Afternoon Fix: 5 year old tells is like it is

The lovely miz Nerdette just shared this video and I felt compelled to repost it here for you guys. A little cuteness in your afternoon is always a good thing, right?

This kid is 5 and she’s got a stronger sense of self than a lot of people I know who are more than quadruple that age. My favorite part is that she’s out to “do something special” above all else.

The other day my mom commented on a post about Stephen Colbert and Planned Parenthood. She said she loved the blog and that she was glad she raised a “smart and capable feminist”. This video reminded me that I am lucky enough to have been shown from a very early age that I should be out to “do something special” and I come from a long line of strong women who believed that too.

Power to the little feminists who will be keeping up the fight.

DREAM leader to Obama: ‘Yes You Can’ end our pain.

As we speak, Latin@ bloggers and activists are grappling with the question of whether they want to “be in”– or sit this one out–, when it comes to Team Obama 2012. Check out the discussions over at Vivir Latino or Latino Politics if you don’t know what we’re talking about.

Matt Stieglitz writes at Latino Politics:

For those who have avoided a computer for the past few weeks, President Obama’s social media team is gearing up for his 2012 run with his ‘Are You In?’ campaign on Facebook. Essentially, one clicks that they’re “in”, gets bombarded with options to help with the campaign, and it’s off to the races. The only problem is that not everyone is “in.” If anything, Latinos are growing increasingly skeptical of President Obama’s ability to support our community beyond a White House Latin Music Night.

As a close friend of mine stated, “I’m NOT in. Obama has my vote, no doubt. But I’m still not sure if he has my money or time. What happened to Immigration Reform? On that note, what the hell happened to the DREAM Act?” His point is valid, and allows us to dispense with the elephant in the room: President Obama has yet to deliver substance on the rhetoric he employed to secure the Latino vote.

Jaxsun first shook Barack’s hand at Netroots Nation Chicago in 2007 and was swept away by his talent. His speeches and campaign were an impressive change from what we’d been hearing. We both donated to Obama in 2008, signed pledges, knocked on doors —  heck, we still have Shepard Fairey “Hope” prints cluttering up our walls.

We remember when the POTUS described the harmful effects of our immigration policy on families. We remember when he campaigned to end this human rights crisis in our country.

We also remember that he deported more people his first year in office than Bush did in any of his 8 years.

Now we’re stuck in the lackluster position of having to wait. And see.

“Wait and See” might be our slogan for 2012, at this point.

But we are not alone. Many Latin@s and immigrant rights activists are waiting to invest our time and energy until we see how things go over there when it comes to changing immigration priorities. Will the President get the memo and use his authority to stop deporting law-abiding immigrants with families and futures in this country?

With the implosion of comprehensive immigration reform and the DREAM Act last year, we’ve also seen the explosion of Arizona-style laws and lopsided immigration enforcement (enforcement that targets workers and families, not criminals and corporations). Team Obama has ratcheted up deportations in the absence of any coherent reform of our immigration laws or protections for hard-working but undocumented immigrants.

Now, the White House is again basking in the headlines for holding (yet another) meeting on immigration reform, where the President gets to pretend to be working hard and actually keep doing more of the same, pushing the burden of reform onto immigration groups that have spent the last several years doing everything they could think of to rally support for comprehensive immigration reform. And, of course, calling for cooperation from the GOP, who have gotten most of what they have asked for (ahem $600 million more to the border) without ever actually coming to the table to negotiate.

But, on that dismal note, DREAM leader Gaby Pacheco never ceases to inspire us. Here’s what she said at a press conference following up on 22 U.S. Senators’ recent request to President Obama to halt the deportations of DREAM-eligible youth:

“We are seeing a real leadership coming from them,” Pacheco said of the Senators. “We cannot wait for laws to be passed for the pain and suffering of our communities to end.”

During a time of federal budget crisis, spending money on detentions and deportations is not a good use of resources, “especially for deporting students who have grown up in this country, and have received their education here,” Pacheco said.

