The Common Good
November-December 1995

Resources for Renewal and Change

by Rachel Johnson | November-December 1995

BANKING ON LIFE AND DEBT

BANKING ON LIFE AND DEBT

Critics have called the policies of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) "a war on the poor." More than 90 percent of the Earth's population live in countries trapped in multibillion dollar loan repayment schemes, with terms dictated by the World Bank and IMF.

Maryknoll World Productions has produced a new video that explores how the policies of the World Bank and IMF have affected countries around the world. A documentary narrated by Martin Sheen, Banking on Life and Debt,
takes you to three continents. In Ghana, touted as a World Bank model of success, poor villagers cannot afford medicines. In Brazil, people eat from garbage dumps while crops are sold to pay off the world's largest foreign debt. A woman in the Philippines heads a grassroots coalition in the fight against paying the debts.

This 30-minute documentary presents the millions of children who are sacrificed for the sake of financial stability. To order this video ($14.95 each), contact: Maryknoll World Productions, P.O. Box 308, Maryknoll, NY 10545-0308; 1-800-227-8523.

TRUTH THAT SETS FREE

U.S.citizens and people of faith have been challenged to face the truth about the United States' role in the human rights tragedy in Central America during the past two decades. Revelations this year about the involvement of the CIA in human rights abuses in Guatemala and Honduras, and the extensive efforts to cover up this involvement, have become a focus of heated debate in Washington and in the media.

December 2, 1995, marks the 15th anniversary of the murder of four U.S. church women-Maura Clarke, Ita Ford, Dorothy Kazel, and Jean Donovan-in El Salvador. The United States trained and funded their killers, then shielded those who gave the orders to have them assassinated. The Religious Task Force on Central America believes that people of faith are called to live lives of truth and to change the values and priorities that have inspired this history of violence.

The Religious Task Force on Central America invites concerned groups and individuals to join them in a national commemoration program of reflection, consciousness-raising, and action to construct a new history based on solidarity and truth. They have created organizing packets that include an outline for a religious service; a script for a play based on John 8:31-47 and texts of letters and interviews with the four women who were killed, administration officials, and others; a background paper with major revelations of recent years about the role of the United States in the region and suggestions for action; graphics; and more.

To order organizing packets ($5 each) and to find out more about becoming involved in the commemoration program, contact: Religious Task Force on Central America, 1747 Connecticut Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20009-1108; (202) 387-7652.

BEYOND THE NEWS

New York recently reinstated the death penalty while Iowa turned it down. A new video from Mennonite Media Productions, Beyond the News: Murder Close Up
, explores how Christians are dealing with violence when it happens in their own family.

The 35-minute video features interviews with victims of violence and their family members, such as Sue Zann Bosler, who was left with a head injury when an attacker also stabbed and killed her father. Bosler has forgiven the killer and is working to stop the death penalty. Others in the video include Bill Pelke, grandson of a woman murdered by teen-age girls; Marietta Jaeger, whose daughter was kidnapped and murdered; Bernice King, daughter of Martin Luther King Jr.; Howard Zehr, consultant on criminal justice issues; and Sister Helen Prejean, a spokesperson against the death penalty.

The video is a useful tool for faith and community groups to aid in discussions about forgiveness and the death penalty. To order a copy of the video ($24.95 each), contact: Mennonite Media Productions, 1251 Virginia Ave., Harrisonburg, VA 22801; 1-800-999-3534.

MONEY AND POLITICS

What can you do about money in politics? Money talks on Capitol Hill and in your own state capitol and city hall. You've seen how it affects your family, your community, your state, your country. You know it is time to do something about it. But where do you start?

The Center for Responsive Politics, a non-partisan research group specializing in the study of the role money plays in congressional elections and actions, can provide some leads. The center works to create a more involved citizenry and a more responsive Congress. It also follows activities of the campaign finance regulatory system, holds seminars and workshops for issue activists and journalists, and offers training on how to do research.

Among the resources available from the Center for Responsive Politics is their bimonthly newsletter, Capital Eye.
It is devoted to tracking news and views on campaign financing. The center publishes many reference books (see p. 54). The latest, The Price of Admission: Campaign Spending in the 1994 Elections,
by Larry Makinson, is designed to unravel the political and economic dynamics behind the 1994 elections and also to identify the financial bedfellows of the 104th Congress.

Many of the center's resources are available through the Money and Politics News Service, gopher.crp.org;port5050. To find out more, contact: Center for Responsive Politics, 1320 19th St. NW, Suite 700, Washington, DC 20036; (202) 857-0044.

Compiled by Rachel Johnson former news assistant intern.

 

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