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Global Tentacles

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Giraffe Cave Art at the NamibRand Nature Reserve
Picture credit: Namibnat

 

At first glance this morning, this news appeared to be a positive move, made by someone who had their heart and their power, in the right place, and was a cause for tremendous joy.
But then after reading further and seeking secondary and other stories for reference, it seems that all is not as it appears.
Paul Allen, the Billionaire philanthropist, who is seemingly strongly supportive of protecting Endangered Wildlife, has several not so nice personal blemishes, that must also be considered before we proceed to give him his Best Global Humanitarian Award.
Mr. Allen has introduced a measure to get on the Fall Ballots in Washington State, that will put a hurting on those who use the World’s  most at risk wildlife to make a dirty income.
The measure, called Inititive 1401, has already reached, thanks to all of his volunteers in the field, the necessary number to get on to the Ballot in November.

This is a great thing.

What I am having trouble with, is the dark side of his company Vulcan and his sister Jody, who was the CEO, and has just stepped down after some very ugly issues about wildlife  poaching and sexual harassment were brought to light by accusers who work for Allen’s company.
I will not go fully into these things, as they are well presented in the links below.
What I am interested in pointing out here is this.
When very rich, very powerful people make the news and receive gushing accolades without the public or the press, doing more than just a little background digging into the facts, bad things can happen.
In this case, Allen, who has passionately promoted this initiative in Washington, to save and protect wildlife, seems awesome, but something here is not right, and  it all smells just a little rank, when you learn that he has regularly taken African Safaris and owns Tourist Lodges in Botswana.

Now add to this, the fact that his Company Vulcan,  formerly run by his sister, has been taken to court and accused of smuggling, poaching and more.
All too often, people like Allen and his sister, are unlike you and me, frequently kept safely in a cocoon, so that the scandals, or dirt runs off of them and does not stain their pristine, public images.
My concern and primary reason for writing about this today is, that it would be so much easier to believe Allen and all the others who claim to be truly concerned about the welfare of Endangered Wildlife, if there was not so damn much money involved in all of this.

If, as you do so passionately profess Mr. Allen, you truly do wish to protect Endangered African Wildlife, may I suggest that you dispose of your African Tourist Lodges and suspend your Safari trips?

It would be wonderful to see those with so much wealth, using it to personally educate and enlighten the rest of the world to what is happening to the precious few wild animals that we have left, before they are all gone.

We absolutely must take this message out to the schools, to the young, who will become our next generation of protectors.

Sadly, access to excessive money can turn even the best people’s heads the wrong way and there is just too much at stake here.

The treacherous arms of Global Smugglers and Wildlife Traffickers can have very long tentacles, some are even said to be attached to Global Mobsters, that just may reach into even safe corners, including those of the well protected, well insulated, excessively wealthy.

 

Places to learn more:

Washington Rare Species Trafficking Measure, Initiative 1401 (2015)

Global Efforts to Stop Illicit Wildlife Trade: Are They Enough?

China Promises an End to Its Ivory Trade, While Some U.S. Politicians Pander to Wildlife Traffickers

Paul Allen: Seeking unbroken tall bones?

Paul Allen’s sister steps away from managing $17 bln fortune

Seahawks owner Paul Allen, sister settle as bodyguards claim smuggling, bribery

War threatens existence of wildlife species in South Sudan

Washington State Initiative Aims to Protect Iconic Animals Threatened With Extinction

Paul Allen bankrolls initiative to ban rare-species trafficking

 

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Sí, se puede!

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Beautiful Havana, the capital of Cuba
Picture credit: Vgenecr

 

In a move that I believed would never happen in my lifetime, resuming relations with a tiny country just 90 miles offshore from Florida, the President of this Country, has just changed the political status of our two countries once again.

The Island Nation of Cuba has until today, been rejected, cut off and shunned by us for more than 50 years.

This has always struck me as two-faced, as we have had, although frosty at times, relations with other Communist Countries, like China, Russia and Viet Nam  for many years and this seemed  a pretty cold-hearted way to treat this once much admired and loved Island Nation just to our South.

In our efforts to punish the Castro Regime, we ended up instead, mostly hurting only the people.

Yes, there will still be problems, diplomatic and political issues to be worked out, but with this new thinking, the thousands of Cubans who already live here, may soon be able to finally go home and see family that they had lost all hope of ever seeing again.

The fact that we should be willing to treat Cuba as well as we do the others, was so long in coming for some fairly ugly reasons, they did not, as do the others  we have kept relations with, have anything that we want.

