Archive for January, 2006

Bolivia leader halves his own pay (NOW, THAT’S NEWS!!!!!!!!!!!!)

The Bolivian new left-wing President, Evo Morales, has cut his salary by more than a half to a little over $1,800 (£1,012) per month.
 
The decision means that the salaries of all Bolivian public sector employees will be reviewed, as no official can earn more than the president.
 
Mr Morales said the money saved would be used to increase the numbers of doctors and teachers.

 

Mr Morales suggested that members of Congress should cut their salaries too.

During the campaign, Mr Morales had pledged to halve his own pay if elected.

 

The move announced after his first cabinet went beyond that, with a cut of 57%.

 

BBC South America correspondent Daniel Schweimler says many voted for Mr Morales believing that he was different from the more conservative politicians who have governed in the past.

 

The former llama herder and coca leaf farmer was inaugurated last Sunday as Bolivia’s first indigenous president.

 

He has promised to fight corruption, introduce a new tax on the wealthy, and renationalise energy companies.
 
Source:  BBC Online


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January 27, 2006 at 11:47 am 1 comment

Hamanistan indeed – I’m hedging my bets on a Likud rise and, possibly, a win in March!

“Today, Hamastan was formed, a representative of Iran and in the image of the Taliban,” said Benjamin Netanyahu , leader of the opposition Likud Party.
 
Labor Party politician Ami Ayalon, a former head of the Shin Bet security service, said Israel might have to change the route of its West Bank security barrier because of the Hamas victory.
 
Source: AP


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January 27, 2006 at 10:25 am 3 comments

Safaricom: Let’s give Kenyans a chance to own a piece

By MWANGI IRUNGU
The government faces a litmus test on where it will source the Sh. 22 billion needed to lay off the 11,000 of the 18,000 Telkom staff as it restructures the loss making public company.
According to the Information and Communication Minister Mr. Mutahi Kagwe, the government is currently pumping a whooping Sh. 400 million monthly to keep the company afloat.
This figure translates to a Sh. 4.8 billion loss annually for the government which should not be allowed to happen any further.
One option that the government has of raising the cash is through the much-publicized sale of some of its 60% shares in the largest mobile phone company in Kenya Safaricom.
If the government goes ahead and implements this plan to sell part of Safaricom, it should do so through the Nairobi Stock Exchange (NSE) and not through a strategic investor like Vodafone PLC who are waiting with a predatory anticipation to cash on this venture should the government decide otherwise.
The government should learn from the success of the KCB rights issue in 2004 where the bank raised Sh. 2.35 billion through the bourse after it decided not to take up its shares. 
On the verge of collapse, Uchumi too raised Sh. 1.2 billion through the NSE silencing critics who were advocating for a strategic investor from South Africa.
The NSE Chairman Da Gama Rose early this year too urged the government to shun strategic investors and sell part of National Bank of Kenya and the Consolidated Bank through the NSE.
This will benefit Kenyans and other local investors who are beginning to appreciate the success of the stock market which previously had been benefiting a few enlightened ones.
The government should give Kenyans a chance to own part of the Safaricom instead of giving it away to foreigners who will repatriate the profit to their country and such a golden opportunity can only be done through the stock market which is on an upward trend of growth. 
In 2005, the NSE was one of the most active sectors in the country with the NSE 20 share index gaining 1,027 points to close the year at 3,973.
Nairobi Stock Exchange CEO Mr. Chris Mwebesa predicts the NSE 20 share index may hit the 5,000 mark in 2006 which is likely to create over Sh100 billion in additional wealth to the shareholders.
At the moment, the NSE 20 share index is above the 4,000 mark.
With more companies likely to list this year, namely Equity Bank, KenGen and Wananchi online the NSE story will be that of success and its no doubt that a 5,000 mark will be achieved.
With its subscriber base targeted to hit 5.5 million by the end of 2007, its no doubt that Kenyans are the true owners of one of the Kenya’s jewell-companies – Safaricom.
The government should give Kenyans a chance through the NSE to own a piece of Safaricom’s cake which many have not enjoyed in some of the blue chip companies in the NSE – namely EABL – where majority shareholders are foreigners, cement companies like East African Portland and Bamburi Limited.
In his budget speech last year, Finance Minister David Mwiraria gave incentives to local investor (company owners) who listed their companies in the stock market.
Any company listing 40% of its shares in the stock market to Kenyans, would be exempted a 10% corporate tax for 5 years.
This has seen an influx in the number of companies wanting to list at the NSE whose benefits are
immense.
If it wants growth at the NSE, the government should therefore aid this process of attaining a 26% growth by the end of 2007 by selling part of  Safaricom through the NSE as it is done with KenGen where it is selling its 30% stakes in the highest Initial Public Offer (IPO) ever in the country projected at between  Sh. 8-10 billion.
Should the government heed this call Safaricom’s IPO would be the largest ever in East Africa, surpassing that of KenGen.
Conservative estimates indicate that it would require a cross-listing in the 3 East African Countries so as to
exhaust the offer.
But with the anticipated success of the KenGen offer, where it’s believed the offer might not be enough for the number of willing investors, its almost certain that Kenyans will take up any Safaricom offer.
With Kenya Airways, East African Cables and Athi River Mining enjoying the success of listing at the
stock market, it’s high time the government borrowed a leaf from these companies which are among the
most active at the bourse as their benefits to Kenyans who have invested in them is immense.
Having made a profit of over Sh. 5 billion last year, Safaricom is one of the fastest growing companies in Kenya and it’s riding higher.
Homegrown economists have raised alarm on the Vodafone PLC bid to put an additional 11% stake in Safaricom at $100 million (Sh7.2 billion) which is perceived to be too low for a company whose prospects are higher. Analysts have expressed fear that Vodafone PLC might even decide to give its Safaricom stake to South African giant VodaCom where its has immense stakes to run it.
This should not be allowed to happen; Safaricom should be owned by Kenyans.

