Meditation Focus #82
Redressing The Balance In Our Global Priorities
What follows is the 82nd Meditation Focus suggested for the two consecutive weeks beginning Sunday, February 23, 2003.
REDRESSING THE BALANCE IN OUR GLOBAL PRIORITIES
2. Meditation times
3. More information on this Meditation Focus
4. Peace Watch for Iraq
Following a week of exhilarating hopes after more than 11 million people took to the streets last February 15 in more than 600 cities around the world to demonstrate their common resolve that peace prevail in Iraq and around the world, the preparations for this war by the U.S. and UK military has reached a fevered pitch as a new resolution is to be presented this coming week at the UN Security Council in a last ditch attempt to legitimize the invasion of Iraq and the takeover of some of the richest oil fields in the world. But while everyone's attention is focused on this gathering storm, several other critical crisis have failed to make the headlines thus showing once again how little attention is paid to some of the most urgent and global life-threatening situations humanity is facing right now and how little resources are invested to support the existing solutions to these crisis. The sharp contrast between the gigantic sums of money, to the tune of $1.2 billion a day in the U.S. only, wasted in military spending and poured into mounting an attack aimed at perpetuating our global dependency upon oil, a fossil fuel partly to blame for global warming, and the ridiculously low amounts dedicated to combat the AIDS pandemic, tuberculosis and malaria, the three big diseases of poverty which kill an estimated 10 people per minute, or 15,000 per day, speaks volume about the skewed priorities adopted by the few men holding tight the purse strings of global finance.
The HIV/AIDS epidemic, first known in the early 1980s, has wiped out more than 20 million lives and left 42 million people living with HIV/AIDS at the close of 2002. In the same year, five million people were newly infected by the HIV-virus and more than three million died from AIDS. In low- and middle-income countries access to treatment is available to less than 5 percent of those in need, in Africa to no more than 1 percent and in humanitarian emergency situations to hardly anyone. In its 20 years' duration, the HIV/AIDS epidemic has already wiped out more than 50 years of development gains in the hardest-hit countries by cutting short life expectancy, in some cases by more than 20 years. Saving people is a humanitarian imperative. And yet a paltry $1.5 billion has been allocated this year to a new Global Fund on AIDS, TB, Malaria, while an additional $6.3 billion will be needed over the next two years to continue fighting the spread of these diseases affecting millions of our brothers and sisters. And as repeatedly indicated in several prior Meditation Foci, the growing famine engulfing several African countries is not getting the urgent attention it requires to help avert the death of tens of millions of men, women and children.
Please dedicate your prayers and meditations, as guided by Spirit, in the coming two weeks, and especially in synchronous attunement at the usual time this Sunday and the following one, to contribute in focusing everyone's attention onto redressing the balance in our global priorities so as to ensure the survival of millions of human beings, protect and restore the fragile environment we all depend upon for our continued existence on Earth and reaffirm the sacredness of all forms of Life, for the Highest Good of All.
This whole Meditation Focus is also available at http://www.aei.ca/~cep/MeditationFocus82.htm
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 now correspond to 16:00 Universal Time/GMT:
Honolulu 6:00 AM -- Anchorage 7:00 AM -- Los Angeles 8:00 AM -- Denver 9:00 AM -- San Salvador, Mexico City, Houston & Chicago 10:00 AM -- New York, Toronto & Montreal 11:00 AM -- Halifax, Santo Domingo, La Paz & Caracas 12:00 PM -- Montevideo, Asuncion * & Santiago * 1:00 PM -- Rio de Janeiro * 2:00 PM -- London, Dublin, Lisbon, Reykjavik & Casablanca 4:00 PM -- Lagos, Algiers, Geneva, Rome, Berlin, Paris & Madrid 5:00 PM -- Ankara, Jerusalem, Johannesburg, Athens, Helsinki & Istanbul 6:00 PM -- Baghdad, Moscow & Nairobi 7:00 PM -- Tehran 7:30 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 AM -- Seoul & Tokyo +1:00 AM -- Brisbane, Canberra & Melbourne +2:00 AM -- Wellington * +5:00 AM
+ means the place is one day ahead of Universal Time/Greenwich Mean Time.
* 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 complement of information may help you to better understand the various aspects pertaining to the summary description of the subject of this Meditation Focus. It is recommended to view this information from a positive perspective, and not allow the details to tinge the positive vision we 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 peace and healing. This complementary information is provided so that a greater knowledge of what needs healing and peace-nurturing vibrations may assist us to have an in-depth understanding of what is at stake and thus achieve a greater collective effectiveness.
