Victory: Cyntoia Brown granted clemency

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Activism can help tip the scales of justice: Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam granted clemency to Cyntoia Brown.

In 2004, Brown was a 16-year old whose adult boyfriend was trafficking her for sex. When she killed a man who had hired her for sex – because she thought he was going to shoot her – the state of Tennessee charged her with murder, tried her as an adult and sentenced her to life in prison, even though it should have considered her a victim of sex trafficking.

This victory would not have been possible without massive, sustained organizing. Black women led the charge and drew in celebrities as well as groups like the ACLU and the NAACP. More than 56,000 CREDO members signed our petition and added their voices to the fight.

Cyntoia Brown “should have never seen the inside of a cage, ” said Brittany Paschall, an organizer with Black Lives Matter Nashville, adding that the victory is “a glimpse into a world in which all Black lives matter, a world in which Black women and girls are free.”

Thank you for helping to make that world possible.

Tuesday Tip: 3 Ways to Limit Your Facebook Data Usage

Cell phone with Facebook on the screen and rolling images of a play button, settings icon, and wifi icon

Overage charges. Like parking tickets and Sean Hannity, they’re one of those annoyances in life that we try to avoid. One way you can avoid overage charges on your bill is to limit data usage by apps like Facebook, which is one of the hungriest apps on your phone.

Normal use of the Facebook app—browsing your News Feed and looking at photos—consumes about 1.5MB per minute. Watching videos on Facebook uses around 2.6MB per minute. Spend 45 minutes a day on the Facebook app and it’ll cost you over 2GB of data in a month, which does not include the data the app drains while it runs in the background.

Here’s how to see exactly how much data the Facebook app is using on your phone. On your Android device, open Settings and select Data usage. You’ll see a graph that shows your monthly data usage and, below the graph, data usage by Facebook and other apps. On your iPhone or iPad, open Settings and select Cellular. Scroll down to view your data usage and scroll down a bit more to see data usage by Facebook and other apps.

If you’d like to limit the data your Facebook app uses, here are three steps you can take.

 

1. Stop videos from playing automatically in your News Feed

You can adjust your Facebook app’s autoplay settings to On, WiFi only or Off. If you choose WiFi only or Off, you’ll use less data.

To adjust the autoplay settings on your Android device:

  1. Open your Facebook app 
  2. Tap the menu icon
  3. Scroll down and tap App settings 
  4. Tap Autoplay  
  5. Choose the option you prefer.

(If you don’t see the Autoplay setting on your Android device, log out of the Facebook app. When you log back in, Autoplay should be visible in App settings.)

To adjust the autoplay settings on your Apple device:

  1. Open your Facebook app
  2. Tap the menu icon
  3. Scroll down and tap Settings
    1. (you may need to tap “Settings & Privacy to expand the menu first)
  4. Tap Videos and photos
    1. (If you don’t see Videos and photos in your iPhone or iPad’s Facebook app settings, try updating your Facebook app.)
  5. Tap Autoplay. Choose the option you prefer.

2. Use the Facebook Lite app

Facebook Lite is a slimmed-down app developed to provide a more data-efficient Facebook experience. It uses over 90% less space on your phone, as well as less RAM and less CPU. It also uses considerably less data than the full-fledged app—yet it offers almost all the same features. The primary difference is the simplified interface.

You can download Facebook Lite to your Android device from the Google Play Store. There is not yet a version for iPhone or iPad.

3. Use WiFi whenever possible

This advice applies to all the apps on your phone. Using WiFi instead of mobile data will, obviously, save you a lot of data. Just go to Settings, tap WiFi and turn it on.

 

Our December grantees thank you for your support

Each month, CREDO members vote on how we distribute funding to three incredible nonprofits. Those small actions add up – with one click, you can help fund groups supporting progressive economic policies, standing up to the Trump administration and fighting for the rights of immigrants. In December,  over 69,000 CREDO members voted to distribute $150,000 in donations to Americans for Tax Fairness, Bend the Arc: Jewish Action and Cosecha.

