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Donations to Japan Delayed by Phone Companies

In our best attempts to take decisive and fast action in response to disasters, we are pleasantly surprised and happy to take advantage of easy giving opportunities like the many options to text a certain number to Japan earthquake and tsunami relief, resulting in a mobile donation to the cause. Well–it isn’t working the way we all hoped. After the Haitian earthquake, the phone companies processed such donations instantly, and got the money to the relief organizations in a fast-tracked manner—but for Japan, they are processing donations with the billing cycle of each donor, which means it might be as much as 90 days before your donation is remitted. Can you imagine how much will have changed in 90 days? And how much your support is needed right now? Three month’s delay for what you thought was immediate action? That’s kind of outrageous, and we have seen it is unnecessary bureaucracy taking precedence over true humanitarianism. has a petition for you to sign and demand that Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint release the donations as they are received, so help can get there fast. It is what we all thought we were doing, and the phone companies need to empower us to help, not stand in the way.

Can you hear me now?

Human Trafficking Awareness Day–January 11

Some of the annual”X, Y, and Z DAY” proclamations are fun…National Ice Cream Day…International Jumprope Day…American Chocolate Week. But today sucks. It is a travesty that a day like today needs to be proclaimed…Human Trafficking Awareness Day. There are millions in our world that are held in forced labor situations, sold or coerced into the sex trade, restavek children (institutional slavery in Haiti), and more. Freedom of choice has been removed from the equation for so many.

While it seems like it is, this is not an issue that happens “over there” or “way back when” but is happening, right now, all around us. It is far more comfortable to think slavery is an issue dealt with by ancestors or other cultures, but it an issue in our midst. The United States is a HUGE purveyor of slaves in each of the industries where they are kept working against their will (sex, farmworkers/agriculture, fashion/apparel, domestic work, industry, etc). The very least we can do is educate ourselves, and be proactive. Find out more at events and online educational outreach today (or tomorrow or next week or any time, as long as it’s soon). Start here ( and here (Free the Slaves), and then keep on digging. Your voice and action truly count and can make a difference.

Lend Your Voice–Help STOP “Corrective Rape” in South Africa

I’m going to South Africa in a couple of weeks, and will be blessed with amazing opportunities to experience some of the best safari experiences I can imagine while traveling around–it is a ridiculous and amazing part of my job that something like this is “work” and I am extraordinarily lucky and excited. What does not excite me, about South Africa, is this horrific example of misunderstanding, ignorance, and brutality that is not being appropriately addressed. “Corrective Rape” is when a male rapes a lesbian with the intention of “turning her” heterosexual…and it happens in South African townships more than you would believe. Women are brutalized and beaten, tortured, assaulted, sometimes murdered, all in a woefully wrongheaded attempt to condone power imbalance and “normalcy.” Men who are caught and prosecuted are released on criminally low bail, and justice is NOT served.

According to activist organization Lulekwi Sizwe, in the last 10 years:
*31 lesbian women have been murdered because of their sexuality
*More than 10 lesbians a week are raped or gang raped in Cape Town alone
*150 women are raped every day in South Africa
*For every 25 men accused of rape in South Africa, 24 walk free

Please join in advocating for the implementation of hate crime laws and appropriate penalties–the system, through inaction, cannot continue to condone or even tolerate this human rights violation. South Africa has one of the world’s newest (since the abolition of apartheid) and most progressive constitutions anywhere–and this turning a blind eye to such abomination is not in any way aligned with the magnificence of that nation. has posed an online petition for international concerned citizens to put pressure on the government of South Africa. Sign here and pass the word on to the people you know. Pressure from the international community can be a powerful tool. Please help.


We’ve Run Out of Visas for Crime Victims

Immigration is an issue that grabs people’s spirit close to the root—I find people getting passionate about the issue more than I’d expect, and from that passion and oftentimes, anger, rash decisions get made and harsh laws get enacted. I don’t know how to defuse the level of heels-dug-in irrationality (on both sides, I fear), but I do, personally, find this situation untenable.

Since 2007 (and how absurd is it that it took us until 2007?), the United States has created a particular visa, called a U Visa, for undocumented victims of violent crime, sexual assault, and human trafficking, who cooperate with legal authorities to capture the perpetrators of the crimes against them. You can imagine how often victims of sexual assault and human slavery/trafficking (an epidemic here in the US as well as around the world) are told by kidnappers/pimps/etc that if they go to the authorities they’ll be deported and/or imprisoned. Most are so fearful of the US Immigration repercussions that they put up with violent assault or ongoing slavery/trafficking (and we are often talking about kids here–10, 11, 12 years old, too many of them…and of course, in many of these cases, it is the trafficker that has brought the victim into this country against their will and undocumented).

So this victims visa, the U Visa, can really help cut down on violent crime and trafficking…BUT… the government has a cap and only allows a certain number of the U Visas to be issued per year…and they are all used up! When the new fiscal year begins in October, the next year’s U Visas can be granted, but between now and then? Tough luck victims. I’m sure somebody somewhere thought that putting an arbitrary cap on the number of these visas made sense, but I sure don’t see the logic. For the individual victim of violent crime, it really doesn’t matter how many before you were also victimized. It is so clearly, to me at least, a case of bizarre randomness being made into law based on statistics instead of humanity.

From “Think about it this way: 10,000 victims visas means 10,000 violent criminals who law enforcement is able to investigate and prosecute. We should offer as many visas as there are victims, to protect both those individuals and the public from as many dangerous criminals as possible. Sign this petition to tell Congress to eliminate the arbitrary cap on crime victims visas.