political censorship

Our campaign in Wyoming to end the political censorship of world-class science standards that include climate science is gaining increasing national attention. More and more Wyomingites are speaking out for the right of our kids to have access to the highest quality science standards, free from political, economic and ideological censorship.
Those responsible for the anti-science legislation are on the defensive. They’ve been telling anyone who will listen that “outside interests” are stirring things up and that they speak for Wyoming parents and citizens, despite working hand in glove with a national group that has been campaigning against Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) across the country.
It’s time to tell Wyoming legislators and Governor Mead in clear terms that they weren’t speaking for us when they used a sneaky maneuver – a footnote amendment to the state budget bill — to stop the Board of Education from adopting the best science education available to Wyoming kids.
Please sign our letter to Wyoming legislators and Governor Mead today: 
http://act.engagementlab.org/sign/WYSci_letter/?source=change
Here’s the choice facing Wyoming. We can move forward with 21st-century science standards that have been developed and recommended by leading science educators from Wyoming and throughout the country. Or we can allow ideological groups who don’t accept the findings of science to hobble our kids’ educations.
Let’s show state legislators and Governor Mead there’s a groundswell of public support to repeal this offensive footnote that stifles science education in Wyoming. The future prospects for Wyoming students are on the line.
Two state legislators (Rep. Hutchings and Rep. Reeder) told the State Board of Education that the Legislature was representing the will of their constituents when they voted to prohibit the Board from even considering the NGSS. Yet, there was no public discussion when the footnote was passed in the 2014 Legislature. It’s time for that discussion now.
Let’s tell those who claim to represent Wyoming citizens that we want great science standards. If the anti-science groups and legislators are not speaking for you by denying Wyoming kids a world-class science education, please add your name to our letter, and share it with everyone you know.
Thank you for taking action!
Sincerely,
Cate Cabot, Mom and Climate Parents member 
Kelly, WY
Marguerite Herman, Mom and Climate Parents member 
Cheyenne, WY
Our campaign in Wyoming to end the political censorship of world-class science standards that include climate science is gaining increasing national attention. More and more Wyomingites are speaking out for the right of our kids to have access to the highest quality science standards, free from political, economic and ideological censorship.
Those responsible for the anti-science legislation are on the defensive. They’ve been telling anyone who will listen that “outside interests” are stirring things up and that they speak for Wyoming parents and citizens, despite working hand in glove with a national group that has been campaigning against Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) across the country.
It’s time to tell Wyoming legislators and Governor Mead in clear terms that they weren’t speaking for us when they used a sneaky maneuver – a footnote amendment to the state budget bill -- to stop the Board of Education from adopting the best science education available to Wyoming kids.
Please sign our letter to Wyoming legislators and Governor Mead today: 
http://act.engagementlab.org/sign/WYSci_letter/?source=change
Here’s the choice facing Wyoming. We can move forward with 21st-century science standards that have been developed and recommended by leading science educators from Wyoming and throughout the country. Or we can allow ideological groups who don't accept the findings of science to hobble our kids’ educations.
Let's show state legislators and Governor Mead there’s a groundswell of public support to repeal this offensive footnote that stifles science education in Wyoming. The future prospects for Wyoming students are on the line.
Two state legislators (Rep. Hutchings and Rep. Reeder) told the State Board of Education that the Legislature was representing the will of their constituents when they voted to prohibit the Board from even considering the NGSS. Yet, there was no public discussion when the footnote was passed in the 2014 Legislature. It’s time for that discussion now.
Let’s tell those who claim to represent Wyoming citizens that we want great science standards. If the anti-science groups and legislators are not speaking for you by denying Wyoming kids a world-class science education, please add your name to our letter, and share it with everyone you know.
Thank you for taking action!
Sincerely,
Cate Cabot, Mom and Climate Parents member 
Kelly, WY
Marguerite Herman, Mom and Climate Parents member 
Cheyenne, WY

Nakusa

Jan. 26, 2014 9:12 AM EST

NEW DELHI (AP) — In the hours after her 6-year-old daughter was kidnapped, screaming in terror as she was dragged away from home, Rimaila Awungshi appealed for help from the most powerful authority she knew — the council of elders in her rural Indian village.

In her anguish, Awungshi told the village leaders what happened. She was a single mother to a beloved little girl named Yinring, whose name translates as «living in God’s shelter.» Her ex-boyfriend had refused to marry her or care for their child. But as the years passed and he never found a wife, his family demanded custody.

«But I am poor, and I have no brothers, and the village authority doesn’t care,» Awungshi said in a telephone interview from her home in remote northeast India.

Across much of rural India, these powerful and deeply conservative local councils are the law of the land. They serve as judge and jury, dictating everything from custody cases to how women should dress to whether young lovers deserve to live or die.

They often enforce strict social norms about marriage and gender roles.

These unelected and unregulated courts now are coming under fresh scrutiny after police say a council of elders in West Bengal ordered the gang rape of a 20-year-old woman as punishment for falling in love with the man from a different community.

«We are going back to the 16th century,» Pradip Bhattacharya, a politician in West Bengal, said this week as news of the gang rape began to spread in a country already reeling from a string of high-profile cases of sexual violence against women.

Village councils are common in India with vast rural communities, serving as the only practical means of delivering justice in areas where local governments are either too far away or too ineffective to mediate disputes. Often, the elders try to halt the march of the modern world, enforcing strict social norms about marriage and gender roles.

In some of the most extreme cases, the councils have sanctioned so-called honor killings, usually against women suspected of out-of-wedlock sex. Known as khap panchayats in northern India, the councils act with impunity because villagers risk being ostracized if they flout the rulings.

The courts can be especially harsh toward women, enforcing the most conservative aspects a patriarchal system that is deeply entrenched in Indian society.


5 January 2013 Last updated at 01:07 GMT

Violence against women is deeply entrenched in the feudal, patriarchal Indian society, where for the rapist, every woman is fair game.

In 2003, the country was shamed when a 28-year-old Swiss diplomat was forced into her own car by two men in south Delhi’s posh Siri Fort area and raped by one of them. The rapist, whom she described as being fluent in English, spoke to her about Switzerland and is believed to have even lectured her on Indian culture.

Ms Jaisingh says that just drafting a better law will not be enough, it is society which has to change.

«There is no magic formula to deal with the problem of rape. There’s a bias that operates in the mind of decision makers – stereotyping women, blaming the victim, trying to find out if she invited the rape.»

But every once in a while, an incident happens which ignites a spark.

The first such incident in India occurred in 1972 when Mathura, a 16-year-old tribal girl, was raped by two policemen inside a police station.

The courts set free the accused – they said she did not raise an alarm, she was not injured, and since she was sexually active, she would have «voluntarily» consented to sex.

Howls of angry protests from activists led to the government amending the anti-rape law in 1983 to accommodate the provision that if a victim says that she did not consent to sex, the court will believe her.

The outpouring of anger and grief after the recent Delhi incident has also given rise to hopes that things are about to change in India.

The government has formed a committee under retired Supreme Court Justice JS Verma to take a fresh look at the anti-rape law.

Justice Verma has invited suggestion from the public and his inbox is reported to be full of demands for the death penalty and chemical castration for rapists. Many are also calling for longer jail sentences of up to 30 years or even life in jail.

But campaigners say laws alone may not be able to solve the problem in a society which treats its women as «second-class citizens» and regards them inferior to men.

They say until social attitudes change and women are respected and treated as equals, the gains from the protests will be shortlived.


She was 23, with dreams of being a doctor. But two weeks ago, she was gang raped by six men, savagely beaten and thrown out of a moving bus in Delhi. The still unnamed woman who has become “India’s daughter” just died of her injuries in hospital. 
Namita Bhandare knows the constant fear that goes with living in Delhi, nicknamed India’s “rape capital”. Like others, she long believed that nothing would change. But the outpouring of anger and sadness now hasconvinced her that this could be a turning point for women like her.
The tragedy has sparked vigils and protests, and over 100,000 Indians have already signed Namita’s petition to the Prime Minister. As the story reverberates around the world, being covered by every major news outlet, there’s a chance for Americans to help show the Indian Prime Minister that their international reputation is on the line if they fail to act.
The story of “India’s daughter” has sparked deep grief and fury across India. Grief for her horrifying ordeal, and fury that politicians have ignored the huge problem of rape and sexual violence against women for so long. 
According to crime statistics, a woman is raped every 22 minutes, and most rapists are never prosecuted. Women are often blamed for their own rapes, police refuse to hear reports from victims, and some women report being harassed by the very authorities they hope will protect them. 
Politicians are being faced with some uncomfortable truths. But Namita says that unless people seize this moment of national consciousness, the chance to change anything will slip away. That’s why she’s asking for global support to show the world is watching.
Thanks for being a part of this,
Kristiane and the Change.org team


Prawesh Lama & Bhuvan Bagga

Read more at: http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/a-woman-is-raped-every-18-hrs-in-delhi/1/125779.html

This is what you feared but hoped was not true – crime-prone Delhi has turned against women, making them the target of assault each day. There are hard facts to prove this.

New figures released by the Delhi Police reveal that a woman is raped every 18 hours or molested every 14 hours in the Capital. Shockingly, the majority of the attackers are below 25 years.
The crime graph is heading north. Expect it to rise further in 2011, says Delhi Police commissioner Brijesh Kumar Gupta.

Girl molested every 14 hrs in Delhi.
A girl is molested every 14 hours in Delhi.

The number of rape cases in the city increased in 2010 over the previous year. In 2009 there were 459 cases of rape reported across the city, while in 2010 the figure was 489. This roughly translates to one rape case every 18 hours.

Provocation for murders.
Provocation for murders.

The cases of molestation of women have also increased in 2010. While there were 528 cases of molestation in 2009, such cases went up to 585 in 2010 – or once every 14 hours. Police investigations have established that the attackers were overwhelmingly from within the circle of family and acquaintances of the victims. Of the persons arrested for rape, only 4 per cent were strangers and 96 per cent were known to victim or her family.
A staggering 56 per cent accused in rape cases were below the age of 25. Similarly in molestation cases, 92 per cent accused were known to the victims. Of the 765 accused arrested, 58 per cent were below the age of 25, the police figures show.
Police chief Gupta said the rise in crime figures in the coming months will also be the result of higher registration of cases to make sure that criminals are pursued and caught.
Acknowledging how the non-registration of cases has played a key role in suppressing the crime rate in the city, the police commissioner felt this also allowed criminals to go scot free.
«The Delhi Police have a detection rate of 87.86 per cent in heinous crimes,» Gupta said, adding that the registration of cases will mean that the police would have to investigate and bring criminals to task. This would go a long way in making Delhi a safer place for women.


29 December 2012 Last updated at 12:39 GMT

Thousands of people have joined peaceful protests in India’s capital, Delhi, following the death of a woman who was gang-raped in the city.

The 23-year old woman, who has not been identified, died of her injuries on Saturday in Singapore, where she had been taken for specialist treatment.

Six men arrested in connection with the rape have now been charged with murder.

The attack on 16 December triggered violent public protests over attitudes towards women in India.

Two police officers have already been suspended.

There has also been an angry reaction in the Indian media, with one editorial in the Times of India calling for wider changes in society and an awareness that as well as attacks on the street, there are «a thousand unheard voices» of women who face sexual violence at home.

Our correspondent says that over the past two weeks, the anonymous woman has became a symbol of a much larger cause than her own, with protesters focusing on the wider issue of how women are treated in India.

Even after her funeral, the sentiment will continue, he adds, with the public pushing the government to take steps to make people feel more confident about the way women are treated.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said he was «very saddened» by the woman’s death, and that the angry public reaction was «perfectly understandable».

«It would be a true homage to her memory if we are able to channel these emotions and energies into a constructive course of action,» he said in a statement.

He called on politicians and the public to set aside «narrow sectional interest» and work together to make India «a demonstrably better and safer place for women to live in».

The woman – a medical student – and her friend had been to see a film when they boarded the bus in the Munirka area of Delhi, intending to travel to Dwarka in the south-west of the city.

Police said she was raped for nearly an hour, and both she and her companion were beaten with iron bars, then thrown out of the moving bus into the street.

The assault sparked angry protests about the general conditions for women in India, and about what is seen as an inadequate police response to rape allegations.


