(New York) - It is with enormous sadness that Human Rights Watch announces the death of our beloved colleague Dr. Alison Des Forges, who was killed in the crash of Flight 3407 from Newark to Buffalo on February 12, 2009. Des Forges, senior adviser to Human Rights Watch's Africa division for almost two decades, dedicated her life to working on Rwanda and was the world's leading expert on the 1994 Rwanda genocide and its aftermath. Read more.
We are working with Alison's family to create an appropriate way to honor her memory and her work.
 There comes a point in your life when you realize who matters, who never did, who won't anymore... and who always will. So, don't worry about people from your past, there's a reason why they didn't make it to your future. Give this heart to everyone you don't want to lose in 2009 , including me, if you care. Try to collect 12; it's not easy!  'Be kinder than necessary because everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.' A sharp tongue can cut my own throat.  If I want my dreams to come true, I mustn't oversleep.  Of all the things I wear, my expression is the most important.  The best vitamin for making friends..... B1.  The happiness of my life depends on the quality of my thoughts.  The heaviest thing I can carry is a grudge.  One thing I can give and still keep...is my word. If I lack the courage to start, I have already finished. One thing I can't recycle is wasted time.  Ideas won't work unless ' I ' do.  My mind is like a parachute...it functions only when open. The 10 commandments are not a multiple choice.  The pursuit of happiness is the chase of a lifetime! It is never too late to become what I might have been.  Life is too short to wake up with regrets. So love the people who treat you right.. Forget about the one's who don't. Believe everything happens for a reason. If you get a second chance, grab it with both hands. If it changes your life, let it. Nobody said life would be easy, they just promised it would be worth it. Friends are like balloons; once you let them go, you might not get them back. Sometimes we get so busy with our own lives and problems that we may not even notice that we've let them fly away. Sometimes we are so caught up in who's right and who's wrong that we forget what's right and wrong. Sometimes we just don't realize what real friendship means until it is too late. I don't want to let that happen so I'm gonna tie you to my heart so I never lose you. Send this to all your friends and see how many you get back. Even send it to your balloons that you think have flown away forever. You may be surprised to see it return. 
Health, Justice and Sustainability News Tidbits with an Edge!
Written and edited by Craig Minowa and Ronnie Cummins
Consumer and Farmer Victory!
Monsanto Finally Forced to Dump rBGH
The Miracles of MonsantoMonsanto announced on August 6 it will "divest" or sell off its controversial genetically engineered animal drug, recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH).
Monsanto's divestment of rBGH is a direct result of 14 years of determined opposition by organic consumer, public interest, and family farmer groups. Since its founding, the Organic Consumers Association has campaigned against this cruel and dangerous drug, pointing out to organic and health-minded consumers that rBGH-tainted dairy products pose unacceptable dangers to humans from increased antibiotic residues and elevated levels of a potent cancer tumor promoter called IGF-1. OCA's "Millions Against Monsanto" campaign has generated over a quarter million emails and petition signatures on the topic of rBGH, helping make rBGH one of the most controversial food products in the world.
Learn more: organicconsumers.org/rbghlink.cfm
Millions Against monsantoWe'd like to thank you and all our allies for taking part in this 14-year campaign and helping to bring one of the world's largest and most powerful corporations to its knees. Now let's break Monsanto's stranglehold over seeds and take away their mandate to force-feed genetically engineered food to an unwilling public. Help us push through federal legislation to require mandatory labeling and safety-testing of GMOs (genetically modified organisms.)
Contact us with any other campaign ideas you may have: organicconsumers.org/aboutus.cfm#contact
Learn more about the Millions Against Monsanto campaign: organicconsumers.org/monlink.cfm
Animal Welfare Victory!
Court Rules Common Factory Farm Practices Are Inhumane
CowsA landmark unanimous vote by the New Jersey Supreme Court will require more humane treatment of animals on factory farms. The case was originally brought to the Supreme Court by a coalition of organizations led by Farm Sanctuary, including the Organic Consumers Association.
The decision, which is the first of its kind, could cause a domino-effect across the U.S. The court ruled that widespread factory farm practices, such as "tail-docking" or cutting off the tails of cattle, cannot be considered "humane" simply because they are considered "routine". Many states have a similar exemption to their cruelty code for "common" practices.
The court's decision means these factory farm abuses will be reassessed, and if they are considered inhumane, they will be banned. "This decision will protect thousands of animals in New Jersey, and also calls into question some of the worst factory farm abuses practiced throughout the country," said Jonathan Lovvorn, vice president of animal protection litigation for The Humane Society of the United States.
