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Friday, April 13, 2012

Clooney got arrested for Sudan, what will you do?

Amnesty International
Amnesty's on a mission
George Clooney, members of Congress, and activists were arrested last month for protesting human rights abuses in Sudan. Despite the attention this act drew to their suffering, the Sudanese people still face grave abuses, and their country remains devastated by years of civil war.

This week, Amnesty International's Alex Neve arrived in South Sudan. He is participating in a vitally important human rights research mission to investigate deadly attacks on villages and aerial bombings of civilians along the border region of Sudan and the world's newest country, South Sudan. We need your support to continue this work.

Just before he left, Alex made a video about why this trip was so important. Watch the 3-minute video:

Mission to South Sudan video

We wish Alex and the team of Amnesty International researchers safe travel to remote and volatile areas, as they gather first-hand reports from those affected by the violence in the region.

Support Amnesty's work in Sudan and around the world -- donate today.

Amnesty International's human rights research and monitoring saves lives. It gives voice to people affected by conflicts and mass atrocities. It's used to pressure governments to protect human rights. And it backs up the tireless campaigning of our millions-strong human rights movement with fact-based, first-hand research.

Thank you for supporting Amnesty International's fact-finding mission in South Sudan. It's financial contributions from people like you that allow Amnesty to undertake these vital human rights missions in our efforts to protect civilians at risk. Donate now.


Scott Edwards
Crisis Prevention and Response
Amnesty International USA
  Responding to the human rights crisis in South Sudan

Alex is on assignment in Sudan right now. During this research mission we will:
  • investigate impact of
    aerial bombings
  • gather first-hand reports
  • document conditions in refugee camps
  • report on human rights abuses
  • convey our concerns to local government leaders

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© 2012 Amnesty International USA | 5 Penn Plaza, New York, NY 10001 | 212.807.8400  

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Teacher fired for Trayvon lesson?

Brooke Harris says she was fired for teaching her students about Trayvon Martin. Tell the Pontiac Academy for Excellence to re-hire Brooke.
Sign the Petition
Brooke Harris loved her job teaching eighth grade at an inner-city charter school in Michigan -- but Brooke says she was fired for teaching her kids about Trayvon Martin, an African-American teen who was recently shot and killed because someone thought he looked suspicious.
Brooke's kids had heard about Trayvon, and she saw they wanted to know more in part because they identified with him: "They are young, black and brown kids who walk to the corner store after school every day," Brooke says. "They've been stopped by police because they 'looked like' some kids who did something illegal." 
Many of Brooke's students wanted to go beyond writing essays and classroom discussions -- they wanted to raise money for Trayvon's family. For helping the kids plan the fundraiser, Brooke says that she was suspended and eventually fired, and that she was told, "you're a teacher, not an activist." 
Now there's a petition on Change.org demanding that Brooke's school, the Pontiac Academy of Excellence, give Brooke back her job, and her students back their teacher. The folks Teaching Tolerance, a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center -- a group that does a lot of work to combat racism -- started the campaign because they think it's wrong to fire someone for teaching about Trayvon Martin.
Brooke brought the idea for a fundraiser to the school superintendent, Jacqueline Cassell. Rather than embracing the students' idea, Brooke says, Superintendent Cassell rejected the fundraiser, then refused to meet with Brooke's students when they wanted to appeal her decision. 
It gets worse: Brooke says she was suspended for two days just for asking for the meeting, and that when she tried to clarify what she had done wrong, she was suspended for two weeks, and then fired.
"I just feel bad for my kids," Brooke says. "I hope I haven't let them down."
If thousands of people speak out for Brooke by signing the petition to get her job back, Superintendent Cassell won't be able to sweep the issue under the rug. Pontiac's next school board meeting is in one week, so Brooke says it's especially important to gather as many signatures as possible before then.
Thanks for being a change-maker,
- Michael and the Change.org team

