Welcome to the Wednesday, February 22, 2006 issue of this Peace&Justice action email!
This email contains actions relating to the environment, to media skewing and to further action on Darfur - with special thanks to those who responded to the last Darfur request, because there appears to be a change of pace occurring, as noted below.
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has new particle pollution proposals that ignore the advice of their own independent science council among other things. Such pollution has been linked to many respiratory problems. Environmental Defense has created a clickable action to tell the EPA to set stronger standards. Since air pollution knows no national boundaries this action is open to anyone:
Background and Take Action
____________________________________________________________US-ONLY: EXXON HAS NEW HEAD - WILL IT CHANGE COURSE?
For US citizens there is an opportunity to help influence one of the most intransigent players on the Climate Change debate. Good debate is essential, but Exxon has had a mottled track record. If I were a shareholder for the long-term I would have gone elsewhere by now, worried that Exxon is short-sighted, doing so little on alternative energy sources. Even US president Bush has raised the alarm of being "addicted to oil."
The good news is that Exxon has a new CEO. With a change of leadership can come a change in direction. The following action allows you to edit a letter to Exxon's new CEO, telling him to be more future-oriented. Please note that at the end of the letter is the statement that you will not buy their products - you will need to decide whether to keep that sentence or delete it.
____________________________________________________________ADDRESSING MEDIA DISTORTION
One aspect of peace and justice that has not been explored yet in these emails, deals with how we obtain information to make decisions - being well-informed is one of the foundations of a decent world. An example of this precarious process involves the US television network, ABC, which aired a program that has been criticized by FAIR (Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting). The program occurred on Feb. 15 on Nightline and World News Tonight. The supposed 'bombshell' report involved tape-recordings from 1995 that seemed to show that Iraq had been concealing its weapons of mass destruction program. In brief, they quote Hussein Kamel, yet omit his further revelations that the same WMD were destroyed (even Newsweek in 2003 gave the fuller picture). Read the full critique and if you agree with FAIR, then send an email to ABC (you can simply copy & paste FAIR's "Take Action" statement) - the media need to be held accountable.
Read Full Account & Take Action:
____________________________________________________________DARFUR - THANK YOU AND KEEP UP THE PRESSURE
Thank you to everyone who took action in last month's Darfur appeal, as well as previous ones. It seems the agonizing wait for a coalescing of wills may slowly be ending, although many obstacles remain. On Feb. 17 US President Bush called for a much larger force in Darfur; US Secretary of State Rice has reiterated the term genocide when referring to Darfur. The EU and UN are planning for bolstered forces and mandate, although the African Union, who is currently responsible for peacekeeping, will not meet until next month to decide its future directions.
Two actions seem appropriate: one for US citizens and one for Canadian citizens; others will have to search out similar actions. In addition, in keeping with the experimental nature of these emails, I am starting with an action to, of all people, Oprah Winfrey:
____________________________________________________________1. EVERYONE: GET OPRAH WINFREY TO HIGHLIGHT DARFUR
This idea comes from the Genocide Intervention Network. They noted that Oprah recently selected Elie Wiesel's "Night" as her Book Club choice. So the idea is to extend that to the Darfur genocide. You will note that high school students can enter a writing contest; others can simply submit the idea directly for her show. I have no idea whether this will work, but broad awareness and support of the issue is generally a good step.
Background and Action (the action is half-way down the web page):
____________________________________________________________2. US CITIZENS: SEND THANK-YOU AND ENSURE FOLLOW-THROUGH
For US citizens, you can send a note of thanks to President Bush for taking a stronger stand and to ensure appropriate follow-through.
____________________________________________________________3. CANADA: NEW FEDERAL GOV'T - A CHANCE TO VOICE YOUR VIEWS
Canada recently elected a brand new federal government. This gives opportunity to help advocate or reinforce directions for foreign policy around international development in general, and of special focus now, the situation in Darfur. Please consider copying the sample letter at the end of this email, editing as you wish and emailing to the Prime Minister, and copied to Peter MacKay and Josee Verner:
Prime Minister Steven Harper; Email:firstname.lastname@example.org.
Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay; Email: MackaP@parl.gc.ca.
International Cooperation Minister Josée Verner; Email: Verner.J@parl.gc.ca.
On the Horizon: Somalia Drought & Impending Disaster:
There is no action for this yet, but thought I'd raise the issue, specifically, that most of these clickable actions seldom address longer term dynamics; here, that could prevent Somalia from once again facing drought. The real solutions are generally complex - a mix of geography; history; local, national and international political power maneuvering; and surrounding that, a lack of international structures and dynamics that therefore keep us globally in such a primitive state of response.
====== CANADIAN SAMPLE LETTER -- COPY AND PASTE ======
Dear Prime Minister Harper:
Canada has always had a strong legacy of assisting developing countries - whether helping manage or broker peace agreements or whether helping them to help themselves out of poverty. I trust that you will continue that legacy. Specifically I am writing regarding two matters:
There is the urgent need for an end to the horrific violence in Darfur, Sudan - this clearly falls under "The Responsibility to Protect" which forms a key component of Canada's Human Security agenda. I want a Canada that takes a leading role in stopping such genocidal actions and provides stability and security for the people of Darfur.
2. Foreign Aid Policy:
I have come to appreciate your passion about policy. And thus I would like to outline what I think provides some essential touchstones in producing solid, effective policy. Of course there will always be a need for emergency aid and Canadians are generous donors. But more crucial are the foundations to address root causes of poverty, which involves the following:
a. Form partnerships with those most closely affected and most able to affect change. Partnership implies equals meeting with equals; dialogue is the primary resource - where each side contributes their own knowledge and where the local people are free to determine their own future based on that ongoing dialogue;
b. Channel resources through NGOs and other networks that operate within the above context. Avoid bureaucratic, government-to-government, or strings-attached business deals wherever possible - they are breeding grounds for corruption and mismanagement, and in such cases poverty reduction often becomes a minor coincidental effect.
c. Development is a complex, multi-layered process, involving various emphases, depending on the context, on such components as basic health issues; education, especially for women; gender equality; basic security; micro-credit and other mechanisms for livelihood; sustainable agriculture; strengthened civil society; and so on.
Thank you for your time in considering this request. I look forward to your reply and to the continued legacy of Canada as a partner with all those seeking a better future for our global community.
[name & address]
======= END OF SAMPLE LETTER =====
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