Mwangi Irungu is a freelance writer and can be reached at m_irungu@wananchi.net


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January 25, 2006 at 11:18 pm 1 comment

Anglo Leasing: Is the Nation being sincere?

By EVANS CHEKMOENG
The Nation Media Group (NMG) is thoroughly a Kikuyu outfit which has and continues to ably serve that community. The so-called Anglo-Leasing expose was to me really an expose of NMG for who they really are – entrenched tribalists who would use every hook and crook to keep the Mt. Kenya Mafia in power! Why did they keep this quiet all along? Whatever they wrote is simple common knowledge for almost a year since Githongo resigned. In fact even Sir Edward Clay had raised the same issues last year and what did NMG do? They joined the Kikuyu hegemony in lambasting Clay for being disrespectful to a sovereign nation – Kenya! Why didn’t they publish the full Clay expose (word for word instead of the edited version) then? Of course they knew it would hurt their grand Banana Campaign! Why now pretend to be custodians of – truth – when all along they peddled falsehood by withholding the truth? The Githongo dossier is allegedly 91 pages according to UK newspapers like The Times and The Guardian. Yet whatever NMG serialized was a cannibalized, mutilated version of the contents of the original! Why did they not mention in detail Jimmy Kibaki’s alleged role in Anglo Fleecing? Why also did they circumnavigate Kibaki’s active role in the same? Why did they give us bits and pieces instead of solid investigative journalism – having names and places, etc? Talk of investigative journalism at its best; oh no at its worst!
The other person I personally do not give a damn to is Githongo. In fact I agree with one Kenyan blogger who has given him the Coward of the Year (2005) Award! Why did he keep quiet in UK for a whole one year before now allegedly “spilling the beans”? His reason according The Guardian about his “conscience” is as hollow as indeed that same conscience! Where was Githongo when Kibaki, Kiraitu, Murungaru, et al. were looting the Kenyan economy last year in order to push the horrendously flawed Draft Constitution down our throats? If he had spoken then, it would have put paid the Banana Campaign. But being a nice Kikuyu he chose to serve his tribe by keeping his mouth shut! In that case, let his mouth remain shut. And when time comes to haul Kibaki and his collaborators into jail for gross mismanagement, Githongo should go to jail ahead of them for abetting grand corruption! Even the issue of his security is a NMG fictitious imagination; if Kenyan hitmen could get Akasha wherever he was, who is Githongo in Oxford? National heroes have been people who put their lives on the line for the sake of the country. I dare Githongo to come home and let’s see if he will be killed! His Kikuyu bed-fellows cannot kill; they need him just as they needed him when Kibaki appointed him the anti-graft czar without any commitment whatsoever! Some stories are doing rounds that his brief transfer from State House to work under Kiraitu was done without Kibaki’s knowledge! Come on; who can believe this hogwash? That we have a president so senile who cannot even know the composition of his cabinet before he announces it; and even when he realizes that there are some “strange” changes in the “original” list, still goes ahead to announce the list! These arguments, mostly fronted by NMG, do not hold water. They simply want us to believe that Kibaki is “sick”. But surely if he is “sick” to that extent, why didn’t NMG tell Kenyans the truth when he supposedly suffered multiple strokes? Better still why cant NMG tell the truth by outlining to Kenyans the exact nature of the “sickness” and then push for a healthy leader? Take my word, if we had a “sick” president who is not from Mt. Kenya, NMG would have led the pack in telling the “truth” and would not rest until we got a “healthy” Kikuyu president!
If indeed NMG was keen and sincere on exposing the stinking corruption in the Kibaki Administration, they would have a field day. Let them give us a list of all the ministers and MPs who we hear were each paid to deliver the Banana vote in their constituencies! Or let them expose how ministers in the Kibaki Administration have suddenly become millionaires! How come some have been able to put up grand palaces in Karen within only three years of being a minister? What of the mansions others are building in various posh parts of the country including along Mombasa beaches? Why can’t they expose the elaborate drug syndicate which implicates some of the high and mighty in Kenya? Come on NMG, give us a break!
The truth is that Nation completely lost out to Standard (and KTN) ever since the Referendum debate. When we Kenyans (not from Mt. Kenya) realized the brazen and arrogant manner in which NMG pushed the Banana Agenda, we said enough is enough. To add insult to injury, Citizen, Kameme, KBC and other Kikuyu-owned media franchises like The People went to bed with the Kibaki Administration and vowed to dish out outright lies. As if Kenyans are pigs! Right now the readership of The Nation and The People and the viewership of NTV has plummeted to an all-time low. I guess if the trend continues the Nation will become like the Kenya Times during the Moi era – fit only for Government offices! I personally know of many friends (myself included) who were ardent readers of Nation but who have since the Referendum switched to Standard. Go to Kisumu City and you will be lucky to find anyone buying Nation!
