Tell the Pittsburgh Tribune Review: Respect transgender peopleFaith, Hope and Love ~ But the greatest of these is love (1 Corinthians 13). Even if you are not a believer, and especially if you ARE, you must follow this example. People must check their brains and not their emotions, to search for the reason behind the hostility that disregards respect toward those who don't live their lives as you may. How can some states _suggest_ they have Christian ideals, when last year a wave of over 100 pieces of anti-LGBTQ legislation swept across 22 states? Did they forget that being a Christian means following in the footsteps of Christ? If Americans wish to consider themselves the greatest, they should act like it, and not follow the angry and insecure among us. We, as intelligent thinking adults, have to proactively work to make systemic and cultural changes that support and affirm LGBTQ people. Where do some people get the nerve, trying to enforce their opinion on others regarding their private behavior? A crucial way for our communities to be more inclusive is to acknowledge and affirm that every person has the right to define their own gender and to be referred to using their correct gender pronouns. Referring to someone using incorrect gender pronouns — misgendering them — contributes to the violence and oppression that people in the transgender community face every day. That’s why I’m asking The Tribune Review to implement a policy that requires reporters to confirm gender pronouns with every source and subject as part of basic fact-checking procedures. Across the country, local media sources are some of the worst offenders when it comes to misgendering of subjects and sources, and we can hold our local media to a higher standard. Referring to someone by an incorrect gender pronoun not only perpetuates anti-trans bigotry and hate, it’s bad journalism. Journalists should report facts, not assumptions. Misgendering doesn’t just happen to transgender people; it happens to people whose names are unfamiliar, gender-neutral, or derived from a language other than English, and people whose voices or facial features are not immediately identifiable as male or female. Using a person’s correct gender pronoun is basic to journalistic accuracy and is simple to make part of standard fact-checking procedures. And for transgender and gender nonconforming people, it is a basic facet of respect that is too often denied. In the case of smaller media outlets, it most often happens in the most heartbreaking and sensitive situation: when a transgender woman is murdered. CITATIONS: http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/08/police-need-work-their-approach-homicides-transgender-people
Pass a resolution opposing coal exports: Bozeman City CommissionThe coal industry wants to turn the Pacific Northwest into North America's largest hub for shipping dirty coal to Asia. While the Northwest would get radically increased coal train traffic and additional air and water pollution, Asia would access to cheap American coal and the coal industry would boost its dirty profits. And we'd all suffer the consequences of supercharged climate change. Dozens of cities in the region have passed resolutions declaring their opposition to coal exports or their concerns with coal export terminal proposals. As the permitting process moves forward for several different coal export terminal proposals, we need to build pressure on city councils in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana to formally come out in opposition to dirty coal exports.
Pay workers $15 an hour with consistent, full time hoursMy name is Jaffet Alamilla. I work as an overnight stocker at a Walmart in Riverside, California. I just signed OUR Walmart’s "Call for Change” because I love my job at Walmart but I still struggle to provide for my family on Walmart pay. After years of calling on Walmart to raise pay, I was so excited when I heard Walmart would be giving a raise to all of its store associates earlier this year. That excitement didn’t stick once I realized they were only raising base pay to $10 an hour, and even less for long term associates. Ten dollars an hour is better than what most associates were getting but it’s still not enough to put food on the table for my family. As a father of five, nothing in the world is more important to me than my kids. In fact, I work overnights just so I can try and spend more time with them during the day. But if it weren’t for the breakfasts and lunches that their schools provide, I honestly don’t know how my children would get three meals a day. Our country is at a crossroads. Although our economy has started to improve – especially for those on Wall Street – many of us are still left without jobs or scrambling to survive. Fortunately, thanks to the activism of Walmart workers and fast-food workers, there is incredible momentum for the fight for $15. Cities all over the country are raising the local minimum wage. And, less than two months ago, California and New York passed historic legislation setting two of the most populous states in the country on the path. We are not alone. Recent polls have showed that a majority of Americans support an increase in the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. Hundreds of respected economists, and progressive champions in Congress have come out in support of raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour. I just still can’t imagine why a company where the CEO makes over $8,500 per hour refuses to change things and instead seeks to keep people like me in such hard situations. It’s time for Walmart to publicly commit to paying a decent wage. It’s time for Walmart to publicly commit to pay all of its workers $15 per hour with consistent, full-time hours. If you sign my petition, you can send Walmart a message that you're with us in our fight. I love my job at Walmart. I love my coworkers. But I also know Walmart can do better. That’s why I’m calling on them to change. Thanks for letting me share. References: 1. Tung, Irene, Yannet Lathrop, and Paul Sonn. The Growing Movement For $15. National Employment Law Project, 2015. Web. 6 May 2016.
