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.


Isn't a Humanist Military Chaplain an Oxymoron? |

Isn't a Humanist Military Chaplain an Oxymoron? | Tom Carpenter
Must a military chaplain believe in God? We shall soon find out the answer to that question and it will inform us if the Chaplain Corps truly understands what the Constitution and the Supreme Court say about religious liberty.
The Navy recently received an application by a highly qualified chaplain candidate who is endorsed by the Humanist Society. The candidate, Jason Heap, holds Masters Degrees from Brite Divinity School and the University of Oxford and is well on his way to a Ph.D. He wants to be a Navy chaplain, but doesn't believe in God.
That should not be a problem because the precedent was set in 2004 when the Armed Forces Chaplains Board (AFCB) approved a Buddhist chaplain and like Humanists, most Buddhist do not profess a traditional belief in divinity. And, of course, Unitarian Universalists who have had chaplains for almost 20 years, also have some members who do not have a traditional belief in God.
There are religious and Christian organizations that support the free exercise of religious liberty within the military. On July 31, 2013, the Forum on the Military Chaplaincy published its position on this issue saying in part:
We strongly support the recruitment and retention of highly qualified, clinically trained chaplains who are representative of and committed to a chaplaincy reflecting a broad and inclusive range of interfaith, multicultural and diverse life experiences. This inclusive outreach extends to chaplains representing the gay, lesbian and bisexual communities of faith, and to those of minority beliefs, including Humanists and other nontheists. They, too, are valued members of our country's military and must be embraced fully. Our soldiers, sailors, Marines, airmen, and coastguardsmen deserve nothing less!
Professor Rita Nakashima Brock, Director of the Soul Repair Center at Brite Divinity School, makes a strong case that the military should not preclude Humanist Chaplains but welcome them with open arms:
In our military today, more members identify as atheists or agnostics than the combined total of Muslims, Buddhists, and Hindus, but these latter groups now have their own chaplains. My friend and colleague Chaplain (Col.) Herman Keizer, Jr. (ret.) spent 34 years as a chaplain, and he advocates unequivocally for expanding the chaplaincy to meet the religious needs of an increasingly diverse military. He had the honor of swearing in the Army's first Muslim chaplain, who stood in a long line of firsts, first Roman Catholic, first Rabbi, first Hindu, etc., all of whom faced resistance. It is time for an atheist first -- over a quarter of a million in military service say they have "no religious preference," a self-identification that is growing in those under age 30.
While the approval of Jason Heap's application should be a virtual "shoo-in," opposition abounds from those who are adamantly against an expanded policy of inclusion. This is appalling, as Heap's endorsement would be a strong recognition and affirmation of thousands of service members for whom military chaplains are duty bound to provide care. Retired Army Reserve Chaplain Ron Crews. who leads an alliance of conservative denominational endorsers, justifies this highly exclusionary practice by citing a legendary maxim for the existence of military chaplains, "To bring God to soldiers, and to bring soldiers to God." While he is certainly welcome to embrace this beloved maxim, as chaplains have done for years, it is hardly grounds for discrimination and exclusion. It would have been far more appropriate for Chaplain Crews and his Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty (CARL) to have championed the non-negotiable core values of the United States Army Chaplaincy, "Nurture the Living, Care for the Wounded, and Honor the Fallen."
Crews is not alone in his beliefs and position and is joined by a coalition of other ultra-conservative Christian organizations who are determined to keep the Christian privilege that presently exists in the military.
The world continues to evolve, as does the religious demographics of this country. Those who cling to the past will be relegated to the dustbin of history. The denial of a humanist wedding at the United States Naval Academy Main Chapel in Annapolis, and the continuing silence of the Navy in response to the application of Jason Heap, suggests the Chaplain Corps may not see the danger these actions pose to the future and very existence of the military chaplaincy.

Tibetan Protestors, Destructive Mining, and Government Crackdown

Tibetan Protestors, Destructive Mining, and Government Crackdown
Over a hundred Tibetan protestors were injured during a government crackdown on a peaceful protest against mining in the Yulshul County, Kham region of eastern Tibet earlier this week. Eight Tibetans were detained, with six later being released, and one man committing suicide.
Two other Tibetan protest leaders—Ketsa  Sodor from Atod and Gyaltsen from Dzachen—have now “disappeared,” according to a source of Radio Free Asia. “They were both threatened with detention, and later they disappeared. Both of them were the heads of nomadic villages.”
Concerned that the mining activities have not been approved by the Central Government, as well as their impact in causing environmental problems, including pollution, over 1,000 Tibetans gathered to protest against the mining activities in each of the three sacred Buddhist sites. The local Tibetans protest that the mining workers increase environmental destruction in the county, that they have not followed China’s environmental protection laws and are carried out by the workers in coordination with corrupt state and local officials. Protesters raised their hands and shouted slogans such as “stop the destruction of the environment”.
The massive crackdown followed a tense confrontation between local Tibetan protestors and Chinese mine workers at three sacred Buddhist sites having diamond reserves . Tibetan residents of the area have long regarded the mountains targeted for mining as the homes of protective deities. On Friday, Chinese security forces stormed two of the three mining sites in the mountainous area where demonstrators had been in a standoff with Chinese mine workers since early in the week. Over 500 armed police stormed holy sites in Atod Yultso and Zachen Yultso and fired teargas to disperse the protestors. The protestors were tortured, severely beaten with gun butts, and threatened with being shot if they don’t end their protests.
China’s large-scale exploitation of mineral resources in Tibet has led to sustained socio-economic and environmental problems. Massive influx of Chinese migrant workers into Tibetan areas deprives Tibetans of employment opportunities,” said the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) based in Dharamsala-India after the incident.