MUMBAI, India (AP) — More than 200 Indian girls whose names mean «unwanted» in Hindi have chosen new names for a fresh start in life.
A central Indian district held a renaming ceremony Saturday that it hopes will give the girls new dignity and help fight widespreadgender discrimination that gives India a skewed gender ratio, with far more boys than girls.
The 285 girls — wearing their best outfits with barrettes, braids and bows in their hair — lined up to receive certificates with their new names along with small flower bouquets from Satara district officials in Maharashtra state.
In shedding names like «Nakusa» or «Nakushi,» which mean «unwanted» in Hindi, some girls chose to name themselves after Bollywood stars such as «Aishwarya» or Hindu goddesses like «Savitri.» Some just wanted traditional names with happier meanings, such as «Vaishali,» or «prosperous, beautiful and good.»
«Now in school, my classmates and friends will be calling me this new name, and that makes me very happy,» said a 15-year-old girl who had been named Nakusa by a grandfather disappointed by her birth. She chose the new name «Ashmita,» which means «very tough» or «rock hard» in Hindi.
The plight of girls in India came to a focus after this year’s census showed the nation’s sex ratio had dropped over the past decade from 927 girls for every 1,000 boys under the age of 6 to 914.
Maharashtra state’s ratio is well below that, with just 883 girls for every 1,000 boys — down from 913 a decade ago. In the district of Satara, it is even lower, at 881.
Such ratios are the result of abortions of female fetuses, or just sheer neglect leading to a higher death rate among girls. The problem is so serious in India that hospitals are legally banned from revealing the gender of an unborn fetus in order to prevent sex-selective abortions, though evidence suggests the information gets out.
Part of the reason Indians favor sons is the enormous expense of marrying off girls. Families often go into debt arranging marriages and paying for elaborate dowries. A boy, on the other hand, will one day bring home a bride and dowry. Hindu custom also dictates that only sons can light their parents’ funeral pyres.
Over the years, and again now, efforts have been made to fight the discrimination.
«Nakusa is a very negative name as far as female discrimination is concerned,» said Satara district health officer Dr. Bhagwan Pawar, who came up with the idea for the renaming ceremony.
Other incentives, announced by federal or state governments every few years, include free meals and free education to encourage people to take care of their girls, and even cash bonuses for families with girls who graduate from high school.
Activists say the name «unwanted,» which is widely given to girls across India, gives them the feeling they are worthless and a burden.
«When the child thinks about it, you know, ‘My mom, my dad, and all my relatives and society call me unwanted,’ she will feel very bad and depressed,» said Sudha Kankaria of the organization Save the Girl Child. But giving these girls new names is only the beginning, she said.
«We have to take care of the girls, their education and even financial and social security, or again the cycle is going to repeat,» she said.





Jan. 26, 2014 9:12 AM EST

NEW DELHI (AP) — In the hours after her 6-year-old daughter was kidnapped, screaming in terror as she was dragged away from home, Rimaila Awungshi appealed for help from the most powerful authority she knew — the council of elders in her rural Indian village.

In her anguish, Awungshi told the village leaders what happened. She was a single mother to a beloved little girl named Yinring, whose name translates as "living in God's shelter." Her ex-boyfriend had refused to marry her or care for their child. But as the years passed and he never found a wife, his family demanded custody.

"But I am poor, and I have no brothers, and the village authority doesn't care," Awungshi said in a telephone interview from her home in remote northeast India.

Across much of rural India, these powerful and deeply conservative local councils are the law of the land. They serve as judge and jury, dictating everything from custody cases to how women should dress to whether young lovers deserve to live or die.

They often enforce strict social norms about marriage and gender roles.

These unelected and unregulated courts now are coming under fresh scrutiny after police say a council of elders in West Bengal ordered the gang rape of a 20-year-old woman as punishment for falling in love with the man from a different community.

"We are going back to the 16th century," Pradip Bhattacharya, a politician in West Bengal, said this week as news of the gang rape began to spread in a country already reeling from a string of high-profile cases of sexual violence against women.

Village councils are common in India with vast rural communities, serving as the only practical means of delivering justice in areas where local governments are either too far away or too ineffective to mediate disputes. Often, the elders try to halt the march of the modern world, enforcing strict social norms about marriage and gender roles.

In some of the most extreme cases, the councils have sanctioned so-called honor killings, usually against women suspected of out-of-wedlock sex. Known as khap panchayats in northern India, the councils act with impunity because villagers risk being ostracized if they flout the rulings.

The courts can be especially harsh toward women, enforcing the most conservative aspects a patriarchal system that is deeply entrenched in Indian society.



5 January 2013 Last updated at 01:07 GMT

Violence against women is deeply entrenched in the feudal, patriarchal Indian society, where for the rapist, every woman is fair game.

In 2003, the country was shamed when a 28-year-old Swiss diplomat was forced into her own car by two men in south Delhi's posh Siri Fort area and raped by one of them. The rapist, whom she described as being fluent in English, spoke to her about Switzerland and is believed to have even lectured her on Indian culture.




Ms Jaisingh says that just drafting a better law will not be enough, it is society which has to change.

"There is no magic formula to deal with the problem of rape. There's a bias that operates in the mind of decision makers - stereotyping women, blaming the victim, trying to find out if she invited the rape."

But every once in a while, an incident happens which ignites a spark.

The first such incident in India occurred in 1972 when Mathura, a 16-year-old tribal girl, was raped by two policemen inside a police station.

The courts set free the accused - they said she did not raise an alarm, she was not injured, and since she was sexually active, she would have "voluntarily" consented to sex.

Howls of angry protests from activists led to the government amending the anti-rape law in 1983 to accommodate the provision that if a victim says that she did not consent to sex, the court will believe her.

The outpouring of anger and grief after the recent Delhi incident has also given rise to hopes that things are about to change in India.

The government has formed a committee under retired Supreme Court Justice JS Verma to take a fresh look at the anti-rape law.

Justice Verma has invited suggestion from the public and his inbox is reported to be full of demands for the death penalty and chemical castration for rapists. Many are also calling for longer jail sentences of up to 30 years or even life in jail.

But campaigners say laws alone may not be able to solve the problem in a society which treats its women as "second-class citizens" and regards them inferior to men.

They say until social attitudes change and women are respected and treated as equals, the gains from the protests will be shortlived.



She was 23, with dreams of being a doctor. But two weeks ago, she was gang raped by six men, savagely beaten and thrown out of a moving bus in Delhi. The still unnamed woman who has become “India’s daughter” just died of her injuries in hospital. 
Namita Bhandare knows the constant fear that goes with living in Delhi, nicknamed India’s “rape capital”. Like others, she long believed that nothing would change. But the outpouring of anger and sadness now hasconvinced her that this could be a turning point for women like her.
The tragedy has sparked vigils and protests, and over 100,000 Indians have already signed Namita's petition to the Prime Minister. As the story reverberates around the world, being covered by every major news outlet, there's a chance for Americans to help show the Indian Prime Minister that their international reputation is on the line if they fail to act.
The story of “India’s daughter” has sparked deep grief and fury across India. Grief for her horrifying ordeal, and fury that politicians have ignored the huge problem of rape and sexual violence against women for so long. 
According to crime statistics, a woman is raped every 22 minutes, and most rapists are never prosecuted. Women are often blamed for their own rapes, police refuse to hear reports from victims, and some women report being harassed by the very authorities they hope will protect them. 
Politicians are being faced with some uncomfortable truths. But Namita says that unless people seize this moment of national consciousness, the chance to change anything will slip away. That’s why she’s asking for global support to show the world is watching.
Thanks for being a part of this,
Kristiane and the Change.org team



Prawesh Lama & Bhuvan Bagga

Read more at: http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/a-woman-is-raped-every-18-hrs-in-delhi/1/125779.html





This is what you feared but hoped was not true - crime-prone Delhi has turned against women, making them the target of assault each day. There are hard facts to prove this.

New figures released by the Delhi Police reveal that a woman is raped every 18 hours or molested every 14 hours in the Capital. Shockingly, the majority of the attackers are below 25 years.
The crime graph is heading north. Expect it to rise further in 2011, says Delhi Police commissioner Brijesh Kumar Gupta.
Girl molested every 14 hrs in Delhi.
A girl is molested every 14 hours in Delhi.
The number of rape cases in the city increased in 2010 over the previous year. In 2009 there were 459 cases of rape reported across the city, while in 2010 the figure was 489. This roughly translates to one rape case every 18 hours.
Provocation for murders.
Provocation for murders.
The cases of molestation of women have also increased in 2010. While there were 528 cases of molestation in 2009, such cases went up to 585 in 2010 - or once every 14 hours. Police investigations have established that the attackers were overwhelmingly from within the circle of family and acquaintances of the victims. Of the persons arrested for rape, only 4 per cent were strangers and 96 per cent were known to victim or her family.
A staggering 56 per cent accused in rape cases were below the age of 25. Similarly in molestation cases, 92 per cent accused were known to the victims. Of the 765 accused arrested, 58 per cent were below the age of 25, the police figures show.
Police chief Gupta said the rise in crime figures in the coming months will also be the result of higher registration of cases to make sure that criminals are pursued and caught.
Acknowledging how the non-registration of cases has played a key role in suppressing the crime rate in the city, the police commissioner felt this also allowed criminals to go scot free.
"The Delhi Police have a detection rate of 87.86 per cent in heinous crimes," Gupta said, adding that the registration of cases will mean that the police would have to investigate and bring criminals to task. This would go a long way in making Delhi a safer place for women.




29 December 2012 Last updated at 12:39 GMT


Thousands of people have joined peaceful protests in India's capital, Delhi, following the death of a woman who was gang-raped in the city.

The 23-year old woman, who has not been identified, died of her injuries on Saturday in Singapore, where she had been taken for specialist treatment.



Six men arrested in connection with the rape have now been charged with murder.

The attack on 16 December triggered violent public protests over attitudes towards women in India.

Two police officers have already been suspended.

There has also been an angry reaction in the Indian media, with one editorial in the Times of India calling for wider changes in society and an awareness that as well as attacks on the street, there are "a thousand unheard voices" of women who face sexual violence at home.

Our correspondent says that over the past two weeks, the anonymous woman has became a symbol of a much larger cause than her own, with protesters focusing on the wider issue of how women are treated in India.

Even after her funeral, the sentiment will continue, he adds, with the public pushing the government to take steps to make people feel more confident about the way women are treated.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said he was "very saddened" by the woman's death, and that the angry public reaction was "perfectly understandable".

"It would be a true homage to her memory if we are able to channel these emotions and energies into a constructive course of action," he said in a statement.

He called on politicians and the public to set aside "narrow sectional interest" and work together to make India "a demonstrably better and safer place for women to live in".

The woman - a medical student - and her friend had been to see a film when they boarded the bus in the Munirka area of Delhi, intending to travel to Dwarka in the south-west of the city.

Police said she was raped for nearly an hour, and both she and her companion were beaten with iron bars, then thrown out of the moving bus into the street.

The assault sparked angry protests about the general conditions for women in India, and about what is seen as an inadequate police response to rape allegations.





