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Posts tagged ‘government’

Honoring Umar Cheema

updatedforwebumarHonoring Umar Cheema

Umar Cheema has set a new standard for courage and quality journalism in Pakistan, a country where reporters are routinely attacked and murdered.

As a reporter for Pakistan’s largest English-language daily, The News, he has been a resolute force in investigative journalism for more than a decade.

In 2010, he was kidnapped and brutally tortured for writing critical stories about the government. Since then, undaunted, he has churned out a steady stream of hard-hitting reports. He documented how car smugglers rake in huge profits without paying taxes. He mined data to expose how top lawmakers spend little time in Parliament working on legislation.

Two years ago, Cheema founded the Center for Investigative Reporting in Pakistan. In its initial report, he analyzed the tax records of 446 lawmakers and ministers. He discovered that nearly 70 percent of legislators did not file income taxes in 2011, including President Asif Ali Zardari. After his story ran, the government instituted rules forcing candidates in contested elections to submit tax returns and charged tax shirkers a penalty for past evasions.

Cheema has received numerous awards for his courage and reporting, including the 2011 International Press Freedom Award from the Committee to Protect Journalists. In 2008, he won a Daniel Pearl Fellowship, becoming the first Pearl fellow to work at The New York Times.

He holds a Master’s Degree in Mass Communication from Punjab University in Lahore, Pakistan. He also attended the London School of Economics where he received a Master of Sciences Degree in Comparative Politics (Conflict Studies).

From Guess who came for lunch? A different kind of Mujahid of Pakistan in DC
Sayyid M. Syeed

Icons of Wild America

Icons of Wild America

Gray wolves are icons of wild America, but the Obama administration’s Department of the Interior is on the verge of stripping most of them of their protections under the Endangered Species Act. This would be catastrophic.

Tell the Obama administration not to turn its back on wolves.

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Forty years ago, wolves were on the brink of being hunted to extinction. They were saved by the Endangered Species Act, which allowed them to begin to flourish again in the mountains and forests of the United States, in places like Yellowstone National Park and the northern woods of Michigan.

Wolves still have a long way to go, but they’re making a comeback. Now that comeback is in danger.

If the federal government goes ahead with its plans, wolf management will be turned over to the states. This has already happened in the Northern Rockies and it’s been a disaster – over 1,700 wolves have been ruthlessly hunted down and killed in just the last two years. If wolves are stripped of their protections, we could see this happen in parts of the United States where their comeback is still in its early, fragile stages.

The recovery of gray wolves is one of the great conservation victories of the last 50 years, but the job isn’t done. To abandon wolves now would be an enormous tragedy for wolves and for their forest habitats — and for us.

Don’t let the Obama administration abandon wolves — send a message today.

Thank you for everything you do for our wild America,

Michael Brune
Sierra Club Executive Director

Journalists In Syria

Dear Gabriel,

W1306EDMNA1At least 36 journalists reporting on human rights abuses in Syria have been detained, disappeared, tortured and killed.

That’s the finding of an Amnesty International investigative report — Shooting the Messenger — which is calling worldwide attention to the cases of journalists attacked or imprisoned by government and opposition forces since the uprising in Syria began.

As part of Syrian government repression of critical voices, award-winning journalist Mazen Darwish and two of his colleagues are currently facing trial on terrorism charges, apparently intended to punish their peaceful, legitimate freedom of expression-related activities.

The Syrian government detained the three men over a year ago and held them incommunicado for several months. In prison, they are reported to have been subjected to torture and other ill treatment.

Deliberate attacks on civilians, including journalists, are violations of the laws of war. Amnesty is pressuring Syrian authorities to drop the charges against Darwish and his colleagues and release immediately and unconditionally anyone held solely for exercising their right to freedom of expression, association and assembly.

We are also using our on-the-ground intelligence to pressure the Syrian government, the armed opposition groups and the international community to hold accountable those responsible for targeting civilians and otherwise violating the laws of war.

Can we count on your support? Donate now and help provide hope for Syrian journalists and people everywhere who face government oppression.

Sincerely,

Sunjeev Bery
Advocacy Director, Middle East North Africa
Amnesty International USA

Yahoo – ROP Grads In University!

From AMAKURU!
Rwandan orphan’s Project (ROP) Newsletter

by Jenny

Five ROP Grads Now In University

We are proud to announce that five recent ROP graduates have received government scholarships to university. These scholarships are extremely competitive so we are very proud of these young men for managing to win them – it means they are amongst the brightest in the country!

