Benjamin was Change.org’s first chief of staff and founding vice president of communications. He built our global team of communications specialists, which presents Change.org to audiences in more than 20 countries, and helps Change.org petition starters tell their story through thousands of top tier media hits each month. A journalist and editor in a previous life, Benjamin’s work has appeared in a wide variety of media, including Arab News, Bloomberg, Foreign Policy Magazine, COLORS, Ms Magazine, The Economist, Atlantic, BBC, Guardian, Telegraph, New Statesman, and Progressive. He was awarded CNN’s Africa Print Journalist of the Year, Young Journalist of the Year (British Foreign Press Association), and a Society for Environmental Journalism award. Benjamin is a dual US / South African citizen, and studied History, Feminist Studies and Education at the University of Toronto (Canada), Birzeit University (Palestine), McGill University (Canada) and Oberlin College (US).
Come back to NYC
1. We miss you 2. North Carolina had problems. Like, serious problems. 3. There is no Change office in NC. 4. Danny is lonely. 5. We miss you.
Leave the Swamp that is DC and Hasten Your Move to NYC
Let's face it: DC is an ecological and cultural swamp that doesn't even compare to the joy that is NYC. Matt and Patty have been there way too long and it's high time for a Change. But now the radical left is launching a selfish, politically-motivated campaign to keep the Slutsky family in DC. We can't let that happen. Stand up for what's right, and join the Slutsky NYC movement! Signing this also means you agree that BJW smells bad.
50 Cent: Donate Gaddafi Blood Money to Charity
A number of American celebrities have performed for the family of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi: 50 Cent, Beyonce, Enrique Iglesias Lionel Richie, Mariah Carey, Nelly Furtado, Timbaland and Usher.But as Gaddafi and his sons lead the bloody suppression of a huge popular uprising, there has been growing international outrage over the collusion of well known celebrities with the Gaddafi family. In recognition that they're on the wrong side of history - many of the artists have started donating the fees they were paid. But there are more who should, and we call on them to donate their ill gotten gains rather than sitting on the profits they reaped from from one of the most brutal and longest serving dictators in the world.Nelly Furtado, who performed for the Gaddafi family for 45 minutes at an Italian hotel in 2007, was first to announce she would give her $1 million earnings to charity. Beyoncé followed on March 3, announcing she had already given the $2m she received to perform at a Gaddafi family 2009 New Years bash to to the Haitian earthquake relief fund. Mariah Carey followed on March 4, saying she felt "horrible and embarrassed" for being paid $1 million to sing four songs at the same New Years party in 2008. Then on March 6 Usher, who was paid to perform and do the midnight countdown at the same New Years party, said he was "sincerely troubled" by the origin of the money and would give his earnings "to various human rights organisations."But the celebrity dominoes seem to have stopped there.50 Cent, Lionel Richie, Enrique Iglesias and Timbaland are all known to have been paid to perform for the Gaddafi family, and numerous celebrities like Jay-Z, Lindsay Lohan, Jon Bon Jovi, Bob Johnson, Russell Simmons and models Miranda Kerr and Victoria Silvsted all attended the private performances. The performance by 50 Cent, the stage name of rapper Curtis James Jackson III, is particularly egregious. 50 Cent performed was paid an undisclosed sum to perform at the 2005 Venice film festival for Gaddafi son Mutassim Gaddafi, Libya's national security advisor.Call on 50 Cent to do the right thing, follow the lead of Nelly Furtado, Beyoncé, Mariah Carey and Usher, and give his earnings from the Gaddafi gig to charity. Winning this campaign depends on our ability to call on thousands of supporters like you. After signing this petition, please follow us on Facebook - just click 'Like' at the top of the page.
DC Lobbyist: Stop Trying to Help a Democratically Ousted African Leader
You've reached your term limit as president. You've nonetheless forced the country into elections and then lost big time. Everyone and their mother is calling for you to step down. What do you do? Call a famous Washington lobbyist and see if exorbitant sums of money from one of the world's poorest nations can pull a few strings. Such is the case for the Ivory Coast's President Laurent Gbagbo, who by most counts lost last month's presidential elections, but is now paying $100,000 a month to high profile DC lobbyist Lanny Davis for "crises management", mumbo-jumbo-speak for 'use my country's money to get me out of this situation.'The Ivory Coast Election Commission declared Alassane Ouattara winner of the November 28 elections with over 54 percent of the vote. But the Constitutional Council, a body packed with President Gbagbo's appointees, then decided to exclude votes from districts supportive of Ouattara and declare President Gbagbo the winner. International observers have sided squarely with the electoral commission, as have the United Nations, United States, African Union and European Union. Even the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), not a body known for criticizing its own, has said its time for Gbagbo to go. So President Gbagbo turned to Davis. But rather than admit that he is being paid to represent the interests of a president who international observers say has lost an election and who's term has anyway reached its constitutional limit, Lanny Davis has depicted himself as a peacemaker, hired by President Gbagbo for 'crises management.'Lanny Davis is not a United Nations-appointed mediator. He is a high-profile lawyer taking exorbitant amounts of money from the ousted leader of one of the poorest countries on earth to help him suppress the democratic decision of his people.It's time to end this charade. If Lanny Davis wants to promote Mr Gbagbo, he should do so without taking the Ivorian people's money. If he prefers to play peacemaker, he should contact the Economic Community of West African States, the African Union or the United Nations to see if there are any openings.Call on Lanny Davis to return all the money he has been paid from the Ivory Coast's public purse and to immediately drop President Gbagbo as his client.
