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.


Organized crime behind the $100 billion illegal logging industry decimating worldwide forests\

Organized crime behind the $100 billion illegal logging industry decimating worldwide forests | The Raw Story
Organised crime is now a big player in illegal logging, which accounts for up to 30 percent of all wood traded globally, the UN and Interpol warned on Thursday.
In the mid-2000s, some tropical countries reported a fall in illicit forest clearance, but this may well have been a mirage, they said.
In fact, criminals laundered profits into tree plantation companies.
They used these as fronts for driving corridors into old forests, plundering trees which they frequently passed off as wood from sustainable sources.
“In many cases a tripling in the volumes of timber ‘originating’ from plantations in the five years following the law enforcement crackdown on illegal logging has come partly from cover operations to criminals to legalise and launder illegal logging operations,” said the report, Green Carbon: Black Trade.
Between 50 to 90 per cent of logging in the Amazon basin, Central Africa and Southeast Asia is illegal, although not all of this is from organised crime, it said.
Globally, illegal logging is worth between $30 and 100 billion (25 and 77.5 billion euros) annually, or between 10 and 30 percent of all timber transactions.
Among examples cited in the report, some 3,000 companies in Brazil are under investigation for “eco-certifying” illegal timber and exporting it abroad.
“In Indonesia, the amount of logs allegedly produced through plantations increased from 3.7 million cubic metres (129 million cubic feet) in 2000 to over 22 million (770 million cu. ft.) in 2008,” it said.
Less than half of these plantations actually existed, investigators believe.

TransCanada Urges Texas Police to use “Aggressive Pain Compliance Tactics” on Keystone XL Blockaders « The Agonist

TransCanada Urges Texas Police to use “Aggressive Pain Compliance Tactics” on Keystone XL Blockaders « The Agonist
Two members of the Keystone XL blockade who were physically blocking construction of the TransCanada pipeline were tortured yesterday at the request of TransCanada, according to Tarsands Blockade spokesperson Ramsey Sprague.
I spoke with Sprague today about the use of physical force against two protesters, Shannon Bebe and Benjamin Franklin, who handcuffed themselves to equipment being used to cut down trees so that the southern leg of the Keystone XL Pipeline could be built. According to Sprague, Bebe and Franklin began their peaceful protest yesterday at 10:30 am, along with several observers.  Sprague indicated that the group’s interactions with the police had been amicable and peaceful until TransCanada representatives showed up and encouraged the police to “run off” the observers.
Once there were no cameras in sight, Sprague says that TransCanada officials huddled with police.  Shortly thereafter, the police commenced putting Bebe and Franklin in stress positions by bending their free arms backwards as far as possible and twisting their handcuffed hands backwards, and holding them there for 10 minutes. [...]
Also, Democracy Now (Video – 9:43 – 10:10):  Activists Continue Tar Sands Blockade in Texas
Two environmental activists were arrested in East Texas Tuesday as protesters there continue their push to block construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline. Activists with the Tar Sands Blockade are claiming to have thwarted construction efforts outside Winnsboro, Texas, for most of the day after two people locked themselves to a backhoe. The pair were reportedly pepper-sprayed, tasered and put in chokeholds by police before being arrested. Meanwhile, eight other activists remain aloft in a “tree village” in a bid to block tree-clearing equipment that’s making way for the pipeline’s southern leg.

Calif. Governor Brown Signs Human Right to Water Bill

Daily Kos: Governor Brown Signs Human Right to Water Bill
[now for McGuinty and Harper -- see Maude Barlow in waiting room]
Governor Jerry Brown yesterday signed historic legislation establishing a state policy that every Californian has a human right to safe, clean, affordable and accessible drinking water.
AB 685, authored by Assemblymember Mike Eng (D-Alhambra), also requires that all relevant state agencies consider the state policy when creating policies and regulations.
By signing this bill into law, California becomes the first state in the nation to declare safe, clean, affordable and accessible water a human right.
“Around 8.5 million people in Californians repeatedly experience excessive levels of toxicity in their drinking water every year,” said Assemblymember Eng. “As the representative of a district that sits on an aquifer that is the largest Superfund in the United States, I am very pleased that Governor Brown agreed that safe, clean, affordable and accessible drinking water is a basic human right and is willing to codify it into state policy."


Syria: Children tortured, killed during conflict, aid group reports -

Syria: Children tortured, killed during conflict, aid group reports -
Khalid was kept locked in a classroom in his old school in Syria, forced to stand on his feet for two days without food or water, when the men came for him.
He was hung from the ceiling by his wrists and beaten until he passed out.
“I passed out from the severe pain of hanging like that, and from the beating,” he said. “They took turns stubbing out their cigarettes on me.”
Khalid is 15 years old and his story is one of the horrific, first-hand accounts documented in a Save the Children report released Tuesday that calls for the “appalling violations against children” to stop.
The report is the latest by a list of human rights groups to document the abuse, torture and murder of children in the 18-month conflict that has killed more than 20,000 and displaced more than 1.5 million people. Groups like Amnesty International and UN investigators have reported abuses by the Assad regime, its allied militias, and to a lesser extent the rebels.
The 50-page report details the use of electric shocks to torture adults and children, concrete blocks dropped onto the heads of prisoners, and children as young as 11 being stabbed to death.

