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.


The Truth About the US Postal Service

The Truth About the US Postal Service | Common Dreams
How to Privatize a public service - very interesting article by Hightower - 
What's going on here? Right-wing sabotage of USPS financing, that's what.

...In 2006, the Bush White House and Congress whacked the post office with the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act — an incredible piece of ugliness requiring the agency to PRE-PAY the health care benefits not only of current employees, but also of all employees who'll retire during the next 75 years. Yes, that includes employees who're not yet born!
No other agency and no corporation has to do this. Worse, this ridiculous law demands that USPS fully fund this seven-decade burden by 2016. Imagine the shrieks of outrage if Congress tried to slap FedEx or other private firms with such an onerous requirement.
This politically motivated mandate is costing the Postal Service $5.5 billion a year — money taken right out of postage revenue that could be going to services. That's the real source of the "financial crisis" squeezing America's post offices.
In addition, due to a 40-year-old accounting error, the federal Office of Personnel Management has overcharged the post office by as much as $80 billion for payments into the Civil Service Retirement System. This means that USPS has had billions of its sales dollars erroneously diverted into the treasury. Restore the agency's access to its own postage money, and the impending "collapse" goes away.
The post office is more than a bunch of buildings — it's a community center and, for many towns, an essential part of the local identity, as well as a tangible link to the rest of the nation. As former Sen. Jennings Randolph poignantly observed, "When the local post office is closed, the flag comes down." The corporatizer crowd doesn't grasp that going after this particular government program is messing with the human connection and genuine affection that it engenders.
America's postal service is a true public service, a grassroots people's asset that has even more potential than we're presently tapping to serve the democratic ideal of the common good. Why the hell would we let an elite of small-minded profiteers, ranting ideologues and their political hirelings drop-kick this jewel through the goal posts of corporate greed? This is not a fight merely to save 32,000 post offices and the middle-class jobs they provide — but to advance the BIG IDEA of America itself, the bold, historic notion that "yes, we can" create a society in which we're all in it togeth

Citing 'Tradition,' Big Ag Fights Reforms for Child Farmworkers

Citing 'Tradition,' Big Ag Fights Reforms for Child Farmworkers | Common Dreams
The Child Labor Coalition, which advocates for the rights of exploited children around the world, documents a cornupcopia of abuses in the backyard of a global superpower:
  • More children die in agriculture than in any other industry.
  • According to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), between 1995 and 2002, an estimated 907 youth died on American farms—that’s well over 100 preventable deaths of youth per year.
  • In 2011, 12 of the 16 children under the age of 16 who suffered fatal occupational injuries worked in crop production, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  • When you include older children, more than half of all workers under age 18 who died from work-related injuries worked in crop production.
Advocates have for months been pressing the Labor Department to finalize a rule change that would help shield child farm workers from some of the most severe occupational hazards, such as handling pesticides and dangerous farm equipment, and would beef up protections for workers under age 16 (currently, children as young as 12 can legally work on farms, thanks to a loophole in federal labor law, and many younger ones work illegally).
The reforms would largely impact youth in the migrant communities that fuel the agricultural labor force, filled with poor and Latino workers who are extremely vulnerable to abuse.
Under the banner of National Farmworker Awareness Week (March 25-31, consumer and labor groups are working to educate communities about egregious conditions on farms. Now that organizations like the Florida-based Coalition of Immokalee Workers have begun to rattle the food industry with colorful worker- and consumer-driven campaigns, Washington should be ripe for long-overdue reforms to curb the worst forms of child labor.
But common decency has again been overshadowed by a well-oiled campaign by the agricultural industry lobby, which has pushed to block the rule changes by claiming that child labor reflects good old American values.

Breaking Up with the Sierra Club

Breaking Up with the Sierra Club | Common Dreams
more than a month has past since your executive director, Michael Brune, admitted in Time magazine that the Sierra Club had, between 2007 and 2010, clandestinely accepted $25 million from the fracking industry, with most of the donations coming from Chesapeake Energy. Corporate Crime Reporter was hot on the trail of the story when it broke in Time.

The Sierra Club had taken money, gobs of it, from an industry that we in the grassroots have been in the fight of our lives to oppose. The largest, most venerable environmental organization in the United States secretly aligned with the very company that seeks to occupy our land, turn it inside out, blow it apart, fill it with poison. All for the goal of extracting a powerful heat-trapping gas, methane, that plays a significant role in climate change.Climate change: identified by The Lancet as the number-one global health problem of the 21st century. Children, according to the World Health Organization, are among its primary victims.
It was as if, on the eve of D-day, the anti-Fascist partisans had discovered that Churchill was actually in cahoots with the Axis forces.

So, I’ve had many weeks now to ponder the whole betrayal and watch for signs of redemption from Sierra Club’s national leadership. Would it be “coming clean” (to quote the title of the executive director’s recent book)?

Freed from the silence that money bought, would it now lend its voice in support of environmental groups in New York State that seek a statewide prohibition on fracking? Would it come to the aid of those in Pennsylvania calling for a halt to the devastation there?

Would it, at the very least, endorse the modest proposal of Physicians, Scientists and Engineers for Healthy Energy, who recommend a national moratorium on fracking until human health impacts are researched?
And would Michael Brune humbly ask forgiveness from antifracking activist Lisa Wright, formerly on the executive committee of the Sierra Club’s Finger Lakes chapter? As recently as last May, in response to a direct query from Wright, who had become suspicious, Brune wrote, “I do want to be clear about one thing: we do not receive any money from Aubrey McClendon, nor his company Chesapeake. For that matter, we do not receive any contributions from the natural gas industry. Hopefully this will alleviate some concerns.”
The answer to all of the above questions: No.

Whole Foods Will Stop Selling Unsustainable Seafood Next Month: Gothamist

Whole Foods Will Stop Selling Unsustainable Seafood Next Month: Gothamist
So lets see if they stop in other cities.... Whole Foods announced today that it will stop selling seafood that isn't designated "sustainable" by the Blue Ocean Institute, an advocacy group, and the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California. The popular chain says it will drop unsustainable seafood for good on Earth Day, April 22nd, which the company says is a year earlier than its target goal. Starting next month, octopus, gray sole, skate, Atlantic halibut and Atlantic cod caught by trawls will no longer be sold at Whole Foods. Instead, the AP reports that Whole Foods will stock sustainable replacements like cod caught on lines and halibut from the Pacific.


NEWS: Canada tries to remove rights language from Rio+20 text

NEWS: Canada tries to remove rights language from Rio+20 text

IPS reports, “The upcoming (Rio+20) conference (this June 20-22) is showing signs of divisiveness over a draft outcome document - an action plan to be adopted by world leaders on sustainable development for the future. An international coalition of over 400 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) from 67 countries is challenging ‘an apparent systematic effort by particular governments to delete virtually all references to well-established rights to water, energy, food and development’. These are some of the basic principles agreed at the original Earth Summit in 1992, says the coalition which includes Oxfam International, Greenpeace International, the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), the Council for Canadians, CIVICUS, and Women in Europe for a Common Future.”