See these previous related Meditation Foci:
Meditation Focus #68: Fostering a Global Mobilization Against AIDS and Hunger
archived at http://www.aei.ca/~cep/MeditationFocus68.htm
Meditation Focus #72: Renewed Urgency to Help Southern Africa Avert a Massive Famine
archived at http://www.aei.ca/~cep/MeditationFocus72.htm
Meditation Focus #76: Preventing a Famine in Ethiopia
archived at http://www.aei.ca/~cep/MeditationFocus76.htm
Global Fund on AIDS, TB, Malaria approves massive grants (Feb 6)
GENEVA - Under a motto of "Raise it, Spend it, Prove it," the new Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and malaria on Friday awarded grants of US$866 million to 60 countries for grassroots projects to save lives and limit suffering.
The grants will ensure that an additional 500,000 people in developing nations are treated with anti-AIDS medicines, a six-fold increase from current levels. They will be used to provide care and support to 500,000 AIDS orphans and vulnerable children, mainly in Africa, and will also beef up prevention campaigns, according to the fund's organizers.
With the new funds, 30 million African families will now be protected from malaria with treated mosquito nets, making the Fund the biggest purchaser of nets on the continent, it said. Money will also be channeled to buy more than 4 million courses of new medicines which are more effective against resistant strains of malaria than current remedies.
A statement from the fund said the new grants will also help treat 2 million people with tuberculosis over the next five years "without these services, most of these people would either continue infecting others with the disease or die."
AIDS, TB and malaria the three big diseases of poverty kill an estimated 10 people per minute, or 15,000 per day.
Richard Feachem, the fund's executive director, praised the progress.
"Not only is the Global Fund encouraging the most effective players to work together to get the job done on the front lines of the epidemics, it is also helping donors coordinate efforts, reduce waste and focus on achieving results," said Feachem at the end of a three-day meeting of the fund's board.
The board elected U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson as its president.
The fund came into life one year ago upon the initiative of U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, with the U.S. government as its largest single donor. Individual organizations have to apply for grants, giving details on how the money will be spent. The aim is to offer avoid red tape than bogs down many government health programs- although it has suffered some teething problems as a result of bureaucratic wrangling.
Initial grants were awarded last April. Together with the money approved Friday, the fund hopes to hand out $1.5 billion this year. But after that the coffers will be empty, said Feachem, calling for an additional $6.3 billion over the next two years.
"Our focus in 2003 must be on substantial and measured progress in the three domains which comprise the totality of the Global Fund: Raise it, Spend it, Prove it."
Of grants announced so far, Ethiopia was awarded US$93.3 million over two years for programs to combat AIDS and malaria. Mozambique will receive up to US$54 million for its proposals to involve community and government initiatives in addressing HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. Namibia will get some US$26 million to support 150,000 orphans and children affected by HIV.
The fund also awarded malaria grants totaling up to US$27 million over two years to Sudan, after a joint request was submitted by the Sudanese government and southern rebels.
Three states in India received the largest single country grant within Asia, some US$38.8 million for proposals for tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS over two years.
Women's Health Groups Assail Conditions on Bush AIDS Plan
WASHINGTON, D.C. Feb 20 (OW-US) - Population and women's reproductive-health groups launched an attack Wednesday against proposals by United States President George W. Bush to apply conditions on a five-year, US$15 billion dollar plan to fight AIDS in Africa and the Caribbean. The groups--including Washington-based Population Action International (PAI) and the Center for Reproductive Rights--said that the proposals presented last week by U.S. officials, and in an unclassified State Department document, would be too narrow for nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that actually provide the health services. According to proposals, Bush intends to bar anti-AIDS assistance to groups that provide or counsel their patients on abortion, unless they "administer AIDS programs separately from family planning" and reproductive-health services. CLIP
Related article: Bush pledges $15bn to fight Aids (Jan 29)
HIV/AIDSa double humanitarian challenge
One hundred years have past since Henri Dunant, the founder of the Red Cross movement, was honoured with the Nobel Peace Prize for his dedicated work for the sick and wounded in war. With this recognition, the first building block of international humanitarian law to protect civilians in times of war was laid.
Since Dunant's ideas on humanitarianism, the world has not only been cruelly ravaged by war, but also by other forces equally devastating for life and livelihood, for development and social stability, in short for the future of nations. Standing out among these, for the unprecedented scale of devastation it has left in its wake since first identified 20 years ago, is HIV/AIDS.
The HIV/AIDS epidemic, first known in the early 1980s, has wiped out more than 20 million lives and left 42 million people living with HIV/AIDS at the close of 2002. In the same year, five million people were newly infected by the HIV-virus and more than three million died from AIDS. This is an epidemic that is globally more widespread and in its impact more devastating than the Black Death, which 700 years ago changed the course of development and history in Europe by killing one third of the population at the timesome 25 million people.
