Discriminatory Drug Laws; Facebook’s Dirty Coal; School Bans Spanish

Just wanted to share this as these topics seemed interesting…

February 8 – February 14

Discriminatory Drug Laws; Facebook’s Dirty Coal; School Bans Spanish

Hey Iris,

While many of us have been watching the Olympics, Change.org’s Changemakers spent this past week tackling some of the most important issues we face.

Changemaker and NAACP President Benjamin Jealous writes on Change.org this week that drugs are tearing down America, but not in the way most people think. Over the last three decades, the U.S. prison population has more than quadrupled to 2.3 million people, largely due to the incarceration of African Americans and Latinos for nonviolent drug offences using discriminatory laws that disproportionately impact poor and minority communities.

Fortunately, there is hope that change might be around the corner. Changemaker and Executive Director of Drug Policy Alliance Ethan Nadelmann writes that support for drug reform is gathering unprecedented momentum. Beginning with medical marijuana, which 81% of Americans now support, Nadelmann argues that it’s only a matter of time before marijuana is taxed and regulated rather than prosecuted.

Instead of throwing away tens of billions of dollars per year incarcerating our fellow citizens for petty drug offenses, we could be investing in our future.

Changemaker and President of Children’s Defense Fund Marian Wright Edelman writes this week about a new report that shows the cognitive and behavioral disparities that occur between children due to poverty begin before a child’s first birthday – and will impact their lifelong well-being and productivity. Ending child poverty is not only a moral imperative; it is an economic imperative as well.

Continuing this theme, Changemaker and US Congressman George Miller writes about his meeting with First Lady Michelle Obama this week to discuss a related problem that will significantly impact the future health and welfare of our country: obesity. Diet-related deaths such as diabetes and heart disease kill far more than drugs ever will, yet receive relatively little attention. That too must change.

For more commentary on important issues from Change.org’s Changemakers, check out recent posts by Dr. Helene Gayle, CEO of CARE, and Jerry White, co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. And for more news and commentary from your favorite causes, see the summaries below.

Top Actions This Week

Hey, Texas: Please Don’t Execute an Innocent Man
by Matt Kelley
Take action »

Demand Global Medical Assistance for All
by AmeriCares
Take action »

Don’t Let Ex-Gay Propaganda in Public Schools
by Michael Jones
Take action »

Start a Petition »

Facebook’s Dirty Coal
Facebook recently announced it would build its first data center – an army of servers in Oregon to process your status updates and Scrabble games. But instead of joining Google and Microsoft in using Oregon’s hydro power, Facebook will be buying more polluting and carbon-intensive coal power from Idaho. That has Environment blogger Tara Lohan hitting her “Dislike!” button, and calling on folks to send Facebook a message that they should switch from dirty coal. (Read more)
School Bans Spanish
In 2008, a new elementary school principal in Charlotte, North Carolina instituted a rule that banned any school staff members from speaking to parents in Spanish. Banning language in school is a pretty ridiculous decision, but it gets even worse. As Immigrant Rights blogger Danny Rangel writes, one secretary was fired for refusing to comply, after the principal told her she couldn’t translate for a Spanish-speaking parent making claims that her son was sexually assaulted in school. (Read More)
Haiti in Perspective
This week marks one month since Haiti experienced one of the most devastating natural disasters in history. To put the disaster in perspective, Global Health blogger Te-Ping Chen compares what the U.S. would look like if it faced a similar catastrophe. The results might shock you. It would be as though the entire state of North Carolina was wiped out, and all of Pennsylvania would have suffered injuries from the quake. To top it off, 36 million people in California would be living in makeshift camps without shelter, bracing for the onslaught of rain and water-borne disease. (Read more)
Blackwater Buys Prostitutes
In 2006, a Blackwater employee charged the federal government for “morale welfare recreation.” What type of “recreation” was this? According to Human Trafficking blogger Amanda Kloer, it was the sexual services of a woman from the Philippines, brought to Afghanistan to service the foreign military and security workers there. Is that where you want your taxes going? Blackwater employees aren’t entitled to sex as part of their job, and they certainly aren’t entitled to it at the expense of taxpayers. (Read More)
Landmines in Israel
Last week, as Israeli families headed to the Golan Heights to play in the snow, one family’s fun turned into a tragedy. Changemaker Jerry West, an American landmine survivor and co-winner of the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize, writes that a mine exploded, mangling a boy’s foot, injuring his siblings, and causing people around the world to ask: Why are hundreds of thousands of mines still buried throughout the Holy Land? It’s time to take action now and urge Israel to remove active landmines from its nature reserves. (Read More)

Have a great week,

– The Change.org Team


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