MUMBAI, India (AP) — More than 200 Indian girls whose names mean "unwanted" in Hindi have chosen new names for a fresh start in life.
A central Indian district held a renaming ceremony Saturday that it hopes will give the girls new dignity and help fight widespreadgender discrimination that gives India a skewed gender ratio, with far more boys than girls.
The 285 girls — wearing their best outfits with barrettes, braids and bows in their hair — lined up to receive certificates with their new names along with small flower bouquets from Satara district officials in Maharashtra state.
In shedding names like "Nakusa" or "Nakushi," which mean "unwanted" in Hindi, some girls chose to name themselves after Bollywood stars such as "Aishwarya" or Hindu goddesses like "Savitri." Some just wanted traditional names with happier meanings, such as "Vaishali," or "prosperous, beautiful and good."
"Now in school, my classmates and friends will be calling me this new name, and that makes me very happy," said a 15-year-old girl who had been named Nakusa by a grandfather disappointed by her birth. She chose the new name "Ashmita," which means "very tough" or "rock hard" in Hindi.
The plight of girls in India came to a focus after this year's census showed the nation's sex ratio had dropped over the past decade from 927 girls for every 1,000 boys under the age of 6 to 914.
Maharashtra state's ratio is well below that, with just 883 girls for every 1,000 boys — down from 913 a decade ago. In the district of Satara, it is even lower, at 881.
Such ratios are the result of abortions of female fetuses, or just sheer neglect leading to a higher death rate among girls. The problem is so serious in India that hospitals are legally banned from revealing the gender of an unborn fetus in order to prevent sex-selective abortions, though evidence suggests the information gets out.
Part of the reason Indians favor sons is the enormous expense of marrying off girls. Families often go into debt arranging marriages and paying for elaborate dowries. A boy, on the other hand, will one day bring home a bride and dowry. Hindu custom also dictates that only sons can light their parents' funeral pyres.
Over the years, and again now, efforts have been made to fight the discrimination.
"Nakusa is a very negative name as far as female discrimination is concerned," said Satara district health officer Dr. Bhagwan Pawar, who came up with the idea for the renaming ceremony.
Other incentives, announced by federal or state governments every few years, include free meals and free education to encourage people to take care of their girls, and even cash bonuses for families with girls who graduate from high school.
Activists say the name "unwanted," which is widely given to girls across India, gives them the feeling they are worthless and a burden.
"When the child thinks about it, you know, 'My mom, my dad, and all my relatives and society call me unwanted,' she will feel very bad and depressed," said Sudha Kankaria of the organization Save the Girl Child. But giving these girls new names is only the beginning, she said.
"We have to take care of the girls, their education and even financial and social security, or again the cycle is going to repeat," she said.

women in Islam

The Iraqi Council of Representatives will vote to legalise Forced Child Marriage1.
The specifics of the legislation (part of the Jaafari Personal Status Law) are terrifying:

  • There will no longer be a minimum age to legally marry (it’s currently 18) but the law provides policies for divorcing a 9-year-old girl;
  • A girl’s father would legally be able to accept a marriage proposal on her behalf; and
  • The girl would be legally prohibited from resisting her husband’s advances and leaving the home without his permission.

It’s a recipe for a life in domestic and sexual slavery.

The law was sent to the Council of Representatives yesterday, and the vote could happen any time now. To prevent Iraq’s girls from becoming vulnerable to forced child marriage it is crucial that we act now.

Currently, Iraq has one of the most progressive policies on women’s rights in the Middle East — setting the legal marriage age at 18 and prohibiting forced marriage2.

Any minute now, the Iraqi Council of Representatives will vote to legalise forced child marriage. 1
The specifics of the legislation (part of the Jaafari Personal Status Law) are terrifying:
  • There will no longer be a minimum age to legally marry (it’s currently 18) but the law provides policies for divorcing a 9-year-old;
  • A girl’s father would legally be able to accept a marriage proposal; and
  • The girl would be legally prohibited from resisting her husband’s advances and leaving the home without his permission.
It’s a recipe for a life in domestic and sexual slavery.
Currently, Iraq has one of the most progressive policies on women’s rights in the Middle East — setting the legal marriage age at 18 and prohibiting forced marriage.2
Brave Iraqi women have been fighting against removing the minimum age for marriage, for their sake and for the sake of their daughters. Last month on International Women’s Day, countless women attended demonstrations in Baghdad protesting the Jaafari Personal Status Law. They called it the “Day of Mourning”.3
We may not have much time to stop Iraq from legalising forced child marriage and a lifetime of domestic and sexual slavery for girls and women. Call on the the Iraqi Council of Representatives to vote “no” to the Jaafari Personal Status Law today.


PUBLISHED: 14:41 GMT, 24 January 2013 | UPDATED: 14:42 GMT, 24 January 2013

Saudi Arabia’s feared morality police say they will not punish men who walk around in their underwear – but women still face harsh punishments if they violate strict laws on women’s dress codes.

The Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice has denied reports of a ban to counter the controversial trend of young men frequenting shopping malls in their undershirts and long pyjamas.

Women, however, are still expected to cover their body with a cloak, head covering and a veil according to the country’s strict Islamic laws.


Friday, 15 March, 2002, 12:19 GMT  

Saudi police ‘stopped’ fire rescue
 
Saudi Arabia’s religious police stopped schoolgirls from leaving a blazing building because they were not wearing correct Islamic dress, according to Saudi newspapers.

In a rare criticism of the kingdom’s powerful «mutaween» police, the Saudi media has accused them of hindering attempts to save 15 girls who died in the fire on Monday.

An inquiry was launched by the Saudi government in wake of the deaths. The investigation was led by Abdul Majeed, the governor of Makkah. The Interior Minister, Prince Nayef, promised that those responsible for the deaths would be held accountable.[7] Nayef, at the time, stated that the deaths didn’t happen as a result of the fire, but rather the stampede caused by the panic. He acknowledged the presence of two mutaween and that they went there to prevent «mistreatment» of the girls. He asserted that they didn’t interfere with the rescue efforts and only arrived after everyone had left the building.[7]
On March 25, the inquiry concluded that while the fire had been caused by a stray cigarette, the religious educational authorities responsible for the school had neglected the safety of the pupils.[3] The inquiry found that the clerics had ignored warnings that overcrowding of the school could cause a fatal stampede. It also found that there was a lack of fire extinguishers and alarms in the building. Accordingly, the cleric in charge of the school was fired, and his office was merged with the Ministry of Education. The report dismissed allegations that the mutaween (of CPVPV) had prevented the girls from fleeing or made the death toll worse.[3]
Many newspapers welcomed the merger of the agency responsible for girls’ education with the Ministry of Education. Previously, the agencies had been separate and girls’ education had been in the hands of the religious establishment. The newspapers saw the merger as a step towards «reform».


Elham Asghari is an Iranian swimmer who began swimming at the age of five. She holds several national open-water swimming records. Elham swims wearing a full-body swimsuit she designed that fully adheres to Iran’s Islamic dress code for women. She says the suit hinders her performance and causes her pain, adding a hefty six kilograms to her weight in water. Still she wears it in order to pursue her lifelong dream of being an open-water swimmer.
Achieving that dream has not been without its challenges for Elham. In Iran women are only allowed to swim in gender-segregated pools and are banned from participating in international swimming competitions. During a previous open-water record-attempt, Iranian police chased Elham in a boat in order to stop her from swimming. The propellers on the police boat sliced her legs and hip.
Elham broke her previous 20km open-water record, in June of 2013, by completing a swim in the Caspian Sea in just over eight hours. She swam in a private, women-only beach to avoid another run in with the police. Yet, Iranian officials have refused to recognize her record, stating that her swimming costume, which she had worn when setting her previous records, was illegal because “the feminine characteristics of her body were visible when she came out of the water.

As an Iranian-American woman living in the United States, I feel it is my duty to raise the publics’ awareness on the issue at hand. I’m asking the International Swimming Federation (FINA) to require the Iranian Swimming Federation to register the record Elham Asghari rightfully earned.
Elham Asghari is a talented, accomplished athlete who has worked tirelessly as an open-water swimmer. She continues to face obstacles and challenges that most athletes would never have to deal with on a daily basis. Like any other athlete she deserves to be recognized for her accomplishments. Please join me in asking FINA to help get Elham’s record recognized.


(CNN) — Women stood at the forefront of the Arab Spring, taking to the streets shoulder to shoulder with men in an effort to overturn oppressive old orders.

But while their efforts have seen dictators ousted and reforms introduced, the greater rights for women many hoped would emerge from the upheaval have not materialized.

Indeed, says Lebanese activist Diala Haidar, the rise of political Islam throughout the region in the wake of the uprising has raised the specter of hard-won gains for women being lost.

Haidar and four other women’s rights activists across the region started a campaign, The Uprising of Women in the Arab World, on Facebook in October 2011, to highlight injustices against women throughout the region.

«The Arab Spring took place under the banner of freedom, dignity and equality, and the three can’t be established if women are left behind,» said Haidar, 28, a laboratory supervisor.

«At every stage of history we have been given the excuse, ‘It’s not the time to discuss women’s issues — we are at war, it’s a revolution,’ or whatever. It’s our time to say ‘We need our rights,'» she added.


RIYADH — Denied the right to travel without consent from their male guardians and banned from driving, women in Saudi Arabia are now monitored by an electronic system that tracks any cross-border movements.

Since last week, Saudi women’s male guardians began receiving text messages on their phones informing them when women under their custody leave the country, even if they are travelling together.

Manal al-Sherif, who became the symbol of a campaign launched last year urging Saudi women to defy a driving ban, began spreading the information on Twitter, after she was alerted by a couple.


International Olympic Committee rules require that countries allow both men and women to compete as a prerequisite for their participation in the Olympic Games. Saudia Arabia, a country that has never sent a female athlete to the games, has been warned of this, promised to correct the situation, and then sort of did nothing for awhile and hoped that no one would notice.

Now, one human rights group says enough is enough and is encouraging the IOC to bar the Middle Eastern Kingdom from the Games, on account of the fact that they’re clearly dragging their feet on this. In a letter to the IOC on Wednesday, the organization demanded Saudi Arabia be barred from the upcoming London Olympic Games if they fail to send a lady to compete.

For awhile, it looked as though Saudi Arabia would actually comply with the IOC’s warning. Equestrian Dalma Rushdi Malhas competed for the kingdom in the 2010 Youth Olympic Games, where she took home a bronze medal. Some analysts believed that she had the best chance to qualify for the Olympics, but now, it seems that the country’s all-male equestrian team is deep into training in Europe— without her.

Further, Olympic rules have bent over backward to allow countries with fewer highly trained athletes to send participants to the games by offering universality slots in many track and field and swimming events. The slots are reserved for countries that can’t produce any athletes that meet the qualifying standards. Saudi Arabia has not opted to fill any of those slots with female athletes.

A spokesperson from the IOC rejected the call for a Saudi ban, saying that the Games don’t issue ultimatums or deadlines to countries who wish to participate, that Malhas’s participation in the Youth Olympic Games was a positive sign that Saudi Arabia was serious about including ladies.

But Human Rights Watch isn’t not so sure this is the case. Girls and boys are strictly segregated in the country, and all girls schools do not offer any sort of physical education, exercise, or sports teams. For a Saudi woman to have any hope of training, she’d have to do it in another country. Saudi Arabia was never serious about including women in sport, and may never be.

Ban Urged on Saudi Arabia over Discrimination [NYT]

The Iraqi Council of Representatives will vote to legalise Forced Child Marriage1.
The specifics of the legislation (part of the Jaafari Personal Status Law) are terrifying:

  • There will no longer be a minimum age to legally marry (it’s currently 18) but the law provides policies for divorcing a 9-year-old girl;
  • A girl’s father would legally be able to accept a marriage proposal on her behalf; and
  • The girl would be legally prohibited from resisting her husband’s advances and leaving the home without his permission.
It’s a recipe for a life in domestic and sexual slavery.

The law was sent to the Council of Representatives yesterday, and the vote could happen any time now. To prevent Iraq’s girls from becoming vulnerable to forced child marriage it is crucial that we act now.
Currently, Iraq has one of the most progressive policies on women’s rights in the Middle East -- setting the legal marriage age at 18 and prohibiting forced marriage2.




Any minute now, the Iraqi Council of Representatives will vote to legalise forced child marriage. 1
The specifics of the legislation (part of the Jaafari Personal Status Law) are terrifying:
  • There will no longer be a minimum age to legally marry (it’s currently 18) but the law provides policies for divorcing a 9-year-old;
  • A girl’s father would legally be able to accept a marriage proposal; and
  • The girl would be legally prohibited from resisting her husband’s advances and leaving the home without his permission.
It’s a recipe for a life in domestic and sexual slavery.
Currently, Iraq has one of the most progressive policies on women’s rights in the Middle East — setting the legal marriage age at 18 and prohibiting forced marriage.2
Brave Iraqi women have been fighting against removing the minimum age for marriage, for their sake and for the sake of their daughters. Last month on International Women’s Day, countless women attended demonstrations in Baghdad protesting the Jaafari Personal Status Law. They called it the “Day of Mourning”.3
We may not have much time to stop Iraq from legalising forced child marriage and a lifetime of domestic and sexual slavery for girls and women. Call on the the Iraqi Council of Representatives to vote “no” to the Jaafari Personal Status Law today.



|

Saudi Arabia's feared morality police say they will not punish men who walk around in their underwear - but women still face harsh punishments if they violate strict laws on women's dress codes.

The Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice has denied reports of a ban to counter the controversial trend of young men frequenting shopping malls in their undershirts and long pyjamas.

Women, however, are still expected to cover their body with a cloak, head covering and a veil according to the country's strict Islamic laws.