Learn more: organicconsumers.org/articles/article_14067.cfm
"War is not the answer"
Friends Committee on National Legislation
245 Second St. NE, Washington, DC 20002-5795
firstname.lastname@example.org * http://www.fcnl.org
phone: (202)547-6000 * toll-free: (800)630-1330
We seek a world free of war and the threat of war
We seek a society with equity and justice for all
We seek a community where every person's potential may be fulfilled
We seek an earth restored.
GE soy, soy derivatives, corn sweeteners, and cooking oils.
Patronize local, socially responsible businesses and products.
If local coffee shops are brewing organic and Fair Trade coffee
and avoiding GE ingredients, give your business to them instead
Look up your local Starbucks in the telephone directory and give
them a call. Ask them if they intend to comply with the demands
of the Organic Consumers Association. If not, tell them you will
take your business to a socially responsible cafe.
Call, write, fax or email Starbucks.
Since we began this campaign last year, Starbucks has sworn off the
use of GE coffee beans and has begun to address a number of other
issues. But they still have a long way to go. Keep up the pressure.
TAKE ACTION NOW!
Go into a Starbucks coffee shop and talk to the manager or person
in charge. Show them this leaflet and ask for written assurance that
they will remove rBGH and other genetically engineered (GE)
ingredients from their coffee beverages and their foods; that they
will start brewing Fair Trade coffee as their "coffee of the day" at
least one day a week; and that they will fulfill their pledge to pay
a living wage to small farmers and coffee plantation workers.
Ask your local Starbucks to brew you an individual cup of Fair Trade
Coffee. If they refuse, let them know you will take your business
elsewhere and send a complaint to Starbucks (see below).
Ask Starbucks to show you what brand of milk they are using in
your coffee or bottled Frappuccino and take note of whether it is
labeled as rBGH-free. If you are ordering organic milk or soy milk
with your coffee, tell them you think the 50¢ surcharge is
outrageous. Ask if their baked goods are organic or free from
DO YOU WANT
Your coffee beverages and food to be
free of genetically engineered ingredients
and dangerous hormones?
DO YOU WANT
To support fair wages and living conditions
for coffee farmers and plantation workers?
IF SO HERE ARE SOME THINGS
YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT
Despite rising consumer concerns, most Starbucks outlets
are still using milk from dairies where cows are injected
with Monsanto's controversial recombinant Bovine Growth
hormone (rBGH), a hormone often associated with higher
risks for cancer. rBGH is a powerful drug which cruelly damages
the health of dairy cows, forcing them to give more
milk. Milk from rBGH-injected cows is also likely to contain
more pus, antibiotic residues, and bacteria. rBGH is banned
in nearly every industrialized country in the world
except for the US.
Starbucks refuses to guarantee that the milk, chocolate, ice
cream, bottled Frappuccino drinks, and baked goods they
are selling are free of rBGH (also known as rBST) and other
genetically engineered ingredients.
Although Starbucks now offers non-rBGH organic milk and
soy milk as an option in its US cafes, most customers are
unaware of this. In addition, they are charging an extra
50¢ per cup for these safer, non-genetically engineered
Although Starbucks has bowed to consumer pressure and
begun selling certified Fair Trade or organic coffee in bulk,
they are still refusing to brew it on a regular basis. Many of
Starbucks competitors, however, are already brewing Fair
Trade and organic coffee daily. Starbucks boasts that they
are a major purchaser of organic and Fair Trade coffee but
organic and Fair Trade represent less than 3% of their sales.
In 1995, Starbucks promised to pay a living wage to small
farmers and impoverished workers on the coffee plantations
of its suppliers. Ten years later, Starbucks has done
little or nothing to meet this pledge. They claim to pay
top dollar for their coffee, yet most of this money goes
to middlemen, not the farmers or workers. Buying significant
amounts of certified Fair Trade coffee would guarantee
farmers a living wage.
STARBUCKS CONTACT INFORMATION:
Write: Jim Donald, CEO
Starbucks Coffee Company
2401 Utah Avenue South
P.O. Box 34067
Seattle, WA 98134
Join the Organic Consumers Association
and the growing Fair Trade Movement across the world.
Talk to the person who handed you this leaflet to get involved
locally. Keep informed on this campaign by visiting our web site at
Organic Consumers Association
Turn this leaflet over to see what you can do
to pressure Starbucks to change its policies
6771 South Silver Hill Dr.
Finland, MN 55603
(AP) Vice President Dick Cheney, speaks at the 50th anniversary celebration of the Defense Advanced... Full Image
WASHINGTON (AP) - Bush administration officials from Vice President Dick Cheney on down signed off on using harsh interrogation techniques against suspected terrorists after asking the Justice Department to endorse their legality, The Associated Press has learned.