Monday, April 9, 2012

Drugged & forced into prostitution

Sex trafficking survivor Paula wants Village Voice Media financiers Alta Communication and Brynwood Partners to use their power to stamp out child sex trafficking on Village Voice Media's classifieds site, Backpage.com
Sign Paula's Petition
On March 29, protesters delivered 100 pairs of girls' shoes to Village Voice offices in New York, representing the children bought and sold for sex on the classifieds website Backpage.com, owned by Village Voice Media.
Along with the shoes came more than 225,000 signatures on a petition on Change.org calling on Village Voice Media to stop allowing child sex traffickers and pimps to advertise on their site. But the ads for sex with minors are still running.
Now, child sex trafficking survivor "Paula K." is asking the owners of Village Voice Media -- who were just revealed by New York Times columnist Nick Kristoff after intense investigation -- to use their power to stamp out child sex trafficking on Backpage.com for good.
Paula started a petition on Change.org telling Village Voice Media co-owners Alta Communications and Brynwood Partners to do everything in their power to shut down Backpage.com's adult ads section. Click here to sign Paula's petition now.
Paula was drugged and forced into prostitution when she was 15 years old. Now, having rebuilt her life, she is joining 51 State Attorneys General, faith leaders and 10 U.S. Senators to publicly call on Village Voice Media to shut down their adult ads where minors are sold for sex.
Already, several big name companies with stake in Village Voice Media -- like Goldman Sachs -- have sold off their shares in response to the pressure. Village Voice Media owners Alta Communications and Brynwood Partners are tied to big consumer brands like the Boston Celtics, Pretzel Flipz and Balance Bar. If they feel the prestige of those brands is on the line, the companies will have to take action to stop child sex trafficking on Backpage.com.
Thanks for being a change-maker,
- Amanda and the Change.org team

Friday, April 6, 2012

Free my husband, a Tibetan filmmaker jailed in China

Amnesty International
He gave voice to Tibet's anguish. Now he needs our voices.
My name is Lhamo Tso and I'm writing today to ask for your help securing the release of my husband, Dhondup Wangchen.

In 2008 Dhondup made a film called "Leaving Fear Behind," capturing the voices of fellow Tibetans on the eve of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. China was awarded the prestigious Games with the hope that human rights in Tibet and elsewhere in China would improve.

Instead, China's repression in Tibet has only worsened.
Attempts by Tibetans to secure their human rights are routinely crushed. Dhondup has been punished severely. He was tortured and held without charge for nearly a year, then sentenced in a secret trial to six years imprisonment for "inciting separatism."

My husband has committed no crime.
Dhondup suffers from Hepatitis B and was denied medical treatment. My sister in-law takes food and clothes to the prison every month, but it is extremely difficult to obtain reliable information about Dhondup's condition.

Call on the Chinese authorities to give Dhondup the medical attention he urgently needs and to immediately release him and all prisoners of conscience.

Dhondup and I come from northeast Tibet -- the epicenter of recent protests against the Chinese authorities. In my husband's documentary, people express their frustration with the situation, which seems to grow worse each year. Nomads are evicted from their pastures, school children were recently expelled for demanding Tibetan textbooks, natural resources are exploited with no respect for nature, monasteries are under constant surveillance, and Tibetans fear that they might never see the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Tibet.

My people have responded with dramatic acts of self-sacrifice -- including setting themselves on fire -- as a last attempt to demand the same freedom and rights that every human being should enjoy. I saw horrific photos and videos of these self-immolations and wonder why something like this has to happen in our world.

Never give up hope.
My husband tried to show the world both beauty and struggle inside Tibet. Despite our hardships, my family believes in humanity -- we will never give up the hope that there is a better tomorrow.

Please join me in showing Dhondup that you see him, you hear him, and that you will speak for him and all prisoners of conscience when their voices are silenced.

Please act today. Click here to join Amnesty International's global campaign demanding the release of Dhondup and all prisoners of conscience.

I am incredibly grateful for your kind acts.

 Lhamo Tso

PS - At the moment, I am travelling through North America to speak about Dhondup. My tour is organized by different groups, including Amnesty International USA. I feel encouraged to meet people who show sincere concern about the situation of my husband and the many other political prisoners in Tibet. Please check my itinerary -- it would be a pleasure for me to meet you!

  Let our voices carry.

Dhondup Wangchen risked everything – his family, his livelihood, his life – to help the Tibetan people speak of their suffering to the world. Now he is in prison, suffering from medical neglect and other abuses. Come together to demand his freedom.

