Saturday, April 23, 2005

Timing is Everything

Paul Martin has gotten a rotten deal, no question about it. His predecessor was a power hungry scoundrel whose corruption is haunting his party and has left Martin in a no win position. Martin addressed the country just a few days ago asking that an election not be called until the Gomery report is released. He knows his minority government is on the ropes. This is not news to anyone in Canada.

However, today the news came out that Bono, in an interview with the CBC, called out Martin for bailing on a promise. It seems Martin promised that Canada would move towards the goal of giving 0.7 per cent of gross domestic product to foreign aid by the year 2015. Now he's changed his mind saying we cannot afford it.

I believe Bono is right in saying that Canada is a blessed nation and we should be sharing of our abundance with those in most need. If Martin needs any proof of where Canadian's hearts are, he merely needs to look at the recent outpouring of support by Canadians for the Tsunami relief effort. I'm not one to compare, but by all accounts our response was commendable. If Canadians are willing to invest their own money in global relief, shouldn't this send a strong enough signal to Ottawa of our expectations of our governance?

Martin's advisors aught to have reminded him that timing is everything. You don't lead by covering up and hoping for the storm to blow over. You lead by casting a vision, being proactive in showing people where your values lie.

I believe whoever is to lead Canada has to set out a bold course for Canada's role in foreign affairs, particularly focusing on foreign aid. Let our blessings be shared and let our blessings continue.

Here's the article.


Bono 'annoyed' with Paul Martin

Sue Bailey
Canadian Press
Friday, April 22, 2005

OTTAWA (CP) -- If being mired in scandal and threatened with imminent defeat weren't enough, Prime Minister Paul Martin capped off a brutal week by striking a sour note with his most famous fan.

Rock superstar Bono is irked by Martin's refusal to meet a long-stated standard for foreign aid increases.

"I'm annoyed," the U2 frontman says in an exclusive interview to be aired Saturday on CBC Radio's The House.

"I'm bewildered, really. I'm disappointed.

"I can't believe that Paul Martin would want to hold up history."

Bono was interviewed from Vancouver as his band's world Vertigo tour landed on the West Coast.

Martin recently said he won't commit to spending 0.7 per cent of gross domestic product on foreign aid by the year 2015 because he's not convinced the country can afford it.

But Bono, showing a keen knowledge of Canada's domestic prosperity, would not let the prime minister's contention go unchallenged.

Ottawa has racked up successive multi-billion-dollar surpluses, and countries such as Britain, France and Germany commit to the 0.7 benchmark.

"There is a blessing on this country, on Canada," Bono said.

He also said Martin's political problems were no excuse for failing to increase foreign aid.

"It's a time for real leadership. I understand there's problems at home. I understand it's hard to get time to focus on this."

The Irish phenomenon has long lent his star power to Third World causes.

He was also there to add much-needed glitter to the Liberal leadership convention in November 2003 when Martin was crowned.

In return, Bono beseeched the party to share more of Canada's wealth with the world's poor.

The globe-trotting superstar fended off suggestions at the time that he'd been co-opted as Martin's political pawn.

"I'm going to be the biggest pain in his ass," he vowed at the time, before adding with what has turned out to be sharp foresight: "About a year from now he's going to regret tonight."

Canada now commits less than 0.3 per cent of its annual gross domestic product for foreign aid -- about $3.3 billion.

That's rising each year, including an eight per cent hike in the most recent federal budget, said Martin spokesman Scott Reid.

"The prime minister has great respect for Bono, and Canada remains committed to the 0.7 per cent target," Reid said.

"Rather than set an artificial deadline, the prime minister has focused on real increases measured in real dollars each and every year."

It's not enough, Bono said.

"We were looking for Canada to lead rather than be a laggard."

Still, Martin deserves some credit for doubling contributions to the global fund on AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, he added.

There's also been progress on forgiving Third World debt.

But the needs are acute, Bono stressed.

"Six and a half thousand Africans dying every day of a preventable disease like AIDS is not a cause, it's an emergency.

"I implore this prime minister. I think he's a good man, and I think this is the moment to be a real leader."
© Canadian Press 2005

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Greenspan: Budget Deficits Pose Threat

Here's an article that was on Yahoo's news site. It's good. For anyone who would say that American politics don't impact us all, I would argue that in some ways it's more important. If the American economy tanks, it affects the world (including us). The US foreign policy definitely impacts us more than Canadian foreign policy (do we still have one?).

