- Campaign Finance Reform
- Civil Liberties / Surveillance
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- Government Accountability / Whistleblowers
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Petition Supporting the UN's International Inquiry re Kashmir Human Rights ViolationsNonviolent intervention and inquiry on behalf of the Kashmir people is needed because the daily escalation of violence by occupation forces. The loop of violence will continue and escalate without representation of the people of Kashmir.
#SaveChristopherYoungIn 2006, 21-year-old Christopher Young was sentenced to death for the 2004 murder of 55-year-old convenience store owner Hasmukhbhai “Hash” Patel. In his 12 years of incarceration, Chris has transformed himself into a thoughtful, peaceful man with a desire to help others. He has committed his final moments to sharing his story of transformation and asking for clemency from death. You can read/watch his story here: http://lawatthemargins.com/death-row-saved-my-life/ “I’m truly sorry for the crime I committed. There’s nothing I can do to bring back Mr. Hash Patel. If I knew taking my life would do that, I’d volunteer for it without any complaints. But that’s not going to do it. I can teach others to think about their actions. I’m sure I can stop something like this from happening again.” – 32-year-old Christopher Young, June 2018 Young’s attorneys are challenging the conviction itself and seeking a new trial based on what they consider a violation of his rights under the “free exercise” clause of the First Amendment and “equal protection” clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Chris’ lawyers claim that religious discrimination occurred during the jury selection process of his trial, and in 2016 over 500 religious leaders signed a statement saying he deserved a new trial. “Unfortunately, the state court issued a ruling saying it is acceptable to exclude someone from serving as a juror in a death penalty trial merely because of the church that person belongs to,” said David R. Dow, Young’s attorney. “We hope the Supreme Court will agree to review the case and reaffirm that our Constitution and our nation’s commitment to religious liberty means that an individual’s membership in a church does not automatically disqualify that person from acting as a juror.” Sadly, the United States Supreme Court turned down Young’s latest appeal in January 2018. In his final days, he seeks clemency. The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles has the power to recommend clemency. Together, we must send a strong message to the members of the board and to Texas Governor Greg Abbott (who can accept or reject the board's recommendation) that Chris deserves mercy. Take action today to save Christopher Young’s life. Sign the petition.
Investigate the NRA for ExploitationThe current threats involving guns are very far-reaching. Lots of people are trying to have stricter laws put in place, but the NRA is preventing this. The government usually says that they can't do anything about it because there is no known illegal activity going on in the organization. What should be done is to determine whether there actually is any activity, instead of writing the issue off. Even members should want any illegal activities to be dispelled, so as to prevent worsening the organization's reputation.
No way to treat a childRep. Betty McCollum introduced this bill earlier in 2018 after learning about the appalling treatment of Palestinian children in the West Bank who are arrested and treated in blatant violation of international law by the Israeli military. They are often taken from their beds in the middle of the night, interrogated without parents or attorneys present, subjected to harsh and degrading treatment and coerced into signing confessions in Hebrew, which they don't know. The 26 co-sponsors, including four California Democratic members of Congress, want to bar U.S. funding of such practices. The bill would require the State Department to report regularly and assure that to be the case. For more information about the bill, see https://mccollum.house.gov/palestinianchildrensrights. Jewish Voice for Peace and others have asked Reps. Matsui and Bera to sign on, but they have not responded. Perhaps they will if they hear from hundreds of constituents.