Tell President Obama to call off raids against immigrant familiesPresident Obama’s administration has launched a series of raids against undocumented families who came to the US seeking refuge from violence in their home countries.  According to Wall Street Journal, “The last time targeted roundups occurred on a large scale was about a decade ago, when the George W. Bush administration conducted high-profile raids at meatpacking plants and other work sites to detain undocumented workers.” For President Obama to allow this to happen is inhumane and unacceptable. He must immediately cease his administration’s plans. President Obama has the worst deportation record in history, with over 2.4 million people deported during the seven years of his presidency.  Continuing with these massive raids across the country in the last year of his presidency will cement President Obama’s legacy as the Deporter-In-Chief. There will be no going back, and no way to undo the pain and separation of countless families. As an undocumented person, I’m scared to think of the consequences that President Obama’s program will have on thousands of families. I understand the psychological toll of being under constant threat of deportation because it’s something that I think about constantly. From personal experience, I know well the trauma that the separation of families creates — no one deserves such life-devastating experiences. These raids are inhumane and violate the dignity and human rights of countless people. They are in line with and will worsen the racism and xenophobia that Republican presidential candidates like Donald Trump are promoting. In fact, Donald Trump has already taken credit for the administration's plans.  President Obama can’t blast Trump for extremist comments against immigrants when he himself is implementing inhumane policies that help legitimize Trump’s position. That is why I’ve started this petition. Join me in calling on President Obama to immediately cease his administration’s raids against Central American families and continue to feed the deportation machine that has already deported over 2.4 million people. Will you stand with me and do the right thing? Sign this petition now. REFERENCES:  Miriam Jordan, “U.S. Begins Crackdown on Central Americans,” Wall Street Journal, January 3, 2016. http://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-begins-immigration-crackdown-on-central-americans-1451848783  Tami Abdollah and Vivian Salama, “AP FACT CHECK: Sour notes on immigration, security in debate,” Associated Press, December 16, 2015 http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/wireStory/ap-fact-check-republican-debaters-astray-35792826  Eugene Scott, “Trump claims credit for DHS deportation plan,” CNN, December 26, 2015. http://www.cnn.com/2015/12/26/politics/donald-trump-homeland-security-deportation/
Don’t let a climate denier run the EPA.Scott Pruitt, Donald Trump’s nominee for Environmental Protection Agency administrator, is literally one of the last people on Earth who should be put in charge of protecting the environment. He’s a radical climate-change denier who has repeatedly sued the EPA to block the Obama administration’s life-saving clear air and climate rules. Pruitt’s confirmation hearing has been scheduled for next week. We need to make sure Senate Democrats stand together and stand strong to stop a climate change denier with deep ties to the fossil fuel industry from taking over the Environmental Protection Agency. Tell Senate Democrats: Don’t let a climate denier run the