Well after what seemed like months in the making, we have finally launched the Road to Zero Tour! We are very excited to begin this tour and are anxious to hit the campus streets in Ohio, Massachusetts and Maine delivering our message and building support for a world without nuclear weapons.

We believe that this tour is essential to bring youth into the effort to achieve a world without nuclear weapons, because once the power of youth is tapped and behind this cause, extraordinary things will happen. And to help us garner that support, we are enlisting the help of a brand new documentary film that was released in theaters and will be released on DVD very soon called Countdown to Zero. It is a fantastic film that clearly and convincingly makes the case for a world without nuclear weapons. It is from the same makers of the Academy-Award winning An Inconvenient Truth and we will be screening it at campuses in the three states we will be visiting.

Here is the info. for the screenings we have booked thus far:

Ohio State – Monday, Nov. 15th @7:00pm at the Ohio Union Cartoon Room 2

Kenyon College – Tuesday, Nov. 16th @8:00pm (Location: TBD)

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By Alex B. Hill, Global Health Issue Analyst

Follow the Polio outbreak in real time with HealthMap

Smallpox has been globally eradicated since 1980, so why is the eradication of Polio so much more difficult? The World Health Organization (WHO) recently released that the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) would be conducting a new targeted 15 country effort to vaccinate 72 million children in Africa. The new campaign follows numerous failed efforts of the past and reemerging outbreaks. Why does the African continent remain prone to Polio outbreaks that spread rapidly? Why did the organized campaign to eradicate Smallpox take only 21 years while Polio is going on almost 40 years?

Since 1796, when cowpox was used to protect humans from Smallpox, eradication efforts have taken place. It wasn’t until the WHO intensified the eradication of smallpox in 1967 that efforts were coordinated around the world. The Smallpox Eradication Program (SEP) was jointly run by the WHO, CDC, and National Ministries of Health in various countries. Doctors and epidemiologists from the US volunteered to help with the efforts. In many instances US volunteers were overbearing and controlling of their local counterparts. A report by Paul Greenough documented the use of intimidation and coercion in the final stages of the SEP. Foreign volunteers were sent to kick down doors (literally), force vaccination of those who refused, and fix the mistakes of local staff members (1995). These coercive tactics evoked resistance from local communities, but the SEP prevailed. The SEP was run in a structured, militant fashion, where individual human rights were overridden for the global public good. Similar issues with resistance have been seen in Polio eradication efforts, but responses to resistance have not been as militant. Could this be why Polio has continued to resurface?

The earliest documented case of Polio in Africa is traced back to 1580 B.C. in Egypt and still the virus continues to spread across the continent. The eradication of Polio relies heavily on Read the rest of this entry »

Targeting: The Governor of KS, The KS State Senate, The KS State House, see more…
Started by: Kristen Tebow, RC – Kansas/Missouri

Some people say that slavery ended with the Emancipation Proclamation. The truth is that there are more slaves in America in modern times, than during the Civil War. Modern slavery has a new name. That name is human trafficking.

Human trafficking is defined by the Trafficking Protocol of 2000 as “a criminal activity in which people are recruited, harboured, transported, bought, or kidnapped to serve an exploitative purpose, such as sexual slavery, forced labor, or child soldiery.” As one can see, there are many different faces of human trafficking. The most prevalent cases of human trafficking that exist in America are sex trafficking cases. Most of these cases involve young girls involved in prostitution.

Contrary to popular belief, there are cases of trafficking that happen in the heartland of the United States. A lot of these cases are never brought to justice. However, in 2009, the U.S. Attorney’s Office launched a sting operation calledOperation Guardian Angel and there were several cases that took place in Kansas so it is obvious that a task force would be a need for a task force in Kansas.

