Welcome to the Thursday, December 31, 2009, issue of this Peace&Justice action email!
Within hours of writing this paragraph, a new calendar year will begin. I will skip any reflections on this past year, as well as any attempt to name the past or next decade. However I will pause, firstly, to THANK all who have taken action during the year. As noted in several e-mails it has made a difference!
Secondly I wish again to raise the notion of HOPE -- one of the driving influences in life. It is the acknowledgement that we are not so prescient as to know the future with certainty, combined with the belief that life-giving dynamics will eventually prevail over the grotesque distortions and misuse of life. And when hope moves from being an unattached, vague feeling, to a firm resolve, then it can anchor us to maximize life’s possibilities for the poor and marginalized around the world. May we make 2010 a hope-filled year!
Actions in this newsletter range from the specific and virtually immovable -- Sudan and Darfur; to the highly diffuse global implications of Fair Trade; to the personal and pervasive use of plastics and questions of toxins; to some gaping holes in unsigned U.S stances on women's rights; to the experimental use of a YouTube video.
SUDAN AND DARFUR: THE YEAR OF DECISION
It is certain that this next year will be a defining period for Sudan. At one level many pieces of paper, including one signed today, indicate progress that just might keep Sudan from civil war in 2011, the year when the South votes on whether to stay in Sudan or secede. However behind the scenes, viewed through more pessimistic military glasses, with a history of both sides siphoning off large amounts of their oil revenues for a military build-up, one can see all else as façade until war erupts [I hope to have www.UntillAll.org/darfur.htm updated in a few days to give a more complete picture. Please visit the Current Status and Analysis sections at that time].
The best hope for Sudan, and by implication for Darfur since it couldn’t avoid being engulfed in any massive conflict, is for the international community to exert enough pressure to ensure a peaceful transition through 2011. The ideal window of opportunity has long since passed, but possibilities beyond the scope of this email still exist. Thus it is a crucial time to be calling on the international community to get fair national elections in 2010 back on track, as well as the referendum in 2011.
Call on U.S. President Obama to Implement Serious Action:
Canada: Call 1-800-GENOCIDE to tell Harper to help facilitate a unified international stance.
Other Countries: Please tell your representatives the same message.
US: JOIN GLOBAL WOMEN’S RIGHTS TREATY
Thirty years ago, the world took a landmark step towards securing equality for women. The UN adopted the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), a treaty that identifies the steps countries should take to ensure equal opportunity for women. Today, 186 countries have ratified the treaty, but the United States has not. While President Jimmy Carter signed the treaty in 1980, there has never been a vote on the treaty by the full Senate.
Tell your Senator to Support CEDAW:
US: AN OPPORTUNITY TO STOP VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN
Around the world millions of women and girls across the world are beaten and abused. Many are abused in their homes by members of their family or community. Others are raped or harassed by the very security forces that are meant to protect them. Some victims of gender-based violence are employed outside their homes, some are not. Some are rich, some are poor. They have only one thing in common: they are female, and they are abused because of it.
The International Violence Against Women Act (I-VAWA) is a major step in the effort to end violence against women and girls across the globe. It directs the U.S. government to create a comprehensive, 5-year strategy to reduce violence in 10-20 diverse countries identified as having severe levels of violence against women. Ask your Senator and Representative to co-sponsor this bill today! Learn More.
Tell Your Representatives to Co-Sponsor the I-VAWA Bill:
WATCH VIDEO AND EXPAND HUMAN RIGHTS ADVOCACY
One of this email’s projects is to continue to probe the use of the internet in bringing about a more decent world. Amnesty International has a brief video on YouTube. Please watch it. Apart from its own value in reinforcing the actions you take, every view increases its “hit rate”, and when that rate goes high enough - goes viral – then it draws in even more people. And if even a tiny percent are introduced to the idea of the power of what advocacy can do, then our world’s social fabric is strengthened.
So that’s the idea. Introduced by Morgan Freeman, the video is brief, slick and impactful. Watch it, then send the link to any friends not receiving this newsletter . . . and let’s see how far it can be taken. Remember: change starts with an idea – basic, powerful simple – that is turned into action and spreads.
Watch (less than two minutes) and share:
STRENGTHEN THE BASICS – GOOD JOURNALISM
News sources, whether print or TV, are finding great financial constraints in this wired-world. This cuts to the heart of peace and justice – without sound information, we are rudderless. There is a call to PBS, which will soon be stopping two of its hard-hitting programs, to ensure they are replaced with equally sound journalism.
Tell PBS to Keep Hard-Hitting Journalism:
TEACHING THE GLOBAL CONNECTIONS OF OUR FOOD
Global economic dynamics bestow vastly different results on various groups – some reap golden bonuses, some barely survive and are unable to escape their poverty. Fair trade is a system, explored in previous emails, that in its basic model, uses the market mechanism to give the farmers a fairer and stable income.
Global Exchange has a packaged program for Valentine’s Day for use in schools, K-6, that connects the chocolate we consume with its implications for the growers. It also provides the vastly improved implications of the Fair-Trade system. While Valentine’s Day may seem a long way off, teachers would need time to plan for this.
Get Schools To Use Fair-Trade Module:
REGULATE THE PERVASIVE USE OF PLASTICS
Out of more than 62,000 synthetic chemicals that are part of our everyday lives, fewer than 200 have been tested for safety. The industry has largely operated on a “safe until proven harmful” basis, except the problem is that we are the test animals. Without exaggeration, almost everyone is exposed to thousands of chemicals each day. While this can evoke unjustified paranoia, it should raise an alarm, as the recent Bisphenol-A issue indicates (see Background if unfamiliar with such implications)
While this action is U.S.-based, its reach is global, since all countries are heavily chemical-dependent and as noted by the recent repugnant Canada-Asbestos exporting, even highly dangerous unlawful products sometimes get shipped to developing countries. The action below can be a first step in getting more in-step with the chemical world that surrounds us.
Tell Your Rep. to Reform Toxic standards (U.S. only):
=== ARTICLES OF INTEREST ===
East African Drought
For some time I have been reading many warning signs about the potential magnitude of a drought throughout East Africa. Here is a sample:
The massive UN climate change conference has ended. There has been so much analysis of it, that due to time constraints, I have decided to postpone a synopsis of the wide ranging views.
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Missed an action email? An archive is kept at: www.UntilAll.org/archives.htm.
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