AIDS is a deadly disease with as yet no cure. But unlike the Black Death, which was spread by rodents, AIDS is spread through human behaviour. Also unlike the Black Death, where death occurred days after transmission, AIDS can take as long as 10 to 20 years to mature into a fatal illness. And unlike the Black Death, HIV/AIDS continues to spread into new areas and into new sections of populations well after prevention measures are known. Like the Black Death, however, AIDS does not have a cure. And like the Black Death, AIDS is bound to take a heavy toll on societies, development and the way we perceive the world and its future.
There are already four countries where more than 30 percent of the adult population is infected, many of them young people. As people in the prime of their lives succumb to the epidemic, the demographic profile and the development pattern of affected countries are bound to change. As workers, farmers, teachers, civil servants, police officers, parents and increasingly women are no longer able to fulfil their tasks in society, the social fabric that knits societies together unravels. As AIDS kills people, it kills development and ruins social stability. This makes HIV/AIDS a disaster for humanity and a global political challenge of the highest significance.
Like complex humanitarian emergencies, HIV/AIDS plunges people, communities and countries into further impoverishment. A staggering example of the potent role played by HIV/AIDS in humanitarian crises is provided by the famine currently striking large parts of Africa. In southern Africa, the countries hardest hit by food shortages are also among those most severely affected by AIDS. This dual tragedy calls for a dual response integrating humanitarian relief and HIV/AIDS supportshort of that neither the prevention of premature deaths nor the objective of promoting a sustainable recovery will succeed. The shortage of food, especially nutritious food, fuels AIDS, and the epidemic in turn plunges affected people into food insecurity, robbing households and communities of their capacity to produce food or to afford food. Less time is spent in the field and more money on health care and funerals, stripping millions of their livelihoods and prompting alternative, often desperate, survival strategies.
Increasingly HIV/AIDS is a barometer of inequalities in society. In high-income countries where anti-retroviral treatment has become part of the public health service, complacency now poses the greatest danger. In low- and middle-income countries access to treatment is available to less than 5 percent of those in need, in Africa to no more than 1 percent and in humanitarian emergency situations to hardly anyone. This glaring inequality is morally unacceptable in an era when treatment regimens exist and are known to reduce suffering and improve the quality of life, to prolong lives and productive life-cycles, and to cut hospitalization costsall of great benefit to households and communities, to economic and national development, to political stability and human security.
In its 20 years' duration, the HIV/AIDS epidemic has already wiped out more than 50 years of development gains in the hardest-hit countries by cutting short life expectancy, in some cases by more than 20 years. Saving people is a humanitarian imperative. Saving development is a political imperative. In 2005, a target year for implementing the Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS, world leaders will have to look into the mirror of accountability and prove that action has followed words.
One of the most immediate humanitarian concerns in the wake of the HIV/AIDS epidemic is children. In 2002 alone more than 600,000 children below the age of 15 died from AIDS, most of them infected at birth through transmission from their infected mother. Saving future generations calls for more investment in the prevention of mother-to-child transmission.
Equally startling is the situation of children orphaned by AIDS. Now counting 14 million, the majority live in sub-Saharan Africa, many in areas struck by food crisis and violent conflict or political disturbances. Making ends meet for these children often means forsaking school and engaging in risky activities for survival, such as transacting sex in exchange of food, shelter and protection to which all children are entitled under the Convention of the Rights of the Child. Even in areas where positive signs of reduced incidence of HIV among young people have been registered, such as in Uganda, already existing high prevalence rates make the number of orphans set to increase as death rates in AIDS rise. The number of children who have lost one or both of their parents to AIDS is set to double to almost 25 million over the next decade. Providing them with reliable protection and safe schooling is the best social vaccine to prevent them from also falling prey to AIDS.
More and more, AIDS is attacking young people. Almost half of the 14,000 people newly infected each day are of a young age and altogether some 12 million young people are currently living with HIV/AIDS. The future trajectory of this global epidemic and its links to human security depends on whether the world can protect young people and children everywhere from the epidemic and its impact.
As for Henri Dunant in the aftermath of the harsh battles of war 100 years ago, and after the new generation of violent intra-state post-Cold War conflicts that prompted the establishment of DHA ten years ago, the humanitarian challenge in the present era of HIV/AIDS calls for radical rethinking of our response and a renewed formula of humanitarian protection. It also requires redoubled efforts in stemming the epidemic, starting with prevention and home and community care even in the very difficult and urgent situations of humanitarian emergencies.
