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.


Scientists fear Canada will fish bluefin tuna and other species to extinction -

Scientists fear Canada will fish bluefin tuna and other species to extinction -
Top marine scientists are denouncing Canada’s management of fish stocks as a commercially driven approach threatening to wipe out species at risk.
The attack comes from two senior members of the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) — the body mandated by federal law to advise the government on species at risk.
They note the federal government has consistently refused to list several endangered fish under the Species at Risk Act, which would make their fishing or trade illegal. They include Atlantic cod, cusk and porbeagle shark.
During the act’s 10-year history, “there has not been a commercially exploited fish — assessed as endangered or threatened — that has been included on that list,” says Jeffrey Hutchings, a biology professor at Dalhousie University and member and former chair of COSEWIC.
Commercial interests always trump ecological ones, Hutchings charges. A stark example, he insists, is the porbeagle shark, whose population has declined by at least 85 per cent since the 1960s. It was assessed by COSEWIC as endangered in 2004. The government refused to list it as a species at risk because a handful of Canadians were fishing it.
Today, a dozen fishermen have licences to fish porbeagle in the Atlantic. No one used the licence to fish them this year and only one fisherman did so in each of the last two years. Yet Canada, which fishes more porbeagle than any other country, was roundly criticized last month for blocking a European proposal at an international conference that would have ended porbeagle fishing.
“Our (international) reputation is very poor,” says Alan Sinclair, a COSEWIC expert on fish populations who retired from the federal Department of Fisheries and oceans three years ago.
“We used to be a leader internationally in conservation and protecting our fish resources back in the 1970s and ’80s,” he adds. “Now people look at us and I’m sure they shake their heads and wonder what the heck is going on in Canada.”
Frustration hit a boiling point when Canada pushed for an increase in the bluefin tuna fishing quota at a meeting of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) in November. At the same time back home, the government was consulting Canadians on whether to list bluefin tuna as a species at risk, a process triggered by COSEWIC’s 2011 assessment of bluefin as “endangered.”...

CCAT will be setting up workshops with scientists and government officials to try to resolve what Scattolon calls the recruitment “conundrum.” Until then, critics say Canada should err on the side of caution.
In Canada, Hutchings doesn’t see stock management improving until Canadians become better informed about what he describes as a dire state of affairs.
“There are few if any political costs in this country to making bad ocean management decisions,” says Hutchings, who recently chaired the Royal Society of Canada’s expert panel on marine biodiversity. “If there were political costs, we wouldn’t see these types of decisions being made on an almost routine basis.”


Saudi Arabia uses capital offence of ‘apostasy’ to stifle debate | Amnesty International Canada

Saudi Arabia uses capital offence of ‘apostasy’ to stifle debate | Amnesty International Canada

A court in Saudi Arabia has decided to proceed with the prosecution of an online activist for apostasy, a charge which carries the death penalty, in what Amnesty International said is a new bid to stifle political and social debate.
On 22 December the General Court in Jeddah had Raif Badawi, 25, sign documents to enable his trial on apostasy charges to go ahead, after his case was passed to it by a District Court on 17 December.
Badawi – who founded “Saudi Arabian Liberals”, a website for political and social debate – has been in detention since June 2012 on charges including “setting up a website that undermines general security” and ridiculing Islamic religious figures.
Amnesty International considers him to be a prisoner of conscience, detained solely for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression.
“Even in Saudi Arabia where state repression is rife, it is beyond the pale to seek the death penalty for an activist whose only ‘crime’ was to enable social debate online,” said Philip Luther, Director of Amnesty Internationals Middle East and North Africa Program.
“Raif Badawi’s trial for ‘apostasy’ is a clear case of intimidation against him and others who seek to engage in open debates about the issues that Saudi Arabians face in their daily lives. He is a prisoner of conscience who must be released immediately and unconditionally.”
Badawi’s trial began in June 2012 in a Jeddah District Court and was rife with irregularities.
According to his lawyer, the original trial judge was replaced by another judge who had previously advocated that Badawi be punished for apostasy. His lawyer has contested the judge’s impartiality in the case.
The charges against Badawi relate to a number of articles, including one he wrote about Valentine’s Day – the celebration of which is prohibited in Saudi Arabia.
He was accused of ridiculing Saudi Arabia’s Commission on the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice – also known as the religious police – in the conclusion of his article: “Congratulations to us for the Commission on the Promotion of Virtue for teaching us virtue and for its eagerness to ensure that all members of the Saudi public are among the people of paradise”.
The charges against Badawi also mention his failure to remove articles by other people on his website – including one insinuating that the al-Imam Mohamed ibn Saud University had become “a den for terrorists”.
“Articles on Badawi’s website included references to individuals or institutions that some people might have found offensive, but charging him with criminal offences punishable by imprisonment or execution cannot be justified on any level,” said Luther.

“The Saudi Arabian authorities must end their intolerance of people peacefully exercising their legitimate right to freedom of expression.”
For further information contact John Tackaberry,Media Relations  

Idle No More: A crucial call for justice | Amnesty International Canada

Idle No More: A crucial call for justice | Amnesty International Canada
Tuesday, December 18, 2012 - 13:32
Grassroots rallies across Canada under the banner 'Idle No More' have put the spotlight on a federal legislative agenda that is trampling the rights of Indigenous peoples set out in  domestic and international law.
Bill C-45, the omnibus budget bill, introduced changes to the Indian Act, including measures that would make it easier for First Nations to 'surrender' their lands, even without the support of the majority of their members. The omnibus bill also further narrowed the scope of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, and numerous related laws, so that resource development projects on the traditional lands of Indigenous peoples will be much less likely to be subject to a rigorous public environmental impact assessment. These changes are on top of dramatic restrictions on environmental assessments already passed in the previous budget bill.
These are not the only legislative changes that raise concerns. For example, as Amnesty International has previously highlighted, a Senate bill to regulate First Nations water services asserts the power to unilaterally disregard treaty rights.
These changes in legislation have the potential to profoundly affect the rights and lives of Indigenous peoples. In each case, these legislative changes have been brought forward without adequate or meaningful consultation with Indigenous peoples - and in many case, over their clearly expressed opposition.
International human rights standards, such as the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, require that decisions affecting the rights of Indigenous peoples be made only with their full and effective participation. And when the decisions concern the lands and resources of Indigenous peoples, the appropriate standard is generally, if not always, free, prior and informed consent.
The rushed adoption of new laws affecting the rights of First Nations, Inuit and M├ętis peoples not only violates these international human rights standards, it falls far short of the legal requirements established in Canadian law.
In Canada, the rights of Indigenous peoples are enshrined in the Constitution and set out in nation to nation Treaties.  The Supreme Court has clearly said that Parliament cannot ignore these rights. There must be "reconciliation" between the power of the state and the prior sovereignty of Indigenous peoples. Laws passed by Parliament must be balanced against the laws, customs and perspectives of Indigenous peoples and "equal weight" must be given to each. Any infringement on Indigenous rights must be strictly justified. The government must deal "honourably" with both the established and the asserted rights of Indigenous peoples. And in every case, in order to uphold the "honour of the Crown", there must be good faith consultations to ensure that Indigenous peoples' concerns are at least "substantially addressed."
The Idle No More movement is a vital, grassroots response to the blatant disregard for the rights of Indigenous peoples that is being demonstrated by Parliament. Amnesty International members are encouraged to learn more about the movement and to get involved in rallies in their own communities. Many have already done so.
For more information, please see:


FDA Quietly Pushes Through Genetically Modified Salmon Over Christmas Break

FDA Quietly Pushes Through Genetically Modified Salmon Over Christmas Break | NationofChange
While you were likely resting or enjoying time with friends and family over the Christmas break, the United States Food and Drug Administration was hard at work ramming through genetically modified salmon towards the final acceptance process. Despite the frankenfish actually being blocked by Congress last year over serious health and environmental concerns, the FDA is making a massive push to release the genetically modified salmon into the world as the FDA-backed biotech giant and creator of the fish AquaAdvantage screams for profits...
What to do?  There are a number of methods here, but first and foremost the word needs to be spread far and wide that genetically modified salmon is being pushed through by the FDA. People despise GM products on average, with 90 plus percent in favor of at least labeling. In addition, there is a petition going around to send to politicians to ask them to stop this approval as they did in 2011.
Ultimately, it comes down to opposition. If enough people know this is coming and are very upset about it, they will have trouble ramming it through. That’s why they announce these things over Christmas weekend. They don’t want anyone to even hear about it — they want to make it harder to popularize since hardly anyone saw it.
We can beat this as we did back in 2011, and the FDA knows it. Their dirty tactics are not effective in the technological age in which the transfer of information is more powerful than ever. Share this news and spread the word. Block genetically modified salmon from getting put on your dinner table without any labels.

| Tell President Obama and the FDA you won't eat GMO salmon!

