the Amnesty International (Belgium Flemish) chapter shows former detainee Ali Kheradnejad talking about his experience.

As Amnesty International asserted

Since blogs and websites like Twitter and YouTube were virtually the only way the Iranian people could expose the horrific treatment being inflicted on them in the days following the contested Presidential election, we full expect Iranians to turn to the Internet once again to carry their messages. That is why we are asking everyone to show their solidarity online on February 11th whether its on your blog, website, or social networking profile.

It is also an assertion that having more slacktivists on the web will not lead to those committed to causes leaving to Farmville on Facebook, as some argue, rather it will help accumulate into potential tipping points of change. This is especially true as these efforts are done in collaboration as with Amnesty International's effort to support protester's in Iran. The sort of effort can be faulted for being "activism for a lazy generation, but as ict.developmentgateway.org, The Boston Globe -News of Iran, edited in Newton and Clay Shirky: Social Media vs. the Dictator demonstrate social media tools such as Twitter can be effective tools in creating social awareness.

News #CNNfail: Twitter Blasts CNN Over Iran Election
Twitter users blasted CNN this weekend for a lack of coverage of the Tehran protests, with Iranian citizens claiming ballot fraud and taking to the streets.
Twitter has proven a powerful tool for spreading news of developing events in the country, but it has also taken on the role of media watchdog: thousands of Twitter users adopted the hashtag #CNNfail to highlight a lack of Iran coverage from the news organization.
Language: EnglishSource: Mashable: The Social Media Guide
Added by John Daly
June 15, 2009 Archive Date: June 15, 2009

News of Iran, edited in Newton - The Boston Globe
The website is called Tehran Bureau, but it is not housed in the Iranian capital. It’s edited from Niknejad’s parents’ living room in Newton

The English-language site has generated a lot of attention over the past few weeks as tensions escalated over allegations of electoral fraud by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s government. When demonstrators were shot and communication with the West was curtailed in a government clampdown, Tehran Bureau’s stream of news alerts and Twitter feeds became a valued source of information cited by The New York Times and other Western news organizations.
Clay Shirky, in this TED Talk looks at how the end of top-down control of news is changing the nature of politics, Iranian protestors streaming news to the world, showing how Facebook, Twitter and TXTs help citizens in repressive regimes to report on real news by bypassing censors (if all too briefly).

Although it is not the primary focus of this blog, it has in the past supported Amnesty International efforts on behalf of dissident Hana Abdi, a women's rights advocate in Iran and posted on Kristof and WuDunn's general theme in their book HALF THE SKY". To wit, the brave women of Iran who took to the streets to protest the results of the recent election.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

A Win for Haiti and a Good Week for the World

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My wife and I made a financial contribution to UNICEF because they stated that 100% of the money would go to directly to relief efforts. Recently Caryl M. Stern President & CEO of U.S. Fund for UNICEF sent me some photos taken last Saturday at the Foyer L'escale Orphanage in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. It is heartening to see that some good is being done.

What you see here is what's happening all over Haiti. Because of your rapid, decisive response to our appeals, thousands of children are alive today.

Look into their faces. Full of life and hope for a better tomorrow:

© UNICEF/2010/Tidey

UNICEF staff pouring safe drinking water for children.


© UNICEF/2010/Tidey

Children at the Foyer L'escale Orphanage.

They are alive today because UNICEF was there: distributing clean water, providing shelter, protecting children from abuse and exploitation.

This week alone, UNICEF:

  • Launched a campaign to immunize 500,000 children against measles, diphtheria, and tetanus;
  • Provided clean drinking water to over a half a million people daily;
  • Installed latrines, bringing the total of new sanitation facilities to 750; and
  • Delivered personal kits to 50,000 children without parental care.

We are now preparing to face the serious risks and challenges that lie before us in the weeks ahead. And with 40% of the Haitian population under the age of 14, this is a children's emergency. These children need to be found, fed, and kept safe from abuse and exploitation.

But just for today, I wanted to show you the very real impact you're having on the children of Haiti.

From all of us at the U.S. Fund for UNICEF, thank you.

Caryl M. Stern

I also added my name and comments to the petition to be delivered to Secretary Geithner and did a post arguing that Progress on Haiti are Lessons for the Millennium Development Goals. The goal was to help Haiti begin to rebuild by lifting the debt of $1 billion it owes to the International Monetary Fund, the Inter-American Development Bank, and a handful of others by getting others to sign the petition asking Haiti's creditors to act quickly and cancel Haiti's debts.

Now Sheila Nix, U.S. Executive Director at ONE has sent a thank you and gave us:

Breaking news: The United States Treasury Department has just announced U.S. government support for complete debt cancellation for Haiti and will work with our international partners to ensure that new assistance comes in the form of grants, not debt-incurring loans.

