Barack Obama was the 44th President of the United States, and the first African American to hold the office. He was formerly a United States Senator from Illinois, a constitutional law professor and a community organizer.
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Dear President Obama,
Please join us in our effort to bring a very special refugee to America.
First—thank you. Thank you for maintaining your restraint and calm during a time of increasing fear and hatred. Thank you for taking a stance against the dangerous and divisive rhetoric of the past few weeks. Thank you for continuing to advocate tolerance and insisting that the United States will honor its commitment toward refugees. We stand with you in refusing to demonize millions of people due to the actions of a few violent individuals. We also agree that the United States must play an important part in sheltering innocent civilians displaced by war. Especially those wars involving our military.
Second—we’d like to bring your attention to a young woman who was turned away by America. Her name is Aya. We believe America’s rejection of Aya is a mistake. She is in the process of filing an appeal, and we’d like to invite you to personally learn her story and lend your voice to our advocacy on her behalf. We know she is only one of millions, but she is important to us. We believe that Aya is an innocent victim of the wars in both Iraq and Syria. We believe her when she says she loves America.
We do not believe that Aya poses a threat to the security of the United States.
Mr. President, Aya is in a very vulnerable situation right now. So if you believe along with us that she deserves to be an American, please lend your voice to our advocacy on her behalf.
Thank you again for welcoming refugees and promoting tolerance.
Sincerely,Friends of Aya.
Aya's story can be found here: www.facebook.com/humansofnewyorkSee her interview with Fareed Zakaria here: http://cnn.it/1QmVOX4Read more
Over the summer, we were alarmed to learn that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) will allow four Chinese facilities to process poultry raised and slaughtered in the United States, Canada, or Chile, then export the cooked poultry products back into the United States for human consumption.
China has an unusually troubling record when it comes to food safety. Specific instances include: dangerously high levels of mercury found in Chinese baby formula; more than 16,000 diseased pig carcasses dumped in a river to rot; more than $1 million worth of rat and other small mammal meat sold to Chinese consumers as lamb; and more than 300,000 Chinese children sickened, with several dying, from melamine-tainted milk powder.
Last year, according to news reports, a Chinese poultry supplier provided Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants in China with chicken fattened by large quantities of illegal drugs. And in the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently warned pet owners not to feed their pets jerky treats from China. Since 2007, approximately 600 dogs and cats in the United States have mysteriously died, and 3,600 have been sickened from eating Chinese pet treats, including those containing chicken or duck.
Yet despite these concerns, chicken can now be processed in China and sent back to this country for human consumption even though there will be no on-site USDA inspectors in Chinese processing facilities to ensure food safety. Furthermore, Chinese-processed chicken does not have to bear “Country Of Origin Labeling,” which means that consumers will not know if they are purchasing or eating chicken processed in China.
To make matters worse, under USDA rules, Chinese-processed chicken can be used in the National School Lunch Program and other federal child nutrition programs, despite the fact that children are particularly vulnerable to foodborne illnesses and dangerous chemicals.
Even more alarming is that chicken raised and slaughtered in China may eventually be imported directly into the United States, despite the fact that a December 2013 USDA audit found that China’s poultry slaughter system is not yet equivalent to that of the United States in terms of food safety practices.
Given the many reported, critical lapses in China's enforcement of its food safety laws, both Chinese-processed and Chinese-slaughtered poultry could pose a potential threat to public health in the United States, and immediate action by Congress and the President is needed.
By starting this petition, we urge Congress, President Obama, and his administration to stop chicken from, or processed in, China from reaching our supermarkets and the meals we feed our school children by:
(1) Ensuring that Chinese-processed chicken is not included in the National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program, Child and Adult Care Food Program and Summer Food Service Program; and
(2) Preventing funds from being used to implement any rule that would allow poultry raised or slaughtered in China to be exported to the United States.
Fourteen members of Congress have already publicly supported these goals in an open letter to the Agricultural Appropriations Committee.
We, Bettina Siegel and Nancy Huehnergarth are concerned parents who care a great deal about food and food safety. Please join with us and these lawmakers to show Congress, President Obama, and his administration that American consumers care about food safety for themselves and their families. Thank you!Read more
My name is Clenesha Garland and over 15 years ago, my mother Sharanda Jones began serving a life sentence with no chance of parole as a first-time non-violent offender under crack/powder cocaine sentencing disparity laws. I was 8 years old at the time and my world as I knew it was shattered.
I am now 23-years old and I fully grasp the fact that my mother is set to die in prison for the first crime she ever committed – a non-violent drug crime.