UN: voluntary guidelines on the responsible governance of tenure of land, fisheries and forests

voluntary guidelines on the responsible governance of tenure of land, fisheries and forests
A report by civil society groups says it is impossible to tackle the causes of hunger if existing power relations remain untouched
Human rights are the most powerful tool to ensure efforts against hunger and malnutrition tackle structural causes and are not reduced to short-term strategies, civil society groups said in a report published on Tuesday.
Who Decides About Global Food and Nutrition? – Strategies to Regain Control argues that it is impossible to combat the causes of hunger while keeping existing power relations untouched.
“Food and power are related. It is almost impossible to find one person among the powerful in society and politics worldwide who does not have enough to eat,” said Huguette Akplogan-Dossa, regional co-ordinator of the African Network on the Right to Food (ANoRF). “The tendency is for exclusion from economic and political decision-making to go hand in hand with incidences of hunger and malnutrition.”
The report expresses particular concern about the increasing influence and control of agribusinesses and financial companies over food and nutrition.
“Far too often, agribusinesses and nutrition companies use their weight and influence to increase their profit margins, and to manipulate the rules to their interests and convenience, without regard for the best interests of small-scale food producers and the survival of their communities – let alone the moral and legal requirements of the human right to food,” said Peter Prove, executive director of the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance....
The UN special rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier de Schutter, while welcoming the progress on Sun, has pointed out how the private sector tries to use technical solutions for what are fundamentally social problems. De Schutter has called on countries committed to scaling up nutrition to begin by regulating the marketing of commercial infant formula and other breast-milk substitutes. He has also noted the tension between a strategy that promotes processed foods, enriched with nutrients to the point that diets become “medicalised”, and one that promotes local and regional food systems, as well as a shift towards less heavily processed and more nutritious food.
A chapter in the report, written by Marcos Arana CedeƱo and Xaviera Cabada, cites the vigorous promotion of soft drinks on school premises in Mexico by companies – endorsed by many school authorities, which provide space for sales and advertising in exchange for school supplies or financial benefits. They note the serious problems in Mexico’s regions with large indigenous populations, where obesity rates are growing faster within the poorest quintile.
“It is precisely in these indigenous regions where the most aggressive and unregulated marketing practices of sweetened soft drinks take place,” the authors write. These practices include a 35% price cut, promotion in Spanish and indigenous languages, and numerous sales outlets within and around schools.
Civil society groups are making themselves heard on the issues surrounding food security and hunger. After years of negotiations involving governments, international organisations and civil society groups under the UN’s Committee on World Food Security. The body officially endorsed the voluntary guidelines on the responsible governance of tenure of land, fisheries and forests in the context of national food security.
The guidelines promote secure tenure rights and equitable access to land, fisheries and forests as a means of eradicating hunger and poverty, supporting sustainable development and enhancing the environment. They contain provisions to protect local communities, indigenous peoples and vulnerable groups from land speculation and land concentration.
“With the reform of the Committee on World Food Security, an innovative way of inclusive governance has been established. It has been a breakthrough for those civil society groups that traditionally have been excluded from decision-making processes on all levels,” said Flavio Valente, secretary general of advocacy group Fian International.


'You Shall Not Pass': Activists Take to the Trees to Stop Tar Sands Pipeline | Common Dreams

'You Shall Not Pass': Activists Take to the Trees to Stop Tar Sands Pipeline | Common Dreams
photo: Tar Sands BlockadeEight people are engaged in a direct action on Monday to thwart the construction of the tar sands-carrying Keystone XL pipeline in Texas.
The activists with Tar Sands Blockade have scaled trees in an attempt to stop TransCanada, the company behind the pipeline, from clear cutting an area near Winnsboro, Texas to make way for the pipeline.
TransCanada crew has begun clear cutting toward the activists, but so far there has not been a confrontation.
“Today I climbed a tree in the path of Keystone XL to demand TransCanada stop construction of this dirty and dangerous pipeline. This pipeline is a disaster for everyone it touches, from the cancer tar sands extraction is causing indigenous communities, to the water poisoned by inevitable tar sands spills, to the landowners whose land has been seized, and to everyone that will be affected by climate change,” said Mary Washington, one of the Tar Sands Blockade members sitting in a tree.


Myths About Industrial Agriculture - Vandana Shiva

Myths About Industrial Agriculture | Common Dreams
Reports trying to create doubts about organic agriculture are suddenly flooding the media. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, people are fed up of the corporate assault of toxics and GMOs. Secondly, people are turning to organic agriculture and organic food as a way to end the toxic war against the earth and our bodies.
At a time when industry has set its eyes on the super profits to be harvested from seed monopolies through patented seeds and seeds engineered with toxic genes and genes for making crops resistant to herbicides, people are seeking food freedom through organic, non-industrial food.
The food revolution is the biggest revolution of our times, and the industry is panicking. So it spins propaganda, hoping that in the footsteps of Goebbels, a lie told a hundred times will become the truth. But food is different.
We are what we eat. We are our own barometers. Our farms and our bodies are our labs, and every farmer and every citizen is a scientist who knows best how bad farming and bad food hurts the land and our health, and how good farming and good food heals the planet and people.
One example of an industrial agriculture myth is found in "The Great Organic Myths" by Rob Johnston, published in the August 8 issue of The Tribune. It tries to argue:
"Organic foods are not healthier or better for the environment - and they're packed with pesticides. In an age of climate change and shortages, these foods are an indulgence the world can't afford."
This article had been published in the Independent and rebutted, but was used by the Tribune without the rebuttal.
Every argument in the article is fraudulent.
The dominant myth of industrial agriculture is that it produces more food and is land-saving. However, the more industrial agriculture spreads, the more hungry people we have. And the more industrial agriculture spreads, the more land is grabbed.

