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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Weekly Wire for December 15, 2010



Only 11 days until Christmas!


The Annual Women’s Christmas Breakfast in Vancouver 

Vancouver Women's Christmas Breakfast 004 Vancouver Women's Christmas Breakfast 003

The theme of this year’s Women’s Christmas Breakfast in Vancouver was “Gifts of Peace and Justice”

We sang Carols feasted on a fabulous buffet including a smoked salmon breakfast casserole and were entertained by some of our talented members. Devon Beer, Patti Beer, Dan Beer, Celina Beer,  Kat Goheen, Helene McDonald, Nola Gibson, Sarah Joy Hopkin, and Edith Wallace all sang to us throughout the morning.

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But the highlight of our morning was doing what we could for others. We had all pitched in prior to the breakfast to make up “Stockings” for the Surrey Women’s Centre. They were filled with everything from toiletries to chocolate. Cheryl Melder from the Surrey Women’s Center told us that last year - for some women - one of these stockings was the only Christmas gift they received.

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Some of us also purchased books for the teen moms at Guildford Park Secondary School in Surrey.

Thanks to “Bill the Jam Man” Thederahn who gave us all an early Christmas present of his scrumptious jam!

And special thanks to Leah Christensen who put on the breakfast and found these great projects for us to get involved in.  Merry Christmas everyone!

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Be sure to read our new newsletter “What’s Up…in the CWM” online. You’ll be receiving copies in your congregations soon.  We’ve printed fewer copies this time so we encourage you to take advantage of reading it online.  Let your pastor know if viewing the newsletter online works great for you, or if you’d prefer to have a copy in your hand.

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Did you hold a fabulous event at your congregation!  Tell us about it and send lots of high resolution photos so we can share them with our friends across the Canada West Mission Centre.


Peace and Justice  --  Human Rights

November 2010

Welcome to the November, 2010 issue of this Peace&Justice action email!  To alter your profile, follow the steps at the end, where your profile is listed. 

This newsletter highlights a final push for Darfur and Sudan.  In addition it raises the issue of media distortion and action we can take, as well as an action to protect the gains made during the protests many years ago to protect the pristine Clayoquot Sound temperate rainforest.


On January 9, 2011, Southern Sudan will vote whether or not to secede from Sudan.  Secession is almost certain, although no one can say with certainty what will happen next (you can check out some of the more likely scenarios and factors at UntilAll; you may need to click the “Current Status link”).  The best pragmatic hope is each side’s mutual dependence on oil revenue – the South will retain much of the oilfields, but the pipeline runs through the North; currently they share the resulting oil revenue, coming primarily from China.  There are many less hopeful scenarios.

The U.S. played a crucial role in the 2005 peace accord that ended the North-South 20 year civil war which had caused 2 million deaths.  The U.S. has many reasons to take on such a facilitator role again, and in no small part due to the advocacy community, U.S. President Obama has recently placed substantial diplomatic resources toward the issue.  As in 2005, the N-S focus easily sidelines Darfur, where violence has again escalated and aid has been reduced.  The following action tries to maintain a focus on both issues, albeit a tenuous, last-ditch effort.  If the N-S peace fails, it will not only plunge those areas back into war it will engulf Darfur as well.  If the N-S peace agreement succeeds, Darfur could still remain marginalized in its mostly wretched state.

While it is a last-minute action, it is not meaningless.  Sudan’s President Bashir is well-known for ignoring, delaying and deferring agreements to allow for maximum manipulation.  But this deadline is firm.  And he will react to credible dynamics.  President Obama’s policies were late in forming and not to everyone’s liking.  But they are in place and need the strong voice of support to ensure a firm resolve.

Tell Obama to Maintain Maximum Involvement:



World Aids Day was December 1.  While the action for it has passed, I still want to raise the importance of the subject.  Significant progress has been made over the past few years, but the global AIDS response is very fragile, and the political environment remains challenging. With over 7,300 new HIV infections and nearly 5,500 AIDS deaths each day, we must continue to hold country and global decision-makers accountable for scaling up a comprehensive response to this deadly pandemic, and ensuring the basic human rights of all people affected by HIV/AIDS.  The resources for addressing this crisis keep getting more effective; an overwhelming global impetus is attainable, one which can contain and reverse the direction of this disease. But we must continue to push our leaders.



As indicated in an earlier newsletter, so much of our understanding of our world is filtered information via newspapers, TV and web reporting.  As such, it is good to have organizations that monitor the chief sources of our information.  The organization FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting) plays such a role in the U.S, primarily scanning high-profile newspapers and TV news and programs. 

The New York Times (NYT) was one of the organizations given access to WikiLeak documents.  It published an article based on a cable about Iran’s missile capabilities.  But, noted below, FAIR called it significantly imbalanced in that it did not mention the substantial doubts about the source, even though such information was well known.  FAIR called on people to write the NYT and bring this to their attention.  Again the timeframe for this action has passed, but you may be interested to note that the NYT did respond, noted further below, with a revised and more balanced version, though FAIR considers the wording somewhat disingenuous.

The point of this section is to illustrate both that our sources that shape our understanding of the world should never be taken for granted.  While pure objectivity is almost impossible, organizations like FAIR are essential to help reduce distortions, but there power lies largely with us and responding to distortions, since we are the audience of media outlets.

FAIR Alleges Poor Journalism for NYT Article:

FAIR Comments on NYT’s Changed Position:

Original NYT Article:



In 1993 an unknown area of Canada’s West coast - Clayoquot Sound - was thrust onto the world stage.  Its globally-supported protests against logging made it one of the icons of the struggle to preserve pristine, bio-diverse wilderness.  The protests prevailed and Clayoquot Sound became one of those pivotal symbols of the need to protect the dwindling unspoiled temperate rainforests.   However, protected areas remain vulnerable to being wedged open, and that is what is at stake.  An intact area of pristine ancient forests on Flores Island is being considered for logging right now.

Tell BC Government Not to Grant Logging or Road Permits




Burma: Aung San Suu Kyi Released; 2200 More To Go

It was wonderful news to hear about the release of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi on November 15.  These newsletters over the years have several times called for her release.  But we must also remember the over 2000 other political prisoners who remain in detention.  The original petition for this is now stale, but I will look for other opportunities to voice such concerns.




Visuals of Child Mine Workers

Over the past couple of months the world was captivated by the successful Chilean mine rescue.  The following set of pictures reminds us that many global mining conditions are deplorable, using child labour.  This item is not a call to simply shutdown such sites.  Hopefully we have learned that such one-dimensional actions can create more harm for the children and families, who then must move to even more desperate work.  Rather, it needs a comprehensive response grounded in solid development principles (  That said, change starts with awareness.

Children in Mining Jobs:

Mexican Farms Need a Water Revolution

Australia: Campaign to Shut ‘Dirtiest’ Power Station on Verge of Victory

Cattle Ranching Areas in the Amazon Industrialise

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In appreciation and support,

  Rod Downing

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