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.


Meet the Shady Dallas Mega-Billionaire Industrialist Pouring Money into Rick Perry's Coffers

Meet the Shady Dallas Mega-Billionaire Industrialist Pouring Money into Rick Perry's Coffers
(Oglalla aquifer again - also threatened by the Tar Sands)
Like so many Republican officials of the tea party persuasion, Rick Perry despises the Environmental Protection Agency—a feeling he has expressed repeatedly in speeches, lawsuits, legislation and even a book titled “Fed Up!” Perhaps that is only natural for the governor of Texas, a “dirty energy” state where the protection of air, water and human health rank well below the defense of oil company profits for most politicians.

But Perry has at least one other reason for smacking down those bureaucrats so eagerly. When environmental regulators do their job properly, that can mean serious trouble for Perry’s largest political donors.The outstanding example is Harold Simmons, a Dallas mega-billionaire industrialist who has donated well over a million dollars to Perry’s campaign committees recently. With Perry’s eager assistance—and despite warnings from Texas environmental officials—Simmons has gotten approval to build an enormous radioactive waste dump on top of a crucial underground water supply.
“We first had to change the law to where a private company can own a license, and we did that,” Simmons boasted in 2006, after the Texas Legislature and the governor rubber-stamped initial legislation and approvals for the project. “Then we got another law passed that said (the state) can only issue one license. Of course, we were the only ones that applied.”
Most Americans have never heard of Simmons, despite his fantastic wealth, because he wisely keeps his head low, generally refusing press interviews and avoiding media coverage. Last year, a local monthly in his hometown published the headline “Dallas’ Evil Genius” over a scathing and fascinating investigative profile that examined not only the peculiar history of litigation between Simmons and his children (who no longer speak to him), but his political machinations, corporate raiding and continuing corporate penchant for pollution.
In D magazine, reporter Laray Polk explained how Simmons and a company he owns—innocuously named Waste Control Systems—manipulated state and federal law to allow him to build a nuclear-waste disposal site in West Texas. But construction has been delayed for years in part because the site appears to overlay the Oglalla Aquifer, an underground water supply that serves 1.9 million people in nine states, raising obvious concerns over radioactive contamination. In the Simmons profile and subsequent posts on the Investigative Fund website last year, Polk explored the controversy over the proposed WCS facility, including strong objections by staff analysts at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality who found evidence that atomic waste might indeed leach into a huge pool of drinking water.

Days left to Stop Canada's Deadly Oil

Avaaz - Days left to Stop Canada's Deadly Oil
Canada mines deadly oil that creates toxic sludge lakes and destroys forests in Alberta -- and Harper needs Obama's help to sell it. Our own government is captured by powerful oil interests, but Obama is wavering on building a new cross-border pipeline. If enough Canadians ask him to protect the world from our deadly oil, we could tip the balance away from pollution.

Within days, President Obama could decide whether to allow a massive tar sands pipeline right through the middle of the U.S. -- boosting tar sands production and risking the contamination of major fresh water sources in his own country. PM Harper and his oil cronies have tarnished Canada's beauty and reputation, but Obama has the ultimate say on pipeline approval and he’s keen to strengthen his green credentials. He could override Harper's stubborn support for deadly oil.

Harper stopped listening to Canadians about climate a long time ago. Now, we have the chance to lobby the US and cut-off deadly oil for good. When we reach 50,000 signatures, we'll deliver our call directly to the White House. Let’s save Canada’s tarred image -- sign now and forward

Petitions Delivered to Local Conservative MPs and MPPs Opposing Proposed Mega Quarry

Petitions Delivered to Local Conservative MPs and MPPs Opposing Proposed Mega Quarry
By Mark Calzavara,
Over 120 people gathered in Orangeville, Ontario yesterday to hand over petitions against the mega-quarry to the local Conservative MP and MPP. About a dozen municipal councilors also attended, adding their opposition to that of First Nations representatives, Aware Simcoe, NDACT, veterans of the battle for Site 41, election candidates, and yours truly-the Council of Canadians.
The event was organized by long time Conservative supporters, indicating how widespread opposition to the proposed mega-quarry has become. It is no surprise then that MP David Tilson is also speaking out strongly against what would be the second largest quarry in North America. He even references threats from NAFTA in his petition to the House of Commons calling for a federal environmental assessment.
I asked him to explain how his government’s decision to cut 40% from the budget of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency might affect an eventual EA of the mega-quarry but his response didn’t inspire any confidence. I also asked Conservative MPP Sylvia Jones how her leader’s campaign promise to cut 30% of the “red tape” regulations in Ontario might make it even harder for communities to protect themselves from bad development. Her promise not to touch good regulations was undermined when she expressed confidence in the fairness of the Aggregate Resources Act- making her perhaps the only person in the room who felt that way.
The McGuinty government received their share of criticism yesterday as well and I think we may see some election promises from them in the coming weeks regarding quarries in Ontario. Whoever wins on October 6th, they will be facing a highly motivated and united community that is determined to protect its water, land and way of life.

Day of the Disappeared | Amnesty International

Day of the Disappeared | Amnesty International
On August 30, Amnesty International will observe the International Day of the Disappeared. We call on governments around the world to disclose the status of individuals or groups who have been "disappeared" or taken for political, social or other reasons violating human rights. Those found to be involved in their disappearance must be brought to justice.

