Category Archives: Animal Issues

As Frigid Temperatures set in, Congressman McGovern and Massachusetts Delegation Call for Immediate Release of Vital Home Heating Assistance Funding

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Jim at Monte’s March Against Hunger – Western Mass

200,000 Massachusetts families depend on the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) each year!

As a brutal winter storm bears down on the Northeast, Congressman Jim McGovern and the Massachusetts Congressional delegation today called for the immediate release of as much as possible of the remaining 10 percent of Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funds for this fiscal year.

Nationwide, LIHEAP helps low-income households, veterans and seniors pay their energy bills during the cold winter months.

The Department of Energy forecasts that consumers across the Northeast will have to pay significantly more to heat their homes this winter.

Families heating their homes with heating oil are anticipated to pay 21 percent more this winter. In the Northeast, families using natural gas or propane are projected to pay roughly 10 percent more than last year, and it will cost families heating with electricity nearly three and a half percent more.

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Worcester three deckers. pics:
Rose T.

“Families in our state are in desperate need of the remaining LIHEAP funds to combat the deadly combination of sustained cold weather and high fuel prices,” write McGovern and the lawmakers in their letter.

They continue: “No family should have to choose between paying their energy bills or paying for other necessities, such as food or medicine during dangerously cold days, but a lack of additional LIHEAP funds means that thousands of families may soon have to face these terrible choices.”

Joining McGovern on the letter are Senators Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren, and Representatives Richard Neal, Michael Capuano, Stephen F. Lynch, Niki Tsongas, William Keating, Joseph P. Kennedy III, Katherine Clark and Seth Moulton

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Full text of the letter:

January 4, 2018

Mr. Eric D. Hargan, Acting Secretary and Deputy Secretary
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
200 Independence Avenue, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20201

Dear Acting Secretary Hargan:

We are facing a home heating crisis in Massachusetts and the Northeast this winter. As families in Massachusetts face sustained low temperatures and high fuel prices this winter, we write to urge you to immediately release as much of the remaining 10 percent of Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funds for this fiscal year as possible.

LIHEAP funding is indispensable to families in Massachusetts and across the United States during these frigid winter months, including seniors, children and individuals with disabilities. The program provides a crucial public safety and health service for millions of households across the country and hundreds of thousands in Massachusetts. Families in the Commonwealth will soon confront a home heating emergency as LIHEAP funds are exhausted while extreme cold weather continues to strike the region.

Families in the Northeast are also facing heating fuel prices that are significantly higher than last winter. No family should have to choose between paying their energy bills or paying for other necessities such as food or medicine during dangerously cold days, but a lack of additional LIHEAP funds means that thousands of families may soon have to face these terrible choices.

Because of the frigid cold combined with higher fuel prices, the Department of Energy (DOE) forecasts that consumers across the Northeast will have to pay significantly more to heat their homes this winter. Families heating their homes with heating oil are anticipated to pay 21 percent more this winter.

In the Northeast, families using natural gas or propane are projected to pay roughly 10 percent more than last year and it will cost families heating with electricity nearly three and a half percent more.

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LIHEAP funds are quickly running out in Massachusetts. Families in our state are in desperate need of the remaining LIHEAP funds to combat the deadly combination of sustained cold weather and high fuel prices.

We urge you to immediately release as much of the remaining funding in the LIHEAP account as possible to help families in Massachusetts and across the country as we approach a home heating emergency this winter.

Sincerely,

Where’s the bottom?

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Cece. “President” Donald Trump, a soulless germaphobe, has notoriously broken with tradition – there’s no dog, not even a solitary cat! (except for himself!!) in the White House! – Rose T.

FYI:

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By Edith Morgan

How did we get to this point, waiting daily for another shoe to drop in the never-ending parade of distortions, lies, “walk-backs” and ”I forgot” statements? I thought we had hit rock bottom when the election results came in last November and Trump won the electoral college. But then we were treated to the daily shocks of watching, as one after another, persons were appointed to his Cabinet – people who had zero experience or knowledge in the field they were to lead and in several instances had said they wanted to eliminate their department.