Much as I argue that proactively initiating the Iraq war was not a bad decision on George W.'s part, his handling of the economy and the budget has proven to be terrible. Once apon a time keeping a balanced budget was an important conservative principle. As you can see from Alan Greenspan's comments, running a $427 deficit (that's annual deficit, not total debt) is not indicative of strong long-term planning.

Anyways, give the article a read. It's a good overview.


By JEANNINE AVERSA, AP Economics Writer

WASHINGTON - Bloated budget deficits pose a danger to the nation's long-term economic health, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan warned anew Thursday. He issued a fresh call to policy-makers to move swiftly to get the government's fiscal house in order.

Greenspan, in prepared testimony to the Senate Budget Committee, only very briefly touched on the economy's current performance, saying "activity appears to be expanding at a reasonably good pace," an assessment he has made repeatedly so far this year.

His comments come as some private economists are concerned about the extent to which high energy prices will crimp economic activity.

On the fiscal front, Greenspan said the persistence of swollen budget deficits in the years ahead "would cause the economy to stagnate or worse" unless the situation is reversed.

The budget deficit is a problem because it is projected to rise significantly as the first of 78 million baby boomers start to retire in 2008.

Last year, the government produced a budget deficit of $412 billion, a record in dollar terms. The deficit for this year is projected to shatter that record, coming in at an estimated $427 billion.

Persistently large budget deficits threaten the economy because they would push up interest rates for consumers and businesses. Higher borrowing costs would weigh on consumers' and businesses' willingness to spend and invest — two important forces that keep the economy going. Rising interest rates also would slow growth in the housing market, Greenspan said.

And, growing budget shortfalls would force the government to borrow more to finance those deficits.

"The federal budget is on an unsustainable path, in which large deficits result in rising interest rates and ever-growing interest payments that augment deficits in future years," Greenspan said.

Greenspan again supported a return to pay-as-you-go budgeting policies that would require Congress to offset future increases in government spending or new tax cuts with reductions in other government programs or tax increases.

The Bush administration supports bringing back the pay-as-you-go provision for spending, but not for tax cuts. A decade-long pay-as-you-go provision expired in 2002.

The administration also has a goal of cutting the deficit in half by 2009.

"Our budget position is unlikely to improve substantially in the coming years unless major deficit-reducing actions are taken," Greenspan said.

Democrats mostly blame the growing budget deficits on President Bush's big tax cuts, which they contend mainly benefited the wealthy. Republicans credited the tax cuts with helping the economy rebound from the 2001 recession. The costs of the tax cuts along with paying for wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and fighting terrorism at home have led to the deficits, they say.

While Greenspan has endorsed Bush's move to let workers set up personal investment accounts as part of an overhaul of Social Security, he has called for a go-slow approach to setting up such accounts. His concern is that massive government borrowing to bring them about could push up interest rates.

Greenspan also has suggested that benefit cuts would be required to deal with looming funding problems within Social Security.

"I fear that we may have already committed more physical resources to the baby boom generation in its retirement years than our economy has the capacity to deliver," Greenspan said.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Summer C&C

If you’re out of high school, a 20/30 something and are going to bearound Halifax this summer and are looking to be a part of some Christian COMMUNITY, Summer C&C will be back once again. To hear the news and events, post a comment with your email and I'll add you to the group list.

We are now pulling together the leadership team and will beagreeing on the specs of what the summer will shape up to be.

Our CAUSE is clear, how we go about it is determined along the way.With Summer C&C we mix outreach, community & activeness all in one. Unless you don’t like friends, fun, warm weather, camping, music,smiling, people, sports/games, good times, outreach or doing stuff,you should be a part of what’s going on.



Monday, April 18, 2005

12 Hour Night Commute

This is a message from my friend, Doug. He does a lot of great work with World Vision and has an exciting fundraiser coming up. Following his trip to Uganda with World Vision he’s had a passion for the country that you can’t ignore. If you can partner with him in his efforts it would be a big encouragement to him and an important contribution to the work being done to help the people of Uganda.

12 Hour Night Commute

During the month of May, a group of World Vision volunteers will be rallying Canadians together to help the people of northern Uganda. As part of this special effort, I have organized a 12 Hour Night Commute and I would like your support. What’s a Night Commute and why do the people of northern Uganda desperately need your help? … read on …

Last year, I traveled with World Vision to northern Uganda where I worked in a Children of War Rehabilitation Centre; visited hospitals, camps for Internally Displaced People and a children’s shelter. It was a shocking view of life in a country that has been ravaged by a 19-year civil war that the world has forgotten. This is a brutal war, led by an extremist (Joseph Kony) and carried out by cruel bands of rebels (called the Lord’s Resistance Army – LRA) that roam throughout the northern part of Uganda murdering, raping, looting and committing unimaginable acts of brutality against innocent civilians – including children.