Starbucks: Apologize for Expelling the Families of Torture Victims
Starbucks proudly claims to have "a positive impact" on the communities the company serves, but managers at a Starbucks outside Bahrain's Ministry of Justice and Islamic Affairs willingly and immediately agreed to an unofficial government request to kick out a group of journalists, international observers, human rights advocates and the families of torture victims being tried over their opposition to the government. Last month Bahrain put 25 human rights advocates, opposition members, bloggers and dissident clerics on trial two days ahead of the country's parliamentary elections for (among many charges) “forming an authorized group which incites to overthrow the government.” The trial is part of an extensive government crackdown on three Bahraini opposition groups, and the detainees claim they have been repeatedly tortured by Bahraini security forces. On November 25, 2010, dozens of journalists and supporters of the detained human rights activists gathered outside the court for the trial, only to be turned away by security forces. With nothing to do, they waited in the Starbucks adjacent to the courthouse, a large group buying coffee and cakes. Then representatives of the Ministry of the Interior asked the Starbucks to lock the group of customers inside the facility, a request the staff willingly and immediately agreed to. A short time later, the representatives asked the Starbucks staff to kick everyone out and close down. Faced with a request to expel community activists and the families of torture victims, all paying customers, what did the Starbucks management do? Did they recall their mission to "bring people together," be "good neighbors" and "a catalyst for change"? Or did they succumb to the request and expel the customers? They kicked everyone out within minutes. Call on Starbucks to apologize for violating its own policies and collaborating with a government that tortures and violates the human rights of its citizens.
Stop the Train! German National Railways Stop Building an Israeli Train through Palestinian Land
Israel is building a new 28-minute bullet train to connect the cities of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem through occupied Palestinian Land, some of it privately owned, at a great cost to Palestinian communities. The train line's route breaks both international and Israeli law, and local Palestinian activists have called on the international community to help target the international corporations involved in the planning, engineering, tunneling and construction of the train line. "We, the people of Beit Surik, do not want the train line to be built on our land," Palestinian villagers affected by the train line wrote in a public letter. "We see as fundamentally important that the people of the world support our right to decide on the use of our own land and help us change the route of this train line." A number of international corporations are involved in the planning, engineering, tunneling and construction of the train line. They include: German National Railways (Deutsche Bahn), which is planning the electrification of the route and is owned by the German government. Pressure Deutsche Bahn to immediately end their involvement with the rail line. Call on the German government, whose rhetoric is supportive of Israeli withdrawal from the occupied Palestinian territories, to end their involvement in a rail line project which explicitly violates international law by appropriating Palestinian land.
Bahrain: Release Tortured Human Rights Activists
Last summer a number of opposition groups, which are officially illegal in Bahrain, jointly called for a boycott of upcoming elections in the tiny Gulf Kingdom of Bahrain, a staunch US military ally. Among a number of claims, the groups cited a pattern of vote rigging, corruption, “the absence of international and local monitoring" and the “legalization of dictatorship.” Eager to maintain an aura of democracy for the outside world, the Bahraini government responded with a harsh crackdown on opposition groups. Some two dozen human rights activists, opposition members, dissident clerics and critical bloggers were arrested almost immediately and charged (among many things) with “forming an authorized group which incites to overthrow the government.” The 23 defendants have been brutally tortured, for months on end, ever since Get very occasional campaign updates on Facebook - just click like at the top of the page. Meanwhile, a snowballing legal drama involving a veritable revolution of lawyers has been unfolding. The detainees' legal team quit in protest over their client's treatment, then the government appointed new lawyers to represent them, then they quit, and on and on. Bahraini human rights activists are calling on supporters all over the world to put pressure on the government of Bahrain to release the detainees and launch an immediate investigation into allegations that they have been tortured and sexually abused by national security officials. Winning this campaign depends on our ability to call on thousands of supporters like you. After signing this petition, please follow us on Facebook - just click 'Like' at the top of the page.
President Barack Obama: Sharanda Jones does not deserve to die in prison
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.