The article notes, “Anil Naidoo of the Council of Canadians told IPS, ‘My assessment is that the conflicts (amongst UN member states) in the negotiations are mostly focused on the ill-defined green economy and on attacks on human rights and equity. We are seeing northern governments like Canada, the United States, New Zealand and the UK trying to remove human rights and safeguards in the document, which would leave the most vulnerable completely at the mercy of a commodified green economy,’ he said. …’If they are successful, and also remove human rights, we risk doing immense harm to the most vulnerable and to the environment, through Rio+20. This would be a travesty,’ he said.”
“Maude Barlow, national chairperson of the Council of Canadians, told IPS, ‘Yes, Canada is one of the countries leading the charge to have the human right to water and sanitation language removed from the Rio+20 draft text. To the shame of Canadians, Canada continues to refuse to recognise these rights even though the U.N. General Assembly and the Human Rights Council have clearly recognised them and, as a member state of the UN, Canada is now bound by this development,’ she said. Barlow said Canada also played a very negative role at the World Water Forum in Marseille two weeks ago when it was instrumental in weakening the language on the human rights to water and sanitation in the ministerial statement that came out of that summit.”
“Canada (also) recently attempted to remove important human rights language from a key Food and Agriculture Organisation document (Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forest in the Context of National Food Security) designed to provide for a wide range of human rights around land, food and housing. ‘And don’t forget of course, Canada’s abandonment of the Kyoto Protocol (on climate change) and any notion that rich countries had a duty to poor countries to recognise the need for climate justice,’ said Barlow, a former senior advisor on water to the president of the U.N. General Assembly.


Romney’s cousin: Mormonism is a ‘fraud’ |

Romney’s cousin: Mormonism is a ‘fraud’ | The Raw Story
Mitt Romney’s second cousin, Park Romney, once was once a Mormon high priest, but he is now denouncing the religion as a cult.  Park told BBC recently that he left the church because “I became convinced that it’s a fraud.”
“There’s compelling evidence that the Mormon Church leaders knowingly and wilfully misrepresent the historical truth of their origins and of the church for the purpose of deceiving their members into a state of mind that renders them exploitable,” he explained.
Park points to one of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint’s foundational documents, the Book of Abraham, which church founder Joseph Smith claimed to have translated from an Egyptian scroll.
After examining the translation, British Assyriologist Dr. Archibald Henry Sayce determined that it was “difficult to deal with Joseph Smith’s impudent fraud.”
“His facsimile from the Book of Abraham No. 2 is an ordinary hypocephalus, but the hieroglyphics upon it have been copied to ignorantly that hardly one of them is correct,” Sayce wrote.
London University’s Dr. W. M. Flinders Petrie also agreed (PDF) “that there is not one single word that is true in these explanations.”
But Harvard Kennedy School Prof. Robert Putnam told BBC that the former Massachusetts governor’s religion is not often questioned in the U.S. because Americans value freedom of religion.
“It’s not something you’re supposed to talk about,” Putnam said. “Whenever the issue of Romney’s Mormonism has come to the surface, there’s been lots of condemnation across the political spectrum for raising the issue of his religion.”

How 'Muzzled' Are Canada's Federal Scientists?

How 'Muzzled' Are Canada's Federal Scientists?
This article is back, and now from CBC -- concern is spreading
Kristi Miller would likely be able to help Canadians who don't have degrees in biology understand her groundbreaking — and complex — research into the Pacific salmon stock, which was published more than a year ago.

But so far, the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans scientist, who toils in a lab on Vancouver Island, has only spoken publicly at a formal inquiry into the decline of sockeye salmon in the Fraser River.Media requests to speak to her have not resulted in interviews — and the decision to keep her off-limits to reporters has reached as high as officials in the Privy Council Office in Ottawa.

The federal government says it is not muzzling its scientists, but Miller's name often emerges when the issue arises, as it has more frequently of late both inside and outside Canada's scientific community. For some, there's far more at stake here than a simple opportunity for a biologist or a climatologist to talk about viruses or the ozone layer.  "If scientists working within government are not free to discuss their science and the potential implications of it, then what does that say about us as a society?" asks Jeffrey Hutchings, a professor and Canada Research Chair in Marine Conservation and Biodiversity at Dalhousie University in Halifax.

For Hutchings, who had his own fight with federal government secrecy over the closure of the Atlantic cod fishery in the 1990s, there's a rather grim answer to his question.It is, as he puts it, that "we have somehow deemed it OK or permissible for an Iron Curtain to be drawn across the communication of science in this country."


Earth out of balance: The challenge of controlling corporate greed

Earth out of balance: The challenge of controlling corporate greed | Grist
And when the suits start to change -- (the other suits start arming)
" it when Ron Paul says, “If we get rid of government, freedom will sweep right in.” That’s just not what happens. What happens is that a bunch of elephants stampede in because they’re in a position to take advantage of it. Meanwhile, if you get government out of the way, the people who need government, they don’t have it.
There’s this myth that government doesn’t belong in the marketplace. If that were true, there would be no canals, no railroads, no highways, no internet. The government was a critical partner in many of the biggest innovations in U.S. history.
But if you buy into that for 20 or 30 years, and you say, “smaller government, smaller government programs,” who gets squeezed by that? It’s the cities. And the problem is that, as that happens, it accelerates. Kids drop out of school. Neighborhoods decay. Businesses leave. The tax base goes down. Cops get fired. Teachers get fired. It’s a cycle of pain...
Today, Rothkopf is CEO of both Garten Rothkopf, a global consulting firm that specializes in energy and climate issues, and FP Group, the company that publishes Foreign Policy magazine. He is also a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. In his free time, he writes books, most recently Power, Inc., a sharp rebuke of free markets run amok and a loud call for rebalancing public needs and corporate interests.
The message will no doubt be music to the ears of all the “muppets” out there who have recently had their eyeballs ripped out by Wall Street fat cats.
Rothkopf still looks comfortable in a really nice suit — but at times he sounds weirdly like Noam Chomsky. “Corporations were given rights by people to serve society,” he told us, “and the moment they stop serving society, those rights can and should be revoked.”


Canada gets rare reprimand from UN for undermining right to water

[22-Mar-12] Canada gets rare reprimand from UN for undermining right to water
Canada has been chastised on World Water Day for undermining the right to water by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation. The Rapporteur openly criticized Canada for “proposing the removal of an explicit reference to the right to water and sanitation for all from the first draft of the ‘Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development’ outcome document.”
The Council of Canadians is in New York this week for the session on Rio+20 where this story emerged and is available for comment.
This is an extremely rare departure from protocol and diplomatic language.  The fact that Rapporteur Catarina de Albuquerque felt compelled to name Canada underscores the extremes to which the Canadian government is going in its controversial effort to weaken the legally binding UN recognition of the right to water and sanitation.  It further demonstrates how increasingly isolated Canada is on the world stage.
“States are wasting their time on re-negotiating their own decisions rather than moving forward to implement the right to water and sanitation for all,” she cautioned. “We should be marking World Water Day with progress, not debating semantics and certainly not back-tracking on these issues.”
The full text of the Rapporteur’s media release on this is available from the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.


U.N. unites on Syria, violence spills into Lebanon

U.N. unites on Syria, violence spills into Lebanon | Reuters

(Reuters) - The U.N. Security Council, including Russia and China, threw its weight on Wednesday behind efforts by Kofi Annan to end the bloody conflict in Syria, providing a rare moment of global unity in the face of the year-long crisis.
In a statement approved by all its 15 members, the council threatened Syria with unspecified "further steps" if it failed to comply with Annan's peace plan, which calls for a ceasefire and demands swift access for aid agencies.
Although the original statement was diluted at Russia's demand, editing out any specific ultimatums, the fact that all world powers signed up to the proposal dealt a serious diplomatic blow to President Bashar al-Assad as he battles a popular uprising.

