Tag Archives: Worcester

“Trump will hold a gun violence ‘listening session’ with high-school students [today] …

“… and meet with state and local officials tomorrow. …”

– NYMAG.COM

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When it comes to eradicating gun violence in America, we don’t expect determination, empathy, leadership or vision from our fat, burger-scarfing Blowhard In Chief. We don’t expect anything of substance to be burped up by the Cowardly, Cowed Congress. But we CAN EXPECT GREAT THINGS FROM AMERICAN KIDS! They are demanding a new day in America – and they’ll get it. Because the future is theirs.

Some view points that shed light:
– Rose T.

Mother Nature Still Packs a Wallop

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Winter time: the view from Edith’s front porch. pics: R.T.

By Edith Morgan

I stayed up late one Worcester winter evening, at the cusp of a winter storm, waiting to see the first snowflake come twirling down. The early snow is always small and light flakes, rather hesitant and unsure about where to land and stay. We expected things to pick up during the night, but there was really just a dusting, hardly worth anything but a sweeping of walks and dusting off the car. But after that early inch, Winter Storm Grayson moved in on us, and lived up to his label as a real “Nor’easter.”

I do not know where the Grayson name originated, but I will remember Grayson, the first real storm of our new year, and so much earlier than I had expected (We think of February as the month of storms). We had been spared pretty much last year, so we were due: I had visions of a repeat of the previous winter, when I could look out my kitchen window at a smooth blanket of snow covering everything from my kitchen window right over to my neighbor’s porch – smooth and dimple-free and perfect – as yet unmarred by the marks of shovels and tiny footfalls of squirrels, birds, and perhaps an occasional adventuresome outdoor pet cat.

The blizzard named Grayson hit us here amid very cold temperatures, so the snow stayed pure and powdery and was not sticky enough to cling to branches or wires. But we are always prepared: Power outages are always a threat. We think we have it all covered: Should the power go out, we still have our in-the-wall gas heaters, ancient as they are, which do not require electricity; we have a gas stove downstairs, which requires electricity only to light the burners, but which can be lit by a match. And if all else fails, we have a small roomful of well-seasoned wood for our wood stove, which looks so small but can put out a great deal of heat and look so comforting on a cold night. And, of course, the many candles we got for Christmas will burn for many hours, giving off the fragrance of apples, cinnamon and fir.

My husband Guy and I took precautions, too: We shopped for essentials, have enough of our prescriptions on hand, and wear as many as three layers of clothes – high neck turtle necks, with long sleeves, sweaters, vests, and jackets – and always the knot caps to hold in the heat that escapes through our heads. And then we wait. Good time for reading, watching movies, and drinking hot chocolate. The plows go up and down the street, usually burying my car, parked at the corner.

This is a time when neighbors come out and help each other. We are both 87, my husband and I, and shoveling is increasingly out of the question, especially for him, since his heart attack. But we have great help here, and as I look out at my car, a day after Grayson buried us, I can see my car standing free and clear, and totally brushed off and ready to go. So many of our houses were built before the multi-car families came and have no driveways or garages, so on-street parking is still needed for some of us.

The mail has come every day so far, undaunted by winds of nearly 50 miles an hour, and even our newspaper is at last finding its way onto the porch. After several winters of having to hunt for it in snowdrifts and even on the porch roof, (where it stayed and became a pulpy mess when we finally retrieved it) I can now get it daily without risking life and limb seeking it in snowdrifts.

Once in a while we entertain the seditious thought of becoming “snowbirds,” but we stay here and meet the challenge laid down by Mother Nature and enjoy the benefits of the ever changing scene, with four REAL seasons: the tender greens of spring, the great colorful panorama of blooms in summer, and the glorious displays of native trees in the fall. And it is not the same every year: I think some bushes and trees take a little time off every other year and recoup, only to burst into greater profusion the next year. Was it a good year for tomatoes last year? Then maybe it will be a good year for roses this year. Who knows?! Anyway, we can dream as we stay safely indoors and look at the seed catalogs that have begun to arrive.

