Will the One and Only, Genuine Santa Claus Visit Your Home this December 24th? Find Out at CharityFolks.com The one and only, genuine Santa Claus is being auctioned at www.charityfolks.com to benefit Santa's Bless the Children Tour.
Santa Claus is his legal name. He is an advocate for 1 million children who are abused, neglected, or exploited and another 1 million children who are homeless, abandoned, or institutionalized -- this year in the United States.
Incline Village, NV (PRWeb) December 6, 2006 -- The one and only, genuine Santa Claus will spend December 24th with the highest bidder in a special auction hosted by http://www.charityfolks.com/. With bidding starting at just $1, everyone will have the opportunity to participate.
Santa Claus is his legal name, and he's a priest and monk as St. Nicholas was many centuries ago. He lives at Lake Tahoe and has the requisite twinkle in his eyes, spirit of giving, naturally white beard, belly, glasses, red suspenders, and loving heart.
Santa Claus has completed 2/3 of Santa's Bless the Children Tour, traveling more than 15,000 miles throughout the United States for six months visiting federal and state legislators and their staffs in 33 states, advocating for children throughout the United States and visiting as many children in dire circumstances as he can along the way.
According to the US Census Bureau, there are more than 74 million children under the age of 18 in the United States. Of that figure, 1 million are abused, neglected, or exploited; and another 1 million are abandoned, homeless, or institutionalized. The numbers increase every year. Right now, that's 1 out of every 37 children in the United States. Santa Claus is an advocate for these children, especially wards of the states.
Santa's Bless the Children Tour is a unique, national outreach ministry of St. Patrick's Episcopal Church at Lake Tahoe, designed to improve the lives of millions of children in the United States.
a publication of The Center for American Progress Action Fund
At a recent private reception, President Bush asked Sen.-elect Jim Webb (D-VA), "How's your boy?" referring to Webb's son Jimmy, who is serving in Iraq. Webb answered, "I'd like to get them out of Iraq, Mr. President," to which Bush responded, "That's not what I asked you." Webb "coldly" shot back, "That's between me and my boy, Mr. President." Webb later confessed that he was "tempted to slug" Bush.
"A December 7 summit at Riyadh may be the first venue for the Bush administration to negotiate directly with Iran and Syria in an effort to reduce the bloodshed in Iraq," the New York Sun speculates.
New York Times executive editor Bill Keller announced in a statement yesterday that "Times correspondents may describe the conflict in Iraq as a civil war when they and their editors believe it is appropriate." Keller added, "We expect to use the phrase sparingly and carefully, not to the exclusion of other formulations, not for dramatic effect."
"About $2 billion worth of Army and Marine Corps equipment -- from rifles to tanks -- is wearing out or being destroyed every month in Iraq and Afghanistan," USA Today reports. "The wear and tear may lead to future equipment shortages and cutbacks in more advanced weapons."
Iraq's parliament yesterday voted to keep the country under a state of emergency for 30 more days. A U.S. military spokesman told reporters that he expects to see "'elevated levels of violence' as a result of the car bombings that killed more than 200 people in Sadr City, a Shiite district in northeast Baghdad."
The world will "fall 5 million short" of their goal to provide universal access to AIDS medicines for 9.8 million AIDS/HIV patients by 2010, according to a report by the International Treatment Preparedness Coalition. "The rhetoric from public health officials is good, but the follow-through is abysmal," said one official.
Incoming Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) promised to do away with the Do-Nothing Congress by putting in "some hours here that haven't been put in in a long time." That means "being here more days in the week and we start off this year with seven weeks without a break. That hasn't been done in many, many years here."
SAN FRANCISCO, Nov 28 (OneWorld) - Rural communities are experiencing a disproportionate amount of U.S. military deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to a new study by the Carsey Institute, a think tank at the University of New Hampshire.
"The mortality rate for soldiers from rural America is about 60 percent higher than the mortality rate for soldiers from metropolitan areas," the Institute's William O'Hare told OneWorld.
According to the study, 825 of the first 3,095 Americans killed in Iraq and Afghanistan--or 27 percent--came from rural America, even though rural areas account for only 19 percent of the U.S. population.
Soldiers from rural Vermont have the highest death rate in the nation, followed by Delaware, South Dakota, and Arizona.
Dee Davis, president of the Kentucky-based Center for Rural Strategies, told OneWorld that U.S. military efforts overseas are increasingly hitting home in America's heartland.
"This year we did polling around the election in contested Congressional races," he said, "and what we found was that 75 percent of rural voters knew somebody who had been to Iraq or Afghanistan." "In small towns and rural communities the war is not an abstraction," he added. "You have a visceral idea of what this war means. So many police and firefighters are also members of the National Guard."