Also in the same article, it was mentioned that there is no official task force like there are in other states in the U.S. where human trafficking is prevalent such asColoradoCaliforniaFlorida,IllinoisOhio, and Texas. There are many arguments that can be made about population sizes of the cities in these states compared to Kansas, but I can counter each argument with Craigslist Trafficking that happens all over Kansas and the long stretch of I-70 that runs through Kansas. Also, since the overall population of Kansas is low, Kansas is arguably a terrific place for human trafficking because of the remoteness of the state.

There should be a task force in Kansas. Where is a more perfect place to start a task force than Manhattan, KS? We have four student organizations at Kansas State University who are active in the movement. We have over 25 individuals dedicated to the issue and professors who have done research on trafficking on a local, national, and global level. This petition will prove that the community wants Kansas to get involved in ending the most hideous of crimes committed in the world.

Another reason you should care: All of us, even Kansans, contribute to human trafficking by buying consumer goods that are made by underpaid workers who are often maltreated. Most of the time these workers are children.

Most importantly and the reason you all should care: We had a student at Kansas State University who was kidnapped, gang-raped, and trafficked at Fort Riley. I think that this alone should warrant a prevention movement.

The task force would provide prevention educational programs, research on the issue, awareness event-planning, community action and outreach, and it would provide jobs for the community. There are many benefits for launching something like this in our town!

Please help us join the fight and show that Kansas cares!


By Binta Diallo, Global Health Issue Analyst

Eleven months after the earthquake hit Haiti, the country is now faced with its worst health challenge; cholera.  As of November first, the cholera outbreak in central Haiti had killed more than 250 people and infected more than 3,000 people.  Until the current outbreak, cholera has not been documented to be found in Haiti since the 1960s.  Due to the lack of familiarity with the disease, many people are said to be frightened by the news of the outbreak and unsure of what steps to take to avoid the disease.

For those of you unfamiliar with cholera here are some key details about the disease.  Cholera is an acute infection of the small intestine that causes a large amount of watery diarrhea and vomit.  It is caused by ingestion of food or water contaminated with the bacterium Vibrio cholerae.  The diarrhea and vomiting leads to severe dehydration, and can become deadly within 24 hours if left untreated.  It is easily treated through rehydration and antibiotics however may be difficult in Haiti’s current poor sanitary conditions.

Although, it is very tempting to link the outbreak to the January earthquake, it is very uncertain as to where the outbreak came from.  Many experts including Dr. Brigitte Vasset from the international organization Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) in Paris are reluctant in linking the outbreak directly with the quake.  Sanitary conditions were poor in many parts of Haiti even before earthquake.  In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that after the earthquake while cholera testing should have been carried out, the disease was “extremely unlikely to occur.”  Many health experts agree that for cholera to occur, bad sanitation and hygiene have to coincide with people carrying the Vibrio cholerae bacterium.

There are many other hypotheses of how the disease appeared in Haiti.  Read the rest of this entry »

Normally I can’t stand being stuck in traffic. At around 10:30 am Saturday morning I was already an hour late for a pre-rally breakfast, and I was getting nowhere fast. But as my car inched down Constitution Ave., I couldn’t keep a smile off my face.  A steady stream of people coming from all directions was converging on the mall for the Stewart/Colbert Rally to Restore Sanity/Fear. I had silently hoped that the rally would have a great turn out and it looked like those hopes were about to be realized.

Half an hour and ten blocks later, I ended up at the breakfast, just in time to leave for the rally. I left as part of a group of around twenty but lost most of our group in the crowd, and arrived on the mall in a group of four. As soon as we hit the rally we were diluted into the massive crowd of energetic rally goers.  One minute I was talking to my friend and the next I was next to a group of Canadians in banana suits.

I had been looking forward to the rally since it was announced, but I didn’t know what to expect. And I was not alone. Leading up to the rally the media had attempted to predict exactly what the rally was going to be. Many assumed Stewart would use it as an opportunity to energize liberal voters just a few days out from the election. What we actually found at the rally was a medley of music, comedy, politics, and Halloween. For the most part, Colbert and Stewart stuck to their opposing characters, playing a conservative fear monger and the voice of reason.

