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.


Western Union: Holiday Money transfers @ predatory 20%

Before the holidays, millions of hard-working men and women gather the money they have saved throughout the year, go to a local Western Union office and wire it to their relatives throughout the developing world. Up to 20% of these savings can go straight into the pocket of money transfer organizations in fees, allowing companies to make billions of dollars in profit on the backs of the world's neediest.

Slashing the obscene profits of companies like Western Union would dramatically increase assistance flowing into developing countries. Instead, families around the world received far less than they deserved so that Western Union's CEO could take home $8.1 million in 2009.

The World Bank recommends that transfer companies limit fees to 5% of the amount being transferred, but some banks and companies have astronomical hidden charges. Perversely, the neediest countries coming out of war or disaster suffer the greatest losses, because of transfer companies' monopolistic privileges and exclusive deals with local banks.

Western Union has never faced a public outcry to challenge its shameless profiteering. If we raise our voices loudly to challenge their predatory fees, we can threaten their corporate brand enough to compel them to act.

AVAAZ Petition: As citizens from around the world committed to eradicating global poverty, we call on you to show true corporate leadership and take immediate steps to ensure crucial international remittances to the world’s poorest countries are subject to fair rates. Specifically, we ask you to lower your total fees to a maximum of 5% in all transfers sent home by workers to developing nations.

Sign now -- and we’ll deliver it to the company’s image-sensitive board of directors when the petition reaches 250,000 signers.

Research links rise in Falluja birth defects and cancers to US assault , Saskatchewan Uranium

Research links rise in Falluja birth defects and cancers to US assault - and Saskatchewan Uranium

Note: The largest single source of uranium for the US military is Saskatchewan, according to a 2008 article by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA).

In fact, Saskatchewan produces more uranium than any other region or country in the world. The Athabasca Basin region of Northern Saskatchewan (with a small area of Alberta) is the world's leading source of high grade uranium.
A study examining the causes of a dramatic spike in birth defects in the Iraqi city of Falluja has for the first time concluded that genetic damage could have been caused by weaponry used in US assaults that took place six years ago.

The research, which will be published next week, confirms earlier estimates revealed by the Guardian of a major, unexplained rise in cancers and chronic neural-tube, cardiac and skeletal defects in newborns. The authors found that malformations are close to 11 times higher than normal rates, and rose to unprecedented levels in the first half of this year – a period that had not been surveyed in earlier reports.

The findings, which will be published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, come prior to a much-anticipated World Health Organisation study of Falluja's genetic health. They follow two alarming earlier studies, one of which found a distortion in the sex ratio of newborns since the invasion of Iraq in 2003 – a 15% drop in births of boys.

"We suspect that the population is chronically exposed to an environmental agent," said one of the report's authors, environmental toxicologist Mozhgan Savabieasfahani. "We don't know what that environmental factor is, but we are doing more tests to find out."

The report identifies metals as potential contaminating agents afflicting the city – especially among pregnant mothers. "Metals are involved in regulating genome stability," it says. "As environmental effectors, metals are potentially good candidates to cause birth defects.

The findings are likely to prompt further speculation that the defects were caused by depleted uranium rounds, which were heavily used in two large battles in the city in April and November 2004. The rounds, which contain ionising radiation, are a core component of the armouries of numerous militaries and militias.

(See also: Chomsky on Fallujah cancer rates higher than Hiroshima)

see also International Campaign to Ban Depleted Uranium Weapons

And closer to home, What about Port Hope? Are they actually producing Uranium?
"....In Port Hope, Ontario, Cameco's uranium conversion facility they release 120 kg or more of uranium into the air each year. The leadership admit that inhalation is most dangerous threat to health. The plant is on the lakefront, in the middle of town, so the release is into the town and lake...As for the question about CAMECO and current depleted uranium use, well that is the beauty of the system. No one knows. The US does not distinguish between DU from Canadian uranium and DU from other uranium sources. Whether Port Hope is still producing DU, that I cannot answer. Until there is transparency about this issue we will not have clear answers. I think it will eventually take someone to leak reliable information (ie. not misleading or false information) about the final locations of Canadian uranium to have answers.