EPA. Block Scott Pruitt’s confirmation. Confirming Pruitt as EPA Administrator would be a nightmare scenario for the people and the planet. Throughout his six years as Oklahoma attorney general Pruitt has repeatedly used his role to do the bidding of Big Oil and other major polluters. Here are just a few of the reasons Pruitt is unqualified to run the EPA: Pruitt sued the EPA to block environmental rules: Pruitt has repeatedly sued the Environmental Protection Agency to stop environmental regulations that are at the core of the EPA’s mission from taking effect, including rules to slash carbon pollution from power plants, protect children from toxic mercury pollution, reduce air pollution near our national parks and clean up America’s polluted waterways.1 Pruitt sent letters to the EPA on behalf of big polluters: In 2011, just after he entered office as Oklahoma attorney general, Pruitt sent a letter to the EPA that was actually written by lawyers for Devon Energy, one of the biggest oil and gas companies in Oklahoma. In the letter, Pruitt protested EPA’s plans to study the impact of fracking – just as fracking induced earthquakes were rocking Oklahoma.2 The letter was personally given to Pruitt by Devon’s top lobbyist, and Pruitt reportedly “copied it onto state government stationery with only a few word changes, and sent it to Washington with the attorney general’s signature.”3 Pruitt’s campaigns were funded by the fossil fuel industry: Pruitt has received hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from the fossil fuel industry. In fact, his list of campaign contributors is essentially a "who’s who" of big polluters, including Koch Industries, PACs connected to Exxon Mobil, Alpha Natural Resources, the Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association, the American Gas Association, oil magnate Harold Hamm, Peabody Energy and Southern Company.4 Pruitt falsely claimed climate science is “far from settled”: In a May 2016 op-ed for National Review, Pruitt claimed that the “debate” over climate science is “far from settled.” He went on to write that “scientists continue to disagree about the degree and extent of global warming and its connection to the actions of mankind.”5 This is a lie.6 Confirming Scott Pruitt as EPA administrator would likely lead to the dismantling of more than four decades of environmental and public health protections. Given the urgent need to reduce fossil fuel emissions and slow climate change before we reach a dangerous tipping point, Trump’s appointment of Pruitt to run the EPA represents an existential threat to people and the planet.7 Senate Democrats must stand strong and do everything in their power to stop Pruitt from being confirmed. Tell Senate Democrats: Don’t let a climate denier run the EPA. Block Scott Pruitt’s confirmation. References: 1. Chris Mooney, Brady Dennis and Steven Mufson, "Trump names Scott Pruitt, Oklahoma attorney general suing EPA on climate change, to head the EPA," The Washington Post, Dec. 8, 2016. 2. Ziva Branstetter, "Pruitt lobbies EPA for Devon," Tulsa World, Dec. 9, 2016. 3. Eric Lipton, "Energy Firms in Secretive Alliance With Attorneys General," The New York Times, Dec. 6, 2014. 4. Alex Guillen and Andrew Restuccia, "Trump picks oil ally Pruitt to head EPA," POLITICO, Dec. 7, 2016. 5. Ryan Schleeter, "3 Things Scott Pruitt Has Actually Said About Climate Change," Greenpeace, Dec. 7, 2016. 6. "Scientific consensus: Earth's climate is warming," NASA. 7. David Roberts, "The brutal logic of climate change," Grist, Dec. 6, 2011.
