Meditation Focus #64
Ensuring A Positive Future For All Children
What follows is the 64th Meditation Focus suggested for the two consecutive weeks beginning Sunday, May 12, 2002.
ENSURING A POSITIVE FUTURE FOR ALL CHILDREN
2. Meditation times
3. More information on this Meditation Focus
4. Peace Watch for the Middle East
At the first World Summit for Children held in New York in 1990, world leaders designed a blueprint for improving the lives of children and women within a decade. Their goals were: Reduce child mortality rates. Improve maternal health care. Cut malnutrition rates in half. Assure safe drinking water and access to sanitation for everyone. Deliver basic education to all children. Improve the protection of children. The 2nd United Nations children's summit in New York, attended by 60 world leaders and numerous celebrities, as well as 250 children and about 3,000 delegates along with 3,000 representatives of non-governmental organisations, just approved a new blueprint to improve the world for children in the next 15 years. More than 180 nations attending the General Assembly special session on children approved the hard-fought agreement just before midnight and adopted the final summit document, "A World Fit For Children". This document focuses on four areas: promoting healthy lives, access to and completion of quality education, protection of children against abuse violence and exploitation and fighting HIV and AIDS. If leaders keep the promises they have made, we can bring about enormous positive change in the world in less than a generation.
Yet there is much work to do. Every day 5,500 children die as a result of consuming polluted water and food, with those under 5 years old the most vulnerable. One billion people, or one-sixth of the world's population of 6 billion, do not have access to clean drinking water, aggravating the problem. An estimated 150 million of the more than two billion children in the world are malnourished, and nearly 11 million die before their fifth birthday. More than 120 million do not attend school, and an estimated 300,000 are believe to be fighting in wars as child soldiers.
Please dedicate your prayers and meditations, as guided by Spirit, in the coming two weeks to contribute in ensuring that the promises made during this children's summit will indeed receive all
the attention our children deserve. They all have the right to education, health, a clean environment, and to live without the shadow of war, poverty, abuse or exploitation and it is the common responsibility of every member of the human family to see that no children is left to suffer and die in a world of plenty. Let us envision that the imbalance in wealth and lack of concern of the world leaders for the plight of the most desperate and most innocent are gradually corrected and that the sacredness of the life of all children and all sentient beings is respected and protected, for the Highest Good of All.
This entire Meditation Focus is also available at http://www.aei.ca/~cep/MeditationFocus64.htm
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2. MEDITATION TIMES
i) Global Meditation Day: Sunday at 16:00 Universal Time (GMT) or at noon local time. Suggested duration: 30 minutes.
ii) Golden Moment of At-Onement: Daily, at the top of any hour, or whenever it better suits you.
These times below are currently corresponding to 16:00 Universal Time/GMT:
Honolulu 6:00 AM -- Anchorage * 8:00 AM -- Los Angeles * 9:00 AM -- Mexico City, San Salvador & Denver * 10:00 AM -- Houston * & Chicago * 11:00 AM -- Santo Domingo, La Paz, Caracas, New York *, Toronto *. Montreal *, Asuncion & Santiago 12:00 AM -- Halifax *, Rio de Janeiro & Montevideo 1:00 PM -- Reykjavik & Casablanca 4 PM -- Lagos, Algiers, London *, Dublin * & Lisbon * 5:00 PM -- Jerusalem, Johannesburg, Geneva *, Rome *, Berlin *, Paris * & Madrid * 6:00 PM -- Ankara *, Athens *, Helsinki * & Istanbul * & Nairobi 7:00 PM -- Baghdad *, Moscow * 8:00 PM -- Tehran * 8:30 PM -- Islamabad 9:00 PM -- Calcutta & New Delhi 9:30 PM -- Dhaka 10:00 PM -- Rangoon 10:30 PM -- Hanoi, Bangkok & Jakarta 11:00 PM -- Hong Kong, Perth, Beijing & Kuala Lumpur +12:00 PM -- Seoul & Tokyo +1:00 AM -- Brisbane, Canberra & Melbourne +2:00 AM -- Wellington +4:00 AM
+ means the place is one day ahead of Universal Time/Greenwich Mean Time. à
* means the place is observing daylight saving time (DST) at the moment.
