The Human Condition — The World Bank Is Not All That It Seems To Be

The World Bank’s mission is to”end extreme poverty within a generation and boost shared prosperity” by lending money and giving out grants to private companies and governments in some of the poorest nations of the world. This money often goes towards building dams, preserving land, and developing health care systems. The World Banks’ goal is to develop and globalize “under developed” countries, sometimes by any means necessary. While the World Bank may have done some good in the world, it has also caused a surprising amount of damage to the very population of impoverished people it aims to aid. This is because the World Bank is more interested in national development than humane development.  The World Bank’s methods and behavior is subject to scrutiny and controversy. Several of such controversies will be discussed in the following entry.

When the World Bank undertakes projects in poor countries such as building dams, the very poor that were supposed to be helped are often harmed. They are often displaced without alternatives or compensation or their livelihoods are destroyed. In the last ten years, an estimated 3.4 million people have been displaced as a consequence of bank-funded projects and efforts. One mega-dam can negatively affect the lives of 50,000-100,000 people living along the banks of a river who made their living off of subsistence farming or fishing; a dam means fewer fish and an altered ecosystem. When someone is displaced as a result of one of these projects, they are forced to move or they lose at least part of their land. If someone is not physically displaced, they are at least economically displaced because their livelihood is affected. These projects often leave the poor even poorer. People who are forced to move often suffer higher rates of hunger, illness, and premature death. The World Bank funded such a project in India that forced the resettlement of people in the Narmada River Valley between 1979 and 1993. Lands that had been occupied since pre-historic times were destroyed causing many problems, the World Bank was to blame.

In Kenya, a World Bank funded land conservation project resulted in the burning of hundreds, maybe even a thousand, family’s homes in an attempt to evict them. These people were Sengwer people, indigenous to the forest being “conserved.”

In Brazil, the World Bank funded a project that improved the highway into the rainforest, subdivided the land, and allowed ownership of the land to private individuals, thus driving up traffic and land-grabbing and destroying much of the rainforest.

The World Bank seems to go forward with projects without any concern for the environment, history, and the well being of those affected.

Economically, the World Bank’s economic development endeavors wreak havoc on the poor of the world. The World Bank doles out loans and grants to governments and private corporations, but often at the expense of the general public. Unbeknownst to most, when the World Bank agrees to give a loan to a poor nation, it requires three things of the country first: 1) governments must remove all rules and regulations that obstruct the accumulation of profits, 2) they should turn over all assets, and 3) they must cut social programs. Although these loans are intended to help poor countries, the debt they consequentially accumulate ultimately hurt the debt leaden country, with most of the debt weighing upon the poor. Evidently, these actions hurt the general population and the poor and help the government, corporations, and most of all, the World Bank and its affiliates. This begs question as to the true motives of the World Bank.

When the World Bank was confronted about the destructive issues it has caused, the bank recognized these systemic problems and announced a plan to correct them in the future. It is imperative that the World Bank acts in accordance with its mission and helps the poor, not the rich.

There is always a price to change, to development. But must the poor be the ones who pay? And who decides what constitutes development? Is the destruction of history, natural beauty, and an ancient way of life development? Surely the World Bank should not have the power to make such grave decisions.

the world bank
The World Bank

This is the mission statement found on the home page of the World Bank’s website.

 

World Bank dam
NPR

This dam, between Zimbabwe and Zambia, is the world’s largest dam and was funded by the World Bank, creating serious consequences for poor people living near the river.

Sources: NPR (http://www.npr.org/blogs/goatsandsoda/2015/04/17/399816448/when-the-world-bank-does-more-harm-than-good), NPR (http://www.npr.org/2012/04/13/150557692/new-republic-controversy-over-world-bank-pick), Globalization 101 (http://www.globalization101.org/why-is-the-world-bank-controversial/), The World Bank (http://www.worldbank.org/en/about).

 

Passion [for positive people] Blogs — Frances, the Inspiration of a Lifetime

Erie, PA — She has been a part of the family for so long now, I don’t remember the first time I met Frances, now in her sixties. My aunt Hope was a social worker for many years before she retired, and had worked with Frances in the past, and became friends with her later. Hope introduced Frances to my family and me, and we instantly fell in love with her, welcoming her into our family.

Frances has had an extremely difficult life. She is moderately developmentally disabled and comes from a family of mentally challenged parents and siblings. Because of her circumstances, Frances and her siblings were removed from her parents, and placed in either mental institutions or orphanages, separated from each other. Although Frances is not severely disabled, she was placed misclassified as severely mentally challenged and therefore placed in an orphanage and then a mental institution where life was very tough and often cruel. Frances went through a rough patch of misbehavior during her teen years, but became remarkably mature and independent when she began to live independently. This was when my aunt Hope met her and helped her to learn some basic life tips like manners, personal finance, and how to take care of her house and herself.

Frances just recently learned to read and write. She tried to take some reading classes a few years ago, but her fellow students were so cruel to her that she decided it best for herself to drop out of those classes and hire a tutor. She is now so proud of her reading and writing abilities, and often sends me notes and post cards to say hello, but also to show off new words she has learned. Education is the  one thing Frances wishes she had been allowed to have. She feels that had she been given that opportunity, she would have excelled.

Frances has several outstanding qualities that make her someone whom I not only love and adore, but admire and respect. Frances is extremely honest. She speaks her mind and states directly what she wants. This quality has propelled Frances forward in life because people learn to take her seriously.

Frances has a marvelous sense of humor and a contagious laugh. She loves to tell stories of the past, and makes everyone around her laugh. She particularly loves to tell funny and embarrassing stories about my naughty little siblings, stories that make my mother cringe but everyone else grin.

Frances is extremely responsible and caring. She takes it upon herself to take care of all those around her. Every time she calls me she starts and ends with her favorite saying, “Now, I don’t want to get you in no trouble..” because she worries that by calling me she is taking me away from my studies or sleep. She diligently watches my little siblings and me when she is with us, and pushes us to work hard and do our best. She has an elderly neighbor, Dolores, who lives next door in her apartment building. Dolores is incredibly sweet and kind, but has Alzheimer disease, so Frances spends much of her time with Dolores, taking care of her, helping her prepare meals, take her medicine, and pass the long, lonely days with loving company. Frances loves Dolores, and was heartbroken to learn recently that Dolores’ family will be relocating her to an assisted living home in the coming weeks. Frances had a twin brother, Frankie, who was severely developmentally disabled, and died last year from pneumonia. She doted upon him, visiting him as often as possible in his group home. Nothing made him smile more than a visit from Frances. She was heartbroken to lose him like she lost the rest of her family, but Frances is unbelievably strong and resilient and didn’t miss a beat of her charm. Frances has had to learn to let go of many loved ones and although she bravely moves on, it has not been easy for her.

