Every Day Heroes Special Edition – Giovanni Brignoni


Hi dear readers and friends. Long time no sees. I have not been able to ignite the posts in me that I want to share. As you might have seen I have been unhappy with the way our world is developing at the moment and I don’t want to be a doom writer. I want to be a blog about hope, love, and friendship. A blog about people helping this world and everything on it. Ironically, today’s blog is a bit of both.

Who is Mr. Giovanni Brignoni? He is a few things. First and foremost, Mr. Brignoni is a helicopter pilot in Puerto Rico. Secondly, Mr. Brignoni will be a symbol that stands for the people of Puerto Rico and those that are helping them. But let’s start with Mr. Brignoni.

Giovanni Brignoni

You know… I couldn’t tell you a thing, not a clue except for the little bit I have seen from a video I will link below as Facebook doesn’t allow me to embed. This is a video by David Begnaud. A CBS journalist who has been covering the events in Puerto Rico ever since the Hurricane devastated the islands. While Mr. Begnaud has been keeping P.R in the public eye, Mr. Brignoni has been flying all over, rescuing people with every flight in many ways. Please watch the following to get an emotional but honest report and you might understand why I choose Giovanni Brignoni to be “the face” of today’s Everyday Heroes

Click here to view on Facebook

I hope you agree that this man is a very shiny example of an Everyday Hero.

The People in Puerto Rico

Thos that lived there and fell victim as well as those that came and are helping the Islanders get back on their feet. Many people are working tirelessly to restore power and water, clean up beaches and town, clear taken down forests.  Nature has a habit to heal itself over time and I am sure that in that regard, in a few years Puerto Rico will be back to its former beauty.

I would like to show you a video made by Sigma 3 survival school about their efforts to provide the so much needed help

 

I want to conclude with a few mentions and requests.

My first mention must be Carmen Yulín Cruz. The Mayor of San Juan who has been a voice for the people of Puerto Rico and has done lots of work when others waited for “official help”. She has imo shown to be a true leader and the people of San Juan and Puerto Rico should be dang proud of her.

800px-carmenyulin

My second mention must be my dear friend Horty Rexach. A proud Boricua that lives in the USA and has kept Puerto Rico in the news with her blogs and FB activity. I can advise no better place to go and get to know Puerto Rico and how the situation evolves then by reading It is what it is by Dr.Rex 

img_039112

Finally, I want to request you follow the above blog and David Begnaud and if you happen to feel generous please donate to a relief charity of your choosing. If you don’t know one you might try http://rickymartinfoundation.org/

Amazing blog: Invisible People


Wow, I was doing a bit of blog hopping when I found a video containing the story of a homeless man in Chicago. the video linked to an account on YouTube that had a link to their site http://invisiblepeople.tv/

The site is set up by a cameraman who has been homeless himself too and he felt the need to do something. as he tells it on his about page

The purpose of this vlog is to make the invisible visible. I hope these people and their stories connect with you and don’t let go. I hope their conversations with me will start a conversation in your circle of friends.

After you get to know someone by watching their story, please pause for a few moments and write your thoughts in the comments section, or maybe email them to a friend and link back to this vlog . By keeping this dialog open we can help a forgotten people.

I would like to share with you the video of Bobby, this is the video that have led me to this site

The video comes with a page on the site which you can find here

 

MCM: SPOT Save & Protect Our Treasures


So since I am back at blogging I thought I start up the MCM again and again I am going the animal way. This time the Cause of the Month is SPOT.

Why a foundation for wild cats?

At the end of 2006/beginning of 2007 the number of wild cat species was set on 36. Many of them are endangered and of those a lot are threatened with extinction.

Some figures

  • Cheetah: less than 10,000.
  • Snow leopards: estimated 6,500.
  • Lion: estimated 32,000.
  • Fishing cat: less than 10,000.
  • Tiger: less than 3,500.

In the Netherlands there was no NGO specifically aiming at the protection of wild cats. This led to the start of Foundation SPOTS in 2004.

It is impossible to actually do something for all 36 species. Hence the focus of Foundation SPOTS currently lies in the protection of the cheetah, the lion and the leopard. But, through our Dutch website we are also giving a lot of education about all cat species and we name projects that are busy protecting those specific felids. In this way we hope to put the spots on all cats worldwide.

What are the objectives of Foundation SPOTS?

Many wild felids are threatened with extinction. Foundation SPOTS focuses on protecting these felids. SPOTS is active in the Netherlands and does not have own felid projects. She supports local partners in fe Africa and Iran. SPOTS operates in the Netherlands – major goals of SPOTS are educating, creating a network for several cat projects and raise funds for our supported projects in Africa and Iran. Read here which projects are supported by SPOTS.

Our vision
Many wild cat species live outside protected areas such as National Parks. They thus come into conflict with humans, who often kill predators pre-emptive. Although there are National Parks or Reserves where these animals are protected, SPOTS believes that predators should not only to be tolerated in National Parks but outside these protected areas as well. Otherwise, animals will be closed in and are no longer able to migrate, which makes them very vulnerable. This is reinforced by the fact that in a closed area it is difficult to keep a good population of genes, which is important for a healthy animal population. It makes the animals also vulnerable because there could be lack of food if there are too many animals in the same area. This means that National Parks and Reserves always need to be regulated by humans. If the fences are not maintained, there is an immediate problem with outbreaking animals on farmers land.