Personally, I would propose there be a legal challenge against the governments of Canada and Saskatchewan, and the mining giant CAMECO, for not exercising proper oversight on the uses of its uranium once it leaves Canada. Also to investigate if criminal charges are warranted against these governments and CAMECO if internal government records confirm the facility at Port Hope Ontario has been used to produce depleted uranium for US arms manufacturers.

It is easy to criticize other governments, banks etc. for malfeasance. However there seems to be less interest among some of the progressive community in Canada to go after the wrongs that we commit and things we can actually try to do something about.

Stop the Inhumane Treatment of Bradley Manning: Letter

Stop the Inhumane Treatment of Bradley Manning: Sign Our Letter
Bradley Manning is the 23-year-old Army Private accused of leaking classified documents to Wikileaks. For the last five months, he has been detained in solitary confinement enduring conditions that are cruel, inhumane, and bordering on torture.

Bradley Manning deserves humane treatment while he awaits trial.
Please add your name to our letter urging the Marines to lift the heavy restrictions of Manning’s unnecessary “Prevention of Injury” order.
Bradley's friend, David House, will deliver your letter to the Commanding Officer at the Quantico Marine Base brig when he next visits Bradley Manning.

Letter to Commanding Officer James Averhart, US MCB Quantico Brig:

Pfc. Bradley Manning has been held for five months under “maximum custody” at Quantico Marine Corps Base under your supervision. Pfc. Manning is under a “Prevention of Injury Order” (POI) that puts him in severe isolation
  • Manning stays in his cell for 23 hours a day
  • Guards must check on him every 5 minutes, and he must respond each time
  • He is not allowed to sleep between 5am and 8pm
  • Substantive exercise is not allowed beyond walking, potentially in chains
  • Communication with other people in the brig is banned, and he cannot write to people outside beyond the few a list approved by the brig commander; any unapproved letters he receives are destroyed.
  • He has not been allowed to read newspapers or watch international news during TV time
  • Comfortable sleep is impossible; he must surrender his clothes each night, has only a heavy “suicide blanket” akin to an x-ray vest, and guards must be able to see his face at all times.
A psychologist has said Manning isn’t a danger to himself or others, and the POI order is unnecessary. His lawyer has also been unable to have the POI order lifted. But it is clear that Bradley Manning has been subjected to inhumane and unnecessary punishment without being convicted of a crime.

The severe isolation is already having negative effects on Pfc. Manning’s health, according to his attorney and a friend. And his psychologist says he is of no danger to himself or others, making the longstanding POI order unnecessary.

The conditions of Pfc. Manning’s detention are cruel, inhumane, and disproportionate for the crime with which he has only been charged. We urge you to lift Pfc. Manning’s POI order and allow him to exercise, communicate, and sleep as allowed under maximum custody

(if Outside the US, you may sign the letter using zip code 00000)

CBC :The growing abyss that is world corruption

The growing abyss that is world corruption By Brian Stewart
(note: this report is relevant for the FairVote Canada campaign. One of the comments in the report noted "Seven of the top ten have socal democratic governments and most have proportional representation and a lot of them have coalition governments. Makes for more democracy and thus less corruption. And I suspect most of the top ten have effective journalism going on" mb)

Accountability and transparency of The top 20 least-corrupt nations

1. Denmark
2. New Zealand
3. Singapore
4. Finland
5. Sweden
6. Canada
7. Netherlands
8. Australia
9. Switzerland
10. Norway
11. Iceland
12. Luxembourg
13. Hong Kong
14. Ireland
15. Austria
16. Germany
17. Barbados
18. Japan
19. Qatar
20. United Kingdom

There's one problem area in the world today that must be stated as bluntly as possible and faced as honestly as we can — that's the collapse of trust in governments around the globe because of an almost unprecedented rise in corruption. Every year, according to those who track these things, the world falls further into widespread corruption to the point where "at no time has there been less trust in elected representatives," the International Anti-Corruption Conference declared last month.

We all know severe corruption exists in large parts of the world. But most of us had hoped that the pressure for transparency and reform by groups like the UN and the World Bank would start getting a grip on this plague.

Economic summits, like the G20 in Toronto last summer, always vow to attack the problem with vigour. But that simply isn't happening effectively enough. We are not advancing against world corruption. According to the numbers, in fact, we're in a dismal retreat.