Because of Frances’ endearing qualities, she has made many close friends in life. She has become a part of my family, and I cherish countless fond memories with her. She has two close friends in Georgia whom she visits every summer. She became close with her reading tutor, a medical student who is now a doctor, and visits him and his wife occasionally. She is very close with Dolores. She babysits long hours for a family of four children who look up to her because of the firm but loving care she bestows upon them. She is popular in her apartment building and community, and helps everyone out. Although Frances has had to let several loved ones go, I know that she will always be meeting and entering the hearts of new people whose lives will be irrevocably enhanced by her presence. Frances is the inspiration of a life time.

Frances and Frankie

Pictured is Frances talking with her deceased twin brother, Frankie a few years ago at my aunt Hope’s home in Erie, Pennsylvania.

A few years ago, my uncle Joe Wilson and his husband Dean Hamer, documentary film makers, made a short video about Frances’ life story upon request by Frances. Here is the link to this eight minute video: http://www.snagfilms.com/films/title/frances_and_frankie. Frances insisted upon this documentation of her life because she felt that it was the right thing to do to share her story and hardships in order to raise awareness of the issues she faced in hopes of consequentially improving the circumstances of others.

 

Issue Brief Draft — Making the Case for Vegetarianism — Saving Lives By Choosing Forks Over Knives

Introduction

The world is an increasingly carnivorous place. Vegans and vegetarians make up merely 0.96% and 2.64% of the American population respectively.[1] According to a nationwide telephone survey conducted from June to July of 2007, animal welfare is ranked low on scale of importance when compared with other social issues like health care, poverty, and food safety.[2] Such issues were ranked as five times more important than farm animal welfare.[3] Consumers think that the financial well being of farmers is more important than food prices and the welfare of farm animals.[4] 81% of respondents believed that animals and humans have the same capacity to feel pain, but said that human suffering should take precedence over animal suffering.[5] Although 62% said that animal suffering should still be addressed, even if humans were suffering simultaneously, they also said that they would be willing to let 11,500 animals suffer if it meant relieving the pain of one human’s suffering.[6]

Many Americans are willing to pay for improved animal welfare because they know that there is a correlation between increased animal welfare and raised meat prices. 40% of those surveyed said that ethics should be primarily taken into consideration when determining how to treat farm animals while 45% thought that scientific opinions should be used instead.[7] However, it is possible that many respondents falsified their preferences in order to present themselves favorably, so it is quite possible that even fewer Americans than projected care deeply for the well being of animals. In response to such a possibility, this issue brief is being constructed in order to garner support and raise awareness about the often misleading world of the meat industry in the United States and abroad.

 

The Stakeholders (not “Steakholders”)

In order for change to occur, all stakeholders must be motivated and involved.[8] The stakeholders are comprised of everyone, groups and individuals alike, because everyone is affected by the meat industry in some way.[9] This issue brief was meant for those who were in the dark about the consequences of the meat industry and who could be inspired to adopt a modified, more meat-free (if not vegetarian) diet after reading the materials.

 

A Brief History of American Vegetarian Awareness

Since prehistoric times, humans have been interacting with their fellow animals. We were threatened by those more powerful than us, and managed to domesticate some species to our advantage for food, work, and even companionship. Accompanying the domestication of animals, many rules, regulations, and laws were put into place by various cultures in order to properly deal with these animals.[10] Ancient Kosher and Halal customs of slaughtering animals were meant to minimize the pain and suffering of the animals.[11] The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals was founded in Great Britain in 1824.[12] The Animal Welfare Act was signed into law in the United States in 1966. This law regulates the treatment of animals in research, transport, exhibition, and by dealers. It poses a minimum acceptable standard of codes of conduct towards animals. It has been amended several times, most recently in 2008.[13]

While codes of conduct toward animal welfare have been in place for hundreds of years, over the past twenty years, consumers, primarily in industrialized nations, have shed light on the topic of animal welfare.[14] Typically, the wealthier someone is, the surer they are of the quantity of the food they will receive, so they can begin to focus on the quality of the food, including food safety, how it is produced, and what its impacts on the environment, labor, and animal welfare are.[15] Some consumer movements that have arisen in response to increased awareness of and attention on the meat industry have included movements that advocate for the absolute abolition of all use of animals except for economic gains.[16] Other groups have made efforts to improve the treatment of animals in the meat industry.[17] In the European Union, these groups have attracted the attention of the government as well as the general population.[18] Consequentially, numerous laws have been enacted that regulate how farm animals are to be treated.[19] These laws can regulate domestic production but not production abroad.[20] This is problematic because the United States has few regulations or laws in place to protect animal welfare.[21]

 

Environmental Impacts of Meat Industry

Factory farms, run by corporations, replaced small family farms with massive industrial complexes and free-grazing herds with warehouses to feed and house thousands of pigs, chickens, or turkeys in a single facility.[22] The number of animals produced for consumption in the United States has greatly increased over the last 30 years, but the number of livestock and poultry producing facilities has greatly decreased.[23]

The global meat production industry is one of the largest contributors to the destruction of the environment.[24] Factory farms consume water, land, and resources at rates that are unsustainable.[25] They contribute to the degradation of the environment, air and water pollution, large-scale fish deaths, depletion of the soil, and disappearing biodiversity.[26] The meat industry is more resource-intensive than other forms of food production. “Meat livestock use 30% of ice-free land globally, 80% of global freshwater, and produce 18% of global greenhouse gas emissions which is more than the global transportation sector.”[27] The meat industry is also largely responsible for habitat loss and deforestation.[28] 34% of the global greenhouse gas emissions of the meat industry are from deforestation, methane emissions, and manure management.”[29]

