Here, There and Everywhere

Archive for September, 2012

Listen To Joan Baez

Dear Gabriel,

All this month, artists and human rights activists like me have proudly raised our voices to defend human rights with Amnesty International. Now, it’s your turn.

Sunday is your last chance to double your gift. Please join me by donating to Amnesty International right now.

Your gift matters – collective action releases people from prison, torture and execution:

“I don’t regret a single moment. I celebrate the work that I do and the people I work with…We are in it together.”

That’s Jenni Williams, the inspiring co-founder of Women and Men of Zimbabwe Arise. She’s been arrested 43 times and been beaten severely for defending human rights in her country. Jenni credits Amnesty International members with saving her life multiple times.

Jenni is right – we’re in this together to shine a bright light on the horrific acts of violence committed by Syrian security forces against their own people, in the hopes we can help end the atrocities.

We’re in this to fervently declare love a right, not a wrong, and work to overturn the discriminatory “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA).

We’re wholeheartedly taking part in this because we refuse to yield to oppression and to hate, and we will not let slip our hard-fought gains.

With the world facing unprecedented assaults on human rights, Amnesty’s mission is more relevant and urgent than ever.

Your gift will help Amnesty rise to these challenges. Donate now.

Very truly yours,
Joan Baez
Musician, Human Rights Activist

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Hawaiian Sea Turtles

From Change.org

Protect Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles
Started by: Chris, Woodacre, California

My name is Chris Pincetich, and for as long as I can remember, my fondest childhood memories were swimming nearby Hawaii’s sea turtles. My family and friends on Oahu all care deeply about local green sea turtles, known as honu to native Hawaiians, but now the honu are threatened by a proposal to remove protections that have allowed them to thrive.

Over the last forty years, hunting of sea turtles has been banned on Hawaii and now it is common to see sea turtles basking in the sun without fear. If hunting them were again allowed, they would be slaughtered on public beaches for their meat and shells, to be sold to restaurants and turned into souvenirs.

Take action before the October 1 to ensure a future for Hawaiian honu!

Thanks to conservation work by SeaTurtles.org and allies, sea turtles have a fighting chance to recover from the brink of extinction. In Hawaii, they are rebounding from just 67 nesting females to over 800 now. However, their population is far short of the published goal of 5,000 Pacific green sea turtles needed to declare their population as recovered.

The honu are innocent ancient ocean navigators that deserve protection from hunting. The National Marine Fisheries Service needs to hear from you today that you oppose removing them from the Endangered Species Act, oppose the movement to allow hunting of sea turtles, and support protecting critical habitat for the honu. (Proposed rule NOAA-NMFS-2012-0154)

Join our ‘Ohana (family) at SeaTurtles.org to protect the honu, check the box when you sign-on to keep informed!

Click here to sign CHRIS’s petition, “National Marine Fisheries Service: Protect Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles”.

Honey Bee Crisis

Gabriel,

Since 2006, our honey bees have been dying off in droves. Billions of bees have disappeared in the U.S. with losses estimated at 30% per year.

And if the destruction of a species is disturbing enough on its own, the collapse of honey bee populations also threatens the security of our food supply since honey bee pollination is crucial to the cultivation of a full 1/3 of our food here in the U.S.

Urge the EPA to stop dragging its feet and take steps NOW to stem the collapse of honey bee colonies across the country.

Scientists have been scrambling to figure out what is behind this crisis – termed Colony Collapse Disorder – and believe it is probably the result of many interacting factors, including one widely used class of pesticides called neonicotinoids.

One such chemical, called clothianidin, is produced by the German corporation Bayer CropScience. It is used as a treatment on crop seeds, including corn and canola which happen to be among honey bees’ favorite foods.

Unfortunately, the EPA is refusing to make any changes until it completes its review of the safety of clothianidin in 2018 – but our honey bees (and bee keepers, rural communities and farmers) can’t wait that long.

Tell the EPA: Ban the use of this pesticide that may be wiping out our honey bees before it’s too late.

Shockingly, no major independent study has verified the safety of this pesticide. While clothianidin has been used on corn – the largest crop in the U.S. – since 2003, it was officially approved by the Environmental Protection Agency in 2010 on the basis of a single study, conducted by Bayer.

