Victory: CREDO helps stop Sinclair-Tribune mega-merger

Amazing news: Thanks to the activism by more than 200,000 CREDO activists and our partners, we stopped the Sinclair-Tribune media mega-merger from moving forward.

This merger would have given a single broadcast company a disturbing level of influence in the country’s media landscape. Already Sinclair is the largest broadcast group in the country, with 193 local stations. Sinclair has a long history of force-feeding local stations racist and biased must-run segments that hurt local journalism and communities.

The proposed mega-merger would have left Sinclair with an incredible 223 stations covering 72 percent of U.S. households.

Because of our massive grassroots pressure, even Trump’s FCC had to acknowledge that this deal was bad for the public interest.

This victory was all possible in part because of CREDO members and activists who proudly stand up for our media and democracy – so from all of us here at CREDO, we’d like to say thank you for all that you do.

Tuesday Tip: How Mobile Payment Works

Tuesday Tip: How mobile payment works

Two years of your life. If you’re an average American, that’s the amount of time you’ll spend waiting in line.

Some of it can’t be helped. Like airport security. But some of it is uncalled for and annoying. Like when that person in front of you at the cafe takes 5 minutes to pay for a $3 latte with a credit card to get—what?—a few feet’s worth of airline miles? Aaargh!

Luckily, help is at hand. Mobile payment options speed transactions and shorten lines—and they’re increasingly popular. By the end of 2018, one-quarter of U.S. smartphone users over the age of 14 will have made a mobile payment in a store.

Here’s what you need to know to get started.

What are mobile payments?

A mobile payment means just that: making a payment with your mobile device. The payment can be at a restaurant, grocery store or any other store that accepts mobile payments.

Or it can be person to person, such as paying back a friend who spotted you for dinner or paying an eBay seller for a pair of shoes. Because they happen over the internet, payments can be done anywhere. Just open the app on your phone and tap a few times to send money. The payment may be made with your bank account, debit card or credit card. Popular P2P payment apps include Venmo, Zelle, and PayPal. Paying via your bank account or debit card is usually free while using a credit card will incur a small fee.

What is a mobile wallet?

This is an app on your phone that stores the information from your credit or debit card and enables you to make purchases with your phone, without having the actual card with you. The big three mobile wallets are Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay, which come integrated on their respective devices. iPhones have Apple Pay, Android phones have Google Pay and Samsung phones have Samsung Pay.

You can also download a mobile wallet app from your bank or credit card company. If you have a card from, say, Chase, or Capital One, you can download their wallet app to your device and use it wherever it’s accepted.

Mobile wallets make purchases quick and easy. When you arrive at the register, just open the wallet app, hold your phone up to the compatible reader and you’ve paid. Mobile wallets can also be downloaded to tablets and smartwatches.

What is a merchant wallet?

Megachains like Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts and Walmart offer their own “closed loop” payment apps that work only in their stores. For example, you can download the Starbucks wallet app (now the most popular mobile payment app in the world), put money in it, then use it to pay for your coffee.

These merchant apps are particularly popular because they give users rewards, like one free coffee after you buy 100. (If you do go to Starbucks, we encourage you to bring your own mug, since Starbucks paper cups still are not recyclable—although we did recently pressure Starbucks to begin development of a recyclable cup.)

Can you earn credit card rewards with a payment app?

The short answer is yes. The long answer is sometimes not. Yes, if your credit card gives you points, miles or cash back on your purchases, you’ll still earn those rewards if you use that credit card via a mobile payment app, same as you would if you used the plastic card.

But if your credit card gives you bonus rewards when you use it in specific places, like, say, 3% cash back when you use it at a restaurant, your mobile wallet may not categorize the payment exactly and you may not earn those bonus rewards, so check with your card issuer to be sure.

Some mobile wallets offer you their own rewards for using them. For example, Samsung Pay gives you rewards points you can use when you buy Samsung products, in addition to the rewards you get from your credit card company.