Davis said patriotism is one factor leading to increased military service in rural America, but added that the dearth of non-military job opportunities is also important.
The Carsey Institute's O'Hare, who helped conduct the study, agrees.
"A lot of people don't know that a higher percentage of the rural workforce is in manufacturing than the urban workforce.
The Bush administration pleased farmers and frustrated environmentalists Monday by declaring that pesticides can be sprayed into and over waters without first obtaining special permits.
The heavily lobbied decision is supposed to settle a dispute that's roiled federal courts and divided state regulators. It's popular among those who spray pesticides for a living, but it worries those who fear poisoned waters will result.
"We need to act fast to stop mosquitoes when they are found," argued Jim Tassano, a pest-control operator in the California foothills town of Sonora. It is far cheaper and much more effective to kill them as larvae ... if a permit is required, the costs would skyrocket."
Tassano was one of hundreds to weigh in over the past three years as the Environmental Protection Agency mulled its options. His sentiments were shared by California's Merced and Tulare mosquito control districts, the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and the Washington State Potato Commission.
"Requiring (federal) permitting would unnecessarily disrupt the effectiveness of (pest) control operations and adversely impact hundreds of business," the South Carolina Aquatic Plant Management Society warned.
The EPA decision gave the pest operators what they wanted. It also closely parsed the English language for what the all-important word "pollutant" means.
EPA officials concluded that a pesticide, when it's deliberately applied, isn't a "pollutant" under the terms of the 1972 Clean Water Act.
Environmentalists, though, note that mosquito-killing chemicals can also poison shrimp, frogs and other aquatic innocents.
"Pesticides are intended to kill living organisms, something that most would consider an adverse effect on the environment," noted Janette K. Brimmer, legal director for the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy.
'Light A Million Candles' is a campaign to raise awareness of the problem of online child pornography. The goal is to gather as many signatures in a virtual petition to challenge financial institutions, governments, payment organisations, Internet service providers, technology companies and law enforcement agencies to work together to eradicate the commercial viability of child pornography by 2008.
The campaign was launched two months with the objective of lighting the first million candles in less than four months. Thanks to worldwide support, this was achieved in less than 60 days.
Today, over 1,200,000 candles have been lit and the campaign continues to gain momentum.
Who is behind this?
'Light A Million Candles' was developed by a group of volunteers in Singapore led by Standard Chartered Bank, in support of the work of the Financial Coalition Against Child Pornography.
Twenty-three of the world's most prominent financial institutions and Internet industry leaders joined with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) and its sister organisation, the International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children (ICMEC) in the fight against Internet child pornography. The Financial Coalition Against Child Pornography includes leading banks, credit card companies, third party payment companies and Internet services companies.
What More Can You Do?
You can help by further raising awareness in your country of this problem. Tell your friends, relatives and colleagues to light a candle.
If members of the public have knowledge of a child pornography website they are encouraged to report it immediately to the CyberTipline managed by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (www.cybertipline.com 1-800-843-5678). Citizens outside the United States can call the CyberTipline or can contact any number of hotlines around the world.
To learn more about these hotlines, visit the website of the International Association of Internet Hotline (INHOPE) at www.inhope.org.
This is about fistulas‚ and rape, which in Congo has become the continuation of war by other means. Fistulas are a kind of damage that is seldom seen in the developed world. Many obstetricians have encountered the condition only in their medical texts, as a rare complication associated with difficult or abnormal childbirths: a rupture of the walls that separate the vagina and bladder or rectum.
Where health care is poor, particularly where trained doctors or midwives are not available, fistulas are more of a risk. In eastern Congo, however, the problem is practically an epidemic.
When a truce was declared in the war there in 2003, so many cases began showing up that Western medical experts at first called it impossible especially when local doctors declared that most of the fistulas they were seeing were the consequence of rapes.
"No one wanted to believe it at first," says Lyn Lusi, manager of the HEAL Africa hospital (formerly called the Docs Hospital) in the eastern Congo city of Goma. "When our doctors first published their results, in 2003, this was unheard of."
It had been no secret that nearly all sides in the Congo's complex civil war resorted to systematic rape among civilian populations, and estimates were as high as a quarter million victims of sexual assault during the four-year-long conflict. But once fighting died down, victims began coming out of the jungles and forests and their condition was worse than anyone had imagined.
Thousands of women had been raped so brutally that they had fistulas. They wandered into hospitals soaked in their own urine and feces, rendered incontinent by their injuries.
