Welcome to the Sunday, December 31, 2006 issue of this Peace&Justice action email!

I want to start this year-end email by reflecting on some of the broad issues that this e-mail tries to cover. At the end I thought I would use this year-end transition to present a new topic and action that I've wanted to cover for sometime - Wal-Mart - although I will have to leave the underlying deeper analysis for another time.



With over five years of experimenting with these action e-mails, it seems some basic patterns have emerged in terms of their effectiveness. Due to time I must leave such an analysis for later -- except to say that all such efforts in some way send a signal. Those signals may or may not be heeded, but it is important that they be sent, since: (a) it breaks the silence; and (b) one can never be so sure in advance that no influence will ensue.


Darfur has been specifically highlighted over the past couple of years to allow us to trace international response. It is clear that the world is still structured in a primitive fashion in its inability to protect the lives of massive numbers of innocent civilians. At some point, as already discussed, some form of "The Responsibility to Protect" will need to be implemented if a more decent world is to emerge. I hope to be surprised, but I don't foresee this for years to come. That said, Darfur does inch towards possible resolutions even as it has dramatically and tragically escalated in scope.

Darfur also highlights one strand of the legacy of invading Iraq. You may recall the analysis done in this email at the time (see http://www.untilall.org/uwaa-21.htm), which concluded that, given the swirling scripts yet scant hard evidence, there seemed little to suggest such radical action; and that success - at that point, defined as reducing the terrorism evidenced by 9/11 - lay more in bolstering the efforts in Afghanistan. Of course we know much more about the evidence and motives that propelled the West into Iraq. But my point is that Darfur is part of the indirect "collateral damage" of Iraq, for Iraq siphoned off the resources that could have more easily quelled the problems of Darfur in the early stages, and prevented a sustained focus on Darfur. Hopefully I will provide a more solid analysis of what is now a quite complicated situation.


While there are many other categories that these emails cover, I will end with the environment. Could it be that the next year will continue to see the coalescing of attitudes and eventually sound actions to reduce the effects of climate change? To me the answer is simple - if the climate change analysis is solidly based, then reality will continue to impinge on our world until the threat becomes alarming enough to those in power to bring about the necessary change. It will all come down to the question of whether that point is reached before any potential irreversible tipping point is reached; and, from the perspective of the most marginalized, whether the change will be soon enough and dramatic enough to prevent their most vulnerable position from worsening. For me, in general voluntary measures are little more than placating, and most suggested political action falls woefully short of the mark. It will be an interesting year . . . and one that will continue, in all arenas, to need advocacy.




For many people, Wal-Mart is the place to go to buy items at the lowest price. But its cheap costs come at a terrible cost to some. While time hasn't allowed these emails to give an in-depth look at the dark side of Wal-Mart's dynamics, they do exist (see Background Issues, below). And even if you haven't time to explore these issues, you can still send the following list of principles, derived from its founder, Sam Walton, to the current Board and Executives:

Tell Wal-Mart to Uphold Moral Responsibilities:

Background Issues:

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Rod Downing

Surrey BC Canada
(604) 535-6550