Take action on behalf of the Day of the Disappeared cases on the website, or learn about other disappeared cases   You can click on the website links to write to the governments concerned.
Here are 2 examples


Gao Zhisheng - Human rights lawyer
Prominent Chinese human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng has taken on cases of human rights defenders, Falun Gong practitioners and persons facing the death penalty. In December 2006, he was given a suspended sentence of three years in prison for "inciting subversion." Gao was placed under house arrest until February 2009 when he was detained again, apparently because of his outspoken critiques of the human rights situation in China. He briefly resurfaced in April 2010, but has disappeared again since then. Chinese authorities maintain they do not know his whereabouts. Gao reportedly has been harassed, beaten and tortured while under surveillance or in detention.
Take Action: Investigate the disappearance of human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng
Sri Lanka
Prageeth Eknaligoda - Journalist and cartoonist
Prageeth Eknaligoda was disappeared on January 24, 2010, shortly after leaving work. A few days before, he had published an article supporting the opposition presidential candidate. Local residents told the Sri Lankan press that they had seen a white van without number plates close to his house around the time of his disappearance. In the days leading up to his disappearance he had told a close friend that he believed he was being followed. Since 2006, at least 15 media workers have been killed in Sri Lanka, with no one held accountable for these murders.
Take Action: Investigate the disappearance of journalist Prageeth Eknaligoda

Ignoring Climate Change, US State Department Report Concludes Keystone XL Has 'No Significant Impacts'

Ignoring Climate Change, State Department Report Concludes Keystone XL Has 'No Significant Impacts'

The State Department issued its final environmental review of the Keystone XL pipeline Friday, finding that it would bring “no significant impacts” on the environment – even while substantially increasing greenhouse gas emissions and crossing major aquifers and wetlands across the country.

The Environmental Protection Agency criticized the last two environmental reviews from the Department of State, saying they lacked adequate study on almost every major environmental issue associated with building the pipeline. But the DOS worked closely with the EPA on this report.

The 1,700 mile Keystone XL pipeline would bring over 800,000 barrels of tar sands crude from Alberta to the Gulf Coast each day. The EPA estimates that carbon emissions from tar sands are 80% higher than the average crude refined in the U.S. The process of extracting tar sands oil requires strip mining, causing extensive damage to the boreal forest, creating “dead” water ponds filled with toxic chemicals, and requires four times more water to produce a barrel of tar sands oil than for conventional oil....
The report does not determine a State Department decision; it is simply a final environmental review. After a 90-day public comment period, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will issue a decision. Secretary Clinton said she would leave “no stone unturned” in the analysis of the pipeline. But last month, the objectivity of the agency was called into question when a diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks showed a DOS official had been coaching the Canadian government on how to better “sell” the tar sands to the public:

The cable, obtained by WikiLeaks, describes the State Department’s then-energy envoy, David Goldwyn, as having “alleviated” Canadian officials’ concerns about getting their crude into the U.S. It also said he had instructed them in improving “oil sands messaging,” including “increasing visibility and accessibility of more positive news stories.” Goldwyn now works on Canadian oil sands issues at Sutherland, a Washington lobbying firm, and recently testified before Congress in favor of building the 36-inch underground pipeline, Keystone XL.


ACTION ALERT by 8/31: Tell Ambassador Doer – Get your facts straight!

ACTION ALERT: Ambassador Doer – Get your facts straight!
On August 25, Canadian ambassador Gary Doer’s support for the Keystone XL pipeline was outlined in a Globe and Mail column. Keystone XL is a pipeline that would transport tar sands bitumen to Texas refineries.
The interview with Doer was in response to the ongoing arrests outside the White House of people participating in a peaceful sit-in. Their demand of President Obama is simple, to reject the requested permit for the Keystone XL pipeline and instead focus on developing safe, clean energy.
Increasing numbers of people are concerned about the impacts of the proposed pipeline which will cross important water sources including the Ogallala aquifer, tar sands contributions to climate change and it’s social, human right and environmental consequences in Canada.
Ambassador Doer’s arguments for the pipeline, and his clear admission of ongoing lobbying for the pipeline, compels the need for Canadians concerned about the tar sands, to respond.
Tell Ambassador Doer how you feel about his comments in support of the Keystone XL pipeline. Find here a sample email that responds to arguments he raises in the Globe and Mail article.
On Wednesday August 31st, there will be a peaceful action outside of the Canadian Embassy in Washington, DC involving the delivery of a letter to Ambassador Doer, urging the Canadian government to cease lobbying for the Keystone Pipeline and instead turn efforts to addressing the serious social and environmental impacts of the tar sands.
If you are a Canadian in Washington on August 31st and would like to participate in the letter delivery, please contact: Andrea Harden-Donahue, Energy and Climate Justice Campaigner with the Council of Canadians:


Civil disobedience called for in Ottawa to stop tar sands destruction

[25-Aug-11] Civil disobedience called for in Ottawa to stop tar sands destruction
(Toronto) — Canadian and U.S. environmental and civil society leaders today endorsed a call from the Indigenous Environmental Network, the Council of Canadians and Greenpeace Canada for people in Canada to join a mass protest featuring a civil disobedience sit-in against the tar sands in Ottawa on September 26th.
The call comes after several days of protests at the White House, where activists are calling on the Obama government to not approve the proposed Keystone XL pipeline that would carry dirty tar sands oil from Alberta to the United States. The Ottawa protest will ask the Harper government to transition away from toxic tar sands to green, sustainable energy.
“Since August 20th, hundreds of Americans have peacefully protested, many risking arrest, in a series of events to stop the Keystone XL pipeline and stop more dirty tar sands oil from entering the U.S.,” said Mike Hudema, climate and energy campaigner with Greenpeace Canada. “On September 26th, Canadians need to match their courage and risk arrest in Ottawa to stop the tar sands. The time has come to act together for the health of our planet, our air, our water, our climate, and our children and say no to a destructive tar sands industry.”
The U.S protests at the White House against the Keystone XL pipeline will run to September 3rd. The U.S. mobilization began when environmentalist David Suzuki, actor Danny Glover and many others issued a similar call out for civil disobedience action at the White House.
“We cannot continue to let the reckless oil industry trample treaty rights, poison rivers, destroy the land and help fuel a growing climate crisis,” said Clayton Thomas Mueller with the Indigenous Environmental Network. “That is why on September 26th we are asking people to come to Ottawa and use their bodies in a simple act of civil disobedience to say no to the tar sands. The Harper government needs to know that we don’t support his reckless agenda, that we want to turn away from a toxic tar sands industry and that we are going to forge the future we all want to live in.”
"Tar sands oil is dirty oil,” said Maude Barlow, national chairperson of the Council of Canadians. “Rather than coming up with a conversion plan to a sustainable energy future, the federal and Alberta governments are planning massive increases in tar sands production and the export of this dangerous product to the already oil-ravaged Gulf Coast of Texas. Tar sands mining has destroyed much of Alberta's water table and will put the fragile Ogallala Aquifer in peril. We join with the millions of Americans who oppose the expansion of this deadly industry."
The call out has been endorsed by veteran U.S. and Canadian scientists, Order of Canada members, authors and environmentalists and non-governmental organizations. Among them are Maude Barlow, Shirley Douglas, George Poitras, James Hansen, Graeme Gibson, John O’Connor, Clayton Ruby, Judy Rebick, Naomi Klein, Tom Goldtooth, Bill McKibben, Gordon Laxer, Tony Clarke, Bruce Cox, Joe Uehlein, the Indigenous Environmental Network, Council of Canadians and Greenpeace Canada.
People can sign up online ( to participate in the sit-in on the September 26th.

Full text of Stephen Lewis's Eulogy for Jack Layton

Full text of Stephen Lewis’s stirring eulogy for Jack Layton Below is the eulogy delivered by NDP statesman Stephen Lewis during Jack Layton’s funeral:

Never in our collective lifetime have we seen such an outpouring, so much emotional intensity, from every corner of this country. There have been occasions, historically, when we’ve seen respect and admiration but never so much love, never such a shocked sense of personal loss.
Jack was so alive, so much fun, so engaged in daily life with so much gusto, so unpretentious, that it was hard while he lived to focus on how incredibly important that was to us, he was to us. Until he was so suddenly gone, cruelly gone, at the pinnacle of his career.
To hear so many Canadians speak so open-heartedly of love, to see young and old take chalk in hand to write without embarrassment of hope, or hang banners from overpasses to express their grief and loss. It’s astonishing.
Somehow Jack connected with Canadians in a way that vanquished the cynicism that erodes our political culture. He connected whether you knew him or didn’t know him, whether you were with him or against him.
Jack simply radiated an authenticity and honesty and a commitment to his ideals that we know realize we’ve been thirsting for. He was so civil, so open, so accessible that he made politics seem so natural and good as breathing. There was no guile. That’s why everybody who knew Jack recognized that the public man and the private man were synonymous.
But it obviously goes much deeper than that. Jack, I think, tapped into a yearning, sometimes ephemeral, rarely articulated, a yearning that politics be conducted in a different way, and from that difference would emerge a better Canada.
That difference was by no means an end to rancour, an end to the abusive, vituperative practice of the political arts. The difference was also, and critically, one of policy – a fundamentally different way of viewing the future of Canada.
His remarkable letter made it absolutely clear. This was a testament written in the very throes of death that set out what Jack wanted for his caucus, for his party, for young people, for all Canadians.
Inevitably, we fastened on those last memorable lines about hope, optimism and love. But the letter was, at its heart, a manifesto for social democracy.
And if there was one word that might sum up Jack Layton’s unabashed social democratic message, it would be generosity. He wanted, in the simplest and most visceral terms, a more generous Canada. His letter embodies that generosity.
In his very last hours of life he wanted to give encouragement to others suffering from cancer. He wanted to share a larger, bolder, more decent vision of what Canada should be for all its inhabitants. He talks of social justice, health care, pensions, no one left behind, seniors, children, climate change, equality and again that defining phrase, “a more inclusive and generous Canada.”
All of that is entirely consistent with Jack’s lifelong convictions. In those early days of municipal politics in Toronto Jack took on gay and lesbian rights, HIV and AIDS, housing for the homeless, the white ribbon campaign to fight violence against women and consecrate gender equality once and for all. And of course a succession of environmental innovations, bike lanes, wind power, the Toronto atmospheric fund – and now Michael, his progressive and talented son, as councillor can carry the torch forward.
And then came his tenure as president of the Canadian Federation of Municipalities, where he showed that growing deftness of political touch in uniting municipalities of all sizes and geographic locations, winning their recognition of the preeminence of cities and the invaluable pillar of the public sector.
Jack made the leap to federal politics look easy. The same deeply held principles of social democracy that made him a superb politician at the city level, as I know, transferred brilliantly to federal politics.
And also, from the many wonderful conversations we had together, I know led him to a formidable commitment to internationalism. He was fearless in his positions once embraced. Thus, when he argued for negotiations with the Taliban to bring the carnage in Afghanistan to an end he was ridiculed but stood firm. And now it’s conventional wisdom.
I move to recall that Jack came to the New Democratic Party at the time of the imposition of the War Measures Act, when tanks rolled into the streets of Montreal and civil liberties were shredded, and when the NDP’s brave opposition brought us to our nadir in public opinion. But his convictions and his courage were intertwined – yet another reason for celebrating Jack and for understanding the pain and sadness with which his death has been received.
Above all – and his letter makes this palpably clear – Jack understood that we are headed into even more perilous economic times. He wanted Canadians to have a choice between what he described as the unfairness of an economy that excludes so many from our collective wealth, and an economy that would embrace equity, fairness, balance and creative generosity.
This was the essence of the manifesto. That’s why he insists that we’re a great country, but we can be a better one – a country of greater equality, justice and opportunity. These were not rhetorical concepts to Jack. They were the very core of his social democratic philosophy. He was prepared to do ideological battle, but as all things with Jack there was nothing impulsive or ill-considered. He would listen as he always listened – he was a great listener – he would synthesize thoughtfully as he always did, and he would choose a political route that was dignified, pragmatic and principled.
He was so proud of his caucus and what they would do to advance the agenda of social democracy. He cultivated and mentored every member of that caucus, and as the country will see, that will speak volumes in the days ahead. The victory in Quebec – and I will be followed by a eulogist in the francophone language – the victory in Quebec was an affirmation of Jack’s singular personal appeal, reinforced by Quebec’s support for progressive values shared by so many Canadians.
And his powerful belief and trust in youth to forge the grand transformation to a better world is by now legendary. Indeed, the reference to youth spawns a digression.
From time to time, Jack and I would meet in the corridors of my foundation, where his supernaturally competent daughter Sarah works, and we would invariably speak of our grandchildren. You cannot imagine – I guess you saw it in the video – the radiating joy that glowed from Jack as he talked of Sarah’s daughter, his granddaughter Beatrice, and when he said as he often said that he wanted to create a better world for Beatrice and all the other Beatrices to inherit, you instantly knew of one of his strongest and most compelling motivations.
He was a lovely, lovely man. Filled with laughter and affection and commitment. He was also mischievous and musical, possessed of normal imperfections but deeply deserving of the love you have all shown. His indelible romance with Olivia was beautiful to behold, and it sustained them both. When my wife and I met with the family a few hours after Jack died, Olivia said, as she said in the video, that we must look forward to see what we all can accomplish together.
I loved Jack’s goodness and his ideals in equal measure. Watching all of you react so genuinely to his death, the thousands upon thousands who lined up for hours to say a last goodbye in Ottawa and Toronto, it’s clear that everyone recognized how rare and precious his character was.
We’re all shaken by grief but I believe we’re slowly being steadied by a new resolve and I see that resolve in words written in chalk and in a fresh determination on people’s faces. A resolve to honour Jack by bringing the politics of respect for all, respect for the Earth and respect for principle and generosity back to life.
My wife Michele reminded me of a perfect quote from the celebrated Indian novelist, activist and feminist Arundhati Roy. Jack doubtless knew it. He might have seen it as a mantra. “Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day I can hear her breathing.” Thank you Jack.


Tar Sands Action: Jane Hamsher and 65 others arrested

Tar Sands Action
Jane and Others Jailed Till Monday, Take Action, Support the Tar Sands Sit-In
Breaking: Central Booking, Washington DC - Jane Hamsher, Lt Dan Choi and over 65 environmentalists were arrested at the Tar Sands protest.

"The President promised in 2008 that when he was elected the earth would begin to heal. Instead, he allowed 65 environmentalists to be arrested and held for two days on a charge that’s equivalent to a traffic ticket, in order to deter others from following our example.
I hope that people across the country will see through their ploy and be inspired by how many of us have backed up our beliefs with our bodies. People from all over the United States and Canada are on their way here right now to join us. Take a stand for what you believe in!"
- Jane.

Over 2,000 people, including environmental leaders, scientists, and celebrities, are expected to join the two week sit-in from August 20 – September 3rd. Bill McKibben, Mark Ruffalo, Dr. James Hansen, Lt Dan Choi and over 2,000 people from all 50 states are expected to take part in a two week sit-in at the White House beginning this Saturday, August 20, to pressure President Obama to deny the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline. The controversial 1,700 mile project would carry tar sands oil from Canada to the US and has become the most important environmental decision facing President Obama before the 2012 election.

Sit-ins with approximately 100 people will continue every morning for the following two weeks until September 3. A calendar of featured spokespeople and delegations from across the country is listed at

“President Obama can stop this climate killing disaster with the stroke of a pen,” said environmentalist and author Bill McKibben, who is spearheading the protests. “We will be outside the White House hoping we can inspire the president to live up to the promises that so inspired us in his 2008 campaign. And without Congress in the way, this is the clearest test he’ll ever have.”

What: A sit-in at the White House to kick off two-weeks of daily protest until September 3.
Where: Lafeyette Square Park, facing the White House, before marching over to the White House fence.