Whatever NMG is now thumping their chest about exposing, all along Standard and KTN have raised the issues. There was absolutely nothing new that was “exposed” by the last Sunday Nation which has not been in the Standard before. Maybe the dates of the lunches that Kiraitu and Awori had to cover up Anglo Fleecing! Otherwise hard facts have basically been there. In fact Standard and KTN withstood a horrible media onslaught including some of their reporters being banned from covering Kibaki’s events! Remember the recent Standard photo of empty seats at the swearing ceremony of Kibaki’s suicidal cabinet?
NMG is in a state of panic and they are desperately trying to fool Kenyans, forgetting that Kenyans are much brighter than the bigheaded Mt. Kenya hegemony! We are seeing right through the veneer and instead of gaining mileage, they are simply sliding further down the pigsty. The only way forward for NMG is an UNCONDITIONAL APOLOGY to Kenyans for their bigoted, tribalized agenda all along. Do you even remember during the 2002 General Elections when NMG campaigned for Uhuru without shame (Uhuru’s and Kanu’s record notwithstanding)? Until and unless we get this apology (with accompanying demonstration of a Saul-on-Damascus-road conversion, I think non-central Kenyans are tired and sick of being treated as second-class citizens. You see, even after the No victory, one expected some toning down of language and even a change in the way NMG does things. Nothing; instead they continued to strengthen the Kibaki lame-duck government. We recall very clearly that even when Kombo and Ngilu stage-managed the “cabinet boycott”, NMG did not even have the courtesy to keep Kenyans abreast with the developments; there was no online breaking news or even a special print edition like the Standard did! Of course NMG knew the issue was stage-managed; but I got sick of the manner in which they even stage-managed their news coverage during the time.
Guys from Central Kenya are in a state of panic. They want to keep power at whatever cost. So even this Anglo-Fleecing “expose” is merely to ensure Kenyans get to see some more sacrificial lambs are offered to atone for the Mt. Kenya Mafia then it will be business as usual. But take it from me: the rest of Kenyans are bored stiff with being ruled by guys from Mt. Kenya. This time Kibaki has pushed us against the wall and I do not see another Mt. Kenya president in the foreseeable future. Whatever they do, let them be ready to eat humble pie and let other Kenyans a chance to lead this great country.
In fact the fatigue with Mt. Kenya leadership is not only in the political arena. We are also tired of it in the churches and Christian organizations! I know this will stir the hornet’s nest, but we need to launch a campaign to rid our key churches Christian institutions of mediocre Mt. Kenya leadership! I may be sounding tribal here but the truth has to be told: over 80% of key leaders of churches and Christian organizations are Kikuyus (or Mt. Kenya in general). Are we the better or the worse for it? I firmly believe that we are all the worse for it!!! Name them – NCCK, ACK, PCEA, EAK, JIAM, DC, etc! My thesis is that there has to be a Christian leadership revolution alongside the political revolution if we are to ever begin to see credible Christian leadership emerging in Kenya. At the moment we are having Mt. Kenya guys appointing their own even when they know full well that the leaders are not qualified at all! As if we do not have qualified and able guys from other parts of the country! I do not mean that leaders who are not from Mt. Kenya will be angels; we are all fallen beings but at least let us give other tribes an opportunity to try their hands at leadership.
Of course closely related to this is the economic stranglehold that Mt. Kenya has on Kenya. Apart from the multinationals and Asians (who they are causing to flee Kenya), they control virtually every aspect of our economy. While they have to be commended for being innovative, “hard-working”, business minded, etc, we must question what type of economics is this that only trickles back to Mt. Kenya and not the rest of the country! We are having a new breed of “fresh, young” Kikuyu executives who are swimming in money at a time when most parts of the country are burying themselves in poverty! Not to mention the older folks like Njega (who owns coffee plantation the size of a whole location in prime-land central province), Kuguru, etc. The gap between the rich (Kikuyus) and the poor (rest of Kenyans) is alarming and cannot be sustained! As a result of economic power, Mt. Kenya Mafia wants to control every aspect of our national life. And any attempt to change the status quo is met with economic sabotage! Surely, we cannot continue as a country this way. Let there be equitable distribution of wealth.
Well, these are my thoughts on the matter.
Comments on this article are welcome on this blog but personal correspondence for the writer may be channeled via: chekmoeng-offers@yahoo.com