The case against industrial agriculture
Productivity in industrial agriculture is measured in terms of "yield" per acre, not overall output. And the only input taken into account is labor, which is abundant, not natural resources which are scarce.
A resource hungry and resource destructive system of agriculture is not land saving, it is land demanding. That is why industrial agriculture is driving a massive planetary land grab. It is leading to the deforestation of the rainforests in the Amazon for soya and in Indonesia for palm oil. And it is fueling a land grab in Africa, displacing pastoralists and peasants.
According to the FAO International Technical Conference on Plant Genetic Resources in Leipzig (1995), industrial agriculture is responsible for 75 per cent biodiversity erosion, 75 per cent water destruction, 75 per cent land degradation and 40 per cent greenhouse gases. It is too heavy a burden on the planet. And as the 270,000 farmers' suicides since 1997 in India show, it is too heavy a burden on our farmers.
The toxics and poisons used in chemical farming are creating a health burden for our society. Remember Bhopal. Remember the Endosulfan victims in Kerala. And remember Punjab's Cancer train.
Navdanya's forthcoming report "Poisons in our Food" is a synthesis of all studies on the health burden of pesticides which are used in industrial agriculture but not in organic farming.
Industrial agriculture is an inefficient and wasteful system which is chemical intensive, fossil fuel intensive and capital intensive. It destroys nature's capital on the one hand and society’s capital on the other, by displacing small farms and destroying health. According to David Pimentel, professor of ecology and agricultural sciences at Cornell University, it uses 10 units of energy as input to produce one unit of energy as food....

FDNeuroethics: L Book Salon: Mind Wars: Brain Science and the Military in the 21st Century

FDL Book Salon: Mind Wars: Brain Science and the Military in the 21st Century | Book Salon
Sunday, September 23, 2012 2:00 pm Pacific time [ 5 eastern]
(like all FDL book salons, just log in for the discussion)

The first book of its kind, Mind Wars covers the ethical dilemmas and bizarre history of cutting edge technology and neuroscience developed for military applications. As the author discusses the innovative Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the role of the intelligence community and countless university science departments in preparing the military and intelligence services for the twenty-first century, he also charts the future of national security.
Fully updated and revised, this edition features new material on deep brain stimulation, neuro-hormones, and enhanced interrogation. With in-depth discussions of “psyops” mind control experiments, drugs that erase both fear and the need to sleep, microchip brain implants and advanced prosthetics, super-soldiers and robot armies, Mind Wars may read like science fiction or the latest conspiracy thriller, but its subjects are very real and changing the course of modern warfare.
Jonathan D. Moreno has been a senior staff member for three presidential advisory commissions and has served on a number of Pentagon advisory committees. He is an ethics professor at the University of Pennsylvania and the editor-in-chief of the Center for American Progress’ online magazine Science Progress. His UPenn course on Neuroethics is open to the public online via Coursera. (Bellevue Literary Press)


Reclaiming our Democracy Symposium 2012, Mississauga, Nov 24

RODC Symposium 2012
Passed on to us by Carole Berry,  HAT/OHS  member in Mississauga:
On Saturday, November 24, RODC will host a nationally known author, three experts and up to 150 participants in A Day of Dynamic Dialogue focused on the question of the day:
> Is Canada Still a Democracy? Let's Talk.<
The keynote speech by Lawrence Martin, author of Harperland,and the group discussions on key aspects of the theme will lead to a series of positive actions that we can implement to achieve the goal that we have always sought, to reclaim our Canadian democracy

The location for this exciting day is the  Unitarian Congregation Mississauga's Great Hall 
84 South Service Road just east of Hurontario,   
Mississauga, Ontario. Click here for the Map.
The major speeches will be Livestreamed so RODC Supporters across the 
country can participate.
The fee for attendance will be a mere $50 for a full day session including 
Fair Trade coffee and a light lunch. Space is limited: a total of 150. Fee will be $60 after October 24.   Donations and sponsorships are welcome.


U.S. war resister deported from Canada, arrested at border -

U.S. war resister deported from Canada, arrested at border - The Globe and Mail
An American soldier who sought refuge in Canada after becoming disillusioned with the Iraq war has been arrested after turning herself over to the United States. Kimberly Rivera complied with a deportation order and presented herself at the border at Gananoque, Ont., on Thursday.
The War Resisters Support Campaign — which issued multiple warnings that Ms. Rivera would likely face a court martial and jail time on her return — said the mother of four was immediately arrested, detained and transferred to U.S. military custody.
“Kimberly now awaits punishment for refusing to return to Iraq, a conflict which Kimberly and Canada determined was wrong,” the group said in a statement.
Ms. Rivera was being held in Fort Drum, N.Y., some 360 kilometres from Toronto, and was waiting to be transferred to a different military facility where she faces punishment for being absent from her unit, the group said. The 30-year-old’s husband and her children — two of whom were born in Canada — crossed the border separately on Thursday.
“She didn’t want her children to see her arrested by the military,” said spokesman Ken Marciniec.
The parliamentary secretary to Immigration Minister Jason Kenney confirmed the deportation in the House of Commons, drawing a huge cheer from the Conservative benches.
“Our government does not believe that the administration of the president or the president himself in any way, shape, or form, is going to persecute Ms. Rivera,” Rick Dykstra said.

