Thursday, December 20, 2012

Urgent: Make a call to stop a bad deal that cuts Social Security benefits 202-225-4965

Last week, 102 Democrats in the House co-signed a letter saying that they will oppose any deficit reduction package that includes cuts to Social Security benefits.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Urgent Update - Say "NO" to a Grand Betrayal: Call President Obama NOW 202-456-1111

URGENT UPDATE - December 18, 2012: We are re-sending this very urgent action alert because of reports that President Obama is caving to unreasonable Republican demands, just as we feared. From this morning's Washington Post, describing the president's latest offer to Speaker Boehner: "Obama also gave ground on a key Republican demand -- applying a less-generous measure of inflation across the federal government. That change would save about $225 billion over the next decade, with more than half the savings coming from smaller cost-of-living increases for Social Security beneficiaries."

Jews Against Islamophobia speaking against MTA ads

Jewish Groups Condemn (Yet Again) Ads
Promoting Hate and Anti-Muslim Bigotry:
Call for Unequivocal Repudiation of Islamophobia

Friday, December 14, 2012

Say "NO" to a Grand Betrayal: Call President Obama NOW 202-456-1111

Say "NO" to a Grand Betrayal: Call President Obama NOW

December 13, 2012
TAKE ACTION: Please call and email President Obama right away, urging him not to drive women off a (fiscal) cliff by caving to the outrageous demands of Republican leaders.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Two Minutes to Save Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid from a Bad Deal

Right now there are closed door discussions in Washington about cutting our Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits. We need your voice to stop these devastating cuts.

Call your Senator today and find out whether they are committed to protecting our Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. 

While the President and Senate Democrats have been firm about ending the Bush tax cuts for the top 2% during the fiscal showdown, there are discussions behind closed doors to cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid in the name of a compromise.

A cut to any of our earned benefits is a betrayal of the millions of Americans who earned and depend on those benefits. 

Call your Senator today and find out whether they are committed to protecting our Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. 

Here's what you can do: 

  1. Click here to go to's No Benefits Cuts page.
  2. Find your Senator(s) in the lists either as a champion, wavering, or weak-kneed.
  3. Click on your Senator and call the number provided. If your Senator is not listed, call Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
  4. Submit their response in the form on the page.

There is pressure coming from inside Washington to make a deal for the sake of a deal. We need your voice to block a bad deal. 

Call your Senator today and find out whether they are committed to protecting our Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. 

Calling only takes a few minutes, and by getting every Democrat on record we can force them to defend our earned benefits. 

Thank you for your support,

Michael Phelan
Social Security Works

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

VAWA discussions could lead to a bill - ask House leaders to step up for all victims

From Pat Reuss of the National Organization for Women:

Dear leaders – I know…I know you're tired of getting so many VAWA alerts from me.  I'm tired of writing and sending them J  But there's a meeting tomorrow where VAWA's fate this year may be decided.  Please take a moment right now to call Boehner's and Cantor's offices and ask them to be true leaders, reach an agreement with the Senate and pass a VAWA for all.  I just made my calls.  For NOW activists, our lobbying for a VAWA that covers all victims reflects our core values of women's equality, racial justice, stopping violence and poverty and guaranteeing lesbian rights – so these two calls are at the heart of our mission.  Thanks, pat    p.s. lots of press attention, see bottom.

December 12, 2012

(please forward far and wide)


Possible agreement on VAWA just hours away

Urgent that all VAWA advocates make one more phone call!


Call immediately and talk to Speaker Boehner's 202-225-0600 or 202.225.6205 and House Majority Leader Cantor's office 202-225-2815 or 202. 225.4000 and emphatically urge them to "Be a hero and help pass a VAWA that includes ALL victims and survivors. Your leadership can make this happen." Then let them know that a final VAWA that does not protect Native women and does not hold perpetrators accountable is unacceptable. 


Right now, House leadership is in talks with VAWA's Senate champions to discuss VAWA.  There is a path to bipartisan passage that protects and provides justice for all victims – including Native American women. Our country must stand to protect all victims.  Under current law, Native victims face dire and life-threatening violence on Tribal lands at the hands of non-Native offenders who cannot be prosecuted by tribal courts.  The National Task Force is unwilling to support a bill that leaves any victims out.  It's important for us to tell Republicans that we will stand with them if they do the right thing.


VAWA has bipartisan support and in recent days, dozens of Republican members of Congress have offered real solutions and solid support for the provisions that include all victims.  Last week, Congressmen Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Tom Cole (R-OK) introduced H.R. 6625, a stand-alone bill which contains compromise language to address Republican concerns that the tribal jurisdiction over non tribal defendants is unconstitutional. These good faith efforts to find common ground and a path forward must not be dismissed. 


