Let’s Get Them Home

Fundraiser by Charlotte Maxwell-Jones

$273,676 raised of $400,000 goal ● 4.7K donors

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Charlotte Maxwell-Jones is organizing this fundraiser to benefit Kabul Small Animal Rescue (Ksar).   In August of this year, the Kabul Small Animal Rescue tried to evacuate, and like tens of thousands of others, we were not able to. Worse, our dogs were seized against our will by the US military, troops we believed were there to protect us, and released onto the grounds of the Kabul airport, which they knew would be taken over hours later by the Taliban forces they had been fighting for two decades.
We did not give up, and despite the unforgivable and unnecessary deaths of many of our animals on the airport grounds, deaths that will always break our hearts, our staff worked constantly to recover the animals we were able to, provide care for those taken into custody at the airport, and sustain the many dogs, cats, tortoises, peacocks, and parrots that came into our shelter over the last three months. We have mustered our courage and made cordial relationships with the Taliban-led government, from whom we have seen far more compassion and humanity for our animals than was extended to us during the August withdrawal. With the help of many people who don’t sleep, we were granted an OFAC license to continue our work as a non-profit in Afghanistan, and we will continue working here for as long as it is safe to do so. To continue this life-saving work, we must evacuate the animals filling our shelter to their homes and rescues worldwide.
The majority of the funds raised for the planned August-withdrawal were saved for the evacuation flights, but much has been spent in these three months as prices for all food and medicine have tripled, and we have hired surge staffing to assist with the increased animal population. We are now asking that you help us with the final costs needed for our animal evacuation flights, $400,000 USD, which will go directly to the costs of the long-haul flight and the transit care for our 300+ animals in Dubai. With enormous gratitude to the Taliban leadership for kindness, compassion, and patience, KSAR has been granted permission to export the dogs and cats in our care, and we plan on wheels up within the next two weeks. We need your help to complete this massive effort. We will not leave behind those that cannot protect themselves, those we are responsible for. DonateShare


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Charlotte Maxwell-Jones OrganizerMinneapolis, MN

Kabul Small Animal Rescue (Ksar) Registered nonprofitDonations are typically 100% tax deductible in the US.Learn more

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Buyer Beware: GMO Rebranded as ‘Bioengineered’, Selectively Shows Up on New US Food Labels

Chemical Free Life

You are likely aware that over the past decade ‘GMO’ or ‘genetically-modified’ food has gained a tarnished reputation among many U.S. consumers. But Big Ag, Big Food and their champions in the U.S. Federal Government have found a way to get around that bugaboo.  They have rebranded and renamed GMO foods to “Bioengineered” foods in the hopes that U.S. consumers can be tricked*.  In fact, starting on Jan. 1, 2022, U.S. consumers have begun to see labels on selected foods that say “bioengineered” or “derived from bioengineering,” (aka GMO) as the new federal law takes effect.  U.S. food manufacturers, importers and retailers must comply with this new national labeling standard for selected foods that have been genetically modified in a way that is not possible through natural growth.

Critics of the new law say the rules devised by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will actually confuse consumers further about…

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Lovely in Solitude


Lovely in Solitude

Haniya Javed 8 – 10 minutes

In Pakistan, a snow leopard in captivity highlights the plight of her species.

Our 4×4 truck bumps over boulders and splashes through streams as it drives further into the deep forest of Naltar Valley in Pakistan’s Gilgit-Baltistan region. This area is popular for its alpine ski slopes, mountain glaciers, green meadows, and vibrant lakes. But today, our guide has promised us a view of one of the Himalaya’s more hidden natural wonders.

We’re on our way to see a snow leopard.

Our bumpy ride comes to a halt in a clearing of trimmed grass scattered with pine cones. Tall trees cast shadows on the hot summer day and wave in an intermittent breeze.

We get out of the car, stretch our limbs, and make our way to a caged enclosure, where a bearded man named Ghulam Rasool greets us. He then turns toward the cage, makes kissing noises, and calls out, “Meri Lovely (My Lovely.)” Lovely, known locally as Lolly, looks away uninterested, her spotted black and white back towards the crowd. “She’s well fed at the moment,” says Rasool. “She growls and responds when she wants food. She’s a good girl.”

