February 2016 Newsletter

Welcome to this edition of this Peace/Justice action email!

While this newsletter contains some typical actions, a primary concern this time has been a pervasive sense of fear (and despair) encountered these past many months.  Previously mentioned, fear is a primal emotion and is why we survived as a species – we learned to fear truly fearful situations.  But these disturbing trends need to be raised: (a) Acting directly on the basis of fear (even when genuine) generally makes the whole dynamic worse; and (b) Fear is clearly being manipulated and that always diminishes the possibility for sane choices and outcomes.

If you do not have time for the reflection be sure to consider the action section, focused on preventive genocide support, and on revising the terribly flawed Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement.
The blog associated with this newsletter is at: http://untilall.org/blogs/newsletter/.  Feel free to comment on any topic.

ANCHORING 2016: FEAR MUST NOT RULE (Instead, A Well-Anchored Vision)

[Editor: Please see the previous blog posting for the important section. (Link is here)].  It contains two sections:

PART I: The Ominous Symptom of “The Strong Man”

[It examines the crucial implications of Donal Trump’s supporters].

PART II: Fear and ISIS

[It is a summary of a more detailed article to follow].




Preventive actions are essential to lessen the morass and horrors that occurs when tensions turn to conflicts and end up caught in multiple layers of self-interest and geopolitical implications.  At its worst it can result in the form of paralysis that allows the genocidal dynamics that we witnessed in Darfur and yet can still not resolve.

As previously mentioned in this newsletter, there has been some elementary work done on preventive measures.  But such work will always crawl along until as a society we back these early stages with substantial support.  The following U.S. bipartisan bill is encouraging movement in that direction.

Take Action (US Citizens only):
Support the Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act




The TPP is a continuation of a type of international trade agreement that can sound good on the surface (“Who can be against increasing our country’s trade?”) but also can feed into the unease mentioned above in Part I.

The most disturbing aspects are:

  1. Its secretive negotiations among select corporate elites allowed 600 lobbyists to see or draft the text while both US Congress and Canadian governments were kept in the dark. It also completely lacked the robust set of participants that make for sound agreements.
  2. The dispute mechanism can override national sovereignty. I have worked for years in business.  The assumption was always that business assumes the risk, otherwise don’t go into business.  Yet the TPP transfers much of the risk onto governments.  Once a deal is signed then if something comes up – water levels drop or you want to raise the minimum wage – if it affects the company’s profit, they can sue for compensation.
  3. Nobel Prize winner Joseph Stiglitz and others feel these agreements are part of what is leading to the hollowing out of the middle class, again feeding the discontent of Part I.

The alternative is not protectionism but simply a deal that is not so skewed to the large corporations and the economic elites.

While the countries have voted for the TTP, nothing happens until it is ratified by enough countries.  Therefore please consider taking action.

Take Action:
Global: http://action.sumofus.org/a/no-to-tpp/?sub=homepage
US: http://salsa3.salsalabs.com/o/2002/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=17569
Canada: Tell the government what you think










Tech Companies Failing Child Labour

This newsletter has followed “conflict minerals” such as coltan, but cobalt was never on the list. It has now been identified as a severe child labour issue by Amnesty International & Afrewatch:
Cobalt Mines for Tech Companies Using Child Labour


The Top 10 Insights from the “Science of a Meaningful Life” in 2015


I have followed the work of the Greater Good  (U. Berkeley) for ten years when they first started reporting on the science of compassion, generosity, happiness—what they call “the science of a meaningful life”.  While intrigued I found the work not mature enough.  But ten years later their research is acquiring ever more nuance and sophistication. Thus I feel comfortable introducing the work that is being done in these fields.

These nuances are clearly reflected in this year’s list of the “Top 10 Insights from the Science of a Meaningful Life” – the fourth such list.  Indeed, many of this year’s entries could be described as “Yes, but” insights: Yes, as prior findings suggest, being wealthy seems to make people less generous, but only when they reside in places with high inequality. Yes, pursuing happiness makes you unhappy, but only if you live in an individualistic culture. And so on. The caveats and qualifications abound.

In addition they speak of the effects of concepts such as awe, gratitude, and how to make inroads on seemingly unbridgeable divides, etc.
Top 10 Insights from the “Science of a Meaningful Life”


Chocolate Ratings

Fourteen companies rated according to child and other labour standards plus whether organic and also GMO status.