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June 2003

         You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, Because he trusts in you.

(Isaiah 26.3)

He has shown you, O man, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

(Micah 6.8)

God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God.
God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God.

(Matthew 5.7-9: New Living Translation)

Peace is not the absence of war: it is the presence of justice.

(Martin Luther King)

Sunday 1st June.

O Lord, our wonderful Counsellor; please equip all Christians engaged in reconciliation and diplomacy to exert wise influence that will change adverse situations and align them to Your eternal purposes of peace and reconciliation.

( CARE prayer guide)

Monday 2nd June

Israel is building an 8-metre high wall, complete with guard towers and electrified fencing, along the whole 350 km. border with the West Bank, but in places several kilometers east of the border, so robbing Palestinian farmers of up to 10% of Palestinian territory.

Uri Avnery of the Israeli peace group Gush Shalom says:
    "When the wall is completed, the whole West Bank will become a pressure cooker in which masses of desperate and angry Palestinians will be imprisoned, together with violent and aggressive settlers and a trigger-happy army. Possibly in the short term the wall will prevent a few suicide bombings. In the longer range, the explosion will be enormous and terrible."
Pray for a just and lasting peace between Israel and Palestine.

Tuesday 3rd June

The Royal Society on April 16th issued a statement that, contrary to the Pentagon's claim that a clean-up of Depleted Uranium (DP) in Iraq was unnecessary, both soldiers and civilians were at risk from the debris of DU munitions, with children particularly at risk, and that such debris could, if left, pose a long-term threat by leaching into water supplies.

Meanwhile Alexandra Miller of the US Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute has published studies showing how DU spreads through the body of exposed animals and damages their genes far more than its toxicity or radiation would normally account for. She adds:
    "None of these studies has yet impacted on the regulations" - perhaps a discreet admission that people in authority are not listening. Now comes an allegation, as yet unconfirmed, that uranium was used in coalition bombs.

Wednesday 4th June

Wangari Maathai, who in 1977 founded the Green Belt Movement in Kenya to encourage large-scale tree-planting, has now, after years of opposition to the Moi regime, been appointed Deputy Minister of Environment, Natural Resources and Wildlife.

Only 2% of Kenya still remains under forest cover, but the new Environment Minister, Dr. Kalundu, wants to see this increased to 10%. Maathai told journalists:
    "I will bring to Parliament the values I've been practising in opposition, especially within the environmental movement. I hope to bring a sense of transparency, a sense of accountability that we've demonstrated in our work in the Green Belt Movement, and a desire to serve the public for the common good."
Pray for the people of Kenya as they strive to restore the damaged environment in their country.

Thursday 5th June

President Lula da Silva of Brazil has signed a decree extending the moratorium on mahogany felling by 150 days and appointed a Special Commission to define new laws for sustainable exploitation of mahogany in accordance with CITES requirements and to recommend solutions for the stockpile of seized illegal mahogany. Greenpeace points out that 150 days is not long enough to accomplish these tasks.

Friday 6th June

The Government's White Paper on Energy has ruled out a new generation of nuclear power stations within the next 5 years and announced a further 60 million for research on renewable energy generation and a target of 20% of electricity generated from renewable sources by 2020.

Success depends on enticing investors with long-term price guarantees, streamlining the planning process and extending the national grid offshore in order to reduce the costs to developers. Greenpeace believes that the banks are willing to provide finance for offshore wind projects, and that the technology is available, but that the projects will only move forward if the Renewable Obligation (i.e, price support) is extended beyond 2010.

Saturday 7th June

While the Government has agreed to a cut of 60% in carbon dioxide emissions by 2050, the means to achieve its target of a 20% reduction by 2010 are simply not in place, according to a new report from the Sustainable Development Commission. It pinpoints transport as the main negative factor: energy demand for transport has doubled since 1970 and is still roaring ahead, while the continued growth of international air traffic threatens to blow away all the gains achieved by industry. Meanwhile the House of Commons Select Committee on Science & Technology has highlighted failings in Research and Development (R & D):
    "The sums invested in R & D lack focus and are wholly insufficient in helping the UK meet its renewables targets. There is a superabundance of funding bodies, resulting in fragmentation of effort and confusion in academia and industry."
It proposes a Renewable Energy Authority to provide drive and direction, plus a targeted carbon tax.

