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.

Friday

NEWS: UNICEF Statement on Omar Khadr

UNICEF Statement by UNICEF Executive Director, Anthony Lake, on the case of Guantanamo Bay detainee, Omar Khadr

NEW YORK, 26 May 2010 "UNICEF is concerned about the impending trial of Guantanamo Bay detainee, Omar Khadr. Omar Khadr was arrested in Afghanistan in 2002 for crimes he is alleged to have committed when he was a child of 15 years of age. He is the last child soldier held in Guantanamo Bay.

The recruitment and use of children in hostilities is a war crime, and those who are responsible – the adult recruiters – should be prosecuted. The children involved are victims, acting under coercion. As UNICEF has stated in previous statements on this issue, former child soldiers need assistance for rehabilitation and reintegration into their communities, not condemnation or prosecution.

The prosecution of Omar Khadr may set a dangerous international precedent for other children who are victims of recruitment in armed conflicts. At a time when the UN celebrates the 10th anniversary of the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, we call on all governments that have ratified this treaty, including the United States, to uphold the spirit of the Protocol and all its provisions.

"In addition, anyone prosecuted for offenses they allegedly committed while a child should be treated in accordance with international juvenile justice standards, which provide them with special protections. Omar Khadr should not be prosecuted by a tribunal that is neither equipped nor required to provide these protections and meet these standards."

For further information, please contact:
Christopher de Bono, UNICEF Media, New York, cdebono@unicef.org

You may wish to prepare a statement, or contact the appropriate legislators about Omar Khadr. You can use this UNICEF statement about child soldiers, as well as the Protocol on Children in Armed Conflict

Here is the AMNESTY letter to Harper.
Here is the ACLU link
Here is the recent New York Times article
See the Facebook site: The-Campaign-for-JUSTICE-for-Omar-Khadr

Thursday

SIGN: Petition to keep UT campus open during G20

University of Toronto community opposes campus closure during the G20: Decision to "restrict access" heavy-handed and repressive

The decision to close the University of Toronto St. George campus during the G20 summit - the week of June 21-27 - contradicts the purpose of the university, reinforces harmful stereotypes of protesters, legitimizes police repression and violence, and does not reflect the wishes of students, staff and faculty.

Universities are sites for critical engagement and debate. The University of Toronto, as a place of higher learning, should be encouraging dialogue and engagement on the role of the G8/G20 and the future of our planet. Instead, administrators are prohibiting access to the campus, stifling dialogue and fostering a climate of fear.

According to a May 21st memo, the campus closure is necessary because of the "designated protest zone" at Queen's Park. Playing into media hype, University administrators have chosen to focus on a crude "protesters vs. police" characterization of anti-G20 efforts, and entirely sidestep the issues that compel people to oppose the G20 and its policies. In so doing, they reinforce cynical stereotypes of protesters and legitimize police violence.

The University did not consult students, staff, or faculty in making this decision. This decision places an unacceptable and unnecessary burden on students, instructors and researchers, forcing them to postpone their research, alter their course and exam schedules, and even abandon their homes.

For these reasons, we call on Provost Cheryl Misak and President David Naylor to immediately rescind their decision to close the campus during the G20 summit. We invite campus community members and organizations to join us. To endorse this statement, please send an email to open.uoft.campus@gmail.com.


Signatories

University of Toronto Students' Union
Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local 3902
United Steelworkers, Local 1998
U of T Association of Part-Time Undergraduate Students
Ontario Public Interest Research Group - U of T
The Centre for Women and Trans People - U of T
Graduate Geography and Planning Student Society - U of T

Saturday

DO: Help Oppose CANSEC, Canada's Top Weapons Bazaar June 2-3

a campaign brought to us by our members:

Help Oppose CANSEC, Canada's Top Weapons Bazaar! Please look over the list below to see how you might participate in our campaign to expose and oppose CANSEC. You can also find this information at the link above.