CALL immediately to Speaker Boehner's 202-225-0600 or 202.225.6205 and House Majority Leader Cantor's office 202-225-2815 or 202. 225.4000 and strongly urge House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Speaker Boehner to seize the moment and get this bill done with the compromise tribal jurisdictional provisions intact.  This is their opportunity to be leaders in all of this and we are prayerful and optimistic that they will put politics aside and pass a VAWA inclusive of those thus far left behind.  House leadership needs to hear loud and clear that now is the time to pass a VAWA for all victims—Native women included.  And they need to also hear that a VAWA which does not protect Native women and does not hold perpetrators accountable is unacceptable. 


All victims of violence – including Native Women - cannot afford to wait another year for justice.


For your light reading:


in the states:

Monday, December 10, 2012

Head of Women's Affairs in Afghanistan killed

This is horrible news, and another reason why Muslim feminists, like myself, must feel like we can work with our non-Muslim counterparts without feeling the need to justify our religion.  We must work together to safeguard women in Muslim countries and beyond.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Sen. Schumer: New Yorkers are counting on you to protect the 99% - not the 1%

Below is an email from Jamie Kemmerer, a MoveOn member in Brooklyn who created a petition on, the nonprofit site that allows anyone to start their own online petition. Jamie is delivering this petition to Sen. Schumer's local office tomorrow, so please sign and share right away.

Dear New York MoveOn member,

The middle class has been bearing the burden of our nation's economic struggles—we should not also bear the burden of the trickle-down deficit. Our social safety net is sacred. Tax fairness is the American way. Investing in jobs and middle class wages is the true priority of the day.

That's why I created a petition on to our U.S. Senator, Charles Schumer, which says:

Senator Schumer, we urge you to stand up for us and future generations and make sure any fiscal deal reached ends the Bush tax cuts for the top 2% AND protects Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits from any cuts. This is what we voted for in November, and we expect you, our elected official, to vote the same way.

Click here to add your name to this petition, and then pass it along to your friends.


–Jamie Kemmerer

Petition against Walmart, Gap & H&M after the fire in their factory that killed 122 workers
Walmart, Gap & H&M: Protect factory workers against deadly fires like the ones that killed 122 people this weekend in Bangladesh.
Sign Lovely's Petition

My name is Lovely* and I live in Bangladesh. This weekend, my worst nightmare came true. Ever since I survived a fire in a garment factory I worked in when I was 11, I've wondered when the next deadly fire would happen.

A few days ago, a fire killed at least 122 people who were working in a factory that was making clothing for Walmart outside the capital, Dhaka. There were no emergency exits and no evacuation plan. People burned to death. It was my worst nightmare come true.

I started a petition on because I think American companies like Walmart can save others from suffering like me and the 700 people who have died in factory fires in Bangladesh in the past 7 years. Please sign my petition calling on Walmart and the largest retailers that buy Bangladeshi apparel to commit to a real fire safety program that is legally binding, transparent and empowers workers to fight for our own safety.

Already, two American companies -- Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein -- have joined a comprehensive fire safety program for workers in Bangladesh. The program is transparent, includes worker input and is legally binding. It will keep workers like me safe and give workers' families legal rights if fires do happen.

The fires that do occur happen because most companies that buy the clothing we make don't talk to us workers about what we need for our own safety. Instead, they abandon us when factories like the one I worked in don't pass inspections. But we don't stop being in danger -- the companies just stop feeling responsible for our safety.

Companies like Walmart, Gap and H&M can join Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein to save lives in Bangladesh. But only if we call on them to do so right now. Please join me in calling on the top buyers from Bangladesh to do the right thing by signing my petition now.

Thank you.

Lovely from Bangladesh


*I am not revealing my last name for my own security.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Save Our Elections: Get Google To Leave The Chamber Of Commerce NOW!

With Chamber members like Walmart and Pfizer buying our elections and cheating the system, it's past time for Google to leave the lobbying firm for good.
Sign the Petition!

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is a shadow organization, a corrupt collection of corporations that's had its hand in everything from the Great Recession to our failure to address climate change.

Now Chamber members like Walmart are trying to buy the November elections – and if Google wants to keep our business, it needs to cut ties with the organization threatening our democracy.

Tell Google CEO Larry Page: Leave the U.S. Chamber of Commerce now!

With plans to spend up to $100 million dollars influencing who gets into office this fall, this organization's meddling is set to have a disastrous effect on our economy, our environment and our everyday lives.

