The Institute of Marriage and Family Canada recently released a report, Ottawa Long-Term Care Homes and the Arrival of the Baby Boomers, revealing “a local snapshot” of concerns about higher demands for care, more diverse care, and greater staffing needs amid funding constraints. The report recommends more nurses specializing in geriatrics, and encourages families and young people to regularly interact with seniors.
In an article in The Philadelphia Inquirer, Titus Peachey, director of peace education for Mennonite Central Committee, urged President Obama to sign land-mine and cluster-munitions treaties. The U.S. dropped 260 million cluster bombs in Laos from 1964–1973. Nearly half the arable land there is still littered with unexploded cluster munitions; an average of 300 Lao villagers are injured or killed by these weapons each year. In Dec. 2008, 94 countries signed a treaty to ban production, transfer, stockpile, and use of cluster munitions, but the U.S. has not yet done so.
A year after violent attacks against Christians broke out in India’s Orissa state in response to the assassination of Hindu leader Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati, state-run relief camps for victims have been shut down and trials begun. The government set up 2 fast-track courts in Kandhamal district to try the 831 cases filed. As of Sept. 30, 2009, only 24 people have been convicted, while 95 have been acquitted of charges, including murder and arson.
—Compass Direct News
On Sept. 1, “a flood disaster of epic proportions” devastated the capital region of Burkina Faso. Unusually heavy rains turned streets into canals and dissolved entire neighbourhoods of mud brick houses. The drainage infrastructure of Ouagadougou was not able to handle the sustained down-pour, which damaged 12 bridges, collapsed 5, and destroyed archives, documents, and millions of dollars of computer and medical equipment, reports Anne Garber Kompaore of Mennonite Church Canada Witness.
—Mennonite World Conference
Mennonite Church USA will move ahead Jan. 1, 2010, with its health care plan for pastors, called The Corinthian Plan. Project director Keith Harder expects 70 percent of the denomination’s eligible pastors to receive assistance with health care costs from the more than $500,000 Fair Balance Fund, generated by more than 450 participating congregations. “For many congregations, The Corinthian Plan is seen as a means to practice mutual aid and work for greater justice,” says Harder.
Mennonite World Conference offices and staffing are being reshaped in accordance with Program Plan 2009–2010, approved by the General Council in July, to shift more administrative capacity to the Global South. The office in Kitchener, Ont., will become MWC’s North American headquarters, headed by Albert C. Lobe, North America representative, who will also coordinate Global Church Sharing Fund resources. The Fresno office of MWC will close at the end of 2009 when Pakisa Tshmika completes his service as associate general secretary.
Mennonite Central Committee is appealing for $100,000 to assist people in Asia affected by earthquakes and flooding. The United Nations reported 1,100 people dead after 2 earthquakes struck Sumatra in Indonesia Sept. 30 and Oct. 1. Earlier in the week, Typhoon Ketsana caused widespread flooding and mudslides in the Philippines, and battered Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos with heavy rains and strong winds. Funds will be used to provide shelter, food, and other emergency supplies in Indonesia and the Philippines, and to meet longer-term recovery needs in Vietnam.
Bill C-268, which would amend the Criminal Code to impose minimum 5-year sentences on those convicted of trafficking children under 18, passed in the House of Commons by a vote of 239-46. The last major hurdle to it becoming law is Senate approval. Winnipeg Conservative MP Joy Smith, the bill’s sponsor, urges the Senate to pass the bill before the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Organizers of the event, worried the Games will result in an influx of child “sex slaves,” see the bill as a strong deterrent to such criminal activity.
Citing reliable government sources, China Aid Association reported the central government, on Sept. 26-27, ordered officials to prepare to use military force against Christians who might react to the Sept. 13 attack on the Fushan Church branch congregation in Linfen city, Shanxi Province. Some 400 uniformed police and civilians bearing shovels, bricks, and other weapons beat church members who were sleeping in a licensed factory building used as a worship site. On Sept. 25, officers of the Public Security Bureau detained 9 Fushan Church leaders on their way to Beijing to protest the attack, and the next day authorities placed state military police inside and around the main Fushan Church building in Linfen city.
—Compass Direct News