• DR. SUESS GOES GREEN

    Environment

    Environment – Dr. Seuss stories have the warmed the hearts of children and adults alike for years. The Lorax, a popular favorite, will be hitting the silver screen soon and this time it’s about going green and not just with ticket sales.

    The Lorax, is about a creature that speaks for trees and fights against the industrialization in their area. Universal Pictures, who will be releasing the film, has partnered with over 70 companies to teach others about the environmental lesson the book provides.

    Instead of focusing on toys, the companies plan to focus on things like planting trees and conserving energy. For example the EPA is using the Lorax to promote low-power appliances carrying the Energy Star label. The Hortus Botanicus botanical garden in Amsterdam is creating a Lorax-inspired route through its garden that houses some endangered trees. And Seventh Generation, a brand of green cleaning products, is planning to put “Lorax Approved” labels on millions of items.

    “It’s important to connect these dots between energy savings and efficiency and a cleaner environment,” EPA administrator Lisa Jackson told The Associated Press in a statement.

    IHOP also has plans to bring back its green eggs and ham promotion as it did for Horton Hears a Who! along with handing out seeds for planting.

    In addition to these environmentally friendly marketing drives, the National Education Association’s Read Across America Is encouraging teachers to read the book to children on the film’s opening date, March 2nd.

    If that date doesn’t ring a bell, it just so happens to be Dr. Seuss’ 108th birthday.

    To read more about how you can get involved visit The Associated Press.

  • MONKEYS WIN BIG

    Animal Rights

    Animal Rights – The Puerto Rico Supreme Court has upheld the decision not to allow Bioculture, Ltd. to build a primate breeding facility in Guayama, Puerto Rico.

    Bioculture’s initial plan involved building a facility that would house 4,000 poop-slinging primates captured from the wild whose offspring would be sold to research labs in the United States.

    The Animal Legal Defense Fund, along with locals and PETA, drew public attention to the proposed project and brought a lawsuit forth to halt construction. In early 2010 the project was shutdown thanks to the court’s ruling, but Bioculture continued the construction as they appealed their case.

    After years of public scrutiny and legal battles the Supreme Court upheld the trial court’s decision and denied Bioculture’s request for a rehearing.

    Segundo Meléndez, attorney for the Committee Against Wild Monkey Project in Guayama told PrimeraHora.com “This is a case that demonstrates that the rights of the residents of Pueblito de Carmen were clear. The only people who did not understand the laws and regulations of the agencies were Bioculture lawyers and government officials who dealt in illegal permits”

    To read more visit the ALDF.

  • Women Only

    Social Issues

    In a world where men’s only clubs are still common (we’re looking at you Augusta National Golf Club), Kenya’s Umoja village is putting their own spin on it. For the last two decades, this women’s only village has been a refuge for many, and a place for women to learn, grow, and find happiness.

    Umoja is home to women from all over the country. Women are fleeing forced marriages, rape, sexual abuse, tribal violence, and even widows exiled by their previous communities have found a home in this Kenyan village.

    “In a traditional village, women may not have had the opportunity to exercise leadership, to be in control of their wealth or resources, and they would more likely experience domestic violence, female genital cutting, child marriage and other traditional practices that discriminate against and physically harm women and children.” Celena Green whose organization “Vital Voices” work with the women of Umoja, told Safe World for Women.

    “Ideally, no woman or girl should ever have to flee her home to come to Umoja in the first place,” she added. “But ultimately, the aim of Umoja is to provide an emergency safe haven for those women who are in distress, and more importantly to contribute toward building communities where everyone is valued and can succeed,” Green added.

    The women of the village sell beadwork and use the profits collectively to provide food and basic necessities to its villagers. Profits are also used for medical fees and operating a school serving the village’s children and adult learners. Women from nearby communities come to the village for workshops that educate them about human rights, gender equality, and violence prevention.

    While most may think of the village as a female man haters club, that it definitely is not. Males are allowed to sleep in the village, as long they are children being raised. Many younger residents of Umoja also still plan on marrying and raising families, the only difference is they plan to do it at their own will and terms.

    To read more about Umoja visit A Safe World for Women.

  • GIVE A SMILE

    Celebrity Charities

    Celebrity Charities – Some of television’s hottest stars worked hard in 2011 to support Smile Train, the largest international charity dedicated to surgically fixing facial clefts.

    Smile Train , which launched in 1999, works with more than 2,000 doctors around the world to provide free cleft lip and palate surgery to children in impoverished communities in more than 80 countries.

    This year, Dean Cain, who played Clark Kent/Superman on the TV series Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, Tatyana Ali, known for her roles on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Love That Girl!, and The Young and the Restless, and Erik Estrada, who now does voice work for Sealab 2021 in addition to appearing on reality TV shows, all helped raise awareness and funds for the charity by discussing their service trip to Mexico on The 38th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards.

    Additionally, Estrada raised more than $10,000 for Smile Train by dancing on the Univision show Mira Quien Baila! and stand-up comedian Jimmy Pardo donated more than $40,000 from his Third Annual PARDCAST-A-THON.

