Radioactive: Dogs, Cats and Wildlife

by Linda DeStefano
Translated by Rob English

When nuclear disasters occur, not only people but also nearby animals are contaminated with radioactivity. This has been observed in Chernobyl and in Fukushima. In 1986 the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine (then part of the Soviet Union) exploded, contaminating a vast area with radioactivity. Emergency responders died. About 50,000 people evacuated, and most never returned home because the contamination is long-lasting. What of the animals who could not evacuate? Some of the abandoned dogs and cats survived and reproduced. Their descendants are helped today by Clean Futures Fund. The Fund provides veterinary care to these animals and adopts out the dogs, removing radioactive particles from their fur and from inside their bodies. Luckily, most of the dogs live in parts of the zone that are less contaminated – unlike the wild animals that populate the area – perhaps because dogs stay near humans who feed them. Also unlike the wild animals, the dogs do not exhibit any obvious abnormalities. Among the negative impacts for Chernobyl wildlife are tumors, infertility, smaller brains and dwindling populations. Whereas migratory wild animals may spread genetic damage to unaffected populations through breeding, the dogs are evaluated for DNA damage, and are spayed or neutered before being transported to their new homes.

But what about the plants and the wild animals? Organic matter in forests around Chernobyl are taking years or even decades longer than normal to decay. There are reduced population sizes and genetic abnormalities among birds, bees, butterflies, grasshoppers, dragonflies, spiders, and mammals in highly radioactive parts of the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. Birds are showing an increase in sterility, albinism and cataracts, with abnormal sperm in barn swallows up to 10 times higher for Chernobyl birds as compared to sperm from males living in control areas.

Another nuclear disaster occurred in Fukushima, Japan in March, 2011. After an earthquake and tsunami, the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plants had meltdowns and explosions, contaminating a wide area of land and the Pacific Ocean. About 47,000 people evacuated initially and more later. At least one kind man chose to stay behind to care for the abandoned farm animals. In studying the effects of the contamination, Dr. Timothy Mousseau and his team found that animals and microbes living in contaminated areas are failing to thrive.

Upstate nuclear power plants with the same design as those that failed in Japan could also have meltdowns and explosions because a severe ice storm could make the backup generators useless. Even without a disaster, the nuclear facilities have regular releases of radioactivity and create toxic waste that will last hundreds of thousands of years. And the water they take from Lake Ontario goes through grilles which kill fish. The hot water which is returned to the Lake is also a problem for the animals living in the water.

It is important to quickly move from these dangerous, expensive nuclear facilities in our backyard to energy conservation, energy efficiency and renewable energy (solar, wind, geothermal). Gov. Cuomo is keeping the Fitzpatrick nuclear facility in Oswego open by forcing all ratepayers to subsidize it. That money could instead be used for moving more quickly toward clean energy, which would create more jobs.

Information about transition to a green economy can be found at Allianceforagreeneconomy.org

Linda DeStefano is President of People for Animal Rights. For more information about animal rights or to connect with Linda, contact People for Animal Rights, P.O. Box 15358, Syracuse, NY 13215-0358, (315) 488-PURR (7877) between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m., people4animalrightscny@gmail.com or peopleforanimalrightsofcny.org

How Wildlife Prepares for Winter in CNY

How Wildlife Prepares for Winter in CNY
by Collette Charbonneau
Provided by Linda DeStefano
Translated into Spanish by Rob English

As the summer glow fades until next year, the warm colors of fall begin to appear. Soon, blankets of snow will cover the ground, the trees, and also our cars. As you shuffle from one building to the next, from one heated room to another, do you ever stop to wonder what is happening outside your window?

While you may not hear as many birds at 5am this time of year, those who have chosen to stick around and brave the temperature drop are still out there, hunkering down at night and waking up to a chilly, snowy froth above their heads each morning. They worked hard in the spring to build their nests and raise a new generation. But, most abandon their nests by fall, preferring to create a new nest the following Spring. They must now find ways to survive the winter and often have to get creative with finding an unoccupied bed for the night.

Cardinals are one common winter bird here in Central New York. The male’s bright red color is a welcome sight against the snowy backdrop. Like most birds, they do not sleep in nests during winter months. Walk outside, early in the morning, on a winter’s day and you might find a cardinal sitting deep in an evergreen tree. (These are the trees that keep their green needles all year long). This is the preferred winter home for cardinals.

Leave out your birdfeeder in the winter, well-stocked with sunflower seeds or a mix of seeds from a bag of local songbird food, and you just might see a cardinal, blue jay, or other winter resident in your yard. It is harder for them to find food in the winter so leaving food out for them all year is a good idea. Note: do not do this if you live in an area where black bears have been spotted. This will encourage them to leave their dens early (they can smell the food), which makes it nearly impossible for them to resume their deep sleep until Spring.