We tend to only ” forgive” those who have a product or “other”  that we can use to our benefit.

As for this day, today people were exchanged, secrets were kept secret and assurances may have been made.

Will this be the first step in Global efforts to embrace our differences with the other smaller nations who like Cuba,  offer us little more than trade benefits?

Hopefully other big Nations will begin to think about the Humanitarian reasons to also engage.

As President Obama said today, none of the reasons for cutting our ties with Cuba have had either much impact, or truly changed the situation.

America’s total and complete embargo of Cuba, failed to achieve the desired results.

So, millions have suffered for more than fifty years, for little more than pride and vanity on both sides.

The Castro Regime and the Americans at the helm here, both dug in their heels and innocent people on both shores have suffered.

Each and every week here in Florida, boats are washed ashore with those who risk all, just for the chance to either be free, or to rejoin other family members here.

Historically, the impact of Cuban people here in America is legendary.

They have representation in every imaginable aspect of our Culture from the arts, in  film, and music, and especially in sports, they are extremely well represented in all professions and every corner of our American society.

They are also quite well represented in our political forums and as with all who come here, the great joys of political freedom, also comes with tinges of pain, when thinking of those that are left behind.

Now, on this day, President Obama, working with many others including the Government of Cuba, has changed all of this.

For the people from Cuba, more than fifty long and painful years will hopefully soon come to an end and Cubans can rejoice with those of us who have friends and family from the Cuban Nation.

It is looking good just now because starting today, we will renew a friendship that has been painfully put on hold.

Once again America and Cuba can be allies for their people with a potential prospect for Peace.

Let freedom ring.

I for one, am thrilled at the imminent good things yet to come.

Yes, we can,  America and Cuba,  Sí, se puede!

 

Places to learn more:

Obama: US re-establishing relations with Cuba

Cuba releases American Alan Gross, paves way for historic easing of American sanctions

President Obama’s statement on Cuba policy change

Obama: US re-establishing relations with Cuba

 

 

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Is Helping The Hungry And Homeless A Crime?

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Arnold Abbott: the Police and the Politics of public feeding.
Picture source: Unknown

 

At first glance this story appears to be just another case of politics bullying charity, but not so fast.

This story should have been written a few days ago, but it was not to be, as I was once again up in Gainesville getting my  melanomas tended to.

Now it’s back to work this morning…

If you have not heard of this man yet, you will.

His name is Arnold Abbott and he is a 90-year-old advocate for the homeless and hungry in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Arnold has for many years been feeding the homeless on the beach at Ft Lauderdale.

There are many who support him in his charitable endeavors, but as usual, there are also those who are very much opposed.

There are kind generous souls in many places around Florida and the Country,  who also do this, some make the news, others do not.

When too many complain, laws get passed and ordinances are put into place, to shut those who feed in public down, not just here, but  all over the country.

In the past ten years, the warmer states in America have been inundated with the poor and hungry.

And, as the economy went South, so did the homeless.

When providing food to those with none, there is always a risk of offending those who find it unpleasant, even dangerous to themselves, their families, or their businesses.

In the past in some places throughout the state, there have been reports, or incidents of public displays of indecency, or eliminating in public.

There have also been some petty crimes associated with these public feedings.

The list is long for each side.

The point is, there are simply not enough places to provide either shelter, or food for the current abundance of homeless here in Florida, which now ranks third in America, for numbers of  homeless, after New York and California.

The desperate come from all over the country to find relief here, knowing that for one, they will not freeze to death while being homeless and that there are more than just a few places to go to find protection from the situation they find themselves in.

When the two sides collide, as they are doing right now in Fort Lauderdale, is when the public out cries begin and many outsiders, along with the press, get involved.

Many people want the hungry to be fed inside, not out in the public view.

Does it make them uncomfortable in  this tourist rich state to see the plight of those with nothing?

Florida depends heavily on the lavish spending of rich visitors and if they are appalled or turned off by the sight of the poor and hungry being fed, it may hurt this state’s bottom line.

What is that old saying about  “walking a mile in my shoes?”

It only takes ONE big negative life impact to make any one of us homeless and hungry.

Which brings us to the story of Arnold Abbott and his mission in life and to honor his wife, of feeding the homeless and hungry of Fort Lauderdale.

He also works with and teaches the homeless and tries to help find them work.

Much to the great chagrin of city leaders and some businesses, this stubborn World War II Veteran is not going to back down.