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 November grant recipients thank you.

Americans for Tax Fairness

$70,095
“Thanks so much for your support! CREDO members help make it possible for us to amplify the voices of our hundreds of thousands of online members and our organizational partners to create an economy that works for all of us.” To learn more, visit americansfortaxfairness.org.

Bend the Arc: Jewish Action

$39,480
“Bend the Arc: Jewish Action is proud and honored to partner with CREDO to turn up the volume of the Jewish community’s voice for a more just, fair and compassionate America.” To learn more, visit bendthearc.us.

Cosecha

$40,425
“Thank you for your support and leadership in these emotional times. As a funder of Cosecha you are instrumental in supporting undocumented families everywhere, and a big part of the fight for permanent protection for all undocumented people in the United States.” To learn more, visit lahuelga.com.

Now check out the three groups we are funding in January, 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.

Vote for these three progressive groups this January

Every month, CREDO members vote for how we distribute more than $150,000 in donations between three great progressive groups. This month, you can support civil rights, peace and women’s rights by voting for Color Of Change, Win Without War and Women’s March.

Color Of Change

 As a national online force driven by over 1.4 million members, Color Of Change designs campaigns powerful enough to end practices that unfairly hold Black people back and champions solutions that move us all forward, until justice is real.

Funding from CREDO members will help Color Of Change fight against racist voter suppression proposals in North Carolina through corporate accountability campaigns calling on Apple and Amazon to reject North Carolina’s bids for their headquarters unless the state’s proposed policies are withdrawn.

Win Without War

Win Without War knows our progressive values don’t stop at our borders. The organization unites people-powered campaigns and advocacy with a national partner network to reject violence-first U.S. foreign policies and build a more peaceful and just world.

As the 2020 campaign begins to heat up, Win Without War believes it will be essential to not simply wait on candidates to define their positions but to make clear what progressives demand and expect on foreign policy. A grant from CREDO members would help the organization support an initiative aimed at defining a bold, principled progressive foreign policy vision ahead of the 2020 elections.

 

Women’s March

Women’s March harnesses the political power of diverse women and their communities to create transformative social change. It is a women-led movement providing intersectional education on and mobilization for a diverse range of issues.

Support from CREDO members will help Women’s March continue to build out its programmatic offerings in all 50 states, specifically supporting its women’s agenda, an intersectional policy agenda that is being co-created by a diverse group of 65 individuals and organizations who are policy experts on the issues our unity principles address.

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

CREDO members who use our products everyday 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: 12 Progressive Nonprofits to Support in 2019

Light blue background with transparent glitter and cursive writing that says "support nonprofits"

The holidays are a time of giving—and a good time to choose progressive nonprofits you’d like to support in the year ahead.

The giving is the easy part because you know your donations can help these groups do vital work and make the progressive change our world needs right now. The hard part is choosing where to give, but since we donate to 36 amazing progressive groups every year, we have a few suggestions!

The 12 groups below are a short list of some of the great groups we’ve donated to in just the last few years – nearly $4 million in total.

This list is by no means exhaustive – we’re grateful for every progressive group we help fund! Read on to learn more about these groups and click here to see the complete list of groups we donated to in 2018.

We hope you’ll find one, two, or even more groups that you’re excited to support in 2019.

12 progressive nonprofits to support in 2019

Bold Alliance is a network of local groups in rural states that works to protect land and water from dirty fossil fuel projects while supporting clean energy solutions, protecting landowners from eminent domain abuse, and building an engaged base of citizens who care about the land, water, and climate change.

We’ve donated $121,768 to Bold Alliance since 2013.

The Brennan Center for Justice holds our political institutions and laws accountable to the ideals of democracy and equal justice. They fight for checks and balances, voting rights, fair courts, and an end to mass incarceration.

We’ve donated $340,415 to the Brennan Center for Justice since 2007.