Friday, 15 March, 2002, 12:19 GMT  

Saudi police 'stopped' fire rescue
 
Saudi Arabia's religious police stopped schoolgirls from leaving a blazing building because they were not wearing correct Islamic dress, according to Saudi newspapers.

In a rare criticism of the kingdom's powerful "mutaween" police, the Saudi media has accused them of hindering attempts to save 15 girls who died in the fire on Monday.

An inquiry was launched by the Saudi government in wake of the deaths. The investigation was led by Abdul Majeed, the governor of Makkah. The Interior Minister, Prince Nayef, promised that those responsible for the deaths would be held accountable.[7] Nayef, at the time, stated that the deaths didn't happen as a result of the fire, but rather the stampede caused by the panic. He acknowledged the presence of two mutaween and that they went there to prevent "mistreatment" of the girls. He asserted that they didn't interfere with the rescue efforts and only arrived after everyone had left the building.[7]
On March 25, the inquiry concluded that while the fire had been caused by a stray cigarette, the religious educational authorities responsible for the school had neglected the safety of the pupils.[3] The inquiry found that the clerics had ignored warnings that overcrowding of the school could cause a fatal stampede. It also found that there was a lack of fire extinguishers and alarms in the building. Accordingly, the cleric in charge of the school was fired, and his office was merged with the Ministry of Education. The report dismissed allegations that the mutaween (of CPVPV) had prevented the girls from fleeing or made the death toll worse.[3]
Many newspapers welcomed the merger of the agency responsible for girls' education with the Ministry of Education. Previously, the agencies had been separate and girls' education had been in the hands of the religious establishment. The newspapers saw the merger as a step towards "reform".


Elham Asghari is an Iranian swimmer who began swimming at the age of five. She holds several national open-water swimming records. Elham swims wearing a full-body swimsuit she designed that fully adheres to Iran’s Islamic dress code for women. She says the suit hinders her performance and causes her pain, adding a hefty six kilograms to her weight in water. Still she wears it in order to pursue her lifelong dream of being an open-water swimmer.
Achieving that dream has not been without its challenges for Elham. In Iran women are only allowed to swim in gender-segregated pools and are banned from participating in international swimming competitions. During a previous open-water record-attempt, Iranian police chased Elham in a boat in order to stop her from swimming. The propellers on the police boat sliced her legs and hip.
Elham broke her previous 20km open-water record, in June of 2013, by completing a swim in the Caspian Sea in just over eight hours. She swam in a private, women-only beach to avoid another run in with the police. Yet, Iranian officials have refused to recognize her record, stating that her swimming costume, which she had worn when setting her previous records, was illegal because “the feminine characteristics of her body were visible when she came out of the water.

As an Iranian-American woman living in the United States, I feel it is my duty to raise the publics’ awareness on the issue at hand. I’m asking the International Swimming Federation (FINA) to require the Iranian Swimming Federation to register the record Elham Asghari rightfully earned.
Elham Asghari is a talented, accomplished athlete who has worked tirelessly as an open-water swimmer. She continues to face obstacles and challenges that most athletes would never have to deal with on a daily basis. Like any other athlete she deserves to be recognized for her accomplishments. Please join me in asking FINA to help get Elham’s record recognized.





(CNN) -- Women stood at the forefront of the Arab Spring, taking to the streets shoulder to shoulder with men in an effort to overturn oppressive old orders.

But while their efforts have seen dictators ousted and reforms introduced, the greater rights for women many hoped would emerge from the upheaval have not materialized.

Indeed, says Lebanese activist Diala Haidar, the rise of political Islam throughout the region in the wake of the uprising has raised the specter of hard-won gains for women being lost.

Haidar and four other women's rights activists across the region started a campaign, The Uprising of Women in the Arab World, on Facebook in October 2011, to highlight injustices against women throughout the region.

"The Arab Spring took place under the banner of freedom, dignity and equality, and the three can't be established if women are left behind," said Haidar, 28, a laboratory supervisor.

"At every stage of history we have been given the excuse, 'It's not the time to discuss women's issues -- we are at war, it's a revolution,' or whatever. It's our time to say 'We need our rights,'" she added.



RIYADH — Denied the right to travel without consent from their male guardians and banned from driving, women in Saudi Arabia are now monitored by an electronic system that tracks any cross-border movements.

Since last week, Saudi women’s male guardians began receiving text messages on their phones informing them when women under their custody leave the country, even if they are travelling together.

Manal al-Sherif, who became the symbol of a campaign launched last year urging Saudi women to defy a driving ban, began spreading the information on Twitter, after she was alerted by a couple.



International Olympic Committee rules require that countries allow both men and women to compete as a prerequisite for their participation in the Olympic Games. Saudia Arabia, a country that has never sent a female athlete to the games, has been warned of this, promised to correct the situation, and then sort of did nothing for awhile and hoped that no one would notice.

Now, one human rights group says enough is enough and is encouraging the IOC to bar the Middle Eastern Kingdom from the Games, on account of the fact that they're clearly dragging their feet on this. In a letter to the IOC on Wednesday, the organization demanded Saudi Arabia be barred from the upcoming London Olympic Games if they fail to send a lady to compete.

For awhile, it looked as though Saudi Arabia would actually comply with the IOC's warning. Equestrian Dalma Rushdi Malhas competed for the kingdom in the 2010 Youth Olympic Games, where she took home a bronze medal. Some analysts believed that she had the best chance to qualify for the Olympics, but now, it seems that the country's all-male equestrian team is deep into training in Europe— without her.

Further, Olympic rules have bent over backward to allow countries with fewer highly trained athletes to send participants to the games by offering universality slots in many track and field and swimming events. The slots are reserved for countries that can't produce any athletes that meet the qualifying standards. Saudi Arabia has not opted to fill any of those slots with female athletes.

A spokesperson from the IOC rejected the call for a Saudi ban, saying that the Games don't issue ultimatums or deadlines to countries who wish to participate, that Malhas's participation in the Youth Olympic Games was a positive sign that Saudi Arabia was serious about including ladies.

But Human Rights Watch isn't not so sure this is the case. Girls and boys are strictly segregated in the country, and all girls schools do not offer any sort of physical education, exercise, or sports teams. For a Saudi woman to have any hope of training, she'd have to do it in another country. Saudi Arabia was never serious about including women in sport, and may never be.


Ban Urged on Saudi Arabia over Discrimination [NYT]

caught in the middle

Corporations are NOT people. While it is true that what guides them is the human activity of their executives, boards of directors, managers and employees, all the human emotional factors of the people in the corporation pass through a “filter” created by the two basic rules:

  1. Maximize profit
  2. Do whatever is necessary to continue the business.

(Rule number 1 should be modified when it conflicts with rule 2)

It is a slippery road to give personal rights to corporations. The corporation is an amoral entity, i.e., not governed by human moral values. It lacks guilt for what it does, or empathy for those it harms. What’s worse, this «sociopathic» entity is given the rights of a human being, but not similar responsibilities. A corporation is particularly dangerous because of its great concentration of money, power, and political influence–which it uses freely to reach its goals. To give a concrete example of the dangers of giving corporations personal rights to allow corporations to participate directly on political campaigns is a very serious threat to democracy.

To elaborate and clarify the point of freedom of speech and corporations let’s consider the case of Media corporations, those whose actual activity revolves around disseminating information and opinion. While journalist, writers, news anchors, and the like have 1st amendment rights, the corporations that they work for do not. This might be a subtle point but it is crucial. When corporations do have positions on some issues, and they always have an agenda, this is NOT freedom of speech, it is censorship. This censorship is exercised trough the firing or ostracizing of staff or source that go astray of the corporate line. Thus, to give corporations freedom of speech rights is actually antithetical of the spirit of the first amendment.

One should not confuse the individuals working within a corporation with the corporation proper. Corporations as such do not have national loyalties. Standard Oil supplied the German government during WW II as Coca Cola did. 

The U.S. Federal tax system also helps corporations operate in this amoral way by allowing them to deduct from their profits, with some limitations, the cost of public relations campaigns to cover for the damage they cause, the compensation to victims, the cleanup operations, the cost of legal defense, legal damage awards, and the cost of lobbying to change the laws in their favor or gain exemptions from the law. In other words, if they are caught, corporations pay the costs of their destructive, illegal activities with tax-free money. (Tax free for one corporation = somebody else pays more taxes.)

In their current form, corporations are the most dangerous things on earth–because they threaten the survival of humankind and the entire planetary ecosystem.

Birth control does not mean abortion I am not in favor of abortion but I am against using this kind of complicated issues for political ends. How do one balance in black and white gun ownership and the statement that murder is wrong? In the same way that gun advocates justify killing a human being outside the womb (to themselves) by redefining murder according to the circumstances, others justify killing a human being inside the womb (to themselves) by redefining abortion according to the circumstances.

Tea party types do believe that killing is proper under some conditions and are against governments interfering with the freedoms of people, so why be in favor of government regulations of any kind? Criminalizing behaviors is not a solution for social problems.

According to the CDC (the only agency in the United States that has the ability to monitor and track abortion rates) in 2009 there were 15.1 abortions for every 1,000 live births. Of those abortion 91.7 percent were performed earlier than 13th week of pregnancy, and of those the majority, almost 70 percent, were performed prior to the 8th week of pregnancy. Additionally, statistics show that many of the abortions that occur later in pregnancy are performed for medical reasons.
In this highly informative article published on Patheos.com, the author explains the many reasons she lost faith in the right wing’s pro-life movement.
“Highly restrictive abortion laws are not associated with lower abortion rates. For example, the abortion rate is 29 per 1,000 women of childbearing age in Africa and 32 per 1,000 in Latin America—regions in which abortion is illegal under most circumstances in the majority of countries. The rate is 12 per 1,000 in Western Europe, where abortion is generally permitted on broad grounds.”

There’s a circus of political shows with no other end that entertain and distract. Like for example that speech of a democrat meant to be an attack on Republican policies when Reagan had just passed an immigration amnesty, and now it is used for opposite purposes. Life is not as simple as good conservatives on the shadow of God against evil liberal lefties doing the devil’s work.


LOS ANGELES (AP) — Lowe’s Home Improvement has found itself facing a backlash after the retail giant pulled ads from a reality show about American Muslims.

The retail giant stopped advertising on TLC’s «All-American Muslim» after a conservative group known as the Florida Family Association complained, saying the program was «propaganda that riskily hides the Islamic agenda’s clear and present danger to American liberties and traditional values.»

The show premiered last month and chronicles the lives of five families from Dearborn, Mich., a Detroit suburb with a large Muslim and Arab-American population.

A state senator from Southern California said Sunday he was considering calling for a boycott.

Calling the Lowe’s decision «un-American» and «naked religious bigotry,» Sen. Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, told The Associated Press he would also consider legislative action if Lowe’s doesn’t apologize to Muslims and reinstate its ads. The senator sent a letter outlining his complaints to Lowe’s Chief Executive Officer Robert A. Niblock.

«The show is about what it’s like to be a Muslim in America, and it touches on the discrimination they sometimes face. And that kind of discrimination is exactly what’s happening here with Lowe’s,» Lieu said.

Petition

The Florida Family Association, a Florida hate group, has been aggressively targeting TLC’s new reality TV show, «All-American Muslim,»  calling it «propaganda» that «hides the Islamic agenda’s clear and present danger to American liberties and traditional values.»

Worse, hardware giant Lowe’s caved to pressure from the group and pulled its advertising. A Lowe’s spokesperson called the show a «lightning rod,» even though the show merely shows ordinary Muslim Americans leading normal lives!

Maha Hilal and Darakshan Raha, two Muslim-American women from Washington D.C., sprung into action and started a petition on Change.org to get the company to reverse course. Will you sign Maha and Darakshan’s petition calling on Lowe’s to reverse its decision to pull advertising on TLC’s «All-American Muslim» and apologize for its misguided action?

Florida Family Association’s biggest problem with «All-American Muslim» is that «the show profiles only Muslims that appear to be ordinary folks while excluding many Islamic believers whose agenda poses a clear and present danger to liberties and traditional values that the majority of Americans cherish.»

Lowe’s is a business that makes decisions just like any other: based on its public image and its bottom line. If thousands of us sign Maha and Darakshan’s petition, we’ll show Lowe’s that customers and all Americans want companies that stand for tolerance and respect, not hate and fear.

Please sign Maha and Darakshan’s petition and tell Lowe’s to apologize and reverse its decision:

http://www.change.org/petitions/lowes-home-improvement-apologize-and-reinstate-advertisements-on-tlcs-all-american-muslim

People are using Change.org every day to win incredible changes in communities all over the world. Please stand with Maha and Darakshan now to help them win.