As more tourists arrive and the chatter gets louder, Lovely lets out a low rumble. It’s a faintly audible growl from deep within her body — nothing like the roar seen and heard in popular media. She turns her head and briefly scans the commotion, opens her mouth to show sharp canines, and then looks away again, back into her own world.

Lovely is a nine-year-old snow leopard who spends day and night alone, with no other animals of her kind. The only change in her life are her two habitats. In the winter, when snow blankets the valley and snow leopards look for food and mates, their fur keeping them warm and broad paws working as snowshoes, Lovely is kept in a cage near a ski resort. When the snow melts away, she’s brought into the lush green valley where tourists visit her. She has never hunted or mated. Nor will she be able to.

“Lovely’s only utility at the moment is recreation,” said Hussain Ali regional program manager of the Snow Leopard Foundation. “Since she didn’t receive the early days training of hunting and survival from her mother her chances of survival on her own are nil.”

As I watch Lovely in her cage, I’m struck by the paradox this big cat represents. Snow leopards belong in the wild, but Lovely’s captivity affords tourists the ability to see a snow leopard up close, to learn about this predator’s plight. This cage is also her blessing, in a region where snow leopards are losing habitat and the mountains they call home are becoming more and more inhospitable. As Ali says, without her captivity, Lovely would likely be dead.

Snow leopards populate the mountain ranges of 12 countries across Central and South Asia. Scientists estimate that fewer than 6,400 snow leopards inhabit an estimated area of 1.8 million square kilometers. Their habitat is threatened by development and land degradation. Snow leopards are also killed by pastoralists who see the big cats as predatory threats to their livestock. According to a report from the World Wildlife Fund, an estimated 450 snow leopards are killed each year.

In Pakistan, as part of a recent habitat sampling, it has been estimated that there could be as few as 40 snow leopards, far fewer than previous estimates of around 420 cats. However, experts believe that more than 70 percent of the world’s snow leopard habitats are still unknown — and many of these habitats may be situated in Pakistan. Either way, saving and conserving every snow leopard is important.

But in Lovely’s case, saving her meant taking her from the wild. In December 2012, volunteers from the Khunjerab Villagers Organization (KVO), a community-based nonprofit working for wildlife conservation, were on a routine stroll around Khunjerab National Park, more than 100 kilometers from Lovely’s present location. Upon reaching the Khunjerab River, the volunteers spotted a female snow leopard perched against the backdrop of the snowy mountains, gazing into the far distance.

The volunteers instantly took out their camera and began to film. After all, these elusive big cats rarely showed themselves. In the footage shared by the volunteers, the snow leopard sits still, her translucent gaze mirroring the breathtaking views around her. She looks below the line of the camera facing her and then switches her gaze upward on her left. Then, for a split second, she looks squarely into the lens of the camera.

While the volunteers watched her make these repeated motions, they heard a low cat-like whimper from below. They looked down to find a cub by the riverbank, its foot stuck in the icy slush. The cub, hardly a month or two old, appeared to be frozen.

“The mother snow leopard was watching the cub from atop,” said Mubat Karim Gircha, office manager at KVO. In the video, the mother snow leopard starts climbing up hill, looks one last look behind, and disappears from sight. “The mother was crossing the river along with her two cubs. One of the cubs made it across and went its way climbing up. The other one, Lovely, was left frozen along the bank,” he said.

After the mother left, torn between her concern for the two cubs in opposing directions, the volunteers, along with representatives from the provincial wildlife department, took the cub to a nearby wildlife check post. A small fire was lit and goat’s milk was fed to the cub.

The next evening, officials from the Snow Leopard Foundation, including Hussain Ali, visited the site and inspected the snow leopard’s condition. “It was in good health,” said Ali. “We scanned the area and tried locating the tracks of the mother. The cub [inside the cage] was left outside for four to five hours in the hopes that the mother may come looking for her,” he said, adding that it didn’t work. “The local community and volunteers were extremely anxious that the cub would die if left on its own in the wild. Hence, there was no option but to keep it in captivity inside a sanctuary.”

