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Blogging Iraq’s Upcoming Elections

An innovative way to prepare for Iraqi elections:
purple finger.jpg
A new United Nations-supported blog site just launched in Baghdad is the latest initiative to engage voters in the nascent democracy and motivate them to go to the polls on 31 January 2009 during the country's provincial elections. The blog, called "Vote for Iraq" can be found on and was launched with the support of the UN-led International Election Assistance Team (IEAT).
Voters will just have to make sure not to get too much purple ink on their keyboards. (image of the dyed finger of an Iraqi voter in 2005 elections, from flickr user carcollectorz under a Creative Commons license)
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A Special Holiday Message from Nothing But Nets

Among all the holiday shopping deals, online and in stores, the one gift that never changes in price or impact is a $10 donation to send a bed net to protect children in Africa from malaria. The United Nations Foundation's grassroots campaign Nothing But Nets is always trying to send nets and save lives, but for this holiday season, the need for nets is more urgent than ever. The recent violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo has caused thousands of people to flee to neighboring Uganda and settle in refugee camps there. Already crowded camps and the current rainy season in Uganda means even more nets are needed every day for children and their families. As always, Send a net. Save a life. At NothingButNets, you can donate a net in someone's honor and send an eCard, or sign and print a card we've made especially for the holidays!

Nothing But Nets

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“Sergio” to Premier At Sundance

Congratulations to our friends at Chasing the Flame!
Great news from Utah: The Sundance Film Festival has selected the upcoming HBO documentary on Sergio's inspiring life and tragic death to be included in this year's documentary category. Directed by Greg Barker ("Ghosts of Rwanda") and produced by John Battsek ("One Day in September") and Julie Goldman ("Devil's Playground"), the film tells the inspirational story of Sergio Vieira de Mello, a UN legend who spent a lifetime in pursuit of security and dignity for the downtrodden. The film charts Sergio's extraordinary 34-year career, from his inspiring leadership in conflict zones from Africa to Southeast Asia to the Middle East, to that fateful day in August 2003. With testimony from a select handful of his closest associates, 'Sergio' is a story of hope and disappointment, success and tragedy.
Way to go! And while we are on the subject, congrats to Nick Kristoff who is also heading to Sundance. Along with War Child's DC premiere on Friday, this has been a great week for inspirational humanitarian films!
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Thinking of Refugees this Thanksgiving

For those of us in the United States, Thanksgiving is a time for reuniting with family over an enormous feast. It is also a time to think of those less fortunate. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo right now, over 200,000 people have been recently uprooted from violence. Day to day survival is a struggle and a peace process so far is elusive. Fortunately, international organizations like the World Food Program and UNICEF are fighting to keep up with humanitarian demands. It is an uphill struggle, but without their involvement the situation would be much, much worse. If you are looking for ways to help, the World Food Program's Fill the Cup campaign is a good way to get involved.
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The Wall Against Hunger

A great initiative (and good use of technology):
The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today called for people from all walks of life to join its online "virtual wall" to fight hunger, an initiative that will provide free meals for nearly 60 million children worldwide who go to school hungry. For a small donation "The Wall Against Hunger" allows individuals to post their picture on a website - which several celebrities and sports personalities have already pledged to join - and email their wall images to friends as well as bookmark them to their social networking websites.
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Trick-or-Treat For UNICEF

Over on Huffington Post Harold Pollack gets into the Halloween spirit.
We must be equally jazzed about bringing the world's children basic sanitation, nutrition, and who knows: maybe a few reading lessons. Seven dollars protects a kid against malaria--not to mention the itchy bites. Fifteen dollars buys a carton of high energy protein biscuits--not the crud people hawk on cable TV--the kind that supports three severely malnourished kids for a whole month. Twenty dollars vaccinates nine kids against polio. To quote PBS, Forty-five hundred thousand dollars.... well, you get the picture. Last time around, many economists donated through this post, because they realized that UNICEF and related charities are among the most cost-effective strategies to improve the world. To donate, click on my tacky personal donation web page If that's too tacky for you, the UN foundation's website is cool, too: PS: Your kids might like this fun time-wasting flash link.
And for the uninitiated, this is the kind of life-saving work that UNICEF does.