Friday, 30 January 2015

National Press Club Urges Iran to Release Jailed Washington Post Journalist

WASHINGTON, Jan. 29, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --The National Press Club calls on Iranian leaders to immediately release Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian, who has been detained for more than six months with unknown charges against him.

"This confinement must end,'' National Press Club President John Hughes said. ``It is sickening that Iran would jail a journalist who was only trying to inform the world fairly and impartially about happenings in the country.''

The Washington Post in its Jan. 29 edition included an account ( about the confinement of Rezaian, who is the organization's bureau chief in Tehran. Post Executive Editor Martin Baron said in the article that he hasn't heard any accounting of the charges against Rezaian, who has not been given access to an attorney since his confinement began July 22.

"Iran only hurts itself by not letting reporters do their jobs,'' Hughes said. ``The Washington Post provides vital information to leaders in the nation's capital and around the world. Iran must show the world that it welcomes fair and open reporting about its activities.''

A year-end review by the National Press Club's Press Freedom Committee found that press freedom and government transparency in 2014 ``regressed more than it progressed.'' ( Reporters Without Borders recorded 66 journalist deaths last year, 119 kidnappings and 178 imprisonments.

The National Press Club is the world's leading professional organization for journalists. Founded in 1908, it is located in Washington, D.C. Through its Press Freedom Committee, the National Press Club speaks out on behalf of press freedom and transparency worldwide.

SOURCE National Press Club
Do you have a story to tell? Contact 'Let's Hear You!' and let us know!

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

IFAW responds to the U.S. decision to open Artic and Atlantic areas for oil and gas development

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management today released its draft five-year program for oil and gas development on the Outer Continental Shelf. The plan includes leasing parts of the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans where marine habitats, which have largely been off-limits to offshore drilling, will now be subjected to seismic deafening airgun use during the exploratory phase, as well as be at risk of disastrous oil spills, once development gets underway.

Margaret Cooney, IFAW Program Officer said: "President Obama's executive action putting some of the Arctic's most sensitive areas off limits, is a step in the right direction, but the best decision would be to not open these areas to development, period."

Cooney added: "Breeding and calving grounds for the critically endangered North Atlantic Right Whale are located solidly within the Atlantic leasing area. With so few individuals left, the loss of even one Right whale could have a severe impact on the overall population."

About IFAW (the International Fund for Animal Welfare)
Founded in 1969, IFAW saves animals in crisis around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals, and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

SOURCE International Fund for Animal Welfare

Do you have a story to tell? Contact 'Let's Hear You!' and let us know!

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Tampa teenager brutally beaten by Israeli police interviewed by UN investigators

The following is being issued by CAIR-Florida:

Tariq Abu Khdeir, the Tampa teenager brutally beaten by Israeli police last summer in Jerusalem, was interviewed by Skype this morning from his Tampa home by officials with the Geneva-based United Nations Commission of Inquiry into the 2014 Gaza Conflict.

The Florida Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-FL), which arranged the interview, views the development as a significant step toward identifying gross violations of civil rights and human rights by Israeli police and military personnel that CAIR-Florida believes were flagrant during last summer's hostilities.

Under an agreement with the Commission, Tariq was alone taking questions from officials in Geneva, and the questions, answers and initial findings of his 30-minute interview will be kept confidential until the inquiry is complete.

"This investigation is a clear signal that the United Nations itself has serious concerns about the bad conduct of Israeli police and military personnel during the violence in Gaza, and particularly the brutal beating and unlawful confinement suffered by this Tampa teenager," declared Hassan Shibly, Chief Executive Director of CAIR-Florida. "We welcome the investigation as another chapter in this tragic case, and will cooperate fully as the United Nations seeks to identify all wrongdoing and bring those responsible to justice."

Daniela Baro, Child Protection Advisor with the Commission, explained that the Commission of Inquiry is looking into allegations of arbitrary arrests and detention that occurred in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, from June to the end of August 2014.

"The Commission is particularly interested in cases of arrests and ill treatment of children under 18 years during that period," Ms. Baro stated in an e-mail to Shibly.