Lovely isn’t the only case of a captured snow leopard living a lonely life. One prominent case is Leo, who currently resides in the Bronx Zoo in New York City. In 2005, Leo was recovered from a shepherd in Naltar Valley and moved temporarily to New York as part of a memorandum of understanding signed between the World Conservation Society and the Gilgit-Baltistan administration.

Another case is the tragic tale of snow leopard, Sohni, who died in captivity three years ago in a zoo in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. Sohni was originally gifted to the son of Shahbaz Sharif, brother of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, and had been living a life of isolation and neglect.

Lovely isn’t neglected, but she could be taken care of in a better way. If anything, her presence is a reminder that we have work to do when it comes to learning how to coexist with these big cats. As excited kids poke their fingers through the cage to get a reaction from Lovely and adults gather against the enclosure to pose for a selfie with her in the background, one can’t help but think about how circumscribed this beautiful creature’s life is here. When the numbers of her species are depleting for so many reasons, and little is known about those very numbers due to unchartered areas of research, Lovely stands as a reminder of the wild leopards we should strive to protect.

Haniya Javed

Haniya Javed is an independent reporter from Pakistan covering the environment, human rights, and labor migrations. She tweets @haniyajaved1.

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Stop Slaughtering Dogs and Cats for Meat – ForceChange


Posted by Tiffany White

Target: Yasonna Hamonangan Laoly, Minister of Law for Indonesia

Goal: Work for a national ban on the dog and cat meat trade.

Over four dozen dogs were rescued from an alleged dog butcher in Indonesia. They were the lucky ones. Around one million fellow canines become part of the country’s still-existing dog meat trade annually. The animals endure brutal captures and grueling trips crammed into cages, deprived of their ability to even open their mouths. These cruel incidents are just the beginning. Once the dogs reach their final destinations they await slaughter, spectators to the horrors that will soon befall them. Those horrors include bludgeoning and burning. Sometimes, the dogs are still alive for the last sick step in the ritual.

Indonesia has made weak attempts to curb the practice of butchering dogs, which mostly now exists in more rural regions of the country. They banned the consumption of dog meat and made stronger penalties for dog trafficking. A few areas have also made selling dog meat illegal. Yet a national ban on the dog meat trade (and cat meat trade) has not been pursued, despite repeated calls from animal rights activists.

Sign the petition below to urge Indonesian leaders to take this decisive step that could abolish a pervasive form of mass animal torture and cruelty once and for all.


Dear Minister Laoly,

Indonesian leadership must recognize the brutality of the dog and cat meat trade, as recent court rulings and bans on consumption and trafficking have indicated. Yet the practice still remains widespread due to lax enforcement of existing rules and a complete lack of prohibition of these trades at the national level. As a result, horrific videos depicting the sick realities of the industry continue to emerge and enrage individuals across the country and around the world.

Please listen to the calls from these concerned citizens for a national ban on industries that trade in unimaginable cruelty and slaughter.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Pranidchakan Boonrom


We Still Haven’t Properly Reckoned With Monsanto’s Destruction


Tom Philpott 3 days ago

Once the lion of U.S. agriculture, Monsanto skulked off the historical stage and into the maw of its longtime rival Bayer, the sprawling German conglomerate, in 2018. The takeover marked a quiet exit for one the 21st century’s most controversial corporations—one that became embroiled in a pay-for-research academic scandal that made the New York Times’ front page, triggered an annual global “March against Monsanto” in the 2010s, and generated two massive sets of lawsuits regarding its blockbuster herbicides, glyphosate and dicamba.

The brand and most of the media frenzy around Monsanto have evaporated, but the products that made the company worth $66 billion at the time of its sale linger. Glyphosate, whether carcinogenic or not—the question remains fiercely debated—turns up in rain and streams near farm fields, in grain-based food products like cereal and pasta, and probably in your body. In 2021, farmer complaints about off-target damage from dicamba raged through farm country for the sixth straight year. Seeds genetically altered by the company’s technicians to withstand those chemicals still proliferate in fields, in three crops (corn, soybeans, and cotton) that collectively cover more than half of U.S. farmland. These commodities form the material basis of our food supply: the feed for meat animals, and the sweeteners, fats, and thickeners that make processed foods so irresistible.

