NT Wright on dropping African debt

Interesting piece by NT Wright (as usual), defending his opinion that the massive debts that many African countires owe to Western countries and banks should be canceled.  Here’s a few quotes to whet your appetite:

In the 1970s, for example, Western financial institutions loaned the best part of a billion dollars to Idi Amin of Uganda – a vicious psychopath and known to be such. By doing so, they not only saddled that impoverished country with a millstone of debt, but financed the dictator’s reign of terror. These actions were both financially irresponsible and morally reprehensible. After Amin’s fall, the debts were inflated by massive rates of compound interest (up to 20% p.a.!) resulting mainly from economic policies pursued by the developed world, not least as long-term results of the Bretton Woods agreement. At the same time, the bottom fell out of the market for Uganda’s main exports.

Here in North East England, Christian Aid received an unsolicited email from Dr Simon Challand, when he was working in southern Uganda with the Church Mission Society. He wrote that: “Debt relief means money stays in the country instead of pouring out to Europe and the US and there have been huge improvements in health and education… The Ministry of Health has just increased the grant to all the health centres by 85%… four years ago they got nothing. Many health centres are able to provide immunisation, growth monitoring, health education and antenatal care to remote rural areas… Everywhere you go you can see new classrooms going up to support the Universal Primary Education programme which gives every child 7 years of free schooling.” [Uganda used its first tranche of debt relief to improve basic medical provision and to abolish fees for primary school.]

Read the whole thing here.

(HT: Emergent Village blog)

Jill Bolte Taylor: My stroke of Insight

Found this video over at Doug Pagitt‘s blog. It’s a TED Talk by a “Neuroanatomist” named Jill Bolte Taylor, in which she recounts her experience of a having a stroke, from the standpoint of a brain scientist. She was able to remember the entire process, and in the end, discovered that there is much more to life than there seems to be.

While she doesn’t come to any specific revelation regarding Jesus, or even the Judeo-Christian God, I valued hearing about her spiritual experience, especially in light of her being a Scientist.

Scientists aren’t supposed to talk about things like Nirvana, and visions of heaven-like places…  are they?  😉

Jill Bolte Taylor: My stroke of Insight

(HT: Doug Pagitt)

“52 Nights Unplugged”

It might be completely ridiculous that I’m blogging about a topic like this… but on the other hand, it makes it very clear that I need something like this. Maybe you do too?

“Writer and self-described internet addict Ariel Meadow Stallings wants to be “more present in the present,” and for her that means reducing the amount of time she spends in front of the computer/TV/phone screen. To do just that, she’s started a new, year-long project called 52 Nights Unplugged. The rule is simple: once a week, for one night, she doesn’t do anything involving a screen.”

I think that I need this… Except that I might adapt it and combine it with the Sabbath concept, and rather than just take a night off, I might try it for an entire day on the weekend. What would it be like to not watch any TV or use a computer for an entire day… hmmm.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

(HT: LifeHacker -> Electrolicious)

Plastic and its toll on the environment

Not much that I can say about this article except “wow” and “God save us”…

Plastic Ocean: Our oceans are turning into plastic…are we?

NOTE: This is a pretty long one, but I thought it was well worth the read if you’ve got some time. Here are a few choice quotes to whet your appetite.

Thanks to people like Moore and McDonough, and media hits such as Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth, awareness of just how hard we’ve bitch-slapped the planet is skyrocketing. After all, unless we’re planning to colonize Mars soon, this is where we live, and none of us would choose to live in a toxic wasteland or to spend our days getting pumped full of drugs to deal with our haywire endocrine systems and runaway cancer.

None of plastic’s problems can be fixed overnight, but the more we learn, the more likely that, eventually, wisdom will trump convenience and cheap disposability…

(HT: Tim emailed me the link)