· 90% percent of Uganda’s northern population have been displaced from their homes and relocated into “temporary” camps … camps where people have now lived for the past 19 years. Places where schooling, medicine, sanitation, nutrition and even clean water are hard to find.

· To replenish their ranks, the LRA specifically target young children – they’ve abducted as many as 30,000 of them from their homes at ages as young as 6 and 7. The children are used as slaves – forced to carry heavy loads or else they are beaten and killed. Boys who survive the torture are trained to become child soldiers; girls are given to rebels as wives, they are raped repeatedly and bear children in the bush.

· In an effort to avoid night-time abduction, tens of thousands of children leave their homes every night at dusk and walk for hours to the nearest town. There these “Night Commuters” seek protection in overnight shelters, trading the threat of abduction for the insecurity of the streets.

To increase awareness about this terrible war, raise financial assistance for those who are suffering and find child sponsors for children in the north, I have organized a Night Commute here at home. In the 12 hours between Saturday, May 28th at 6:00pm and Sunday, May 29th at 6:00am I’ll be walking as many miles as I can (about 25 – 30 miles).

Through this event, I’m hoping to raise $100 for each mile I walk; but to do this I need your pledges and I need your help. I would like you (or a group you belong to) to pledge your financial support by sponsoring me $1.00 per mile (you can specify a maximum amount if you like). All of the donations will go towards World Vision’s relief efforts in northern Uganda.

As well, I would like to find sponsors for 12 war-children in Uganda – one for each hour I’ll be walking. Please let me know if you or someone you know may be interested in sponsoring one of these special children.

Please reply to this e-mail letting me know that you’ll pledge your support of $1/mile. Share this message with your family, friends, co-workers, groups and clubs. Encourage them to pledge their support, sponsor a child or participate in the Night Commute.

With your support, I know we can reach the target of $100/mile and 12 sponsored children. Without your support, I – like the children of northern Uganda – will be walking alone. Please help.

For more information on this event and last year’s trip to northern Uganda, visit my website Tax receipts will be provided for all donations over $15.00.

Monday, April 11, 2005

I was wrong...

Tricked you. Not about anything important.

After seeing the public response to Pope John Paul II's death, I am ready to concede that he may have been a more influencial person than Bono. I have been amazed at how strongly his passing has impacted people throughout the world.

An interesting article coming from the Pope's passing and his moral stances while alive can be found in Rich Lowry's posting "Theocrat's for Freedom"


The word "theocrat" is a rapidly emerging swearword in American politics. If someone opposes gay marriage, or supports giving sustenance to Terri Schiavo, or has any strong moral convictions that inform his policy positions, he is a "theocrat" who secretly wishes to begin burning people at the stake. How odd, then, that this week we mourn the death and celebrate the life of a man, Pope John Paul II, who had "theocratic" trappings and convictions and yet is universally regarded as a great warrior for freedom.

Actually, it is not odd at all. Many of the great leaps of freedom in the West have come at the instigation of Christian believers. Their faith lends them an unbending belief in human dignity and an audacious hope in success against all odds that sweep aside excuses for inaction.

I recommend you follow the link and read his thoughts. Lowry is my favorite
of the right wing American political writers. He's got his slant, but he articulates it well and has some good insights.

Back to my Bono thoughts, my sister suggested to me that Oprah is more influencial than Bono. Before you tar and feather the poor girl, she wasn't suggesting it was a good thing. Rather, she was pointing out that what Oprah says or suggests (as in her book club, etc.) a large segment of American population follows blindly. I would add
that this segment is about 99.5% female. I sure hope that Oprah's not as influencial in world affairs as is Bono. I don't think she's got much of importance to add to society. Just a lot of new age half-thoughts.


Sunday, April 03, 2005

Is the Pope's Death Significant?


For those who are Catholic, even the question is probably an insult. I don’t pose it as a slap in the face to anyone’s beliefs.

