Thursday, January 9, 2014

Action Alert: Organize against the war agenda contained in the upcoming Nuclear Weapons Free Iran Act (S 1881)

Call Senators Today! Advance Diplomacy Avoid War Against Iran!

Your Voice Is Urgently Needed! To Advance Diplomacy and Avoid War -
The Senate is back in session and will soon be considering the Nuclear Weapons Free Iran Act (S 1881). The clear purpose of this bill is to undermine the promising diplomatic opening to Iran, undertaken by the Obama Administration.
The vast majority of Americans are tired of war and want peaceful solutions to problems. But the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and Israel's hard-line Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are lobbying furiously to prevent these negotiations from succeeding. This joint effort has already produced 47 co--sponsors in the Senate.
For list of co-sponsors: []
For text of S 1881: []
All of these Senators need to hear from you, along with your friends and relatives. The last thing most constituents want is another war in the Middle East.
Call the Capitol toll-free at 855-68-NO-WAR (855-686-6927)
Be sure to speak to both your Senators. If they are co-sponsors of this dangerous bill, let them know you want them to withdraw their name. If they are not co-sponsors, let them know you expect a NO vote!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Blood Sugar industry of Cambodia

Solidarity with the People of Cambodia [link]
Clean Sugar Campaign
Land is life. Tell the sugar industry to stop bleeding Cambodian farmers by taking their land

"New Report: EU’s ‘Everything But Arms’ initiative is impoverishing Cambodian farmers" 
2013-09-25 []:
(Brussels – September 16, 2013) A European Union (EU) trade initiative intended to reduce poverty in the world’s poorest countries has driven thousands of Cambodian farming families into destitution and led to serious human rights violations, Equitable Cambodia and Inclusive Development International (IDI) said in a report released on September 16, 2013.
The report, Bittersweet Harvest, assesses the human rights impacts of the EU’s ‘Everything But Arms’ (EBA) trade scheme in Cambodia [].
* Read press release from Brussels launch []
* Read press release from Bangkok launch []
* Download the full report []

Watch the video []:

"Coca-Cola distances itself from 'blood sugar' farms"
2013-12-06 Joel Brinkley from "San Francisco Chronicle" []:
Many Southeast Asians and others around the world owe their thanks to the Coca-Cola Co.
No, I'm not expressing gratitude for the sugary drinks that can help make people fat. But to make those drinks, Coke is one of the world's largest sugar consumers. The company buys sugar from distributors all over the world.
Well, it happens that some of the largest growers and distributors are in Thailand and Cambodia. And as a recent lawsuit made clear, much of the Cambodian sugar is grown on large plantations that used to be farmland for hundreds of poor family farmers.
Across Asia, many countries are guilty of baldly seizing their citizens' land without significant compensation and then selling it to corporations or developers, leaving the owners homeless and often destitute. Arguably, however, Cambodia has the biggest problem. Over time, the Cambodia Daily newspaper reported recently, the government has seized almost 5 million acres - about 10 percent of the nation's land mass.
In Cambodia, human-rights advocates and others are now calling the crop produced on this illegally seized land "blood sugar." (Sometimes landowners who refuse to leave their property are jailed - or shot and killed.)
The Cambodian government contends that the land seizures are actually lifting citizens out of poverty because the companies that buy the land create jobs. But in truth, it's a net loss because the landowners are thrown off their property and most often find themselves unemployed.
It happens that the sugar grown on the seized land in question was processed first in Cambodia and then in Thailand until finally it wound up with Tate & Lyle Sugars, Britain's largest sugar marketer.
This year Mark Moorstein, a Northern Virginia land-use lawyer, took on a "blood sugar" case as pro-bono, charitable work. He and a partner firm in London sued Tate & Lyle. The suit claimed that "pursuant to Cambodian law, the claimants," 200 villagers, "are the owners of the land" and "are entitled to the sugar cane." Tate & Lyle, it added, "knew that the villagers were the owners of the raw sugar or ought to have known."
As soon as the lawyers filed suit, Tate & Lyle seemed to panic. Very quickly, it sold its entire sugar-production unit to American Sugar Refining, better known in the United States for its name-brand product, Domino Sugar. That company became the defendant.
Enter Coca-Cola. As the lawsuit rolled forward, the company apparently realized that its soft drinks were being made with "blood sugar." Or perhaps the company already knew that - but it grew contrite. After all, a Thai sugar-producing giant, Mitr Phol, gets much of its sugar from Cambodia and is one of Coke's top three suppliers.
"The Coca-Cola Co. commits to zero tolerance for land-grabbing," the company announced last month. Coke committed to hire third-party investigators to look at its sugar suppliers to be sure none of them are buying "blood sugar."
Cambodian human-rights groups lauded the move. "Coke's statement is a watershed moment for the communities" victimized by land grabbers, said Eang Vuthy, executive director of Equitable Cambodia. But he and others said they hope that forceful action will follow Coke's laudable statement.
Land-grabbing is endemic to Asia, including China, Burma, Laos and Vietnam. All those nations, including Cambodia, are thoroughly corrupt with court systems that often do nothing but mirror the government's view.
In fact, a Cambodian human-rights group filed suit against a sugar-farm seizure in 2007, and to date the court still has not issued a judgment. Now, as one major Cambodian human-rights organization puts it: "In Phnom Penh and the 12 provinces" around it, "land-grabbing has affected an estimated 400,000 Cambodians since 2003, helping to create a sizable underclass of landless villagers with no means for self-sustenance."
That's why Coke's decision - if in fact the company follows through - is quite important.
Following Coke's lead, PepsiCo investors filed a shareholders resolution urging that company to account for alleged land-rights violations in Cambodia, where much of its sugar comes from as well.
"As shareholders we want to know what PepsiCo is doing to ensure that its suppliers are behaving responsibly and preventing land conflicts from undermining its reputation and operations," a shareholders group said. These people promised to bring up the resolution at Pepsi's annual meeting early next year.
All of this holds the potential to benefit tens of thousands of poor Southeast Asian people whose governments are mercilessly victimizing them. The corporate "blood sugar" customers hold the greatest power to put a stop to these vile acts.

Solidarity with the People of Cambodia

* "Cambodian police break up garment worker camp" 2014-01-06 [link]
* Blood Sugar industry of Cambodia, update 2013-12 [link]

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Campaign to abolish the 500 years old basis of imperialism in the Americas

While symbolic, the act of abolishing the Papal Bulls of the 1500s establishing the "Doctrine of Discovery" would dis-establish the legal basis for the imperialist conquest of the Americas.  

2013-12-31 message from the "Nevada Desert Experience (NDE)"  []:
In late 2013 the Sisters of Loretto in North America got together to call upon the current Vatican City government to rescind some offensive legislation, or "Bulls" from 500 years ago. We'll try to keep you updated on this webpage [] regarding the response of Pope Francis and the Vatican to this call for justice. Many crimes against humanity have gone on since the Papal Bulls of 500 years ago, and a Papal Apology is long-overdue.
Recently, we joined with ten Catholic-based groups, as well as the Western Shoshone National Council, to call on Pope Francis to rescind the papal bulls of the 16th century. These proclamations enslaved non-Christian peoples, leading to the theft and desecration of lands such as the Nevada desert. Now we are fighting to protect these lands from the new class of nuclear waste that the federal government wants to ship to the NNSS (a.k.a. the “Test Site”).
Please join us in the desert for the Pacific Life Community gathering, March 7-10, 2014, and the Sacred Peace Walk, April 12-18, 2014. For more information, please see []
Please register for the 2014 Sacred Peace Walk []

