The new COVID-19 bill

Shared via Children’s Defense Fund-

Late last night, the Senate passed a $2 trillion COVID-19 relief package that represents an important step toward helping to meet the needs of children and families, the health care system, and states incurring huge new costs in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

The package includes many provisions which will begin to help ease the burdens of this crisis for millions of children and families across the country, including:

  • Putting money directly in the hands of low- and middle-income earners with one time cash payments of $1,200 per adult and $500 per child
  • Supporting families facing housing insecurity with grants for homelessness assistance, an increase in funding to support low-income renters, and protections against foreclosures and evictions
  • Providing temporary shelter and services to youth experiencing homelessness
  • Making sure that as this crisis continues and more families qualify for food assistance through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), they can access it
  • Providing child care assistance to essential personnel responding to the COVID-19 outbreak in communities and some assistance to other child care providers impacted by the crisis
  • Supporting local school systems and higher education institutions so that they can continue to provide high-quality education for their students
  • Safeguarding children by extending services to prevent maltreatment and assist victims of family violence
  • Extending the benefits of unemployment insurance for those whose jobs have been impacted

Shutting off water during a pandemic?

Currently, people across the country are not able to wash their hands because their water service is turned off.

This is horrifying, especially during this critical time when the most widely endorsed strategy to prevent or manage the coronavirus (COVID-19) is to wash our hands frequently.

The pandemic is making it all the more clear: water access is critical for public health. We all deserve access to water in order to be able to keep ourselves and our communities safe.

Join us now in urging Congress to support a nationwide moratorium on water shutoffs amid the coronavirus pandemic.

In 2018, our research found that an estimated 15 million people in the United States experienced a water shutoff in one year due to nonpayment of water bills.¹

Shutoffs occur primarily in communities of color with higher poverty levels and low-income communities. Households that were shut off are now struggling to prevent the rampant spread of the coronavirus, as well as prevent their own families from becoming sick, because they don’t have running water to wash their hands.

But we’re working to change this. So far, more than 100 cities across the country have stopped water shutoffs, including New Orleans, Jacksonville, Detroit and Columbia.

This is a growing movement, but we need more cities across the country on board, and we need our federal government to step up and ensure that everyone’s access to water is protected. In the midst of a global pandemic like the coronavirus, it’s time to guarantee access to clean and affordable water for all.

Send your message now: Demand the federal government enact a national moratorium on water shutoffs, with immediate service restoration across the country.

via ​​​​​​
Mary Grant
Public Water For All Campaign Director
Food & Water Action and Food & Water Watch

New England Aquarium offering virtual programming during temporary closures

With students across New England home from school amid closures related to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak, the New England Aquarium is offering special virtual programming to keep families engaged.

Each day at 11:00 a.m., content will be posted on the Aquarium’s social media platforms that includes live videos with educators, a behind-the-scenes look at animal care, and fun activities for children. Online visitors will also find a special webpage on neaq.org to take a “virtual visit” to the Aquarium, featuring video, at-home projects, and other educational resources. This page will be updated regularly with fresh material.

Last week, the Aquarium made the decision to close to the public and suspend all events and educational programming for a minimum of three weeks as a precautionary move to protect staff and visitors and ensure continued care for the animals. Much of the special programming available online will focus on the important work still happening at the Aquarium amid the closure.

“Even though our doors are closed to the public, a limited number of Aquarium staff are onsite daily caring for and supporting our nearly 20,000 animals,” said Vikki N. Spruill, President and CEO. “Engaging and inspiring the public about the wonders of our blue planet is central to our mission. We are delighted to be able to provide an educational outlet for families and their students who are losing valuable time in the classroom.”

The New England Aquarium has a long-standing tradition of supporting education outside its walls. That includes homeschool program offerings, classroom resources for teachers, and educational tools for parents.

The public can find special features and projects on:

NEAQ.org

Facebook – @NewEnglandAquarium

Twitter – @NEAQ

Instagram – @newenglandaquarium

The Newark Museum of Art to Close Temporarily Starting March 14th

n the interest of protecting the well-being of our staff, members, volunteers, and visitors, and following guidance from local, state and federal authorities regarding measures that best promote public health, we have decided to temporarily close The Newark Museum of Art beginning on Saturday, March 14th. We will reopen on Thursday, April 16th. 

The Newark Museum of Art’s top priority is the safety and peace of mind for our members, visitors, staff and partners. Each decision we make during this challenge starts with us asking what is best for our visitors and staff. Lastly, we want you to know we are carefully monitoring the situation and will provide any new updates as quickly as possible. For additional questions about the virus, we suggest accessing the CDC website for the most reliable information.

We look forward to welcoming you back to the Museum soon.

