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Ohio animal massacre a devastating waste of life

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A heartbreaking waste of life at both the human and animal levels took place in Zanesville, Ohio, last week. On Tuesday, Oct. 18, Terry W. Thompson, an exotic animal owner, unlocked the cage doors of more than 18 endangered Bengal tigers, 17 lions, eight bears and an assortment of wolves and monkeys. Then he committed suicide.

Deputies responding to a neighbor's phone call had no choice but to kill the aggressive, disoriented animals as they roamed the countryside in the rainy dusk near a major freeway interchange. Six members of the menagerie -- a grizzly bear, three leopards and two monkeys -- stayed in their cages. They were captured by Columbus, Ohio, zoo staff and taken to the facility for safe keeping. At this writing, one of the escaped monkeys remains at large.

"It's like Noah wrecking his ark right here in Zanesville," said Jack Hanna, director emeritus for the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, after surveying the scene.

Hanna told a Columbus Dispatch reporter that conditions at Thompson's 45-acre farm were "absolutely horrific and filthy." In 2005, Thompson was convicted of animal cruelty and two other related convictions.

Pope: International community should ensure food for all

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Renewed compassion and humanity towards one another as well as "the duty of solidarity and commitment to justice" must become the international community's goals to ensure that there is daily bread for all, Pope Benedict XVI said in a recent message to Jacques Diouf, director general of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. The Pontiff's letter was issued in honor of World Food Day, Oct. 16.

He said: "The future of the human family is in need of a new impulse to overcome present fragilities and uncertainties. Although we live in a global dimension, there are evident signs of the profound division between those who lack daily sustenance and those who have many resources, using them often for ends other than food and even destroying them."

The Pontiff stressed that agricultural work must not be considered a secondary activity, but as the objective of every strategy of growth and integral development.

He continues: "This is still more important if we keep in mind that the availability of foods is increasingly conditioned by the volatility of prices and sudden climatic changes."

Nonviolent protest planned against fracking on Delaware River

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The Delaware River, the primary drinking water source for 15.6 million people in the northeastern part of the United States, is in danger of being invaded by the drilling or "fracking" of 20,000 gas wells.

The Delaware River Basin Commission will vote on a plan that would open up this precious waterway to the fossil fuel industry at a special meeting 10 a.m. Nov. 21. The vote had originally been set for Oct. 21.

Two environmental groups – Save the Delaware River and the Delaware River Keepers – are organizing a peaceful, nonviolent rally at 8 a.m. Nov. 21 in Trenton, N.J., at the commission meeting.

Josh Fox, creator of the documentary Gasland, is asking people from the region to show up if they can or to contact the Obama administration to express concerns about fracking.

For more information, go to savethedelawareriver.com or delawareriverkeeper.org.

The role of the person of faith in the 21st century

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What does a talk entitled The Role of the Corporation in the 21st Century have to do with communities of faith who wrestle with the issue of sustainability and energy? On Oct. 5, participants in the Leaps Of Faith sustainability conference at Aquinas College had the opportunity to hear a powerful talk by Andrew Hoffman, director of the Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise at the University of Michigan as keynote.

Unprecedented change and challenges

Some of Hoffman's points were as follows:


  • We are currently living in a time of unprecedented change.

  • There is a growing disparity in the world between the haves and the have-nots (e.g., The richest 20 percent of the world's population consume 86 percent of all goods and services while the poorest 20 percent consume just 1.3 percent).

  • The earth's ecosystems are under more stress than at any time in recorded history.

'The Butterfly's Daughter' a tale for enthusiasts

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For readers who are fascinated by monarch butterflies and their migration from the United States to Mexico each fall, Mary Alice Monroe's new novel is a precious gem of a story.

The Butterfly's Daughter parallels the personal pilgrimage of Luz Avila, a 21-year-old Mexican-American woman from Milwaukee, with the flight path of these wondrous orange and black winged ones.

Monroe is an impassioned environmentalist. During her May 2011 book tour, she gave away 10,000 milkweed seeds to readers. Milkweed is the only food source for monarch caterpillars.

To read more about Monroe, go to her website.

Toy giant Mattel drops Asian supplier after environmentalists voice concerns

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Mattel, the California manufacturer of Barbie dolls, has backed down.

According to Greenpeace International, the company is disassociating itself from Asia Pulp and Paper (APP), the chief supplier of wood fiber used in Mattel's toy packaging. Mattel's decision came earlier this month after being deluged with 500,000 emails from environmentalists who were concerned about APP's destruction of the Sumatran rainforest in Indonesia, the habitat for tigers and other endangered species.

Mattel, the largest toy manufacturer in the world, has instructed its suppliers to avoid wood fiber from controversial sources, including companies known for participation in deforestation. Its new policy will also increase the amount of recycled papers used in their business, as well as the use of wood products certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. (FSC)

For more information, go to Greenpeace's website.

Contemporary earth saints

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St. Francis of Assisi's spirit is vibrantly alive within the hearts of compassionate people who advocate for the welfare of animals everywhere on our planet. Allow me to introduce you to four of these contemporary earth saints.

One of them, Sr. Mary Ethel Tinnemann, a Sister of the Holy Names, died three years ago at age 97. The other individuals -- Sr. Mary Liam Brock, Sr. Ann Ronin, and Tony Maurovich -- continue to make the lives of homeless cats free from misery and hunger in the Oakland/San Francisco Bay Areas.

Wangari Maathai helped us to 'rise up and walk'

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Nowhere in Wangari Maathai’s official biography as founder of the Green Belt Movement is there mention of a song written to honor her environmental work. But there is one. In late October of 2006, when the Nobel Prize laureate visited Berkeley, California to give a talk at First Congregational Church, she was welcomed on stage by Orcas Island composer and singer Sharon Abreau. “Wangari,” Abreau serenaded, “You shine bright as the morning star. You have helped us to understand that peace on earth needs a living hand.”

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September 12-25, 2014

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