Sunday 8th June

Lord Jesus Christ, who was lifted up on the cross to draw all men unto you, look in mercy upon your world. Send out your light and your truth that they may lead us into paths of fellowship and peace; break down all barriers of contention and strife, and grant that, seeking first your kingdom and righteousness, we may live together in brotherly unity and concord, to your glory and the welfare of the world that you have created.

Monday 9th June

As Afghanistan and now Iraq struggle to recover from a generation of misrule and environmental degradation, many ask the question: Where are those weapons of mass destruction? Congressman Dennis Kucinich, a candidate for the Democratic nomination for President in 2004, writes of the war in Iraq:
    "Once again the hopes of two nations are being smashed by weapons in the name of eliminating weapons. Let us abolish weapons of mass destruction at home - joblessness, poverty, hunger, homelessness, ill-health, poor education and discrimination."
He is campaigning for the restoration of US participation in the Biological Weapons Convention, the Chemical Weapons Convention, the Land Mines Treaty, the Small Arms Treaty, the International Criminal Court and the Kyoto Climate Change Treaty, all of which the Bush Administration has refused to join or approve. Pray for the American people, that they may acknowledge that we all belong together in God's world, and that we face far worse threats than any posed by terrorists.

Tuesday 10th June

Professor Brian Goodwin, in an open letter to President Bush, points out that unrestricted access to world oil supplies for US industry without any constraints from the Kyoto Treaty would so accelerate the build-up of carbon dioxide in the earth's atmosphere that a future failure of rainfall over America's bread-basket, the Midwest, is almost guaranteed.

US scientists have shown that it is the water transpired from the Amazon rainforest that produces the climatic conditions for rain to fall on Kansas and the Midwest states. Accelerating the increase of carbon dioxide by profligate use of Iraq's vast oil supplies, combined with the continued deforestation of the Amazon, would turn the Amazon basin into a desert and plunge the entire Midwest into a prolonged drought leading to famine.

The alternative, he writes, is to use the sun's energy via solar panels, wind, wave and hydro-electric power to convert water into hydrogen and oxygen, then use the hydrogen to drive industry and transport. Science has shown us how to become sustainable in energy use: now, says Goodwin, it is providing the vision needed to follow ecological principles resulting in no waste or pollution in industrial production, consistent with the principles of the hydrogen economy. Will Bush, asks Goodwin, be remembered in history as the Burning Bush or as BUSH the Bringer of Universal Stability through Hydrogen?

Wednesday 11th June

General George Marshall said in 1947:
    "There can be no political stability and no assured peace without economic security. US policy must therefore be directed not against any country or doctrine, but against hunger, poverty, desperation and chaos."
According to the UN Development Programme, every poor person on Earth could have clean water, sanitation, basic health, nutrition, education and reproductive health care for about $40 billion a year. That is far less than the cost of the US anti-terrorist programme and less than a quarter of the tax cut recently announced by President Bush.

Yet all the wealthy nations have reduced their foreign aid contributions. The UN recommended level is 0.7% of GDP. Only the Netherlands and Scandinavian countries exceed this level. Britain contributes 0.3%, while the USA allots just 0.11%. Meanwhile, far from encouraging open markets across the world, the USA is increasingly subsidizing its domestic steel and timber production and this year increased its annual farm subsidies by $35 billion. Hosea wrote of the Israel of his time: "Israel cries out to me 'O our God, we acknowledge you!' But Israel has rejected what is good: an enemy will pursue him." And a few verses later: "They sow the wind and reap the whirlwind."