Three ROP graduates have just started their second year at university, two studying mechanical engineering and one studying teaching, in two of Kigali’s universities. Another has just started a course in media at the National University of Rwanda in Butare, while we just got word that the fifth young man has been offered a place studying engineering for the next school year.

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These young men have not had an easy start to their lives, but despite these difficulties they have performed extremely well at school and their achievement in gaining these competitive scholarships is even more impressive because of their hardships.

We are very proud that the ROP is nurturing some of Rwanda’s brightest children!

Since 201 55% of ROP’s secondary school graduates have received full government scholarships to university.

Help ROP help others. DONATE

Solutions for Children In Reach

Dear Gabriel,

The resources that could save nearly 11 million children’s lives are not high-cost, not high-tech, and not uncommon. So what are they? Tragically out of reach.

Tell Congress to invest in the world’s children.

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Saving lives is as simple as a vaccine, a mosquito net, or an antibiotic. Saving lives is as simple as a standard doctor’s appointment and access to run-of-the-mill medicine. Saving lives is as simple as Congress continuing to support global development programs that keep young children alive.

The truth is, we have the power to end preventable child deaths within a generation–but we need to start now. When 21 children under the age of five die each minute, every second matters.

As the U.S. government’s next fiscal year approaches, so will a new budget. Congress has a wonderful history of supporting global child survival programs. Let’s keep it that way. Don’t let Congress call it quits on the world’s children.

Tell Congress that you BELIEVE in ending preventable child deaths!

Thank you for taking action,

Kara F.
Care2 and ThePetitionSite Team

Syrias’ Living Hell

Dear Gabriel,

W1303EDMNA1For millions of women, children and families in Syria, home has become hell.

Last week Amnesty investigators briefed me on the latest developments in that violence-wracked nation.

To say things are dire is an understatement.

Please make an urgent donation to Amnesty so we can continue to shine a light on human rights violations in Syria and around the world.

Our research team reports that:

Government forces have bombed entire neighborhoods, indiscriminately blowing up civilians. Recent attacks with long-range surface-to-surface missiles have targeted residential areas, killing entire families. Investigators in one case found only the severed arm of a child in the rubble — all that remained of one family.

In Aleppo, a seemingly endless procession of murdered men and boys — bound and shot in the head — is pulled from the river nearly every day.

While government forces continue to be overwhelmingly responsible for the death and suffering of civilians, armed opposition groups have escalated their abuses. Researchers in Damascus have identified a mass grave, filled with the bodies of children and others accused of helping the government. Local residents call it “the hole of death.”

More than 2 million Syrians have been displaced inside their own country. They face the threat of a second round of bombing in the new places where they have taken shelter.

Amnesty’s team is working on the ground, at enormous personal risk, to document and report these abuses. We cannot allow the world to avert its eyes from this human catastrophe.

At the global level, we are pressing countries in the European Union to make good on promises to provide emergency refugee assistance, and reminding Syria’s neighbors of their obligations to help refugees under international law. We continue to pressure governments and the United Nations Security Council to hold those responsible for slaughtering civilians accountable.

With every passing hour of indecision by the international community, the death toll in Syria rises. You have to ask, how many more civilians must die before the world takes action?

Please help today.

Sincerely,

Sunjeev Bery
Advocacy Director, Middle East North Africa
Amnesty International USA

Washington State Wolves

Dear Gabriel,

It took animal activists five years of dedication and persistance to pass legislation to preserve the recovering wolf population in Washington State. The “State Wolf Conservation and Management Plan” has helped protect Washington’s wolves and start their comeback. Now that success is just over the horizon, two bills pending in the state legislature are trying to gut the plan and undo all its hard-won progress.

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S.B. 1588 and S.B. 5193 would allow livestock owners and their agents to kill wolves without any permit or permission – even if they were endangered, even if they were not attacking any livestock. The bills would also strip the State Wildlife Agency of all wolf management and killing authority, moving it down to local county officials.

We cannot allow all the hard work of Washington’s animal activists to be undone. Send a message today to urge Washington’s legislature to oppose to S.B. 1588 and S.B. 5193, and protect Washington’s wolves.

Thank you for all that you do,

Jason N.
Care2 and ThePetitionSite Team

Horrifying Violence Against Women

Dear Gabriel,

Violence against women is a horrifying, serious problem nationwide. In some countries, 7 in 10 women will be beaten, raped, abused, or mutilated in their lifetimes. These aren’t just numbers — these are mothers, sisters, daughters, lovers, and friends who face real danger every day.