Thanks,

– Weldon and the Change.org team

P.S. Thousands of petitions are started on Change.org every month. Here are some that need your support now:
Nilton Deza has seen whole communities destroyed by toxic waste, displacement and abusive labor practices gold mining. Join his campaign asking Macy’s to join the «No Dirty Gold» campaign this holiday season.
Maria Eyles is a disabled widow in Southern California. She’s fighting Wells Fargo to get a loan modification so she can afford to stay in her home.
D.C. college student Katie Breslin is petitioning to get Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence (SAFE) kits and trained staff in every D.C. hospital so no sexual assault survivor is turned away without treatment.
95% of puppies sold by Petland USA come from mills where dogs are bred again and again, creating a lifetime of health problems. Join the campaign to get Petland USA to commit to not selling puppies from puppy mills — just like Petland Canada already has.

Corporations are NOT people. While it is true that what guides them is the human activity of their executives, boards of directors, managers and employees, all the human emotional factors of the people in the corporation pass through a “filter” created by the two basic rules:
  1. Maximize profit
  2. Do whatever is necessary to continue the business.
(Rule number 1 should be modified when it conflicts with rule 2)

It is a slippery road to give personal rights to corporations. The corporation is an amoral entity, i.e., not governed by human moral values. It lacks guilt for what it does, or empathy for those it harms. What's worse, this "sociopathic" entity is given the rights of a human being, but not similar responsibilities. A corporation is particularly dangerous because of its great concentration of money, power, and political influence--which it uses freely to reach its goals. To give a concrete example of the dangers of giving corporations personal rights to allow corporations to participate directly on political campaigns is a very serious threat to democracy.

To elaborate and clarify the point of freedom of speech and corporations let’s consider the case of Media corporations, those whose actual activity revolves around disseminating information and opinion. While journalist, writers, news anchors, and the like have 1st amendment rights, the corporations that they work for do not. This might be a subtle point but it is crucial. When corporations do have positions on some issues, and they always have an agenda, this is NOT freedom of speech, it is censorship. This censorship is exercised trough the firing or ostracizing of staff or source that go astray of the corporate line. Thus, to give corporations freedom of speech rights is actually antithetical of the spirit of the first amendment.

One should not confuse the individuals working within a corporation with the corporation proper. Corporations as such do not have national loyalties. Standard Oil supplied the German government during WW II as Coca Cola did. 

The U.S. Federal tax system also helps corporations operate in this amoral way by allowing them to deduct from their profits, with some limitations, the cost of public relations campaigns to cover for the damage they cause, the compensation to victims, the cleanup operations, the cost of legal defense, legal damage awards, and the cost of lobbying to change the laws in their favor or gain exemptions from the law. In other words, if they are caught, corporations pay the costs of their destructive, illegal activities with tax-free money. (Tax free for one corporation = somebody else pays more taxes.)

In their current form, corporations are the most dangerous things on earth--because they threaten the survival of humankind and the entire planetary ecosystem.


Birth control does not mean abortion I am not in favor of abortion but I am against using this kind of complicated issues for political ends. How do one balance in black and white gun ownership and the statement that murder is wrong? In the same way that gun advocates justify killing a human being outside the womb (to themselves) by redefining murder according to the circumstances, others justify killing a human being inside the womb (to themselves) by redefining abortion according to the circumstances.

Tea party types do believe that killing is proper under some conditions and are against governments interfering with the freedoms of people, so why be in favor of government regulations of any kind? Criminalizing behaviors is not a solution for social problems.

According to the CDC (the only agency in the United States that has the ability to monitor and track abortion rates) in 2009 there were 15.1 abortions for every 1,000 live births. Of those abortion 91.7 percent were performed earlier than 13th week of pregnancy, and of those the majority, almost 70 percent, were performed prior to the 8th week of pregnancy. Additionally, statistics show that many of the abortions that occur later in pregnancy are performed for medical reasons.
In this highly informative article published on Patheos.com, the author explains the many reasons she lost faith in the right wing’s pro-life movement.
“Highly restrictive abortion laws are not associated with lower abortion rates. For example, the abortion rate is 29 per 1,000 women of childbearing age in Africa and 32 per 1,000 in Latin America—regions in which abortion is illegal under most circumstances in the majority of countries. The rate is 12 per 1,000 in Western Europe, where abortion is generally permitted on broad grounds.”


There’s a circus of political shows with no other end that entertain and distract. Like for example that speech of a democrat meant to be an attack on Republican policies when Reagan had just passed an immigration amnesty, and now it is used for opposite purposes. Life is not as simple as good conservatives on the shadow of God against evil liberal lefties doing the devil’s work.


LOS ANGELES (AP) — Lowe's Home Improvement has found itself facing a backlash after the retail giant pulled ads from a reality show about American Muslims.

The retail giant stopped advertising on TLC's "All-American Muslim" after a conservative group known as the Florida Family Association complained, saying the program was "propaganda that riskily hides the Islamic agenda's clear and present danger to American liberties and traditional values."

The show premiered last month and chronicles the lives of five families from Dearborn, Mich., a Detroit suburb with a large Muslim and Arab-American population.

A state senator from Southern California said Sunday he was considering calling for a boycott.

Calling the Lowe's decision "un-American" and "naked religious bigotry," Sen. Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, told The Associated Press he would also consider legislative action if Lowe's doesn't apologize to Muslims and reinstate its ads. The senator sent a letter outlining his complaints to Lowe's Chief Executive Officer Robert A. Niblock.

"The show is about what it's like to be a Muslim in America, and it touches on the discrimination they sometimes face. And that kind of discrimination is exactly what's happening here with Lowe's," Lieu said.



Petition



The Florida Family Association, a Florida hate group, has been aggressively targeting TLC's new reality TV show, "All-American Muslim,"  calling it "propaganda" that "hides the Islamic agenda's clear and present danger to American liberties and traditional values."

Worse, hardware giant Lowe’s caved to pressure from the group and pulled its advertising. A Lowe’s spokesperson called the show a "lightning rod," even though the show merely shows ordinary Muslim Americans leading normal lives!

Maha Hilal and Darakshan Raha, two Muslim-American women from Washington D.C., sprung into action and started a petition on Change.org to get the company to reverse course. Will you sign Maha and Darakshan's petition calling on Lowe's to reverse its decision to pull advertising on TLC's "All-American Muslim" and apologize for its misguided action?

Florida Family Association's biggest problem with "All-American Muslim" is that "the show profiles only Muslims that appear to be ordinary folks while excluding many Islamic believers whose agenda poses a clear and present danger to liberties and traditional values that the majority of Americans cherish."

Lowe’s is a business that makes decisions just like any other: based on its public image and its bottom line. If thousands of us sign Maha and Darakshan’s petition, we’ll show Lowe’s that customers and all Americans want companies that stand for tolerance and respect, not hate and fear.

Please sign Maha and Darakshan's petition and tell Lowe's to apologize and reverse its decision:

http://www.change.org/petitions/lowes-home-improvement-apologize-and-reinstate-advertisements-on-tlcs-all-american-muslim

People are using Change.org every day to win incredible changes in communities all over the world. Please stand with Maha and Darakshan now to help them win.

Thanks,

- Weldon and the Change.org team



P.S. Thousands of petitions are started on Change.org every month. Here are some that need your support now:
Nilton Deza has seen whole communities destroyed by toxic waste, displacement and abusive labor practices gold mining. Join his campaign asking Macy's to join the "No Dirty Gold" campaign this holiday season.
Maria Eyles is a disabled widow in Southern California. She's fighting Wells Fargo to get a loan modification so she can afford to stay in her home.
D.C. college student Katie Breslin is petitioning to get Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence (SAFE) kits and trained staff in every D.C. hospital so no sexual assault survivor is turned away without treatment.
95% of puppies sold by Petland USA come from mills where dogs are bred again and again, creating a lifetime of health problems. Join the campaign to get Petland USA to commit to not selling puppies from puppy mills -- just like Petland Canada already has.

The Campaign to Mislead the Public on Climate Change

Wyoming just became the first state in the nation to reject world-class science standards that teach our kids about climate change. Interest groups that pushed for this move would like to bar climate science from being taught in other states too.
Wyoming legislators voted to support a last-minute budget amendment that prohibits the Wyoming State Board of Education from spending funds to even consider the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) because students would learn about climate change in this fossil fuel-dependent state.
Wyoming State Rep. Matt Teeters, who authored the anti-science budget amendment, told the Casper Star-Tribune that teaching climate change as fact would «wreck Wyoming’s economy…and cause other unwanted political ramifications.» Governor Mead signed the anti-science provision into law.
The Board of Education could push back against political meddling and assert its authority over setting science standards, but it will take an outcry from parents and science supporters from Wyoming and throughout the country.
It is a dangerous precedent to allow those who deny climate science for ideological or economic reasons to censor the science education kids need to be ready for college, career and a changing climate. Science education standards should be written by scientists and educators, not by legislators whose concerns may be more political than educational.
Ten states have adopted the NGSS, a set of science standards for K-12 students developed by an arm of the National Academy of Sciences.But Wyoming could be the beginning of an assault on climate education in the states still considering these 21st century science standards. 
Wyoming students deserve access to high quality, world-class science standards just as much as students anywhere else in the nation. Given the stakes for our children’s future, it’s imperative that kids everywhere learn the facts of climate change so they can all become part of the solution.
Thank you for taking action for our kids and grandkids!
Sincerely,
Marguerite Herman, Advocate for Science Education, Climate Parents Member
Cheyenne, Wyoming


Climate Denialists Spending Billions in untraceable Dark Money to fool the Public

By | Dec. 24, 2013
(By Lauren McCauley)

The expansive misinformation campaign behind climate change denial is increasingly being funded in the dark, reveals a new report published Friday in the journal Climatic Change

According to the study titled «Institutionalizing Delay: foundation funding and the creation of U.S. climate change counter-movement organizations,» while the largest and most consistent funders of climate change denial are a number of well-known conservative foundations and industry groups, the majority of donations come from «dark money,» or concealed funding.

Delving into what he calls the climate change counter-movement, or CCCM, report author and Drexel University environmental sociologist Robert Brulle uncovers the various players behind the powerful global warming misinformation campaign.

“It is not just a couple of rogue individuals doing this,” Brulle told the Guardian. “This is a large-scale political effort.”
«Powerful funders are supporting the campaign to deny scientific findings about global warming and raise public doubts about the roots and remedies of this massive global threat,» Brulle adds. «At the very least, American voters deserve to know who is behind these efforts.”
In an earlier interview with PBS’s Frontline, Brulle compares the tactical spending of the climate change counter movement to that of pro-environment groups:

What’s interesting is that in comparison to the environmental movement, it actually doesn’t have as much money. The environmental movement actually has more funding, but it’s the nature of the spending that makes the difference.

When you look at what the environmental movement spends its money on, it actually tries to spend its money on developing solutions to climate change, such as developing a solar panel industry in China, making sure everybody in India has an appropriate solar oven to reduce CO2 emissions, things like that. And they spend hardly anything on political or cultural processes. The climate change countermovement spends all of its money there.

So you end up with this great difference between the two movements. As one movement is actually out there trying to develop technological solutions on the ground, the other is engaged in political action to delay any kind of action…(Source: Institutionalizing Delay)

_____________________
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.

Mirrored from Commondreams.org


Sheldon Whitehouse
US senator for Rhode Island

Time to Wake Up: The Campaign to Mislead the Public on Climate Change
As delivered on the Senate floor
Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Thank you, Madam President. We are gathered here in the Senate in the somber shadow of the events in Boston at the marathon. And I guess I will start by conveying my sympathies to the individuals and their families who were killed or hurt in that terrible act. I share the determination of so many people that our law enforcement folks will indeed get to the bottom of this, and will get the resources they need, and we will have answers and justice for the families that are affected.

I rise again though, on the subject I come to the floor every week we are in session to discuss, which is the need for this body to wake up to the reality of the clear scientific consensus that human activity is driving serious changes in our climate and oceans.

For more than two decades, the fossil fuel companies and certain right-wing extremists have cooked up a well-organized campaign to call into question the scientific evidence of climate change. The paid-for deniers then manufacture an interesting product, they manufacture uncertainty so the polluters who are doing the paying can also keep polluting, because a sufficient atmosphere of uncertainty has been created to inhibit progress.