For People, Land, Air & Sea: STOP RIMPAC Military Exercises.What is RIMPAC? RIMPAC is the largest maritime military exercise in the world. 27 nations, more than 25,000 personnel, more than 45 ships, 5 submarines, and 250 planes are expected to participate in the month-long 2018 exercises. What does RIMPAC do? RIMPAC simulates a hypothetical sea-battle between countries. Cruise missiles with a range of 300 nautical miles are fired from ships and submarines. Land-based missiles fire on ships. Planes drop bombs on ocean targets. The latest in weaponry is tested and operations include amphibious operations, gunnery, counter-piracy, mine clearance, explosive ordnance disposal, mass casualty exercises, and diving and salvage operations. RIMPAC 2018 will host the first “Innovation Fair” at Pearl Harbor which will showcase the latest U.S. weaponry for the international arms market. How does RIMPAC harm Hawai`i? Following are just a few examples: • Retired military ships are towed out to sea and then targeted with missiles and torpedoes until they sink to a watery graveyard on the ocean floor. There they leach toxic chemicals, including PCBs, which accumulate in the bodies of fish, dolphins and whales – and ultimately into our food. • Amphibious landing exercises, which include heavy tracked vehicles, damage reefs, erode shoreline, and endanger wildlife. • Military sonar and underwater bomb detonations have been proven to wreak havoc on whales and dolphins by driving them from feeding areas, causing them to beach in panic, interfering with communication and mating, causing hemorrhages and embolisms in their bodies. • An increase in toxic waste, noise pollution, harmful air emissions, and fuel spillage diminishes the quality of life throughout the State of Hawai`i. • Dependence on a militarized economy reliant on weapons, assault vehicles, artilleries and technologies to be used for domestic or international violence undermine Hawaii's efforts to become self-sustaining and life-affirming. • The U.S. Army’s Pohakuloa Training Area on the Big Island hosts live-fire training for ground troops of other countries who leave their ships to “practice with the entire gamut of weapons systems, everything from the pistol all the way up to 84mm rockets and missiles.” Pohakuloa, almost 5 times the size of the island of Kaho`olawe, is the U.S. military’s largest live-fire training range and is located on the slopes of Mauna Kea, a mountain held sacred by many. RIMPAC exercises further endanger the environment and subject surrounding communities to aerosolized Depleted Uranium and other toxins. • The influx of more than 25,000 military personnel to Hawai`i increases the sex industry, supported by sex trafficking. The enormous military presence in Hawai`i has done, and continues to do, irreparable damage to Hawai`i’s people, land, air and sea. Areas that have been used for bombing practice are uninhabitable and bombing and live fire practice is not only continuing but escalating in the age of the “Pacific Pivot”. Indigenous Hawaiian cultural sites have been destroyed. U.S. Military fuel storage tanks are leaking poisons into the drinking water in Hawai`i's most populous region. Vast areas of water, land and sea are so toxic as to be unusable. In a state where land is limited, the U.S. military occupies a larger percentage of land than in any other state. RIMPAC exercises further contribute to this destruction.
Demand Rep. Huffman Support Human Rights for Palestinian ChildrenYour Congressional district has a strong tradition of being supportive of human rights and the dignity of all. Introduced by Rep. Betty McCollum in November of last year, this important bill is needed to ensure that US taxpayer money is not used by Israel to commit human rights abuses against Palestinian children under military occupation. According to Defense for Children International-Palestine, Israel is the only country in the world to systematically detain and imprison children through a separate-and-unequal military court system. These courts convict Palestinians in 99.74 percent of cases, according to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz. Palestinian children are also systematically ill-treated by Israeli forces during and after their arrest. They suffer “beatings, long-term handcuffing, threats, intimidation, and solitary confinement,” which in some cases amount to “torture,” according to the Department of State. This bill would prohibit any US assistance appropriated to Israel being used to support the military detention, interrogation, abuse, or ill-treatment of Palestinian children in violation of international law. The United States gives Israel more than $3 billion in military aid each year. The least we can do is to ensure that this money is not going to support Israel’s human rights abuses of Palestinian children. Your action on this bill has become very urgent. Israel is using massive military force against unarmed protesters in Gaza, killing dozens, terribly wounding hundreds. Clearly identified members of the press have been murdered or wounded by the Israeli military. Children have been killed or wounded. The Israeli military admits “we know where every bullet landed”. Now is not the time for empty platitudes of concern. We demand accountability for US aid to Israel. I strongly urge you to join Bay Area representatives Barbara Lee, Jackie Speier, Ro Khanna, and Anna Eshoo and cosponsor this bill. I look forward to hearing back from you on this matter.
Remove tax-exempt status from the NRAThe NRA uses this money to buy congress members' votes through lobbying activities that are corrupt, and not what the overwhelming majority of the citizens of the United States want. What we want is REASONABLE gun laws. Automatic, semi-automatic, bumpstocks, high capacity clips should only be in the hands of the military. More people die of gun deaths here by astronomical levels than in any other country. We are not taking away anyone's 2nd amendment, we simply want to make it sane. Less people dying of gun deaths is sane! Giving the NRA tax-exemptions is insane. Do you really think law enforcement entities want to be outgunned? No, less law enforcement people will lose their lives as a result of sane gun laws. Go to csgv.org/nra-tax-exempt-loaded-private-interest/ for more great information to support this petition.