One of the most amazing parts of the experience was the crowd, which was estimated to be around 250,000 people. I’ve been to several rallies in my life but I have never been to one that was so cheerful and pleasant. We were packed onto the mall like sardines, but people squeezed past each other with smiles on their faces, apologizing as they stepped on each other’s feet. There was a great feeling of solidarity and cooperation amongst the group. Taller people used their vantage point in the crowd to fill in the shorter ones about what was happening on stage. Strangers took pictures with each other to commemorate the event. One sign I saw pretty much summed up this spirit: “I’m pretty sure I’d like you if I got to know you.”

The signs were just as much a part of the rally as the people. Most of the signs were a reaction to polarization and hysteria. Some were political, some were witty, some called for open-mindedness and some were downright silly. For those of you who missed out, here are some highlights:

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“So what was this?” asked Stewart toward the end of the rally. He asked permission to be serious for a bit in what turned out to be the highlight of the rally. Read the rest of this entry »

We have an exciting announcement! AIDemocracy is going out on tour in about a week to campuses in Ohio, Massachusetts and Maine to build the grassroots student movement for a world without nuclear weapons!

We’re gonna be screening the film Countdown to Zero, a film from the same Academy-Award winning makers of “An Inconvenient Truth” that does a fantastic job explaining the nuclear threat and why it is so critical that we eliminate nuclear weapons everywhere. You can check out the trailer and find out more about the film at its website.

We’re also going to be encouraging students to speak out about nuclear weapons – either by signing a declaration, taking their photo with a sign saying they don’t want nuclear weapons, write and/or call their Senators, etc. Basically we’re looking for a commitment to a world without nuclear weapons.

However, to pull all of this off, we need some help. We need to find spaces for us to screen the film on the campuses we want to visit in these states, like Ohio State, Boston University, Harvard, University of New England, etc. If you can help us book a space on a campus in any or all of these states, let Patrick, our Global Peace and Security Fellow know ASAP. The tour will take place between Saturday, Nov. 13th to Tuesday, Nov. 23rd, so time is of the essence!

And as an added bonus, we’re able to offer a $100 incentive to any student who can help us organize the event and do some canvassing on campus the day of the screening (5-7 hours work).

Remember, all we need at the moment is help finding a space on campus. We will take care of the rest. Contact us to help get this tour on the road so we can put nuclear weapons where they belong!

What a night! It doesn’t get any more exciting. Republicans made huge gains in the House – picking up at least 60 seats – although the Democrats retained control of the Senate. The election suggested overwhelming dissatisfaction, primarily over the state of the economy and healthcare reform. It is clear that there will be some tough battles ahead – over the Bush-era tax cuts, and how to create jobs and cut spending. We will be lucky if there’s anything more than gridlock in Washington for the remainder of Obama’s term.

What did the youth vote look like this time around? We turned out in historic numbers in 2008 – representing 18% of total voters. An estimated 22 to 24 million young people voted, overwhelmingly for Obama. One exit poll suggested that in 2010 youth turnout was as low as 9%. That’s a big drop, with huge implications for the democrats in particular.

What happened? Did you and your friends vote? Why or why not? What issues were important to you?

By Brandon Fischer, Global Peace & Security Issue Analyst

As beneficiaries of the American system of government, the chance periodically arises for us to forge our voices into its framework during election season. On November 2, 2010, residents who are of 18 years or above will be granted this opportunity. Through this act, American youth will be able to imprint their mark upon the political climate which will affect them and their families for decades to come.

Muslim-American youth, in particular, have much to benefit from contributing in this way. Many sources have found the Muslim-American culture to produce some of the most ambitious and engaged youth in the country. Muslim youth should take hold of the knowledge, access to resources and networks that they possess and put it to use during a process of enormous impact.

The importance of this event becomes evident when considering how critical November’s election period is for the informed voter. Local, state and federal offices will be up for new blood, allowing for an overhaul of policy perspective. By engaging in this act of voting, it provides each the ability to suggest office holders who will represent their unique concerns and desires.