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In the United States, we’re lucky in some respects. Our Congress just passed the Violence Against Women Act, although it took months of using the lives of women and girls as political leverage to do it. But millions of American women are still suffering from rape, domestic abuse, and sexual violence — and signing a bill won’t be enough unless our leaders take necessary action.

We also must act in solidarity with women around the world who face direct violence at the hands of their own country’s police and government forces. If we don’t demand that our leaders stand up for their protection, who will?

On International Women’s Day this past Friday, it was great to remember how far we’ve come. But we must not forget how far we have to go.

Ask President Obama and leaders around the world to take steps to end violence against women.

Thank you for taking action,

Kathleen
Care2 and ThePetitionSite Team

Our Son’s Take On Guns

Our son wrote this for an English Class at college and turned it in yesterday morning. He titled it Locking Up the Guns. Coincidentally, two police officers were shot and killed (as was the assailant) later that day during a domestic violence situation, just blocks from where we live in Santa Cruz. It is the first time a police officer has been killed in the line of duty in this cities history.

Shona Blumeneau
English 2
2/27/13

Locking Up the Guns

BANG! A large crack pierced through the morning fog. Chaos erupted in the swamp, as I pulled the trigger on the Ruger semi-automatic .22 long rifle. A flock of birds flew through the sky but one remained, the one I had mercilessly gunned down just moments before. My cousin and I ran over to the bird and examined the stagnant creature. I stood there, thinking about how easy it had just been to kill something, while my cousin congratulated me on my first shot. He was the gun enthusiast, not me. This was my first time hunting, and after this experience, probably the last. Guns do more damage than they do good.

I have never lived in a dangerous neighborhood, but even if I did I would not resort to buying a gun for protection. Yes, they can defend you from attackers, burglars, etc., but I am not ready to kill someone with the blink of an eye, and I don’t think many other people are either. Possessing a gun causes much more problems than it does solutions.

If we were to take away guns people would still find ways to kill each other, but the number of deaths would decrease significantly. In 2008 there were roughly 16,272 murders committed in the United States. Sixty-seven percent of those were committed with a firearm. A 1993 nationwide survey of 4,977 households found that over the previous five years, 0.5% of households had members who had used a gun for defense during a situation in which they thought someone “almost certainly would have been killed” if they “had not used a gun for protection.” Zero point 5 is a pretty insignificant number stacked against the amount of people who die from a firearm each year.

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Having a gun does not protect you. Having a gun gives an intruder a reason to shoot you, because they’re worried that you’re going to shoot them. If you’re unarmed, why would someone want to hurt you? Criminals may be stupid, but they’re usually not completely insane. They may take your computer, or whatever criminals take these days, and then go away. If it’s just a plain burglary, the police will file a report and forget about it, and the criminal gets away. If they shoot someone, there’s a murder investigation and the criminal goes to prison. The way gun advocates characterize society as a violent conflict between criminals and innocent people simply does not reflect reality. Theoretically, someone might break into your house just to attack you or your family, but the odds of that happening are less than being struck by lightning.

Only two countries in the world consider owning a gun a basic human right, the United States and Yemen, and even Yemen is starting to have second thoughts. From the UN’s Small Arms Survey: “Only two—the United States and Yemen—is ownership of firearms a citizen’s basic right. Figures published in the Small Arms Survey 2007 show that the USA and Yemen also have the highest rates of firearms per civilian, with an estimated 90 guns per 100 people in the US, and 55 in Yemen.” Why does America have this crazy obsession with guns? No, I’m not blaming video games or rap music. Let’s take a look at the second amendment.

Many US citizens still believe strongly in the amendment that states, “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” First of all, what states need protecting at the moment? The third amendment, that said the military could stay in private homes was thrown out, as it did not pertain to what was going on anymore. So why not the second amendment? There’s no intruders in the states that citizens are going to go hunt down, and the government has not become tyrannical (part of the reason for the second amendment, if the government ever became a dictatorship the people could rebel). The only people this right should belong to are those of the militia, as stated in the amendment. Just like the right to free speech, the government can limit people’s right to bear arms.

Only the most extreme pro-gun advocate would argue that a paroled violent offender with a standing restraining order to keep away from his ex-wife has the right to carry a fully-automatic machine gun. But similarly, only the most extreme anti-gun advocates believe that people should not be allowed to carry single-shot rifles when hunting deer on their own land.