Grain that is fed to livestock instead of humans creates huge energy loss.[30] Furthermore, as Peter Singer wrote in his 1975 book, Animal Liberation: A New Ethics for Our Treatment of Animals, the crops used to feed the livestock of the American meat industry could feed the world three times over. Demand for meat in the United States has increased astronomically since the 1970s, so imagine how much of the world could be fed just by American livestock crops in 2015. The global meat industry was expected to double between 1999 and 2050, which will also double the meat industry’s environmental impacts unless a more sustainable method of meat production is found, if people insist upon consuming it.[31]

Factory farms create a serious waste problem by creating an astronomical amount of waste each year weighing in at approximately 500 million tons per year, which is three times the amount of all human waste in the United States.[32] The waste is stored in “lagoons,” giant concrete or earthen pits.[33] When the lagoons are full, the remaining waste is sprayed untreated on nearby fields as fertilizer.[34] These lagoons are prone to spills and collapses and pose health risks to workers, nearby residents, and the environment, they have been outlawed in some states but still remain quite common.[35] Animal waste has high concentrations of nitrogen and phosphorus, so it poses a major risk to groundwater and surface water. When it gets into streams and rivers, it stifles oxygen in water, suffocating fish and causing algal growth.[36]

The air pollution caused by factory farms has recently been recognized as dangerous.[37] Not only do the odors affect the moods and quality of life of nearby people, but “studies have found hydrogen sulfide, ammonia, volatile organic compounds, and particulate matter concentrations at unsafe levels in and around factory farms.”[38] Workers and residents exposed to this pollution suffer nausea, breathing trouble, nervous system impairment, and chronic lung irritation.[39] While factory farm workers and neighbors are most at risk of compromised health and environmental dangers, pollution from factory farms endangers the entire population as a whole. Smog and contaminated urban drinking water supplies are among the complications that endanger society.[40] Furthermore, the antibiotics added to animal feed in factory farms could make human diseases harder to treat and cure.[41]

Factory farms pollute because of pricing pressure, advances in technology and veterinary antibiotics, and industry consolidation.[42] The environmental and health risks from factory farms call for government action, sufficient regulation of factory farms is lacking.[43] This is because there is a lack of historical data on factory farms emissions and because public opposition has failed to lead to regulation.[44] It is a game of power politics in which small rural residents and farmers are harmed but huge corporations are benefitted by factory farms.

Because factory farms, or “confined animal feeding operations,” (CAFOs) are detrimental to regional air and water quality, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), states, and environmental groups have recently tried to bring more attention to CAFOs.[45] However, it is difficult to formulate regulation for CAFOs because of politics, scientific obstacles, and the time and costs required.[46] Because American environmental laws have been in existence longer than factory farms, the factory farms are largely exempt from emissions regulations. Farms, especially factory farms, are among the last industries to function outside of regulations.[47] Only recently have legislators and regulators been paying attention to the demands to regulate CAFOs. In recent history, a series of lawsuits let to the Clean Air Act of 2003 and the Clean Air Act of 2005, in which the EPA agreed to start testing the factory farms’ air emissions, hopefully ultimately restricting emissions.[48] The Sierra Club led a number of civil suits against major meat producers for disobeying federal emissions reporting requirements. Such steps focus on the production and reporting of emissions information. The provision of information means more regulation and better awareness and behavior of factory farm polluters.[49] The Department of Justice and the Sierra Club will enforce such regulations and policies.[50] These steps are not enough to fix the overwhelming problem of CAFO pollution, but serve as hopeful turning points.

An interesting alternative to traditional factory farmed meat is a new phenomenon called “cultured meat.” Cultured meat is “meat produced in vitro using tissue engineering techniques; animal tissue will be grown in vitro instead of growing entire animals.”[51] The overall impacts of cultured meat are much lower than those of conventionally produced meat.[52] Cultured meat can prevent the spread of animal-borne diseases such as Mad Cow Disease.[53] The texture, taste, and nutrition of cultured meat can be manipulated using controlled conditions.[54] This means that nutrition-related diseases caused by meat eating could be reduced if not eliminated. Results show that cultured meat production produces far fewer emissions and requires only a fraction of the land and water required than traditionally produced meat.[55] Cultured meat, despite having been begun in the 1950s, is still only at the research stage.[56] It is currently grown small-scale in labs.[57] Large-scale production would require more research and about $160 million in investments in order to commercialize it as a product.[58]

 

Health Complications of an Omnivorous Diet

Vegetarian diets are comprised primarily of cereals, legumes, nuts, fruits, and vegetables, possibly including eggs and dairy products.[59] Vegans do not consume any animals or animal products. A vegetarian diet has less saturated fat and more starch, fruits, and vegetables than a non-vegetarian diet.

Much research and many studies support the notion that eating a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle is healthier than an omnivorous or carnivorous diet. Western vegetarians have, on average, a lower body mass index (BMI) than non-vegetarians, lower average cholesterol, and a lower mortality rate by approximately 25%.[60] Being a vegetarian also lowers the risk of diseases like constipation, gallstones, appendicitis, and diverticular disease.[61] Studies show that in Britain alone, beginning a vegetarian diet could prevent about 40,000 deaths per year from cardiovascular disease.[62] Vegetarians are, on average, thinner than non-vegetarians.[63]

Animal fat is the culprit behind many chronic degenerative diseases, especially cardiovascular disease and some cancers; diets high in fat and low in fiber could lead to colon caner.[64] The pesticides used in and the pollution caused by the meat industry are associated with higher risks of cancer among both workers and consumers of the meat industry.[65] Hunger and food insecurity are not currently due to lack of food resources, but because of “insufficient political will or moral imperative to change the way food is allocated.”[66] “The developing world alone is producing enough food to provide every person with more than 2,500 calories per day,” yet millions of people continue to starve as the resources are spent on the meat industry.[67] If the meat industry continues like this, food scarcity could soon become a prominent problem.[68] It is imperative that food producers realize and recognize that resources are finite and that long-term interests must be pursued and addressed. Even slight reductions in meat consumption could improve the health of individuals, the quality of the environment, and the lives of many livestock.

 

Economic Consequences of Meat Market

In 1996, the United States government spent $68.7 billion on agricultural subsidies.[69] Our food does not come inexpensively, contrary to what we are led to believe by the cheap food prices at the grocery store. This generates a false sense of security; these costs do not even include the costs of cleaning up pollution.