So what are those nests we see high in the treetops in the middle of winter? Let me give you a hint… think of the most common mammal seen in rural, suburb, and city neighborhoods.

Squirrels are the opposite of birds. They prefer to sleep in nests in the winter so they can get some relief against the cold, windy nights. They do not use these nests in the spring or summer. In early Spring, squirrel nests are sometimes destroyed by their creators or birds will swoop in and take what they need to make their nests.

Other mammals, including deer, mice, chipmunks, foxes, skunks, and opossums also need to find shelter (dens and burrows provide protection from wind, snow, and ice) and food in the winter. Giving them your patience, and plenty of space, will help ensure they get what they need too. Planting native bushes, shrubs, and nut-producing trees (oak, walnut, hickory, beech) can provide food for these animals too.

While taking steps to help wildlife in the winter shouldn’t turn into a feeding frenzy in your yard, if you are concerned, talk to your local town board or community association about creating a community garden/wildlife-friendly zone where the animals can safely gather foods and find shelter. I encourage you to look out your window, or step out onto the sidewalk one winter’s day, and look at all the wildlife around you. Winter is a time of rest, survival, quiet beauty, and perseverance that will be colorfully rewarded within just a few months.

Collette is on the board of People for Animal Rights (PAR). You can contact PAR at P.O. Box 15358, Syracuse, NY 13215-0358, (315)488-PURR (7877) between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m.,
people4animalrightscny@gmail.com and peopleforanimalrightsofcny.org

EATING YOU ALIVE

Film reviewed by Linda DeStefano
Translated into Spanish by Rob English

Syracuse Vegans Meetup Group organized a showing of EATING YOU ALIVE so I went to see what it was about. This excellent film held my attention because it included many personal stories. Several people told how they or a loved one was very ill with a chronic disease – some even to the point of being told they would die soon. Most received no useful advice from their physicians so had to discover on their own that a plant-based, whole foods diet could literally save them. This film was very upbeat because it had so many happy endings. For example, his doctor told an elderly man he would die in a month or so from cancer and that the doctor could do anything for him. After a year on a plant-based, whole foods diet, the man recovered and walked into the office of the astonished doctor.

Besides these recovery stories, several physicians, vegan chefs, a pharmacist, an actor and others were interviewed. They spoke about the lack of nutrition education in medical school, the seductive power of food ads, the scarcity of preventive medicine in the U.S. and the restorative power of healthy food. Chefs provided a few recipes.

A very brief segment showed the horrific abuse of animals raised for food. Another brief segment told of the environmental damage caused by animal agriculture, such as the methane emissions from cows.

For more information, read HOW NOT TO DIE by Michael Greger, M.D. It also is helpful to try out a new way of eating (or stick with it once you’ve tried it) by eating with others.

Consider joining Syracuse Vegans Meetup Group. Contact Marybeth Fishman, mfishman4282@gmail.com or call (315) 729-7338. You can find the group on Facebook, Instagram, and on the Meetup.com website.

Also contact Linda DeStefano at People for Animal Rights, P.O.Box 15358, Syracuse 13215-0358, (315) 488-PURR (7877) between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. or people4animalrightscny@gmail.com or see our website at peopleforanimalrightgsofcny.org Ask for a sample of our newsletter, our membership brochure, and/or recipes. I also can make a copy for you of the 16 page report from Kaiser-Permanente (a large Health Maintenance Organization) called “The Plant-based Diet: A Healthier Way to Eat.” The HMO can save money by preventing health problems in their patients so this tells me that they think a plant-based diet really is good preventative medicine.

Genius Olympiad at SUNY Oswego

by Miguel Balbuena

On June 13 I served as a judge at the Genius Olympiad, held at the State University of New York at Oswego. The Genius Olympiad is an annual competition that this year drew more than a thousand participants, from over 70 countries belonging to six continents, most of whom presented projects in six broad categories: business, robotics, science, visual art, music and creative writing.

In order to pinpoint their application area to this olympiad, students submitting proposals had to be aware that some of these categories had subdivisions. For instance, the category business was broken down into entrepreneurship, and social responsibility; the category science into environmental quality, ecology and biodiversity, resources and energy, human ecology, and innovation; the category visual art into photography, short film, poster design, and satirical illustration, and; the category music into solo performance, group performance, and singer, and; the category creative writing into short story, essay and poetry.