You may also check at http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/full.html to find your current corresponding local time if a closeby city is not listed above.
3. MORE INFORMATION ON THIS MEDITATION FOCUS
This section is for those who wish to understand in more detail the situation of this Meditation Focus. For those who wish to read on, we would encourage you to view the following information from a positive perspective, and not allow the details to tinge the positive vision you wish to hold in meditation. Since what we focus on grows, the more positive our mindset, the more successful we will be in manifesting a vision of healing. We provide the details below because we recognise that the knowledge of what needs healing can assist us to structure our awareness to maximise our healing effect.
Summit Seeks to Improve Kids' Lives (Sat May 11)
UNITED NATIONS (AP) - A U.N. summit approved a new blueprint late Friday to improve the world for children in the next 15 years after contentious negotiations between the United States and other nations on sex education, abortion and the death penalty.
More than 180 nations attending the General Assembly special session on children approved the hard-fought agreement just before midnight and adopted the final summit document, "A World Fit For Children," by consensus with a round of applause.
Carol Bellamy, executive director of the United Nations Children's Fund, said the final document of the U.N.'s children's summit focuses on four areas: promoting healthy lives, access to and completion of quality education, protection of children against abuse violence and exploitation and fighting HIV and AIDS.
"If leaders keep the promises they have made, we can bring about enormous positive change in the world in less than a generation," she told delegates before the final gavel early Saturday.
The final language on reproductive and sexual health reaffirmed commitments made by the world's nations at five U.N. conferences in the last eight years, which include ensuring that adolescents have the right to sex education and reproductive and sexual health services.
Conservatives in the United States contend that "reproductive health services" include abortion. U.S. officials had pressed for a footnote to the document specifically excluding abortion. This was not done, but the final agreement dropped any reference to "services."
After the final document was adopted, Sichan Siv, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Economic and Social Council, stressed that the United States does not believe the document promotes "abortion or abortion-related services" or abortion as a method of family planning.
The Child Rights Caucus, which represents over 100 international nonprofit organizations, called this agreement "weak," saying it did not spell out "the rights of adolescents to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health education, information and services."
The U.S. delegation had pushed the Bush administration's agenda against abortion and in favor of sexual abstinence before marriage and of the traditional family a stand backed by the Vatican and Islamic countries including Sudan, Syria and Iraq.
To promote family values, the United States had pressed for the family to be defined as marriage between a husband and wife, because of conservative objections to homosexual marriages.
The final document says "The family is the basic unit of society and as such should be strengthened," but it preserves past language taking into account "that in different cultural, social and political systems, various forms of the family exist."
In a victory for the Bush administration, the document excludes the United States from a requirement barring the death penalty or life imprisonment for those under the age of 18.
Germany's deputy U.N. ambassador Hanns Schumacher, who chaired negotiations on the final document, said agreement was reached after 30 hours of almost round-the-clock negotiations. "It was a very moving final session. At the end it went flying," he said.
Before the final negotiating session, negotiators had reached a deal on a contentious issue between the United States and all other delegates how to refer to the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child, which was intended to be the global standard.
The convention has been ratified by 191 countries all nations except Somalia and the United States. President Bush's administration opposed language saying the convention is "the standard" for children's rights, because the United States is not a party, and diplomats said the text was reluctantly watered down.
"This is unacceptable," Nobel Peace laureate Rigoberta Menchu of Guatemala said of the U.S. move. "All social organizations, but especially those focusing on children's rights, have to repudiate this type of action."
The Clinton administration signed the convention but never submitted it for Senate ratification because a number of groups argued that it infringed on the rights of parents and was inconsistent with state and local laws. The Bush administration has also taken no action. Somalia signed the convention this week and is expected to ratify it which will leave the United States as the lone holdout.
