Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Iraqi athletes allowed to play

An update on my post last week. The Olympic commitee has reversed its ban on the Iraqi national team and has allowed all the athletes to participate. This is very encouraging to hear and if you have followed the story closely you know that this was the right call.

Good luck Iraq!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Hate or Compassion?

This is Jose Gonzalez. This is a great song that will make you think.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

I thought the Olympics games weren't political

The BBC recently reported that Iraqi athletes will not be allowed to compete in the Beijing Olympic Games. Check this out:

"Athletes from Iraq have been banned from taking part at this summer's Beijing Games, the International Olympic Committee has announced.
The team was already the subject of an interim ban after the Iraqi government replaced the country's Olympic committee with its own appointees.

Under the IOC charter, all committees must be free of political influence.

As a result the team of two rowers, two sprinters, one archer, one weightlifter and one judo competitor cannot attend.

"The deadline for taking up places for Beijing for all sports except athletics has now passed," said IOC spokeswoman Giselle Davies.

"The IOC very sadly has now to acknowledge that it is likely there will be no Iraqi presence at the Beijing Olympic Games, despite our best efforts."

She added: "Clearly, we'd very much like to have seen Iraq's athletes in Beijing.
"We are very disappointed that the athletes have been so ill-served by their own government's actions."

Hussein al-Amidi, the general secretary of the Iraqi Olympic Committee, said: "This morning we were informed of the final decision of the International Olympic Committee to suspend the membership of the Iraqi Olympic Committee.

"It's a final decision, there is no way to appeal. This means that Iraq will not take part in the coming Olympic games.

"It is a blow to Iraq and its international reputation, its athletes and its youth.
"I swear those athletes who have been training - they phoned me today and they were crying and were very upset."

BBC Radio 5 Live sports news correspondent Gordon Farquhar added: "The four Iraqi athletes that qualified could have competed under the Olympic flag but the deadline for confirmation of places has passed."

The committee which the government dismissed was elected in 2004, in line with the Olympic movement's regulations.

Its chairman, Ahmad al-Samarra'i, and several other members were abducted by gunmen while attending a meeting in central Baghdad in July 2006.
They have not been seen since.

The Iraqi government said it took the move because the committee was corrupt and had not been functioning properly."

This does not seem right to me at all. The fact that the committee made the decision this late in the game is ridiculous, and now they have no chance to compete...whether for Iraq or individually. The funny thing is during this whole year leading up to this year’s Olympics, head members of the Olympic committee have been preaching how this event is not a political one. (This was due to the international scrutiny over China's human rights violations). So if this is not political, I guess I'm still having a hard time figuring out why the Iraqi athletes will not be allowed to compete.

Monday, July 14, 2008

U.N makes steps toward justice in Sudan, but much more work looms ahead.

For all those who have followed the constant inactivity of the United Nations in relation to genocidal acts committed by hateful rĂ©gimes such as genocide perpetrators in Rwanda, Bosnia, Congo, Sierra Leon, Ethiopia, Sudan and Burma, this week’s news of action being taken against Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir should come as welcome news.

The International Criminal Court, which was which is indirectly related to the UN, called the decision one that basically has to be done, and leading prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said that:

"I am a prosecutor doing a judicial case," he said. "In the camps, al-Bashir's forces kill the men and rape the women. He wants to end the history of the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa people. I don't have the luxury to look away. I have evidence."

Comments by Save Darfur President Jerry Fowler sum up the emotions and mixed relief based upon the ICC and UN's Monday decision:

"Prosecutor Moreno-Ocampo's charges against al-Bashir underscore the need for the U.N. Security Council to finally act decisively with a comprehensive strategy for Sudan," said Jerry Fowler, president of the Save Darfur Coalition." (From Associated Press)

For me personally there is definitely an emotion of relief due to the fact that Darfur has been a constant subject in mine as well as many others' prayers in the past few years. The reality of this decision is that there is a long way to go till absolute justice is brought to those suffering in Darfur and various other areas in Sudan. There will probably be a lot more death's to come, probably due to the ruling parties retaliation to the ICC's charges. Aide will be cut off due to the statement made in Khartoum by official’s stating that they "cannot guarantee the safety of UN workers".

Continue to pray for justice to be brought to these people.

In 2004, a top United Nations official in Khartoum, Mukesh Kapilla, courageously compared the butchery in Darfur to the organized slaughter of 800,000 Rwandans 10 years earlier. He said: "I was present in Rwanda at the time of the genocide, and I've seen many other situations around the world, and I am totally shocked at what is going on in Darfur," he told a BBC radio program. "This is ethnic cleansing; this is the world’s greatest humanitarian crisis, and I don't know why the world isn't doing more about it." (Excerpt taken from "Not On Our Watch: The mission to end genocide in Darfur and beyond.")