Due to my strong background as a Renaissance man, i.e., a polymath or omnivore, I met the eligibility criteria to be a judge in any of the fields stated above, except robotics, about which I don’t know anything about. I chose to evaluate short film because it was the field that first stuck out when I read the judging application. I thought it would be fun to see how current students managed to express their ideas in the video format.

The contest rules said that these intellectual games were “open to all international and U.S. students studying in grades eight through twelve (or the equivalent),” from 12 year-olds on up. In addition, these rules required an adult supervisor per underage student. Finally, they allowed students to bring other guests.

Before attending this program, I had never been to SUNY Oswego. I have three friends who graduated from this institution of higher learning but they never went into great detail about their lives while studying there. One of them, my former housemate Joe Niles, confided to me that he felt isolated there. That was the extent of my prior knowledge about SUNY Oswego. Somehow, a notion had crept into my brain. It was that this university was a small one at a windswept location on Lake Ontario southern shore. But, on the aforementioned pivotal June date, as soon as I set foot on its campus, I was hit in the face by reality. Although I was right in that it was lakeside, it turned out that was situated on a sprawling
690-acre campus.

The Olympic Games took place in the Marano Campus Center, the school’s version of a student union facility. This center is the largest of the 46 buildings on campus. By itself, this particular building was bigger in square footage than whole colleges such as Crouse Hospital School in Syracuse, for example.

The judging sessions ran from nine thirty in the morning to three thirty in the afternoon with only an hour intermission to get past large long lines of people hungry for lunch, at the Cooper Dining Hall. Thus, time was at a premium, which meant that I wasn’t able to visit buildings other the Marano Center and Cooper Hall. Besides, it began raining hard. Both the center and hall impressed me as having being constructed having practicality in mind rather than aesthetics.

Upon arrival to my final destination, I found sheer pandemonium at the Marano Center. It was swirling with students, chaperones, guests, judges, administrative staff and visitors from the general public, to the point that it was even hard to walk down the hallways. Fortunately, I made it in one piece to the sport arena within the center, where I had to check in and pick up the judging forms and guidelines as well as my credential as a judge, which will allow me to get ahead of the line for the complimentary lunch in view that I had to rush back to participate in the afternoon film screening session. But there was a mix-up. The staff member in charge had given me the science forms instead of the short film ones. Finally, I was told by this staff person to go to an auditorium upstairs to retrieve the correct forms.

It was certainly a high honor for me to have been able to watch and assess films from countries as diverse as Albania, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan and Vietnam. But, at the same time, it was a hectic experience as the roughly 50 videos of eight-minute length apiece run at a breakneck pace with just a few seconds of break between them.

About the author: Miguel Balbuena is a writer in the academic, scientific, journalistic and literary fields (in the fiction and non-fiction genres).

THE CROWS

A short essay by Richard Weiskopf
Compiled by Linda DeStefano
Translated into Spanish by Rob English

The crows flew over – pair mating, no doubt. Caw Caw! The sound pierce my ears. It was as if they carried a black shroud and were the messengers of death.

One on the very top of a tree surveys the surroundings and controls the entire area, even the human who works powerless underneath. Inside that black shroud he carries the memories of centuries. The Caw Caw warns the others when humans are approaching and where they are going. His searching eye follows their every move; then he glides effortlessly through the air, his fimbriated wings still and hardly moving. Sometimes they fly in groups, and you’d think it was a city of ants flying. Then there is a romance of two flying like planes in a dog fight, rough and tumble, one over the other, sometimes a piece of branch or string in their beak. They raise their young to grow into the black shroud like the parents.

Even in death – and I saw a dead one in the cemetery where I was walking – they retain their grace and majesty. Black, sleek, silken feathers, a satin gown surrounding them. The crow makes me feel like a part of the earth, not as if I own the earth.

Richard is a semi-retired physician living in Syracuse. He enjoys journal writing and writes essays, poems and letters to the newspaper. This short essay is used with his permission.

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People for Animal Rights encourages appreciation of wild animals and the Earth and the attitude of being part of nature rather than separate from it. We work against exploitation of all animals and strive to protect the Earth, which sustains us all. If you want our general brochure and a sample of our newsletter, contact us at PAR, P.O. Box 15358, Syracuse, NY 13215-0358 or call us at (315) 488-PURR (7877) between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. or people4animalrightscny@gmail.com. Our website is peopleforanimalrightsofcny.org.

