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Fall 2009 Newsletter

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					                                  C e n t r a l Pe n n l v a n i a C h a p t e r

                               Refugee Forum
On August 15, UNA of Central PA members were treated to an outstanding forum on refugees,
                                                                                                                Fall
                                                                                                                2009
co-sponosored with Church World Service. President George Bergey introduced the panel, ex-
plaining the global component of the problem requiring a global cooperative response. Just as
global climate change must be addressed by all or most countries together, a solution to the fate
of displaced persons needs international help.
Sheila McGeehan, Director of Church World Service in Lancaster started by describing a refugee
as a person who has been forced to flee his home and seek a safe place to live in another coun-
try. Our own country accepts refugees in numbers determined by the president, a ceiling of
80,000 in 2008-9. It used to be 125,000 and frequently these numbers are not met. The gov-                      Board of Directors
ernment decrees who gets to interview to come in. We prioritize based on a referral by the                • George Bergey, President
United Nations High Commission on Refugees or US embassy, a humanitarian concern of the US or
having an immediate family relative here.                                                                 • Marie McAndrews, Vice
                                                                                                            President
How does on become a refugee to the US? You apply and then wait, some times for long peri-
ods, trying to gather your documentation, proof of birth, etc. This is often difficult as you have        • Lloyd Arnold, Treasurer
fled for your life from your home often without time or the means to gather them. If our response         • Dr. Clem Gilpin, Secretary
is "no", your options are to return to your native country, which is often out of the question, to stay
in a second country or to apply to another country. If you are allowed to enter the US and have           • Mark Dunmire, Newsletter
no relatives here, you need a sponsoring agency to facilitate your resettlement.                            Editor and Website Manager

Our next speaker, Reverend Kerry Leppler, represented just such an agency. His church, First              • Dr. Elias George
United Methodist of Lancaster sponsored a Muslim family and told us of how rich the experience            • Rev. Mary Alice Butkovsky
was for his congregation. A team was formed to meet the family's medical, employment, school
and housing needs. A lifetime relationship was built, sharing all the events that happen: birth-          • Erick Hoffman
days, weddings, new births and deaths.
Dr. Elias George, who sits on the board of our UNA Chapter, spoke of his own immigrant experi-
ence. His was a Palestinian family. In 1948, at age six, he was taken to Jordan. In Amman, they                 Inside this issue:
went to the Greek Orthodox church and were allowed to live on land that the church owned that
was set aside for Christian families, beside the camp. His father and brother were builders and
they constructed a simple shack to live in for the next six years. During this time the help of the       Refugee Forum                  1
church and the UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency) was invaluable, providing
flour, rice, dates, soap and small, but treasured gifts for the children. Dr. George told us of his       President Obama Address        2-3
joy and gratitude for these gifts and what they meant to people who had lost everything.                  to United Nastions
Reverend Robert Hannum of the United Methodist Church has been an eyewitness to the Palestin-             Climate Change Summitt         3-4
ian refugee camps administered by UNRWA. Every other year, starting in 1981, he has gone
there, trying to bring encouragement to both Palestinians and Israelis. Many Palestinians, forced
from their homes, have gone to Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Egyptian Gaza and Jordanian West
Bank. They lived in tents through winter rains, nine camps in Gaza, twenty-seven in West Bank
and one in Jerusalem. UNRWA organized clinics to provide basic medical needs, but there is
only one doctor to 23,000 people. These clinics close at 2 PM, leaving people on their own to
get to hospitals. Some die in Israeli checkpoints. Reverend Hannum speculated on what fate
awaits these refugees. Most of their homes and lands have been taken, making it impossible to
go home again.
Many thanks are due to the panelists, President Bergey and board member Mary Alice Butkofsky
for putting together the program and finding a lovely venue. Thanks to Lancaster Friends for the
use of their room.
                      Page 2


                        International Day of Peace

          Topic: “Establishing Peace and Harmony Among People:
              How Disaster Can Be a Cause of Bringing Out
                      Nobility and Mindfulness to People”

              Speaker: Dr. Bobby Etemad, Gastroenterologist

He was a chairman of the department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at Chester
Clinic Foundation for six years. He is currently the medical director of “Endoscopy for
               the Mainline Health System in the Philadelphia region.

Dr. Etemad will share his experiences and observation when he was living and serving in
New Orleans during the Katrina disaster. His experiences in the medical community will
show us the power of unity and how the human spirit finds greatness during the time of
                                   great struggle.


