Thursday, April 28, 2016

"What you don't want to hear..."

 "If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they don't want to hear."- George Orwell, writer, author of 1984

            How do you create instability, oppression and extremism in any country?  Deny citizens access to education, hold them down in abject poverty and the most crucial element, shut them up. Freedom of speech and expression is a universal human right. It is our most important right.  When freedom of speech is suppressed anywhere it is suppressed everywhere. Without freedom of speech how would  we express our love, joy, fear, anger? How would we communicate danger or protect our community, read literature or compose music and song lyrics?  How would we make someone laugh with a witty joke  or shed tears with a sad story? How would we openly and honestly discuss our problems in order to resolve them? How could ordinary citizens, educators and journalist bloggers tell the world a corrupt government is destroying democracy by suppressing their basic human rights?  The South Asian country of Bangladesh has been the focus of many disturbing news stories over the past year. After spending decades decreasing poverty and establishing a successful secular system of government Bangladesh is being set back by its political instability, religious extremism, inequality and severe climate issues. Most recently the brutally senseless murders of secular bloggers and human rights activists have drawn much warranted attention to violent injustice.
           Essayist and author of Satanic Verses,  Salman Rushdie once wrote, "What is freedom of expression? Without the freedom to offend it ceases to exist."  In the United States we must remember his statement applies to all religious faiths, political and philosophical thought or inquiry. We may not like what we read or hear but we cannot oppress our own freedom to criticize, disagree, argue and express an opinion.  Featured above is BBC documentary Our World, Bangladesh Blogger Murders .  which examines the factors leading to the crippling chipping away of freedom and the monstrous consequences of fanatical ideology.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

"Losing your conscience.."

"Problems cannot be solved at the same level of awareness that created them."
- Albert Einstein

              Breathtaking, stunning, awe inspiring, majestic are just a few adjectives visitors use to describe the gorgeous magnificence of  northwest Arizona's, Grand Canyon. Grand Canyon National Park is the United States 15th oldest and one of the most beloved national parks on the planet. Supported by native tribes, environmentalists, conservation groups and more than 80% of Arizona voters the 1.7 million acre park has been proposed a Grand Canyon National Heritage Monument   protected as federal land. As a monument the area would bring in a predicted 52 million dollars for the state and ban uranium mining in the area.  Over 80% of Arizona voters agree the Grand Canyon National Park should be protected, a permanent ban should replace the temporary ban on uranium mining and the Grand Canyon National Heritage Monument should be established. So what's the problem? Politicians are placing personal profit over the best interests of the citizens they represent. As usual all Americans and tourists from around the world will pay a price for "American greed". If the land isn't protected we are potentially destroying human, animal, plant life and some of the most beautiful lands in our country.

         Are Republican politicians listening to Arizona voters? Not in the least. Notorious billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch have abused their influence with a few prominent  Arizona Republican representatives by funneling millions of dollars to a special advocacy group opposed to conservation and blocking any campaign to protect the Grand Canyon  Greg Zimmerman of the Center for Western Priorities discovered incriminating information from tax forms submitted to the IRS as well as a co-authored report by  Prosper Foundation and the Arizona Chamber Foundation revealing his findings to the Phoenix News Times earlier this week.

  For more information about protecting public lands including conservation budgets and reform contact your state officials here or check out the National Wildlife Federation website here:

(video courtesy of YouTube)


Sunday, April 17, 2016

" Our resources are limited. Our time is limited."

   "We live in a world that is full of problems, and we are the solutions to those problems."- Julia "Butterfly" Hill, environmental scientist 


             Earth Day is observed worldwide on April, 22nd. Established by former United States Senator Gaylord Nelson, Earth Day was intended  to promote ecology and respect for life on our planet. The first Earth Day resulted in the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency , Endangered Species Act, and the Clean Air Act On the first Earth Day back in 1970, over 2,000 United States colleges and universities participated, along with 10,000 primary and secondary schools. Earth Day is a celebration among global citizens used to encourage action and awareness of urgent issues affecting human life, all animals species, soil, water and air pollution. So what can we do right now?

Share information.  Educating ourselves is the only way to save our planet and help children understand taking care of our Earth is a moral imperative. We have the ability to stop, improve or involve ourselves in some form of resolution for the following disturbing facts.

The average person tosses out about 4 pounds of garbage every single day. 84 percent of our garbage is recyclable.