Food Democracy Now | Tell President Obama and the FDA you won't eat GMO salmon!

Right now President Obama and bureaucrats at the FDA are preparing to unleash genetically engineered salmon on the market. After years of controversial regulatory review, this past week, the Obama administration cleared a final hurdle for AquaBounty’s GMO salmon to be approved at any moment.
On Friday, December 21st, 2012, FDA bureaucrats declared that AquaBounty’s GMO salmon poses no “significant” risk to the environment. This recent FDA decision comes on top of the agency’s 2010 declaration that the GMO salmon were safe for humans to eat, despite no independent long-term studies. Once again, the FDA is putting corporate science over public health.
If approved, AquaBounty’s GMO salmon would be the first genetically engineered animal to be sold for human consumption and could appear in restaurants and supermarkets as early 2013.
We can't allow this to happen. Tell President Obama and the FDA that you won't eat GMO salmon!

First Nations prepared to fight Harper government, Enbridge in international court | The Vancouver Observer

First Nations prepared to fight Harper government, Enbridge in international court | The Vancouver Observer

Dancer Harriet Prince from Manitoba
Harriet Prince, a visitor from Manitoba dances at the Idle No More rally outside the Vancouver Art Gallery.
Darla Goodwin wasn’t surprised when she first heard about the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline.
“We have ancient pictorials and scrolls that speak of a time when the women rise up,” she said. “A great snake was supposed to cross the land and poison Turtle Island, and we’re looking at that as the pipeline.”
Goodwin, an organizer for the Idle No More Vancouver and a member of the Cree First Nation, points to a prophecy, made several hundred years ago and passed down through the indigenous peoples of North America, that describes a time when a great snake will travel across the country, poisoning the land, the water and the air. There is another prophecy that references a time when one of the races would lose its way, and it would be up to the others—the women in particular—to remind the fallen nation what is means to steward the land.
She said her people were definitely not surprised when four women from Saskatchewan founded Idle No More in response to Bill C-45 and began a movement that now spans the country.
Matriarchal First Nations societies are based on traditional teachings of the moon and earth as female beings, the Mother and the Grandmother, and the 28-day cycle.
“In our culture the women are actually the leaders of our community,” Goodwin said. “The clan mothers were the ones who decided when people would move, they decided who married who, what grounds were good to hunt on.”
Goodwin’s grandfather was present for the signing of Treaty 4, but she said it was the clan mothers who decided what needed to go into that treaty.
“Traditionally, non-indigenous folks would see chiefs standing out in front, but what the people didn’t know was that those chiefs took their directions from the women.”
Now, with the Enbridge hearings taking place in BC and Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence entering her third week without food in Ontario, Goodwin said the struggles of First Nations across the country come down to one key issue: will Stephen Harper respect indigenous land rights?
One of the biggest misconceptions non-indigenous Canadians have, she said, is that Crown lands belong to the government.
“All the Crown land across Canada is owned by Aboriginal people and Canadians do not know that.” BC’s unceded Coast Salish territory, while not covered by its own treaty, is still Crown land, and by law, the federal government is required to have free, prior and informed consent from First Nations before undertaking any measure that affects the land.
“I don’t foresee Harper backpedalling whatsoever,” Goodwin said. “I know that our next stop as indigenous people is to fight him on an international scale. … And if it has to go to international court, it will. Until we lose in international court we will not stop.”
But Goodwin is quick to stress that this is not an indigenous movement. It’s not solely about a First Nations issue. It’s a labour movement and it’s a women’s movement. It’s a people’s movement in response to a human rights issue.
This was immediately apparent today at the Idle No More Vancouver rally on the steps at the Vancouver Art Gallery where First Nations leaders and youth were flanked by members of the BC Nurses’ Union, CUPE and migrant justice group No One is Illegal.


Why ‘Idle No More’ is gaining strength, and why all Canadians should care -

Why ‘Idle No More’ is gaining strength, and why all Canadians should care -
First, it is a matter of social and environmental justice. When corporate profit is privileged over the health of our lands and waters, we all suffer. When government stifles debate, democracy is diminished. Bill C-45 is just the latest in a slew of legislation that undermines Canadians’ rights. In standing against it, the First Nations are standing for us too.
Second, as Justice Linden of the Ipperwash Inquiry said, “we are all treaty people.” When our governments unilaterally impose legislation on the First Nations, they dishonour the Crown, they dishonour us, and they dishonour our treaty relationship. We are responsible for ensuring that our governments fulfill their commitments. If our governments do not respect Indigenous and treaty rights, then the very legitimacy of the Canadian state — and thus of all our citizenship rights — is in doubt. That’s what Idle No More is about.


Tar Sands Battle Takes Distinct Turns in Vermont, Montana

Tar Sands Battle Takes Distinct Turns in Vermont, Montana | Common Dreams
As the battle over transporting tar sands out of Alberta continues, two distinct paths emerged on Monday, one chosen by Burlington, Vermont and the other by Montana, and show how decisions made at the local level can have serious impacts for ongoing battles over fossil fuel infrastructure projects.

Burlington VT City Council on Monday night voted its disapproval over the transport of tar sands oil, which it termed as an unacceptable risk to "public health and safety, property values and our natural resources."

To make sure the message is loud and clear to those involved in the prospective pipeline, the resolution also requires that
the Council transmit a copy of the resolution to the governor of Vermont, the Vermont Congressional delegation, the Canadian Prime Minister, and the CEOs of companies associated with the pipeline: Portland Pipe Line Corporation, Montreal Pipe Line Limited, Imperial Oil Limited, Exxon Mobil Corporation, Enbridge, Inc., BP and Royal Dutch Shell.
While campaigners fighting for a tar sands-free New England celebrated the victory in Burlington, a decision in Montana offered nothing to cheer about.
KPAX Missoula reports:
On Monday, the state's top lawmakers green-lighted the Keystone XL pipeline route in Montana allowing the line to cross two of Montana's largest rivers.
The Keystone XL is a proposed oil pipeline which would span 1,200 miles from Alberta, Canada, through Montana to Nebraska.
The State Land Board, made up of Montana's top five elected officials, approved nearly 40 easements running through seven Montana counties, giving TransCanada permission to put the pipeline on state land.
The Great Falls Tribune adds that the state board decision came despite objections from environmental groups, including Jim Jensen of the Montana Environmental Information Center, who argued that the pipeline would jeopardize the Missouri and Yellowstone rivers.