As he said today, ” I have fought in the wars, and I know how to do this, I will not stop…..as long as there is breath in my body”

Arnold and his helpers, have been arrested, cited and fined for  “illegal actions on behalf of the hungry in Fort Lauderdale.

The Mayor of the city, Jack Seler, is in a tough place.

He must uphold the laws, to avoid an outbreak of charity feedings citywide, but he also does not like all of the really negative publicity the city is getting.

Being the focus of this heavy heat and intense scrutiny is not new for Arnold, who has fought against the city for more than twenty years to do what he considers God’s work.

Can anyone of us know with any real certainty, that there but for the Grace of God go we?

We must ask ourselves: Is Helping The Hungry And Homeless A Crime?

 

Places to learn more:

Arnold’s Group: Love thy neighbor

‘Chef Arnold,’ 90, Cited Again For Feeding Homeless In Florida

90-Year-Old Arrested For Feeding Homeless Will Continue ‘As Long As There Is Breath In My Body’

Florida Finds Tricky Balance Over Feeding of the Homeless

Arresting Arnold Abbott unconstitutional. He’s won in court 3 times, won 2 appeals.

Arnold Abbott keeps feeding the homeless: Charity or crime?

Arnold Abbott Re-Arrested 

Russell Brand: $4 Billion Spent on Elections, But Feeding the Homeless is Illegal

National Coalition for the Homeless

 

 

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Morgan Freeman, a Man For All Reasons and Seasons

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Morgan Freeman as God in Bruce Almighty
Picture credit: Still looking~

 

Seeing a story on the Weather Channel this morning about Morgan Freeman, was both a surprise, as well as a delightful joy.

It appeared to be mostly about his wide range of Humanitarian activism, but was also about the release of his newest film.

Dolphin Tale 2 is being released this week and Morgan is from the original cast and of course, returns as the kindly genius who created Winter’s artificial tail.

You see, Morgan Freeman is someone that I have deeply admired for many years and learning about all of his other passions today, only deepened that admiration.

It does not hurt that his calming, deep resonating voice is as smooth as melted butter.

Morgan who is 77 and lives primarily in Mississippi, does so much for many, it is hard to keep up.

I was not aware of some of his other environmental activities until seeing the story this morning on AMHQ.

Am I surprised?

No.

This quiet man of deep convictions, just goes about doing his job, giving unforgettable performances that will live in our memory banks forever:  Shawshank Redemption, Invictus,  Million Dollar Baby and  Seven.

Oh, this could go on forever….

Shawshank by the way, is still number one  on the IMDB all time favorite film list.

My favorite of his countless great roles, you may be shocked to learn, is when he has played God.

I would like to believe that God would be similar to the character that Freeman has portrayed of him and that he also has a wicked, or wry, sense of Humor.

It comes as little surprise, that just being an actor, is not quite enough to quench Freeman’s seemingly insatiable thirst for giving back.

To call him a world-class Humanitarian is a clear understatement of the man and his many missions.

Morgan’s opinion on Black History Month and Racism is commendable and well-known.

Freeman co-owns a Blues Club and as of this moment, is involved in all of these Organizations:

One Earth, Global Warming, The Grenada Relief Fund, Autism Speaks, Rebuilding Together and Oceana.

This multifaceted man who has meant so much, to so many, has achieved well deserved respect and admiration, that has grown exponentially over the years.

Morgan Freeman truly is a man for all reasons and seasons.

 

Places to learn more:

Morgan Freeman Bio – Wikipedia

Morgan Freeman’s Top 10 films

Morgan Freeman narrates new LGBT equality advertisement

Morgan Freeman on Ending Racism: ‘Stop Talking About It’

Morgan Freeman Global Warming PSA

Morgan Freeman fund for scholarships turns 15

Morgan Freeman proves he’s real-life action hero by landing malfunctioning plane 4 times

Morgan Freeman To Receive AFI Life Achievement Award

Morgan Freeman to Receive an Honorary Degree from Boston University

Rebuilding Together PSA featuring Morgan Freeman

 

 

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No Limits!

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Doctor Sharadkumar Dixit
Picture credit:  Kindly allowed by Som

 

There have been few stories or postings or persons,  that I have written about in my life, that brought me to tears as I wrote them, this one did!

As some/many of you may already know,  my son is a paraplegic, so the life and struggles of this brave, stubborn, willful man, struck close to my heart.

One thing that they both have/had in common is/was that they refused to let life in a wheelchair hold them back, or limit the fullest potential of their lives.

