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Indiana's Gift to Mothers: Murder Charges for Miscarriages

Change.org - Women's Rights - Thu, 2012-06-07 10:08

Within days of Mothers Day, the Indiana Supreme Court denied Bei Bei Shuai’s motion for
transfer. In so doing, they upheld the ruling of a mid-level appellate court, which says that
feticide and fetal murder laws, intended to punish people who hurt pregnant women and cause
them to miscarry, may be used against a pregnant woman herself. In a staggering disregard for
medical expertise, the Indiana Supreme Court ignored five amicus curiae (friend of the court)
briefs from over 80 organizations, ruling instead that suicide should be a public health issue for
everyone else, but a criminal matter for pregnant women.

This case is not just about one woman. Legal cases set precedent for everyone. Most obviously
this case sets terrible precedent for pregnant women who have mental health problems. This
means that a woman can be arrested and tried for attempted feticide or murder if she cannot put
her depression on hold until after she gives birth. Unfortunately, pregnant women do not have
any more control over their experiences of depression and suicidal ideation than do other people.

Now, in Indiana pregnant women have been singled out for punishment. But let me be absolutely
clear about what this means for women who do things that might expose their fertilized eggs,
embryos or fetuses to risk, who experience pregnancy loss, or who try to terminate a pregnancy.

People wrongly believe that our criminal laws require the state to prove that a person, in their
heart, intended to cause the outcome: pregnancy risk or loss. But in Indiana, law only requires
that you intended to do the act (attempt suicide) or knowingly did the act (knew that she was
attempting suicide while pregnant).

This means that any time a woman, knowing she is pregnant, does or fails to do something
(like refusing cesarean surgery or failing to follow a doctor’s recommendation for bed rest) she
could be charged with a crime. This means that any miscarriage that occurs under “suspicious
circumstances”—including pregnancy losses whether met with a sigh of relief by women
unprepared for a pregnancy or extraordinary pain for the loss of a deeply wanted child—can
become a criminal investigation and conviction with a potential life sentence (45 years). And it
unquestionably means that a pregnant woman who lives in a place where abortion is inaccessible
and tries to take control of her life by terminating her own pregnancy can be tried for murder.

I am pleased to report that this week, after a year of incarceration, Ms. Shuai was finally released
from incarceration in a Marion County jail cell. She is far from free, however. Her release from
required raising and posting a $5,000 bond—half of which will never be returned. She must also
wear an electronic monitor which tracks her movements at all times, and which she must pay for
herself at a cost of $12 per day. She is not free of the serious criminal charges, or the upcoming
ordeal of a murder trial in which every aspect of the most unimaginably painful time in her life
will be recounted in open court and twisted to cast her as a cold-blooded baby killer.

Unimaginable pain is a gross understatement for the layer upon layer of tragedy that Bei Bei
Shuai has endured. Like the dozens of pregnant women who attempt suicide each year, Bei Bei
Shuai never intended to survive her suicide attempt. The anguish she must have felt to try to
end her own life was rivaled only by that of realizing that her attempt has failed and she must

continue to live. And then to have her one hope for the future, her baby daughter Angel, snatched
away from her is a grief so huge it could destroy even the most mentally healthy person. To
now drag her through a trial for murder is an unspeakable cruelty. Angel is gone, and nobody in
the world feels that more intimately than her mother, who underwent cesarean surgery to give
her life and held her in her arms as she passed away. Justice demands that the state drop the
charges against Ms. Shuai. Nothing will be gained by this case except the destruction of the life
of a woman who has already survived the impossible and a judicially-created law that will treat
women who have suffered pregnancy losses as no different from vicious murderers.

But beyond the impact that this will have on one woman’s life is the implication that it has for
any woman of childbearing age. At a recent protest against the War on Women, I saw a sign that
said “We won’t go back to the back alley.” Indiana’s message to us is that even if we manage to
survive the back alley, we have the prison cell to look forward to.

You can make a difference: Sign the petition demanding that charges against Ms. Shuai be
dropped.

Petitions Delivered Around the World for Release of Indonesian Circus Dolphins

Change.org - Animal Rights - Tue, 2012-04-24 11:00

A year has come and gone and 20 dolphins are still being kept illegally in substandard conditions as part of the Indonesian traveling circus industry. After it was discovered that the dolphins were acquired without the proper permits, the Indonesian government set up a Memorandum of Understanding last year to transfer the dolphins to Jakarta Animal Aid Network and Earth Island Institute for rehabilitation and release.