Tariq, who was a sophomore in high school at the Universal Academy of Florida in Tampa, and an American-born citizen, was visiting relatives in Jerusalem when he was attacked and brutally beaten by Israeli soldiers on July 3, 2014. He was then incarcerated with major untreated medical injuries.

With assistance from CAIR-Florida, Tariq eventually was released and July 16, arrived safely home in Tampa.

On July 23, 2014, the United Nations Human Rights Council adopted a resolution on "Ensuring respect for international law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem" in which it decided to establish an independent, international commission of inquiry, "to investigate all violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, particularly in the occupied Gaza Strip … to establish the facts and circumstances of such violations and of the crimes perpetrated and to identify those responsible, to make recommendations, in particular on accountability measures, all with a view to avoiding and ending impunity and ensuring that those responsible are held accountable, and on ways and means to protect civilians against any further assaults."

Do you have a story to tell? Contact 'Let's Hear You!' and let us know!

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

L.A. Bus Shelters Minus Booze Ads

 Alcohol Justice joined with Los Angeles-based coalition - - to thank members of the Los Angeles City Council today for passing an ordinance long-sought by public health advocates to ban alcohol ads from L.A. city-owned and controlled property. The measure will reduce alcohol advertising in public spaces commonly seen by youth as a way to help discourage underage drinking. The ordinance, co-authored by Councilmembers Paul Koretz and José Huizar, was passed by unanimous vote of the councilmembers present.

"The City of Los Angeles has taken another step towards truly protecting its most vulnerable residents," stated Jorge Castillo, Advocacy Director for Alcohol Justice. "We thank Councilmembers Huizar, Englander, and Koretz for their leadership on this critical public health and safety issue." 

According to L.A. County Department of Public Health, alcohol-related crashes, violent crimes and deaths cost the county more than $10.8 billion every year. Families and youth utilize city owned and controlled property on a daily basis, such as school buildings, recreation centers, libraries and bus shelters. 

"This is in line with my administration's focus on improving the quality of life all Angelinos and helping boosting the sense of pride people have in our neighborhoods," said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti

Dennis Hathaway, president of the Ban Billboard Blight coalition said,  "We applaud the City Council for recognizing that the public right-of-way should not be used to help market products that cause harm to our youth and burden taxpayers with millions in costs for law enforcement, medical, and other services related to alcohol abuse."

The L.A. County Department of Public Health had recommended reducing alcohol advertising in public spaces and in areas commonly seen by minors as a way to help discourage underage drinking. Over the past few years UCLA, Rand Corp., Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth, Dr. Jonathan Fielding, Alcohol Justice, and the L.A. Department of Public Health submitted clear and compelling evidence that alcohol advertising on city owned property encourages youth alcohol consumption, which leads to harm.

"This ordinance says YES, we can do our part to limit underage consumption of alcohol and the problems associated with alcohol use," stated Councilmember Koretz, co-author of the measure.  

"I want to thank everyone involved…but first and foremost, I thank the people of the communities of Los Angeles for speaking up so caringly and powerfully, as is clear from the sterling efforts of the Coalition to Ban Alcohol Ads on Public Property in Los Angeles and Alcohol Justice."

"As a City, we must be conscientious of exposing our children to images which encourage irresponsible behavior," said Councilmember Mitchell Englander. 

"By banning alcohol advertisements on City property on future City contracts, we have taken an essential step in making the City of Los Angeles safer for our children and families."

In the summer of 2011,, along with former Councilmember Alarcón, were able to influence a bus bench contract that effectively banned alcohol ads from 6,000 bus benches in L.A. Immediately after that victory they set a new goal to remove alcohol ads from all parts of the transit system.

"Communities benefit from healthy and positive messages and I'm proud of the City of Los Angeles for making the commitment to protect our families from alcohol advertisements," stated Carol Lee

Community Organizer, Koreatown and Community Center. "The City is paving the way for a healthier city, one which encourages healthy lifestyles and extracurricular activities for children."