I always thought that in order to head up a huge bureaucracy with specific tasks to perform that at least I could expect a modicum of background knowledge and even expertise and experience in the field. I have not always agreed with those who have been elected to govern us, but at least I believed they would listen to we the people and actually support our Constitution. While they may on occasion have favored their friends, they did not have their hands deep in my pockets and did not enrich themselves at the public trough.

Now all that has changed: Donald Trump TOLD us during the campaign that he would make major changes; that rules and laws did not apply to him, that he was not accountable to us and that he would do all that he promised by himself. He surrounded himself with people who were required to flatter him, display absolute loyalty and carry out the dismantling of our social safety net (even though he had told us he would make it all better).

In the 76 years that I have lived in the U.S. never has lying, emotional excess, greed at the expense of others brought about the resurgence of all that I thought we had overcome, or at least progressed up from. But now I find myself daily dreading the news out of Washington: the party of Abraham Lincoln is now headed by a man who boasts that he grabs women where and when he wishes, a man who boasted that he would get rich off the Presidency, a man who has affronted the leaders of every democratic nation with which he has been in contact – and who has only good things to say about the dictator of Russia.

Not only did Trump actually tell us he planned to do these horrific things, but he proceeded to surround himself with people who would carry out theses nefarious aims.

Trump has played into all the worst prejudices in us and, despite the fact that most of the American public is dissatisfied, he is nevertheless getting much of what he wants: He got his Supreme Court Justice, is appointing judges (for life!!) to key positions, and dismantling key agencies under the Executive Branch by simply not hiring needed personnel – and letting loose a barrage of name-calling whenever things do not go his way.

What is to become of the America I used to know?

Kudos to Scotland!🐱🐱🎄

From PETA.ORG:

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Mr. Lion!😉

By “Dan”

PETA commends Scotland for becoming the first country in the UK to ban wild-animal circuses.

A public consultation, which took place in 2015, found that an overwhelming 98 per cent of respondents supported a ban.

Following this consultation, more than 13,000 PETA supporters contacted the Scottish government, asking it to follow through by introducing the ban as soon as possible.

On 5 October 2017, the bill passed the first stage of voting in the Scottish Parliament. In May 2017, Scotland became the first country in the UK to introduce legislation banning wild-animal circuses.

And on 20 December 2017, members of the Scottish Parliament unanimously voted to pass the Wild Animals in Travelling Circuses (Scotland) Bill.

Captivity is a living hell for animals such as tigers and lions, and a circus environment can’t possibly meet their complex needs.

These animals understandably become frustrated, stressed, and depressed from a lifetime of being denied everything that’s natural and important to them, kept caged in trailers that are hauled around the country, and forced to perform confusing tricks under the big top for some Victorian-era sense of entertainment.

Let’s hope the progress in Holyrood serves to light a fire under the government in Westminster, which, despite years of promising to bring in such a ban, continues to sit back and do nothing as England falls further and further behind the growing number of countries putting a stop to these cruel exhibits.

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And to all you procrastinating Santa’s out there: Make your last-minute holiday gifts cruelty-free!! – Rose T.

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Christmas 🎶🎄 toy give-away at the South Worcester Neighborhood Center🎅!

Text and photos by Ron O’Clair

The South Worcester Neighborhood Center held its annual Christmas toy give-away yesterday so that needy children in South Worcester could be assured of having gifts under their Christmas Trees this Christmas!

The toys were generously donated by many groups and individuals including: The Toys for Tots program of the United States Marine Corps Reserve; many local churches, including St. Mathew’s, Hadwen Park and Sacred Heart; various local businesses and non-profits, such as Fallon Community Health, Polar Corporation, Mass Save … and even local residents!

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There were 700 children served this year, as opposed to the 610 served last year. Each parent received a two-pack of LED bulbs to lower the cost of their electricity bills whilst brightening up their homes for the holidays – sponsored by Mass Save.

