Humanists for Social Justice and Environmental Action supports Human Rights, Social and Economic Justice, Environmental Activism and Planetary Ethics in North America & Globally, with particular reference to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other Human Rights UN treaties and conventions listed above.

Sunday

Women's rights under assault: UN

Women's rights under assault: UN, Agence France-Presse

Women's rights are under fresh assault worldwide, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned Monday as a two-week conference kicked off at the United Nations to take stock of the fight for gender equality.
President Donald Trump's "global gag rule" cutting US funding to groups that offer abortion services and Russia's decision to ease punishment for domestic violence are casting a long shadow on the annual gathering of the Commission on the Status of Women.
"Globally, women are suffering new assaults on their safety and dignity," Guterres told the opening session of the conference at UN headquarters in New York.
"Some governments are enacting laws that curtail women's freedoms. Others are rolling back legal protections against domestic violence."
Trump, who declared himself opposed to abortion during his campaign, signed a decree just days into his presidency barring US funding for foreign non-governmental groups if their work touches on abortion.
A few weeks later, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a bill that reduces penalties for domestic violence to a fine instead of a jail term, if the assault is a first offence and does not cause serious injury.
This year's gathering focuses on women's economic empowerment in the changing world of work, with attention turning to pay inequality and paid parental leave.
The United Nations has set a global goal of achieving gender equality by 2030. A recent study by the International Labour Organization warned that without stronger measures, it will take 70 years to close the gender wage gap.

Tuesday

UN Secretary-General's Message for International Women’s Day | UN Women

UN Secretary-General's Message for International Women’s Day | UN Women – Headquarters

UN Secretary-General's Message for International Women’s Day

Women’s rights are human rights. But in these troubled times, as our world becomes more unpredictable and chaotic, the rights of women and girls are being reduced, restricted and reversed.
Empowering women and girls is the only way to protect their rights and make sure they can realize their full potential.
Historic imbalances in power relations between men and women, exacerbated by growing inequalities within and between societies and countries, are leading to greater discrimination against women and girls. Around the world, tradition, cultural values and religion are being misused to curtail women’s rights, to entrench sexism and defend misogynistic practices.
Women’s legal rights, which have never been equal to men’s on any continent, are being eroded further. Women’s rights over their own bodies are questioned and undermined. Women are routinely targeted for intimidation and harassment in cyberspace and in real life. In the worst cases, extremists and terrorists build their ideologies around the subjugation of women and girls and single them out for sexual and gender-based violence, forced marriage and virtual enslavement.
Despite some improvements, leadership positions across the board are still held by men, and the economic gender gap is widening, thanks to outdated attitudes and entrenched male chauvinism. We must change this, by empowering women at all levels, enabling their voices to be heard and giving them control over their own lives and over the future of our world.
Denying the rights of women and girls is not only wrong in itself; it has a serious social and economic impact that holds us all back. Gender equality has a transformative effect that is essential to fully functioning communities, societies and economies.
Women’s access to education and health services has benefits for their families and communities that extend to future generations. An extra year in school can add up to 25 per cent to a girl’s future income.

UN experts denounce 'myth' pesticides are necessary to feed the world

UN experts denounce 'myth' pesticides are necessary to feed the world | Environment | The Guardian
The idea that pesticides are essential to feed a fast-growing global population is a myth, according to UN food and pollution experts.
new report, being presented to the UN human rights council on Wednesday, is severely critical of the global corporations that manufacture pesticides, accusing them of the “systematic denial of harms”, “aggressive, unethical marketing tactics” and heavy lobbying of governments which has “obstructed reforms and paralysed global pesticide restrictions”.
The report says pesticides have “catastrophic impacts on the environment, human health and society as a whole”, including an estimated 200,000 deaths a year from acute poisoning. Its authors said: “It is time to create a global process to transition toward safer and healthier food and agricultural production.”
The world’s population is set to grow from 7 billion today to 9 billion in 2050. The pesticide industry argues that its products – a market worth about $50bn (£41bn) a year and growing – are vital in protecting crops and ensuring sufficient food supplies.
“It is a myth,” said Hilal Elver, the UN’s special rapporteur on the right to food. “Using more pesticides is nothing to do with getting rid of hunger. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), we are able to feed 9 billion people today. Production is definitely increasing, but the problem is poverty, inequality and distribution.”
Elver said many of the pesticides are used on commodity crops, such as palm oil and soy, not the food needed by the world’s hungry people: “The corporations are not dealing with world hunger, they are dealing with more agricultural activity on large scales.”