                                The event will be held at:
                                 The International House
                                   318 Chestnut Street
                                  In downtown Harrisburg
                               On Sunday, October 25, 2009
                                     3:00 to 5:00 P.M.


                   This interactive program is open for all to attend.
                      For further information, call 717-232-9163
Fall                                                                                                            Page 3

The week of September 21 – 25 marked an opening session of the United Nations that had more global im-
peratives than any within my memory. These opening General Assembly sessions are often marked by high
rhetoric and this was no exception. However, they were accompanied by immediate and direct turns of events
that brought all of these issues into focus. In the articles that follow we will try to highlight the significance of
the issues which were brought before the body. - - - George Bergey


       President Obama’s First Address to the General Assembly
In his opening address to the United Na-                                   other nations are not willing to accept
tions General Assembly, Barack Obama                                       that same responsibility. He had al-
emphasized two themes that have come                                       ready addressed that issue in the Cli-
to mark his presidency, both domestically                                  mate Change Summit on the previous
and in foreign affairs. They are:                                          day. This will be covered in a separate
We are now living in a pivotal time of                                     article.
     human history, where our greatest                                      A nuclear weapons-free world: the
     challenges are global in nature; and                                  president reaffirmed his commitment to
These challenges must be met through                                       achieve a nuclear weapons-free world,
     international cooperation to achieve                                  even though the process would extend
     mutually beneficial goals                                             beyond his presidency. The first step
     (multilateralism).                                                    had already begun to take shape in
                                                                           Moscow where Russia and the U. S.
Toward that end, he noted that in his ad-                                  “announced that they would pursue sub-
ministration he had reversed the course of previous             stantial reductions in strategic warheads and
years by ordering an end to torture and the closing of          launchers. At the Conference on Disarmament we
the Guantanamo Bay detention camp. In addition, he              had agreed on a work plan to negotiate an end
said that we had begun the process of ending the Iraq           to the production of fissile materials for nuclear
war, promising the withdrawal of all U. S. military             weapons. And this week, my Secretary of State
forces by the end of 2011.                                      will become the first senior American representa-
     Furthermore, he said that the U. S. had taken steps        tive to the annual Members Conference of the
to reaffirm its commitment to the United Nations. First,        Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.” He announced
we had resumed our membership on the Human Rights               that he would move ahead with efforts seeking the
Council. Secondly, we had finally made good on our              ratification of the Test Ban Treaty by the U. S.
dues payments to the UN, including outstanding                  Senate. Emphasizing the difficulty of the process,
amounts in arrears.                                             later that week Iran announced the existence of a
     The president then laid out our hopes in meeting           previously-secret site where nuclear enrichment is
the significant global issues which face us at this point       taking place. Direct negotiations with Iran were
in history. Restating his theme, he noted that the              scheduled to begin at the beginning of October.
United States could take the lead in meeting these              Highlighted in those talks now will be the demand
challenges, but that real achievement could only be             that Iran open that site and others for inspection
had through the cooperative efforts of all of nations.          by the IAEA. So it is not only the U. S. and Russia
As he put it, “This cannot be just an American en-              that are involved in the first phase of nuclear dis-
deavor – it requires a new era of engagement. This              armament, but the necessity for other nations to
is an era in which our destinies are shared and ex-             renounce the development of nuclear weapons
                                                                programs. In other actions there was agreement
ercise of sheer power is not a satisfactory answer.”
                                                                to upgrade the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty,
     He then highlighted a number of the major chal-            making it harder to withdraw from the treaty and
lenges that required such constructive efforts.                 to add more conditions to affirm the right for
Climate change: whatever one nation does to reduce              peaceful development of nuclear energy.
     its greenhouse gas emissions, it will mean little, if                                  (Continued on Page 4…)
Page 4