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© 2012 Amnesty International USA | 5 Penn Plaza, New York, NY 10001 | 212.807.8400  

Lindt chocolate

Lindt and Ferrero: Take child slave labor out of your chocolates this Easter
Sign Morgan's Petition
Children as young as seven endure sixteen hour days and beatings to produce the cocoa that major companies use to make chocolate. And only days before Easter, these companies are desperately competing with each other to maximize profits.
Morgan Rayner, a childcare worker in Australia, loves chocolate. But when she found out about the children farming the cocoa, she could only imagine her 9-year-old little brother in their shoes.
She knows Easter is chocolate companies' most lucrative holiday period, but can't stomach that their profits will come from modern day child slavery -- especially if they refuse to sell fairly traded chocolate, like Lindt and Ferrero. (Every other major chocolate company has already taken steps to ensure their cocoa isn’t harvested by children.)
Morgan started a petition on Change.org calling on Ferrero and Lindt to take immediate steps to make sure no child labor is involved in making their chocolate -- and it's going global.
There may be as many as 2 million children working in cocoa farms in West Africa, where 70% of the world’s cocoa is farmed.
But the movement to end child slavery in the chocolate industry is growing fast. Major brands like Nestle, Mars and Cadbury have already released products that are certified as child labour free. And just a few months ago, Hershey introduced its first independently certified child labor-free chocolate bar after hearing from more than 54,000 people via a petition started on Change.org.
Lindt and Ferrero are the last two major brands still holding out -- and they’re under mounting pressure thanks to Morgan's petition to ensure their own products aren’t produced by children in shocking conditions.
Easter is one of the most profitable times of the year for chocolate companies -- they’ll be more sensitive than ever to consumer pressure. Morgan is hoping thousands will join her to jump on what she sees as a chance to make real progress in ending child slavery.
Thanks for being a change-maker,
- Amanda and the Change.org team

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

14,600 days in solitary

Amnesty International
Two black men, confined to isolation in tiny cells for the last 40 years. End the "Angola 3" nightmare.
No human being deserves this.

23 hours a day isolated in a small cell, four steps long, three steps across. Three times a week for exercise in an outdoor cage, weather permitting. A few hours every week to shower or simply walk. Rare, fleeting human contact with prison guards, let alone with family.

This describes four decades of existence for Albert Woodfox and Herman Wallace in Louisiana, two members of the so-called "Angola 3" who pass their remaining hours "in the hole" to this day.

April 17 will mark 40 years -- 14,600 days -- of their nightmare. The conditions in which these two men are held, as well as the tragically absurd duration of this punishment, violate a host of human rights treaties to which the US is a party, including those covering basic standards for treatment of prisoners. Prisons simply shouldn't operate this way in the US.

Demand an end to the cruel and unnecessary solitary confinement for Albert Woodfox and Herman Wallace.

Our goal is to collect 14,600 petition signatures from just this email alone -- one signature for every day each man has spent in isolation. Dwijendra, can we count on your voice?

Woodfox and Wallace may be in isolation, but they are not forgotten. Our calls for justice will ring loud -- on April 17 we'll make sure Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal hears us when we arrive at his Baton Rouge doorstep with tens of thousands of petition signatures in hand.

We can't let more days pass without justice. Herman Wallace is now 70 years old, Albert Woodfox is in his mid-60s, and both men are suffering from serious health problems -- made worse by the appalling deprivation in which they live.

Ill, advancing in age, with clean disciplinary records for the last 20 years -- what is so dangerous about these men that could possibly warrant this inhumane treatment, for so long?

Because the prison authorities see them as a threat. The "Angola 3" organized their fellow prisoners against inhumane treatment and racial segregation in the early 1970s. Angola Prison's warden, Burl Cain, has suggested that Woodfox and Wallace's continued isolation is based on their political activism -- particularly their association with the Black Panthers.

The "Angola 3" case highlights the failings of a Louisiana justice system that is undermined by discrimination. No physical evidence links Woodfox and Wallace to the 1972 murder of a prison guard. Inmate testimony is questionable. And judges who twice overturned Woodfox's conviction for the murder cited racial discrimination, prosecutorial misconduct, and more.