AIDS around the world - BBC Recommended
Interactive map of the world showing how each region has been affected by the pandemic
Q&A: Aids in Africa (Feb 20)
BBC News Online examines why Aids has spread so fast in Africa amid claims that it has more to do with unsafe medical care than unsafe sex.
Dirty needles 'spread Africa Aids' (Feb 20) http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/2782483.stm
The United Nations has disputed the findings of United States researchers which says most HIV infections in Africa result from dirty medical needles. (...) Dr Christopher Uoma, HIV co-ordinator for ActionAid in Kenya, said he had not a chance to study the full research but was initially shocked by the findings. "It could have profound implications for our programme and Africa in general," he said. "It could lead to a serious change in terms of health behaviour with people being reluctant to enter hospitals." He also warned that it could encourage some people to revert to previous habits of risky sexual behaviour. He pointed out that HIV epidemics in South Africa and Zimbabwe, which had good health systems, were less developed than those in countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, where medical care was poorer.
Malawi minister's Aids trauma (Feb 18)
A government minister breaks the taboo on the Aids epidemic by revealing the loss of his own children.
WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Fergus Walsh "An epidemic that is slowly killing a continent"
Immediate action needed to prevent further spread of HIV/AIDS in South Asia
Speaking at a meeting of South Asian governments in Kathmandu, leaders of UNICEF and UNAIDS declared that AIDS was stalking South Asians and warned that the region has only a narrow window of opportunity for turning back the disease.
UNAIDS - The Joint UN Program on HIV/AIDS
The humanitarian challenge in the present era of HIV/AIDS calls for radical rethinking of the global response to the epidemic and a renewed formula of humanitarian protection, according to "HIV/AIDSa double humanitarian challenge", an article by UNAIDS Director Marika Fahlen. It also requires redoubled efforts in stemming the epidemic, starting with prevention and home and community care, even in the very difficult and urgent situations of humanitarian emergencies.
Aids ravages Swazi society
BBC News has harrowing new evidence of the extent of the Aids catastrophe in southern Africa. According to the United Nations, several countries could be near collapse. They all face one major obstacle: a shortage of affordable drug treatment. This week, the UK Chancellor Gordon Brown stepped in with a hard-hitting message to the multinational drug companies. He said they must allow poor countries to buy cheap versions of their drugs. The Aids epidemic is sweeping across large parts of the African continent. Around 30 million people in sub-Saharan Africa are now living with HIV. Two and a half million people lost their lives in 2001 and it's getting worse. Swaziland is one of the countries most severely affected. Four in every 10 people are HIV positive and life A decade ago life expectancy was 61. Now it is just 37. Soon it will be 30. By the end of next year it is thought a third of all children will be without parents. A generation is going to its grave long before its time, leaving its children orphans and carrying the seeds of their own destruction. Over half of the patients in the country's hospitals now have Aids. They're wasting away from the disease and dozens of other cruel infections they can't resist. 50,000 have died already and the wave of deaths has barely begun. Children get the disease from their mothers. It costs just £1.50 ($2.40) for the injection that can stop it. The government has promised to make it available but not for everyone, not everywhere, and far too late. (...) One woman holds her child's hands, the girl wears a woollen black hat and looks up with sad eyes. The woman's daughter is dying a slow death, riddled with infections including agonising thrush. Her other daughter died of Aids last year and is buried outside the hut that is their home. Granny is now left to care for seven children. Inside every hut there is someone sick and dying. Or there are orphans left behind.
THE GLOBAL ENVIRONMENTAL ARMAGEDDON: A RELATED VITAL KEY ISSUE
End of the world nigh - it's official (Feb 14)
Ignore the optimists: the global warming horror stories are all true. There is a lot wrong with our world. But it is not as bad as many people think. It is worse. Global warming is slowly but relentlessly changing the face of the planet.
Human race is killing planet, says Meacher (Feb 14)
Michael Meacher, the environment minister, believes there is a real question mark over the survival of the human race, and in a lecture today compares the species to a virus which is in danger of destroying the planet. (...) He details the major problems - lack of fresh water, destruction of forest and crop land, global warming with its storms and flooding, overuse of natural resources and continuing population rise. CLIP
4. Peace Watch for Iraq
Please also keep in mind the current situation in Iraq where a war could erupt in the coming weeks with unimaginably catastrophic consequences.
FIRST RECOMMENDED TO YOUR ATTENTION:
Defeating the U.S. War Plans Series #18: The Manufacturing of Consent for War
Defeating the U.S. War Plans Series #19: Magnificent Global Crescendo For Peace!