The transfer was scheduled to take place on March 10, 2011. At the last minute, the Indonesian government backed out. The dolphins continue to be transported in tiny tanks and perform circus tricks while the brand new facility built to accommodate the dolphins’ rehab still stands empty.

Dismayed by the lack of action from the Indonesian government, Barbara Napoles launched a petition asking Indonesia to release the dolphins as agreed upon in the MOU. “These dolphins were wild-captured by fishermen and sold to the circus,” Barbara told me. “They, along with 52 other traveling circus dolphins, deserve better living conditions.”

The anniversary of the dolphins' scheduled release sparked international outcry that led to demonstrations and petition deliveries across the world. Armed with over 4,000 signatures, individuals and the organization Animals Australia descended on Indonesian Embassies in the United States, England, Sweden and Australia to deliver copies of the petition.

In the Netherlands, the petition delivery marked the conclusion of a public demonstration held outside the embassy in Den Hague. The organizations EDEV and Dolphinmotion led the protest, with the support of The Black Fish, Bite Back and Sea First Foundation. At the embassy gates, the official for the culture and social department met a dozen protesters carrying signs and flags. “The official was very friendly and interested and we asked him to urge the forestry department to maintain the MOU with JAAN as it was agreed last year,” EDEV representative Elisa Brongers told me. “JAAN only needs the permission because everything else is arranged to rehabilitate the dolphins.”

While the anniversary has come and gone without the dolphins’ release, there are still ways for you to get involved in the campaign to free the traveling circus dolphins from captivity:

1)    Sign the petition and share it with others on Facebook and Twitter.
2)    Contact the Indonesian Ambassador and the Ambassador to Indonesia and ask for action (in the U.S. the Indonesian Ambassador is Dr. Dino Patti Djalal and the Ambassador to Indonesia is Scot Marciel).
3)    Join the Facebook group Close Down Indonesian Dolphin Traveling Circus and stay updated with news and events.
4)    Visit the websites of JAAN and Earth Island Institute to volunteer or find other ways to help these dolphins.

Currently the Indonesian government has only agreed to the rescue of the 20 illegal dolphins, though as many as 72 dolphins are kept captive by the Indonesian traveling circus industry. Yet even those 20 dolphins have not been released to JAAN. Continued pressure is needed to remind Indonesia of its commitment to rehab and release these animals. Sign the petition and join the more than 15,000 people who have spoken up for the dolphins.

Photo credit: K Szymanski

How Wentzville Citizens Beat Their Breed Ban to Win Canine Equality

Change.org - Animal Rights - Thu, 2012-03-22 08:20

Amanda Kearney didn’t set out to be an activist. But when, like many other people, she unknowingly moved to a city — Wentzville, Missouri — where her dogs, Harley and Belle, faced harsh restrictions simply because of their appearance, she learned that you can take on city hall.

“I called aldermen, reporters and news stations out of panic," Kearney said. "I don't look at my dogs just as pets; they are members of our family. It broke my heart to see them in muzzles and always on a leash in our fenced in backyard, I had to do something. It wasn't fair for them."

Luckily the majority of her neighborhood was extremely supportive. They wrote letters and made phone calls, too, giving character references for Kearney and her dogs. When Tyanna Flynn heard about Kearney's plight, she started a petition on Change.org. The petition was shared by community members on Facebook and gained more than 2,500 signatures.

Flynn's partner, Paul Emmerich, contacted Best Friends Animal Society. Best Friends contacted the city council and the city attorney about how they could turn around their dog laws by repealing the breed discriminatory law and cracking down on reckless owners instead. The American Bar Association TIPS Animal Law Committee sent the city attorney a free copy of the ABA book, A Lawyer’s Guide to Dangerous Dog Issues.

But the key to Wentzville's success was that the residents mobilized. They packed the city council meetings. When speaking, they were factual and polite and they didn’t go away. Indeed, they followed much of the strategy set forth in Best Friend’s tool kit to fight breed discrimination.

The St. Louis-based Phoenix Pack rescue organization also supported the effort to repeal Wentzville's breed ban. "Wentzville is an inspiration for cities in Missouri to revisit their breed ban laws and start focusing on bad owners," said the group's founder, Gale Frey. "Cities have limited resources and their time and money needs to be directed towards bad owners instead of banning breeds of dog. Education is a powerful tool and hopefully using this tool will prevent dogs from unnecessary death."