But leaked EPA documents2 expose a more sordid story. Agency scientists who reviewed Bayer’s study determined that the evidence was unsound and should not have been allowed as the basis for an unconditional approval of the pesticide.

Additional independent studies have shown that neonicotinoid pesticides like clothianidin are highly toxic to honey bees, providing compelling evidence that they should not continue to be approved by the EPA.

France, Italy, Slovenia, and Germany have already banned clothianidin over concerns of its role in Colony Collapse Disorder.

The stakes are far too high to continue the use of this chemical without independent science verifying that it is safe to use.

Thanks for helping to protect our bees.

Mike Town
Director, SaveOurEnvironment.org

Curing Cancers In A Decade

From Technology Review
21 September, 2012

Oncology’s Moon Shot
by Susan Young

A large cancer research center in Texas announced today it will launch a “$3 billion fight” to reduce the death rates of eight cancers. The so-called Moon Shots program at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center will focus on forms of lung, prostate, ovarian, skin and blood cancers. According to the Houston Chronicle, the program follows a pledge last year by then-new MD Anderson president Ronald DePinho, who at the time said he wanted the hospital to develop a “bold and ambitious plan for curing several cancers.”

The Moon Shots program will include a focus on genomics to understand the genetic and molecular basis of cancers and to identify patient-specific treatments (for more information on these ideas, see “Cancer Genomics” and “Making Genomics Routine in Cancer Care”). “Humanity urgently needs bold action to defeat cancer. I believe that we have many of the tools we need to pick the fight of the 21st century. Let’s focus our energies on approaching cancer comprehensively and systematically, with the precision of an engineer, always asking … ‘What can we do to directly impact patients?'” said DePinho in a released statement.

Read complete story and other informative articles at Technology Review.

California and Death Row

Dear Gabriel,

I saw Troy Davis today in California.

Come to think about it — he was there when Oregon’s governor refused to allow another execution to take place on his watch. And I’m positive that Troy was in Connecticut this past spring — on the day its legislature made it the 17th state to do away with the death penalty.

The state of Georgia may have executed Troy Davis one year ago today, but I continue to see so much of Troy’s legacy reflected in our fight to end the death penalty worldwide.

Now it’s California’s turn. This November, we have an historic opportunity to pass a ballot initiative on the death penalty. Amnesty International has been a proud supporter of the campaign that has been heating up here. Our student and community activists have been busy gathering support for Prop 34, organizing events and activities to educate their communities about the sad reality of California’s flawed system and the chance we have to change things.

Pledge to vote YES on Prop 34 — replacing California’s death penalty with life without parole!

California could join the growing number of states turning their backs on the flawed death penalty system. Proposition 34 is a ballot initiative that will not only save the state $130 million a year, but it eliminates the risk of executing an innocent person forever!

Another Troy Davis could live right here. In fact, some say he already does. A man named Thomas Thompson was executed in 1998 amid serious doubts about his guilt. And five men sentenced to death under current California law were later cleared of the murder charges that put them on death row.1

We believe the death penalty is never the right answer. And as long as the death penalty is on the books, then we will always risk executing the innocent.

Ending the death penalty in California this year would not only be a resounding victory for human rights in our state, but will make a deep impact on the rest of the country.

But first, we need your support. We need your pledge. We need your vote in November.

See you at the polls,

William Butkus
Field Organizer, Western Region
Amnesty International USA

Suu Kyi In D.C.

Dear Gabriel,

I wish you could have been with me when Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Burmese opposition leader and former prisoner of conscience in Myanmar, electrified the Amnesty Rights Generation Town Hall this morning at Washington DC’s Newseum.

Today’s heart-stopping moments are too many to recount – here is a small sample:

Aung San Suu Kyi spoke with unflagging conviction and courage, filling me with pride for the role Amnesty supporters like you played in securing her release and sustaining her spirits over the last 23 years.
Alex Wagner, our moderator from MSNBC, recalled how as a child visiting family in Burma she drove by Daw Suu’s compound with a feeling of fear, admiration, and yearning.

