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.


Amnesty USA: Don't let Congress legislate torture or keep Guantanamo open

Take Action Now - Amnesty International USA
Our Senators are on the verge of passing legislation -- the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA, S. 1253) -- with provisions that would essentially keep Guantanamo open indefinitely, despite President Obama's executive order to close it.

If that weren't bad enough, Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) may introduce a provision that would bring back "enhanced interrogation techniques" -- which means torture.

The US Senate is poised to pass legislation containing provisions that would keep Guantanamo open, further entrenching indefinite detention and unfair trials. The Senate could vote at any time. To make matters worse, Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) may introduce a provision that would enshrine “enhanced interrogation techniques”--that’s right, torture—in US law. The implications are staggering. We can’t let any of these provisions pass. Urge Senators Harry Reid (D-NV) and Carl Levin (D-MI), to use their influence to block any such provisions and take a stand for human rights and the rule of law.


Council says Niagara Falls fracking plans threaten Toronto’s drinking water

NEWS: Council says Niagara Falls fracking plans threaten Toronto’s drinking water
The Toronto Star reports, “Toronto’s drinking water could be at risk due to a recent proposal to treat toxic waste at a plant on the New York side of Lake Ontario. The Niagara Falls Water Board is exploring the possibility of treating excess fluid from fracking in the Adirondacks. The chemical-laden liquid would be transported to an existing waste water plant (in Niagara Falls, New York) along the shores of Lake Ontario, home to an expansive ecosystem and the source of drinking water for more than 9 million people. …The Council of Canadians issued a letter to the board on Thursday, suggesting waste water facilities are rarely able to fully decontaminate fracking fluid.”

The CBC adds, “The Council of Canadians has written to the board, expressing concerns that fracking water will end up flowing into Lake Ontario via the Niagara River.

....Though not noted in this CBC new report, we know that Toronto mayor Rob Ford told the reporter that the proposed treatment of fracking fluids at the wastewater plant in Niagara Falls, NY would not affect Toronto because the Niagara River flows south away from Lake Ontario. Council of Canadians Great Lakes campaigner Emma Lui highlighted to the reporter that, in fact, the Niagara River flows north into Lake Ontario!


Eight Nobel Peace Laureates call on Harper to take action on the tar sands

UPDATE: Eight Nobel Peace Laureates call on Harper to take action on the tar sands
“Eight Nobel Peace Laureates - including Archbishop Desmond Tutu (South Africa), Jody Williams (USA), President Ramos Horta (Timor) and Shirin Ebadi (Iran) - today sent a letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper calling on him to ensure that Canada moves towards a clean energy future—and halts the expansion of the tar sands. …The letter comes two days after Canadians from across the country gathered on Parliament Hill in Ottawa to risk arrest in an act of nonviolent civil disobedience to protest the rapid expansion of the tar sands and Prime Minister Harper’s inaction on climate change. The Laureates recognize the power of peaceful civil disobedience in advancing many of the great moral challenges in human history.”

Bolivia: Stop the Amazon Highway

Avaaz - Bolivia: Stop the Amazon Highway
On Sunday, Bolivian police used tear gas and truncheons to crack down on indigenous men, women and children who are marching against an illegal mega-highway that will slice through the protected Amazon rainforest.

72 hours later, the country is in crisis -- two key Ministers have resigned, Bolivians are erupting in street protests across the country, and President Evo Morales has been forced to temporarily suspend the highway construction. But powerful multinationals are already divvying up this important nature preserve. Now, only if the world stands with these brave indigenous people can we ensure the highway is rerouted and the forest is protected.

Avaaz just delivered a 115,000 strong Bolivian and Latin American emergency petition to two senior government Ministers -- they are worried about massive public pressure and are on the back foot. Now after this brutal violence let's ramp up the pressure and raise a global alarm to end the crackdown and stop the highway. Sign the urgent petition -- it will be delivered spectacularly to President Evo Morales when we reach 500,000.


Gordon Pinsent And The Oil Sands: Elder Statesman Of Canadian Theatre Throws His Weight Behind Protests

Gordon Pinsent And The Oil Sands: Elder Statesman Of Canadian Theatre Throws His Weight Behind Protests
Gordon Pinsent is the latest Canadian celebrity to endorse the protest against the oil sands planned for Parliament Hill on Monday.

Canada’s elder statesman of theatre spoke out on Thursday in opposition to the oil sands, which have come under increasing scrutiny in recent weeks following well-publicized protests in Washington over the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline.

“I can't think of anything -- here, now, or in our future -- that would rank above the tar sands for sheer, blind, stupidity,” Pinsent said in a press release by Greenpeace Canada, one of several organizations behind the protest. “The dangerous minds who are heralding the tar sands as an answer of any kind to our betterment need to be shut down with such positive action as to cancel any possible recurrence.”

Musician Dave Bidini and member of the Order of Canada Tantoo Cardinal -- the first Canadian indigenous celebrity to pledge to be in attendance at the Ottawa event -- are other recent additions to the small but apparently growing list of Canadian celebrities that have lent their support to the action. Dave Thomas of SCTV fame, as well as Graham Greene, Mia Kirshner and Kate Vernon have also given their stamp of approval to the protest.

Gagging the Gag Rule for Good

Gagging the Gag Rule for Good
Written by Mimi Seidner, a Ms. Magazine blogger
In three years, one of the most volatile on-and-off-again relationships in American history will celebrate its 30th anniversary: that of the Global Gag Rule and U.S. global policy. But if Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) can convince her Senate colleagues, the gag rule might not live to receive its pearls.
The rule (also known as the Mexico City Policy) was instated through executive order by President Ronald Reagan in 1984, prohibiting NGOs who depend on U.S. international family planning funding from providing information about abortion services; referring patients to safe, clean, legal facilities for abortions; or simply mentioning abortion services, even as an option in countries where abortions are legal. It has been estimated to have led to the deaths of thousands of women who sought illegal, unsafe abortions because that was the only choice they had.
Sen. Boxer, along with Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) and fifteen other colleagues, has reintroduced the Global Democracy Promotion Act to permanently repeal the Global Gag Rule, preventing future executive orders from reinstating it. This permanence is needed because the gag rule is a political football, rescinded by President Bill Clinton, reinstated by President George W. Bush, repealed again by President Barack Obama and now up for both reinstatement and permanent repeal.

Sen. Boxer has pointed out that,
If the Global Gag Rule were applied in the United States, it would violate the First Amendment because it restricts what organizations can do or say with their own funds. Ending this undemocratic policy is long overdue.
Permanently ending the Global Gag Rule would save NGOs the heartbreak of choosing between accepting American family planning assistance under draconian anti-abortion restrictions or limiting vital services, cutting staff and ultimately closing clinics. It would also save women’s lives.

Tar Sands action in Ottawa today

More than 1,000 people are on Parliament Hill this morning to deliver a message to the Harper government - the destruction caused by the tar sands to the First Nations, the climate and water must stop.

More than 180 people - in groupings of 32 waves - are now preparing to soon peacefully cross a police barricade in front of the Centre Block in an attempt to take this message - through a sit-in - to the foyer near the House of Commons.

A powerful rally is now taking place with First Nations leaders, CEP president Dave Coles, Tony Clarke, and numerous others speaking.

Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow will be speaking momentarily. Barlow will also be in the first wave of activists to pass over the fence.


New UN Human Rights Logo unveiled

Human Rights Logo Unveiled

The first ever logo for human rights was unveiled Friday night, at an event in New York hosted by the global charity organization, Cinema for Peace. The logo aims to become a universally recognized symbol for the promotion and implementation of human rights around the world. It comes at an important time, as millions of citizens in the Middle East and around the world are struggling against oppressive regimes and myriad human rights violations.

In a presentation introducing the logo for the first time, news anchor Ann Curry explained the concept of the logo, stating, "If symbols are a way to communicate what we value most, it is time for a symbol for human rights." The new design, which brings to mind both a human hand and a bird in flight, was created by Serbian designer Predrag Stakic. Stakic's logo was the winner of an online contest, and was chosen from overwhelming pool of 15,000 entries which were submitted by designers in 190 countries.