While the support of outside experts certainly helped their cause, it was the determination of local citizens and their polite but persistent outreach that got the attention of city officials.

Democracy wasn’t muzzled in Wentzville. In the end, the dogs carried the day and canine profiling was repealed — another example of the continuing trend in cities and counties across the U.S. to end breed discrimination.

Photo Credit: Amanda Kearney

Day of Action: Save California's Shelter Animals, Save the Hayden Law

Change.org - Animal Rights - Mon, 2012-03-12 09:28

This is a guest post from Marla Tauscher, an animal law attorney in California who started a campaign on Change.org asking Governor Jerry Brown not to repeal the state's protections for shelter animals. 

In 1998, California enacted a comprehensive body of law, called the Hayden Law, to protect shelter animals and improve conditions for them. Among its core provisions are the extension of the mandatory holding period for animals, veterinary treatment for sick or injured animals, record-keeping for all animals, implementation of holding periods for pets other than dogs and cats, and maintenance of lost and found lists.

The Hayden Law was groundbreaking, and since its enactment, many other states have used it as a model for their own shelter laws. But now it's under attack.

Citing large budget deficits as a pretext, Governor Jerry Brown has proposed the repeal of the core provisions of the Hayden Law, because he claims the state can no longer afford to reimburse counties and cities for enforcement of the laws. However, that rationale ignores the fact that those provisions have been suspended and unfunded by the state since 2009.

Since then, California shelters are only required to hold animals for 72 hours and can allow sick and injured animals to suffer without any treatment until they are killed. In the year following the suspension, California shelters killed an additional 250,000 dogs and cats.

On Tuesday, March 13, 2012 at 1:30 PM, the first hearing will be held in Sacramento regarding the repeal of the Hayden Law.  The hearing will take place at the State Capitol and will be conducted by the Assembly Budget Committee Subcommittee 4. The Governor and the members of that committee need to hear from everyone who cares about this issue.  Your input is critical, particularly before any decisions are made.

Join today's Day of Action to let Governor Brown and the Budget Subcommittee know that there's strong opposition to repealing any part of the Hayden Law. Here's how you can help:

1) Governor Brown's dog has a Facebook page. Post a message asking Sutter to  help save California's shelter dogs and cats by saving the Hayden Law.

2) The social media-savvy first dog is also on Twitter. Send a tweet to @SutterBrown and @JerryBrownGov in support of the Hayden Law. Here are a couple suggestions:

Save shelter animals, Save #HaydenLaw. Don't repeal California's humane law @SutterBrown @JerryBrownGov

Dear @SutterBrown: Help save California's dogs. Don't let @JerryBrownGov repeal the #HaydenLaw

3) Call Governor Brown and the Committee members and ask them not to repeal the Hayden Law. (You can also send a fax):

  • Governor Jerry Brown, Phone (916) 445-2841, Fax (916) 558-3160
  • Joan Buchanan (Chair), Phone (916) 319-2015, Fax (916) 319-2115
  • Michael Allen, Phone (916) 319-2007, Fax (916) 319-2107
  • Roger Dickinson, Phone (916) 319-2009, Fax (916) 319-2109
  • Dan Logue, Phone (916) 319-2003, Fax (916) 319-2103
  • Donald P. Wagner, Phone (916) 319-2070, Fax (916) 319-2170
  • Bob Blumenfield, Phone (916) 319-2040, Fax (916) 319-2140
  • Jim Nielsen, Phone (916) 319-2002, Fax (916) 319-2102

4) Sign and share the petition. Nearly 50,000 signatures were delivered to Governor Brown's office last month, but he needs to see the ongoing, and growing, support for protecting the Hayden Law.

5) If you're in the Sacramento area, attend the rally on Tuesday, March 13 at 11:30 a.m. at the State Capitol. Details here: https://www.facebook.com/events/174625552652137/

The Hayden Law does not require anything more than humane treatment of animals entering California shelters. Repeal of these laws will do nothing to alleviate the current budget crisis because they are currently not costing the state any money. What repeal of the laws will do is guarantee that animals unfortunate enough to end up in California's shelters will permanently be denied the protections of the Hayden Law even after the economy improves.

Help make sure California's animals don't lose their basic protections.