Is a mobile wallet secure?

Security is a primary reason more people have not embraced mobile payments. Many fear that when they transmit their credit card information into the atmosphere, some hacker might vacuum it up and go on a spending spree.

In fact, a mobile wallet is among the safest ways to pay. Think about it. When you write a check, a fraudster can easily steal all the private information that’s printed on the front of it: your name, address, bank, account number and routing number. They just take out their phone, snap a photo and it’s theirs.

And when you use a physical credit or debit card, the data can be stolen by a skimmer at an ATM, gas station or restaurant.

Payment apps and mobile wallets, on the other hand, create a random, one-time number—a transaction token—for every transaction. Even if someone is able to learn that number, it’s not valid for other transactions. Although you load your card information into your payment app, your card number is not shared with the merchant when you pay. Many payment apps also require a PIN or your fingerprint to authorize payments, so the app can’t be used by someone else even if your phone is stolen.

One other benefit of mobile payments: if more people don’t use credit and debit cards, that’s less plastic pollution fouling up our planet. Here’s another way you can help fight the plastic problem: try these alternatives to a plastic water bottle.

 

Transgender people’s rights and lives are under threat. Transgender Law Center is fighting back.

Editor’s note: Join CREDO for a live conversation with the Transgender Law Center on Tuesday, Aug. 21 to discuss how transgender people’s rights and lives are constantly under threat and how allies can help. We’ll be broadcasting the discussion on Facebook and YouTube. Click here to learn more and RSVP.


We are in a moment of intense violence and hatred, and there is a lot of fear in transgender and gender nonconforming communities. The number of transgender women of color murdered continues horrifically to rise. We are criminalized and arrested at alarming rates, while Trump and his bigoted Attorney General Jeff Sessions pledge to put transgender people in prison in unsafe and abusive conditions by denying us housing that corresponds to our gender identities.

Transgender women are fleeing deadly violence across the globe and seeking asylum in the United States, only to be held in inhumane detention conditions that can quite literally kill them. Roxsana Hernandez, one such woman who undertook a brutal journey this spring in the hope of finding safety in the United States, died in Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody shortly after presenting herself at the border. If Trump succeeds in adding another conservative extremist to the Supreme Court, its radical majority that will likely target the rights and safety of transgender people for decades to come.

But it’s important to remember that when Transgender Law Center was founded 16 years ago, the rights and visibility we have today were not even in sight. Before all of our legal and policy wins, we took care of each other and we fought for our rights and for justice.  As a trans-led organization with a strong legal arm, we know that while the legal system can be used to provide relief for injustice, it was built to maintain unjust systems of power and marginalize our communities.

That’s why Transgender Law Center has long held that we must resist not only through courts and legislatures, but through rallying together, organizing and supporting each other as we have always done. Through programs like the Black LGBTQ Migrant Project, TRUTH, TIDE and Positively Trans, TLC continues to center those of us who are most targeted, including trans folks who are Muslim, Black, living with HIV, young, undocumented, and who have disabilities. And of course we continue to fight fiercely in the courts as we work on the ground to build up a trans-led movement for justice.

Trans and gender nonconforming people are resilient. We know how to fight for ourselves, our families, and our communities, and we know how to keep each other safe. TLC is drawing on that history and that strength as we continue doing what it takes to keep transgender and gender nonconforming people alive, thriving, and fighting for liberation.

Kris Hayashi is the executive director of the Transgender Law Center, an organization committed to keeping transgender people alive, thriving and fighting for liberation. This past June, CREDO members voted to donate over $34,000 to the organization. Join CREDO on Tuesday, Aug. 21 for a live conversation with Kris and his colleague Isa Noyola for an in-depth discussion on the topics covered in this blog post. You can learn more and RSVP here.

CREDO reaches $86 million in donations to progressive groups


We’ve got some really exciting news to share: CREDO has recently surpassed the milestone of having donated $86 million to progressive groups since we opened our doors in 1985!