The field of entries was narrowed down to 10 finalists by a panel of judges that included some of the world's most important leaders and human rights defenders. Nobel Peace Prize Laureates Aung San Suu Kyi, Jimmy Carter, Muhammed Yunus, Mikhail Gorbachev and Shirin Ebadi, as well as Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, Cambodian human rights activist Somaly Mam, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, Columbian musician Juanes and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navanathem Pillay all voted for the new human rights logo, which they hope will some day be a globally understood symbol of hope. When asked about the project, and its impressive jury, Human Rights Logo supporter and CEO of United Internet Media, Matthias Ehrlich said, "The jury reflects the diversity of the world, with people representing nearly every continent. Most importantly, they are people who are engaged in the human rights movement, meaning that the movement itself is choosing its symbol."

In a video message to those gathered at the presentation, Burmese opposition politician and human rights icon, Aung San Suu Kyi said, "I look forward to the time when this logo will be seen all over the world, from the smallest towns to the biggest cities. I hope that little children and babies will see it and it will be a sign of happiness, peace and security to them."

Also in attendance were Leila and Manoubia Bouazizi, sister and mother of Mohamed Bouazizi, the man who inspired the Arab Spring by committing suicide by self-immolation in January of 2011. The assembled audience was moved as the pair spoke of his life and the repercussions of his death. Through a translator, his sister Leila Bouazizi expressed solidarity with the revolutions taking place across the Arab world, and called upon human rights leaders to stand with those who had sacrificed themselves for freedom, justice and dignity - the ideals of the Arab Spring.

As citizens around the world protest and make sacrifices for the ideals Leila Bouazizi spoke of, they will have one new tool in their arsenal, a symbol that demands human rights for everyone, in every language.

The Humanist Case against Capital Punishment | Center for Inquiry

The Humanist Case against Capital Punishment | CFI Amherst
Humanism cannot support the death penalty.

Humanism stands for a social ethics of equality, individual human rights, justice for everyone, and government that defend their citizens.

Death penalty supporters appeal to these principles, too. But they narrowly interpret them to justify government killings, and they coldly apply them to the weakest among us. The pro-death side behaves as if some people’s value is higher than others, the rights of the victim outweigh the rights of the accused, the desire for retribution should dictate just punishment, and that the government needn’t defend everyone equally.

The pro-death camp will admit that trials can deliver wrong verdicts. There’s no way to ignore how many defendants get poor legal counsel, and how death-row inmates can be proven innocent on fresh evidence. Yet pro-deathers prefer a criminal system that kills all the murderous guilty along with some innocents over a criminal system that might let a single guilty murderer escape death. The rights of the victims far outweigh the rights of the accused, in their estimation. The blood of the victim on the ground cries out for retribution -- any retribution available -- and the government’s overriding duty becomes the delivery of that retribution.

Dominated by that vengeful spirit, the criminal justice system encourages prosecutors to chase a conviction of whoever they can, rather than the truly guilty; it distracts jurors from the lofty standard of reasonable doubt; and it lets supervisory courts forget their supreme duty of justice for all. In that heated atmosphere of swift vengeance, the criminal “justice” system mostly executes the poor, the disadvantaged, and racial minorities. Evidently, the pro-death camp is satisfied with a system that can’t value some lives as much as others.

Pro-deathers should broaden their principles. Governments exist not merely to deliver criminal justice, but to protect and defend the lives and rights of everyone. When a government executes an innocent person, it violates the ultimate justification for its own existence. The death penalty permits the government to mutate into a loathsome tyrant over its own people, rather than its protector. Other punishment options, especially the life sentence without parole, are sufficient to protect the population and signal disapproval of murder.

Pro-deathers should look inside to ponder this drive to vengeance toward other human beings. The pro-death argument exalts death-retribution as an exemplary valuing of human life. Humanism replies that the rational way to respect human life is to stop killing people. The pro-death side fears weakness in the face of violence against society. Humanism replies that the true strength of a society lies in its commitment to social justice. Pro-deathers are quick to judge who should die and who should live, as if they were a god. Would they want to be on the receiving end of an all-too-human system passing judgment on them?

Humanism stands for valuing the lives of all, individual human rights, justice for everyone, and governments that defend all of their people. These grounds alone are sufficient for abolishing the death penalty. Humanism also stands for elevating human dignity and pursuing the nobler virtues of common humanity. Even if some perfected criminal system could execute only the truly guilty, such murderous machinery is still unworthy of us. Any institution that still encourages vengeance and retribution over equal social justice and protection of everyone is a decrepit perversion of civilization.

Humanism looks forward to a time when society consistently respects humane virtues. But a day of execution is day of sadness and shame. May we have mercy on us all.


Death Penalty Links | Amnesty International USA

Death Penalty Links | Amnesty International USA
Here are the US State organizations working to ban the Death Penalty. Get local....

The State-Sanctioned Killing of Troy Davis

The State-Sanctioned Killing of Troy Davis
from TalkLeft - a long running site from a practicing lawyer on politics and legal matters in the US.
The article clarifies the sense of abandonment of all judicial principles in the spirit of 'revenge'.

...The murder of Troy Davis, defenders of the act will say, provided closure to the family of Officer MacPhail, whom Davis was convicted of killing with, as people have been repeating for the past week, “too much doubt.” If Davis is not the killer, the family has no closure. The person who really committed the crime is still on the loose. Putting Davis to death just gave the MacPhails and others a reason to move on and abandon a quest for legalized vengeance. And, so, what society and citizens who have no problem with this atrocity are in effect saying is as long as someone can be found to be cast as the convict and as long as the state can carry out the death sentence to the end result, which involves state-sanctioned murder, justice will be done.


GMOS: Super Weeds Pose Growing Threat to U.S. Crops

Super Weeds Pose Growing Threat to U.S. Crops | Common Dreams
Published on Tuesday, September 20, 2011 by Reuters by Carey Gillam
PAOLA, Kansas - Farmer Mark Nelson bends down and yanks a four-foot-tall weed from his northeast Kansas soybean field. The "waterhemp" towers above his beans, sucking up the soil moisture and nutrients his beans need to grow well and reducing the ultimate yield. As he crumples the flowering end of the weed in his hand, Nelson grimaces.
"We are at a disturbing juncture," said Margaret Mellon, director of the food and environment program at the Union of Concerned Scientists. "The use of toxic chemicals in agriculture is skyrocketing. This is not the path to sustainability." "When we harvest this field, these waterhemp seeds will spread all over kingdom come," he said.
Nelson's struggle to control crop-choking weeds is being repeated all over America's farmland. An estimated 11 million acres are infested with "super weeds," some of which grow several inches in a day and defy even multiple dousings of the world's top-selling herbicide, Roundup, whose active ingredient is glyphosate. The problem's gradual emergence has masked its growing menace. Now, however, it is becoming too big to ignore. The super weeds boost costs and cut crop yields for U.S. farmers starting their fall harvest this month. And their use of more herbicides to fight the weeds is sparking environmental concerns.
With food prices near record highs and a growing population straining global grain supplies, the world cannot afford diminished crop production, nor added environmental problems. "I'm convinced that this is a big problem," said Dave Mortensen, professor of weed and applied plant ecology at Penn State University, who has been helping lobby members of Congress about the implications of weed resistance.
"Most of the public doesn't know because the industry is calling the shots on how this should be spun," Mortensen said.
Last month, representatives from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Agriculture and the Weed Science Society of America toured the Midwest crop belt to see for themselves the impact of rising weed resistance. "It is only going to get worse," said Lee Van Wychen, director of science policy at the Weed Science Society of America.

Watch for ‘Pipe Dreams’ documentary on Keystone XL

‘Pipe Dreams’ documentary on Keystone XL
Not sure when/where it will air - keep your eyes peeled (or your GoogleAlert)

Pipe Dreams is a new 40-minute documentary by Leslie Iwerks on the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. It is narrated by Daryl Hannah, who was recently arrested in Washington, DC at the sit-in protest in front of the White House calling on US President Barack Obama to reject the pipeline.

You may remember Iwerks also directed Dirty Oil. “Narrated by actress Neve Campbell, this feature film follows pipelines from the Alberta oil sands to the American Midwest to witness how U.S. refineries, much like their Canadian counterparts, try to increase toxic dumping into the Great Lakes. These disturbing stories profoundly illustrate the price dirty oil is taking on both sides of the border.”

She also directed its prequel Downstream. “Shortlisted for the 81st Academy Awards, this 30-minute prequel documentary generated a media storm about the Alberta Oil Sands and got the Canadian government hot under the collar. Dirty Oil builds upon Downstream, exploring in full our addiction to oil - and offering hope for the future.” Downstream prominently features Dr. John O’Connor - now a Council of Canadians Board member - the Fort Chipewyan community physician who first raised concerns about cancer rates there.