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January 25, 2006 at 12:30 pm 14 comments

Love Your Unborn Neighbor

January 22, 2006 Sermons Edition
By John Piper

Luke 10:25-37

And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” 27 And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” 28 And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.” 29 But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 And the next day he took out two Denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, “Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.” 36 Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”

God has commanded us in his word, “You shall not murder” (Exodus 20:13). And he told us why. He said in Genesis 9:6, “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image.” In other words, when you murder a human, you attack God who makes every human in his image. This is the fundamental mistake that Princeton professor Peter Singer makes when he argues that (quoting Richard John Neuhaus, who debated Singer) “the life of an adult pig deserves protection more than that of a new born human baby, and . . . the parents should be free to kill their young children already born if they deem them unacceptably disabled.”1 The reason he is wrong is that the human baby is created in the image of God, and the pig isn’t.
The psalmist describes how God is personally and meticulously involved in the creation of each person in the womb: “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well” (Psalm 139:13-14). And lest we think that somehow the children in the womb are not children, not human, not persons. God lets us read the words of the angel in Luke 1:15 to Zechariah concerning John the Baptist, “He will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb,” so that a few verses later his pregnant mother said to Mary, “Behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy” (Luke 1:44).
And when we have heard all these things, God says to us in America in the 21st century stained with the blood of millions of unborn babies, these words from Proverbs 24:11-12, “Rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter. If you say, “Behold, we did not know this, does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it, and will he not repay man according to his work?
What work? The work of mercy, the work of justice, the work of caring for the oppressed and defending the unborn. The good work of loving the unborn. Why after all did Jesus Christ come to redeem us from our sin and guilt? Paul tells us in Titus 2:14, “He gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.” Among which is the glorious work of laboring and defending our unborn neighbor.
January 22 is the 33rd anniversary of the Supreme Court decision called Roe vs. Wade. That decree that made abortion legal in our country all the way up to birth, if the health of the mother is at stake; and the health of the mother has been construed to mean any discomfort that would come from an unwanted pregnancy. So what we have had for 33 years is virtually abortion on demand. In that time, the lives of 46 million unborn children have been ended by abortion in the United States. Women’s Issues web site estimates that worldwide that same number of abortions happen each year.

