Here, There and Everywhere

Archive for June, 2012

Let’s Change 20,000 To 0

Dear Gabriel,

20,000. That’s how many children younger than five years old die every day around the world.

I have witnessed this tragedy firsthand, so I’m making a personal plea to you. Most of these children are dying needlessly from preventable causes: malnutrition, measles, malaria — we must do more to help all children survive and thrive.

To respond to this crisis, CARE has set a goal to raise $1 million to fund our hunger- and poverty-fighting programs around the world. And we need your help.

The deadline to meet our goal is June 30 — in just a few days. Time is limited, so I am counting on generous CARE supporters like you to respond immediately. As a special incentive, CARE’s board of directors will match up to $100,000, helping your gift go twice as far.

I have seen desperation with my own eyes — in the heartache of a mother who has just lost her child and in the anguish of a father who desperately wants to lift his family out of poverty but has no means to do so. Today, in Niger, 1 million children face severe malnutrition. These heartbreaking stories can be prevented — with your help.

We know that CARE programs make a true, lasting difference in people’s lives, especially during times of crisis. Right now, a severe food crisis is gripping the Sahel region of Africa, putting 18 million people at risk of malnutrition. CARE is on the ground in Niger, Mali and Chad implementing work programs so families earn money to buy food, training nurses to prevent and treat malnutrition, helping communities gain access to clean water and much more.

Your donation will help empower families in the Sahel and other poor communities around the world to become self-sufficient so they can escape hunger, help their children grow stronger and healthier, and create a brighter future for all.

I appreciate your generosity and compassion in helping CARE save lives and fight poverty across the globe. Thank you for helping us meet our goal to raise $1 million by June 30.

Sincerely,

Helene D. Gayle, MD, MPH
President and CEO, CARE

To Bee or Not to Bee

Dear Gabriel,

In the next week, the EPA is expected to issue a decision on the pesticide Clothianidin — which scientists believe is a major factor in this alarming decline in U.S honey bee populations, known as Colony Collapse Disorder.

Since 2006, one third of U.S honey bee populations have been dying off yearly. One third. Every year. That’s a terrible rate of species destruction on its own, but it’s also a serious threat to our food supply. Honey bees play a crucial role by pollinating 71 of the 100 most common crops, which account for 90% of the world’s food supply.1

More than 125,000 CREDO Activists joined the Pesticide Action Network and other groups this March in urging the EPA to suspend its approval of Clothianidin.

The EPA is about to respond, but if the agency doesn’t actually act, it likely won’t review Clothianidin again until 2018 — and by then it could be too late for the bees.

Tell the EPA: Bee die-offs are an emergency. Ban the pesticide that’s killing bees. Click here to automatically sign the petition.

While the causes of Colony Collapse disorder are complex, studies are increasingly pointing to the role played by pesticides like Clothianidin.

Produced by the German corporation Bayer CropScience, it is used as a treatment on crop seeds, including corn and canola, and works by expressing itself in the plants’ pollen and nectar. Not coincidentally, these are some of honey bees’ favorite sources of food.

Shockingly, Clothianidin was approved without any independent study verifying its safety. The Pesticide was conditionally approved for use in 2003, and then fully approved by the EPA in 2010, on the basis of only one test conducted by Bayer, which EPA scientists later said was unsound and not sufficient to be the grounds for unconditional approval of the pesticide.2

Tell the EPA: Ban the pesticide that’s killing bees. Click here to automatically sign the petition.

Clothianidin has already been banned in France, Italy, Slovenia, and Germany — the home of Bayer — but it continues to be applied to over 100 million acres here in the U.S., at the peril of bees and our ability to produce foods like apples, blueberries, almonds, pumpkins and dozens of other vital crops.

For the EPA to take action and suspend the use of Clothianidin it must declare bee die-offs to be an “imminent hazard.” And with massive continuing die-offs of the species that is a cornerstone of our crop production, it’s clear that is the case.

For too long, the EPA has turned a blind eye to the problem, trusting a sham study by pesticide makers over the mounting evidence that Clothianidin is not safe for our food system. It’s time for the EPA to ban Clothianidin and save the bees.