She credits the than more than 200,000 ONE members who supported this effort calling on the U.S. to take this message to G7 finance ministers' summit this weekend.

Your voices and support for Haiti are the reason we're celebrating a victory on debt relief today. This important news from the U.S. government, combined with the grassroots presence Michèle will lend to the Iqaluit meeting, makes me optimistic that we'll be hearing more good news on debt relief for Haiti soon, as its people look to rebuild and live out their motto L'union fait la force (Unity is strength.)

In fact, ONE will be there when U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and his counterparts in the G7—the very people who sit on the governing boards of the international lending institutions that hold Haiti's $1 billion debt—meet in the far-north Canadian town of Iqaluit this weekend for a G7 finance ministers' summit. Among Iqaluit's 7,000 residents is ONE member Michèle Bertol, and she has graciously agreed to deliver our petition to the host of the summit, Canadian Finance Minister James Flaherty.

Haiti's ambassador to the United States, Raymond Joseph, also recorded a video message to thank ONE members.

I am not going to claim any great role is this effort but I will argue the even small efforts by millions working in common purpose across the globe can make a difference. I do believe that the technology of social media whether blogs with small voices like mine or globe spanning tools like twitter have made a significant impact. The point is that we do have the ability to make a difference. We just need to start doing it before the disaster happens.

Social media fills communication gap in Haiti: BBC

Despite the near collapse in landline and cellular communications in Haiti after the earthquake, social media has enabled people to communicate with one another and organize information. Organizations such as Telecoms Sans Frontieres have been able to provide Internet access for relaying maps, communication and disaster information through services such as Twitter and Ushahidi.

In Haiti, Tech Efforts Move From Relief to Recovery | Social Entrepreneurship at Change.org.|

In the wake of the earthquake in Haiti, all initial attention -- naturally -- focused on immediate relief. Search parties to dig people out of the rubble, and relief workers to set up access to medical treatment, food, water and shelter. But the real process of recovery, which comes next, has far greater implications for a nation's future health and development. That's why it's great to see technology groups that were some of the earliest and most creative responders to Haiti's initial crisis are now shifting gears to focus on recovery, as well.

Seeing the Vision of a Better World

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Back in September of last year, I did a post on Exploring Pathways of Vision, Sight and Insight at My Pathways to New Paradigms blog which was designed to open myself to new possibilities.

This blog takes the idealistic visions of what could be possible and works to identify efforts to make them a reality. The Millennium Development Goals are an ultimate expression of that concept. The idea that individuals could have even a minuscule affect on global challenges that have afflicted the world for centuries takes both extreme idealism and pragmatism. The Exploring Pathways of Vision dealt with the subject from a more academic, scientific and philosophical perspective though it did recognize how this work could benefit millions.

This post looks at real world application in developing countries. Andrew of Care2 tells us that in Africa, approximately 140 million people are at risk of river blindness, a disease caused by the bite of a black fly that breeds in fast flowing rivers.

Fortunately, one tablet can prevent river blindness and Merck & Co. has promised to provide this tablet for as long as it takes to get rid of this disease for free.

Care2 asked us to send a message of support to the volunteers on the ground letting them know you are grateful for their work.

In some villages, most of the adults have gone blind and the children are kept home from school to act as their guides and caretakers. This devastating disease has forced families to move away from fertile lands and fresh water for fear of going blind. Right now, volunteers are working to distribute these free tablets to as many people as possible.

Here is my message to the volunteers at Sight Savers International.

You are not only a great example of humanity for the rest of us, you are also a model of how non-profits and businesses can work together to positively address the suffering on millions. The science of the western world makes no difference if it can't get to where it is needed. A heartfelt thanks also to Merck & Company for their role is this important effort.

Change.org calls on us to take action now to call on the international community to provide assistance to end preventable blindness today >

More than 40 million people in the developing world can't see their children, parents, and friends, yet most blindness can be prevented or cured with inexpensive medicine or operations. Trachoma infection causes horrible pain, scarring and eventually blindness, and it affects millions of children around the world. But a simple $8 operation can fix these problems, sparing a child years of infections resulting in a lifetime in the dark.

This video provides a glimpse into the suffering that this can cause.

This next one tells us how these problems can be successfully addressed with pragmatic and low cost approaches to care. A concept we seem to have difficulty with in the West.

Thulasiraj Ravilla: How low-cost eye care can be world-class | Video on TED.com

This blog plays only a very small part in getting the word out about these efforts. It is hoped that by recognizing and telling of the efforts of others I can help generate more support for them.

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