However, I personally believe that the Catholic Church is misguided in many ways and is seen as an irrelevant factor for many in the world including Protestant believers. At various points in history, including as recently as say 25 years ago, the Pope was seen as God on earth. What he said was to be taken on par or greater than scripture. When he said ‘eat fish on Fridays’ that’s what you did if you were a Catholic. The Pope’s declaration was as important as if God Himself had. More recently I think that’s changed somewhat. I think the Catholic Church has making strides towards correcting itself. Yes, yes, I know that even saying that is posing judgment on the Catholic faith. However, the Pope is intended to be the modern day place holder of Peter’s position as the rock on which Jesus would build His church. Peter was never perfect, nor was he the decider of truth amongst the disciples or the new believers. He was simply one who understood the nature of what faith in Jesus meant to himself and to others. He was a servant leader in the building up of churches. I don’t believe any person (other than Jesus) should be deified and I don’t see anything in the Bible that would suggest otherwise.

So, my problems with the Catholic faith and the position of Pope aside, John Paul was a great man of integrity whose service is to be commended. I’ve heard that he would spend as many as 7 hours a day in prayer. His focus was on matters of the faith, foremost, rather than politics. He did an admirable job of balancing the need to maintain the value of life and other Christian beliefs without driving unnecessary divisions amongst people. The gospel is a message of love and life through the grace of Christ and he stood out amongst Popes in his communication of this.

I pray that those Catholic officials who are charged with electing the next Pope would hear the direction of God in their selection. Like the position or not, the person who is Pope can do a great deal of good or bad for the faith and for humanity.


Don't Get Sick

This post is all about the kick off of U2's tour, so if you don't want to hear about it. Stop reading. Oh, and you suck.

Here are some great reviews of the show.

'Challenging personal themes and enduring energy keep U2 relevant,’ reported the LA Times, whose reviewer Robert Hilburn said that the band brought the spirit of the new album to the stage in a two-hour set that was ‘as warm and eloquent as the songs’. For a band that made its mark with soaring guitar-driven anthems that commanded you to march along, these new songs are all the more touching because they rely on the superb subtlety and restraint of U2 as musicians. ‘Rock’n’roll has been built mostly on edgy elements, including rebellion, irreverence and exuberance. The Beatles became the first great rock band by both reflecting each of them and by introducing a strain of social optimism through tunes such as ‘All You Need is Love’. While thousands of bands have experimented with the rebellion and irreverence, U2 has explored the idealism with a dedication and conviction that would not only have impressed the Beatles but that has earned it a place alongside that band at the very creative heart of rock.’

'U2,' writes David Sinclair in The Times in the UK, 'Is now the only superpower left in the pop world… by the time that they had finished the event felt more like a date with destiny than anything so mundane as a concert. ‘Conjuring the illusion of intimacy with a natural grandiloquence, U2 have maintained their implacable sense of purpose while all those around them have faltered or to some extent fallen by the wayside.’

You know it was a powerful show,’ said Corey Moss at VH1, ‘When the band is done, the house lights are up and every single seat in the arena is still occupied by fans singing at the top of their lungs. ‘That was the scene Monday at the San Diego Sports Arena, where U2 kicked off their Vertigo Tour with a two-hour celebration of the new and the old and a few favourites in between, including a grand finale of "40" that felt more like the end of an Easter service than a rock concert the night after.

Steve Baltin at Rolling Stone concluded his review like this: ‘The band saved the night's biggest revelation for last, as Mullen began the repetitive drumbeat to "40," the biblical sing-along that used to close U2 shows. In a nod to the early days, at the song's conclusion, Bono walked off the stage first, followed by Clayton and the Edge, while Mullen provided the beat to the crowd's chanting of the chorus "How long to sing this song." When the lights came on, most in the San Diego Sports Arena were still singing.’

I guess the stage is designed like the album cover with the band at the centre of the bullseye and Bono circling around. Here's the set list from the San Diego show. I noticed there was only one song from All That You Can't Leave Behind and nothing from Pop. It's going to be an awesome show. I can't wait. My sister is going to a May show, so I'll get her review in here.

City of Blinding Lights (How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb)
The Electric Co. (Boy)
An Cat Dubh (Boy)
Into the Heart (Boy)
Beautiful Day (All That You Can't Leave Behind)
New Year's Day (War)
Miracle Drug (How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb)
Sometimes You Can't Make it on Your Own (How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb)
Love and Peace or Else (How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb)
Sunday Bloody Sunday (War)
Bullet the Blue Sky (The Joshua Tree)
Running to Stand Still (The Joshua Tree)
Zoo Station (Achtung Baby)
The Fly (Achtung Baby)
Elevation (All That You Can't Leave Behind)
Pride (In the Name of Love) (The Unforgettable Fire)
Where the Streets Have No Name (The Joshua Tree)
One (Achtung Baby)
All Because of You (How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb)
Yahweh (How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb)
40 (War)