    Priscilla Ma, Executive Director of Smile Train stated, “We are especially pleased to thank some of our celebrity friends who have lent their name and given time and money to Smile Train. With these resources, and new efforts, our goal is for Smile Train to reach 750,000 surgeries by June 2012.”

    So, in the new year, stars like Sammi Hanratty, who will be in the upcoming family film The Lost Medallion: The Adventures of Billy Stone, will help Smile Train reach their goal by travel abroad to help generate attention for the organization.

    Though each surgery costs about $250, every donation helps bring a smile to a child’s face…literally.

    Read more at Smile Train .

  • GAGGING THE GAYS

    Human Rights

    Civil Rights – Even though the anti-gay propaganda law is still pending, Russian lawmakers are striving to “spread” the law as they’re renewing their call to ban anything publicly gay. St. Petersburg’s terminology of “homosexual propaganda” is just another explicit example of their intolerance.

    The ban is essentially this: LGBT gatherings are forbidden in public areas. Because it’s clearly propaganda. Don’t worry, it’s to protect the impressionable minds of children.

    Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak drew some atrocious parallels between homosexuality and pedophilia. To add insult to injury, he called [homosexuality] “disgusting activity” before explaining that, “We should think about this topic on a federal level.”

    Regional governor Georgy Poltavchenko reaffirmed Kozak, stressing how the ban would “serve for the good of public morals” and that “There is nothing more abominable than propaganda regarding such things.”

    With much conviction, prominent gay activist Nikolai Alexeyev tweeted, “Now Kozak and Poltavchenko have backed the bill on propaganda of homosexuality, even at a federal level. It really looks as if they’re going to pass it.”

    Nazi-esque homophobia runs strong in the Arkhangelsk and Ryazan regions of Russia as they have already adopted very similar anti-propaganda laws.

    LGBT groups call for the help of the United Nations Human Rights Committee and the European Court of Human Rights to nix the bill. And to the dismay of these figures like Kozak and Poltavchenko, the State Department has criticized the proposal.

    Read more at Think Progress.

  • TEAM LIAM: MIRACLE BOY 4A CURE

    Social Issues

    Social Issues – With the cost of health care reaching exorbitant levels these days, one cancer patient is turning to art to help his family pay his medical bills.

    That little boy, three-year-old Liam Myrick, has taken to painting as a form of mental and physical therapy. And in order to combat their medical expenses-totaling more than half a million dollars-his parents are auctioning off his works via a Facebook page.

    The toddler was diagnosed with stage four Neuroblastoma, a malignant tumor that forms in nerve tissue. In Liam’s case, the tumor was on his kidney and so far, he’s already had chemotherapy and a bone marrow stem cell transplant during his time at the Missouri Children’s Hospital.

    In addition to Liam’s treatment, the Myrick family is also still paying medical bills from their six-year-old daughter Natalie’s bout with the cancer, which is currently in remission.

    To bid for Liam’s artwork or buy supportive “Team Liam Miracle Boy 4 A Cure” elastic bracelets, visit the Official Team Liam Facebook page.

    Read more at WILX and Huffington Post.

  • RIGHT HARE, ALL OVER

    Social Issues

    “Right Here, All Over Occupy Wall Street,” a new documentary about the Occupy Wall Street Movement, gives an inside view of what is really going on in Lower Manhattan. Watch the seven-minute tour into the lives of the occupiers and make your own decision.

    Directed by Alex Mallis + Lily Henderson
    Cinematography by Ed David
    Edited by Lily Henderson + Alex Mallis
    Assistant Camera: Andrew McMullen + Diana Eliavoz
    Assistant Producers: Dana Salvatore + Jillian Mason
    Titles by Jason Drakeford.

  • RAINBOW SUNDAN

    LGBT Issues

    LGBT Issues – Sudan, North Africa is a place where homosexuality is illegal and punishable by death. However, a new online LGBT magazine, Rainbow Sudan, is offering an outlet and hope to the LGBT community by giving them a way to read about and discuss their situations.

    “Sudanese society considers homosexuality as a ‘phenomenon,’ not a reality. It is considered a sin and psychological behaviour which is sick, and this view is often shared by LGBT people themselves here,” said the magazine’s editor, Mohammad.

    Rainbow Sudan stock image, http://www.imagesponge.com/

    “We need to discuss what does it mean to us to be gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender in Sudan? We need to debate and discuss Islamic religious judgments and punishment, which threatens us. We can aim to educate about these issues and encourage dialogue,” he added.

    For many members of the LGBT community in Sudan the internet is often their only option to talk about their lives, trials, and fears. Rainbow Sudan will give them an opportunity to learn about issues such as low self-esteem and social rejection that many deal with on a daily basis. Education will also play a key role in the magazine to give people the opportunity to learn about safer sex practices, something that is also taboo in Sudan.

    All in all, the magazine will offer hope to many who cannot openly speak about their trials and tribulations for fear that they will be ostracized, jailed, or worse. It’s a big task but it is one that Mohammad says, “We will take it one step at a time.”