Many consumers in industrialized nations are willing to pay more for products that were produced under conditions of higher animal welfare. In a survey of British consumers, it was shown that consumers would pay between six and 30% more for eggs if the inhuman towers of battery cages would be banned for hens.[70] If the amount that people are willing to pay for products of higher animal welfare is great enough, then producers have sufficient incentive to produce such goods.[71] This could also create incentive to mislead consumers, however. Firms have an incentive to disclose desirable information and details, but not the undesirable qualities.[72]

Consumers, acting independently, will act selfishly, without concern about the external ramifications such as noise, pollution, decreased animal welfare, and other costs.[73] The government may then step in to regulate costly behavior and encourage or subsidize the less costly behavior.[74] Governments might try to measure the costs and benefits of animal welfare regulations in the form of studies or surveys to ensure that the views and values reflect those of society as a whole.[75] If the private benefits of consumers do not outweigh the animal welfare costs, the government must step in and decide whether the individual and the collective benefits outweigh the costs of imposing regulation.[76] Animal welfare laws typically cost a lot because they increase production costs.[77]

 

Ethics of Animal Welfare

In the past thirty years or so, food has become a means of personal expression. People use it to convey their identity, opinions, and moral convictions. This has led people to express concern over the treatment of livestock and the methods of slaughtering. New activist groups have emerged with animal welfare and rights as the central issue.[78] The way animals are treated in a society speaks volumes about the morality of such a society.[79]

“Ethical vegetarians” choose not to eat meat because they believe it is morally wrong. “Although they recognize that eating meat is also detrimental to their health, ethical vegetarians understand that vegetarianism is an encompassing commitment to a way of life.”[80] They are upset by others who eat meat because they see vegetarianism as a “moral imperative.”[81] This is entirely different from vegetarianism who abstain from eating meat for health or religious reasons.

“Moralization is the process where a preference is converted into a value.”[82] Moralization is both an individual and a societal process that transforms certain objects or actions from morally neutral to having moral qualities.[83] Multiple reasons are sought to justify a conviction when something becomes moralized. In terms of the anti-factory-farming movement, the justifications that are usually used include the destruction of the small family farm, environmental degradation, animal welfare concerns, and disgust at the un-natural methods of breeding and raising animals.[84]

Farm animal welfare is controversial and complicated. For example, in factory farms, many animals are kept in crates or cages. This is controversial because while it protects them from predators and each other, it is also a confining, uncomfortable environment for an animal to spend its life in.[85] Three overlapping ethical concerns of animal rights activists for the quality of life of animals are: 1. Animals should lead natural lives using their natural abilities and adaptations, 2. Animals should be free of prolonged intense fear, pain, and other negative states, and should experience normal pleasures, 3. Animals should be healthy, grow, and function normally both behaviorally and physiologically.[86]

Although much concern about animal welfare from activist and industry groups has been heeded, the group of people most affected, the consumers, have largely not been heard on the issue.[87] Vegetarianism is largely comprised of females.[88] Teenage vegetarians are typically white, from a higher socio-economic class, practice methods of weight-control and weight-loss, and have an increased concern for the environment, animal welfare, and gender equality when compared to their meat-eating peers.[89] Moral vegetarianism is often viewed as an extreme example of the general public opinion regarding farming practices.[90] This general opinion is typically concerned with a combination of animal welfare, human health, and environmental issues.[91]

Livestock producers should greatly take into consideration this gender-oriented advocacy of vegetarianism because women currently and will most likely continue to have a strong, disproportionate influence on the purchasing of food for households.[92]

 

Policy Possibilities

Science is usually used as the foundation of public policy, but in the case of animal welfare protestations, it is often coupled with morality.[93] However, as of recently, media has been the most influential platform for the raising of awareness of animal rights issues and for the expression of concern and questions over such treatment.[94] Media sets up the political agenda by playing up or marginalizing people and issues.[95] Media coverage can both help and harm animal rights special interest groups.[96]

It has been proposed that supporters of the regulation of factory farms instead consider a different approach that focuses on something called “reflexive law.”[97] Reflexive law is a set of information-based tools that decide which and how much information is to be disclosed to the public.[98] This information is in the form of “raw data, hazard warnings, or environmental labels.”[99] It shames polluters and provides an outlet for consumers, business partners, and shareholders to express their dismay at the pollution caused by the meat industry.[100] Reflexive law is also faster and less expensive to put into place than “command-and-control” regulation.[101]

The number of interest groups that take part in political lobbying has exploded since 1970. In the United States, the number doubled between 1955 and 1990, doubled again from 1970 to 1990, and reached 20,000 official interest groups in 1995.[102] Recently, new social interest groups have emerged that no longer rely on political lobbying and legislative to achieve their political goals. They instead use media to influence marketing and consequentially the decisions of consumers. This is effective for three reasons: the passing of legislation is slow and blocked, consumers are increasingly affluent, and targeting the food market is now easier because it is more concentrated.[103]

Decisions made by the government regarding food safety, farming practices, and animal welfare increasingly reflect the view of the people as a whole.[104] Moralization transforms personal preferences into societal values, which are more likely than preferences to be institutionally and legally supported.[105] An example of this is Bill C-22, which is an amendment to the Canadian Criminal Code to protect animals, which resulted from moralization.[106] A wide variety of potential policy outcomes exist to deal with farm animal welfare, and all of them are rooted in moralization.[107] “Legislation enforcing minimum standards combined with subsidy payments as incentives would be the best policy approach.”[108] “Considering societal trends, it may be prudent if decision makers in livestock production methods were to take into consideration or at minimum acknowledge factors other than science in a long-term vision of sustainable and ethically supportable agricultural production systems.”[109]

The United States is behind on factory farm regulation and animal welfare laws, but some other countries have stepped ahead. In Swiss society, animal welfare is an important issue. Swiss policy makers have reacted with strict animal protection legislation and two programs to promote animal-friendly farming.[110] Also, the European Union adopted the “Protocol on Protection and Welfare of Animals.”[111]

However, the construction of policy regarding animal welfare is challenging. The government must carefully weigh costs and benefits when making legislative and regulatory changes and decisions.[112] “Good welfare provides private productivity benefits to producers and some level of positive external benefits to people who care about animal welfare status.”[113]

 

Conclusion

In conclusion, this issue brief makes the case for vegetarianism for four reasons. First, the meat industry is largely responsible for the degradation of the environment. Second, a meat-free diet is much healthier than an omnivorous or carnivorous diet. Third, the meat industry takes a large toll on the domestic and global economies and much money could be spent on other important institutions but is instead spent on the meat industry. Finally, many see the killing and treatment of animals in the meat industry to be unethical and morally wrong. Cutting down even a little bit on meat consumption would reduce each of these four problems substantially.