"Loretto Community, Standing in Solidarity with Indigenous, Joins Their Request to Ask Pope Francis to Rescind Papal Bulls that Form Basis for Doctrine of Discovery Denver"
2013-11 []:
For more information, contact  LORETTO COMMUNITY Suster Jean Schildz [314-962-8112, ext. 106] []
The Loretto Community today announced its request to Pope Francis to formally rescind the 15th century papal bulls that provide the basis for the Doctrine of Discovery. This request stands in solidarity with indigenous peoples’ persistent request. Columbus’ arrival in the Western Hemisphere began an era of horrific violence based on religious intolerance. The Doctrine of Discovery justified this violence in addition to the seizure of any land not owned by Christians.
Today’s relationships between governments and traditional people in the Americas, Africa and Oceania have as their foundation the “Doctrine of Discovery.” It is a principle of international law with roots dating back to 15th century papal bulls. These decrees justified Spain and Portugal’s dominion over lands occupied for thousands of years by indigenous peoples. They made possible the European age of “discovery,” sanctioning and promoting the conquest, colonization and exploitation of non-Christian lands and peoples.
The Loretto Community calls on Pope Francis to start a new era of justice with an updated papal bull that formally rejects the past and promotes ethical norms more in harmony with Gospel values. Other Catholics have raised their voices in solidarity with this indigenous request, notably Pax Christi International and the Religious at the United Nations, signing a letter originated by the Passionists International. It is likely that other Catholics have similarly stood as allies, and more are expected to experience the call to do so. All voices in solidarity are welcome.
The requested actions would be a moral victory for indigenous people, and one long overdue. Recent popes have made gestures of apology and reconciliation, moving the Catholic Church and the world at large forward to this important moment. Indigenous groups stand firm in their requests for rescission and repudiation of the official bulls, seeking the same formality with which they were issued. The Loretto Community stands in solidarity with these requests of our indigenous neighbors, far and near.
The Loretto Community draws inspiration from its Catholic heritage and Gospel values of peace and justice. With its main offices in Denver, Loretto maintains nongovernmental status at the United Nations. Community members considered for many months what actions to take regarding the papal bulls before adopting a resolution at its General Assembly in St. Louis in July 2012 to stand in solidarity with indigenous people and to call for the Pope to publicly rescind these decrees that led to the Discovery Doctrine. Many members were shocked to learn of the doctrine, saddened at the delay experienced by indigenous and eager to show solidarity with the justice-based effort. The past year for Loretto has been one of slowly coming to terms with something that indigenous peoples have experienced for centuries.
The Loretto Community joins with other denominations that have made similar announcements, including the World Council of Churches, the Episcopal House of Bishops, the Philadelphia and New York Yearly Meetings of the Religious Society of Friends and the Boulder Friends Meeting, the United Methodist Church, Unitarian Universalists and many others. The Loretto Community formally has supported the U.N. Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples since 2009.
Joining with the Loretto Community to endorse its letter, or providing their own letter to Pope Francis, are the Dominican Sisters Conference, Sisters of St Francis (Rochester, MN), Sisters of St Joseph (Concordia, KS), Sisters of St Joseph (Philadelphia, PA), Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth, the Congregation of Sisters of St Agnes (Fond du Lac, WI), and the 8th Day Center for Justice.
Please note: Sally Dunne, Loretto Co-Member and UN-NGO Representative, Loretto Community at the United Nations, is available for comment on Loretto’s action as described above. She may be reached at [] or at [212-687-1634].
For additional background information, see also: [] and [].  

In 1823, the Christian Doctrine of Discovery was quietly adopted into U.S. law by the Supreme Court in the celebrated case, Johnson v. McIntosh (8 Wheat., 543). Writing for a unanimous court, Chief Justice John Marshall observed that Christian European nations had assumed "ultimate dominion" over the lands of America during the Age of Discovery, and that - upon "discovery" - the Indians had lost "their rights to complete sovereignty, as independent nations," and only retained a right of "occupancy" in their lands. In other words, Indians nations were subject to the ultimate authority of the first nation of Christendom to claim possession of a given region of Indian lands. [Johnson: 574; Wheaton: 270-1]