Tell the Texas State Board of Education: Adopt the books and stand up for scienceOn November 22, the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) will take a final vote on science materials that will be in classrooms for the next decade. And for years, an anti-science faction of that board has done all it can to undermine the science of evolution and climate change by giving equal weight to nonscientific beliefs like climate change denial and the idea that dinosaurs and humans coexisted. Keeping creationism, climate-change denial and other junk science out of public schools is personal for me. Louisiana, where I grew up, actually has a law promoting creationism. And I’ve been fighting to keep that kind of anti-science propaganda out of textbooks since I was in high school. Now as a student at Rice University in Houston, I’m furious that the same extremists are trying to insert their ideological agenda and their religious and unscientific views into science classrooms and textbooks in Texas. That's why I've been working as a volunteer with the Texas Freedom Network this year. Because of the advocacy and public protest rallied by the Texas Freedom Network and other pro-science groups, all 14 textbook publishers have refused to water down or compromise instruction on evolution and climate change in their proposed new biology books. Now those science textbooks face their biggest threat — the 15 politicians who sit on the Texas State Board of Education. The state board, including its creationist chair and other anti-science members, takes up consideration of these materials on November 22. We've said from the beginning that we want students to learn real science in their classroom, not discredited creationist arguments that will leave them unprepared for college and the jobs of the 21st century. And now our goal — science textbooks with complete, accurate information on evolution and climate change — is within reach. We can win this. Whether you have school-aged kids or not, this fight is too important to the future of Texas and the nation to ignore. With 5 million students, Texas is one of the country's biggest buyers of textbooks. And that means this upcoming decision will have a major impact on other states because the books adopted in Texas are often used in other states around the country. Tell the Texas State Board of Education: Adopt the books and stand up for science.
Congress: Repeal the blank check for endless warOn September 14, 2001 I was the sole member of either house of Congress to vote against the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF). The vote was 420 to one. That misguided resolution is a blank check for war, and it is far past time we repealed it. I know now, as I knew when the AUMF was first passed, that it could lead to more terrorism, more anger, and more hatred against the United States. Recently I asked the congressional research committee to do a declassified report to Congress to inform us about what the AUMF has been used for. The research committee came up with 37 instances of use, in 14 countries. That is only the declassified activities, we can’t even begin to speculate on uses that are still classified. It has been used to justify activities, such as warrantless surveillance, indefinite detention and the lethal use of drones, that fly in the face of our constitutional values. It has been used to justify the operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and Syria. The AUMF has been used to take action and enter into wars without knowing the cost or consequences, and frankly, it is dangerous. We have engaged in new wars without truly debating and determining the costs or consequences of these new wars, and without our troops really knowing and understanding whether or not Congress is behind them. We are sending our brave young men and women into harm’s way without congressional authorization. I am convinced that open-ended military engagement with no end in sight actually undermines our long-term national security. It does not increase peace and security for the United States or on a global level. Our children and our grandchildren deserve better. Can you imagine going another fifteen years in a state of perpetual war, without Congress and the American people having a voice in the decision? This is not who we Americans think we are or who we want to be. Please join me in calling on Congress to put an end to our seemingly endless wars by repealing the 2001 and 2002 AUMFs.
President Obama Must Keep His Promise & Close Guantánamo. No more Excuses.Along with my colleagues at the Center for Constitutional Rights, I have represented men at Guantánamo for many years. One of my clients is Fahd Ghazy. He is among the remaining Yemeni prisoners who now constitute more than half of Guantánamo's population. He was imprisoned without charge at age 17 and has been cleared for release by both the Bush and Obama administrations. Fahd is now 31 years-old. He has been languishing at Guantánamo for the last 14 years, and suffers the pain of separation from his wife and young daughter only because Obama has lacked the political will to send him home or to a third country. Obama must expedite transfers, especially of Yemenis, and cannot make real progress towards closing Guantánamo until he does so. Fahd’s family in Yemen in misses him desperately and long for the day they can be reunited. President Obama acknowledged that Guantánamo needs to close because in his words it's "inefficient," hurtful to our "international standing," and "should never have been opened" in the first place. Words are not enough. Obama has the authority to act without delay and begin releasing more Yemeni men. Every day in indefinite detention at Guantánamo deepens Fahd's despair. The men at Guantánamo are now entering their 15th year of indefinite detention, most without charge or trial. Like Fahd, more than half of the men have been cleared for release by the Obama administration itself, with the unanimous consent of the CIA, FBI, Defense, Justice, and State Departments. President Obama must finally fulfill his repeated promise to shut down the detention camps at Guantánamo by releasing all the men he does not intend to try in a fair court. Please sign my petition to help secure justice – at long last – for Fahd and for the rest of the men at Guantánamo. It is the responsibility of all people of conscience to urge President Obama to close Guantánamo, now. I hope you will join me to do so.
