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.


Avaaz - ACTA: The new threat to the net

Avaaz - ACTA: The new threat to the net
Last week, 3 million of us beat back America's attack on our Internet! --- but there is an even bigger threat out there, and our global movement for freedom online is perfectly poised to kill it for good.

ACTA - a global treaty - could allow corporations to censor the Internet. Negotiated in secret by a small number of rich countries and corporate powers, it would set up a shadowy new anti-counterfeiting body to allow private interests to police everything that we do online and impose massive penalties -- even prison sentences -- against people they say have harmed their business.

Europe is deciding right now whether to ratify ACTA -- and without them, this global attack on Internet freedom will collapse. We know they have opposed ACTA before, but some members of Parliament are wavering -- let's give them the push they need to reject the treaty. Sign the petition -- we'll do a spectacular delivery in Brussels when we reach 500,000 signatures!

Oil Sands: Canadians Want The Truth, And We're Going to Get It |

Canadians Want The Truth, And We're Going to Get It |
"I am proud to be called a "radical" if this means that I am willing to voice my opinions. To be called an "enemy" because I am a concerned citizen speaks of dictatorship and tyranny. "
You can join this facebook CAUSE page -- just started Jan 26.
To reveal the truth behind the Government of Canada's labeling of its own citizens as "Enemies of the Government of Canada" and "Enemies of the People of Canada.

Gazette article OTTAWA — The federal government is distancing itself from its own lobbying and public relations campaign to polish the image of Alberta's oilsands, following revelations that an internal strategy document labelled First Nations and environmentalists as "adversaries," while describing the National Energy Board, an independent industry regulator, as an "ally."
(from Margaret Atwood's twitter - )

How Many People Died To Make Your iPad?

How Many People Died To Make Your iPad?
iPhone demand helps Apple achieve record profit” read one headline about the $13.1 billion the company made in the last quarter. The iPhone 4s went on sale in the weeks following co-founder Steve Jobs’s death; Apple has now sold a record 37 million iPhones, up from the previous record, 20.34 million.
But Apple is able to churn out so many shiny products, and at a price that consumers are happy to pay, thanks to 700,000 people in Asia, Europe and elsewhere. None of these people are Apple employees: As the New York Times recently reported, Apple itself employs far fewer people, 43,000 people in the United States and 20,000 overseas. While Jobs boasted in the 1980s that the Macintosh was “a machine that is made in America,” and iMacs were made in an Elk Grove, California factory in 2002, Apple has now turned — like other tech companies — to foreign manufacturing under the guidance of Timothy D. Cook, Apple’s operations expert who became chief executive last August, six weeks before Jobs died.

Foreign manufacturers, and especially those in China, have a skilled workforce that works round the clock, lives in dormitories (sometimes 20 people in one apartment) far from their families and works 12-hour shifts six days a week in perilous conditions and without the workers’ protections people in the US would demand and rightfully. Foxconn Technology, which is one of China’s biggest employers and has 1.2 million workers, can call up 3,000 people in the middle of the night to churn out iPhones, iPads and iPods. If someone in Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, California, makes a last-minute change to an iPhone design, Foxconn can have its workers make that change and produce over 10,000 iPhones in 96 hours.

Foxconn’s workers also assemble an estimated 40 percent of the world’s consumer electronics; its customers include Amazon, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Nintendo, Nokia and Samsung. The company has come under scrutiny, and Apple too, in the wake of worker deaths and injuries at an iPad plant an Chengdu in May of 2011. The New York Times has a lengthy report about the conditions in the factories and workers’ housing, including an interview with Li Mingqi, who used to manage the factory where the explosion occurred and was fired after seven years with Foxconn when he objected to being relocated.
Lai Xiaodong, an employee who died, suffered burns over 90 percent of his body. He was in charge of a team that oversaw the machines that polish iPad cases. In the weeks after the iPad went on sale, workers were told they had to polish thousands of iPads a day and the plant was filled with aluminum dust. Three others were killed and 18 injured. Seven months later, another explosion due to aluminum dust occurred at a Shanghai plant that also made iPads. 59 workers were injured, 23 of whom had to be hospitalized

Apple recently released a list of 156 of its suppliers and has agreed to allow outside monitors to inspect its partners’ factories and become the first technology company to join the Fair Labor Association (FLA). But there is no such oversight of those who, further down the techno-industrial food chain, supply the suppliers

Here is an ethical petition, SumofUS


As the climate dries, Mexico's milk region faces arsenic threat t

As the climate dries, Mexico's milk region faces arsenic threat
(So - if you dry up the aquifers, you get heavy metals. Not rocket science...)