Monsanto Protection Act being slipped into Ag Bill

According to sources in DC, Monsanto has once again succeeded in slipping provisions into the House Agricultural Appropriations Bill that have now been added to an omnibus spending bill that certain members of the House of Representatives are desperate to get passed before the end of the year. The Monsanto Protection Act could pass as early as next week and we need your help today. Click here to stop the Monsanto Protection Act and tell your member of Congress to stand up for your rights and the Constitution!
These riders, which we dubbed the "Monsanto Protection Act" earlier this year, would strip federal courts of their authority to halt the sale and planting of an illegal and potentially hazardous GMO crop.
As they did earlier this summer, these new provisions, called “riders”, would allow biotech companies to continue to sell their unapproved seeds to farmers, who could plant them while important legal appeals are taking place, instead of halting the planting of the unapproved crop until the court settled the appeal as has been done up until now.
In classic form, the biotech industry has cleverly hidden their toxic plan under the deceptive title of a “Farmer Assurance Provision” (Sec. 733). In truth, the “Monsanto Protection Act” would allow the biotech industry to continue to flout American legal precedence and violate the constitutional separation of powers set forth by our Founding Fathers.
In short, the “Farmer Assurance Provision” is the greatest threat to farmers’ and citizens’ rights that Monsanto and the biotech industry has ever devised and it must be stopped - today!
Click here to stop the Monsanto Protection Act and tell your member of Congress to stand up for your rights and the Constitution!
According to legal experts, this provision “would create a precedent-setting limitation on judicial review” and is a “dangerous assault on fundamental federal and judicial safeguards”.
This current rider is a response to the successful lawsuits that farmers have filed to prevent the sale, distribution and cultivation of GMO sugarbeets and GMO alfalfa, both of which were forced to stop from being planted while the USDA finalized full environment reviews. But once again, Monsanto and the biotech industry are working behind the scenes to shred vital legal rights simply so they can make endless profits.
If allowed to pass, the Monsanto Protection Act would:
  • Violate the constitutional precedent of separation of powers by interfering with the process of judicial review.
  • Eliminate federal agency oversight to protect farmers, consumers and the environment from potential harms caused by unapproved biotech crops.
  • Allow Monsanto and biotech seed and chemical companies to profit by overriding the rule of law and plant their untested GMO crops despite no proof of their safety for the public and environment.
Click here to stop the Monsanto Protection Act and tell your member of Congress to stand up for your rights and the Constitution!
No matter what you believe about GMOs, the fact is that corporations should not have the right to fundamentally undermine our basic rights and constitutional freedoms in their relentless pursuit of profits. Even the consideration of this dangerous provision is a sign of just how much power Monsanto has over our federal government and how far the biotech industry will go to force its genetically engineered food on to the American public.
If allowed to pass, the Monsanto Protection Act will only open farmers and the agricultural economy to very real and significant harm from cross-contamination events. Currently, the Plant Protection Act requires the USDA to regulate GMO crops to protect “the agriculture, environment and economy of the United States”. As a result of previous lawsuits, the USDA is required to complete court-mandated environmental impact statements (EIS) prior to the sale and planting of GMO crops, but even the USDA has shown little regard for this law.
Now, the new provision set forth in the FY 2013 House Agricultural Appropriations Bill and added to a new omnibus spending bill will allow biotech seed and chemical companies to openly skirt even minimal protections of human health and environmental concerns.
Fortunately, Congressman Peter DeFazio (OR-D) is working to circulate a Dear Colleague letter to fellow Representatives in an effort to strike the “farmer assurance provision” currently included in the Agriculture Appropriations Bill and we need your help to make sure your member of Congress signs this important letter to stop the Monsanto Protection Act.
Join Food Democracy Now! and our allies to help stop the Monsanto Protection Act. It’s time that our elected officials start putting our rights over the profits of Monsanto and biotech companies.


Texas landowner secures temporary restraining order against Keystone XL |

Texas landowner secures temporary restraining order against Keystone XL | The Raw Story

A Texas landowner in Nacogdoches County secured a temporary restraining order on Tuesday against the southern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline by arguing that tar sands is not actually a type of oil.
Judge Jack Sinz granted the order without first notifying TransCanada, the company behind the ambitious pipeline that aims to transport Canadian tar sands to the Texas gulf coast for further refinement. In his ruling, Judge Sinz noted that the order was granted immediately because construction had already begun on the plaintiff’s property and any delay could potentially result in further damages. A hearing on the matter is set for Wednesday, December 19.
“You can’t argue the science,” 64-year-old Michael Bishop, the plaintiff in the case, told Raw Story on Tuesday. “That’s number one. TransCanada has defrauded the American people into thinking this is crude oil coming in from Canada and is going to be the savior of America. It’s just beyond me. This has been totally misrepresented. The people have been misled. Landowners have been coerced and bullied into thinking the company has the power of eminent domain.”
Bishop, who’s representing himself in the case, has filed several lawsuits in an effort to stop TransCanada’s pipeline, but unlike other land owners who’ve sued over abuse of eminent domain — or protesters who’ve taken to physically blocking construction or simply living in east Texas trees — Bishop has a different strategy.
“He believes that TransCanada has defrauded the people of Texas and of the United States in misrepresenting this as a crude oil pipeline, when it’s not,” Christine Wilson, consultant for Public Citizen Texas, told Raw Story. “He feels that he has a good case. He’s asked for a jury trial for his ultimate permanent injunction case. He intends to prove that diluted bitumen is not crude oil.”


Nutmeg: | 17th century Monsanto-like violent Monopoly wars

Nutmeg: A Spice with a Secret That Isn't So Nice | Care2 Causes
What people do for food — or, I should say, what people do to make money on food. To a degree, the Dutch East India Company is not unlike today’s food corporations, whose pursuit of profits comes at considerable cost to people and planet. 
It’s a spice whose aroma evokes warm memories of the holidays for many — baked into pumpkin pies, kneaded into sausages and sprinkled atop mugs of eggnog. It has a pungent, earthy and slightly sweet taste, making it versatile for use in a variety of foods and beverages. You can find it just about anywhere these days and especially this time of year. But that wasn’t always the case, as Allison Aubrey of NPR recently reminded us.
Until the 18th and 19th centuries, nutmeg was a lot harder to come by. Indigenous to the Banda islands, part of the Moluccas (the Spice Islands) of Indonesia, this was also once the only place in the world that nutmeg grew. And once European spice traders learned of its existence, they began to battle for exclusive rights to the spice.
In the early 17th century, the Dutch East India Company (VOC) seized the islands from the Portuguese and moved to monopolize the trade with what Oliver Thring, writing for the Guardian, described as “paranoid brutality, banning the export of the trees, drenching every nutmeg in lime before shipping to render it infertile, and imposing the death penalty on anyone suspected of stealing, growing or selling nutmegs elsewhere.” The Dutch, in fact, perpetrated a massacre.
When some native islanders dared protest, the head of the VOC “ordered the systematic quartering and beheading of every Bandanese male over the age of 15. The population of the Banda islands was around 15,000 when the VOC arrived. 15 years later, it was 600.” An entire population decimated, and for what? A bit of flavoring for food?
Nutmeg wasn’t just a spice, though. It was also used as an incense as well as a medicine that was supposed to cure stomach ailments, headaches and fever. It was even thought to ward off plague. At one point in the 1300s, a pound of nutmeg cost seven fattened oxen.
At any rate, the Dutch clearly wanted the monopoly on nutmeg, which it just about had but for one nutmeg-producing island held by the British, called Run. After decades of skirmishes, the two companies agreed to a swap in the mid-17th century. In handing over Run to the Dutch, the British got a trading post out west that we now know as Manhattan.
In 1769, a French horticulturist named Pierre Poivre managed to smuggle some nutmeg from the Banda islands to Mauritius, ending the Dutch monopoly at last. The British East India Company brought the tree to Penang, Singapore, India, the West Indies and Grenada, which is now the second largest producer of nutmeg.
What people do for food — or, I should say, what people do to make money on food. To a degree, the Dutch East India Company is not unlike today’s food corporations, whose pursuit of profits comes at considerable cost to people and planet.


World Bank backs land grabs in poor nations » Send Flaherty a Card!

World Bank backs land grabs in poor nations »
OXFAM says:
Globally, an area more than double the size of British Columbia has been sold off in the rush for land. That's land that could feed nearly 900 million people — the number of people who go to bed hungry every night.

Oxfam's research shows that land sold as "unused" or "undeveloped" is often being used by women to grow food, raise livestock and collect water and firewood for their families. But because women have very limited ownership of land to begin with, it is even easier for companies to take this land away from them.

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty’s birthday is December 30, and he is Canada’s governor of the World Bank. Oxfam Canada is urging Minister Flaherty to speak up on land grabs at the World Bank spring meeting. Send him this birthday card to help us get the message across. Here’s how:
  1. Download and print the birthday card.
    You can get it black and white, or in full colour. Make sure your printer is set to double-sided.
  2. Personalize the card by adding your return mailing address and signing it.
  3. Fold the card in half along the ‘fold’ line, and tape it shut.
  4. Drop it in the nearest mailbox anywhere in Canada. You do not need to add a stamp to send a letter to a Member of Parliament.
  5. Ask your friends to share this card on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, by email or in person. Consider printing off a bunch of letters and leaving them in your staff room or other community space for others to sign and send.
Oxfam Canada is calling on Canada’s governor for the World Bank, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, to encourage the World Bank to help end land grabs.
Ending land grabs is possible, but for it to happen, effective global action is necessary.
Learn more about land grabs and what it will take to stop them.