That’s $86 million in donations to organizations like the ACLU, United We Dream, Planned Parenthood and so many more that are fighting for civil rights, climate justice and the environment, peace, women’s rights and other progressive causes.

This achievement is only possible because of the loyalty of CREDO members who use our products every day. From our mobile phones and long distance to our credit cards and now our new energy product – our members are fueling the progressive movement in incredible ways.

So if you’re a current CREDO member, we’d like to say thank you. If you’re interested in joining our progressive movement, click here to learn more about the products that fund it: CREDO Mobile and CREDO Energy.

Again, thank you for believing in our vision of creating positive social change every day. Here’s to $87 million – and beyond!

Vote to give funding to these three progressive groups this August

Every month, we ask you – our members – to vote how we distribute $150,000 in donations to three great progressive groups. This month, you have the chance to vote for groups fighting Trump’s Supreme Court takeover, protecting Social Security and Medicare and standing up for women’s rights by casting your ballot for Alliance for Justice Action Campaign, Social Security Works and UltraViolet.

Alliance for Justice Action Campaign
We can’t allow Donald Trump to give a lifetime seat on the Supreme Court to another person who will march in lockstep with his agenda. That’s why the Alliance for Justice Action Campaign is organizing massive resistance to protect the Supreme Court from a total Trump takeover.

CREDO funding will allow AFJAC to create a dynamic digital awareness campaign aimed at stopping Donald Trump from packing our courts with right-wing extremists for lifetime judicial appointments. AFJAC will mobilize activists and make senators’ inboxes light up with powerful messages regarding preserving key civil rights and protections

Social Security Works
Social Security Works fights to protect and improve the economic security of disadvantaged and at-risk populations, safeguards the economic security of those dependent, now or in the future, on Social Security and maintains Social Security as a vehicle of social justice.

As Trump and congressional Republicans continue their attacks on our earned benefit programs, funding from CREDO members is now more vital than ever to ensure Social Security Works can continue its fight to expand Social Security, enact Medicare for All and lower drug prices.

UltraViolet
UltraViolet promotes a more equitable world for all women and creates consequences for sexism. It leverages high profile media moments to hold decision makers accountable, creates a cost for sexism, and shines a light on the people and policies that are improving all women’s lives.

CREDO funding will help UltraViolet educate and empower women and allies to lead strategic, mediagenic actions online and in their communities that highlight the interconnected injustices that women face while working toward long-term, systemic culture and policy change to create a more safe and equitable world for all women.

Your vote this August will determine how we divide $150,000 in donations among these three progressive causes. Be sure to cast your vote to support one, two or all three by August 31.

CREDO members who use our products are the reason why we are able to make these donations each month. Learn more about CREDO Mobile, the carrier with a conscience.

Our July grantees thank you for your support

Each month, CREDO members vote on how we distribute funding to three incredible organizations. Those small actions add up – with one click, you can help fund groups fighting for civil rights, climate justice and racial equality. In July, over 75,000 CREDO members voted to distribute $150,000 in donations to the ACLU, Amazon Watch and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.

These donations are made possible by CREDO customers and the revenue they generate by using our services. The distribution depends entirely on the votes of CREDO members like you. And for that, our July grant recipients thank you.

American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
$64,142
“We are so grateful to CREDO members for helping us resist the Trump administration’s unconstitutional agenda. Thank you for standing with us.” To learn more, visit aclu.org.

Amazon Watch
$44,617
“Thanks so much to CREDO and all of its members! With your help, Amazon Watch can continue our work to stop Amazon destruction, advance indigenous solutions and support climate justice.” To learn more, visit amazonwatch.org.

NAACP Legal Defense Fund
$41,241
“Thank you for joining the NAACP Legal Defense Fund’s fight for equality. Your support will help LDF combat attacks on our civil rights. Together, we can achieve racial justice in a society that fulfills the promise of equality for all Americans.” To learn more, visit naacpldf.org.

