Friday, December 17, 2010


The idea is very useful to the activist. If certain amounts of capital are taken away from an entity that is, say, clear cutting the rainforest, or in the case below, perpetuating social violence, business as usual is largely altered. Like all methods of disobedience, this is but another tool in the toolbox. Negotiating with entities that are able to wield such influence are also at the root for the greedy capitalistic structure. But they exists, have power, and must be dealt with on some level. There's always many facets to each action in seeking justice, and action is necessary (in all its forms).

Check out this message I received today:

On December 10, International Human Rights Day, in 23 cities across America people of conscience took a historic stand for justice and equality for all people in the Middle East.

Side by side, Jews, Christians, and Muslims went to 23 individual offices of the US’s leading pension fund, TIAA-CREF, and said do not use my money to profit from the Israeli Occupation. TIAA-CREF, divest from Caterpillar and other companies that profit from breaking the law, harming others and preventing peace.

You can watch the video for yourself to see people of every age in cities large and small across the United States—from New York City to Iowa City, and from Washington DC to Seattle, Washington—all telling TIAA-CREF to stop profiting from destruction.

TIAA-CREF is one of the largest pension funds in the world, and they have invested over a quarter billion dollars in Caterpillar, which manufactures the bulldozers used by the Israeli government to demolish thousands of Palestinian homes and life-sustaining orchards. Caterpillar D-9 bulldozers are an essential tool of an occupation that steals land, destroys livelihoods and injures or kills civilians.

Every day that TIAA-CREF holds Caterpillar stocks is another day in which the financial giant profits from these human rights violations.

In some TIAA-CREF offices, company representatives received a copy of our divestment petition or met cordially, in others they distributed a form letter in response, and in one office they refused to honor a scheduled appointment with someone who has been invested with TIAA-CREF for 50 years. 

TIAA-CREF simply does not offer participants an option for investments free from supporting the occupation. Even their socially responsible funds invest in Caterpillar.

Last Friday, December 10, was just the beginning. Additional TIAA-CREF participants have scheduled appointments to return to discuss their concerns. Many more continue to gather signatures for our divestment petition--we know that every signature from a TIAA-CREF holder makes a difference.

"We went to the University of Louisville, and together with the local Students for Justice in Palestine we collected 260 signatures for the TIAA-CREF petition in about 4 hours. That’s more than one signature a minute.”
Russ Greenleaf, Jewish Voice for Peace, Louisville, KY

"I was collecting signatures for an hour and a half at SUNY Cortland and was astonished at how easy it was. I thought it would be controversial, but every single person I approached signed. In fact, many thanked me for doing this, and told me how grateful they were that a Jewish organization is finally taking action on this issue. I didn't anticipate that."

Howard Botwinick, Associate Professor of Economics at the State University of New York-Cortland

People want to join you and the thousands who have already signed our petition. Now you can help them. Can you collect signatures? Forward this email? Every action you take matters- until all of TIAA-CREF's investments, and the lives of Palestinians are occupation-free.

This is just the beginning.

An interesting way to make some progress. Of course both sides of this deeply rooted issue have faults to be held accountable for, and analysis must be put to supporting a negotiation with capitalistic groups driven by enormous profits, but solutions will only be reached through steps built on peace and justice.

Divestment, playing the games of the system, but a compelling idea to add to to activist tool kit.

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Friday, December 10, 2010

Celebrate Human Rights Day

On this day in 1948 the United Nations General Assembly endorsed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and its conclusion that, "recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world."

But today in Oslo, Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo's seat stood empty. He is in a Chinese jail. The Chinese government successfully pressured 15 nations to boycott the reception honoring his work for free speech and elections. The mission of Eleanor Roosevelt and countless others who worked tirelessly to make the Declaration a reality is not yet complete.

Let's remember what the Universal Declaration stands for and honor some of those dedicated individuals who have championed its principles.