I make my regular pilgrimage out to the bird feeder, to help the hardy stay-at–homes; and every day the squirrels get a treat of cubed old bread smeared with peanut butter.

Today the sky is deceptively clear blue – and the bare branches of the maples sway gently in the wind; it all looks so benign from inside; but a couple of minutes outside are enough to frost the fingers, even inside gloves.

Anyone who still thinks that we can master Mother Nature must have gotten the message that we are NOT in charge. The pictures of high tide pushing a wall of seawater up onto the streets of Boston, to mix with the ice and snow floes already there, must have gotten the message that “you don’t mess with Mother Nature.”
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Edith and Guy set up this table for their grandkids during Valentine’s Day week.

And so, I continue to enjoy the pure and silencing beauty of this blanket over us, safely ensconced in our home, with Wassail and cookies to enjoy between meals, while the elements do their worst out there. And we hope that everyone has found a safe haven to ride out winter …

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How being black and vegan honors my ancestors’ struggle

By Zachary Toliver

Somewhere along the line, while getting through this thing called life, I came across these words by the late, great Maya Angelou and turned them into a personal mantra: “I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.”

I’ve relied heavily on this quote for personal development. It’s helped me choose where to spend my money and how to treat other human beings, and yes, practicing these words has a lot to do with why I’m vegan. Once I understood that just like humans, chickens, pigs, cows and all other animals feel pain, experience fear and value their own lives, I banned dead animal parts from my life. I knew better, so — for animals — I did better.

However, black vegans certainly “do better” for more than animals. No matter if I’m recognizing Black History Month, an ordinary April or even National Doughnut Day, I understand that I’m only here because of my ancestors and the struggles they endured — and I owe every one of them my best, to honor their legacies.

Right now, America in general, but African Americans in particular, face a health crisis. According to the American Heart Association, Black Americans are disproportionately affected by obesity and more likely to have diabetes than their white counterparts. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that African Americans have nearly double the risk of dying early from heart disease and strokes as whites.

These aren’t arbitrary statistics. My own father — who eats a stacked plate of ribs for a meal — struggles with diabetes. Most people can hardly understand my grandmother when she speaks due to multiple strokes. My uncle Harrison prided himself on his signature mustard and collard greens with ham hock, and he also died of heart disease. These are all links in my ancestral lineage ravaged by an unhealthy diet.

It’s a shame when folks mistake slave food for soul food. “Foods” like chitlins (animal intestines) or hog maw (pig stomach), lard and pigs’ feet harm our bodies. Our enslaved ancestors had to consume these disgusting body parts to survive horrifying atrocities and in no way could they “do better.” Here in the 21st century, however, there’s zero excuse. Consuming sickness and filth is not our true heritage and should not represent blackness.

These types of culinary dishes — which were given to us as scraps by our oppressors and later hijacked African-American culture — kill us. So I do better. A vegan diet reduces the risks of heart disease, obesity, strokes and diabetes. And trust me, vegan soul food is alive and well. I still eat greens, fried “chicken,” gumbo and sweet potato pie just like I did growing up. We can still have all the flavors we crave without the death, suffering and disease that come with eating animals.

Living as a black vegan is a practice in “sankofa” — a traditional West African term that reminds us to learn from our roots in order to move forward.

For this Black History Month — and beyond — if we really want to honor our brothers and sisters, we must strive to be our healthiest, greatest, most compassionate selves.

An opposing view …

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photo by Ron O’Clair

By Ron O’Clair

One of our Founding Fathers, Benjamin Franklin, said many things that were profound and prove to be full of wisdom still in our time. He said: “Make yourself sheep and the wolves will eat you” and “Those that would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither Liberty nor safety.”

A contemporary of his, acknowledged as the Founding Father, George Washington, said, “Firearms stand next in importance to the Constitution itself.”