(Hosea 8.2,3 & 7)

Thursday 12th June

Amory Lovins, author of "Natural Capitalism", refers to America's search for security and the fear of nuclear weapons:
    "Any country that takes economics seriously won't want or have nuclear plants. They will be simply a waste of money. In such a world the technology, materials and skills needed to make nuclear bombs would no longer be an item of commerce."
Likewise with nerve gas. Organic agriculture works better, costs less, is better for health and nutrition and can feed the world equally well: this means you don't have organophosphate pesticide plants, so you remove the cover story for nerve gas.

Finally, to displace the 13% of US oil that now comes from the Persian Gulf, all that is needed is a 2.7 miles per gallon increase in the fuel efficiency of cars. Why does America not do it?

Friday 13th June

Corporations in the USA originally received a state charter for a limited period allowing them to deal in a single commodity and to have their charges regulated by the state legislature, which could remove their charter if it thought their activities harmed its people. All that changed with the case of Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad which, according to the headnote, decided that the Fourteenth Amendment to the US Constitution (which gives all persons equality before the law) applies to corporations. However, Thom Hartmann in a new book "Unequal Protection" has found that the case decided no such thing. Indeed the judge specifically stated that the case did not relate to corporate personhood. The false headnote was written a year later by a former railway employee when the judge was too ill to check it. Corporations now have the same right of privacy as persons, the same right of free speech and the same right to sue objectors (e.g. at a public meeting) for slander. Some local governments have passed laws denying corporations the status of individuals. When enough of them petition the Supreme Court to review the Santa Clara case, there is a real prospect of a change in the legal status of corporations. Hartmann believes that in this way America could lead the world in restoring government of the people, by the people and for the people - not for the interests of corporations.

Saturday 14th June

"Fatal Harvest" is a symposium of essays edited by Andrew Kimbrell which aims to debunk the "Seven Deadly Myths" of Industrial Agriculture, including its claim to feed the world. Anuradha Mittal of Food First points out that 78% of malnourished children under five in the developing world live in countries with food surpluses, which are exported. "We do not need to produce more food, but we need to learn how to share it better" she says. "Hunger is real, scarcity is not. Only when we free ourselves from the myth of scarcity can we begin to look for hunger's real cause."

Sunday 15th June

God our Father, in the name of him who gave bread to the hungry we remember all who through our human ignorance, selfishness and sin are condemned to live in want; and we pray that all endeavours for the overcoming of world poverty and hunger may be so prospered that there may be found food sufficient for all; through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Christian Aid prayer)

Monday 16th June

Today, in Berlin, begins the annual meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC). 12 of the 13 new countries that have joined the IWC in recent years are beneficiaries of Japan's Grant Aid for Fisheries programme. In return, they are expected to vote, with Japan, Norway and Iceland, for a resumption of commercial whaling. Japan already kills 700 whales a year "for scientific research", but a recent paper from twenty scientists from around the world concluded that this research is designed to prove that whales eat too much fish and therefore should be culled by more whaling. But baleen whales, such as blue and minke whales, eat mainly krill, while sperm whales favour deep-sea squid. There is no commercial market for either. For more information visit or

Tuesday 17th June

US environmental NGOs are suing the Administration to force the state-owned Export Import Bank and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation to reject projects, such as oil fields, pipelines and power plants, which may contribute to global warming. These taxpayer-funded agencies have over ten years provided $32 billion for such projects, which commercial banks have deemed too risky. "There are worldwide implications if we win" says the president of FoE USA. "The UK, Germany, France and Japan are big-time lenders through their credit agencies and they'll have to live up to these standards, otherwise they are funding industrial activity at the expense of the world's health."

Wednesday 18th June

A Government White Paper on Air Transport is due out soon. Airlines currently pay just 20 p. a litre for their fuel: motorists pay over 70 p. We pay VAT if we stay in a British B.& B., but no VAT at all on air flights abroad. If Government subsidies were eliminated, Government computer models forecast a reduction of 186 million passengers a year in the number using British airports. No new runways would be needed in the foreseeable future. Moreover, Government subsidies result in an overall 11 million a year loss of revenue, that being the difference between what British tourists spend abroad and what visiting tourists spend here. Carbon dioxide emissions from aircraft rose by 85% between 1990 and 2000 and are set to rise by 30% this decade. One passenger travelling by air from London to Newcastle contributes three times as much carbon dioxide emissions as the same passenger travelling by train.