U.N.: Every day 5,500 children die from diseases caused by polluted food and water (Thu May 9)
UNITED NATIONS - Every day 5,500 children die as a result of consuming polluted water and food, with those under 5 years old the most vulnerable, a U.N. study said Thursday.
One billion people, or one-sixth of the world's population of 6 billion, do not have access to clean drinking water, aggravating the problem, said the study by three U.N. agencies.
Worse, 2.4 billion people or almost half the world's people lack access to even a simple latrine, said the report, "Children in the New Millennium."
"Children are healthier (today). There is more access to clean water, but these disturbing figures show we have barely started to address the problem," said Carol Bellamy, executive director of the United Nations (news - web sites) Children's Fund.
After respiratory infections, the greatest killer of children is diarrhea, carrying off 2 million a year, the vast majority of them in the poorest countries, said the study by UNICEF (news - web sites), the World Health Organization (news - web sites) and the United Nations Environment Program.
Mary Kaphwereza Banda, Malawi's minister of gender, youth and community services, told a news conference launching the report that if untreated, children can die from diarrhea in two hours.
Other examples of food- and water-borne diseases include cholera, typhoid, polio and roundworm.
"Children in developing countries are some 13 times more likely to die before they reach their fifth birthday than their counterparts in developed countries," it said.
One-third of diseases globally are caused by eating tainted food, drinking unclean water and breathing polluted air. Forty percent of those getting such diseases are children under 5, or 600 million children, the study said.
Malnutrition exacerbates the diseases, affecting 150 million children daily, it said.
"Malnutrition and diarrhea form a vicious cycle," the report said. "The organisms that cause diarrhea harm the walls of children's guts, which prevents digesting and absorbing food adequately, causing even greater malnutrition and vulnerability to disease."
The 140-page report, focusing on how a degraded environment affects children, said lead much of it from leaded gasoline causes permanent neurological and developmental disorders in children.
Millions of children work in agriculture, puting them at the risk of pesticide poisoning, the report said. "How sanitary can conditions be when 90 children are sharing one toilet, or when half of the toilets are not functioning," the study asked.
Karen Kraft Sloan, a member of Canada's Parliament dealing with health issues, summed up the pervasiveness of environmental problems. "Have you ever seen a 2-year-old at play? They like to eat dirt," she said.
I. Leadership from 1990-2000
At the 1990 World Summit for Children held in New York, world leaders designed a blueprint for improving the lives of children and women within a decade.
Their goals were straightforward: Reduce child mortality rates. Improve maternal health care. Cut malnutrition rates in half. Assure safe drinking water and access to sanitation for everyone. Deliver basic education to all children. Improve the protection of children.
Following the World Summit many leaders aggressively began the work that was called for, and the outcomes were impressive. Under-five mortality rates were reduced by 14 per cent. Neonatal tetanus was eliminated in 104 of 161 developing nations. Vitamin A and iodized salt were delivered to nearly 75 per cent of children.
But a decade that began with promise was marked by missed opportunities.
One third of all children were still not being registered at birth at the end of the year 2000, resulting in no official record of their existence and leaving them vulnerable to denial of health care and schooling. Around 30 million infants are still not reached by routine immunizations. In sub-Saharan Africa only 47 per cent of children are immunized against diphtheria, whooping cough and tetanus.
A third of the children in the world suffered from malnutrition during the 1990s. Children's malnutrition rates declined by only 17 per cent in developing countries rather than being halved. The drop in malnutrition in Asia was a mere 7 per cent. In sub-Saharan Africa the absolute number of malnourished children actually increased.
Today 1.1 billion people remain without safe water and 2.4 billion are without adequate sanitation.
The goal of universal basic education has not been achieved. Over 100 million children of primary school age are not in school and many more receive poor quality education. The gender gap leaves more girls than boys out of the classroom.
The maternal mortality ratio remains at 1990 levels instead of being halved. The goal for all pregnant women to have access to prenatal care and trained attendants during childbirth has not materialized. Only 29 per cent of South Asian births and 37 per cent of sub-Saharan African births are attended.