"Pastors would say to me, 'Jo, I can't preach because the church is too smelly," says Dr. Jo Lusi, a gynecologist and medical director at HEAL. "No one wanted to be around them. These women were outcasts even more than rape victims usually are.
They would say to me, 'Dr. Jo, am I just a thing to throw away when I smell bad?'
The rapes and new reports of fistula damage have not stopped. Even now, "It is still happening, even today," says HEAL's medical director, Doctor Lusi. "Every space we have in the hospital is very, very busy with people."
Most of the dozen or so militias in the country have signed on to peace terms, and their battles with each other and with the Congolese Army have mostly stopped since the arrival of United Nations peacekeepers. But many of the armed groups even those that have made peace continue to attack civilians, especially in rural areas.
"They won't go ahead and fight each other, [but] they attack that village that supports the other group," says Lyn Lusi.
"This is a horrible perpetual movement of militias. They join after their families are killed, sometimes right in front of them. They see their women raped, and then they go and do the same thing.
Ordinary rapes, even violent ones, do not usually cause fistulas, although it's not medically impossible. Doctors in eastern Congo say they have seen cases that resulted from gang rapes where large numbers of militiamen repeatedly forced themselves on the victim. But more often the damage is caused by the deliberate introduction of objects into the victim's vagina when the rape itself is over.
The objects might be sticks or pipes. In many cases the attackers shoot the victim in the vagina at point-blank range after they have finished raping her. "Often they'll do this carefully to make sure the woman does not die," says Dr. Denis Mukwege, medical director of Panzi Hospital.
"The perpetrators are trying to make the damage as bad as they can, to use it as a kind of weapon of war, a kind of terrorism." Instead of just killing the woman, she goes back to her village permanently and obviously marked.
"I think it's a strategy put in place by these groups to disrupt society, to make husbands flee, to terrorize."
The worst perpetrators call themselves the Federation for the Liberation of Rwanda. They were the Hutu militiamen also known as the Interhamwe who carried out the 1994 Rwandan genocide. That bloodbath ended when the Interhamwe were forced to retreat across Rwanda's western border into Congo, where they remain to this day, deep in the forests, armed, deadly and with nowhere else they can go.
But the tactic of violent rape is used by many of the other armed factions in the area, including the Congolese Army, according to relief workers and United Nations officials. "It has been used as a weapon of war for so long it's become almost a habit," says Ross Mountain, the U.N.'s humanitarian coordinator for the Congo.
"All sides are doing it, and the national army is by no means immune from that." "All the armed men rape," says Doctor Mukwege. "When we see a lesion, we can tell who the perpetrator is; there are special methods of each group, types of injuries.
The Interahamwe after the rape will introduce objects; a group in Kombo sets fire to the women's buttocks afterwards, or makes them sit on the coals of a fire.
There's another group that specializes in raping 11-, 12-, 13-, 14-year-old girls, one that gets them pregnant and aborts them."
The youngest victim of fistula from rape his hospital has seen was 12 months old; the oldest, 71.
Doctor Mukwege estimates that 80 percent of his hospital's fistula cases are the result of sexual violence, either directly from sexual assault or from rape-induced pregnancies that were forcibly aborted in the bush; the rest were normal obstetric complications.
The doctors have a hard time coping with the anguish they see every day. "I no longer question the women about what happened," says Doctor Mukwege. "It's hard to listen, it's very hard to see themóchildren without vaginas, without rectums, their bladders destroyed. The questions they ask. The girls say, 'Is it not possible for me to have children?' 'Why don't I have menses?' These are questions to which you cannot answer."
But those questions are relatively easy. The really difficult question is posed again and again by fistula patients like 20-year-old Bahati: Why? When she arrives to be interviewed in an examination room off the main fistula ward at Panzi, she is carrying a basin; which she keeps at her feet as she talks. Her fistula has left her incontinent. She and the other patients interviewed here were chosen to speak by a counselor who believed they could benefit from telling their stories.
Late one evening a group of Interhamwe gunmen raided her village in South Kivu, killed 10 of the men, and abducted 10 women and girls. She says she and the other captives were kept chained except when they were unbound to be gang-raped. She became pregnant after five months, and her captors gave her a crude abortion by shoving something into heróshe says she doesn't know what they used. Her doctors say the abortion probably caused the fistula. Eventually she escaped and found her way back to her home village after three days. At the Interhamwe camp, sometimes as many as 30 men would rape her, she recalls. Whenever she resisted, she was beaten. "I'll never understand why they could do that to me," she says.
No one can say why. The answer is almost too awful to consider, and impossible to understand
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