I know that my mother committed a crime and that she has to pay for her actions. However, after over 15 years I feel she has more than paid the price for her crime. She does not deserve to come out of prison in a casket.
Life without parole is the second most severe penalty permitted by law in America. Two co-conspirators testified against my mom in exchange for lessor sentences and received 7-8 years. Her supplier, another co-conspirator who also testified against her in exchange for a lessor sentence, received 19 years. All 3 co-conspirators have been released from prison.
The United States Sentencing Commission has determined that federal sentencing guidelines under which my mother was sentenced were flawed. This determination is evidenced by two guideline adjustments in less than 5 years in the realm of crack‑cocaine federal sentencing that drastically reduce sentences for these offenses.
Being without my mother for over 15 years of my life has been extremely difficult. But the thought that she is set to spend the rest of her life in prison as a first-time non-violent offender is absolutely devastating.
Please support my mother's petition for commutation (reduction) of her sentence. All I pray for everyday is the blessing of being able to spend my life with my mother outside of prison walls.Read more
Dear President Obama,
We write to urge you to build on your record as the strongest president in U.S. history for promoting equal opportunity for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Americans by signing an executive order to ban federal contractors from engaging in anti-LGBT workplace discrimination. Nobody should ever be fired or harassed just because of who they are or whom they love. We agree with Freedom to Work and many other LGBT organizations that if corporations are going to take money from American taxpayers, then they should have to abide by American values like judging people based on their talent and hard work, not their sexual orientation or gender identity.
DynCorp, a military contractor which profits from billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars, was recently exposed for running a hostile work environment in which one employee was bullied at work and called “faggot,” “queer” and “dick-sucker” on a daily basis. After more than 50,000 citizens signed a petition on change.org, DynCorp finally agreed to add LGBT protections to its anti-harassment policies. However, many more companies will take this positive step once you approve the executive order that your staff has already drafted and recommended you sign. In fact, research by the Williams Institute shows that by issuing an executive order, you will cover more than 16 million additional workers against LGBT discrimination. Your executive order will be popular: A recent poll by the Center for American Progress found that almost 70% of likely 2012 voters support this very executive order. That support crosses political party lines, with 83% of Democrats, 69% of Independents, and even a majority of Republicans in favor of presidential action to stop LGBT discrimination. Your executive order will be good for businesses and U.S. taxpayers: Most of the top government contractors – companies like Boeing, Raytheon, and Lockheed Martin – already have LGBT non-discrimination rules, and they adopted them because they realize that discrimination is bad for the bottom line. Your executive order will only affect the hold-out companies that still engage in prejudice. As taxpayers, we should never have our money squandered by letting our government subsidize discrimination and harassment. Most importantly, your executive order is the right thing to do: LGBT Americans deserve full equality under the law, and we expect our elected officials to promote equality of opportunity whenever they can. According to news reports, your staff at the Justice Department and Labor Department have already written and approved the text of the executive order, and all that remains is for you to sign it. We respectfully urge you to do so.Read more
My daughter Monique earned a stellar record for her seven years as a soldier in the United States Army, stationed in Kuwait. Now, she and her partner wallow in a Kuwaiti prison, facing 25 years on baseless charges.
After active duty, Monique and her partner Larissa later returned to Kuwait to work as military contractors. On the the morning of May 8, 2015, their house was raided and police confiscated one ounce of a “tobacco-like” substance. It was sent to a lab in Germany for analysis, and it was determined to be a substance that is completely legal in Kuwait. Yet, Kuwaiti officials held them in prison anyway. After 8 months of uncharged incarceration, the one ounce of legal substance magically turned into one pound of marijuana, and on January 12, 2016, Monique and Larissa were sentenced to 20-25 years in prison.
I am begging the US Government to do what it can to get my daughter and her partner out of jail and back to the States. They have clearly been targeted by the Kuwaiti government for their lifestyle, and could spend half their lives in prison for it.
This whole ordeal is a nightmare. One minute, I was expecting her for Mother’s Day, and the next, I was told she was in prison. Everything I have learned has been through her friends and her lawyer, who has only called to demand more money -- money for services he hasn’t rendered. Right now, I would do anything just to hear her voice.
To this day, I cannot understand how the US government has allowed them to remain in prison. They were not in possession of an illegal substance, yet their freedom and belongings have been taken away from them. They are being held captive in a foreign land for a crime they did not commit, with no help in sight.