 

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Key, Timothy, and Gwyneth Davey. “Prevalence of Obesity Is Low in People Who Do Not Eat Meat.” Hwadmin. Thebmj, 1996. Web. 08 Apr. 2015. <http://www.bmj.com/content/313/7060/816.short>.

Key, Timothy J., Gwyneth K. Davey, and Paul N. Appleby. “Health Benefits of a Vegetarian Diet.” Cambridge Journals Online. The Nutrition Society, 1999. Web. 08 Apr. 2015. <http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayFulltext?type=8&fid=795576&jid=PNS&volumeId=58&issueId=02&aid=795568&bodyId=&membershipNumber=&societyETOCSession=>.

McVittie, Alistair. “Public Preferences for Broiler Chicken Welfare: Evidence from Stated Preference Studies.” Number 3. Public Preferences for Broiler Chicken Welfare: Evidence from Stated Preference Studies (n.d.): n. pag. Land Economy. Web. 08 Apr. 2015. <http://ageconsearch.umn.edu/bitstream/45990/2/Work3McVittie.pdf>.

Mitchell, Lorraine. “Changing Structure of Global Food Consumption and Trade.” Google Books. Economic Research Service/USDA, n.d. Web. 09 Apr. 2015. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=wvZIXf2azKkC&oi=fnd&pg=PA80&dq=related%3ANAdG6TpH8fkJ%3Ascholar.google.com%2F&ots=8Tr6YBfUs1&sig=nUPvLNxAh3SC3M_rxH2q51DzYbk#v=onepage&q&f=false 80-84.

Norwood, F. Bailey, Associate Professor, Jayson L. Lusk, and Professor And Willard Sparks Chair Of Agribusiness. “Consumer Preferences for Farm Animal Welfare: Results of a Nationwide Telephone Survey.” (2007): n. pag. Oklahoma State University, 17 Aug. 2007. Web. 08 Apr. 2015. <http://asp.okstate.edu/baileynorwood/survey4/files/initialreporttoafb.pdf>.

Phan-Huy, Sibyl A., and Ruth B. Fawaz. “Swiss Market For Meat From Animal-Friendly Production – Responses Of Public And Private Actors In Switzerland.” Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics, 30 Sept. 2001. Web. 08 Apr. 2015. <http://download-v2.springer.com/static/pdf/288/art%253A10.1023%252FA%253A1022992200547.pdf?token2=exp=1428559041~acl=%2Fstatic%2Fpdf%2F288%2Fart%25253A10.1023%25252FA%25253A1022992200547.pdf*~hmac=88fd92bd24d12fd3c6728d6606b8ad1ed838c5d77d808b5d5ca74b448deae610>.

Tuomisto, Hanna L., and M. Joost Teixara De Mattos. “Environmental Impacts of Cultured Meat Production.” Environmental Science & Technology. Environmental Science and Technology, 2011. Web. 08 Apr. 2015. <http://pubs.acs.org/doi/pdf/10.1021/es200130u>.

Whiting, Terry. “Animal Welfare Groups – Who’s Who And What’s What.” London Swine Conference, Apr. 2005. Web. 08 Apr. 2015. http://www.londonswineconference.ca/proceedings/2005/2005.pdf#page=80.

Passion [for positive people] Blogs — An Ode to a Brave Young Jordanian

State College, PA — Falafel had been on my mind all day. Tired of dining hall food, I willingly submitted to my craving and made my way to my favorite falafel restaurant. When it was my turn, I began to issue my order to one of the young men behind the counter. I learned immediately that he doesn’t speak English very well, and when he held up his bandaged hand, I realized that he was trying to tell me that he can’t serve me because of his injury. In response, I laughed and held up my own bandaged hand.

After I received my food and was on my way out, I saw the same young man eating his own lunch in the restaurant. I said goodbye to him as I passed, but he stood up to talk to me. He said in his broken English that he would like to be friends, but the language is difficult for him. To his utter astonishment, I responded to him in Arabic, “No problem, I know some Arabic!” He stammered, searching for something to say, starting to say something in English but quickly breaking into fluid, fast-paced Arabic.

We spoke for a little while longer about ourselves, school, and what we are studying at Penn State. His name is Mohammed and is from Jordan. He is a Penn State student of graphic design who wants to get better at English. I am a student of political science who wants to get better at Arabic. All of a sudden, he announced a brilliant idea. He suggested that we meet for an hour or so once or twice a month to practice Arabic and English with each other by just conversing, for half the time in English and half the time in Arabic. I readily accepted knowing from past experience how profoundly an experience like this would deepen our understanding and strengthen our grasp on the target language. It gets better yet. When we pulled out our phones to exchange numbers, we laughed incredulously to see that we had the same exact phone and the same exact phone case, both of which are outdated!

It was a pleasantly serendipitous exchange, but I would like to commend Mohammed’s courage. In today’s world of technology-induced isolation and egotism, few people reach out to one another. We try to connect more to wifi than to each other, but Mohammed bravely surpassed this trend and did so in a language new and unfamiliar to him. He remained pleasant, upbeat, and respectful throughout the duration of our interaction, and I look forward to helping and being helped by him in the future. He inspired me to try to have more interactions with strangers, even if just by making eye contact or smiling, acknowledging the strong bond we share just by being humans.

The Human Condition — Greek Life: A Benefit or a Detriment to the College Experience

State College, PA — Two recent controversies involving the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity chapter at Oklahoma State University and the Kappa Delta Rho fraternity chapter at Penn State University have reignited questions about what the Greek system adds to or detracts from universities and their communities.

