Humanists for Social Justice and Environmental Action supports Human Rights, Social and Economic Justice, Environmental Activism and Planetary Ethics in North America & Globally, with particular reference to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other Human Rights UN treaties and conventions listed above.


Scientists Have Finally Found a Biological Process Behind Schizophrenia

Scientists Have Finally Found a Biological Process Behind Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a complex disease with elusive origins, but the mystery became much clearer today, when a landmark new study based on genetic analysis of nearly 65,000 individuals pinpointed a specific gene and biological process behind it. The discovery injects new hope into the century-old quest to treat— and perhaps even cure—the debilitating psychiatric disorder. Roughly one percent of the population suffers from schizophrenia, a disease characterized by hallucinations, emotional withdrawal, and a declining cognitive function, beginning in adolescence or early adulthood. Despite decades of research, we’ve made very little progress treating schizophrenia, in part, because it’s been so difficult to nail down the cause

“Since schizophrenia was first described over a century ago, its underlying biology has been a black box, in part because it has been virtually impossible to model the disorder in cells or animals” said Steven McCarroll, director of genetics at Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research. “The human genome is providing a powerful new way in to this disease.”

“Because the molecular origins of psychiatric diseases are little-understood, efforts by pharmaceutical companies to pursue new therapeutics are few and far between,” said Bruce Cuthbert, acting director of the National Institute of Mental Health “This study changes the game.”

Let's hope that publicly funded research stays ahead of Big Pharma - 


Latest Urgent Actions | Amnesty International Canada

 Just a reminder that you can sign up for "Urgent Action Network" to write for rights not just on Dec 10, but as the need arises.
Latest Urgent Actions | Amnesty International Canada

When an individual is in immediate danger of a human rights violation, Amnesty International mobilizes a dedicated group of letter-writers to take action quickly to protect them. Please take action as soon as possible on the cases listed on this page.

Risky pesticides left on market too long, environment watchdog says

Risky pesticides left on market too long, environment watchdog says - Politics - CBC News

Gelfand's audit found the pest agency took an average of five years, and up to 11 years, to get dangerous pesticides off store shelves — and that the stalling mechanisms are built right into the law.

The federal Pest Management Regulatory Agency is taking years to remove confirmed pesticide risks from the marketplace while failing to evaluate many other products, according to a new audit.
The latest annual report from the environment commissioner's office, tabled Tuesday in Parliament, also found that conditionally registered pesticides, fungicides and herbicides which have not been properly vetted have in some cases been in use for more than a decade.
The Liberal government moved last week to stop the practice of conditionally registering the products, effective this June, but commissioner Julie Gelfand's report indicates problems in the system run much deeper.
"We've recommended to the agency that once they've decided that a pesticide has unacceptable risks for all uses, that it should remove them from the market as soon as possible," the commissioner told a news conference.
"And that if they can't remove it right away, they should give more information to the public."

Cobalt mined with child labour used by Apple, Samsung, Sony & others, Amnesty International says - Business - CBC News

Cobalt mined with child labour used by Apple, Samsung, Sony & others, Amnesty International says - Business - CBC News

Children told Amnesty International they worked for up to 12 hours a day in the mines, carrying heavy loads to earn between $1 and $2 US  day. In 2014, approximately 40,000 children worked in mines across southern DRC, many of them mining cobalt, according to UNICEF.

In a report, the group documents how traders buy cobalt from areas where child labour is rife and sell it to a company called Congo Dongfang Mining (CDM), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Chinese mineral giant Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt Ltd (Huayou Cobalt). According to filings, Huayou Cobalt sold more than $235 million worth of cobalt in 2013.

Huayou and its subsidiaries then process the metals before selling them to battery component makers, who in turn sell them on to a half dozen battery-making firms who "claim to supply technology and car companies" such as the ones listed above, Amnesty said.

Amnesty said it contacted all the companies that came up in its research, and "none provided enough details to independently verify where the cobalt in their products came from," although most offered at least qualified denials.

"The glamorous shop displays and marketing of state of the art technologies are a stark contrast to the children carrying bags of rocks, and miners in narrow manmade tunnels risking permanent lung damage," Amnesty researcher Mark Dummett said.

"Millions of people enjoy the benefits of new technologies but rarely ask how they are made. It is high time the big brands took some responsibility for the mining of the raw materials that make their lucrative products."


Turkey Detains Academics as Chomsky Takes Aim at Erdoğan's Brutality

Turkey Detains Academics as Chomsky Takes Aim at Erdoğan's Brutality, Hypocrisy | Common Dreams | Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community

Global outcry over academic freedom and human rights has erupted following news on Friday that the Turkish government of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has arrested at least 18 academics and scholars for signing an open letter last week calling for the end of Turkey's brutal treatment of the country's Kurdish people.

The controversy has been elevated internationally by the involvement of Noam Chomsky and other
high-profile academics who have also expressed public contempt for Turkey's policies towards the Kurds as well as Erdoğan's double-standards on fighting "terrorism" both inside his own country and
in neighboring Syria.
Police have detained at least 12 academics over alleged “terror propaganda” after they signed a petition together with more than 1,400 others calling for an end to Turkey’s “deliberate massacre and deportation of Kurdish people”.

In a crackdown, condemned by the US ambassador as “chilling”, police are also still processing the paperwork of nine other academics who also face arrest.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has severely criticised the signatories, including political scientist Noam Chomsky and the Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek, and called on the judiciary to act against their alleged treachery.

Prosecutors launched an investigation into the academics over possible charges of insulting the state and engaging in terrorist propaganda.

Staff from 90 Turkish universities calling themselves “Academicians for Peace” signed the
petition last week calling for an end to the military campaign against the Kurds and accusing the government of breaching international law.
Offering further details, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported that 15 academics from Kocaeli University in northwestern Turkey and three from Uludag University in the neighboring province of Bursa were among those detained for questioning. Chief Prosecutor Mustafa Kucuk accused the group of spreading terrorist propaganda and "insulting the moral integrity of the state." Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu implied the academics had chosen to "align" themselves with terrorists.

On Friday, students protested the arrests under the banner "don't touch my teacher."


Arrest of human rights defender Samar Badawi latest attempt to intimidate activists | Amnesty International Canada

Saudi Arabia: Arrest of human rights defender Samar Badawi latest attempt to intimidate activists | Amnesty International Canada

According to local activists, Samar Badawi was arrested in the morning on 12 January in Jeddah and transferred along with her two-year-old daughter Joud to a police station. After four hours of questioning, she was transferred to Dhaban prison and is due to appear before a prosecutor tomorrow. She is believed to have been arrested at least partly in connection with her alleged role in managing a Twitter account campaigning for the release of her former husband, the imprisoned human rights lawyer Waleed Abu al-Khair.