14,600 days in solitary is far too many. But today, we can do something about it -- demand justice for the remaining "Angola 3".

And on April 17, we won't take no for an answer in Baton Rouge!

For justice,

Bryna Subherwal
Individuals at Risk Campaigner
Amnesty International USA

  Left to rot. But why?

40 years spent in solitary confinement is cruel, inhuman and degrading. Demand justice for Albert Woodfox and Herman Wallace, the two "Angola 3" who remain behind bars.

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© 2012 Amnesty International USA | 5 Penn Plaza, New York, NY 10001 | 212.807.8400  

The end of bees?

EPA: Ban the pesticide that's threatening American bees with extinction
Sign Susan's Petition
Here's the buzz: American honey bees are disappearing at an alarming rate and the government knows why. 
Scientists say a pesticide called clothianidin, made by chemical giant Bayer, is strongly linked to the rapid decline in bee populations. When exposed to the chemical, bees get lost: they are literally unable to find their way home back to the hive and drop dead from exhaustion.
Susan Mariner uses her backyard garden to grow extra fruits and veggies for her family and teach her children where their food comes from -- and in the past few years, she's seen the decline in bees firsthand. 
When Susan heard about the recent studies linking this specific chemical to the widespread death of the bees who pollinate our food, she started a petition on Change.org to get the chemical banned. Click here to sign Susan’s petition asking the Environmental Protection Agency to ban these bee-killing pesticides ASAP.
One-third of the U.S. food supply relies on honey bees. Without bees to pollinate crops, many essential (and favorite) foods are at risk, including apples, squash, tomatoes, strawberries, almonds, and even chocolate. 
Several countries, including Germany and France, have already banned clothianidin. And after the bans, bee populations began to rise again. 
But in the U.S., clothianidin is used on millions of acres of crops and American beekeepers report losses of up to 90% of their bees. Many worry that their hives won't survive another season. Sign Susan's petition urging the EPA to save the bees and immediately end the harmful pesticide's use.
Thanks for being a change-maker,
- Corinne and the Change.org team

Monday, April 2, 2012

Delhi Rape

Police Commissioners can make Delhi/NCR safe for women
Sign Shehla's Petition
Gangrapes, sexual assaults, victim blaming, shameful rape trials -- this is the horrendous state of affairs in Delhi/NCR. According to the Times of India 1 out of 4 rapes in India happens in Delhi.
  • Better promotion of women helplines
  • Monitoring through CCTV’s
  • Sexual assault prevention and redressal policy
  • State and police sensitivity towards women
  • Workplace safety
  • Awareness campaigns
The petition is addressed to Police Commissioners of NCR (Delhi, Gurgaon, Noida), the Home Minister and the Women and Child Rights Minister.
Delhi/ NCR has become a  violent area for a woman to live in, everyday women fight crime not because they’re brave - but because we have no option. We need to rehash norms on sexual harassment in Delhi and NCR region, it’s about time we  come together and take the first step to fight for citizen rights” says Shehla.
The petition has already been signed by actress Tisca Chopra and writer Kiran Manral.
Join Shehla and tell the state commissioners of Police in Delhi, Gurgaon and Noida to make Delhi/ NCR a safer place for women http://www.change.org/petitions/stop-violence-against-women-in-delhi-ncr-rapefreedelhi
Thanks for taking action,

Tamseel and the Change.org team
PS: Want to fight injustice? Start a petition on Change.org and we will help you build your campaign.
News Sources

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Apple customer Mark sparks promised improvements for workers in China