Focus on Fruits and Vegetables

Focus on Fruits and Vegetables – Look what $10 will buy!
by SNAP-ED

Vegetables and fruits can fit into any budget! For $10 you can buy 18 portions of vegetables and fruits; like, 1 cup tomato, 3 cups of green beans, 3 cups of corn, 4 cups of peas, 1 cup of pears and 6 cups of peaches. That’s almost 4 days’ worth of veggies and fruits for one person! Buy fruits and veggies in all their forms – fresh, frozen and canned.

Celebrate the season! Purchase fresh vegetables and fruits when they are in season. Fresh produce is packed with flavor and is often less expensive. Visit your local Farmer’s market for produce in season from June- October.

Buy frozen and canned year-round. It’s usually picked and packed at its’ peak when its chock full of nutrients. Look for canned or frozen veggies that have not been pre-sauced and say “no salt added”, “low sodium” or “reduced sodium” on the label. Look for fruits canned in juice or light syrup.

Save time in the kitchen with washed and bagged produce picks. Compare prices for best value. Pre-cut, pre-washed produce may cost more for the convenience than when sold in whole form.

Make a list BEFORE you shop! Check the local newspaper, online, and the store ads before you shop. You will save money by buying only what you need leaving more of your food budget for delicious wholesome produce loaded with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fiber.

Plant you own veggie garden! Try a small plot in the yard or in a large pot. Try easy-to-grow herbs, cucumbers, peppers or grape tomatoes are great for beginner gardeners. Gardening helps us be more physically active and makes us feel good too as we watch our veggies grow! For Gardening tips, browse through a local library or check online gardening tips at http://gardening.cce.cornell.edu/.

Lastly, plan and cook smart. Prepare and freeze vegetables soups, stews or other dishes in advance. Add leftover veggies to casseroles or blend them to make soup. Overripe fruit is great for smoothies or baking. There are plenty of ways to enjoy veggies and fruits, for more ideas visit www.myplate.org.

Check our website for recipes, tips and locations of Famer’s Markets that accept EBT near you at www.eatsmart.org.

Serving eight counties in the Southern Tier Region- Onondaga, Broome, Chenango, Cortland, Delaware, Madison, Otsego and Tioga.

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The Minimalist Vegan

The Minimalist Vegan: A Simple Manifesto on Why to Live with Less Stuff and More Compassion
by Michael and Masa Ofei, Dec. 2017, Minimalist Company Pty, Limited, 145 pages.
Book reviewed by Linda DeStefano
Translated by Rob English

This married couple from Canberra, Australia urges readers to cure themselves of the “More Virus”. This virus infects individuals and society into thinking that happiness comes from consuming more and more. Besides deadening the human spirit, this virus is killing the planet. Limited natural resources are wasted to produce items
which are unnecessary or quickly discarded. For example, plastic. Plastic is made from a diminishing natural resource (fossil fuels) and has formed a huge garbage patch in the Pacific Ocean. Animals who live in or near the sea are ingesting and dying from pieces of plastic. Michael and Masa suggest avoiding plastic items which tend to be used only once, such as, plastic bags or straws.

People work many hours so they can buy more when instead they could find happiness in spending more time with people they love and pursuing activities they find fulfilling and relaxing. Although the authors don’t speak about this, I’ll add that some people don’t have the choice but to work many hours in order to support themselves and their
families. This is an injustice and indicates the vast imbalance in wealth in the US.

The authors urge us to de-clutter rather than be slaves to our possessions, which can steal too much time and mental energy to organize and maintain. They advise also to spend less time on digital devices, which causes mental clutter, information overload, distraction and over stimulation.

Are we slaves to the latest fashions? Do we buy cheap, fashionable garments and use them for only a short time? Even if we give them away rather than trash them, natural resources and energy (probably derived from polluting sources) were used to produce them. (I’ll note that cheap clothes also involve poor labor conditions). Better to
enjoy high quality clothes that look good on us and can be kept for a long time. Over 13 million tons of textiles are trashed every year in the U.S. alone and only 15% of this is recovered for recycling.

The Ofeis find that veganism melds well with their minimalist philosophy as eating fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, seeds, nuts and the many tasty dishes made from them is gentler on the Earth than raising animals for food. And it makes them happy to avoid taking part in the suffering and death of animals raised for food.

You can try vegan food by coming to a vegan social of People for Animal Rights and/or Syracuse Vegans Meetup Group. You don’t have to be vegan to attend these events but all food at the events is vegan. Contact me at People for Animal Rights, P.O. Box 15358, Syracuse, NY 13215-0358, (315) 488-PURR (7877) between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m., peope4animalrightscny@gmail.com. I can also provide some hints for less wasteful living. You can contact Syracuse Vegans Meetup Group through Marybeth Fishman at mfishman4282@gmail.com or by calling her at (315)729-7338.