Monday

NCSE and the March for Science | April 22, DC

NCSE and the March for Science | NCSE
NCSE is among the scientific, academic, and educational institutions endorsing the March for Science that will take place in Washington DC on April 22, 2017, with satellite marches planned in almost three hundred communities across the world. The goal of the march is to celebrate science and its crucial role in protecting the health of our communities, the safety of our families, the education of our children and the foundation of our economy and jobs. 
As NCSE's executive director Ann Reid explained in a March 6, 2017, blog post, "we believe that the marches will be a powerful and positive reminder that there is something that virtually everyone agrees on: the value and importance of science. ... While it is certainly true that Americans seem to be intractably divided over more issues than ever before, support for science is something that all of us share, and can continue to share."
Among the partners with the March for Science besides NCSE are the American Anthropological Association, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Geophysical Union,  the American Society for Cell Biology,the Entomological Society of America, Research America, Science Debate, Sigma Xi, and the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Friday

Stop your pension from building pipelines!

Stop your pension from building pipelines!
Last week Reuters revealed that U.S.-based pipeline company Kinder Morgan is approaching Canadian funders to raise money to triple the capacity of the Trans Mountain pipeline to 890,000 barrels a day. This would also quadruple the number of supertankers to more than 400 in B.C’s Burrard Inlet each year. One funder Kinder Morgan has approached is the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB).

If you work or have worked in Canada, you are a contributor to the Canada Pension Plan. You have a say in whether or not your pension funds are used to pay for risky pipeline projects that fuel climate change and endanger coastal waters.

This pipeline would be:
A risky investment. Globally, as the world transitions to a clean energy economy, investing in fossil fuel-based companies like Kinder Morgan becomes a liability. Oil giants Exxon and ConocoPhilips recently announced they are leaving a combined 4.7 billion barrels of tar sands reserves in the ground because they aren’t profitable enough to extract. Shell and Statoil are slowly divesting their tar sands assets.

A risk  to water and the climate. The Trans Mountain pipeline crosses 1,300 waterways. A pipeline spill in any of them would have devastating impacts. Building and expanding pipelines also moves us away from our Paris climate commitments. Building Kinder Morgan would singlehandedly add an estimate 28 megatons of CO2 equivalent downstream emissions.

A violation of  Indigenous rights. At least six West Coast Indigenous communities are suing the federal government because the Trans Mountain pipeline would threaten their livelihoods.

Even though the Trudeau government recently approved the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, many obstacles still remain, including Kinder Morgan’s need to secure investors for the $6.8 billion project.

Take  action! Tell the CPPIB you don’t want your pension fund invested in the Trans  Mountain pipeline.

Trump repeals Stream Protection Rule in the US, what's ahead for water protection in Canada? | The Council of Canadians