As the respected group Transparency International reported recently, of 178 countries and territories surveyed, nearly three quarters scored below five on a scale from 0 (highly corrupt) to 10 (very clean). This means that even Canada along with other relatively clean and transparent countries cannot be immune from the consequences.

Anti-corruption experts are unanimous in warning that the existing state of severe corruption in dozens of nation states means we will all face a future of more instability, violence, poverty and massive environmental failure.
Bribery on the rise "Most worrying is the fact that bribes to the police have almost doubled since 2006, and more people report paying bribes to the judiciary than did so five years ago," the report said.

Something very ominous is clearly happening here as even the least corrupt areas appear to show less faith in the honesty of government and its institutions... (more)


Another Good Video: 200 years of Global Health Development

an excellent overview of 200 years of Global Health developments, from the BBCs "The Joy of Statistics" program.


The Equality Effect

Great new VideoPSA by Andrea Dorfman for OXFAM, on women's equality before international law.


13 Products Most Likely To Made By Child Or Forced Labor

13 Products Most Likely To Made By Child Or Forced Labor (PHOTOS)
Some of our most basic purchases are produced by children. Though hard data is scant, it's estimated that there are 115 million children worldwide in forced labor.

There are some 128 goods among the products that most commonly use child labor, according to newly updated data from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). The broad definition of exploitive labor by underage workers used by the DOL includes "slavery or practices similar to slavery, the sale or trafficking of children, debt bondage or serfdom; the forcible recruitment of children for use in armed conflict; the commercial sexual exploitation of children; the involvement of children in drug trafficking; and work that is likely to harm children's health, safety, or morals."
The vast majority of the explotiive labor done by children is in agriculture (60 percent), followed by services (26 percent), and industry (7 percent), according to the DOL. But some industries are definitely worse than others.

We sifted through the latest report from the DOL's "List Of Goods Produced By Child Labor or Forced Labor" to find some of the most common products that are manufactured or harvested using these deplorable practices. We ranked each product by the number of countries that use child or forced labor to produce each good. While this is not a scientific ranking, these products represent some of the industries and goods and that the government has identified as having the highest rates of child labor. ranking: 1. Gold 2. Cotton 3. Sugar 4. Tobacco 5. Bricks 6. Coffee 7. Cattle 8. Rice 9. Clothing 10. Diamonds 11. Coal 12. Cocoa 13. Rugs


Bill C-393, Letter for Debate starting Thursday Dec 16

Bill C-393, Letter for Debate starting Thursday Dec 16

Canada’s Access to Medicines Regime is supposed to facilitate getting low-cost generic medicines to developing countries. But because of red tape written in by drug company lobbyists, only one shipment of medicines has been sent in more than six years!

Bill C-393 was introduced to streamline the process so the medicines can start flowing. And all parties claim to support it. But on November first, a Parliamentary committee voted (by the slimmest of majorities) to strip the bill of its key provision: requiring a single licence per medication, rather than a new licence for each shipment.

Now the bill is back in the House of Commons, where the damage can be reversed if Members of Parliament restore the one-licence solution.

Debate on Bill C-393 is to start Thursday, December 16.

Please send the letter HERE

Personal phone MP's office are one of the strongest actions constituents can take to make their voices heard. Ask your MP to support reinstating the one-license solution in Bill C-393. Tell your MP it would be outrageous if any party chooses to play games with such a life-or-death issue and derails Bill C-393 on a procedural technicality.
To find out your MP's phone number, please click here.
Not sure what to say? Here's a factsheet

Brit/Boston biotech secretly releases GM mosquitos in Cayman island

British Overseas Territory used as private lab for GM mosquito company
GeneWatch UK Press Release 14th December 2010

A new GeneWatch UK briefing questions the role of the British scientific establishment in the release of three million genetically modified (GM) mosquitoes in the Cayman Islands earlier this year (1).

The secret experiments were revealed by UK biotech company Oxitec last month, which claimed misleadingly that the mosquitoes were sterile. The GeneWatch briefing shows that no public consultation was undertaken on potential risks and informed consent was not sought from local people. Oxitec is a spin-out company from Oxford University and the trials were funded by the Wellcome Trust: neither body appears to have required any ethical oversight before using Grand Cayman for the trials.