Click below to automatically sign the petition:
http://act.credoaction.com/r/?r=6902377&p=bee_decision&id=42313-266627-axldXAx&t=10

Thanks for defending the bees.

Elijah Zarlin, Campaign Manager
CREDO Action from Working Assets

Runaways in Rwanda

Runaways
9 June 2012
by Sean
From ROP Stories

People often ask me what is the most difficult thing about running an orphanage. Well, to be honest there is no lack of challenges and frustrations, but for me the most difficult challenge is dealing with runaways.

You see, the boys we bring in the from streets and from the far off rural areas of Rwanda are usually very young. In the last year and a half we’ve added many new kids between the ages of five to ten years of age. Although life on the streets is hard, these boys become used to being out there on their own, able to do what they want when they want without any sort of authority around to prevent them from doing so. They can eat when they want (if they can scrounge up enough change), wash when they want (which isn’t often, I can tell you) and move around town as they want. Sure, life on the streets can be harsh, but they become accustomed to it and it becomes normal for them.

When we find them on the street and invite them to come to the ROP, promising them education, food, clothes, etc, they jump at the opportunity. Usually they settle in very quickly and all might seem well for a short time, but for some, experiencing rules, structure and discipline – in some cases for the first time in their lives – is not easy for them to handle.

Taking boys who are used to fighting, begging and stealing, and getting them to fit within the ROP family is tough work. If one commits an offense – or “mistake” as we call them – the solution isn’t as simple as punishing them. If you make the punishment too serious – and for a street child any punishment is excessive in their eyes – they’ll wait for their opportunity and run away. If you take away a privilege, they’ll try to run away. If they want you to buy them a radio and you refuse, explaining to them that we can’t buy everyone radios, they’ll threaten to run away or just do it anyway. Sometimes something as simple as wanting some type of food they don’t get at the Center will cause them to try to run away.

To be honest it can be incredibly frustrating. I often wonder how these kids can choose to run back to streets when we’re offering them so much. But then I remind myself that these are young kids. They can’t see past their own noses, let alone far ahead into the future when everything we’ve providing will really mean something to them. They want a sweet roll, a radio, or the freedom to wander around NOW, and if they can’t have it they’ll go back to the street where they can do whatever they want.

Read entire story, with additional photos at ROP Stories.

A Birthday Like No Other

A BIG birthday at the ROP
Posted on June 25, 2012 by Sean
From ROP Stories

Every June 16th Africa celebrates the International Day of the African Child, a day for people within the continent celebrate and honor children of all ages, backgrounds and cultures. Last year we were honored when the government ask us to host their celebration at the ROP Center.

This year, however, we wanted the day to be all about our children, and we wanted to do something extra special for them. You see, most of our boys don’t know the day they were born. In fact, many don’t even know with certainty which year they were born. Because of this we decided that we wanted to make June 16th the birthday for every child at the Center and start by celebrating it this year. Now we just needed to scrape together some money for the event. We tapped local businesses for donations but unfortunately none of them came through for us. But just a couple of weeks before (when panic was beginning to set in) our fantastic donor Line from Norway, and her organization Metamorfose, came through for our boys once again. She told us that she would pay for catering for all the boys and staff to enjoy as well as paying for the Kwetu Film Institute to bring us a GIANT movie screen to watch films on in the evening. Obviously we were thrilled now that it was all coming together. We didn’t tell the boys anything about a party. We only told them the day before that we were having some visitors coming the next day so they needed to be prepared.

Saturday arrived and Jenny and I arrived at the Center in the morning with crates of drinks. The boys started asking what was going on, but all the staff were tight-lipped. We gathered everyone in the dining hall and let them just sit and wait for several minutes before Elizabeth and Alex, two of our staff, came rushing in with buckets of water and began splashing all the boys (a Rwandan birthday tradition). They all took off running, wondering what the heck was going on.

Now that the boys knew something was up it was time to tell them the true reason we gathered them all together. Jenny and I reminded the boys about the Day of the African Child and informed them that it was now the official birthday of all the boys in the Center. We told them there would be dancing, singing, food and plenty of fun, all capped off with some films on a very big screen outside. As you can imagine they were all very excited.