Half the world’s tropical and temperate forests are now gone. Forests around the globe provide habitats for thousands of animal species which are being destroyed or endangered, gravely upsetting the balance of our ecosystems.

Every ton of paper that's recycled saves 17 trees.
During a 2011 Earth Day celebration, 28 million trees were planted in Afghanistan by the Earth Day Network.

Art, instruments and other trinkets manufactured with ivory can only be made from dead elephants. Don't buy, sell, trade or promote ivory. Don't promote or condone trophy hunting.

Approximately 5 million tons of oil produced in the world each year ends up in the ocean.

Water pollution comes from many sources including pesticides, fertilizers and other toxic substances that wash away from industrial factory waste, untreated human waste water, and farms. Talk to your local government representatives to see what's being done to prevent water pollution and how its affecting your family, community, food and health.

Plastics contained in garbage dumped in our oceans kills at least 1 million creatures each year. In 2015 pollution from excessive garbage caused the death of more than 37 tons of fish in the Rodrigo de Freitas lake in Rio de Janeiro.

   It may seem unbelievable for many of us who have instant access to tap water, 24/7 but 1.1 billion people worldwide lack access to water. Only 3% of the world's water is available to us, and soon we will run out. .

Earth Day is a time to take action, reflect, honor and be grateful for the natural resources and beauty of our planet. But Earths resources are limited and our time is limited. This is our only home.

#EarthDay2016  #24Seven

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

"Words make it visible."

       In a study conducted by the Department of Justice and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, researchers found 1 in 5 American women and 1 in 15 American men have been victims of sexual assault.

      Sexual assault isn't a topic most Americans want to discuss. We must. As the statistics above indicate, you or someone close to you has likely been the victim of sexual violence. In many areas of the world male and female rape victims are stigmatized by their own cultures. The victims of sexual assault are shunned or made to feel more blame or shame than the actual perpetrators. Recently, a well known celebrity went on a Twitter rant discussing school girl dress codes and provocative clothing. Her comments were lambasted by teachers, news organizations, law enforcement, men and women of all ages and backgrounds clearly revealing the majority of adults in the United States understand that no matter what a young women wears on her body she is not responsible for the sexual urges or inappropriate actions of grown men. To even suggest that children or teenagers are inciting their own sexual assault or abuse is disgusting and stunningly ignorant. Rape is about power and control, not sex. Shaming is a barbaric tactic used to keep victims silent. But the Twitter rant did ignite a conversation and words make this crime visible. 

       Rape is a violent act. Rape is a violation of ones own body. In the United States rape is a serious crime punishable by law. Statistics on sexual assault can often be misleading because many assaults go unreported. Why?  More than 60 % of assaults are committed by people known or trusted by the victim. April has been designated Sexual Assault Awareness Month.  Turning the spotlight on the crime of sexual assault is critical because rape is a public health problem not just a moral or ethical issue. Survivors of sexual assault can contract diseases or even become pregnant. All survivors of such a violent crime, especially those who may become pregnant from their assault have the right to any and all mental and physical health care assistance. Education and awareness is only the first step to reducing violent, criminal behaviors. Let's keep the conversation going. 

Photo credit of "Desert Dweller"- Cori Storb

Friday, April 8, 2016

"Who will speak for them?"

"Most people I know who weren't kind to animals weren't kind to people either. Kindness is kindness. Simple as that."- Ricky Gervais, actor, writer, producer, activist

     April is Animal Cruelty Prevention Month. Even though awareness has grown, stricter laws have been enacted and additional punishments have been enforced over the past few decades there is still a tremendous amount of support needed in the prevention of animal cruelty. We understand that greed is motivation for dog fighting and puppy mills but what mind set or lack of emotion enables human beings to inflict pain, torture or completely neglect an animal?  Why do humans continue to abuse animals? 

"One of the most dangerous things that can happen to a child is to kill or torture an animal and get away with it." -Anthropologist Margaret Mead

  What are the characteristics of an animal abuser?  
        Abuse and neglect of animals is not just a mere "character flaw" or an act to be taken lightlyAbusing animals starts early in life and with proper intervention can be prevented. Without intervention you may be allowing an animal to suffer or die. In assessing youth at risk or those who have the potential to become violent, the U.S. Department of Justice stresses a history of animal abuse. Sadly, animal abuse is often learned and accepted in the child's life. Children have been taught that animals don't suffer or feel pain the way humans do. Children who fail to develop empathy will abuse. In some but not all animal abuse cases the adult or child was abused themselves. The FBI sees animal cruelty as a predictor of violence against people and considers past animal abuse when profiling serial killers.