Oxford University is an investor in Oxitec, which it expects to generate income for it in the future. The company also owes 2.25 million to a multi-millionaire venture capital investor in Boston, which it is due to pay back by 2013. The company is losing 1.7 million a year and its business plan requires it to commercialise its products and charge ongoing fees for continual releases of the GM mosquitoes, which are intended to reduce the transmission of the dengue virus. Former science minister Lord Drayson and former Royal Society President Lord May both acted as advisors to investors in the company.

GeneWatch UK?s Director, Dr Helen Wallace said: 'The British scientific establishment is acting like the last bastion of colonialism, using an Overseas Territory as a private lab. There is no excuse for funding trials without public consultation or ethical oversight to help out a spin-out company that is heavily in debt'.

Trials of the same GM mosquitoes are expected in Malaysia soon. The biggest risk with the company's approach is that a different, more invasive species of mosquito (the Asian Tiger mosquito) may move into the ecological niche vacated by the species it is targeting (the Yellow Fever mosquito), potentially transmitting more diseases and becoming harder to eradicate. The company has created GM Asian Tiger mosquitoes with a view to marketing these in future to tackle this expected problem.

There is a real danger that this approach to reducing mosquito populations could lead to harm to public health. It is also likely to lock developing countries into continual payments for ongoing releases of two GM mosquito products.
s scientists have published computer models of falling mosquito populations as a result of releasing their GM mosquitoes, but they have not included the effect of the two different species of mosquitoes, and their interactions with the four forms of the dengue virus and other tropical diseases.

Oxitec has close links to the GM crop company Syngenta and is also developing GM versions of agricultural pests which it intends to commercialise in future, partly to combat the growing problem of resistant pests, caused by the use of pest resistant (Bt) GM maize, soybeans and cotton (2). It has received significant public subsidies, including more than 2.5 million in grants from the UK government- funded Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), mainly for joint projects with Oxford University.

see other examples of resistance/new pest GM cycle:
Oxitecs agricultural pest products  inc. Bollworms genetically-modified to contain a fluorescent marker. They have been tested in the USA but these were sterilised using radiation, rather than being genetically-modified with Oxitec's conditional-lethality trait. Cotton bollworm pests resistant to the Bt toxin used in GM cotton were reported this week in India:


Every Human Has Rights - SC General Message on Human RightsDay

Every Human Has Rights

The UN Secretary General sends out a message for Human Rights Day on the 10th December. This year the UN is celebrating human rights defenders, people who take action to stand up, speak out for freedom and human dignity.

He talks about the courageous women and men striving to protect their own rights and rights of others. These human rights defenders take huge strides in defending the most vulnerable and discriminated against.

Every Human Has Rights supports the call to recognize and human rights defenders and we’re asking everyone to think what they can do. Take a first step to becoming aware of human rights by joining the Barefoot Against Poverty campaign – thinking about people living in poverty with their basic rights being denied. By joining the campaign you can also join us throughout the coming year to take further steps for human rights including learning, sharing and taking action.

Sign your support now and join people around the world on our first step for human rights together.

Look out soon for more information on human rights defenders when we launch our worldwide map of people who stand up and speak out around the world.

ALSO:  Check in on Amnesty's DEMAND DIGNITY campaign - and ADD YOUR VOICE to voices from Canada.  Here is a sample:
Vivre dans la dignité, c'est de vivre libre, en étant respecté, et sans distinction de sexe, d'âge, de couleur ou de classe sociale. C'est de ne pas souffrir de pauvreté, ni de faim, ni d'injustice. C'est de pouvoir vivre heureux, sans honte.


Sign Amnesty International’s global petition calling for the release of Nobel Peace Prize laureate and Chinese democracy advocate Liu Xiaobo

Sign Amnesty International’s global petition calling for the release of Nobel Peace Prize laureate and Chinese democracy advocate Liu Xiaobo

Help free Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo

Please help Amnesty International exert worldwide pressure on China to protect courageous, determined democracy activists like Liu Xiaobo. Liu Xiaobo is not the only human rights activist wrongfully detained in China. Others like Mao Hengfeng and Liu Xianbin (see pictures at right) are in prison for speaking out in support of Liu Xiaobo and human rights change in China.
Please send a message to the Chinese Ambassador to Canada demanding that China release Liu Xiaobo and other human rights activists who have been wrongfully imprisoned for speaking out for human rights.