Pass the Equality Act to Protect LGBTQ Americans from DiscriminationWhile the groundbreaking Marriage Equality Act expanded marital protections for LGBTQ people in 2015, there is still much to be done to ensure non-discrimination protections and equal treatment under the law. Federal law and the majority of states lack explicit non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people at work, at school, and elsewhere, leaving them vulnerable to discrimination. In other words, a person can be fired from their job, evicted from their home, denied access to housing, credit, loans, hotel services, and even jury duty on the strict basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity. The Equality Act would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other key federal non-discrimination laws to provide clear, explicit federal protection against discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation or gender identity in employment, housing, credit, federally funded programs (including education), and federal jury service. The bill would provide clear, explicit federal protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the following six areas: ● Employment: The Equality Act would explicitly prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in employment and in the workplace. ● Federally funded programs and activities: Any program that receives federal funds would be prohibited from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. This provision would protect LGBTQ people from discrimination by institutions that receive federal funds – including schools, hospitals, domestic violence shelters, and police departments. ● Housing: The Equality Act provides explicit protections for LGBTQ people against housing discrimination. ● Public Spaces and Services: LGBTQ people would be protected from discrimination in “public accommodations,” including stores, restaurants, hotels, transportation, and healthcare services. ● Banks and Credit: The Equality Act would explicitly prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in credit, financing, and lending. ● Federal Jury Service: The Equality Act would explicitly prohibit discrimination against LGBTQ people in selecting federal juries. All LGBTQ Americans deserve a fair chance to live, love and provide for their families without the burden of legalized discrimination. This bill will help ensure that no one is fired, evicted from their home, or denied basic services because of who they are or whom they love. Urge your members of Congress to support this critical piece of legislation. H.R. 2282, The Equality Act https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/2282?q=%7B%22search%22%3A%5B%22Equality+Act%22%5D%7D&r=1 Human Rights Campaign: Why the Equality Act? https://www.hrc.org/resources/why-the-equality-act
My Last Gas CarThere is a consensus among climatologists that change in our climate is unprecedented. Major climate forces causing the change are from human activity. The main activity being the burning of fossil fuels of which use of personal automobiles is a major factor. We ordinary people can make an impact on climate change in a drastic and effective way. Progressive change for complex social problems comes about in one way. Mass popular movements. Collectively, let’s tell automakers what we are willing to give up. Some sacrifice is needed by many people to make change happen. Send a message clearly stating you are giving up on gasoline powered vehicles. Some automakers are moving in this direction but too slowly. And it is not enough! Let’s send a real message of change. Refuse to buy another car or truck that runs on gasoline. It is consumer demand that dictates what is produced and what is sold not automakers. Let’s tell them simply what we want. An electric vehicle that can be powered by renewable energy sources. Sign this petition and commit to the decision along with many, many others to not buy gasoline powered cars. Let’s be dedicated to contributing to a more stable climate and a better future for our families, friends and communities.