Gifts That Give To Those Who Need It Most #GiftGuide

As you buy gifts for loved ones this year, consider what you could do to help impoverished children throughout the Caribbean, Africa, Asia, and Latin America as well. Gifts are made through Cross Catholic Outreach, a 501c3 Catholic relief and development ministry that provides food, shelter, medical care, water, education, self-help programs, care for orphans and emergency relief. These are a few of the options people can choose from as gift ideas (more ideas are here):

  • Food for the hungry – Send lifesaving supplies of Vitafood to starving children and their families. $27 can feed a family for a whole month.
  • Toys and gifts for a needy child – Let Cross Catholic Outreach pack your Box of Joy with toys and gifts and send it to a child. For $34, Cross Catholic Outreach will pack your Box of Joy and send it to a needy child overseas.
  • Mosquito nets – Send a gift that will effectively help prevent malaria in Zambia. A gift of $26 will provide 3 mosquito nets and help prevent malaria.
  • Bicycles – Send one of the most useful gifts for the poor that you could ever send. $66 provides the gift of a bicycle.

Want to give back to the environment? Check out The Sierra Club. 

These Holiday Gift Guides have Gifts That Give Back, they are the nation’s largest and oldest grassroots environmental organization. This holiday season, Sierra Club is asking families to put the environment first by purchasing gifts that help protect our communities and our future.

Adopt A Wild Animal: From a grizzly bear or polar bear, to a gray wolf or humpback whale, your symbolic adoption will help protect wild animals and the wild places they call home. “Adopt” today and receive an adorable plush animal to love.

Five Reasons to Not Buy Turtles or Tortoises As Gifts

American Tortoise Rescue, the international nonprofit for turtle and tortoise protection, is asking consumers to not buy live animals, especially turtles and tortoises as gifts this holiday season. Adopt don’t shop.

According to Susan Tellem, co-founder of the sanctuary, while these wonderful reptiles have outlived the dinosaurs, wide spread illegal smuggling and the commercial pet trade in turtles and tortoises has devastated wild populations worldwide. Many once thriving species are now threatened or endangered. Worse, some are now extinct.

“The pet industry thrives on small, adorable exotic animals with a big price tag,” Tellem says. “What we are recommending is to avoid impulse buys. We understand the appeal of an adorable two inch baby turtle!” Tellem adds, “But most animal rescues have many turtles and tortoises ready for adoption to good homes.”

Tellem gives five reasons why people shouldn’t buy a turtle or tortoise.

  1. Reptiles are boring. Parents shouldn’t expect their kids to find everlasting enjoyment in an animal that basically sits still most of the day sunning itself. Many kids tire of a turtle in a tank and don’t want to clean the habitat and change the water daily. Turtles and tortoises poop, Tellem reminds everyone.
  2. Most turtles and many tortoises hibernate during fall and winter. It’s unnatural for them to be awake and available for sale when they should be sleeping from about October through April. It’s cruel to sell wild animals that need to hibernate to stay healthy.
  3. Turtles and tortoises confined in tanks are miserable. It’s like a human spending their entire life in a bathtub Tellem says. The only proper habitat for these reptiles is outside. Natural sun exposure helps maintain a healthy shell and is necessary for the animal to grow and thrive. During hibernation, most reptiles can stay outside in shelters that are dry and predator proof.
  4. Adoption is the ideal option, Tellem says. During the spring and summer, when the animals are awake, rescues help place them in good “forever homes” with proper habitats. In many cases, there is no charge to adopt, only the promise that the animal will be given exceptional care for the rest of its life.
  5. Turtles can easily live 25 years or more and tortoises can top 100 years. An impulse buy without a thought to the future is not in the best interest of the animal, Tellem says. Plans need to be made in wills and with family members since the animals can outlive their owners. Most people don’t think about that when they buy an animal.

Tellem, who founded the nonprofit 27 years ago with her husband, Marshall Thompson, says, “Many owners assume that when the tortoise becomes a problem, zoos will take them. This is simply not true. Zoos are not interested in cast-off pets.”

She adds that a domesticated pet cannot be put back into the wild. It will die or introduce disease into an already precarious wild ecosystem. In many states, it is also illegal.

Tellem says that the option of placing the animal with a rescue is not always the answer, as her rescue is full as are most others. The best solution is to find a compassionate adopter who is willing to give a proper “forever home” to the pet. There are many national rescue organizations listed on www.tortoise.com which can facilitate adoptions if people are interested in getting an animal.

One way to enjoy a turtle or tortoise without harming them is to make a donation to a nonprofit like American Tortoise Rescue. “This allows us to educate people and care for the ones that are ill in our sanctuary. If a donor makes a $100 donation or more, we send them an adoption certificate featuring one of our permanent residents, and it’s good for one year. People enjoy that because they can care for the animal vicariously,” Tellem says.