President Obama’s First Address to the General Assembly, continued from Page 2
A comprehensive Middle East peace: in his Cairo              ica does not accept the legitimacy of continued
   speech earlier in the year, the president had             Israel settlements.”
   made a serious effort to find an acceptable mid-       The global economic crisis: the role of the United Na-
   dle ground acknowledging the validity of the              tions is often just to act as a sounding board for
   grievances of both sides in the dispute over the          the positions of many nations, both large and
   occupation. Here the president noted his                  small. On this and other issues it is the small na-
   “appointment of a Special Envoy for Middle East           tions which suffer most from the irresponsible ac-
   Peace to seek a two-state solution – Israel and           tions of the more powerful. It emphasized the ne-
   Palestine – in which peace and security take root,        cessity for upholding our responsibilities for the
   and the rights of both Israelis and Palestinians are      achievement of the United Nations Millennium De-
   respected.” However, on the key issue of                  velopment Goals. But the hard work must be done
   ‘settlements,’ an immediate roadblock had al-             by member states themselves. In this instance, that
   ready appeared. In private meetings ‘off-stage’           same weekend the G20 nations met to try to come
   Benjamin Netanyahu had stated that he would not           to agreement on solving the current economic crisis.
   implement a ‘freeze’ on settlement construction.          Each nation must act on its own to stem the tide of
   This had been one of the conditions for the begin-        financial practices which led to the crisis. They
   ning of meaningful negotiations. That condition           may each take different actions, but seek the
   was dropped in order to start those negotiations          same goal of setting some meaningful standards
   with a constructive approach to key issues needed         for financial behavior and practice. Such is the
   for the creation of two states. Nonetheless, he           way of the world.
   stated that “we continue to emphasize that Amer-


                       The Climate Change Summit at the UN
                                               (Text on next page)




                                                                      Floods in Brunswick, Georgia

          Floods in Queensland, Australia
Fall                                                                                                          Page 5



                The Climate Change Summit at the UN
On the page opposite are two scenes of flooding            make enormous strides toward clean energy, but
from opposite sides of the world.                          would prefer not to observe what he considers an ar-
The Georgia flood (right photo) was unusual in that it     bitrary time deadline. In fact, China has come a very
followed a period of severe drought in the Southeast       long way in adapting to solar energy, in particular, in
United States.                                             meeting the energy needs of 1 billion people.
The Queensland flood (left photo) was also unusual in            Nonetheless, contrast this with the new Japanese
that it occurred in an area not known for such occur-      Prime Minister, Yukio Hatoyama. Giving prominence
rences.                                                    to his newly-elected government, he states that Japan
                                                           will reduce greenhouse emissions by 25% lower than
Are these evidences of the effects of climate change?      they were in 1990. 1990 was the date of the origi-
No, because no single instance can prove what is only      nal Rio de Janeiro Conference in which these princi-
a predicted trend, anymore than the hurricane season       pals were first set out. That agreement was signed by
that included Katrina and Rita would constitute a          President George H. W. Bush. Mr. Hatoyama would
proof of climate change.                                   accomplish this by 2020! Whether he can indeed ful-
However, these are the predicted consequences of an        fill this promise is open to question, but there is no de-
unchecked global warming. This would result in an          nying that this is a significant goal. The United States
increased desertification of previously arable parts of    only seeks a 17% reduction and even that refers to
the globe and a rise in sea levels that threaten the       the level from 2007.
existence of coastline populations.                              Speaking for middle-income nations, President
It is such considerations that prompted the Climate        Oscar Arias Sanchez of Costa Rica, put it this way in
Change Summit which was introduced in the UN on            placing an emphasis on national budgeting. “This is a
September 23. Speakers from many nations ex-               case of choosing life over destruction; it should take
pressed their views on this subject and at least stated    some reduction in military budgets to finance such cli-
their support for constructive efforts toward reducing     mate initiatives.” Costa Rica has an outstanding re-
greenhouse gas emissions.                                  cord in balancing land and forest management in
  Speaking for the United States, President Obama          achieving its climate objectives.
did not have a strong base from which to claim any               It took Nicolas Sarkozy, President of France,
direct solution to this problem. Economic considera-       speaking for the upper-income nations, to enter a note
tions always take precedent in the balancing act of        of realism. He became the ‘scold’ of the group, say-
alternative measures. While we are committed to the        ing that this was not the time for political gamesman-
use of alternative energy resources, only wind power       ship, but to recognize that “climate change was a
and solar power have made any headway. The pros-           threat of the entire planet and the global community
pects for nuclear power, sequestration of emissions        must respond with real measures. Our current path is
from coal-burning electric plants, or the use of natural   a path of failure. Time is pressing. Time is not our
gas as a cleaner alternative must yet be resolved.         ally, but it will be our judge.”
The current cap-and-trade legislation is extraordinar-           All of this, of course is heading toward the confer-
ily weak in comparison to the efforts of many other        ence in Copenhagen in December where the proposals
nations. Even that has not yet passed the Senate as of     for renewing and upgrading the Kyoto Protocol will
this writing.                                              occur. The United States never ratified the Kyoto
      Compare this with the speeches of other nations      agreement, although President Clinton had originally
and the relative progress toward these global initia-      signed it after concessions were made for the United
tives. President Hu of China has established the same      States.
posture as the United States in that he has promised to

				
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