Undo Unconstitutional Life-Without-Parole Sentence for Bobby BosticBobby Bostic was only 16 years old when he was sentenced to 241 years in prison for non-fatal crimes. He is now 38, and will not be eligible for parole until he is 112 years old. Despite two recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings that determined life without parole sentencing for juveniles who have not been convicted of murder to be unconstitutional, the state of Missouri has repeatedly refused to offer Bobby an appeal. We must stand with Bobby in his effort to take his appeal, if necessary, to the U.S. Supreme Court. In 1995, Bobby Bostic and an older accomplice were convicted of 18 crimes stemming from an armed robbery and carjacking. While the older accomplice pleaded guilty and took a plea bargain for a 30-year sentence, Bostic took the case to trial. He was found guilty on all counts and was given the maximum possible sentence: 241 years. "Your mandatory date to go in front of a parole board will be the year 2201," the judge said. "Nobody in this room is going to be alive in the year 2201." At the time, Bobby was just 16 years old. "Two of the Supreme Court's rulings in recent years have barred judges from imposing sentences of life without parole for juveniles who haven't killed anyone," reports Riverfront Times. "But Missouri is one of a small number of states arguing that doesn't apply to defendants who aren't technically sentenced to life without parole — even if their sentences add up to just that." In addition, the Missouri Supreme Court has defended its ruling by claiming that the U.S. Supreme Court rulings pertain only to defendants convicted of a single charge, not multiple charges added together. "In practice, that means Bostic would have been better off committing a single act of murder than being convicted of multiple, non-fatal crimes," noted Doyle Murphy, a journalist at the Riverfront Times. Bostic's sentence also violates the Convention on the Rights of the Child, a treaty to which every single nation on earth other than the United States is party, and which is therefore international law. The treaty states: "Neither capital punishment nor life imprisonment without possibility of release shall be imposed for offenses committed by persons below eighteen years of age." While Bobby Bostic awaits his parole date in over 100 years from now, his accomplice will be eligible for parole next year. The case of Bobby Bostic illuminates the punitive nature of the U.S. criminal justice system. Instead of managing prisons as spaces of rehabilitation, the U.S. Department of so-called Corrections has made it a point to punish offenders in the most retributive ways possible, depriving juveniles like Bostic of any meaningful opportunity to obtain release. According to the ACLU's state legal director, Tony Rothert, "Bobby Bostic should get a chance to show that crimes he committed as a teen do not define him. The Constitution demands nothing less." Background: Riverfront Times: Bobby Bostic, Sentenced as a Teen to 241 Years, Appeals to U.S. Supreme Court https://www.riverfronttimes.com/newsblog/2017/12/21/bobby-bostic-sentenced-as-a-teen-to-241-years-appeals-to-us-supreme-court
Keep and Maintain Digital DNA (Save the Egg!)Unveiled in 2005, Digital DNA is very arguably the most popular and culturally significant work of public art the City has ever commissioned. (As one measure of the work's popularity and impact, searching Instagram public posts by #[artwork title] shows that through 2017 Digital DNA had by an extraordinarily wide margin more posts than all of the City's other permanent sculptures combined, comparable to the number of posts of Rodin's Burghers of Calais at Stanford University.) Digital DNA is so popular in part because it recognizes Palo Alto (indeed, the HP garage) as the birthplace of the Silicon Valley and the computer revolution in such a visually engaging, almost whimsical way. At the same time, the sculpture poses challenging questions about what it means to live and work in the Silicon Valley where every day companies determine and produce new technologies and make decisions that profoundly change the DNA of both it and every other society on the globe. Based on social media metrics, it appears that Digital DNA has resonated with Palo Alto citizens and visitors alike to a much greater extent than any other permanent public artwork commissioned by the City. Visitors from all over the world make a point to visit Digital DNA as part of their exploration of Silicon Valley. Can the same be said of any other public artwork in Palo Alto? When the City does succeed in commissioning artwork that has significant popular and cultural impact as it has with Digital DNA, it seems self-evident that its Public Arts staff should concentrate its efforts and resources on properly maintaining such work. Otherwise, the City will find itself expending significant financial resources to acquire and maintain a collection of public artwork that has much lower public impact. It is clear that the City can properly maintain Digital DNA. In 2015, the City hired ARG, a leading San Francisco arts conservator, to provide guidance on maintaining its outdoor public art. ARG advised the City that if a "water based coating is applied annually and the artwork inspected regularly, it will be acceptable to keep [Digital DNA] in its current location." After it had spent taxpayer funds to obtain it, the City omitted ARG’s assessment from it Deaccession Request for Digital DNA even though its Deaccession Policy requires it to include the opinion of a "qualified visual arts conservator." Experienced arts caretakers such as the Getty Museum have routinely maintained outdoor plastic sculptures in excellent condition for many decades through regular maintenance and periodic restoration. There is no excuse for the City not to maintain Digital DNA using these same standard procedures. The cost of maintaining Digital DNA through annual maintenance and periodic restoration as needed is several thousand dollars per year, a small price to maintain very arguably the City's most successful public artwork and a tiny fraction of its total Public Arts budget.