In the past three weeks, Apple revamped its policy to protect workers in China, Meryl Streep and Johnny Depp stood up to high school bullies, President Obama took action to protect Syrians living in America from potential torture and death, and a woman named Hope saved her husband from deportation.
Here's the crazy thing -- it's possible none of this would have happened if people hadn't started petitions on Change.org. But they did. Today we want to share stories with you of nine people who took a chance to try and change something, earned the support of thousands of signatures, got attention from major media outlets from the New York Times to The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and who ultimately won their campaigns.
These victories are amazing on their own. But we're even more excited about the potential they represent: we're living in a time where anyone, anywhere, can use the internet to change the world. (Seriously, you can start a petition right here.)
Keep reading -- we hope you find these stories as inspiring as we do.
- Patrick and the Change.org team
Apple customer Mark sparks promised improvements for workers in China
"Like most Apple customers, I had no idea how appalling the working conditions were at Foxconn, where most iPhones and iPads are assembled. After hearing employees worked excessive hours, in some cases seven days a week, and stood so long their legs swelled until they couldn't walk, I wanted to write a letter to Apple, but then I thought, why not start a petition instead? 250,000 signatures later, Foxconn has promised major changes, including making sure all employees work no more than 49 hours per week without having their salaries cut. I know great organizations continue to press for additional improvements, but I'm so grateful to have played a part in this amazing first step." -Mark Shields

Maha and Darakshan save countless Syrians from terror and violence
"Since Syria's democratic uprising in 2011, the government there has killed thousands of people. Syrian nationals living in America were terrified of being deported and tortured or killed for supporting democracy. We started a petition asking President Obama to grant those Syrians "Temporary Protected Status" so they could stop living in fear, and after 12,000 people and several members of Congress supported our campaign, President Obama came through." -Maha Hilal & Darakshan Raja

Meryl Streep, Johnny Depp and Ellen DeGeneres support Katy's fight against bullies
"I used to be bullied so badly that I was afraid to go to school. When I saw that a new documentary made to stop bullying was rated R, I started a petition asking the Motion Picture Association of America to change the rating to PG-13 so that the kids who most needed to see the film would be able to. A few weeks and almost half a million signatures later, I got to be on The Ellen Show. Meryl Streep, Johnny Depp, and 35 members of Congress threw their support behind my campaign. Now the movie's distributor, The Weinstein Company, is releasing the film as 'unrated' so that all kids can see the movie." -Katy Butler

Mom and food blogger Bettina keeps "pink slime" out of school cafeterias
"I'm a parent who writes about children and food, especially school food reform. So I was upset to learn that USDA was arranging to offer school districts ground beef containing 7 million pounds of 'lean, finely textured beef,' more commonly known as 'pink slime.' LFTB is made from slaughterhouse scraps previously used only for pet food and cooking oil, and treated with ammonium hydroxide to kill pathogens. In just 9 days, nearly 250,000 signed people my petition, leading the USDA to change its policy and offer districts, for the first time ever, ground beef without this cheap filler." -Bettina Elias Siegel

Jason takes on an insurance company to help save his dad
"My dad, Henry, had a terrible heart attack last fall that left him with severely impaired cognitive and motor skills. His doctors said that rehab would help him get better, but his insurance provider -- Blue Cross Blue Shield Massachusetts -- refused to pay. I started a petition on Change.org and almost 200,000 people signed it. Now Blue Cross has agreed to pay for my dad's care." -Jason Warren

Craig -- a straight Republican Marine -- defends his gay brother's right to marry
"I served in Iraq to defend freedom and liberty, but the legislature in my home state of New Hampshire wanted to take away my brother Calvin's freedom to marry the person he loves just because he's gay. I started a petition asking New Hampshire's Republican legislature to do the conservative thing: stay out of people's private lives. More than 125,000 people signed my petition, and the legislature voted to uphold marriage equality. I hope one day I get to be the best man in Calvin's wedding." -Craig Stowell

Cancer survivor mom Jane convinces Mattel to manufacture bald Barbies
"I lost my hair when I went through chemo, and I know so many little girls go through the same thing -- it can be sad and scary. I started a petition asking Mattel to manufacture a bald Barbie so that little cancer warriors will see that they are beautiful princesses, too. Almost 35,000 people signed my petition, and now Mattel says it will make bald dolls and donate them to children's cancer wards around America." -Jane Bingham

Hope Mustakim uses petition to save her husband Naz from deportation
"With the outpouring of support from our community, numerous organizations, churches, Change.org, our incredible legal team, friends and family, and our loving God, my husband Nazry is back home in Waco. Thank you Change.org for believing in our cause and providing a way to gather the support that played a monumental part in winning Naz's freedom back. We are so grateful." -Hope Mustakim

Is there something you want to change in your community, or in the world? Click here to start your own petition on Change.org.