American Tortoise Rescue, Malibu, Calif., is a nonprofit founded in 1990 to provide for the protection of all species of tortoise and turtle.  For more information, contact:  American Tortoise Rescue at www.tortoise.com ; or email [email protected] . Follow on Twitter @tortoiserescue and on Facebook. Tellem started World Turtle Day® 17 years ago which is now celebrated globally (and is trademarked). Find out more at www.worldturtleday.org and on Facebook and twitter. Here’s a list of rescues in the U.S and elsewhere http://www.tortoise.com/need-a-rescue.html.

Stocking Stuffers that Give Back

Looking for a holiday gift that gives back? These are a great alternative to the usual stocking stuffer and also gives back to the planet: a tree planted by Tree-Nation (300 varieties to choose from) to help reforest the Earth and reduce CO2 emissions, all in one present.

The Earth loses about 36 football fields worth of forest each minute and during the holiday season, the U.S. alone sells 2.65 billion cards and spends $12.7 billion on wrapping paper, so this is the perfect time to give back. Gifting a tree with Tree-Nation can cost consumers as little as a dime and supports climate change and reforestation projects across the globe—here in the U.S., Brazil, India and many more. Recipients will receive access to the platform where they can track their tree growth and check in on the CO2 emissions they are offsetting all via their personalized “forest” page.

Cool idea, yeah? Check it out. Happy holidays 🙂

Write for Rights: Amnesty International launches global campaign championing youth activists

Amnesty International has today launched Write for Rights, the world’s biggest human rights campaign, which this year champions children’s rights and youth activists.

“This year Write for Rights, Amnesty’s flagship human rights campaign, champions youth activists who are taking on the world’s biggest crises,” said Kumi Naidoo, Secretary General of Amnesty International.

“From those campaigning for climate and environmental justice, to those challenging inequality, poverty, discrimination and political repression, young people have emerged as a powerful force for change who deserve the world’s support.”

Every December people around the world write millions of letters, emails, tweets, Facebook posts and postcards for those whose human rights are under attack, in what has become the world’s biggest human rights event.

Amnesty International is hoping to break last year’s Write for Rights record of nearly six million messages of support for activists and individuals from 10 countries whose human rights are under attack.

Youth activism in the spotlight

Youth activists have played a prominent role in major protest movements and human rights campaigns during 2019, such as the Fridays for Future climate strike movement founded by 16-year-old Greta Thunberg, as well as protest movements in many countries around the world.

Write for Rights 2019 features youth human rights defenders and individuals in Belarus, Canada, China, Egypt, Greece, Iran, Mexico, Nigeria, Philippines and South Sudan.

Launching two days ahead of Universal Children’s Day on 20 November, a day to promote children’s rights, several of the featured activists had their rights violated as children.

They include José Adrián, who was 14 when he was brutally beaten by police on his way home from school in Mexico. He is now demanding reparations for his treatment and for the police to stop arbitrary detentions in the state of Yucatán.

Among the other cases are:

  • Grassy Narrows Youth, a group of youth activists from an Indigenous community in north-western Ontario who have suffered one of Canada’s worst health crises. Their community has been devastated by 50 years of mercury contamination of their fish and river system. The Grassy Narrows youth are urging the government to address the mercury crisis once and for all, including by providing specialized health care and compensation for all;
  • Sarah Mardini and Seán Binder, two volunteer rescue workers in Lesvos, Greece, who face up to 25 years in prison for their humanitarian work helping spot refugee boats in distress;
  • Yasaman Aryani, who defied her country’s discriminatory forced veiling laws and now must serve 10 years behind bars. Amnesty is campaigning for her immediate release;
  • Marinel Ubaldo, a youth activist from the Philippines whose home was destroyed by typhoon Haiyan. She is urging her government to declare a climate emergency and protect future generations from the devastating impacts of climate change.

“The Write for Rights campaign epitomizes the ideals that Amnesty International was founded on – it’s about individuals helping other individuals. We are urging people to get behind these incredible young people who are campaigning for justice, equality and freedom,” said Kumi Naidoo.

“As we know from our work over the past five decades, writing letters works. Not only can it help free prisoners of conscience, but it makes a huge emotional difference to the people we support and to their loved ones.”

Monica Benício, the partner of Marielle Franco, a local politician in Brazil who was killed last year and was featured as part of the last Write for Rights, said of the campaign:

“It helps me to get up in the morning and see some meaning, knowing that there is this big global network of affection.

“All these demonstrations of love and affection are helping us to mobilize, to demand justice, to pressure for investigation and above all to fight so that there will be no more Marielles.”