So many times when these types of things have happened the world has looked away. This time pray that we wouldn't shield our eyes. Pray that we would not just talk about justice but actually stand for it.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Movement of ja' people

One the early highlights’ of my week so far has been my completion of the book of Genesis. Around a year ago I made it my goal to start reading through the Bible starting from the beginning; it was an idea that was inspired by my time and India as well as my host to India, Dr. Thom Wolfe. I had started and before long I had gotten off track and I decided to leave the project off till later. Though I feel relieved that I've completed the first leg of my journey, more importantly I've loved what I have learned so far.

Though we often recall the stories of old through what we've been told in Sunday school or in classes its awesome to begin to see history unfold from the beginning, when God spoke the heavens and the earth into place progressing into Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Its incredible already in my reading observing the love and faithfulness God has for his people.

One of the things that got my attention just the other day was this comment made by Joseph to his fearful brothers (who had betrayed and treated him cruel in his youth by selling him to traders traveling to Egypt). In Genesis 50:19-20:

"But Joseph said to them,” Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today."

This verse really struck me. How God was able to take the evil deeds of man and turn it into something glorious. Its not that this was new to me by any means, but rather I began to think about our world today and how we might see such events after evil has been done. I was convicted on how broad my prayers can become. I started to think of how my prayers could be more strategic in praying for certain area's of the world that experience evil day in and day out for years after looking at the verse. And I still am thinking at this moment. I think of how this verse might help us in rejoicing in our sufferings, as I've been learning about and discussing at church, I don't know. For some reason this verse just jumped out there at me and questions started racing round my head. Tell me what you think...

Moving onto the first part of Exodus, kind of revolving around the same theme, I cam across another verse. Exodus 2:23-25:

"During those many days the king of Egypt died, and the people od Israel groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help. Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God. And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. God saw the people of Israel-and God knew."

I started thinking about the massive issues of our time socially. We have genocide in Sudan and Burma and probably in Congo. You have things like the caste-system and other class systems that oppress. We have yet even more slavery thousands of years later all over the world; some say more than double the amount of slaves during the Trans-Atlantic slave era. While thinking this verse gives me hope and kicks me in the butt to continue and pray, but more so, pray with full confidence that God knows and that God see's this. Again this isn't something that I didn't know already or that we don't know already. We look at this verse and we look at the story that follows it (God leads his people out of slavery into their own land). We see that God is just and brings to justice those caught in injustice. Not only should this motivate and move us to do the same (seeking justice for those live in injustice) but we should have the confidence when we pray that justice will be brought and for those of us whoever get the chance to work with people caught in injustice or do the injustice, this we can offer the people a hope that though we may not be able to physically change their situation, we can offer them the chance to know a God who hears and knows and saves.

I hope my thoughts are somewhat making sense.

Even though I spoke about these verses within a perspective relating to our world the verses also gives us so much hope within a personal perspective as well. I'm still thinking a lot still over these verses. They both were motivating and inspiring to me, maybe to you too. Again, let me know that you think on all this rambling...Oh, and if you can tell me where I got the title of the post from I'll give you a high 5.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Hang down your head and cry.

Well its not over yet but I'm preparing for the worst. My beloved Seattle Supersonics, the first team I ever remember following as a kid, could soon be on their way to the Sooner state, Oklahoma.

The whole thing is quite tragic really. If you haven't been following the events that lead up to this, here's out it basically played out. Two wealthy investors from Oklahoma City bought the Seattle Supersonics from former owner and CEO of Starbucks, Howard Schultz. In doing so they signed a contract promising to make every effort they could make toward keeping the team in Seattle. Not too long after, in which being fair to Clay Bennett (one of the current majority owners) they a couple times to pitch ideas of keeping the team in Seattle, which consisted of a multi-zillion dollar new stadium fully funded by tax payers who just spent zillions only a decade prior to rennovate the teams current arena, Key Arena. After the city declined such an idea, Clay and Co. announced they were taking the team to their hometown, OKC. Soon after reports surfaced that even before they bought the Sonics Clay and Co.'s intentions all along were to take the team to OKC once it was purchased.

In the end you have a team that has had incrediable fan support for 41 years leaving the city that loves it without any word or action taken by the NBA's commissioner only because the city had refused to let the NBA have full profit of all concessions and proposed high end seating the past few years. To commissioner David Stern and Clay Bennet 41 years is nothing, because in the end they wouldn't be able to make loads of money on top of the zillions of dollars they all ready have made.

Ok, I realize professional sports is way more a money making machine than just sporting leagues, but something's wrong with this picture. You have ravid fan support for around 41 years, you are the only city team to ever win a league championship, and in the end it all doesn't matter. Shame on you Daivd Stern.

I leave you with some shots from the past...

Parade in downtown Seattle after the Sonics won the 1979 NBA Championship

Shawn Kemp dunking over Dennis Rodman in the '96 Finals.

The Glove and Air Jordan jawin' at the '96 Finals.

Another classic Kemp shot. I love the shot of Jordan gazing up at "The Reignman".