Obama Set to Speed Up Approval of Tar Sands Pipeline

Obama Set to Speed Up Approval of Tar Sands Pipeline | Common Dreams
Bill McKibben: Mr. Obama Goes to Cushing, OK
Amidst the many environmental disappointments of the Obama administration -- the fizzled Copenhagen conference, the opening of vast swathes of the Arctic to drilling and huge stretches of federal land across the northern Plains to coal-mining, the failure to work for climate legislation in the Senate, the shameful blocking of regulations to control ozone -- the president has done one somewhat brave thing. He responded to the largest outpouring of environmental enthusiasm so far this millennium and denied a permit for the main Keystone XL pipe from Canada's tar sands to the Gulf of Mexico.
Cynics said he did so just to avoid disappointing young people before the election, and pointed out that he invited pipeline proponent Transcanada to reapply for the permit. It's hard not to wonder if those cynics might be right, now that he's going to Oklahoma to laud the southern half of the project just as Transcanada executives have requested.
True, the most critical part of the pipeline still can't be built -- thanks to Obama and 42 Democratic Senators, the connection to Canada remains blocked, and hence that remains a great victory for the people who rallied so fiercely all fall. But the sense grows that Obama may be setting us up for a bitter disappointment -- that his real allegiance is to the carbon barons.
* * *
Center for Biological Diversity: Obama Trumpets Dirty Fuel Pipeline That Will Allow Global Export of Tar Sands Oil, Worsen Climate Crisis
“The Gulf Coast leg would add to the fossil fuel infrastructure at a time when we critically need to transition away from fossil fuels in order to avoid climate catastrophe,” said Noah Greenwald of the Center for Biological Diversity. “Just like Keystone I, the Gulf Coast leg of Keystone XL will spill, polluting land and water and ruining important habitat for endangered species like the whooping crane, piping plover, American burying beetle, interior least tern, and Arkansas River shiner.”
“The president’s support for this pipeline is troubling,” said Greenwald. “Keystone XL may be a boon to Big Oil companies in the exporting business but those profits will come at a stiff price for our land, water, wildlife and climate.”
“The American people have spoken clearly against this project,” said Greenwald. “Building Keystone XL in pieces doesn’t make it any less dangerous.”

Take Action | Support garment workers in Bangladesh

Take Action | International Labor Rights Forum
Following a series of garment factory fires and building collapses in Bangladesh that have claimed the lives of hundreds of workers in recent years, ILRF and other labor groups have urged apparel brands that have their clothes sewn in Bangladesh to ensure a safe workplace --Today, PVH Corp — one of the largest global apparel companies, whose brands include Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, Van Heusen, IZOD, ARROW and Bass — has agreed to a  landmark fire and building safety agreement 

Encourage Apparel Companies Producing Clothing in Bangladesh to Join Agreement for Fire and Building Safety

PVH -- whose brands include Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, Van Heusen, IZOD, ARROW and Bass -- has just announced it's new agreement to fire and building safety in its supplier factories in Bangladesh. Now is the time for other major apparel companies to join with PVH in ensuring that no more workers' lives are put at risk when sewing clothing for export. Show your support for the health and safety of garment workers in Bangladesh by signing this petition, which we plan to deliver to dozens of apparel companies to urge them to do their part to help end the series of tragic deaths in the Bangladesh garment industry.

To apparel brands and retailers whose clothing is sewn in Bangladesh:

On March 21, 2012, PVH Corp. announced that it has agreed to a landmark fire and building safety agreement with International Labor Rights Forum, Clean Clothes Campaign, Worker Rights Consortium, Maquila Solidarity Network, the International Textile, Garments and Leather Workers Federation and seven Bangladeshi trade unions and non-governmental organizations.

We applaud PVH's commitment to a safe workplace in Bangladeshi garment factories and urge all other apparel brands and retailers that make apparel in Bangladesh to join the same safety program. Hundreds of Bangladeshi garment workers have died making clothes for U.S. and European brands — this is an atrocity that must stop. We count on you to help save workers' lives.

Avaaz - Petition to Morocco re Amina's suicide

Avaaz - RIP Amina
Posted: 19 March 2012
Days ago, 16 year-old Amina Filali, raped, beaten and forced to wed her rapist, killed herself -- the only way she saw to escape the trap set for her by her rapist and the law. If we act now, we can stop this unspeakable tragedy from happening to anyone else.

Article 475 in Morocco’s penal code allows a rapist to avoid prosecution and a long prison sentence by marrying his victim if she is a minor. Since 2006, the government has promised to strike this down and pass legislation prohibiting violence against women, but it hasn't happened.

Hundreds of Moroccan protestors are in the streets demanding real reform, turning up the heat on the Prime Minister and heads of other ministries, who write and sponsor bills and the international media has picked up the story. If we ramp up pressure, we can see real progress now. Sign the petition for a comprehensive law to stop violence against women, including repeal of Article 475. When we reach 250,000 signatures, we'll deliver it directly to the decision makers.


Europe's chief scientist warns against climate delays

NewsDaily: Europe's chief scientist warns against climate delays
"The simplest way to think about increasing jobs is to make more stuff and get people to buy more stuff. But my point is that we can't do that, because we're running out of resources," Glover said.
She pointed to estimates from scientists and campaigners that if EU consumption patterns were adopted globally, the equivalent of almost three planets would be needed to keep pace with the current rates of resource depletion.
"We have to think about alternative ways of using science, engineering and technology to live on the planet in a way that's rewarding but that uses less resources. I think it's the biggest challenge for humans.


Mining Industry Puts a Freeze on Mapping of Argentina’s Glaciers (Barrick)

Mining Industry Puts a Freeze on Mapping of Argentina’s Glaciers - IPS
(Barrick Gold, again ---)
Mining Industry Puts a Freeze on Mapping of Argentina’s Glaciers , By Marcela Valente

BUENOS AIRES, Mar 15, 2012 (IPS) - Since late 2011, scientists in Argentina have been carrying out an inventory of the country’s glaciers, with the aim of monitoring and preserving them. But they have failed to reach the most critical areas, where large-scale mining projects are encroaching on the ice fields.

It was in response to the threat from the mining industry that environmental organisations began to insist on the need for a law to protect the glaciers that run the length of the Andes mountain range in western Argentina.

The first bill was approved by Congress in 2008, but President Cristina Fernández, in office since December 2007, vetoed it on the argument that it affected development in provinces that depend on mining revenue, by limiting economic activities near glaciers.

Two years later, a consensus was reached on a new bill. A law establishing "minimum budgets for the protection of glaciers and the periglacial environment", approved in 2010, declared the ice fields "strategic reserves of water".  The law prohibits mining activities in those areas, and requires the protection of glaciers because they preserve water for human consumption and agriculture, as well as maintaining biodiversity and serving as tourist attractions.

The legislation also stipulates the creation of a national inventory of glaciers, to provide "the necessary information for their adequate protection, monitoring and control" by the Argentine government's institute for snow and glacier research, IANIGLA. Furthermore, it specifies that the inventory should begin to be carried out where mining or oil companies are already active, and that polluting activities by these industries should be suspended and the companies fined.

IANIGLA director Ricardo Villalba told IPS that the inventory began to be carried out in late 2011, and has been completed in the central province of Mendoza and is well underway in the southern province of Santa Cruz.  But he said work has not yet begun in the central province of San Juan, the site of two major mining projects by Canada’s Barrick Gold, the world’s largest gold mining company.