Step Up, Speak Out, and Stop the Tar Sands Keystone XL pipeline.


COC: TransCanada admits Keystone Pipeline could be used for bulk water removals

[16-Aug-11] TransCanada admits Keystone Pipeline could be used for bulk water removals
The Council of Canadians and Food & Water Watch are sounding the alarm over TransCanada’s speculation that the Keystone Pipeline could potentially be used for bulk water removals from the Ogallala aquifer.

TransCanada pipelines operations director Jim Krause testified at the Nebraska state assembly earlier this year that the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline could be used in the future to mine or transport water, potentially from the Ogallala aquifer. Krause is quoted as testifying that, if approved, the pipeline would only be decommissioned “if the pipeline is not needed for oil somewhere down the road and there is no other use for any other product to go through that pipe, let's say gasoline, or maybe by that time in the future, water” [emphasis added]. The Council of Canadians and Food & Water Watch say this adds to a growing list of concerns regarding the pipeline project, which threatens to contaminate the Ogallala – one of the world’s largest supplies of freshwater.

“This revelation further confirms the need for the Keystone Pipeline to be stopped,” says Maude Barlow, chairperson of the Council of Canadians and Food & Water Watch. “TransCanada is showing us just how deeply interconnected the water and climate crises are by trying to dramatically expand the tar sands, the fastest growing source of climate change pollution in Canada, while seeking to profit from water shortages caused by climate change.”

“It’s widely recognized that the Ogallala, which serves as the breadbasket of the U.S., is already in dire straits. The fact that pipeline proponents are already considering using the Keystone pipeline for water proves just how irresponsible this project is in its entirety,” says Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director of Food & Water Watch.

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has noted that it is not a question of if, but when, the Ogallala aquifer will run dry. David Brauer from the Ogallala Research Service – a branch of the USDA - has been quoted in media reports that “The Ogallala supply is going to run out and the Plains will become uneconomical to farm. That is beyond reasonable argument. Our goal now is to engineer a soft landing. That's all we can do.”

Barlow will represent the Council and Food & Water Watch in Washington, DC at the end of the month to support what is being called the largest collective act of civil disobedience in the history of the climate change movement. Over 2000 people have committed to participate in a daily series of peaceful protests from August 20 to Sept 3rd, which for some participants will involve risking arrest, aimed at discouraging President Obama from approving the Keystone pipeline.


Tar sands actions: The Plan to Stop Obama From Letting the World's Dirtiest Oil Project Run Through the US

Guardian: The Plan to Stop Obama From Letting the World's Dirtiest Oil Project Run Through the US
The Obama administration is being intensely lobbied to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, but our campaign will match that.

From 20 August to 3 September, a wildly diverse range of protesters – Nebraskan ranchers and teachers from Wisconsin, Texan landowners and indigenous leaders in Canada, some of the country's top scientists and a few celebrities – will descend on the White House for a series of enormous sit-ins. Their demand: that President Obama deny a permit for a pipeline that would further hook the United States to the Albertan tar sands, the world's dirtiest oil.

TransCanada's 1,700-mile Keystone XL pipeline will carry as many as 1.1m barrels of crude a day to the Gulf of Mexico. It will cut through the sensitive heartland of the country. It will massively enrich big corporations. And it is certain to spill: the only question is when and how often and with what kind of human and environmental toll.They are up against a Canadian government that has become the foreign branch of the tar sands industry. It is scrambling to beat back the resistance – what officials describe in internal documents as a "ferocious attack by the US environmental movement". TransCanada has hired George Bush's former ambassador to Canada as a lobbyist, alongside Secretary of State Clinton's former deputy campaign director. Last week, Canada's foreign and natural resource ministers were dispatched to Washington to remind Clinton of their service to US "energy security" – the idea that the US can safely suck Canada's oil, instead of unfriendly Venezuela's or the unstable Middle East's.

Avaaz - EU: Sanction Syrian Oil Now!

Avaaz - EU: Sanction Syrian Oil Now!
For months, Syria's brutal President Assad has paid henchmen to wage war on his own people. Governments across the world have condemned these atrocities, but key European leaders could cut off the cash flow that finances this bloodbath.

Germany, France and Italy are the three main importers of Syrian oil. If they move to impose immediate EU sanctions, Assad's slaughter funds will dry up. Assad has ignored political appeals for him to rein in his assault, and EU leaders have discussed ramping up sanctions, but only a massive global outcry will push them to act urgently.

The EU can stop funding the crackdown now. Click below to sign the petition to EU heads of state to immediately adopt oil sanctions on Syria:

We have all watched and read about the horrific violence in Syria -- much of the coverage coming from Avaaz-supported citizen journalists who are risking their lives to report on Assad's crackdown. And now we have a chance to turn our horror into action. Experts say EU oil sanctions will seriously disrupt cash flow to Assad's cruel army without significant negative consequences to either the European economy or the Syrian people.

Almost all Syria’s exported oil is purchased and refined by Germany, France and Italy, but these governments have yet to use their key trade relationship with Assad as leverage to protect the Syrian people. Still, they have denounced the violence, and newspapers report that some EU leaders are already pushing for oil sanctions. Let’s demand that they ramp up the pressure and push through oil sanctions immediately and cut the engine of Assad’s murderous regime.

Avaaz members have played a crucial role in supporting Syrians in their demands for freedom, democracy and human rights. Much of the footage and information shown around the world is funded by small donations from Avaaz members worldwide.