Trump repeals Stream Protection Rule in the US, what's ahead for water protection in Canada? | The Council of Canadians
President Donald Trump has now signed an order that repeals the Stream Protection Rule in the United States.
The rule had been intended to protect almost 10,000 kilometres of streams and 52,000 acres of forests in the US. It would have prohibited surface mining within 30 metres of streams. Bloomberg notes, "It was meant to stop the practice of dumping mining waste in streams and valleys during mountaintop mining."
In a recent opinion piece in the New York Times, Trout Unlimited president Chris Wood writes, "Over the past 20 years, mining operations have buried or degraded nearly 3,200 kilometres of streams in Appalachia. It goes without saying that cutting the tops off mountains and dumping them in streams is bad for fishing. It is also bad for anyone who cares about clean water."
Bloomberg notes, "Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky has led the opposition to the rule, calling it 'an attack against coal miners'. Others against it included the United Mine Workers of America and the National Mining Association, a Washington-based trade group representing companies such as Arch Coal Inc. and Peabody Energy Corp."
Trump stated, "In eliminating this rule I am continuing to keep my promise to the American people to get rid of wasteful regulations."
When Trump and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met in Washington earlier this week, they signed a Joint Statement that pledged, "We will continue our dialogue on regulatory issues and pursue shared regulatory outcomes that are business-friendly, reduce costs, and increase economic efficiency without compromising health, safety, and environmental standards."
The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) has already expressed concern about "any potential competitiveness imbalances" between Canada and the US. CAPP vice-president Ben Brunnen says, "We're keenly aware of the importance of a level playing field where investment can flow over the border quite freely."
And just days after Trudeau and Trump met in the White House, the Mining Association of Canada released a report citing regulatory delays and uncertainty as reasons mining investments could move outside the country.
The Council of Canadians has been calling on the prime ministert to restore and enhance the Navigable Waters Protection Act and the Fisheries Act, critical elements of water protection that had been gutted by the Harper government.
For example, the Fisheries Act allows the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to authorize deposits of deleterious substances into waterways if the “whole of the deposit is not acutely lethal to fish". The regulation defines “acutely lethal” as a deposit that kills more than 50 per cent of fish at 100 per cent concentration over a 96 hour period.
Despite their election campaign promise to restore and enhance this legislation, no substantive action has taken place in this regard.
We should all be concerned that Trudeau's pledge of regulatory cooperation with Trump along with corporate pressure within Canada will mean that lakes and rivers in Canada will continue to be under threat from abuse and pollution.

Tuesday

Shopify: Stop endorsing hate

Shopify: Stop endorsing hate
Together, people power has helped push over 900 companies to drop the ultra-ring wing Breitbart News (A.K.A Trump News).
The largest company left is the Canadian e-commerce company that runs Breitbart's online store. If we can force Shopify to ditch Breitbart, we'll be dealing a massive blow to Breitbart's ability to expand globally -- and could stop it in its tracks.
Sign the petition to Shopify: stop endorsing hate. End your relationship with Breitbart News now.
Shopify is a $1.9 billion dollar company with 325,000 online stores in 150 countries. It runs the online stores for lots of companies and brands you've heard of, like Budweiser, Red Bull, Tesla Motors, The Economist, and Herschel and many others.
The merchandise for sale in Breitbart's Shopify store tell migrant workers to “Get in line”, and boast about building a border wall, one of Trump’s key campaign policies.
These products aren't just offensive -- they're giving Breitbart revenue to fund its global expansion in time for crucial 2017 elections in Europe.

Monday

Denmark to co-host women's conference after Trump's anti-abortion move

Denmark to co-host women's conference after Trump's anti-abortion move - The Local
An international conference to raise money for charities providing access to safe abortion will be held in Brussels in March in response to President Donald Trump's gag on US funding, conference co-host Sweden said on Thursday.  Development aid ministers from Sweden, Denmark, Belgium, the Netherlands, as well as representatives from over 50 countries are expected to attend the "She Decides" conference on March 2.