But we have the power to change that.

Over the past five years, more and more companies have been leaving the COC over its opposition to climate legislation, its widespread corruption, and its backing for anti-Internet proposals like SOPA and PIPA. We've already gotten Apple, Nike and Yahoo to leave – now let's get Google to leave, too.

Tell Google CEO Larry Page: Leave the U.S. Chamber of Commerce now!

The Chamber's corporate backers like the power the organization gives them – but they won't like being associated with buying elections, violating our rights and destroying the environment. Let Google know how much it stands to lose by staying – tell CEO Larry Page to pull Google from the Chamber of Commerce now!

MESSAGE TO LARRY PAGE: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is a threat to our democracy. We urge you to end your membership now, before we leave your company for one that has.

Click here to sign -- it just takes a second.

-- The folks at

P.S. If the other links aren't working for you, please go here to sign:

Friday, December 7, 2012

Walmart and Bangladesh Deadly Fire that Killed 112 Workers

As a Bangladeshi American, this story has multiple connections to me, in addition to the obvious feminist issues like labor rights violations and loss of life.  


Documents Undermine Walmart Account on Deadly Bangladesh Fire
December 6, 2012
The Blog

Two news reports yesterday shed new light on Walmart's
relationship to the Bangladesh factory where at least 112
workers died in a November 24 fire. One shows Walmart's role
in defeating a proposal for retail corporations to pay for
safety improvements; the other shows that multiple Walmart
suppliers used the factory this year.

"Walmart's efforts to evade accountability make a mockery of
its pretensions to be committed to protecting the rights of
workers in its supply chain," said Scott Nova, the executive
director of the Workers Rights Consortium, in an e-mail to
The Nation. Walmart did not respond to a request for comment
late last night.

In a Wednesday morning article, Bloomberg News reported an
April 2011 meeting in Dhaka, Bangladesh, at which major
retail corporations considered a proposed agreement under
which they would pay more so that their suppliers could make
safety improvements. Ineke Zeldenrust of the Amsterdam-based
NGO Clean Clothes Campaign told Bloomberg that Walmart's
director of ethical sourcing, Sridevi Kalavakolanu, said at
the meeting that Walmart would not agree to pay the higher

Bloomberg reporters Renee Dudley and Arun Devnath also
revealed a document written by Kalavakolanu and a Gap
official, which was included in the meeting's minutes, which
stated, "Specifically to the issue of any corrections on
electrical and fire safety, we are talking about 4,500
factories, and in most cases very extensive and costly
modifications would need to be undertaken to some factories.
It is not financially feasible for the brands to make such

Zeldenrust, the Clean Clothes Campaign's international
coordinator, told the New York Times' Steven Greenhouse that
Walmart was the company that "most strongly advocated this
position." The 2011 meeting followed dozens of deaths in
Bangladesh factory fires. The Tazreen factory in Bangladesh,
the site of last month's deadly fire, had limited fire exits
and no fire escapes.

"No company," Nova told The Nation, "that is unwilling to
pay [factories] enough to make it possible for them to
operate safely can claim to be interested in any way in the
rights or safety of workers."

The Times article, also published Wednesday, revealed that
at least three supplier companies were using the Tazreen
factory during the past year to provide apparel for Walmart
and its subsidiary Sam's Club. According to Greenhouse, the
documents "include an internal production report from mid-
September showing that 5 of the factory's 14 production
lines were devoted to making apparel for Walmart." Another
Bloomberg article by Dudley yesterday reported that at least
five Walmart suppliers used the Tazreen factory.

These articles may draw renewed scrutiny to Walmart's
account of its role in the factory and the Bangladesh
apparel industry. As The Nation has reported, following the
November 24 fire, Walmart initially said it could not
confirm that it had ever sourced apparel from the Tazreen
factory, and could not confirm the authenticity of a
document found on the website of Tazreen's parent company,
Tuba Group, which showed that a Walmart audit had uncovered
"higher-risk violations" in the factory in May 2011. Photos
taken by Bangladeshi labor activists, first published by The
Nation on November 26, showed Walmart-branded clothing
present in the factory after the fire.

In an evening statement November 26, Walmart said that it
had suspended the Tazreen Factory prior to the fire, but a
supplier had continued filing orders there on Walmart's
behalf in violation of Walmart's decision. Walmart called
the incident "extremely troubling," said that it had
terminated the rogue supplier, and again touted its ongoing
"work across the apparel industry to improve fire safety
education and training in Bangladesh." Following the
statement, Walmart declined The Nation's request for comment
regarding the identity of the supplier and when the factory
ceased to be authorized.