Oil And Gas Lobbying In Canada Overshadows All Other Pressure Groups: Polaris Study

Oil And Gas Lobbying In Canada Overshadows All Other Pressure Groups: Polaris Study
OTTAWA - A new study reveals heavy lobbying by the oil and gas industry has far outstripped any other interest group seeking to influence the Harper government over the last four years.
The left-leaning Polaris Institute contends that the more than 2,700 meetings between oil and gas lobbyists and federal office holders since 2008 have helped turn Canada into what it calls a petro state.
The Conservative government continues to rewrite or repeal laws governing environmental assessments, navigable waterways and other measures it says are an impediment to major resource developments.
Using the lobbyist registry to track meetings, the Polaris study shows that oil and gas interests dwarfed contact by other major industry groups, including the mining industry, car makers and the forestry industry.
The study found that environmental groups were all but shut out by the Conservative government.
The reports' authors say in a release that Canadians should be aware of the amount of lobbying by the oil and gas industry and its impact on public policy decisions.


Commemorating World AIDS Day  - December 1, 2012

Commemorating World AIDS Day  - December 1, 2012

World AIDS Day is on December 1, 2012.  It brings together people from around the world to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS.  Leading up to this annual observance is the Canadian HIV/AIDS Awareness Week (November 24 – December 1).  Communities from across the country will be hosting events and/or activities to commemorate the importance behind the day.  The goal – to increase awareness on the continued struggles as well as to highlight the perpetual hope for a cure.  It is a demonstration of international solidarity in the face of this pandemic.  World AIDS Day is also an opportunity for public and private partners to advocate and shepherd continued progress in HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care for people living with the disease around the world. 
World AIDS Day is dedicated to the memories of those who have lost their battle to the disease but also to honour those who continue to live with it.  The day also celebrates the amount of progress already achieved in the global response to HIV/AIDS. 
To look for an event in your area, click here:   

Thursday - NYC Fast Food Workers Strike - NYC Fast Food Workers Strike
Emile Brolick, the CEO of Wendy's, is probably sitting at his desk having his morning coffee right now. By lunch time, he will have earned more than $11,009.95. That's more than I take home in a year as a regular Wendy's employee.

That's why I am walking out of the Wendy's at 125th and Lexington in New York City. Hundreds of my coworkers are doing the same, demanding higher wages and the right to form a union without interference.

Fast food workers like me barely scrape by on minimum wage while corporate executives take home millions. And despite the stereotype, most of us are not teenagers working after school. We're grown adults with kids of our own and bills to pay. Many people have worked in fast food for years and never received a raise from $7.25 an hour.

Going on strike is a big deal—and to win we need the support of the general public. If we can get 50,000 people to sign the petition by our Day of Solidarity on December 6th, we'll hand deliver your signatures to CEO headquarters all over the country. We know this is a David vs Goliath battle—workers against a $200 billion industry—but we can win if Americans from all walks of life stand in solidarity with us.

I am only one of more than 50,000 New Yorkers working in the fast food industry. With average annual incomes as low as $11,000, many fast food workers must turn to public assistance to make ends meet. We are striking today because we believe fast food companies should pay workers enough to be able to pay for basic needs like food, clothing, and rent.

Companies like McDonald's, Wendy's, Burger King, and Pizza Hut reap huge profits and shower CEOs with exorbitant compensation while many of their employees qualify for food stamps—and it's time to do something about it.

Don't stand for the minimum wage. Stand for something greater. Sign the petition today.


Secretary of State Candidate Has a Major Financial Stake in Canadian Tar Sands | OnEarth Magazine

Secretary of State Candidate Has a Major Financial Stake in Canadian Tar Sands | OnEarth Magazine
Susan Rice, the candidate believed to be favored by President Obama to become the next Secretary of State, holds significant investments in more than a dozen Canadian oil companies and banks that would stand to benefit from expansion of the North American tar sands industry and construction of the proposed $7 billion Keystone XL pipeline. If confirmed by the Senate, one of Rice’s first duties likely would be consideration, and potentially approval, of the controversial mega-project.
Rice's financial holdings could raise questions about her status as a neutral decision maker. The current U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Rice owns stock valued between $300,000 and $600,000 in TransCanada, the company seeking a federal permit to transport tar sands crude 1,700 miles to refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast, crossing fragile Midwest ecosystems and the largest freshwater aquifer in North America.
Beyond that, according to financial disclosure reports, about a third of Rice’s personal net worth is tied up in oil producers, pipeline operators, and related energy industries north of the 49th parallel -- including companies with poor environmental and safety records on both U.S. and Canadian soil. Rice and her husband own at least $1.25 million worth of stock in four of Canada’s eight leading oil producers, as ranked by Forbes magazine. That includes Enbridge, which spilled more than a million gallons of toxic bitumen into Michigan’s Kalamazoo River in 2010 -- the largest inland oil spill in U.S. history.
Rice also has smaller stakes in several other big Canadian energy firms, as well as the country’s transportation companies and coal-fired utilities. Another 20 percent or so of her personal wealth is derived from investments in five Canadian banks. These are some of the institutions that provide loans and financial backing to TransCanada and its competitors for tar sands extraction and major infrastructure projects, such as Keystone XL and Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway pipeline, which would stretch 700 miles from Alberta to the Canadian coast.
In 2010, for instance, when Rice and her husband held at least $1.5 million in Royal Bank of Canada, the institution was labeled Canada's most environmentally irresponsible company by the Rainforest Action Network for its support of tar sands development. Public pressure from environmentalists and Canada’s First Nations tribes convinced the bank to stop funding tar sands projects earlier this year....
On the banking side, Rice has investments totaling at least $5 million and up to $11.25 million in Bank of Montreal, Bank of Nova Scotia, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, Royal Bank of Canada, and Toronto Dominion. A report by the Dutch consulting firm Profundo Economic Research says several of these same banks are largely responsible for underwriting the expansion of Canada’s tar sands industry. “Investment in tar sands infrastructure now surpasses that of manufacturing across all of Canada,” according to the report.
Which means that regardless of Keystone XL’s fate, Canadian companies will continue to seek ways to pump bitumen from northern Canada to coastal refineries and ports, where it can be shipped to Europe, China, and other overseas markets. NRDC and other environmental groups have presented evidence that Enbridge is making plans to reverse a pipeline that currently carries regular crude from the New England coast to Montreal, and use it to ship tar sands oil in the other direction instead.
Since it crosses the U.S.-Canadian border, that plan would also require State Department approval.

One-third of Members of European Parliament vote against fracking

One-third of Members of European Parliament vote against fracking |
On November 21, 262 Members of the European Parliament -- more than one-third of MEPs -- voted in support of a moratorium on fracking in Europe.
Food & Water Europe comments, “While it is disappointing that a majority of the Parliament did not agree that an appropriate response to the documented risks of fracking is a moratorium, the reports and moratorium vote were only the first skirmish in the long-term battle to permanently ban fracking from Europe. Food & Water Europe -- together with civil society groups across Europe -- will continue to work with MEPs to increase awareness of the risks and negative impacts associated with large-scale unconventional gas activities.”
While MEPs express concern about fracking, the Canadian embassy and corporate interests have actively been promoting this controversial practise in Europe.

Stephen Harper: Palestinian Statehood Bid To Get 'No' Vote

Stephen Harper: Palestinian Statehood Bid To Get 'No' Vote
[though UK and FRANCE are voting yea....] OTTAWA - Canada affirmed its steadfast opposition to Thursday's vote at the United Nations to confer statehood on Palestine, saying it would not support any "shortcuts" to peace with Israel.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper confirmed the decision on Wednesday with Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird bound for New York to cast Ottawa's vote and register Canada's disappointment with the latest Palestinian move at the UN for recognition.
The Harper government's support of its close friend Israel was unbowed by reports that its trusted international ally, Britain, had offered to abstain from the vote in return for a pledge from the Palestinian Authority to return to the negotiating table with the Israelis.
Asked Wednesday during a rare press conference, this time to mark the visit of the incoming Mexican president, Harper brushed aside all talk of the British move, and reiterated his firm support for the Israeli line on the resumption of peace talks without preconditions.

Amnesty Write for Rights - Gao Zhisheng

Write for Rights - Sign an e-petition
Gao Zhisheng is one of China’s most respected human rights lawyers.
In December 2006, he was sentenced to three years imprisonment, suspended by five years, for ‘inciting subversion’. He was allowed to return home but was kept under illegal house arrest together with his wife and their children. He was tortured and humiliated, and in 2009 his family fled China because of constant harassment.
Gao Zhisheng disappeared on 4 February 2009, when police took him from his family home. He reappeared more than a year later, in late March 2010, and gave an interview describing his ordeal, which included further torture. He said he was beaten so badly on one occasion that “for 48 hours, my life hung by a thread”.
In April 2010, just days after giving the interview, he disappeared again. Twenty months later, in December 2011, state media announced that he had been sent to prison for violating the conditions of his suspended sentence. This shocked his family and friends, who had not known whether he was dead or alive.
Gao Zhisheng is currently being held in Shaya county prison in northwest China.

