Learning from Dogs

Dogs are integrous animals. We have much to learn from them.

Posts Tagged ‘South Africa

More on those poor rhinos

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Awareness is the only way to go.

Two days ago, I published a post under the title of Reflections on pain and peace. The pain aspect was as a result of a shocking photograph of a rhino that had been slaughtered for its horn.

Subsequent to that piece coming out there has been more information that I wanted to cover.

I had an email from Avaaz that needed circulating:

Thanks for joining the campaign to protect the world’s rhinos. To win this campaign, we urgently need to build a massive outcry — every voice who joins us makes a difference!

Help spread the word by sending the email below to friends and family, and post this link on your Facebook wall.

http://www.avaaz.org/en/save_rhinos/?tta

Thanks again for your help,

The Avaaz team

——–

Dear friends,

The rhino is being hunted into extinction and could disappear forever unless we act now. Shocking new statistics show 440 rhinos were brutally killed last year in South Africa alone — a massive increase on five years ago when just 13 had their horns hacked off. European nations could lead the world to a new plan to save these amazing creatures but they need to hear from us first!

Fueling this devastation is a huge spike in demand for rhino horns, used for bogus cancer cures, hangover remedies and good luck charms in China and Vietnam. Protests from South Africa have so far been ignored by the authorities, but Europe has the power to change this by calling for a ban on all rhino trade — from anywhere, to anywhere — when countries meet at the next crucial international wildlife trade summit in July.

The situation is so dire that the threat has even spread into British zoos who are on red-alert for rhino killing gangs! Let’s raise a giant outcry and urge Europe to push for new protections to save rhinos from extinction. When we reach 100,000 signers, our call will be delivered in Brussels, the decision-making heart of Europe, with a crash of cardboard rhinos. Every 50,000 signatures will add a rhino to the crash — bringing the size of our movement right to the door of EU delegates as they decide their position. Sign the petition below then forward this email widely:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/save_rhinos/?tta

So far this year one rhino has been killed every day in South Africa, home to at least 80% of the world’s remaining wild rhinos. Horns now have a street value of over $65,000 a kilo — more expensive than gold or platinum. The South African Environment Minister has pledged to take action by putting 150 extra wardens and even an electric fence along the Mozambique border to try and stem the attacks — but the scale of the threat is so severe that global action is required.

Unless we act today we may lose this magnificent and ancient animal species permanently. Some Chinese are loudly lobbying for the trade in horn to be relaxed, but banning the trade in all rhinos will silence them. With the EU’s leadership, we can bring these international gangsters to justice, put the poachers in prison, and push for public awareness programmes in key Asian countries — and end this horn horror show for good.

In the next few weeks, the EU will be setting its agenda for the next big global meeting in just a few months — our best chance of turning the tide against the slaughter. We know that rhinos will be on their agenda, but only our pressure can ensure they challenge the problem at its source. Let’s build a giant outcry and deliver it in a spectacular fashion — sign now and together we can stop the slaughter across Africa:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/save_rhinos/?tta

In 2010, Avaaz’s actions helped to stop the elephant ivory trade from exploding. In 2012, we can do the same for the rhino. When we speak out together, we can change the world — last year was the worst year ever for the rhino, but this can be the year when we win.

With hope,

Iain, Sam, Maria Paz, Emma, Ricken and the whole Avaaz team

More Information:

Few Rhinos Survive Outside Protected Areas (WWF)
ttp://www.worldwildlife.org/species/finder/rhinoceros/rhinos.html

South Africa record for rhino poaching deaths (BBC)
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-15571678

‘Cure for cancer’ rumour killed off Vietnam’s rhinos (The Guardian)
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/nov/25/cure-cancer-rhino-horn-vietnam

British Zoos on Alert as Rhino Poaching Hits the UK (International Business Times)
http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/articles/289792/20120130/british-zoos-uk-alert-rhino-poaching-hits.htm

—————–

Then as a reminder that sitting on our hands and doing nothing must be resisted, Chris sent me this link to a recent item in the British Telegraph newspaper, from which I include these portions:

Last rhinos in Mozambique killed by poachers

The last known rhinoceroses in Mozambique have been wiped out by poachers apparently working in cahoots with the game rangers responsible for protecting them, it has emerged

7:46PM BST 30 Apr 2013

The 15 threatened animals were shot dead for their horns last month in the Mozambican part of Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park, which also covers South Africa and Zimbabwe.