On balance, while there have been some notable successes since 1990, much more is needed from governments and individuals if the rights of all children are to be realized.
For an extensive treatment of the effects of nutrition on child development, see The State of the World's Children, 1998 at http://www.unicef.org/sowc98/
African children accuse leaders (Friday, 10 May, 2002)
Children from across Africa have held their leaders to account in a rare, face-to-face dialogue. The youngsters, who are attending the United Nations children's summit in New York, told presidents and prime ministers from the continent that they had failed to improve their education and their health. One child told African leaders that their parliaments were only used as "democratic decorations", while another accused them of embezzling the loans they have been granted. The King of Lesotho said it was the first time he had been addressed in such blunt, direct terms, but the president of Mozambique said he was heartened by the intelligence and knowledge the children had shown. The delegates, from more than 180 countries, are seeing to what extent the goals set by the 1990 World Summit for Children have been met. CLIP
UN faces snags over children's deal (Friday, 10 May, 2002)
Differences over sex education and the plight of Palestinian children are holding up negotiations at a special United Nations session on children. The summit in New York aims to craft a document setting out new goals to improve the lives of children worldwide over the next 10 years. But the United States delegation has found itself at odds with many other nations over issues such as sex education and abortion which it believes have no place in a document about children. Along with Somalia, America is one of only two countries that have not ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Washington is also opposed to a resolution blaming Israel for the situation of the Palestinian children. CLIP
Annan plea for world's children (8 May, 2002)
(...) The three-day conference is being attended by 60 world leaders and numerous celebrities, as well as about 250 child delegates. Addressing the children directly in his opening speech, Mr Annan told them they had the right to education, health, a clean environment, and to live without the shadow of war, poverty, abuse or exploitation. (...) About 3,000 delegates are attending the conference, along with 3,000 representatives of non-governmental organisations. (...) An estimated 150 million of the more than two billion children in the world are malnourished, and nearly 11 million die before their fifth birthday. More than 120 million do not attend school, and an estimated 300,000 are believe to be fighting in wars as child soldiers.
Special UN Session of Children - UNICEF website
How is your country doing? Since the World Summit for Children and the entry into force of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, information on the situation of children around the world has become much more readily available. CLIP
Progress during the 1990s Since the World Summit on Children
Global Movement for Children?
The State of the Worlds Children
Mandela urges action on children
One of the major concerns of Mr Mandela and his wife Graca Machel is the fight against Aids, which has already left 800,000 orphans in South Africa alone.
4. PEACE WATCH FOR THE MIDDLE EAST
Here are some of the latest developments in the Middle East. Please also keep this situation in mind during your meditations in the coming two weeks to help ensure that Peace may eventually prevail in the Middle East.
Israeli Forces Poised to Enter Gaza (Fri May 10)
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) - Gaza Strip residents hoarded food and thronged bakeries Friday, while Palestinian gunmen patrolled streets and blocked camp entrances with mounds of rubble ahead of an anticipated Israeli military strike.
Even as Israeli tanks massed on the borders of Gaza, Israeli TV's Channel 2 reported that Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer had decided to postpone the operation because of leaks about the army's plans to strike Gaza in retaliation for a suicide bombing that killed 15 Israelis this week. Ben-Eliezer's adviser, Yarden Vatikai, would not confirm or deny the report.
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, replying to a question about a possible incursion into Gaza, accused Israel of committing crimes against Palestinians. "Our people are steadfast and will continue with all their power to defend our holy cities, Christian and Muslim places," he said at his West Bank headquarters.
In biblical Bethlehem, meanwhile, the 39-day standoff between Israeli troops and Palestinian gunmen at the Church of the Nativity ended Friday, with 13 suspected militants flown into European exile and 26 released into the Gaza Strip, where they received a heroes' welcome.
Speaking in Rome, Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres said the aim of any military operation in Gaza would be "to reach points where we have had centers of terror in a very careful and measured way."