At Oklahoma State, members of Sigma Alpha Epsilon were recorded singing a highly offensive racist chant that stated that African Americans would never be let into the said fraternity and that instead, they should be hung from a tree. At Penn State, members of the Kappa Delta Rho fraternity are in the global spotlight after a highly offensive Facebook page full of photographs of naked sleeping or unconscious women was uncovered. Both have sparked a serious of passionate protests and the possibility of potentially harsh punishments.

However, these incidents did not surprise many people. They serve as a reminder of the many problems and controversies that seem to accompany Greek life’s existence on college campuses. Other incidents include suicides, deaths, and injuries related to fraternity and sorority hazing (initiation rites), the 2013 Penn State sorority controversial Halloween costume party that insulted Mexican culture and heritage, excessive and/or underage drinking, casualties caused by intoxication, and the notoriously high rates of rape and sexual assaults that take place in fraternities.

Before Greek life is condemned completely, it is important to explore both the pros and the cons of it. Many influential individuals have gone through the Greek system. 44% of presidents were members of fraternities (not sororities, not yet) and 50% of people on the Top 10 Fortune 500 CEO list were a part of Greek life. Furthermore, fraternities and sororities raise a lot of money for charities. Last year, the Greek system raised a collective 20 million dollars for charities and volunteered for a collective 4 million hours. Greek life potentially provides a tight-knit community and life-long friends. It also fosters connections and consequentially more opportunities.

However, as stated above, Greek life’s list of cons seems endless. It has, for the most part, a notorious reputation, due in part to media and film, but especially because of incidents like those at Penn State and Oklahoma State. One might ask why there are so many harmful incidents perpetrated by fraternities and sororities. Some studies suggest that it is the exclusive, homogenous nature of Greek life that breeds discrimination and exclusion within a like group of people. Predominantly all-white, all-male fraternities could promote racism and sexism as well as a sense of entitlement. But isn’t college a time to broaden one’s horizons, open new doors, meet a diverse array of people, expand connections, and learn to see the world through multiple different lenses? Could one not argue that perhaps the entire concept of Greek life conflicts with the supposed reason we go to college in the first place?

Many institutions of higher education, such as Bowdoin College, a small liberal arts college in Maine, have abolished the very Greek system upon which they were initially founded. When Bowdoin got rid of Greek life in 2000, many went up in arms claiming that Bowdoin’s culture disappeared with the presence of Greek life. However, Bowdoin continues to be a thriving institution, ranked at number five of all American liberal arts colleges. While abolishing Greek life from college campuses would eliminate many of the related problems, it is not the only option.

If you are a member of the Penn State community, here is why this should matter to you. Monday was the day that Penn State president Eric Barron announced that he would be meeting with his council to discuss how to respond and which actions to take against the offenders at Kappa Delta Rho. However, no conclusive decision was reached other than that a “task force” will be deployed to further investigate the Kappa Delta Rho incident. Contrastingly, at Oklahoma State, in response to the racist chant of Sigma Alpha Epsilon, two of the involved students were expelled from the university, and the entire Oklahoma State chapter of the fraternity was shut down permanently, the building boarded up and shuttered. Some of the ex-members received death threats, and the main student involved issued a formal apology. Blaine Ayers, the executive director of the entire national fraternity of Sigma Alpha Epsilon made a public statement in which he expressed his dismay at the incident and announced that nation-wide Sigma Alpha Epsilon racism investigations are underway. Fifteen other universities around the country have shut down their chapters of Sigma Alpha Epsilon. It could be argued that all these consequences were made possible by the powerful, moving protests that occurred on Oklahoma State’s campus.

If the protests at Oklahoma State played such a large role in securing the necessary consequences, it seems that it is up to the Penn State community to demand justice for the victims of the Kappa Delta Rho scandal. There already have been two powerful protests at Penn State, but it must not end there. Furthermore, while it is crucial that punishments be doled out and apologies made, Penn State seems equipped only to deal with temporarily suspending offensive fraternities and sororities and say sorry. Policies must be put in place to prevent hurtful disasters like all those that have occurred in the past and save universities from the shame and the victims from the pain associated with them.

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www.nytimes.com

Oklahoma State students march in protest of the racist chant perpetrated by members of Sigma Alpha Epsilon.

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www.onwardstate.com

Penn State students and community members rallied last week in protest of the Kappa Delta Rho scandal.

Sources: CNN ((http://www.cnn.com/videos/us/2015/03/10/ctn-pkg-simon-greek-life-good-bad-ugly.cnn, http://www.cnn.com/2015/03/10/us/oklahoma-racist-chant/, http://www.cnn.com/2015/03/18/us/fraternities-boys-behaving-badly/). 

Passion [for positive people] Blog — Tesla Takes Selfless Initiative, Shares Patents

San Carlos, CA — Perhaps when you hit a wall, when you get writer’s block, when you are stumped and devoid of new ideas, you have been told to take some deep breaths, take a long walk, meditate, or do something else to help you relax. While these are actually very helpful tips, none of them include talking to someone else. Usually when we have an idea, we keep it to ourselves until we are sure our idea is ready to be presented or profited from. It seems ingrained in us to guard our ideas carefully for fear that they will be stolen. And while it is possible that someone could take our ideas if we were to share them, here is why it is worth taking that risk, as demonstrated by Tesla, the American electric car corporation based in San Carlos, CA, when the co-founder and CEO, Elon Musk, announced in a Tesla blog post on June 12, 2014 that Tesla “will not initiate patent lawsuits against anyone who, in good faith, wants to use our technology.” In other words, Tesla is open to sharing its patents with other innovative individuals and companies.

Let’s start by debunking the myth of originality in terms of generating ideas. The best and most ground-breaking ideas are rarely generated by one individual. The eighteenth century politician, thinker, inventor, and scientist, Benjamin Franklin, is accredited with countless ideas, but it is common knowledge that he actually shared his ideas with others and built many of his ideas off of the ideas of others. Salons, invented first in 16th century Italy, were social gatherings meant to inspire creativity and invention through the power of conversation and sharing ideas aloud. This concept thrived for hundreds of years, sparking theories, ideas, and inventions that changed the world.