This is not a new strategy. We have seen this played before. Industries eager to drown out scientific evidence to maximize profit is not a new story. They questioned the merits of requiring seatbelts in automobiles. They questioned the toxic effects of lead exposure. And they questioned whether tobacco was really bad for people.

Well, they were wrong then and they’re wrong now about climate. Interestingly, they do not actually care. It is not their purpose to be accurate. They just want to create doubt; to sow enough of a question to stop progress. So these sophisticated campaigns are launched to give the public the false impression that there actually is a real scientific debate over climate change. And here in the Senate, regrettably, some of my colleagues even promote this view.

But, let’s be practical here. Which is the more likely case?

April 16 2013 Climate Change Speech Chart 1

Are a handful of nonprofit environmental groups using their limited funding to pay off literally hundreds and hundreds of climate scientists in an internationally coordinated hoax to falsify complicated climate research? Really?

April 16 2013 What is More Likely Chart 2

Or is it more likely that fossil-fuel corporations are using a slice of their immense profits to float front groups to protect their immense profits?

Well, the answer to that question is obvious I think, just from the logic. But we don’t have to apply logic. We can follow the money and look at evidence.

According to an analysis by the Checks and Balances Project, a self-described pro-clean-energy government and industry watchdog group, from 2006 to 2010, four sources of fossil-fuel money, just 4 of them, contributed more than $16 million to a group of conservative think tanks that go about the business of being publicly critical of climate science and clean energy. Those four sources are the Charles G. Koch Foundation, the Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation, the Earhart Foundation, and oil giant ExxonMobil. On the receiving end is a lengthy roster of well-known and often-cited rightward-leaning outfits: The top 10 (we’ll just talk about the top 10 in this set of remarks):

American Enterprise Institute
Cato Institute
Competitive Enterprise Institute
Heartland Institute
Heritage Foundation
Hudson Institute
Institute for Energy Research
George C. Marshall Institute
Manhattan Institute
Mercatus Center

Who’s giving? Well, Charles Koch is chairman and CEO of Koch Industries and he is the 6th-richest person on the planet. Koch Industries is the second-largest privately held company in the United States. Koch companies include the Koch Pipeline Company, and Flint Hills Resources, which operates refineries with a combined crude oil processing capacity of more than 292 million barrels per year. That much oil accounts for 126 million metric tons of carbon pollution each year—as much as 35 coal-fired power plants produce or 26 million cars. So to put it mildly, this fellow has got some skin in the game.

Between 2006 and 2010, the Charles G. Koch Foundation gave almost $8 million to think tanks and institutes, including $7.6 million to the Mercatus Center, and $100,000 to the American Enterprise Institute.

Charles Koch, along with his brother David, also established the Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation – those two have the same source – and they direct that foundation’s giving as well. This foundation provided almost $5 million to climate denying think tanks and institutes, including over $1 million to the Cato Institute, and more than $2 million to the Heritage Foundation.

The Earhart Foundation was started by Henry Boyd Earhart using funds from his oil business, White Star Refining Company—now a part of, you guessed it, ExxonMobil. The Earhart Foundation has donated almost $1.5 million to climate denier groups: $370,000 to the American Enterprise Institute, $330,000 to the Cato Institute, and another $195,000 for the George C. Marshall Institute.

That leaves us, of course, ExxonMobil itself, which is the second largest corporation in the world, and among the most profitable. Ranked number one among Fortune 500 companies, its total revenues reached nearly half a trillion dollars in 2012, and their profits were nearly $45 billion. ExxonMobil produces over 6 million barrels of oil per day at its 36 refineries in 20 countries, so it’s the world’s largest oil producer. From 2006 to 2010, the petroleum giant gave institutes more than $2.3 million: $1.2 million for the American Enterprise Institute, $220,000 for the Heritage Foundation, $160,000 for the Institute for Energy Research, and $115,000 for the Heartland Institute.

So what did the Charles G. Koch Foundation, the Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation, the Earhart Foundation, and ExxonMobil get for all of that so-called charitable giving? Well, the Checks and Balances Project found that from 2007 to 2011, these ten organizations that I cited, the top 10, were quoted, cited, or had articles published over 1000 times, over 1000 times in 60 mainstream newspapers and print publications, and invariably they were promoting fossil fuels, undermining renewable energy, or attacking environmental policies.

That’s good investing. Spend millions of dollars on a handful of think tanks to protect billions of dollars in profits; really a thousand-to-one return. But here’s the problem: the public is unaware of the connection, usually. Only a handful of these attacks were accompanied by any explanation by the media that the fossil-fuel industry was involved in them.

Here’s one prime example. Last summer, when the Navy displayed its Great Green Fleet, a carrier strike group that runs on a 50-50 blend of biodiesel and petroleum, Institute for Energy Research president Thomas Pyle wrote a column for U.S. News and World Report, calling that initiative “ridiculous,” and “a costly and pointless exercise.”

Never mind that our defense and intelligence communities have repeatedly warned of the threats posed by climate change to national security and international stability, and of their own need to secure a reliable and secure fuel supply. What’s misleading here is that U.S. News and World Report in publishing that article attributed the column simply thus: “Thomas Pyle is the president of the Institute for Energy Research,” with no mention that the Institute for Energy Research is a front for big donors like the Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation and ExxonMobil.

This is one example of this misleading practice in the media.

[Show Media Description Chart]

More than half of the time, media outlets do nothing more than state the name of the publishing organization, like Thomas Pyle and the Institute for Energy Research, or they may add a functional description, like “think-tank” or “non-partisan group.”

The instances when the publication described the basic ideology of the group, for example as a “free-market” or “conservative” think tank, amount to less than a third.

In all of the media outlets reviewed between 2007 and 2011, the financial ties between the authors and the fossil-fuel industry were mentioned a mere 6 percent of the time. 94% of the time, the fossil fuel industry funders got away with it. This chart shows some examples:

[Show Anonymity Chart]

The Washington Post ignored the financial connection 88 percent of the time;
POLITICO – ignored the financial connection 95 percent of the time;
Christian Science Monitor – ignored it every time;
USA Today – ignored it 98 percent of the time;
The New York Times – ignored it 90 percent.

So the scam of laundering money through independent-sounding organizations works. The media lets it work. The vast majority of scientists agree that global warming is occurring, but a recent Gallup poll revealed that only 62 percent of Americans believe the vast majority of scientists agree global warming is occurring.

Well over 90 percent of climate scientists agree that climate change is happening and that humans are the main cause. The only uncertainty is about how bad it is going to be. And the leading research predicts warmer air and seas, rising sea levels, stronger storms, and more acidic oceans.

Most major players in the private sector actually get it. While the big fossil fuel polluters try to confuse the public to boost their bottom line and prolong their pollution, hundreds of leading corporations understand that climate change ultimately undermines our entire economy. Let me think of, let me mention some of the examples: Ford; Coca-Cola; GE; Walmart; the insurance giant Munich Re; Alcoa, the great aluminum maker; Maersk; Proctor and Gamble; Fedex; and the so-called BICEP Group which includes EBay, Intel, Starbucks, Adidas, and Nike. So this notion that this is a hoax, that there is doubt, is belied by some of the most respected names in the private sector. And those companies join the National Academies, NASA, the U.S. Department of Defense, the Government Accountability Office, the American Public Health Association, and yes, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, as well as the majority of Americans, in understanding that it is time to wake up, to end the faux controversy that has been cooked up by the fossil fuel industry, and to do the work here in Congress that needs to be done to protect Americans from the harms of carbon pollution.

I thank the presiding officer and I yield the floor.

Wyoming just became the first state in the nation to reject world-class science standards that teach our kids about climate change. Interest groups that pushed for this move would like to bar climate science from being taught in other states too.
Wyoming legislators voted to support a last-minute budget amendment that prohibits the Wyoming State Board of Education from spending funds to even consider the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) because students would learn about climate change in this fossil fuel-dependent state.
Wyoming State Rep. Matt Teeters, who authored the anti-science budget amendment, told the Casper Star-Tribune that teaching climate change as fact would "wreck Wyoming's economy...and cause other unwanted political ramifications." Governor Mead signed the anti-science provision into law.
The Board of Education could push back against political meddling and assert its authority over setting science standards, but it will take an outcry from parents and science supporters from Wyoming and throughout the country.
It is a dangerous precedent to allow those who deny climate science for ideological or economic reasons to censor the science education kids need to be ready for college, career and a changing climate. Science education standards should be written by scientists and educators, not by legislators whose concerns may be more political than educational.
Ten states have adopted the NGSS, a set of science standards for K-12 students developed by an arm of the National Academy of Sciences.But Wyoming could be the beginning of an assault on climate education in the states still considering these 21st century science standards. 
Wyoming students deserve access to high quality, world-class science standards just as much as students anywhere else in the nation. Given the stakes for our children’s future, it’s imperative that kids everywhere learn the facts of climate change so they can all become part of the solution.
Thank you for taking action for our kids and grandkids!
Sincerely,
Marguerite Herman, Advocate for Science Education, Climate Parents Member
Cheyenne, Wyoming





Climate Denialists Spending Billions in untraceable Dark Money to fool the Public

By | Dec. 24, 2013
(By Lauren McCauley)

The expansive misinformation campaign behind climate change denial is increasingly being funded in the dark, reveals a new report published Friday in the journal Climatic Change


According to the study titled "Institutionalizing Delay: foundation funding and the creation of U.S. climate change counter-movement organizations," while the largest and most consistent funders of climate change denial are a number of well-known conservative foundations and industry groups, the majority of donations come from "dark money," or concealed funding.

Delving into what he calls the climate change counter-movement, or CCCM, report author and Drexel University environmental sociologist Robert Brulle uncovers the various players behind the powerful global warming misinformation campaign.

...

“It is not just a couple of rogue individuals doing this,” Brulle told the Guardian. “This is a large-scale political effort.”
"Powerful funders are supporting the campaign to deny scientific findings about global warming and raise public doubts about the roots and remedies of this massive global threat," Brulle adds. "At the very least, American voters deserve to know who is behind these efforts.”
In an earlier interview with PBS's Frontline, Brulle compares the tactical spending of the climate change counter movement to that of pro-environment groups:
What’s interesting is that in comparison to the environmental movement, it actually doesn’t have as much money. The environmental movement actually has more funding, but it’s the nature of the spending that makes the difference.
When you look at what the environmental movement spends its money on, it actually tries to spend its money on developing solutions to climate change, such as developing a solar panel industry in China, making sure everybody in India has an appropriate solar oven to reduce CO2 emissions, things like that. And they spend hardly anything on political or cultural processes. The climate change countermovement spends all of its money there.
So you end up with this great difference between the two movements. As one movement is actually out there trying to develop technological solutions on the ground, the other is engaged in political action to delay any kind of action…(Source: Institutionalizing Delay)
_____________________
Mirrored from Commondreams.org










Sheldon Whitehouse
US senator for Rhode Island


Time to Wake Up: The Campaign to Mislead the Public on Climate Change
As delivered on the Senate floor
Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Thank you, Madam President. We are gathered here in the Senate in the somber shadow of the events in Boston at the marathon. And I guess I will start by conveying my sympathies to the individuals and their families who were killed or hurt in that terrible act. I share the determination of so many people that our law enforcement folks will indeed get to the bottom of this, and will get the resources they need, and we will have answers and justice for the families that are affected.



I rise again though, on the subject I come to the floor every week we are in session to discuss, which is the need for this body to wake up to the reality of the clear scientific consensus that human activity is driving serious changes in our climate and oceans.

For more than two decades, the fossil fuel companies and certain right-wing extremists have cooked up a well-organized campaign to call into question the scientific evidence of climate change. The paid-for deniers then manufacture an interesting product, they manufacture uncertainty so the polluters who are doing the paying can also keep polluting, because a sufficient atmosphere of uncertainty has been created to inhibit progress.

This is not a new strategy. We have seen this played before. Industries eager to drown out scientific evidence to maximize profit is not a new story. They questioned the merits of requiring seatbelts in automobiles. They questioned the toxic effects of lead exposure. And they questioned whether tobacco was really bad for people.

Well, they were wrong then and they’re wrong now about climate. Interestingly, they do not actually care. It is not their purpose to be accurate. They just want to create doubt; to sow enough of a question to stop progress. So these sophisticated campaigns are launched to give the public the false impression that there actually is a real scientific debate over climate change. And here in the Senate, regrettably, some of my colleagues even promote this view.