On December 10, International Human Rights Day, thousands of people all over the world will be writing to governments to show their support to victims of human rights abuse, including Gao Zhisheng.  Join us as we remind our leaders that their actions really do make a difference and that every life matters. Click here ( to learn how you can get involved.


Stop the War on Science: Save the Experimental Lakes Area

[27-Nov-12] Stop the War on Science: Save the Experimental Lakes Area
Winnipeg – Scientists, activists, and concerned citizens alike are uniting to send a clear message to the Harper Government: it is time to stop the war on science. One of the most devastating losses to Canada’s science capacity is the defunding of the Experimental Lakes Area (ELA) research center and the dismantling of its scientific team. The Coalition to Save ELA released a new video today about the Harper government’s war on science to urge Canadians to join the fight to defend public science and save Canada’s Experimental Lakes Area.
“Cutting the ELA – the only research center capable of providing a solid science basis for freshwater policy – is extremely short-sighted,” insists award-winning, world-renowned freshwater expert Dr. David Schindler, Killam Memorial Chair in Ecology, University of Alberta.
Since the Harper Government came into power, Canada has been subjected to an unprecedented, ruthless assault on its environmental science capacity. This attack has been systemic and strategic, targeting science that seeks to understand the impacts of industry on our freshwaters – information the current government considers inconvenient to its economic agenda. This will result in the significant and widespread degradation of our country’s natural waters and fishery resources.
“The Harper government is gutting all and any tools, rules, and science projects that stand in the way of corporate abuse of our freshwater heritage,” says Maude Barlow, National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians. “No ELA means that the damage done to water from extractive industries will forever be hidden.”
The cancellation of federal funding for the ELA “reaches beyond basic cost-cutting measures and is a targeted strike against environmental researchers producing results the government considers incompatible with government policy,” according to Dr. Jules Blais, President of the Society of Canadian Limnologists.
“This is the only place in the world where lakes have been set aside to build a research base to save our planet’s threatened freshwater – and so we must save ELA,” concludes Dr. Jon Gerrard, Leader of the Manitoba Liberal Party.
“The crippling of Canada’s public science capacity under the guise of austerity measures, coupled with the weakening of federal environmental laws in the absence of open debate, is a blatant desecration of science, nature, and democracy,” asserts Diane Orihel, Director of the Coalition to Save ELA. She adds “We need to stop this war on science, and let’s start by saving the ELA.”
The new video, ‘Stop the War on Science – Save the Experimental Lakes Area’ is available on-line at here, and will be officially released today in Winnipeg at a press conference at the University of Winnipeg (12:30 pm CST), and a public rally in support of ELA at the Fort Garry Hotel hosted by the Boreal Forest Network (7:00 pm CST).
Diane Orihel, Coalition to Save ELA
Tel: 204-979-2395, Email:
The Coalition to Save ELA is a nonpartisan group of scientists and citizens concerned about the future of Canada’s Experimental Lakes Area. Our mission is to promote awareness and support for the Experimental Lakes Area, and to advocate in the interest of all Canadians for the continuation of this essential research program. Our vision for ELA is as a world-class public research program generating sound, scientific evidence for the development of effective public policy, management strategies, and stewardship activities to ensure the health of Canada’s freshwaters and fisheries.
Website:, Facebook: , Twitter: @SaveTheELA, #SaveELA.

UN passes first resolution condeming female genital mutilation

UN passes first resolution condeming female genital mutilation | The Raw Story
NITED NATIONS — The UN General Assembly on Monday passed its first resolution condemning female genital mutilation, which opponents say more than 140 million women worldwide have had to endure.
Though outlawed in most nations, the measure represents the first time the traditional practice in African and Middle East nations has been denounced at such a high level in the United Nations.
More than 110 countries, including more than 50 African nations, co-sponsored the resolution in the General Assembly’s rights committee, which called on states to “complement punitive measures with awareness-raising and educational activities” to eliminate female genital mutilation.
About 140 million women worldwide are believed to have been subjected to the practice in which a young girl’s clitoris and labia are removed, in the belief that this will reduce libido and keep a woman chaste. About three million women and girls each year are said to be forced to undergo the procedure.
“We will continue to spare no efforts with a final objective: ending female genital mutilations in one generation. Today, this goal appears closer than ever,” said Cesare Ragaglini, UN ambassador for Italy, which has played a leading role in international efforts to eradicate the practice.
He called the UN resolution a “powerful tool” against widespread resistance because it would take condemnation and calls for new measures to another level.
“It is up to us now to exploit it in a more effective way,” Ragaglini said.


The Tyee – Stephen Harper's Endless Campaign for Mining Profits

The Tyee – Stephen Harper's Endless Campaign for Mining Profits
his is the second of two pieces drawn, with permission, from Chapter 2 of The Ugly Canadian: Stephen Harper's Foreign Policy by Yves Engler, newly published. The first part is here. Engler's next author's event is Nov. 27 at Carleton University, 2:45 p.m., Room A220, Loeb Building, Ottawa.]
Time and again Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has used diplomatic trips to support controversial mining projects. Canada-based Barrick Gold Corporation, the world’s largest gold producer, gained important support for its Pascua Lama operations, which spurred large-scale protests, during his July 2007 trip to Chile. The prime minister visited the company's Chilean office and said: "Barrick follows Canadian standards of corporate social responsibility." He was greeted with signs from mine opponents stating, "Harper go home" and "Canada: What's HARPERing here?"
During a Nov. 2007 visit to Tanzania Harper once again met representatives of Barrick, which had more than $1 billion invested in the East African country. Days before meeting the prime minister, Barrick officials claimed a strike at one of its Tanzanian mines was illegal and looked to replace a thousand striking miners. To protect its North Mara mine Barrick employed 300 security officers -- and paid part of the salary for two dozen police officers -- linked to seven violent deaths from July 2005 to late 2008. The Oct. 2011 Globe and Mail Business magazine reported on a Tanzanian lawyer organization's claim that 19 villagers were killed by police and security guards at the North Mara mine between Jan. 2009 and June 2010. The victims were usually searching for gold.
Under Harper all levels of Canadian diplomacy have promoted mining. Anthony Bebbington, director of the Graduate School of Geography at Clark University, told the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development in February 2012 that a "sub-secretary in a [Latin American] ministry of energy and mines" told him "as far as I can tell, the Canadian ambassador here is a representative for Canadian mining companies." The Massachusetts-based academic also quoted an unnamed Latin American environment minister, who complained about Canadian lobbying and mining, saying: "I don't know if Canada has been quite so discredited in its history."

BBC -Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Bill: MPs drop death penalty

BBC News - Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Bill: MPs drop death penalty

A committee of Ugandan MPs has endorsed the proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill but dropped the death penalty provision, an MP has told the BBC.
MP Medard Segona said "substantial amendments" had been made to the bill but said he was not allowed to reveal further details.  Speaker of parliament Rebecca Kadaga recently said the bill would be passed as a "Christmas gift" to its advocates.
Homosexual acts are illegal in Uganda - this bill increases the penalties.Foreign donors have threatened to cut aid if gay rights are not respected.
The bill, tabled by MP David Bahati, proposes longer jail terms for homosexual acts, including a life sentence in certain circumstances. In its original form, those convicted of "aggravated homosexuality" - defined as when one of the participants is a minor, HIV-positive, disabled or a "serial offender" - faced the death penalty. Such offences would now be punished with life imprisonment, it is understood.
The original bill also prohibited the "promotion" of gay rights and called for the punishment of anyone who "funds or sponsors homosexuality" or "abets homosexuality".
Mr Bahati has previously said that the death penalty provision would be dropped but this has not been confirmed until now.Mr Segona, who is on the Legal and Parliamentary committee of Uganda's parliament, told the BBC: "I can confirm it has been dropped.""Some of us who are human rights activists would discourage the death penalty," he said.
The next step is for parliament to debate the bill. Mr Segona said he thought this would happen before the Christmas break but said he could not be more precise.The BBC's Ignatius Bahizi in the capital, Kampala, says that the bill has broad support in parliament.  But he notes that President Yoweri Museveni would have to sign it before it comes law - and the president may come under intense international pressure not to do so. The bill was strongly condemned last year by Western leaders, including US President Barack Obama who described it as "odious".