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AlertNet) – Mexico’s Laguna Region is famed as the country’s largest milk-producing area. But overexploitation of groundwater resources has combined with the effects of climate change to give the region a more dubious distinction. The remaining water supplies are contaminated with arsenic, and related rates of cancer are well above the national average.

Spanning parts of two states, Coahuila and Durango, in the north-central part of the country, the Laguna Region (known in Spanish as the Comarca Lagunera) is named after the numerous lagoons and ponds that were once found there.
But the construction of dams on the two main rivers, the Nazas and Aguanaval, in the 1950s led to the disappearance of the lagoons. The area is now largely semi-arid.

Dairy farming has taken a further toll on water resources with the planting of thirsty alfalfa crops to feed cows. A 2006 study found that milk production in Mexico required almost three-and-a-half times as much water per tonne as in the United States.

“The Laguna Region is the largest milk-producing region in Mexico, producing about 7 million litres of milk per day in a desert where rainfall does not exceed 200-250 mm per year,” explained Francisco Valdes Perezgasga, a researcher at La Laguna Technological Institute in the city of Torreon, in Coahuila.
“From 1992 to 1999 we suffered intense droughts and 2010 was the driest (year) in 100 years,” Valdes Perezgasga. Total rainfall for the region in 2011 was less than 100 mm, he said.

According to Valdes Perezgasga, the effects of climate change are exacerbating the overexploitation of existing aquifers.Deep wells fitted with pumps were drilled from the 1950s onwards to extract water for crop irrigation. Experts say the construction of cement-lined irrigation channels began to slow rainfall from recharging the aquifer.

As rainfall also began to decrease and the main aquifer’s water levels fell, water from a second aquifer with high concentrations of heavy metals and arsenic began to pollute the region’s water supply.
As a result, the region’s more than 1.5 million residents now drink water contaminated with high levels of arsenic, an unexpected health impact of the region’s drying climate and its overexploitation of water resources.

Mexican law sets the safe limit for arsenic concentration at 0.025 mg/litre, two-and-a-half times higher than the level recommended by the World Health Organization. But in the Laguna Region contamination is as high as 0.08 mg/litre.
Health experts say the Laguna Region has rates of cancer two or three times the national average.

Barlow calls for action in Sault Ste. Marie to protect the Great Lakes

Sault Ste. Marie is a community of 75,000 people located in northern Ontario on the eastern tip of Lake Superior.

SooToday reports, “Living beside one of the largest freshwater lakes in the world, it can be difficult to believe there’s a global water crisis. But we must think about water usage on a global scale, said Maude Barlow on Tuesday morning. …The Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre (SSMIC) hosted Too Late to Panic: Protecting Canada’s Water and Energy Supplies with special guest speaker Maude Barlow at Algoma’s Water Tower Inn. Maude Barlow is an environmental activist, chairperson of the advocacy group The Council of Canadians, and has authored/co-authored 16 books.”

“‘If we are aware of what’s happening globally it will only help us understand what to do locally,’ said Barlow. ‘Sitting on top of the Great Lakes makes it difficult to see the global water crisis and plan for future issues.’ …With the continued destruction of the wetlands, fast-tracked economic growth in the mining sectors, and over usage of water are just some of the factors that contribute to our own water crisis. …'90,000 people in Detroit Michigan cannot afford to pay for water and have had that service cut off' Barlow said. 'A basic right, inaccessible due to the high cost.'”

“Barlow illustrated the need for action locally in Sault Ste. Marie. ‘The conservation, preservation and recovery of the Great Lakes are vital to your future; and our future,’ she said. ‘Living in a water rich location gives us the responsibility to take care of it.’ Maude Barlow encouraged the creation of a local chapter of the Council of Canadians, a progressive association which advocates on behalf of its members.”

She isn’t hopeful about the future of the Great Lakes unless community groups start to lobby the provincial and federal governments to protect the largest group of fresh water lakes in the world. Canada’s national water act is more than 40 years old. During a question and answer session, Barlow called Prime Minister Stephan Harper’s Conservative government ‘the most anti-environmental we’ve ever had. ‘I don’t think (change) is going to come top down,’ she said.”