They were thought to be the last of an estimated 300 that roamed through the special conservation area when it was established as “the world’s greatest animal kingdom” in a treaty signed by the three countries’ then presidents in 2002.

Aislinn Laing finishes off her report, by writing:

Dr Jo Shaw, from the World Wide Fund for Nature, said the rhinoceroses had probably crossed into Mozambique from Kruger.

Whereas killing a rhino in South Africa can attract stricter punishments than killing a person, in Mozambique offenders generally escape with a fine if they are prosecuted at all.

“Rhinos being killed in Kruger are mostly by Mozambican poachers who then move the horns out through their airports and seaports,” she said. “With huge governance and corruption issues in Mozambique, it’s a huge challenge.”

Boy, do we have so much to learn from dogs!

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If only we had an alpha dog!

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Yearnings for a new start!

You may wonder about the title of this post?  Stay with me for a moment.

As has been written before on Learning from Dogs, when dogs were living in the wild just three animals had pack roles.  The leader of the pack, always a female animal, was the alpha dog. Second in command was the beta dog, always a dominant male, and the third role was the omega or clown dog.  The wild dog pack was thought to have consisted, typically, of about 50 animals.

Pharaoh

The wisdom of thousands of years showing clearly in Pharaoh’s eyes, our very own beta dog.

As leader of her pack an alpha dog had two primary functions .  One was having first choice as to the male dog she was going to mate with – thus demonstrating how women always choose! ;-)

Her second important duty was deciding that her pack’s home range was insufficient for the needs of her ‘family’.  As wolves still do, wild dogs lived within small, well-defined territories when food was abundant.  When food became less abundant then it was time to move to more fertile grounds.  As an aside, research in South Africa as to the area requirements for a small pack of African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus) shows they require from 65 square kilometers (25 square miles) to 150 sq. km. (58 sq. mi.). (See footnote.)

Dogs, like all wild animals, instinctively live in harmony with nature.  So the call from the alpha dog to find a new range didn’t mean they left their old one as a barren disaster area.  You can see where this is heading!

Wild dogs were in contact with early man at least 50,000 years ago. (Just reflect for a moment on the length of that relationship between man and dog.) So each specie has had plenty of time to learn from the other.

Thus, as mankind is on the verge of discovering that our existing ‘territory’ is becoming unsustainable for the healthy life of the species,  one fundamental learning point from dogs appears to have escaped us: Mankind doesn’t have a new range available to our species.

This preamble came to mind when I recently read a short but powerful essay on Alex Jones’ blog The Liberated Way.  The essay was called A global leaky bucket.  Alex has very kindly given me permission to republish it.

A global leaky bucket

Global weather extremes will force people to hard choices.

Nature will have the last word in the debate over sustainability.

Nature will have the last word in the debate over sustainability.

I write this in despair, it is snowing again here in Colchester UK.  I admit envy for those of you who live in California or Hong Kong area, I see your photographs where the seasons always seem to be warm and sunny.  The northern Jet Stream refuses to move, Greenland enjoys growing strawberries as the lambs die in the fields of Britain from the winter that refuses to let go.

The extremes of weather are noted in the South of the world as well as the North.  Argentina has had the worst floods in decades last week.  The cause is that the systems such as the Jet Stream are paralysed in one place, thus everyone suffers flood, drought or winter in excess.  Nobody is sure why this paralysis is going on with systems like the Jet Stream, some say it is climate change, the point is that we are experiencing this, and it appears to be more than a temporary issue.

My opinion is that these weather extremes are here to stay for the long duration.  One is then left with a harsh reality of does one seek to control the weather or adapt to the weather? How does one control the weather, a chaotic energy system where even a small change can have great consequences? Perhaps adaptation is the better option, but does one know how huge those adaptations will have to be where drought and flood could be lasting decades?