Corridors, linking parks and reserves, are important. But we also hope that nature outside these areas, can survive. Very much needed cause like said, many predators like cheetahs and leopards live outside protected areas and there will always be outbreaking animals.

Practical solutions, small organizations
This is easy said but the people outside these national parks, often experience the disadvantage of predators on their land. Therefore SPOTS believes we need to help local communities. Therefore we support organizations that are in direct contact with the local communities and who come up with practical solutions. It is one thing to want local people to accept predators on their land. But let’s be real: these people also suffer due to predators and think of them often as a nuisance, because they prey on their cattle which provide their income. So, the organizations supported by SPOTS help the population effectively. For example: our supported lion project builds corrals (see picture) for the farmers. This allows the cattle to be locked in in the evening, making them less likely to fall prey to lions roaming free. Our supported cheetah projects Cheetah Conservation Fund in Namibia (CCF) and Cheetah Conservation Botswana (CCB) place special trained dogs (see picture 4) to chase predators like cheetahs away from cattle. This increases the acceptance limit of farmers to accept lions and cheetahs on their land. Education is also a key pillar for all of our supported projects. Education focuses on the farmers but also the youth. They are the future of tomorrow.

SPOTS is not supporting breeding programmes or shelters for wild animals. We do believe that we should protect the animals in the wild itself. And although some projects we support, do give shelter to (orphaned) animals, this is not our focus point. Again, we believe we should be aiming at wild populations. All money and awareness should be focused on this topic.

Responsible volunteering and tourism
Another major target for SPOTS in the Netherlands is educating people about “petting” tourism or volunteering. There are a lot of organizations in Southern Africa where you can pet a small animal as volunteer or tourist. Although we do believe that ambassador animals can be of value cause they can inspire people, we don’t believe in a breeding programme which enables a programme to always have young animals to pet with. This has nothing to do with nature conservation and in fact, it may in fact support the canned hunting industry.

We also do not believe in walking with lions – we believe the focus should be on lions in the wild and not in breeding lions letting them interact with people first to let them “go wild” again later on. We fully support the IUCN Cat Specialist Group who is also rejecting these kinds of excursions. For their article, click here. Foundation SPOTS therefore is very active in the Netherlands to warn people for these kind of excursions and volunteering places.

SPOT as you can see might be targetting the Dutch audiance but is speaking and working for the big cats in areas where you can find Lions, Cheetahs and Leopards and as you can imagine, they are not walking around in Holland. Therefor I think it deserves a place and your donations regardless of where you are based. Please go to their site and help them help the Lion, Cheetah and Leopard. you can find the Dutch site at http://www.stichtingspots.nl/ and for English you can click the English flag on the top right of the site.

Every Day Heroes: Playing For Change


I think this organization deserves more attention then a blog in a music challenge. So I thought I dedicate a EDH post to them as well introducing some of their most prominent musicians. You can find the founding story right here and here

Grandpa Elliot

Grandpa Elliot

full Bio

PFC Bio (the we in this is of course the PFC crew)

PFC BIOGRAPHY
Grandpa has been a New Orleans street icon for decades. His music and comforting presence have touched countless hearts throughout the years. When you think of the French Quarter you think of Grandpa. Many locals and frequent visitors to the Quarter consider Grandpa the saving grace and passionate force behind the revitalization of the city since Hurricane Katrina. His voice reminds us all that music can help the soul persevere through many hardships.
How we met:
Our first trip to New Orleans was in fact a mission to find Grandpa. We knew of his reputation in the New Orleans street music scene and knew his voice would be a great addition to “Stand By Me.” We made our way over to Royal and Toulouse, and found him entertaining a crowd on the corner. While he was on a set break, we approached him and struck up a conversation and introduced ourselves and the project. With a voice that tickles the soul and a harmonica that lifts the spirit, Grandpa continues to dazzle audiences from street corners to stages across the country.

Clarence Bekker

Some of you might know Clarence already from before he joined the PFC movement, he has had a few hits already under the name of C.B Milton

You should look from about 3:30.  This is a slowed down version of the Euro House that it originally was.

Full Bio can be found here

Clarence Milton Bekker

PFC BIOGRAPHY
Clarence comes from Suriname, and moved to Amsterdam at the age of 6. He started his singing career with legendary Dutch band, Swing Soul Machine, where he was the youngest singer in 20 years. He grew into a dance music artist called CB Milton where he made three albums in the 1990s. Currently, Clarence is living in Barcelona, Spain, collaborating with bands like 08001 and local DJs like Taito Tikaro.
How we met:
While filming Pierre Minetti performing his original song, “Don’t Worry,” in Barcelona, he recommended we meet his friend Clarence Bekker; Pierre thought Clarence would be a good addition to “Don’t Worry,” and “Stand By Me.” That turned out to be one of the best connections we ever explored! In a friend of Pierre’s garden, Clarence’s spirited voice and passionate soul blew us all away. He is now one of the main voices representing Playing for Change.