A more modern U.S. President – John F. Kennedy – said: “Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past, let us accept our own responsibility for the future.”

These quotations come from some brilliant and civic-minded leaders, right out of our American History and experience. They seem to resonate with the problems we are facing today in America.

We just had another American school massacre, another in a long line of senseless acts of violence perpetrated against the citizenry with malice aforethought on the part of the perpetrator of the criminal act. He ended the lives of 17 people in Parkland, Florida, as well as wounding many more.

It is patently obvious to do nothing is not an answer. Our society has become seemingly filled with hatred and disrespect for the law, giving rise to many different hate groups advocating for the repeal of the Second Amendment and a nationwide gun confiscation program similar to what took place in Australia in 1996.

There are many who believe if you deprive the people of their guns, that these incidents of violence would simply disappear overnight. They are not taking into consideration that firearms overlooked during the “great gun grab” would be in the hands of those very people who fail to comply with the laws already on the books regulating the use of private firearms primarily in self-defense.

You would then have individuals and groups of individuals who are armed with weapons hidden from confiscation preying on an unarmed populace of law-abiding citizens who could no longer effectively defend their homes from armed intruders intent on robbery, rape and murder.

The very knowledge that the occupants would most likely be disarmed would only serve to further embolden the law breakers intent on acts of violence against law abiding citizens whom they believe have no firearms to protect their families with. When you outlaw guns, only outlaws will have guns. This itself is a scary proposition. If you are unable to summon the police, you are then at the mercy of the merciless.

History is replete with examples of what can happen in such cases, starting with the Ottoman Empire in Turkey from 1915-1917, the Soviet Union from 1929-1945, Nazi Germany and occupied Europe from 1933-1945, China Nationalist 1927-1949 and Red China from 1949-1952, 1957-1960, and 1966-1976. Guatemala 1960-1961, Uganda 1971-1979, Cambodia (Khmer Rouge) 1975-1979, Rwanda 1994.

In the above cases of gun confiscation, nearly one BILLION people were subsequently killed by their own government after their primary means of protection were taken from them in the guise of “better safety.”

Were “We the People” to allow our Second Amendment right to be encroached upon and ultimately eliminated, due to the hysteria following events such as this latest tragic loss of life in another of our schools, there is a very good possibility that “We the People” would be subjected to increasing “police state” tactics from our own government, as well as be at the mercy of roving gangs of law breakers armed to the teeth to pillage the populace without fear of retaliation from the victims who voluntarily disarmed themselves in the name of “temporary safety.”

We have seen the folly of “Prohibition” with alcohol with the intention of making our society “better” without the “violence” spawned out of drunkenness caused by excessive alcohol consumption. This gave rise to armed gangs of criminals profiteering off the demand for alcohol and the ensuing “disrespect for authority” that resulted when a significant proportion of our population opposed to the law allied themselves with law breakers.

The same thing happened when the “Drug War” attempted to prohibit illegal consumption of marijuana, cocaine, heroin and many other illegal substances being used by a significant proportion of the populace. It caused further “disrespect for authority” on the part of the people who feel that drugs should be decriminalized and made available for use, abuse and sales.

Depriving law-abiding citizens of their right to bear arms would be the true beginning of the end of America as envisioned by our Founding Fathers. Doing nothing is not the answer. Repealing the Second Amendment would be worse than that. We must find a better solution. We must do something. We can’t expect this problem to just go away by itself.

Comments? Email Ronald O’Clair at ronaldoclair@hotmail.com

Unexpected Results?

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America – gotta love her, she’s ours. pic: R.T.

By Edith Morgan

Sometimes, more often than not, actions have results that are the opposite from what is intended. For instance, the bunch that is in control of our Congress seems to still cling to the notion that women belong in the kitchen, and the only house they should be in is their own home. But finally it looks as if the continued assault on women in all areas has awakened enough of us to create a groundswell of opposition in America, something which has not up to now happened as we bewailed happenings, pleaded and prayed and begged – but did not take concerted action.