Center for Popular Democracy builds power to ensure our country embodies our vision of an inclusive, equitable society where people of color, immigrants, working families, women, and LGBTQ communities thrive together.

We’ve donated $54,300 to Center for Popular Democracy since 2018.

Earthjustice wields the power of law and the strength of partnership to protect people’s health, preserve magnificent places and wildlife, advance clean energy, and combat climate change. They are here because the Earth needs a good lawyer.

We’ve donated $809,309 to Earthjustice since 1998.

Fight for the Future defends the internet from the NSA, cable giants, and corrupt politicians. From saving net neutrality to beating back censorship and spying, they’re fighting for the future of free speech.

We’ve donated $96,134 to Fight for the Future since 2015.

The National Domestic Workers Alliance is working for improved conditions for domestic workers in the United States while building a powerful movement led by women in low-wage jobs, many of whom are women of color and immigrant women.

We’ve donated $94,788 to the National Domestic Workers Alliance since 2015.

Planned Parenthood provides expert nurses, doctors, educators, and health center staff who bring high-quality, affordable reproductive and healthcare services to every member of the communities in which they work. Its health centers offer a wide range of confidential, safe, professional care. One in five women in the U.S. has chosen Planned Parenthood for healthcare at least once in her life.

We’ve donated over $3.4 million to Planned Parenthood since 1985.

Social Security Works leads the fight to expand and improve Social Security and Medicare and lower drug prices. It works to safeguard the economic security of those dependent—today and tomorrow—on Social Security and to maintain Social Security as a vehicle for social justice.

We’ve donated over $504,597 to Social Security Works since 2013.

Transgender Law Center changes law, policy, and attitudes so that all people can live safely, authentically and free from discrimination, regardless of their gender identity or expression. The largest U.S. trans-led organization advocating self-determination, it employs community-driven strategies to keep transgender and gender-nonconforming people alive, thriving, and fighting for liberation.

We’ve donated $34,470 to Transgender Law Center since 2018.

UltraViolet is a powerful community of people mobilized to fight sexism and create a more inclusive world that accurately represents all women, from politics and government to media and pop culture. Its fast-growing network drives feminist cultural and political change and works to improve the lives of women and girls of all identities and backgrounds and all people impacted by sexism.

We’ve donated $168,661 to Ultraviolet since 2014.

United We Dream is the largest immigrant youth-led community in the country. It works to help undocumented people transform the discrimination they face—and the fear they feel—into finding a voice. It empowers them to develop their leadership and organizing skills and to develop their own campaigns to fight for justice and dignity, for immigrants, and all people.

We’ve donated $165,187 to United We Dream since 2013.

Win Without War is a coalition of groups committed to helping build a better, juster, and more peaceful world by advancing progressive alternatives to America’s over-militarized foreign policy. It supports the foreign policy and anti-militarism work of the diverse array of progressive organizations that make up its coalition, a movement working to shift U.S. foreign policy toward peace.

We’ve donated $57,123 to Win Without War since 2017.

Click here to donate to one, two or all of these great groups.

Made possible by CREDO members 

All of the money we’ve donated to the nonprofits above—and to the hundreds of nonprofits we’ve funded over the years—is made possible by our members, who generate millions of dollars in contributions for progressive nonprofits annually just by using our products and services. These donations cost our members nothing extra. But they mean everything to the groups we support.

If you’re not already a member of CREDO Mobile or CREDO Energy, please think about joining in 2019 and making a positive difference in the world every day of the year.

Victory: Scandal-plagued Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke resigns

Image of former Dept. of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke with word
Activism works.
Thanks to more than 114,000 CREDO activists and massive public pressure by our progressive allies, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke resigned amid multiple scandals that plagued his tenure at the department.

Zinke has faced more than a dozen federal investigations into shady business dealings and unethical behavior, including violations of federal law, misuse of taxpayer money, threats to a sitting senator, illegal use of a private jet, the removal of references to climate change in scientific reports and multiple violations of the Hatch Act.