There were five brand new bicycles provided by the Toys for Tots program of the United States Marine Corps Reserve that were put on raffle so that each child had a fair chance of winning a bicycle, as there were understandably not enough bikes for each child.

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SWNC Executive Director Ron Charette decided the fairest way of distributing the bicycles was to hold a Raffle – which was a huge success.

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Here’s SWNC board member Nancy LaFlash seated in the office near one of the neighborhood center’s Christmas Trees.

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Mrs. Santa! Ron’s wife, Virginia Charette, behind her desk in the office.

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Jolly Elf Kimberly Hastings, who works at SWNC, and SWNC super terrific volunteer Jose! They’re standing in front of the other two Christmas Trees decorating the center, located on Camp Street.

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Here’s the Christmas Tree decorating the stage in the main hall area of SWNC, where the gifts were displayed.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO ALL!
🎅🎄❄⛄🎁⛪🎄🎅🎹💜⛄🐱❄🎶

Mall holiday animal “displays” are on Santa’s🎅 naughty list!!😢😢

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By Jennifer O’Connor

Most brick-and-mortar retailers are feeling the squeeze of e-commerce, so getting shoppers off their devices and into the mall is priority number one. Yet, instead of offering fresh promotions to entice customers this holiday season, some malls are still resorting to displaying reindeer outside the food court or forcing beleaguered horses to haul carriages in the parking lot.

Today’s consumers are becoming more informed about the cruelty behind such animal displays, so it’s little wonder that malls across America are going dark.

Rudolph is a beloved movie character, but real-life reindeer don’t want to pull sleighs. In their natural environment, they live in large social herds and migrate over vast distances. They rely on their numbers for protection from predators and can run up to 50 miles an hour. Being bred in captivity doesn’t make all their instincts disappear like Santa’s cookies on Christmas Eve.

Businesses that rent out reindeer haul them from venue to venue, sometimes traveling for hours on end, subjecting these sensitive and skittish animals to harsh artificial lighting, blaring holiday music and groping hands.

Shoppers’ health may also be at risk. Reindeer can harbor tetanus, leptospirosis, Lyme disease, rabies, warts, tapeworms and ringworm. Nothing ruins a Christmas outing like a trip to the E.R.

And it’s hard to spin a carriage ride dodging traffic on slush-filled streets as nostalgic, so why do shopping centers and community associations still offer them? Horses don’t react well to unexpected noises. Havoc can ensue from something as common as a car horn or a distracted driver.

Last year, two horses pulling a carriage during a neighborhood Christmas light display got spooked and took off running for a mile with 15 passengers on board, mostly children.

The carriage eventually crashed, and the driver later died of his injuries. A year earlier, a Maine woman riding in a horse-drawn carriage had died after being critically injured when a car crashed into her on Christmas Day. Six other people were also injured.

The carriage driver told reporters, “I’m always worried about [crashing]. People fly by us like we weren’t there.”

Other mercenary promotions include camel rides and photo booths with tiger cubs. Forced to plod in endless circles or passed from one shopper to the next, these animals can quickly become exhausted and stressed.

For most people, the holiday season means a jam-packed schedule. But surely we can spare a thought for animals and how strange, stressful and frightening it is to them to be hauled around the country and exposed to noisy crowds.

Children don’t learn to respect animals or learn anything meaningful about them when they see them outside a food court or slogging across an icy parking lot.

Instead, they get the harmful message that animals can be forced to do whatever we want, as if they were nothing more than props or equipment.

Parents and grandparents can and must explain to their little ones why reindeer belong in the wild – not in the mall.

We should all open our eyes to the cruelty lurking behind the ribbons and bows and pledge not to support it. Goodwill should extend to everyone, including animals!

This holiday season and ALWAYS: No hungry children! In Worcester! In America! In the world!

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pics: J.C.

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What is SNAP?

SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, is the program formerly known as food stamps. It is a federal nutrition program that helps you stretch your food budget and buy healthy food.

SNAP benefits can be used to purchase food at grocery stores, convenience stores, and some farmers’ markets and co-op food programs.