Now check out the three causes we are funding in August, and cast your vote to help distribute our donations.

CREDO members who use our products are the reason why we are able to make these donations each month. Learn more about CREDO Mobile, the carrier with a conscience.

Tuesday Tip: 5 Tips to Help Ensure Your Eco-travel is Actually Green and Ethical

Tuesday Tip: 5 Tips to Help Ensure Your Eco-travel is Actually Green and Ethical

It’s midsummer and you may be dreaming of a vacation. Are you interested in eco-travel? A lot of people are these days: 87% of global travelers now say they want to travel sustainably and 68% plan to choose an eco-friendly accommodation. This is good because tourism accounts for a whopping 8% of global carbon emissions.

If you are looking for a sustainable destination, make sure you do some research before you choose. Inspired by the trend in ecotourism, a lot of hotels and tour operators are “greenwashing”— they’re marketing themselves as sustainable and ethical, when in fact, they do little or nothing positive for local communities or the environment.

The nonprofit International Ecotourism Society describes ecotourism as “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains the well-being of the local people and involves interpretation and education.”

If that’s what you’re after, take these steps to ensure that your next trip is truly eco-friendly.

Ask questions

There is real green and there is astroturf—and, unfortunately, there is a whole lot of that plastic stuff. So don’t choose your destination based solely on an advertisement that touts a commitment to the environment and responsible engagement with local communities. Look more closely.

The International Ecotourism Society says any organization involved in ecotourism should do the following:

  • Minimize physical, social, behavioral and psychological impacts.
  • Build environmental and cultural awareness and respect.
  • Generate financial benefits for both local people and private industry.
  • Provide positive experiences for both visitors and hosts.
  • Provide direct financial benefits for conservation.
  • Deliver memorable interpretative experiences to visitors that help raise sensitivity to host countries’ political, environmental and social climates.
  • Design, construct and operate low-impact facilities.
  • Recognize the rights and spiritual beliefs of the indigenous people and work in partnership with them to create empowerment.

If you’re serious about going sustainable and ethical when you travel, you should ensure that the companies you deal with adhere to the above principles. So ask them specific questions, like these:

  • Do you invest a percentage of your profit in environmental conservation? How much?
  • How do you minimize your environmental impact? Can you give a few examples?
  • Do you follow the Leave No Trace policy?
  • Do you hire local people and buy local products?
  • Are you involved in any community-empowerment initiatives?
  • Do you have programs that promote understanding and appreciation of the local environment and culture?
  • Does the trip respect the dignity of the local people and community?

Go to the website of your accommodation or tour operator and look for information on building materials used, efforts to save energy and conserve water, and initiatives to engage with local people. If you can’t find info like that, maybe the hotel or operator’s ethical claims are empty.

Look for affiliations

Affiliations are not a guarantee of sustainable bona fides but they are a good start. There are a lot of standards organizations that certify hotels, lodges and tour operators as green and ethical.

For example, LEED, TripAdvisor GreenLeaders, and the aforementioned International Ecotourism Society. Look for certification by groups like these. Also look for affiliation with organizations like National Geographic and the World Wildlife Fund. Nat Geo certifies a selection of Unique Lodges of the World and the WWF has its own tour operation called Natural Habitat Adventures.

Visit these websites

Book Different: A travel booking site for sustainable travel where you can search over 1 million accommodations.

Eco Trip Match: A free service that matches travelers with ecotourism providers.

Global Sustainable Tourism Council: The GSTC certifies certification bodies. That’s as wonky as it sounds but the GSTC website does have a good page of advice for travelers and even an online training course on sustainable travel.

Green Destinations: A nonprofit dedicated to the promotion of sustainable tourism and certification of destinations. Check out its top 10 sustainable destinations.

Green Global Travel: A colorful and detailed blog full of information on ecotourism practices and destinations.