Tesla took a risk, a leap of faith full of risk. It risked losing shareholders and investors, reputation, and profit. However, it decided to take the risk head on and decided to allow for the possibility of even greater innovations, inventions, and improvements upon the already existing electric car patents with the goal of a greener world in mind. Already, Toyota and Daimler have used some Tesla ideas. Ideas require other ideas in order to grow, evolve, and adapt. If other companies and individuals build off of Tesla’s idea to share ideas, the world could be thinking and inventing as quickly as Benjamin Franklin and the guests of salons.

elon musk
www.gq-magazine.co.uk

Elon Musk, co-founder and CEO of Tesla.

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www.digitaltrends.com

The Tesla Model S.

Sources:Forbes (http://www.forbes.com/sites/greatspeculations/2014/06/16/what-tesla-stands-to-gain-from-sharing-its-patents/), Tesla (http://www.teslamotors.com/blog/all-our-patent-are-belong-you), Reuters (http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/06/12/us-tesla-patents-idUSKBN0EN23J20140612), NPR (http://www.npr.org/2012/03/19/148777350/how-creativity-works-its-all-in-your-imagination)

Thoughts On 50 Shades of Consent Deliberation

On Wednesday March 18 from 3:00-4:15pm in room seven of the Business Building, another Rhetoric and Civic Life class hosted a deliberation called “50 Shades of Consent.” The deliberation discussed the growing issue of sexual assault, particularly on college campuses like Penn State.

The deliberation began with the moderators briefly introducing themselves. There were too many people in the audience for it to feasibly introduce itself, so the moderators improvised and asked the audience to voluntarily introduce themselves. The audience was surprisingly eager to volunteer. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the members of the deliberation team as well as their professor eagerly participated in the deliberation which added much to the discussion and created a more casual flow to things. Speaking of casual, everyone, including the moderators and professor, was dressed casually which helped create that casual, relaxed atmosphere, but I think it’s always better to dress up rather than down, especially as a presenter.

The deliberation team did not use any notecards and seemed to really know what they were talking about which was refreshing for the audience. They wrote down on chalkboards the points people brought up throughout the discussion. The setup of the room was perfect. It was in room seven of the Business Building, as mentioned, and was set up in a semi-circular fashion with a podium at the front/bottom of the room and chalkboards behind the podium. The seats and desks were spacious and comfortable and their arrangement fostered communication, eye contact, and discussion. Instead of the entire deliberation team standing or sitting at the front of the room, each approach mini-team would take turns stepping up to the podium while the rest of the team sat and participated with the audience. I really liked this – it seemed professional and made good use of the available space. The approach teams asked good discussion questions and went even further by asking excellent follow-up questions to the discussion questions when the audience seemed a bit stumped. The deliberation teams were very calm and collected and this encouraged the audience to participate freely.

The content of each approach was relevant, insightful, and thought-provoking, and contributed to the larger building of a potential solution. Approach one discussed the subject of sexual assault from the aspect of offenders and how they should be punished and discouraged from perpetrating acts of sexual violence in the first place. Approach two broached the topic of education as a means of ending and preventing sexual violence perhaps in the form of a mandatory course or at least part of a course that would serve to educate students about sexual violence and its consequences. Approach three focused on the prevention of sexual violence on campus — Penn State has policies in place for dealing with sexual assaults after they take place, but none for preventing them.

Each approach did a good job of summarizing what had been suggested and discussed during each approach, and the summary not only recapped the deliberation, but tied it all together and put it towards the invention of a solution to the problem of sexual violence. I was highly impressed by the fluidity of this deliberation and wish it had happened before my own so I could have taken note of some helpful tips including how to moderate, where to situate ourselves, location, and preparedness. They did a good job, and we did too. I am impressed by the outcomes of both this deliberation and my own.

Passion [for positive people] Blogs — Giving Hope to Guatemala by Empowering Its Children

Jocotenango, Guatemala (CNN) — After decades of civil war, Guatemala continues to suffer greatly from poverty and violence. Guatemala’s homicide rate is the fifth highest in the world. Guatemalans made up 37% of the 57,000 unaccompanied children from Central America who attempted to flee to the United States and were caught since October 2014 — this number is higher than that of any other country, stated the Department of Health and Human Services. Many Guatemalan parents have no money and no prospects, leaving their children without hope or motivation. Crime, drugs, and gangs often become the only thing to turn to.

Romero Fuentes, now 30, became a teacher in his home town of Jocotenango at age 23. He then witnessed first-hand the hopelessness and disparagingly dim prospects of the children he taught. So he decided to go a step further.

With his parents’ permission, Fuentes converted the entire front part of his family home into a community center for children in the area. It began with him tutoring and mentoring several children after school. When word of the center spread, many more children from the community soon became a part of the program. Fuentes named his nonprofit Los Patojos, or, “the Little Ones.”

His center now offers free tutoring, classes, and one nutritional meal per day, a meal that is often the only one the children will see each day. Low-cost medical care is also available to the children and to more than 1,500 members of the community each year.

Classes take place in the main center which is covered in brightly painted murals and quotations. Some of the classes include dancing, juggling, theater, music, photography, and performances are often put on by children for other children. These classes are meant to inspire creativity, encourage passions to flourish, and give hope for a brighter future. There are also leadership seminars to instill values of “moral courage, social justice, and self-expression.” “We are raising them to be the future leaders of Guatemala,” Fuentes said.

The organization is currently in the process of building its own school, where approximately 250 students ranging from preschool to sixth grade could come to learn and grow, have their lives turned around, and be given the hope and knowledge necessary to build a brighter future for the for the current and future generations.

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CNN

Romero Fuentes stands proudly in front of the students of his nonprofit-turned-school, Los Patojos.

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CNN

Romero Fuentes spends some quality time with a few of his students who now not only have an education, a dependable daily meal, and a place to get away from the violence of the streets, but also the empowerment and hope to create a brighter future for themselves and generations to come.

Source: CNN (http://www.cnn.com/2014/07/31/world/cnnheroes-romero/index.html)

The Human Condition — Should Fire Be Fought With Fire?

Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan  — On February 24, 2015, Pakistan Rangers (an internal military security force) provided students of NED University of Engineering and Technology a day of self-defense training to prepare the students in the case of an emergency. The day was called a “day with Rangers” and took place at the Rangers Shooting and Saddle Club in Karachi, Pakistan. It was part of the Pakistani government’s measures to protect citizens by teaching them preventative measures such as emergency drills, self-defense, weapons training, bomb diffusion, and emergency medical assistance.