For more, please go to and
For more on Council of Canadians opposition to Keystone XL, go to


Amnesty International for Troy Davis

Take Action Now - Amnesty International USA
Troy Davis is set to be executed by the state of Georgia on September 21st for a crime he may not have committed.
Georgia's District Attorney Larry Chisolm has the power to stop this injustice, but has so far failed to intervene. His inaction leaves Troy’s fate to be decided by the Georgia Board of Pardons & Paroles, who will hold a clemency hearing on Monday, September 19.
Davis was convicted on the basis of witness testimony – seven of the nine original witnesses have since recanted or changed their testimony. Troy has survived three previous execution dates, because people like you kept the justice system in check! Let Georgia authorities know you oppose the death penalty for Troy Davis!
NOTE: Due to high volume of supporters, please keep trying to sign this petition if your initial attempt does not succeed
» Learn more about Troy Davis

Niagara Falls NY water utility plan to treat fracking fluid threatens the Great Lakes

NEWS: Niagara Falls water utility plan to treat fracking fluid threatens the Great Lakes
in New York State “has confirmed the Niagara Falls Water Board is moving forward with plans to treat ‘fracking fluid’ at its wastewater treatment plant following a feasibility study performed by an outside firm.”

“The board’s plans, first reported in late-July, were to investigate the possibility of treating the fluid, which is a toxic byproduct of hydraulic fracturing to extract natural gas from the Marcellus Shale. Through a statement, the Board confirmed its study is completed and it is moving forward with the project: Although the Niagara Falls Water Board has not advocated for drilling in the Marcellus Shale, should the State of New York allow drilling to proceed, and our wastewater treatment plant meet all requirements and regulations as set forth by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the Niagara Falls Water Board potentially offers a solution to effectively and safely treat wastewater produced from drilling and would help mitigate concerns about impacts on public health and safety and the environment.”
Brian Smith of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment says, “Fracking waste can contain toxic chemicals, radioactivity, and be five-times saltier than seawater. The Niagara Falls sewage treatment facility is ill-equipped to properly treat hazardous fracking waste. Allowing this would risk the discharge of toxic, radioactive, and caustic waste into our fragile Great Lakes ecosystem.” And Rita Yelda of WNY Drilling Defense says, “If this fracking waste is not treated correctly, it could contaminate our water. It’s a potential risk.” The article notes that she encourages “the public to attend the Niagara Falls Water Board’s next public meeting, which is scheduled for 5 p.m. on Septemb

Letter urging Canadian Embassy in Colombia to support investigations surrounding the death of Father José Reinel Restrepo

Letter urging Canadian Embassy in Colombia to support investigations surrounding the death of Father José Reinel Restrepo

By Meera Karunananthan, Friday, September 16th, 2011he Council of Canadians has signed a joint letter urging the Canadian Embassy in Colombia to support investigations surrounding the death of Father José Reinel Restrepo, a parish priest in Marmato. Father Restrepo was an outspoken opponent to the development of an open-pit gold mine by Medoro Resources mine (which recently merged with Toronto-based Gran Colombia Gold). The Canadian Pension Plan has $6 million worth of investments in the company. The mining project would require the relocation of the entire town of Marmato. On September 2, the 36-year-old priest was shot dead while out on his motorcycle.


Huskers cut off deal with TransCanada

Huskers cut off deal with TransCanada
The University of Nebraska-Lincoln athletic department ended the sponsorship agreement Wednesday after fans and others complained.
"I want to make it clear that the athletic department has no position, either pro or con, regarding the proposed TransCanada Pipeline," Athletic Director Tom Osborne said in a statement Wednesday afternoon.

Osborne said the athletic department's marketing partner, IMG College, and the Husker Sports Network signed the sponsorship arrangement with TransCanada in April, before the proposed Keystone XL pipeline became so controversial.
"We have certain principles regarding advertising in the stadium such as no alcohol, tobacco or gambling advertisements. We also avoid ads of a political nature," he said. "Over the last two or three months, the pipeline issue has been increasingly politicized. Our athletic events are intended to entertain and unify our fan base by providing an experience that is not divisive."

He said he regretted having to end the sponsorship deal, adding that TransCanada and IMG/Husker Sports Network had acted honorably and "with best intentions."

TransCanada spokesman Jeff Rauh said the company was disappointed by the decision. "We're proud to be active members in the community and sponsors of Husker football," he said. "Our sponsorship of the Huskers is something that our employees have encouraged and valued."

He said TransCanada has offices in Omaha and has had a presence in Nebraska since the early 1980s. The company has received supportive comments about its Husker sponsorship from landowners and other pipeline stakeholders, Rauh said.

TransCanada plans to divert the money it would have spent on its Husker sponsorship toward nonprofits in Nebraska. Rauh said the company donated $137,000 in Nebraska in 2010 and $500,000 since 2007. "We'll redeploy those funds for other purposes here in the state," he said.

Those who oppose the Keystone XL pipeline say the video attempted to draw connections between the Huskers' tradition of strong offensive lines and TransCanada. They said it was unfair for the company to attempt to associate itself with Husker football when it was in the midst of trying to gain approval for its controversial pipeline.

The pipeline would carry Canadian oil across Nebraska and several other states and cross the Ogallala Aquifer, which supplies water for drinking and irrigation to parts of several states.

Petition to Protect Arts Funding to Keep Toronto Vibrant

Petition to Protect Arts Funding to Keep Toronto Vibrant
Friends of the Arts
We wanted to make you aware of important deliberations taking place at Toronto City Hall about arts funding and your actions and support are very important.

Toronto's City Manager has put forward deep cuts to the city budget, and this puts arts and cultural funding for both small and large organizations at serious risk. Cutting the arts could be an economic and social catastrophe for Toronto: not only does the city achieve a huge return on a relatively small investment, but our vibrant arts scene is also a big part of what makes Toronto a great place to live, work and visit.

Friends of the Arts* has launched an online petition to let City Councillors know
Torontonians value the arts.

By signing the petition you will be sending a message to City Hall and your local councillor telling them that arts funding should be protected. Here are a few of the reasons why the arts might be important to you:

• Arts and culture are essential to Toronto’s economy, generating $9 billion every year.
• Arts and culture create jobs. 130,000 people work in the sector – and many more depend on related businesses, including hospitality and tourism.
• Torontonians care about the arts. In 2010, there were 20 million visits from every corner of Toronto to city-supported arts events.
• Every dollar Toronto invests in arts organizations attracts $17 more from private and public sources. Arts and culture funding has a great return on investment.
• Great art and artists take years to achieve commercial success; today’s funding enables tomorrow’s art.
• Artists flock to cities that support them – yet Toronto invests less in the arts than other major cities; City Council has been working to change that, and it must stay the course.
• Toronto Councillors need to know that their voters value the arts.

Although most signatures will be collected online, the Toronto Arts Council will also be sending volunteers to specific arts events with hard copies of the petition. If you’d like to help, please email: and put volunteer in the subject line.

*Friends of the Arts is a network of arts supporters including the following organizations: Arts Vote Toronto, Arts Etobicoke,, Business for the Arts, Creative Trust, Lakeshore Arts, Scarborough Arts, Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts, Toronto Arts Foundation, and Urban Arts.

Thank you for your support. Let's keep Toronto a creative city!
Janice Price, CEO, Luminato


Apple Bans App That Shows Electronics' Blood Trail

Apple Bans App That Shows Electronics' Blood Trail
(The YES MEN strike again!) read the story for the story behind the story....

Phone Story is a funny game with a not-so-funny message. By allowing players to assume the roles of technology's manufacturers, it teaches players a lesson or two in the life-cycle of Apple products and the blood trail technology leaves behind. But Apple, apparently not too psyched on selling an app that reveals its own atrocious human rights record, banned the silly app just hours after its release.

The Yes Men are some of "more than forty trouble makers" behind the game, and its premise is right in line with their previous involvement in activism, which often involves targeting "leaders and big corporations who put profits ahead of everything else" and "Impersonating big-time criminals in order to publicly humiliate them." As their Guerrilla Drive-In attack on the Koch Theatre at Lincoln Center shows, their activism is often rooted in fun.


FedEx and Pepsi Are Top Defense Contractors?