Thursday

Eight Countries Join Global Fight Against Trump's Anti-Abortion Move |

Eight Countries Join Global Fight Against Trump's Anti-Abortion Move | Common Dreams | Breaking News
Eight countries have joined a fundraising effort to counter President Donald Trump's executive order last month that cuts off U.S. funding to global charities providing information about abortions.
Swedish Deputy Prime Minister Isabella Lovin told Reuters on Thursday that a conference kicking off the fundraising initiative is scheduled for March 2 in Brussels, with the aim of helping nongovernmental organizations that operate family planning projects.
Belgium, Canada, Cape Verde, Denmark, Finland, Luxembourg, and Sweden have joined the effort launched by the Netherlands in January after Trump announced the order reinstating the rule, formally known as the Mexico City Policy and often referred to as the "global gag rule."
The Netherlands warned the order could cause a shortfall of $600 million over the next four years.
"[The gag order] could be so dangerous for so many women," said Lovin, who gained attention this week for a photograph that showed her and seven other female officials signing an ambitious climate bill into law—which many saw as a pointed reference to images of Trump signing the anti-choice order while surrounded by male staffers.
"If women don't have control over their bodies and their own fate it can have very serious consequences for global goals of gender rights and global poverty eradication," Lovin said.
The global gag rule was first created in 1984 by then-President Ronald Reagan, and has been alternately lifted and reinstated by subsequent administrations, with Republicans keeping it in place and Democrats repealing it. Former President Barack Obama most recently did away with the ban in 2009.

Monday

Wed, Feb 8, 2017: Truth, Lies and Democracy

Wed,  Feb 8, 2017: Truth, Lies and Democracy

 Please join us for a free public lecture on February 8, 2017 from 7-9pm in Room UC 152 of University College (15 King’s College Circle, Toronto, ON M5S 3H7) at the University of Toronto’s St George campus:

Truth, Lies and Democracy: Journalism after Trump

by Olivia Ward
Olivia Ward is a foreign affairs reporter for The Toronto Star who has written on international affairs for over 16 years, beginning as the Star’s UN correspondent and reporting from countries around the globe. Olivia has led the Moscow and London bureaus for the Star and has reported from the former Soviet Union, South Asia, and the Middle East, and on conflict zones including Chechnya, Tajikistan, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan, Kosovo, Serbia, Iraq, and Israel and Palestine.
This event is part of a weekly series of talks entitled: Vital Discussions of Human Security . Please note that we will be using Room UC 152 for the remainder of the winter 2017 lecture series.
See www.scienceforpeace.ca/events for details on all of our upcoming events, and www.scienceforpeace.ca/videos for video recordings of past lectures.

Saturday

Yes, It's Time to Politicize Science | Psychology Today

Yes, It's Time to Politicize Science | Psychology Today

(David is the former pres. of the American Humanist Association)

With today’s post-truth politicians denying climate change, opposing the teaching of evolution, and even forcing doctors to relay misinformation about reproductive health, it’s no surprise that the idea of a March for Science—now scheduled for April 22 in Washington and other locations around the country—has rapidly gained momentum. The planned march can be seen as a direct response to the rampant anti-intellectualism that has gripped American political life.
But even as our jaws drop at the brazen disregard for truth in politics and government—with the White House silencing scientists one day and promoting “alternative facts” another—there is no unanimity, even among scientists, about rallying for science. In an op-ed this week in the New York Times, geologist Robert S. Young argues against the march, saying the event will only “increase polarization” and “trivialize and politicize the science we care so much about.”
What Young doesn’t seem to grasp is that political marches are often intended to polarize—marchers are challenging society to look anew at a particular issue, contending that there is a clear right and wrong that has been overlooked for too long. Whether the cause is civil rights, women’s equality, LGBT rights, or something else, public rallies and marches are intended to call attention to an issue and sway the weight of public opinion in one direction. The exercise is designed establish and assert moral authority, thus isolating those who are on the wrong side even to the point of shaming them. By calling our wrongheadedness and injustice, successful rallies and marches reshape public dialogue and effect change. They are the ultimate democratic tactic, gathering people in numbers to show that there is mass support for a righteous idea.
Young, however, sees such activity as no place for science and scientists. He worries that a science march will “turn scientists into another group caught up in the culture wars,” apparently oblivious to the fact that scientists have been casualties of the culture wars for years. And the results have been devastating, not just for science but for all of society. The United States is a nation that embraces the advancement of technology while simultaneously placing the scientific mindset—and the appreciation of rationalism and empiricism that are its foundation—far outside its core values....
To be sure, some degree of caution is important. As sensible people march for science they should bear in mind that nobody—and certainly no political party—owns science. Even those politicians at the front of the crowd should be seen as having the potential to misuse science for their own interests. Numerous forces—monetary, ideological, intellectual, and psychological—can corrupt the application of science to policymaking, and these forces require vigilant monitoring, meaning that facts and conclusions must be scrutinized regardless of who is backing them. Nobody gets a free pass, and as we apply science we must give serious consideration to our values.
Indeed, because science is ultimately amoral—it is inherently neither good nor evil, but only a tool for humans to use as they see fit—this might explain why there is some appeal to Young’s cry to keep scientists off the streets. Let scientists focus on the determining facts, the argument goes, and let society at large decide how to apply values to those facts. The problem with this argument is that we have a society, and a political leadership, that simply isn’t concerned about determining facts accurately. Large segments of society, particularly corporate and religious sectors, reach their opinions and conclusions first and then assert facts—true or not—later.