Photo credit: spotreporting

Victory! Ohio Repeals Dog Discrimination, Other Governments Poised to Follow

Change.org - Animal Rights - Wed, 2012-02-22 16:20

Last year, Ohio resident Eric Schumacher was ticketed when he was out walking his dog. He had to pay $550 for insurance, plus spend another $1,500 to build a fence. His dog, Brutus, had never been a threat to other people — his only crime was being a pit bull.

Eric and Brutus don't have to worry about facing this kind discrimination anymore. This week, Governor John Kasich signed HB 14 and repealed Ohio's statewide breed discriminatory law.

Abolishing canine profiling in the Buckeye state was an historic accomplishment made possible by Change.org members, with Best Friends Animal Society and the Ohio Coalition of Dog Advocates leading the charge. The antiquated pit bull law not only resulted in the killing of thousands of puppies and dogs, it wasted millions of taxpayer dollars. Indeed, eradicating breed discrimination is not only an animal welfare issue, it is a property rights issue, and a matter of economic justice when people like Eric are forced to pay unfair fines just to keep their pets.

“A well-meaning but poorly conceived law is no more, and it represents a victory for Ohio dogs and their people,” said Gregory Castle, chief executive officer of Best Friends Animal Society. “It ends the practice of causing undue hardship to thousands of responsible owners of entirely friendly, properly supervised, well-socialized pets.”

Jean Keating, who started the petition on Change.org, said, "The Ohio Coalition of Dog Advocates would like to thank everyone for their hard work on HB 14. We're grateful for the support of Best Friends Animal Society and the nearly 20,000 people who signed our petition on Change.org."

In the wake of this huge victory for Ohio's dogs, other officials across North America are giving their breed discriminatory laws a second look. Bill 16 will soon be voted on this week to repeal the Ontario pit bull ban. Legislation to end the pit bull ban in Miami-Dade County — Florida’s only county-wide breed discriminatory law — gained momentum as it recently passed its first committee hurdles in both the Senate and the House with overwhelming support.

After learning of the Ohio law's passage Ruta Mazelis wrote, “Now I can tell my rescued pitty, Sea, that she is 'just' a dog and not the object of misguided hatred." Let's hope others, like Miami Marlins' pitcher Mark Buehrle and his family, can say the same thing to their dogs soon.

Fox News' Trotta Still Doesn't Get It: I Want Her Rape Apologism Off the Air

Change.org - Women's Rights - Tue, 2012-02-21 13:35

I had mistakenly thought that Fox New's Liz Trotta could not spew anything more hateful or ignorant than last week's broadcast claiming that military women should expect to be raped. How wrong I was.

While Trotta presents a multitude of straw man arguments, each as tempting as the last to chase down the rabbit hole, I will, unlike her, attempt to stay the course with this. This week, she attempts to defend herself from her critics, whom she claims simply do not understand what the military is "really" like. Because we apparently need a journalist to tell us Marines, Soldiers, Sailors, and Airmen what it's like to be in the military. It is clear from her scripted response that Fox has not required her to read any of the actual complaints. Had she taken the time, she would know that the mass majority of those who spoke out against her are far more aware of our military and how it operates than she.

Trotta boasts of "tours of duty" during various wars in which she was imbedded, again, not as a soldier, but as a journalist. I find it ironic that Ms. Trotta claims to have earned the respect of the troops, the troops she is defaming and the troops who so adamantly want her gone. She says she has nothing but respect and admiration for our nation's service members, yet continues to denounce the contribution of the some 20% who happen to be female and to consider the rest capable of rape. Amazing, coming from someone who, in the same breath, claims to be "very sensitive to the needs of the forces." Which needs would that be, Ms. Trotta? Your supposition on their need to rape when at war?

Her stance could not be more insulting to the many thousands of honorable men who have fought in combat for our nation and would never -- I repeat, never -- do what she claims is a "basic instinct" for men. And the man who raped me never saw a day of combat in his life. There was certainly no "war zone" in Camp Pendleton, California.

Liz Trotta so grossly misses the mark, not only in her understanding of the military, but in her understanding of rape psychology, as to harm the cause of those of us diligently working to actually solve the problem. It is not the "feminists" who are raping men and women in the military. It is not normal, good guys who allow their testosterone to "rule" while on the battlefield. Rape exists, to make it plain and simple, because rapists exist. As I said in my personal letter to Fox News, removing women from our armed forces will only serve to increase the number of male victims. It will not solve the problem.