Keb’ Mo’

Keb’ Mo’

Full Bio can be found here

PFC BIOGRAPHY
Singer-Songwriter and guitarist Keb’ Mo’s music is a living link to the seminal Delta blues that traveled up the Mississippi River and across the expanse of America–informing all of its musical roots–before evolving into a universally celebrated art form. Born Kevin Moore in South Los Angeles to parents originally from the deep South, he adopted his better known stage name when he was a young player who became inspired by the force of this essential African-American legacy. In the storied tradition of bluesmen before him including Muddy Waters–formerly McKinley Morganfield–and Taj Mahal, who began his days as Henry St. Clair Fredericks, Moore became known as Keb’ Mo’. His acclaimed self-titled 1994 debut album introduced that now famous appellation to the world, and his latest album, 2006′s Suitcase, brings it to new heights.
Mo’s music is also a purely post-modern expression of the artistic and cultural journey that has transformed the blues, and his own point of view, over time. His distinctive sound embraces multiple eras and genres, including pop, rock, folk and jazz, in which he is well versed. In total, it owes as much to contemporary music’s singer-songwriter movement, encompassing his longtime friends and collaborators Bonnie Rait and Jackson Browne, as to the spirit of blues godfather Robert Johnson that dwells in his work. For Keb’ Mo’, the common bond between these influences is the underlying storytelling ethic, the power of song to convey human experience and emotional weight.
How we met:
“Keb’ Mo’ has been a friend and mentor of mine since 2000. He once told me that the important thing is to get up in the morning and let the inspiration take care of itself. As Playing for Change has continued to evolve over time it has always had the wisdom and love that Keb’ Mo’ evokes at the center of its heart and purpose. He is truly someone who makes you want to be a ‘Better Man.’” – Mark Johnson

and finally Sherieta Lewis

Full Bio found here

Sherieta Lewis

PFC BIOGRAPHY
Sherieta is a singer/songwriter and vocal arranger from Kingston, Jamaica. Although she has only recently launched her solo musical career, she is no stranger to the reggae music industry, penning lyrics for artists such as Etana, Luciano, Marica Griffiths and Jah Cure to name a few and has also done background vocals for the likes of Tarrus Riley, Diana King, Duane Stephenson and a host of other reggae music greats. Sherieta has released a number of her own singles, namely ‘In the name of Love’, ‘Lies’, ‘Reggae is Life’, all receiving positive responses and quite a bit of airplay across the world.
“Music is my life. It’s what I do best and I love it with all my heart” is what Sherieta says when asked “Why music?” With an unbreakable commitment to spread positive messages through powerful lyrics and strong and convicting vocals, Sherieta has set out to take the world by storm.

These are just a few of the many artists that have joined PFC. Among them are not just the “unknown street artists” but also big names as Bono, Stephen Marley (and in a way Bob as well) and use of footage from John Lennon was also granted to this group of amazing people that try to bring this world together with music.

Please read more and join the movement by clicking above banner

 

 

 

MCM: WarChild


Cause of the month

Cause of the Month logo

Following is taken from Warchild.us

 

Some bear physical scars. All carry emotional ones. On the Syrian border, where the swell of refugees fleeing a bloody and unrelenting conflict shows no sign of abating, the stories that are the hardest to hear belong to the children. War permeates their dreams at night. It has made many of them too anxious to go to school, to leave their homes, or to be more than a few feet from their parents. Children who were once confident, bright and articulate now cower in corners of make-shift tents, eyes downcast, the strain of their lives palpable.

There is five year old Mada, whose hands shake so uncontrollably that she has difficulty dressing herself. Nadiyya, also five, stopped speaking for three years after a mortar exploded in front of her house. Her mother Rasha, pregnant with her second child, immediately bundled her daughter up and fled to the Jordanian border, which she calls “the journey of death.” Like most Syrian refugees, Rasha and her children can barely get through the day, drained as they are by fear and exhaustion. They don’t think about the future, she says, because it is too difficult to imagine one.

As the Syrian conflict enters its fourth year, international agencies worry about the “lost generation” – the children of war who are now years behind in their schooling, and who feel dislocated in an environment that often treats them as interlopers. Syrian children who do manage to enroll in local schools must rejoin at a lower grade level – something that older children say embarrasses them and causes them to be stigmatized by their peers.  Their extreme poverty, the lack of running water in their homes that makes it impossible to wash themselves or their clothes, and the very fact that they are Syrian, often result in bullying.  Parents notice changes in their children’s behaviour as well: their screams in the dark; their unexplained tearfulness; and, their attention and behavioural problems.

But for some children, like ten year old Ameera, school itself is simply too painful to think about.