From the beginning, Zinke, who was the most prominent enemy of public lands in the Trump regime, was never fit to run Interior Department, let alone any agency in the federal government. But thanks in part to the activism of CREDO members, another corrupt Trump administration official was forced to resign.

Climate change is worse than we thought. Here’s what you can do.

The recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reaffirmed our worst fears: Climate change is progressing much faster than we all thought, and our planet is headed for catastrophe if governments and individuals don’t take drastic action now.

Without a major transformation of the global economy, the UN panel found that, as soon as 2040, the earth could experience devastating food shortages and famine, coral reef die-offs, more devastating wildfires, increased poverty and massive population migrations that could lead to armed conflict, with “no documented historic precedent.”

While scientists previously believed the worst impacts of climate change would come when the earth’s temperature rose 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, the report found that a change in just 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit would trigger catastrophic disasters across the globe in just a little over 20 years time.

We’re already seeing the devastating effects of climate change now. Melting glaciers and polar ice. Sea level rise. Sinking land and eroding coasts. Ocean acidification. Rising global temperatures. More extreme wildfires and more intense hurricanes.

The IPCC believes stabilizing global temperatures will “require unprecedented efforts to cut fossil-fuel use in half in less than 15 years and eliminate their use almost entirely in 30 years,” which is made all the more difficult given the current anti-environment, pro-fossil fuel administration here in the United States, one of largest energy consumers and polluters in the world. Donald Trump packed his administration with climate deniers and fossil fuel executives, withdrew us from the Paris climate agreement and has begun dismantling the Clean Power Plan, so it appears unlikely the Trump administration will heed the warning, particularly when Trump himself has called climate change a “hoax.”

So in the face of such dire warnings, what can we do? In addition to a restructuring of the global economy and swift action by governments across the globe, we can do our part to pressure lawmakers, change our daily habits and help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

First, we must keep up the pressure on the Trump administration and our elected officials to address the climate crisis immediately. That means rejoining the Paris agreement, reinstating the Clean Power Plan, stopping fossil fuel infrastructure projects, passing legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, fighting for climate justice and tightening regulations on the fossil fuel industry. Right now, CREDO activists are taking action to stop coal exports at military bases, prevent Trump’s weakening of environmental regulations and preserving rules regarding methane emissions.

Second, we can do our part in our daily lives to reduce our impact. Even though many in our current government are putting their heads in the sand, we must take it upon ourselves to act until we elect new leaders who will. For example, we can reduce our waste, bike to work, eat less meat, plant trees and reduce our energy consumption.

Third, we must begin transitioning to clean, renewable sources of energy now. To keep our planet from hitting the catastrophic 2.7 degree threshold, the IPCC believes we must increase renewable energy production from sources like solar and wind, which accounts for roughly 20 percent of our current consumption, to as much as 67 percent.

Here at CREDO, we’re helping to make the transition to renewable energy a top priority and easy for consumers. With CREDO Energy, you can offset your home’s electricity usage with renewable energy credits to give you access to clean, sustainably produced electricity.

And with CREDO Energy, you will be powering progressive change, because we give $150,000 every month to progressive causes fighting for the environment and climate justice, civil rights, women’s rights and more.

Tuesday Tip: 7 ways to improve your indoor air quality

Illustration of a kitchen with house plants, a soy candle, natural dishwashing liquid, and moving clouds in the windowFor most of November, CREDO’s home city of San Francisco was submerged in smoke drifting south from the massive Camp Fire, the most destructive wildfire in California history. For weeks Northern California had the worst air quality in the world, as air pollution levels consistently registered in the “very unhealthy” range.

We learned a lot about air quality last month, including some things we didn’t know about the quality of the air indoors. We were surprised to learn that the air inside the typical home can be up to five times more polluted than the air outside—information that is especially relevant as winter sets in and we spend more time indoors.

