Mother’s Day 2011 – Two Women’s Stories | WFWI

This Mother’s Day send a message to a mother you care about by sending a gift to Women for Women International. Choose a virtue that is close to your heart and share her story – like Khadija from Afghanistan. She is a twenty-year-old mother of four children, Khadija says her financial situation was poor upon enrolling in the program. Learning about women’s rights, financial management and job-skills training, Khadija purchased an embroidery machine and now sells items at bazaars to generate income so she can send her children to school.

This Mother’s Day send a message to a mother you care about by sending a gift to Women for Women International. Choose a virtue that is close to your heart and share her story – like Clessence from Rwanda. She is a twenty-nine-year-old mother to a girl and a boy. Before joining the Women for Women International program, Clessence performed manual labor, cultivating others’ gardens so she could have a source of food. Clessence and her husband are divorced, and her husband never provided any support — not even for their three-year-old son’s medical care. Send an eCard to an important women in your life today! Visit:


Bill Gates: Vaccines Save Lives | Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

In this animation created by Cognitive Media in partnership with the Gates Foundation, Bill Gates discusses the incredible lifesaving power of vaccines. In particular, he highlights the case of polio, which is 99 percent eradicated and within reach of being the second disease to ever be completely eliminated from the world.

Oil Giant’s Liability for Amazon Disaster On Full Display In Public Document | ChevronToxico

A hand covered in crude contaminates from an open toxic pool in the the Ecuadorean Amazon rainforest near Lago Agrio. Photo: Caroline Bennett/Rainforest Action Network

Lago Agrio, Ecuador – Lawyers for the Amazonian communities suing Chevron have submitted the first part of their final written argument to the Ecuador court, outlining the evidence demonstrating Chevron’s liability in the $113 billion environmental damages lawsuit and the fraud behind the company’s primary defense of remediation.

The court filing – called an “alegato” in Ecuador – details in exacting detail how evidence gathered by independent experts, the plaintiffs, and from Chevron itself proves the case against the oil company. The lawsuit was first filed in U.S. federal court in 1993 but was shifted to Ecuador at Chevron’s request. The plaintiffs are tens of thousands of persons who live in area of Ecuador where Chevron operated several large oil fields from 1964 to 1990, reaping excess profits by using substandard practices.

Chevron has long argued, as its primary defenses at trial, that no contamination in Ecuador is linked to its operations, that any contamination that had been present was cleaned up in a “remediation” conducted from 1995-98, and that any contamination remaining in the region was the responsibility of Petroecuador, Ecuador’s state-owned oil company which took over the oilfields after Chevron abandoned them in 1992.

Despite Chevron’s claims, a summary of the plaintiff’s alegato concludes the legal release used by Chevron as a result of that remediation is “null and void” because it was based on numerous false and misleading representations by the company. Instead of actually cleaning up the waste in the area, the limited “remediation” was largely accomplished by simply covering a small number of waste pits with dirt and then using an inappropriate laboratory test that counted only a fraction of the actual contamination to “prove” that the remediation had been effective.

“The voluminous scientific evidence in the case is summarized clearly in this historic document,” said Karen Hinton, spokesperson for the plaintiffs. “This evidence proves overwhelmingly that Chevron is responsible for what is widely regarded as the world’s worst oil-related disaster. We encourage all interested persons to read the alegato and judge for themselves whether Chevron is telling the truth about its deliberate misconduct in Ecuador.”

The document concludes that Chevron is responsible for ongoing contamination that is harming the environment and human health to this day, even though the company fled Ecuador in the early 1990s and stripped its assets out of the country. The document concludes as follows:

  • Chevron treated the environment “recklessly” and deliberately disposed of billions of gallons of toxic waste into rivers and streams over the 26-year period that it operated a large oil concession in Ecuador’s Amazon region. “These lax operational practices have had a devastating impact on the rainforest ecosystem and its inhabitants,” according to the document.
  • Chevron dumped more than 16 billion gallons of chemical-laden “produced water” into streams and rivers over 70 years after the industry had stopped the practice in the United States due to its damaging environmental impacts.
  • Chevron built and then abandoned more than 900 toxic waste pits filled with oil drilling byproducts such as barium, heavy metals, chloride, and acid – all of which need extensive remediation.
  • Chevron polluted the air by flaring gas with no controls, spilled thousands of barrels of oil, had no spill response plan, and ordered the destruction of records documenting oil spills.

The plaintiff’s “alegato” also found that “there is irrefutable evidence of contamination” at every one of Chevron’s 45 well and oil production sites inspected by the parties during the trial phase of the case in the affected area, which is 1,500 square miles in size and covers a swath of rainforest roughly the size of Rhode Island. The chemicals and compounds found – all of which are toxic and some of which are known carcinogens – include barium, benzene, cadmium, chromium, copper, etheylbenzene, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, vanadium, xylene, and zinc.

The alegato also explains how it is Chevron – not PetroEcuador – that is responsible for the contamination given that the vast majority of pollution occurred at the time Chevron’s 356 well sites were drilled and operated by the American company. The legal concept of “joint and several liability” also imposes on Chevron responsibility for 100% of the damage it caused because of the substandard system it built and operated.