So as the day went on we had dancing competitions, some boys read poems and sang songs they had written. We shared food, gave out all sorts of goodies like marbles and sweets, and waited for the sun to go down. When it was dark we showed two films; first a version of Cinderella that was in Kinyarwanda, their native language, followed by Africa United, a hugely popular kids movie about four struggling children trying to make their way from Rwanda to South Africa for the 2010 World Cup. We ended the night with some Charlie Chaplin films, which are easy to understand and universally funny for anyone of any age and culture.

When it finally got dark Jenny broke out one last surprise for the boys. She had collected dozens of glow in the dark bracelets and had been saving them for an important occasion. This was the perfect time, but before we handed them out I had to show them how they worked and explain to them that they weren’t allowed to break them open or put them in their mouths. When I cracked the first one and it became luminous a wave of “wowwww” came from the group. They couldn’t wait to get their hands on them and were fascinated with this new novelty.

Finally it was finally time to show the films. Some boys sat on benches and chairs while the small boys laid out on the freshly cut grass.

Read entire story and see more photos at ROP Stories.

Foreclose On Bank Not Homeowners

Gabriel –

It was no ordinary morning. Police arrived at 4am and broke down the door to Alejandra Cruz’s (photo on right) family home with a battering ram. PNC Bank was trying to take her family’s Minneapolis home after a bank error, and their friends and neighbors were in the home to defend it. The police forced everyone to leave — but now Alejandra is fighting back to save her family’s home.

Alejandra’s family made every online payment on their home for seven years. But one month, PNC Bank didn’t withdraw it. Instead of admitting their error, they demanded two months’ payment as penalty.

Alejandra says there was no way her family could have come up with so much money on such short notice. So PNC put them into foreclosure and forced them to leave the house in 48 hours.

But now, Alejandra is fighting back. She’s started a petition asking PNC to sit down and negotiate — and this Thursday, she’s traveling to the the bank’s headquarters to deliver her message. It could decide the fate of her family’s home — and if thousands of people join her before then, she knows the bank won’t be able to ignore her message.

Click here to stand with Alejandra — ask PNC Bank to admit their mistake and negotiate a loan modification with her family.

Alejandra says her family has worked incredibly hard to meet their mortgage payments. Her father worked two jobs, and she and her brother worked part time through school to help. The foreclosure has already forced them to move out of their home, and when friends and neighbors tried to stop the bank from taking the home, police arrested them.

But Alejandra knows there is hope. Just last week, another Minneapolis resident named Nick Espinosa started a Change.org petition to save his mom’s home. Thousands of people signed in a matter of days, and the bank was forced to back down and let Nick’s mom keep her home with a reduced mortgage.

Local media are already taking interest in her family’s battle, and if PNC Bank hears from thousands across the country right now, Alejandra is convinced they’ll decide to negotiate rather than face a public relations nightmare.

Click here to help Alejandra save her family home, and tell PNC Bank not to penalize the Cruzes for a mistake of its own doing.

Thanks for being a change-maker,

Tim and the Change.org team

Fossil Fuel Subsidies

Dear Friends,

Over a million people have called on world leaders to end fossil fuel subsidies at the Rio Earth Summit — a no-brainer policy that could take one trillion tax dollars from Big Oil and reinvest it in green energy. But they’ve failed to deliver — even with the backing of the EU, the US and most G20 countries! The talks end in 48 hours. Now is our chance to save them and the planet’s future.

Brazil’s President Dilma is hosting the summit and has the power to reopen discussions and demand a timeline for ending polluter payouts, but she is considering walking away with the weak language presented by a team of bureaucrats. We can stop her in her tracks.

Dilma has 2 days to emerge as a global climate hero. Sign this urgent petition now and forward to everyone — at 500,000 signers, Avaaz will deliver it straight to Dilma’s hands and run an urgent, hard-hitting ad in the Financial Times:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/save_rio_save_the_planet/?bMPbqab&v=15402

In the last 2 weeks, we’ve already made huge strides towards an end to fossil fuel subsidies. Together, we’ve:

Unfurled giant trillion dollar bills with our friends 350 on beaches in Rio and in Los Cabos that garnered the attention of major media across the globe and delivered a 1 million strong call to end harmful polluter subsidies.