The officials also took care to insulate President Bush from a series of meetings where CIA interrogation methods, including waterboarding, which simulates drowning, were discussed and ultimately approved.
A former senior U.S. intelligence official familiar with the meetings described them Thursday to the AP to confirm details first reported by ABC News on Wednesday. The intelligence official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to publicly discuss the issue.
Between 2002 and 2003, the Justice Department issued several memos from its Office of Legal Counsel that justified using the interrogation tactics, including ones that critics call torture.
(AP) Vice President Dick Cheney speaks in this February file photo in Washington. Bush administration... Full Image
"If you looked at the timing of the meetings and the memos you'd see a correlation," the former intelligence official said. Those who attended the dozens of meetings agreed that "there'd need to be a legal opinion on the legality of these tactics" before using them on al-Qaida detainees, the former official said.
The meetings were held in the White House Situation Room in the years immediately following the Sept. 11 attacks. Attending the sessions were Cheney, then-Bush aides Attorney General John Ashcroft, Secretary of State Colin Powell, CIA Director George Tenet and national security adviser Condoleezza Rice.
The White House, Justice and State departments and the CIA refused comment Thursday, as did a spokesman for Tenet. A message for Ashcroft was not immediately returned.
Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., lambasted what he described as "yet another astonishing disclosure about the Bush administration and its use of torture."
"Who would have thought that in the United States of America in the 21st century, the top officials of the executive branch would routinely gather in the White House to approve torture?" Kennedy said in a statement. "Long after President Bush has left office, our country will continue to pay the price for his administration's renegade repudiation of the rule of law and fundamental human rights."
(AP) Vice President Dick Cheney, left, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and others, arrive prior to... Full Image
The American Civil Liberties Union called on Congress to investigate.
"With each new revelation, it is beginning to look like the torture operation was managed and directed out of the White House," ACLU legislative director Caroline Fredrickson said. "This is what we suspected all along."
The former intelligence official described Cheney and the top national security officials as deeply immersed in developing the CIA's interrogation program during months of discussions over which methods should be used and when.
At times, CIA officers would demonstrate some of the tactics, or at least detail how they worked, to make sure the small group of "principals" fully understood what the al-Qaida detainees would undergo. The principals eventually authorized physical abuse such as slaps and pushes, sleep deprivation, or waterboarding. This technique involves strapping a person down and pouring water over his cloth-covered face to create the sensation of drowning.
The small group then asked the Justice Department to examine whether using the interrogation methods would break domestic or international laws.
(AP) Vice President Dick Cheney, speaks at the 50th anniversary celebration of the Defense Advanced... Full Image
"No one at the agency wanted to operate under a notion of winks and nods and assumptions that everyone understood what was being talked about," said a second former senior intelligence official. "People wanted to be assured that everything that was conducted was understood and approved by the folks in the chain of command."
The Office of Legal Counsel issued at least two opinions on interrogation methods.
In one, dated Aug. 1, 2002, then-Assistant Attorney General Jay Bybee defined torture as covering "only extreme acts" causing pain similar in intensity to that caused by death or organ failure. A second, dated March 14, 2003, justified using harsh tactics on detainees held overseas so long as military interrogators did not specifically intend to torture their captives.
Both legal opinions since have been withdrawn.
The second former senior intelligence official said rescinding the memos caused the CIA to seek even more detailed approvals for the interrogations.
The department issued another still-secret memo in October 2001 that, in part, sought to outline novel ways the military could be used domestically to defend the country in the face of an impending attack. The Justice Department so far has refused to release it, citing attorney-client privilege, and Attorney General Michael Mukasey declined to describe it Thursday at a Senate panel where Democrats characterized it as a "torture memo."
Not all of the principals who attended were fully comfortable with the White House meetings.
The ABC News report portrayed Ashcroft as troubled by the discussions, despite agreeing that the interrogations methods were legal.
"Why are we talking about this in the White House?" the network quoted Ashcroft as saying during one meeting. "History will not judge this kindly."
Associated Press writer Pete Yost contributed to this report.
The good news is that the Committee to Protect Dogs has received 20,000 signatures so far. Volunteers working together in all parts of the state have been doing well, including a great team in Berkshire County. Led by volunteer coordinator Tina Supple, this small but deeply dedicated group has already collected over 2,000 signatures. Go Berkshire County!
But the bad news is that we are only on track to collect a total of 85,000 signatures -- and a minimum of 120,000 are needed to qualify for the ballot. We can't reach this goal without more help.
For more information on how you can help, please contact the Committee to Protect Dogs at (617) 666-3526 or email@example.com. If you are already a volunteer -- thank you!
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