Tweetup On The Horn Of Africa | WFP | UNFP 1pm Aug 11, EST

Tweetup On The Horn Of Africa | WFP | UNFP - Fighting Hunger Worldwide

WFP is hosting a tweetup on the situation in the horn of Africa on Thursday, August 11 at 1:00pm ET. Five staff members currently in the region will be answering your questions and talking about what it’s like to be on the frontlines of an escalating hunger crisis. Join the conversation at
Join the conversation at #HoACrisis

Get on twitter for a live update on the situation in the Horn of Africa from WFP staff members on the ground. To follow the conversation, simply do a search for the hashtag #HoACrisis. If you have a question or want to contribute, make sure to include #HoACrisis in your tweet so the other participants will see it.

We want to get as many people involved in this conversation as possible. You can help us by letting your followers know it's happening. To make it simple, we've provided you with a sample tweet that you can post just by clicking on the link below.

CEH: Monsanta moves on to GMO corn for humans

CEH Get Pesticide-Ridden Corn Off Your Dinner Plate
Surveys over the past decade have consistently shown that Americans don’t want to eat genetically engineered (GE or GMO) food. Despite the overwhelming opposition to this risky new food technology, the biotech giant Monsanto continues to impose its unlabeled GMO’s onto our dinner plates.

The latest: Monsanto’s new GMO corn, intended for the frozen and/or canned corn market. This experimental corn will not be labeled, so consumers cannot know when they may be eating a GMO food that contains a toxic pesticide in every bite.

Major companies that make frozen and/or canned corn can take action to avoid Monsanto’s new crop. We need tell Del Monte, General Mills (Green Giant), Bird’s Eye and other major food makers to reject this new GMO corn. Take action today! Send food makers a message that we don’t want Monsanto’s food experiments!




(this is a semi-regular report of briefings from the IHEU ngo at the UN)

An important current issue in studying population demographics is how well can our world adapt to 3 billion additional people? The recent UN biennial population report projects the worlds population, currently at 7 billion, to rise to 10 billion by the end of the century. It goes without saying, that the additional  people will be from the  poorest countries least able to cope with providing the basics; water, food, housing and health services.

The engine of demographic change is the fertility rate, i.e.,  the number of children a women can expect to have during their lifetime. Fertility rates have been declining everywhere. The previous 2008 projection estimated the world's population to stabilize at 9 billion. In the poorest countries, with high fertility rates, the decline was slower than  expected. This is due, in part, because the African governments did almost nothing to teach or support family planning.The increase in population in some of these countries is enormous. In Mali, for example, a population of 16 million is estimated to go up to 20 million in 2030. Malawi, a country of 15 million today could grow to 37 million.

In order for populations to stabilize,  the fertility rate must fall below the  "replacement rate " of 2 at which the population reproduces itself. Many developed countries like Japan and in Europe are well below the replacement level and are in fact losing population, which can also create problems.

A vital point is that small variations in fertility can produce major differences in the size of populations over the long run. For example, if women, on average,have either half a child more or half a child less, the population projected for 2100 rises to 16 billion or falls to 6 billion. The fact that small differences in fertility have large demographic consequences underscores the critical importance of current actions for the future of the world's population. The demographic future is not written in stone nor is demography destiny. Of vital importance is:  How we handle these serious issue now?

The key to stabilizing the world's population lies in in the condition and status of women. Family planning and the empowerment of women is important and can be tremendously helped by locally educated women who teach the importance of  family planning, and the ultimate outcome of such teaching in terms of human rights and social justice. The teachings are essential.

Women must be allowed to have the children they want since it is part of their cultural heritage. However, preventing unintended pregnancies will reduce maternal death by 25 percent and save the lives of 150,000 women and girls each year. Girls who go to school marry later and often since they marry later have fewer and  healthier children. Presently, 200 million women wordwide want and need contraception but lack access to family planning services. This is due to the unavailability of local educated women who are currently teaching women how to avoid pregnancy (e.g., intercourse just before and after menstruation is generally a safe period) Since the burden of contraception currently  lies solely with women, the current medical development in China of a male contraceptive is attracting a great deal of attention. According to UN statistics three-quarters of married  American women use modern contraceptive, a mere seven percent do so in Central Africa.

A perennial question is the ability of the planet to support a rising population.Is there enough food, water, and resources ? Can the earth cope with increased environmental stress? The environmental impact of the current western life style with their high energy use as well as their ecological footprint is much larger in rich countries than in poor countries. The issue here is not population but consumption patterns, the need to reduce our impact on the planet.  An example, is food availability. Currently, there is enough food to feed everyone. In the 2009-2010 crop year the current grain production could feed 11 million people. Still, nearly one billion are chronically hungry. Why? One third of grain is consumed by domestic animals. More than one sixth goes into industrial products like biofuel. Less than half of the world cereal production feeds humans.There is also rising food prices and speculation which is difficult for the poor. The world chooses to feed its machines and domestic animals before it feeds its people.

Dr. Joel Cohen, a professor of population biology has spent decades exploring the issue of how the earth can carry the current capacity. He concludes that the question can not be answered with current knowledge. It depends on what kind of life style we choose and want and importantly on the possibilities of scientific and technological innovations. For example, in the past food production was greatly increased with the green revolution. In the future genetically modified food may play an important role. Dr. Cohen looked at the many estimates of the earth's carrying capacity. Many of them were in the range of 8 to 16 billion. The uncertainties of climate change and scientific discoveries may change all that. The number of people does matter but how people consume and use resources matters more. A major challenge for the future is to drastically improve the condition of women, raise the consciousness of men, get more people out of poverty and reduce our impact on the planet. Here are causes we as humanists should rally around.