Ameera wears an orange-knit dress with threadbare sleeves, which she ritually pulls at. A once outgoing little girl with high grades, Ameera no longer attends school – she cannot even bear the thought of it. The last time she sat in a classroom, a missile landed in the school’s courtyard, instantly killing fifty primary school children. Ameera placed her hands over her head as her two best friends, seated a few rows in front of her, were blasted with glass and shrapnel. Amidst the smoke and confusion she ran to them, but her teacher prevented her from seeing them. The girls were already dead. The teacher then led Ameera out the back of the school, and instructed her to run home without stopping. This is her lasting memory of grade five.
Shortly after the missile attack at Ameera’s school, her father, Fayez, began making arrangements for this family of nine to make a run for the border, believing that it was safer to take their chances with what lay ahead than to face what was surely coming for them. The day of their departure, over 100 people – neighbours and friends – were pulled from their homes and hiding places and, according to Fayez, were butchered with knives or gunned down as they ran. Fayez grabbed his children, hastily bundling them into the car behind their home, and fled.


Now in Jordan’s northern refugee area, Fayez is unable to earn a living because he cannot afford the necessary work permits and has shrapnel damage to one arm. Still, he hopes that with time and support his children will have a chance at recovery, and that Ameera will once again be excited to go to school. “I want to be a doctor” she told me. Her wish is that someday she might be able to stop people from dying.

What children like Ameera need – desperately – is to feel safe. This is why War Child’s first priority is to reduce the immediate risk of violence, exploitation and abuse. In the coming months and years we will need to address the education deficit, with accelerated learning classes that will help children catch up their missed years of school quickly. This will allow them to either join the formal Jordanian school system or remain in the program to continue their education. A safe place to go and a return to learning – important first steps on the long journey to a restored childhood.

The war in Syria has precipitated the biggest refugee crisis in twenty years. But it is the stories of individual children like Ameera that give us a sense of the true scale of the tragedy. The suffering of Syria’s children cannot be ignored. It demands action.  Please give generously today.

Still millions of kids suffer in a war or are suffering from the effects of a war they have been in previously. Syria, Uganda and many other countries still wage a war and it’s the kids that pay the price.

About War Child International
War Child International is a family of independent humanitarian organisations, working across the world to help children affected by war.War Child was founded upon a fundamental goal: to advance the cause of peace through investing hope in the lives of children caught up in the horrors of war and currently consists of three implementing offices: War Child Holland, War Child North America and War Child UK.

These offices operate as equal partners, share the same aims and goals and work together in the field, but are totally autonomous, with independent trustees and financial coordination.

GO TO OUR LOCAL WEBSITE:
Australia
Canada
Holland
Ireland
UK
US

ABOUT THE WAR CHILD OFFICES

War Child International currently consists of three offices: War Child Holland, War Child North America and War Child UK. Although sharing the same aims and goals, the three organisations are totally autonomous, with independent trustees and financial coordination.

The three implementing offices have united under a common War Child International flag to unite their efforts and to define a shared set of values, best practices, common principles and operational guidelines under total equality. Thereby creating a network of organisations working across the world to help children affected by war.

WHAT WE DO

War Child International implements projects in Afghanistan, Burundi, Chechnya, Colombia, DR Congo, Ethiopia, Iraq, Israel, Kosovo, Lebanon, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Uganda, West Bank and Gaza according to the following themes:

  • Child protection: to protect children and young people against the consequences of armed conflict.
  • Education: to enable children and young people’s access to education.
  • Justice: to ensure children and young people’s access to justice when their rights are violated.
  • Livelihoods: to build sustainable local livelihoods that address children and young people’s fundamental needs.
  • Psychosocial: to stimulate children and young people’s own psychological and social development.

The War Child organisations run their own projects, but also work in partnership with local grass roots organisations, through both short-term emergency relief and long-term rehabilitation programs, to improve the living conditions of war-affected children.

SUPPORT FOR WAR CHILD

War Child has gained enormous support from the public, schools and business communities. Company sponsor programs, products and co-promotion activities have been set up and many concerts, art expositions and special events have been organised to support the War Child cause. Thousands of schools around the world have participated in raising funds and awareness for children in war zones.

Since the early days of War Child the music and entertainment industry and many famous artists have joined the ranks to support War Child’s cause. Dozens of special concerts and CD’s have been organised to support War Child’s activities.

 

 Annual Reports To learn more and download financial information, visit the national websites:

 

A secret form of Animal Abuse: Greed (once again a long read)


Hi all

As you know I have my MCM project which last month kicked off with some articles about Wolf Haven International, A great organization that stands up for these great animals. This month I was planning to choose one of the bigger animal welfare organizations when I got warned about some of the most famous ones. I am talking about the ASPCA and the HSUS

Above commercial is for the ASPCA, if you look at the video (and many other commercials for the ASPCA and the HSUS) what is your impression. My impression, and correct me if I am wrong, is that if I am donating money to them it (or at least a major part of it) is used to fund and maintain shelters, rescue animals and give safety and food to abandoned animals right?