Tell Totino-Grace High School: Stop anti-gay discriminationFor the second time this year, Totino-Grace High School recently made headlines in Minnesota and across the country for their discrimination against gay educators. I'm proud to live in a state that has made tremendous strides in marriage equality in the last year. But the fact that a school just miles away from my home has made national headlines twice this year for firing gay educators is an embarrassment and shows that we have a lot of work left to do to end anti-gay discrimination in our community. On August 21, after years of keeping her sexual orientation secret, English/religion teacher Kristen Ostendorf came out to her colleagues at a workshop before the beginning of the new school year. She didn't make her announcement to students, but rather to longtime co-workers and friends, some of whom already knew that she was gay. But the next day, she was asked to resign. Just a month before, the school's former president, Bill Hudson was forced to resign when an anonymous source gave members of the school's corporate board information about his 18 year relationship with a man. At the time, the school justified the forced departure by saying "living in a committed same-sex relationship is not consistent with the teachings of the Catholic church," despite his long record of service to the school. In the wake of Hudson's resignation, a number of his colleagues left the school, but Ostendorf decided to continue on at the school despite the threat of discrimination. She put the interest of her students above her own, ready to begin her 19th year at the school. But when hiding became too much for her, she too was forced out of the school. Discriminating against qualified educators because they're gay isn't just unfair to them--it's unfair to the students who attend Totino-Grace High School. By removing educators who have dedicated their lives to their students, Totino-Grace is showing that they are more concerned about the sexuality of their staff than the quality of their instruction. It also sets a terrible example for students and for the community. As a private school, Totino-Grace High School can't afford to have any more negative publicity that could threaten their enrollment rates. If enough people like you sign my petition and spread the word to their friends, we can force the school to decide whether they want to be known for the quality of their education or their record of discrimination. Join me by signing my petition and stand up for the rights of gay teachers and for quality education for kids. REFERENCES: http://thinkprogress.org/lgbt/2013/09/12/2610041/minnesota-catholic-school-fires-educator-gay/ http://www.minnpost.com/education/2013/09/fired-after-she-came-out-colleagues-totino-grace-teacher-leaves-dissonance-and-sil
Walmart executives shouldn’t be above the law.After 8 years of working at Walmart, that company fired me for doing something my manager asked me to do: take a longer lunch break off the clock so I would not qualify for overtime pay. I know firsthand that when things go wrong at Walmart, it’s workers like me who take the fall. Now I’m fighting for Walmart’s top executives to be held accountable for their international bribery and lies. Walmart has spent over $700 million in in legal fees and an internal investigation into the bribery scandal and implemented a major turnover in high level management, but four years later, neither the Department of Justice (DOJ) nor the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) has held a single Walmart executive publicly accountable. Both entities have been investigating Walmart’s alleged violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act for years since 2012. Enough is enough. It’s time for the DOJ and SEC to prosecute Walmart executives to the fullest extent of the law. A Pulitzer Prize winning expose in the New York Times alleged that Walmart spent over $20 million in bribes to build stores in Mexico, with executives covering up the wrongdoing. The DOJ and the SEC are also investigating possible bribery by Walmart in India and China.[4,5] It’s time to see the results of the investigation. Given the amount of money that Walmart and the Waltons spend on political donations and lobbying, the American people deserve to see that they are not above the law, and that justice will be served. If you sign my petition, you can send these agencies a strong message that you're with us in our fight. Will you join me and add your name to my petition to the DOJ and to the SEC to prosecute Walmart executives to the fullest extent of the law? References: 1. http://gawker.com/a-walmart-manager-describes-walmarts-mismanagement-1625530679 2. http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/sns-wp-blm-walmart-probe-0b6bd45c-8be4-11e6-8cdc-4fbb1973b506-20161006-story.html 3. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/22/business/at-wal-mart-in-mexico-a-bribe-inquiry-silenced.html) 4. http://www.economist.com/news/business/21650557-enforcement-laws-against-corporate-bribery-increases-there-are-risks-it-may-go 5. http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/sns-wp-blm-walmart-probe-0b6bd45c-8be4-11e6-8cdc-4fbb1973b506-20161006-story.html