Abortion Closer to Home

The parable of the Good Samaritan, among other things, presses us from the global to the local. So let’s take a step closer to home. Since 1973 in our state, Minnesota, the lives of 490,000 unborn children have been ended by abortion. In 2004 there were 13,788 abortions in this state. (As tragic and as horrifying as that is, there is an encouraging side because this is the lowest number since 1975.)
But the parable of the Good Samaritan would press us still closer to home. Almost all the abortions in Minnesota are done here in the Twin Cities in five local clinics. I want to give you a glimpse into these clinics and then turn to the parable of the Good Samaritan and then come back to them at the end with a dream.
1. Midwest Health Center for Women is located downtown Minneapolis at 33 South Fifth Street, 4th Floor, Minneapolis, Minn., 55402. On their web site they state openly that they provide about 3,000 of those abortions each year and advocate for the sexual freedom that makes many of them feel so necessary.

Midwest Health Center for Women provides quality health care and advocates and promotes reproductive freedom and healthy sexuality. . . . Annually, Midwest provides abortion services for 3,000 patients. . . . We also seek to expand public awareness and gather support for reproductive rights and health care.
As an abortion provider we are prepared for a long political battle over reproductive rights. Continued attacks from the anti-choice minority threaten access to this legal and safe procedure through legislative action and regulatory burdens. For example, the so-called “Women’s Right to Know” which became Minnesota law in 2003 added $80,000 annually to the clinic’s operating budget.

2. Meadowbrook Women’s Clinic is located four blocks from our downtown campus at 825 South 8th Street, Suite 1018, Minneapolis, Minn., 55404. Here are a couple glimpses into their work. Question from their FAQ section: “Q: How long will the abortion take? A: If you are less than 14 weeks, the abortion will take approximately 5 to 10 minutes. If you are 14 to 21.6 weeks, the length of time will be somewhat longer (20 to 30 minutes).”
Twenty-one and a half weeks? Do you know what that baby looks like and experiences? He or she is about 11 inches long and weighs about a pound and is within two or three weeks of being able to live outside the womb. Steve Calvin, who works in the neonatal unit at Abbott hospital wrote in the Minneapolis StarTribune

Recently, I performed an amniocentesis on a patient at 21 weeks gestation because of a possible infection. On ultrasound, the fetus pulled away from the needle when it grazed her arm. It is clear to me that this fetus felt discomfort, and that she would feel horrible pain if she were dismembered in the exercise of an unjust constitutional right.2

The dismembering of a human being routinely in 30 minutes on an outpatient bases – or any other way – is barbaric. Four blocks from our church all year long, like churches within smelling distance of Auschwitz or Dachau or Buchenwald.
3. Robbinsdale Clinic, 3819 West Broadway, Robbinsdale, Minn., 55422. They strike a defensive political posture at their web site:

It is the responsibility of all American women and their families to work to keep abortion safe and legal by voting for Pro-Choice officials, and working with various organizations to ensure this basic fundamental right of reproductive freedom. Please remember, while over 70% of Americans believe in the right to choose, a small but vocal minority of narrow-minded anti-abortion forces, could make a major impact on the threat to women’s rights.

4. Mildred S. Hanson, M.D, 710 East 24th Street, Suite 403, Minneapolis, Minn., 55404. The web site calls her a “Late Abortion Specialist” and then boasts in this distinction: “First and second trimester abortions by a woman gynecologist, the first physician in Minnesota to perform the second trimester D&E procedure.” The business side is clear and simple at her site:

Fees for Office Abortions Through 20 Weeks

5-6 weeks $475
7-10.5 weeks $420
11-12 weeks $515
13-14 weeks $615
15th week $820
16th week $920
17-18 weeks $1,070
18-19.4 weeks $1,320
19-20 weeks $1,520

5. Planned Parenthood, Highland Park Clinic, 1965 Ford Parkway, St. Paul, Minn., 55116. Out of the 13,000+ abortions done in Minnesota each year about 23% are done at Planned Parenthood. Their web site describes how caring this is: “With many years of experience, our physicians and staff provide caring, confidential, and affordable abortion services.”