Lets say food, water and energy are all contained in a bucket.  We take a jug and scoop out from the bucket what we need.  There is a tap that is constantly running filling the bucket with the food, water and energy.  We waste those resources so the bucket leaks.  We disrupt or destroy the renewal systems in the ecosystems so the tap is no longer running as fast as it should.  We are greedy consumers so we take more than we need from the bucket with our jug.  How will the bucket look now? Is this a sustainable future to you?

If our global weather extremes continue as they are it will be like a storm rocking the bucket spilling its contents, will our bucket future look even less sustainable? Extreme weather destroys harvests, kills animals, sends already distressed ecosystems into the abyss.  What happens when the bucket is so empty that people can no longer enjoy their lifestyle of wasteful excess, or worse that people grow cold, hungry and thirsty? Do they sit there and do nothing but die? Will they fight? Who will fight who? As the bucket contents get ever smaller, who will win in the fighting for what is left?

Copyright (c) Alex Jones 2011-2013.

Colchester has a place in my past as I started and ran a business there between the years of 1978 to 1986.  More about that some other day.

Back to Alex’s essay.  It strongly resonated with a recent item on Peter Sinclair’s excellent blog Climate Denial Crock of the Week which I will refer to tomorrow.

So I will leave you with this tragic, emotional thought – where, oh where, is our alpha dog?

Footnote:  The figures for the ranges of wild dogs were taken from a fascinating paper published by Lindsay, du Toit and Mills that may be read here.

Welcome Home

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Sharing the truth of who each of us really is!

I subscribe to Christine’s blog 350 or bust.  As the home page declares, Christine is “a mother, an educator, and a former registered nurse, concerned about climate change.”

Being a follower of Christine’s blog I automatically received an email on Tuesday about her latest post.  This is what that email said,

It’s TED Talk Tuesday on 350orbust. Here’s a fascinating TEDx talk by South African trainer and speaker Bruce Muzik whose “passion is having people experience unprecedented freedom and happiness, through being Authentic.

To be perfectly honest, it didn’t strike me as something that I would watch anytime soon.  However, fate decided to intervene!

Because yesterday, Wednesday, I went up to Portland for an interview today to convince the authorities that I was safe to have my US Residency renewed (aka Green Card).  So last Tuesday, when I was writing these words, I thought I would just grab something quickly for today’s post.  Christine’s TED talk seemed an easy answer.

I started to watch the video and within just a few minutes was overwhelmed with Bruce Muzik’s story.  At the 7 minute mark I paused the video and wrote these words.  The title of today’s post comes from the video just a moment after the 7 minute point.

While the video is about Bruce confronting his inner fears over his racial prejudices, and is no less moving for doing that, there was another message surfacing in parallel in my consciousness.

As I wrote not so long ago under the title of Going beyond the self, “the human psyche lives in a bubble of delusion.”  In the same way that Bruce had to cast aside his delusions and embrace the reality of black people, we have to cast aside our delusions about the way the world is heading.  Which is why Christine’s title How Our Secrets Steal Our Lives was just perfect.

So without further ado, here is that speech by Bruce Muzik. Twenty minutes of pure, gorgeous inspiration.

Want more? Bruce has a blog here.

Written by Paul Handover

March 14, 2013 at 00:00

The instinct of trust.

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Yet another learning message from our animal kingdom.

As I wrote in Monday’s post, this week I was going to “Enjoy the beauty of the world around me and offer a few essays on the meaning of life.

Hopefully the subsequent essays on Carl Sagan and how our beautiful planet can change our consciousness, under the title of To see is to understand, have partly achieved that aim.

We hear so much that is unsettling that it is easy to lose sight of the core qualities of a sustainable society.  And one of the most fundamental requirements is that of trust.

A loving dog owner will most likely take their dog’s trust for granted.

However, think of the incredible differences, at so many levels, between man and dog.  Then reflect on how a dog learns to trust a human.

