Tuesday, April 22, 2008

People are starving


Just recently the crisis of the world's financial markets seemed the worst headache of the world economy. But now the threat of the food crisis is mounting with every passing day.

This crisis is much more vital for every human being, and it may become much more dangerous than financial cataclysms, because it may provoke a social uproar on a global scale. International organizations are already sending urgent relief to the poorest countries in order to prevent food riots. But it is unlikely that anyone can offer a long-term solution to this problem now.

Both the financial and food crises have been triggered off by excessive economic optimism of experts in the last few years, and their inability to predict global challenges. From the start of this century, the world economy was growing at a high rate. Incomes were confidently rising against this background, especially in such huge and rapidly growing markets as China and India. But higher incomes provoked a sharp increase in prices on all kinds of raw materials, including sources of energy, which are part of the cost of practically any product, including agricultural produce. Thus, in the past year prices on hydrocarbons have gone up by 60 percent, while rice and wheat prices have doubled. Eventually, these factors brought about a sharp price hike on food products, which started last year, and continues to this day.

The bad situation is made worse by the fact that for many years huge resources have been invested into the production of biofuels in order to prevent an energy crisis. Their production is fairly expensive, and is not always justified economically. Moreover, it is withdrawing considerable resources from the food market, thereby making food even more expensive.

Unable to afford increasingly expensive food, the poorest people, above all in countries with backward economies, are struggling for survival. In the World Bank's estimate, rocketing global food prices have set back the fight against poverty and hunger by seven years.

Large-scale poverty is fraught with social explosions. A wave of massive unrest caused by the growth of food prices has swept Egypt, Cameroon, Cote d'Ivoire, Mauritania, Madagascar and Ethiopia in Africa alone. There are hunger riots on Haiti in the Caribbean, and in the Philippines in South-East Asia. Director-General of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, Jacques Diouf, predicts new hunger riots in many Asian countries as well, including food producers.

The fact that world leaders have realized the scale of the problem and are ready to act without delay, just as in the case of the financial crisis, is the only cause for optimism.

Speaking in New York on April 14, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said: "The rapidly escalating crisis of food availability around the world has reached emergency proportions. ... We need not only short-term emergency measures to meet urgent critical needs and avert starvation in many regions across the world, but also a significant increase in long-term productivity in food grain production."

President of the World Bank Robert Zoellick has also called for urgent measures to curb soaring food prices and prevent hunger. He emphasized that skyrocketing prices will be one of the main topics for discussion by G8 ministers of finance in Tokyo, adding: "But, frankly speaking, the G8 meeting is in June and we cannot wait for that. We have to put our money where our mouth is now -- so that we can put food into hungry mouths. It is as stark as that."

Urgent measures are already being taken. The World Bank is sending $10 million to fight hunger in Haiti. In Zoellick's estimate, $500 million should be earmarked to the poorest countries before May 1 for this purpose. Concerned over massive unrest in the world, President George W. Bush ordered $200 million in immediate aid to the poorest nations through the United States Agency for International Development.

As for long-term measures to combat poverty, the situation is rather vague. It is obvious that to reduce food prices agricultural production has to be increased, primarily in the poorest countries. But advice on how to do this is couched in general terms. Ban Ki-moon stressed the need to give emerging economies access to resources, investment and technologies. But such appeals have been made for more than a decade, and nothing has changed. The World Bank has been talking about some medium- and long-term projects on upgrading agriculture in developing nations for many years, but to no avail.

Against the background of urgent international relief to prevent the poor from dying all over the world, some members of the Russian government maintain Olympic calm. This is surprising, considering that about 15 percent of the population in Russia is living beneath the poverty line.

Speaking at the session of the WB and IMF Development Committee in Washington on April 13, Russian Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin merely expressed apprehensions over soaring food prices. He said that they are reducing the purchasing capacity of the poorest strata, and producing a negative impact on balances of payment and taxation stability in the developing countries. He even noted that "in mid-term perspective, growing food prices may be an incentive for investment in agriculture." Moreover, Kudrin believes that "price hikes on basic commodities and foods may be viewed as new opportunities." Apparently, for the poorest countries, these opportunities will come as aid from the rich donor countries.

Last year, the Russian authorities simply missed a hike in food prices. Much to their surprise, inflation in 2007 was 12 percent rather than the expected 8 percent. They did not come up with anything better than to conclude agreements with big food networks on freezing prices on certain foods. This measure is extremely ineffective in the market economy, not to mention that it violates domestic anti-monopoly legislation.

by Oleg Mityayev, an economic commentator for the Russian News and Information Agency Novosti; Web site: http://en.rian.ru/.

25 days

I went to the eye doctor today. Everything was good. I ordered cool glasses. That's all my excitement. woo...hoo...

Vote for Jasmine

Hi there family and friends, my cousin Jazzie needs your support this week...