Fungal spores, fumes from cooking and toxins that off-gas from paints, varnishes, cleaners, mattresses, carpeting, furniture, and building materials all pose a threat to your health. They can cause headaches, asthma, allergies, nausea, crankiness, even cancer.

If you’re concerned about the air in your home, here are seven tips to mitigate indoor air pollution and breathe easier.

Open the windows

This is a simple, effective way to clean your air at home. It may be briefly uncomfortable if it’s cold outside but opening your windows for even 5 minutes every day can significantly reduce the accumulation of indoor air pollution.

Another way to circulate air and get the toxins out is to install fans in your attic, bathroom, and kitchen. This is particularly important if you live in a damp climate where mold is a problem. A dehumidifier will also help. Aim for a target of under 50% humidity.

Get more plants

Houseplants are air-cleaning workhorses. They pull all sorts of toxins and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) out of your indoor atmosphere, including CO2, formaldehyde, benzene, and xylene. Some of the best plants for cleaning your air are aloe, bamboo palm, spider plant, English ivy, and philodendron.

Houseplants also produce oxygen, which helps you sleep well. And they release phytoncides, which boost your white blood cell count and neutralize microorganisms in the air. To keep your plants in peak condition, read our post on healthy houseplants.

Choose non-toxic cleaners

“Clean” is not what you get when you use most mass-market cleaning products, because those products contain toxic chemicals that contaminate your air and threaten your health. Instead, choose green cleaning products. Or make your own from ingredients like vinegar, baking soda, citrus juice, and essential oils.

Service your fuel-burning appliances

Make sure to maintain your gas heater, stove and oven, furnace, water heater, and other fuel-burning appliances. They can leak carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide if not regularly serviced.

Air out new furniture

Most large furniture pieces are made with fabrics, glues, varnishes, and fire retardants that off-gas VOCs and cause all sorts of health problems, from headaches and dizziness to cancer.

If your furniture is packaged when it arrives, remove the packaging outdoors and let the furniture air out as long as is realistic, preferably in the sun. Or put your new furniture in a seldom-used room, open the windows and air it out there. Use fans to increase air circulation.

When you can, choose floor samples, which have likely been sitting out and off-gassing their VOCs for some time. Or look for non-VOC furniture.

If you have kids or you’re particularly sensitive to airborne chemicals, consider pulling up any carpeting you have in your home. It can emit VOCs for five years or more.

Clean your ducts and change your filters

The ducts in your forced-air heating system may also be forcing in mold spores, dust, and other contaminants. You’ll need a professional to clean your ducts but you can change the furnace filters yourself. Do it every three months and use the thickest filter you can find.

Avoid (most) scented candles

Winter is a great time to light a scented candle and get cozy. But if your candles are made of paraffin, you’ll be getting a lot of nasty byproducts with that pleasant aroma. Paraffin wax is a petroleum derivative and candles made from it waft highly toxic benzene and toluene into the air when burned.

The wicks of many scented candles contain heavy metals like lead and emit them when lit—as much as five times the amount of lead considered dangerous for children. The artificial perfumes and dyes used in many candles are also hazardous and the petro-soot from paraffin candles is the same soot found in exhaust from diesel engines.

A far better alternative is beeswax. Beeswax candles release negative ions when burned, which helps clean the air by binding with positively charged pollen, dust, dirt, and other pollutants, weighing them down and causing them to drop from suspension.

Soy candles are another option but most soy candle companies use a blend of soy and paraffin and legally label their candles “soy.” Look for 100% soy candles. Also look for non-GMO soy candles.

Air pollution is the world’s single largest environmental health risk. We tend to think of it as an outdoor problem but indoor air pollution is a serious threat to your health, because the air indoors is typically worse and because we spend as much as 90% of our time inside. Follow the seven tips above to ensure the air in your home is as clean as you can make it.

How does CREDO’s progressive donations process work?

In

Ever since we were founded more than 30 years ago, CREDO has given consumers a powerful alternative to doing business with huge corporations whose conduct is antithetical to the political, environmental and social values we share.