Pacheco recalled the “Yes, we can” slogan used in Barak Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign. “Yes, we can” is a translation of Sí, se puede, a very popular motto in the Latino community coined by César Chávez in 1972. “I remember feeling the chills of understanding that [Obama] knew our community,” Pacheco said.

Now, the best part:

“Today we want to tell the President, ‘Yes, you can end our deportations, yes you can end our pain, and yes you can be the leader that everyone is looking out for you to be.'”

Mr. President, respectfully, we don’t care that you invited “stakeholders” like the COO of Facebook to the White House to talk about immigration policy. We don’t care that you are (yet again) “committing” yourself to immigration reform. We care that our friends continue to face deportation and you continue to refuse to use your power to change it.

Paging Team Obama: “Yes, you can.”

And if you do, we (for starters) are in.

Change.org brought down by Chinese hackers amidst campaign for artist Ai Weiwei

It’s been a pretty wild 24 hours, with Change.org (where I now work) fully under attack from Chinese hackers because of our human rights campaign for artist Ai Weiwei, pictured at right (there’s no proof that they’re government-sponsored hackers, but one can only guess…)

I posted this piece, below, over at Crooks and Liars today. The update is that our dedicated engineers have been working around the clock to keep the site up (you should be able to sign the petition for Chinese artist Ai Weiwei now, if you haven’t already).

Here’s some more coverage in Bloomberg, PC WorldCBR, Guardian.

From C&L:

Change.org Attacked by Chinese Hackers Amidst Campaign for Ai Weiwei

This news was too wild not to share.

Chinese hackers have temporarily brought down Change.org, the social action platform where I now direct immigrant rights organizing. This, after more than 90,000 people in 175 countries signed a petition calling for the release of internationally acclaimed Chinese artist Ai Weiwei.

According to Mashable:

As an artist, Ai is best known for his role in the construction of the Bejing National Stadium for the 2008 Olympics and his Sunflower Seeds exhibit at the Tate Modern in 2010. He has also played a role in uncovering government corruption over the past few years, including, most notably, a scandal involving the construction of Sichuan schools that collapsed during the 2008 earthquake.

Ai was taken into custody by police at an airport in Bejing earlier this month.

The petition has attracted more than 90,000 signatures, including many from leading museums such as the Guggenheim, MoMA and Tate Modern, since it was posted last week.

A Change.org spokesperson says that the site has suffered intense DDoS attacks since Monday, sending it offline for periods of time. At the time of writing, Change.org was still offline.

“There’s no evidence that this has come from the Chinese government, but clearly the circumstantial evidence is pretty powerful,” the spokesperson says, noting that the for-profit organization has called on the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of East Asian Pacific Affairs for assistance.

Change.org CEO Ben Rattray has even asked the State Department to intervene, as reported by Tech President earlier today:

“We’ve notified the U.S. State Department of the situation and asked for their immediate assistance,” Rattray added. “Our engineers have been able to keep up the site during parts of the attack, but we’ve had some down time and without government assistance there are limits to what we can do.”

Change.org, a platform which allows anyone, anywhere to launch online social action campaigns, has been blocked in China at various points over the last few years.

While my teammates at Change.org continue to fend off these severe cyberattacks, more and more activists continue to sign the online petition in support of artist and political prisoner Ai Weiwei.

The silver lining, of course, is that these hackers’ attacks will only end up drawing more attention to Ai Weiwei’s unjust imprisonment.

My #PapSmearPlease Saturday

Happy #PapSmearPlease Saturday, y’all.

Raylab wrote earlier this week about FOX & Friends’ crazy assertion that women need not fear cuts to health services because, hey, they can get their pap smears and breast exams at (drumroll, please) Walgreens! She also announced a funny effort by a group of friends to push back: a pap-smear-loving flash mob.