Hamas founder Ahmed Yassin seemed unconcerned as he was showered with kisses from well-wishers at his neighborhood mosque in Gaza City on Friday. He said he was not concerned about being targeted in a possible strike. "I am not afraid, because I only fear God," the 70-year-old Yassin who spent several years in Israeli jails told The Associated Press.
Palestinian naval officer Majdi Abu Moussa acknowledged his lightly armed team of three would be ineffective against Israeli armor. "We cannot do anything to them," said Abu Moussa, wearing military fatigues and a black baseball cap with the word "smile" printed on the front. "We shall report the arrival of the armor and retreat."
In the Shati refugee camp near Gaza City, Hassan Al-Najar squatted on a prayer mat as he read from the Quran, Islam's holy book, and listened to the news on the radio.
The 70-year-old father of 10 spoke proudly of the camp's "resistance" against Israel's 1967-1994 occupation of the Gaza Strip. But he sounded a note of resignation when asked about a possible Israeli attack on Gaza. "What can we do? It would be different if we had anti-armor weapons, but we don't," Al-Najar said.
Gaza, a narrow strip of land on the Mediterranean, was captured by Israel from Egypt in the 1967 Middle East war. Israel handed most of Gaza, and parts of the West Bank, to Arafat's Palestinian Authority in 1994. But it still controls key roads and several enclaves where an estimated 7,000 Jewish settlers live among some 1.2 million Palestinians.
Gaza is one of the world's most densely populated areas and many believe that invading the strip on a scale similar to Israel's sweep through the West Bank last month in search of militants would result in high casualties among civilians and Israeli troops.
The birthplace of the Palestinians' 1987-93 uprising against Israeli rule, Gaza has taken the brunt of Israeli attacks in the early stages of the 19-month-old Palestinian-Israeli violence. In the Jebaliya refugee camp near Gaza City, a shantytown of 70,000, residents said Friday they would give Israel a fight if it invaded the camp.
In recent weeks, gunmen have been taking up positions every evening behind sandbags and mounds of debris and rubble. On Friday afternoon, the only sign of a possibly imminent battle was a bulldozer building a huge mound of sand at one of the camp's entrances.
In the West Bank town of Tulkarem, meanwhile, Israeli troops demolished a four-story building belonging to the family of a Hamas suicide bomber, Abdel Bassat Odeh, who blew himself up on March 27 in a hotel in the Israeli coastal town of Netanya. Twenty-nine Israelis died in the attack that targeted diners assembled for the Passover Seder, the ritual meal that ushers in the weeklong Jewish holiday. The attack triggered Israel's West Bank offensive two days later.
Israeli troops imposed a curfew on the neighborhood where Odeh lived and blew up his family's home, making 21 people homeless. A three-story building next door was badly damaged and 50 residents had to leave it, Palestinian officials said.
EDITOR'S NOTE This story was reviewed by the military censor as required by the Israeli government, and deletions were made.
With US backing, Israel prepares new military assault on Palestinians
By Chris Marsden
10 May 2002
Israel has promised harsh reprisals against what it calls terrorist targets in retaliation for the May 7 suicide bombing at a pool hall in the suburb of Rishon Letzion, near Tel Aviv. Fifteen Israelis were killed and more than fifty wounded in the attack.
Most observers predict a major military strike on the Gaza Strip, but whatever happens is certain to be brutal and bloody. It will be carried through with the tacit approval of the United States.
The Palestinian Authority condemned the pool hall suicide attack, with PA leader Yasser Arafat ordering his security forces to prevent all terrorist operations against Israelis. We will not be light-handed in punishing those who have caused great harm to our cause, his statement read.
Arafat added that he was committed to the US-led war on terrorism and appealed to the international community to help his forces implement my order. The bombing has been attributed to the Islamic militant group Hamas, but the group has made no official statement. Nevertheless, PA police have arrested 16 Hamas militants.