Now it looks as if we have finally HAD IT!! Millions of marchers, letter-writers, callers, phoners, tweeters and other activists seem at last to have realized that all those activities are only preliminaries. While they are very annoying to the powerful, they are not enough.

Recently, a friend gave me a copy of Time magazine – there is a montage of the faces of some of the women who are doing something that was very rare before Donald Trump’s rise to power: They are everywhere in the United States running for all sorts offices. Local, state and national political office – and they have begun to win!

We here in Massachusetts have been very fortunate: We have not suffered from the gerrymandered take-over by the Neanderthal right. We have maintained our social services, our schools and our public places as well as we could under the assault from President Trump and Washington. And we have fielded some really outstanding public servants, male and female, who fight for us all the time.

But in many other states, the people have not been so well represented. The allegedly apathetic voters have finally had enough, and women all over the country are running for office.

It is easy enough to get involved: for example, here in Massachusetts it is “caucus time” for the Democrats – and this year (on June 1 and 2) the state Democratic Convention is meeting in Worcester. It’s a great opportunity for Worcester to make its voice heard: each ward will hold a caucus in the next several weeks, and all registered Democrats are eligible to run to be elected as delegates to the convention from their ward.

It is a wonderful opportunity to meet all the candidates, hear them, and speak with members of various groups who have tables and displays at the convention. I understand the Republicans will also hold their convention here. Later on. If you are not prepared to run yourself, being a delegate is a good way to “get your feet wet.”

It is a good way to connect with others who share political views, too, and decide how active you want to be.

I am very hopeful that the alleged apathy of the voters is at last coming to an end and that women – the REAL silent majority – have at last realized the power of numbers. And of the ballot.

Thoughts on yet another school slaughter

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Edith and her husband, Guy. pic: R.T.

By Edith Morgan

When is it enough, at last?

What a way to celebrate Valentine’s Day!! – with yet another mass murder of school children.

And, of course, there will be the obligatory hand-wringing, praying, commiserating and statements by everyone deploring this heinous act.

And there will be deafening silence from the profiteers, the gun manufacturers, the sellers of ever more easily acquired weapons of destruction and the deluded populace who think that having a weapon makes them safe. They may be temporarily a bit safer than those of us who do not tote a machine gun or make one according to the newly detailed plans available to anyone who can use a computer … Sooner or later, we too will be in a place where someone with a hate disorder decides to pepper a crowd we are in and to mow down as many innocent people as possible, in as short a time as possible.

There are enough among us with such problems, and identifying them is not so easy. We could work out a profile of a school-shooter, perhaps, but we could do nothing until he* (and it usually IS a “he”) decides to act. And then it is almost impossible to know where, or at what time, or against whom he will strike.

And he will be armed. Not with a single-shot gun or even a six-shooter – but with an assault weapon that can kill dozens of people in seconds. And spare rounds, as many as he can carry or afford … If you do not happen to be sitting in an armored tank, you will have no defense, even if you do have a gun tucked away in a pocket or holster. So, let’s admit that we will not, in the foreseeable future, wipe out all such assaults.

But we can HUGELY reduce the number of victims, if we immediately begin getting assault weapons and their ammo off our streets, out of the hands of the general public, and stand up and say NO ONE needs such weapons for self-defense. Yes, gangs will probably manage to have some, but the statistics seem to show that gang members are more likely to use them on rival gang members than on us.

In a society as steeped in violence as ours, where WAR is the main response to everything we want to fix (the war on drugs, the war on opioids, the war on everything else …), it will take time and effort to eradicate our love affair with killing.

But at least we can save some lives now, while we tackle the big problem: US. There are no quick fixes, and our education system is not at present geared to begin the tasks of teaching our children how to get along, how to respect and protect others, all the time. But we have started the job, and I hope it will happen soon enough for me to see it. (I am 87, so it better be soon!!)

My America? Eighth USA school shooting in 2018! Majority of Americans want more gun control! Stop the madness, Congress and President Trump!!