A couple of months ago Jasmine entered a poetry contest online and was thrilled to be voted the weekly winner (largely because friends, coworkers, and family voted for her poem online – Thanks again for those who voted!)

This week, all of the weekly winners from the whole year are posted as the finalists for the BIG contest. (Jasmine was the winner of week 35.) Voting is currently going on from today until Sunday at midnight. The poem that gets the most votes becomes the winning poem of the year. The winning poem's author will become a professional songwriter and will start receiving royalty checks when their song goes onto Thaddeus Rex's next CD!!! (That would be so cool for her!) (Thaddeus Rex is a singer/songwriter who tours around doing kid shows that promote reading. He used have a kid show on PBS.)

Voting is easy and can be done hourly until Sunday at midnight, so of course we’re after as many votes as we can possibly get. Each vote only takes seconds, so any votes you would be willing to cast would be greatly appreciated. If you would, please spread the word for anyone you think of that would be willing to add some votes. Thanks for any support you can give! J

Here’s how to vote:

Go to www.thaddeusrex.com
On the left, click on “Writing Contest”
You can get to Jaz’s poem by either clicking “View Finalists” and scrolling down to week 35 “My Other Brother” by Jasmine B. OR by typing “My Other Brother” in the “Poem Title” box and clicking “Search.”
Click on the poem’s title to pull up the poem.
Once you pull up the poem, scroll down to the bottom of the page where you can cast your vote.
To add continued votes: What I do is just leave that page up on the computer, and then every hour (or when I happen to be walking by the computer), I press “F5” on the keyboard to refresh the page and then click vote again.

A rough version of “My Other Brother” set to music by Thaddeus Rex is posted on his blog in his “fan club” section.

Monday, April 21, 2008

butt crack at church

I never thought I'd write that, but then again, I never thought I'd see it at church either. A teenager in front of us was wearing sweats. He kept pulling them down to reveal his underwear. When we stood to sing a song at the end of service I was treated to at least 2 inches of crack. He quickly readjusted is clothing but it was too late. sigh

26 days

and counting until summer vacation. Am I counting the days? You bet I am.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

a point or two

* I am sick of politicians.
* I don't like strangers ringing my doorbell to talk about "their" candidate and
then asking me for whom I am voting.
*I liken this to trick or treating for votes.
* I don't like to philosophize (T told me that today, his word, well, it's real
word...I didn't believe that it was).
* I love my church.
* I love the weekend.
* I like knitting once a month in a grocery store deli.
* The bible makes me think...and many of you know, I don't like to think.
* I think The Deadliest Catch is my favorite t.v. show.

Saturday, April 19, 2008


We had an earthquake yesterday. This is my third quake since moving to Indiana. It woke T who in turn woke me asking, "Are you shaking the bed?" Of course I was wasn't and we know what was. I didn't feel the aftershock but I know exactly what I was doing at that time. My SIL called me for directions to a deli in Michigan City. I looked at the clock when I answered the phone. This has got to be the most exciting post about an earthquake ever.
I weighed in today. -0.2 I'm still dropping, although at a snail's pace. I know what I have to do to fix that.
Monday I woke with a swollen and gooey tonsil. I went to work and called the doctor to make an appointment. They did a rapid strep test and it came back negative. Dr. put me on a z-pack and told me to stay home for a day. My throat hurt all week. Thursday I learned that I had strep after all, an uncommon strain. Friday was the first day I felt normal. I was very tired by the end of the day though. Hopefully by Monday I'll be totally fine.
Wednesday night we started a new study at church, Loved by God, by Liz Curtis Higgs. It started out great. I'm excited to get into this. It's studying Genesis 25 which I happen to like.
I also learned a lot about myself yesterday. I was speaking to one of my college students who happens to be Catholic. He talked about how strong his faith is and I talked about why I left the church. I totally saw myself in him at his age. He is very defensive of his faith and has a difficult time speaking to fellow students at school. He feels that Catholicism is under attack, therefore, he is under attack. He's had a couple of incidents that I have experienced myself. I hope I was able to convey to him that no one is trying to hurt him, even when their words sting. This is definitely a conversation I will try to continue later.

Sunday, April 13, 2008


was weigh-day. -0.8

We didn't make it to church this morning. Unfortunately I am have severe muscle spasms in my back and I can barely walk. I look forward to Wednesday. We'll be starting a new study I think. Tomorrow is back to work. Then there are only 6 weeks left of work. I'm looking forward to my next vacation.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

You are a Christian?