International Ecotourism Society: The oldest and largest international ecotourism association. A great site to learn about sustainable travel.

National Geographic Traveler World Legacy Awards: Honors companies and destinations—from airlines to hotels to countries—that are driving positive change in the tourism industry.

TripAdvisor GreenLeaders: The popular travel site’s program rates eco-friendly hotels and B&Bs based on basic green practices like recycling, serving local and organic food, and supplying electric car charging stations.

Don’t take a cruise

Neither planes nor ships are good for the environment. But at least when you take a flight you can offset your emissions when you buy your ticket. There are few options to do that when you take a cruise, even though cruise ships—which burn sludgy, tar-like heavy fuel oil—emit far more carbon per passenger than planes do, as well as tons of air-polluting, climate-damaging sulfur dioxide. In fact, the average cruise ship releases as much particulate matter into the air in one day as 1 million cars.

And then there is the sewage problem. A cruise ship is, in essence, is a small floating city. The world’s largest cruise ship holds 9,000 passengers and crew. The average cruise ship, with 3,000 passengers and crew, produces 21,000 gallons of raw sewage daily, along with over 450,000 gallons of gray water, 4,000 gallons of oily bilge water, and up 19 tons of solid waste. Where does it all go? Straight into the ocean.

Avoid poverty tourism

We strongly recommend that you avoid any travel companies that peddle in “poverty tourism,” the unethical practice of traveling to, fetishizing and exploiting impoverished areas for the purpose of tourism and entertainment. Learn how to spot poverty tourism and how to avoid it.

Travel is like any other consumer industry: it follows demand. So if we choose more sustainable and ethical options when we take our trips, the travel industry will respond and, through our choices, we’ll make a positive impact—wherever we land.

Tuesday Tip: 4 Steps to Reduce Your Waste

4 Steps to Reduce Your Waste

The world has a gargantuan garbage problem.

People now produce more than 2 billion tons of waste every year, most of which is burned, buried or shoved into the sea. At the current rate of ocean dumping—one garbage truck per minute—there will be more plastic in our oceans than fish by the year 2050.

We truly live in a throwaway society. Ninety-nine percent of what we buy gets trashed within six months. The average American tosses out three and a half pounds of stuff each day.

But there is a solution. The three R’s: reduce, reuse, recycle. You’ve heard it before. You may be tired of hearing it. But it does work. Sweden is so good at recycling that it now has virtually no waste. In fact, it has to import garbage from other countries to keep its recycling plants running.

Here are 4 simple steps you can take to cut your household waste.

Bring your own bag

As noted above, plastic pollution is now a global crisis, with plastic bags cluttering landscapes and clogging oceans. If your city is not one of the enlightened few that has banned plastic bags, you can help by putting your purchases in your own cloth tote. There are many reusable grocery bags on the market. Check out these 16 different options at Recycling.com.

You can also easily reduce the number of plastic bottles you buy if you carry your own reusable beverage bottle. Have a look at a few recommendations in our recent post.

Stop wasting food

Americans toss a lot of food. In fact, around 40 percent of the food we produce ends up wasted. That works out to an average of 400 pounds per person each year. You can limit food waste at home with a few easy steps.

Shop smart: plan your meals, make a detailed list of what you need before you go to the store and stick to it. Eat your leftovers: get good containers and label them with a date to avoid spoilage. Date labels, which many times refer to peak quality rather than safety, are notoriously confusing and might lead you to throw out perfectly good food, so read carefully.   Read more ideas in our food waste post.

Buy less packaging

It’s hard to avoid packaging when you shop. But you can choose items wrapped in less packaging when available. For example, you can buy in bulk. You can also select options packaged in aluminum or paper rather than plastic. And try to avoid items packaged in a mix of materials, such as paper with a plastic lining, because these are harder to recycle.