Big developments in the Democratic Republic of Congo: Goma falls to Rwanda

Big developments in the Democratic Republic of Congo: Goma falls to Rwanda |
Rebels, called the M23, have taken Goma, the main city of North Kivu, one of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)'s eastern provinces. Their plan is to march to Bukavu, the main city of South Kivu, and from there, they say, across the massive country to Kinshasa, the Congo's capital.
{this article is a rather helpful geographical analysis of the past 2 decades of conflict)


H&M: forced labour - Cotton Crimes

Take Action | International Labor Rights Forum

H&M: End Cotton Crimes

Photo by Uzbek-German Forum for Human RightsEvery year the government of Uzbekistan forcibly mobilizes over a million children, teachers, public servants and private sector employees for the manual planting and harvesting of cotton. The Uzbek government requires farmers to grow cotton and local government offices to forcibly mobilize adults and children to harvest cotton to meet assigned quotas. The Uzbek government enforces these orders with threats and violence; detains and tortures Uzbek activists seeking to monitor the harvest; and continues to refuse to allow international monitors to observe the cotton harvest.
Although H&M has pledged to stop sourcing cotton from Uzbekistan, the fashion giant refuses to put safeguards in place to completely ban companies from its supply chain that profit from Uzbek cotton.
Please take action and tell H&M to ban companies from its supply chain that profit from slavery.


Saudi Arabia implements electronic tracking system for women | The Raw Stor

Saudi Arabia implements electronic tracking system for women | The Raw Story
RIYADH — Denied the right to travel without consent from their male guardians and banned from driving, women in Saudi Arabia are now monitored by an electronic system that tracks any cross-border movements.
Since last week, Saudi women’s male guardians began receiving text messages on their phones informing them when women under their custody leave the country, even if they are travelling together.
Manal al-Sherif, who became the symbol of a campaign launched last year urging Saudi women to defy a driving ban, began spreading the information on Twitter, after she was alerted by a couple.
The husband, who was travelling with his wife, received a text message from the immigration authorities informing him that his wife had left the international airport in Riyadh.
“The authorities are using technology to monitor women,” said columnist Badriya al-Bishr, who criticised the “state of slavery under which women are held” in the ultra-conservative kingdom.
Women are not allowed to leave the kingdom without permission from their male guardian, who must give his consent by signing what is known as the “yellow sheet” at the airport or border.
The move by the Saudi authorities was swiftly condemned on social network Twitter — a rare bubble of freedom for millions in the kingdom — with critics mocking the decision.
“Hello Taliban, herewith some tips from the Saudi e-government!” read one post.
“Why don’t you cuff your women with tracking ankle bracelets too?” wrote Israa.
“Why don’t we just install a microchip into our women to track them around?” joked another.
“If I need an SMS to let me know my wife is leaving Saudi Arabia, then I’m either married to the wrong woman or need a psychiatrist,” tweeted Hisham.
“This is technology used to serve backwardness in order to keep women imprisoned,” said Bishr, the columnist.  “It would have been better for the government to busy itself with finding a solution for women subjected to domestic violence” than track their movements into and out of the country.
Saudi Arabia applies a strict interpretation of sharia, or Islamic law, and is the only country in the world where women are not allowed to drive.


In Gaza, It’s the Occupation, Stupid | Common Dreams

In Gaza, It’s the Occupation, Stupid | Common Dreams
Jody Williams, winner of the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize for her work with the International Campaign to Ban Landmines and chair of the Nobel Women’s Initiative told (Amy Goodman), “It is very hard to think about Israel calling what it is doing defending itself when it is occupying Palestinian territory. It’s collective punishment. We cannot support punishing an entire population because of the policies and attacks of Hamas. It’s illegal.”

Union asks suppliers to stop handling goods for Walmart |

Union asks suppliers to stop handling goods for Walmart | The Raw Story
An international trade union has asked ship operators handling goods in Walmart‘s global supply chain to raise concerns with the company about how it treats its US workforce.
Walmart has been affected by a series of walkouts and protests by several union-supported groups seeking to highlight what they say are low pay, poor benefits and retaliatory measures against those employees who speak out.
A series of high-profile protests are now planned to highlight “Black Friday” this week, which is the busiest single shopping day in the US calendar.
Organisers behind the OUR Walmart and Making Change at Walmartgroups say up to 1,000 actions are planned and several walkouts have already happened.
Now the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) has written to shipping owners and ship captains who carry Walmart goods and asked them to contact the gigantic global company and express support for the protesting workers. “Walmart workers taking industrial action know that their jobs are at risk. The least we can do to help is use our expertise at sea and relations with the shipping industry to back them in any way we can.”
ITF acting general secretary Steve Cotton told the Guardian: “We’re talking to captains and the ship operators moving Walmart goods, and asking them to register their concerns with the company about its treatment of staff – and the impact that could have on trade.”

‘Mega quarry’ proposal dropped in Dufferin County -

‘Mega quarry’ proposal dropped in Dufferin County -
The company behind the proposal for a massive quarry in Melancthon Township has withdrawn its application to build what would have been one of the largest quarries in North America.
The Highland Companies announced that it will also cease efforts to restore a rail corridor through Dufferin County, and that Highland president John Lowndes has resigned.
“While we believe that the quarry would have brought significant economic benefit to Melancthon Township and served Ontario’s well-documented need for aggregate, we acknowledge that the application does not have sufficient support from the community and government to justify proceeding with the approval process,” said John Scherer of the Highland Companies in a statement released today.
The statement said the company would continue to focus on its farming operation.
Highland is currently the largest producer of potatoes in the province.
A massive grassroots opposition had formed against the quarry proposal in recent years, with two major food protests organized by local farmers, celebrity chefs and a large contingent of Torontonians.
Last year, the provincial government announced the application would have to go through an environmental assessment, the first for an Ontario quarry.


Christian publisher wins court battle over contraception mandate

Christian publisher wins court battle over contraception mandate | The Raw Story
A federal court on Friday blocked the enforcement of the so-called contraception mandate for a large Christian book publisher.
Tyndale House Publishers alleged that being required to provide contraceptives like Plan B, ella, and intrauterine devices to female employees violated the owners’ religious liberties. The company was represented in court by the Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative Christian legal group.
The contraception mandate, part of the Affordable Care Act, requires employers to provide their employees with health insurance plans that cover contraceptive drugs and devices at no cost.
Conservative and religious groups have claimed the contraception mandate violates the religious liberties of employers who are morally opposed to the use of contraception. Illinois-based Tyndale House Publishers opposed being required to cover Plan B, ella, and intrauterine devices, claiming the contraceptives prevented fertilized eggs from implanting on the uterine wall and thereby induced abortions.s)

Community Corridor: Resisting industrial infrastructure and pipelines from Kitimat to Texas |

Community Corridor: Resisting industrial infrastructure and pipelines from Kitimat to Texas |
China does not have direct investment in Northern Gateway and Pacific Trails, although much of that oil and gas will be going to Chinese markets. It is, however, invested in a consortium of companies called LNG Canada including Shell Canada, KoreaGas, Mitsubishi corporation and PetroChina for an LNG (Liquid Natural Gas) processing plant in Kitimat, B.C., and a pipeline called the Coastal Gas Link project to be built by the now notorious TransCanada corporation, the same company contracted to build the Keystone XL.
Through FIPA and other measures, the Canadian government is building justification in the name of economic stability and the rule of law, and setting the framework for the increased criminalization and repression of internal dissent. Under this new set of draconian measures the government guarantees itself the right, the privilege and the obligation to suppress environmental and Native resistance to extraction projects and industrial infrastructure.
The Canadian state is further institutionalizing the rights of profit-making and corporations over the rights of people and the environment. The increased militarization of the state worldwide, therefore, is not a measure of security against outside threats, but rather a very deliberate act to exert force and control within its own borders.   