P1120189

This picture is of Dhalia taken less than a couple of months ago.  She was found by Jean in 2005 running wild in the Mexican desert with a companion dog.  As Jean explains,

With friend, Suzann, I was driving out to a fishing village to medicate and feed the many starving dogs.  The two dogs were in a very desolate part of the desert prowling the roadside for road-kill. We stopped to feed them and give them water.  One of the dogs ran off but as I put down food, I saw the smaller brown dog walking slowly towards me.

She was emaciated and full of mange. She looked up at me, ignoring the food.  I reached out with my hand and she gently nudged it with her nose.

The food was irrelevant to her at this moment. She just seemed to know that I was there to help. I scooped her up and took her home, curled up in my arms as we drove away.

No better example of a dog instinctively trusting a human, almost immediately.

OK, from dogs to elephants.

I recently became aware of Lawrence Anthony.  Here’s a brief extract from WikiPedia:

Lawrence Anthony (17 September 1950 – 7 March 2012) was an international conservationist, environmentalist, explorer, and bestselling author.

He was the long-standing head of conservation at the Thula Thula game reserve in Zululand, South Africa and the Founder of The Earth Organization, a privately registered, independent, international conservation and environmental group with a strong scientific orientation. He was an international member of the esteemed Explorers Club of New York and a member of the National Council of the Southern Africa Association for the Advancement of Science, South Africa’s oldest scientific association.

Anthony had a reputation for bold conservation initiatives, including the rescue of the Baghdad zoo at the height of the US lead Coalition 2003 invasion of Iraq, and negotiations with the infamous Lord’s Resistance rebel army in Southern Sudan, to raise awareness of the environment and protect endangered species, including the last of the Northern White Rhinoceros.

Lawrence Anthony died of a heart attack at the young age of 62.  In just a short time that will be a year ago.

In doing research for today’s post, I quickly came across this story.

elephant-Lawrence-Anthony

Lawrence Anthony, a legend in South Africa and author of 3 books including the bestseller The Elephant Whisperer, bravely rescued wildlife and rehabilitated elephants all over the globe from human atrocities, including the courageous rescue of Baghdad Zoo animals during the US invasion in 2003.

On March 7, 2012 Lawrence Anthony died. He is remembered and missed by his wife, 2 sons, 2 grandsons and numerous elephants.

Two days after his passing, a remarkable thing happened! The wild elephants showed up at his home led by two large matriarchs. Separate wild herds arrived in droves to say ”goodbye” to their beloved man-friend. A total of 20 elephants had patiently walked over 12 miles to get to his South African house. [my emphasis.]

Was this true?  A quick web search came across this video, (overlook the last few seconds!)

Françoise Malby-Anthony, wife of the late Lawrence Anthony, talks about the entire herd of elephants returning to the main house to pay their respects to their rescuer and friend ‘The Elephant Whisperer’.

lawrence-anthony-tribute

oooOOOooo

We humans have so much to learn from our animals.

Common sense!

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Some people seem to have a knack for saying it how it should be!

My sub-heading, above, applies to many people right across the world.  But the reason that this was triggered in my mind for today’s post, was a recent item on Christine’s excellent Blog, 350 or bust.  Read more about that Blog here.  I subscribe to that Blog.

A couple of days ago, there was an article with the title of Live Long And Prosper, Already.  It started thus,

Gene Roddenberry, the creator of the amazingly popular Star Trek series, was a man ahead of his time. Here is one of the things he  had to say about humanity and our problems (with one editorial comment from me!):

“I believe in humanity. We are an incredible species. We’re still just a child creature, and we’re still being nasty to each other [Stephen Harper: are you listening?].  And all children go through those phases. We’re moving into adolescence now. When we grow up, man, we’re going to be something!”

But what caught my eye were these comments to the Post.

The first one from a Mickey Haist that read,

It’s a nice goal, but would clenching our teeth and willing progress be of any effect? After all, children don’t spontaneously mature – they’re raised.

Have to say that I was left unsure by what Mr. Haist was trying to convey.  But not so Christine!  This was the first of her two replies,

No teeth clenching allowed! Robert Kennedy once said “Each time a person stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he or she sends forth a tiny ripple of hope. And crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”

It’s not about everyone doing everything, it’s about each of us doing what we can. Not taking action because the problem is too big is not the answer.