Thursday 19th June

BP and Chevron Texaco have used land at their Nerefco oil refinery near Rotterdam to build a 22.5 MW. wind farm costing $23 million and providing sufficient electricity for 20,000 Dutch homes. This is Europe's first wind farm built on a brownfield refinery site and will displace 20,000 tonnes of carbon emissions each year. Meanwhile, the US Department of Energy has given a $3 million grant to the Institute for Biological Energy Alternatives in Washington to see if they can develop GMOs which can sequester carbon dioxide or, alternatively, generate hydrogen.

Friday 20th June

The world's largest tidal power plant is to be built in Sihwa Ho, a large tidal lake in Korea. The 250,000 kw. plant will cost $250 million and will generate 550 kw. hours of electricity a year, substituting for nearly a million barrels of oil. As Korea imports 2.5 million barrels a day, this is a tiny proportion of its needs, but with solar and wind projects, the country aims to increase the share alternative energy from 1.4% now to 5% in 2011.

Saturday 21st June

Six offshore wind farms have now been approved by the DTI - sufficient to generate 1.5% of UK electricity requirements. Work should start in 2004 on the Kentish Flats 60-turbine project, while the 30-turbine wind farm off Rhyl is scheduled for completion in 2004. With other offshore projects not yet approved, there should be 4 GW. of offshore wind capacity in total, providing 4% of the UK's electricity. Meanwhile, a report from Powergen forecasts that, with the closure of uneconomic plants and low investment due to depressed prices, peak demand for electricity will rise above available capacity by 2007. This suggests that the Government's support for renewable energy projects may have come too late.

Sunday 22nd June

Lord Jesus, our teacher and example, lift up and enlighten the fallen minds of mankind. Help us to assess the benefits of technology in relation to its inseparable risks. Let us not plan on earth what we would not wish to admit to you in heaven. Let not neglect, or the blindness of the busy, threaten the destruction of this beautiful world. For the sake of us all, those who care and those who don't, we ask this in your Name. Amen.

(Ted Burge - adapted)

Monday 23rd June

At Cancun, Mexico, from September 10th to 14th, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) will decide new agreements on investment, government procurement, competition and trade facilitation - all designed to further the power of the world's largest corporations. The agreement on investment is designed to force governments to: " Give corporations the automatic right to invest in that country; " Stop introducing conditions on foreign investment - such as the need to employ local labour or to respect environmental laws; " Stop favouring domestic companies; " Give foreign corporations the right to sue governments for any breach of the agreement. If corporations succeed, member governments will be prevented from: " Passing or maintaining laws which foreign corporations claim would reduce their profits; " Banning corporations with bad social or environmental records from establishing themselves in member countries; Protecting and supporting local firms; Introducing financial measures to protect national currencies and avoid financial instability.

Tuesday 24th June

The US Government is calling for the removal of all tariffs on imports of non-agricultural products. Corporations want this to apply to wood, fish, water and other natural resources. If this demand is met, two results would flow:

1. It would accelerate the decline of local industries and increase unemployment in the developing world;
2. It would accelerate the pace at which natural resources were extracted as they would become cheaper to trade. This in turn would lead to even greater destruction of forests, fisheries and other natural resources.

Pray for a halt in the momentum towards free trade that is threatening so much of God's creation.

Wednesday 25th June

In 1996 the WTO declared that the US Clean Air Act was in breach of WTO rules. Result: the US Environmental Protection Agency was forced to allow oil refiners to sell gasoline that is dirtier than that regulated by US standards.