Who creates harmony the world over? Women. Who signs peace deals? Men

Who creates harmony the world over? Women. Who signs peace deals? Men | Global development | The Guardian
Around the world, women make peace in their homes and communities on a daily basis. But when it comes to negotiating and signing peace deals on a national or international level they are almost universally shut out, according to a report that calls for a more balanced approach to resolving conflict.
A 2000 UN security council resolution that called for equal participation for women in "the maintenance and promotion of sustainable peace" has been almost totally ignored, not least by the UN itself, says the report. There have been no female chief mediators in UN-brokered peace talks and fewer than 10% of police officers and 2% of the soldiers sent on UN peacekeeping missions have been women.
Fewer than one in 40 of the signatories of major peace agreements since 1992 have been female, according to the UN development fund for women, Unifem. They played a bit part in settlements in El Salvador, Guatemala, Northern Ireland and Papua New Guinea, but in 17 out of 24 major accords – including Croatia, Bosnia, Sierra Leone, Burundi, Liberia, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo – there was zero female participation in signing agreements.
A report published by the Institute of Development Studies, funded by ActionAid and Womankind Worldwide, argues that this near total absence of women from official peacekeeping is not only a waste of a powerful resource for conflict resolution but also means formal peace deals are seriously flawed, taking a narrow definition of what constitutes enduring peace that mostly ignores the needs of women and girls.
The report, From the Ground Up, surveyed Afghanistan, Liberia, Nepal, Pakistan and Sierra Leone and found that in local settings women took a broader view of peace that included basic rights such as freedom from violence in the home, as well as education and healthcare.
"In contrast, men have a greater tendency to associate peace with the absence of formal conflict and the stability of formal structures such as governance and infrastructure," the report said.
The difference in perception means that in Sierra Leone, for example, which is generally classified as post-conflict, most women did not consider themselves to be living in peace. "This is attributed by respondents to the high rates of poverty and violence against women, including domestic violence, mental abuse and abandonment."
"We're not talking about a big war," said one woman from Afghanistan, "but peace for us also means no domestic violence."
The survey of the five countries found that women and girls had a tendency to form groups and coalitions to deal with problems and got on with resolving conflicts up to the point when the process became formal, when the men took over. The higher and more formal the level of peace-building, the smaller the degree of female participation, the study found.
Shalah Farid, a lecturer at Kabul University said Afghan women were largely excluded from official attempts to find a political settlement.
"In the high-level peace council there are only seven or nine women – they don't have real power and time to engage in a real peace process," she said. "They are just symbolic. People use security as a way of denying women the right to participate. People are saying women cannot keep secrets so we cannot involve them in confidential discussions.


Urgent: Canadian Women’s Rights Under Attack

Urgent: Canadian Women’s Rights Under Attack

In just 48 hours, our MPs will debate a Conservative motion that the Canadian Medical Association, representing 70,000 doctors, is calling a ‘backdoor’ attempt to criminalize abortion.[1,2]

In 1988, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the abortion provision of the Criminal Code was unconstitutional. But this week, Parliament will be debating a motion that would threaten our reproductive rights - and the rights of our friends, daughters, mothers, sisters, and partners.[3,4,5]
Prime Minister Harper has chosen to allow this motion to go forward to a free vote in Parliament, so every MP must decide whether or not they will stand up for the rights that women and our allies have been fighting to protect for decades.
We need a huge public outcry to show our MPs that Canadians will not tolerate this covert attack on women’s rights.
Twenty-four years ago, Supreme Court Justice Wilson stated that governments in a democratic society must never interfere with a woman’s right to choose:
“The decision whether or not to terminate a pregnancy is essentially a moral decision and in a free and democratic society the conscience of the individual must be paramount to that of the state.” – Supreme Court Justice Wilson[3]
The motion seeks to undermine the Supreme Court’s ruling by reopening the debate on the legal definition of a human being under the Criminal Code. High-profile members of Harper’s caucus have stated that the real goal of the motion is to attack women’s rights:
“The ultimate intention of this motion is to restrict abortions at some development stage in Canada.” – Conservative Party whip, Gordon O'Connor[6]
This tactic has been used in the United States in a slow and relentless campaign to criminalize women’s reproductive rights and fan the flames of their culture war. Prime Minister Harper has publicly stated that he does not want to reopen this debate. Yet, while he exerts complete control over his own party, he has still chosen to let this covert attack on women’s rights go to a free vote that will test how Canadians react and open the door to attempts to criminalize abortion.
If enough of us speak out and contact our MPs right now, we can make sure this motion is decisively defeated and send a clear message that Canadians will defend our reproductive rights