If only

Following article found on this site sums it up nicely

American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA)

The President and CEO of the ASPCA is Matthew Bershadker. Prior to June 2013, Ed Sayre held the position of power within the ASPCA, but after a seemingly endless stream of scandals, Sayre was removed. Those who were hopefully that Sayre’s removal would lead to a moral and upright man being put in charge were disappointed to see Bershadker come on the scene. As men running one of the largest Animal Cruelty Groups (ACG) in the nation, and an ACG run by donations, to boot, you’d think they would be modest men working for the greater good. Unfortunately, it is the almighty dollar that the former and current President/CEO are working towards. Sayre’s annual income from the ASPCA’s bulging coffers was reported over $550,000 annually while Bershadker has, thus far, pulled in what will become more than $566,000 a year. The average annual salary for local ASPCA heads has been reported to the IRS at approximately $70,000 while directors pull in upwards of $100,000 each year and so-called consulting animal behaviorist net $65,000. That said, there are independent branches of the SPCA without ties to the New York ACG, such as the Wake County SPCA in North Carolina, where the shelter managers work for next-to-nothing or nothing. They are the exception rather than the rule and are, ironically, the very people who should be receiving some portion of the ASPCA President’s bloated salary. Of course, the ASPCA at large sees Bershadker as immensely successful, citing increased donations and expansion as markers of their great wisdom in bringing him onto their team. In the eyes of the ASPCA upper echelon, success is created not by saving the sad-eyed, broken-down creatures featured in their ads but by raking in money. But just where does that money come from, and where does it go?

One of the ASPCA’s and HSUS’s favored expenditures is advertising. And although it is logical that one must spend money to make money, perhaps they get a bit carried away. In 2009, ASPCA Senior Vice-President Todd Hendricks said the ASPCA spent twenty cents for every one dollar of donations. In 2013, the number has changed to approximately twenty-seven cents per dollar. Now, it is worth noting that when Hendricks talks about that ratio of cost to donations, he is discussing the cost of advertisements such as the hugely successful Sarah McLachlan television commercials. Money is also spent on fancy pay-per-plate dinners, among other upper-class fundraisers, and those funds are not included in this figure. In 2009, the ASPCA spent more than 19 million dollars on advertising, a number which has only increased in recent years.

A weighty issue for critics of the ASPCA is their handling of advertising on a national level. The ASPCA is one of the largest and most profitable ACG charities in the country, but it is located in New York. There are an estimated 3,500 animal shelters in the United States, some of which are SPCAs and some of which the public believes are HSUS-affiliated. The perception that your local SPCA shelter is linked to the ASPCA and therefore will receive some portion of the donations you make to the phone number shown during commercials like Sarah McLachlan’s ad is false. The New York-based ASPCA was founded as its own entity in 1866 while your local SPCA’s have various dates of establishment. There is no actual link between the two, meaning the ASPCA is not an umbrella corporation for the smaller, locally run SPCAs. When you call the phone number at the bottom of the screen during an ASPCA commercial, your money goes to the New York-based ASPCA, not to your local SPCA. If you want to support your local SPCA shelter, you have to call them directly. Of course, the ASPCA makes a point to say they give a portion of donations to local shelters. But the reality is that in 2012, the ASPCA gave just 0.045% of its multi-million dollar donations to local shelters. That’s less than one-half of one percent, broken down in even tinier portions in order to be spread all over the country. Remember those 3,500 shelters in the U.S.? A surprisingly large number of those are SPCAs. Imagine the funding they receive from a tiny fraction of what was, in the first place, a tiny fraction.

 

Just what percentage of the ASPCA’s massive donations actually goes to the animals is up for some debate. Although tax information is publically available, finding out what the accurate percentages are is a whole different story. At the high end, some claim as much as just below 50% of donations goes to the animals. At the low end, there is a growing group of critics claiming the ASPCA uses only $11.00 of every $100.00 donated on the animals. In order to get an idea of the most likely situation for yourself, consider these verifiable statistics regarding how many animals the ASPCA “saved” in 2012. The ASPCA themselves claims they saved 4,000 dogs last year. Their IRS statement for 2012 shows $226 million dollars in gross receipts. Let’s be generous and say the ASPCA gives half its donations to the animals. That would mean each dog was given $28,250 of care and supplies. When you consider most shelters feed their dogs cheap grocery-store dog foods like Pedigree and Atta Boy, which runs about $20 for a forty-pound bag and will feed a large dog for a month or more, you cannot help but wonder where the money has gone (and, of course, dog food is a common donation item at all shelters, so it is often free to feed the dogs in residence). It certainly does not cost tens of thousands of dollars per year per dog to keep their run clean and their water bowl full. If your dog had $28,250 just for them each year, how would you spend it? Even the most elaborate surgeries – many of which a shelters cannot provide – would not take as much out of those funds as you might think. Now let’s consider the numbers at the lower level. Ten percent of donations going to the animals equates to approximately $5,650 per dog. Even that is a large number considering most dogs receive inexpensive kibble, tap water and vaccines (vaccines adopting parents are often asked to pay for). Dogs who are not already neutered or spayed will, of course, be altered, but many dogs have already been fixed before ending up at the ASPCA. And when you consider the way surgical and other veterinary costs are marked up – iso anesthetic is often marked up as much as ten or fifteen times its actual cost when billed to a client – you might wonder if the ASPCA is paying exorbitant amounts on medical needs. However, many shelter veterinarians either volunteer their time or receive practically nothing for their services. And medical supplies, including medications and IV bags, are often donated. Interestingly, on their public IRS forms, 90 million dollars is written off as “other”. So why has no one noticed that there is trouble in ASPCA land? Actually, they have.