The director of IANIGLA said the provincial government had decided that experts from the National University of San Juan must carry out the training for the monitoring.

The new glacier law establishes that the activities of the mining and oil industries, major infrastructure works, and the use of chemical substances are prohibited near glaciers or in the periglacial environment, which is a region with widespread permafrost but without a blanket of snow or ice.

By means of a transitional provision, it was determined that the inventory was to start in "priority areas" – where economic activities are already taking place – within 180 days after passage of the law.
But Barrick Gold filed injunction requests in the federal courts, arguing that the glacier protection law was unconstitutional because it blocked economic activity in the province of San Juan, and a federal judge suspended implementation of the law in the province.

Because the legal action questions the constitutionality of the law, it is the Supreme Court that will have the final word. The provincial government tacitly backed the company’s position, and did not ask IANIGLA to urgently begin its work in the province, said Villalba. For that reason, the institute is not yet working in the glacial areas where Barrick is mining for gold.

Barrick has been working the Veladero open-pit gold and silver mine in San Juan since 2005. The mine, which has a projected life of 14 years, is expected to produce 11.4 million ounces of gold, and cyanide is used in the leaching process to separate gold and silver from rock.

As of 2013, Barrick Gold will also be producing another 14.4 million ounces of gold at the Pascua Lama mine, the first binational mining project in the world, located in the province of San Juan, on the Argentine side, and in the region of Atacama in northern Chile.


NAACP Brings U.S. Voting Rights Problems Before UN Human Rights Commission | NAACP

NAACP Brings U.S. Voting Rights Problems Before UN Human Rights Commission | NAACP
An NAACP delegation is in Geneva, Switzerland this week to bring the issue of voting rights in the United States before the United Nations Human Rights Commission.
The group -- the first NAACP delegation of its kind in decades -- plans to bring global attention to attempts by dozens of states to limit voter participation by limiting the forms of acceptable identification, shortening early voting opportunities, restricting where and when eligible voters may register, and banning formerly incarcerated citizens from the polls. The new legislation threatens the voting rights of millions of US citizens, with people of color affected disproportionately.

“The United States has always been a beacon of democracy for other nations,” said Roslyn M. Brock, Chairman of the NAACP Board of Directors. “When we do not uphold the highest standard, it can have major implications for democracy advocates across the globe.”
The NAACP first brought a delegation before the United Nations Human Rights Council in 1947, when W.E.B. Dubois delivered his famous speech “An Appeal to the World” warning the global body about threats to voting rights in the United States."

Donate to Lawsuite against HUDBAY mining for Murders of Mayans in Guatemala

AVAAZ: When security forces of a Canadian mining company brutally evicted Mayan families from their villages in Guatemala, eleven women were raped, a community leader was killed, and a young man paralyzed. Now villagers are standing up and suing HudBay Minerals for these horrific crimes -- but they need our help to match the corporate legal firepower and win their case!

The victims have filed a lawsuit in Canada, where HudBay’s headquarters are located. But HudBay is asking that the court turn over the lawsuit to Guatemala, where its weak courts are likely to let them go free. Experts say that the ruling could have massive reverberations beyond Canadian borders -- a win for the plaintiffs could force HudBay and other multinationals to clean up their acts abroad.

The court hearing is happening now and the plaintiffs need our help to cover the legal costs -- if we raise enough funds to give these villagers the same legal firepower as HudBay’s corporate machine, we can achieve justice for the victims and continue campaigning to protect human rights over profits around the world. Click on the link below to chip in. If just 20,000 of us donate, we could help end these mining murders for good by setting a key legal precedent:

Multinational companies are responsible for some of the most terrible crimes all over the world but shockingly, corporate abuses often go unpunished. In mining alone, corporate giants like Rio Tinto and Barrick Gold are accused of a wide range of atrocities that include environmental destruction, brutal gang rapes, and even thousands of deaths -- from Tanzania to Papua New Guinea. Winning this case could begin to put corporate wrongdoing in check.

Companies like HudBay can often act with impunity because they think their home countries won’t police the crimes they commit overseas. Or they set up shell corporations designed to protect their headquarters from liability. If we win this case, it could set a precedent that can help stop rapes, save entire villages, and protect fragile ecosystems -- no matter where these companies operate.

These firms have millions of dollars and will do whatever it takes to win this and similar cases because they know it’s a game changer. Giving just a small amount will help in the fight to bring them to justice. Click here to help:

350 | Watch the Video, Join the Fight (Stop subsidies for fossil fuels)

350 | Watch the Video, Join the Fight
Petition from

We're gearing up for a major new fight to end the billions of dollars in subsidies the fossil fuel industry receives each year. 
To move to renewable energy like wind and solar, we're going to need to end the subsidies to an industry that's already making record-breaking profits -- and start investing in a clean energy economy that doesn't destroy our planet. 
If you're ready to join this fight, sign on by filling out the form on the right. Over the next month, we'll ramp up the pressure to get every politician to tell us where he or she stands on these subsidies.


Resigning from Goldman - but not resigning from the 1%

before it goes behind the firewall- here is the text of Greg Smith's resignation letter from Goldman on March 14 - the comments are also quite interesting - if you can get to them..

TODAY is my last day at Goldman Sachs. After almost 12 years at the firm — first as a summer intern while at Stanford, then in New York for 10 years, and now in London — I believe I have worked here long enough to understand the trajectory of its culture, its people and its identity. And I can honestly say that the environment now is as toxic and destructive as I have ever seen it.