But, let’s be practical here. Which is the more likely case?

April 16 2013 Climate Change Speech Chart 1

Are a handful of nonprofit environmental groups using their limited funding to pay off literally hundreds and hundreds of climate scientists in an internationally coordinated hoax to falsify complicated climate research? Really?

April 16 2013 What is More Likely Chart 2

Or is it more likely that fossil-fuel corporations are using a slice of their immense profits to float front groups to protect their immense profits?

Well, the answer to that question is obvious I think, just from the logic. But we don’t have to apply logic. We can follow the money and look at evidence.

According to an analysis by the Checks and Balances Project, a self-described pro-clean-energy government and industry watchdog group, from 2006 to 2010, four sources of fossil-fuel money, just 4 of them, contributed more than $16 million to a group of conservative think tanks that go about the business of being publicly critical of climate science and clean energy. Those four sources are the Charles G. Koch Foundation, the Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation, the Earhart Foundation, and oil giant ExxonMobil. On the receiving end is a lengthy roster of well-known and often-cited rightward-leaning outfits: The top 10 (we’ll just talk about the top 10 in this set of remarks):

American Enterprise Institute
Cato Institute
Competitive Enterprise Institute
Heartland Institute
Heritage Foundation
Hudson Institute
Institute for Energy Research
George C. Marshall Institute
Manhattan Institute
Mercatus Center

Who’s giving? Well, Charles Koch is chairman and CEO of Koch Industries and he is the 6th-richest person on the planet. Koch Industries is the second-largest privately held company in the United States. Koch companies include the Koch Pipeline Company, and Flint Hills Resources, which operates refineries with a combined crude oil processing capacity of more than 292 million barrels per year. That much oil accounts for 126 million metric tons of carbon pollution each year—as much as 35 coal-fired power plants produce or 26 million cars. So to put it mildly, this fellow has got some skin in the game.

Between 2006 and 2010, the Charles G. Koch Foundation gave almost $8 million to think tanks and institutes, including $7.6 million to the Mercatus Center, and $100,000 to the American Enterprise Institute.

Charles Koch, along with his brother David, also established the Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation – those two have the same source - and they direct that foundation’s giving as well. This foundation provided almost $5 million to climate denying think tanks and institutes, including over $1 million to the Cato Institute, and more than $2 million to the Heritage Foundation.

The Earhart Foundation was started by Henry Boyd Earhart using funds from his oil business, White Star Refining Company—now a part of, you guessed it, ExxonMobil. The Earhart Foundation has donated almost $1.5 million to climate denier groups: $370,000 to the American Enterprise Institute, $330,000 to the Cato Institute, and another $195,000 for the George C. Marshall Institute.

That leaves us, of course, ExxonMobil itself, which is the second largest corporation in the world, and among the most profitable. Ranked number one among Fortune 500 companies, its total revenues reached nearly half a trillion dollars in 2012, and their profits were nearly $45 billion. ExxonMobil produces over 6 million barrels of oil per day at its 36 refineries in 20 countries, so it’s the world’s largest oil producer. From 2006 to 2010, the petroleum giant gave institutes more than $2.3 million: $1.2 million for the American Enterprise Institute, $220,000 for the Heritage Foundation, $160,000 for the Institute for Energy Research, and $115,000 for the Heartland Institute.

So what did the Charles G. Koch Foundation, the Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation, the Earhart Foundation, and ExxonMobil get for all of that so-called charitable giving? Well, the Checks and Balances Project found that from 2007 to 2011, these ten organizations that I cited, the top 10, were quoted, cited, or had articles published over 1000 times, over 1000 times in 60 mainstream newspapers and print publications, and invariably they were promoting fossil fuels, undermining renewable energy, or attacking environmental policies.

That’s good investing. Spend millions of dollars on a handful of think tanks to protect billions of dollars in profits; really a thousand-to-one return. But here’s the problem: the public is unaware of the connection, usually. Only a handful of these attacks were accompanied by any explanation by the media that the fossil-fuel industry was involved in them.

Here’s one prime example. Last summer, when the Navy displayed its Great Green Fleet, a carrier strike group that runs on a 50-50 blend of biodiesel and petroleum, Institute for Energy Research president Thomas Pyle wrote a column for U.S. News and World Report, calling that initiative “ridiculous,” and “a costly and pointless exercise.”

Never mind that our defense and intelligence communities have repeatedly warned of the threats posed by climate change to national security and international stability, and of their own need to secure a reliable and secure fuel supply. What’s misleading here is that U.S. News and World Report in publishing that article attributed the column simply thus: “Thomas Pyle is the president of the Institute for Energy Research,” with no mention that the Institute for Energy Research is a front for big donors like the Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation and ExxonMobil.

This is one example of this misleading practice in the media.

[Show Media Description Chart]

More than half of the time, media outlets do nothing more than state the name of the publishing organization, like Thomas Pyle and the Institute for Energy Research, or they may add a functional description, like “think-tank” or “non-partisan group.”

The instances when the publication described the basic ideology of the group, for example as a “free-market” or “conservative” think tank, amount to less than a third.

In all of the media outlets reviewed between 2007 and 2011, the financial ties between the authors and the fossil-fuel industry were mentioned a mere 6 percent of the time. 94% of the time, the fossil fuel industry funders got away with it. This chart shows some examples:

[Show Anonymity Chart]

The Washington Post ignored the financial connection 88 percent of the time;
POLITICO – ignored the financial connection 95 percent of the time;
Christian Science Monitor – ignored it every time;
USA Today – ignored it 98 percent of the time;
The New York Times – ignored it 90 percent.

So the scam of laundering money through independent-sounding organizations works. The media lets it work. The vast majority of scientists agree that global warming is occurring, but a recent Gallup poll revealed that only 62 percent of Americans believe the vast majority of scientists agree global warming is occurring.

Well over 90 percent of climate scientists agree that climate change is happening and that humans are the main cause. The only uncertainty is about how bad it is going to be. And the leading research predicts warmer air and seas, rising sea levels, stronger storms, and more acidic oceans.

Most major players in the private sector actually get it. While the big fossil fuel polluters try to confuse the public to boost their bottom line and prolong their pollution, hundreds of leading corporations understand that climate change ultimately undermines our entire economy. Let me think of, let me mention some of the examples: Ford; Coca-Cola; GE; Walmart; the insurance giant Munich Re; Alcoa, the great aluminum maker; Maersk; Proctor and Gamble; Fedex; and the so-called BICEP Group which includes EBay, Intel, Starbucks, Adidas, and Nike. So this notion that this is a hoax, that there is doubt, is belied by some of the most respected names in the private sector. And those companies join the National Academies, NASA, the U.S. Department of Defense, the Government Accountability Office, the American Public Health Association, and yes, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, as well as the majority of Americans, in understanding that it is time to wake up, to end the faux controversy that has been cooked up by the fossil fuel industry, and to do the work here in Congress that needs to be done to protect Americans from the harms of carbon pollution.

I thank the presiding officer and I yield the floor.

24 hours at a time with no overtime pay

According to a recent front-page article in Bloomberg Magazine, Wal-Mart hired a defense contractor, Lockheed Martin, to use military-grade cybersecurity techniques to monitor the social media accounts of labor organizers and Wal-Mart employees. Worse, on at least one occasion, the company’s global security team “began working with the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Forces” to counter worker protests.1
Giant corporations shouldn’t be able to enlist the FBI’s help to crack down on workers simply asking for dignity and respect. So we are joining our friends at OUR Walmart to demand that the Department of Justice investigate the FBI’s relationship with Wal-Mart and whether the agency or company broke any laws.
Wal-Mart jobs pay so little that some workers go hungry. Most face irregular hours that make it impossible to raise parents or plan ahead, and have few benefits or health care coverage. All Wal-Mart employees are asking for is higher pay, safe working conditions, dependable schedules, and respect in the workplace.2 This is not terrorism, and there is no way the FBI should be involved.
The Bloomberg report reveals an intentional and long-running effort on the part of Wal-Mart executives to monitor current and former employees who are involved with OUR Walmart. Wal-Mart organized a “Delta team” of executives tasked with cracking down, staffed up its labor hotline, and hired Lockheed Martin, one of the biggest defense contractors in the world.3 Many of the employees monitored were later fired, potentially violating the law.4
In 2014, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued a complaint against Wal-Mart, claiming that the company violated labor law in 14 states by engaging in retaliation against workers who organized for better pay and better lives.5 The NLRB investigation turned up thousands of documents, some of which detail Wal-Mart’s hiring of Lockheed Martin – and its unacceptable coordination with the FBI.6
OUR Walmart has submitted a letter to the Department of Justice demanding an investigation, and we need to show that hundreds of thousands of Americans stand with them.7
We do not know how often the FBI and Wal-Mart have teamed up. The documents unearthed by the NLRB also do not reveal the extent of FBI involvement in monitoring protesters who traveled by bus across the country to the retail behemoth’s Arkansas headquarters. It is also possible that Wal-Mart used information turned over by the FBI to illegally retaliate against employees.8
OUR Walmart and Wal-Mart workers have been at the forefront of the «Fight for $15» and their courageous stand has yielded results providing momentum for higher wages across the country. If the FBI’s anti-terrorism team is partnering with Wal-Mart, it may be working with other companies as well. We need to make sure the Justice Department doesn’t turn a blind eye any outrageous and dangerous abuse of authority targeting Wal-Mart workers.
Tell the Justice Department: Investigate reported FBI spying on Wal-Mart employees. Click below to sign the petition:
Thank you for speaking out,
Murshed Zaheed, Deputy Political Director
CREDO Action from Working Assets
Add your name:
Sign the petition ►
  1. Susan Berfield, “How Walmart Keeps an Eye on Its Massive Workforce,” Bloomberg, November 24, 2015.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Ibid.
  4. OUR Walmart, «Letters to the Department of Justice,» United4Respect.org, January 14, 2016.
  5. Amanda Becker, “U.S. labor board alleges Wal-Mart violated labor law in 14 states,” Reuters, January 15, 2014.
  6. Berfield, “How Walmart Keeps an Eye on Its Massive Workforce.”
  7. OUR Walmart, «Letters to the Department of Justice,» United4Respect.org, January 14, 2016.
  8. Berfield, “How Walmart Keeps an Eye on Its Massive Workforce.”