 

The ASPCA has been part of a RICO case for quite some time. RICO stands for “Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations”. As of 1970, the RICO act made it possible for organizations like the ASPCA to be charged with crimes they either assisted in or ordered others to carry out for them. The case was kept out of the mainstream media spotlight with a great deal of finesse, which is most likely where some of the ASPCA’s money went for years. In 2000, the ASPCA, along with Tom Rider, a man claiming to be a former Ringling Bros. employee, filed a complaint against Ringling Bros. The gist of the case was that Tom Rider had witnessed Ringling Bros. employees abusing animals – specifically, elephants – and that his exposure to said abuse resulted in his own emotional trauma. In 2012, yes, twelve years after the original complaint was filed, the courts finally figured out that the ASPCA was paying Tom Rider to be the plaintiff in the case. This discovery resulted in RICO charges being filed against the ASPCA – and they lost. Tom Rider, the courts decided, never witnessed any such abuse. The ASPCA was simply paying him to say he did.

 

Interestingly, the ASPCA is not the only ACG involved. Also involved is a group that is said to have overstepped the boundaries of right and wrong on numerous occasions – HSUS.

 

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS)

During the Academy Awards in February 2012, an ad campaign was launched against HSUS. The ad painted HSUS as a money-hungry organization with little to no interest in actually helping animals. The main point of the brief commercial was a claim that less than one-half of one percent of its budget – coming out to less than one penny for each dollar spent – is spent on shelters. (It’s worth noting HSUS donated $2.25 million to a political campaign that was anti-meat in one year alone, which is far more than quadruple the $450,000 they doled out to the thousands of shelters in the country in that same year.) The tiny shelter contributions caused an uproar in the pet-loving community and, of course, within HSUS itself. However, when the media approached Human Society President and CEO Wayne Pacelle and gave him a chance to defend the constantly expanding ACG, he couldn’t. Turns out, it’s true. Much like the ASPCA, HSUS is not actually affiliated with your local shelters. Just because they have parts of their name in common with the massive organization does not mean the humane shelter down the street has any ties whatsoever to HSUS. Pacelle righteously informed the media that HSUS never said they would give money to shelters, making the ad’s accusations what he referred to as a “false frame” of HSUS’s financial numbers. After all, according to Pacelle, they spent “tens of millions” annually on sterilization, an issue they take seriously. Therefore, in Pacelle’s logic, HSUS’s paltry handouts to various shelters shouldn’t matter. But ask yourself, when you are moved by the images of filthy, wounded and otherwise pitiful puppies and kittens in an HSUS advertisement and pull out your wallet, are you hoping your hard-earned cash goes to spays and neuters, or food, actual shelter and emergent medical care? That’s not to say it isn’t important to stop just any cat or dog from reproducing at random but rather it is a matter of perspective (also, the horrifying statistics on the reproduction of the U.S. animal population pushed by shelters have been proven to be hugely inflated). And, again, remember that having a pet fixed is not actually a pricey venture. Low-cost sterilization clinics associated with local shelters typically charge around $55 per procedure. Ten million dollars alone would buy hundreds of thousands of spays and neuters if they were paying patient rates at a low-cost clinic. Imagine what tens of millions could do. The markup of services for the general public is understandable and seen for services rendered across the board, but supplies are considerably cheaper for your average shelter as are services in general. So how many spays and neuters would tens of millions buy at cost?

And how much money does HSUS President and CEO Wayne Pacelle bring home? Unlike Bershadker, who brings in more than half a million dollars annually, Pacelle has been making more than $270,000 a year for some time now. While this may seem a paltry number beside Bershadker’s annual take, it’s still quite impressive. After all, only those in the doctor-lawyer-wall street banker class make over $100,000 in the real world, let alone over a quarter million. anesthesiologist, who hold people’s very lives in their hands, can make $250,000 and more, and so can UPS pilots. Not your average pilot, though, many of them don’t even make half that. Pacelle’s qualifications? Degrees in history and environmental studies. Pretty good considering most history teachers only manage to scrape by on about $40,000 a year. But maybe he has a heart for animals and throws himself into his work wholeheartedly. Maybe he’s a diehard animal lover. You’d have to be, right, to work for THE Humane Society?

 

“I don’t love animals or think they’re cute.” – Wayne Pacelle

“I don’t love animals or think they’re cute.” Yes, Wayne Pacelle said that. His supporters say any journalist using that phrase as a stand-alone quote is misrepresenting his beliefs, so here is the entire quote: “I don’t love animals or think they’re cute. I respect them.” In the quote he goes on to say that he would be in the forests around Yale Thanksgiving morning fighting against Yale and the DEP’s annual deer hunt. He spent years as a member of the extraordinarily radical anti-hunting group Fund for Animals, even working his way into a director position. In fact, before he was even out of college, he had been arrested for his extreme behavior harassing hunters. Pacelle equates hunting as on par with cock fights and dog fighting, which is a brutal stereotype for a pastime where most who participate take care to utilize every part of the animal. Yes, some people are wasteful, but even those who waste the skin still eat the meat. You don’t find many hunters wandering into the woods to shoot a deer, watch it fall, say “well, that was fun” and go home empty-handed. So why is the head of HSUS so concerned with sport hunting? Because that’s what the Humane Society of the United States does.