Council of Canadians calls for ban on fracking in Ontario

NEWS: Council of Canadians calls for ban on fracking in Ontario
The Council of Canadians has called for a ban on fracking in Ontario.
The Chatham Daily News reports, “A national citizens organization has raised concerns about shale gas drilling after a recent provincial government report. The Council of Canadians is also calling for a ban on the practice … citing environmental and public health concerns. ‘I urge the Ontario government to follow Quebec’s lead and ban fracking,’ said Maude Barlow, national chairperson.” adds, “The Council’s Emma Lui says this could have serious long term effect on water resources. Lui says there is not a safe way to dispose the wastewater and sometimes it is injected back into the ground which has been linked to earthquakes in British Columbia.”
And the Fort Erie Times reports, “‘We really have to get the pressure on to the Ontario government to ban it,’ said John Jackson of Great Lakes United. Jackson was one of three speakers talking about the dangers of fracking at the St. Catharines Centennial Library Thursday night at a meeting sponsored by the St. Catharines and District Council of Women. The public meeting came on the same day the Council of Canadians called on the Ontario government to ban fracking.”
The Chatham Daily News article is at The BlackburnNews report, which includes an 18-second audio clip from Emma, is at The Fort Erie Times report is at
More about our campaign against fracking at

Pipeline: COC and Maude Barlow, UofT, Nov. 17 10-5

Resistance, education and alternatives

Sat. Nov 17, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Sidney Smith Hall, 100 St. George St., University of Toronto
Lunch provided, building is accessible

Special guests will include Maude Barlow (Council of Canadians), Art Sterritt (BC Coastal First Nations, Executive Director), Wes Elliott (Haudenosaunee land defender) and Vanessa Gray (Aamjiwnaang First Nation) as well as resource people on labour and environmental justice issues.


Apple Censors Drone War - Action

Apple Censors Drone War

Apple Censors Drone War

Apple Inc., which has received over $9 million in Pentagon contracts in recent years, has rejected from its App Store, and therefore from all iPhones, a simple informative application.
Drones+ is an application that shows no depictions of the carnage of war and reveals no secret information.  It simply adds a location to a map every time a drone strike is reported in the media and added to a database maintained by the U.K.'s Bureau of Investigative Journalism.

Apple has rejected the app as "objectionable and crude." 
Drone wars continue because the U.S. public is unaware what is being done in our name with our money. We are interested in knowing where our government is using drones and has killed people, not in celebrating that killing.
The people in Pakistan and Afghanistan and elsewhere living under the drones can't ignore what's being done to them.  Neither should we, as it's done with our money and in our names.

A recent study by Stanford and NYU found that drones traumatize innocent populations, who have no way of knowing how to protect themselves from drone strikes. Further, only 2% of victims of these strikes are high-level targets. The drones kill civilian men, women, and children, are being used to target rescuers, schools and funerals, and create significant anti-U.S. hostility -- exactly as the Pakistani and Afghan governments have said they do.
Ask Apple to stop hiding the simplest of facts.

Leadnow | Stop the secretive and extreme Canada-China FIPA

Leadnow | Stop the secretive and extreme Canada-China FIPA
At any moment, Prime Minister Harper could pass the most secretive and sweeping trade deal of a generation.
This deal would pave the way for a massive natural resource buyout and allow foreign corporations to sue the Canadian government in secret tribunals, restricting Canadians from making democratic decisions about our economy, environment and energy.1
Most Canadians have never heard of FIPA, the Canada-China Foreign Investment Protection Agreement, because Prime Minister Harper is trying to sneak it through without a single vote or debate in Parliament.2,3
Canadians have a right to determine our future, but this agreement will undermine our democratic rights and lock us into an inescapable path of foreign-ownership and resource extraction until at least 2040.
The Canada-China FIPA could be approved as soon as November 2nd unless we get the word out now that the Harper Conservatives are trying bypass Parliament and sneak this deal by Canadians. That’s why we partnered with on this campaign – if enough of us raise our voices now, we can create a massive public outcry to stop this devastating deal in its tracks.


Corporations Are Not People in Montana, Colorado |

Corporations Are Not People in Montana, Colorado | Common Dreams
In a landslide victory Tuesday night, Montana voters approved an initiative stating "that corporations are not entitled to constitutional rights because they are not human beings" -- corporations are not people.
The initiative directly challenges the now infamous Citizens United SCOTUS decision, which allows corporations to contribute unlimited amounts of money for campaign groups know as super PACS and 'shadow money' organizations. Initiative 166 will win roughly 75 percent to 25 percent, according to the likely, but not yet final, results, Montana's Billings Gazette reports.
The initiative states:
"Ballot initiative I-166 establishes a state policy that corporations are not entitled to constitutional rights because they are not human beings, and charges Montana elected and appointed officials, state and federal, to implement that policy. With this policy, the people of Montana establish that there should be a level playing field in campaign spending, in part by prohibiting corporate campaign contributions and expenditures and by limiting political spending in elections..."
The measure, proposed by the group Stand with Montanans, will determine state policy on prohibiting corporate contributions and expenditures in state and national elections, and will charge state lawmakers with furthering the state's policy on the matter, asking congressional delegates to support efforts to overrule the Citizens United decision by amending the U.S. Constitution.

Ari Fleischer's Post-Election Lament

Ari Fleischer's Post-Election Lament
Whatever you think of former President Bush's propaganda mouthpiece, Ari Fleischer, he knows his party's supporters. And he was surprisingly blunt about stating that Republicans will always be against LGBT rights and women's rights. Why? Because they are the party of people who will never accept that LGBT people are real human beings deserving of equal rights under the law. And they are also the party of Christian fundamentalists who want to tell women what they can and cannot do with their own bodies.

After a stinging election night defeat, President George W. Bush’s former White House secretary still says that the Republican Party will never support LGBT rights and reproductive rights for women. “The big issue that Republicans are going to have to wrestle with is the Hispanic issue,” Ari Fleischer explained after President Barack Obama’s defeat of GOP hopeful Mitt Romney made it clear that the country was more liberal than he had expected.
“It’s not the social issues,” he insisted. “You’re not going to make the party pro-choice and pro-gay rights and think you’ve made the Republican party the party that’s the popular party. We have a party like that. It’s the Democratic Party.”
“But the Republican Party used to be against abortion,” CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin noted. “In the past year, they have become identified with opposition to contraception. That is, you know, moving backwards at a pace that is astonishing and politically disastrous.”
Yes, being against contraception is incredibly stupid, and having the Pope of Conservative Talk Radio, Rush Limbaugh go off on an extended months long and extraordinarily nasty (even by his standards) rant against one women for daring to claim the pill should be covered by health insurance plans was a clear demonstration that the Republican party doesn't see women as fully human either. They are lesser beings in the eyes of Republicans whose fate is to bear and raise children and obey their husbands and fathers. How often were women demonized by Republican candidates this year? From Rick Santorum to Richard Mourdoch to everyone on the right you can possibly imagine women were blamed for rape, told that incest is "rare" so don't make such a big deal about it, blamed for being single parents and called "sluts" by a three times divorced fat man in a radio booth who took Viagra unlawfully on a vacation in the Dominican Republic, a known destination for sex tourists.
Now, Ari also said the Republican party needs to find a way to attract more Hispanic voters to their party? One question Ari? How are you planning to do that? Your party opposes the Dream Act. Its losing presidential candidate believes in self-deportation, even of children who have lived most of their lives in America, many of whom speak no Spanish, and that was the "moderate" position of your party. It re-elects time and time again, stated bigots and racists such as Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who believes that the only good Latino is one rotting away in his jail, and Steve King who called Latinos "dogs" and claimed that a compliment. No Ari, all the Rubios in the world aren't going to cover up the stink that reeks from your party's default position that Latinos are worthless, illegal scum, criminals and thugs, and carriers of disease who take jobs away from real Americans (i.e., white males). They hate Hispanics.
Yet, the most telling thing about Ari Fleischer's analysis of his party was what he didn't say. He said not one word about the need to attract more African Americans to the Republican party. I guess even he knows that Republicans = the party of bigots, white supremacists, neo-Nazis and "Confederate Heritage" lovers. He knows that Republicans abandoned African Americans shortly after the Civil War. He knows that the South is solidly Republican because they chose to pursue a "Southern Strategy" under Nixon that attracted bigoted Southern whites (and many Northern whites as well) to their party by opposing civil rights for African Americans. A strategy Ronald Reagan honed to perfection. He knows there is no room under the Big White Tent that is the Republican Party for anything more than a few token blacks. Why else would they go to such great lengths to disenfranchise and suppress the votes of that community?
Yes, Ari Fleischer knows his party well. There's a saying that a tiger doesn't change its stripes. Well, Ari, you and your fellow Republican operatives created this monster that feeds on fear, prejudice and hate. You had a major hand in developing the careers of powerful Republicans for which hate and fear is their middle name: Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann, Steve King, Ron and Rand Paul, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, and even Mittens Romney, to name but a few. You can lament that fact all you want, but there is no silver bullet to slay the monstrous beast that is the present day Republican Party. It's grown too large, too fast, and too powerful to just slither away and die. It's not a phoenix that will erupt in flames and re-arise in a new more palatable form from the ashes. Its a Hydra-headed Gorgon covered with deadly poisonous snakes.