The only way to solve the problem of rape and sexual assault in the military is to prosecute and imprison the rapists. That's it. To allow them to continue their crimes, claiming it was simply a matter of foregoing the "male/female niceties" when under the pressures of combat, is not just excusing a felony, it's not just telling the victim that's what they deserve for having been in the wrong place at the wrong time -- it is allowing the Department of Defense's statistics, which she loves to quote, to continue to escalate unabated. Rapists are violent, twisted criminals who will not stop until someone stops them. Until we extinguish the misguided and antiquated views of sexual crimes that justify such horrific actions, nothing will change.

It is for this reason that I implore all of you to join me in demanding Fox restore some level of respect by removing this woman from their broadcast. If we all boycott their channels, if we all write letters and make phone calls, they will listen. Please stand up for the many men and women who are survivors of rape and sexual assault, and are continually shamed into silence by those who agree with the sick perspective of Liz Trotta. Let us not allow her a platform to continue to spill out this divisive hate speech any longer. America, civilians and military alike, deserves better.

More than 5,000 people, including many current and former members of the military, have signed the petition to stop Liz Trotta's rape apologism -- will you?

Something different is beginning to happen

Change.org - Women's Rights - Thu, 2012-02-16 17:45

Something different is beginning to happen all over Australia. Every day people are taking a stand on local, state and national issues that matter to them, and they’re winning.

Change.org launched in Australia six months ago. There was a simple goal -- enable anyone, anywhere, to start, join and win campaigns about issues that are important to them.

In the last few months people have started petitions on Change.org leading to incredible results:

  • For the first time ever, Apple has invited independent inspectors to monitor working conditions in its factories after wall-to-wall media coverage in four continents of Mark Shield’s 200,000 strong petition on Change.org
  • After 25,000 people joined a Catholic priests’ Change.org campaign, the Qld government pledged to end the “gay panic” defence that allowed people to defend murder by claiming the victim was gay and “came onto you” first.
  • A program forcing nurses to pay $18,000 to return to life saving work is reviewed for breaching anti-discrimination laws after over a thousand people join nurse and mother-of-three’s Change.org petition.
  • Explosive media coverage and 50+ advertisers pulling out of Kyle Sandilands’ radio program after he made a series of abusive comments.
  • A huge victory for workers at Baiada Poultry -- the main supplier of chicken to Coles -- who have secured safe working conditions and an end to bullying and harassment by management.
  • A family saved from being sent into religious persecution and danger.

Now -- and in just a few short months -- we’re a community of more than 150,000 people, who have together achieved some amazing victories.

Scroll down to see a full description on how individuals started and won these and other recent campaigns.

The idea that anyone can stand up and shape their community shouldn’t be a radical one -- but for too long power has been concentrated in an elite group of companies, politicians and organisations.

We’re only just starting to see what’s possible, but as more and more people take advantage of new tools and technology to come together and work for change, the impact will be tremendous.

You can start a petition about something you want to change at any time -- simply click here to start a petition on Change.org right now.

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Catholic Priest wins legislative change to end the “gay panic” defence in Queensland

A loophole in Queensland law meant killing someone wasn’t murder if the victim was gay and “came onto you” first. After seeing this defence used to defend a brutal murder in his own Church’s courtyard, Father Paul started a Change.org petition calling for it to be abolished. 

In just a few days, 25,000 people signed Father Paul’s petition, and there was front-page coverage in The Courier-Mail, Daily Telegraph, an op-ed published in The Punch (and responded to by the Attorney-General), and features on ABC Radio National and Channel 10’s The Project. 

The explosion of support and media coverage of Father Paul’s campaign forced a policy shift from the government -- they announced changes to legislation that will all but relegate the “gay panic” defence to the history books. 

Mark Shields’ petition forces Apple to invite independent auditors to inspect working conditions in its Chinese factories. 

Conditions at one of the factories producing iPhones and other Apple products has led to workers permanently losing the use of their hands, neurological damage and a rash of suicides. After hearing about it on radio, “cult of mac” fan Mark Shields couldn’t stand for it -- so he started a Change.org petition calling for Apple to protect workers making iPhones.

Something incredible followed -- more than 200,000 people signed his petition, a media furore erupted with wall-to-wall coverage across four continents, including some of the worlds largest publications like CNN, BBC, The Guardian, ABC and SBS News.