This explains so much of what is happening in America, from the false “debate” over climate change to the attacks on public education. And when society embraces anti-intellectualism at this level, it’s time to march.
Twitter: @ahadave

Friday

OHS Endorses the National Days of Action against Islamophobia and White Supremacy | Ontario Humanist Society

OHS Endorses the National Days of Action against Islamophobia and White Supremacy | Ontario Humanist Society

he Ontario Humanist Society supports the planned Days of Action. The following information is taken directly from:

https://www.facebook.com/events/407436779648169/

National Days of Action Against Islamophobia & Deportations
February 4-5, 2017

The war waged against Muslims and refugees worldwide has reached its
boiling point with Trump’s Presidency. These xenophobic, anti-Black,
Islamophobic, anti-refugee racist, sexist, homophobic and transphobic
policies have come to fruition. Walls and bans against Muslims and
Refugees on stolen Indigenous lands. We affirm our solidarity with
Indigenous nations whose lands we reside on.
Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya and Yemen. The geographies
of our birth place that put targets on our heads. Families separated,
refugees, asylum seekers and immigrants deported and detained, trapped
in between borders or taken back – our  communities are being terrorized by white supremacist violence and  domination. Our movement is confronted by racist white nationalism, our  lives are devastated in constant fear. We flee war, persecution, mass  poverty in search for life – instead we get a fatal sentence for our  faith.
Enough is Enough.
On January 29th, in Quebec City a group of Muslims were praying in a mosque at the Quebec Islamic Cultural Centre when one gunman came in and rang shots throughout this place of worship. Six have died, even more are injured. We mourn their lives. Last summer during the holy month of Ramadan, a pig’s head was left at the doorstep. The president of the cultural centre hoped the event was an isolated incident, and responded with nothing but love and respect to the Centre’s neighbours.
Colonial borders are imaginary constructs. The white supremacist hatred of Muslims and refugees from all intersections world wide is the colonizing force that fuels the identity and economy of America just as much as Canada. Trump’s power is extended to Trudeau’s. The institutional and systemic Islamophobic, anti-Black and racist policies that are killing us at the border, in the streets, in our homes, at work and in our mosques are one. We are under attack on all fronts, especially those of us who live in the intersections of Blackness and Muslimness and are Refugees who are the first to be silenced, ignored or forgotten
Not another life. Not another mass murder.
Our resistance does not stop here. Now more than ever we must organize. This is a national call to action to plan demonstrations in your cities, Canada wide. Join us, as we rise up!

TORONTO ACTION DETAILS
Date:Saturday, February 4 at
Time: 12:30 PM – 2:30 PM
Location: US Consulate

OTHER LOCATIONS:
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1awOa4tymbc-ZxNmv5AfknvR9KQl44Fty0ixFZ3XZqSk/edit