What was Monsanto—how did it claw its way to such a central place in the food system, and what does its continued existence as an appendage of a German multinational corporation mean for our sustenance and the natural resources it relies on?

In his new book, Seed Money: Monsanto’s Past and Our Food Future, Bartow J. Elmore has delivered the definitive historical account of a firm with a momentous history and an afterlife that makes it as relevant as ever. An environmental and business historian at Ohio State University, Elmore wrote Seed Money for a nonacademic audience—in clear, brisk prose, with an eye for the telling anecdote.

The story starts in the early century, when a drug salesman named John Queeny dreamed of launching a U.S. firm that could break the dominance of German giants like (ironically) Bayer in budding field of synthetic organic chemistry, which involved synthesizing old and inventing new compounds with fossil carbon sources like coal and petroleum. Queeny’s startup, named for his wife, Olga Mendez Monsanto, a descendent of European aristocrats, found a lucrative business line selling saccharin and caffeine to Coca-Cola. It soon shifted to industrial chemicals.

The year 1997 marks a pivotal moment in Elmore’s tale. At that point, Monsanto was a conglomerate with legacy industrial-chemicals business lines that had generated billions of dollars in profits over the decades, but were then mired in lawsuits over toxicity claims. The company’s executives cannily decided to bundle the troublesome divisions into a new firm called Solutia, spinning it out as an independent company whose assets included facilities used to make polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, the highly toxic, environmentally persistent industrial chemicals; and Agent Orange, the grizzly defoliant used by the U.S. military at a vast scale—and great profit to Monsanto—during the Vietnam War. Monsanto “saddled the spinoff with $1 billion in debt and major environmental liabilities,” Elmore reports. Then its executives pitched the remnant as a reborn company based on “Food, Faith, Hope”—which became an instant stock market darling.

To the very end, the company and its boosters would cling to the distinction between “old” Monsanto, which ruthlessly profited by synthesizing highly poisonous compounds from fossil resources like coal and petroleum, and the “new” one, a virtuous player that used cutting-edge biotechnology to develop the tools necessary to “feed the world.”

From the start, the line between the two was murky. One old-line asset the firm did not palm off on Solutia was its blockbuster glyphosate herbicide. Developed in 1970 by a Monsanto scientist, glyphosate promised a miracle cure to farmers’ weed problems because it killed pretty much all vegetation with seemingly low toxicity to humans. (It works by jamming up plants’ ability to produce an enzyme necessary for making vital amino acids, the building blocks of protein. That’s a strategy for nourishment that plants share with fungi and bacteria, but not insects, birds, fish, or mammals, all of which simply consume protein.)

Branded “Roundup,” for its ability to clean all the weeds from a field, the chemical hit the market in 1974 and became an instant sensation in farm country. Then and now, Roundup production relies on a division deeply rooted in Monsanto’s past as an industrial chemicals titan: its phosphorus-mining operations, first in Florida and Tennessee, and later in Idaho. In these regions, “millions of years ago, aquatic creatures once roamed inland seas,” Elmore writes. “Now, these phosphorous-rich bones would seed a new chemical industry.” Monsanto had turned these deposits into a blockbuster business line by selling phosphate-laced detergents, which by the 1960s had come under attack for polluting waterways because phosphorus feeds algae blooms. With the creation of Roundup—which relies on phosphate as a key ingredient—Monsanto exited the detergent business and shunted the output of its Idaho mines into the new herbicide.

In the early 1980s, with legal liabilities from its PCB and Agent Orange operations mounting, petroleum prices skyrocketing, and oil firms big-footing their way into the chemical trade, Monsanto execs decided it was time for a change. That’s when the firm made its foray into the emerging field of seed biotechnology, in search of product lines that were “less dependent on raw material costs” and had a “strong proprietary character,” Elmore reports, quoting a company honcho in 1982.