Last Friday Apple customers delivered the petition to stores in Sydney, New York, Madrid, London, New Dehli and others -- and this week Apple CEO Tim Cook ordered immediate inspections of its Chinese factories, and for the results to be published online.

Nurse and mother-of-three fights to stop nurses being charged $10,000 to return to life-saving work

A dire shortage of nurses is crippling NSW’s health system and putting lives at risk. Yet hundreds of nurses like Sarah Thornthwaite are being forced to pay up to $18,000 in course fees, childcare and travel costs to return to work. 

After taking five years off to raise a family Sarah Thornthwaite was shocked to find that she was being forced out of the job she loves. So Sarah started a Change.org petition calling on the Health Minister to stop charging nurses to return to life saving work. 

In a matter of days, more than a thousand people signed her petition, ABC Radio National and the Daily Telegraph picked up the story, and it’s forced the Minister Skinner to personally call Sarah to discuss the program. Pressure continues to grow for the Minister to support nurses returning to work and deliver an affordable and flexible re-training option. 

Kyle Sandilands campaign explodes across Australia

After Kyle Sandilands called a journalist a “fat slag” and threatened to “hunt her down”, grad student Emily Hehir started a petition calling on advertisers to boycott his show.

In just a few days 30,000 people signed her petition and there was wall to wall coverage in the Australian, The Herald Sun, The Daily Telegraph, the SMH, the Age and many more. Over 50 advertisers pulled out, including massive brands like Holden, Telstra, McDonalds, and Vodafone.

Industry insiders estimate the radio station responsible for backing Sandilands and his comments has lost more than $10 million in advertising, and pressure continues to grow for Sandilands to be sacked.

Mum of two wins victory for chicken factory workers after taking on Coles
Factory workers at Baiada Poultry were subject to bullying, harassment, pay at less than minimum wage and dangerous conditions. Coles bought 80% of its chicken from these factories -- and young mum Jade Cruse started a petition calling on Coles to suspend purchases until Baiada fixed conditions.

More than 4,000 joined with her and sent messages to senior Coles executives through Jade’s petition, reportedly crashing their email system. A few days later, management at Baiada Poultry caved to every single one of the workers’ demands.

One of the workers' negotiators said that Jade’s campaign was "critical" in getting the outcome, and workers got in touch directly, saying: "[we] send thanks to Jade Cruse and everyone who se nt a petition to Coles through Change.org. Your voices made a difference."

Small business owner wins intervention and likely permanent visa for valued employee
Tony, Dalia and their 6 year old daughter are Coptic Christians who have been living inAustralia for 7 years -- and the immigration department made a decision to deny their bid for asylum and send them back to Egypt the same week that 21 Copts like them were murdered.

Charlotte Saunders is a small business owner who employed Tony Nahal for much of the last six years. She started a campaign to save the Nahal Family -- appealing to Immigration Minister Chris Bowen to personally intervene and grant them permanent residency. After more than 7,500 people joined her petition, and significant coverage in the Sunday Herald Sun, the Nahals are on their way to being granted permanent residency.

Queensland PHD student changes political discussion on rape survivors
Gavin King is a candidate at the upcoming Queensland state election -- and he has previously suggested that if a woman is raped while drunk, then she’s partly to blame. Sarah Casey is a sexual violence researcher who started a petition calling on his party leader to disendorse him.

Sarah’s campaign took off -- 5,000 people signed her petition, making enormous progress in changing the political dialogue around rape survivors. For the first time ever, Gavin King has made a full and comprehensive apology, and his party has committed to an extra $250,000 a year for a rape crisis centre in Brisbane.

Progress! McDonald's Takes Big Step Toward Improving Pig Welfare

Change.org - Animal Rights - Mon, 2012-02-13 16:49

In a joint press release with The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), fast food giant McDonald's announced that it wants its pork suppliers in the U.S. to phase out the use of sow gestation crates. They've asked all of the suppliers to outline plans for the switch by May.

McDonald's believes that gestation crates are "not a sustainable production system for the future," while HSUS adds that it's "wrong to immobilize animals for their whole lives in crates barely larger than their bodies." This announcement is the most recent success in the growing movement against factory farming, including commitments from Smithfield (a McDonald's supplier) and Hormel agreeing to phase out the crates that confine the smart, sensitive animals in spaces barely larger than their bodies.