The WRC's Nova, who provided the documents to the Times,
told The Nation that they clearly establish that there were
multiple Walmart suppliers using the Tazreen Factory as
recently as April of this year, and at least one when the
fire broke out. He added that there are "strong indications
in the documents, but short of certain, that it was still
multiple suppliers at the time of the fire," rather than the
single rogue supplier implied by Walmart's statement. The
WRC is a labor monitoring group whose board is composed of
students, university administrators, and labor
organizations. (Some of the Tazreen documents are posted
below; they were provided to The Nation by the Corporate
Action Network, which also posted them on its own website.)

Nova also called Walmart's role in the 2011 Dhaka meeting
"especially revealing." He described Walmart's position as
"1) We know these factories are unsafe. 2) We know it will
cost substantial sums to make them safe. 3) We are not going
to pay for this. 4) We are going to keep using the factories

Walmart's senior director for international corporate
affairs, Kevin Gardner, told the Times that the 2011
comments from the company's ethical sourcing director had
been taken "out of context" and that "Walmart has been
advocating for improved fire safety with the Bangladeshi
government, with industry groups and with suppliers."
Regarding the documents showing multiple suppliers active in
the factory this year, Gardner told Greenhouse, "As we've
said the Tazreen factory was deauthorized months ago. We
don't comment on specific supplier relationships."

The Corporate Action Network, which helped organize Black
Friday protests in support of US Walmart retail workers, has
posted resources on its website encouraging activists to
"end deathtraps for Walmart workers" by signing a petition,
writing a letter to the editor, and installing a "memorial
shrine to the victims of the Tazreen factory fire at a
Walmart near you." Some US retail workers in union-backed
group OUR Walmart are raising money and holding prayer
services for the families affected by the fire in

"Walmart's greed and arrogance appear to be boundless," said
Nova. This is a company that siphons billions in subsidies
from US taxpayers, that has made billions in profits on the
backs of Bangladeshi workers, then scoffs at the notion that
it should be asked to pay one dime to protect those workers
from dying in factory fires while they sew Walmart clothes."

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Mon, Dec 10, 5pm: Tell Congress to Stand Up for the poor and against the top 1%

Host: Martha R. 

Where: Senator Schumer's office in midtown (in Manhattan) 

When: Monday, Dec. 10, at 5:00 PM 

Can you come? 
Click below for more details and to RSVP: 

Yes, I'll be there!
I can come. 

I can't make it.
Sorry, I can't make it, but I'm interested in getting more updates. 

What: Republicans and some Democrats are playing political games that could cause more taxes for the middle and working class and cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid benefits. MoveOn members are speaking out and demanding an end to the Bush tax cuts for the top 2% and protection for crucial social programs. We'll be speaking out, sharing personal stories, and calling on members of Congress to stand up for the masses—not millionaires. Can you join us to rally and speak out in Manhattan on Monday?

P.S. Can't make this event? Click here to find another event near you.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

U.S. Violence Data Bolsters Case for Passing Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)

Women's eNews

U.S. Violence Data Bolsters Case for Passing VAWA

By Claire Mc Cormack

WeNews correspondent

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The lame-duck Congress has two weeks left to renew the Violence Against Women Act. Safety advocates say new data about a stunning drop in intimate-partner violence is good reason for lawmakers to speed passage.

NEW YORK (WOMENSENEWS)--Women's safety advocates welcome last's week's report of a steep and long-term decline in intimate-partner violence in the United States and say it's a good reason for lawmakers to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act before the end of the year.

"It doesn't surprise me that intimate-partner violence cases have declined dramatically," said Kim Gandy, CEO of the National Network to End Domestic Violence, in a phone interview.

"These numbers prove that the Violence Against Women Act is working and effective," Gandy added, referring to a 1994 law enacted with bipartisan support that provides critical services for survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence.

The Bureau of Justice Statistics' Nov. 27 report indicates a national overall decline of 64 percent in nonfatal intimate-partner violence between 1993 and 2010. Cases fell to 907,000 in 2010 from 2.1 million in 1993.

The figures included rape, sexual assault, robbery, aggravated assault and simple assault committed by a spouse, former spouse, boyfriends or girlfriend. They were collected from the agency's annual household survey of personal victimization over a 17-year period. Homicide was not included.

Discussion of renewal is now with the House of Representatives and supporters of the Violence Against Women Act are concerned that, with two weeks left, the law may be allowed to expire.

"The opportunity is now before the end of the year," said Gandy. "Women shouldn't have to wait another day."