Chris Hedges: We Won—for Now - Chris Hedges' Columns

Chris Hedges: We Won—for Now - Chris Hedges' Columns - Truthdig
n January I sued President Barack Obama over Section 1021(b)(2) of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which authorized the military to detain U.S. citizens indefinitely, strip them of due process and hold them in military facilities, including offshore penal colonies. Last week, round one in the battle to strike down the onerous provision, one that saw me joined by six other plaintiffs including Noam Chomsky and Daniel Ellsberg, ended in an unqualified victory for the public. U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest, who accepted every one of our challenges to the law, made her temporary injunction of the section permanent. In short, she declared the law unconstitutional.
Almost immediately after Judge Forrest ruled, the Obama administration challenged the decision. Government prosecutors called the opinion “unprecedented” and said that “the government has compelling arguments that it should be reversed.” The government added that it was an “extraordinary injunction of worldwide scope.” Government lawyers asked late Friday for an immediate stay of Forrest’s ban on the use of the military in domestic policing and on the empowering of the government to strip U.S. citizens of due process. The request for a stay was an attempt by the government to get the judge, pending appeal to a higher court, to grant it the right to continue to use the law. Forrest swiftly rejected the stay, setting in motion a fast-paced appeal to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and possibly, if her ruling is upheld there, to the Supreme Court of the United States. The Justice Department sent a letter to Forrest and the 2nd Circuit late Friday night informing them that at 9 a.m. Monday the Obama administration would ask the 2nd Circuit for an emergency stay that would lift Forrest’s injunction. This would allow Obama to continue to operate with indefinite detention authority until a formal appeal was heard. The government’s decision has triggered a constitutional showdown between the president and the judiciary. 
“This may be the most significant constitutional standoff since the Pentagon Papers case,” said Carl Mayer, co-lead counsel for the plaintiffs.


The Global Food System Casino - Vandana Shiva

The Global Food System Casino | Common Dreams  - by Vandana Shiva
Barclays, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan are all playing on the global food casino.
A 2008 advertisement of Deutsche Bank stated, “Do you enjoy rising prices? Everybody talks about commodities — with the Agriculture Euro Fund you can benefit from the increase in the value of the seven most important agricultural commodities.”
When speculation drives up prices, the rich investors get richer and the poor starve. The financial deregulation that destabilised the world’s financial system is now destabilising the world food system. The price rise is not just a result of supply and demand. It is predominantly a result of speculation.

Between 2003 to 2008, commodity index speculation increased by 1,900 per cent from an estimated $13 billion to $260 billion. Thirty per cent of these index funds are invested in food commodities. As the Agribusiness Accountability Initiative states, “We live in a brave new world of 24-hour electronic trading, triggered by algorithms of composite price indices, fits of investor ‘lack of confidence’ and of unregulated ‘dark pools’ of more than $7 trillion in over the counter commodities derivatives trades.”
The world commodity trading has no relationship to food, to its diversity, to its growers or eaters, to the seasons, to sowing or harvesting. Food diversity is reduced to eight commodities and bundled into “composite price index”...
Josette Sheeran, the executive director of the World Food Programme, related the Egyptian revolution of 2010 to the rise of food prices. “In many protests, demonstrators have brandished loaves of bread or displayed banners expressing anger about the rising cost of food stables such as lentils. When it comes to food, the margins between stability and chaos are perilously thin. Volatility on the markets can translate quickly to volatility on the streets and we all should remain vigilant.”
The growing concern about speculating on food has forced some banks to stop investing in food commodities. Germany’s Commerzbank and Austria’s Volksbanken have both removed agricultural products from their index fund products. Deutsche Bank had earlier done the same. It is time that every government and every financial institution put people’s right to food above the hunger for profits.

Support for War Resister Kim Rivera

Please note urgent action to support Kim Rivera, pickets tomorrow at 4 and 4:30 pm, demo on the 19th and write or phone Jason Kenney.  Details below.
UPCOMING PEACE EVENTS – STARTING TODAY! (Details below listing of dates)
STARTING NOW (up to and including SEP 29th)  – Petition: Let Kim Rivera & family stay in Canada, online at:
SEPTEMBER 14TH – Vigil for Kim Rivera – 4 different locations in Toronto starting at 4 pm at Nathan Phillips Square, with Voice of Women, and at 4:30 pm at Carrot Common, Trinity St. Paul’s, and in Parkdale.  Details at
SEPTEMBER 19TH – Peaceful Demonstration – Let Kim Rivera & family stay in Canada, 4:30 pm – 6:30 pm, Federal Court Building, 180 Queen St W, Toronto, ON