By Rosalie Tirella

Our hearts break! We pray for Parkland! Another American school shooting! The 8th of 2018 – and it is only FEBRUARY! Schools, the learning, sports, arts and emotional hubs of so many communities are under siege, and our feckless Congress, the empty Trump, hundreds of our state/local pols do NOTHING! DO NOT LISTEN TO THE PEOPLE THEY WERE ELECTED TO REPRESENT!

Kids, parents, teachers, coaches, lunch ladies, janitors … coming together in their Florida high school yesterday to do the quintessential American thing: EDUCATE ALL American kids! Girls, kids of color, kids with special emotional or physical challenges, rich, very poor, brilliant and not brilliant. All American kids have the American right to free public education! And TO BE INSPIRED BY GREAT TEACHERS/STAFF … DO SPORTS … REVEL IN MUSIC, PAINTING, CREATING ART … FIND AND PURSUE THEIR PERSONAL PASSIONS! And, yes, come together to have plain ol’ fun!

Do you remember high school and junior high? I do! The great Worcester Public Schools! K through 12, for me! Providence Street Junior High, Burncoat Senior High … lot of books but a lot of friends, movies, pizza parties, joking around, being silly, hanging out listening to rock n roll, too! Kids and adventures I’ll never forget, courtesy of the grand old Worcester Public Schools. Years later I would become – for a few years – a substitute teacher in the Worcester Public Schools. A different perspective! What cool kids – many struggling, needing guidance and nurturing but still open to the love and learning you get in all great schools! So many good teachers and teacher’s aides – and lunch ladies and coaches – all so dedicated to their kids and our community!

It was the same in Parkland! But yesterday in that Florida high school – a revered American space – lives ended. Worlds were shattered.

What will it take for President Trump and the Republicans in Congress to stop caving to the politically powerful NRA AND LISTEN TO THE MAJORITY OF AMERICANS?

Americans want stricter gun laws – not more loopholes! Is being re-elected really so important to scores of mediocre politicians?! “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country!” – President John F. Kennedy said that. Do you think President Kennedy and brother Bobby (Attorney General) would lead like sicko Trumpo and our gutless Congress? Let our kids die? Die horrific deaths? By assault weapons – like soldiers in battlefields.

American kids aren’t in a war.

American kids aren’t expendable.

AMERICAN STUDENTS MUST NOT DIE WALKING TO SCHOOL, STUDYING ALGEBRA, KIDDING AROUND WITH THEIR BUDDIES IN ENGLISH CLASS… THE MADNESS MUST STOP! Grieving American families don’t quit grieving – ever. Once the TV cameras are turned off and the news vans drive off they hurt forever, think of their dead sons and daughters every day.

Trump’s response to yesterday’s carnage? Ho hum…nothing new to see here. I am sure he will use the tragedy to defend and get in even better with the NRA. He will push for a plethora of guns in ALL our schools! Trump wants every American teacher, school principal, music instructor armed. Carrying a concealed weapon they may be too terrified – or unwilling! – to fire. The obscenity of it all.

I’m certain President Trump will put his big ugly foot in our hearts and slosh it around – make the families, all Americans, hurt even more with his incoherent, emotionally fucked-up, off-the-cuff remarks given after he reads his official statement off the official White House teleprompter. And his asinine, evil Tweets will bring more pain…

Pray for Parkland.

Pray for America.

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From the GUARDIAN. PLEASE CLICK ON THE LINK TO THIS TERRIFIC UK WEBSITE (under “FAVORITES”!) to learn more!

We’ve made some sentences bold. We pray for the dead children and their coach … and their grieving families and community. Their lives will never be the same! – Rose T.

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How many US school shootings have there been in 2018 so far?

Attack on a Florida high school is the eighth shooting to have resulted in death or injury during the first seven weeks of the year.