The new division’s great goal was to engineer crops that could withstand Roundup, which would allow farmers to spray the chemical on their fields throughout the growing season. The Roundup Ready line of seeds—developed from genes found in bacteria outside of Monsanto’s Louisiana glyphosate factory—took U.S. farm country by storm starting in the mid-1990s, proliferating in three pervasive crops: corn, soybeans, and cotton. This caused Roundup sales to spike and opened a new, highly profitable revenue stream: premium-priced, patent-protected seeds. The triumph pushed the new Monsanto into the stratosphere, with a dominant position in the seed trade and a thriving herbicide division to boot.

Robert Shapiro, the CEO who guided the company through the Solutia spinoff and into its biotech future, positioned the company as an information technology player, a kind of cornfield Microsoft. He promised to a confab of environmental journalists in 1995 that Roundup Ready tech would enable farmers to reduce herbicide use because Monsanto’s product would sort out their weed problems. “Putting information in the gene of a plant,” he declared, would stifle the cascade of chemicals unleashed by the post–World War II rise of industrial agriculture and lead to a new era of high-tech, low-impact farming.

By 2008, the company had risen to a position of supremacy over U.S. farm fields, its soybean, corn, and cotton traits having gained near-monopoly status and Roundup sales booming. Responding to real and imagined concerns about the triumph of genetically modified crops, as well as mounting evidence that climate change would imperil global food production, Monsanto positioned itself as the corporation with the key to feeding humanity and staving off global hunger. The company issued a press release promising to “double yield in its three core crops of corn, soybeans and cotton by 2030, compared to a base year of 2000,” while also reducing by one-third the amount of water and fertilizer required to grow them.

But as Elmore amply demonstrates, “the ‘new’ Monsanto was not actually all that new.” Its fate remained tethered to the production of a chemical based on fossil resources—mined phosphate—buried deep underground, and on the ability of that chemical to be copiously sprayed across vast swaths of the landscape, with hope it wouldn’t cause harm.

Seed Money documents in devastating detail the consequences of that triumph: the highly predictable (but denied for years by Monsanto) rise of weeds that evolved to resist Roundup, credible suspicions that Roundup is more toxic than the company originally let on, the deluge of older and more toxic herbicides that were deployed in a futile attempt to control those superweeds, and a festering legal dispute over the company’s phosphate mines in Idaho, which have “contaminated soil and groundwater with hazardous chemicals and radioactive constituents,” as the Environmental Protection Agency has found.

As for the 2008 promise that Monsanto’s wonder seeds would double yields while cutting fertilizer and water use by 2030? The company never came close. A 2020 Purdue University assessment found “little to no evidence” that GMO traits have done anything to boost yields since their introduction in the mid-1990s. Indeed, the “new” Monsanto exited the stage in much the same shape as the “old” one: facing billions of dollars of legal liabilities for its products, which are now Bayer’s problem.

Seed Money brims with startling details about this storied company. But here’s the most eye-popping of all: The company that knowingly marketing PCBs, long after evidence mounted of their harms, didn’t really change its stripes when it metamorphosed into an agribusiness titan with ambitions of feeding the world with its products.

The company’s PCB and Agent Orange operations have been shuttered for decades (though the human ravages they caused linger), but its agribusiness operations, including those Roundup-supplying phosphate mines in Idaho, continue as usual, meaning the firm still relies on dirty fossil resources.

And Monsanto knew that its latest troublesome herbicide, a version of dicamba specially formulated for use on its patented soybean and cotton crops, would likely drift off-target, internal documents show. (According to reporting by the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting, Monsanto and Bayer insist that “when applied according to the label, dicamba stays on target and is an effective tool for farmers.”) Bayer continues to aggressively market the chemical, even as drift damage continues. And it is now vowing to deliver soybeans engineered to withstand no fewer than five herbicides, including both dicamba and Roundup.

Elmore’s book provides the last word we need on Monsanto’s past. But the story of its impact on U.S. farm fields, and the communities near them, is far from over.

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