      Typically, animal abusers are aggressive or posses a violent and/or sadistic streak. Overly aggressive personalities are often fearful people. This type of abuser may have an imbalance; feeling either inferior or superior to others. In order to gain a sense of power or domination they may strike a defenseless animal, keep them in cages for an excessive amount of time, punish them for relieving themselves, deny them food, water, exercise or deny any type of physical petting or affection. If you notice that another human being is cruelly teasing, childishly displaying excessive jealously or acting aggressively towards your pet, seek help. Do you trust this person around your children or other loved ones?

Neglect is a form of abuse.

     Abuse encompasses much more than slapping, hitting or displaying acts of violence. Neglect is another form of abuse. Animals depend on us for their survival and well being. When we adopt a cat or dog and bring them into our home we should be prepared to love them as much as we do any other family member. An animal depends on us for their medical treatment, shelter, food, water, grooming and physical/mental stimulation. Caging or chaining an animal for more than eight hours at a time is not only excessive, it's neglect. Keeping an animal outside 24/7 with little or no shelter is neglect. Failure to properly nourish, supply fresh, clean water or provide adequate exercise for your pet is neglect. There are millions of  hard working people with honorable intentions who adopt or rescue pets with the heroic thought they are "saving" an animals life. Ask yourself this question, a question you would ask parents of  their children: "What kind of life are you providing  if you don't love or care enough to pay attention to their basic needs?"

What do you do if you suspect animal abuse?

     If you suspect there is a puppy mill operating in your area, a shop selling puppy mill animals,  dog fighting, abuse or neglect of animals in your neighborhood, contact your local law enforcement or animal control. Don't be afraid to speak up. We truly are an animals only voice. Document times, locations, and all details of the alleged abuse. If possible provide photographic or video evidence of a crime. Ending animal suffering is up to you, not only in the month of April but now and forever.

#EndAnimalAbuse #StopPuppyMills

Sunday, April 3, 2016

"Know your neighbors."

 "Hate. It has caused a lot of problems in this world, but it has not solved one yet."
- Maya Angelou

        Hatred is an extremely strong emotion against objects, groups, individuals or even behaviors. Stop for a moment and really contemplate a person, place or thing you dislike. Why do you hate this person, place or thing? How did you learn to dislike this person, place or thing? We aren't born with complex, deeply rooted or irrational hatred. So where does rage or fevered ferocity come from? Anger that raises your blood pressure or makes your heart beat faster -where does that anger come from? Imagine if you were a child exposed to rage, fear and hateful ideology on a daily basis. It's a fact, children raised on junk food with little or no nutritional value are more likely to become unhealthy or ill. So if fear and anger is all you've been fed your entire life, fear and anger becomes you. Unresolved or uncontrolled anger increases the possibility of violence including self-mutilation, property damage, child abuse, physical assault or even homicide. For many of us trying to comprehend constant unconstrained anger is overwhelming. Empathy, education, understanding why people are frustrated or hate each other may be the only solution to bring about real long term resolution or change. Believe it or not, right now within the United States there are over 892 established hates groups. Domestic terrorism is one of the greatest threats to American personal safety and security. Hate crimes are committed for reasons of race, gender, gender identity, religion or disability. Hate crimes are tracked by local law enforcement and the FBI and can be monitored at websites such as the Southern Poverty Law Center which continuously updates their United States hate map located here- 

       Personal stories, books, conversations, exposure to diversity helps us become more aware of the origins and history of hatred and fear. "Welcome to Leith " is a 2015 Sundance Film Festival nominated, UK East End Film Festival, Florida Film Festival and Hot Docs Canadian  International Documentary Film Festival award winning documentary written and directed by Michael Beach Nichols and Christopher K. Walker. The feature archives the attempted take over of  Leith, a small sparsely populated town located in North Dakota. In 2012 white supremacist, Craig Cobb began purchasing property including over twelve plots of land to build homes and compounds. Cobb's ultimate plan was to move in his Aryan army of white separatists to overtake Leith's fragile government. The town consists of under a hundred ranching and farming families with generational ties to the area.

         The documentary will be featured in full  Monday, April 4th at 10PM EST. on televisions largest showcase of independent films, PBS Independent Lens   A preview of "Welcome to Leith" can be seen above (courtesy