“‘We’re losing the battle of the Great Lakes. We need a whole new model for protection of the Great Lakes.’ The Council of Canadians recently released Barlow’s report, Our Great Lakes Commons: A People’s Plan to Protect the Great Lakes Forever. The 38-page document calls on provinces, states, First Nations and the American and Canadian federal governments to regard the Great Lakes ‘as one watershed, not as a bunch of lakes. (It’s) something that belongs to us all that must be managed for the equitable use of us all,’ said Barlow. ‘Nobody must be allowed to damage it.’”


Montreal: Opposition Builds to New "Tar Sands" Pipeline

CANADA: Opposition Builds to New "Tar Sands" Pipeline
MONTREAL, Jan 17, 2012 (IPS) - As public hearings began earlier this month into a controversial pipeline that would transport crude oil from the Alberta tar sands to tankers along the coast of British Columbia, environmental groups and First Nations communities have raised staunch opposition to the project, which they say puts both the environment and their traditional way of life at risk.

"The consensus is that there really are no benefits to us on the coast, and that the potential negative impacts could be devastating," said Art Sterritt, the executive director of British Columbia's Coastal First Nations, a group of 10 First Nations communities whose territory extends almost two-thirds the length of B.C.'s Pacific coast.

"We rely on that ocean area for our sustenance, for our work, for everything. The coast as we know it, with one (oil) spill, would cease to exist. All the clam beds, cockle beds and shellfish beds that we depend on on the coast – that really have been the foundation of our culture – they would be wiped out," Sterritt told IPS.

The 5.5-billion-dollar "Northern Gateway Pipelines" project, which would be carried out by Canada's largest natural gas distribution company, Enbridge, aims to transport over 525,000 barrels of crude oil daily from the Albertan tar sands to the B.C. coast.


Marine Harvest Pleads Guilty - alexandra morton

Marine Harvest Pleads Guilty - alexandra morton
As people from the Broughton Archipelago, where the crimes occurred, Alert Bay, Sointula, and Port Hardy looked on Marine Harvest pleaded guilty to charges related to illegal possession of wild fish. Marine Harvest made the unprecedented move to avert the 4 - day trial that had been scheduled.
At issue were juvenile pink salmon, almost certainly from Glendale River that ended up falling out of a huge bucket moving Atlantic salmon broodstock into a truck and 3cm herring that ended up in the farm salmon dump in Beaver Cove.
While flawed in many ways, this case made history twice over. It was the first time a private prosecution has ever been taken over and run by the Department of Justice to its conclusion and it is the first time the Norwegian salmon farming industry has been charged for taking wild fish. I would like to thank Todd Gerhart of the Department of Justice for taking this all the way...
Chief Bob "O'wadi" Chamberlin of one of the Broughton Tribes had this to say today: Marine Harvest convicted and fined for "incidental catch" of Wild Salmon smolts & Herring. DFO "missed" this in their monitoring of this Industry. I am not a statitician... But I believe it highly improbable, if not impossible, that this was the 1st & only time incidental catch occurred. Which points to monitoring gaps within the regulations, license conditions and operational policies.
Sea Lice impacts on Wild Salmon, Disease impacts on Wild Salmon, Incidental catch of Wild Salmon smolts, Herring "tonnage" as incidental catch..... Low Wild Salmon & Herring stock numbers! We need to establish our own Monitoring and Wild species protection measures...
Cermaq's lawyer: "Mr Staniford is turning this case into a Commission of Inquiry into Norwegian owned salmon farming worldwide."beg to differ with Cermaq this is all about salmon farming practices, about killing BC fish and wildlife, about the enormous weight of this worldwide industry bearing down on individuals and communities. In Broughton we were told this industry would be good for us. Well it is not. We have 27 Norwegian fish feedlots and our school is closed, there are 9 people left. The perverse thing is, this industry still can't make a go of it. Yesterday, an Intrafish article says Marine Harvest is "downsizing" laying off 60 people in BC, closing 10 farms temporarily because there is too much farm salmon on the market. Marine Harvest hopes the situation improves in two years.
What are we doing? Risking everything for an industry so greedy and out of control it is hurting itself now. Thank you to the people in this picture we stood together and witnessed history - may it be the turning of this tide back to the people and this amazing place we live in.