Defeating the U.S. War Plans Series #20: Largest Ever Public Stand for Peace
The Light Series #45: Meditational Expanse
White House Advisors Looking for a "Way Out" of War With Iraq From Capitol Hill Blue By CHB Staff
20 February 2003
Some strategists within the Bush Administration are urging the President to look for an "exit strategy" on Iraq, warning the tough stance on war with the Arab country has left the country in a "no win" situation.
"At this point, the United States and Britain does not have the support for passage of a second UN resolution," admits a White House aide.
In addition, Republican leaders in both the House and Senate are telling the Presidently privately that he is losing support in Congress for a "go it alone war" against Iraq.
"The President's war plans are in trouble, there's no doubt about that," says an advisor to House Speaker Dennis J. Hastert. "Some Republican members want a vote on military action and some of those say they would, at this point, vote against such action."
Some White House advisors are urging the President to consider complying with the UN position or to look for other "face saving" ways to avoid war with Iraq.
President Bush, however, is reported to be "hanging tough" on plans to invade Iraq, even though his closest advisors tell him such a move could be "disasterous" politically.
"The President has backed himself and the nation into a corner in a no win situation," says political scientist George Harleigh. "World opinion is against him. Public opinion polls show support eroding among Americans."
U.S. May Move Troops to Turkey Next Week (Feb 22)
WASHINGTON - The United States hopes to begin moving troops and equipment into Turkey as early as this week, preparing for an expected second front in a possible war with Iraq, Pentagon officials said Saturday.
Has War Begun? U.S. Teams Already Attempting to Undermine Iraqs Military Strength (Feb 17)
In many respects, the war with Iraq has already begun. U.S. warplanes are bombing Iraqi air defenses almost every day. Other aircraft are dropping millions of leaflets all over Iraq warning people things are about to change. Small numbers of CIA and U.S. military operatives are secretly working inside Iraq. American commando teams have been operating in Iraq's western desert, where the United States believes Saddam Hussein has hidden Scud missiles capable of hitting Israel or Jordan with nerve gas, sources told ABCNEWS. These teams are dropped by helicopter in darkness. They stay for one to two days in order to hunt for missiles, scout for future bases and plant surveillance equipment. CLIP
Inspectors Call U.S. Tips 'Garbage (Feb 20)
While diplomatic maneuvering continues over Turkish bases and a new United Nations resolution, inside Iraq, U.N. arms inspectors are privately complaining about the quality of U.S. intelligence and accusing the United States of sending them on wild-goose chases.
Complications on U.S. Road to War (Feb 21)
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - On the verge of war in Iraq, the Bush administration finds its goals complicated by its own uncompromising approach as it builds a legacy that could do long-term damage to NATO, the United Nations and U.S. leadership, diplomats and analysts say.
Study: Short Iraq War Would Cost World $1 Trillion (Feb 20)
Archbishops Question Blair's Claim to 'Moral Legitimacy' of Invasion (Feb 20)
Invasion Hiroshima Style (Feb 15)
The World Health Organization estimates that "as many as 500,000 people could require treatment as a result of direct and indirect injuries" from this unprecedented onslaught or radioactive high-explosives. (...) Children are 10 to 20 times more sensitive to the effects of radiation than adults. Today more than half of all cancers in Iraq are occurring among children under the age of five. Helpless pediatricians in Basra have watched childhood leukemia and cancer increase up to 12-times peacetime rates. Hospitals throughout Iraq have reported as much as a 10-fold increase in birth defects since cities and countryside were strafed with radioactive munitions. CLIP
War Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is refusing to rule out the use of nuclear weapons in Iraq.
The Bush Administration is seeking large increases in funding to develop a new generation of nuclear weapons. And the Los Angeles Times is reporting that the White House has considerably lowered the threshold for using nuclear weapons. A first strike nuclear attack by the U.S. is now a possibility.
The New Nuclear Danger: George W. Bush's Military-Industrial Complex http://www.noradiation.org/caldicott/book-02.html
War Is Good Business (Jan 11)
(...) If one adds up all the supplementary costs of war beyond the $355.5 billion military budget--Homeland Security, $30 billion in supplementary funds, $25.5 billion for foreign military assistance, $16 billion for nuclear weapons, etc--the U.S. spends in excess of $465 billion each year, or $1.2 billion a day. (...) U.S. military spending not only dwarfs the combined military budgets of the "Evil Axis" ($11.4 billion), all potential enemies ($116.4 billion), but every single nation in the world, from Russia to Luxembourg ($423 billion). War is a bad business? Not for everyone.
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