“The evidence makes it clear and unmistakable that Chevron is guilty,” the summary of the alegato concludes. “Guilty of polluting the rainforest with toxic sludge from lucrative oil drilling operations, guilty of a shoddy and haphazard cleanup operation, guilty of letting toxic waste continue to devastate the rainforest and its inhabitants’ lives, and perhaps worst of all, guilty of trying to cover it all up by destroying documents and making false accusations of fraud before courts in the U.S. and Ecuador.”

The submission is the first of three parts. The second and third parts – which deal with damages and issues relating to due process – will be released in the coming days. Earlier damages assessment reports submitted by the plaintiffs found the company could be liable for up to $113 billion in costs.

Chevron submitted its alegato to the Ecuador court in early January.

Full Display In Public Document | ChevronToxico

House Republican Block Child Marriage Act -By Amanda Terkel | HuffingtonPost

Ghulam Haider, 11, is to be married to Faiz Mohammed, 40. She had hoped to be a teacher but was forced to quit her classes when she became engaged. / Photo: Stephanie Sinclair for The New York Times

WASHINGTON — On Thursday, December 16, the House took up the International Protecting Girls by Preventing Child Marriage Act of 2010. The bill would ensure that child marriage is recognized as a human rights violation, and develop comprehensive strategies to prevent such marriages around the world. The legislation seemed likely to garner strong bipartisan support in Congress, and in the Senate, it did. But last night, the bill was voted down in the House by Republicans who argued the bill is too costly and could lead to increased abortions — gripes the measure’s supporters say have no basis in reality and are just excuses to kill the popular bill.

The measure, introduced by Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), passed the Senate by unanimous consent and attracted a list of 42 cosponsors, including Sens. David Vitter (R-La.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.). It also had the support of nonpartisan groups like the YWCA. On Dec. 6, former president of Ireland Mary Robinson and Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post, praising the United States for stepping up: “This act illustrates how support for securing a just and healthy life for every woman and girl transcends politics.”

The House version, introduced by Reps. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.) and Ander Crenshaw (R-Fla.), had 112 cosponsors. What’s interesting is that some of them — such as Rep. Lee Terry (R-Neb.) — actually voted against the bill. In the end, only 12 Republicans backed the measure; nine Democrats defected to the GOP side. So what happened?

This week, a GOP whip alert went out about the child marriage legislation, saying that House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and Committee on Foreign Affairs Ranking Member Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) all oppose it. The email:

S. 987 authorizes $108 million over 5 years without sufficient oversight of the taxpayers’ money. According to the Congressional Research Service, there is no available, confirmed figure on how much taxpayer funding is already being used to fight child marriage in developing countries and this bill does not address that issue.In contrast, Ranking Member Ros-Lehtinen has introduced H.R. 6521, which would result in no more than $1 million in potential costs, while making it clear that child marriage is a violation of human rights and that its prevention should be a goal of US foreign policy; requiring the creation of a multi-year strategy; requiring a comprehensive assessment of what the United States is already doing and funding in the effort to fight child marriage; and requiring that the practice of child marriage in other countries be reported each year as part of the annual Human Rights Report.

There are also concerns that funding will be directed to NGOs that promote and perform abortion and efforts to combat child marriage could be usurped as a way to overturn pro-life laws.


The prevalence of child marriage remains alarmingly high worldwide. As CARE, a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty and supporting the child marriage prevention bill notes, “More than 60 million girls ages 17 and younger — many as young as 10 — are forced into marriage in developing countries. Many of these girls are married to men more than twice their age. Not only does this unacceptable practice thwart a girl’s education, it endangers her health and often locks her into a life of poverty.”

Reprint: House Republican Block Child Marriage Act -By Amanda Terkel | HuffingtonPost

Related: Child Bride Slideshow – By Stephanie Sinclair | NYT (Gallery)

Chile Earthquake Relief: How You Can Help

On Saturday, February 27th an 8.8 earthquake hit just off the coast of Chile, killing over 700 people (to date) and causing tsunami warnings in over 50 countries near the Pacific ocean. And while the physical destruction is not nearly as significant as that seen in the aftermath of the Haitian earthquake in January, millions of Chileans are homeless, confused, anxious and hungry. The following slides are a current list of the organizations working with or in Chile to restore order and normalcy. Click the picture(s) to go directly to the website.

Text Your Support for Chile: Donate to Chile through one of several organizations via the Mobile Giving Foundation.
Text CHILE to 90999 to donate $10 to the Red Cross

Text CHILE to 23583 to donate $10 to Habitat for Humanity

Text CHILE to 20222 to donate $10 to World Vision

Text CHILE to 50555 to donate $10 to the Friends of World Food Program

Text CHILE to 52000 to donate $10 to the Salvation Army

Text REBUILD to 50555 to donate $10 to Operation USA

Text 4CHILE to 50555 to donate $10 to Convoy of Hope