Malawi Immediately Suspends Arrests of Gay Citizens |

Malawi Immediately Suspends Arrests of Gay Citizens |
The small east African nation of Malawi made a giant leap toward equality Monday, as the minister of justice called for an immediate moratorium on arrests and prosecutions of gays under the existing penal code.
The nation's parliament is currently reviewing the constitutionality of antigay laws, which criminalize anyone who is LGBT. But in the interim, the minister said no one else will be arrested for being gay.
"If we continue arresting and prosecuting people based on the said laws and later such laws are found to be unconstitutional, it would be an embarrassment to government," Justice Minister Ralph Kasambara told Reuters.
The nation's president, Joyce Banda, recently expressed her intention to dismantle the colonial-era laws, though she later reneged a bit.

Same-Sex Marriage Upheld in Maryland:

Same-Sex Marriage Upheld in Maryland: DCist
Maryland became the one of the first two states to approve same-sex marriage by a public vote, upholding a law passed in March that made the Old Line State the seventh state to offer full marital rights for all couples.
With 86 percent of precincts reporting at 12:20 a.m., Maryland became the eighth state to offer full marital rights to all couples regardless of sexual orientation. Earlier in the evening, voters in Maine upheld a similar law.
"This is a milestone night for the simple truth that when Americans are presented with the real lives of their friends and neighbors, they have no choice but to vote for their equality," Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, said in a news release embracing the result.
Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley signed the marriage equality bill into law on March 1, but his approval was swiftly followed by a petition that forced the issue to a statewide referendum. In the last few weeks before Election Day, O'Malley barnstormed the state on behalf of Question 6. Other high-profile supporters included former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, who contributed $100,000 to uphold the law, and Baltimore Ravens Brendon Ayanbadejo.


Vision Statement | We Are Power Shift Canada

Vision Statement | We Are Power Shift Canada
Powershift statement - Conference opening today (you can follow events on the blog)
2011 was a year of people’s power. From mass mobilizations in Greece and Spain, throughout North Africa and the Middle East, to Occupy Wall Street and the struggle against the Keystone XL and Gateway pipelines, movements of ordinary people emerged and set the stage for much needed changes to today’s economic, social and political landscape. For many, 2011 spelled a darker and tougher time, with climate change-induced disasters and spiraling economic inequality and misery. But it also re-kindled a fire, an appetite for greater justice, for a more equal and collaborative society.

Youth were at the forefront of these movements. In Canada, too, they are rising to the occasion. Power Shift 2012 will gather young people from across the country to build on this momentum and strengthen the movement for climate and environmental justice. We will be organizing Powershift 2012 while young people face a difficult, uphill battle to create a just and sustainable future. Canada has abandoned the Kyoto Protocol, eliminated energy efficiency programs and continues to subsidize and promote the fossil fuel industry, acts that threaten our air, water, land and the climate. Our present and future economic welfare is also at risk. We see daily reports promising cuts to our public services, the dismantling of our social security, the loss of workers rights, and tax breaks to corporations that don’t need them.

The economic and climate crises we are facing have the same roots — the relentless drive to put short-term economic profits over the interests of our communities and the environment. We can find joint solutions to the climate and economic crisis: by reining in corporate power and its undue influence over our political process, by reviving and strengthening our public sphere, by localizing our economies and our food system. Such long term solutions and alternatives will safeguard our communities and our environment. ....


Recipe for a Big Bang: US Permit Issued to Frack 1 Mile From Nuclear Power Plant |

Recipe for a Big Bang: Permit Issued to Frack 1 Mile From Nuclear Power Plant | Alternet
On Oct. 3, Chesapeake Energy was issued a permit by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to drill for natural gas by  fracking one mile from the Beaver Valley  Nuclear Power Station in Shippingport, Pennsylvania.  
This is disturbing news considering in January  evidence proved that Ohio earthquakes  were caused by a fracking wastewater injection well. 
Shockingly, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) regulation and oversight rules do not cover any related activity off site, including wastewater injection wells, oil and gas drilling—including fracking—or any other types of projects that are in near proximity to nuclear power plants.
So who oversees how drilling for oil and natural gas and related activity might affect the safety of nuclear power plants? Apparently no one.
According to  Shale Reporter , an indendent website that provides an unbiased presentation of information about Marcellus Shale issues:
Pennsylvania DEP spokesperson John Poister said there are no required setbacks specifically relating to a required distance between unconventional wells and nuclear facilities, just a blanket regulation requiring a 500-foot setback from any building to an unconventional well.
You’d think after the  NRC said  in February, “Nuclear reactors in the central and eastern U.S. face previously unrecognized threats from big earthquakes and it needs to require nuclear-plant operators to conduct new seismic studies for all 96 reactors in eastern and central states to determine if the plants could withstand the shaking predicted by the government’s new seismic model”—especially in light of the 9.0-magnitude earthquake and tsunami that devastated northeastern Japan on March 11, 2011—that someone would be monitoring extreme fossil fuel extraction near nuclear power plants.
However, U.S. regulators have allowed nuclear power plants to be built in earthquake zones for decades. Experts have warned that the Diablo Canyon Power Plant on the Pacific Coast of California could become California’s Fukushima.


The Tyee – Recruiters Charging BC-Bound Chinese Temp Miners $12,500

The Tyee – Recruiters Charging BC-Bound Chinese Temp Miners $12,500
Chinese miners being recruited to work in Canada are paying more than $12,500 CAD for the privilege, The Tyee has learned, and their actual wages are less than those advertised.
There has been uproar from unions this week after it was learned more than 2,000 Chinese miners would be on their way to British Columbia to work in mines run by Canadian Dehua International, a Vancouver-based company founded and run by a former Chinese government official, to name one company involved.
Posing as a Chinese miner, The Tyee made contact with two of three companies that placed ads on a Chinese website similar to Craigslist called Bai Xing and discovered the workers are paying the recruiters expensive fees in exchange for jobs in Canada.
The ads were placed on the employment pages of the site for the Chinese provinces of Shanxi, Henan and Sichuan, but agents did not know which mine they were recruiting for, only that they were in Canada.
One of the recruiters, who claimed to be working for a British Columbia-based company called the Canada CIBS Investment and Trade Group said 30,000 yuan ($4,700 CAD) is paid upon a contract being signed in China, and an additional 50,000 yuan ($7,800 CAD) is paid over 20 months after arrival in Canada.
"We are an employment agency and we need to charge you an agent fee," wrote the recruiter in a conversation in Chinese via QQ, a Chinese version of MSN Messenger.
"Before you leave China, you must pay us 30,000 yuan, when you live in Canada, you must pay the rest -- 50,000 yuan."
According to China's state-run media outlet Xinhua, a coal miner in China earns about 1,000 yuan a month, making the upfront agency fee two-and-a-half-year’s salary for workers who accept the offer.
The recruiter said the employer will deduct the remaining recruiter's fee from workers' paycheques, about $400 CAD a month.
Recruiters state lower pay rate than advertised
The advertisement offered miners jobs in Canadian mines at a rate of $25 to $30 per hour, but according to the recruiter the wage is actually between $22 and $25 per hour.
The agent said applicants need a mining certificate or a reference from a company to be accepted, but the training and letter from the company could be provided for an extra 1,000 yuan ($160 CAD).
The miners' presence in Canada is dependent on their employer and they will live in dorms, must be able to speak 100 English words and are allowed to do what they please when not at work.
A recruiting ad translated by The Tyee included the promise of "a possibility of immigrating to Canada" and the ability to "sponsor your family to Canada, too."
Under Canadian law, skilled temporary guest workers can apply to immigrate to Canada after four years, but their families can come over well before then.
"After you work in Canada for six months you can bring your family," said the agent, becoming seemingly irritated with a follow-up question about if families would live in dorms as well.

Meryl Streep Says, 'It's Time To Draw The Line'

Meryl Streep Says, 'It's Time To Draw The Line'
Great ad by Meryl for the US Bill of Reproductiv Rights....