FedEx and Pepsi Are Top Defense Contractors? 5 Corporate Brands Making a Killing on America’s Wars
Chris Hellman of the National Priorities Project, writing recently at, noted that since the 9/11 attacks, the United States has spent about $8 trillion on national security. Even accounting for all the funds paid out for troop salaries, overseas base construction and the training and equipping indigenous allies in Iraq and Afghanistan, among many other costs, it’s clear that vast sums of Pentagon money are flowing somewhere other than to the top weapons-makers. Unknown to most U.S. taxpayers and even many Pentagon-watchers, some of the largest and most recognizable corporations in the world have also been getting rich on America’s wars. Below are five examples of “civilian” companies that have reaped major rewards from the Pentagon during its last decade at war:

1. BP: The oil giant, perhaps most famous for dumping 206 million gallons of crude into the Gulf of Mexico last year, is also a perennial power when it comes to Pentagon contracts. Back in 2001, BP nabbed a cool $357 million in contracts from the Department of Defense. Last year, the number hit $1 billion and it’s no secret why. As defense-tech writer Noah Shachtman noted at Foreign Policy last year, the U.S. military burns “22 gallons of diesel [fuel] per soldier per day in Afghanistan, at a cost of more than $100,000 a person annually.”

2. FedEx: The overnight shipping giant is a long-time defense-contracting powerhouse that has also seen an exponential increase in contract dollars since September 10, 2001, when its stock was trading at just under $40 per share. By the end of that year, FedEx had been awarded about $211 million in contracts from the Pentagon. In 2010, the company received $1.4 billion from the Department of Defense and this year, with its stock closing in on $80 per share, has already passed the $1 billion mark, again. This includes a $182 million deal, inked in August, to pack and ship fresh fruit and vegetables to U.S. military bases overseas and a joint agreement, which also includes United Parcel Service (UPS) and Polar Air Cargo, which could last up to five years and potentially net the companies a combined $853 million.

3. Dell: If you’re in the military and you want to pilot a drone, transfer supplies or write a memo, you need a computer. That’s just what Dell provides. The desktop- and laptop-maker has been plying the Pentagon with computers for many years and, just like Lockheed, Boeing and Northrop Grumman, has done especially well by the Department of Defense since 2001. That year, Dell was awarded $65 million in Pentagon contracts. By 2009, that number had jumped to $731 million and, over the course of the decade, has added up to a total of $4.3 billion in contracts for the PC manufacturer.

4. Kraft – From A-1 steak sauce, their signature mayonnaise and Oreo cookies to Oscar Meyer hot dogs, Planters peanuts and Wheat Thins crackers, this company ranks as one of the largest and best known food concerns in the world. Not surprisingly, it also does a brisk business with the Pentagon which has grown ever larger during the last decade. Back in 2001, Kraft inked $148 million in deals with the Department of Defense, by 2010, its yearly take had risen to $373 million.

5. Pepsi – Once upon a time it was the “choice of a new generation.” These days, it’s the choice of the Pentagon. In 2010, PepsiCo washed down $217 million in Defense Department contract dollars, compared to the mere $61 million in deals it inked back in 2001. Earlier this year, the company continued the trend by signing a multi-million dollar deal to provide the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps with “bag-in-box beverages.” (That very same day, Coca-Cola also received a slightly larger contract to provide drinks for the military.)

Other big-name firms that are regularly awarded large, lucrative deals from the Defense Department include tire titans Goodrich and Goodyear, oil giants Shell and Exxon Mobil, big food suppliers like Nestle, General Mills, Tyson, ConAgra and Campbell's Soup, and tech and telecom stalwarts including AT&T, Oracle, Sony and Verizon.

A decade of waging wars abroad, from Iraq and Afghanistan to Pakistan and Libya to Yemen and Somalia hasn’t been kind to average Americans. As the United States poured nearly $8 trillion into national security spending, and the national debt ballooned from $6 trillion to $14.3 trillion, the official unemployment rate has more than doubled -- from 4.5% to 9.1%. Meanwhile the number of children living in poverty in the U.S. has jumped nearly 20% since 2000, according to the National Center for Children in Poverty. And for older Americans, the risk of hunger has spiked almost 80% since 2001, according to a recent report by AARP. But from car companies to candy makers and even the biggest brands in organic food, so many of the world’s favorite companies have, over these years, cashed in on America’s wars.

In his famous 1961 farewell address, President Dwight Eisenhower warned of the "acquisition of unwarranted influence" by what he called the "military-industrial complex.” Today, however, the "large arms industry" that Eisenhower warned about is only part of the equation. Civilian firms such as FedEx and PepsiCo form the backbone of what more accurately can be described as a military-corporate complex of “civilian” businesses that enable the Pentagon to function, to make war and to carry out foreign occupations.


Pig Power! Google Signs Up

Pig Power! Google Signs Up | TPM Idea Lab
now if they'd just take on factory farming...
Google last week revealed for the first time that it consumed enough electricity to power 200,000 homes in 2010. The company also said that it intends to source more than a third of its electricity from clean sources by 2012.
One way that it's trying to minimize its carbon footprint is by signing up for carbon offsets.
One of these projects comes from Duke University, where a new facility uses hog waste to generate power. Duke developed the pilot project to demonstrate the economic feasibility of capturing methane emissions from large hog farms and converting those emissions to electricity.

Google has just announced that it will take on part of the operating and maintenance costs in exchange for carbon offsets, to help achieve its carbon-neutral goal.

Duke engineered the new facility as an open source design that is freely available to the hog industry. However, even though the design is free, hog farmers may be hesitant to invest in the equipment. The school hopes that Google's involvement will provide some reassurance that the economics are solid.

Calzavara tells Boston Herald that quarry must be rejected

NEWS: Calzavara tells Boston Herald that quarry must be rejected
Quarry battle now includes Harvard investments... hmmm
The Boston Herald reports, “The Baupost Group, a Boston hedge fund, is under fire north of the border for financing a controversial, 2,300-acre limestone ‘mega-quarry’ outside Toronto (in Melancthon) that would replace fertile potato farmland.”


US: Help protect communities from irresponsible uranium mining

EARTHWORKS - Take Action!

Help protect communities from irresponsible uranium mining
Tell your Representative to support URSA, HR 1452
Congressmen Martin Heinrich (D-NM) and Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) have introduced legislation to modernize oversight of uranium mining -- by shifting it from the antiquated 1872 Mining Law to the Mineral Leasing Act. This change would allow uranium mining on federal lands to be managed through a competitive leasing program, as opposed to the current, industry-initiated system, which amounts to "first come, first serve".
This legislation, the Uranium Resources Stewardship Act (HR 1452), is the first step towards comprehensive federal regulation and oversight of uranium mining to protect both uranium-impacted communities and the environment. The Uranium Resources Stewardship Act (URSA) would impose a 12.5% royalty on the uranium mining industry, compensating the taxpayer for the uranium that is being taken from public lands.
Perhaps most importantly, URSA would end the presumed "right to mine" afforded by the 1872 Mining Law. It would allow public land managers more discretion to decide where uranium mining is and is not appropriate.
Ask your members of Congress to support this important legislation.

Rootworms, Monsanto, and the Unity of Existence

Daily Kos: Rootworms, Monsanto, and the Unity of Existence (very good essay - here are some excerpts)

Bt and Monsanto. The rootworms are newsworthy because they're not supposed to be there. The fields were planted with a corn seed that Monsanto genetically modified to kill rootworms. It contains a gene from bacillus thuringiensis, a naturally occurring insect-killing bacteria. Apparently the Iowa fields have evolved a rootworm resistant to Bt, or at least to this particular expression of Bt. That's bad -- and not just for Monsanto.

This possibility was considered when the Monsanto corn was approved by the EPA in 2003. The remedy was for farmers to plant 20% of their fields with non-Bt corn. Basically, you want to prevent insects with low-level resistance from mating with each other and producing high-level resistance. The 20% "refuge" area keeps non-resistant rootworms in the evolutionary picture, so that the species as a whole doesn't become resistant.

