More Trees Than There Were 100 Years Ago? It’s True!

The numbers are in.

In the United States, which contains 8 percent of the world’s forests, there are more trees than there were 100 years ago. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), “Forest growth nationally has exceeded harvest since the 1940s. The greatest gains have been seen on the East Coast (with average volumes of wood per acre almost doubling since the ’50s) which was the area most heavily logged by European settlers beginning in the 1600s, soon after their arrival.

As a society, we are likely in the middle of our cultural (and scientific understanding) of the value of forests. The history of conservation in this country is still young, after all. According to Chuck Leavell, director of Environmental Affairs at MNN and a tree farmer, “It was during the Theodore Roosevelt administration that conservation began to take hold, and along with Roosevelt, figures like Gifford Pinchot, John Muir and others began to warn Americans about overuse of our natural resources. Eventually, programs were put into place that encouraged landowners to plant trees … in some cases encouraging farmers to convert some of their farm lands into forests.”

That makes for some happy tree-huggers out there!

Source: http://www.mnn.com

 

Toys R Us Launches “Be A Hero For Autism” Fundraising Campaign

Toys“R”Us, Inc. today announced the launch of its nine-week in-store fundraising campaign to benefit Autism Speaks, North America’s largest autism science and advocacy organization. Now through April 30, monetary donations will be collected at all Toys“R”Us® and Babies“R”Us® stores and online at Toysrus.com/AutismSpeaks. Customers who donate $10 or more to Autism Speaks at any Toys“R”Us or Babies“R”Us store will receive a reusable, giraffe-themed shopping bag designed by James Hogarth, a talented artist with autism, while supplies last. To celebrate the fifth consecutive year it has teamed up with Autism Speaks, the company unveiled a new theme, “Be A Hero For Autism,” which highlights the everyday heroism of children affected by the disorder, as well as their caregivers, and those who are helping to find the cause and cure of autism through donating time and money.

In conjunction with the in-store fundraising campaign, the company has also redesigned its dedicated microsite, Toysrus.com/AutismSpeaks, to feature images of children dressed as super-heroes. Throughout the site, customers will be introduced to even more heroes in a special “scrapbook.” This digital album of children with autism highlights their heroic efforts – everyday tasks they have mastered, which are made difficult by the disorder. Featured children include: Hunter, age 9, who learned how to complete a jigsaw puzzle in order to join his family’s favorite pastime; Justin, age 10, who practices his culinary skills as he bakes muffins, among others.

Toysrus.com/AutismSpeaks serves as a year-round resource to parents, caregivers, families and friends of children with autism. Visitors can find a list of “Ten Toys That Speak To Autism,” which provides toy suggestions to help guide anyone purchasing toys for a child with autism, as well as Safe Play Tips designed to help ensure the well-being of children on the spectrum, while encouraging the benefits of play.

Since the partnership began in 2007, Toys“R”Us, Inc., the Toys“R”Us Children’s Fund and customer contributions have combined to provide Autism Speaks with more than $8.4 million. Last year’s in-store and online fundraising campaign raised nearly $1.8 million for Autism Speaks in the U.S. Additionally, Toys“R”Us, Canada will once again lend its support to the cause by collecting donations in its nearly 70 stores and online at Toysrus.ca. Last year, Toys“R”Us Canada raised an additional $600,000 to support Autism Speaks.

Source: http://www.prnewswire.com

Muslims and Christians Together in a New Egypt

The recent protests in Egypt that led to the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak, and their political ramifications, have been covered extensively in the media. But stories of Christian-Muslim solidarity have not been broadcast as widely, and they deserve to be.

During the protests, Christians stood in a circle around Muslims during their Friday prayers to protect them from police. And last Monday, Muslims stood around Christians in Tahrir Square as they conducted mass, and joined them in prayer for those who were injured or died in the protests.

Prior to the demonstrations, there was a growing fear in Egypt that tensions between Muslims and Christians would escalate and culminate in violence. In a preventative effort, Egyptians began to mobilise through a new online initiative called “An Internet Free of Sectarian Strife”, launched by Amr Khaled, who is described by The New York Times as “the world’s most famous and influential Muslim television preacher.” He began the initiative in January after he saw how the Internet was being used to disseminate rumors and agitate tensions between Muslims and Christians in the country.

Word of the initiative spread quickly, and it has proven very popular among Egyptian youth primarily because of Khaled’s huge following in the country. The roots of this initiative began with his lectures in 1998, after years of terrorist incidents claimed the lives of innocent people and religious bigotry began spreading among groups that were adopting extremist interpretations of Islam.

Many have found messages of balance and harmony in the young, dynamic preacher’s rhetoric, which are all too rare in other speakers’ lectures. Between 2000 and 2002, his lectures – mainly about tolerance in Islam – were being attended by audiences of 35,000. Today, his Facebook page has around two million friends and his lectures are watched by millions across the Muslim world. It is clear that youth are playing a key role in the initiative’s implementation and development.