"Alcohol ads on city property send the wrong message to our youth, especially children in low-income and working-class communities where these type of ads are more prevalent," said Councilmember 

Huizar, one of the original signers of the motion. "This is truly a community victory and I congratulate and thank all the groups and individuals who fought to make this a reality."

"Money should never be part of this discussion," stated Kitty Dukakis, former First Lady of Massachusetts, a strong supporter of the campaign. 

"It is very dangerous. Young people that see those signs suffer great harm in their lives from the use of alcohol." 

"Today L.A. joins the Bay Area, San Diego, San Jose and many other transit districts in getting alcohol ads off bus shelters and other public property to help reduce alcohol-related harm," stated Bruce Lee Livingston, Executive Director/CEO of Alcohol Justice. "Now we can say that all California's public transit systems will finally be free from Big Alcohol's harmful messages."

Coalition Members include:
  • American Indian Movement – WEST
  • Alcohol Justice
  • Asian American Drug Abuse Program Inc.
  • Boyle Heights Stakeholders Association
  • Boyle Heights Coalition for a Safe & Drug Free Community
  • California Hispanic Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse
  • Coalition to Ban Billboard Blight
  • Community Coalition
  • Institute for Public Strategies
  • Koreatown Youth & Community Center
  • Mexican History Foundation
  • Mothers of East L.A. (MELA)
  • Personal Involvement Center, Inc.
  • P3 Partnership for a Positive Pomona
  • Phoenix House
  • Pillar of Fire Church
  • Paso por Paso
  • Pueblo y Salud
  • Saving Lives Drug and Alcohol Coalition
  • Sycamore Grove School
  • Tarzana Treatment Centers & AWARE Coalition
  • The Wall – Las Memorias Project
  • United Coalition East Prevention Project
  • Woman's Christian Temperance Union
  • Women Against Gun Violence
  • Writers In Treatment
Supporters include
  • Michael & Kitty Dukakis, former Massachusetts Governor & First Lady
  • Boyle Heights Neighborhood Council
  • California Council on Alcohol Problems
  • California Alliance for Retired Americans
  • Center for Living and Learning
  • County Alcohol and Drug Program Administrators' Association of California
  • Crescenta Valley Drug & Alcohol Prevention Coalition
  • Cri-Help
  • Day One Pasadena
  • Dr. J. Benjamin Hardwick
  • Monsignor John Moretta
  • NCADD East San Gabriel & Pomona Valleys
  • Public Citizen
  • Resurrection Church Neighborhood Watch – Los Angeles
  • San Fernando Valley Partnership
  • Venice Neighborhood Council
For More Information go to: and

SOURCE Alcohol Justice
Do you have a story to tell? Contact 'Let's Hear You!' and let us know!

Saturday, 17 January 2015

IFAW Statement on Dallas Safari Club Elephant Hunt Auction

In connection with its annual convention and expo this weekend, the Dallas Safari Club today announced it would auction to the highest bidder the opportunity to hunt an African elephant, a species currently in the midst of a severe poaching crisis.

Jeffrey Flocken, North American Regional Director of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), issued the following statement:

"After last year's shocking auction to kill a critically endangered black rhino, we are saddened to see that the Dallas Safari Club is yet again auctioning off the chance to kill for sport a species threatened with extinction. Elephants are in enough danger as it is, with one being killed every 15 minutes for its ivory tusks. To offer a wealthy trophy hunter the chance to kill an elephant and then to call it conservation really is beyond baffling. The public already expressed their outrage and disbelief over DSC's 'kill it to save it' spin behind the black rhino auction. It's just as transparently senseless and disappointing that the Dallas Safari Club is doing it all over again, but this time with imperiled elephants."

Elephant populations in Africa have crashed in the last century, showing declines up to 95 percent, and as few as 420,000 of these majestic animals may be left on Earth. Elephants are being slaughtered at an alarming rate to feed the growing market for ivory. The U.S. is currently reviewing new policies to help protect elephants from this dire situation.

About IFAW Founded in 1969, IFAW saves animals in crisis around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals, and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit

Do you have a story to tell? Contact 'Let's Hear You!' and let us know!