That’s the reality of abortion fairly close to home. Of course even closer are the abortions you have experienced personally: your girlfriend, your wife, your daughter, your granddaughter, yourself. Jesus hates abortion and he loves you. When you feel both of these truths the way he wants you to, you will weep with brokenhearted joy. I know women in this church who have walked through it, been broken by it, and emerged strong in the Lord and in the cause of life. Be patient with your healing. Your time for courage in the cause of life will come.

Who is my Neighbor?

O how many things we could observe from the parable of the Good Samaritan! But I have one main observation to make and apply to our situation. The parable begins with a lawyer trying to justify himself by asking the question “Who is my neighbor” (in verse 29), and ends with Jesus’ question in verse 36, “Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor?” Ten sermons could be preached on ten different issues raised by this parable. But I want you to see this one crucial thing: Jesus tells a story that changes the question from What kind of person is my neighbor? to What kind of person am I? He changes the question from What status of people are worthy of my love? to How can I become the kind of person whose compassion disregards status?
Let’s make sure we see this and then apply it. A lawyer asks in verse 25 about how to inherit eternal life. He is not sincere. It says he is testing Jesus. Jesus puts the question back to him in verse 26 to reveal the duplicity. What does the Law say? He answers in verse 27 that we should love God will all our heart and our neighbor as ourselves. Jesus exposes him by saying in effect: So you already know the answer. He sees that he has been exposed and needs to cover up his hypocrisy and so verse 29 says, “Desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?'” In other words, it’s not so easy, Jesus. Life is complicated, like, which kind of people do we have to love? Who qualifies for being a neighbor in the command, “Love your neighbor”? Every race? Every age. The unborn?
Now how will Jesus answer? He does not like this question. Carving humanity up into groups some of whom are worthy of our love and others are not. Jesus does not answer the question, “Who is my neighbor?” He tells a parable that changes the question.

Jesus Shifts the Focus

Between Jerusalem and Jericho a man falls among robbers and verse 30 says they “stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead.” The first two people to pass by are a priest and a Levite, the most religious folks, and they both pass by on the other side (vv. 31, 32). Then came a Samaritan, not even a Jew, and the key phrase about this man is at the end of verse 33: “he had compassion.”
You see how the focus has shifted. The question about what kind of man is dying is not even in the story any more. The whole focus is now on the kind of people who are walking by. The first two felt no compassion. The Samaritan was a different kind of person. So when you get to the end, what’s the question Jesus asks? Was it, “So was the wounded man a neighbor?” No. That is not the question. Jesus asked the lawyer (v. 36), “Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” The lawyer said in verse 37, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”
No answer to his question: Who is my neighbor? Instead: Go become a new kind of person. Go get a compassionate heart. This is exactly what Jesus died for. This is the promise of the new covenant in Ezekiel 36:26, “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you.” And Jesus said at the last supper, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood” (Luke 22:20). Those who follow Jesus all the way to the cross will see him there paying for their new heart.

What Kind of Person Am I?

So the point I believe I should make about abortion is this: When all the arguments are said and done about the status of pre-born human life and whether the unborn qualify for our compassion along with mommy and daddy and grandma and granddaddy, when we are done trying to establish, “Is this my neighbor?” – the decisive issue of love remains: What kind of person am I? Does compassion rise in my heart for both mommy and daddy and grandma and granddaddy and this unborn baby? Or do I just get another coke and change the channel?
Look at the practical compassion, the concrete, hands-on, get-messy compassion of verses 34-35. This is a huge part of the parable. Jesus belabors this to drive something home about the kind of person who follows him. Here it is (vv.34-35):

He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 And the next day he took out two Denarii [two days wages, maybe $300] and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, “Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.”

That is amazing!