Avaaz - Stop the Anti-Women Gag Rule/ Afghanistan

Avaaz - Stop the Anti-Women Gag Rule
Sold into marriage at 12, Sahar Gul lived in a house of horrors. Her in-laws chained her in the basement, beat her with red hot iron pipes, starved her and pulled out all her fingernails when she refused to prostitute herself for them.

Her attackers’ sentence was reduced to a meager one year, and now they’re free again! Worse still, the Lower House of Parliament just passed a bill that would ban aggressors’ family members from testifying in court. This would prevent countless children and women from ever getting justice.

The Upper House has beaten back anti-women legislation before and high-level officials say the Avaaz community could tip the balance and help stop the bill before it goes to a vote. But to do that, we need to act fast. Click to sign this urgent petition now -- when we reach 1 million signers we’ll launch a massive local media campaign targeting key senators until the bill is dumped.


Interior Department says Keystone XL pipeline impact report is inaccurate | The Raw Story

Interior Department says Keystone XL pipeline impact report is inaccurate | The Raw Story
The US Department of the Interior has criticised as “inaccurate” the State Department’s draft conclusions that the impact of the Keystone XL pipeline on wildlife would be temporary, and has warned instead that it could have long-term, adversarial effects.
It is the second major government body to publicly criticise State’s draft environmental impact statement (DEIS), a much contested document which examines the pipeline’s potential impact on the natural environment, endangered species, communities and the economy. The DEIS, published in March, concluded that the project would only have a temporary and indirect impact on wildlife.
A 12-page letter, dated 29 April by the Interior Department’s Office of Environmental Protection and Compliance and posted on the department’s website on 15 August, warned that some effects of the pipeline on wildlife may be permanent.
In the letter, the Department of the Interior repeatedly takes issue with the conclusions of its fellow agency that any impact on wildlife would be short-lived and occur only during construction. The Keystone pipeline, which will transport oil-sands bitumen from Canada across thousands of miles to Nebraska, requires a presidential permit from the State Department, because it crosses the US border.
The Interior letter lists several potential permanent threats to wildlife, including “loss of habitat, habitat fragmentation, species displacement, barrier effect, etc”, and says that the DEIS’s conclusion that “permanent impacts are not expected” in terms of wildlife is not accurate.
One of 100,000 public comments received on the DEIS “at the same time”, according to the State Department, the letter states:
“Given that the project includes not only constructing a pipeline but also related infrastructure, access roads, and power lines and substations, impacts to wildlife are not just related to project construction. Impacts to wildlife from this infrastructure will occur throughout the life of the project (ie: operation and maintenance phases).”
It also states that while the potential impact to fish and aquatic invertebrates have been included in the DEIS, “there there is no acknowledgement of the potential impacts to wildlife in the event of spills or leaks”.


Wisconsin Democrat who infiltrated ALEC: ‘They don’t want people involved in the political process’ | The Raw Story

Wisconsin Democrat who infiltrated ALEC: ‘They don’t want people involved in the political process’ | The Raw Story

really really scary....


French president promises to keep ban on Monsanto GMO corn despite court ruling | The Raw Story

French president promises to keep ban on Monsanto GMO corn despite court ruling | The Raw Story
French President Francois Hollande said Friday that a ban on growing GM corn sold by US giant Monsanto would remain in place, despite a court ruling reversing the suspension.
“The moratorium will be extended,” he said on a visit to the southwestern department of Dordogne.
France’s Council of State court ruled Thursday that the French moratorium imposed on growing MON810 corn since March 2012 failed to uphold European Union law.
Under EU rules, such a ban “can only be taken by a member state in case of an emergency or if a situation poses a major risk” to people, animals or the environment, it said.
But Hollande said the ban on GM crops was in place “not because we refuse progress, but in the name of progress.”
“We cannot accept that a product — corn — have bad consequences on other produce,” he added, stressing that it would however be necessary to “secure this decision legally, at a national level and especially at a European level.”
MON810 includes an inserted gene that makes the corn plant exude a natural toxin that is poisonous to insect pests. This offers a potential financial gain for farmers, as they do not have to use chemical pesticides.
Green groups say that GM crops are potentially dangerous and should be outlawed as a precaution.
Greenpeace says MON810 encourages the emergence of pesticide-resistant insects, and has questioned whether the toxin affects bees, which are rapidly declining in Europe.


Canadian mining company may be held liable for human rights abuses committed abroad by its foreign subsidiaries |

Canadian mining company may be held liable for human rights abuses committed abroad by its foreign subsidiaries |
On July 22, 2013, Justice Brown of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice released her decision on whether or not related lawsuits against three mining companies, Hudbay Minerals Inc. ("Hudbay"), HMI Nickel Inc. ("HMI") and Compañía Guatemalteca de Níquel S.A. ("CGN"), would be permitted to proceed (the "Hudbay Actions"). The defendants brought preliminary motions in March of this year to strike each of the claims on the basis that they disclosed no reasonable cause of action. As discussed below, Justice Brown quite rightly dismissed all three of the defendants' motions. This is a groundbreaking decision because it will result in the first time that an action is litigated in Canada on the question of whether a Canadian parent company (i.e. Hudbay) can be held liable for the actions of its subsidiaries abroad (i.e. CGN and HMI) and, moreover, it recognizes that such a finding is in fact possible.
Over the past five years, Canadian mining companies have increasingly been thrust into the spotlight for their conduct overseas, including directing or permitting the following types of activities to occur: forcible evictions of indigenous communities from disputed land, contamination of water supply, assassination/disappearance of anti‑mining activists, and rape of local women by private security forces. In the absence of specific legislation in Canada to hold companies to required standards of conduct and weak appetite to pursue crimes committed by prosecutors in host countries such as Guatemala or the Democratic Republic of Congo, there has been little means for victims of these abuses to seek redress.