Dr. Sylvain  Ehrenfeld  International Humanist and Ethical Union and the National Ethical Service of the American Ethical Union representative to  the UN and  Dr. Reba Goodman, member Ethical Culture Society and Professor in the  Department of Pathology at Columbia University in NYC , NY.


Stop the Tar Sands Pipeline! Save Our Songbird!s

Stop the Pipeline! Save Our Songbirds! - The Petition Site
President Obama has called for a clean energy future. But his State Department is rushing toward approval of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, which would boost oil company profits by transporting the world's dirtiest oil from Canada to Texas. The pipeline will drive more destruction of songbird habitat in the Boreal forest and threaten the drinking water of millions of Americans.

President Obama promised the American people a "robust review" of the pipeline, but his State Department has not delivered it. Instead, it has sided with the oil giants by refusing to study the real environmental and economic costs of this disaster-in-the-making. 

(well, its important to attack the Tar Sands from as many directions as possible...)


Deaths in Syria Too Brutal for UN Council to Stay Silent

Evelyn Leopold: Deaths in Syria Too Brutal for UN Council to Stay Silent
As the Syrian military killed more and more people, all 15 members of the U.N. Security Council for the first time condemned the government's use of force against civilians and its gross violations of human rights.
In a policy statement (see text), the Council called President Bashar al-Assad's government to allow international humanitarian agencies to visit the affected towns and cooperate with the U.N. human rights commissioner.
For weeks, the European members of the Council, backed by the United States, had been pushing for a resolution condemning the violence that would have condemned "arbitrary detentions, disappearances, and torture of peaceful demonstrators, human rights defenders and journalists by the Syrian authorities." But Russia, an ally of Syria, wanted no Council intervention of any kind. It was supported by China, which also has veto power in the Council, as well as India, Brazil and South Africa.

Then came the latest reprisals in Hama, the fourth largest city in Syria. About 150 people were reported killed over the weekend and an estimated 1,600 are presumed dead and 12,000 have been arrested since the uprising began four months ago, diplomats said (after closed-door briefings to the Security Council on Monday by Oscar Fernandez-Taranco, the UN assistant secretary-general for political affairs.)...

While Juan Cole says:

Toothless UNSC Condemnation of Syria shows Russian, Chinese Clout

Posted on 08/04/2011 by Juan The United Nations Security Council on Wednesday issued a “presidential statement,” one step below a resolution, chiding the Syrian government for its violent repression of protests (but also condemning violence by the protesters, which is a little like complaining that Jack the Ripper’s victims tried to scratch him with their fingernails). The statement was hailed as a turning point by French foreign minister Alain Juppe, and defended as an important step forward by US ambassador to the UN Susan Rice.
Diplomacy is the art of the possible, and one understands Juppe’s and Rice’s emphasis on the achievement here. But the statement contained no sanctions. So it was toothless. Russia and China are running interference for the Baath regime of Bashar al-Asad, and there is no prospect of them allowing UNSC sanctions on Damascus. So not only does the statement not contain any practical steps, it is unlikely to be followed by any resolution more decisive or robust...

Still, the various positions on Syria in the Russian government are diverse, and some, at least, are taking a genuinely post-Soviet line, condemning the Syrian government’s violence in no uncertain terms.
The Open Source Center translated remarks of Mikhail Margelov, the special envoy for Africa of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, which show a high level of ethical commitment and clear, analytical thinking about Syria:..

The USG Open Source Center translates remarks of Russian UN ambassador Vitaliy Churkin on the Syrian crisis:  Churkin does not admit the right of Syrians to peaceably assemble for protests, perceives them as violent attackers of the Baath Party status quo, and urges that they negotiate with the government that has mown down some 2000 of them and rolled tanks against them. The old Soviet Union was a major patron of Syria, and the present Russian Federation appears to be interested in picking Syria back up as a client.

World action on the Syrian regime’s crimes depends very much on whether it is Churkin or Margelov who wins the argument inside Moscow.

Avaaz -UN: Broker a deal to STOP SOMALIA'S TRAGEDY

Right now, more than 2000 people are dying every day in Somalia, in a famine that threatens to starve eleven million people to death. Drought has brought this region to its knees, but the food crisis is really fueled by a complete breakdown in governance and international diplomacy, and we can put an end to it.

The famine-hit area is governed by Al-Shabaab, an Islamist regime that is linked to terrorist groups. The isolation and conflict between Al-Shabaab, other local leaders, and the international community has kept out much of the aid and trade that could end the famine. But a few key countries, including the United Arab Emirates, still trade with Al-Shabaab -- they have an opportunity to broker a deal with the regime and break the stalemate that threatens the survival of millions.

We cannot let the politics of the war on terror claim any more innocent lives. It's time for the international community and Al-Shabaab to come to an agreement to immediately get food to the suffering Somali people. The UN Security Council is meeting in a few days -- let's demand that they take immediate action to support key Arab nations in an effort to open talks with Al-Shabaab on cooperating to end the famine and seize this chance for a long-term political solution.

Click here to sign the petition!