 

Polls and common sense show that more than 71% of Americans believe HSUS’s focus is dog and cat shelters. When you picture HSUS, do you picture a bunch of PETA-like animal-rights activists, or do you picture a group working to rescue, feed and house helpless cats and dogs? Probably the latter, which makes you like just about every other American. However, public records and decades of business practices show that HSUS’s goals actually revolve around animal rights, to an extreme. In fact, many farmers are now speaking out against HSUS because the Humane Society has taken it upon itself to try to force GMO labeling, at any cost. This is neither the time nor word-count place to get into the pros and cons of GMO labeling, so let’s simply ask why a group that advertises itself as an ACG (remember, that’s Animal Cruelty Group, as in they try to stop it) is wading into the GMO labeling fight? And that’s not all they’re involved in. Unsurprising considering who runs things at HSUS.

 

John Goodwin, one of the men hired by Wayne Pacelle, was brought into HSUS in 1997 and is, today, their director of animal cruelty/animal fighting policy. What would people say if they knew Goodwin made the FBI’s terror watch list decades ago thanks to his involvement with an exceedingly violent group called the Animal Liberation Front (ALF)? When questioned by the media about a fire set by ALF members that caused million-dollar damage, Goodwin was quoted as saying he is “ecstatic” about the event. Goodwin also had his hand in the Michael Vick case, which brings us to the next issue: how does HSUS spend the money it collects for specific events? Let’s take a look at Michael Vick and Hurricane Katrina.

“Your gift will be put to use right away to care for these dogs.” HSUS ad regarding the Michael Vick case

Following the Michael Vick dog fighting scandal’s hard-to-miss splash into mainstream media, HSUS decided to get involved. Dog fighting is a horrific atrocity, and no matter how big or small their names are, those involved should always be punished not only to the full extent of the law but far beyond it. Unfortunately, for the most part animal cruelty laws are depressingly lax across the entire country. When agents raided Vick’s property, almost fifty dogs were healthy enough to be taken away. Of those, only one was so irredeemably aggressive that rescuers had no choice but to euthanize him after countless failed attempts to save him. Twenty-two of the more problematic dogs went to Best Friends Animal Society whose headquarters are in Utah, but who also have a branch in Los Angeles. Best Friends worked tirelessly to teach the lifelong fighting dogs what it means to simply be a pet rather than a cold-blooded killer. The real killer was Vick, who murdered eight dogs in and around April of 2007 – that we know of, a number which is, in reality, probably much higher. Considering Vick is known to have been fighting dogs for nearly a decade, the April 2007 killings are most likely just the tip of the iceberg. Dogs were killed by hanging from trees on the property, having their heads held underwater in a five-gallon bucket and, in at least one case, a dog had his head repeatedly bashed into the ground until he died. Dogs in Vick’s “care” could count on being electrocuted, shot, burned and beaten, among other methods of torture. It is clear that the forty-nine living dogs seized by agents needed extra-special care, and in advertisements hastily created and broadcast, HSUS promised to do just that. In the ads, HSUS asked for money specifically to help the dozens of dogs still living who were abused by Vick. The print ad read: “…make a special gift to help the Humane Society of the United States care for the dogs seized in the Michael Vick case… your gift will be put to use right away to care for these dogs.” And since the dogs were in the public spotlight and clearly needed help, the donations immediately began to pour in, as usual. However, this one rare time, HSUS was called on its crap. The New York Times reported accurately that not only was HSUS not providing any care whatsoever to the Vick dogs but that Wayne Pacelle went on the record saying the dogs should be immediately euthanized. After being caught with their hand in the doggy cookie jar, HSUS was forced to halt all Michael Vicks-related donation requests.

 

Another troubling donation campaign occurred at the time of the infamous Hurricane Katrina. New Orleans, famous for Mardi Grass and the French Quarter (and a scary high crime rate), sits below sea level. The poorly engineered levees that were stopping the city from being completely immersed under water finally gave up during Hurricane Katrina. FEMA’s sluggish response to the disaster, despite then-President Bush’s declaring New Orleans an emergency quickly and also signing the initial 10.5 billion dollar relief package without delay, received national attention. FEMA even sidetracked rescuers coming from out of the state into Atlanta, Georgia, for two solid days of training on subject matter like sexual harassment. Pets of the displaced residents were hardly considered in the disastrously bungled relief response. In their usual style, HSUS immediately began campaigning to raise funds for the dogs and cats of New Orleans. If there’s one thing they’re talented at, it’s raising money, and indeed HSUS raised over 34 million dollars for the pets of New Orleans residents. How did they spend the money? Actually, only $7 million of that $34 million was spent on New Orleans. The remaining $27 million remains unaccounted for to this day. There were quite a few rescue groups and animal shelters involved in the post-Katrina efforts whose volunteers worked tirelessly and with hardly any funding whatsoever. Thousands of pets were saved, no thanks to HSUS. The fact that those pets were saved with hardly any financial support makes it all the more impressive. The countless Americans who wanted to help the then-homeless cats and dogs funneled their money to HSUS, thinking it would be spent on New Orleans, just as the ads said it would be. But it wasn’t.