This is certainly big news in the food fight waged by so many advocates of animal welfare, environmental sustainability, and food safety. Not only is this progress for groups like The Humane Society of the United States and Mercy For Animals, which work against factory farming, but it's important news for consumers, too.

Last fall, more than 100,000 people signed a petition started on Change.org asking McDonald's to cut ties with Smithfield unless the pork producer recommitted to its promise to phase out gestation crates. Smithfield did exactly that, and the McDonald's announcement followed just two months later.

People just like you come to Change.org every day to start campaigns on issues including animals, sustainable food, and the environment. Today's announcement is the latest proof that when consumers collectively call for changes to happen, companies listen.

Photo credit: A. Sparrow

Progress! McDonald's Takes Big Step Toward Improving Pig Welfare

Change.org - Animal Rights - Mon, 2012-02-13 16:49

In a joint press release with The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), fast food giant McDonald's announced that it wants its pork suppliers in the U.S. to phase out the use of sow gestation crates. They've asked all of the suppliers to outline plans for the switch by May.

McDonald's believes that gestation crates are "not a sustainable production system for the future," while HSUS adds that it's "wrong to immobilize animals for their whole lives in crates barely larger than their bodies." This announcement is the most recent success in the growing movement against factory farming, including commitments from Smithfield (a McDonald's supplier) and Hormel agreeing to phase out the crates that confine the smart, sensitive animals in spaces barely larger than their bodies.

This is certainly big news in the food fight waged by so many advocates of animal welfare, environmental sustainability, and food safety. Not only is this progress for groups like The Humane Society of the United States and Mercy For Animals, which work against factory farming, but it's important news for consumers, too.

Last fall, more than 100,000 people signed a petition started on Change.org asking McDonald's to cut ties with Smithfield unless the pork producer recommitted to its promise to phase out gestation crates. Smithfield did exactly that, and the McDonald's announcement followed just two months later.

People just like you come to Change.org every day to start campaigns on issues including animals, sustainable food, and the environment. Today's announcement is the latest proof that when consumers collectively call for changes to happen, companies listen.

Photo credit: A. Sparrow

Super Bowl Countdown: 5 Actions in 5 Days to Protest Skechers' Dog Racing Ad

Change.org - Animal Rights - Tue, 2012-01-31 16:58

If you're a football fan, you're gearing up to root for the Giants or Patriots this weekend. But if you're one of the 119,000 people who have signed GREY2K USA's petition on Change.org, then you're rooting for the greyhounds. Not the ones that will be "racing" against Mr. Quiggly, the French bulldog in the Skechers commercial, but the ones behind-the-scenes of the ad. The ones who suffer in cramped cages at the track and who face serious injury during races where the ad was filmed .

From Boston to Los Angeles, Skechers stores were confronted this past weekend by dog lovers asking consumers to boycott the company unless it drops its Super Bowl ad filmed at the notorious Tucson Greyhound Park. The controversy has dominated the pre-game advertising buzz.

Now, with only 5 days left, GREY2K USA is asking its supporters to keep up the momentum. From GREY2K USA, here are 5 things you can do:

1. If you have a dog, greyhound or otherwise, please write a letter to Mr.Quiggly now. Send your dog’s message in care of CEO Michael Greenburg at michaelg@skechers.com. (Check out the letter from "Hope," a greyhound rescued from Tucson Greyhound Park.)

2. Join us for a second weekend of rallies for the greyhounds before the Super Bowl. Keep checking at BoycottSkechers.com to find an event near you or host one of your own using flyers and posters available on this page (pdf).

3. If you have not done so already, sign the petition and forward it to everyone you know. Your signature will generate e-mails to Skechers officials, celebrity spokesperson Mark Cuban and to Super Bowl host NBC.

4. Now go the extra mile and send your Skechers shoes back to company headquarters: Skechers USA, 228 Manhattan Beach Boulevard, Manhattan Beach,CA 90266. (Natalie Larkin of Michigan and Kelli Chickos of Florida already did!)

5. Finally, adopt a greyhound or donate to a local greyhound rescue. That’s right, turn Skechers’ mistake into your reason to save a dog’s life. See our adoption referral page today.

You can also keep urging Skechers to drop the ad by leaving a message on their Facebook page or sending them a tweet.

For more updates on the campaign, check out BoycottSkechers.com.

Photo courtesy of GREY2K USA

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