Now it looks like 20% wasn't enough. That's what independent scientists told the EPA in 2003. They wanted 50% non-Bt corn, but Monsanto lobbied the EPA down to 20%. Now it looks like their lobbying screwed up their own product.....Monsanto's Bt seeds, by contrast, expose the entire field, all season long. And one of the seed's touted advantages is that you don't have to rotate. The Iowa fields where resistance developed had been planted in corn for many years in a row. So, used as directed, Monsanto's seeds are breeding Bt-resistant rootworms. (It's not clear yet if the Iowa worms are universally Bt-resistant or just resistant to the particular protein Monsanto engineered its seeds to produce. In any case, they are a step in the direction of Bt-resistant rootworms.)

Once they exist, these rootworms are unlikely to respect property lines. They'll be a problem for everybody, including the organic farms. So Monsanto has profited by using up a common resource that could have lasted for centuries otherwise.

The term judicial activism is hardly ever applied to cases that expand corporate rights. But patenting life-forms stems from Diamond v. Chakrabarty (1980), where it is the liberal dissent of Justice Brennan that invokes judicial restraint: "We must be careful to extend patent protection no further than Congress has provided." He lost.

Monsanto vs. the farmers who don't buy its seed. Some farmers who never bought Monsanto seed are growing patented plants because birds drop seeds on their property or pollen blows in from a neighbor's field. Other farmers who stopped using Monsanto seed nonetheless see "volunteer" seeds from last year's crop sprout in their fields.

Occasionally such a farmer loses a patent infringement suit. And no one knows how many innocent farmers -- less determined than this family profiled by CBS -- just pay up when confronted with evidence of patented plants in their fields and the threat of Monsanto's expensive legal team. (Sixty different organic-farming organizations have preemptively filed suit against Monsanto to avoid being sued later for inadvertent patent infringement.)

Farmers who hope to export to countries that ban genetically modified crops are harmed if the wind blows Monsanto pollen onto their fields. But Monsanto's licensing agreement puts this responsibility on the farmer who plants its seeds. So you can sue your neighbor, but not Monsanto.

By their insatiable nature, corporations make all tragedy-of-the-commons problems much, much worse. Antibiotic-resistant disease is a similar story, as the meat industry uses massive quantities of antibiotics without concern for the consequences. Ditto for air quality, water rights, and any other common asset that a corporation can profit from. If there's a horse in the common stable, a corporation will ride it to death.

AI: Troy Davis is about to be killed by the state of Georgia, but he may be innocent | Amnesty International Canada-

At Risk: Troy Davis is about to be killed by the state of Georgia, but he may be innocent | Amnesty International Canada - Protecting Individuals at Risk

The state of Georgia is preparing to execute a man despite serious doubts that remain about his guilt.
A Georgia judge has signed a death warrant in the case of Troy Davis, authorizing the state to execute him in the week of 21 to 28 September. Doubts persist about Troy Davis’ guilt in the crime for which he was sentenced to death two decades ago.

The county judge signed the death warrant of Troy Davis on 6 September. The Georgia Department of Corrections will set the actual date and time for the execution. The Department’s usual strategy is to set it on the first day authorized under the warrant, in this case 21 September.

Troy Davis was sentenced to death in 1991 for the murder of police officer Mark Allen MacPhail in Savannah, Georgia in 1989. No physical evidence directly links him to the murder – no murder weapon was ever found. The case against Troy Davis primarily rested on witness testimony. Since his trial, seven of nine key witnesses have recanted or changed their testimony, some alleging police coercion.

In 2009, the US Supreme Court ordered a federal evidentiary hearing to review Troy Davis’ innocence claim. At the 2010 hearing, US District Court Judge William Moore addressed whether Troy Davis could show “by clear and convincing evidence that no reasonable juror would have convicted him in the light of the new evidence” that had emerged since his 1991 murder trial. Under this “extraordinarily high” standard, Judge Moore wrote in his August 2010 opinion, “Mr Davis is not innocent”. Elsewhere in his ruling, he acknowledged that the new evidence presented by Troy Davis cast “some additional, minimal” doubt on his conviction, and that the state’s case was not “ironclad”. In 1991, the jury had found Troy Davis guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt,” Judge Moore noted, “but not to a mathematical certainty”.

In 2007 Troy Davis was less than 24 hours from execution when the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles issued a stay. The Board said that it would not allow an execution to go ahead “unless and until its members are convinced that there is no doubt as to the guilt of the accused”. Since then Troy Davis has faced two more execution dates, both in 2008, which were stayed by the courts

Stunner: NJ Gov Met With Pollutocrat Koch Before Pulling Out of Successful Carbon Pollution Reduction Program

Christie Stunner: NJ Gov Met With Pollutocrat Koch Before Pulling Out of Successful Carbon Pollution Reduction Program
In late May, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie announced he was pulling his state out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, explaining that it was "not working." Now a stunning tape of a secret meeting between Christie and Charles Koch sheds light on the governor's inexplicable decision to abandon a program that was not only cutting pollution, but was funding clean energy and, as it turns out, reducing New Jersey's budget gap.
David Koch, introducing Christie: Five months ago we met in my New York City office and spoke -- just the two of us -- for about two hours on his objectives and successes in correcting many of the most serious problems of the New Jersey state government. At the end of our conversation, I said to myself, "I'm really impressed and inspired by this man. He is my kind of guy."
Koch is the biggest funder of climate disinformation in the country, a billionaire pollutocrat who pulls the string of the Tea Party, which in turn is driving the country to a ruined economy and an unlivable climate. And Christie is his kind of guy. You can see why they wanted to keep this behind closed doors.
Koch has more to say on his budding bromance:
Another example of Governor Christie's commitment to the free enterprise system is that only a few weeks ago he announced that New Jersey would be withdrawing from the [Regional] Greenhouse Gas Initiative which is a [cheers and applause], which would have raised energy costs, reduced economic growth and led to very little, if any, benefit for the environment. [A 'boo' is heard.]
Yes, Christie showed his "commitment to the free enterprise system" by pulling out of a market-based system invented by Republicans and economists, championed by President George H. W. Bush, and originally supported at a regional level by GOP Governors like Pataki of New York.
At the time of Christie's move, people monitoring RGGI were baffled. The program had raised tens of millions of dollars for clean energy projects without noticeably raising rates. But after acknowledging that climate change was real and then raiding $65 million from the program in order to close a budget gap, Christie actually had the gall to say the program was "gimmicky."
But now the reasons for Christie's awkwardly hypocritical stance on RGGI are becoming more clear. Perhaps the program wasn't "working" for the Koch Brothers, the oil billionaires who have spent of millions of dollars trying to tear down cap and trade and any other programs related to clean energy?


HRW: Tunisia: Government Lifts Restrictions on Women’s Rights Treaty

Tunisia: Government Lifts Restrictions on Women’s Rights Treaty | Human Rights WatchNadya Khalife, Middle East women’s rights researcher
(Beirut) ─ Tunisia’s lifting of key reservations to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) is an important step toward gender equality, Human Rights Watch said today. The Tunisian government should next ensure that all domestic laws conform to international standards and eliminate all forms of discrimination against women, Human Rights Watch said.
Tunisiais the first country in the region to withdraw all of its specific reservations to the treaty. These reservations had enabled it to opt out of certain provisions even though it had ratified the treaty.
The Tunisian Council of Ministers adopted a draft decree on August 16, 2011, to lift the reservations. “Many of the reservations limited women’s equality within their families, and their removal finally recognizes that women are equal partners in marriage and in making decisions about their children,” said Nadya Khalife, Middle East women’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The Tunisian government, by lifting major reservations to CEDAW, is proclaiming its commitment to advance women’s rights.”
The August 16 decree lifts all reservations except a general declaration that Tunisia“shall not take any organizational or legislative decision in conformity with the requirements of this Convention where such a decision would conflict with the provisions of Chapter I of the Tunisian Constitution.” Chapter I establishes Islam as the state religion. This declaration should also be removed, as no state should use its own constitution as an excuse for not complying with international standards, Human Rights Watch said. But Tunisia has not used the declaration to attempt to justify maintaining laws or practices that violate CEDAW, Human Rights Watch said.
The convention was adopted in 1979 by the United Nations General Assembly. It defines what constitutes discrimination against women and establishes an action plan for nations to use to end such discrimination. Some states parties have entered reservations to the treaty, to keep from having to apply certain provisions.
The Tunisian reservations concerned treaty requirements to provide equality to women in family matters. These include passing on their nationality to their children, rights and responsibilities in marriage and divorce, matters relating to children and guardianship, personal rights for husbands and wives with regard to family name and occupation, and ownership of property. CEDAW provides for full equality for women in all these matters.
Although Tunisia has one of the most progressive personal status codes in the region, the code still contains discriminatory provisions. Women are denied an equal share of an inheritance, for example. Brothers, and sometimes other male family members, such as cousins, are legally entitled to a greater share. Article 58 of the personal status code gives judges the discretion to grant custody to either the mother or the father based on the best interests of the child, but prohibits allowing a mother to have her children live with her if she has remarried. No such restriction applies to fathers....
Tunisia is the first country in the region to lift all specific reservations to CEDAW. Tunisia is also one of only two countries in the Middle East/North Africa region to adopt the Optional Protocol to CEDAW, which entitles individuals or groups of individuals to submit complaints on women’s rights violations to the CEDAW Committee.
However, Tunisia is one of only four members of the African Union that have refused to sign, let alone ratify, the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (Maputo Protocol). Tunisia made reservations to some of the Charter’s clauses related to marriage.
“Tunisia has proven itself a leader on women’s rights in the region, and we hope it will set an example to other countries as the calls for reform sweep the Middle East and North Africa, Khalife said. “To ensure that it continues this leadership on gender equality, Tunisia should also sign and ratify the Maputo Protocol.”