The idea has lit up blogs and comment boards, eliciting both love and hate responses, and a high level of concern for the inconveniencing of Walgreens employees across the country (don’t worry, the flashmobsters were polite!) Megan Gibson at TIME has a piece up today:

NewsFeed already sees how this is going to play out, and feels a bit sorry for the people working the pharmacy counter at these choice Walgreens this weekend. After all, it’s not their fault that the anchors slipped up about women’s health services. Though of course, we’re sure no one intended the Walgreens reference to be a “factual statement.”  Watch Stephen Colbert crack up about the Walgreens mix-up. (via Jezebel)

All I can say is… this is a joke, which will take about 30 seconds away from the employees’ workday. Not the end of the world. I decided to join the fun and head to Walgreens for my annual. Fear not: no Walgreens employees were harmed in the making of this video. Watch:

Huffington Post had their own #PapSmearPlease comedy today:

After Sen. Jon “Not Intended To Be A Factual Statement” Kyl (R-AZ) claimed that 90% of Planned Parenthood’s activity is devoted to abortion, the hosts of “Fox and Friends” said that women can get pap smears at Walgreens, making it abundantly clear that many Republicans have no idea what Planned Parenthood actually does. […]

Since the right seems to have a spectacularly problematic perception of what is and is not Planned Parenthood, we took it upon ourselves to mock up (emphasize on mock) what it would look like if other popular mall destinations like Walgreens offered Planned Parenthood services. Vote for your favorite!

Ms. Magazine covered the #PapSmearPlease pandemonium:

This Saturday, women will be taking Doocy and Kilmeade’s advice, and visiting Walgreens in search of pap smears. Planned informally by a group of friends, the Flash Mob event hopes to “raise awareness about the absurd and dangerous attempts to deny access to critical health services to women across the country,” says organizer Courtney Berner.

For full disclosure, Courtney is a friend of mine who sent me an email announcing the flash mob plans earlier this week with the subject line: “a slightly crazy idea…” She was right, it was a crazy idea — and one that’s generated a fair amount of controversy already! But come on, this is no crazier than the current attacks on women’s rights and women’s bodies and a lot less of an inconvenience than finding out your local services have been slashed.

According to Ms:

This is a lighthearted event, and it’s easy to laugh at the absurdity of suggesting you can get your annual pap smear at Walgreens. However, like any satire, there is a dark truth at the core: Defunding Planned Parenthood would leave many women with few options for health-care services. As Andrea Grimes pointed out yesterday on the Ms. Blog, in Texas there are no alternatives to Planned Parenthood—none. The same is likely true of other cities nationwide.

To find low-cost health services near you, click here.

Alright, that’s all I’ve got for now. Keep an eye out for more videos throughout the week.

Hey Walgreens: Pap smear, please!

Remember when Fox & Friends said that we didn’t need Planned Parenthood because we could go to Walgreens to get pap smears? Yes, that actually happened.

A few ladies had a simple and brilliant idea about how to fight back ala Stephen Colbert: with humor.

This Saturday, grab some friends, a flipcam (RIP) or your trusty video-capable smartphone and head to your closest Walgreens. (If you don’t have a Walgreens nearby, just hit up your local drug store chain). Head inside and kindly ask the folks behind the counter for a pap smear, please – because you heard that’s one of the things their store offers.

Record your entrance, their reaction and the subsequent conversations (which are bound to bring the lolz). Check out the Facebook event if you want more details and/or a place to share your clips.

Spread the word, it’s Pap Smear Saturday! (If you tweet about it, use the #papsmearplease hashtag so we can track folks getting involved).

People are already talking about it:

Stephen Colbert talks Planned Parenthood and the facts

During the lead-up to the government shutdown compromise last week, I was angrily following along as a bunch of white men in Congress tossed around women’s healthcare as a bargaining chip for whether the government would continue to do its damn job. (Yes, I’m still angry). Like many other women, I understand personally just how important the majority of services that Planned Parenthood provides are.