If someone claims that the 2nd amendment gives them the right to carry a concealed weapon, they are full of it. You should ask them to point to the language in the 2nd amendment that specifically allows for concealed carry but prohibits violent felons owning machine guns. We have to keep in mind that people who wrote the second amendment owned slaves and oppressed women. Times were much different when the constitution was written, and things have changed since then. We no longer have slaves. Women have equal rights. There’s no longer a need to carry a weapon.

There is especially no need to carry a thirty-clip weapon. Incidents like Columbine or Sandy Hook could have been much less catastrophic if the men had to take time to stop to reload. This is what happened with the Gabby Gifford’s shooting. The assailant, Jared Lee Loughner, shot down nine people, injuring eighteen total, and was only stopped when he had to take a moment to reload his weapon and was tackled to the ground by a bystander, who was injured in doing so. This attack could have been much, much worse if he had had a larger clip. I cannot see a reason why someone would need a clip larger than ten for hunting or protection. Lowering the amount of rounds a gun can hold could easily lower the amount of deaths in the US.

Let me paint you a picture: Chris, a five year old boy living in a small suburban neighborhood, gets off the school bus after a fun day in class. He goes into his house where his mom stands. She asks how his day was, he says “fine”, she asks what he did, he says “nothing” and he goes to his room to play. After a while he gets bored and decides to explore his house a little. He goes into his parents’ bedroom, a place he’s been a hundred times early in the morning to snuggle up with his mom and dad, and starts looking around. Eventually he finds his way to the closet, and inside he finds a box. He opens the box, curious, and finds a handgun. He’s never seen one before and wonders what it does, so he fiddles around with it. All of the sudden, BAM, the gun goes off. Chris’ mother runs to the room only to see a pool of blood coming from the closet, and comes to the horrible realization that her only child is dead.

This may seem drastic, but it happens more often then you’d think. In the New England Journal of Medicine a study was put out that found 18 children die from gun related incidents every day. This makes guns the second leading cause of death in young people – twice the number of deaths from cancer. I find that to be a staggering number coming from a well developed first world country. I read an article the other day about a doctor, who were haunted by the death of one of her patients, a twelve year old boy who went on an errand for his mother and was caught in the cross-fire of a gun battle. The boy had shortly before written a letter to his mother expressing his desire to become a doctor.

Raped In Somalia – Go To Jail.

Dear Friends,

My name is Laila and I’m a journalist. I recently wrote a story about a young woman brutally gang-raped by government soldiers in Somalia, hoping that her bravery in telling such a painful story would bring attention to the awful rape problem there. Instead, the government used my article to jail a rape victim and another journalist covering the story for ‘insulting the state’!

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Rape is horrific, but to be raped when the only authorities you can turn to for justice are your rapists — it’s the most crushing powerlessness. But together I think we can bring her hope. That’s why I started a global petition on the Avaaz site, because Somalia’s government depends heavily on financing from other governments, so the international community can press them to stop the cover up and bring real reforms to end the epidemic of rape by security forces.

Our call for change could really work, but it needs to be big. UN envoy Zainab Bangura has told us that she will directly deliver our petition to donor countries and Somalia’s President. Help by signing and forwarding this email — let’s show these women that they’re not alone, and that no one has the authority to rape them:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/petition/Somalia_No_Authority_to_Rape/?bMPbqab&v=22221

The brave young woman was accused of fabricating her own rape by government officials before she even got a trial. Then, the judge refused to hear witnesses or accept medical evidence proving that she was raped. And she’s not alone: I’ve interviewed too many women who live in constant fear of getting shot or raped, often by the very people charged with protecting them.

But there is hope for Somalia like never before. In just 18 months, it has approved a new constitution, selected a new president, and is finally winning its war against extremists. President Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud is in a position to act to protect women from his own armed forces, if we together give him a big reason to crack down on this state violence.

This innocent rape survivor and Abdiaziz Abdinur, the journalist who spoke to her, are facing a year in jail! Funders hold the key to changing the way Somalia’s own soldiers and security forces treat women. Sign now and forward this email to help grow a call big enough to change Somalia forever:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/petition/Somalia_No_Authority_to_Rape/?bMPbqab&v=22221

The Avaaz community has fought courageously to stop the war on women across the world. Last month, more than 1 million of us signed a petition calling for justice and real change in India after the tragic death of a rape victim in Delhi, and received encouraging signs from top government ministers that they were heeding our call. Now, we can bring that people power to Somalia and set the country on a new course.

WIth hope and determination,

Laila Ali, with the Avaaz team

*Laila is a British-Somali journalist based in Nairobi

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