The initiative’s main partners are influential media outlets in Egypt and the Arab world. They have identified ten basic items that they hope will become “rules for internet users and a code of honour for Internet media outlets to abide by.” The rules are to not use the following: blanket generalisations, foul language; rumours without credible sources, sarcasm, videos that could enflame tensions and violent or hateful fatwas (non-binding legal opinions). The rules also encourage words of peace and compassion, respect for others’ faith and disagreement with ideas, but respect for individuals. Finally, partners have agreed that users should never post their opinions while angry.

Khaled’s positive initiative is an important first step to address the core causes of extremism that lead to sectarian tension. The solidarity amongst Muslims and Christians during the recent protests shows that both groups can overcome divisions, and offers new hope that coexistence and religious equality can be the foundation of a new Egypt.

Source: http://www.commongroundnews.org (Yasser Khalil)

Trivia Saves Lives! — Animated ‘Real or UnReal’ Quiz Raises Money for Charity with Fun Factoids

Every correct answer earns 1 day of safe drinking water for a child in Africa through charity partner Blood:Water Mission.

A new and addictive trivia game from the Webby-honored government blog OhMyGov.com gives people the power to save lives. The “Real or UnReal” game (http://ohmygov.com/pages/realunreal.aspx) presents factoids taken from breaking news, political history, science and technology, and the strange-but-true stories of government that OhMyGov is known for, and asks readers to cast their vote: Are they Real or UnReal? For every correct guess, OhMyGov donates funds to its charity partner, Blood:Water Mission, to provide one day’s worth of safe drinking water for a child in Africa.

Already, during the game’s pilot phase, over 10,000 days of safe drinking water have been earned. Correct clicks turn into dollars donated by OhMyGov, which go directly toward projects by Blood:Water Mission to reduce disease and provide a hopeful future by giving communities access to safe, potable water. Real or UnReal is entirely web-based and can be played on a variety of devices, including iPads and iPhones – perfect for spicing up long commutes, waiting-room delays, and dull office meetings. The animated game features a water truck that fills up with every correct click, and a calendar marking off your progress toward a month of safe, clean water.

OhMyGov’s charitable partner, Blood:Water Mission, has provided locally relevant water solutions to over 600,000 people in 11 countries across sub-Saharan Africa. Founded in 2005 by the GRAMMY Award-winning band, Jars of Clay, Blood:Water Mission has worked  with over 1000 local communities to construct wells, rehabilitate springs, and promote rain tanks. “As a grassroots organization, we are fueled by the passions and creativity of others to impact the lives of our friends in Africa,” explains Mike Lenda, US Programs Director for Blood:Water Mission. “Real or UnReal invites those who enjoy the challenge of putting their knowledge to the test to creatively make a real difference in the lives of others.”

About OhMyGov

Founded in 2007, OhMyGov.com is the news arm of OhMyGov Inc., a media and technology firm that helps governments navigate the new media landscape through advanced analytics, tools and training. OhMyGov Inc. is privately held, with backing from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Virginia-based investment group New Dominion Angels.

About Blood:Water Mission

Blood:Water Mission (http://bloodwatermission.com) is a non-profit organization based in Nashville, TN, established to empower community to work together against the HIV/AIDS & water crises in sub-Saharan Africa through creative grassroots efforts.  Founded in 2005 by the multi-platinum, GRAMMY Award-winning band, Jars of Clay, Blood:Water Mission has provided safe water access through locally relevant water solutions to over 600,000 people in 1000 communities and access to health care for thousands living with HIV/AIDS through clinics and community health care.

Source: http://www.ohmygov.com

81-Year-Old Midwife on a Mission

Every time Ruth Lubic fusses over a healthy baby, the joy in her voice comes from eight long years of beating the odds. Washington, D.C.’s infant mortality rate is almost double the national average. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of infant deaths per 1,000 births in the United States is 6.8 – but in Washington, it’s 12.2.

Lubic and her team of midwives run a birthing clinic in one of the city’s poorest areas. After 800 babies in eight years, they have never lost a child in childbirth, and have cut the rate of premature births – the biggest risk factor for infant mortality – in half.

Ruth built her clinic in Washington, D.C., on purpose. She figured if her ideas worked there, if she could tackle infant mortality in Washington, she’d set an example everywhere. Her approach is simple. She believes low-income women, many on Medicaid, need the prenatal education that midwives provide – everything from posture, to nutrition, to how the baby grows.

What’s most remarkable is that Lubic still does it at 81-years-old. Lubic’s biggest fan is D.C. city councilman David Catania. He says because she keeps hundreds of babies out of prenatal care, she saves the city around $1 million a year. That’s why he supports her when Ruth hounds the city council for funding. “While I tease her a lot about being a pit bull with a smile, I look at her sometimes with complete envy about how you can have such a burning drive at 81,” Catania said. “And it’s a great inspiration.” Lubic says infant mortality is a national disgrace, but a disgrace that midwives can help solve. And this pit bull with a smile won’t let go of that idea until it sinks in nationwide.

Source: http://www.cbsnews.com