Crisis at Guantanamo: Call Your Senators Now - Amnesty International

Crisis at Guantanamo: Call Your Senators Now - Amnesty International USA

The Senate is expected to vote in early September on legislation -- the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 (H.R. 1540) -- that includes provisions that would keep Guantanamo open indefinitely. The House of Representatives has already passed this legislation. We need you to call your two Senators right now and urge them to take a stand against Guantanamo.
This isn't just about the human rights of detainees -- it's also about upholding our own rights to due process of law, to fair trials and to freedom from torture.
Please call the Congressional switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask for your Senators, or look up your Senators' direct phone lines here. Make your calls, then let us know that you called!
Here are some ideas of what to say:
  • My name is __________ and I live in the state of ________.
  • I am calling to urge the Senator to oppose provisions in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 (H.R. 1540) that would keep Guantanamo open.
  • The Guantanamo detention facility must be closed. Indefinite detention and military commissions must end.
  • Detainees must either be charged and fairly tried in US federal courts, or be released to countries where their human rights will be respected.
  • The US government must ensure security with human rights.

Emails Show White House Promotes Genetically Engineered Crops in Wildlife Refuges

Emails Show White House Promotes Genetically Engineered Crops in Wildlife Refuges by: Mike Ludwig, Truthout | Report

For years, the Fish and Wildlife Service has allowed farming on national wildlife refuges for the purpose of habitat restoration.The agency claims farming helps develop native grasslands and provides food for wildlife. (But it appears)the Obama administration is supporting genetically engineered (GE) agriculture in more than 50 national wildlife refuges across the country and watchdog groups say internal emails among top administration officials reveal that the GE plots are a priority in the White House.

Earlier this year, a settlement in a lawsuit filed by the watchdog group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) and its allies halted the planting of GE crops in US Fish and Wildlife Service wildlife refuges in northeastern states. Now PEER claims the Obama administration is working with the biotech lobby to shield GE plots in refuges from future legal challenges.

A January 10, 2011 email obtained by PEER reveals that biotech lobbyist Adrianne Massey contacted Peter Schmeissner, the senior policy analyst for the White House Office of Science and Technology, about the legal challenge to GE crop plantings in northeastern refuges. Massey, who has made a career [3] out of promoting biotechnology across the world, promotes the public policy of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), a lobby funded by Monsanto and other biotech firms.

The Obama administration recently created the White House Agricultural Biotechnology Working Group and GE crop opponents claim the interagency group has teamed up with BIO to boost exports of GE crops to countries that have grown leery of America's increasingly transgenic food supply.

Massey also emailed Schmeissner about legally mandated environmental assessments of GE crops in wildlife refuges. PEER contends the emails are evidence of "collusion" between the Obama administration and the biotech lobby, but it remains unclear how much sway BIO actually holds within the administration. The Office of Science and Technology did not respond to an inquiry from Truthout.

The biotechnology working group features top-level officials from almost every agency under the Obama administration involved in agricultural trade and beyond, including the State Department, the Justice Department, the Office of Budget and Management, the Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Other internal emails reveal that Schmeissner asked top officials in the working group to comment on new environmental assessments of GE crop plantings in refuges across the country. The mandatory assessment can help the government defend the GE crop plantings from legal challenges. So. how did tiny parcels GE crops in wildlife refuges become a priority for top White House officials?

Deborah Rocque, a top official for the wildlife refuge system, told Truthout that GE crops 'restore habitats in ways that conventional crops cannot'. Crops that are genetically engineered to tolerate herbicide (such as Monsanto's Roundup Ready corn and soy) provide beneficial ground cover and the herbicides can be sprayed across entire fields, killing only unwanted weeds, but sparring the GE crops.

Conservationists can debate whether blanketing parcels of wildlife refuges with GE crops and plant-killing chemicals is sound land management practice or an ecologically dangerous experiment, but PEER believes that BIO and the Obama administration are not interested in habitat restoration.

"The White House is engaging in a joint effort with Monsanto ... and as we understand it, it's part of a White House pledge to double exports," said PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch. The US has had trouble in recent years exporting GE crops to Europe, where many consumers are skeptical about GE foods and some countries mandate that foods containing GE ingredient must be labeled. Now that more than 90 percent of corn and soy grown in America is GE, the government has a vested interest in promoting the acceptance of GE crops in other countries.


Green groups appeal Alberta power plant ruling

Green groups appeal Alberta power plant ruling
Environmental groups have launched a court action against Alberta's utility regulator, arguing it fast-tracked its approval of a coal-fired power plant so the operator could avoid upcoming carbon regulations.

Ecojustice and the Pembina Institute said on Tuesday they seek to appeal the Alberta Utilities Commission's June 30 interim decision granting Maxim Power Corp approval to build a 500-megawatt generating unit near Grand Cache in western Alberta.

The green groups said they aim to show the commission rushed its decision without considering all the evidence, as it did not conduct a public hearing.

It pointed out the AUC granted Maxim's request to get the green light by June 30, the latest date allowing the plant to be built by July 1, 2015. The company had said it received assurances from the federal environment minister that it could avoid new carbon rules if the plant was built by then.

'It's as if getting this project approved in advance of the federal coal regulations is somehow in the public interest,' said Chris Severson-Baker, Pembina's managing director.

'It's really bizarre, not even having a hearing, not granting standing to appear before the AUC to groups like the Pembina Institute who have been working on these issues regarding coal-fired power plants for decades.'