Sign here


Avaaz Petition Wikileaks: Stop the crackdown - Wikileaks: Stop the crackdown

To the U.S. government, and corporations linked to Wikileaks:

We call on you to stop the crackdown on WikiLeaks and its partners immediately. We urge you to respect democratic principles and laws of freedom of expression and freedom of the press. If Wikileaks and the journalists it works with have violated any laws they should be pursued in the courts with due process. They should not be subjected to an extra-judicial campaign of intimidation.

It just started, and has over 100,.000 signers, including lots of Canadians. Very interesting to see it climb.  Tune in tomorrow

Wikileaks mirror

for a while...


Victory for Democracy in Canada re Debate on Genetic Engineering

Victory for Democracy in Canada on Genetic Engineering! Your actions are working!

(from C-BAN)
Despite biotech industry attempts to shut down debate, last night in the House of Commons, the New Democratic Party secured a new 5-hour debate on Bill C-474 and the impacts of genetic engineering for early in 2011. This type of debate on genetic engineering in the House of Commons has never happened before! Now every MP will have a chance to participate in the debate on Bill C-474. Write your MP today HERE  and ask them to represent your concerns in the debate.

[NOTE: You can also use this link to write letters about GE Pigs, GE Salmon, etc.]

Thank you to everyone who continues to take action. Your voice is being heard! Approximately 1500 people have written to their MPs and another 6000 signatures on petitions have been collected. Hundreds of people have sent replies from their MPs to CBAN - thank you for your patience in waiting for CBAN to respond to your questions. Bill C-474 is concrete action and a unique chance to bring genetic engineering and the concerns of farmers into the spotlight.


"Fox News North" (SUN TV) : Give Us a Choice!

"Fox News North": Give Us a Choice!
from Avaaz: We've won the right to refuse to pay for “Fox News North”, but now that right is under threat. Sun TV is pressing cable companies to get their channel included in our cable packages. This means we would be forced to pay for Sun TV if we want access to any other special news channels.

Right now, Shaw cable company offers the American Fox News as a stand alone option. If you don’t want Fox, you don’t have to pay for it. Let's require the same deal for Sun TV. An outcry from consumers across the country will force cable providers to offer us a real choice when it comes to news of the "Fox" variety. Send a message to the Presidents of Shaw, Bell and Rogers HERE


International AIDS day, Dec 1 : UNAIDS Global report 2010

UNAIDS Global report 2010 | AIDS SCORECARDS
You can read Regional Reports here - note that South Africa has achieved almost 90% reduction in Mother/Child transmission - but stats are rising in Eastern Europe and East Asia.

This is International Aids Day. AIDS Day is observed every year on December 1. It was first observed in 1988 after a summit of health ministers from around the world called for a spirit of social tolerance and a greater exchange of information on HIV/AIDS. World AIDS Day serves to strengthen the global effort to face the challenges of the AIDS pandemic.

Here are some campaigns

Buddies in Bad Times launched a campaign last night, AidsActionNow,org you can see their campaign video calling for the end of the Harper government's denial of the right to health for people living with and affected by HIV and Hepatitis C.

* In Vancouverʼs downtown eastside, the prevalence of Hepatitis C is 70%. HIV prevalence is 30%
* In Toronto, 23% of gay and bisexual men are HIV-positive.
* Aboriginal people make up 3.8% of the overall population, but 12.5% of new HIV infections.
* In Canadian prisons, Hepatitis C rates are 45 times greater than the general population, and HIV rates are 22 times greater.

Despite these alarming facts, the Harper government continues to oppose harm reduction programs that are proven to reduce HIV and Hepatitis C infections. Instead, funding has been increased for military and security costs which cost Canadian taxpayers 632 times the annual national AIDS plan.

Doctors without BordersHIV/AIDS treatment in developing countries is being dealt a double blow that will mean treatment recommendations cannot be implemented and the promise of new science remain unfulfilled.

Oxfam Canada is a member of The Blueprint for Action on Women and HIV/AIDS a multi-sector coalition of HIV-positive women, Canadian and international HIV/AIDS organizations, and a variety of women's and reproductive rights groups advocating for better prevention, services and supports for women and girls infected and affected by HIV/AIDS.