Delivered a petition with over 750,000 signers directly to UK Prime Minister Cameron and the Mexican chair of the G20 summit.

Massively impacted the vote in a UN poll — making fossil fuel subsidies the top priority for the Earth Summit. We won with over 66% of the vote!

Flooded the Mexican and New Zealand environment ministers with messages calling on them to push for an end to polluter payouts.

And our team on the ground in Rio and Los Cabos has tirelessly lobbied politicians — attending dozens of meetings with high level officials from key countries.

The stage is set and Dilma has the perfect solution to turn the talks around: a clear and timely end to fossil fuel subsidies. We only have 48 hours for this final push to action — click below to sign:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/save_rio_save_the_planet/?bMPbqab&v=15402

The movement to end fossil fuel subsidies is at a tipping point. Over 1 million of us signed petitions calling for action, from Rio and Delhi to London and Sydney. As we enter the 11th hour of the Rio Earth Summit, let’s continue to push until we win!

With hope,

Iain, Antonia, Jamie, Emma, Ricken, Diego, Pedro and the rest of the Avaaz team

Let Her Prove It

Gabriel –

The “all time champ in wrongful convictions”? Kirstin Lobato was 19 when she was sent to prison for murder — despite the fact that no physical evidence tied her to the crime scene, multiple witnesses testified that she was almost 200 miles away at the time, and other evidence pointed to a completely different person.

Crucial DNA evidence ignored: For ten years, law enforcement officials have refused to test DNA evidence from the crime scene, even though it could exonerate Kirstin and find the real killer. Kirstin’s friend Michelle Ravell says the reason is clear: they know it could prove they’ve kept an innocent woman in prison for ten years. But now, there is new hope.

You can help exonerate an innocent woman: A new District Attorney has just been appointed, and he has the power to agree to new DNA tests. Michelle says it’s a chance for him to right an historic wrong — and she knows that if he hears from thousands of people across the country, he’ll be convinced to take this opportunity to uncover the truth.

Click here to sign Michelle’s petition asking District Attorney Stephen Wolfson to allow DNA testing in Kirstin’s case.

Change.org

——————

Here’s more information about Michelle’s campaign, in her own words.

Kirstin Blaise Lobato is an innocent woman stuck in prison while evidence in her case goes untested for DNA.

In 2002 at 19 years old, Kirstin was convicted for the murder and sexual assault of a homeless man named Duran Bailey in Las Vegas. But there was no physical evidence tying Kirstin to the crime and the evidence that was tested for DNA actually excluded her. There were four identifiable crime scene fingerprints – none matched Kirstin’s. A bloody shoe print was found next to the body and a footprint expert testified that it came from a “U.S. men’s size 9 athletic shoe.” Pubic hair found on the victim was tested for DNA and the results excluded both Blaise and the victim as the hair’s source. Multiple people testified that Kirstin was nearly 200 miles away from Las Vegas at the time of the crime.

What happened to Kirstin could happen to anyone. But now, Kirstin has the opportunity to prove her innocence if Clark County District Attorney Stephen Wolfson makes two very reasonable decisions: to allow DNA testing of crime scene evidence and to not file any opposition to Kirstin’s appeal to the Nevada Supreme Court.

The Innocence Project, an organization whose DNA testing work has freed 292 innocent people from prison, has offered to pay to test and re-test 13 pieces of evidence related to the crime using the latest in DNA technology and Wolfson still won’t allow it.

In addition to the DNA evidence, Kirstin has proven her innocence by way of her Habeas Corpus petition’s new evidence grounds. If the State of Nevada District Attorney doesn’t oppose her Appeal to the Nevada Supreme Court, justice will finally be served and she can regain her life.

Clark County District Attorney Stephen Wolfson has a chance to do the right thing and to seek true justice in the murder of Duran Bailey.

Please sign this petition and ask District Attorney Wolfson to allow DNA testing of crime scene evidence and to not file any opposition to Kirstin’s appeal to the Nevada Supreme Court.

Click here to sign the petition
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