Break the cycle: it’s time to end America’s gun violence epidemic
Lois Beckett in New York @loisbeckett

Thu 15 Feb 2018

Just seven weeks into 2018, there have been eight shootings at US schools that have resulted in injury or death.

Seventeen people have been confirmed dead in the latest shooting in Parkland, Florida, on Valentine’s Day.

Less than a month ago, a 15-year-old student opened fire at a high school in Kentucky, leaving two students dead and 18 injured. Other incidents have been grave, but on a smaller scale.

In early February, one student in Los Angeles was shot in the head, and another in the arm, when a gun concealed in a fellow student’s backpack went off.

The congressman Bill Nelson, a Democrat of Florida, said on Wednesday afternoon: “Are we coming to expect these mass shootings to be routine? And then after every one we say ‘enough is enough’ and then it continues to happen?”

Congress has refused to tighten restrictions on gun ownership, even after 20 children and six educators were massacred in 2012 in Sandy Hook elementary school in Connecticut.

“We’re lessening the threshold of how crazy someone needs to be to commit a mass shooting,” Austin Eubanks, who survived the 1999 shooting at Columbine high school, told the Guardian last fall.

He was speaking in the wake of catastrophic Las Vegas shooting, where a depressed man took up position high up in a hotel, with a large arsenal of guns and ammunition, and sprayed bullets upon a music concert audience, killing 58 and injuring more than 800. Eubanks said he had watched an increasing pace of mass shootings across the US, in schools and elsewhere, with fear and anxiety.

The fifth anniversary of the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting last December passed in subdued fashion, with congressional Republicans refusing to pass new gun control laws and instead pushing for a law that would weaken gun restrictions nationwide and make it easier to carry a concealed weapon across state lines. Donald Trump won the White House campaigning on a promise to support the National Rifle Association (NRA), the influential gun rights group, and oppose any limits to Americans’ right to own guns.

In all, guns have been fired on school property in the US at least 18 times so far this year, according to incidents tracked by Everytown for Gun Safety, a gun control group. In eight of these cases, a gun was fired on school property, but no one was injured. Another two incidents were gun suicides, claiming the lives of one student and one adult on school property.

The repeated tragedies and frightening incidents continue to spark deeply divided political responses, with some Americans urging tighter laws on gun sales and ownership and others advocating for putting more armed guards in schools, or making it easier for teachers and parents to carry their own concealed weapons.

Experts caution that the toll of gun violence on children and teenagers falls heaviest outside of schools. Youngsters are much more likely to be shot in their own homes or neighborhoods than at school, according to research by the school safety expert Dewey Cornell.

But the emotional impact of school shootings has sparked a booming school safety industry. In 2017, the market for security equipment in the education sector was estimated at $2.68bn, according to industry analysts at IHS Markit. Some companies have capitalized on parents’ fears by selling bulletproof backpacks or whiteboards, as well as offering ways to fortify school buildings themselves against attack.

While refusing to pass substantive gun control restrictions, Congress has approved hundreds of millions of dollars in federal spending to help put police officers in public schools, including $45m in 2013, the year after the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting.

Some gun rights advocates have pushed to expand gun-carrying in schools further. Andrew McDaniel, a state legislator in Missouri who introduced legislation last year to make it easier to carry guns in schools, told the Guardian that, in rural schools where it might take 20 or 30 minutes for law enforcement to respond to a school shooting in progress, it made sense to have other armed citizens ready to step in.

Happy Valentine’s💕 Day!

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pic: R.T.

Perfection:

🎵🎵🎵🎵🎵🎵🎵🎵🎵

A different kind of Valentine/maybe the same kind of Valentine💜:

Today is ASH WEDNESDAY, the first day of Lent. Go to church – get your forehead smudged … “Prepare ye the way of the Lord!”

John the Baptist baptizes!

✝✝✝✝✝✝✝✝✝✝✝

And remember, it’s BLACK HISTORY MONTH. WHM is FREE ALL FEBRUARY!