The reality of the matter is that HSUS does not own any shelters, making the advertisements depicting trembling dogs and cats misleading – at best. The few reserves they own are mostly for wildlife. Their focus is and always has been on political policies relating to issues such as hunting (they want to make it illegal), eating meat (yes, they also want to make it illegal) and farm animals (apparently they should be extinct because, Pacelle says, they are the result of “human selective breeding”). And while animal rights is, on its surface, a worthwhile cause, HSUS tends to support the extremist side. Just like the ASPCA. For example, they have made it clear their belief is that animals should run free and those of us who keep cats and dogs as pets are abusing them. When a special breed of cattle was created for the consumer market, HSUS was there saying on the record they were fine with the extinction of domestic cattle. They grudgingly deal with a very few pet-related issues which seems to be more for appearance’s sake and makes up only a fraction of a single percentage point of their spending. And even that is misrepresented. If you see their number of dogs and cats they supposedly helped to spay and neuter, bear in mind the number is rather inflated. Their annual report showing tens of thousands of altered pets is more than a little hyper-inflated. They come up with that number by counting pets altered by more than 400 shelters and countless spay/neuter organizations. HSUS didn’t actually have those tens of thousands of pets fixed. Their tie is tenuous at best and typically means they, at some point, included that shelter in their annual one-half of one percentage point shelter contributions. Many shelters make local headlines when they reach their breaking point after tiring of people thinking HSUS is a shelter-focused entity when their own shelter received either nothing or simply a thousand dollars from the group. HSUS is the richest and most powerful ACG in the world, and not many people realize where their donation dollars go. Out of the approximately $100 million in donations they receive every year through campaigns like those for Michael Vick’s dogs and Hurricane Katrina-affected pets, $20 million goes to salaries. They defend Pacelle’s bloated salary with the ludicrous comparison that, after all, it’s only one-quarter the size of the National Rifle Association (NRA) President’s. Comparing HSUS to the NRA is not apples and oranges, it’s apples and ammo. There is simply no comparison. Remember, HSUS is a 501(c)(3) (the NRA is not), meaning it is considered a charitable organization. They gather funding from unsuspecting animal lovers by presenting themselves as the rescuers of helpless cats and dogs, but the reality is they are far more focused on how dairy cattle and pigs used for meat are housed than they are on whether or not Fido has a loving home. They’ve gone on the record repeatedly saying they have “no problem with the extinction of domestic animals.” And when Michael Vick decided to make his comeback as a dog owner, HSUS was right there to help with Pacelle telling the media Vick “would do a good job as a pet owner.” That was also one of the rare times the ASPCA did the right thing, because they flat-out refused to deal with Vick, let alone endorse him or help him obtain a pet. So what is the result of all this misleading advertising for financial gain? Some sources claim the ASPCA may be losing its 501(c)(3) status.

While this may all seem rather depressing, there are plenty of charities out there that not only need but deserve your help. Sticking with local shelters tends to be wisest, although you should keep in mind that most are kill shelters. That means they euthanize pets that either surpass a set number of days in residence or have little to no chance of adoption (think elderly and infirm). There are no-kill shelters out there, and it is well worth finding one in your area. Rather than sending a check or debit payment to the ASPCA or HSUS this Christmas, why not send your donation to your local no-kill shelter? They need the money far more and will put it to much better use. Do you eat meat? Do you have a beloved dog or cat in your home that you no doubt spoil and love enormously? Are you a farmer, or do you support your local farmers? Do you like to hunt, no doubt making very good use of the resulting meat? Then you are exactly the kind of person HSUS is fighting against. It appears the fraction of a percentage point both the ASPCA and HSUS actually spend on pet rescues is done simply so they can say they’ve done it. No one thinks to check but instead simply trusts the public face presented by both groups. In this season of giving, make sure your gift of donor dollars goes to a deserving charity. Don’t be fooled by the ACG equivalent of the Grinch stealing any hope of Christmas from helpless dogs and cats. After all, would you rather your money goes to actually rescue an abandoned pet or do you want to pay an extreme activist’s salary? Abraham Lincoln said “I care not much for a man’s religion whose dog and cat are not the better for it.” One could easily restate the words of one of our country’s most famous Presidents as “I care not much for a man’s charity whose dog and cat are not the better for it.” What group do you know that puts real time and energy into bettering dogs and cats? Seek them out, and make them the recipients of your donations, both for Christmas and year-round

Now before you start saying that I used a “biased” site you might wanna check out the sources as well, these are all public record and will be listed below. I have decided that I will not take any of these organizations for my MCM project and have instead chosen to have a Charity that deals with kids for April, what it is I will reveal today/tomorrow (depending on your location). I do not say that if you wish to do so you should NOT donate to this group of charities but it is my personal believe that donating directly to your local shelter (and if possible a no kill shelter) has the most impact and will generate the best revenue for these animals per dollar/euro/pound/yen/whateveryauseforcoins

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