HRW: Secret Documents Discovered in Libya - Bush & Torture Rendition

Secret Intelligence Documents Discovered in Libya | Human Rights Watch
Among the files were documents confirming that both the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the United Kingdom’s MI6 sent terrorism suspects to Libya for detention – despite Libya’s notorious record for torturing prisoners.
Human Rights Watch discovered in Tripoli tens of thousands of archived documents containing evidence of crimes – such as the US and UK governments’ complicity in torture – committed during Col. Muammar Gaddafi’s rule
The documents were found in the office of Musa Kusa, Gaddafi’s former intelligence chief. We viewed several hundred documents and photographed about 300, but didn’t remove any. We have been working with Libya’s National Transitional Council (NTC) to secure the building, keeping the documents safe so they can be used as evidence in court. We continue to scour Tripoli for more documents, trying to ensure that archives are secure.
Among the files were documents confirming that both the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the United Kingdom’s MI6 sent terrorism suspects to Libya for detention – despite Libya’s notorious record for torturing prisoners.
The CIA communications that we saw were drafted while George W. Bush was president and included information like flight schedules and lists of questions to be asked of suspects. They also established that the CIA sent agents to interrogate suspects in Libyan custody.
This confirms Human Rights Watch’s earlier findings of US and UK complicity in the torture of suspects in foreign countries, published in 2004. The US says it has not transferred any detainees to Libya since 2007.


Title Fight at Cohen Commission: Morton vs. Industry-Government Juggernaut

Title Fight at Cohen Commission: Morton vs. Industry-Government Juggernaut
Alexandra Morton finally takes the stand at the Cohen commission regarding the coverup of fish farms and disease by the Harper government and investors.
Yesterday, on the penultimate day of the Cohen Commission's hearings on aquaculture and diseases, Alexandra Morton finally took the stand. To say the event lived up to its billing is an understatement, as the Inquiry often characterized by technocratic tedium was jolted to life in its final rounds.

At the heart of the conflict lay the pattern of breathtaking industry-government collusion and secrecy that has characterized the aquaculture issue for decades - to a degree even I didn't fully fathom until now.
Joining Morton and Living Oceans Society's Catherine Stewart (who acquitted herself admirably) on the stand were two industry reps: Clare Backman, Director of Sustainability for Marine Harvest (now there's an oxymoron), and Mia Parker, formerly of Grieg Seafoods, but now of DFO.

as Alexandra says:
Thank you all for the flood of email support. I will do my best to bring the issues to light, but it will be up to you and society in general to decide if salmon farm feedlots should remain on the Fraser sockeye migration routes, whether you want to know if there are brain tumours in the Fraser sockeye and whether salmon farm-origin viruses were responsible for the majority of Fraser sockeye that went missing.
The European shareholders of this industry need to consider the ethics of the situation here in BC (as well).


System Change not Climate Change | System Change not Climate Change
A new project by the Council of Canadians about raising awareness and transforming this awareness into action. The project aims to inspire collective actions to advance climate justice in communities across Canada and the world.

Tar sands: ‘Canada will be the next locus for civil disobedience’, says Bill McKibben

NEWS: ‘Canada will be the next locus for civil disobedience’, says Bill McKibben
Between August 20 and September 3, there were 1252 people arrested outside the White House for taking part in a non-violent civil disobedience action calling on US President Barack Obama to reject the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.
The Globe and Mail reports, “Organizers (against the pipeline) decided they needed to be louder and chose civil disobedience.”  (see Say NO to Tar Sands)

- “Bill McKibben, founder of environmental group, said civil disobedience would be employed again against Keystone on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Sept. 26, and during the final months in the U.S. ahead of Mr. Obama’s decision. ‘We need to find a different currency to work in and for the past two weeks that currency was our bodies,’ said Mr. McKibben. ‘The odds, I suppose, remain against us but we’ll continue to use our wits, creativity and our bodies. Canada will be the next locus for civil disobedience.’”
- “Naomi Klein, activist author of No Logo and The Shock Doctrine, was also arrested for the first time. ‘Ever since the climate talks collapsed in Copenhagen, there’s been more and more talk that non-violent civil disobedience is going to have to be really resurrected as a mass tactic,’ said Ms. Klein. ‘A lot of the people arrested are the types who have gone to all of the UN summits and played by the rules. We’re watching the process go backwards. These are people really immersed in climate science and feel a tremendous sense of urgency.’”
Klein told CTV, “By getting arrested they are sending a message we really mean it. We care about this we are willing to get a record for this.”

Opponent of Canadian mine in Colombia killed

NEWS: Opponent of Canadian mine in Colombia killed
EWS:By Brent Patterson, Tuesday, September 6th, 2011
More info: Grahame Russell, Rights Action, 011 502 4955-3634,

The Independent Catholic News reports, “Father Jose Reinel Restrepo Idairraga was killed by unknown assailants…on Thursday, 1 September…in Colombia. …Father Restrepo was 36 years old…and since 2009 was pastor in Marmato, where he was appreciated and respected by the locals because of his commitment to the poor. The authorities have begun investigating the case to determine whether the reason for the priest’s killing was mugging or if there is any other reason. This area of Colombia is well-known because about 80 percent of the population of Marmato works in gold mining.”

In a video posted to YouTube just days before his murder, Father Restrepo spoke against an open pit gold mine proposed by Toronto-based Medoro Resources (which recently merged with another Canadian company, Gran Colombia Gold Corp). Colombia’s El Tiempo newspaper reports, “The priest had spent the past two years in Marmato where he had opposed the moving of the town, a possibility that has been considered if the mining company Gran Colombia Gold mines its open pit project.”

The Marmato Project: As noted on their website, “Medoro Resources Ltd. is a gold exploration, development and mining company with a primary emphasis on Colombia. Medoro owns most of the prolific Marmato gold district and the producing Mineros Nacionales underground gold mine located in Zona Baja at Marmato. The Company is conducting an exploration and infill drilling program at its Marmato Project to expand and upgrade its already substantial gold resources there as the basis for its plan to develop a large open pit gold mine to realize the large potential of the Marmato Project. The Company’s Marmato Project currently hosts measured and indicated gold resources of approximately 6.6 million ounces, and an inferred resource of approximately 3.2 million ounces.”

‘Economic Forced Displacement’: The company’s website also notes, ” In October 2009, Medoro acquired the Zona Alta license through its share purchase of Colombia Goldfields Ltd.” A March 2008 article in The Dominion by Micheál Ó Tuathail of Edmonton’s La Chiva collective reports, “Five years ago, (Marmato’s) roots were shaken when the Compañía Mineras de Caldas, a subsidiary of Toronto-based Colombia Goldfields Limited, began its project of consolidating ownership of the mountain, leading to what many call the ‘economic forced displacement’ of Marmato and the social eradication of a working community. …(An article in El Colombiano) claims that an open-pit gold mine at Marmato would be ‘one of the largest in South America’, requiring the removal of ‘between 30,000 and 60,000 tonnes of earth daily in order to produce 250,000 ounces of gold annually.’ The operation would exploit in 20 years what small miners could in 200.”