Women began tweeting with the #mystory hashtag about what PP had done for them:

I joined in:

Apparently my uterus (I will say it as many times as I like, thankyouverymuch) is powerful enough to possibly shut down the whole government. Who knew?

While many of us were fighting hard to push back on the misinformation surrounding exactly what Planned Parenthood does, John Kyl (R-AZ)was on the Senate floor spouting blatant lies. But don’t worry, Stephen Colbert is on the case:

Yes. You heard all of that correctly. Senator Kyl only rounded to the nearest 90 when he claimed that 90% of PP services are abortions (the real number is less than 3%). And yes, Fox & Friends suggested that Walgreens can fill the void that a defunded Planned Parenthood would leave. But Senator Kyl didn’t mean for any of this to be, you know, factually accurate. Because that’s what speaking on the Senate floor is about right? Well timed half-truths and ridiculous accusations. I mean, that’s in the oath of office AND the constitution.

The best thing that’s come out of Senator Kyl’s lies (and subsequent backpedaling) is the latest hashtag #NotIntendedtobeaFactualStatement. It’s a pretty great illustration of the types of things you can get away with saying, as long as you’ve got this defense to fall back on.

Here are a few gems:

And my personal favorite:

I’m thankful for some levity in what is a truly infuriating moment. But while I will laugh at the fun we’re having here, I was reminded last night (at a Race in the Feminist movement event) that there are so many women out there without insurance and without options. I am between insurance right now (I started a new job and I have some lag time till my benefits kick in) and just to get my birth control refilled for the next three months is going to be well over $300. I’m privileged – I can take the hit to keep my prescription filled. And I can wait until I am covered again to find a new OBGYN & make sure that I’m keeping myself healthy. Many women aren’t as fortunate.

Senator Kyl hates women. (Not intended to be a factual statement).

Photo by Emily Goodstein of WildandCrazyPearl.com.

After hard-won Maryland DREAM Act, “11 down, 39 to go”

Last night, DREAM Act leader Gaby Pacheco tweeted:

“11 states down, 39 to go.”

She was celebrating the tumultuous passage of the in-state tuition bill known as the “Maryland DREAM Act.” As I wrote yesterday for the Immigrant Rights blog at Change.org:

After years of dogged organizing by local DREAM Act networks and CASA de Maryland– and thousands of actions from Change.org members — Maryland has finally passed an historic in-state tuition bill that was nine years in the making.

Still, the last few hours of the MD DREAM Act battle were as unpredictable and as they were tense. On Friday, the Maryland House joined the Senate in voting to approve the “Maryland DREAM Act” by a margin of 74-66. The measure was poised to clear a procedural vote in the Maryland Senate on Monday afternoon, when the proceedings took an unexpected U-turn. Maryland State Senators did not approve the amendments directly, but rather sent the bill back to a conference committee and on to face yet another vote in both chambers — before the midnight deadline!

Amidst growing uncertainty, DREAM Act advocates at CASA de Maryland quickly called on the Change.org community to send messages to their Maryland representatives — and hundreds of individuals took action immediately. Sparing no drama, the MD Senate approved the measure just a few short hours before the midnight deadline, 27 to 19, and the final House vote was a closer 74-65, according to initial tallies. As the last of the votes came in and the verdict became clear, the undocumented youth and community leaders who had gathered to watch the vote burst into cheers of joy. They hurried over to thank the delegates.

And advocates coast to coast breathed a sigh of relief, mainly over hurried text messages and #DREAMAct tweets. Maryland joins ten states that had already enacted in-state tuition legislation in the absence of a federal DREAM Act — the national legislation that gained a majority of votes in both the U.S. House and Senate last year, but not enough to beat back a Republican filibuster.

A big Polichoc congrats to all of the organizers — students, leaders, and allies — in Maryland who worked around the clock for this victory, nine years in the making! Eleven down, 39 to go…