I need all of you who read this to help me send a message to the US Government, and ask them to do what is right and get Monique and Larissa out of jail and bring them home. This injustice cannot stand. Please sign my petition.Read more
My mom, Josephine Ledesma, is a first time nonviolent drug offender who has already served 24 years of a life sentence for conspiracy to transport drugs.My mom never used or sold drugs, but agreed to give someone an envelope of money who was going to transport drugs from California to Tennessee at the request of a family member. She readily admits that she was wrong to get involved, but she shouldn’t die in prison -- 24 years ago is more than enough. I was 11 years old when she was arrested in 1990 and I will never forget that day. My two brothers were 13 and 7 years old.When the person who was transporting drugs was arrested, he agreed to “cooperate.” Because my mother went to trial, she was held responsible for everything that all the co-conspirators did and labeled a “leader,” enhancing her sentence. If she had cooperated, she would be home by now. Our mom has been a mentor to many women and a model prisoner. She works hard every day at a prison call center and is in charge of the payroll for over 200 employees. She organizes the Spanish Christian services and Bible studies and has been awarded numerous certificates for completing different classes. It’s not right for someone in prison to work so hard at rehabilitation if they are never given a second chance to apply those skills. She has 9 grandchildren who ask us all the time, "When is Grandma Josie coming home?"My mom has always been our rock. From prison she has been there to listen, give us advice, but most importantly to pray for us, always. She is a wonderful, caring and compassionate woman. But only a commutation of her sentence from President Obama can bring her home. She will be 58 years old this year and has already served 24 years for her mistake.Please sign this petition and help us unite with our mother. Thank you, Lizette Ledesma Read more
Imagine if you didn’t exist. You have no birth certificate, and the government has no record that you were ever born. For most of us, this is incomprehensible. But for millions of girls around the world, this is reality. Even though most countries have birth registration laws, according to UNICEF, 4 out of 10 births worldwide were not registered in 2012. That’s 290 million children living around the world today who are not counted. And this disproportionately affects the lives of adolescent girls in developing countries, deeply limiting their access to life-changing resources and opportunities. Time and time again, we have seen that when girls are empowered, they can change the world. But to have that chance, first they have to be counted. The Girls Count Act will make getting girls (and boys) a birth certificate a priority of U.S. foreign policy. Through this legislation, the U.S. will work directly with organizations like the United Nations, non-profit organizations, faith-based institutions, and others to help ensure all children are registered and everyone has an opportunity to succeed. The bill was recently passed with unanimous consent in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate. All we need now is for President Obama to sign this bill into law. President Obama has long been an advocate for girls’ and women’s rights, and we need his help to get to work, ensuring that all girls are counted. Raise your voice: Join with our Girl Up campaign and tell President Obama to sign the Girls Count Act.Read more
When I was 14 years old, I was kidnapped for a marriage to a much older man, as depicted in the film Difret. On the day I was abducted, I was raped by my would be "husband." I knew I had to fight back and escape the first chance I got.
I was taken to a hut and locked up. When I received another visit from my abductor I saw my chance. When he was suddenly called away, he left his gun leaning against the wall and the door unlocked. My father had taught me how to fire a gun, so I took it and ran. When he and his friends chased me, I shot him. It was the most terrifying, horrible ordeal of my entire life -- and I'm one of the lucky ones.
I was accused of murder and after 2 years in the courts, the judge ruled that it was, in fact, self-defense. My trial led to a re-examination of this tradition and the Ethiopian government is now working to end child marriage and female genital cutting by 2025. In addition, the African Union recently launched a campaign to end child marriage across the continent.
I am now dedicating my life to working on this issue and to give voice to the screams of unheard rural women and girls. I don’t want to see the same story happen to any more girls. And yet, it still is.
You can help. Please join me in ending child marriage around the world by signing this petition, asking President Obama to sign the executive order that would help prevent an estimated 39,000 child marriages every day.
This petition is supported by Global Fund for Women, Ms Magazine, Equality Now and Truth Aid.
The Call to Action
We need the Obama Administration and the State Department to deliver what was promised: a comprehensive strategy for ending child marriage.
In March 2013, President Obama signed the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act (VAWA) that included a commitment to ending child marriage worldwide. The law requires the State Department to develop and implement a comprehensive strategy to end child marriage and to direct U.S. foreign assistance to programs in countries where child marriage is prevalent. We are asking that this strategy be created and announced in 2015, and that it include the following whole-of government strategy:
+ Our foreign assistance agency, the U.S. Agency for International Development, would be directed to craft evidence-based, stand-alone programs to delay the age of marriage, foster girls’ agency and choice and promote equitable and rights-based societies that give girls the tools they need to thrive, while also leveraging our considerable investments in such areas as health, education and food security to ensure these programs are being fully utilized to address related elements of the practice.
