For Kahl Wallis and other Indigenous Australians, January 26 is not AUSTRALIA Day – they call it “Survival Day”. “It’s definitely an important day for us. A day of survival, of remaining culturally strong and passing down our stories,” says Wallis. “It’s a day to remember our people and the struggle – the continuing struggle.” Kahl and his band the Medics, a Brisbane alt-rock band, released a new track this week on Survival Day called Wake Up (available for free download on SoundCloud). When asked about the songs first two lines – “you are not dissolvable / you cannot be erased” – Wallis told The Guardian, “What I’m trying to say in that intro is that we will never lose our culture and spirit. We might be in the cities, we might be far away from home, but we will still maintain our culture and identity and fight for our freedom.”
In one of the largest demobilizations of child soldiers ever, United Nations officials said on January 27 that they had secured the release of 3,000 child soldiers in SOUTH SUDAN. The first 280 children, ages 11 to 17, were released from the ranks of the South Sudan Democratic Army (SSDA) Cobra Faction, turning in their weapons and fatigues on Tuesday in the village of Gumuruk. The rest of the children will disarm over the next several weeks. Many of the children, who are members of the Murle ethnic group, have never been to school as they have been fighting for years for a rebel militia. Unicef is now trying to reunite the children with their families, and will then introduce them to education and training programs.
Google apologized and implemented a fix to take out anti-gay slurs from its translation tool. Translating from English into Spanish, French or Portuguese, the web version of Google Translate results included insults. More than 50,000 people signed a petition with All Out. leading to Google’s quick response and apology. If you see any Google Translate issues still popping up, email the AllOut team at firstname.lastname@example.org
For the first time ever in the UNITED STATES, there will be an ad that draws attention to domestic violence aired during the National Football League’s Super Bowl. The ad was released this week ahead of Super Bowl Sunday.
In the ad, which is reportedly based on a real-life story, a woman calls 911 but pretends to order a pizza so that her abuser is not aware of what she is doing. It ends with the words: “When it’s hard to talk, it’s up to us to listen.” It was created by the advertising firm Grey New York for the NFL and No More, a coalition of groups dedicated to fighting domestic violence and sexual assault. The NFL donated Super Bowl airtime for the PSA and paid its production costs. Earlier this week, Sports Illustrated decided to run a domestic violence PSA of its own, after initially deciding against it. The 15-second video portrays an uniformed football player tackling an unprotected woman.
The Church of ENGLAND consecrated its first female bishop in a ceremony on January 26. The Right Reverend Libby Lane, 48, was made Bishop of Stockport in front of more than 1,000 people. After decades of argument over women’s ordination, the Church formally adopted legislation last November to allow women to become bishops.
In EL SALVADOR, a woman known “Guadalupe” was granted pardon by El Salvador’s Parliamentary Assembly after being imprisoned for suffering a miscarriage. In 2007 “Guadalupe” received a 30 year jail sentence after authorities wrongly suspected she had terminated her pregnancy. She was only 18 years old at the time. Amnesty International called the pardon a “triumph of justice” that “gives hope to the other 15 women languishing in jail on similar charges.
The Senate of the DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO voted to eliminate a measure in an electoral law that critics say would have prolonged the president’s time in power. The lower house voted last week to require a census before next year’s presidential election, raising concerns that it was merely a ploy to delay that vote and keep President Joseph Kabila in power. Kabila has been in office since 2001 and term limits prevent him from running again. The vote in the lower house prompted large demonstrations against the measure and led to the Senate’s action. A parliamentary committee must now reconcile the bills from the two houses of Parliament before a final version can be voted on.
I’ll end with two more beautiful, inspirational advertisements. The first is for the South African telecom company MTN and I saw it for the first time this week.
The second is from a campaign that came out last June, so wasn’t new to me. But I totally teared up watching it tonight during the Super Bowl with my daughter sitting next to me and my husband yelling “That is AWESOME!”