SNAP benefits are given to you each month on a plastic card called an EBT (electronic benefits transfer) card, which works like a debit card.

SNAP is a nutrition program. It is not a cash welfare program.

How do I apply for SNAP in Massachusetts?

First, find out if you are eligible.

For most Families and Individuals your assets will not count toward your eligibility.

· Households may have $2,250 in countable resources, such as a bank account, or $3,500 in countable resources if at least one person is age 60 or older, or is disabled.

· Certain assets are NOT counted, such as a home and lot, personal belongings and cars

Income Limits for Families:

Gross Monthly Categorical Eligibility Income Standards (effective 2/1/2017)

Assistance Unit Size 200% of Federal Poverty Level

1 $ 2010

2 2707

3 3403

4 4100

5 4797

6 5493

7 6190

8 6887

For each additional member Add 697

Gross income means a household’s total, non-excluded income, before any deductions have been made. Net income means gross income minus allowable deductions.

If you are eligible:

1. Apply for SNAP

Over the phone: call Project Bread’s FoodSource Hotline at 1-800-645-8333 to start an application over the phone, or have an application sent to you through the mail.
By mail or fax: find links
to fill-able PDFs and Word documents to download and complete on the DTA website.

Completed applications can be mailed to: DTA, PO BOX 4406, Taunton, MA, 02780-9975 or faxed to 617-887-8765.

Apply online: use the Mass.gov Virtual Gateway to apply online.
In person: visit your local DTA office.

2. Participate in an interview

Once your application has been received, a DTA caseworker will call you to conduct an interview over the phone. Your caseworker is the person you will work with and send updates to until your application is complete.

3. Submit verifications

You can submit verifications with your application or separately. You have 30 days to submit these documents to your DTA. (see list below)

You can mail copies (do not send originals) of the verifications, fax them, or bring them to your local DTA office. If you mail or fax the verifications be sure to include your name and the last four number of your social security number on each of the documents. Verifications should be sent to:

PO Box 4406
Taunton, MA 02760-9975
FAX NUMBER: 617-887-8765.

**There is also now a new way to send verifications via the DTA Connect Apps: https://www.mass.gov/service-details/learn-about-the-dta-connect-app

DTA

To be eligible for expedited benefits, you must meet one of these three criteria:

Income and money in the bank add up to less than the monthly housing expenses

Monthly income is less than $150, and money in the bank is less than $100

The applicant is a migrant worker, and money in the bank is less than $100

Documents you will need to provide

1. Proof of Identity: Driver’s license, birth certificate or other proof of your identity.

2. Proof of Massachusetts Residence: Current rent receipt, lease, mortgage statement, tax document, homeowner’s insurance or utility bills. If you are homeless, a motor vehicle registration, statement from a shelter, from the person you are staying with temporarily, or a verbal or written confirmation from someone we can contact who knows your situation.

3. Earned Income: Pay stubs or written statement from employer on letterhead showing income before taxes for the past four weeks.

4. Other Income: Most recent copy of Social Security check or copy of award letter, proof of unemployment compensation, workers’ compensation, pension, child support or alimony.

5. Self-Employment: Most recent federal tax return (Schedule C Form) or last three months of business records.

6. Rental Income: If you get paid by someone who rents a room or apartment from you, a copy of the lease agreement or statement from your tenant showing the amount of rent paid.

7. Noncitizen Status: For all non-US citizens applying for SNAP benefits, alien registration card or other immigration document.

8. Child Support Payments: If you make child support payments to someone not living with you, show proof of the legal obligation to make the payment, such as a court order, tax returns showing legally obligated support payments, verification of withholding from unemployment compensation, and the amount paid.

Things you may provide, if they apply to you, to receive higher SNAP benefits. SNAP rules allow you to deduct certain expenses from your countable income.