Worcester Historical Museum
30 Elm St., Worcester

This Sunday:

February 18

1:30 p.m. – 4 p.m.

Celebrating African American History Month!

Communities of Color Seen Through a Different Lens:

Frederick Douglass to Black Lives Matter

A panel discussion with Janine da Silva, Dr. Janette Greenwood, Frank Morrill, Cheryll Toney Holley and
Chuck Arning.

In partnership with the Blackstone National Park Service.

LOVE this portrait! It is breathtakingly beautiful! Michelle Obama, fiery First Lady! Intelligent and righteous First Lady! We miss you!
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Michelle Obama’s official portrait, painted by Amy Sherald. Photograph: Shawn Thew/EPA

How to help ‘man’s best friend’ in the Year of the Dog

(editor’s note: we’ve made some sentences bold.)

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As people around the world prepare to ring in the Year of the Dog, it’s worth noting that for many dogs around the world, the year ahead will be nothing to celebrate. We call them “man’s best friend” while often treating them like our worst enemies. But there are simple steps that all of us can take to help improve their lives.

For starters, stop wearing leather.

PETA’s affiliate in Asia exposed a thriving dog-leather industry in eastern China, in which workers bludgeon dogs, slit their throats and peel off their skin to make gloves and other products that are exported across the globe.

In the video footage, dogs cry out and writhe in agony after being clubbed over the head with a wooden pole, and some struggle to breathe after their throats are cut.

Finally, their skin is torn off.

Many mass-market retailers import cheap Chinese leather — which is often deliberately mislabeled — so there’s no way to tell whose skin you’re really in.

The safest and kindest choice is to shun all leather and choose vegan options instead.

When the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show is on TV, change the channel. Westminster’s promotion of purebreds is not doing dogs any favors. Because of inbreeding and purposely breeding for distorted physical features, approximately one in four purebred dogs suffers from serious congenital disorders such as crippling hip dysplasia, blindness, deafness, heart defects, skin problems and epilepsy.

If your child’s teacher “adopts” an Iditarod musher for the class to track, speak up. Dogs in this race are forced to run nearly 1,000 miles — roughly the distance from Orlando, Florida, to New York City — in under two weeks. That’s about 100 miles every day, with only a few brief periods of rest. They’re subjected to blinding snowstorms, subzero temperatures and treacherous ice.

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Their feet become bruised and bloodied, and many endure pulled muscles and stress fractures.

Some even die, including five in last year’s race and more than 150 since the first Iditarod — and that doesn’t include dogs killed or neglected in the off-season by mushers.

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End the Iditarod!!

Call on Texas A & M University to end cruel experiments on golden retrievers and other dogs (visit PETA.org to find out how).

Eyewitness video footage obtained by PETA shows dogs who were deliberately bred to develop a crippling and painful form of muscular dystrophy. As the disease ravaged their bodies, they struggled to walk, swallow and even breathe. For more than three decades, dogs have wasted away and died in pain in the university’s laboratories, but not one cure or treatment for reversing the course of the condition in humans has resulted.

Adopt — don’t shop.

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Animal shelters are filled to the brim with lovable, affectionate dogs who would make wonderful companions — and their lives depend upon being adopted.

But when people instead buy animals from breeders, classified ads or pet stores, those potential homes vanish. If you’re determined to have a specific breed of dog, you can still rescue one in need.

Having a pedigree doesn’t protect dogs from being tossed out like old furniture when they’re no longer wanted, and many purebreds end up at shelters or breed rescue groups.

Once you’ve found your new best friend (at the animal shelter) remember that dogs don’t want to be locked up in crates or confined to lonely backyard pens. They want to be part of the family. Please let them.

When we bring animals into our homes, we have a responsibility to take care of them, to be patient and to love them unconditionally, just as they love us — in spite of chewed-up tables or shredded sofas.

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If you already shower your dog with kindness and respect, good human! But please remember the many other dogs who aren’t so lucky. Speak up for them in this Year of the Dog — and beyond!