The entire audience proclaimed ourselves “all Aung San Suu Kyi” and held up a mask with her picture on it; the next moment we each turned our mask over to reveal the faces of other prisoners of conscience who remain behind bars.

Indeed, it’s been a long road, yet our journey is not over. Strengthen our work – donate to Amnesty International.

Aung San Suu Kyi is free, but prisoners of conscience around the world are denied their basic freedoms. We take up their cases with equal vigor. It is what makes Amnesty unique, and necessary.

The reason Aung San Suu Kyi made time during her visit to the United States to join our Town Hall was precisely because she wanted to inspire legions of activists to work on behalf of other prisoners the way they worked for her.

As Amnesty supporters, you and I have the power to change the course of history, to right great wrongs.

Realize that power with me today – make a gift today and your impact will be doubled.

I’ve set a bold goal of inspiring 50,000 gifts this month during our annual Membership Drive. Thanks to a generous donor, we can match every dollar of your donation made before Sept. 30.

Political repression comes in many forms. Take the case of feminist Russian punk rock band Pussy Riot, so poignantly represented at today’s Town Hall meeting.

Last month, three members of Pussy Riot were convicted of “hooliganism on grounds of religious hatred” for playing a protest song in a cathedral. They are headed to a prison camp for two years.

Today, Pyotr and Gera Verzilov, the husband and 4-year old daughter of present-day prisoner of conscience Nadja Tolokonnikova from Pussy Riot, presented Daw Suu with a bouquet of flowers, as a torch passed from one generation of prisoners of conscience to the next.

Like Daw Suu’s imprisonment, the Pussy Riot conviction is a bitter blow to free speech. It reminds us never to take for granted the hard-fought human rights we have secured.

As long as people like the women of Pussy Riot are behind bars, we know what we must do. We must join and act for the greater good.

But Amnesty doesn’t work without you, so please, do your part to keep this movement strong – make a contribution to Amnesty International today.

In Solidarity,

Suzanne Nossel
Executive Director
Amnesty International USA

The Eyes of the World

From SEVA Foundation

A Solution in Sight

With over 34 years of experience focusing on the prevention of blindness, Seva builds sustainable eye care programs in places where millions of people suffer in darkness from cataract and other avoidable eye conditions. A staggering 80% of blindness is preventable, and Seva’s Center for Innovation in Eye Care has a solution. Through support from donors like you, we have created the Global Sight Network – and the plan is working!

Seva’s Global Sight Network includes many international, award winning, eye care institutions that serve as hubs for training and mentoring.

Our Network improves the performance of eye hospitals in regions where the need is greatest – places like Bangladesh, Ethiopia, and Tibet.

The goal is to build the capacity of 100 eye hospitals and to produce one million additional sight-restoring cataract surgeries on a sustainable basis.

This multinational project is the most comprehensive of its kind to address preventable blindness in the world, and the Global Sight Network is on its way toward the goal!

As of today, the Network is assisting over 40 hospitals in 11 countries. United in their goal, Network hospitals are now working as a team to increase outreach programs, get more eye care professionals trained, and to accomplish an additional one million cataract surgeries annually.

One of the first needs identified by the Network was that many hospitals lacked the key staff required to build high-quality, high-volume, cataract surgery programs.

The missing ingredient: ophthalmic assistants.

Today, young people around the world are being trained by Seva’s mentor institutions as ophthalmic assistants, many of them are young women in rural areas where job prospects were few. By receiving training, these young people are able to become valuable members in their communities are vital to the success of Seva’s campaign to restore eyesight to the millions who suffer from preventable blindness.

The unique efforts of Seva’s Global Sight Network are attracting the attention of Corporate donors such as Google and TOMS. Institutions like the Harvard Business School and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB), have joined with our donors in supporting this important work.

Recently, the Clinton Global Initiative featured Seva’s Global Sight Network as an example of a powerful strategy to overcome one of the world’s greatest injustices – preventable blindness.

With each new partner and supporter, Seva’s Global Sight Network comes closer to reaching our goal of one million additional sight restoring surgeries.

Help Seva bring eye care services to many of the world’s most underserved regions with your donation to Seva’s Sight Program today >

Read more articles and see additional photos at SEVA.

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