+ State Department diplomats on the world stage and in bilateral talks with countries that have high rates of child marriage would be directed to raise the issue of child marriage as a U.S. foreign policy priority, and would work to ensure that carrots—and, where necessary, sticks—are deployed to encourage meaningful action by all countries to end this global scourge. Such a strategy would recognize and institutionalize the fact that child, early and forced marriage impacts the whole life of the girl and that holistic, rights-based approaches are therefore necessary to end it.
+ A draft Strategy is sitting at the Department of State. While the President and the First Lady have recently launched an important effort to provide education for at-risk girls globally, until the President signs an Executive Order giving these efforts the full force of law, we cannot be certain that these efforts will be fully implemented and funded. And thus they will not make any real difference in the lives of girls all over the world.
Every day that we wait for the implementation of the new law to become reality, another 39,000 girls are married. This is unacceptable. When girls are forced into marriage early, entire communities miss out on their potential as change makers, economic drivers, and leaders. We must end child marriage to allow girls to realize their full potential in order to achieve the world we want. We need a coordinated, whole-of government strategy immediately.
You can help. Tell President Obama to issue an Executive Order directing the U.S. government to use its full force to protect and empower the world’s girls and end child marriage once and for all.
In U.S. Theaters October 23rd, 2015. Get tickets here: bit.ly/DifretInTheaters Read more
Dr. Stacey Addison, a Portland, Oregon veterinarian is unjustly imprisoned in the South East Asian country of East Timor. While living her dream of an around the world trip Dr. Addison had the extremely bad luck to share a hired vehicle with a stranger who committed a crime. She has been imprisoned, denied due process and can be held with no charge against her for one year. What should have been a trip of a lifetime has turned into a nightmare. I've known Stacey for 15 years and I'm helping her mother bring her home with this petition. Our government and the government of East Timor must take action immediately to release Dr. Stacey Addison from her illegal imprisonment.
On September 5th Stacey entered East Timor and shared a hired taxi from the border to the capital city of Dili with a stranger. This practice is very commonplace and usually safe. It’s like Lyft or Uber, but other people can share the car if it’s on the same route. Unknown to Stacey, the other passenger in the car was a criminal. En route he asked the driver to stop so he could pick up a package. The police were waiting, tipped off that the package contained illegal drugs. The car was surrounded by the police and everyone arrested.
After her belongings were searched, her drug test came up negative, and statements by everyone declaring they didn’t know her beyond sharing the cab were acquired, Stacey was still held for 5 days before being brought before a judge. She was given a conditional release, but told that her passport could be held for up to one year pending an investigation. Stacey found herself trapped and unable to travel back home to Portland, Oregon.
For nearly 2 months, waiting in agony and willing to cooperate, Stacey and her lawyer heard nothing from the authorities. Suddenly, on October 28th she was rearrested without a charge and taken to a women's prison. She was told that the prosecutor had filed an appeal to have her conditional release rescinded without notifying Stacey or her lawyer. This is a violation of her Human Rights and illegal under Timorese and International law.
Stacey is not a criminal. She is a dedicated and caring veterinarian, often volunteering for causes close to her heart. Even on this trip, before these horrifying turn of events, Stacey volunteered as a vet in Peru and Ecuador. This is who Stacey is and the last place she deserves to be is in prison.
We are sharing her story in hopes you will join our friends and family in calling for her to be released and for her passport to be returned. We already have the support of both US Senators from Oregon and the media is starting to pay attention. Your support could create the momentum needed to ensure Stacey gets home. Please take a moment to sign and share our petition calling on the East Timor government to free Stacey now and return her passport.
You can also go to the Facebook page Help Stacey for more info and "like" it to show your support: https://www.facebook.com/PleaseHelpStacey Read more
Right now, we have an opportunity to fix one of the biggest moral crises of our time.
1 out of every 100 Americans is behind bars. The U.S. spends $80 billion a year on incarceration. 70 million Americans have a criminal record. In too many neighborhoods, young people of color are more like to go to prison than college.
We have a critical moment of opportunity.
Important criminal justice reforms have been introduced in Congress and received the support of leading Republicans and Democrats. People on both sides of the aisle know we cannot continue to incarcerate more people per capita than any other country in the world.
Despite all the agreement, all the evidence, all the popularity and all the urgency, we are still awaiting votes on criminal justice reform proposals in the U.S. House and Senate.
This moment offers a once-in-a generation opportunity that could save entire communities and transform millions of lives. We must not let it pass.
Together, we can push Congress and President Obama to pass major legislation and get crucial bills signed into law this year.
Sign this petition. Demand that Congress take action to roll back the incarceration industry in America.Read more