• "After experiencing a prolonged period of human rights disasters and a tortuous struggle and resistance, the awakening Chinese citizens are increasingly and more clearly recognizing that freedom, equality, and human rights are universal common values shared by all humankind . . ." --From Charter 08, co-authored and signed by Liu Xiaobo
• "Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home - so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world..." --Eleanor Roosevelt
• "The cost of liberty is less than the price of repression." –W. E. B. Du Bois
• "True peace is not merely the absence of tension, it is the presence of justice." -Martin Luther King, Jr.
• "Freedom means the supremacy of human rights everywhere." –Franklin Delano Roosevelt

(Courtesey of

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Sunday, December 5, 2010

The World's Largest Letter Writing Event

Take a few minutes, and write a letter.

How to get involved

SIGN UP to Write for Rights! Participate as an individual, or host an event and invite friends, family, and members of your community to join the call for human rights. Check out our Write for Rights! map to find an event near you.

SPREAD THE WORD! Tell everyone that you plan to Write for Rights on Facebook and/or Twitter. Encourage others to sign up for Write for Rights! by texting or emailing this registration link:

Get your RESOURCES. Everything you need to participate in Write for Rights! will be available on this website, including case summaries, sample letters, promotional materials, and helpful tips for holding a successful Write for Rights! event. Participants will receive an email when these additional Resources become available. If you'd like hard copies of these items or have questions, email us:

WRITE and MAIL your letters. (December 4-12 are the key dates, but feel free to start earlier or later.)

TELL US HOW IT WENT! We want to hear from you: did you meet your letter pledge goal? Do you have great ideas on how we can make next year's Write for Rights even better? Be sure to complete the very brief online evaluation form (available soon) or send us an email:

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Friday, December 3, 2010

The fight continues...

B.C. natives protest Enbridge pipeline
Take to Vancouver streets, buy full-page ad opposing Northern Gateway

Native leaders are vowing to do whatever it takes — including civil disobedience — to block a proposed oil pipeline across northern B.C.

Representatives of 61 First Nations marched and drummed through downtown Vancouver streets Thursday to Enbridge Inc.'s headquarters to deliver a signed declaration stating their opposition.

"Civil disobedience is not out of the question," said Larry Nooski, from the Nadleh Whut'en First Nation near Fraser Lake.

The $5.5-billion Northern Gateway Pipeline proposed by Enbridge would run from the Alberta oilsands to B.C.'s North Coast.

Signatories of the declaration say the twin pipelines that would run 1,170 kilometres from an oilsands hub near Edmonton to the port community of Kitimat would pose the risk of an oil spill either along the pipelines or from tanker traffic along the Pacific coast.

Although the group believes they have the legal capacity to halt the project, Enbridge said the ultimate decision does not rest with First Nations.

"A joint review panel made up of the National Energy Board and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency will make the final decision," said company spokeswoman Gina Jordan.

The panel is holding a public regulatory review process that is engaging aboriginal groups and citizens in the decision making, said Jordan.

She said Enbridge has signed a protocol with 30 First Nations groups, although she declined to release their names, citing confidentiality. She did say all of them are either located along the route of the proposed pipeline or nearby.

Two Enbridge pipeline leaks
An April 2009 publication by Enbridge features a picture of then chief Robert Charlie, of the Ts'il Kaz Koh First Nation, better known as the Burns Lake Band, during the signing of a protocol agreement for the Northern Gateway in December 2008.

Charlie has since been replaced in an election, and it is not known whether the change in leadership will affect the protocol agreement. Current Chief Albert Gerow could not be reached for comment.

Enbridge has been under fire in recent months for two high-profile pipeline leaks in the U.S. Midwest.

In July, a pipeline in southern Michigan spilled millions of litres of crude into the Kalamazoo River, and less than two months later, another line leaked in the Chicago area.

Calling themselves the Save the Fraser Gathering of Nations, the aboriginal groups took out a full-page ad in Thursday's Globe and Mail newspaper to declare that they will not allow Enbridge to transport tar sands oil across their lands and watersheds.

"An oil spill in our lands and rivers would destroy our fish, poison our water and devastate our people, our livelihoods and our futures," said the ad.

"We will protect our rivers from Enbridge oil."

Read more:

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