CANSEC is Canada's largest weapons trade exhibition, and it will be held in Ottawa, June 2-3, 2010. Many thousands of buyers, sellers, users and promoters of the latest military technologies will be rubbing shoulders at this war industry extravaganza. Ottawa's fairgrounds will be bristling with displays set up by hundreds of companies to showcase cutting-edge military hardware used in Iraq, Afghanistan, Gaza, and many other killing fields.

CANSEC exhibitors make everything from air-launched missiles and high-tech electronic components for the world's deadliest warplanes, to offensive armoured battle vehicles, multi-million dollar gizmos for the militarisation of space, and down-to-earth automatic weapons, tear-gas rifles and other handy crowd-control devices for keeping pesky protesters in their place. Most of Canada's military production is exported, and of course most of Canada's war exports go to the United States.

Make no mistake, war is big business, and business will be booming at CANSEC 2010! In fact, making a killing on war has probably never been more lucrative. Ask the so-called "Canadian Association of Defence and Security Industries." This Canadian government-funded lobby group, which organises CANSEC, has never been stronger. It now boasts a membership of 800 corporations.

Some suggestions are listed below, and on the website, for people who are in Ottawa and for others outside the area.

1) Rally for Peace, June 2 (5-7 pm)
While a who's who of Canada's military-industrial-political complex, and their closest foreign friends, are gathering for a fancy-dress dinner inside CANSEC, we will be holding a large peace event just outside CANSEC's gates. If you are in Ottawa, please join us for inspiring music and great speakers at the Bank Street entrance to Lansdowne Park. CANSEC organisers say their gala reception is "designed to optimize interactions with current and potential contacts, clients and stakeholders." Join us in "optimising interactions" with many friends and allies in the struggles for peace, the environment, human rights, democracy and Third-World solidarity.

(2) Don't Sit on "deFence," Decorate it!
Even if you are not in Ottawa, you can help with this project. We have created a facebook website to collect materials to decorate the fence around CANSEC.

4) Take a Stand
Please ask any relevant organisations to take a position on the CANSEC arms bazaar. This may involve passing a resolution, making a public statement, issuing a media release, writing a letter to the government or the media, sending a contingent to join our efforts on June 2, or otherwise supporting or endorsing our campaign against CANSEC 2010.

Information about Canadian arms sales can be found in COAT's periodical Press for Conversion, # 64 - War is Business, which is free on line.

Wednesday

SIGN: Petition re Bill C391, Gun Registry

Open Letter to Mr. Layton and Mr.Ignatief
House of Commons, Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6
Defeat Bill C-391 Keep gun control and the gun registry.

Dear Sir

We ask you and your party to vote against Ms. Candice Hoeppner’s Private Member’s Bill C-391 which if passed, will eliminate the registration of rifles and shotguns and mean that no records of the sales of these firearms would be maintained. These unrestricted rifles and shotguns include the Ruger Mini 14 that was used at l’École Polytechnique as well as sniper rifles. 

Canada passed its gun laws in response to the December 6, 1989 shooting at l’École Polytechnique and its gun laws are recognized internationally as an effective tool to reduce gun violence targeting women. We ask you to honour your commitment to ending violence against women and to public safety by ensuring that your party votes to defeat this proposed legislation when it comes before the House.

The full petition may be downloaded and printed here

Tuesday

Sign: Sex Ed Petition to Ontario Government from HAT

Petition to the Government of Ontario

We the undersigned support the proposed 2010 revisions to sex education in Ontario. As the government is rethinking the curriculum, we strongly encourage that the final version retain the following admirable features of the original proposal:

Proactive: By discussing issues of sexuality with children before they  experience the difficult and confusing changes of adolescence, the proposed curriculum will help them to cope with those challenges when they do reach puberty.
Holistic:

The curriculum integrates the medical implications of sex  with the emotional aspects of a relationship, encouraging adolescents to  consider all factors in deciding how intimate to get with a partner.
Non-judgmental:
The proposed curriculum does not tell students what decisions  to make about their own sexuality. Instead, by informing students of the many reasons to delay sexual activity, including risks of pregnancy and disease as well as issues of person comfort, it helps them to make their own decisions responsibly.
Inclusive:
The proposed curriculum acknowledges different forms of  sexuality, most notably sexual orientation. As early as Grade 3, even before they consider the mechanics of sex, children can understand the special relationship of a loving couple, and can appreciate that such couples may include two men, two women, or one of each. Later, when they become aware of their own sexual orientation, this should help gay as well as straight children to understand their developing urges.
___________________________________________
___________________________________________
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Please add more lines for signatures and send completed forms to: Humanist Association of Toronto, c/o Moses Klein, 123  Howland Ave., Toronto, ON, M5R 3B4

Thursday

RightOnCanada.ca | Letter to Harper re international Access to Abortion

RightOnCanada.ca | Putting human rights back on Canada’s political agenda

Mr. Harper, stop playing politics with women's lives

Letter:  Every eight minutes, a woman in a developing country dies from complications caused by an unsafe abortion, often leaving behind motherless children.
In Canada, women have the right to a safe abortion. Now Stephen Harper joins ex-U.S. President George Bush in putting his ideology ahead of women’s lives. At the G8 meeting in Halifax, the Harper government said that international aid should only be given if access to safe abortions is excluded.
Tell PM Harper to stop playing politics with women’s lives. Women have the right to choose for themselves without being sentenced to death.

SEE ALSO: Harper Cuts Funds to International Women's Groups

Tuesday

More GM: U.S. Farmers Fight Roundup-Resistant Super Weeds - NYTimes.com, see CETA

U.S. Farmers Cope With Roundup-Resistant Weeds - NYTimes.com
More evidence that GM / Monsanto is a short-term fix and a long-term nightmare.
"...But farmers sprayed so much Roundup that weeds quickly evolved to survive it. What we’re talking about here is Darwinian evolution in fast-forward," Mike Owen, a weed scientist at Iowa State University, said. Roundup-resistant weeds like horseweed and giant ragweed are forcing farmers to go back to more expensive techniques that they had long ago abandoned.
Mr. Anderson, the farmer, is wrestling with a particularly tenacious species of glyphosate-resistant pest called Palmer amaranth, or pigweed, whose resistant form began seriously infesting farms in western Tennessee only last year. Pigweed can grow three inches a day and reach seven feet or more, choking out crops; it is so sturdy that it can damage harvesting equipment. In an attempt to kill the pest before it becomes that big, Mr. Anderson and his neighbors are plowing their fields and mixing herbicides into the soil.

.. so if you already joined the CBAN Canadian action network - you can also look at the Trade Justice Network to take action.

Secret Text of Canada-EU Trade Deal Released: The agreement may be the largest single issue on farm-policy horizon
The Canada-EU Trade Agreement (CETA) is already being negotiated! On May 6, 2009, Prime Minister Stephen Harper launched negotiations with Europe toward a Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement that will go beyond NAFTA in ways that threaten public services and local democracy in Canada. On April 19, 2010, the Trade Justice Network leaked the draft consolidated text of the agreement to start a public debate on the effect the agreement would have on a number of public policy areas in Canada.
European companies see Canada's public services, including water treatment, transportation, energy and even health care, as ripe for privatization. Europe has already requested that GMOs be exempt from the trade agreement but the rights of farmers to save seed are under direct attack from the agreement. CETA would put powerful new tools into the hands of the biotech corporations.

The trade deal would give biotech, pharmaceutical, pesticide, seed, and grain companies powerful new tools to force farmers to buy seeds at high prices, on corporate terms. It would give corporations even more power to ultimately decide who farms and how... The trade deal would almost entirely eliminate the rights of farmers to save, reuse and sell seed.