My nephew has been discriminated against by a neighbor. Why? Because he doesn't go to church on Sunday. Obviously she's never asked him if he's a Christian. This 10 year old boy loves Jesus with all his heart. It is not his choice not to attend church. I'm not going to make excuses for his parents because I can't, but if this woman is a Christian shouldn't she be embracing this child rather than calling other mothers in the neighborhood to let them know that "he" is not allowed in her yard, though she doesn't mind if her son plays with him other places. It seems to me if she is so worried that "he" is a heathen she wouldn't allow her son to play with him at all. She has no idea what she is missing by banning this beautiful child from her "property." I'd love to send he an anonymous letter asking her if this is her shinning example of Christianity. She is yet another "Christian" whom Satan is using to undo all of the work I have done to get my loved ones to know Jesus. This whole situation makes me so angry!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Stand for Christ

19 people per hour die for Christ.
456 per day
3,192 per week
165,984 per year

These numbers are staggering, but what do they mean for you? To me it means, these people have put themselves all out for our Savior. They go to dangerous places to spread the gospel. They worship Him illegally because they love Him so much. They carry one page of scripture because that's all they have and they do that knowing if they are caught they will be punished. They stand for Jesus...what do we do to stand for Him? Do you live each day with Him by your side? Do you soak in His word and show others His love through your actions?

CHINA - China Aid President Awarded John Leland Religious Liberty Award
February 15, 2008

CHINA – On February 7, Pastor Bob Fu, president of China Aid Association, was awarded the 2007 John Leland Religious Liberty Award at the Library of Congress.

When accepting the award, Pastor Fu called on Christians to stand for believers in China who face harassment, detentions and sometimes death because of their faith. Pastor Fu said, “From my own experience of being arbitrarily detained in a Chinese jail, and from the hundreds of documented cases of harassment, arbitrary detentions, seizing of property, torture and even the death of some of my Christian friends and former coworkers in China, I cannot stay silent for those who share our same faith, but not all our basic freedoms.”

The award, which recognizes individuals who have made a significant contribution to the cause of religious freedom, was presented by Dr. Richard Land, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. Pastor Fu was recognized “for courageously defending the right of all people to exercise freely their religious faith.”

In his acceptance speech, Pastor Fu recalled growing up in poverty in Shandong province, northeast China and begging a local doctor to provide medicine to his dying mother because they could not afford it. He recalled, “I begged a local doctor, even offering myself as his bond servant for life, if he could just help provide medicine for my mother to get well. As he shut the door on me and I walked away with a broken heart, I remember falling on the ground behind a barn in my home yard and in the only way I knew how, praying to a higher power to help me and to help my mother. I prayed that one day my poor mom and I could get some equal status with my other fellow villagers, no matter how poor or rich.”

This heart wrenching experience led Pastor Fu to become a student leader for the People’s University of Beijing student democracy movement, which tragically ended in the Tiananmen Square massacre in June 1989. After Tiananmen, Pastor Fu struggled to understand why “brothers, sisters, mothers and fathers” had died in the massacre. During this time, an American English teacher shared Christ with him. Pastor Fu added, “I couldn’t help but surrender myself to my creator, Later I knelt down on the floor with my American teacher at his dorm and accepted Christ into my life, I realized the very freedom of conscience that the Creator endowed in my heart is far more precious and fundamental than any other rights.”

Following his conversion, Pastor Fu served as a house church leader, was briefly imprisoned for his faith and finally immigrated with his family to the United States. He later founded China Aid Association, through which he serves as a spokesperson for house church Christians in China. The Voice of the Martyrs partners with China Aid in supporting persecuted believers and their families. VOM has provided assistance with medical costs, Christmas Care packs for Sunday school children and literature to strengthen believers spiritually. Even though there has been an increase in persecution cases leading up to the Olympics later this coming summer, believers in China remain faithful. Ask God to protect and encourage them.

Juarez 3 Words

Saturday, April 5, 2008

DMHO part 2

Denver and the Mile High Orchestra will be playing on April 13th at Plymouth Wesleyan Church during the 10:30 service. Denver's mom is dear to me and I am hoping to make it to the show and to visit her church.


I have a new weigh day...why? because I want to. It needed to be done since I have weighed in for at least 2 weeks. I was sure I had gained since I've eaten ick the whole time. Yesterday was particularly bad. Anyway...since I went back to eating better I have lost a total of 7.8 pounds. I might be at ten if I had more willpower.

I am officially on spring vacation. I slept until 10 and then laid in bed and read the rest of my book, Turn up the Heat by Susan Park-Conant. It was good and I feel rested.

This afternoon we are headed to my parents so that T can help my brother haul up a dry-mount machine from the basement for it's sale. My parents are retiring and closing their art and frame shop so everything is being sold. My mom is getting excited. I need to make sure they don't have any art that I "need" before it is sold. What doesn't sell in the store may make it's way onto eBay.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

What is wrong with me?

I wish I knew.
I've had brief moments of depression today that threaten to suck the life out of me.
Then He grabs my hand.
He pulls me closer to Him.
He sits me next to people who listen and care.
I cling to Him.
He gives me strength.