IPS – Kenya’s Water Wars -

IPS – Kenya’s Water Wars Kill Scores | Inter Press Service
[of course the history of religion is also the history of clan warfare between pastoralists, farmers, and urban dwellers - thus dietary laws and other clan markers...]
“These are nomadic pastoralists who depend on livestock for survival. They rustle livestock and fight over water and the few grazing fields,” he said.
Water scarcity is fuelling deadly inter-ethnic wars that continue to claim lives in Kenya, according to government officials. And if nothing is done to educate communities on how to conserve the valuable resource, the situation will escalate, governance experts and environmentalists warn.
On Sunday, Sep. 9, 38 people were killed in revenge attacks in the Tana River Delta district of Kenya’s Coast province. The deceased include eight children, five women, 16 men, and nine police officers.
The incident occurred as the government announced it would conduct a disarmament exercise in the Tana River Delta following clashes over water and pasture that have left more than 80 people dead.
Coast province police boss Aggrey Adoli told IPS that about 500 raiders from the Pokomo ethnic group attacked the Kilelengwani village, in Tana River Delta, and torched a police camp and several other structures at dawn. On Monday, Sep. 10 the area was inaccessible and police officers were flown in by helicopter to quell the violence.
“This was in retaliation to Thursday’s incident in which 13 Pokomos were killed when raiders from the Orma (ethnic group) struck the Tarassa village in the area,” Adoli said.
The attacks are in retaliation to an Aug. 22 incident over water and resources that resulted in the death of 52 people, including 11 children and 31 women. The attack occurred after cattle owned by the Orma ethnic group strayed onto farmlands belonging to the neighbouring Pokomo community and destroyed their crops. Both communities have a long history of conflict over resources.

Political leaders, human rights activists and environmentalists are calling on the government to address the problem urgently.Mwalimu Mati, the chief executive of Mars Group, an NGO that deals with governance, told IPS that the government must provide equitable resources to end the clashes.
Resource conflict will be with us for a long (time) because the government policies that promote timber harvesting have resulted in deforestation,” said Mati, who is also a lawyer. Scanty forest cover has resulted in the reduced rainfall here, according to water experts.
Peter Mangich, the director of water services at the Ministry of Water and Irrigation, told IPS that due to the effects of climate change, the country now only received one quarter of its previous rainfall....
Conflict will not only be in dry areas. Climate change is real and even countries that share the River Nile are quarrelling over it. Let the government adopt other means to solve this problem,” he said.
Mati explained the need for water had resulted in Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, South Sudan and Sudan calling for the revocation of a 1959 treaty, brokered by the United Kingdom, that gave Egypt, and to a lesser extent Sudan, historical rights to the river’s resources....

“Since last year, we have partnered with NGOs like World Vision to sink boreholes in the affected areas so that residents can have enough water for their livestock and domestic use. We also encourage them to use the water to grow vegetables and maize to complement livestock keeping,” he said.
But Mati said that nomadic pastoralists should be encouraged to engage in other economic activities that are more vialable and suggested that the government encourage urbanisation.
“This will allow many people to live in towns that have social amenities and to farm on land as a group, not as individuals,” he said.


US Veterans For Peace Support Conscientious Objection to Drones

Veterans For Peace Supports Conscientious Objection to Drones | War Is A Crime .org
Two conscientious nonviolent activists, Brian Terrell and Ron Faust, were convicted on Monday of trespassing, for having attempted to deliver a document listing concerns about drones to the commander of Whiteman Air Force Base near Jefferson City, Mo., last April. A third protester, Mark Kenney of Omaha, Neb., is serving a four-month sentence after having pled guilty in June to trespassing.

Veterans For Peace members were among those participating in a demonstration last April, and again on Monday, in support of Faust and Terrell, who will be sentenced in the coming weeks.  Veterans For Peace applauds nonviolent resistance to the illegal and immoral use of drones, and stands in solidarity with those taking these risks to serve their country and the world.

Former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark was not permitted by the court to testify on the illegality of drone killings.  VFP member and retired colonel Ann Wright was permitted to testify, and said afterwards, "The most dangerous trespass is of heavily weaponized assassin drones from the United States into Pakistani, Yemeni and Somali sovereign land, not of three unarmed civilians giving notice to bring a letter filled with words onto heavily protected federal property asking for drone strikes to end."

Judge Magistrate Matt J. Whitworth's ruling disagreed.

"We were there not to commit a crime, but to prevent one," Terrell said [in court], describing seeing in person a 9-year-old girl in an Afghani refugee camp missing an arm from what he said was a wayward drone strike. . . . Faust compared drone strikes to 'premeditated murder' that cheapen the value of human life by allowing shooters to be as detached from their targets as video game players."


Stock letter asks school to warn when sensitive subjects arise -

Stock letter asks school to warn when sensitive subjects arise -

Published on Monday September 10, 2012

BERNARD WEIL/TORONTO STAR Steve Tourloukis talks to the media at Queen's Park to announce legal proceedings he is taking against the Hamilton Wentworth Board of Education, seeking a court order that he be given advance notice of any material, class or session that conflicts with his religious beliefs, and is asking the board to respect his religious beliefs on issues such as marriage, family and sexuality.
Louise Brown
Education Reporter
A number of conservative Christian and Muslim parents — unusual political bedfellows — suddenly are asking schools across the GTA to notify them when their child’s class will discuss topics ranging from homosexuality and birth control to wizardry, evolution and “environmental worship,” so they can withhold their child from classes that contradict their religious beliefs.
They are giving schools the same five-page “Traditional Values Letter” used by a Greek Orthodox father who has sued the Hamilton school board for refusing to warn him when his children’s teachers plan to talk about family, marriage or human sexuality. Hamilton dentist Dr. Steve Tourloukis said Monday he only wants those issues taught to his Grade 1 daughter and Grade 4 son “from a Christian perspective.”...
“I’m not an extremist, but I must ensure that my children abstain from certain activities that may include lessons which promote views contrary to our faith,” said Tourloukis, who is supported by a group called the Parental Rights in Education Defense Fund. “We know other denominations like Jehovah’s Witnesses and Muslims are excused for certain activities. Does our being Christian disqualify us from equitable treatment?”
As well as being notified about lessons on sex education, sexual orientation and evolution, the form letter, available on some Christian and Muslim parent websites, also lets parents ask for a warning if a teacher plans to “place environmental concerns above the value of our Muslim (or Christian) principles and human life.”
“We do agree with many of the goals of conservation, however these principles are often presented from a humanistic world view (for the benefit of man) or a naturalistic world view (deifying the earth) which is in conflict with our teachings,” notes the letter. “Conservation would be more successful for our children if connected to their understanding of being respectful of their Creator’s creation.”