Bring your own cup

A lot of people think that disposable coffee cups because they’re made of paper, are as recyclable as any other forms of paper packaging waste. Many are not. To avoid leaking, some cups are coated with a layer of polyethylene. As a result, the cups are almost never recycled creating a huge problem.

For example, let’s look at Starbucks, the world’s largest coffee chain and a longtime target of CREDO activism against waste. Four billion Starbucks paper cups go into landfills every year because the cups are not recyclable. This is despite the company’s past promises (all broken) to develop a recyclable cup. Recently, in March, Starbucks again promised to develop a 100 percent recyclable and compostable paper cup within three years.

This is good news but until this better cup arrives (if ever) all of Starbucks’ billions of non-recyclable cups will continue to flood landfills and oceans, along with all the company’s non-recyclable plastic cup lids, straws, cutlery, and packaging.

We live in an age of convenience and the price, to be perfectly frank, is the health of our planet. Let’s all spend a little time and effort and seek out less convenient, more Earth-friendly options and do our world a favor.

 

What 34 Women Think of Brett Kavanaugh’s SCOTUS nomination including CREDO Action Co-Director Heidi Hess

Donald Trump’s pick of extreme, right-wing Judge Brett Kavanaugh to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court left by the retirement of Anthony Kennedy is another clear attack on women’s rights by the Trump administration. Kavanaugh was handpicked by extremists bent on rolling back abortion rights and access to health care for women.

In what has become a standard Trump practice of excluding women from the table and pursuing an aggressive anti-woman agenda, the White House sent reporters 34 testimonials of Kavanaugh’s credentials – all written by white men – urging a swift confirmation process.

In response, women’s media organization Refinery29 featured 34 prominent women‘s reactions to Kavanaugh, including Nancy Pelosi and Elizabeth Warren, the leaders of NARAL, Planned Parenthood and the Center for Reproductive Rights, feminist scholars and activists, and CREDO’s own Heidi Hess.

 

As Refinery29’s Natalie Gontcharova put it, “By choosing all white men to speak on behalf of the entire country, the Trump administration is once again reaffirming its commitment to white, male supremacy.”

We agree, and that’s why we will be fighting this nomination with everything we’ve got. We’re already mobilizing our 5 million members to take action, and through our donations program, we’ve given nearly $10 million to groups fighting for women’s rights, and we’re one of Planned Parenthood’s largest corporate donors.

If you’d like to learn more about how you can take action, visit CREDO Action’s website here.

AT&T is one of the NSA’s “most trusted partners”

We’ve known for a while that AT&T was working hand-in-hand with the NSA to spy on Americans’ internet traffic. But a new investigative report by the Intercept revealed the eight cities where AT&T hosts “wiretap rooms” for the NSA to skim data as it passes through their networking equipment.

In each of these eight locations, AT&T provides the NSA with access to a special facility designed to transport vast quantities of our internet traffic. Even if you are not an AT&T customer, these facilities may sometimes transport your emails, phone calls, and online chats.

The Intercept report confirms what we already knew: the NSA “considers AT&T to be one of its most trusted partners and has lauded the company’s ‘extreme willingness to help.'”

AT&T’s active partnership with the NSA is outrageous and unconstitutional, and we’re not going to stand for it. That’s why we’ve launched an urgent petition demanding that AT&T stop giving the data it collects to the NSA. (You can sign the petition here.)

Unlike AT&T and other phone companies who profit by selling your information to the federal government, privacy is a core value for CREDO, and we will fight to defend it. CREDO will never collaborate with the NSA or give our customers’ data to the government unless legally required to do so.

In fact, we’re proud to protect our customers’ privacy from government intrusion. We’re the first mobile company to issue a transparency report. We filed a lawsuit against the FBI challenging the constitutionality of National Security Letters that we received in 2013.

And we’re proud to be the only mobile company to earn a five-star rating last year from the Electronic Frontier Foundation for our policies protecting your data from government requests.

You can read more about how we stand up for our customers’ privacy here.