1. Housing Costs: rent receipt or mortgage statement, real estate taxes or homeowners’ insurance bill.

2. Utilities: home heating oil, gas, electricity, telephone (including cell phones), or other utility expenses such as garbage disposal, wood or coal

3. Child Care or Adult Dependent Care Expenses in-home or out-of-home care

4. Medical Expenses: If you or anyone in your household is age 60 or older or has a certified disability, out-of-pocket medical expenses must be verified with receipts for co-payments or premiums on health insurance, or receipts for dentures, eyeglasses, hearing aids, hearing aid batteries, prescription medications, doctor-prescribed pain relievers or over-the-counter drugs, and transportation to get to and from medical services.

To obtain more information about the program and to apply go to:

https://www.mass.gov/snap-benefits-food-stamps

http://www.gettingsnap.org/homepage.html

Thanks to the Worcester Department of Transitional Assistance Area Office for their help in compiling this information

Well, I’ll be a Monkey’s Uncle … Naruto Is PETA’s Person of the Year!🎼🎹🎶💿💜

From PETA.ORG:

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Naruto’s selfie!

By Michelle Kretzer

PETA awards its annual “Person of the Year” distinction to an individual whose significant contributions have helped propel the animal rights movement forward.

For that reason, we’re pleased to announce that this year’s honoree is Naruto, a crested black macaque and the creator of the famous “monkey selfie.”

When he picked up the camera and — without the aid of the camera’s owner — took several photos of himself making different faces, he created pictures that showed a sentient individual capable of rational thought, learning, planning and emotion.

These are pictures of someone, not something. His photography did more to expand the concept of “personhood” to include nonhuman animals than any human person has done.

While Naruto’s image was making its way across the internet and around the world, the camera’s owner, David Slater, was the only one reaping the financial rewards.

U.S. law states that the creator of an image owns the copyright, and Naruto — without any assistance or prompting — chose to press the shutter, making the connection between the sound of its release when he pushed it and the change in his reflection in the lens, and created a variety of photos of himself.

We believe that under federal law, he should be the rightful owner of his intellectual property and that the profits from its sale should go toward protecting his species and their threatened habitat. Thus, PETA sued on his behalf.

It was the first-ever lawsuit that sought to declare a nonhuman animal the owner of property, rather than being considered merely a piece of property.

And after a two-year battle, the case resulted in a landmark settlement. Mr. Slater agreed to donate 25 percent of the future revenue from Naruto’s photographs to organizations focused on protecting crested black macaques in Indonesia and preserving their habitat. The settlement set a precedent that may encourage other wildlife photographers to support the rights of the animals whose images they use.

As a Person of the Year, Naruto is in good company — past recipients of the award include Pope Francis, Oprah, and Bill Clinton.

PETA is accepting pre-orders for a limited edition shirt in his honor with proceeds being used to help rescue monkeys and other wild animals from roadside zoos, traveling shows, and other captive animal displays.

CLICK HERE to buy a tee!

Congratulations to PETA’s 2017 Person of the Year!!

******Animals are so curious, so aware! 💜Cece🐈 and Lilac 🌃⛄💜:

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HAPPY HOLIDAYS from EPOCA!

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pics: R.T.

Hello all,

I am writing to you all to express thanks for all you have contributed toward ending Mass Incarceration.

I want to wish you all Happy Holidays and a Happy, Safe and productive New Year.

At this time I have an ask of you all. EPOCA has committed to purchasing presents for over 150 children of incarcerated men and woman.

There has been an increase in need for assistance as single parents, due to incarceration and low-paying jobs, are feeling the economic pinch.

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So, I am asking you all for a donation of a small gift, [which can be dropped off at our office at 4 King St., Worcester] …

… and/or a small donation by check or through a credit card using our paypal button located on our website – exprisoners.org

It is not the receiving of a material item/gift on the holidays that we are striving to achieve as much as it is the relief, joy, happiness and feelings of inclusion that will be seen on both the child and the parents faces as they open their gifts.

It is truly tough times for these folks.

So Please, assist us through your donations, if you are able to afford to do so.

Thank you for your consideration.

Respectfully,

Kevin Lynch
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