Started by: Ana Rosa Diaz, Breaux Bridge, Louisiana.
My name is Ana Rosa Diaz. I’m 40 years old and I have four children. I came to the United States on an H-2B guestworker visa from my home in Tamaulipas, Mexico. I work in a small town in Louisiana with other guestworkers, peeling crawfish for a company called C.J.’s Seafood, which sells 85% of its products to Walmart.
Our boss forces us to work up to 24 hours at a time with no overtime pay. No matter how fast we work, they scream and curse at us to make us work faster. Our supervisor threatens to beat us with a shovel to stop us from taking breaks.
We live in trailers across from the boss’s house, and we’re under surveillance all the time. The supervisors come into our trailers without warning, and they threaten to fire us if we leave after 9 p.m.
The supervisor also locked us in the plant so we couldn’t take breaks. One worker called 911. After that the boss rounded us up at 2:30 a.m., closed the door to keep the American employees out, and threatened our families.
He said, “As a friend I can be very good, but you don’t want to know me as an enemy. I have contacts with good people and bad people, and I know where all your families live. I can find you no matter where you hide.” We were terrified. 
We want to work. We need to support our families. But we also want to be treated like human beings.
We joined the National Guestworker Alliance and decided to go on strike. The boss refused to take back his threats against our families, so now we’re taking our demands to Walmart.
Walmart says it doesn’t allow forced labor by any of its suppliers. But Walmart is profiting from the forced labor we lived through right here in Louisiana. And now they’re trying to cover up what happened to us — while refusing even to speak with us.
Walmart needs to meet with us immediately, and to show its suppliers that it won’t tolerate forced labor. We’re demanding that Walmart:
1. Cancel its contract with C.J.’s Seafood to show that it won’t profit from forced labor in Louisiana.
2. Sit down with us, the striking workers, immediately as a first step toward a real investigation — rather than a cover-up.
3. Sign the NGA’s Guestworker Dignity Standards to prevent forced labor and guarantee civil and labor rights for guestworkers across the Walmart supply chain. 
Please sign and stand with us!
According to a recent front-page article in Bloomberg Magazine, Wal-Mart hired a defense contractor, Lockheed Martin, to use military-grade cybersecurity techniques to monitor the social media accounts of labor organizers and Wal-Mart employees. Worse, on at least one occasion, the company’s global security team “began working with the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Forces” to counter worker protests.1
Giant corporations shouldn’t be able to enlist the FBI’s help to crack down on workers simply asking for dignity and respect. So we are joining our friends at OUR Walmart to demand that the Department of Justice investigate the FBI’s relationship with Wal-Mart and whether the agency or company broke any laws.
Wal-Mart jobs pay so little that some workers go hungry. Most face irregular hours that make it impossible to raise parents or plan ahead, and have few benefits or health care coverage. All Wal-Mart employees are asking for is higher pay, safe working conditions, dependable schedules, and respect in the workplace.2 This is not terrorism, and there is no way the FBI should be involved.
The Bloomberg report reveals an intentional and long-running effort on the part of Wal-Mart executives to monitor current and former employees who are involved with OUR Walmart. Wal-Mart organized a “Delta team” of executives tasked with cracking down, staffed up its labor hotline, and hired Lockheed Martin, one of the biggest defense contractors in the world.3 Many of the employees monitored were later fired, potentially violating the law.4
In 2014, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued a complaint against Wal-Mart, claiming that the company violated labor law in 14 states by engaging in retaliation against workers who organized for better pay and better lives.5 The NLRB investigation turned up thousands of documents, some of which detail Wal-Mart’s hiring of Lockheed Martin – and its unacceptable coordination with the FBI.6
OUR Walmart has submitted a letter to the Department of Justice demanding an investigation, and we need to show that hundreds of thousands of Americans stand with them.7
We do not know how often the FBI and Wal-Mart have teamed up. The documents unearthed by the NLRB also do not reveal the extent of FBI involvement in monitoring protesters who traveled by bus across the country to the retail behemoth’s Arkansas headquarters. It is also possible that Wal-Mart used information turned over by the FBI to illegally retaliate against employees.8
OUR Walmart and Wal-Mart workers have been at the forefront of the "Fight for $15" and their courageous stand has yielded results providing momentum for higher wages across the country. If the FBI’s anti-terrorism team is partnering with Wal-Mart, it may be working with other companies as well. We need to make sure the Justice Department doesn’t turn a blind eye any outrageous and dangerous abuse of authority targeting Wal-Mart workers.
Tell the Justice Department: Investigate reported FBI spying on Wal-Mart employees. Click below to sign the petition:
Thank you for speaking out,
Murshed Zaheed, Deputy Political Director
CREDO Action from Working Assets
Add your name:
Sign the petition ?
  1. Susan Berfield, “How Walmart Keeps an Eye on Its Massive Workforce,” Bloomberg, November 24, 2015.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Ibid.
  4. OUR Walmart, "Letters to the Department of Justice," United4Respect.org, January 14, 2016.
  5. Amanda Becker, “U.S. labor board alleges Wal-Mart violated labor law in 14 states,” Reuters, January 15, 2014.
  6. Berfield, “How Walmart Keeps an Eye on Its Massive Workforce.”
  7. OUR Walmart, "Letters to the Department of Justice," United4Respect.org, January 14, 2016.
  8. Berfield, “How Walmart Keeps an Eye on Its Massive Workforce.”



Started by: Ana Rosa Diaz, Breaux Bridge, Louisiana.
My name is Ana Rosa Diaz. I'm 40 years old and I have four children. I came to the United States on an H-2B guestworker visa from my home in Tamaulipas, Mexico. I work in a small town in Louisiana with other guestworkers, peeling crawfish for a company called C.J.’s Seafood, which sells 85% of its products to Walmart.
Our boss forces us to work up to 24 hours at a time with no overtime pay. No matter how fast we work, they scream and curse at us to make us work faster. Our supervisor threatens to beat us with a shovel to stop us from taking breaks.
We live in trailers across from the boss's house, and we’re under surveillance all the time. The supervisors come into our trailers without warning, and they threaten to fire us if we leave after 9 p.m.
The supervisor also locked us in the plant so we couldn’t take breaks. One worker called 911. After that the boss rounded us up at 2:30 a.m., closed the door to keep the American employees out, and threatened our families.
He said, “As a friend I can be very good, but you don’t want to know me as an enemy. I have contacts with good people and bad people, and I know where all your families live. I can find you no matter where you hide.” We were terrified. 
We want to work. We need to support our families. But we also want to be treated like human beings.
We joined the National Guestworker Alliance and decided to go on strike. The boss refused to take back his threats against our families, so now we’re taking our demands to Walmart.
Walmart says it doesn't allow forced labor by any of its suppliers. But Walmart is profiting from the forced labor we lived through right here in Louisiana. And now they're trying to cover up what happened to us -- while refusing even to speak with us.
Walmart needs to meet with us immediately, and to show its suppliers that it won't tolerate forced labor. We’re demanding that Walmart:
1. Cancel its contract with C.J.’s Seafood to show that it won't profit from forced labor in Louisiana.
2. Sit down with us, the striking workers, immediately as a first step toward a real investigation -- rather than a cover-up.
3. Sign the NGA's Guestworker Dignity Standards to prevent forced labor and guarantee civil and labor rights for guestworkers across the Walmart supply chain. 
Please sign and stand with us!

the life of an injured baby deer

Brian A Clark: Drop Charges against Connersville Police Officer and his wife Started by: John, Greenwood, Indiana   Jeff and Jennifer Counceller thought were doing the right thing when they saved the life of an injured baby deer they found … Continue reading

Brian A Clark: Drop Charges against Connersville Police Officer and his wife

Started by: John, Greenwood, Indiana

 

Jeff and Jennifer Counceller thought were doing the right thing when they saved the life of an injured baby deer they found near their home in Indiana. But because they didn’t have a permit, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is prosecuting them and they could face up to 60 days in prison. The DNR should drop these charges now.

When they found the fawn on a neighbor’s porch in 2010, she was badly injured with puncture wounds that were infected and had maggots in them. Jennifer, a registered nurse and wound caretaker for the couple’s dogs and horses took the deer home and named it Dani and began nursing the deer back to health.

When they called the DNR they were told to return the deer to the wild and let nature take it’s course. That would have been a death sentence for the deer. Instead, they tried to find Dani a home at animal rescue operations, petting zoos and deer farms, but no one would take her. The Counceller’s decided to keep caring for the deer until it was strong enough to make it on it’s own in the wild.

This past summer the DNR started an investigation into the situation and a DNR official recommended they get a permit to rehabilitate Dani.  The DNR then denied the permit application and then said the deer would have to killed.

Just before DNR officials arrived at the Counceller’s house to kill Dani she escaped through a gate that was left open. Now, the DNR has assigned a special prosecutor to the case and they’re charging both Jeff and Jennifer with illegal possession of a white-tailed deer.

Jeff is a police officer and Jennifer is a nurse – these are good people who were just trying to the right thing by saving an injured animal. They don’t deserve to go to jail and the DNR should drop all charges against them.

We’re asking that you sign the petition and also join the fight on our facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/connersvillecharges

 

Click here to sign John’s petition, “Brian A Clark: Drop Charges against Connersville Police Officer and his wife”.

You can also check out other popular petitions on Change.org by clicking here.


unlimited data plans

AT&T Inc. is effectively ending unlimited data plans, saying that it will no longer let customers use more than a set amount of data per month without penalty. Under a new policy, AT&T will slow download speeds for unlimited 3G and … Continue reading

AT&T Inc. is effectively ending unlimited data plans, saying that it will no longer let customers use more than a set amount of data per month without penalty.
Under a new policy, AT&T will slow download speeds for unlimited 3G and 4G smartphone customers who exceed three gigabytes and 4G LTE users who exceed five gigabytes of data in a given month. AT&T had previously been slowing speeds, or throttling, customers who were in the top 5% of data users in their respective market.

AT&T has been trying to manage capacity on its network in the face of heavy data consumption by Apple Inc. iPhone users and a limited supply of wireless airwaves, or spectrum. The carrier is spending billions to build out a new fourth-generation mobile-broadband network that can handle more data traffic.
A spokesman, Mark Siegel, said the new guidelines were necessary because of confusion among unlimited customers over when their download speeds would be slowed. He declined to say by how much the speeds would be decreased.
Now, AT&T says customers will get a text message when their usage approaches 3GB in one billing cycle. AT&T will slow customers’ data speeds for the rest of that billing cycle.
After that, speeds go back to normal if customers stay under the limit. But if they exceed the limit again, customers’ speeds get slowed without receiving another text-message reminder.
In 2010, AT&T was the first carrier to introduce so-called tiered pricing plans which capped customers’ data use. It allowed existing customers to keep their unlimited data plans indefinitely. About 56% of AT&T’s smartphone customers are on the tiered plans, the carrier said Wednesday.
The Dallas-based carrier in January boosted the prices of the tiered plans by as much as 33% while increasing the amount of data allowed per month.
AT&T and other carriers have been pushing Congress and the Federal Communications Commission to release more licenses for wireless airwaves to help stave off a capacity crunch as more customers download video, music and photos to their smartphones.
The data caps aren’t the only moves the Dallas-based telecommunications giant is taking to manage its network. In recent weeks, the carrier has begun sending out notices to some customers still using cellphones on its older 2G cellular network to swap out their devices for newer ones that can run on 3G networks.
“Your current, older-model 2G phone might not be able to make or receive calls and you may experience degradation of your wireless service in certain areas,” AT&T cautioned in the letter. Mr. Siegel said the carrier hoped to use some of the 2G spectrum for new technologies, though it would still offer 2G services to those who want them.
“We’re simply urging them to upgrade to a new device if they want to,” Mr. Siegel said.
Mr. Siegel said the carrier sent the notices to customers in the New York metropolitan area and may send them to other customers. He noted the program was voluntary and affected a small number of subscribers and most 2G phones would continue to work.
AT&T is offering the users one of four free phones, such as the Samsung Electronics Co. Evergreen or the LG Electronics Inc. GU295.


Jane Foody’s iPhone is practically her personal assistant.
The 27-year-old physical therapist and yoga instructor from Yonkers, NY, uses her iPhone for everything, from scheduling appointments, to streaming music during lessons, to showing her clients how to properly strike a downward dog pose.
But last month, AT&T threatened to shut down Jane’s personal assistant. AT&T sent Jane a text message saying that she was using too much data on her unlimited data plan, and that they could block her access to high-speed data. Jane says her iPhone would be useless for anything but making phone calls and sending text messages, and she’s not happy about it.
Jane started a petition on Change.org calling on AT&T to stop slowing down data and respect the unlimited data plans paid for by customers. AT&T is digging in its heels after 10,000 people already signed Jane’s petition. The company responded to the campaign by saying customers with unlimited plans can only access three gigabytes of data per month — meaning unlimited plans no longer exist!
Jane isn’t the only AT&T customer being accused of using “too much” data on unlimited plans. A huge article from the Associated Press revealed just weeks ago that AT&T is similarly targeting the top 5% of its “unlimited” data customers, or nearly 850,000 people.
Jane says she tried to file a complaint with AT&T about being unable to use her unlimited data, but the only responses she says she got were from sales representatives pushing her to pay more money to be able to use as much data as she wants. “I told them, ‘I shouldn’t need to do that since I have unlimited data,’” Jane said.
Cell phone companies have listened to customer outrage before: in December, more than 166,000 Change.org members successfully pushed Verizon to cancel a new fee to pay bills online. Jane hopes that if enough people speak out to AT&T, the cell phone company will also buckle and listen to their customers.
Thanks for being a change-maker,
- Jon, William, Jess, Tim, Michael, and the Change.org team

limited unlimited

AT&T Inc. is effectively ending unlimited data plans, saying that it will no longer let customers use more than a set amount of data per month without penalty.
Under a new policy, AT&T will slow download speeds for unlimited 3G and 4G smartphone customers who exceed three gigabytes and 4G LTE users who exceed five gigabytes of data in a given month. AT&T had previously been slowing speeds,

AT&T Inc. is effectively ending unlimited data plans, saying that it will no longer let customers use more than a set amount of data per month without penalty. Under a new policy, AT&T will slow download speeds for unlimited 3G and 4G smartphone customers who exceed three gigabytes and 4G LTE users who exceed five gigabytes of data in a given month. AT&T had previously been slowing speeds,