A Heart of Compassion

My prayer for us in response to this message is that we become like that. A heart of compassion leading to hands-on, messy, sacrificial, time-consuming, stressful action. I believe there is something everyone can do in the cause of defending and protecting and loving everyone involved in abortion.
Which takes us back to Midwest Health Center for Women, and Meadowbrook Women’s Clinic, and Robbinsdale Clinic, and Mildred Hanson, and Planned Parenthood. The people who own and operate and work there are real people. Above all, they need Christ. What might God be pleased to do if 4,000 concerned Christians committed ourselves to pray daily that Christ would manifest his saving grace in those places? What divine encounters of compassionate involvement might God create? Let there be no violence from our side. The gospel is the power of God unto salvation for everyone who believes. If the owners and administrators and employees of these five clinics met the living Christ and were saved, would abortion be offered in Minnesota any longer? There is more that you can do. But this much I ask you to do. Pray regularly that the owners, administrators, and employees of Midwest Health Center for Women, Meadowbrook Women’s Clinic, Robbinsdale Clinic, Mildred Hanson, and Planned Parenthood would be saved.

Footnotes

1 Richard John Neuhaus, “While We’re at It” in First Things (January, 2006, Issue 159), 74.
2 Steve Calvin, “Think Fetuses Can’t Feel Pain? Try Telling Them That” (Minneapolis StarTribune, August 30, 2005).

January 24, 2006 at 11:01 pm Leave a comment

Sudan & the AU: A fitting end to the “East-African” affair

I salute J. Pronk – Koffi Annan’s right-hand man in the Sudan – for spearheading succesful efforts to bar Khartoum from leading the African Union at this moment in time. 
Up to and until yesterday, Khartoum was still boasting about the “unanimous” backing it had received from ALL East African states for its candidature.
After all, it was said, this was to have been East Africa’s chance to lead the AU. 
The Idi Amin skeleton as well as other political and human rights realities in the Sudan should have awakened these unnamed East African nations and Khartoum’s Northern supporters from their conveniently self-induced slumber.   
I find it particularly disturbing that Nairobi had reportedly pledged its support for Khartoum’s candidature; inconceivable even for a strategy to contain anyone (consider the always not-too-succesful attempt by some Kenyan head-teachers to “change” their errant students by bribing them with leadership responsibilities). 
What national interest were we defending / pursuing by backing Omar El-Bashir when:
1.  Darfur’s hungry, wounded and dying are still blaming him for their abject conditions?
2.  Tchad faces possible instability from militia forces that are reportedly backed by Khartoum?
3.  The Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA Khartoum signed with the South remains nothing but a beautiful document thus far with less to write home about? 
4.  The LRA continues to wreck havoc in Northern Uganda and S. Sudan, reportedly backed by Khartoum? 
A few months ago a dear friend of mine succumbed to a deadly LRA attack – I shivered each moment I heard Khartoum was headed to African supremacy with such an event so fresh in my mind.       
Preliminary reports suggest that the rest of Africa united against the Eastern and Northern alliance:  What regional interest were Kampala, Dodoma and Nairobi pursuing for their people?
P.S:  Amazing, isn’t it, that Nairobi could recall its ambassador to Khartoum for reportedly helping Sudan invite Mwingi North MP Kalonzo Musyoka to the AU meeting (alongside Kibaki) yet it couldn’t move an inch while Darfur burned.  We, alongside much of Africa, left that to the Bush administration and religious conservatives in the US.  “Non-interference in each other’s internal affairs” indeed.  Never mind that Musyoka probably should have been in Khartoum, given his involvement in several regional peace processes (the CPA included).  That’s kumalizana gone too far.


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January 24, 2006 at 4:27 pm 2 comments

Nairobi building tragedy: Love or hate them, you have to give it to the Jews!

By some credible accounts, the Israelis have given Kenyan rescuers a good shot in the arm at this difficult moment for many families. 
“A specialist 140-strong Israeli team with sniffer dogs and specialised heavy rescue equipment is now in Nairobi helping with the rescue effort,” says the BBC (at a time when our military was reportedly complaining about a lack of lighting and basic equipment like crowbars and hammers).    
The Israelis are the same guys who, in the aftermath of the 1998 bomb blast at the US embassy in Nairobi, reportedly chided the powers-that-be for allowing then-President Moi to visit the site a little “too early” after the fact. 
Sources told Kenyananalyst the Israelis were concerned Moi could have easily fallen victim to multiple-timed-bombing (a common tactic in the troubled Middle East) had the bombers planned for such.
Their timely response and impressive input at this hour should remind us all of the enduring legacy of the Israeli story down the ages and their resilience in the murk of survivalist politics in the ever fractious Middle East. 
Love or hate them, you have to give it to the Jews!
 


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January 24, 2006 at 2:59 pm Leave a comment

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