And her second reply,

And Mickey – if the challenge of climate change/ocean acidification/biodiversity loss that we are facing as a species (taking the rest of the natural world with us) doesn’t make us mature, then nothing will.  But I believe it will – as Paul Gilding says, humans are slow but not stupid!

Paul Gilding’s excellent website is always a great read, by the way.

But do reread those words of Robert Kennedy, they are powerfully inspiring.

Robert Kennedy

Each time a person stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he or she sends forth a tiny ripple of hope. And crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.

Despite the fact that these words were said in response when South Africans suffered the tyranny of apartheid, the words are, perhaps, even more relevant today.  Mankind has to combine the many ‘ripples of hope’ and build that current that will sweep away the crazy selfishness that is preventing us from living in harmony with this beautiful planet for hundreds of years ahead.

Thanks Christine.

Reaching out across nations.

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An unanticipated reward from Blogging.

When I started writing Learning from Dogs, way back on July 15th 2009, I didn’t have a clue as to the world I was entering, figuratively speaking.  But there have been many unanticipated rewards including the great pleasure of the way that this strange virtual world of the Internet brings people together.  One connection recently made was with a young Bangladeshi living in the city of Dhaka, more of his background here.

Nakib recently published a powerful and moving Post and has been gracious in allowing me to republish it, as follows:

The vulture that waited for the child to die

Given below is the 1994 Pulitzer price-winning photograph taken by Kevin Carter during the Sudan famine of 1994.

The photo shows a famine-stricken child crawling towards a United Nations food camp, which was located at least one kilometer away from the place shown. The vulture on the other hand is waiting eagerly for the child to die so that it can devour it.

I do not know what message the photograph revokes on your head but every time I look at it I feel blessed that I have been provided enough at least to satisfy my hungry stomach and keep me energetic enough to write blogs. I feel small and humble when I think of all the people suffering out there— homeless and starved— yet trying their best to make some sense of the complex notion known as life. It tells me that I have been blessed for a reason, for a purpose, and whatever I have been provided with should not go in vain. I can infer that my powers should be used well, at least for that little kid on the above photograph for whom Fate had sealed a quicksand of reality too hard to acknowledge for many of us hedonists out here.

Most importantly, to me the photograph conveys an emotion; a reality that many of us are too blind to grasp. I think of how people throughout the world are suffering to no ends yet amidst everything trying again and again to find the silver lining associated with the black cloud. I realize that there is a lot happening outside my comfortable apartment and Biology textbook that needs looking after, that there is a lot of people who strive hard yet achieve nothing in return. It amazes me when I try to ponder God’s sense of justice and egalitarianism.

So is it okay for the blessed 25% of the population in this world to waste everything that life has given them while the the rest 75% live amidst severe poverty, oppression and inequality?  Is it okay to go overboard with New Year parties while exactly at the same hour millions of people across the globe are suffering from the fangs of social deprivation? Is it okay to let things be as they are and forget about everything so as to harmoniously embrace useless ambitions and lustful desires?

Have we all truly forgotten to share our wealth and about the latent human being that exists inside everyone of us? Have we truly gottten rid of all those emotions that make us human beings? Is this what the world is for: for some to live lavishly while for the rest to suffer endlessly?

Three months after he took the photograph Kevin Carter, after suffering from several periods of depression, committed suicide.

Dated on the day the photo was taken, the following note was found from his diary:

Dear God, I promise I will never waste my food no matter how bad it can taste and how full I may be. I pray that He will protect this little boy, guide and deliver him away from his misery. I pray that we will be more sensitive towards the world around us and not be blinded by our own selfish nature and interests. I hope this picture will always serve as a reminder to us that how fortunate we are and that we must never ever take things for granted.

As for the child, no one really knows what happened to him; not even the South African photographer who had left the place immediately after the photo was taken. I try to appease myself by saying that the child never existed in the first place. God simply intended to provide us with a glimpse of the truth of life, to remind us how blessed we are. I hope this is true.

oooOOOooo

Very, very moving and beautifully expressed.

Make a difference – now!

