Welcome to the April 29, 2013 edition of this Peace&Justice action email!
This issue provides two actions related to Darfur as well as one related to media distortion and an action concerning life patents and the giant multinational Monsanto. I have decided to have a separate email for the Mental Health issue, which should be sent in two weeks.
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DARFUR: TELL U.S. TO SELECT NEW SUDAN ENVOY
The overall situation in Darfur has not changed significantly. While a recent Doha Conference resulted in over $3 billion pledged for Darfur reconstruction, it is partly a charade given Sudan itself pledged over $2 billion while bombing Darfur citizens. Apart from that, little can be done until peace and stability exists, something that is no closer. On the broader scene the Nuba region of Sudan continues to be bombarded and starved. And within the last couple of days a new rebel offensive has started in a previously relatively untouched area of Northern Kordofan, and also closer to Khartoum. For more details see Darfur Current Status (UntilAll).
There are two actions in this newsletter. The first one calls on the U.S. to fill the position of Special Envoy for Sudan which has been vacant since the end of 2012. As noted in a background article, some groups are critical of the rumored front runner, on the basis that his policies are likely to resemble too closely perceived past failed policies. While the eventual solution for Sudan must be a political solution embraced by all of Sudan’s stakeholders, and while some feel U.S. involvement primarily skews results in U.S. favour, the stance of this newsletter is that a Special Envoy under Sudan’s current dynamics is a better option than not having one, at least if the second action below (Sudan Peace and Accountability Act), becomes more clearly some of the guiding principles (this newsletter and the above link have previously outlined some of the complexities and conflicting U.S. priorities).
Tell Obama to Fill Position for Special Envoy to Sudan (open to all):
DARFUR / SUDAN: TELL CONGRESS MEMBER TO SUPPORT SUDAN PEACE ACT
The second Darfur / Sudan action involves U.S. citizens, who can tell their members of Congress to support the Sudan Peace, Security and Accountability Act, introduced with bipartisan support.
Take action (U.S citizens only):
TELL FOX NEWS HATEFUL MESSAGES MUST BE DEALT WITH
The Boston Marathon bombings were a terrible tragedy. And while it did bring out wonderful acts of courage and humanity, it also brought out a repulsive act. Fox News commentator Erik Rush tweeted the words “Yes, they’re evil. Let’s kill them all.” In his tweet, “them” referred to Muslims, and it was tweeted to his nearly 40,000 followers. If you find this going well beyond the line of any journalist licence, then please consider taking the following action:
Tell FOX News to Drop Erik Rush: (You can edit the message depending on your TV habits):
TELL E.U. COUNTRIES TO STAND UP TO MONSANTO
One of the disturbing but largely hidden trends being tested over the last few years relates to companies trying to obtain patents, oversimplified, to what are in essence life building blocks, whether genes or seeds. It is yet another area where ethics and laws are struggling to catch-up to technology, and more importantly to the influence that such large multi-nationals can exert on politics. In this instance companies like Monsanto have found loopholes in European law to have exclusive rights over conventional seeds (such as everyday vegetables and fruits like cucumber, broccoli and melons). Such loopholes need to be shut before they set a dangerous global precedent.
The action below is from Avaaz, and is close to reaching 2 million signatures. Such broad implication issues like this one require a giant outcry to help support the needed outcomes. So please consider signing the petition and try to get it over 2 million:
Tell the EU Patent Organization to Fix Patent Laws:
=== FOLLOW-UP TO PREVIOUS ISSUES ===
UN (and US) Approves Arms Trade Treaty; Plus Further on NRA Dialogue
On April 2, the US joined 153 other nations in approving the Global Arms Trade Treaty. That said, for the U.S. to ratify it, it must be passed by its Senate by a super majority. This is deemed unlikely due to the influence the NRA has on the Senate. So for US citizens, stay tuned for the rhetoric to heat up again.
You may recall my attempt in a previous newsletter to try to understand the opposition of the NRA to the Treaty (see: http://untilall.org/uwaa-120.htm). I did it primarily out of my core principle of dialogue (bumbling as I am at it) – to truly attempt to engage with the stance that seemed so utterly foreign. And I did find a thin “sliver” of contact – that a person could genuinely connect the dots in a moral way according to all their underlying framings, that would indicate that signing the Treaty was wrong. It centered around the need to track items.
And before going farther, I would love to continue the personal exploration with anyone via the blog link at the top, unwieldy as blogs are.
But as it currently stands for me, I find that the NRA has shut off dialogue. It has entered a harmful world of self-righteousness, where its answers and framing are the only true ones, and under no circumstances can it yield even one inch. Every counter view is a slippery slope, which is part of cascading slippery slopes which always lead to a single family left defenceless in the face of an armed crazed person, or armed tyrannical government or oppressive UN world force. I find that logic incredulous. Again I do remain open to mistaken perceptions on my part, but until persuaded otherwise I must be clear the danger and harm I see in the current NRA dynamics.
Somewhat aside, the following link shows 12 NRA ads over time, showing it going from a government-friendly organization primarily for hunters (actually simply suggesting that belonging to a rifle club is a good way to gain a skill and have fun), to a complete fear-based stance – a fear not only of who lurks in society but to a government and its institutions (FBI, etc.) who you leave open to coming after you if the NRA is not supported, for only it is the true guardian of the Second Amendment. Now I did find a bit of a sleight of hand going on – for instance from 1920 until now there is a higher proportion of people who lock their doors. That is, times do change and there is more fear than before at that level. Plus the rapid changes of today are very loosely linked to a rise in fear. But neither of those examples fully explains the dramatic shift of the ads.
NRA Ads from 1920 to the present
Tunisia: Latest Trend in country that started Arab Spring
=== ARTICLES OF INTEREST ===
Guatemala Genocide Trial a Landmark . . . And Then Was Scrapped
The trial of former de facto head of Guatemala, Efraín Ríos Montt, on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity, is a landmark achievement in the fight for justice in Guatemala and is a testament to the courage and tenacity of Guatemala’s victims and human rights groups.
However, the trial had been in process for a month when on April 18, a separate court annulled the entire case. Seen as “beyond logic and due process” one can only hope that for the sake of all those who testified and all for whom they represent, as well as for any sense of justice, that a successful appeal will occur. Here is a short and longer version of the current situation:
Amnesty International article
LA Times more in-depth article
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Missed an action email? An archive is kept at: www.UntilAll.org/archives.htm.