Avaaz - Arrest Syria's torturers

Avaaz - Arrest Syria's torturers
This is hard to report, but Avaaz’s own members are being tortured by Syria’s monstrous regime. Manhal* reports that he was held in a secret prison where they pulled out his fingernails and toenails and electrocuted his body parts. "I have seen death, and I’ve been tortured nearly to death,” he's told us. But if we act now, we can make Manhal's sacrifice the last straw that turns the whole world against the Assad regime.

The Arab League’s observers have failed to stop the brutal crack down, but pressure on Assad is mounting. Avaaz has just released a terrifying report revealing the scale of Syria’s detention facilities, including what they did to Manhal. If we build a massive global outcry now, we can force key governments to confront the horrors in this report and accelerate the end of Assad.

Sign the petition on the right, and when we reach 500,000 signatures we’ll deliver it along with Avaaz’s report to the Arab League and the United Nations Security Council, demanding they refer Assad to the International Criminal Court to be tried for crimes against humanity.

Protect Bristol Bay From Oil and Gas Development

Protect Bristol Bay Once and For All From Oil and Gas Development
The waters of the North Aleutian Basin and Bristol Bay provide 40 percent of the nation's wild seafood, host the largest runs of wild sockeye salmon in the world, support centuries-old Native subsistence traditions, and offer critical habitat for some of the world's highest concentrations of whales, seals, walrus, seabirds, salmon, crab and halibut.

In 2010, the administration prohibited drilling in the North Aleutian Basin and Bristol Bay through 2017. However, the push to drill will likely continue after 2017 unless more lasting action is taken.

Right now, the administration is accepting comments on the nation's five-year offshore oil and gas leasing plans. Tell Secretary Salazar that this region is too valuable to drill, and request that Bristol Bay be protected from oil and gas development permanently.


=Save Jasper National Park from American Developers

Save Jasper National Park
Privatising Jasper National Park will set a dangerous precedent to allow destructive development by private corporations in World Heritage Sites across Canada. This goes entirely against what Canadians – and visitors – expect and deserve from Canada's wild and magnificent national parks. We call on you to listen to the Canadian public and your community and stop this development immediately.
n days, the Harper Government could privatise a section of Jasper National Park and let an American-owned company blast a 300m metal walkway into our World Heritage mountains -- but Jasper's Superintendent has the power to stop them.

The plan would not only spur development, but would give an American company the right to charge each of us for entry into parts of Jasper park. Greg Fenton, a local Jasperite, has the ability to stop the privatisation of the park he grew up in and loves -- but the company's massive lobbying effort means he will face brutal pressure to sell out this natural wonder. Let's send him a tidal wave of support and give him the strength he needs to stand up to corporate power and save our Rocky Mountain sanctuary.

Private international companies should not be profiting off our national treasures. Click to ensure our parks stay in public hands -- sign the petition calling on Fenton to save Jasper National Park before it's too late.


Westward Passage for Canada's Tar Sands Oil Also Challenged

Westward Passage for Canada's Tar Sands Oil Also Challenged
Republicans opponents in Congress and many of the candidates for the GOP presidential nomination commenting on Obama's decision to hold off approval of the Keystone XL pipeline frequently make the argument that if the US decides not to allow such a project the obvious result would be that Canada's tar sands oil - regarded by most environmentalists as the "dirtiest fuel on the planet" - would simply shipped "straight West" for consumption by the asian energy market, most notably by Chinese companies looking to diversify their imports.

This argument, however, misses that a fight equal to that waged against the Keystone pipeline in the US is being fought by campaigners against Enbridge's Northwest Gateway Pipeline that would carry tar sands oil west from Alberta to the coast of British Columbia.
Like their counterparts in the US, those concerned site environmental concerns as their primary reason for opposition. The Vancouver Sun reports that opponents of the pipeline "don't buy the assurances" of Enbridge to transport the oild safely. They fear a spill by even one massive tanker could wreak havoc on marine life and coastline.

Environmentalists opposed to the project say it creates risks that have not previously existed on B.C.'s north coast — specifically, oil-carrying supertankers navigating the same rock-shrouded channels that sank B.C. ferry Queen of the North.

Oil spills are common on the B.C. coast, but they tend to be small and involve petroleum products such as diesel fuel from vessels that disperses relatively quickly. Canadian Coast Guard statistics show more than 550 "marine pollution incidents" in B.C. in 2011 as of mid-December, about 27 per cent of them level-three incidents requiring "cleanup or threat mitigation measures."