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A plea to sign a global call not to delay action on global warming

How many of you in Europe watched the final episode of Sir Peter Attenborough’s Frozen Planet series, entitled On Thin Ice?

Did you watch the short video in last week’s post, The power of truth?  If not, it’s below.

Here’s a piece from a BBC news item from yesterday,

A hungry polar bear

It is an image that is sure to shock many people.

An adult polar bear is seen dragging the body of a cub that it has just killed across the Arctic sea ice.

Polar bears normally hunt seals but if these are not available, the big predators will seek out other sources of food – even their own kind.

The picture was taken by environmental photojournalist Jenny Ross in Olgastretet, a stretch of water in the Svalbard archipelago.

“This type of intraspecific predation has always occurred to some extent,” she told BBC News.

“However, there are increasing numbers of observations of it occurring, particularly on land where polar bears are trapped ashore, completely food-deprived for extended periods of time due to the loss of sea ice as a result of climate change.”

Re-read that last segment of that last sentence, “completely food-deprived for extended periods of time due to the loss of sea ice as a result of climate change.

So with all that in mind, please read on.

Friends,

What if someone told you we should abandon all hope for global climate action until 2020? Well, that’s exactly the proposal that the United States is pushing at the UN Climate Talks taking place this week in Durban, South Africa. The 2020 delay might well be the worst idea ever.

Waiting nine years for climate action isn’t just a delay, it’s a death sentence for communities on the front lines of the climate crisis — and it could slam the door on ever getting carbon pollution levels below the safe upper limit of 350 parts per million.

It’s not too late to stop this delay from going through. Over the next three days, our team of 350.org activists in Durban will be working with our partners at Avaaz and allies from around the world to isolate the United States — and build support for the African nations that are fighting for real climate action. But it will take a massive grassroots outcry to demonstrate that people everywhere are taking a stand to prevent the United States negotiators from signing away our future.

If we raise an international alarm before the talks end on Friday, we can convince the US to get out of way of progress and help unlock the global process that can lead to bold climate action all around the world.

Click here to add your voice to a global call to action we’re delivering in Durban: www.350.org/durban

The climate talks in South Africa end in just 48 hours, and it’s vital that we ramp up the pressure now. To make sure the US gets the message, our team on the ground here in Durban will deliver your messages directly to the US negotiating team at a high-impact event we’re helping to pull together on Friday. We can’t say much more about it now, but suffice to say our message will be unavoidable.

This year, the 350 network has shown that people power can truly move the planet in the right direction. We mobilized hundreds of thousands of people to push for climate action in nearly every country on earth. We beat back the Keystone XL pipeline when no one said it was possible. We took over the radio waves to spread a message of hope and action on the climate crisis. And through our actions, we helped keep the hope of saving our planet — and reaching 350 ppm — alive.

The UN Climate Talks here in Durban aren’t going to get us back to 350 by themselves, but they can keep the option open by making progress on a legally binding, international framework to help nations make serious cuts in carbon emissions. In 2012, we’re going to need to do all we can to challenge the fossil fuel companies that are the real obstacles to progress. Breaking their stranglehold on our governments is the only way to really unlock these negotiations.

But right now, the most important thing we can do is keep the possibility of a strong international climate deal alive by pushing back on the United States negotiating team. In recent months, President Obama has shown that he’ll stand up for the climate, but only if he’s got a movement to back him up. On the Keystone pipeline, he’s been doing the right thing by blocking Republican efforts to push it through — now we need him to do the right thing on the international stage.

There’s no guarantee that we’ll be successful, but we owe it to our allies across the planet — many of whom are already feeling the impacts of climate change — to resist the chorus of cynics and keep hope alive. As Nelson Mandela said, “It always seems impossible until it’s done.” The 350 network has pulled off the impossible before — now’s the time to step up the pressure again.

Please add your voice today: www.350.org/durban

Let’s do this,

Jamie Henn for the whole 350.org team

P.S. We have just 48 hours to build a huge groundswell of pressure. Please help make it go viral with a few clicks on Twitterand Facebook — tag your popular friends, and post it again and again.

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