Part of that mission is giving each CREDO member the ability to be a philanthropist to the progressive causes we all care about. Whenever our members use a one of our products or services – CREDO Mobile, CREDO Energy, long distance or credit card — they contribute to our mission of progressive social action.

That’s because every month, we give $150,000 to progressive causes like civil rights, women’s rights, peace, LGBTQ equality and climate justice. Since 1985, we’ve given more than $86 million.

Many members ask how our donations process works. Today we’d like to give you an inside look.

Our giving process is democratic

Each month, we donate $150,000 to nonprofit groups fighting for progressive change – groups like Planned Parenthood, Rainforest Action Network, Social Security Works and so many others.

This money is generated entirely by our members. When they use one of our products or services – CREDO Mobile, CREDO Long Distance, CREDO Energy or the Working Assets Credit Card – we dedicate a portion of the revenue to our donations program. Many CREDO Mobile and CREDO Long Distance members also make additional donations by rounding up their monthly bills by a few dollars to send extra support to the causes we fund. Then, at the end of each month, we distribute these donations to the three nonprofit groups we’re supporting that month.

 The groups we support are chosen democratically. Representatives from all CREDO departments meet monthly to vote for the three nonprofit groups that will be on the “donations ballot” and receive donations.

Our donations are distributed democratically. Each month, we send the donations ballot to CREDO members, activists and supporters, and they vote for the group (or groups) they’d most like to see funded. Donations are then distributed according to their votes.

Voting is open to all

Monthly voting is open to anyone who wants to take a few seconds to vote on our ballot and direct funding to the progressive nonprofit(s) of their choice. However, the votes of CREDO members carry a little more weight. The vote of a member with one CREDO product or service counts twice. The vote of a member with two CREDO products or services counts three times. And so on. Read More

This Holiday Season, OUR Walmart Demands $15/hr, Real Raises for Long-Term Employees and Full-Time Hours for Associates

OUR Walmart logo Madeline Chambers is a mother, OUR Walmart leader, and Walmart associate of two years living with two kids in Gastonia, NC. OUR Walmart improves the lives of workers in the country’s largest employer and job sector and is a long-time ally of CREDO. Since 2014, CREDO members have voted to donate over $186,000 to OUR Walmart.



Protest by organization OUR Walmart with signs demanding Walmart raise the hourly wage to $15/hr

This time of year, Americans everywhere head to stores like Walmart for the biggest shopping season of the year. When they arrive, they’re be greeted by people like me – retail workers ready and willing to help find that “something special” for their loved ones this holiday season.

But even as retail jobs become one of the most common occupations in the country, there’s a dark side to this holiday shopping craze our customers need to know. Behind the smiles and festive store decorations, hundreds of thousands of Walmart employees are struggling during the holidays to get by on poverty wages and limited access to the full-time hours we need to survive.

I’m one of those Walmart associates. After two years of working at the company, I still make just $11 an hour. As a single parent of two children, this means that I’m forced to make tough decisions about what bills to pay and how I’ll make ends meet every day. Only a year and a half ago, my family and I were homeless. I worry that we’ll find ourselves in that position again if things don’t change soon.

And I’m not alone. I know others – many of whom have dedicated years to this company – that have to rely on food stamps and other forms of government assistance just to get by.

As a mother, the pain caused by being in this position is even harder during the holidays. Like many parents, I want to make this time of year as special as I can for my children, and it’s heartbreaking to still be struggling despite the blood, sweat and tears I have poured into this job.

But while working families at Walmart suffer this holiday season, people at the top of the corporate ladder are counting their blessings with room to spare. The Walton heirs – who own 50 percent of the company– have a net worth of around $180 billion, with top executives like Marc Lore, Greg Foran and Doug McMillon regularly bringing home millions in annual compensation. Walmart is even preparing to spend $20 billion to buy back its own stock, funneling more and more of the company’s profits back to executives and the largest shareholders like the Waltons. Read More