Protect Florida Panthers from Big OilAs a professional nature photographer, I have witnessed firsthand the leading cause of panther deaths in Florida—being struck by vehicles (72%). Not long ago, I had the heartbreaking experience of coming upon a Florida panther kitten that had been killed by a car. My very first instinct was to reach out and pat her lifeless body which was left strewn across the centerline of the road. As I did that, I came to realize that her mother was calling out to her from some brush not far away. I knew then that I needed to do more than just photograph Florida’s wildlife if I wanted it to endure. I knew I needed to take action to protect Florida panthers and protecting them from Big Oil and their machinery is part of that. Florida panthers number barely over 100 in the wild and can't afford unnecessary, new threats. Yet, the state of Florida has issued a permit for the construction of a new oil and gas waste disposal well in prime habitat for the endangered Florida panther. This well would be placed less than a mile from the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge, and would bring with it hundreds of truck trips that could harass or kill endangered panthers, pushing panthers closer to the brink of extinction. Just this year, 12 panthers have been killed in Florida putting the state on path to exceed the average of 17 panthers killed annually by vehicles. Not only would this well increase vehicle traffic, it could potentially contaminate the ground and water Florida panthers rely on.The waste that will be injected into this well could be very toxic. No one knows exactly what is in the waste because Congress exempted oil companies from a federal hazardous waste law back in the 1980s. We should not entertain any plan that might bring new toxic threats to these already-beleaguered cats. Additionally, The Texas company that is applying to drill this well is already in hot water over another well in the state of Florida. It has been fined $25,000 for acting outside the scope of the permitted activity at the well site. In short, they've already been accused of breaking the law once--why give them another chance while putting highly-endangered panthers at risk? Please urge the EPA to block the construction of this well and prevent further threats to Florida panthers, their habitat and clean water resources needed by both humans and wildlife.
Tell the Bristol Herald Courier: Respect transgender peopleLast year a wave of over 100 pieces of anti-LGBTQ legislation swept across 22 states. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people and allies pushed back across the country to say: We won’t stand for bigotry and hate in our communities. But being on the defensive is not enough – we also have to proactively work to make systemic and cultural changes that support and affirm LGBTQ people. A crucial way for our communities to be more inclusive is to acknowledge and affirm that every person has the right to define their own gender and to be referred to using their correct gender pronouns. Referring to someone using incorrect gender pronouns — misgendering them — contributes to the violence and oppression that people in the transgender community face every day. That’s why I’m asking the Bristol Herald Courier to implement a policy that requires reporters to confirm gender pronouns with every source and subject as part of basic fact-checking procedures. Across the country, local media sources are some of the worst offenders when it comes to misgendering of subjects and sources, and we can hold our local media to a higher standard. Referring to someone by an incorrect gender pronoun not only perpetuates anti-trans bigotry and hate, it’s bad journalism. Journalists should report facts, not assumptions. Misgendering doesn’t just happen to transgender people; it happens to people whose names are unfamiliar, gender-neutral, or derived from a language other than English, and people whose voices or facial features are not immediately identifiable as male or female. Using a person’s correct gender pronoun is basic to journalistic accuracy and is simple to make part of standard fact-checking procedures. And for transgender and gender nonconforming people, it is a basic facet of respect that is too often denied. In the case of smaller media outlets, it most often happens in the most heartbreaking and sensitive situation: when a transgender woman is murdered. Every person has the right to define their own gender, and media outlets have a responsibility to use people’s correct pronouns. CITATIONS: http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/08/police-need-work-their-approach-homicides-transgender-people