Take Action

Freeing Journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee Is AlterNet's Top Take Action Campaign of the Week

Call on the North Korean government to release the two American journalists sentenced to 12 years of hard labor.

Two American journalists reporting from the China/North Korea border have been sentenced to 12 years in a labor prison for what North Korean authorities called a "grave crime they committed against the Korean nation."

Laura Ling and Euna Lee were working for California-based Current TV when they were arrested March 17 for an illegal border crossing. Earlier reports that indicated they were being tried for espionage were false, the New York Times has reported. The sentence, handed down by a North Korean court June 8, has drawn much criticism from the United States.

"We are deeply concerned by the reported sentencing of the two American citizen journalists by North Korean authorities, and we are engaged through all possible channels to secure their release," Ian Kelly, a U.S. State Department spokesman, said in a statement. "We once again urge North Korea to grant the immediate release of the two American citizen journalists on humanitarian grounds."

The Obama administration has condemned the sentencing, affirming that it will pursue "all possible channels to secure [the women's] release."

The legal process surrounding the sentencing was a flagrant violation of due process, Amnesty International has said. "No access to lawyers, no due process, no transparency: the North Korean judicial and penal systems are more instruments of suppression than of justice," said Roseann Rife, Amnesty International's Asia-Pacific deputy director.

There has been talk of sending a special envoy to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea to negotiate with Korean authorities. At the top of the list of potential candidates is New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, who has maintained contacts in North Korea since his days in the Clinton administration. Richardson, who likened the situation to a "high-stakes poker game," expressed hope that meaningful negotiations could take place.

"In previous instances where I was involved in negotiating, you could not get this started until the legal process had ended," he said on the Today show. The United States could try to seek a kind of "political pardon, some sort of respite from political proceedings," he said.

In addition to accomplished journalists, Ling and Lee are sisters, friends, mothers and daughters to many. Their sentence is outrageous and should not be tolerated. Join thousands of others who have signed a petition urging North Korea to release them.

Here's the rest of our Take Action campaigns for this week:

II -- Save California's State Parks

On July 1, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is planning to slice the state parks budget in half. Then, in 12 months, he's looking to eliminate funding for state parks altogether. This means that 220 state parks will shut down -- 80 percent of California's entire system.

The economic consequences of this move will be dire. In addition to sucking much-needed tourism revenue from local businesses, the decision will lay off thousands of state park employees, many of whom have put in years of service.

Join the Sierra Club in stopping this outrageous move. Tell the governor and state legislators you want to keep the parks open.

III -- End the B.S. on Abstinence-Only Education

Congressional studies have shown that abstinence-only education is failing generation after generation of our country's children. Yet millions of federal dollars continue to pour into these programs.

Additionally, "crisis pregnancy centers," which make false claims about offering abortion services, continue to lure in scared young women under the pretense of counseling. These fake clinics make false claims about the dangers of abortion, withhold facts and pressure women to carry out unwanted pregnancies.

It's time to be sensible about birth-control options. Tell congressional leaders that they need to stop throwing our money away on misleading and dangerous policies.

IV -- Stand Up Against the Right-Wing Attacks on Judge Sonia Sotomayor

Sonia Sotomayor is an accomplished scholar, celebrated judge and devoted public servant. But despite her impressive credentials, right-wing critics have responded to her historic nomination with thinly veiled sexist and racist attacks. Please join Presente.org in standing with Sotomayor and urging the Senate Judiciary Committee to give her a swift confirmation

V -- Help Stop the Spread of Nuclear Weapons

Earlier this year, President Barack Obama announced that he would take steps during his presidency to reduce the creation and proliferation of nuclear weapons. His words mark a change in presidential politics of late, which have not done much to address the issue.

Obama wants to negotiate a new arms-reduction treaty with Russia. He's also seeking Senate approval for a treaty that bans the testing of nuclear weapons. If approved, these measures could be the first of several important steps necessary to reduce the world's terrifying cache of nukes.

But Obama's initiatives are likely to meet resistance from hawks in the Senate. Please write today and urge your senators to work toward reducing the threat posed by nuclear weapons.

VI -- Health Care For America Now

With the likes of Rick Scott and Blue Cross Blue Shield turning on the pressure, we must keep on Obama to carry out his campaign promises about fixing our broken health care system.

Click here  to learn more about what you can do to help ensure that insurers don't defeat health care reform.

VII -- Ensure Equal Pay for Hard-Working American Women

It's 2009, and women who work full time are still only making 78 cents for every dollar men earn. It's even worse for women of color: African American women make only 63 cents, and Latinas get a measly 52 cents. What can you do to put this to an end?

Join the ACLU in supporting the Paycheck Fairness Act, which makes some much-needed tweaks to the Equal Pay Act. The House of Representatives has already passed this legislation. Now it's up to you to get the Senate to approve it, too. You can do it here.

VIII -- Slam Bill O'Reilly for His Jihad Against Dr. George Tiller

Dr. George Tiller, one of the few OB-GYNs in the country who performed late-term abortions despite threats to his safety, was brutally slain two weeks ago in an act of domestic terrorism. Scott Roeder has been detained for questioning, but while Roeder may have pulled the trigger, another participant in Tiller’s tragic death is still at large: Bill O'Reilly.

“Tiller the Baby Killer" -- that’s how time and time again on national television O'Reilly referred to Tiller, a man who worked within the confines of the law and was a legal medical practitioner. O'Reilly's rhetoric helped feed the hate that led to Tiller’s killing, and we believe that O'Reilly must take responsibility for his abhorred actions. That is why we urge you to join CREDO in telling O'Reilly that he should "take responsibility for creating an atmosphere in which the assassination of Dr. George Tiller comes as no surprise. And ask him to pledge to stop spreading the hateful rhetoric that encourages violence against doctors who provide reproductive health care for women."

IX -- We Must Be Fearless in Our Opposition to Proposition 8

The California Supreme Court has announced its deeply disappointing decision to uphold Proposition 8. We don’t have time to mourn the failure of the state court to restore marriage equality to California. It’s time to go on offense and be fearless in our fight for equality. Will you join the Courage Campaign and stand up for what you know is right?

X -- Help Battle the Bank Bullies

A New Way Forward, a citizen-action group created to pressure large national banks to play fair, will hold a series of events nationwide on June 10. In addition to teach-ins, protests and rallies, the group will screen its Economic Crisis 2009 video.

A New Way Forward formed in April 2008 as a "pact we're making as citizens to not continue to let Wall Street act like our masters. The point is winning the battle with the banks can change politics as usual."

If you havequestions or are seeking more info, visit A New Way Forward's Web site.