On the Agenda

Renewal of the bill is on the agenda for Congress now that the election is over.

In April, a version of the Violence Against Women Act was approved by the Senate, despite strong Republican opposition to certain provisions, such as expanding protections to same-sex couples, continuing to allow victims who are undocumented immigrants to claim temporary visas and permitting Native American rape victims to prosecute their non-Indian assailants. The latest version in the House also would expand free legal assistance to victims of domestic violence and extend the definition of violence against women to include stalking. Republican House members remain opposed to these provisions.

Gandy, a former prosecutor of violent offenders, said government investment and funding had helped ensure more safety for women. "It's money well spent and hugely increases coordination in communities to support victims, advocates, prosecutors and the courts."

Liz Roberts, chief program officer of the New York-based victims' services agency Safe Horizon, said the numbers are encouraging and a credit to domestic violence advocates, law enforcement and public and private funders.

"But domestic violence remains a serious and pervasive threat to the health and well-being of women and children in this country," said Roberts. "For the reason of these findings, we urge all members of Congress to join together to pass the Senate version of the Violence Against Women Act."

One in every four women will suffer domestic violence in her lifetime, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Claire Mc Cormack is a reporter based in Dublin and New York.

Tell Congress on 800-998-0180: NO CUTS to Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid

Tell Congress on Wed, Dec. 5:
NO CUTS to Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid

Take Action - NO CUTS to Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid; Call on Wed 12/5: 1-800-998-0180

December 4, 2012

Please take a minute to use the toll-free number below -- as we join with our coalition partner, the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare -- to make sure Congress hears our message loud and clear.

NO CUTS to Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid
Call on Wed 12/5: 1-800-998-0180

After a lifetime of unequal pay, women rely disproportionately on Social Security and Medicare in their retirement years. Medicaid is equally crucial for women, providing health coverage to some 10 million women last year alone.

Yet Republican leaders in Congress are insisting that these programs be cut substantially rather than allowing the Bush-era tax cuts to expire for the wealthiest. Very little time remains in this lame duck session for negotiations over the so-called fiscal cliff to conclude before an automatic across-the-board cut to all federal programs goes into effect.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has said that Social Security is NOT on the table in these discussions because the system is self-financed and by law cannot contribute to the federal debt.

However, we have heard that conservatives in Congress want to impose a change in the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA), altering the way that Social Security benefits are calculated to keep up with inflation. Conservatives want to switch to an index called the "chained CPI," which would, in fact, result in a serious reduction in Social Security benefits. The average 65-year-old Social Security beneficiary would lose about $130 in benefits the first year, but by the time that senior is 95, the amount would be $1,400. For many elderly women, Social Security is their ONLY source of income, and such a reduction would be disastrous.

Please call on Wed 12/5 and tell your member of Congress to oppose the chained CPI and keep Social Security out of the fiscal cliff discussion.


In addition, conservative legislators and corporate-backed advocacy groups are pressuring negotiators for a range of harmful changes to Medicare, including increasing the Medicare eligibility age to 67, imposing a spending cap, or means-testing Medicare benefits.

NOW and our allies strongly oppose these changes to the structure of Medicare, as they would eventually force middle- and lower-income families to shoulder the lion's share of deficit reduction while the wealthiest continue to avoid paying their fair share in income taxes. Moreover, these dangerous cuts are not necessary: When the Affordable Care Act is fully implemented, controls on provider reimbursements will go into effect and other reforms will be made to control costs without denying health care services to seniors.

Finally, the most important health care program for low-income women and their families is being targeted. Three-quarters of Medicaid beneficiaries are women; the program provides their only source of reproductive health care and it supports the vast majority of nursing home residents who are women. Absolutely NO cuts should be made to this vital program.

Please tell Congress that NO CUTS to Medicare or Medicaid should be part of the debt and deficit agreements, and that Social Security should not even be considered in debt or deficit talks. Women are depending on Congress to protect these programs!

Take Action - NO CUTS to Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid; Call on Wed 12/5: 1-800-998-0180

Monday, December 3, 2012

From India, a Western Abortion Law Looks Deadly

I love America and wouldn't want to live anywhere else in the world.  However, I think some Western feminists have the racist idea that our brand of feminism is the best and we are the most advanced when it comes to women's rights.  The following is just another example why such an ethnocentric view is anti feminist and can be deadly.

By Sakuntala Narasimhan
WeNews commentator
Monday, December 3, 2012
The high mortality rates of pregnant women in India are a big topic of policy concern. But what about Ireland? An Indian woman just lost her life there because of that country's criminalization of abortion. At home her life would have been saved.