To put the problem in the simplest terms, the interests of the client continue to be sidelined in the way the firm operates and thinks about making money. Goldman Sachs is one of the world’s largest and most important investment banks and it is too integral to global finance to continue to act this way. The firm has veered so far from the place I joined right out of college that I can no longer in good conscience say that I identify with what it stands for.
It might sound surprising to a skeptical public, but culture was always a vital part of Goldman Sachs’s success. It revolved around teamwork, integrity, a spirit of humility, and always doing right by our clients. The culture was the secret sauce that made this place great and allowed us to earn our clients’ trust for 143 years. It wasn’t just about making money; this alone will not sustain a firm for so long. It had something to do with pride and belief in the organization. I am sad to say that I look around today and see virtually no trace of the culture that made me love working for this firm for many years. I no longer have the pride, or the belief.
But this was not always the case. For more than a decade I recruited and mentored candidates through our grueling interview process. I was selected as one of 10 people (out of a firm of more than 30,000) to appear on our recruiting video, which is played on every college campus we visit around the world. In 2006 I managed the summer intern program in sales and trading in New York for the 80 college students who made the cut, out of the thousands who applied.
I knew it was time to leave when I realized I could no longer look students in the eye and tell them what a great place this was to work.
When the history books are written about Goldman Sachs, they may reflect that the current chief executive officer, Lloyd C. Blankfein, and the president, Gary D. Cohn, lost hold of the firm’s culture on their watch. I truly believe that this decline in the firm’s moral fiber represents the single most serious threat to its long-run survival.
Over the course of my career I have had the privilege of advising two of the largest hedge funds on the planet, five of the largest asset managers in the United States, and three of the most prominent sovereign wealth funds in the Middle East and Asia. My clients have a total asset base of more than a trillion dollars. I have always taken a lot of pride in advising my clients to do what I believe is right for them, even if it means less money for the firm. This view is becoming increasingly unpopular at Goldman Sachs. Another sign that it was time to leave.
How did we get here? The firm changed the way it thought about leadership. Leadership used to be about ideas, setting an example and doing the right thing. Today, if you make enough money for the firm (and are not currently an ax murderer) you will be promoted into a position of influence.
What are three quick ways to become a leader? a) Execute on the firm’s “axes,” which is Goldman-speak for persuading your clients to invest in the stocks or other products that we are trying to get rid of because they are not seen as having a lot of potential profit. b) “Hunt Elephants.” In English: get your clients — some of whom are sophisticated, and some of whom aren’t — to trade whatever will bring the biggest profit to Goldman. Call me old-fashioned, but I don’t like selling my clients a product that is wrong for them. c) Find yourself sitting in a seat where your job is to trade any illiquid, opaque product with a three-letter acronym.
Today, many of these leaders display a Goldman Sachs culture quotient of exactly zero percent. I attend derivatives sales meetings where not one single minute is spent asking questions about how we can help clients. It’s purely about how we can make the most possible money off of them. If you were an alien from Mars and sat in on one of these meetings, you would believe that a client’s success or progress was not part of the thought process at all.
It makes me ill how callously people talk about ripping their clients off. Over the last 12 months I have seen five different managing directors refer to their own clients as “muppets,” sometimes over internal e-mail. Even after the S.E.C., Fabulous Fab, Abacus, God’s work, Carl Levin, Vampire Squids? No humility? I mean, come on. Integrity? It is eroding. I don’t know of any illegal behavior, but will people push the envelope and pitch lucrative and complicated products to clients even if they are not the simplest investments or the ones most directly aligned with the client’s goals? Absolutely. Every day, in fact.
It astounds me how little senior management gets a basic truth: If clients don’t trust you they will eventually stop doing business with you. It doesn’t matter how smart you are.
These days, the most common question I get from junior analysts about derivatives is, “How much money did we make off the client?” It bothers me every time I hear it, because it is a clear reflection of what they are observing from their leaders about the way they should behave. Now project 10 years into the future: You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that the junior analyst sitting quietly in the corner of the room hearing about “muppets,” “ripping eyeballs out” and “getting paid” doesn’t exactly turn into a model citizen.
When I was a first-year analyst I didn’t know where the bathroom was, or how to tie my shoelaces. I was taught to be concerned with learning the ropes, finding out what a derivative was, understanding finance, getting to know our clients and what motivated them, learning how they defined success and what we could do to help them get there.
My proudest moments in life — getting a full scholarship to go from South Africa to Stanford University, being selected as a Rhodes Scholar national finalist, winning a bronze medal for table tennis at the Maccabiah Games in Israel, known as the Jewish Olympics — have all come through hard work, with no shortcuts. Goldman Sachs today has become too much about shortcuts and not enough about achievement. It just doesn’t feel right to me anymore.
I hope this can be a wake-up call to the board of directors. Make the client the focal point of your business again. Without clients you will not make money. In fact, you will not exist. Weed out the morally bankrupt people, no matter how much money they make for the firm. And get the culture right again, so people want to work here for the right reasons. People who care only about making money will not sustain this firm — or the trust of its clients — for very much longer.

Greg Smith is resigning today as a Goldman Sachs executive director and head of the firm’s United States equity derivatives business in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Would a Koch Takeover of Cato Make War with Iran More Likely?

Would a Koch Takeover of Cato Make War with Iran More Likely? | MyFDL
(Cato? Independent? whooosh. If THIS doesn't make you sleep badly ....)
The drumbeat for war in Iran is getting louder, but opposition is coming from a seemingly unlikely source: the Cato Institute. This libertarian think tank generally sides with the Right, but it has long shown an independent streak, sometimes bucking conservative orthodoxy on civil liberties, the war on drugs, and U.S. militarism.
Will that change if Charles and David Koch succeed in their efforts to take over Cato?
The group is locked in a legal battle with the billionaire brothers, who have filed a lawsuit to appoint two-thirds of Cato’s board of directors. Today, Cato chairman Bob Levy has released a letter accusing the Kochs of trying to steer the group in a more partisan direction and compromise its independence. As detailed in Brave New Foundation’s upcoming film Koch Brothers Exposed, the Kochs are indeed notoriously partisan, funding Republican politicians in each election cycle and now allegedly promising to devote more than $200 million to defeating President Obama in 2012. Although they have long been financial backers of Cato–the group was originally named the Charles Koch Foundation–this move would put the organization entirely under their control.
That’s scary. For now, several thinkers at Cato are opposing the rush to war with Iran and refusing to shy away from criticizing Republicans. Senior fellow Doug Bandow writes, “The consequences of any war with Iran would be extraordinary. Probably far worse than resulted from the invasion of Iraq.” He assails Republican presidential candidates for their “reflexive war-mongering against Iran” because “every additional threat to attack Iran only more clearly demonstrates to Tehran the necessity of developing nuclear weapons.”
Malou Innocent, another foreign policy expert at Cato, says America should “ignore the hawks on Iran,” including those at the more reliably right-wing American Enterprise Institute. She is also calling for a quick end to the “waste of money, effort, and, most importantly, lives” resulting from the war in Afghanistan.
Independent voices like those at Cato serve a critical function in the national debate on war and peace. They show that peace is not simply the domain of progressives; it’s something that Americans of any political stripe can get behind. Without such voices, progressives can more easily be marginalized and ignored.
So what happens when partisans like the Koch brothers get their hands on an institution that exhibits flashes of independence? In Cato’s case, we can expect that independence to evaporate. They have already tried to pack the board with people like self-proclaimed neoconservative John Hinderaker, who once wrote, “It must be very strange to be President Bush. A man of extraordinary vision and brilliance approaching to genius, he can’t get anyone to notice. He is like a great painter or musician who is ahead of his time, and who unveils one masterpiece after another to a reception that, when not bored, is hostile.” Does anyone think guys like that are going to preserve any hint of independence at Cato?
As Alex Pareene writes at Slate, “Cato is mostly antiwar, decidedly anti-drug war, and sponsors a lot of good work on civil liberties. That … is basically what the Kochs don’t like about them, because white papers on decriminalization don’t help Republicans get elected.”
Little by little, our democracy is coming under the thumb of those who have more and more. The Koch brothers aren’t the only big shots commandeering the public debate, but they do represent the worst of this frightening trend. That’s why fights like the one between Cato and the Kochs should matter to progressives: the nation’s most urgent public policy decisions, including ones involving war and peace, may hang in the balance.

NEWS: Nestlé chairman promotes ‘global public-private’ policy body at the World Water Forum

NEWS: Nestlé chairman promotes ‘global public-private’ policy body at the World Water Forum
{Nestle is a new sponsor of the Girl Scouts, I think... Remember Urinetown? "all hail Malthus?"}

Nestlé Chairman Peter Brabeck-Letmathe - who has stated that the idea of water as a basic human right is “extreme” - is attending the corporate World Water Forum in Marseille, France. He made comments there yesterday as his corporation launched their report ‘Creating Shared Value Report 2011, which outlines their take on the need for “pragmatic, efficient and cost effective action” to address global water scarcity.
In a Nestlé media release, Brabeck-Letmathe stated that a “global public-private initiative” that he chairs, known as the 2030 Water Resources Group, could be helpful in “providing tools and information on best practice” as well as “guidance and new policy ideas on water resource scarcity.”