With the rising protectionist and conservative rhetoric that is observed in public and private circles, there exists a huge need for this type of civic engagement in order to provide a bold counternarrative. Apart from voting for office holders who will counter stereotypes and misperceptions of Muslimhood, this voting should also carry the intention of producing a nation that reflects the self-determination of each of its citizens, Muslim and non-Muslim, etc.

Additionally, several reporters have indicated the steep consequences that will become of the results of November’s election, given the state of Congressional seating. With Tea Partiers gaining some footing and Conservatives facing the prospect of taking over Congress, all party members, Democratic, Republican or otherwise, should be conscious of these divisions and their ability to hugely affect the efficiency of our government.

Works Consulted:

by Kristen Tebow, RC Kansas/Missouri

Since we have just celebrated a holiday that greatly measures success on costume and candy sales, I would like to take this time to talk about the dark side of Halloween.

We all go trick or treating on Halloween or take our children trick or treating. When I was growing up, I remember the competitions that my friends and I had while we were trick or treating. Whoever filled up the bag of candy first had bragging rights until the next Halloween. What I don’t remember from the early days is wondering where the chocolate in these candy bags came from. Now that I am old enough, I think about where everything comes from.

Here are a few things that were done in the few weeks leading up to Halloween, and also a few ideas that you can do for next year.


The International Labor Rights Forum, along with Global Exchange, Green America and Oasis USA, organized screenings of The Dark Side of Chocolate all across the country. This new documentary exposed the ongoing use of child labor, forced labor and trafficking in the cocoa industry in West Africa. It is a great resources for increasing awareness of this critical labor rights issue. 

As part of the Raise the Bar Hershey campaign, they asked concerned individuals to host screenings in their communities throughout October 2010, especially during a national week of action from October 25 through October 31.

For more information, please contact Tim Newman at Tim.Newman@ILRF.org or 202-347-4100

Reverse Trick-or-Treating
Ten to twenty thousand groups of children, college students, and activists (including myself) handed chocolate back to adults during their regular neighborhood trick-or-treating rounds this Halloween. They distributed Fair Trade certified chocolate attached to a card explaining the labor and environmental problems in the cocoa industry globally and how Fair Trade provides a solution. The event, Reverse Trick-or-Treating, was launched to raise awareness of the pervasive problem of child labor, forced labor and trafficking in the cocoa fields, to empower consumers to press the chocolate industry for more fair cocoa sourcing policies, to shift the industry toward sourcing Fair Trade certified cocoa, and to inform consumers about Fair Trade companies that are leading the way to industry reform. Fair Trade standards prohibit the use of abusive child labor, contain extensive environmental sustainability protections, and enable farmers to escape poverty.

By Kyle Fluegge, Environment Issue Analyst

Imagine giving $100 to a charity that helps people in poverty better their lives regardless of their background circumstances.  A noble gesture on your part.  Then you find out that only $7.00 of your gift actually went to help who it was intended to help. That’s only 7%.  Outraged?  It would have me asking “Why…?”, but not for the reasons you think.

That’s the situation in Haiti right now – 10 months after the devastating earthquake ripped apart the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.  Only $686 million of $8.75 billion promised for reconstruction has reached Haiti so far.  After the natural disaster, my initial thought was “Pick on somebody your own size.”  After all, isn’t that like a 12th grader bullying a 5th or 6th grader?  The little one doesn’t stand a chance, and neither did Haiti.  And the country is continuing to suffer the consequences.

An outbreak of cholera was confirmed in Haiti on Thursday, October 21. According to the World Health Organization, nearly 5,000 cases of cholera have been documented, and 300 people have died.  Cholera, you ask?  Significant breaches in the water, sanitation, and hygiene infrastructure used by groups of people have allowed large-scale exposure to food or water contaminated with Vibrio cholerae organisms.  In this case, it doesn’t take a well-reasoned fellow like John Snow to capture the essence of the problem…or does it?

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