In 1998 the WTO overturned a section of the US Endangered Species Act which required all shrimps sold in the US to be harvested using turtle-excluder devices. (There had been 150,000 sea-turtle deaths in 1998 alone). The WTO argued that the US law represented an unfair discrimination against free trade. It was changed Since 1988 the EU has banned the sale of beef treated with growth hormones. Two WTO panels ruled that the ban was illegal. Result: since the EU refused to revoke the ban, the WTO gave the USA permission to impose $116.8 million in retaliatory sanctions until the ban is lifted. How many of us would care if corporations were given the legal right to sue our elected Government for the inconvenience of having to abide by our laws? How would we react to our MPs who started to remove environmental and social protection laws in order to make multinational corporations happy?

Thursday 26th June

An agreement on government procurement sounds innocuous. However, many governments spend taxpayers' money in ways that support local industries, traditions and products. Government procurement can account for up to 12% of a country's GDP, and multinational corporations have their eyes on it. If the agreement was passed, our Government would not be allowed, for example, to decide who runs school canteens: it would have to allow foreign corporations to bid for the contracts. (McDonalds in our schools, Nike making police uniforms, or Starbucks providing hospital meals?). Would we like our public services to stay public, or would we prefer them to be forcibly opened up to foreign corporate competition, all in the name of "free trade"?

Friday 27th June

The WTO holds over 1,000 meetings a year, many running simultaneously. At Doha last year the EU had 502 people in its delegation, while the Maldives had two and Haiti none at all. One African delegate remarked: "They got the deals they wanted because of sheer fatigue on our part. They have big delegations and can stagger people. We don't. It is very difficult to go on negotiating day and night without sleep." A Save the Children delegate said: "Time and again developing countries have been forced to abandon their negotiating positions as a result of economic, political and even personal threats to their delegates. The pretence that the WTO is an equal and democratic negotiating forum lost its credibility a long time ago."

As for this year's meeting at Cancun, the EU has stated openly that the WTO is not about philanthropy. Clearly, the desire of the EU and US to extract still further concessions from the world's poor continues unabated.

Saturday 28th June

Last November's sinking of the oil tanker Prestige has again focused attention on flags of convenience (FOCs). The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea states: "There must exist a genuine link between the state and the ship." The state where a ship is registered has the sole responsibility for regulating standards. If, like Panama and Liberia, it has not the resources or the political will to enforce standards, the international community has no redress. FOCs enable shipowners to avoid onerous international regulations, since the International Maritime Organisation which enforces them is dominated by FOC nations. Since 1980 FOC nations have risen from eleven to twenty-nine.
The International Transport Workers Federation has run a 50-year campaign to establish a regulatory framework for the shipping industry. Now Greenpeace is campaigning for a new global agreement to eliminate the FOC system, to hold flag states responsible for the enforcement of regulations and to give port states more authority to inspect and detain sub-standard vessels. See

Sunday 29th June

Creator God, in too many places your earth is mourning, and too often the destruction comes from human greed and thoughtlessness. We ask your forgiveness for our greed and weak stewardship. Help us to tend your garden with perpetual vigilance and care.

Monday 30th June

The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) has published a report stating that the Government cannot meets its targets on climate change without measures to control greenhouse gas emissions from aircraft. Building new runways would only make the problem worse. It also said:
  • " The claimed economic benefits of more aviation growth may be exaggerated and are based on huge and unfair tax favours to the aviation industry;
  • " Demand to fly can, and should, be managed in a variety of ways. Managing demand would benefit society as a whole and avoid runway expansion;
  • If aviation were taxed normally, and paid for the costs it imposed on society (e.g. from local air and noise pollution, road congestion and loss of wildlife to global climate change), there would be a more sensible use of air travel and less need for major new airport developments;
  • Better use of existing airport and runway capacity should be achieved by auctioning the rights to landing and take-off slots. This would raise vast amounts for the public purse for spending on essential services;
  • Airport expansion would reinforce economic inequalities between the UK regions by increasing development pressure and economic activity in the south-east while extracting jobs from other regions;
  • Since airports are currently unregulated for pollution, the Environment Agency's powers must be extended to airports and there should be a "bubble" (environmental limits) for each airport to operate within.
Give thanks for this timely breath of commonsense! Sources: Earthmatters
BBC Wildlife
The Ecologist
Greenpeace Business
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Philip Clarkson Webb
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