It appears that Brabeck-Letmathe is also headed for another water policy advisory group - this time in Canada.
As recently highlighted by our Edmonton-based organizer Scott Harris, “The Council of Canadians and organizations around the world will continue to monitor the establishment by the University of Alberta of a new Water Initiative, which the Council of Canadians revealed may include Brabeck-Letmathe and a who’s who of corporate heads and pro-water privatization advocates. The formation of the initiative comes at a critical time for water policy in Alberta, with the provincial government promising long-delayed public consultations in 2012 on plans to expand to the entire province an allocation system based on a water market, which Brabeck-Letmathe has boasted about meeting with the Alberta government to promote.”

UPDATE: World Water Forum blocks Barlow from addressing governments

UPDATE: World Water Forum blocks Barlow from addressing governments
“On July 28, 2010, 122 countries - including Switzerland, Spain and Uruguay - voted in the UN General Assembly to recognize the human right to water and sanitation,” says Barlow. “Every country, with the exception of Canada and the South Pacific nation of Tonga, have now recognized these rights. By blocking governments to invite me to speak and by facilitating a process that allows a small minority of countries to remove language recognizing the fundamental rights from the declaration, the World Water Forum has made itself into a historical anachronism.”

The World Water Forum has blocked three governments from inviting Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow from speaking at a high-level panel tomorrow (Wednesday March 14) that will address ministers and government officials on ‘Making the Rights to Safe Water and Sanitation a Reality for All’.
The governments of Switzerland, Spain and Uruguay had invited Barlow, a former senior advisor on water to the president of the United Nations General Assembly in 2008-2009, to speak at this session given her leadership in the global campaign to have the right to water and sanitation recognized by the UN, and now for those rights to be fully implemented by national governments around the world.

But the World Water Forum, without first informing the governments that had invited her, sent Barlow an e-mail uninviting her. Pierre Walther, Focal point with the Ministerial Round Table on Human Rights to Water and Sanitation, wrote, “Your interest to participate in the MRT was brought to the attention of our organizing committee. We briefly discussed yesterday at a phone conference various possibilities to invite you to the MRT as a representative of the civil society. Unfortunately, this will not be possible.”
Earlier, Barlow turned down an offer to debate “public/ private involvement in the provision of water and sanitation services” which took place today in front of a largely corporate audience, while the ministers were elsewhere at their meetings.
Council of Canadians water campaigner Meera Karunananthan says, “This is emblematic of the undemocratic nature of the World Water Forum. It is very clear that the Forum is run by multinational water corporations that are trying to negate what has been achieved at the United Nations General Assembly.” Karunananthan adds, “International water policy discussions should be moved from the World Water Forum, dubbed the ‘Davos of water’, to a democratic, transparent public forum under the auspices of the UN.”..
t has been reported that “a very small minority of countries” push for the exclusion of these rights from being included in the Forum’s declaration. According to a statement from Amnesty International and WASH United, it was Canada and a few other countries that successfully pushed to remove language directly affirming the human right to water and sanitation in a World Water Forum preparatory meeting. While the declaration lacks the transparency and due process of a UN resolution and is not legally binding, it does set a negative precedent against an established human right.


Scientists warn EPA on Monsanto corn rootworm

NewsDaily: Scientists warn EPA on Monsanto corn rootworm
Mar. 9, 2012 (Reuters) — A group of plant scientists is warning federal regulators that action is needed to mitigate a growing problem with biotech corn that is losing its resistance to plant-damaging pests.
French beekeepers demonstrate to protest the use of genetically-modified organisms in front of French Monsanto headquarters in Bron, near Lyon, January 20, 2012. Sign reads, "GMO = Death of Bees" and banner in background says, "Monsanto get out"

The stakes are high - corn production is critical for food, animal feed and ethanol production, and farmers have increasingly been relying on corn that has been genetically modified to be toxic to corn rootworm pests.
"This is not something that is a surprise... but it is something that needs to be addressed," said Joseph Spencer, a corn entomologist with the Illinois Natural History Survey, part of the University of Illinois.
Spencer is one of 22 academic corn experts who sent a letter dated March 5 to the Environmental Protection Agency telling regulators they are worried about long-term corn production prospects because of the failure of the genetic modifications in corn aimed at protection from rootworm.


Humanist Feminist Circle: Women Lead Charge for Another Keystone XL Victory

Humanist Feminist Circle: Women Lead Charge for Another Keystone XL Victory
oday was... quite a day. The bell that people struck last August when they sat in at the White House to block the Keystone Pipeline was still resonating. Not loudly -- the oil money in Congress muffled the sound. But loudly enough that we squeaked through by a 4-Senator margin, defeating a Republican amendment mandating the pipeline's construction.
A year ago almost no one had heard of the pipeline. Even four months ago, a poll of 300 "energy insiders" still found 97 percent predicting it would get its permit. But it didn't -- TransCanada can of course re-apply, but that will be another battle, down the road. For now, people power (the largest civil disobedience action in 30 years, 800,000 messages to the Senate in a single day, bodies encircling the White House shoulder to shoulder five deep) overturned the odds.
And though most Americans don't know it, today is also International Women's Day, appropriate in this case because many of the very strongest fighters against this project right from the beginning were women of unusual distinction.
I was reminded of that earlier this week, when Debra White Plume was arrested on the Lakota reservation for blocking trucks carrying giant equipment up to the tar sands. She's an eloquent fighter, part of the large crew of indigenous leaders who were the first to sound the alarm about the tarsands and have been at the center of the battle ever since. But this time she wasn't outside the White House or at a Congressional hearing -- she was on a lonely reservation road with a small crowd of other people facing down giant semis and tribal police. You need to read her full account of what happened, both because it's powerful and because she's a great writer. My favorite passage:
On the ride home from jail, I shared with my children my jail time, they were curious what the cell looked like and what I did in there for 3 hours. I told them it was empty, nothing in there but a toilet, not even drinking water. I told them I just paced back and forth, and read the grafitti scratched into the walls that said "this cell is 11 by 6," "Tristan loves Luke," "Angel and Wildflower have outlaw love," and "I used to work here, now I am IN here." My teens were sad, but understood why this happened, and they were glad me and their Poppa were coming home.

Irwin Cotler: Bill C-10: The Debate that Wasn't

Irwin Cotler: Bill C-10: The Debate that Wasn't
VERY good analysis of the arrogant and draconian push through of this terrible bill-- "It is quick to judge mentally ill persons as criminals not meriting treatment without taking into account mental health considerations and whether treatment might be more appropriate. It is quick to judge and abolish conditional sentencing -- and eliminate the related judicial discretion -- without taking into account aggravating and mitigating factors through its use of mandatory penalties. Indeed, the government was quick to judge that this omnibus legislation was necessary -- again, in the absence of evidence to the contrary -- when, in fact, crime in this country is decreasing..."...Perhaps most distressing was the government's rejection of opposition amendments, such as those I proposed to the Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act, because it eventually realized the merit of these amendments and had to re-present them as their own in the Senate. This is the reason we are again debating C-10 in the House. The debate on these provisions would not have happened had the government simply read my amendments and accepted them -- or offered sub-amendments that I would have accepted -- rather than dismissing them all merely because I am a member of the opposition.
Further, the Government sought to justify its intemperate haste by invoking the title -- the Safe Streets and Communities Act -- as if the very title alone validated the legislation; and, if any questions were raised or critiques offered about the bill, the government repeated the mantra -- as it has throughout this process -- that it had a "mandate" for its enactment. Yet, every government and every party has a mandate and obligation for safe streets and safe communities. The real question -- the one that needed to be debated but never was -- is the merits of the means chosen.
I say the debate that "never was" because one need only have watched the debate or read the record to see that government did not take Parliament seriously.... The bundling of nine major pieces of legislation into one omnibus bill and the imposition of closure in both the House and in committee deliberations, thereby not allowing for the necessary and differentiated parliamentary discussion and debate, let alone the necessary oversight of the legislation. - including:
  The removal of the requirement that corrections administrators use "the least restrictive measures," generating yet another constitutional concern relative to incarceration and potential cruel and unusual punishment.
The inclusion of other constitutionally suspect provisions in the legislation, including:

· Severe, excessive, disproportionate, and prejudicial mandatory minimum sentences;
· Vague and overbroad offences;
· Undue and arbitrary exercise of executive discretion; and
· Unconstitutional pre-trial detention issues  - etc. etc.