For environmentalists, the conclusion is obvious: Despite shipping advancements the risks are just too great.
And though this may be new on the rader of many in the US, this battle is not new, as noted in another recent report from the Vancouver Sun:

The mostly B.C.-based environmental groups have been fighting the proposed Enbridge pipeline for years.
There are about a dozen such groups, including the Dogwood Initiative, ForestEthics (with offices in B.C. and the U.S.), West Coast Environmental Law, the Raincoast Conservation Foundation, the SkeenaWild Conservation Trust and the T. Buck Suzuki Environmental Foundation.

Forced Military Testing in America's Schools | Common Dreams

Forced Military Testing in America's Schools | Common Dreams
by Pat Elder
(no surprises here, but the breathtaking breaking of their OWN rules for disclosure is notable) Don't know what action you could take, but you ca contact the author:
Pat Elder is the Director of the National Coalition to Protect Student Privacy, and also serves on the Steering Committee of the National Network Opposing the Militarization of Youth, NNOMY, He can be reached at

The invasion of student privacy associated with military testing in U.S. high schools has been well documented by mainstream media sources, like USA Today and NPR Radio. The practice of mandatory testing, however, continues largely unnoticed.

The Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, or ASVAB is the military's entrance exam that is given to fresh recruits to determine their aptitude for various military occupations. The test is also used as a recruiting tool in 12,000 high schools across the country. The 3 hour test is used by military recruiting services to gain sensitive, personal information on more than 660,000 high school students across the country every year, the vast majority of whom are under the age of 18. Students typically are given the test at school without parental knowledge or consent. The school-based ASVAB Career Exploration Program is among the military's most effective recruiting tools.

In roughly 11,000 high schools where the ASVAB is administered, students are strongly encouraged to take the test for its alleged value as a career exploration tool, but in more than 1,000 schools, according to information received from the U.S. Military Entrance Processing Command through a Freedom of Information Act request, tens of thousands of students are required to take it. It is a particularly egregious violation of civil liberties that has been going on almost entirely unnoticed since the late 1960's.

Federal laws strictly monitor the release of student information, but the military manages to circumvent these laws with the administration of the ASVAB. In fact, ASVAB test results are the only student information that leaves U.S. schools without the opportunity provided for parental consent.

Aside from managing to evade the constraints of federal law, the military may also be violating many state laws on student privacy when it administers the ASVAB in public high schools. Students taking the ASVAB are required to furnish their social security numbers for the tests to be processed, even though many state laws specifically forbid such information being released without parental consent. In addition, the ASVAB requires under-aged students to sign a privacy release statement, a practice that may also be prohibited by many state laws.

A typical school announcement reads, "All Juniors will report to the cafeteria on Monday at 8:10 a.m. to take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery. Whether you’re planning on college, a technical school, or you’re just not sure yet, the ASVAB Career Exploration Program can provide you with important information about your skills, abilities and interests – and help put you on the right course for a satisfying career!" This announcement or one very similar to it greets students in more than a thousand high schools across the country. There's no mention of the military or the primary purpose of the test, which is to find leads for recruiters.

Meanwhile, military recruiting regulations specifically prohibit that the test from being made mandatory.

"Voluntary aspect of the student ASVAB: School and student participation in the Student Testing Program is voluntary. DOD personnel are prohibited from suggesting to school officials or any other influential individual or group that the test be made mandatory. Schools will be encouraged to recommend most students participate in the ASVAB Career Exploration Program. If the school requires all students of a particular group or grade to test, the MEPS will support it." (See Page 3-1 of USMEPCOM Reg. 601-4)


Amnesty International USA - Close Guantanmo Now

10 Years Too Long: End Indefinite Detention & Close Guantanamo

On January 11, 2002 the first “war on terror” detainees arrived at the US naval base at Guantánamo. Since then, we’ve seen shocking human rights abuses there and around the world, including arbitrary and secret detention, torture, renditions, and unfair trials.

Ten years on, more than 150 men remain at Guantánamo, most held in indefinite detention without charge or trial. Those charged face unfair trial by military commission. Making matters worse, President Obama just signed the controversial NDAA into law that entrenches the use of indefinite detention worldwide.

Tell President Obama 10 years is too long! Detainees need to be charged and tried in US federal court or released--and the national disgrace that is Guantánamo closed for good.