The training day took place not just for self-defense and emergency training, but also to chip away at the popularly held negative image of Pakistani Rangers as incompetent and corrupt. The training session helped to familiarize students on the role and importance of Rangers and their duties in society. Between 150 and 200 university students took part in the training session, and more sessions are planned for students at other Universities in Pakistan.

The goal of these training sessions is to protect and provide security to educational institutions because schools and universities are frequent terrorist targets. Last month, teachers in Kyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan were given firearms training and were permitted to have guns in the classroom following the December 2014 Taliban massacre at Peshawar’s Army Public School where 145 people (including 132 boys between ages eight and eighteen) were killed and over 130 injured. This was Pakistan’s largest and severest terrorist attack ever. Many pictures from the Ranger training day depict students being holding guns and receiving instructions on how to use them. However, a spokesperson from the Rangers made clear that the students’ training was far from limited to firearm instruction and that the guns students practiced with were strictly laser guns.

However, this Ranger training day and the firearms training of Pakistani teachers has sparked a heated controversy that hearkens back to disagreements over American Second Amendment rights as well as the age-old question of whether or not violence is the answer. Currently, some Second Amendment rights advocates argue that concealed weapons should be permitted and encouraged on American college campuses as a form of protection. Others refute that this would engender even more violence and that guns should just be banned entirely.

In the case of Pakistani self-defense mechanisms, some argue that Pakistani students and teachers should not be armed for several reasons. They argue that it could be even more dangerous and that the number of weapons should be reduced, not increased. They think that the weapons could pose even more of a threat of danger to students and teachers, and some argue that it is the responsibility of the Pakistani government, and not its citizens, to provide security and protection. There is a shortage of Pakistani police, and many, including some of the teachers who are now allowed to carry guns into school, say that more police should be hired and teachers should be allowed to teach; they make the point that an armed classroom setting will create an atmosphere that is scary and not conducive to learning for the students who have to see their teachers strapped with intimidating weapons. Other opponents think that resources should be spent on improving education and not on building an armory.

On the other hand, the opposition argues that the training and arming of students and teachers is an imperative safety and self-defense measure that must be taken. They reflect upon the previously mentioned Taliban massacre on the Peshawar Army Public School. These proponents of self-defense recognize that the arming of teachers and students might not be pleasant, but that it is necessary in the dire and dangerous situation that faces Pakistan. Some make clear that they wish these steps had been taken earlier in order to prevent the loss of life in tragedies such as the Peshawar Massacre.

While guns might not make sense on American campuses, it is important to see the issue from the Pakistani point of view. The country is under constant threat of deadly terrorism from the outside, and educational institutions are particular targets. This issue puts matters into perspective for both sides of the Second Amendment rights issue. Perhaps those who advocate guns on American campuses will see that compared to Pakistan, guns would be somewhat frivolous and problematic for American students and teachers, and perhaps those that denounce the presence of weapons on college campuses will understand the necessity of such on campuses in Pakistan.

However, the deepest question at hand is that of violence or nonviolence. Can fire be fought with fire? It can be concluded that that answer to that question is situational. If fire, or in this case, firearms in the arms of teachers, could have saved the lives of the 145 young boys and educators who were murdered in the Peshawar Massacre, perhaps some fires must be fought with fire. Guns might not always make sense in the United States, but in Pakistan, they may be imperative to the survival of not just educational institutions, but also those inside them.

Source: Dawn.com (http://www.dawn.com/news/1165846, http://www.dawn.com/news/1159796)

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Dawn.com

A student of NED University of Engineering and Technology in Karachi, Pakistan receives self-defense training from Pakistani Rangers.

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Dawn.com

Pakistani teachers receive firearm training and are now permitted to carry firearms into school with them following a massive, deadly attack on a Pakistani school in December 2014.

 

Passion [for positive people] Blog — Transforming Masai Warriors into Lion Guardians

CNN — Leela Hazzah spent summer nights lying on the roof of her family home in Egypt, listening. Her family told her stories of their childhoods when they would lie on the same rooftop and hear lions roaring. So she listened, but never heard the roars. Her family sadly told her that lions had long since become extinct in Egypt. From that moment on, Hazzah, now 35, was inspired to devote her life to the conservation of lions in Africa.

Hazzah stated that 60 years ago, there were more than 500,000 lions in Africa. Now, there are only 30,000 lions in all of Africa. So Hazzah moved to Kenya to live among the Maasai in order to understand why they were killing so many lions. Maasai warriors receive much prestige based on how many lions they kill, and the first lion killed serves as a sort of initiation rite. Also, Maasai populations rely heavily upon their livestock, and when livestock are hunted or disappear, Maasai often retaliate and kill lions.

After living with the Maasai for a while, they began to open up and tell her stories, broadening her understanding of their love-hate relationship with the lions. They dislike the lions because of the threat they pose to their livestock, but admire them because of their undeniable beauty. So Hazzah, backed by a doctorate in environmental studies, began her nonprofit, Lion Guardians, which employs 65 Maasai Guardians throughout East Africa for about $100 per month to monitor and protect lions, thus lowering the number of lions killed. They often put their own lives at risk by intervening other would-be lion attackers in order to conserve the lion population.

Hazzah’s organization trains the Maasai Guardians how to use the technology used to track and monitor the lions, as well as how to read and write since most of the Guardians come to Hazzah illiterate. If a Guardian hears about an impending lion hunt, he will intervene and help the people understand the importance of conserving the lions, one of the reasons being the tourism and consequent jobs that lions bring to the Maasai.

Becoming a Lion Guardian brings even more prestige to Maasai than killing lions. They learn to read and write, how to use the necessary technology, and about the lions they are devoted to protecting. The program has proved to by 99% effective in preventing the killing of lions, particularly in the Amboseli region of Kenya. Hazzah said, “I know we’re making a difference. When I first moved here, I never heard lions roaring. Now, I hear lions roaring all the time.”

To learn more, see the Lion Guardians website at www.lionguardians.org.

Source: CNN (http://www.cnn.com/2014/07/24/world/cnnheroes-hazzah/index.html)

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CNN

Here, Leela Hazzah stands with one of the 65 Maasai Lion Guardians in East Africa.

lion guardians
CNN

Leela Hazzah and some Lion Guardians track the lions they are protecting.

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