Arafats willingness to abide by US and Israeli demands will not prevent Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon from continuing to implement his long-term aim of destroying the Palestinian Authority. The Rishon Letzion suicide bombing took place 15 minutes after Sharon had sat down to a discussion with US President George W. Bush in the Oval Office. Sharon cut short his US trip and flew back to Israel to convene a cabinet meeting. He told the press that the bombing was proof of the true intentions of those who lead the Palestinian Authority, warning, He who rises up to kill us, we will pre-empt it and kill him first.
Education Minister Limor Livnat, who travelled with Sharon, said she thought it was very possible that, in the end, there will be no choice and it will be necessary to expel Arafat. Israels army chief, Lt. Gen. Shaul Mofaz, had earlier warned that if terror attacks resumed, Israel would carry out an offensive at least as extensive as the one leading up to the siege of Jenin.
The US has made no calls for restraint on Israels part. When asked whether he urged Sharon to exercise restraint, Bush told the press, Israel is a ... sovereign nation but whatever response Israel decides to take, my hope, of course, is that the prime minister keeps his vision of peace in mind.
Bush, who was meeting with Jordans King Abdullah II at the White House, made a token effort to appear even-handed, hailing as an incredibly positive sign the fact that Arafat had gone on television to denounce, in Arabic, acts of terror, and had ordered Palestinian security forces to prevent attacks on Israeli civilians. This type of political balancing act has led to a great deal of speculation as to the extent of the differences between the Bush administration and the Sharon government. There are indeed differences between the two allies, but only of a tactical character.
The White House is the main sponsor of Sharon, but Bush has spent the past weeks in intensive discussions with various Arab rulers, and Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia in particular, attempting to formulate a Middle East peace plan that calls for Arab recognition and normal relations with Israel once a Palestinian state is established. Bush has been supportive of the Saudi plan because, though it recognises a Palestinian state, this is understood only as a vassal regime run by the Palestinian bourgeoisie on behalf of the US.
Far from bringing peace, moreover, the cessation of hostilities between Israel and Palestine is meant to clear the way for the long-planned military offensive by the US against Iraq. The Middle East regimes have repeatedly warned the US that they would find it extremely difficult to restrain opposition within the Arab working class should the US declare war on Iraq while it is openly backing Sharons bloody incursions into the West Bank and Gaza.
Sharon went to Washington to argue against any limits being placed on his ongoing offensive against the PA. The Israeli security service Mossad had prepared dossiers, supposedly proving not only Arafats connection with terrorism, but also charging Saudi Arabia with the same offence. In the end the documents were never discussed, but Bush was hardly firm in his commitment to the Saudi proposals. Instead, while reiterating his support for the eventual creation of a Palestinian state, Bush generally responded favourably to Sharons counterproposals.
Sharon said talk of establishing a Palestinian state was premature and that there could be no question of dismantling Zionist settlements within the Occupied Territories. He presented what he called a three-stage peace plan, calling for an end to terror and a cease-fire, to be followed by an interim period of unspecified duration during which the parameters of peace would be discussed, and then final peace negotiations. This proposal, which amounts to an indefinite delay in any serious moves toward a Palestinian state, is bound up with Sharons determination to continue his military offensive. What was new was his proposal to reform the Palestinian Authority to make it less dependent on the will of one man. This, however, was merely another way of denying Arafats legitimacy.
Human Rights Watch report into Jenin accuses Israel of war crimes (10 May 2002)
A report issued by Human Rights Watch (HRW) charges the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) with committing war crimes during its military operation against the Jenin refugee camp, and calls for a full international investigation into events during its occupation.
US Congress backs Israeli assault on Palestinians [7 May 2002] http://www.wsws.org/articles/2002/may2002/cong-m07.shtml
Resolutions highlight alliance of Zionism and Christian right
FULL COVERAGE OF THE MIDDLE EAST CONFLICT
The Israeli/Palestinian Conflict: Looking at Both Sides of the Coin http://www.cybernaute.com/earthconcert2000/Archives2002/BothSides.htm
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