    Read more at Pink News.

  • BIG BROTHER IS READING

    Social Issues

    Social Issues – Have you ever had that creepy feeling that someone is watching you as you sit alone and update your social media status from your smart phone about how high gas prices are, how you have the flu, the latest reports on the nutter from North Korea, your vacation in San Diego, how unreliable the Metro is, or even the incident at the club the night before that turned into a total disaster? Well, if you have, your feelings are probably justified because some of these words are on the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) “ping” list.

    The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), a privacy watchdog group, has released a copy of the DHS manual that lists “hundreds of key words” and “search terms used to detect possible terrorism, unfolding natural disasters and public health threats.” EPIC obtained the manual after it successfully “filed a Freedom of Information Act request and then sued to obtain the release of the documents.”

    Though the 39-page “Analyst’s Desktop Binder” includes words that should raise alarms, such as shooting, militia, hostage — (you get the picture, I’m already on the radar for being a reporter and using those words constantly), it also includes innocuous words like the eight I put in the first paragraph. Just in case you missed them: smart, gas, flu, North Korea, San Diego, Metro, incident, and disaster.

    In a letter to the Department of Homeland Security Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence, EPIC stated, “these terms and others are ‘broad, vague and ambiguous’ and include vast amounts of First Amendment protected speech that is entirely unrelated to the Department of Homeland Security mission to protect the public against terrorism and disasters.”

    Although some contend that DHS monitors social media looking for comments that “reflect adversely on the federal government,” Mary Ellen Callahan, the chief privacy officer for the Department of Homeland Security, and Richard Chavez, director for the National Operations Center, “testified that the released documents were outdated and that social media was monitored strictly to provide situational awareness and not to police disparaging opinions about the federal government.” (did you catch that “strictly to” there?)

    According to the Huffington Post who spoke with a “senior Homeland Security official, on the condition of anonymity” the manual “‘is a starting point, not the endgame’ in maintaining situational awareness of natural and man-made threats,” and that the instructions in the manual that direct analysts to “‘identify media reports that reflect adversely on the DHS and response activities,’ was not aimed at silencing criticism but at spotting and addressing problems.’”

    “To ensure clarity, as part of … routine compliance review, DHS will review the language contained in all materials to clearly and accurately convey the parameters and intention of the program,” agency spokesman Matthew Chandler told HuffPost.

    Still, there are several words on the list that raise an eyebrow or two when looking at the manual, and even though the agency has said that the material “is in need of updating,” to clarify some of the vague terms, one has to wonder if EPIC is right in its assessment of the manual, especially in light of all the SOPA, ACTA, and PIPA activity going on, not to mention the FBI’s proposed social network monitoring system.

    Read the “Analyst Desktop Binder here.

    Watch as Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-PA), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence questions witnesses at a hearing entitled: “DHS Monitoring of Social Networking and Media: Enhancing Intelligence Gathering and Ensuring Privacy.”

    Read more at Huffington Post.

  • ACTIVISET RELEASED

    Human Rights

    Human Rights – Mona Eltahawy, a New York based blogger, award-winning columnist, feminist activist, and public speaker on Arab and Muslim issues, was arrested, beaten, and sexually assaulted by police in Cairo Wednesday. Twelve-hours after her arrest, her friends, family, and thousands of her Twitter followers got the simple message, “I AM FREE.”

    The prominent Egyptian-American who carries dual citizenship was filming the protests in Tahrir square with an award-winning American filmmaker and journalist, Jehane Nojaim, who was also arrested.

    After her release and following hours of questioning, Eltahway said that her “right hand and left arm were broken on Wednesday night by riot police who dragged her by the hair and groped her between the legs.”

    Eltahway said she had been held “for several hours being questioned by the Interior Ministry and Military Intelligence officials before being released” and that they “acted like animals.”

    “I think when they realised I had dual citizenship they were aware they had to be more careful,” she said. “Eventually they apologized for the police behaviour and sent me home in a taxi.”

    Later, via Twitter, she released several disturbing tweets of her experience:

    • 5 or 6 surrounded me, groped and prodded by breasts, grabbed my genital area and I lost count how many hands tried to get into my trousers.
    • They are dogs and their bosses are dogs. Fuck the Egyptian police.
    • Besides beating me, the dogs of CSF subjected me to the worst sexual assault ever
    • Yes sexual assault. I’m so used to saying harassment but those fuckings assaulted me.
    • The past 12 hrs were painful and surreal but I know I got off much much easier than so many other Egyptians.
    • God knows what wuld’ve happened if I wasn’t dual citizen (tho they brought up detained US students) & that I wrote/appeared various media.
    • The whole time I was thinking about article I would write; just you fuckers wait.

    This is yet another disturbing example of the brutality happening globally. And yet, people are not backing down.

    Speedy recovery Eltahway, we can’t wait to read your article.

    Read more at Global PostMSNBC, and Jezebel.

    Follow her on Twitter.

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