Miracle-Gro to pay big fine for fake pesticides, poison bird feed

Miracle-Gro to pay big fine for fake pesticides, poison bird feed | The Raw Story
Lawn and garden products company Scotts Miracle-Gro will pay $12.5 million in fines for poisoning bird feed and violating pesticide laws, officials said Friday.
Scotts will pay record criminal and civilian penalties for a litany of pesticide violations, including “illegally applying insecticides to its wild bird food products that are toxic to birds,” the Justice Department said in a statement.
The company pleaded guilty in February to that violation as well as falsifying pesticide registration documents, distributing pesticides with misleading and unapproved labels and distributing unregistered pesticides.
A Columbus, Ohio, federal court on Friday sentenced Scotts to pay a $4 million fine and perform community service for 11 criminal violations of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA).
In a separate agreement with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which resolves additional civil pesticide violations, Scotts agreed to pay more than $6 million in penalties and spend $2 million on environmental projects.

Humanist Association of Toronto (HAT): An afternoon with Heather Mallick, Sat. Sept 15, 1:30pm

Humanist Association of Toronto (HAT): An afternoon with Heather Mallick, Sat. Sept 15, 1:30pm
Reminder! Next Saturday, Free admission, bring a friend  :-) The Humanist Association of Toronto (HAT) invites you to a a conversation with Heather Mallick. Toronto Star columnist, author and lecturer.  As a controversial, thought-provoking, staunch defender of human rights, HAT has named Heather Mallick Humanist of the Year for 2011 in honour of her outspoken expression of humanistic values. 

Peace and Conflict lectures, 2012, Univ of Toronto

Vital Discussions of Human Security and Peace
Lecture Series for 2012-13 academic year. Co-Sponsored by University College Health Studies Programme, Canadian Pugwash Group, Science for Peace, and Voice of Women for Peace.

Thursdays, 7-9 pm, usually in Rm. 144, University College,
15 Kings College Circle, U.of Toronto. All welcome. No charge.

13-Sept. Walter Dorn, Chair, Canadian Pugwash Group (room 052)
Wars Waged by the USA and Canada: Just, Unjust and Everthing In Between

20-Sept. Ellen Michelson, recent Green Party candidate (room 052)
Fixing Canada's Electoral System: Four Fallacies

27-Sept. Danny Harvey, Professor of Geography, University of Toronto.
Global Warming and Human Security: Food and Water

4-Oct. Barry Wellman, Professor of Sociology, University of Toronto,
Networked individualism

11-Oct. Helmut Burkhardt, Professor of Physics Emeritus, Ryerson University.
Security for All: But How and at What Price?

18-Oct. Timothy Donais, Associate Professor, Wilfrid Laurier University.
Peacebuilding and Local Ownership

25-Oct. Pia Kleber, Prof. of Drama, Comparative Literature, U of Toronto.
A Cultural Approach to Human Security

1-Nov. John Hannigan, Professor of Sociology, University of Toronto.
Disasters Without Borders: The International Politics of Natural Disaster

8-Nov. Doug Saunders, Journalist with The Globe and Mail.
The Myth of the Muslim Tide

15-Nov. Ron Craig, Prof of Communication & Design, Ryerson University.
New Strategies for Dealing with Global Problems

22-Nov. Lloyd Helferty, Engineering Technologist, Biochar Consultant.
Biochar and Food Security: Dealing with the Droughts

29-Nov. Peter Bessau, International Affairs, Natural Resources Canada.
International Model Forest Network: Canada's Contribution to Forest Sustainability Since Rio

10-Jan. Aysan Sev'er, Professor Emerita of Sociology, U. of Toronto.
Honour-Killings: Women's Safety in Honour-based Cultures

17-Jan. John Bacher, Preservation of Agricultural Land, Ontario.
Toward a Billion More Trees in Ontario

24-Jan. Duff Conacher, Coordinator of Your Canada, Your Constitution, Founder of Democracy Watch, Director of in Toronto.
What Makes Up an Actual, Working Democracy?