Water: The Dominion article adds, “While small mining practices are notorious for their use of harmful chemicals such as cyanide, open-pit mines are environmental disaster zones, according to critics, who say they bring limited short-term employment and leave behind gigantic holes in the ground where communities once lived.” A Colombia Goldfields media release from February 2007 says, “The first detailed water monitoring ever undertaken at Marmato was completed in December 2006 at 18 locations in three creeks and two locations on the Cauca River. The sampling was a joint effort with Corpocaldas, the State Environmental Agency responsible for the Environment in the Department of Caldas. Due to unregulated discharge from the mills and the lack of any tailings disposal facilities at Marmato, cyanide levels are toxic in all locations and the amount of suspended solids is many times above acceptable levels.”

also -
Maude Barlow to visit Goldcorp mine in Guatemala

Tomorrow, Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow will be visiting the controversial Canadian-owned Marlin mine in the municipality of San Miguel Ixtahuacán, which is located about 300 kilometres north of Guatemala City.

“Community activists have risked their lives to protect their water from depletion and the discharge of toxic tailings,” says Maude Barlow.

Among the water-related concerns with the Marlin mine, Tech International, a US-based non-governmental organization, has expressed concern that tailings water from the mine is seeping into a downstream tributary. In 2009, a research team from the Pastoral Commission for Peace and Ecology confirmed the Marlin mine had contaminated local water supplies. And University of Ghent researchers believe the mine is depleting surface water causing arsenic-rich groundwater to be drawn into surface waters, and that arsenic may be the reason for skin problems being found among local residents.

“By allowing Goldcorp to operate this way in Guatemala, the Canadian government is violating the right to water of the local communities in the regional and river basin where the Marlin mine operates,” says Barlow, referring to the legally binding resolutions passed at the United Nations last year recognizing the right to water and sanitation.

“To Harper, the right to water in Guatemala, and other countries Canadian mining companies operate in, is simply a barrier to trade,” adds Barlow, noting the federal government is seeking a free trade agreement with Guatemala. “But you can’t trade away human rights.”

Given Canadian investments (including through the Canada Pension Plan) and subsidies that have funded the mine's operations, the Canadian government and public have a responsibility here, notes Barlow. The Council of Canadians is calling for legislation in Canada that recognizes the right to water and ends the impunity Canadian mining companies currently enjoy abroad.

“With Guatemala’s federal election less than a week away, mining should be a central issue given its widespread impacts in Guatemalan society and environment,” says Barlow. “With the terrible international record of Canadian mining companies, it should be a central issue here too.”

This past May, the Council of Canadians, along with 200+ people, participated in a protest at Goldcorp's annual shareholders meeting in Vancouver. The protest demanded that Goldcorp suspend its operations at the Marlin mine.

This Company Turns Plastic Bottles Back Into Crude Oil

This Company Turns Plastic Bottles Back Into Crude Oil - Environment - GOOD (you can be certain mr Koch is not an investor...)
When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. But if life gives you plastic? Make crude oil. Vadxx, an Ohio-based energy company, is taking even plastics that can't be recycled and reverting them to the material state from whence they came: crude oil.

"Plastics are made from oil, and Vadxx has figured out how to create the lowest sulfur content crude oil in the world, from a commodity that might otherwise occupy space in landfills," Vadxx CEO Jim Garret said in a press statement. Vadxx will take the picked-over scraps of plastics that don't make the cut for recycling, including "auto fluff" (the non-metal parts of junked cars) and e-waste, and run it through its reactors. Out comes crude oil, which the company will sell. Vadxx says that each of its oil production units could shrink landfill deposits by 10 to 14,000 tons a year.

Last month, Vadxx won a piece of Akron, Ohio's recycling contract and will start helping process the city's waste into oil at a pilot plant. Residents of Akron who put their recycling on the curb will be providing the raw materials for fuel. And while we might hope that some day we won't need oil at all, for now, this is certainly a step up from drilling in the Arctic.

Leonard Peltier wins rights prize

Jailed Native American activist Leonard Peltier wins rights prize
MONTEVIDEO — Leonard Peltier, an indigenous rights activist jailed in the United States for decades, has received the first Mario Benedetti Foundation international human rights prize, the group said Monday.
The group called Peltier, a Native American activist convicted in 1977 for the murder of two US FBI agents, the longest serving political prisoner in the Americas. The case stemmed from a shootout at a reservation in the US state of South Dakota.

"Leonard Peltier, who on September 12, 2011 will turn 67, has spent more than half his life in prison. He is a symbol of resistance to repressive state policies by the United States, where there are people in jail for ethnic, racial, ideological and religious reasons," a foundation statement said.

Ricardo Elena, a member of the foundation's honorary board, said Peltier's case "is one that is repeated over and over: violation (of rights); persecution, eviction, invasion and expropriation of the indigenous people from the time it was 'discovered' until now.

"It did not just happen in the United States; it is happening in southern South America with the (indigenous) Mapuche people, and with indigenous people in North America," he stressed.

Peltier, whose family is indigenous Chippewa and Lakota, fled to Canada after the shooting and was later extradited. He was convicted in part based on the testimony of a woman, Myrtle Poor Bear, who claimed she was his girlfriend and witnessed the shootings. Poor Bear however admitted later she was pressured to make the testimony, but a judge blocked her testimony.

Elena took a swipe at the United States saying it "likes to think it is the seat of democracy, but it has political prisoners just like a dictatorship might have."

The Mario Benedetti Foundation was set up to support human rights and cultural causes in synch with the work of the Uruguayan writer who died in 2009.


Obama Halts EPA Regulation On Smog Standards

Obama Halts EPA Regulation On Smog Standards
WASHINGTON — In a dramatic reversal, President Barack Obama on Friday scrubbed a clean-air regulation that aimed to reduce health-threatening smog, yielding to bitterly protesting businesses and congressional Republicans who complained the rule would kill jobs in America's ailing economy.
Withdrawal of the proposed regulation marked the latest in a string of retreats by the president in the face of GOP opposition, and it drew quick criticism from liberals. Environmentalists, a key Obama constituency, accused him of caving to corporate polluters, and the American Lung Association threatened to restart the legal action it had begun against rules proposed by President George W. Bush.
The White House has been under heavy pressure from GOP lawmakers and major industries, which have slammed the stricter standard as an unnecessary jobs killer. The Environmental Protection Agency, whose scientific advisers favored the tighter limits, had predicted the proposed change would cost up to $90 billion a year, making it one of the most expensive environmental regulations ever imposed in the U.S.
However, the Clean Air Act bars the EPA from considering the costs of complying when setting public health standards.
Obama said his decision was made in part to reduce regulatory burdens and uncertainty at a time of rampant questions about the strength of the U.S. economy.
Underscoring the economic concerns: a new report Friday that showed the economy essentially adding no jobs in August and the unemployment rate stubbornly stuck at 9.1 percent.
The regulation would have reduced concentrations of ground-level ozone, the main ingredient in smog, a powerful lung irritant that can cause asthma and other lung ailments. Smog is created when emissions from cars, power and chemical plants, refineries and other factories mix in sunlight and heat.

Ontario 'mega-quarry' faces environmental review

Ontario 'mega-quarry' faces environmental review
Sometimes you get your news from the FINANCIAL sector, and not from the 'democracy' reporters - here's the headline on the currency exchange network today about the Mega Quarry, note the language - "opposition from 'wealthy' retirees"

TORONTO, Sept 2 (Reuters) - Ontario has ordered a full environmental review of a proposed 'mega-quarry' backed by one of Boston's best-known hedge funds, a move that may threaten a project that has already raised local opposition.
The project, which would supply crushed limestone for Toronto's booming construction industry, has counted value investor Seth Klarman's Baupost Group as one of its investors.

Highlands Cos, the company behind the quarry, plans to carve out the huge pit on thousands of acres of potato fields it has bought up about 100 kilometers (62 miles) north of Toronto.

A review announced late Thursday by the Canadian province's environmental ministry could complicate those plans.
'After reviewing the company's application for a quarry, it became clear that more work needs to be done to demonstrate that the project would be fully protective of the surrounding environment,' said a ministry spokeswoman in an email.

The project is already subject to a multi-year review by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. As part of that process, the Environment ministry expressed serious concerns, especially with the project's impact on groundwater.
Minister of the Environment John Wilkinson said his counterpart in Natural Resources had agreed that a comprehensive environmental review was needed.