They both did precisely what they were driven to do.

What this Plastic Surgeon, this Doctor to the most poor of India and even the world,  chose to do with his life after a horrific car accident left him paralyzed, a heart that was less than 20% functional, barely surviving cancer of the larynx, that left him unable to speak and the continuing threat of an imminent cerebral hemorrhage, in my humble opinion, suggests nothing less than the mark of a Saint.

Doctor Sharadkumar Dixit, or Dicksheet, was nominated eight times for the Nobel Peace Prize, but never won.

However, along his lifelong Humanitarian Journey,  he did collect a massive, most impressive list of other awards and accolades for his unselfish devotion to those with nothing to offer him, but their deepest gratitude.

The Doctor returned to India every year for six months,  to hold free plastic surgery camps, for those with cleft lips, or cleft palates in dire need of repairing, to throngs of hopeful waiting crowds that would impress even a Rock Star.

In over forty years, this amazing Doctor performed more than 300,000 surgeries from the confines of his wheelchair and was called, ” the fastest plastic surgeon in the world.”

He lived quite meagerly in a tiny Brooklyn apartment and survived mostly on social security.

Doctor Dixit was born Dec 13, 1930 in Chandarpur, Maharashra, India and died in Flushing, New York, November 14, 2011.

As to be expected, this diligent, devoted Man of Medicine, was considered a God in India, to those whose lives he changed forever.

He gave them back their smiles.

As you can see, this remarkable man’s life knew NO LIMITS!

 

Places to learn more:

A video tribute to Dr. Dixit

When the Scalpel calls

Magical Fingers at work for the disabled

A cut above the rest

Farewell to a hero – Dr. Sharadkumar Dicksheet

Doctor who was Saint of Smiles

Plastic surgeon, Nobel Prize nominee Sharadkumar Dicksheet, MD, dies at 80

 

 

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Branson’s Bunch~

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Sir Richard Branson at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development June,  2012
Picture credit:  UNclimatechange

 

When going through my mail this morning,  a surprising story presented itself.

The unexpected subject of this great news, is not one who normally comes to mind when thinking of Endangered Wildlife, but there he was,  right there in my mailbox, Billionaire Richard Branson.

The story was concerning a new edition to an already growing group at his Necker Island  home in the Caribbean.

I was not aware that Branson had been rescuing Endangered Wildlife for years and in co-operation with several Wildlife Groups,  was using his vast wealth for such a good purpose.

Branson’s involvements in Humanitarian and  Environmental Issues are the only things that will be addressed here,  as it would take an eternity to describe the total sum of the man’s often outrageous,  or occasionally notorious life.

It is not often that I find that a Billionaire and I have much in common, but in Branson’s case this is not entirely true.

His lifelong admiration for Nelson Mandela’s Humanitarian efforts and causes and his passion for protecting the Environment, including Endangered Animals, are two areas where we are in complete agreement.

Branson’s  Island home in the Caribbean has been a source of much criticism, as many believe that he only lives there to avoid taxes on his vast wealth, but for whatever reason, he has managed to make this place a refuge for wildlife and it is for this reason that I admire him and am writing about him today.

My huge respect for Branson as a Humanitarian,  is only superseded by my admiration of his sincere efforts to care for Endangered Animals on his little island in paradise.

As he continues to add to his animal family, Branson has wisely teamed up with the Turtle Conservancy

The most recent guests to be welcomed at his Island retreat are several Endangered Tortoises.

Prior to them,  have been a wide assortment of mammals, birds, reptiles  and other,  amounting to a total of 140 species.

As one of the wealthiest men in the world, Branson does not need to do any of  this.

He could continue to carry on every single day of his life as the famous,  carefree playboy of the world, as many already believe that he is.

But for me at least, this particular side of such a multifaceted man shows that he is a complicated,  many layered person who has earned my respect, at least for this.

One amusing mention in the story,  is about a web site that Branson has had set up,  with a new family member or addition to be  “shown each week.”

Regardless of the flamboyant outer shell this powerful, passionate man consistently shows to most of the world, in my opinion, there is more importantly,  another softer, kinder side, and it is for this that I will always thank him.

Thank you Richard, for what you are trying to do with the Endangered Animals on your island,  or Branson’s Bunch.

 

Places to learn more:

Richard Branson adds endangered tortoises to Necker Island

Necker – more species than any other island on earth

New tortoises on Necker Island

The Turtle Conservancy

 

 

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