Independent video game distributor Humble Bundle has been pretty progressive since its inception in 2010. The website has always used a pay-what-you-want model in selling 100% DRM free indie game packages and they’ve supported a number of different charities including Child’s Play, the Electric Frontier Foundation, and the American Red Cross.

    For its latest deal that launched April 19, Humble Bundle is selling a group of three games from Amanita Design: Botanicula, Machinarium, and Samorost 2 with their respective soundtracks. According to Humble Bundle, the brand new release, Botanicula, “has players adventuring as a motley band of tree creatures trying to save their home from parasitic invaders.”

    It’s fitting, then, that the World Land Trust is this deal’s beneficiary organization. The English-based conversation charity was founded in 1989 and has since helped protect the earth’s most threatened habitat, acre by acre.

    When gamers purchase the bundle, they can choose how much they want to pay, as well as how the funds are divided between the developers, World Land Trust, and Humble Bundle. According to their tracking widgets on Humble Bundle’s site, more than 56,000 people have bought the deal, therefore preserving almost 900 acres of land.

    The Botanicula bundle is available across all platforms (Windows, Mac, and Linux) and fans who pay more than the current average for the games will also receive a download of Kooky, a feature-length film by Jan Svěrák and an additional click puzzle game called Windosill created by Vector Park.

    Read more at Develop and the World Land Trust.


    Animal Rights

    Animal Rights – PETA investigators have discovered a laundry list of horrific abuses that occur daily at Adirondack Farms, a dairy factory farm that takes 180,000 pounds of milk from a mere 1,800 cows every day in Clinton County, New York. The disturbing video footage shows workers carelessly beating, burning, and dragging cows as they are led into the stalls to be milked.

    On a related note, if you live in the New England area, enjoy dairy, and believe ignorance is bliss STOP READING THIS RIGHT NOW!

    Adirondack Farms takes the milk yielded from the abused cows to Massachusetts-based Agri-Mark, Inc., the alleged “largest supplier of fresh farm milk in New England” and distributor of the popular Cabot and McCadam cheeses. And while the milk may be “fresh” it is far from cruelty free as PETA investigators discovered that workers routinely smacked cows with a pole and a cane as they were led into the room to be milked.

    When the abuses were brought to the attention of a farm manager, he simply conceded that the workers “get carried away with” striking cows.

    Unfortunately for the manager, he was also caught “getting carried away” when he repeatedly electro-shocked a cow in the face on video. He then proceeded to jab a fully conscious downed cow in the ribs with a screwdriver, called it a “dumb bitch,” and then proceeded to drag the cow approximately 25 feet with a small vehicle.

    The abuse doesn’t stop there, and neither does the animal suffering. Calves are routinely subjected to “de-budding” as workers burn off their horn-buds without use of an anesthetic. One worker was caught on video as he watched a calf “thrash around in agony [with] smoke rising from her seared flesh,” after he burned off her buds.

    Other workers were seen using “‘guillotine cutters’ to ‘lop off’ the horns of older animals — again without anesthetics or pain relief.”

    Kids, the moral of this story is if you don’t want to be complicit in what is tantamount to a cow gulag, then don’t support Adirondack Farms, Agri-Mark, or Cabot and McCadam cheeses.

    Send an email to Agri-Mark CEO Dr. Richard Stammer here.

    WARNING: The below videos contain countless acts of abuse and cruelty. There are disturbing images that may make your eyes leak, make you sick, or make you have an urgent desire to throw away all the dairy products in your fridge. You have been warned.

    Read more at PETA.

    Find out more about going Vegan



    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.


    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.


    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 .


    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.


    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.


    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.


    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.

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