The company will have to submit an environmental assessment, which the ministry, technical experts and the public will then review.The quarry would extend below the water table, and its operators would have to pump 600 million liters of water each day to keep the mine, and later rehabilitated farmland, from becoming a lake.

The development has faced opposition from the area's wealthy retirees, local farmers and the environmental lobby.
Highland Companies could not immediately be reached for comment.

Baupost, which was reported last year to have $23 billion in assets, does not often publicize its investments and returns.
Klarman's reported double-digit returns over more than two decades and his celebrated book on value investing - 'Margin of Safety' - mean investors closely track his portfolio picks.

His investment in Highland is in line with recent efforts by hedge funds to seek profits beyond traditional investments such as stocks and bonds.

Oxfam- Take action: Protect Guatemalan rights activists.

Oxfam - Take action: Protect Guatemalan rights activists.
Defending the rights of the poor and marginalized is often dangerous – and right now, two of Oxfam’s Guatemalan partners are under direct threat for their lives.

Yuri Melini and Rafael Maldonado recently received death threats – and we need your voice, now, to ensure that these threats don’t come to fruition. Melini and Maldonado work daily on oil and mining issues in Guatemala and this week received death threats in the mail in connection with their work to protect human rights and expose corruption in the natural resource sectors. We need to get the public eye on this case immediately – please don’t stay silent.

Please send a message to the President of Guatemala – we must do everything we can, NOW, to protect our Oxfam partners.
Human rights defenders have a right to carry out their work without fear of reprisals, as set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. As such, we call on you to immediately:

1. Order an independent, thorough and impartial investigation into the threats made against CALAS staff, publish the results, and bring those responsible to justice.
2. Take immediate steps to provide full and appropriate protection to Rafael Maldonado and Yuri Melini, as well as other CALAS staff members, in accordance with their wishes.
We won't stand by while CALAS workers are threatened.


Canadian Action on Tar Sands: Sept 25,

Join Us This Fall ! |
There comes a time when you need to take a stand. When sending letters and signing petitions isn't enough. When together we must say, "enough is enough — not on our watch". That time is now. We must act together for the health of our planet, our air, our water, our climate, and our children.

On September 26th we need you to come to Ottawa to join a historic action to oppose the tar sands. In a large peaceful protest, many will be risking arrest to tell the Harper government that we don’t support his reckless agenda; that we want to turn away from the toxic tar sands industry; and that we oppose the direction he's taking this country.

In the U.S., people by the thousands are taking a stand. From Aug 20th to Sept. 3rd, thousands are pledging to risk arrest in daily acts of civil disobedience to convince President Obama to reject the Keystone XL pipeline that would bring dirty tar sands oil to the U.S. On September 26th, we will stand up to Prime Minister Harper to pressure him to stem the tar sands industry at its source.

Tar sands mining and other extreme forms of energy extraction like Arctic drilling, shale fracking, and nuclear power generation send us in the exact opposite direction that we, as a civilization, must go to ensure global survival. If we burn the tar sands, we blot our nation's reputation; if we leave that carbon in the ground, we'll do the world an enormous favour.

On September 26th we are asking you to come to Ottawa to participate in one of the largest acts of civil disobedience on the climate issue that Canada has ever seen.

Be a part of turning Canada away from the toxic tar sands industry. Help forge the future we all want to live in.

If you are interested and willing to take action email or go to to sign-up today. It will be a powerful day, and more powerful if you're a part of it: email or go to  to sign-up today.

The Council of Canadians
Greenpeace Canada
Indigenous Environmental Network

This summer, 11 veteran U.S. and Canadian scientists and environmentalists — Maude Barlow, Wendell Berry, Tom Goldtooth, Danny Glover, James Hansen, Wes Jackson, Naomi Klein, Bill McKibben, George Poitras, David Suzuki, and Gus Speth — issued a continental call-out. The call was for people right across the U.S. to come to Washington D.C. and join in two weeks of non-violent civil disobedience actions to try to stop the massive tar sands Keystone XL pipeline. The response has been overwhelming.

Knowing the horrific impacts a mega-pipeline from the tar sands in Alberta to refineries in the U.S. gulf coast would pose to communities, waterways, ecosystems and the planet, people are signing up by the thousands. They are pledging to risk arrest to draw a line in the sand and say “no.” They'll deliver that message by daily risking arrest until the project is stopped. On September 26th, we have a chance to match their courage and do the same in Ottawa. Send your messages of support to 2,000 brave folks sitting in at the White House

Send your messages of support to 2,000 brave folks sitting in at the White House |
Snap a pix on your cell phone, and email it to and they'll post it to the Tar Sands protest.

Tar Sands Action

Tar Sands Action
another Tar Sands Petition, endorsed by Al Gore, et. al

Tell President Obama: No to Keystone XL
"The tar sands represent a catastrophic threat to our communities, our climate, and our planet. We urge you to demonstrate real climate leadership by rejecting the requested permit for the Keystone XL pipeline and instead focus on developing safe, clean energy."

Speculating with Lives: How Global Investors Make Money Out of Hunger -

Speculating with Lives: How Global Investors Make Money Out of Hunger
In recent years, the financial markets have discovered the huge opportunities presented by agricultural commodities. The consequences are devastating, as speculators drive up food prices and plunge millions of people into poverty. But investors care little about the effects of their deals in the real world.

Alarming article - M

Violence Against Women and Girls in the Horn of Africa

Sarah Costa: Violence Against Women and Girls in the Horn of Africa: The Untold Story
Why latrines with locks, and cooking fuel alternatives are critical to the safety of women in disaster and displacement
.....Based on years of research and direct experience, the Women's Refugee Commission has identified the top ten critical needs facing displaced women and girls in crisis-affected settings. Our immediate recommendations include not only ensuring that they have safe access to basic necessities, such as food, cooking fuel, potable water, sanitation and shelter, but that they are protected from sexual violence and that health care, particularly reproductive health care, is available. Victims of sexual violence must also receive psychosocial support. The recently updated Minimum Initial Service Package for reproductive health outlines the basic measures needed to respond to the priority reproductive health needs of women and girls from the onset of a crisis. Governments and humanitarian agencies have initiated these efforts, but activities must be rapidly scaled up to meet the magnitude of the need.
One of the greatest risks the women and girls face arises out of what should be a simple task -- cooking for their families. Most of the food rations they receive from humanitarian agencies -- lentils, flour and a corn-soya blend -- need to be cooked. But often they don't receive cooking fuel, and firewood is becoming harder and harder to find because of widespread deforestation caused by the large influx of displaced persons over the past several decades. Women and girls have to go deeper into the desert around the camps to find wood, which makes them more vulnerable to sexual assault and rape. The solution is simple: they should have safe access to the cooking fuel required to cook the food rations they receive. Given the level of environmental degradation in the region, this will require the international community to invest more in alternative fuel sources and to promote fuel-efficient stoves.
There are other solutions that should not be difficult to implement. For example, women's and girls' risks of sexual violence would be greatly reduced if the camps had better lighting, latrines with locks and tighter security.
As the world responds to this and other emergencies, the particular plight of women and girls has to be put into better focus. Humanitarian agencies must recognize that women and girls are almost always among those at most risk in such crises and that their specific needs -- and rights -- must be met. If we don't take these most basic measures to protect them, we will further compound the tragedy and the devastating impact it is having on them....

Avaaz - Australia: the next great hope for climate

Avaaz - Australia: the next great hope for climate
Right now, a major climate fight is blowing up in Australia -- the government is about to pass a law that would cut carbon emissions and get polluters to pay. But big businesses, backed by Rupert Murdoch, are trying to kill the bill.

This carbon pricing law is a win win measure -- it will push dirty businesses towards clean production and tax polluters, generating more resources for working families. If it passes, it will spur other major emitters to follow suit and could be the next best hope for climate. But Murdoch's megaphone of fear is massive -- he owns seventy percent of Australia's press. If together we can drown out his campaign to crush the bill with messages of hope from across the world, we could help it pass.

This battle is being fought on the Australian air waves now. Sign the urgent petition to back this bold initiative -- when we reach 250,000 signatures, we’ll run inspiring radio ads that deliver our global messages, lay out the benefits of the law and rouse public support:

From across the world we applaud the Australian proposal to tackle climate change through carbon pricing and investment in solutions for the future. With this law Australia will join a slew of forward thinking governments and will spur other major emitters to take bold action. We urge you to support your government's determination to fight for our planet's future.