31-Jan. Shawn-Patrick Stensil, Staff of Greenpeace in Toronto.
Lessons from Fukushima: Implications for Nuclear Safety International

7-Feb. Valerie Zawilski, Associate Prof. of Sociology, Western University.
The Sexual Slave Trade in Kosovo

14-Feb. Seva Gunitsky, Asst. Professor of Political Science, U of Toronto.
Competing Visions of Democracy in the Post-Soviet Space

28-Feb. J.C. Luxat, Professor of Nuclear Safety, McMaster U, and Richard Denton, M.D. President, Physicians for Global Survival.
The Nuclear Safety Issue

7-Mar. Gordon Edwards, Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility.
Can We Be Free of Nuclear Weapons and Still Have Nuclear Power?

14-Mar. Peter Victor, Professor of Environmental Studies, York University.
Managing Without Growth: Slower by Design, Not Disaster

21-Mar. Harriet Friedmann, Professor of Geography, U. of Toronto.
From "Feeding the World" to Sustainable Farming

28-Mar. Jack Veugelers, Professor of Sociology, U. of Toronto.
The Far Right in France

4-Apr. Leo Panitch, Professor of Political Science, York University.
The Making of Global Capitalism: The Canadian Model.


IPS – Forcing South Sudan’s Idle Youth into Farming

IPS – Forcing South Sudan’s Idle Youth into Farming | Inter Press Service
Police in South Sudan have begun press-ganging every “idle” youth they can find to provide labour on police farms. The State Police Commissioner in Northern Bahr al Gazal state says young men cannot be left to drink tea and play cards all day while food insecurity threatens the country.
“Anyone who does not want to cultivate will be captured and brought to plant for us. Whether you are a soldier, or a policeman, or a member of the prison service … if you choose to put on your best clothes to come and loiter in town, we shall take you to work for us. Whether you want it or not,” State Police Commissioner Akot Deng Akot told IPS.
A staggering 4.7 million South Sudanese – almost half the population – are food insecure, according to the United Nations.
“One million of these people are severely food insecure meaning they can only afford to eat one meal once in two or three days, while the other 3.7 million people are moderately food insecure meaning they can at least afford to eat a meal per day,” the U.N.’s Humanitarian Coordinator in South Sudan, Lise Grande, told IPS in an earlier interview.
The countrywide food insecurity is being blamed on a number of factors, including a cereal deficit. According to the U.N. the deficit doubled from 200,000 metric tonnes in 2011 to 470,000 this year. In addition, high fuel prices and a weakening local currency have contributed to the situation.
Central Equatoria state’s Agriculture Minister Michael Roberto Kenyi told IPS that the policy of giving civil servants days off was making a difference and that civil servants had to lead by example.
“Leadership in the past used to be that you should have a house, a garden and a granary. A leader must have these things to be considered a leader. As a civil servant, you need to be exemplary to the community and you cannot be exemplary when your granary is empty,” ..He said that an assessment would be done by the state after the December harvest.


PETITION: Support villagers opposing raised water levels by two dams

PETITION: Support villagers opposing raised water levels by two dams
FirstPost.India reports, “Over 130 villagers in Madhya Pradesh have been protesting in neck-deep water for the past week to seek compensation from the government over the construction of a dam. Thirty four residents of Gogalgaon village in Khandwa district have been standing submerged in water for the past 4 days. The villagers are demanding compensation for their land which was submerged after the height of the Omkareshwar dam was raised. The Supreme Court had earlier said the villagers should be compensated adequately and rehabilitated, which the protestors claim has not been done. …There were similar protests in Khardna in Harda district where 90 villagers affected by the Indira Sagar project are seeking compensation for losing their lands.”

The Council of Canadians and Blue Planet Project have signed a petition that states, “We have learnt with deep shock that the water level in Omkareshwar and Indira Sagar dams in the Narmada Valley have been illegally raised causing submergence of numerous lands and houses of oustees of these dams. …We have also learned that many oustees have been standing in Omkareshwar dam water and also in Indira Sagar dam, demanding reduction in water level and rehabilitation before submergence. It is extremely disturbing that the oustees have to embark on Jal Satygraha to get their due rehabilitation rights. We, therefore request you to immediately order reduction in water level in Omkareshwar dam to 189 meters and in Indira Sagar Dam to 260 meters and rehabilitate all the oustees by giving agricultural land and other rehabilitation entitlements.”
To sign this petition, which will be delivered to the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, please go to


Credit Where It's Due: Obama & Israel Edition

Credit Where It's Due: Obama & Israel Edition
Stunned by a rebuke from the United States' top general, Israel is preparing a climbdown strategy in its war of words over Iran's nuclear programme, aware that its room for manoeuvre is shrinking rapidly.
...In a move that dismayed Israeli ministers, U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, told reporters in Britain last week that the United States did not want to be "complicit" in an Israeli attack on Iran.
He also warned that go-it-alone military action risked unraveling an international coalition that has applied progressively stiff sanctions on Iran, which insists that its ambitious nuclear project is purely peaceful.
Dempsey's stark comments made clear to the world that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was isolated and that if he opted for war, he would jeopardise all-important ties with the Jewish state's closest ally.
"Israeli leaders cannot do anything in the face of a very explicit 'no' from the U.S. president. So they are exploring what space they have left to operate," said Giora Eiland, who served as national security adviser from 2003 to 2006.
"Dempsey's announcement changed something. Before, Netanyahu said the United States might not like (an attack), but they will accept it the day after. However, such a public, bold statement meant the situation had to be reassessed."