NEWS: UN special rapporteur challenges ‘minority of countries’ for removing right to water in declaration

NEWS: UN special rapporteur challenges ‘minority of countries’ for removing right to water in declaration
Earlier this week, the Council of Canadians and CUPE highlighted that Canada was one of the countries that had pushed for the right to water to be excluded from the ministerial declaration.

New report exposes Canadian connection to dams and mines in Chile

[06-Mar-12] New report exposes Canadian connection to controversial dams and mines in Chile
In the midst of a major mining conference in Toronto known as PDAC 2012, a new report sheds light on controversial projects in Chile involving Canadian mining companies. The Council of Canadians is releasing a report today entitled Chilean Patagonia in the Balance: Dams, Mines and the Canadian Connection. The report is available at

The report exposes the involvement of the British Columbia Investment Management Corporation, the Canada Pension Plan, and the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, as well as Canadian companies Barrick Gold, Goldcorp, and Kinross in highly controversial projects in Chile. These projects, while politically invisible in Canada have been met by fierce public opposition in Chile.
 “Far away, on the southern cone of South America in Chilean Patagonia, exists one of the most beauti­ful, still-virgin territories on Earth. There, an intense struggle is taking place that most Canadians have never heard of, but that intimately involves the Canadian mining industry, the Canadian government, and millions of Canadian pensioners and investors. This report by Alex Latta and Kari Williams tells the story of this struggle and why every Canadian should care about it.”
  • The rising demand for more energy is driven by Chile’s rapidly ex­panding mining industry, in which Canadian companies are the single largest source of foreign invest­ment. Canadian mining companies, such as Barrick Gold, Goldcorp, and Kinross, are aggressively moving into Latin America.
  • Transelec, the only transmission company currently operating in Chile that is capable of building the project’s link to the market - likely to require an 80-metre wide, 2,300 kilometre long clear-cut corridor through 14 national parks, nature preserves and conservation areas - is owned by a Canadian consortium led by Brookfield As­set Management (the company which attempted to evict Occupy Wall Street in New York), with partnership from the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and the British Columbia Investment Management Corporation, both public sector investors.
  • Major investments in the Chilean mining industry fueling demand for the Patagonia project are supported by loans and loan guarantees from Export Development Canada, Canada’s export credit agency. EDC’s financial services to Canadian exporters and investors in Chile quadrupled during the first decade of the new millennium and now involve some 300 Canadian firms.
All attempts by human rights and environmental groups to establish human rights and environmental standards for this money have been met with resistance by the Harper government, which openly supports the Chilean government in its energy and mining policies through a shared free trade agreement and EDC loans

alexandra morton - report from the hearings --

alexandra morton
People of this coast think it is important to communicate with the Norwegian delegation visiting BC and so we are taking this opportunity wherever we can. Yesterday Sabra Woodward and Elena Edwards met the Norwegian Parliamentarians in Victoria as they walked from the Empress Hotel to the Royal Museum handing them the letter below this blog. They said the delegates were eager to communicate and asked questions. I joined a group of people today prepared to greet the delegation as they boarded the ferry and ride with them to Quadra Island.
....While we were doing the best we could to communicate Chief Bob Chamberlin, who was not invited to this meeting between First Nations and the Norwegian government did not let that stop him. Chief Chamberlin went in and sat with the president of the Storting and Saami leadership. I wish his village of Gwayasdums could see how they were represented this day. Chief Chamberlin has filed a Class Action Suit against the Norwegian fish feedlot industry.
As Geoff Gerhart and I got on the ferry to return to Quadra Island, a woman in a pickup flipped us the bird. She was likely employed by the feedlot salmon industry. I am sure she saw us as a threat to her livelihood and I can understand that, but her comment was that Americans fund us. To this woman I say – whoever is telling you this, is lying to you. Americans do not fund us. We are people taking a stand for wild salmon, because we believe they are important. No one is paying us to do this, no one can pay us to stop. We are people from towns failing under the globalized economy; we are people who care about the future of all living things that come after us. We are so low on funds, some of us hitch-hiked to be here today. We are single moms, people in wheelchairs, fishermen. You can disagree with us, but do not allow these corporations to pit us against each other with lies.

Librotraficante ! Smuggle banned latino books BACK into Arizona!

Librotraficante | Houston, TX 77254-0181
from Marg!   "Wetbooks" !  a great project to distribute 'banned books" by Latinos or on Latino Studies BACK into Arizona. (Sandra Cisneros - come on - how could they ban THAT?)  Watch the video, and volunteer!

Homophobic group to help award Diamond Jubilee Medals

Homophobic group to help award Diamond Jubilee Medals
A Canadian group whose homepage currently states that one of the biggest threats to families is the “homosexual lobby” and “the media” has been appointed to help government decide how to award Diamond Jubilee Medals to honour Queen Elizabeth’s 60 years of service to Canada.
REAL Women of Canada, a socially conservative, anti-feminist group that often acts as an intervenor in court cases that oppose queer rights, will recommend medals under the social and volunteer category. An article on the group’s homepage also dismisses bullying, saying it's a justified reaction on the part of youth frustrated by the “special treatment” granted to queer or non-Christian youth in schools.
The Canadian Queen’s Diamond Jubilee program is awarding medals to 60,000 “outstanding” Canadians, according to the governor general’s website.A spokesperson for the governor general’s program says a committee decided on partner organizations based on a number of different categories, such as health, multiculturalism, and arts and culture.
“I don’t think they reflect the general views of women in Canada,” says Helen Kennedy, executive director of Egale Canada, which was not asked to participate. “I’m not saying they don’t have a right to be there; however, you need to balance the playing field a little bit, and if you’re going to appoint them, then you should appoint women from any number of women’s groups who are very progressive, aren’t homophobic and transphobic, and deserve to be at the table.”