Plant varieties can be protected as intellectual property through Plant Breeders Rights as well as patents on genes. The trade deal would give rights holders an unprecedented degree of control over seeds and farming by committing Canada to adopt UPOV'91, the draconian 1991 version of The International Convention for the Protection of New Plant Varieties. The inclusion of UPOV'91 in the deal is completely unnecessary and is excessively harmful to Canadian farmers. Seed breeders would have the right to collect royalties on seed at any point in the food chain!
The draft of the trade deal also says that biotech corporations could seize the crops, equipment, and farms - and freeze the bank accounts - of farmers who are deemed patent infringers, like farmers who find unwanted contamination in their fields.

Con Senator Nancy Ruth told international-development advocates to Shut the F-Up

Conservative Senator Nancy Ruth told a group of international-development advocates
Cross posted on HumanistNews
OTTAWA – Aid experts alarmed by Canada’s new anti-abortion stand in foreign policy have received some raw political advice from a Conservative senator: “shut the f--- up” or it could get worse.
“We’ve got five weeks or whatever left until G-8 starts. Shut the f--- up on this issue,” Conservative Senator Nancy Ruth told a group of international-development advocates who gathered on Parliament Hill on Monday to sound the alarm about Canada’s hard-right stand against abortion in foreign aid.
“If you push it, there will be more backlash,” said Ruth, who fears that outrage will push her boss, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, to take further measures against abortion and family planning – abroad, or maybe even in Canada. “This is now a political football. This is not about women’s health in this country.”
Action: LTE, Call your MP, whatever you feel is necessary. See POLITICAL ACTION links at the right.

Sunday

Fears for crops as shock figures from America show scale of bee catastrophe

Fears for crops as shock figures from America show scale of bee catastrophe | Environment | The Observer

The bees are still dying -- US scientists have found 121 different pesticides in samples of bees, wax and pollen, lending credence to the notion that pesticides are a key problem. "We believe that some subtle interactions between nutrition, pesticide exposure and other stressors are converging to kill colonies," said Jeffery Pettis, of the ARS's bee research laboratory. The wipe-out of so many colonies has been dubbed ‘Marie Celeste’ syndrome because many hives have been found empty, with no sign of dead bees.

Bees are a critical part of the food chain because flowering plants depend on insects for pollination and the honeybee is the most effective. It pollinates 90 commercial crops worldwide, including most fruit and vegetables – from apples to carrots – alfalfa for cattle feed, nuts, oil-seed rape and cotton.

A world without honeybees would mean a largely meatless diet of rice and cereals, no cotton for textiles, no orchards or wildflowers and decimation among wild birds and animals in the bee food chain.

I don't have any actions to suggest - except to encourage a pesticide ban, and the problems with Monsanto - but if you find any petitions or actions, let us know.

Here's a Danish study

GM figures largely in this crisis - although governments will continue skirting around this fact because big business doesn't want to see its profits take a dip. Proteinase inhibitors present in transgenic plants disrupt bee development and longevity. The conclusion of the paper: Environmental Risk Assessment of Transgenic Plants Using Honey Bee Larvae, produced by the Danish Institute of Agricultural Sciences, stated:

Adult worker honey bees mainly eat pollen as nurse bees, with a peak in pollen intake at day nine after emerging. The pollen intake and, thus, amount and type of digested protein, is correlated to the developmental status of the hypopharyngeal glands (30-31).

The secretions of these glands are important components of the larval food. It is therefore likely that nurse bees that ingest PIs will be poorer producers of larval food both in terms of quantity and quality. Hence, not only will the longevity and learning ability of adult bees be reduced (17-20) affecting their performance as forager bees if they are influenced by a SBTI containing pollen or nectar source, they will probably also be suboptimal tenders of larvae as nurse bees. A crop expressing SBTI in a 1.0% concentration in pollen or nectar will, therefore, have both a direct impact on honey bee larvae through digestive inhibition (resulting in increased development time, increased juvenile mortality, and individuals surviving to adulthood being smaller) and an indirect impact through nourishment depletion through affected nurse bees.