Iran: Release women’s rights activist Nasrin Sotoudeh | Amnesty.Ca

Iran: Release women’s rights activist Nasrin Sotoudeh | Take Action
Nasrin Sotoudeh is a lawyer, human rights campaigner and women’s rights activist.
Nasrin has defended the rights of many activists who have been arrested, tried unfairly and jailed, including Nobel Peace Laureate Shirin Ebadi. Nasrin has spoken publicly about the shortcomings of the Iranian legal system and is famous for defending young offenders on death row. Her activities made her a target, and she was arrested in September 2010.
In January 2011, Nasrin was sentenced to 11 years in prison. In mid-September 2011, the Appeals Court reduced her prison sentence to 6 years and a ban against practising law from 20 years to 10. The charges against her include “acts against national security”, “anti-regime propaganda” and belonging to the Centre for Human Rights Defenders.  You can write a letter here.

the Senate defeated legislation to build the Keystone XL pipeline

(from Bill at
Thanks to you, people power once more squeezed out a victory over oil money.
Today the Senate defeated legislation to build the Keystone XL pipeline. The vote was close, but given that this pipeline was a 'no brainer' a year ago, it's pretty remarkable that people power was able to keep working, even in the back rooms of the oil-soaked Senate. (See the full vote count here) Thanks to your hard work -- most recently sending 802,000 messages to the Senate in just 24 hours, not to mention all the calls to your Senators -- we have kept the pipeline at bay yet again. It's unlikely the Senate will take another vote on Keystone XL, but then again, one can't underestimate the corrupting influence of the money Big Oil is pumping into Capitol Hill.
Still, the news isn’t all good. Last week, TransCanada announced plans to build the half of the pipeline that runs from Oklahoma to Texas; and while it doesn’t let them get new tar sands oil across the Canadian border, it’s a blow for folks along the southern half of the route, who we’ll keep fighting side by side with. And TransCanada also announced plans to reapply for a permit to cross the border—so even the partial win we’ve got at the moment may turn out to be temporary. But for right now, there is pipe rusting in big piles across the heartland of the country, instead of sitting underground pumping dirty oil at 700,000 barrels per day. Our victory may not last forever. But today big oil actually lost something big.

Documents Show Cozy Relationship Between Blackwater, Canadian Troops | Common Dreams

Documents Show Cozy Relationship Between Blackwater, Canadian Troops | Common Dreams

Company was paid nearly $2.4 million to train Canadian soldiers last year
The Canadian military has had a close relationship for years with Xe Services, formerly known as Blackwater, and was paid $2.4 million to train Canadian soldiers in 2011.

U.S. firm linked to civilian deaths hired to train Canadian soldiers
An American private security firm whose employees have been implicated in the killing of civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan was paid nearly $2.4 million to train Canadian soldiers last year. [...]
The military has had a relationship with the security firm for years; the documents say 605 Canadian soldiers have received training at the company's North Carolina complex since 2006, as well as an unspecified number of special forces commandos.
In 2008, the federal government awarded the company a standing contract to provide training and access to its facilities on an as-needed basis. It was awarded without a competitive bid "because it was assessed that Xe Services had the only facility capable of meeting the operational requirements for specialized training of CF personnel," the documents say.
The report quotes Liberal defense critic John McKay, who questioned the awarding of the contract to Xe without competition:
"Could the Canadian government find no one better to train Canadian soldiers?" he said. "A sole-sourced contract worries you at the best of times. But to sole-source Blackwater?"

That's Enough Politeness – Women Need to Rise Up in Anger

That's Enough Politeness – Women Need to Rise Up in Anger | Common Dreams
Critique of the UN Women's Commission by Laura Penny
Like the suffragettes and socialists who called the first International Women's Day over a century ago, women who believe in a better world are going to have to start thinking in deeds, not words. With women under attack financially, socially and sexually across the developed and developing world, with assaults on jobs, welfare, childcare, contraception and the right to choose, the time for polite conversation is over. It's time for anger. It's time for daring, direct action, big demands, big dreams. The men who still run the world from boardrooms and government offices have become too used to not being afraid of what women will do if we are attacked, used and exploited. We must make them afraid.

10,000 GM Customers Tell Auto Giant: Stop Funding Climate Deniers\

10,000 GM Customers Tell Auto Giant: Stop Funding Climate Deniers | Common Dreams
10,000 GM Customers Tell Auto Giant: Stop Funding Climate Deniers
General Motors, a company that has made strides to lower the carbon footprint of driving, is taking heat from 10,000 of its customers for a donation its charitable foundation made to an institute that casts doubt on climate science, according to a report from McClatchy.

The outrage stems from a leaked internal document from the rightwing Heartland Institute that was made public last month. A detailed strategy and funding memorandum, the document showed that GM had given the group $30,000 since 2010.
The campaign to press GM on their funding of a group well known for its campaign to deny global warming was organized by Forecast the Facts, a public advocacy group that has historically aimed to cast light on how meteorologists coverage of severe weather and climate change impacts public perceptions of how those phenomenon are related to man-made global warming...

McClatchy points out the long history of Heartland's climate denial and how completely detached it is from the reality presented by the world's leading scientists:
Heartland contends that global warming has stopped, a view that's contradicted by global data and reports from many scientists, including those at NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. NOAA, for example, has reported that each of the last three decades has been warmer than the decade before.
Heartland, however, sees global warming as part of a "liberal political agenda," according to its website. It argues that warming rose mostly from natural causes and has stopped, and that the benefits of "moderate warming" will probably outweigh the costs. The organization plans to fund a K-12 curriculum saying that climate science is controversial.


Enbridge Canada-U.S. Pipeline Closed After Crash

Enbridge Canada-U.S. Pipeline Closed After Crash
Enbridge shut down a pipeline running from Canada to the United States after a fatal two-vehicle crash southwest of Chicago. Two vehicles plowed through a fence around a pumping station in New Lenox County, Ill. just after 2 a.m. Saturday, causing a massive explosion and fireball, according to local reports.
Enbridge, in a statement Sunday, called the incident a "tragic vehicle collision unrelated to our operations." Enbridge shut down the pipeline after sensors detected a leak. It's unclear at this point how much oil has spilled, or when the pipeline will reopen. The company has sent its own investigators to the scene.
Local police say all the men were in their mid-20s, and are trying to figure out why and how the crash happened. It is the second time in less than three weeks that the Calgary company has had to shut down part of its system in the U.S. Upper Midwest because of a leak.


Pre-Emptive Strike: Shell Sues Environmental Groups

Pre-Emptive Strike: Shell Sues Environmental Groups
Royal Dutch Shell has launched a pre-emptive strike against environmental groups by filing a lawsuit against groups likely to challenge the company's plan to drill in the Chuckchi Sea in the Arctic, the Los Angeles Times is reporting. The lawsuit, the Los Angeles Time reports, is Shell's way of beating the environmental groups to court, thereby avoiding delays in its drilling plans.
The Times reports that the Sierra Club, Greenpeace, Defenders of Wildlife, the National Audubon Society and other groups that have challenged Arctic drilling are named in the lawsuit.
(This is Harper's plan in the deal with China) - and this from the comments:
I watched this debate on the Automatic Earth's new website:

I could scarcely believe what I was hearing from the Shell Oil ex-CEO as he was explaining how the USA needs to do to energy what the finance industry did when they set up the Fed effectively taking all 'money' related authority away from the elected government and bestowing it upon themselves.
He is saying the USA desperately needs to set up an energy 'Fed' run by 'industry' just as the Federal Reserve is run by private banking interests.
Mr. Shell Oil blames energy 'scarcity' on environmentalists and the constraints they put on industry in the form of environmental legislation that has governments everywhere gridlocked.
To drill or not to drill, frack or not to frack, pipelines, environmental reviews or a lack thereof, nuclear reactors, nuclear waste storage - the decision to fund alternative energy sources etc etc - all these decisions and more in the hands of corporate 'Big Energy' (Oil, Coal, Nuclear) - (well, yes)